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TSMC Makes a Key Washington Hire To Help Navigate China Tensions

DebWu

(Bloomberg) -- Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., a major chipmaker to Apple Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co., has hired a new lobbyist in Washington to help stave off the impact of deteriorating U.S.-Chinese relations on its business.

Former U.S. Chamber of Commerce executive Nicholas Montella joined the Taiwanese company in May as its director of government relations, just months after Intel Corp.’s former top lobbyist Peter Cleveland became TSMC’s vice president for global policy. The company confirmed the appointment of Montella, who previously focused on Japan, Korea and APEC policy, according to his LinkedIn profile.

The world’s biggest contract chipmaker joins a growing number of companies, including Huawei, with business links to China that are increasing their lobbying activities in the U.S., looking to gauge and lessen the impact from Washington’s ongoing dispute with Beijing.

The stakes for TSMC became even higher earlier this month when a new round of U.S. curbs thrust it into heart of tensions over Huawei. Under the rules from the U.S. Department of Commerce, TSMC will have to apply for waivers from Washington for future orders from Huawei. The Chinese tech giant is TSMC’s largest customer after Apple, according to Bloomberg supply chain data, contributing roughly 14% of the chipmaker’s revenue.

The Commerce Department announcement came hours after TSMC said it would build a $12 billion plant for advanced 5-nanometer chips in Arizona, a desicion designed to allay U.S. national security concerns and shift more high-tech manufacturing to America.

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