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SEMI anticipates 20% dip in market performance

Posted: 17 Jul 2008 ?? ?Print Version ?Bookmark and Share

Keywords:equipment market decline? wafer processing? IC test and assembly? U.S. policy reform?

The industry group SEMI reported that the semiconductor equipment market will decline 20 percent in this year, but expects an eventual rebound in equipment sales, with annual growth of 13 percent and 6 percent in 2009 and 2010, respectively. The group represents the manufacturing supply chains for the microelectronic, display and photovoltaic industries.

SEMI North America, the regional division of the association, is meanwhile urging the U.S. presidential candidates to make technology policy a top priority. It cited six key priorities: federal R&D investment; R&D tax credit; solar energy investment tax credit; immigration reform; trade policy; and intellectual property protection.

In its mid-year status report, SEMI executives also said the wafer processing equipment market will contract 21 percent to $25.4 billion; assembly and packaging equipment will decline 14 percent to $2.44 billion; and IC test equipment will drop by 20 percent to $4.04 billion.

Asia markets
Meanwhile, equipment sales to China are projected to increase 1 percent over 2007. The Chinese new equipment market is expected to surpass both the European and "rest of the world" markets this year.

The equipment market in Japan is projected to reclaim the top spot from Taiwan following significant capital expenditure cutbacks in Taiwan this year. The North American market is expected to contract 13 percent. SEMI projects that global equipment sales will reach $34.12 billion in 2008.

Tech policy reforms
As the presidential election approaches, SEMI executives said they want to highlight technology policy issues. "These issues should be a key part of the campaign debate and top priorities for the next administration," said Victoria Hadfield, president of SEMI North America.

The group wants the new administration to double federal R&D investments in science agencies over the next seven years to offset steadily declining U.S. investment in basic research. It also wants the government to expand and permanently extend the federal R&D tax credit as well as a solar energy investment tax credit.

It is also seeking a cap on H-1B high-tech visas and streamlining the path to citizenship for those with advanced technology degrees.

The semiconductor equipment and materials industry is heavily dependent on exports. Hence, SEMI also is seeking revised U.S. export controls that accurately reflect what is said to be the current state of technology, the changing global economic environment and the relationship between semiconductor equipment and national security.

The group is also pressing for patent reform and stricter enforcement of IP protection among U.S. trading partners. In particular, industry groups have been seeking a tougher IP stand against China.

"These are at the minimum starting points for changing current policies to become [more] competitive on the global scale," Hadfield said.

- Nicolas Mokhoff
EE Times

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