The European Union will work with Japan to monitor the global chip supply chain and support Japanese semiconductor companies looking to operate within the EU.
"We believe that it's extremely important to secure the supply chain of semiconductors," EU Commissioner Thierry Breton told Reuters, adding in comments published by the news outlet that the EU’s policy to reduce its dependance on China-made technology such as chips is part of a strategy to “de-risk”.
During the first EU-Japan Digital Partnership ministerial talks, the partners also agreed to cooperate on issues relating to undersea cable connectivity, research and supply chain resilience for chips, investment in quantum and high performance computing (HPC), and AI regulation.
Breton also recently met government ministers from the Republic of Korea and agreed to collaborate on a similar range of topics. He’s been tweeting about the trips with the hashtag #G20DigitalTour, suggesting he has plans to visit other members of the G20, the intergovernmental forum of which Japan, Korea and the EU are members.
The semiconductor industry is seen as strategic in the trade war pitting Western-allied nations against China. On several occasions over the last year, the US has sought support from the EU in its attempts to limit China’s ability to acquire advanced semiconductors or the equipment used to manufacture them.
EU and Japan invest billions in domestic chip industries
Both Japan and the EU have sought to strengthen their domestic semiconductor industries in recent months. In April, the European Council and the European Parliament agreed to invest $3.6 billion in EU funds to build out the continent’s semiconductor manufacturing capabilities, with the aim of attracting a further $43.7 billion in private investment. The investments could help avoid a Taiwanese bottleneck in the world’s semiconductor supply chains.
Meanwhile, the Japanese government also pledged back in April to invest $532 million (70 billion yen) for projects to develop and make next-gen chips in the country, including a deal with Rapidus to make 2nm chips in Japan by 2025.
Additionally, Japanese semiconductor equipment maker JSR accepted a buyout offer of $6.4 billion (909.3 billion yen) from the Japanese government late last month, providing Japan with a greater control over the manufacturing of photoresists, the chemicals used for the process of printing circuit designs on chip wafers.