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US, Japan and South Korea give attention to semiconductors as Biden visits Asia


TOKYO — As U.S. President Joe Biden visits Japan and South Korea, the three countries are searching for common ground on the world stage. One place they’re finding it’s semiconductors.

A primary stop for Biden on his first swing through Asia as president was a Samsung factory in South Korea.

“These little chips, only just a few nanometers thick, are the important thing to propelling us into the subsequent era of humanity’s technological development,” Biden said on Friday.

The brand new president of South Korea, Yoon Suk-yeol, said over the weekend that he and Biden “visited what could be described because the ‘global epicenter’ of cutting-edge semiconductor industry. There, I used to be in a position to feel the strength of our economic and technology alliance.”

Chips are integral to every part from automobiles to home appliances, they usually’ll play an important role in the event of artificial intelligence and quantum technologies. Leaders from the three countries have avoided mentioning China in the case of semiconductors, but export controls are on the agenda as well.

“The foremost thing of interest to investors [from Biden’s trip to Asia] is likely to be what they are saying about supply chains and semiconductors and the way much they align on export controls of sensitive technologies to China and investment within the U.S.,” said Michael J. Green, senior vice chairman for Asia and Japan chair on the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, center, met on Monday in Tokyo with Japan’s trade minister, Koichi Hagiuda. The 2 democracies are working to shore up their alliance against a backdrop of economic uncertainty all over the world. U.S. Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel is at left.

Ted Kemp | CNBC

On Monday, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo met along with her Japanese counterpart, Koichi Hagiuda, in Tokyo. The 2 discussed “cooperation in fields corresponding to semiconductors and export control,” in response to a CNBC translation of a press release from the Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Japan and South Korea are long-standing American allies, and each are technology powerhouses. But as of 2020, the 2 countries even have greater export relationships with China than they do with the U.S.

U.S. politics

To play a central role within the geopolitics around semiconductors, the Biden administration recognizes that the USA needs to spice up its economic relevance in Asia.

While in Tokyo, Biden is anticipated to stipulate details of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, an agreement that can give attention to shared standards around digital technology and provide chains.

The IPEF won’t be a free trade deal, nonetheless.

Domestically, Biden has to cope with American voters on each the left and right who’re suspicious of trade agreements.

The USA pioneered what was expected to be an enormous free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP, only to see it squashed by former President Donald Trump as soon as he entered office in 2017.

The TPP included twelve nations in Asia-Pacific, North America and South America.

Trump’s rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, said on the campaign trail that she would cancel the TPP as well, despite personally working on it as secretary of State under President Barack Obama.

After the USA undercut the TPP by withdrawing unilaterally, the remaining 11 nations proceeded to form the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership — which China has formally applied to enter.

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