India now top import source for Bangladesh

November 10th, 2008 - 5:32 pm ICT by IANS  

Dhaka, Nov 10 (IANS) India has regained the top position as Bangladesh’s importing source, beating China, having exported rice worth $874 million last year. Statistics released here last week by the Bangladesh Bank showed that a surge in rice import last fiscal pushed India up, which sent most of the quantity required as the crop over an estimated one million acres was destroyed in Cyclone Sidr that hit the country in November.

Indian External Affairs Minister Pranab Mukherjee flew in to Bangladesh Dec 1, 2007, a fortnight after the cyclone, to express solidarity and pledged to supply half a million tonnes of rice to that country.

Bangladesh’s rice import bill from India soared to $874 million in 2007-08, up from $180 million in 2006-07 and $117 million in 2005-06, the bank data said.

“Majority of the rice import was from India,” a senior central bank official told The Daily Star newspaper.

According to the central bank, Bangladesh imported 17-billion taka ($30-million) worth of more goods from India than China last fiscal. China was the number one country for Bangladesh’s imports in fiscal 2005-06 and 2006-07.

Bangladesh’s total import rose 26 percent to 1.47 trillion taka ($21.63 billion) last fiscal from 1.18 trillion taka ($17.16 billion) in 2006-07.

Imports from India stood at 232 billion taka ($3.4 billion) in 2007-08, while it it was worth 214 billion taka ($3.1 billion) from China.

Bangladesh’s other three major import partners were Kuwait, Singapore and Japan last year.

As with other South Asian nations, Bangladesh has a negative balance of trade with India and the two sides have been working to bridge the widening gap.

India has extended duty-free import facilities and earlier this year, began importing eight million pieces of ready-made garments from its eastern neighbour.

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