Published: Thu, June 14, 2018
People | By Leon Thompson

Senators Move To Reverse Trump's Deal Lifting Sanctions On China's ZTE

Senators Move To Reverse Trump's Deal Lifting Sanctions On China's ZTE

Among other things, it would restore penalties on ZTE for violating USA export controls and bar US government agencies from purchasing or leasing equipment or services from the Chinese company.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last week announced the US reached a deal with ZTE that includes a record fine, changes to the company's board and management and USA compliance officers. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., said.

A bipartisan amendment was added to the National Defense Authorization Act that reinstitutes penalties against ZTE for violating USA sanctions against exporting to Iran and North Korea, and bans US government agencies from purchasing any of the company's devices or services.

A bipartisan group of senators praised the amendment, saying it protects the U.S.'s national security. The idea of ZTE being used as a bargaining chip in trade negotiations with China angered lawmakers, who view the company as a national security issue. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), another chief backer of the amendment.

But a number of United States lawmakers aren't satisfied with that agreement, saying the issue extends beyond punishment and is more about national security. But the Trump administration and the Commerce Department later announced a deal struck with ZTE that would again allow it to access US-manufactured parts.

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The Trump administration announced late last week that it had reached a deal to lift penalties against the company in exchange for ZTE paying a $1 billion fine and embedding a USA -selected compliance team in the firm.

ZTE, with a market value of about $20-billion before its shares were suspended in April, is the world's No. 4 telecom equipment maker after Huawei Technologies, Ericsson and Nokia.

It's expected that this new amendment will make its way into the National Defense Authorization Act which is also expected to make its way through Congress and finally signed into law by President Trump.

Republicans hoping to avoid a direct clash with the White House over the ZTE deal are eyeing that reconciliation process to mitigate the Senate's latest step.

The NDAA still has to pass the Senate and the House of Representatives must still agree to the defense bill with the measure included before it can advance. Rubio supports the new language in the defense bill.

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