Activities 2013

Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised the third lecture of the Country Lecture Series on 07 November 2013 at BIISS auditorium, Dhaka. The country lecture series aim at enriching our understanding about friendly countries with whom Bangladesh has significant bilateral relations. The third lecture in this series was delivered by H.E. Mr. Lee Yun-young, Ambassador, Embassy of the Republic of Korea to Bangladesh on his country ROK. Major General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, ndu, psc, Director General of BIISS, chaired the Country Lecture and delivered the address of welcome.

In his Welcome Address, Major General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, ndu, psc, Director General, BIISS, mentioned that Bangladesh and the Republic of Korea (RoK) have an excellent bilateral relation. Since RoK's early recognition to Bangladesh on 12 May 1972, the bilateral ties have bloomed into a time tested friendship with mutually beneficially cooperation expanding over many areas. He noted that both countries are now closely working in the fields of trade, investment, sharing of skill, development cooperation, technology transfer, training, employment and human resource development. He added that Korea has been a significant development partner of Bangladesh and there is a huge scope for further expanding and developing this in the days ahead.

H.E. Lee Yun-young, Ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Bangladesh in his lecture on All about Korea & Korea-Bangladesh relations focused various aspects related to Korea and its relation with Bangladesh. He noted that Korea is a rising middle power in Asia who successfully transformed its economy and democracy and also became a growing soft power. Major directions of Korean foreign policy are resolving the North Korean nuclear issue, developing relations with neighbours, promoting peace in Northeast Asia and playing role as a responsible middle power contributing to world peace and progress. The Ambassador mentioned that excellent bilateral relationship prevails between Bangladesh and Korea in all fronts from economy and development cooperation to governance, education, culture, military etc. He added that as the largest investors in Bangladesh, Korea invested not only in garments but also in infrastructure such as power plant, R&D sector, ICT, business service etc areas. Korea also receives a large number of Bangladeshi workers through its Employment Permit System (EPS).

In the concluding remarks, Major General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, ndu, psc, Director General, BIISS, mentioned that South Korea is a trusted partner for four decades in manifold areas of diplomatic, economic, technical and cultural areas. He expressed his belief that from a similar socio-economic context prevailing in Bangladesh and South Korea back in 1960s, the country's emergence as Asian Miracle in a very short time span is a great lesson for developing countries like Bangladesh striving for economic advancement. Major General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed extended his gratitude and thanks to His Excellency Ambassador Lee Yun-young and all distinguished participants for their unreserved support and cooperation in making the Country Lecture a success.

The Country Lecture on the Republic of Korea was participated by scholars, members of academia and media, government officials and policy makers (click here for the summary of the proceedings).

Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) organised the second lecture of the Country Lecture Series on 3 October 2013 at BIISS auditorium, Dhaka. H.E. W.A. Sarath K. Weragoda, High Commissioner of Sri Lanka to Bangladesh was present as the Guest Lecturer and delivered his presentation on Sri Lanka. Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Chairman, Board of Governors, Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) chaired the Country Lecture. Major General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, ndu, psc Director General of BIISS delivered the address of welcome.

In the Address of Welcome, Major General SM Shafiuddin Ahmed, ndu, psc Director General, BIISS elaborated the background of Bangladesh-Sri Lanka bilateral relations, where he mentioned the cultural and religious affinity between the two nations. Then he pointed out the extensive bilateral cooperation that the two nations have in the sectors of trade and investment, tourism, culture and sports. He emphasised on the enormous trade potential trade potential between the two countries.

H. E. W.A. Sarath K. Weragoda, High Commissioner of Sri Lankan began his lecture by shedding some light on Sri Lankan history. He informed Sri Lanka's successes in educational, legal and other socio-economic areas in the last decades. He stated that current president Mahinda Rajapakse introduced a new concept, Mahinda Chintana which implies the country will follow the nonalignment policy sincerely; it will respect others territorial sovereignty, not interfere into their internal affairs and in return, expects the similar from them as well. He informed that Sri Lanka denies any violation of human rights while dealing the Tamil separatism. He then lauded the current president of Sri Lanka, Mahinda Rajapakse, for his strong stance against the Liberation Tigers of the Tamil Eelam (LTTE), and concrete military actions on them. He told the government successfully rehabilitated and reintegrated former LTTE members.

Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Chairman, Board of Governors, BIISS mentioned the warm relationship between Bangladesh and Sri Lanka based on mutual friendship and trust which was strengthened by mutual cooperation many areas. He also mentioned Sri Lanka and Bangladesh shared strong, historic ties as well as some common challenges. He opined that some measures could be undertaken to enhance relations, e.g. increased exchange of students and scholars, develop closer cooperation regarding the Colombo Plan, in the area assuring welfare of migrant workers etc.

