India's gold imports bounced back to 1,067.72 tonnes in 2021 from 430.11 tonnes during 2020 when the demand was hit due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Gem Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) said on Thursday.
The gold imports in 2021 were up by 27.66 per cent from 836.38 tonnes during 2019, it said in a statement. The maximum quantity of gold was imported from Switzerland at 469.66 tonnes, followed by UAE (120.16 tonnes), South Africa (71.68 tonnes) and Guinea (58.72 tonnes) in 2021, it added.
Along with China, India is by far the world's largest importer and consumer of gold. According to GJEPC Chairman Colin Shah, ''About 1,067 tonnes of gold import in 2021 can be attributed to the abnormal pandemic situation a year prior when imports had nosedived to 430.11 tonnes''.
The past decade has seen India's gold imports coming close to the year-prior figure.
For instance, the quantity of gold imported in 2021 is comparable to gold imports of 1,047 tonnes in 2015 and 1,032 tonnes in 2017, he said. India’s average monthly gold imports during April-February of 2021-22 fiscal stood at 76.57 tonnes, which is relatively at par with the average gold imports that was undertaken in the same period in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
During April-February this fiscal, gold imports stood at 842.28 tonnes, which is below the usual imports in the same period i.e. ranging from 690 to 890 tonnes.
Overall, there isn’t much deviation in the gold imported in January and February 2022 from the average imports of gold in quantity and value terms during the same period in the previous three normal years -- 2017-2018, 2018-2019 and 2019-2020, GJEPC added.
In the case of exports, gold jewellery shipments from India rose 50 per cent to USD 8,807.50 million in 2021 on a sharp rise in demand for studded gold jewellery.
The country had exported gold jewellery valuing $5,876.39 million in the previous year.
GJEPC said the industry is witnessing a surge in exports and domestic sales of gold jewellery (plain and studded) post-pandemic.
Of the total exports, studded gold jewellery shipments rose sharply to $5,078.83 million in 2021 from $2,508.26 million in the previous year.
Export of plain gold jewellery increased to $3,728.66 million against $33,69.13 million, it noted. GJEPC Chairman said, ''We are witnessing a correction in import/export of gold that was affected due to the pandemic. In 2020, due to the restrictions in key sourcing countries for gold imports, there was a shortage of yellow metal supplied to India, which resulted in de-stocking by the country's jewellery manufacturers."
In 2021, as restrictions eased across various countries, the disrupted supply of gold was corrected and jewellery manufacturers in India could replenish their exhausted stock, he added.
(With inputs from PTI)