SIA representatives are heading to Geneva next week to press negotiators to wrap up the talks to expand product coverage of the Information Technology Agreement (ITA). SIA and more than 80 other industry associations from around the world yesterday called on negotiators to finally conclude a strong tariff-elimination agreement next week in Geneva. The talks failed to conclude last December, though they came within an eyelash of getting done. Finishing the negotiations on product scope next week will be a critical step so discussions on tariff-elimination phase-in schedules (so-called staging) and other necessary technical work can be completed by the WTO Ministerial Conference scheduled to convene in Nairobi in mid-December.
ITA expansion is a top priority for our industry. An expanded ITA would eliminate tariffs on roughly $1 trillion in yearly sales of semiconductors and other tech products and would spur global GDP by roughly $190 billion annually. We expect the final package to include next-generation semiconductors known as MCOs and a wide array of products that incorporate semiconductors, such as MRI machines, GPS devices, solid state drives, video game consoles, loud speakers, video cameras, and sophisticated testing equipment. For more information, please contact Devi Keller at email@example.com.
Trade Promotion Authority Signed Into Law
On June 29, President Obama signed into law Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation, which had passed the Senate 60-38 on June 24. This was the culmination of years of effort to enact TPA, a critical step that will help the Administration conclude pending trade agreements such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP). This year’s trade effort included two successful, bipartisan votes in both the House and Senate. SIA sent multiple letters in support of the bill, including a letter signed by all Board members, and most recently sent thank you letters to TPA supporters with significant industry presence, along with signing on to a multi-association tech industry letter to all members. SIA will continue to work with the Administration and Congress to ensure a successful conclusion of TPP negotiations and enactment of a TPP-implementing bill in Congress, perhaps later this year. For more information, please contact Joe Pasetti at firstname.lastname@example.org
SIA Files Comments on Chemicals Regulation
SIA filed comments with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on a pending proposal to restrict the use of a group of chemicals important to the semiconductor industry. The EPA proposal would restrict uses of long-chain perfluoroalkyl carboxylate and perfluoroalkyl sulfonate chemical substances, a class of chemical substances used in semiconductor manufacturing and equipment and found in finished semiconductor devices and packaging. Under the regulation, EPA can restrict new uses of these chemicals, but must allow continuing uses of ongoing uses. Accordingly, the SIA comments explain the industry’s ongoing uses of these chemicals and request EPA to issue a final rule that exempts the industry’s specific uses of these chemicals. For more information, please contact David Isaacs at email@example.com.
House Approves Bipartisan Chemicals Legislation
On June 23, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Modernization Act of 2015 (H.R. 2576), legislation that would enhance the protection of health and the environment, while also providing the semiconductor industry and other sectors with certainty in the selection and use of chemicals. SIA supports the House bill and our focus now turns to the Senate to approve companion legislation (S.697). Senate Republican Leader McConnell (R-KY) has stated his intention to bring the bill to the Senate floor before the August recess.
H.R. 2576 would reform the Toxic Substances Control Act of 1976, the primary federal chemicals law, which has not been updated since its enactment almost 40 years ago. The House bill adopts a targeted approach that makes limited revisions to the law and preserves most existing sections of the law that are working well. The Senate bill, in contrast, is much more ambitious and adopts more extensive changes to the law. Assuming the Senate bill is passed by the Senate, the two bodies will need to conference to reconcile the significant differences in the bills. For more information, please contact David Isaacs at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SIA Submits Comments to BIS
On July 6, SIA submitted comments to the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) on proposed revisions to Category XII or the US Munitions List and proposed harmonization of Destination Control Statements (DCS). The Category XII rules are of particular interest to SIA members as they relate to the key export control term “directly related” as well as changing controls on infrared focal plane arrays used in automotive, medical, and surveillance applications. SIA plans to submit comments on two other proposed rules on cyber security and the definitions of key export control terms in the coming weeks.
ACTF Meets with Enforcement Agencies on Operations
SIA’s Anti-counterfeiting Task Force (ACTF) met with officials from Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP) at the end of June to discuss ongoing enforcement efforts. Companies have seen a rise in seizures of counterfeit parts this year, due to recent operations conducted by HSI and CBP – with company authentication support – at express shipment processing facilities. Member company representatives received feedback from CBP and law enforcement on the factors behind the successful operations, discussed procedure and timeliness for CBP authentication requests, and planned for upcoming operations later this year. Additionally, member companies met internally to discuss recent trends in counterfeiting and additional ways for industry to collaborate with government to combat the threat. For more information, please contact Dustin Todd at email@example.com.
Conference Negotiations on Customs Legislation Set to Begin
The House of Representatives is expected to vote to go to conference on the Customs Bill (H.R. 644) and name conferees to serve on the conference committee to work out differences with the Senate later this week. The Senate has already voted to go to conference on the legislation, and negotiations are expected to begin immediately following a House vote. House Leadership announced last week it intends to finalize and pass the compromise legislation before leaving for the August congressional recess. SIA-sought language that gives explicit authority to Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to share unredacted images of suspect counterfeit parts with rights holders for authenticity determinations is included in both the House and Senate bills. SIA’s Anti-counterfeiting Task Force (ACTF) met with House and Senate offices earlier this year to discuss the legislation and urge its passage. For more information, please contact Dustin Todd at firstname.lastname@example.org.
IBM to Co-host Capitol Hill Forum on Neuroscience Research
IBM, along with the U.S. Senate National Laboratories Caucus and the U.S. House of Representatives Science and National Laboratories Caucus, is hosting a Capitol Hill forum on Thursday, July 16 examining the state of neuroscience research in the United States and new areas of study that can secure U.S. leadership in this exciting field. Dharmendra Modha, IBM Fellow, Chief Scientist, and founder of the Cognitive Computing Group at IBM Research, will address the company’s new “Brain” chip technology. Dr. Peter Littlewood, Director of Argonne National Laboratory, will discuss his team’s support of the Brain Observatory Project, a groundbreaking effort to map the human brain at unprecedented resolution, better understand how it works, and apply that knowledge for the betterment of mankind. The event will take place at 11:30 a.m. ET in the Capitol Visitor Center, room SVC-201-00. For more information or to RSVP, please e-mail IBMevent@ketchum.com.
CONGRESSIONAL SEMICONDUCTOR CAUCUS
Reception Honoring Congressional Semiconductor Caucus Set for July 21
A reception honoring the launch of the Congressional Semiconductor Caucus will take place on Tuesday, July 21 at 6 p.m. in the Capitol Visitors Center, room SVC 212-10. The Caucus’s co-chairs – Sen. Angus King (I-Maine), Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), and Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Texas) – have been recruiting other Members of Congress to join the Caucus as founding members. The Semiconductor Caucus will inform Congress on the fundamental role of semiconductors in our daily lives and their importance to our country. It will also provide a venue for interaction between Members of Congress and industry professionals to advance policies that will preserve and strengthen the industry. For more information, please contact Joe Pasetti at email@example.com.