Bangladesh is Korea’s priority partner country: Lee Jang-keun

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal
Ambassador of South Korea (Republic of Korea) in Bangladesh Lee Jang-keun

Ambassador of South Korea (Republic of Korea) in Bangladesh Lee Jang-keun

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Ambassador of South Korea (Republic of Korea) in Bangladesh Lee Jang-keun said, In terms of ODA, Bangladesh is Korea’s priority partner country and the third largest recipient of ODA with a total volume of 790 million US dollars between 1987 to 2019. Infrastructure is another area where the two countries have developed close ties in recent years which has led to the launch of the PPP (Public-Private Partnership) platform between the two governments in 2019. People-to people and cultural exchanges also played important role in the strengthening of our bilateral ties. Currently there are around 20,000 Bangladeshi people living in Korea, most of whom are expatriate workers and their families.

He said this in an interview with Bangladesh Travel Writers Association (BDTWA) recently.

In this interview, Lee Jang-keun also said, we are making an effort to establish direct airline connections between the two countries.

Lee Jang-keun

BDTWA has the opportunity to participate in Korean Film Festivals and Korean Travel Fair in National Museum last year. BDTWA president Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal made a wonderful power point presentation on that program.  BDTWA team meets with H.E. Lee Jang-Keun several times and arranges the interview. Interview is taken by Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal and Shakil Bin Mushtaq. Md. Zakaria Mondol was present in the pre-interview meeting. Here is the interview of the Excellency-

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: How H.E sees the role of South Korean companies, in the beginning and growing phases of Bangladesh's RMG industry, which became the world's second largest RMG exporter, has been well known to many Bangladeshis?

Lee Jang-keun: RMG has been the center of Korea-Bangladesh business ties since the establishment of the diplomatic relations between our two countries. Korean companies have played a central role in the development and growth of Bangladesh’s RMG sector. Mr. Nurul Qader, founder of Desh Garment and father of Bangladesh RMG industry, entered into a partnership with a Korean company, Daewoo Corporation in 1979. According to the agreement with Desh Garment, Daewoo invited 133 Bangladesh engineers, workers and managers to Korea in 1979 and gave them training for 6 months. With Daewoo’s technical cooperation, Desh Garment has grown to be the leader of the Bangladesh RMG sector. Those who went to Korea for training, including the late mayor of North Dhaka City Corporation, Mr. Anisul Haq, scattered around the country and planted the seeds of the Bangladesh RMG industry.

At present Korea is the 5th largest FDI country in Bangladesh with a stock investment volume of 1.4 billion dollars as of the end of 2021 out of which 924 million dollars is in the RMG sector. KEPZ in Chattogram is the first and largest private EPZ in the country operated by Youngone Corporation. There are around 100 Korean RMG companies in Bangladesh employing around 200,000 local workers. Youngone alone has invested more than 600 million US dollars employing more than 70,000.

In order to share the success stories of Korea-Bangladesh RMG collaboration, my Embassy recently prepared a video documentary of bilateral relations focusing on RMG cooperation.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: There are lots of potentials in the education sector in South Korea as we have seen students from all over the world go there for higher education. Does Korea have any plans for Bangladeshi students? Scholarship etc.

Lee Jang-keun: Currently about 1,400 Bangladeshi students are studying in  Korea. Majority of them are pursuing higher masters or doctorate degrees in the engineering field. Most of them are studying with partial or full scholarship.

While the Korean Government does not have a large scale scholarship program for Bangladeshi students, individual Korean universities also have their own scholarship programs for foreign students.

GKS, Global Korea Scholarship, is the major Korean Government scholarship for foreign students both for undergraduate and graduate studies. Annually between 15 to 20 Bangladesh students are going to Korea under the GKS scheme. This year, 7 Bangladesh students were admitted through this program for graduate studies in various Korean universities. Between 2011 and 2022 almost 200 Bangladesh youths have benefited from the GKS program. My Embassy is making various efforts to disseminate widely the information on studying in Korea in  cooperation with the GKS Bangladesh alumni association.

