Expert: U.S. “intimidation” of semiconductors is counterproductive

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo convened major semiconductor manufacturers and European and American car companies for a semiconductor summit in late September, and at the meeting asked semiconductor companies to fill out a questionnaire detailing sales, products, technologies and inventory. They also threatened to invoke the Cold War-era Defense Production Act (DPA) to force them to cooperate. “Bloomberg” (Bloomberg) columnist Gao Canming (Tim Culpan) wrote a critical article on October 14, pointing out that this incident highlights that the US government is out of touch with reality, and Washington needs to open communication channels with other countries. At this time, intimidation will be counterproductive. Infuriating Taipei, Seoul and Beijing.

Gao Canming pointed out that the U.S. government hopes to complete the survey by November 8. There are 26 questions on the questionnaire, ranging from the unremarkable “What is the (general) application of the semiconductor products and integrated circuits you purchased?” The top three current customers for each product, and the estimated percentage of sales for that product per customer.”

Critics say the U.S. aims only to suppress China’s growing power. Taiwan and South Korea, despite being U.S. allies, also reacted quickly to protect their leading companies: TSMC and Samsung Electronics from leaking classified information.

Gao Canming said that some of the responses are too exaggerated. This questionnaire is actually a standard tool used by the US Department of Commerce to understand the situation. It is completely voluntary. It is not necessary to invoke the “National Defense Production Act” to force cooperation, and it is probably not applicable to foreign countries. company.

Gao Canming analyzed that, waiting for the final report to be compiled and analyzed by the questionnaires, it is likely to be the end of the year, and I am afraid that it is not time-sensitive. Semiconductors are one of the fastest-moving fields in the global economy. For example, TSMC’s inventory often rises or falls by more than 20% in just a few months, and new products are launched with the latest technology every quarter or two. It has said that alleviating the shortage of automotive chips is the company’s “top priority” and that it is shifting production capacity to solve the problem of chip shortages.

The U.S. government can gather information from this survey, likely from industry groups or some sell-side research. For example, the auto industry accounts for only 4% of TSMC’s sales and has barely budged in three years, which is public information in every earnings report.

Gao Canming said that the last data compiled by the US Department of Commerce may show that some buyers have been hoarding chips, but the matter has been widely reported, or some technology nodes need production capacity, which is well known in the rapidly changing world of semiconductor supply and demand. , these are for retrospective purposes only.

In order to respond immediately, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced last week the creation of an early warning system to “assist the Interagency Supply Chain Disruption Task Force to coordinate U.S. government resources and help resolve supply chain bottlenecks caused by the epidemic.” However, the notification method required by the Ministry of Commerce is: please send an email.

Trying to solve short-term incidents with manual processes is difficult for the teaching profession to take seriously. The chip industry processes massive amounts of supply chain data to make adjustments in every aspect of its operations. Much of this data is automated through global systems provided by commercial software vendors SAP and Oracle.

Gao Canming said that this is the part that the United States should develop and utilize. Mainland China is unlikely to be willing to participate, but in Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and the European Union, there may be like-minded partners willing to work with companies in their region to send data to a central database, but only if everyone has equal access to the information right.

Gao Canming finally pointed out that one of the biggest mistakes of Washington during the chip shortage is to act as if the United States is the only victim, and the needs of the United States exceed the needs of anyone else. If it really wants to solve this problem and prevent it from happening, Washington should What it does is go back and create connections and show the world that it’s ready to create a global solution.

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