U.S. Commerce Department scales back restrictions on Huawei

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U.S. Commerce Department scales back restrictions on Huawei

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Huawei is seen at the high profile startups and high tech leaders gathering, Viva Tech,in Paris, France May 16, 2019. REUTERS/Charles Platiau/File Photo

(Reuters) – The U.S. Commerce Department on Monday created a temporary general license restoring Huawei’s ability to maintain existing networks and provide software updates to existing Huawei handsets.

The license, which was posted for public inspection, scales back the restrictions imposed by the U.S. government last week on Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s buying U.S. goods in order to help existing customers. The temporary license lasts until Aug. 19.

Huawei did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

On Thursday, the U.S. Commerce Department added Huawei and 68 entities to an export blacklist that makes it nearly impossible for the Chinese company to purchase goods made in the United States. Huawei is now on a list of entities that are banned from doing business with U.S. companies without licenses.

Reuters reported Friday that the department was considering the temporary move to allow time for companies and people who have Huawei equipment to maintain reliability of their communications networks and equipment, citing a government spokeswoman.

The entities list identifies companies believed to be involved in activities contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States.

Reuters reported Sunday that Alphabet Inc’s Google suspended business with Huawei that requires the transfer of hardware, software and technical services except those publicly available via open source licensing, citing a source familiar with the matter.

Holders of current Huawei smartphones with Google apps, however, will continue to be able to use and download app updates provided by Google, a Google representative said, confirming earlier reporting by Reuters.

Potential beneficiaries of the temporary license could include internet access and mobile phone service providers in thinly populated places such as Wyoming and eastern Oregon that purchased network equipment from Huawei in recent years.

Reporting by Karen Freifeld, David Shepardson and Diane Bartz in Washington; Editing by Lisa Shumaker