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Huawei reprieved as Microsoft is granted licence to export software

Image credit: reuters

Microsoft said it has been granted a licence to export software to Huawei as the Chinese firm faces sustained difficulties working with American companies following a trade ban earlier this year.

The last six months has seen much of Huawei’s business in the West suffer after the Trump administration added it to the Entity List over cyber-security concerns.

Reuters reports that a Microsoft spokesman said: “On November 20, the US Department of Commerce granted Microsoft’s request for a license to export mass-market software to Huawei. We appreciate the Department’s action in response to our request.”

While no clue was given as to the specifics of the software, Huawei has been ramping up its laptop production in recent years with its MateBook series, which comes with Microsoft’s Windows 10 operating system installed.

However, the Chinese firm has been less fortunate with other American companies, forcing it to launch its Mate 30 phone in September without Google apps that are considered crucial for successful sales in the West.

Following Huawei’s addition to the Entity List, it has received several 90-day trading extensions allowing it minimal access to some American firms. The latest such extension came earlier this week, although the tech giant said it was still being treated “unfairly” and that the temporary extension would make little difference to its overall fortunes.

The Commerce Department confirmed it had begun issuing licenses for some companies to sell goods to Huawei, expanding the company’s supplier base and providing long-awaited clarity to the industry that once sold it billions of dollars’ worth of goods.

A US official said it had received roughly 300 license requests, around half of which had been processed. Roughly half of those – or one quarter of the total – had been approved and the rest denied.

It was not immediately clear which products had been approved for sale to Huawei, which is still the world’s leading telecommunications equipment maker and the second-largest smartphone maker. A person familiar with the process said that some licenses for sales of cellphone components and non-electronic components were approved.

Microsoft declined to comment beyond its statement on which products had been approved, and the Commerce Department declined to comment.

Dan Ives, an analyst with Wedbush Securities, said the license was most likely for the company’s Windows operating system.

“This will be a major relief for Huawei after an arduous period with large technology players like Microsoft, Google and others restricted on the platform,” Ives said.

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