Import growth moderate | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, December 18, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, December 18, 2018

Import growth moderate

Bangladesh's import maintained moderate growth of 9 percent between July and October in the current fiscal year, giving some respite to balance of payments which was under pressure.

According to data from the central bank, letters of credit settlement stood at $17.64 billion in the first four months of 2018-19, up from $16.19 billion in the same period a year ago.

The BoP breathed a sigh of relief as the moderate import growth has already narrowed the trade deficit, Ahsan H Mansur, executive director of the Policy Research Institute of Bangladesh, told The Daily Star on Sunday.

In 2017-18, import payment surpassed $58 billion, the highest in the country's history. The higher import created a major crisis for the BoP as both the trade balance and the current account posted a record deficit.

Between July and October, import of petroleum products, however, swelled 62.91 percent to $1.42 billion as power plants' demand for fuel oil increased for the generation of electricity. The country will benefit from the current oil price, now standing at nearly $60 per barrel, which had been hovering around $81 a few months ago, Mansur said.

Import of industrial raw materials was ramped up nearly 12 percent year-on-year to $6.38 billion during the four-month period.

Mansur said the increased import payment for the industrial raw materials was a natural phenomenon considering the recent pickup in exports.

He, however, expressed concerns over the negative growth of capital machinery imports as it indicated that there was a slowdown in new industrial plants being set up.

From July to October, import of capital machinery amounted to $1.64 billion, down from $1.74 billion in the same period last fiscal year.

The bumper production of rice in recent seasons also played an important role in bringing down the import of food grains to $446 million, down from $875 million during the same period last fiscal year, central bank data showed.

There is no possibility for the import of food grains to go up in the next couple of months because of the significant increase in rice production, which will certainly help ease the pressure on the BoP.

Mansur said the local currency might feel some respite amidst the ongoing pressure from the exchange rate even if the import growth remained within 10 percent this fiscal year.

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