I’ve been saying for months that decisions made in 2022 will be critical to the future of electronics manufacturing for years to come. After years of government policy neglect, we have unprecedented opportunities to make things better and position the industry for long-term success. But we certainly cannot take this progress for granted; we must pull together and work for it.
Electronics are at the heart of the economy, and we believe government should provide a favorable policy framework to reflect the industry’s strategic importance. This is something IPC has been trumpeting for many years; this year, U.S. policymakers seem to be taking notice. Progress continues to be made on legislation to improve domestic manufacturing and competitiveness, including semiconductors and advanced packaging, while new legislation is also in the works to bolster the printed circuit board (PCB) sector. Passage and enactment of these bills would signal—for the first time in a long time—that Washington is getting serious about talking a holistic approach to rebuilding the entire domestic electronics manufacturing ecosystem.
Here are several of the top stories of recent weeks from an IPC government relations perspective, including issues that we are continuing to work on. Opportunities for you to get involved and make your company’s voice heard are throughout this article.
Calls Grow for Passage of Competitiveness Legislation
The U.S. House approved a motion recently to begin negotiating with the U.S. Senate on the final version of a bill that will provide much-needed funding for semiconductor manufacturing and other advanced technologies. Both the House- and Senate-passed bills include $52 billion in CHIPS Act funding; at least $2.5 billion in FY 2023 for advanced packaging research and development (R&D); and additional measures to boost domestic R&D.
The Biden administration is pushing hard to enact the legislation, but it remains to be seen if its bipartisan support is strong enough to get it across the finish line this year.
IPC has met with and shared our views with key officials in the U.S. Congress and the Biden administration, and we will continue to work with them to strengthen America’s electronics supply chain, including semiconductors, advanced packaging, PCBs, and related sectors.
If you agree, please visit the IPC Online Advocacy Center now to tell your Members of Congress that a robust U.S. electronics industry is in the national interest. It only takes a minute and has a real impact.
U.S. Government Reports Highlight Importance of ICT Supply Chain
In late February, the U.S. Government released a set of reports on strategic supply chains, which highlighted the need for the United States to foster a robust domestic electronics manufacturing industry. These reports were the strongest statement yet from the Biden administration on the need to rebuild the entire electronics manufacturing ecosystem.
Crucially, the U.S. Department of Commerce report quoted extensively from IPC’s input to them. It’s a positive sign that attention paid toward electronics is expanding beyond its focus on semiconductors. With these reports, the administration has now officially recognized the need to rebuild the entire electronics manufacturing ecosystem, including PCBs, PCB assemblies (PCBAs), critical minerals, advanced packaging, and related technologies.
In related PCB news, IPC has also been involved in shaping some upcoming, bipartisan legislation that would encourage investment in the U.S. PCB sector, and we hope to have more information to share in next month’s column.
The Entire Electronics Ecosystem Needs Support
“We have never had IC substrate production in North America. This isn’t a bring-it-back story. It’s we-need-to-get-it story."
Matt Kelly, IPC chief technologist, recently talked to EE Times about the urgent need for North America to develop domestic capabilities for integrated circuit (IC) substrates, testing, and packaging, and to ease off the heavy reliance on non-domestic sources.1
Currently, most IC substrate makers are in Asia; the United States is more than 20 years behind. While the major investments being made in more chips production in the United States is positive, the lack of domestic assembly and test companies will result in lengthened supply chains.
The United States needs to build a more resilient, robust electronics manufacturing ecosystem beyond just chips. Without such action, U.S.-made chips would still need to be sent offshore to be manufactured into finished products, leaving the U.S. vulnerable to supply chain shocks.
Geopolitical Uncertainty Affects Electronics Manufacturers Worldwide
Like the rest of the world, IPC is closely monitoring the Russia/Ukraine conflict. According to our latest data, the global electronics manufacturing supply chain is already feeling the effects of the conflict.
IPC’s April Monthly Economic Update and Global Sentiment Survey found that 80% of manufacturers expect the war to have a negative impact on commodity prices and transportation costs, while 70% anticipate a negative impact on the stock of raw materials.
So far, the economic impact is being felt most severely in Europe, where the GDP forecast has been adjusted downward by nearly one percentage point. Across the board, we’re seeing rising energy and commodity prices—with many hitting new all-time highs—and a decline in confidence, which results in reduced spending by consumers and investment by businesses. Bidirectional sanctions are also slowing economic growth.
Be sure to check out the latest economic data in full in IPC’s monthly Economic Outlook Reports, which provide data and trends in U.S. and European economic growth, employment, manufacturer’s sentiment, and end markets for electronics.
Sanctions on Russia Include Electronics-Related Export Controls
Several countries, including the United States, United Kingdom, and the European Union, have imposed severe sanctions against Russia in response to its invasion of Ukraine. Chief among them are export controls that will curtail Russia’s access to foreign technological exports, including semiconductors, and equipment and components used in electronics. The wide-ranging sanctions seek to constrain the development of Russia’s military-industrial complex and limit its access to cutting-edge technology.
Gary Stanley, president at Global Legal Services, recently led an IPC webinar providing information on the newly imposed export controls and how they might affect the electronics industry. View the webinar on-demand on our website, and read more about export controls in the IPC blog.
A Busy Month for European Regulators
Moving away from supply chain concerns and looking toward environment and health issues, regulators across the globe have had an active start to 2022.
In Europe, lead (Pb) metal was one of eight substances included in a draft list of substances being considered for inclusion on the Authorization List (Annex XIV) of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation. IPC is preparing to respond to the public consultation by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which closes on May 2, to provide industry insights on the potential socio-economic effects should Pb be added.
Elsewhere, on March 14, IPC submitted comments to the European Commission’s call for evidence for an impact assessment on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive and how it affects electronics. IPC also supported the response from the RoHS Industry Umbrella Project.
In other RoHS-related news, the commission also opened a public consultation through June 2 on a general review of the directive. IPC plans to coordinate a response to this questionnaire, and we will remain engaged on this issue as it develops further.
U.S. EPA Reopens Comments on 20 Toxic Substances
And for our U.S. members, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has reopened the dockets for the 20 high-priority substances to undergo risk evaluation under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). Several of them—flame retardants, phthalates, solvents, and formaldehyde—are relevant to electronics manufacturing.
This move provides an additional opportunity for the public to submit information that would help inform the risk evaluation processes for these chemicals. The dockets are open until June 9. You can read more about IPC’s TSCA work on our website.
IPC’s environmental and health team will continue to monitor and engage on these topics. Please reach out to IPC’s Director of EHS Policy and Research, Kelly Scanlon, if you are interested in helping us inform these future policy decisions.
Get Involved with IPC Advocacy
As always, our advocacy work is bolstered by your voice and your participation.
Encouraging the U.S. government to take a holistic approach to rebuilding its domestic electronics manufacturing ecosystem is the central theme of IPC’s ongoing IMPACT Washington Advocacy Campaign. Remember to visit the IPC Online Advocacy Center to make your voice heard.
Also be sure to follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and subscribe to our weekly Global Advocacy Report. The IPC GR Team is here to help you, so please reach out if we can help advance an issue that you care about.
- "Reshoring Chip Industry Risks Failure With Just More Fabs", EE Times, March 7, 2022.
Chris Mitchell is IPC’s VP of global government affairs. Contact him at ChrisMitchell@ipc.org.