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Dutch government further restricts export of Dutch chip machines to China. ASML is allowed to export less advanced chip machines to China.

This writes Foreign Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher in a letter to the House of Representatives. The minister called it a matter of national security in conversation with De Telegraaf. The move is not a surprise. The United States pressured the Dutch government to restrict deliveries.

Schreinemacher states that she wants to prevent Dutch equipment from being used for military applications. In addition, she argues that the Netherlands wants to reduce its strategic dependence on China.

Advanced old machines

The new restrictions come on top of the already existing ban that stipulates that state-of-the-art chip machines are not allowed to go to China. Now some of the older chip machines will also come under the licensing requirement. As a result, ASML can no langer export these to China anymore either.

“The additional national export control measures concern very specific technologies in the semiconductor production cycle in which the Netherlands has a unique and leading position, such as the most advanced Deep Ultra Violet (DUV) immersion lithography and deposition,” Schreinemacher writes.

The cabinet wants to try to get the new export restriction in place before summer.

ASML does not expect major impact

ASML has previously commented on the measure. Indeed, there has been international talk for some time about a possible export ban on the machines. The U.S., in particular, exerted pressure to counter a technological advance by China. During a visit by Prime Minister Rutte to President Biden, the issue was still on the agenda.

When ASML presented its financial results in late January, it was clear that the company has no reasons to worry about sales performance in 2023. Worldwide demand for the machines is high, and the order book for this year is full.

Commenting on the new decision, ASML said it will take time until the restrictions are legislated and take effect. “Based on today’s announcement, our expectation of the Dutch government’s licensing policy and the current market situation, we do not expect these measures to have a material effect on our financial outlook we have published for 2023 or on our longer-term scenarios as announced during our Investor Day in November last year,” ASML said.

In addition, ASML stressed that the additional restrictions do not apply to all lithography tools. Only what is referred to as “most advanced” are affected. “While ASML has not received additional information on the exact definition of ‘most advanced,’ ASML interprets this to mean ‘critical immersion’ which ASML defined in our Capital Markets Day as the TWINSCAN NXT:2000i and subsequent immersion systems.”

Finally, the statement explicitly cites that EUV tool sales have already been limited since 2019.

Tip: ASML CEO foresees risk of intellectual property theft