Not too long ago, ZTE was a firm that you’d only associate with lower-end, own-brand devices being sold on the likes of MetroPCS, T-Mobile and Boost. Nowadays though, ZTE has become a big name brand in the US in its own right, through partnerships with the NBA and releases like the ZTE Axon line of smartphones. The global stage is still where ZTE is strongest though, and particularly on their home turf of Asia. Last week however, the United States Government dealt a blow to Chinese ZTE by placing an exports ban in place, making it virtually impossible for ZTE to get their hands on some of the components they rely upon from firms here in the US.
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The export ban focuses around Iran, and the fact that some of ZTE’s products and parts found their way into the country, and of course the US has been running an exports ban to Iran for a long time now. This put ZTE in violation of these rules, and thus the export ban to ZTE was put in place. Now, it’s thought that ZTE will be making a public appeal against the export ban, as efforts from their – extensive – lobbyists have failed. ZTE used lobbyists to reach out to lawmakers and met with the Department of Treasury and the Department of Commerce. As Reuters is reporting, ZTE enlisted the help of former Congressman for Nebraska, Jon Lynn Christensen to attend these meetings, but it’s said that these meetings weren’t directly about the exports ban, but more about “educating members of congress on a smartphone manufacturer and the opportunities (ZTE) provided for a very affordable phone”.
We’ll never know just what went on behind closed doors, but it’s clear that ZTE is keen to get the exports ban lifted and get back to work. The exports ban is likely to affect their global supply chains and before long impact production of new smartphones and devices. Since 2011 ZTE has spent a whopping $5.1 Million on lobbyist efforts, no doubt to turn the tide of 2012’s House Intelligence Committee damaging report that ZTE could be used to help the Chinese Government hack US computers and networks. The appeals process is probably going to be a long, drawn out process, but ZTE will no doubt try everything they can in order to get things moving once again.