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OPINION

Lee Nak-yeon's Visit

To Strengthen Economic Cooperation With BD

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06th-Aug-2019       
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Md. Muzibur Rahman :
South Korean PM Lee Nak-yeon's recent visit to Bangladesh has given us new usher of further economic and diplomatic cooperation between Bangladesh and South Korea. South Korea is our time-tested friend for a long time after the independence of our country in 1971. Korean citizens are working in different industries, factories of Bangladesh and helping to build many infrastructures, mega projects which are directly or indirectly linked with our socio-economic development.
South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yeon has visited Bangladesh as part of His two day official visit & it has brought positive outcomes for Bangladesh in different social & economic fields. South Korea is the largest investor in our readymade garment sector & leather sector. Korea's Daewoo Company helped train up manpower for the garment sector in Bangladesh in 1979. Later, Korean multinational company Youngone invested in Bangladesh's garment sector and employed thousands of workers.
Currently, the size of total investment by Korean companies in Bangladesh is $1.12 billion and most of them are in the textile and leather sectors. Mr. Lee Nak-yeon has said that some big Korean companies have invested in Bangladesh, but there is a scope for further economic and business expansion. He was rightly speaking in our country's present investment climate position. There are many advantages of investment opportunities in Bangladesh as its prudent macro-economic management, sustained policy support to the private investors, robust investments in infrastructure and human development as the primary factors driving Bangladesh's burgeoning economy.
Bangladesh as to be the 2nd largest economy in the South Asia and 41st in the World in terms of GDP growth is hoping it to hit a record 8.13 percent in this fiscal year. And if the current trend of growth continues, it will attain double-digit growth in near future. Bangladesh has Export Processing Zones and is going to build-up 100 special economic zones throughout the country for the public, private and foreign investors and now it is a lucrative destination for foreign investors. The country has investment friendly policies which are supported by legal protection, equal treatment for local and foreign investors, 100 percent ownership, tax and duty exemptions and guarantees for repatriation of capital and dividend.
Recently Asian Development Bank (ADB) described Bangladesh as the top GDP growth achieving country in South Asia and World Bank (WB) focused and identified Bangladesh as the 4th largest economic growing country and convenient destination for Foreign Direct Investment (FDI). So, there is a great potential for investment and economic development in Bangladesh and new investors (local & foreign) have great opportunities to reap the existing benefits and dividends. Bangladesh is a coastal state and is in delta region which has potentials of the blue economy and ocean resources in which Korea can help to tap these resources.
Bangladesh is in the takeoff position in its digital development and gradually it is transforming into a digital economy. All manufacturing and service sectors are steadily coming under digitization mechanism which will help to grow fast of its socio-economic development. For this reason, Bangladesh is building up grand Information and Communication Technology (ICT) parks in several districts. It has potentialities in agro-farming, jute sector, leather sector, deep sea fishing, power, construction, shipbuilding etc. Korea can invest in these lucrative sectors. Korea can import from Bangladesh skilled, semi-skilled, unskilled workforce for its development activities. It can also import woven garments, tea, leather and leather goods, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, petro-chemicals, jute and jute goods, wooden made furniture, plastic products, construction materials like rod, cement, ceramics, fruits and vegetables, processed foods and fish.
Official summit talks had been held in Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in Dhaka between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her South Korean counterpart Lee Nak-yeon and signed several Memorandums of Understandings (MoUs) to boost the bilateral trade and investment between the two countries. Among them, MoUs between Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) and Korea Trade Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), a document on cultural exchange programs between Bangladesh and South Korea for 2019-2023 and an MoU on cooperation between the Korea National Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, South Korea and the Foreign Service Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Bangladesh.
Korea pledges to invest in some promising sectors like Bangladesh's infrastructures in power, ICT, deep sea fishing, construction, energy and expressed eagerness to increase the trade items and volumes. It can help us to train our workforces in science and technology, technical and vocational education. Seoul has considered and assured Bangladesh of duty free, quota-free market access for all Bangladeshi products to their market as the bilateral trade is heavily tilted towards Korea. It will help Bangladesh to export more items to South Korea to narrow down the trade balance between the two countries. The Korean side informed that they have earmarked US$ 1 billion ODA (Overseas Development Assistance) for Bangladesh for 2020.
It will also help to accelerate our ongoing development activities. South Korean peoples are skilled and industrious. They started investing in Bangladesh from the late of Twentieth Century and still now increasing their investment and trade volumes in different sectors. We hope recent visit of South Korean PM will bring more dynamism in peoples to people's contracts, trade, investment and economic development of Bangladesh.
(Md. Muzibur Rahman, freelancer; writes on development and economic issues; e-mail: muzibur64@gmail.com)

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