“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986
US CHINA TRADE WAR AUGUST 28, 2015
The Chinese stock market crash and world- wide effect on stock markets around the World has created a crisis with day to day developments. The World Stock market crash stated on August 24, 2015 and went through to August 27th and 28th, when World markets recovered. This blog post follows the day to day developments during this period.
The July and early August stock market crash in China was followed by a slight devaluation of the Chinese yuan, which, in turn, created panic as many investors feared that a substantial slow-down in the Chinese market would affect economies world-wide. That in turn triggered more falls in the Chinese stock market and subsequent crashes in stock markets around the World.
The real issue now is what is the real state of the Chinese economy and how that will affect Chinese and US companies in the future.
The parallel story was the US Presidential Primary in which the main contenders as a result of the crash pounded free trade and China in particular provoking a question will the real loser in the 2016 US election be free trade? Although many US politicians may be happy that China is falling economically, the direct impact on the US stock market and other stock markets around the World indicates how the World economy is very interconnected. The more the US pounds China, the more it hurts itself.
As predicted, the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) did not conclude at the Hawaii meeting, but it continues forward. In addition, the EXIM bank has problems and there have been slight technical changes to the US antidumping and countervailing law, which were passed in the African Growth and Opportunity Act. In addition to the China and World Stock Market Crash and Trade Policy, this blog post will cover Trade, Customs, 337, including the Suprema case, IP/patent, antitrust and securities.
I will also be in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing, China from September 7 to 26, first in Hong Kong from Sept 7 to 12, Shanghai 12 to 18th and Beijing from 18th to the 26th. If anyone would like to talk to me about developments in trade and customs law, please feel free to contact me.
CHINA STOCK MARKET CRASH
CHINA STOCK MARKET CRASH—STAGE 2 WORLD MARKETS CRASH
After my last post at the end of July on the Chinese stock market crash, on August 24, 2015, despite assurances from Secretary of Treasury Jack Lew, https://grabien.com/story.php?id=32165&from=allstories, that the fall in the Chinese stock market would not affect world markets, there was a sharp fall in stock exchanges around the World as China’s stock exchange started the day off by falling another 8.5% to put the Chinese exchanges in negative territory for 2015.
On August 24th, the New York Post yelled out, “Wall Street Really Freaked Out This Morning” and went on to state:
An enormous shudder swept through Wall Street on Monday as the Dow Jones industrial average cratered more than 1,000 points, or about 6.2 percent, in early trading — before leveling off at a decline of about 450 points, or 2.7 percent, as fears of a global economic slowdown once again spooked US investors.
The plunge was a wake-up call to Main Street and Wall Street alike. . . .
The huge Dow sell-off follows an 8.5 percent decline in Asia markets. In Europe, markets were down as much a 6 percent. . . . The global market sell-off began earlier this month when China — the world’s No. 2 economy behind the US — devalued its currency twice in a bid to jumpstart its economy.
China’s GDP, which was in the mid- to upper-single digits, had slowed to the lower-single digits. “Nobody really knows for sure, from fundamental perspective, will we go into recession, will China go into recession,” Stovall said. . . .
In fact, at the end of trading on August 24th, Dow Jones lost 588 points, a drop of 3.58%. to close at 15,871.
On August 24th, the Wall Street Journal also reported:
U.S. stocks pared most of Monday’s steep losses after a rocky morning during which the Dow Jones Industrial Average briefly plummeted more than 1,000 points. . . .
The Dow industrials plunged as much as 1,089 points shortly after the open, marking the index’s largest one-day point decline ever on an intraday basis, amid a selloff that has hammered stock markets from Beijing to London to New York. . . .
Fears that China’s economy is slowing dramatically sparked the heavy selling in stocks around the globe in recent days. Beijing’s unexpected move to devalue its currency two weeks ago raised the alarm that the world’s second largest economy may be in worse shape than many had thought. Since then, weak economic data have fueled worries that a drop-off in Chinese growth could cause a global slowdown. . . .
The Wall Street Journal also stated in the August 24th edition:
Beijing’s struggles this summer have spooked many investors into viewing China as a threat to, rather than a rescuer of, global growth. During the financial crisis of 2008 and early 2009, China, with a colossal stimulus plan, acted as a shock absorber. Lately, It Is China that Is providing the shocks.
Over the past week, it has grown clear how dependent a growth-starved world is on China, which accounts for 15% of global output but has contributed up to half of global growth in recent years.
Given this dependency one reason markets have been so unnerved is that China’s economy remains something of a black box. For starters, analysts have long wondered about the accuracy of government economic statistics. And levers pulled by Chinese policy makers can be unconventional.
This is seen in Beijing’s desire to micromanage the yuan’s value, which undercuts its ability to pursue an independent monetary policy because of spillover effects on domestic liquidity.
On the same day, the Washington Post reported:
China’s ‘Black Monday’ spreads stock market fears worldwide….
Stock market jitters spread throughout Asia and the rest of the world, and Wall Street sustained a major plunge, after Chinese stocks recorded their biggest slump in eight years during what China’s state media dubbed “Black Monday.”
The collapse in Chinese stocks was fueled by mounting concerns about an economic slowdown here, but it has fed into a wider sell-off in emerging markets. . . ..
“A lot of questions are being asked by investors,” said Chris Weston, chief markets strategist at IG in Melbourne. “This is a confidence game, and when you don’t have confidence, you press the sell button.” . . ..
“Markets are panicking,” Takako Masai, head of research at Shinsei Bank in Tokyo, told the Reuters news agency. “Things are starting to look like the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s.
See also following article from Bloomberg on how the slide in the Chinese market has hit global markets– http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-08-21/these-charts-show-how-hard-china-has-hit-global-markets.
What are the lessons to be learned from the Chinese stock market drop? There are lessons for China and the United States.
The lesson for China is that accurate economic and corporate data, including economic data from village, city and Provincial governments and corporate earnings of listed companies, are incredibly important. Many countries and investors question the accuracy of the Chinese government economic statistics. In fact, one Chinese has told me that based on electricity consumption numbers, the real China growth number is 4%. Other commentators have argued that the real number is a negative number.
The problem is that the 7% economic growth number is not based on hard economic data because Chinese governments at the village, city and the provincial level play with their economic data to make themselves look good.
In addition, as stated in my last newsletter, there is no market regulator in China to protect the integrity of the Chinese stock market, as there is in the US, Europe, Hong Kong and other countries. The market regulators, such as the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), make sure that earnings and financial statements issued by listed companies, in fact, are accurate. There is no such assurance in the Chinese market.
Many experts in China have told me that I simply “do not understand the Chinese way.” If the “Chinese way” means having different sets of accounting books and providing different corporate data or economic data depending upon what the government authority wants, the problem with that Chinese way is that it deprives the Chinese government of accurate data it needs to manage its own economy. The Chinese way also encourages wild swings in the Chinese stock market as investors in China and abroad simply do not know what numbers are accurate.
The “Chinese way” of not having a governmental authority to ensure the accuracy of economic data from villages, cities and provinces and corporate data from listed companies has contributed to the sharp fall in the Chinese stock market and the loss of trillions of dollars. China is no longer a developing company. Economic decisions in China impact the rest of the World. Neither the World nor China can afford acting as if China is a developing country. As a modern advanced country, China needs to ensure the accuracy of its economic and corporate data.
For the United States, the lesson is that the World economy is very interrelated and interconnected, and what happens in China affects the US market. It is simply impossible for the US to cut or delink itself from China.
The US market cannot be isolated from China and the rest of the World. When one hits China and other foreign countries, as many politicians do, such as Donald Trump, that in turn can hurt the US. Ira Stoll who writes for the NY Sun blames the US market crash in part on Donald Trump http://www.nysun.com/national/the-trump-recession-markets-start-to-react-to/89263/. See also New York Sun Editorial on Donald Trump at http://www.nysun.com/editorials/an-economic-imbecile/89259/.
Trump reacted by stating that he was not to blame for just pointing out the problems and that the US should delink from China. See http://video.foxnews.com/v/4441195997001/trump-talks-stock-market-slide-biden-and-border-security/?intcmp=hpvid1#sp=show-clips. So that means, as described below, that the US should stop shipping its $123 billion plus in exports to China because it should delink from China. Correct?
Sometimes when you jump up and down on China, you end up hurting the United States. Always blaming China for the US economic problems may feel good and be good election politics, but it is not good economic policy. When Hank Paulson was the Secretary of Treasury under President George W. Bush, he firmly believed that the economic relationship between the US and China was the most important economic relationship in the World. US politicians should understand this important point.
For Republicans, the inconvenient truth is that President Ronald Reagan was a free trader. As President Ronald Reagan stated on June 28, 1986 in a speech from his California ranch, “Protectionism becomes destructionism; it costs jobs.”
CHINA STOCK MARKET CRASH – STAGE 3 MOST WORLD MARKETS RECOVER BUT CHINESE STOCK MARKET CONTINUES TO FALL
On August 25, 2015, World markets, including the US, rebounded, but then fell again as the Chinese stock market continued a straight line fall. After surging through most of the trading day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average shed 205 points, or 1.29% to drop to 15,666.
On August 26, 2015, Wall Street recovered as the Dow Jones average went up 620 points to 16,285, but the Shanghai stock market fell again by 1.37% as well as Hong Kong.
After the Chinese government cut its interest rate the fifth time in nine months, on August 25th stocks went up around the World, but then fell back. But in China it continued to be a straight line decline. Shares in Shanghai closed 7.6% lower as the index fell below 3000 for the first time since December, following the worst one-day loss in more than eight years on Monday. China’s stock plunge has wiped out more than $1 trillion in value from equities over the past four days.
