By Kim Yoo-chul
Samsung Electronics is apparently facing growing pressure to expand its investment in the United States, according to analysts, as the tech giant has reportedly been invited to a second meeting with the U.S. administration on tackling the global semiconductor shortage.
The invitation comes just over a week ahead of a summit between President Moon Jae-in and his counterpart Joe Biden slated to be held in Washington, May 22 (KST).
According to a Bloomberg report Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo will preside over the meeting to be participated in by Samsung Electronics, TSMC, Google, Amazon, General Motors and Ford, May 21 (KST), to hammer out the specifics for increasing the supply of chips in the United States.
The meeting will be the day before Moon’s first direct encounter with Biden.
Officials familiar with the issue said Samsung will give a detailed briefing on its plan to expand capacity at its semiconductor plants in Austin, Texas with the company asking the secretary for a final decision its requests for long-term tax assistance submitted earlier.
Samsung Electronics declined to comment on the report, but market observers are expecting the commerce secretary to deliver the latest updates on Biden’s infrastructure plan and how chip and technology companies can support and contribute to this initiative.
The first meeting, held April 12, was presided over by President Biden who said he had bipartisan support for legislation to fund the chip industry ― to the tune of $50 billion ― as part of a strategy to rebuild U.S. manufacturing, a key component of his $2 trillion infrastructure.
While some analyst said Samsung may reveal details about its massive semiconductor investment plan, estimated to be worth $17 billion, at the meeting, other commented that there is little chance the company will make an official statement.
“The U.S. government is hoping to win support from major chip and technology companies for Biden’s infrastructure policy. The continued semiconductor supply chain crush has awakened the U.S. to the need for extensive collaboration with advanced technology companies based in countries it considers allies. As Washington and Beijing are squaring off over technology, Biden wants Samsung’s support as its memory chip technology is far better than that of any firm in China and it already operates manufacturing plants in the United States,” according to a senior industry executive.
President Moon is expected to reiterate that the long-term partnership and solid alliance with the U.S. is a priority for Korea during the upcoming summit, at which he is also seeking fresh impetus to revive stalled inter-Korean talks, political analysts note.
From Samsung’s standpoint, the extended standoff between the world’s two superpowers is its worse-case scenario as Biden apparently urges U.S. allies to take a unified stand against China. While it has invested in the United States, the company has also spent few billion dollars building semiconductor plants in China, and is increasingly being pressured by Beijing to invest more there.
“Semiconductors have become a political issue as Europe, China and the United States are unexpectedly trying to strengthen their supply chains, considering chips as vital for everyday life. Samsung is now being sandwiched as countries pursue so-called techno-nationalism'” said another senior industry executive.