At the SemiconIndia Conference 2023, External Affairs Minister (EAM) S. Jaishankar underscored the significance of discerning “where and with whom” tech trade should take place. He emphasized that trading technology goes beyond mere commerce and encapsulates political considerations.
Presenting the Indian government’s vision for semiconductors, Dr. Jaishankar stressed India’s interactions with its Quad partners, including the U.S., Japan, and Australia. He asserted that India’s semiconductor ambitions surpass domestic needs, aiming to cater to global demands.
He elucidated that technology trade isn’t solely about commerce, but deeply intertwined with geopolitical dynamics. It reflects the reemergence of export controls due to strategic declarations of economic might. The principle guiding India’s efforts to establish an alternative semiconductor supply chain is to understand the strategic implications of trade partners.
Dr. Jaishankar emphasized that semiconductors, vital components in the digital age, have become the centerpiece of economic and geopolitical maneuverings, often termed as the ‘chip war’.
Noting the significance of maintaining a continuous semiconductor supply chain, he suggested that a self-sufficient India will inherently be self-reliant in semiconductor production. Although the notion of a ‘chip war’ might seem exaggerated, it indeed has a foundational essence of reality.
Dr. Jaishankar accentuated the role of Critical and Emerging Technologies (CET) as a pivotal measure of influence. Key questions of invention, manufacturing, market shares, resource allocation, skill sets, and talent sourcing are becoming increasingly essential, reflecting the classical political power perspectives presented by American political theorist Harold Lasswell.
Discussing India’s collaborations, Dr. Jaishankar mentioned specific commitments by U.S. firms, including Micron Technology, Lam Research, and Applied Materials. Further, the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on ‘Semiconductor Supply Chain’, signed between India and the U.S., and discussions during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s U.S. visit underlined the sector’s significance.
Highlighting the Minerals Security Partnership that India entered in June, he underscored its relevance in diversifying and fortifying supply chains, especially beneficial for emerging sectors such as electric vehicles and modern electronics.
He acknowledged Japan and Australia’s roles, alongside the U.S., in seeking alternative semiconductor supply chains. At a Quad leaders meeting in Hiroshima, a consensus on Critical and Emerging Technology Standards was established. The primary aim was to endorse tech standards emphasizing safety, security, and resilience. Such voluntary principles are devised to guide governments and entities in establishing suitable standards, with the Quad’s aspiration that numerous other countries would align with them. Dr. Jaishankar concluded by spotlighting the harmony between the technology policies of the Quad and India.