SK plants in Commerce

SK facilities under construction in Commerce.

Senior staff leaders with Sen. Raphael Warnock's office told the Jackson County Area Chamber of Commerce board on Friday that the new Georgia senator is working every day to convince the Biden Administration to overturn the ITC's ruling on SK Battery.

Warnock's chief of staff Mark Libell said the senator would be meeting with President Biden during the president's visit to Atlanta March 19 and the SK issue would be discussed. 

The president is the only person who can overturn the ITC's ruling against SK Battery, which it found had stolen information from rival LG Chem to make its battery design for electric vehicles. The trade board sanctioned SK in February by limiting the scope of its battery production.

Biden has until April 10 to overturn the ITC ruling against SK. For its part, SK has threatened to abandon its Commerce plants, and a promised 2,600 jobs, if the ruling isn't overturned.

Libell said the senator's office had spent more time on the SK issue than any other since he took office in January. The office has been in on-going contact with both SK and LG about the ITC ruling and a possible resolution. It's also had discussions with the White House and other various federal agencies about the issue.

But Libell said one of the frustrations in the matter is that SK seems to have "put all its eggs into one basket," meaning that it is expecting the president to overturn the ruling.

Libell said the thought that was a "very risky strategy."

He said he thought SK should be negotiating with LG to settle the issue outside of government intervention. But he noted that the two South Korean rivals "hate each other" and that getting them to settle might be difficult.

Libell said that discussions with LG leaders led him to believe that regardless of the ultimate outcome, if SK did abandon its Commerce plant, LG would step in to either take over the facility to make batteries, or perhaps build another plant to fulfill SK's EV battery contracts.

"The best thing for everyone would be a settlement," Libell said.

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