U.S. to issue licenses for supply of non-sensitive goods to Huawei: NYT

(Reuters) – The United States will soon issue licenses allowing some U.S. companies to supply non-sensitive goods to China’s Huawei, the New York Times reported, as high-level officials from the two countries meet this week to resume trade talks.

FILE PHOTO: The Huawei logo is pictured at the IFA consumer tech fair in Berlin, Germany, September 5, 2019. REUTERS/Hannibal Hanschke/File Photo

Huawei Technologies Co Ltd, the world’s biggest telecoms gear maker, has been put on a U.S. trade blacklist since May, when trade talks between Washington and Beijing broke down. The United States says the company can spy on customers, which Huawei denies.

The blacklisting blocked Huawei from buying parts and components from U.S. companies without U.S. government approval, limiting its access to essential technologies such as Google Mobile Services.

U.S. companies can seek a license for specific products to be exempted from the ban. The U.S. Commerce Department has received more than 130 applications from companies for licenses to sell U.S. goods to Huawei, Reuters reported in August.

Government officials urged U.S. companies to apply for licenses following U.S. President Donald Trump’s pledge of relief, saying exports to Huawei of non-sensitive items that are readily replaced by foreign competitors would be permitted.

Trump’s administration gave the green light last week to start approving licenses for a few American companies to bypass the curbs, the New York Times said nyti.ms/35pED2e, citing people familiar with the matter.

A U.S. Commerce Department spokesman told Reuters that no official direction has been granted to the department on the matter as of Wednesday afternoon.

Huawei did not immediately respond to Reuters requests for comment.

The licensing decisions would give much needed clarity to American companies, which have been looking for guidance since Trump promised in late June to provide some relief to firms that did business with Huawei.

The move comes as the two countries are set to meet later this week in Washington for talks to end their 15-month trade war. Tensions mounted after U.S. administration expanded its blacklist on Monday by adding 28 Chinese entities, including top artificial intelligence startups, over human rights concerns.

When asked about the possible exemptions China’s government did not comment specifically, but instead called on the United States to treat Chinese companies fairly.

“China urges the U.S. side to cease its forced suppression and sanctions on Chinese companies, including Huawei, and fairly and justly treat Chinese enterprises,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang Thursday at a daily briefing.

Tariffs are forcing China to pay attention to U.S. concerns, U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, who is on an official visit to Australia on Thursday, was quoted as saying in a copy of speech seen by Reuters.

Reporting by Kanishka Singh in Bengaluru; Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington; Writing by Miyoung Kim; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Muralikumar Anantharaman, Lincoln Feast and Deepa Babington

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