Customs clear part of imported gold

Written by Reuters | Mumbai | Updated: Sep 26 2013, 19:46pm hrs
Indian customs have cleared some of the imported gold that was lying at airports and meant for exports after processing, trade body officials said on Wednesday, a move that could restart shipments after a gap of more than two months.

Gold shipments into India, the world's biggest buyer of the metal, came to a virtual halt after the Reserve Bank of India told importers on July 22 that a fifth of their purchases would have to be turned around for export and 80% would be available for domestic use.

This led to confusion among government officials, prompting the commerce ministry to call in a high-level meeting last week along with officials from the finance ministry, customs and importing banks, with assurance from the ministry of a regular supply of the metal to exporters.

"Some shipments have been cleared, but some are still stuck. They have cleared some shipments in the Kolkata airport, but others are yet to be processed at the Mumbai airport," said Pankaj Kumar Parekh, vice-chairman of Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC).

The restart of imports could be timely just ahead of the peak Christmas season for exporters, and the wedding and festival season for local dealers, when demand for the metal goes up.

"Things will get sorted out soon at the Mumbai airport. Once the gold bookings (for imports) are accepted by the banks, exporters will start exporting again," said Kunal Doshi, partner at Modern Impex, a gold jewellery exporter.

The country's gold jewellery exports climbed in August from the previous month on improving US demand.

India exported $561 million worth of gold jewellery in August compared with July's $441.4 million, the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) said on Tuesday.

In the domestic market, gold for October delivery was up 0.5% at R29,972 per 10 grams. The contract has shed about 15% from its record of R35,074 hit on August 28. Silver for December fell 0.42% to R48,948 per kg.