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China’s net gold imports in October via Hong Kong fell 45% from the previous month, Hong Kong Census and Statistics Department data showed on Monday, a drop that analysts said was likely partly due to the impact of China’s COVID curbs on logistics.

Net imports into the world’s top gold consumer stood at 18.664 tonnes in October, compared with 33.896 tonnes in September, the data showed.

Total gold imports via Hong Kong were down nearly 43% to 21.31 tonnes.

The Hong Kong data may not provide a complete picture of Chinese purchases, as gold is also imported via Shanghai and Beijing. China usually imports most of its bullion from Australia, South Africa and Switzerland.

China’s central bank controls how much gold enters the country through a system of quotas given to commercial banks.

Gold dips as dollar gains on China COVID risks

Supply chain issues have been important factor in the data, independent analyst Ross Norman said.

Net imports fell 50% in September, in part due to logistical issues due to widespread COVID curbs.

Through October, Chinese dealers sold gold at premiums of anywhere between $23 and $45 an ounce over global benchmark spot prices amid relatively less supply.

But the premiums have since eased as a strict ‘zero-COVID’ policy takes a toll on the world’s second-largest economy and begins to eat into gold demand as well.

Gold trade into China in October was only 7% of the 10-month total, reflecting the slowdown in the market due to increasing lockdowns, StoneX analyst Rhona O’Connell said.

Meanwhile, customs data showed Switzerland exported 43.7 tonnes of gold in October to mainland China, down from 44 tonnes in September.

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