SEOUL, March 13 (Yonhap) — Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp has asked U.S. President Joe Biden to overturn a U.S. trade panel’s decision against SK Innovation Co. in a trade secret case over electric vehicle (EV) batteries.
Kemp repeated his request to save thousands of jobs in northeast Georgia directly tied to an SK Innovation’s EV battery plant in Commerce, Georgia, in a letter to Biden on Friday (U.S. time).
SK Innovation has been building a plant in the U.S. state of Georgia, to be completed by 2022, to provide EV batteries to Ford Motor Co. and Volkswagen. It is also building its second plant at the site and has pledged to hire 2,600 people by 2024.
“The livelihoods of thousands of Georgians are now in your hands,” Kemp said in the letter.
He asked Biden to disapprove the U.S. International Trade Commission’s recent ruling on the grounds that “It is contrary to the public interest and will seriously jeopardize your administration’s environmental and economic goals.”
Last week, the commission said SK Innovation misappropriated trade secrets of its South Korean rival LG Energy Solution Ltd. for its development of EV batteries.
The commission also said it is clear that SK Innovation would not have been able to gain the knowledge in the stolen trade secrets from LG Energy Solution in anything less than 10 years.
SK Innovation claims it does not need LG Energy Solution’s trade secrets as its development and manufacturing method of EV batteries is different from LG Energy Solution’s.
The commission’s opinion came about a month after it ruled in favor of LG Energy Solution in a trade secret case and issued a 10-year import ban on some lithium-ion batteries and their components by SK Innovation.
Still, the commission permitted the shipment of components as a limited exception to allow SK Innovation to produce batteries at the plant for Ford Motor Co. for four years and Volkswagen AG for two years.
SK Innovation has expressed regret and said it will strongly ask Biden to exercise his veto power over the commission’s decision.
The commission’s decision could jeopardize SK Innovation’s promises to create American jobs and complicate Biden’s push to expand EV adoption under his Green New Deal initiative.
The Biden administration has 60 days to review the ruling. Unless Biden vetoes the ruling, it becomes final.
LG Energy Solution suggested it could run the SK Innovation’s plant in Georgia in partnership with an outside investor in an apparent attempt to ease Kemp’s concerns on potential job losses.
LG Energy Solution “is prepared to do whatever we can to help the people and workers of Georgia,” CEO Jong Hyun Kim said in a March 10 letter to U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“Multiple investors and manufacturers … will be interested in the Commerce plant due to increased demand for electric vehicle batteries,” Kim said.
On Friday, LG Energy Solution said it will invest 5 trillion won (US$4.5 billion) by 2025 to expand its battery production capacity in the United States to meet growing demand in the key market.
The battery subsidiary wholly owned by LG Chem Ltd. said the investment will increase its U.S. manufacturing capacity to 75 gigawatt hours (GWh) and help create 10,000 jobs, including 6,000 subcontractors.
LG Energy Solution operates a lithium-ion battery factory in Michigan and is building a new factory in Ohio through its joint venture with U.S. automaker General Motors, which will be completed in 2022.
The South Korean company said its joint venture with GM will select a site for a second factory that will be similar in size with the first factory in the first half of the year.
LG Energy Solution, which provides batteries to Tesla and a number of global automakers, said the investment is aimed at catering to growing demand and contributing to the Biden administration’s Green New Deal initiative.