Invest in Pakistan Summit: Can Pakistan Benefit From US-China Tech War?

About 200 Pakistani-American and other American investors met at Invest in Pakistan Summit in Silicon Valley on October 3, 2019 at San Jose Sheraton. It was hosted by the Pakistan Embassy in Washington DC. One of the sessions I found interesting dealt with the opportunities presented to Pakistan by US-China technology war sparked by US President Trump's actions against Chinese technology giants Huawei and ZTE.  In response to the US threat to restrict access to American core technology, China is aiming to develop and produce 40% of the semiconductors it uses by 2020 and 70% by 2025, according to Washington-based CSIS report. It is estimated that China needs about 500,000 engineers to achieve this goal. Can Pakistan, a reliable Chinese ally, train and provide some of these engineers?



US-China Tech War:

The technology war between the United States and China has been going on with the roll-out of the 5G next generation broadband wireless technology.  China has developed its 5G technology in an attempt to become independent of the technology developed and controlled by companies in the United States and other western nations.  US has been actively trying to stop adoption of Chinese company Huawei's 5G technology in Europe, East Asia, Australia and New Zealand. So far, the US has had limited success while China's Huawei is continuing to win customers around the world.




Tech Supply Chain Bifurcation:

President Trump has also attempted to block Chinese companies' access to semiconductor components and software developed and sold by US companies. Both Huawei and ZTE have been riding a roller coaster with President Trump's daily tweets on this issue. It has affected reliable access to communication chips, Android operating systems and Google apps store.

The net result of it is that the Chinese have lost faith in US companies' reliability. They are now seeking to to create their own supply chain free of companies from US and its close allies in Europe, East Asia and elsewhere.




China's Plans:

China is currently a net importer of technology. The country wants to move “up the value chain” from final product assembly using imported components to creating advanced technology in China itself, but imports of chips and technology will be the norm for many years to come, according to a report by James Lewis of Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) based in Washington DC.

As of now, only 16% of the semiconductors used in China are produced domestically, and only half of these are made by Chinese firms. It is dependent on foreign suppliers for advanced chips. China aims to produce 40% of the semiconductors it uses by 2020 and 70% by 2025, according to the CSIS report.



Opportunity For Pakistan:

China will need 500,000 engineers trained in chip development over the next 5 years to meet its goal of producing 70% of semiconductors within the country, according to Pakistani-American entrepreneur Dr. Naveed Sherwani who presented at the Invest in Pakistan Summit in Silicon Valley.

Naveed and his wife Sabahat Rafiq see this as an opportunity to train a significant number Pakistani engineers in semiconductor chip development to meet China's needs. This will help develop Pakistan's tech-oriented human capital and open up the possibility for Pakistan to build its own chip design and development industry.

Sabahat said she is already training some engineers at an institute in Lahore for this purpose.  She is hoping to expand it to accommodate more trainees in near future.

Naveed currently heads SiFive, a Silicon Valley startup specializing in RISC V microprocessor cores for customized systems on chip (SoC) development.  RISC V is an open source chip architecture developed at UC Berkeley. It is the hardware equivalent of open source Linux OS software.  Naveed is promoting SiFive in both China and Pakistan for "low-power embedded microcontrollers (as small as 13.5k gates) to multi-core applications processors".

Cloud Design:

Naveed talked about the availability of cloud-based advanced chip design tools that Pakistani chip designers can take advantage of. Among the top vendors offering such tools is  Amazon Web Services (AWS).

AWS says it "offers a secure, agile, and scalable platform with a comprehensive set of services and solutions for high performance design, verification, and smart manufacturing, supporting electronic design automation (EDA) and rapid semiconductor innovation in the cloud. Semiconductor companies, including fabless and integrated device manufacturers, and their IP and foundry partners can benefit from the massive scale of AWS infrastructure to design next gen connected products".

Here's how AWS describes its cloud-based chip design tools offering:

"Semiconductor design simulation, verification, lithography, metrology, yield analysis, and many other workloads benefit from the scalability and performance of the AWS Cloud. For example, compute performance for these applications is enhanced by latest generation EC2 instance types, including the z1d. Run more jobs per core with z1d, the fastest single thread performance of any cloud instance delivering 4GHz sustained CPU, 16 GiB RAM per core, and local NVMe storage. Our virtually unlimited cloud storage and high performance computing (HPC) capability enable you to innovate faster, rapidly design and verify new products, and scale seamlessly to meet increasing demand".

Summary:

US-China technology war has recently been triggered by US President Trump's actions against Chinese technology giants Huawei and ZTE.  In response to the US threat to restrict access to American core technology, China is aiming to develop and produce 40% of the semiconductors it uses by 2020 and 70% by 2025, according to the CSIS report. China needs about 500,000 engineers to achieve this goal. Can Pakistan, a reliable ally, train and provide some of these engineers? Pakistani-American entrepreneur Dr. Naveed Sherwani and his wife Sabahat Rafiq believe the answer is an emphatic Yes. This will help develop Pakistan's tech-oriented human capital and open up the possibility for Pakistan to build its own chip design and development industry.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Pakistanis in China

Marvel Pays $7.5 Billion For Cavium Co-Founded by Pakistani-American

OPEN Silicon Valley Forum 2017: Pakistani Entrepreneurs Conference

Pakistani-American's Tech Unicorn Files For IPO at $1.6 Billion Valuation

Pakistani-American Cofounders Sell Startup to Cisco for $610 million

Pakistani Brothers Spawned $20 Billion Security Software Industry

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fireeye Goes Public

Pakistani-American Pioneered 3D Technology in Orthodontics

Pakistani-Americans Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Pakistani-American Shahid Khan Richest South Asian in America

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
#China enables #Pakistan to become a #defense exporter. #Technology transfers from China have enabled Pakistan to begin producing #military hardware on its own. It's true with the fighter jet that now forms the backbone of #Islamabad's defense strategy.
https://asia.nikkei.com/Politics/International-relations/China-enables-Pakistan-to-become-a-defense-exporter

When Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan began a high-profile trip to Beijing on Tuesday, he was closely shadowed by influential army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. But while Khan met with senior Chinese leaders and businessmen, Bajwa was being received by senior army generals, an indication of the close defense ties between the countries.

Those ties are so close, in fact, that China is helping Pakistan become a defense exporter that sells arms to countries like Myanmar and Nigeria.

Pakistan has relied on Chinese military hardware for more than five decades, though Islamabad has used every opportunity to also gain access to Western defense equipment, notably from the U.S.

Pakistan's leaders have long lamented their country's lukewarm ties with the U.S., which have sometimes resulted in reduced arms supplies. This contrasts to the situation with China, which has gradually but consistently nurtured Pakistan as a close ally.

Technology transfers from China have enabled Pakistan to begin producing military hardware on its own. This is true with the fighter jet that now forms the backbone of Islamabad's defense strategy. Pakistan is also increasingly foraying into the production of tanks and other equipment for land forces thanks to technology transfers from China.

Similarly, Chinese hardware is allowing Pakistan to expand its navy.

According to senior government officials who spoke to the Nikkei Asian Review, in the past year Pakistan has redoubled its push to sell batches of JF-17 Thunder fighters that it has built with Chinese assistance. Pakistani government officials said the JF-17 Block III, a version of the JF-17 that will be rolled out in 2020, will include more advanced radar, additional weaponry and other new technologies.

Officials in Islamabad say China has repeatedly helped Pakistan create a more commercially feasible defense industry so that purchasing expensive hardware does not cripple the country's already weak economy.

-------------
"Affordability and high quality are the main selling points of the JF-17," said retired Air Marshal Shahid Latif, a former Pakistan Air Force general previously involved with the JF-17 production project. Encouraged by the publicity given to Myanmar's purchase, Pakistan in the past year has discussed future sales to Malaysia and Azerbaijan as well as sales of additional fighters to Nigeria, which now has three JF-17s.

In the coming years, Pakistan's reliance on Chinese military hardware will grow. China has signed a contract to supply eight new submarines to Pakistan's navy, the largest defense deal ever between the countries. Although neither party has revealed the value of the contract, Western defense analysts say it could be worth from $4 billion to $5 billion depending on weapon systems and other add-ons.
Riaz Haq said…
A More Peaceful #Pakistan Puts On An IT Charm Offensive In #SiliconValley. #Technology #Investment via @forbes https://www.forbes.com/sites/dbloom/2019/10/14/a-more-peaceful-pakistan-puts-on-an-it-charm-offensive-in-silicon-valley/#3dd803901841

Pakistan is pushing its IT sector to U.S. companies and investors, hoping international deals will translate to a bottom-line boost for the country’s struggling economy.

The most visible part of this charm offensive came earlier this month with a day-long Silicon Valley conference in San Jose, Calif., backed by the Pakistani government.

“If I were to look at our overall economic performance, the IT sector comes out as one that has performed the best,” said Asad Majeed Khan, the Pakistani ambassador to the United States and one of the conference speakers. “The whole idea of doing the tech summit was to inform the companies in the Silicon Valley about what is our potential and what is it we can do together. ”

More than 200 attendees heard pitches from 14 Pakistani startups seeking venture capital, along with panels on microelectronics, software development, artificial intelligence, gaming, medical innovation, and venture capital funding.

“Over the years, the government has not done as much as it should have in terms of focusing on expanding the IT sector,” Ambassador Khan. “In past two or three years, though, we’ve seen some phenomenal growth.”

In part that’s because the country’s charismatic new prime minister, former international cricket star Imran Khan, has made the economy his top priority.

“The economy is his primary and principal focus,” Ambassador Khan said. “The manner in which he’s approaching foreign policy is rooted in his desire to turn around the economy and provide jobs for the people.”

As part of a broader set of initiatives, the country is trying to grow its already substantial tech sector and attract international investment, especially from the United States and neighboring China, which already has built a vast deep-sea harbor and naval port in Gwadar, on the Arabian Sea, as part of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.

Pakistan already generates at least $4 billion a year in IT exports, though the ambassador said the number is likely higher because some IT-related payments get lumped in with international remittances. The biggest areas of operation are software development, Business Processing Offices and call centers. Now, the country hopes to move into more high-end sectors such as AI, gaming and visual effects. One potential opportunity discussed at the San Jose conference is moving into RISC-V microchip fabrication and export.

