US CHINA TRADE WAR–TPP POLITICS, TAAF THE ANSWER, $2 BILLION MISSING DUMPING DUTIES AS CASES RISE, CUSTOMS LAW CHANGES, SOLAR CELLS, 337 CUSTOMS STOP INFRINGING IMPORTS

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC ReflectioFIRM UPDATE

In mid-August, Adams Lee, a well- known Trade and Customs lawyer from White & Case in Washington DC, has joined us here at Harris Moure in Seattle.  Adams has handled well over 100 antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  Attached is Adams’ bio, adams-lee-resume-aug-16, and his article is below on the new Customs Regulations against Evasion of US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders.

Adams and I will both be in China from Sept 11th to October 1st in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing.  If anyone would like to talk to us about these issues, please feel free to contact me at my e-mail, bill@harrismoure.com.

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

Dear Friends,

Trade continues to be at the center of the Presidential primary with a possible passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership during the Lame Duck Session.  This blog post contains the sixth, and maybe the most important, article on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies of a several part series on how weak free trade arguments have led to the sharp rise of protectionism of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the now possible demise of the Trans Pacific Partner (“TPP”).

The first article outlined the problem and why this is such a sharp attack on the TPP and some of the visceral arguments against free trade.  The second article explored in depth the protectionist arguments and the reason for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  The third article explored the weak and strong arguments against protectionism.  The fourth article discussed one of the most important arguments for the TPP—National Security.  The fifth article discussed why the Commerce Department’s and the US International Trade Commission’s (ITC) policy in antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) cases has led to a substantial increase in protectionism and national malaise of international trade victimhood.

The sixth article provides an answer with the only trade program that works and saves the companies and the jobs that go with them—The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program along with MEP, another US manufacturing program.  The Article will describe the attempts by both Congress and the Obama Administration to kill the program, which may, in fact, have resulted in the sharp rise in protectionism in the US.

To pass the TPP, Congress must also provide assistance to make US companies competitive in the new free trade market created by the TPP.  Congress must restore the trade safety net so that Congress can again vote for free trade agreements, and the United States can return to its leadership in the Free Trade area.  The Congress has to fix the trade situation now before the US and the World return to the Smoot Hawley protectionism of the 1930s and the rise of nationalism, which can lead to military conflict.

In addition, set forth below are articles on a possible new antidumping case on Aluminum Foil from China and the rise of AD and CVD cases, the $2 billion in missing AD and CVD duties, the new Customs regulations to stop Transshipment in AD and CVD cases, the upcoming deadlines in the Solar Cells case in both English and Chinese, recent decisions in Steel cases,  antidumping and countervailing duty reviews in September against Chinese companies, and finally an article about how to stop imports that infringe US intellectual property rights, either using US Customs law or Section 337 at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).

If anyone has any questions or wants additional information, please feel free to contact me at my new e-mail address bill@harrismoure.com.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE PROTECTIONISM IS STILL A VERY BIG TOPIC OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION; THE TPP PROBABLY IS NOT COMING UP IN THE LAME DUCK

As mentioned in my last newsletter, I believe that if Hilary Clinton is elected, President Obama will push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) to come up for a vote during the Lame Duck Session.  The Congress, however, has other ideas.

In early August, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan stated that he saw no reason to bring up the TPP in the Lame Duck because “we don’t have the votes.”  Ryan went on to state:

“As long as we don’t have the votes, I see no point in bringing up an agreement only to defeat it.  They have to fix this agreement and renegotiate some pieces of it if they have any hope or chance of passing it. I don’t see how they’ll ever get the votes for it.”

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden stated in late August that he will not take a position on the TPP until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brings the TPP up for a vote.  But on August 26th, Mitch McConnell stated that passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be the next president’s problem, saying that the Senate will not vote on the treaty this year:

“The current agreement, the Trans-Pacific [Partnership], which has some serious flaws, will not be acted upon this year.  It will still be around. It can be massaged, changed, worked on during the next administration.”

With this statement, McConnell appears to have killed passage during the Obama Administration.

But businesses continue to push for the TPP.  On Sept 6th, the California Chamber of Commerce urged its Congressional delegation to pass the TPP.  In the attached Sept 7th letter, 9-7finaltppletter, the Washington State Council on International Trade also urged its Congressional delegation to pass TPP, stating:

“with 40 percent of Washington jobs dependent upon trade, it is paramount that we prioritize policies and investments that increase our state’s international competitiveness. That is why it is so important that you join us in calling for an immediate vote on the TPP; according to a newly released Washington Council on International Trade-Association of Washington Business study, Washington could have already increased our exports by up to $8.7 billion and directly created 26,000 new jobs had the TPP been implemented in 2015.

While the U.S. has some of the lowest import duties in the world on most goods, our local Washington exporters are faced with thousands of tariffs that artificially inflate the cost of American-made goods. TPP will help eliminate these barriers . . ..

TPP aligns with Washington’s high standards, setting 21st century standards for digital trade, environmental protections, and labor rules .  . . .  If we want to increase our competitiveness and set American standards for global trade, we must act now with the TPP.

This election season’s rhetoric has been hostile toward trade, but the TPP’s benefits for our state are undeniable. It is imperative that our state steps up to advocate for the family wage jobs and economic opportunities created by trade, and the time to do so is now.”

Despite the Congressional opposition, ever the optimist, President Obama keeps pushing for passage during the Lame Duck.  On August 30th, the White House Press Office stated:

“The president is going to make a strong case that we have made progress and there is a path for us to get this done before the president leaves office.”

On September 1, 2016, at a Press Conference in Hangzhou, China for the G20 meeting, President Obama said he is still optimistic about passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Obama argued that the economic benefits of the pact would win out once the “noise” of the election season subsides.

The President said he plans to assure the leaders of the other countries that signed the TPP that the U.S. will eventually approve the deal despite the very vocal opposition from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and Presidential candidates.

President Obama went to state:

“And it’s my intention to get this one done, because, on the merits, it is smart for America to do it. And I have yet to hear a persuasive argument from the left or the right as to why we wouldn’t want to create a trade framework that raises labor standards, raising environmental standards, protects intellectual property, levels the playing field for U.S. businesses, brings down tariffs.”

Obama stated that although other countries, such as Japan, have troubles passing the TPP, the other countries:

“are ready to go.  And what I’ll be telling them is that the United States has never had a smooth, uncontroversial path to ratifying trade deals, but they eventually get done”

“And so I intend to be making that argument. I will have to be less persuasive here because most people already understand that. Back home, we’ll have to cut through the noise once election season is over.  It’s always a little noisy there.”

As mentioned in the last blog post, one of the strongest arguments for the TPP is National Security.  Trade agreements help stop trade wars and military conflict.  But despite that very strong point, the impact of free trade on the average manufacturing worker has not been beneficial.

In a recent e-mail blast, the Steel Workers make the point:

“Because of unfair trade, 1,500 of my colleagues at U.S. Steel Granite City Works in Granite City, Illinois are still laid-off. It’s been more than six months since our mill shut down.

Worker unemployment benefits are running out. Food banks are emptying out. People are losing their homes. City services might even shut down.

But there’s finally reason for hope. The Commerce Department recently took action to enforce our trade laws by placing duties on unfairly traded imports from countries like China. That will help ensure steel imports are priced fairly — and allow us to compete . . . .

All told, nearly 19,000 Americans have faced layoffs across the country because of the steel imports crisis.

China is making far more steel than it needs. China knows this is a problem, and repeatedly has pledged to cut down on steel production. But nothing has changed . . . .

China’s steel industry is heavily subsidized by its government, and it also doesn’t need to follow serious labor or environmental rules. But China has to do something with all that steel, so it dumps it into the United States far below market value.”

In a recent Business Week article, Four Myths about Trade, Robert Atkinson, the president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, made the same point stating:

The Washington trade establishment’s second core belief is that trade is an unalloyed good, even if other nations engage in mercantilism. . . . it doesn’t matter if other nations massively subsidize their exporters, require U.S. companies to hand over the keys to their technology in exchange for market access, or engage in other forms of mercantilist behavior.  . . .

But China and others are proving that this is folly. In industry after industry, including the advanced innovation-based industries that are America’s future, they are gaming the rules of global trade to hold others back while they leap forward. . ..

It’s a reflection of having lost competitive advantage to other nations in many higher-value-added industries, in part because of foreign mercantilist policies and domestic economic-policy failures.

The Author then goes on to state the US must be tough in fighting mercantilism and “vigilantly enforce trade rules, such as by bringing many more trade-enforcement cases to the WTO, pressuring global aid organizations to cut funding to mercantilist nations, limiting the ability of companies in mercantilist nations to buy U.S. firms, and more.”

But this argument then runs into reality.  As indicated below, Commerce finds dumping in about 95% of the cases.  Thus, there are more than 130 AD and CVD orders against China blocking about $30 billion in imports.  Presently more than 80 AD and CVD orders are against raw materials from China, chemicals, metals and various steel products, used in downstream US production.  In the Steel area, there are AD and CVD orders against the following Chinese steel products:

carbon steel plate, hot rolled carbon steel flat products, circular welded and seamless carbon quality steel pipe, rectangular pipe and tube, circular welded austenitic stainless pressure pipe, steel threaded rod, oil country tubular goods, steel wire strand and wire, high pressure steel cylinders, non-oriented electrical steel, and carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod.

There are ongoing investigations against cold-rolled steel and corrosion resistant/galvanized steel so many Chinese steel products from China are already blocked by US AD and CVD orders with very high rates well over 100%.

AD and CVD orders stay in place for 5 to 30 years and yet the companies, such as the Steel Industry, still decline.  After 40 years of protection from Steel imports by AD and CVD orders, where is Bethlehem Steel today?  The Argument seems to be that if industries simply bring more cases, the Commerce Department is even tougher and the orders are enforced, all US companies will be saved, wages will go up and jobs will be everywhere.

The reality, however, is quite different.  In fact, many of these orders have led to the destruction of US downstream industries so does hitting the Chinese with more trade cases really solve the trade problem?

More importantly, although Commerce does not use real numbers in antidumping cases against China, it does use actual prices and costs in antidumping steel cases against Korea, India, Taiwan, and many other countries.  In a recent antidumping case against Off the Road Tires from India, where China faces dumping rates of between 11 and 105%, the only two Indian exporters, which were both mandatory respondents, received 0% dumping rates and the Commerce Department in a highly unusual preliminary determination reached a negative no dumping determination on the entire case.

Market economy countries, such as Korea and India, can run computer programs to make sure that they are not dumping.  This is not gaming the system.  This is doing exactly what the antidumping law is trying to remedy—elimination of the unfair act, dumping.

Antidumping and countervailing duty laws are not penal statutes, they are remedial statutes and that is why US importers, who pay the duties, and the foreign producers/exporters are not entitled to full due process rights in AD and CVD cases, including application of the Administrative Procedures Act, decision by a neutral Administrative Law Judge and a full trial type hearing before Commerce and the ITC, such as Section 337 Intellectual Property cases, described below.

In fact, when industries, such as the steel industry, companies and workers along with Government officials see dumping and subsidization in every import into the United States, this mindset creates a disease—Globalization/International Trade victimhood.  We American workers and companies simply cannot compete because all imports are dumped and subsidized.

That simply is not true and to win the trade battles and war a change in mindset is required.

In his Article, Mr. Atkinson’s second argument may point to the real answer.  The US government needs to make US manufacturing companies competitive again:

It must begin with reducing the effective tax rate on corporations. To believe that America can thrive in the global economy with the world’s highest statutory corporate-tax rates and among the highest effective corporate-tax rates, especially for manufacturers, is to ignore the intense global competitive realities of the 21st century. Tax reform then needs to be complemented with two other key items: a regulatory-reform strategy particularly aimed at reducing burdens on industries that compete globally, and increased funding for programs that help exporters, such as the Export-Import Bank, the new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, and a robust apprenticeship program for manufacturing workers. . . .

if Congress and the next administration develop a credible new globalization doctrine for the 21st century — melding tough trade enforcement with a robust national competitiveness agenda — then necessary trade-opening steps like the Trans-Pacific Partnership will once again be on the table and the U.S. economy will begin to thrive once again.

When it comes to Trade Adjustment Assistance, however, as Congressman Jim McDermott recently stated in an article, workers do not want handouts and training.  They want jobs.  The only trade remedy that actually provides jobs is the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program and MEP, another manufacturing program.

FREE TRADE REQUIRES COMPETITIVE US COMPANIES— TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES AND THE MEP MANUFACTURING PROGRAM ARE THE ANSWER

On August 17th, in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the author referred to “the longstanding Republican promotion of trade as an engine of growth.” The author then goes on to state:

But what Donald Trump sees and the Republican elites have long missed is that for trade to be a winner for Americans, our government must provide policies for our industries to be the most competitive in the world. Mr. Zoellick and others promoted trade without promoting American competitiveness.  . . .

Mr. Zoellick should take a lesson from the American gymnasts in Rio and see how competitiveness leads to winning.

Although Donald Trump might agree with that point, there are Government programs already in effect that increase the competitiveness of US companies injured by imports, but they have been cut to the bone.

This is despite the fact that some of the highest paying American jobs have routinely been in the nation’s manufacturing sector. And some of the highest prices paid for the nation’s free trade deals have been paid by the folks who work in it. What’s shocking is the fact that that isn’t shocking anymore. And what’s really shocking is that we seem to have accepted it as the “new normal.” Now where did that ever come from?

How did we get here? How did we fall from the summit? Was it inexorable? Did we get soft? Did we get lazy? Did we stop caring? Well perhaps to some extent. But my sense of it is that too many of us have bought into the idea of globalization victimhood and a sort of paralysis has been allowed to set in.

Now in my opinion that’s simply not in America’s DNA. It’s about time that this nation decided not to participate in that mind set any longer. Economists and policy makers of all persuasions are now beginning to recognize the requirement for a robust response by this nation to foreign imports – irrespective of party affiliation or the particular free trade agreement under consideration at any given moment.  Companies, workers and Government officials need to stop blaming the foreigner and figure out what they can do to compete with the foreign imports.

There is no doubt in my mind that open and free trade benefits the overall U.S. economy in the long run. However, companies and the families that depend on the employment therein, indeed whole communities, are adversely affected in the short run (some for extended periods) resulting in significant expenditures in public welfare and health programs, deteriorated communities and the overall lowering of America’s industrial output.

But here’s the kicker: programs that can respond effectively already exist. Three of them are domiciled in our Department of Commerce and one in our Department of Labor:

  • Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (Commerce)
  • The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Commerce)
  • Economic Adjustment for Communities (Commerce)
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance for Displaced Workers (Labor)

This Article, however, is focused on making US companies competitive again and the first two programs do just that, especially for smaller companies.  Specific federal support for trade adjustment programs, however, has been legislatively restrictive, bureaucratically hampered, organizationally disjointed, and substantially under-funded.

The lessons of history are clear. In the 1990’s, after the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, the federal government reduced defense industry procurements and closed military facilities. In response, a multi-agency, multi-year effort to assist adversely affected defense industries, their workers, and communities facing base closures were activated. Although successes usually required years of effort and follow on funding from agencies of proven approaches (for example the reinvention of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard into a center for innovation and vibrant commercial activities), there was a general sense that the federal government was actively responding to a felt need at the local level.

A similar multi-agency response has been developed in the event of natural disasters, i.e., floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. Dimensions of the problem are identified, an appropriate expenditure level for a fixed period of time is authorized and the funds are deployed as needed through FEMA, SBA and other relevant agencies such as EDA.

The analogy to trade policy is powerful.  When the US Government enters into Trade Agreements, such as the TPP, Government action changes the market place.  All of a sudden US companies can be faced, not with a Tidal Wave, but a series of flash floods of foreign competition and imports that can simply wipe out US companies.

A starting point for a trade adjustment strategy would be for a combined Commerce-Labor approach building upon existing authorities and proven programs, that can be upgraded and executed forthwith.

Commerce’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) has 11 regional (multi-state) TAAF Centers but the program has been cut to only $12.5 million annually. The amount of matching funds for US companies has not changed since the 1980s. The system has the band-width to increase to a run rate of $50 million.  Projecting a four-year ramp up of $90 million (FY18-FY21), the TAA program could serve an additional 2,150 companies.

Foreign competitors may argue that TAA for Firms/Companies is a subsidy, but the money does not go directly to the companies themselves, but to consultants to work with the companies through a series of knowledge-based projects to make the companies competitive again.  Moreover, the program does not affect the US market or block imports in any way.

Does the program work?  In the Northwest, where I am located, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program since 1984.  The MidAtlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center in this video at http://mataac.org/howitworks/ describes in detail how the program works and why it is so successful—Its flexibility in working with companies on an individual basis to come up with specific adjustment plans for each company to make the companies competitive again in the US market as it exists today.

Increasing funding will allow the TAA for Firms/Companies program to expand its bandwidth and provide relief to larger US companies, including possibly even steel producers.  If companies that use steel can be saved by the program, why can’t the steel producers themselves?

But it will take a tough love approach to trade problems.  Working with the companies to forget about Globalization victimhood and start trying to actually solve the Company’s problems that hinder its competitiveness in the market as it exists today.

In addition to TAA for Firms/Companies, another important remedy needed to increase competitiveness is Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which has a Center in each State and Puerto Rico.  MEP provides high quality management and technical assistance to the country’s small manufacturers with an annual budget of $130 million. MEP, in fact, is one the remedies suggested by the TAA Centers along with other projects to make the companies competitive again.

As a consequence of a nation-wide re-invention of the system, MEP is positioned to serve even more companies. A commitment of $100 million over four years would serve an additional 8,400 firms. These funds could be targeted to the small manufacturing firms that are the base of our supply chain threatened by foreign imports.

Each of these programs requires significant non-federal match or cost share from the companies themselves, to assure that the local participants have significant skin in the game and to amplify taxpayer investment.  A $250 million commitment from the U.S. government would be a tangible although modest first step in visibly addressing the local consequences of our trade policies. The Department of Commerce would operate these programs in a coordinated fashion, working in collaboration with the Department of Labor’s existing Trade Adjustment Assistance for Displaced Workers program.

TAA for Workers is funded at the $711 million level, but retraining workers should be the last remedy in the US government’s bag.  If all else fails, retrain workers, but before that retrain the company so that the jobs and the companies are saved.  That is what TAA for Firms/Companies and the MEP program do.  Teach companies how to swim in the new market currents created by trade agreements and the US government

In short – this serious and multi-pronged approach will begin the process of stopping globalization victimhood in its tracks.

Attached is White Paper, taaf-2-0-white-paper, prepares to show to expand TAA for Firms/Companies and take it to the next level above $50 million, which can be used to help larger companies adjust to import competition.  The White Paper also rebuts the common arguments against TAA for Firms/Companies.

ALUMINUM FOIL FROM CHINA, RISE IN ANTIDUMPING CASES PUSHED BY COMMERCE AND ITC

On August 22, 2016, the Wall Street Journal published an article on how the sharp rise of aluminum foil imports, mostly from China, has led to the shutdown of US U.S. aluminum foil producers.  Articles, such as this one, often signal that an antidumping case is coming in the near future.

Recently, there have been several articles about the sharp rise in antidumping and countervailing duty/trade remedy cases in the last year.  By the second half of 2016, the US Government has reported that twice as many antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) case have been initiated in 2015-2016 as in 2009.

China is not the only target.  AD cases have been recently filed against steel imports from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Taiwan, and Turkey; Steel Flanges from India, Italy and Spain; Chemicals from Korea and China, and Rubber from Brazil, Korea, Mexico and Poland.

The potential Aluminum Foil case may not be filed only against China.  In addition to China, the case could also be filed against a number of foreign exporters of aluminum foil to the United States.

Under US law Commerce determines whether dumping is taking place.  Dumping is defined as selling imported goods at less than fair value or less than normal value, which in general terms means lower than prices in the home/foreign market or below the fully allocated cost of production.  Antidumping duties are levied to remedy the unfair act by raising the US price so that the products are fairly traded.

Commerce also imposes Countervailing Duties to offset any foreign subsidies provided by foreign governments so as to raise the price of the subsidized imports.

AD and CVD duties can only be imposed if there is injury to the US industry, which is determined by the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  But in determining injury, the law directs the ITC to cumulate, that is add together all the imports of the same product from the various foreign exporters.  Thus if a number of countries are exporting aluminum foil in addition to China, there is a real incentive for the US aluminum foil industry to file a case against all the other countries too.

There are several reasons for the sharp rise in AD and CVD cases.  One is the state of the economy and the sharp rise in imports.  In bad economic times, the two lawyers that do the best are bankruptcy and international trade lawyers.  Chinese overcapacity can also result in numerous AD and CVD cases being filed not only in the United States but around the World.

Although the recent passage of the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 has made it marginally better to bring an injury case at the ITC, a major reason for the continued rise in AD and CVD cases is the Commerce and ITC determinations in these cases.  Bringing an AD case, especially against China, is like the old country saying, shooting fish in a barrel.

By its own regulation, Commerce finds dumping and subsidization in almost every case, and the ITC in Sunset Review Investigations leaves antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place for as long as 20 to 30 years, often to protect single company US industries, resulting in permanent barriers to imports and the creation of monopolies.

Many readers may ask why should people care if prices go up a few dollars at WalMart for US consumers?  Jobs remain.  Out of the 130 plus AD and CVD orders against China, more than 80 of the orders are against raw materials, chemicals, metals and steel, that go directly into downstream US production.  AD orders have led to the closure of downstream US factories.

Commerce has defined dumping so that 95% of the products imported into the United States are dumped.  Pursuant to the US Antidumping Law, Commerce chooses mandatory respondent companies to individually respond to the AD questionnaire.  Commerce generally picks only two or three companies out of tens, if not hundreds, of respondent companies.

Only mandatory companies in an AD case have the right to get zero, no dumping margins.  Only those mandatory respondent companies have the right to show that they are not dumping.  If a company gets a 0 percent, no dumping determination, in the initial investigation, the antidumping order does not apply to that company.

Pursuant to the AD law, for the non-mandatory companies, the Commerce Department may use any other reasonable method to calculate antidumping rates, which means weight averaging the rates individually calculated for the mandatory respondents, not including 0 rates.  If all mandatory companies receive a 0% rate, Commerce will use any other reasonable method to determine a positive AD rate, not including 0% rates.

So if there are more than two or three respondent companies in an AD case, which is the reality in most cases, by its own law and practice, Commerce will reach an affirmative dumping determination.  All three mandatory companies may get 0% dumping rates, but all other companies get a positive dumping rate.  Thus almost all imports are by the Commerce Department’s definition dumped.

Under the Commerce Department’s methodology all foreign companies are guilty of dumping and subsidization until they prove their innocence, and almost all foreign companies never have the chance to prove their innocence.

Commerce also has a number of other methodologies to increase antidumping rates.  In AD cases against China, Commerce treats China as a nonmarket economy country and, therefore, refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping, which makes it very easy for Commerce to find very high dumping rates.

In market economy cases, such as cases against EU and South American countries, Commerce has used zeroing or targeted dumping to create antidumping rates, even though the WTO has found such practices to be contrary to the AD Agreement.

The impact of the Commerce Department’s artificial methodology is further exaggerated by the ITC.  Although in the initial investigation, the ITC will go negative, no injury, in 30 to 40% of the cases, once the antidumping order is in place it is almost impossible to persuade the ITC to lift the antidumping order in Sunset Review investigations.

So antidumping orders, such as Pressure Sensitive Tape from Italy (1977), Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand from Japan (1978), Potassium Permanganate from China (1984), Cholopicrin from China (1984), and Porcelain on Steel Cookware from China (1986), have been in place for more than 30 years.  In 1987 when I was at the Commerce Department, an antidumping case was filed against Urea from the entire Soviet Union.  Antidumping orders from that case against Russia and Ukraine are still in place today.

In addition, many of these antidumping orders, such as Potassium Permanganate, Magnesium, Porcelain on Steel Cookware, and Sulfanilic Acid, are in place to protect one company US industries, creating little monopolies in the United States.

Under the Sunset Review methodology, the ITC never sunsets AD and CVD orders unless the US industry no longer exists.

By defining dumping the way it does, both Commerce and the ITC perpetuate the myth of Globalization victimhood.  We US companies and workers simply cannot compete against imports because all imports are dumped or subsidized.  But is strangling downstream industries to protect one company US industries truly good trade policy?  Does keeping AD orders in place for 20 to 30 years really save the US industry and make the US companies more competitive?  The answer simply is no.

Protectionism does not work but it does destroy downstream industries and jobs.  Protectionism is destructionism. It costs jobs.

US MISSING $2 BILLION IN ANTIDUMPING DUTIES, MANY ON CHINESE PRODUCTS

According to the attached recent report by the General Accounting Office, gao-report-ad-cvd-missing-duties, the US government is missing about $2.3 billion in unpaid anti-dumping and countervailing duties, two-thirds of which will probably never be paid.

The United States is the only country in the World that has retroactive liability for US importers.  When rates go up, US importers are liable for the difference plus interest.  But the actual determination of the amount owed by the US imports can take place many years after the import was actually made into the US.

The GAO found that billing errors and delays in final duty assessments were major factors in the unpaid bills, with many of the importers with the largest debts leaving the import business before they received their bill.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that it does not expect to collect most of that debt”.  Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) anticipates that about $1.6 billion of the total will never be paid.

As the GAO report states:

elements of the U.S. system for determining and collecting AD/CV duties create an inherent risk that some importers will not pay the full amount they owe in AD/CV duties. . . . three related factors create a heightened risk of AD/CV duty nonpayment: (1) The U.S. system for determining such duties involves the setting of an initial estimated duty rate upon the entry of goods, followed by the retrospective assessment of a final duty rate; (2) the amount of AD/CV duties for which an importer may be ultimately billed can significantly exceed what the importer pays when the goods enter the country; and (3) the assessment of final AD/CV duties can occur up to several years after an importer enters goods into the United States, during which time the importer may cease operations or become unable to pay additional duties.

The vast majority of the missing duties, 89%, were clustered around the following products from China: Fresh Garlic ($577 million), Wooden Bedroom Furniture ($505 million), Preserved Mushrooms ($459 million), crawfish tail meat ($210 million), Pure Magnesium ($170 million), and Honey ($158 million).

The GAO Report concludes at page 56-47:

We estimate the amount of uncollected duties on entries from fiscal year 2001 through 2014 to be $2.3 billion. While CBP collects on most AD/CV duty bills it issues, it only collects, on average, about 31 percent of the dollar amount owed. The large amount of uncollected duties is due in part to the long lag time between entry and billing in the U.S. retrospective AD/CV duty collection system, with an average of about 2-and-a-half years between the time goods enter the United States and the date a bill may be issued. Large differences between the initial estimated duty rate and the final duty rate assessed also contribute to unpaid bills, as importers receiving a large bill long after an entry is made may be unwilling or unable to pay. In 2015, CBP estimated that about $1.6 billion in duties owed was uncollectible. By not fully collecting unpaid AD/CV duty bills, the U.S. government loses a substantial amount of revenue and compromises its efforts to deter and remedy unfair and injurious trade practices.

But with all these missing duties, why doesn’t the US simply move to a prospective methodology, where the importer pays the dumping rate calculated by Commerce and the rate only goes up for future imports after the new rate is published.

Simple answer—the In Terrorem, trade chilling, effect of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders—the legal threat that the US importers will owe millions in the future, which could jeopardize the entire import company.  As a result, over time imports from China and other countries covered by AD and CVD order often decline to 0 because established importers are simply too scared to take the risk of importing under an AD and CVD order.

CUTSOMS NEW LAW AGAINST TRANSSHIPMENT AROUND AD AND CVD ORDERS; ONE MORE LEGAL PROCEDURE FOR US IMPORTERS AND FOREIGN EXPORTERS TO BE WARY OF

By Adams Lee, Trade and Customs Partner, Harris Moure.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued new attached regulations, customs-regs-antidumping, that establish a new administrative procedure for CBP to investigate AD and CVD duty evasion.  81 FR 56477 (Aug. 22, 2016). Importers of any product that could remotely be considered merchandise subject to an AD/CVD order now face an increased likelihood of being investigated for AD/CVD duty evasion. The new CBP AD/CVD duty evasion investigations are the latest legal procedure, together with CBP Section 1592 penalty actions (19 USC 1592), CBP criminal prosecutions (18 USC 542, 545), and “qui tam” actions under the False Claims Act, aimed at ensnaring US importers and their foreign suppliers in burdensome and time-consuming proceedings that can result in significant financial expense or even criminal charges.