Korea is becoming a more and more popular destination for Bangladesh students even though the COVID-19 pandemic affected many aspiring Bangladesh youths wanting to study in Korea due to the visa restrictions. After the lift of visa restrictions in November 2021 an increasing number of students are going to Korea. The number of student visas my Embassy issued in 2019 just before the COVID-19 pandemic was around 450. In 2022 until now we have issued more than 600 student visas. The number of Bangladesh students going to Korea will continue to increase in the coming years.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: According to the current state of both country's bilateral trade status, how does H.E see the future trade relations? 

Lee Jang-keun: The bilateral trade volume between Korea and Bangladesh reached a record high in 2021 crossing 2 billion US dollars. According to the Korean statistics, in 2021 Korea’s export to Bangladesh was 1.636 billion US dollars, 58% increase from the previous year, while Bangladesh’s export to Korea was 552 million US dollars, 40% year-to-year increase.

The increase of bilateral trade is a very natural and welcoming development. In this regard, I would like to point out that the bilateral trade volume between our two countries has been stagnant almost 10 years after it reached 1.63 billion US dollars in 2011. During the pandemic in 2020 it dropped to 1.4 billion US dollars.

This year in 2022, the increasing trend of bilateral trade is continuing. During the first half of 2022, Korea’s export to Bangladesh increased by 43.2% year-to-year with 1 billion US dollars, while Bangladesh’s export to Korea grew by 34.3% with 342 million US dollars. Considering the solid continued economic growth of Korea and Bangladesh, I expect the bilateral trade will further increase in the future.

However, diversifying trading items, in particular Bangladesh’s export items to Korea, is a major challenge both countries are tackling now. At present garments and textile account for 83% of Bangladesh’s export to Korea. Bangladesh should make full use of the duty-free and quota-free access to the Korean market which the Korean Government has accorded to Bangladesh since 2012.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: Since the independence of Bangladesh, Korea has become one of the largest development partners of the nation. How does H.E see these continued flow of aid and cooperation in the future based on our current economic growth?

Lee Jang-keun: Development cooperation is one of the areas where Korea places high priority in its relations with Bangladesh. As a country which could successfully develop its economy with the help of foreign donors, Korea wishes to share our knowledge and experience with other developing countries.

Bangladesh is currently the second largest recipient of Korea’s development assistance after Vietnam. So far Korea has provided 160 million US dollars in grants through KOICA, Korea’s development cooperation agency. Also, the Korean government has provided 1.34 billion US dollars in EDCF soft loans for 27 projects in various sectors, including public administration,  ICT, human resources development, transportation, water management, health and so on. The BSMMU Super Specialized Hospital which will be inaugurated soon is a prime project financed by the EDCF loan which  has a very low interest rate with a long repayment period.

Korea’s development assistance is expected to continuously increase in the future which will support various development projects of the Bangladesh Government and help the smooth transition of the country’s LDC graduation in 2026. Korea recently decided to significantly  increase the volume of its soft loan to Bangladesh from 700 million to 3 billion US dollars for  the period of 2021 and 2025.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: Earlier we heard that Korea wants to manufacture cars in Bangladesh as it considers the country an important destination for trade and investment. Any development in this regard?

Lee Jang-keun: As Bangladesh's economy keeps advancing, the automobile consumer market is also expanding. This means that Bangladesh is becoming an attractive market for Korean automakers.

At present, Hyundai Motors in partnership with a local Bangladesh company, Fair Technology, plans to assemble its automobile locally in Bangladesh. Fair Technology is setting up a manufacturing plant on 6 acres of land at Kaliakair Hi-Tech Park in Gazipur with technical assistance from Hyundai Motors. It is expected to start producing the Hyundai cars within the year.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: Do you have any plan for Bangladesh- Korea bilateral tourism development?

