The U.S. government may be on the brink of approving the first licenses which will allow U.S. companies to sell to Huawei, according to a report published by The New York Times, quoting sources familiar with the matter. It states President Trump has agreed for license approval to begin, although it has not been revealed which companies have applied for licenses, or how long the approval process will take.
Huawei was placed on the Entity List, which bans U.S. firms from doing business with it, in May. It was subsequently given a temporary license which allowed it to continue certain working relationships in the U.S., but this did not include renewing crucial agreements with Google, forcing Huawei to launch the Mate 30 Pro smartphone without Google services on board.
The Entity List can be circumvented by companies that apply for an exemption, and at least 120 companies have apparently applied to the U.S. Commerce Department to resume trading with Huawei. However, it was made clear at the time licenses would only be given to companies supplying goods and services considered non-sensitive, and the presumption should always be that the license would be denied. Since the confirmation companies could apply for licenses in June, none have been issued.
What would this mean for Huawei phones?
While it’s positive news the U.S. government is now able to approve licenses, it does not necessarily mean any will be signed and given out. The definition of what can be sold to Huawei with a license is not very well defined, but is known as “general merchandise,” according to The New York Times, and does not include anything that would be considered a security risk. In the New York Times piece, it is stated some U.S. companies have continued selling to Huawei, having found alternative methods for doing so, including not stating where items were made, and using businesses outside the U.S. to trade with the company.
What would this mean for the Mate 30 Pro and future Huawei device releases such as the Huawei Mate X folding phone? In an interview with Digital Trends, Huawei Business Group chairman Richard Yu said the process to introduce Google services to the Mate 30 Pro would be speedy, should the situation allow. It would also be able to launch other brand new phones with Google services immediately.
Like the Huawei situation from the very start, the waiting game continues to find out which companies have applied for a license to trade with Huawei, whether Google is among them, and how many will be approved. It’s also worth remembering Huawei is also being used as a bargaining chip in President Trump’s ongoing trade war with China, meaning positive indications may be tied to other negotiations and therefore will rely on agreements being made elsewhere to become reality.