by Lawrence Williams, MineWeb.com:
The latest figures for net gold exports from Hong Kong into China confirm the latter nation’s strong demand in the run up to the Chinese New Year holiday. The figure for January was 76 tonnes, up from 71 tonnes in December, but it should be realised that this Hong Kong figure relates specifically to Chinese gold imports – not total demand – and then only to a diminishing proportion of the Asian dragon’s total gold imports. If one views known export levels from the U.S. and Switzerland, where official statistics differentiate between gold going to Hong Kong and to mainland China direct, then the percentage moving in via Hong Kong is perhaps only 60% of total Chinese gold imports – still significant, but well below earlier years when Hong Kong will have accounted for perhaps 90% or more of total Chinese gold imports and was thus used as a proxy by Western analysts for the total figure – a pattern which continues today in much mainstream media coverage of Chinese gold import figures. Last year China relaxed import controls to allow far more direct shipments via other ports of entry – notably Shanghai and Beijing which has reduced the amounts routed through Hong Kong.
If we assume 40% of Chinese gold imports are now going direct to the mainland rather than via Hong Kong, then China’s total gold imports in January will have been a little over 100 tonnes – perhaps still a low figure in relation to mainland China’s assumed total gold consumption in January of just over 250 tonnes according to Shanghai Gold Exchange withdrawal figures.
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