The Country Lecture on Sri Lanka was participated by scholars, members of academia and media, government officials and policy makers (click here for the summary of the proceedings).

Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) launched a new Lecture Series titled Country Lecture Series with an inauguration ceremony on 25th August 2013 at BIISS auditorium, Dhaka. H. E. Dr. Dipu Moni, MP, Honourable Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh was present as the Chief Guest and inaugurated the country lecture series. The first lecture in this series was delivered by H. E. Ms. Norlin Binti Othman, High Commissioner of Malaysia in Bangladesh. She spoke on Malaysia and its Foreign Policy. Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Chairman, Board of Governors, BIISS chaired the session. Major General S M Shafiuddin Ahmed, ndu, psc, Director General of BIISS delivered the Address of Welcome.

In his Address of Welcome, Major General S M Shafiuddin Ahmed, ndu, psc, Director General, BIISS, mentioned that Malaysia was one of the first Muslim states to recognise Bangladesh after its glorious War of Liberation and since then the two countries have seen a rapid growth of cooperation between them. Being co-members of OIC, NAM, Commonwealth, D-8 and ARF and as strong proponents of multilateralism, Bangladesh and Malaysia share common understanding on major regional and international issues. He added that Bangladesh and Malaysia enjoy good bilateral relations based on the foundation of common religion, history and culture.

Dr. Dipu Moni, M. P. Honourable Minister for Foreign Affairs, noted that Bangladesh and Malaysia enjoy friendly relations based on the foundation of historic ties and culture. Over the years, the relations between the two friendly nations have flourished. The state of relations is reflected in the growing bilateral cooperation covering a wide range of areas that include economic and technical assistance, trade and investment, employment of Bangladeshi workforce in Malaysia, exchange programmes of various kinds and increasing tourism, culture and sports cooperation. The two countries share similar views on many regional and international issues and have been working closely in the international fora to advance peace, stability, and development.

The Honourable Minister mentioned that Bangladesh is the third largest trading partner of Malaysia among the South Asian nations, following India and Pakistan. Malaysia is also the largest ASEAN investor in Bangladesh. Malaysian companies have invested in areas such as telecommunications, textiles and financial sector. However, the trade balance is overwhelmingly in Malaysia's favour. She hoped that the trade gap will be reduced by the joint efforts of the two countries.

Ms. Norlin Binti Othman, High Commissioner, High Commission of Malaysia in Bangladesh in her lecture on Malaysia focused various aspects related to Malaysia and its Foreign Policy. She mentioned that Malaysia is a developing nation which managed diversity with success among different ethnic groups of the country. Malaysian Foreign Policy is based on the enhancement of national interest as well as making harmonious international relations. Malaysia wants to make harmonious relations with its neighbouring countries of ASEAN and other developing countries like Bangladesh.

The High Commissioner noted that Malaysia and Bangladesh worked jointly in various UN Peacekeeping operations and also worked in various international forums in combating global terrorism while Malaysia proposed multifaceted approach. The two countries have come closer through South-South cooperation. Bangladesh is also one of the highest manpower exporter countries to Malaysia. She added that the country upholds some fundamental principles like friendly relations among countries, peaceful settlement of international disputes and constructive engagement in resolving various problems with neighbouring countries. Malaysia wants to send more students to Bangladesh for higher studies, she noted. Responding to a question from the floor, session, she mentioned that in the process of legalisation of illegal foreign workers, Bangladesh High Commission in Malaysia provided unprecedented service to the illegal Bangladeshi workers and succeeded in helping to legalise about 300,000 of workers. This, she added, was the highest number compared to other countries.

Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Chairman, Board of Governors, BIISS, emphasised that Malaysia happens to be one of our closest friends and partners. Religious and cultural affinity, regular and constant G-To-G and P-to-P contacts and exchanges, as well as significant cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, education, manpower and tourism contribute significantly to the progressive strengthening of these ties. Bangladeshi workers in Malaysia are making valuable contribution to the economies of the both countries.

The Country Lecture on Malaysia was participated by scholars, members of academia and media, government officials and policy makers (click here for the summary of the proceedings).

United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP) and Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) jointly organised a Policy Dialogue on Strengthening Transport Connectivity among the South and South-West Asian Countries on Wednesday and Thursday, 26th and 27th June 2013, at Hotel Pan Pacific Sonargaon, Dhaka. Major General (Retd.) Tarique Ahmed Siddique, rcds, psc, Honourable Defence Adviser to the Prime Minister, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, was present as the Chief Guest in the inaugural session. Dr. Mashiur Rahman, Economic Adviser to the Prime Minister, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, presented the keynote paper in the session. Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Chairman, Board of Governors of BIISS, chaired the inaugural session. Major General Sajjadul Haque, afwc, psc, Director General of BIISS, delivered the Address of Welcome. In the closing session of the two-day long policy dialogue H.E. Gowher Rizvi, International Affairs Adviser to the Prime Minister, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, was present as the Chief Guest.

