Two insiders told Bloomberg that senior United States officials will shortly travel to the Netherlands to discuss technology exports to China. The United States government wants to restrict sales of ASML’s lithography machines to Chinese customers.

The United States and China are engaged in a trade war. In recent months, the federal government imposed several bans on technology exports to China. The United States claims that the Chinese government uses imported technology for espionage. By banning exports, the federal government says it’s guarding national security.

The Netherlands is regularly involved in the trade war. Organizations like ASML and NXP play a major role in the global chip market, one of the export markets the United States seeks to restrict. United States officials visited the Netherlands on several occasions in recent years to find support for export bans. The results are mixed.

The Netherlands and China have a complex relationship. Diplomacy regularly changes, but in general, trade is encouraged. As a result, the United States has to lobby intensively to find support for its mission. Two insiders told Bloomberg that minister Don Graves and senior official Tarun Chhabra will soon travel to the Netherlands to discuss the export of Dutch technology to China.

ASML

Although it’s unclear who the delegation will be visiting, the talking points are set in stone. Sources expect Graves and Chhabra to broach the trade relationship between the Netherlands and China.

In October, ASML ended ties between its United States divisions and China under pressure from the federal government. In a memo, the organization informed its United States employees that collaborations with Chinese customers were no longer allowed.

This does not mean that ASML no longer does business with China. Although the United States succeeded in banning exports of advanced extreme ultraviolet (EUV) equipment, ASML continues to sell older deep ultraviolet (DUV) machines.

ASML sold about 250 DUV machines worldwide in 2020. Every DUV machine that ends up in China helps a Chinese company produce chips. That’s precisely what the United States wants to prevent.

Mixed results

Minister Don Graves visited ASML’s Dutch headquarters in May 2022 to discuss an export ban on DUV machines. So far, the visit has not produced the intended result.

The upcoming visit could go either way. Although the United States clearly has influence over ASML, the organization does business worldwide. The interests of customers and other governments play a role as well.