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Japanese chipmakers seek tariffs on Hynix

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June 16,2004
Japan’s semiconductor industry is asking its government to impose tariffs on Korean memory chips. Elpida Memory Inc. and Micron Japan filed a petition with the Japanese Ministry of Finance yesterday to impose countervailing duties on imports of dynamic random access memory (DRAM) chips and modules manufactured by Hynix Semiconductor Inc., which is based in Korea. “The loans that government-financed banks provided to Hynix are unfair subsidies,” Elpida said. “Because of those loans, Hynix was able to come into Japan at unreasonably low prices.” The petition is directly aimed at Hynix, yet covers all other companies that purchase Hynix DRAMs and then export the products to Japan as well. The two companies began looking into this petition last year after similar ones were filed in the United States and Europe. “The United States and European Union made unfair rulings to protect the DRAM industry in their countries. We hope the Japanese government will base their judgment on legal evidence,” Hynix said yesterday in a statement. It added, however, that it will work on alternate measures to reduce damages in the worst-case scenario. The Japanese government will investigate for two months and make a final decision within one year. Japanese media reported yesterday that it was highly probable that the government would impose duties and that the rates would be about 30 to 50 percent. Industry analysts say that if the Japanese government does decide to impose countervailing duties, it will be a big blow to Hynix, especially since other Asian countries such as Taiwan may move to demand tariffs as well. This is the first time chipmakers in either country have asked for such protection. Three years ago, NEC Corp., Toshiba Inc. and Hitachi Ltd., all Japanese firms, talked about requesting that anti-dumping duties be imposed on Korean memory chips, but left the business soon after. Elpida is the largest DRAM maker in Japan with headquarters in Tokyo. Micron is a subsidiary of the U.S. Micron Technology Inc., a major DRAM manufacturer. by Kim Hyun-ki, Wohn Dong-hee


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