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Blog Category: Korea CODEL

Secretary Locke and Congressional Delegation Conclude Productive South Korea Meetings

Secretary Locke, Reps Crowley and Reichert Overlook North Korea from the DMZ

Today Secretary Gary Locke and the congressional delegation concluded their three-day trip to Seoul with a visit to the Demilitarized Zone – the border between South and North Korea – and a lunch with U.S troops and their families at Yongsan Garrison to thank them for their service. The group also met with leaders of South Korea’s Democratic Party and Grand National Party at Korea’s National Assembly to discuss the U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS).

“Over the last few days we have had the opportunity to see first-hand the benefits that KORUS will bring to the economies of both the U.S. and Korea,” Locke said. “There is great demand for U.S. products -- from made-in-America cell phone components to life-saving medical equipment. This agreement will increase mutually beneficial trade, strengthen our economies and create jobs in both of our countries.”

Locke also visited Seoul National University Hospital for a demonstration of Varian Medical Systems’ (Palo Alto, Calif.) advanced radiotherapy technology.  Varian is the world leader in this life-saving, cancer treatment technology with approximately $34 million worth of annual sales to South Korea.  Their equipment is manufactured in California and Utah and exported globally. Under the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement, the tariff on Varian’s products would be eliminated, making the company more competitive in the Korean market. 

Varian Medical Systems Could Save More Lives and Compete More Efficiently Under U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement

Secretary Locke, Reps. McDermott and Reichert Listen to an Explanation of How the Varian Linear Accelerator Works

Guest blog post by Timothy E. Guertin, President and CEO of Varian Medical Systems of Palo Alto, CA.

Editor’s Note:  Varian Medical Systems focuses energy on saving lives. By partnering with customers and others, the people of Varian develop leading solutions for improving cancer treatment, X-ray imaging, and security.

Varian Medical Systems is honored that Secretary Locke and an esteemed Congressional delegation devoted time to seeing our systems treating cancer patients at Seoul National University Hospital (SNUH), while on a trade mission to the Republic of Korea.  SNUH, a longtime partner of Varian, provides some of the most leading edge cancer treatments available to those stricken with this terrible disease.  The Varian linear accelerators that perform radiotherapy treatments at SNUH were manufactured in California and then installed and serviced by a team of technicians in Seoul, providing jobs on both sides of the Pacific.

While visiting the radiation oncology department at SNUH, Secretary Locke was able to see firsthand the easy and painless process a cancer patient goes through when being treated with radiotherapy.  Radiotherapy is a non-invasive technique that targets tumors with high-energy photon beams that stop cancer cells from reproducing.   Treatments on Varian linear accelerators are tailored for each patient, focusing on breast, prostate, brain, lung and other types of cancers.    In the next several months, SNUH will be acquiring the new Varian TrueBeam system that will enable clinicians in Seoul to treat more complex cases, while at the same time reducing treatment times for patients.

Trading with South Korea

Congressman Jim McDermott with Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, South Korea – April 26, 2011

Guest blog post from Congressman Jim McDermott, who is the Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Trade, and represents the city of Seattle, WA in the U.S. House of Representatives. He wrote this post while on the CODEL trip to Korea with Secretary Locke.

The U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement is something that is good for both countries.  For South Korea, this is an opportunity to solidify their position as a world economic power by establishing a relationship with the United States. They are in a situation where they are surrounded by China, North Korea and Japan. They are a group of 50 million people who since the Korean War have gone from absolute devastation to a solid economic performer – a country that can deal with the United States on an equal basis.

When we began trading with an impoverished South Korea, we opened our doors and lowered our tariffs to the point where they paid almost nothing to export to the United States. Simultaneously, we paid enormous tariffs when we exported to South Korea – tariffs that are still in effect.

I’ll give you an example: a bottle of wine that would cost $13 in Seattle would cost $68 here in Seoul because of the tariffs. With the new trade agreement, those tariffs will come down and we will have Washington State wine sold here in Korea. Instead of drinking French, Italian, Spanish and Argentinean wines, they will be drinking Washington wine. That’s just one example of how we stand to benefit from an economic standpoint.

Secretary Locke and Members of Congress Tour Pantech and Meet with U.S. Businesses in Korea

On the second day of the CODEL trip to Korea, Secretary Locke and the congressional delegation visited Pantech, one of the largest mobile phone makers in South Korea, to see firsthand how the U.S.-South Korea Trade Agreement will help American and South Korean businesses and workers in today’s global manufacturing and supply chain. 

Currently, Pantech imports about half a billion dollars worth of U.S. products annually, including chipsets from Qualcomm (San Diego, Calif.) and Gorilla Glass from Corning Inc. (Corning, New York).  Gorilla Glass is manufactured in Harrodsburg, Kentucky and is exported around the world for use in smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices and has applications across a large range of industries.  In addition, nearly 60 percent of Pantech’s production equipment is made by U.S. companies.

