US lifts ban on supplying ZTE until end of June

23 March 2016 | Alan Burkitt-Gray


Hardware and software vendors can restart supplying ZTE with their products from tomorrow under the terms of a brief reprieve granted by the US Department of Commerce.

US - ZTEAuthorities banned companies from supplying ZTE in early March because the US believed that the Chinese handset and equipment vendor had been supplying Iranian telecoms operators. US companies are banned from selling to Iran, even through third parties.

Now the Commerce Department says that its restrictions on US companies supplying ZTE will be suspended until 30 June. The US says that the relaxation could be extended if ZTE cooperates with “the US government in resolving the matter”, according to an official quoted by Reuters.

The department gave no details about what it would regard as a satisfactory resolution.

Shares in ZTE are still suspended on the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges. In early March, after the US ban was imposed, ZTE chairman Hou Weigu said: “The company is conducting a thorough assessment on the potential impacts of the restriction measures on the business and operation of the group.”

He said that ZTE was cooperating with the US but warned: “There is uncertainty as to whether a solution can be achieved,” and added: “Shareholders and potential investors of the company are advised to exercise caution when dealing in the securities of the company.”

Intel admitted that it had been supplying ZTE with components, but Qualcomm refused to comment. Other vendors affected include software companies, including Microsoft, which has been unable to sell even Office products and updates to ZTE during the ban.