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Trade chief says US chip subsidies coming

March 13, 2024 - 17:06 By Jo He-rim
Samsung Electronics' office building in Austin, Texas (Samsung Electronics)

The US Commerce Department is expected soon to announce the amount of federal funding it will spend to support Korean chipmakers building facilities on its land, the Korean trade minister said on Tuesday, US time.

“The US government is expected to announce the subsidy plan for Korean firms as soon as around the end of March,” Minister for Trade Jeong In-kyo told reporters at Dallas International Airport in Texas, as he was traveling to the country for the first time after having been appointed to the post in January.

Global chipmakers such as Samsung Electronics, TSMC and Intel have announced plans to build semiconductor manufacturing and research facilities in the US, after the US government promised to provide large subsidies through the CHIPS and Science Act, announced in 2022.

Under the CHIPS Act, the US government has allocated $39 billion in direct grants as well as loans and loan guarantees worth $75 billion to attract the world's top chipmakers to produce chips in the US.

Samsung Electronics, one of the leading chipmakers and the world's top memory chip supplier, is investing some $1.7 billion in building an advanced chip fabrication plant in Taylor, Texas, and also applied for federal funding.

"It is clear that (Korean firms) will be receiving subsidies, but we will have to see the amount," Jeong said.

Korean Minister for Trade Jeong In-kyo arrives at Dallas International Airport in Texas, US on Tuesday. (Yonhap)

The US has their own guidelines for the funding, and it is hard to predict whether Korean firms will be at an advantage or a disadvantage in their subsidies, the trade minister added.

Intel, which is building a $20 billion facility in Ohio, undergoing a $20 billion expansion in Arizona and investing $3.5 billion in New Mexico, is reportedly in talks with the US Commerce Department on receiving more than $10 billion in subsidies.

TSMC, the top foundry based in Taiwan, is also reportedly expecting to receive some $5 billion from the US government.

Jeong, who is currently on a visit to the US, will meet with key US government officials during his four-day trip.

On Friday, Jeong is expected to meet with US Trade Representative Katherine Tai and attend the 7th Korea-US Free Trade Agreement committee meeting. The sixth meeting took place in 2021.

The Korean trade minister will also inspect Korean firms operating in the US and meet with leaders of major US companies, such as Thermo Fisher, GM and Chevron.