Lee Jang-keun: While there is no specific plan for bilateral projects in the tourism sector, my Embassy is making various efforts to increase people-to-people exchanges which include tourism. Last year in October my Embassy organized a Korean tourism exhibition in parallel with the Korean Film Festival at the National Museum of Bangladesh in Dhaka. Thousands of Bangladesh people participated and experienced a Korea tourism program prepared by the Embassy.

Also, we are making an effort to establish direct airline connections between the two countries. Currently chartered passenger flights operate between Dhaka and Incheon weekly. It first started carrying Koreans living in Bangladesh to Korea during the COVID-19 pandemic in April 2020 when international commercial airlines suspended operations. Now the chartered flight is carrying Bangladesh expatriate workers as well as students going to Korea.

On the other hand, the Bangladesh authority views Korea and Koreans as one of the potential tourists the country can attract. I understand that the number of Koreans arriving in Bangladesh has been among the top among the foreign tourists.

Korea and Bangladesh will celebrate together next year the 50th anniversary of diplomatic ties. It will provide a meaningful momentum to boost tourism between the two countries and people.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: Foreign minister AK Abdul Momen sought support from South Korea in sending back Rohingya people sheltered in Bangladesh. What is Seoul's view about this issue?

Lee Jang-keun: Korea has been supporting the Bangladesh government and international community for the early, safe, voluntary and orderly repatriation of the Rohingya refugees to their homeland which will be the only ultimate solution to the current international Rohingya refugee crisis.

To this end, the Korean Government has been providing humanitarian assistance for supporting the Bangladesh host community as well as the Rohingya refugees sheltered in Cox’s Bazar through international humanitarian agencies such as UNHCR, IOM, WFP, UNICEF and IFRC. Our annual contribution through these agencies is about 4 to 5 million US dollars. Korea also provided support for the refugees relocated to the Bashan Char last year.

Wishing that there will be substantial progress in the negotiations among the concerned countries, Korea will continue to support the efforts of the Bangladesh government and the international community for the repatriation of the Rohingya refugees.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: H.E, during a recent meeting with science and technology minister Yeafesh Osman handed over the MoU cross-signed by his Korean counterpart, minister Lim Heysook. What is the significance of this MoU, what is in it?

Lee Jang-keun: Korea and Bangladesh signed an MOU on Scientific and Technological Cooperation on 30 December, 2021. The MOU was to strengthen the implementation of the Agreement on Scientific and Technological Cooperation between the two Governments signed in May 1995.  It  has laid the institutional foundation to further promote cooperation in science and technology areas between the two governments by stipulating various areas and forms of cooperation including the establishment of a Joint Committee.

As one of the most advanced countries in science and technology areas across the globe, Korea is committed to enhancing scientific and technological collaboration with Bangladesh in areas of mutual benefit.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: Last year we heard that South Korea has expressed its keen interest to preserve the historic Panam City for the benefit of future generations and to attract tourists, built in Sonargaon in Narayanganj in the early nineteenth century, about 37 kilometres south of the capital city Dhaka. Any development on it?

Lee Jang-keun: In fact, it was not the Korean government but a Korean company which expressed its willingness  to contribute to the preservation of the historic Panam City. This Korean company, Youngone Corporation, which is operating the KEPZ, Korean Export Processing Zone, in Chattogram already initiated the restoration of the Baro Sadar Bari in Sonargaon next to the Panam City with its own financing.

My understanding of the current status of this idea of Panam City restoration is that it is not making progress due to the differences in the specific conditions of the restoration work between the Korean company and the Bangladesh government.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: South Korea is still a dream destination for Bangladeshi migrant workers. Any plans or thoughts for Bangladeshi workers to get opportunities there?

Lee Jang-keun: The Korean Government has been recruiting unskilled foreign workers from 16 selected countries including Bangladesh through a program called Employment Permit System(EPS).

