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Huawei: US grants more exemptions to Chinese phone ban

Huawei smartphones Image copyright Getty Images

The US Commerce Department said it has agreed to grant "several" exemptions to its ban on doing business with Huawei, the Chinese telecommunications giant.

The ban meant that Huawei's latest smartphones launched without many of the typical apps - including Gmail.

It was not immediately clear which companies had received the licences.

Officials have just started to notify firms of the government's intent to deny or approve reprieves, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said.

He told Fox Business that about 290 companies had requested exemptions to the ban, which the US imposed citing national security concerns in May after trade talks between the US and China broke down.

Microsoft and Google are among the major technology firms that have been affected by the ban, which forbids US companies from doing business with Huawei without special approval.

They did not respond to requests for comment.

"The department is issuing these narrow licences to authorise limited and specific activities which do not pose a significant risk to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States," a commerce department spokesman said in a statement.

The move comes amid another push for the US and China to reach a trade deal.

Last month, US President Donald Trump said a "phase one" trade deal could be signed within weeks, but optimism has waned as the negotiations have dragged on.

Mr Trump on Wednesday said China was not "stepping up to the level that I want".

While Huawei will remain on the blacklist, the exemptions to the ban are expanding.

The commerce department had already granted limited "temporary" licences, many of which applied to rural US telecommunications network operators. It extended those exemptions for another 90 days on Monday.

The new exemptions are expected to apply to Huawei suppliers.

Huawei did not respond to a request for comment immediately. The company has denied that it is a threat and urged the US to remove it from the list, arguing the ban primarily harms US companies.

The US has said Huawei's equipment could be used for spying and accused the firm of violating US sanctions against doing business with Iran.

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