Trump'sZTE deal that would save the company may not happen after all.
Since the language is tucked into a larger defense bill, Trump would have no choice but to pass it. It would also ban US government agencies from purchasing any devices or services from ZTE or Huawei, another major Chinese telecom firm, or using government loans to subsidize any subsidiaries or affiliates of the two companies. The ban would essentially cripple ZTE to the point of potential bankruptcy.
The Senate's moves represent a sweeping rebuke of President Donald Trump's push to negotiate a settlement with ZTE, which went against the Commerce Department's initial ban.
But the ban on buying USA parts, imposed by the department in April, will not be lifted until the company pays the fine and places $400 million more in escrow in a US -approved bank, the agency said. It would hurt ZTE for sure, but keep the company in business. Tom Cotton, R-Ark., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md., and Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., added language to the National Defense Authorization Act to reinstate a ban on ZTE buying US components.
ZTE is back in business: What now?
Last week, the U.S. reached a deal with the Chinese technology giant that would remove the ban. It's a stunning turnaround, though it had been signalled for some weeks.
Senate Democrats and Republicans don't often work together.
Despite bipartisan support for the measure, Republicans are divided over whether it is wise to cross the president on this matter - and it is not clear that the effort to stymie Trump's deal will make it to the final version of the defense bill.
The deal will involve ZTE paying a $1bn penalty and hiring a US-approved compliance team. However, it wouldn't be the first time the President chose the unexpected route.
"While the nightmare is now over, ZTE will likely have to deal with many changes", analysts Edison Lee and Timothy Chau at Jefferies wrote in a note. Although $1.4 billion is not a small amount of money, it sets the stage for other companies to also violate trade laws under the assumption that, at worst, they'll have to pay a hefty fine.
US Senate leaders from both side of the political fence are expected to vote later this week on an amendment to a bill that could block the agreement between the Trump administration and ZTE. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), one of the chief authors of the amendment.
"If this was just a violation of sanctions, then the penalty is fine, but for me it's more than that", said Sen.
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