In the face of chip shortage, “Now is the time to work together,” Biden tells CEOs

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US President Joe Biden spoke on Monday with several top bosses gathered at a virtual summit hosted by the White House on the semiconductor shortage currently plaguing the economy, urging them to support his vast infrastructure program.

“China and the rest of the world are not waiting. And there is no reason for America to wait, ”he said during a brief intervention at this meeting of 19 business leaders, including those of Alphabet / Google, Dell, General Motors, Stellantis, Intel as well as Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer.

“These chips, these wafers, batteries, broadband, these are infrastructures,” said Mr. Biden, brandishing a semiconductor wafer, a sort of flat disk with iridescent reflections.

“Now is the time (…) for government, industry and different communities to work together to ensure that we are prepared for the global competition that awaits us, and that we do not continue to lose ground, ”added the American president.

At the end of March, he presented an investment plan of more than 2 trillion dollars, which will be the subject of bitter negotiations in Congress over the coming months. Building semiconductor manufacturing capacity in the country is one of them.

The meeting on Monday was mostly an opportunity to listen to business representatives on how to improve semiconductor sourcing and manufacturing in the United States, not necessarily making decisions, the spokeswoman said. the White House, Jen Psaki.

It was headed by White House Economic Council Director Brian Deese, National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, and Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.

Communication equipment (internet box, computers, telephones), for which demand jumped with the pandemic, were the first to be affected by this global shortage.

But it is the automobile industry which is the most visible victim with a greatly slowed down production. General Motors and Ford were thus forced to temporarily close several factories or reduce the pace.

Mr. Biden already signed a decree at the end of February to scrutinize the supply chains of goods deemed “essential”, including semiconductors.