FILE - Gold bars are pictured at a plant of gold refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus SA in Mendrisio, southern Switzerland, April 6, 2009.
FILE - Gold bars are pictured on April 6, 2009 at a plant of gold refiner and bar manufacturer Argor-Heraeus SA in Mendrisio, southern Switzerland.

China's central bank and customs authority said on Tuesday they would simplify procedures for companies exporting gold, following a slump in domestic demand for the metal.   

The economic fallout from the coronavirus pandemic led dealers to sell gold in China, the world's largest bullion consumer, at massive discounts versus the international spot prices.   

Companies applying to export gold no longer need to submit physical gold inventory certificates approved by the State Council, China's cabinet, or gold production capacity certificates, the central bank said.   

The People's Bank of China and the General Administration of Customs said in a statement the changes were aimed at reducing paperwork to make the process more convenient. Analysts said they were unlikely to have a significant impact on gold flows.   

China has strict controls on exporting gold, and typically consumes much more gold than it produces.   

But prices in the country in April fell as much as $70 an ounce below international prices — the biggest discount since Reuters records going back to at least 2014 — and are now around $20 below international rates.   

In April, China's exports of gold via Hong Kong exceeded its gold imports via the territory for the first time since at least 2011, and Switzerland, which usually sends tens of tonnes of gold to China every month, shipped no metal to the country at all.