An official website of the United States government

Ambassador’s Remarks at the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI)
July 25, 2022

Good morning and thank you Chairman Huh for the warm welcome and the invitation to today’s meeting. It is an honor to meet some of Korea’s most influential companies.

I’ve had a busy three weeks since arriving, I hosted a small Independence Day celebration, welcomed Treasury Secretary Yellen and attended my first Korean baseball game – an All Star Game to commemorate KBO’s 40th anniversary. I’m a big baseball fan, so I’m glad I was able to take in the Korean baseball experience, including the exuberant fans. I know that several FKI member companies own KBO franchises and look forward to watching your teams play.

While the United States and Korea have a long and close military history, the relationship has certainly transformed to one that features a forward-looking commercial and economic partnership.

This spring we celebrated the 10th anniversary of the U.S. – Korea Free Trade Agreement, which has served as a key pillar in the Korea-U.S. relationship.

Two-way trade and investment have flourished over the ten years since the Agreement was signed. Last year, bilateral trade in goods and services reached an all-time high of $194 billion even as the world was dealing with the coronavirus pandemic. Over that same 10-year period, Korea’s investment in the United States has more than tripled to $64 billion, and published plans by Korean firms – including many of FKI’s members – will push that number to close to $100 billion within the next 5 to 7 years.

Our economies and companies are more intertwined than ever before. I am amazed to learn about the rapidly expanding Korea-U.S. business partnerships in a vast array of fields. Last year, Korean and U.S. firms committed tens of billions of dollars to joint ventures and investments in critical areas like semiconductors, high-capacity batteries, and the broader supply chain of materials, parts, and equipment to expand the production capacity for key products.

The world needs us to work together to find solutions for global warming, to fight the pandemic and to address critical supply chain issues. Together we must make progress on things such as the digital economy, biotechnology, and responsible use of artificial intelligence. And we are natural partners in areas our citizens care most about like clean energy technology, higher education, and sustainable agriculture. It will take the innovation of U.S. and Korean companies and the support of our two governments to achieve our goals.

One path is through our cooperation in the Indo-Pacific with a focus on digital and emerging technologies, supply chain resilience, infrastructure, clean energy and decarbonization. We are looking to partners like Korea to join us to lead such cooperation through the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.

During my confirmation hearing, I highlighted that “the United States needs and welcomes a ‘Global Korea,’ not only to tackle the most pressing challenges of the 21st century, but also to seize this century’s greatest opportunities.” I stand by this statement and plan to work together with President Yoon’s administration and the Korean people on the shared vision of a free and open Indo-Pacific and a world committed to the international rules-based order, democratic principles, and respect for universal human rights.

I look forward to today’s discussion and gaining more insight into doing business in Korea.