Paul van Gerven
16 November 2020

The inauguration of Joe Biden as president won’t end American efforts to block the sale of ASML’s EUV scanners to Chinese companies. Quite to the contrary, Washington sources told NRC Handelsblad (link in Dutch) that new restrictions have been lined up, should the Dutch government decide to grant an export license for the world’s most advanced lithography scanner after all.

Currently, ASML’s export license is withheld with an appeal on the Wassenaar Arrangement, which controls Western exports of goods and technology that potentially have military uses. Following US diplomatic pressure, the Dutch government didn’t renew the license 1.5 years ago and still hasn’t granted one. If it does, the US will move to block the sale by other means, according to NRC.

ASML building 2
Credit: ASML

The US would pursue the same method it used to cut off Huawei from TSMC’s chip manufacturing services: by enforcing export controls on foreign-produced goods if they contain more than a certain percentage of US-origin technology. Currently, ASML’s EUV scanners don’t qualify as ‘American enough’, but the US could simply lower the percentage.

On Sunday, ASML CEO Peter Wennink said in the TV program “Buitenhof” (link in Dutch) that he doesn’t expect a big course change in American China policy once Biden takes the helm, although he hopes that the president-elect will be more open to international dialogue.