Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC, 台積電), the world’s top chipmaker, would not give the US Department of Commerce confidential customer information, majority stakeholder the National Development Fund (國發基金) said yesterday.
National Development Council (NDC) Minister Kung Ming-hsin (龔明鑫), who oversees the fund and is a TSMC board director, told legislators at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei that although the chipmaker could provide the industry more insight into chip shortages during its quarterly board meeting, it is bound by confidentiality agreements not to disclose sensitive details.
US Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo on Thursday last week said that her agency was asking chip suppliers to fill out questionnaires by Nov. 8 to help it alleviate chip supply bottlenecks and identify possible hoarding.
Legislators were seeking to know if TSMC could be forced by the US to surrender confidential information, such as a customer list, chip inventory and production plans, which would compromise its technology and business.
Kung said he would seek to better understand the situation before forming an opinion on the nature of the US’ requests.
The council later released a statement saying that the requests are aimed at all companies in the semiconductor supply chain, not just TSMC, and that response is voluntary.
Companies can decide whether the questions encroach on confidential agreements, the council said, adding that TSMC has indicated it would not reveal any commercial secrets.
TSMC said the government has been supporting the company, adding that it would seek additional government help if needed.
As the world’s No. 1 pure foundry service provider, TSMC makes chips and builds capacity according to customers’ demands, meaning that it does not stack inventory.
To alleviate global chip shortages, TSMC said it has taken “unprecedented actions to address this challenge.”
The chipmaker has increased output of microcontroller units — key components in automotive semiconductor products — by 60 percent from last year, it said.
The company made the remarks after participating in a White House meeting last week aimed at tackling chip crunch.
“Increasing demand visibility in this complex supply chain should be the path to avoid such shortages from happening,” the company said.
The chipmaker also said it is confident that its capacity expansion plan including an advanced 5-nanometer semiconductor fab in Phoenix, Arizona, would enable it to support the industry in driving long-term stability in semiconductor supplies.
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