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  • Deal shaped for ZTE to swing back into business
        Date:2018-06-07 

    China's ZTE Corp appears to have reached an agreement that could lift a US Commerce Department ban on buying from American suppliers, allowing the mainland's No 2 telecommunications equipment maker back into business.

    ZTE ceased major operations after a seven-year ban was imposed in April for breaking a 2017 deal after it was caught illegally shipping goods to Iran and North Korea and taken to federal court in Texas.

    A Commerce Department spokesman said "no definitive agreement has been signed," but insiders point to a preliminary deal being reached at the weekend.

    That is said to include a fine of US$1 billion (HK$7.78 billion) against ZTE plus US$400 million going into escrow against any future violations.

    US President Donald Trump - who has been talking with advisers about Beijing's offer to import an extra US$70 billion of American goods over 12 months as a way to defuse a potential trade war - said last month he had told Commerce Department officials to find a way for ZTE to resume operations.

    Trump suggested penalties of a US$1.3 billion fine and changes to its board and top management.

    As part of the deal, sources said, ZTE promised to replace its board and executive team within 30 days and to allow unfettered site visits to verify US parts were being used as claimed.

    But Shenzhen-based ZTE's resuscitation with American help has met strong resistance in Congress, where Democrats and Republicans accused Trump of bowing to pressure from Beijing to help a company seen as a threat to US security.

    "The president who roared like a lion is governing like a lamb when it comes to China," Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said.

    American companies provide 25-30 percent of components in ZTE equipment, which includes smartphones and gear for networks.



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