What Donald Trump’s G20 Summit 2019 statement actually means for Huawei

There’s been a fair amount of confusion since U.S. president, Donald Trump, announced that American companies could still deal with Chinese tech giant, Huawei. On the one hand, it seemed that Trump had made significant enough progress in trade concession talks with Chinese president, Xi Jinping that the ban had been reversed.

On the other, we’ve heard that American enforcement agents being told that they are to continue treating Huawei as a “blacklisted” company. They were earlier put on the U.S. Department of Commerce’s blacklist of entities, which means that Huawei is prohibited from receiving American-made components without express permission from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

“Relaxed a bit”

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said earlier that his department “will issue licences where there is no threat to US national security.” Notably, he explained that the Chinese company is still blacklisted; “Huawei itself remains on the Entity List, and the announcement does not change the scope of items requiring licenses.”

Reuters also reported the director of the White House National Economic Council, Larry Kudlow, as saying:

“[The U.S. has] opened the door—relaxed a bit, the licensing requirements from the Commerce Department.”

While he said that the U.S. government will allow for the sale of non-security critical components to Huawei by American companies, this relaxing of restrictions is to be “for a limited time period”, according to The Financial Times. Perhaps this could mean reimposition of the restrictions if trade talks go south from here, as well.

The statements offer a modicum of clarity to the whole situation, with Trump seemingly reversing the ban after trade talks with Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit in Osaka recently. This seemed to suggest that the entire process was a ploy to gain some leverage in the ongoing trade tensions between the U.S. and Chinese governments.

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However, there are still questions up in the air. What constitutes national security concerns when it comes to specific components? Does this apply to licences for Google’s OS, Android? What about manufacturers like Qualcomm and ARM’s components? With the U.S. having previously given Huawei and other involved parties a 90-day reprieve (in effect until August 19) on the enforcement of the initial ban, we’ll have to see.

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