“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”
“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN , JUNE 28, 1986
There have been some major developments in the trade, Customs, patents, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.
In looking at the first posts I wrote on my blog, they were relatively short, but with the US litigation against Chinese companies in the US and the Chinese litigation against US companies growing, the Posts will grow even larger.
As mentioned before, the US China Trade War is expanding into many different areas. Trade and Customs were simply the first areas of attack.
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN PREDICTED TRADE WAR WITH CHINA
My intention was to upload this post to my blog by the end of December. Unfortunately, did not make it, but while on Christmas break I was at the Ronald Reagan Center in Santa Barbara, California.
In October 1980, I joined the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) as a staff attorney in the Office of General Counsel and later in the Chief Counsel’s office in the Commerce Department. During that entire time, Ronald Reagan was President. During that period, the ITC was also the most free trade Commission in its history as Reagan appointed Commissioner after Commissioner with strong free trade ideologies, such as Susan Liebeler, Anne Brunsdale, and Robert Cass. From my observation, Ronald Reagan was the most free trade president in my lifetime. Congress, however, does not like free traders.
While at the Santa Barbara Center, I listened to the attached speech by President Ronald Reagan on international trade and was amazed because he predicted with absolute accuracy the present state of trade relations with China. REAGAN IT SPEECH On June 28, 1986 from his California Ranch, President Reagan stated as follows:
“Now, I know that if I were to ask most of you how you like to spend your Saturdays in the summertime, sitting down for a nice, long discussion of international trade wouldn’t be at the top of the list. But believe me, none of us can or should be bored with this issue. Our nation’s economic health, your well-being and that of your family’s really is at stake.
That’s because international trade is one of those issues that politicians find an unending source of temptation. Like a 5-cent cigar or a chicken in every pot, demanding high tariffs or import restrictions is a familiar bit of flimflammery in American politics.
But cliches and demagoguery aside, the truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth. You see, trade barriers and protectionism only put off the inevitable. Sooner or later, economic reality intrudes, and industries protected by the Government face a new and unexpected form of competition. It may be a better product, a more efficient manufacturing technique, or a new foreign or domestic competitor.
By this time, of course, the protected industry is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition. And that, my friends, is when the factories shut down and the unemployment lines start.
We had an excellent example of this in our own history during the Great Depression. Most of you are too young to remember this, but not long after the stock market crash of 1929, the Congress passed something called the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Many economists believe it was one of the worst blows ever to our economy. By crippling free and fair trade with other nations, it internationalized the Depression. It also helped shut off America’s export market, eliminating many jobs here at home and driving the Depression even deeper.
Well, since World War II, the nations of the world showed they learned at least part of their lesson. They organized the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, to promote free trade. It hasn’t all been easy going, however. Sometimes foreign governments adopt unfair tariffs or quotas and subsidize their own industries or take other actions that give firms an unfair competitive edge over our own businesses. On those occasions, it’s been very important for the United States to respond effectively, and our administration hasn’t hesitated to act quickly and decisively.
And in September, with more GATT talks coining up once again, it’s going to be very important for the United States to make clear our commitment that unfair foreign competition cannot be allowed to put American workers in businesses at an unfair disadvantage. But I think you all know the inherent danger here. A foreign government raises an unfair barrier; the United States Government is forced to respond. Then the foreign government retaliates; then we respond, and so on. The pattern is exactly the one you see in those pie fights in the old Hollywood comedies: Everything and everybody just gets messier and messier. The difference here is that it’s not funny. It’s tragic. Protectionism becomes destructionism; it costs jobs.”
Several thoughts come to mind when reading this speech. When President Reagan speaks of a “protected industry” that “is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition”, think the US Steel Industry, which has had antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place against steel imports for more than 40 years. Is Bethlehem Steel alive today? No, the orders did not work.
Second, President Reagan mentions the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act. The real name of that law is the Tariff Act of 1930, and where are the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws to be found—The Tariff Act of 1930. Yes, many parts of the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act are alive today.
Finally President Reagan truly predicted the Trade War with China, including the Chinese reaction to the Solar Cells antidumping and countervailing duty cases and the other trade cases against China. The Solar Cells cases against China has led to the Polysilicon antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the US, wiping out $2 billion in US exports to China. The Section 421 Tires case described below led to Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty cases against automobiles and chicken from the US.
The Trade War with China truly has become a pie fight in the old Hollywood comedies– “Everything and everybody just gets messier and messier,” but the sad part is that it costs jobs.
SOLAR CELLS—NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE TO CLOSE THIRD COUNTRY LOOPHOLE AND AGAINST CHINA AND TAIWAN
On December 31, 2013, Solar World filed another antidumping and countervailing duty petition to close the third country loophole against China and Taiwan with alleged antidumping rates of 298%.
The antidumping and countervailing duty petition covers crystalline silicon photovoltaic products, including solar cells, modules and panels, from China and Taiwan. The specific products covered by the new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations are:
“The merchandise covered by this investigation is crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, and modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including building integrated materials. For purposes of this investigation, subject merchandise also includes modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells completed or partially manufactured within a customs territory other than that subject country, using ingots, wafers, or partially manufactured cells sourced from the subject country. . . .”
“Also excluded from the scope of this investigation are any products covered by the existing antidumping and countervailing duty orders on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules, from the People’s Republic of China- case numbers A-570-979 and C-570-980.”
