South Korean Ambassador to Bangladesh Lee Jang-keun has said his country wants to take the current relations with Bangladesh to a higher level tapping the enormous potential with focus on three strategies -- elevation, diversification and generation.
“Tapping the enormous potential of cooperation and taking the current relations to a higher level are my goals and responsibility,” Ambassador Lee told UNB in an interview noting that Bangladesh and Korea have enjoyed solid and robust relations.
The South Korean envoy who steps into his second year of current tenure said elevation, diversification and generation are the three key words that he keeps in mind.
“I would like to take the current level of relations to a higher level: elevation. I would like to see more diversified areas of cooperation: diversification. And I would like to place the young people, the new and future generation, at the heart of my endeavour: generation,” Ambassador Lee who stepped into his second year of current tenure explained.
He said South Korea has been a crucial partner and friend of Bangladesh during the course of the country’s successful economic development for the past decades.
It is well-known that Korean companies have played a key role in making Bangladesh’s RMG sector as it is today, the envoy said.
However, the level of cooperation between the two countries is still far below its potential. Surprisingly, Ambassador Lee said, bilateral trade volume has not increased at all for more than 10 years. The RMG sector still occupies the largest part in Korea’s investment in Bangladesh.
Ties beyond pandemic
The unprecedented Covid-19 pandemic is causing a great deal of difficulties and challenges. The Korean envoy, however, said both Korea and Bangladesh have handled the situation rather successfully even though Bangladesh is currently tackling another surge of infections.
“As the saying goes, “A friend in need is a friend indeed.” I’m happy to say that Korea has been with Bangladesh in this difficult time,” he said, adding that they have provided various assistances to the Bangladesh government to help successfully address the challenges, including the 50 million US dollars as Economic Development Cooperation Fund (EDCF) soft loan at the end of the last year.
The envoy said the prolonged corona pandemic has been causing difficulties in his efforts to take the relations to a new height.
“In particular, we couldn’t fully utilize the momentum of cooperation which we have successfully cultivated before the pandemic, such as the visit of the Korean Prime Minister in 2019,” Ambassador Lee said.
He hoped to revive the stalled diplomatic exchanges and activities during the latter part of this year.
“But, if the current pandemic situation is further prolonged and face-to-face diplomacy further hindered, I’m afraid that it could further slow down our efforts to achieve our desired goals,” said the Ambassador.
He said Covid-19 is offering them an opportunity to think hard about the value and future of our relationship. “For the past year, I had many opportunities to participate in events to discuss and share ideas on the future of our relationship, and I was very encouraged to find the willingness and enthusiasm for stronger future ties from both sides.”
Every good relationship needs good planning and preparation as in the case with personal relationships, the envoy added.