Switzerland sent 58.3 tonnes of gold worth 3.3 billion Swiss francs ($3.6 billion) to Turkey in January, by far the most for any month in records stretching back to 2012, Swiss customs data showed on Tuesday.
Gold is traditionally seen as a safe means of storing wealth and Turkish demand for the metal has rocketed as sky-high inflation erodes the value of the local lira currency.
Switzerland is the world’s biggest bullion refining and transit hub. It shipped 188 tonnes of gold worth 10.1 billion Swiss francs last year to Turkey, up from only 11 tonnes in 2021.
But January’s shipments are an acceleration. Switzerland’s gold exports to Turkey have never previously exceeded 34 tonnes in a single month, Swiss data shows.
The quantity of gold flowing into Turkey has worsened Turkey’s current account deficit, which rose to $48.8 billion last year.
After earthquakes struck Turkey this month, causing thousands of deaths and huge economic damage, the government moved to reduce the amount of gold entering the country by suspending some imports and asking banks to widen the spread for gold transactions, making them costlier to curtail demand.
Switzerland’s shipments to Turkey accounted for 42 per cent of its total gold exports in January.
The country sent 3.2 tonnes to India in January, the lowest for any month since May 2021, and 26.1 tonnes to mainland China, the least since May 2022.
India and China are the two biggest gold consumer markets and demand often rises when gold prices are low and falls when gold prices increase.
Gold prices rocketed from a low of $1,615.59 an ounce in early November to as high as $1,959.60 on Feb. 2 before slipping back to around $1,840 by Tuesday.