Attached is a copy of the injury petition. AD CVD CASE SOLAR WORLD TAIWAN AND CHINA
If Chinese companies are exporting and US importers are importing Chinese modules and panels with Taiwan or other solar cells in them, this option will be closed in 150 to 210 days. Chinese companies also must be prepared to submit separate rate applications in this new antidumping case to get the average rate.
On January 3, 2014, the US International Trade Commission issued the attached notice regarding the preliminary injury investigation in the new Solar Cells, Modules and Panels case against China and Taiwan. USITC Solar Panels PRELIMNARY NOTICE The ITC’s preliminary conference is scheduled for January 21st in Washington DC.
If anyone is interested in participating in the case at the ITC or the Commerce Department, please feel free to contact me.
FIRST SOLAR CELLS CASE–REVIEW REQUESTS
In the first Solar Cells case, the first annual review investigations have just started up, which will determine the actual liability of US importers for antidumping and countervailing duties on their imports. On December 31, 2013, Solar World and the other US solar cell producers filed the attached letters requesting that the Chinese companies named in the letters be included in the review investigations. AD SolarWorld Review Request-12-31-13 SolarWorld CVD Review Request-12-31-13
If you are a Chinese producer/exporter and you are named in the letter, you must partcipate in the review investigation or you will lose your 24% antidumping rate and your new rate will be 250%. If you are an importer of solar cells during the specific review periods and your Chinese suppliers are named in these letters, you must make sure that they participate in the review investigations. If your suppliers do not participate, the antidumping rate will go from 24% to 250% and you the importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.
TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—BALI/DOHA ROUND AND TPP
In the trade world, the most important developments may be the WTO negotiations in Bali and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Both negotiations could have a major impact on China trade.
Attached is an article that I have written together with a Canadian trade and customs lawyer about the impact of the TPP from both the US and Canadian point of view.FINAL ARTICLE TPP US CHINA
From China’s point of view, the WTO negotiations in the Doha Round are extremely important. The only way that China can deter many trade actions is to work within the multilateral framework to reduce trade barriers to Chinese products.
Multilateral WTO negotiations are even more important for China because of the ongoing TPP negotiations, which at this moment do not include China. As indicated in my attached article on the TPP, the US and other countries see the TPP negotiations as one way to offset China’s rise in the trade area.
But multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations are by their nature a give and take. All countries in the negotiations have to be willing to reduce some of their own trade barriers to persuade other countries to lower their trade barriers. No country wins or loses on all issues. By their nature, trade negotiations involve tradeoffs.
So the WTO and TPP trade negotiations are going to be of continued interest to Chinese companies and US importers.
As mentioned in a past post, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) pointed to the coming World Trade Organization (“WTO”) multilateral negotiations in Bali on trade facilitation measures, which would streamline customs procedures, as being very important as well as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 other Pacific Rim countries, which were “posed to close”.
On November 27, 2013, however, there were reports that the WTO multilateral negotiations in Bali had broken down, in part over the Trade Facilitation report. But those statements were premature.
On December 6, 2013, WTO members announced that a Trade Facilitation Agreement had been struck by the member countries. This would be the first WTO-wide agreement in the organization’s nearly two decade history. Round-the-clock negotiations at the conference led to the so-called Bali package -the first membership-wide agreement since the WTO was created in 1995. The Bali Package includes measures on trade facilitation, intended to streamline customs and other procedures that affect the shipment of goods across borders, as well as provisions on agriculture and economic development.
“For the first time in our history: the WTO has truly delivered.” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a December 5th statement. “I challenged you all, here in Bali, to show the political will we needed to take us across the finish line. You did that. And I thank you for it.”
The WTO was able to overcome objections from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua because it did not address a U.S. embargo against Cuba, which has been in place for more than 50 years, and other trade embargoes. The agreement was to add an additional sentence in Bali deal’s text that upheld the “principle of non-discrimination in goods in transit.”
India also raised concerns over part of the package’s agriculture section that dealt with agricultural subsidy programs that some developing countries offer to promote “food security” and combat hunger.
Those concerns, however, appeared to have been largely addressed in the draft text circulated December 3rd, which contained an interim agreement, under which WTO members would refrain from lodging disputes against developing countries that stockpile crops as part of a food security program, as long as the subsidies do not distort trade.
The Peterson Institute for International Economics said an ambitious agreement on trade facilitation could add $960 billion to the world economy. But the symbolism is more important. The Bali Agreement is very important for both developed and developing countries. Many of the FTA agreements, such as the ongoing TPP agreements, could hurt the developing countries the most. The movement of both the TPP and the Trans- Atlantic Agreement puts more pressure on the WTO countries to reach a deal.
The importance of the Bali Agreement is that it means the WTO can still be an effective forum for truly multilateral trade negotiations. If no deal had been reached in Bali, this could have led to the collapse of the WTO as a multilateral forum to negotiate reductions of trade barriers.
In a speech in Bali, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo stated, “What’s at stake is the cause of multilateralism itself”
TPP NEGOTIATIONS RUN INTO HEADWINDS
The USTR and US government officials were predicting that the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) negotiations would conclude at the end of the year with an Agreement. That was simply too optimistic. Secret negotiations are going to generate controversey.
On December 10th, the Trade Ministers for the 12 countries negotiating the TPP announced in Singapore “substantial progress” in the talks, but there would be no deal by the end of the year. In a joint statement, the Ministers indicated that they had engaged in productive discussions, identifying potential solutions to a number of outstanding obstacles, but more meetings would be held in 2014.
Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee of U.S. House of Representatives, indicated that critical work lay ahead, especially the continued closure of Japan’s market to U.S. cars and agricultural products, the implementation of enforceable labor and environmental rules, and strict rules on currency manipulation and state-owned enterprises.
