Importing semiconductors from China to the EU

Semiconductors (integrated circuits, ICs) are key components in electronics. They are referred to as “the new oil of the 21st century” and “the brain of modern electronics.” Hong Kong is the largest exporter of semiconductors, followed by mainland China. This article will discuss importing semiconductors from China to the EU.

Importing semiconductors from China to the EU

Importing semiconductors from China

Even though mainland China is not the world’s largest semiconductor manufacturer, it is estimated that in 2030 it will take the lead, making 25% of the world’s semiconductors. The export of semiconductors from China continues to increase.

China exports of semiconductors
Mainland China exports of semiconductors from 2013 to 2021, data: WITS.

The three largest mainland Chinese companies in the semiconductor industry are HiSillicon, SMIC and JCET. SMIC is the largest contract manufacturer of semiconductors and the fifth largest in the world, with a market share of 5.3%.

Where are semiconductors produced in China?

When it comes to importing, a good supplier is a must. There are many integrated circuit manufacturers in China. The largest group of semiconductor manufacturers in China is located in Shenzhen. Other semiconductor and similar components production areas in China are:

  • Guangzhou (Guangdong Province)
  • Shanghai
  • Suzhou, Nanjing, Wuxi (Jiangsu)
  • Xi’an (Shaanxi)
  • Hangzhou (Zhejiang)
  • Xiamen (Fujian)
  • Chengdu (Sichuan)
  • Wuhan (Hubei)
  • Chongqing
  • Beijing
  • Hefei (Anhui)
  • Dalian (Liaoning).

Check the areas on the map below:

Importing semiconductors from China to the EU production areas

Importing semiconductors from China to the EU – customs rate

Before you start importing, you should get familiar with the customs rate on the imported product to estimate the duty paid during clearance. Customs rates for the EU are available in the TARIC system. In TARIC, every product type has its own CN code.

In the Combined Nomenclature, electronic integrated circuits are in section XVI Machinery and mechanical appliances (…); electrical machinery and equipment and parts thereof. The rate for goods from China is indicated in the ERGA OMNES.

Duty for electronic integrated circuits:

  • Processors and controllers, whether or not combined with memories, converters, logic circuits, amplifiers, clock and timing circuits, or other circuits, MCO (8542 31 11 00) 0%
  • Multi-component integrated circuits (MCOs) memories (8542 32 11 00) 0%
  • Multi-component integrated circuits (MCOs) amplifiers (8542 33 10 00) 0%.

Importing semiconductors from China to the EU – requirements

Imported products must comply with requirements in the target market. The importer has to get familiar with the requirements and check product compliance. In addition to national legal acts, the importer should follow the documents issued by the competent authorities of the European Union.

RoHS Directive and semiconductors

Semiconductors imported into the European Union must comply with the RoHS directive on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment.

For semiconductors, there are some exemptions from RoHS provisions, such as:

  • 6(c) – Copper alloy containing up to 4 % lead by weight
  • 7(a) – Lead in high melting temperature type solders (i.e. lead-based alloys containing 85 % by weight or more lead)
  • 7(c)-I – Electrical and electronic components containing lead in a glass or ceramic other than dielectric ceramic in capacitors, e.g. piezoelectronic devices, or in a glass or ceramic matrix compound
  • 15 – Lead in solders to complete a viable electrical connection between semiconductor die and carrier within integrated circuit flip chip packages:
    • 15(a) where at least one of the following criteria applies:
      • a semiconductor technology node of 90 nm or larger
      • a single die of 300 mm2 or larger in any semiconductor technology node
      • stacked die packages with die of 300 mm2 or larger, or silicon interposers of 300 mm2 or larger.

CE mark and declaration of conformity

The RoHS directive states that the manufacturer is obliged to draw up technical documentation and a declaration of conformity. The manufacturer has to mark the product, the packaging and documents with the CE mark.

Integrated circuits such as embedded microcontrollers do not need to bear the CE mark.

CE mark

Devices with semiconductors, in addition to RoHS, may fall under the following directives:

Semiconductor trade fairs in China

How to get the best offer from a Chinese supplier? One of the best methods is participation in trade fairs held in China, where the newest industry products are displayed. The Chinese highly value interpersonal relations. Build strong guanxi to increase the chance of getting a better offer.

Below we present trade fairs organized in China, during which semiconductors are displayed:

Canton Fair Phase 1 – China Export and Import Fair

Venue: Canton Fair Complex, Guangzhou

Website: cantonfair.org.cn

Canton Fair is the longest-running and biggest trade fair in China. The biannual fair (spring and autumn) is divided into three phases. Semiconductors are one of the products displayed during Phase 1.

China International Electric Power & Electric Engineering and Smart Grid Exhibition (E-POWER)

Venue: Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC), Shanghai

Website: china-epower.com

E-POWER is a fair that attracts 40 thousand participants. Exhibitors present products in the IoT, alternative energy sources sectors, electrical and electronic devices, as well as components, including semiconductors.

China International Electric Power & Electric Engineering and Smart Grid Exhibition

Venue: Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC), Shanghai

Website: epchinashow.com

The EP fair, which has been held for over three decades, is the largest Chinese electric energy fair, certified by the “UFI Approved Event,” a certificate confirming the quality of the fair.

China International Semiconductor Executive Summit

Venue: Grand Kempinski Hotel Shanghai, Shanghai

Website: chinasemiconsummit.com

If you want to learn about the semiconductor industry, attending China International Semiconductor Executive Summit is a great opportunity to expand your knowledge and business network.

SEMICON China

Venue: Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC), Shanghai

Website: semiconchina.org

SEMICON connects suppliers and buyers of semiconductor technology products, services, and more. This influential trade fair holds a seminar on the semiconductor industry. Trends, production, design, testing, system integration solutions, and more are discussed.

Importing semiconductors from China to the EU – to sum up

  • China is one of the world’s top semiconductor manufacturers.
  • The biggest semiconductor production areas in China are Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shaanxi, Zhejiang, Fujian, Sichuan, Hubei, Anhui, and Liaoning provinces, as well as Shanghai, Chongqing, and Beijing.
  • The duty on semiconductors from China is 0%.
  • Importing semiconductors as a built-in compound may require compliance with many directives.

Make sure to have due diligence conducted before choosing your Chinese supplier. It is highly advised to conduct a quality control too.

See our guide on importing electronics from China to the EU.

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