Bangladesh can sign FTA with South Korea after LDC graduation: Envoy

Some 93 per cent of Bangladeshi products get duty and quota-free market access in South Korea.

South Korean ambassador to Bangladesh Lee Jang-Keun Thursday suggested Bangladesh explore a free trade agreement (FTA) with his country after the South Asian country graduates from the club of least developed countries (LDCs).

South Korea already has FTAs with around 70 countries, including China, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, and Europe, he said. "Also, Bangladesh and Korea have close trade ties."

The East Asian nation is the fifth-largest source of FDI for Bangladesh, and most of the investments come from the manufacturing sector. Some 93 per cent of Bangladeshi products get duty and quota-free market access in South Korea.

However, there is a huge potential for South Korean nationals to invest in the pharmaceutical and ICT sectors in Bangladesh, the ambassador said.

Also, for more export competitiveness, he suggested improving product diversification.

The ambassador identified business to business contacts, exchange of delegations, and chamber to chamber interactions crucial for increasing bilateral trade and narrowing the trade gap.

The South Korean ambassador met with Rizwan Rahman, president of the Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), on Thursday and discussed trade and investment cooperation between the two countries.

There is a steady increase in bilateral trade between the two countries, which currently stands at approximately $1.6 billion, Rizwan said. "Of the total bilateral trade, Bangladesh's export to the Republic of Korea stood at $398.66 million in the fiscal year 2020-21. The cumulative stock of FDI from South Korea to Bangladesh reached $1030.67 million."

So, the DCCI president invited Korean investors to invest in leather and footwear, shipbuilding, pharmaceuticals, backward linkage of apparel, automotive and infrastructure, agro-processing, power sector, and electronics sectors.

He also requested the envoy to relocate Korean sunset industries to Bangladesh.

The DCCI and the South Korean embassy can work together for improving the business climate by signing a bilateral FTA, Rizwan said.