The new year has already spawned several positive government policy actions for the electronics industry, leaving us intrigued about the year to come. We're seeing an increase in policy debates that affect our industry, making IPC’s government relations (GR) work more critical than ever.
In the United States, IPC’s interactions with the Biden administration are underway, and we have made our industry’s voice heard on multiple occasions.
Just last week, IPC sent a letter to Biden outlining a comprehensive policy agenda to ensure the long-term growth and resilience of electronics manufacturing. In its breadth and detail, the letter is a new landmark in IPC advocacy, reflecting the many ways our industry is influenced by government action.
The letter outlines policy recommendations in five key areas, including:
- Strengthen the defense electronics industrial base
- Develop and implement a strategy to promote the factories of the future
- Expand and upskill the workforce
- Rebuild trade relationships
- Protect human health and the environment through practical policies and regulations
Also during the early weeks of the Biden administration, IPC welcomed a pair of Biden Executive Orders: one directing agencies to strengthen federal “Buy American” requirements; and the other ordering a review of industrial supply chains critical to U.S. economic growth and security, including electronics.
Most recently, Biden signed the American Rescue Plan, which provides more short-run economic support in the form of unemployment aid, direct payments to individuals, and business loans, as well as additional funding for vaccines and testing.
It is intriguing to us that IPC works with industry to “Build Electronics Better,” while the Biden administration’s goal is to “Build Back Better.” Our shared language suggests we have a shared vision of creating skilled, well-paying jobs in a resilient, cleaner economy that renews and strengthens U.S. electronics manufacturing.
IPC welcomes the opportunity to work with the Biden administration and all policymakers, just as we have done with every prior administration and Congress. We will continue to promote policies in the U.S.—as we do worldwide—that strengthen the competitiveness and resiliency of electronics manufacturers, while upholding our responsibility to protect human health and the environment.
IPC Calls for Increased Domestic Semiconductor Manufacturing
On another front, IPC recently joined a multi-association coalition calling on the Biden administration to incentivize domestic production of semiconductors. The letter expresses support for the Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors (CHIPS) for America Act, which was enacted into law as part of FY21 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) and calls for funding semiconductor research and manufacturing initiatives. See the full letter for more details.
Help Shape Factory of the Future Migration
IPC is also inviting IPC members to participate in a new U.S. working group that will help prepare a policy roadmap for the Factory of the Future. The group will develop a white paper identifying policy measures that the U.S. Government can implement to support the electronics industry’s migration to factories of the future, to be used by IPC to promote legislative and regulatory proposals. Let us know if you would like to join and participate.
U.S. Government Bolsters Security and Resiliency of Defense Electronics Supply Chain
We're also excited to announce that the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) recently awarded $3.9 million to IPC-subsidiary U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE) to establish and manage a new Defense Electronics Consortium (DEC). The DEC is a vehicle through which industry and academia will work with DoD to solve the government’s electronics-related challenges. The DEC’s first project will be an effort to accelerate the adoption of lead-free electronics in defense systems, a move IPC has long advocated.
We expect to see a growing focus on the security and resiliency of electronics supply chains, a neglected but critically important segment of the defense industrial base in every region of the world.
Electronics Manufacturing Poised for Jobs to Rise Over Pre-Pandemic Levels
All signs indicate 2021 should be a year of recovery, even though the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact us all. The U.S. economy should add back over 6 million jobs, while recent jobs reports suggest the electronics industry is poised to increase its number of jobs over pre-pandemic levels, outpacing the rest of the economy and driving overall growth.
The global economy continues to improve due to the downward trajectory of new COVID-19 cases and the increased availability of vaccines. We’ve also seen manufacturing sentiment reach multi-year highs in both the U.S. and Europe. The massive COVID-recovery packages recently enacted in the U.S. and Europe should help further this growth. Looking further into the future, IPC urges policymakers to complement the short-term stimulus with long-term, strategic investments to ensure a lasting, broad-based recovery.
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.
If Your Company Makes or Imports Chemicals, You Could Face New Fees
2021 has also gotten off to a busy start for environment, health, and safety regulations.
First, the comment period for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) "Fees Rule" is open through March 27. If your company uses certain chemicals, the Fees Rule may have financial impacts on your company. The original rule, published in 2018, provides the EPA with a source of funds to fulfill its obligations under TSCA, including the completion of risk evaluations of high-priority chemical substances.
IPC has been advocating for commonsense reforms to the 2018 rule, and we are pleased that the new proposed rule appears to make important and positive changes. Check out an updated IPC blog for all you need to know about the Fees Rule.
New Rules on PBTs Formally Take Effect
Elsewhere at the EPA, the agency’s final risk management rules to reduce exposure to persistent, bioaccumulative, and toxic chemicals (PBTs) went into effect on February 5. Some of the PBTs listed like Decabromodiphenyl-ether (decaBDE) and Phenol, isopropylated phosphate (3:1) have a history of use in the electronics industry. In particular, the PIP (3:1) rule prohibits the processing and distribution of this substance or products containing this substance. On March 8, the EPA opened a 60-day comment period on the final rules for PIP (3:1) and four other PBTs.
IPC will continue to monitor and engage on this policy activity. If these new rules affect your supply chain, or the electronics products that you manufacture, be sure to read the recent IPC blog for more information.
EC Opens Applications for Expert Group on Chemicals Strategy
On the other side of the Atlantic, the European Commission is calling for applications to join an expert group advising on the implementation of the chemicals strategy for sustainability. The group will specifically work to identify and address social, economic, and cultural barriers to the transition toward safe and sustainable chemicals. The deadline to submit applications is March 17.
Also, IPC is watching and engaging in the commission’s review of its Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive in electrical and electronic equipment, and we need your help. IPC welcomes electronics experts who are familiar with RoHS issues to lend their expertise to the exemption renewal process. Please contact Kelly Scanlon if you would like to join one of several working groups addressing Annex III exemptions. Read more about IPC’s review of the European Union’s RoHS Directive on our website.
EP Paves Way for Due Diligence Requirements
Supply chain concerns have been a hot topic thus far in 2021, especially in Europe.
On March 10, the European Parliament adopted a non-binding resolution introducing mandatory due diligence requirements to combat environmental and human rights violations in European supply chains. The commission’s own due diligence proposal is expected in June.
IPC is engaging with policymakers to ensure that any upcoming due diligence legislation is feasible for the electronics industry. We have called for measures that are both effective and workable for electronics manufacturers by providing legal certainty, “reasonable” tier liability, and a light administrative burden.
Does your company have a robust due diligence system in place? Check out a recent IPC blog for more details on the due diligence push across Europe.
Get Involved with IPC Advocacy
I hope after reading this month’s article, you recognize the outsized role that our industry can play in driving the future of manufacturing, and we hope you will choose to get involved yourself. Whether it’s engaging with policymakers in Washington, D.C., in the EU, or in China, the IPC GR Team proactively seeks opportunities to educate, inform and influence policymakers on policies that spur innovation, growth and competition, while protecting human health and the environment. IPC members and friends are our best advocates and sources of information.
Figure 1: IPC’s GR Team.
Just visit www.IPC.org/advocacy and find an issue you’re passionate about to get started. Follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn, and subscribe to our weekly Global Advocacy Report. With your help, we’re looking forward to making 2021 a year that advances the prospects of the electronics industry.
Chris Mitchell is IPC’s VP of global government affairs. Contact him at ChrisMitchell@ipc.org.