An official website of the United States government

Congratulatory Remarks at Association of American States Offices in Korea’s 30th Anniv. Luncheon
January 15, 2020

Congratulatory Remarks at Association of American States Offices in Korea’s 30th Anniv. LuncheonRemarks
Harry Harris
U.S. Ambassador to the Republic of Korea
Association of American States Offices in Korea (ASOK) 30th Anniversary Luncheon Event
InterContinental Seoul, COEX


Thank you very much for this certificate of recognition.

First, congratulations on an impressive 30-year Anniversary!  We’re here today to celebrate the foresight that the founders of the ASOK had 30 years ago.  From the five founding member states — Alabama, Alaska, Georgia, Missouri and Wisconsin — you’ve grown to now include 17 states/counties and ports, including my home state of Tennessee.  It’s all quite impressive and is evidence of the importance that Korea plays in your respective economies.

I understand that we have three of the founding members with us today, Mr. Jinwon Kim, Mr. Peter Underwood and Mr. Ken Yang are original members.  Thank you, gentlemen, for 30 years of hard work and partnership.

It’s no surprise that ASOK’s founding came on the cusp of significant economic growth here on the Peninsula.  Your states recognized early on what was happening here and the benefits that would come through partnering with Korean firms.

The numbers reflect this.  In 1988, Korea exported $60 billion dollars’ worth of goods worldwide, including $20 billion to the United States.  By 2018 (30 years later), Korea was exporting $604 billion dollars’ worth of goods overseas and $74 billion to the U.S.  That is a ten-fold increase in total exports and a 200% growth rate for exports to the United States.

The story of Korean FDI into the United States is even more dramatic.  In 1988 Korean FDI into the U.S. was just $384 million. By 2018, that investment had increased to $57.6 billion.   That’s a 150-fold increase…1-5-0…in investment into the United States, and ASOK members account for much of that growth!

The phenomenal development we see throughout Korea today is in large measure due to the efforts started 30 years ago by the individuals of this organization.  Korea is now home to companies engaged in cutting edge and transformational technologies and leading the way for the 4th industrial revolution.

I often meet with your governors and I enjoy sharing with them the role you’ve played in attracting strong, technologically focused investment.

The United States, of course, is incredibly interested in attracting even more South Korean investors.  I’m pleased to know that we are working side-by-side with you in educating Korean companies on the benefits of investing in the United States, and how to get started.

The top 6 reasons why investing in the U.S. makes good business sense is as follows:

  1. The U.S. is the world’s largest market
  2. We support and encourage innovation
  3. There is an ease of doing business in the U.S.
  4. We have a strong and talented workforce
  5. We have abundant resources
  6. We have access to capital

Last year, it was an honor to accompany over 100 South Korean business representatives to the SelectUSA Summit, the largest investment seminar hosted in the United States.  The delegation was the largest to date from Korea, and the second largest at the Summit. Many of those in attendance today joined me in that delegation. I take great pleasure in announcing that I will lead the delegation again this year, and I look forward to seeing you and your business communities in Washington this June.

Registration is already open so please share this information with Korean companies that are interested in doing business in the United States.  I’m sure you can attest from your professional experiences how helpful the SelectUSA Summit can be to business success in the United States.

To everyone who took the time to be here today, thank you again for your continued efforts to promote trade between the United States and Korea, and for attracting Korean investment to the United States.  And, thank you, for this certificate…it is a privilege to be able to work alongside you, and lead the ROK business delegation to the 7th SelectUSA.

Gam sah hap nida.