Money Trails

Should governments subsidize electronics manufacturing?

A simple question, with no simple answer.

Some call it smart investments. Others deem it corporate welfare.

In the US, reams of domestic trade groups — including NAM, IPC, and the erstwhile EIA — annually spend hundreds of thousands of dollars of their members’ dues trying to convince government to allocate funds their members’ way. Some states offer grants, tax breaks or rebates for worker training and equipment buys.

China offers enormous tax breaks, shipping subsidies, training grants and other financial assistance.

In Canada, provinces commonly set aside ample funds to aid manufacturers looking to add new equipment. Consider how much easier life would be for the typical small EMS company if someone else wrote the check for a new placement machine. But then again, that money comes from somewhere: other companies, perhaps in other industries, and of course, you and me.


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About Mike

Mike Buetow is president of the Printed Circuit Engineering Association ( He previously was editor-in-chief of Circuits Assembly magazine, the leading publication for electronics manufacturing, and PCD&F, the leading publication for printed circuit design and fabrication. He spent 21 years as vice president and editorial director of UP Media Group, for which he oversaw all editorial and production aspects. He has more than 30 years' experience in the electronics industry, including six years at IPC, an electronics trade association, at which he was a technical projects manager and communications director. He has also held editorial positions at SMT Magazine, community newspapers and in book publishing. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois. Follow Mike on Twitter: @mikebuetow