Economy Next - 19 September 2023
Sri Lanka seeks bilateral trade agreement with South Korea
Sri Lanka’s President and his South Korean counterpart discussed the importance of finalizing a trade agreement between Sri Lanka and South Korea, and enhancing investment relations between the two nations.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol agreed on the need to expedite the conclusion of a Bilateral Trade and Investment Agreement with a view to facilitating more Korean investment and bringing in new technology to Sri Lanka.
President Yoon Suk Yeol noted the contributions of Sri Lankans working in South Korea and pointed out there was potential for expanding job opportunities further.
The two leaders met on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly sessions in New York.
President Yoon Suk Yeol said that Sri Lankan workers who have gained skills in South Korea will return to contribute to Sri Lanka’s economy positively.
There are approximately 30,000 Sri Lankan employees working in South Korea in various sectors, such as manufacturing, agriculture, construction and fisheries, according to the website of the Sri Lanka Embassy in Korea.
Sri Lankans are permitted to work in South Korea under the country’s Employment Permit System (EPS).
The Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment’s (SLBFE) Outward Labour Migration in Sri Lanka report – 2022 lists 9,394 SLBFE-registered workers.
South Korea has an ageing population, shrinking workforce and shortages in various sectors that locals prefer not to work in (3D or dirty, difficult and dangerous).
Most South Korean young people also do not want to be burdened with child care and housework, opting instead on focusing on career, which has led to a falling birth rate.
The government has sought to mitigate this by opening up jobs in childcare and housework to cheaper foreign workers to free up working-age nationals.