U.S. Approves First Licenses for Tech Sales to Huawei

(The Washington Post) -
u.s. huawei
A Huawei store in Beijing. (AP Photo/Andy Wong, File)

The Trump administration said it has begun issuing licenses to some companies allowing them to restart U.S. tech sales to Chinese telecom giant Huawei, months after adding the company to a trade blacklist.

Some companies began receiving the licenses Wednesday morning from the Commerce Department, according to people familiar with the matter. The Commerce Department said it also notified other companies that it intends to deny their license applications. The companies will have twenty days to appeal before the denial is official.

In an emailed statement, the Commerce Department said it was authorizing only “limited and specific activities which do not pose a significant risk to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.”

Semiconductor companies are among the license recipients, according to the Semiconductor Industry Association.

The Commerce Department said the granting of some licenses did not change Huawei’s inclusion on the department’s so-called Entity List of companies considered national security risks, and that the granting of some licenses did not change a temporary 90-day reprieve that the Commerce Department issued this week intended primarily to benefit rural telecoms dependent on Huawei equipment.

“We welcome the administration’s approval of export licenses for commercial semiconductor technologies that do not pose national security concerns,” the Semiconductor Industry Association said in an emailed statement.

“Sales of these non-sensitive commercial products help ensure the competitiveness of the U.S. semiconductor industry, which is essential to national security,” the group said. “We hope license approvals continue to proceed in an appropriate and timely manner.”

In an interview on Fox Business News Tuesday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said there had been “290-something requests” for licenses to sell tech to China.

He also defended the 90-day reprieve, the third one the administration had granted since the May ban was imposed.

“You can’t cut the local people out of telephone service,” he said.