ZTE pays $1.4 billion penalty; US to lift ban

ZTE can once again do business with American companies

The US Commerce Department said Friday that it's letting ZTE, which makes smartphones and telecommunications equipment, resume buying components from American companies.

"While we lifted the ban on ZTE, the Department will remain vigilant as we closely monitor ZTE's actions to ensure compliance with all USA laws and regulations", Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. He described the terms of the deal as the strictest ever imposed in such a case. "It will deter future bad actors and ensure the Department is able to protect the United States from those that would do us harm".

"The department will remain vigilant as we closely monitor ZTE's actions to ensure compliance with all USA laws and regulations", Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement that described the terms of the deal as the strictest ever imposed in such a case.

ZTE has been in crisis since the United States first blocked it from buying U.S. parts in April.

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In a statement this week, Senator Mark Warner of Virginia, the senior Democrat on the Select Committee on Intelligence, lambasted the reversal, saying the U.S. military and spy agencies had branded ZTE an "ongoing threat" to USA national security. However, the US Congress is continuing to debate measures that are likely to keep some form of penalty on the grounds of national security concerns. "President Xi of China and I are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast". He said ZTE buys parts from USA companies and that the deal was "also reflective of the larger trade deal we are negotiating with China and my personal relationship with President Xi". The ban was imposed after the USA government determined that ZTE violated terms of a 2017 settlement, reached after ZTE illegally shipped United States equipment to Iran and North Korea. In addition to violating the terms of the settlement, the company lied to the USA about reprimanding employees involved in the illegal actions.

The Commerce Department in April banned USA companies from supplying ZTE with crucial components, forcing it to halt operations, after officials found further violations even after reaching a settlement in March of past year over the initial complaints.

The export ban forced ZTE (ZTCOF) to halt nearly all of its operations, putting the company's future in doubt.

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