[News] U.S. Imposes Further Sanctions, Revoking Intel and Qualcomm’s License to Supply Chips to Huawei

2024-05-08 Semiconductors editor

The U.S. government has reportedly revoked the licenses of Intel and Qualcomm to supply semiconductor chips used in laptops and handsets to Huawei. According to Reuters citing sources, some companies received notices on May 7th, and the revocation of the licenses took immediate effect.

In April, Huawei unveiled its first AI-supported laptop, the MateBook X Pro, equipped with an Intel Core Ultra 9 processor. This announcement drew criticism from Republican lawmakers in the United States, who argued that the Commerce Department allowed Intel to export chips to Huawei. Notably, the sources cited in a report by Reuters on March 12th once stated that Intel’s competitor, AMD, had applied for a similar license to sell comparable chips in early 2021 but did not receive approval from the US Department of Commerce.

In response to the matter surrounding Intel and Huawei, the Commerce Department confirmed the revocation of some export licenses to Huawei but declined to provide further details. Still, revoking the licenses not only damages Huawei but may also impact U.S. suppliers with business relationships with the company.

According to a report from Bloomberg, Qualcomm, which obtained a license in 2020, has been selling older 4G networking chips to Huawei, but the company expects its business to gradually decrease next year.

Another report from Reuters also indicated that Qualcomm continues to license its 5G technology portfolio to Huawei, allowing the latter to use HiSilicon’s 5G chips since last year, raising concerns of violating U.S. sanctions. Additionally, according to the same report, documents submitted by Qualcomm this month indicated that its patent agreement with Huawei will expire in the fiscal year 2025, which is earlier than expected, thus prompting negotiations for renewal agreements to begin sooner. Qualcomm has not responded to these reports.

Due to concerns over potential espionage activities by Huawei, the White House included Huawei in the trade restriction list in 2019, which requires suppliers to apply for licenses before shipping goods to blacklisted companies. However, despite this, Huawei suppliers still obtained licenses worth billions of USD to sell goods and technology to the Chinese tech giant, including allowing Intel to sell CPUs starting in 2020.

Republican Representative Elise Stefanik believes that revoking the licenses will strengthen U.S. national security, protect U.S. intellectual property rights, and thus weaken the technological advancement capabilities of communist China.

Previously, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo pointed out that the new chips introduced by Huawei are not as capable and lag behind U.S. chips by several years in performance, indicating that U.S. export controls on China are effective.

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(Photo credit: iStock)

Please note that this article cites information from Reuters and Bloomberg.

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