Samsung Electronics Co announced investments worth US$1.9bil (RM8.16bil) in two US plants as South Korean President Moon Jae-in prepares for a summit with US President Donald Trump.
Samsung will spend US$1.5bil (RM6.44bil) on its semiconductor factory in Texas and build a US$380mil (RM1.63bil) plant in South Carolina for home appliances. Both investments will be carried out until 2020, according to statements from the company and South Korea’s chamber of commerce.
The announcements come just ahead of Moon’s first summit with the US president, who has been a vocal critic of a free trade agreement and described it as a “a one-way street.” South Korea’s trade surplus with the US has doubled since before the agreement took effect in 2012, even though direct investment in the US rose more than 140% in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year, according to the Export-Import Bank of Korea.
Samsung employs about 3,000 people in its Austin factory and has invested a total of US$17bil (RM73.03bil) since the plant began operating in 1998, according to the company. The Suwon, South Korea-based company has spent US$1bil (RM4.29bil) this year alone to increase its capacity to manufacture chips that power smartphones, tablet computers and other mobile devices.
Samsung Electronics vice chairman Kwon Oh-hyun joined Moon’s delegation along with dozens of executives from companies such as Hyundai Motor Co. In February, Trump tweeted, “Thank you, @Samsung! We would love to have you!,” citing a report that the company might build a US factory to produce home appliances.
The Newberry facility will make home appliances including washing machines starting early next year. Samsung already operates a call center in Greenville, South Carolina, that supports 800 jobs. Samsung began considering expanding its US production base about three years ago and initiated discussions with South Carolina in the fall of 2016.
“Samsung’s investment is great news for South Carolina and the United States, and it is a direct reflection of the fact that America is becoming an even stronger destination for global businesses looking to grow,” US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. — Bloomberg