“Our IT success story is not as widely known and as widely shared as it should be,” Ambassador Khan said. “If you were to only compare the numbers, the actual potential, then Pakistan has really come a long way in terms of harnessing the IT potential.”
Riaz Haq said…
Can a Negative Decision at the #FATF Bolster Hardliners in #Pakistan? The country has taken verifiable actions against militant groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) and implemented tough laws to curtail #terror financing. #India
@Diplomat_APAC https://thediplomat.com/2019/10/can-a-negative-decision-at-the-fatf-bolster-hardliners-in-pakistan/

Later this week, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is set to release its findings concerning Pakistan’s case at the forum. Early reports from the ongoing meeting in Paris suggest that the country may evade blacklisting by the forum. However, it’s still expected that Islamabad will come under a lot of pressure as the majority of the recommendations by the FATF have only been implemented partially.

The case’s outcome will have significant implications not only for Pakistan, but also for the region. A critical outcome may prove to be a blow to the country’s moderate voices within the national security establishment and civilian elite that are working to push against the hardliner’s support base within various institutions.

From Islamabad’s perspective, the worst outcome would emerge in the form of the country being placed on the blacklist, which can virtually choke Pakistan’s struggling economy in the coming months. Policymakers in Islamabad believe that they have done enough in the time given to the country and that moving forward, there is a strategy in place to work on the remaining recommendations. Predictably, Pakistan is expecting an appreciation for the country’s compliance with the FATF’s recommendations and other efforts to contain terror financing and militant groups.

Temporarily, the country’s government has been able to contain groups whose politics are tied to the issue of Kashmir. However, it’s unclear what happens in the coming months if Pakistan’s case gets knocked down at the forum. It’s important to note that the current government in Pakistan is trying to implement the FATF’s plan at a time when religious hardliners in the country have everything to gain from what’s happening in the neighborhood, particularly in Jammu and Kashmir.

Over the last year, Pakistan has taken verifiable actions against militant groups, including the Lashkar-e-Taiba (Let) and implemented tough laws to curtail terror financing. All of this has not been verifiable in the past. Moreover, the emerging narrative within Pakistan’s policymaking circles is one that focuses on discouraging and delegitimizing the so-called Afghan or Kashmir focused jihadi groups and their politics. Prime Minister Imran Khan’s recent statements that anyone trying to enter Jammu and Kashmir will be an enemy of Pakistan and Kashmiris are unprecedented and point toward the change that the world has demanded from Islamabad over the last couple of decades.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

Moreover, it is unprecedented that there has not been a single major street protest calling for jihad in the wake of New Delhi’s decision to abrogate Article 370/35A of the Indian constitution – a decision that put Khan in a very tough position domestically. Arguably, even if Pakistan is taking all these actions due to the looming pressure from the FATF, it’s something that is encouraging and shows that such pressure can produce sustainable results.

In the context of these developments, the international community invested in seeing a nuclear Pakistan becoming a democratic and politically stable state, should ensure that Islamabad stays away from the blacklist. The acknowledgment of the country’s efforts will assist in undermining hardliners among the ruling elite and the extremist groups that want to go back to its previous policy of using militants as a tool of foreign policy.

The prospect of Pakistan’s blacklisting may end up reviving far-right religious groups that have called for the revival of the state’s jihad Policy in the region, particularly in Kashmir.
Riaz Haq said…
Atoms, shoe #ecommerce #startup founded by #Pakistani husband-wife team of Waqas Ali and Sidra Qasim, nabs $8.1M investment for sneakers you can buy in quarter sizes for each foot. Investors include Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Kleiner-Perkin. https://techcrunch.com/2019/08/30/atoms-nabs-8-1m-for-shoes-you-can-buy-in-quarter-sizes-and-separate-left-right-measurements/

Atoms, makers of sleek sneakers that are minimalist in style — “We will make only one shoe design a year, but we want to make that really well,” said co-founder Sidra Qasim — but not in substance — carefully crafted with comfort and durability in mind, sizes come in quarter increments and you can buy different measurements for each foot if your feet are among the millions that are not exactly the same size — has raised $8.1 million.

The company plans to use the funding to invest in further development of its shoes, and to expand its retail and marketing presence. To date, the company has been selling directly to consumers in the U.S. via its website — which at one point had a waiting list of nearly 40,000 people — and the idea will be to fold in other experiences, including selling in physical spaces in the future.

This Series A speaks to a number of interesting investors flocking to the company.

It is being led by Initialized Capital, the investment firm started by Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and Garry Tan (both had first encountered Atoms and its co-founders, Qasim and CEO Waqas Ali — as mentors when the Pakistani husband and wife team were going through Y Combinator with their previous high-end shoe startup, Markhor); with other backers including Kleiner Perkins, Dollar Shave Club CEO Michael Dubin, Acumen founder and CEO Jacqueline Novogratz, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, TED curator Chris Anderson, the rapper Chamillionaire and previous backers Aatif Awan and Shrug Capital.

Investors have come to the company by way of being customers. “The thing that I love about Atoms is that it isn’t just a different look, it’s a different feel,” said Ohanian in a statement. “When I put on a pair for the first time, it was a totally unique experience. Atoms are more comfortable by an order of magnitude than any other shoe I’ve tried, and they quickly became the go-to shoe in my rotation whenever I was stepping out. That wouldn’t mean anything if the shoes didn’t look great. Luckily, that’s not a problem, I wear my Atoms all the time and even my fashion designer wife is a fan.”

Even before today’s achievement of closing a Series A, the startup has come a long way on a relative shoestring: with just around $560,000 in seed funding and some of the founders’ own savings, Atoms built a supply chain of companies that would make the materials and shoes that it wanted, and developed a gradual but strong marketing pipeline with influential people in tech, fashion and design. (That success no doubt played a big role in securing the Series A to double down and continue to build the company.)

Within the bigger trend of direct-to-consumer retail — where smaller brands are leveraging advances in e-commerce, social media and wider internet usage to build vertically integrated businesses that bypass traditional retailers and bigger e-commerce storefronts to source their customers and sales more directly — there has been a secondary trend disrupting the very products that are being sold by using technology and advances in manufacturing. Third Love is another example in this category: The company has built a huge business selling bras and other undergarments to women by completely rethinking how they are sized, and specifically by focusing on creating as wide a range of sizes as possible.

So while companies like Allbirds — which itself is very well capitalised — may look like direct competitors to Atoms, the company currently stands apart from the pack because of its own very distinctive approach to building a mass-market business, but one that aims to make its product as individualised as possible.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's Airlift raises $12 million in country's largest Series A to build a mass transit system. It offers #rideshare system using higher capacity vehicles enabling urban commute. #Transportation #VentureCapital #startups #Uber #Lyft https://www.menabytes.com/airlift-series-a/ via @MENAbytes

Airlift, a Pakistan-based eleven-month-old decentralized mass transit startup, has secured $12M in Series A financing, it announced in a statement today.

The round is led by First Round Capital, a leading US venture capital firm with notable investments in Uber, Square, Roblox, Looker, and Notion. The round which is the largest Series A ever raised by a Pakistani startup also marks one of the largest financings in South Asia this year and the first time that a US-based VC has led a round in Pakistan. The round was also joined by Fatima Gobi Ventures, a joint venture between one of Pakistan’s leading conglomerates Fatima Group and Gobi Partners, and Indus Valley Capital.

Founded by Usman Gul, Ahmed Ayub, Awaab Khaakwany, Meher Farrukh, Muhammad Owais, and Zohaib Ali earlier this year, Airlift enables users to book rides on premium quality (air-conditioned) buses (and vans) that have fixed routes, stops and times, in Lahore and Karachi.

The users after signing up and logging in, can reserve their seats by selecting their pick up and drop off locations or browsing the routes. Airlift’s mobile app that’s available for both Android and iOS allows users to track the buses in real-time and make payments as well using their credit or debit cards (the users have the option to pay by cash too when they board the bus).

“Airlift is spearheading the third wave of ride-sharing, in which higher capacity vehicles are playing an increasing role in enabling urban commute. With this financing, Airlift is looking to invest in technology and operations to scale its vision for a decentralized mass transit system, initially focusing on the developing world,” the startup

“In the future, mass transit systems will be dynamic in nature, catering and adapting to the changing needs of the urban population. Our vision for a decentralized mass transit system is a new concept, one that will fundamentally redefine how people commute in urban centers,” says Usman Gul, Airlift’s co-founder and CEO.

Prior to moving to Pakistan, Gul previously worked at DoorDash, the largest food delivery platform in the US. Tony Xu, Founder/CEO at DoorDash, which was valued at $12.6 billion in the last round, was among the first few angel investors to support Airlift. In August, just five months after launching operations, Airlift closed seed financing of $2.2M with Indus Valley Capital and the Fatima Gobi Ventures co-leading the round. In October, only two months later, the Company has secured Series A financing, increasing its total capital to $14.1M and setting a new precedent for startups based in Asia.
Riaz Haq said…
Unprecedented #cash flow into #Pakistan #bonds as rates hit 13%. Global #investors plowed $642.5 million into local-currency bonds this month alone, more than what they invested in the debt in the past 4 years. https://gn24.ae/9021dbcb1ebf000


Interest in the nation’s bonds has surged this year as the State Bank of Pakistan more than doubled its policy rate to 13.25 per cent — the highest in Asia — over 10 meetings to help stabilise the economy. That, along with government efforts to improve public finances with support from the International Monetary Fund, has boosted the allure of the notes as the world’s pool of negative-yielding debt deepened.

Pakistan “stands out” in a low-yield global environment “following the recent rate hikes and currency adjustment — and more broadly, the reform momentum under the IMF,” said Bilal Khan, senior economist at Standard Chartered Plc in Dubai.

Foreign flows in November have all gone into Treasury bills — which have a maximum holding period of 1 year — with 55 per cent of them coming from the UK and 44 per cent from the US, the central bank data showed.


The nation’s local-debt market has not traditionally been a magnet for portfolio flows like other emerging markets and wasn’t attractive for years, said Khan, who visited fund managers in Europe last month inquiring about Pakistan.


Riaz Haq said…
Foreign #investors push into #Pakistan’s rupee bonds. One senior official at the central bank said this had contributed to #capital #inflows of about $1 billion, with more likely to arrive in the coming months. https://www.ft.com/content/e2fb378a-1103-11ea-a7e6-62bf4f9e548a via @financialtimes


Please use the sharing tools found via the share button at the top or side of articles. Copying articles to share with others is a breach of FT.com T&Cs and Copyright Policy. Email licensing@ft.com to buy additional rights. Subscribers may share up to 10 or 20 articles per month using the gift article service. More information can be found at https://www.ft.com/tour.
https://www.ft.com/content/e2fb378a-1103-11ea-a7e6-62bf4f9e548a

Pakistan is enjoying an unprecedented rush of foreign investment just months after the country secured an IMF bailout package, as fund managers are lured by high interest rates and promises of economic reform.

