Senate Democrats Ask for Taiwan’s Help With Chip Shortage

A worker views an implementation map at a Toyota Motor Corp. manufacturing plant
A worker views an implementation map at a Toyota Motor Corp. manufacturing plant. (Luke Sharrett/Bloomberg News)

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Three Democratic senators are asking the Taiwanese government to help the U.S. with a chip shortage that has idled auto plants and sent workers packing throughout the industry as the global economy struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Michigan’s Gary Peters and Debbie Stabenow and Ohio’s Sherrod Brown wrote to Taiwan’s representative to the U.S., Hsiao Bi-khim, expressing concern that the semiconductor shortage is still hurting the auto industry, even though demand for cars and trucks has risen.

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“This shortage threatens the U.S. post-pandemic economic recovery, the consequences of which are especially acute in auto manufacturing states like ours,” the senators wrote. “The lack of semiconductor chips is preventing this renewed demand from being met.”

“At a time when our manufacturers should be adding extra shifts, they have had to idle U.S. plants or curtail production,” the letter continues. “The U.S. is now the most impacted region in the world.”

The senators said they have learned that the shortage may continue through 2022 and asked the Taiwanese government to take extra steps to increase production. They also said they supported President Joe Biden’s efforts to make excess vaccines available to Taiwan.

“What we are hearing at this point is that the risk of shortages clearly has extended into 2022, despite the considerable efforts in Taiwan to augment production,” the senators wrote. “We value your efforts to address the shortage and are hopeful you will continue to work with your government and foundries to do everything possible to mitigate the risk confronting our state economies.”

Brown said in a statement that it was important for U.S. officials “to work with allies like Taiwan to help alleviate the worst impacts of the shortage on American workers and manufacturers.”

“Autoworkers in Ohio also shouldn’t have to rely entirely on volatile global supply chains to do their jobs,” he said.

Brown backed legislation the Senate passed earlier this year that would provide more than $52 billion in incentives and grants to semiconductor manufacturers who bring their operations to the U.S. The legislation is still pending in the House.

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