Bangladesh’s Chattogram port witnessed an influx of around 88.52 million tonnes of diverse commodities during the fiscal year 2022-23, amounting to a staggering cost of Tk 4.62 lakh crore.
Notably, nine specific products accounted for the highest expenditure, each exceeding Tk 10,000 crore, despite the port receiving a vast array of 4,788 goods.
The nine commodities that topped the import expenditure chart for the fiscal year 2022-23 are cotton, diesel, scrap metal, furnace oil, palm oil, soybean, cement clinker, wheat, and crude edible oil.
This marks a significant shift from the previous fiscal 2021-22 when only six items held this distinction, and even further back in the fiscal year 2013-14, when only two items were included.
Over the past decade, the country’s import expenditure has primarily centered around two crucial items: cotton, essential for the garment industry, and diesel, vital for power generation.
However, the latest fiscal year showcased a change in this pattern, as cement clinker, wheat, and crude edible oil claimed spots on the top expenditure list, unlike the previous year.
Remarkably, liquefied natural gas (LNG), which held a position on the list in fiscal years 2019-20 and 2020-21, has fallen off in the last two years.
In total, the nine products above accounted for 37 million tonnes, valued at Tk 1.61 lakh crore, of the overall imports via the Chattogram port in FY 2022-23. This means that roughly 33 percent of the entire import cost was attributed to these nine items.
Experts attribute this increased expenditure to the need to meet the rising global market prices, growing local demand, heavy reliance on imports, and the decline in the value of the national currency against the US dollar.
For instance, Bangladesh’s climate is unsuitable for cotton cultivation, necessitating full reliance on imports. Similarly, mustard seed, a potential palm or soybean oil alternative, covers only a fraction of the demand.
Additionally, insufficient progress in renewable energy has led to significant fuel oil imports for electricity generation.
Analyzing a decade’s worth of data from the Chattogram Custom House, it’s clear that expenditures of Tk 10,000 crore were directed towards importing just two types of goods during the initial five years, starting from FY 2013-14. However, this trend changed in subsequent years, with the numbers climbing to four in FY 2019-20 and five in FY 2020-21.
Cotton imports stood out over the past decade, with 14.21 lakh tonnes worth Tk 40,082 crore entering the country in fiscal year 2022-23.
Diesel followed closely, with 45.55 lakh tonnes worth Tk 27,380 crore imported during the same period.
Bangladesh’s import landscape has witnessed significant shifts in expenditure patterns, marked by a diverse range of goods entering the Chattogram port.
The nation’s reliance on these imports remains a central challenge driven by various factors, including unsuitable climatic conditions and insufficient energy capacity.