Scholars, members of academia and policy makers from Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Iran, Nepal, Pakistan and Turkey are to participate in the Dialogue and would share their expertise on the topic of the Policy Dialogue. Representatives from UNESCAP, SAARC, ECO, BIMSTEC, ADB, ISDB, JICA, AUSAID, World Bank, UNCTAD and local participants from various government ministries, organisations and academic institutes also participated in the policy dialogue. The joint policy dialogue has been divided into six working sessions beside the opening and concluding sessions.

In his Welcome Address the Director General of BIISS told that an efficient transport system is the key to initiate and sustain development process through market integration, expansion and induce growth. Specially, development of cross border transport and communication has become a prerequisite for regional and sub-regional cooperation. Against this sub-regional dimension, it is necessary to study systematically the existing transport network. He also added that intra-regional and intra-sub regional trade would play a critical role in strengthening economic integration in South and South-West Asia. To maximize the economic gain General Sajjad emphasized on efficient operational transport connectivity, easy and border clearance procedure and efficient arrangements for cross border and transit transport.

The presenter in the key note paper focused on challenges and opportunities of regional connectivity. He identified Bangladesh's state of nervous isolation in the early 1990's as the reason not to join UNESCAP developed Asian Highway Network (AHN) and the Trans-Asian Railway Network (TRAN). However that missed opportunity was rectified when the instrument of accession to AHN was signed in July 2009; and that for TARN, signed in November 2007, deposited in August 2011 thereby Bangladesh came out of the nervous insularity or isolation of the past. Connectivity, including transit, should be seen in the context of long term cooperation on a broad front which includes several sectors of the economy, he opined. Transit is welfare enhancing for all cooperating countries, and augments public revenues and, the transit-user state should pays the transit-provider state for right of access, he stated.

Dr. Rahman suggested Bangladesh and India may initiate consultations with Bhutan and Nepal for replacing the current bilateral agreements by trilateral agreements, having India as a common contracting party, which would accelerate the removal of the trade-obstructive rules and procedures. To negate the sensitive political dimension of cooperation the UN and the multilateral financial institutions may assist the sub-regional countries in cooperating with resource mobilization and professional / technical support since they have the a-political nature of the international organizations, he opined.

Major General (Retd.)Tarique Ahmed Siddique, rcds, psc, Honourable Defence Adviser to the Prime Minister, said that UNESCAP South and South West Asia office is playing a pioneering role in exploring untapped potentials for strengthening connectivity in the region. It is estimated that South and South West Asia have grown at 7.5 percent in 2010 as compared to 3.9 percent in 2009. Revival in investment and private consumption, growth in exports, rise in industrial production and improved performance by agricultural sector helped to achieve such strong growth. However, the region has been facing vulnerabilities to financial volatility, natural disasters, epidemics, food and energy insecurity, adverse impacts of climate change and so on. However, it is agreed by almost all economists and politicians that facilitation of connectivity would help all the countries of the region to continue economic development and face emerging development challenges of the region.

In his Chairman's remarks Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad stressed on the importance of connectivity on global and regional agenda as a tool for promoting trade and commerce, and enhancing interaction, cooperation and understanding among peoples in different countries and regions. He mentioned that regional countries of South and South West Asia have recognised the importance of connectivity and are undertaking policies to improve connectivity in and beyond their neighbourhood. In his speech he flagged three points. First, he considered transport connectivity as a tool for enhancing contacts and cooperation across borders, emphasising on the necessity of user friendly connectivity infrastructure. Then, he called for a big picture, a universal and global connectivity by ensuring unending linkages across countries and regions in all directions. And finally, he asked the regional countries to agree on universally acceptable, user-friendly and easy regimes for visa and transit of goods, services and people across borders and to harmonise standards, customs, immigration, banking and other involved procedures.

Participants in the policy dialogue have emphasized the importance of proper transport connectivity and efficient linkages among the South and South-Western countries. The participants also opined that a multilayered regional connectivity will foster stable and optimum economic growth for the countries of this region by enhancing aggregate regional trade. Bangladesh as well as other countries of the region will be benefitted by the inter-connected transport system which is conducive to socio-economic development. An effective transport network is also directly contributes to the key development and poverty reduction strategies. Different scholars in the seminar also think that transport networks help to deliver economic and social benefits to their destinations and enables individuals to meet their necessary requirements, which in this age of globalization carries enormous importance. Almost every participants in the policy dialogue recognized UNESCAP's role in the transport connectivity among the South and South-Western countries.

