Korea reveals $ 450 billion boost to global chip manufacturing crown

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Story continues At stake is a technology fundamental to groundbreaking advances from artificial intelligence to autonomous vehicles and connected homes. South Korea, a security ally of the U.S. and a major exporter to China, has been walking a tightrope between the two while bolstering its own production prowess. Semiconductors account for the largest share of South Korea’s exports and chip exports are expected to double to $200 billion by 2030, the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy said. Read more: Biden Finds a Key Ally Wary of His Bid to Outpace China on Chips

“Major global competitors are pressing ahead with massive investment to be the first to take the future market,” Moon said in a speech. “Our companies have been taking risks and innovating as well and have completed preparations for tumultuous times.” Samsung is boosting its spending by 30% to $151 billion through 2030 while Hynix is committing $97 billion to expansion at existing facilities in addition to its $106 billion plan for four new plants in Yongin, co-Chief Executive Officer Park Jung-ho said during the event.

The effort comes at a time when the U.S., China and the European Union seek to shore up their semiconductor capabilities after a global chip shortage exposed a reliance on just a handful of Asian manufacturers and hobbled efforts to repair pandemic-scarred economies. The shortages are now spreading from autos to smartphones and displays, elevating semiconductors onto the agendas of governments from Washington to Brussels and Beijing. Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Hynix Inc. will lead more than 510 trillion won of investment in semiconductor research and production in the years to 2030 under a national blueprint devised by President Moon Jae-in’s administration. They’ll be among 153 companies fueling the decade-long push, intended to safeguard the nation’s most economically crucial industry. Moon got a briefing from chip executives on the initiative Thursday during a visit to the country’s most advanced chip factory, a Samsung plant south of Seoul.

Read more: Data Centers Doubling Is Next Driver of Chip Demand, Hynix Says The Korean government will incentivize its domestic industry with tax breaks, lower interest rates, eased regulations and reinforced infrastructure, hoping to see its chipmakers make up the distance from the global leaders, the ministry said. The government will also secure adequate water supply for the next 10 years in the targeted region and reinforce power supplies, both essential to advanced chipmaking factories. Samsung and Hynix make the majority of the world’s memory chips, basic semiconductors that handle storage for all devices. But one area South Korea has been lagging in is the ability to produce advanced logic chips that handle complex calculations for tasks like AI and data processing, a specialty dominated by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which makes Apple Inc.’s iPhone processors. Samsung aims to compete more aggressively in this area, securing some of Nvidia Corp.’s graphics card business and pursuing a bigger share of Qualcomm Inc.’s mobile chips. Hynix too has announced ambitions to get into logic chips.

The government seeks to build a “K-semiconductor belt” that stretches dozens of kilometers south of Seoul and brings together chip designers, manufacturers and suppliers, according to the ministry. Likening semiconductors to rice — a global dietary staple — the ministry called them “strategic weapons” in a race for superior technology intensifying among not just firms but also nations.

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