South Korea visit to 'deepen and strengthen' relations with US, top Commerce official says

The Deputy Secretary of Commerce is in South Korea to talk cybersecurity.

September 22, 2023, 2:18 AM

A top Department of Commerce official's visit to South Korea is intended to "find ways to deepen and strengthen" the connection between the two countries, and to build off the President of South Korea's state visit to the United States earlier this year, according to the Deputy Secretary of Commerce.

"The thing that we're hearing consistently, is the need to to align our approaches," Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves told ABC News from Seoul, South Korea. "Our national security interests and our economic security interests can best be served, if we have alignment."

The deputy secretary said the two countries are aligned on a host of issues, including ensuring democratic norms, standards and values.

Graves took along 15 cybersecurity companies from the United States to encourage further engagement and investment between the two countries.

North Korea, one of the main threats identified by intelligence agencies in cyberspace, is known for launching state sponsored cyberattacks, according to the United States. Graves said meetings like he is having in South Korea and, later in the week, in Japan help to ensure the countries have the "best of class" from companies to combat any potential cyber threat.

In this May 3, 2023, file photo, Don Graves, deputy US commerce secretary, speaks during the SelectUSA Investment Summit in National Harbor, Maryland.
Bloomberg via Getty Images, FILE

"Part of this is also sharing intelligence," he told ABC News. "It's discussing ways that we can better use the variety of tools that we have at our disposal. In fact, that was one of the things that we talked about, with our government counterparts here in in Seoul, was how we can help each other strengthen the tools that we have to deal with cyber intrusions and a range of bad actions that these these states and their aligned companies or actors may be taking against our companies and against our private citizens."

One of the other major issues that came up in Graves' meeting was semiconductor production.

Earlier this year, Samsung agreed to build the "worlds largest" semiconductor manufacturing plant, and the Commerce Department is responsible for handing out funds for the CHIPS and Science Act, which is aimed at getting CHIP manufacturing back on American soil.

"The Korean government and Korean companies have been strong allies and partners as it relates to semiconductors," Graves said. "We're enabling our private sector to be better innovation partners with our allies and partners around the world, that we actually believe that two way commerce, the trade that we're all interested in expanding, actually grows as a result of us making these investments, and our expectation is that and we're seeing it across the board, is that companies from Korea and our other partners and allies are making investments alongside us in the United States, as well as making investments in their own countries domestically."

Graves said that, ultimately, the goal is to "build a more resilient supply chain that brings much of the supply chain back to the United States" and to ensure "that we're never put in a position where our national security is at risk."