Will the Taiwan Earthquake Impact Semiconductor Production?

Taiwan Earthquake

Reports indicate that the earthquake that struck Taiwan on April 2 is unlikely to create either supply or manufacturing difficulties for Taiwan semiconductors (microchips), which could subsequently impact the auto sector and steel prices.

“I haven’t heard about any impact on the industry due to the earthquake,” one steel trader told MetalMiner. The seismic incident registered 7.2 on the Richter scale. The quake occurred off Taiwan’s east coast near the city of Hualien and claimed 13 lives as well as injuring about 1,100 people.

Taiwan itself produces more than half of the world’s supply of semiconductors.  The global auto sector is also a major end-user of semiconductors, estimated at up to 15% due to the rising integration of electronic systems and features in automobiles.

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According to an April 3 report from Data Center Dynamics, The Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), one of the largest in the world, temporarily shut down operations and evacuated its plants after the earthquake. However, the South China Morning Post stated on April 4 that TSMC restarted operations the following day. United Microelectronics Corporation also noted that the earthquake triggered automatic safety measures at its production sites in Hsinchu and Tainan in southern Taiwan.

Taiwan semiconductor
Taiwan Semiconductor is expected to make a fast recovery after the April 2 earthquake.

“Currently, operations and wafer shipment are resuming as normal, and there will be no meaningful impact on UMC’s finances and business,” that company said in an April 3 press release. While the port of Hualien suspended operations in the previous week, reports quoting Taiwan’s Maritime and Port Bureau said that other ports on the island experienced little to no damage.

A slower economy and high interest rates from the European Central Bank are just some of the factors suppressing hot rolled coil prices on the continent. MetalMiner’s source said that Mills in northern Europe were offering €650-660 ($705-715) per metric ton EXW as of April 4, down from €700 ($760) in late March. It has yet to be seen how this could impact Taiwan Semiconductor or other chip manufacturing companies.

A March report from the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) indicated that auto plants within the European Union produced over 12.1 million new units in 2023. This reflects an 11.3% rise year on year from 10.9 million units. The ACEA report also noted that battery electric vehicles comprised 14% of that volume, representing a 37% increase on the year.

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