The U.S. Continues To Import A Record Amount Of Silver While Flows Into India Nearly Dry Up

U.S. demand for silver continued to remain strong as imports surged higher in September after a decline in August.  However, the opposite was true for India as silver imports during the same month collapsed to an all-time low.  What a difference in just a few years as India imported nearly 500 metric tons on average a month last year.

According to the data from, India’s silver imports in September fell to only 11 metric tons (mt) compared to 169 mt during the same month last year.  That’s a 93% decline year-over-year.  Interestingly, during July last year, India imported an average of 33 mt of silver A DAY.  However, in September this year, it was a total of only 11 mt.  Gosh, that’s a tad bit more than 350,000 oz.  What’s going on?  Of course, the pandemic likely was part of the reason for the decline in silver imports, but the silver price rise to an average of $27-$28 during September likely curtailed buying by savvy Indian investors.

While India’s silver imports nearly dried up in September, it was a totally different story for the United States.  Total silver imports jumped to 745 mt in September, up from 524 mt in August.  When be put India and U.S. silver imports side-by-side, we can see a huge difference.

The United States imported 66 times more silver than India in September.  In just the past three months (JUL-SEP), U.S. silver imports totaled 2,309 mt, or 74 million oz.  As we can see, the U.S. has imported roughly 2.5 times more silver than India during the first three-quarters of the year.  The majority of U.S. silver imports were in bullion form.

The next chart shows just the U.S. silver bullion imports for Jan-Sep.

As mentioned in a previous Silver Subscriber’s post, U.S. silver bullion imports surged to a record high of 988 mt in July.  Then they fell to 456 mt in August and rebounded again in September to 660 mt.  Total U.S. silver bullion imports for Jan-Sep are 4,270 mt, or 137 million oz.

Here is a breakdown of the top ten countries that exported silver bullion to the United States during September.  The U.K. was the largest at 159 mt, followed by Mexico (140 mt), Canada (117 mt), and South Korea (93 mt) rounded out the top four.  Interestingly, the U.S. received silver bullion from both Kazakhstan (38 mt) and Uzbekistan (19 mt) for the first time since I started researching the data.

I believe silver investment demand will be strong again in 2021, maybe even stronger as the economic fundamentals continue to deteriorate in the United States and abroad.  I also see a major market correction taking place in either Q1 or Q2 2021.  While the precious metals prices may fall with the broader markets, this will likely motivate MORE PHYSICAL BUYING of gold and silver bullion products.

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25 Comments on "The U.S. Continues To Import A Record Amount Of Silver While Flows Into India Nearly Dry Up"

  1. DisappearingCulture | December 18, 2020 at 3:50 pm |

    “What’s going on? Of course, the pandemic likely was part of the reason for the decline in silver imports, but the silver price rise to an average of $27-$28 during September likely curtailed buying by savvy Indian investors.”

    Savvy at least in the past; missing the boat if they continue not to buy…hold…stockpile while it’s available below $30.

    • DisappearingCulture | December 18, 2020 at 4:03 pm |

      At some point India has to buy more for industrial purposes. They may be savvy investors, but they will need silver for industries. The fact they will have to increase buying is bullish for the price.

  2. DisappearingCulture | December 18, 2020 at 4:35 pm |

    “Here is a breakdown of the top ten countries that exported silver bullion to the United States during September.”

    *Is the import from UK from the LME?
    *I’m surprised to not see Peru in that top ten

    • Hi Ho Silver | December 19, 2020 at 4:41 pm |

      I think the bottom line is that most countries are having economic problems of one kind or another. India is no exception. I think the days of breakneck growth in developing countries is over. Perhaps the collapse of silver buying in India is a symptom of this.
      I predict that the future buying of precious metals will be the greatest in countries where individual citizens have the deepest pockets.

      • DisappearingCulture | December 20, 2020 at 8:01 am |

        With over a billion people, there are plenty of people who can afford to buy silver…as much as they want.

        • Hi Ho Silver | December 20, 2020 at 7:38 pm |

          Right! 1.3 billion people and 1.2 billion living on less than $5 per day.
          Didn’t you see the floods and locusts swarms that hit them this past summer? How about the food inflation and crack down on cash? Crash in energy use?
          The private citizens in the Western countries will vacuum up every free ounce of silver to be had by the end of February 2021. Stronger hands, baby!
          The USA produces 30 million oz a year, and we imported 130 million. And 2020 was just the warm up!
          I can’t wait to see the future import figures!

