China Gold Jewellery Market
China is one of the largest consumers of gold, with gold jewellery being the major item of demand. Gold has been a traditional item of interest for the Chinese consumers. However, with her large population, China’s per capita gold consumption is less than 0.2 grams. This also shows the vast potential for development of the gold jewellery industry in China. According to industry sources, at present, there are 1200 enterprises in China engaged in processing of gold jewellery and over 30000 engaged in wholesale and retail trade. Apart from 2 million people involved in gold extraction in the upper streams, there are more than 3 million in sales business.
Annual volume of processed gold is 250-300 tons, with a total value estimated at over 40 billion RMB (about US$ 4.9 billion). The growth of the gold market has also facilitated the development of gold production. Production volume has increased from 110 tons in 1991 to over 200 tons at present. The rest of the processed volume is out of imported gold.
Between 1988 and 2001, average annual gold consumption in China was 260-300 tons. Per capita gold consumption at 0.16 grams is quite low compared with the world standard of 0.7 grams. Thus, if per capita gold demand goes up by a mere 1 gram, it will result in an additional gold demand of about 1300 tons. This will have profound implications for global demand for gold as China grows richer. Apart from pure gold, the traditional store of value highly prized by the Chinese customers when the jewellery market was first opened up in late 1980s, K-gold jewellery has also been widely accepted.
Through several years of development, China’s gold industry has emerged as a comprehensive industrial segment incorporating mining, smelting, engineering, S&T research etc. In 2001, the total volume of gold production was 181.83 tons, with cumulative realized industrial value of 21.16 billion RMB (about US$ 2.6 billion). Production volume and cumulative realized industrial value in 2002 increased respectively by 4.39% and 15.8% to 189.81 tons and 24.62 billion RMB (about US$ 3 billion).
In 2002, the gold market in China was formally opened up, and market trade and circulation started.
- 1995 = 108 tons
- 1996 = 121 tons
- 1997 = 167 tons
- 1998 = 172 tons
- 1999 = 169 tons
- 2000 = 175 tons
- 2001 = 181.83 tons
- 2002 = 189.81 tons
(Source: China Gold News)
During China’s 10th five-year plan (2001-05), growth rate of gold production is projected to be around 5%, and total gold production volume is expected to reach 220 tons by 2005. It is planned to create 12 internationally competitive large enterprise groups in different regions of China through measures like mergers and acquisitions as well as reorganization and these groups are expected to have 40% share of China’s gold mining industry. The plan also proposes to establish 2-3 hi-tech gold refining and downstream processing industries by 2005.
China’s gold market has also undergone reform involving the following three major components:
- In the first step, for about two years after the formal functioning of Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE) in 2002, People’s Bank of China (PBOC) has adopted a twin-track transitional procurement system. In this, each gold producing enterprise is given a production proportion for procurement purposes. If this proportion is satisfied, the excess can be sold in the market.
- In the second step, after SGE matures, PBOC will stop procurement and allow the entire production volume to be traded in the market. According to plans, this process will take about three years.
- In the final stage, within a period of 5 years, the domestic and international markets in gold would be interlinked directly. Due to gradual interlinking with the international markets, and increased price-cutting in the domestic market, gold jewellery prices have shown a declining trend recently. However, gold still remains the most valued jewellery item, especially among consumers with traditional notions of value. There has, however, been a change in terms of aesthetics, resulting in increased competition between diversified and more detailed 18 K gold and mounted gold jewellery on the one hand and traditional pure gold on the other. Although demand for 14 K and 9 K is still not high, it is expected that due to their exquisite designs and low price, K gold jewellery will be able to corner a part of the market in the future.
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