Saying the move was to ensure the U.S. is a player in international tech standards, the Department of Commerce said U.S. companies can disclose technologies--5G, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence--to Huawei even though it has declared that company to be a national security threat. 

That disclosure has to be in the setting of a standard-setting body and can only be technology that could have been disclosed to the Chinese telecom before it was put on the Entity List. That is the list of companies that U.S. firms are not supposed to supply with U.S. tech. 

"This action is meant to ensure Huawei’s placement on the Entity List in May 2019 does not prevent American companies from contributing to important standards-developing activities." That is because Huawei has "pervasive participation in standards-development organizations," said Commerce. 

Specifically, Commerce is amending the Huawei entity listing that tech can be disclosed "for the purpose of standards development in a standards-development body without need for an export license." 

Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the change will ensure "the U.S. industry’s ability to more fully contribute to standards-development activities in the telecommunications sector," given that "[i]nternational standards serve as the critical building blocks for technological development by enabling functionality, interoperability, and safety. U.S. participation and leadership in standard-setting influences the future of 5G, autonomous vehicles, artificial intelligence, and other cutting-edge technologies. 

“The United States will not cede leadership in global innovation. This action recognizes the importance of harnessing American ingenuity to advance and protect our economic and national security,” said U.S. Department of Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. “The Department is committed to protecting U.S. national security and foreign policy interests by encouraging U.S. industry to fully engage and advocate for U.S. technologies to become international standards.” 

“We are encouraged by the U.S. Department of Commerce’s plans to issue a regulation that clarifies U.S. companies’ ability to participate in international standards development activities,” said Naomi Wilson, senior director of policy, Asia, for tech policy group ITI. “Confusion stemming from the May 2019 entity list update had inadvertently sidelined U.S. companies from some technical standards conversations, putting them at a strategic disadvantage. We hope this measure will provide much-needed clarification and allow companies to once again compete and lead in these foundational activities that help enable the rollout of advanced technologies, such as 5G and AI, across markets. We look forward to reviewing the rule once posted and working with the administration on implementation.”

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