Chittagong port

Chittagong port of Bangladesh

Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Bangladesh’s overall imports grew by nearly 6.0 per cent in the first 11 months of fiscal year (FY) 2018-19, following higher import of construction materials, officials said.

The actual import in terms of the settlement of letters of credit (LCs) rose to $50.57 billion during the July-May period from $47.79 billion in the same period of FY ‘18, according to the central bank’s latest data.

On the other hand, the opening of LCs, known as import orders, dropped by 17.50 per cent to $53.96 billion during the period from $65.40 billion in the corresponding period of FY ‘18.

Talking to the BBN, a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) said the import may rise slightly from July to meet the growing demand for various commodities.

He also said businessmen usually maintain a ‘go-slow’ policy of placing fresh import orders in May and June, keeping their eyes on the national budget.

Echoing the BB official, Syed Mahbubur Rahman, chairman of the Association of Bankers, Bangladesh, said overall import might increase slightly in July.

Mr Rahman, also managing director and chief executive officer of Dhaka Bank, does not see any prospect of a significant rise in imports in the coming months.

However, the import of intermediate goods like coal, hard coke, clinker and scrap vessel jumped by more than 35 per cent to $5.23 billion during the period under review from $3.86 billion in the same period of FY ’18.

Building materials imported as intermediate goods for implementing projects, particularly mega schemes, pushed up import payments in 11 months of last fiscal, according to the central banker.

He also said mega infrastructure projects, including Padma bridge, Dhaka metro rail and elevated expressway, have consumed a lion’s share of the intermediate goods.

“The import of different products for implementation of Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant has pushed up overall import expenses,” the BB official explained.

Higher imports of petroleum products like liquefied natural gas also raised overall import spending during the same period.

The imports of petroleum products increased by 16.08 per cent to $3.44 billion in the July-May period of FY ‘19 from $2.97 billion in the same period of FY ’18, the BB data showed.

The rising trend in fuel oil imports may continue for the diversified use of gasoline products, particularly for power generation, another BB official added.

On the other hand, import of capital machinery or industrial equipment fell by 9.63 per cent to $4.35 billion during the period of FY’19 from $4.81 billion.

Industrial raw material imports also rose by over 6.0 per cent to $17.82 billion during the period from $16.81 billion in the same period of FY ’18.

Meanwhile, import of food grains, particularly rice and wheat, dropped by 53.71 per cent to $1.34 billion from $2.90 billion.

Import of consumer goods also slumped by 24.70 per cent to $5.47 billion during the same period from $7.26 billion in the same period of FY ‘18.