Back in March India did a quick flipflop on its then announced Cotton export ban following complaints by China and domestic trade groups, which created quite a stir in the cotton market, first sending it soaring then plunging on supply concerns. This was promptly followed by another misguided attempt to control and benefit from the price of a key commodity, in this case gold, when the country announced it would impose an excise tax on gold jewelry, sending its gold merchants into a nationwide strike. This did not last long either and a few days later, merchants cancelled their strike following promises form the government that too would be promptly overturned. Sure enough, the excise tax has been officially withdrawn, and the biggest source of gold demand is set to see gold imports unleashed once again.
India, the world s largest bullion importer, has withdrawn the excise duty on precious metals jewelry, Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee said today.
Jewelers closed stores for three weeks in March in the longest-ever strike, after Mukherjee doubled import levies on gold and imposed a 1 percent excise duty on non-branded ornaments. The stoppage ended on April 6 after the government assured jewelers that their concerns would be considered. The strike cost the industry about 200 billion rupees ($3.9 billion) in lost revenue, according to the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation.
The tax removal may boost demand in India, increasing imports and bolstering global gold prices after they climbed 4.9 percent this year. Bullion is advancing for a 12th year as Europe s debt crisis and concern that global growth is slowing has fueled demand for wealth protection.
The Finance Minister has understood our problems and removed the tax on both branded and unbranded jewelry, said Bachhraj Bamalwa, chairman of the All India Gems & Jewellery Trade Federation.
Demand should recover from now and imports will improve as jewelers who had not stocked up earlier will start buying.
How big is Indian demand in perspective? In a word: huge.
In a non-bizarro world more demand would mean higher prices. Alas, we have not been in one of those for the past three years so what more demand means under central planning when met with comparable paper supply is anyone's guess...