“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986
US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER JANUARY 13, 2016
This January newsletter will cover trade policy, trade, general litigation, 337/patents, antitrust and securities .
If anyone has any questions or wants additional information, please feel free to contact me.
TPP RUNS INTO HEADWINDS
As predicted in past blog posts, on December 28, 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Election Debate was complicating the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) in Congress. The Wall Street Journal specifically stated:
The trade agreement is expected to lead to some job losses and boost competition for some companies—including labor-intensive manufacturers and Detroit auto makers.
Still, many economists say it would generate overall gains to U.S. gross domestic product and increase incomes for many Americans in ways that improve the overall economy.
The TPP’s potential to create vocal middle-class losers makes the agreement harder to pass in an election year, since the winners, even if more numerous, are likely to be less motivated.
GOP lawmakers and officials, backed by big businesses, have more reliably supported trade agreements than Democrats, who tend to be closer to the labor movement. Among the broad electorate, blue-collar workers of both parties are skeptical of freer trade.
Recently Republican voters have emerged as bigger opponents, a shift not lost on the tea-party movement and Mr. Trump. In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 56% of Democrats said free trade is good for America, compared with 48% of Republicans.
Trade experts say Mr. Trump’s policies would make him, if elected, the biggest fan of tariffs since the late 19th century presidency of William McKinley. . . .
For Mr. Cruz or another GOP president, White House policy on trade would likely depend on whether the party is controlled by the pro-business wing that has dominated the party since World War II or shifts toward protectionist ideas espoused by Mr. Trump.
Meanwhile on December 10, 2015, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that there would be no vote on the TPP until after the election. McConnell indicated that he was undecided on the vote, but he was sure that the TPP would be defeated if it were sent to Capitol Hill next spring or summer. McConnell further stated:
“It certainly shouldn’t come before the election. I don’t think so, and I have some serious problems with what I think it is. But I think the President would be making a big mistake to try to have that voted on during the election. There’s significant pushback all over the place.
Yeah, I think it would be a big mistake to send it up before the election.
The next president, whoever that is, will have the authority to either revisit this one, if it doesn’t pass, or finish the European deal or other deals, and give Congress a chance to weigh in on it,”
McConnell who opposes the tobacco provisions in the TPP, has joined with Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), the Senate Finance Committee chairman, who was also a key supporter of the fast-track legislation, but has raised particular concerns about provisions related to pharmaceutical companies. Utah has a growing pharmaceutical industry.
McConnell’s and Hatch’s concerns have reduced the enthusiasm among the Republicans as the debate over trade policies on the 2016 campaign trail has become entangled in Presidential politics. Several top contenders for the GOP presidential nomination, including Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), have denounced the pact, and all of the Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Bernie Saunders, oppose it.
On January 7, 2016, however, the White House pushed for a TPP vote sooner rather than later, arguing for a quick vote warning that a delay of the vote to the lame-duck session of Congress or into the next administration would be a significant lost opportunity. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing that Congress should act quickly to ratify the plan amid recent turbulence in the China stock market, which some media reports have said is in its worst shape since the global financial crisis. He further stated that the best way for the U.S. economy to weather volatility in international markets is through the TPP:
“I’m not suggesting that Congress should fast-forward through that process and vote today. But I am suggesting that we should move expeditiously through this process and that Congress should not wait until the end of the year or even next year to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.”
One point in favor of TPP is that on January 4, 2016 the National Association of Manufacturers announced that they were in support of the TPP. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons stated:
“After careful analysis, the NAM will support the TPP as it will open markets and put manufacturers in a much stronger position to compete in an important and growing region of the world.
We recognize this agreement is not perfect, and there are some principled objections to the TPP, so the NAM will continue to work closely with its members to address remaining barriers.
Importantly, we encourage the administration to work closely with the industry, Congressional leaders and the other TPP governments to address these key issues.”
Subsequently, a coalition of top U.S. CEOs from the Business Roundtable gave the TPP a firm endorsement, but urged the Obama administration to quickly alter portions of the deal that are not up to par. As the Business Round Table International Engagement Committee stated:
“We want Congress to approve the TPP this year. To that end, we are urging the administration to quickly address the remaining issues that impact certain business sectors in order to ensure the broadest possible benefits to all sectors of U.S. business, which will enable the broadest support possible for the TPP.”
But in addition to tobacco and pharmaceutical problems in the TPP, another issue is banking and data flows. On January 12, 2016, in a letter to three Cabinet Secretaries, a bipartisan group of 63 Congressional representatives urged the Obama administration officials to correct the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s exclusion of financial services from the agreement’s e-commerce chapter, warning that the current text of the deal leaves banks exposed to risky data storage rules. The letter stated:
“Omission of these disciplines in the TPP is a missed opportunity to ensure that all U.S. companies benefit from strong rules prohibiting localization requirements. We note that such disciplines can be included in trade agreements while maintaining the ability of U.S. regulators to protect consumers through prudential regulation.”
The TPP’s e-commerce chapter contains a general ban on the localization of data through the establishment of expensive in-country servers. But the lawmakers argued that the banking, insurance and securities industries are not different from other sectors that depend on the unimpeded flow of data to keep their businesses running in the World marketplace. The letter further states:
“These types of requirements not only impair the competitiveness of U.S. companies but also reduce overall data security and create inefficiencies. We request that your agencies use all available measures to address the existing gaps in the TPP. In addition, going forward, we request that there be a single approach that prohibits localization requirements in future trade and investment agreements.”
Recently, John Brinkley writing for Forbes rebutted many of the Arguments against the TPP. See http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2016/01/13/for-trans-pacific-partnership-opponents-noting-short-of-perfect-will-suffice/#29e99cb6563d433c578b563d
TPP TEXT AND TRADE ADVISORY REPORTS
On November 5, 2015, the United States Trade Representative Office (“USTR”) released the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (“TPP”). This is an enormous trade agreement covering 12 countries, including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, and covers 40% of the World’s economy. To read more about the TPP and the political negotiations behind the Agreement see past blog posts.