With the approval and implementation of the U.S.-South Korea agreement, Pantech is expected to quadruple its purchase of U.S. products by 2015, while Corning will see existing tariffs on Gorilla Glass eliminated immediately upon implementation of the agreement. Corning, utilizing these benefits, will gain market share in South Korea’s growing mobile-device market by enhancing its competitiveness vis-à-vis other manufacturers in the region.  Corning is also investing $180 million to expand its factory in Harrodsburg in order to meet the growing demands of its customers in Asia, including South Korea.  Earlier in the day, Locke met with his South Korean counterpart, the Minister of Knowledge Economy Choi Joong-Kyung, to discuss KORUS and the cooperative relationship between the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Ministry of Knowledge Economy.

AMCHAM Korea Welcomes Secretary Locke to Seoul

Amy Jackson, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, Hosts Secretary Locke During a Luncheon in Seoul, Korea.

Guest blog post by Amy Jackson, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea.

The American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM Korea) was very pleased to welcome Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke and his delegation of four distinguished Members of Congress to Korea this week.  Their visit symbolizes the strong ties that underline the U.S.-Korea bilateral relationship – and also the expectation that the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement (KORUS FTA) will soon be taken up by the legislatures in both countries for a vote.

AMCHAM Korea is the oldest and largest foreign business association in Korea.  We are a fully private organization, and we have around 2,000 individual members coming from about 1,000 companies that span all sectors of the economy – aerospace, automotive, agriculture, consumer products, financial services, healthcare, education, professional services, and many more.   Our member companies are big and small and employee hundreds of thousands of U.S. workers throughout the United States. 

Our key message to Secretary Locke and his delegation was that early ratification of the KORUS FTA is essential for the continued success of U.S. companies in the $1 trillion dollar Korean economy.  Our members emphasized that they compete head-to-head with European companies here, and once the Korea-EU FTA goes into effect on July 1, European companies will have a significant cost advantage over their U.S. competitors.  In addition, companies in the Congressional districts of the Members who accompanied the Secretary noted that they are already looking at changes in their supply chains as a result of the Korea-EU and KORUS FTAs.  If KORUS goes into effect soon, this could mean significant increase in sourcing from U.S. suppliers.

Secretary Locke and Congressional Delegation Met With Korean President Lee to Discuss U.S.-Korea Commercial Relationship

Locke and Lee discussed mutual benefits of U.S.-Korea trade agreement

Today, Secretary Gary Locke and members of Congress met with the President of the Republic of Korea Lee Myung-Bak at the Blue House. Locke, who is leading a bipartisan congressional delegation to build support for the passage of the U.S.-Korea Trade Agreement (KORUS), reinforced the importance of the bilateral commercial relationship as part of the two countries’ historic alliance and emphasized the importance of KORUS in spurring economic growth in both the U.S. and Korea.

“Korea is a vital ally, a strong friend, and an important economic partner,” Commerce Secretary Gary Locke said. “KORUS is a win-win for both the U.S. and Korea. This agreement will strengthen our partnership and take it to the next level, by lowering tariffs and creating a more level playing field for businesses in both countries.”

The congressional delegation consists of four members from the U.S. House of Representatives – Reps. Charles Rangel (D-NY), Jim McDermott (D-WA), Joseph Crowley (D-NY) and David Reichert (R-WA).

Locke and the delegation discussed the benefits of KORUS for both the U.S. and Korea in productive bilateral meetings with Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Kim Sung-Hwan and Trade Minister Kim Jong-Hoon. Earlier in the day, they met with the Board of Governors of the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea, as well as top Korean business executives.  Locke and the delegation also met with a diverse group of Korean university students over afternoon tea where they had an in-depth discussion about the youth perspective on KORUS and how various elements of the agreement will benefit the economic future of both countries.  They talked about Korea’s impressive economic growth and its emerging economic leadership in the region and the world.

Secretary Locke Kicks Off CODEL to Korea

Guest blog post by Secretary of Commerce, Gary Locke.

This week, I’m visiting the Republic of Korea, one of the United States’ closest allies in the world, and one of our most important trading partners.  Last December, President Obama signed a landmark trade deal with Korea that could boost annual exports of American goods to Korea by up to $11 billion, supporting at least 70,000 U.S. jobs.

But the deal still needs to pass Congress, which is why this week, I’m leading four Members of Congress on a fact-finding mission that will demonstrate firsthand how this trade deal will lead directly to more sales of American goods and services abroad and more American jobs here at home.

Korean and U.S. businesses are already collaborating, innovating and trading together like never before.  This week, members of our bipartisan delegation – which includes Representatives Dave Reichert and Jim McDermott from my home state of Washington and Representatives Joseph Crowley and Charles Rangel from New York – are getting to see this up close.

Tomorrow, we visit Pantech, one of Korea’s largest mobile phone makers, and a major buyer of U.S. technology.