According to an MoU signed between the two governments in 2008, so far around 20,000 Bangladesh expatriate workers have been dispatched to Korea. The annual quota allocated to Bangladesh has been around 2,000. But this year it is expected that around 4,000 Bangladesh workers will be admitted to Korea which is a record high number. A total of 2,594 Bangladesh workers have been admitted to Korea between January and July 2022.

My Embassy is working closely with Bangladesh authorities not only to increase the number of workers but also to diversify the areas of employment including fisheries and agriculture.

Expatriate workers have been a central pillar of Korea-Bangladesh friendship and will continue to play an essential role in strengthening the friendly ties between our two countries.

Lee Jang-keun: Ambassador, Republic of Korea

James Gardinar underscores skill development, access to US digital platform fo Bangladeshis 

News desk,
James Gardinar underscores skill development, access to US digital platform fo Bangladeshis 

James Gardinar underscores skill development, access to US digital platform fo Bangladeshis 

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James Gardiner, Economic Officer, who focuses on technology issues for the U.S. Embassy, spoke about the importance of continuing education and skills development and access to U.S. digital platforms for Bangladeshis in the ICT sector. Mr. Gardiner made the statement last evening at the Certificate and Award Giving Ceremony organized by CodersTrust at Banani Main Office.

During the ceremony, about 150 trainees who recently completed their training at CodersTrust, received certificates. The event was attended by the Founder and Chairman of CodersTrust, Mr Aziz Ahmad, former Principal Secretary to the Prime Minister and Adviser of CodersTrust, Dr. Abdul Karim, former Secretary of the Prime Minister's Office, ICT Division and Ministry of Education and Adviser of CodersTrust, Mr. Nazrul Islam Khan, Managing Director of Bangladesh Hi-Tech Park, Mr Bikarna Kumar Ghosh, and Dean of National University, Prof. Dr. Md. Nasiruddin Mitul.

While stressing on the need of develponing our young generation to skilled human redources the guests of honor spoke highly of CodersTrust highlighting many success stories of producing highly skilled human resources in our country and placing them in the global job market. CodersTrust is an Edtech Company working in Bangladesh since 2015 and now expanding its ventures both at home and abroad through collaboration with different international development agencies like the UNDP and Universities in Bangladesh like BRAC University, ULAB and National University. Since its activation, CodersTrust Bangladesh trained over 60,000 people including women who have been self-employed. CodersTrust has been contributing to international online IT jobs and achieved a reputation as one of the most trusted skill development institutes in Bangladesh.

`Sheikh Hasina government’s important goal is to develop the country'

News Desk,
Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing

Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing

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Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing MP said, The hill region is the land of immense beauty. Bandarban has already been identified as an attractive city for tourists. He said a new plan has been taken to decorate the tourist city Bandarban.

The government has taken initiatives to further modernize various roads and important points and sights in the municipal area. The tourism industry will play an important role in the economic development of the country and the unemployment of the locals of the hill areas.

Chittagong Hill Tracts Affairs Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing said this while speaking as the chief guest at a meeting of the Law and Order Committee at the conference room of the Deputy Commissioner organized by the Bandarban district administration.

Deputy Commissioner Yasmin Parvin Tibriji presided over the function, among others Bandarban Police Super Mr. Tariqul Islam, Bandarban Civil Surgeon Dr. Nihar Ranjan Nandi; Bandarban Municipality Mayor Mohammad Islam Baby, Chittagong Hill Tracts District Council member Laxmipada Das and senior officials of Bandarban district were present on the occasion.

Speaking as the chief guest, Minister Bir Bahadur Ushwe Sing, MP, also added that the development work of internal roads, including highways, is underway so that tourists can travel comfortably in the tourist city of Bandarban. The important function of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina’s government is to develop the country. In continuation of the government's development, once there will be great success in the tourism sector of the hill areas. Minister Bir Bahadur said the tourism sector will be more prosperous in the future.

