Moon hails Korean investments in the U.S.
President Moon Jae-in ticked off promised investment in the United States by Korean corporations and suggested that more incentives will equal more investment.
“If the U.S. government provides a wide variety of incentives for battery production facilities, there will be more investment to come,” Moon said during a visit to SK Innovation’s electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in Commerce, Georgia on Saturday.
During the briefing, which was the last item on his agenda before returning to Korea, the president was joined by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and U.S. Senators Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock.
“It’s not only in batteries, but Korean companies are already strongly cooperating with the U.S. in semiconductors and future cars,” he added.
“Samsung Electronics is expanding its semiconductor production base within the U.S. with a $17 billion investment, and Hyundai Motor Group is expanding its EV production capacity through a $7.4 billion investment while developing the hydrogen industry ecosystem in the U.S.”
He said the countries will lead the world with more cooperation in high-tech industries.
The Korean president emphasized SK Innovation’s investment in Georgia.
“It is a good opportunity for the United States and Korea,” Moon said. “Georgia will create 2,600 new jobs, while the competitiveness of Korean companies will be further raised through the export of battery equipment and material,” Moon said. “SK Innovation has also announced a $6 billion joint venture with Ford Motor, which will provide a steady supply of batteries for 600,000 EV pickup trucks annually.”
Ford earlier in the week unveiled its EV version of the F-Series, the F-150 Lightning, which President Joe Biden took for a spin.
“LG Energy Solution is also working with General Motors on a joint venture in Ohio and investing $4.6 billion into a new plant in Tennessee,” Moon said.
President Moon stressed the level of commitment in Georgia.
“So far, 113 Korean companies have established roots in the state of Georgia,” Moon said. “Our Korean community has worked together in Georgia’s economic development, with $6.9 billion of investment and 10,000 jobs created.”
“I hope with the central roles of companies of each country, an American dream will be realized,” Moon said.
SK Innovation is investing $2.6 billion in a battery plant on a 1.13 million square-meter plot in Georgia. The plant will start mass production next year.
In March, the plant succeeded in manufacturing prototypes. The construction of the second plant will start in July, with a 2023 completion target.
SK Innovation’s Georgia plant will have a total annual battery output capacity of 21.5 gigawatt hours. It will be the second-largest battery producer after Tesla Gigafactory, which is in Sparks, Nevada, and has an annual capacity of 35 gigawatt hours.
Moon’s Georgia visit came days after Korean companies attended a roundtable to announce investment plans totaling nearly $40 billion, which includes the $14 billion investment from the Korean battery companies.
Other investment plans include roughly $1 billion by SK hynix to establish an R&D center focused on AI and advanced NAND flash memory in Silicon Valley, and Hyundai Motor and Kia investing $7.4 billion on EV production plants through 2025.
During the press conference at the White House, President Biden thanked the Korean businesses three times while asking their leaders to stand up.
Since taking office this year, President Biden has been pushing aggressively for Korean investments in the U.S. as he seeks to build out infrastructure and develop a supply chain free of China.
Korean semiconductors and EV batteries have been considered crucial to the global value chain along with products from Taiwan, which is another major semiconductor production powerhouse.
Moon is the second head of state invited to Washington by Biden during his presidency.
Although Samsung Electronics has reconfirmed its commitment to investing $17 billion in the U.S. to construct a semiconductor production plant, the company has yet to confirm whether the facility will be located in Austin, Texas. The Korean tech company has been hesitant in finalizing its decisions as it requested larger incentives from the state government.
BY LEE HO-JEONG, JOINT PRESS CORPS [firstname.lastname@example.org]