Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross cast doubt Sunday on whether the US will move ahead with tariffs on imported vehicles and parts November 14. US lawmakers consider the company to be a national security threat because of a law in China that could force the firm to gather intelligence on corporations and consumers at the behest of the Chinese government.
Ross told Bloomberg that licenses for some of the 260 companies that have applied to do business with blacklisted Chinese companies "will be forthcoming very shortly" as the US and China take steps to close a "Phase One" trade agreement.
The loss of duty-free treatment, which Thailand said would incur duties around $60 million a year for Thai products, has stirred a sense of anti-US sentiment among some in the Southeast Asian country that has been enjoying closer ties with China in recent years.
"We're hopeful that we can avoid the vehicle tariffs for now, but we also know there is a chance the president could change his mind", said one diplomat, who was not authorised to speak publicly.
Back in May, the Trump administration allowed certain US companies to provide Huawei with supplies "necessary to maintain and support existing and now fully operational networks and equipment, including software updates and patches".
Chinese smartphone manufacturer Huawei was placed on the U.S. Commerce Department's Entity List on May 16th for security reasons.
US companies now require a license to continue doing business with any of those firms. Trump said in June after meeting with Xi in Japan that he'd "easily" agreed to allow American firms to continue certain exports to Huawei, and weeks later Trump said he'd accelerate the approval process for licences.
"Recall as well, with Entity Lists, you will find a presumption of denial". The Commerce Secretary added, "That's a lot of applications-it's frankly more than we would've thought". Ross said that some 260 firms have filed requests for such licenses, promising that "quite a few of them" would be approved.
These short-term licences expire at the conclude of this thirty day period.
"RCEP is not much of an agreement", Ross said.