• American Chamber of Commerce in Korea
  • Your Partner in Business Since 1953


home> >

[News Article] Amcham head says 2020 is a big year to be in business in Korea

Amcham head says 2020 is a big year to be in business in Korea? James Kim, American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) in Korea chairman and CEO, discusses Korea's stance as an investment site for U.S. companies and pending business issues in Korea and the United States, during an interview with the Korea JoongAng Daily at Amcham Korea's headquarters in Yeouido, western Seoul. [PARK SANG-MOON] [Korea JoongAng Daily] With the coronavirus pandemic, 2020 has been a tough year for businesses all over the world. But for multinational companies, Korea was the best location to be as a regional office, said James Kim, chairman and CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce (Amcham) in Korea.   “If you take a look at Europe or U.S. cities, they’re in a virtual lockdown whereas in Korea, yes, we may wear masks for the most part but we have never had a lockdown,” said Kim. “So they look at Korea as another market for them to increase revenue.”   Amcham Korea had its share of success thanks to such recognition, setting records for the most new members and events held in its 67-year history.   The Korea JoongAng Daily sat down with Kim to discuss what it was to be a foreign company in Korea over the past year and the pending issues for businessmen of both countries: The U.S.-China trade war, a new U.S. administration and an ongoing pandemic.   The first Korean-American to head the organization, Kim is now in his fourth year as Amcham Korea chairman and CEO. He previously served as chief executive at Korean units of Yahoo, Microsoft and General Motors.   Below is an edited excerpt of his interview on Nov. 11 at Amcham Korea’s headquarters in Yeouido, western Seoul.     Q. Korea was one of the first countries to be affected by the coronavirus and to have the government establish safety measures. For your member companies, was it an advantage being in Korea this year?   A. Obviously, the whole world knows that Korea did a fantastic job with Covid-19. I think that Korea may have invented the “3Ts” ? from the testing, tracing to treating ? which is really unprecedented. This turned out to be a very positive case for American companies that operate here to talk about the great things Korea has been doing to their company headquarters.     If you take a look at European or U.S. cities, they’re in a virtual lockdown whereas in Korea, yes, we may wear masks for the most part but we never had a lockdown. So they look at Korea as another market for them to increase revenue. One example is McDonald’s. They operate over 400 restaurants here, and this is the one of the few countries in the world where every store is in operation today.     Q. In the past few years, I’ve seen a lot of Korean IT firms complain that there’s reverse discrimination against them since the local government has a weaker grip on foreign companies here. What is your opinion on this?   A. I think that whenever companies do very well in any country, the regulators have to take a look at it. I see sites like YouTube and Netflix have done really well, but at the same time Korean companies like Naver, Kakao and Coupang ? they’re all doing really well too and I think they also face similar challenges. So I don’t really bond with the notion that there’s a lot of discrimination going on at all. I just think it’s the nature of when you’re big, everyone’s going to have attention on you.   But despite that, American investors are still big in Korea. Last year, U.S. companies invested $39 billion dollars in stock here, employed 116,000 jobs here in Korea, and research and development [investment] was like $900 million last year alone. I think it goes to show you that despite any concept of discrimination, American companies have not stopped or lost enthusiasm to invest here. I expect a lot more than that.      Q. There’s anticipation that Hong Kong losing its power as an Asian financial hub may benefit Korea. Do you see that as a realistic scenario?   A. First and foremost, Hong Kong was not built overnight. It’s been there for a long time and took a long time [to be what it is today]. But I quite frankly think this is a good opportunity for Korea. With our declining population here, we need to become more of a global regional hub.    That’s why I applauded The New York Times for coming to Korea. I actually spent a lot of time with Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, international president of The New York Times Company. He explained his reasons for why they came here: One was obviously freedom of the press. The second, that Korea has amazing digital infrastructure so they can use this hub.   So I feel Korea is on the right track. But I also know it’s a sensitive discussion given the importance of China to Korea. The more Korean government touts “come here” it might be viewed as negative to China. But as someone who is an American citizen promoting businesses here, for both Korea and the United States, I’d like to see IT companies, national institutions and manufacturing regional hubs here.     Q. Have you received a lot of inquiries from companies to move from Hong Kong or China to Korea recently?   A. Yes, we have. I can't disclose names to you but The New York Times was such a visible decision. There are companies that are interested in expanding more in Korea just because Korea is getting a lot bigger. If you take a look at why the great companies are here, it’s not just because the market itself but because of the important partnership opportunities with companies like Samsung, LG and Hyundai. They’re huge global companies today, and if you want to have collaboration with them, they really should be here.     Almonty Industries, for example, is now producing the largest tungsten [mine] in Korea. They’re in the process of finalizing here. Right now, 80 percent of our tungsten comes from China. So this is the play where they’re going to diversify away from China. And tungsten is a very important resource for semiconductors and IT companies.     Q. Korea is a small market by population. Why do foreign companies want to come here?   