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Yoon, Apple CEO stress supply chain cooperation in surprise meeting

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President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, greets Apple CEO Tim Cook at their surprise meeting on the margins of the APEC summit in San Francisco on Wednesday. [PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE]
President Yoon Suk Yeol, left, greets Apple CEO Tim Cook at their surprise meeting on the margins of the APEC summit in San Francisco on Wednesday. [PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE]

President Yoon Suk Yeol held a surprise meeting with Apple CEO Tim Cook, discussing solidifying supply chain cooperation on the margins of the APEC summit in San Francisco on Wednesday.

Cook is said to have told Yoon that “Apple would not have reached its current position without the help of Korean partners and the Korean government,” according to the presidential office.

The meeting was an opportunity to solidify the supply chain cooperation system between Apple and Korean companies,” Choi Sang-mok, senior presidential secretary for economic affairs, said in a press briefing.

Yoon said that Apple not only contributed to the growth of Korea’s digital innovation ecosystem but also inspired innovation in many future generations and companies around the world, Choi added.

Cook said that Apple has had more than $100 billion in transactions with Korean companies over the past five years and plans to continue cooperating and investing in capable Korean companies to help them grow further.

He added that Korea has a special meaning to him, as his father was a 1950-53 Korean War veteran and had a special affection for the country.

“I am grateful on behalf of our people for your father’s dedication in participating in the Korean War,” Yoon replied. “We ask you to continue to expand cooperation with Korean companies with the world’s best technology and capabilities, and the Korean government will also actively support you.”

The previously unannounced meeting took place upon the request of Cook.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, shakes hands with Apple CEO Tim Cook on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco on Wednesday. [PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE]
President Yoon Suk Yeol, right, shakes hands with Apple CEO Tim Cook on the sidelines of the APEC summit in San Francisco on Wednesday. [PRESIDENTIAL OFFICE]

More than 200 Korean companies are partnered with Apple, according to Choi, and these domestic companies supply 30 percent of the parts purchased by Apple.

Speaking at the APEC CEO Summit, Yoon said Korea will contribute to the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) as a “global pivotal country.”

In his keynote address at the summit, Yoon shared his vision for cooperation to enhance interconnectivity within the Asia-Pacific region in three major areas: trade, investment and supply chain, digital technology and future generations, the presidential office said in a statement.

He noted that Russia’s war in Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas conflict and deepening technological hegemony are accelerating the segmentation of the world economy into blocs, while supply chain risks highlighted by the pandemic are posing a “large threat” to nations in the Asia-Pacific region.

“In order for the world economy to regain dynamism and continue sustainable growth, APEC must take the lead in accelerating the connectivity of the world economy,” he said.

Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks at the APEC CEO Summit during the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]
Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks at the APEC CEO Summit during the annual Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation gathering at the Moscone West Convention Center in San Francisco, California, on Wednesday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Yoon said APEC has been working to lower regional trade barriers and that its role as a guardian of the multilateral trading system should be expanded.

He stressed that a “resilient supply chain is core to the multilateral trading system.”

He then called for members to share their experiences in supply chain resilience, including establishing an early warning system within APEC.

Yoon said that to realize the digital era where connectivity and immediacy are key, data must be seamlessly connected across borders, and the digital gap between countries must disappear.

“To this end, new norms and orders suitable for the digital age are needed,” he added.

The CEO summit, a business forum held as a side event to the APEC gathering, was attended by around 1,200 people, including leaders of member countries, including the United States, Vietnam, Peru, Thailand and Chile. It was also attended by leading business executives such as Qualcomm CEO Cristiano Amon and Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

Yoon and first lady Kim Keon Hee arrived in San Francisco earlier Wednesday for a four-day trip to attend the APEC gathering. This marks Yoon’s first time attending the APEC summit to meet with leaders of its 21 member economies.

Immediately after arriving, Yoon met with around 150 Koreans in San Francisco, thanking them for their contributions to the Korea-U. S. alliance.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, takes selfies with attendees of a meeting with young Korean American scientists and researchers working at a hotel in the San Francisco Wednesday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]
President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, takes selfies with attendees of a meeting with young Korean American scientists and researchers working at a hotel in the San Francisco Wednesday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

Later Wednesday, Yoon met with around 100 Korean entrepreneurs, researchers, developers, students and interns working in the San Francisco area.

He pledged to nurture young Korean scientists and researchers in the United States and other countries to help them become leading experts globally.

He later attended a reception for APEC leaders.

Yoon is set to attend the APEC leaders’ summit on Thursday.

Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida are scheduled to hold bilateral talks on the sidelines of the APEC gathering on Thursday, reported Kyodo News.

The two leaders are also scheduled to discuss cooperation on cutting-edge science and technology at Stanford University on Friday.

President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, attends a welcome reception for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders' week at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California Wednesday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]
President Yoon Suk Yeol, center, attends a welcome reception for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) leaders’ week at the Exploratorium in San Francisco, California Wednesday. [JOINT PRESS CORPS]

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]