By Kim Young Deok and Kim Minji
President Moon Jae-in on Jan. 9 said, "I will make the battery industry successful and have it contribute to enhancing national competitiveness in the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution."
At the signing ceremony for GS Engineering and Construction's investment in a special regulation-free zone in Pohang, Gyeongsangbuk-do Province, the chief executive pledged to stimulate the regional economy and use regulatory innovation to create next-generation industries.
His visit to Pohang was his first to such a zone since stressing the importance of regulatory innovation in his new year's address on Jan. 7.
Since the province in July last year was designated as such a zone for recycling next-generation batteries, the government has sought to accelerate innovation using a substantiation exception, a regulatory sandbox that permits testing without regulation. Under its investment agreement, GS will invest about USD 100 billion until 2022 to build a battery recycling facility in Pohang's Blue Valley National Industrial Complex.
On the investment in rechargeable batteries, a high value-added industry, the president said, "It is the largest investment among the country's 14 special regulation-free zones and the first by a large corporation."
He expressed optimism over the project, saying, "It will definitely be an opportunity for Pohang's economy to take a new leap."
Citing higher demand for batteries due to smartphones, electric vehicles and energy storage systems, the president said, "In 2025, (the battery market) will grow and exceed that for semiconductors," adding, "The production and processing of batteries for electric vehicles have risen in importance as the government plans to have 33% of new vehicles be eco-friendly by 2030."
He also announced a plan to designate more such zones this year and inject public funds into the zones' technological development and commercialization to enhance their innovative capacity.