For economic cooperation with South Korea
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina went on an official trip to the Republic of South Korea sometime ago. The visit was fruitful in the economic sense. Several agreements were signed during her stay in Seoul that do not signify immediate benefits for Bangladesh. But given follow-up activities on the part of the two governments, the agreements could lead to gains for Bangladesh in the areas of securing funds for its economic development, using of Korean expertise for the exploitation of its energy resources, greater opportunities for trade with that country, transfer of technology, training of Bangladeshi manpower and more jobs for Bangladeshi workers in South Korea.
The two countries had signed a deal to set up an Economic Development Fund Loan (EDFL). Under this mechanism, South Korean funds from different sources could flow to Bangladesh on easy terms and conditions to set up important infrastructures and run socially and economically important services in Bangladesh . Another deal signed for energy cooperation is of greater significance . It is expected that under this umbrella agreement or memorandum of understanding (MOU), the energy sector in Bangladesh would be aided significantly.
The state of the energy sector presently is of much concern for Bangladesh. It has become imperative for Bangladesh to tap its substantial deposits of high grade coal . It is expected that under the Dhaka-Seoul framework for cooperation in the energy sector, Korean companies would come forward in a major way to help Bangladesh to successfully mine its coal resources and produce electricity from the coal. South Korean investments in Bangladesh for coal mining and power production , are, therefore, expected to rise in the near future. It is noteworthy that South Korea is internationally reputed for experience in mining technologies. Its investments and cooperation can be very useful for Bangladesh’s nascent coal sector.
Shipbuilding is proving to be a growingly prospective area for the Bangladesh economy. South Korea is a world leader in the shipbuilding industry. The joint communiqué issued at the end of the PM’s visit stated that South Korea agreed to extend all kinds of assistance to Bangladesh to develop its shipbuilding industry. South Korean companies could also decide to invest in the shipbuilding sector in Bangladesh.
The other positive developments from the visit would be indication that Seoul might allow a further large number of Bangladeshi goods to get access in that country on a duty-free basis. Access to a greater number of Bangladeshi migrant workers was also promised as well as creation of more scholarships for Bangladeshi students and opportunities for training in South Korea by Bangladeshis.
South Korea is well known in Bangladesh. There are hundreds of South Korean companies in Bangladesh and these are found doing a good job in creating employment and helping the training of Bangladeshi workers. Both in terms of employment creation and technology transfer and skill training, the South Korean presence in Bangladesh is noted. This process only needs to be encouraged by both sides for their mutual benefits.
The PM’s South Korea visit may have been calculated to provide a stimulus to increase trade, investments and other forms of economic interactions with South Korea. The private sector in Bangladesh will need to be proactive to get the South Korean investors to be interested in Bangladesh in the wake of the PM’s visit to that country.