The Government Circuit: Green Regulations, the Economy, COVID-19, and ‘Decoupling’ in Focus for IPC This Fall

Summer may be winding down, but autumn is shaping up to be a busy advocacy season for IPC. With the U.S. Congress and European Commission back at work after August breaks, the U.S. presidential election looming in November, and the continuing spread of coronavirus, the next several months will have long-term impacts for the electronics manufacturing industry.

This month’s column provides you with an overview of the latest worldwide regulations you should be attuned to, the global economic landscape, and opportunities to make your voice heard with policymakers. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, please contact a member of our government relations staff [1], visit our government policy web pages [2], and/or subscribe to our weekly e-newsletter [3].

U.S. EPA Having an Active Start to September
On September 4, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) made two major announcements of interest to our industry.

First, the EPA released the final list [4] of businesses subject to fees for the 20 high-priority substances [5] listed under the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Fees Rule [6]. Changes have been made since the preliminary list was released on January 27, which IPC wrote about in February [7]. Businesses identified on the final list must notify the EPA regarding their intention to form or join consortia to pay fees that defray the costs of risk evaluations. Fee payments are required 120 days after the final list is released, although the EPA may incorporate flexibility into the payment schedule.

Meanwhile, the EPA also released the final scope documents [8] for the risk evaluations of 20 high-priority substances [5] under TSCA. These documents will outline a three-year process for determining unreasonable risk for various conditions of use of high-priority substances. IPC has already engaged with the EPA during the review period for the draft scope documents on Tetrabromobisphenol A and formaldehyde, and we will be reviewing all of the final scope documents to determine their applicability to the electronics sector.

Please let us know your questions, concerns, and suggestions about the TSCA fee obligations. We welcome your review and insights on the use of these chemicals and on the recent EPA action generally.

Does Your Company Use PFAS to Make Electronics?
Regulators in the United States and the European Union are still eyeing potential regulation on chemicals in the per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) class, and your input can sway their decision-making. In July, IPC completed a screening study [9] to gain a better understanding of the evolving policies shaping the production and use of PFAS. IPC needs you to review the preliminary findings from our screening study to confirm whether we accurately captured the uses of PFAS in electronics products and processes. Please send your feedback to Kelly Scanlon. For more information, check out IPC’s recent blog post on PFAS regulation [10].

Interested in Chemical and Product Regulations in Asia?
The Asia-Pacific region is home to several of the world’s largest nations and most dynamic economies, and many governments in the region have established comprehensive environmental, health, and safety (EHS) policy frameworks. Please check out these new white papers from IPC on the evolving chemicals regulations in China, Japan, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand [11]. These papers provide a detailed look at the history of the policies, recent regulatory updates, and the regulatory trends in the respective countries.

How Is COVID-19 Affecting the U.S. and European Electronics Industry?
Since I last penned a column for I-Connect007, IPC Chief Economist Shawn DuBravac released the first two IPC Monthly Economic Reports, covering one of the most volatile periods in our economic history and providing industry intelligence on the economy, industrial production, PCB demand, and more. The July report [12] forecasts an uneven recovery over the next six months, and the August report [13] includes new data on the EU market, forecasts for the major European economies, and updates on the U.S. economy amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

Relatively speaking, the electronics industry in the U.S., Europe, and Asia has been holding up and performing well, and we hope this trend continues. While manufacturing production in the U.S. and Europe is down over the past year, electronics production has actually increased.

As the pandemic persists, IPC remains alert to the evolving science and policies, and we recently released new information [14] aimed at helping our members assess and manage risks in the workplace. Please check out an updated IPC report [15] that answers questions we have received related to cleaning, disinfecting, and contact tracing.

IPC Calls for COVID-19 Recovery Bill With Pro-Industrial-Base Provisions
As of this writing, the U.S. Congress is still struggling to reach a deal on another COVID-19 recovery bill, and IPC is calling on them to include provisions of importance to the electronics manufacturing industry. In a recent letter [16] sent to the top four leaders in Congress, IPC urged Congress to support the following measures:

  • Modified unemployment insurance benefit to continue essential support for laid-off workers, helping to maintain consumer demand while reducing disincentives to return to work
  • Common-sense liability protections shielding businesses that have taken “reasonable steps” to comply with government workplace safety guidelines
  • Paycheck Protection Program extension and the Safe and Healthy Workplace tax credit
  • Supplementary funding to sustain and rebuild the defense industrial base
  • Aid to state and local governments to ensure essential services are maintained

More information about our industry’s role in the U.S. economy can be found in this report [17], and our Roadmap to Economic Recovery [18] summarizes our policy agenda. With election season rapidly approaching, Congress may be spurred to act, and when they do, we will do our best to ensure the industry’s needs are accounted for.

