Britain will soon decide what role Huawei will have in its 5G network but there are only a limited number of alternative providers, Andrea Leadsom said today.
The business secretary told Sky: “Ideally there would be more providers of infrastructure similar to the work that Huawei does but the UK is looking very carefully at this issue and we will be making a final decision soon”.
The already tense relationship between the UK and the US could become more fraught if the government gives Huawei the green light to build a 5G network.
The US has said it has national security concerns and has threatened to limit intelligence-sharing with the UK if it goes ahead.
Leadsom added: “I share the concerns of many citizens about protecting national security interests. Those discussions are ongoing.”
The digital services tax has also been at the centre of trade discussions, as a row erupted at the World Economic Forum at Davos yesterday.
Earlier this week France shelved plans to impose the tax following discussions with the US, but Chancellor Sajid Javid yesterday made clear that the UK would not U-turn.
During a panel discussion with the chancellor, US Treasury secretary Steve Mnuchin hinted at retaliatory tariffs claiming the tax would mainly hit US companies.
He warned: “If people want to just arbitrarily put taxes on our digital companies, we will consider arbitrarily putting taxes on car companies.”
Former chancellor George Osborne warned his successor against entering into a trade war with the US over taxing tech firms.
Today Leadsom said: “We are going ahead with the tax but we must work on a global solution.”
She denied that the tax would damage the UK’s relationship with the US: “We do, from time to time, have disagreements but the relationship is very strong and we are committed to a trade deal.”