The Chinese government apparently has stopped trying to stop the market plunge because it simply costs too much money. As mentioned in prior newsletters, stock market bubbles get so big that no government can control the situation. The Chinese government now appears powerless to prevent a further slide in the country’s stock market, as the country’s main share index plunged for a fourth straight day.
As Wei Wei, an analyst at Huaxi Securities in Shanghai:
“At the moment there’s panic in the market, because we have lots of retail investors. We’ve never experienced anything like this in China’s stock market, the speed of the decline and the scale of it.”
Global markets have lost trillions of dollars in market value over the last few weeks, erasing all gains for the entire year and creating fears of an ever deepening loss.
When the Chinese market first started its drop, authorities unleashed a series of measures to stop the slide, establishing a $400 billion fund to buy stocks, ordering state-owned companies to buy shares, banning large shareholders from selling and even launching criminal investigations into short sellers.
Aside from the central bank’s action, however, the Chinese government authorities appear to be largely standing aside this time, partly because they know they cannot stem a global slide in equity markets, and partly because government intervention to buy shares was simply becoming too expensive.
As Li Jiange, vice chairman of state-owned investment company Central Huijin, stated:
“The trade volume of the market can reach 2 trillion yuan ($300 billion) a day, which means if it collapsed no one could save it. The issues of the market should be handled by the market itself.”
As another Chinese analyst stated:
“The authorities stepped in and tried to save the stock market once. And you can see it is not working. The authorities might step in but probably not in as high profile a way as they did last time. It’s not helpful for them to interfere like that.”
On August 26, 2015, CAIXIN, a well-known newspaper/magazine in China, issued an editorial stating:
Counting the Cost of Gov’t Intervention in Stock Market
Regulators should take a long look at their recent behavior because the bourses’ future depends on government doing its job the right way
Two months into the government’s unprecedented efforts to save the stock market – which had its most turbulent week starting on August 18 since state-backed investors intervened to end volatility in early July – it is time we consider what comes next.
On August 14, the China Securities Regulatory Commission announced that the China Securities Finance Corp. (CSF), which has played a central role in the government’s campaign to bail out the market, sold an unspecified amount of stocks it recently bought to Central Huijin Investment Ltd.
It would be wishful thinking to believe that this means the CSF has more money to continue buying stocks. Rather, the deal marked an end to operations that have plowed nearly 2 trillion yuan into the A share market since it took a nosedive in mid-June.
The sheer volume of the capital involved and the consequences that may follow over a long period demand that we seriously reflect on what was done and what should have been learned.
The money the CSF used to buy the shares primarily came from commercial banks. It will need to repay those loans quickly with the funds it received from Central Huijin, which raised the funds it needed for its purchase by issuing bonds. Costs aside, Central Huijin’s mandate is to hold stakes in financial institutions on behalf of the state. Supporting the stock market is not its job.
When announcing the share transfer, the securities regulator also said “the stock market goes up and down according to its own laws and the government will not intervene under normal circumstances.” Perhaps this statement is intended to signal that the government’s intervention has concluded.
The announcement also said that the CSF “will continue to play a stabilizing role in many ways should the market experience severe and abnormal fluctuations and possibly trigger systemic risk.” The emphasis here should fall on how the government defines “abnormal fluctuations” and “systemic risk.” Ambiguity on these two important questions will have grave consequences.
It is still too early for a thorough review of the costs and benefits of the government’s involvement in the stock market, but some judgments can be made. To start, the regulator should not have tried to get the stock index to go up. Also, the CSF seemed to have picked stocks randomly, pouring capital into valuable and worthless companies indiscriminately. Critics have questioned the wisdom of these actions, and some voiced concerns about insider trading.
Many other issues remain to be resolved. The first is defining the role of the CSF. The institution has become a de facto stock market stabilization fund in that it snaps up shares few others want, and the government has said this will remain its mission for years. Critics say the very existence of the fund distorts the market, not to mention that trillions of yuan are at stake. Deciding what the CSF can do with the money – now that its main job has changed – should be done according to the law. . . .
Also at risk is the sense of rationality that the government has tried for years to instill in stock investors.
Ever since the CSF stepped into the market, speculators have started gambling again, to the detriment of the market. The message some investors took away from the intervention is that the government will always ride to the rescue when the market collapses. The moral hazard this created backtracks on progress that has been made over many years on investor education. . . .
The capital market cannot grow in a healthy manner with the CSF playing the role of savior. It should end this role sooner rather than later. . . .
The regulator must learn the right lessons this time. Reflecting on what it did wrong would be a start. The future of the market depends upon it doing its job right.
For the full editorial, see http://english.caixin.com/2015-08-26/100843837.html.
Pointing to the factory and consumer price data, Mr. Yu Yongding, a prominent Chinese economist and a former adviser to the central bank, stated:
China’s economy will get worse before it gets better. Chinese companies are struggling with high debt loads and low prices. China has entered a stage of deflation.
Although the fundamentals are driving stock prices around the World, no one knows what the fundamentals are in China and that fuels the panic, when it comes to the Chinese stock market. As the Wall Street Journal reported on August 25th:
For All Its Heft, China’s Economy Is a Black Box
For sheer clout, China’s economy outweighs every country in the world save the U.S. But on transparency, it remains distinctly an emerging market, with murky politics, unreliable data and opaque decision making.
This veil dims the understanding of China’s economy and is an important reason its recent slowdown has produced so much turmoil.
Economists widely doubt that China grew at a robust 7% pace in the second quarter, as the country’s official statistics say. Citing other data, such as power generation and passenger travel, some think the rate might be as little as half that.
Similarly, when the People’s Bank of China devalued its currency two weeks ago, a step that sparked much of the recent market upheaval, officials couched the move as part of a long-term effort to align the yuan’s value more closely with market forces. Some outside analysts, noting that the PBOC isn’t independent, saw a more political motive: to boost exports and thus bolster the Communist Party’s credibility and hold on power. . . .
“With my G-7 and many G-20 counterparts there were frank, honest conversations, you were on the phone pretty frequently, often weekly,” recalls one former Treasury official who still deals extensively with China for the financial industry. “With China, you don’t know who to call. It’s hard to know where decision making occurs or who’s calling the shots.” . . . .
no major advanced country’s statistics are viewed as skeptically as China’s.
In 2007 Li Keqiang, now China’s premier, told the U.S. ambassador, according to a memo released by WikiLeaks, that GDP is “man-made” and therefore unreliable.
Mr. Li, who was then Communist Party chief of Liaoning province, said he looked at data on electricity, rail cargo and loans to get a better gauge on economic activity. Several analysts have since come up with indexes based on Mr. Li’s favorite stats.
In London, Capital Economics looks at freight activity, electricity, property development, passenger travel and sea shipments, and concludes China’s economy expanded much more slowly in the second quarter than China reported. Lombard Street Research, another London research outfit, uses another approach, including a different measure of inflation, and comes up with just a 3.7% growth rate.
Chinese statistics are “spookily stable from quarter to quarter,” says Capital Economics analyst Mark Williams. For instance, China’s unemployment rate registers 4.1% nearly every quarter. . . .
China’s leaders are heir to a tradition of secrecy. In 1971, when Mao Zedong’s anointed successor died, the public wasn’t told for nearly two months. In the current corruption crackdown, it can still be weeks or months after senior or retired leaders disappear before their detention is announced. . . .
Daniel W. Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, in the August 25th Washington Post stated that the real scary part of the stock market crash was the reaction of the US Presidential candidates:
The truly scary thing about Black Monday
The global sell-off of stocks yesterday was a little worrying. The reaction from some candidates for president was a lot worrying. . . .
China’s Black Monday reveals something useful: how potential U.S. presidents are reacting to the market sell-off. . . .
One Republican candidate, Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, called on President Obama on Monday to cancel his plans to meet in Washington next month with President Xi Jinping of China on what will be his first state visit to the United States. Mr. Walker accused Beijing of a range of offenses that have harmed American interests, including manipulating its economy and currency, carrying out cyberattacks and persecuting Christians.
Frankly, at this point both U.S. and Chinese officials wish China could actively manipulate their economy. What’s happening this month is evidence, in fact, that market forces can easily override Chinese government manipulation. To be sure, Walker lists legitimate beefs with the People’s Republic, but I’m pretty sure canceling the state visit would not help at all on any of them. . . .
In response to Trump’s argument that the United States should delink from “China, Mr. Drezner stated:
Oh, for the love of –. Look, I’ll keep this simple. If American voters really want any market volatility to metastasize into an actual Great Depression, then by all means break ties with China and Asia. But the only reason the 2008 financial crisis wasn’t worse was precisely because that didn’t happen. . . .
The same is true for Sanders, who also seized on the market moment in a tweet from the populist left: “For the past 40 years, Wall Street and the billionaire class have rigged the rules to redistribute wealth to the richest among us.”….
and it would be foolish for any of the establishment candidates to go down this rabbit hole.” Except that’s what Scott Walker did. Oh, and then there’s Chris Christie:
“. . .17:08:24 Lots and lots of money from the Chinese and remember that when the Chinese hold this much of our debt, if the Chinese get a cough, we get the flu and that’s what’s happening now right now in my opinion in our financial markets.”
Let’s be clear: China owning lots of U.S. government debt has exactly zero to do with what’s happening right now. If anything, the gyrating Chinese stock market and depreciating yuan, combined with general developing country malaise, will trigger a massive surge of interest in U.S. government debt. So Christie is simply wrong here.
The scariest thing about Black Monday wasn’t the stock market fluctuations. Those will hopefully be temporary enough in the United States. No, the scariest thing was how one day of financial volatility was enough to make four presidential candidates — Christie, Sanders, Trump, and Walker — say really stupid things about the Chinese economy and the Sino-American relationship.
