A new world order is taking shape before our eyes. The Covid-19 pandemic showed the extent to which great powers are dependent on strategic products. The persistent shortage of semiconductors, essential to our daily lives, is reshaping geopolitical relations, fuelling inflation and increasing tensions between America and China.
It is estimated that 10 million cars worldwide were not produced in 2021 because manufacturers did not have enough semiconductors. From the computer to the toaster via our tablets and our refrigerators, microprocessors or semiconductors equip all our daily devices. They are of national strategic importance powering all advanced military and civilian technologies. Yet while demand for the quantity and quality of semiconductors has been growing, the amount of places they are produced has been shrinking. Only a few countries have the specialised knowledge and ability to produce cutting-edge chips with 63% of all chips produced in Taiwan.
That one island, which is already on the frontline of a superpower struggle between the US and China, dominates production means that the world’s economies are dependent on the stability of Taiwan. So what can be done to secure microprocessors? And how is the battle for semiconductors already affecting our daily lives?