By Peter Hobson
LONDON, Jan 24 (Reuters) - Swiss exports of gold to countries including China, Turkey, Singapore and Thailand surged to multi-year highs last year, Swiss customs data showed on Tuesday, as low prices boosted demand from consumers in Asia and the Middle East.
Rising interest rates caused many financial investors in Europe and North America to sell gold in 2022, releasing large amounts of metal from storage and pushing down prices.
This allowed bullion to flow to Asian markets, which are more focused on retail of jewellery and small gold bars to consumers who typically buy more when prices drop.
Economic instability also spurred demand for gold, which many see as a safe investment, particularly in Turkey, where inflation has rocketed.
Switzerland is the world's biggest gold refining and transit hub. It imports bullion from mines and storage centres around the world for processing and re-export.
Last year, it exported 524 tonnes of gold worth around $33 billion at current prices to mainland China and Hong Kong, up from 354 tonnes in 2021 and the most since 2018, Swiss customs data showed.
Switzerland shipped 69 tonnes of gold to Singapore, up from 33 tonnes in 2021 and the most since 2017, and 92 tonnes to Thailand, up from 56 tonnes in 2021 and the most since 2013.
It sent a whopping 188 tonnes to Turkey, up from 11 tonnes in 2021 and by far the most in records stretching back to 2012, and 47 tonnes to Saudi Arabia, up from 7 tonnes in 2021 and the most since 2015.
The weak spot was India, the biggest bullion market after China. Switzerland sent 224 tonnes of gold to India last year, down from 507 tonnes in 2021.
Below are numbers and comparisons.
SWISS GOLD EXPORTS, ANNUAL (KG)
To Hong Kong
SWISS GOLD EXPORTS, MONTHLY (KG)
To Hong Kong
* Source: Swiss customs. Data subject to revision by source.
Swiss gold exportshttps://tmsnrt.rs/3PDX4ro
(Reporting by Peter Hobson; Editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips)
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