US Commerce chief raised Micron, Intel with Chinese officials

By David Shepardson

BEIJING (Reuters) -U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo said on Monday that she raised concerns about a number of U.S. business issues including Intel and Micron with Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao.

Raimondo told two reporters in a brief interview she also discussed restrictions which China has imposed on gallium and germanium exports in wide-ranging and candid discussions with Wang. She met with Wang for more than two hours and then they had a two-hour lunch.

Raimondo in May said the United States "won't tolerate" China's effective ban on purchases of Micron Technology memory chips and is working closely with allies to address such "economic coercion."

Earlier this month, Intel terminated its $5.4 billion acquisition of Tower Semiconductor, after failing to secure approval from China's State Administration for Market Regulation.

China, the world's top germanium producer accounting for more than 60% of global supply, in July announced restrictions on the export of eight gallium and six germanium products, which are used to make semiconductors, effective from Aug. 1, citing national security reasons.

Raimondo announced earlier on Monday that China had agreed to create a new formal working group on commercial issues with the United States.

The new commercial issues working group is a consultation mechanism involving U.S. and Chinese government officials and private sector representatives "to seek solutions on trade and investment issues and to advance U.S. commercial interests in China."

The United States and China also agree to convene subject matter experts from both sides for technical discussions "regarding strengthening the protection of trade secrets and confidential business information," Raimondo said.

(Reporting by David Shepardson Editing by Jason Neely and Mark Potter)