The U.S and Taiwan are working together to secure supply chains, Washington’s envoy to Taipei said, as global chip manufacturers face a looming deadline to meet the Biden administration’s request for company data.
U.S. officials have met leaders of local semiconductor firms, Sandra Oudkirk, director of the American Institute in Taiwan, told reporters Friday in Taipei, adding that they had “excellent safeguards” to protect proprietary information.
“The Commerce Department’s request for information is designed to better understand the semiconductor supply chain,” Oudkirk, who is the U.S.’s de facto ambassador in the absence of official ties, said at her first news conference since being appointed in July.
She added that the drive was designed to enable the department make regulations to “improve or alleviate the disruptions to the supply chain.” Those strains are due to a twofold by a surge in demand for goods and labor issues, both caused by the global pandemic.
The U.S. Commerce Department’s September call for companies to hand over information related to the ongoing chip shortage has faced resistance in Taiwan and South Korea due to concerns over possible leaks of trade secrets.
While the initiative is voluntary, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has warned that the U.S. might use the Defense Production Act, or other tools, to force the hands of companies that don’t respond by Nov. 8.
South Korea’s industry minister, Moon Sung-wook, indicated local chipmakers were likely to submit minimal data, and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. said it wouldn’t give away sensitive customer information. Smaller peer United Microelectronics Corp. said in a release it had received a “courtesy call” from AIT officials on Oct. 10.
There have been concerns in China that the U.S. could use materials provided by TSMC and others to sanction Chinese companies.