Wednesday, 19 February 2020 11:05

Trump hints he may oppose further restrictions on Huawei Featured

Trump hints he may oppose further restrictions on Huawei Image by BarBus from Pixabay

US President Donald Trump has hinted that he may oppose new restrictions proposed on Chinese telecommunications equipment vendor Huawei Technologies, issuing a number of tweets to point out that the US should become an easy place for other countries to buy products.

His tweets were sent shortly after a Reuters story said the US was thinking of cutting off Huawei from global semiconductor suppliers, with the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company, a big supplier to Huawei, the main target.

"I have seen some of the regulations being circulated, including those being contemplated by Congress, and they are ridiculous," Trump tweeted.

"I want to make it EASY to do business with the United States, not difficult. Everyone in my Administration is being so instructed, with no excuses," he said, adding "THE UNITED STATES IS OPEN FOR BUSINESS!"

The US is holding meetings over the next two weeks to discuss fresh restrictions on Huawei, which was placed on a blacklist last year that makes it necessary for the company to obtain official clearance if it wants to buy goods made in the US that have more than 25% American content.

But a number of companies have used loopholes in the regulations to continue to sell to Huawei from overseas locations. If the US wanted to push further, it would have to alter the Foreign Direct Product Rule which places some goods made abroad under US regulations if they are based on American technology or software.

Trump said: "The United States cannot, & will not, become such a difficult place to deal with in terms of foreign countries buying our product, including for the always used National Security excuse, that our companies will be forced to leave in order to remain competitive.

"We want to sell product and goods to China and other countries. That’s what trade is all about. We don’t want to make it impossible to do business with us. That will only mean that orders will go to someplace else. As an example, I want China to buy our jet engines, the best in the world."

Trump has form in intervening to negate actions by the Commerce Department in the past, having forced the lifting of a ban on the Chinese firm ZTE Corporation.

In 2018, the US Department of Commerce imposed a seven-year ban on ZTE, claiming that the company had made false statements during talks in 2016 over a charge of shipping telco equipment to Iran and North Korea. ZTE shut down its main business activities in the US on 9 May 2018.

But following Trump's intervention, a deal was worked out for ZTE to return to business by paying a fine of US$1 billion, changing its management team and depositing US$400 million in an escrow account against possible future transgressions.

Trump justified this decision by saying it reflected the bigger trade deal that was being negotiated at the time with China and his personal relationship with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Early this year, the US and China signed the first stage of a trade deal.

Trump has also hinted that Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, being held in Canada, could be used as a bargaining chip to extract trade concessions from China.

Under pressure from the US, Canada detained Meng on charges of allegedly violating domestic US export sanctions.

Meng has been in Canadian custody since December 2018. China has detained two Canadian nationals in what appears to be a tit-for-tat act.

The US has been trying for some time to get countries it considers allies to ban Huawei from 5G rollouts. Australia and Vietnam have fallen in line and said so in public.

Countries like Japan, South Korea and Poland have indicated that they are likely to toe the US line, but have yet to make public pronouncements.

In January, the UK said it would allow Huawei to supply up to 35% of gear for the non-core parts of its 5G networks.

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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