US tech firms are reportedly working around the Huawei ban, and Trump officials are split on what to do

  • A new report from The New York Times reveals that US tech firms, including Intel, are still doing business with Huawei despite the Chinese company being blacklisted by the Trump administration.
  • Citing four sources, the Times said millions of dollars worth of products were sold to Huawei and made their way into China around three weeks ago.
  • The US government is said to be aware of this, but officials are split on how they should respond.
  • Some say that the sales undermine government efforts to pressure Huawei. Others are supportive as it lightens the blow of the ban for American corporations.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

US tech companies, including Intel, have found ways around Donald Trump’s ban on doing business with Huawei, shipping millions of dollars worth of products to the company three weeks ago,a report from The New York Times reveals.

Four sources familiar with the matter told the Times that firms have avoided goods being labelled as American-made. They said officials in the Trump administration are aware of the situation but are split on how to respond.

“Some officials feel that the sales violate the spirit of the law and undermine government efforts to pressure Huawei, while others are more supportive because it lightens the blow of the ban for American corporations,” the Times wrote.

A spokesperson for Huawei did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment. Intel declined to comment when contacted by the Times.

Huawei has been placed on an “entity list” which means US companies need permission to do business with the Chinese tech firm from August. Huawei previously said it buys around $US11 billion in technology from US companies each year.

In an earnings call on Tuesday, the CEO of US tech company Micron, which creates memory chips, confirmed that it had resumed shipping of “a subset” of products.

“We have started shipping some orders of those products to Huawei in the last two weeks,” CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said. He added that there is “ongoing uncertainty” surrounding the Huawei situation. “We are unable to predict the volumes or time periods over which we will be able to ship products to Huawei,” he said.

The Times also spoke to Kevin Wolf, a former Commerce Department official and partner at the law firm Akin Gump, who has advised executives from several American technology companies who supply Huawei.

He told these executives that Huawei’s addition to the list does not prevent American suppliers from continuing sales, as long as the goods and services are not made in the US, the Times said.

Wolf said that a chip, for example, could be supplied to Huawei if it has been manufactured outside of the US and does not contain technology that could pose a national security risk.

However, if that chip maker provided services from the US for troubleshooting or instruction on how to use the product, the company would not be able to sell to Huawei, he added.

After the Times’ report was published, Garrett Marquis, the White House National Security Council spokesman, responded to Wolf’s comments.

“If true, it’s disturbing that a former Senate-confirmed Commerce Department official, who was previously responsible for enforcement of US export control laws including through entity list restrictions, may be assisting listed entities to circumvent those very enforcement mechanisms,” he said, per the Times.

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