China export curbs choke off shipments of gallium, germanium for second month

BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s curbs on exports of gallium and germanium products choked off international shipments of the chipmaking metals for a second consecutive month, customs data for September showed on Friday.

China’s exports of wrought germanium products stood at 1 kilogram, versus zero in August after a flurry of buying prior to the restrictions saw shipments of wrought products surge to 8.63 metric tons in July.

Under the customs code for “germanium oxides and zirconium dioxide”, the 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.

China exported no wrought gallium products in August and September. It had exported 5.57 tons in September 2022.

In July, China unveiled restrictions on exports of eight gallium and six germanium products starting on Aug. 1, the latest salvo in an escalating war between Beijing and Washington over access to materials used in making high-tech microchips.

Exporters of germanium and gallium products now need to obtain an export licence for dual-use items and technologies, meaning those with potential military and civilian applications.

Some Chinese companies have obtained export licences for gallium and germanium products, the Ministry of Commerce said in September.

The spot price of germanium ingot was at 9,700 yuan per kilogram (kg)on Sept. 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 Sept. 28, driven by temporary tightness as a result of improved demand and a delay in commissioning of new capacity.

China’s exports of wrought germanium totaled 36.49 tons in the first nine months of 2023, up 47.4% on the year, while shipments of wrought gallium fell 61.9% on the year to 22.72 tons over the same period.

(Reporting by Amy Lv and Dominique Patton in Beijing)