More and More Korean Businesses are Selecting the U.S. as their Trading Partner

June has been a busy month for strengthening the Korea-U.S. relationship through trade. This month featured three events that brought together U.S. and Korean businesses, policymakers, and thought leaders.

On June 8, the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) hosted its 2017 Korea-U.S. Strategic Alliance Dialogue and Congressional Reception. The event featured distinguished speakers including In-Ho Kim, Chairman of KITA; Daniel Ikenson, Director of the Herbert A. Stiefel Center for Trade Policy Studies, CATO Institute; Elissa Alben, Senior Trade and Competitiveness Counsel, U.S. Senate Committee on Finance; Angela Paolini Ellard, Chief Trade Counsel, U.S. House of Representatives Ways & Means Committee; Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Reginald Jones Senior Fellow, Petersen Institute for International Economics; Eric Branstad, Senior White House Advisor, U.S. Department of Commerce; Representative Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee;  and Ambassador Tim Groser, New Zealand Ambassador to the United States. Speakers discussed the importance of the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) in keeping U.S.-Korea relations strong, and the potential for the Trump Administration to renegotiate the deal. The event was attended by several members of Congress, Korean and U.S. business leaders, and other trade experts.

President Trump and the Department of Commerce hosted the SelectUSA Investment Summit on June 19-21, in Washington, D.C. The annual event helps facilitate job-creating business investment into the United States and raises awareness of the role that foreign direct investment from countries like Korea plays in the U.S. economy.

This successful event welcomes investors of all sizes, including established multinationals, small or medium-sized enterprises, and high-growth startups. Representatives from Korean businesses attended the Summit to learn more about potential U.S. locations for their facilities. Free trade agreements like the KORUS FTA support investment by opening doors between countries. Korean companies in particular, have taken advantage of the FTA. Since its implementation, Korean FDI has increased 2.6 times! In 2015 alone, Korean companies invested $40.1 billion in the United States, creating 1,800 new jobs.

During SelectUSA, the Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency (KOTRA) hosted the Korea-U.S. Investment Forum which featured a number of speakers who discussed the benefits of investing in the United States. Diane Farrell, Deputy Assistant Secretary at the U.S. Department of Commerce spoke about the ways that the KORUS FTA supports economic prosperity in Korea and the U.S. and has helped improve relations between the two countries. She reiterated the Department of Commerce’s goal of fair and free trade between the U.S. and Korea.

Other speakers at the KOTRA event included: Hohyun Jang, Minister of Economic Affairs, Embassy of the Republic of Korea; Evan Hoffman, Director, Office for International Investment; John Taylor, Senior Vice President, LG Electronics America; Ray Lahood, Former Secretary, U.S. Department of Transportation; and several state economic development representatives. The forum included time for Korean businesses in attendance to have one-on-one meetings with representatives from state governments to discuss potential partnerships and new ventures.

The busy month is finishing with Korean President Moon Jae-in’s first official state visit this week. He will meet with President Trump and other administration officials to discuss the robust trade relationship between Korea and the U.S. and the long friendship between the two countries, along with many other topics.

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