SEMI Urges Restraint by Japan and Korea in Light of Recent Trade Actions

July 02, 2019 -- On July 1st, Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced updated licensing policies and procedures on the export and transfer of controlled items and their relevant technologies to the Republic of Korea (ROK). METI’s stated purpose for the actions were “in order to ensure appropriate implementation of export control.”

In particular, METI will tighten controls on certain items and their relevant technologies as follows:

  1. Remove the ROK from its “white list” of trusted partners, limiting the ROK’s preferential treatment for exports
  2. Mandate individual licenses for exports of certain chemicals including fluorinated polyimide, photoresist, and hydrogen fluoride – all used in semiconductor and electronics manufacturing – and technology transferred with exports of manufacturing equipment to the ROK. Bulk licenses for the chemicals will no longer be available.

METI has indicated that its actions were not intended as punitive, but rather as necessary to ensure proper management of the export control system and the effective tracking of chemicals, materials and technologies that could be used to develop weapons of mass destruction (WMDs). Nevertheless, the trade actions are cause for concern as they could have a negative impact on our members operating in Korea and Japan and the global supply chain in general.

After the METI announcement, SEMI immediately consulted its International Board of Directors and assembled a global advocacy response team comprised of SEMI member companies and SEMI regional presidents in both Japan and Korea to assess risks to SEMI members operating in both regions and to the industry’s global supply chain. Additionally, SEMI conveyed its concerns to Japan and ROK trade officials, stressing that the semiconductor industry will bear the brunt of the new measures if the trade dispute escalates. 

SEMI president and CEO Ajit Manocha said: “We informed both governments of potential impacts of an escalation to SEMI members, their economies and the global supply chain and are encouraging them to resolve their differences. SEMI’s focus is to ensure the global microelectronics supply chain remains strong and intact.”

SEMI member companies have stated that METI and the Japan government have provided assurances that trade with the ROK will not be encumbered and that semiconductor companies will see minimal impact regarding export license approvals. To this end, SEMI will continue to engage our members in Korea and Japan, monitor the dispute as it continues to unfold, and facilitate regular meetings between industry and the involved governments to ensure that industry impacts are identified and risks are mitigated. In the event the dispute escalates, SEMI is prepared to take action in accordance with its Global Trade Principles.

SEMI released its  Global Trade Principles last year to provide guidance to governments around the world in developing policies that benefit both regional economies and the industry. These trade principles are based on SEMI’s four trade pillars of free and fair trade, open markets, supply chain growth, and respect for IP and national security.

Member companies negatively impacted by any changes in Japan’s regulatory policies or with any questions should contact their regional SEMI office or Jay Chittooran, Public Policy Manager, SEMI Global Advocacy, at  Email Contact.

Mike Russo is Vice President of Global Industry Advocacy at SEMI.

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