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S. Korea launches task force on economic security amid supply chain disruptions

South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) sits next to US President Joe Biden during a session of the Group of 20 major economies in Rome on Sunday, to address pandemic-induced disruptions in supply chains. (Yonhap)
South Korean President Moon Jae-in (L) sits next to US President Joe Biden during a session of the Group of 20 major economies in Rome on Sunday, to address pandemic-induced disruptions in supply chains. (Yonhap)
South Korea has established a new task force at the foreign ministry to support the pan-governmental campaign to build resilient supply chains of key items and tackle pandemic-driven economic challenges, Seoul officials said Thursday.

The "economic security" team was launched earlier this week to collaborate with other government agencies in helping local companies' efforts to resolve ongoing supply chain issues, which has emerged as a hot-button global issue, especially amid the protracted COVID-19 pandemic.

The global supply chain is bearing the brunt of chip shortages, high transportation expenses and shipping delays, which have posed challenges to electronics, auto and consumer sectors.

"The new task force was launched as part of pan-governmental efforts to address the global supply chain issues," a foreign ministry official said. "Economic security can be understood under the concept of protecting national economic interests abroad."

The move came as global chipmakers, including Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea, are confronted with the Joe Biden administration's thinly-veiled pressure to share information on inventories and other details by Nov. 8.

Washington's call has spawned worries about the possible leak of what the firms consider major trade secrets and raised questions on how to answer those sensitive questions while complying with filings and information disclosure rules.

The new team will be operated under the bilateral economic relations department to handle the pending economic issues and could be expanded later to cover a broader range of areas in line with a growing importance of supply chain management, according to officials.

The US has also ratcheted up pressure on its allies to join its efforts to reshape the global supply chain to be less dependent on China.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended a global supply chain summit convened by US President Joe Biden on the sidelines of the Group of 20 summit in Rome on Sunday and vowed Seoul's greater role in tackling challenges affecting global trade.

Seoul officials stress the need to broaden the scope of the alliance with the US to cover economic diplomacy, in line with Washington's shifting focus on trade and investment ties as shown in Biden's convening the summit with 14 allies.

"It is not rare to hold a separate summit on the margins of the multilateral summit event," Choi Jong-moon, second foreign vice minister, said during a radio interview Wednesday.

"(Biden's) meeting may have been convened because of the automotive chip and electric vehicle battery problems earlier this year, and mostly recently, port gridlock."

In their summit in May, Moon and Biden agreed to step up bilateral cooperation in securing stable supply chains on chips, batteries and other key goods. (Yonhap)

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