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US official reportedly says licenses allowing sales to Huawei will come 'shortly'

The government has apparently received 260 requests for licenses.

US companies could soon get government approval to sell gear to Huawei.
Érika García / CNET

Licenses allowing US companies to sell equipment to Huawei "will be forthcoming very shortly,"  Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Bloomberg. A deal regarding the controversial Chinese company is apparently on track to be signed this month, as part of a wider US-China trade agreement.

The government has received 260 license requests, Ross told the business outlet on Sunday, a considerable jump on the 130 requests it had reportedly received in August.

"That's a lot of applications -- it's frankly more than we would've thought," he said in the interview, noting that most will likely be approved.

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The department blacklisted Huawei in May, following an executive order from President Donald Trump that effectively banned Huawei from US communications networks. It required US companies to get a license to do business with the Chinese telecom, which has long been the subject of national security concerns due to its cozy relationship with the Chinese government.

The most obvious impact has been the loss of Android -- Huawei has been forced to use an open-source version of Google's operating system on its latest phones, like the Mate 30. A Huawei exec acknowledged that operating without services like Play Store or apps like Chrome is "the most challenging part" of the ban. It's not known if Google is among the companies that have applied for licenses.

US companies were allowed to keep selling equipment to Huawei under a temporary general license, but that's due to expire this month. In October, a report said Trump was ready to kick off the process of approving licenses.

Neither the Commerce Department, Google nor Huawei immediately responded to requests for comment.

First published at 3:07 a.m. PT.
Updated at 4:19 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.