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

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

The IMF’s 3-year $6.6bn loan to Pakistan has come just in time. As the FT reported, the loan may “stave off a balance of payments crisis, cheering investors concerned that foreign reserves had sunk to about six weeks worth of imports.”

Chart after the break. Read more

The Indian rupee is down by over 10 per cent since May. While that may hurt some of the poorer off in society as prices of imported goods pick up, the better off may notice less.

But here’s a little kick for the privileged: prices are rising rapidly in fine dining restaurants. Read more

Salman Khurshid, India’s foreign minister, is back from a trip to China last week, happy to see the end of a tense stand-off over a long-running border dispute. Settling that issue will re-open the way for a planned visit by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang to India and allow the two countries to concentrate on the big topic on Khurshid’s agenda: trade.

But here, too, relations between the region’s big powers are not entirely friendly. Read more

In the run up to this month’s trade data from South Africa, there were a couple of different theories doing the rounds.

One was that the deficit would get a lot worse, based on a the timing of holidays and the recent industrial unrest (hurting exports); the other was that the trade account would get a lot better, based on the weakening rand and a pick up of exports to China. The Bloomberg analysts consensus was for a slight improvement at R8.5bn ($945m) deficit.

Which was right? Read more

India’s trade gap has narrowed to $14.9bn in February, down from $20bn a month earlier and $17.7bn in December – on the surface an improvement, but there are worries lurking underneath.

According to data from the Ministry of Commerce and Industry on Monday, exports rose 4.2 per cent year-on-year to $26.3bn in February, while imports grew at a slower 2.7 per cent over the year to $41.2bn. Compared with January, imports have actually fallen from $45.6bn and exports are up from $25.6bn. Read more

Ouch. This isn’t any old trade deficit, this is a record trade deficit. South African imports minus exports hit R21bn ($2.4bn) in October, a far cry from many analysts’ predictions of around R15bn.

The trade deficit was R13.8bn in September. So what’s gone wrong? As so often in recent economic data releases, mining troubles are part of the picture but there’s more to it than that. Read more

China’s exports of machinery and transport equipment will increase more than threefold in the ten years to 2020, as emerging economies in the Asia Pacific shift to producing higher value-added goods. The region’s other big exporters will also see big gains, including South Korea, Thailand and Indonesia. Read more

The number that matters in China’s trade figures, published on Tuesday, is for imports. With the global economy slowing, all eyes are on the Middle Kingdom to see whether it can once again help pull the world out of trouble.

The June data are far from reassuring. Imports grew by just 6.3 per cent, around half the 12.7 per cent recorded in May and half the forecast rate. Monthly figures fluctuate, but if June sets the trend for the coming months, China faces challenges avoiding a hard landing. And if China lands hard, so will much of the rest of the world. Read more

Emerging market exports make headlines. When they are rising, developed world politicians worry about the effects on their industries. And when they are falling, governments everywhere fret about the slow down.

As a result, emerging market imports often don’t get the attention they deserve. But they will: as HSBC writes in a report on Tuesday, EM imports are likely to grow faster than EM exports over the next 15 years. Read more

Some distinctly discouraging numbers out of Asia on Friday. The hoped-for bounce back in Thailand’s exports didn’t happen, and Philippines imports were also down.

So what’s to blame? Global demand or more specific problems? Read more