Benchmark interest rates have stood at 13.25 per cent since the last rise in July. One senior official at the central bank said this had contributed to inflows of about $1bn, with more likely to arrive in the coming months.

Analysts at Karachi-based broker Topline Securities expect inflows to reach a record $3bn by the end of the fiscal year to June 2020.

The central bank has been “pitching the Pakistani bond market directly” to foreign investors, said Saad Bin Ahmed, equity head at brokerage Arif Habib. “There are concerns that this is hot money, and at a single click this money will go out, possibly when the central bank cuts the policy rate. But my expectation, considering the state of the economy, is that they may not even cut the rates until July 2020.”

Stocks have also pushed higher. The main Karachi stock index is up 13 per cent over the past month, making it the best-performing bourse of 94 tracked by Bloomberg. This year, the government in Islamabad reduced withholding taxes for foreign investors, giving a further boost to sentiment.

The inflows come at a time when the central bank is seeking to build up its foreign-exchange reserves. In July, the IMF formally approved a $6bn bailout package to help Pakistan confront a worsening balance-of-payments deficit. Saudi Arabia’s promise in May to defer annual oil payments from Pakistan of up to $3bn for the next three years has helped to ease pressure on its reserves.

Charles Robertson, chief economist at Renaissance Capital, said the case for buying Pakistan’s bonds was straightforward. “Where else can you get double-digit yield on an undervalued currency?”

Mr Robertson noted that the rupee was at its lowest level in 25 years, measured by its real effective exchange rate, meaning foreigners could earn outsized returns on local- currency bonds. This is “the first new emerging market reform story since Egypt in 2016”, he added.

Fidelity International portfolio manager Paul Greer said that despite Pakistan’s large fiscal and current-account deficits, “the economic reform trajectory in the country has been improving of late and the imbalances are now moving in the right direction”.

He added that the country’s relationship with the IMF was “strong at present and the recent programme review illustrated the impressive progress being made”.

But the president of a privately owned Pakistani bank warned that high interest rates were having a “crippling effect” on investment by domestic companies. These rates would need to be brought down to encourage businesses to borrow, he added.

“The problem is that if you bring down interest rates, that may discourage the inflow of foreign money. It’s going to be a very delicate balancing act.”
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #exports up by 9.6% in Nov, #imports cut by 17.53%. #Trade #deficit at 34.4% or $4.983 billion in first 5 months of FY 2019-20. Pakistan's current account deficit in FY19-20 stands at $12.75 billion, a 36% reduction from $19.9 billion in FY18-19. https://www.thenews.com.pk/print/577221-pak-exports-up-by-9-6pc-in-nov-imports-cut-by-17-53pc

This increase in exports and cut in imports would improve the trade balance position and ultimately the current account deficit (CAD) that has recently turned into surplus. Economists believe that with the increase in the surpluses in CAD, the country's foreign exchange reserves also get improve.

Meanwhile, Adviser to Prime Minister on Commerce, Textile, Industry & Investment Razzak Dawood said on his twitter account, "Alhamdolillah! Pakistan's exports in November 2019 have once again crossed the USD 2 billion mark. Hats off to our experts and the team at the Ministry of Commerce. Exports have increased by 9.6% as compared to last year." He further said, "As a result of the same policies of the government, the increasing exports are contributing to improvement in our balance of payment position and stabilisation of the economy."

It is worth mentioning that for the first time, in the last four years, the country's current account turned into surplus and was recorded at net positive current account balance of $99 million in October 2019. In September, it was current account was recorded in deficit of $284 million and $1.28 billion in Oct 2018.

Pakistan's current account deficit in FY19 stood at $12.75 bn, a 36 percent reduction from $19.9 bn in FY18.

Besides, the second phase of China-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement (CPFTA) has also come into the effect from Sunday (Dec 1) allowing export of around 313 new Pakistani products on zero duty to the Chinese market. Pakistan is already enjoying zero duty on export of 724 products to China under the first FTA signed between the two countries in 2006. After the implementation of the second FTA, Pakistan has been allowed to export a total of 1047 products to China on zero duty.

The new facility will particularly benefit the textile sector to enhance its export to China as textile exports to China will virtually be duty-free.

There are a number of other items particularly leather and agriculture products as well as confectionery and biscuits, etc, which Pakistani manufacturers can export to China.

Reportedly, with the implementation of the second phase of the trade agreement, Pakistan can now increase its export around $1 billion in the short term while the export of these items are likely to touch $4-5 billion in the medium term after setting up new industry in the special economic zones being constructed in Pakistan under China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) flagship project.

After this agreement, Pakistan can enhance its exports to China up to $10 billion in the next few years as the volume of the Chinese import market is around $64 billion. The State Bank of Pakistan has also increased fund limits for traders and manufacturers under export refinance scheme which will help increase the exports.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #economy rebounding. #Stocks up, #FDI up, #forex reserves up. #energy, #textiles, #banking, #fertilizer and #technology driving growth. https://www.khaleejtimes.com/business/markets/bulls-charge-pakistan-stock-mark

The Pakistan Stock Exchange is expected to sustain its three-month rally in the coming months due to positive economic indicators, possible monetary easing and a thaw in border tensions with India.

Analysts and market experts expect the market to likely surge another 20 per cent by March - provided Pakistan exits the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) in February.

They said bulls have returned, tightening their grip in the past three months despite a challenging political environment in the country. After touching 2019 low on August 16, the market is already up 36.6 per cent so far and is expected to cross the 40,000 barrier this week.

Dr Abdul Hafeez Sheikh, Adviser to the Prime Minister on Finance, said the "strong market rally" shows increasing investor confidence thanks to stabilisation measures taken by the government.

In a tweet on Sunday, Dr Sheikh said the KSE-100 index was up by 14.9 per cent in November, which he said was the highest one-month return since May 2013. He said the benchmark index has increased by 36.6 per cent, or 10,500 points, since August 16, reflecting a strong recovery after hitting a 2019 low.

Muhammad Farid Alam, chief executive of AKD Securities, said market momentum can be sustained on the back of an improvement in macro indicators and relatively healthy corporate results accompanied by full-year payouts.

"In this backdrop and expectations of monetary easing during the first half of financial year 2019-20, the benchmark KSE-100 Index can cross 42,500 points in the near future. The heightening of political noise can keep a lid on price outperformance while the FATF decision in February will serve as a key check point," Alam told Khaleej Times on Sunday.

"The FATF decision to keep Pakistan on its grey list until next February would water down threats of blacklisting in the immediate term. The government is scrambling to become compliant with the FATF's action plan in this regard," he added.

The KSE-100 Index closed at 39,288 points on Friday. The rise was witnessed due to easing concerns on the macroeconomic front such as a surplus current account balance after 49 months, a stable exchange rate, over $1 billion inflows in government treasury bills and higher forex reserves at $15.58 billion as at November 22.

Samiullah Tariq, director of research at Arif Habib Limited, said the market is up by more than 36 per cent since touching a low of 28,765 points on August 16 due to positive economic numbers.

Elaborating, he said the rupee strengthened by over 5 per cent against the US dollar thanks to a remarkable improvement in balance of payments, a 74 per cent plunge in the current account deficit during the July-October period and a 239 per cent year-on-year growth in foreign direct investment.

"In addition, foreign exchange reserves are up by $1.1 billion and foreign investment in government treasury bills hit $1.16 billion during the first five months of current financial year 2019-20. These numbers show confidence in Pakistan's economy and are the major reasons for the market rally," Tariq told Khaleej Times on Sunday.

Muzzammil Aslam, managing director of Next Capital, echoed similar views and said a reversal in current account deficit, a successful IMF review of the economy, an easing of domestic political uncertainty and a strong political will to address structural flows such as circular debt and privatisation of state-owned enterprises, among others, are some of the key reasons behind the rally.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan’s central bank chief wants to boost #exports via cheap credit to help end a chronic boom-and-bust cycle. Says “Countries that have sustainably raised their living standards, emerging markets particularly, have relied on exports,” #economy #IMF https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2019-12-05/ending-pakistan-s-boom-bust-cycle-is-central-bank-s-new-plan


Pakistan’s central bank wants to boost exports to help end a chronic boom-and-bust cycle now that the economy is showing signs of stability.


In an interview in Karachi, Governor Reza Baqir said he’s encouraged by early indications of an improvement in the economy and authorities want to ensure they can keep the growth momentum going by adopting export-focused strategies.

The State Bank of Pakistan is considering giving cheap credit to new industries with export potential and wants commercial lenders to boost their share of loans to small and medium enterprises by more than double to 17% of total private sector credit by 2023, officials said. The markup on loans to exporters is less than half of the regular loans, which are currently priced at more than 13%.

“Countries that have sustainably raised their living standards, emerging markets particularly, have relied on exports,” Baqir said on Wednesday from his office in Karachi. “In our view, a very key shift that has to occur in our thinking is to shift ourselves from being an inward-oriented economy to an outward-oriented economy.”

Pakistan holds rate for two meetings after rate doubles
After 18 years in various roles at the International Monetary Fund, Baqir was brought in to the central bank in May to help stabilize an economy weighed down by high debt, low foreign currency reserves and weak growth. Pakistan was forced to turn to the IMF for a bailout again this year, its 13th since the late 1980s, with the central bank raising interest rates and freeing up the currency, and the government required to boost revenue to meet conditions of the loans.

“The measures that are in this program are all measures that we think are going to lay the foundations for sustainable growth and to end the boom-and-bust cycles that have historically plagued us,” said Baqir. “The start is encouraging, it’s very good but we have to keep our eye on the goal post.”

The economy has posted early successes so far. The fiscal deficit dropped by half to 0.7% of gross domestic product in the three months through September compared with the same period last year, according to government data. The current account turned into a surplus for the first time in four years in October.

Investors are following suit. Foreigners invested about $1.2 billion into Pakistan Treasury bills since July after virtually zero inflows in the past two years. Moody’s Investors Service raised Pakistan’s credit rating outlook to stable from negative this week.

Read: From Zero to Hero: Pakistan Bonds Evoke Egypt’s Success Tale

“People sometimes take things for granted but you know, all we need to do is to look back four, five months and the sentiment was very different,” said Baqir. “The fact that the sentiment has turned around is, for us, an important part of the stabilization.”


The economy has fallen into a pattern of fast growth followed by a slump in recent years. Pakistan is reliant on capital imports, so rapid growth pushes up demand for overseas goods. That’s what happened about two years ago, with imports rising to a record to exceed exports by three times. The current-account deficit came under pressure and foreign reserves dwindled, prompting the central bank to devalue the currency by almost half and double interest rates to 13.25%.

