Major semiconductor companies are preparing for a last-ditch effort to prevent new US restrictions on semiconductor exports to China. According to Bloomberg, the heads of Intel, Qualcomm and NVIDIA will fly to Washington next week for talks with officials from US President Joe Biden’s (Joe Biden) administration and US lawmakers.
According to the publication’s sources, the heads of leading American semiconductor companies plan to oppose the expansion of restrictions on the sale of certain types of chips and equipment for their production to China, which the Biden administration intends to enact in the coming weeks. While business leaders don’t expect all new measures to be lifted, companies are trying to find an opportunity to convince the Biden team that further escalation in this market will only prevent a more productive relationship with the Middle Kingdom.
As you know, semiconductor companies are at the heart of the conflict between Washington and Beijing. The US owns the rights to many advanced technologies and believes that restricting China’s access to semiconductors and tools for their production will strengthen US national security and prevent China from advancing technologically, particularly in the military direction. Meanwhile, semiconductor companies are confident that even a partial exit from such a large market will limit their ability to invest in technology improvements and will only undermine US semiconductor leadership.
According to Bloomberg, Qualcomm generates more than 60% of its revenue in China by supplying SoCs and other components to smartphone makers. For Intel, China is the largest sales region, accounting for about a quarter of the company’s total sales. After all, NVIDIA gets a fifth of its revenue from China.
Last October, the US Department of Commerce issued new regulations that expanded the list of chip-making equipment that could not be shipped to China and banned the export of certain types of high-performance chips, particularly for AI applications. This is how manufacturers of devices like Applied Materials or chips themselves like NVIDIA lost billions of dollars, even taking into account the fact that some products can be exported with permission. At the same time, US House officials are concerned about the “unpatriotic” nature of companies calling for export controls on advanced technologies and products to be relaxed when they need to be tightened.
It is known that the Biden administration intends to update and tighten export restrictions. It was previously reported that the US authorities are using the leverage at their disposal to ensure that companies from other countries also comply with the sanctions, particularly unique semiconductor manufacturers such as ASML from the Netherlands. These are in particular devices whose components are manufactured in the USA. It is also known that the Dutch authorities, at the request of their American colleagues, intend to introduce supplements to the export control regulations, due to which it will not even be possible to supply China with equipment for the manufacture of semiconductors quite a mature process technology and, no less important, to China. Fix what you’ve already bought.