Remarks by President Biden in Meeting with the SK Group on Investments in American Manufacturing and Jobs
2:19 P.M. EDT
MR. DEESE: Hi, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: How are you?
Hey, Tony. How are you, pal?
MR. CHEY: Hello. Yes, really good to see you.
MR. DEESE: So, Mr. President —
THE PRESIDENT: I should be sitting immediately to your right. I’m only a couple hundred yards away. I apologize I’m not there. (Laughter.)
MR. DEESE: Yeah, Mr. — Mr. President, thank you for — thank you for joining us.
And as you know, we have the — we have the delegation from SK here. We’re — we’re thrilled to have you here at the White House and to discuss this very significant announcement of investments that SK is making today.
With your permission, Mr. President, I will just turn the floor to Chairman Chey to brief you and update you directly on the announcement that they’re making today. And then we can get into the conversation.
THE PRESIDENT: It’s a big announcement. Take as long as you need, Tony. (Laughter.)
MR. CHEY: Thank you. Yes, good afternoon, Mr. Biden — yeah, President Biden. I know I speak for the people of the South Korea in wishing you the speedy recovery.
And I would like to express that my sincere gratitude for this opportunity to discuss our current and future cooperation in manufacturing critical technologies in the U.S.
Thank you also, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo and Director of the National Economic Council Brian Deese, for your support of our investment in United States.
We are also grateful for the strong partnerships we have formed across your — the administration, in Congress, and in many state government — yeah — that have helped make our investment happen.
So, tomorrow we will commemorate 69 years since the end of the Korean War. So, the American and Korean relationship is deep and longstanding. Our countries fought side-by-side during the terrible conflict, and now we have worked side-by-side to build the technologies and infrastructures that will power the 21st century economy around the world.
So, SK’s commitment to grow and invest in Korea is enduring. But today, though, we are here to talk about the investment in U.S. So our cooperation will make the supply chain in both our countries more resilient in critical technologies. And the SK Group commitment to the United States runs deep, and we have backed that commitment with $22 billion of investment in U.S. in recent years.
Today, we are announcing another $22 billion in new investment in the U.S., so including the major investment in semiconductor EV batteries and biotechnology.
All this means that SK will invest in nearly $30 billion going forward, expanding on our recent announcement of $7 billion investment in EV batteries.
And so, SK will invest the half of our total investment amount in the U.S. in semiconductor ecosystem. Well, this money will fund R&D programs in partnership with the leading American universities and restoration advanced packaging (inaudible) in the U.S.
Well, this initiatives will contribute to developing the next generation of memory chips, which will benefit the entire U.S. high-tech industry.
So, President Biden, we share your commitment to green energy. In addition to our new EV battery factories in Georgia, we will — we will be investing more — $7 billion more out of the total, our JV investment amount — up to $14 billion — to build two new gigafactory in Tennessee and Kentucky as a part of our joint venture with the Ford Motor Company.
So we will invest an additional $5 billion in other green energy businesses, including the ultra-fast EV charging system, the green hydrogen, and battery materials, recycling, and also small modular reactors.
Also, our investment will expand our facility in the U.S. in bioscience and biopharmaceutical sectors. We believe our initiatives will contribute to strengthen the U.S. supply chain resilience and to address the climate change.
So we are sincerely grateful to your administration’s continued support in our shared prosperity.
Thank you, Mr. President.
THE PRESIDENT: Thank you, Tony, and to your delegation. This is — as someone once said in a similar circumstance, this the big deal. (Laughter.) This is really, really consequential.
And, you know, 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.
You know, 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.
For folks at home, the SK Group is the second-largest conglomerate in South Korea. And since I’ve been President, it has made significant investments in United States.
SK has already committed $30 billion in investment here, and today they’re announcing another $22 billion in addition. That’ll grow their U.S. workforce from 4,000 to 20,000 workers by 2025, investing in a range of advanced technologies, some of which Tony already mentioned, from semiconductors to large-capacity batteries, to electric vehicle chargers, and to pharmaceuticals.
And partnering with iconic American company, like Ford and Intel, it’s just incredible. Further proof that America is open for business. Proof that we’re meeting the emergency and the climate crisis with urgency and opportunity and innovation to save the planet and create good-paying jobs to benefit both our countries.
We’re investing more than $1 trillion in the United States to modernize our infrastructure, including 500,000 electric charging stations across America.
Since I came to office, we’ve seen more than $200 billion in private sector energy investments in electric vehicles, advanced batteries, and semiconductors. Construction of overall manufacturing facilities in America has increased by 116 percent. And this is only going to add to that, Tony. Thank you.
And the construction in America means jobs for Americans. Since I’ve been in office, the economy has created 613,000 overall manufacturing jobs — just manufacturing jobs.
Today’s announcement is also proof that America is back to working with our allies.
By uniting our skills and innovation, we will be able to manufacture the technologies that create the critical changes that are needed both for our — for both our countries.