The following are key points from these new regulations:

  • CBP now has a new option to pursue and shut down AD/CVD duty evasion schemes.
  • CBP will have broad discretion to issue questions and conduct on-site verifications.
  • CBP investigations may result in interim measures that could significantly affect importers.
  • CBP’s interim measures may effectively establish a presumption of the importer’s guilt until proven innocent.
  • Other interested parties, including competing importers, can chime in to support CBP investigations against accused importers.
  • Both petitioners and respondents will have the opportunity to submit information and arguments.
  • Failure to cooperate and comply with CBP requests may result in CBP applying an adverse inference against the accused party.
  • Failing to respond adequately may result in CBP determining AD/CVD evasion has occurred.

The new CBP regulations (19 CFR Part 165) establish a formal process for how it will consider allegations of AD/CVD evasion. These new regulations are intended to address complaints from US manufacturers that CBP was not doing enough to address AD/CVD evasion schemes and that their investigations were neither transparent nor effective.

AD/CVD duty evasion schemes typically involve falsely declaring the country of origin or misclassifying the product (e.g., “widget from China” could be misreported as “widget from Malaysia” or “wadget from China”).

Petitions filed by domestic manufacturers trigger concurrent investigations by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to determine whether AD/CVD orders should be issued to impose duties on covered imports. The DOC determines if imports have been dumped or subsidized and sets the initial AD/CVD rates.  CBP then has the responsibility to collect AD/CVD duty deposits and to assess the final amount of AD/CVD duties owed at the rates determined by DOC.

US petitioners have decried U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as the weak link in enforcing US trade laws, not just because of it often being unable to collect the full amount of AD/CVD duties owed, but also because how CBP responds to allegations of AD/CVD evasion. Parties that provided CBP with information regarding evasion schemes were not allowed to participate in CBP’s investigations and were not notified of whether CBP had initiated an investigation or the results of any investigation.

CBP’s new regulations address many complaints regarding CBP’s lack of transparency in handling AD/CVD evasion allegations. The new regulations provide more details on how CBP procedures are to be conducted, the types of information that will be considered and made available to the public, and the specific timelines and deadlines in CBP investigations:

  • “Interested parties” for CBP investigations now includes not just the accused importers, but also competing importers that submit the allegations.
  • Interested parties now have access to public versions of information submitted in CBP’s investigation of AD/CVD evasion allegations.
  • After submission and receipt of a properly filed allegation, CBP has 15 business day to determine whether to initiate an investigation and 95 days to notify all interested parties of its decision. If CBP does not proceed with an investigation, CBP has five business days to notify the alleging party of that determination.
  • Within 90 days of initiating an investigation, CBP can impose interim measures if it has a “reasonable suspicion” that the importer used evasion to get products into the U.S.

Many questions remain as to how CBP will apply these regulations to actual investigations.  How exactly will parties participate in CBP investigations and what kind of comments will be accepted?  How much of the information in the investigations will be made public? How is “reasonable suspicion” defined and what kind of evidence will be considered? Is it really the case that accused Importers may be subject to interim measures (within 90 days of initiation) even before they receive notice of an investigation (within 95 days of initiation)?

These new AD/CVD duty evasion regulations further evidence the government’s plans to step up its efforts to enforce US trade laws more effectively and importers must – in turn – step up their vigilance to avoid being caught in one of these new traps.

UPCOMING DEADLINES IN SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING CASE—CHANCE TO GET BACK INTO THE US MARKET AGAIN

There are looming deadlines in the Solar Cells from China Antidumping (“AD”) and Countervailing Duty (“CVD”) case.  In December 2016, US producers, Chinese companies and US importers can request a review investigation in the Solar Cells case of the sales and imports that entered the United States during the review period, December 1, 2015 to November 31, 2016.

December 2016 will be a very important month for US importers because administrative reviews determine how much US importers actually owe in AD and CVD 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 AD and CVD 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 AD and CVD 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 February 2016, while in China I found many examples of Chinese solar companies or US importers, which did not file requests for a review investigation in December 2015.  In one instance, although the Chinese company obtained a separate rate during the Solar Cells initial investigation, the Petitioner appealed to the Court.  The Chinese company did not know the case was appealed, and the importer now owe millions in antidumping duties because they failed to file a review request in December 2015.

In another instance, in the Solar Products case, the Chinese company requested a review investigation in the CVD case but then did not respond to the Commerce quantity and value questionnaire.   That could well result in a determination of All Facts Available giving the Chinese company the highest CVD China rate of more than 50%.

The worst catastrophe in CVD cases was Aluminum Extrusions from China where the failure of mandatory companies to respond led to a CVD rate of 374%.  In the first review investigation, a Chinese company came to us because Customs had just ruled their auto part to be covered by the Aluminum Extrusions order.  To make matters worse, an importer requested a CVD review of the Chinese company, but did not tell the company and they did not realize that a quantity and value questionnaire had been sent to them.  We immediately filed a QV response just the day before Commerce’s preliminary determination.

Too late and Commerce gave the Chinese company an AFA rate of 121% by literally assigning the Chinese company every single subsidy in every single province and city in China, even though the Chinese company was located in Guangzhou.  Through a Court appeal, we reduced the rate to 79%, but it was still a high rate, so it is very important for companies to keep close watch on review investigations.

The real question many Chinese solar companies may have is how can AD and CVD rates be reduced so that we can start exporting to the US again.  In the Solar Cells case, the CVD China wide rate is only 15%.  The real barrier to entry is the China wide AD rate of 249%

US AD and CVD laws, however, are considered remedial, not punitive statutes.  Thus, every year in the month in which the AD or CVD order was issued, Commerce gives the parties, including the domestic producers, foreign producers and US importers, the right to request a review investigation based on sales of imports that entered the US in the preceding year.

Thus, the AD order on Solar Cells from China was issued in December 2012.   In December 2016, a Chinese producer and/or US importer can request a review investigation of the Chinese solar cells that were entered, actually imported into, the US during the period December 1, 2015 to November 31, 2016.

Chinese companies may ask that it is too difficult and too expensive to export may solar cells to the US, requesting a nonaffiliated importer to put up an AD of 298%, which can require a payment of well over $1 million USD.  The US AD and CVD law is retrospective.  Thus the importer posts a cash deposit when it imports products under an AD or CVD order, and the importer will get back the difference plus interest at the end of the review investigation.

More importantly, through a series of cases, Commerce has let foreign producers export smaller quantities of the product to use as a test sale in a review investigation if all other aspects of the sale are normal.  Thus in a Solar Cells review investigation, we had the exporter make a small sale of several panels along with other products and that small sale served as the test sale to establish the new AD rate.

How successful can companies be in reviews?  In a recent Solar Cells review investigation, we dropped a dumping rate of 249% to 8.52%, allowing the Chinese Solar Cell companies to begin to export to the US again.

Playing the AD and CVD game in review investigations can significantly reduce AD and CVD rates and get the Chinese company back in the US market again

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA CHINESE VERSION OF THE ARTICLE

中国进口太阳能电池反倾销案即将到来的最后期限重返美国市场的机会

针对原产自中国的太阳能电池反倾销(“AD”)和反补贴税(“CVD”)案的期限迫在眉睫。2016年12月,美国制造商、中国公司和美国进口商可以要求当局复审调查于2015年12月1日至2016年11月31日的审查期间进口并在美国销售的太阳能电池案例。

2016年12月将会是美国进口商的一个重要月份,因为行政复审将决定美国进口商在AD和CVD案中的实际欠款。一般上,美国业者会要求当局对所有中国公司进行复审。如果一家中国公司没有对商务部的行政复审做出回应,它很可能被征收最高的AD和CVD税率,美国进口商也将被追溯征收特定进口产品的差额及利息。

就我的经验而言,许多美国进口商并没有意识到行政复审调查的重要性。他们认为初步调查结束后,AD和CVD案也就此结束。许多进口商因为其中国供应商没有对行政复审做出回应,导致他们本身背负数百万美元的追溯性责任而因此措手不及。

2016年2月,我在中国期间发现很多中国太阳能公司或美国进口商没有在2015年12月提出复审调查请求。在其中一个例子中,某中国公司虽然在太阳能电池初步调查期间获得了单独税率,但是申请人向法庭提出了上诉。该中国公司并不知道有关的上诉案,结果进口商由于无法在2015年12月提出复审要求,现在欠下了数百万美元的反倾销税。

在另一个与太阳能产品有关的案例中,某中国公司针对CVD案提出了复审调查的要求,却没有对商务部的数量和价值问卷做出回应。这很可能导致当局根据“所有可得的事实”(All Facts Available)来向该中国公司征收超过50%的最高对华CVD税率。

在众多的CVD案例中,中国进口的铝合金型材所面对的局面最糟糕,受强制调查的公司若无法做出相关回应可被征收374%的CVD税率。一家中国公司在首个复审调查时联系上我们,因为海关刚裁定他们的汽车零部件属于铝合金型材生产项目。更糟的是,一家进口商在没有通知该中国公司的情况下,要求当局对其进行CVD审查,而他们也不晓得当局已经向他们发出一份数量和价值问卷。我们立即在初审的前一天提交了QV做出了回应。

可是这一切都已经太迟了,虽然该中国公司位于广州,商务部却逐一地根据中国的每一个省份和城市的补贴,向该中国公司征收了121%的AFA税率。我们通过向法庭提出上诉,将税率减少到了79%,可是这一税率还是很高,因此所有公司都有必要仔细地关注复审调查。

很多中国太阳能产品企业最想知道的,是如何降低AD和CVD税率,好让我们能再次将产品进口到美国。以太阳能电池的案例来看,当局向中国征收的统一性CVD税率仅为15%。当局向中国征收的统一性AD税率高达249%,这才是真正的入市门槛。

不过,美国的AD和CVD法律被认为是补救性而不是惩罚性法规,所以商务部每年在颁布AD或CVD令后,会在该月份允许包括美国国内生厂商、外国生厂商和美国进口商在内的各方,对上一年在美国销售的进口产品提出复审调查的要求。

因此,针对中国进口的太阳能电池的AD令是在2012年12月颁布的。一家中国生厂商和/或美国进口商可以在2016年12月,要求当局对从2015年12月1日至2016年11月31日期间进口到美国的中国太阳能电池进行复审调查。

中国公司或许会问,要求一家无关联的进口商承担298%的AD税,也就是支付超过1百万美元的费用,以便进口大批的太阳能电池到美国,是否太困难也太贵了。美国的AD和CVD法律是有追溯力的。因此,在AD或CVD令下,进口商在进口产品时会支付现款押金,并在复审调查结束后取回差额加上利息。

更重要的是,在一系列的案例中,商务部已经允许外国生厂商在其它销售方面都正常的情况下,出口少量产品作为试销用途。所以在一宗太阳能电池的复审调查案中,我们让出口商在销售其它产品的同时,出售少量的电池板作为试销用途以建立新的AD税率。

公司在复审案中的成功率有多大?在最近的一宗太阳能电池复审调查案中,我们将倾销率从249%下降到8.52%,协助中国太阳能电池公司重新进口产品到美国。

在复审调查期间了解如何应对并采取正确的策略,可以大幅度降低AD和CVD税率,并让中国公司重返美国市场。

STEEL TRADE CASES

HOT ROLLED STEEL FLAT PRODUCTS

On August 5, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-multiple-hot-rolled-steel-flat-products-ad-cvd-final-080816, Commerce issued final dumping determinations in Hot-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom cases, and a final countervailing duty determination of Hot-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Brazil, Korea, and Turkey.

Other than Brazil, Australia and the United Kingdom, most antidumping rates were in the single digits.

In the Countervailing duty case, most companies got rates in single digits, except for POSCO in Korea, which received a CVD rate of 57%.

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On September 8, 2016, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, pdf-published-fed-reg-notice-oppty, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of September. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products, Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons, Off the Road Tires, Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars.   The specific countervailing duty cases are: Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Narrow Woven Ribbons, Off the Road Tires, Flexible Magnets, and Magnesia Carbon Bricks.

For those US import companies that imported : Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products, Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons, Off the Road Tires, Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars during the antidumping period September 1, 2015-August 31, 2016 or the countervailing duty period of review, calendar year 2015, 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 AD and CVD 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.

STOP IP INFRINGING PRODUCTS FROM CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES USING CUSTOMS AND SECTION 337 CASES

With Amazon and Ebay having increased their efforts at bringing in Chinese sellers and with more and more Chinese manufacturers branching out and making their own products, the number of companies contacting our China lawyers here at Harris Moure about problems with counterfeit products and knockoffs has soared. If the problem involves infringing products being imported into the United States, powerful remedies are available to companies with US IP rights if the infringing imports are products coming across the US border.

If the IP holder has a registered trademark or copyright, the individual or company holding the trademark or copyright can go directly to Customs and record the trademark under 19 CFR 133.1 or the copyright under 19 CFR 133.31.  See https://iprr.cbp.gov/.

Many years ago a US floor tile company was having massive problems with imports infringing its copyrights on its tile designs.  Initially, we looked at a Section 337 case as described below, but the more we dug down into the facts, we discovered that the company simply failed to register its copyrights with US Customs.

Once the trademarks and copyrights are registered, however, it is very important for the company to continually police the situation and educate the various Customs ports in the United States about the registered trademarks and copyrights and the infringing imports coming into the US.  Such a campaign can help educate the Customs officers as to what they should be looking out for when it comes to identifying which imports infringe the trademarks and copyrights in question.  The US recording industry many years ago had a very successful campaign at US Customs to stop infringing imports.

For those companies with problems from Chinese infringing imports, another alternative is to go to Chinese Customs to stop the export of infringing products from China.  The owner of Beanie Babies did this very successfully having Chinese Customs stop the export of the infringing Beanie Babies out of China.

One of the most powerful remedies is a Section 337 case, which can block infringing products, regardless of their origin, from entering the U.S.  A Section 337 action (the name comes from the implementing statute, 19 U.S.C. 1337) is available against imported goods that infringe a copyright, trademark, patent, or trade secret. But because other actions are usually readily available to owners of registered trademarks and copyrights, Section 337 actions are particularly effective for owners of patents, unregistered trademarks, and trade secrets. Although generally limited to IP rights, in the ongoing Section 337 steel case, US Steel has been attempting to expand the definition of unfair acts to include hacking into computer systems and antitrust violations.

The starting point is a section 337 investigation at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  If the ITC finds certain imports infringe a specific intellectual property right, it can issue an exclusion order and U.S. Customs will then keep out all the infringing imports at the border.

Section 337 cases have been brought and exclusion orders issued against a vast range of different products: from toys (Rubik’s Cube Puzzles, Cabbage Patch Dolls) to footwear (Converse sneakers) to large machinery (paper-making machines) to consumer products (caskets, auto parts, electronic cigarettes and hair irons) to high tech products (computers, cell phones, and semiconductor chips).

Section 337 is a hybrid IP and trade statute, which requires a showing of injury to a US industry. The injury requirement is very low and can nearly always be met–a few lost sales will suffice to show injury. The US industry requirement can be a sticking point. The US industry is usually the one company that holds the intellectual property right in question. If the IP right is a registered trademark, copyright or patent, the US industry requirement has been expanded to not only include significant US investment in plant and equipment, labor or capital to substantial investment in the exploitation of the IP right, including engineering, research and development or licensing.  Recently, however, the ITC has raised the US industry requirement to make it harder for patent “trolls” or Non Practicing Entities to bring 337 cases.

Section 337 cases, however, are directed at truly unfair acts.  Patents and Copyrights are protected by the US Constitution so in contrast to antidumping and countervailing duty cases, respondents in these cases get more due process protection.  The Administrative Procedures Act is applied to Section 337 cases with a full trial before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), extended full discovery, a long trial type hearing, but on a very expedited time frame.

Section 337 actions, in fact, are the bullet train of IP litigation, fast, intense litigation in front of an ALJ.  The typical section 337 case takes only 12-15 months. Once a 337 petition is filed, the ITC has 30 days to determine whether or not to institute the case. After institution, the ITC will serve the complaint and notice of investigation on the respondents. Foreign respondents have 30 days to respond to the complaint; US respondents have only 20 days. If the importers or foreign respondents do not respond to the complaint, the ITC can find the companies in default and issue an exclusion order.

The ITC’s jurisdiction in 337 cases is “in rem,” which means it is over the product being imported into the US. This makes sense: the ITC has no power over the foreign companies themselves, but it does have power over the imports. What this means in everyday terms is that unlike most regular litigation, a Section 337 case can be effectively won against a Chinese company that 1) is impossible to serve, 2) fails to show up at the hearing, and 3) is impossible to collect any money from.

The remedy in section 337 cases is an exclusion order excluding the respondent’s infringing products from entering the United States. In special situations, however, where it is very easy to manufacture a product, the ITC can issue a general exclusion order against the World.  In the Rubik’s Cube puzzle case, which was my case at the ITC, Ideal (the claimant) named over 400 Taiwan companies as respondents infringing its common law trademark. The ITC issued a General Exclusion Order in 1983 and it is still in force today, blocking Rubik’s Cube not made by Ideal from entering the United States. In addition to exclusion orders, the ITC can issue cease and desist orders prohibiting US importers from selling products in inventory that infringe the IP rights in question

Section 337 cases can also be privately settled, but the settlement agreement is subject to ITC review. We frequently work with our respondent clients to settle 337 cases early to minimize their legal fees. In the early 1990s, RCA filed a section 337 case against TVs from China. The Chinese companies all quickly settled the case by signing a license agreement with RCA.

Respondents caught in section 337 cases often can modify their designs to avoid the IP right in question. John Deere brought a famous 337 case aimed at Chinese companies that painted their tractors green and yellow infringing John Deere’s trademark. Most of the Chinese respondents settled the case and painted their tractors different colors, such as blue and red.

Bottom Line: Section 337 cases are intense litigation before the ITC, and should be considered by U.S. companies as a tool for fighting against infringing products entering the United States. On the flip side, US importers and foreign respondents named in these cases should take them very seriously and respond quickly because exclusion orders can stay in place for years.

 

If you have any questions about these cases or about the antidumping or countervailing duty law, US trade policy, trade adjustment assistance, customs, or 337 IP/patent law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–DEVELOPMENTS IN TRADE, TAX, CUSTOMS, PATENTS/337, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Benjamin Franklin Statue Old Post Office Building Washington DC“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR BLOG UPDATE—SEPTEMBER 11, 2014

SEPTEMBER UPDATE

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in early September in the Trade and Chinese antitrust areas of interest.

SPEECH IN VANCOUVER CANADA ON US SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA—RUSSIAN TRADE LESSON

On September 3, 2014, I spoke 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 are copies of the powerpoint for the speech US SANCTIONS RUSSIA and a description of our Russian/Ukrainian/Latvian Trade Practice for US importers and exporters. RUSSIAN TRADE PRACTICEThe sanctions will be described more in my September newsletter.

But my speech started with a quote from the last paragraph of the September 3, 2014 Wall Street Journal editorial about the Russian crisis, entitled “Deterring a European War”, which states:

“The temptation of democracies is to believe that autocrats treasure peace and stability as much as we do. Europeans in particular want to believe that their postwar institutions and economic integration have ended their violent history. But autocrats often prosper from disorder, and they need foreign enemies to feed domestic nationalism. This describes Russia under Mr. Putin, who is Europe’s new Bonaparte. His goal is to break NATO, and he’ll succeed unless the alliance’s leaders respond forcefully to the threat.”

This powerful paragraph reflects the very serious military situation between Russia and the EC and the US. But let’s probe a little more deeply.

What is the difference between Russia and China and our relationship with the two countries—Trade. When I was a young attorney at the ITC, a former Chairman Catherine Bedell, who was the first woman to be elected to the US Congress from Washington State, came to speak to the ITC staff. Former Chairman Bedell emphasized in her speech that our work at the ITC was not just simple trade work. It was the work of promoting peace.

President Reagan understood this. More trade means more peace and less chance of a shooting war.

The United States has 796,000 US jobs dependent upon exports to China, and China has millions of jobs dependent on exports to the US.

But what about Russia? The answer is much less trade coming from Russia. In 2013, the United States imported approximately $27 billion from Russia as compared to $464 billion from China. Of the Russian imports, $19 billion was for oil, and the rest for raw materials, including iron and steel products, chemicals, metals, fertilizer and fish. With China, electronics leads the way.

Much of what Russia exports is oil, raw materials and steel products. Many steel products and urea, fertilizer, are blocked by US Antidumping Orders or a Steel Agreement. There is less trade and with less trade it is much easier to have a shooting war.

In 1986 when I was working at the Commerce Department, one of Russia’s most important exports, Urea, fertilizer, was attacked with an antidumping case, which resulted in an antidumping order on July 14, 1987. The case was so long ago that it was not against Russia. It was against the entire Soviet Union.

When the Soviet Union broke up, the Commerce Department issued antidumping orders against Urea from all the member countries in the Soviet Union. Most of the orders against the other member states in the Soviet Union have been lifted, but not the orders against Russia or Ukraine. Urea from both countries are still covered by antidumping orders from the original 1986 case. In early November 2011, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) extended the antidumping orders for another five years. So we have had antidumping orders on Urea from Russia and Ukraine for almost 3o years.

One company, Eurochem, has been able to get through the antidumping order because in contrast to China Russia is considered a market economy country, but every other Russian company is blocked. Why is Russia considered a market economy country and not China? Because of 911, President Bush wanted Russian military bases to attack Afghanistan. President Putin of Russia, being a tough negotiator, said make Russia a market economy under the US antidumping and countervailing duty law. Secretary Evans of Commerce flew into Moscow and said it looks like a market economy to me. As CBS news stated about the announcement:

“The Russian leader has aggressively pursued closer ties with the West since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and many analysts had predicted the United States would grant Russia market economy status and help in its WTO bid in exchange for Putin’s strong support for the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan.”

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/russia-joins-club-capitalism/

But even with the change in the US antidumping law, Russian imports remain relatively low, and the United States has less influence. Because of the importance of the present situation with Russia and the interest of US exporters and US importers, my blog and newsletter will include a new section on trade with Russia and the US sanctions in place against trade with Russia. More will come out in the next newsletter and blog post.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE AGAINST BOLTLESS STEEL SHELVING FROM CHINA

On August 26, 2014, Edsall Manufacturing filed a new AD and CVD case against Boltless Steel Shelving from China. The alleged Antidumping rates are 33 to 267%.

The ITC will hold its preliminary conference on September 16, 2014. Attached are the ITC notice and the relevant pages of the petition.  ITC PRELIMINARY NOTICE STEEL SHELVING SHORT PETITION

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On September 2, 2014, Commerce published in the Federal Register the attached notice, SEPT REVIEWS ,regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of September. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Freshwater Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products,   Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge, New Pneumatic Off-The-Road Tires, Raw Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars.

The specific countervailing duty cases are:

Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge, New Pneumatic Off-The-Road Tires, and Raw Flexible Magnets.

For those US import companies that imported Freshwater Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products,   Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge, New Pneumatic Off-The-Road Tires, Raw Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period September 1, 2013-August 31, 2014 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2013 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 final determination in the Wood Flooring Case, for example, although the rates were very low for many Chinese exporters, only 5%, 20 Chinese exporters had their rates go to 58% because they did not participate in the review investigation and did not file a no shipment certification, separate rate application or separate rate certification at the Commerce Department.

NEW MAJOR 337 PATENT CASE AGAINST PERSONAL TRANSPORTERS FROM CHINA

On September 9, 2014, Segway filed a major 337 patent case against imports of personal transporters from a number of Chinese companies in Beijing and Shenzhen. The ITC notice is below and the relevant parts of the Petition are attached. SHORT PERSONAL TRANSPORTERS 337 Complaint Segway is requesting a general exclusion order to exclude all personal transporters from China and other countries and also cease and desist orders to stop importers from selling infringing personal transporters in their inventory.

Chinese companies must respond to the complaint in about 60 days, 30 days for Institution and 30 days from service of complaint. If the Chinese companies fail to respond, they can be found in default and exclusion orders against their products can be issued.

If anyone has questions about this compliant, please feel free to contact me.

Dorsey & Whitney has substantial expertise in the patent and 337 areas. Recently, we were able to win a major 337 case for a Japanese company in the Point-to Point Network Communication Devices 337 case.

Docket No: 3032

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: David F. Nickel

Firm/Org: Foster & Murphy

Behalf Of: Segway Inc. and DEKA Products Limited Partnership

Date Received: September 9, 2014

Commodity: Personal Transporters

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Personal Transporters, Components Thereof, and Manuals Therefor . The proposed respondents are: PowerUnion (Beijing) Tech Co. Ltd., Beijing; UPTECH Robotics Technology Co., Ltd., Beijing; Beijing Universal Pioneering Robotics Co., Ltd., Beijing; Beijing Universal Pioneering Technology Co., Ltd., Beijing; Ninebot Inc.,(in China) Beijing; Ninebot Inc., Newark, DE; Shenzhen INMOTION Technologies Co., Ltd., Guangdong; Robstep Robot Co., Ltd., Guangdong; FreeGo High-Tech Corporation Limited, Shenzhen; Freego USA, LLC, Sibley, IA; Tech in the City, Honolulu, HI; and Roboscooters.com, Laurel Hill, NC.

Status: Pending Institution

RISE IN CHINESE ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES CREATES INTENSE CONCERN FROM US AND FOREIGN COMPANIES

In September 2014, the US China Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce published the attached major reports/survey from US Companies about the impact of the Chinese anti-monopoly law on US business in China.  US CHINA BUSINESS COUNCIL REPORT CHINA AML The Executive Summary of the US China Business Council report states as follows:

Executive Summary

  • China’s increased level of competition enforcement activity and the high-profile reporting of its competition investigations have prompted growing attention and concern from US companies. Eighty-six percent of companies responding to the US-China Business Council’s (USCBC’s) 2014 member company survey indicated they are at least somewhat concerned about China’s evolving competition regime—although more so about the potential impact than actual experience so far.
  • China’s competition regime framework is relatively new. The Antimonopoly Law (AML) came into force in 2008 after Chinese authorities spent more than a decade drafting the law and consulting with foreign competition authorities from the United States, the European Union, and other jurisdictions. The AML draws from elements of both the US and EU competition laws, though it is more closely tied to the EU model and contains some elements unique to China.
  • The rise in competition-related investigations has corresponded to the buildup in personnel at regulatory agencies following the AML’s implementation.
  • USCBC monitoring of publicly announced cases indicates that both foreign and domestic companies have been targets of AML-related investigations, but that foreign companies appear to have faced increasing scrutiny in recent months.
  • The perception that foreign companies are being disproportionately targeted is also fueled by China’s domestic media reporting, which has played up foreign-related investigations versus those of domestic companies.
  • Targeted or not, foreign companies have well-founded concerns about how investigations are conducted and decided. Company concerns include:

o Fair treatment and nondiscrimination

o Lack of due process and regulatory transparency

o Lengthy time periods for merger reviews

o Role of non-competitive factors in competition enforcement

o Determination of remedies and fines

o Broad definition of monopoly agreements

  • Bigger questions remain unanswered about the objectives of China’s competition regime, such as: Will China use the AML to protect domestic industry rather than promote fair competition? Is the government using the AML to force lower prices, rather than let the “market play the decisive role” as enshrined in the new economic reform program? The answers are not fully determined yet, but in at least some cases so far there are reasons for concern.

The report by the US China Business Council was followed by the attached even stronger report by the US Chamber of Commerce in China entitled, Competing Interests in China’s Competition Law Enforcement: China’s Anti-Monopoly Law Application and the Role of Industrial Policy, AM CHAM ACTUAL REPORT ON AML. My September newsletter and blog post will have more about the rise of the Chinese anti-monopoly law. What goes around, does indeed come around.

AUGUST NEWSLETTER

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, Solar Cells, Tax, Trade Agreements, 337/IP, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas in August 2014.

I have been late in sending out this blog post because the Trade War keeps expanding into many different areas, especially antitrust. The United States has brought a shotgun to the Trade War with its antidumping and countervailing duty laws against Chinese companies, and the Chinese government has brought a bazooka to the Trade War with the enforcement of its Antimonopoly Law/Antitrust laws against US and other foreign companies. What goes around, does indeed come around.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

BEIJING ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING

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.

