Report: Taiwan loses top spot to South Korea in semiconductor market

The Semiconductor Equipment Forecast reveals a new record high sale in 2017 with Korea at top

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TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Taiwan is losing its status as the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturing equipment market to its long-time rival South Korea in 2017 and is expected to be overtaken by China in the following year, according to an authoritative industry report.

SEMI, the global industry association of companies representing the electronics manufacturing supply chain, recently released its year-end forecast for the semiconductor manufacturing equipment market worldwide. It projects that worldwide sales of new semiconductor manufacturing equipment will increase by 35.6 percent to reach a new record high of US$55.9 billion in 2017, followed by an 7.5 percent growth the next year.  

In 2017, South Korea will dethrone Taiwan, which maintained the top spot five years in a row, to become the largest equipment market for the first time. Taiwan will take second place, while China will come in third. South Korea will lead in growth with 132.6 percent, followed by Europe at 57.2 percent, and Japan at 29.9 percent.

In 2018, according to the forecast, equipment sales in China will climb the most by nearly 50 percent, which could see that country surpass Taiwan as the second largest market.

Taiwan’s and the world's biggest contract chip maker TSMC Co-CEO C. C. Wei asserted Taiwan’s status in the global supply chain as “irreplaceable” at an event in November; he pointed out both challenges and opportunities for the semiconductor industry ahead. Wei urged Taiwanese companies to hop on the artificial intelligence (AI) bandwagon amid the growing threat from their Chinese counterparts as China pushes to become a tech superpower.