Vietnam's gold bar consumption accounted for 56.4 tons in 2014, a fall of 33 percent from 2013. Photo: Dao Ngoc Thach
Vietnam's gold demand fell 29 percent last year despite a small increase in jewelry consumption, the World Gold Council said in a new report.
Gold consumption weighed in at 69.1 metric tons in total, compared to 97 tons in 2013.
In terms of value, last year's gold demand slipped 36 percent, to around US$2.9 billion, the council said.
Of the total consumption, jewelry accounted for 12.7 tons, an increase of 4 percent from 2013.
The council said Vietnam was actually an “outperformer” in the Asian region, where jewelry demand was generally weak. This reflected the local economy’s acceleration of growth, it said.
Meanwhile, gold bar investment saw a sharp fall of 33 percent, to 56.4 tons last year.
According to the council, a shortage of gold tael bars in Vietnam kept the local price premium at a "punitively high" level. The country's investment demand last year focused on plain gold rings intended as investment and crude small bars.
Global gold demand fell slightly to 3,924 tons as consumption in the world's two biggest markets India and China plunged. India last year led the global buying of gold with 8542.7 tons.
The official gold price in Vietnam, set by the authorized gold bar producer SJC, was often VND2 million (US$92.5) per 1.2-ounce tael higher than the world price over the past year, and the gap sometimes even doubled, news website Thoi Bao Kinh Te Saigon Online has reported.
An unidentified member of the council told the website that there were chances that gold was smuggled into Vietnam last year, considering the central bank apparently did not produce more gold bars, organize auction, or import gold.
Whether gold was officially brought into the country or not, it was a fact that Vietnam consumed more than 50 tons of the precious metal every year in recent years, the member said.
On Monday SJC set the price of gold at VND35.8 million ($1,655) per tael.