This study discusses the current status and future prospects of the Biden administration’s U.S.-centered supply chain reorganization policy for the semiconductor and electric vehicle battery industries. In addition, based on the current status of the global semiconductor and battery industry supply chain, this study addresses the future direction of the industry supply chain reorganization. Finally, this study indirectly estimates the impact of implementation of the Biden government’s supply chain restructuring policy on the U.S. and Korean economies, and derives policy implications accordingly.
In February 2021, President Biden signed an Executive Order on the implementation of the supply chain structure and development strategy for major industries in the U.S. Accordingly, a government- wide review of the supply chain structure, supply chain risks, and policy proposals for four key items (semiconductors, large-capacity batteries, core minerals, and pharmaceuticals) over a 100-day period was announced in June 2021. Subsequently, in February 2022, the results of a one-year analysis by seven relevant government departments were released to secure a stable supply chain in six major industries (defense, health, ICT, energy, transportation, and agriculture). Meanwhile, the U.S. Congress passed a series of bills to strengthen the nation’s supply chain. For example, the CHIPS and Science Act of 2022, which includes incentives for investment in semiconductor manufacturing facilities and equipment in the U.S., was passed by the Congress on July 28, 2022. In addition, the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022 for electric vehicle purchase subsidy policy was passed in Congress, and took effect on August 16, 2022 upon President Biden’s signing.
This study examines the changes in the global supply chain in the semiconductor and battery industries of the U.S. and Korea using the export and import concentrations for each major item. First of all, while the supply chain for system semiconductor exports in the U.S. shows a trend toward diversification, the supply chain for imports is gradually becoming more centralized. From the perspective of stabilizing the supply chain, it is clear that U.S. system semiconductor exports are diversifying, but the fact that the U.S. is increasingly dependent on imports from Asia remains a challenge. On the other hand, the memory semiconductor sales supply chain in the U.S. also showed a trend of diversification due to the expansion of exports to North America, while the purchasing supply chain remains highly concentrated due to the high proportion of imports from Asia. Unlike the previous two items, U.S. semiconductor manufacturing equipment exports tend to be quite concentrated due to their high dependence on Asia, while the U.S. supply chain for purchasing these items is relatively diversified, centering on Japan and the Netherlands.
Both the sales and purchase supply chains of system semiconductors in Korea show a strong tendency of centralization. First of all, Korea’s system semiconductor exports are highly dependent on Asia, and imports of these items are mostly dependent on North America, including the U.S., specialized in system semiconductor design. Korea’s memory semiconductor exports are mainly concentrated in the Asian region including China, which has a huge domestic market, based on the international competitiveness of Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix. On the other hand, Korea’s imports of these items tend to be quite concentrated, with the share of North America significantly decreasing and being replaced by imports from Asian sources. Finally, Korea’s semiconductor manufacturing equipment sales supply chain has recently become more centralized as its dependence on exports to Asia has increased.
In regards to the battery industry, the U.S. lithium-ion battery export and import markets show different patterns in terms of concentration. First of all, the export supply chain is spread evenly in North America, Europe, Oceania, and Asia, showing a considerably diversified structure. On the other hand, U.S. imports of these items tend to be concentrated, although their dependence on imports from Asia has eased with a slight increase in the portion of imports from Europe recently. Meanwhile, Korea’s lithium-ion battery export market is gradually reducing its high dependence on Asia thanks to Korean battery producers (LG Energy Solutions, SK On, Samsung SDI) with global manufacturing competitiveness, while steadily expanding and diversifying export regions. On the other hand, Korea’s supply chain for imports of these items is highly concentrated, with a high dependence on Japan and China, which have strengths in material and mineral processing.
For the first analysis to indirectly examine the economic impact of the global supply chain reorganization of the semiconductor and battery industries, we estimate the impact of changes in the export share of the semiconductor or battery industry by country on the change in GDP per capita. Our results show an increase in the export share of semiconductors or batteries has a statistically significant increase in GDP per capita. These results support the reason why the Biden administration is moving to expand its exports through the reorganization of the U.S.-centered supply chain in the industry. By reorganizing the supply chain centered on the U.S., President Biden intends to attract production facilities in weak sectors such as memory semiconductors, foundries, and lithium-ion battery manufacturing to the U.S. through cooperation with partner countries such as Taiwan and Korea in the short term. In conclusion, this policy promotion seems to be part of a strategy to discover sustainable economic growth engines for the U.S. while checking China’s technological rise in key industries, and restoring U.S. leadership.
Secondly, we estimate the impact of changes in export concentration or import concentration by semiconductor or battery item in the U.S. and Korea on the change in net exports by the two countries. First of all, in the case of the U.S. semiconductor industry, changes in export concentration and import concentration did not have a statistically significant effect on changes in net exports of the corresponding item. However, in the case of the Korean semiconductor industry, an increase in export concentration had a negative impact on the net export of the item, whereas a change in import concentration did not have a statistically significant effect on the change in Korea’s net export of the same item. In the case of the U.S. battery industry, as the import concentration by item increases, the U.S. net export of the same item decreases. However, we find that both the increase in the concentration of exports and the concentration of imports in the Korean battery industry decrease net exports of the product. Taken together, it can be inferred that the concentration of supply chains in the semiconductor and battery industries in the U.S. or Korea has the potential to hinder economic growth by reducing net exports of the relevant items in both countries.
Based on the above analysis results, this study concludes with the following policy implications. First, it is necessary to strengthen norms-based supply chain cooperation with the U.S. Second, it is necessary to expand efforts to maintain the technological gap in the memory semiconductor field, where Korea has strengths. Third, policy support is needed to enhance Korea’s competitiveness in the system semiconductor field, which is relatively weak. Fourth, it is necessary to prepare a prompt support system for semiconductor infrastructure based on the National High-tech Strategic Industries Act. Fifth, it is essential to expand tax support for investment in semiconductor facilities through revision of the Restriction of Special Taxation Act. Sixth, efforts are needed to diversify the lithium-ion battery supply chain. Seventh, it is necessary to strengthen cooperation between Korea and the U.S. in the field of next-generation battery technology.