For the third time this year, the US Commerce Department has granted another 90-day reprieve to Huawei that lets American companies continue to do business with China’s biggest telecom. The new rule takes effect on November 18th, and it follows the first extension granted in May and the second in August.
After Huawei was added into the Entity List earliest this year by the U.S. Commerce Department citing national security concerns, it was nevertheless allowed to purchase some American-made goods in order to minimize disruptions, including networks in rural America.
“The Temporary General License extension will allow carriers to continue to service customers in some of the most remote areas of the United States who would otherwise be left in the dark,” said Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in a statement. He also told Fox Business Network on Friday, “there are enough problems with telephone service in the rural communities – we don’t want to knock them out. So, one of the main purposes of the temporary general licenses is to let those rural guys continue to operate.”
The new rule grants Huawei and 114 of its non-U.S. affiliates on the Entity List until February 16, 2020 to continue certain activities, with any imports or exports not covered by the details of the Temporary General License still requiring explicit approval first from the Bureau of Industry and Security. Despite the extension, however, Huawei is still excluded from preloading its phones with Google apps and must stick to the open-source components of Android.
In a statement provided to The Verge, a Huawei spokesperson said:
Extending the Temporary General License won’t have a substantial impact on Huawei’s business either way. This decision does not change the fact that Huawei continues to be treated unfairly.
This development comes amid continuing discussions between the United States and China to resolve a trade war that has lasted for over a year. In response to national security claims made against it by the U.S. government, Huawei continues to deny the accusations.
After months of stalling, the US Commerce Department has begun issuing special licenses that allow some US companies to resume their trade with Huawei. Prior to today’s announcement, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Fox Business Network that there were “290-something requests” for licenses to sell tech to the company.
In an emailed statement to the Washington Post, the Commerce Department said it was only authorizing “limited and specific activities which do not pose a significant risk to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.” Many of the recipients who received these special permits have been semiconductor companies, with their names being withheld by the Semiconductor Industry Association.
According to people familiar with the matter, some companies had their special permit requests denied, and they will have 20 days to make an appeal before the denial becomes final. Despite this progress, the Commerce Department says the granting of some licenses does not change Huawei’s inclusion in the Entity List nor the terms of the recent 90-day reprieve.