Connect with us


Dutch chip tool giant ASML warns of ongoing risks of US-China tensions



ASML, the largest supplier of equipment to computer chip makers, said on Wednesday that geopolitical tensions and any expansion of a US-led campaign to restrict its exports to China remain business risks.

In its annual report published on Wednesday, the Dutch company flagged the growing list of restrictions imposed by the United States, mostly with the assent of the Dutch government.

“The list of Chinese entities impacted by export control restrictions has increased since 2022,” the company wrote.

“The list of restricted customers and the scope of the restrictions are subject to change.”

The ASML headquarters. Photo: Bloomberg
In January, it said it expects US and Dutch export curbs to reduce sales of its mid-range immersion deep ultraviolet (DUV) product lines to China by about 10 per cent to 15 per cent this year, after they hit record levels in 2023.

Following a US-led campaign to slow Beijing’s technological and military advances, ASML has been restricted from selling its most advanced extreme ultraviolet (EUV) lithography tool line in China since 2019 and has never sold an EUV tool there.

For its part the Chinese government has been subsidising domestic chip-making in a bid for self-sufficiency, as it is a huge importer of chips for its own market and for its manufacturing industries.

ASML dominates the market for lithography systems, machines used to help create circuitry in one key step of the chip-making process.

In 2023, while many chip makers were slowing orders amid an industry slump, mainland China passed South Korea to become ASML’s second-largest market, representing 26.3 per cent of sales, with Taiwan remaining its largest at 29.3 per cent.

ASML noted that its list of competitors is growing beyond traditional rivalries with Canon and Nikon of Japan in its older core business, and non-lithography US firms Applied Materials and KLA.

“We also face competition from new competitors with substantial financial resources, as well as from competitors driven by the ambition of self-sufficiency in the geopolitical context.”

Continue Reading