US Denies Restricting AI Chip Sales To Middle East


US government official denies AMD and Nvidia claims they are being denied permission to sell AI chips to Middle East

A US government official has denied claims by two leading AI chip firms that US export restrictions had been expanded to certain countries in the Middle East.

Earlier this week Reuters reported that Nvidia had in a regulatory filing alleged that the curbs, which affect its A100 and H100 chips, would not have an “immediate material impact” on its results.

Rival AMD also received a letter with similar restrictions, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters, adding that the move has no material impact on its revenue.

US denial

Since last year exports of AMD’s MI250 artificial-intelligence chips and Nvidia’s A100 and H100 chips to China have been restricted.

The United States usually imposes export controls for national security reasons.

The restrictions target China’s rapidly developing artificial intelligence industry and its ability to use cutting-edge technology such as supercomputers to develop military applications such as nuclear weapons or hypersonic missiles.

It is not immediately clear what risks are posed by exports to the Middle East.

However a US official has denied that AI chip exports to the Middle East are being restricted.

The Biden administration “has not blocked chip sales to the Middle East,” a US Department of Commerce spokesperson told Reuters on Thursday.

The Commerce Department declined to comment on whether it had imposed new requirements on specific US companies.

Neither Nvidia nor AMD immediately returned requests for comment on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Middle East

The new rules would require Nvidia to seek licenses before selling its flagship chips to some Middle Eastern countries, the Nvidia filing had said.

Neither Nvidia nor AMD have disclosed whether they have applied for such licenses and whether they have been approved or denied.

Many of the US curbs on technology exports to China amount to a blanket denial of all licenses, Reuters noted.

Chinese response

Beijing has not taken kindly to the US export restrictions, and has asked the WTO to step in and investigate the US export restrictions.

In May China banned the use of memory chips from US firm Micron in “critical national infrastructure” citing security risks.

Later that same month, Chinese Commerce Minister Wang Wentao urged Japan to halt its semiconductor export controls, calling it a “wrongdoing” that “seriously violated” international economic and trade rules.

In July China ordered export restrictions on two elements critical for manufacturing semiconductors and communications equipment.

The Chinese Ministry of Commerce said that gallium and germanium would be subject to export restrictions to “safeguard national security and interests”.

Days after that a former Chinese commerce minister and trade policy adviser warned that Beijing’s retaliation was just a start in the dispute.