22 July 2019
Qualcomm is said to be among the US chipmakers that are quietly lobbying the Trump administration for an easing on a Huawei sales ban. Photo: Bloomberg
Qualcomm is said to be among the US chipmakers that are quietly lobbying the Trump administration for an easing on a Huawei sales ban. Photo: Bloomberg

US chipmakers quietly lobby to ease Huawei ban: report

Huawei’s American chip suppliers, including Qualcomm and Intel, are quietly pressing the Trump administration to ease its ban on sales to the Chinese tech giant, Reuters reports, citing sources familiar with the matter.

Executives from Intel and Xilinx attended a meeting in late May with the Commerce Department to discuss a response to Huawei’s placement on the blacklist, according to the report.

The ban bars US suppliers from selling to Huawei without special approval, because of what the government said were national security issues.

Qualcomm has also pressed the Commerce Department over the issue, sources told Reuters.

Chip makers argue that Huawei units selling products such as smartphones and computer servers use commonly available parts, and are unlikely to present the same security concerns as the Chinese technology firm’s 5G networking gear, according to the report.

“This isn’t about helping Huawei. It’s about preventing harm to American companies,” Reuters cited a source as saying.

Out of US$70 billion that Huawei spent buying components in 2018, some US$11 billion is said to have gone to American firms including Qualcomm, Intel and Micron Technology.

Qualcomm, for example, wants to be able to continue shipping chips to Huawei for common devices like phones and smart watches, according to a Reuters source.

The Semiconductor Industry Association (SIA), a trade group, acknowledged it arranged consultations with the US government on behalf of the companies to help them comply and brief officials on the impact of the ban on the companies.

“For technologies that do not relate to national security, it seems they shouldn’t fall within the scope of the order. And we have conveyed this perspective to government,” Jimmy Goodrich, vice president of global policy at SIA, was quoted as saying.

Google, which sells hardware, software and technical services to Huawei, has also advocated so it can keep selling to the company, Huawei Chairman Liang Hua told reporters in China earlier this month.

A Commerce Department representative said the agency “routinely responds to inquiries from companies regarding the scope of regulatory requirements,” adding that the conversations do not “influence law enforcement actions.”

In an interview in Mexico, Andrew Williamson, vice president of Huawei’s public affairs, said the company had not asked anyone specifically to lobby on its behalf.

“They’re doing it by their own desire because, for many of them, Huawei is one of their major customers,” Williamson told Reuters, adding that chipmakers knew that cutting Huawei off could have “catastrophic” consequences for them.

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