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Winter weather closes Texas chip plants, worsening shortages

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Juan De La Cruz works on a water pipe break at an intersection on February 19, 2021 in Galveston, Texas. – A fierce and deadly winter storm that wreaked havoc in the southern and central US and blanketed the East Coast in snow was forecast Friday to start tapering off.<br />After days of bone-chilling cold that left millions without power and caused water pipes to burst in oil-rich Texas, temperatures were forecast to be well above freezing on Friday in much of the Lone Star state and rise into the 50s Fahrenheit (10 to 15 Celsius) into the weekend. (Photo by Thomas Shea / AFP)

The winter storm ravaging the United States has forced the shutdown of computer chip manufacturing in Texas, threatening to worsen a global semiconductor shortage.

NXP Semiconductors, a major provider of automotive and mobile phone chips, said its plant in Austin, Texas was closed amid the state’s electric power difficulties.

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“We are carefully monitoring the situation and will resume operations in our Austin facilities as soon as possible,” said David Reed, executive vice president for operations at the Dutch-based company.

Infineon Technologies said it was given notice this week that power would be turned off for its plant in Austin.

“This gave us a few hours to prepare for the disruption and we were able to put the factory into a safe state and protect our employees and production inventory,” a statement from the German-based tech firm said.

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“We have immediately set-up a task force, which is continuously monitoring the situation and executing mitigation measures.”

Operations were also suspended at Texas facilities of South Korea’s Samsung, according to media reports.

The news comes amid a worsening shortage of semiconductors affecting a variety of sectors including automobiles, mobile phones, game consoles and more.

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Manufacturers have faced challenges in meeting strong consumer electronics demand during the pandemic while meeting the needs of other sectors.

The Biden administration said last week it was assessing immediate steps to address the semiconductor shortage and planned an executive order to shore up critical supply chain items.

The White House said the administration wants a “comprehensive review of supply chains for critical goods” that can guide both short- and long-term actions.

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