On November 5th, the Treasury Department released the attached text of the Currency Manipulation side deal, Press Release – 12 Nation Statement on Joint Declaration Press Release – Joint Declaration Fact Sheet TPP_Currency_November 2015,
On December 2nd and 3rd, 2015 various trade advisory groups operating under the umbrella of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) Group issued reports on the impact of the TPP on various industries and legal areas. All the reports can be found at https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/trans-pacific-partnership/advisory-group-reports-TPP and many of the reports are attached here, ITAC-16-Standards-and-Technical-Barriers-to-Trade Labor-Advisory-Committee-for-Trade-Negotiations-and-Trade-Policy ITAC-15-Intellectual-Property ITAC-9-Building-Materials-Construction-and-Non-Ferrous-Metals ITAC-10-Services-and-Finance-Industries ITAC-12-Steel ITAC-11-Small-and-Minority-Business ITAC-14-Customs-Matters-and-Trade-Facilitation ITAC-8-Information-and-Communication-Technologies-Services-and-Electronic-Commerce ITAC-6-Energy-and-Energy-Services ITAC-2-Automobile-Equipment-and-Capital-Goods ITAC-3-Chemicals-Pharmaceuticals-Health-Science-Products-and-Services ITAC-5-Distribution-Services Intergovernmental-Policy-Advisory-Committee-on-Trade ATAC-Sweeteners-and-Sweetener-Products ATAC-Grains-Feed-Oilseed-and-Planting-Seeds ATAC-Processed-Foods ATAC-Fruits-and-Vegetables ATAC-Animals-and-Animal-Products Agricultural-Policy-Advisory-Committee. Almost all of the reports are favorable, except for the Steel Report, which takes no position, and the Labor Advisory Report, which is opposed because it is the position of the Unions.
NEW TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL
On December 9, 2015, in the attached announcement, Trade-and-Environment-Policy-Advisory-Committee.pdf, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member, Ron Wyden, announced a final agreement on the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.
A copy of the bill, the conference report and summary of the bill are attached, Summary of TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2015 CONFERENCE REPORT TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 20152 JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE. The bill has not yet passed the Senate.
CHINA’S NME STATUS—ANOTHER HOT TOPIC FOR 2016
Interest groups on both sides of the issue have increased their political attacks in the debate over China’s market economy status. On December 11, 2016, pursuant to the WTO Agreement, the 15 year provision, expires.
More specifically, the United States faces a looming deadline under the WTO Agreement with regard to the application of this nonmarket economy methodology to China. Section 15 of the China WTO Accession Agreement, which originated from the US China WTO Accession Agreement, provides:
- Price Comparability in Determining Subsidies and Dumping . . .
(a) In determining price comparability under Article VI of the GATT 1994 and the Anti-Dumping Agreement, the importing WTO Member shall use either Chinese prices or costs for the industry under investigation or a methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices or costs in China based on the following rules: . . .
(ii) The importing WTO Member may use a methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices or costs in China if the producers under investigation cannot clearly show that market economy conditions prevail in the industry producing the like product with regard to manufacture, production and sale of that product. . . .
(d) Once China has established, under the national law of the importing WTO Member, that it is a market economy, the provisions of subparagraph (a) shall be terminated provided that the importing Member’s national law contains market economy criteria as of the date of accession. In any event, the provisions of subparagraph (a)(ii) shall expire 15 years after the date of accession. In addition, should China establish, pursuant to the national law of the importing WTO Member, that market economy conditions prevail in a particular industry or sector, the non-market economy provisions of subparagraph (a) shall no longer apply to that industry or sector.
In other words, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, Commerce’s right to us a nonmarket economy methodology “shall expire 15 years after the date of accession”. China acceded to the WTO on December 11, 2001 so Section 15(d) should kick in on December 11, 2016.
That provision specifies that an importing WTO member may use a methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices and costs in China to determine normal value in an AD case, if producers of a given product under investigation cannot clearly show that market economy conditions prevail in their industry.
The question that is now being debated is whether Section 15(d) automatically ends the possibility of using a non-market economy methodology to China or if it can still be applied if petitioners can show that market conditions do not prevail for producers of the product under investigation.
In November 2015 European Union Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska told the European Parliament that geopolitical considerations must be weighed against the industrial interests of the EU in the evaluation of extending market economy status (NME) to China.
On October 30, 2015, it was reported that during a visit to China, German Chancellor Angela Merkel backs more ‘market economy status’ for China – with certain conditions. More specifically, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated:
“Germany supports, in general, China’s claim to get the market economy status. At the same time China has to do some homework, for example in the area of public procurement. But we want to advance the process – as we want to do that with the EU-China investment agreement.”
Under the NME methodology, administering authorities in countries administering antidumping laws, such as the US Commerce Department, do not use actual costs and prices in China to determine antidumping rates. Instead the administering authorities use values in various surrogate countries, which in the Commerce Department’s case, can change between preliminary and final determinations and various review investigations to determine the foreign value. As a result, neither the Commerce Department nor other foreign countries can know whether China is truly dumping.
The European Union Industry commission is seen as strongly favoring a change to market economy status for China, but the European parliament has not taken such a strong stand.
In the U.S., the Commerce Department has taken the position that it will not automatically bestow market economy status on China, but will consider if it meets the statutory criteria for doing so in the context of a specific case if it receives a properly filed petition.
Other countries that are not likely to bestow automatic market economy status to China at the end of 2016 are Japan, Canada, Brazil and India.
On Dec. 30, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang made clear that China is pushing for the granting of market economy status, stating:
“We hope that the EU can set a good example in obeying the WTO rules and take substantive actions to meet its obligations under Article 15 of the Protocol, which will also facilitate the development of China-EU economic and trade ties.”
Steel industries and unions in both the US and EU are fighting hard against giving China market economy status. As indicated below, steel experts have been pointing to the large overcapacity of the Chinese steel industry. But with almost all Chinese steel blocked from entry into the US by large antidumping and countervailing duties, it is questionable how much weight such arguments will be given.
The only two major Chinese steel products still coming into the US are galvanized and cold-rolled steel, and based on surrogate values, Commerce just issued very high antidumping and countervailing duty rates against both products, wiping them out of the US market. Currently, if not all, almost all, steel products from China are covered by an AD order and often also a CVD order, including carbon steel plate, hot rolled carbon steel flat products, circular welded carbon quality steel pipe, light walled rectangular pipe and tube, circular welded carbon quality steel line pipe, circular welded austenitic stainless pressure pipe, steel threaded rod, oil country tubular goods, prestressed concrete steel wire strand, seamless carbon and alloy steel standard line and pressure pipe, high pressure steel cylinders, prestreessed concrete steel rail tire wire, non-oriented electrical steel, and carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod.
On Dec. 22, the United Steelworkers (“USW”) union, according to a USW press release, held a private meeting in Minnesota with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, as well as Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Al Franken (D-MN), at which they discussed the “urgency of federal, state and local government authorities to provide more immediate relief against the global onslaught of steel imports that have shut down half of the region’s steel sector mining jobs,” Emil Ramirez, director for USW District 11 — which covers Midwestern states including Minnesota, Missouri and Montana — said at the meeting that the union is “at war with China’s illegal steel imports flooding into our market.” He added that China had in some months in 2015 dumped more than 100,000 tons of cold-rolled steel into the U.S. market, contributing to mining job losses in Northern Minnesota’s so-called “Iron Range” A day later, the union welcomed what it called a “whopping” 255.8% preliminary AD rate on Chinese corrosion-resistant steel based on surrogate values, despite the fact that all the other antidumping rates against other countries based on actual prices and costs were in the single digits or 0s.
