US chip imports slow in April as Asian supply lines keep moving

The value of US semiconductor imports fell 16% in April from the month prior, but manufacturers in Asia, America’s main supplier, still have reasons to be optimistic.

This year through April, chip imports in the world’s largest economy have grown by more than 10% from a year earlier, as Asia continues to benefit from past US decisions to outsource chip production to cheaper locales. While the total value of US semiconductor imports fell to $4.7 billion, the lowest since July, Asia retained an 85% share of shipments.

The leaderboard in Asia continues to shift as companies have relocated factories across borders to address Western concerns over cost and the security of semiconductor supply chains given geopolitical tensions between the US and China. The US is also trying attract chipmakers to set up more facilities on American soil.

The top exporter, Malaysia, continued to lose share to regional competitors with a 20% drop from the previous month. It accounted for just a fifth of America’s imports through April, down from a third at this time last year. The total value of shipments from the Southeast Asian nation has dropped 30% year-to-date.

India’s year-to-date 37-fold jump in US semiconductor imports remains a focal point of how supply lines have shifted in the region’s chip trade with the US. Its year-to-date shipments are at two-thirds of what China is now sending, compared with less than 2% last year.

US imports from second-place Taiwan have increased 5% this year. South Korea has grown its shipments at 7.5%, with China and Japan both dropping.

Third- and fourth-place exporters, Vietnam and Thailand, have registered growth of 52% and 80% respectively. Upstart Cambodia continued its upward climb and was the only country on the leaderboard to see positive month-on-month growth in April, with a 5.6% increase. –BLOOMBERG