By Kang Yoon-seung
SEOUL, April 7 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will spare no effort to support local chipmakers amid the industrywide slump, the finance minister said Friday, vowing to provide various incentives, such as tax cuts.
"Chips act as the brain for cutting-edge industries including artificial intelligence and future mobility," Finance Minister Choo Kyung-ho said during his visit to Samsung's production line in Pyeongtaek, 65 kilometers south of Seoul.
South Korea has been struggling to revitalize its semiconductor industry, the backbone for Asia's fourth-largest economy, amid the global downcycle in the industry.
Exports of chips, the mainstay product, reached US$8.59 billion in March, plunging 34.5 percent on-year.
The parliament last month passed a revision of the Act on Restriction of Special Taxation, also dubbed the K-Chips Act, which centers on expanding the tax credit rate for chipmakers.
Under the bill, the tax credit rate for conglomerates will rise to 15 percent from the current 8 percent, while the rate for small and medium-sized businesses will increase to 25 percent from 16 percent.
Choo added he "highly evaluates" Samsung's decision to spend 300 trillion won (US$227.3 billion) over the next 20 years for a new chip cluster in Yongin, 40 kilometers south of Seoul, despite uncertainties in the industry.
Earlier in the day, Samsung Electronics said it cut memory production, as its first-quarter profit marks the worst in more than a decade amid the chip downturn.
The world's largest memory chip and smartphone maker estimated its January-March operating profit at 600 billion won, sharply down from 14.12 trillion won a year ago.