China's ZTE clears hurdle to lifting U.S. ban

2018-07-12 01:21:28 GMT2018-07-12 09:21:28(Beijing Time) Sina English

The United States said on Wednesday that it signed an agreement with ZTE Corp that paves the way for the Chinese tech company to resume operations after a nearly three-month ban on doing business with American suppliers.

The ban on China’s No. 2 telecommunications equipment maker will be removed once the company deposits $400 million in an escrow account, the U.S. Commerce Department said in a statement announcing that an escrow agreement had been signed.

The ban, which was imposed in April and caused ZTE to cease major operations, has been a source of friction between Washington and Beijing, which are engaged in an escalating trade dispute.

ZTE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Today’s announcement marks the beginning of the end of this long-running saga,” said Washington attorney Douglas Jacobson, who represents ZTE suppliers.

The escrow agreement is part of a $1.4 billion settlement ZTE reached with the Commerce Department last month to regain access to U.S. suppliers, whose components it relies on for its smartphones and networking gear.

 

The new settlement includes a $1 billion penalty that ZTE paid to the U.S. Treasury last month and the $400 million in the escrow account that the United States could seize if ZTE violates the latest settlement. The $1 billion penalty is in addition to nearly $900 million ZTE paid last year.

Once the ban is lifted, ZTE, which employs around 80,000 people, is expected to restart major operations. The reprieve for ZTE coincides with a new Trump administration threat of 10 percent tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods.

In its statement, the Commerce Department said the ZTE action is a law enforcement matter unrelated to broader discussions of trade policy.

Agencies

 

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