First stop Samsung: Biden promotes cooperation with South Korean chip maker on Asia trip

Pyeongtaek, South Korea, May 20 (Reuters) – It was the first stop of Joe Biden on his inaugural trip to Asia as president of the United States on Friday, a huge electronics company. (005930.KS) Semiconductor factory, emphasizing the message of economic security with a focus on China.

Biden landed at the US air base in Osan, south of Seoul, and immediately drove to the nearby Samsung factory, the world’s largest semiconductor factory. There he greeted South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, a relative newcomer to politics, for the first time in person. Read more

In remarks at the plant, Biden said the future will be written in the Indo-Pacific region, and now is the time for the United States and like-minded partners to invest in each other.

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The two leaders toured the plant, which the White House has dubbed a model for a new $17 billion plant that Samsung plans to build in Taylor, Texas.

“This plant represents the close ties that exist between our two countries,” Biden said, noting that chips are a critical national security priority.

Advanced chips for functions such as mobile phone, 5G, high-performance computing and artificial intelligence have become a focal point of competition with China and concerns about global supply chain disruptions caused by the pandemic and war in Ukraine.

Yoon said Biden’s visit to the factory highlighted how the decades-old US-South Korean alliance has grown, made more inclusive through microchip cooperation.

Biden also urged incentives for South Korean and US companies to invest in each other’s countries.

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Samsung Electronics Vice President Jay Y. Lee was excused from attending Friday’s accounting fraud trial hearing in order to host the US president’s tour. Read more

Confronting China’s presence in the region is a major theme for Biden on the trip, but South Korea is likely to take a cautious tone in public on the subject given that Beijing is Seoul’s number one trading partner.

South Korea is expected to be among the inaugural members of Biden’s Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF), which will be announced during the trip to set standards for labour, the environment and supply chains.

Asked about Beijing’s opposition to the international forum, Yoon told reporters on Friday that joining the framework should not conflict with South Korea’s economic ties with China.

“We don’t have to look at it as zero,” he said.

Hyundai Motor Co (005380.KS) He has been working on plans to build a new electric car plant in the United States, and an announcement could coincide with Biden’s visit. Read more

Biden and Yoon will also face the important issue of North Korea. Leader Kim Jong Un has abandoned a moratorium on ICBM tests and appears ready to resume nuclear bomb testing, possibly while Biden is in the region.

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Additional reporting by Josh Smith, Hyunhye Shin and Juri Roh in Seoul; Editing by Heather Timmons, Cynthia Osterman, Thomas Janowski, and Hugh Lawson

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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