Taiwan appoints senior executive at TSMC supplier as new economy minister

By Thomson Reuters Apr 15, 2024 | 11:26 PM

TAIPEI (Reuters) – Taiwan’s incoming premier announced on Tuesday he had appointed a senior executive from TSMC supplier Topco Scientific as economy minister, saying he would be tasked with resolving the persistent problem of stable power supplies.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co is the world’s largest contract chipmaker and the chip industry is the backbone of Taiwan’s export-dependent economy.

The economy ministry is key to overseeing development and approving overseas investments, as well as being in charge of power generation and supplies via utility Taipower.

Cho Jung-tai, who will not take over as premier until president-elect Lai Ching-te is inaugurated on May 20, told reporters the chairman of semiconductor material supplier Topco Group, J.W. Kuo, would be the economy minister, replacing Wang Mei-hua, a lawyer by training.

Cho lauded Kuo’s semiconductor background and his deep international experience with international supply chains, but said power supplies would be a top ask for the new minister.

“I will also ask Minister Kuo to use his expertise in the energy industry to ensure stable power supplies, and further develop diversified green energy to encourage deep energy conservation for industry,” Cho said.

Taiwan experienced large-scale power outages in both 2021 and 2022, and another one in 2017, sparking criticism that the government was not doing enough to ensure stable electricity supplies especially for the crucial chip industry.

Taiwan is investing in renewable energy including wind power, but is also building new terminals for imported liquefied natural gas.

Kuo said he would elaborate on his plans once he takes office.

Topco did not immediately respond to requests for comments on Kuo’s appointment or if he would be stepping down from the company when he assumes his new government position.

(Reporting by Jeanny Kao and Ben Blanchard; editing by Miral Fahmy)