From an international trade point of view, although China is important, the really scary part is not China, but the global drop in trade. On August 25, 2015 the Financial Times reported that “This year is worst for trade since crisis” of 2009
The volume of global trade fell 0.5 per cent in the three months to June compared to the first quarter . . . also revised down their result for the first quarter to a 1.5 per cent contraction, making the first half of 2015 the worst recorded since the 2009 collapse in global trade that followed the crisis.
“We have had a miserable first six months of 2015,” said Robert Koopman, chief economist of the World Trade Organization, which has forecast 3.3 per cent growth in the volume of global trade this year but is likely to revise down that estimate in the coming weeks.
Much of the slowdown in global trade this year has been due to a halting recovery in Europe as well as a slowing economy in China, Mr Koopman said.
In other words, instead of bashing China and trade in general, maybe the Presidential candidates should talk about boosting trade.
But one interesting point, on August 25, 2015, the New York Times had an article by Joe Nocera entitled The Man Who Got China Right. In the Article, Mr Nocera described Jim Chanos of Kynikos Associates, a $3 billion hedge fund that specializes in short-selling. Mr. Nocera goes on to state:
In the fall of 2009, Jim Chanos began to ask questions about the Chinese economy. What sparked his curiosity was the realization that commodity producers had been largely unaffected by the financial crisis; indeed, they had recorded big profits even as other sectors found themselves reeling in the aftermath of the crisis.
When he looked into why, he discovered that the critical factor was China’s voracious appetite for commodities: The Chinese, who had largely sidestepped the financial crisis themselves, were buying 40 percent of all copper exports; 50 percent of the available iron ore; and eye-popping quantities of just about everything else.
That insight soon led Chanos to make an audacious call: China was in the midst of an unsustainable credit bubble. . . .
Chanos and his crew at Kynikos don’t make big “macro” bets on economies; their style is more “micro”: looking at the fundamentals of individual companies or sectors. And so it was with China. “I’ll never forget the day in 2009 when my real estate guy was giving me a presentation and he said that China had 5.6 billion square meters of real estate under development, half residential and half commercial,”
Chanos told me the other day.
“I said, ‘You must mean 5.6 billion square feet.’ ”
The man replied that he hadn’t misspoken; it really was 5.6 billion square meters, which amounted to over 60 billion square feet.
For Chanos, that is when the light bulb went on. The fast-growing Chinese economy was being sustained not just by its export prowess, but by a property bubble propelled by mountains of debt, and encouraged by the government as part of an infrastructure spending strategy designed to keep the economy humming. (According to the McKinsey Global Institute, China’s debt load today is an unfathomable $28 trillion.)
Chanos soon went public with his thesis, giving interviews to CNBC and Charlie Rose, and making a speech at Oxford University. He told Rose that property speculation in China was rampant, and that because so much of the economy depended on construction — in most cases building properties that had no chance of generating enough income to pay down the debt — China was on “the treadmill to hell.”
He also pointed out that much of the construction was for high-end condos that cost over $100,000, yet the average Chinese household made less than $10,000 a year.
Can you guess how the financial establishment, convinced that the Chinese juggernaut was unstoppable, reacted to Chanos’s contrarian thesis? It scoffed. . . .
As it turns out, China’s economy began to slow right around the time Chanos first made his call. No matter: Most China experts remained bullish. Chanos, meanwhile, was shorting the stocks of a number of companies that depended on the Chinese market. . .
These days, with the markets in free-fall, it certainly looks like Chanos has been vindicated. . . . This loss of confidence in China and its leaders has spooked stock markets around the world.
The moral of today’s story is a simple one. Listen to the skeptics and the contrarians. You dismiss them at your peril.
CHINA STOCK MARKET CRASH – STAGE 4—MARKETS RECOVER BUT CHINA IS NO LONGER A SURE BET
On August 27 and 28, 2015, World Markets recovered and the Chinese stock exchanges even went up on suspicion of Chinese government buying programs, but the new reality is that China is no longer a sure bet. The focus now is on the true state of China’s economy. As the New York Times stated on August 27th:
China Falters, and the Global Economy Is Forced to Adapt
With deepening economic fears about China, multinational corporations and countries are having to respond to a new reality as a once sure bet becomes uncertain.
China’s rapid growth over the last decade reshaped the world economy, creating a powerful driver of corporate strategies, financial markets and geopolitical decisions. China seemed to have a one-way trajectory, momentum that would provide a steady source of profit and capital.
But deepening economic fears about China, which culminated this week in a global market rout, are now forcing a broad rethinking of the conventional wisdom. Even as markets show signs of stabilizing, the resulting shock waves could be lasting, by exposing a new reality that China is no longer a sure bet.
Smartphone makers, automobile manufacturers and retailers wonder about the staying power of Chinese buyers, even if it is not shaking their bottom line at this point. General Motors and Ford factories have been shipping fewer cars to Chinese dealerships this summer. . . .
The trouble is, the true strength of the Chinese economy — and the policies the leadership will adopt to address any weaknesses — is becoming more difficult to discern.
China’s growth, which the government puts at 7 percent a year, is widely questioned. Large parts of the Chinese service sector, like restaurants and health care, continue to grow, supporting the broader economy. But the signs in industrial sectors, in which other countries and foreign companies have the greatest stake through trade, paint a bleaker picture. . . ..
For entire article, see http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/27/business/international/china-falters-and-the-global-economy-is-forced-to-adapt.html?emc=edit_th_20150827&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=19479910&_r=0.
WILL THE REAL LOSER IN THE 2016 US ELECTION BE FREE TRADE?
In my first July newsletter on Trade Policy, Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”), I asked whether the US Congress will follow the siren call of protectionism and take the US backwards or move forward with the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) to resume its free trade leadership? Truly a question.
As an observer of the Presidential primary right now, free trade and the trade agreements appear to be the latest punching bag, especially among the populist front runners, such as Donald Trump and Bernie Saunders. Using the euphemism of putting America first and protecting workers and US factories at all costs from import competition created by free trade agreements, many candidates apparently are simply engaged in protectionism.
Although the establishment Republicans, such as Jeb Bush, Marco Rubio and John Kasich, have all indicated that they are for Free but “Fair” Trade, Donald Trump, the front runner, is a different story.
When asked how the United States could create new jobs in the first Republican debate, Donald Trump, who presently leads the Republican primary field, stated during the first Republican debate, “Well for starters I would negotiate better trade deals. The Chinese are killing us.” Trump further stated:
“This country is in big trouble. We don’t win anymore. We lose to China. We lose to Mexico both in trade and at the border. We lose to everybody,”
On August 24th, Trump warned that because of the Chinese stock market fall, China would bring the US down and the US should delink from China. See https://instagram.com/p/6xT08ZGhQc/
Trump has decreed that he will build a wall to stop illegal immigrants coming in from Mexico and the Mexican government will pay for it. Trump has stated that if the Mexican government does not pay for it, he will raise tariffs on Mexican products. But that would be a violation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”).
Trump has also threatened that if China takes actions, such as cyber-attacks, on the US, he will raise tariffs on Chinese products, but that would be a violation of the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) Agreement and the WTO Agreement between the US and China.
In other words, it sounds like Trump Administration would create a trade war or trade wars with a number of different countries.
Although Trump and Republican Senator Sessions of Alabama have argued that the US has a free trade agreement with China, it does not. All the US has with China is PNTR, which means permanent normal trade relations with China, just like the normal trade relations the United States has with Russia, Ukraine, Syria, Iran and many other countries.
Although Trump has been bashing China and trade in general, most people thought he could not be elected, but in mid-August, Bloomberg Politics Managing Editor Mark Halperin stated on MSNBC that Trump has “reached a turning point” at which “establishment candidates” think he can win Iowa and added that “most” believe he can win the nomination, and “a significant number think he could win the White House.” As Halpern further stated, “Trump may not end up as the nominee, but right now, he’s changed the race.” The latest Fox News poll shows that Trump is in first place with 25 percent support nationally, more than double the support for Ben Carson who is in second place with 12 percent. The findings mirror recent polls in Iowa.
An August 20, 2015, Rasmussen Report telephone Poll has 57% of Republican voters stating Trump is the likely to be the Republican Presidential Nominee. See http://m.rasmussenreports.com/public_content/politics/elections/election_2016/trump_change.
On August 27, 2015, Peggy Noonan, a former speechwriter for President Ronald Reagan and a committed Republican, in an article entitled “America Is So in Play” published in the Wall Street Journal stated that she was discovering a distinct change in the electorate towards Donald Trump and the Republican party because the Hispanics and other lower income people that she knows are for Donald Trump:
Second, Mr. Trump’s support is not limited to Republicans, not by any means. . . .
Since Mr. Trump announced I’ve worked or traveled in, among other places, Southern California, Connecticut, Georgia, Virginia, New Jersey and New York’s Long Island. In all places I just talked to people. My biggest sense is that political professionals are going to have to rethink “the base,” reimagine it when they see it in their minds. . . .
Something is going on, some tectonic plates are moving in interesting ways. My friend Cesar works the deli counter at my neighborhood grocery store. He is Dominican, an immigrant, early 50s, and listens most mornings to a local Hispanic radio station, La Mega, on 97.9 FM. Their morning show is the popular “El Vacilón de la Mañana,” and after the first GOP debate, Cesar told me, they opened the lines to call-ins, asking listeners (mostly Puerto Rican, Dominican, Mexican) for their impressions. More than half called in to say they were for Mr. Trump. Their praise, Cesar told me a few weeks ago, dumbfounded the hosts. I later spoke to one of them, who identified himself as D.J. New Era. He backed Cesar’s story. “We were very surprised,” at the Trump support, he said. Why? “It’s a Latin-based market!”