On October 26, 2015, Leo Gerard, who heads the Steel Union, sent the following attached letter,USW CHINA NME , to USTR Michael Froman about steel imports and China’s market economy status:
Dear Ambassador Froman:
I am writing to you regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the potential for U.S manufacturing interests to be adversely affected by how the European Union (EU) may change its current treatment of the People’s Republic of China (China) as a non-market economy.
As you well know, under the terms of China’s Protocol of Access to the World Trade Organization, other WTO members had the right to treat the PRC as a non-market economy (NME) for purposes of antidumping and countervailing duty laws. One clause regarding the treatment of China expires on December 11, 2016, but the remaining language continues to operate. This has led to an active effort by China to end its treatment as a non-market economy by those countries which continue to treat it as such so as to gain preferential treatment. The media has suggested that while the EU has not decided how it will proceed, an internal EU memo argues for granting market economy treatment. This memo is not yet public. How China is treated under U.S. and EU antidumping laws is critical to workers and companies in both countries. With massive distortions in most aspects of the Chinese economy, changing China’s status before their economy in fact operates on market principles on a sustained and verifiable basis will have far reaching consequences for workers, companies and communities across the U.S. and the EU. If the EU makes a change in treatment of China under its antidumping law when China has not in fact truly engaged in comprehensive reform of its economy, there will be broad repercussions for how fair market conditions will be assessed in Europe and, in terms of U.S. exports to the EU, could result in dramatically lower opportunities for the export of America’s manufactured products.
As noted, press reports indicate that the EU is considering granting China market economy status in the near future, despite overwhelming evidence of the continued state-led direction, intervention, subsidization and control of that country’s economy and its firms. If the EU chooses to grant China this preferential status, either for the country as a whole or for individual sectors or firms, it will subject U.S. products to a potential risk of having to compete against unfairly traded products in the EU and, potentially, as components in products shipped to the U.S. or to third country markets. Thus, the EU’s decisions in this area must be addressed as part of the ongoing TTIP negotiations and that any alterations in their treatment of China as a NME be subject to dispute resolution and potential compensation for any adverse effects it may have on the U.S., producers and workers
The TPP negotiations have overshadowed the TTIP negotiations and, as a result, many important issues are receiving limited attention. The EU’s potential actions in this area must not be viewed simply as a matter for the EU Commission to consider but, rather, must be addressed in terms of their potential impact on the U.S. manufacturing sector and its employees.
I look forward to working with you on this important matter.
Leo W. Gerard
CHINA CURRENCY APPROVED BY THE INTERENATIONAL MONETARY FUND AS A MAIN WORLD CURRENCY
In the past, one of the arguments that Commerce has used to deny China market economy status is that the Chinese yuan/RMB is not convertible. On November 30, 2015, however, in the attached announcement, IMF PRESS RELEASE, the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) announced that the Chinese renminbi will become the fifth currency to be included in the organization’s international reserve asset that supplements member countries’ official reserves.
As the IMF stated the renminbi, or RMB, will join the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound on Oct. 1, 2016, in a basket of currencies known as the Special Drawing Right, which plays a critical role in providing liquidity to the global economic system, especially during financial crises, the IMF said.
IMF managing director Christine Lagarde stated that the executive board’s decision is “an important milestone” recognizing China’s integration in the international financial system:
“It is also a recognition of the progress that the Chinese authorities have made in the past years in reforming China’s monetary and financial systems. The continuation and deepening of these efforts will bring about a more robust international monetary and financial system, which in turn will support the growth and stability of China and the global economy.”
Lagarde’s decision was based on a paper prepared by IMF staff, which determined that the RMB is a “freely usable” currency.
The IMF. designation, an accounting unit known as the special drawing rights, bestows global importance. Many central banks follow this benchmark in building their reserves, which countries hold to help protect their economies in times of trouble. By adding the renminbi to this group, the IMF effectively considers a currency to be safe and reliable.
EXIM BANK RISES FROM THE DEAD BUT THEN RUNS INTO A NEW ROADBLOCK
Congress let the Export-Import (“EXIM”) Bank’s lending authority expire after June 30, but a number of Republicans in the House of Representatives, including Congressman Dave Reichert, currently Chairman Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means, joined Democrats to force a vote in October to resurrect the Bank. The House attached Ex-Im to a highway funding bill and stopped ten amendments that would have limited the bank’s scope. This highway/Ex-Im bill passed the House 363 to 64. In December negotiators from both chambers of Congress reached an agreement that revived the bank’s lending authority through Sept. 30, 2019.
On December 3, 2015, the Senate passed the Transportation Bill with the Reauthorization of the EX-IM Bank, and on December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the bill into law.
The arguments for the EX-IM Bank are many, as Steve Myrow, who used to work at the EXIM Bank, stated in an Article in The Hill on July 9, 2014:
The debate over reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank has become the latest proxy battle between the conservative and establishment wings of the Republican Party. However, this issue should not be used as an ideological litmus test. Instead, it should evoke a practical and constructive dialogue about how best to level the playing field for American businesses overseas while protecting taxpayers here at home.
Founded in 1934, the Export-Import Bank’s mission has not changed throughout its 80-year history. Its raison d’être has always been to create jobs at home by financing the sale of American goods and services abroad. Ex-Im Bank does not compete with private-sector lenders, but rather seeks to match the foreign government support that U.S. firms’ foreign competitors enjoy.
When I served in the bank’s leadership in President George W. Bush’s administration, our overarching goal was to steer the bank between two beacons — one focused on creating jobs and the other on protecting the taxpayers.
We believed, as did members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, that an ideal way to navigate these two beacons was to convert the bank into one of the only truly self-sustaining government agencies.
By making the bank stand on its own two feet and rely solely on its revenue stream to fund its operations, we not only made it possible for companies to grow high-quality domestic jobs, but we earned a profit for the taxpayers.
Few government agencies can claim to have reduced the deficit, a fact that should be especially welcome during the current era of austerity.
Nevertheless, some of the bank’s Congressional detractors argue that it distorts the market by providing a subsidy. It’s true that in a perfect market, subsidies should not exist. But unfortunately, the real world is not a perfect market. Most countries that meaningfully benefit from international trade provide varying degrees of export subsidies.
Some identify specific firms as their national champions and others, like China, even provide financing on terms more akin to development assistance.
To put it another way, should the U.S. unilaterally disarm just because atomic weapons are undesirable? Of course not. We need a nuclear arsenal because other countries have them. The same is true for maintaining an export credit agency. Ex-Im Bank’s role is to ensure that U.S. exporters get a fair chance to compete based on quality, price and service, rather than on the basis of financing assistance.
For the full article, see http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international/211664-congress-should-bank-on-success
But despite the many arguments in favor of the EXIM bank and the passage of the reauthorization, EXIM is not out of the woods yet. Senator Shelby, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has held up nominations for the EXIM bank Board of Directors. Because there is no quorum, the failure to appoint a new director means that no large projects, such as the sale of Boeing airplanes or sales of GE products, can be approved.
