Law360 Quotes Kevin Wolf on Restrictions on Trade with Huawei

Kevin Wolf, a partner in the international trade practice at Akin Gump, has been quoted in the Law360 article “The Fog Of Huawei: Trump’s China Clash Squeezes Telecom.” The article reports on the uncertainty created by President Trump’s issuance of a temporary general license (TGL) to China’s Huawei Technologies that would allow it to continue to do some business with U.S. companies, after initially being placed on a government blacklist.

According to the article, the TGL includes a requirement that Huawei provide certification and affirmatively state that it will comply with the Commerce Department’s strict recordkeeping requirements. The article states that this is raising some concern, though, as to whether Huawei will be willing to certify the terms of a transaction and provide extensive supporting documentation, since it is usually the exporter that has to conduct the verification.

“It absolutely is more secure and robust, no doubt about it. It gives you almost complete confidence that it’s going to the right end user,” said Wolf. “But because it’s so certain … it will be interesting to see how Huawei will respond to that because it’s so new and different.”

Wolf said the idea behind the license was to “eliminate the impact” of the Huawei blacklisting on third parties that are using the company’s goods or services and that may require assistance from foreign providers to ensure they continue operating without interruption.

The original placement of Huawei on the blacklist, the article says, means that if U.S. companies want to conduct business that does not fall under the umbrella of the general license, they have to get permission from the Commerce Department, which usually approaches those requests with a presumption of denial. In addition to not granting any requests, the agency has not offered much guidance on what factors it is considering when deciding whether a given transaction is a security threat.

“Everybody wants to know what’s going on,” Wolf said. “Nobody has any idea what the rules are or what the standards are. It’s widespread puzzlement.”