back to article Prices of gallium and germanium rise as China export controls loom

Prices of two vital chipmaking materials are rising ahead of export restrictions imposed by the Chinese government coming into effect next week. The Chinese Ministry of Commerce warned earlier this month it would place export controls on gallium and germanium plus some compounds containing them, meaning that anyone wishing to …

  1. steamnut

    Checkmate?

    Well President Biden, your expensive home grown chip factories will be redundant without these raw materials. It was always an obvious move from China - well to most of us with a brain cell.

    So, Biden, what's your next move?

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Checkmate?

      Still waiting on Trump’s new Apple Factory in Texas - https://www.theverge.com/2019/11/20/20974999/trump-is-lying-about-the-new-apple-factory

      Noted CHIPS was an evolution of the Endless Frontier Act from 2019.

      At least Biden has 1 brain cell more than Trump.

      1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        Re: Checkmate?

        It was funny that Trump wanted Tim Apple to make his phones in America, while Trump Signature shirts were made in China.

        1. I miss PL/1

          Re: Checkmate?

          At least Trump understands what it takes to run a business. All Joe knows is govt handouts.

          It always amazed me how much the UK likes Biden when he hates you so much. I mean the first thing he did in office was throw out the gift of Churchill's bust in the oval office.

          1. Claverhouse Silver badge

            Re: Checkmate?

            I thought that was Obama ? Anyway, the Daily Fail always heralds a new Democratic president by emphasizing how much he hates Britain. And we should all PANIC !

            Not that most of us here care much about either right-wing media or anything to do with the United States; least of all Creepy Old Joe.

            If he, and the rest of the Fighting Bidens, detest those who oppressed old Erin for 10,000 years, good luck to him. What a Biden thinks ---- or any other congressthing --- is merely effluent on the wind.

          2. werdsmith Silver badge

            Re: Checkmate?

            It always amazed me how much the UK likes Biden when he hates you so much.

            Likes Biden? He's barely noticed.

            But it does amaze people in Britain that the US of A keeps electing geriatrics into the White House.

          3. Pete Sdev

            Re: Checkmate?

            "At least Trump understands what it takes to run a business."

            The guy who lead his *casino* business in to bankruptcy. That takes real skill.

            If daddy gave me a million dollars, I'd have a property portfolio too, wouldn't be hard.

            Trump's continuing popularity in some quarters is merely further evidence of the substandard education system in the US.

          4. vistisen

            Re: Checkmate?

            Yes, Trump understands that it takes, not paying taxes, overvaluation of assets, and many legal battles, to run business his way. Which by the way is not making him richer only poorer: https://www.forbes.com/sites/danalexander/2023/04/03/trumps-net-worth-plunges-700-million-as-truth-social-flops/

          5. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Checkmate?

            At least Trump understands what it takes to run a business

            I'd check your dosage if I were you. The only thing that Trump knows about business is how to go bankrupt a lot to avoid paying any bills. This is a man who managed to go bankrupt running a casino in Vegas, which requires a special kind of incompetent.

            Some of us know how to run companies at a profit to the point that we don't have to rely on fraud, sacking people and not paying bills.

          6. Martin-73 Silver badge

            Re: Checkmate?

            Churchill wasn't a very nice man. History forgets that

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Checkmate?

              What an odd thing to say.

              History has certainly recorded him, warts and all (you knew he wasn't nice!); plenty of the anecdotes paint him as many things, rarely as a jovial old buffer with a picket of Werthers.

              He played an important role, for that he gets mentioned, the odd bust & statue, but that has never meant he was seen as "nice".

              1. werdsmith Silver badge

                Re: Checkmate?

                Churchill was the type of person required at one particular critical time but already an outdated imperialist even by then.

              2. Martin-73 Silver badge

                Re: Checkmate?

                Maybe i misspoke... History itself has recorded him warts and all... but lots of people seem to forget the warts when reminiscing

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Checkmate?

