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U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker Addresses the American Chamber of Commerce in South Korea

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Secretary Pritzker Led First Trade Mission to Asia; Fifth Trip to Asia Since Becoming Secretary 

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker today concluded her last stop of the Trade and Business Development Mission in Seoul, South Korea. During the Japan and South Korea mission, Secretary Pritzker focused on reinforcing trade agreements that reflect U.S. values, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS), that will help U.S. firms gain greater access to both the Japan and South Korea markets. This is Secretary Pritzker’s fifth trip to Asia and her first trade mission to Asia since becoming Secretary last year. The trip served to promote U.S. exports to Japan and South Korea by helping American companies launch or increase their business in these key markets. 

The business delegation included Abbott, AmerisourceBergen, Beautiful Earth Group, C3 Energy, Cargill, Cytori Therapeutics, Inc., The Dow Chemical Company, Eli Lilly and Company, HPI, LLC, Humacyte, Inc., Intuitive Surgical, Inc., Marmon Engineered Wire and Cable, Medidata Solutions, Merck & Co., Inc., Oregon LNG, Principle Power Inc., Quality Electrodynamics, Spacelabs Healthcare, Varian Medical Systems, and Zilkha Biomass Fuels. The mission focused on expanding opportunities for U.S. businesses in the healthcare and energy sectors. It also looked for ways to help the region develop and manage energy resources and systems, and build out power generation, transmission, and distribution. As the voice of business in the Administration, the U.S. Department of Commerce plays a pivotal role in expanding market access for U.S. companies in countries around the world. Secretary Pritzker and American businesses met with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, South Korean President Park Geun-hye, and other Japanese and Korean officials. The group also met with Japanese and South Korean business leaders in the medical device, biotechnology, regenerative medicine, energy, and health IT sectors to explore opportunities for partnership and investment. 

Remarks As Prepared for Delivery

Thank you to James Kim, Amy Jackson, and all of the leaders and members of AmCham Korea for hosting us today and for advocating on behalf of the interests of U.S. businesses in Korea each and every day. 

I want to recognize Chairman Han and the Korea International Trade Association for working alongside AmCham to promote more open markets across this country and a closer trade relationship between Korea and the United States. 

I also want to take a moment to thank our outstanding Ambassador, Sung Kim. As Ambassador Kim prepares to leave this post, I know he leaves behind a legacy of stronger ties and stronger friendships between the peoples, businesses, and governments of the United States and Korea. 

Last week, I had dinner with your next ambassador, Mark Lippert. And I can say with confidence that you have another star coming to the U.S. Embassy here in Seoul very soon. 

We come together today to reaffirm a simple truth: the bonds between the United States and Korea are strong and thriving – strengthened by decades of defense, diplomatic, and economic cooperation; sustained by our common interests and shared values. 

More than 60 years after the end of the Korean War – when American and Korean soldiers fought and died side-by-side for the security of this country – our ties have only grown. 

In April, President Obama made his fourth visit to Seoul – the most of any Asian nation during his presidency. Today in Washington, D.C., Secretaries Hagel and Kerry are hosting their Korean counterparts to explore areas for even deeper cooperation on global challenges like ISIL, Ebola, international development, and climate change. 

And this week here in South Korea, I am proud to lead a trade mission of top American companies committed to bringing their expertise to Korea’s health care and energy markets. 

The 20 businesses represented on our mission are leaders and innovators in both sectors. They share a desire to do more business in Korea; to develop new and deeper ties here; and to make investments in this market for the long-term. 

These business leaders see an energy sector in need of more diversification, more renewables, and more energy efficiency. And they want to be in the business of helping Korea solidify its energy infrastructure, expand its use of wind and solar, and embrace new technologies in its energy future. 

These business leaders see a Korean leadership targeting health care as a sector for growth – and they see that American expertise is needed in encouraging greater innovation in medications and medical devices and throughout the health care market. 

Our commitment to deeper ties with Korea should come as no surprise. This commitment reflects a broader focus of the Obama Administration’s global leadership – our re-balance to the Asia-Pacific. 

Let me be perfectly clear: the United States is – and always will be – a Pacific nation. 

Early on, President Obama made a deliberate and strategic choice to deepen American engagement in the Asia-Pacific – the world’s fastest-growing region.  And no matter what crisis emerges next, whether in Asia, the Middle East, Europe, or elsewhere, our commitment to this region will remain a centerpiece of this Administration’s foreign policy. 

As America’s chief commercial advocate, my emphasis is on the economic dimension of the re-balance.  At the center of this dimension is the drive to deepen trade and investment ties with existing partners, especially South Korea. 

Just over two years ago, we advanced this key cornerstone of our strategy with the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement. Yesterday, I had a great conversation with President Park about KORUS. We agreed that there is a positive story about this agreement – and that we need to do a better job of telling it. 

We need to improve the narrative. That means communicating the success stories so that other companies will be inspired to take advantage of KORUS’ benefits. 

Although we have yet to see the full impact of this agreement, KORUS has already delivered tangible results for American and Korean consumers and businesses.

  • Goods and services exports going in both directions are up.
  • Korean exports in the industrial and agricultural sectors are on the rise.
  • Korean services exports to the U.S. have increased more than 10 percent, and American services exports to Korea have risen 25 percent.
  • KORUS has helped Korea attract more foreign direct investment, with American investment up more than 24 percent.
  • And Korea is now the 7th fastest-growing investor into the United States. 

We know that we have only scratched the surface of the potential benefits of KORUS. And while we acknowledge key challenges in the implementation of the agreement, we know that the Korean government has worked hard, and effectively, to address ongoing issues. 

Moving forward, further challenges are sure to arise, and we need to address KORUS implementation issues more quickly and more efficiently in the future. 

KORUS is a cornerstone of our bilateral relationship today. But the United States is eager to further deepen our partnership and economic cooperation with South Korea. 

Looking at the Korean landscape today, there is a clear area of common ground for our two countries and economies: our shared leadership in innovation and entrepreneurship. 

Both countries see entrepreneurship as part of our economic DNA. Both nations are led by presidents who recognize the importance of giving young entrepreneurs every opportunity to pursue their dreams. 

Both have seen economic growth driven by innovation – and strive to see the next generation of entrepreneurs starting the next wave of great businesses in our own backyards. 

President Park sees this moment as an opportunity for the people and businesses and economy of her country. That is why she has made investment in the “creative economy” a national commitment – promising, in her inaugural address, to create the “second miracle on the Han” through investments in innovation. 

The United States wants to work with Korea to embrace this moment and advance this focus on entrepreneurship. As President Obama’s point-person on entrepreneurship, I am proud to lead the Presidential Ambassadors for Global Entrepreneurship – or PAGE. 

This program brings leading American entrepreneurs to the table to offer their mentorship and guidance to young entrepreneurs in the United States and around the globe. 

I know that PAGE can be an invaluable resource for up-and-coming entrepreneurs. And I am committed to bringing the best of America’s experience in entrepreneurship to the next generation of Korean innovators and their counterparts across the globe. 

With our shared focus on entrepreneurship and innovation, with our shared commitment to working together to build a future of economic growth, there can be no doubt: the United States and South Korea are leaders in the global economy. 

Our bilateral economic and commercial partnership is essential to promoting prosperity in each of our countries, in the Asia-Pacific, and around the world. 

Our relationship is critical to the task of building a brighter future for our workers, our business leaders, and our communities. 

Our long, enduring, growing ties are central to the task of keeping the United States and Korea open for business – especially open for business with one another. 

Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today. I look forward to spending some time answering your questions this afternoon.