ZTE pleaded guilty last year to conspiring to violate U.S. sanctions by illegally shipping U.S. goods and technology to Iran.
U.S. President Donald Trump said in a tweet on Sunday that he has asked the Commerce Department to help Chinese technology company ZTE Corp “get back into business, fast,” a concession to Beijing ahead of high-stakes trade talks that will take place this week.
ZTE, one of the world’s largest telecom equipment makers, suspended its main operations after the U.S. Commerce Department banned American supplies to its business for seven years.
Trump’s offer to help comes as Chinese and U.S. officials prepare for talks in Washington with China’s top trade official Liu He to resolve an escalating trade dispute between the world’s two largest economies.
In trade talks in Beijing earlier this month, China asked the United States to ease crushing sanctions on ZTE, according to people with knowledge of the matter.
Trump’s reversal could have a significant impact on shares of American optical components makers such as Acacia Communications Inc and Oclaro Inc which saw their stock prices fall when U.S. companies were banned from exporting goods to ZTE.
ZTE paid over $2.3 billion to 211 U.S. exporters in 2017, a senior ZTE official said on Friday.
“Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!” Trump wrote on Twitter, saying he is working with Chinese President Xi Jinping on a solution.
President Xi of China, and I, are working together to give massive Chinese phone company, ZTE, a way to get back into business, fast. Too many jobs in China lost. Commerce Department has been instructed to get it done!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) 13 May 2018
The U.S. government launched an investigation into ZTE after Reuters reported in 2012 the company had signed contracts to ship millions of dollars’ worth of hardware and software from some of the best known U.S. technology companies to Iran.