Georgians hail deal to open battery plant, creating 2,600 jobs

A logo of LG Electronics Inc. is seen outside of the company's office building in Seoul, South...
A logo of LG Electronics Inc. is seen outside of the company's office building in Seoul, South Korea, Monday, April 5, 2021.(Source: AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Published: Apr. 11, 2021 at 9:56 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 11, 2021 at 5:24 PM EDT
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ATLANTA - (WRDW/WAGT) - Officials are excited about a move that will allow construction of a battery plant to move forward in the Peach State.

Two South Korean electric vehicle battery makers have settled a long-running trade dispute that will allow one of them to move ahead with plans to manufacture batteries in Commerce, Ga.

The $2.6 billion investment is expected to create 2,600 jobs.

President Joe Biden called the settlement agreement is “a win for American workers and the American auto industry.”

Gov. Brian Kemp called the settlement “fantastic news for northeast Georgia and our state’s growing electric vehicle industry.”

Democratic Sen. Jon Ossoff of Georgia, who at Biden’s request had jump-started negotiations between two companies, said the settlement “has saved the battery plant in Commerce, Georgia, ensuring thousands of jobs, billions in future investment, and that Georgia will be a leader in electric vehicle battery production for years to come.’'

Added Sen. Raphael Warnock, D-Ga.: “The best way to protect workers in Commerce — and the jobs Georgians were promised — is for the companies involved to negotiate a settlement in good faith,.” He said he raised the battery issue with Biden during the president’s March 19 visit to Atlanta.

The U.S. International Trade Commission decided in February that SK Innovation stole 22 trade secrets from LG Energy, and that SK should be barred from importing, making or selling batteries in the United States for 10 years.

Politicians were calling on Biden to overrule the commission’s decision. Biden had until Sunday night to make a decision.

The companies reached the settlement on their own, ending the need for Biden to intervene in the dispute.

The companies said in a joint statement that SK will provide LG Energy with a total of $1.8 billion and an undisclosed royalty. They agreed to withdraw all pending trade disputes in the United States and South Korea and not assert new claims for 10 years.

“We have decided to settle and to compete in an amicable way, all for the future of the U.S. and South Korean electric vehicle battery industries,” said Jun Kim, CEO and president of SK, and Jong Hyun Kim, CEO and president of LG Energy.

The companies pledged to work together to strengthen the EV battery supply chain in the U.S. and support the Biden administration’s efforts to advance clean energy policies, including electric vehicles.

The commission said SK could supply batteries to Ford Motor Co. for four years and to Volkswagen AG for two years.

Biden said in a statement Sunday that building electric vehicles and the batteries needed for them is an important part of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.

“We need a strong, diversified and resilient U.S.-based electric vehicle battery supply chain, so we can supply the growing global demand for these vehicles and components — creating good-paying jobs here at home, and laying the groundwork for the jobs of tomorrow. Today’s settlement is a positive step in that direction,” Biden said.

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