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Korea draws W1.5tr in investments from US tech firms

Nov. 20, 2023 - 14:56 By Moon Joon-hyun
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol (center) talks with US President Joe Biden (right) during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit at the Moscone Center in San Francisco, Thursday. (Yonhap)

South Korea has secured investment commitments from four major US companies, including General Motors, totaling 1.5 trillion won ($1.16 billion), following President Yoon Suk Yeol's visit to the US for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit last week.

These investments, spanning the automotive and semiconductor sectors, are expected to significantly boost South Korea's exports and reduce imports, contributing to an estimated annual economic impact of over 4.5 trillion won.

The Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy of South Korea publicized these investments Sunday, comprising General Motors, DuPont, IMC and EcoLab. The specifics of each company's investments were not disclosed.

General Motors' decision to invest further in South Korea highlights the success of the government's regulatory reforms and institutional improvements in attracting global investment, the company said.

“South Korea's regulatory reforms and institutional improvements have built our confidence in continuing and expanding our business here,” said Shilpan Amin, vice president of GM’s global purchasing and supply chain.

DuPont, a US chemicals titan, is set to invest over 200 billion won in the expansion of its semiconductor materials and components production facility, as well as its research and development center in Yongin, Gyeonggi Province.

The expansion is focused on producing specialized materials essential for the intricate design printing on chips and ensuring cleanliness and precise shaping.

This venture not only aims to create over 100 new jobs, but also forms part of the Korean government’s broader objective to develop the world’s largest semiconductor cluster in Yongin.

IMC, a global metalworking company and subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway, will invest in a facility in Korea to produce tungsten-based chemicals for semiconductor circuits and tungsten for manufacturing high-strength tools.

Water treatment and silica sols provider EcoLab is set to establish its first overseas plant in Korea to produce high-purity nanoparticles essential for creating compounds used in smoothing silicon wafer surfaces.

"These investments are a big win for our partnership with the US in manufacturing, especially for our semiconductor industry. We're really focused on making our investment climate better, supporting businesses more, and reforming restrictive regulations," said Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Bang Moon-kyu.