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Taiwan DRAM makers demand tariff against Hynix chips

Posted: 22 Apr 2003 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:hynix semiconductor? dram chips?

Taiwan's leading memory makers are banding together to win government support for a tariff against DRAM chips made by Hynix Semiconductor Inc., following in the footsteps of companies in the U.S. and Europe.

Nanya Technology Corp., Powerchip Semiconductor Corp., Winbond Electronics and Mosel Vitelic, Inc., agreed to file a joint petition with the Taiwan government, which should issue a preliminary ruling within two to three months, followed shortly after by a final decision.

If the memory makers win their case, it would likely have little impact on Hynix, which ships less than 10 percent of its products to Taiwan. Of greater consequence, would be penalties assessed in countries like China, Malaysia and Mexico, where computers are assembled. None has shown interest in pursuing tariffs.

The Taiwan action comes amid pending decisions in two other key markets for Hynix, which is accused of receiving government subsidies, by way of bailouts from state-owned banks, which have allowed it to survive in the cutthroat DRAM market despite massive debts. Hynix has denied the claims.

A Nanya executive said that the "chance is high" of the government ruling in favor of a tariff. "The government is under a lot of pressure because of U.S. and European rulings," said Charles Kau, a Nanya VP.

The "time is right" to file the complaint, he added, because Hynix is starting to channel more chips into Taiwan and other Asia-Pacific markets as a result of those earlier rulings.

Kau said he could not yet place a monetary figure on the damages caused to Taiwan memory makers as a result of the alleged subsidies. He said the chipmakers will submit a report with that information by the end of this month.

A few weeks ago, the U.S. Commerce Department said it would assess a 57-percent duty on imported DRAM made by Hynix after a preliminary determination that subsidies had been given.

The U.S. decision came shortly after the European Commission told members of the European Union that it would suggest a duty of up to 35 percent on Hynix chips. An official preliminary ruling on the tariff should come at the end of this month. In the U.S., a final decision on the tariffs isn't expected until mid-summer.

The case was initiated in November by U.S. memory giant Micron Technology Inc., which accused Hynix of benefiting from $11.7 billion in subsidies as part of three bailout deals during the period lasting from January 2001 to June 2002.

Mike Clendenin

EE Times

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