President Joe Biden turned his attention to both trade and security concerns as he ended a three-day visit to South Korea on Sunday after Hyundai pledged to invest at least $10 billion in electric vehicles and related technologies in the United States. displayed.
He also said he was not concerned about a possible provocation by North Korea when visiting the region.
Ahead of the visit by US and South Korean troops serving together in the peninsula, Biden said, “Whatever North Korea does, we are ready.”
When asked if he had any news for North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Biden responded curtly.
“Hello,” he said. “Duration.”
It was another sharp departure from her predecessor, President Donald Trump, who once said he “fell in love” with Kim.
Before leaving South Korea for Japan, Biden appeared with Hyundai Chief Executive Officer Yusun Chung to highlight the company’s expanded investments in the United States, including $5.5 billion for an electric vehicle and battery factory in Georgia. .
“Electric vehicles are good for our climate goals, but also good for jobs,” said Biden. “And they’re good for business.”
Chung also said his company will spend $5 billion on artificial intelligence for autonomous vehicles and other technologies.
The South Korean company’s big US investment reflected how the countries are transforming their long-standing military relationship into a comprehensive economic partnership.
To begin his visit, Biden visited a computer chip factory owned by Samsung, the Korean electronics giant that plans to build a $17 billion manufacturing facility in Texas.
Biden prioritized stronger economic cooperation with South Korea on Saturday, saying, “It will bring our two countries even closer, we will work together more closely than ever before and help strengthen our supply chains, which will protect them from shocks and give our economies a competitive edge.” procure.”
The pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February have forced a profound rethink of national security and economic alliances. The coronavirus outbreak has created shortages of computer chips, cars and other goods that the Biden administration says could potentially be addressed with more domestic manufacturing and trusted allies.
Hyundai’s Georgia plant is expected to employ 8,100 people and produce 300,000 vehicles annually. Construction is slated to begin early next year and production to begin in 2025 near the unincorporated town of Ellabelle.
But the Hyundai plant is showing there are compromises, and Biden is pushing his economic agenda.
Earlier in his tenure, the president attempted to tie-in electric vehicle production with unionized workers to automakers. As part of a stalled $1.85 trillion Senate spending proposal, Biden wanted additional tax credits to go to buyers of electric vehicles made by unionized factories. This would have given a boost to the unionized auto plant of General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co. and Stelantis NV at a crucial moment when union membership continues to decline across the country.
During Samsung’s visit, Biden urged Korean companies building factories in the US to hire union workers. In addition to its forthcoming plant in Texas, Samsung has signed an agreement with Stelantis to build an electric vehicle battery manufacturing facility in the United States.
“I urge Samsung and Stelantis, and any company investing in the United States, to partner with one of our most highly qualified, dedicated, and dedicated employees you will find anywhere in the world: members of the American Union,” they said.
So far, there is no guarantee that workers at the Hyundai Georgia plant will be unionized.
Georgia is a “right to work” state, meaning workers may not be required to join a union or receive a union as a condition of employment.
A Hyundai spokesman did not respond to an email asking if the Georgia plant would be unionized. A senior Biden administration official, who spoke to reporters on condition of anonymity, said there was no contradiction between Biden’s encouraging investors to join the union workforce, while his administration is encouraging investment and investment in the United States. He does “what he can” to create jobs.
Ahead of Sunday’s announcement with Hyundai, Biden attended the trade show at his Seoul hotel along with some White House staffers. Biden will also meet with military personnel and families at Osan Air Base and address American and Korean troops. Biden and Korean President Eun Sook Yeol announced on Saturday that they would consider expanding joint military exercises to deter a nuclear threat from North Korea.
Less than two weeks into his presidency, Biden and Yoon’s push toward incarceration marks a shift in leaders from their predecessors. Trump had considered canceling the exercise and expressed affection for North Korea’s Kim. And South Korea’s last president, Moon Jae-in, remained committed to talks with Kim until the end of his term, despite repeated rebukes from the North.
Biden decided to skip visiting the demilitarized zone at the north-south border, a regular stop for US presidents when visiting Seoul. White House national security adviser Jake said instead Biden, who had visited the DMZ as vice president, was more interested in going to Osan, where American and South Korean troops would be “to maintain security in the peninsula.” Where the rubber meets the road”. Sullivan.
Yoon advertised with the promise to strengthen relations between the US and South Korea. He reiterated at a dinner honoring Biden on Saturday that his goal is to take ties “beyond safety” to issues with North Korea that have long dominated the relationship.
Yoon said, “Sir President, I will try to create a new vision for the future of our alliances with you.”
Biden left for Tokyo later on Sunday. On Monday he will meet with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida and set out his vision for negotiating a new trade deal called the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework.
A key theme of the visit, which was Asia’s first as president, is strengthening US alliances in the Pacific to counter China’s influence in the region.
But debate is raging within the Biden administration over whether to lift some of the $360 billion in Trump-era tariffs on China. US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen recently said some tariffs are hurting American trade and consumers more than China.
On Tuesday, Japan will host Biden at a summit for the Quad, a strategic alliance of four nations that also includes Australia and India. After that, the US President will return to Washington.
Associated Press writers Chris Megarian and Darlene Superville in Washington contributed to this report.