Semiconductor meeting to convene in Hawaii

Four major semiconductor trade powers — Japan, South Korea, the United States and the European Union — are to convene April 11 in Hawaii for the first meeting of the Semiconductor Council, a new multilateral framework group for industry-to-industry cooperation.

The council was established in line with the bilateral microchip accord last August, in which Japan and the U.S. called for the creation of a consultation mechanism — both on governmental and industry levels — on global chip trade.

During the scheduled meeting, the four parties are to discuss a variety of issues, which include user-supplier cooperation in developing new products as well as supplier-supplier cooperation in establishing global standards for new generation chips, protecting intellectual property rights and preventing global warming.

They will also analyze market trends, summing up the current size of the market and potential growth, according to the Electronic Industry Association of Japan, which is to host today’s meeting. An EIAJ official said the council will produce a concurrent report at the close of the meeting. The Semiconductor Council was primarily set up by the EIAJ and its U.S. counterpart, the Semiconductor Industry Association, as part of a consultation mechanism on chip trade that replaced the 1991 U.S.-Japan chip accord in August. The 1991 pact expired in July.

The council is open to industry associations from other nations, provided that their governments set zero tariffs on chip imports, or have committed to do so. At the moment, the EU and South Korea impose 7 percent and 8 percent tariffs, respectively, on chip imports. Both, however, agreed to completely eliminate the tariffs by January 1999, a year ahead of the deadline set by the Information Technology Agreement reached last month. Japan, the U.S., the EU and South Korea together account for more than 80 percent of the global chip trade.