Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Bangladesh has made an ever highest payment of US$1.56 billion to the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) against imports during the January-February period of this calendar year, officials said.

After the payment, the country’s foreign exchange (forex) reserve came down to $31.93 billion on Thursday from $33.49 billion of the previous working day, according to the central bank’s latest statistics.

The forex reserve came down to below $32 billion again after more than two months mainly due to higher import payment pressures on the economy.

The reserve was $31.999 billion on January 04 last after making ACU payment during the November-December period of the last calendar year.

The amount of such payment rose by 34.16 per cent or $398 million to $1.56 billion during the period under review from $1.16 billion earlier mainly due to higher imports from the ACU member countries particularly from India, they added.

Talking to the BBN, a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) said rice imports from India have pushed up the overall import payment under the ACU arrangement during the period under review.

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

“We’ve already remitted the fund to the ACU headquarters in Tehran in line with the existing provisions of the union,” another BB official told the BBN in Dhaka.

He also said the country will be able to settle more than seven months import bills with the existing forex reserve.

Actual import in terms of settlement of letters of credit (LCs) rose by 11.66 per cent to US$ 29.65 billion during the July-January period in the FY 2017-18 from $ 26.55 billion during the same period in the previous fiscal mainly due to higher import of food grains and fuel oils.

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 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.