US, Japanese, and Dutch semiconductor equipment export values to China dropped; more substantial strategies demanded by expert

Misha Lu, DIGITIMES Asia, Taipei 0

Credit: Bloomberg

Owing to the US-coordinated chip sanctions on China, the US, Japan, and the Netherlands have seen a significant drop in the total export value of semiconductor equipment to China.

Official Chinese estimations have also reflected a drop. As reported by Nikkei, citing a senior official in the Japanese semiconductor industry, Japan's export value of semiconductor equipment to China has seen an annual decrease of 16% in fourth-quarter 2022, while the US and the Netherlands have respectively seen an annual decrease of 50% and 44% in the same period. In contrast, exports of semiconductor equipment to countries other than China have increased, with Japan and the US seeing a 26% and 10% growth, respectively.

On the other hand, according to Chinese customs data, China's imports of semiconductor equipment will decrease by 15% annually in 2022 to only US$34.7 billion.

Though the Netherlands and Japan have yet to unveil the exact export control measures, the export control has already left its marks. For example, in fourth-quarter 2022, Tokyo Electron saw the revenue share from China dropping by 5 ppt year-on-year, falling to 22%.

Apart form the US-coordinated export controls, the sharp decline in China-bound equipment exports can be partly attributed to China's previous anti-covid policy, which stagnated logistics and production, resulting in a decline in equipment investment in China's semiconductor industry. From the second half of 2022, the global semiconductor market showed signs of recessions, which also depressed the investment in semiconductor equipment.

Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) announced on March 10 that it will inform Japan's restrictive measures based on the export restrictive measures proposed by the Netherlands. The Japanese government is currently negotiating with the semiconductor equipment industry for specific measures.

According to Dr. Frans-Paul van der Putten, a senior research fellow at the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael partly backed by the Dutch Ministry of Defense, it is essential that the Dutch government is clear about the long-term aims for its policy on semiconductor technology, that it communicates clearly about these aims, and that they are firmly grounded in Dutch and EU's China strategies.

"These strategies need to be considerably more substantial and robust than they currently are," said van der Putten. "Without such an approach, the Netherlands, and the EU as a whole, are likely to get deeply involved in a US-China technology and geopolitical confrontation without being able to steer their own course."