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State governors from Arizona, New Mexico seek stronger economic ties with Taiwan

Southwest Governors Taiwan
Posted at 8:22 AM, Sep 20, 2023

SANTA FE, N.M. — Governors from the Southwestern United States are pursuing stronger business ties with Taiwan in hopes of attracting new foreign investments and jobs to their landlocked states.

Trade missions this week have taken New Mexico. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and Arizona counterpart Katie Hobbs, both Democrats, to the self-governing island of Taiwan.

Hobbs said her goal was to encourage ongoing investments to make Arizona a hub for semiconductor manufacturing. She met Monday with Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. executives and suppliers, visiting their plant as well as water treatment facilities.

Arizona leaders have been touting that the state will be the home of a Taiwanese microchip manufacturer’s first U.S. plant, generating 12,000 construction jobs.

Construction started in 2021 on that sprawling facility that will utilize precision trademark technology for semiconductor fabrication with the capacity to produce 20,000 wafers per month. Once completed and operational next year, the plant is estimated to create 4,500 high-tech jobs.

Democratic President Joe Biden visited the site in December, praising it as a demonstration of how his policies are fostering job growth. Biden has staked his legacy in large part on major investments in technology and infrastructure that were approved by Congress along bipartisan lines.

At a business conference in Taipei on Tuesday, Lujan Grisham urged entrepreneurs and leaders to consider investment opportunities in her home state, touting a workforce with access to subsidized child care and tuition-free college.

Lujan Grisham says she hopes to expand the presence in New Mexico of Taiwanese companies that already including the label printing business Cymmetrik and wire manufacturer Admiral Cable – both with facilities at Santa Teresa, New Mexico, near a port of entry for freight between the U.S. and Mexico.

“Strengthening our relationships here is good for New Mexico, good for America, and good for Taiwan as we develop a global economy with a more stable and resilient supply chain," Lujan Grisham said in a statement.

Beijing wants to reunite the mainland with the self-governing island of Taiwan, a goal that raises the prospect of armed conflict.

At the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday, Biden described U.S. partnerships around the globe aimed at creating economic, security and other advancements, even as he stressed that those relationships were not about “containing any country” — a clear reference to Beijing.

Several other governors — Democratic and Republican — have recently traveled on trade missions to Taiwan. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer became the first serving governor of Michigan to visit Taiwan, during an investments-related tour this month that included stops in Japan. Republican Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb traveled to Taiwan in August on a separate trade mission.

In August, Singapore-based Maxeon Solar Technologies announced plans to build a major solar panel manufacturing plant in Albuquerque, New Mexico, pending approval of a loan application with the U.S. Department of Energy.

The factory would employ about 1,800 people to provide photovoltaic solar panels for use in residential, commercial and utility-scale solar arrays.

Hobbs’ trade mission includes a visit to South Korea.