South Korea has indicated interest in the talks, but it is unlikely that any other country would join the agreement while the talks are still ongoing. Presently, the TPP negotiations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.
The two most important countries for the US, however, are Japan and possibly Vietnam. Japan is important because of decades long problems involving automobiles and agriculture products, and Vietnam because as a non-market economy Communist country, it could be a forerunner to China.
On December 10th Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) stated that there had been significant progress in the Singapore Round and countries will continue their work in January.
“The headway achieved so far on TPP is positive, but more work remains. There are longstanding issues that need to be resolved, like access for U.S. automakers and farmers, and we should take the time to get this agreement right. I look forward to consulting with Ambassador Froman when he returns on the next steps. Concluding these negotiations, as well as other trade agreements, will require Congressional passage of Trade Promotion Authority legislation. Given the considerable bipartisan and bicameral progress that has been made on that front, I expect we will be in a position to do so early next year if we have the Administration’s active participation.”
In addition, Congressional leaders announced that they had come to agreement on providing the Administration Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority.
But the TPP then ran into headwinds.
On December 19, 2013, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, American Soybean Association, International Dairy Foods Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Association, U.S. Dairy Export Council, U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Wheat Associates, USA Rice Federation announced that they would oppose the TPP if a final version did not require Japan to eliminate tariffs on virtually all US agricultural exports.
In the attached letter AG LETTER TO USTR to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the seventeen agriculture industry groups stated:
“Dear Mr. Ambassador:
We are writing to express our concern with the state of play of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Each of our organizations has expressed in the past strong support for a comprehensive, high-standard TPP agreement. However, we have watched with growing alarm the unwillingness of Japanese negotiators to present a comprehensive offer on agricultural products, and we now believe this situation is threatening to undermine the negotiations.
In previous negotiations, the United States has demanded and received from developing country trading partners full and comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector. Yet in the TPP negotiations, Japan – a rich, developed country – is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector. We consider an agreement that includes such special treatment for Japan to be unacceptable.
If Japan is allowed to claim exceptions for sensitive products, other TPP partners will inevitably demand the right to do the same. This could quickly lead to the unraveling of the agreement, as other parties pull their offers on sensitive products, or their concessions on sensitive issues, off the table.
However, even if it were possible to prevent the agreement among current parties from unraveling, granting exceptions to Japan, or any other party, would have far-reaching consequences. As the TPP expands to include other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, we can expect other countries with sensitivities in the agricultural sector, such as China, to make similar demands. Moreover, a weak agreement with Japan would inevitably have significant negative implications for our ability to reach an acceptable agreement with the EU in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.
U.S. agriculture has always supported trade agreements and Trade Promotion Authority as the most effective means of eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers and expanding global trade. However, the market access package you negotiate with Japan has the potential to impact billions in future exports and hundreds of thousands of jobs.
In conclusion, TPP must include comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector by all participating countries. If Japan continues to insist on unreasonable protections to a range of agricultural categories, we ask you to consider concluding TPP without Japan. It will ultimately be difficult for our organizations to support a TPP agreement with Japan that does not include comprehensive trade liberalization for all agricultural sectors.”
This is an extremely important development because US agriculture is the primary force pushing for Free Trade Agreements. If the farmers do not support the TPP, there will be no agreement.
On December 9th, The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (“IAM”), which represents around 700,000 current and former industrial workers, announced that the TPP would be a job killer, leading to a massive loss of American jobs. The IAM argued that past trade deals did not create jobs and has lead to a “death sentence” for American workers.
The IAM stated that it is strongly opposed to the revival of “fast-track” authorities that expired in 2007 and “If TPP is implemented, U.S. manufacturing may well find itself on the endangered species list.”
DRUGS AND IP
On December 11, 2013, potential provisions in the TPP on drug patent protections and the length of copyright terms came under fire with Democratic lawmakers, library associations and consumer groups voicing concern over proposals that are currently on the table.
Several Democratic Congressmen urged USTR to reconsider its reported proposals for handling pharmaceutical patents in the TPP. CONG LETTER A number of libraries, digital rights and consumer groups argued against a copyright protection for a term of 70 years after the creator of a particular work dies.
Representative Henry Waxman, D-Calif and Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah sent separate letters arguing for and against the proposal of a 12-year market exclusivity period for biologics – drugs developed through biologic processes that can be used to treat diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. Waxman argues for 7 years and Hatch is arguing for 12 years.
As Representative Waxman states in the attached letter Waxman TPP Drug IP Letter:
“The United States only recently established its biosimilars pathway when it enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (Pub. L. No. 111-148) and the consequences of PPACA’s mandated twelve years of biologics exclusivity are not yet known.
Proposing twelve years of exclusivity in the context of TPP negotiations would conflict with stated Administration policy, as reflected in President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposal, recommending that the exclusivity period for biologics be reduced to seven years. Were the TPP ultimately to contain a twelve year biologics exclusivity provision, it would impede the ability of Congress to achieve the President’s proposed seven year change because doing so would run afoul of U.S. trade obligations.
As we have discussed before, it is also critical that USTR ensure that developing countries are not left behind in this agreement. The United States must ensure that the TPP does not result in generic medicines becoming available in TPP developing countries later than in the United States. In addition, the patent flexibilities available to developing nations in the Doha Declaration on Public Health should not be denied or weakened in the agreement.”
