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VW, Ford EV battery supplier reaches deal to avoid import ban

WASHINGTON DC (Axios ): Two Korean electric vehicle battery makers have reached a last-minute settlement, saving President Biden from a Sunday deadline to decide whether to intervene in the global trade secret dispute.

Why it matters: The deal between SK Innovation and its rival, LG Chem, “averts a 10-year import ban on SK Innovation Co.’s products and protects thousands of jobs in the politically imp-ortant state of Georgia,” ac-cording to Bloomberg, whi-ch first reported the news.

SK Innovation is the battery supplier for certain Ford and Volkswagen U.S.-built EVs.

Catch up fast: LG Chem had accused SK Innovation of stealing its EV battery technology and hiding the evidence, per Axios’ Joann Muller.

The U.S. International Trade Commission in February sided with LG Chem, restricting SK from importing critical components for lithium-ion batteries for 10 years (with some temporary exceptions).

Prior to the deal, SK said it may have to stop constr-uction of a $2.6 billion battery plant in Georgia, putting at risk the 2,600 clean energy jobs that came with it.

The import ban was set to take effect Sunday, unless President Biden intervened and overturned the ITC decision.

South Korean officials and the Biden administration urged the companies to come to an agreement ins-tead, according to Bloomberg.

Of note: “The settlement will cover not only a ruling by the U.S. International T-rade Commission but also litigation in federal court,” the Washington Post reported. Speeding up domestic EV and and supply chain manufacturing is part of Biden’s climate and jobs push, and the trade dispute threatened to create new headwinds.

Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure plan includes $174 billion to “win” the electric vehicle market.

What he’s saying: Biden in a statement Sunday cal-led the settlement “a win for American workers and the American auto industry.” “We need a strong, diversified and resilient U.S.-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.”

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