Governor Sanders Delivers Remarks to KITA in the Republic of Korea

SEOUL, Republic of Korea–Governor Sarah Huckabee Sanders delivered remarks to the Korea International Trade Association (KITA) in Seoul on Monday, March 11th, and signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to foster economic cooperation. KITA is a private non-profit trade organization founded in 1946 with 105 traders as its founding members. It is one of Korea’s largest umbrella economic organizations and has more than 70,000 member firms, representing almost the entirety of Korea’s international trade community.

The Governor’s remarks as prepared are below:

Good afternoon. Thank you, Chairman Jin Sik-Yoon and the team at KITA for hosting today’s meeting.

It has been an absolute pleasure to be back here in Korea. I came to the country a couple times during my stint in the White House, but this has been a chance to see Korea in a way I never did when I was in my old job.

There are certainly some differences between our two countries: we do our barbecue a little bit differently and listen to more country than K-pop.

But it’s always fun to travel to other countries and see the ways we’re the same.

In Little Rock, Arkansas’ capital, we even have a traditional Korean gate and garden at the center of our city. It was built by artists here in Korea and placed there by the founder of the American Taekwondo Association.

He put his headquarters in Little Rock in part because Arkansas’ geography reminded him of Korea.

Little Rock is also home to Arkansas’ Korean War memorial, honoring the 6,000 Arkansans who fought in this country over half a century ago.

The statue doesn’t just show soldiers, though. It depicts Korean children standing alongside them – children who, in 1953, inherited a country almost completely destroyed by conflict.

How different is that image from the country we’re in today?

Out of the ashes, those children built a miracle. And their children and grandchildren – those in this room – are the leaders of one of the wealthiest, most advanced countries on the face of the earth.

That’s the power of the friendship between our two countries. It’s a friendship that, I hope, we can help grow.

My dad met with this group nearly twenty years ago and signed an MOU that was similar to the one we’re signing today. In that time, your country’s relationship with the United States has only grown.

Just last year, we announced that Fort Smith, Arkansas, would be home to one of America’s largest F-35 training programs. Among the participants, South Korean service members.

Our state exports well over $100 million to Korea each year, with products as diverse as paper, cotton, and plastics.

Korean companies have facilities in our state everywhere from Pine Bluff to Bentonville.

And of course, thousands of Arkansans sit down every night to watch a Samsung TV, drive to work in a Hyundai or Kia, or wash their clothes in an LG washing machine.

My hope is that with this trip, that partnership will only get stronger. When South Korea rebuilt after the war, your country’s leaders focused on a few key priorities: among them, education and creating a business-friendly environment.

That’s a tried-and-true roadmap to success, which is why my administration prioritized education right out of the gate. We raised starting teacher salaries to some of the highest in the country and invested in literacy.

Listening to our business community, we also built out new career and technical education programs. And made building the workforce for the future our top priority.

To make our state more welcoming to investment, my administration has cut taxes, not once but twice. We’re improving efficiency in government to responsibly phase out our income tax.

All these changes are having an effect. My administration helped secure more than $1 billion in private investment for our state and we added tens of thousands of new residents last year.

 But we can always do better, which is why I’m proud to be here in Korea, selling our state to some of the best companies in the world.

Arkansas is open for business. I look forward to discussing how we can get your businesses to join all the others who have chosen Arkansas.