These tangled supply chains have drawn attention to a larger, longer-term problem: the United States is dangerously dependent on other countries for computer chips, no matter what it gets itself into.
In 1990, 37% of the world’s computer chips were made in the United States. Now it’s only 12%.
Three-quarters of the world’s chips are made in Asia for the usual reasons – it’s cheaper there. The largest manufacturers are in turn South Korea, Taiwan and Japan. But China is emerging quickly.
Between 2015 and 2019, China prevailed as a chip manufacturer ahead of the USA and appears on a rocket flight to the top. By some estimates, it should control 70% of the market by 2030 – even more if China one day invades Taiwan (which it could well do).
There is a national security term for this: Not good.
This has led to a bipartisan push to develop a larger semiconductor industry in the United States.
Just weeks ago we wrote about how two former Congressmen with a longstanding interest in technology – Bob Goodlatte, a Republican from Roanoke County and Rick Boucher, a Democrat from Abingdon – posted a comment in USA Today calling for Congress wants to fund more semiconductor research.
Guess what? That’s happened now – or more precisely, it happened in the Senate. The house still has to move.