Global Semiconductor Maker Tokyo Electron Reportedly Dropping Huawei

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Being put on a U.S. Department of Commerce blacklist could have an even greater impact on Huawei than expected. Reuters today reported that Tokyo Electron, the world's third-largest supplier of semiconductor manufacturing equipment, plans to cease business with any companies on the U.S. blacklist.

The report portrayed Tokyo Electron's decision as a show of solidarity for its U.S. rivals. Reuters cited an anonymous executive at the company as saying "we would not do businesses with Chinese clients with whom Applied Materials and Lam Research are barred from doing businesses" because "it’s crucial for us that the U.S. government and industry see us as a fair company." (Not least because it doesn't want to threaten its supply of U.S. goods.)

Right now the ban specifically affects Huawei, but as tension escalates between the U.S. and China, other companies might be added to that blacklist. U.S. President Donald Trump already declared a national emergency related to the U.S.' reliance on tech purchased from "foreign adversaries." It wouldn't be surprising if his administration decided that increasing tariffs applied to more goods wouldn't be as effective as blacklisting more companies.

Those decisions have already led many U.S. companies, from Google to much of the semiconductor industry, to cut ties with Huawei. But the blacklist doesn't only affect U.S. companies that directly work with the Chinese smartphone maker--companies that import U.S. products and intellectual property could also be affected. That's why Arm, and now Tokyo Electron, opted to drop Huawei as a customer despite being based outside the U.S.

They might not be the only ones. Reuters said that other Japanese companies have considered following Tokyo Electron's lead in ceasing business with blacklisted Chinese firms. The companies are said to be working with Japan's industry ministry to determine the appropriate course of action, with one exec telling Reuters that "we are aware that we could be in deep trouble if we take advantage of the U.S. export ban to expand businesses with China."

Nathaniel Mott
Freelance News & Features Writer

Nathaniel Mott is a freelance news and features writer for Tom's Hardware US, covering breaking news, security, and the silliest aspects of the tech industry.