SECTION 421 SPECIAL SAFEGUARD PROVISION AGAINST CHINA EXPIRED ON DECEMBER 11, 2013
On December 11, 2013, Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974, a special safeguard law against China, expired as a result of provisions in the US China WTO Agreement. The safeguard allowed the President to impose higher tariffs and other trade relief if the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) determined that increased imports from China caused or threatened material injury to a US industry.
Although there were several affirmative ITC Section 421 determinations during the Bush Administration, President Bush refused to provide relief. The provision resulted in trade restrictions only once, when President Obama approved an ITC determination that the importation of Chinese rubber tires was injuring U.S. tire manufacturers.
Many US tire producers, however, were opposed to the Section 421 case, but the Unions were very much in favor of the relief, which President Obama issued to counter criticism in an election year that he was not tough enough on China.
President Obama’s decision to impose relief in the Tires case, however, resulted in the Chinese government bringing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the United States on automobiles and chicken. The Chicken AD and CVD orders in China continue to block approximately $1 billion in the US exports of chicken to China.
On December 12, 2013, in another surprising decision, the ITC in 6-0 unanimous determination reached a negative injury determination in the antidumping case on silica bricks from China. ITC NEGATIVE SILICA BRICKS The ITC negative determination followed a Commerce Department affirmative determination issuing Chinese companies antidumping rates ranging from 63.81 to 73.1% on imports of silica bricks.
JANUARY REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS
On January 2, 2014, the Commerce Department issued its monthly notice stating that Chinese companies and US importers that want review investigations in the following investigations should file such a request by the end of the month. The specific antidumping and countervailing duty investigations at issue are:
On THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA:
Crepe Paper Products, A-570-895……………… 1/1/13-12/31/13
Ferrovanadium, A-570-873……………………. 1/1/13-12/31/13
Folding Gift Boxes, A-570-866……………….. 1/1/13-12/31/13
Potassium Permanganate, A-570-001……………….. 1/1/13-12/31/13
Wooden Bedroom Furniture, A-570-890……………… 1/1/13-12/31/13
Countervailing Duty Proceedings
THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA:
Certain Oil Country Tubular Goods, C-570-944….. 1/1/13-12/31/13
Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, C- 1/1/13-12/31/13
On December 5th, the Washington State Government reported that on December 3 the Chinese government announced that it was banning all imports of molluscan shellfish from North America area #67, which includes all harvest areas in Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, and northern California. WASHINGTON SHELLFISH ANNOUNCE
China reported a shipment of geoducks tested high in paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) and arsenic.
The Washington Government has stated that it is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and its state partners gathering facts, tracing the geoducks to the original harvest area, and closely reviewing its PSP test data.
On December 20th, Washington State and tribal officials closed a 135-acre geoduck-harvesting area outside Federal Way Washington until they could fully investigate the toxicity levels that caused China to ban shellfish imported from the West Coast.
Washington State officials learned that arsenic was the toxin Chinese authorities detected in a shipment of geoduck clams to China from Washington’s Poverty Bay.
That shipment, along with one from Ketchikan, Alaska, led China on Dec. 3 to ban all imports of shellfish harvested in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California.
The Washington Department of Health traced the shipment back to 385 pounds of geoduck harvested in October by the Puyallup Tribe in Poverty Bay on what the Department of Natural Resources calls the Redondo Tract.
“There are no federal safety standards at all for arsenic in shellfish because it is not something that is typically an issue,” said Tim Church, the health department’s director of communications. “With the tests that we’ve done in the past, we’ve never found levels of arsenic that would be a concern for eating shellfish.”
China has not said when it will lift the ban on West Coast shellfish.
The Chinese government’s decision to ban all shellfish harvested from Northern California to Alaska would appear to be excessive, but that decision must be taken in context.
Because of US antidumping laws, all Chinese imports of honey, garlic, mushrooms, crawfish and shrimp have been greatly curtailed. Some of the antidumping orders against Chinese agricultural products have been in place for more than 10 to 20 years.
In addition, the US government has been particularly tough on imports of Chinese honey, mushrooms, garlic and other agricultural products because of pesticide contamination, banning all imports of certain products during specific periods of time.
With the US government so tough on imports of agricultural and seafood products from China, US exporters of agricultural and seafood products should expect the Chinese government to be just as tough on US exports to China.
Trade is a two way street and what goes around comes around.
CHINESE TEXTILE MANUFACTURER MOVES TO—SOUTH CAROLINA
In a bright spot, it has been reported that a Chinese yarn maker has decided it can make more money setting up shop in the US in South Carolina. Keer Group Co., a yarn spinning factory in Hangzhou, China, has moved to South Carolina.
A number of Asian textile manufacturers have decided to set up production in the U.S. to save money as salaries, energy and other costs rise at home. Keer has invested $218 million to build a factory in Lancaster County, not far from Charlotte, N.C. The new plant will pay half as much as Mr. Zhu does for electricity in China and get local government support, he says. Keer expects to create at least 500 jobs.
In another benefit, Keer can ship yarn to manufacturers in Central America, which, unlike companies in China, can send finished clothes duty-free to the U.S.
In September, JN Fibers Inc. of China agreed to build a $45 million plant in South Carolina that turns plastic bottles into polyester fibers used to stuff pillows and furniture. That investment is expected to create 318 jobs.
Keer stated costs for industrial land in Hangzhou have increased because China’s textile industry is plagued by overcapacity, which has squeezed profits, and local governments are reluctant to sell land to producers.
The local government in South Carolina, which has 8.1% unemployment, has set an annual fixed fee in lieu of taxes that Keer will pay for 30 years. Sixty percent of that annual fee will be returned to the company each year until it has paid off a $7.7 million bond that the county issued to help buy the land.
