CHENNAI: Gold imports touched 800 tonnes in 2023, growing 12 per cent over the previous year. However, silver bullion imports fell 63 per cent to 3475 tonnes.
Against 715 tonnes in 2022, gold imports went up to 800 tonnes in 2023, according to Metal Focus. In the month of December, the country imported 54 tonnes, which is more than double of 24 tonnes in December 2022. The festive season demand saw gold imports in October going up to 129 tonnes against 77 tonnes in the same month of 2022. Imports went up to 110 tonnes in June against 53 tonnes in the year-ago month. However, imports in January were as low as 11 tonnes and it was 14 tonnes in April.
Silver imports, on the other hand, was down 63 per cent to 3475 tonnes in 2023. This is nearly 40 per cent below the average imports of the last 10 years. Given the inventory overhang from 2022, the first half of last year was particularly weak as demand was still being fulfilled by elevated retail stocks. As a result, nearly 75 per cent of 2023’s imports were concentrated in Q4. As demand then picked up, ahead of the wedding and festive season, manufacturers imported metal to meet restocking orders from retailers. This, combined with the price correction, led to a 92 per cent jump in October imports to 1,829 tonnes, itself a record high.
After an exceptional post-pandemic recovery in 2021, gold demand in India has broadly normalised over the last two years. For silver, the post-COVID lift emerged in 2022 when demand reached a record high and so the steep decline in 2023 reflected the high base and a return to more normal levels.
For 2024, high prices remain a headwind for both metals’ demand, finds Metal Focus. Nevertheless, it expects gold jewellery demand to grow modestly this year, while physical investment is forecast to outperform due to positive price expectations. For silver, the 2024 recovery will be driven by the country’s economic recovery and our view that consumers will become accustomed to higher rupee prices.