South Korea Tech Firms to Provide U.S. With Semiconductor Data

(Bloomberg) — South Korea said its technology firms will provide some semiconductor data to the U.S., following a request by the Commerce Department for companies in the supply chain to provide information on inventory and sales of chips.

South Korean firms are preparing for a “voluntary submission” of relevant information, the finance ministry said in a statement on Sunday, adding that its tech giants have been negotiating with the U.S. on the extent of data to be submitted. It didn’t elaborate.

The U.S. Commerce Department in September 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 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.

In the questionnaire, chipmakers were asked to comment on inventories, backlogs, delivery time, procurement practices and what they were doing to increase output. The Commerce Department also requested information on each product’s top customers.

Washington’s request sparked a domestic controversy in South Korea, with critics condemning the U.S.’s demand of trade secrets. South Korea’s Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix are among the world’s two largest chipmakers and local reports have said the country’s tech firms would only “partially comply” with the information request. 

Semiconductors have become a major geopolitical concern, as Washington and Beijing seek to secure supply chains for chips that are vital to every aspect of digital life, from data centers to smartphones. President Joe Biden wants to bolster U.S. trade links through democratic allies, such as the Netherlands and South Korea, to avoid chip shortages in times of crisis.

The South Korean government will solidify its semiconductor supply chain partnership with the U.S. “by continuing high-level communications”, the South Korean finance ministry said Sunday.

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