EXIM’s board of directors has only two of the five members it is supposed to have, including Chairman Fred Hochberg. That means it cannot approve loans above $10 million, which make up about a third, value-wise, of EXIM’s transactions.
More specifically, Democrats have sought consent for the nomination of Patricia Loui-Schmicker to the EXIM Bank board of directors, despite the fact that the White House sought a second term for her in March 2015. Loui-Schmicker is needed to give the Ex-Im bank five-member board a quorum. The panel reviews Ex-Im Bank loans above $10 million.
On January 11th, President Obama withdrew the nomination of Democrat Loui-Schmicker and nominated John Mark Mcwatters, a former staffer to House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, to fill one of the vacant Republican seats on the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors. McWatters’ former boss, Hensarling, chairman of the House’s Financial Services Committee, has led efforts to shut down the Export-Import Bank.
Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, who opposed Ex-Im’s reauthorization last year, however, has expressed little interest in acting on any nominees to fill its board openings. On January 11, 2016, Senator Shelby indicated that clearing the panel’s backlog of nominees might not see much progress before his March 1 primary in Alabama, stating, “I’m in the primary now. That’s what’s going to eat a lot of my time up – always does.”
When asked about the McWatters nomination, to fill one of the vacant Republican seats on the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors, Shelby stated, “I’m in a primary right now. We’re in no hurry to hold hearings.”
As Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown stated, “The Ex-Im Bank can’t operate because the Senate Banking Committee won’t do its job.”
No wonder Boeing is going to manufacture airplanes in China.
ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS FINAL 2013-2014 REVIEW INVESTIGATION
On November 20, 2015, the Commerce Department issued the attached final determination in the 2013-2014 antidumping review investigation of aluminum extrusions from China, ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS FINAL. Based on surrogate values, Commerce issued antidumping rates of 86.01%, but for companies that did not cooperate, Commerce issued antidumping rates of only 33.28%.
In addition, in the attached Countervailing Final Determination for 2013, CVD Aluminum Extrusions 2013 Final Review Notice.3424528-01 CVD Aluminum Extrusions 2013 Decision Memo.3424530-01, Commerce issued a countervailing duty rate ranging from 3.59% to 222.82% with most companies receiving a rate of 61.36% rate.
MEXICO ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS PROBLEM
Meanwhile, US producers are growing concerned over a large stockpile of aluminum extrusions at a casting facility in Mexico. Aluminicaste Fundición de México S. de RL de CV, a producer of secondary billet, slab and forging billet, is storing around 850,000 tonnes of aluminum extrusions at its San José Iturbide, Mexico, facility.
It was reported that the extrusions had been shipped directly from extrusion plants in China and were being remelted into billet at the Mexico facility. The source told the American Metals Market:
“Yes, it’s about 850,000 (tonnes) on the ground. The quality of the metal is very good. It’s coming from billets that are extruded in China, shipped to Mexico, and made back into billet. They are currently casting at full capacity, which is about 100,000 (tonnes) per year.”
“It’s a lot of metal. Even me, I have not seen that much metal before. It was 300,000 (tonnes) about a year ago and quickly grew to 850,000 (tonnes).”
The practice of importing extrusions from China and remelting them into billet is not illegal or known to violate any law.
NEW TRADE CASES COMING—RAW ALUMINUM
In light of the impact of the aluminum extrusions case on the US market, the import problem has now moved upstream. The next round of antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China looks like it will be on raw aluminum products.
As indicated in the attached letter, NEW ALUMINUM CASES COMING, on November 24, 2015, the US Aluminum Association and the Canadian Aluminum Producers complained about Chinese aluminum production and the subsidies they receive:
Dear Secretary Kerry and Minister McKenna,
We write to you representing aluminum producers in the United States and Canada. We are concerned about China’s state-planned and carbon intensive aluminum industry which has amassed considerable overproduction. This not only leads to a distortion of international trade impacting our entire value chain, but also undermines global efforts to decarbonize the economy. . . .
Only ten years ago China supplied 24% of the world’s primary aluminum. Today, spurred by energy subsidies, Chinese manufacturers have more than doubled their output and supply 52% of all primary aluminum produced globally. At the same time, this massive increase in production entails a significant environmental consequence.
Aluminum production in China is the most carbon intensive in the world, with its coal-based smelters emitting significantly more greenhouse gases per ton of aluminum than its North American counterparts. In fact, a ton of aluminum produced in China is at least twice as carbon-intensive as that same metal produced in North America. Given the rapid expansion of high-carbon aluminum production in China, many of the efficiency and emission reduction gains made by the global aluminum industry over the last several decades are being offset. . . .
The U.S. and Canadian aluminum industry is concerned that overproduction in China will continue unabated and is insufficiently regulated. These commitments represent a critical opportunity for China to advance energy efficiency and emissions reductions targets in support of global commitments to address climate change.
We appreciate your support to help us to reestablish fair trade conditions and to make a significant contribution to advancing a low-carbon global economy. . . .
Letters, like this, are usually a sign that an antidumping/countervailing duty case is coming. In addition, US aluminum producers have launched a new China Trade Task Force with their target being “illegal” Chinese government subsidies. In a letter to USTR Michael Froman, the US producers asked USTR to intervene on behalf of an industry that supports thousands of jobs:
“Illegal Chinese subsidies — such as direct grants, interest free loans, transfers of low cost state owned land, and preferential regulatory treatment — have collapsed the global price of aluminum.
This price drop has forced aluminum smelters across the United States to close while Chinese government continues to prop-up its producers through these unfair and illegal subsidies.”
THE ONGOING STEEL CASES
Many companies have been asking me about the ongoing Steel antidumping and countervailing duty cases so this section will address the Steel cases in more detail.
As happened in the OCTG cases, where Chinese OCTG was simply replaced by imports from Korea, India, Taiwan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Thailand and Turkey, the same scenario is happening in other steel cases, such as the recent cold-rolled and corrosion-resistant/galvanized steel cases.
Based on the nonmarket economy antidumping methodology, which does not use actual prices and costs in China, in the two recent cases Chinese steel companies were smashed with high antidumping rates of 200 to 300 percent. In the Cold Rolled Steel countervailing duty case, the Chinese companies and Chinese government simply gave up and received a rate over 200%.
But all the other countries, including Russia, which has market economy status, received antidumping rates in the single digits or 0s for no dumping. Steel will continue to flow into the United States in large amounts because such small antidumping and countervailing duty rates simply will have no effect.
The decisions also indicate why the Unions and the Steel industry will fight very hard in Congress and before the Administration to push the Commerce Department to continue using the nonmarket economy methodology against China. It easy for Commerce to find dumping when it uses fake numbers/surrogate values from third countries, which have no relationship to actual prices and costs in China.
