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Taiwan’s small investment in Lithuanian chip production is better than it sounds

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Taiwan, the world’s largest supplier of semiconductors, offers an unexpected helping hand to Lithuania – and with it to Europe as a whole.

The Asian country will invest just over €10 million ($9.98 million) in the production of chips in the Baltic country, the head of Taiwan’s representative office in Vilnius said Monday.

as Reuters reportsTaiwan’s Industrial Technology and Research Institute (ITRI) will partner with Lithuanian electronics manufacturer Teltonika to develop semiconductor technology, while more than a dozen Taiwanese scholarships will be offered to Lithuanians for training purposes.

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According to Eric Huang – head of the representative office – the investment of €10 million will be completed early next year. The money is part of a €200 million investment fund and a €1 billion loan facility for Lithuania and other Central and Eastern European countries.

Even the mention of a European chip partnership with a powerhouse like Taiwan is remarkable. So far, the country has only approached strategic partners such as the US and Japan – global players amid mounting tensions with China. would come to defend the island.

This investment is good news for Europe. When it comes to the production of semiconductor chips, Europe does not actually exist. This was shown in stark terms during the pandemic, as supply chains crumbled and the continent struggled to buy potato chips, causing entire industries to crack.

The EU has, of course, taken note of – and has sought to increase its domestic chip production capacity in two main ways.

First, it has the European Chips Act this year, which aims to build a local semiconductor industry. Second, it has tried to attract big players to build factories on the continent, such as its €68 billion investment in Intel to open a German site.

Of course, none of these steps made much of a difference, and the continent continues to rely on Asian manufacturers. And there are some arguments that these movements of the block are too little, too late. But there is cause for hope.

Yes, Taiwan’s 10 million euro investment in Lithuania is a drop in the ocean. Creating a functioning semiconductor chip industry in Europe will require hundreds of billions, if not trillions of euros in investment, but this symbolic move points to a brighter future for the continent.

Europe may be just at the beginning of its plans to become a chip maker, but that little bit of movement is better than nothing. After all, all journeys start with one step.

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