United States President Donald Trump has signalled an intervention to avoid job losses at Chinese networking-kit-and-smartmobe-maker ZTE. A deal to keep ZTE afloat could be a useful bargaining chip in those wider negotiations, while also satisfying USA companies deprived of ZTE's business by the Department of Commerce's ruling.
ZTE, which sells telcom network equipment and consumer devices including smartphones, said on Wednesday that it would cease its main business operations after the U.S. Department of Commerce announced a seven-year export restriction for the company, resulting in a ban on U.S. component makers selling to ZTE.
As one of the world's largest telecom equipment makers, ZTE relied on USA companies for components.
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"I've never seen a president step in and reverse an agency decision like this".
During recent trade meetings in Beijing, Chinese officials said they raised their objections to ZTE's punishment with the American delegation, which they said agreed to report them to Trump.
Another Chinese manufacturer, Huawei, is also under fire in the US.
ZTE was not banned from selling its products in the US, where it is the fourth most popular smartphone brand, but would nonetheless have needed to immediately transform its supply chain to be able to continue to manufacture devices without USA -made parts. According to IDC data, ZTE sources more than 40 percent of its components from the USA, creating a multibillion-dollar revenue stream for suppliers like Qualcomm and Intel.
"ZTE misled the Department of Commerce", Ross said.
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ZTE was also handed a seven-year suspended denial of export privileges, which the commerce department chose to activate last month after determining the company had lied about its handling of the matter.
"But be cool, it will all work out!" he added.
In an April 16th statement, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said ZTE made false statements to the USA government and "covered up the fact" that the company paid full bonuses to employees that had engaged in illegal conduct.
That cut off access to the United States technology it needs to build most of its products, from Qualcomm Inc.'s semiconductors to optical chips from Lumentum Holdings Inc.
Those actions led to a $1.2billion fine past year, with the current export ban imposed in April after ZTE allegedly failed to live up to its agreement, lying about the punishment of employees involved in the sanctions skirting. "This egregious behavior can not be ignored".
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California Rep. Adam Schiff, the top Democrat on the intelligence committee, criticized Trump for softening his stance on ZTE.