Tensions between the U.S. and China have reached fever pitch as the Trump administration imposed higher tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods last Monday, adding to the $50 billion in goods hit with higher duties earlier this year. Bloomberg News reported that “the combined $250 billion in products facing levies is almost half the value of imports from China last year.”
China countered by meting out stiffer tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods, on top of the $50 billion already levied, and canceling planned trade negotiations with the Trump administration.
Days before the sharp escalation of the trade conflict, SEMI president and CEO Ajit Manocha joined SEMI China president Lung Chu in hosting a closed-door round table with 16 senior semiconductor industry executives in Beijing. The goal: An update from the China semiconductor sector on its needs as the chip industry braces to weather the conflict. Manocha and Chu then met with influential China media outlets including Semiconductor Manufacturing, China Integrated Circuit, Silicon Semiconductor and IC Café to reiterate SEMI’s position on trade.
“The basic principles of SEMI are free and fair trade, open markets, cooperation for mutual benefit, and protection of intellectual property rights,” Manocha told the reporters. “Tariffs and trade frictions are bound to harm the industry’s development.”
Manocha highlighted efforts over the past few months by the SEMI advocacy team to educate U.S. policymakers on the impact of tariffs on the development of the semiconductor industry. Last month, the office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) held a hearing in Washington, D.C. to solicit public comment on then-proposed tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports to the U.S. Testifying on behalf of the semiconductor industry, SEMI stressed that tariffs on more than 100 tariff lines covering items critical to semiconductor manufacturing “will harm companies in the semiconductor supply chain by increasing business costs, introducing uncertainty, and stifling innovation.” SEMI had testified twice before this year – the first time in May, opposing levies on $34 billion in Chinese goods, and the second in July to speak out against higher duties on $16 billion worth of Chinese products.
SEMI China president Lung Chu made clear the consensus of China’s semiconductor sector: The trade war will profoundly impact the global semiconductor industry. He also stressed that SEMI, as a global industry organization linking the global electronic semiconductor industry chain, will continue to promote win-win cooperation between the U.S. and China.
Manocha reaffirmed SEMI’s longstanding commitment to promote cooperation among nations and policies that foster industry growth.
“For the growth of the semiconductor industry, SEMI is focused on four important factors, and we call them the 4 T’s, namely Tax, Technology, Talent, Trade,” Manocha told the media. “All are indispensable for the development of the industry.”
SEMI president and CEO Ajit Manocha and SEMI China president Lung Chu host press conference in Beijing.
Because the semiconductor industry is international, with key features spread across a number of regions, cross-border cooperation is an eternal theme, Chu told the gathering. To maintain the vitality of China's semiconductor industry, the region must deepen its integration with the international semiconductor ecosphere. He acknowledged that there will be no quick answers to easing trade tensions between the U.S. and China but that SEMI would continue to press ahead in efforts to help improve relations. Despite the conflict, the industry remains optimistic about the growth of China’s semiconductor industry, he said.
"However, we need to face up to the fact that there is still a certain gap between the domestic semiconductor industry and that of international advanced level,” Lu said. “Therefore, international cooperation is the key to industry growth."
Of the four cornerstones of the semiconductor industry – design, manufacturing, testing and equipment materials – China in recent years has narrowed the gap with its international counterparts in testing capabilities, Chu said. For China’s semiconductor industry to flower, the region must build strengths in design, manufacturing and materials too.
“The semiconductor industry needs long-term investment, persistence and patience, and also needs win-win cooperation, continuous innovation and product applications across the entire industry,” Chu said. “Money is not the only incentive.”
Manocha emphasized the theme of international cooperation, with the global semiconductor industry working in harmony.
“The global semiconductor industry chain is inseparable, and each region has its own advantages,” Manocha said. “So, we will continue to work hard to create a win-win, inclusive global industrial atmosphere.”
For its part, SEMI China is focused on becoming the best partner for China to realize its semiconductor dream by continuing to provide services that encourage international cooperation. That role will grow in importance with SEMI’s expansion into application areas such as smart manufacturing, smart transportation, smart data and smart automotive – all requiring tighter integration of the electronics industry supply chain.
Cherry Sun is a marketing manager at SEMI China.