Webinar highlights stronger Dhaka-Seoul trade ties, FTA

Speakers at a webinar on Tuesday sought stronger trade partnership and collaboration between Bangladesh and South Korea; and suggested exploring a free-trade agreement (FTA) between the two countries.

They recognised that Korea is a major development partner of Bangladesh and is the third leading Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) providing nation to Bangladesh.

South Korea brought the first-ever FDI to Bangladesh in the RMG sector. Korean FDI in Bangladesh continues to increase moderately; gross inflow peaked up to $1,122.86 million in December 2018, according to the Bangladesh Embassy in Korea.

ROK was the first country to set up an exclusive foreign Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) in Bangladesh and is still one of the top sources of FDI, especially in the textile and garment sector. It is increasingly engaging itself in the infrastructure, energy, ICT and Medical equipment sectors.

More than 200 ROK companies have so far invested in Bangladesh, the embassy notes. In the 2019-20 fiscal, Bangladesh’s export to Korea amounted to $352.82 million.

The South Asian Institute of Policy and Governance (SIPG) of North South University (NSU) and Embassy of the Republic of Korea (ROK) in Dhaka organised the webinar titled “Bangladesh-Republic of Korea: The 47th Anniversary of Diplomatic Ties”.

The panelists discussed the relationships between Bangladesh and Korea from political, economic, and cultural perspectives.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen thanked South Korea for supporting Bangladesh during the pandemic and also with the Rohingya crisis, regarding which he hopes to see a more proactive role from ROK for the repatriation.

South Korean Ambassador to Bangladesh Lee Jang-keun gave a comprehensive introduction on similar history and culture between the Republic of Korea and Bangladesh.

Chairman and CEO of Youngone Corporation Sung Ki-hak said how time has come to possibly start negotiating an FTA between Bangladesh and Republic of Korea.

He said with the pace and strength of the strong partnership between the industries and diplomatic ties of Bangladesh and Korea, together both can achieve global excellence.

Bangladesh Ambassador to South Korea Abida Islam said both countries’ businesses need to participate more in trade partnership and collaboration.

She spoke about the popularity of K-pop drama and music among Bangladeshi youth and how the two countries can invest on that venture in terms of cultural exchange.

Dr Sk Tawfique M Haque, Director, SIPG, NSU gave the welcome speech and SIPG’s Senior Fellow and former Foreign Secretary Shahidul Haque moderated the discussion.

While professor and Dean, School of Business and Economics of NSU, Dr Abdul Hannan Chowdhury, highlighted the importance of collaboration in terms of knowledge, technology and skill transfers, Prof Delwar Hossain of the Department of International Relations, the University of Dhaka, addressed the challenges and scopes of the Bangladesh-Korea relationship in terms of geopolitics.

Regarding bilateral and economic collaboration, Prof Choe Wongi, Head of Center for ASEAN-Indian Studies, IFANS, elaborated on the core elements of the new Southern Policy of Korea and the benefits of the Republic of Korea joining the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA) where Bangladesh will be the chair for 2021-2023.

Director of Asia and Pacific Division 2, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Shin Dong Woo, said Bangladesh will need to reassure Korean investors on the advantageous economic potential and also consider collaborating in other sectors like energy and ICT.

Khondker Talha, DG of East Asia and Pacific Wing, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, addressed the importance to find out the effects of partnership when Bangladesh graduates from LDC.

Professor Atiqul Islam, Vice-Chancellor of NSU, in his vote of thanks mentioned NSU’s interest to make relevant input in policy making regarding Korean and Bangladesh relationship.

Source: United News of Bangladesh