World’s Top Chipmakers Provide Data to U.S. as Deadline Arrives

(Bloomberg) — Several chipmakers have already responded to a U.S. request for supply chain information to help address the global chip shortage, with some of the world’s top suppliers confirming they won’t provide certain sensitive data.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has already submitted its answer, ensuring that no customer-specific information was disclosed, a company spokeswoman said. Other firms including Micron Technology Inc., Western Digital Corp. and United Microelectronics Corp. have also made submissions, ahead of the Monday deadline, according to a U.S. government website. 

Tech companies in South Korea — home to Samsung Electronics Co. and SK Hynix Inc. — are preparing for a “voluntary submission” of relevant information, the finance ministry said in a statement on Sunday, adding that the firms have been negotiating with the U.S. on the extent of data to be submitted. Local media reports have said the companies would only “partially comply” with the information request. 

The U.S. Department of Commerce in September asked companies in the semiconductor supply chain to fill out questionnaires 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.

Washington’s request sparked controversies in both Taiwan and South Korea, with some fearing the U.S. is demanding that companies hand over trade secrets. There have also been concerns in China that the U.S. could use materials provided by TSMC and others to sanction Chinese firms.

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.

TSMC remains committed to “protecting customers’ confidentiality as always,” spokeswoman Nina Kao said in an email to Bloomberg News on Sunday. 

The world’s two largest contract chipmakers, TSMC and Samsung Electronics, serve a wide range of companies including automakers. The persistent shortage of key semiconductors has taken its toll on a vast array of industries over the past year — particularly on car manufacturing, a vital contributor to the U.S. economy — though there are signs that the supply crunch may have peaked.   

(Updates with details of submissions starting from second paragraph)

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