Visiting South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said his country is willing to invest in energy, infrastructure, and ICT in Bangladesh to boost economic cooperation between the two nations.
The Asian economic dynamo is also interested in investing in other potential sectors, which would help Bangladesh diversify its products away from the readymade garment products.
The assurance came when the Korean premier, who arrived in Dhaka on Saturday on a three-day visit, was delivering the keynote address at the Bangladesh-Korea Business Forum held at a city hotel.
Sunday's forum was themed 'Promoting Business Ties Today: Bringing Mutual Prosperity Tomorrow.'
Presenting the keynote paper, the Korean prime minister said his country wants to help Bangladesh set up hi-tech industrial parks for manufacturing diversified products.
"I hope the Korea-Bangladesh Business Forum will help advance bilateral relations between the two countries to a new level," Mr Lee said.
Industries minister Nurul Majid Mahmud Humayun, commerce minister Tipu Munshi, the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) president Sheikh Fazle Fahim and Korea International Trade Association (KITA) CEO and Chairman Young Ju Kim spoke at the Forum.It was jointly organised by KITA and the FBCCI.
The premier praised the significant progress that Bangladesh made in recent years.
Referring to the Korean support for the energy and infrastructure sectors in Bangladesh, he said his country would like to extend more assistance to these fields.
Lee said Korea will help set up more ICT educational institutes and hire IT professionals from Bangladesh for enhancing their skills level by imparting training to them.
The Korean premier also laid emphasis on utilising the full potentials of the Korean EPZ in Chittagong.
Prime Minister's adviser on private industry and investment Salman F Rahman and the business leaders were present.
Terming Korea a significant development partner of Bangladesh, the commerce minister expressed the hope that the visit of the Korean Prime Minister would open up new opportunities for cooperation in many areas.
The industries minister noted Korea is the 6th largest foreign investor in Bangladesh and his ministry is working to make the environment conducive for the investors.
He expressed the hope that the KITA in cooperation with the FBCCI would continue its efforts to materialise its mission to promote trade and investment in Bangladesh, Korea and the rest of the Asian region through creating a dynamic platform for networking, promotion and business services.
He urged the Korean PM to take initiatives so that Korea can recruit more Bangladeshis to his country.
FBCCI President Sheikh Fazle Fahim said Bangladesh offers one of the most liberal and flexible investment regimes in South Asia to attract foreign direct investment.
"The issue of ease of doing business is being addressed at the highest level and the improvement will be visible from the third quarter of this year," he said.
He said South Korea's Super Petrochemical has proposed investments worth US$ 2.38 billion in petrochemicals, which will positively contribute towards investment relations between the two countries.
As an important trade partner, the FBCCI chief said the bilateral trade between Bangladesh and Korea stood at US$ 1.5 billion in the last fiscal year.
Mr Fahim said the prospect for bilateral trade is bright as over 90 per cent of Bangladeshi products enjoy duty-free and quota-free access to the Korean market.
He highlighted a number of areas to deepen economic cooperation between the two countries that include business cooperation and investments through mergers and acquisition in electronics, automobiles, telecommunications, shipbuilding, chemicals and steel.
The apex trade body chief laid emphasis on joint high-tech research, development and innovation and joint ventures in light, medium and heavy industries.
He also talked about the importance of joint exploration and joint ventures in the blue economy.
The FBCCI and the KITA signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to strengthen economic and commercial relations.
Sheikh Fahim and Yung Zu Kim signed the MoU on behalf of their respective sides.
Earlier, two sessions titled 'Korean Government's New Southern Policy and Korea-Bangladesh Cooperation Strategies' and 'Best Practices of Korea-Bangladesh Cooperation' were held.
Executive member of the Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) Nabhash Chandra Mandal made a presentation on 'Korea-Bangladesh Investment Cooperation and Future Outlook and Senior Vice President of KT Corporation Lee Sun Joo presented separate paper on 'KT-Bangladesh Partnership'.
In the second session, KEPZ president Jahangir Saadat made a presentation on 'Best Practices in Youngone & Korean EPZ' while Regional Director of Hyundai Engineering and Construction RyuChul Ho made a presentation on 'The Bridge of Mutual Cooperation.'
Director of Bangladesh Computer Council Mohammad Enamul Kabir made another presentation on 'Korea-Bangladesh IT Cooperation.'
Bangladesh exported goods worth $293.69 million to South Korea in 2018-19 and imported products worth US$ 981.20 million, according to FBCCI.
The import items from South Korea are vehicles, aircraft, vessels and associated transport equipment, base metals, articles of base metal, machinery and mechanical appliances, electrical and electronics equipment and parts and chemical products.
The major export products of Bangladesh to South Korea are knitwear, woven garments, footwear and leather and leather goods etc.
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