We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement 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. The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries. We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.

Congressmen have agreed to meet importers to listen to their grievances regarding the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws. In addition to contacting US importers, we are now contacting many Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they are interested in participating in the Alliance.

As indicated above, at the present time, Commerce takes the position that it will not make China a market economy country in 2016 as required by the WTO Accession Agreement because the 15 years is in a treaty and not in the US antidumping and countervailing duty law. Changes to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law against China can only happen because of a push by US importers and end user companies. In US politics, only squeaky wheels get the grease.

On August 7, 2014, we held an organizational meeting in Beijing, China at the headquarters of China Ocean Shipping Company (“COSCO”) with interested Chambers of Commerce and Chinese companies to explain the project in more detail and to seek help in contacting US importers about the Alliance.

We spoke to about 40 attendees, including attendees from the legal departments of the top 10 chambers of commerce, including Chemicals, Machinery and Electronics, Light Industrial Products, and Food, and the Steel, Wood Products and Hydraulics and Pneumatics & Seals Association.

In addition to describing the Import Alliance and the issues regarding 2016 in the US China Accession Agreement, we also discussed the US China Trade War in general. Introductory videos for Organizational Meeting from Cal Scott of Polder Inc., the President of the Import Alliance, can be found at the following link https://vimeo.com/103556227 and for former Congressmen Don Bonker and Cliff Stearns of APCO can be found at the following link https://vimeo.com/103556226 along with the powerpoint FINAL WEB BEIJING IMPORT ALLIANCE POWERPOINT we used to describe the Import Alliance, the specific provision in the US China WTO Agreement and the Trade War in general.

TRADE

TAX IMPLICATIONS OF US ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

Recently, it has come to my attention that a major problem for importers that import under antidumping and countervailing duty orders is the US tax laws. As indicated in past blog posts, the US Congress is screaming because US importers are not paying all the antidumping and countervailing duties that are retroactively assessed.

As mentioned previously, the United States is the only country in the World that has retroactive liability for US importers in antidumping and countervailing duty cases. When an antidumping or countervailing duty order is issued, the rates in the orders are not the actual dumping or countervailing duties owed by US importers to the US government. The published rates are merely the cash deposit rates to be posted by US importers, when they import under an antidumping or countervailing duty order. The actual duties are determined during annual review investigations that often start up one year after the antidumping or countervailing duty order are issued.

Review investigations start up in the anniversary month in which the specific order is issued and will take a year and a half. So at a minimum, after the importer imports the product into the United States under an antidumping or countervailing duty order, it will take two and a half years, one year for the review investigation to start up and then a year and a half for Commerce to conduct the review investigation for the importer to learn how much it actually owes the US government. If the Commerce Department’s final determination is appealed to the Courts, it can take 5 to 10 years before the US importer knows how much it actually owes the US government.

If the antidumping or countervailing duty rate goes up in the annual review investigation, the US importer is retroactively liable for the difference plus interest. In numerous cases, such as Ironing Tables, Wooden Bedroom Furniture, Mushrooms and other China cases, rates can go from 0% or 16% to 157, 216 and 300%, creating millions of dollars in retroactive liability for US importers and often bankruptcy.

Congress then screams that US importers do not pay the duties that are due, but according to David Musser, a tax accountant, at Nicholas Cauley that I have been talking to, if a US importer sets up an internal fund to pay off any potential antidumping or countervailing duties, that fund is taxable because it is not considered a deductible expense. So the US government has set up a system where it is impossible for the importer to protect itself from increased antidumping or countervailing duties.

As David Musser states:

“ANTIDUMPING TARIFFS – ACCOUNTING TREATMENT vs. TAX DEDUCTION

Antidumping duties that attach to certain imports create accounting issues that may be in conflict with income tax deduction rules. The rule for deducting an expense for income tax purposes is that it must pass the all events test and economic performance occurs. This means that the liability for the antidumping fees must be fixed and determinable and paid (economic performance) for it to be tax deductible. This can create a large timing difference for deductibility since the Commerce Department may not determine the fees owed until a minimum of two and half years after the import was made. So if you accrue an amount for estimated antidumping fees, the amount is not fixed and determinable at that point and is not deductible. If you pay a deposit for the fees, you have satisfied economic performance, but the amount is still not fixed and determinable.

This appears to be in conflict with matching rules where specific expenses are matched in the same year to related income items, especially if you are passing the cost of the antidumping fees to your customers. Depending on how you invoice, there may be a potential to reduce the effect of the tax timing difference. This would require the antidumping fees/deposits to be separately stated on the sales invoice and accounted for as deferred antidumping fees on your balance sheet. This does not completely eliminate the timing difference associated with the fees, but it may be better than waiting two and a half years or more to get the deduction.”

In a May, 5, 1995 letter ruling 538001, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) stated:

“In the present case, the deposits were determined on the basis of transactions that occurred in a prior year. The deposits are specifically characterized as such by the relevant provisions of the applicable statutes and regulations. There is no necessary correlation between the circumstances in the year that provided the basis for the deposits and the circumstances that exist in the year the deposits are required. . . .

An importer’s ability to influence the ultimate disposition of a deposit required by an antidumping duty order is consistent with the characterization of the amount as a deposit. If an importer sells merchandise that is subject to the deposit requirement at fair value, the importer can ensure the recovery of the deposit. Generally, an asserted liability is not affected by the subsequent actions (other than administrative or judicial review) of the obligor. . . .

CONCLUSION

In the circumstances described, the Taxpayer’s deduction for antidumping duties is not allowable for the taxable year in which the antidumping duty order was issued. Antidumping duties are determined on the basis of the weighted-average dumping margins on all U.S. sales during the period covered by an administrative review of an antidumping duty order or, in the absence of a request for administrative review, on the basis of deposits required by an antidumping duty order. In either case, occurrence of all events necessary to allow a reasonable basis for determination of the amount of a liability for antidumping duties had not taken place before the end of the taxable year for which the Taxpayer claimed a deduction for antidumping duties.”

The 1995 tax ruling, however, is completely wrong as it applies to antidumping cases against China.  The writer of the ruling assumed “an importer can sell merchandise that is subject to the deposit requirement at fair value”. As readers of this blog know, since antidumping duties in Chinese cases are not based on actual market prices and costs in China, it is impossible for the Chinese exporter to know whether it is dumping, never mind the US importer.  With regards to China, Commerce constructs a cost using consumption factors from Chinese producers multiplied by surrogate values from import statistics from 10 potential surrogate countries, ranging from Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, to Columbia or Bulgaria and those countries can change in subsequent review investigations.

Because of the fact that actual price and costs in China are not used to determine Chinese antidumping rates, it is impossible for the Chinese company or the US importer to know whether it is dumping. Thus, the US importer that is trying to protect itself from bankruptcy is in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

SEPARATE ANTIDUMPING RATES—NO LONGER A PRO FORMA EXERCISE– MUCH TOUGHER FOR STATE OWNED COMPANIES

With December 11, 2016 and the requirement in the US China WTO Agreement that China is a market economy country coming up, one would expect Commerce to relax the requirements regarding separate rates for state owned companies. Instead, Commerce is making it more difficult for Chinese state owned companies that are under the supervision of the PRC’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (“SASAC”) to get their own separate antidumping rate.

Based on recent attached decisions in the Court of International Trade in the Diamond Sawblades case, specifically two opinions in the Advanced Technology & Materials Co., Ltd. v. United States, ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY TWO CIT CIT ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY 11-12211-122, where the Court, in effect, forced Commerce to deny a separate rate to Advanced Technology because part of the ownership was by SASAC, Commerce has made it more difficult for Chinese companies under the control of or owned in part by the State-Owned Assets Commission to get separate dumping margins/separate rates.

Recently, in the preliminary determination in 1,1,1, 2 Tetrafluoroethane from China case, Commerce overturned decades of past decisions giving Sinochem a separate antidumping rate, and determined that many Chinese companies, including numerous Sinochem companies, were not entitled to a separate dumping rate. In the May 22, 2014 preliminary determination, in the Issues and Decision memo, AD Tetrafluoroethane Prelim Decision Memo-5-21-14, the Commerce Department stated:

The Department has not granted a separate rate to the following additional Separate Rate Applicants: SC Ningbo International Ltd (“SC Ningbo International”), Sinochem Environmental Protection Chemicals (Taichang) Co., Ltd. (“SC Taicang”), Sinochem Ningbo Ltd. (“SC Ningbo”), Zhejiang Quhua Fluor-Chemistry Co., Ltd. (“Quhua-Fluor”), Zhejiang Quzhou Lianzhou Refrigerants Co., Ltd. (“Lianzhou”) and Aerospace for the following reasons:

“The Department preliminary determines that SC Taicang, SC Ningbo Ltd. and SC Ningbo International have not demonstrated an absence of de facto government control.Specifically, each of these companies is under the control of Sinochem Group, a 100%-owned SASAC [State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council]entity.Evidence shows that members of Sinochem Group’s board of directors and management actively participate in the day-to-day operations of SC Taicang, SC Ningbo Ltd. and SC Ningbo International as members of the board of directors. Furthermore, while the boards of these companies claim they are not involved in the day-to-day activities, each board oversees every aspect of the company, including the hiring and firing of the managers and determining their remuneration.

Accordingly, based on this evidence, we find that these companies have not demonstrated an absence of de facto government control.

Similarly, the Department preliminarily determines that neither Quhua nor Lianzhou demonstrated an absence of de facto government control. Specifically, both of these companies are under the control of Juhua Group, a 100%-owned SASAC entity, and evidence shows that members of Juhua Group’s board of directors and management actively participate in the day-to-day operations of Quhua and Lianzhou as executive directors. Further, the Juhua Group holds monthly price discussions and sets price guidance for sales of the merchandise under consideration. Accordingly, based on this evidence, we find that these companies have not demonstrated an absence of de facto government control.

Similarly, the Department preliminary determines that Aerospace did not demonstrate an absence of de facto government control. Specifically, Aerospace’s controlling Board members are also on the Board of its largest single owner China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp. (“CASIC”), a 100%-owned SASAC entity, and evidence shows that members of CASIC’s board of directors actively participate in the day-to-day operations of Aerospace.  Aerospace’s Board elects the company’s general manager and the Board will appoint or dismiss other senior managers based upon the general manager’s recommendation. Although the ownership from SASAC is less than a majority, record evidence leads us to conclude that the other shareholders have no formal authority to appoint board members or directors. Accordingly, based on this evidence, we find that Aerospace has not demonstrated an absence of de facto government control.”

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT??

On June 3, 2014, Commerce issued its preliminary countervailing duty determination against China in the Solar Products case. The fact sheet and preliminary Federal Register notice are posted on my blog in my last post. The Countervailing Duty Rates range from 18.56% for Trina to 35.21% for Wuxi Suntech and all other Chinese companies getting 26.89%.

As stated in the attached Commerce Department memo, ADCVD Solar Products Ex Parte Phone Call with Senator Patty Murray (WA)-7-23-14, on July 23rd, Senator Patty Murray spoke to Commerce expressing her concern of the impact of the Commerce Department determination on REC Silicon, a polysilicon producer in Washington.

On July 25th, the Commerce Department announced its preliminary antidumping determination in the Chinese solar products case establishing 47.27% combined rates (20.38% Antidumping, 26.89% Countervailing Duty) wiping out billions of dollars in imports of Chinese solar products into the United States. More specifically, on July 25, 2014, DOC announced preliminary AD duties ranging from 27.59 to 44.18 percent for Chinese companies, and 27.59 to 44.18 percent for Taiwanese companies. With the set off for countervailing duties, however, the antidumping rates are offset resulting in a lower overall cash deposit rate.

Attached are the Commerce Department’s Factsheet, Solar Products AD Prelim Fact Sheet 072514 (1), Federal Register notice, FR Notice AD Solar Products Affirmative Prelim Determination Postponement of Final Determination-7-31-14, Issues and Decision memo from the Antidumping Preliminary Determination, AD Solar Products Decision Memo for Prelim Determination-7-24-14, along with Commerce instructions to Customs in the Solar Products Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases, COMMERCE INSTRUCTIONS TO CUSTOMS COMMERCE CVD INSTRUCTIONS CHINA CUSTOMS, which will help importers understand what products are covered by this case.

Attached also is the ITC scheduling notice for its final injury investigation in the Solar Products case. FR Notice ITC Solar Products Scheduling of Final Phase of CVD AD Inv -8-25-14 The ITC hearing is scheduled for December 8, 2014.

On August 15th, after an extension, the Chinese government filed a letter at Commerce expressing an interest in a suspension agreement, but no proposed formal agreement has been filed with the Department.

Once and if any agreement is negotiated, Commerce will disclose the terms of the Agreement and seek public comment. Pursuant to the Statute, the Petitioner must approve the Agreement, which will make it much more difficult to negotiate an Agreement acceptable to Solar World. But miracles can happen.

If the Chinese government were to submit a proposed settlement agreement to Commerce, that might start negotiations. But the underlying antidumping and countervailing duty cases on Solar Products are moving quickly with verifications of the Chinese companies already underway and a final Commerce Department determination due in December and an ITC final injury determination in January 2015. There is little time left for negotiations or posturing.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Chinese solar companies are moving to set up production facilities in third countries, such as India. In addition, Solar companies in third countries, such as REC Group in Norway and a German company with production facilities in Singapore and Malaysia, are reporting increased sales.

Also there have been reports that REC Silicon, a US polysilicon producer, is now moving forward with a joint venture in China, rather than increasing its investment in Washington State.

TAIWAN SOLAR PRODUCTS

On August 21, 2014, in the attached Federal Register notice, FR Notice AD Solar Products from Taiwan- Notice of Amended Prelim Determination-8-22-14, because of a “ministerial” error in its calculation, the Commerce Department reduced significantly the preliminary antidumping rate of the Taiwan respondent, Motech Industries Inc., from 44.18 percent to 20.86 percent. Apparently Commerce made a mistake in its calculations by adding a warranty expense to the normal/foreign value of Motech’s products without first converting that expense from New Taiwan dollars to U.S. dollars. This decision has also caused the all other rate for other Taiwan companies to fall to 24.23%.

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—TPA, TPP, TTIP/TA AND BALI/DOHA ROUND

As mentioned in past blog posts, in the trade world, the most important developments may be the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic (TA)/ the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP negotiations and the WTO.  These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues becomes a focal point in Congress and many Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

This is particularly a problem because the protectionism is coming from the Democratic side of the aisle. Democratic Senators and Congressmen are supported by labor unions. To date, President Obama cannot get one Democratic Congressman in the House of Representatives to support Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) in Congress. Without bipartisan/Democratic support for these Trade Agreements, Republicans will not go out on a limb to support President Obama and risk being shot at by the Democrats during the mid-term elections as soft on trade.

As mentioned in prior blog posts, on January 29th, the day after President Obama pushed the TPA in the State of the Union, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid stated that the TPA bill would not be introduced on the Senate Floor.

To summarize, on January 9, 2014, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, which is posted in my February post, was introduced into Congress. The TPA bill gives the Administration, USTR and the President, Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority so that if and when USTR negotiates a trade deal in the TPP or the Trans-Atlantic negotiations, the Agreement will get an up or down vote in the US Congress with no amendments.

Under the US Constitution, Congress, not the President has the power to regulate trade with foreign countries. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, of the Constitution empowers Congress “to regulate Commerce with foreign nations” Thus to negotiate a trade agreement, the Congress gives the Executive Branch, the Administration/The President and United States Trade Representative (“USTR”), the Power to negotiate trade deals.

Because trade deals are negotiated with the foreign countries, the only way to make the system work is that under the TPA law when the Trade Agreement is negotiated, the Congress will agree to have an up or down vote on the entire Agreement and no amendments to the Agreement that has already been negotiated will be allowed.

On April 9, 2014, the new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden announced at a speech to the American Apparel & Footwear Association Conference that he was introducing a new TPA bill, what Senator Wyden calls Smart Track. But to date no details have been given about exactly what Smart Track will mean, other than more oversight by Congress and input by the Public in the trade negotiations.

On July 16, 2014, the American Iron and Steel Institute, which represents all the US steel manufacturers, stated that any future legislation that grants the president Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or implements a free trade agreement must contain provisions on trade enforcement, including changes to the U.S. trade remedy law, the enactment of the ENFORCE Act, to put more pressure on US Customs to address transshipment and other issues, and language to address currency manipulation. The US Steel Industry and the United Steel Workers (“USW”) are also requesting Congress to lower the injury standards in antidumping and countervailing duty cases to make it easier for the ITC to go affirmative in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

On July 17th, all Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to USTR Froman, which is posted on my last July blog post, urging the Administration to build support for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and directing the Administration not to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before TPA is enacted into law.

Now the story continues . . . .

On July 30th in the attached letter, JAPAN TPP HOUSE REPS tpp_market_access_letter.pdfHpR)_R)wR)_, close to 100 Congressmen/women wrote to the USTR to express their concern regarding the agricultural negotiations with regard to Japan and Canada. They stated:

We write to express our deep concern over Japan’s current market access ·offer within the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. When Japan joined these negotiations, it agreed that the elimination of tariffs is a key feature of the agreement, as announced by TPP leaders on November 12, 2011. Unfortunately, Japan’s current position falls far short of acceptability.

Specifically, Japan is seeking to exempt numerous tariff lines from complete elimination with the United States. If accepted, this unprecedented and objectionable offer would significantly limit access for U.S. farmers and ranchers to the Japanese market, and most likely, to other TPP countries as well.

Furthermore, caving to Japan’s demands would set a damaging precedent, compromising the U.S. negotiating position with future TPP members. This result runs the significant risk that the EU will be encouraged to make unacceptably weak offers in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, undermining Congressional support. In that same vein, we are also troubled by Canada’s lack of ambition, which is threatening a robust outcome for U.S. farmers.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership was envisioned as a high-standard, 21st century trade agreement that would be a model for all future U.S. free trade agreements. To realize this goal, we urge you to hold Japan and Canada to the same high standards as other TPP partners. Otherwise, Congressional support for a final TPP agreement will be jeopardized.

Indeed, we urge you to pursue the TPP negotiations without any country, including Japan, Canada, or others, that proves unwilling to open its market in accordance with these high standards. We owe our farmers and ranchers the best deal possible.

On August 14, 2014 the North American steel, automotive and textile industries called on USTR to include currency manipulation in future trade deals, including the TPP.

USTR Froman in prior statements has acknowledged the importance of dealing with rampant currency manipulation in countries such as China but has stopped short of indicating whether or not the rules would make their way into the TPP. He has also been careful to note that Treasury takes the lead on all issues relating to currency.

On August 19, 2014, the Electronic Frontier called on Sen. Ron Wyden, head of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, to create more transparent rules overseeing the negotiation and passage of free trade agreements, warning against overly restrictive protections for copyrights. The Electronic Frontier launched a petition calling on Wyden to introduce and pass legislation that would grant unprecedented access to trade negotiating texts and meetings for lawmakers and other observers, along with negotiating objectives that would balance the rights of both users and private industry.

On August 27, 2014, it was reported that TPP negotiators will meet for 10 days in Hanoi, Vietnam to discuss various issues, including food safety, intellectual property, investment, technical barriers to trade, environmental rules and state-owned enterprises. But because of the political situation, experts doubt that a serious breakthrough will occur and that the decisions necessary to close the deal still need to be made at the highest levels of government. The hope, however, is that the Hanoi session will allow the negotiators to narrow the gaps on the way to an agreement.

But the differences with Japan and the lack of Trade Promotion Authority are two big issues that need to be addressed by the US Government. Without these two issues being resolved, the chance of any big breakthroughs in Hanoi are small. These two problems would appear to prevent a final deal at the November APEC meeting, which has been an objective of the Obama Administration.

INDIA WANTS TO JOIN THE TPP???

On August 12, 2014, Indian government officials stated that the TPP presents a substantial opportunity for India to bring its own trade regime up to global standards. Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher told a Confederation of Indian Industry conference in New Delhi that while India is not a member of the TPP talks, the finalization of the 12-nation pact may serve as the catalyst for India to take a more active role in the global trading system and diversify its economy.

In summarizing the event the Confederation stated “Kher observed that there are several countries in the world that are not part of the TPP and India could enhance its trade relations with these countries. The TPP also gives India an opportunity to pay greater attention to strengthening its services sector so as to diversify it away from information technology as well as to bring about trade facilitation measures to boost trade.”

External Affairs Secretary Sujata Mehta also speaking at the event said that whatever rules become enshrined in the TPP agreement may well become the “gold standard” for global trade regulation moving forward and that developing countries will be affected by the pact even if they are not parties to it.

According to CII, “Mehta felt that India needed to work on a successful response, especially on non-tariff issues so as not to be shut out of the global markets. . . . She was of the view that India needs to achieve a balance between our economic goals and strategic interests.”

In light of India’s decision to kill the trade facilitation agreement negotiated in Bali at the World Trade Organization meeting, as described below, however, it is very doubtful that many countries in the TPP would welcome India into the Group. China would be a much better candidate because it is less ideological and more willing to make the necessary compromises to be included in the Agreement.

INDIA KILLS WTO TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT NEGOTIATED IN BALI

On July 31st, the WTO announced that the Trade Facilitation Agreement negotiated in Bali would not be implemented on schedule because of the substantial opposition from developing nations led by India, which wishes to limit the pact because of food security initiatives.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said on July 31st that a late-night informal session of the WTO’s Trade Negotiating Committee in Geneva failed in a last-ditch attempt to find common ground with the holdout countries. Azevedo stated that “I am very sorry to report that despite these efforts I do not have the necessary elements that would lead me to conclude that a breakthrough is possible. We got closer — significantly closer — but not quite there. At this late hour, with the deadline just a matter of moments away, I don’t have anything in my hands that makes me believe that we can successfully reach consensus.”

Because of outstanding differences that Azevedo termed “unbridgeable,” the WTO members will not be able to implement the deal, a move that required a consensus among members. The modest Trade Agreement was regarded as a sign that the WTO could be a forum to create new broad trade rules, in spite of the collapse of the Doha round of trade talks.

Azevedo went on to plead with the negotiators, “So please, take this time to reflect—and let’s be ready to discuss the way forward on these issues when you return. The future of the multilateral trading system is in your hands.”

But opposition from developing countries, chiefly India, has grown louder in recent weeks. While India’s specific demands have not been made public, the country has said that it will not agree to implement the facilitation deal without first securing a permanent solution on food security, a key priority for developing nations.

Top US trade officials criticized India for trying to alter the strict deadlines for each agreement laid out in Bali. India, however, has repeatedly refused to compromise, rejecting calls at the G-20 summit of trade ministers and the WTO’s General Council to follow through on the deal it made in Bali.

In response on August 1, 2014, House of Representatives Chairman Congressman Dave Camp of Ways and Means Committee along with Trade Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes made the following attached statement, HOUSE INDIA TRADE FACILITATION DEAL KILLED:

Rep. Camp: “India’s actions last night to bring down implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement are completely unacceptable and put into doubt its credibility as a responsible trading partner. As we determine next steps, I am committed to the WTO as an institution, and I hope that we can salvage the Trade Facilitation Agreement, either with or without India.”

Rep. Nunes: “It’s one thing for a country to be a tough negotiator. It is entirely another to agree to a deal with your trading partners, and then just simply walk away months later, insisting instead on one-sided changes. That’s what India has done here by going back on its word, running the risk of eliminating any sense of good will toward it.”

And India now wants to join the TPP??? As they say in New York, “Ferget about it.”

On August 6, 2014, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht stated that the European Union would have been willing to support “any solution” that would respect the substance of the deal.

The Bali package was the first unanimous trade agreement since the WTO’s inception and included a so-called cease-fire on challenges to India’s food subsidy programs while the countries worked to find a permanent solution by 2017. But India backed off on the deal insisting food security move to the front hoping to push more members to join them.

The ramifications from India’s decision could mean a near-fatal blow to the WTO’s already failing effort to craft comprehensive new global rules to govern international commerce. Experts said that the shrinking of the WTO as a negotiating platform would likely lead to a shift toward smaller, binational, talks among willing countries members and regional free trade agreements, such as the TPP.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo made clear that the members’ inaction would have far-reaching implications for the multilateral negotiating system.

“My sense, in the light of the things I hear from you, is that this is not just another delay which can simply be ignored or accommodated into a new timetable — this will have consequences. And it seems to me, from what I hear in my conversations with you, that the consequences are likely to be significant.”

With the first of those trade agreements now facing an uncertain future after this week’s missed deadline, many trade experts are pessimistic that the multilateral system can ever be workable again. As one trade lawyer stated “If agreements agreed to by all governments of the world become subject to hostage-taking by a country who desires a change in the package, then you have no sense in negotiating because it’s not going to be worth anything.”

Meanwhile on August 19, 2014, Members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, including China, vowed to do everything in their power to improve the flow of goods across their borders even as the WTO Agreement falls apart. The APEC Committee on Trade and Investment restated their commitment to trade facilitation, indicating that they will take matters into their own hands if no progress can be made on the multilateral stage.

CHAOTIC TRADE SITUATION WITH COLLAPSE OF WTO TALKS

The collapse in Trade Facilitation Agreement has led many experts to question the future of the WTO Multilateral system. In an article published on August 18th, Terry Stewart, a well-known trade lawyer in Washington DC, stated:

“The World Trade Organization has existed for almost 19 years, replacing the former General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1995. . . . Last December, trade ministers from the WTO eeked out a last-minute compromise to permit an agreement on trade facilitation to be reached and to agree to commitments on a range of other topics at the 9th Ministerial in Bali, Indonesia. . . . The trade facilitation agreement (“TFA”) had long been viewed as a win win for all members. Some estimates of the benefits to the world economy were as high as $1 trillion and the creation of some 21 million jobs (most in the developing world). . . .

The WTO membership operates on momentum. When there is optimism based on success or progress, the membership appears capable of searching for solutions and the organization can achieve significant forward movement. . . .

Where there are missed deadlines or spoiled expectations, WTO members go into lockdown positions, where officials in Geneva are basically just going through the motions, and the organization’s negotiating function effectively shuts down for extended periods. . . .

But never before have WTO members (or GATT contracting parties before them) ever failed to move a new agreement approved by ministers through the steps of a legal scrub and adoption of appropriate documents to permit the agreement to be opened for ratification by members. Yet that is exactly what happened last month as India (with some support from a few other countries) refused to permit adoption of a simple protocol of amendment to add the trade facilitation agreement to the WTO agreements and to open the agreement for ratification by the membership.

The failure was not just another missed deadline. The failure sends the WTO once again to the precipice of irrelevance for trade negotiations. . . ..

The path out of the crisis India has created is not clear. While India has downplayed the importance of the missed date and the significance of changing the balance of the Bali package, the dilemma for others is more obvious. If a WTO member can hold the membership hostage on an agreed upon direction in the hopes of altering a previously agreed balance, negotiations at the WTO become meaningless and subject to repeated hostage-taking.”

As former US Trade Representative Susan Schwab recently stated, the stalling of multilateral efforts to craft cohesive global trade and investment rules has pushed nations both large and small to pursue more limited agreements that can squarely address their most immediate concerns in a given region, but the proliferation of these efforts has substantially complicated the operations of businesses across several sectors. Schwab stated, “Even the largest multinational firms, stepping back and looking at what is going on, their heads are spinning trying to figure out how this affects all of their business plans . . . You’ve got the progress in the trade system stalling and all of the regional [deals] in various states of suspended animation.”

Schwab echoed the near-unanimous sentiment of several experts in saying that India’s move poses a substantial threat to ever reviving a serious effort to rewrite international trade rules for the first time in two decades. According to Schwab, “What the Indians did is a travesty, and it’s a disaster for India’s economy, the rest of the world and the multilateral trading system . . . . The implications for the trading system and the global economy and businesses are really bad news. Not only do you have a stalling of these mega-regional negotiations, but now you’ve got a stalling of what had been a glimmer of hope in the multilateral system.”

OCTG

As stated in prior newsletters and above, US Steel Corp along with the Steel Union (USW) have brought follow up cases against Steel Oil Country Tubular Goods (“OCTG”), Steel Pipes used in oil wells from a number of different countries. US Steel and the Steel Union first attacked China and were able to drive them out of the US market with 47% dumping rate, not based on actual prices and costs in China. Instead, Commerce used values from Indian import statistics to throw the Chinese out of the US market.

