Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- The country has made a routine payment of US$1.17 billion to the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) against imports during the March-April period of the current calendar year, officials said.

The payment pushed the country’s foreign exchange reserve down to around $19.50 billion on Wednesday from $20.57 billion of the previous day, according to the central bank statistics.

"We've remitted the fund to the ACU headquarters in Tehran in line with the existing provision of the night-member union," a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told BBN in Dhaka.

He also said Bangladesh is importing different consumer items and raw materials from the ACU member countries, particularly from India to meet their growing demands in the local market.

Under the existing provisions, outstanding import bills and interest accruing against thereof are settled at the end of every two months among the member countries.

The amount of payment rose to $1.172 billion, which was ever highest, in the last installment from $960 million earlier mainly due to higher imports from the ACU member countries, according to the BB officials.

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-07May14-9:30 pm (BST)