national-security 10 June 2021

White House publishes supply chain review findings

The United States should ‘monitor near term supply chain disruptions as the economy reopens from the COVID-19 pandemic’ is amongst the recommendations following the White House’s 100-day review of supply chains, submitted by an interagency taskforce, published as ‘Building resilient supply chains, revitalising American Manufacturing, and Fostering Broad Based Growth.’

The reports ‘assess supply chain vulnerabilities: semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging; large capacity batteries, like those for electric vehicles; critical minerals and materials; and pharmaceuticals and advanced pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs).’

Amongst its findings are that, ‘as the United States and the broader global economy emerge from the pandemic, we have already seen signs of new pressures on supply chains as shifts in demand and supply emerge, and as the global vaccination campaign continues’, the Administration should consider:

  • Establishing ‘a new Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force that will provide an all-of-government response to address near-term supply chain challenges to the economic recovery’ to focus ‘on areas where a mismatch between supply and demand has been noted over the past several months: homebuilding and construction, semiconductors, transportation, and agriculture and food.
  • Creating ‘a data hub to monitor near term supply chain vulnerabilities.’

The 250-page report identifies numerous challenges to the US domestic semiconductor industry, including a ‘graying’ workforce, and the increasing competitiveness of foreign manufacturers – and, not least, ‘China’s aspirations to lead [the industry],’ noting

‘China’s share of the global semiconductor industry is relatively small and its companies produce mostly low-end chips. China’s most advanced pureplay foundry, Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation (SMIC), can only produce at the 14 nm node, with limited capacity. However, the country is in the middle of major state-led effort to develop an indigenous, vertically integrated industry that leads in all segments by 2030.’

Inter alia, it recommends ‘protecting U.S. technological advantage in semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packagingby ensuring that export controls support policy actions to address national security and foreign policy concerns related to the semiconductor manufacturing and advanced packaging supply.’