Remarks by President Trump to Korean Business Leaders
Grand Hyatt Hotel Seoul Seoul, Republic of Korea June 30 10:22 A.M. KST
PRESIDENT TRUMP: Thank you. (Applause.) Wow, thank you very much. Please. Thank you very much. That's so nice. That means you like us. And we like you. And it has been a great period of time for our two countries.
I want to thank you, Ambassador Harris. We put you here recently because we thought it might be a spot where we need somebody with great talent, and you've displayed that in our military for many years. We really appreciate it very much. Thank you, Ambassador. (Applause.)
You've led this embassy with outstanding vision and skill, and we deeply appreciate your efforts. And I tell you, many of the business people that I've met in this incredible country have told me very strongly that what we did with the Ambassador, that was just a tremendous move.
And, you know, we're talking about certain things. You probably have heard the things we're talking about, and we're going to make a visit today to the DMZ because - longstanding visit with President Moon. And I just want to see how that's looking. And a lot of good things are happening with North Korea. I really believe that. A lot of good things. The relationship is very good. When I first came here, it was a disaster. It was a disaster.
In my opinion, had President Obama or somebody like President Obama - for instance, my opponent in the last election - had it worked that way, I honestly believe you would have been at war with North Korea. I've said it loud and I've said it clear. And right now, as you know, we have no nuclear tests. We have no ballistic tests. We have gotten our hostages, our prisoners back, which we really appreciated, from Kim Jong Un - Chairman Kim. The remains are coming back as they get them, as they find them. The remains of our great heroes from the war. And we really appreciate that.
And there's a good - there's a good feeling. There's a good relationship. And, you know, I won't even say "developing." I just think we have a very good relationship - the two of us. I don't know about beyond the two of us, but I can say the two of us.
So we'll see how it all goes. And, again, I'm going to the DMZ, and we are - I understand that they're - they want to meet. And I'd love to say hello. It's going to be very short, but we are in territory that's very close. We don't have to take long trips to countries. So it's good for both of us. Let's see what happens. They're trying to work it out. Not so easy.
I'm delighted to return to the beautiful city of Seoul - incredible city - this week for my second visit to South Korea as President. That's a lot, when you think about it. I haven't been President very long - two and a half years. How time flies.
Today, it's my distinct honor to join this very talented group of leaders, many of whom I recognize. I don't know all of you. I know some of you, but I recognize most of you. Great leaders. Great businesspeople.
You're a talented group, and you're from America and South Korea companies to discuss the critical economic relationship between the United States and South Korea. My thanks as well to Secretary Mnuchin and Secretary of State Under - we call them the "Under." Sometimes the Under Secretary of States have tremendous - where is he? Where is our Under Secretary of State? Good. Congratulations. Great job. You're doing a fantastic job. Thank you very much for being here. And if you have any questions later, Keith, come see me, because there could be plenty of questions. But they're very happy with the job you're doing. Thank you very much.
And the job that our Secretary of State is doing is fantastic. Mike Pompeo.
For decades, the U.S.-South Korea alliance has advanced peace and security in this region, and far beyond. Today, our partnership is stronger than ever before. Following this event, I'll meet with President Moon to discuss many shared priorities, including enhancing our already robust economic ties. The United States is having probably the best economy we've ever had. We're doing phenomenally. Many, many companies - including South Korea - but many companies are coming into the United States from other places throughout the world. Car companies, in particular. They're going to Michigan. They're going to Ohio and North Carolina and Pennsylvania, Florida.
Over the past few days, President Moon and I have been in Osaka, Japan, for the G20 Summit. And I have to say that Prime Minister Abe did a fantastic job. It was a great summit. A lot of - a lot of good spirit. A lot of good will. And that brings, really, very importantly, the world leaders together, each, to discuss some of the most important economic opportunities and challenges facing our nations. And one-on-ones are very important when you have individual complaints.
I'm sure most of you haven't heard, but I met with President Xi of China. I know you didn't hear about that. But we had, actually, a very good meeting. A really good meeting, I think. So we're continuing with our discussions on a trade deal. We'll see what happens. A good chance.
During the summit, I shared the pro-growth policies that have helped the United States achieve extraordinary economic success and called on all G20 members to cooperate based on the principles of fairness and reciprocity. Such an important word. Maybe my favorite word of all is "reciprocity."
The United States and South Korea have made great progress in reducing our trade imbalance and unleashing new prosperity for both of our countries. And, as you heard, your great ambassador and our great ambassador say we've reduced the number to by about 60 percent, which is pretty - pretty great. Good for both countries, actually.
Last year, we reduced the trade deficits of goods between the United States and South Korea by more than 20 percent, and that number is moving very rapidly along. And we announced a totally renegotiated United States-Korea trade deal, which went into effect this last January 1st. And that was something that looked like it wasn't going to be happening, and we got it done. Good for both countries.
