Obama to meet business leaders

U.S. President Barack Obama will meet Korean business leaders Saturday to seek more investment into the U.S., the American Chamber of Commerce in Korea (AMCHAM) said Thursday.

“President Barack Obama will host a roundtable business event on April 26 to discuss investment opportunities in the U.S. and the KORUS free trade agreement implementation,” the U.S. business lobby in Korea said in a statement.

Right before the breakfast meeting with the U.S. President at the Grand Hyatt Hotel Saturday, American executives from businesses operating in Korea and Korean executives will meet U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and U.S. Deputy National Security Advisor Caroline Atkinson, an AMCHAM spokesman said.

Other attendants at the roundtable are leaders of Korean business associations who have long been advocates of increased trade and investment between the two countries, the statement said.

The free-trade pact between Korea and the U.S. took effect on March 15, 2012. Korea’s vehicle sales in the U.S. increased, helped by lower tariffs, while U.S. car sales remain about the same due to their less-popular designs and features. Meanwhile, cars from Europe pushed up their share of imported vehicles to over 10 percent last year backed by an FTA with the EU that went into effect on July 1, 2011.

Participating association leaders will include Hur Chang-soo, chairman of the Federation of Korean Industries (FKI); Park Yong-maan, chairman of the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry; and Han Duck-soo, chairman and CEO of the Korea International Trade Association. All the associations confirmed they were invited to the meeting.

“Even heads of states are making trips, not only to attract investment but also to sell products as competition among countries gets tougher. For example, former President Lee Myung-bak helped the country win a big project to build nuclear power plant in the United Arab Emirates during his term,” said an official from the FKI.

When contacted by The Korea Times, conglomerates confirmed that Samsung Electronics Vice Chairman Lee Jae-yong, Hyundai Motor Group Vice Chairman Chung Eui-sun, Hankook Tire Vice Chairman and CEO Suh Seung-hwa and Korean Air Chairman and CEO Cho Yang-ho are to meet with Obama.

Samsung runs a semiconductor plant in Texas. Hyundai Motor Group has two vehicle manufacturing plants in Georgia and Alabama. Hankook Tire signed an initial pact in October to build a plant in Tennessee by 2018.

Obama arrived in Japan Wednesday kicking off his weeklong trip through Asia to promote business and political ties, with stops in Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines. He is expected to stay one night in Korea on April 25 and 26, with a summit with President Park Geun-hye scheduled for this afternoon.

Obama is visiting Korea for the fourth time as U.S. leader. This is the first state visit he will make during the Park government that took power in February last year. By Choi Kyong-ae The korea times

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