Baqir said there’s room for optimism that “the turnaround in the real economy may also be coming close.” Looking at government “expenditure on development projects, we have something that is quite striking,” he said.

Activity Starter
Pakistan government doubles release for public development spending


Riaz Haq said…
#startups ecosystem in #Pakistan is taking shape with 24 incubators and accelerators, 20 formal funders and #investors and 80 co-working spaces across the country. The domains vary from #edtech, #health, #fintech and #ecommerce to on-demand. #technology https://aurora.dawn.com/news/1143578


The last three years have seen a significant rise in venture financing and investments. The most recent are Airlift, TelloTalk and SastaTicket.pk (which raised $1.5 million in Series A funding by Gobi Partners). Airlift, a decentralised mass transit system, has raised $12 million Series A funding, the largest by any start-up from Pakistan and one of the largest in the South Asian region this year. The funding round was led by Round Capital, a US-based VC that has previously invested in start-ups including Uber and Square. Earlier this year, Airlift secured seed financing amount of $2.2 million from Indus Valley Capital and Fatima Gobi Ventures and TelloTalk, a local instant messaging application, raised $1.6 million from i2i Ventures.

This brings us to the other side of the table – investors. i2i is a Pakistan-based early-stage investment fund with Kalsoom Lakhani and Misbah Naqvi as partners. Other examples are Sarmayacar and Fatima Gobi Ventures. Zamindar Capital has also made investments via Idea Croron Ka, a business reality TV show that over a series of four seasons has connected 100+ start-ups with 25 potential investors, resulting in Rs 510 million committed investments. Oman Technology Fund has invested in six start-ups – including $100,000 each in Smartchoice, a financial comparison platform, and Queno, an edtech offering ERP solutions for schools – in a short span of 18 months. Most recently, SparkLabs Global Ventures, the world’s third-biggest early-stage investment firm, has announced the launch of SparkLabs Pakistan in this year.

Sarmayacar, for example, has been set up with an initial $30 million and will invest $100,000 to two million into companies in technology and technology-enabled sectors. So far it has made investments in Bykea, with a funding amount of $5.7 million that was co-led by investors from South Asia. (Bykea, Zameen.com and PakWheels are set to be unicorns from Pakistan.) Bykea is scalable, local yet replicable and has a forward-looking team of co-founders. Add Jonas Eichhorst’s experience on the board, and you will not find an element stopping them from growing as a million dollar unicorn.

Muneeb Maayr, founder and CEO of Bykea, was previously a co-founder at Rocket Internet’s Daraz, the largest e-commerce setup in Pakistan and the largest in South Asia after the Indian market. The acquisition of Daraz by Ali Baba presents multiple facets; firstly, the entrance of an e-commerce giant in the local market is promising and a positive sign for other large companies and start-ups to enter and secondly, setting the scene for other, early stage start-ups by showing a possible trajectory.

There is another perspective too. Atoms, a New York based footwear brand, traces itself to Markhor and HomeTown of 2011-2012. Atom’s journey was not easy – it required passion, dedication and self-belief. Sidra Qasim and Waqas Ali, the co-founders, have all three. Persistence has been key and multiple pivots later, they landed a position at Y-Combinator, one of the top business accelerators in the world. Atoms have successfully raised $8.1 million in Series A rounds led by Initialized Capital, along with other investors including Acumen CEO Jacqueline Novograts, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner and TED curator Chris Anderson. A completely home-grown startup has set an overarching way for others to acquire global exposure and rebase internationally.
Riaz Haq said…
Terra Nova Capital Partners--#European #Investor in #Pakistan #IT company: "...they hire the best IT talent locally, 80% of their revenue comes from overseas thanks to strong client relationships in North America, Germany and the Middle East". #technology https://www.terranovaca.com/a-month-in-pakistan

On the ground, we found most companies in a depressed state due to currency devaluation and struggling domestic economy. However, the exporters are poised to benefit from the devalued rupee, while import substitute businesses take advantage of government policies such as tax subsidies designed to reduce the problematic current account deficit. As a result, we invested in four companies which we believe will do well even in this turbulent time for the economy: three export-related businesses (an IT company, a textile manufacturer, and a hydrogen peroxide producer that supplies textile industry) and a fertilizer business benefiting from import substitution policies.


The IT services company we invested in is a hidden gem that shines from all angles. First, the business stands to benefit from the weak currency: while they hire the best IT talent locally, 80% of their revenue comes from overseas thanks to strong client relationships in North America, Germany and the Middle East. Second, they have grown earnings for many quarters and expect further 15% bottom-line expansion next year. And third, they have built an open-minded, friendly culture: we were impressed that the company’s CFO is female (having women in top positions is rare in Pakistan), there is a gym at the office (with female-only hours), and the employees collaborate, look happy, and smile. This progressive and growing business was trading at only 7x P/E, a bargain compared to its historical levels of around 20x and IT outsourcers in other markets trading at over 30x.

----------------

After many unsuccessful attempts to get a meeting with Pakistan’s finance minister, we decided to simply show up at his office. Getting through security was surprisingly easy, but as we were about to waltz into the minister’s office, a large man summoned us.



The large man was the “Additional Finance Secretary”. We explained that we have been active foreign investors in Pakistan for six years, and had sent five unanswered emails to the minister over the past four weeks requesting a meeting. The man assured us that every email gets printed and placed on his desk so he personally saw every message we sent (though he did not recall seeing any of them). Instead of minister@finance.gov.pk, he said we should send our request to the Yahoo! email address on his official business card (?!) and he would get back to us in a few weeks. As it was apparent he was just trying to get rid of us, we persisted. He finally told us that if we follow him he would take us to shake the minister’s hand and make the appointment.



However, as we were passing by the minister’s door we realized that the man had no intention to stop. Instead, he said he was escorting us out of the building. In a last-ditch effort, we knocked on the door and were about to open it – only to be dragged away by the large man. We later learned that finance minister takes 2-hour afternoon naps in his office, so we hope we didn’t wake him up.


Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan: The next big Asian market for #tech #startups? McKinsey report says 720 startups have been created in Pakistan since 2010 — 67% of which are still in operation — with 100 successfully raising funding. #ecosystem #VentureCapital #technology https://www.dw.com/en/pakistan-the-next-big-asian-market-for-tech-startups/a-52183841

Pakistan's young and tech-savvy population, market of over 220 million people and increasing levels of local capital are creating opportunities for tech entrepreneurs, as Miriam Partington reports.

"Pakistan's tech ecosystem has been slowly gaining momentum in the last few years," says Hena Husain, founder of London-based communications startup The Content Architects. "It's home to a strong tech talent base and it's still competitively affordable, which makes it ideal for early-stage founders like myself."

Hena's company works with a development team based in Karachi, Pakistan's business center and best-known tech hub. It was here that transportation startup Careem — acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion (€2.8 billion) in March 2019 — wrote its first lines of code and where a cluster of software engineers has formed gradually over the years.

Hena says that the growth in Karachi's tech market is "accelerating" by the day, which reflects a broader trend across Pakistan.

The country was named one of the fastest-growing economies in Asia in McKinsey & Co's latest report on the Pakistani ecosystem. The same report revealed that 720 startups had been created since 2010 — 67% of which are still in operation — with 100 successfully raising funding.

Unprecedented growth

For many familiar with Pakistan's startup scene, it's hard to pinpoint exactly what triggered its growth.

According to Iskander Pataudi, a Pakistani-born tech professional working in Berlin, the tech scene emerged organically. Tech is booming around the world, and Pakistan is an untapped market. It was only a matter of time before investors started to take notice.

"A few Pakistani tech startups have raised huge funding rounds at a time where our economy is just keeping its head above water," he says. "This makes sense, considering we have a huge market of young, digitally-savvy consumers and increased 3G and 4G connectivity."

Iskander adds that May 2018 marked one of the "first and only exits Pakistan has seen so far" when e-commerce platform Daraz was acquired by China's Alibaba Group for an estimated $200 million. This was an early indicator that "something was about to happen."

Since then, Airlift, an app-based bus service founded just 11 months ago, raised a Series A funding round of $12 million in August 2019, led by US-based venture capital (VC) firm First Round Capital. This round marked the firm's first investment in Asia in more than a decade.

'An unlocking of capital'

According to Rabeel Warraich, founder of Pakistan-based venture capital fund Sarmayacar, the string of startup success stories — combined with a more stable political landscape under President Imran Khan and decreasing levels of corruption nationwide — has increased "investors' confidence that Pakistan holds huge potential for exiting businesses."

"Tech startups that were once considered risky investments are more commonly looked upon by venture capitalists as 'high-yield opportunities,'" he adds.

This newfound confidence has led to an increase in the availability of local capital. While Pakistan's startup scene and VC market is still nascent, the number of funds — such as i2i Ventures and Fatima Gobi Ventures — and active angel investors have increased significantly since 2018.

Riaz Haq said…
“Because technology is the key weapon in the fight for control of the industries of the future and in combating pandemics, the US private tech sector will become increasingly integrated into the national-security-industrial complex.”

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/apr/29/ten-reasons-why-greater-depression-for-the-2020s-is-inevitable-covid
Riaz Haq said…
China’s Digital Silk Road after the Coronavirus
April 13, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic will be a history-altering event. But where will it take us? In “On the Horizon,” a new CSIS series, our scholars offer their insights into the fundamental changes we might anticipate for our future social and economic world.


https://www.csis.org/analysis/chinas-digital-silk-road-after-coronavirus

-----------------------------

Just a few months ago, China’s technology ambitions appeared imperiled by Covid-19, then raging through the center of the country, bringing its economy to a standstill, and wreaking havoc to global supply chains. But the pandemic is already providing new opportunities for China’s rise as a technology power and global provider of digital infrastructure. Indeed, in the months and years ahead, China’s Digital Silk Road will only accelerate and expand.

Consider the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which Chinese officials have touted as the BRI’s flagship. Since CPEC was announced five years ago, over 60 percent of its projects have been transportation and energy, and many have been bogged down with delays. While proposed pipeline and railway connections between China and Pakistan remain pipedreams, Huawei was able to lay a fiber-optic cable across their border and deep into Pakistan in under two years. Stretching 820 kilometers, the project cost just $44 million—less than it costs to build only four kilometers of railway in Pakistan. Given Pakistan’s mounting debt, the second phase of CPEC, much like the future of the BRI, will place a greater emphasis on smaller, higher-tech projects.

