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With more accessible gold trading, China’s global gold market role expands

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    With more accessible gold trading, China’s global gold market role expands

    With trading of gold in China becoming ever more accessible, Mineweb analyst Rhona O’Connell examines recent developments which extend China’s position in the fundamental balance of the gold market.

    Author: Rhona O’Connell
    Posted: Thursday , 28 Jun 2007

    LONDON -

    China looks set to enjoy continued deregulation, with some banks now allowed to import gold into the country, and further integration into the international markets is well nigh inevitable.

    The Chinese gold market continues its deregulation apace, with the latest announcement coming from the Shanghai Gold Exchange, that in early July it will launch individual gold bullion trading, via a partnership with China's Industrial Bank, to be followed by a partnership with Huaxia Bank and in all likelihood the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

    The Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) is the only authorised physical platform for gold trading in China and this latest announcement follows the approval in April this year from the People's Bank of China for the SGE to launch gold futures trading; the paperwork is currently underway for the necessary application to the China Securities Regulatory Commission.

    The futures trade system has undergone successful testing. So far, the only other commodities for which futures trading is permissible in China are copper, aluminium, natural rubber and fuel oil. Another recent development was the approval by the People's Bank of China for membership of foreign banking institutions into the SGE. Banks that have already applied with the Exchange include HSBC, Société Générale, Scotia, Standard Chartered and UBS.

    The Bank of China, meanwhile, has launched options trading for individual investors in Jiangsu Province, where it is being trialled in four separate locations.

    The trading specifications on the Shanghai Gold Exchange are fungible with international gold markets elsewhere. Kilo bars of minimum fineness 99.95% are acceptable, as are bars with a standard weight of three kilogrammes (i.e. 93 ounces) and four nines' purity bars of 50 grammes and 100 grammes. Before the spot trade is effected, the bidder should deposit, into an assigned account, renminbi equal to the valuation of the trade while the offeror should deposit the requisite amount of gold to an assigned delivery warehouse. Delivery should be in a multiple of three kilos with a minimum delivery of six kilos. Turnover in May (a short month because of Golden Week) was 90 tonnes of gold, while in April trade amounted to 124 tonnes and in March, 119 tonnes.

    The Chinese government has made it clear that the development of futures trading is one of its priorities for this year as it aims further to entrench its metals trading industry and also to underpin its position in the international markets. This goes back towards the start of this decade, when in 2002 Mr. Shen Xiangrong, the Chairman of the Shanghai Gold Exchange, and Vice-Chairman of the China Gold Association, stated that "The establishment of the Shanghai Gold Exchange marked the complete withdrawal of the Chinese government from the physical resources allocation area - and the beginning of market-oriented allocation and regulation of gold resources".

    The market has been evolving over the course of the decade. In August 2001 the State Price Bureau imposition of retain price controls was formally abolished and retail jewellers were allowed to set their prices according to weight and quality of the product for sale. At the end of March 2004 the People's Bank of China removed all barriers to gold licensing for manufacture, distribution and retail of gold jewellery products, with the gold ******* to be domestic. In May 2004, seven Chinese companies were allowed to import gold jewellery.

    Chinese domestic jewellery demand has not increased markedly when taken on a ten-yearly basis; the figures from GFMS Ltd show that in 1997, Chinese fabrication of carat gold jewellery was 271 tonnes, before dropping to 190 tonnes in 2002. Consumption was estimated at approximately 340 tonnes in 1997, and falling to 200 tonnes, more or less, in each of 2001, 2002 and 2003. The 1997 figure was in fact something of an anomaly, driven in part by the development of currency turmoil in East Asia, which came to a head in 1998.

    Jewellery demand since 2003 has shown healthy growth, driven in part by the marketing campaigns of the World Gold Council with their "K-gold" 18-carat jewellery campaign to complement the more traditional 24-carat jewellery pieces. Demand in 2006 is estimated at 245 tonnes, third behind India (522 tonnes) and the United States (309 tonnes), and taking up approximately 11% of total jewellery demand last year.

    Meanwhile it is now legal for private individuals to purchase small gold bars, although this is still a very small market. In 2000, small bar purchases in China amounted to just seven tonnes; in 2006 the figure was 15 tonnes while the estimate from GFMS for the world Gold Council's Gold Demand Trends puts first quarter demand this year at eight tonnes. This is twice that of the equivalent quarter of 2006, driven partly but not wholly by the fact that this year is the year of the Golden Pig (or Boar), a year regarded as particularly auspicious for wealth, health and prosperity.

    Taken as a whole Chinese gold fabrication in the year 2000 amounted to 213 tonnes or six per cent of the global total. In 2006 the figure was 269 tonnes or nine per cent of total.

    As the demographic distribution of wealth develops then it is arguable that gold consumption has considerable scope for further increases in the coming years - provided, of course, that gold can beat off increasing competition from other areas for the attention of the "leisure renminbi".

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    تاريخ التسجيل: Jun 2007
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