The US Commerce Department said on Friday it may soon scale back restrictions on Huawei Technologies after this week’s blacklisting would have made it nearly impossible for the Chinese company to service its existing customers.
The Commerce Department, which had effectively halted Huawei’s ability to buy American-made parts and components, is considering issuing a temporary general license to “prevent the interruption of existing network operations and equipment,” a spokeswoman said.
Potential beneficiaries of the license could, for example, include internet access and mobile phone service providers in thinly populated places such as Wyoming and eastern Oregon that purchased network equipment from Huawei in recent years.
In effect, the Commerce Department would allow Huawei to purchase US goods so it can help existing customers maintain the reliability of networks and equipment, but the Chinese firm still would not be allowed to buy American parts and components to manufacture new products.
The potential rule roll back suggests changes to Huawei’s supply chain may have immediate, far-reaching and unintended consequences.
The blacklisting, officially known as placing Huawei on the Commerce Department’s entity list, was one or two efforts by the Trump administration this week allegedly made in an attempt to thwart national security risks. In an executive order, President Donald Trump also effectively barred the use of its equipment in US telecom networks.
The United States believes Huawei’s smartphones and network equipment could be used by China to spy on Americans, allegations the company has repeatedly denied.
The latest Commerce move comes as China has struck a more aggressive tone in its trade war with the United States, suggesting a resumption of talks between the world’s two largest economies would be meaningless unless Washington changed course.
A spokesman for Huawei, the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Out of $70 billion Huawei spent for buying components in 2018, some $11 billion went to US firms including Qualcomm , Intel Corp and Micron Technology Inc.
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