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TSMC foresees no direct impact from China’s metal export curbs

Taiwan’s TSMC, the world’s largest contract chipmaker, said on Thursday it does not expect any direct impact on its production from China’s decision to restrict exports of two metals widely used in semiconductors and electric vehicles.

In a move that a top Chinese trade adviser warned was “just a start,” Beijing said on Monday it would limit exports of products made from the minor metals of gallium and germanium to protect national security. That followed the U.S. decision to impose export restrictions to curb China’s access to key technologies used for artificial intelligence.

Taiwan is a major producer of chips used in everything from smartphones and cars to fighter jets, supplying companies like Apple and Nvidia.

“After evaluation, we do not expect the export restrictions on raw materials gallium and germanium will have any direct impact on TSMC’s production,” Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co said in an emailed statement.

“We will continue to monitor the situation closely,” it added, without elaborating.

TSMC’s Taipei-listed shares extended losses on Thursday, closing down 2.9%, compared with a 1.7% drop on the broader market, in part due to worries about worsening China-U.S. trade tensions and ahead of U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen’s visit to Beijing this week.

“If the talks between the two sides go well, many restrictions could be loosened, but if the talks go badly, both sides may put up more sanctions after Yellen goes home,” said Capital Securities Corp analyst Liao Chien-yu.

Taiwan’s WIN Semiconductors (3105.TWO), which uses gallium for optoelectronic devices, told Reuters only a “small number” of substrates are purchased from China, with most of its supplies coming from Germany and Japan.

China’s restrictions will have a very limited impact on the company’s short-term procurement and wafer production and delivery, WIN added.

Another Taiwanese firm, Visual Photonics Epitaxy, told Reuters it also had multiple substrate suppliers, one of which is U.S. semiconductor wafer maker AXT, which said on Monday it would seek permits to keep exporting gallium and germanium substrate products from China.

Visual Photonics Epitaxy said it had noticed little effect so far from China’s export restrictions. Its shares ended down 3.5% on Thursday. Reuters

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