The Korea Customs Service announced on Aug. 16 that South Korea imported 529 tons of hydrogen fluoride for use in semiconductor manufacturing processes from Japan last month. The total value of the import is US$961,000. For reference, the average monthly amount on a customs clearance basis used to be 3,085 tons in the first half of this year.
“Japan’s semiconductor material export restrictions took effect on July 4 and the 529 tons were requested and approved before that date,” the Korea Customs Service explained.
The South Korean government announced on Aug. 1 that South Korea imported no hydrogen fluoride from Japan after the restrictions. At present, three semiconductor and display materials, including hydrogen fluoride, are subject to individual and contract-specific import approvals instead of a three-year approval. In addition, the period required for screening has been extended to 90 days or less from a week.
When it comes to semiconductor photoresists, another one of the three, the import volume totaled 141 tons in July whereas the monthly average was 67 tons in the first half. According to the South Korean government, this is because non-EUV photoresist imports increased with EUV photoresists subject to export restrictions.
In the Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System (HS), photoresists are classified as a raw material for semiconductor production and the item includes not only EUV photoresists but also ArF photoresists for DRAM chip production and KrF photoresists for NAND flash memory production. “It seems that South Korean importers placed large orders for those non-EUV photoresists on their prediction that Japan’s measure targeting the chemical for use in extreme ultraviolet lithography can be expanded to cover the others of the same type,” said the Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.