Dr Iftekhar Chowdhury said the Korean support in the transfer of technology will help Bangladesh grab the higher market and reach the higher fruits
Speakers at a virtual dialogue, hosted by Cosmos Foundation, have laid emphasis on having a broader collaboration between Bangladesh and South Korea focusing on a number of new areas from technology transfer to virtual marketplace, fashion, startups and innovation as Korea eyes more success stories with Bangladesh going beyond RMG.
"We need to move beyond RMG and diversify collaboration between the two countries," said South Korean Ambassador to Bangladesh Lee Jang-keun while delivering his keynote address at the dialogue that premiered on Thursday.
Cosmos Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the Cosmos Group, hosted the dialogue titled "Bangladesh South Korea Relations: Prognosis for the Future" as part of its ongoing Ambassadors' Lecture Series.
The opening remarks were delivered by Cosmos Foundation Chairman Enayetullah Khan. The session was chaired by Dr Iftekhar Ahmed Chowdhury, a renowned scholar-diplomat and former Advisor on Foreign Affairs of Bangladesh Caretaker Government.
Distinguished Fellow at Centre for Policy Dialogue (CPD) Dr Debapriya Bhattacharya, Chairman and CEO of Youngone Corporation and KEPZ Corporation (BD) Ltd Kihak Sung, former BGMEA President and Mohammadi Group Chairperson Dr Rubana Huq, former Bangladesh Ambassador to South Korea Iftikharul Karim; and Research Fellow and Head at Bangladesh Centre for Terrorism Research (BCTR) Shafqat Munir comprised the panel of discussants.
Enayetullah Khan thinks technology transfer is a very critical element in the development of any nation and Korea is a burning example to the whole world how critical it is to have technology and technological capability.
He said Samsung has created a research and development institute in Bangladesh that employs a significant number of local engineers. "This makes a very noteworthy contribution in terms of technology transfer."
Samsung R and D Institute Bangladesh (SRBD) started its operation in June, 2010 and was officially inaugurated in February 2011. It is also the first R and D hub of a multinational company in Bangladesh.
Khan mentioned that Korea gives much importance to R and D and no other country is near to Korea in that area which actually helped Korea earn today's position in the world.
"I think Korea can help us in guiding and in initiating some R and D organizations as Dr Rubana talked about fashion to food, digital space and online marketplace. In many fields, I think we can collaborate together," he said.
Dr Iftekhar Chowdhury said the Korean support in the transfer of technology will help Bangladesh grab the higher market and reach the higher fruits.
The foreign affairs expert particularly mentioned the support from Korea in bringing the virtual marketplace in fruition. "Korea is a remarkable country in terms of its achievements. Korean support has been crucial to Bangladesh's achievements," he said.
Dr Debapriya appreciated Ambassador Lee's three areas of focus - elevation, diversification and generation and shared his thoughts on the past, present and future relations between Bangladesh and South Korea.
In the future, he said, South Korea will turn out to be possibly one of the most steadfast, most substantive and the most effective partners in Bangladesh's development transition.
Kihak Sung briefly talked about their journey in Bangladesh for four decades, noting that there are lots of joys and struggles if they look back at the past decades since their beginning here.
He made a presentation on what the Youngone Corporation is doing apart from highlighting the new initiatives at Korean Export Processing Zone (KEPZ). Korea Export Processing Zone (KEPZ) has recently inaugurated a 100-acre Hi-tech Park within KEPZ.
Dr Rubana Huq said they look forward to Korea for technology and Korea's technology transfer would mean a lot to Bangladesh because in terms of fashion and innovation Korea could probably help Bangladesh at an end-to-end digital workflow. "So, that's another area that you can help us with."
She also said Bangladesh needs Korea's support regarding 3D printing and if Korea could provide Bangladesh with printing equipment and even the spare parts it would help.
So, the former BGMEA chief said, Korean collaboration in technology and innovation would be greatly appreciated by Bangladesh.
Dr Rubana urged Korea to look at a virtual marketplace for Bangladesh. "Why is it only about B2B, why can't we be B2C? And if you want to be B2C, we need your help because we can then design a full virtual marketplace and you can help us with technical capacity building so that we can go to the next level."
The ex-BGMEA President said they had extensive discussions with the Ministry of Finance about a virtual marketplace for Bangladesh.
"What the ministry says, you go build your own platform and we'll give you policy support. But we need more than that. We just don't need policy support from the government as we also need friends from all around the world, and especially Korea could come forward and help us build this virtual marketplace and it would benefit the industry a lot.
Former Ambassador Iftikharul Karim said diversification of the Bangladesh economy to engage in new sectors such as the ICT industry, where South Korea is already a giant, could become the engine of economic cooperation between the two countries.
As ROK progresses to become the third largest economy in the Pacific region after China and Japan, he said, its trade and commercial footprint cannot be ignored.
"Already in Bangladesh, Samsung, LG, Hyundai, etc. are trusted household brands poised to seriously challenge European and western consumer goods manufactures that have dominated our markets," said the former diplomat.
Shafqat Munir said they are to achieve a lot in terms of bilateral relationship in the realm of trade, investment, economics, culture, and culture.
"We would like to see greater people-to-people contact being enhanced between the two countries," he said.
In his presentation, Ambassador Lee talked about the establishment of the e-Government Master Plan for Digital Bangladesh and their support in capacity building of universities in Bangladesh to promote youth entrepreneurship and safe cyberspace for digital Bangladesh.
So, going beyond RMG, he said, they see potentials in other areas such as ICT, infrastructure and pharmaceuticals.