U.S. Commerce chief says Taiwan's TSMC asked for help getting COVID vaccines

WASHINGTON, June 29 (Reuters) - U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo on Monday said she had spoken with the chief executive of Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd (2330.TW) (TSMC) and that he had asked for help getting access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Raimondo told Reuters in an interview "he asked for help in that regard, he has spoken to high level officials in the White House. We have responded and we definitely want to be a good partner and I do think it's helping."

Taiwan said two weeks ago it will allow officials from Taiwan's Foxconn and TSMC to negotiate on its behalf for COVID-19 vaccines. read more

Mid-June the United States shipped 2.5 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to Taiwan, more than tripling Washington's previous allocation of shots for the island. read more

TSMC said in a statement to Reuters that they believed "getting vaccines for Taiwan would help to protect the communities and ensure normal operations."

Taiwan has been trying to speed up the arrival of the millions of vaccines it has on order as it deals with a rise in domestic cases, although infections remain comparatively low.

The request from TSMC, the world's biggest manufacturer of semiconductors on contract, coincides with a global chip shortage that has slowed production of manufacturers around the world, including in the U.S. auto industry where it is forecast the crisis will hit the production of 3.9 million vehicles. Raimondo has a key role in resolving the crisis for U.S. companies.

Although there has been no major impact so far on chip production in Taiwan since domestic cases began rising in the middle of May, some U.S. auto executives have told Reuters privately earlier this month they were concerned COVID-19 in Taiwan could impact the flow of semiconductors to U.S. factories.

Reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Taipei; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore

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