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Us-Korea Relationship

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Thank you, Mr. Jung Kyu-jae for the kind introduction. President Kim Ki-woong, Dr. Kim Joo-hyun-- It is a pleasure to speak to such a distinguished audience of journalists, intellectuals, and entrepreneurs.
I was invited here this morning to speak about the future of U.S.–Korea cooperation. Of course, our bilateral relationship does not take place in a vacuum. We are members of the rising Asia-Pacific community. Economically, Asia itself already accounts for more than one-quarter of global GDP. Over the next five years, nearly half of all growth outside the United States is expected to come from Asia. This growth is fueling powerful geopolitical forces: China’s ascent, Japan’s resilience, an eastward-looking India, Southeast Asian nations more interconnected and prosperous than ever before, and of course the rise of a “Global Korea.”
President Obama has made U.S. engagement in the Asia-Pacific region a priority. We have already begun a strategic rebalance of diplomatic, economic, and security investments in Asia. And America’s 60-year alliance with Korea is a lynchpin of that strategic rebalance.
60 years.
60 years of peace and stability.
60 years of hard work and economic growth.
60 years of partnership and shared prosperity.
This year marks the 60th anniversary of the U.S. – Korea Mutual Defense Treaty, the armistice, and the formation of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea. As we celebrate 60 years of partnership and shared prosperity, we are also upgrading important aspects of our partnership – what I call the four pillars.
Security
The first pillar of our partnership is clearly our shared commitment to security on the peninsula, as evidenced by the more than 28,500 men and women of the U.S. armed forces in Korea.
Recent threats and provocations from the DPRK underscore the importance of our security alliance. The DPRK’s third nuclear test is only the latest in a series of highly dangerous acts that undermine regional stability and violate North Korea’s obligations under multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.
We will continue to coordinate closely with Seoul and our other allies to enforce the latest sanctions imposed by the Security Council. North Korea must be made to understand that its provocations are counter-productive and will only lead to increased isolation. We remain committed to full denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
To counter the threat posed by North Korea, we continue to work together to improve the interoperable capabilities of the combined forces. There are two major defense procurement competitions approaching completion that will greatly enhance Korea’s military capabilities. Soon, decisions will be made on adding new heavy attack helicopters and advanced fighter aircraft to the ROK military, adding powerful deterrent capabilities for our combined defense. It is my hope that the Korean Government will select from among the interoperable and highly capable U.S. platforms being offered.
Global Partnership
The second pillar of our bilateral relationship is a growing global partnership that goes beyond the peninsula. I believe this is one of the most interesting and exciting aspects of our bilateral relationship, and a great example of where our alliance is headed in the 21st century.
Sixty years ago, the United States provided development assistance to Korea… but today, within the guidelines of our 2011 Development Cooperation Agreement, we are partners in providing development assistance in places like Africa and Southeast Asia. Together, we also fight terrorism in Afghanistan, maintain peace in places like Haiti and Lebanon, and counter piracy off the coast of Somalia. We have a truly global partnership.
We also look to Korea as a partner and a leader on many other issues, including promoting cyber security and countering human trafficking. We work closely with Korea to invest in research and development of technologies that combat climate change and provide energy security.
No part of the world will have a greater impact on the 21st century than the Asia-Pacific region. Korea’s leadership in regional organizations like Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and the East Asia Summit (EAS) will play a pivotal role in designing our shared tomorrow.
People-to-People Ties
I have spoken about our security and global partnerships, but the core of our friendship is the inseparable bond between the peoples of our two countries. Our growing people-to-people ties form the third pillar of our partnership.
At our Embassy in Seoul, we are working hard to expand these ties. Through the International Visitor Leadership Program (now in its 73rd year), more than 1,200 future Korean leaders have visited the United States. The list of IVLP alumni includes two former presidents, seven former Prime Ministers and numerous other political leaders. Through the Fulbright program, over 1,100 American college graduates (since 1992) have spent a year or more as teachers throughout Korea. They are great teachers of English language but more importantly they build lasting bonds with their students, parents and local communities.
Governments alone cannot shape our ties. Indeed, the future of our partnership depends upon the Americans -- soldiers, businessmen, students who live in communities throughout Korea; Korean students attending U.S. universities; Koreans who visit the United States every year; and Koreans and Korean-Americans living and working in the United States. They will ensure that interaction and cooperation among our peoples will continue to grow over the next 60 years and beyond.
Economic Relationship
The fourth and final pillar is our ever-expanding economic and trade partnership. Trade accounts for 90 percent of Korea’s economy. The United States is Korea’s 3rd largest national trading partner and 2nd largest export market. This year not only marks the 60th anniversary of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, but also the first anniversary of the KORUS FTA going into effect.
KORUS Successes
Despite a global downturn last year, total bilateral trade under KORUS increased to nearly 130 billion dollars. Korean consumers are seeing lower prices and more choices on a variety of American products, such as cars, wine, seafood, and nuts. Likewise, Korean companies are exporting more autos, consumer electronics, and household appliances to the United States than ever before.
One of my favorite examples of “win-win” trade is the auto sector. Hyundai and Kia are major players in the American market, and their Korean parts suppliers are dominated by small- and medium-sized enterprises. With over 30,000 parts in one vehicle, that’s a lot of economic activity. I am also pleased to see that exports of U.S. passenger cars to Korea increased by 48 percent in 2012, an important sign that the agreement is helping U.S. auto companies gain a firmer footing in the Korean market.
Bilateral investments are also on the rise, creating jobs in both countries. ADT, an American security company, employs almost 4,000 Koreans. General Motors already employs 17,000 people in Korea and recently announced plans to significantly expand its investment. The reverse is also true, with Korean investments in U.S. manufacturing providing jobs for tens of thousands of Americans.
I am very proud that our companies are not only creating jobs but are promoting a strong workplace safety culture and diversity in the workforce by hiring huge numbers of well-qualified Korean women. Our businesses also bring a culture of innovation and state-of-the-art American technology.
KORUS Implementation
KORUS has the potential to be a benchmark for high-standard, comprehensive trade agreements. Over the next several years, tariffs on a variety of goods and services are scheduled to decrease. I know that Korean regulatory agencies are working hard to adjust to Korea’s obligations under the agreement. Along the way, we will continue to work closely with our counterparts in the Korean government to facilitate full implementation of the KORUS commitments, and to ensure that new laws or regulations under consideration are promulgated in a fair, transparent, and predictable manner.
For example, U.S. exports of services to Korea increased 9 percent, totaling 18 billion dollars in 2012. The upcoming phase-in of financial services commitments in the Korea-EU and KORUS FTAs has the potential to further strengthen Korea’s service sector and promote economic growth in Korea. These are exciting opportunities for all of us.
I think it is also exciting that given Korea’s web of free trade agreements, Korea is poised to become a regional and global trading hub in the 21st century.
Conclusion
When you consider what we have accomplished together in these four important areas, it is easy to see why America’s long-standing partnership with Korea is a foundation of our strategic rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. Our 60 year partnership has been truly amazing, and I am confident that our enduring security alliance, increasing global cooperation, strong people-to-people ties, and vibrant economic relationship will help us prosper together for another 60 extraordinary years and beyond. Thank you very much.

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