President Joe Biden and South Korean conglomerate SK Group announced a new $22 billion commitment to invest in American technology, including the semiconductor industry, green energy and pharmaceuticals.
SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won made the announcement at the White House on Tuesday, though President Biden joined him by video screen as he isolated for his fifth day with COVID-19.
“I'm sorry, as I said, I'm not with you in person, but I wanted to make sure that — to personally thank you for this historic announcement,” Biden told Chey, who he called by his English name, Tony.
The SK Group said it would invest $15 billion in the semiconductor industry, including research and development, materials and a new packaging facility, just as senators on Capitol Hill advanced a bill to boost American investment in the critical microchips.
Chey said the investments would create “tens of thousands” of “highly-paid and highly-skilled” jobs.
“We believe our view [of] the United States as our most important business partner,” he said. “One thing we can work together is building a skillful workforce.”
“That will be the crucial [sic] for ensuring America has the type of worker necessary to lead the next-generation manufacturing economy,” he added.
The South Korean conglomerate had previously announced it would build two electric vehicle battery factories in Tennessee and Kentucky, in a partnership with Ford.
That brings the total SK Group commitment going forward to $30 billion in investment, Chey said.
The chairman on Tuesday also pointed to the group’s intention to spend $5 billion on green energy businesses, such as battery materials and electric vehicle charging systems. They’ll also continue to work with the pharmaceutical industry, including on vaccines.
Foreign investment in the United States bounced back in 2021, the White House highlighted Tuesday.
It topped $333 billion last year, according to the Department of Commerce, the highest since 2016 and with the largest portion of foreign spending going to manufacturing.
The Biden administration also highlighted other foreign spending, such as a $17 billion commitment from Samsung to build a semiconductor facility in Texas and Intel’s $20 billion bet on chip manufacturing in Ohio.