‘India spent record $55.7 bn on gold imports in 2021’

‘Deferred weddings conducted last year spurred demand’

India splurged a record $55.7 billion on gold imports in 2021, buying more than double the previous year’s tonnage as a price drop favoured retail buyers and pent-up demand emerged for weddings that were delayed when the pandemic first hit.

Details of the world’s second-biggest consuming nation’s soaring imports were disclosed to Reuters by a senior government official who requested anonymity. The 2021 gold import bill easily doubled the $22 billion spent in 2020, and surpassed the previous high, set in 2011, of $53.9 billion, according to the official, who tracks broad import trends. In volume, India imported 1,050 tonnes in 2021, the most in a decade, and far more than the 430 tonnes imported in 2020, the official said.

“Last year, demand was robust as lots of weddings were postponed to 2021 from 2020 because of the coronavirus outbreak,” said Harshad Ajmera, a gold wholesaler in Kolkata.

Mr. Ajmera noted a price correction had made gold more affordable for retail consumers in India early last year. Local gold prices hit a record of ₹56,191 per 10 gm in August 2020, but fell back to ₹43,320 in March 2021, when monthly imports spiked to a record 177 tonnes.

Imports could moderate in January as rising coronavirus cases have prompted local authorities to impose curbs, said a Mumbai-based bullion dealer. “Jewellers are afraid of lockdown. They have scaled down purchases,” the dealer said.

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