German minister visits Taiwan to strengthen semiconductor ties

Bryan Chuang, Taipei; Eifeh Strom, DIGITIMES Asia 0

Wu Tsung-tsong (L) and Bettina Stark-Watzinger. Credit: DIGITIMES

German federal minister of education and research Bettina Stark-Watzinger is paying a brief visit to Taiwan to strengthen Germany's ties in chip manufacturing technology and to expand talent exchanges.

Stark-Watzinger's visit marks the second visit by a German minister to Taiwan in 26 years. Previously, the minister for economics at the time Gunter Rexrodt visited Taiwan in 1997.

Stark-Watzinger has met with Taiwan's minister of the national science and technology council Wu Tsung-tsong and minister of education Pan Wen-chung.

During the height of the pandemic in January 2021, the German Minister for Economics sent a letter to Taiwan's Minister of Economic Affairs Wang Mei-hua hoping to coordinate with Taiwan's semiconductor industry to increase production capacity.

In November 2022, Wu visited Germany and stated it was clear that the German government has attached great importance to Taiwan's semiconductor industry since the chip shortage in 2021.

On March 21, Taiwan's representative to Germany Shieh Jhy-Wey and director general of the German Insitute Taipei Jorg Polster signed the Taiwan-Germany Science and Technology Agreement (STA), witnessed by Wu and Stark-Watzinger.

Based on the STA, Taiwan and Germany will work together in science and technology fields in the future, focusing on cooperation in the fields of semiconductors, hydrogen energy, lithium battery, artificial intelligence (AI), and talent cultivation.

On March 22, a 14-member delegation is scheduled to visit the Siemens training center at Nangang Vocational High School and meet with Pan to discuss Chinese language education and semiconductor institutions. Afterward, the delegation will end their visit at the Taiwan Semiconductor Research Institute (TSRI) in Hsinchu and then return to Germany.

A legislative proposal and report for the European Commission's (EC) European Chip Act point out that globally only Taiwan and South Korea have the ability to produce the most advanced chips. As a result, the EC recommends that European Union (EU) members explore cooperation with like-minded partners to ensure supply chain security.

Relevant officials have said there is plenty of room for cooperation between Taiwan and the EU in the restructuring of the global supply semiconductor chain, industry recovery, and strengthening of democratic resilience. Officials added that Taiwan will continue to strengthen bilateral and multilateral cooperation with the EU and its member states through existing dialog and cooperative channels, and aims to deepen its European partnerships.

In regard to questions about whether Taiwan is using TSMC's establishment of a factory as a bargaining chip for the Taiwan-EU Bilateral Investment Agreement (BIA) or whether European countries will fold under pressure from China and refuse the agreement, Wu reiterated that Taiwan is a democratic country and that the government does not intervene in the overseas investment decision-making of private companies.