Korean help sought to improve ease of doing business and timely project implementation

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STRONG POINTS:

  • Bilateral trade has multiplied by more than 600 in almost 50 years
  • Korea is the fifth largest FDI source country for Bangladesh with a cumulative FDI stock of over $1.3 billion
  • Currently, more than 150 Korean companies have a significant presence in Bangladesh

Foreign Minister AK Abdul Momen has requested South Korea’s help to improve ease of doing business and timely project implementation in Bangladesh, as the country lags behind on these indicators.

“In Bangladesh, whenever we start a project, apparently it never ends. I know of an example where a project took 10 years but it was supposed to be completed in two years. In all our projects, there are delays and delays, leading to additional expense,” Momen said at a seminar on “50 Years of Korea-Bangladesh Relations: Presentation of the University of Dhaka Study.”

In the past, the condition was also the same in Korea. However, the country has made significant changes in the implementation of the project by adopting certain rules. Globally, it ranked first in “contract completion”, Momen said during the program organized by the University of Dhaka’s East Asia Study Centre, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh and the South Korean Embassy in Dhaka on Thursday at the Foreign Service Academy. .

“In South Korea, they established rules that the project is successful when it ends on time or before time and the individual, regardless of seniority, would be given a strategic promotion position. as well as other inducements. If there is any delay, the official involved would be punished, demoted and even imprisoned,” he added.

Even though Bangladesh’s position on a World Bank Global Business Regulation Index has improved, it still lags far behind other South Asian countries.

On the index based on the global lender’s Doing Business 2020 study, Bangladesh jumped eight positions while India rose 14 positions.

Among the 190 countries measured in the study, Bangladesh ranks 168th while South Korea ranks 5th.

Pointing to the question, Momen said, “We have only developed eight ranks in the ease of doing business indicator, but we need to do it much better. This is an area, let us know how South Korea South can help us.”

South Korea is one of Bangladesh’s major trading partners. It is the fifth largest source country of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for Bangladesh with a cumulative FDI stock of over $1.3 billion.

Findings from a study presented at the event revealed that from just $3.31 million in 1973, two-way trade topped $2 billion for the first time in 2021. This represents an increase more than 600 times in almost 50 years.

“Although the past decade has shown some downturns in global trade relations, the first year of the current decade is indicative of the fact that trade relations are on the verge of a strong rebound,” said Md Ali Siddiquee, Assistant Professor of Relations international at the University. from Dhaka.

“Bangladesh is one of the largest recipients of South Korea’s soft loan as a priority partner country for official development assistance (ODA), and hopes to remain a priority partner country even beyond our passage. official status as a developing country in 2026,” AK said. Abdul Momen.

He appreciated the South Korean government for preferential market access for Bangladeshi products covering 95% of tariff lines.

“We hope that the South Korean government will continue to extend preferential market access to our products even after 2026 so that bilateral trade can continue to grow with a favorable trade balance between our two friendly countries,” he said. he declares.

Momen also called for South Korea’s additional initiative and proactive action to expedite Rohingya repatriation, noting that they have leverage effects on Myanmar.

Currently, more than 150 Korean companies have a significant presence in Bangladesh.

During the seminar, South Korean Ambassador Lee Jang-keun said that the current geopolitical situation, to some extent, creates more opportunities than challenges for Bangladesh and South Korea for closer collaboration.

“Companies have realized the risks of geopolitical confrontations and the need to diversify their investments and partners. In this situation, Bangladesh is increasingly becoming an attractive partner for Korean companies,” he said. .

The ambassador said Korea is becoming an increasingly attractive partner for Bangladesh to reduce or avoid geopolitical risk.

Obviously, he said, the current geopolitical situation in the world poses serious challenges to all, not only internationally but also regionally and bilaterally.

Lee Jang-keun said the resulting disruptions in the global supply chain have put many countries in trouble, including Korea and Bangladesh.

“We all need to cooperate more than before to overcome today’s unprecedented geopolitical challenges,” he added.

Although Korean companies started investing in Bangladesh in the early 1980s, mainly in the textile and clothing sectors, Korean investors have now started investing in various sectors such as leather and leather products, consumer electronics, mobile phones, home appliances, automotive, ICT and infrastructure. .

Bangladesh’s Ambassador to South Korea, Delwar Hossain, virtually joined the program chaired by Professor Delwar Hossain of the University of Dhaka.

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