U.S. must rebuild its technology infrastructure

The Biden administration has made rejuvenating the American economy a top priority, focusing on creating industrial jobs. Strengthening our technology manufacturing capability must be part of that effort.

The ubiquity of brands such as Huawei and platforms like TikTok have revealed one of our nation’s biggest weaknesses and vulnerabilities: We no longer manufacture much of the technology powering our daily lives.

Whether an investment banker, a small business owner, or a soldier, the devices used to power today’s businesses are generally made overseas. Some manufacturing nations are allies. Some aren’t. Either way, the United States faces grave danger in losing the global technology hegemony it once held.

Domestic technology manufacturing capacity matters to all companies, across verticals and industries. As a Miami-based company and  Google Android Certified partner, we have made and sold more than 11 million devices to startups and Fortune 500s alike – from the custom tablets that ensure your pizza arrives on time to a first-of-its-kind vaccine administration device.

Since our founding a decade ago, we have had no choice but to rely on foreign companies for the the semiconductors and other parts used in our devices. Without a domestic manufacturing supply of these critical components, our ability to meet customer needs in a timely, cost-effective manner becomes compromised.  Social Mobile is part of a growing movement pushing Congress for reforms to encourage the resurrection of American technology manufacturing – especially semiconductors.

U.S. manufacturers once controlled most of the global semiconductor manufacturing market. But, the export of manufacturing capacity and intellect have allowed Taiwan and China to take the lead. In fact, U.S. share of global chip manufacturing could fall to just 10{1936381d4253f19a98bc2ecae94a0b0438ab0e234f1c555690d854373a3c9a42} by 2023.

Trade tensions with China are precarious and have increased  prices. Escalation of those tensions could critically harm our economy.

So, what to do?

President Biden’s February executive order reviewing semiconductor and IT supply chains represents a good start as a precursor to additional, sustained, and decisive government action. Critical legislation like the CHIPS for America Act has garnered bipartisan sponsorship,  and is included in the FY 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).  However, Congress and the Biden administration need to implement additional action and funding to support incentives and initiatives necessary to facilitate this shift, such as the $20 billion in proposed matching funds for domestic manufacturing and R&D programs.

Congress should  ensure that other initiatives – such as $15 billion in grants for building and modernizing tech fabrication facilities here in the United States — are funded properly and existing regulations and codes, like the Federal Clean Air Act, are optimized to incentivize U.S.-based companies to commit resources to increasing manufacturing capacity. Existing outlets for essential dialogue between the United States and foreign trade partners, like the Economic Prosperity Partnership Dialogue, should also serve as key tools used by the Biden administration to solve this issue.

The viability of the enterprise technology market represents  one of the most important elements of our modern economy. Without a reliable means for producing the semiconductors that power these devices here in the United States, we are entirely reliant upon foreign sources. That poses a significant risk to our operations, and our nation.

President Biden has talked about the need to return manufacturing jobs to American soil as a crucial part of our recovery from the economic devastation wrought by COVID-19. Now is the time for the administration – and Congress – to act together to make an impact.  A vibrant technology manufacturing sector is good for jobs, the economy, and the security of our country.

Robert Morcos is founder and CEO of Social Mobile, a custom technology hardware provider based in Miami.

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