MAKING OF A T-SHIRT
The reality of interdependence in our Trade World is illustrated by the attached video from the Colbert Report, which traces the production of a T-shirt sold in the United States from the cotton produced in the US to cloth produced in Indonesia to the T-shirt produced in Bangledesh. http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/431141/december-10-2013/alex-blumberg
IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION
As mentioned in prior newsletters, we are working with APCO, a well-known lobbying/government relations firm in Washington DC, on establishing a US importers/end users lobbying coalition to lobby against the expansion of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws against China.
On September 18, 2013, ten US Importers agreed to form the Import Alliance for America. The objective of the Coalition will be to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.
We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries. We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.
We are now contacting many US importers and also Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they are interested in participating in the Alliance. Changes to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law against China can only happen because of a push by US importers and end user companies. In US politics, only squeaky wheels get the grease.
CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE
In response to a WTO determination, on December 27, 2013, MOFCOM announced that it would reinvestigate the antidumping and countervailing duties on chicken from the US, specifically against white-feather broiler chicken products from the U.S.
INSURANCE COMPANY LIABLE FOR NEW SHIPPER ANTIDUMPING DUTIES IN CRAWFISH CASE
In an antidumping new shipper review investigation on Crawfish from China, a US importer, New Phoenix, posted eight single-transaction bonds issued by Great American to cover seven entries of crawfish tailmeat, with a value of $1,219,458 for each bond or a total of $6,097,290 in liability. When the importer could not pay, the US Customs Service sued the insurance company for the amount of the bonds plus interest.
In attached decision, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit orders Great American to pay the $6 million plus postjudgment interest. INSURANCE COMPANIES OWE AD DUTIES
On December 19, 2013, the US Justice Department announced that Zhifei Li, the owner of an antique business in China, had pled guilty to being the organizer of an illegal wildlife smuggling conspiracy in which 30 rhinoceros horns and numerous objects made from rhino horn and elephant ivory worth more than $4.5 million were smuggled from the United States to China. See attached Justice Department notice. RHINO HORN
Li was arrested in Florida in January 2013 on federal charges brought under seal in New Jersey. Shortly after arriving in the country, he pled guilty to a total of 11 counts: one count of conspiracy to smuggle and violate the Lacey Act; seven counts of smuggling; one count of illegal wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act; and two counts of making false wildlife documents.
Li was arrested as part of “Operation Crash” – a nationwide effort led by the USFWS and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.
Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division stated:
The take-down of the Li smuggling ring is an important development in our effort to enforce wildlife protection laws. Rhino horn can sell for more than gold and is just as rare, but rhino horn and elephant ivory are more than mere commodities. Each illegally traded horn or tusk represents a dead animal, poaching, bribery, smuggling and organized crime. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the law designed to protect wildlife. This is a continuing investigation.
In pleading guilty, Li admitted that he sold 30 smuggled, raw rhinoceros horns worth approximately $3 million –approximately $17,500 per pound – to factories in China where raw rhinoceros horns are carved into fake antiques known as Zuo Jiu (which means “to make it as old” in Mandarin). In China, there is a centuries-old tradition of drinking from an intricately carved “libation cup” made from a rhinoceros horn. Owning or drinking from such a cup is believed by some to bring good health, and true antiques are highly prized by collectors. The escalating value of such items has resulted in an increased demand for rhinoceros horn that has helped fuel a thriving black market, including recently carved fake antiques.
PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES
NO 337 VIOLATION IF IMPORTED PRODUCT ON ENTRY DOES NOT INFRINGE THE PATENT
On December 13, 2013, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in the attached Suprema, Inc. and Mentalix Inc. vs. ITC held that an exclusion order based on a violation of § 337(a)(1)(B)(i) may not be predicated on a theory of induced infringement where no direct infringement occurs until post-importation. CAFC Slip Opinion 12-1170 SUPREMA INC – CROSS MATCH v ITC
The patents at issue concern fingerprint machines. The Suprema fingerprint machines had multiple uses, but after the fingerprint machines were imported into the United States, software from Mentalix was applied to the Suprema fingerprint machines, resulting in infringement of patents held by a US company. The ITC found that Suprema and Mentalix had violated section 337 based on an induced infringement theory and issued an exclusion order.
The CAFC determined not so fast. Section 337 is also a trade statute, and the Commission’s authority in section 337 cases is based on its jurisdiction over the imported products. According to the CAFC, however, the imported products have to infringe the patent at the time the products are imported into the US, especially where the imported product has multiple uses and the only infringing use happens after the product is imported into the US.
As the CAFC stated in its opinion:
“The Commission’s mandate to deal with matters of patent infringement under § 337(a)(1)(B)(i) is thus premised on the “importation,” “sale for importation,” or “sale within the United States after importation” of “articles that . . . infringe.” . . . Thus, the Commission’s authority extends to “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable United States patent.” The focus is on the infringing nature of the articles at the time of importation, not on the intent of the parties with respect to the imported goods. . . .
Given the nature of the conduct proscribed in § 271(b) and the nature of the authority granted to the Commission in § 337, we hold that the statutory grant of authority in § 337 cannot extend to the conduct proscribed in § 271(b) where the acts of underlying direct infringement occur post-importation. Section 337(a)(1)(B)(i) grants the Commission authority to deal with the “importation,” “sale for importation,” or “sale within the United States after importation” of “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable U.S patent.” The patent laws essentially define articles that infringe in § 271(a) and (c), and those provisions’ standards for infringement (aside from the “United States” requirements, of course) must be met at or before importation in order for the articles to be infringing when imported. Section 271(b) makes unlawful certain conduct (inducing infringement) that becomes tied to an article only through the underlying direct infringement. Prior to the commission of any direct infringement, for purposes of inducement of infringement, there are no “articles that . . . infringe”—a prerequisite to the Commission’s exercise of authority based on § 337(a)(1)(B)(i).
