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DJI added to U.S. trade blacklist. Will drone sales be grounded?

The U.S. continues to ramp up its trade war with China, and the latest addition to its trade blacklist is the Chinese drone manufacturer DJI. The company claims customers will continue to be able to buy its products, but the long-term implications of the trade blacklist remain to be seen. If you’ve been waiting to pull the trigger on buying a drone, you might want to act now.

DJI has been added to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Entity List, a list of foreign companies with which U.S. companies are forbidden from doing business unless they have a special license. This is the same list that Huawei has been on since July 2019, which makes it impossible for Huawei to use Google software like Android on its phones. The addition of DJI to the list means companies in the U.S. cannot supply components or parts to DJI, which could affect the company’s business in the States.

DJI has been added to this list along with dozens of other Chinese companies and also some companies from other countries, according to the New York Times. The primary reason given for the addition of companies to the list was national security concerns, as the U.S. government has previously expressed concerns that Chinese companies making hardware and apps for sale in the U.S. could be pressured to hand over data about U.S. users by the Chinese government, as was the case with the stalled attempt to ban the popular app TikTok.

Another reason given by the New York Times for the U.S. government adding DJI specifically to the Entity List was the alleged use of drone technology to enable human rights abuses in China such as using drones to spy on ethnic minorities.

Being added to the Entity List could have serious implications for DJI’s ability to sell its drones to other businesses. However, individual consumers in the U.S. will still be able to purchase its drones as before.

“DJI is disappointed in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s decision,” the company said in a statement given to The Verge. “Customers in America can continue to buy and use DJI products normally. DJI remains committed to developing the industry’s most innovative products that define our company and benefit the world.”

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Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
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