Taiwan PCB supply chain flocking to Thailand

Janet Kang, Taipei; Steve Shen, DIGITIMES Asia 0

A view of downtown Bangkok, Thailand's bustling commercial and political capital. Credit: Pixabay

Apple is reportedly discussing with its manufacturing partners to move part of the production lines for MacBook and Apple Watch devices from China to Thailand, according to industry sources.

The report underscored an accelerating shift of manufacturing away from China as Washington-Beijing tensions continue to grow, said the sources.

The selective decoupling from China has been in process since 2022-2023, with Apple's production partners significantly expanding their capacities in Southeast Asia for producing such products as iPhones, iPads, and MacBooks.

The supply chain sources indicated that Foxconn has set up a MacBook production line in Vietnam. And Quanta Computer has decided to build a factory in northern Vietnam to produce notebook products.

As the second largest economy in Southeast Asia, Thailand has been one of the favorite locations for Taiwan-based PCB makers to enhance their overseas investments in recent years.

Related PCB suppliers are facing severe challenges in China, including geopolitical tensions and electricity and labor shortages, and are accelerating the shift of their manufacturing capacity away from China, said the sources.

On the other hand, Thailand is continuously improving the value chain of its PCB industry through the availability of lower manufacturing costs, a stable water supply, and government-backed investment incentives.

As such, Taiwan-based upstream and downstream PCB supply chain makers, including CCL, FCCL, and PCB suppliers, are gradually expanding their operations in Thailand.

FCCL maker, Taiflex Scientific, moved fast and started building a factory in Thailand at the end of 2022 with an initial investment of US$35 million. The new plant aims to produce double-sided, non-adhesive copper foil substrates, with mass production likely to begin in mid-2024.

CCL (copper clad-laminate) suppliers Taiwan Union Technology (TUC) and Elite Material (EMS) said that they will also venture into Thailand.

Meanwhile, PCB makers, including Unimicron Technology, Tripod Technology, Dynamic Electronics, and Nanya PCB, have all announced plans to expand their production capacities in Thailand.

Apex International currently produces 100% of its PCB products in Thailand, and fellow companies Chin-Poon Industrial and Advanced Printed Circuit Board (APCB) operate branch offices in Thailand.

And industry insiders pointed out that HDI board makers Compeq Manufacturing and United Printed Circuit Board will likely remove part of their HDI capacities to new plants in Thailand, capitalizing on upscaling MacBook shipments from the country.