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Japan-South Korea rift

Japan's etching gas approval preserves chip supply chain link

South Korean manufacturers relieved but still wary of fresh export curbs

Samsung Electronics has been conserving hydrogen fluoride etching gas in case of a prolonged halt in shipments, an industry source said. (Photo courtesy of Samsung Electronics)

SEOUL/TOKYO -- Japan's approval of a hydrogen fluoride shipment to South Korea has given some reassurance to worried chipmakers, but uncertainty still hangs over the industry after Tokyo's removal of Seoul from its trade whitelist.

The decision reported this week marks the first approval for hydrogen fluoride exports to South Korea since Tokyo tightened controls on semiconductor manufacturing materials in July.

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