A. Let’s talk about size. Population may not be that big, but it’s also the sixth largest trading partner of the United States. This is also the home to an export base to China where 30 percent of our exports go to.    The second thing is the geographic location. We’re close to all the different major Asian countries: China, Japan to Singapore. Third is the digital technology side ? because of the ability to work with companies like Samsung and LG, a lot of innovation. People say if you can learn in Korea especially about things like the speedy customer service you can take that value or learning to anywhere else.   People also like living and working in Korea. In fact, I talk to a lot of the expats that are here and I don’t know a single CEO that said “I want to get out of Korea.” They all want to extend their stay. I think now with Covid-19, it has given them extra reason to be here. They’re safe.     Q. Korean companies and the government like to say that they’re moving past the stage of being a fast follower and are turning into a first mover. Would you agree?   A. I think it’s a combination. In some arenas Koreans can replicate what happened in the United States and do much better here. In some cases, [we see] Korean leadership, and Covid-19 is one example.     I think Koreans are innovators. They move really fast. When I worked in the IT business, Koreans invented phablets. I still remember [Apple’s] Steve Jobs, before he passed away, he actually said publicly, "over my dead body are we going to allow big phones." But guess what: Bigger phones are now doing so well.   And the drive-through for Covid-19 testing. That’s innovation from Korea right there in something as important as the pandemic. So those are couple of the examples I feel like the world can learn from Korea. Koreans’ “bbali-bbali ['quickly' in Korean] culture” can make that happen.     Q. The U.S. presidential election just ended this month with President-elect Joe Biden’s victory. What impact will that have on Korea and its relation with the United States?   A. First and foremost, Amcham is a non-political organization. Throughout my history at Amcham, we have worked with both Democratic and Republic presidents. Even the U.S. military here has worked on both sides. So for me, regardless of who winds up in office, I believe we have strong and smart people from both sides who will preserve this 70-year plus alliance between two countries. Because it’s not just commercial. It’s a cultural one, and obviously the military side of the equation makes it even move special.   As for President-elect Joe Biden, I met him in 2013 when he was sitting vice president. We had a very good dialogue. I remain very confident that he will be a very strong participant in the two's ties together. And he has a lot of people he has worked with ? all the different ambassadors are in place, all the different people in the state department and administration. I feel like it’s going to be a continuation.     Q. A big issue for local businesses is the U.S.-China trade war. How do you see the situation going next year?   A. I think that China has always been a big concern for most Americans who are following the news. Under President Joe Biden, I think there will continue to be some pressure on a lot of different fronts not only on the commercial side but other social agendas that Americans have expressed concerns about, including freedom of press.     But from a Korea side, obviously Korea needs to be very careful in how they pick sides if they have to. And I hope no one’s asking them to pick any sides, but what I would look at is: The United States has had the closest relation with Korea for 70 plus years, so I think that bond will stay. But at the same time China is now becoming their largest trading partner [that accounts for] 30 percent of exports.   What I want to caution the Korean government is on diversification. Thirty percent to any one country, I think, is too big. If I was a business person selling widgets, I don’t want one customer representing 30 percent of my business, which is why I think Korea should diversify further away.     Q. What would you say is the biggest issue in the business realm for both Korea and the United States next year?   A. I’d say the most important thing is what happens to any second or third waves of the pandemic. We have a lot of events planned right now, including our upcoming inaugural ball in February. Over a thousand people historically participate, but this year we had to tone it down. And we have this Doing Business in Korea seminar which is going to be very, very big. Because of the pandemic, Korea has really escalated its public profile. At this seminar we want to showcase why Korea could take a lead and having more business opportunities here.     Q. Covid-19, I imagine, is an unprecedented event for you and your members. How does that effect Amcham in setting plans for 2021?   A. If you take away the travel and tourism this year, so many American companies are doing well. At Amcham, we’re going to have a record year this year ? from the number of members that signed up, number of events we had, to the type of economics that we can generate.     This year has become the best year in our history because we transformed our business model from just having offline events to a lot of webinars. So that’s a digital transformation that we’re seeing. In fact, because we do so many webinars today that are produced at a high quality, we can get more people interested in participating. Whereas before, people would come in, they looked at it as a networking event. But here, it’s a lot of good solid business.   And I think because of the pandemic more people need organizations like ours to help them with advocacy, help them with marketing; they need more information from us and other types of networking opportunities.   We’re continuing to add to our employee base. We want to do more digital transformation ? more video and virtual settings. Not just doing it at Zoom or Microsoft Teams, we want to make it really more multinational and really high quality so that any audience who calls in from anywhere can see a very high quality product. This can’t be done in the traditional PC [environment] anymore.   BY SONG KYOUNG-SON   [song.kyoungson@joongang.co.kr]