But Chinese imports were replaced by imports from Korea, Taiwan, India and many other countries. So USW and US Steel filed antidumping and countervailing duty cases against those countries. In the preliminary antidumping determination, Commerce calculated very low antidumping rates, such as 0s for Korea, 0 to 2.65 for Taiwan, 0 for one producer in India, 2.92% for Saudi Arabia and 8.9% for Philippines.

The USW and US Steel through the Congress put immense political pressure on Commerce to change its preliminary determination, especially with regards to Korea. On July 11, 2014, Commerce issued its final determination, which is posted in my last post on this blog, pushing Korea’s AD rate to 9.89 to 15.75%, Taiwan 0 to2.52%, Saudi Arabia 2.69%, Philippines 9.88%, Ukraine 6.73% and an India CVD rate from 5 to 19%.   The point, however, is that these are not shut out rates and in contrast to China, all of these countries will continue to export OCTG steel products to the United States in substantial quantities.

As indicated in the factsheet that can be found at http://www.usitc.gov/press_room/news_release/2014/er0822mm1c.htm, on August 22, 2014, based on a threat of material injury determination, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) made affirmative injury determinations with respect to OCTG imports from India, Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam, but negative determinations with respect to imports from Philippines and Thailand.

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

WHIRLPOOL SUES

In the attached complaint, WHIRLPOOL COMPLAINT, on August 26, 2014, Whirlpool Corporation filed suit in the US Court of International Trade against the Commerce Department to stop the Department from including door handles for kitchen appliances within the scope of the antidumping and countervailing duty order on aluminum extrusions from China.

Whirlpool is arguing that the handles are outside the scope of the orders because they are “finished goods.” Certain finished goods that don’t require additional assembly are excluded from the order.

In the Complaint, Whirlpool specifically states:

Appliance handles with end caps consist of alloy 6 series aluminum extrusions and nonaluminum components that are permanently assembled together, are fully complete and finished, and are ready for use as appliance door handles at the time of import. Thus, these appliance handles with end caps are ready to be attached to the kitchen appliance doors in their as-imported condition. No further processing or finishing of these handles is necessary prior to fulfilling their intended use….

Appliance handles with end caps consist of alloy 6 series aluminum extrusions and non-aluminum components that are permanently assembled together, are fully complete and finished, and are ready for use as appliance door handles at the time of import. Thus, these appliance handles with end caps are ready to be attached to the kitchen appliance doors in their as-imported condition. No further processing or finishing of these handles is necessary prior to fulfilling their intended use.

CIRCUMVENTION OF ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS ORDER??

On May 8, 2014, Senator Mitch McConnell wrote the attached letter to Commerce, AD Aluminum Extrusions 5000 SERIES Controlled Correspondence Inbound-5-8-14, complaining about the circumvention of the antidumping order against aluminum extrusions from China. In the letter Senator McConnell stated:

“I write on behalf of constituents at Kentucky’s Cardinal Aluminum. Cardinal, an aluminum extruder, employs over 500 people in Louisville and plays a vital economic role in the community. My constituents have informed me that unfair trade practices from China are once again threatening Kentucky jobs. . . .

Unfortunately, my constituents have informed me that Chinese exporters are now circumventing existing U.S. import duties using 5000-series aluminum alloy not covered under previous DOC antidumping measures. . . .I ask that you give full and fair consideration of their request to include 5000-series aluminum alloy with similar products covered by existing DOC anti-dumping measures . . . .”

AUGUST ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On August 1, 2014, Commerce published in the attached Federal Register notice, REVIEW REQUEST NOTICE AUGUST, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of August. The specific antidumping cases against China are:

Floor-Standing, Metal-Top Ironing Tables and Parts Thereof, Laminated Woven Sacks, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Petroleum Wax Candles, Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags, Sodium Nitrite, Steel Nails, Sulfanilic Acid, Tetrahydrofurfuryl Alcohol, Tow-Behind Lawn Groomers and Parts Thereof, and Woven Electric Blankets.

The specific countervailing duty cases are:

Laminated Woven Sacks, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Sodium Nitrite, and Tow-Behind Lawn Groomers and Parts Thereof.

For those US import companies that imported Ironing Tables, Laminated Woven Sacks, Retail Carrier Bags, Steel Nails, Sulfanilic Acid, Lawn Groomers, and Electric Blankets and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period August 1, 2013-July 31, 2014 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2013 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 final determination in the Wood Flooring Case, for example, although the rates were very low for many Chinese exporters, only 5%, 20 Chinese exporters had their rates go to 58% because they did not participate in the review investigation and did not file a no shipment certification, separate rate application or separate rate certification at the Commerce Department.

CHINA WTO CASE

As mentioned in the prior post,on July 14, 2014, in a decision and summary, which is posted in my last blog post, the WTO upheld China’s claims that certain US countervailing duty cases against China were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement. On August 22nd, China filed the attached notice of appeal at the WTO with regards to the remaining cases, CHINA APPEALS WTO DETERMINATION.

CUSTOMS

SENATE HEARING ON COLLECTIONS OF UNPAID ANTIDUMPING DUTIES IN HONEY, MUSHROOMS, GARLIC AND CRAWFISH FROM IMPORTERS AND INSURANCE CUSTOMS BOND COMPANIES

On July 16, 2014, at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing in Washington DC, US Customs and Commerce Department officials discussed enforcement proceedings against evasion of US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty laws and several U.S. food producers and their Congressional supporters discussed a longstanding fight to push Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to bring lawsuits against insurance companies to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid antidumping duties on imports of honey, mushrooms, garlic and crawfish from China.

In the attached testimony, Testimony – ICE Trade Enforcement, Lev Kubiak, Assistant Director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) testified about the ongoing Customs enforcement investigations by Homeland Security:

“Currently, HSI is involved in more than 80 investigations relating to open Commerce AD/CVD orders covering commodities such as honey, saccharin, citric acid, tow-behind lawn groomers, shrimp, steel, and wooden bedroom furniture.”

According to a January 2nd letter from Senators Wyden and Thune to Homeland Security, there are an estimated $107 million in uncollected duties on honey, $132 million on garlic, $309 million on crawfish and $102 million on mushrooms — a total of roughly $650 million from 2000 to 2007.  Apparently, these dumping duties are from large unpaid bills by importers, who have gone out of business, and bond companies that are contesting the payments.

In the attached statement, APPROPRIATIONS HONEY, the President of the Louisiana Beekeepers Association testified about the problems US honey producers are facing because of inability of Customs to recover bonds issued in new shipper review investigations:

“Customs estimates it is holding over 600 million dollars in thousands of New Shipper Bonds as security against unpaid dumping duties on imports of honey, fresh garlic, crawfish tail meat, and preserved mushrooms from China – 150 million dollars of which secure honey imports.

Shockingly, the major insurance companies that issued these bonds all failed to determine whether the sham companies that acted as the U.S. importers were creditworthy, or to require that they deposit any collateral to cover the insurers in case they had to pay under the bonds. When Customs eventually assessed substantial duties on these imports, the importers had disappeared. And the insurance companies – which had collected tens of millions of dollars in premiums for issuing the bonds – uniformly refused Customs’ demands that they pay as promised.

This duty-evasion scheme devastated the domestic producers of these four agricultural products in two ways. First, the scheme allowed the importers to enter and sell in this country huge volumes of these goods over an eight-year period at steeply dumped prices – as if the government orders imposing substantial dumping duties on these products did not exist. As a result, the domestic producers continued to suffer the very economic injury the dumping duties were supposed to prevent.

Second, all of these imports are subject to a provision of US trade law, which requires Customs to distribute dumping duties collected on imports that arrived through 2007 to the injured domestic producers. Thus, some of the injury inflicted by these imports on the honey, garlic, crawfish and mushroom producers could have been partly offset by Customs’ distribution of duties collected under the New Shipper Bonds. But the insurance companies’ refusal to pay as promised under these bonds has prevented this.

Unfortunately, Customs must bear substantial responsibility for this debacle. Although the insurance companies first started refusing to pay under these bonds in 2001, Customs by 2009 had failed to file a single collections lawsuit against them. In fact, the agency filed its first New Shipper Bond collections lawsuit only after being sued to do so by the four domestic industries.

Customs currently is attempting to recover $80 million from the insurance companies through 30 collections lawsuits. Rather than pay Customs as promised, the insurance companies are dragging out those lawsuits by raising many frivolous defenses.

One insurance company – Hartford Fire – has raised many of the same frivolous defenses in 350 lawsuits it has filed against Customs in its effort to avoid paying an estimated two to three hundred million dollars under its New Shipper Bonds. Indeed, Hartford Fire’s lawsuits now account for 20 percent of all cases before the Court of International Trade.

Despite Customs’ recent actions to recover under the bonds, the agency’s extended delay in suing the issuing insurance companies will likely block it from recovering under many bonds. This is because a bond collections lawsuit must be started within six years of the date the issuing insurance company becomes liable for the duties. Indeed, in the first collection lawsuit, the court ruled that Customs was time-barred from recovering three million dollars in duties secured by three of the nine bonds at issue.”

In the attached statement, CRAWFISH, the representative of the US Crawfish industry testified along the same lines:

“The problem is that a huge proportion of antidumping duties that should have been collected on imports from China that entered the United States prior to October 1, 2007, have not been collected, despite the fact that they are secured by bonds issued by large, U.S.-based insurance companies. That date is important because U.S. law requires a portion of the duties collected prior to October 1, 2007, to be paid to domestic producers who have been injured in their business by the dumping.

People who are unfamiliar with this area of the law are often surprised that there would still be unpaid duties on goods that came into U.S. ports in 2007 or earlier. They don’t realize that part of this is just because antidumping duties are assessed retrospectively – so delays of a couple or three years are not shocking. However, we’re still trying, right now in 2014, to get Customs to collect duties on entries from 2000, 2001, and so on. . . .

People might say they’d rather have Louisiana crawfish than Chinese crawfish, and they might actually mean it. But everyone has a price. With such a huge price difference, if you’re a U.S. processor, you’re going to be hard pressed to replace that old truck or upgrade your freezer or pay down your debt. You’re just trying to survive another day. The CDSOA was set up to use the antidumping duties to correct that problem, but it only works when Customs actually collects what’s owed. Even worse, the people importing the Chinese product – which, oftentimes, were just shell corporations with no real assets in the United States – started noticing that they didn’t really have to pay the duties, so they weren’t afraid of dumping. Massive volumes of imports kept pouring in, at very low prices. The hole just got deeper and deeper.

The responsible Congressional committees have been trying to fix this problem since at least July 15, 2002, the date of H.R. Report 107-575, in which the Appropriations Committee said: “The Committee is very concerned with the status of tariffs and duties assessed on crawfish . . . The U.S. Customs Service is therefore directed to begin, using funds currently available, vigorous and active enforcement of the tariff. Additionally, the U.S. Customs Service shall, not later than April 30, 2003, issue to the Committee and make publicly available a comprehensive report detailing their efforts to enforce and collect this duty.” That was in 2002 – twelve years ago. . . .

We’re also hoping to learn something about what happened with duty collections last year (FY2013) and what is happening this year (FY2014). More specifically:

• Last summer, Customs released its report on “Preliminary Amounts Available to Disburse” under the CDSOA for FY2013, reflecting collections made from October 1, 2012, through April 30, 2013. For crawfish, this “preliminary amount” turned out also to be the final amount, to the penny. In other words, during the last five months of FY2013, Customs did not collect a single penny of additional duties out of the vast backlog owed on entries made prior to October 1, 2007.

• This year, the “preliminary amount” for crawfish is only $2,687,300.70, reflecting collections through April 30, 2014. Yet we know for certain that Customs collected $6.1 million from Great American Insurance and Washington International Insurance, in February of this year, in crawfish antidumping duties on imports entered during 2000-01. We have copies of the checks from the sureties. Customs is on record, at the court, as saying that the checks had been received and were being processed in late February. It is unclear why this $6.1 million has apparently not been included in the “preliminary amount” for FY2014.

• Customs has also stated, in a letter to Congressman Boustany dated April 11, 2014, that it had fully collected “more than $14 million” in crawfish antidumping duties on April 7, 2014, one day before the six-year statute of limitations would have expired. From other information in the letter, we know that the money was owed by Hartford, a surety, on entries that came into the United States well before 2007. Although this money was allegedly collected prior to the April 30, 2014, cut-off date for the report on “preliminary amounts,” it has obviously been left out. We do not know why. . . .

Much remains to be done. Our best information right now is that there is still more than $600 million in bond money to be collected on imports of crawfish tail meat, honey, garlic, and mushrooms from China that entered the United States between May 1998 and August 2006. This debt is secured by over 8,000 bonds. Yet, so far, Customs has filed lawsuits to collect on only about one-tenth of those bonds, representing roughly 12 percent of their face value.”

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

There has been major developments at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) in 337 cases.

SUPREMA—EN BANC CAFC PROCEEDING ON 337 AND INDUCED INFRINGEMENT

As mentioned in prior posts, in the Suprema v. ITC case, on February 21, 2014, in the attached petition, Suprema – ITC Petition for Rehearing, the ITC asked for a rehearing en banc of the original panel decision, and on June 11, 2014 the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) granted a request for an en banc hearing, that means an en banc hearing before all the CAFC judges, to review the original 2-1 decision in the Suprema case.

In prior blog posts, I mentioned that Suprema was a major decision on induced infringement holding that if a product did not infringe when it crossed the border, the ITC did not have jurisdiction to find that the product violated section 337 because of induced infringement. The decision also has a major impact on general patent cases regarding induced infringement.

The ITC’s brief is due on September 15th at the CAFC, but the Commission has asked for an extension until October 15. Experts have predicted an oral argument in the case, possibly in January.

In its February 21st petition to the CAFC, the ITC set out the issues as follows:

“(1) Did the panel contradict Supreme Court precedent in Grokster and precedents of this Court when it held that infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) “is untied to an article” (Maj. Op. at 19)?

(2) Did the panel contradict Supreme Court precedent in Grokster and this Court’s precedent in Standard Oil when it held that there can be no liability for induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) at the time a product is imported because direct infringement does not occur until a later time (Maj. Op. at 19-21)?

(3) When the panel determined the phrase “articles that . . . infringe” in 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(1)(B)(i) does not extend to articles that infringe under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b), did the panel err by contradicting decades of precedent and by failing to give required deference to the U.S. International Trade Commission (“the Commission”) in its interpretation of its own statute (Maj. Op. at 20-21, 26 n.5)?

(4) Did the panel misinterpret the Commission’s order as a “ban [on the] importation of articles which may or may not later give rise to direct infringement” (Maj. Op. at 25) when the order was issued to remedy inducement of infringement and when the order permits U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow importation upon certification that the articles are not covered by the order?

In its petition for en banc rehearing, the ITC argued that “the panel not only overturned decades of Commission practice affirmed by the courts, but also upended the law of induced infringement.” The ITC based the section 337 violation on the imported products’ combination with software produced by Texas-based Mentalix Inc., which imports Suprema scanners. More specifically, as the ITC states in its petition:

“Appellant Suprema, Inc. (“Suprema”), a Korean company, manufactures fingerprint scanners overseas and imports those scanners into the United States. Before the scanners may perform their intended purpose, they must be connected to a computer running specialized software. Suprema does not make or sell this software, but provides a Software Development Kit (“SDK”) that allows its customers to create their own customized software to operate the scanners. Suprema imports scanners and SDKs and supplies them to appellant Mentalix, Inc. (“Mentalix”), a company located in Plano, Texas. Suprema assisted Mentalix in developing Mentalix software for use with Suprema’s imported scanners. Mentalix then used the software with Suprema’s scanners in a manner that directly infringed method claim 19 of U.S. Patent 7,203,344.”

On August 13th, Suprema filed a brief arguing that the full CAFC should affirm the original panel decision that the ITC does not have authority to hear inducement patent infringement cases where a product is found to infringe after importation.  Suprema argues that the ITC’s Section 337 does not reach conduct where a product may be found to infringe only after it was imported and used together with something else — in this case, software. Suprema argues that “[Section 337] empowers the Commission to bar only the importation, and sale for or after importation, of infringing articles, not the importation of non-infringing staple articles based on the respondent’s purported state of mind,”

Google, Microsoft and other high tech companies have jumped on Suprema’s bandwagon to argue in Amicus Briefs that the full CAFC should uphold the original panel decision barring the ITC from hearing induced patent infringement cases when a product only infringes after importation.  In attached amicus brief, Microsoft Suprema, filed on August 18, Microsoft argues that the law is clear that products that do not infringe at the time they are imported are not within the ITC’s jurisdiction. In the attached separate brief, Google BRIEF, filed on August 19th, Google, Dell Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., LG Electronics Inc. and others state that they have an interest in the case because they are “often targets of expensive litigation at the ITC.” “Allowing exclusion orders against articles that do not infringe when imported — on the ground that they may be combined with other products after importation to infringe — threatens substantial disruption to their businesses.”

According to Google’s brief, “The panel’s conclusion is correct: the statute as a whole makes more sense when infringement is judged at the time an article is imported. . .” If a product infringes after it enters the U.S., that infringement can be addressed with a suit in federal court. “The ITC need not expand its jurisdiction to reach every infringement claim that could be brought in district court because the role of the ITC is not to serve as an alternative forum for patent litigation . . . It is a trade court that may hear only the specified types of cases that Congress has designated.”

Both briefs also urged the en banc court to further hold that the ITC cannot hear cases based on alleged infringement of method patents, because such patents are infringed only when the claimed steps are actually performed. According to Microsoft, “A method is an action, not a product or good. Thus, the phrase ‘articles that infringe’ in Section 337 cannot refer to infringement of method claims.”

On August 18, the American Intellectual Property Law Association told an en banc Federal Circuit panel in an amicus brief that the ITC has the authority to find a violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 and issue exclusion orders on certain imports in induced infringement cases regardless of whether direct infringement occurred before or after the articles were imported. The AIPLA argues that the ITC has authority over induced infringement, saying the panel’s initial decision “overlooks the long, uninterrupted history of U.S. protection against unfair trade practices provided by Section 337.” “AIPLA respectfully submits that the Commission has such authority, and that its exercise of such authority in appropriate investigations is consistent with, indeed compelled by, Congressional intent and public policy.” The AIPLA said that Section 337 is an important tool for the effective enforcement of intellectual property rights and is not limited in regards to the time or location that an alleged act of infringement took place. If allowed to stand, however, the Federal Circuit’s initial decision may enable some foreign companies “to circumvent Section 337 and evade effective IP enforcement” by allowing them to eliminate any software-based features in their products found to directly infringe a patent while inviting end-users to download the features after importation.

DISK DRIVES—DOMESTIC INDUSTRY ISSUES

On July 17th, in the Optical Disk Drives case, an ITC administrative law judge held that there was no domestic industry in a 337 case if the Petitioner was non-practicing entity, which is purely revenue driven, and there is no proof that the NPE exploits the asserted patents under § 1337(a)(3)(C).  This ruling would require purely revenue-driven NPEs to make some showing that they exploit the asserted intellectual property under 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(3)(C) in every case. They could no longer rely solely on the investments of their licensees.

Although the ALJ’s decision is reviewable by the Commission itself, if the decision becomes final, it will be even more difficult for non-practicing entities (NPEs) to bring 337 cases.

TIRES FROM CHINA

On July 24, 2014, In Re: Certain Tires and Products Containing Same, Inv. No. 337-TA-894, the ITC banned the import of certain kinds of automotive tires from China and Thailand, because they violate design patents held by Toyo Tire Holdings of America Inc. The Asian companies did not respond to the 337 complaint and were found in default.

On July 24th, the ITC issued a limited exclusion order forbidding the import and sale of tires that violate Toyo’s patents by the defaulting respondents.

The American companies held in default include importers, Kentucky’s WestKy Customs LLC; California’s Tire & Wheel Master, WTD Inc., Lexani Tires Worldwide Inc. and Wholesale Tires Inc.; North Carolina’s Vittore Wheel & Tire and RTM Wheel & Tire; and Tennessee’s Simple Tire. The patents cover the unique tread and side wall patterns on Toyo- and Nitto-brand tires.

The foreign infringers include Hong Kong Tri-Ace Tire Co. Ltd., Weifang Shunfuchang Rubber & Plastic Co. Ltd., Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre Co. Ltd., Shandong Yongtai Chemical Group Co. Ltd., Shandong Linglong Tyre Co. Ltd., Svizz-One Corp. Ltd., South China Tire and Rubber Co. Ltd., Guangzhou South China Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd., Turbo Wholesale Tires Inc. and related importers and U.S. distributors.

SECTION 337 COMPLAINTS

On July 25, 2014, Bose Corp. filed a patent based section 337 case at the ITC against a Chinese company on Noise Cancelling Headphones. The respondents are: Beats Electronics LLC, Culver City, California; Beats Electronics International Ltd., Ireland; Fugang Electronic (Dong Guan) Co., Ltd., China; and PCH International Ltd., Ireland.

On August 4, 2014, Adrian Rivera and ARM Enterprises, Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against imports Beverage Brewing Capsules from a number of Chinese and Hong Kong companies. The specific respondents are: Solofill LLC, Houston, Texas; DonGuan Hai Rui Precision Mould Co., Ltd., China; Eko Brands, LLC, Woodinville, WA; Evermuch Technology Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; Ever Much Company Ltd., China; Melitta USA, Inc., North Clearwater, FL; LBP Mfg. Inc., Cicero, IL; LBP Packaging (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., China; Spark Innovators, Corp., Fairfield, New Jersey; B. Marlboros International Ltd. (HK), Hong Kong; Amazon.com, Inc., Seattle, WA.

PATENT AND IP CASES IN GENERAL

DUPONT SUES SUN EDISON FOR INFRINGEMENT OF US SOLAR PASTE PATENTS

On August 18, 2014, Dupont filed the patent infringement suit against Sun Edison for infringing its thick-film paste patent by importing and selling certain solar modules. DUPONT SOLAR COMPLAINT

DuPont alleges that Sun Edison imports solar modules from Malaysia, which are constructed by Flextronics International Ltd. and use photovoltaic cells provided by Neo Solar Power Corp., which include a paste that uses tellurium-oxide solids.

EX DUPONT ENGINEER SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR STEALING TRADE SECRETS FOR CHINA TITANIUM DIOXIDE INDUSTRY

On August 26, 2014, a California federal judge sentenced a former DuPont Co. engineer to two and a half years in prison and ordered him to pay nearly $750,000 in restitution and forfeitures for conspiring to sell to Chinese companies trade secrets on the technology to safely produce massive amounts of titanium dioxide.

According to the Judge, although Robert Maegerle’s involvement in a conspiracy to sell DuPont’s secret method of producing titanium dioxide to Chinese companies was his first crime, it was a serious one. In March, a jury convicted Maegerle, 79, of participating in the trade-secrets scheme and also of obstructing prosecutors’ investigation into the crimes.

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING ZTE

On July 28, 2014, JST Performance, Inc. d/b/a Rigid Industries and Illumination Management Solutions, Inc. filed a case for patent infringement against imports of various LED lighting products for off road vehicles against Sun Auto Electronics, LLC and Foshan Sunway Auto Electrical Company, Ltd., a Chinese company.  LED LIGHTING COMPANY SUED

On August 6, 2014, Shenzhen Liown Electronics Co., Ltd., a Chinese company, filed a patent infringement case against a US company, Luminara Worldwide, LLC, Michael L. O’Shaughnessy, and John W. Jacobson. COUNTERSUIT SHENZHEN LIOWN

On August 6, 2014, Multiplayer Network Innovations, LLC filed a patent infringement case against ZTE Corp. and ZTE (USA), Inc. ZTE

On August 7, 2014, a Taiwan company sued a Taiwan company for theft of trade secrets and patent infringement. Via Technology companies in California and Taiwan filed the patent infringement suit against Asus Computer International, a California corporation, Asutek Cmputer Inc., a Taiwan corporation, and Asmedia Technlogy Inc., a Taiwan corporation. VIA TECHNOLOGY TAIWAN

On August 13, 2014, Pacific Lock Company filed a patent infringement case against the Eastern Company d/b/a/ Security Products, World Lock Co., Ltd., and Dongguan Reeworld Security Products LtdDONGGUAN COMPANY

On August 25, 2014, Folkmanis, Inc. filed a copyright infringement case against Delivery Agent, Inc., S.F. Global Sourcing LLC, CBS Broadcasting, Inc. and Shanghai Oriland Toys Co., LtdSHANGHAI COPYRIGHT

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

On July 21, 2014, Loren Vieths filed a products liability case against Shanxi Regent Works, Inc., a Chinese company, and The Sports Authority, Inc. EXERCISE EQUIPMENT

On July 29, 2014, Eduardo and Carmen Amorin filed a products liability case for defective drywall 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.; China National Building Materials Group Corporation. TAISHAN CLASS ACTION

CFIUS—CHINESE INVESTMENT IN THE US

RALLS CORP CASE

On July 15, 2014, the Federal DC Circuit Court of Appeals in Ralls Corp. v. Committee on Foreign Investments (“CFIUS”), which is attached to my last post on this blog, issued a very surprising decision reversing the Presidential/CFIUS decision to invalidate Ralls and a Chinese company’s attempt to acquire four Oregon wind firms that were close to a US military base on national security grounds.

The DC Circuit overturned the CFIUS decision on due process procedural grounds requiring the President and CFIUS at a minimum to explain why the decision was made and grant Ralls Corp’s access to the unclassified evidence used to come to that decision and give company an opportunity to rebut the evidence. Appeal is likely, either through a petition for en banc review or a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The CFIUS review process, however, has been described as a black box into which foreign investors feed information, only to get out a yes or no answer with no way of appealing the decision.

Many experts, however, have been issuing comments to the effect that the Ralls decision will not have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the case and is likely do little to boost the transparency of the CFIUS review process. Experts doubt that any of the unclassified information given to Ralls or any other company in a similar situation in the future would not have a substantial impact on the case. A former head of CFIUS stated that because these cases involve national security, “There isn’t a lot of non-deliberative information that’s not classified or not derived from classified material that can be shared.” Another attorney that specializes in this area stated, “What are they going to do with unclassified information based on a partial record?”

Although the legal victory has little practical impact, it helps to dispel the idea that the U.S. judicial system is biased against Chinese investment and avoids the chilling of the current Chinese investment boom. The U.S. has a process and if that process is not followed, there is relief within the U.S. judicial system.

CHINESE INVESTMENT IN US SEMICONDUCTOR COMPANY

In spite of or maybe because of the Ralls decision, on August 14th a group of Chinese investors made an unsolicited $1.6 billion offer for California chipmaker OmniVision Technologies Inc. The deal would send a chip maker for smartphones, including Apple Inc.’s iPhone, and tablets, to an investor group led by Hua Capital Management Ltd. The potential buyers pitching the $29-per-share bid also include state-owned Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment Co. Ltd. If OmniVision accepts the offer, a comprehensive government review is likely.

CHINESE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

US FOUNDRY

A US investment company has approached me because an undisclosed US Foundry that produces metal castings has put itself on the auction block. The public information available to me is as follows:

The US Company provides complex metal casting services and products from 50 to 200,000 pounds for industry-critical applications. The Company operates through its two wholly-owned facilities (“Facility A” and “Facility B”) that aggregate in excess of 650,000 square feet, both of which have been in operation for more than 100 years.

The Company differentiates itself by offering highly-complex and highly-engineered products, compared to the simpler commoditized products of other facilities. In addition, the Company emphasizes quality over price —administering price increases without customer attrition.

The Company is focused on energy, infrastructure, and industrial equipment end markets, with approximately 53%, 33% and 13% of production in each of these markets, respectively. Products used in energy and power generation applications include the following sectors: air compression, fossil fuels, gas compression and wind. The Company also manufactures products for other industries including: construction equipment, machine tools, agriculture and refrigeration.

If anyone is interested in the opportunity, please feel free to contact me.

US INVESTMENT IN CHINA

HOSPITALS

It has been reported that on August 27, Ministry of Commerce and National Health and Family Planning Commission issued the “Notice on Establishing Wholly Foreign-owned Hospital Pilots”. The notice lays out the requirements, standards, and approval processes for foreign investors applying to qualify for establishing wholly foreign-owned hospitals in China.     The seven provinces included in the notice’s pilot zones are Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Fujian, Guangdong, and Hainan. Investors have the option of establishing their own new hospital, or investing through M&A. The notice regulates that only investors from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan may establish hospitals featuring traditional Chinese medicine.

