Less than a week ago, President Donald Trump promised to ease the ban on American companies doing business with Huawei, but it turns out he was telling a half truth. According to Reuters, the Commerce Department has been told to continue treating Huawei as if the blacklist is still in place.
This week, the enforcement staff were allegedly presented with an internal letter from John Sonderman, Deputy Director of the Office of Export Enforcement, outlining instructions on how to handle matters involving Huawei. The letter states that applications from companies that wish to sell to Huawei should be considered on merit and flagged with language that notes Huawei is on the entity list. A “presumption of denial” licensing policy will also remain in place meaning applications will be scrutinized more closely and most of them will be rejected. Reuters noted that this is the only guidance enforcement officials have received since Trump announced the agreement he made with Chinese premier Xi Jinping at the G20 summit.
Huawei has been in hot water with the U.S. for some time now after suspicions arose that its equipment was being used for spying. In May, Huawei was added to an “entity list” along with 70 other companies that the U.S. was not allowed to do business with. But even the latest updates made it no more clear to Huawei where exactly it stands with U.S. companies. Currently, Huawei is still waiting on a response from the Commerce Department about using Google’s Android operating system in future mobile devices.
Nonetheless, Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei is confident in his company’s ability to source equipment from other countries if Trump’s agreement doesn’t pan out, telling the Financial Times that the ban has helped the company “become more united than ever.” He added, “if we aren’t allowed to use U.S. components, we are very confident in our ability to use components made in China and other countries.”