What is China’s real gold demand? — Lawrie Williams

There is a huge disparity between what the Chinese Central Bank apparently sees as gold demand and that estimated/calculated by the global analytical community. The figures seem to be continually diverging and here we utilise known official data to draw our own conclusions as to what the real figures might be.
As a base we are assuming that supply to the market is roughly balanced by demand. There is an element of well substantiated data from Chinese and non-Chinese sources available which may give us a fairly good idea of the minimum supply levels potentially available to Chinese consumers. But given China’s non-reporting of direct gold imports this certainly does not present anything like a full picture.
First we have China’s domestic gold output which this year is estimated to reach perhaps 480 tonnes. Secondly we have net gold imports via Hong Kong. The Hong Kong Statistical office reports these on a monthly basis in a throwback to the Special Administrative Region’s former British-based bureaucracy, and net exports from this source to the Chinese mainland by the end of August totalled 485 tonnes, and given the tail end of the year usually produces some strong figures, a conservative estimate for this year’s total net gold imports from Hong Kong would be around 650 tonnes.
But there’s more. Switzerland exports gold both to Hong Kong and directly to mainland China, as does the UK. Recent changes in China’s permitted import routes for gold also mean that nowadays an important part of the gold exports from these countries does go directly to the Chinese mainland, bypassing Hong Kong altogether. For example, the U.K. started exporting gold directly to mainland China from April last year and through to the year end sent a little over 110 tonnes by this route. This year, after zero exports in January and February, it has exported around another 110 tonnes in the following four months to end June so it would not be unreasonable to assume that around 250 tonnes, perhaps more, will flow by this route into mainland China over the full year.

This post was published at LAWRIEONGOLD

 

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