U.S. chip industry lobbying to stay open despite virus concerns

March 31, 2020 //By James Morra
chip industry
The sector employs about 250,000 people in the U.S., according to the Semiconductor Industry Association, one of the top trade groups for the industry. Roughly half of all production plants operated by American chip manufacturers are located in the U.S.

The U.S. semiconductor industry is lobbying federal and state governments to have chip production plants labeled as essential businesses that are allowed to operate despite lockdowns to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), a top trade group representing the sector, is trying to lift its chances for exemptions to orders in states around the U.S. to close nonessential businesses.

The group, which represents U.S. chip manufacturers from Intel and Texas Instruments to Micron Technology and Globalfoundries, has argued that their output is essential for the livelihood of the U.S. economy. It is urging the Department of Homeland Security to roll out recommendations to keep fabs open during the worsening outbreak. The efforts are colliding with orders around the U.S. to limit the movement of people and infections.

John Neuffer, SIA president and chief executive, argued in a blog post that chips are critical to infrastructure, ranging from telecommunications networks to power grids. They also underpin broad swathes of the American economy, including healthcare and manufacturing. Chips are also critical parts used in personal computers and cloud data centers, which are both key to businesses increasingly telling people to work remotely.

Devi Keller, who leads the trade group's global policy efforts, said in a statement that due to "the highly integrated and global nature of the semiconductor supply chain, shortages created by operating restrictions in one region cannot be readily made up by production in other regions." She said the shortages could lead to delays in the supply chain, hitting electronics production. U.S.-based companies control 45% global market share in chips.


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