Several Dutch lawmakers on Tuesday challenged the Netherlands’ Trade Minister over whether the U.S. acted correctly in unilaterally imposing new rules regulating the export to China of another chipmaking machine made by Europe’s largest tech firm.
In October, the White House blocked Chinese access to equipment needed to make advanced semiconductor chips that could be used in weapons or for the ruling Communist Party’s surveillance apparatus. Washington also has been lobbying European and Asian allies to tighten their controls. The Netherlands, whose ASML is the world’s leading maker of chipmaking machines, has been one of the first to respond. After a White House pressure campaign, the company has stopped shipping its most advanced machines to China since 2019, but it is still allowed to sell lower-quality systems.
Last week, Trade Minister Liesje Schreinemacher told Parliament the Cabinet was not opposed to the new U.S. rules affecting Europe’s ASML but that “this should be tackled in a much more European way.” She said that the Dutch government wants the E.U. to agree on standard export control rules for these high-tech devices. “This should happen quickly, before the end of the year at the latest,” she added, though a date for the talks has not yet been set.
But on Tuesday, she told a parliamentary debate that the Dutch government would not simply accept the new U.S. restrictions and is seeking to coordinate with Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Germany, and France. “We want to make sure that if we put something on the list of products that can’t easily be exported, other countries do the same,” she said. ASML supplies a few of the most advanced machines, known as extreme ultraviolet, or EUV, to manufacturers worldwide. Its more advanced deep ultraviolet, or DUV, equipment can be used to produce more sophisticated semiconductor chips. Those can be used for applications including artificial intelligence, self-driving cars, and quantum computing.
While the letter did not name China or ASML, Schreinemacher said the United States had “justified worries” about over-reliance on Asia, where 80% of advanced chips are made, and the threat that they could wind up in military applications or being used against the Netherlands. She cited the example of Japan, where Tokyo Electron () and Nikon, which produces laser technology, have agreed to limit exports of their top-selling machines to prevent them from being sold to China.
“The ramifications can be massive,” said Tobias Gehrke, a senior fellow on geoeconomics at the Berlin-based think tank European Council for Foreign Relations. “If you restrict the export of a certain machine to one country, then other countries have to do the same, or they will lose market share.” The United States’ restrictions affect only some of ASML’s DUV equipment, but that could change as the White House presses for other nations to follow suit. ASML has been in business for over 50 years and has about 4,300 employees. Its stock has lost more than 40% of its value this year.