Huawei phones could get Google apps again as trade licenses loom

JC Torres - Nov 3, 2019, 10:09pm CST
Huawei phones could get Google apps again as trade licenses loom

Huawei might receive an early Christmas gift in the next few weeks, presuming the US government makes good on President Trump’s promise to grant a number of exceptions to US companies wanting to do business with Huawei. As many as 260 requests have been filed, asking a license to do trade with the Chinese manufacturer, one of which is believed to be Google. If granted, this could mean that Huawei phones will be able to ship Google Play apps and services again, at least for a short period of time.

Huawei has been accused of being a danger to US national security, earning it a place in a blacklist that forbids US companies from selling any product to the company. It is also being used as a bargaining chip in an ugly and still ongoing trade spat between the US and China. For economic considerations, US President Donald Trump remarked that the government is willing to give a few exceptions to companies who will file for a license to do trade with Huawei. So far no such license has ever been granted.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, however, is optimistic that these licenses will be coming really soon now as the US and China prepare to close a “Phase One” trade deal. The official admits they received far more requests than they expected, hinting at how many US companies are actually affected by the blacklist. Although not named, Google is believed to be one of those and if the license is granted, Huawei and its customers might be able to breathe a bit easier.

Of course, the licenses will hinge on what the US will consider as products that are not sensitive to national security. Companies making the requests argue that Huawei will be forced to source these from other countries, which would put their own businesses at stake. Other companies, like ARM Holdings, have found ways around the ban, declaring that the technology used in their ARM processor designs and IP originated in the UK, not the US.

Just because Ross or even Trump himself said so doesn’t make these licenses a sure deal. Neither are they a long-lasting solution and could be revoked at any time. Huawei’s fate remains tied to the political situation between the two global giants which could change at any time with very little warning.

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