Compared with the same period last year, exports of South Korean microchip equipment to the Middle Kingdom in the first half of the year fell by 51.89%.Experts do not rule out the possibility that sales will continue to fall, and at the initiative of China itself.Image source: L N/unsplash.comAccording to the Korean Customs Service, released on August 9, total exports of semiconductor equipment to China amounted to $694.8 million in the first half of the year - a 51.89% decrease compared with the first half of 2021.According to Business Korea magazine, China is the most important market for South Korean producers of the equipment, which accounted for 60% of South Korea's exports of the relevant \"tools\", primarily sent to Samsung Electronics and SK hynix plants located in China.In addition, Chinese companies such as YMTC, CXMT and SMIC are considering to buy South Korean solutions for the semiconductor industry in response to supply restrictions by the U.S.Experts explain the drop in exports by increasing Chinese investment in its own semiconductor industry amid growing pressure from the United States.Industry sources suggest that exports may drop even more due to Korea's joining the Chip 4 alliance, which consists mostly of states unfriendly to China.It is expected that Chinese authorities themselves may limit export of equipment to South Korean memory chip plants in China by encouraging Chinese enterprises to stop using South Korean equipment for development and production of the equipment in the country itself.We know that the U.S.has already introduced restrictions on cooperation with the Celestial Empire in the semiconductor industry, limiting inter alia access to subsidies for manufacturers planning to develop semiconductor production in the PRC.China itself has initiated criminal proceedings against officials responsible for import substitution in the semiconductor industry - it remains to be seen how effectively the allocated funds were used.
The US is immediately embarking on its own \"import substitution\" program.South Korea's three largest electric vehicle battery companies plan to build 11 traction battery plants in the U.S.by 2026, mostly in cooperation with U.S.electric vehicle manufacturers.Image source: FordFor example, LG Energy Solution plans to build six production bases in the U.S.by 2026.It is the most active player among Korean battery manufacturers, constantly expanding its production.LG Energy Solution has already established a joint venture with General Motors Ultium Cells - construction of a plant with a production capacity of 35 GW∙h or more has already begun in Ohio, and a second plant (35 GW∙h or more) in Tennessee.A third plant (over 50 GWh) should begin mass production in Michigan in 2025.A plan for another plant will be discussed in detail this year.In addition, the company is independently building a plant for cylindrical batteries in Arizona and intends to expand its own production capacity in Michigan.SK On plans to build four battery plants in the U.S.The company is already building facilities with a total production capacity of 129 GW∙h in Kentucky and Tennessee.The Blue Oval SK joint business is being implemented together with Ford, and work is expected to begin in 2025.In addition, Sk On is building two of its own plants in Georgia.It is known that Hyundai Motor Group plans to build an electric car plant in the same state, so it is very likely that these businesses will cooperate in this state.Samsung SDI decided to create a joint business for the production of traction batteries together with Stellantis.The plan is to start producing battery cells in the U.S.in 2025.When construction is completed, the production capacity will be 23 GWh.In the future, production will be expanded to 40 GW∙h.
As China's technological ambitions grow, cases of industrial espionage in South Korea have increased.According to The Korea Times, the latest significant case was the indictment of former employees of SEMES, a subsidiary of Samsung, as well as their subcontractor associates.Image source: CristianIS/pixabay.comThe group of four is accused of handing over critical equipment to Chinese industrial espionage market participants, designed to clean silicon wafers exclusively supplied by Samsung.The amount of \"reward\" was the equivalent of $62.8 million.Earlier this year, a Samsung employee tried to steal technology by gaining access to the databases of Samsung Electronics, but was identified and detained by state intelligence services.According to experts, Chinese companies are willing to make every effort to eliminate the technological gap from industry leaders in critical sectors like semiconductor manufacturing.Therefore, penalties for industrial espionage should be tightened.The problem is complicated by the fact that different companies have different approaches to protecting the technology available to them.In addition, it is difficult to track the activities of former employees who have already left the company.South Korean experts emphasize that in response to the mass purchase of technology by China in Taiwan introduced clear definitions of such crimes.According to the updated law in April, criminals who contributed to the leakage of industrial technology will be sentenced to up to 12 years in prison and a fine equivalent to $3.36 million.Source image: blickpixel/pixabay.com Meanwhile, in South Korea the penalties are too mild - for trafficking in trade secrets, the punishment is up to three years in prison.According to local intelligence agencies, from January 2017 to February 2022 there were 99 cases of leakage of industrial technology.At the same time, out of 115 episodes of violations of the Law on Protection of Trade Secrets, only 15 of the guilty were sentenced to actual imprisonment in 2021 in the court of first instance.Experts insist that the state must move to a stricter oversight of the technology market.Otherwise, Chinese companies will simply hire former employees of Samsung Electronics and SK hynix to obtain the necessary Korean secrets.
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