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Focus on diversified exports to face post-LDC challenges

Speakers tell DCCI dialogue

  • Special Correspondent
  • 20 April, 2022 12:00 AM
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Focus on diversified exports to face post-LDC challenges

Speakers suggested focusing on diversified export-oriented industrial sector to face the challenges after Bangladesh’s graduation from LDC status.

Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) organised a dialogue on “Bangladesh-South Korea Trade and Investment Cooperation: In the context of LDC graduation” on Tuesday.

Foreign Secretary Masud Bin Momen joined the event as chief guest while Chairman and CEO of Youngone Corporation Kihak Sung joined as the guest of honour.

Bangladesh Ambassador to South Korea M Delwar Hossain joined the dialogue as special guest.

DCCI President Rizwan Rahman gave the opening remarks.

While speaking about the post-LDC challenges, they speakers provided the example of South Korea’s graduation from the least developed countries bloc back in the 1970s.

They said the country put more emphasis on diversified export-oriented industrial sectors to meet the challenges and today becomes the pioneer in different export sectors including electronics, chemicals, heavy industry, automobiles and machineries.

Bangladesh can replicate this transformation from labour intensive industries to export-oriented industrial sector to overcome the upcoming challenges, they said.

Rizwan Rahman 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 and food processing, plastics, jute and jute goods, light engineering and automobiles sector and IT, said Rizwan Rahman.

He sought joint-venture Korean investment in hi-tech parks, 4IR technologies and structured economic zones.

Currently, around 95 percent of Bangladesh’s export items to South Korea receive duty-free quota-free (DFQF) facility under the preferential scheme for the LDCs. 

However, these facilities will not exist following the LDC graduation, DCCI president said.

“We urge Korea to extend DFQF and slow tariff rationalisation facility till 2030 considering our preparedness time,” he said.

“We believe that FTA will enhance the economic connectivity between Bangladesh and South Korea and South Asia,” he added.

Masud Bin Momen said South Korea is “our trusted partner and we always get assistance from the country.”

About 150 Korean companies are now operating in Bangladesh, which indicates that their keenness about investing in Bangladesh, he said,

Momen also said that government will give special focus to revisiting decades-old bilateral agreements and exploring the possibility of signing FTA.

He underscored the importance of creating skilled human resource to face the upcoming challenges.

Kihak Sung, chairman and CEO of Youngone Corporation, said that the investment of Youngone Corporation in Bangladesh is about $600 million.

 In next five years, the RMG export to Korea will reach to $1 billion, he hoped.  After LDC graduation, Kihak Sung said, Bangladesh should focus on signing a win-win FTA with Korea.

As the Korean investments are coming to Bangladesh’s high-tech industries, the stable and high quality energy supply is very important, he said.

Moreover, he called for smoother customs and port facilities, easy tax regime, smooth inland transportation system and product diversification for easy export process.

He said in next few years they are going to invest a minimum of $200 million in Bangladesh’s IT sector.   

M Delwar Hossain, Ambassador of Bangladesh to South Korea, put emphasis on regular communication between the trade bodies of both countries.

Jong Won Kim, Director General, Green Growth Department, KOTRA, said Bangladesh should now prepare itself to face the challenges of LDC graduation.

Shahab Uddin Khan, Advisor to Korea-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce, said tthe bilateral trade between Korea and Bangladesh is near $2 billion and called for simplifying the process of starting a business.

DCCI Senior Vice President Arman Haque gave the concluding remarks at the function.