U.S. will deal with Huawei waiver applications within weeks - Ross

FILE PHOTO: Wilbur L. Ross, Jr. Secretary, U.S. Department of Commerce speaks during the Milken Institute's 22nd annual Global Conference in Beverly Hills, California, U.S., April 30, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Blake/File Photo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Trump administration plans to handle applications from tech companies seeking waivers over Huawei Technologies Co Ltd’s blacklisting within the next few weeks, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Bloomberg Television on Tuesday.

“We will deal with them very promptly,” Ross said in an interview. “There are 50-some-odd applications from 35 companies that have been received, and within the next couple of weeks we expect to have verdicts.”

Pressed on whether they would be completed in two weeks, Ross said: “I said within the next few weeks, few.”

Ross’s comments came a day after President Donald Trump told the heads of top technology companies at the White House meeting that the administration would make “timely” decisions on requests by U.S. companies to sell products to Huawei.

American companies were banned from selling most U.S. parts and components to Huawei without special licenses because of national security concerns. But Trump said last month that sales could resume as he sought to restart trade talks with Beijing.

Ross said the technology company officials who gathered at the White House understood the process the administration was following and voiced no complaint about it. He said granting the waivers was an interagency process, involving the departments of Commerce, State, Defense and Energy.

“This is not a simple thing, but in general the principle we will be following ... is things that are not sensitive from a national security point of view, we’re going to be looking pretty favourably upon,” Ross said. “Those that are sensitive are in a different category and we have to be very, very careful about them.”

Asked about the possibility of additional sanctions following a Washington Post report that the Chinese company had helped North Korea build its wireless network, Ross said the administration was monitoring Huawei’s activities.

“We are continuing to watch very carefully everything about Huawei, including the information revealed in that article yesterday. But beyond that, we can’t really comment on a pending investigation,” he said.

Reporting by David Alexander and Susan Heavey; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis