Trump says US firms can sell to Huawei

Kyodo News via Getty ImageHuawei CEO Ren Zhengfei.
  • President Trump has said US firms can continue selling to Huawei, apparently contradicting a Commerce Department trade blacklist on the Chinese tech firm.
  • Trump told a press conference at the G20 summit in Japan on Saturday: “We’re allowing them to sell.”
  • Trump said Huawei would likely come up during renewed trade talks with Chinese president Xi Jinping, but refused to say that the firm was off the blacklist.
  • His remarks appeared to be a concession to China, after the two countries agreed on Friday to a trade-war truce on the sidelines of the summit.
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US president Donald Trump has said American firms are allowed to continue trading with Huawei, in an apparent concession after initial discussions with Chinese president Xi Jinping.

The Commerce Department blacklisted Huawei last month, meaning US firms are not permitted to sell to the Chinese firm without a licence, although many firms have worked around the block. Trump’s remarks come as he and Xi Jinping agreed a trade war truce while at the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan on Friday.

Speaking at a press conference during the G20 summit in Japan, the president said: “I did agree to allow our companies – you know, jobs, I like our companies selling things to other people. So I allowed that to happen. Very complex things. Not easy – this is not things that are easy to make.

“Very few companies are able to do it, but a tremendous amount of money. Our companies were very upset. These companies are great companies you know all of them. But they weren’t exactly happy with it. But we’re allowing that, because that wasn’t national security.”

He added: “We’re allowing them to sell.”

Trump’s remarks apparently contradict the Commerce Department ban, and he refused to confirm that Huawei would be formally removed from the blacklist.

He said Huawei would come up as a subject right at the end of renewed trade talks with China.

“Huawei is a complicated situation, we’re leaving Huawei towards the end,” he said. “We’ll see where we go with the trade agreement.”

Pressed multiple times on whether Huawei would be dropped from the blacklist, he added:

“I don’t want to talk about it now, we’re looking at that very carefully. Huawei is very much in play in terms of our country and in terms of intelligence and the intelligence community – we know a lot about Huawei – but I don’t want to mention that right now. I just think it’s inappropriate. We’re not making it other than what I told you… We’re going to save that for later.”

Washington has banned Huawei on the basis of national security concerns, and the firm is a lightning rod for the trade dispute between China and the US.

Huawei has previously said the US blacklist would harm billions of consumers, and denies that it’s a national security risk.

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