Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Bangladesh has made a routine payment of more than US$1.15 billion to the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) against imports during the July-August period of the current calendar year, officials said.

After the payment, the country’s foreign exchange (forex) reserve came down to $32.49 billion on Thursday from $ 33.64 billion of the previous working day, according to the central bank latest statistics.

“The central bank has already remitted the fund to the ACU headquarters in Tehran in line with the existing provisions of the union,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country’s central bank, told BBN in Dhaka.

Under the existing provisions, outstanding import bills and interests thereof are to be paid at the end of every two months among the member countries.

The amount of such payment rose to $1.19 billion in the last installment from $1.02 billion during the May-June period this year mainly due to higher imports from the ACU member countries, according to the BB official.

He also said Bangladesh is importing different consumer items, cotton, raw materials and capital machinery from the ACU member countries, particularly from India.

“Imports of grocery items including onion and garlic increased in the last two months from India to meet the growing demand for the items in the local markets due to the Eid,” the central banker explained.

He also said rice imports from India have also pushed up the overall import payment under the ACU arrangement during the period under review.

The ACU is an arrangement involving Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, through which intraregional transactions among the participating central banks are settled on a multilateral basis.

The union started its operation in November 1975 to boost trade among the member countries. Bangladesh and Myanmar joined the union as the sixth and seventh members in 1976 and 1977 respectively. Bhutan joined the ACU in December 1999 and the Maldives in January 2010.

BBN/SSR/AD