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The Government Circuit
By Chris Mitchell
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The Government Circuit: An ‘Interesting’ Year in Washington and Brussels
In Washington, D.C., Brussels, and worldwide, it has been an “interesting” year in the halls of government, and the IPC Government Relations team is gearing up for a busy winter season of advocacy on the electronics industry’s behalf.
The IPC GR Team’s overall goal is to promote government policy decisions that make it easier for our members—more than 3,000 companies across the electronics ecosystem—to innovate and grow. Our members help set our policy priorities, which include securing funding and policy incentives for investment and innovation in electronics manufacturing; ensuring practical, risk-based regulations; and expanding efforts to educate and train more high-skilled workers. Our advocacy efforts include frequent meetings, calls, and letters with government officials; official comments in regulatory proceedings; “grassroots” member action; and educational events, reports, social media posts, and news media coverage.
So far this year, we have seen a series of policy developments that IPC and its members and allies have been urging for years. Here are some highlights:
CHIPS for America with a 'Silicon-to-Systems' Approach
In February, the U.S. Government launched the “CHIPS for America” program, including IPC-proposed commitments to devote some CHIPS Act funding to other parts of electronics ecosystem, including printed circuit boards (PCBs), IC substrates, and advanced packaging.
The language in the launch was a solid signal that our message is getting through. But the proof is in the follow-through. That’s why IPC and the Printed Circuit Board Association of America (PCBAA) in July jointly sent a letter to U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo, asking her to clarify the department’s plans for bolstering related manufacturing sectors under the CHIPS for America program.
We were encouraged again at a hearing in the U.S. House on Sept. 18, when Raimondo said, “The CHIPS program is about manufacturing, but we also have to think about advanced packaging happening in the United States. We can make all the chips in America, but if we then send them to Asia to be tested and packaged, that’s a problem. So, we have to package in the United States, [and] we have to increase research and development in the United States.” IPC applauds her remarks and will continue to advocate for a “silicon-to-systems” approach to CHIPS Act implementation.
Also recently, IPC was one of the private-sector organizations that worked with the U.S. Department of Commerce to co-host the CHIPS Research and Development Standards Summit, Sept. 27-29. The summit focused on identifying priorities for relevant standards activities and enabling a diverse, standards-capable workforce. IPC Chief Technology Officer Matt Kelly and VP of Education Dave Hernandez participated on IPC’s behalf, and both took the opportunity to meet with other key policy makers in Washington while they were there. A post-summit report will inform standards planning efforts across the semiconductor innovation ecosystem and within the CHIPS R&D Office.
Domestic PCB Production
In March, U.S. President Biden issued a long-sought “Presidential Determination” that greater domestic production of PCBs is critical to national security, which is paving the way to more supportive policies and programs.
IPC followed up by organizing a letter from senior executives of 26 electronics manufacturing companies from across the United States to leaders of the appropriations committees in the House and Senate, urging them to allocate $100 million in Fiscal 2024 to implement the Presidential Determination.
On a parallel track, a bipartisan team in Congress reintroduced the Protecting Circuit Boards and Substrates Act, or PCB Act, which would incentivize purchases of domestically produced PCBs as well as support industry investments in factories, equipment, workforce training, and research and development.
While Congress and the Department of Defense have yet to adopt IPC-backed policies and funding levels to carry out the Presidential Determination, we are still exploring several avenues to advance these objectives.
Electronics in Europe
In Brussels, the European Institutions reached agreement on the European Chips Act and launched an “Important Project of Common European Interest (IPCEI),” designed to support research, innovation, and “first industrial deployment” of microelectronics and communication technologies across the value chain.
IPC is continuing its ongoing dialogue with the European Commission, which included two landmark meetings of EC officials and industry stakeholders earlier this year. Following those meetings, the Commission requested an analysis of the European PCB and EMS sectors, along with recommendations to bolster the sectors. IPC worked with more than 100 industry partners and stakeholders on that report, which we submitted this summer. We believe this dialogue will lead to fresh opportunities for our industry in 2024 and beyond.
• Green electronics: Recognizing the growing momentum of efforts in Europe, North America, and Asia to promote environmentally sustainable practices, IPC launched a Sustainability for Electronics Leadership Council and several Action Groups; and published a white paper on the key sustainability issues facing our industry. IPC Lead Sustainability Strategist Kelly Scanlon welcomes your input to help the electronics manufacturing industry navigate the environmental, social, and corporate governance aspects of sustainability in electronics.
PFAS Action Aplenty
On another environmental policy front, IPC rallied the industry to face the prospect of partial or full bans on PFAS chemicals in the European Union and the United States.
Responding to a request for comments from the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) about a proposed restriction on all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, IPC advocated for at least 13 years to comply if it is adopted. The proposal as written would ban the manufacture, sales, and use of all PFAS. In our response, IPC highlighted the complexity of the electronics manufacturing supply chain and the “cascade of utility” that potential PFAS-containing products provide to society. To identify where PFAS exists in electronics and weigh the alternatives, we cautioned that the maximum amount of time is needed.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency finalized a set of reporting and recordkeeping requirements for PFAS uses. The final rule defines the scope of PFAS, the timelines for reporting, and the industries that are obligated to report under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA). IPC worked with partner associations CTA and ITI to submit joint comments to EPA during the rulemaking process, and we will continue to work together to understand the implications of this rule for the electronics manufacturing industry.
All the progress I’ve described is the result of steady, persistent communications outreach by our team and by IPC members. Over the next few months, we will continue advocating for you, your company, and the entire industry on all these issues and more.
Our efforts will continue, but we need and welcome the active support and participation of people like you. Here’s how you can stay informed and involved:
- Subscribe to IPC Global Advocacy Report: If you are a member of IPC, manage your e-mail preferences from the link at the top of IPC.org and opt in to receive “Advocacy” updates. If you are not an IPC member — or if you are not sure — please send a note to email@example.com, and our staff will add you to the list.
- Take IPC’s five-minute public opinion survey and contact your elected officials via the IPC Action Alert Center.
- Check out the latest edition of IPC Community, which spotlights the successful connections between IPC members and industry. (Fall edition to be released next week.)
- Follow us LinkedIn and share our posts with your networks.
- Explore our IPC Government Relations information online.
- Contact one of us if you have any questions or insights to contribute.
We welcome your comments and questions and look forward to the busy advocacy season ahead.
Chris Mitchell is IPC’s VP of global government affairs. Contact him at ChrisMitchell@ipc.org.
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