Investment by South Korea’s SK Group Will Be ‘Consequential’ to US, Biden Says

Investment by South Korea’s SK Group Will Be ‘Consequential’ to US, Biden Says
U.S. President Joe Biden meets virtually with the Chairman and Principal Owner of SK Group Chey Tae-won in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington on July 26, 2022. (Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images)
Aldgra Fredly

SK Group, the second-largest conglomerate in South Korea, said on July 26 that it would invest an additional $22 billion in semiconductors and other cutting-edge industries in the United States.

The plan was announced after a virtual meeting between SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won and U.S. President Joe Biden, who is recovering at the White House from COVID-19.

Biden said the investment is “consequential” to both SK Group and the United States, as it would expand the company’s workforce to 20,000 workers by 2025 while funding a range of U.S. advanced technologies.

“This pathbreaking announcement represents clear evidence that the United States, [South Korea], and its allies are back and winning the technology competition of the 21st century,” Biden said in remarks made public by the White House.

SK Group’s investments will include $15 billion in the semiconductor industry through research and development programs, as well as materials and a testing and packaging facility, which will help address supply chain problems, the company said in a statement.

Another $5 billion will go to green energy businesses, including electric vehicle-charging stations, green hydrogen production, battery materials, and recycling.

The final batch, which the company described as worth “several billions of dollars,” would go toward biotechnology firms developing new drugs designed to bolster competitiveness in the U.S. pharmaceutical industry.

Investing Near $30 Billion

Chey told Biden that SK Group will invest “nearly $30 billion going forward,” following its previous announcement of a $7 billion investment in new facilities in Tennessee and Kentucky as part of its joint venture with Ford Motor.

“In the past, these kinds of technology investments went to China. Today, under my administration, these technology investments are coming to the United States,” Biden said.

Biden further stated that about 613,000 manufacturing jobs had been created in the United States since he took office, and construction of overall manufacturing facilities in the United States has increased by 116 percent.

US–South Korea Relations

The announced investment is part of the Biden administration’s efforts to reduce the effect of supply chain bottlenecks around the globe, which the administration says are helping fuel record-high inflation.
During his visit to South Korea in May, Biden met with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol to deepen the allies’ strategic economic and technology partnership as well as energy security.
The two leaders agreed to “protect and promote critical and emerging technologies, including leading-edge semiconductors, eco-friendly EV batteries, Artificial Intelligence, quantum technology, biotechnology, biomanufacturing, and autonomous robotics,” the U.S.–South Korea joint statement reads.

As part of the economic partnership, South Korea formally announced its participation in the U.S.-led Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a framework outlining the United States’ key priorities in aligning with allies and partners to compete more effectively with communist China in the race to lead global technology development and norms.

Lisa Bian and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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