Michael J. Kelly
The JTEC panel report Electronics Manufacturing and Packaging in Japan (Boulton 1995) described the competitive advantages Japan has in electronics. When the study was conducted, it became evident that Japan, as well as the United States, was beginning to feel increased competitive pressure from other Asian countries. In particular, the newly industrialized nations, sometimes referred to as the four "tigers," Korea (i.e., the Republic of Korea), Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Singapore, were becoming a primary source of electronics manufacturing and, increasingly, of research and development. Malaysia may now be included in the list of rapidly industrialized Asian tigers that have strongly competitive electronics capabilities, and China is close behind, with even greater potential for economic strength.
As Henry Luce put it in 1941, the 20th century has been the "American century" (Luce 1941). The 21st century may well be the Asian (or Pacific) century. In addition to the established strength of Japan, the five Asian tigers and China are on a path that will make them world economic powers within 20 years, and expectations are that East Asia's percentage of the world economy will grow from 25% to 50% over the same time period. In an effort to better understand the dynamic developments among the five tigers and their Asian partners and their potential impact on U.S. competitiveness, the World Technology Evaluation Center (WTEC) at Loyola College organized this study of electronics manufacturing in the Pacific Rim as a follow-on to its 1994/5 study of Japan's electronics capabilities. Supporting this study were the National Science Foundation, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the U.S. National Electronics Manufacturing Initiative, and U.S. industry. The study had six goals: