Huawei: EU contract plans may signal more curbs

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - China-based Huawei criticized on Wednesday proposals by the European Union to block non-EU companies from lucrative public contracts, saying such a move may pave the way for more restrictions on doing business in the bloc.

The European Commission proposed in March to exclude foreign companies from EU contracts worth more than 5 million euros ($6.37 million) if the countries where they are based repeatedly discriminate against EU firms.

The move came amid mounting trade tensions between Europe, China and the United States. Public contracts for building highways to running data networks in the EU are worth more than 500 billion euros a year, making them among the most lucrative in the world.

The EU executive is going about it the wrong way by setting conditions on doing business in the 27-country region, John Suffolk, Huawei Technologies’ global cyber security officer, told reporters.

“It sounds like you want an open market but with caveats around it. It’s a slippery road to hell,” he said.

Huawei is the world’s No.2 telecoms equipment maker and occupies the sixth spot in the global mobile phone manufacturing sector.

Based in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen, Huawei does business with major carriers in China, southeast Asia, Africa and Europe. It has run into resistance in some markets, including the United States and Australia over national security concerns.

The EU Commission’s proposals, which will need to be approved by EU lawmakers and EU governments before they become law, have been criticized by Britain, Germany, Sweden and non-EU countries.

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Reporting by Foo Yun Chee; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter