Huawei will begin building its first mobile phone equipment factory in Europe in 2024. The plant would have headquarters in Brumath, near Strasbourg, France. The project is moving forward despite some European governments restricting the use of equipment made by the Chinese company, citing safety concerns.
Huawei had announced in 2020 that it would open its first factory in France to provide 5G technology to all of Europe. The plan had an initial investment of about 200 million euros—about 215 million dollars—. But the COVID-19 pandemic delayed everything.
A French government source told Reuters that The factory would be operational by 2025. Huawei, however, has not confirmed any schedule or other details in this regard.
The Chinese technology company had said in 2020 that the factory in France would initially create 300 jobs. Its long-term projection estimated 500 workers. The stated objective then was to produce 1 billion euros in mobile network technology solutions per year.
The factory would be primarily responsible for producing mobile base stations, according to 2020 plans. Although they are not central to the 5G network infrastructure, it is a way of telling Europe that they are not a danger. Huawei, like other Chinese technology companies, faces accusations of collaborating with the Chinese government. The declared fear is that their 5G networks will be used to spy on third parties.
Huawei restrictions in Europe
At the end of 2022, the United States Government banned the sale and import of new Huawei and ZTE equipment because represent “an unacceptable risk” to national security. The new advance in this trade war, which began during the administration of former President Donald Trump in 2019, caused a drastic drop of almost 70% in Huawei’s profits in 2022.
Several countries in Europe also decided to exclude Huawei and ZTE from the deployment of their 5G networks for security reasons. Something that the European Commission considered “completely justified”, according to a statement from the Commissioner for Internal Market and Services, Thierry Breton. The agency then confirmed in August that it would restrict the two Chinese teleoperators’ access to European Union programs and financing instruments.
The French government, for its part, told telecom operators in 2020 that wanted to buy 5G equipment from Huawei that they would not be able to renew licenses for the equipment once they expired. However, China’s Vice Premier He Lifeng said in July this year that France had decided to extend Huawei’s 5G licenses in some cities.
“We hope that France will stabilize the tone of friendly cooperation between China and the European Union,” said He Lifeng, after meeting French Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire in Beijing. China is France’s third largest trading partner, only behind the European Union and the United States.
When it first announced its factory in Europe, Huawei explained that it would have a demonstration center which would show the wireless base station production, software loading and testing process. The center, the company said in 2020, would be open to operators, governments and other authorities. He highlighted that the project would boost the technical competitiveness of European industry and boost the resilience of local supply chains and infrastructure.