KARACHI: Consul General of Republic of Korea Yi Sungho informed that the Korean Government was setting up an IT Center in Karachi near the Airport which, upon completion, would provide an excellent opportunity to young IT startups to move to this IT Center and start working with Korea.

“A similar IT center’s construction work has already been completed in Islamabad as well because the Korean government is keen to support Pakistan in developing its IT sector, however, Pakistan needs to come up with strong policies to train and educate young people in the IT sector and must also invest more money on the education and training to find some geniuses who could bring in revolution not only in the IT but also other sectors of economy”, he added while speaking at a meeting during his visit to the Karachi Chamber of Commerce & Industry (KCCI).

President KCCI Mohammed Tariq Yousuf, Vice President KCCI Mohammad Haris Agar, Chairman Diplomatic Missions & Embassies Liaison Subcommittee Zia ul Arfeen and KCCI Managing Committee Members attended the meeting.

Korean Envoy was of the view that keeping in view the size of both the economies, the trade volume between Korea and Pakistan seems very low, hence, efforts were being made to enlarge the existing trade volume but it would take time. “Trade between the two countries kept growing until 2019, but it suffered serious setbacks after the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic which was followed by some economic difficulties in Pakistan especially the foreign exchange problem”, he added while expressing optimism that trade between Korean and Pakistan will rebound again in future.

Ye Sungho further noted that Korea was doing well in Pakistan’s automobile sector as KIA Motors along with Lucky Motor were successfully operating here but due to LC issue, KIA had to reduce its operations but it was temporary and the Korean automobile company will be able to restore its operation as soon as the LC situation normalizes.

He said, “To support Pakistan’s economy in its quest for fetching maximum workers’ remittances, the Korean Government encourages Pakistani workers to work in Korea, hence, we extended maximum quota for Pakistani Workers to 4,000 workers, of which 3,000 workers have already been called to Korea.”

Commenting on the investment potential of Korean textile companies, the Envoy pointed out that most of the Korean companies moved their manufacturing units to Bangladesh with the passage of time where they were doing quite well. “If Pakistan provides good business environment, these Korean companies will certainly move their units here in Pakistan mainly due to low labor cost which is the most important element of cost of doing business” he said, adding that Korean companies moved to Bangladesh due to low labor cost but now, the cost of labor in Pakistan was even lower than what it was in Bangladesh which could encourage many Korean companies to move businesses to Pakistan but the other conditions for doing business must also be the same as being offered in Bangladesh.

While referring to a recent seminar organized by KOTRA in Karachi, Korean CG informed that Pakistan’s Embassy in Korea will also be holding an Investment & Trade Promotion Conference next week wherein Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP) and Board of Investment (BoI) will be explaining the overall investment environment and regulations in Pakistan to Korean companies.

He said that Karachi was really the center of economic activities in Pakistan but it seems that the city was a little bit suppressed by Lahore, hence, the business community of Karachi needs to do more to regain the city’s previous position. “A University in Islamabad has also started offering Korean Language Course but no such course is unfortunately being offered here in Karachi”, he mentioned while expressing his willingness to open such Korean Language Learning Center in Karachi.

Earlier, President KCCI Tariq Yousuf, while warmly welcoming the Korean Ambassador, pointed out that despite immense trade and economic potential, Pakistan’s exports to South Korea were $197 million only in FY2022-23 as compared to $206 million in FY2021-22. Therefore, Pakistan & South Korea need to accelerate bilateral trade volume and devise a clear roadmap for Free Trade Agreement which would pave way for improved trade relations and open up new dimensions.

He also stressed that Korean companies need to explore JVs and investment in SEZs under CPEC. “The One-Belt-One-Road initiative could prove to be beneficial for enhancing trade between the two countries whereas the Visa regime also needs to be eased for greater matchmaking between the two countries.

He was of the view that Korean corporations can also help local economy by creating value addition in the textile sector, coastal belts and Technology Parks. “Participation in trade fairs and exhibitions would be a great way for the business community of both countries to explore new trade avenues and promotion strategies”, he added.