EU and Japan look to partner on A.I. and chips as China ‘de-risking’ strategy continues


Thierry Breton, internal market commissioner for the European Union, delivers a keynote at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

Angel Garcia | Bloomberg | Getty Images

The European Union is looking to co-operate more closely with Japan on key technologies such as artificial intelligence, the bloc’s industry chief said, as the coalition looks to reduce its reliance on China in certain areas.

EU Commissioner Thierry Breton is meeting with the Japanese government on Monday, and artificial intelligence will be “very high” on his agenda, he said in a video posted on Twitter on Sunday.

“I will engage with [the] Japanese government … on how we can organize our digital space, including AI based on our shared value,” Breton said.

Breton also said there will be an EU-Japan Digital Partnership council, to discuss areas including quantum and high performance computing. The EU held a similar council with South Korea last week, in which the two sides agreed to cooperate on technologies such as AI and cybersecurity.

Partnerships with key Asian countries with strong technology sectors come as the EU looks to “de-risk” from China — a different approach from that of the U.S., which has sought to decouple its economy from Beijing.

Part of that EU strategy involves deepening the relationship with allied countries around technology.

Breton told Reuters on Monday that the bloc and Japan will co-operate in the area of semiconductors. Japan is a key country in the semiconductor supply chain, and Tokyo has been looking to strengthen its domestic industry. Last week, a fund backed by the Japanese government proposed to buy domestic chipmaking firm JSR for around 903.9 billion yen ($6.3 billion).

The EU has also been looking to strengthen its own semiconductor industry across the bloc.

Semiconductors are vital components that go into everything from cars to smartphones and have potential military applications. Countries around the world have been reassessing their supply chains, and some, like the U.S., have looked to bring semiconductor manufacturing back onshore.

Semiconductors are also key to training artificial intelligence models. AI and chips are seen as two key areas of technology for the future, which countries are trying to position themselves to take advantage of.

At the same time, the U.S. in particular has sought to cut China off from critical technologies, such as semiconductors, through export restrictions and Washington has looked to convince European allies to join.

The Netherlands, home to one of the world’s most critical chip firms ASML, last week announced new export restrictions on advanced semiconductor equipment.



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