Top administration officials of the current U.S. Government will hear from companies competing and struggling for a sharply limited global supply of semiconductors, on Monday, as the White House tries to figure out how to get a hold of this shortage that’s idled automakers worldwide.
The leaders of General Motors Co., Ford Motor Co., and Alphabet Inc.’s Google, are expected to participate in the meeting that will include more than a dozen chief executives. The meeting isn’t expected to result in substantive outcomes or a path forward on the shortage, it is likely to revolve around the company’s grievances, Bloomberg’s sources have said.
Previously, White House officials have stated that there is no short-term fix for the shortage, but the meeting will help give a sign that President Joe Biden’s administration is serious about the supply chain issues and softening the blow for affected companies and employees.
Jen Psaki, White House Press Secretary, called the meeting part of the administration’s “consulting process” on the shortage, and said it would inform an ongoing review of the semiconductor supply chain.
“This is something that there is a great deal of focus on at the highest level across government,” she said Thursday, according to Bloomberg.
Hosts of the meeting will be Brian Deese, National Economic Council director, and Jake Sullivan, National Security Adviser, with Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo also participating. The companies list invited to join the administration officials according to Bloomberg, is as follows, “Dell Technologies Inc., Intel Corp., Medtronic Plc, Northrop Grumman Corp., HP Inc., Cummins Inc., Micron Technology Inc., Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co., AT&T Inc., and Samsung Electronics Co., as well as GM, Ford and Alphabet Inc.”
According to President Biden’s schedule, he will “briefly join” the virtual summit.
The meeting’s agenda would be to highlight elements of the president’s proposed $2.25 trillion infrastructure plan that the administration officials believe would improve supply chain resilience, a White House official said. The agenda is also set to include discussions about the auto industry’s transition to clean energy, creation of more job opportunities and ensuring U.S. economic competitiveness, the official added.
The President of the USA has asked Congress to pass legislation to finance R&D for semiconductors, a proposal with bipartisan support. A source of debate among automakers and other industries is how exactly the money will be spent and allocated.
Carmakers are warning of a potential 1.3 million shortfall in the car and light-duty truck production in the U.S this year while pushing for a portion of the money to be reserved for vehicle-grade chips.
Yet makers of computers and mobile phones among other chip-related industries, have taken issue with the carmakers’ demands, worried their industries will suffer. The debate could take place in the White House meeting.
Though the White House has not clearly stated a public position on the issue but has privately indicated that it would not support special treatment for any specific industry.
Expressing optimism was Matt Blunt, president of the American Automotive Policy Council, which lobbies for Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis NV (formerly Fiat Chrysler Automobiles) stating that even though the White House has not endorsed any specific plans for setting aside money for carmakers, the administration officials “understand why the proposal was made.”
“We hope in the meeting, whoever is gathered there will get an understanding of how we get to where we are fulfilling 100% of orders and provide a road map of what that looks like,” he said.
According to Bloomberg, Blunt’s group has come up with a proposal that “at least 25% of any federal support for the construction of semiconductor factories must go to U.S. facilities that commit to allocating at least 25% of their capacity to automotive-grade chips.”
John Neuffer, president and chief executive officer of the Semiconductor Industry Association, said the industry understands “the difficulty the auto sector is feeling right now, and chipmakers are working hard to ramp up production to meet demand in the short term.”
For the long term, he said, the industry needs a boost in domestic production and innovation across the board “so all sectors of our economy have access to the chips they need, and that requires swiftly enacting federal investments in semiconductor manufacturing and research.”