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Solutions to drive Korean business activity in Bangladesh discussed


Solutions to drive Korean business activity in Bangladesh discussed

Standard Chartered, the Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Bangladesh, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Bangladesh Bank, and Korea-Bangladesh Chamber of Commerce & Industries (KBCCI) recently organised a dialogue on the topic “Thrive in Bangladesh: Actionable insights and solutions for Korean businesses.” The event brought senior stakeholders from the private sector, chambers of commerce, think tanks, and government together to discuss actions that can be taken to promote and drive Korean business activity in Bangladesh.

The event focused on driving collaboration and facilitating the development of infrastructure, trade, investment flows, and sustainable finance. As one of the largest foreign investors in Bangladesh, Standard Chartered plays a leading role in attracting foreign trade and investment. Through meaningful discussions in the presence of subject matter experts, the dialogue addressed the concerns that Korean investors have – with the goal of improving the business climate in Bangladesh. The insights and recommendations compiled from this dialogue will be shared with relevant policymaking and regulatory bodies to help Korean business prosper in Bangladesh.

Speaking at the event, Naser Ezaz Bijoy, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered Bangladesh, expressed his heartfelt gratitude to the Republic of Korea for its unwavering support in fostering the prosperity of Bangladesh. He said, “As the fourth largest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) for Bangladesh, South Korea makes significant contributions, particularly in trade, investment, landmark infrastructure projects, and manufacturing. Standard Chartered has been a vital stakeholder in the flourishing partnership between our two nations. Yet, the potential for further diversification remains vast. Despite the existing challenges, I firmly believe that by effectively managing exchange rate volatility and leveraging arbitrage opportunities, we can fortify the economic prospects for both Bangladesh and Korea.”

H.E. Park Young-sik, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Bangladesh, stated, “Korea aims to establish long-term, strategic relations with Bangladesh, focusing on sustainable gains and realistic commitments. Current discussions involve projects supported by the Economic Development Cooperation Fund, soft loans from the Korean government, and public-private partnerships. While Bangladesh offers competitive labour costs, technology is increasingly important. To attract foreign investors, Bangladesh must improve its business climate. Pursuing qualitative economic growth requires transparency, accountability, and collaboration between the government and the private sector.”

Mohsina Yasmin, Executive Member (Investment Promotion) of Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA) said, “BIDA and Standard Chartered aim to position Bangladesh as a premier investment destination by combining Standard Chartered Bank's networking with BIDA's investment facilitation efforts. The goal is to attract global investors and drive sustainable development across various sectors. We have implemented many reforms under the World Bank's Doing Business program and developed BIDA’s Bangladesh Investment Climate Improvement Program to facilitate investors.” In her reassuring speech, she insisted the investors use BIDA's online one-stop service portal with 124 services from 41 agencies. In the BICIP, reforms are undertaken in the 7 reform indicators.

Samsoo Kim, Director General, Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA), said, “While Korean companies have invested in Bangladesh's textile industry for over 40 years, investment in other manufacturing sectors is still low. Enhancing industrial infrastructure, such as improving the artificial fibre supply chain, is essential for the textile industry. To attract more Korean investment in manufacturing, it is crucial to simplify public laws, streamline accounting and tax processes, and ensure consistent tax regulation application. Additionally, reducing delays in licensing, administrative procedures, and customs clearance will make Bangladesh more appealing to investors. Addressing these issues will foster a favourable business environment, encouraging increased Korean investment and driving growth in Bangladesh's manufacturing sector.”

Abu Saleh Mohammad Shahab Uddin, Director, Foreign Exchange Investment Department, Bangladesh Bank, said, “Korea ranks as Bangladesh's fourth largest investment source country in terms of FDI stocks, with many Korean firms eager for increased involvement in major infrastructure projects. Gratitude is extended to Standard Chartered Bank for hosting the seminar. The Central Bank's June 2023 circular permits all investors, regardless of location, to retain equity funds in foreign currency to mitigate exchange losses. Investors can transfer their dividend into Foreign Currency Account with AD banks in Bangladesh and the balances lying in this account can be remitted abroad or reinvested further. Investors are free to engage with any buyer to sell their shares and remit the sales proceeds by demonstrating fair valuation. Moreover, investors can now remotely open temporary accounts through BIDA’s OSS platform, eliminating the need for physical presence or local assistance. Multinational firms in Bangladesh enjoy flexible financing options, including working capital and long-term loans from local banks. Korean firms can establish project-adjacent branches and transfer funds from their headquarters as per BIDA guidelines.”

In his closing address, Enamul Huque, Managing Director and Head of Corporate Coverage, Corporate and Investment Banking (CIB), Standard Chartered Bangladesh, said, “This partnership aims to build a knowledge-based economy through BIDA’s one-stop platform, the various reform agendas from the World Bank policy framework, and support for existing clients. Our goal is to implement necessary changes for diverse stakeholders while enhancing communication to facilitate Korean and Bangladeshi investment opportunities. The dedicated Bangladesh-Korea team at Standard Chartered focuses on assisting Korean businesses in investing and operating in Bangladesh.”

Standard Chartered Bangladesh’s Korea Desk is a dedicated to helping Korean businesses to invest and operate in Bangladesh seamlessly. A newly introduced guidebook, titled “Doing Business in Bangladesh” – written in both English and Korean – serves as a handy resource for Korean businesses. The Bank offers Korean clientele the most extensive network among international banks in Bangladesh, combined with a strong presence in South Korea. By bolstering existing trade corridors and making cross-border trade easier, Standard Chartered is poised to poised to support businesses with on-the-ground advisory and innovative financial solutions that meet local and cross-border needs.

– Press release

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