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KITA, FKI chiefs call for mutual benefit from US investment

May 16, 2024 - 15:40 By Park Han-na
The Korea International Trade Association Chairman Yoon Jin-sik shakes hands with Jim Jordan, ninth-term US Representative after a meeting in Washington, DC, Wednesday. (KITA)

Heads of Korean business groups raised their voices for Korean companies making vast investments in the US to be treated as they deserve when facing challenges in dealing with trade and supply chain issues involving the US.

Starting Monday, Korea International Trade Association Chairman Yoon Jin-sik visited the US for five days along with the Federation of Korean Industries Chairman Ryu Jin to set forth Korean businesses' opinions to ensure that the Korea-US partnership yields outcomes reciprocally beneficial.

“Ahead of the US presidential election, it is necessary to create positive public opinion about the Korean business community by informing the entire US of the contribution of Korea-US supply chain cooperation to the US economy,” Yoon said in a statement released Thursday by the KITA.

The KITA chief met with congress members tied to the Korean professional visa bill while FKI Chairman Ryu met with members of the “Korea Caucus,” the US Senate bipartisan group promoting warm ties between the two countries, to convey the Korean industry's position and request cooperation.

According to the KITA, Yoon had a meeting Monday with US Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves to address challenges faced by Korean companies regarding the US yearly import quota of 2.63 million tons for Korean steel products as well as other import regulations.

In a meeting with Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) and former Republican representative Jon Porter, Yoon stressed that cooperation between the two countries is “essential” as they are “key partners in cooperation in the supply chain of high-tech industries” such as semiconductors, electric vehicles and batteries.

He also requested support for the Partner With Korea Act, a bipartisan bill introduced last year that aimed at providing high-skilled nonimmigrant visas for Korean nationals to address workforce supply uncertainties for Korean companies in the US.

"Soon, we will visit the US again to meet with state governments where Korean companies made major investments to support investment activities and further materialize supply chain cooperation between the two countries," Yoon said.

In 2023, Korea was the biggest contributor to US job creation among the countries making foreign direct investments to the US. According to Reshoring Initiative, Korea ranked first in creating jobs in the US, followed by the United Kingdom, Germany and China.

Since the inauguration of the Biden administration, Korean companies have announced plans to invest 71.8 trillion won ($53.3 billion) in the US.

The Federation of Korean Industries Chairman Ryu Jin holds a meeting with US Representative Mike Kelly in Washington, DC, Wednesday. (FKI)

In a meeting with US Senator Brian Schatz and US representative Mike Kelly, the FKI chairman asked for their support to prevent Korean companies from being treated unfavorably in terms of subsidies or regulations so that their investments can lead to the success of the US economy and produce mutually beneficial results for both countries.

On Wednesday, Ryu held talks with Joshua Bolten, president and CEO of the Business Roundtable, an association of CEOs of leading US companies, and discussed outlooks on US policy toward China and Korea-US supply chain cooperation after the US presidential election in November.

“The US-China conflict has become a constant, not a variable,” Ruy said. He underscored the importance of collaboration between Korean and US companies to reduce dependence on specific countries for semiconductors, battery materials and raw materials, and prepare for geopolitical uncertainty.