ASML Says Chip System Export Licence For China Partially Revoked

ASML's TWINSCAN NXE:3400B semiconductor lithography tool. ASML chip

Dutch chip equipment maker says government partially revokes licence for export of DUV lithography systems to Chinese customers

Dutch semiconductor equipment maker ASML said on Tuesday the Netherlands’ government had partially revoked an export licence for the shipment of some of its relatively high-end systems to China, in a move that attracted a critical response from the Chinese government.

The Veldhoven, Netherlands-based company said a licence for the shipment of its NXT:2050i and NXT:2100i lithography systems had “recently been partially revoked by the Dutch government”.

ASML was trading more than 2 percent down on Tuesday afternoon GMT.

The systems affected are immersion deep ultraviolet (DUV) lithography machines, which are a grade below its top-end extreme ultraviolet (EUV) systems.

chip semiconductor asml
Image credit: Unsplash

High-end systems

ASML has been barred from selling EUV systems to China and has never sold one to a Chinese firm, but DUV systems were allowed for export without a licence.

That changed as of September 2023 when the Netherlands instituted new export controls, under pressure from the US, which had brought in similar controls for domestic firms in October 2022.

The US tightened its own controls in October 2023, while ally Japan also brought in controls on chipmaking equipment last year.

ASML said it had additionally received “further clarification of the scope and impact” of the latest round of US controls, which it said would affect sales of “mid-critical DUV immersion lithography systems” for a “limited number of advanced production facilities”.

China controls

The firm said it did not believe the partial revocation of the Dutch licence or the new US rules would have a material impact on its 2023 earnings.

For several years China has been ASML’s third-biggest market after Taiwan and South Korea, but it was the biggest in the third quarter of 2023, accounting for 46 percent of the firm’s sales as Chinese firms rushed to obtain equipment that might soon be affected by export rules.

China’s foreign ministry called on the Netherlands to “protect the common interests of both countries and their companies, and maintain the stability of international supply chains”.

The Dutch foreign ministry said it reviews export licence requests on a case-by-case basis on national security grounds.