Business leaders from the Republic of Korea and the United States, relevant government officials from Korea and the State of Georgia,
I have come to SK Innovation’s Electric-Vehicle battery plant in Georgia as it is a symbol of our bilateral friendship and cooperation on cutting-edge technology. SK Innovation’s first plant began test production here in March, and its second plant is being built. I can sense the hard work, enthusiasm and pride of workers at every corner of the plant. This facility in Georgia will now become a key supplier of EV batteries in America. As it enhances the competitiveness of the electric vehicles produced in the United States by Ford, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Kia, SK Innovation itself will also ascend to a higher level through the American market.
I extend congratulations and encouragement to SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, executives and staff of SK Innovation and its partners, Governor Brian Kemp, Senator Jon Ossoff, Senator Raphael Warnock, Representative Andrew Clyde and the relevant Georgia State officials. All of you are ushering in the future for mutual benefit.
Even amid difficulties caused by COVID-19, local workers have done their best, making it possible to minimize the suspension of the plant’s operation. I am especially grateful to everyone for their hard work. I look forward to our two countries continuing to cooperate and advancing together in many more cutting-edge fields.
After rejoining the Paris Agreement upon its inauguration, the Biden Administration is hastening America’s transition to a low-carbon economy. As the supply of electric vehicles increases rapidly in the United States – the world’s second-largest automobile market – it is becoming critical to build a stable supply chain for batteries, a key component.
Korean companies are the best partners in the battery field. When it comes to the production and performance of small batteries, they have maintained the world’s No. 1 position over the past decade. They have also more than tripled their global market shares for the medium- and large-scale batteries used in electric vehicles, approaching the top spot globally.
It is a good chance for both countries to promote shared progress. SK Innovation has invested US$2.6 billion in its battery plant in Georgia. A total of 2,600 new jobs will be created in the State of Georgia, and Korean companies’ competitiveness will be enhanced thanks to the export of battery equipment and materials.
SK Innovation also announced a plan to establish a joint venture with the Ford Motor Company. Their US$6 billion joint investment will help stabilize the supply of batteries for 600,000 electric pickup trucks every year. Through a joint venture with General Motors, LG Energy Solution has also invested US$4.6 billion to build new EV battery plants in Ohio and Tennessee.
Intergovernmental cooperation will also be strengthened. President Biden and I discussed promoting mutual investments and jointly developing technology. If the U.S. Government can provide various incentives for investments in battery production facilities, it will help increase relevant investments.
It is not just batteries. Korean companies are already firmly joining forces with American partners in the areas of semiconductors and future cars. Samsung Electronics will invest $17 billion to expand its semiconductor production base in the United States. Hyundai Motor Group will invest $7.4 billion to increase its electric vehicle production capacity, thereby helping develop the U.S. hydrogen industry ecosystem. We will expand cooperation in many more cutting-edge industries to take the lead globally.
Eight Asian Americans, including four ethnic Korean women, were killed in the Atlanta shootings in March. I would like to express my deepest condolences to the deceased and their bereaved families.
I am deeply grateful to the U.S. Government for handling this case fairly and decisively. It is very fortunate that President Biden signed into law the COVID-19 Hate Crimes Act on May 20. The Korean Government will also work closely together with the U.S. Government and Korean American organizations to prevent hate crimes related to racism.
The State of Georgia has always moved toward the future. The world’s busiest airport Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International was built atop the railroads cut off by the Civil War, and cotton fields were transformed into one of the most business-friendly cities in the United States. To date, 113 Korean companies have taken root in Georgia. They have invested US$6.9 billion in total and created about 10,000 jobs. They have contributed to the advancement of Georgia’s economy together with the Korean-American communities.
Today, SK Innovation’s newly expanded presence here marks the beginning of a novel alliance in this state-of-the-art industry. I hope that companies and people in both nations play vital roles in pursuit of the American dream.