Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) set plans to build a $12 billion semiconductor factory in the US, a major boost to government efforts to increase domestic production of critical goods and reduce reliance on imports from China.

In a statement, the world’s largest contract manufacturer of chips said the factory in Arizona would have a capacity of 20,000 wafers per month and create more than 1,600 jobs. It aims to begin construction in 2021, with production of its most advanced 5nm chips targeted to commence in 2024.

The company also operates a chip factory in Washington state along with design centres in Texas and California.

TSMC added the project is of “critical, strategic importance to a vibrant and competitive US semiconductor ecosystem that enables leading US companies to fabricate their cutting-edge semiconductor products within the United States and benefit from the proximity of a world-class semiconductor foundry and ecosystem”.

Local production
The announcement comes days after reports US officials held discussions with TSMC and others about expanding manufacturing capabilities in the country.

Officials in the country are keen to reduce reliance on imported goods, particularly those from China during an ongoing trade spat.

The move could also help TSMC dodge any potential impact from a recent US Department of Commerce (DoC) move to restrict component supplies to Huawei: the chip maker is a key supplier to the vendor’s HiSilicon business and could be hard hit by any blocks.

A DoC official said the move to build a second US factory generates “good will” at the department, Reuters reported.