The US should do more to attract overseas chipmakers to build plants on its territory as a matter of national security, former Google chief Eric Schmidt wrote in an opinion piece published Monday.
Pointing to China’s accelerating investment in chip fabrication technology and capacity, Schmidt urged the US to reduce its dependence on Taiwan and South Korea for the most advanced semiconductors powering everything from smartphones to ballistic missiles and build out its own capabilities.
Instead, it should be incentivizing national champions Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co. and Samsung Electronics Co. to partner with US chip designers and build more on US soil, he said.
International relations scholar Graham Allison, who shares the byline on the Wall Street Journal article with Schmidt, previously warned that the US and China could be on a path to war that neither country wants. The two men set out policy recommendations for improving American competitiveness in the chipmaking race so as to avoid a drastic imbalance between the two superpowers.
“If Beijing develops durable advantages across the semiconductor supply chain, it would generate breakthroughs in foundational technologies that the U.S. cannot match,” they wrote. “The U.S. can’t spend its way out of this predicament.”
In addition to President Joe Biden’s proposed $52 billion investment plan — which is still under consideration by US legislators — the US should lean into its strengths of research and development, manufacturing less-advanced but more widely used slower chips through the likes of Intel Corp. and GlobalFoundries Inc., and redouble its efforts to bring TSMC and Samsung on shore.
Both Asian companies are constructing fabs in the US, but Schmidt and Allison’s message is that more needs to be done to ensure long-term US prosperity.
“America is on the verge of losing the chip competition,” they said, urging that “the U.S. government mobilizes a national effort similar to the one that created the technologies that won World War II.”