The US government has started to ease its ban on domestic companies doing business with Huawei, stating that some firms will be licensed to supply the Chinese giant.
Huawei has been frozen out of the US device and telecoms equipment markets for several years, and earlier this year was effectively blacklisted by Washington on national security grounds.
The ruling limited Huawei’s access to components and meant its handsets would no longer receive updates for the Android operating system from Google or access to its popular applications.
Although Huawei is building its own operating system and produces its own components (it already makes its own Kirin processors), the absence of key services like Google Maps and the Google Play Store is a huge blow in terms of the appeal of its devices in Western markets. Meanwhile, the production of components such as modems is an expensive, laborious task.
American technology firms have been lobbying the US government to reconsider its approach, with Qualcomm, Intel and Broadcom among those standing to lose significant revenue streams if they can’t supply Huawei.
Broadcom had lowered its expectations for the year due to the difficulties at Huawei.
The US Government had previously indicated that it might relax the ban in order to help US companies and kickstart trade negotiations with China, but had not given any detail on how fair the reprieve would go.
Now it’s confirmed that some vendors will be able to do business with Huawei – so long as there’s no national security risk. It’s unclear which product categories are deemed to be safe, and it’s worth pointing out that the ruling is still effective, meaning it could be enforced once again if trade talks stall.
Huawei has persistently denied any accusations of wrongdoing, while the US has never produced any evidence to support its claims that the company’s networking equipment represents a threat to national security.