Korea to mark 40 years’ relationship with Bangladesh

As a part of celebrating the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relationship between Korea and Bangladesh, the Korean Embassy in Dhaka in collaboration with the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Centre arranged a seminar, titled ‘Bangladesh-Korea CSR Seminar 2013: Further Strengthening the 40 Year-Long Partnerships through CSR’ at a city hotel on Saturday.

Speakers in the seminar laid emphasis on Bangladesh-Korea partnership to strengthen the activities of the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) saying the CSR is the way forward for Bangladesh and its better economy.

“We believe the CSR is the way forward for Bangladesh and it’s the way forward for the RMG (readymade garment) sector,” said Farooq Sobhan, Chairman of the CSR Centre Board of Trustees, at the inaugural session of the seminar, reports UNB.

s-korea-bdExecutive Chairman of the Board of Investment (BoI) Dr SA Samad attended the event as the chief guest while President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce and Industry (DCCI) Sabur Khan and Korean Ambassador in Dhaka Lee Yun-young as special guests.

Speaking at the seminar, SA Samad said the BoI welcomes private sector entrepreneurs from South Korea to visit Bangladesh, see for themselves the prospects and explore investment opportunities here.

“We’ve a very liberal policy for foreign investments and investors. But despite that I didn’t understand why Myanmar Vietnam and Cambodia should be preferred to Bangladesh,” he said.

The BoI Chairman also said the PPP (public private partnership) is a new window opened for the foreign investors. “So, you (investors) can explore the window.”

He said they have always tried but failed to attract investment from Japan which has a larger economy than Korea probably because they have not been able to disseminate the gains of Bangladesh to potential business partners and investors. “But I’m very optimistic about Korea.”

Encouraging private sector investment in a big way, SA Samad said the private is the driving force of Bangladesh’s economy as its more than 80 percent investment is private sector investment. “It’s a private sector-led economy…it’s an open economy.”

Considering Korea as one of the leading foreign investors in Bangladesh Farooq Sobhan, “We’ve to thank Korean not simply for introducing RMG industry in Bangladesh but also for introducing us with the foreign sector’s corporate social responsibility.”

He referred to the recent tragedies in Bangladesh’s RMG factories and said, “Today’s subject (CSR) is very important following some very unfortunate incidents in some of our RMG factories…we want to see continued progress in this sector…we’ve to give special importance to the corporate social responsibility.”

Korean envoy Lee Yun-young said the importance of CSR cannot be emphasised enough in developing countries like Bangladesh.

“Bangladesh has been, perhaps, one of the biggest victims of newly emerging threats, such as climate change, natural disaster and food security that hugely impact the everyday life of the Bangladeshi people. Bangladesh has to overcome these new challenges and find solutions to accelerate its continued economic growth.”

The Korean diplomat said Korea has been and will be an excellent partner of Bangladesh for its sustainable development. “During the last 40 years, the two countries have enjoyed the excellent relationship.”

He mentioned that Korean companies are one of the frontier investors in the late 1970s, and today over 220 Korean companies in Bangladesh employ more than 160,000 Bangladeshi workers. “These Korean companies are exporting 1.6 billion dollars, which account for 6 percent of the total exports of Bangladesh.“

One of the reasons why the Korean companies could continue to develop and establish their strong presence in Bangladesh is that the Korean companies are aware of the impact of their CSR activities and have been actively involved in various CSR activities, such as well-fare of workers, eco-friendly development, community development, he said.

The envoy laid emphasis on putting heads together to utilize corporate social responsibility in a mutually beneficial way. “And I strongly believe Korean companies can do even better in making meaningful contributions to Bangladeshi society as a reliable partner for Bangladesh’s sustainable growth.”

The technical session of the seminar focused an overview of CSR practices of companies and organisations operating in Bangladesh.

There were presentations from Korea Economic Research Institute (KERI), KEPZ, LG, Concord Group, Jamuna Bank Foundation and CSR Centre at the event.

CSR has become an important agenda for private sector development showcasing responsible business and commitment to national development agendas.

The seminar also highlighted the best practices of CSR and the sustainability measures of private sector initiatives in Bangladesh.