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Samsung in talks to build S. Carolina factory

June 24,2017
Samsung Electronics is likely to build a U.S. home appliances factory in Newberry, South Carolina, a move sparked by earlier comments from President Donald Trump.

The Wall Street Journal reported Thursday in the U.S. that the Korean electronics giant is in late-stage discussions to expand its U.S. production facilities with an investment of about $300 million. The likely location is a facility soon to be vacated by U.S. heavy equipment maker Caterpillar’s packaging plant for generators. The facility is 150 miles from the port of Charleston.

Once completed, Samsung is expected to direct some of the oven range production from its Mexico facility with likely expansion to producing refrigerators, washers, dryers and other home appliances.

While the newspaper reported the investment could generate 500 jobs, it didn’t report an exact start date for production.

The Korean headquarters of the smartphone maker also declined to comment on the issue.

“Negotiations are ongoing but nothing has been finalized yet,” a Samsung spokesperson said.

Though discussion is reported to be in its late stages, the paper also acknowledged that there is a chance the deal may fall through between Samsung and South Carolina officials, however it is “unlikely.” Final discussion over incentives and other matters are ongoing with U.S. state officials flying to Seoul for a pitch to Samsung.

Other media reports say Samsung’s official announcement of the plan could be made as early as next week.

President Moon Jae-in is scheduled to visit the U.S. on an economic mission with a delegation of 52, all of whom are representing Korean business. Moon will also visit Washington to meet Trump for the first time during the visit.

Samsung, along with a list of other Korean companies, has been directly pressured by the Trump administration to build a U.S. factory. Amid speculated media reports that Samsung would build a U.S. factory earlier in the year, Trump declared it as fact with a tweet that read, “Thank you, @samsung!,We would love to have you!”

While Samsung hasn’t been clear when and where it will build its U.S. factory, Seo Byung-sam, head of Samsung’s home appliances division had briefly mentioned the company is “reviewing under a perspective there should be a production base in the U.S. in the longer term,” during a press briefing in March while introducing its new washing machines in Korea.

“Setting up a production base is part of a strategy in the manufacturing industry to enhance global competitiveness,” Seo said then. “We will announce details [of building a U.S. factory] at another time when talks are finalized.”

Then, a Samsung spokesperson told the Korea JoongAng Daily the company has been reviewing the plan to build a U.S. factory since the fall, before Trump took office.

Samsung’s Korean counterpart LG Electronics has already announced plans to build a washing machine factory in Tennessee in February. The company will spend $250 million to construct a factory that is expected to provide 600 full-time jobs in the area.


BY KIM JEE-HEE [kim.jeehee@joongang.co.kr]