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The Global Chip Crisis
Technology & Ideas

Washington Is the Weak Link in Global Chip Supply Chain

An ineffectual and tardy approach to understanding the semiconductor shortage won’t help the U.S. solve a global problem.

Gina Raimondo’s data request already feels outdated. 

Gina Raimondo’s data request already feels outdated. 

Photographer: Paul Morigi/Getty

Plans to survey chipmakers and keep tabs on the supply chain to head off further disruption highlight just how disconnected the U.S. government is from the realities of a $500 billion industry that spans the globe. Instead, American diplomats would do well to work with allies to build an integrated real-time database that will last well beyond the Covid-19 pandemic.

A request last month by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo for semiconductor companies to detail their sales, products, technology and inventory was coupled with a threat that the White House might invoke a Cold War-era law to force them into submission. Such intimidation is counter-productive, and ruffled feathers in Taipei, Seoul and Beijing at a time when Washington needs to open lines of communication with other nations.