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Micron has found a way around the US ban on Huawei

Posted at 6:16 AM, Jun 26, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-26 08:16:05-04

Micron has resumed shipping some of its products to Huawei despite a US government ban on exports to the Chinese tech company.

The US chipmaker said Tuesday that it restarted shipments to Huawei two weeks ago after concluding that “a subset of current products” are not subject to export restrictions.

The Trump administration imposed the export ban in May, seeking to prevent American companies from selling components to Huawei without a license.

CEO Sanjay Mehrotra said on an earnings call Tuesday that Micron had “immediately suspended shipments” following the US ban. But an internal review later concluded that some products could be shipped legally.

Other American tech companies appear to have reached a similar conclusion. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that Qualcomm and Intel have also resumed some shipments to Huawei.

Qualcomm and Intel did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The US Semiconductor Industry Association said last week that chipmakers would be able to sell some products to Huawei without violating the export blacklist.

“Each company is impacted differently based on their specific products and supply chains, and each company must evaluate how best to conduct its business and remain in compliance,” the industry group said in a statement.

The resumption of shipments could take the sting out of the Trump administration’s latest move against Huawei, which it accuses of being a risk to national security. Huawei has repeatedly denied that its products pose a risk.

Huawei is the world’s largest telecommunications equipment maker and No. 2 smartphone brand. The US blacklist could harm Huawei’s smartphone business by keeping some Google products off its future devices.

Last week, Huawei founder and CEO Ren Zhengfei said overseas smartphone unit sales dropped by 40%, referring to a fall in sales between May 17 and June 16, compared to the previous 30-day period.

Yet wireless carriers are still lining up to buy 5G network technology. Huawei said Wednesday that it has signed more commercial 5G contracts than any other global vendor.

Mehrotra cautioned Tuesday that “considerable ongoing uncertainty” around Huawei meant it was “unable to predict the volumes or time periods over which we’ll be able to ship products” to the Chinese company.

Shares in Micron were poised to rise sharply on Wednesday. The company’s profits for the three months to May 30 were better than expected, and Mehrotra said it expects strong growth over the next quarter.