Brazilian telecoms snub US official over Huawei 5G pressure: Source

The telecoms already use Huawei equipment in preparation for the auctioning of spectrum concessions next year in Brazil.
The telecoms already use Huawei equipment in preparation for the auctioning of spectrum concessions next year in Brazil.PHOTO: REUTERS

BRASILIA (REUTERS) - Brazil's top four telecom companies have decided not to meet with a visiting senior US official who has advocated excluding China's Huawei Technologies Co from the Brazilian 5G equipment market, an industry source said on Friday (Nov 6).

The carriers declined a US embassy invitation to meet on Monday in Sao Paulo with Mr Keith Krach, US under secretary of state for economic growth, energy and the environment, the person in contact with telecom sector executives said.

"This invitation is not compatible with free-market choices that we are used to. We should be able to freely make our best financial decisions," the source said, requesting anonymity. 

The invitation from US ambassador Todd Chapman was first reported by Folha de S.Paulo newspaper, which together with the Valor Economico business daily said the companies preferred not to attend.

Telefonica Brasil SA, Grupo Oi SA, TIM Participaçoes SA, controlled by Telecom Italia SpA and Claro, owned by Mexico's America Movil SAB de CV , each control between 19 per cent and 29 per cent of Brazil's wireless market.

They already use Huawei equipment in preparation for the auctioning of spectrum concessions next year in Brazil and do not support a ban on Huawei sought by the US government.

The US embassy did not immediately reply to a request for comment. The four carriers declined to comment.

The Trump administration has stepped up efforts to convince Brazilian carriers not buy Huawei equipment, alleging the Chinese company reports to China's Communist government and is a security risk that threatens the privacy of wireless users worldwide.

It has offered to finance the purchase of 5G equipment from Western companies such as Nokia and Ericsson.

"Huawei is the backbone of China's global surveillance," Mr Krach wrote in an op/ed article published in August by Brazil's O Globo newspaper.

Mr Krach said the US government and its partners were accelerating efforts to protect global economic security by restricting the involvement of Huawei in 5G networks.

"There are now more than 30 countries participating in the Clean Network," he wrote.