* Sets national gold standard at 99.999 pct purity
* New standard conforms to international requirements
* Move expected to accelerate opening up of gold trading
(Adds details, background)
By Fayen Wong and Lewa Pardomuan
SHANGHAI/SINGAPORE, Sept 16 China has set its
first national standard for gold at 99.999 percent purity, state
media Xinhua reported on Friday, citing the National Gold
Standardisation Technical Committee.
The national standard, which is in line with requirements
for gold bars set by the London Bullion Market Association, is
seen by industry observers as another step towards
liberalisation of the country's booming gold sector, paving the
way for the opening up of a physical trading market in future.
"Chinese gold bars are now only recognised by local
exchanges but not by the international market," said a physical
gold dealer in Singapore. "One of the requirements for
recognition by the international market is 99.999 percent
purity. I think this is a necessary step to link up with the
rest of the world."
The new standard would improve the sector's technology,
"promote the development of the country's gold industry and
bring new changes to the market of gold investment and
consumption," Sun Zhaoxue, president of the China Gold
Association, was quoted as saying in the Xinhua report.
The new standard had already been approved by the
government's quality bureau, Xinhua said.
At present, the highest purity level for gold available in
China is at 99.99 percent, while most jewellery has a purity of
Gold demand in China, the world's No.1 producer, has
exploded in recent years on the back of robust economic growth,
and the country is forecast to soon overtake India as the
largest gold consumer.
Appetites among Chinese for gold jewellery and investment
producers has accelerated Beijing's opening up of the gold
sector to foreign players.
Since August, China has allowed two foreign banks, HSBC
Holdings Plc and Australia and New Zealand Banking
Group Ltd , access to its gold futures market, boosting
liquidity in the market and paving the way for the launch of
more investment products.
(Editing by Chris Lewis)