Thursday 30 March 2023

Dutch slap further restrictions on chip technology exports

An ASML cleanroom where a euv machine is being assembled. Photo: ASML

The cabinet has confirmed it is placing more restrictions on exporting microchip making machinery, after apparently responding to pressure from the US earlier in the year.

Foreign trade minister Liesje Schreinemacher told MPs in a briefing that the decision to restrict ASML exports was taken on ‘international and national security grounds’ to ensure sensitive technologies do not end up in the wrong hands.

The letter did not mention China but said the move was needed because of  ‘technological developments and the geopolitical context’.

The restrictions apply to ‘very specific technologies in the semi-conductor production cycle in which the Netherlands has a unique and leading position, such as the most advanced deep ultraviolet immersion lithography tools,’ the minister said.

Western countries are concerned that the chips which can be made using DUV may end up being used for military and advanced artificial intelligence applications. Each request for an export licence will be looked at individually, the minister said.

The Netherlands, US and Japan reached an agreement on export restrictions on chip technology at the end of January although details were sketchy at the time.

ASML said in a reaction it did not expect the restrictions would have a significant impact on the company’s financial outlook, because it only impacted the most advanced technology. The sale of ASML’s EUV tools has been restricted since 2019.

ASML makes the machines that etch circuit designs onto the world’s most advanced, smallest semiconductors and is one of the biggest tech firms in the world.

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