The U.S. government will summon global semiconductor and automobile manufacturers, including Samsung Electronics, on May 20 (local time), the day before the ROK-U.S. summit. This is the second video conference on the semiconductor held by the Department of Commerce, following the one in the last month hosted by U.S. President Joe Biden. Perceiving the semiconductor as a security issue, the Biden administration has been putting pressure on global companies to invest in the U.S.
As the upcoming semiconductor meeting will serve as an opportunity for pre-coordination for the ROK-U.S. summit, it requires close discussions between the South Korea's presidential Blue House and Samsung. Given the South Korean government’s negligence with the semiconductor industry so far, it is doubtful whether cooperation between the government and a business is possible. The absence of Lee Jae-yong, the vice-chairman of Samsung Electronics, is also regrettable.
The governments and businesses of major countries are working closely together as a team in the semiconductor sector. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen invited TSMC founder Morris Chang to accompany her when meeting the U.S. Deputy Secretary of State in September last year. The founder of the semiconductor company has been the only civilian invited to the meeting with the highest-ranking U.S. official to visit Taiwan since 1979 when diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed.
U.S.-based Intel announced a large-scale investment plan immediately after President Biden’s semiconductor meeting. Some U.S. experts believe that it wasn’t Intel who responded to the president’s request, but rather the president who went along with Intel’s strategy. It means President Biden is providing support for Intel to regain the U.S.’s position as a semiconductor leader, which is in line with the government’s strategy. The U.S. government and Intel are developing the global semiconductor strategy together.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in attended the announcement ceremony of Samsung Electronics’ system semiconductor vision and emphasized the importance of the semiconductor. He also asked the company to grow to become No. 1 in the system semiconductor sector. However, that was all. The government turned away from R&D support or the industry’s struggle of finding enough human resources. Cheong Wa Dae belatedly summoned the leaders of relevant businesses as President Biden took actions regarding the semiconductor industry and the ruling party launched a special committee on the semiconductor. How could close cooperation between the government and businesses have been possible under such circumstances?
The semiconductor has become an issue directly related to the wellbeing of a country. The government and businesses should constantly communicate and discuss strategies. The ROK-U.S. summit should be an opportunity for the government and businesses to realize that they are on the same team to lead the future of the country.