[News] China’s Chip Equipment Imports Surge 14% to Nearly USD 40 Billion in 2023

2024-01-23 Semiconductors editor

As companies increased their investments in 2023, the Chinese semiconductor industry actively expanded, leading to a substantial increase in the import volume of China’s chip manufacturing equipment.

According to Bloomberg’s report citing official Chinese customs data, the import value of equipment used in the production of computer chips in China surged by 14% in 2023, reaching nearly USD 40 billion. This marks the second-highest import value recorded since 2015, indicating that Chinese semiconductor companies are rapidly investing in new fabs. This effort is expected to aim at enhancing capabilities and circumventing export controls imposed by the United States and its allies.

In 2023, before the implementation of new export controls, China experienced a sharp increase in the import of semiconductor equipment from the Netherlands.

Due to companies rushing to make purchases before the implementation of restrictive measures in the Netherlands, the import value of photolithography equipment from the country in December 2023, as per IJIWEI’s report, saw an almost 1000% year-on-year increase, reaching USD 1.1 billion.

Even before these restrictions took effect, Dutch company ASML complied with the U.S. government’s request to halt the shipment of certain high-end equipment to China.

In early January 2024, ASML reported that the Dutch government partially revoked previously issued licenses for the shipment of NXT:2050i and NXT:2100i lithography machines in 2023. This is expected to have an impact on specific customers in China.

Despite restrictions on China’s advanced process technology deployment, the main reason for its substantial purchases of semiconductor equipment lies in its efforts to break through in mature manufacturing processes.

According to a recent TrendForce’s data, China currently has 44 operational semiconductor fabs, with an additional 22 under construction. By the end of 2024, 32 Chinese wafer fabs will expand their capacity for 28-nanometer and older mature chips.

TrendForce predicts that by 2027, China’s share of mature process capacity in the global market will increase from 31% in 2023 to 39%, with further growth potential if equipment procurement progresses smoothly.

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(Photo credit: ASML)

Please note that this article cites information from IJIWEI and Bloomberg