US government to grant Huawei licences 'soon'

(Image credit: Huawei)

The US government has said that US firms wanting to deal with Huawei could be granted licences to do so in the immediate future.

American companies are currently banned from selling their products to the Chinese company after it was blacklisted on national security grounds earlier this year. This has meant Huawei has been unable to source key technologies and software, such as Google applications.

Suppliers lobbied the US government to reconsider its approach, with several set to lose significant revenue streams if they can't supply Huawei. Washington relented and said some vendors would be able to do business with Huawei – so long as there was no security risk.

Huawei security

However despite promises to expediate the process, none of the more than 200 applications submitted to the US government have been approved.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expects a ‘phase one’ trade deal to be agreed with China soon, and that the department will begin approving or declining applications.

“That’s a lot of applications - it’s frankly more than we would’ve thought,” Bloomberg quotes Ross as saying. “Remember too with entity lists there’s a presumption of denial. So the safe thing for these companies would be to assume denial, even though we will obviously approve quite a few of them.”

Huawei has frequently denied any allegations of wrongdoing, but the sanctions could have an impact on its long term prospects. However it has come out fighting, telling an event in Paris that it would maintain robust business growth whether it is able to use US technologies or not.

The US has never produced any evidence to support its claims but is urging its allies to follow its lead and ban Huawei from their 5G rollouts. Such warnings have had limited impact in Europe, where Huawei is a major partner for many major operators. This includes the UK, where reports suggest the government will not prevent the company from playing a role.

Germany too had declined to impose any specific requirements on the company, instead ruling that all suppliers would face stricter security criteria. However foreign minister Heiko Mass has cast doubt on whether these criteria will allow Huawei to participate in its rollout, arguing Huawei is dependent on Chinese national security laws that require it to pass on information to Beijing. Huawei has repeatedly refuted any suggestions it engages in such practices.a

Via Bloomberg / Reuters

Steve McCaskill is TechRadar Pro's resident mobile industry expert, covering all aspects of the UK and global news, from operators to service providers and everything in between. He is a former editor of Silicon UK and journalist with over a decade's experience in the technology industry, writing about technology, in particular, telecoms, mobile and sports tech, sports, video games and media.