Biden welcomes SK Group plans to invest $22 billion in U.S. high-tech sectors

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -President Joe Biden on Tuesday welcomed plans from South Korea’s second-largest conglomerate SK Group to invest $22 billion in new investments in the United States in semiconductors, green energy and bioscience projects.

During a meeting at the White House with SK Group Chairman Chey Tae-won, Biden called the investment consequential.

He said it showed that the “United States, Korea and its allies are back and winning the technology competition” of the 21st century.

The investments are in semiconductors, green energy, and bioscience, “creating tens of thousands of new high-tech, high-paying American jobs,” SK said in a statement.

They will come in addition to its $7 billion investment to build two new gigafactories in Tennessee and Kentucky as part of a joint venture with Ford Motor, it added.

Biden said some 613,000 manufacturing jobs had been created in the United States since he came into office. The White House has been eager to emphasize the strength of the labor market amid fears by some of a broader economic downturn.

Company executives and administration officials met in the White House Roosevelt Room, while Biden appeared virtually from the White House residence as he continues to recover from COVID-19. He said he was feeling great.

SK Group plans to invest $15 billion in the semiconductor industry through research and development programs, materials, and the creation of an advanced packaging and testing facility.

It will spend another $5 billion on other green energy businesses, including electric vehicle (EV) charging systems, green hydrogen production, battery materials and recycling. Additionally it will invest ‘several billions of dollars’ in biotechnologies, the company said in the statement.

The $22 billion announced Tuesday is part of the $52 billion SK’s chairman said last year it planned to invest in the United States through 2030.

In May, SK Group said it will invest 247 trillion won ($195.24 billion) in the semiconductor, battery and biopharmaceutical sectors over the next five years in South Korea and overseas.

(Reporting by Steve Holland, David Shepardson, Jeff Mason and Jack Kim; Additional reporting by Heekyong Yang and Joyce Lee; Editing by Andrea Ricci)

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