SEOUL – Gov. John Bel Edwards’ economic mission to Asia shifted to South Korea Thursday, with the governor meeting with executives of Lotte Chemical, a leading Korean investor in Louisiana. Lotte has major manufacturing facilities in the Lake Charles area and is considered a significant economic development partner in Louisiana’s Southwest Region.  

Discussions with Lotte executives explored the company’s ongoing success in Louisiana, the productive role of the state’s skilled workforce, prospects for continued expansion in Calcasieu Parish and the company’s commitment to carbon-reduction processes in Louisiana and across its entire international corporate structure. The governor expressed his desire for more companies to follow in Lotte’s successful footsteps by choosing to do business in Louisiana and committing to a cleaner energy future. The Louisiana team was hosted by Lotte Chemical President and CEO Gyo-hyun Kim, along with vice presidents of several company divisions.  

“Louisiana has enjoyed a long and beneficial trade relationship with the Republic of Korea, and we are happy to strengthen our economic development ties here with companies such as Lotte Chemical,” Gov. Edwards said. “Louisiana exported $4.9 billion worth of goods to South Korea in 2022, and our total imports were valued at $1.35 billion. Opportunities abound for continued economic activity between our two countries, and we are working actively with Korean companies to launch or expand their operations in our state.”   

In recent years, Lotte Chemical marshaled $3 billion in capital investments through a series of expansions in Lake Charles, creating 265 new direct jobs in the process. The company developed a $1.9 billion ethane cracker at its manufacturing complex, with Westlake Chemical as a minority investment partner. Lotte also built a $1.1 billion monoethylene glycol manufacturing plant and moved its U.S. headquarters to Lake Charles from Houston. The complex was dedicated by Gov. Edwards, South Korean government officials and Lotte Chemical executives in 2019. 

“Thanks to Louisiana government support, Lotte Chemical successfully completed our massive investment of ethane crackers and derivatives in Lake Charles,” Kim said. “It was a significant investment and meaningful step forward to secure this strategic footprint in the U.S. Lotte has been exploring investment opportunities in not only the expansion of our existing assets but also green business, including clean hydrogen and ammonia; electrolyte solvent, an essential battery material; and carbon capture, utilization and storage in the U.S. We look forward to Louisiana’s continued support for our future investments as we work together towards sustainable growth for both parties.” 

Thursday’s meetings at Lotte World Tower highlighted the first full day of activity in South Korea for the Louisiana trade mission delegation led by Gov. Edwards. The group flew to Seoul Wednesday after starting the week in Japan. The governor is joined by Louisiana Economic Development Secretary Don Pierson and members of the governor’s staff and LED’s Office of International Commerce and Business Development. 

On Friday, Gov. Edwards will visit Kumho Tire, which announced plans in January for a new 350,000 square foot warehouse and distribution facility in St. Mary Parish. Later, the governor will meet with U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Philip S. Goldberg.