India could change gold import rules for 'star trading houses'
India could change gold import rules for 'star trading houses' Reuters

India could announce changes this week to a rule that currently requires so-called 'star trading houses' to export entirely the gold they import.

New Delhi could also announce changes to rules mandating that all imports be paid fully with cash margins, Reuters reported.

The actions will come in the form of a clarification to the country's unexpected move last month to scrap a rule that had demanded that traders export 20% of all gold imported into the country, the report added.

In the clarification, New Delhi could give star trading houses, or leading private trading firms, "a free hand", the new agency quoted an unnamed policymaker as saying.

80:20 Import Rule

On 28 November, changes were made to the so-called '80:20 rule' that had left the fate of 'star trading houses' unclear, as they were asked last year to export every bit of their gold imports.

Alongside a record import duty of 10%, the Indian government's 80:20 import was aimed at lowering inbound shipments and reducing the nation's current account deficit.

Capital Economics said in a 28 November note: "...Even if India's gold imports do now pick up, lower commodity prices should keep current account deficit under control.

"Restrictions on gold imports came into force in August 2013, when the current account deficit had gone up to 5.5% of GDP. The large deficit was a key factor in the rupee's slide against the US dollar."

"As we recently noted, the falls in gold and (more significantly) oil prices over the past few months have substantially reduced India's import bill. Even if India's gold imports now pick up, the threat of the current account deficit ballooning to previous levels is slim," the firm added.