|Lotte Group Chairman Shin Dong-bin, left, and Hanwha Group Chairman Kim Seung-youn|
By Baek Byung-yeul
Chiefs of Lotte, Hanwha, Naver and OCI will likely join a business meeting with U.S. President Joe Biden that will take place on May 21 during his three-day visit to Korea, according to industry sources, Monday.
The U.S. Embassy sent an invitation to companies on May 13 for the business roundtable in the name of U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo, the sources said.
The U.S. president is scheduled to visit here from May 20 to 22 and will have a summit with newly inaugurated President Yoon Suk-yeol on May 21. The business roundtable will take place at a hotel in downtown Seoul on the morning of the same day.
Four major conglomerates ― Samsung, SK, Hyundai Motor and LG ― are expected to attend, but companies including Lotte and Hanwha have also been added to the list. There is also a possibility that companies will be added or changed depending on future discussions, according to the sources.
It is known that the invitation did not specify the names of the company's participants, which means it is unclear whether the heads of the conglomerates will attend the event.
Regarding the business meeting with the U.S. president, spokesmen for Lotte and Hanwha declined to answer, both saying they were working on the issue internally.
But an industry official said, "Chances are high that the chiefs of each conglomerate could attend the meeting in person given that they did so when Biden's predecessor, former President Donald Trump, visited Korea in June 2019."
At the business meeting, they are expected to discuss ways to strengthen mutual cooperation between the two countries. It remains to be seen what kinds of investment plans will be announced during the U.S. president's official visit to Korea.
The conglomerates are intensifying their investments in the U.S., as Samsung announced it will build a chip factory in Texas, Hyundai Motor also looks to build an electric car factory there and LG and SK are actively establishing battery factories in the U.S.
In addition to the four conglomerates, Lotte is increasing its biotechnology-related investments aggressively in the U.S., and Hanwha and OCI are supplying core components and materials for the solar energy market there.
During a summit between President Yoon's predecessor Moon Jae-in and Biden held in the U.S. in 2021, Korean companies announced investment plans totaling 44 trillion won ($34 billion).