UPDATED. 2024-02-23 09:48 (금)
Korea’s import of silicon wafer from China matching those from Japan
Korea’s import of silicon wafer from China matching those from Japan
  • Kang sung tae
  • 승인 2023.03.03 10:01
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Image: SK Siltron
Image: SK Siltron

South Korea’s import of silicon wafers from China reached US$74.882 million in January, close to the US$77.704 million worth imported from Japan in the same month.

The country’s import of silicon wafers from China has continued to increase over the years at a paid pace.

In 2020, a total of US$424 million worth was imported from China, but the figure reached US$563 million in the following year and US$777.7 million in 20922.

The steep increase in January is also despite the recent downturn in the global chip market.

Conversely, South Korea’s import of silicon wafers from Japan has fallen over the same time period, though slowly. In 2020 a total of US$916 million was imported; in 2021 the figure was US$948 million and in 2022 the figure was US$897 million.

Silicon wafers are used to make the semiconductor circuit patterns that are later cut out as chips.

South Korea has traditionally imported them from Japan in the past and the global silicon wafer market is worth around US$12 billion.

The top five vendors dominate over 95% of the market. According to SEMI, in 2021, Japan’s Shin-Etsu controlled 31.4% market share, followed by compatriot Sumco’s 24.4%. Taiwan’s GlobalWafers had 17.8%, South Korea’s SK Siltron had 13.5%, and Germany’s Siltronic 9.5%.

But the past two years have changed the market. Many companies that are unaccounted for by SEMI have risen in China over the years.

These companies are rising thanks to their cost competitiveness. Most China-made wafers imported are low- to mid-end 6-inch and 8-inch wafers.

According to South Korea’s customs service, wafers imported from Japan cost between US$550,000 to US$650,000 per tonne, while those from China cost US$50,000 to US$120,000 per tonne.


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