gold is the asset of choice in times of financial difficulty. However, the level of gold reserves is different from country to country. While there are nations that hold more than 60% of their international reserves in gold, there are many countries where gold is either absent or present in a tiny proportion. According to 2021 data from the World Gold Council, there are 13 nations with no gold reserves and 14 with less than 1% allocated to gold.
Here’s a look at the five economies that have the largest foreign exchange reserves but no gold reserves.
Canada is a high-income economy endowed with abundant natural resources. Its economy is dominated by the service sector. The economy contracted by 5.2% in 2020, with growth of 4.7% in 2021 according to January 2022 IMF estimates. The $2 trillion economy is expected to grow by 4.1% in 2022 and 2.8% in 2023, but current geopolitical events may cause changes in estimates. Canada reported foreign exchange reserves worth $106.61 billion as of December 31, 2021. Canada’s foreign reserves showed a slight decline in 2022 and stood at $102.89 billion as of December 28. february.
Canada is the largest economy without gold reserves. In 1980, the government implemented a policy of selling its gold at a gradual and controlled rate to improve the performance of the Exchange Fund Account (EFC).
“Gold bullion is not considered as liquid as, for example, US Treasury securities and, to the extent that physical delivery may be involved, could incur significant costs for secure transportation and storage” , according to a 2019 statement from the Bank of Canada. “As such, gold does not fit well in the asset-matching framework.”
Norway is considered one of the richest countries in terms of GDP per capita. The country is endowed with natural resources such as oil, hydroelectricity, fish, forests and minerals. Norway is the third largest exporter of natural gas in the world, behind Russia and Qatar. About 20-25% of EU gas demand is supplied by Norway alone. Natural resources, skilled labor and technology adoption have helped Norway achieve prosperity. Nowadays, the size of its economy is around $445.51 billion.
At the end of 2003, Norges Bank’s gold reserves consisted of approximately 37 tonnes of gold, including 3½ tonnes of coins and 33½ tonnes of gold bullion. In 2004, Norges Bank sold gold bars from the central bank’s gold reserves, “with the exception of seven gold bars reserved for exhibition purposes and 3½ tons of gold coins. gold that were part of the “gold transport” to England in 1940” according to Norges Bank press release. Norway’s foreign exchange reserves are divided into a fixed income portfolio and an equity portfolio managed by Norges Bank Central Banking Operations (CBO) and Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) respectively. Norway’s international reserves stood at $84.72 billion at the end of 2021.
Croatia became the 28th member country of the European Union (EU) on July 1, 2013. Croatia is the third “high income” country without gold reserves with a GDP of $68 billion. Around 67% of Croatia’s trade is within the EU, with Germany, Italy and Slovenia being the main destinations. In terms of imports, 77% comes from EU member states, while outside the EU, 5% comes from China and 3% from Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Data from December 1999 shows that Croatia held approximately 13.12 tonnes of gold during a three-month period in 2001. This gold was received by Croatia from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) as part of its share in the gold holdings of the former socialist federal state. Republic of Yugoslavia (SFRY). Regarding the sale of this gold to the Parliament in 2016, the Governor of the CNB stated that “the Croatian budget would have received one billion kuna less in payments from the Croatian National Bank if we had decided to keep the gold in reserves inherited from the Bank for International Settlements.
Apart from this, there is no presence of gold reserves in its foreign exchange reserves. The country’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $28.31 billion at the end of 2021.
Republic of Azerbaijan
Azerbaijan is a resource-rich upper-middle-income country with a GDP of $58.43 billion. The country is part of the group of non-OPEC countries, which closely cooperates with the organization in the “OPEC Plus” format. The main objective of OPEC Plus cooperation is to achieve consensus on demand and supply in world oil markets. The production and export of crude oil and natural gas are central to Azerbaijan’s economy and government revenue. The country’s main non-oil exports include cotton and gold.
Foreign reserves data from 2011 reveals that gold was not part of its reserves in 2011 and 2012. However, 2013 saw an addition of 20.02 tonnes, which increased to 30.17 tonnes in 2014 and s is maintained in 2015. Gold reserves have been reduced to 20.02. tons in 2016. As of 2017, gold has not been visible as part of its setbacks when viewed in quantity (tons). Although in terms of gold reserves in millions, a miniscule amount of $0.12 million is reflected. The country’s overall foreign exchange reserves at the end of 2021 were $8.31 billion. However, the foreign currency assets of the State Oil Fund of the Republic of Azerbaijan (SOFAZ) invest up to 10% of its investment portfolio in gold.
Costa Rica is a small open economy in Latin America. It is classified as an upper middle income country according to the World Bank classification. Over the past two decades, the country has experienced reasonable growth and development, mainly the result of an outward-looking strategy. The country has expanded its economy from traditional agricultural products and tourism to the production of high-tech exports. According to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Economic Analysis, U.S. foreign direct investment in Costa Rica was $2 billion in 2020. The United States is Costa Rica’s largest trading partner, accounting for approximately 40% of its exports and imports.
Costa Rica is a land rich in gold. According to Newlox Gold, “From the 1930s commercial mining operations began to exploit gold deposits and a considerable rush occurred when new deposits were discovered. Many of these ores were exceptionally rich, with veins of gold visible in the host rock. Large-scale mining has produced considerable amounts of gold. According to the data of the last ten years, there has been no presence of gold in foreign exchange reserves. Costa Rica’s foreign exchange reserves stood at $7.57 billion at the end of December 2021.
Other nations that do not hold gold reserves are Nicaragua, Cameroon, Armenia, Gabon, Turkmenistan, Congo, Chad and Eritrea.
Disclaimer: Based on World Gold Council annual figures for 2021. The author has no position in the stocks mentioned. Investors should view the above information not as a de facto recommendation, but as an idea for further consideration. The report has been prepared with care and any exclusions or errors in it are completely unintentional.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.