Should Manufacturers Pull Away From Global Markets and Standards?
Relocating manufacturing facilities is not easy, fast, or in some cases, even desirable, but due to recent events like COVID-19 and trade wars, it is a conversation that is increasingly taking place.

On September 1, I, along with other industry experts, discussed strategies for mitigating reshoring risks and other challenges faced by the electronics industry at an Electronics Town Hall. I opined that the West’s wariness of doing business with China is a long-term trend and that the ongoing “decoupling” between the two economies is likely to continue no matter who is elected U.S. president in November.

Meanwhile, IPC President and CEO John Mitchell had two powerful opinion pieces published recently: one on the need for U.S. policymakers to do more for the electronics manufacturing industry [19], and the other calling for increased U.S. participation in international standards organizations [20]. I urge you to read both these pieces if you have not done so already.

Make Your Voice Heard!
Please note that the IPC Advocacy Team page [21] makes it easy to communicate with your elected officials about our industry’s priority issues, or you can reach out and let us know what you think so that we can advocate for you. We are here to amplify your voice and that of the entire electronics manufacturing industry.

As always, please let us know if you have any questions or suggestions for IPC advocacy in the coming months. We are here to support you as we all navigate these challenging times.

References

  1. IPC Government Relations Staff.
  2. IPC Government Relations.
  3. IPC, “Global Advocacy Report.”
  4. EPA, “Final Lists Identifying Manufacturers Subject to Fee Obligations for EPA-Initiated Risk Evaluations Under Section 6 of the Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA); Notice of Availability,” Federal Registry, September 4, 2020.
  5. EPA, “Chemical Substances Undergoing Prioritization: High-Priority.”
  6. EPA, “Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA) Administration Fees.”
  7. Kelly Scanlon, “U.S. EPA Fees for Toxic Substances May Apply to Your Company This Year,” IPC.
  8. EPA, “Final Scopes of the Risk Evaluations To Be Conducted for Twenty Chemical Substances Under the Toxic Substances Control Act; Notice of Availability,” Federal Registry, September 4, 2020.
  9. IPC, “Preliminary Findings: PFAS Use in the Electronics Industry,” July 31, 2020.
  10. Matthew Chalkley and Kelly Scanlon, “PFAS Regulation in the Electronics Industry: Should We Be Concerned?” IPC.
  11. Kelly Scanlon, “Interested in Chemical and Electronics Product Regulations in Asia-Pacific Countries?” IPC.
  12. Shawn Dubravac, “Economic Outlook: July 2020,” IPC.
  13. Shawn Dubravac, “Economic Outlook: August 2020,” IPC.
  14. David Krause and Kelly Scanlon, “IPC, Helping You Assess and Manage COVID-19 Risks at Your Workplace,” IPC.
  15. IPC, “IPC Special Report: Workplace Measures To Manage COVID-19 Risk—Dispelling Myths With Effective Methods,” August 2020.
  16. Chris Mitchell, “Letter to the Top Four Leaders in Congress,” August 4, 2020.
  17. IPC, “Interconnecting America’ Economy: The Economic Impacts of the U.S. Electronics Manufacturing Sector,” 2020.
  18. IPC, “An IPC Roadmap to Economic Recovery.”
  19. John Mitchell, “We are to blame for the US manufacturing decline,” The Hill, September 1, 2020.
  20. John Mitchell, “The World Needs American Leadership in Setting the Technological Standards of the Future,” Nextgov, August 31, 2020.
  21. IPC Advocacy Team.

Chris Mitchell is IPC’s VP of global government affairs. Contact him at ChrisMitchell@ipc.org.

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2020

The Government Circuit: Green Regulations, the Economy, COVID-19, and ‘Decoupling’ in Focus for IPC This Fall

09-21-2020

Summer may be winding down, but autumn is shaping up to be a busy advocacy season for IPC. In this month’s column, Christ Mitchell provides an overview of the latest worldwide regulations you should be attuned to, the global economic landscape, and opportunities to make your voice heard with policymakers.

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The Government Circuit: Environmental, Health, and Safety Issues Are Hot in U.S., EU, and Asia

08-19-2020

Although coronavirus, trade wars, and supply chain concerns have dominated the discussion in our industry in recent months, many important environmental, health, and safety (EHS) issues are on the agenda as well. This column provides an overview of the EHS policy landscape and what IPC is doing to advocate for the electronics manufacturing industry.

