All Major Chipmakers Pledge to Give U.S. Requested Data

(Bloomberg) -- Every major semiconductor company has pledged to comply with a U.S. request for information pertaining to the global chip shortage, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on the day of a deadline set by the government.

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“The past two weeks, I personally have called the CEOs of all the major chip producers in the U.S. and overseas, and every CEO has assured me that they will be complying and will be giving us the data that we’ve asked for,” Raimondo said in an interview Monday.

While she hadn’t yet seen the information provided by the companies, Raimondo said she’s “optimistic that they are giving us robust submissions” and that the U.S. won’t need to invoke the Defense Production Act -- a Cold War-era national-security law -- to force manufacturers to comply, a threat she reiterated on Monday.

“I’ll know a lot more after we go through the data that we receive today,” Raimondo said in Chicago. “I hope we don’t have to use the Defense Act to require, but we will if we need to. Because there is a lack of transparency in the supply chain which is breeding mistrust, and we have to uncover kind of what’s going on, where are the chips going, is there hoarding or stockpiling happening.”

Several big chipmakers in Asia said earlier that they responded to the U.S. request without providing sensitive customer data. Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. has included no customer-specific information, a company spokeswoman said. Other firms including Micron Technology Inc., Western Digital Corp. and United Microelectronics Corp. have also made submissions ahead of the Monday deadline, according to a U.S. government website.

“Due to contractual obligations and after consultation with the U.S. Department of Commerce, no information on customers was disclosed,” Samsung Electronics Co. said. Fellow Korean chipmaker SK Hynix Inc. also said it submitted data after talks with the U.S., providing information in line with maintaining trust with its clients.

Washington’s request in September for data on inventory and sales of chips sparked controversies in both Taiwan and South Korea, with some fearing the U.S. is demanding that companies hand over trade secrets.

The Biden administration is aiming is to alleviate bottlenecks that have idled U.S. car production and caused shortages of consumer electronics and to identify possible hoarding. U.S. officials have repeatedly emphasized that the private sector must step up and provide more transparency if the government is to successfully address the shortage.

Raimondo’s team for months had sought clarity into how companies allocate their semiconductor supply. But previous meetings that convened firms from different industrial sectors hadn’t led to increased transparency and some chipmakers did not want to hand over sensitive business information.

(Updates with response from Korean chipmakers in sixth paragraph)

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