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US denies it had 'blocked' AI chip sales to some Middle Eastern countries

The US Commerce Department was quick to distance itself from the reports — but it did not directly address imposing license restrictions on certain types of chips.
Nvidia 1

The US Department of Commerce said Thursday that the White House “has not blocked chip sales to the Middle East,” hours after it was reported that Washington had expanded export license requirements for Nvidia and Advancement Micro Devices (AMD) artificial intelligence chips beyond China. 

California-based technology company Nvidia said in an Aug. 28 filing that its high performance A100 and H100 chips, which speed up machine learning on AI apps such as ChatGPT had been put on a “no-export” list to some countries in the Middle East, Reuters reported Thursday. These products are already prohibited to export to China and Russia. 

“During the second quarter of fiscal year 2024, the USG [US government] informed us of an additional licensing requirement for a subset of A100 and H100 products destined to certain customers and other regions, including some countries in the Middle East,” Nvidia, one of the most valuable firms in the world worth around $1.2 trillion, said in an Aug. 28 filing.

The newswire reported that a well-placed source said AMD is also impacted by the export extension. 

The Middle Eastern countries were not named.

On Thursday, the US Commerce Department was quick to distance itself from the reports — but it did not directly address imposing license restrictions on certain types of chips. The department refused to comment on whether it had imposed the new requirements on the two US companies. Al-Monitor has contacted the department for clarification. 

Nvidia and AMD were also contacted for comment. 

The United States usually imposes export controls for national security reasons. In this case, it appears to be due to certain Middle Eastern countries ties with China, which is competing with Washington for technological supremacy. Both Washington and Beijing have imposed export restrictions on critical technology products to each other’s countries and allies. 

In July, China announced export controls over two rare metals essential for manufacturing semiconductors to Europe and the United States.

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