South Korea group announces $22 billion investment in US on semiconductors, tech

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South Korea’s huge SK Group said Tuesday it will invest $22 billion in semiconductors and other high-tech areas in the United States, giving President Joe Biden a boost in his push to revitalize domestic cutting-edge manufacturing.

The announcement came just before a virtual meeting between the conglomerate’s chairman, Chey Tae-won, and Biden to “discuss plans to strengthen US supply chain resilience, and address climate change and the spread of communicable viruses,” SK said in a statement.

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Chey “will announce that SK Group plans to increase its new investment in the United States by $22 billion in areas including semiconductors, green energy, and bioscience, creating tens of thousands of new high-tech, high-paying American jobs,” the statement said.

“This is in addition to SK’s recently announced investment of $7 billion to build two new giga factories in Tennessee and Kentucky as part of a joint venture with Ford Motor Company.”

The White House said Biden’s video meeting with the SK Group chief would see the two “discuss the company’s robust investments in American manufacturing and jobs.”

According to a White House spokesman, SK Group’s growing commitment reflects a push to rebuild US-based manufacturing and supply chains, which have been severely disrupted by fallout from the global Covid-19 pandemic shutdowns.

“From the beginning of his administration, President Biden has focused on an American industrial strategy to rebuild our infrastructure and our supply chains here at home, drawing good-paying manufacturing jobs back to America,” the spokesman said.

“This announcement by SK Group is also 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,” he added.

The Department of Commerce says that foreign investment reached nearly $334 billion in 2021, the peak since 2016. Manufacturing accounted for the biggest share of any industry, at $121 billion.

The Biden administration is pushing Congress to quickly pass a proposed $52 billion subsidy package for boosting domestic semiconductor manufacturers, warning that reliance on foreign producers amounts to a national security risk.

Speaking Monday to senior economic and national security staff, as well as representatives from manufacturers and a trade union, Biden said government backing for domestic producers means the United States will “be able to stay in the game.”

“Congress must pass this bill as soon as possible,” he said, citing both the economic and national security “imperative” of securing production of the tiny components needed for everything from smart phones to cars and weapons.

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