US chip ban doesn’t mean the end of Huawei

New US Department of Commerce regulations prevent global semiconductor firms from selling chips to Chinese tech giant Huawei if American equipment, intellectual property or software was used in their manufacturing.

But do the trade restrictions mean the “end of Huawei”, as some commentators have suggested, or might there be sufficient leeway to maneuver around the newly imposed constraints?

Approaching such questions requires a closer look at Huawei’s main products and corresponding supply chains. As of 2018, Huawei’s key products included networking equipment, cloud computing gear and smartphones (see figure below).

All three product categories fit under the umbrella of advanced electronics, which today depend on a complex division of labor. Key components of corresponding supply chains involve (1) product design and integration; (2) chip design of key processors; (3) chip manufacturing; and (4) provision of chip manufacturing equipment.