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South Korea Pledges Support to Chip Industry Amid Escalating China-US Relations

In response to the intensifying China-US relations, South Korea has vowed to provide robust support to its chip industry. President Yun Seok Yeol emphasized that the competition in the chip sector has escalated into a “full-scale war.”

President Yun held a meeting with approximately 60 industry leaders, council members, and ministers to discuss strategies aimed at maintaining South Korea’s leadership in memory chips and promoting the systematic development of semiconductors. The discussions also focused on securing raw materials, equipment, and labor.

Geopolitical tensions have emerged as the most significant risk factor for companies, which they are unable to address independently. President Yun stressed that this challenge requires national involvement, emphasizing the importance of enhancing cooperation and establishing close ties with like-minded countries, including the United States.

The Ministry of Industry of South Korea released a statement outlining the government’s plans to bolster the chip industry. These initiatives include expanding research and development efforts, supporting small companies, strengthening legal protections for chip technology, and establishing a chip testing center.

South Korea has been striving to navigate the escalating trade tensions between China and the United States concerning semiconductor chips. This issue is particularly critical for South Korean chipmakers such as Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, as they heavily rely on US technology and equipment. However, it is worth noting that China constitutes approximately 40% of South Korea’s chip exports, as highlighted by the country’s trade ministry.

Last year, the United States announced export restrictions on chip manufacturing equipment destined for China. However, it granted a one-year exemption to Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix, enabling these companies to import equipment without a license due to their manufacturing bases in China. As the expiration of the exemption approached, uncertainty loomed over whether the United States would extend it for the two South Korean firms.

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