The Trump administration is now ready to meet a two-year deadline to enforce some key provisions of a ban that targets Huawei. In a letter dated June 12, which was seen by Reuters, the acting director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, Russell Vought has said that the administration is committed to taking all the required steps to make sure all prohibitions related to national security are enforced.
It appears that pressure from Congress is at play as just five days ago, Vought had asked for a delay in the implementation of certain parts of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that was signed by President Donald Trump in 2018. The Office of Management and Budget has had two years to enforce it from the time it was approved by the President.
The letter, which was addressed to Senator James Inhofe, who chairs the Armed Services Committee, says that after learning about the importance of implementing the law within the stipulated deadline, the administration will do just that.
The bill bars the government from signing contracts with Huawei or buying equipment from it. U.S. officials accuse Huawei of operating at the directives of the Chinese government and stealing intellectual property.
The law requires government contractors and third party suppliers to suspend their use of Huawei equipment and given that the Chinese company is the biggest maker of telecom equipment in the world, suspending business relations with it wouldn’t be as easy as it may sound. Therefore, Vought had earlier asked for the deadline to be extended to four years, warning otherwise there would be a scarcity of telecom manufacturers that the U.S. government would be able to buy from.
Huawei’s business footprint was restricted in the U.S. when a 2012 Congressional report barred it from selling gear to major telecom carriers. However, telecom companies in rural areas still use the company’s equipment and they could be disproportionately affected by the ban.
The small carriers have voiced their concerns against the government’s decision to block Huawei as they rely on federal grants and after the ban is implemented, they won't be able to use federal money when dealing with Huawei. Vought had previously requested restrictions on federal loan and grant recipients and contractors to be delayed for two more years.
This time would have allowed the affected companies to prepare for the eventual ban and act accordingly. Now that Vought has given the green light, the ban will likely take effect this year. He further said that the administration will work with Congress to tackle any unforeseen issues that may arise.
The ban is one of the many measures taken by the U.S. government to reduce Huawei’s clout in sensitive technologies. The U.S. officials also say that China can use the company’s equipment to disrupt communications. The Commerce Department has put the tech juggernaut on its entity list, preventing companies that use American technology from doing business with it.
Huawei has denied all the accusations against its and has even filed a lawsuit over the restrictions placed on it but the U.S. government hasn’t formally responded yet. Trump maintains that he sees Huawei as a security threat but he has also hinted that the company can be used as a bargaining chip during trade negotiations with China.