Korean Embassy, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Bangladesh Institute of International and Strategic Studies (BIISS) jointly organised a Seminar on Strengthening Strategic Partnerships between Bangladesh and Korea on Sunday, 23rd June 2013, at Ruposhi Bangla Hotel, Dhaka. Dr. Dipu Moni MP, Minister, Ministry of Foreign Affairs was present at the Seminar as the Chief Guest. Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad, Chairman, Board of Governors, BIISS, chaired the inaugural session of the Seminar. Major General Sajjadul Haque, afwc, psc, Director General of BIISS, delivered the Address of Welcome and H.E. Lee Yun Young ambassador of the Republic of Korea to Bangladesh, delivered the opening remarks in the inaugural session of the seminar. H. E. Dr. Gowher Rizvi, Advisor to the Prime Minister, Government of the People's Republic of Bangladesh, was present as the Special Guest. Foreign Secretary Md. Shahidul Haque delivered the closing remarks to the daylong seminar.

Scholars, members of academia and policy makers from Bangladesh and Korea participated in the seminar. The joint seminar has been divided into five working sessions including the opening and concluding sessions. 6 papers in total were presented in the seminar on various aspects of Bangladesh-Korea relations. The paper presenters were: Dr. Hyun-woo kim, Director-General for Department of American Studies, Korean National Diplomatic Academy, Republic of Korea; Mr. Nazmul Arefin, Research Officer from BIISS on behalf of Dr. Mahfuz Kabir, Senior Research Fellow of BIISS; Professor Inkyo Cheong, Inha University; Mr. Towfiqul Islam Khan, Research Fellow from Centre for Policy Dialogue; Mr. Choongjae Cho, Head of South Asia Team, Korea Institute for International Economic Policy and Mr. Kazi Akram Uddin Ahmed, President, FBCCI.

In his Welcome Address the Director General told that the relationship between the two countries is marked by warmth, close friendship and good understanding of each other's positions. The two countries are closely cooperating in the fields of trade, investment, sharing of skill, development cooperation, technology transfer, education, training, employment, human resource development, cultural exchange and through people to people contact. He also added that trade between the two countries is increasing at a phenomenal rate and Korea has reportedly invested in various sectors like ready-made garments, textiles, tanneries and shoe factories of Bangladesh.

Dr. Dipu Moni, Foreign Minister noted that Korea is one of the leading countries of human rights, democracy and trade and Korea is the 13th largest economy of the world. Bangladesh and Korea cooperate in various areas like the environment and culture. Korea receives a large number of Bangladeshi manpower and Korea contributes tremendously in the RMG sector of Bangladesh. She also added that Bangladesh can learn a lot from Korea through people to people communication, comprehensive partnerships can be extended on the areas like free trade and climate change issues. The visit of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Korea on 2010 signifies that Bangladesh gives immense value of Bangladesh Korea relationship. Honourable minister also recognized Korean government's assistance to e-governance and green climate fund.

The Ambassador of Korea H.E. Lee Yun-young opined that Bangladesh and Korea maintain a very friendly relation which is signified by the commemoration of 40th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between the two countries. The Classical Concert of last January, the Art Exhibition of last February and the Charm of Korea festival of last month stimulated the emotional Quotient in celebrating the 40th anniversary. Mr. Lee also noted that Korean people feel proud that the two countries have gone hand in hand for a long time while the economic cooperation encompasses a variety of projects from infrastructure, solar power system, education and public health, capacity building to IT such as e-Government system. He also commented that Bangladesh and Korea are enjoying excellent cooperation in the international arena including in the UN, and in climate change and security, more than ever before.

In his Chairman's remarks Ambassador Munshi Faiz Ahmad noted that Korea's development assistance have contributed significantly to the growth of many industries including RMG's, textiles and tannery industries. Korean unilateral offer of duty and quota free access for many Bangladeshi commodities helped to increase Bangladeshi exports to Korea in recent years, was also highly praised by him. He opined that despite the existing good level of understanding and relationships, there is a huge scope for further strengthening bilateral cooperation and partnership in many issues of common interests.

Participants in the conference, therefore, emphasized the importance of deeper bilateral relation between the two nations to face the challenges towards road to development. The South Korean experience of economic development can help Bangladesh grow and to achieve the desired economic destination. The participants also opined that more investments from South Korea can come within the infrastructure and power generation sectors to aid the faster growth of Bangladesh's economy. Bangladesh is one of the highest FDI recipient country from Korea and the FDI flow largely remain in the textiles and Banking sectors of Bangladesh. RoK invests in the EPZs, RMG sectors and infrastructure development sectors of Bangladesh. Different speakers of the seminar noted that Bangladesh can increase the manpower export to Korea through people to people contact and successful diplomatic negotiations.