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Which country is best place to buy gold in Asia? by Jerome Lee (May 2013)

Based on exchange rates, Singapore and Thailand best place to buy gold

My colleague Tiong Hum wrote an article asking the interesting and poignant question “Long term gold investment: what if Singapore Dollar did not appreciate?” recently.

It turned out that Singapore’s policy to let the Singapore Dollar appreciate turned out to be a sweet deal for gold investors because it made gold cheaper. Question then: what about neighbouring countries in the region?

How much does gold cost in each currency?

We selected ten countries to make an apple to apple comparison.The inputs are:

  1. ‘Then’ exchange rate of currencies back on 01 January 2002.
  2. ‘Now’ exchange rate of currencies as of 07 May 2013.
  3. ‘Now’ price of gold also from as of 07 May 2013.
*The ‘Price of Gold’ in this table is held constant at USD1,472.37 to look at its price in each currency.
  Back on 01 January 2002 Now How cheaper is Gold today? (Exclusive of Tax) Tax on Gold?
(vs USD)
(vs USD)
    USD 1,472.37   USD 1,472.37    
Singapore 1.8459 SGD 2,717.85 1.2314 SGD 1,814.22 33% No GST
China 8.2667 CNY 12,171.64 6.2022 CNY 9,131.93 25% Help Needed**
Hong Kong 7.7976 HKD 11,480. 7.7591 HKD 11,424.35 0% Help Needed**
India 48.17 IDR 70,916.70 53.7084 IDR 79,078.64 -12% Help Needed**
Indonesia 10346.00 INR 15,233,140.02 9,671.18 INR 14,239,555.30 7% Help Needed**
Japan 131.63 JPY 193,808.06 99.24 JPY 146,118.00 25% Help Needed**
Malaysia 3.7900 MYR 5,580.28 2.97403 MYR 4,378.87 22% Help Needed**
Phillipines 51.48 PHP 75,797.61 40.8139 PHP 60,093.16 21% Help Needed**
South Korea 1303.30 KRW 1,918,939.82 1,085.89 KRW 1,598,831.86 17% Help Needed**
Thailand 44.16 THB 6,5019.86 29.5592 THB 43,522.08 33% Help Needed**

Singaporean and Thai investors are better off; gold investors in India are worse off

Based on this table, it is more expensive to buy gold in India today then it was 11 years ago. In the meantime, price in Hong Kong remained unchanged and it is best to buy gold in Singapore or Thailand.

What does this tell us?

  1. Singapore and Thailand are the best places to buy gold
  2. Singapore Dollar and Thai Baht appreciated against the US Dollar more than the latter’s fall in value versus gold
  3. Price of gold in Hong Kong remained unchanged because the Hong Kong Dollar is kept against the US Dollar between 7.75 and 7.85 in managed band by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority
  4. Gold investors are worse off in India because the Indian Rupee fell against the US Dollar but this is the very reason why Indians buy gold: as a store of wealth

Can foreigners come to Singapore to buy gold?

Non-Singaporeans! Before you book the next available flight to Singapore with cash filled suitcases looking to buy your own stash of Gold bullion, you would need to know the following.

  • You are required to declare to customs if you are bringing cash exceeding the equivalent of SGD 30,000 in either physical currency and bearer negotiable instruments.
  • You are exempted from Goods and Services Tax if you purchase your bullion from a bank. Read our article “Do I need to pay GST on Gold?“ If you were to buy from other retailers, you may be charged a handling or workmanship fee that would make the purchase liable for GST.
  • The only bank selling GST-exempt gold in Singapore is United Overseas Bank (UOB). If you are a foreigner buying gold from UOB, they do not accept cash. You are required to open an account with them and debit money from the account for the purchase.
**As for the other countries, I’m unable to find the tax rate but if you hail from any of those countries and know what the tax rate is like for Gold bullion, please feel free to share your information in the comment section below and I shall include the information into the table above.
Jerome Lee
Jerome Lee

Last time, many things that I wanted were just dreams, now I see them as possibilities.  I'm looking forward to own pent-house suite in Manhattan overlooking Central Park because forex trading with Tflow® makes it possible.