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Gold demand to rise, Narendra Modi seen easing import curbs

May 20 2014, 20:19 IST
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Gold imports by India could double from current levels if the restrictions are eased, according to an industry estimate. Gold imports by India could double from current levels if the restrictions are eased, according to an industry estimate.
SummaryGold imports by India could double from current levels if the restrictions are eased, according to an industry estimate.

24.69 tonnes since July 2013, compared with an average of 78 tonnes before the then government started making adjustments, Nambiath said.

Somasundaram PR, WGC's head of Indian operations, reiterated the industry body's forecast for India's full-year gold demand, shrugging off the sharp drop in demand in the first quarter.

"We continue to hold 900-1,000 tonnes (of annual demand in India) as it is expected to pick up in the second half," Somasundaram said.

TIMING OF CHANGE

While industry analysts are confident about Modi's stance on gold, they are unsure how soon he will relax the rules.

"We feel that removal of gold policy curbs won't happen in a hurry, and it will take another two months for further action," said Prithviraj Kothari, a director at India Bullion and Jewellers Association (IBJA).

Two months would put it around the same time India's full-year budget is due.

BJP leaders told the industry body in February that if the party came to power, it would review the gold policies in the first three months in power, another IBJA official had earlier told Reuters.

India's trade deficit has been falling in recent months, largely due to the drop in gold imports, and any step to ease the rules would be taken cautiously, some analysts have said.

"A possible rollback of the duty on bullion imports may not occur overnight, should it occur at all, but would more likely happen later this year," HSBC analysts said this month.

"An easing of the tariffs may provide a boost in demand for gold in India and would be price supportive, but we believe this would be a medium to longer-term scenario," they said.

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