US President Joe Bien (AFP-Yonhap)
More chaebol groups are expected to join a business roundtable meeting held on the sidelines of summit talks between Presidents Yoon Suk-yeol and Joe Biden later this week in reflection of the growing presence of Korean businesses spending big in the US recently.
The US president is scheduled to arrive in Seoul on Friday for his three-day state visit. His summit talks with Yoon are set to be held on Saturday.
Even though full details of his itinerary still remain under wraps, expectations are already high for his possible meeting with local business leaders.
According to industry sources on Monday, a Korea-US business roundtable meeting is expected to be held on Saturday following the summit, with Korea’s Industry Minister Lee Chang-yang and his US counterpart Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo jointly presiding over the event.
The nation’s top five conglomerates -– Samsung, SK, Hyundai Motor, LG and Lotte -– and several others like defense and energy specialist Hanwha, solar power firm OCI and internet company giant Naver have reportedly been invited.
The event comes after the nation’s big four chaebol groups announced a combined 44 trillion won ($34 billion) investment plan in Washington last May following a summit between Biden and former President Moon Jae-in.
“This year, there may not be a joint announcement like the one made last year,” an industry official said on condition of anonymity. “Individual companies are likely to share more details of their planned investments or progress underway upon the president’s visit.”
Most of the invited companies to the meeting are those doing business in the fields of chips, electric vehicles and batteries where Biden aims to reshape his country's supply chain strategy.
More details of Samsung’s $17 billion foundry plant in Taylor, Texas, are likely to be unveiled during Biden’s stay, with its ground-breaking ceremony set to be held in the coming weeks.
Hyundai Motor is said to announce its plans to build its first car plant solely dedicated to EVs, worth $7 billion, in the US state of Georgia.
Both SK and LG are investing heavily to elevate their production capacity of EV batteries in the US, a burgeoning EV market, in close partnerships with US carmakers.
Last week, Lotte announced it would acquire a biomedicine plant from US drug giant Britol Myers Squibb for $160 million in its renewed push for biopharmaceutical manufacturing.
Hanwha and OCI are supplying key parts and modules in the US solar power market. Hanhwa also plans to build a 1.4 gigawatt solar power module plant, worth 200 billion won, in the US.
Discussions are still underway about whether Biden will join the meeting in person. Depending on the US president’s attendance, chaebol groups are expected to decide on their leaders’ participation.
In a parliamentary speech on Monday, President Yoon said that he will discuss ways to enhance “economic security” in his summit with the US president, citing global supply chains and the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, a US-led strategic economic initiative, as key agenda items.
By Lee Ji-yoon (firstname.lastname@example.org