Taiwan says US officials have visited to discuss concerns about chip subsidies

FILE PHOTO: Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua speaks during an interview with Reuters in Taipei, Taiwan, September 30, 2021. Picture taken September 30, 2021. REUTERS/Ann Wang

TAIPEI (Reuters) - The United States has sent officials to Taiwan to listen to concerns in the chip industry about the criteria for new U.S. semiconductor subsidies, Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said on Friday.

The criteria are worrying companies like Samsung Electronics Co Ltd and SK Hynix Inc, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said on Thursday, a concern shared by the world's leading contract chipmaker in Taiwan, TSMC.

Conditions include sharing excess profit with the U.S. government, and industry sources have said the application process itself could expose confidential corporate strategy.

Speaking to reporters in Taipei, Wang said there was a "direct connection" between U.S. subsidy rules and company investments and operating costs, though added the rules were still in a 60-day comment period.

"The U.S. side has sent relevant officials to Taiwan to listen to the industry's opinions, to collect their views," she added, without giving details.

"Following on, if the industry needs the government to help communicate with the United States, the Economy Ministry will certainly assist with communication," Wang said.

"We hope these technical details do not let the industry feel like there is a rather large disparity with their cost plans."

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), the world's largest contract chipmaker, is investing $40 billion in a new plant in the western U.S. state of Arizona, supporting Washington's plans for more chip-making at home.

Subsidies would come from a $52 billion pool of research and manufacturing funds earmarked under the United States' so-called CHIPS Act, the legislation behind boosting chip-making in the country, for which the Commerce Department announced guides and templates this month.

The U.S. Department of Commerce will protect confidential business information and expects that the requirement to share excess profit will only occur where projects significantly exceed projected cash flow, a Department of Commerce official said on Thursday, citing its notice for the funding.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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