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Mnuchin, Kudlow Invite U.S. Tech Giants to Discuss Huawei Ban

Jenny Leonard, Ian King and Todd Shields

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump’s senior advisers have invited U.S. technology companies to the White House on Monday to discuss a resumption of sales to blacklisted Chinese telecoms giant Huawei Technologies Co., according to people familiar with the matter.

White House economic adviser Larry Kudlow and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin arranged the meeting with semiconductor and software companies because they wanted to talk about how to move forward. A person familiar with the meeting said the White House asked the companies “to discuss economic matters.”

Among those invited are Intel Corp. and Qualcomm Inc., according to the people. The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a tentative pause in their trade war and to resume negotiations after meeting at the Group-of-20 leaders’ summit in Japan on June 29. The U.S. president at the time said he would loosen restrictions on Huawei and that China had agreed to make agricultural purchases.

The White House meeting is an effort to show China that Trump is serious about allowing U.S. companies to resume business with Huawei and encourage Beijing to move forward with buying more from U.S. farmers, one of the people said.

Farm Goods

China has told the Trump administration that it would only follow through on the farm purchases once the president issues export licenses for American companies to continue shipments to Huawei. The Commerce Department is leading the process, and has said it will only grant exceptions in cases where there’s no threat to national security.

U.S. companies had halted shipments after the U.S. added Huawei to a trade blacklist in May, though some have resumed certain sales after reviewing the terms of the ban.

Some in the U.S. administration are arguing for America to cut off Huawei from American suppliers entirely for national security reasons, and their view is supported by China hawks on Capitol Hill.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said earlier this month that Trump is allowing the sale to Huawei of “low grade” chips that aren’t a security risk. The administration will ensure the Chinese telecom company won’t end up dominating 5G infrastructure in the U.S., Navarro told CNN.

Chipmaker Fortunes

Huawei is one of the world’s biggest purchasers of semiconductors. Continuing access to Chinese customers is crucial to the fortunes of chipmakers such as Intel, Qualcomm and Broadcom Inc.

Some U.S.-based makers of the vital electronic components have already reported earnings and given forecasts that show the negative effects of the trade dispute. They’ve argued that their financial health is crucial to U.S. leadership of a strategically important industry.

Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer spoke by phone with their Chinese counterparts about trade on Thursday. Mnuchin has said if the talks progress over the phone, he and Lighthizer may travel to Beijing for in-person meetings.

Trump said on Friday that the call with Chinese officials a day earlier was “very good” but that they’ll “see what happens.”

The Washington Post reported earlier that U.S. technology companies planned to meet Kudlow at the White House on Monday.

--With assistance from Mark Bergen.

To contact the reporters on this story: Jenny Leonard in Washington at jleonard67@bloomberg.net;Ian King in San Francisco at ianking@bloomberg.net;Todd Shields in Washington at tshields3@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Margaret Collins at mcollins45@bloomberg.net, Sarah McGregor, Andrew Pollack

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