Worldwide sales of semiconductor manufacturing equipment fell 15.1% to US$36.93bil (RM114.81bil) in 2012 from US$43.53bil in 2011 but amid a decline, Taiwan emerged as the biggest spender.
"Taiwan surpassed North America as the region with the highest amount of spending with US$9.53bil in equipment sales," according to the US-based Semiconductor Equipment Industry (SEMI) trade body.
In a statement posted on its website on Wednesday, SEMI said spending rates fell for all the regions tracked in the Worldwide Semiconductor Equipment Market Statistics (SEMS) Report, except for South Korea and Taiwan.
Taiwan took the top spot with spending of US$9.53bil in equipment sales while the South Korea market was second -- the third year in a row -- with US$8.67bil in sales. North America fell to the third position with a regional decrease of 12%.
"The global wafer processing equipment market segment decreased 18%; the assembly and packaging segment decreased 8%; and the total test equipment sales decreased 6%. Other front-end equipment sales grew by 4%," it said.
The World SEMS Report was collated from data provided by SEMI members and the Semiconductor Equipment Association of Japan (SEAJ).
SEMI said the report includes data for seven major semiconductor producing regions and 24 product categories. Categories cover wafer processing, assembly and packaging, test, and other front-end equipment.
Other front-end includes mask/reticle manufacturing, wafer manufacturing, and fab facilities equipment.