from Sputnik News:
Fresh statistics from the World Gold Council real that Russia became the largest buyer of gold in the first quarter of 2019, purchasing 55.3 tonnes, while China ranked second, securing 33 tonnes of the precious metal. Russia and China, however, are not alone in their decision to boost their gold reserves.
In a major turn of events, Serbia and the Philippines have decided to join the global bullion-buying spree amid similar efforts by world central banks.
According to Vecernje Novosti, Serbia will increase its gold reserves from 20 to 30 tonnes by the end of 2019, and then up to 50 tonnes over the next year as a safety measure.
The decision was reportedly made following the meeting of the country’s president, Aleksandar Vucic, with an IMF delegation, where the fund’s representatives told him that they’d approve of Belgrade’s gold-buying if it fit into Serbia’s strategy of beefing up foreign exchange reserves.
The current data of the National Bank of Serbia suggest that the nation’s foreign exchange reserves are presently worth 11 billion euros.
As for the Philippines, the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas has announced that a law has been passed exempting gold sales by small-scale miners to the central bank from excise and income taxes to boost the country’s foreign exchange reserves and prevent smuggling.
According to Reuters, small miners have found a way to bypass taxes introduced back in 2011 by selling gold on the black market, while by law, they are supposed to sell all produced gold to the country’s central bank at world market prices. The Philippines’ gold reserves remained unchanged at roughly 198 tonnes in both the first quarter of 2019 and the fourth quarter of 2018.
Ronald-Peter Stoeferle, a fund manager at Incrementum AG and one of the authors of the 13th annual In Gold We Trust report, believes that both countries’ move towards gold stockpiling is not unexpected.
“Yes, they have joined the club. I think there’s nothing specific about that. We can just observe that many countries have got very low gold holdings, especially compared to the industrialised nations. Many younger developing nations have got very low gold holdings. So, this is also some sort of a catch-up demand”, he explains.
Earlier this month, the World Gold Council reported that net purchase of gold by the Russian Central Bank was the highest in the first quarter of 2019. It bought 55.3 tonnes and brought the country’s gold reserves to 2,168.3 tonnes, while dramatically reducing its US Treasury holdings as part of its de-dollarisation plans. China is also among the largest buyers, having acquired 33 tonnes of gold in the first quarter of this year.
Overall, net buying by central banks across the globe reached its highest level, in terms of first quarter net purchases, since 2013, having surged by 68 percent year-on-year to 145.5 tonnes, according to the data.