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Bangladesh's trade deficit narrows as imports fall

Publication Date : 16-01-2013

 

Trade deficit in the first five months of fiscal 2012-13 narrowed by 22 per cent on the back of falling imports.

In July-November, imports fell by 4.31 per cent year-on-year to US$13.47 billion. In the month of November itself, imports fell by 5.25 per cent.

On the other hand, exports increased by 3.96 per cent during that period.

Consequently, the trade gap narrowed substantially.

One alarming matter, though, about the declining import scenario is that the capital machineries and industrial raw materials' imports are falling, too.

Capital machinery imports fell by 28 per cent and industrial raw materials by 6.31 per cent during that period, according to Bangladesh that compiles letters of credit settlement statistics.

“Last fiscal year, large numbers of machineries were imported for setting up the rental power plants. But that did not happen this year, so imports of capital machineries fell,” an official of Bangladesh Bank (BB), the central bank, said, preferring not to be named.

With regards to the falling raw material imports, the official said: “In Bangladesh, industrial raw materials are mainly imported for export-oriented industries. As exports are going slow, the need for raw materials was not that great.”

Furthermore, past import figures might not have reflected the true picture as some unscrupulous businessmen were importing luxury consumer goods in the name of raw materials.

The BB and National Board of Revenue (NBR) have stepped up their monitoring, due to which now only raw materials are being brought into the country.

Food and petroleum imports also fell, by 37.83 per cent and 11.89 per cent respectively, said central bank data.

The situation might improve for the better in the near future, as the number of LC openings for capital machinery have gone up by 2.49 per cent in the first five months of fiscal 2012-13.

On one hand, the trade deficit narrowed and on the other hand, remittance increased, as a result of which the current account balance ended up in the surplus -- by $43 million -- during that period.

The current account balance was in the deficit by $1.35 billion in the same period a year ago.

Net foreign direct investment increased by 11.49 per cent to $650 million in the July-November period of the ongoing fiscal year, according to balance of payments (BoP) data. Also in that period, medium- and long-term loans increased 156 per cent year-on-year to $732 million.

Overall, the BoP reached a $1.75 billion surplus, while it was $915 million in the deficit a year ago.

The foreign currency reserves crossed the $13 billion-mark for the first time this month.

The taka, too, has progressively been appreciating against the dollar: it has appreciated 2.71 per cent against the dollar since July last year.

In the inter bank foreign exchange market yesterday, the value of taka was 79.6 against the dollar.

 

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