Two more nations, Serbia and the Philippines, have boosted their national gold reserves. They follow a global trend of other central banks accumulating bullion in a move seen as a shift away from the US dollar standard.
Belgrade will increase its gold reserves from 20 to 30 tons by the end of this year, according to Serbian media company Vecernje Novosti. It said the country plans to boost its holding to 50 tons by the end of 2020 as a safety measure. Statistics from the National Bank of Serbia show foreign exchange reserves are currently worth €11 billion.
The decision to beef up bullion reserves was reportedly made following this month’s meeting of Serbian President Aleksandar Vučić with an IMF delegation. The fund’s representatives told the president they’d approve of Belgrade’s gold-buying if it fits into Serbia’s strategy of increasing foreign exchange reserves.
Last Wednesday the Central Bank of the Philippines announced that a law has been passed exempting gold sales by small-scale miners to the bank from excise duties and income taxes. The move was explained as a way to boost the country’s foreign exchange reserves and to prevent smuggling.
According to Reuters, small miners have found a way to circumvent taxes introduced back in 2011 by selling gold on the black market. The law entitles them to sell all produced gold to the country’s central bank at world market prices. The Philippines’ gold reserves remained unchanged at roughly 198 tons in both the first quarter of 2019 and the fourth quarter of 2018. Gold accounted for nearly ten percent of the country’s gross international reserves of $83.96 billion at the end of April.
Countries across the globe have been stockpiling bullion in an attempt to diversify their foreign reserves away from the US dollar.
According to the World Gold Council (WGC) data, overall net buying by central banks has reached its highest level, in terms of first quarter net purchases, since 2013. Purchases surged by 68 percent year-on-year to 145.5 tons, the data showed.
The global trend was led by Russia and China. Earlier this month, WGC reported that net purchase of gold by Russia’s Central Bank was the highest in the first quarter of 2019. The country purchased 55.3 tons, bringing its gold reserves to 2,168.3 tons and in the process becoming the world’s largest buyer of the precious metal.
At the same time, Moscow dramatically reduced its US Treasury holdings as part of the country’s de-dollarization plans. The world’s sixth-biggest gold holder, China, has acquired 33 tons of gold in the first quarter of this year.
India has followed the lead, purchasing 8.2 tons of the yellow metal so far this year. In 2018, the Reserve Bank of India reportedly bought 42.3 tons of gold. The regulator currently holds 608.7 tons of the yellow metal that accounts for about seven percent of the country’s foreign exchange reserves.