Published: Mon, May 14, 2018
Economy | By Shawn Conner

Trump says he wants the Commerce Department to lift ZTE's export ban

Trump says he wants the Commerce Department to lift ZTE's export ban

"President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast". Trump wrote on Twitter, saying he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping on a solution.

Somewhat bizarrely, Trump cited a loss of jobs in China as a motivating factor.

The company has been banned from selling equipment in the USA, but shutting out supply chain partners like Intel, Qualcomm and Google is potentially catastrophic.

President Donald Trump's surprise Sunday directive to his Commerce Department to back off an earlier decision and help Chinese telecom giant ZTE Corp. appears to be the opposite of what two of his cabinet secretaries had urged in 2016 when they were members of Congress.

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ZTE is the second-largest telecom equipment maker in China and generated $17 billion in revenue in 2017. In a statement Wednesday, ZTE said "the major operating activities of the company have ceased".

The extent of the impact of the Commerce Department ban on USA suppliers was noted by the ZTE official, who was not authorised to speak publicly, as Chinese and U.S. government officials discuss a Washington visit next week by China's top economic official.

Chinese telecom giant ZTE said its major operations had "ceased" following last month's United States ban on American sales of critical technology to the company, raising the possibility of its collapse.

The month before, ZTE pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally selling and shipping American products to Iran.

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The firm suspended operations earlier this month after United States authorities banned American companies from supplying to it.

Qualcomm last month said it expected lost sales to ZTE to lower its earnings by 3 cents per share in the current quarter.

Trump's statement on Sunday also comes days after US and Chinese officials held high level trade talks, during which Beijing specifically brought up the restrictions on ZTE.

Against that background, the Trump administration has barred military and government employees from using smartphones from ZTE and fellow Chinese maker Huawei. A ZTE spokesman also did not respond to an email seeking comment. ZTE provides services for 100 million users in India, 300 million users in Indonesia, and 29 million users in Italy, the official said.

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Despite the offer to help ZTE, trade tensions between the US and China remain sky high.

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