FedEx Sues Trump Administration Over Huawei Shipping Fiasco

If you are planning to defy the U.S. ban on Huawei and get a P30 Pro phone shipped from another country, good luck. Unless FedEx is able to beat the Trump administration Huawei import ban in court, you won’t be able to.

Credit: Tom's Guide

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

CNN reports that the international shipping giant is suing the US Department of Commerce after American authorities forced FedEx to screw over its customers in Huawei-relegated shipments. 

In June 2, Huawei claimed that FedEx diverted packages addressed to the electronics giant’s Chinese headquarters to the United States. China’s government accused FedEx of seriously “harming the legitimate rights and interests of [Huawei], and violated Chinese laws and regulations on the express delivery sector.” The government said they would start an investigation of this matter.

Then, two days ago, Huawei denounced FedEx for failing to deliver a P30 Pro shipped from Britain to a US address

In a tweet, the company asked: “Was FedEx within its rights to prevent a P30 Pro from being delivered from the UK to the US?” The question was rhetorical, as the answer was a logical “No” for the Chinese company.

The reaction in China against FedEx has been strong, prompting public backslash that could take away business from the shipping company in the lucrative Chinese market. 

Now, the company said in a public statement that it “is a transportation company, not a law enforcement agency.” FedEx claims that the US Export Administration Regulations “violate its carrier right by making them liable for deliveries.”

FedEx vs US Department of Commerce

In the lawsuit against Trump’s Department of Commerce, the company argues that these regulations try to “deputize FedEx to police the contents of the millions of packages it ships daily even though doing so is a virtually impossible task, logistically, economically, and in many cases, legally.” They are right. FedEx can’t look into people’s packages, no matter if they contain Huawei electronics or drugs. 

That’s the role of the government, which argues that they have the right to ask for this in order to protect US national security. While FedEx or UPS can call the police if they suspect of illicit shippings and then the police can open the package without a warrant, the fact is that the carriers can’t possibly control every package that goes through its shipping centers. 

The US Postal Service has its own inspection division, which is basically its own law agency. However, neither FedEx or UPS have that — they have to rely on US law agencies to know when shippings are at fault. 

It seems that the FedEx’s lawsuit comes from the need to cover its back in case it gets sued again by the US government, like the latter did in 2014 for allegedly shipping packages full of drugs from illegal online pharmacies. But in doing that, Huawei may get an unexpected ally in its war against Trump.

Jesus Diaz

Jesus Diaz founded the new Sploid for Gawker Media after seven years working at Gizmodo, where he helmed the lost-in-a-bar iPhone 4 story and wrote old angry man rants, among other things. He's a creative director, screenwriter, and producer at The Magic Sauce, and currently writes for Fast Company and Tom's Guide.