ZTE had found itself as a peg in trade talks between the United States and China ever since the Commerce Department slapped the tech manufacturer with an imports ban on American goods. A couple weeks ago, President Donald Trump tweeted a promise to keep “too many jobs” from going to waste because of the ban and work to find a new solution.
Well, it appears that Trump has found his solution. The New York Times and Reuters are both reporting from congressional aides that the Commerce Department has made its plans clear to lawmakers that it will remove the imports ban in exchange for a larger fine than the $800 million already paid for trade sanction violations related to business in Iran and North Korea. The agency would also require the company to install US compliance officers and execute major shifts in management.
“We’ll let you know when we have an announcement on that front,” said Sarah Sanders, White House spokesperson.
Legislators and heads of intelligence in Washington are concerned about China’s authoritative influence over its telecom companies such as Huawei and ZTE and have been investigating intellectual property theft as well as acting on cybersecurity concerns.
Senator Marco Rubio, who is on the Select Committee on Intelligence, reacted negatively to word of the deal.
Yes they have a deal in mind. It is a great deal… for #ZTE & China. #China crushes U.S. companies with no mercy & they use these telecomm companies to spy & steal from us. Many hoped this time would be different. Now congress will need to act. https://t.co/ETMUCe9ia6
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) May 25, 2018
There are moves being made by House and Senate subcommittees to prevent the Commerce Department from changing its displinary action on ZTE through budget restrictions. The earliest a bill would be able to pass in the full House is in August.