August 21, 2023 13:33
The U.S., Korea and Japan agreed at a trilateral summit at Camp David to create a broad three-way cooperation platform focusing on semiconductors, biotechnology, space research, artificial intelligence, quantum computing and other innovative technologies to foster growth. That could be vital in helping the Korean economy emerge from the low-growth doldrums.
Washington has been trying to reorganize global supply chains for core high-tech products by freezing out Beijing. The U.S. established the Chip 4 Alliance, which includes four of the world's top producers -- the U.S., Japan, Taiwan, and Korea -- to form its own supply chain. But Korea, afraid of agitating China, had been unable to play a leading role, and while it hesitates, Taiwan's TSMC started building a factory in Japan and joined hands with the U.S. to manufacture next-generation semiconductors. That has prompted concerns that the industrial structure for semiconductors could be realigned into a triangle of U.S. design, Japanese materials and Taiwanese production. But the latest trilateral partnership means the U.S. wants to strengthen the alliance with Korea, which now has allies that virtually dominate the global market for semiconductor manufacturing equipment, minimizing the threat of retaliation from China. Korea has also minimized the risk of retaliation from China in the area of rechargeable batteries since the U.S.-led Minerals Security Partnership will contribute to lowering its dependence on China for materials.
In the areas of space research, AI and quantum computing, the U.S. and Japan have world-leading technologies. The Korean economy could benefit tremendously from joint research and development with the two allies in those fields. Now that the new framework has been created, the Korean government must draw up detailed plans to elicit private-sector investment in those areas, nurture experts and provide the necessary support.
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