The United States will extend for another 90 days a narrow set of exemptions that had protected rural networks and other U.S. customers from a ban on doing business with China's Huawei Technologies Co., Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday.
Some telecom companies in the U.S. are "dependent" on Huawei, and thus a 90-day reprieve was deemed appropriate, Ross said. "We're giving them a little more time to wean themselves off," he said.
Ross said the next deadline will be around Nov. 19. He added that Commerce decided to place 46 more Huawei subsidiaries on its entity list.
The announcement doesn't address the wider national-security concerns about Huawei nor answer the bigger question of whether U.S. chip companies and other major suppliers will be allowed to sell parts to China.
President Donald Trump indicated over the weekend that the U.S. was "doing very well with China, and talking" but also suggested he wasn't ready to sign a trade deal.
Huawei, China's largest technology company by sales, has been at the heart of worsening tensions and been called a bargaining chip in thorny trade negotiations between Washington and Beijing. Trump had said he anticipated talking with Chinese President Xi Jinping "very soon" and the Huawei move may sweeten the tone of those discussions.
Huawei has been trying to carry on operations in the face of U.S. sanctions on the sale of the vital technology. The company this month announced its in-house HarmonyOS, an open-source operating system that could one day serve as a replacement for Google Inc.'s Android if its access to that software is curtailed. Without Android or the numerous U.S. silicon, technology and consultancy suppliers that Huawei does business with, many of its most promising product lines would cease their rapid growth or be thwarted.
The U.S. Commerce Department granted a three-month temporary license to Huawei's U.S. customers shortly after the Trump administration blacklisted the Chinese company. That allowed telecom carriers in rural areas to continue using Huawei equipment and Google to provide only key Android security updates to Huawei phones.
The latest extension came after Trump met in July with the chief executives of key Huawei suppliers from Alphabet Inc.'s Google and Broadcom Inc. to Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc. to discuss economic issues including a possible resumption of sales to Huawei. U.S. companies argued that Huawei will turn to non-U. S. suppliers if sanctions persisted, hurting the U.S. in the long run. But trade talks with Beijing ground to a halt and China refused to resume purchases of U.S. agricultural products.
The announcement Monday came one day after Trump suggested that Huawei was unlikely to receive another extension, pushing back against news reports about an expected reprieve.
"At this moment, it looks much more like we're not going to do business," Trump told reporters in New Jersey. "I don't want to do business at all, because it is a national security threat."
The president tied trade negotiations with the situation in Hong Kong, saying that a deal between the U.S. and China would be harder if there's a violent conclusion to protests there because of concerns raised by U.S. lawmakers.