Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN)- Bangladesh’s overall import orders increased significantly in March last over the previous month despite political turmoil, officials said Monday.

Opening of LCs against imports, generally known as import orders, increased by 14.44% to US$3.28 billion in March, 2013 from $2.87 billion in February, according to the central bank statistics.

“We expect that the rising trend of import orders will continue in the coming months that will also contribute to increase in the overall actual imports,” a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the BBN in Dhaka.

On the other hand, the settlement of LCs, generally known as actual imports, increased by nearly 4.0% during the period under review over the previous month of this calendar year.

The country’s actual import payments rose to $2.63 billion in March from $2.54 billion of the previous month, the BB data showed.
The central banker also said the import order for different essential products including capital machinery, scrap vessels, raw cotton and back-to-back imports for readymade garment (RMG) increased substantially during the period under review.

The import orders for capital machinery increased by 47.19% to $393.53 million in the month of March from $267.36 million in February 2013.
However, the actual import of capital machinery dropped by 5.52%  to $117.68 million in March 2013 from $124.56 million in the previous month.

The capital machinery import orders for apparel and clothing sector, pharmaceuticals and telecommunications have increased recently, according to the BB officials.
Echoing the BB official, a senior official of a leading private commercial bank said the rising trend of overall import may continue in the coming months, as the bankers are interested to invest in different sectors including trade financing for utilising their increased supply of foreign exchange.

“We’re now investing in purchasing scrap-vessels to use our excess foreign exchange within a short period,” the private banker said, adding that lower exchange rate of the US dollar has also contributed to rise in import of some essential commodities including capital machinery and intermediate goods.

The import orders for scrap vessels rose to $120.58 million in the month of March this year from $114.60 million in February last while actual import of the intermediate good increased by 19.07% to $95.63 million from $80.31 million.

 “The import for apparel and clothing sector has increased due mainly to rising trend of export of the woven garment and knitwear products,” the private banker noted.

The country’s woven garment exports have grown by nearly 14% in the first nine months of the current fiscal year despite facing a number of headwinds both domestically and overseas.

Woven garment exports rose to $8.09 billion during the nine months from July to March, up from $7.10 billion in the same period of the previous year. Knitwear accounted for $7.59 billion, a rise of 8.44 per cent, according to statistics from the state-run Export Promotion Bureau (EPB).

Actual import of raw cotton increased by 19.01% to $158.98 million in March 2013 from $133.58 million in February while import orders for the industrial raw materials rose to $269.18 million from $235.29 million.

The opening of back-to-back LCs for RMG products including fabrics and accessories increased by 32.98% to $566.33 million in March 2013 from $425.87 million of the previous month, according to the BB officials.

In February 2013, the country’s overall import orders fell by more than 13 per cent from the level of previous month as political turmoil had gripped the country ahead of the general election.
The LCs against imports worth $2.509 billion were settled in February last against $2.771 billion in January 2013 while the LCs worth $2.789 billion were opened in February, 2013 compared to $3.228 billion in January last.

BBN/SSR/AD-29Apr13-11:33 pm (BST)