As we approach the midway point of 2021, it remains a busy time for IPC advocacy efforts.
Across all regions where IPC has an advocacy presence, the policy debate is still dominated by COVID-19 recovery efforts and climbing out of the economic crisis.
Here in Washington, we are encouraged by recent policy discussions that indicate a bipartisan commitment to U.S. manufacturing that is long overdue. European officials are also promoting a policy agenda that could be very positive for electronics. But there is still more work to be done to bolster the entire electronics ecosystem.
Here’s a snapshot of our recent work. To learn more and send us your questions and ideas, please visit www.ipc.org.
IPC Urges Biden to Do More for the Entire Electronics Supply Chain
On June 8, IPC commended the Biden administration for completing its 100-day review of strategically important supply chains and for outlining bold actions to strengthen U.S. semiconductor manufacturing and ensure the availability of minerals critical to electronics manufacturing.
The results of the 100-day review are captured in an 11-page White House fact sheet and a 250-page report. IPC believes the review has been helpful in bringing key issues into focus, including the importance of strengthening the entire electronics manufacturing ecosystem. The entire supply chain includes printed circuit board (PCB) and PCB assembly manufacturing; access to raw materials; and next-generation “advanced packaging” of substrate-based multichip modules.
IPC’s recommendations to the administration – many of which are reflected in the Biden administration’s report – were summarized in a recent letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, signed by 57 industry leaders. That letter was sent the day of a semiconductor supply chain summit convened by Raimondo, where the primary focus was on chip manufacturers and U.S. automakers. Our argument is that just as we seek to make advancements in semiconductor chips, we must also make advancements in printed circuit boards (PCBs) and the assembly process.
IPC’s Government Relations (GR) team is also actively engaging on legislation to bolster U.S. technology leadership and competitiveness. On June 9, the U.S. Senate passed the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act, which includes the Endless Frontier Act. This wide-ranging bill would boost federal investment in research and development of manufacturing technology and would also create a White House office of manufacturing and industrial innovation policy. This effort is consistent with IPC’s call for an interagency manufacturing policy lead, highlighted in our policy agenda sent to the Biden administration in January.
Although semiconductor manufacturing would be bolstered by the bill, as of this writing, it does not specify electronics as an area for more investment, and we are working to fix that. IPC supports the legislation, and we will continue to make the case to policy makers that the entire electronics ecosystem must be strengthened if the semiconductor supply chain is to be boosted.
Biden Unveils $6 Trillion Budget, Includes Manufacturing Focus
Elsewhere in Washington, on May 28, U.S. President Joe Biden released his budget for FY2022, which calls for $6 trillion of federal spending for the upcoming year. The budget includes funding increases for infrastructure, workforce training, defense, and advanced manufacturing research, including the “largest-ever increase in non-defense research and development (R&D) spending,” FedScoop reports.
We are encouraged by the budget proposal and hope it will serve as another step toward modernization of U.S. manufacturing.
EU Strategic Autonomy at Core of Updated Industrial Strategy
Over in Europe, the European Commission released its updated Industrial Strategy on May 5, and Europe’s “strategic autonomy” was a principal focus. The strategy, updated to reflect COVID-19's effect on Europe’s economy and supply chains, highlighted the European Union’s reliance on other countries for products used in sensitive ecosystems, including raw materials and semiconductors, Reuters reports. IPC welcomed the emphasis on striking a balance between a market that is open for trade and investment and one that protects European interests in strategic areas.
EU competitiveness ministers also welcomed the strategy and applauded the focus on strengthening the resilience of the EU internal market, and diversifying supply chains. Ministers also supported the commission’s plan to launch industrial alliances in sectors such as microelectronics, which is expected to be announced later this summer.
IPC is continuing to engage with EU policy makers to highlight the strategic nature of the entire electronics ecosystem in meeting future market needs. In case you missed it, be sure to check out IPC’s recent report on European electronics manufacturing and let us know if you have any questions.
IPC’s Latest Economic Trends Report
The global manufacturing sector has not yet returned to pre-pandemic levels, and “the economies with the most fiscal and monetary support and stimulus will see the strongest growth rates,” according to IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac.
Economic recoveries across the globe are continuing to follow the trajectory of COVID within their respective countries. Here in the United States, growing vaccination rates have helped the underlying economy surge forward. But vaccinations in Europe were hit by delays in production and distribution. Still, we see signs that Europe is getting back on track, and economic growth is picking up.
