Taipei--Taiwan will likely fall behind South Korea and China to become the world's third largest semiconductor equipment market in 2018 as its two rivals build up their IC sectors, a report released by global industrial association SEMI showed Wednesday.
According to a forecast by SEMI, which serves the micro- and nano-electronics industries, South Korea is likely to replace Taiwan as the world's largest IC equipment market in 2017 on nearly 70 percent growth in equipment purchases.
China is then expected to unseat Taiwan in 2018 as the second largest IC equipment market in the world, according to SEMI's forecast.
In 2016, equipment sales in Taiwan totaled US$12.23 billion, making it the world's largest semiconductor equipment market for the fifth consecutive year, ahead of South Korea's US$7.69 billion and China's US$6.46 billion, according to SEMI.
But Taiwan's IC equipment purchases are expected to grow only 4.09 percent in 2017 from a year earlier to US$12.73 billion, while South Korea's purchases are expected to soar 68.7 percent year-on- year to US$12.97 billion.
IC equipment sales in China are expected to reach US$6.84 billion in 2017, up 5.88 percent from a year earlier, helping Beijing retain its ranking as the third largest IC equipment buyer in the world this year, SEMI said.
The association forecast South Korea's IC equipment purchases in 2018 to grow to US$13.38 billion, solidifying its hold on the top spot, while China will become the world's second largest market with IC equipment sales of US$11.04 billion, compared with US$10.87 billion in sales in Taiwan.
SEMI predicted global IC equipment sales to grow 19.8 percent in 2017 to US$49.4 billion, which would top the previous record of US$47.7 billion in sales set in 2000.
Sales of equipment used for wafer production should hit US$39.8 billion this year, up 21.7 percent from a year earlier, while sales of IC packaging and testing equipment are expected to grow 12.8 percent and 6.4 percent, respectively, year-on-year to US$3.4 billion and US$3.9 billion, SEMI said.
Despite the predicted fall in Taiwan's equipment purchase ranking, an official with the Industrial Economics and Knowledge Center (IEK) under the government-sponsored Industrial Technology Research Institute said he remained confident in Taiwan's semiconductor sector.
Ray Yang (???), a deputy division chief at IEK, said South Korea is looking to strengthen its NAND Flash memory chip industry and China is keen to develop its DRAM sector, so their equipment purchases are unlikely to dent Taiwan's contract chip manufacturing lead.
Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC, ???) currently has a more than 50 percent stake in the global pure wafer foundry market.
Yang contended that the growing strength of South Korea's NAND Flash development and China's DRAM development will post greater threats to the United States and Japan than to Taiwan.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel