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January 25, 2021

SEMI Urges U.S. Department of Commerce to Seek Comments on Recent Export Control Regulations

As the Biden administration begins to advance its policy goals through U.S. government agencies, SEMI is eager to work with these new officials and appointees to advance innovation and strengthen U.S. leadership in the microelectronics industry. SEMI President and CEO Ajit Manocha today sent a letter to Commerce Secretary-Designate Gina Raimondo advocating for strengthening American manufacturing, investing in research and development and pursuing multilateral rather than unilateral U.S. export controls. SEMI also “requests Commerce perform a comprehensive review of recent policies and formally seek industry input via publication of a Notice of Inquiry (NOI), giving industry its first formal opportunity to provide its views on these significant regulations.”

The letter discusses the importance of how export controls are implemented, advocating that “multilateral controls – where items of concern are controlled by all major producing nations – create a level playing field, maximize effectiveness, and minimize harm to U.S. national security and economic competitiveness. Unilateral U.S. controls over items for which there are comparable non-U.S.-origin items are generally ineffective in supporting national security goals and are likely to erode any technological advantages enjoyed by U.S.-origin items.”

White HouseForeign availability of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, materials and design software is an important consideration for U.S. export control policy related to those items. In an appendix to the letter, SEMI provided charts detailing the foreign availability of major types of semiconductor manufacturing equipment and materials. For nearly all items, there are competitive alternatives to U.S.-origin items available from non-U.S. sources.

With many semiconductor technologies concentrated in a handful of key exporting nations, the letter encourages a unified approach via a plurilateral export control regime instead of unilateral U.S. controls for these technologies. SEMI provided a framework of issues that need to be considered and properly addressed in negotiating a plurilateral agreement related to semiconductor industry export controls.

The previous administration created several unilateral controls that were implemented with little or no opportunity for public or industry comment and which created several unintended consequences. In addition to the request to publish an NOI, the letter asks Commerce to correct unintended controls related to the August 2020 expansion of EAR General Prohibition Three and reduce the backlog of license and classification requests.

SEMI is pleased to work with the U.S. Department of Commerce and other policymakers by providing industry data, trends and perspectives to ensure export controls effectively serve national security interests without undue harm to technological development and leadership in this dynamic, globally competitive industry.

 Kimberly Ekmark is director of Public Policy and Advocacy at SEMI.