U.S. Commerce chief holding meetings on chips shortage — sources

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo was holding a pair of meetings Thursday with senior U.S. auto industry leaders and other industry executives on a semiconductor shortage that has cut production, two sources briefed on the matter said.

Reuters had reported the planning meetings on May 10.

The meetings – which are taking place at two separate times Thursday to accommodate schedules – include General Motors Co (NYSE:GM), Ford Motor (NYSE:F) Co and Stellantis NV, the sources said.

The Alliance for Auto Innovation, an automaker trade group, said Thursday it welcomes “Raimondo’s continued commitment to addressing the microchip shortage. … We look forward to continuing our work with the Department of Commerce and other stakeholders to strengthen transparency and resiliency in the automotive semiconductor supply chain and to create additional semiconductor production capacity.”

Earlier this month, Raimondo said the department was pressing Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co (TSMC) and other Taiwanese firms to prioritize near-term needs of U.S. automakers to ease chip shortages.

TSMC said in response that tackling the shortage remained its top priority.

Last month, Ford warned the chip shortage might slash second-quarter production by half, costing it about $2.5 billion and about 1.1 million units of lost production in 2021, while GM has extended production halts at several North American factories because of the shortage. Both continue to announce new production cuts.

On April 12, President Joe Biden convened semiconductor, tech and auto industry executives to discuss solutions to the crisis.

On Wednesday, U.S. Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled revised bipartisan legislation late Tuesday that includes $52 billion in emergency funding to significantly boost U.S. semiconductor chip production and research over five years.

The emergency funding proposal will be included in a more than 1,400-page revised bill the Senate is taking up this week, as first reported by Reuters on Friday, to spend $120 billion on basic U.S. and advanced technology research to better compete with China.