Samsung gets a one-year exemption from new US chip restrictions in China

The groundbreaking ceremony for a Samsung chip production line in Xi’an, China in 2018.


Yonhap News/Zuma Press

SEOUL— Samsung Electronics Co.

has been granted a one-year exemption from new U.S. restrictions barring exports of advanced chips and related equipment to China, according to people familiar with the matter, joining a list of American-allied semiconductor giants that have received an exemption.

The U.S. Commerce Department has authorized Samsung to continue receiving chip-making equipment and other items needed to maintain memory chip production in China, the people said. The South Korean company operates chip facilities in two Chinese cities.

Samsung, the world’s largest memory chip maker by revenue, has not said publicly whether it received a one-year exemption like rival SK Hynix Inc.

and Intel Corp.

have revealed. A Samsung spokesman declined to comment.

The Biden administration is working to bring allies into compliance with the new rules, which were unveiled Friday. The restrictions appeared to offer at least one concession to some of the allies, as the Commerce Department would consider applications for certain exports to US and US-allied facilities operating in China on a case-by-case basis. Chinese facilities, by contrast, would face a presumption of refusal.

Exemptions for a variety of semiconductor and chip equipment makers from the US or allied countries are widely expected by industry officials.

Samsung dominates the production of two main types of memory chips – DRAM and NAND flash. The South Korean tech giant operates a NAND flash memory chip factory in Xi’an and a chip packaging facility in Suzhou.

As of the second quarter of this year, Samsung accounted for 43.5 percent of global DRAM revenue and about a third of global NAND flash revenue, according to TrendForce, a Taiwan-based technology market researcher. It is the No. 1 player in both memory markets.

Write to Jiyoung Sohn at [email protected] and Asa Fitch at [email protected]

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