Monday, 19 November, 2018

US Senate passes ZTE sanctions, bill now goes to committee

Senate Set to Block White House on Reviving Trade Deal with ZTE Senate shuts down White House effort to revive ZTE
Ellis Copeland | 21 June, 2018, 05:32

The US issued the ban because ZTE failed to comply with the terms of an initial punishment for violating US trade sanctions by selling telecommunications equipment to Iran and North Korea. Of course, just because the Senate voted in favor of reinstating ZTE's ban doesn't mean it's already a done deal.

The Commerce Department barred ZTE in April from importing American components for seven years after concluding that the company deceived USA regulators after settling charges last year of sanctions violations.

Any compromise measure must then be passed by both chambers and signed into law by Trump, a series of hurdles that has Asia-based analysts predicting ZTE will get eventually get its reprieve.

ZTE has agreed to pay a $1 billion penalty and put $400 million in an escrow account in a US bank as part of the settlement reached on June 7 to allow it to do business again with USA suppliers. "It is vital that our colleagues in the House keep this bipartisan provision in the bill as it heads towards a conference".

"We're heartened that both parties made it clear that protecting American jobs and national security must come first when making deals with countries like China, which has a history of having little regard for either", Rubio, Cotton, Van Hollen and Schumer said in a joint statement after the defense bill's passage.

Since trading resumed last week, the stock has lost 38 per cent or more than US$7 billion (S$9.5 billion) in market value.

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The Senate approved a defense package with a provision that would reverse the ZTE agreement.

This year, the Senate included an amendment that would kill the Trump administration's agreement to allow ZTE to resume business with United States suppliers, one of the few times the Republican-led Senate has veered from White House policy.

Commerce banned ZTE from buying American parts-including Qualcomm computer chips-that it depends on to manufacture its products.

Notably, the House version of the bill doesn't include the amendments prohibiting ZTE from doing business in the USA, so it remains to be seen whether the final bill will have those provisions intact.

Reuters reports that President Donald Trump met with a Republican caucus of senators and House representatives this morning. The destiny of ZTE is also pivotal in the tense US-Chinese negotiations over trade. It includes several measures aimed at Chinese telecom and surveillance equipment firms-including one that directly defies a recent Trump decision to throw a lifeline to crippled Chinese telecom firm ZTE.

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