| 23 February 2024, Friday |

Biden to visit Taiwan’s TSMC chip plant in Arizona, hail supply chain fixes

On Tuesday, TSMC announced it will more than treble its planned investment there to $40 billion, making it one of the largest foreign investments in American history. As a result, U.S. President Joe Biden will pay a visit to the Arizona factory.

The investment is a significant victory for Biden as early in his presidency, supply chain problems caused the US economy to suffer.

The White House announced that, in addition to Cook, TSMC founder Morris Chang, Micron Technology Inc. CEO Sanjay Mehrotra, NVIDIA Corp. founder and CEO Jensen Huang, and Apple Inc. Chief Executive Tim Cook will accompany Biden on his visit to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd’s facility in Phoenix to support initiatives to increase U.S. technology manufacturing.

They will attend a “tool-in” ceremony, which is the symbolic moving of the first equipment onto the shop floor of the new $12 billion facility. The plant is scheduled to be operational in 2024.

TSMC is the world’s largest contract chipmaker and a leading supplier to major U.S. hardware manufacturers such as Apple and NVIDIA.

“Bringing TSMC’s investment to the United States is a masterstroke and a game-changing development for the industry,” NVIDIA’s Huang said in remarks prepared for Tuesday’s event.

TSMC said it will build a second nearby facility that will produce advanced N3 chips by 2026, and that its current facility will develop even more cutting-edge chips than originally proposed.

TSMC’s investment in Arizona at two facilities will total $40 billion, making it the company’s largest investment outside of Taiwan, and one of the largest foreign direct investments in U.S. history.

The company also said when complete, the two plants will make over 600,000 wafers a year, with an estimated end-product value of more than $40 billion. A wafer is the round shiny disc that is used to make chips.

It also said it is planning to build an industrial water reclamation plant. Chip making is a water-intensive process, and Arizona, much of which is desert, is increasingly struggling with water shortages.

TSMC said its Phoenix factories are expected to create 10,000 high-tech jobs, including 4,500 TSMC jobs.

Biden has sought to boost production of semiconductors after the pandemic caused supply chain problems that resulted in shortages of chips for vehicles and many other items.

U.S. semiconductor production now accounts for just 12% of the global total, down from 37% two decades ago, a White House report on supply chain problems said last year.

Taiwan’s dominant position as a maker of chips used in technology from cellphones and cars to fighter jets has sparked concerns of overreliance on the island, especially as China ramps up military pressure to assert its sovereignty claims.

China claims Taiwan as its territory despite the strong objections of the democratically elected government in Taipei, which rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims.

To avoid a return of supply chain issues, Biden signed the $52.7 billion Chips and Science Act into law in August.

According to Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council, “the reason for the president’s trip is to recognize a critical milestone that TSMC is attaining in bringing the most cutting-edge semiconductor production back to the U.S.”

After Republican Donald Trump won the state in 2016, Biden’s victory in Arizona during the 2020 presidential election helped propel him to the White House.

In 2024, Biden plans to run for re-election for another four-year term.

  • Reuters