[Webinar] AMCHAM Fireside Chat with CSIS: What the U.S. Presidential Election Means for the U.S.-ROK…

 October 29, 2020 - AMCHAM proudly hosted two of the most insightful and well-connected experts on the political stage in Washington DC for an exclusive discussion on the election and what it means for the U.S.-ROK relationship. Dr. John J. Hamre and Dr. Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) joined James Kim, AMCHAM Chairman & CEO, for an interactive conversation and shared their insights on how the presidential election may play out and what the key implications are for the global economy and for businesses in Korea.   About the SpeakerJohn J. Hamre, CSIS President and CEO / Langone Chair in American LeadershipJohn Hamre was elected president and CEO of CSIS in January 2000. Before joining CSIS, he served as the 26th U.S. deputy secretary of defense. Prior to holding that post, he was the under secretary of defense (comptroller) from 1993 to 1997. As comptroller, Dr. Hamre was the principal assistant to the secretary of defense for the preparation, presentation, and execution of the defense budget and management improvement programs. In 2007, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates appointed Dr. Hamre to serve as chairman of the Defense Policy Board, and he served in that capacity for four secretaries of defense.Click to view SPEAKER’S FULL BIOVictor Cha, Senior Adviser and Korea ChairVictor Cha joined the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C. in May 2009 as a senior adviser and the inaugural holder of the Korea Chair. He is professor of government and holds the D.S. Song-KF Chair in the Department of Government and the School of Foreign Service (SFS) at Georgetown University. In July 2019, he was appointed vice dean for faculty and graduate affairs in SFS. He left the White House in 2007 after serving since 2004 as director for Asian affairs at the National Security Council (NSC). At the White House, he was responsible primarily for Japan, the Korean peninsula, Australia/New Zealand, and Pacific Island nation affairs. Dr. Cha was also the deputy head of delegation for the United States at the Six-Party Talks in Beijing and received two outstanding service commendations during his tenure at the NSC.Click to view SPEAKER’S FULL BIOMiss a Webinar?


