“We’re in the preliminary stage of reviewing whether to go to Germany,” Nikkei Asia Review quoted Mark Liu, chairman of TSMC telling shareholders at the company’s annual general meeting yesterday. “It’s still very early, but we are seriously evaluating it, and [a decision] will depend on our customers’ needs.”

The move into would be a break with TSMC’s long-standing policy of focusing the majority of its production on a few sites in Taiwan. TSMC has built fabs in the US (Wafertech) and in China in the past. It has also committed to building a major chip facility in Arizona.

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Liu was also reported saying TSMC is considering whether to build a wafer fab in Japan. There had been previous reports that TSMC was looking to support major customer Sony with a Japanese wafer fab from 2023. Liu said that TSMC has conducted due diligence on the proposal but that the cost of operating in Japan is an issue. “The cost to build and operate a chip plant in Japan is much higher than doing so in Taiwan…..we are directly discussing with our clients ways to narrow the cost gap there,” Nikkei quoted Liu telling shareholders.

However, Liu also said TSMC agrees with founder Morris Chang’s recent remarks that efforts with goal of total regional self-sufficiency would be wasted. Liu said that aside from issues over national and regional security, a free market was the best way for chip business and the development of semiconductor technology.

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