MUMBAI Gold jewellery exports from India are likely to grow by a quarter in the year to March 2015, helped by an expected relaxation of import policy and recovering demand from major consuming countries, the head of a trade body said on Wednesday.
Exports of gold jewellery fell by more than half last year due to non-availability of the precious metal after the government tied the import of gold to exports. It also raised the import duty to a record 10 percent.
"There are indications of a relaxation of policy on gold imports and even demand is recovering in the U.S. and other countries," said Vipul Shah, chairman of the Gems and Jewellery Export Promotion Council, which represents over 6,000 exporters.
India exported $7.86 billion of gold jewellery in the last fiscal year, data from the trade body showed.
GJEPC also expects total gem and jewellery exports, which account for 14 percent of merchandise exports, to rise to $44 billion from the last fiscal year's $41 billion.
The trade body has asked the government to reduce the import duty to 4 percent to make smuggling non-viable, and gradually to remove the so-called 80/20 rule, which required a fifth of all gold imports to be exported.
GJEPC has also asked the finance ministry to reduce the import duty on machinery used for jewellery-making to 5 percent from 10 percent.
The budget is due to be presented next month. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said any action on gold should take into account the interests of the public and traders, not just economics and policy.
(Editing by Dale Hudson)