FILE PHOTO: South Korean Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon (R) disembarks from a plane to attend the upcoming Eastern Economic Forum in Vladivostok, on the tarmac at Vladivostok International Airport, Russia September 10, 2018. Vladimir Smirnov/TASS Host Photo Agency/Pool via REUTERS
SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s prime minister said on Thursday Japan has granted its first approval for the export of a high-tech material to South Korea since Tokyo imposed tighter curbs in July on three high-tech components used for making chips and displays.
Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon said the approval made on Wednesday was for the material known as EUV photoresists, crucial for Samsung’s advanced contract chipmaking production.
“We are stepping up our diplomatic efforts to make Japan retract its economic attack,” Lee told a meeting with government officials.
There was no immediate comment from Samsung.
South Korean chipmakers are hitting a dead end in their quest to find alternatives for key Japanese materials that have been hit with export restrictions, raising the prospect of major disruption to their operations in coming months.
The curbs apply on EUV photoresists, used in producing chips based on an advanced technique known as extreme ultraviolet lithography.
That could hobble Samsung’s efforts to use the technology to catch up with rival Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Co Ltd in the booming business of building advanced chips for other companies.
Reporting by Choonsik Yoo; Writing by Ju-min Park; Editing by Paul Tait