Swiss gold exports plunge as shipments to China collapse

China is the world’s biggest importer of gold. Image: Tidarat Tiemjai | Shutterstock

Swiss exports of gold fell to the lowest since at least 2012 in February as shipments to top consumer China all but halted, customs data showed on Thursday.

The plunge in trade came as China fought to contain an outbreak of coronavirus by shutting down the movement of people and goods. The virus has since spread worldwide.

Switzerland — a major trading, vaulting and refining centre for precious metals — shipped 2 tonnes of gold to China in February, down from 17 tonnes in January. The shipments were the lowest since May 2014. Shipments to Hong Kong fell to just 10kg, the lowest since monthly data became available in 2012, from 23.6 tonnes in January.

In total, Switzerland exported 42.7 tonnes of gold in February, less than half the 87.4 tonnes shipped the previous month.

Exports to India, the second biggest gold consumer after China, held up better at 9.6 tonnes in February, up from 8.5 tonnes in January. India has so far been less affected by coronavirus.

(By Peter Hobson; Editing by Edmund Blair)

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