The production value of the nation’s semiconductor industry is expected to grow 16.7 percent this year from last year, outpacing the global industry’s 3.3 percent growth, industry association SEMI said yesterday.
That would help Taiwan safeguard its second spot in the global semiconductor market with a production value of more than NT$3 trillion (US$102.73 billion), SEMI Taiwan president Terry Tsao (曹世綸) told a media briefing in Taipei for the Semicon Taiwan trade show beginning today.
The global semiconductor industry’s production value is expected to increase to US$426 billion this year, SEMI said.
In terms of semiconductor equipment investment, equipment billings from Taiwanese firms rose 10.6 percent to US$8.63 billion during the first seven months of this year, ranking third in the world, SEMI’s tally showed.
China was the largest semiconductor equipment market with investment of US$9.84 billion during the January-to-July period, surging 45.2 percent from a year earlier, data showed.
South Korea came next with semiconductor equipment investment soaring 54.1 percent to US$9.49 billion.
“The COVID-19 pandemic does not slow down the global semiconductor industry’s investment in manufacturing equipment,” Clark Tseng (曾瑞榆), director of the industry research and statistics unit of SEMI Taiwan, told reporters.
North America-based manufacturers of semiconductor equipment last month posted US$2.6 billion in worldwide billings, up 32.5 percent annually, after hitting the highest level in about two years in July, Tseng said.
The global semiconductor equipment market is to climb to US$65 billion this year and rise further to US$70 billion next year, SEMI said.
The forecast did not take into account the US’ export restrictions on Huawei Technologies Co (華為) and potential sanctions against China’s biggest chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp (SMIC, 中芯).
The US-China trade dispute would pose a greater threat to semiconductor supply chains over next two to three years if SMIC and other Chinese companies were to be placed on the US’ entity list restricting US semiconductor equipment suppliers from selling equipment to Chinese companies, Tseng said.
SMIC accounted for 30 percent of China’s semiconductor equipment market, he said.
The company has spent an average of US$3 billion to US$5 billion a year on new equipment over the past few years, he added.
The Chinese chipmaker has revised up its capital spending for a second time to more than US$6.7 billion this year to buy as much equipment as possible before being blacklisted by the US, Tseng said.
Tseng’s comments echoed those of ASE Technology Holding Co (ASE, 日月光投資控股) chief operating officer Tien Wu (吳田玉), who also spoke at the media briefing.
Wu said that rising protectionism, “parallel universes” and remote connections are three major challenges awaiting the global semiconductor industry in the post-COVID-19 era.
“Parallel universes” means that the world has divided into two camps that do not communicate with each other and differ in regulation, Wu said, implying that the world is divided into Chinese and US camps with different regulations, manufacturing materials and design systems.
Commenting on rebuilding the global semiconductor supply chain amid the US-China trade dispute, Wu said that it takes time for corporate executives to come up optimal decisions, given greater uncertainty of the external environment.
ASE and its semiconductor peers have the ambition to reshape the supply chain, he said.
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