Department of Commerce looking for input on Huawei Temporary General License extensions

March 16, 2020
The Commerce Department says the current comment and review effort “demonstrates the Department is trying to find a permanent solution.”

The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) is seeking public comment regarding whether it should continue to extend the Temporary General License (TGL) granted to Huawei last May that enables it continued access to at least some U.S. sourced technology. The comment period opened March 10 and runs through March 25, 2020. After awarding the temporary license last May, the department and BIS have extended the license by 90 days on three occasions, the last of which was due to expire April 1. To give itself time to review the results of the public comment period, BIS has extended the license a fourth time, to May 15, 2020. The Commerce Department says the current comment and review effort “demonstrates the Department is trying to find a permanent solution.”

Huawei was placed on the BIS Entity List last May due to allegations that it had attempted to sell U.S. systems to Iraq in defiance of export restrictions (see “Huawei faces U.S. technology access ban”). Placement on the Entity List meant that U.S. companies seeking to sell technology to Huawei would have to apply for and receive a special license – one which BIS stated such supplicants should expect not to receive, effectively denying Huawei access to its U.S. technology suppliers. However, BIS granted the TGL shortly thereafter to enable U.S. operators who are using Huawei gear in their networks – most of whom are small, rural service providers – time to find replacement technology (see “Department of Commerce slightly eases Huawei restrictions”).

This has proven to be a slow process, given the time and expense necessary, which has led to the several license extensions. To help with the transition, President Donald Trump has signed into law a bill that offers $1 billion to small operators with less than 2 million customers to aid in replacing equipment from Huawei and fellow Chinese systems house ZTE. The new law also bans the purchase of systems from the two Chinese companies.

“BIS has requested comments to evaluate the need to extend the TGL, whether any other changes may be warranted to the TGL, and to identify any alternative authorization or other regulatory provisions that may more effectively address what is being authorized under the TGL,” said the Commerce Department.

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