Consequently, we hold that the Commission lacked the authority to enter an exclusion order directed to Suprema’s scanners premised on Suprema’s purported induced infringement of the method claimed in the ’344 patent.”
The key point is that section 337 is not just an intellectual property statute; it is also a trade statute. Section 337, just like the antidumping and countervailing duty law, regulates imports, and thus the CAFC is stating that since 337 is a trade statute, the product must be infringing at the time of importation. If the infringement happens after importation, that can be a real problem for the US patent holder in a 337 case.
337 CASE RESULTS IN ANTITRUST RETALIATION IN CHINA
As indicated below, Interdigital has filed a section 337 case against Huawei. Huawei retaliated by filing an antitrust case in China under Chinese law. The Chinese government’s antitrust authority, NDRC, is now threatening jail time to Interdigital executives.
What is worse is that on December 20th, in the attached decision the ITC rejected Interdigital’s complaint and found no violation of section 337 so Interdigital lost the section 337 case, but is stuck with a Chinese antitrust case. ITC NOTICE INTERDIGITAL Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew.
NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES
On December 11, 2013, Tyco filed a new 337 case against imports of certain surveillance systems. One of the respondents is Ningbo Signatronic Technologies, Ltd., China.
The ITC notice is set forth below:
Docket No: 2990
Document Type: 337 Complaint
Filed By: Brian R. Nester, Sidley Austin LLP
Behalf Of: Tyco Fire & Security Gmbh (TFSG), Sensormatic Electronic, LLC
(Sensormatic) and Tyco Integrated Security, LLC (TIS)
Date Received: December 11, 2013
Commodity: Acousto-Magnetic Electronic Article Surveillance Systems
Description: Letter to James R. Holbein, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Acousto-Magnetic Electronic Article Surveillance Systems, Components Thereof, and Products containing same. The proposed respondents are: Ningbo Signatronic Technologies, Ltd., China; All-Tag Security Americas, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida; All-Tag Security Hong Kong Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; All-Tag Europe SPRL; Brussels; All-Tag Security UK Ltd., United Kingdom; Best Security Industries, Delray Beach, FL; and Signatronic Corporation, Boca Raton, FL.
On December 18th, Pragmatus filed a section 337 case against ZTE on Wireless Devices. The notice is below:
Docket No: 2992
Document Type:337 Complaint
Filed By:Anthony Grillo
Firm/Org:Marino and Grillo LLC
Behalf Of:Pragmatus Mobile, LLC
Date Received:December 18, 2013
Commodity:Wireless Devices, including Mobile Phones and Tablets II
Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Acting Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Wireless Devices, Including Mobile Phones and Tablets II. The proposed respondents are Nokia Corporation (Nokia Oyj), Finland; Nokia, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA; Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, Korea; Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Ridgefield Park, NJ; Samsung Telecommunications America, L.L.C., richardson, TX; Sony Corporation, Tokyo; Sony Mobile Communications AB, Sweden; Sony Mobile Communications (USA), Inc., Atlanta, GA; ZTE Corporation, China; and ZTE (USA) Inc., Richardson TX.
NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI, ZTE, AND OTHER COMPANIES
On December 2, 2013, Chanel filed a major trademark suit against a number of John Doe Unknown companies that were infringing its trademarks. CHANEL TMK CHINA In the Complaint Chanel states:
“Defendants are partnerships or unincorporated business associations, which operate through domain names registered with registrars in multiple countries, commercial internet e-stores via the third party marketplace website C2Coffer.com, and commercial Internet auction store via the third party marketplace website iOffer.com, and are comprised of individuals and/or business entities of unknown makeup, all of whom, upon information and belief, reside in the People’s Republic of China or other foreign jurisdictions with lax trademark enforcement systems.”
On December 11, 2013, in addition to the 337 case Tyco sued Ningbo for patent infringement in Federal District court. NINGBO PATENT
On December 12, 2013, US company Harmonic Drive LLC filed a trademark case against NAC Harmonic Drive, Inc., Harmonic Drive Canada and Beijing CTKM Harmonic Drive Co. HARMONIC DRIVE
On December 18, 2013 Content Guard Holdings, Inc., filed a patent case against Huawei Device USA and other companies. CONTENT GUARD HUAWEI
On December 17, 2013, Microsoft sued Sichuan Changhong Electric Co., Ltd. for software piracy. MICROSOFT STOLEN SOFTWARE
VITAMIN C CASE
As mentioned, the Vitamin C case is wrapping up at the District Court level. Attached is the final judgment with a $153 million judgment against by Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Hebei”) and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. (“NCPGC”) for price fixing. VITAMIN C FINAL JUDGMENT
On December 30, 2013, the Judge amended the order to add an additional $4,093,163.35 to pay the legal fees of the lawyers bringing the case against the Chinese companies. See the attached documents. ATTORNEYS FEES VITAMIN C FINAL AMENDED JUDGMENT VITAMIN C CASE
Hebei Welcome has announced that it is appealing the Court’s final judgment.
Boies Schiller, the Plaintiffs’ lawyer, also announced on December 11th that it was paying associate bonuses that were as high as $300,000, with the average distribution across the litigation firm’s 133 associates at $85,000.
