Regarding rising tensions stemming from the Russian-Ukrainian war, TrendForce indicates that Russia is not one of the Taiwanese foundry industry’s primary markets. Hence, while sanctions against Russia continue to pile up, their impact on Taiwanese foundries will likely remain limited, though the war may potentially result in a decline in sales of end-devices, thereby indirectly reducing manufacturers’ component demand and, subsequently, wafer inputs at foundries.
TrendForce indicates that the smartphone industry will be noticeably affected by the ongoing war. Take the ranking of smartphone brands by market share in Russia and Ukraine last year, for instance; the top three brands sold included Samsung, Xiaomi, and Apple, which had a combined annual sale of about 45 million units for 2021. Since the inception of the armed conflict, there have been continued fluctuations in currency exchange rates, with the Ruble plummeting in value, and this devaluation has been noticeably reflected in retail sales of iPhones. More specifically, the retail price for the iPhone 13 Pro 128 GB has risen by almost 50% in Russia. Such price hikes pertaining to electronic items will likely prompt consumers to reallocate a rising portion of their spending to other daily necessities instead. Therefore, the two countries’ demand for chips is expected to rapidly shrink, in turn leading IC design companies to reduce their wafer input at foundries.
With foundries terminating their supply to Russia, will Chinese companies subsequently benefit from redirected orders?
Although Russia is not a major market for the Taiwanese foundry industry, certain Elbrus-branded chips, used in military and networking applications, are manufactured by TSMC. Notably, the Washington Post indicated that TSMC is no longer manufacturing and shipping Elbrus products, while there have also been rumors suggesting Chinese semiconductor companies may reap benefits in response. TrendForce, however, believes that, even though Chinese foundries are able to provide the 1Xnm and more mature process nodes necessary for Elbrus chip production, the requisite redesign and verification processes will likely take at least one year. As such, Russia will have a difficult time immediately redirecting orders for Elbrus chips to Chinese foundries, and the Chinese semiconductor industry will not be able to take advantage of these orders in the short-term.
Escalating warfare places significant stress on transportation, logistics, and supply chains
In light of the ongoing conflict, various parties have been imposing diverse sanctions on Russia, and the shipping industry has, in turn, sustained both direct and indirect ramifications pertaining to their businesses’ stability and safety. Logistic disruptions and skyrocketing prices, for instance, represent some of the issues that have emerged post-conflict and placed undue stress on the global supply chains. As a hotbed of semiconductor production, then, Taiwan would naturally be assumed to have domestic semiconductor companies stockpile component inventories. However, according to TrendForce’s investigations, not only do most of these companies currently possess healthy inventory levels, but Russia and Ukraine also do not represent the sole sources of semiconductor materials for Taiwan, since Taiwanese companies have been sourcing materials from China as well. Hence, the Russian-Ukrainian war has caused neither noticeable stock-up activities nor production bottlenecks for Taiwanese semiconductor companies.