If anyone is interested in the opportunity, please feel free to contact me.

ANTITRUST– VITAMIN C, MAGNESITE AND AU OPTRONICS

There have been major developments in the antitrust area both in the United States and more importantly in China.

VITAMIN C

On August 11, 2014, the parties in the Vitamin C case filed their attached final briefs in the Second Circuit.  In its attached brief, HEBEI REPLY BRIEF, Defendants HeBei Welcome Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. et al reiterated its arguments that it followed Chinese law when it coordinated on pricing, and that co-defendant North China Pharmaceuticals Group Corp. was not involved in the coordination.

Hebei argued:

“Appellees’ brief confirms that the judgment below cannot be affirmed unless this Court rejects a sovereign government’s view of its own laws, establishes federal courts as arbiters of the validity of foreign nations’ regulatory decisions, disregards the massive foreign policy concerns raised by that approach, creates multiple circuit splits, and rejects binding precedent. This Court should therefore decline Appellees’ invitation to sit in judgment over China’s economic development policies.

The dispositive issue is now undisputed: Appellees concede that Chinese law required active coordination by vitamin C manufacturers on vitamin C prices and output. This amounts to a concession that the Chinese government compelled violation of the Sherman Act and that the district court’s determination of Chinese law cannot survive de novo

That should end the case. But Appellees argue that this Court should find that Chinese manufacturers and their corporate affiliates could still face nine-figure penalties because they complied with their own government’s legal, regulatory, and policy decisions. Their arguments that U.S. law can prohibit the same conduct a sovereign nation ordered and directed, if accepted, would go far in eradicating the foreign sovereign compulsion, international comity, act of state, and political question doctrines altogether, contrary to decades of established law.”

In the attached brief, ANIMAL SCIENCE REPLY BRIEF, the Plaintiffs, Animal Science Products Inc. and The Ranis Co. Inc., asserted that the district court’s verdict was proper and that the companies’ actions were not covered by the Chinese government, stating:

“Appellants and the Ministry of Commerce of China (“Ministry”) ask this Court to adopt an unprecedented “whatever the Ministry says, goes” approach to overturn a jury verdict, even though the Ministry’s assertions are not supported by the evidence or even Chinese law.

In the nine years since this case was filed, two district court judges appropriately considered the evidence of Appellants’ conspiracy to fix prices and limit the supply of vitamin C imported into the U.S. and determined the nature of Chinese law in light of the evidence submitted by the parties and statements by the Ministry (appearing as Amicus). The district court then presided over a trial at which the jury—using an unobjected-to set of instructions and verdict form—concluded that the Chinese government did not compel Appellants’ cartel as a factual matter.

Appellants’ and the Ministry’s assertion that the district court’s judgment represents a groundbreaking application of the Sherman Act is overblown because foreign corporations are routinely subject to liability under U.S. antitrust law over foreign governments’ objections. No Chinese law required Appellants and their co-conspirators to set supra-competitive prices for vitamin C imported to the United States.

Appellants argue that they were required by Chinese law to accept coordination by a vitamin C Subcommittee of a China Chamber of Commerce that was acting to implement the Chinese government’s regulatory objectives. Regardless of the proper interpretation of Chinese law, the facts as determined by the jury under unobjected-to instructions showed that the Subcommittee and Chamber did not as a factual matter act to compel the conduct at issue here; rather, the jury found Appellants liable for their own voluntary conduct.

With respect to its correct rulings on Chinese law, the district court gave the Ministry’s statements appropriate respect and regard, but in multiple rulings disagreed with the Ministry, concluding that the plain language of Chinese law and the overwhelming evidence contradicted the Ministry’s position. Having made its Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 44.1 (“Rule 44.1”) ruling on issues of foreign law, the district court properly excluded copies of Chinese laws and regulations from the evidence submitted to the jury. As it should be in every trial, the jury reached its verdict based on instructions of law from the Court and not from Appellants’ counsel reading and arguing law to the jury.

The district court correctly exercised personal jurisdiction over North China Pharmaceutical Group Corporation (“NCPG”) and denied its motion for judgment as a matter of law based on the evidence of NCPG’s direct participation in a cartel selling products into the United States.”

MAGNESITE

On July 24, 2014, in Animal Science Products Inc. and Resco Products Inc. v. China Minmetals Corp., et al, in he attached decision and order, MAGNESITE DISMISSAL STANDING MAGNESITE ORDER DISMISSAL, the US Federal Court dismissed the US companies antitrust action for a price fixing cartel on Chinese exports to the US of Magnesite and Magnesite products because plaintiffs lacked standing to represent the class of direct purchasers of Magnesite from China. The Court states:

“Plaintiffs seek to represent a putative class of U.S. purchasers of magnesite. They allege that sixteen Chinese corporations have conspired to fix prices and control the supply of magnesite and magnesite products exported to the United States. As a result, they say, magnesite prices have remained above market levels since at least April 2000. . ..

There is, however, one critical fact that distinguishes Cordes & Co. from the case now before me. There, the class action was initiated by two putative class representatives who were “indisputably members of the class they sought to represent.” . . . That is, the class representatives had themselves suffered the same injury that gave rise to the assigned antitrust claims they asserted. Here, the facts are not so clear, or at least, have yet to be established, as discussed below.

Suffice it to say that, at this stage, Resco must establish its own standing, either through its own direct purchases or through the direct purchases of some entity that validly assigned its claims to Resco. . . .

Plaintiff Resco has pleaded very few facts regarding its own “direct purchases” of magnesite from Defendants. The original complaint . . . contains no statements regarding Resco’s direct purchases of magnesite, or Animal Science’s indirect purchases of magnesite. . . .

In short, Plaintiffs allege no direct purchases by Resco from any named defendants.

Nothing in the Amended Complaint constitutes a plausible factual allegation in support of the most direct and obvious form of standing: plaintiff’s direct purchases from one or more of the defendant . . .Plaintiff Resco’s status as a direct purchaser, whether obtained through its own direct purchases or by means of an assignment, is a critical and yet unresolved question in this case. That uncertainty permeates not only the Amended Complaint but the Motion to Compel Arbitration.

For the reasons discussed above, the Minmetals and Sinosteel Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint are GRANTED on standing grounds only. The Amended Complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE to the filing of a Second Amended Complaint.”

Unfortunately, the Court and the Parties may have missed the forest through the trees. Many forms of magnesium from China, including many magnesium products, are covered by US antidumping orders, which have blocked many importers from importing Chinese magnesium into the United States for decades. The Court and the Parties may ignore this reality, but the point is that the effect of antidumping orders is to raise prices. That may be the cause of the increased prices on these products.

TAIWAN LCDS CASE

On August 25, 2014, AU Optronics Corp, along with several Taiwan individuals filed the attached petition, auo petition, with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asking it to rehear or hold an en banc hearing in its appeal of a $500 million price-fixing fine the government won against the liquid crystal display maker. The Petition argues that the panel misinterpreted the evidence in the case.

As reported in my July post on this blog, in July a three-judge panel affirmed the Justice Department’s victory before the Federal District Court in the case against AUO, its U.S. subsidiary and former top executives Hsuan Bin Chen and Hui Hsiung concerning a global plot to fix the price of liquid crystal display panels.

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

As US antitrust cases have been on the rise in the United States, they are sharply rising against Chinese and foreign companies, including US companies, in China. The recent surge in antitrust cases reaches US and foreign companies like Qualcomm, Interdigital, Microsoft, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz.

On July 24, 2014, it was reported that the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), one of China’s three National Antitrust Agencies, announced that it had determined that US chipmaker Qualcomm is a monopoly and was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position in wireless communication standards.  The allegations could lead to record fines of more than $1 billion.

As the Chinese consumer market surges upward, Western companies are seeing their profits fall downward after this wave of antitrust cases. The China media has reported that the prices of many foreign items, including a Starbucks latte to a Jaguar sedan, are higher in China than in many other places in the world.

Chinese consumers, who now travel the World, are complaining. According to the media, although some of the price differences are explainable by factors, such transportation, real-estate costs, higher Chinese import taxes and fragmented supply chains in which multiple distributors each add a markup, at least some multinationals allegedly have adopted sales practices in China that would not be tolerated by antitrust regulators in Europe or the US. Automobile companies do not always give their Chinese customers a choice in their purchase of spare parts, causing high prices.

What concerns the US government, however, is procedures, the heavy-handed way that investigations are being pursued, and the highly charged media coverage that makes for heated nationalistic rhetoric against Western and US companies.

Foreign companies have learned two early lessons from the antitrust probes. First, the Chinese law provides little protection. The message that the National Development and Reform Commission, the Chinese agency that sets pricing rules, delivers in private to multinationals at the outset of a price-fixing investigation is not to bring in their foreign lawyers. The second lesson, apparently, is resistance is futile.

In almost every antitrust case launched so far, foreign companies have settled without a fight. Voluntary price cuts of up to 20% are the norm, accompanied by board-level expressions of remorse and promises to do better. Chrysler described its abrupt decision to slash car-part prices as a “proactive response” to the price fixing probe as it got under way.

These price-fixing investigations have been accompanied by heated nationalistic rhetoric in the state media with anti-foreign overtones. Pushing down multinationals goes over well with large sections of the Chinese public that view the foreign companies as arrogant. The China Youth Daily recently stated that multinationals “pollute the environment, lie to consumers, act arrogantly when facing their wrongdoings, and ignore China’s law and protests from Chinese consumers.”

For many years that China’s Anti-Monopoly Law has been in place, enforcement has been lax, but the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”), the two agencies charged with enforcing the AML’s antitrust provisions, have rapidly increased enforcement over the last year, with probes into Qualcomm Inc., Microsoft, and now international automakers. The action has come at the same time as the government has voiced a broader intention to promote the creation of Chinese players in many key industries, contributing to the impression that the latest antitrust probes may have a protectionist purpose.

While technically, agency decisions can be appealed to China’s administrative courts, the courts tend to defer to the agencies in all but the most blatant violations of the law. That means that as a practical matter, companies don’t have the same ability to force the agencies to defend themselves in court the way companies do in the U.S. and Europe.

MICROSOFT

As mentioned in my last post, on July 29, China time, the Chinese government conducted a dawn raid of Microsoft offices in China, apparently because of antitrust concerns. According to reports out of China, Microsoft Corp‘s internet browser and media player are being targeted in a Chinese antitrust probe, raising the prospect of China revisiting the software bundling issue at the heart of past antitrust complaints against the firm.

On August 6, 2014, it was reported that more raids were conducted on the Microsoft offices. Mr. Zhang Mao, the head of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), told reporters that Microsoft has not been fully transparent with information about its Windows and Office sales, but that Microsoft has expressed willingness to cooperate with ongoing investigations.

In 2004, the European Union ordered Microsoft to pay a 497 million euro ($656 million) fine and produce a version of Windows without the Windows Media Player bundled. The fine was later increased to nearly 1.4 billion euros.

The SAIC said earlier this month that Microsoft had been suspected of violating China’s anti-monopoly law since June last year in relation to problems with compatibility, bundling and document authentication for its Windows operating system and Microsoft Office software.

On August 4, 2014, Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Mary Snapp met with the SAIC in Beijing where the regulator warned Microsoft to not obstruct the probe.

But industry experts have questioned how exactly Microsoft is violating anti-trust regulations in China, where the size of its business is negligible.

AUTOMOBILE AND AUTO PARTS PRODUCERS—CHRYSLER, MERCEDES-BENZ AND VOLKSWAGEN

On August 6, 2014, it was reported that the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) had announced that it would punish Audi and Chrysler for monopoly practices, potentially paving the way for the automakers to be fined up to 10 percent of their domestic annual sales revenue in the world’s biggest car market.

NDRC spokesman Li Pumin stated that an ongoing investigation into the two companies showed they had “conducted anti-competitive behaviors” and that “They will be punished accordingly in the near future.” The NDRC has recently finished a probe of a dozen Japanese auto parts manufacturers on similar anti-trust charges.

According to Li Pumin, “The purpose is to maintain a sound competitive order in the auto market and protect consumer interest.” The NDRC did not specify the punishment for Chrysler or Audi. Under the six-year-old antimonopoly law, the NDRC can impose fines of between 1 and 10 percent of a company’s revenues for the previous year.

In the  attached Article from Singapore’s Strait Times on the Auto Parts antitrust investigation, QUOTE STRAIT TIMES, which features my quote, Esther Teo for the Strait Times states:

Industry experts say automakers have too much leverage over car dealers and auto part suppliers, enabling them to control prices, considered as a violation of China’s anti-trust laws.  “Monopolistic practices are quite rampant in the auto industry. NDRC is first targeting imported luxury brands because the problem is most severe in this area,” said Yale Zhang, managing director of consultancy Automotive Foresight (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. “It’s also a warning signal to the industry. If top brands like Audi gets punishment, others would know what to do.”

Zhang said imported luxury cars in China cost, on average, 2-1/2 to three times their price in the United States. The price difference is due to higher import duties and other taxes, foreign carmakers have argued. . . .

NDRC spokesman Li Pumin reiterated at a briefing in Beijing yesterday that China will punish any violators of the law regardless of nationality. . . .

While Beijing has denied these allegations, experts say the high-profile probes are likely to have a chilling effect on the business climate unless there is more transparency about how the anti-monopoly law is being enforced. . . .

experts said more needs to be done to convince international firms that they are not being unfairly targeted. For instance, whether it is a foreign or domestic firm being investigated, the authorities should provide more detailed and public information on the reasons for the decision reached and how the fine was determined. Without such transparency, multinational firms might be less willing to invest in China, they added.

Mr William Perry, an international trade partner at Seattle-based law firm Dorsey & Whitney, told The Straits Times that the business climate for foreign firms is becoming increasingly “uncertain”. “This is likely to affect trade relations down the line, especially between the United States and China.”

DORSEY ARTICLE ON CHINA ANTITRUST

On August 25, 2014, Peter Corne, who heads Dorsey’s China practice, published the following article about the situation in China:

A Fine Season for Antitrust Enforcement in China

The World Cup has ended and visiting fans have returned home from Brazil’s hot and humid climate. Now, some companies are feeling a different kind of heat, as Chinese antitrust regulators step up their enforcement activities. The regulatory actions include an investigation into the sale of World Cup tickets to Chinese football fans. The practice at issue was the bundling of high-end tickets with hotel, transportation, and tour services. Beijing Shankai Sports Development Company Limited (“Shankai”), the exclusive dealer for World Cup tickets within Greater China, failed to clarify whether customers were free to buy the high-end tickets separately. Some employees of Shankai told customers that they could not buy high-end tickets separately. The State Administration of Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”) started its investigation soon after Shankai’s practice was exposed by State central television. Backed into a corner, Shankai had no option but to admit its guilt in the sordid tale and promised to rectify its misdemeanors, leading to the SAIC approving the target’s application for a suspension to the investigation.

In other enforcement news, China’s second antitrust enforcement agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), has escalated its own enforcement efforts. NDRC branches in each of China’s northern (Beijing), central (Shanghai), and southern (Guangdong) coastal regions all had a part in what has turned into a ‘fine’ season for the optical industry in China. The practice in question involved ‘disguised’ recommended retail prices that, in reality, apparently amounted to resale price maintenance. Manufacturers of glasses and contact lenses adopted a carrot and stick approach: their distributors were punished for failing to sell the products at “recommended retail prices”, and rewarded if they did. Hoya and Weicon reportedly turned on the rest of the culprits in the industry by reporting the monopolistic activities to the NDRC and providing important evidence; in return, Hoya and Weicon were provided an amnesty from prosecution. The targeted companies (Essilor, Nikon, Carl Zeiss, Bausch & Lomb, and Johnson & Johnson) were fined RMB 8.79 million, RMB 1.68 million, RMB 1.77 million, RMB 3.69 million, and RMB 3.64 million, respectively (for a total of about $3.2 million /€2.38 million).

Not to be left out of the action, China’s third and remaining antitrust enforcement organ, the Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”), for only the second time in history, rejected a transaction: the attempted global joint alliance among Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company, and CMA CGM. MOFCOM determined that the tie-up would restrict or eliminate competition in the Asia-European shipping route, despite the deal’s having previously been approved by the US and European antitrust authorities.

In a MOFCOM-led multiple-ministry initiative to crack down on interregional trade barriers and industrial monopolies launched by 12 ministries at the end of 2013, MOFCOM sent questionnaires to companies in no fewer than 80 different industries to ascertain their level of compliance with antitrust legislation. This suggests that the enforcement net will soon be cast even wider. The automobile industry has already been snared, but that particular enforcement action may have resulted from a Ferrari distributor’s complaint to the industry association (when Ferrari suddenly terminated the distribution relationship) this past April.

Just before this briefing went to press, Microsoft China also started feeling the summer heat. On July 28, nearly 100 regulators from nine provincial branches of the SAIC converged on Microsoft in four different locations around the country.

This seems to have arisen out of a preliminary investigation that commenced about a year ago, in response to complaints by other companies concerning alleged bundling and other issues related to Windows and Office. At the preliminary investigation stage, Microsoft personnel were interviewed and Microsoft submitted answers to a series of questions. The SAIC still could not rule out antitrust infringement, so it proceeded to file a case and initiate its dawn raid. During the raid, Microsoft staff attempted to head off the interviews by begging lack of availability of the relevant people. The regulators apparently have managed to interview already, or have required attendance to interview, a Vice President, other senior management, and marketing and financial staff. During the raid, they copied contracts and financial statements and acquired internal correspondence including emails, and seized two computers.

In short, it may be summertime, but antitrust enforcement in China has not taken a vacation.

ARTICLES BY CHINESE ANTITRUST LAWYERS

AUTO PARTS ARTICLE

In the article, Analysis of NDRC Penalty Decision on 12 Auto Parts and Bearing Companies_AnJie_Michael Gu_Eng_20140830, Note of Caution: Record Fines on 12 Japanese Auto Parts and Bearing Manufactures – Analysis of the NDRC’s Penalty Decision and Countermeasures of Companies,Michael Gu, an antitrust partner in the AnJie Law Firm, in Beijing states:

Introduction

Within six years of implementation of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law, the China’s law enforcement agency responsible for supervising price monopoly, the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), continues to strengthen its law enforcement efforts with rounds of “antitrust storm” that swept across a number of industries and companies along with record fines.

This is especially true since 2013, the NDRC has probed into number of high-profile penalty cases, including the LCD Panel case, Moutai and Wuliangye case, Baby Formula case, Shanghai Gold Jewelers case and Spectacle Lenses case. Meanwhile, the NDRC has also launched investigation into the US high-tech giants, InterDigital and Qualcomm. For InterDigital case, the investigation has been suspended. As for Qualcomm case, Qualcomm has manifested their willingness to cooperate with the NDRC in its investigation and has submitted relevant commitment.

The “antitrust round up” of the automobile and auto parts industries is undoubtedly the most prominent case recently. Under such high pressure of antitrust law enforcement, a number of major foreign invested automobile manufacturers, including BMW, Benz, Audi, Toyota and Chrysler etc., have recently announced their price cut for auto parts. On August 20, the NDRC has announced its punishment of 12 Japanese auto parts and bearing companies who engaged in price related monopolistic behavior. Eight auto parts manufacturers are imposed fines totaling RMB 831.96 million (approximately USD 135.50 million), although Hitachi is exempted of the penalty. Four bearing manufacturers are imposed fines totaling RMB 403.44 million (approximately USD 65.70 million), although Nachi-Fujikoshi is exempted of the penalty. The combined amount of the fines reaches RMB 1.24 billion (approximately USD 200 million), setting up another record in China’s Anti-Monopoly Law’s enforcement.

This article will analyze the train of thought and trends of the NDRC’s anti-monopoly law enforcement, application of leniency program, impact of actions of the companies (including responses to investigations and illegal conducts) on the amount of the fines, and suggestions for relevant companies in dealing with antitrust investigation. . . .

Conclusion and Suggestions for the Companies

This record penalty decision demonstrates NDRC’s determination to intensify its antitrust law enforcement. Six years since the implementation of AML, the NDRC has taken more active and aggressive approach targeting a wider range in industries. This case will not be the finishing line, but merely a starting line that directs enforcement to areas closely related to the people’s livelihood, which have always been under its antitrust radar, such as petroleum, health care, telecommunication, pharmaceuticals, automotive, banks and consumer goods.

It is worth mentioning that the NDRC has indicated in its announcement that it will conduct further investigation following the leads uncovered in this case. Thus, the relevant companies should pay special attention to their possible monopolistic conduct related to this case or other auto parts and take necessary actions in a timely manner. They are strongly encouraged to report to the NDRC as early as possible in order to obtain exemption and reduction of fines.

The NDRC has adopted more stringent and definitive approach in application of leniency program. The NDRC has placed the leniency applicants in order and granted them exemption and reduction of fines accordingly. Companies need to seek professional advice in making leniency applications as to set up appropriate strategies in securing its first place by submitting the most important evidence to the NDRC within a short period of time and cooperating with the NDRC in its investigation.

The current heated antitrust law enforcement has posed unprecedented compliance challenges to all types of companies including foreign, domestic and even state-owned companies. Companies are suggested to take the following proactive measures to control and minimize risks associated with antitrust compliance:

1. Companies should conduct internal antitrust audit to inspect and evaluate potential antitrust risk with the assistance of external counsel. It’s also advisable to provide up-to-date and tailored antitrust trainings for senior management and employees, promote awareness of antitrust compliance.

2. For companies that are already found to be in potential violation of AML, it is recommended to voluntarily report to antitrust law enforcement agencies as soon as possible and to take rectification after seeking professional advice. Rectification measures may cover rectified sales policy and sales agreement that involves price-fixing and correction of conducts of price-fixing and collusive bidding, etc. Such measures shall be sufficient to maintain competition in the market and benefit the consumers.

3. Companies that have been dawn-raided by the antitrust law enforcement agencies should cope with the investigation appropriately, defend its legitimate interest and be proactive depending on the situation (e.g. propose defense regarding the gravity of the conduct and calculation of fines). In this case, Sumitomo has submitted written defense within one week of its receipt of the Prior-Notice of Administrative Penalty issued by NDRC. The defense addresses the miscalculation of turnover of joint venture that is involved. The NDRC has accepted its defense and granted a reduction of RMB 52.32 million in its fine. It can be seen that proactive approach and proposal of defense could help the companies avoid or mitigate penalties.

MICROSOFT ARTICLE

In the report on Chinese antitrust law by the Chinese T&D Law Firm, T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of July 2014, which will be attached to my blog, Chinese antitrust lawyer John Ren had this to say about the Microsoft case:

SAIC Initiates Anti-Monopoly Investigation on Microsoft

29 July, 2014 According to the information issued on the SAIC’s official website , on July 28, around 100 enforcement officials from the SAIC conducted dawn raids on Microsoft China and its branch companies in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. In June 2013, SAIC verified whether Microsoft violated the AML because of the allegation of the compatibility issue due to the non-full disclosure of information about the Windows operational system and office software, tying, and file validation, reported by other enterprises. During the verification, SAIC successively interviewed Microsoft and relevant enterprises, and Microsoft submitted the responding reports focusing on issues SAIC paid attentions to. In the period, relevant enterprises also continued to provide relevant information to SAIC. SAIC concluded that the preliminary verification cannot remove the suspicion of anti-competitive practices as mentioned above. Therefore, SAIC has initiated the investigation on Microsoft for its suspected anti-monopoly conducts pursuant to the relevant laws and regulations.

On July 28, 2014, according to the AML, SAIC conducted dawn raids on four of Microsoft’s business locations, i.e. Microsoft China and its branch companies in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. The personnel who were investigated included the Vice Presidents, senior management and the relevant staffs in the marketing, financial and other departments of Microsoft. The enforcement officials of SAIC copied some contracts and financial statements of Microsoft, extracted large amounts of electronic data including internal communication documents and emails, and sealed and removed two working computers. During the dawn raids, the investigation contents had not been fully completed, since according to Microsoft, some of the major staffs who need to be investigated were not in China at this stage. SAIC has instructed Microsoft to arrange relevant staffs to visit SAIC for being inspected as soon as possible.

Microsoft’s Chinese councils witnessed the entire enforcement practice conducted the by SAIC. Currently, the case is still under investigation.

NOW INDIA

Now India has followed China’s lead and its antitrust agency have hit 14 carmakers, including General Motors and Ford, with fines totaling 2,545 crore ($420.3 million) for violating India’s competition laws by allegedly restricting the ability of independent repair shops to enter the market.

The Competition Commission of India alleged the companies abused their dominant position by denying access to branded spare parts and diagnostic tools to independent repairers, hampering competition while allowing authorized dealers to charge higher prices.

SECURITIES

LIHUA

On August 15, 2014, William Peck filed the attached shareholder derivative suit, LIHUA COMPLAINT, in New York Federal District Court against Lihua International, Inc, Jianhua Zhu, Daphne Yan Huang, Yaying Wang, Robert C. Bruce, Jonathan P. Serbin, Siu Ki “Kelvin” Lau, Tian Bao Wang and Ming Zhang. Lihua is a China-based copper products company, and the attached complaint alleges materially false and misleading public filings that failed to disclose a substantial asset transfer out of the company by its former CEO. The shareholders say that eight executives and board members “knew nothing” about the former CEO’s alleged diversion of assets to another company, Power Apex Holdings Ltd., which the plaintiffs say is ultimately owned by the People’s Republic of China. The new derivative suit says the company is already being sued by two putative classes of shareholders who lost money in the stock drop.

CHINA MEDIA EXPRESS

On August 15, 2014, in the attached decision, CHINA MEDIA OPINION, a New York Federal Judge certified a class of investors in a class action securities case against China MediaExpress Holdings Inc. The Plaintiff allege the Chinese company concealed material information and made various misstatement and omissions that eventually led to a stock drop. The complaint was filed in February 2011.

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

VOLKSWAGEN

On August 25, 2014, there were reports out of China that the Chinese government has launched an anticorruption probe into a former and a current executive at one of Volkswagen AG ‘s China joint ventures. The Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection accused Li Wu, a former deputy general manager at FAW-Volkswagen Automobile Co., and Zhou Chun, a deputy general manager of the joint venture’s Audi sales division, of “suspected serious violations of discipline and law.” The phrase is typically used in Chinese corruption cases.

DORSEY FCPA DIGEST

In the attached August edition of the FCPA Digest, DORSEY Anti_Corruption_Digest_Aug2014, Dorsey lawyers report on a corruption investigation involving China stating:

“China

It has been reported that China commenced an investigation into former domestic security chief, Zhou Yongkang, on suspicion of corruption. The Communist Party decided to question Zhou Yongkang for suspected “serious disciplinary violations”, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The investigation will be conducted by the Party’s watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

During Zhou Yongkang’s five-year appointment as security chief, he oversaw the police force, civilian intelligence apparatus, paramilitary police, judges and prosecutors.”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On August 6, 2014, Andrew Dennison filed the attached class action securities case against China Commercial Credit, Inc., Huichun Qin, Long Yi, Jianmin Yin, Jingeng Ling, Xiangdong Xiao and John F. Levy. CHINA COMMERCIAL

If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–DEVELOPMENTS IN TRADE, IP, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Qianmen Zhengyang Gate Wide Tiananmen Square Beijing China Night“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—JULY 23, 2014

Dear Friends,

My monthly blog post on the US China Trade War will be issued later this month. There have been some recent developments of interest, however.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

BEIJING ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING

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.

We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement 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. The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries. We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.

Congressmen have agreed to meet importers to listen to their grievances regarding the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws. In addition to contacting US importers, we are now contacting many Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they are interested in participating in the Alliance.

As indicated above, at the present time, Commerce takes the position that it will not make China a market economy country in 2016 as required by the WTO Accession Agreement because the 15 years is in a treaty and not in the US antidumping and countervailing duty law. Changes to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law against China can only happen because of a push by US importers and end user companies. In US politics, only squeaky wheels get the grease.

On August 7, 2014, we held an organizational meeting in Beijing, China at the headquarters of China Ocean Shipping Company (“COSCO”) with interested Chambers of Commerce and Chinese companies to explain the project in more detail and to seek help in contacting US importers about the Alliance.

