Elpida, Micron ask Japan to take Hynix to task

More illegal state subsidy allegations

Memory makers Elpida and Micron have asked Japan's Ministry of Finance to impose punitive duties on rival manufacturer Hynix.

Hynix said Japan's investigation is "particularly unreasonable and unwarranted at this time, when the world DRAM market has been showing a continued strong performance since 2003, and when the WTO is currently reviewing the legitimacy of [countervailing duty] investigations conducted by the US and the EU in 2003."

Once again, the Korean firm is accused of accepting subsidies from the South Korean government - financial help that is illegal, according to World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules.

The petition, announced by Elpida this morning, seeks a ruling against direct imports of Hynix DRAM into Japan and asks that the tariff be applied to third parties that bring Hynix memory into the country.

By using third parties, Hynix sought to bypass a similar tariff imposed by the European Commission last year. The US has also applied a punitive levy on Hynix imports, but this is less effective since Hynix fabs memory in the US - memory that is not covered by the duty.

Hynix has appealed against both the US and EU tariffs, asking the WTO to rule them invalid. It says tthe rescue funds provided by its creditor banks do not amount to government aid, as Micron, Infineon and now Elpida claim. While the South Korean government did hold stakes in some of those banks, others were independent of the administration, which was also in the process of reducing its level of ownership of the others. ®

Related stories

WTO to rule on Hynix import duties
Hynix appeals against EU DRAM tax
South Korea launches Hynix probe
South Korea asks WTO to overturn EU Hynix levy
Elpida, Nanya demand Hynix DRAM probes
Hynix cashes in its chips
Hynix leads Q1 DRAM sales charge
Hynix, STMicro plot Chinese DRAM JV
Memory makers hit by price-fixing claims