While a troubled ceasefire settles over the trade war between the United States and China, there are now animations that are beaten by Japan against South Korea and vice versa. And companies like Apple, Huawei, LG and Samsung can get caught up in the crossfire. As we told you late last month, Japan today is starting to limit exports of fluorinated polyimide and resist and high purity hydrogen fluoride (HF) to South Korea. These materials are used for the production of smartphone displays in the country by LG and Samsung, and for producing memory chips by Samsung and SK Hynix Inc. Japan accounts for 70% to 90% of the world's supply of these materials.
Japanese exporters will now require government permission to ship the above materials to South Korea, a process that can take up to 90 days for each request. This can reduce the production of OLED panels manufactured by LG and Samsung for Apple iPhone and other customers. It can also adversely affect LG and Samsung's production of monitors and components for their own devices.
The battle started over a decision in October in October by the South Korean Supreme Court. The court states that Japan must pay a hundred thousand dollars to replace South Koreans who were forced to work for Japan's Nippon Steel during World War II. Today, Reuters reports that the Koreans are ready to oppose. South Korean Trade Minister Yoo Myung-hee said the actions taken by the Japanese government could pose a major threat to the global supply chain. And if it's one thing that technology companies should have learned from the US ban on Huawei, it's important to have an open supply chain.
Apple and other manufacturers may face a shortage of OLED panels this year
The only retribution that South Korea may consider is "diplomatic countermeasures", including filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Yoon Do-Han, press secretary of South Korean President Moon Jae-in said in a statement, "We will explain to big countries the injustice of Japan's action and the fact that it violates the free trade principle." However, South Korean finance minister Hong Nam-ki said it could take a long time for the WTO to settle the dispute. Meanwhile, Apple, Huawei, LG and Samsung may suffer.
Apple sources LCD panels for iPhone XR from Japan Display
"Implementation of similar measures against Japan cannot be excluded. [This could cause] Unfortunate damage to both Korean and Japanese economies. " – Hong Nam-ki, Finance Minister, South Korea
Not many vendors can handle the supply of OLED panels in quantity and quality ordered by Apple, and if this battle between the two nations goes, it can get a serious one impact on 2019 iPhone production. While Apple makes source panels for the iPhone XR and older models from Japan Display, the latter has been unable to prove that it can handle the type of OLED production that Apple requires. Yes, Japan displays manufacturers AMOLED displays used on Apple Watch, but these panels are extremely small compared to the larger screens required for the iPhone. Apple recently agreed to invest $ 100 million in Japan Display and provide the company with some extra orders for LCD panels originally to be manufactured in China.
With speculation that the 2020-designed iPhones will all sports OLED monitors, Apple may be able to explore the possibility of moving some of its OLED output out of South Korea as a precaution. Although Japan and South Korea update their relationship, it becomes clear that smartphone manufacturers can't afford to rely on suppliers in just one or two countries to maintain a steady stream of parts and software.