Cooperation between China and South Korea in the field of chip production continues and is even intensifying in some areas, despite the US desire to limit its development. It became known that the import of silicon wafers for the production of chips from China to South Korea continues to increase and has almost caught up with the indicators of Japanese-Korean cooperation in this market.
In particular, silicon wafers worth US$74.88 million were imported to South Korea in January, while US$77.70 million worth of silicon wafers were imported from Japan in the same month. At the same time, the import volume of silicon wafers from China continues to grow for years . If they were imported to South Korea in 2020 worth $424 million, a year later the volume rose to $653 million and in 2022 to $777.7 million. In January this year, despite the decline in the global semiconductor market, imports also increased significantly.
It is noteworthy that at the same time imports of similar products from Japan to South Korea are slowly declining. Plates worth US$916 million were imported in 2020, US$948 million in 2021 and US$897 million in 2022.
Historically, South Korea has traditionally imported most of the plates from Japan. The global market for related products is approximately $12 billion. The top five vendors control over 95% of the market. According to the SEMI Association, in 2021, Japan’s Shin-Etsu controlled 31.4% of the global market, Japan’s Sumco 24.4%, Taiwan’s GlobalWafer 17.8%, South Korea’s SK Siltron 13.5%, and Germany’s Siltronic 9 .5%.
However, the market has changed a lot in the last two years. In China in particular, companies are developing that are not included in the SEMI statistics and supply inexpensive competing disks. In most cases we are talking about 150 and 200 mm versions in the lower and middle price segment.
According to South Korean customs, plates from Japan cost between $550,000 and $650,000 per ton, while Chinese versions are incomparably cheaper – from $50,000 to $120,000.