The VOLUME of gold bullion imported to mainland China through Hong Kong nearly doubled in 2012 to hit a new annual record, data showed today.
Figures from the Hong Kong government's Census & Statistics Department released Tuesday said a record 114.4 tonnes of gold was imported to mainland China in December.
That took full-year 2012 imports to more than 834.5 tonnes, reports Bloomberg News – fully 94% above 2011's previous record for gold bullion shipments to China of 431.2 tonnes.
Coming the other way, however, exports of gold bullion from the Chinese mainland into Hong Kong rose faster still. More than tripling from 2011's total of 95.5 tonnes, gold exports from China reached 310.9 tonnes in 2012.
Next week sees financial markets in China – now the world's #1 gold consumer ahead of India – close for Chinese Lunar New Year. Since gold began to be deregulated a decade ago, that has become the traditional peak period for consumers to Buy Gold.
But "Chinese consumers are becoming more price savvy," a senior Swiss logistics executive told BullionVault by phone last week. "The market is maturing and demand is more evenly spread out.
"This year we haven't seen a big build up to the Chinese New Year," he said, explaining that in New Year 2013 shipments of gold bullion have been steady, rather than dramatic, with wholesalers already building stockpiles ahead of time.