Bangladesh can replicate South Korea's transformation from labour intensive industries to export-oriented industrial sector to overcome the upcoming challenges of LDC graduation as well as to prepare for the future.
After South Korea's graduation from the LDC basket back in the 70s, the country put more emphasis on diversified export-oriented industrial sectors and that is why today South Korea is a pioneer in manufacturing and exporting electronics, chemicals, heavy industry, automobiles and machineries.
Speakers said these at a virtual dialogue on "Bangladesh-South Korea Trade and Investment Cooperation: In the context of LDC graduation" arranged by Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry on 19 April, reads a press release.
Senior Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Masud Bin Momen joined the event as chief guest while Chairman and CEO of Youngone Corporation Kihak Sung joined as guest of honour.
Ambassador of Bangladesh to South Korea M Delwar Hossain joined the dialogue as special guest.
President of Dhaka Chamber Rizwan Rahman in his opening remarks said South Korea was the 10th largest exporter to Bangladesh in 2021.
In 2021, bilateral trade of Bangladesh and South Korea was around $1.525 billion with a negative balance of $727 million for Bangladesh.
Bangladesh has many other promising and priority industrial sectors like Agro & Food Processing, Plastic manufacturing, Jute and jute goods, light Engineering and automobiles sector, Hi-tech parks, 4IR technologies and structured economic zones where Korea can invest in the form of Joint venture, said Rizwan Rahman.
Currently, around 95% of our export items to South Korea receives Duty-Free Quota-Free (DFQF) facility under the preferential scheme for the LDCs.
However, these facilities will not exist after LDC graduation.
"Despite this fact, we urge Korea to extend DFQF and slow tariff rationalisation facility till 2030 considering our preparation time for the next transformation", said Rizwan Rahman.
"Considering our deep economic tie, the feasibility of signing FTA can also be assessed. We believe that FTA will enhance the economic connectivity of South Korea with Bangladesh and South Asian region," Rizwan Rahman added.
Senior Secretary of Ministry of Foreign Affairs Masud Bin Momen, said, "S Korea is our trusted partner and we always have assistance from the country. About 150 S Korean companies are now in operation in Bangladesh that indicates their keenness about investing in Bangladesh."
He also expressed his hope that after Bangladesh's LDC graduation, S Korea may continue preferential treatment for Bangladeshi export items.
Kihak Sung, chairman and CEO of Youngone Corporation said that the investment of Youngone Corporation in Bangladesh is about $600 million. In next five year time RMG export to S Korea will reach to $1 billion, he hoped.
After LDC graduation, Kihak Sung said that Bangladesh should focus to sign a win-win FTA with S Korea prior to a high level consultation. As S. Korean investment are coming to Bangladesh's high-tech industries, therefore, stable and high quality energy supply is very important, he opined.
M Delwar Hossain, ambassador of Bangladesh to South Korea said that after LDC graduation we will be in need of robust product diversification to increase our export to South Korea to mitigate the trade gap.
Jong Won Kim, director general, Green Growth Department, KOTRA said that Bangladesh should now prepare itself to face the challenges of LDC graduation. He also said that Bangladesh needs to give emphasis on export oriented industrialisation rather than giving more focus to labour intensive industries.
Shahab Uddin Khan, advisor, Korea-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce said that the bilateral trade between S Korea and Bangladesh is near $2 billion and it has got a momentum in last few years.
Dhaka Chamber's Senior Vice President Arman Haque gave the concluding remarks at the function.