Our upgraded agreement will benefit workers in both the United States and South Korea, and includes strong provisions to increase South Korea's access to the finest American-made products, including automobiles, agricultural crops, medicines, and more. Under the terms of this deal, South Korea will double the number of American cars that can enter the market each year.
So the car companies are very happy with it, and it gets to be just much more fair. We must remain vigilant and ensure that we keep moving forward toward a more balanced trade relationship and further reduce our trade deficit.
Our countries also enjoy a thriving investment relationship. Since 2017, Korean investment in the United States has expanded by billions and billions of dollars. This includes Lotte Group's recent investment of $3.1 billion in Louisiana. (Applause.)
And Chairman Shin Dong-bin - I think he's here. There you are. Such a young man. Look at that - (laughter) - to have done such a good job. It's incredible. How did you do that? Would you get up here please and speak? (Laughter.) Beautiful job. Thank you very much. Fantastic job. We appreciate it. And we have a great working relationship. Your investment of $3.1 billion in Louisiana is going to be a great investment. You know that. So, congratulations. Thank you very much for being here.
Korean Air and Boeing have also recently announced that Korean Air will acquire 30 brand new 787s - a great plane; Dreamliner - a deal worth over $9 billion. And Kee-hong Woo - where are you? Thank you very much. Thank you very much for being here. (Applause.) From Korean Air is here. And you've done a great job with Korean Air. Congratulations. Really great.
And Eric John, President of Boeing Korea. Where's Eric? Thank you, Eric. Good job. (Applause.) Good. Thank you. Great plane.
Thank you both for being here. And congratulations.
Hyundai, Samsung, and CJ, Doosan, and SK Group all here this morning. They were all here represented by their top people. And I really appreciate it. They've made very large investments in our country, including the companies represented in the room; they've created more than 50,000 brand new jobs in the United States. We have to tell that to the people of the United States. And it's very important to tell them. There's a lot of investment going back into the United States. And we hope that you'll continue to expand.
Could I ask you all to stand up - the three folks? (Applause.) Hyundai, Samsung, CJ, and SK. Where's SK? Thank you very much. (Applause.) Congratulations. It's a great job. I recognize all four of you, I must tell you. Very famous business leaders and very great business leaders. Thank you very much. I appreciate it. We'll see you later.
There's never been a better time to invest, or do business, and create jobs in America. We passed the largest tax cut and reform in the history of our country, and eliminated more than 30,000 pages of job-killing regulations - a record. You don't have any regulation problem, I know, in South Korea. Do you? (Laughter.) You have any?
We slashed our business tax rate from the highest in the developed world to one of the most competitive anywhere in the developed world. We were so high that it was very hard for people to really understand how they could do it. We've taken back hundreds of billions of dollars from overseas. We weren't allowed to take that. That money was just - it was impossible to do. Both bureaucratically and tax wise, it was so expensive. Now we're bringing in - Apple alone brought in $230 billion, and they're spending it in the United States.
Capital investment by businesses now can be 100 percent tax deductible - something that nobody knew. And, if you look, the one-year provision is something that nobody thought was - deducting expense in the first year - something nobody thought they've ever see, and it's had a tremendous impact on the country.
Unemployment in the United States is at the lowest level it's been in 51 years. And we expected that level is even - that number is even going to get better, because there's tremendous - companies are moving in. We have companies moving in, car companies moving in. In particular, car companies. We hadn't had a plant built in years - in decades, actually. And now we have many plants being built all throughout the United States - cars.
According to the World Economic Forum, our financial system, business dynamism, and labor market all rank number one in the world. That's a great rank. And we were slipping badly, as you know. (Applause.)
In fact, I just opened a LNG plant in Louisiana. It's a $10 billion plant. And I think a couple of other folks in this room happen to be involved in that. But we also had tremendous Japanese investment. It's a ten billion. It's going to employ 10,000 jobs. It's, I guess, one of the biggest plants I've ever seen. And right in Louisiana also.
And they opened it. I hear it's doing phenomenally well. It was beautiful. It was built on time, on budget, but it was help up for many, many years - for more than a decade - because they couldn't get the permits. And I got in, I got them those permits. I didn't know anybody. I don't want to know anybody. All I wanted to do was I wanted to have them build that plant. And we got them the permits very quickly, through EPA and all of the other places that we had to get them. But that was being held up. It looked, actually, like it wasn't going to happen, and I got it done.
You look at Keystone Pipeline, the Dakota Access Pipeline - they were dead. They were really in trouble. Dakota Access had the worst of all worlds. It had built the pipeline, but it couldn't connect it - okay? - because it had environmental problems. False environmental problems. Problems that shouldn't have been a problem. But they had built it.
And I was actually going to say maybe the country should have a piece of the action. Steve, we could have said, "Listen, give us half of the profits for the rest, and we're going to give you that final permit." Right? I could have done it. We can't revert back to my business days. Can't do that. But we got it approved for them, and we got the permits, and they were able to connect. And they immediately opened.