An official in Washington has made direct comments with US officials so far agreeing to the existence of an agreement with Japan and the Netherlands for these countries to impose new restrictions on the export of chip manufacturing equipment to China.
“We can’t talk about the deal at this time,” said Don Graves, deputy secretary of the Commerce Department, on the sidelines of a ceremony in Washington. “But you can talk to our friends in Japan and the Netherlands.”
Bloomberg reported on Friday that the deal had been finalized and two people familiar with the matter confirmed the matter to Reuters.
The United States in October imposed restrictions on exports of chip-making equipment to China, aimed at curbing Beijing’s ability to expand its chip business and expand its military capabilities.
For the sanctions to be effective, Washington needed to bring in the Netherlands and Japan, home of chip makers ASML and Tokyo Electron, among others.
The Commerce Department said in an email that it will continue to coordinate export controls with foreign partners, calling it “advanced”. “We are realizing that multilateral regulation is more effective than unilateral regulation.
Officials from the Netherlands and Japan were in Washington discussing various issues at a meeting led by White House national security adviser Jake Sullivan on Friday.
Asked on Friday whether a deal on semiconductors had been discussed, US President Joe Biden said: “Yes, we talked a lot, but a lot of it is confidential.”
China’s semiconductor industry has been a major target of US sanctions. Beijing has invested in cultivating its domestic industry but its manufacturing facilities, known as fabs, still rely on foreign-made equipment.
SMIC, China’s largest fabricator, manufactures chips for automotive components, internet devices and other mobile phones.
The US placed SMIC on the Special Entity List in 2020 – preventing the Dutch company ASML from supplying ultraviolet lithography machines to SMIC.
YMTC is China’s only player in the global Nand Memory market – a highly competitive field dominated by several companies from the US and South Korea. It designs and manufactures chips and was added to the US Entity List in 2022.
YMTC unveiled a chip in 2022 with 232 layers of memory cells, putting it close to rivals such as South Korea’s Samsung. Experts say restrictions on the export of equipment could affect other jobs.
CXMT is the only major Chinese player that designs and manufactures Dram chips, which like Nand memory is a segment controlled by several companies in the United States, South Korea and Taiwan.