US suspends Huawei export ban for another 90 days

President Trump’s Huawei export ban is increasingly looking like a hollow bluff as it gets yet another suspension.

Scott Bicheno

August 19, 2019

3 Min Read
Tense relations between United States and China. Concept of conflict and stress

President Trump’s Huawei export ban is increasingly looking like a hollow bluff as it gets yet another suspension.

When the US Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) put Huawei on its ‘entity list’, thus prohibiting US companies and any others that want to stay in the US’s good books from doing business with it, there were a number of stated reasons for doing so. Among them was the allegation that Huawei has been doing business with Iran, which is on another US shit-list, as well as unspecified ‘activities that are contrary to U.S. national security or foreign policy interest.’

Soon after, however, the new restrictions were suspended out of apparent concern over the disruption to US companies. At the time it seemed implausible that the various US agencies involved hadn’t anticipated such disruption, but given Trump’s impulsive brand of leadership most people were happy to accept that explanation.

Now, on the day that suspension was due to expire, BIS has decided to extend it for another 90 days, this time “…to afford consumers across America the necessary time to transition away from Huawei equipment…” Once more this begs the question that, if it’s reasonable to expect US consumers to take at least six months to wean themselves off what little Huawei gear they had been able to get hold of, why this wasn’t taken into account when the announcement was first made.

And what about all these national security and foreign policy concerns, let alone the punishment for working with Iran, which elicited such swift and merciless retribution for ZTE? It’s increasingly looking like the US isn’t half as bothered about this stuff as it makes out and is merely using the entity list as a negotiating chip in its broader geo-political spat with China.

“As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei’s products, we recognize that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Simultaneously, we are constantly working at the Department to ensure that any exports to Huawei and its affiliates do not violate the terms of the Entity Listing or Temporary General License.”

This latest concession comes soon after President Trump had dinner with Apple CEO Tim Cook, which just happens to be a massive US consumer electronics company. Cook apparently moaned about the effects of bilateral tariffs and Trump tweeted about it as if it had only just occurred to him that they might harm US companies as well as Chinese ones. All of this is coming over as increasingly disingenuous and with every new concession the threat of the entity list becomes a less effective negotiating tool.


UPDATE – 10:00 20/8/19: Alongside the extension BIS also announced it was adding an additional 46 people or organizations to the entity list due to identifying them as ‘Huawei affiliates’. This takes the total number of blacklisted Huawei affiliates over 100 and applies the same restrictions to them. BIS prioritised this move above the extension in its announcement, creating the impression that the decision was made, at least in part, to lessen the impression of a softening of the US position on Huawei.

This morning Huawei issued the following statement on the matter: “We oppose the US Commerce Department’s decision to add another 46 Huawei affiliates to the Entity List. It’s clear that this decision, made at this particular time, is politically motivated and has nothing to do with national security.

“These actions violate the basic principles of free market competition. They are in no one’s interests, including US companies. Attempts to suppress Huawei’s business won’t help the United States achieve technological leadership. We call on the US government to put an end to this unjust treatment and remove Huawei from the Entity List.

“The extension of the Temporary General License does not change the fact that Huawei has been treated unjustly. Today’s decision won’t have a substantial impact on Huawei’s business either way. We will continue to focus on developing the best possible products and providing the best possible services to our customers around the world.”

About the Author(s)

Scott Bicheno

As the Editorial Director of, Scott oversees all editorial activity on the site and also manages the Intelligence arm, which focuses on analysis and bespoke content.
Scott has been covering the mobile phone and broader technology industries for over ten years. Prior to Scott was the primary smartphone specialist at industry analyst Strategy Analytics’. Before that Scott was a technology journalist, covering the PC and telecoms sectors from a business perspective.
Follow him @scottbicheno

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