The country's overall imports grew by 11.66 per cent in the first seven months of the current fiscal year (FY), 2017-18, mainly due to higher import of food grains and fuel oils, officials said.
Actual import in terms of settlement of letters of credit (LCs) rose to US$ 29.65 billion during the July-January period of FY 18, from $26.55 billion during the same period of the previous fiscal, according to the central bank's latest statistics.
"The existing upward trend of overall import may continue in the coming months due to higher import pressure, particularly of capital machinery for power plants, and of infrastructure development projects across the country," M A Halim Chowdhury, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Pubali Bank Limited, told the FE on Wednesday.
Besides, the rising trend of fuel oil prices in the global market may push up the country's overall import payment obligations in the near future, the senior banker explained.
Food grains import, particularly of rice and wheat, jumped by nearly 206 per cent to $1.96 billion in the first seven months of this fiscal, from $642.83 million in the same period of the previous fiscal.
Import of consumer goods rose by nearly 62 per cent to $4.70 billion during the period under review from $2.90 billion in the same period of FY 17.
"The import of food grains, particularly rice, may fall slightly in the coming months due to seasonal effect," a senior official of the Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE.
He also said the ongoing upward trend of consumer items import may rise further in the coming months ahead of the holy month of Ramadan.
Besides, import of petroleum products jumped by nearly 18 per cent to $1.64 billion during the July-January period of FY 18, from $1.39 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal.
"The rising trend of fuel oil import may continue in the near future to meet the extra demand for the items for irrigation purposes across the country," the central banker explained.
On the other hand, import of capital machinery or industrial equipments used for production dropped by nearly 4.0 per cent to $3.09 billion in the first seven months of this fiscal against $3.22 billion during the same period of FY 17.
But the BB officials expect that the import of capital machinery may increase in the coming months following implementation of different infrastructure projects 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.
However, import of intermediate goods, like coal, hard coke, clinker and scrap vessels, increased by more than 5.0 per cent to $2.32 billion in the first seven months of this fiscal from $2.20 billion in the same period of FY 17.
Import of industrial raw materials grew by 8.16 per cent to $10.31 billion during the period under review from $9.53 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal.
During the period, import of machinery for miscellaneous industries witnessed an 8.64 per cent growth to nearly $3.0 billion from $2.76 billion in the same period of FY 17.
Opening of overall LCs, usually known as import orders, rose by 66.28 per cent to $45.67 billion, including $11.38 billion for Rooppur Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) only, in the first seven months of FY 18 from $27.46 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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