Trump says he wants the Commerce Department to lift ZTE's export ban

Mae Love
May 14, 2018

FBN's Connell McShane and Susan Li on the Trump administration's efforts to reduce the USA trade deficit with China and concerns of a potential recession by 2020.

It's not exactly clear how Trump plans to help ZTE or what he's instructed the Commerce Department to do.

Prior to announcing his run for president, meanwhile, Trump frequently tweeted about China stealing United States jobs.

US President Donald Trump has told his commerce department to get ZTE, the massive Chinese telecom equipment maker, back into business after it denied the company export privileges.

ZTE's troubles with the US government are also playing out amid broader fears of an ascendant Chinese tech industry.

A May 1 formal request by ZTE to the US Commerce Department for an immediate stay of the April 15 ban went unheeded, according to a person familiar with the matter.

The suspension of ZTE's operations follows several recent actions by the us government that hindered its business prospects.

But in the "Steele Dossier," the private intelligence document assembled by former British spy Christopher Steele that alleges Trump's deep ties to Russia, Steele also says that Trump's financial ties to China may be even deeper more "corrupt" than his dealings in Russia, and may even involve bribery.

The US action could be devastating to ZTE. Later, he slapped tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.

ZTE is one of the world's biggest telecommunications equipment makers.

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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.

"China and the USA cooperate in the field of trade, but the talks of past administrations for many years has been one-sided in favor of China". "But be cool, it will all work out!"

Meanwhile, ZTE, which relies on USA firms for key smartphone components, including microchips from Qualcomm and glass from Corning, has said the US export ban is a massive disruption to its business and ZTE Chairman Yin Yimin called it unfair and unacceptable.

Before the U.S. components ban, ZTE was providing services for 100 million users in India, 300 million users in Indonesia and 29 million users in Italy, the official told Reuters.

In a 2017 settlement, ZTE pleaded guilty to evading USA sanctions against Iran and North Korea and agreed to pay a $1.2 billion combined penalty, breaking the record for such sanction penalties.

At the time, the company said it was still assessing the impact of being placed on the Commerce Department's blacklist.

But a Washington D.C. -lawyer for several of ZTE's US suppliers said that reversing the sanctions on the Chinese tech giant won't be as simple as Trump makes it sound. Too many jobs in China lost. Qualcomm and Micron Technology Inc. provided chips. "They are not simply going to be able to resume business as usual", he said.

However, the crackdown has been widely interpreted as part of a broader push by the United States to stifle China's tech ambitions.

The U.S. military banned ZTE from selling products on its bases earlier this month over surveillance concerns.

"If ZTE is truly considering selling its mobile handset business, then the potential end for the company is near", Earl Lum, the President of EJL Wireless Research, a consultancy and research firm based in the United States, said.

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