It pays to sue Chinese companies.
CHINA ANTITRUST CASES
As mentioned in the last post, Qualcomm, a US mobile chip maker, announced that it is the target of an antitrust investigation led by the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), China’s top economic planning body and antitrust authority. Also Cisco announced that Chinese companies are reducing their purchases of Cisco equipment in response to the N.S.A. disclosures and the recent US Congressional activity aimed at curtailing purchases of equipment from Huawei and other Chinese companies.
There are three Chinese government entities entrusted with investigating and enforcing the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law, which was passed in 2007: the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the Ministry of Commerce, and the NDRC. The fact that the antitrust investigation is coming from the NDRC, which is in charge of price supervision and inspection, suggests that the government’s objective is to make 4G service more affordable before its introduction next year.
This year, the commission led an inquiry into six foreign dairy companies, including Mead Johnson Nutrition and Groupe Danone, after allegations that they broke anti-monopoly rules and fixed prices. The investigation resulted in a fine of $109 million, a record for anti-monopoly violations in China.
Now China is using antitrust cases to counterattack 337 patent cases.
INTERDIGITAL—CHINA BRINGS ANTITRUST CASES IN RESPONSE TO 337 CASE
In July 2011, Interdigital filed a section 337 patent case at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) against Huawei. In response, on December 5, 2011, Huawei filed two complaints before the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court (the Shenzhen Court) in China, alleging that, by filing the section 337 case and engaging in certain patent practices, InterDigital had (1) abused its dominant market position, contrary to the Anti-Monopoly Law of the People’s Republic of China (AML), and (2) as an owner of several Standard Essential Patents (“SEP”) for 2G, 3G and 4G telecommunications technologies, it had failed to negotiate a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory license for those patents.
On February 4, 2013, the Shenzhen Court ruled that InterDigital had abused its dominant market position and thus violated the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law by tying its standard essential patents with non-standard essential patents during licensing negotiations and seeking injunctive relief against Huawei before the US Federal Court and in the section 337 case before the US ITC while still in negotiations with Huawei to force Huawei to accept unreasonable licensing terms, including excessive royalties.
InterDigital’s requirement that Huawei pay significantly (sometimes even 100 times) higher royalty rates than those required of Apple, Samsung and other companies for the same set of patents, even while Huawei’s global sales were much less than Apple and Samsung, appeared to the Courts to be prima facie evidence of discriminatory treatment. In addition, the Courts noted that InterDigital had also required Huawei to license back all of its global patents on a royalty-free basis (as of 31 December 2010, Huawei owned 31,869 Chinese patents, 8,892 PCT international patent applications and 8,279 overseas patents). To the Court, this appeared contrary to fair or reasonable principles.
The Shenzhen Court ordered InterDigital to cease its unlawful practices and pay Huawei $3.2 million in damages.
On October 28, 2013, there were reports that that the Guangdong Higher People’s Court affirmed most of the rulings of the Shenzhen Court, including the $3.2 million award in damages.
Unfortunately, the decisions of both the Shenzhen Court and the Guangdong Higher People’s Court have not been publicly disclosed, possibly because of trade secret issues. Thus the following observations are based on media reports and an article by a Chinese attorney.
Apparently, the Chinese Court determined that the owner of a Standard Essentials Patent has a 100 per cent market share in the technology licensing market for that SEP and, therefore, a monopoly, no matter how the market is defined. If the holder of the Standard Essentials Patent tries to extract supra competitive royalties from industry participants, that is abuse of monopoly power. In addition, apparently, the Chinese courts determined that by seeking injunctive relief at the ITC under 337 against Huawei, a willing licensee, the conduct constituted an abuse of the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law.
Both the EC Competition Commission and the FTC have been concerned about the use of standard essential patents to exclude competition.
It should also be noted that the Chinese courts were also concerned that InterDigital’s principal business is patent licensing and that it does not manufacture any product. As a result, Huawei was in a weak bargaining position during licensing negotiations because cross-licensing would not be available, and InterDigital could make use of this advantage to extract more favorable contract terms from Huawei. The Shenzhen Court apparently found that InterDigital had tried to exploit this advantage, by insisting on unreasonably high royalties and requesting Huawei to license back its patents on a royalty-free basis.
There are reports that Qiu Yongqing, a senior judge at the Guangdong Higher People’s Court presiding over the case, is reported to have stated that Huawei “used antitrust law as a weapon to counterattack” monopolization by multinationals in the technology sector, and that other Chinese companies should learn from Huawei.
On December 16, 2013, the dispute between Interdigital and Huawei escalated. In a letter to the NDRC, Interdigital’s CEO announced that it would not send executives to a December 18th meeting with Chinese authorities over China’s monopoly investigation due to threats of possible imprisonment of Interdigital executives, which allegedly included U.S. counsel accompanying the firm to the meeting.
In a statement, CEO William Merritt said:
“To this date, we have cooperated fully with the NDRC’s investigation of our company, and continue to believe that we have done absolutely nothing wrong . . . However, we are simply unable to comply with any investigation that is accompanied by a threat to the safety of our executives.”
Interdigital’s letter indicated also that the NDRC had informed it that its probe was sparked by InterDigital’s suit in the U.S. International Trade Commission against Chinese firms.
Meanwhile, there are reports out of China that the NDRC will recruit at least 170 new employees for the antitrust law enforcement team to battle price fixing. The NDRC said its antitrust probes focus on six industries – aerospace, daily chemicals, automobiles, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and home appliances.
