Vietnam’s gold imports totaled 110 tons last year, higher than the annual amounts imported in previous years, news website Saigon Times said, citing data from the World Gold Council.
Of this, 40 tons were unofficial cross-border shipments and used to make jewelry, it said.
The annual amount of gold imported for the past several years stand at around 100 tons, which cost the country around US$4.4 billion, according to the State Bank of Vietnam.
In fact, the Vietnamese people consumed less gold last year than in previous years, since commercial banks accounted for 30 tons of the total bullion imported.
Due to the ban on gold deposits at banks from June, 2013, onwards, they rushed to buy gold taels from the central bank to return them to their depositors before the deadline.
The central bank, which became the sole importer of gold in 2012, is trying to control the gold market to stabilize the dong.
Last year it also tightened conditions for gold tael trading, putting over 70 percent of 12,000 gold shops out of business.
Domestic gold prices fell by a quarter last year. A tael of 37.5 grams was traded at around VND35 million ($1,661) on January 20, according to the data from the Saigon Jewelry Co.
The downward trend remains but Vietnam, the second-largest gold user in Southeast Asia, still sees buying dominate selling, according to the gold council.
At a meeting held last year-end to review the banking system’s performance, Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung had urged the central bank to study measures to mobilize gold from residents to fund socio-economic development.
Nguyen The Hung of the Vietnam Gold Investment and Trading Corporation estimated privately-held gold last year reached some 400 tons valued at $22 billion, equal to the country’s foreign currency reserves.
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