Bandarban will move forward, and the socio-economic condition of Bandarban and the quality of life of the local people will improve. The Minister Bir Bahadur also added that Father of the Nation Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman worked for the freedom struggle of this country and his worthy daughter, Honorable Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, has been working relentlessly for the development of Bangladesh under the ideals of her father. He called upon all concerned to work unitedly for the overall development of the country.

The law and order situation in the district and recent issues were discussed in the meeting. The health department informed the meeting that 15,000 malaria patients have been identified in the country, out of which 12,000 have been identified in Bandarban. The issue of health awareness is very important in the meeting. The meeting also discussed in details the modernization and expansion of the tourism industry.


Both are promising countries for foreign investors: Guner Ureya

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal
Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo in Bangladesh Guner Ureya

Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo in Bangladesh Guner Ureya

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Ambassador of the Republic of Kosovo in Bangladesh Guner Ureya said, Both Kosovo and Bangladesh are promising countries for foreign investors and both countries have areas of investment that should be explored. Since such a situation exists between Kosovo and Bangladesh, the importance of joint ventures rather than mutual direct investments is appearing.  If both parties can bring a part of the manufacturing capacity of Bangladesh on one side and Kosovo on another side with its capacities as a country next-door to big consumer markets, together they can create an incredible synergy. If both parties manufacture together and target third-country markets, they may achieve excellent results.

He said this in an interview with Bangladesh Travel Writers Association (BDTWA) recently.

In this interview, Lee Guner Ureya also said,

BDTWA president Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal, executive member Shakil Bin Mushtaq and Md. Zakaria Mondol were present in the interview session.

Here is the interview of the Excellency-

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: According to the current state of both country’s bilateral trade status, how does H.E see future trade relations?

Guner Ureya: Considering the fact that only a few years ago, we had almost zero trade between the two countries, we should not underestimate our current trading volume.  According to the Kosovo Agency of Statistics in 2021 trade volume between the two countries was around 13,200,000 Euros. In the first 8 months of 2022, our trade volume was around 11,602,000 Euro. These figures are very promising. Kosovo is pleased with the improvement in trade and other relations between the two countries and is confident that the trade volume will steadily increase in the upcoming years.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: How can we work together for Bangladesh–Kosovo’s bilateral tourism development?

Guner Ureya: The most important factor affecting tourism cooperation is mutual perceptions. It is strengthened by multifaceted cooperation and convergence of mutual perception. Cooperation in cultural, trade, and other fields will both increase interaction and help us get to know each other better. In addition to all these, tourism portfolios of both sides, attractions, modern infrastructure, and promotional events like fairs and familiarization trips, will also lead to the development of our cooperation in the field of tourism.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: Which country has the most investment in KOSOVO and in which sector?

Guner Ureya: Most of FDIs are from Switzerland, Germany, Türkiye, the United Kingdom and Albania, particularly in real estate and services. There are considerable foreign investments in the manufacturing sector as well.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: What are the challenges you see for more Kosovo investment in Bangladesh?

Guner Ureya: Let me clarify a thing. Both Kosovo and Bangladesh are promising countries for foreign investors and both countries have areas of investment that should be explored. Since such a situation exists between Kosovo and Bangladesh, the importance of joint ventures rather than mutual direct investments is appearing.  If both parties can bring a part of the manufacturing capacity of Bangladesh on one side and Kosovo on another side with its capacities as a country next-door to big consumer markets, together they can create an incredible synergy. If both parties manufacture together and target third-country markets, they may achieve excellent results.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: Many people visit to TURKEY from Bangladesh and its only 1h 40 minutes from Istanbul to Kosovo. Can Kosovo consider this for the frequent travelers to visit Kosovo and facilitate their Tourist visa from BANGLADESH?