“He’s the man,” Cesar said of Mr. Trump. This week I went by and Cesar told me that after Mr. Trump threw Univision’s well-known anchor and immigration activist, Jorge Ramos, out of an Iowa news conference on Tuesday evening, the “El Vacilón” hosts again threw open the phone lines the following morning and were again surprised that the majority of callers backed not Mr. Ramos but Mr. Trump. Cesar, who I should probably note sees me, I sense, as a very nice establishment person who needs to get with the new reality, was delighted.
I said: Cesar, you’re supposed to be offended by Trump, he said Mexico is sending over criminals, he has been unfriendly, you’re an immigrant. Cesar shook his head: No, you have it wrong.
Immigrants, he said, don’t like illegal immigration, and they’re with Mr. Trump on anchor babies. “They are coming in from other countries to give birth to take advantage of the system. We are saying that! When you come to this country, you pledge loyalty to the country that opened the doors to help you.”
He added, “We don’t bloc vote anymore.” The idea of a “Latin vote” is “disparate,” which he said generally translates as nonsense, but which he means as “bull—-.”
He finished, on the subject of Jorge Ramos: “The elite have different notions from the grass-roots working people.”
Old style: Jorge Ramos speaks for Hispanic America. New style: Jorge Ramos speaks for Jorge Ramos. . . .
I will throw in here that almost wherever I’ve been this summer, I kept meeting immigrants who are or have grown conservative—more men than women, but women too. America is so in play. . . .
Both sides, the elites and the non-elites, sense that things are stuck. The people hate the elites, which is not new, and very American. The elites have no faith in the people, which, actually, is new. Everything is stasis. Then Donald Trump comes, like a rock thrown through a showroom window, and the molecules start to move.
For the entire article, see http://www.wsj.com/articles/america-is-so-in-play-1440715262.
In early August at a Bellevue, Washington Republican event, I heard Congressman Dave Reichert, a former Washington State policeman and sheriff, state that he believes the major issue in the next 2016 election will be “control versus chaos”. He argues that the average American voter is looking for someone who can control the situation in the United States as compared to the chaos we see in the US with illegal immigration, foreign policy and other domestic issues. That may be a reason for Trump’s appeal to the Republican voter.
But what about Democrats? Although Hilary Clinton may be in the lead, as many political experts know, she is wounded because of a number of issues, including e-mail problems she had while Secretary of State that have morphed into a potential FBI criminal investigation. See Reuters report at http://mobile.reuters.com/article/idUSKCN0QQ0BW20150821. But Hilary has not come out in favor of the trade agreements. Why? The labor unions, which are a significant part of the Democratic base and very anti-trade.
The next candidate behind Hilary is Senator Bernie Sanders. Many Democrats are saying that Hilary is “feeling the Bern.” Sanders, however, is very close to the labor unions and, therefore, is vehemently against the Trade Agreements, China and Free Trade in general. See the June 23rd statement by Senator Bernie Sanders in which he denounced Trade Promotion Authority and the Trans Pacific Partnership on the floor of the US Senate at http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4541798/sen-bernie-sanders-tpa-disaster-america.
Bashing international trade and China in particular and blaming trade and China for all the ills in the US economy is common in US elections and may feel good. But reality soon intrudes. In 2014, total US exports, including manufactured products, agricultural products and services to other countries were $2.35 trillion, an increase over the last few years, with exports of US manufactured goods reaching $1.64 trillion. Under NAFTA in 2014 goods exported to Mexico were $240 billion and to China were $123 billion. US exports means US jobs. See https://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/balance/c5700.html.
The reality is that the United States is exporting many products to Mexico and China, including manufactured goods, agricultural products and services. What this means is that the United States is vulnerable to retaliation if it takes trade actions against other countries. Retaliation that will shut down US exports and cost US jobs.
As described above, China right now is going through an economic slowdown. As the New York Times stated on August 18th:
When Prime Minister Li Keqiang convened the Chinese cabinet last month, the troubled economy was the main topic on the agenda. The stock market had stumbled after a yearlong boom. Money was flooding out of the country. Most ominously, China’s export machine had stalled, prompting labor strikes. . . . .
Manufacturing, the core engine of growth in the world’s second-largest economy, is just too critical. And the pressures have been mounting, with exports last month plunging 8 percent compared with 2014.
Across the country, millions of workers and thousands of companies are feeling the pain, as sales slip and incomes drop. . . .Millions of Chinese are looking for work.
China’s slower economy will affect US companies and US jobs. Qualcomm, for example, is about to layoff thousands from its global workforce, many in San Diego, California. See http://www.sandiegouniontribune.com/news/2015/aug/17/Qualcomm-broadcom-nokia-layoffs-foreign-workers/.
But as people who read this newsletter know, Qualcomm was fined almost $1 billion for violations of China’s Antimonopoly law. Qualcomm also makes more than $9 billion every year, but half of that income comes from China. As people also know from this newsletter, China is going through an economic slowdown so right now a weak China market can hurt US exports. In international trade, what goes around, comes around.
The problem with protectionism is that trade is not a one way street. As Senator Marco Rubio stated on August 10th at a Republican reception in Bellevue, Washington, US consumers represent only 5% of the World Economy. 95% of consumers are outside of the US so if a US company wants to increase sales and increase jobs, it has to export. In an August 28, 2015 opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, entitled “How My Presidency Would Deal With China”, Senator Rubio made one of the more thoughtful points on China, stating:
My second goal is protecting the U.S. economy. For years, China has subsidized exports, devalued its currency, restricted imports and stolen technology on a massive scale. As president, I would respond not through aggressive retaliation, which would hurt the U.S. as much as China, but by greater commitment and firmer insistence on free markets and free trade. This means immediately moving forward with the Trans-Pacific Partnership and other trade agreements.
For the full opinion piece, see http://www.wsj.com/articles/how-my-presidency-would-deal-with-china-1440717685.
Republican and Democratic Senators, such as Orin Hatch, Marco Rubio and Ron Wyden, and Republican representatives, such as Paul Ryan, Dave Reichert and Pete Sessions, and free trade Democratic representatives, such as Ron Kind, Rick Larson, Derek Kilmer and Suzan DelBene, make the same argument and, therefore, understand the trade situation.
On August 19th, I met with the New Democratic Coalition of moderate Congressional Democrats, many from Washington State, who are pro-trade and pro-growth. 40% of the jobs in Washington State are tied to trade. See the Politico article, which describes the New Democrat Coalition in detail at http://www.politico.com/story/2015/08/new-dems-plan-assertive-new-presence-in-house-121208.html. See also http://www.newdempac.com.
All the Democratic Representatives in the New Dem Coalition that I talked with were very concerned about the anti-trade rhetoric in the Presidential Primary, not only from Donald Trump but also Bernie Sanders. One Representative surprised me by talking well of Republican Senator Marco Rubio, who is pro free trade. The Democratic Representatives in the New Democratic Coalition understand how important international trade is to the economy, the companies and jobs in their states.
All of international trade is based on reciprocity. What the United States does to one country, that country can do back. If the US raises tariffs to keep imports out or puts in place trade restrictions, that country, in turn, can retaliate, raise tariffs and keep US exports out.
Several years ago, the United States determined to stop Mexican trucks from carrying freight into the United States. In return, Mexico stopped all imports of potatoes from Washington and other US states.
Just like Donald Trump, Bernie Sanders and other present day politicians, in the 1930s, as a candidate for President, Herbert Hoover promised to help the United States dig out of the recession by raising tariff walls against imports, and Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930. Countries around the World retaliated by raising barriers to US exports. Exports, imports and trade stopped and the World was plunged into the Great Depression.
As indicated below, the World economy is at a tipping point and starting a trade war with the rest of the World could hurt the United States and its economy big time. As the recent drop in the US stock market because of the China slow down indicates, the United States is no longer the big kid on the block, the only and biggest market in the World. The US, therefore, can be a target of trade actions, which will hurt US companies, US jobs and the US economy as a whole.
TPP NEGOTIATING ROUND ENDS IN HAWAII WITH NO FINAL AGREEMENT—CANADA AND JAPAN CONTINUE TO BE STICKING POINTS
In late July, after a week of negotiations in Hawaii to close the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), negotiators were not able to close the gaps on the TPP’s most controversial provisions, including pharmaceutical patents and rules governing dairy trade. USTR Michael Froman stated that although the negotiations had resulted in “substantial progress in certain areas, final agreement remains out of reach”.
At the conclusion, trade ministers spoke optimistically:
“In this last stage of negotiations, we are more confident than ever that TPP is within reach and will support jobs and economic growth. The progress made this week reflects our longstanding commitment to deliver an ambitious, comprehensive and high-standard TPP agreement that will support jobs and economic growth across the Asia Pacific region.”
On July 9th in a Politico Morning Money speech, which can be found here http://www.c-span.org/video/?327014-1/politico-conversation-trade-representative-paul-ryan-rwi, Paul Ryan, House Ways and Means Chairman, stated that there could be a final TPP Agreement by late Fall.
Among the major obstacles are pharmaceuticals and in particular biologic drugs. The U.S. has long held that those high-value medicines, which are used to treat diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis, should be given 12 years on the market before the entry of generic alternatives. But every other TPP partner has consistently pressed for a much shorter exclusivity window, with positions varying from eight years of exclusivity to no exclusivity period whatsoever.
A major problem is Canada’s barriers to agricultural goods, including its dairy and poultry market. New Zealand wants more access to the US market, but the US has stated that it will only open its market if Canada will open its market for more US dairy imports. With Parliamentary elections on October 16th, it is very difficult for Canada to give in now. Trade ministers vowed to keep working closely together to resolve their differences but did not give any details about the timing of the next official negotiating session.
