Germany ready to double state aid for semiconductor industry - minister

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FILE PHOTO: A close-up of a micro-controller of German semiconductor manufacturer Infineon is seen before the company's annual shareholder meeting in Munich

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BERLIN (Reuters) - Germany is ready to double state support for the semiconductor industry, Economy Minister Peter Altmaier said on Thursday, as Europe's largest economy strives to broaden its high-technology industrial base.

Altmaier made the comments on a trip to Dresden, the region's largest semiconductor industry cluster, where he visited plants run by Infineon and GlobalFoundries.

He has already earmarked 5 billion euros ($5.9 billion) in government money to support chip makers under a European Union-backed scheme.

Citing "high interest from significant investors from outside Germany", Altmaier told a news conference that the state support could be doubled to 10 billion euros.

European governments want to stem a decline in chip production that has seen the region's share of global output dwindle to just a tenth, exposing it to shocks to both supply and demand arising from the coronavirus pandemic.

GlobalFoundries has already applied for funding under the second edition of the so-called Important Project of Common European Interest, or IPCEI, for microelectronics as it looks to expand its local production capacity from 2024.

Also shopping for state aid is Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, who is this week visiting Europe for the second time since taking the helm at the U.S. chipmaker earlier this year.

Altmaier said he expected initial approvals for investments under the microelectronics IPCEI later this year, with final clearance expected in 2022.

($1 = 0.8420 euros)

(Reporting by Douglas Busvine; Editing by Madeline Chambers)

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