Bangladesh seeks more Korean investment

A lady checks finger ring at a stall during the Dhaka International Trade Fair 2011 in Dhaka, capital of Bangladesh, Jan. 3, 2011. The fair, starting from Jan. 1, will last for a month. (Photo : Xinhua/Shariful Islam)

Dhaka – Bangladeshi businessmen want Korean entrepreneurs to invest more in this country for the benefit of both the nations. They said immense potential for South Korean investment exists in Bangladesh due to its geographic location and competitive labour force. The business leaders expressed this opinion on June 23 (Sunday) in Dhaka at a seminar on strategic partnership between Bangladesh and South Korea. The seminar was co-organised by the Korean embassy in Dhaka, Bangladesh foreign ministry and Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS). The event was designed to mark the 40th anniversary of Bangladesh-Korea Diplomatic Relationship, at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel in the city.

The seminar was told that South Korea remains as a leading investor in Bangladesh while Korean private investment as of 2010 stood at over US $698 million. Until August 2010, the number of companies from Korea registered with the Board of Investment in Bangladesh was 328. The major sectors that Korea has invested in are agro-based, food and allied industries, textiles, chemicals, engineering and services sector.

“Given the opportunities, we need to gear towards trade in services such as tourism, medical services, education, finance and business consultancy,” said Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, president of the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), the apex trade body of the country.

Joint collaboration in areas of energy, infrastructure, technology, human resources development and services would foster a successful partnership between Bangladesh and South Korea, said Ahmed.

Joint efforts should be made to develop a system of accreditation to ensure the quality and standards of products to Korean markets, said Sabur Khan, president of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI).

“New investment opportunities will be created in the country when the government enacts the private public partnerships rules,” he said and urged the Korean companies to invest in infrastructure and IT services.

Saiful Islam, chairman of Western Marine, a private company, urged Korean entrepreneurs to invest in shipbuilding, light engineering and automobiles.

The issue of bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Korea also came up for discussion at the seminar. The total volume and value of bilateral trade between the two countries continue to grow, but it is in Koreas favour. Two-way trade between the two countries has exceeded US $1.7 billion in 2011-2012 fiscal year, with exports to Korea standing at US $209.7 million and imports from Korea at US $1.54 billion.

Choongjae Cho, head of the South Asia team of Korea Institute for International Economic Policy, said “There are opportunities to enhance Bangladesh and Korea trade relations … Bangladeshis are well acquainted with Korean products. However the same cannot be said for Bangladeshi products in Korea.” He suggested for holding a single country trade fair of Bangladeshi products in Korea on a regular basis to make the Korean consumers aware of good quality Bangladeshi products.

Although Bangladesh enjoys a duty free quota free access to Korea for around 291 items including garments, exports to Korea are yet to pick up. The speakers at the seminar stressed on vigorous approach by Bangladeshi traders to boost their exports to Korea utilizing the existing duty free quota free access on 291 items.

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