Imports from the Asian Clearing Union (ACU) member countries increased by more than 11 per cent in the January-February period of this calendar year, officials said.
The amount of ACU payment rose to US$1.42 billion during the period of 2021 from $1.27 billion earlier, mainly due to higher imports from the ACU member countries, particularly from the neighbouring India, they added.
After the payment, foreign exchange (forex) reserve fell to $42.74 billion on Wednesday from $44.12 billion on the previous working day, according to the Bangladesh Bank's (BB) latest statistics.
"We've already remitted the fund to the ACU headquarters in Tehran in line with the existing provisions of the union," a BB senior official told the FE.
According to the existing provisions, outstanding import bills and interest thereof are to be paid by the member countries at the end of every two months.
Bangladesh is now importing different consumer items, cotton, raw materials and capital machinery from the ACU member countries, especially from India, the central banker explained.
"Raw cotton and yarn imports from India have increased in the recent months to meet the buyers' requirements as early as possible," Sayeed Ahmad Chowdhury, director operations of Square Denims, told the FE while explaining the rising trend of the ACU payment.
He also said competitively lower prices increased the import of cotton from India. The ACU is an arrangement involving Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Iran, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and the Maldives, through which intra-regional transactions among the participating central banks are settled on a multilateral basis.
The union started its operation in November 1975 to boost trade among the member countries. Bangladesh and Myanmar joined the union as the sixth and seventh members in 1976 and 1977 respectively. Bhutan joined the ACU in December 1999 and the Maldives in January 2010.