WASHINGTON – Two big South Korean electric vehicle battery makers said Sunday they have settled a long-running trade dispute that will allow one company to move ahead with plans to manufacture batteries in Georgia. President Joe Biden called it “a win for American workers and the American auto industry.”
The agreement between LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation ended the need for Biden to intervene in a case closely watched for its implications on Biden's clean-energy agenda, which includes a sharp increase in the number of electric vehicles as part of his plan to address climate change. Biden had until Sunday night to make a decision, following a ruling in February by a trade commission.
The companies said in a joint statement that SK will provide LG Energy with a total of $1.8 billion and an undisclosed royalty. They agreed to withdraw all pending trade disputes in the United States and South Korea and not assert new claims for 10 years.
“We have decided to settle and to compete in an amicable way, all for the future of the U.S. and South Korean electric vehicle battery industries,” said Jun Kim, CEO and president of SK, and Jong Hyun Kim, CEO and president of LG Energy.
The companies pledged to work together to strengthen the EV battery supply chain in the U.S. and support the Biden administration’s efforts to advance clean energy policies, including electric vehicles.
The U.S. International Trade Commission had decided in February that SK stole 22 trade secrets from LG Energy, and that SK should be barred from importing, making or selling batteries in the United States for 10 years.
The decision could have left Ford and Volkswagen scrambling for batteries as they both roll out additional electric vehicle models, a priority for the companies and for the Biden administration. SK has contracts to make batteries for an electric Ford F-150 pickup truck and an electric Volkswagen SUV.
The commission said SK could supply batteries to Ford Motor Co. for four years and to Volkswagen AG for two years. The decision had jeopardized a $2.6 billion battery factory that SK is building in Commerce, Georgia.