India should aim for $40-bn gold jewellery exports by 2020: WGC

Written by fe Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Oct 5 2014, 05:48am hrs
Let India be the jeweller to the world, the World Gold Council (WGC) said on Saturday, setting its vision of a five-fold jump in the countrys gold jewellery exports to $40 billion by 2020.

The WGC also envisaged the creation of five million new jobs across the gold value chainmanufacturing, retailing, assaying, recycling etcwhich would double the country's employment level in these segments.

To achieve this, artisans need to be empowered further by training and skill development and 40% of the countrys gold demand must be satisfied through domestic stocks and mining, and the government must adopt a stable policy regime, WGC managing director (India) Somasundaram PR said addressing the second India International Bullion Summit in Mumbai.

He said the country must find ways of mobilising and monetising the household savings imbedded in gold stocks.

Peoples penchant for gold and consequent high gold imports for decades and have made Indians the worlds largest hoarders of the precious metal with household stocks hitting 22,000 tonnes, according to the WGC estimate.

In a recent interview to FE, Somasundaram had said instead of resorting to import curbs in the form of a high customs duty and the 80:20 rule, which mandates at least one-fifth of imported gold must be reserved for re-exports after value addition, the government must monetise household stocks the Turkey way to maintain trade balance and contain the current account deficit.

The difficulty was, he said, in India, one has to bring at least 500 gm of gold to deposit in a bank under the gold deposit scheme. This works for temples with large stocks but prevents most individuals from parking gold with banks, while in Turkey, an individual can deposit even 1 gm in a bank.

The countrys largest gold refiner MMTC-PAMP has also favoured the idea of monetising household gold and sought to refine the precious metal to be collected by banks under the deposit scheme and convert them into bars and coins.

Since India barely produces any gold domestically, imports of gold worth billions of dollars every year affect its trade balance. The country imported gold worth $53.80 billion in 2012-13, while its exports of gold itemsboth jewellery and investment products such as bars and coinsstood at just $18.28 billion. In 2013-14, though, gold imports crashed to just over $30 billion, while exports of gold products stood at $11.04 billion, with the government saying its measures to contain bullion imports yielded results.

The WGC vision 2020 also includes hallmarking and standardisation of 75% of jewellery and mandatory hallmarking for pieces above a designated selling price. It also envisaged gold tourism circuits, showcasing handcrafted Indian jewellery.