South Korean Ambassador in Dhaka Lee Jang-keun has said that with the big and strong support of the business sectors, he has no doubt that the future of the bilateral relations, the next 50 years and 100 years, is “very bright”.
“For me, as a government representative to this country, I would like to express my deep appreciation again to the companies and businessmen of our two countries for their contribution and support,” he said, assuring that the “Korean government will always stand by you and render our best support for your success”.
“Because your success, the success of the business sector and companies means the success of the government, the country,” he said while speaking at the Showcase Korea 2023 on Saturday.
Prime Minister’s adviser Salman Fazlur Rahman, Mayor of Dhaka north Atiqul Islam, President of Korea-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce and Industries and Chairman of Meghna Group of Industries Mostafa Kamal, FBCCI President Jashim Uddin, and President of the Korean Community in Bangladesh Yoo Young-ho were also present.
The Showcase Korea has been a trademark of the KBCCI which was regularly organised before the pandemic to promote the trade and business relations of our two countries.
This year, the Showcase Korea 2023 is being held in celebration of the 50th diplomatic anniversary between Korea and Bangladesh.
“Observing this meaningful year, I strongly believe that this year should be a momentous year for the future of our two countries’ relations. It should be a landmark year to take our already close relations into a new and higher level,” he said.
Already, there are many positive and promising signs and good news that are happening in recent years, especially last and this year, he said, sharing few of them.
In trade side, he said, bilateral trade volume between Korea and Bangladesh has been stagnant, even decreasing for almost 10 years after it reached 1.6 billion dollars in 2012.
The corona pandemic even shrunk the trade volume down to 1.4 billion dollars. But finally it strongly bounced back in 2021 reaching 2.2 billion US dollars, and further jumped in 2022 crossing 3 billion dollars. The trade volume doubled in just two years, he said.
“Second, in investment, Korea has been one of the top investors in Bangladesh during the past several decades. Korea is now the 6th largest foreign investor in Bangladesh with an accumulated stock volume of 1.43 billion dollars.
“During the recent several years, global Korean companies like Samsung and Hyundai have been increasing their engagement with Bangladesh through their local partners.
“Samsung opened its assembly factory in Bangladesh in 2013 and now assembles locally most of its electronic devices including mobile phones.
“You may all know that Hyundai Motors opened its assembly factory in the Bangabandhu Hi-Tech Park in partnership with Fair Group of Bangladesh.
“Just as it happened in the RMG sector, the collaboration with the global Korean companies will bring about a huge industrial development effect to Bangladesh.
“Third, expatriate worker is an area where we see a remarkable development recently.
“Currently around 20,000 Bangladesh workers are working in Korea. Korea was the 13th largest wage remittance source country by Bangladesh expatriate workers. The remittance in the 20/21 fiscal year was 209 million US dollars. Korea has been taking 1,500 Bangladesh workers annually through the EPS system.
“But this number increased more than tripled last year, from 1,500 to 6,000. This year the number of workers allocated to Bangladesh will further increase to 10,000.
“This means that the remittance from Korea to Bangladesh will significantly increase this year. Here I have to note that the minimum wage Bangladesh workers are getting in Korea is 2,000 dollars per month,” he said.
“Fourth and last, the volume of Korea’s ODA, Official Development Assistance, has significantly increased last year. In particular, Korea decided to increase the volume of its soft loan to Bangladesh, what we call EDCF, from 700 million dollars to 3 billion dollars for the five year period. It is a more than four-fold increase.
“Considering the very good condition of Korea’s soft loan, less than 0.1 percent of interest rate with 40 years of repayment, it will greatly help Bangladesh to conduct important socio-economic development projects.
“It will also help the Bangladesh government for a smooth transition from the LDC to the middle income country.
“All these significant developments in the bilateral relations between Korea and Bangladesh show the willingness and interest of Korea to further strengthen and deepen our relations and take the relations into a higher level,” said the ambassador.
Korea’s such willingness was well testified and conveyed during the visit of Korea’s Presidential Special Envoy ten days ago.
“Trade, business and investment relations have been the backbone of Korea-Bangladesh relations,” he said.
“Private companies and businessmen have played an essential role in cultivating, strengthening and deepening our bilateral ties.”