US Official Confirms Japan, Netherlands Joined US China Chip Sanctions

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

American official acknowledges deal with Japan and the Netherlands for new restrictions on chip-making tool exports to China

The United States has commented on reports that the Netherlands and Japan has reached an agreement over fresh China export restrictions.

It was reported late last week that the Biden administration had reached a deal with the Netherlands and Japanese governments to place additional restrictions on exporting advanced chip-making equipment to China, following months of negotiations.

In Japan the controls would affect companies such as Nikon and Tokyo Electron, and in the Netherlands of course market leader ASML.

Tech risk

The agreement comes after US president Joe Biden met separately with Japanese prime minister Fumio Kishida and Dutch prime minister Mark Rutte last month.

Rutte said in a press conference last week that any agreement would be communicated to the public in a “very limited way” due to the “sensitive” nature of the subject matter.

The US had announced its latest round of export controls in October 2022, affecting domestic semiconductor equipment manufacturers such as Applied Materials, Lam Research and KLA.

Those companies said they were concerned they would lose market share if competitors in countries such as the Netherlands and Japan faced no similar controls.

The US measures were designed to hamper Beijing’s ability to ramp up its chip industry and enhance its military capabilities.

China has been building up its chip industry in recent years to reduce its dependence upon the West, but the US argues the trend presents a national security risk.

The Netherlands reportedly will prevent ASML from exporting to China at least some immersion lithography machines, the most advanced equipment in the company’s deep ultraviolet lithography line, while Japan is to place similar restrictions on Nikon, Bloomberg reported, citing unnamed sources.

Can’t talk about it

Now Reuters has reported an American official on Tuesday making the most direct comments by a US authority to date on the matter.

The official reportedly acknowledged the existence of a deal with Japan and the Netherlands for those countries to impose new restrictions on exports of chip-making tools to China.

“We can’t talk about the deal right now,” Deputy Commerce Department Secretary Don Graves reportedly said on the sidelines of an event in Washington. “But you can certainly talk to our friends in Japan and the Netherlands.”

The Commerce Department said in an email it will continue to co-ordinate on export controls with allies.

“We recognise that multilateral controls are more effective than unilateral controls, and foreign engagement on these controls is a … priority,” the agency said.