Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)– Bangladesh’s overall imports grew by nearly 40 percent in the first half (H1) of this fiscal, thanks to a jump by over 91 per cent in import of food grains, the central bank officials said on Tuesday.

Letters of credit (LCs) against imports worth US$ 15.001 billion were settled during July-December period of fiscal 2010-11 (FY10) compared to $10.717 billion in the last corresponding period, according to the Bangladesh Bank (BB) statistics.

“The overall imports increased during the period under review due to higher import of food grains, other essential items including petroleum products, industrial raw materials and capital machinery to meet the domestic demand,” a BB senior official said.

He also said import of food grains, particularly rice and wheat, rose significantly in terms of both value and quantity in the period to ensure the country’s food security.

The import of food grains stood at $785.35 million during the period against $409.63 million in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal, while other consumer goods came down to $807.50 million from $854.69 million.

Import of petroleum products grew by 55.10 percent to $1.441 billion during the period against $929.07 million of the corresponding period in the previous fiscal.

Import of capital machinery — industrial equipment used for production — was up by 34.94 percent to $975.06 million, reflecting a rising level of confidence among the entrepreneurs about the country’s future industrial prospects, they added.

“The rising trend of capital machinery imports will continue if the government ensures adequate supplies of gas and power, particularly in the industrial units,” another BB official added.

Industrial raw material import grew by 45.61 per cent to $5.838 billion during the period under review from $4.010 billion in the corresponding period of the pervious fiscal.

During the period, import of machinery for miscellaneous industries witnessed a 44.11 per cent rise to $1.298 billion compared to $900.98 million in the same period of the previous fiscal, the BB data showed.

However, import of intermediate goods like coal, cement, clinker and scrap vessels increased only by 0.03 percent to $959.39 million during the period from $959.10 million in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.

BBN/SSR/AD-01Feb11-11:31 pm (BST)