Guner Ureya: Tourism is very important for the promotion of the values of our countries and for our economies. Sure, we recommend tourists visiting the countries of the region to visit Kosovo as well. We also started to provide visa services at our Embassy in Dhaka. Besides Kosovar visas, those who have multiple Schengen visas can easily visit our beautiful country. Our doors are always open to those who want to see the beauties of Kosovo. I just have to highlight an issue. There are those who see tourism as an area of exploitation for illegal immigration. As Kosovo, we are very strict on this and we do not allow such abuses.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: How do you see Bangladesh economically in 10 or 20 years?

Guner Ureya: If you keep this development trend and ensure progress in income sharing, your country will be qualified as developed as planned in 2041. Economic growth will lead to the allocation of more financial tools for better infrastructure. Investments to be made in areas such as education and health will help the development of the whole society. In a word, a more prosperous atmosphere will be provided for everyone.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: Have you visited any tourist places in Bangladesh? How were your experiences? Do you have any favorite places in Bangladesh?

Guner Ureya: Alongside historical monuments and sites, Cox's Bazar caught my attention. The routes to the historical places are tiresome, but you feel good after you arrive. Cox's Bazaar is excellent, but there is still a lot of work to be done to attract foreign tourists. Accommodation prices in the hotels are very high there. This is a situation related to the high demand for accommodation from domestic tourists. Honestly speaking, more investments and other arrangements are required to attract foreign tourists in Cox’s Bazar. In the tourism sector, "being only beautiful" is not a sufficient criterion for success.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: During your stay in Bangladesh what impressed you the most?

Guner Ureya: The hospitality and friendliness of Bangladeshi people fascinated me the most. Your people are very nice and friendly.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: During your stay in Bangladesh what disappointed you the most?

Guner Ureya: Traffic.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: How many Kosovo citizens live in Bangladesh? What are the major reasons behind their stay?

Guner Ureya: We have a very small number of Kosovars with residence in Bangladesh. Besides diplomats and their family members, there are Kosovars working for international organizations. 

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: What are the top five exports and Imports between Kosovo and Bangladesh? Are there any potential sectors that both countries are missing?

Guner Ureya: I'm sure that in a few years we'll be counting to 5 or even more articles of import and export between the two countries. Currently, the main trade items are RMG. Of course, there is also the modest pharmaceutical products trade. Food, furniture but also ICT services are among other potential sectors for the trade of goods and services between the two countries. 

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: How many Bangladeshi students go to Kosovo each year and how many of them got Scholarships?

Guner Ureya: The doors of Kosovo universities are open to international students. We would be pleased to have Bangladeshi students studying in our country. So far, we have identified only one Bangladeshi graduate from one of Kosovo's universities. We hope this number will increase. For the first time, there is ongoing work on a scheme for a scholarship for international students in Kosovo. An announcement will be made once the process is completed.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: Is there any High official visit this year and how many were in between the two countries?

Guner Ureya: Recently, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs, H.E. Mr. Kreshnik Ahmeti visited Dhaka. On the other side, Hon'ble Minister of Education of Bangladesh participated Women Peace Security Forum held in Prishtina on 22-23 October 2022.  The Prime Ministers of both countries have sent invitations to each other for an official visit. Both Excellences have very busy schedules. I hope it comes about soon.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: Is there any tax-free agreement/FTA between Kosovo and Bangladesh?

Guner Ureya: There is an ongoing process of negotiation for the finalization of the Agreement for Economic Cooperation and Agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion between the two countries. On the other hand, the Stabilization and Accession Agreement with the European Union is in force and Kosovo’s aim is to be a part of this great European family through the integration process. Therefore, we have to comply with EU criteria regarding FTAs. Our trade arrangements with Bangladesh will proceed in parallel with the arrangements your country will make with the EU.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: We heard one Kosovar Girl has been to Bangladesh and wrote about BANGLADESH, we will be happy to have her write up about Bangladesh and what were her experiences in Bangladesh?

