Trump defends reversal on China's ZTE

Donald Trump in Miami Florida campaigning ahead of the US presidential election

China's important role in upcoming agreements may also influence future USA decisions regarding ZTE.

"A reversal of the ZTE decision could temporarily tamp down trade tensions by allowing the Chinese to make concessions to the USA without losing face", said Eswar Prasad, a professor of trade policy at Cornell University.

More than 120 industry and business representatives from the United States and China will have an opportunity to testify before the interagency Section 301 Committee on the potential impact of the tariff plan over the next three days, according to the USTR's Office.

The U.S. Commerce Department last month blocked ZTE, a major supplier of telecom networks and smartphones based in southern China, from importing American components for seven years.

Washington and Beijing have proposed tens of billions of dollars in tariffs in recent weeks, fanning worries of a full-blown trade war that could hurt global supply chains and dent business investment plans.

Thanks to Trump's surprising weekend tweet, and continued USA support, theSouth China Morning Post reported that the company could resume normal operations within "two-to-three weeks".

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But he said it is likely Chinese officials also would raise the issue of telecoms giant ZTE, the company that was forced to cease operations after it was cut off from U.S. technology products for violating United States sanctions against North Korea and Iran.

Early this month, a high-level USA delegation - including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, top American trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer and White House adviser Peter Navarro - traveled to Beijing to address the trade dispute. "And that's the area we will be exploring very, very promptly".

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said those and other issues remained a "work in progress" but the trade ministers from Canada and Mexico who were in Washington last week stressed they would not be pressured to reach a deal. But in what appeared to be a step back from the crisis, Trump this week unexpectedly ordered the Commerce Department to help get the Shenzhen-based company back in business, saying "too many jobs in China lost". "Obviously, this is part of a very complex relationship between the USA and China that involves economic issues, national security issues and the like".

The ZTE case also drives home how entwined the US and Chinese economies are. In addition to sparring with China, his team is in talks to rewrite the North America Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. According to IDC data, ZTE sources more than 40 percent of its components from the USA, creating a multibillion-dollar revenue stream for suppliers like Qualcomm (QCOM) and Intel (INTC).

Trump spoke to Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on Monday and discussed bringing the talks to quick conclusion, officials from both countries said. "It's possible, depending upon how the trade talks go". "We are now in close communication over details of the implementation". ZTE agreed to plead guilty and pay about $1 billion in fines.

Commerce Secretary Ross last month accused ZTE of misleading the department and warned: "This egregious behavior can not be ignored".

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