Japanese and Dutch officials in US to discuss chips

The two major chipmaking countries are considering a deal with the U.S. to limit tech exports to China.
Alex Willemyns for RFA
Japanese and Dutch officials in US to discuss chips Employees work on the final assembly of ASML Holding’s semiconductor lithography tool used in the production of computer chips, in Veldhoven, Netherlands, April 4, 2019.
Bart van Overbeeke Fotografie/ASML/Handout via Reuters

Officials from Japan and the Netherlands, two of the world’s biggest microchip exporters, are in Washington for talks on a trilateral deal to limit sales of key technology to China, a top official said Friday.

The meeting comes amid a report from Bloomberg that a deal was nearing completion. Cooperation from the two countries – which together with the United States produce the bulk of the world’s high-end chipmaking fabrication technology – is being sought by the Biden administration to give teeth to its unilateral export bans.

U.S. officials have expressed confidence the two countries would eventually come on board with export controls, which if implemented would effectively end Beijing’s ability to produce the most cutting-edge chips needed for military and artificial-intelligence purposes.

National Security Council spokesman John Kirby confirmed in a press briefing on Friday that National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan was hosting officials from both countries for talks in Washington, but said he could not confirm that a binding agreement was near.

“Officials from the Netherlands and from Japan are here in D.C. for a couple of days worth of discussions being led by the national security adviser,” Kirby said. “They are talking about a range of issues that are important to all three of us, and certainly the safety and security of emerging technologies is going to be on that agenda.”

“I certainly would leave it to the Japanese and to the Dutch to decide for themselves how they want to characterize these discussions,” he added. “We're grateful that they were able to come to D.C.”

The U.S. export ban is considered by many experts to be toothless without Dutch and Japanese help, with American industry leaders saying Chinese firms could simply switch to buying from producers in either, undercutting the policy while harming American firms.

Beijing, meanwhile, has slammed the Biden administration’s broader efforts to decouple its chipmaking industry from China’s, which includes subsidies to reshore chipmaking in the United States, calling it protectionist and part of a “Cold War mentality.”

But U.S. officials say controlling access to high-end chipmaking technology is a national security priority, and note lower-end chips used in consumer products and computers are not impacted.

Edited by Malcolm Foster.


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