Gold imports, which have a bearing on the country’s current account deficit (CAD), rose by 22.58 per cent to USD 34.6 billion (about Rs 2.54 lakh crore) during 2020-21 due to increased domestic demand, according to the Commerce Ministry data.
Silver imports during the last fiscal, however, dipped by 71 percent to about USD 791 million. Imports of the yellow metal stood at USD 28.23 billion (about Rs 2 lakh crore) in 2019-20, the data showed.
Despite growth in gold imports, the country’s trade deficit narrowed to USD 98.56 billion during 2020-21 as against USD 161.3 billion in 2019-20.
Gem and Jewellery Export Promotion Council (GJEPC) Chairman Colin Shah said that increasing domestic demand is pushing up imports of gold.
The demand for gold would further increase on account of the forthcoming auspicious Akshaya Tritiya and marriage season which could increase the CAD.
The CAD is the difference between inflow and outflow of foreign exchange. India’s current account swung to a deficit for the first time in the current fiscal, with the gap coming at USD 1.7 billion or 0.2 per cent of the GDP in the December quarter.
India is the largest importer of gold, which mainly caters to the demand of the jewellery industry. Gems and jewellery exports declined by 27.5 per cent to USD 26 billion in April-March 2020-21.
In volume terms, the country imports 800-900 tonnes of gold annually.
The government in the Budget reduced the import duty on the yellow metal from 12.5 per cent to 10 per cent (7.5 per cent customs duty plus 2.5 per cent Agriculture Infrastructure and Development Cess).