U.S. Tech Companies Sidestep a Trump Ban, to Keep Selling to Huawei

SHANGHAI — United States chip makers are nonetheless promoting tens of millions of of merchandise to Huawei regardless of a Trump administration ban on the sale of American know-how to the Chinese telecommunications big, in accordance to 4 individuals with data of the gross sales.

Industry leaders together with Intel and Micron have discovered methods to keep away from labeling items as American-made, stated the individuals, who spoke on the situation they not be named as a result of they weren’t licensed to disclose the gross sales.

Goods produced by American corporations abroad will not be at all times thought of American-made. The parts started to circulate to Huawei about three weeks in the past, the individuals stated.

The gross sales will assist Huawei proceed to promote merchandise resembling smartphones and servers, and underscore how troublesome it’s for the Trump administration to clamp down on corporations that it considers a nationwide safety risk, like Huawei. They additionally trace on the doable unintended penalties from altering the online of commerce relationships that ties collectively the world’s electronics business and international commerce.

The Commerce Department’s transfer to block gross sales to Huawei, by placing it on a so-called entity listing, set off confusion inside the Chinese firm and its many American suppliers, the individuals stated. Many executives lacked deep expertise with American commerce controls, main to preliminary suspensions in shipments to Huawei till attorneys might puzzle out which merchandise might be despatched. Decisions about what can and can’t be shipped have been additionally usually run by the Commerce Department.

American corporations might promote know-how supporting present Huawei merchandise till mid-August. But a ban on parts for future Huawei merchandise is already in place. It’s not clear what share of the present gross sales have been for future merchandise. The gross sales have more than likely already totaled lots of of tens of millions of , the individuals estimated.

While the Trump administration has been conscious of the gross sales, officers are break up about how to reply, the individuals stated. Some officers really feel that the gross sales violate the spirit of the legislation and undermine authorities efforts to strain Huawei, whereas others are extra supportive as a result of it lightens the blow of the ban for American companies. Huawei has stated it buys round $11 billion in know-how from United States corporations annually.

Intel and Micron declined to remark.

“As we have discussed with the U.S. government, it is now clear some items may be supplied to Huawei consistent with the entity list and applicable regulations,” John Neuffer, the president of the Semiconductor Industry Association, wrote in a statement on Friday.

“Each company is impacted differently based on their specific products and supply chains, and each company must evaluate how best to conduct its business and remain in compliance.”

In an earnings call Tuesday afternoon, Micron’s chief executive, Sanjay Mehrotra, said the company stopped shipments to Huawei after the Commerce Department’s action last month. But it resumed sales about two weeks ago after Micron reviewed the entity list rules and “determined that we could lawfully resume” shipping a subset of products, Mr. Mehrotra said. “However, there is considerable ongoing uncertainty around the Huawei situation,” he added.

A spokesman for the Commerce Department, in response to questions about the sales to Huawei, referred to a section of the official notice about the company being added to the entity list, including that the purpose was to “prevent activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”

A senior administration official said that after the Commerce Department put Huawei on the entity list, the Semiconductor Industry Association sent a letter to the White House asking for waivers for some companies to allow them to continue selling components to Huawei. But the administration did not grant the waivers, he said, and the companies then found what they assert is a legal basis for continuing their sales.

Administration officials would like to address this issue, he said, but they do not plan to do so before the G-20 summit in Japan at the end of this week. Mr. Trump’s top priority is to discuss the general trade dispute with President Xi Jinping of China and get the two sides to resume trade talks that have dragged on since early 2018, the official said.

The fate of Huawei, a crown jewel of Chinese innovation and technological prowess, has become a symbol of the economic and security standoff between the United States and China. The Trump administration has warned that Chinese companies like Huawei, which makes telecom networking equipment, could intercept or secretly divert information to China. Huawei has denied those charges.

A chip, for example, can still be supplied to Huawei if it is manufactured outside the United States and doesn’t contain technology that can pose national security risks. But there are limits on sales from American companies. If the chip maker provides services from the United States for troubleshooting or instruction on how to use the product, for example, the company would not be able to sell to Huawei even if the physical chip were made overseas, Mr. Wolf said.

“This is not a loophole or an interpretation because there is no ambiguity,” he said. “It’s just esoteric.”

After this article was published online on Tuesday, Garrett Marquis, the White House National Security Council spokesman, criticized the companies’ workarounds. He said, “If true, it’s disturbing that a former Senate-confirmed Commerce Department official, who was previously responsible for enforcement of U.S. export control laws including through entity list restrictions, may be assisting listed entities to circumvent those very enforcement mechanisms.”

Mr. Wolf said several companies had scrambled to figure out how to continue sales to Huawei, with some businesses considering a total shift of manufacturing and services of some products overseas. The escalating trade battle between the United States and China is “causing companies to fundamentally rethink their supply chains,” he added.

That could mean that American companies shift their know-how, on top of production, outside the United States, where it would be less easy for the government to control, said Martin Chorzempa, a research fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

“American companies can move some things out of China if that’s problematic for their supply chain, but they can also move the tech development out of the U.S. if that becomes problematic,” he said. “And China remains a large market.”

“Some of the big winners might be other countries,” Mr. Chorzempa said.

Some American companies have complained that complying with the tight restrictions is difficult or impossible, and will take a toll on their business.

On Monday, FedEx filed a lawsuit against the federal government, claiming that the Commerce Department’s rules placed an “impossible burden” on a company like FedEx to know the origin and technological makeup of all the shipments it handles.

FedEx’s complaint didn’t name Huawei specifically. But it said that the agency’s rules that have prohibited exporting American technology to Chinese companies placed “an unreasonable burden on FedEx to police the millions of shipments that transit our network every day.”

“FedEx is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency,” the company said.

A Commerce Department spokesman said it had not yet reviewed FedEx’s complaint but would defend the agency’s role in protecting national security.

Source link Nytimes.com

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