United States chip makers are still selling millions of dollars of products to Huawei despite a Trump administration ban on the sale of American technology to the Chinese telecommunications giant, according to four people with knowledge of the sales.
Industry leaders including Intel and Micron have found ways to avoid labelling goods as American-made, said the people, who spoke on the condition they not be named because they were not authorised to disclose the sales.
Goods produced by American companies overseas are not always considered American-made. The components began to flow to Huawei about three weeks ago, the people said.
The sales will help Huawei continue to sell products such as smartphones and servers, and underscore how difficult it is for the Trump administration to clamp down on companies that it considers a national security threat, like Huawei. They also hint at the possible unintended consequences from altering the web of trade relationships that ties together the world’s electronics industry and global commerce.
The Commerce Department’s move to block sales to Huawei, by putting it on a so-called entity list, set off confusion within the Chinese company and its many American suppliers, the people said. Many executives lacked deep experience with American trade controls, leading to initial suspensions in shipments to Huawei until lawyers could puzzle out which products could be sent. Decisions about what can and cannot be shipped were also often run by the Commerce Department.