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Biden sees ‘win’ for US in electric vehicle battery deal

Two big South Korean electric vehicle battery makers have settled a long-running trade dispute that will allow one of them to move ahead with plans to manufacture batteries in Georgia, a person briefed on the matter said. President Joe Biden called it “a win for American workers and the American auto industry.”

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LG Energy Solution and SK Innovation reached the settlement, ending the need for Biden to intervene in the dispute, the person said Saturday. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the companies had not announced the settlement. No details were available.

The US International Trade Commission 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 US for 10 years.

The decision could have left Ford and Volkswagen scrambling for batteries as they both roll out additional electric vehicle models. 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 jeopardized a $2.6 billion battery factory that SK is building in Commerce, Georgia.

Politicians were calling on Biden to overrule the commission’s decision. Biden had until Sunday night to make a decision.

Biden said in a statement Sunday that building electric vehicles and the batteries needed for them is an important part of his $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan.

“We need a strong, diversified and resilient US-based electric vehicle battery supply chain, so we can supply the growing global demand for these vehicles and components — creating good-paying jobs here at home, and laying the groundwork for the jobs of tomorrow. Today’s settlement is a positive step in that direction,” Biden said.

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