Global and regional forces shaping the $2 trillion electronics industry have intensified more in the past few years than at any other time I can recall. The uncertainty bred by trade wars, corporate tax changes, new environmental regulations, immigration issues and STEM talent shortages is vexing the global microelectronics supply chain as companies shift investments and operational strategies to adjust to the unrelenting change and new realities with heightened urgency.
In our industry, an increasingly dynamic world requires a more determined and strategic approach to advocacy. To meet the industry’s rapidly evolving needs, SEMI is transforming its global advocacy initiatives and programs. In the past 18 months, we have honed the focus of SEMI Global Advocacy to better serve member interests and needs, respond more quickly to fast-moving geopolitical developments, and deliver more value to help spur growth across the end-to-end electronics supply chain.
Most importantly, SEMI Global Advocacy is now much more forward-looking and proactive. We have expanded our focus from primarily U.S. and independent regional issues to global affairs, allowing us to better leverage the power of our worldwide platforms. Organizationally, SEMI continues to add specialized staff advocates and calibrate its operational and member-driven engagement models to increase their involvement. There will be more to come, and with your continued support, we’ll be in a stronger position to meet your needs. Thank you!
Strengthening the industry’s voice
The rapid shift to a more proactive advocacy approach across all our initiatives was triggered by one disruptive action a little more than a year ago – the buildup and onset of the trade war between the United States and China. From the outset, SEMI formed strong member coalitions to intensify our lobbying efforts, met frequently with policymakers, submitted written comments to government panels, and issued public communications, all aimed at amplifying our collective voice. SEMI has taken a principled approach to advocacy, publicly stating its positions based on its trade pillars of free and fair trade/open markets, supply chain growth, respect for IP and national security.
That approach was on full display as Japan tightened controls on exports to the Republic of Korea, sending shockwaves through the microelectronics industry. To minimize the industry impact, we leveraged our global reach and the counsel of our International Board of Directors to engage with both governments early on and ensure that Japan took into account our members’ interests in developing and implementing the new rules. In general, SEMI opposes the use of tariffs and limiting market access as levers to correct trade imbalances and other structural issues. Instead, we support dialogue and negotiations that lead to multilateral agreements aligned with our members’ interests and global trade principles.
This year in the U.S. alone, SEMI advocates have met with more than 70 policymakers in Washington, D.C., including members of Congress and representatives from the White House, federal agencies and the Trade Representative’s office. We have also spoken with representatives from European and Asian government delegations. Since the trade war erupted, we have met with more than 220 policymakers worldwide, giving SEMI a seat at the table – a louder voice for our members – as we are increasingly seen as the voice of the end-to-end electronics manufacturing and design supply chain. SEMI Global Advocacy has also broadened its focus beyond public policy to address other areas of strategic importance to the industry such as the talent shortage.
Expanding Advocacy’s global influence
SEMI’s public policy efforts now reach well beyond Washington, D.C. to all seven major manufacturing centers worldwide where we have regional offices, with SEMI advocacy staff in every location. This has created a network multiplier effect that allows us to rally our collective strength around common member interests. It’s no coincidence that our member-driven advocacy initiatives and programs have improved in parallel with expanded global participation by our member companies on our various policy and advocacy committees.
Our Trade Advisory Committee, for example, has grown from 16 to 60 active members in the past year alone. This year, we have also formed working groups with SEMI members around the world to address talent pipeline challenges. The upshot is that we are now much more focused in attacking regional issues. Thank you once again.
Despite changes in the strategic approach of SEMI Global Advocacy, we remain squarely focused on critical issues affecting industry growth and our members’ interests. In a nutshell, we call these the four T's:
- Tax – We strive to encourage rates that are fair to all companies, leveling the playing field globally
- Technology – We seek government investment in technology and innovation (R&D)
- Trade – We advocate for open markets, free and fair trade as we promote our 10 Principles for the Global Semiconductor Supply Chain in Modern Trade Agreements worldwide
- Talent – We support education investments and immigration policies that provide opportunities and build the talent pipeline
In addition, SEMI has long been a leading voice in promoting Environment, Health and Safety regulations that enable industry growth and demonstrate environmental stewardship – and we continue to make investments at this critical juncture as new technologies are driving changes in the regulatory landscape.
Maintaining laser focus on member priorities amid shifting geopolitics
The only way for SEMI Global Advocacy to navigate the cauldron of geopolitical disruption is to remain laser-focused on our members’ top priorities including trade, tax, technology and talent. And we will stick to what SEMI has done best for almost 50 years – facilitate public-private collaborations and more investment on behalf of our members.
In workforce development, SEMI is taking bold steps to develop a robust talent pipeline, as much a growth and innovation driver for SEMI members and the industry as any technology. Announced earlier this year, SEMI Works™, our landmark talent development initiative, is already gaining steam with U.S. government investment and our rapid progress in laying its foundation with a database of standardized competencies for technical jobs as well as a certification and credentialing process for curriculum, education and training programs.
The future for SEMI members and the industry is brimming with possibility. The strides SEMI Global Advocacy has made over the past year have only been possible through your support and involvement. As we broaden our scope beyond policy, we recognize that more progress needs to be made. We look forward to your continued participation as, together, we help our industry fulfill its great potential.
Mike Russo is Vice President of Global Industry Advocacy at SEMI.