Policy & Regulation

06 Mar 2021

SK Innovation to Ask U.S. President Joe Biden to Overturn ITC's 10-year Import Ban

06 Mar 2021  by   

SK Innovation said on March 5 that it would ask U.S. President Joe Biden to exercise his veto power over the U.S. International Trade Commission’s recent import ban on its electric vehicle (EV) battery products for 10 years.

SK Innovation issued a statement following the ITC’s release of a Commission Opinion on its ruling about a month ago. The commission reaffirmed that SK Innovation misappropriated trade secrets of LG Energy Solution for its development of EV batteries.

It said SK Innovation did not have the personnel or ability to simultaneously develop all the trade secret technology it misappropriated from LG Energy Solution in less than 10 years.

However, SK Innovation refuted the commission’s view, asserting that it did not need the trade secrets of LG Energy Solution in the first place because its manufacturing method was different from that of LG Energy Solution.

It stressed that it has been developing battery technologies on its own for the past 40 years and signed a battery supply contract with a global automaker as early as in 2011.

Furthermore, it pointed out that the ITC failed to identify specific trade secrets that SK Innovation is accused of having misappropriated from LG Energy Solution. The Commission Opinion, it says, does not give any evidence that LG Energy Solution’s trade secrets have been infringed upon.

SK Innovation notes that LG Energy Solution also failed to identify specific trade secrets misappropriated by SK Innovation. LG Energy Solution designated 22 categories of trade secrets but not any misappropriated trade secrets themselves.

As the scope of the misappropriated trade secrets is difficult to define, the commission ordered that whether a specific SK Innovation product is subject to import ban or not should be determined separately.

Calling the commission’s decision ambiguous, SK Innovation asserts that the 10-year import ban would undermine the competitiveness of the U.S. EV battery industry, unduly restrict competition in the U.S. battery market, and worsen environmental pollution due to a delay in the supply of EV batteries.

It also says the commission failed to fully take into consideration the impact its decision would have on public interest.

The commission allowed SK Innovation to produce batteries in the United States for Ford Motor’s EV F-150 program for four years, and for Volkswagen of America’s MEB electric vehicle line for the North American region for two years.

But Ford and Volkswagen demand that the grace period be extended, arguing that they cannot find a new battery supplier.

SK Innovation says it will bring these problems to the attention of the U.S. president during the Presidential Review period and ask him to exercise his veto power.

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