[Webinar] AMCHAM Women's Leadership Committee Webinar

 October 27, 2020 - The American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) hosted the Women's Leadership Committee Webinar focusing on highlighted systematic challenges women face on entrepreneurship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes a lack of access to funding/finance, lack of network, and competing gendered priorities such as childcare. This session offered strategies for women entrepreneurs with funding option to find success via help of a successful woman entrepreneur and an accelerator who has helped hundreds of startups. The speakers include Sinhae Lee, partner of Global Blockchain Innovative Capital, Eugene Kim, partner of Sparklabs and Christina Ahn from Stanton Chase Korea as the moderator.  About the SpeakerSinhae Lee, Partner at Global Blockchain Innovative CapitalSinhae is Partner at GBIC a crypto fund, and Block72 a comprehensive blockchain consulting firm based in US, China, and Korea. Prior to joining GBIC, she has been deeply involved in the FinTech/blockchain industry in Silicon Valley. She led business development and operations at a payment start-up, Coin, which was acquired by FitBit in 2016 and later worked at NerdWallet, a FinTech start-up in San Francisco. She started her career as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company. She brings her Silicon Valley and consulting experience to the blockchain/crypto industry. She has been participating in and speaking at numerous FinTech & blockchain conferences including Money2020, SFBW (San Francisco Blockchain Week), etc. Also, she is nominated for Top 100 Women In Fintech 2018 by Lattice80 along with other female leaders including some executives from JP Morgan, UBS, MasterCard, Tencent, and HSBC.Sinhae holds an MBA from Stanford University and a B.A. in Business from Korea University. Also, she is currently teaching at Kookmin University in Seoul, South Korea as an adjunct professor. Eugene Kim, Partner at SparklabsEugene is currently the Partner of Sparklabs and manages the day ?to-day operations of the Sparklabs accelerator program.Eugene previously served as a Director of Global Business Development at Tencent Korea. He was responsible for the sourcing of Korean game titles to China and Tencent’s global publishing network, headed the global sales of Tencent game titles, and he managed relationships with Tencent’s global publishing partners. Prior to Tencent, Eugene was Director of Business Development and Marketing at Podotree, an online educational app developer in Korea. He was responsible for their marketing and launch effort into the U.S. Previously, he was with Vertigo Games as the Group Manager of the Overseas Business Group.He earned his BA in Economics and Philosophy from the University of Michigan. Miss a Webinar 


[Webinar] AMCHAM Human Resources Virtual Seminar Series 2020

   October 22, 2020 - The American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) hosted the first session of the Human Resources Virtual Seminar 2020. This session focused on employee wellness during the COVID-19 pandemic. The speakers include Austin Kweon and Amanda Mercep from Aon and Mira Lee, senior human resources manager from GE Korea as the moderator.   About the SpeakerAustin Kweon, CEO and Head of Retirement Solution, Korea - AonAustin Kweon is an expert on Pension Risk, Behavioral Finance, Employee Benefits, Health Care, and Post Merger Integration. He has been advising numerous multinational companies and Korea local companies regarding their transformation by resolving those complex issuesBefore joining Aon in 2005, he had worked as Pension and Healthcare Economist. He has published numerous articles in the major media such as Wall Street Journal Asia, Korea Economic Daily, ChosunIlbo, Mail Economic Daily, Money and many others. He is a frequent speaker at many professional conferences. He has chaired and spoken at Asian Investor’s Annual Institutional Investment Forums, Private Equity International’s Global Private Equity Seminar, Global HR Forum, as well as AMCHAM seminars.He holds a Master of Science in Actuarial Science from Boston University after his MA/BA in Economics, and completed Harvard/Hewitt Accelerated Leadership Development Program. Amanda Mercep, MPH, Head of Wellbeing Solutions, North Asia - AonA public health professional with over 12 years of experience in corporate wellbeing in both private and NGO settings. Her expertise lies in employee engagement, program design / implementation, marketing & communications, vendor management, wellness-related capital projects, environmental health and business continuity planning. Previously, Amanda was Vice President, Wellness for Goldman Sachs, where she was responsible for advancing the employee value proposition as well as developing resilience initiatives for the firm. Prior to that, Amanda held community and corporate health director roles at the American Heart Association and the American Cancer Society in New York.Amanda holds a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science from Skidmore College and a Master in Public Health from Columbia University School of Public Health. Webinar BriefAMCHAM is hosting the Human Resources Virtual Seminar Series 2020 to safely provide an in-depth look into the evolving HR industry amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This Series includes multiple sessions from various industry experts leading up to the 2021 Human Resources Workshop.  This first session, which was scheduled for Thursday, October 22, covered the topic "Enhancing Employee Wellbeing During COVID-19." With rising healthcare costs and demand to recruit and retain top talent, wellbeing is becoming an increasingly important part of companies’ overall business strategy and employer value proposition. The added pressures of the pandemic have made wellbeing even more of a business imperative, with heightened focus on addressing the mental health, financial stress and social isolation amongst employee populations.  For a professional review of the topic, representatives from Aon will explored how wellbeing extends beyond just the physical dimensions to emotional, social, and financial aspects as well. Innovation trends in this space and practical strategies on how to approach business planning to ensure wellbeing is embedded within an organization will also be shared.? The second session will take place on Thursday, November 26.Miss a Webinar?https://youtu.be/UkBUQdCax0o


