On December 17, 2021, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment Jose W. Fernandez and the ROK Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choi Jongmoon met in Seoul to co-chair the Sixth U.S.-ROK Senior Economic Dialogue (SED). Under Secretary Fernandez and Vice Minister Choi reviewed progress on the deliverables announced by the two Presidents at the May Summit, which elevated our alliance to a higher level, and reaffirmed their commitment to deepening and expanding the U.S.-ROK partnership to address regional and global challenges. This partnership is grounded in mutual trust, respect for human rights, and shared democratic values. The ROK welcomed U.S. global leadership to tackle the urgent challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis and its renewed efforts to engage in the Indo-Pacific region through strengthening cooperation between the ROK’s New Southern Policy and the U.S. vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific.
In particular, the United States and the Republic of Korea committed to the following:
- On supply chains, bolster diverse, resilient, and secure supply chains of critical products, such as semiconductors, electric vehicle batteries, health-related supplies, and critical minerals, through enhanced bilateral and multilateral cooperation, recognizing that coordinated engagement with the private sector is essential to the success of our engagement.
- On infrastructure, promote transparent, sustainable investment in quality infrastructure supported by transparent financing and aligned with social and environmental consideration as per G20 Principles for Quality Infrastructure Investment; and further identify joint projects on climate, digital connectivity, and gender equality to address the significant investment gap in the Indo-Pacific region, including through organizing a public-private infrastructure roundtable to identify and consider options to reduce the gap.
- On COVID-19 response, build on the KORUS Global Vaccine Partnership and the growing partnerships between ROK and U.S. firms and institutions; explore opportunities for further collaboration to enhance production of and access to vaccines as well as consumables and medical supplies on a global scale; appreciate the ROK’s efforts to secure one of the World Health Organization’s global Bio-manufacturing Workforce Training Hubs; and jointly support the Principles for Responsible Contributors to guide vaccine contributions.
- On public health, continue their contributions through the Global Health Security Agenda and sign a renewed MOU between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the ROK Ministry of Health and Welfare in early 2022.
- On the climate crisis and energy, uphold commitments achieved in 2021, including determined efforts on each country’s Nationally Determined Contributions towards 2050 net zero goals and support for the Global Methane Pledge; enhance research and development (R&D) collaboration; and engage with private industry to spur innovation and deployment of clean energy technologies.
- On Science & Technology (S&T), intensify bilateral collaboration on joint research and development in critical and emerging technologies, including 5G, 6G, AI, quantum, and biotechnologies; deepen bilateral coordination on investment screening and export controls; facilitate technical discussions to identify opportunities for collaboration on open, transparent, and efficient telecommunications network architectures using Open Radio Access Networks; and sign a revised S&T Agreement in early 2022.
- On development, affirm commitment to strengthen development ties and deepen cooperation in the Indo-Pacific region, Central America, and beyond; share the intent to co-finance and support the USAID/Philippines Climate Resilient Cities project; endorse plans to support KOICA’s marine debris activity in the Philippines; explore expanding collaboration on marine environmental protection and sustainable fisheries in the Indo-Pacific region; and consider initiating joint efforts on digital capacity and cybersecurity in the Indo-Pacific region.
- On people-to-people exchange, specifically with respect to women’s economic empowerment and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) empowerment, adopt the Second ROK-U.S. Women’s Economic Empowerment Action Plan aimed at advancing women’s participation in STEM-related sectors through policy advocacy and supporting female entrepreneurs; launch an international STEM internship program in summer 2023, leveraging an existing U.S. Department of Homeland Security Summer Internship program; and jointly launch pilot projects of the Embassy Science Fellows Program designed to integrate science programs with third country partners.