FT Online

Published:
2019-07-15 11:12:06 BdST

S Korea to consider duty-free access of BD products to its market


South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon on Sunday assured Bangladesh of considering duty-free and quota-free market access for all Bangladeshi products to their market as the bilateral trade is heavily tilted towards Korea.

The assurance came during the official talks between Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina and her South Korean counterpart Lee Nak-yon at the Prime Minister’s Office. 

During the talks, Sheikh Hasina requested South Korea to consider allowing duty-free and quota-free market access for all of Bangladeshi products without any exception to narrow down the trade imbalance as the trade between the two countries is heavily tilted towards Korea. 

PM's Press Secretary Ihsanul Karim briefed reporters after the official talks.

Both the Prime Ministers led their respective sides at the 40-minute talks.

“The Korean side informed that they have earmarked US$ 1 billion ODA for Bangladesh for 2020,” Ihsanul Karim said.

He said different bilateral issues, including trade, commerce, investment, technical cooperation and Rohingya, were discussed at the summit.

At the bilateral talks, Hasina said Korea has substantial investment in textiles, tanneries and footwear factories in EPZs of Bangladesh.

Recalling that Korean companies were the first to invest in the RMG sector in Bangladesh during her first term in 1996-2001, she said Korea may invest in 'Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Shilpa Nagar' which is the most potential investment hub for the investors under G2G and PPP model.

The Prime Minister urged South Korea to import woven garments, pharmaceuticals, knitwear, jute and jute products, leather and leather goods, frozen food, ceramic items from Bangladesh.

On the Rohingya issue, the Korean team highly appreciated Bangladesh for giving shelter to the forcibly-displaced people. They said anything that they can do they will do over the Rohingya issue, Ihsanul Karim said.

Noting that Bangladesh is a very potential country, the Korean team members said there are huge investment opportunities here. 

They said Korea wants to cooperate with Bangladesh in energy, ICT and defence sectors.
 
The South Korean Prime Minister highly praised Sheikh Hasina as Bangladesh achieved remarkable progress under her leadership and appreciated 8 percent GDP growth that Bangladesh attained in the last fiscal year.

Noting that 1000 Bangladeshi students are now pursuing study in South Korea, the visiting team said they will increase the number of Bangladeshi students and they want the students to engage in jobs in South Korea on completion of their study.

The Bangladesh Prime Minister emphasised intensifying cooperation between the two countries in trade, investment, energy and infrastructure development and transfer of technology.

She said Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) is making important contribution to health, education and social welfare sectors as well. “We appreciate Korean fund for improvement of the reliability and safety of national highway corridors by Intelligent Transport System (ITS). KOICA’s support to human resources development of Bangladesh civil service is praiseworthy,” Hasina said.

Acknowledging the support of Korea Telecom to establish digital connectivity in Maheshkhali island, she sought Korea’s cooperation in setting up e-waste recycling plant, introducing Korean language learning programme at Sheikh Russel Digital Lab and establishing digital security agency.

Mentioning that Bangladesh and South Korea are maritime nations, she proposes implementing an integrated Maritime Navigation System in Bangladesh with Korean Exim Bank Fund under EDCF. 

As many Bangladeshis are now working in Korea under Employment Permit System (EPS) in only the manufacturing sector, Hasina urged for reopening other sectors, including agriculture, construction, fisheries and service, for Bangladeshi workers. “Collaboration with a Korean commercial bank can assist our workers in Korea to send remittance through legal channel.” 

On his arrival at the Prime Minister’s Office at 4:20pm, Sheikh Hasina received the South Korean Prime Minister at the Tiger gate with bouquet and then the two leaders moved to the meeting room.

Both the prime ministers also held a tete-a-tete before the official talks. 

After the talks, three instruments were signed between Dhaka and Seoul.

South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon arrived here on Saturday afternoon on a three-day official visit.

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