The Biden administration has reached an agreement with the Netherlands and Japan to limit China’s access to advanced chip manufacturing equipment. According to Bloomberg, officials from the two countries agreed to implement some of the same export control measures the U.S. has used over the past year to prevent sales by companies such as NVIDIA of their latest technologies in China. The deal reportedly includes export controls over companies that make lithography systems, including ASML and Nikon.
Bloomberg reports that the US, the Netherlands and Japan do not plan to publicly announce the deal. At most, implementation could take months while countries work out the legal details.
“Talks are ongoing, for a long time already, but we don’t communicate about this. And if something would come out of this, it is questionable if this will be made very visible,” said Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, answering questions about the negotiations.
According to Bloomberg, the deal will cover at least some of ASML’s immersion lithography machines. As of last year, ASML was the only company in the world that produced ultraviolet lithography (EUV) machines, which chipmakers need to make the 5nm and 3nm semiconductors used in the latest smartphones and computers.
China’s cutoff from ASML products is an attempt by the Biden administration to freeze the country’s domestic chip industry. Last summer, Chinese state media reported that SMIC, China’s top semiconductor maker, had started mass production of 14nm chips and had successfully started making 7nm silicon without access to foreign chip manufacturing equipment. China has said that SMIC is working to produce semiconductors with a topological size of 5nm, but it is unclear how the company will do this without access to EUV machines.