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  1. #1
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    [EN] U.S. to place export restrictions on China's ZTE

    The restrictions will cause significant supply problems to ZTE.

    "Our company has many technologies and components that came from suppliers in the U.S ... Lots of chips or software used in the products of our company are from U.S. suppliers."

    Steve Stecklow
    Mar 6, 2016

    The U.S. Commerce Department is set to place export restrictions on Chinese telecoms equipment maker ZTE Corp for alleged violations of U.S. export controls on Iran, according to documents seen by Reuters.

    The restrictions will make it difficult for the company to acquire U.S. products by requiring ZTE's suppliers to apply for an export license before shipping any American-made equipment or parts to ZTE. According to a Commerce Department notice that will be published next week in the U.S. Federal Register, the license applications generally will be denied.

    The restrictions will take effect Tuesday, Reuters has learned, and apply to any company worldwide that wants to ship American-made products to ZTE Corp in China. Those companies are not the target of the export curbs on ZTE.

    "This is a significant new burden on trade with ZTE," a senior official at the Commerce Department told Reuters. The official declined to comment on whether the U.S. government might take further action against ZTE.

    The company can appeal against the action.

    ZTE, based in the southern Chinese boomtown of Shenzhen, said in a statement on Sunday that it was aware of media reports on U.S. export restrictions.

    "ZTE is highly concerned about recent media reports relating to a U.S. Department of Commerce investigation," the company said. "ZTE has been working with associated U.S. government departments on investigations since 2012 and maintains constant communication with associated departments and is committed to fully address and resolve any concerns."

    Trade in shares in ZTE, which also sells consumer electronic devices such as smartphones in the United States, was suspended on Monday in Hong Kong and Shenzhen. The company did not offer an explanation.

    "We believe the restrictions, if implemented, will cause significant supply problems to ZTE," Jefferies analyst Cynthia Meng wrote in a note, adding that ZTE has major trading relationships with several U.S. companies including Qualcomm, Microsoft and IBM.

    Telecoms equipment and terminal businesses combined account for 80 percent of ZTE's total revenue of 2015, Meng said. The company's revenue for last year was expected to rise 23.8 percent to a record high of 100.8 billion yuan ($15.47 billion), preliminary results showed.

    ALLEGED VIOLATIONS

    The Commerce Department investigated ZTE for alleged export-control violations following reports by Reuters in 2012 that the company had signed contracts to ship millions of dollars worth of hardware and software from some of America's best-known technology companies to Iran's largest telecoms carrier, Telecommunication Co of Iran (TCI), and a unit of the consortium that controls it.

    The U.S. companies, which included Microsoft Corp, IBM, Oracle Corp and Dell Inc, have all said they were not aware of the Iranian contracts. It is not clear if any of the companies still do business with ZTE.

    Washington has long banned the sale of United States-made technology products to Iran. The Commerce Department's investigation focused on whether ZTE had acquired American products through front companies and then shipped them to Iran in violation of U.S. sanctions.

    Commerce Department investigators obtained internal ZTE documents - some of which had been marked by the company as "Top Secret" - outlining an alleged sanctions-busting scheme. Reuters reviewed some of the documents.

    The senior Commerce Department official declined to comment on whether ZTE had implemented that scheme.

    The ZTE statement did not provide comment relating to the documents.

    The day after the first Reuters article was published in March 2012, a ZTE spokesman said the company would "curtail" its business in Iran. The company later issued a statement saying: "ZTE no longer seeks new customers in Iran and limits business activities with existing customers."

    BUSINESS IMPACT

    What effect the new export restrictions will have on ZTE's global business is not clear.

    One undated internal ZTE document obtained by Commerce Department investigators and reviewed by Reuters states: "Our company has many technologies and components that came from suppliers in the U.S ... Lots of chips or software used in the products of our company are from U.S. suppliers."

    One of ZTE's websites also states that several leading U.S. technology companies, including Microsoft, Intel Corp (INTC.O), IBM and Honeywell International Inc, are "key strategic partners of ZTE". The terms of the partnerships are not described.

    A spokeswoman for Microsoft said the company had a licensing agreement with ZTE but could not confirm if the Chinese company purchases other products, such as software. The other U.S. companies did not respond immediately to requests comment.

    The undated internal ZTE document also describes a proposal overseen by the company's legal department that describes ways to export American products subject to U.S. sanctions by using shell companies to avoid getting caught.

    "The biggest advantage" of one method is that it will make it "harder for the U.S. government to trace it or investigate the real flow of the controlled commodities", the document states.

    In its planned action against ZTE, the Commerce Department cites the proposal, stating that the company "planned and organized a scheme to establish, control and use a series of 'detached' companies to illicitly re-export controlled items to Iran in violation of U.S. export control laws". It is not clear if the alleged scheme was implemented.