The less visible nature of digital infrastructure also fits more easily into the geopolitical environment that Chinese firms will face as the Covid-19 crisis abates. Prior to the crisis, China’s approach to delivering large projects in foreign countries, which relies heavily on its own companies and workers, stoked resentment among local communities. In recent years, Chinese workers have been attacked in Bangladesh, Kazakhstan, and Kenya, among other stops along the BRI. Given the source of the outbreak, Chinese workers are more likely to face discrimination abroad. Digital infrastructure projects are typically less visible, and less disruptive, to local communities than large transport and energy projects.

Chinese tech companies also see an opening to pitch their products as part of responding to the current outbreak and preventing future pandemics. Hikvision, Dahua, and other leading surveillance companies have introduced thermal imaging systems to detect fevers. Alipay and Tencent have developed health apps that generate QR codes indicating a user’s health status. Naturally, these companies are looking to sell these products overseas. Alibaba is already offering its cloud services to model regional outbreaks and connect health professionals. These offerings are not unique to Chinese companies, but they often come with fewer privacy protections than their Western counterparts.
Riaz Haq said…
China’s largest chipmaker to raise $2.8 billion in listing to boost capabilities amid #trade war. SMIC is part of #China’s push for self-reliance in #semiconductors, a field in which the world’s second-largest economy is seen as far behind #UnitedStates. https://www.cnbc.com/2020/06/02/china-chipmaker-smic-to-raise-2point8-billion-in-shanghai-listing-amid-trade-war.html?__source=sharebar|twitter&par=sharebar

China’s largest contract chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), has filed for a listing in Shanghai that will raise 20 billion yuan ($2.8 billion).
The move comes as the company looks to bolster investment in its technology amid the escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China, which could force SMIC to take on more production.
SMIC is part of China’s broader push for self-reliance when it comes to semiconductors, a field in which the world’s second-largest economy is seen as far behind the U.S.

China’s largest contract chipmaker, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), has filed for a listing in Shanghai that will raise 20 billion yuan ($2.8 billion).

The move comes as the company looks to bolster investment in its technology amid the escalating trade tensions between the U.S. and China, which could force SMIC to take on more production.

SMIC, which is already listed in Hong Kong, has been looking to raise cash to do that. It got a $2.2 billion investment from state investors last month.

The company is part of China’s broader push for self-reliance when it comes to semiconductors, a field in which the world’s second-largest economy is seen as far behind the U.S. But China’s efforts have been given greater impetus as Washington continues its technology war with Beijing.

Huawei has been one of China’s companies targeted by U.S. sanctions. Last year, it was put on a U.S. blacklist called the Entity List which restricted its access to American technology. In May, the Trump administration introduced a rule which requires foreign manufacturers using U.S. chipmaking equipment to get a license before being able to sell semiconductors to Huawei.

That rule is likely to affect Taiwan’s TSMC, which makes most of the chips Huawei designs for devices such as smartphones. If Huawei cannot get hold of semiconductors from TSMC, it may have to look for alternatives such as SMIC. But experts have previously told CNBC that SMIC’s technology is far behind TSMC.

The recent cash injection, therefore, could be a boost for the company as it looks to rapidly expand its capabilities.

In its listing prospectus, SMIC said that the U.S.-China trade frictions and Washington’s latest rules on semiconductors could be headwinds for the company.
Riaz Haq said…
#US Congress Push to Invest Billions in #Semiconductor Industry to Counter #China. The future of the #computer #communications #chip industry is particularly significant because it is a foundational #technology that can give nations an edge in innovation https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/11/business/economy/semiconductors-chips-congress-china.html?smid=tw-share

China’s technological ambitions are eliciting rare bipartisan agreement in Washington, with lawmakers considering investing tens of billions of dollars in America’s semiconductor industry over the next five to 10 years to help the United States retain an edge over Beijing.

A bipartisan measure introduced this week is one of several proposals that would provide substantial funding for the semiconductor industry, which manufactures chips that serve as the tiny brains or memory of electronic devices from smartphones to fitness trackers.

The efforts reflect a shifting consensus in Washington, as lawmakers look to more expansive government intervention in private markets to help American firms compete. That includes Republicans, who have long criticized government-led industrial plans as inefficient and redolent of communism but have watched with dismay as such efforts in China have allowed it to dominate industries from steel and solar panels to shipbuilding.

The future of the semiconductor industry is viewed as particularly significant because it is a foundational technology that can give nations an edge in innovation. China has been shoveling billions into developing its own chip industry, which has long been dominated by the United States and has helped propel a boom in 5G technology, artificial intelligence and robotics.

Semiconductors are still one of America’s largest exports, and American companies that design and sell chips still account for nearly half of global revenue in the sector, the greatest share of any country. But the United States only accounts for around 12 percent of global semiconductor production capacity. Decades ago, domestic designers began turning to foundries in places like Taiwan and South Korea to manufacture their chips.

While past government subsidies have largely focused on chip research, the latest bill puts a heavy emphasis on domestic manufacturing. A centerpiece, which would put more than $22.8 billion toward the industry, is a new trust fund for federal grants to match state subsidies to encourage new factories. As much as $10 billion a year could be placed in the fund, with the money to come from the import tariffs the administration has placed on China, rather than a congressional appropriation.

The legislation is co-sponsored by Senators John Cornyn, Republican of Texas, and Mark Warner, Democrat of Virginia, and Representatives Michael McCaul, Republican of Texas, and Doris Matsui, Democrat of California. It could be rolled into the next economic stimulus package or a defense bill that may be considered this summer.

The measure follows a bill introduced in late May by Senator Chuck Schumer, Democrat of New York and the minority leader, and Senator Todd Young, Republican of Indiana, that would expand the National Science Foundation and increase funding by $100 billion over five years in areas like artificial intelligence, robotics and advanced manufacturing. Senator Tom Cotton, Republican of Arkansas, is also working on a bill to fund the chip industry.
Riaz Haq said…
#SiliconValley giant Intel to outsource manufacturing after falling behind on its next big chip #manufacturing improvement to 7 nanometer semiconductor #technology. Is this the end of the chip-making leader and the #US dominance of the chip industry? https://fortune.com/2020/07/23/intel-chip-manufacturing-delay-7-nanometer/

Intel spooked Silicon Valley and many of its investors on Thursday, announcing that it had fallen a full 12 months behind schedule in developing its next major advance in chip-manufacturing technology.

In an unprecedented development, Intel said that as a contingency it would use a competitor’s manufacturing facilities if it could not resolve the delay quickly. The company could use “our fabs or somebody else’s,” CEO Bob Swan said on a call with analysts.

Intel’s stock price, which had previously gained just 1% so far this year, plunged 10% in after-hours trading, despite the company’s having announced solid results for the second quarter.

The surprise delay of the chipmaking technique known as seven nanometer brought back bad memories of Intel’s multiyear delay in achieving the previous advance, known as 10 nanometer. (With seven-nanometer technology, designers can fit more transistors into the same amount of space, increasing performance.) Rival Advanced Micro Devices, which relies on Taiwan Semiconductor for manufacturing, was already leading Intel in the race for the next chipmaking advance, but now could gallop farther ahead. AMD’s stock, previously up 30% in 2020, jumped an additional 7% after hours.

Apple, which last month said it was dropping Intel’s chips from its desktop and laptop computers, has also used Taiwan Semiconductor to manufacture its chips.

Intel’s Swan, who took over in 2019 following the 10-nanometer glitches, said the new seven-nanometer technology was not producing enough useful chips to make it economical yet, owing to a defect. “We have root-caused the issue and believe there are no fundamental roadblocks, but we have also invested in contingency plans to hedge against further scheduling uncertainty,” Swan said on the analyst call. Products using seven-nanometer technology would arrive in later 2022 or early 2023, he said.

The chip industry’s once-steady improvements in semiconductor manufacturing gave rise to the famous Moore’s Law, coined by Intel cofounder Gordon Moore, which states that the number of transistors on a microchip doubles about every two years. Swan’s announcement appears to be an instance of Intel violating that law. But Swan told analysts the company had developed numerous other technologies to improve the performance of its chips even with the delay in seven nanometer.

On other fronts, Intel did better than analysts expected in the second quarter. Revenue increased 20% year over year, to $19.7 billion, over $1 billion more than the average analyst forecast. And Intel’s adjusted earnings per share of $1.23, up 16% from a year ago, beat the average forecast by 12 cents.
Riaz Haq said…
Congress Has Supported Moves To Revive Domestic Semiconductor Manufacturing, Here’s What Needs To Happen Next

https://www.forbes.com/sites/willyshih/2020/07/26/congress-has-supported-moves-to-revive-domestic-semiconductor-manufacturing-heres-what-needs-to-happen-next/#44e4bd184a94

Last week the Senate voted overwhelmingly (96-4) to include an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that provided support to the American semiconductor industry. The amendment combined the earlier American Foundries Act and the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act. A nearly identical proposal was included in the House NDAA, so that bodes well as the bill goes into the Conference Committee. But the vote does not authorize or appropriate funding for these policies, it only creates the policy framework.

The pandemic and worsening trade tensions have shined a light on worrisome issues with the supply chains that American industry and consumers depend on. Semiconductors are an area where the U.S. is heavily dependent on Asia. While the U.S. still has most of the leading design companies, we have comparatively few of the leading manufacturing facilities. In that critical sector we trail Taiwan, an island claimed by China that is one quarter the size of the state of Florida, and then South Korea, Japan, and China. The U.S. has gone from being first in manufacturing at the dawn of the industry to fifth, and companies in those countries who are ahead of us are investing aggressively. American makers of the production tools used in semiconductor factories have been moving their manufacturing to Asia as well, because that’s where their customers are.
-------

If Congress needs any additional impetus, it only needs to look to Intel’s recent announcement that it will delay the launch of its next generation chips, and that it was considering contracting out more of its manufacturing to make up for the delays. This should ring alarm bells for a number of reasons:

Intel has lost ground to AMD in the x86 microprocessor chip market because AMD has well designed products that are manufactured by Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC). Don’t forget – a decade ago when AMD fell behind in manufacturing, it spun off its fabs (which became the foundation for GlobalFoundries) and turned to TSMC to produce its chips. TSMC is able to make AMD’s chips with its most advanced processes which are now even further ahead of Intel. The only place Intel can go to catch up with AMD is TSMC, so the pressure on them to outsource to there (Intel already is an important customer) will be intense.
Apple AAPL -0.2% recently announced that it will shift away from using Intel microprocessors in its Mac computers to chips of its own design that will be fabricated at TSMC. One could argue that Apple was only a small share of Intel’s volume, but don’t forget – the last time Apple shifted its Mac chip supplier – from PowerPC chips made by IBM IBM -1.2% and Motorola/Freescale to Intel – that marked a significant turning point in IBM’s decline and eventual exit from semiconductor manufacturing.
TSMC’s proposed fab in Arizona is only a token investment with insufficient capacity to support even a small fraction of the needs of Apple, Qualcomm QCOM -0.9%, Nvidia NVDA +0.6%, Intel, Amazon AMZN +0.7%, Google GOOGL -0.6%, and other American design shops. The proposed fab has a capacity of 20,000 wafer starts a month, a drop in the bucket compared to ~250,000 wafer starts per month at a single one of TSMC’s Gigafabs in Taiwan. And TSMC has three Gigafabs going on four spread over three science parks on the island.
Riaz Haq said…
#Tech giant #Intel fires #Indian-#American chief engineer Murthy Renduchintala for production failures. Murthy's ouster marks increased pressure on Intel after disastrous admission last week that knocked $40 billion off its market value https://theprint.in/economy/intel-fires-its-indian-origin-chief-engineer-murthy-renduchintala-for-production-failures/469393/ via @ThePrintIndia

San Francisco: Intel Corp. ousted Chief Engineering Officer Murthy Renduchintala, the executive in charge of the company’s vast chip-design and manufacturing organization, less than a week after saying it has fallen further behind rivals in production technology.

