TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Taiwan's chip makers next year will match U.S. semiconductor companies in capital spending -- $12.7 billion for each region, according to David Wang, senior vice president of Applied Materials Inc., the world's largest semiconductor capital equipment maker.
Not only that, but by 2001, the Taiwanese firms will exceed their U.S. counterparts, $15.4 billion to $15.0 billion, according to Wang's forecast.
The big chip investment here is driven by foundries that are now running at 100% of capacity -- a dramatic turnaround from October 1998, when foundries were using only 60% of their capacity, Wang said.
The Santa Clara, Calif.-based executive said Taiwan's spending will continue to grow to $18.5 billion in 2002, comprising 36.8% of all global chip capital spending, and to $21.5 billion in 2003 with 37.6% of the world's total.
For the semiconductor equipment portion of capital spending, Taiwan this year will spend $4.2 billion -- more than double the $1.8 billion in Korea and 10 times the $468 million in Singapore, Wang estimated.
A surprising statistic from Wang was the $1 billion chip capital investment in China, third largest in the Asia-Pacific region outside Japan. Wang said that the lion's share of that was due to the investments by Japan's NEC Corp. and the Chinese government in Hua Hong NEC Semiconductor Co. of Shanghai. However, investment in backend chip and assembly plants in China this year will total $375 million, greater than any other Asia Pacific country except Taiwan.