We spoke to about 40 attendees, including attendees from the legal departments of the top 10 chambers of commerce, including Chemicals, Machinery and Electronics, Light Industrial Products, and Food and the Steel, Wood Products and Hydraulics Pneumatics & Seals Association.

In addition to describing the Import Alliance and the issues regarding 2016 in the US China Accession Agreement, we also discussed the US China Trade War in general.  Introductory videos for Organizational Meeting from Cal Scott of Polder Inc., the President of the Import Alliance, can be found at the following link https://vimeo.com/103556227 and for former Congressmen Don Bonker and Cliff Stearns of APCO can be found at the following link https://vimeo.com/103556226 along with the powerpoint FINAL WEB BEIJING IMPORT ALLIANCE POWERPOINT we used to describe the Import Alliance, the specific provision in the US China WTO Agreement and the Trade War in general.

TRADE

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT??

On June 3, 2014, Commerce issued its preliminary countervailing duty determination against China in the Solar Products case. The fact sheet and preliminary Federal Register notice have been posted on my blog. The Countervailing Duty Rates range from 18.56% for Trina to 35.21% for Wuxi Suntech and all other Chinese companies getting 26.89%. The Antidumping Preliminary determinations against China and Taiwan are not due to come out until July 24th.

On July 25th, the Commerce Department announced its preliminary determination in Chinese solar products case levying, in effect, 47.27% combined rates (20.38% Antidumping, 26.89% Countervailing Duty) wiping out billions of dollars in imports of Chinese solar products into the United States.  See AD Prelim Factsheet Below.

On August 8th, the Commerce Department gave the Chinese government until today August 15th to propose a settlement agreement.  As I understand it, today, August 15th, the Chinese government did file a letter at Commerce expressing interest in a suspension agreement, but no proposed formal agreement has been filed with the Department.

AUGUST ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On August 1, 2014, Commerce published in the Federal Register the attached notice REVIEW REQUEST NOTICE AUGUST that will be posted on my blog regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of August. The specific antidumping cases against China are:

Floor-Standing, Metal-Top Ironing Tables and Parts Thereof, Laminated Woven Sacks, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Petroleum Wax Candles, Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags, Sodium Nitrite, Steel Nails, Sulfanilic Acid, Tetrahydrofurfuryl Alcohol, Tow-Behind Lawn Groomers and Parts Thereof, and Woven Electric Blankets.

The specific countervailing duty cases are:

Laminated Woven Sacks, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Sodium Nitrite, and Tow-Behind Lawn Groomers and Parts Thereof.

For those US import companies that imported Ironing Tables, Laminated Woven Sacks, Retail Carrier Bags, Steel Nails, Sulfanilic Acid, Lawn Groomers, and Electric Blankets and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period August 1, 2013-July 31, 2014 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2013 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 final determination in the Wood Flooring Case, for example, although the rates were very low for many Chinese exporters, only 5%, 20 Chinese exporters had their rates go to 58% because they did not participate in the review investigation and did not file a no shipment certification, separate rate application or separate rate certification at the Commerce Department.

CHINA TRADE WAR EXPANDS IN LAST FEW DAYS

The US China Trade War in the last several days expanded dramatically.

Today July 29 China time, the Chinese government conducted a dawn raid of Microsoft offices in China, apparently because of antitrust concerns.  Last week the Chinese government’s NDRC declared US company Qualcomm to be a monopoly. Rumors are that the Qualcomm antitrust investigation in China could end at the end of next month with a potential penalty of $1 billion.

On Friday, July 25th, the Commerce Department announced its preliminary determination in Chinese solar products case levying, in effect, 47.27% combined rates (20.38% Antidumping, 26.89% Countervailing Duty) wiping out billions of dollars in imports of Chinese solar products into the United States.

See the attached articles about the antitrust investigations and the factsheet issued by the Commerce Department on Friday in the Solar Products case.  microsoft-china-antitrust-invest us-qualcomm-china-idU Solar Products AD Prelim Fact Sheet 072514 (1)

More information on these cases will be set out in my next blog post.

YES READER WE HAVE A TRADE WAR WITH CHINA

In talking with a number of US government officials, it has become clear that they do not realize that the United States has a trade war with China and guns are being fired on both sides.  These US government officials point to the $4 billion in “dumped” Solar Cells coming from China, but the same government officials do not realize that the Chinese Government through antidumping and countervailing duties have wiped out $2 billion in exports of US produced polysilicon going into those Chinese solar cells. This Chinese government action has resulted in REC Silicon deferring a $1 billion investment into Moses Lake, Washington.

US Government officials have also stated that Chinese companies have to come to the US because the United States has the largest market in the World. What many US government officials do not understand is that with a population of 1.6 billion and a middle/upper class of at least 500 million, China’s market is now larger than the United States. The best-selling car in China is the Ford Fusion. It used to be the Buick. Many officials do not realize that the US Qualcomm company, an American semiconductor company, is making $24 billion a year and $12 billion is from China.  On July 24th, the Chinese government NDRC declared Qualcomm to be a monopoly and there are rumors that the  Chinese government NDRC will fine Qualcomm up to $1 billion for violations of China’s antimonopoly law.

Although the US government has taken China to the WTO for violations of the WTO antidumping and countervailing agreement with regards to imports of chicken from the US and crows about its victories against China, on July 8th in response to the WTO decision China lowered its antidumping duties on broiler chicken products from the U.S. to between 46.6 and 73.8 percent. The high 46.6 to 73.8% rates mean that $1 billion in US chicken exports will continue to be kept out of the Chinese market.

China, however, is just taking its lead from the US Commerce Department, which when facing Chinese victories in the WTO, grudgingly moves antidumping and countervailing duty rates by only small amounts and has had antidumping orders against China excluding certain products from the US market for as long as 30 years.

But as indicated below in the comments of the US Senators and the testimony of Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steel Workers, and Mario Longhi, President of the United States Steel Corporation, in the June 25th Senate Finance Committee hearing, many Washington DC politicians want to be tough on China under intense pressure from US manufacturing companies and unions.  In fact, the US Steel Industry has had a massive impact on the trade policy of the United States, when the employment of the US Steel Industry is lower than one US high tech company.

In a July 7th report, however, Commerce announced that 796,000 US jobs are tied to exports of goods and services to China. What does that give the Chinese government when dealing with the United States on trade issues? What does the Chinese government get when many US companies want to get into the Chinese market?  Leverage.

As one former WTO official stated at a recent Washington DC trade conference, all of WTO law is built on reciprocity. What one country can do under the trade laws can be done back to that same country. When the US government throws trade stones at China, the Chinese government can throw trade stones back and those stones will hurt.

The problem with this trade war, however, is that it is expanding, and when trade wars expand, all sides loose not only economically.  In extreme situations, trade wars can provide a tinder box that can explode into military conflict.  Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail in both the United States and China and call off this trade war and create trade peace before a lot of companies and people in both countries get burned.

SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE HEARING—ENFORCEMENT OF US ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAWS—TRADE WAR GOES ON

Set forth below is a link to the June 25, 2014 hearing of the Senate Finance Committee in Washington DC.  The Senate Finance Committee is the most powerful trade committee in the US Congress.

This hearing will give you an idea of the political situation in Washington DC with regard to China. Move the buffering slider to minute 41 when the hearing starts. There is a recess in the hearing so you need to move the buffering slider to 1 hour 47 minutes when the hearing resumes.

http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=e2227102-5056-a032-5262-9d177c5f753f

During the Senate Finance Committee, Senators asked for aggressive trade enforcement in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, including Steel and in particular Oil Country Tubular Goods (“OCTG”), and against China. The Senators described the importance of the legislation they have introduced to stop transshipment and make sure that antidumping and countervailing duty laws are enforced.

The witnesses were US Steel, the Steel Union, the US Chicken and Soybean industries and Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical producer. The two most prominent witnesses at the Senate Finance Committee, however, were Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steel Workers (“USW”), and Mario Longhi, President of the United States Steel Corporation.  The USW has brought the OCTG antidumping and countervailing duty cases, started the Solar Cells/Clean Energy Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Cases, and brought the recent $2 billion antidumping and countervailing duty cases against Tires from China.  Mr. Gerard would proudly claim that the USW has brought antidumping and countervailing duty cases blocking billions of dollars in imports from China.

The hearing was stacked with US producers and a union complaining about China and other countries.  No US importers were allowed to testify and present the other side of the argument.  When Congress decides to listen to only one side of the trade argument and when there is no fair and balanced portrayal of the US China Trade Problems, the trade war simply gets worse and everyone loses.

The Witness for the US Soybean industry testified that the major world buyer for US soybeans and corn is China. The US Chicken industry pointed to the problem of the Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty cases against US Chicken exports.  Although the US Government “won” the Chicken AD and CVD cases in the WTO, as indicated below, the victory has resulted in antidumping rates falling only to 40%, still blocking $1 billion in US Chicken exports to China.

Senator Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, opened the Senate Finance Committee hearing by stating in the attached statement 06132014 Wyden Statement on the Need for Strong Trade Enforcement:

“Much of the recent debate in Congress over international trade has focused on agreements currently in the works, including the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Not enough time is spent on the trade agreements already in place – have they created American jobs, have they boosted our economy, are they being effectively enforced?

While I intend for the Finance Committee to examine all aspects of U.S. trade policy, today it will focus on enforcement. Without strong enforcement, no trade deal – old or new – is able to live up to its potential for jobs and economic growth. And it becomes extraordinarily difficult to build support for new agreements. Foreign nations will continue locking American goods and services out of their markets.

And foreign companies that get unfair backing from their own governments will continue undercutting our manufacturers, farmers and ranchers, driving hard-working Americans out of businesses and out of their jobs. The latest tactics used by foreign nations and companies to skirt our trade rules seem like they’re ripped from the pages of crime and spy novels. They hide paper trails to make it harder to build cases in trade courts.

They intimidate witnesses, forcing American businesses to relocate factories or surrender intellectual property and threatening retaliation if they speak out against unlawful behavior. They even spy on our trade enforcers and companies to undermine efforts at holding them to the rules.  And after they’ve been caught breaking the rules, they engage in outright fraud to avoid punishment.  They play cat and mouse with customs authorities, using shell companies and fraudulent records to exploit weaknesses in our system.

The global economy is more interconnected than ever, which means there’s more at stake for American workers and businesses.  China, India, Brazil – the list of critical markets with serious enforcement challenges has grown.  As that process has played out, for example, currency manipulation has hit American workers and businesses harder than it did in previous decades – particularly when it comes to China.  Currency manipulation makes any product manufactured in the U.S. – any product – artificially expensive.  In effect, it’s a way for China to keep a finger planted on the scale, costing the U.S. jobs and making it harder to recover further from the Great Recession. . . .

The challenges of the modern, global economy simply do not always fit neatly within our aging enforcement system.  American trade enforcement needs to be brought into the 21st century.  For example, when the Chinese government gives its domestic solar companies massive subsidies, the U.S. needs to respond quickly and with all available resources.  In practice, the response took years, and was too little and too late to protect thousands of American jobs and home-grown technologies.  The Chinese solar companies had already crippled their American competitors.

That’s why a more effective enforcement authority is needed.  Better enforcement tools would identify and stop a problem more quickly before it costs American jobs.

The same goes for enforcement at our borders.  When fake tennis shoes or counterfeit computer chips arrive in the U.S., Customs often appears too focused on security rather than its trade mission.  This is especially damaging since foreign companies and governments are finding new ways to mask where products come from before they show up at our doorstep.  For example, Chinese companies avoid anti-dumping duties by routing merchandise through a place like Singapore before it heads to the U.S.  The schemes are becoming even more complex, sometimes involving shell companies that appear one day and disappear the next without leaving any paper trail.

The ENFORCE Act, bipartisan legislation I first introduced 2011, would mount a stronger defense against those practices.  It would set up a standardized process to move investigations forward, and it would establish better lines of communication between agencies to get information in the right hands.  It would also refocus Customs so that its trade mission doesn’t get short shrift.

Proper trade enforcement is an increasingly difficult job.  It takes time, and the fact is that it’s impossible to stand up a trade case in a single day.  But it’s essential for enforcement agencies to have the resources needed to do their jobs effectively.  Too often, when these cases lag, American workers are losing their jobs and businesses are closing their doors.  Succeeding in the global economy is already challenging enough; the U.S. cannot add to the difficulty by underfunding its enforcement efforts. . . .”

Republican Senator Hatch, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, stated in the attached statement, 6.25.2014 Hatch State at Finance Committee Hearing on Trade Enforcement2:

“. . . .Some of the most important trade enforcement tools we have are U.S. safeguard, anti-dumping, and countervailing duty laws. For companies like U.S. Magnesium, which operates in Salt Lake City and Rowley, Utah, our trade laws are essential to their ability to compete against imports that unfairly benefit from foreign government interference in the market.

I want to ensure that these laws remain effective tools in our international trade arsenal.

That is one reason the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act which I introduced with former Senator Baucus in January includes – as a principle negotiating objective – a directive to preserve the ability of the United States to rigorously enforce our trade laws.

I also want effective trade enforcement at the border. That’s why I worked with Chairman Wyden to craft a version of the ENFORCE Act that gained unanimous bipartisan support in the Finance Committee. This bill provides new tools to help stop circumvention of our trade remedy laws. . . .

Senator Portman, when he was the U.S. Trade Representative, brought the first WTO dispute against China in which China was found to have breached its WTO commitments. Before that case, China was imposing restrictions on imports of U.S. auto parts that were harming U.S. companies and workers. By effectively employing the WTO dispute settlement system, we were able to get China to reverse course and remove those restrictions. As you can see, we have a system that works. . . .”

Leo W. Gerard, International President, United Steelworkers (“USW”), stated in the attached statement, GERARD 14 06 25 Testimony – Trade Enforcement Challenges and Opportunities2:

“USW members and non-union workers alike know firsthand the pain inflicted by foreign predatory, protectionist and unfair trade practices. In industry after industry, they have seen other nations target the U.S. market to fuel their own economic policies, to create jobs for their people and capture the dollars of our consumers. These practices have increasingly resulted in the downsizing of manufacturing and the loss of good family supportive jobs, as companies have offshored and outsourced their production.

The USW has been as successful as it can be in its efforts to counter unfair trade, but it’s a losing game. Indeed, the only way we win is by losing. Lost profits, lost jobs, closed factories, hollowed out communities – that is the price the trade laws demand to show sufficient injury to provide relief.  In the year or more it takes to bring a trade case and obtain relief, foreign companies can continue to flood the market.  By the time that relief may be provided, the industry is often a shadow of its former self, too many workers have lost their jobs and their families and the communities in which they live have paid a heavy, and often irrevocable, price. . . .

Today, more and more, we find that the USW has to go it alone. Our government should be taking more of the lead. While we appreciate what they are doing, it is far from sufficient.  And, let’s recognize that some of the most successful efforts, like the Section 421 case on tires, were because the USW initially brought the case. We’d vastly prefer that government do its job so our members can do their jobs. . . . This Administration has done more to improve our nation’s trade enforcement efforts since any Administration since the Reagan years. . . .

First, as many of the Members of the Committee know, the USW is fighting to ensure that the Department of Commerce carefully review the facts in the Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) case in which they issued a preliminary finding that imports from South Korea would not be subject to dumping margins. We believe this preliminary finding is flawed.  Indeed, Senators sent a letter to the Administration asking for a careful review and that effort was mirrored by more than one-third of the House joining in that call. . . .

The second issue, and a critical one, is the issue of currency manipulation.  China is the worst culprit, but other nations are following their lead.  China has been able to essentially subsidize its exports and tax imports into its market through currency cheating.  Everyone knows it. Every six months the Treasury Department issues a report saying that China isn’t doing the right thing, it’s not based on market principles but stops short of making the critical finding that would only require consultation.  This Administration and the last said that dialogue and engagement were the appropriate course to pursue. Some say that China is taking steps to bring its currency into equilibrium. They point to a widening of the trading bands.  Well, China’s currency is still dramatically undervalued and is a tool China uses to fuel its export-led growth strategy and limit imports into its market.

China makes small changes when political pressure rises here but then goes right back to business as usual. Some experts opine that asking China to do more will only destabilize its economy.  Well, I’m sick and tired of American workers and domestic industries having to pay the price for China’s trade and economic policies.  The time for talk is over.  If the Administration won’t act, Congress must prioritize passing legislation to give private parties the power to seek relief from China’s currency manipulation, or that of any other country.  Congress must not leave town for campaign season before passing this critical legislation.  If it can act earlier, great, but, at election time, this Congress will be judged by our members on whether they stood by their sides, or continued to allow China and others to cheat them out of their jobs and their futures. . . .

The USW is proud of its efforts in this area and has been public in commending the Administration for doing more than any previous Administration in making enforcement more important.  There have been real successes, like in the Section 421 case on Chinese tires.  But, much, much, much more needs to be done.  And, we can never let up.  Right after relief ended under the Section 421, China resumed flooding our market with tires – dumped and subsidized tires.  Just a few weeks ago, the USW filed an AD/CVD case against Chinese tires which have increased from about 24 million units to more than 50 million.  Their market share has doubled.  During that period, domestic production has gone down as China captured all of the market growth, and then some. . . .

Just eliminating the data or changing how it’s reported doesn’t change the facts, no matter how hard people try. Too much of our production is being offshored or outsourced and our trade laws aren’t doing enough to ensure that the rules are fair.

Another critical issue is simply using the words and actions of our trading partners to identify what they’re up to. Sometimes, of course, it’s difficult to discern or identify what they’re up to. But, in many cases, they are quite open about it. China is way ahead of others on this point.  It has published its 12th Five Year Plan which clearly indicates what its priorities are and what it intends to do. It announced that it will spend $1.5 trillion to achieve those goals.  It has developed lists of national champions and strategic sectors that it will support. It has many other open source documents identifying technological roadmaps, performance stands, export credits in violation of OECD standards and countless other programs.

Why don’t we take them at their word? Why aren’t we taking those lists and determining what our interests are.

A perfect example was identified by the New York Times just last week. In the past several years, the U.S. has indicated that it wants to phase-out the use of incandescent lighting in the U.S. and move towards more energy-efficient technologies like LEDs. China has taken this technology, developed by the U.S., and created a mammoth production base to try and fill their own needs, and those of others around the globe. They are building up extensive capacity and can soon be expected to flood the U.S. and world markets with these products that will probably be sold at dumped and subsidized prices.

Yet, no one acts. Isn’t it time we took trade seriously and did more to build public confidence that trade agreements are in their interest rather than just pathways for companies to outsource and offshore production?

ENFORCEMENT

There’s a reason that trade agreements and topics like fast track are viewed so negatively by the public. Trade isn’t working for them.

The Steelworkers have taken action where we can and are proud that we have been the single-leading force in seeking to have trade rules properly enforced and that the terms of trade are fair.  Since 2000, we have filed or supported dozens of cases. Among them are:

Section 201 safeguard action on steel.

Coated free sheet paper cases.

Section 301 action against Chinese currency manipulation.

Section 301 action on Chinese workers’ rights violations.

Section 301 case on Chinese protectionist and predatory actions on green technology.

Identification of Chinese predatory trade practices in the auto parts sector.

Section 421 case on Chinese tires.

Oil Country Tubular Goods antidumping case.

We do not look at filing trade cases as a sign of success: Far from it. Under our trade laws, there has to be injury, often significant injury or threat of injury, before any relief might be offered.  In essence, we win by losing.

A perfect example of this is the coated free sheet paper trade problem.  The USW filed a case and, while dumping was found, the injury was determined not to be significant enough for relief.  Several years later, we filed essentially the same case but, by that time, more than 7,000 workers had lost their jobs, capacity was shut down and companies were on the brink.

Relief was provided and many of the remaining workers have their jobs as a result.  But, a substantial portion of the industry will never come back.

These cases are difficult to bring and expensive to pursue.  There are countless issues that must be addressed and, these days, many companies refuse to participate.  Some refuse because they have offshored their production, abandoning the U.S. market and want to protect the subsidized and dumped products they now sell in the U.S. that they use to make here.

Other companies are worried about retaliation.  Several years ago, in a sector that will remain nameless, an antidumping/subsidy case was being prepared that the Chinese found out about. The Chinese government called in the managers of foreign-invested enterprises operating in China in the sector and indicated that, if a case went forward, those companies’ operating permits would be revoked.  None of those companies, of course, dared come forward.

Under our trade laws, if a company refuses to provide data, it may be tough to develop the information needed to pass the injury test.  So, as companies become more globalized, the workers, families and communities who are at risk from foreign predatory and protectionist trade practices may find that they have no recourse.

Those standards underlying how a trade enforcement case can be brought, who has standing, and other intricacies of the law need to be updated. For example, state and local governments should be given standing under our trade laws as participants. Often, the only entity that has standing under the trade law that actually cares about jobs in America are workers and their representatives. That’s why the USW is the lead on so many cases.

But, state and local governments also care whether their local plants are being victimized by unfair trade. They should have the ability to be petitioners in trade cases. And certainly, necessary information must be made available to injured parties and not kept secret behind corporate walls.

There are many other issues which the trade bar is working on deserving serious consideration by this Committee and the Congress. It’s time to update our laws as they haven’t been seriously reviewed in more than 25 years. And, it’s vital that Congress recognize the damage that unfairly priced and traded imports have had all across this country.

Importers don’t care whether America makes anything, they only care about the profits they can make from the products they sell. It’s important to view all of these changes by asking the question: “Whose side are you on?” . . .

Unfortunately, too many companies scour the globe looking for the cheapest place to produce, even it means despoiling the environment or trampling on workers’ rights. Proper enforcement of workers’ rights helps create opportunity, helps ensure a growing middle class, helps reduce the economic divide and, indeed, promotes greater trade.”

Mario Longhi President, United States Steel Corporation stated in the attached statement, US STEEL CORP Longhi Testimony – Senate Finance Committee – 06.23.141:

“The approach and manner in which foreign companies are dumping thousands of tons of products into the U.S. market leads business leaders such as me to conclude that American steel companies are being targeted for elimination. . . .

Mr. Chairman, your leadership in introducing the ENFORCElegislation is most welcomed. We concur that the Customs and Border Protection Agency should be empowered and strengthened to take swift action when dumping or countervailing duty orders are evaded through transshipment, misclassification, misreporting, or outright falsification of import documents. This should be one of many tools in our trade toolbox. . . .Unfortunately Mr. Chairman, this is not the world in which we operate.

According to the United States Trade Representative, there are currently 56 pending antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) cases, of which 73% involve steel products. There are 117 existing AD and CVD cases, of which 40% involve steel related products. . . . At any given time, our industry is pursuing over 30 active anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases against an ever-growing list of foreign competitors who are supported – tacitly or openly – by their own governments. . . .

In 2013, almost 150,000 jobs were directly attributed to the steel industry. Within the value chain, it is estimated that more than 1 million jobs are steel-related jobs.  So when our industry is harmed, so too are the local vendors, markets, restaurants, dry cleaners, and other local service providers, schools and community organizations.

Let me illustrate for you how this harm occurs. . . . A year ago, U. S. Steel and other domestic Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) producers filed a trade case against nine countries based on the enormous 113-percent increase of imported OCTG products into this market between 2010-2012. Primarily South Korean companies are the main violators, but companies from India, Vietnam, Turkey and several other countries also dump very significant volumes. . . .

China tried to do the same thing in 2008. We fought and won an OCTG dumping case in 2009, but not before many facilities were idled, thousands of steelworkers lost their jobs, and our communities and our families sustained significant and long-lasting injury.  After we won the case, Chinese producers essentially abandoned the U.S. OCTG market, a clear sign that they could not compete when the playing field was leveled.

As the American economy and our energy demands rebounded, American steel companies spent billions of dollars to improve OCTG facilities across the country. In the past 5 years, U. S. Steel spent more than $2.1 billion across our facilities, $200 million on new facilities at our Lorain Tubular Operations in the last two years alone. However, the respite for the OCTG industry from illegally dumped products was short-lived.  Foreign producers quickly seized this opportunity and began flooding our market.

The only difference between 2009 and today is that South Korean and other foreign OCTG producers are cleverer.  South Korean companies are effectively targeting our market since they do not sell this product in their own home market or (in substantial volumes) to other nation.  Over 98% of what is produced in South Korea is exported directly to the U.S.

Earlier this year, the Department of Commerce issued disappointing preliminary findings that failed to recognize and punish illegally dumped South Korean products. After decades of dumping practice, it appears that these companies have learned to circumvent our trade laws and illegally dump massive amounts of steel products in this market with ease and agility.

So it is not surprising that in advance of the impending final decision by the Department of Commerce, last month, the total OCTG imports hit a high of 431,866 net tons, a 77.4% percent change year/year. The South Koreans exported to the U.S. nearly 214,000 net tons of OCTG in May, an increase from the monthly average of 27,000 net tons in the prior 12 months. They are trying to dump as much product as they can before the final ruling.  The South Korean gamesmanship of our system of laws is disquieting. Their efforts are unchecked and repugnantly effective. . . .”

Kevin J. Brosch, the National Chicken Council in the attached statement, NCC Senate Finance Testimony 062514:

“. . . .The U.S. is the most efficient producer of poultry products in the world. U.S. production value in 2013 was $30.7 billion. We are the world’s second largest exporter, only narrowly behind Brazil, and in 2013 we exported nearly 20% of our total volume of production, with an export value of more than $4.7 billion. U.S. poultry is our 6th most important agricultural export, with product being exported to nearly 100 countries each year. It has also been an important growth sector for U.S. agriculture with exports increasing from 5.2% of production volume in 1990, to nearly 20% in 2013. . . .

In specifically addressing the issue of enforcement, I should begin by thanking the Obama Administration for a very significant and recent success. China is the best example we can point to of vigorous and timely trade enforcement.  In 2009, China imposed antidumping duties on U.S. chicken using the so-called “weight-based cost of production” theory. . . . Immediately after China announced its decision to impose antidumping duties, the Obama Administration requested dispute settlement, and aggressively litigated the case before the WTO. Last summer a WTO panel ruled in our favor. China elected not to appeal that decision and we are currently awaiting China’s announcement of how it will change its antidumping decision to come into compliance with WTO rules. Hopefully, China will act in good faith and honor its WTO commitments, but there are no assurances.  . . . .

(Even with USTR’s efforts, the China case cost U.S. industry millions of dollars in legal fees to pursue). China represented a 700,000 MT market for U.S. poultry at the time the antidumping duties were imposed, and is potentially an even larger market for our products in the future. We have been out of the market now for several years, and hope that China will lift its restrictions now that an international legal panel has ruled against it.  In our view, the prosecution of the China antidumping case before the WTO represents U.S. trade policy at its best; enforcing those trade rights we have already negotiated for. . . .”

Richard Wilkins, Treasurer of the American Soybean Association, stated in the attached statement, Statement on Trade Enforcement for Biotech Exports:

“I would like to return to my earlier comment on the importance of China as a market for U.S. biotech commodities and products. China is by far the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans, importing over one-fourth of our annual production. The Department of Agriculture forecasts that China will also become the world’s largest corn importer by 2020. U.S. agriculture is a long-term committed partner in working with China to meet its food security needs. . . .

It is critically important for the Administration to engage the Government of China at the highest level to reach a mutually beneficial understanding on trade in biotech commodities.”

TRADE DEFICIT DECLINES AS US EXPORTS INCREASE AND US JOBS SUPPORTED BY US EXPORTS TO CHINA RISE TO 796,000

As the Congress continues to bash China and listen to the Steel Union and US Steel, statistics show a much different story. On July 7, 2014, the Commerce Department announced the US trade deficit had dropped to $44 billion “bolstered by record high exports of a broad swath of consumer goods and services such as telecommunications, car parts and travel”. In effect, the trade deficit had dropped 5.6 percent drop from a $47 billion gap in April as US exports hit a record $195.5 billion.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said that the numbers show the economy is growing healthier because “Today’s strong export numbers are yet another sign that more American businesses are seizing the opportunity to sell their world-class products and services to the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the United States.”

Where are those exports going? China.  According to the attached July 7th Report issued by the Commerce “ Jobs Supported by Export Destination 2013”, COMMERCE TRADE JOBS China is number 3 for US export destinations behind Canada and Mexico. The US jobs created by US exports of goods to China are 796, 000 (588,000 goods and 207,000 services) with Japan at 605,000 and United Kingdom at 587,000.

