This is not good news for Puerto Rico, which has an unemployment rate of more than 12% and is now struggling with a debt crisis. But it may be helpful for China; it’s trying to increase its semiconductor manufacturing capability by investing in U.S. firms — to the concern of some U.S. lawmakers.
In 2003, Micron broke ground on a 48,000-square-foot “advanced technology DRAM module assembly” facility in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. Micron already had more than 200 employees working at a temporary facility on the island.
But last month, Micron filed for Trade Adjustment Assistant (TAA) benefits for the employees in Puerto Rico, and in its application to the U.S. Labor Department the firm wrote: “Due to economic pressures on the business the Micron Puerto Rico site will be closed on approximately Dec. 31, 2015. The module line operation and equipment will be transferred to Xian, China.”
When asked about the closing of the Puerto Rico manufacturing operation, a Micron spokesman, in an email statement, said that “due to market pressures on the business and as part of ongoing operational efficiency efforts, Micron has determined it is no longer feasible for the company to continue operating its module assembly test facility in Puerto Rico.”
Micron “considered and exhausted all options, including seeking a potential buyer, in an attempt to maintain the viability of the facility. These decisions are always difficult, but Micron business conditions are affected by market dynamics,” the firm said.
China is very interested in expanding its semiconductor capability and a Chinese firm, Tsinghua Unigroup, recently made what was described as a $23 billion bid in an attempt to acquire the Boise-based Micron.
“The Chinese government is more or less playing hardball with multinationals in making sure there is a local stake for China, either through establishing joint ventures or local manufacturing facilities,” said Rau…..