Huawei highlights value to UK economy amid security questions

An independent report claims Huawei boosted the UK economy by £1.7bn in 2018, as the debate over the company’s security continues.

A study by Oxford Economics, commissioned at the end of last year, said the Chinese firm now supports more than 26,000 jobs in the UK.

But the company’s place in the development and infrastructure of 5G networks is under scrutiny over concerns Huawei equipment could be exploited for espionage.

Fears have been raised that Huawei and its network equipment could be used by the Chinese state as a route to spy on the West, with the US pressuring allies to distance themselves from the company.

The technology company is now the world’s second largest smartphone manufacturer and a market leader in equipment needed to build next-generation 5G mobile data networks.

Gavin Williamson has denied being behind any leak (Dominic Lipinski/PA)

Last month, details of a meeting of the UK’s National Security Council to discuss Huawei’s place in UK telecoms infrastructure were leaked.

The Daily Telegraph subsequently reported Prime Minister Theresa May would allow Huawei’s presence despite concerns raised by several Cabinet ministers.

Following an investigation into the leak, defence secretary Gavin Williamson was sacked, though he has denied being behind it.

The Government has since said no decision has yet been made over Huawei’s presence in 5G networks.

The Oxford Economics report said Huawei’s contribution to the UK economy came from a mixture of direct activities by the firm, value added through its supply chain and spending by its employees and suppliers.

It also said the company had invested £112m in research and development in the UK in 2018, employing more than 300 people.

The research also said the firm provided tax revenue of £470m last year.

It was released ahead of the company’s Partner Summit, due to take place later on Tuesday in London.

We are proud of the role we have played in helping to develop the UK's digital infrastructure and we remain committed to being a strong and innovative partner to our customers

Sir Andrew Cahn, non-executive director of Huawei UK, said the firm remained “fully committed” to the UK.

“The UK has an outstanding reputation for nurturing business growth and pioneering innovation, and we are extremely proud of our relationships with our partners in the UK,” he said.

“Huawei has enjoyed great success helping to build the UK’s telecoms networks and we remain fully committed to the UK.

“This is one of our most important markets globally and we fully intend to help it remain a leader in new technologies.”

The firm’s UK chief executive, Jerry Wang, added the company still hoped to be a part of 5G networks in the future.

“Today’s findings prove Huawei’s value and contribution to the UK economy,” he said.

“As part of its Industrial Strategy, the UK Government has said it wants ‘a Britain that lives on the digital frontier, with full-fibre broadband, new 5G networks and smart technologies’.

“We are proud of the role we have played in helping to develop the UK’s digital infrastructure and we remain committed to being a strong and innovative partner to our customers.”

- Press Association

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