US Senator Chuck Schumer and two other Democratic colleagues have written to top US administration officials asking for details of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd’s (TSMC) plan to build a US$12 billion fab in Arizona.
Hsinchu-based TSMC on Thursday last week announced that it would build a plant to make 5 nanometer chips by 2024 that would have the capacity to produce 20,000 semiconductor wafers per month.
The world’s biggest contract chipmaker already has one chipmaking fab in Camas, Washington, and design centers in Austin, Texas, and San Jose, California.
It said it planned to start construction in Arizona next year and that the plant would create 1,600 high-tech jobs, and indirectly create thousands more jobs in the semiconductor ecosystem.
US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said that the TSMC plan signaled a “renaissance in American manufacturing.”
However, Senate minority leader Schumer, along with US senators Patrick Leahy and Jack Reed, on Tuesday sent a letter to Ross and US Secretary of Defense Mark Esper saying that while they “strongly support” efforts by US President Donald Trump’s administration to “on-shore” semiconductor plants, questions needed to be answered about the TSMC deal.
“We have serious questions as to how this project takes into consideration national security requirements and how it aligns with a broader strategy for building a diverse US semiconductor manufacturing supply chain,” the senators wrote, adding that they were also concerned about transparency over the deal.
They asked for a halt to further discussions or negotiations over the plan until the administration has “briefed the relevant authorization and appropriations committees with your plans, including any commitments you have made to funding.”
They also asked the government to consider “companies that already have built a significant presence in the US” such as Micron Technology and GlobalFoundries.
TSMC has been caught in the crosshairs in a dispute between the US and Chinese tech giant Huawei Technologies Co, which Washington placed on a blacklist last year on national security grounds, as it is a key Huawei supplier.
On Friday last week, the US Department of Commerce announced a new rule expanding US authority to require licenses for sale to Huawei of semiconductors made abroad with US technology, which would include TSMC products.
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