Yoon says strengthening supply chain resilience is most urgent task

DAVOS, Switzerland– President Yoon Suk Yeol said Thursday that strengthening supply chain resilience is the most urgent task facing the world and South Korea is ready to be a key partner in the effort.

In a special address to the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Yoon said the global supply chain has been fragmented by the pandemic, geopolitical conflicts, the rivalry for technological hegemony, and the weakening multilateral trade system.

The war in Ukraine, he said, has further exacerbated supply chain disruptions.

“The most urgent task of our time is to strengthen the supply chain’s resilience based on reciprocal solidarity,” Yoon said in his speech. “By forging robust solidarity among nations, we must establish a resilient supply chain and pursue the coexistence of citizens worldwide.”

Yoon promised that South Korea will play a key role in the effort.

“The Republic of Korea, which boasts the world’s top-notch production technologies and manufacturing capabilities in semiconductors, rechargeable batteries, steelmaking, and biotechnology, will be a key partner in the global supply chain,” he said, referring to South Korea by its official name.

“We will align and cooperate with mutually trusted countries in full compliance with the universal rules in order to secure the global supply chain’s stability.”

Yoon said he would also like to call for a transition to a low-carbon economy aimed at aptly responding to the climate crisis and ensuring energy security, bolstering global cooperation to bridge the gaps in responding to health threats, and establishing a digital order contributing to freedom and prosperity for all.

In tackling the climate crisis, the president cited the importance of nuclear power and clean hydrogen, saying nuclear power plants enable a stable supply of electricity while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

“The Korean government has already unveiled the plan to systemically pursue the carbon neutrality target by expanding the share of nuclear power in our energy mix, thereby bolstering our energy security,” he said.

“The Republic of Korea has world-class technological prowess in nuclear power generation as well as outstanding nuclear power plant construction and operation capabilities and is willing to work with nations that need to tap into nuclear power technology to achieve their carbon neutrality goals,” he added.

On responding to health threats, Yoon said South Korea is committed to sharing its experiences and achievements in responding to health crises and bridging the gap in pandemic response capabilities between countries.

“In particular, we will secure financing for the prevention of and response to pandemics while nurturing workforce in the biotechnology sector to boost vaccine production capacity,” he said. “Korea will also take the lead in cooperating with other countries to respond to new infectious diseases in the future.”

Yoon additionally called attention to the digital divide between countries, saying it needs to be addressed through the establishment of a global digital order that enables global citizens to expand their freedom through digital technologies.

“The Korean government is to create the Digital Bill of Rights in Korea, which can contribute to the establishment of a global digital order,” he said. “The Digital Bill of Rights in Korea will define the right to enjoy digital technologies as a universal right of humanity, and propose the basic principles to resolve novel issues that may arise in an era of great digital transformation.”

Yoon also used his speech to stress the importance of maintaining a free trade system.

“Building up walls and intensifying protectionism cannot be the right answer,” he said.

Following the speech, Yoon took part in a Q&A with WEF Chairman Klaus Schwab, who asked him to elaborate on how South Korea plans to contribute to strengthening supply chain resilience.

Yoon cited the example of semiconductors, saying he would like to help the smooth operation of semiconductor supply chains by sharing South Korea’s chip technology with other nations where possible.

Yoon also said he plans to increase the production of nuclear energy as part of efforts to reach the country’s carbon neutrality goal.

When asked how he views relations with China and Japan from the perspective of value-sharing, Yoon said he hopes to work together with any nation that is willing to cooperate.

“Japan, like the United States, shares with us a similar political, economic and social system that has almost identical universal values,” he said. “China is slightly different from us, but I believe that … rather than excluding or blocking a country with large differences in systems or universal values, we should be more embracing and converging.”

Source: Yonhap News Agency

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