Lotte Group chairman Shin Dong-bin met with U.S. President Donald Trump at the White House on May 13 (local time), becoming the first South Korean business leader to hold such a meeting.
The face-to-face meeting took place following the completion of Lotte Chemical’s 3.6 trillion-won (US$3.1 billion) ethylene plant in Louisiana on May 9.
The U.S. president gave an extraordinary welcome to Shin by inviting him to the Oval Office.
"Great to welcome Chairman Shin from Lotte Group to the WH," Trump tweeted. He posted a photo of himself, seated at the Resolute Desk, talking with Shin. He praised Lotte’s large investment: "They just invested $3.1 BILLION into Louisiana-biggest investment in U.S. EVER from a South Korean company, & thousands more jobs for Americans."
Trump added: "Great partners like ROK (Republic of Korea) know the U.S. economy is running stronger than ever!"
During the meeting, Trump reportedly appreciated Lotte’s large investment in the United States and asked about the products to be produced at the new plant.
Shin introduced Lotte’s global businesses to Trump, including its investment in Lotte New York Palace, New York's most iconic hotel. Trump reportedly said Lotte’s acquisition of the hotel was “a good investment.” Shin also explained his plans to make an additional investment in the Louisiana plant.
Lotte Chemical plans to produce 1 million tons of ethylene per year at its Lake Charles, Louisiana, plant, bringing its ethylene production capacity to a total of 4.5 million tons a year. Depending on the U.S. market situation, Lotte plans to increase the plant’s production capacity by 400,000 tons.
Lotte Chemical holds a 88 percent stake in the Louisiana plant, with the remainder owned by its U.S. partner, Westlake Chemical Corp.
Shin refused to discuss his meeting with Trump, simply saying that they talked about "various things."
In a congratulatory message for last week's plant completion ceremony, Trump hailed the investment as a victory for both nations and a testament to the strength of their alliance.
He also noted that the plant is one of the biggest investments in the U.S. since the launch of his administration in early 2017.