Companies including Intel, GM, Infineon, and SK Hynix have signaled they will cooperate with a voluntary request for data on the global chips crisis, the U.S. Department of Commerce said on Thursday.
The Department noted that while the data request is currently voluntary, it may make it compulsory depending on the number and quality of responses.
The White House last month asked both foreign and domestic chip makers to submit supply chain information, including inventory data, demand, and delivery dynamics, by November 8 in an effort to boost transparency and help understand where bottlenecks may exist.
It comes amid a global chip shortage within the auto industry that was prompted after chip companies began diverting their production to computers and tablets, where demand was soaring, as the demand for autos fell during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Companies including Intel, GM, Infineon, and SK Hynix, have indicated that they plan to be very forthcoming with their data. We are very appreciative of their efforts and encourage other companies to follow suit,” a Commerce spokesperson told Reuters.
“The (request for information) is voluntary but this information is crucial to addressing concerns about transparency in the supply chain. Whether or not we have to use compulsory measures depends on how many companies engage and the quality of the data shared.”
Intel, GM, Infineon, and SK Hynix did not immediately respond to Reuters’ requests for comment.
In late September, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo signaled that the data disclosure may become compulsory.
“What I told them is, ‘I don’t want to have to do anything compulsory but if they don’t comply, then they’ll leave me no choice,'” she told Fortune. “I said today we’re evaluating all of our options right now, all the tools. I hope not to go there but we need to see some progress and we definitely need compliance.”
Raimondo said the information request was necessary due to a lack of trust among various companies in the supply chain and allegations of certain companies buying more semiconductor chips than they need and stockpiling.
“So suppliers say, ‘We can’t get a handle on an accurate demand signal because consumers are stockpiling, so we don’t know what the accurate demand is.’ Some consumers are saying ‘We can’t get straight answers from suppliers, how come I was told I could have X and now I’m being told I can only have half of X?'” she said.
But the data request has sparked concern within Taiwan’s semiconductor industry, with fears that the world’s largest contract chipmaker and a major Apple Inc supplier, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (TSMC), would have to hand over sensitive data.
TSMC said earlier this month that it would not provide any sensitive company information.
In a statement to Reuters, the company said it is preparing and will respond to the voluntary data request.
“TSMC has been actively supporting and working with all stakeholders to overcome the global semiconductor supply challenge,” it said.
“Looking forward, to increase the demand visibility in this complex supply chain should be the path to avoid such shortages from happening in the future. We have been a strong partner in this effort and will continue taking actions to address this challenge,” it added.
In an Oct. 6 statement, South Korea’s trade ministry also shared concerns over the request, noting that the scope of the requested data is “vast and a number of operational secrets are included, which is a big concern in South Korea.”
But the country’s trade minister Moon Sung-wook told a parliament committee on Thursday that companies would be compliant with the request and are preparing to review and submit data without violating laws relating to confidentially.
On Thursday, a bipartisan group of over 30 lawmakers sent a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) warning them of the “dire consequences” the automotive industry faces if they fail to swiftly advance legislation that would provide $52 billion in funding for semiconductor chips, including $2 billion set aside for chips used by automakers.
The Senate voted 68–32 in June to approve a sweeping package of legislation that aims to boost the country’s ability to compete with Chinese technology, including providing $52 billion for chips and $2 billion in funding dedicated to the type of chips automakers use.
However, the measure has stalled in the House, leaving automakers across the globe forced to drastically cut production due to supply shortages. Automakers are also facing a shortage of materials and labor.
Reuters contributed to this report.