More hollering about the value of the Yuan. This is simply Washington window dressing on the more profound problem to which none of the “best and brightest” supposed to be leading this country seems to care deeply enough about to create a solution for. Are there any newly instituted and significant incentives aimed at encouraging American business to bring manufacturing back onshore? (That was a rhetorical question.)
Richard McCormack, editor of Manufacturing & Technology News, writes:
The United States is not a desirable place to build a new semiconductor wafer fabrication (fab) plant. Such plants are massive, costing upwards of $8 billion and generating thousands of direct and indirect high-paying jobs, spinoff revenue for local communities and massive investments in research, equipment and materials. Semiconductors sit at the top of the electronics industry pyramid. The United States invented the technology, but it’s become a small player as measured by global production.
In 2009, 16 fabs began construction throughout the world. One of them was in the United States, according to Daniel Tracy, senior director of industry research and statistics at Semiconductor Equipment Materials International.
China led the world last year in new semiconductor factory construction, with six fabs, followed by Taiwan with five, and Korea, Japan, the European Union and Southeast Asia, all with one apiece.
The United States does lead the world in one category, however: closures. In 2009, 27 fabs closed worldwide, with 15 of them in the United States (followed by four in Europe, four in Japan, two in China, one in Korea and one in Southeast Asia). The number of closures last year almost doubled from the previous year, when 15 fabs were shut down worldwide, again, with the largest number in the United States (at four).
Why is the United States losing out on the next phase of the semiconductor boom? “It’s not direct labor,” says George Scalise, president of the Semiconductor Industry Association. “It’s not materials — they cost the same everywhere. If you go down the list of expenses, every-thing is the same, except for tax policies and subsidies.” [Emphasis added.]
Read the rest here.
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