Newport MP ‘frustrated’ that semiconductor company being bought by Chinese-owned firm now a ‘political football’
A Welsh MP has expressed her “frustration” that a hi-tech company in her constituency is being used as a “political football” by the UK Government and others.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson last year asked national security adviser Sir Stephen Lovegrove to examine the purchase of Newport Wafer Fab by Chinese-owned firm Nexperia for a reported £63 million.
The Welsh company is one of the UK’s largest manufacturers of semiconductors, which are key components in communications devices and technology.
But Newport West MP Ruth Jones wrote to Lord Callanan, the Business Minister, last week and received confirmation that the NSA had not completed – or started – his investigation.
The managers of Wafer Fab confirmed that they have not been approached by either the Foreign Affairs Select Committee or the National Security Advisor.
Ruth Jones MP said: “I am frustrated that Newport Wafer Fab is being used as a political football. This is detracting from the great work that is carried out there.
“This is a vital factory for Wales producing the essential building blocks to be used in producing electronic equipment from cars to mobiles. The workforce is highly skilled and, since Nexperia took over the site in 2019, they have recruited additional staff and issued 2 pay raises and bonuses.
“They are also continuing to expand the site with new plant machinery.”
Ruth Jones stressed that Nexperia is a Dutch company which has sites across the world, including one in Manchester and is committed to continues investment in Newport Wafer Fab as part of its worldwide business within the semiconductor industry.
Yesterday MPs have questioned why a security review into the takeover of a hi-tech Welsh company to a Chinese-owned firm has allegedly “not begun”.
The Commons Foreign Affairs Committee said the sale of Wafer Fab to a “company with links to the Chinese Communist Party” had resulted in one of the UK’s “prized assets” going to a “strategic competitor”, and could potentially compromise national security.
In a report – Sovereignty For Sale: Follow-up To The Acquisition of Newport Wafer Fab – published on Tuesday, the committee’s MPs questioned why the UK Government had not used powers in the National Security and Investment Act to intervene.
The Act, which came into force in January, affords ministers the right to step-in on business matters “where there is a risk to national security”.
Tom Tugendhat, Tory chairman of the committee, said: “The Prime Minister’s assurances that work is underway are welcome.
“However, so few details have been provided to the committee, that we are left with the unfortunate conclusion that no review has taken place.
“Today, the committee is calling on the Government to clarify the reasons why the Prime Minister requested a review in Newport Wafer Fab and why this review has not begun.
“The Government has the tools, it just needs to use them.”
Swansea West MP Geraint Davies said last week that the UK Government should have blocked the sale as China were “defending Russia against war sanctions and weaponising trade against democracies”.
A Government spokesman said: “The Government is considering the case and no decisions have been made.”
China now controls more than nine per cent of the global semiconductor market, closing in on the EU which controls 10%.
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