South Korea is expected to attend a preliminary meeting for the US-led “Chip 4” group of major microchip manufacturers, including Taiwan and Japan, its foreign minister said on Thursday.
Seoul’s participation in the initial meeting of the group could heighten the stakes for South Korea as it seeks to navigate the contest between the United States and China over semiconductor and micro-processing technology.
Semiconductors are South Korea‘s No-1 export item. China is its largest trade partner, while US technology such as chip equipments are key to making chips, and both countries house major customers.
In his comments to reporters, Minister of Foreign Affairs Park Jin did not elaborate on what would be discussed other than to say the country would attend the meeting.
According to a survey of 300 exporters in South Korea by the Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry announced on Wednesday, 53% of respondents said that South Korea should join the US-led group, 41% said it should hold off on joining for now, while 5% opposed South Korea joining.
US President Joe Biden signed into law the CHIPS Act this month that provides $52 billion in subsidies for chip manufacturing and research, as well as an estimated $24 billion investment tax credit for chip plants.
China’s Commerce Ministry said on Thursday the country opposes the new US Chips Act and will take forceful measures to safeguard its legitimate rights when necessary.
- Reuters with additional editing by Jim Pollard