American Firms, Including Intel, Sidestep Trump Administration Ban and Continue to Sell to Huawei

American firms are finding ways to sidestep the U.S. ban on doing business with Chinese firm Huawei.

According to a new report from the New York Times, U.S. tech companies, including Intel, have found ways around Donald Trump’s ban on doing business with Huawei, shipping millions of dollars worth of products to the company three weeks ago.

Intel, Micron, and other American-based companies have quietly circumvented a ban on sales to the Chinese firm, enacted in May, and anonymous sources told the newspaper that sales totalling an estimated hundreds of millions of dollars started back up three weeks ago with components that were manufactured outside the United States.

The Trump Administration, for its part, is divided on how to respond. According to the report, some understand the spirit of the law is being violated (because said administration would never violate the spirit of any law naturally) and would most likely want to push for enforcement. Others would note that this path allows the ban to remain in place while reliving some of the burdens it places on American firms.

In a statement that reflects the industry’s broader take on the Huawei ban, the Semiconductor Industry Association said:

As we have discussed with the U.S. government, it is now clear some items may be supplied to Huawei consistent with the Entity List and applicable regulations. Each company is impacted differently based on their specific products and supply chains, and each company must evaluate how best to conduct its business and remain in compliance.

At the core of the issue is the use of trade policy to augment political strategy. The Trump administration essentially seems to be using this Entity List to force China into making concessions on things like trade tariffs, currency manipulation, etc. It might end up being quite effective but U.S. companies are being asked to take on the burden of enforcement, which is both burdensome and costly. Some, it seems, are disinclined to play ball.

The United States last month placed Huawei on the Entity List after years of accusing it of spying at the behest of the Chinese government, but U.S. companies have asked for the ban to be eased as it is harming American organizations.

In related news, lawyers for Meng Wanzhou are urging Canadian authorities to drop the extradition proceedings against the Huawei executive.

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