Although many Government officials apparently do not seem to understand this simple fact, the premise of this blog is that Trade is a two way street. Although many officials and political leaders at the Washington DC level want to continually criticize China, many local US government officials want the US companies to continue exporting to China and want Chinese investment in their towns, cities and states.

WTO RULES AGAINST THE US IN COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AGAINST CHINA

On July 14, 2014, in the attached decision and summary, PANEL REPORT SUMMARY the WTO upheld China’s claims that certain US countervailing duty cases against China were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement. The dispute involves 17 Commerce Department countervailing duty investigations against China on approximately $7.2 billion dollars of imported products, such as solar panels; wind towers; thermal paper; coated paper; tow-behind lawn groomers; kitchen shelving; steel sinks; citric acid; magnesia carbon bricks; pressure pipe; line pipe; seamless pipe; steel cylinders; drill pipe; oil country tubular goods; wire strand; and aluminum extrusions.

The WTO decision states that with regard to 12 countervailing duty investigations that the United States acted inconsistently because it found that certain state-owned enterprises were public bodies or government entities and thus the sales of certain raw material inputs by these companies, in effect, were subsidized by the Chinese government. The WTO recommended that the US bring its decisions in line with the WTO Agreement. The WTO ruled for China in certain cases and against China in certain cases so it is something of a mixed result.

Also the WTO determined that Commerce “improperly found that the alleged provision of goods for less than adequate remuneration conferred a benefit upon the recipient, and improperly calculated the amount of any benefit allegedly conferred, including. . . its erroneous findings that prevailing market conditions in China were “distorted” as the basis for rejecting actual transaction prices in China as benchmarks in certain investigations.”

Since China is considered a nonmarket economy country, Commerce in countervailing duty cases against China refuses to look at free market bench markets for interest rates or other prices in China. In one case, which was overturned in part by the WTO, to value dirty factory land in Shandong, China Commerce used the value of land for a shopping center in Thailand.

As a result, the WTO Panel recommended that the United States should bring its measures into conformity with its obligations under the WTO Agreement. What does the WTO decision mean and what impact will it have on future countervailing duty cases against China. The answer is not much.

Just like the response of the Chinese government to the WTO’s decision in the Chicken case, Commerce will make a few changes to its methodology and explain its decision more, but there will be no real change to past or future countervailing duty cases against China.

Also the impact of this WTO decision on US methodology in future Countervailing duty (“CVD”) cases against China is not clear yet because this panel decision will be reviewed by the WTO Appellate Body, which has frequently overturned panel decisions in trade remedy cases. Just like the Chinese chicken case, any change in methodology still means that the US government will issue CVD rates against China. Those rates will just decline a little.

On July 18, 2014, in the attached statement, MOFCOM STATE MOFCOM Minister Hucheng Gao stated in response to the WTO decision on US CVD cases:

“The United States abusive use of trade remedy measures severely impaired the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises. . . .I strongly urge the United States to confront its long-standing systematic violations of the WTO rules through its trade remedy related legislations and practices, to implement the rulings of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body in good faith, to correct its abusive use of the trade remedy rules in a timely and complete fashion, and to strive to become a role model who abides by the rules strictly, rather than a negative influence who breaches the rules . . . .

The economic and trade relations between China and the United States are the ballast stone and engine of overall China-U.S. ties.”

SOLAR CASES

On June 3, 2014, Commerce issued its preliminary countervailing duty determination against China in the Solar Products case. The fact sheet and preliminary Federal Register notice are attached to the last post on my blog. The Countervailing Duty Rates range from 18.56% for Trina to 35.21% for Wuxi Suntech and all other Chinese companies getting 26.89%. The Antidumping Preliminary determinations against China and Taiwan are not due to come out until July 24th.

The Scope issue, what specific products are covered by this decision, is simply not clear yet. On May 30, 2014, two US senators sent the attached letter to Commerce, SENATOR LETTER, specifically requesting that Commerce come up with the correct “scope” determination and not to change past definitions. In other words, the two Senators request the Department to “preserve” the existing country of origin standard, which means that the country of origin of the solar cell would determine the country of origin of the module and panel. The Commerce Department’s July 3rd response, however, was noncommittal.

In the letter, however, the two Senators acknowledged, “While we hope that: a negotiated settlement can be reached between the affected parties, the Chinese government, and our government, that is not a likely outcome at this point.” Under the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Law, since there is no public interest test, the petitioner, SolarWorld, would ultimately have to agree to any settlement/suspension agreement reached between the U.S. and China.

Thus on June 24th in a letter to 23 Congressmen, Solar World pushed back on Congressional efforts to obtain a settlement agreement and responded to a May 28 letter by 23 House members to President Obama urging him to broker a unified position among elements of the solar industry that “remove existing trade restrictions.”

One route to settling a trade remedy case is a suspension agreement, but SolarWorld said that there is no active discussion of that option now.  On July 1st Solar World filed a letter at Commerce urging it to probe the trade implications of alleged cyber espionage by the Chinese military involving the company. So this case is not going to Agreement any time soon.

OCTG

As stated in prior newsletters and above, US Steel Corp along with the Steel Union have brought follow up cases against Steel Oil Country Tubular Goods (“OCTG”), Steel Pipes used in oil wells from a number of different countries. US Steel and the Steel Union first attacked China and were able to drive them out of the US market with 47% dumping rate, not based on actual prices and costs in China. Instead, Commerce used values from Indian import statistics to throw the Chinese out of the US market.

In the Chinese antidumping case on US Chicken, the US government complained that China used a “weight based cost of production” theory to calculate US antidumping rates.  But at least the Chinese government used actual prices and costs in the United States to calculate US antiduping rates, not like the US Commerce Department, which refuses to even use actual prices and costs in China to calculate antidumping rates for Chinese companies.

But as indicated above in the testimony of Mr. Gerrard of the USW Workers, China was replaced by imports from Korea, Taiwan, India and many other countries. So USW and US Steel filed antidumping and countervailing duty cases against those countries. But in the preliminary dumping determination against Korea and other countries, when Commerce had to use actual prices and costs in Korea and other countries to calculate antidumping and countervailing duty rates, what antidumping rates did Commerce come up with? 0s for Korea, 0 to 2.65 for Taiwan, 0 for one producer in India, 2.92% for Saudi Arabia and 8.9% for Philippines.

As indicated above, however, the USW and US Steel through the Congress put immense political pressure on Commerce to change its preliminary determination, especially with regards to Korea. With regards to OCTG, however, one should understand that the first OCTG cases were filed in the early 1980s against Korea and other countries followed by additional cases in the mid-1990s. Since Korea has been a target of OCTG cases in the past and since Commerce must use actual prices and costs in Korea to determine whether the companies are dumping, one can expect that Korean OCTG producers will monitor their prices and costs very closely to make sure that they are not dumping. When foreign companies are in market economy countries, where Commerce must use actual prices and costs in those countries to determine dumping, foreign companies can use computer programs to make sure that they are not dumping.

Thus it is not surprising that Commerce calculated 0% dumping rates for Korea in the OCTG preliminary determination. But with very substantial Congressional pressure on the Commerce Department, as suspected, Commerce came out with an affirmative antidumping determination in the Korea case.

On July 11, 2014, in the attached decision, factsheet-multiple-OCTG-ad-cvd-final-071114, Commerce issued its final determination pushing Korea’s AD rate to 9.89 to 15.75%, Taiwan 0 to2.52%, Saudi Arabia 2.69%, Philippines 9.88%, Ukraine 6.73% and an India CVD rate from 5 to 19%.

The point, however, is that these are not shut out rates, and in contrast to China, all of these countries will continue to export OCTG steel products to the United States in substantial quantities.

On July 15th at the US International Trade Commission’s (“ITC”) injury hearing, 4 US Senators testified about the importance of the ITC reaching an affirmative injury determination in the case.

TIRES

As mentioned in my last newsletter, on June 3, 2014, the USW union filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case aimed at $2 billion in imports of automobile and truck tires from China. The case is specifically described as Certain Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires from the People’s Republic of China. A short form of the petition is attached to my last post on this blog.

At the end of June Commerce postponed the initiation of the case so it could survey the US industry because of standing concerns. But on July 15, 2014, the Commerce initiated the antidumping and countervailing duty investigations. See the attached fact sheet.  DOC Tires Initiation Fact Sheet

With the 20 day postponement, however, fully extended out, the Commerce Department preliminary countervailing duty determination will come out as soon as November 20, 2014, exposing the US importers to liability for Chinese tire imports, followed by the antidumping preliminary determination on January 19, 2015.

On July 16, 2014, the Commerce Department issued the the quantity and value questionnaire for Chinese companies, which is due August 1, 2014 at Commerce.  prc-qvq-tires-071614.  See also the attached separate rate application for Chinese companies.  prc-sr-app-20140429

On July 22, 2014, the ITC issued a preliminary injury determination in the case. See the attached announcement. ITC AFFIRMATIVE PRELIMINARY. The ITC will issue its formal determination and opinions to Commerce on August 1, 2014.

ACTIVATED CARBON

On June 24, 2014, in the attached decision, Jacobi Carbons et al. v. United States, the Court of International Trade affirmed the Commerce Department in the Activated Carbon fourth administrative review investigation.  ACTIVATED CARBON CIT

WOODFLOORING

In the Woodflooring case, there have been two Court decisions, not favorable to the respondents.

On July 14, 2014, in the attached decision, Changzhou Hawd Flooring Co. v. United States, the Court of International Trade rejected an attempt by a number of Chinese separate rate companies to participate in the appeal of the initial investigation. During the appeal, it became apparent that the Chinese separate rate companies might have an opportunity to obtain a 0% dumping rate and be completely excluded from the case.  CHANGQHOU HAWD FLOORING

On July 16, 2014, in attached decision, Swiff Train v. United States, the Court of International Trade affirmed the International Trade Commission in its injury determination stating that it had made a “but for” determination in the injury remand determination.  SWIFF TRAIN

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—TPA, TPP, TTIP/TA AND DOHA ROUND

As mentioned in past newsletters, in the trade world, the most important developments may be the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic (TA)/ the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP negotiations.  These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues becomes a focal point in Congress and many Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

This is particularly a problem because the protectionism is coming from the Democratic side of the aisle. Democratic Senators and Congressmen are supported by labor unions. To date, President Obama cannot get one Democratic Congressman to support Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) in Congress. Without bipartisan/Democratic support for these Trade Agreements, Republicans will not go out on a limb to support President Obama and risk being shot at by the Democrats during the mid-term elections as soft on trade.

As mentioned in prior newsletters, on January 29th, the day after President Obama pushed the TPA in the State of the Union, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid stated that the TPA bill would not be introduced on the Senate Floor.

To summarize, on January 9, 2014, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, which is posted on my February blog post, was introduced into Congress. The TPA bill gives the Administration, USTR and the President, Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority so that if and when USTR negotiates a trade deal in the TPP or the Trans-Atlantic negotiations, the Agreement will get an up or down vote in the US Congress with no amendments.

Under the US Constitution, Congress, not the President has the power to regulate trade with foreign countries. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, of the Constitution empowers Congress “to regulate Commerce with foreign nations” Thus to negotiate a trade agreement, the Congress gives the Executive Branch, the Administration/The President and United States Trade Representative (“USTR”), the Power to negotiate trade deals.

Because trade deals are negotiated with the foreign countries, the only way to make the system work is that under the TPA law when the Trade Agreement is negotiated, the Congress will agree to have an up or down vote on the entire Agreement and no amendments to the Agreement that has already been negotiated will be allowed.

On April 9, 2014, the new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden announced at a speech to the American Apparel & Footwear Association Conference that he was introducing a new TPA bill, what Senator Wyden calls Smart Track. But to date no details have been given about exactly what Smart Track will mean, other than more oversight by Congress and input by the Public in the trade negotiations.

Now the story continues . . . .

On June 27, 2014, it was reported that there were still many tough issues outstanding in the TPP talks, including Agriculture, especially with Japan. Japan’s commitment to full tariff elimination in the agricultural sector appears to be very weak. Questions remain whether Japan will ever fully open its sensitive food sectors such as beef, pork, wheat, rice and dairy. There are warnings that the bilateral struggles between the U.S. and Japan have had ripple effects with other TPP partners using the impasse to hold off on tabling their best market access offers, not only for agriculture but also for other areas as well. In addition, the failure to pass the TPA has made it more difficult for the US trade negotiators to get a better deal.

Apparently the gaps between the US and Japanese negotiators on agricultural products are very wide. The U.S. had demanded that Japan’s beef and pork tariffs be lowered as close to zero as possible, and as a trade-off to accept low tariff rates. Japan has floated the idea of allowing it to activate safeguard measures that would trigger sharply higher tariffs for an extended period when import quantities reach certain thresholds, while the US position remains the same.

On July 9th seven House Democratic Congressmen, Rep. George Miller (D.-Calif.), Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), Loretta Sanchez (Calif.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Donna Edwards (Md.) and Peter DeFazio (Ore.) questioned whether Congress should grant the administration trade promotion authority (TPA)—particularly in light of what they called a lack of transparency during the talks.

The Democrats argued that an Administration deadline to conclude the TPP talks by the Nov APEC meeting was simply unrealistic because there are too many issues that must be resolved before a TPP agreement would win congressional approval.

On July 15th it was reported that Japan and the US had been able to narrow the gaps in negotiations on agricultural products, specifically rice, beef and pork, dairy, wheat and sugar—as well as safeguards.

On July 16th, it was reported that Deputy USTR Mike Punke spoke at a hearing of the House Ways and Means stating: “We agree with those who say that TPA needs to be updated and we look forward to working with this committee and Congress as a whole to secure a TPA that has as broad bipartisan support as possible.” Punke also stated: “We are very committed to getting TPA. I think Ambassador Froman has practically camped up here over the course of the last six weeks in terms of the outreach that he’s done personally.”

On July 17, 2014, at a Senate Finance Committee hearing about Technology and Trade, http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=565ec6a8-5056-a032-526e-77a13f9f56e5, Republican Senator Orin Hatch, the Ranking Member, spoke about the importance of the TPA and the Enforce Act.

On July 17th, all Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent the attached letter, HOUSE REPS WAYS MEANS, to USTR Froman urging the Administration to build support for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and directing the Administration not to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before TPA is enacted into law. In the letter, the Members stated:

“We are strong supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. . . .While progress has been made in the TPP negotiations, there is a long way to go to finalize an acceptable deal. Therefore, we were surprised when the President recently announced an ambitious timeline for completing the TPP negotiations, potentially by November, without mentioning how he would ensure the enactment into law of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) before concluding TPP negotiations. TPA must be enacted into law before the President completes TPP for two important reasons.

First, TPA shows our trading partners that the U.S. government speaks with one voice. Without TPA, the Administration simply is not in the strongest position in its negotiations with our trading partners. That means that any agreement reached cannot be the best agreement obtainable for American workers, farmers, and businesses. The positions that many of our trading partners are taking in the negotiations are unacceptable, demonstrating that the Administration has not yet been able to achieve the necessary market access and rules outcomes to ensure a successful TPP negotiation. We believe that if the Administration were negotiating with the authority of TPA, it would be able to achieve a stronger agreement worthy of Congressional support.

Second, the Administration negotiates trade agreements under a delegation of authority from the Congress. TPA is the process by which Congress gives the Administration that authority and sets out negotiating objectives, strengthening and reinforcing the consultative relationship between Congress and the Administration. Concluding TPP or any major trade agreement without TPA undermines the Constitutional role of Congress over trade policy. Only Administrations that work closely with Congress and make it an equal partner in the negotiations are successful in passing and implementing trade deals.

Because of the critical importance of TPA in ensuring a successful outcome in the TPP negotiations, we will not support TPP if the agreement, even an agreement in principle, is completed before TPA is enacted. Once TPA is enacted, we will have laid the necessary groundwork to bring to conclusion a solid TPP agreement that will pass Congressional muster, and we will work with you to achieve this goal. Congress will not approve a TPP agreement that does not meet the objectives Congress first establishes through TPA. Therefore, TPA is the key to achieving the outcome we all want to see.

We call on the Administration to continue to push our trading partners to improve upon their current offers in the TPP negotiations. At the same time, we call for the entire Administration, including the President, to immediately and fully engage with the House, the Senate, and stakeholders to achieve enactment of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act (H.R. 3830) well before the end of 2014. Progress should continue with our TPP partners even as we work domestically with you and the President now to build support for- and ultimately pass TPA.”

CHINA ANTIDUMPING

CHICKEN

On July 8, 2014, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) announced that as a result of a WTO decision it would lower anti-dumping and countervailing duties on U.S. chicken imports to between 46.6 and 73.8 percent for producers like Tyson Foods Inc. and Butterfield Foods Co.

Under the previous anti-dumping duty orders, MOFCOM levied rates ranging from 50.3 to 53.4 percent for U.S. producers who responded to its investigation, while assigning an “all others” duty rate of 105.4 percent.

As for countervailing duties, MOFCOM said it would lower CVD rates between 4 and 4.2 percent from 4 to 12.5 percent with an “all others” rate of 30.3 percent

The duties were imposed in 2010 and two years later, in August 2013, a WTO panel sided with the US.

Although MOFCOM lowered the rates, the rates will still shut out most US chicken from China. As a result of the MOFCOM decisions on US chicken, U.S. exports of chicken to China have fallen 90 percent over the past four years, costing US chicken exporters an estimated $1 billion after China imposed the high antidumping duties in 2010.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

LOOM KITS

On July 1, 2014 Choon’s Design Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against imports of certain loom kits for creating linked articles against China respondents:. Wangying of China, Yiwu Mengwang Craft & Art Factory of China; Shenzhen Xuncent Technology Co., Ltd of China; Hong Kong Haoguan Plastic Hardware Co., and Itcoolnomore of China.  See the attached ITC notice.  LOOM KITS

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

On June 26, 2014, Orlando Communications filed the attached complaint for patent infringement against Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Huawei Technologies USA, Inc., Huawei Device USA, Inc. and T-Mobile US, Inc.ORLANDO HUAWEI

On July 9, 2014, Charles C. Freeny III, Bryan E. Freeny and James P. Freeny filed the attached complaint for patent infringement against ZTE (USA) Inc.  Freeney ZTE complaint

On July 9, 2014, Charles C. Freeny III, Bryan E. Freeny and James P. Freeny filed the attached complaint against Huawei Device USA, Inc. for patent infringement.  Freeny v Huawei complaint

PRODUCTS LIABILITY–DRYWALL

On July 17, 2014 in the attached Drywall Products liability case, 7-17-14 Taishan contempt In Re: Chinese Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, US Federal Judge Eldon E. Fallon in Louisiana barred a Chinese manufacturer from doing business in the U.S. until it shows up in court to answer questions about its failure to pay a $2.7 million default judgment in multidistrict litigation over defective drywall, holding the company in both civil and criminal contempt.  Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd. must also cover $15,000 in attorneys’ fees for the plaintiffs in the case and pay a $40,000 fine, and should the company defy the injunction, it will get hit with another penalty equaling 25 percent of its annual profits.

As Judge Fallon states in the attached order:

“From 2005 to 2008 a housing boom coincided with the destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to sharply increase the demand for construction materials in the Gulf South and East Coast.  In response, Chinese companies manufactured, and sold to homeowners throughout the United States, considerable quantities of gypsum wallboard which came to be known as “Chinese drywall.” Homeowners experienced problems with the drywall. Specifically, the drywall emits various sulfide gases, damages structural mechanical and plumbing systems of the home, and damages other appliances in the home. The affected parties sued the entities involved in the manufacturing, importing, and installing the Chinese drywall. The cases multiplied and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”), declared the matter an MDL and transferred the cases to this Court. After a period of discovery, it became clear that there were two principal manufacturers, (1) the Knauf Entities, and (2) the Taishan Entities. There are four cases in particular in which Taishan Entities have been served (via international means at the Hague, costing at least $100,000 per service of process).  . . . Defendant. Taishan refused to participate in any of these proceedings.   . . .so such judgment has become final and enforceable.  In order to execute the judgment, Plaintiffs moved for a Judgment Debtor Examination. The Court ordered Taishan to appear in open court on the morning of July 17 . . .Taishan failed to appear . . . has refused to appear in open court for the Examination.

As a consequence of Taishan’s refusal to appear at this Judgement Debtor Examination, in direct, willful violation of this Court’s June 20, 2014 order, the Court holds Taishan in contempt of court, both criminally and civilly. This refusal to appear is a direct contemptuous act occurring in open court after actual notice of the proceedings. Such disobedience of the Court’s order harms both the many other parties in this case and the decorum of the Court. Due to the “affront to the Court’s dignity [that] is[] widely observed,” it is necessary to summarily punish Taishan’s contempt. . . .

In punishing Taishan’s contempt, the Court “has broad discretion in assessing sanctions to protect the sanctity of its decrees and the legal process.” . . . In this massive suit, the harm from Taishan’s noncompliance is high and requires strong sanctions to coerce compliance and restore integrity to these proceedings. . . .

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Taishan, and any of its affiliates or subsidiaries, is hereby ENJOINED from conducting any business in the United States until or unless it participates in this judicial process. If Taishan violates this injunction, it must pay a further penalty of 25% of the profits earned by the company or its affililates who violate the order, for the year of the violation. . . .”

Lead counsel for the plaintiffs vowed to trace the company’s funds through its banks and make sure that the 4,000 homeowners involved in the litigation receive money to remediate their houses, which he said will cost between $200,000 and $300,000 per home. Levin added that the plaintiffs will also go after Taishan’s parent corporations, one of which, CNBM Group, is allegedly controlled by the Chinese government.

COMPLAINTS

On July 15, 2014, Vincent Dondson filed the attached products liability case against Beijing Capital Tire Company, Ltd. and World Wide Distribution Inc.  BEIJING TIRES CASE

CFIUS—CHINESE INVESTMENT IN THE US

On July 15, 2014, the Federal DC Circuit Court of Appeals in the attached Ralls Corp. v. Committee on Foreign Investments (“CFIUS”), RALLS VS CFIUS issued a very surprising decision reversing the Presidential/CFIUS decision to invalidate Ralls and a Chinese company’s attempt to acquire four Oregon wind firms that were close to a US military base on national security grounds.

There is a presumption that Presidential decisions with regard to foreign policy are given deference by the court, so it is unusual for the Court to overturn a Presidential decision, such as this decision by CFIUS. The president was first granted the authority to block proposed deals in the name of national security by the Exon-Florio Amendment in 1988.

The DC Circuit overturned the CFIUS decision on due process procedural grounds:

“In sum, we conclude that the Presidential Order deprived Ralls of constitutionally protected property interests without due process of law. We remand to the district court with instructions that Ralls be provided the requisite process set forth herein, which should include access to the unclassified evidence on which the President relied and an opportunity to respond thereto. . . . Should disputes arise on remand––such as an executive privilege claim––the district court is well-positioned to resolve them.”

Appeal is likely, either through a petition for en banc review or a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The CFIUS review process, however, has been described as a black box into which foreign investors feed information, only to get out a yes or no answer with no way of appealing the decision. The DC Circuit’s decision, however, will require the President and CFIUS at a minimum to explain why the decision was made and grant the company respondent access to the unclassified evidence used to come to that decision and give the company an opportunity to rebut the evidence.

GENERAL LITIGATION–CONTRACT

On July 18, 2014, in the attached complaint Saint Jean Industries Inc. filed a breach of contract case against ZF Chassis Components LLC, ZF Lemforder and ZF Lemforder Shanghai Chassistech Co.  ZF CHASSIS SHANGHAI

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C AND AUO OPTRONICS

On July 8, 2014 the Plaintiffs, US Purchasers of Vitamin C products, filed the attached brief, VITAMIN C PLAINTIFFS BRIEF 2ND CIRCUIT, urging the Second Circuit to reject the arguments in their briefs by the two Chinese companies and the Ministry of Commerce to overturn the $153 million jury award against them over price-fixing claims. Plaintiffs argued that the Chinese companies lack any evidence they were compelled to fix prices by the Chinese government. The purchasers argued that no Chinese law required any alleged co-conspirator to fix prices at high levels for vitamin C imported into the U.S.

As the Brief states:

“Regardless of the proper interpretation of Chinese law in this case, the facts as determined by the jury. . . showed that no entity, governmental or not governmental, acted to compel the conduct at issue here; rather, the jury found Appellants liable for their own voluntary conduct. . . .

The district court afforded deference to statements by the Ministry, and properly determined that Appellants did not meet their burden to prove the Chinese government compelled them to violate the Sherman Act as a matter of law. The jury had an ample evidentiary basis to conclude that the Chinese government did not compel Appellants’ cartel agreements as a factual matter. . . .

NCPG is liable for participating in the price-fixing conspiracy. The district court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over NCPG because NCPG participated in the vitamin C conspiracy targeting the United States. The “effect” of NCPG’s participating in price-fixing meetings in China, which caused buyers in the U.S. to purchase vitamin C at inflated prices, is sufficient to establish minimum contacts with New York. And the district court properly held that Appellees presented sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that NCPG participated in the cartel.

The litigation dates back to 2005 and 2006, when the vitamin C purchasers began accusing Chinese manufacturers and their affiliates of taking part in an illegal cartel to fix prices and limit supply for exports. In March 2013 a jury determined that NCPG and HeBei met with competitors between December 2001 and June 2006 to coordinate pricing in China’s vitamin C industry, awarding the plaintiffs $54.1 million. Judge Cogan later trebled the damages, pushing the companies’ liability to $162.3 million.”

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan refused to throw out the case based on MOFCOM’s argument of the so-called foreign sovereign compulsion defense that the Chinese government compelled the Chinese companies to set the export price.  In MOFCOM’s April brief to the 2nd Circuit, which was posted on my May blog post, the Ministry argued that the District Court’s decision should be thrown out because of the failure to defer to the Chinese government’s interpretation of Chinese law.

In the attached brief, the Plaintiffs responded:

“The Ministry and Appellants ask this Court to find Appellants immune from antitrust liability, despite a trial on the merits, because the Ministry says so. But no matter what level of deference is accorded to the Ministry’s statements concerning Chinese law, under Rule 44.1 this Court must determine itself whether that law provides a defense to claims of damages under the Sherman Act. . . .

The extent of deference sought by the Ministry in this case is breathtaking. The deference is not limited to how a regulation should be read, but seeks to include what factually happened, i.e., whether the Ministry or the Chamber actually exercised any compulsion.

For its current position, the Ministry ignores the contrary positions that the Chinese government has taken with the WTO, namely that in 2002 it gave up “export administration . . . of vitamin C. . . . .

The predicate for application of the act of state doctrine only exists when the suit “requires the Court to declare invalid . . . the official act of a foreign sovereign.” . . . . This Court need not declare invalid any official act of the Chinese government because (as the district court and the jury found) there was no official act of the Chinese government compelling Appellants’ actions. As the district court explained: “Chinese laws themselves were not placed on trial. Rather, the jury was only required to determine whether the Chinese government acted, not the propriety of its actions. . . .

Defendants that engage in antitrust conspiracies that affect a forum state have established the requisite “minimum contacts” for purposes of due process. . . .”

On July 15, 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the attached decision United States v. Hsiung and Au Optronics Corp. (“AUO”), AUO OPTRONICS, affirmed the convictions of all defendants, in a criminal antitrust case that stems from an international conspiracy between Taiwanese and Korean electronics manufacturers to fix prices for Liquid Crystal Display panels known as TFT-LCDs in violation of the Sherman Act. The Court also affirmed the $500 million fine imposed on AUO.

On July 16, 2014, the Plaintiffs argued that the recent 9th Circuit ruling in the AUO case supports their claims in the Vitamin C case against the Chinese companies. In particular, the 9th Circuit’s interpretation of the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act supports their argument that the FTAIA does not bar claims from vitamin C buyers who purchased the product directly for delivery in the U.S.

