ASML, a Dutch semiconductor equipment manufacturer, says “rules are being finalised” on export controls, amid reports that the Netherlands and Japan have joined the US in restricting sales of certain computer chip machinery to China.
“It is our understanding that steps have been taken toward an agreement between governments,” the company said late Friday in response to a question about export controls to China.
“Before it takes effect, it must be detailed out and incorporated into legislation, which will take time.”
ASML is well-known for its expertise in the manufacture of lithography machines, which use light to print patterns on silicon. According to the company, this step is critical in the mass production of microchips.
The company’s response came as Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, and the Financial Times reported over the weekend that the US had persuaded the Netherlands and Japan, citing anonymous sources, to agree to limit exports of certain chipmaking equipment to China.
A deal was reached at the White House on Friday, though it was not officially announced, owing in part to “concerns by Japan and the Netherlands about potential retaliation by China,” according to the Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter.
Tensions are rising.
ASML has been cited by experts as a bellwether of the growing schism between China and the West over access to advanced technology due to its market dominance.
According to Xiaomeng Lu, director of geo-technology at the Eurasia Group, the Dutch government has recently faced pressure from the US to limit chip-related exports to China, particularly from ASML.
According to the company’s Friday statement, based on what government officials have said and current market conditions, it does not expect any material impact on its financial projections for 2023.
However, ASML stated that its understanding of the new rules was still limited, making it difficult to forecast “the medium and long-term financial, organisational, and global industry-wide impact of new export control rules.”
“While these rules are finalised, ASML will continue to engage with authorities to inform them about the potential impact of any proposed rule in order to assess the impact on the global semiconductor supply chain,” the company said.
It stated that it primarily sold “mature” products to China, and that its most advanced lithography technology has been restricted since 2019.