[Webinar] AMCHAM Energy & Environment Committee Meeting Webinar

  October 15, 2020 - The American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) hosted the Energy & Environment Committee Webinar focusing on the future of gas markets post COVID-19 pandemic. The speakers include Carlos Torres Diaz of Rystad Energy, Sandra park of Woodside, James Mactaggart of Next Decade and Susna Ji from Baker Hughes as the moderator.  About the SpeakerCarlos Torres Diaz, Head of Gas and Power Markets Research at Rystad Energy?Topic : Session 1. PresentationCarlos Torres Diaz is Head of Gas and Power Market Research at Rystad Energy. He and his team develop the gas and renewables coverage for the  company and he frequently participates in related consulting work.Click to view SPEAKER’S FULL BIO Sandra Park, Chief Representative Korea, WoodsideTopic : Session 2. Panel DiscussionSandra has extensive commercial experience spanning business development, marketing and commercial contract engineering.Throughout her career she has worked on globally significant oil and gas projects across multiple countries including Australia, Indonesia and Mozambique. Sandra’s international experience includes playing a key role in the establishment of Samsung’s Mozambique and Nigerian entities.Click to view SPEAKER’S FULL BIO James MacTaggart, SVP of LNG marketing/Asia, Next DecadeTopic : Session 2. Panel DiscussionJames MacTaggart is Senior Vice President, LNG Marketing ? Asia and Middle East, of NextDecade Corporation (NASDAQ: NEXT).NextDecade is a liquefied natural gas (LNG) development company focused on LNG export projects and associated pipelines in Texas. NextDecade intends to develop the largest LNG export solution linking Permian Basin associated gas to the global LNG market.Click to view SPEAKER’S FULL BIOWebinar BriefThis webinar covered the outlook on gas globally and in the Asia Pacific Region including the future of gas markets post COVID-19 pandemic. Discussions also brought valuable insights on gas as a role in the future as a transition fuel as well as an important part of the energy mix, leading to the promising concern on how we can collaborate as an Asia Pacific region regarding gas in addition to the role of partnership and technology?. Many valuable insights with prominent experts from Rystad Energy, Woodside, Next Decade Asia, and Baker Hughes? were shared to out webinar attendees.Miss a Webinar?


[Webinar] Digital Identity for Digital Trust Society. What is a Decentralized Identity (DID) and Why…

 September 17, 2020 - The American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) hosted a webinar with the theme “Digital Identity for Digital Trust Society. What is a Decentralized Identity ('DID') and Why It Matters? The speakers included Henry Lee of ICONLOOP and Min Kim, founder of the ICON Project.   About the SpeakerHenry Lee, Head of Strategy, ICONLOOPHenry is the Head of Strategy at ICONLOOP, a leading blockchain technology company in Asia. Henry has extensive experience in leading various blockchain related businesses and is currently responsible for strategy, investment and global business development. Prior to ICONLOOP, Henry worked in investment banking at J.P. Morgan and Deutsche Bank where he advised a wide array of clients in the financial and technology sectors. Henry received his B.A. in Business Administration from the George Washington University. Min Kim, Founder of ICON ProjectMin Kim has 15 years of experience in the financial and technology industry. Min is the founder of the ICON Project, a leading public blockchain project in the world. Previously, he was the Chief Strategy Officer of DAYLI Financial Group, Korea’s largest fintech holding company, and the Chief Operating Officer at Tapas Media, a U.S. digital content distribution platform backed by Daumkakao and SK Planet. Min started his career at Deutsche Bank's technology investment banking division in San Francisco. He received his B.S. in Business Administration from Haas School of Business at University of California, Berkeley.Click to view SPEAKER’S FULL BIOWebinar BriefFrom Equifax and Cambridge Analytica to GDPR and COVID contact tracing, the world is faced with an age-long digital challenge. How can we better protect people’s identity and data? The challenge is largely due to the way we manage data on the web. The current architectures manage identity based on centralized, top-down approaches that rely on trusted authorities and third-party operators. And because of this, there was no way to use digital credentials to prove an online identity in the same manner we do in the real (offline) world. AMCHAM Korea hosted a morning webinar featuring ICONLOOP to introduce the Decentralized Identity (‘DID’) technology and how it re-envisions the way people create, control, share their personal data. Often referred to as the self-sovereign identity, DID aims to give people power back over their identity and data.  During the webinar, ICONLOOP focused on three key points  including what DID is and why it matters, and how it will fundamentally change the way people interact in the digital society.?  1) State of the Digital Identity Today- What is identity? What is digital identity? What are some challenges today? 2) Decentralized Identifier- What is DID? Why is the concept of DID getting more popular? How is blockchain relevant?  3) Application Case in the Finance Industry- What is an example of DID?Miss a Webinar?Please refer to the following link to find out more about AMCHAM webinar:https://youtu.be/OC6w0dy0udY 


