[Contribution] US, Korea joining hands to return to normal beyond pandemic
[Contribution] US, Korea joining hands to return to normal beyond pandemicThis is a very important
moment when our two countries are facing common challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact our daily lives as
well as the global economy. Companies are faced with the immediate need to not
only digitize their operations but also rebuild secure supply chains and
diversify. There are also rising geopolitical challenges in the Indo-Pacific
region that need to be addressed.
These various challenges have
also brought the U.S. and Korea closer together. Our two nations have never
been so aligned on visions and values; such as commitments to a rules-based
international order, economic and social justice, and environmental
sustainability. It is now time for us to join forces to pursue the same goals.
As the two presidents hold their first summit tomorrow, I would like to suggest
three items from the perspective of the business community that should be
driving their agenda.
The COVID-19 pandemicAt the outbreak of the
COVID-19 pandemic, Korea was dubbed a global "success case" due to
the government's proactive, thorough, and transparent containment efforts.
Especially with the strategy of the three "Ts" ― testing, tracking
and treatment ― Korea's methods were labeled a template for how countries
should respond as the virus spread around the globe.
It is important for us to now
continue this momentum into a full economic recovery. While Korea has taken
significant strides, the hardest hit industries such as travel and tourism
continue to suffer, and it is important for the Moon government to collaborate
with the new Biden administration to take a different approach to getting back
More specifically, widespread
vaccination against COVID-19 will be key not only for Korea's public health but
also in restoring trade, travel and business activities that are crucial for
The U.S. and Korea need to work together on mutual vaccine
recognition so that those who received their vaccinations in the U.S. can be
exempt from the 14-day quarantine when returning to Korea. This will provide a
critical boost to Korea's travel and tourism industries while enabling a
resumption of business travel that is important for continued foreign
investment into Korea. It may also accelerate the rate at which the population
becomes vaccinated. The faster all of us get vaccinated, the faster we can
return to normal, both in our daily lives and in business.
Supply chain and economic
The COVID-19 pandemic has also
illuminated the need for economic diversity and robust supply chains. At the
start of the pandemic, companies that heavily relied on one partner for the
smooth flow of their supply chains faced delays and other difficulties. All
companies were forced to reevaluate the state of their supply chains and pursue
diversification to return operations to normal.
We believe Korea can play a
key role as a leading destination for investment by companies who are seeking
to diversify. The Korean government has become more accessible to the business
community, especially multinational companies, in identifying barriers to
business and proposing solutions. AMCHAM is assisting in optimizing Korea's
business, tax and regulatory environment to this end. The summit can be a
meaningful moment to convey that bilateral investment is a key pillar of our
economic partnership that helps to ensure the prosperity and security of both
The ongoing semiconductor
shortage is a case in point. Never before has any single product had such
importance to the economic stability and security of a nation.
In a recent meeting that President Biden held on improving the
manufacturing capability of semiconductors in the U.S, Samsung was the only
Korean company invited to attend. This meeting reflects not only the urgency of
the semiconductor issue, but also Samsung's vital role as an investor in and
strategic partner for the U.S. It is critically important to both countries
that the top leadership at Samsung be an active participant in investment
decisions in the U.S. going forward.
Environmental, Social and
Both President Biden and
President Moon have made environmental sustainability and economic justice the
centerpieces of their agendas. U.S. companies are leading the way on issues
such as environmental sustainability, diversity in corporate leadership and
social responsibility. Many of these companies have implemented ESG initiatives
and programs into their Korea vision, and Korean companies have also begun to
build upon this trend.
ESG is not just the smart
thing to do, but the right thing to do, and a partnership between the U.S. and
Korea in this realm is critical. Public-private dialogue that would allow the
countries to share and adopt best practices is the logical next step. AMCHAM is
also ready to play a central role through our newly launched ESG Committee, led
by CEOs of major multinational companies in Korea.
We recently held our very first U.S.-Korea ESG Forum, which
discussed ESG and best practices from a global perspective. ESG can be a
powerful new potential partnership between our two countries.
This summit is a testament to
the rock-solid alliance between the U.S. and Korea. It is a great opportunity
for the two countries to reinforce their shared values and goals, and engage in
meaningful, productive dialogue. AMCHAM will continue to support the new
relationship between President Biden and President Moon, and do our best to
create a mutually beneficial economic partnership based on fair and free trade
The U.S.-Korea partnership
holds great value not only in terms of security and diplomacy but also for the
economies of both countries. As the eyes and ears of American business in
Korea, AMCHAM will continue to convey the value of the economic partnership
while promoting bilateral investment that leads to job creation and economic
The author is the chairman and CEO of