Check out our full report, including data on U.S. and European economic growth, employment, consumer and manufacturers’ sentiment, manufacturing capacity utilization, and end markets for electronics in IPC’s Monthly Economic Outlook Report.
Environmental Regulators Are Busy in U.S. and Europe
Meanwhile, environmental regulators have remained busy on several fronts in the United States, Europe, and Asia.
On June 1, IPC submitted comments to the European Commission on proposed revisions to the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) law. IPC urged the commission to consider revisions in context of ongoing updates to chemical policies, such as the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive, and to consider existing materials declarations standards to ensure efficient supply chain communications.
We will continue to update you as European policy makers consider changes to chemical regulations, and we will work to ensure that all regulations are practical, cost-effective, and prioritized according to levels of risk.
Electronics Industry Submits Comments on EPA’s PIP (3:1) Regulation
On May 17, IPC and other industry groups submitted comments in response to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) final risk-management rules for phenol, isopropylated, phosphate (3:1) (PIP (3:1)). PIP (3:1) has a history of use in electronics, and our industry needs a reasonable period to comply and to transition to alternatives. Our input will help ensure that the EPA will create realistic risk management strategies that are workable and feasible for you and your company.
Uncertainty Over OSHA Emergency Standard on COVID-19
On April 26, the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) sent its Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) for COVID-19 to the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for final review. But since then, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and most states have lifted their mask mandates as the risk level continues to fall. The timing for the review is unclear, but if and when the ETS is released, it could take effect immediately.
Interested in Chemical and Product Regulations in Asia?
Environmental regulators have also been active in the Asia-Pacific region in 2021; here’s what you need to know.
Our environmental, health, and safety (EHS) experts have recently updated our white papers on EHS regulation in China and Japan. Notably, China has released new guidelines for the use and control of 10 chemical substances used in electronics, while Japan has moved to ban perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and its salts. These are just two of nine white papers on the history of chemical regulations, current regulatory systems, and upcoming trends in the region.
Elsewhere, Thailand’s Department of Industrial Works (DIW) issued a notice May 3 that, if approved, would add PFOAs and its related compounds to the country’s hazardous substance list and could affect products used in semiconductor manufacturing and electronics. Under the Hazardous Substance Act, PFOAs and other hazardous substances would be subject to strict control, including potential prohibition of production, import, export, or possession. Thailand is also expected to approve new chemical legislation by the end of 2021, which will introduce a risk-based chemicals management system.
And in India, policy makers are nearing completion of new European-style regulations on chemical substances that would likely affect those in the electronics sector. A final draft of India’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) rule—similar to the European Union’s REACH regulation—will be released later this year. Under the rule, existing and new chemical substances manufactured, imported, or used within India will be required to be notified, registered, and reported under certain circumstances by manufacturers and importers, or authorized representatives (AR).
Get Involved with IPC’s EHS Advocacy Activities in 2021
With all the continuing policy debates on environment, health, and safety (EHS) issues occurring across the globe, your voice is more important than ever. For example, IPC’s environmental policy priorities for 2021 were determined with input from our recently formed Environment & Health Strategic Management Team (ENV SMT) and IPC’s North American and European Government Relations (GR) Committees. We appreciate the time taken by volunteers to get engaged with IPC’s GR activities. Check out a recent article in SMT007 Magazine by Kelly Scanlon, IPC director of EHS policy and research, for more ways to get involved in IPC’s EHS advocacy.
Help Shape the Global COVID-19 Recovery
I will close with a reminder that now is a good time, if you have not already, to get involved with IPC advocacy. Electronics manufacturing contributes powerfully to the global economy, and we are working to play a role in the recovery and long-terms plans for manufacturing policy. By sharing your voice and expertise, you can help ensure that the electronics manufacturing industry’s voice is accounted for in the legislative process.
For more information on how to get involved, please visit our Advocacy Center, and let us know if you have questions or suggestions.
- Biden administration proposes record $171.3B for R&D across civilian agencies, FedScoop, May 28, 2021.
- EU unveils plan to cut dependency on China, others, Reuters, May 5, 2021.
Chris Mitchell is IPC’s VP of global government affairs. Contact him at ChrisMitchell@ipc.org.