US issues $ 100 billion in export licenses to Huawei suppliers, SMIC
The US Department of Commerce has issued more than $ 100 billion in semiconductor and other product export licenses to suppliers of Huawei Technologies Co. and another blacklisted Chinese tech company, so that a worldwide shortage of chips was beginning to be felt.
Commerce data, released Thursday by a Republican congressman, shows the department granted 113 export licenses worth around $ 61 billion to providers of telecommunications giant Huawei and 188 licenses worth around $ 61 billion. $ 42 billion to suppliers of Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corp., China’s largest chipmaker. , from November 9, 2020 to April 20 of this year.
Most of the licenses were for semiconductors and the equipment needed to manufacture them. The data, which covers the final months of the Trump administration and the start of the Biden administration, did not identify any specific vendors.
The Commerce Department said in a statement that “the existence of approved export licenses for Huawei and SMIC is not, in itself, sufficient to draw specific conclusions about the effectiveness” of the licensing policy. He also said that typically around half of all licenses are used up and the licensing process prioritizes national security.
Still, industry experts said, the data shows vendors continued to have access to U.S. technology despite Huawei and SMIC being blacklisted for national security reasons. They said it also indicated corporate storage which likely contributed to the global semiconductor shortage plaguing automobiles, electronics and other industries.
The data was released by the top Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Representative Michael McCaul of Texas, after the Democrat-controlled committee allowed him to release it. Republicans in Congress have pressured the Biden administration to maintain restrictions put in place by President Trump and to ensure that cutting edge American technology is not transferred to China.
Licensing by Commerce appears to “defeat the administration’s goals of strengthening US technological leadership and improving our country’s position in domestic semiconductor manufacturing,” said David Hanke, a former national security member of the Republican Senate who worked on export control issues.
Huawei and SMIC did not immediately respond to requests for comment. Huawei vice president Eric Xu said in April that Chinese companies were stockpiling chips for fear of US sanctions, contributing to the disruption of global supply.
Lawmakers on both sides urged the administration to adopt aggressive policies to compete with China and protect US national security, including limiting China’s access to US technology and increasing production of US chips. .
U.S. companies have also been pushing for licenses to be sold to Chinese tech companies, saying this is critical to their bottom line.
The Commerce Department said this month that Secretary Gina Raimondo “has focused on lasers to address the semiconductor chip shortage in particular and supply chain disruptions in general.”
Data released Thursday shows the department denied three requests from Huawei and SMIC vendors during the November-April period, while 65 requests were dismissed without action.
Write to Kate O’Keeffe at [email protected]
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Appeared in the October 22, 2021 print edition under the title “Huawei Suppliers Got Export Licenses”.