[News Article] What happens when China dominates tungsten supply: Almonty Industries [VIDEO]

  [The Korea Times] Video by Lee Min-young, Kim Kang-min, Yun Da-been, Kim Bo-kyung This is the first episode of our new series in collaboration with the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, where we will be taking an inside look into the world of business by exploring a wide range of critical decisions and business strategies faced by chief executives around the world.The Korea Times interviewed Lewis Black, CEO of global mining company Almonty Industries Inc. that owns the Sangdong mine in Gangwon Province, Korea, which was historically one of the largest tungsten mines in the world.Alfonse D'Amato who is a former U.S. senator from New York, and the founder of Park Strategies LLC, a public policy and business development firm also joined the interview. His son Daniel D'Amato is the co-founder of Almonty Industries Inc.Almontry Industries Inc. is is a global mining company specializing in tungsten mining and exploration. Its primary operations are in Spain, Portugal, and South Korea. Almonty is set to reopen the world's largest tungsten mine in Sangdong, Gangwon Province, Korea.Below is the full transcript of the interview with Lewis Black and senator Al D'Amato.Q. Lewis can you give us an overview of what Almonty Industries does?[Lewis]A. Well Almonty Industries is, we specialize specifically on the strategic metal of tungsten. We have five generations of expertise in its extraction and we own the longest running mine in the world in Portugal which has been running for 126 years and we account for roughly seven percent currently of outputs outside of China. This will increase to closer to 30 percent when South korea opens but the most important thing is tungsten's a very difficult metal to produce and we have a depth of knowledge that is unmatched and the industry accepts we are considered to be the best operators outside of China and one of the best operators in the world.Q. We all know that tungsten is a strategic medal but could you tell us how this resource is exactly being used and explain to us its importance in production and manufacturing?[Lewis]A. Well I mean for instance in South Korea, it's the largest consumer of tungsten per capita in the world because it's extensively used in the semiconductor business but it also is included in aerospace, in the car manufacturing, in medical and in defense and there's a little bit of it in just about everything that's in your life, from the the vibrator in your telephone to a guidance system on a satellite. You need very small amounts of it but without that little piece of tungsten the product is completely useless.[Senator]It is the strongest metal in the world. It's an alloy which is absolutely essential particularly in drilling for example. Drilling equipment you've got to have tungsten. In the defense of your nation, in the manufacturing of equipment where a high intensity heat is there. It is an alloy which is essential and unfortunately over the years, China has come to, in some cases, represent well over 80 percent of the world's production of of tungsten and it used this to its advantage in driving out competition so that if there was a tungsten mine in the western hemisphere, the Chinese would dump their product, lower the price and drive the mines out of business so there's never been any real competition. Lewis and my son have worked together over 10 years to bring Almonty to this position. Many people scoffed at it and now many people are looking and saying 'my gosh' because Almonty is on the verge of starting the reopening of this critical asset, critical to the world.Q. How big of an impact will this mine have on the global opportunity?[Lewis]A. This mine is very well respected through the entire industry because it is seen as the greatest. I think it's the best way to put it. It is seen as the ultimate mine in tungsten. It has the highest grade, it has 70 plus years of reserves. The Chinese are in many ways not terribly comfortable that this mine is going to reopen because it does have the ability to really take some of the strength of the Chinese dominance of this market away.[Senator]There is a very wonderful opportunity to turn to this mine which strategically is so important for South Korea because it can give it all of the tungsten that south korea needs and it can supply the western hemisphere and indeed the mine is so rich. We have contracts ready with some of the largest companies in the world which will guarantee that they're not going to be shut down with the Chinese dumping and lowering the price because they've entered into agreements that go into the future over the next 15 years and so what we can do is break that stranglehold that China has over the rest of the world.Q. Summarize for us what you see are the real benefits for the Korean economy, the Korean citizens and most importantly that region which is not that close to the metropolitan Seoul area.