Chittagong port

Chattogram port of Bangladesh

Dhaka, Bangladesh (BBN) – Bangladesh’s overall imports jumped by 29.96 per cent or US$926.37 million in February mainly due to higher import of rice, capital machinery and fuel oils, officials said.

The settlement of letters of credit (LCs), generally known as actual import, in terms of value, rose to $4.02 billion in February last from $3.09 billion in the same period of the previous calendar year, according to the central bank’s latest statistics.

The actual import was $4.98 billion in January 2018.

On the other hand, opening of fresh LCs, generally known as import orders, rose by over 25 per cent or $851.30 million to $4.24 billion in February last, from $3.39 billion a year ago. It was $5.33 billion in January 2018.

Talking to the BBN, a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB), the country’s central bank, said the overall imports increased significantly in February due to higher import of fuel oils, rice and capital machinery to meet the growing demands for the essentials in the local market.

He also said the upward trend of imports may continue in the coming months ahead of the Holy Ramadan.

Normally, a large quantity of essential commodities is imported to meet the additional demand of consumers during the month of Ramadan, the month of fasting.

Meanwhile, import of capital machinery or industrial equipments used for productions rose to $295.95 million in February 2018 as against $204.67 million in the same month of the last year.

The central banker also said the import of capital machinery may increase in the coming months following implementation of various infrastructure projects including Padma Bridge.

Currently, the government is implementing nine projects under the supervision of Fast Track Project Monitoring Committee, headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, for ensuring their quick completion.

Rice import rose to $ 171.40 million in February 2018 from only $ 8.63 million a year before, while wheat purchase stood at $ 57.95 million.

Talking to the BBN, another BB official said higher import of petroleum products has also pushed up the country’s overall import payment expenditures.

The import of petroleum products rose to $284.45 million in February 2018 from $180.24 million in the same month of 2017.

“The upward trend of the fuel oil import may continue in the near future also to meet the extra demand for the items for irrigation purposes across the country,” the central banker explained.

However, back-to-back import for ready-made garment (RMG) accessories also rose to $635.74 million in February 2018 from $506.06 million in January 2017.

“The existing upward trend of overall import may continue in the coming months due to higher pressure, particularly of capital machinery for power plants, and of infrastructure development projects across the country,” a senior executive of a leading private commercial bank (PCB) told the BBN in Dhaka.

The private banker also said the rising trend of fuel oil prices in the global market may push up the overall import payment obligations in the near future.

Higher import payment pushed up credit growth, particularly in the private sector in February, he added.