June 16, 2020 / 7:55 PM / 17 days ago

Brazil 5G tender cannot be swayed by debates over China, says house speaker

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Huawei is seen in Davos, Switzerland January 22, 2020. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann

BRASILIA (Reuters) - A fifth-generation (5G) telecoms tender in Brazil should not be contaminated by ideological battles with China and more competition will lead to better prices for consumers, the head of the lower house said on Tuesday.

Speaker Rodrigo Maia said Brazil’s telecoms regulator Anatel should run the auction and that the supposedly economically liberal government of President Jair Bolsonaro should focus on free and fair competition. He added that ideological debates could interfere in Brazil’s other sectors, such as agribusiness.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration has urged governments worldwide, including Brazil, to shun the world’s largest telecoms equipment maker, China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd [HWT.UL], because of spying concerns but few have heeded those warnings so far. Huawei, a leader in setting 5G standards, has consolidated its presence in Brazil over the last 20 years.

Originally scheduled for March, Brazil’s 5G auction has been pushed back and no new date has been set.

Last week, U.S. ambassador for Brazil Todd Chapman told Brazilian newspaper Folha de S.Paulo that the United States is in talks with Brazil and its telecommunications companies on funding the acquisition of 5G produced by Swedish company Ericsson and Finland’s Nokia.

Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, was a longtime China skeptic before assuming a far less abrasive attitude toward the world’s No. 2 economy when he took office in 2019.

Reporting by Gabriel Stargardter; editing by Grant McCool

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