New Delhi : Gold imports witnessed a fall of about 32 per cent to USD 17.7 billion in April-December of the current fiscal, which is expected to keep a lid on the current account deficit.
Total imports of the precious metal in the corresponding period of 2015-16 stood at USD 26.4 billion. According to industry experts, softening prices of the precious metal in the domestic and world markets could be the reason for the same. Cash crunch in the system due to demonetisation also impacted the inbound shipments.
The gold imports dipped by 48.49 per cent to USD 1.96 billion in December, according to the commerce ministry data.
Inward shipment had witnessed fall during February-September this year. It recorded a positive growth in October and November.
The contraction in the imports helped in narrowing the trade deficit to about USD 76.54 billion in April-December period as against USD 100 billion in the same period previous year. India is one of the largest gold importers in the world, and the imports mainly take care of demand from the jewellery industry.
For the full year of 2015-16, CAD stood at USD 22.1 billion, or 1.1 per cent of GDP, as against USD 26.8 billion, or 1.3 per cent, in 2014-15. In volume terms, the country’s total official gold imports declined to 60 tonnes in April-July of this fiscal, much lower than 250 tonnes in the year-ago period. India imported 650 tonnes of gold in 2015-16. The imports remained stable at around 100 tonnes in November despite fall in sales of jewellery due to the cash crunch following demonetisation. According to experts, the rural demand is affected due to the currency shortage after restriction on withdrawal of Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes announced on November 8.