(LEAD) Yoon says visit to Netherlands will help development of defense industry

SEOUL, - President Yoon Suk Yeol said Thursday that his upcoming state visit to the Netherlands will help strengthen semiconductor cooperation between the two countries and contribute to the development of South Korea's defense industry and exports.

Yoon made the remark while presiding over a meeting discussing strategies for defense industry exports, an area that has made significant strides amid increased demand for weapons from countries in Europe, Southeast Asia, the Middle East and beyond.

According to the defense ministry, South Korea was one of the biggest arms exporters last year, achieving record-breaking weapons exports of US$17.3 billion, sharply up from $7.25 billion in 2021.

"In order for our defense industry to make a further leap, securing a stable supply chain of semiconductors and other materials, parts and equipment is extremely important," Yoon said during the meeting held at the office of aerospace industrial company Hanwha Aerospace in Seongnam, just south of Seoul. "Next week on the occasion of my state visit to the Netherlands, I plan to focus discussions on ways to strengthen the two countries' semiconductor alliance."

Yoon is scheduled to visit the Netherlands from Monday to Thursday next week. During the trip, he plans to visit the headquarters of top chipmaking equipment manufacturer ASML in Veldhoven, together with Dutch King Willem-Alexander, Samsung Electronics Executive Chairman Lee Jae-yong and SK Chairman Chey Tae-won.

Samsung Electronics and SK hynix are two of the world's leading chipmakers.

"I believe semiconductor cooperation with the Netherlands, with its world-leading lithography technology, such as EUV (extreme ultraviolet lithography), will greatly contribute to strengthening our defense industry capabilities and create new opportunities for defense industry exports," Yoon said.

According to Principal Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Tae-hyo, Yoon will be the first foreign leader to be invited inside a cleanroom, or a manufacturing facility, at the ASML headquarters.

"We plan to combine the Netherlands' high-tech equipment with South Korea's high-tech manufacturing abilities to maximize the complementarity of the semiconductor value chain," Kim said during a press briefing at the presidential office. "We will have focused discussions on ways to establish a semiconductor alliance that encompasses the governments, businesses and universities."

As part of the effort, Kim said the two sides will take steps to launch a "semiconductor dialogue," sign a memorandum of understanding and work to identify joint projects.

Source: Yonhap News Agency