During my visit to South Korea in May, when I got to sit at the table across from Tony — and it was a crowded room — I toured Samsung’s campus with President Yoon, and I saw how the factory there is manufacturing advanced semiconductor chips and is committing $17 billion to build a similar factory here in America.
In Seoul, I met with the Chairman of Hyundai, and we announced — as we announced $10 billion in new investments in America — American manufacturing, including a $5.5 billion investment for an advanced automotive factory near Savannah, Georgia, where — where SK is also going to be investing and create — creating more than 8,000 jobs.
In the past, these kinds of technology investments went to China. Today, under my administration, these technology investments are coming to the United States. We’re talking about some of the most significant investments we’ve ever seen in our country.
America is the key destination for advanced technologies, and it’s the kind of — it’s that kind of proactive engagement that reminds me one of the benefits of investing in the United States, and that is the opportunity to partner with some of the most highly skilled, dedicated, and engaged workers in the world: American union members.
Now, look, just yesterday, I met with members of my economic and national security teams and CEOs and labor leaders to highlight the urgency of getting the bipartisan CHIPS Act to my desk.
And today, the Senate took a very important bipartisan step to get us closer. They, in fact — they, in fact, met the cloture requirement, and getting that bill to my desk is much closer now. Because this really matters.
Let me — let me close with this: You know, Tony, you and your team, I want to thank you for being here at the White House. And again, I feel so badly — I’m so close to you, but because I’m in the last day of having been diagnosed with COVID — I’m feeling great; I hope it comes across that way as well. I hope I look as great as I feel here.
But you know — and you’re — (laughter) — well, you know what I mean. That sounded off a bit. (Laughter.) I never look that good. I hope I look as good as I usually do, which is not that good. (Laughter.)
Hey, look, but — (laughs) — but I want to thank you again for being at the White House and for your investment in American workers, our greatest resource.
And, Tony, as you begin the rest of the meeting today, what more do you think we can do to keep this momentum going?
MR. CHEY: Thank you, Mr. President. And it is really my pleasure being here even though you’re not in person with me, but close enough. (Laughter.)
THE PRESIDENT: I can walk out on the balcony and holler to you. (Laughter.)
MR. CHEY: But you certainly don’t have to sell us on investing in the U.S. because we already committed about $30 billion and $22 billion in a pipeline.
THE PRESIDENT: Yep.
MR. CHEY: Well, we created tens of thousands of highly paid and highly skilled jobs. But we believe — our view is the United States is our most important business partner. But one thing we can work together is building a skillful workforce. That would be the crucial for ensuring that America has a type of worker necessary to lead the next generation — the manufacturing economy.
So, we will work closely with the state and community colleges to help ensure that workers know what they need to know to lead jobs in our facility. The federal, state, and the local coordination, and the deep investment in job training, would help other companies to find the skillset they need and invest more in — here in U.S. as well.
So we look forward to working with you, Mr. President, and — on advancing the workforce, the training in the coming years.
That’s one thing. But here is another things that I want to mention to you as well: I’d like to actually emphasizing some partnerships among the company and the nonprofit organization in U.S. and Korea. So we believe the collaboration among the organization of the two countries will motivate them to invest more across the border.
So, for example — I will give you some — some examples that SK worked closely with Novavax as a — the pharma — U.S. pharmaceutical company to develop the produ- — produce the COVID-19 vaccine.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
MR. CHEY: So, as a result of the co-investing in R&D and the production capacity.
One other example is, as a recent matter, is SK is also partnering with the Gates Foundation and the University of Washington to develop the new COVID vaccine. This is a new one.
THE PRESIDENT: Yes.
MR. CHEY: So this is a kind of proven collaboration model that can booster the investing in the U.S.
So, Mr. President, and we look forward to working with you — this fostering such a kind of partnership with you.
THE PRESIDENT: Well, it is a partnership. And we’ve been partners a long time. And — and as we — I think about it, I can remember the pictures of my uncle — anyway, from people being sent from Korea back home when I was a kid, about (inaudible) partners a long time.
And, look, one of the things that I promise you we’re going to do is we’re going to continue to invest in the education side of this to have — so you have the best trained, the best equipped workers in the world. I really mean it. And particularly with regard to our community colleges, which have great assets to bring to the — bring to bear.
And I think that — I just see this as the beginning of — of so many more things we can do. And I can see that — that the Secretary is smiling, and she thinks it’s the beginning too. And I’m going to leave it to you guys to talk about.
But anyway, thank you, all three of you. And again, I apologize for not being with you. Next time you come, I’m going to force you to have lunch with me in the Oval Office so you can see what we — what I don’t do. You know? I mean, the Oval Office is lovely, but we — I got — I’m all the way over here; I can’t even be near you.
So at any rate, thanks again for everything. I look forw- — I really mean this: The way you treated our delegation when we’ve gone to Korea, to the Republic; the way you’ve — we’ve hung together on foreign policy as a matter of domestic and economic policy — I know that’s not your responsibility. But your — but your country has stepped up as an enormous, enormous asset and ally.
So thank you, thank you, thank you.
2:36 P.M. EDT