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US law threatens global chip supply chain

US law threatens global chip supply chain

US law threatens global chip supply chain

The semiconductor industry operates on a globalization model, but the US chip law is like a wall disrupting supply chains.

One day in June, Taiwanese chip giant TSMC had to send a team to Japan to find out why its partner Screen Semiconductor Solutions was consistently late for meetings. Few companies in the world can produce chemical cleaners in chip factories, so TSMC could not immediately find a replacement partner. But when they arrive in Japan, the group finds things are more complicated than they thought. Screen Semiconductor Solutions suffers from a shortage of plastic valves, pipes, pumps and tanks that are handled by another partner.

Gaps in the global semiconductor supply chain

follow up FTTSMC’s story illustrates one of the critical weaknesses of a chip supply chain built on a globalization model. Just one link in an affected country can bring the entire chip industry to a standstill. Over the years, manufacturers have always tried to ensure that every part of the supply chain runs smoothly and seamlessly. But now, the $52 billion CHIP bill could stall that machine, putting the entire industry at risk of large-scale disruption. This isn’t just a problem for US, Chinese or Korean chip companies, it’s a global problem.

At Intel's chip factory in Oregon, USA.  Photo: Intel

At Intel’s chip factory in Oregon, USA. See: intel

The $52 billion funding package will only affect the bottom end of the supply chain. Before that, there was a long supplier network with hundreds of raw materials, chemicals, gases and metals, without which the complex process of chip manufacturing would not work.

Nike Asia With the global semiconductor industry operating seamlessly across two dozen countries, “local” efforts exacerbated the problem.

For example, in the chip industry alone, the supply of valves and semiconductor tubes for chemical processing requires many partners, such as CKD, Japan’s Advance Electric and Integris of the United States are sufficient valve suppliers. Japanese company Iwaki is a leader in chemical handling pumps; Agri from Austria and Georg Fischer from Switzerland operate critical pipelines for wood chip mills.

Sinai Wang Li, a researcher from China’s Ministry of Commerce, cited international labor-sharing cooperation and high market demand as important factors behind the industry’s rapid growth. Even if China or the US wanted to build their own “supply chain,” they acknowledged that it would be impossible and would leave chipmakers in a difficult position.

A Dutch spokesman for ASML, Europe’s largest semiconductor maker, warned that the US chip rule would force the company to “choose a side” between China and the US and disrupt global semiconductor supply chains.

Possible risks

According to experts, operating a semiconductor industry chain requires many factors such as manpower, talents, logistics and energy. The US once hoped to become the “new chip fab” after several companies announced huge investments to build and expand factories. In fact, however, the construction of the TSMC factory in the United States has been delayed due to the local labor shortage. Recently, Intel faced a human resources challenge. edge Intel says it takes 7,000 workers to operate the “world’s largest chip factory” in Ohio. This is a serious problem given the labor shortage in this occupation in the United States.

A Boston-based chipmaker advisory group estimates that semiconductor companies could be hit harder if the US implements a “technology embargo” policy. They expect to lose 18 percent of global market share and 37 percent of sales.

follow up BloombergThe U.S. chip law is like a double-edged sword, and even Intel, a pioneer in sponsoring the law, still faces many risks. In order to receive government subsidies, they have to promise a lot. In addition to being banned from doing “big deals” related to increasing chip production in China or elsewhere for 10 years, they must make promises to the government on a number of issues, such as: B. Raising wages and improving the lives of workers. levels. These costs will be two levels that will weigh on American companies.

Mr. Simon HH Wu, president of Taiwan chip supplier Sun Fu Chemical, fears that if companies act, the era of free trade could be over.

“There is always something being imported and transported to another country or continent. If there is no phosphate rock, how to get phosphoric acid when making chips? If there is no fluorine, how can it be made? Fluoropolymer production.” We cannot move these resources to one country,” said Mr. Wu. Nike Asia.

According to analysts, the country cannot control the semiconductor supply chain 100%. This cannot happen and “trade restrictions” like the US Chip Act will only serve to significantly disrupt the entire industry.

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