President Joe Biden on Tuesday talked up a South Korean conglomerate’s plan for $22 billion in new investments in U.S. manufacturing, describing SK Group’s decision as a sign of cooperation among allies.
“This pathbreaking announcement represents clear evidence that the United States, Korea and its allies are back and winning the technology competition of the 21st century,” Biden said during a virtual event with the chairman and principal owner of SK Group, Chey Tae-won.
“Today’s announcement has also proved that America is back to working with our allies,” added the president, in an apparent dig at his predecessor, Donald Trump, who was known for upsetting longtime partners of the U.S.
The South Korean company will grow its U.S. workforce from 4,000 to 20,000 workers by 2025, said Biden, who is not doing in-person events after testing positive COVID-19.
Chey, who also goes by Anthony or Tony, said the SK Group’s $22 billion in new investment in the U.S. will be focused on semiconductors, electrical-vehicle batteries and biotechnology.
“This means that SK will invest nearly $30 billion going forward, expanding on our recent announcement of a $7 billion investment in EV batteries,” the executive said, referring to an effort to build two new gigafactories in Tennessee and Kentucky as part of a joint venture with Ford
The announcement by SK Group is “another proof point of the success of the Administration’s efforts to create more resilient and secure supply chains and outcompete the rest of the world in the technologies of the future by investing in American companies and workers and bringing in foreign investment to create good-paying American jobs,” a White House spokesperson said in a statement before the virtual event.
SK Group is involved in a wide range of industries, including energy, chemicals, semiconductors and telecom. The group is privately owned but is one of the biggest conglomerates in South Korea.
Republicans are widely expected to score wins in this November’s midterm elections, thanks in large part to Americans’ frustrations with raging inflation that’s hitting the U.S. economy.
High prices for gasoline
and other essentials are helping to keep Biden’s approval ratings low — and giving a talking point for Republicans to use against the president and his fellow Democrats.