Unofficial inflow' of gold into India was estimated at 178.7 tonnes in 2013, about 75 per cent higher compared to the 104 tonnes in 2012, according to a GFMS Thomson Reuters survey.
This follows the several restrictions of official import, such as a 10.3 per cent tariff and a legal compulsion to export 20 per cent of any imported gold.
GFMS estimated the total gross gold import in 2013 at 961.7 tonnes, a tenth lower than the previous year. The government's curbs were after a rise in gold import to $56 billion in 2012-13; this was held to be putting undue pressure on the current account deficit.
GFMS says the restrictions brought down round tripping, of export without any genuine value addition, 1o 103.5 tonnes the year before to 170 tonnes last year. Taking around 32.4 tonnes of genuine export, net gold import was 825.3 tonnes and if unofficial import is deducted, the official import in 2013 was estimated at a little less than 650 tonnes. However now as the current account deficit is under control, there are expectations that import norms will be relaxed.
GFMS has said, "India's gold import has started going up again and with any rupee-denominated price drop, strong buying can be expected."
While some forecasters have predicted gold would remain below $1,000 an ounce for a sustainable period, the survey report says it expects an average price of $1,225, "around six per cent lower than the current $1,304."
The agency said even after conceding a 10 per cent drop in total import, India still consumes 23 per cent of the gold mined globally.
From an investment perspective, the research house said in 2014, gold and silver were likely to be less popular and continue to lose their safe-haven appeal as advanced economies continued to recover.