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The Government Circuit: Renewed Focus on Worldwide Supply Chain Amid COVID-19

07-15-2020

One of the key takeaways from the coronavirus pandemic is that in times of crisis, sophisticated global supply chains can break down. Chris Mitchell explains how as the pandemic continues to play out, IPC is actively engaged in promoting global trade and the regionalization of supply chains.

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The Government Circuit: Coping With COVID-19 and Emerging Environmental Regs

06-10-2020

Across all regions where IPC has an advocacy presence, the policy debate is still dominated by the need to beat COVID-19 and climb out of the economic crisis. IPC's Chris Mitchell explains how governments are still working through their massive pandemic-recovery plans, and it is unclear whether national economies will snap back within months or take years to recover.

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The Government Circuit: Government Policy Moves Are More Important Than Ever During a Pandemic

05-06-2020

Isn’t it amazing how quickly and thoroughly the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the world? Chris Mitchell shares several of the top stories of recent weeks from an IPC government relations perspective, including issues that IPC is continuing to work on.

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The Government Circuit: An IPC Roadmap to Economic Recovery

03-26-2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic exacts a growing toll, public and private actors worldwide are marshaling resources to combat the spread of the virus and save the lives of those who are critically ill. In this unprecedented crisis, Chris Mitchell explains how IPC supports a sustained and bold policy agenda to help us all weather the economic downturn resulting from sweeping restrictions on business activity.

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The Government Circuit: IPC Marks Progress in Government Advocacy in 2019

01-14-2020

As we turn the calendar from 2019 to 2020, it is a natural time to take stock of the past year and look ahead to the year to come. Here are a few of the top stories of 2019 from Chris Mitchell's perspective as a government relations professional working to support the electronics manufacturing industry through public policy advocacy.

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2019

The Government Circuit: Europe Eyeing Changes in RoHS Environmental Regulations

12-02-2019

One of the world’s most comprehensive and restrictive environmental regulations is undergoing a comprehensive regulatory review, and IPC is actively involved in the process, coordinating industry views and advocating on behalf of the electronics manufacturing industry. Chris Mitchell gives an update on activities related to the European Commission’s Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) Directive.

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The Government Circuit: U.S.-China Tariff War Threatens American Jobs and Investments

11-06-2019

Fifty-five percent of companies report they are facing higher costs as a result of higher tariffs, which are affecting, on average, about one-third of the total dollar value of the products they import. Some companies say their costs have increased more than the direct costs of the tariffs due to higher administrative and operational burdens to sort it all out.

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The Government Circuit: Recession Fears, Trade Wars: What Can We Do?

09-04-2019

Despite many strong economic indicators, recent news reports are filled with growing concerns about the risk of a U.S. and global recession in the next 12–24 months. Amid a prolonged trade war between the U.S. and China, and an "inversion" between long-term and short-term bond yields, a recent survey found that 74% of economists predict the next recession will hit by the end of 2021.

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The Government Circuit: Trump Praises Industry on Workforce Issues, IPC Launches Grassroots Platform

08-07-2019

July was a fun, productive month for IPC on the government relations front. Most notably, IPC’s workforce development efforts were recognized at the White House in Washington and on a factory floor in Michigan. On another front, we've launched an online platform that makes it easier for our members to contact their elected officials, and we’re using it to seek more R&D funding for an important industry project.

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The Government Circuit: IPC Promoting R&D on Lead-free Electronics, Streamlined Chemical Data Reporting, and More

07-04-2019

For the most part, working in government relations is like running a marathon, not a sprint. It can take weeks, months, or even years to formulate an industry consensus position, educate the relevant policymakers in legislatures and executive branch agencies, build alliances and broad support, and ultimately push a final action over the finish line. That metaphor was certainly fitting in recent weeks as IPC scored two interim wins on issues we’ve been working on for years.

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The Government Circuit: Team IPC Working on North American Trade, EPA Regulations, EU Policy, and More

06-13-2019

In one of the highlights of IPC’s work every year, top executives from electronics companies from across the U.S. came together in Washington, D.C., recently to call for policies that will drive the electronics industry’s success. Attendees met with leading policymakers to discuss the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), the electronics supply chain, EPA regulations, and workforce education.

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IPC’s D.C. Focus: Chemicals Regulations, Lead-Free, Export Controls

05-07-2019

From North America to Europe, Asia, and beyond, the future of the electronics manufacturing industry is shaped in many ways by government policies. That’s why IPC maintains an active, multifaceted government relations program, including leadership and networking opportunities for member company executives.

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U.S. Tax Law Boosts Growth, But Uncertainties Loom

04-17-2019

Monday, April 15 was the deadline for millions of Americans to file their income tax returns, so this is a good time to review the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 (TCJA) as well as the current tax policy landscape and how these rules are affecting the electronics industry.

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