Industries from European and Asian countries, as well as the United States, are interested in setting up semiconductor factories in Brazil, declared Henrique de Oliveira Miguel, coordinator of Microelectronics in the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Semiconductors are components of the microcircuits or "chips" used in electronic equipment.
According to Miguel, the number of consultations by foreign manufacturers seeking information from the Brazilian government has risen since the Industrial, Technological, and Foreign Trade Policy was launched in March, 2004.
Discussions over the introduction of digital television in Brazil have ratcheted up interest in domestic production of semiconductors even more.
Both the Japanese and the Europeans, who, together with the Americans, are competing with one another to furnish digital TV technology to Brazil, have held out the prospect of producing semiconductors in the country as one of the potential advantages of opting for their respective systems.
Brazil has desired the installation of this type of industry in the country for some time. The country does not produce the microchips used in computers, cell phones, and televisions, for example.
As a result, the country spends around US$ 2.5 billion a year just to import microchips, nearly half of the sum total of US$ 5.2 billion spent each year to acquire electronic equipment and components in general.
The Ministry of Science and Technology has calculated that domestic production of chips would help the country’s trade balance to the tune of around US$ 2.7 billion. This does not take into account the possibility that, besides importing less, Brazil could add to its revenues by exporting microchips.
Over the past 25 years, the sector has grown at an annual rate of 13.5%. The microchip market turned over US$ 226 billion in 2005, compared with US$ 140 billion in 2002.
Early this month, a US company set up a unit in the municipality of Atibaia, in the state of São Paulo, to carry out one of the final stages of microchip production, known as encapsulation and memory-testing.