By the way, which group in Canada opposes the giving in to dairy imports from the United States? The Teamsters labor union. Recently Teamsters Canada reiterated its opposition to any changes to Canada’s controversial supply management system for its dairy industry warning Canada’s political class over giving into the United States and other countries in the TPP talks.
In other words, the Teamsters and AFL-CIO in the United States oppose the TPP, but their brother union in Canada opposes lifting restrictions on dairy imports from the US. Apparently the Union’s position is let’s drive worldwide economics back decades and put all the protectionist walls back in place.
The TPP talks are at a delicate stage where much of the technical underbrush has been cleared, but parties are still faced with making calls on politically charged sectors of their economies that could make or break the deal. As Warren Maruyama, former USTR general counsel, stated:
“A lot of the issues that they had going into Maui still appear to be wide open. They are definitely in the endgame, and this is when all the hard issues have to get resolved, and I have yet to see a major trade negotiation that was resolved in one ministerial meeting.”
Another issue is the rules of origin for automobiles and auto parts, which were at the center of bilateral talks between the U.S. and Japan. Although the two countries appear to have forged a compromise on the regional content rule issue, Mexico has taken issue with that arrangement. In addition, rice is a big problem for Japan, and sugar is a big problem for the United States.
The passage of the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill revealed a Congress still sharply divided on trade, a factor that Maruyama said USTR Froman will have to keep in mind as they bring the deal to completion. As Maruyama stated:
“USTR has to keep a close eye on the Congress. If it does something that costs votes or gets them seriously crosswise with the Republican House or Senate leadership, TPP is in big trouble. TPA is a good proxy for TPP, and it passed Congress by a very narrow margin and with mostly Republican votes.”
But any delay to TPP threatens to move such a vote deeper into the 2016 election season, where meaningful legislative action often reaches a standstill. In talking to pro-trade Democratic Representatives on August 19th in the New Dem Coalition, they are concerned that the TPP could become an election issue if the Agreement is not concluded soon. Pursuant to the TPA bill that was signed into law, once the final agreement is approved, President Obama must publish the Agreement for 60 days before he can sign it, and then the Congress must take at a minimum 30 days before they can ratify it. If the Agreement is concluded in late Fall or after October 16th, the Canadian election, for example, then that means President Obama could not sign the agreement until the end of December, and Congress would have to deal with the Agreement at the end of January, February 2016, just as the Presidential primaries are starting up in an election year.
If the TPP isn’t ratified by the end of this year, the chances of its being ratified before Obama leaves office will be slim. Congress is highly unlikely to pass a gigantic free trade agreement like the TPP during an election year. It would almost have to happen after the November Presidential election in a December lame-duck session.
Meanwhile, on August 14th, Senator Sherrod Brown, an outspoken critics on US trade policy, stated that he will block the nomination of Marisa Lago to serve as a deputy U.S. trade representative, citing the office’s failure to fully open Trans-Pacific Partnership text for viewing by congressional staff. When USTR rejected Senator Brown’s request, he stated:
“The administration would rather sacrifice a nominee for a key post than improve transparency of the largest trade agreement ever negotiated. This deal could affect more the 40 percent of our global economy, but even seasoned policy advisers with the requisite security clearance can’t review text without being accompanied by a member of Congress.”
EXIM BANK PROBLEMS
There is a major battle in the US Congress now on the Ex-Im Bank. In a victory for free market ideology over pragmatism and simple common sense, conservative members of Congress have let the charter of the EX-IM Bank expire hurting many US companies.
More specifically, Congress let federal authorization for the Ex-Im Bank expire July 1, to the cheers of conservative lawmakers who view it as a tool for crony capitalism. As a result, credit insurance policies are starting to run out for 3,000 small businesses that rely on them to be able to export along with a number of large companies, such as Boeing. According to National Association of Manufacturers Vice President Linda Dempsey, some U.S. companies continue to compete for overseas bids that will ultimately require Ex-Im backing, in the hopes that the agency will be renewed before the deals fall through.
What is the Ex-Im Bank? According to the Export-Import Bank itself, the EXIM Bank:
is an independent, self-sustaining agency with an 80-year record of supporting U.S. jobs by financing the export of American goods and services. . . .
By financing the export of American goods and services, EXIM Bank has supported 1.3 million private-sector, American jobs since 2009, supporting 164,000 jobs in FY 2014 alone. . . .
Small business exporters need certainty and protection to tackle new markets, expand and create jobs. In FY 2014, nearly 90 percent of EXIM Bank’s transactions—more than 3,340—directly supported American small businesses. . . .
Over the past two decades, the Bank has generated nearly $7 billion more than the cost of its operations. That’s money EXIM Bank generates for the American taxpayer, to help reduce the federal deficit.
EXIM Bank argues that it:
“is vital to countering aggressive foreign competition. With nearly 60 other export credit agencies around the world trying to win jobs for their own countries, EXIM Bank helps level the playing field for American businesses. “Made in America” is still the best brand in the world, and EXIM Bank ensures that U.S. companies never lose out on a sale because of attractive financing from foreign governments.
EXIM Bank further states:
In FY 2014, Export-Import Bank financing supported $27.5 billion worth of U.S. exports. $10.7 billion of that total represents exports from U.S. small businesses, making small business exports the top category for EXIM Bank supported exports last year.
Finally, the EXIM Bank argues that it has a long history of bipartisan support:
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, February 12, 1959: “[EXIM Bank’s] record of repaid loans and repayable loans, your infinitesimal portion of written-off loans is one that I can do nothing except to say congratulations to your Directors, the President, and to all of you.”
President John F. Kennedy, July 18, 1963: “…the Export-Import Bank has created a wholly new program of export financing which now provides U.S. business with credit facilities equal to any in the world.”
President Gerald Ford, November 18, 1974: “In order for the United States to maintain its strong position in foreign markets, it is important that the Congress pass the Export-Import Bank bill and avoid attaching unnecessary encumbrances.”
President Ronald Reagan, January 30, 1984: “Exports create and sustain jobs for millions of American workers and contribute to the growth and strength of the United States economy. The Export-Import Bank contributes in a significant way to our nation’s export sales.”
President William J. Clinton, May 6, 1993: “Export expansion obviously encourages our most advanced industries. I am committed to promoting these exports, and what’s where the EXIM Bank plays an important role.”
President George W. Bush, June 14, 2002: “I have today signed into law S. 1372, the Export-Import Bank Reauthorization Act of 2002. This legislation will ensure the continued effective operation of the Export-Import Bank, which helps advance U.S. trade policy, facilitate the sale of U.S. goods and services abroad, and create jobs here at home.”
The decision to let the EXIM Bank expire on July 1st forces many large and small companies to make drastic changes. Despite the rhetoric of pure free market ideology, the reality is that the real winner of this decision is China, Europe and other countries. Gary Mendell, president of trade financier Meridian Finance Group, said export credit agencies in other countries are already taking advantage of EXIM’s expiration to lure away business from U.S. companies. Mendell stated:
“They’re gleeful about it, and I don’t blame them. Those foreign competitors are going to customers in other countries and saying, ‘Hey, you don’t know if your U.S. supplier is even going to be able to ship to you and give you the payment terms they’re promising in their quote, because look what’s happening with Ex-Im Bank.’”
Some companies are not going to wait for Congress. Boeing Chairman Jim McNerney has stated that the giant plane manufacturer and defense contractor is considering moving parts of its operations to other countries, where they could take advantage of those nations’ equivalents to Ex-Im to continue selling products overseas:
“We’re actively considering now moving key pieces of our company to other countries, and we would’ve never considered that before this craziness on Ex-Im.
McNerney further stated that he might have “made the wrong decision” years ago in trying to keep production in the U.S., given the newly uncertain politics surrounding export financing in Washington. “People just playing politics — they’re not connected to the real world anymore,”
But Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a leading conservative critic of the bank, sees even a prolonged expiration for the bank as a victory, stating:
“This is great news for families and taxpayers. Every day that goes by without the Ex-Im Bank being resurrected means it is more likely that it permanently ends. … This is the kind of example of good governance that I am excited to tell my constituents about during the August recess.”
But in Ohio, a state where manufacturing is the key economic issue, the failure to keep the EXIM bank open means a loss of companies and a loss of jobs. Although politicians love to blame China, the real problem is the United States, and politicians should look at themselves in the mirror. The failure of the United States to be competitive with other countries, including China, is not China’s fault.
AGOA PASSES WITH TECHNICAL CHANGES TO THE ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW
On June 25, 2015 the African Growth and Opportunity Act (“AGOA”) with Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) passed the House by a 286 to 138 vote and went to President Obama for signature. The AGOA includes the attached technical changes to the US Antidumping and Countervailing duty law, BILL CHANGED LAW. See also attached explanation of the changes to the law, trade_bills_fact_sheet.
Although most of the proposed changes to the Customs and Trade law are still at Conference Committee, Congress put certain attached technical changes to the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty law, including changes to the All Facts Available and the ITC injury standard, into AGOA, which passed both Senate and the House and has been signed into law by President Obama.
With regards to the ITC, a provision was added to clarify that even though an industry is profitable, it can still be materially injured. The ITC, however, has always been able to find an industry to be injured if profits were declining.
At Commerce, the new change waters down the requirement that Commerce corroborate the rate it uses as an All Facts Available (“AFA”) rate and the requirement that Commerce show that the AFA rate represents commercial reality when determining antidumping rates for foreign companies that do not cooperate in the antidumping or countervailing duty investigation.
