Biden to sign bill to boost U.S. chips, compete with China

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[August 09, 2022]  By David Shepardson

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Joe Biden on Tuesday will sign a bill to provide $52.7 billion in subsidies for U.S. semiconductor production and research and to boost efforts to make the United States more competitive with China's science and technology efforts.

U.S. President Joe Biden, isolating following his COVID-19 diagnosis, appears virtually in a meeting with business and labor leaders about the Chips Act relating to U.S. domestic chip and semiconductor manufacturing in an auditorium on the White House campus in Washington, U.S., July 25, 2022. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

The White House is touting investments that chip companies are making even though it remains unclear when the U.S. Commerce Department will write rules for reviewing grant awards and how long it will take to underwrite projects.

The chief executives of Micron, Intel, Lockheed Martin, HP and Advanced Micro Devices will attend the signing, set for 10 a.m. EDT, as will cabinet officials and auto industry and union leaders, including United Auto Workers President Ray Curry, the White House said.

Also attending will be governors of Pennsylvania and Illinois, the mayors of Detroit, Cleveland and Salt Lake City, and lawmakers.

The White House said the bill's passage was spurring new chip investments. It noted that Qualcomm Monday had agreed to buy an additional $4.2 billion in semiconductor chips from GlobalFoundries's New York factory, bringing its total commitment to $7.4 billion in purchases through 2028.

The White House also said Micron was announcing a $40 billion investment in memory chip manufacturing, which would boost U.S. market share from 2% to 10%.

The legislation aims to alleviate a persistent shortage that has affected everything from cars, weapons, washing machines and video games. Thousands of cars and trucks remain parked in southeast Michigan awaiting chips as the shortage continues to impact automakers.

A rare major foray into U.S. industrial policy, the bill also includes a 25% investment tax credit for chip plants, estimated to be worth $24 billion.

The legislation authorizes $200 billion over 10 years to boost U.S. scientific research to better compete with China. Congress would still need to pass separate appropriations legislation to fund those investments.

China had lobbied against the semiconductor bill. The Chinese Embassy in Washington said China "firmly opposed" it, calling it reminiscent of a "Cold War mentality."

Many U.S. lawmakers had said they normally would not support hefty subsidies for private businesses but noted that China and the European Union had been awarding billions in incentives to their chip companies. They also cited national security risks and huge global supply chain problems that have hampered global manufacturing.

(Reporting by David Shepardson; Editing by Bradley Perrett)

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