After the concerted western Central Bank effort, led by the BIS, to squelch Indian gold imports by eliminating the most commonly used currency bills failed, the fake news about Indian gold imports coming from the World Gold Council amplified. The WGC missed its Q1 2017 forecast for Indian gold imports by a country mile, as Indian gold imports doubled in Q1 to 253 tonnes. Please note that these numbers do not include the amount of gold smuggled into India, which has been estimated to be 200-300 tonnes annually.
Now the World Gold Council is promoting the narrative that Indian gold imports will average only 90 tonnes per quarter the rest of the year because of a new General Sales Tax scheduled to be implemented on July 1st plus restrictions to be implemented on gold dore bar imports. However, this is again an ill-fated prediction, likely for the purpose of spreading anti-gold propaganda, which seems to be one of the World Gold Council’s general directives.
First, in April and May, the premiums to world gold paid in India suggest that April/May imports already are well into triple-digits. And the WGC’s arguments are absurd, as expressed by John Brimelow in his Gold Jottings report:
In JBGJ’s opinion the only way this prediction can be right is if the $US price of gold jumps a couple of hundred dollars. Since Q2 is half gone and premiums have if anything been even more constructive during April and May, imports for the quarter are very likely be deep in triple digits also. The dore point is just ridiculous. To the extent dore is not available India will just revert to buying kilo bars which are only a few dollars more expensive. How the Authorities will treat the gold trade in introducing General Sales Tax is still uncertain. But using it to increase the rate of tax will just increase smuggling. In any case, fear of a tax increase should be stimulation anticipatory buying, a point the WGC avoids mentioning.
In addition to the current elevated level of gold demand in India, the early arrival of monsoon season to India will further boost demand for gold “by setting up India for higher farm output and robust economic growth” (Economic Times). Farmers use cash from their harvest sales to buy gold, which is one of the major sources of demand fueling India’s biggest seasonal gold-buying period in the fall through year-end. The bigger the harvest, the more gold bought by Indian farmers.
For the WGC to forecast 90 tonnes per quarter for the rest of 2017, especially given that Q2 is nearly in the bag and is likely already well over 100 tonnes, is nothing short of motivated anti-gold propaganda. An increase in the General Sales Tax will likely cause a temporary dip in gold imports. But, as with sudden moves higher in the price of gold, Indians will “get used” to paying a slightly higher price and normal import patterns will resume. Furthermore, a higher rate of taxation on gold sales in India will likely stimulate increased smuggling, over which the Indian authorities seem to limited control.
I appears currently that the western Central Banks are having a difficult time keep a lid on the price of gold. The elevated level of Privately Negotiated Transactions and Exchange for Physical transactions – both of which facilitate settlement of Comex gold contracts off-exchange, privately and out of sight – is an indicator the banks are struggling to settle gold contracts with deliveries from the amount of gold available on the Comex. For now the price of gold has been successfully contained below $1300. But it would not surprise me if gold makes a strong run over $1300 heading into, in not before, Labor Day weekend.