COLD ROLLED STEEL FROM CHINA, BRAZIL, KOREA, INDIA AND RUSSIA
On December 16, 2015, Commerce issued its attached preliminary countervailing duty determination, factsheet-multiple-cold-rolled-steel-flat-products-cvd-prelim-121615, in Certain Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Brazil, China, India, and Russia and No Countervailable Subsidization of Imports of Certain Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Korea. The effect of the case is to wipe all Chinese cold rolled steel out of the United States with a countervailing duty (CVD) rate of 227.29%.
The 227.29% CVD rate for all the Chinese companies was based on all facts available as the Chinese government and the Chinese steel companies simply refused to cooperate realizing that it was a futile exercise to fight the case at Commerce because of the surrogate value methodology and refusal to use actual prices and costs in China.
As also predicted, the countervailing duty rates for all the other countries were very low, if not nonexistent: Brazil 7.42% for all companies, India 4.45% for all companies, Korea 0 for all companies and Russia 0 to 6.33% for all companies.
CORROSION RESISTANT STEEEL PRODUCTS—GALVANIZED STEEL PRODUCTS FROM CHINA, INDIA, ITALY, KOREA AND TAIWAN
On December 22, 2015, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-multiple-corrosion-resistant-steel-products-122215, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) investigations of imports of corrosion-resistant steel products from China, India, Italy, and Korea, and its negative preliminary determination in the AD investigation of imports of corrosion-resistant steel products from Taiwan.
China received antidumping rates of 255.8%, but antidumping rates from the other countries were very low.
India received rates ranging from 6.64 to 6.92%. Italy received rates from 0 to 3.11%. Korea received rates from 2.99 to 3.51%. Taiwan’s antidumping rates were all 0s.
Although the US industry was pleased with the rate against China, AK Steel Corp. stated, “we are disappointed that the preliminary dumping margins for India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan were not higher as they do not appear to adequately address the dumping that we believe is occurring in the U.S. market.”
Because Commerce uses market economy methodology in antidumping cases against these countries, companies in those countries can use computer programs to eliminate or reduce significantly their antidumping rates. Foreign steel companies know they will be targeted by US antidumping and countervailing duty cases, and, therefore, prepare for such suits by eliminating the unfair acts.
The fact that the antidumping and countervailing duty rates in these cases are so low strongly indicate that the US Steel Industry’s problem is not steel imports. The problem is the US steel industry’s failure to modernize their facilities and remain competitive with the rest of the world.
In the parallel countervailing duty investigation, certain Chinese companies earned margins exceeding 235 percent while Taiwanese producers were given no CVD rates at all.
HOW NME METHODOLOGY IN ANTIDUMPING CASES LEADS TO OVER CAPACITY IN CHINESE STEEL AND ALUMINUM INDUSTRIES
Meanwhile, US experts complain about Chinese overcapacity in the Steel and Aluminum industries. In a December 1, 2015 article, one expert, Terence P. Stewart, Law Offices of Stewart and Stewart, which represents the Unions and various steel companies in US antidumping and countervailing cases against China, including the recent Off the Road Tires case against China, complained about Chinese overcapacity in the Steel and Aluminum industries and their distortive impact on the World steel and aluminum markets stating:
In the United States, the domestic steel industry is in the midst of a major crisis as they try to deal with waves of imports that seem to flow directly (i.e., imports from China) and indirectly (i.e., from other countries facing import challenges from China in their home markets and hence expanding their exports) from massive excess capacity in China and in other countries. . . .
The story is being repeated in the aluminum sector as well with many unwrought aluminum facilities being closed in the US and other western countries in recent years and some trade cases being filed. Indeed, Alcoa recently announced the idling of three facilities in the U.S. (New York and Washington) with a capacity of more than a half million tons —a significant portion of the remaining capacity in the United States. The problem again flows from massive excess capacity in China.
In both sectors, the underlying facts are similar. In the late 1990s, Chinese capacity amounted to 10-15 percent of global capacity. With massive government incentives, state ownership and support, by 2014 each industry had ballooned to have more than half of global capacity having accounted for nearly 80 percent of global capacity expansions. . . .
Without concerted efforts by China itself and its trading partners, the balance will be achieved only at the expense of countries that had nothing to do with the creation of the problem — a grossly inequitable and economically and politically unacceptable outcome. . . .
The Article goes on to complain that China should do this and do that, such as establishing “voluntary export restraints on all product sectors where it has serious excess capacity to reduce the problems it has created for its trading partners” and “China could implement the many remaining reforms needed to have its economy actually operate on market forces.” It should be noted that voluntary export restraints and prices floors are export restraints, which are specifically prohibited in the China-WTO Agreement. In fact, when in the past the Chinese government tried to set price floors to deter dumping, the US government took the Chinese government to the WTO and US antitrust cases were filed against the Chinese companies.
The Article goes on to state:
All of China’s major trading partners need to encourage China to solve its internal problem quickly. Trading partners need to be prepared to act quickly to apply such pressure as will enable China to overcome any internal reluctance to face the significant challenges. This means using the tools that currently exist, including WTO disputes, to make clear the enormous damage being done to others by China’s subsidy practices. . . .
Finally, the U.S., EU and other trading partners with trade remedy laws that have found China to be a nonmarket economy, should ensure that their industries and workers can obtain the full measure of trade remedy relief existing laws, regulations and practices provide until such time as China has in fact achieved the serious reforms still needed for its economy to work on market principles.
Unfortunately, US industries and domestic experts never ask the real question. Why should the Chinese government and Chinese companies listen to these complaints when the US government and governments in other countries continue to attack China using antidumping and countervailing duty cases based on fake numbers?
As indicated above, US antidumping and countervailing duty orders and ongoing cases have the effect of blocking almost 100% of Chinese steel from the US market. Since the US steel industry, the Unions and their representatives have declared a trade war with China, why should the Chinese government and companies listen to the United States?
In talking with Chinese Government officials in the past, they told me that US antidumping cases could be ok because they could be used to regulate Chinese production. Some Chinese companies undoubtedly are truly dumping. If Chinese companies get hit with real very high antidumping rates based on actual prices and costs in China, that could cause the company to shut down.
But when antidumping cases are based on phony numbers/surrogate values, which have no relationship to the actual situation in China, the US government creates a game and the Chinese government and the Chinese companies will simply play or not play the game. But they will not listen to sanctimonious arguments from US experts, who do not want the Chinese to compete on a level playing field with the US and other countries, such as Russia and Iran, and instead want to continue a trade war with China based on fake numbers.
SOLAR CELLS REVIEW DETERMINATION
On December 18, 2015, in the attached decision, the Commerce Department issued its preliminary determination in the 2013-2014 Solar Cells antidumping review investigation, SOLAR CELLS AD PRELIM. The antidumping rates range from 4.53% for Trina to 11.47% for Yingli. The average dumping rate for the Chinese separate rate companies is 7.27%.
