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The Financial Express

Korea raises ODA to $3b for Bangladesh

| Updated: October 13, 2022 08:33:50


Flags of Bangladesh and South Korea are seen cross-pinned in this photo symbolising friendship between the two nations Flags of Bangladesh and South Korea are seen cross-pinned in this photo symbolising friendship between the two nations

Seoul has recently decided to significantly increase its development loans for Dhaka to $3 billion from $700 million for a period of five years, Korean envoy Lee Jang Keun said.

On the development front, he cited, Bangladesh has been one of the priority partner countries of Korean cooperation being the third-largest recipient of Korean ODA (official development assistance).

"Another important area of Korea-Bangladesh relations is the increasing number of Bangladeshi expatriate workers admitted to Korea through the EPS (employment permit system)," Mr Lee added.

He made the observations while addressing a programme marking National Day of Korea on Sunday evening.

Every year, 2,000 workers on average are newly employed in Korea, and the remittance they send home reached $209 million in fiscal year 2020, making Korea the twelfth-largest remittance-sourcing country.

According to Mr Lee, the number of Bangladeshi workers going to Korea has more than doubled this year and is expected to be almost 5,000.

"But the important thing is not just the number of workers or the amount of remittance but their Korean experiences are changing their and their families' lives," the envoy said.

He recently met two ex-Bangladeshi expatriate workers returning from Korea who are now running medium-sized companies.

"They are the living testimony of what Korea-Bangladesh friendship looks like. Undoubtedly, these expatriate workers are becoming more and more unique and invaluable assets in taking our bilateral relations to a higher level."

Mr Lee mentioned that the bilateral trade reached a historic high in 2022, recording $2.3 billion.

"It's a very meaningful achievement as the bilateral trade volume stagnated for almost 10 years after it had reached a peak of $1.8 billion in 2011," he added.

"Now, Korea and Bangladesh are set to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties in 2023. Our golden jubilee next year will be a milestone year for the future of Korea-Bangladesh friendship and partnership."

"Cherishing the close ties we have earnestly cultivated for the past five decades, we will renew our commitment to each other and take a bold step forward together for a closer, deeper, stronger and brighter future."

Expatriate affairs minister Imran Ahmed Chowdhury also spoke on the occasion.

The Korean envoy recalled that Korea and Korean companies have been with Bangladesh in the beginning, growing and thriving of Bangladesh's RMG industry.

"It's a well-known story that the partnership between Bangladesh's Desh Garment and Korean company Daewoo Corporation in 1979 planted the seeds of the Bangladesh RMG industry," he said.

"The first country-specific private export processing zone KEPZ, established in Chattogram, has been a symbol of Korea-Bangladesh business ties."

Korea is currently the fifth-largest FDI investor in Bangladesh, with more than 70 per cent of Korea's investment in the RMG sector, Mr Lee concluded.

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