Bangladesh, Korea to make joint efforts to boost trade ties; explore untapped potential

Bangladesh and South Korea on Wednesday agreed to make joint efforts to maximise the yet untapped potential of cooperation between the two countries.

South Korean Ambassador to Bangladesh Lee Jang-keun met Commerce Minister Tipu Munshi and further discussed strengthening bilateral ties in trade and investment.

They appreciated Korea and Bangladesh’s excellent relations during the past several decades.

As of 2020, according to Bangladesh Bank, Korea is the fifth largest investor in Bangladesh, after the US, UK, the Netherlands, and Singapore, with US$1.17 billion of total accumulated stock investment.

Korea is the largest foreign investor in EPZs with 75 companies operating in the EPZs. Youngone, the operator of KEPZ, is the largest Korean investor in Bangladesh, which employs around 70,000 local workers.

Despite the close ties between the two countries, however, bilateral trade volume has remained stagnant at the level of $1.6 billion for several years.

Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Korea’s export to Bangladesh decreased by 19.4% last year to $1.03 billion from $1.28 billion the year before. Bangladesh’s export to Korea decreased by 2.9% to $393 million in 2020 from $405 million in 2019.

While garment and textile, leather are major export items of Bangladesh, steel and machinery closely related to investment activities are the main export items of Korea to Bangladesh.

Korea is providing duty and quota-free access to the Korean market to 95% of Bangladesh products since 2012. Both sides agreed to make efforts to diversify items of export and import.

To this end, the commercial ministries of the two countries organised a webinar on Exploring Trade and Investment Opportunities between Korea and Bangladesh on January 27, 2021.

Ambassador Lee spoke highly of the impressive accomplishment of the Bangladesh economy amid tremendous challenges from the coronavirus pandemic and expressed solidarity with the government and Bangladesh people in the fight against the virus.

Ambassador Lee asked Minister Munshi to lend assistance to the Korean companies having invested in Bangladesh for their successful business operation in the country and provide foreign investors with favourable business environments.

He emphasised the importance of the success of KEPZ in attracting major investment by Korean companies.