Singapore Bullion Market Association

Asia Pacific Precious Metals Conference Continues Growth in Third Year

By SBMA, 12 June 2019

The annual Asia Pacific Precious Metals Conference, which had the theme “Building a Sustainable Precious Metals Hub in ASEAN”, continued growing in size in its third year, welcoming over 400 delegates, including a contingent of over 100 from China and Hong Kong.

Additionally, the conference saw sizeable participation from industry counterparts in Australia, the world’s largest second-largest gold producer and one of the largest suppliers to Asia’s hungry gold markets.

Australian government economist Thuong Nguyen gave participants an overview of the country’s gold industry and market, while Perth Mint CEO Richard Hayes and Clean Mining managing director Jeff McCulloch were part of the panel discussing regulation of the precious metals supply chain.

The strong turnout by the international bullion community this year reflected the vibrant regional market and growing role Singapore has in connecting regional players with international markets. In particular, the response to the first Kilobar Pavilion, in which 10 gold refiners displayed and marketed their kilobars, was a strong indicator that Singapore has become an important marketplace for global precious metal market players.

SBMA’s 25th anniversary

The conference was also an opportunity for organiser Singapore Bullion Market Association (SBMA) to celebrate its 25th anniversary with its members and other key stakeholders in the industry. Marking this occasion was SBMA’s founding chairman and former global head of precious metals at TD Bank, Tim Gardiner, who delivered the conference’s opening address.

“In those days, Singapore was not on the map for precious metals trading. It was Hong Kong, Tokyo and Sydney,” Gardiner said about SBMA’s early days and how the association brought together industry stakeholders together to lobby the government for removal of GST for the trans-shipment of gold, and eventually to the trade in gold.

Ivan Tan, director of the Trade & Business division of Enterprise Singapore, said the volume of gold traded out of Singapore reached 1,600 tonnes in 2017, and that the industry has recorded a CAGR of 24% since the lifting of GST in 2012. However, he stressed that to remain relevant and competitive in this sector, firms need to manage financial risk management and infrastructure, for example by strengthening AML standards, which raises trust in the sector; focus on digitalisation and innovation by forming partnerships with companies in Singapore’s innovation ecosystem; and continue to grow the talent pool.

Talking points

The topics that garnered the most discussion over the two-day conference included the effects the ongoing US-China trade war will have on this sector, changes digital gold is bringing to the industry, and the role of gold in investment portfolios.

According to Rhona O’Connell, head of market analysis EMEA and Asia, INTL FCStone, gold is still desired because it remains liquid, deep, comparatively stable, and is regarded as a hedge against risk. “It is truly a global commodity and functions predominantly as a currency”, she said.

In line with the theme of the conference, environmental, social and governance issues in the precious metals sector were also discussed in detail, with the session on revolutionising the precious metals supply chain providing lively debate on responsible mining and responsible sourcing, as well as the challenges refiners face when addressing these issues.

Increasing regional connectivity

Participants also discussed possibilities and opportunities for increased regional connectivity and mutual benefits in the gold jewellery and gold financing sector between China and Southeast Asian countries. Roland Wang, World Gold Council managing director for China, noted the US$600 billion in trade between China and ASEAN, and the growing investment in ASEAN by China.

With jewellery demand in ASEAN remaining stable, and the fact that China fabricated one-third of global production, with innovations like new products and intelligent fabricating processes, he said that the potential for collaboration between China and ASEAN in the jewellery sector is enormous. “As such, it is strategically important to foster development and foster connectivity”, Wang said.


Delegates at the opening of the 3rd Asia Pacific Precious Metals Conference

Tim Gardiner, Founding Chairman of SBMA and TD Bank Former Global Head of PM delivering the Opening Address.

Enterprise Singapore Director of Trade & Business Services Division Ivan Tan delivering the Welcome Address.

First Keynote Address by INTL FCStone Head of Market Analysis Rhona O’Connell on “Where is the precious metals market headed?”

Thuong Nguyen (Economist, Department of Industry, Innovation and Science, Australian Government) gave participants an overview of the Australian’s Gold Industry and Market.

SBMA celebrated its 25th anniversary with its members and other key stakeholders in the industry.

Terry Heymann (CFO, World Gold Council) presented on “ESG Criteria – The new paradigm for Precious Metals Supply Chain?”

Jeff McCulloch (MD, Clean Mining) presenting in the panel discussion on the topic of “The Precious Metals Supply Chain is getting more regulated for better or worse?”

Roland Wang (MD China, World Gold Council) presenting on the topic of – Is there any possibility and opportunity for the “Regional Connectivity and Mutual Benefits” in the gold jewellery and gold financing sector between China and Southeast Asian Countries according to the principles of “seeking common points while reserving differences”?