ATLANTA — Two South Korean electric vehicle battery manufacturers reached an 11th-hour settlement to a trade dispute that was threatening an estimated 2,600 jobs in Georgia.
SK Innovation, which is planning to build a pair of plants in Jackson County, will pay LG Energy Solutions $1.8 billion in exchange for dropping a lawsuit before the International Trade Commission. LG Energy had accused SK of stealing trade secrets and destroying documents.
The Biden administration was facing a Sunday deadline to overturn an ITC ruling favorable to LG that would have hampered SK’s ability to operate plants in the U.S.
“This settlement agreement is a win for American workers and the American auto industry,” President Joe Biden said Sunday. “A key part of my plan to Build Back Better is to have the electric vehicles and batteries of the future built here in America, all across America, by American workers.
“Today’s settlement is a positive step in that direction, which will bring some welcome relief to workers in Georgia and new opportunity for workers across the country.”
Pat Wilson, commissioner of the Georgia Department of Economic Development, said he was “ecstatic” to hear of the settlement.
“When fully operational, SK’s new battery plant in Commerce, Georgia, will not only provide clean energy jobs for thousands of Georgians, changing lives and livelihoods across the region, but will also help the United States continue to become a leader in electric mobility,” Wilson said. “We remain 100% committed to developing the entire electric vehicle supply chain right here in our state.
“I’d like to give special thanks to Governor Brian Kemp for his tireless support throughout this process, to the Office of the United States Trade Representative which helped facilitate the negotiations, and to the Korean Consul General in Atlanta, Young-jun Kim, for his partnership.”
Helping the two companies reach a settlement was a bipartisan effort. U.S. Sen. Jon Ossoff, D-Ga., intervened personally to bring the parties to the table to work out an agreement, according to a statement from Ossoff’s office.
“When the future of the plant was in jeopardy, Senator Ossoff provided leadership and helped us achieve a path forward,” SK Innovation President and CEO Jun Kim said “This successful outcome will lead to billions more in investment in Georgia. The state is now positioned to be the nation’s leader in electric vehicle battery production.”
The two plants, representing a $2.6 billion investment, will employ 1,000 workers by the end of this year. When fully ramped up in 2024, the plants will produce batteries for 300,000 electric vehicles per year, primarily for Ford and Volkswagen.