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US industry group calls for multilateral chip export controls to address disadvantage over S. Korea, other allies

Feb. 1, 2024 - 09:16 By Yonhap
Semiconductor chips are seen on a printed circuit board. (Reuters-Yonhap)

An American industry group has called on the US government to craft new multilateral chip equipment export controls, claiming the current strict unilateral ones put US firms at a disadvantage over their rivals from South Korea and other countries.

The Semiconductor Industry Association made the call in their written comments sent to the Bureau of Industry and Security under the Commerce Department on Jan. 17, as it stressed the need for the new controls to ensure what it called a "level playing field."

"SIA maintains that multilateral controls are more effective than unilateral controls and that they ensure that US companies are not placed at a disadvantage in the global marketplace," it said.

The association pointed out that US standalone rules impose end-use controls and prohibitions on US support for advanced fabrication facilities in China, which they argue undermine the competitiveness of US semiconductor manufacturing equipment companies.

"This means that US companies are unable to export any semiconductor manufacturing equipment ... to advanced fabrication facilities in China," it said. "By contrast, foreign competitors from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Israel and the Netherlands may export equipment not subject to list-based controls to advanced fabs in China, as well as to support such equipment."

SIA requested that BIS do "all that is possible" to make the new controls.

"Every dollar earned by our non-US competitors because of the existence of US unilateral controls, regardless of licensing policies, is invested in their research and development efforts that could ultimately lead to the erosion of US semiconductor leadership," it said.

Meanwhile, Alan Estevez, under secretary of commerce for industry and security, said last month that the United States, South Korea and other allies are in "preliminary" talks over the idea of creating a new export control regime to prevent cutting-edge technologies, including semiconductors and quantum computing, from being transferred to potential adversaries.

He said that a new regime on those technologies is needed as existing multilateral regimes do not operate at the current pace of rapid technological change. (Yonhap)