ASML, the Netherlands-based producer of the world’s most advanced lithography systems (chip-making equipment), has asserted that it is capable of fulfilling its contracts with Chinese customers before the end of this year, according to Bloomberg, despite the Dutch government’s new export control measures for chip-manufacturing equipment coming into effect on September 1. Under the new regulations, Dutch companies need to apply for export licenses from Dutch customs in advance if they intend to export certain high-end semiconductor-related items outside the EU. A spokesperson from ASML added that the company cannot obtain export licenses to export these products to China in 2024.

Why it matters: ASML’s commitment to fulfilling its China orders up to the end of the year will help ease some of the pressure on the country’s chip sector, which has been the subject of a series of stringent export control measures on semiconductor-related items from first the US and subsequently Europe and Japan. From January next year, the export ban on ASML’s advanced DUV (deep ultraviolet) equipment is expected to have a far-reaching impact on China’s domestic semiconductor industry chain.

Details: On June 30, the Dutch government officially introduced new semiconductor export controls, with the measures set to take effect on September 1, 2023. Prior to this date, ASML was permitted to submit export license applications to the Dutch government.

  • On August 31, ASML said that the company owned licenses to ship restricted chip-making machines to China until the end of the year, despite the new export restrictions coming into effect in September. Industry observers have therefore speculated that ASML had already applied for export licenses in advance. 
  • ASML is the exclusive EUV (extreme ultraviolet) lithography supplier for chip-making below 7nm, according to a report from TMTpost. The company’s most advanced EUV products were already banned from being exported to China even before the Dutch government’s new regulations. Instead, ASML mainly exports DUV lithography for chip-making above 7nm. However, in 2024, the firm will discontinue the export of DUV equipment to China since it is unlikely that new licenses will be approved by the Dutch government beyond the end of this year.
  • On July 19, ASML announced its second-quarter financial report for 2023. Sales to China accounted for 24% of ASML’s total revenue in the second quarter, representing an increase of 200% year-on-year, according to the company’s financial report.
  • CEO Peter Wennink stated on an earnings call that the new export control measures were unlikely to have a significant impact on the company’s revenue performance in 2023.

Context: At present, China’s import of lithography equipment depends heavily on the Netherlands. In response to new restrictions in 2024, China may increase its imports in the remaining four months of this year. However, this is clearly not a long-term solution.

  • China’s lithography imports reached $3.96 billion in 2022, with the Netherlands accounting for 64.3% ($2.54 billion) of this total, according to data from China Customs. From January to July in 2023, lithography imports from the Netherlands amounted to $2.58 billion, marking a significant increase of 64.8% year-on-year.

Jessie Wu is a tech reporter based in Shanghai. She covers consumer electronics, semiconductor, and the gaming industry for TechNode. Connect with her via e-mail: