Report: Taiwan-China chipmaking restrictions lifted by years’ end?

October 5, 2006 – Taiwan policymakers are narrowing down a timetable for revisiting restrictions on transfer of chipmaking process technologies to mainland China, with a decision possible by the end of this year, according to the Taiwan Economic News.

Under the Wassenaar Agreement, local chipmakers are allowed to make chips outside the nation using 0.18-micron processing technology. However, since 2002 Taiwan policy has restricted such investments to 0.25-micron from Taiwan chip companies in China, and only TSMC has received the green light for such investments. Powerchip and Promos recently renewed their requests to invest in chipmaking facilities in mainland China capable of 0.18-micron process technologies, after their requests for 0.25-micron investments had yet to be reviewed. TSMC has also suggested the restrictions should be extended to open 0.18-micron investments to support competition.

Questioned by a local lawmaker on Oct. 3 at an ad hoc committee, Economics Minister Steve Chen at first indicated the ministry would arrange an intergovernmental meeting “to discuss the issue as soon as possible,” but pressured for a clearer timetable he suggested that by year’s end is the latest version, but might be moved forward.

Deputy Political Minister Y.S. Shih also noted that the ministry has been in talks with the Cabinet-level Mainland Affairs Council, but the two government organizations had not reached an agreement over lifting the restrictions, according to the report.


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