The Netherlands has introduced new regulations that limit the export of specific semiconductor manufacturing equipment, citing national security concerns as the reason. Although the move comes amid pressure from the United States to restrict the sale of computer chip technology to China, the Dutch government did not explicitly mention this as a motive. In response, the Chinese government expressed its disapproval, stating that the decision would negatively impact chip production and supply chains. China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman criticised the US for abusing export controls and attempting to create a technological blockade against China.
The United States and China are currently engaged in an arms race to control the supply of semiconductors, particularly in the fields of supercomputing and artificial intelligence. These chips have fueled a thriving $500 billion industry, projected to double by 2030. The control of chip supply chains, which encompass a network of companies and countries involved in chip manufacturing, is seen as crucial for achieving unrivalled superpower status.
In October of the previous year, the US imposed wide-ranging export restrictions on the shipment of American chipmaking tools to China, aiming to prevent their technology from strengthening China’s military capabilities. To effectively implement these restrictions, the US requires the cooperation of key suppliers like the Netherlands.
Under the new Dutch regulations, which will take effect on September 1st, the export of specific advanced semiconductor manufacturing equipment will require authorization. This decision will particularly impact ASML, the largest company in the Netherlands and the world’s leading and most advanced chip equipment manufacturer. ASML stated that it will continue to comply with relevant export regulations from the Netherlands, the European Union, and the United States, and it does not anticipate a significant financial impact from these measures.
Liesje Schreinemacher, the Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation, emphasised that certain chips can contribute to advanced military applications, posing potential national security risks if exported without control. Given the Netherlands’ prominent position in this field, the country assumes an additional responsibility. The export control policy aims to be neutral regarding specific countries.