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Lithuanian chipmaker sets up in Belgium to avoid Chinese boycott

Founder tries to rid his product of ‘Lithuanian smell’ for clients

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Lithuanian flag. (Getty images)

Lithuanian flag. (Getty images)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Brolis Group, a family-owned semiconductor company based in Lithuania, has decided to move its planned factory from its home market to Belgium in order to avoid Chinese sanctions aimed at punishing Lithuania for its blossoming ties with Taiwan.

Kristijonas Vizbaras, the founder of the firm, told The New York Times anything with even the faintest “Lithuanian smell” risks being barred from entering China. An in-depth report by the newspaper features Vizbaras’ story as an example of the extraordinary measures Lithuanian businesses are taking to adapt as the country’s economic spat with China continues.

Vizbaras said that Lithuania has become a “toxic label” and that China’s economic might, coupled with its ability to detect products from third countries that contain components originating in Lithuania, have forced him to relocate parts of his business. Brolis Group is now building its new US$50 million (NT$1.39 billion) plant in Belgium in the hope its foreign clients will not get blacklisted by China for using their laser sensor chips.

Lithuania’s Central Bank estimates China’s sanctions will trim between 0.1 to 0.5 percentage points off of the country’s GDP growth this year, per LRT English. The losses are projected to increase to between 0.3 and 1.3 points in 2023.

Yet, the bank also says Taiwanese investment in the country could add 0.1 percentage points to GDP growth this year. Another 0.4% will be added in 2023 and 2024 and 0.3% in 2025, it projects.