    'TOP SECRET'

    Another internal ZTE document from August 2011 that discusses "U.S. export control risks" facing the company allegedly was signed by several top ZTE officials, including Shi Lirong, its president.

    The document, marked by the company "Top Secret" and "No spreading abroad without permission of ZTE", begins "Dear company leaders".

    It states that ZTE "has ongoing projects in all five major embargoed countries - Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Syria and Cuba", adding that "all of these projects depend on U.S.-procured items to some extent, so export control obstacles have arisen".

    The document goes on to cite "other risks" to ZTE, including its operations in the United States.

    "R&D employees at the U.S. Research Centers often travel between China and the U.S., carrying R&D data," it states, in an apparent reference to research and development. "This already severely violates the law."

    The document does not specify what law may have been violated.

    The company "needs to take preventative measures immediately, otherwise will face the risk of being investigated anytime", the document states.

    The document also states that ZTE's Iran project "can potentially put us at risk of being put on the Blacklist by the U.S.," and that such an eventuality could leave the company facing "the risk of losing the supply chain of U.S. products".

    ZTE Corp is one of the world's largest telecoms equipment makers with operations in 160 countries, according to its website. It also is a major manufacturer of mobile handsets. Founded in 1985, its shares trade on both the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock markets.

    Besides ZTE, the export curbs will apply to two of its Chinese affiliates, ZTE Kangxun Telecommunications Ltd and Beijing 8-Star, and an Iranian company, ZTE Parsian.

    (Additional reporting by Yimou Lee in HONG KONG; Editing by Tiffany Wu, Anne Marie Roantree and Alex Richardson)
    http://www.reuters.com/article/us-zt...-idUSKCN0W80AV

  2. #2
    WHT-BR Top Member
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    Dec 2010
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    Shares in China’s ZTE suspended amid US probe

    In an analyst note, Nomura estimated that 10-15 per cent of the components used in ZTE’s telecom equipment and smartphones were supplied by US-based vendors as of last year.


    Charles Clover in Beijing
    March 7, 2016

    Trading of shares in ZTE was suspended in Hong Kong and Shenzhen on Monday after news of a US investigation into whether China’s second-largest telecommunications equipment maker violated US controls on exports to Iran.

    ZTE said it was co-operating with the relevant US authorities. Reuters reported at the weekend that the US Commerce Department was set to place export restrictions on the company. ZTE sells 8-10 per cent of the world’s telecommunications equipment, according to Nomura, and counts Iran as a customer.

    “ZTE has been working with relevant US government departments on investigations, maintaining constant communication with relevant departments and is committed to fully address and resolve any concerns,” it said in a statement.

    The company added that it would continue with normal operations while it conducts its own internal assessments.

    “As a responsible business, ZTE strives to ensure all operational activities adhere to international trade practices and the laws and regulations of host countries,” it said.

    The company on Monday suspended trading in its shares, according to statements to the Hong Kong and Shenzhen stock exchanges, but did not explain why.

    ZTE’s Hong Kong-listed shares closed up 3.5 per cent on Friday, but are down 20 per cent so far this year.

    Leping Huang, telecoms and technology analyst at Nomura in Hong Kong, said official notice from the US Department of Commerce, expected on Tuesday, should make clear the scope of the restrictions.

    Nomura does not expect any impact on product sales in the US, but says restrictions would likely require any company shipping US-made parts or equipment to ZTE to first obtain a licence from the Commerce Department.

    In an analyst note, Nomura estimated that 10-15 per cent of the components used in ZTE’s telecom equipment and smartphones were supplied by US-based vendors as of last year. It said major suppliers include Qualcomm, which supplies smartphone chips, and Xilinx and Altera for base station chips.

    A person briefed by ZTE on the situation said the company does not foresee an immediate impact on production because it has just finished procurement of US parts for 2016. However, if restrictions remain in place long-term ZTE may experience some supply-chain disruption.

    This is not the first time the company has run into trouble with US authorities. In 2012 ZTE and Huawei, its larger domestic competitor, were informally blocked from selling telecoms infrastructure in the US and barred from investing in US companies after the House Intelligence Committee accused both of spying on behalf of Chinese authorities.

    Both companies have long rejected the spying accusations.

    While the 2012 restrictions meant that ZTE cannot sell its telecoms equipment in the country, they did not affect the company’s smartphone business. In the four years since, ZTE has quietly grown into the third-largest seller of Android smartphones in the US.
    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/74bfa374-e...b0d268c39.html

  3. #3
    WHT-BR Top Member
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    U.S. Restricts Sales to ZTE

    Big Q in US export ban on ZTE is how China will respond. Obama Admin hoping for mellow reaction, seems unlikely

    On Tuesday, the Commerce Ministry of China criticized the American restrictions: “The U.S. move will severely affect normal operations of Chinese companies.”

