President Trump: US and China Going to Get ZTE Back to Business

14 May, 2018, 06:03 | Author: Natasha Holloway
  • Denis O’Brien-owned Digicel said much of its ZTE-related infrastructure roll-out was already complete

US President Donald Trump said Sunday he was working with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping to prevent telecom giant ZTE from going out of business after it was hit by an American technology sales ban.

President Donald Trump said in a tweet Sunday that he's working to give China's ZTE "a way to get back into business, fast".

Trump campaigned on restoring manufacturing jobs in the U.S., not China.

The US Department of Commerce issued the trade ban following its determination of a violation of terms ZTE had agreed to after it was found selling embargoed technology to Iran in 2012. American companies are estimated to provide 25 percent to 30 percent of components in ZTE's equipment, which includes smartphones and gear to build telecommunications networks.

The Commerce Department, ZTE and the Chinese embassy in Washington could not immediately be reached for comment.

Representatives from both the US and China - which boast the world's largest economies, with nominal GDPs of almost $19.4 trillion and approximately $12 trillion, respectively - held trade talks in early May. The president has taken a tough stance on what his administration deems unfair trade practices by the Chinese government.

The telecom firm said it had shut down "the major operating activities of the company".

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Trump is seeking to cut the chronic US trade deficit by $100 billion and gain concessions over the policies that foreign companies say force them to share technology in order to gain market access.

Granting a reprieve to ZTE - a firm with over 70,000 employees, over $17 billion in annual revenue and close ties to the government - doesn't fit with the strategy to hurt China, but then Trump's administration is hardly by the book and often times seemingly pragmatic.

Several U.S. intelligence agencies have warned against buying ZTE and Huawei phones. In 2016 the Obama administration announced that it was punishing the company for its alleged sanctions violations by restricting the sale of key US exports to ZTE, but weeks later it suspended the punishment after the telecom equipment maker agreed to work with USA authorities.

ZTE was not banned from selling its products in the US, where it is the fourth most popular smartphone brand, but would nonetheless have needed to immediately transform its supply chain to be able to continue to manufacture devices without USA -made parts.

Adding to tensions, the company was slapped with a $1.2 billion fine a year ago after the U.S government discovered it was doing business with North Korea and Iran. "This egregious behaviour can not be ignored". "You should care more about our national security than Chinese jobs".

"But be cool, it will all work out!" he added.

Shares of ZTE suppliers including Acacia, Oclaro, Lumentum Holdings Inc, Finisar Corp, Inphi Corp and Fabrinet fell sharply after the ban was announced.

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