Korea Inc. offers $57.5 billion for U.S. economy

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Korea Inc. offers $57.5 billion for U.S. economy

During President Trump’s visit to Korea, dozens of companies pledged to pump up to $57.5 billion into the U.S. economy through 2021 to lower the country’s trade deficit with Korea, a local business lobbying group said Wednesday.

In a survey conducted by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry, 42 of its members said they plan to set aside $17.3 billion for investment in the United States and 24 of them plan to purchase goods and services, including energy products from the United States, worth $22.8 billion over the next five years. The two categories of companies may overlap.

Samsung said it would spend $380 million to build a consumer electronics factory in South Carolina and $1.5 billion on a semiconductor plant in Austin, Texas, by 2020.

Hyundai Motor Group recently unveiled plans to invest $3.1 billion in the United States over the next five years.

“If the large-scale investment and purchasing plans from major corporations in Korea are carried out as planned, the issue of the U.S. goods deficit with Korea will be improved,” Lee Dong-geun, vice chairman of the chamber of commerce, said in a meeting at the Lotte Hotel in central Seoul.

“The United States and Korea are economic partners that have written the history of mutual prosperity based on a security alliance,” Lee continued. “Despite global trade retracting 12 percent in the past five years, Korea-U.S. trade grew a whopping 12 percent.”

The chamber of commerce hosted a meeting between 10 executives from major Korean businesses and U.S. government officials who were in Seoul as part of Trump’s delegation.

The companies included the country’s four biggest conglomerates - Samsung, Hyundai Motor, SK and LG - and U.S. government officials included Dina Powell, deputy national security adviser; Matthew Pottinger, a senior aide in Asian affairs in the National Security Council; Everett Eissenstat, chief international trade counsel; and Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.

The participating Korean companies used the meeting as a chance to inquire about the investment environment in the United States, shared their difficulties about doing business there and made proposals on how the United States can be a more foreign investor-friendly destination.

The American delegation said it planned to offer more opportunities to foreign investors in view of their potential contribution to economic growth in the United States.

They also noted that Trump prioritizes investment that offers “free, fair and reciprocal market access and trade opportunity creation.”

BY SEO JI-EUN [seo.jieun@joongang.co.kr]
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