US technology companies will be allowed to continue selling to Huawei under certain circumstances, after the US commerce secretary extended a second temporary 90-day reprieve. Wilbur Ross on Monday said the Trump administration would extend a temporary licence for companies to sell to the Chinese company if they are selling repairs or updates to existing systems.
The exemption, which will apply for a further 90 days, only applies if the products in question are deemed not to pose a threat to national security. The reprieve will allow Google to continue updating its Android software on Huawei smartphones, for example. It has been issued despite an increase in hostile rhetoric from US president Donald Trump towards the Chinese company.
Mr Ross said in a statement:
“As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei’s products, we recognise that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption.”
Huawei called the decision to maintain the underlying export ban unfair, complaining also that a further 46 of its affiliates have been added to the list of companies covered by the ban.
The Chinese company said in a statement:
“The extension of the Temporary General License does not change the fact that Huawei has been treated unjustly. Today’s decision won’t have a substantial impact on Huawei’s business either way.”
Mr Trump took action against the Chinese company earlier this year, announcing he would prepare the way for a ban on Huawei products in the US and immediately prohibit it from buying American-made goods. US security officials argue the company poses a risk to national security because its telecoms equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.
Since then, some of the largest US telecoms and technology companies have been lobbying against the stringent measures, arguing they will be costly without damaging Huawei, which can ship in many of their supplies from elsewhere. In response, the Trump administration issued a temporary exemption in May.
In recent months, Mr Trump has tied the fate of the company to the outcome of the US-China trade talks. Earlier in the summer, he appeared to offer an olive branch to Beijing when he said the export ban would be relaxed, but this weekend he once again stepped up his rhetoric against the company.
The president told reporters on Sunday,
“Huawei is a company we may not do business with at all.
“We’re looking really not to do business with Huawei . . . it’s very difficult to determine what’s coming in, what’s not coming in, it’s still Huawei.”
However, Larry Kudlow, the president’s economic adviser, said over the weekend that the extension was being granted to help US companies rather than to please Beijing.
“I think it’s a good faith action, again, helping American companies who need a couple more months to make adjustments if they can get licences. And this assumes, by the way, no national security sensitivity. So that’s not changing.
“But we’re giving a break to our own companies for three months.”