The executive will leave Aug. 3, and his organization will be split up and led by other leaders. Intel said it was making the changes “to accelerate product leadership and improve focus and accountability in process technology execution,” according to a company statement on Monday.

Renduchintala’s departure marks an escalation of the pressure on Intel’s leadership following a disastrous announcement last week that knocked more than $40 billion off Intel’s market value and caused multiple analysts to question the future of its manufacturing organization, which has been a cornerstone of the company’s semiconductor dominance for decades. The Santa Clara, California-based chipmaker on July 23 said its plants had failed to keep up with the most advanced chip-production technology, signaling that the man tasked with fixing persistent production issues had failed.

When then-Chief Executive Officer Brian Krzanich hired Renduchintala from rival Qualcomm Inc. in 2015, he was lauded as someone with the experience needed to upgrade Intel’s design efforts. But the two leaders’ extensive recruitment of outsiders led to an exodus of longtime Intel senior executives during Krzanich’s tenure. That became a hindrance when Krzanich was subsequently dismissed for an illicit workplace relationship, leaving an absence of internal candidates ready and qualified to replace him.

After a seven-month search, Chief Financial Officer Bob Swan reluctantly took the CEO role, placing the company in the hands of another outside recruit. Renduchintala was one of those passed over the for top job.

Executive reshuffles and maneuvering for higher positions are part of corporate life. But throughout Intel’s more than 50-year history, the company has seldom looked outside its own ranks for leaders and has maintained an approach of developing its own executives. Another pillar of the chipmaker’s success has been to manufacture its own products, bucking the industry trend of outsourcing. Intel has argued that manufacturing and chip design should be done together, shunning rivals’ approach of focusing just on design and letting third parties do the building. The company’s message was always clear: Intel has the most advanced plants, and that goes a long way toward making the best processors.

Maintaining that innovative advantage became Renduchintala’s job when Swan promoted him to the chief engineering role, but any sense of progress regaining its edge was destroyed last week when the company said the latest technique for building the most advanced semiconductors was a year behind schedule. That gives rivals the opportunity to appeal to computer makers with their own versions of the pitch that’s been so successful for Intel in the past: Their products are made with technology that’s years ahead of the competition. The latest setback followed a multiyear delay in Intel’s efforts on the previous manufacturing process. The company’s stock slumped 16% on Friday and fell 2% more on Monday.
Riaz Haq said…
Inside Intel: A Look At The Mega Chipmaker

https://www.investopedia.com/articles/markets/100214/inside-intel-look-mega-chipmaker.asp

Never has a corporation done so much with something so little. Founded in 1968, Intel Corp. (INTC) has been the world’s leading manufacturer of microprocessors and chipsets almost since its inception. Today Intel is easily the largest semiconductor company in the world, about half again as large as closest competitor, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd., and more than triple the size of the next-largest domestic producer, Qualcomm Inc. (QCOM).


What separates Intel from most other semiconductor companies is that it fabricates its products in-house. The bulk of semiconductor “manufacturers” farm the actual work of creating the products out to foundries in China. Intel even fabricates chips for other companies, for the most part ones too small to be considered true competitors. Is that a conflict of interest? Not really. Fabrication plants can cost several billion dollars to build, and it makes sense for Intel to keep its busy. (For more, see: The Semiconductor Industry Handbook.)


Intel does indeed assemble chipsets in China, but at Intel-owned facilities. It is received wisdom among some American doomsayers that low labor costs make China the default base of manufacturing operations for U.S. corporations that want to save a few pennies per unit and “ship jobs overseas.” That claim is more accusatory than it is true. At the end of 2016 Intel had a multitudinous workforce of 106,000, approximately half of whom were employed in the United States. Almost half of Intel’s chipsets and microprocessors are manufactured at home, at facilities in the suburbs of Phoenix, Albuquerque, N.M., and Portland, Ore. Outside of China, most of the remaining Intel products are developed in Israel. (For more, see: A Primer for Investing in the Tech Industry.)


The Incestuous World of Chip-sourcing

Even given that Intel fabricates other companies’ chips at its facilities, the business of developing internal computer hardware, selling it, and branding it is more incestuous than you might think. For instance, as of 2007 Apple Inc. (AAPL) began using Intel chips exclusively in its Macs, supplanting the PowerPC CPUs that Apple itself helped develop as part of a consortium. In 2018, it was reported that Apple may use Intel chips exclusively in its new iPhones. By comparison, smaller companies subcontracting to Intel isn’t even that big of a deal.

Moore's Law


Intel’s surviving cofounder, Gordon Moore, lends his name to the most famous observation in all of technology. Formulated in 1965, Moore’s Law states that transistor density doubles every two years. Not only has the observation held ever since, but Intel has officially incorporated the law into its company strategy. The company is behind the development of 450mm wafers, the widest in existence, yet still less than a millimeter thick. Once in production, they should allow the exponential progress of Moore’s Law to continue for at least another generation.

So who’s buying all these Intel chips? In 2008, the answer was unambiguous. Hewlett-Packard Co. (HPQ), Dell and International Business Machines Corp. (IBM), not coincidentally the three-biggest computer manufacturers at the turn of the century, were together responsible for $3 of every $4 Intel took in. A mere six years later, with bulky personal computers no longer the devices of choice for a global clientele that values portability and speed, Intel now has eight major customers that are responsible for 75% of its revenues. In 2016, Intel's three largest customers were responsible for 31% of the firm's accounts receivable. Intel might obey Moore’s Law, but the Pareto Principle (a.k.a the 80/20 rule) is a different story.



Riaz Haq said…
Instead of #AI, #Pentagon Is Clinging to old #tech. #US #politics of killing off old weapons systems is so forbidding — often because it involves closing factories or bases, and endangers military jobs in congressional districts — that the efforts falter.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/09/29/us/politics/military-cyberweapons-artificial-intelligence.html

A bipartisan House panel said on Tuesday that artificial intelligence, quantum computing, space and biotechnology were “making traditional battlefields and boundaries increasingly irrelevant” — but that the Pentagon was clinging to aging weapons systems meant for a past era.

The panel’s report, called the “Future of Defense Task Force,” is one of many underway in Congress to grapple with the speed at which the Pentagon is adopting new technologies, often using the rising competition with China in an effort to spur the pace of change.

Most reach a similar conclusion: For all the talk of embracing new technologies, the politics of killing off old weapons systems is so forbidding — often because it involves closing factories or bases, and endangers military jobs in congressional districts — that the efforts falter.

The task force said it was concentrating on the next 30 to 50 years, and concluded that the Defense Department and Congress should be “focused on the needs of the future and not on the political and military-industrial loyalties of the past.”

“We are totally out of time, and here is a bipartisan group — in this environment — saying that this is a race we have to win and that we are currently losing,” said Representative Seth Moulton, Democrat of Massachusetts, who served with the Marine Corps in Iraq and was a co-chairman of the task force. “There is a misalignment of priorities, and diminishing time to make dramatic changes.”

The report calls for the United States to undertake an artificial intelligence effort that uses “the Manhattan Project as a model,” citing the drive in World War II to assemble the nation’s best minds in nuclear physics and weapons to develop the atomic bomb. The task force found that although the Pentagon had been experimenting with artificial intelligence, machine learning and even semiautonomous weapons systems for years, “cultural resistance to its wider adoption remains.”

It recommended that every major military acquisition program “evaluate at least one A.I. or autonomous alternative” before it is funded. It also called for the United States to “lead in the formulation and ratification of a global treaty on artificial intelligence in the vein of the Geneva Conventions,” a step the Trump administration has resisted for cyberweaponry and the broader use of artificial intelligence.

But questions persist about whether such a treaty would prove useful. While nuclear and chemical weapons were largely in the hands of nations, cyberweapons — and artificial intelligence techniques — are in the hands of criminal groups, terrorist groups and teenagers.

Nonetheless, the report’s focus on working with allies and developing global codes of ethics and privacy runs counter to the instincts of the Trump administration, making it more surprising that the Republican members of the task force signed on.

------------
“The Pentagon knows how to acquire large programs,” like “fighter jets or aircraft carries, but it is less adept at purchasing at scale the types of emerging technologies that will be required for future conflict,” it said.

Defense Department officials have sought to address that problem. But the task force found that while those efforts sometimes succeeded, they were too small, and “the Pentagon has so far only been able to tap into a fraction of the innovation being developed in the United States.”
Riaz Haq said…
#China's #Huawei develops plan for chip plant to help beat #American sanctions. #Chinese fab will initially experiment with making low-end 45nm chips, a #technology global leaders in chipmaking like #TSMC & #Intel started using 15 years ago. #SiliconValley https://www.latimes.com/business/story/2020-11-01/huawei-chip-plant

Huawei is working on plans for a dedicated chip plant in Shanghai that would not use American technology, enabling it to secure supplies for its core telecom infrastructure business despite U.S. sanctions.

Two people briefed on the project said the plant would be run by a partner, Shanghai IC R&D Center, a chip research company backed by the Shanghai municipal government.

Industry experts said the project could help Huawei, which has no experience in fabricating chips, chart a path to long-term survival.

