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US and China Working to Settle ZTE Ban, But Opposition Remains

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May 22, 2018, 7:24 AM   by Eric M. Zeman   @zeman_e

The U.S. and China are near to reaching a deal that would offer ZTE reprieve from the seven-year ban enacted against it by the Commerce Department. Sources cited by the Wall Street Journal and Reuters suggest the negotiations are close to complete, but not finalized. Under the framework of the new deal, ZTE will have to pay a penalty and largely change the makeup of its board of directors and other leadership posts. The company was banned from using components and software from the U.S. because it violated an earlier settlement regarding its illegal sale of goods to Iran and North Korea. As a result, ZTE has largely been put out of business. The company has some 75,000 employees, mostly in Shenzhen, China. The talks come as President Trump's administration tries to hammer out a broader trade deal between the U.S. and China. Some congressmen are not happy with Trump's stance, as the Commerce Department believes its action was a fair penalty for illegal behavior. Republican Senator Marco Rubio blasted Trump's moves. "Making changes to their board and a fine won’t stop them from spying and stealing from us. But this is too important to be over. We will begin working on veto-proof congressional action," he argued via Twitter. On May 18, the House Appropriations Committee voted on an amendment that upholds the Commerce Department's sanctions against ZTE. Specifically, the amendment prevents the U.S. Commerce Department from renegotiating its sanctions against ZTE in order to prevent ZTE from gaining access to hardware and software from its U.S. suppliers. Other aspects of the Trump deal with China would see cuts in import tariffs for cars and car parts, and a change in the amount of U.S. agricultural products allowed into China. None of the parties involved commented on the matter, as any deal to lift the ban against ZTE has not been finalized.

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