DHAKA: Bangladesh’s imports grew 9 percent year-on-year in fiscal 2016-17 as the demand for capital machinery, industrial raw materials and food grain at home soared. More than $47 billion worth of goods were brought in to the country last fiscal year, according to data from the Bangladesh Bank. Bankers attributed the import growth to the rising economic activities and development works. “Lots of machineries, from spinning to textile, re-rolling mills, auto rice mills, paper mills and power plants, are being imported,” said Mirza Elias Uddin Ahmed, additional managing director of Jamuna Bank.
In 2016-17, the import of capital machinery soared 37.39 percent from a year earlier to about $4.85 billion, propelled by power and energy, garment, pharmaceuticals, telecom, food-processing and packaging sectors. Industrial raw material imports rose 3.52 percent year-on-year to $16.22 billion. A senior BB official said the import of intermediate goods such as coal, hard coke, clinker and scrap vessels also increased in addition to raw materials for the garment and textile sectors. “It’s a good sign for the economy that the import of machineries and raw materials is on the rise,” Ahmed added. A senior treasury official of Prime Bank echoed the same.
Industrial activities are rising and the growth in import indicates that production, development and employment will increase in the days to come, he added. The import of petroleum products based on the settlement of letters of credit increased 3.3 percent to $2.52 billion in 2016-17. Food grains — rice and wheat — imports grew about 3 percent from a year earlier to $1.15 billion. Rice import has increased significantly in recent months, according to Ahmed. The central bank took a number of steps in the last couple of months of 2016-17 to increase the rice import to boost stock and stabilise the price level of the staple such that inflationary pressures can be contained. The efforts paid off as food inflation in July declined 0.56 percentage points to 6.95 percent — the lowest in three months. The decline in the food inflation most likely resulted from a moderation in rice prices, brought about by a surge in imports.