U.S. export controls imposed in May and tightened in August leverage American companies’ dominance of certain chip-manufacturing equipment and chip-design software to block semiconductor supplies to Huawei.

Industry experts said the planned local facility would be a potential new source for semiconductors after stocks of imported chips Huawei has been accumulating since last year ran out.

The fabrication plant will initially experiment with making low-end 45nm chips, a technology global leaders in chipmaking started using 15 years ago.

But Huawei wants to make more advanced 28nm chips by the end of next year, according to chip industry engineers and executives familiar with the project. Such a plan would allow Huawei to make smart TVs and other “internet of things” devices.

Huawei then aims to produce 20nm chips by late 2022, which could be used to make most of its 5G telecoms equipment and allow that business to continue even with the U.S. sanctions.
“The planned new production line will not help with the smartphone business since chipsets needed for smartphones need to be produced at more advanced technology nodes,” said a semiconductor industry executive briefed on the plans.

“But if it succeeds, it can become a bridge to a sustainable future for their infrastructure business, in combination with the inventory they have built and which should last for two years or so,” he said.

“They possibly can do it, in maybe two years,” said Mark Li, a semiconductor analyst at Bernstein in Hong Kong.

He added that although the chips Huawei needed for making mobile network base stations would ideally be made on 14nm or more advanced process technology, using 28nm was possible.


“Huawei can make up for the shortcomings on the software and system side,” he said. Chinese producers could tolerate higher costs and operational inefficiencies than their offshore competitors.

The project, first reported by Chinese newspaper Caixin last month, could also jump-start China’s ambitions to shake off its dependency on foreign chip technology, particularly from the U.S., which wants to slow China’s development as a technology power.

Huawei has already been investing in the domestic semiconductor sector, especially among smaller operators, a chip industry executive said.

“Huawei has strong abilities in chip design, and we are very happy to help a trustworthy supply chain develop its capabilities in chip manufacturing, equipment and materials. Helping them is helping ourselves,” rotating chairman Guo Ping told journalists in September.
Riaz Haq said…
With Money, and Waste, China Fights for Chip Independence
Beijing’s drive to free itself from reliance on imported semiconductors has lifted start-ups and big firms alike. Some have flamed out. But there has been progress.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/12/24/technology/china-semiconductors.html

Liu Fengfeng had more than a decade under his belt at one of the world’s most prominent technology companies before he realized where the real gold rush in China was taking place.

Computer chips are the brains and souls of all the electronics the country’s factories crank out. Yet they are mostly designed and produced overseas. China’s government is lavishing money upon anyone who can help change that.

So last year Mr. Liu, 40, left his corporate job at Foxconn, the Taiwanese giant that assembles iPhones in China for Apple. He found a niche — high-end films and adhesives for chip products — and quickly raised $5 million. Today his start-up has 36 employees, most of them in the tech hub of Shenzhen, and is aiming to start mass production next year.

“Before, you might have had to beg Grandpa and call on Grandma for money,” Mr. Liu said. “Now, you just have a few conversations and everyone is hoping projects get started as soon as possible.”

China is in the midst of a mass mobilization for chip mastery, a quest whose aims can seem just as harebrained and impossible — at least until they are achieved — as sending rovers to the moon or dominating Olympic gold medals. In every corner of the country, investors, entrepreneurs and local officials are in a frenzy to build up semiconductor abilities, responding to a call from the country’s leader, Xi Jinping, to rely less on the outside world in key technologies.


Their efforts are starting to pay off. China remains far from hosting real rivals to American chip giants like Intel and Nvidia, and its semiconductor manufacturers are at least four years behind the leading edge in Taiwan. Still, local companies are expanding their ability to meet the country’s needs, particularly for products, such as smart appliances and electric vehicles, that have more modest requirements than supercomputers and high-end smartphones.

The turbocharged chip push could prove one of the most enduring legacies of President Trump’s pugilistic trade policies toward China. By turning the country’s dependence on foreign chips into a cudgel for attacking companies like Huawei, the administration made Chinese business and political leaders resolve never to be caught out that way again.


ImageLiu Fengfeng, Tsinghon’s chief and founder. “Before, you might have had to beg Grandpa and call on Grandma for money,” he said. Now, investors are eager to get involved.
Liu Fengfeng, Tsinghon’s chief and founder. “Before, you might have had to beg Grandpa and call on Grandma for money,” he said. Now, investors are eager to get involved.Credit...Gilles Sabrié for The New York Times
But as Beijing broadens its ambitions in semiconductors, it is also setting itself up for larger potential failures — and dialing up the amount of money it might lose in the process. Several chip projects have run aground recently because of frozen funding and mismanagement. A state-backed chip conglomerate, Tsinghua Unigroup, warned this month that it was in danger of defaulting on nearly $2.5 billion in international bonds.

Riaz Haq said…
#Superpower status will depend on #semiconductor chips. #TSMC building world's largest $20 billion fab in #Taiwan to manufacture chips at dimensions of just 3 nanometers that'll power everything from latest iPhones to medical equipment to F-35 fighters. https://www.ft.com/content/44e28cad-55b7-4995-a5c5-6de6f9733747


This vast capital expenditure highlights the near-insatiable demand for computer chips, the dominance of Taiwanese chipmakers and the sophistication of modern manufacturing. TSMC’s chips power everything from Apple’s latest iPhones to medical equipment to F-35 warplanes, accounting for about 55 per cent of global semiconductor sales.

But the manufacture of semiconductors is becoming a geopolitical imperative, too. As part of its squeeze on China’s tech industry, the US has pressured TSMC to stop supplying Huawei, previously one of its biggest customers. China, which spends more on importing computer chips than oil, is developing a semiconductor industry to reduce dependence on overseas suppliers.

Sensing their own vulnerability, the US, Japan and the EU are also stepping up their efforts to develop indigenous semiconductor industries, as their carmakers and computer games companies wail about the lack of supply. Computer chips currently vie with vaccines as must-have resources for any nation state.

If military capability in previous centuries was built on breech-loading rifles, warships or atomic bombs, it may well depend in the 21st century on the smartest use of advanced chips. The centrality of TSMC to the global semiconductor industry is sometimes given as a reason why mainland China might yet invade Taiwan. But far bigger military and political considerations will determine Beijing’s course of action.

By any measure, TSMC is an extraordinary company which is reaping the benefits of out-investing its rivals. It has just announced that its capital spending will further increase to between $25bn and $28bn this year as it struggles to add capacity fast enough to match demand. During an earnings call last month, CC Wei, TSMC’s chief executive, said that surging sales of smartphones and high-performance computers and the adoption of 5G mobile technology were fuelling demand for the company’s leading-edge logic chips. “We believe that 5G is a multiyear megatrend that will enable a world where digital computation is increasingly ubiquitous,” he said.

Most other semiconductor companies have dropped out of the race to manufacture 3nm chips due to the stratospheric costs. It will now be hard for any rival to catch up with TSMC because of its vast capital spending, its technological expertise, its network of suppliers and its support from the Taiwanese government. Only Samsung of South Korea is visible in its rear-view mirror.

“What separates TSMC from other foundries is its appetite to take risks and its ability to execute. It is an incredible business model,” says Brett Simpson, a tech analyst at Arete, an independent research firm. “The market is heading for one dominant player and one subscale player that is hanging in there and executing very well.”

The bigger concern for TSMC is the geopolitical tension between the US and China. With two fabrication plants in China, one in the US state of Washington and another planned in Arizona, TSMC has been hedging its bets. But like many other companies in a fast-polarising world, it is being forced to choose.

Shelley Rigger, a professor at Davidson College in North Carolina and author of Why Taiwan Matters, says that US pressure on China is only reinforcing Beijing’s determination to become self-sufficient in semiconductor manufacturing: “China has infinite money to throw at a problem like this and no scruples about doing what needs to be done.”

Taiwan has long feared that the world could divide into Chinese-dominated red supply chains and US-focused blue supply chains, jeopardising relations with either its biggest trading partner or its main strategic ally. The island’s room for manoeuvre is becoming as thin as TSMC’s wafers.

Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan #Punjab government budgets Rs41.75 million to establish #computer chip design centers at 8 universities, including UET Lahore, the UET Taxila, the ITU Lahore, and the Islamia University Bahawalpur. #semiconductor #technology #Silicon https://www.dawn.com/news/1629534

MNS UET Multan, the KF UEIT Rahim Yar Khan, the University of Gujrat, and the University of Chakwal next year.

Integrated Circuits (ICs), commonly known as chips, have radically altered the industry and nanotechnology has greatly contributed to major advances in computing and electronics, leading to faster, smaller, and more portable systems that can process, manage, and store larger and larger amounts of information.

Chip design technology is one of the most important and significant technologies globally in the electronics industry. With the Covid-19 crisis disrupting supply chains and geopolitical tensions increasing, semiconductor companies have become more interested in achieving end-to-end design and manufacturing capabilities for leading edge technologies.

Local universities in Pakistan are not extensively teaching the skills which are flourishing quite rapidly all over the world such as micro and nano-electronics IC design because of a lack of highly-trained faculty and academic resources in these domains.

Punjab Minister for Higher Education Raja Yasir Hamayun took an initiative of skills development in micro and nanoelectronics design technologies in the universities of the province. He constituted a committee led by UET VC Prof Dr Syed Mansoor Sarwar.

The minister says they can’t afford to wait anymore since leading players are already years ahead in technology development. He says the future of the semiconductor industry belongs to advancements in nanoelectronics chip design technologies. He says a project was approved for the provision of software and hardware facilities for Microelectronic Design and Development in eight universities to promote R&D culture and train faculty in the universities.


Riaz Haq said…
#China appoints Harvard-educated chip czar to accelerate domestic #semiconductor #manufacturing #technology. Vice Premier Liu will be in charge of industrial policy to catch up with #US, #Taiwan and #SouthKorea in advanced #semiconductors. https://asiatimes.com/2021/06/is-the-us-chip-wall-starting-to-crumble/

The Harvard-educated career bureaucrat is not an engineer, but more of an expert in economics and industrial policy.

That means the 69-year old Liu will have to rely on experts when it comes to decisions in his remit: semiconductor materials, equipment and processes.

But rather than merely catch-up, Liu’s chip strategy will likely be to explore areas rivals have yet to master in the hope that China can colonize these technologies.

It’s the kind of moonshot approach that the People’s Republic already practices. China last week released the first images taken on Mars as part of its Tianwen-1 interplanetary mission.

That success, according to Beijing-based consultancy Trivium, “validates the focus on pursuing leapfrog development,” focusing on next-generation technologies where no country has a clear advantage.

