U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Tuesday stated that his department will issue special licenses to U.S. companies that will allow them to sell products to Chinese telecommunications group Huawei if there is no national security risk.
According to The New York Times, Ross said that Huawei, which U.S. experts view with suspicion over its reported ties to the Chinese government, will stay on the Commerce Department’s “entity list.” U.S. companies are banned from selling to companies on that list, to which Huawei was added in May due to national security concerns.
The U.S. Commerce issued a 90-day extension on the company being formally added to give U.S. companies time to adjust.
Last month President Donald Trump announced at the Group of 20 (G-20) summit in Japan that U.S. companies would be allowed to sell equipment to Huawei if there were no national security concerns involved.
Ross confirmed this approach on Tuesday, saying at a Commerce event that “to implement the president’s G-20 summit directive two weeks ago, Commerce will issue licenses where there is no threat to U.S. national security.”
Ross noted that “within those confines, we will try to make sure that we don’t just transfer revenue from the U.S. to foreign firms.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s comments prompted bipartisan criticism.
Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman, Republican Lindsey Graham previously said that “there will be a lot of pushback” from both sides of the aisle if Huawei is used as a concession in trade talks with Beijing, while Republican Senator Marco Rubio vowed to introduce legislation to keep Huawei on the entity list if Trump removed it.
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer said Trump’s move in favor of Huawei could “dramatically undercut our ability to change China’s unfair trade practices.”
Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn also criticized Huawei, saying: “China is building a spy network, they want to win the cyber war, and what we have to do is continue to say to them, you cannot empower Huawei.”
“In good faith, President Trump has indicated that with respect to Huawei, for example, we will allow private sector transactions, wires to Huawei, except under any conditions related to national security,” top White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow said at a CNBC event in Washington on Tuesday.
Kudlow said that while Huawei remains on the enemies list and the U.S. government would not purchase Huawei parts or components, the private sector would be more open.
“In respect to the private market, I call it general merchandise, we’ve opened the door and relaxed a bit the licensing requirements for the commerce department, where there are no national security influences or consequences,” he said. “I acknowledge President Trump’s comments related to Huawei over the weekend and have nothing further to add at this time.”