Nvidia says US curbs on AI chip sales to China would cause ‘permanent loss of opportunities’

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Hong Kong
CNN
 — 

Nvidia warned Wednesday that if the United States imposes new restrictions on the export of AI chips to China, it would result in a “permanent loss of opportunities” for US industry.

The company’s chief financial officer, Colette Kress, said she didn’t anticipate any “immediate material impact” but tighter curbs would impact earnings in the future.

US officials plan to tighten export curbs announced in October to restrict the sale of some artificial-intelligence chips to China, according to multiple media reports, including the Wall Street Journal and Financial Times. Washington has ramped up efforts to cut China off from key technologies that can support its military.

The US Department of Commerce has not replied to a CNN request for comment.

The rules, as reported, could make it harder for companies like Nvidia

(NVDA)
to sell advanced chips to China. Fueled by a boom in demand for its AI chips, the company briefly hit a market capitalization of $1 trillion in late May.

“We are aware of reports that the US Department of Commerce is considering further controls that may restrict exports of our A800 and H800 products to China,” Kress told an investment conference.

“Over the long-term, restrictions prohibiting the sale of our datacenter GPUs to China, if implemented, would result in a permanent loss of opportunities for US industry to compete and lead in one of the world’s largest markets and impact on our future business and financial results,” she said.

GPUs refer to graphics processing units, which are chips or electronic circuits capable of rendering graphics for display on electronic devices.

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“Given the strength of demand for our products worldwide, we do not anticipate that such additional restrictions, if adopted, would have an immediate material impact on our financial results. We do not anticipate any immediate material impact on our financial results,” Kress added.

Last October, the Biden administration unveiled a sweeping set of export controls that ban Chinese companies from buying advanced chips and chip-making equipment without a license.

The new move is aimed in part at Nvidia’s A800 chip, which the US-based company created following the introduction of last year’s curbs in order to continue to sell to China, Bloomberg reported.

China is a key market for Nvidia. Revenues from mainland China and Hong Kong accounted for 22% of the company’s revenue last year, according to its financial statements.

On Wednesday, shares of Nvidia slumped as much as 3.2%, before recouping some of the losses. It ended down 1.8%. Chinese AI stocks suffered much heavier losses.

Inspur Electronic Information Industry fell by 10%, the maximum allowed, on Wednesday in Shenzhen. It dropped again by 5.3% on Thursday. Chengdu Information Technology of Chinese Academy of Sciences slid 12% on Wednesday. Baidu

(BIDU)
, which is developing a rival to ChatGPT, sank 4.4% on Thursday in Hong Kong.

“The US could ruin China’s AI party,” Jefferies analyst said in a research note. Local chipsets do not have Nvidia’s GPU ecosystem, thus every update may require reworking, resulting in lower efficiency and higher costs.

The Biden administration’s chip curbs would be “much more effective” in limiting China’s advances in military power driven by AI than rules restricting US investment in China’s tech sector, the analysts added.

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China has strongly criticized US restrictions on tech exports, saying earlier this year that it “firmly opposes” such measures.

In May, Beijing banned Chinese operators of critical information infrastructure from buying products from Micron Technology

(MU)
, in apparent retaliation against sanctions imposed by Washington and its allies on the country’s chip sector.