Exclusive-Top US chipmakers, tech firms to attend Vietnam meeting as Biden visits

By Francesco Guarascio and Phuong Nguyen

HANOI (Reuters) – Top U.S. semiconductors and digital companies including Intel, GlobalFoundries and Google are expected to attend a business meeting on Monday in Hanoi as President Joe Biden visits Vietnam to boost ties, two people familiar with the plan said.

The meeting, which is still being arranged, would confirm U.S. plans to boost Vietnam’s global role in different segments of chipmaking, as part of Washington’s broader strategy to reduce the sector’s exposure to China-linked risks, including trade restrictions and tensions over Taiwan.

Senior executives from Google, Intel, Amkor, Marvell, GlobalFoundries and Boeing are among expected attendees, according to a partial list that a person familiar with the plans discussed with Reuters.

The companies did not immediately respond to requests for comment outside business hours.

The second person familiar with the plans confirmed the presence of several large U.S. chips companies, including Amkor, their Vietnamese partners, such as tech company FPT, and Vietnamese and U.S. top officials, including Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Semiconductors are expected to be a focal point during Biden’s visit to Hanoi on Sunday and Monday, U.S. administration officials said, as the White House seeks to formally elevate relations with the former foe.

The roundtable has not been announced, and it is unclear whether announcements will be made by any of the companies attending the meeting, which one of the sources said would involve about 30 top executives and officials.

Some of those on the list have already invested or announced investments in Vietnam.

Intel has a $1.5 billion factory in southern Vietnam for assembling, packaging and testing chips, the biggest in its global network, and has had plans to expand it.

Amkor is building near Hanoi “a state-of-the-art mega factory for semiconductor assembly and testing,” Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said on a visit to Hanoi in July. The company has dozens of open positions on its Vietnam web page.

Chip designing firm Marvell has said it plans to build a “world-class” centre in Vietnam.

U.S. officials have repeatedly said that assembling and designing were the segments of the chipmaking industry where Vietnam was likely to grow faster, although a shortage of engineers could slow the industry take-off.

Vietnam has also ambitions to build its own chipmaking factories, or fabs. GlobalFoundries is specialised in making integrated circuits on wafers for smartphones, cars and other applications.

Vietnam is a major exporter of smartphones and electronics.

An executive at a major U.S. chips firm said the Vietnamese government had been holding meetings with most major chips companies in the country, including Intel, Samsung and Qualcomm, to ask for advice on setting up the country’s first fab.

U.S. officials have also said an upgrade of formal ties with Vietnam could help collaboration on artificial intelligence (AI), a sector in which Google is a major global player.

Vingroup, Vietnam’s largest conglomerate and the parent of Nasdaq-listed electric car maker VinFast, has a unit focussed on AI.

Boeing may announce a deal involving the sale of 50 of its 737 MAX jets, people familiar with the matter told Reuters. Boeing declined to comment.

(Reporting by Francesco Guarascio @fraguarascio; additional reporting by Fanny Potkin; Editing by William Mallard)