        Apple, due to skillful lobbying, has received dispensation from the full import tax that is imposed on many goods from China.

        That's why.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Checkmate?

      There is no actual shortage of these materials. China (specifically the CCP) is simply grabbing the WORLD BY THE BALLS when it comes to the LOWEST PRICE for them.

      And, of course, I bet they mine them with SLAVE LABOR and/or CHILD LABOR like the way they mine for cobalt in AFRICA. Yeah pictures of THAT aren't all over teh intarwebs or anything.

      This is how COMMUNISTS do things, in an allegedly capitalist world. They undercut their worldwide competition until they go out of business, and then leverage slave/child labor to keep costs down and then keep the worldwide price just below the threshold where it is practical for other nations to compete WITHOUT human exploitation.

      I say, TARIFF China, long-term move as much manufacturing as you can ELSEWHERE, and live with the price increases on certain goods, until we put THEM out of business!!! [they NEED US more than we need THEM, and funding their military until they grow strong enough to take US over is a REAL THREAT]

      Or does the world WANT 10 year old kids in African countries picking up rocks and putting them in baskets in open pit mines that can BURY THEM because the work is THAT dangerous?

      Yeah, SOMEBODY has to say it...

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Checkmate?

        But slavery was good because it gave the slaves opportunities to learn new skills

        > SLAVE LABOR and/or CHILD LABOR like the way they mine for cobalt in AFRICA.

        That's the problem with China, stealing our IP

        1. I miss PL/1

          Re: Checkmate?

          No significantly advanced civilization can advance without slave labor from somewhere

          1. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

            Re: Checkmate?

            I question that. People get lazy when they have slaves.

          2. Catkin

            Re: Checkmate?

            I disagree. Slavery is just a common thread in a great many unconnected civilisations. The only notable aspect to European/New World slavery was the use of industrial shipping (since the Arab slave trade routes were mostly overland) and the lengths some European nations went to abolish it overseas (for example, the West Africa Squadron). For the latter, depending on your cynicism, this could be regarded as an acknowledgement of a universal evil or simply economic warfare.

          3. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Checkmate?

            "Requiring slavery" <> "advanced"

    3. I miss PL/1

      Re: Checkmate?

      Pardon Hunter.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Who could have foreseen such a situation? Did someone not say if you stop selling them this they will stop selling you that? The irony is that you need to that to make this.

    1. Annihilator

      Indeed. Almost as if trade wars have operated in this manner for decades.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Was going to point out that trade wars have a history far longer than mere decades.

        Then I remembered that none of the participants in any current actions actually know that.

        They seem to think this is an entirely novel experience for the whole world, not just them, and there can not possibly be any connection between, say, GPU speed and germanium (why are people so worried about the price of flowers anyway?).

  3. Rol

    Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

    and worse. the huge investments required to get domestic rare earth production up and running will require more than just money. it will require, hard to enforce, international sanctions so as to stop China reversing its policy and dumping rare earth products on the market to undercut the fledgling home grown industries. Which it will do at a stroke.

    1. NeilPost Silver badge

      Re: Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

      … a self-evident end-point in offshoring manufacturing, component supply, energy supply, minerals and materials supply to ‘enemy countries’.

      Oil, Rare Earths, Wheat, Fertilisers, Gas, much supply chain to China, Russia, Ukraine (only pro western since Orange Revolution).

      Take a bow capitalism.

      1. IGotOut Silver badge

        Re: Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

        I'm guessing you're from the States.

        You see, when you class "offshoring", it's been done for the last few thousand years at least.

        As an example, the UK has been importing essential food items for at least a century, and non essential ones for much longer.

        Much of mainland Europe is not renowned for there huge gas and oils reserves and where do you think your coffee comes from?

        You see, people only complain about "offshoring" when it's not them producing the goods and there is a shortage.

