This past week, I had the distinct honor of joining the East-West Center in Washington on Capitol Hill for the launch of a new publication, Korea Matters for America/America Matters for Korea, which highlights the vital U.S.-Korea partnership at the national, state and local levels.
Born out of American involvement in the Korean War and the rebuilding efforts that followed, a unique partnership forged between our two countries has enabled Samsung and companies like it to not only persevere, but to thrive.
In my over 20 years at Samsung, I’ve seen this relationship blossom firsthand and as we as a company mark our 40th anniversary in America. Our commitment to investment and growth in the United States is stronger than ever.
In the past 15 years, two-way trade between both countries has increased by 117 percent, and South Korea is now the sixth largest trading partner of the U.S. As the 1st and 11th largest economies in the world, our two nations are more closely tied than they’ve been at any point in South Korea’s history.
Speaking on a panel that included representatives from The Heritage Foundation, the Korea Economic Institute and the Office of the United States Trade Representative, I was given the opportunity to reflect on what the U.S.-South Korea relationship means for Samsung and why it must be maintained.
Since 2016, Samsung has strengthened our roots here by completing the $8 billion acquisition of HARMAN; announcing a brand new, $380 million home appliance manufacturing facility in South Carolina; and announcing a $1 billion expansion of Samsung Austin Semiconductor (SAS) in Austin, Texas. In fact, our investment in Harman was the largest foreign investment ever made by a Korean company. And our total investment of $17 billion into SAS is the largest single-site Federal Direct Investment in United States history.
Celebrating Forty Years in America
But the relationship between our two nations is not just important for Samsung, but for all Americans and Koreans. Trade and investment between us support an estimated 400,000 American jobs (Samsung is responsible for 20,000 of those).
These benefits are only growing. Since the implementation of the Korea-US Free Trade Agreement (KORUS) in 2012, US jobs directly supported by exports to South Korea increased 42 percent. Ninety percent of U.S. congressional districts have increased their exports to Korea since then; and in 2017, 23 U.S. states exported more than $500M to Korea.
These investments are driving our vision of a connected world – a world in which technology is more personal, predictive, and helpful than ever before. But what really stands out is the cultural tie between Korea and America founded on a mutual love of competition, innovation and aspirational thinking.
We are proud of our history of close collaboration with the U.S., humbled by the success we have been able to achieve together and committed to continuing our long track record of shared growth and innovation.