Commerce has issued the attached Federal Register notice, DOC FED REG EFFECTIVE DATE TRADE LAW stating that the change in law applies to determinations after the effective date of the law, August 6, 2015, as published in the Commerce notice. But in a remand determination, which came out recently in the Aluminum Extrusions case, Commerce indicated that it could apply the new law change to remand determinations made on or after August 6, 2015.
But to further complicate the issue today, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) issued the attached order on August 11th in the Ad Hoc Shrimp case, CAFC SHRIMP TRADE BILL APPLICATION, asking for further argument on whether the new law applies to future Commerce determinations or retroactively back to entries that were made prior to August 6th. The CAFC appears to be stating that the new law does not apply to old entries, in effect, that are on appeal to the Courts because the actual determinations on appeal were made prior to August 6th
CUSTOMS AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT BILL
All the Senators emphasized during the final Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) debate the importance of the Customs and Trade Enforcement bill formerly The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (“TFTEA”), which passed the Senate on May 11, 2015 and the House. This bill will crack down on US importers that attempt to evade antidumping and countervailing duty laws by importing transshipped merchandise. This Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill is directed straight at the problem of transshipment by certain Chinese companies around US antidumping and countervailing duty orders.
Because of the differences in the Senate and House Bills, the bills have gone to Conference Committee to reconcile the differences. But since some of the most pressing provisions went through Congress attached to AGOA, there is not the same pressure on Congress to work through the differences in the two bills.
CHINA’S WTO CASE AGAINST US COUNTERVAILING DUTY DECISIONS RESULTS IN LOWER DUTIES IN A NUMBER OF DIFFERENT ANTIDUMPING CASES FOR CHINESE EXPORTERS
On July 22, 2015, Commerce issued the attached Federal Register notice, ,as a result of China’s victory in the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) case against Commerce Department’s antidumping duty determinations, which did not adequately reduce antidumping rates to account for export subsidies found in the companion Countervailing duty case. This WTO case and Commerce Department notice have had the effect of reducing slightly cash deposits and assessment rates in the following antidumping cases against China: Aluminum Extrusions from the People’s Republic of China; Certain Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe from the People’s Republic of China; Certain Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks from the People’s Republic of China; Certain Magnesia Carbon Bricks from the People’s Republic of China; Certain New Pneumatic Off-The-Road Tires from the People’s Republic of China; Certain Oil Country Tubular Goods from the People’s Republic of China; Certain Potassium Phosphate Salts from the People’s Republic of China; Certain Steel Grating from the People’s Republic of China; Certain Tow Behind Lawn Groomers and Certain Parts Thereof from the People’s Republic of China; Circular Welded Austenitic Stainless Pressure Pipe from the People’s Republic of China; Citric Acid and Certain Citrate Salts from the People’s Republic of China; Lightweight Thermal Paper from the People’s Republic of China; Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge from the People’s Republic of China; Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand from the People’s Republic of China; Raw Flexible Magnets from the People’s Republic of China; and Sodium Nitrite from the People’s Republic of China.
TIRES AD AND CVD ORDERS
On August 10, 2015, in the attached notice, TIRES AD CVD ORDER, the Commerce Department issued antidumping and countervailing duty orders against Passenger Tires from China. The Antidumping Rates range from 14.35 to 30.74% with the Chinese separate rate companies receiving 25.84%. The PRC wide rate is 87.99%. The Countervailing duty rates range from 20 to 116% with the average rate for all other Chinese companies being 30.61%.
BOLTLESS STEEL SHELVES
On August 17, 2015, in the attached decision,factsheet-prc-boltless-steel-shelving-ad-cvd-final-081715, the Commerce Department announced its affirmative final determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of imports of boltless steel shelving units prepackaged for sale from China. The antidumping rates range from 17.55% to 112.68%, but the cash deposits in the AD case are only 1.49 to 96.62% because of the countervailing duty rates ranging from 12.40 to 80.45%, which are set off in part against the antidumping rates.
On August 20, 2015, in the attached decision, factsheet-multiple-uncoated-paper-ad-prelim-082015, the Commerce Department announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) investigations of imports of certain uncoated paper from Australia, Brazil, China, Indonesia, and Portugal. For China, the antidumping rates are very high from 97.48% to 193.30% with all Chinese companies but one getting the 193% rate.
MORE STEEL CASES AND STAINLESS STEEL CASES COMING
After the July 28, 2015 steel case that was filed against Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products from China, Brazil, India, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Russia, and the United Kingdom, on August 11, 2015, a new antidumping and countervailing duty case was filed against Hot-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
In briefs to the ITC, the domestic steel industry in the Cold-Rolled Steel case argue that the Commission should apply the new injury provisions in the statute and find that the domestic industry is materially injured.
There are also rumors in the market that US antidumping and countervailing duty cases will be filed against stainless steel imports from a number of countries, including China. On August 26, 2015, in the attached decision, EU STAINLESS STEEL, the EC imposed antidumping on imports of stainless steel cold-rolled flat products originating in the People’s Republic of China and Taiwan.
CIT AFFIRMS ITC
On August 7, 2015, in the attached Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd. et al v. US International Trade Commission (“ITC”),CIT AFFIRMS ITC INJURY , the Court of International Trade (“CIT”) affirmed the ITC’s injury determination in the original Solar Cells antidumping case.
On August 14, 2015, Chinese exporters of specialized glass for solar panels were hit with stiffer antidumping duties by the European Union on Friday after regulators determined that a decrease in export prices had failed to protect their domestic industry. An eight-month European Commission investigation found that dipping export prices allowed Chinese solar glass producers to “absorb” the duties imposed on their products in 2009, which demands increased duties to stop the surge of cheap imports that continue to flow into the EU. The EC then stated:
“[T]he Commission concluded that the sampled exporting producers absorbed the anti-dumping duty in force. Hence, anti-dumping measures imposed on imports of solar glass originating in the [People’s Republic of China] should be amended.”
The antidumping duties in place since 2009 ranged from 0.4 percent to 36.1 percent. Under the new regulation, those numbers go up to range from 17.5 percent to 75.4 percent, with Xinyi PV Products Anhui Holdings Ltd. hit with the highest duties.
The product subject to investigation is solar glass consisting of tempered soda lime flat glass, with an iron content of less than 300 parts per million and a solar transmittance of more than 88 percent, among other technical characteristics.
COMMERCE REVOKES ANTIDUMPING ORDER ON WOVEN ELECTRIC BLANKETS FROM CHINA
On August 18, 2015, in the attached notice,BLANKETS REVOCATION AD ORDER, the Commerce Department revoked the antidumping order on Certain Woven Electric Blankets From the People’s Republic of China because of lack of interest by the US industry.
AUGUST ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS
On August 3, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, AUGUST OPPTY REVIEWS, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of August. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Ironing Tables, Laminated Woven Sacks, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Petroleum Wax Candles, Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags, Sodium Nitrite, Steel Nails, Sulfanilic Acid, Tetrahydrofurfuryl Alcohol, and Tow-Behind Lawn Groomers and Parts Thereof. The specific countervailing duty cases are: Laminated Woven Sacks, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Sodium Nitrite.
For those US import companies that imported Ironing Tables, Laminated Woven Sacks, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Petroleum Wax Candles, Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags, Sodium Nitrite, Steel Nails, Sulfanilic Acid, Tetrahydrofurfuryl Alcohol, and Tow-Behind Lawn Groomers and Parts Thereof and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period August 1, 2014-July 31, 2015 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.
This is a very important month for US importers because administrative reviews determine how much US importers actually owe in Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases. Generally, the US industry will request a review of all Chinese companies. If a Chinese company does not respond in the Commerce Department’s Administrative Review, its antidumping and countervailing duty rate could well go to the highest level and for certain imports the US importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.
In my experience, many US importers do not realize the significance of the administrative review investigations. They think the antidumping and countervailing duty case is over because the initial investigation is over. Many importers are blindsided because their Chinese supplier did not respond in the administrative review, and the US importers find themselves liable for millions of dollars in retroactive liability. In the recent Solar Cells 2012-2013 final review determination, for example, the following Chinese companies were determined to no longer be eligible for a separate antidumping rate and to have the PRC antidumping rate of 238.95%:
(1) Shanghai Suntech; (2) Wuxi Sunshine; (3) Changzhou NESL Solartech Co., Ltd.; (4) CSG PVTech Co., Ltd.; (5) Era Solar Co., Ltd.; (6) Innovosolar; (7) Jiangsu Sunlink PV Technology Co., Ltd.; (8) Jiawei Solarchina Co., Ltd.; (9) Jinko Solar Co., Ltd.; (10) LDK Solar Hi-tech (Suzhou) Co., Ltd.; (11) Leye Photovoltaic Science Tech.; (12) Magi Solar Technology; (13) Ningbo ETDZ Holdings, Ltd.; (14) ReneSola; (15) Shanghai Machinery Complete Equipment (Group) Corp., Ltd.; (16) Shenglong PV-Tech; (17) Solarbest Energy-Tech (Zhejiang) Co., Ltd.; (18) Suzhou Shenglong PV–TECH Co., Ltd.; (19) Zhejiang Shuqimeng Photovoltaic Technology Co., Ltd.; (20) Zhejiang Xinshun Guangfu Science and Technology Co., Ltd.; (21) Zhejiang ZG-Cells Co., Ltd.; (22) Zhiheng Solar Inc.; and (23) LDK Hi-Tech (Nanchang Co., Ltd.
IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA
This is also why the Import Alliance for America is so important for US importers, US end user companies and also Chinese companies. The real targets of antidumping and countervailing duty laws are not Chinese companies. The real targets are US companies, which import products into the United States from China.
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 US China Trade War and the antidumping and countervailing duty laws against China for the benefit of US companies.
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.
See the Import Alliance website at http://www.importallianceforamerica.com.
