The Korea Herald


S. Korean minister to discuss cooperation on chips with US

By Song Su-hyun

Published : Nov. 8, 2021 - 16:27

    • Link copied

(Yonhap) (Yonhap)

South Korea’s Industry and Trade Minister Moon Sung-wook will discuss measures to strengthen the country’s cooperation with the United States on ongoing supply chain issues, at a time when the US is asking chipmakers to reveal their trade secrets.

Minister Moon is scheduled to depart for Washington, DC, on Tuesday, to meet with his US counterpart, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, the government said Monday.

The list of agenda items includes issues like supply chains, reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and cooperation on nuclear power projects.

Among all, the snarls in the automotive semiconductor supply chain are expected to top the list, considering the timing of the minister’s US trip.

Moon’s visit would coincide with the deadline for global chip manufacturers and their customers to submit documents in response to a list of questions on how they produce chips, manage their inventories, as well as their production processes and client information.

The US Commerce Department had requested such information from chip suppliers and customers on Sept. 24, inviting tens of companies to an online conference. That included Korea’s Samsung Electronics.

The US department made the request voluntary, but it was interpreted as a demand many foreign chipmakers operating in the US felt they had to comply to.

More than 20 chipmakers, including Taiwan’s TSMC, US’ Micron and Israeli Tower Semiconductor, have submitted their documents.

As of Monday afternoon, Korean chipmakers Samsung and SK hynix had yet to hand in the documents.

Both companies maintained that they are preparing the documents, but said they are working on ways to prevent disclosures of sensitive information of their customers. The firms have until Tuesday afternoon to file the documents.

The Korean companies had been in close talks with the government to follow the US’ request in a manner that would not risk the firms’ sensitive trade secrets.

In September, Minister Moon met with top executives of the Korean semiconductor industry and heard their concerns over the US’ demand.

The minister since then had worked to sit down with Raimondo, the US commerce chief, to find ways to alleviate the chip industry that is a mainstay of the Korean economy.