business

S Korea eyes investing $854 mil annually in chip supply chain after Japan's export curbs

13 Comments
By Kim Coghill

South Korea will seek to invest 1 trillion won ($854.41 million) annually in developing home-grown materials and equipment used to produce micro-chips, a senior ruling party lawmaker said on Wednesday, after Japan tightened curbs on exports of some high-tech materials to the country.

Japan said on Monday it would tighten regulations on exports of materials used in smartphone displays and chips to South Korea amid a widening dispute over South Koreans who were forced to work for Japanese firms during World War Two.

"We are doing a preliminary feasibility analysis (on the investment)," Cho Jeong-sik from the Democratic Party told reporters after meeting with officials from the presidential office and government ministries to discuss a response to Japan's decision.

The export curbs could hamper production of South Korea's chip giants Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix as the two chemicals targeted are essential, analysts say.

Data firm IHS Markit said on Wednesday the Japanese trade restrictions against South Korea would add to global trade tensions. Asian exporters are already being strained by a prolonged slowdown in the global electronics sectors.

"A reduction or elimination in the availability of these materials will significantly impede the production of memory and other semiconductor chips, impacting major semiconductor manufacturers including Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix," Len Jelinek, executive director of semiconductor research at IHS Markit, said in a note.

Japan's industry minister said on Tuesday that its decision to tighten controls was not in violation of World Trade Organization (WTO), rebuffing South Korea's earlier claims.

Cho, the South Korean ruling party lawmaker, shrugged off criticism in local media that the government is not laying out countermeasures swiftly. But he did not provide further details on the nature of the spending.

Shares in South Korean chip materials makers jumped after the government's spending plan was made public.

Shares of Ram Technology and Ocean Bridge, local firms producing chemicals used in chip manufacturing process, rose as much as 20% and 15%, respectively.

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13 Comments
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This is part of an industrial model that actually works. The outsourcing and construction of "global supply chains" that the West foolishly started to engage in from the 80s onward is a model of mediocrity and stagnation.

I read today the biggest private sector employer in the US is....Walmart.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Very smart move by South Korea. They will probably have trouble catching up with the advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment (i.e. produced by Applied Materials and TEL) but will certainly be able to produce other needed materials and equipment.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Samsung engineer is speaking. "Mass production of high quality materials", do you think it can be done easily? Have it your way. Be careful not to cause an accident. do not forget "Kumi hydrofluoric acid leak accident".

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Where are they going to take the money from? Government doesn't have any money. They have to take the money from the banks, that means there will be less money for the private sector to borrow. So, less investment in the private sector in exchange for propping up one company. Why is their government even involved in this? The Chinese government was not involved in helping Huawei. The SK government should stay away and not help Samsung. Every time they help one company, they are doing it at the expense of everybody else, and that's why their entire economy is dominated by 4 or 5 big monopolies.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Indeed pupil Abe is following his sensei's footsteps, to a similar folly. Trump's war on Hwawei just means that Hwawei will develop its own versions of the technology (eg Google's Android) suddenly forbidden by the US. Every other manufacturer in China will be thinking just how reliable is it to use US imported technology? Now to resolve a wartime dispute Japan is denying exports to Korea.

Korea today, who is it tomorrow? Who can trust the reliability of contracts with a country that suddenly cancels them shouting 'security!'. Answer, no one.

-3 ( +2 / -5 )

There is no need to worry. Money will get the other country blackmailed as usual.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

I would only say good luck with that since SK has very little chemical industry mostly relying on Japan to provide the mid product within the supply chain so they can focus on the end products that can gain the most profit.

Basically if SK starts dispersing their efforts, it means less centralization of funds dispersing funds into multi-faucets resulting to not enough funds for each projects leading to less results with longer lead times.

The exact opposite strategy of what SK had utilized in the past.

Will the leaders be patient enough to wait for progress?

Don't think so.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Who can trust the reliability of treaty/agreement with a country that suddenly cancels them.

Answer, no one.

Sounds familiar

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Where are they going to take the money from?

Easy, they'll just sue a few more Japanese companies...

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Sorry, but I think Japan is right. South Korea should stop bullying Japan with the excuse of facts happened almost one century ago, and already fixed decades ago with a treaty. I guess this decision will hurt Japanese firms too, sure. But also South Korea sueing Japanese companies eternally hurts Japanese economy. At least Japan is giving a signal that won't accept passively South Korean crap about the same old topics anymore, and not only Japanese firms, but also Korean firms will be hurt to some extent. Anyway, I just read that South Koreans are boycotting Japanese products. I wonder what Japan is waiting, boycott idiotic kpop in the first place, like China did. Sometimes these actions are necessary to avoid worse consequences. Maybe (maybe) South Korea will learn something, but I doubt it.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

Opinion of Japanese legal experts on the verdict of S. Korea Supreme court regarding forced wartime labor:

http://justice.skr.jp/estatement.html (Enlgish)

http://justice.skr.jp/statement.html (Japanese)

It is basically a matter between civilians, not between nations. While S. Korea government hesitates to intervene the civilian legal issue, the Abe administration actively tries to control private-sector companies for their political purpose, even without consent.

Nevertheless, a recent trend around the world is that political demagogues instigate hatred among people for election, and it has been quite successful so far.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

It is right that they spend the money and the time become self-sufficient.

Howver, they should always remember those that helped to get them where they are, regardless of politics or personal biases and interests.

It is also important to remember that without what happened in history, in the past, this opportunity would not have come. It can be a positive thing for S Korea as well as Japan.

S. Korea, regardless of WWII, it was the US and Japan that helped you to be where you are today.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Regarding the Supreme Court decisions, it all depends on the S Korean constitution and laws (created by their legislators / politicians) and the legal perspective. One thing seems apparent is that their civil and criminal system is not as "separate" and divided as it seems and that their courts can only decide on the "merits" of the claims made without "representation" of the "accused". If there was representation, we certainly know nothing about that.

However, we also know that their foreign minister and the entire government is ready to "act" on the basis of such decision bringing the Japanese government to "intervene". Which in essense means it is an issue between the two governments. It is inevitable that the Japanese government must react to protect its citizens (both corporate entiry and individuals) rights.

The only way was to react economically, as this decision by S Korea affects Japan and Mitsubishi economically.

It will be interesting if Mitsubishi decideds to remove all of their operations from S Korea and also stop their OEM trades with S Korean companies. There is still a huge market for Mitsubishi in the rest of Asia.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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