US commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said the US government will extend a reprieve given to Huawei that permits the Chinese firm to buy supplies from US companies so that it can service existing customers, even as nearly 50 of its units were being added to a US economic blacklist.
The department said the 90-day extension “is intended to afford consumers across America the necessary time to transition away from Huawei equipment, given the persistent national security and foreign policy threat”.
“As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei’s products, we recognise that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption,” Mr Ross said.
He also said he was adding 46 Huawei affiliates to the so-called Entity List — a list of companies effectively banned from doing businesses with US customers — raising the total number to more than 100 Huawei entities that are covered by the restrictions.
The list includes Huawei affiliates in Argentina, Australia, Belarus, China, Costa Rica, France, India, Italy, Mexico and numerous other countries.
Mr Ross said the extension was to aid US customers, many of which operate networks in rural America.
“We’re giving them a little more time to wean themselves off,” Mr Ross told Fox Business Network.
Shortly after blacklisting the company in May, the US commerce department initially allowed Huawei to purchase some American-made goods in a move aimed at minimising disruption for its customers.
The extension, through November 18, renews an agreement continuing the Chinese company’s ability to maintain existing telecoms networks and provide software updates to Huawei handsets.
The department said it is now requiring the exporter, re-exporter, or transferor to obtain a certification statement from any Huawei entity prior to using the temporary general licence.
Asked what will happen in November to US companies, Mr Ross said: “Everybody has had plenty of notice of it, there have been plenty of discussions with the president.”
When the department blocked Huawei from buying US goods earlier this year, it was seen as a major escalation in the China-US trade war.
The US government blacklisted Huawei, alleging the Chinese company is involved in activities contrary to national security or foreign policy interests.