A Georgia story that is flying under the radar has both economic and national security implications for the country. This is from the Atlanta Business Chronicle:
“The future of a huge new Georgia electric vehicle battery project is uncertain after the February 10th federal ruling. South Korea based SK Innovation is almost finished building the first of two plants in Jackson County, Northeast of Atlanta, to make batteries for electric vehicles. The company planned to start pilot production of the first battery plant in the first half of this year. The second Georgia plant was expected to begin mass production in 2023. The 2.6 billion dollar project, which was announced in November, 2018 and broke ground in 2019, promised to create 2,600 jobs while cementing Georgia's place as the Southeast US hub for the electric battery and vehicle market.
But on February 10th, the US International Trade Commission issued a ruling on a long running trade secret and patent dispute between SK Innovation and another huge South Korea company, LG Energy, in which LG Energy alleged SK Innovation has stolen its technology.
LG Energy charged that SK Innovation had engaged in trade secret theft by hiring away dozens of its engineers, manufacturing and critical business service staff. The commission's decision blocks the importation, domestic production, and sale of SK Innovation batteries for electric vehicles that rely on LG Energy solutions trade secrets.
The ruling provided a limited exception to allow SK Innovation to supply Ford Motor Company with electric vehicles for its EV F-150 pickup trucks for four years; the Volkswagen for its North America region for two years. Governor Brian Kemp called on Joe Biden to overturn the International Trade Commission's ruling saying it'll hurt Georgia significantly. There's a 60 day window for presidential review, during which time the Biden administration may overturn the finding.”
This is a bad day for all of us here in Georgia with 2,000 jobs lost in the state and a $1.7 billion investment down the drain. It was a job creation project in the green energy sector, right as Joe Biden had killed the Keystone XL Pipeline to placate the environmentalist.
You would think Biden would want to salvage this because Georgia is a state where Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff have gotten elected. There are political considerations for the Democrats here with Warnock back on the ballot in two years. If Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff don't have the political clout with a Democratic President to be able to get this decision reversed, they will help contribute to the loss of over 2,000 jobs in Georgia. Does Raphael Warnock really want that going into 2022?
You can imagine the ad campaign:
“Raphael Warnock could not convince Joe Biden to save 2,000 green energy jobs in Georgia. The Biden administration, not only killed the Keystone XL Pipeline, putting energy sector employees out of work but killed SK Innovations Factory, which would have created 2,000 green jobs in Georgia. Why doesn't Raphael Warnock have the clout? Because Raphael Warnock really is a nobody in Washington. Let's elect somebody. Let's put David Purdue back in Washington”.
The ad writes itself. I came up with this off the top of my head on radio this morning. This is going to hurt Warnock, but there's a national security threat here as well.
In the rollout of 5G and beyond, there is one South Korean company that continues to partner and entangle itself with Huawei, the Chinese company that every Western power acknowledges is rolling out 5G in a way that China can control it and spy on everyone else. That company is LG. LG is the only one of South Korea's mobile carriers partnering with Huawei. It continues to use Huawei, even as the United States, Great Britain, and other world powers are pressuring all of the Western powers to stop. This would be the same LG that is going after SK Innovation.
Do you want to scuttle SK Innovations’ ability to build batteries in this country and give a win to a company that is continuing to do business with China, in an area that Western powers are increasingly concerned about Chinese global innovation for authoritarian purposes? Or do you publicly rebuke the US International Trade Commission and reject its findings because you're saving over 2,000 jobs and in part, helping a company that refuses to step away from China.
If the U.S. is really serious about dealing with the national security problem that is China taking the lead 5G, why give LG a win when they refuse to walk away from China? To give LG a win on this would not only kill jobs in Georgia and set back Biden’s green initiatives, it would bolster a company that provides China whatever it needs to be happy.
The Biden administration should take a strong stand here to protect American jobs and send a signal that companies who continue to collaborate with China's authoritarian build out 5G are not going to have a seat at the table.
You would think Raphael Warnock and Jon Ossoff would be all over this and they, at this point, are not. I don't think Jon Ossoff even has a chief-of-staff yet.