Semi-conducteurs: Joe Biden va signer une loi pour doper la production aux États-Unis

Joe Biden.

Two years of tough negotiations, the search for compromises and heated exchanges have finally paid off. After getting the green light from the Senate and the House of Representatives last week, the Token Law and Science now only the signature of US President Joe Biden remains to enter into force.

If it was a long road to allow this law to see the light of day, the result is anything but insignificant and marks the much-hyped return of a proactive industrial policy in the United States. 280,000 million will be invested, of which 52,700 million will go to support the production of semiconductors on US soil and the research of this technology with the help of grants. Another 24 billion will be spent on tax incentives for the same purpose. The rest of the 280,000 million must be invested in research around critical technologies, the development of clean energy, nuclear physics and allow NASA to prepare future missions to the Moon and Mars.

Semiconductor factories are already sprouting like mushrooms

The law’s effects have already been felt even before it went into effect, as several semiconductor manufacturers, including Intel, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. (TSMC), and GlobalFoundries, began building foundries in the United States. the law is passed.

Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger, in office since January 2021, has made this goal one of his top priorities. After announcing their intention to invest 20 million dollars in other production plants in Arizona once upon a time, the company recently doubled with a similar investment devoted to the creation of other production plants in Ohio, in the heart of the rust belt.

Microprocessors: how the United States wants to get out of the Chinese rut

The pandemic has shown that the current industry is too geographically concentrated (80% of the chips used in the world are produced in Asia), with the risks that this entails. We want a more resilient global industry, and we believe that the best way to achieve this is by building strong local industries, so that productive capacities are better distributed. “, he recently confided to La Tribune.

It is also in Arizona where the Taiwanese giant TSMC has set its sights on building its first semiconductor production plant on American soil, in which it has invested 12 billion dollars. GlobalFoundries, another American giant in the sector, for its part will allocate between 6,000 and 8,000 million to set up a new factory in Saratoga County, in the state of New York.

A bipartisan effort to counter the Chinese dragon

In both the Senate and House of Representatives, the law received support from several elected Republicans, including Senate Republican Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. A rather rare bipartisan agreement in a highly divided American political landscape. If they disagree with each other on internal affairs of the country, the two sides, however, agree much more easily when it comes to foreign policy.

However, the desire to relocate semiconductor production to domestic soil is motivated primarily by the rise of China and the risk of a Middle Kingdom invasion of Taiwan. ” It is no exaggeration to say that semiconductors are the alpha and omega of our technological competition with China. “, This is how the number 2 of the Pentagon, Kathleen Hicks, affirmed at the end of July.

The United States holds a dominant position in high-end semiconductor design, thanks to giants like Intel, Qualcomm and Nvidia. On the other hand, in terms of the physical production of chips, the country has seen its position weaken in favor of Southeast Asia: only 12% of the world’s microprocessors are manufactured in the United States, compared to 37% in 1990. A decrease that the Chips & Science Act aims to stop.

Its defenders have thus pointed to the important subsidy policies adopted by the countries of Southeast Asia, in particular Taiwan and South Korea, which have allowed them to generate national champions, such as the Taiwanese TSMC, which alone melts 60% of the microprocessors used all over the world. During her recent visit to Taiwan, which greatly angered Chinese leaders and led the country to conduct major military exercises near the island, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi took it upon herself to meet with the leaders of this company, which the United States is trying to convince to decentralize its production in the face of growing threats from China. Beijing has never recognized Taiwan’s sovereignty, and President Xi Jinping recently promised the ” reunification with the island in one of his speeches.

The dependence of the industry on Taiwan worries everyone

It is essential to reduce the dependency of the world economy on Taiwan, which is currently under threat from China. TSMC led the way by building a foundry in Phoenix, Arizona. They also want to increase their production activities in Japan. says Russ Shaw, founder of Global Tech Advocates, an international network of new technology players.

If we add the context of scarcity, we understand that semiconductors have become a strategic issue for the United States, but also for the United Kingdom and Europe. The United States quickly mobilized the public and private sectors, with Samsung announcing the construction of a new factory in Texas, Intel investing in Ohio, and now the Chips and Science Act about to be signed. The European Union and the United Kingdom are making similar efforts.

This is all part of an important long-term strategy that I hope these countries will uphold. In a turbulent geopolitical context, we must ensure that a competitive environment exists to minimize risk. Concentrating production in a single country is not sustainable. »