US, Japan and South Korea focus on semiconductors when Biden goes to Asia – Reuters

TOKYO – When US President Joe Biden visits Japan and South Korea, the three countries are looking for common ground on the world stage. One place they find it is in semiconductors.

A first stop for Biden during his first stay in Asia as president was a Samsung factory in South Korea.

“These little chips, just a few nanometers thick, are the key to driving us into the next era of humanity’s technological development,” Biden said Friday.

South Korea’s new president, Yoon Suk-yeol, said at the weekend that he and Biden “visited what can be described as the ‘global epicenter’ of China’s semiconductor industry. There, I could feel the strength of our economic and technological alliance.

Chips are an integral part of everything from cars to household appliances, and they will play a vital role in the development of artificial intelligence and quantum technologies. The leaders of the three countries have avoided mentioning China when it comes to semiconductors, but export controls are also on the agenda.

“The main thing that interests investors [from Biden’s trip to Asia] could be what they say about supply chains and semiconductors, and how much they align with export controls of sensitive technology to China and investment in the United States, ”said Michael J. Green, senior vice president of Asia and president of Japan at the Center for Strategic and International studies.

US Trade Secretary Gina Raimondo, in the middle, met with Japanese Trade Minister Koichi Hagiuda in Tokyo on Monday. The two democracies are working to consolidate their alliance in a context of global economic uncertainty. US Ambassador to Japan Rahm Emanuel is on the left.

Ted Kemp | CNBC

On Monday, US Trade Secretary Gina Raimondo met with her Japanese counterpart, Koichi Hagiuda, in Tokyo. The pair discussed “cooperation in areas such as semiconductors and export controls,” according to a CNBC translation of a statement from Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.

Japan and South Korea are longtime US allies, and both are technological powerhouses. But from 2020, the two countries will also have greater export relations with China than they have with the United States.

American politics

To play a central role in the geopolitics around semiconductors, the Biden administration recognizes that the United States must strengthen its economic relevance in Asia.

While in Tokyo, Biden is expected to outline the details of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework, an agreement that will focus on shared standards around digital technology and supply chains.

However, IPEF will not be a free trade agreement.

Domestically, Biden has to deal with American voters on the left and right, who are on guard against trade agreements.

The United States was pioneering what was to become a massive free trade agreement, the Trans-Pacific Partnership or TPP, only to see it crushed by former President Donald Trump as soon as he took office in 2017.

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

Trump’s rival for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, said on the campaign track that she would also cancel the TPP, even though she personally worked on it as Secretary of State under President Barack Obama.

After the United States undermined the TPP by unilaterally withdrawing, the remaining 11 nations formed the comprehensive and progressive trans-Pacific Partnership – which China has formally asked to join.

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