The European Union (EU) has announced it will strengthen its cooperation with Japan on the production of semiconductors – as countries move to decrease their dependence on China. 

Japan and the EU will be working together to trade research and engineers, as well as monitoring overall chip supplies, said Thierry Breton, European Commissioner for Internal Market, on Monday (3 July).

Breton announced the launch of an EU-Japan Digital Partnership Council, which will meet to discuss a range of areas like artificial intelligence (AI) and quantum computing. 

Talking to Reuters, Breton said: “We believe that it’s extremely important to secure the supply chain of semiconductors.”

The EU also announced it would be welcoming to Japan-based semiconductor companies that are looking to operate in the region. 

The move comes as countries around the world seek greater independence over their supply of semiconductors. The EU has been seeking to build partnerships with leading Asian countries as part of a strategy to “de-risk” from China, CNBC reported.

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Semiconductors are some of the most important technology components in the world right now. The technology is a vital to everything from military applications to smart phones, as well as a key part of training AI models. 

As countries around the world scramble to lead AI development, governments have been making policy decisions to secure an uninterrupted supply of semiconductors.

The US, for example, has been attempting to ensure the production of semiconductors domestically, while imposing sanctions on the export of semiconductor materials to China.

Last week, the Netherlands announced it would be imposing new restrictions on the export of semiconductor equipment – as the US recruits more allies in its mission to restrict chip exports to China.