Thursday, October 04, 2007

Gold bonded warehouses have few customers

16:35' 03/10/2007 (GMT+7)

VietNamNet Bridge – With the advantages of being able to import gold in a short time and at lower cost, gold bonded warehouses are believed will attract many clients. However, very few enterprises import gold from this source, while international traders are not interested in the warehouses.

Vietnam now has two gold bonded warehouses, one in Hanoi, and the other in HCM City. The latter is being managed by SJC, while the former by Agribank’s Gold, Silver and Gemstone Company. Both were inaugurated in June 2007.

If importing gold through the bonded warehouses, the fee for transport and insurance would be 40% lower than the fee importers have to pay if they import gold from foreign sources and through brokers. Moreover, importing through the bonded warehouse shortens the time needed for import deals.

However, in fact, SJC’s bonded warehouse has not had gold for the last three months. The situation is a bit brighter in Hanoi: the bonded warehouse always has 400-500 kg in store. However, the figure proves to be too small if compared to the content capacity of 30 tonnes of the warehouse.

SJC Director General Nguyen Thanh Long said that some problems still exist in procedures, which make enterprises unable to bring products in. Moreover, since opening in June, domestic prices have been always higher than the world’s levels, therefore, local enterprises did not make any import deals.

Nguyen Thanh Truc, Director of Agribank’s gold company, acknowledged that the volume of 400-500 kg in store was very small. He said that in order to attract clients, bonded warehouses needed to offer attractive prices and simple procedures. Moreover, the warehouses also need to be insured.

Mr Truc said that it was not simple to sign insurance contracts with insurers specialising in providing services to bonded warehouses. However, SJC finally signed an insurance contract several days ago.

A representative of a bar gold producer said that only big bankers, including Eximbank, Sacombank and ACB, consigned gold at bonded warehouses. The said clients are the members of the alliance that sets up the bonded warehouses, and they are traders; they do not focus on production.

He said that in theory, it saves money and time to import gold from bonded warehouses. However, in fact, enterprises still import gold from their own sources at lower prices and in a shorter time.

The director of a gold company also said that it still imported gold from foreign sources, while not ‘trusting’ the bonded warehouses. He said that it took 3-5 days to fulfill an import deal, while it took only several hours to import from bonded warehouses. However, international traders do not like keeping gold at bonded warehouses in Vietnam. It is because of the high risks and instability in the market.

Gold bleeding continues

As Vietnam still does not allow the export of gold, the volume of gold going to and from the bonded warehouses remains modest. The warehouses now only contain imported gold. If gold exports are allowed, the capacity of the bonded warehouses may be double or triple.

According to Mr Truc, India, the leading gold importer in the world, imports 400 tonnes of gold every year, and exports 350 tonnes. If Vietnam imports 70-80 tonnes a year as it did in 2006, it would export the same volume, and the volume of products going to and from the warehouses could reach 200-300 tonnes.

Dinh Nho Bang, representative of the Vietnam Gold Business Association, said that the association had many times proposed to remove the scheme on licencing gold imports, and lift the ban on gold exports.

Mr Bang said that though official gold exports were not allowed, gold was still being illegally exported. If Vietnam continues prohibiting gold exports, it will not be able to stop gold bleeding, which has been causing big losses to the state.

Meanwhile, most of the gold for illegal export is material gold, not manipulated gold, which means that the exports cannot bring jobs for Vietnamese processors. If the government allowed the export of gold, it would help create more jobs for labourers, while export products would have higher added value.