TOKYO The Electronic Industries Association of Japan (EIAJ) said it will dissolve its Users' Committee of Semiconductors (UCOM) effective Monday (August 2), the day after the U.S.-Japan Semiconductor Trade Agreement, established to help open Japan's semiconductor market to foreign suppliers, is set to expire.
UCOM was set up by the EIAJ 11 years ago after the U.S. government imposed sanctions on certain Japanese goods less than a year after the U.S. and Japanese governments struck a trade agreement intended to give foreign chip companies greater access to the Japanese market.
UCOM worked to promote business ties between foreign chip suppliers and Japanese users by sponsoring meetings, seminars and design-in activities. "It cannot be denied that such activities have placed a significant burden on user companies in Japan," the EIAJ said in a statement. "On the other hand, these programs have been highly evaluated by foreign supplier companies."
For the last several years, foreign semiconductor makers have held more than a 20 percent share of Japan's semiconductor market, the minimum marketshare figure called for under the expiring U.S.-Japan agreement. UCOM decided to dissolve last year, and by June 1999 a new World Semiconductor Council agreement was signed by the governments of the United States, Japan, South Korea and the European Community, which will be effective August 1. The United States and Japan agreed to allow their semiconductor agreement to expire at the same time.
"Although UCOM's dissolution and the conclusion of its activities are the result of a natural progression, they are also a truly fortunate event," said Mamoru Kitamura, corporate senior vice president of Toshiba Corp. and UCOM chairman. "With semiconductor manufacturers forming international ties and diversifying their business globally, semiconductors are becoming a borderless commodity. I think that there soon will be no such thing as a foreign semiconductor."