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BIS to Determine Availability of Certain Controlled Etching Equipment in China

Monday, September 08, 2014
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

In response to a request by the Semiconductor Equipment and Materials International industry association, the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security has initiated a foreign availability assessment to determine the foreign availability in China of anisotropic plasma dry etching equipment. Section 5(f) of the Export Administration Act of 1979 authorizes the DOC to conduct foreign availability assessments to examine and reevaluate the effectiveness of U.S. dual-use export controls on certain items that are controlled for national security reasons under the Export Administration Regulations.

SEMI claims that anisotropic plasma dry etching equipment is available in China from Chinese sources, indicating that such equipment is designed or optimized to produce critical dimensions of 65 nm or less and within-wafer non-uniformity equal to or less than 10% 3σ measured with an edge exclusion of 2 mm or less. Items with these capabilities are currently controlled in the U.S. for national security reasons under Export Control Commodity Classification Number 3B001.c on the Commerce Control List. This type of semiconductor etching equipment is used in the production process of a variety of dual-use semiconductor devices such as flash memories, microwave monolithic integrated circuits, transistors and analog-to-digital-converters. These devices are suitable for use in a variety of both civil and military applications that include different types of radars, point-to-point radio communications, microprocessors, cellular infrastructure and satellite communications.

SEMI asserts that anisotropic plasma dry etch equipment of comparable quality to those subject to control under 3B001.c are available-in-fact from Chinese sources in sufficient quantities to render the U.S. export control of such equipment ineffective. BIS will now examine these claims and submit its findings to the DOC, who in turn will issue a final determination. Parties wishing to submit comments as part of this process must do so by Sept. 23.

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