WASHINGTON — The United States will allow American companies to continue doing business with Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant, for an additional 90 days, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Monday.
The government’s reprieve is intended to give rural telecommunications companies in the United States more time to wean themselves off Huawei, which supplies many of those providers with parts and equipment. Rural telecom firms in the United States have been scrambling to figure out how they will replace Huawei equipment since the Trump administration effectively banned the company from United States communications networks in May and have been lobbying the White House for more time.
“As we continue to urge consumers to transition away from Huawei’s products, we recognize that more time is necessary to prevent any disruption,” Mr. Ross said in a statement.
Huawei has been thrust into the middle of President Trump’s trade fight with China and the president has given mixed signals about the telecom giant’s fate. After trade talks broke down in May, Mr. Trump’s Commerce Department added the company to a United States “entity list” that effectively banned the firm from buying American technology and other products without government approval.
Mr. Trump has also called the company a national security threat. The United States has concerns that Huawei could pose a national security threat by being used to help the Chinese government’s espionage efforts and to disrupt American telecommunications infrastructure in the event of a conflict.
But after adding Huawei to the entity list in May, Commerce promptly offered a reprieve for American firms doing business with the company until Aug. 19. Mr. Trump had hinted that he could yield further on Huawei in exchange for China purchasing more American farm products, but no such agreement has emerged.
Speaking to reporters on Sunday, Mr. Trump suggested that there might not be another extension.
“Huawei is a company we may not do business with at all,” he said.
The temporary relief for Huawei comes as trade negotiations between the United States and China remain at an impasse.
Mr. Trump agreed last week to delay some additional tariffs on toys and electronics until December but the United States is still expected to slap levies on more Chinese imports on Sept. 1, Earlier this month it labeled China a currency manipulator for the first time since 1994. China is expected to unveil plans to retaliate.
Despite escalating tension, Mr. Trump said that he and President Xi Jinping of China were planning to speak and that the two countries would continue to have trade talks.
Republicans and Democrats in Congress have been urging Mr. Trump to keep his hard line on Huawei. Lifting the ban outright would likely be met with strong bipartisan disapproval.
Speaking on the Fox Business Network on Monday, Mr. Ross said that the administration would offer another extension through mid-November.
In a sign that the administration is not easing pressure on Huawei, the Commerce Department said that it was also adding 46 affiliates of Huawei to the entity list.
The Trump administration has warned that Huawei poses a national security threat and American officials have been warning allies for months that the United States would stop sharing intelligence if they use Huawei and other Chinese technology to build the core of their fifth-generation, or 5G, networks.