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Component Shortage Electronic Components Future Supply Chain Technology

The European Chips Act and its impact on electronic component sales

Semiconductors are vital for our day-to-day life. They are in all the electronics you own but are also in your kitchen appliances, your car, your electric shower and many more. But what if we lost access to these components?

The huge reliance on imported semiconductors was made abundantly clear last year. Europe’s current share of the global semiconductor market is only about 10%, and the continents is otherwise dependent on supply from abroad.

The need for independence and autonomy in the European chip market has been made very apparent due to factors like Brexit and COVID-19.

The European Chips Act was first mentioned in the EU’s 2021 State of Union Letter of Intent, calling the act a key initiative for 2022. The EU created the Industrial Alliance for Processors and Semiconductor Technologies alongside it, to plan and oversee progress on the act.

One of the aims of the alliance is to increase Europe’s share in global chip production to 20% by 2030, but they will first have to identify issues with the market and map out a way to improve design and production.

During the ‘State of the World’ Special Address by European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen on January 20, the chips act was mentioned once again, and they announced draft legislation for the chips act is due in February of this year.

The European Commission president said that there would be five steps taken to improve the chip sector, and that they would focus on research first, then design and manufacturing. After these there would be an adaptation of state aid rules to increase provisions in case of shortage.  Lastly, she said the EU would work to support smaller, innovative technology companies.

In 2020 the United States accounted for the largest share in the semiconductor industry, with 47%. Following the US was South Korea with 20% of the market. China’s share has also increased quickly in recent years, putting it narrowly behind Korea. Despite Japan previously having a larger share in the market, they are currently on equal footing with Europe with a share of around 10%.

Despite no longer being a member of the EU, and therefore not directly signing the Chips Act, the UK could also have the potential to increase its standing in the global semiconductor race.

According to some UK-based chipmakers, the country has an advantage in the area of research and development. If research facilities like the University of Manchester were given the right attention and funding, they could develop sustainable resources like graphene to replace mined silicon in processors.

The UK electronics sector will always be considerably smaller than huge countries like China and America, but with significant investment they would have the ability to make a difference in the current chip shortage. And Cyclops is a perfect example of a smaller company making a big difference.

Cyclops is an electronic component distributor with a wealth of contacts from all over the world. With unrivalled stock and suppliers, Cyclops will put you ahead of your competitors. Contact us today at sales@cyclops-electronics.com.

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Electronic Components

Why is chip sovereignty so important?

The US and EU are planning for chip sovereignty. This is to aim to defend domestic chip supplies and move manufacturing back home.

At first glance this is a tall order, considering most chips are made in China and China controls 55% of rare earth metal production. However, it is nether the less crucial to ensure that the Western world has access to the chips it needs.

The need for chip sovereignty

As the electronics industry battles on with chip shortages, we are seeing car plants cut production and companies delay product launches.

These are only a few examples of measures applied like sticky plasters over supply chains that have been bleeding for years.

We are in a situation where electronic components manufacturers are running at 99-100% capacity. Demand has soared for all types of components, from chips and memory to diodes and displays, squeezing supply chains.

Quite simply, demand is outstripping supply.

Many of the problems in the supply chain are geopolitical and logistical in nature. Therefore, by moving manufacturing back home, nations like the US and the EU will be able to control the supply chain (or most of it) and make supply meet demand.

What’s happening?

The EU will legislate to push for chip sovereignty with the forthcoming “European Chips Act”. It aims to stop European countries from competing with each other for chips, instead having them work together to compete globally.

The US isn’t legislating for chip sovereignty, but the Biden administration used its first budget proposal to Congress to call for domestic funding to fight semiconductor shortages, with figures up to $50 billion being touted.

The UK is at odds with the US and EU with no chip sovereignty in sight.

Simply put, the UK is selling off chip firms, with $42 billion sold since 2010 (figures from US research). For example, In July, the UK’s largest chip plant was acquired by Nexperia. This is a Dutch firm wholly owned by Shanghai-based Wingtech.

This raises concerns over the future of UK chip manufacturing. Industry funding is seriously lacking too, putting the UK firmly behind the US and EU.

Companies are a successful case study 

As countries continue to struggle to meet demand for chips, some companies have taken matters into their own hands.

Apple produces their own chip called the M1 for the MacBook Air and iMac, and Google is doing the same with the Tensor chip, used in the Pixel 6 smartphone.

By moving away from Intel and Qualcomm respectively. Apple and Google have taken greater control over their supply chains, cutting out many geopolitical and logistical issues and unlocking greater pricing power.

With the global chip shortage showing no signs of abating and rare earth metal prices soaring. Supply chains are only going to get squeezed more in the near future.

Chip sovereignty will be important for nations to meet demand and reduce reliance on China, Taiwan, and other countries a very long way away.

However, while the EU legislates for chip sovereignty, and the Biden administration pushes Congress for domestic chip funding. The UK continues to sell off chip firms to foreign investors. This will bite down hard when chip imports take a hit.