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U.S. clarifies HUAWEI trade ban status, but a big question remains

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has attempted to shed light on HUAWEI's trade ban, but we're still confused.

Published onJuly 10, 2019

HUAWEI P30 Pro camera array with glare

President Donald Trump announced earlier this month that U.S. companies can indeed resume business ties with Huawei. But the news seems to have led to plenty of confusion, especially after the Commerce Department said they’re still treating the Chinese brand as if it were blacklisted.

Now, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told a conference (h/t: Reuters) that licenses to sell to HUAWEI will be issued if there’s no security threat.

“To implement the president’s G20 summit directive two weeks ago, Commerce will issue licenses where there is no threat to U.S. national security,” Ross was quoted as saying. “Within those confines, we will try to make sure that we don’t just transfer revenue from the U.S. to foreign firms.”

Ross also reportedly noted that HUAWEI was still on the Entity List, which suggests there will still be a significant amount of export controls regarding any deals between it and U.S. firms.

The HUAWEI ban explained: A complete timeline and everything you need to know
HUAWEI logo P40 Pro

The official’s comments don’t give us any idea of what HUAWEI will be able to obtain from the U.S. just yet. Does Washington view HUAWEI’s smartphone business as a national security threat too, or is it merely its networking business? A trade lawyer told Reuters that the only way to gain any clarity would be for companies to submit license applications with the Commerce Department and see what happens.

Ross’s comments come after White House economic advisor Larry Kudlow also said deals would be allowed in areas where HUAWEI didn’t represent a national security risk. Kudlow gave the example of U.S. chipmakers selling components that are available from foreign firms. Do you think this issue will be fully resolved soon? Give us your thoughts below!

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