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China Becomes World’s Biggest Buyer of Chip Equipment in 2020, Says SEMI

By Ding Yi / Apr 16, 2021 08:51 PM / Business & Tech

China bought more semiconductor manufacturing equipment than any other single country or region in 2020, as Beijing pursues self-sufficiency in chip production amid mounting tech tensions with Washington.

With sales of $18.72 billion, the Chinese mainland claimed the title as the world’s largest market for semiconductor manufacturing equipment for the first time last year, growing by 39% year-on-year, according to a report by SEMI, a U.S.-based industry association representing companies involved in electronics design and manufacturing supply chain. Semiconductor manufacturing equipment is mainly used for wafer processing, assembly, packaging and testing.

The previously largest market Taiwan took the second spot with a market size of $17.15 billion in terms of sales, basically flat from 2019. South Korea and Japan came in third and fourth with respective sales of $16.08 billion and $7.58 billion, according to the report.

China’s rise to become the world’s top buyer of chip-making equipment comes as domestic chipmakers are revving up their manufacturing capacities in the face of crippling U.S. policies that limit supplies of chips made with U.S. technology to certain Chinese tech giants including Huawei.

As part of efforts to spur the growth of its own semiconductor industry, China’s Finance Ministry in March announced a new policy that allows domestic chipmakers to import machinery and raw materials tax-free through 2030.

Overall, global sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment rose 19% year-on-year in 2020 to a record high of $71.2 billion, according to the SEMI report.

Contact reporter Ding Yi (yiding@caixin.com)

Related: Sanction-Hobbled SMIC to Keep Doing Business With Major Western Supplier

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