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Trump’s Whiplash on China Leaves Chip Industry Spinning

  • Deal for TSMC semiconductor plant in Arizona raised optimism
  • New Commerce Department rules swiftly dashed those hopes
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U.S. Tightens Rules to Crack Down on Huawei’s Chip Supply

Trump administration efforts to secure high-tech jobs while piling pressure on China sparked hope then despair this week across the U.S. chip industry, one of the country’s biggest export engines.

Late Thursday, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., the world’s largest contract chipmaker, said it will build a $12 billion plant in Arizona. The deal suggested U.S. companies might be able to supply TSMC free from export restrictions -- a rare easing of tensions in a trade war that’s shaken the sector for more than a year.

That optimism only lasted a few hours. By Friday morning, the Commerce Department unveiled new rules that require any chipmaker using U.S. technology to get a license before they can sell to Huawei Technologies Co. The U.S. has labeled the Chinese company a national security threat, an accusation it has denied.