The country's overall imports jumped by more than 28 per cent or US$1.09 billion in January mainly due to higher import of food grains, 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 $4.98 billion in January 2018, from $3.89 billion in the same period of the previous calendar year, according to the central bank's latest statistics.
The actual import was $3.65 billion in December 2017.
On the other hand, opening of fresh LCs, generally known as import orders, rose by over 23 per cent or $998.14 million to $5.33 billion in January 2018, from $4.34 billion a year ago. It was $3.89 billion in December 2017.
"The overall imports increased last month mainly due to higher import of capital machinery, food grains, particularly rice and wheat, and petroleum products to meet the growing demand for the essentials in the local market," a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE.
Import of capital machinery or industrial equipments used for production rose to $480.59 million in January 2018 as against $264.34 million in the same month of 2017.
The central banker also said the import of capital machinery may increase in the coming months also following implementation of different 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.
On the other hand, rice import rose to $249.87 million in January 2018 from only $5.73 million a year before, while wheat import stood at $172.01 million from $56.21 million, the BB data showed.
The central banker opined that the import of food grains, particularly that of rice, may fall slightly in the coming months due to seasonal effect.
Besides, higher import of petroleum products has also pushed up the country's overall import payment expenditures, he added.
The import of petroleum products rose to $371.14 million in January 2018 from $218.04 million in the same month of 2017. Talking to the FE, another BB official said the rising trend of fuel oil import may continue in the near future also to meet the extra demand for the items for irrigation purposes across the country. However, back-to-back import for ready-made garment (RMG) accessories rose to $704.69 million in January 2018 from $614.43 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 FE.
He 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.
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