October 11, 2019


WASHINGTON, D.C.— The U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Korea Business Council and the Korea-U.S. Business Council concluded their 31st annual plenary meeting today, issuing a joint statement with six recommendations that would strengthen U.S.-Korea commercial ties and, in turn, the overall U.S.-Korea relationship.

The meeting assembled senior business leaders from the United States and Korea to discuss global trade trends, the impact of two-way trade and investment on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), and the next-generation of U.S.-Korea commercial collaboration.

“At a time of increased geopolitical uncertainty in Asia, any fractures in the U.S.-Korea alliance—whether economic or political—will undermine the ability of our two governments to cooperate on a host of issues. The U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) has played a critical role in supporting the U.S.-Korea alliance, and we encourage the two governments to avoid actions that would undermine its effectiveness,” the Councils wrote.

In addition, the Councils discussed sectoral challenges and opportunities related to digital technologies, the Fourth Industrial Revolution, and healthcare.

“KORUS is the foundation of our commercial relationship with Korea, but we’re also looking at innovative ways to build upon its success. We see emerging opportunities around 5G and AI—and more broadly the technologies that will support Korea’s Fourth Industrial Revolution—that are ripe for continued cooperation between our two economies,” said Esperanza Jelalian, Executive Director of the U.S.-Korea Business Council. “Today’s meeting showed us that while there remains room for improvement in our existing trade relationship, we must also be looking towards the future.”

To drive growth in both the U.S. and Korea, the Councils recommend that the U.S. and Korean governments:

  1. Continue to remove bilateral trade irritants.
  2. Pursue efforts that strengthen and promote the rules-based global trading system.
  3. Take steps to improve the business environment for both SMEs and multinationals.
  4. Aim to harmonize regulatory frameworks for cross-cutting and emerging industries.
  5. Leverage the private sectors’ experience and expertise to improve health outcomes and promote bilateral cooperation in biotech innovation.
  6. Identify areas where the U.S. government’s Indo-Pacific Strategy and Korea’s New Southern Policy align.

The joint statement is available online here.