Given everything that has happened in the past four months, it almost feels like Huawei’s battle with the US government was so long ago. In reality, however, it was exactly last year that US President Donald Trump invoked a new law that empowered his government to ban US companies from doing business with Huawei. Given present circumstances, it’s not surprising that the US is extending that ban for yet another year, putting Huawei’s business as well as its customers in limbo yet again.
The Chinese giant has been accused of many foul deeds, some warranted and some perhaps not. Although there have not been any formal charges or trials (aside from one case in Canada), Huawei has been painted as a tool of the Chinese government or, at the very least, a liability to the US. It’s exactly for those reasons of national security that the US government put Huawei on an entity list that banned US companies from transacting with Huawei and banned Huawei from purchasing US-made goods.
That ban will now be in places for another year until May 2021 but, just like in the past 12 months, it isn’t an absolute prohibition. The US Department of Commerce has been granting temporary licenses on a case to case basis that allowed US companies and Huawei to do some business, mostly to support existing products and services. The last license is set to expire on Friday and the Commerce Department is expected to renew it again for a still undetermined period.
Some sectors, however, are clamoring for a longer-term license rather than one that has to be renewed every two or three months with no certainty. The CTIA wireless trade association argues that now is not the time to place network operators in uncertainty on whether they will be able to operate and maintain their equipment. Huawei’s biggest presence in the US is not in mobile phones but in networking equipment, especially in rural areas.
An extension wouldn’t mean Huawei will be able to sell phones again in the US during that period. That said, US consumers will still be able to buy some older models if they’re really set on that. They will, however, have to settle for a Huawei P30 Pro at most, the last Huawei phone that comes with Google Play Store.