File photo: ADB

Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Country’s import orders fell by 12.52 per cent in January due to supply chain disruption caused by the coronavirus outbreak in China, bankers said.

Opening of letters of credit (LCs), generally known as import orders, came down to $4.63 billion in January from $5.29 billion a month ago, according to the central bank’s latest data.

Talking to the BBN, a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) said the country’s overall imports are maintaining a falling trend in the recent months mainly due to global economic slowdown and coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan of China.

The central banker also predicted that the falling import trend might continue until June this year.

“We’ve to wait another couple of months to know about the real impact of the coronavirus outbreak on our economy,” he explained.

Also, the settlement of LCs, generally known as actual import, in terms of value, fell by 8.80 per cent to $4.54 billion in January from $4.98 billion in the previous month, the BB data showed.

Supply chain management is the management of the flow of goods and services and includes all processes that transform raw materials into finished products.

Rahel Ahmed, managing director (MD) and chief executive officer (CEO) of Prime Bank Limited, said the domestic demand particularly for back-to-back import of ready-made garment (RMG) accessories declined slightly mainly due to lower export earnings recently.

The country’s overall export earnings dropped by nearly 5.0 per cent to $26.24 billion during the July-February period of the current fiscal year (FY), 2019-20, from $27.56 billion in the same period of FY ’19.

“As China is our number one trading partner country, the coronavirus outbreak hampered the overall import activities of Bangladesh,” the senior banker said while explaining the ongoing import situation.

Bangladesh imported goods worth $13.64 billion, which include raw materials, machinery and consumer products, from China in FY ’19. It was about 25 per cent of total volume of imports in that fiscal.

The total imports stood at $55.44 billion in the last fiscal, according to the data provided by the customs department of the National Board of Revenue (NBR).

Actually, the impacts of COVID-19 will depend on its longevity in the country, according to the senior banker.

Importers, however, said most of the import shipments got delayed due to Chinese New Year holidays which were later extended following the outbreak of coronavirus.

Meanwhile, the overall imports decreased by 4.44 per cent to $34.58 billion in the first seven months of this fiscal year from $36.19 billion in the same period of FY ’19.

Most items, excepting clinker, crude petroleum, chemicals, pharmaceutical products, wheat, spices and pulses, saw a decline in imports during the period under review, according to the latest report on commodity-wise landed imports at customs, prepared by the NBR.

Import of intermediate goods fell by 3.29 per cent to $19.81 billion during the July-January period of FY ’20 from $20.48 billion in the same period of previous fiscal while capital goods import dropped by 13.19 per cent to $7.70 billion from $8.87 billion.