Trump Declares War on Chinese Tech
Earlier this week, President Donald J. Trump declared a national emergency pertaining to threats against U.S. technology and telecommunications infrastructure.
With the stroke of his pen, Trump issued an executive order banning U.S. firms from doing any business involving information or communications technology that could pose an “unacceptable risk to the national security of the Unites States.”
The ban specifically targets Chinese telecommunications company Huawei Technologies (and 70 of its affiliates), which has been the subject of ongoing political pressure surrounding alleged security and espionage risks.
Notably, the ban came just days after China–U.S. trade talks fell through, a development that pushed both U.S. and Asian markets lower on fears that escalating tensions and tariffs could put a dent in an otherwise healthy global economy.
The move has been seen as a major blow to Huawei, which has repeatedly denied that its products pose a security threat to its international customers. The company struck back against the ban in public remarks on Thursday, saying that it will force U.S. companies to resort to “inferior yet more expensive alternatives,” particularly in the rollout of next-generation 5G infrastructure.
The criticism from Huawei is at least half correct, as telecom companies such as Verizon (NYSE: VZ) and AT&T (NYSE: T) will likely have to pay more due to a more limited supply chain.
Not surprisingly, the ban has so far served as a boon for Huawei’s direct telecommunication competitors, namely Scandinavian telecommunications firms Nokia and Ericsson, which gained 4.4% and 1.85% on Thursday, respectively. That said, it could also pose a potential roadblock for U.S. firms currently involved in business with Huawei.
Trump’s order not only bans Huawei from taking part in the deployment of 5G networks in the U.S., but it also requires U.S. companies such as Qualcomm (NASDAQ: QCOM) to obtain licenses to sell components to Huawei. That potentially cripples the company’s ability to its deploy 5G technology outside the U.S., but it also limits revenue opportunities for U.S. firms selling their components to China.
While the ban is being presented by the White House as a security risk, the political motivations for the “national emergency” are clear enough. Trump is using the executive order as retaliation against China and as means of upping the ante in the trade war.
In a way, this is the Trump administration’s “weapons of mass destruction” moment. For better or worse, the White House is using weak evidence to say that Huawei poses a national security threat and to advance its own foreign policy agenda.
While there is no smoking gun on Huawei, the argument from proponents of the ban is that the company cannot credibly claim to be independent of the Chinese government. It’s a fair point, but the timing of the ban suggests this is more about gaining leverage than it is about actually protecting U.S. national security.
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In any event, the ban highlights 5G as a critical technology that’s being deployed worldwide. Competition is so fierce that the world’s most powerful governments are working to ensure their companies come out on top, and it’s no wonder why.
In 2018, 72 different operators were testing 5G, with Deloitte expecting 25 of them to launch 5G services in part of their territory by the end of 2019.
And according to International Data Corporation (IDC), 5G network infrastructure revenue is expected to reach $26 billion by 2022, up from just $528 million today. That works out to an insane compound annual growth rate of 118%.
That’s worth repeating for investors who have their eyes set on growth: a 118% annual increase in spending on 5G infrastructure for at least the next three years.
With China’s Huawei out of the picture, this lays the groundwork for an immensely profitable opportunity, specifically for U.S. 5G infrastructure companies. Why? Because they will be among the only options available to get these networks up and running.
Make no mistake, either: 5G networks will be absolutely necessary for the future of technology. As McKinsey & Company explained in a recent industry report:
Enhanced mobile broadband, IoT, and mission-critical applications... will require network performance to increase 10-fold over current levels across all network parameters, as measured by latency, throughput, reliability, and scale.
In other words, tomorrow’s technology requires more robust networks, which are only going to be possible through the deployment of 5G and eventually what’s beyond it.
If you have money to invest and you’re not exposed to 5G yet, the time to get on board is now. I recommend our readers review our top three 5G stocks to get started today.
Until next time,
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