President Yoon Suk Yeol departed for San Francisco on Wednesday to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit to promote stronger solidarity and cooperation to advance trade and investment liberalization.
This marks Yoon’s first time attending the APEC summit to meet with leaders of its 21 member economies.
APEC is the region’s largest cooperative body, accounting for about 62 percent of global GDP. It focuses on economic growth and prosperity in the Asia-Pacific region.
Yoon and first lady Kim Keon Hee departed from the Seoul Air Base in Seongnam, Gyeonggi, for a four-day visit to the United States to meet with the leaders of APEC’s 21 member economies.
In an interview with the AP Tuesday, Yoon said he plans to “urge the member economies to work together in the spirit of stronger solidarity and cooperation to advance trade and investment liberalization, innovation and digitization as well as inclusive and sustainable growth.”
He also will address the current global challenges arising from Russia’s war on Ukraine, the Israel-Hamas conflict, the climate crisis and high inflation, and also warn against any arms deals between North Korea and Russia, according to the presidential office.
After arriving in the United States on Wednesday, Yoon will meet with Korean residents in San Francisco.
He will deliver a keynote speech on strengthening interconnectivity at the APEC CEO Summit, a business forum chaired by the United States this year, and later attend a welcome reception.
Yoon will be the first Korean president in 10 years to attend the CEO summit, to be attended by more than 1,000 business leaders and experts. Other speakers will include the leaders of Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam. Google CEO Sundar Pichai, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Tesla and X owner Elon Musk and OpenAI CEO Sam Altman are among tech moguls expected to attend the gathering.
Yoon will also meet with Korean youth in high-tech industries.
On Thursday, Yoon will attend the first session of the APEC leaders’ summit, which holds the theme of “Creating a Resilient and Sustainable Future for All.”
Later that day, Yoon will also participate in the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF) summit, a U.S.-led economic bloc launched last year and seen to counter Chinese influence in the region.
On Friday, Yoon will join APEC leaders in a “retreat” session aimed at open exchanges without restraint, where topics such as restoring multilateral trading systems, strengthening regional supply chain connectivity and establishing digital ethical standards can be discussed.
Later Friday, Yoon will be joined by Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida to hold a roundtable discussion at Stanford University on South Korea-Japan relations and trilateral cooperation with the United States in the high-tech sector.
Attention is focusing on whether Yoon will hold a bilateral summit with Chinese President Xi Jinping on the margins of this gathering after the two leaders last met on the sidelines of the G20 Summit in Bali in November 2022.
Such a meeting would be an opportunity to strengthen bilateral economic exchanges and discuss the resumption of regular Korea-Japan-China summits.
U.S. President Joe Biden and Xi were also set to hold their high-stakes bilateral summit in San Francisco on Wednesday.
Xi arrived on his first trip to the United States in six years on Tuesday, beginning a four-day visit that includes his taking part in the APEC forum, with reviving China’s economy high on an agenda.
The idea of APEC was first publicly pitched by former Australian Prime Minister Bob Hawke during a speech in Seoul in January 1989.
Korea was among 12 Asia-Pacific economies that met in Canberra, Australia, to establish APEC later that year and contributed to establishing and developing the institutional framework in the early stages of its launch, including hosting an APEC ministerial meeting in Seoul in 1991.
BY SARAH KIM [firstname.lastname@example.org]