We will be targeting two major issues—working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement for the benefit of importers and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The United States is the only country that has retroactive liability for its importers in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.
On November 18, 2015, importers in the Alliance will be meeting Congressmen and Congressional Trade Staff in Washington DC to discuss these issues. If you are interested in this effort, please contact the Import Alliance through its website or myself directly.
For your additional information, in the attached notice, 9-14 Kilmer Save-the-Date (3), pro-trade Democratic Congressman Derek Kilmer of Tacoma, Washington will be having a reception in Seattle, Washington on September 14, 2015. Congressmen Kilmer would be interested in talking to any importers that attend the reception.
RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS
On July 30, 2015, OFAC issued an Advisory, entitled “Obfuscation of Critical Information in Financial and Trade Transactions Involving the Crimea Region of Ukraine,” to call attention to practices that have been used to circumvent or evade the Crimean sanctions. While billed as an “Advisory,” the agency’s release stands as a warning to the financial services and international trade sectors of their obligation to implement adequate controls to guard against such evasive practices and ensure compliance with their obligations under the Crimean sanctions.
On May 21, 2015, the Commerce Department filed changes to the export rules to allow unlicensed delivery of Internet technology to Crimea region of Ukraine, saying the change will allow the Crimean people to reclaim the narrative of daily life from their Russian occupants. Under a final rule, which is attached to my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, individuals and companies may deliver source code and technology for “instant messaging, chat and email, social networking” and other programs to the region without first retaining a license from the federal government, according to Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.
“Facilitating such Internet-based communication with the people located in the Crimea region of Ukraine is in the United States’ national security and foreign policy interests because it helps the people of the Crimea region of Ukraine communicate with the outside world.”
On September 3, 2014, I spoke in Vancouver Canada on the US Sanctions against Russia, which are substantial, at an event sponsored by Deloitte Tax Law and the Canadian, Eurasian and Russian Business Association (“CERBA”). Attached to my blog are copies of the PowerPoint or the speech and a description of our Russian/Ukrainian/Latvian Trade Practice for US importers and exporters. In addition, the blog describes the various sanctions in effect against Russia.
Pursuant to the OFAC regulations, U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting transactions, dealings, or business with Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDNs). The blocked persons list can be found at http://sdnsearch.ofac.treas.gov/. See also: www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/programs/pages/ukraine.aspx . The list includes the Russian company, United Shipbuilding, and a number of Russian Banks, including Bank Rossiya, SMP Bank, Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank OAO, Russian Agricultural Bank, VEB, and VTB Bank. The “Sectoral Sanctions Identification List” (the “SSI List”) that identifies specific Russian persons and entities covered by these sectoral sanctions can be found at www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/pages/ssi_list.aspx.
The sanctions will eventually increase more with the Congressional passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which is attached to my blog, which President Obama signed into law on December 19, 2014. Although the law provides for additional sanctions if warranted, at the time of the signing, the White House stated:
“At this time, the Administration does not intend to impose sanctions under this law, but the Act gives the Administration additional authorities that could be utilized, if circumstances warranted.”
The law provides additional military and economic assistance to Ukraine. According to the White House, instead of pursuing further sanctions under the law, the administration plans to continue collaborating with its allies to respond to developments in Ukraine and adjust its sanctions based on Russia’s actions. Apparently the Administration wants its sanctions to parallel those of the EU. As President Obama stated:
“We again call on Russia to end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, cease support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, and implement the obligations it signed up to under the Minsk agreements.”
Russia, however responded in defiance with President Putin blasting the sanctions and a December 20th Russian ministry statement spoke of possible retaliation.
One day after signing this bill into law, the President issued an Executive Order “Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions with Respect to the Crimea Region of Ukraine” (the “Crimea-related Executive Order”). President Obama described the new sanctions in a letter issued by the White House as blocking:
New investments by U.S. persons in the Crimea region of Ukraine
Importation of goods, services, or technology into the United States from the Crimea region of Ukraine
Exportation, re-exportation, sale, or supply of goods, services, or technology from the United States or by a U.S. person to the Crimea region of Ukraine
The facilitation of any such transactions.
The Crimea-related Executive Order also contains a complicated asset-blocking feature. Pursuant to this order, property and interests in property of any person may be blocked if determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, that the person is operating in Crimea or involved in other activity in Crimea.
The EU has also issued sanctions prohibiting imports of goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol, and providing financing or financial assistance, as well as insurance and reinsurance related to the import of such goods. In addition, the EU is blocking all foreign investment in Crimea or Sevastopol.
Thus any US, Canadian or EU party involved in commercial dealings with parties in Crimea or Sevastopol must undertake substantial due diligence to make sure that no regulations in the US or EU are being violated.
JUSTICE DEPARTMENT — IMPORTER EXECUTIVE SHOULD GO TO PRISON FOR EVADING US ANTIDUMPING LAWS
On August 21, 2015 the Justice Department requested prison time of four to five years for an executive for illegally importing magnesium from China that was later sold to the military knowing that the Chinese magnesium was covered by an antidumping order. As the US Attorney stated in its response to the Defendant’s sentencing request:
“Based on the defendant’s intentional undervaluing [of the magnesium] for his own profit, it is the position of the government that the defendant was not a minor participant in the offense.”
Prosecutors alleged that the Executive received the powder from a Chinese export dealer named Qian Chen after it was mixed with quarter-inch aluminum nuggets. Nehill then mislabeled the powder as magnesium reagent, or nonpure magnesium, which carried only a 5 percent duty, rather than the 100% plus in antidumping duties.
LUMBER LIQUIDATORS IS HAMMERED BY PRODUCTS LIABILITY PROBLEM CAUSED BY CHINESE IMPORTS
On August 5, 2015, it was reported that Lumber Liquidators stock continued to fall by 14 percent, despite the fact that the stock was already down 72 percent this year. The fall in the stock price was caused by a surprise quarterly loss of $23 million. Numerous executives have left the company as it faces criminal and civil investigations by several regulators as a result of the charges, as well as consumer and shareholder class action suits.
Legal costs continue to smash the company as it has already spent $9.7 million to address legal problems associated with both consumer and shareholder lawsuits and ongoing probes by the Justice Department, SEC, the Consumer Product Safety Commission and the California Air Resources Board.
PRODUCTS LIABILITY COMPLAINTS AGAINST CHINESE PRODUCTS AND COMPANIES
On August 25, 2015, Juan Pruneda and Maria Ana Pruneda filed the attached products liability complaint, for a defective metal grate that led to the death of Matias Uriel Pruneda against Honghua International Co. Ltd., Chuanyou Guanghan Honghua Co., Ltd., Sichuan Honghua Petroleum Equipment Co., Ltd., Nabors Industries, Ltd., Nabors Drilling International Ltd., and Nabors Drilling International II Ltd.
IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES
SUPREMA—CAFC AFFIRMS ITC’S AUTHORITY IN INDUCED INFRINGEMENT IN SECTION 337 CASES
On August 10, 2015 in the attached en banc decision in Suprema, Inc. v. International Trade Commission, SUPREMA CAFC, a majority of the judges in the Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) by a 6-4 vote affirmed the ITC finding that the Commission has the authority to exclude the importation of materials that induce patent infringement even if the products are not infringing when they cross the border.
The Federal Circuit found that because Section 337 does not directly address the issue of whether the ITC can exclude articles that infringe only after importation, the ITC’s interpretation of the statute as giving it jurisdiction over such post-importation infringement should be given deference.
The case involved fingerprint scanners from Korea which at the time of importation into the United States did not infringe the patent, but when the fingerprint scanners after importation were combined with software in the United States, they did infringe the US patent.
In the original CAFC decision, the 3 judge panel held on a 2-1 basis that since the scanners did not infringe the patent at the time of importation into the United States, their importation was not a violation of section 337. The En Banc panel based on a 6-4 determination reversed the ruling of the initial 3 judge panel finding that since the statute itself does not answer the question of whether the ITC has jurisdiction over goods that infringe only after importation, deference should be given to the Commission’s reasonable interpretation of Section 337 as giving the Commission authority over goods that infringe.
As the CAFC majority stated:
We conclude that because Section 337 does not answer the question before us, the Commission’s interpretation of Section 337 is entitled to Chevron deference. We hold that the Commission’s interpretation is reasonable because it is consistent with Section 337 and Congress’ mandate to the Commission to safeguard United States commercial interests at the border. Accordingly, we return the case to the panel for further proceedings consistent with this opinion. . . .
Reading the statute unambiguously to require that infringement occur at the time of importation would have produced absurd results under the pre-1994 version of § 271(a). Such a reading would mean that Congress, when it enacted the language at issue in 1988, excluded even the ordinary case of direct infringement. . . .
For nearly 35 years, the Commission has embraced its Congressional grant as bestowing authority to investigate and take action under Section 337 based on induced infringement. At least as early as 1980, the Commission was making determinations that inducement to infringe a valid U.S. patent under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) constituted an unfair trade act under Section 337 that could be remedied by an exclusion order. . . . The Commission has persisted in its interpretation of Section 337 to the present day. . . .
The technical interpretation adopted by the panel weakens the Commission’s overall ability to prevent unfair trade acts involving infringement of a U.S. patent. The panel’s interpretation of Section 337 would eliminate relief for a distinct unfair trade act and induced infringement.
There is no basis for curtailing the Commission’s gap-filling authority in that way. Indeed, the practical consequence would be an open invitation to foreign entities (which might for various reasons not be subject to a district court injunction) to circumvent Section 337 by importing articles in a state requiring post-importation combination or modification before direct infringement could be shown.
The Commission reasonably determined that its interpretation would further the purpose of the statute. . . .
