Overall import marked a modest growth by 1.63 per cent in the first quarter (Q1) of the current fiscal year over the corresponding previous period, said officials, who hope for a boost from upcoming China-funded projects.
"The overall imports increased marginally during the period under review because of falling trend in commodity prices, including petroleum products', on the global market," a senior official of Bangladesh Bank (BB) told the FE Wednesday.
The actual import in terms of settlement of letters of credit (LCs) rose to US$9.34 billion during the July-September period of FY 17 from $9.19 billion in the same period of the previous fiscal, according to the central bank's provisional data.
On the other hand, the opening of LCs, generally known as import orders, grew by 3.46 per cent to $10.44 billion in the first three months of this fiscal from $10.09 billion in the same period of FY 16.
The BB official expects that the import, particularly of capital machinery and of other construction materials, will pick up in the coming months for implementation of different infrastructure-development projects across the country.
Currently, the government is implementing nine projects under a Fast Track Project Monitoring Committee, headed by Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, for quick execution works.
"The overall import may increase significantly by the end of this fiscal if the implementation of China-pledged projects starts," the central banker hinted. A total of 27 agreements and Memoranda of Understanding were signed in Dhaka between Bangladesh and China on October 14 in the presence of Chinese President Xi Jinping and Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.
Meanwhile, the overall import dropped significantly in September over the previous month due mainly to lower back-to-back imports for readymade garment (RMG) sector, they added.
The settlement of LCs fell by more than 13 per cent to $2.99 billion in September 2016 from $ 3.43 billion in August, the BB data showed.
However, the opening of LCs also decreased by 7.36 per cent to $3.53 billion in September from $ 3.81 billion of the previous month of 2016.
"Lower imports for RMG sector along with capital machinery pushed down the overall imports in September last," another central banker explained.
Back-to-back import for RMG products, including fabrics and accessories, came down to $550 million in September 2016 from $701.12 million a month before while capital-machinery imports amounted to $206.77 million from $246.78 million.
The BB official also said long vacation on the occasion of Eid-ul-Azha also contributed to lowering September imports.