On December 31, 2015, Commerce issued its attached preliminary determination in the 2013 Countervailing duty case, DOC SOLAR CVD 2013, and the rates went up to 19.62% for three Chinese companies–JA Solar Technology Yangzhou Co., Ltd., Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd. and Wuxi Suntech Power Co., Ltd.
DRAWN STAINLESS STEEL SINKS FINAL
In the attached decision, on November 10, 2015, Commerce issued its final determination in the first 2012-2014 review in the Drawn Stainless Steel Sinks case with antidumping rates ranging from 2.82 to 9.83%, AD STEEL SINKS 2012-2014FED REG., AD DECISION MEMO 2012-2014
In addition, the countervailing duty rate for one company, Guangdong Dongyuan Kitchenware Industrial Co., Ltd. is 9.83%. SeeCVD SINKS 2012-2013FEDREG
CIT REMANDS GLYCINE CASE BACK TO COMMERCE BECAUSE OF ITS PUNITIVE 453% ANTIDUMPING RATE.
On November 3, 2015, in Baoding Mantong Fine Chemistry Co., Ltd. v. United States, the Court of International Trade in the attached decision, BAODING VS US PUNITIVE CALCULATION, reversed the Commerce Department’ s determination in Glycine from China, holding that Commerce had issued a 453% punitive tariff against Baoding in violation of the remedial purpose of the statute. As the CIT stated:
“The court rules that Commerce failed to fulfill its obligation to determine the most accurate margin possible when it assigned Baoding a weighted average dumping margin of 453.79%, which on the record of this case was not realistic in any commercial or economic sense and punitive in its effect. The court directs Commerce to determine a new margin for Baoding that is the most accurate margin possible, that is grounded in the commercial and economic reality surrounding the production and sale of Baoding’s subject merchandise, and that is fair, equitable, and not so large as to be punitive.”
As Judge Stanceu further stated:
“In assigning Baoding such a huge margin, Commerce has lost sight of the purpose of the antidumping duty statute, which is remedial, not punitive. The 453.79 percent margin is undeniably punitive in effect, regardless of the department’s intent, and it violates the department’s obligation to treat every party before it fairly and equitably as well as the obligation to arrive at the most accurate margin possible.”
Judge Stanceu said the agency was misstating the law, and that the facts demonstrate that the margin assigned is “commercially impossible.”
ROLLR BEARINGS PRODUCED IN THAILAND FROM CHINA SUBPARTS CANNOT BE COVERED BY BEARINGS ORDER AGAINST CHINA
On December 22, 2015 in the attached decision, Peer Bearing Company-Changshan v. United States,PEER BEARING CASE, the Court of International Trade held that roller bearings made in Thailand from Chinese parts were not subject to an anti-dumping duty order against Chinese bearings because the production process in Thailand had the effect of substantially transforming the roller bearings into a product of Thailand, not China.
MELAMINE FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY ORDERS
On December 1, 2015, Commerce issued the attached antidumping and countervailing duty orders against Melamine from China, MELAMINE AD ORDERS. The Antidumping rate for China is 363.31% and the Countervailing Duties range from 154 to 156.9%.
LARGE RESIDENTIAL WASHERS FROM CHINA
On December 16, 2015, Whirlpool filed a major antidumping and countervailing duty case against Large Residential Washers from China. According to the Petition, the real target companies are the Korean companies, Samsung and LG, and their production facilities in China.
The specific products covered by the petition are:
the term “large residential washers” denotes all automatic clothes washing machines, regardless of the orientation of the rotational axis, with a cabinet width (measured from its widest point) of at least 24.5 inches (62.23 em) and no more than 32.0 inches (81.28 em), except as noted below.
Also covered are certain parts used in large residential washers, namely: (1) all cabinets, or portions thereof, designed for use in large residential washers; (2) all assembled tubs designed for use in large residential washers which incorporate, at a minimum: (a) a tub; and (b) a seal; (3) all assembled baskets 11 designed for use in large residential washers which incorporate, at a minimum: (a) a side wrapper; 12 (b) a base; and (c) a drive hub; 13 and (4) any combination of the foregoing parts or subassemblies.
Excluded from the scope are stacked washer-dryers and commercial washers. The term “stacked washer-dryers” denotes distinct washing and drying machines that are built on a unitary frame and share a common console that controls both the washer and the dryer. The term “commercial washer” denotes an automatic clothes washing machine designed for the “pay per use” segment . . .
The relevant pages of the petition, including the full scope, the list of Chinese exporters and US importers, are attached, Whirlpool Petition Scope Exporters Importers 121615.
NEW OFF THE REOAD TIRES CASE
On January 8, 2016, Titan Tire Corporation (Titan) and the United Steel, Paper, and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, ALF-CIO (USW) filed a new antidumping and countervailing duty case against Pneumatic Off-the-Road Tires from India, China and Sri Lanka. The relevant parts of the petition, including the scope and the list of Chinese exporters and US importers, are attached, US Importers Pneumatic Tires Petition Volume I General Issues Injury Cover Scope 1-8-16 Chinese Exporters Pneumatic Tires .
The specific products covered by this antidumping and countervailing duty case are:
New pneumatic tires designed for off-the-road (OTR) and off-highway use, subject to exceptions identified below. Certain OTR tires are generally designed, manufactured and offered for sale for use on off-road or off-highway surfaces, including but not limited to, agricultural fields, forests, construction sites, factory and warehouse interiors, airport tarmacs, ports and harbors, mines, quarries, gravel yards, and steel mills. . . . .
While the physical characteristics of certain OTR tires will vary depending on·the specific applications and conditions for which the tires are designed (e.g., tread pattern and depth), all of the tires within the scope have in common that they are designed for off-road and off-highway use.
Except as discussed below, OTR tires included in the scope of the proceeding range in size (rim diameter) generally but not exclusively from 8 inches to 54 inches. The tires may be either tube-type40 or tubeless, radial or non-radial, and intended for sale either to original equipment manufacturers or the replacement market.
Certain OTR tires, whether or not attached to wheels or rims, are included in the scope. However, if a subject tire is imported attached to a wheel or rim, only the tire is covered by the scope. Subject merchandise includes certain OTR tires produced in the subject countries whether attached to wheels or rims in a subject country or in a third country. . . .
This is the second antidumping and countervailing duty case the USW has filed against off-the-road tires from China. The USW stated that un-mounted off-the-road tires from China are already covered by antidumping and countervailing duty orders, but that mounted tires from China are not subject to those duties. Thus, this second case has been brought to close the loophole.
