News from WECC Members

2 December 2016


EU Reaches Final Agreement on Conflict Minerals Regulation

Negotiators from the European Parliament, the Council of Ministers and the European Commission have reached a final agreement on the Conflict Minerals Regulation. For the past five months, the Council and the European Parliament have been working together to implement a June political agreement on conflict minerals regulation.

According to a press release from the EU Commission Directorate General of Trade, the regulation will ensure sustainable sourcing for more than 95% of all EU imports of tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold, which will be covered by due diligence provisions as of 1 January 2021.

A blog entry by EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström states that, “the agreed framework sets out clear, mandatory due diligence obligations for the critical so-called “upstream” part of the mineral supply chain, which includes those who import raw materials to smelting and refinery plants in the EU.”  Downstream operators who import refined, metal-stage products into the EU will also be covered by mandatory obligations.

The blog also mentions the development of reporting tools and standards to further boost due diligence in the supply chain, as well as setting up a transparency database. Through a review clause, there is also the possibility for the Commission to propose further mandatory obligations for the downstream supply chain if deemed necessary.

In the coming months and years, the Commission and Member States will work to make sure that the necessary structures are in place to ensure EU-wide implementation. Accompanying measures to provide support for importers, especially small and medium-sized enterprises, are also planned. Additionally, there will be a range of development aid and foreign policy actions to ensure the effectiveness of the regulation, and its positive impact on the ground. The agree regulation will now have to be formally adopted by the full European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.

IPC expect to have additional details within the next few days.

IPC Supports EU Skills Agenda

Agenda Seeks to Boost Jobs, Growth, Investment


 IPC – Association Connecting Electronics Industries® has issued a position paper, “The New EU Skills Agenda: Addressing the Skills Gap Facing the European Advanced Manufacturing Industry” in support of the EU Skills Agenda which seeks to improve the quality of European labour market.

           “IPC stands ready to work with the European Commission, the Member States and stakeholders to tackle our common challenges including the lack of relevant skills to match labor market needs, insufficient comparability of skills and qualifications, and the difficulty to anticipate skills that would be needed in the future,” said IPC President and CEO John Mitchell.  “Addressing the current skills gaps will have a multiplying effect — translating into more innovation, more growth, more competitiveness and more high-quality jobs in the EU.”

Attracting and retaining a skilled workforce has become an increasingly important factor of competitiveness in a globalized market place. Recruiting the necessary talent is a fundamental concern for the advanced manufacturing industry in Europe, which consists of more than 700,000 enterprises and employs more than 13 million people. “With 35 training centres across Europe that improve the skills of approximately 14,000 employees per year in the EU, as well as online training possibilities, IPC is a credible and reliable source for electronics education for the electronics industry,” Mitchell added.

           IPC presented its position on the EU Skills agenda today during its IMPACT Europe event in Brussels. For more information on IPC’s position paper, “The New EU Skills Agenda: Addressing the Skills Gap Facing the European Advanced Manufacturing Industry,” visit IPC’s website.

North American PCB Book-to-Bill Ratio Climbs to 1.08

IPC Releases PCB Industry Results for October 2016

IPC have announced the October 2016 findings from its monthly North American Printed Circuit Board (PCB) Statistical Program. The PCB book-to-bill ratio continued to strengthen, climbing to 1.08, while sales and orders were both down in October.

Total North American PCB shipments in October 2016 were 8.3 percent below the same month last year. Year-to-date as of October, shipment growth is up 2.8 percent. Compared to the preceding month, October shipments decreased 13.9 percent.

PCB bookings in October decreased 1.8 percent year-on-year, reducing year-to-date bookings growth to -0.1 percent. Compared to the previous month, orders in October 2016 were down by 12.3 percent.

“As a leading indicator, the book-to-bill ratio’s dip below parity (1.00) in June and July of this year anticipated last month’s downturn in sales,” said Sharon Starr, IPC’s director of market research. “The flip side of this, however, is that the current strong book-to-bill ratio indicates the probability of a return to growth later this year or in early 2017,” she added.

Detailed Data Available

The next edition of IPC’s North American PCB Market Report, containing detailed October data from IPC’s PCB Statistical Program, will be available next week. The monthly report presents detailed findings on rigid PCB and flexible circuit sales and orders, including separate rigid and flex book-to-bill ratios, growth trends by company size tiers, military and medical market growth, demand for prototypes, and other timely data. This report is available free to current participants in IPC’s PCB Statistical Program and by subscription to others. More information about this report can be found at


Interpreting the Data

The book-to-bill ratios are calculated by dividing the value of orders booked over the past three months by the value of sales billed during the same period from companies in IPC’s survey sample. A ratio of more than 1.00 suggests that current demand is ahead of supply, which is a positive indicator for sales growth over the next three to six months. A ratio of less than 1.00 indicates the reverse.

Year-on-year and year-to-date growth rates provide the most meaningful view of industry growth. Month-to-month comparisons should be made with caution as they reflect seasonal effects and short-term volatility. Because bookings tend to be more volatile than shipments, changes in the book-to-bill ratios from month to month might not be significant unless a trend of more than three consecutive months is apparent. It is also important to consider changes in both bookings and shipments to understand what is driving changes in the book-to-bill ratio.

IPC’s monthly PCB industry statistics are based on data provided by a representative sample of both rigid PCB and flexible circuit manufacturers selling in the USA and Canada. IPC publishes the PCB book-to-bill ratio at the end of each month. Statistics for the current month are normally available in the last week of the following month.

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