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Quad leaders to call for securing the chip supply chain

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The leaders are expected to confirm that “resilient, diverse and secure technology supply chains for hardware, software, and services” are vital to their shared national interests, according to the draft of a joint statement obtained by Nikkei.

U.S. President Joe Biden will host the first face-to-face talks among the leaders of the four-nation framework known as the Quad. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Indian Prime Minister Modi will participate.

The document also sets common principles on technological development, holding that “how technology is designed, developed, governed and used should be shaped by our shared democratic values and respect for universal human rights.”

The reference reflects a concern over the growing trend of using advanced technology to protect and buttress authoritarian regimes.

The draft of the joint statement does not specifically mention China, a nod to India’s intention to keep its non-aligned status and avoid moving forward on cooperation with specific countries. Still, in an apparent reference to China’s alleged tech misappropriation, the draft stresses that “illicit transfer or theft of technology is a common challenge that undermines the very foundation of global technological development and should be addressed.”

Specifically, the Quad looks to “launch a joint initiative to map capacity, identify vulnerabilities and bolster supply chain security for semiconductors and their vital components,” the document says. The U.S. and Japan account for just under 30 per cent of the world’s chipmaking capacity. Japan mostly produces memory chips and sensors while the U.S. has processing chip powerhouses, such as Intel and Qualcomm. The world’s top foundry, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, or TSMC, leads in manufacturing technology for the most advanced semiconductors. Chinese chipmakers are making aggressive investments to ramp up capacity for more general-use semiconductors. Australia and India do not have leading homegrown chipmakers but can contribute to the envisioned supply chain. India, which has a thriving IT industry but is heavily reliant on China for chips, has called for strengthening supply networks through the Quad alliance.

The Quad said it hopes the principles on technological development will “lead not only the region but the world towards responsible, open, high-standards innovation,” calling for the same principles to be adopted widely by the international community.

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