By Victor Reklaitis
President Joe Biden on Monday reiterated his support for stepping up federal funding for the semiconductor industry, as he participated in a virtual meeting on the ongoing chip shortage that featured executives from 19 companies.
“China and the rest of the world is not waiting. There’s no reason why Americans should wait,” Biden said.
While holding up a silicon wafer, he said: “This is infrastructure.”
The Biden administration’s actions in response to the shortage have included calling for $50 billion for the chip industry in the president’s $2.3 trillion infrastructure plan, along with producing a February executive order that aims for reviews of supply chains for semiconductors and other critical goods.
“We’ve been falling behind on research and development and manufacturing, and, to put it bluntly, we have to step up our game,” Biden also said at Monday’s meeting, dubbed a CEO Summit on Semiconductor and Supply Chain Resilience.
The executives had been expected to include Google parent Alphabet’s /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG +2.40% /zigman2/quotes/202490156/composite GOOGL +2.21% CEO, Sundar Pichai, along with Dell /zigman2/quotes/203822527/composite DELL +2.11% CEO Michael Dell, General Motors /zigman2/quotes/205226835/composite GM +2.56% CEO Mary Barra and Intel /zigman2/quotes/203649727/composite INTC +2.48% CEO Pat Gelsinger.
The other companies sending a CEO or other high-level exec were AT&T /zigman2/quotes/203165245/composite T +0.09% , Cummins /zigman2/quotes/208385233/composite CMI +1.04% , Ford /zigman2/quotes/208911460/composite F +2.51% , Global Foundries, HP /zigman2/quotes/203461582/composite HPQ +1.64% , Medtronic /zigman2/quotes/206816578/composite MDT +0.87% , Micron /zigman2/quotes/205710729/composite MU +3.25% , Northrop Grumman /zigman2/quotes/205518355/composite NOC +0.42% , NXP /zigman2/quotes/202999625/composite NXPI +3.13% , Paccar /zigman2/quotes/207923670/composite PCAR +0.46% , Piston Group, Samsung /zigman2/quotes/209800866/delayed KR:005930 +2.04% , SkyWater Technology /zigman2/quotes/206781415/composite SKYT +1.55% , Stellantis /zigman2/quotes/204248628/composite STLA +2.02% and Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. /zigman2/quotes/204359850/composite TSM +3.41% .
National-security adviser Jake Sullivan and National Economic Council Director Brian Deese were hosting the summit, with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also participating.
Ahead of the meeting, the Semiconductor Industry Association said it’s “an important opportunity for a discussion on the need to fund investments in domestic semiconductor manufacturing and research to help ensure the long-term strength and resilience of America’s semiconductor supply chain.”
Also before the summit, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Biden was “stopping by this meeting” in part to “hear directly from companies about the impacts — what would help them most through this period of time.”
“This isn’t a meeting [that] we expect a decision or an announcement to come out of, but a part of our ongoing engagement and discussion about how to best address this issue over the long term, but also over the short term,” Psaki told reporters.
Chips /zigman2/quotes/200571902/composite SMH +3.17% /zigman2/quotes/209255350/composite SOXX +3.10% have been hard to come by for months, causing difficulties for automobile makers and other industries. The cause looks like a combination of increased demand as people scoop up electronics during the COVID-19 pandemic, limited manufacturing capacity to meet that demand, and the U.S.-China trade war.
U.S. stocks /zigman2/quotes/210599714/realtime SPX +1.49% /zigman2/quotes/210598065/realtime DJIA +1.06% traded modestly lower Monday, as investors braced for first-quarter earnings and assessed Federal Reserve chief Jerome Powell’s comments that it “ will be a while ” before the central bank taps the brakes on the economy.