Battery builders’ settlement in South Korea relieves Biden of the dilemma

Two South Korean electric vehicle battery manufacturers settled a long-running dispute with a € 1.5 billion settlement. The Biden government, among others, has urged SK Innovation and LG Chem to come to an agreement, as their fight showcases his ambitions to electrify the US auto fleet.

The Commission on International Trade, a fair international trade agency in the United States, sanctioned SK Innovation in February with a 10-year ban on importing its batteries into the United States. This followed complaints from rival LG Chem about stealing trade secrets to produce batteries for electric cars. Now LG Chem is settling the damages to be paid partly in cash and partly in royalties from SK Innovation.

The import ban left Joe Biden’s dilemma. As part of his tremendous investment in the US economy, he promised to do a lot to attract more people to drive with electricity. Additionally, there will be 6,000 jobs for Americans at risk in Georgia, as SK Innovation has planned a production line for electric vehicle batteries. Ford and Volkswagen have also indicated that their production of electric cars will be delayed without batteries from SK Innovation.

The US Trade Envoy, Catherine Tay, acknowledged that the deal was concluded after “substantial participation” by the government. Biden had until Sunday to cancel the ITC decision himself. But this would cause a loss of face on the world stage, as it would erode patent protection. Meanwhile, job losses in Georgia are politically sensitive. One of the state’s Democratic Senators will be contested in the midterm elections next year.

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