[Senator]A. The reopening of the Almonty Korea tungsten mine and Sangdong is a major infrastructure project for the community. We're going to be investing well over a hundred million dollars in this project, 80 million comprising direct capital expenditures related to the reopening.[Lewis]And initially there will be more than 200 people working for the sites as the mine expands and we also developed the molybdenum mine which is the other mine at the site as well. That'll double up the numbers. You're looking at generating tax revenues somewhere in the region of 150 million dollars over 10 years and in mining they say for every direct job there are six indirect jobs so you run into essentially full outputs you know into thousands of indirect jobs that will revitalize a town that in its day had 40,000 residents and now has just over 700 so you can see that this will have a profound effect on the town of Sangdong.Q. Speaking of tungsten supply, can you tell us about the challenges that come from the limited supply of tungsten metals as the world is heavily relying on China for these metals?[Lewis]A. To 85 percent of the world's output of tungsten comes from China and this really culminates in the 80s, the middle to late 80s where a lot of Chinese material hit the market. Prices collapsed and pretty much everyone went out of business. One or two survivors, but that was it. Those survivors are still with us. One we own in Portugal, the other one is in Austria which is owned by Sandvik but that's pretty much it that survived that blood bath in the late 80s and then of course we've seen subsequently very difficult to then open up minds because that knowledge all disappeared. It all vanished and it's a very difficult as I said before it's a very difficult metal to process.[Senator]And unfortunately the Sangdong mine located in South Korea, one of the greatest mines in the world became victim to the Chinese dumping because they couldn't sell their product, they couldn't compete so I guess it goes back to about 1992 when the government closed the Sangdong mine, a mine that had the greatest concentration of high quality tungsten. There's none that was better and it was closed down, it was closed down because they could not make sales because the Chinese, by dumping at prices that no one could compete with put them out of business. Now the world cannot afford to be held hostage by the Chinese government. Just cannot do it.Q. The U.S. is currently having a trade war with China and if most of the metal supply comes from China, the current U.S.-China trade war must be putting a huge strain on U.S. manufacturers so Senator, how do you see this ongoing trade war between the two countries and how do you assess the damages?[Senator]A. This is a strategic alloy which is necessary in so many areas, the medical area, the defense area, the manufacturing area, as we find more technological ways to go forward. We should be working in this cooperative way. What a great opportunity for South Korea to reinvigorate its economy to keep it growing, to keep it moving and not be held under the fear and dominance of the Chinese.Q. So you said that we shouldn't be held captive. So do you think U.S. manufacturing companies should find ways to reduce dependency on China?[Senator]A. Not only U.S. companies but companies throughout the western hemisphere as well. So much in terms of manufacturing, in other areas, health etc., the United States passed legislation which made it possible for the Chinese state enterprises to take political interference, media censorship, bifurcated internet situations and I think the pandemic has got certainly the American public waking up to the danger of creating monopolies that China will use to its advantage at the disadvantage of other countries. We can't afford to be held hostage whether it's tungsten or whether it's the creation of medical supplies and strategic areas. We just can't do it and this project will absolutely put South Korea on the map in terms of dealing with this problem of tungsten. It's a small problem but let me tell you, it touches many people's lives.Q. So more on the operation in Korea, Almonty is making a big move investing millions of dollars in developing the Sangdong mine so were there any challenges in funding this multi-million dollar project or could you tell us about other difficulties you have faced such as communicating the project with local residents?