Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Bangladesh’s overall imports grew by 14.19 per cent in the first nine months of the current fiscal year (FY), mainly due to higher import of food grains and fuel oils, officials said.
The settlement of letters of credit (LCs), generally known as actual import, in terms of value, rose to US$38.41 billion during the July-March period in the FY 2017-18 from $ 33.63 billion in the same period in the previous fiscal, according to the central bank’s latest statistics.
On the other hand, opening of overall LCs, usually known as import orders, rose by nearly 57 per cent to $55.96 billion including $11.38 billion only for Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) during the July-March period the FY 18 from $35.67 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal.
The Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC), the state-run nuclear energy research and regulatory body, had opened the LC through the state-owned Sonali Bank Limited to import different items, including capital machinery, to build the plant.
The overall import may increase further in the coming months due to higher imports of consumer goods including food grains and capital machinery for power plants and infrastructure development projects across the country, according to the bankers.
They also said machinery or equipments for balancing, modernisation, rehabilitation and expansion (BMRE) of industrial units particularly apparel factories have also helped rising trend of the industrial imports.
Import of capital machinery or industrial equipment used for production increased by more than 4.0 per cent to $3.99 billion in the nine months to March of this fiscal year against $3.83 billion during the same period of FY 17.
Talking to the BBN, a senior executive of a leading private commercial bank said some apparel industries are now going to automation using ‘hi-tech’ for improving their productivity that also contributed to achieve higher industrial sectors import growth.
He also said the rising trend of fuel oil prices in the global market may push up the overall import payment obligations in the near future.
Import of petroleum products jumped by 18.31 per cent to $2.24 billion during the July-March period of FY 18 from $1.89 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal, the BB data showed.
On the other hand, food grain imports, particularly of rice and wheat, jumped by nearly 171 per cent to $2.47 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal from $913.13 million in the same period of the previous fiscal.
Import of consumer goods rose by 57.53 per cent to $6.02 billion during the period under review from $3.82 in the same period of the FY 17.
The ongoing upward trend of consumer items may rise further in the coming months ahead of the Holy Ramadan, they added.
Meanwhile, the central bankers also expect that the import of capital machinery may increase in the coming months following implementation of different infrastructure projects including Padma Bridge.
Currently, the government is implementing nine projects under the supervision of Fast Track Project Monitoring Committee, headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, for ensuring their quick completion.
“Setting up new different plants at special economic zones is pushing up capital machinery imports in the recent months,” a BB senior explained.
However, import of intermediate goods like coal, hard coke, clinker and scrap vessels increased by more than 5.0 per cent to $ 2.98 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal from $2.83 billion in the same period of the FY 17.
Import of industrial raw materials grew by 10.08 per cent to $13.42 billion during the period under review from $12.19 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal.
During the period, import of machinery for miscellaneous industries witnessed a 9.55 per cent growth to $3.76 billion from $3.44 billion in the same period of the FY 17.