US extends Huawei licence to May 15 despite trade blacklist

WASHINGTON • The Trump administration has extended a licence allowing US companies to continue doing business with China's Huawei Technologies until May 15.

The US Commerce Department had in the past issued extensions of the temporary licence and previously extended it until April 1.

Huawei, the world's second-largest maker of smartphones, is also a major telecom equipment supplier that provides 5G network technology.

After adding Huawei to an economic blacklist last May, citing national security concerns, the Commerce Department has allowed it to purchase some US-made goods in a move aimed at minimising disruption for its customers, many of which operate wireless networks in rural America.

Separately, the Commerce Department sought public comments on whether it should issue future extensions and asked what was the "impact on your company or organisation if the temporary general licence is not extended?"

It also asked about the costs associated with ending the licences.

It has said the licences allow rural carriers to continue to service customers in some of the most remote areas of the US.

President Donald Trump also signed an executive order last May barring US companies from using telecommunications equipment made by companies deemed to pose a national security risk.

The US has expressed concern that Huawei equipment could contain security loopholes that allow China to spy on global communications traffic, which the company has denied.

Last November, the Federal Communications Commission followed up by voting unanimously to designate Huawei and ZTE Corporation as national security risks, effectively barring their rural customers in the US from tapping an US$8.5 billion (S$11.8 billion) government fund to purchase equipment.

Last month, Congress passed legislation to reimburse telecommunications providers with fewer than two million customers who replace equipment in their networks deemed to pose a national security risk.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 12, 2020, with the headline 'US extends Huawei licence to May 15 despite trade blacklist'. Subscribe