National Security

Government to issue licenses for business with Huawei

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Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Tuesday that his department will issue licenses to U.S. companies to sell products to Chinese telecommunications group Huawei in cases where there is no national security risk.

As first reported by Reuters, Ross said that Huawei, which U.S. experts view with suspicion over its reported ties to the Chinese government, will stay on the Commerce Department’s “entity list.” U.S. companies are banned from selling to companies on that list, to which Huawei was added in May due to national security concerns.

{mosads}Commerce had issued a 90-day extension on the company being formally added to give U.S. companies time to adjust. 

However, President Trump threw the issue into question last month when he announced at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Japan that U.S. companies would be allowed to sell equipment to Huawei if there were no national security concerns involved.

Ross confirmed this approach on Tuesday, saying at a Commerce event that “to implement the president’s G-20 summit directive two weeks ago, Commerce will issue licenses where there is no threat to U.S. national security.”

Ross noted that “within those confines, we will try to make sure that we don’t just transfer revenue from the U.S. to foreign firms.”

Trump’s comments prompted bipartisan criticism. 

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) previously said that “there will be a lot of pushback” from both sides of the aisle if Huawei is used as a concession in trade talks with Beijing, while Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) vowed to introduce legislation to keep Huawei on the entity list if Trump removed it.

Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) said Trump’s move in favor of Huawei could “dramatically undercut our ability to change China’s unfair trade practices.”

On Sunday, Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) railed against the national security concerns involving Huawei, saying on Fox News’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that “China is building a spy network, they want to win the cyber war, and what we have to do is continue to say to them, you cannot empower Huawei.”

“In good faith, President Trump has indicated that with respect to Huawei, for example, we will allow private sector transactions, wires to Huawei, except under any conditions related to national security,” top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said at an CNBC event in Washington Tuesday.

Kudlow said that while Huawei remains on the enemies list and the U.S. government would not purchase Huawei parts or components, the private sector would be more open.

“In respect to the private market, I call it general merchandise, we’ve opened the door and relaxed a bit the licensing requirements for the commerce department, where there are no national security influences or consequences,” he said.

Kudlow also said there was no timeline for securing a promised purchase of U.S. agricultural goods from China, which was part of the deal to reopen trade negotiations and secure the relaxation on Huawei. The Trump administration could reverse course on the Huawei decision if China fails to follow through, or trade talks hit a new road bump.

A spokesperson for Huawei did not immediately respond to request for comment on this story. The spokesperson previously told The Hill following Trump’s G-20 announcement that “we acknowledge President Trump’s comments related to Huawei over the weekend and have nothing further to add at this time.”

Tags Charles Schumer Donald Trump Fox News Huawei Larry Kudlow Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Marsha Blackburn Reuters Telecommunications Wilbur Ross
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