It is heartening to note that the South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon, during the official summit talks with Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina on July 14, has assured Bangladesh of considering duty-free and quota-free market access for all Bangladeshi products to their market. Since currently the bilateral trade is heavily tilted towards South Korea, if Bangladesh gets duty-free and quota-free market access of its products such as woven garments, pharmaceuticals, knitwear, jute and jute products, leather and leather goods, frozen food and ceramic items to Korean market, this will definitely narrow down the trade imbalance between the two countries. We also welcome the signing of the three instruments during Lee Nak-yon’s visit—on strengthening cooperation in the areas of investment, culture and diplomatic training.
Korea has been a long-time friend and development partner of Bangladesh. Korean companies have substantial investment in our textiles, tanneries and footwear factories in EPZs. Currently, the size of total investment by Korean companies in Bangladesh is USD 1.12 billion and most of them are in the textile and leather sectors. So, there is scope for further investment in other sectors. Bangladesh has huge investment opportunities in the energy, ICT, defence, construction, shipbuilding and energy sectors. It is good to learn that Korea has shown interest in investing in many of these sectors. It has expressed its interest in helping set up 10,000 ICT centres across Bangladesh. Recently, South Korean Super Petrochemical has proposed investments worth USD 2.38 billion in petrochemicals. It is encouraging that the Korean side has earmarked USD 1 billion ODA for Bangladesh for 2020. Such investment plans, if materialised, will definitely strengthen the ties between the two countries.
Besides, as there is an increasing demand for labour in the booming industries in Korea, it could be a potential destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers. Bangladesh should start exploring such opportunities. Moreover, currently many Bangladeshi students are pursuing higher education in Korea. Therefore, Korea should also consider increasing scholarship and career opportunities for the Bangladeshi students. These will further strengthen the fraternal bond between the two countries.