Huawei ‘gets approval’ to use US chips for cars
The US government has granted Huawei licences to buy microchips for car components, in the first sign of easing in the battle with the Chinese vendor.
The US Department of Commerce (DoC) first put Huawei on its banned list in May 2019, with more sanctions following a year later.
The ban has been universal, hurting Huawei’s market for telecoms equipment and also for phones. In March 2021 the company reported that Huawei’s business everywhere but China had slumped following the US embargo on the company.
A regional breakdown showed that, while Chinese sales for 2020 rose 15.4% year-on-year, sales elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific were down 8.7%. Sales in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) were down 12.2% and sales in the Americas crashed by 24.5%.
But now the Reuters news agency says that the US has eased a little, granting licences authorising suppliers to sell chips to Huawei for such vehicle components as video screens and sensors. Reuters cites unnamed “people familiar with the application process”.
The news comes at a time that Huawei’s Chinese rival, ZTE, has disclosed it is working with Qualcomm, a US company, on millimetre-wave technology for mobile communications, including 5G.
Reuters says that the change in the ruling does not affect the ban on Huawei supplying 5G mobile systems. It notes: “One person close to the licence approvals said the government is granting licences for chips in vehicles that may have other components with 5G capability.”
The DoC put Huawei on its so-called entity list after the US government expressed concern that the Chinese government might be using the company’s hardware and software for espionage purposes – charges Huawei has repeatedly denied.
The US has also influenced other governments around the world, from Australia to the UK, to impose similar bans on Huawei.
Reuters quotes the DoC saying that the US applies licensing policies “to restrict Huawei’s access to commodities, software, or technology for activities that could harm US national security and foreign policy interests”. Huawei declined to comment to Reuters.