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Pres. Biden to visit Taiwan’s TSMC chip plant in Arizona

U.S. President Joe Biden will visit TSMC’s Arizona plant on Tuesday as the Taiwanese chipmaker said it will more than triple its planned investment there to $40 billion, among the largest foreign investments in American history.

The investment is a big win for Biden after supply chain issues disrupted the U.S. economy early in his presidency.

Joining Biden for his visit to Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd’s facility in Phoenix to promote efforts to boost U.S. technology manufacturing will be Apple Inc Chief Executive Tim Cook, TSMC founder Morris Chang and the head of chipmaker Micron Technology Inc, Sanjay Mehrotra, and NVIDIA Corp (NVDA.O) founder and CEO Jensen Huang, among others, the White House said.

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They will attend a “tool-in” ceremony, which is the symbolic moving of the first equipment onto the shop floor of the new $12 billion facility. The plant is scheduled to be operational in 2024.

TSMC is the world’s largest contract chipmaker and a leading supplier to major U.S. hardware manufacturers such as Apple and NVIDIA.

“Bringing TSMC’s investment to the United States is a masterstroke and a game-changing development for the industry,” NVIDIA’s Huang said in remarks prepared for Tuesday’s event.

TSMC said it will build a second nearby facility that will produce advanced N3 chips by 2026, and that its current facility will develop even more cutting-edge chips than originally proposed.

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TSMC’s investment in Arizona at two facilities will total $40 billion, making it the company’s largest investment outside of Taiwan, and one of the largest foreign direct investments in U.S. history.

The company also said when complete, the two plants will make over 600,000 wafers a year, with an estimated end-product value of more than $40 billion. A wafer is the round shiny disc that is used to make chips.

It also said it is planning to build an industrial water reclamation plant. Chip making is a water-intensive process, and Arizona, much of which is desert, is increasingly struggling with water shortages.

TSMC said its Phoenix factories are expected to create 10,000 high-tech jobs, including 4,500 TSMC jobs.

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Biden has sought to boost production of semiconductors after the pandemic caused supply chain problems that resulted in shortages of chips for vehicles and many other items.

U.S. semiconductor production now accounts for just 12% of the global total, down from 37% two decades ago, a White House report on supply chain problems said last year.

Taiwan’s dominant position as a maker of chips used in technology from cellphones and cars to fighter jets has sparked concerns of overreliance on the island, especially as China ramps up military pressure to assert its sovereignty claims.

China claims Taiwan as its territory despite the strong objections of the democratically elected government in Taipei, which rejects Beijing’s sovereignty claims.

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The $52.7 billion Chips and Science Act, signed into law by Biden in August, is aimed at preventing a resurgence of supply chain woes.

“The occasion for the president’s travel is to mark a significant milestone that TSMC is reaching in bringing the most advanced semiconductor manufacturing back to the U.S.,” said Brian Deese, director of the White House National Economic Council.

Biden’s victory in Arizona in the 2020 presidential election helped catapult him to the White House after Republican Donald Trump won the state in 2016.

Biden has said he intends to seek a second four-year term in 2024.

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