[Lewis]A. You know, it obviously took time to attract the type of lender we were looking for. We ended up with a lender who is considered to be one of the most conservative and maybe do one every 18 months, maybe. Most of the projects they do are essentially vast projects for major mining companies. They also build nuclear power stations, hydroelectric dams, car factories so KfW (Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau) and currently KfW is bailing out the German economy so it's a very significant lender but they have a 100 track record of not having one default or one bankruptcy of any mine that they've supported so they're extremely cautious about who they choose to support and they were, like we were, very impressed with not just the project itself but the environment that it sits in the community and the availability of of good highly skilled people and the political support, both local, regional and central.Q. Korea has become a highly environmentally conscious country that is strongly dedicated to green growth. So how can an industry like mining which is traditionally known to be environmentally risky fit into Korea's green growth paradigm?[Lewis]A. Well, to be honest, Korea is not alone. We operate in Europe and Europe has, for many years, taken a very green view of how to operate and our lenders which is the German state bank KfW IPEX-Bank and obviously the Austrian government export credit bank OeKB, they have required this project be designed to what's called 'Equator Principles.' Equator principles are international standards that are far superior to current international standards for social and environmental activity and so we all generate no waste on surface. We'll generate no tailings on surface. Everything is essentially to be as little as low impact as possible and in fact our long-term goal because currently the energy from the platform to the mines is nuclear. It's from the local nuclear power station. There is no reason why we will not become carbon neutral. Ultimately all the equipment underground will be electric so in this day and age you have to learn to operate in an environmentally sensible and responsible way.Q. Can you walk us through what Almonty is ensuring with the workers so that they can ultimately be safe, happy and obviously well compensated?[Lewis]A. So in all of our projects we have an intrinsic link with the community. After all the community ultimately operates the mine and so we've always had a very long-standing relationship whether it be from sports centers to working with education, whether we're working on scholarships. Every community has different needs and we have to work with it.Q. Production, manufacturing industries have been hit hard by COVID-19 and of course mining operations must also have been experiencing disruptions and shutdowns so how is your company coping with the situation?[Lewis]A. The mines are relatively in rural areas so they're not in high density area so we have our isolation which has certainly served us well at this time. Our biggest issue has been actually shipping. Shipping has been significantly hit so our production has remained consistent and at normal levels but shipping times have increased by almost threefold so that's been more problematic for our customers but there's nothing we can do about this.Q. For U.S. citizens in the U.S., how do they view this project for America?[Senator]A. I think that the relationship that we have is in a good place. The development of this strategic material and make no mistake about, tungsten is a rare earth and it has become known now as critical throughout the world so this is our mutual interest. It is economically advantageous for the entire world to have a supply of critical materials that is not going to be used in a way to hurt other nations but rather to give other nations greater opportunity. So I see this mind as a critical element in strengthening that bond.  


[Webinar] Fireside Chat with Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, President, International of The New York Times …

   September 3, 2020 - The American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) hosted a virtual fireside chat on September 3 with Stephan Dunbar-Johnon, President, International of The New York Times Company.  This fireside chat discussed The New York Time's relocation to Seoul, its business strategy for Asia and the dynamics shaping the global media landscape.   About the SpeakerStephen Dunbar-Johnson, President, International of The New York Times CompanyStephen Dunbar-Johnson is the president, International of The New York Times Company. Dunbar-Johnson is responsible for the oversight and strategic development of the Times Company’s international businesses. Dunbar-Johnson was appointed president, International for The New York Times Company in October 2013 to lead the global expansion of the company.Prior to The Times, Dunbar-Johnson was publisher of the International Herald Tribune (I.H.T.), a position he assumed in January 2008. Before joining the I.H.T. in 1998, he held various business development roles in the United Kingdom, France and the United States over 12 years at The Financial Times. He was educated at Worth School and Kent University in the U.K. and has completed an executive management program at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania and the Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program at the Columbia School of Journalism. Miss a Webinar?Please refer to the following link to find out more about AMCHAM webinar:https://youtu.be/PrxVWui8Auk