U.S. may lose silicon wafer factory if Congress can’t fund CHIPS Act, commerce secretary says

U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo told CNBC’s Jim Cramer on Monday that she believes GlobalWafers will follow through on its plan to build a silicon wafer factory in Texas — but only if Congress passes funding for the CHIPS for America Act by the time the August recess begins.

“This investment that they’re making is contingent upon Congress passing the CHIPS Act [funding]. The CEO told me that herself, and they reiterated that today,” Raimondo said in an interview on “Mad Money.”

“It has to be done before they go to August recess. I don’t know how to say it any more plainly. This deal … will go away, I think, if Congress doesn’t act,” she added.

GlobalWafers, a Taiwan-based semiconductor silicon wafer firm, said Monday that it plans to build a facility to produce the component in Sherman, Texas. The facility could create up to 1,500 jobs and produce 1.2 million wafers a month, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

The CHIPS (Creating Helpful Incentives to Produce Semiconductors) for America Act incentivizes investment in the U.S. semiconductor industry. While it was passed in January 2021, a funding package has not been approved by Congress.

Supply chain snarls have kept a variety of industries, most notably the automotive industry, from being able to secure semiconductor chips, all while demand soars. 

“Semiconductor demand is going to double in the next 10 or 11 years. It takes a couple of years to get a new facility up and running, which means these companies have to make their decisions now. GlobalWafer has made the announcement today because they need to have the cement in the ground at the facility in November,” Raimondo said.

The commerce secretary, who has previously rallied for Congress to support a more robust American semiconductor industry to rely less on foreign suppliers, reiterated that time is of the essence.

“It’s time, I think, for people to get much more practical. … Everyone has to realize you’re not going to get everything you want. We have to winnow this down to the essential items, get this passed and move quickly,” she said.

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