Thu, May 16, 2019 - Page 1 News List

Trump ‘to sign order’ allowing telecom ban


US Senator Thom Tillis, right, answers a question prior to a US Senate Committee on the Judiciary hearing titled “5G: National Security Concerns, Intellectual Property Issues and the Impact on Competition and Innovation” in Washington on Tuesday.

Photo: EPA-EFE

US President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order this week barring US companies from using telecommunications equipment made by firms that pose a national security risk, paving the way for a ban on doing business with China’s Huawei Technologies Co (華為), three officials familiar with the plan said.

The order, which would not name specific countries or companies, has been under consideration for more than a year, but has been repeatedly delayed, the sources said, asking not to be named because the preparations remain confidential.

It could be delayed again, they added.

An official also said that the order, which could have been signed as soon as yesterday, has nothing to do with an escalation of the trade conflict with China.

The order would invoke the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, which gives the president the authority to regulate commerce in response to a national emergency, and would direct the US Department of Commerce, working with other agencies, to draw up a plan for enforcement, the sources said.

In August last year, Trump signed a bill that barred the US government from using equipment from Huawei and China’s ZTE Corp (中興通訊).

In January, US prosecutors charged two Huawei units in Washington state, saying that they conspired to steal T-Mobile US Inc trade secrets, and charged Huawei and its chief financial officer with bank and wire fraud on allegations that the company breached sanctions against Iran.

The US Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in April last year voted to advance a proposal to bar the use of funds from a US$9 billion government fund to purchase equipment or services from companies that pose a security threat to US communications networks.

FCC Chairman Ajit Pai last week said that he is waiting for the department to express views on how to “define the list of companies” that would be prohibited under the FCC proposal.

While the big wireless companies have already cut ties with Huawei, small rural carriers continue to rely on Huawei and ZTE switches, and other equipment because they tend to be cheaper.

The Rural Wireless Association, which represents carriers with fewer than 100,000 subscribers, estimated that one-quarter of its members had Huawei or ZTE equipment in their networks, it said in an FCC filing in December last year.

Additional reporting by Bloomberg

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