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S. Korea, World Bank strive for sustainable growth

2nd annual Global Innovative Growth Forum kicks off virtually

Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki. (The Korea Herald)
Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki. (The Korea Herald)
South Korea’s Ministry of Economy and Finance, in partnership with the World Bank Group, launched a two-day innovation forum to contemplate a road map for sustainable growth in the post-coronavirus era, officials said Wednesday.

Global Innovative Growth Forum 2020, the second forum in an annual series launched as a collaboration platform for the promotion of sustainable growth, kicked off Wednesday under the slogan “Innovative and Sustainable Growth in the Post-COVID-19 Era,” the ministry said in a press release.

The event was held in a virtual format this year with only a limited number of local speakers present at the site, in light of the ongoing pandemic. Participating online as speakers are global business leaders such as Google Vice President Vinton Cerf, and Plug and Play CEO and founder Saeed Amidi.

In his opening speech, Seoul’s fiscal chief called for global partnerships to build contactless infrastructure and create a digital, eco-friendly business ecosystem. He also introduced the Korean New Deal, the country’s midterm program to foster sustainable growth in line with the post-coronavirus world.

“Innovation for mutual prosperity is indispensable as we now live amid challenges which take more than individual efforts to overcome,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki.

The top official vowed to expand public-private partnerships in the so-called Big Three industries -- future mobility, bio and system semiconductors -- as a preliminary step toward creating a virtuous market circle.

“Also, innovation should be accompanied by enhanced social safety net, such as the introduction of universal employment insurance and job training programs that stand in line with the digital era,” Hong said.

On behalf of the World Bank, Vice President for East Asia and Pacific Victoria Kwakwa recognized Korea’s moves to accelerate its transition toward a greener and more resilient growth plan.

The ongoing pandemic is expected to push an additional 88 million to 115 million people into extreme poverty this year, with the total number rising to as many as 150 million by 2021, Kwakwa said, citing the World Bank’s 2020 report on poverty and shared prosperity. Responding to the global crisis, the development bank is providing up to $160 billion between now and June 2021.

“Meanwhile, the crisis is bringing digital transformation and green growth to the forefront of the world’s development agenda,” she said.

“The adoption of digital technologies has grown by leaps and bounds during the pandemic, providing new sources of competitiveness and reshaping the nature of work, but also increasing the risks of digital inequality.”

To provide developing economies with innovative, technology-enabled solutions, it is important that technology entrepreneurs -- such as Korea -- come forward in the global arena with model examples, the World Bank official added.

At the fourth session, set for Thursday afternoon, Korean startups are to present innovative technologies with potential applications in development projects around the world.

Seeking to initiate the second round of its Disruptive Technology for Development program early next year, the World Bank is currently receiving applications for aspiring technology leaders in the agriculture, manufacturing, tourism and green industries.

Details of the two-day forum are available at the official website (gigf.kr), and video clips of the sessions are streamed on the respective YouTube channels of the ministry’s innovation growth task force, the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology and the state-run broadcaster KTV.

The World Bank Group, a multilateral financial body headquartered in Washington, consists of five organizations -- the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, the International Development Association, the International Finance Corporation, the Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and the International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes. Together, the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Development Association constitute the World Bank.

By Bae Hyun-jung (tellme@heraldcorp.com)
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