Thursday, 21 June, 2018

US reaches deal with China's ZTE, says Wilbur Ross

EnlargeSpencer Platt  Getty Images EnlargeSpencer Platt Getty Images
Preston Stone | 09 June, 2018, 19:19

"ZTE misled the Department of Commerce". We've shared with you what happened so far and we can say it's been one interesting journey for the Chinese OEM.

USA lawmakers on Thursday renewed vocal objections to lifting the sanctions, saying the company posed an "espionage risk" to the United States in addition to having violated its sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

The White House did not immediately react to the proposed legislation, prompting some on Capitol Hill to speculate that it may actually welcome the legislation. The Commerce Department was ordered to help ZTE in sorting out the mess.

Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton has a cautious approach to the Chinese telecom companies ZTE and Huawei.

The U.S. government has always been concerned with possible national security threats posed by ZTE and Huawei.

"We are literally embedding a compliance department of our choosing into the company to monitor it going forward", said Ross on CNBC. "It's unprecedented to have USA agents as monitors ..."

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ZTE pleaded guilty previous year to conspiring to evade USA embargoes by buying U.S. components, incorporating them into ZTE equipment and illegally shipping them to Iran, paying almost US$900 million in fines. The settlement's goal is to modify the behavior of ZTE. This includes once again being able to receive Qualcomm SoCs and the Android OS for their smartphones, along with the numerous components used in their networking gear. Their function will be to monitor on a real-time basis ZTE's compliance with United States export control laws. The U.S. government feared that ZTE would then be exporting that technology to sanctioned countries again.

ZTE also wanted to be more present in the American smartphone market, but the April shutdown had complicated that plan.

It's not clear yet when the ban will be officially lifted. It can be activated if there are additional and new violations.

The company will also need to put $400 million into escrow, money that will be reserved in case ZTE violates the new agreement.

The US Department of Commerce will take into account the $361 million paid by the company previous year, which will allow the US to claim a $1.7 billion fine. ZTE will have to welcome a team of "special compliance coordinators" for a period of 10 years to ensure that it is adhering to the terms of the new agreement. Their function will be to monitor on a real-time basis ZTE's compliance with USA export control laws. In its place, Commerce has levied $1.4 billion in fines and penalties, required the replacement of the company's senior management and board, and will install compliance officers inside the company.

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