-------------

“Failure is not an option” is an epic phrase associated with Gene Kranz and the Apollo 13 Moon landing mission, which went terribly wrong, but ended happily thanks to some Mission Control heroics.

Likewise, with a newly-appointed vice premier at the microchip helm, China is leaving itself no more excuses to fail.

The nation’s decision to anoint a “chip czar” is the latest step to advance its semiconductor industry in the face of harsh US sanctions.

While China still has a ways to go in catching up to the US, Taiwan and South Korea, Vice Premier Liu He is a worthy choice to spearhead the development of future semiconductor technologies, Business Standard reported.

He’s headed China’s technology reform since at least 2018, acted as chief negotiator in US-China trade talks and his position within leader Xi Jinping’s inner circle ensures his recommendations get heard.

----------


Beijing is right to trumpet this success in space, and the results ought to boost morale within its struggling chip sector.

According to the South China Morning Post, China’s output of integrated circuits (IC) in May reached an all-time, single month high, as the country pulled out all stops to produce chips, according to central government data.

China’s chip output in May surged 37.6% from a year ago, to 29.9 billion units, the National Bureau of Statistics date showed.

While China’s chip makers are not able to produce high volumes of advanced 14-nm node chips — the type needed to power the latest iPhones — the country’s chip designers and manufacturers can produce mature technology ICs for home appliances and automobiles, SCMP reported.

In the first five months of this year, China produced 139.9 billion IC units, a 48.3% surge compared to the same period last year, data showed.

The latest data confirms that China is sparing no effort in its pursuit of self-sufficiency in semiconductors, SCMP reported.

In March, Beijing moved to waive levies on imported semiconductor parts and materials until 2030, SCMP reported. The Chinese government has declared its ambition to cultivate a US$237 billion domestic component market by 2023.

Meanwhile, Huawei Technologies is adamant in its pursuit of developing world-beating semiconductors, despite toughened US sanctions, according to Catherine Chen, a Huawei director and senior vice-president, Nikkei Asia reported.

Chen said the company has no intention of restructuring chip design subsidiary HiSilicon, despite the fact it has more than 7,000 workers on its payroll and is expected to go years without contributing to earnings.

But Huawei is privately held and unaffected by external forces, and its management has clearly shown it intends to retain HiSilicon, Chen said.

Riaz Haq said…
Xi Jinping Picks Top Lieutenant to Lead China’s Chip Battle Against U.S.


https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-06-17/xi-taps-top-lieutenant-to-lead-china-s-chip-battle-against-u-s


Liu He, Xi’s economic czar whose sprawling portfolio spans trade to finance and technology, has been tapped to spearhead the development of so-called third-generation chip development and capabilities and is leading the formulation of a series of financial and policy supports for the technology, according to people with knowledge of the matter.

It’s a nascent field that relies on newer materials and gear beyond traditional silicon and is currently an arena where no company or nation yet dominates, offering Beijing one of its best chances to sidestep the hurdles slapped on its chipmaking industry by the U.S. and its allies. The sanctions, which emerged during Donald Trump’s presidency, have already smothered Huawei Technologies Co.’s smartphone business and will impede longer-term efforts by chipmakers from Huawei’s HiSilicon to Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. to migrate toward more advanced wafer fabrication technologies, threatening China’s technological ambitions.

“China is the world’s largest user of chips, so supply chain security is of high priority,” said Gu Wenjun, chief analyst at research firm ICwise. “It’s not possible for any country to control the entire supply chain, but a country’s effort is definitely stronger than a single company.”

The involvement of one of Xi’s most-trusted lieutenants in China’s chip efforts highlights the importance accorded by Beijing to the initiative, which is gaining urgency as rivals from the U.S. to Japan and South Korea scramble to shore up their own industries. The Chinese president has long called upon his Harvard-educated adviser to tackle matters of top national priority, making him the chief representative in trade negotiations with the U.S. as well as chairman of the Financial Stability and Development Committee, where Liu leads the charge to curb risks in the nation’s $5-trillion-plus financial sector.

In May, Liu spearheaded a meeting of the technology task force that discussed ways to grow next-generation semiconductor technologies, according to a government statement. The 69-year-old vice premier, who has led the country’s technology reform task force since 2018, is also overseeing projects that could lead to breakthroughs in traditional chipmaking, including the development of China’s own chip design software and extreme ultraviolet lithography machines, one of the people said, asking not to be identified as they weren’t authorized to speak to media.

The State Council and the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology didn’t respond to faxed requests for comment.

During trade negotiations with the Trump administration, Liu emerged as one of the most visible advocates of Beijing’s agenda. He’s known Xi since childhood -- both are sons of veteran Communist Party leaders and were among masses of young people dispatched to work in impoverished rural areas during the Cultural Revolution. Now, Liu is leading the charge to reform the tech sector, which was identified in China’s latest five-year economic plan as a key strategic area in which the “whole nation system” should be used to mobilize any necessary resources.

First introduced under Mao Zedong to help the then-fledgling Communist China industrialize, the approach was crucial to helping Beijing attain a number of top national priorities, from developing its first atomic bomb in the early 1960s to achieving Olympic sporting success. After that it was largely set aside as officials shifted to focus on economic growth. But following a series of U.S. sanctions that exposed the vulnerabilities of China’s chip capabilities, Xi is once again reactivating the mechanism to achieve breakthroughs in advanced chip development and manufacturing.

About a trillion dollars of government funding have been set aside under the technology initiative,
Riaz Haq said…
The White House released a report on Tuesday that offers a solemn assessment of American companies prioritizing profits over national security and long-term sustainability. “A focus on maximizing short-term capital returns has led to the private sector’s underinvestment in long-term resilience,” the 250-page report states. The United States has a competitive advantage over China in the production of semiconductor manufacturing equipment (SME), which provides a chokepoint that can limit “advanced semiconductor capabilities in countries of concern.”

https://www.forbes.com/sites/roslynlayton/2021/06/10/white-house-report-on-china-short-term-profits-undermine-long-term-resilience/?sh=4725be6a2c19

The report details the findings and recommendations of the Administration’s 100-day supply chain review required by President Biden’s executive order from February that directed the review of four key industries: semiconductors, large capacity batteries, critical minerals and pharmaceuticals. The report states that the Chinese government’s “massive subsidy campaign [as much as $200 billion over the past eight years] to develop its domestic semiconductor capability” has exploited “gray areas” in international trade rules and avoided World Trade Organization (WTO) oversight. The Chinese government has propped up key tech industries, including semiconductors manufacturing and SME production, through a “novel subsidy strategy” meant to avoid “transparency requirements of the WTO subsidy regime.” Essentially, government subsidies are booked as “investments” to avoid WTO disclosure rules.

This one of many “innovation mercantilist” tactics that Chinese state has practiced for years, according to a recent report and event by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation which details China’s deleterious impact on competitive international ecosystems for semiconductors, telecommunications equipment, biopharmaceuticals, solar photovoltaics, and high-speed rail. Co-author Stephen Ezell estimates that the US loses out on some 5000 semiconductors patents annually because of this predation.


The Chinese Communist Party has made a concerted effort to dominate the semiconductor market. The Made in China 2025 plan aims to produce 70 percent of China’s chip demand indigenously and pledges as much as $1.4 trillion of investment into China’s semiconductor industries.

Memory chips are the “most mature” of these efforts. Yangtze Memory Technologies (YMTC), which has received $24 billion in state subsidies, has emerged as a “national champion memory chip producer.” A report by James Mulvenon this year identifies ties between YMTC and the People’s Liberation Army.

“It’s not just YMTC,” cautioned Emily de La Bruyère, senior fellow at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, during a China Tech Threat roundtable forum this week. “Changxin Memory Technologies [CXMT] is equally propped up and potentially equally connected to the [People’s Liberation Army].” The roundtable titled "Let the Chips Fall?" explored the theme of how the next Undersecretary for the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) should address semiconductor policy.


The White House report appears to be a de facto roadmap for the next BIS chief and is notable for naming leading Chinese fabs with military connections which have yet to be designated as Military End Users or on the Entity List. In no uncertain words, the bipartisan United State China Commission issued a report earlier this month, Unfinished Business: Export Control and Foreign Investment Reforms which critiqued BIS for failing to issue the lists of foundational and emerging technologies as required by the 2018 Export Reform and Control Act. Such a publication would likely trigger action against the Chinese fabs.

“While the United States no longer leads the world in semiconductor manufacturing capabilities,” it has a competitive advantage over China in semiconductor manufacturing equipment (SME), the White House report adds.
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan's #tech ecosystem is finally taking off. In 2021, Pakistani #startups are on track to raise more money than the previous 5 years combined. This capital is coming from investors from #Asia, #MiddleEast & top #SiliconValley VCs.
https://tcrn.ch/2TEwRR0 via @techcrunch

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1412922307438268416?s=20


Pakistan, the world’s fifth most populous country, has been slow to adapt to the internet economy. Unlike other emerging economies such as China, India and Indonesia, which have embraced digitization and technology, Pakistan has trailed the region in the adoption of technology and startup formation.

Despite this, investors have dreamed for years of the huge opportunities in unlocking Pakistan’s potential as a digital economy. As a country of 220 million people, almost two-thirds of whom are under the age of 30, Pakistan draws natural comparisons to Indonesia — which has rapidly emerged as one of the most vibrant technology ecosystems outside the U.S. and China.

After years of lagging behind, over the course of the past 18 months, Pakistan’s technology ecosystem has come to life in unprecedented fashion. In 2021, Pakistani startups are on track to raise more money than the previous five years combined. Even more excitingly, a large portion of this capital is coming from international investors from across Asia, the Middle East and even famed investors from Silicon Valley.

The rapid emergence of Pakistan’s technology ecosystem on the international stage has been no accident — it’s the result of a confluence of changing facts on the ground and shifting dynamics in the startup and investing world as a result of the pandemic.


The sudden emergence of Pakistan’s tech ecosystem on the international stage has been driven by three major factors: an improving security situation, quickly growing mobile connectivity, and critical legal changes and deregulation.

As a frontline state and coalition partner in the United States’ invasion of Afghanistan, Pakistan saw fatalities from terrorist violence soar from 295 in 2001 to a peak of over 11,000 in 2009. This climate of instability and violence scared away international business and investors from Pakistan for much of the first two decades of the 21st century.

Popular posts from this blog

Turkish-Born Muslim Scientists Behind Pfizer's Successful COVID19 Vaccine

Karachi-born NED University Alum Leads Mercedes Entry into Electric Vehicles Market

Pakistani Women's Growing Particpation in Workforce