Huawei pledged to invest £3 billion ($4.17 billion) in the United Kingdom as part of a procurement commitment signed by its chairwoman Sun Yafang with British PM Theresa May last week after already pumping £2 billion ($2.78 billion) into the UK economy over the four-year period ending 2017. Ms. May publicly welcomed the move that it claims will additionally strengthen the trade between the UK and China that’s already at “record levels.” While the relations between the West and China have been tested in recent times due to trade-related tensions among Washington and Beijing, the UK is pushing for its own deals with the Far East as it will soon be left without the economic protections of the European Union which it voted to leave in mid-2016. In accordance with the Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty, the UK will leave the EU by March 29, 2019, though the same pact dictates a 21-month transitional period required for the change to fully take place.
London has hence been keen to attract new foreign investors and prove that the so-called Brexit referendum wasn’t a mistake that will weaken its economy, having repeatedly catered to the Silicon Valley and tech giants from other parts of the world in the process of doing so, with the only major exception being Uber. Huawei’s decision to strengthen its ties with the UK has also been prompted by politics as the company’s planned entry into the United States has been effectively blocked by Washington last month, with AT&T dropping the agreement to carry Huawei-made devices due to a fear of losing out on lucrative federal contracts. Intelligence communities in the U.S. repeatedly pointed to Huawei as a major spying threat because of its close ties with the Chinese government, though no such allegations have ever been proven. The politics that are now preventing Huawei from striking a major retail partnership in the U.S. have reportedly prompted it to completely refocus its international expansion efforts on Europe, with the announcement of the UK deal seemingly being the first step in that plan.
Huawei said it’s looking to assist British companies in their efforts to establish a presence in China while continuing to collaborate with the country’s telecom giants such as Vodafone and BT on various fronts, including 5G research and development. Today, Huawei is estimated to be employing approximately 1,500 people in the UK across fifteen offices.