Semiconductor Industry Displays Continued Confidence in Taiwan

Many AmCham member companies have raised the issue of discrepancies in perceived threats to the Taiwan market between their local subsidiary or branch office and headquarters. Declining cross-Strait relations is expected to aggravate this discrepancy, which may in turn undermine confidence in future investment in Taiwan. 

Diving into the current geopolitical dynamic and political, economic, and defense implications for Taiwan, AmCham’s Semiconductor Committee on August 25 held a seminar titled “Why Taiwan is an Attractive Place to Invest” at Shangri La’s ballroom. Opening remarks were made by Terry Tsao, AmCham Taiwan semiconductor co-chair and SEMI’s global chief market officer & president of Taiwan.  

The first speaker, Chern-chyi “CC” Chen, deputy minister of the Ministry of Economic Affairs, praised AmCham for establishing a semiconductor committee, noting that this was a significant development in U.S.-Taiwan industry collaboration. Chen emphasized Taiwan’s superior standing in global rankings of government efficiency, economic freedom, and democracy, the convenience of its industrial clusters, versatile industries, and healthy business climate.  

“We are complementary to all our partners,” said Chen, noting that the Ministry is stepping up efforts to boost research and development through grants and programs focused on customer needs. Taiwan will support semiconductor companies’ fab constructions or expansion projects with private investment accumulating to over US$100 billion by 2025. It also plans to increase its energy self-sufficiency through investing in renewable energy, replacing its grid, and training Taipower personnel.  

The next speaker was Douglas Hsu, director general of North American Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Hsu noted that when the Biden administration issued its Indo-Pacific Strategy in February this year, it made clear its aspirations to work with like-minded allies in the region. He added that Taiwan’s frequent mention in U.S. foreign policy reports signifies that Taiwan’s role in the overall U.S. Indo-Pacific strategy is central. However, the administration must now take concrete steps to implement this strategy. 

“The more secure Taiwan is, the safer the world is,” said the event’s third and final speaker Lin Chen-wei, CEO of the Institute for National Defense and Security Research. Lin noted that since President Tsai Ing-wen took office, Taiwan’s defense budget has increased from NT$320 billion in 2016 to NT$549 billion in 2023. Taiwan has worked strategically with its military assets, strengthening aspects such as its air defense, long-range defense, and precision artillery systems. Additionally, China does not have the capabilities needed to win a war scenario, and a military conflict across the Strait would seriously disrupt China’s economic activity.   

Following their presentations, the speakers joined on stage for a panel discussion moderated by John Lee, AmCham Taiwan governor and managing director of Merck Group in Taiwan, as well as Rado Wang, AmCham Semiconductor Committee co-chair and managing director of public affairs at Micron Tech Asia Pacific.  

Lin noted that Taiwan is now moving onto the cloud and introducing some of the world’s best cybersecurity standards. This process will be eased by the establishment of the Ministry of Digital Affairs (MODA). Meanwhile, Hsu said that the U.S.’ intention to engage more with Taiwan opens a door for Taiwan to deepen its engagement with the international community. Chen noted that the government will work to increase its competitiveness by promoting talent cultivation through law amendments and subsidizing research and development in the semiconductor equipment material industry. 

The event was closed by S.T. Liew, AmCham Taiwan Semiconductor co-chair and VP and president of Qualcomm Taiwan, SEA, Australia, and New Zealand. Liew reiterated his belief in Taiwan as a solid international business partner. In addition, he encouraged the speakers’ government departments to increase their advocacy efforts, particularly internationally.