        And many, many "Western" companies are doing VERY well out of the shortages

        It's nothing to do with capitalism, or communism, or globalisation, it's simple supply and demand.

        1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

          Re: Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

          >the UK has been importing..... non essential ones for much longer.

          So we just send some redcoats to China to 'offshore' the country?

        2. CrackedNoggin Bronze badge

          Re: Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

          That's just "trade". Offshoring, the named phenomena, must include (1) ever increasing government deficits (2) loss of tax base (3) loss of manufacturing capacity and all the skills and OPPORTUNITIES that go with that (4) MBA next quarter culture and disconnection from business principals (5) shrinking GDP.

      2. Catkin

        Re: Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

        Nothing specific to Capitalism. For example, the DDR found it more expedient to concoct charges against people with relatives on the free side of the Iron Curtain, then ransom them off the back of the implication that they wouldn't survive prison (Häftlingsfreikauf). This cretinism was considered preferable to being open about their utter economic ruin. It's a travesty that Honecker was allowed to die peacefully rather than being strung up.

      3. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

        >Oil, Rare Earths, Wheat, Fertilisers, Gas

        OH, Canada......

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

      This exactly what they did with rare earths.

      They waited for the investments to be done, and then they relaxed export controls and busted the new mines.

      1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

        Re: Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

        Of course other countries could impose restrictions on importing China, etc, to keep them open...

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

      That's a mildly delusional view of the world.

      China ended up being the dominant supplier by not only have the relevant reserves, but also by caring less about the environment, something they're now trying to clean up. We were all too happy to leave the dirty work to China because it allowed us here to pretend we were all clean - the 'out of sight, out of mind' approach to pollution.

      That is also the real problem with moving such production out of China: we spend decades telling ourselves how wonderful we managed pollution, but that isn't going to fly when we start working on rare earth metals ourselves. It take a Godawful amount of chemical work to separate the metals in the ore, and it's very much not clean. Good luck getting environmental clearance for it.

      Oh, and good luck finding people who want to work in that industry now you've booted out all the foreigners. You can barely get enough people for office jobs now, good luck finding people willing to do menial work for a pretty much unlivable wage.

      That bed you made? You can lie in it now..

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Damned if you do. Damned if you don't

        "something they're now trying to clean up"

        Nah, they're just working a bit harder at hiding it.

  4. Peshman

    Hmm.

    https://forums.theregister.com/forum/all/2023/07/10/yellen_china_us_decoupling/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm.

      This is the strange thing, they keep sending people to China to heal/fix/improve relations between the US and China while also pissing off China with things such as Pelosi going to Taiwan or the POTATUS spouting about Xi being a dictator (admittedly one of the very few accurate statements from the puppet president) and blocking other countries trade with China.

      1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

        Re: Hmm.

        admittedly one of the very few accurate statements from the puppet president

        I fear sir that your web navigation has been slightly in error. FOX news comments are probably to be found at fox.com

  5. Version 1.0 Silver badge
    Flame

    Germanium trash?

    How many El Reg readers have a box in the back of a draw filled with old components containing germanium?

    I've got to clean up the office so I need some more boxes but there seems to be no recycling of all the components that we've used, and replaced, for years now. These "supply shortages" would be much lower if we could just recycle boxes of transistors, diodes, and old CPUs. I've got a bag of old 70A diodes used to build welders 40 years ago, rated at 1k2V - I wonder if what's in them could be recycled? When you talk to the "recycle companies" all they want are disks and PC's.

    1. Paul Crawford Silver badge

      Re: Germanium trash?

      I don't think it is a hard material to get, is it not a by-product of Aluminium refining?

      It simply comes down to cost. Low cost...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Germanium trash?

      So you reckon your box of old stuff will solve the shortage?

      Just how large is that drawer of yours?

      :)

    3. deive

      Re: Germanium trash?

      From last Fri: https://www.theregister.com/2023/07/28/infineon_recyclable_circuit/ :-)

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