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South Korea Pledges Support for Chip Industry

FILE PHOTO: A employee works at a clean room of National Nanofab Center in Daejeon, South Korea, September 3, 2020. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji

BNR – On Thursday, South Korea vowed support for its chip industry. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol labelled the industry’s rivalry as an “all-out war.”

Yoon had earlier met with around 60 industry leaders, legislators, and ministers to discuss how to keep South Korea’s memory chip lead. Furthermore, they discussed how to encourage the advancement of system semiconductors as well as secure supplies, machinery, and labour.

“Geopolitical issues have become the biggest risk for companies to manage as of late,” Yoon said in the meeting. “Companies alone cannot resolve this problem; it is one that the nation should tackle.”

The government intends to aid in the expansion of research and development as well as the support of smaller companies. Also, it intends to bolster legal safeguards for chip technology and establish a chip testing facility.

South Korea Balances US-China Chip Dispute

South Korea has attempted to avoid getting involved in a rivalry dispute over semiconductors between China and the United States.

On the one hand, chipmakers such as Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and SK Hynix Inc rely on American equipment and technology. At the same time, trade ministry data show that China accounts for roughly 40% of South Korean chip exports.

When the US imposed limitations on chip-making equipment exports to China last October, it granted Samsung and SK Hynix a one-year exemption. There are manufacturing facilities for both companies in China. As a result, they can import equipment without first obtaining a license.

It is unclear whether the exemption will be extended.

Credit Rating

Fitch Ratings said on Wednesday that the Sino-US chip dispute would not cause major long-term supply disruptions because South Korea would become the primary location for Samsung and SK Hynix investment and technology upgrades.

China manufactures 40% of Samsung’s NAND memory chip capacity. It also makes up 40% to 50% of SK Hynix’s DRAM capacity and 20% of its NAND capacity.


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