The Government Circuit: How Can Government Help or Hurt You in 2022?

Happy Autumn! The seasons may be changing, but IPC’s commitment to advocating for the electronics manufacturing industry remains the same. 

It’s been a busy few weeks here in Washington, where a host of competing deadlines are coming to a head in the U.S. Congress. We are monitoring the congressional activity closely, especially negotiations on a bipartisan infrastructure deal, the Biden administration’s “Build Back Better” package, and the annual defense bill, which have all yet to be reconciled. 

We will continue to provide updates on the legislative provisions that are relevant to our industry. Stay tuned to IPC’s social media pages and/or opt-in to receive our weekly Global Advocacy Report. 

Here are some highlights of the top issues IPC is focused on this month as well as new opportunities for you to make your voice heard. 

COVID-19 Continues to Drag Down the U.S. and European Outlook
Global demand remains strong, but the economic environment is softening. IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac recently released IPC’s September Economic Outlook Report, and while there are reasons to remain optimistic, we expect growth will be more difficult to achieve moving forward. 

According to the latest data, our downward revision was largely due to the result of weakening conditions in the United States, which has seen hiring slow over the last month and a steep drop in consumer sentiment. COVID-19 remains the largest risk factor, with surging cases limiting the potential for growth; while supply chain disruptions are also having an impact.

Unfortunately, electronics manufacturers have been unable to entirely avoid the production delays and high costs associated with supply shortages but have shown to be resilient. 

Meanwhile, last month, IPC released its first-ever Global Sentiment Survey, outlining the current state of the global electronics industry from the perspective of industry leaders. This first report documented the labor woes and supply chain challenges that are affecting electronics manufacturers. Survey respondents reported rising orders and improving capacity utilization, but no immediate end to shortage woes, with 58% of respondents expecting the problem to linger until at least late 2022. The report also addressed ongoing concerns in the labor market, with 80% of manufacturers having difficulty finding qualified workers. Check out further coverage in Reuters, PCMag, and read the full report at ipc.org. 

Please let us know if you find this report useful, and if you have any suggestions for our future monthly surveys, we’re open to your ideas.  

USG Receptive to Defense Electronics Supply Chain Concerns?
Here in Washington, we still await progress on a FY 2022 defense appropriations bill that could have major ramifications on the future of lead-free electronics in mission-critical applications. A version of the bill that advanced out of the House Appropriations Committee in August included $7.5 million sought by IPC to reduce U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) reliance on lead-based electronics. 

The gap between commercial and defense electronics has continued to grow wider as lead-free becomes more established in commercial technologies, and as governments—particularly in Europe—have implemented more stringent rules on the use of lead. Now, there’s an opportunity in the U.S. Congress to help close that gap. IPC will continue to advocate for integral lead-free R&D funding in both versions of the defense spending bill. 

Elsewhere in defense circles, the U.S. Partnership for Assured Electronics (USPAE) recently convened a two-day meeting to facilitate increased dialogue and working relationships between the DoD and leaders across the electronics industry. The attendees confirmed that the U.S. government, the electronics industry, and academia must continue their collaborative efforts to address risks and gaps in the defense electronics supply chain. A series of forums and meetings are being planned to further advance this work. Contact USPAE if you'd like to participate or have any questions. 

U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council Hold Inaugural Meeting
In Brussels, policymakers are calling for renewed partnership with the United States following the inaugural meeting of the new U.S.-EU Trade and Technology Council (TTC), although some are pushing for more “strategic autonomy” from the rest of the world, particularly in defense. 

The meeting tackled issues including global trade, supply chain concerns, export controls, and emerging technologies. Notably, both sides pledged to address the global shortage of semiconductors, maintain and enforce investment screening, identify shared areas for export control cooperation, and address non-market, trade-distortive policies. 

Following the meeting, the European Parliament adopted a non-legislative report on the future of EU-U.S. relations calling for a new transatlantic agenda that promotes multilateral cooperation in trade, environmental issues, the digital transition, and more. 

IPC welcomes efforts to rekindle the U.S-EU partnership and will continue to engage with policymakers to ensure the electronics value chain is recognized as central to economies on both sides of the Atlantic 

EPA Eyes Additional Chemical Regulations
IPC’s environment and health team has been busy tracking all the regulatory activity happening at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and here’s what you need to know. 

The EPA recently opened the comment period on a petition process applicable to the Chemical Data Reporting (CDR) regulations. The petition process allows affected stakeholders to submit requests for full exemptions of byproduct substances that are recycled and partial exemptions of chemicals that are determined to be of “low current interest” by the EPA. 

The CDR rule requires manufacturers and importers of certain chemical substances listed under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Chemical Substance Inventory to report data to the EPA every four years. The public comment period is open until December 21. 

And most recently, on September 27, IPC submitted comments on a proposed rule from the EPA that would require all manufacturers and importers of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) to report information regarding the “uses, production volumes, disposal, exposures, and hazards” of the chemical substance. 

PFAS has a history of use in electronics, and IPC cautioned that the reporting requirements would disproportionately burden electronics manufacturers and recommended that electronics article manufacturers and importers be excluded from the proposed rule. Check out a new IPC blog for our full comments. 

Please let us know if you have any questions about these EPA actions and how they might affect your business. We’re always looking for industry input on these subjects. 

How Can Government Help or Hurt You in 2022?
We want to hear your concerns and stories. 

Our industry is stronger when we’re all active and engaged, and as we look toward 2022, we want to know what electronics manufacturers are worried about. 

What are the key challenges you are facing right now? What about over the horizon? How can the IPC Government Relations team best advocate for you? 

Please click here to answer a five-question survey, including one open-ended question where you can send as little as a few phrases or as much as a 100-word story that we can share with others to illustrate the challenges facing our industry. Your feedback will be handled in confidence and not used without your permission. Your insights will also guide IPC’s industry advocacy in the new year. 

And if you need more guidance on how to get involved, or want to see the latest opportunities, head over to the IPC Advocacy Team web page. We are here to help advocate for you, please let us know how we can help. 

Until next month, take care everyone! 

Chris Mitchell is IPC’s VP of global government affairs. Contact him at ChrisMitchell@ipc.org. 

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2021

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2020

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2019

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