Import of 20 items dropped by 25 percent in the fiscal year 2019-20 compared to the previous fiscal year, shows customs and NBR data.
Those items include recondition cars, trucks, piston engines, motorcycles, high-speed diesel fuel, lubricants, crude oil, lube-base oils, scrap vessels, petroleum oil, cement clinker, finished ceramic products, wires of refined copper, and betel nut.
Importers and customs officials said the main reasons for the drop in imports were closure of industrial units and fewer vehicles plying amid the pandemic since March.
The other reasons include decline in power demand, hike in prices of some goods in the international market, fall in demand of some products, and increase in production of some others in the domestic market, they said.
According to data from Chittagong Customs House and National Board of Revenue (NBR), the total import volume of these 20 items came down to 2.09 crore tonnes totaling Tk 32,544 crore in 2019-20 from 2.89 crore tonnes totaling Tk 49,630 crore in 2018-19.
Speaking on the issue, Mahbubul Alam, president of Chattogram Chamber of Commerce and Industry, told The Daily Star, "Most factories in the country remained closed for months due to the pandemic. Even though many of those reopened, their production went down. Due to such reasons, import of raw materials by the industry has reduced."
He also said, "Import volume of others products has declined due to price hike in the international market and hike in dollar rates."
According to the customs and NBR data, around 39 lakh tonnes of high-speed diesel were imported in the last fiscal year while the figure was 29 lakh tonnes in the previous year.
Import of petroleum oilcame down to two lakh tonnes from 13.56 lakh tonnes while import of crude oil fell to 6.87 lakh tonnes from 11.12 lakh tonnes.
Similarly, around 13,044 recondition cars were imported in 2018-19, but last fiscal year the number was only 5,223. A total of 95,123 motorcycles were imported last year compared to 34,1234 in 2018-19.
Also, businesses brought in 141 lakh (14.1 million) tonnes of cement clinker in the last fiscal year, down from 165 lakh tonnes a year ago.
Import of scrap vessel decreased to 15 lakh tonnes compared to 34 lakh tonnes the previous year, finished ceramic products to 82 thousand tonnes from 1.35 lakh tonnes.
Customs officials said import of some items dropped due to the pandemic. Besides, prices of alternative or similar products rose in the international market, resulting in the decline in imports.
Customs data shows drop in the import of the 20 products caused the authorities a loss of Tk 5,554 crore in revenue compared to 2018-19 when they earned Tk 13,950 crore. In 2019-20, the amount was Tk 8,396.