US expects to make chips funding awards in coming eight weeks -Raimondo

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo speaks on Day 1 of the AI Safety Summit at Bletchley Park in Bletchley, Britain on November 1, 2023. Leon Neal/Pool via REUTERS/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Monday said her department plans to make several funding awards within two months from the government's $39 billion program to boost semiconductor manufacturing.

"We're in the process of really complicated, challenging negotiations with these companies," Raimondo told Reuters in an interview without identifying the companies. In the "next six to eight weeks, you will see several more announcements. That's what we're striving for."

The semiconductor fund is intended to subsidize chip production and related supply chain investments, and the awards will help build factories and increase production.

"These are highly complex, first-of-their-kind facilities. The kind of facilities that TSMC, Samsung, Intel are proposing to do in the United States -- these are new-generation investments -- size, scale complexity that's never been done before in this country," Raimondo said.

In December, Raimondo said she expected to make around a dozen semiconductor chips funding awards within the next year, including multi-billion dollar announcements.

Raimondo said she is personally involved in regular conversations with chip company CEOs.

The department has made two small awards from the "Chips for America" semiconductor manufacturing and research subsidy program approved by Congress in August 2022. Raimondo said she did not think the government was behind in making awards.

The awards can be a mix of grants, government loans and loan guarantees up to about 35% of project capital costs.

Raimondo is positive about demand for chips despite cyclical market issues. "Artificial intelligence is going to drive demand for chips in a way that we haven't ever seen," she said.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Leslie Adler and Cynthia Osterman)

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