A Biden administration effort to untangle global chip supply snarls is facing resistance from lawmakers and executives in Taiwan and South Korea, complicating attempts to resolve the bottlenecks hurting industries from automobiles to consumer electronics.
The U.S. Commerce Department late last month asked companies in the semiconductor supply chain to fill out questionnaires by Nov. 8 seeking information pertaining to the ongoing chip shortage. While the request is voluntary, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo has warned industry representatives that the White House might invoke the Defense Production Act or other tools to force their hands if they don’t respond.
The issue has become particularly thorny in Taiwan, home to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., which accounts for more than half the global contract chipmaking market. That dominance has already prompted rivals like Intel Corp. to call for more domestic investment and spurred governments in the U.S., EU, Japan and China to mull efforts to bolster their own chip industries to reduce their reliance on the world’s most advanced semiconductor manufacturing hub.
“TSMC absolutely will not hand over sensitive information, particularly client data,” Sylvia Fang, the company’s general counsel, told reporters on Wednesday. Three of TSMC’s top five customers are American, with the largest, Apple Inc., accounting for a quarter of total sales. “TSMC is still assessing how to respond.”