By Kim Hyun-bin
James Kim, chairman and CEO of the American Chamber of Commerce (AMCHAM) in Korea, said more chemistry is expected between the Korean government and the newly inaugurated U.S. President Joe Biden administration.
"There seems to be more chemistry between President Joe Biden and President Moon as it relates to the Green New Deal so I think that will be very positive," Kim said during a phone Interview with The Korea Times, Friday. "The Digital New Deal as well is something President Biden talked a lot about."
|AMCHAM Chairman James Kim|
Both Biden and President Moon Jae-in believes the Green New Deal is a crucial framework to tackle the challenges of climate change.
On July 14, 2020, President Moon Jae-in formally announced the Green New Deal which aims to speed up Korea's transition to an eco-friendly, low-carbon-emission economy. The government is aiming to attract 73.4 trillion won in private investment into the deal, covering around 46 percent of the total 160 trillion won that is planned to be spent on the initiative by 2025, and expects to create 655,000 jobs.
"President Biden talked a lot about strengthening the alliance between South Korea and the U.S. I think the defense minister appointee talked about how he wants to quickly take care of negotiations on the cost sharing," he said.
The chairman said that although AMCHAM was a nonpolitical organization, it has worked closely with both democratic and republican presidents and its previous encounter with many of the Biden administration officials could better relay the voices of the U.S. companies that are based here.
"We have a lot of relationships with the Biden administration including when he first visited Korea when he was a vice president and we hosted an event for him," Kim said. "We also have close ties with many of the people in the Biden administration including Kurt Campbell. Sung Kim, the acting assistant secretary, would be very helpful for all of us and we look forward to working very closely with him."
Former U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim has been named acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs
Kim believes 2021 could be a "real banner year" with vaccines implemented and the stock market hitting records even after the election of President Joe Biden, which can be seen as a positive outlook for the year.
Korea, leading player in Asia
Kim, who previously worked as a country manager for Microsoft Korea and GM Korea president and chief executive officer, believes Korea has become a key regional player with many top name companies moving to the country to establish their Asian hub from previous strongholds such as Hong Kong and mainland China.
The chairman said The New York Times is moving a big part of its operation from Hong Kong to Korea as it understands the advanced "digital infrastructure," and Almonty Industries is heavily investing to build the world's second largest tungsten company here.
AMCHAM has conducted an assessment on the difference between Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan with Seoul leading in many key categories.
"When they look at it, Korea is very impressive on many fronts. Let me talk about where Korea leads. In ICT adoption, Korea is number one when compared to these other countries, and macroeconomic stability is another one," Kim said. "I think the consumer sophistication makes it such a wonderful test-bed for companies to set up shop here. Also R&D capability, which is why a lot of companies come here because they want to partner up with global companies such as Samsung, Hyundai and POSCO, the OGs of the world. I know that the ease of doing business in Korea is rated pretty high."
Last year was a historic one for AMCHAM with more members joining as well as the digital transformation efforts which even further strengthened the organization allowing it to get a bigger audience and pool of speakers to help member companies.
"I'm in constant contact with our board of governors. We have 34 board governors representing all the major industries and major U.S. companies and if you take away travel and tourism companies we have done really well in 2020," he said.
AMCHAM, founded in 1953, is the largest foreign chamber in Korea with around 800 member companies. The organization is dedicated to developing and expanding investment and trade between Korea and the United States.