ZTE reportedly signs preliminary deal to lift U.S. technology ban

It appears that the Trump administration is pretty bothered by the fact that ZTE wanted to replace a top executive with one from another company that was also sanctioned by the US government for being a national security threat.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross banned USA companies from doing business with ZTE in April, after his agency learned that ZTE had not followed through on commitments made back in 2016.

ZTE could not be reached for comment by either Reuters or the Post.

An agreement in principle is not a final agreement but is a step toward it. Commerce Department spokesman James Rockas told Reuters that "no definitive agreement has been signed by both parties". One billion dollars would be settled under the deal - adding to $361 million that the company agreed previous year to pay - and another $400 million would be held in escrow should there be any future violations of the deal.

"The sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the matter". Moreover, the U.S. Commerce Department is expected to count the $361 million ZTE paid a year ago as part of a settlement agreement, which will allow the government to claim no less than $1.7 billion in penalties. In exchange, ZTE would have to pay a total of $1.7 billion in penalties, according to the the report.

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The U.S.is in the midst of trade talks with China to avoid a tariff dispute from escalating into a full-blown trade war.

On Tuesday, Charles Schumer, a Democratic senator from NY, tweeted that the deal shows Trump put China, and not the United States, first. There has been strong opposition to breathing new life into ZTE from the US Congress, which has labeled the company a threat to "national security".

As part of the deal, ZTE has also reportedly promised to replace its board and executive team in 30 days.

U.S Senate Democratic leader Chuck Shumer quipped, "By letting ZTE off the hook, the president who roared like a lion is governing like a lamb when it comes to China". "Congress should move in a bipartisan fashion to block this deal right away".

The agreement stipulates that ZTE would be required to allow unrestricted site visits. ZTE seemingly had little hope of survival until President Donald Trump tweeted that he was pushing the Commerce Department to work with ZTE to remove the ban -- an unprecedented move by a USA president to countermand one of his own departments.

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