It’s been months since Huawei became the most talked about smartphone company in the world.
And not for a good reason.
Here’s A Flashback:
- Huawei was banned by the US in May 2019
- Added to Commerce Department list which prevents US companies from supplying them
- Huawei users around the world freaked out and some sold their phones almost immediately
- Samsung had a heyday trying to convert users
- Huawei abandoned by major US companies and suppliers like Google and Microsoft
- Huawei revealed they’ve been making their own OS for years
And then, now, it seems like the US has decided that hey… maybe they overreacted just a tad and actually didn’t need to ban them completely.
Companies May Start Selling To Them Again
US President Donald Trump has surprisingly announced that American companies could now sell products to Huawei.
This happened after his meeting with Chinese president Xi Jinping in late June.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has also said recently licenses would be issued where there is no threat to national security.
One of the reasons behind the ban on Huawei was due to suspected theft of American intellectual property and spying for China.
Companies Started Applying For Licenses
Following that, many companies have already expressed interest in applying for the licenses to continue selling to Huawei, including two US chipmakers who supply Huawei, who asked to remain anonymous.
According to Mr Craig Ridgley, a trade compliance consultant in Washington, it’s also likely that a customer response management company and a firm that simulates cross-sectional radar for Huawei would file for applications soon.
Washington lawyer Kevin Wolf, a former Commerce Department official, agreed with the speculations, saying: “Since there’s no downside, companies are absolutely submitting applications, as required by the regulations.”
Trading with Huawei would indeed be financially beneficial for the companies, for they spent a whopping $11 billion buying components from companies such as Intel and Qualcomm in 2018, so there’s no surprise in that.
Currently, the law states that US companies can sell goods to maintain networks and provide software updates to existing Huawei handsets.
But they can’t make new sales of American-made goods and services to them. There are even some US chipmakers who can already sell to Huawei for many of their products are manufactured abroad and don’t fall under US export controls.
But It’s Just Temporary
US officials still clarified that the new policy entails the approval of sales of non-sensitive technology that’s also readily available overseas to Huawei.
It was added that Huawei is still on the entity list.
In other words, this is just a temporary relief.
Huawei isn’t happy with this, however, and maintains its position that they are innocent.
“The Entity list restrictions should be removed altogether, rather than have temporary licenses applied for US vendors. Huawei has been found guilty of no relevant wrongdoing and represents no cybersecurity risk to any country so the restrictions are unmerited,” said a spokesperson.
Support For Huawei
Despite the “relief” from the government, companies have been asking for a broader one, standing on the side of Huawei.
They argued that “US security goals should be advanced in a way that does not undermine the ability to compete globally and retain technological leadership.”
They also wish to be able to provide customer support for the chips that they build and sell to foreign countries and want the approval to ship new American-made equipment to Huawei and its subsidiaries around the world.
Licenses Could Be Granted Very Soon
Rejoice, Huawei users.
At a conference held by the Commerce Department in Washington on Thursday, 11 July, a senior US official said that licenses could be approved and granted as soon as two to four weeks later.
He didn’t specify the criteria for license approval nor did he state which products would get approved, but the representative of a manufacturer believes it may be on a case-to-case basis.
A Commerce Department spokesman said they are “currently evaluating all licenses and determining what is in the nation’s best national security interest.”
However, nothing’s set in stone yet. According to Eric Hirschhorn, a former undersecretary of Commerce, government officials don’t know where the administration is going now while they’re reviewing the licenses. “The policy two minutes ago may not be the policy two minutes from now,” he said. It’s probably codeword for “it’s a mess”.
So, Huawei might still have to wait a while more and pray for the best. This will at least lessen the burden on Huawei of having to source for their own materials somewhere else.
You’re probably now free to buy that P30 you’ve been waiting for the glorious camera, so go wild.
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