Dispute over multi-billion dollar battery plant in Commerce gets resolved

A long running, trade secrets dispute between two South Korean companies has finally been resolved bringing a promised electric battery factory with over two thousand jobs to Jackson County.

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SK Innovation was already deep into construction on a $2.6 billion factory in Commerce last year when everything came to a halt after accusations they stole “trade secrets” from rival LG Energy Solutions.

The dispute came to a head in February when the U.S. International Trade Commission ruled against SKI, but allowed the company a four year window to fulfill contracts with Ford and Volkswagen. Gov. Brian Kemp and other state leaders had been lobbying President Biden to override the ruling for months hoping the massive plant and economic boost to the area could still move forward.

The deadline for overriding the ruling was closing in as negotiations picked up steam. Georgia Sen. Jon Ossoff, US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and South Korean government officials spoke with leadership from SK Innovation and LG Energy Solutions regularly before the agreement was announced Saturday afternoon.

SKI President Jun Kim was ready to put the issue behind him.

“This successful outcome will lead to billions more in investment in Georgia. The state is now positioned to be the nation’s leader in electric vehicle battery production,” said Kim.

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President Biden weighed in Sunday morning on the agreement.

“This settlement agreement is a win for American workers and the American auto industry. A key part of my plan to Build Back Better is to have the electric vehicles and batteries of the future built here in America, all across America, by American workers. We need a strong, diversified and resilient U.S.-based electric vehicle battery supply chain, so we can supply the growing global demand for these vehicles and components - creating good-paying jobs here at home, and laying the groundwork for the jobs of tomorrow. Today’s settlement is a positive step in that direction, which will bring some welcome relief to workers in Georgia and new opportunity for workers across the country,” said Biden.

“A week ago, talks between these companies had stalled and 2,600 Georgia jobs were at risk. My team and I led the effort to re-open negotiations and secure a settlement that has saved the battery plant in Commerce, Georgia, ensuring thousands of jobs, billions in future investment, and that Georgia will be a leader in electric vehicle battery production for years to come,” Sen. Ossoff said.

“Our state attracted this massive $2.6 billion investment because of Georgia’s pro-growth leadership, and I have personally participated in countless meetings, calls, and other conversations to make sure this project and the 2,600 expected jobs continued to move forward. I want to offer a special thank you to local leadership in Jackson County and the city of Commerce, our incredible partners with the government of South Korea both here and in Seoul, as well as the Office of the United States Trade Representative for assisting the two companies through the settlement negotiations process,” said Gov. Kemp.

According to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, SK Innovation will pay LG a $1.8 billion settlement and the two companies will keep the competition friendly moving forward.

Construction to finish the plant continues. There has been no word yet about SK Innovation filling jobs at their plant.

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