India, a nation that accounts for around a fifth of annual global gold demand, has a long history of gold-focused policies. These, however, have often distorted the market rather than achieving policymakers’ aims. Announcements in the Union Budget on 1 February 2018, however, suggest this might change.
Gold demand rallied in the closing months of 2017, gaining 6% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 1,095.8 tonnes (t) in Q4. But it was too little, too late: full year demand fell by 7% to 4,071.7t.
This report covers key stages in the hallmarking journey in order to ascertain what works best in other jurisdictions and how India can maximise the benefits of mandatory hallmarking.
The third quarter saw a 9% year-on-year (y-o-y) drop in gold demand to 915 tonnes (t). Year-to-date (y-t-d) demand was down by 12%. ETFs had another quarter of positive inflows, but at 18.9t, they fell far short of the 144.3t influx in Q3 2016.
With an annual demand of approximately 800-900 tonnes, the size of the Indian gold market is second only to that of China. Despite its significant size and important global position, the Indian gold market is unable to realise its potential due to multiple challenges.
Q2 gold demand of 953.4t was 10% lower than 2016, while H1 demand slowed 14% to 2,003.8t.
On 1st July, India’s labyrinth of taxes will be replaced with a simple, nationwide Goods & Services Tax (GST). This is the biggest fiscal reform since India’s liberalisation in the early 1990s. While gold consumers will face a slightly higher tax rate, and the industry will go through a period of adjustment, we see the net impact on the gold industry as being positive. The gold supply chain should become more transparent and efficient, and the tax reform can boost economic growth, which we see as supporting gold demand.
Global gold demand in Q1 2017 was 1,034.5t. The 18% y-o-y decline suffers from the comparison with Q1 2016, which was the strongest ever first quarter. Inflows into ETFs of 109.1t, although solid, were nonetheless a fraction of last year’s near-record inflows.
A barrage of policy initiatives aimed at purging India of black money and instilling greater transparency rocked India’s economy last year, including its gold market. The most dramatic was the radical decision to demonetise over 15 trillion rupees, around US$220bn.