Jobs on the line as Huawei plans to shrink presence in Australia

Huawei expects to cut down its current 200-person Australian workforce
  • Reuters (ARN)
  • 22 September, 2020 10:11

The Australian operation of Chinese telecommunications equipment maker Huawei Technologies said it would continue to cut staff numbers and investment in the country amid strained relations between Beijing and Canberra.

In 2018, Australia banned Huawei from supplying equipment for a 5G mobile network citing national security risks, a move the company criticised as being politically motivated.

"In simple terms the 5G ban on Huawei has cost us 1,000 high-tech and high-wage jobs from the economy," Jeremy Mitchell, Huawei's chief corporate affairs officer for Australia, said in an emailed statement.

"We have gone from 1,200 staff to fewer than 200 and by next year it will be lower still."

The Australian Financial Review first reported the comments.

Huawei had terminated A$100 million (US$72.3 million) of research and development investments in Australia since the 5G ban, Mitchell said.

Huawei last month said it would end its sponsorship of an Australian rugby league club a year earlier than expected due to a downturn in its business. 

Diplomatic relations between Australia and China have soured this year after Australia called for an independent international investigation into the source of the coronavirus pandemic.

Beijing was angered by the move and has since blocked Australian beef imports, placed dumping tariffs on Australian barley, and launched an anti-dumping investigation into Australian wine.

Huawei began the restructure earlier this year, with Australia and New Zealand vice president of channel and commercial Geoff Wright becoming one of the early victims. 

Subsequently, A/NZ managing director for enterprise Colin Hu told ARN that Huawei would be refocusing its priorities on the Wi-Fi 6 market, describing it as having a value of A$800 million. 

However, two months later, Hu exited the company as Theodore Shao was promoted to the new head of the enterprise business group (EBG).

(Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Stephen Coates. With ARN Staff)