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U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Ramin Toloui visits ASU

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Ramin Toloui visited Arizona State University's Tempe campus Thursday to speak with representatives from semiconductor manufacturers about using funding from the 2022 CHIPS Act.

The department recently announced a partnership with ASU to strengthen the nation’s standing in the semiconductor industry, using the International Technology Security and Innovation Fund.

Toloui said securing the country’s place in the global semiconductor market is crucial, and the pandemic served as a serious reminder.

“Semiconductors are essential to the functioning of a modern economy,” said Toloui. "And when there are disruptions in the semiconductor supply chain, it affects everything from automobiles to household appliances to medical devices.”

The department’s focus, he added, will be expanding the domestic industry and strengthening that supply chain by working with partner countries.

“We've announced an initial set of partner countries that includes, here in the Western Hemisphere, Costa Rica and Panama,” Toloui said. "In Asia, Vietnam, the Philippines and Indonesia."

According to Toloui, they’ll start with a review of each country’s industry to tailor their approach to collaborating, and lean on ASU to develop solutions to improve them.

“We're really tapping into the technical and technological expertise of ASU,” he said. “And I think ASU not only has that technological expertise, but also experience in working in other countries and with other partners.”

The long-term benefits of these efforts to both expand the domestic semiconductor industry and work with partner countries to secure the international supply chain, said Toloui, will help the United States and its partner countries bounce back better from future disruptions with wide-reaching effects, like the pandemic.

“We want to dramatically increase the manufacturing capacity of the United States in semiconductors,” Toloui said. “But inevitably, we will still be linked to these global supply chains, and so making sure that we have these strong international partnerships is going to be important.”

Kirsten Dorman is a field correspondent at KJZZ. Born and raised in New Jersey, Dorman fell in love with audio storytelling as a freshman at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication in 2019.