We note that our deference to the Commission’s statutory interpretation in this case is hardly momentous. The court has consistently deferred to the Commission, recognizing the Commission’s technical expertise in deciding issues arising under Section 337, a statute Congress has entrusted the agency to administer.
The Suprema case, however, is followed by Clear Correct v. ITC, which reached the CAFC after the ITC declared that the agency has the authority to stop the importation of digital files, not just physical goods. This case is presently on appeal at the CAFC, which has specifically asked the litigants to brief the issue of the impact of the Suprema decision on “the issues in this appeal.”
NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK COMPLAINTS AGAINST CHINESE, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN COMPANIES
On July 31, 2015, Kiss Nail Products, Inc. filed the attached patent complaint KISS TIANJIN PATENT CASE, against Tianjin Shuangrong Paper Products Co., Ltd. and Shuang Rong America LLC.
On August 4, 2015, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc., Boehringer Ingelheim International Gmbh, Boehringer Ingelheim Corporation, and Boehringer Ingelheim Pharma GmbH & Co. Kg filed the attached patent complaint, SMALL HEP PATENT CASE, against Chinese companies Hec Pharm Group, Hec Pharm Co., Ltd., Hec Pharm USA, Mylan Pharmaceuticals Inc., Mylan Inc., Mylan Laboratories Limited, Intas Pharmaceuticals Limited, Accord Healthcare, Inc., Aurobindo Pharma Limited, Aurobindo Pharma Usa, Inc., Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Ltd., Dr. Reddy’s Laboratories, Inc., Zydus Pharmaceuticals USA, Inc., Cadila Healthcare Ltd., MSN Laboratories Private Limited, MSN Pharmaceuticals, Inc., Prinston Pharmaceutical Inc., Solco Healthcare U.S., LLC, Huahai US Inc., Zhejiang Huahai Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd., Invagen Pharmaceuticals Inc., Sun Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd., Sun Pharma Global Fze, and Sun Pharmaceutical Industries, Inc.
On August 10, 2015, Hitek Software LLC filed the attached copyright complaint FOXCONN COPYRIGHT CASEagainst Foxconn Corp., Foxconn Interconnect Technology (USA), Inc., Foxconn Electronics, Inc. and Foxconn EMS Inc.
On August 18, 2015, Foshan Naibo Electric Product Co., Ltd., a Chinese company, and Xpower Manufacture, Inc. filed the attached patent case CHINA COMPAY SUING CHINA COMPANY, against another Chinese company, Ningbo A-One Industrial Co., Ltd.
CHINA IP AND PATENT LAW
Recently, AFD China Intellectual Property Law office in China issued the attached Newsletter, News August 2015 fr AFD, about developments in Chinese patent law.
There have been major developments in the antitrust area.
VITAMIN C CASE—COLLECTIONS PROBLEMS
As the Vitamin C case is on appeal to the Second Circuit, the Plaintiffs in the case seek to vigorously enforce their $160 million judgment against Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. On August 14, 2015, the Federal judge stated that he was tempted to place the Chinese companies, judgment debtors, into receivership because they are in contempt in contrast to continuing to beat up the US Chinese bank branches so as to get the companies’ assets in China and elsewhere.
Plaintiffs argue that the two Chinese defendants have frustrated all collection efforts to date and added that banks have used sleights of hand and hidden behind a recently strengthened “separate entity rule” to stymie subpoenas. Plaintiffs’ attorney said that the money appears to sit inside of China and pressed for a receivership as a potential new avenue to press for collection:
A receivership is materially better than sending subpoenas out [to banks] and having these fights.
In response to the Chinese argument that the two Chinese companies would face prosecution in China if the complied, the Federal judge was not willing to consider the argument:
“It is more a question of what people want at any particular time in China” and stated that it appeared the companies and the Chinese government were working together with “a nod and a wink” to frustrate collection.
The judge further stated “It’s almost like instant nationalization of a company for the protection of the local economy.”
Attached is a full transcript of the hearing, 2ND CIRCUIT LETTER THREE, before the Federal Judge, which was filed with the Second Circuit.
CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES
T&D JANUARY REPORT
In August T&D also sent us their attached July report, T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of July 2015, on Chinese competition law.
On August 17, 2015, a class action securities case was filed against Chinese Mobile Co, NQ Mobile, Inc., with allegations of mismanagement and investor fraud. The allegations are that the company has hid information from investors, diluted the stock through overvalued equity purchases and refused good faith offers to buy the business. The suit said, in particular, the company has taken to buying out small Chinese Internet firms for tens of millions of dollars in equity to expand the business and dilute shareholders without further offerings.
“This company has a few mobile applications available on iTunes with no ratings or reviews, and only 100 to 500 downloads on Google Play. No independent analysis of similar companies would value such an entity, with such a small number of product purchases, anywhere near $54 million.”
According to the complaint, NQ parted ways with its prior auditor, Price Water House Coopers China, over access to documents detailing those transactions.
“NQ Mobile has not explained why the acquisitions were made in the first place, and there is no evidence that the costs were justified and in the best interest of NQ Mobile and its shareholders.”
FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT
Recently, Dorsey & Whitney LLP issued its attached August 2015 Anti-Corruption Digest, Anti-Corruption-Digest-Aug2015.
With regards to China, the August Digest states:
Mead Johnson Nutrition Co. Settles FCPA Charges with SEC
The Illinois-based maker of Enfamil and other infant formula products, Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., has settled civil charges of FCPA violations related to its China operations. Under the terms of the settlement with the SEC, which has been entered in an administrative order, Mead Johnson disgorged $7.77 million (£4.95 million) plus $1.26 million (£800,000) prejudgment interest, and paid a $3 million (£1.9 million) penalty. The company neither admitted nor denied the charges.
According to the SEC, Mead China, Mead Johnson’s Chinese subsidiary, paid $2 million (£1.3 million) in bribes to healthcare professionals employed by state-owned hospitals in exchange for the healthcare professionals’ recommendations of its products, and for contact information for new and expectant mothers. According to the administrative order, Mead Johnson violated the books and records provisions of the FCPA by inaccurately recording these bribes as “distributor allowances”. The SEC alleges that Mead China gave steep discounts to distributors and directed the distributors to pay the state employed health care professionals.
In its order, the SEC also alleges that Mead Johnson violated the internal controls provisions by failing to have an adequate internal accounting control system. The SEC did not allege that the U.S. parent or any U.S. person knew about or coordinated the bribes, and none of the conduct was alleged to have taken place in the U.S. This lack of U.S. nexus to the alleged violations may explain why the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) has informed Mead Johnson that it has closed its parallel investigation into the bribery activity.
The SEC noted in its order that Mead Johnson had conducted but not reported an internal investigation into these allegations in 2011. When the SEC approached Mead Johnson in 2013 regarding these allegations, Mead Johnson initially failed to report its internal investigation, which had not confirmed the illegal payments.
Plaintiffs Request $62 million Avon Settlement
A group of investors have reportedly requested that a federal judge in New York approve a $62 million (£40 million) settlement in a lawsuit. The shareholders allege that Avon along with its former CEO, Andrea Jung, and former CFO, Charles Cramb, misled them about the company’s compliance with the FCPA in China.
The Chinese subsidiary in question allegedly made $8 million (£5 million) worth of payments in cash, gifts, travel, and entertainment to various Chinese officials, according to the DOJ. Avon needed the approval of the officials in order to undertake direct sales in China. The matter is ongoing.
It has been reported that, since President Xi Jinping initiated his anti-corruption campaign in 2012, Chinese authorities have returned Rmb38.7 billion ($6.2 billion/£4 billion) of funds involved in corruption matters to the state.
The Central Commission for Discipline Inspection (the “CCDI”), China’s anti-corruption body, stated that the money had been returned to the state, without specifying which government entity received it. The sums recovered are said to include confiscated bribes in the form of cash, land, gifts and fines that have been levied.
According to Han Jinping, director-general of the CCDI’s case co-ordination department, “submitting illegally obtained money to the national coffers and recovering economic losses will help correct the economic incentives distorted through corruption”.
HIRING RELATIVES OF FOREIGN GOVERNMENT OFFICIALS BECOMES AN FCPA ISSUE
In an August issue on his securities blog, Tom Gorman, a partner in Dorsey’s Washington DC office and formerly with the SEC Enforcement division, states:
The SEC has been investigating sovereign wealth funds and issues relating to the hiring of friends and family of foreign officials for some time. Now it has filed a settled action centered on both of those issues which contains a cautionary note for those who have not updated their compliance procedures in view of these inquiries. . . .
The Commission acknowledged the cooperation of BNY Mellon and its remedial acts which, prior to the SEC’s investigation, included initiating reforms to its anticorruption policy to address the hiring of government officials’ relatives.
To resolve the case Respondent consented to the entry of a cease and desist order based on the Sections cited in the Order.
In addition, BNY Mellon agreed to pay disgorgement of $8.3 million, prejudgment interest and a civil money penalty of $5 million. BNY Mellon acknowledged that a penalty of over $5 million was not imposed based on its cooperation.
For the full article, see http://www.secactions.com/sec-bny-mellon-settle-fcpa-charges-tied-to-hiring-relatives-of-officials.
On August 14, 2015, Daniel Finocchiaro filed the attached class action securities case, Complaint (7), against NQ Mobile, Inc., Henry Yu Lin, Omar Sharif Khan, Vincent Wenyong Shi, Xu Zhou, James Ding, Jun Zhang, Roland Wu, Chun Ding, William Tiewei Li, Xiuming Tao, Max Yao, Justin Chen, Ying Han, Zemin Xu, Matthew Mathison, and Bingshi Zhang.
If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade, trade adjustment assistance, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.