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The United States could relax its Huawei trade ban “very shortly”

The third largest smartphone maker in the world may get a break soon. It looks like the United States might finally be prepared to loosen the terms of its trade ban with Huawei.

In an interview with Bloomberg, the United States’ commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said that licenses “will be forthcoming very shortly.” He added that the government had already had 260 requests to deal with the company. “That’s a lot of applications – it’s frankly more than we would’ve thought.”

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Executives at companies sending applications could be left disappointed though. “Remember too with entity lists there’s a presumption of denial,” Ross said. “So the safe thing for these companies would be to assume denial, even though we will obviously approve quite a few of them.”

One of the 260 is almost certainly Google, as the ceasing of trade between it and the Chinese giant has been a severe problem on both sides of the Pacific. Google, the maker of the world’s most popular mobile OS, can’t trade with the second biggest maker of Android phones. 

And for Huawei, that’s arguably even worse, as any phones it makes have to use the regular open source version of Android, and can’t have Google apps built in. No Play Store, no Gmail, no YouTube. It certainly made the Mate 30 Pro a tough sell despite its seriously impressive hardware when we reviewed it. 

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A relaxing of Google’s ability to trade with Huawei certainly seems possible, though as Ross said, nothing should be presumed. And telecoms firms certainly shouldn’t be counting any chickens given it was paranoia about China’s ability to spy on American citizens which triggered the trade block in the first place. 

In short, the less you have to do with telecoms, the more likely you are to benefit from any relaxing of the trade ban. But we’ll know for sure which companies benefit “very shortly” if Ross is as good as his word.

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