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US poised to issue licences for supply of non-sensitive goods to Huawei

The US Commerce Department has received more than 130 applications from companies for licences to sell US goods to Huawei
  • Reuters (ARN)
  • 10 October, 2019 15:15

The United States may soon issue licences allowing some US companies to supply non-sensitive goods to China's Huawei, the New York Times has reported, as high-level officials from the two countries meet this week to resume trade talks.

Huawei Technologies, the world's biggest telecoms gear maker, has been put on a US 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 US companies without US government approval, limiting its access to essential technologies such as Google Mobile Services.

US companies can seek a licence for specific products to be exempted from the ban. The US Commerce Department has received more than 130 applications from companies for licences to sell US goods to Huawei, it was reported in August.

Government officials urged US companies to apply for licences following US 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 licences for a few American companies to bypass the curbs, the New York Times said, citing people familiar with the matter.

A US Commerce Department spokesman has said that no official direction has been granted to the department on the matter as of Wednesday afternoon.

Huawei did not immediately respond to 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 US administration expanded its blacklist on Monday by adding 28 Chinese entities, including top artificial intelligence startups, over human rights concerns.

Tariffs are forcing China to pay attention to US concerns, US 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 and Lincoln Feast.)