    Recent scrutiny in the United States has also scuttled some Chinese investments in American tech companies. ZTE’s much larger domestic competitor, Huawei, is effectively banned from selling its telecom network equipment in the United States.

    Beijing has fought back by increasing scrutiny of American companies’ operations in China. It fined Qualcomm for antitrust violations and raided Microsoft’s offices as part of a continuing investigation.




    Paul Mozur
    March 8, 2016


    HONG KONG — ZTE is one of China’s few truly international electronics firms. Yet American companies will now need special permission to sell to it.

    The company, which makes smartphones, was found to have violated American sanctions against Iran by selling United States-made goods to the country, according to a Commerce Department statement on Monday. As a result, ZTE will be blocked from buying any technology from American companies without a special license.

    ZTE planned to “illicitly re-export controlled items to Iran in violation of U.S export laws,” the Commerce Department said. The sanctions against Iran, many of which were recently lifted, were intended to restrict Iran’s nuclear work.

    The export controls against ZTE are unusual because such actions are rarely taken against such large companies. The action underscores how important the push is by the United States to gain China’s cooperation in embargoes intended to combat nuclear proliferation.

    The export controls are also risky because they could easily prompt a backlash from Beijing. Technology has become a sticking point in Chinese-American relations. Washington has accused Chinese government-sponsored hackers of stealing American trade secrets.

    On Tuesday, the Commerce Ministry of China criticized the American restrictions. In a statement posted on its website, the ministry said: “The U.S. move will severely affect normal operations of Chinese companies. China will continue negotiating with the U.S. side on this issue.”

    Recent scrutiny in the United States has also scuttled some Chinese investments in American tech companies. ZTE’s much larger domestic competitor, Huawei, is effectively banned from selling its telecom network equipment in the United States.

    Beijing has fought back by increasing scrutiny of American companies’ operations in China. It fined Qualcomm for antitrust violations and raided Microsoft’s offices as part of a continuing investigation.

    Chinese state news media has complained bitterly about revelations from the former National Security Agency contractor Edward J. Snowden about American spying and has called for a domestic purge of United States technology.

    Although analysts said that the export controls against ZTE were most likely aimed at nuclear proliferation rather than being a new jab in heightened technology trade tensions, China’s interpretation of the action was an open question.

    “Depending on how both sides read it, this could be a specific case, or it could get overheated and extended,” said Scott Kennedy, a scholar at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a nonprofit research group.

    Trading of ZTE’s shares was suspended Monday before the announcement. News of the export controls was first reported by Reuters.

    ZTE said in a statement Tuesday morning that it was “fully committed to compliance with the laws and regulations in the jurisdictions in which it operates. ZTE has been cooperating, will continue to cooperate and communicate with all U.S. agencies as required.”

    ZTE’s status within China is likely to make the export controls big news there. Though not well known in the United States, ZTE is an international champion of the Chinese high-tech industry, with a market capitalization of around $10 billion. After China’s first lady, Peng Liyuan, aroused online criticism by using an Apple iPhone during a 2013 trip to Mexico, she switched to a ZTE phone for a public trip in 2014.

    In Monday’s statement, the Commerce Department provided two internal ZTE documents to back up the claims that the company was violating sanctions. One, from 2011, signed by several senior ZTE executives, discussed the risks of United States export controls and noted that ZTE had “ongoing projects in all five major embargoed countries — Iran, Sudan, North Korea, Syria and Cuba.” It also said that the Iran project was the “biggest risk.”

    In the other document, ZTE mapped out the way it could circumvent American export controls in a complex flow chart, including using a “shell” company structure.

    The new export controls are likely to make business difficult for ZTE. Though the company sells its own branded smartphones and telecom infrastructure equipment, it buys components from American tech companies, using, for example, Qualcomm chips in some of its phones. Given the complexity of the electronics supply chain and the mass production of specific devices, it will probably prove costly for ZTE to shuffle the design and sourcing for its products.

    Daniel H. Rosen, a partner at the research firm Rhodium Group, said that given ZTE’s behavior, it would have “required an extraordinary degree of confidence building” between the United States and China to avoid the current situation.

    “That does not appear to have taken place,” he said.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/08/te...sanctions.html

  4. #4
    WHT-BR Top Member
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    Dec 2010
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    Cool Stamping "top secret" on something almost guarantees it ends up on Twitter

    Paul Mozur @paulmozur

    Want to violate US sanctions against Iran? Use this easy to follow chart from China's ZTE. No one will ever know.


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