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China's Export Restrictions Add to the Strain in the Global Chip Industry

Published: 8.10.2023

China has adjusted export regulations concerning two important materials used in chip manufacturing, namely gallium and germanium. This move is aimed at safeguarding its domestic chip industry from foreign competition.

As a major producer of these materials, China seeks to limit foreign access, potentially causing higher prices and supply shortages. These restrictions may have ripple effects on the global chip industry, which is already grappling with supply constraints.

This action is also indicative of the growing economic rivalry between China and the United States, as China aims to decrease its reliance on semiconductor imports from the US, the largest chip market worldwide. China has previously imposed tariffs on imported semiconductors and prohibited the export of certain chipmaking equipment.

These measures have prompted concerns among foreign chipmakers who perceive China's actions as an attempt to suppress competition. However, China asserts that these steps are essential to uphold national security.

The recent implementation of tightened export restrictions on gallium and germanium is expected to have far-reaching implications, although a comprehensive understanding of its full impact remains elusive. Nevertheless, several likely market consequences are poised to emerge:

  1. Surging Prices: With foreign chipmakers encountering obstacles in accessing these critical materials from China, a notable escalation in prices is anticipated.
  2. Shortages and Disruptions: The imposed restrictions may exacerbate shortages leading to significant disruptions in the global chip industry.
  3. Altered Supply Chains: Foreign chip manufacturers are likely to proactively explore alternative sources for acquiring gallium and germanium, necessitating adjustments in the global chip supply chains.
  4. Intensified Competition: In a bid to lessen dependence on Chinese materials, chipmakers may intensify competition by exploring new avenues and suppliers.

The ramifications of these export restrictions extend beyond mere price fluctuations, with potential ripple effects likely to impact the entire semiconductor industry. While the full extent of these implications remains to be seen, market participants are closely monitoring the situation as it unfolds.

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