The country's overall import grew by more than 14 per cent in the first nine months of the current fiscal year (FY), 2017-18, mainly due to higher import of food grains and fuel oils, officials said.
The settlement of letters of credit (LCs), generally known as actual import, in terms of value, rose to US$ 38.41 billion during the July-March period of FY 18 from $ 33.63 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal, according to Bangladesh Bank's (BB) latest statistics.
Talking to the FE, Md. Arfan Ali, president and managing director of Bank Asia Limited, said the overall import may increase further in the coming months.
It may happen due to higher import of consumer goods, including food grains, and capital machinery for power plants as well as implementation of various infrastructure development projects across the country.
He also said import of machinery or equipments for balancing, modernisation, rehabilitation and expansion (BMRE) of many industrial units, particularly apparel factories, has also contributed to the rising trend of industrial import.
Import of capital machinery or industrial equipments used for production increased by more than 4.0 per cent to $ 3.99 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal against $ 3.83 billion during the same period of FY 17.
"Some apparel industries are now going to automation using hi-tech equipments for improving their productivity, which also contributed to higher import growth of industrial sector."
Mr. Ali also said the rising trend of fuel oil prices in the global market may also push up the overall import payment obligations in the near future.
Import of petroleum products rose by 18.31 per cent to $ 2.24 billion during the July-March period of FY 18 from $ 1.89 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal, the BB data showed.
On the other hand, import of food grains, particularly rice and wheat, soared nearly 171 per cent to $ 2.47 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal from $ 913.13 million in the same period of the previous fiscal.
Import of consumer goods rose by 57.53 per cent to $ 6.02 billion during the period under review from $ 3.82 in the same period of FY 17.
The ongoing upward trend in import of consumer items may continue further in the coming month ahead of the Holy Ramadan, the Bank Asia MD hinted.
The BB officials also expect that the import of capital machinery may increase in the coming months following implementation of different infrastructure projects across the country, including Padma Bridge.
Currently, the government is implementing nine projects under the supervision of a Fast Track Project Monitoring Committee, headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, for ensuring their quick completion.
"Setting up different new plants at special economic zones is pushing up capital machinery import in the recent months," a BB senior official told the FE.
Besides, import of intermediate goods, like - coal, hard coke, clinker and scrap vessels, increased by more than 5.0 per cent to $ 2.98 billion in the first nine months of this fiscal from $ 2.83 billion in the same period of FY 17.
Import of industrial raw materials grew by 10.08 per cent to $ 13.42 billion during the period under review from $ 12.19 billion in the corresponding period.
During the July-March period of FY 18, import of machinery for miscellaneous industries witnessed a 9.55 per cent growth to $ 3.76 billion from $ 3.44 billion in the same period of FY 17.
Opening of overall LCs, usually known as import orders, rose by nearly 57 per cent to $ 55.96 billion, including $ 11.38 billion for Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant only, during the first nine months of FY 18 from $ 35.67 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal.
Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC), the state-run nuclear energy research and regulatory body, had opened the LC through the state-owned Sonali Bank Limited to import different items, including capital machinery, to build the plant.
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