New Zealand to conduct own assessment of Huawei equipment risk

Several Western countries had restricted Huawei’s access to their markets. (AP)
Updated 18 February 2019
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New Zealand to conduct own assessment of Huawei equipment risk

  • Huawei faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government
  • Several Western countries had restricted Huawei’s access to their markets

WELLINGTON: New Zealand will independently assess the risk of using China’s Huawei Technologies in 5G networks, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said on Monday after a report suggested that British precautions could be used by other nations.
Huawei, the world’s biggest producer of telecoms equipment, faces intense scrutiny in the West over its relationship with the Chinese government and US-led allegations that its equipment could be used by Beijing for spying.
No evidence has been produced publicly and the firm has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have led several Western countries to restrict Huawei’s access to their markets.
The Financial Times reported on Sunday that the British government had decided it can mitigate the risks arising from the use of Huawei equipment in 5G networks. It said Britain’s conclusion would “carry great weight” with European leaders and other nations could use similar precautions.
New Zealand’s intelligence agency in November rejected an initial request from telecommunications services provider Spark to use 5G equipment provided by Huawei.
At the time, the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) gave Spark options to mitigate national security concerns over the use of Huawei equipment, Ardern said on Monday.
“The ball is now in their court,” she told a weekly news conference.
Ardern said New Zealand, which is a member of the Five Eyes intelligence sharing network that includes the United Kingdom and the United States, would conduct its own assessment.
“I would expect the GCSB to apply with our legislation and our own security assessments. It is fair to say Five Eyes, of course, share information but we make our own independent decisions,” she said.
Huawei New Zealand did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Spark said it was in discussions with GCSB officials.
“We are working through what possible mitigations we might be able to provide to address the concerns raised by the GCSB and have not yet made any decision on whether or when we should submit a revised proposal to GCSB,” Spark spokesman Andrew Pirie said in an emailed statement.
The Huawei decision, along with the government’s tougher stance on China’s growing influence in the Pacific, has some politicians and foreign policy analysts worried about potential strained ties with a key trading partner.
Ardern’s planned first visit to Beijing has faced scheduling issues, and China last week postponed a major tourism campaign in New Zealand days before its launch.
Ardern said her government’s relationship with China was strong despite some complex issues.
“Visits are not a measure of the health of a relationship they are only one small part of it,” she said, adding that trade and tourism ties remained strong.


Turkish lira weakens after cenbank repos resume, FX purchase move

Updated 35 min 31 sec ago
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Turkish lira weakens after cenbank repos resume, FX purchase move

ANKARA/ISTANBUL: The Turkish lira weakened on Tuesday after the central bank lowered the swap market lira interest rate and held a repo auction for the first time in nearly two weeks, reversing a policy tightening step it had taken to support the currency.
A currency crisis last year wiped nearly 30% off the lira’s value against the dollar and it has fallen further in 2019.
The lira weakened as far as 6.0860 against the US currency after the central bank moves, compared with a close of 6.0315 on Monday. At 1012 GMT, it stood at 6.0500.
The central bank injected 17 billion lira ($2.8 billion) in the repo, the first since it suspended them on May 9. It lowered the lira interest rate in swap transactions to 24% from 25.5%. Bankers said this would gradually lower the average cost of funding by the same amount, to the bank’s policy rate of 24%.
The steps came as investors weighed up Turkey’s banking watchdog decision to impose a one-day settlement delay for FX purchases of more than $100,000 by individuals. Bankers said that move could raise concerns about capital controls.
“The administration seems to be increasingly desperate to keep the lira stable at all costs ahead of the re-run of the crucial vote in Istanbul,” said Rabobank emerging markets forex strategist Piotr Matys, commenting on the forex purchases move.
“Instead of providing investors with a much needed assurance, such measures will have the opposite effect, as the market will interpret it as rising interference in the banking sector.”
The decision by election authorities to re-run the Istanbul mayoral vote has fueled concerns about an erosion of democracy and unnerved financial markets, helping push the lira down another 13% this year. The ruling AK Party’s narrow defeat in the initial election in March was the first time in 25 years that President Tayyip Erdogan’s party or its Islamist predecessors had lost control of Turkey’s biggest city.
Matys said the repo move was a contradictory measure at a time when Turkey needs to restore confidence in the lira.
“Such conflicting policies make Turkey increasingly unpredictable and keep the upside bias in USD/TRY intact,” he added, saying initial resistance was around 6.2282, with a break higher exposing the 6.46-6.50 area as the next potential target.
HIGH-FREQUENCY TRADERS TARGETED
A BDDK watchdog letter sent to banks on Monday said the settlement date for those purchases of more than $100,000 — or equivalent in other currencies — will be the following day.
“This one-day delay on FX transaction for retail investors is curious, especially when they take away the increase in rates in the morning,” said Charles Robertson, global chief economist at Renaissance Capital. “It’s a hint of capital controls, and the threat of more is implicit.”
Beste Naz Sullu, of Gedik Investment, said the BDDK was trying to curb foreign exchange speculation, but added that the market “does not like measures such as this much.”
The BDDK said on Tuesday the forex purchases move, effective from Tuesday, aimed to prevent “unnecessary and unjust harm” to the market, particularly by high-frequency traders.
Authorities have recently taken unorthodox steps to protect the currency, including state banks selling dollars. Ankara also raised a tax on some foreign exchange sales to 0.1% from zero last week to discourage Turks converting savings to foreign currencies.
Turks have flocked to foreign currencies in the months since last year’s crisis hit its peak in August, when the lira fell as much as 42% against the dollar.
The lira woes helped tip the economy into recession last year and Turkish Statistical Institute data on Tuesday showed consumer confidence tumbled to 55.3 points in May, the lowest level since the data was first published in 2004.
The main share index fell 1.26 percent.