Taiwan says U.S. thanks it for help on auto chips amid shortage

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FILE PHOTO: A demonstrator holds flags of Taiwan and the United States in support of Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen during an stop-over after her visit to Latin America in Burlingame

TAIPEI (Reuters) – The United States thanked Taiwan on Friday for help on resolving an auto chip shortage that has snarled production, but there was no discussion on prioritising the making of these chips, Taiwan Economy Minister Wang Mei-hua said after a high-level meeting.

Car factories around the world are shutting assembly lines because of the chip shortages, which in some cases have been exacerbated by the former Trump administration’s actions against Chinese chip companies.

Taiwan, home to tech firms such as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), the world’s largest contract chip maker, has become front and centre of efforts to resolve the shortage.

“The U.S. side thanked us for our help on this,” Wang told reporters of the meeting, which she said was attended by senior executives from companies including TSMC and Qualcomm Inc.

But she said the focus of the talks was not on auto chips and the issue of whether to prioritise their production was not brought up.

Wang said TSMC also discussed its planned new $12 billion plant in the U.S. state of Arizona, although she did not give details.

TSMC declined to comment on the meeting.

The auto chip shortage has affected Volkswagen AG, Ford Motor Co, Subaru Corp, Toyota Motor Corp, Nissan Motor Co Ltd, Fiat Chrysler and other car makers.

The closed-door event, joined by the Taiwan minister and what she described as “very senior U.S. officials”, is the first announced high-level exchange between Taiwan and the Biden administration, which took office on Jan. 20.

The State Department said last week that Deputy Assistant Secretary for Trade Policy and Negotiations Matt Murray would take part.

The de facto U.S. ambassador to Taiwan, Brent Christensen, did attend, and was seen getting into his car after the meeting was over.

Despite a lack of formal diplomatic ties, the United States is Chinese-claimed Taiwan’s most important international backer and arms supplier.

(Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Kim Coghill and Raju Gopalakrishnan)

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