South Korea’s stock exchange opened a gold trading platform on Monday with the hope of boosting transparency of gold trades and rooting out shady deals used for tax evasion.

Eight brokerages and 49 dealers were allowed to participate in the market. They will get tax benefits to encourage their active participation and they will be exempted from trading commissions temporarily until March 2015. Importers of gold to be traded on the exchange will also be exempted from tariffs to increase supply. Read more

India’s policy makers clamped down on gold imports last year, repeatedly hiking duties and introducing quantitative restrictions which squeezed supplies and pumped up premiums in the local market.

As a result China knocked India off the top spot to become the world’s biggest gold market in 2013, according to research by the World Gold Council (and as beyondbrics predicted a while before). What’s surprising is that demand for the yellow metal is still growing rapidly in India, where love for gold is deeply ingrained in culture and religion. Read more

As India’s current account deficit ballooned to unsustainable levels last year, the government slammed the breaks on gold imports with duty hikes and new rules on re-export of the yellow metal. The result was that the jewellery industry hit a standstill.

However, according to Pakistani authorities, India’s official inflows of gold have simply shifted to unofficial channels. Time for action. Read more

India’s external balances have been a focal point this year as the country’s economic woes have centred around the depreciation of the rupee.

So policy makers will be pleased to see India’s trade deficit narrowing yet again. The gap was squeezed to $9.2bn in November from $17.2bn in the same period a year earlier, according to new data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. Good news? Read more

Rumours have been circulating for a while that capitalist bankers may be cooking up ways of helping cash-strapped, socialist Venezuela. Now details are emerging of how the Bolivarian Revolution is paying generous fees to get its hands on hard currency, without actually running up any new debt, or running down its reportedly-depleted foreign exchange reserves. Read more