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EU will develop its partnership with Japan on chip supply chain

July 4, 2023: The European Union is examining to collaborate more closely with Japan on crucial technologies such as artificial intelligence, the bloc’s industry chief said, as the coalition examines to reduce its reliance on China in certain areas.

E.U. Commissioner Thierry Breton is satisfying with the Japanese government on Monday, and artificial intelligence will be “very high” on his agenda, he said in a video posted on Twitter on Sunday.

“I will engage with [the] Japanese government on how we can organize our digital space, including A.I. based on our shared value,” Breton said.

Breton also said an EU-Japan Digital Partnership council would discuss areas including quantum and high-performance computing. The E.U. held a similar council with South Korea last week, in which the two sides agreed to cooperate on technologies such as A.I. and cybersecurity.

Partnerships with key Asian countries with robust technology sectors come as the E.U. looks to “de-risk” from China, a different approach from that of the U.S., which has sought to decouple its economy from Beijing.

Part of that E.U. strategy involves deepening the relationship with allied countries around technology.

Breton told Reuters on Monday that the bloc and Japan will cooperate in semiconductors. Japan is a critical country in the semiconductor supply chain, and Tokyo has been looking to strengthen its domestic industry. Last week, a fund backed by the Japanese government proposed to buy domestic chipmaking company JSR for around 903.9 billion yen ($6.3 billion).

The E.U. has also sought to strengthen its semiconductor industry across the bloc.

Semiconductors are vital components that go into everything from cars to smartphones and have possible military applications. Countries worldwide have been reassessing their supply chains, and some, like the U.S., have looked to bring semiconductor manufacturing back onshore.

Semiconductors are also required to train artificial intelligence models. A.I. and chips are two critical areas of future technology that countries are trying to position themselves to take advantage of.

At the identical time, the U.S., in particular, has sought to cut China off from critical technologies, such as semiconductors, through export restrictions, and Washington has looked to convince European allies to join.

In the previous week, the Netherlands, home to one of the world’s most critical chip firms, ASML, reported new export rules on advanced semiconductor equipment.

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