Fellow Koreans, residents of Gyeongsangbuk-do Province and citizens of Gumi,
At last, a job-creation program is getting off to a vigorous start in Gumi today with this plant’s groundbreaking ceremony. It comes two and a half years after LG Chem and the region’s labor, management, civic organizations and local governments signed a mutually beneficial agreement to create jobs. Even though the COVID-19 situation delayed the start of the program, all of the parties pulled together to keep their mutually beneficial promise. I am very pleased to share this welcome news with our people at the beginning of the new year.
Now over the next three years through this 475.4 billion won investment in the Gumi National Industrial Complex’s High-Tech Valley, Korea’s largest manufacturing plant for battery-related anode materials will be built. The plant will begin mass production in 2024 and produce up to 60,000 tons of anode materials annually, which will make up 40 percent of Korea’s production capacity, by 2026. This breakthrough milestone will enable the Gumi National Industrial Complex and the Republic of Korea’s battery industry to take yet another leap forward.
Today, we are joined by the main architects of Gumi-type jobs. I am deeply grateful to these representatives from LG Chem and the region’s labor, management, civic organizations and local governments as well as Governor Lee Cheon-woo, Mayor Jang Seyong and the other officials from Gyeongsangbuk-do and Gumi involved. In particular, I’d like to extend my heartfelt congratulations to Gumi citizens and all the residents of Gyeongsangbuk-do who have provided unwavering support and encouragement up to today’s groundbreaking ceremony.
Citizens of Gumi,
The Gumi National Industrial Complex has always spearheaded Korea’s economy by taking on challenges one step ahead of others and embracing innovation. Even though the first oil shock hit the country immediately after the Complex was created, it evolved into a hub for the Republic of Korea’s electronics industry by boldly attracting investment. Korea’s first computer manufacturing factory was built in the Complex. This is also the place where mobile phones were produced for the first time in Korea. In 1999, it became the first industrial complex to achieve more than US$10 billion in exports on its own. Amid the lingering hardships from the foreign exchange crisis, the Complex instilled us with the confidence to overcome such an emergency.
This Complex is also overcoming the difficulties arising from its age and the relocation of large corporations by creating smart industrial complexes and fostering new industries. Its exports, which had been contracting since 2014, have rebounded for two years in a row even amid the COVID-19 situation. I am convinced that they will surpass US$30 billion again in this new year.
Now, the powerful resurrection of the Gumi National Industrial Complex will definitely become all the more pronounced through jobs. It has proven that – if labor, management, civic organizations and local governments make small concessions and join forces – we can use domestic investments to enhance the competitiveness of our new industries as much as we desire without looking abroad.
The Government will also render full support in cooperation with local governments. The land in industrial complexes will be leased for free for 50 years, and a local investment promotion subsidy worth US$57.5 billion will be provided. Since the mutually beneficial job creation agreement was signed in July 2019, an increasing number of businesses have invested in the Gumi National Industrial Complex. Over the past two years, investments totaling more than 4 trillion won have been attracted – an impressive achievement. We will make the Gumi-type job program a clear success and induce more companies to invest. The Gumi National Industrial Complex will become a treasure trove of jobs, and local businesses will have opportunities to share in the growth.
The investment being made at this time will help create more than 8,200 jobs. Local youth will be able to pursue their dreams where they grew up. Meister, or technical, high schools, Kumoh National Institute of Technology and other educational institutions in the region will also pitch in by running industry-academia cooperation programs. LG Chem and local governments will create an ESG fund worth 10 billion won and a cooperation fund worth 6 billion won. These funds will serve as pump primers to improve the working environment at SMEs and accelerate their eco-friendly transitions.
Today, Gumi, a city that embraces challenges and innovation, has gained the power of mutual benefit. Along with these Gumi-type jobs, the Republic of Korea will also move one step further ahead of others in the battery industry, an integral part of the global supply chain competition. Our country is at the forefront of the international battery industry with unmatched technological prowess, but we lack competitiveness, relatively speaking, in the basic ecosystem, including materials and parts. To gain a clearly dominant position amid the competition in battery supply chains, we have to become more self sufficient in key materials and parts. Since anode materials account for 40 percent of battery manufacturing costs, they are the most important element, but half of domestic demand is currently fed by imports. The 60,000 tons of anode materials to be produced at this plant with Gumi-type jobs are enough for the manufacture of 500,000 electric vehicles, and this will significantly reduce our dependence on imported anode materials.
We will ensure that Gumi-type jobs serve as an opportunity to strengthen the overall battery industry ecosystem. Outstanding battery-related businesses, in fields ranging from materials and equipment production to recycling, are concentrated in the Gyeongsangbuk-do region. We will provide assistance for technology exchanges and joint research and development so that the battery industry can advance in tandem with Gumi-type jobs. The region will emerge as the center of the battery industry ecosystem, and the Republic of Korea will play a leading role in the global battery supply chain.
Fellow Koreans, residents of Gyeongsangbuk-do and citizens of Gumi,
Mutually beneficial local jobs are an attempt to find development strategies suitable for the region’s characteristics with local labor, management, civic organizations and governments playing central roles. The mutually beneficial jobs that started in Gwangju are spreading across the country, creating new industries and job opportunities. I hope that Gumi-type jobs will produce another success story of mutually beneficial local jobs. The Government will do all it can to provide support.
Let’s make 2022 the year for a powerful leap forward through the Republic of Korea’s unique way of making innovation mutually beneficial and inclusive.