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ASML, Samsung ink EUR700M chip plant deal

VELDHOVEN (AFP) – Dutch tech giant ASML and Samsung on Tuesday signed a deal worth around EUR700 million to build a semiconductor research plant in South Korea, as President Yoon Suk Yeol wrapped up day one of a technology-focused visit.

Yoon was the first foreign leader to visit ASML’s highly secure “cleanroom”, on a trip to the Netherlands aimed at forging a “chip alliance” between the two global semiconductor powerhouses.

He toured the city-sized facilities of ASML, which makes cutting-edge machines to manufacture the semiconductor chips that power everything from your smartphone to your car.

ASML and Samsung later agreed to “jointly in the future” invest in the facility that would “develop cutting-edge semiconductor processing technology using next-generation EUV (extreme ultraviolet) equipment”.

Semiconductors are the “linchpin” of ties between Korea and the Netherlands, Yoon told AFP in an exclusive written interview before becoming the first Korean leader to visit since ties were established in 1961.

Yoon said his host ASML’s innovation in the sector had “been a major driver of an industrial revolution pushing the boundaries in areas like AI (artificial intelligence) and 5G communication”.

Yoon was joined on his visit to ASML by the heads of major chip makers Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix.

The two Korean firms are affected by the export curbs to China since they have based a large portion of their production, especially of advanced DRAM and flash memory chips, in China.

ASML too enjoys healthy sales to China, especially of DUV (deep ultraviolet) systems that print the tiny elements that make up a microchip. Yoon told AFP his visit to ASML would mark a “crucial turning point” for ties between the two countries, with discussion on chip co-operation his “top priority” during the visit.

His office has said the two nations want to forge a “chip alliance” that would involve governments, businesses and research universities.

The Netherlands and Korea already enjoy strong trade ties.

Korea is the third-largest trade partner for the Dutch in Asia, while the Netherlands is the second-top partner for Korea in the European Union, according to the Dutch government.

South Korea’s President Yoon Suk Yeol with ASML CEO Peter Wennink during a visit to ASML facilities. PHOTO: AFP