When Americans go to the polls in this week to decide whether Donald Trump or Joe Biden will lead the nation as president for the
Economic Hopes and a Return to Normality Seen in Biden Victory
President Moon Jae-in quickly congratulated President-elect Joe Biden last week following his projected victory over Donald Trump in the 2020 General Election. In his November 9 statement, he said that South Korea will ensure there is no gap in the alliance with the United States and the process of building peace on the Korean peninsula, one of the highest priorities for the Korean government.
While President Moon saw outgoing U.S. President Trump as a strong partner willing to meet with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un, there were ongoing disagreements about the best way to engage with North Korea. Those tensions were further heightened by trade disputes as well as Trump’s insistence that the Seoul government provide billions of dollars in additional support for American troops in the country.
In a statement following Biden’s election, President Moon said, “We will gather forces as an alliance on the shared values of democracy, peace, human rights, international solidarity and multilateral cooperation.”
In addition to normalizing security between the two allies, the election of Joe Biden also presents significant new economic opportunities for the U.S.-Korea relationship. Key to the economic relationship has been the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement, first signed in 2007 but fully enacted in 2012 after concerns regarding beef and auto exports were addressed.
With the enactment of the KORUS FTA, trade between the two nations reached more than $134 billion last year, an increase of nearly $34 billion from the 2011 pre-agreement baseline. As of 2019, Korean investment in the U.S. increased to $61 billion as of last year, directly supporting nearly 60,000 American jobs, according to figures provided by the U.S. Department of Commerce.
Biden’s election is expected to remove the uncertainty that was a hallmark of the Trump economic policies towards the region. “Trump’s ‘us vs. them’ outlook in his international agenda – made clear in the KORUS renegotiation – as well as his knack for unconventional maneuvers to achieve his goals, such as placing section 232 tariffs on South Korean steel imports on national security grounds, has made it difficult for companies to confidently navigate relationships with the United States,” said one economic observer.
During his campaign, President-Elect Biden placed more emphasis on cooperation with allies and restoring bilateral economic ties. He is expected to adhere much more closely to normal international norms when it comes to international trade, bringing the U.S back to its more traditional role on the global economic stage.