US Senator Debbie Stabenow on Thursday said that she had contacted Taiwan’s representative to the US regarding a global shortage of auto chips, which she considered to be the result of a reduction of shipments from a major Taiwanese semiconductor company.
“US manufacturers of automobiles, home appliances and other products are being forced to shut down a line or a plant temporarily because of a single company in Taiwan, which has reduced its shipments of semiconductors to our manufacturers,” Stabenow told a confirmation hearing for Katherine Tai, US President Joe Biden’s nominee for US trade representative.
The Democratic senator from Michigan said that she had raised the issue with several people in Biden’s administration and also with Representative to the US Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴).
Hsiao told reporters in Washington that she had explained to several members of the US Congress, who had expressed similar concerns, that chip manufacturers in Taiwan were last year forced to reallocate production due to a sharp drop in orders, as automakers anticipated poor sales amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
It was a decision made by the private sector, she said, adding that chip manufacturers in Taiwan are working to increase production to meet market demand.
US-Taiwan Business Council president Rupert Hammond-Chambers said that Stabenow’s remark on the issue was “incorrect and misleading.”
The chip shortage facing US automakers is “primarily a function of the industry itself miscalculating its production needs,” Hammond-Chambers said in a statement on the council Web site.
“The absence of enough chips to run US plants is absolutely not a function of any deliberate punitive action by a Taiwanese company,” Hammond-Chambers said. “It is instead the result of US manufacturers failing to order enough chips.”
Over the past few weeks, the US has sought help from Taiwan, home to the world’s largest contract chipmaker, to alleviate the shortage of auto chips.
In a letter dated on Wednesday last week, US National Economic Council Director Brian Deese broached the issue with Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua (王美花), the White House said.
Earlier this month, more than 30 Taiwanese business leaders took part in a virtual discussion between the US and Taiwan on enhancing supply-chain cooperation and development goals in the semiconductor industry.
However, no agreement was reached on how to quickly alleviate the shortage of automotive semiconductors, Wang said.
Biden on Wednesday signed an executive order to review global supply chains used by four key industries to prevent shortages of semiconductors, medical equipment and other products.
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