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Dutch tech industry urges EU to take a stand on China chip exports

FILE PHOTO: Employees are seen working on the final assembly of ASML's TWINSCAN NXE:3400B semiconductor lithography tool with its panels removed, in Veldhoven

AMSTERDAM (Reuters) - Dutch tech industry group FME on Tuesday called for the European Commission to draft a position on whether and how to restrict computer chip technology exports to China, saying "more unified and powerful action" was needed from Europe.

The call comes as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte visits U.S. President Joe Biden in Washington. The leaders are expected to discuss U.S. requests for the Netherlands to adopt U.S. rules introduced in October aimed at hobbling China's chipmaking industry to slow its technological and military advances.

The Netherlands is home to ASML Holding NV, a key maker of semiconductor manufacturing equipment. It had 15% of its sales to China in 2021, or 2 billion euros ($2.2 billion)worth, that could be affected if the Netherlands were to adopt the new U.S. rules.

"In these times ... of geopolitical tensions, national and European strategic autonomy is of great importance," said FME chairman Theo Henrar.

"The Netherlands would be helped by more unified and powerful action by the European Union."

Some European politicians, including Belgium's prime minister, have questioned whether the Netherlands should be left to negotiate chip policy with the U.S. alone, but Rutte on Friday denied feeling pressured by Washington over the matter.

The Dutch trade minister on Sunday said she shared U.S. concerns about over-reliance on Asian chipmakers and that chip technology had military applications, but the Netherlands would not simply adopt American rules.

FME represents the interests of 2,200 Dutch technology firms, including ASML and smaller equipment maker ASM International.

($1 = 0.9269 euros)

(Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Mark Potter)