US government staff told to treat Huawei as blacklisted

In May, Huawei was added to the so-called Entity List, which bans American firms from selling to it without special permission. (AFP)
Updated 03 July 2019

US government staff told to treat Huawei as blacklisted

  • Donald Trump surprised markets by promising Chinese President Xi Jinping that he would allow US companies to sell products to Huawei
  • In May, the company was added to the so-called Entity List, which bans American firms from selling to it without special permission

WASHINGTON: A senior US official told the Commerce Department’s enforcement staff this week that China’s Huawei should still be treated as blacklisted, days after US President Donald Trump sowed confusion with a vow to ease a ban on sales to the firm.
Trump surprised markets on Saturday by promising Chinese President Xi Jinping on the sidelines of the G20 summit in Japan that he would allow US companies to sell products to Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.
In May, the company was added to the so-called Entity List, which bans American firms from selling to it without special permission, as punishment for actions against US national security interests.
Trump’s announcement on Saturday — an olive branch to Beijing to revive stalled trade talks — was cheered by US chipmakers eager to maintain sales to Huawei, the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker and a key US customer.
But Trump’s comments also spawned confusion among industry players and government officials struggling to understand what Huawei policy he had unveiled.
In an email to enforcement staff on Monday that was seen by Reuters, John Sonderman, Deputy Director of the Office of Export Enforcement, in the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), sought to clarify how agents should approach license requests by firms seeking approval to sell to Huawei.
All such applications should be considered on merit and flagged with language noting that “This party is on the Entity List. Evaluate the associated license review policy under part 744,” he wrote, citing regulations that include the Entity List and the “presumption of denial” licensing policy that is applied to blacklisted companies.
He added that any further guidance from BIS should also be taken into account when evaluating Huawei-related license applications.
Huawei told Reuters earlier on Wednesday that founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei had said Trump’s statements over the weekend were “good for American companies.”
“Huawei is also willing to continue to buy products from American companies. But we don’t see much impact on what we are currently doing. We will still focus on doing our own job right,” a Huawei spokesman said in an email.
The Commerce Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A person familiar with the matter said the letter was the only guidance that enforcement officials had received after Trump’s surprise announcement on Saturday. A presumption of denial implies strict review and most licenses reviewed under it are not approved.
It is unclear when the Commerce Department will provide its enforcement staff with additional guidance, based on Trump’s promises, and how that might alter the likelihood of obtaining licenses.
The internal memo, not previously reported, came as White House advisers also scrambled to shed light on Trump’s announcement.
White House trade adviser Peter Navarro noted on Tuesday that the government would allow “lower tech” chip sales to the company, which don’t impact national security.
The United States has accused Huawei of stealing American intellectual property and violating Iran sanctions.
It has launched a lobbying effort to convince US allies to keep Huawei out of next-generation 5G telecommunications infrastructure, citing concerns the company could spy on customers. Huawei has denied the allegations.


Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

Updated 15 November 2019

Bank jobs go as HSBC and Emirates NBD reduce costs

  • Others have also reduced headcount amid economic downturn and property market weakness

DUBAI: HSBC Holdings has laid off about 40 bankers in the UAE and Emirates NBD is cutting around 100 jobs, as banks in the Arab world’s second-biggest economy reduce costs.

The cuts come amid weak economic growth, especially in Dubai, which is suffering from a property downturn.

HSBC’s redundancies came after the London-based bank reported a sharp fall in earnings and warned of a costly restructuring, as interim CEO Noel Quinn seeks to tackle its problems head-on.

HSBC has about 3,000 staff in the UAE, part of a nearly 10,000-strong workforce in the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey.

The cuts at Dubai’s largest lender Emirates NBD came in consumer sales and liabilities, one source said, while a second played down the significance of the move.

HSBC and Emirates NBD declined to comment.

“The cuts are part of cost cutting and rationalizing to drive efficiencies in a challenging market,” the second source said.

Other banks have also reduced staff this year. UAE central bank data shows local banks laid off 446 people in the 12 months until the end of September. Foreign banks added staff in the same period.

Staff at local banks account for over 80 percent of the 35,518 banking employees in the country.

The merger between Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Union Commercial Bank and Al Hilal Bank saw hundreds of redundancies.

Commercial Bank International (CBI) said it would offer voluntary retirement to employees in September, which sources said saw over 100 departures. Standard Chartered, too, cut over 100 jobs in the UAE in September.

Rating agency Fitch warned in September a weakening property market would put more pressure on the UAE’s banking sector.