Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Bangladesh made a routine payment of $485 million to the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) Thursday against imports during November-December last year, central bank officials said on Thursday.

The payment pushed the foreign exchange reserve down to $10.04 billion on the day from $10.32 billion of the previous day, they added.

“We’ve remitted the fund to the ACU headquarters in Tehran in line with the existing provisions of the eight-member union,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) said.

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

During September-October period of 2009, payments to the ACU against imports stood at $487 million, indicating that imports fell slightly during November-December period in terms of value, the BB official noted.

“India is our main trading partner under the ACU arrangement,” another BB official said, adding that Bangladesh imported different commodities including consumer items from the South Asian country.

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

The union started its operations in November 1975 to boost trade relations among the member countries. Bangladesh and Myanmar joined the union as the sixth and the seventh members in 1976 and 1977 respectively.

However, Bhutan joined the ACU on December 9, 1999.

BBN/SS/SI/AD-08January10-1:37 am (BST)