Taiwan claims ‘breakthrough’ in EU semiconductor cooperation talks

The hope is for Taiwan’s chipmakers to build new plants in Europe as tensions brew with China

Taiwan's government has announced a "major breakthrough" in talks with the European Union about cooperation in the semiconductor industry, which could pave the way for the island nation's chipmakers to build new plants in Europe.

Reuters reported Thursday that Wang Mei-hua, Taiwan's Economy Minister, made clear in a statement that the country will continue to be a "trusted partner" for the EU in the semiconductor industry so that Europe's supply chain can stablize.

Wang held talks on the semiconductor industry with a senior EU official, Sabine Weyand, director-general for trade at the European Commission, who is focused on working with other countries on industry matters.

The breakthrough was made as the EU hopes to convince Taiwan's chipmakers, which includes foundry giant TSMC, to build new plants in the bloc. The effort is part of the EU's proposed European Chips Act, which was revealed in February to bolster European competitiveness and resilience in semiconductors while also supporting goals for digital transformation and environmental sustainability.

TSMC has previously said it is in the preliminary stages of considering a new plant in Europe with particular emphasis on Germany. The Taiwanese foundry giant makes chips for major companies like Apple, Nvidia, and AMD.

The potential for aggression from China, which claims Taiwan as its own, is the most obvious point of contention in the EU-Taiwan semiconductor talks. A few months ago, Taiwanese Premier Su Tseng-chang said there is concern that China was ramping up efforts to infiltrate Taiwan and gain access to its chip technology. This concern prompted Taiwan to propose tougher laws that would deter China from doing so, which China decried as a "provocative smear."

The EU has already succeeded in convincing Intel, which has restarted its foundry business to compete with Taiwan, in building new plans in the bloc. The semiconductor giant announced in March that it will invest $36 billion in manufacturing, research and development, chip design, and foundry services across Europe, which will include a $19 billion chip factory in Magdeburg, Germany.

The discussion between Taiwan and the EU happened a day after the island nation started new trade discussions with the United States in a bid to secure tech supply chains. In response, China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs warned against the talks, saying "US maneuvers on Taiwan will only lead the region to a perilous state." ®

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