Gold imports dipped by about 55 per cent to USD 7.88 billion during the first half of 2016-17, which is expected to keep a lid on the current account deficit. The sliding prices of the precious metal in global and domestic markets are seen to be at work. Gold imports stood at USD 17.42 billion in April-September of 2015. The in-bound shipments contracted for the eighth straight month in September by 10.3 per cent to USD 1.8 billion, according to commerce ministry data. The contraction in imports helped narrow trade deficit to USD 8.33 billion in September this year, as against USD 10.16 billion in the same month of 2015. India is one of the largest gold importers in the world.
The imports mainly take care of demand from the jewellery industry. For the full year, CAD stood at USD 22.1 billion, or 1.1 per cent of GDP, as against USD 26.8 billion, or 1.3 per cent, in 2014-15. As per the data, silver imports too went down by 71.29 per cent to USD 139.16 million in the month under review as against USD 484.74 million in the same month last year. In volume terms, the country's total official gold imports declined to 60 tonnes in April-July of this fiscal, much lower than 250 tonnes in the year-ago period. India imported 650 tonnes of gold in 2015-16. During September, gems and jewellery exports grew by 22.42 per cent to USD 4.46 billion.