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DWF comments on the antitrust implications of the US ban on Huawei

30 May 2019

Christian Peeters, competition law partner at global law firm DWF, looks at the US administration's ban on Huawei from an antitrust perspective and highlights how Google's and other companies' compliance with the executive order has knock-on effects on competitive smartphone markets in the EU and on EU consumers.

Christian Peeters said: "Google's ban on Huawei and the precedent it has set for other companies, it set to affect competition in Europe and European consumers much more than in the United States where Huawei has not managed to establish a position of more than a single-digit share on the market for mobile devices. By contrast, in Europe, Huawei is a serious contender accounting for around 20% of the market. Any measure limiting Huawei's ability to effectively compete in Europe threatens to result in a material reduction of the competitive constraint that other device manufacturers experience.

"While the existence of a competitive relationship is not required to establish a market power abuse, it is a relevant factor to be taken into account when the conduct in question is targeting a direct competitor – such as in the case of Google and Huawei who are both active in the manufacture of mobile devices and the development of mobile operating systems. Yet, the harm potentially resulting from the ban is not limited to the rather abstract concept of effective competition. Large numbers of European consumers might find themselves in a situation where the expensive smartphone they recently purchased loses key functionalities or cannot be kept up-to-date and safe to use.

"It will be interesting to see how the European Commission translates this, considering that they have already shown a keen interest in investigating concerns about alleged abuse of market power."

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