FedEx Corp has filed a lawsuit against the US Department of Commerce in a federal court in Washington D.C. to challenge its decision to make the US companies liable for shipments that have been banned under trade restrictions. These are said to impact the Chinese tech giant Huawei, among other companies.
The company publicly stated that the US Export Administration Regulations "violate common carriers' rights". According to the lawsuit, they "essentially deputise FedEx to police the contents of the millions of packages it ships daily even though doing so is a virtually impossible task, logistically, economically, and in many cases, legally."
"FedEx is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency," the delivery company insisted in a statement.
Commenting on the possible legal battle, a Commerce Department spokesperson noted that the officials “look forward to defending Commerce's role in protecting US national security," admitting, however, that they had not reviewed the complaint yet.
The announcement comes hot on the heels of the uproar in China over failing to deliver a Huawei package to the US from the UK, which prompted speculations about Beijing blacklisting the carrier. A UK-based PC Magazine writer reportedly tried to send a Huawei P30 smartphone but got his shipment returned with the explanation that the Chinese mobile phone manufacturer and 68 of its global affiliates were included in a list of entities “that US companies are restricted from doing business with”. FedEx spokesperson Maury Donahue later stated that all was “an operational error”, adding that the carrier adjusts “operations to comply with a dynamic US regulatory environment".
It is not the first time that FedEx has had an issue with delivering Huawei parcels amid the ongoing spat between Washington and Beijing over the Chinese tech comany and its international expansion. FedEx had earlier allegedly misdirected Huawei packages to wrong addresses without offering any details. China began probing the company.
At the same time, FedEx CEO Fred Smith told Fox News that "Huawei is just emblematic of this problem”. He noted that his firm has already informed the US government that "the increasing use of restrictions on exports and imports by the Commerce Department in various geopolitical and trade disputes creates just an impossible burden on FedEx and common carriers”.
Tensions have been running high since Donald Trump issued an executive order banning Huawei equipment on US soil, citing security concerns. It prohibited American firms from selling, leasing or licensing technology to the Chinese tech giant. The move forced Google to end Android support for all future Huawei devices. Several chip-makers, including Intel, Qualcomm and the UK's ARM have cut ties with the company.
Huawei criticised the US decision, refuting the claims that the company has ties to the Chinese government and spies on users. The Chinese company filed a complaint against the actions of Washington, while Beijing passed new state guidelines enabling the nation to ban any foreign equipment deemed a threat to the national security.