PINGTEC, South Korea – President Joe Biden opens his trip to Asia with a focus on the shortage of computer chips that has hit the global economy by visiting Samsung’s computer chip factory, which will serve as a model for a $ 17 billion semiconductor plant. in Texas.

Friday’s visit is a tribute to one of Biden’s key domestic priorities – increasing the supply of computer chips. The semiconductor shortage last year damaged the availability of cars, kitchen appliances and other goods, causing rising inflation around the world and undermining Biden’s public acceptance among U.S. voters.

Biden will tackle a host of foreign policy issues during a five-day visit to South Korea and Japan, but he has also developed a route clearly designed to address the concerns of his home audience.

Before viewing the trip aboard Air Force One, White House National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan said Samsung’s investment in Texas would mean “good pay for Americans and, importantly, it would mean more sustainable supply chains.”

Welcoming Biden at the plant in South Korea will be the new President Yoon Suk Yol and Vice President of Samsung Electronics Lee Jae-yeon. Yun is a political newcomer to the presidency, his first election, just over a week ago. He called for a tougher stance against North Korea and the strengthening of a 70-year alliance with the United States

The chips plant demonstrated the unique nature of the production as visitors had to wear lab coats and blue shoes to keep the facility clean. Biden and Yun, who were not wearing protective clothing, saw a demonstration of the technique, including two pieces of American semiconductor equipment.

In part, the shortage of computer chips is the result of strong demand as much of the world has emerged from the coronavirus pandemic. But coronavirus outbreaks and other problems have also caused the closure of semiconductor plants. U.S. government officials have estimated that chip production will not be at the level they would like by early 2023.

Global sales of computer chips amounted to $ 151.7 billion in the first three months of this year, up 23% from the same period in 2021, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.

More than 75% of world chip production comes from Asia. This is a possible vulnerability that the U.S. hopes to protect against by increasing domestic production and public investment in the sector worth $ 52 billion through a bill before Congress.

The risk of Chinese aggression against Taiwan could stop the flow of high-end computer chips that are needed in the U.S. for military equipment as well as consumer goods. Similarly, airtight North Korea has conducted a test launch of ballistic missiles amid a coronavirus outbreak that could be a risk to South Korea’s manufacturing sector in the event of an escalation at the border.

In terms of chip production, China leads the world with a share of 24%, followed by Taiwan (21%), South Korea (19%) and Japan (13%). According to the Semiconductor Industry Association, only 10% of chips are made in the United States.

Samsung announced the establishment of a plant in Taylor, Texas, in November 2021. He hopes to start work in the second half of 2024. The South Korean electronics giant chose the site based on a number of factors, including government incentives and the “readiness and stability” of local infrastructure.

A White House newsletter released on Friday said semiconductor companies had announced nearly $ 80 billion in investments in the United States by 2025. That amount includes $ 20 billion for the Intel plant outside of Columbus, Ohio, up to $ 30 billion from Texas Instruments, an expansion of $ 1 trillion. Wolfspeed in North Carolina and Investment Global Foundries and SK Group.

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