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Biden wants the US to make 20% of all high-end chips by end of the decade

The Biden administration laid out an ambitious new goal for the US: produce 20% of the world’s most advanced semiconductor chips by the end of the decade.

Achieving that mark — set by Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo in a speech Monday morning — would be a dramatic turnabout for the US.

It currently makes 0% of the so-called leading edge logic chips that are considerably more powerful than older-generation semiconductors, making them crucial for everything from mobile phones to AI to quantum computing.

"That's a big number, yes," Raimondo said of the 20% goal while speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

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The Biden administration hopes to help the country hit that ambitious mark with investments set aside by an 18-month-old law called the CHIPS and Science Act.

The legislation allows the White House to spend $50 billion in taxpayer dollars — $39 billion specifically earmarked for manufacturing — to try and help reignite American manufacturing in the years ahead.

Raimondo is overseeing the funds and says she will focus on helping projects that will be online this decade, a challenge for some of these incredibly complex efforts that require specialized equipment and supply chains.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - NOVEMBER 14: U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo signs the IPEF Pillar II agreement as part of the Indo-Pacific Economic Framework and Prosperity ministerial during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit on November 14, 2023 in San Francisco, California. The 2023 APEC Summit is set to run through November 17, with more than 30,000 people including dozens of world leaders and hundreds of CEOs attending the event. (Photo by Kent Nishimura/Getty Images)
Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo in November at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in California. (Kent Nishimura/Getty Images) (Kent Nishimura via Getty Images)

Not all companies may be happy with what they receive. The 2030 goal means many proposals with a longer timeline will not receive a grant, Raimondo said. Others may receive less than half of what they asked for because of limited funds.

"These are tough negotiations; that's our job," she said.

Raimondo oversees a team of more than 200 people charged with implementing the legislation that was designed to confront America's falling share of semiconductor manufacturing.

America produced nearly 40% of the world's chips in 1990, but less than 10% are made in the US today, according to the White House.

The situation is even worse with the world's most advanced semiconductors: 100% of those are currently manufactured overseas, mostly in Taiwan.

Thus far, three smaller manufacturing awards have been rolled out to BAE Systems (BAESY), Microchip Technology, and GlobalFoundries (GFS).

But the vast majority of the work on building those leading edge chips will fall to giant players who are still waiting for their awards to be finalized. Intel (INTC), which is building a new factory in Ohio, is reportedly in talks for as much as $10 billion of that government money.

Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) is another likely recipient, and Raimondo signaled Monday that it could be in line for help.

She called a proposed project by the company in Arizona "pathbreaking" and lauded it for investing in the US, promising, "We're going to make sure it's successful."

Ben Werschkul is Washington correspondent for Yahoo Finance.

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