The US Commerce Department has received more than 130 applications from companies for licenses to sell US goods to China’s Huawei Technologies, three sources said, nearly two months after President Donald Trump said some sales would be allowed. But the Trump administration has not yet granted any licenses for sales to the blacklisted company, said the people familiar with the process who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.
The standstill coincides with mixed messages from Trump in the US-China trade war, which have dimmed hopes for prompt decisions on license applications to sell to Huawei, the world’s top producer of telecoms equipment.
That has raised the spectre of billions of dollars of lost sales for chipmakers, software companies and others in Huawei’s US supply chain.
“Nobody in the executive branch knows what (Trump) wants and they’re all afraid to make a decision without knowing that,” said William Reinsch, a former Commerce department official.
Last week, Trump vowed to raise tariffs on $550 billion in Chinese imports, hours after China imposed new levies on $75 billion in US goods. Then he softened his tone towards China at the G7 leaders’ meeting over the weekend, saying he thought the world’s two largest economies would reach a deal to end the tit-for-tat trade war that has roiled markets and hammered growth.
The current number of license applications, not previously reported, far exceeds the 50 or so that US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross disclosed receiving in July.
A spokesman for the Commerce Department said: “The interagency process, weighing license requests concerning Huawei and its non-US affiliates, is currently ongoing.”
Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment but has called for the United States to remove the company from the so-called entity list and put an end to what it called “unjust treatment.”
Huawei, the world’s no. 2 smartphone maker, was placed on the list because of US national security concerns in May, when trade talks with China broke down. Sales of US goods are mostly banned to companies on the list, unless suppliers obtain special licenses, which must overcome tough scrutiny.