Turkey’s gold imports jump by 150 pct in May
ISTANBUL - Reuters
REUTERS photoTurkish gold imports leapt by 150 percent in May due to unrelenting demand from sanctions-strapped Iran, where buyers are increasingly choosing to keep savings in the precious metal rather than paper currency.
Turkey has imported 19.47 tons of gold in May, up from 7.78 tons in April, according to data released by the Istanbul Gold Exchange.
Some of the increase was also attributable to the onset of the wedding season and regional tensions related to the 14-month-old uprising in neighboring Syria.
But export data released a day earlier showed Iranian buying from Turkish gold traders has been the crucial factor.
Sanctions to force Iran to curb its nuclear programme have targeted its energy and banking sectors and new measures from both the United States and European Union take effect in July,
The sanctions have made neighboring Turkey an ever more important channel for the Islamic republic.
Gökhan Aksu, vice president of Istanbul Gold Refinery, suspected Iran was seeking to hold some of its oil revenues in gold, while ordinary Iranians sought a safer asset as the rial currency was losing value and access to foreign currency was being choked off by the Western sanctions.
“Iran needs to employ its resources coming from oil exports,” Aksu said. “They also have problems such as embargoes and the depreciation of the rial.”
Foreign trade data showed Turkey earned $1.27 billion from exports of 23.9 tons of gold in April, dwarfing the $75.4 million earned from sales of 1.65 tons last year. Some 95 percent of the total gold exports went to Iran in April.