South Korean Trade Minister Yeo Han-koo is in the United States this week meeting with U.S. Trade officials to discuss a variety of important global topics, including vaccine production and distribution and addressing the worldwide shortage of computer chips that is taking a significant toll on the world’s supply chain for products ranging from automobiles to technology. 

Yeo took over as Minister of Trade Minister, Industry and Energy in August, and it is his first meeting here in Washington with his U.S. counterparts since taking office. His agenda includes talks with U.S. Trade Representative Katherine Tai as well as members of Congress. While he has met Trade Representative Tai previously through a virtual meeting, this is the first time they’ve conferred in person. Yeo and Tai discussed cooperation between the two nations on some of Korea’s key industries, including batteries, semiconductors. 

In his first face-to-face meeting with Tai, Yeo discussed cooperation in the country’s key industries, including semiconductors and batteries, as well as ways to support South Korean firms seeking to make investments in the US. In the meeting, U.S. Trade Representative Tai emphasized working together towards increase bilateral engagement on issues “with the goal of improving the livelihoods of our citizens and the environment,” according to a readout provided by the office of the U.S. Trade Representative. 

“They emphasized the importance of working closely together to strengthen supply chain resiliency, including in the area of semiconductors,” the readout noted, and “expressed a shared commitment to work toward a successful 12th Ministerial Conference and discussed the importance of reaching an agreement on fisheries subsidies. They also exchanged views on how to achieve a more relevant and reformed WTO in the future.”

The Korean Trade Ministry reported that Korea and the United States have agreed to maintain their close ties in the goal supply chain while committing to joint efforts that will speed up the delivery of vaccines around the globe. They also shared thoughts on how to better manage a changing business environment amid the COVID-19 pandemic. During the meeting, the two also agreed to make joint efforts to normalize the World Trade Organization and come up with significant results at the 12th Ministerial Conference of the Geneva-based body, which is scheduled to kick off on Nov. 30.

U.S. officials agreed to review a proposal to establish a new operating channel between the two nations to more cooperate in maintaining a stable supply chain. Yeo and Tai also vowed to cooperate with other global issues, including climate change. Both countries have been making efforts to cut the emission of greenhouse gases with a vision to go carbon neutral by 2050.