Guner Ureya: Yes, Ms. Lavdi Zymberi visited different parts of Bangladesh and she left here with friendly impressions. As far as I know, she posts her impressions on her own blog. I will forward your write-up request to her.

Ashrafuzzaman Uzzal: BDTWA wishes to invite some Kosovar Travel Writer, Professional photographer to visit Bangladesh for 7 to 10 days and BDTWA wish to visit Kosovo as well to write a travel book and to make a travel blog about Kosovo, can you arrange a FAM trip to Kosovo? 

Guner Ureya: Of course, we are aware that such familiarization trips are important. We have organized such trips for tour operators and journalists from a few countries before. In the future, taking into account the demands and priorities of the stakeholders in the tourism sector, we can organize such an event between Kosovo and Bangladesh as well.


BAT Bangladesh hosts Road Safety Workshop in Dhaka

BAT Bangladesh hosts Road Safety Workshop in Dhaka

BAT Bangladesh hosts Road Safety Workshop in Dhaka

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Road safety is a sustainable development challenge for the Asia-Pacific region, especially for Bangladesh. Amid the rising number of accidents, the country has observed National Road Safety Day on Saturday (October 22nd, 2022) under the theme "Follow the law on the road, return safely home".

According to the Bangladesh Road Transport Authority (BRTA), the government has set goals to reduce road accidents by 25% by 2025 and 50% by 2030 as per the sustainable development goals (SDGs). In alignment with the government's vision, the country's leading multinational organization BAT Bangladesh hosted 'Road Safety Workshop 2022' at the capital's Six Seasons Hotel on Sunday, October 30th. The primary objective of the workshop was to create a collaborative platform where we can showcase our best practices, discuss our shared challenges, and unite together as we work towards common goal of eliminating accidents and serious injuries from road networks. A total of 25 participants from multinational corporations and local businesses, including Unilever Bangladesh ltd., Coca-Cola Bangladesh Beverages Ltd., Linde Bangladesh Ltd., Daraz Bangladesh Ltd., A.H. Khan & Co. Ltd., RedX and Paperfly Pvt. Ltd attended the workshop.

Mr. Bora Gulpinar, Regional Head of Sustainability-BAT and Swad Us Sami, Country Sustainability Manager-BAT Bangladesh, delivered opening speeches and shared their expectations.

The forum acknowledged the need for a collaborative approach to look for road safety best practices and bringing in digitalization to take control over road safety. Also, all organizations agreed on feasibility analysis for engaging and empowering the female drivers for achieving greater gender equality. Rumana Sharmin, Sustainability manager- TM&D and Secondary Supply chain, facilitated the workshop and engaged the panel members in a series of discussions emphasizing the urgent need for developing the capability of the relevant personnel associated with road safety. To achieve the goals of reducing road accidents by ensuring technological advancement, drawing world-class internal controls for road safety through collaborative opportunities between MNCs and government sectors, the participant groups considered new outcomes and sustainable solutions for an improved vision of road safety.

In the closing statement, Mr. Charles Kyalo, Head of Operations-BAT Bangladesh, said, "With the increase of economic growth in Bangladesh, the number of vehicles is rapidly increasing. Road accidents happen due to various reasons, including reckless overtaking, inefficiency in driving, lack of adequate rest for drivers, violation of traffic laws by pedestrians and social unawareness. Developed communication infrastructure and up-to-date transport services are perquisites to sustainable socio-economic development. Prioritizing on that, our government has ushered in a new era in constructing and re-constructing new roads and bridges, including construction of Metrorail, Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) lines, elevated expressways, flyovers, overpasses, bridges and underpasses. Also, the government formed the task force to bring discipline in the road transport sector, training efficient drivers and control accidents."

"It is highly appreciable how different multinational organizations have come forward in creating greater awareness to prevent road accidents and create safer roads in the country", he added.