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South Korea: Caught in the Crosshairs of U.S. China Competition Over Semiconductors

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Show Notes

Countries with advanced semiconductor industries are caught in the middle of growing U.S.-China competition in technology focused on advanced computing. While some countries with key technology companies in the toolmaking sector have been drawn into the competition previously, South Korea and its national champions, Samsung and SK Hynix, have arguably incurred some of the most significant pressure. These firms have billions of dollars of sunk investment in China-based facilities and the future of these facilities remains in doubt after a series of new U.S. measures unleashed by the U.S. Commerce Department. South Korean companies are also players in other parts of the global semiconductor supply chain, including semiconductor manufacturing tools, and China remains an important market for both components and electronic devices. Each country caught in the U.S.-China technology competition faces difficult tradeoffs in determining how best to support its leading companies while navigating changing and often arbitrary U.S. decisions that have already significantly disrupted global supply chains. Finally, at the same time as U.S. export controls have impacted South Korean companies’ ability to retain business operations and market access in China, major front-end manufacturers, particularly Samsung, are also looking to expand their operations in the United States and benefit from the U.S. CHIPS Act. All of this puts South Korea in one of the more complex positions as the industry faces continued restructuring, buffeted by both export controls and industrial policies.

Please join KEI as Mr. Paul Triolo sheds a greater light on the dynamics of these challenges for both Seoul and South Korean technology players.

December 21, 2023