China clamped down on global shipments of gallium and germanium products for a second consecutive month in September amid an escalating chip war with the United States.
China’s exports of wrought germanium products stood at 1 kilogram, versus zero in August, customs data showed on Friday.
At the same time, the country exported no wrought gallium products in September, just like in August. It had exported 5.57 tons of the metal in the same month last year.
Both gallium and germanium are key to chipmaking, and Chinese exporters of the metals now need to obtain an export licence for dual-use items and technologies — meaning those with potential military and civilian applications.
Those restrictions came into effect in August, as part of Beijing’s tit-for-tat export controls, following Washington’s curbs on advanced chip and chipmaking equipment shipments to China.
When Beijing announced the restrictions in July, it triggered a a flurry of buying in the two metals. Chinese shipments of wrought germanium products surge to 8.63 metric tons in July.
In August, after China completely cut-off shipments of gallium and germanium, some exporters complained that they were unable to get licences due to a long wait on approvals.
In response, the Ministry of Commerce said in September it had granted some Chinese companies export licences for gallium and germanium products. State media said the ministry would grant licenses depending on “China’s national security”.
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China’s exports of wrought germanium totalled 36.49 tons in the first nine months of 2023, up 47% on the year, while shipments of wrought gallium fell by close to 62% on the year to 22.72 tons over the same period.
The spot price of germanium ingot was at 9,700 yuan per kilogram (kg) on September 28, unchanged on the month, data from consultancy Shanghai Metals Market (SMM) showed.
The price of gallium metal, however, climbed by 15% month-on-month to 1,905 yuan per kg on September 28, driven by temporary tightness as a result of improved demand and a delay in commissioning of new capacity.
Meanwhile, under the customs code for “germanium oxides and zirconium dioxide”, customs data showed exports of 1,420 tons in September, versus 1,034 tons in August.
It was not possible to verify if the shipments were made up of only zirconium dioxide or also included some germanium oxide.
- Reuters, with additional editing by Vishakha Saxena