Dhaka, July 14 (UNB) – Visiting South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon on Sunday expressed his country’s desire to take Bangladesh-Korea ties to the next level through stronger collaboration in key areas to bring mutual prosperity.
He highly appreciated Bangladesh’s significant progress over the past years and laid emphasis on cooperation in three major areas -- energy and infrastructure and ICT -- diversifying products to boost Bangladesh’s export beyond the readymade garment industry.
The Korean Prime Minister expressed his country’s deep interest to invest in energy, infrastructure, ICT, IT and other potential sectors in Bangladesh for enhancing economic cooperation.
He was addressing the Bangladesh-Korea Business Forum with a theme ‘Promoting Business Ties Today: Bringing Mutual Prosperity Tomorrow’ at a city hotel.
Industries Minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun, Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi, Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) President Sheikh Fazle Fahim and Korea International Trade Association (KITA) CEO and Chairman Young Ju Kim spoke at the Forum jointly organised by KITA and the FBCCI.
Prime Minister’s adviser on private industry and investment Salman F Rahman and business leaders were present.
Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi called Korea as the significant development partner of Bangladesh, and hoped that the visit of Korean Prime Minister will open up new avenue of cooperation in all aspects.
Industries Minister Nurul Majid mentioned that Korea is the 6th largest foreign investor in Bangladesh and his Ministry is working as facilitator for making conducive environment for the investor.
He hoped that the KITA in cooperation with FBCCI will continue its efforts to materialise its mission to promote trade and investment among Bangladesh, Korea and the rest of the Asian region through creating a dynamic platform for networking, promotion and business services.
FBCCI chief Fahim said Bangladesh has one of the most liberal and flexible investment regimes in South Asia to attract foreign direct investment. “Ease of doing business measures is being addressed at the highest level.”
He said South Korea’s Super Petrochemical has proposed investments worth US$ 2.38 billion in petrochemicals which will positively contribute towards investment relations between the two countries.
As an important trade partner, the FBCCI chief said, the bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Korea stands about US$ 1.5 billion in the last fiscal year.
The FBCCI and KITA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the FBCCI to strengthen economic and commercial relations. Sheikh Fahim and Yung Zu Kim signed the MoU on behalf of their respective organisation.
Earlier, two sessions titled ‘Korean Government’s New Southern Policy and Korea-Bangladesh Cooperation Strategies’ and ‘Best Practices of Korea-Bangladesh Cooperation’ were held.
Executive Member of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Nabhash Chandra Mandal made a presentation on ‘Korea-Bangladesh Investment Cooperation and Future Outlook and Senior Vice President of KT Corporation Lee Sun Joo presented separate paper on ‘KT-Bangladesh Partnership’.
In the second session, KEPZ President Jahangir Saadat made a presentation on ‘Best Practices in Youngone & Korean EPZ’ while Regional Director of Hyundai Engineering and Construction RyuChul Ho made a presentation on ‘The Bridge of Mutual Cooperation.’
Director of Bangladesh Computer Council Mohammad Enamul Kabir made another presentation on ‘Korea-Bangladesh IT Cooperation.’
The FBCCI President said bilateral trade prospects are promising with duty free quota free market access to 90.4 percent of Bangladesh’s tariff line to Korea.
He highlighted a number of areas to deepen economic cooperation between the two countries that include business cooperation and investments through mergers and acquisition in electronics, automobiles, telecommunications, shipbuilding, chemicals and steel.
The apex trade body chief laid emphasis on joint high-tech research, development and innovation JVs on light, medium and heavy industries.
He also talked about the importance of joint exploration and joint ventures on blue economy.
Bangladesh exported total amount of US$ 293.69 million to South Korea in 2018-19 and imported products worth US$ 981.20 million, according to FBCCI.
The principal export products of Bangladesh to South Korea are knitwear, woven garments, footwear and leather and leather goods etc.
The import items from South Korea are vehicles, aircraft, vessels and associated transport equipment, base metals, articles of base metal, machinery and mechanical appliances; electrical equipment and parts and chemical products.