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Chip sales set to cool further as global recession fears mount

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG) – Chip sales are set to cool more than previously expected as the world economy struggles under the weight of rapid interest rate increases and rising geopolitical risks, fuelling fears of a global recession.

World Semiconductor Trade Statistics (WSTS), a non-profit body that tracks shipments, lowered its market outlook to 13.9 per cent growth this year from the previous 16.3 per cent. In 2023, it sees chip sales rising just 4.6 per cent, the weakest pace since 2019.

The market is still expected to surpass US$600 billion (S$838 billion) this year, WSTS said. Next year’s forecast growth would be the weakest since a 12 per cent drop in sales at the height of the United States-China trade war.

Chip sales are an important indicator of global economic activity as households and firms increasingly rely on digital devices and online services to consume and expand. US President Joe Biden this month signed the so-called Chips and Science Act aimed at strengthening the US semiconductor industry even as China races to expand its own chip-making capacity.

Japan will probably see the strongest sales growth at 5 per cent next year, followed by the Americas at 4.8 per cent and the Asia-Pacific at 4.7 per cent, according to WSTS. Europe, where Russia’s war on Ukraine is reverberating across the continent’s economy, will likely post an expansion of just 3.2 per cent.

The International Monetary Fund last month downgraded its global growth forecast and said 2023 may be tougher than this year. A Bloomberg Economics model sees a 100 per cent probability of a US recession within the next 24 months.

US-based WSTS includes among its members Texas Instruments, Samsung Electronics, Sony Semiconductor Solutions and Yangzhou Yangjie Electronic Technology, according to its website.