  3. Steve,
    How is it that the UK is such a large exporter of silver to the USA. Are they a large refiner of silver? Thanks in advance

  4. Kevin Willbond | December 18, 2020 at 6:48 pm |

    Think of what the price of silver may have been IF India was at their normal pace.

  5. @DC, with the dollar dropping relative to the other “weak” fiat currencies, could these other countries be selling silver to raise cash and trying to hold onto their gold, especially since they can get more dollars for their silver despite relative valuations of Rupees vs $, even if India is still supposedly a “net” importer? I don’t see how though, since such silver sales would have to be miniscule relative to the amount of dollars these countries need to service their US dollar based debts, or is my assumption erroneous?

    Or are these countries really anticipating a huge economic downturn and are adjusting their purchases accordingly? How much need for silver in India is investment and how much is for industrial? Is the joke on the US who doesn’t have enough for industrial use, the diminished industrial demand due to the COVID notwithstanding, and has US investor demand sucked up all the spare silver needed for even the diminishing industrial use?

  6. Why does India curtailing their purchases make them savvy investors?

    • I don’t know about India but I’ve stopped buying silver this year after 8 yrs of buying at $13 to $17. DER. All I heard was what a dumbass I was, silver is going to $5, I’m gonna lose my butt.
      Now I’m sitting pretty with not only a good stock, but quality investor coins that nobody wanted before. BUY CHEAP, SELL HIGH!!

    • Rojelio,

      Indian silver investors tend to buy a lot of silver when prices are lower. So, high price spikes and Indian investors stop buying silver. However, if we add issues with the pandemic, it really cut demand.


      • Assume income remains stable, it makes economic sense that one will be buying less silver when the price moves higher.

  7. UK refines silver into products

  8. DisappearingCulture | December 19, 2020 at 5:43 am |

    Yes the UK does refine & (historically) stockpile silver.
    Apparently S Korea refines silver too since they made #4 on that chart. Don’t think they are mining much.

  9. Hi Ho Silver | December 19, 2020 at 7:34 pm |

    There seems to be a big mystery why we get this much silver from one country, and then this much from another . It’s not a big mystery.
    Some countries like Mexico, Peru and Poland have silver mines. Countries like Chile have huge copper mines. Silver and copper are always found together in nature. Thus, Chile produces a lot of silver.
    Countries like S. Korea import metallic ores and smelt them. This produces silver as a byproduct . Countries like Switzerland refine precious metals. Thus, they “export” silver (but don’t really produce much). Some countries once stockpiled silver like the UK. Times are tough, now they are exporting .
    Some countries do a little of this and a little of that. Sometimes they buy, sometimes they sell. That’s the general logic.

  10. Silver performance in the last decade has been terrible. Only in the last 9 months has it done anything positive. It’s still down about 50% from its all time high in 2011. The fact that people stop buying when it is “expensive” when 50% down from the highs tells you all you need to know about silver. It’s an industrial metal. Bitcoin is now above its all time high from DEC 2017 in just 3 years and people aren’t slowing down on their purchases. Obviously Steve’s call of a $14k top for bitcoin was wrong, very wrong. Hopefully your exposure to BTC isn’t zero.

  11. SD – go home troll

  12. SD:
    How about silver’s performance since 2001 ($4) or 1970 ($1.30) or 1933 ($0.25). Very indicative of the real situation in the dollar world.

    By the way, Steve’s not in the business of analyzing Bitcoin.

    I hate to see anyone robbed, but I will laugh when the CCP hacks Bitcoin.

    • Of course Steve isn’t in the bitcoin business. He is in the energy business and I highly respect his insights on the energy markets. That said, he likely believes that PMs are the best hedge against inflation and that used to be true. However, as of 2009 they aren’t the only solution anymore. We have something better now. So I believe it prudent to have both PMs and some exposure to the better inflation hedge: bitcoin. It’s your money, do whatever you want with it; I don’t care. I just hate seeing fellow PM stackers be right on needing an inflation hedge, but wrong on the best way to hedge in the 21st century.

      • All Metals Are Precious | December 23, 2020 at 12:02 pm |

        There are millions of people out there that worship technology. Let me tell you, it will all end in tears someday.

        Children and immature adults are always mesmerized and fascinated by technology and the newest gadgets.

        Like Admin implied above, all the Bitcoin minions had their tail between their legs for the past year or so, now THEY ALL THINK THEY KNOW SOMETHING!

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