After getting hammered in 2001 with a 32 per cent decline in sales, the chip industry will once again see growth in 2002, but growth will be slightly lower than had originally been forecast, according to the most recent estimate by industry group World Semiconductor Trade Statistics Inc. (WSTS).

WSTS expects to see worldwide semiconductor sales grow by 2.3 per cent to US$142 billion in 2002, the group said in a statement Tuesday. That is slightly lower than the group’s earlier prediction of 2.6 per cent growth, released last October.

Recovery of worldwide semiconductor sales is expected to happen slowly, with just the Asia-Pacific region, excluding Japan, showing positive growth in 2002, WSTS said. Other regions, including Japan, the Americas and Europe, will return to growth in 2003, when the industry is expected to see worldwide average growth of 21.7 per cent to $173 billion.

WSTS predicts that 2003 will see a peak in semiconductor sales growth and the group expects to see a slowdown in growth beyond 2003, to an increase of 14.5 per cent in 2004 and 3.2 per cent in 2005.