Asia, Business & trade, New in Lobbying, US-China tensions

South Korean semiconductor Co. hires third lobby firm as US scrutiny grows

The US subsidiary of a major South Korean semiconductor company has hired its third lobbying firm as chip makers face mounting scrutiny from Washington. SK hynix America, the US subsidiary of SK hynix, hired Invariant to lobby on “general trade and investment issues.” The registration was effective April 11.

Nicole Venable, the firm’s Democratic strategist, is the sole lobbyist registered on the account. She is a former lobbyist for the US Chamber of Commerce and ex-chief of staff for Rep. William Jefferson, D-La.

SK hynix America spent more than $2.3 million on in-house lobbying in 2019. In the first quarter of 2020 alone, the company’s in-house lobbying arm spent more than $1.1 million to lobby more than a dozen federal agencies and offices on “general trade and investment issues.”

The US subsidiary already had two outside lobbying firms. Squire Patton Boggs was brought on in March 2018 and was paid $390,000 last year and $290,000 in the first quarter of this year; Harbinger Strategies, which has lobbied on the account since November 2018, was paid $200,000 in 2019 and $50,000 in the first quarter of 2020.

Chinese communications giant Huawei reportedly makes up 14% of SK hynix’s sales. In May, the Donald Trump administration banned chipmakers using US technology from supplying the Chinese company without a license from the federal government.