Trade deficit widens to $15b in 10 months

Siddique Islam | Published: June 13, 2018 09:41:14 | Updated: June 14, 2018 10:30:49


Internet photo used for illustrative purpose only

The country's trade deficit crossed US$15 billion in the first 10 months of the current fiscal year (FY).

It was attributed to higher import payments than lower export receipts.

The gap in trade with the rest of the world rose to $15.33 billion in the July-April period of FY 2017-18.

The figure was $8.18 billion in the corresponding period of the previous fiscal.

The trade deficit recorded an 87.54 per cent growth in the 10 months to April, according to the latest Bangladesh Bank (BB) statistics released on Tuesday.

Talking to the FE, Dr Salehuddin Ahmed, a former BB governor, said the import should be monitored closely.

"There is a need for scrutinising as to whether capital is being flown out of the country in the form of imports," Dr Ahmed said.

The BB data showed that import expenses jumped by more than 25 per cent while export earnings recorded nearly 7.0 per cent growth during period.

The overall import rose to $45.35 billion in July-April period of the fiscal 2018 from $26.23 billion in the same period a year earlier.

In contrast, export income stood at over $30 billion in the first 10 months of FY'18 against $28.05 billion in the same period of the year before.

A senior BB official expressed the fear that the overall trade deficit might widen further in the coming months if the falling trend in export earnings continues.

In May 2018 alone, export receipts reached $3.32 billion.

The monthly target was missed by 1.70 per cent.

The monthly export target was $3.38 billion for May of this calendar year.

"We expect that the overall trade deficit may improve slightly in June if the export earnings rise," the central banker explained.

Meanwhile, the higher trade deficit pushed further up the current-account deficit, despite an uptrend in remittance inflow.

The country's current-account deficit reached $8.51 billion during the July-April period of FY'18 against $ 1.80 billion in the same period of the last fiscal year. It was $7.09 billion a month ago.

The inward remittance, however, climbed by 17 per cent to $11.85 billion in the first 10 months of FY'18 from $10.13 billion in the same period of FY'17.

The central banker said the higher inflow of medium and long-term loans helped maintain a robust surplus in the financial account during the period.

The financial account recorded a surplus of $6.89 billion during the July-April period of FY'18 despite the falling trend in the inflow of foreign direct investment (FDI).

Such surplus was $3.23 billion during the same period of the previous fiscal.

"The amount of FDI fell slightly, particularly in the telecommunication sector," the BB official said.

The gross FDI inflow decreased by 7.35 per cent to $2.37 billion during the period.

The inbound flow was $2.56 billion in July-April period in FY' 17.

Besides, net FDI inflow drooped by 4.20 per cent to $1.46 billion from $1.52 billion.

The soaring gap in trade as well as the current-account reflects the growing imbalance in the external account, thus creating mounting pressure on the overall balance of payments (BoP).

"Overall stability in the country's financial sector may be hampered if the ongoing pressures on the external sector continue," Dr Ahmed explained.

Bangladesh's BoP slid to $1.04 billion, after a surplus of $2.30 billion in July-April of FY'17.

The BoP deficit was $1.10 billion a month ago.

siddique.islam@gmail.com

 

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