Analyzing Uzbekistan’s Surge in Gold Exports to $6.87 Billion

In the last year, Uzbekistan has quickly topped the ranks as one of the world’s top exporters. In the first 10 months of 2023, Uzbekistan increased its total foreign trade turnover by $10.26 billion compared to the same period last year, representing a 25.5% increase, primarily driven by a large uptick in gold exports. Based on data provided by the nation’s Statistics Agency, Uzbekistan’s exports totaled $50.93 billion during the first 10 months of this year, showing an increase in import and export activities from the major trading hub.

Uzbekistan’s total foreign trade turnover was largely driven by a substantial increase in exports by 29.1% during the defined period. In the first 10 months of the year, Uzbekistan’s exports reached $20.47 billion, with imports also surging by 22.7% to $30.5 billion. Of course, this large trade turnover created an exceptionally wide deficit, growing beyond $10 billion.

The nation’s monumental gold exports partially offset the wide trade deficit, accounting for over one-third of the nation’s total exports. Uzbekistan achieved a new gold export record, reaching $6.87 billion in total. In 2021, Uzbekistan was the fifth-largest gold exporter, though now, the nation ranks number one as of its October figures.

The nation’s other export sectors faced challenges, though.

To start, industrial goods exports declined from 23% to 16.5%. At the same time, the machinery and transport equipment sector experienced a modest increase from 4.8% to 5.4% during the defined period. When excluding gold exports, the entire sector only grew by 5.6% compared to the total growth of 29.1%, showing just how much the precious metal balanced Uzbekistan’s trade this year.

Aside from gold, Uzbekistan’s export categories revealed mixed results this year. Exports of grains, vegetables, fruits, oil, petroleum, office machines, automobile accessories, and telecommunication equipment all showed increasing figures, while textile products, non-ferrous metal, gas, and electricity exports decreased.

While the nation’s exports may have been a bit mixed, Uzbekistan experienced a relatively widespread surge in imports across sectors, aside from gold, of course. One of the largest increases came from food supplies, including multiple categories ranging from spices and tea to vegetables and meats. Oil and petroleum imports increased as well, showing the nation’s diverse import market.

Uzbekistan’s automotive sector also supported the uptick in imports. Cars, spare parts, and the aircraft sector all experienced a surge in imports, with the fertilizer sector particularly showing significant growth, likely because of the reduced production rates coming from the Uzkimyosanoat enterprises.

While many of Uzbekistan’s sectors experienced a growth in imports, one major sector brought the total down, helping to balance the trade deficit. Medical and pharmaceutical product imports experienced a 1.7% decrease in imports to $1.29 million, likely because of the nation’s new policies on drug labeling. Analysts suggest that drug labeling has introduced new complications in medication imports while also raising prices, ultimately impacting the nation’s greater healthcare sector.

Between the reduced pharmaceutical imports and the surge in gold exports, Uzbekistan’s total foreign trade in 2023 has increased by over 25% compared to last year. Each month this year, the nation has continued to increase its gold exports, eventually becoming the globe’s top gold seller by October, according to a World Gold Council report.

In October, central banks purchased 42 tons of gold, though this net purchase was largely offset by Uzbekistan’s monumental exports. That month, Uzbekistan exported  $1.24 billion worth of gold, bringing its 10-month total to $6.87 billion. Uzbekistan has more than doubled its gold exports from last year.

Uzbekistan’s October export total came to around 11 tons, which was five times more than that of the next leading seller, Kazakhstan. According to the World Gold Council, both Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan typically import gold at high rates, so these recent export figures show an interesting shift in global gold trade.

As gold prices continue excelling, it makes sense that some nations have decided to sell off portions of their reserves to capitalize on the high prices. The previous gold record was set in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic and was surpassed on December 4 when spot gold achieved $2,135 per ounce during early Monday trading amid climbing tensions in the Middle East and soaring inflation rates.

With this excellent performance rate, we can likely expect a few more monumental shifts between central banks buying and selling gold reserves in bulk. The World Gold Council expects 2023 to meet or exceed last year’s record-branking net gold purchase level, which should provide further market support.

As always, investors should consult their financial advisors before making any portfolio decisions.

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