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2017-11-07 17:33
By James Kim



Dear President Trump,

Welcome to South Korea! It is an honor to have you visit us as you close out your first year in office. Over the past year, both Korean and American companies in Korea have been adjusting to not only the new policies of President Moon Jae-in’s administration but also the evolving relationship with the U.S. While there are many moving parts, one thing is clear: maintaining the robust alliance between the U.S. and Korea is of utmost importance to all of us, especially Americans living and doing business in Korea.

When Vice President Michael Pence visited us in the spring, he reaffirmed the United States’ commitment to the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula and assured the people of South Korea of our unbreakable bond. He also made clear the importance of addressing the bilateral trade imbalance and taking the necessary steps to pursue a truly mutually beneficial partnership.

AMCHAM has been working around the clock to achieve this goal. Representing more than 700 companies, AMCHAM serves as the largest foreign chamber here in Korea. Our iconic American member companies represent the “very best” in each industry via innovation, performance and quality. It is our top priority to ensure that American companies are able to continue to compete on a level playing field and prosper in Korea. We are exerting maximum efforts to facilitate a clear and constructive roadmap that allows American companies to gain market share in Korea.

In May of this year, we made our annual visit to Washington D.C. called “Doorknock” to meet with key members of your administration, Congress, the USTR and think-tanks, in order to discuss some factual confirmation of the benefits of the U.S. –Korea economic alliance. For the first time, we were accompanied by Hyundai Motors who has committed to continued investments in the United States which translates into American jobs. We delivered the message that we are taking the necessary steps to effectively execute the goals of the Korea–U.S. Free Trade Agreement. We have always valued the KORUS FTA as “the” platform to resolve the various issues under discussion.

It has been just over five years since the KORUS FTA came into effect. The benefits of the agreement are well-known: our two-way trade in goods and services has grown by almost $20 billion. The United States’ service exports alone have risen by almost 30 percent to a record high of $21.6 billion. South Korea has become one of the biggest sources of foreign direct investment in the U.S., with plans to increase investment well into the future. That said, we are also mindful that the trade deficit needs to be re-balanced and the existing agreement under KORUS FTA must be implemented. We remain supportive of the ongoing collaborative efforts to target the trade imbalance and remain hopeful that we will be able to reach a mutually beneficial solution. We are always ready to assist in any way we can, especially given our “on the ground” experience here in Korea.

Our efforts should encourage investment and job creation in the U.S. but also facilitate a smooth transition for American companies entering the Korean business community. Through our industry-specific seminars, American firms are able to maximize business opportunities. For instance, at our recently held U.S. – Korea Energy Cooperation Seminar, Houston-based NextDecade (NASDAQ: NEXT) was able to explore business opportunities with Korean firms to expand the benefits of the U.S. shale revolution which will ultimately help reduce the current trade deficit.

Given our first-hand experience representing American companies operating here in Korea, AMCHAM is one of America’s strongest advocates. We actively promote American business opportunities by maintaining a constructive dialogue with the Korean government and engaging the different ministries to communicate the voice of the American business community in Korea. Your visit to South Korea is also evidence of the strength of the U.S.–Korea alliance and as the “go-to” organization for American companies, we are committed to helping continue this meaningful partnership. I hope that our collaborative efforts will continue to flourish into the future and your visit to Asia and especially Korea prove to be productive and helpful. You can always count on us!

Warm regards,


James Kim is chairman and CEO of American Chamber of Commerce in Korea


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