(Getty Images)
  • Trump announced on Saturday that he was relaxing the ban on US companies selling to Huawei.
  • The announcement alarmed some US lawmakers, including Senator Marco Rubio who said it would be a "catastrophic mistake" to loosen restrictions on Huawei.
  • Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow said this new exemption would only apply to selling "general merchandise" to Huawei.
  • Trump's comments, made during a G20 summit press conference, came after the Commerce Department banned US firms in May from selling hardware or services to Huawei.
  • For more stories, go to Business Insider SA.

President Trump has drawn fire after announcing that he was relaxing the ban on US companies doing business with Chinese tech giant Huawei.

At the G20 summit in Osaka on Saturday, Trump told the press he would allow US companies to continue selling to Huawei, despite having placed Huawei on a trade blacklist in May over national security concerns. The Commerce Department ban meant no US business could sell parts and components to Huawei without a special licence, although many firms reportedly skirted the ban.

In a later tweet Trump said that he'd reached the decision following pressure from US "High Tech companies" and Chinese president Xi Jinping. The Financial Times reported last month that Google was furiously lobbying Washington to keep doing business with the company.

Senator Marco Rubio was quick to respond, tweeting that if Trump had loosened the restrictions on Huawei that would constitute a "catastrophic mistake."

"If President Trump has in fact bargained away the recent restrictions on #Huawei, then we will have to get those restrictions put back in place through legislation," Rubio added.

The administration's top economic advisor, Larry Kudlow, downplayed Trump's relaxing of the ban in interview with CBS on Sunday, saying it only applied to "general merchandise," which he described as "various chips and software and other services that are available all around the world, not specific to the US."

"The president is not backing off on the national security concerns. We understand the huge risks regarding Huawei," Kudlow said, adding that talks with China over Huawei were not yet concluded. "The last word is not going to come till the very end of the talks," he said.

When asked specifically about Rubio's criticisms, Kudlow said: "I hope that when President Trump comes back, that he and others of us will be able to persuade Senator Rubio, that there will be no national security violations."

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