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Asia Minute: Taiwan Water Shortage Hits Semiconductor Manufacturers

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Taiwan is suffering from its worst drought in several decades. While a lack of water is having a number of impacts, it’s really hitting the semiconductor industry.

For the first time in more than half a century, not a single typhoon struck Taiwan last year.

While that sounds like a positive development, there’s a downside.

Those typhoons help to fill reservoirs and top off aquifers.

Without them, Taiwan has been hit with a water shortage.

Agence France Presse quotes government figures saying the first three months of this year have seen rainfall at less than half the usual rate.

That’s led to water rationing in the central part of Taiwan—and complicated business for producers of semiconductors which rely heavily on water.

The government has eased some water restrictions for makers of semiconductors, but this comes at a time when the world is already facing a shortage of them.

Some manufacturers say further uncertainty may soon be reflected in prices.

So far, companies are finding alternatives—shipping in extra water and tapping different sources.

But scientists warn there is a deeper issue here because the frequency of typhoons, or lack of them, is affected by global warming.

In the shorter term, manufacturers are joining farmers with a hopeful look to the near future: rainy season in Taiwan usually starts around the middle of next month.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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