Some of the Chinese companies named in the complaint are: BDP Intl Ltd (China), Betel Holding Group, Lizhong Group, Qingdao Huifuxin Tyre, Qingdao J & G International Trading Co., Qingdao Keter Tyre, Qingdao Milestone Tyres Co., Ltd., Qingdao Rhino International Co., Ltd., Qingdao STW Tire Co., Ltd., Qingdao Tide Tire, Shandong Hawk International Rubber Industry Co., Ltd., Shandong Taishan Tyre Co., Ltd. Shandong Zhaoyuan Shengrun Wheel Assembly Co., Ltd. Shandong guanxian Cartwheel Co., Ltd., Shenzhen CJG Model Products, THI Group Ltd., Trans Knight Inc., relleborg China/Trelleborg Wheel Systems (Xingtai) Ltd. , Weifang Jintongda Tyre Co., Ltd., Weifang Lutong Rubber Co., Ltd., Weihai Zhongwei Rubber Co., Ltd., Wendeng Sanfeng Tyre Co., Ltd., Wenling Yaoding Machinery Co., Ltd., Wuxi Kinetic Machinery Co., Ltd., Wuxi Superior Wheel Company LLC, Xingyuan Tire Group, Yantai Wonray Rubber Tire Co. Ltd.
JANUARY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS
On January 4, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, DOC JAN 2016 REVOEW INVESTIGATIONS AD AND CVD OPPTY, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of January . The specific antidumping cases against China are: Calcium Hypochlorite, Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod, Crepe Paper Products, Ferrovanadium, Folding Gift Boxes, Potassium Permanganate, and Wooden Bedroom Furniture.
The specific countervailing duty cases are: Calcium Hypochlorite, Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod, Certain Oil Country Tubular Goods, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe.
For those US import companies that imported Calcium Hypochlorite, Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod, Crepe Paper Products, Ferrovanadium, Folding Gift Boxes, Potassium Permanganate, and Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China during the antidumping period January 1, 2015-December 31, 2015 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 298:
(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.
GENERAL LITIGATION AND ARIBITRATION
DORSEY VICTORY IN SUPREME COURT HELPS FOREIGN COMPANIES
On December 1, 2015 the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that Dorsey’s client, OBB Personenverkehr AG (“OBB”), the national railway of the Republic of Austria, is entitled to foreign sovereign immunity in a lawsuit filed against it in federal court by a United States resident who was injured while boarding OBB’s train in Innsbruck, Austria.
The decision, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, has broad application and is significant in confirming that there are limits to the reach of American courts. It establishes that, in the commercial context, in order for a United States court to exercise jurisdiction over a foreign state, or an agency or instrumentality of a foreign state, the claims must be “based upon” commercial activity that occurred within the territorial limits of the United States. In reversing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court rejected the notion that a foreign state-owned railway could be sued in the United States, simply based upon the purchase of a Eurail pass on the Internet from a United State travel agency, curtailing the impact of the Internet on the jurisdictional reach of United States courts. Instead, the Supreme Court held that courts must focus on what is “the ‘particular conduct’ that constitutes the ‘gravamen’ of the suit,” or its “essentials,” which here, was the accident that took place in Austria. In this case, the injured passenger could have sued in Austria instead, which forum afforded adequate legal remedies.
Dorsey lawyer Juan Basombrio, who argued the case before the Supreme Court on behalf of OBB, notes that the decision is significant from an international business and legal perspective: “Whereas the Ninth Circuit’s decision would have dragged foreign states and their agencies into United States court, the Supreme Court’s decision recognizes the importance of international comity; that is, the respect that nations afford to the courts of other nations with respect to matters that occur within their territory.”
Juan further notes that, “In a world that has become increasingly connected by international commercial transactions, and where there is also increasing friction in the relations between the United States and other nations, this is a seminal and important decision that will foster harmony between the United States and other nations at least in the commercial context.” Juan explains that, “From the perspective of American business, this decision also will incentivize other nations to adopt similar rulings, which will protect American businesses from being dragged into court overseas.”
Finally, “The unanimous decision of the Supreme Court,” according to Juan, “also underscores that the Supreme Court is not a fractured Court, as it has been recently criticized, but instead can and has spoken with one voice in this important area of the law, which involves the foreign relations of the United States.”
Dorsey represented OBB at all stages of the litigation. Juan was lead counsel on the case from the trial court through the Supreme Court argument.
UKRAINE ATTACKS RUSSIA USING ARBITRATION
Ukrainian companies have initiated five arbitration proceedings against Russia that range from approximately $20 million to $1 billion. The cases have been brought by a number of Ukrainian businesses including Ukraine’s largest bank, a real estate investment company, several petrol stations and a private airport.
The claims have been brought under a 1998 bilateral investment treaty meant to encourage economic cooperation and expansion between Ukraine and Russia and are to recover for alleged losses incurred after Russian troops invaded Crimea in 2014 and shut down or nationalized Ukrainian businesses without paying for them.
The claims were lodged at various times in the first half of 2015 in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, an intergovernmental organization with approximately 115 member states. The parties that launched the claims include PrivatBank & Finance Co. Finilon LLC, or PrivatBank; and PJSC Ukrnafta, which is both publicly and privately owned and is one of Ukraine’s largest oil and gas companies.
The lawyer representing the Ukrainian companies stated:
Apparently, the bilateral investment treaty permits the investors of one country whose property has been appropriated by the other country to launch private arbitration proceedings either under the rules governing the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce or the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.
IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES
On November 10, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in the attached Clear Correct v. ITC, CLEAR CORRECT V ITC, held that the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) does not have the authority to expand the scope of Section 337 Intellectual property (“IP”) investigations to cover electronic transmissions of digital data imported into the United States. In a 2-1 decision, the Court determined that such an expansion would:
run counter to the “unambiguously expressed intent of Congress.” . . . . Here, it is clear that “articles” means “material things,” whether when looking to the literal text or when read in context “with a view to [the term’s] place in the overall statutory scheme.” . . . . We recognize, of course, that electronic transmissions have some physical properties—for example an electron’s invariant mass is a known quantity—but common sense dictates that there is a fundamental difference between electronic transmissions and “material things.” . . .
NEW 337 CASES
On November 5, 2015, Hydor USA, Inc. filed a section 337 case against imports for certain aquarium fittings and parts thereof from a Chinese company, Jebao Co., Ltd in Zhongshan City, Guangdong province, China.
On November 12, 2015, Belkin International, Inc. filed a section 337 case against imports of Computer Cables, Chargers, Adapters, Peripheral Devices and Packaging from China. The proposed respondents are: Dongguan Pinte Electronic Co., Ltd., China; and Dongguan Shijie Fresh Electronic Products Factory, China.
On November 17, 2015, FeraDyne Outdoors, LLC and Out RAGE, LLC filed a section 337 case against Arrowheads With Deploying Blades against the following Chinese respondents: Linyi Junxing Sports Equipment Co., Ltd., China; Ningbo Faith Sports Co., Ltd., China; Ningbo Forever Best Import & Export Co. Ltd., China; Ningbo Linkboy Outdoor Sports Co, Ltd., China; Shenzhen Zowaysoon Trading Company Ltd., China; Xiamen Xinhongyou Industrial Trade Co., Ltd., China; Xiamen Zhongxinyuan Industry & Trade Ltd., China; Zhengzhou IRQ Trading Limited Company, China; and Zhenghou Paiao Trade Co., Ltd., China.
