Two rare minerals required for the production of semiconductors were no longer exported by China in August, a month after Beijing restricted exports abroad under the pretext of national security.
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According to the Critical Raw Materials Alliance, China produces roughly 60% of the world’s germanium and nearly 80% of the world’s gallium, yet last month, none of the elements were sold on international markets, according to data from Chinese customs provided on Wednesday. 5.15 metric tonnes of forged gallium products and 8.1 metric tonnes of forged germanium products were exported by the nation in July.
He Yadong, a spokesperson for China’s commerce ministry, said during a press conference on Thursday that the department had received requests from businesses to export the two products when questioned about the lack of exports last month.
The restrictions show China’s apparent readiness to respond to US export restrictions, despite worries about the economy’s development, as a tech war simmers.
The second-largest economy in the world is already struggling with a housing crisis and weak domestic demand. The nation’s exports dropped by the most in more than three years in a month, dealing its sputtering economy another setback.
Export restrictions, according to analysts, are a “double-edged sword” that might harm the Chinese economy and hasten the movement of supply chains outside.
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Although China may be the market leader in producing the two commodities, there are other producers and available substitutes for both, according to Eurasia Group researchers in a research paper published in July. At home, the effects of the export collapse are already apparent. Gallium prices have decreased in China as a result of stockpiling brought on by export restrictions.
According to data from the Shanghai Metal Market, the spot price of gallium on Thursday was 1,900 yuan ($260) per metric tonne, down roughly 20% from early July.
Due to the limited supply, the current price of germanium has marginally risen, rising to 10,050 yuan ($1,376) per metric tonne on Thursday.
Beijing declared in July that the two substances, which are used in many goods, including solar panels and computer chips, would be subject to export restrictions to safeguard the nation’s “national security and interests.”
Exporters would have to request a special permit beginning August 1 in order to send them outside of the nation.
Beijing retaliated by looking into US chipmaker Micron’s cybersecurity in April before forbidding it from doing business with Chinese firms engaged in important infrastructure projects.
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After Huawei unveiled the Mate 60 Pro smartphone last month, which sent shockwaves through the tech industry, more chip limitations from Washington may be on the way.
The model is driven by a cutting-edge chip that was developed in violation of US sanctions meant to prevent the Chinese tech giant from accessing such technology.
According to Jefferies analysts in a research note published on Monday, the launch of the Mate 60 Pro has “created political pressure” for the US to tighten penalties against Huawei and Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp. (SMIC), the Chinese chipmaker thought to have produced the semiconductor.
In the fourth quarter, they continued, “We anticipate Biden to focus on tightening the [chips] ban against China.”
Source: Cosmo Politian