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Report: Taiwan should reassess chip regulation with China

Posted: 24 Apr 2007 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:Taiwan chip regulation? 0.18um technology? semiconductor equipment?

The U.S.-Taiwan Business Council's semiconductor Q1 report calls for Taiwan's reassessment of its chip regulation with China. According to the report, Taiwan is simply moving too slow on technology issues, and needs to find a way to reduce the political sensitivity surrounding its decisions on semiconductor investment and technology transfer to China.

It is a noteworthy achievement though that Taiwan followed through on its promise to allow local chipmakers to transfer 0.18?m technology to China, but this step really should have been taken a year ago, according to the report.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. Shanghai became the first Taiwan chipmaker to win approval to use 0.18?m processes in China, while ProMOS and Powerchip still have to apply for permission to use the technology.

The report also cited that Intel Corp.'s recent investment of $2.5 billion on a 12-inch plant in China should be a wake up call to Taipei. Taiwan chipmakers are nowhere near winning approval for such high tech fabs in China, and at the current pace they are not likely to see such approval until 2015, when it is far too late.

The council's report stated that Taiwan needs to reassess its chip industry regulations with regard to China, regulations that actually expired at the end of 2005 and have not yet been formally replaced. The chip industry is in Taiwan to stay, and it will continue to grow. However, current regulations are having the adverse effect of helping Chinese chip foundries instead of helping Taiwan chipmakers.

In addition, the report recommended that the Taiwan government should make all haste to finish its internal discussions and crafting of new regulations on leveraged buyouts in the chip industry, thereby paving the way for the potential Carlyle Group purchase of Advanced Semiconductor Engineering (ASE). A swiftly finished deal would not only show off the ability of Taiwan companies to build attractive, global businesses, but also shows that the island is friendly to leveraged buyouts, which stand to greatly increase the value of its stock market and economy.

The Carlyle proposal for ASE has already increased the value of the Taiwan Stock Exchange, despite the fact that a formal offer has not yet been made and the government has not given its okay on such a deal.

Lastly, the council suggested that U.S. semiconductor equipment vendors should take advantage of the up to $12.7 billion market for their machinery in Taiwan this year and that U.S. companies should look carefully at their R&D and chip fab needs, and consider partnering with local chipmakers.




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