Biden, Yoon commit to enhancing economic, technology cooperation against supply chain challenges
Yoon hopes to upgrade S. Korea-US relationship into economic, security alliance
Published : May 20, 2022 - 21:38
Updated : May 21, 2022 - 10:26
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol looks on as U.S. President Joe Biden delivers remarks during a visit to a semiconductor factory at the Samsung Electronics Pyeongtaek Campus in Pyeongtaek on Friday. (Reuters)
The leaders of South Korea and the United States on Friday committed to enhancing economic and technology cooperation to build secure and resilient global supply chains and surmount challenges.

US President Joe Biden kicked off his three-day trip to South Korea with a tour of Samsung Electronics’ chip-manufacturing complex in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, some 70 kilometers south of Seoul.

President Yoon Suk-yeol accompanied him as Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong guided them through the facility, which is a model for the new Samsung semiconductor plant being built in Taylor, Texas.

The visit by the leaders “manifests the strong will to resolve global supply chain challenges by strengthening the South Korea-US economic security alliance,” the South Korean presidential office said on Friday.

Economic security alliance
Yoon underscored that Biden’s visit to the chip factory “serves as a great opportunity to again highlight the economic and security implications of semiconductors and the significance of the ‘global, comprehensive strategic alliance.’” 

Semiconductor chips are an essential building block to produce a wide range of products from cars, robots, smartphones and medical equipment to artificial intelligence.

The South Korean president also expressed his expectation to expand the scope of the current security alliance to the economy and tech sector.

“With today’s visit as momentum, I look forward to the South Korea-US relationship blossoming into an economic security alliance based on our cooperation in advanced technology and supply chain,” Yoon said in his speech.

The concept of economic security emerged as a key domestic and foreign policy issue given that countries have faced external economic threats including the disruption of the global supply chain. The threats have been continuously amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic, the growing US-China competition, and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Biden emphasized that the two countries should work together to keep their supply chains “resilient, reliable and secure” to jointly achieve a competitive edge in the global economy based on their ongoing technological cooperation.

The Biden administration reiterated its efforts to reshape and bolster the supply chain and reduce dependence on its adversaries, which it says is indispensable to preserving US national and economic security.

To that end, Biden said, it is essential to strengthen ties and cooperation with South Korea “across the board.”

“That’s how both our nations can improve our long-term resilience, increase our shared prosperity and put our people in the best position to come out ahead of the competition in the 21st century.”

The US President emphasized now is the time to enhance bilateral business and economic cooperation against mounting supply chain challenges.

“This is the moment, in my view, to invest in one another, to deepen our business ties, to bring our people even closer together,” he said in his speech following the visit.

“This is something President Yoon and I will be talking about in our visit later after this meeting and in the months ahead. Because the alliance between the Republic of Korea and the United States is a linchpin of peace, stability and prosperity for the region and the world that we seek.”
US President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk-youl visit the Samsung Electronic Pyeongtaek Campus in Pyeongtaek on Friday.(Reuters)
New channel on economic security cooperation
Seoul and Washington on Friday also agreed to launch a new communication channel to boost bilateral coordination in economic security issues between their presidential offices, Cheong Wa Dae said.

The goal is to “closely coordinate policies and jointly respond to the core issues of technology alliance,” including building supply chains and technology cooperation in semiconductors, secondary batteries and artificial intelligence.

Wang Yun-jong, presidential secretary for economic security, and Tarun Chhabra, senior director for technology and national security on the White House National Security Council, reached an agreement during their phone call held hours before Biden’s arrival in South Korea.

“Both sides plan to frequently and regularly discuss economic security issues and coordinate and response strategies through the newly launched economic security dialogue,” the South Korean presidential office said in a statement.

The South Korean team is scheduled to travel to Washington DC in June for their first face-to-face meeting at the invitation of the Biden administration.

Three-day visit
Biden’s trip to South Korea largely aims to deepen security and economic cooperation with South Korea and align their regional strategies.

On Saturday, Biden will visit the Seoul National Cemetery to pay respects to those buried there and meet Yoon again for their first in-person summit

Biden will participate in an official dinner hosted by President Yoon, scheduled to start at 7 pm. The event will be attended by 80 people, including the heads of 10 major business groups.

On Sunday, the US President will also meet with Hyundai Motor Group Chairman Chung Euisun to thank him for his investment in the state of Georgia.

In the afternoon, Yoon and Biden are scheduled to visit the Korean Air and Space Operation Center located at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek before flying to Tokyo, according to Cheong Wa Dae. The two leaders will be briefed on operational status and encourage South Korean and US service members carrying out joint military operations.