On January 8, 2016, Covidien LP filed a section 337 case against imports of Surgical Stapler Devices from Chongqing QMI Surgical Co., Ltd., China.
CRIMINAL PATENT CASES
On January 5th, in U.S. v. Pangang Group Co. Ltd., the US government brought the attached criminal indictment, CHINA INDICTMENT, against Pangang Group Co. Ltd., a state-owned Chinese steel company, alleging that Pangang engaged in economic spying and stole manufacturing trade secrets from DuPont Co. through a California businessman and a former DuPont engineer, who have been sent to prison for their crimes.
Prosecutors claim Pangang stole trade secrets held by DuPont covering its proprietary method of manufacturing titanium dioxide, which is used to make cars, paper and other items appear whiter.
NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK COMPLAINTS AGAINST CHINESE, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN COMPANIES
On November 4, 2015, SATA GmbH & Co. KG, a German corporation, filed a counterfeit trademark case against Zhejiang Refine Wufu Airt Tools Co., Ltd. and Prona Tools Inc. COUNTERFEIT SPRAY PAINT GUNS
On November 23, 2015, Penn Engineering & Manufacturing Corp. filed, a patent, trademark infringement and counterfeit case against Pemco Hardware, Inc., Dongguan Fenggang Pemco Hardware Factory, and Shenzhen Pemco Fastening Systems :Co., Ltd. PENN DONGGUAN
On December 3, 2015, Fellowship Filtering Technologies filed a patent case against Alibaba and Taobao Holding Ltd. and other Alibaba and Taobao companies. ALIBABA PATENT CASE
PRODUCTS LIABILITY CASES
On November 9, 2015, Neoteric Solution Inc. d/b/a Wowparts filed a products liability case against batteries supplied by Dongguan Hosowell Technology Co., Ltd, and Hosowell (HK) Technology Co., Ltd.DONGGUAN HOUSEWELL
On November 12, 2015, Momo Ren and Miao Xin Hu filed a class action products liability case for misbranding egg roll packages against Domega NY International Ltd., Dongguan City Tongxin Food Co., Ltd. and Net A Generation Food Stuffs Co., Ltd. EGG ROLL CASE
On November 23, 2015, Stephen and Diane Brooke filed a class action products liability case in the drywall area against The State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council; Taishan Gypsum Co., Ltd. f/k/a Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co., Ltd.; Tai’an Taishan Plasterboard Co., Ltd.; Beijing New Building Materials Public Limited Co.; China National Building Material Co., Ltd.; Beijing New Building Materials (Group) Co., Ltd.; and China National Building Materials Group Corporation. BROOKE TAISHAN SAC
There have been developments in the antitrust area.
CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES
T&D NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER REPORT
In December and January T&D sent us their attached November and December reports on Chinese competition law. T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of November 2015 T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of December 2015
In early January 2016, T&D also sent us the latest attached draft translated into English of IPR Anti-monopoly Guideline from the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) released on the last day of 2015, i.e. December 31, 2015. IPR Guideline (draft) 20151231-EN
FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT
Recently, Dorsey& Whitney LLP issued its attached December 2015 Anti-Corruption Digest,AntiCorruptionDigestDec2015. The Digest states with regards to China:
China: Setback in the Anti-Corruption Campaign
It has been reported that President Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign has suffered a setback after a prominent official of the inspection team in charge of the government’s anti-corruption efforts, Liu Xiangdong, was removed from his post after allegedly being in possession of more than $31 million (£20 million) in cash.
Mr. Liu was accused of “violating inspection rules and leaking related secrets” and accepting large bribes. He was also stripped of his Communist Party membership and removed from his position, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s top anti- corruption committee, said in a statement on its website.
China: Corruption in the Education Sector
China’s anti-corruption campaign has already touched many of the country’s sectors and has now extended to the education sector with a number of officials at the Communication University of China being targeted.
The president of the university, Su Wuzhi, was reportedly removed from his post for having an office that was “severely beyond the official standards, using university funds to hold banquets in public venues and putting gifts sent to the university on display in his own office without registering them.”
Lv Zhisheng, the vice president of the university, was also removed from office for allegedly failing to enforce frugality rules, leading to “chaos in financial management” of the institution, such as expenditures in “fancy cars” which exceeded budgets.
An official announcement from the Education Ministry is said to have called for increased monitoring of the education sector to ensure that “the high aims” of the party were upheld.
On November 24, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an insider trading case against two Chinese individuals, Yue Han and Wei Han, who presently reside in China. SEC VERSUS HAN
On November 24, 2015, Amy Liu and a number of individuals filed a class action securities case for fraud against China North East Petroleum Holdings Ltd. (“CNEP”). Defendant CNEP is a Nevada corporation with its sole asset being ownership of Song Yrun North East Petroleum Technical Services Co., Ltd, a subsidiary operating in China. On September 5, 2013 CNEP transferred all CNEP assets and all CNEP liabilities to Ju Guizhi, a CNEP director and mother of CNEP CEO Wang Hongiun, for the purpose of effecting a merger into CLP Huaxing Equity Changchun City Investment Limited (“CLP”), a limited liability chinese corporation majority owned and controlled by Ju Guizhi and Wang Hongiun, NEVEDA SHAREHOLDERS SUIT.
On December 10, 2015, Shouming Zhang, a Chinese individual, filed the attached fraud case against several US companies and a Chinese individual alleging three Los Angeles-area companies and an attorney of swindling her into investing in an $8 million business deal with promises that she would obtain an EB-5 visa, CHINA NATIONAL COMPLAINT EB5.
Shoumin Zhang — whose visa application was denied — accuses Arcadia, California-based Americana One LLC of committing fraud and breach of contract by luring her into paying $500,000 for the supposed renovation of a commercial building. Zhang says that after she discovered the $8 million investment was a fraud, she visited the U.S. to personally ask AFRC and Americana One to seek a refund of her money.
Through the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, the U.S. government offers EB-5 visas to foreigners who make certain business investments in the country. A website for AFRC offers consultations for the program, which allegedly requires only $500,000 of investment in exchange for permanent resident status in the U.S.
On December 14, 2015 Sally Mogle filed a class action securities case against Mattson Technology, Inc., Beijing E-Town Dragon Semiconductor Industry Investment Center and Dragon Acquisition Sub, Inc. and a number of individuals. BLOCK SEMICONDUCTOR ACQUISITION
On December 22, 2015, Philip Durgin filed a class action securities case against Mattson Technology, Inc., Beijing E-Town Dragon Semiconductor Industry Investment Center and Dragon Acquisition Sub, Inc. and a number of individuals. BEIJING DRAGON
If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade policy, trade adjustment assistance, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.