Thus if a US Company brings a 337 IP case at the ITC against Chinese companies, it should be prepared for a possible antitrust case in China.
What goes around, comes around.
Attached is a description of Dorsey’s litigation team to handle for Chinese companies US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Class Actions Securities cases. DORSEY SECURITIES LITIGATION TEAM
CHINESE AUDIT DOCUMENTS TURNED OVER TO SEC
On December 13, 2013, it was reported that Chinese governmental authorities have turned over more audit documents to U.S. regulators regarding U.S.-traded Chinese companies as part of a sweeping U.S. probe of accounting fraud by Chinese companies publicly traded in the US.
Audit documents regarding at least six Chinese companies trading on U.S. exchanges now have been either turned over to U.S. regulators or are “in the pipeline” to be furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).
The fight for the audit document resulted from SEC efforts to probe a wave of accounting and disclosure problems at more than 100 U.S.-traded Chinese companies that surfaced starting in 2011. U.S. investors lost billions of dollars when the companies’ stocks plunged once the problems were disclosed. The SEC has filed more than a dozen lawsuits against some of these Chinese companies and their executives and has won settlements in some cases.
But the investigations have been impeded because China-based audit firms, including Chinese affiliates of the Big Four, have refused to hand over audit documents to the SEC out of fear that providing the documents would violate China’s strict state-secrecy rules, which could land their auditors in jail.
Ultimately, that dispute led to the agreement earlier this year, which addressed the audit firms’ concerns by having them give the documents to Chinese regulators, who then would provide them to the U.S.
SERVING CHINESE COMPANIES IN SECURITIES AND OTHER US LITIGATION BY J. JACKSON, DORSEY LITIGATION PARTNER
SERVICE ISSUES IN US LITIGATION AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES
J. Jackson, Partner and Chairman of Dorsey’s China Litigation Practice
Attached is a copy of the opinion in Bravetti v. Liu (D.N.J. December 11, 2013), SERVICE CHINESE RESPONDENTS Bavetti v Liu which may be of interest to Chinese companies. In Bravetti, Plaintiffs proceeding derivatively on behalf of American Oriental Bioengineering, Inc. sued current and former officer and directors, each of whom is a resident of the PRC. The matter came before the Court, Magistrate Judge Bongiovanni, on Plaintiffs’ motion to allow service on the individual defendants by personally serving the U.S. counsel for the company, American Oriental. Defendants opposed the motion, arguing that the Hague Convention provides the exclusive means for service of process on PRC’s residents and that service on U.S. counsel for the company did not comport with due process. The Court rejected Defendants’ arguments and allowed service to proceed by personal service on U.S. counsel for the company.
Plaintiffs brought their motion under Rule 4(f)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides,
“(f) Serving an Individual in a Foreign Country. Unless federal law provides otherwise, an individual—other than a minor, an incompetent person, or a person whose waiver has been filed—may be served at a place not within any judicial district of the United States:
* * *
(3) by other means not prohibited by international agreement, as the court orders.”
The Court allowed the requested service using the following analysis: It began by acknowledging, “Courts may direct service when ‘the particularities and necessities of a given case require alternative service of process.’ See Rio Properties, Inc. v. Rio Int’l Interlink, 284 F.3d 1007 at 1016 (9th Cir. 2002).”
The Court further held that alternative service of process was not prohibited by the Hague Convention. The Court noted that the Hague Convention does not apply “’where the address of the person to be served is not known.’” Hague Convention, Art. 1. Here, service was difficult under the Hague Convention, because the residences of the Defendants in the PRC was not known. Further, the Court found that the Hague Convention does not apply because Plaintiff’s proposed method of service does not require the transmittal of documents abroad. Under Khachatryan v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., 578 F.Supp.2d 1224, 1228 (C.D. Cal. 2008), the Hague Convention did not apply where Khachatryan served Toyota Japan under California law in a manner which did not require the transmittal of documents abroad. Here, the proposed method to serve Loeb & Loeb in the United States does not require the transmittal of documents abroad. Thus, the Hague convention does not apply.
The Court last addressed Defendants’ Due Process argument, finding that service on the Company’s U.S. counsel is “reasonably calculated, under the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them the opportunity to present their objections.” Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank &Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 314 (1950). In finding service on the company’s counsel appropriate here, the Court relied on opinions from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, including Brown v. China Integrated Energy, Inc., 285 F.R.D. 560, 566 (C.D. Cal. 2012) (citations omitted) and Rose v. Deer Consumer Products, Inc., 2011 WL 6951969, at *2 (C.D. Cal 2011), both of which allowed service on U.S. registered agents or counsel for individuals residing in the PRC.
Bravetti’s holding should not be limited to Securities derivative litigation. Whenever a plaintiff finds itself faced with service on PRC residents who, either individually, by agency, or through direct or indirect counsel have a presence in the U.S., that plaintiff will be encouraged to proceed under Civil Procedure Rule 4(f)(3) and seek permission to allow service on their agents, their counsel, or the agents or counsel of the companies on which they serve.
Chinese companies need to keep these issues in mind when they participate in US litigation.
SEC ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS
Tom Gorman, a partner in our Washington DC office, who was originally with US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) enforcement division, was quoted in the attached article about how the SEC has increased its enforcement capability after the Bernie Madoff case. GORMAN SEC
On December 2, 2013, the attached class action securities case was filed by John Hsieh against NQ Mobile and various individuals. HSIEH NQ MOBILE
If you have any questions about these cases or about the Solar Cells case, US trade, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.