For Korea–U.S. relations to strengthen further, more professional visas should be granted to Korean students graduating from American universities, Ghee-whan Kim, the minister for economic affairs at the Korean embassy in Washington, said in Atlanta Sept. 4.
He added that in terms of a percentage of population, Korea has the leading number of students studying in the U.S., although China and India have more in absolute numbers. Yet once they graduate including those with doctorates, they can’t stay unless they immediately are hired by a local company.
To further the success of their free trade agreement, he said that U.S. and Korea officials are seeking ways to create partnerships focused on innovation, particularly in the STEM disciplines composed of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
“Partnerships are a good bridge and innovations depend on human resources, especially in technical fields,” he said.
He singled out opportunities for collaboration in the future of the aerospace, robotics and advanced materials industries. He also pointed specifically to the development of 3D printers and discoveries in the life science and environmental fields.
Mr. Kim was on a panel at the Korea Southeast U.S. Chamber of Commerce summit on the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement held at the headquarters of United Parcel Service Inc.
Also on the panel were Bryant P. Trick, deputy assistant, U.S. Trade Representative; Scott McMurray, director, international investment, Georgia Department of Economic Development and Hollie Pegg, assistant director, Alabama Department of Commerce.
June Towery, a partner with the law firm Nelson Mullins Riley & Scarborough LLP and a former president of the chamber, moderated the panel discussion.
Mr. Kim along with the federal and local officials praised the positive impact of the agreement and came laden with numbers showing the increase in trade.
Since the agreement went into effect two years ago, Korea has risen from the seventh to the sixth largest U.S. trading partner.
The general case for free trade agreements including the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership is to make the U.S. a manufacturing and service platform for its trading partners, Mr. Trick said.
His analysis was in response to a question that was posed by a skeptic of free trade agreements in the face of “Buy American” and “Bring Back Manufacturing” initiatives.
It also followed a discussion of the nature of automobile companies now that vehicles such as those produced by Hyundai Motor Co. in Montgomery, Ala., and Kia Motors Corp. in West Point, Ga., contain many components from Korean suppliers.
The panels agreed that trade generally shouldn’t be viewed any longer as merely shipping goods from one country to another. Instead, trade, they said, leads to cross-investment, job creation and economic development at a local level.
Among the attendees were Korean city officials from the University of Georgia‘s Carl Vinson Institute of Government Korea program including: Director General Jun-seung Lee, Director Jin-seog Park, Director Yeong-tae Cho, all from the Busan Metropolitan Government.
Among representatives from the Seoul Metropolitan Government were Director Seon-seop Kang and Deputy Director Hyeon-joo Kim.
Also attending were Deputy Director Jin-min Kim from the Ministry of Security of Public Administration and Dr. Tae-sik Yun, program coordinator of the Korea program.
Included among the resources that they cited were www.tradeKorea.com, the site of the Korea International Trade Association; the Korean embassy’s website, www.USKoreaConnect.org; the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s site, www.ustr.gov; the economic development sites of Georgia, www.georgia.org and Alabama, www.alabama.gov.
To learn more about the Korea Southeast U.S. Chamber of Commerce, go to www.Koreaseuschamber.org
For a Gobal Atlanta article on the presence of Korean students in Atlanta, click here.