Business / CEO roundtable on new normal

China's gold market entering a "new normal" stage: WGC

( Updated: 2015-03-13 16:22

Editor's note: With the annual sessions of the National People's Congress and the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference ending with a call to adapt to "new normal", sat down with global business leaders to get their views on the reform process and lowering of the growth target.

Here are the excerpts of Albert L. H. Cheng, Managing Director, Far East, World Gold Council.

China's gold market entering a

Albert L. H. Cheng

What impressed you the most about the annual Government Work Report released during the ongoing two sessions of China’s top legislative and advisory bodies in Beijing? What do you think was the most important issue raised by the government in this report compared with the previous sessions?

On March 9, Xu Luode, as a NPC delegate from Shanghai and the President of the Shanghai Gold Exchange (SGE), proposed his plan, “Suggestions to integrate gold cooperation in the strategic development plan - ‘One Belt and One Road (OBAOR)’” to the NPC & NPPCC. The suggestions noted that cooperation among gold related enterprises and market infra-structure development, involving major gold producers, downstream manufacturers, retailers and investors along the value chain, and led by People’s Bank of China, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, National Development and Reform Commission, Ministry of Commerce and other related ministries, should be developed by leveraging the Shanghai Gold Exchange as the trading hub, supported by other gold markets in the region and be integrated into the OBAOR plan. Related specialized plans and supportive policies will also be developed to balance the regional developments in China and accelerate the interconnection with countries along the routes.

In the Government Work Report, Premier Li Keqiang said that the nation’s economic growth rate would be adjusted to 7 percent. Do you think your company should adjust its development strategy in China?

In our opinion, lowering the annual GDP rate to around 7 percent will benefit China’s long-term economic development. It is a good sign that sustainable growth is becoming more important. Lower targets allow China to focus on sustained “quality” growth instead of boosting GDP with temporary measures. In the same way, the China gold market needs to maintain sustainable and healthy development in order to accelerate market maturity in a positive and meaningful way.

The China gold market is also entering into a “new normal” stage, with the widely distributed and diversified product range, a multi-layer market will be formed, and domestic and international investors will be attracted to participate in the International Board of the Shanghai Gold Exchange. These efforts will increase China’s voice in the global price discovery process and with enough market participants from China and the strength of the users behind who are armed with RMB purchasing power, the gold price in RMB would gradually becomes a benchmark in Asian time zones.

Amid the global economic slowdown, especially in developed economies, and China’s economic adjustment, what is your greatest concern about your company’s operations in China?

In 2014, the China gold market returned to its steady long-term trend after experiencing an exceptional rate of gold purchase triggered by extremely low prices in 2013. We expect that China gold demand will continue to readjust in the short term. In the mid-term or long-term, the newly emerging middle class, rising real incomes, a deepening pool of private savings and rapid urbanisation across China will also profoundly impact China’s gold market. We are expecting a “new normal” market with a steady single digit growth in the near future since we are already at a high level.

Which aspect of China’s social and economic reforms should be improved in order to enhance the investment environment to attract more foreign companies?

In terms of the gold market specifically, we believe that more efforts in terms of liquidity and transparency are needed to provide more convenient services for those with actual demand, producers and investors. In addition, more international institutions need to be engaged with the International Board. More importantly, once the RMB becomes fully convertible, the financial market will be further opened to the outside world and the gold industry will benefit from it.

Do you think your company will develop faster in China than the previous year in terms of growth rate or market penetration?

The World Gold Council is the market development organization for the gold industry and our purpose is to provide industry leadership, while stimulating and sustaining demand for gold. With further cooperation with local partners, including China Gold Association and the Shanghai Gold Exchange, the World Gold Council can foresee better and faster development in China, bringing the world’s leading industry experience to Chinese practitioners in the gold industry.

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