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US Pushing Allies to Stop Servicing Advanced Chip Tools in China, BIS Official Says

The U.S. is pushing foreign governments to stop their semiconductor companies from servicing certain advanced chip tools under pre-existing contracts with Chinese customers, Bureau of Industry and Security Undersecretary Alan Estevez said.

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The agency is specifically looking to curb repair work or other servicing by foreign companies under contracts in place before the U.S. updated its semiconductor-related export controls last year (see 2310170055).

“These are discussions we’re having on where the red line should be drawn,” Estevez said during a March 27 press conference.

Estevez was asked whether other countries -- including the Netherlands, which houses major chip equipment maker ASML -- have the legal authority to impose those restrictions. "These are things that we work through, what their legal authorities are, what we can enforce on companies," he said.

BIS is speaking with allies “to determine what [equipment] is important to service and what is not important to service,” Estevez said, adding that the U.S. isn’t looking to restrict “routine servicing” that Chinese companies can do on their own.

“There’s no point in” trying to restrict routine servicing, Estevez said. “Some of it is way more complicated, and some of it involves more serious parts.” He said “you can conjecture about what those parts are,” but BIS is “pushing for not servicing of those key components.”

Bloomberg reported earlier this month that the U.S. was pressing the Netherlands to stop ASML from performing certain work under those contracts. Estevez said he thinks the U.S. will eventually convince its allies to move forward with those restrictions.

“These are discussions we're having with our allies, and we're going to have success in those discussions,” he said. “I always think I’m going to have success in discussions with our allies.”