COMPLAINTS

HONG KONG EXCHANGE

In a series of antitrust cases that have been posted on my blog, companies are suing banks, including the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd, for triple damages under Section 1 and Section 2 of the Sherman act for conspiring to drive up prices of aluminum and zinc through the London Metal Exchange.  On July 8, 2014, the attached new antitrust complaint was filed by Galvanizers Company against the London Metal Exchange and number of other Metal Exchange companies, including the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd.  HONG KONG EXCHANGE

FOX CONN

On July 9, 2014, the attached new antitrust complaint was filed by Joseph Lai dba Ultra Tek against USB-Implementers Forum, Inc, Hon Hia Precision Industry Co., Ltd. and Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., including Foxconn (Kunshan) Computer Connect.  HON HAI FOX CONN ANTITRUST

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

MOFCOM–SHIPPING DISAPPROVAL

As US antitrust cases have been on the rise in the United States, they are also rising in China. On June 17, 2014, in direct contrast to the US and EC, which had approved the merger, China’s Merger Office in the Ministry of Commerce known as MOFCOM blocked a proposed alliance among Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and two of its partners to pool ships used on Eurasian trade routes.

MOFCOM declared that the merger agreement violated China’s anti-monopoly law because it excludes the effect of restricting competition in the European container liner shipping routes services market. As a result, Maersk and its partners agreed to stop work on the merger.

On June 20, 2014, MOFCOM issued the attached announcement,SHIPPING DISAPPROVAL, stating:

“On June 17, Ministry of Commerce announced its disapproval after the anti-monopoly investigation in the concentration of undertakings of Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. and CMA CGM establishing an Internet center. The large-scale collaboration of the three largest shipping companies in the world will bring profound influence to global shipping industry, and attract high attention from all circles. A leading official of Anti-monopoly Bureau of Ministry of Commerce made an explanation about the case.

The official said Ministry of Commerce has no objection to enterprises gaining advantageous market position through its competitiveness. For those enterprises who have already possessed certain market prowess and want to further strengthen the forces and achieve dominant market position through the concentration of undertakings, the impact on market competition should be analyzed seriously. After assessment of related market share, market control, market access and industrial features, Ministry of Commerce believes that after the concentration, the three companies will form a tight combination, and their share of transport capacity of Asia-Europe container liner transportation will reach 47%, with remarkable increase of market concentration.

The official said that during the investigation, Ministry of Commerce stated to the declarer that the concentration of undertakings may have the impact of competition elimination and restriction, and had several consultations on how to reduce the adverse impact of the concentration of undertakings to competition. The declarer submitted several remedy plans. After evaluation, Ministry of Commerce considered that there were no legal basis and convincing evidence to support the remedy plans, and it cannot be proved that the concentration of undertakings has more positive effect than adverse effect or accord with public interests. Therefore, according to the Antimonopoly Law of People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Commerce decided to forbid this concentration of undertakings.”

SED TALKS–CHINESE COMPETITION POLICY

On July 3, 2014, it was reported that US business associations demanded that in the upcoming US-China Strategic & Economic (“S&ED”) talks with China that the US raise the problems US companies are facing with the Chinese anti-monopoly law. The allegation was made that “it has become increasingly clear that the Chinese government has seized on using the AntiMonopoly Law (“AML”) to promote Chinese producer welfare and to advance industrial policies that nurture domestic enterprises.”

On July 12, 2014 at the end of the 6th meeting SED talks, the Treasury Department released the attached fact sheet, TREASURY DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCEMENT, about the outcome. With regards to the Chinese Anti-Monopoly law, the Treasury Department stated:

“Competition Law: In response to concerns of U.S. companies and government officials regarding enforcement of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law, China recognized that the objective of competition policy is to promote consumer welfare and economic efficiency, rather than to promote individual competitors or industries, and that enforcement of its competition law should be fair, objective, transparent, and nondiscriminatory. We are also encouraged by China’s commitment to provide any party under investigation with information about the competition concerns with the conduct or transaction, as well as an effective opportunity to present evidence in its defense.”

SECURITIES

CHINESE COMPANIES STRIKE BACK!—RECENT SECURITIES VICTORY BY DORSEY LAWYERS FOR CHINESE COMPANY

Dorsey lawyers Geoffrey Sant, Kent Schmidt, Bryan McGarry, Ray Liu, and Ted Farris representing Haiting Li and Pacific Bepure had a major victory for Chinese clients.As Mr. Sant states:

“For years, plaintiff law firms in the US have brought a seemingly endless stream of securities lawsuits against Chinese companies that are either listed or traded in the US.

  • In 2010, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 46.8% of all US securities suits against non-US companies
  • In 2011, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 59.6% of all US securities suits against non-US companies
  • In 2012, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 47% of all US securities suits against non-US companies
  • In 2013, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 45.7% of all US securities suits against non-US companies.

Last week, in what appears to be the first instance of its kind ever, a Chinese company sued under the securities laws in the United States not only achieved a dismissal of the lawsuit brought against it, but also obtained damages from the lawyers who sued the company. Specifically, in the attached Great Dynasty International Financial Holdings Ltd. v. Li order, GREAT DYNASTY Sanctions Order, the Court sanctioned the attorneys who brought a $5 million dollar claim against the company (Pacific Bepure), ordering the plaintiffs’ law firm and its lead attorneys to pay all of the legal expenses of the defendant. Past securities lawsuits against Chinese companies have resulted in many settlements and at least one massive $882 million default judgment. But last week’s ruling is the first time that a Chinese company has succeeded in not only dismissing securities litigation against it, but also obtaining payment from the very plaintiffs’ firm that brought the litigation. This may make plaintiff firms more hesitant or careful when bringing lawsuits against Chinese companies. Dorsey & Whitney represents Pacific Bepure, the company that won the sanctions award against the opposing attorneys.

In the Court’s decision sanctioning the plaintiffs’ law firm and attorneys, the Court stated:

  • Page 12-13.  “The Court finds that there is clear and convincing evidence that GDI’s counsel, Ms. Sally W. Mimms and Mr. John F. Kloecker of Locke Lord, LLP (collectively ‘Counsel’), assertion of federal securities law claims, including violation of section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 and section 20(a), on behalf of GDI as well as most Assignor Shareholders, was both reckless and frivolous, and amounted to conduct tantamount to bad faith.”

第12-13页。“本院裁定有明确且令人信服的证据证明高汉的法律顾问即美国洛克律师事务所律师Sally W. Mimms女士和John F. Kloecker先生(统称‘法律顾问’)代表高汉以及大多数转让股东提出的联邦证券法索赔主张(包括违反第10(b)条和规则10b-5及第20(a)条的行为)是鲁莽且无法律事实依据的,等同于恶意的行为。”

  • Page 13.  “Counsel’s conduct was reckless and frivolous because a reasonable and competent inquiry into the law would have revealed that GDI and most Assignor Shareholders could not demonstrate (1) standing to assert federal securities fraud claims or (2) a causal connection between the purchase or sale [of] the PBEP securities in reliance on the alleged misrepresentations, and an economic loss.”

第13页。“法律顾问的行为是鲁莽且无法律事实依据的,因为对法律进行合理且合适的调查后将会发现高汉及大多数转让股东不能证明(1)坚持主张联邦证券欺诈索赔或(2)依赖于被指称的不实陈述的宝飘证券的购买或出售与经济损失之间的因果关系。”

  • Page 14.  “Counsel had all necessary facts in their possession of which to evaluate whether the claims could be asserted; although GDI clearly lacked standing and could not demonstrate a causal connection, Counsel asserted the claims.  Such conduct by Counsel was at the very least reckless and frivolous, because the claims had no basis in fact and Counsel failed to make a reasonable and competent inquiry into the law.”

第14页。“法律顾问拥有所有必要的事实来评估是否能提出诉讼请求;尽管高汉明显没有立场并且不能证明因果关系,法律顾问仍旧提出了诉讼请求。法律顾问的这种行为最起码是鲁莽且无依据的,因为索赔没有事实依据并且法律顾问未能对法律进行合理且合适的调查。”

  • Page 19.  “Here, the Court finds Ms. Mimms, Mr. Kloecker, and Locke Lord LLP jointly and severally liable for Defendants’ attorneys’ fees and costs in connection with litigating the frivolous federal securities fraud claims in both the complaint and the FAC.  Such an award would both vindicate the Court’s judicial authority while also mak[ing] Defendants whole for expenses incurred to defend the frivolous claims.”

第19页。“在此,本院裁定,对于被告在就诉状和FAC中的无依据联邦证券欺诈索赔进行诉讼时产生的律师费,Mimms女士、Kloecker先生和美国洛克律师事务所承担连带责任。此项裁决将维护本院的司法权威并同时使被告承担就无依据索赔进行辩护时产生的全部费用。”

This ruling may encourage some Chinese companies to more vigorously defend themselves, and in appropriate circumstances – such as meritless lawsuits – to fight the lawsuit rather than settle or to default. This, in turn, may cause plaintiff law firms to be less eager to bring lawsuits against Chinese companies.”

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

In the attached June edition of the FCPA Digest, Anti_Corruption_Digest_June2014, Dorsey lawyers report on a corruption investigation involving China stating:

“Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) Investigates GlaxoSmithKline

Further to the April and May Digests which reported GSK investigations in Poland and China, it has been reported that the director of the SFO has opened a criminal investigation into the commercial practices of GlaxoSmithKline plc and its subsidiaries.

The SFO action follows the Chinese police announcement on 14 May that they had charged the former British boss of GSK’s China business and other colleagues with corruption, after an investigation disclosed evidence of a scheme to bribe doctors and hospitals.”

On July 10, 2014, David Richardson and Alesya Tepikina, two Dorsey lawyers, also issued the attached article entitled “Anti-Corruption Campaign in China – Causes of Corruption, and Hope? – Part One,” eu-cm-china-anti-corruption-campaign-brib, about the ongoing bribery and corruption investigations in China. In the Article they state:

” “I have seen corruption boil and bubble Till it o’er-run the stew.” – William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Corruption in the People’s Republic of China (“China”) presents a major administrative and financial burden on businesses operating in China and creates an unfavorable business environment (by undermining the operational efficiency of businesses and raising the costs and risks associated with doing business in China). As noted by some researchers, corruption is so widespread in China that it has become a norm, an unwritten law, and a way of living. Corruption threatens the vitality and international credibility of China’s emerging new economy. Out of 2,700 firms surveyed from November 2011 through March 2013, 19.2% reported that they were expected to give gifts to obtain import licenses, 18.8% said they were expected to give gifts to obtain construction permits, 10.9% reported they were expected to give gifts to tax inspectors and 10.7% said they were expected to give gifts to public officials “to get things done”. Bribery incidence (i.e., a percentage of firms that experienced at least one bribe payment request) was 11.6% and bribery depth (i.e., a percentage of public transactions where a gift or informal payment was requested) was 9.9%.

Since President Xi Jinping announced a crackdown on corruption among government officials in China in November 2012, multiple anti-graft and ant-extravagance regulations have been passed by government agencies at the central and local levels. The regulations allowed the Xi administration to single out officials for punishment, starting at the local level and moving up the ranks of party hierarchy.

This eUpdate is the first part in a series of eUpdates on topics related to the present anti-corruption campaign in China. It focuses on the social practices which allow corruption to thrive in China, and on economic reforms (and a developing legal system) which could reign in such corruption.

Extent of corruption

In 2013, the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (the “Index”), which ranks countries based on the perception of corruption in their public sector, ranked China at 40.6 placing it in the 80th place out of 175 countries surveyed, on a par with Greece. China was ranked less corrupt than El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama, Russia and Peru, but more corrupt than Brazil and more developed countries. Over the past fourteen years, China’s rank remained at the lower range of the Index. For example, in 2008, China was ranked at 3.6 (on a scale of 0 – 10 used by the Index at that time), placing it in the 70th place out of 163 countries surveyed, and in 2000, China was ranked at 3.1, placing it in the 63rd place out of 90 countries surveyed. China historically ranked less corrupt than India, Russia and Venezuela, but more corrupt than Zambia, Colombia, Mexico, Ghana and South Korea.

As elsewhere, power over transactions and wealth in China appears to lead inevitably to corruption and corrupting behavior, or, in the words of Lord Acton, “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. These words seem to apply perfectly to China, where the Communist Party has had a monopolistic power on politics and economics of the country for a prolonged period of time.

In China, as is often the case elsewhere, corruption is also a consequence of deeper stresses and changes. Underlying corruption is a growing tension between new policies and economic realities on the one hand, and traditional values, customs and established political system on the other, in the context of a political and institutional framework poorly-suited to handle such tension.

Understanding the characteristics and reasons underlying corruption in traditional China is crucial to comprehending the nature of the relationship between politics and economics in contemporary China, and to envisioning the future direction of reforms.

As described by some researchers, “post-reform corruption is a complex mixture of universal, transitional socialist and unique Chinese characteristics in its origins, consequences, as well as definitions.”

Definition and characteristics of corruption

One of the most general definitions of corruption, which seems to apply to China as well, describes it as ultimately “the use of public office for private gain”. It is also commonly understood as “behavior which deviates from the formal duties of a public role because of private-regarding (personal, close family, private clique) pecuniary or status gains; or violates rules against the exercise of certain types of private regarding behavior”.

Corruption can be characterized by the following features:

Power exploited for personal gain which includes monetary and non-monetary rewards;

An implicit contract concluded via a specific transaction, i.e. the transference of property rights, which because of its illegality is not subject to any officially legitimized institutional executive or sanctioning instance; and

At least two economic subjects interacting in the above transference of property right; this explicitly excludes the theft or embezzlement of state property as well as influencing of the political process to preserve power.

Guanxi networks

Corruption has deep roots and a long history in China. To understand the phenomenon of corruption as it applies to contemporary China, the historical role of patron-client and instrumental-personal ties in traditional China must first be analyzed.

The spread of corruption in traditional China is often connected to the Confucian concept of renzhi, or “government of the people,” as opposed to “government of law.” Chinese social behavior leading to corruption can be partly understood in terms of the hierarchical roles taught by Confucianism. These roles dictate the obligations an individual has in five cardinal relationships.

Among them is the filial responsibility of son toward father, which is the template for other hierarchical relationships in the system of Confucian ethics, such as that of subject-to-emperor and student-to-teacher. This hierarchical system of ethics was transplanted into the workplace, where it became the basis of a pervasive “organized dependency” of society upon the communist state. It evolved into an unofficial method utilized by workers to secure access to scarce goods and services (e.g., food, housing, or admission to schools) which were selectively distributed by shop officials. As benefits and resources were allocated directly by the planning bureaucracy in factories, workers relied on an informal “natural economy” of personal connections based on the exchange of gifts and favors in order to build privileged interactions with the gatekeepers who controlled them: factory officials.

Traditional Confucian values also emphasize consensus, lasting authority and clearly-defined personal relationships, a unity of state and society, and a socially encompassing moral order. These values led to social and cultural practices based on the extended personal-exchange and patron-client relationships encompassed by the term guanxi, which means interpersonal connections in order to secure favors in personal relations.

 Guanxi networks can be seen as institutions that arose centuries ago to secure trade relations in an environment that was only insufficiently covered by the legal system. An individual was able to expand his radius of economic relations, backed up by guanxi networks, to include various networks each with different resources.

A targeted expansion of an individual’s network to a counterparty which was regarded as useful for the pursuit of common interests could also be achieved by the giving of a gift or service. By accepting the gift or service, the counterparty obligated itself to perform an undefined reciprocal service at an unspecified time in the future. In this way, an implicit contract was concluded the fulfillment of which was linked to the particular network.

Guanxi networks can also be seen as clubs that guarantee their members the enforceability of available property rights in an institutionally disorderly environment, thus lowering transaction costs. To a certain extent, guanxi networks through personal connections and cooperation over a long period acted as a substitute for the market and the legal-institutional environment that supported it. At a later stage, connections served as a coordinating mechanism that allowed for a more efficient allocation of shortage goods than that provided by the fissures and fault lines of the communist economy. “This pattern is the result of structural features common to all communist factories: the workers’ economic dependence on the enterprise; political dependence on party and management; and, most important, the wide discretion of shop officials over promotion, pay, direct distributions, and sociopolitical services”.

Developed over centuries, guanxi networks were strongly anchored in traditional China and had an important function not only on an economic, but also on a political and social, level. They are still a factor in numerous areas in contemporary China, and virtually every Chinese person is connected to at least one guanxi network.  As noted by some researchers, guanxi networks stood in an antagonistic relationship to the Western system of legal rights. In the West, Christianity combined with pre-existing institutions to produce clear jurisdictional lines of top-down personalized authority. In the economic sphere, this led to legal definitions of property and ownership. Chinese institutions, however, rested on relationships and not jurisdictions, on obedience to one’s own roles and not on bureaucratic command structures. “Both jurisdictional principles and the autonomous individuals are historically absent in the Chinese worldview, and thus were not incorporated in Chinese institutions. Instead, Chinese society consists of networks of people whose actions are oriented by normative social relationships.”

Guanxi networks and economic reforms in China

With the advent of the “open-door policy” in China in 1978 and the subsequent reform period, guanxi networks underwent a gradual but substantial transformation from vertical relationships between officials and the rank and file to vertical relationships between officials and business. This change was brought about by the introduction of a market economy that was permitted to run in parallel with the old command economic mode. Following the implementation of the dual-track system, old central-administrative mechanisms were abandoned, often without putting in place new market-oriented substitutes capable of governing the transition. In this new hybrid system, the coexistence of guanxi networks and an emerging product market blurred the limits between regular economic transactions and corruption.

To a certain extent, guanxi networks advanced development of division of labor in the economic process and development in Chinese society over the centuries, and existed as complementary and parallel mechanisms for orderly economic interaction.

In the reform period, organization of economic activities by guanxi networks regained importance. Guanxi networks created governance structures that forced contract-honoring behavior of the transaction partners, analogous to vertical integration solutions.

Guanxi networks thus managed to provide an infrastructure in which the transaction partners could safeguard themselves from the ex post opportunism of one side. For some time, guanxi networks appeared to be an efficient and transaction-cost lowering co-ordination mechanism for regulating transactions in an environment characterized by high institutional uncertainty.

The reforms were aimed at the dissolution of established, central-administrative orderly mechanisms and development of the legal system. However, the first contract law did not take effect until July 1982, four years after the reform period had begun. The law was still strongly bound to the old central administrative system and quickly came into contradiction with subsequent laws and decrees, but was not revised until 1993. A comprehensive contract law only came into effect in October 1999. Even more problematic than this delayed enactment of laws was the poor enforcement of the existing laws mainly due to the administrative interventions and insufficient training of the officials enforcing the law.

The continuing liberalization of the Chinese economy requires a developed legal system which would provide a well framed regulatory and institutional framework for regulating financial and commercial transactions, testing them against principles of anti-corruption and offering legal security at a supra-individual level beyond social relationships. Such legal system would remove uncertainty as to enforcement of contractual rights and would therefore eliminate reliance on guanxi networks to safeguard transactions. However, transaction partners would need to regard such legal system as performing more effectively than guanxi networks before they could view it as preferable for regulating transactions. In addition, as noted by some researchers, pressure by political decision-makers would be required in order for the legal system to displace guanxi networks. Thereafter, as transaction costs for corrupt transactions would increase, guanxi networks would gradually lose importance and ultimately disappear, and incidences of corruption would decline.

TO BE CONTINUED”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On June 16, 2014, Roger Artinoff filed the class action securities case against China Ceramics Co., Ltd., Huang Jia Dong, Su Pei Zhi, Hen Man Edmund, Ding Wei Dong, Paul K. Kelly, Cheng Yan Davis, William L. Stulginsky and Su Wei Feng.  CHINA CERAMICS

On June 20, 2014, Darryl Reitan filed a class action securities case against China Mobile Games & Entertainment Group, Ltd., Ken Jian Xiao, Ying Shuling, Credit Suisse Securities USA LLC, Barclays Capital, Inc., Jeffries LLC, Brean Capital LLC, and Nomura Securities International.  CHINA MOBILE

On June 26, 2014 Sophia Chang filed a class action securities case against China Mobile Games & Entertainment Group, Ltd., Ken Jian Xiao, Ying Shuling, Credit Suisse Securities USA LLC, Barclays Capital, Inc., Jeffries LLC, Brean Capital LLC, and Nomura Securities International.  CHINA MOBILE

On June 30, 2014, Michael H. Resh filed a class action securities case against China Agritech Inc., Yu Chan, Yau-Sing Tang, Gene Michael Bennett, Xiao Rong Teng, Ming Fang Zhu, Lun Zhang Dai, Charles Law, and Zheng Anne Wang. CHINA AGRITECH

On July 2, 2014, Richard Finlayson filed a class action securities case against China Ceramics Co., Ltd, Huang Jia Dong, Su Pei Zhu, Hen Man Edmund, Ding Wei Dong, Paul K. Kelly, Cheng Yan Davis, William L. Stulginsky, Su Wei Feng and Jianwei Liu.  CHINA CERAMICS LIU JIANWEI

On July 8, 2014, the SEC sued Child Van Wagoner & Bradshaw PLLC, a Salt Lake City accounting firm, for a substandard audit of Yuhe International, a Chinese chicken producer, which later admitted it lied to investors, resulting in millions of dollars in investor losses.  See the attached order.  SEC COMPLAINT YUHE AUDIT COMPANY

The SEC alleged that there was no evidence that the auditor made any inquiries concerning Yuhe’s internal policies related to the prevention of illegal acts or fraud, despite the resignation of the prior auditor, the existence of prohibited related party loans, numerous suspect accounting entries, a weak or nonexistent control environment and the use of personal bank accounts for Yuhe payments.

On July 15, 2014, Sungw An Yang filed a class action securities case against China XD Plastics Co., Ltd., Jie Han, and Taylor Zhang.  CHINA PLASTICS

On July 16, 2014, Shawn Tompkins filed a class action securities case against China XD Plastics Co., Ltd., Jie Han, and Taylor Zhang. TOMPKINS CHINA PLASTICS

If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

POLITICS OF CHINA TRADE/COALITIONS, TRADE, 337/IP, PATENTS, CFIUS

Commerce Department After the Snow Pennsylvania Avenue WashingtoPOLITICS OF CHINA TRADE, DEVELOPMENTS–TRADE, 337/IP, PATENTS AND CFIUS

Dear Friends,

There have been many recent important developments in the trade and intellectual property areas, but before getting to the developments, set forth below is the second article in our series on the US Politics of China Trade—the Importance of Coalitions.

If you have any questions about the politics article or the developments listed below, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

THE POLITICS OF CHINA TRADE—IMPORTANCE OF COALITIONS

As previously mentioned, the serious political situation regarding China Trade in Washington DC warrants greater attention so I have asked former Congressmen Don Bonker to author a series of articles on the political situation in Washington DC and what can be done to change the discussion.  Our next article is on the importance of Coalitions of Chinese companies with interested US companies.

The Chinese emperor had a famous saying, “Use a foreigner to deal with a foreigner”  When Americans go to China to do business, they often need a Chinese face, an interface, who can help bridge the gap between Chinese and US language and culture.

Many foreigners believe they do not need the US counterpart because they see the United States as an easy country to understand and do business in, because many foreigners speak English.  But this is a mistake because there are vast differences in the US, especially in its political system.

Under the US Constitution, there are three co-equal branches—the Executive Branch/President and the Administration, Legislative Branch/the Congress and the Judicial Branch/the Courts.  In contrast to China, therefore, political power is more diffuse and not concentrated in any one group.

In China, Governors of Provinces are appointed by the Central Government.  Political power in the United States, however, is even more diffuse because of Federalism.  Under the US Constitution, power not specifically given to the Federal Government, is reserved to the States.  Because of the multiple power bases in the United States, Coalitions with US companies become essential to making the political argument.

A key reason for the US China Trade problems, I believe, is the failure of Chinese companies and even the Chinese government to understand the importance of working with the US importers and end user companies in Coalitions that have common interest in trade and investment disputes.  For many Chinese companies the “go it alone” approach is simply not working.  It does not take into account the political realities that exist in many trade cases.

Simply responding to US Antidumping, Countervailing Duty and other Trade cases is often not sufficient to obtain a favorable result.  Trade cases are not an application process.  This is litigation, fighting with the US industry, and the objective of the US producers in a trade case is to throw the Chinese companies out of the US market.

The same can be said on the investment side of the case.  When Chinese companies attempt to acquire sensitive companies in the US, they are competing, fighting, with US companies for that business, and the US companies will use the investment laws under CFIUS and the political process in the US to change the nature of the debate.

In Trade Cases, although the major target of US trade disputes may appear to be Chinese companies, in reality it is the importer, the first US company that purchases the products, that  is legally liable for antidumping and countervailing duties. In fact, they can be  retroactively liable if the rates go higher in antidumping and countervailing duty review investigations.

This punitive aspect of antidumping and countervailing cases, which are supposed to be remedial statutes, is unfair and needs to be addressed.  Many US importers do not realize that when they import a product from China under an antidumping and/or countervailing duty order, they do not post the antidumping or countervailing duty, but the cash deposit.  If duties go up in subsequent review investigations, the US importers are retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

In one case that I am involved in, Ironing Tables from China, the antidumping rates went from 0 to 157% because Commerce determined in a review investigation that the Chinese company had played with its documents and committed fraud.  This decision exposed the US importers to $25 to $50 million in retroactive liability.  In the Wooden Bedroom Furniture, US importers have been exposed to an estimated $1 billion in retroactive liability.  I have met with a good old boy company in High Point, North Carolina, that had its entire $60 million furniture importing company go up in flames because it imported from China under an antidumping order.

When Chinese companies go it alone, because of potential retroactive liability, US importers vote with their feet and go to third countries.  Thus the US importers are now importing ironing tables from India, and Vietnam has become the largest exporter of wooden bedroom furniture.

When US importers and Chinese companies work together in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, however, the US importer keeps importing because he knows what is going on behind the scenes at the Chinese company.  In my Sebacic Acid case, for example, I had a coalition of Chinese exporters, a US importer and US distributor go on for more than 10 years importing sebacic acid into the United States under an antidumping order because the importer felt it was safe to import.

The point here is that Chinese companies and even the Chinese government need to work with US companies in Coalitions to win trade argument.  Part of these cases is the political argument.

THE POLITICS OF CHINA TRADE—IMPORTANCE OF COALITIONS

By Hon. Don Bonker

The U. S. – China economic relationship, particularly its growing dependence on investment and trade, is being tested as never before.  Both countries have legal mechanisms for dealing with unfair trade practices, to be sure, but there is no guarantee they will be fairly applied.

On the American side, our laws were crafted to protect American companies from foreign competitors who benefited from government subsidies, engaged in dumping activity or otherwise were doing injury to their U. S. counterparts.  No one can take issue with the purpose of such laws.

But they can question the application of the government’s trade laws (whether they are fairly applied) and if the public interest is truly being served.

A Commerce Department and an International Trade Commission (ITC) ruling in an antidumping and countervailing duty case has the appearance of targeting a foreign entity, but its punitive effects are felt by the importing U. S. companies who are liable for the higher tariffs, which can even be applied retroactively plus interest.  The costs, often totally unexpected, can run into the tens of millions, even causing bankruptcies of US companies.

In such cases, the public interest is not being properly served.  Congress needs to address this problem to insure more fairness and balance in the application of U. S. trade laws.  For Chinese companies, they will loose large market shares given that U. S. importers may opt to purchase similar products from Vietnam, India, Brazil and other developing countries.

Meanwhile, Chinese companies and American importers must cooperate to offset the “imbalance” that exists today.  To offset the imbalance, Chinese companies and US importers/end users have to collaborate to counter their American competitors’ political activity that is affecting their businesses and harming our trade relationship.  For Chinese companies it is difficult to engage in lobbying activity because US laws, such as Foreign Agents Registration Act, strictly regulate such a situation.  US companies, however, can and do lobby their Senators and Congressmen recognizing that it is their fundamental right as U. S. citizens.

Despite the ongoing trade cases against Solar Cells and Wind Towers from China, the Obama Administration has made renewable energy a top priority, providing tax credits and other incentives that are contributing to making this a growth industry.

To many American producers they see Chinese imports as a threat given the quality and price of imported products, which they attempt to counter  by establishing coalitions.  The Coalitions share the cost and boost their effectiveness by  retaining lobbying, public relations and law firms so as to give them an advantage before the respective government agencies.

The different firms work together.  The law firm gives legal advice on the various trade and investment cases, and the lobbying/public relations firm gives political advice on how to change the debate in Washington DC.  This collaborative approach is what’s gaining the other side distinct advantages in cases before government agencies.

Here are a few notable examples:

1.         Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM).  A consortium of U. S. domestic producers of conventional solar panels whose central purpose is “to hold China accountable by filing cases before government agencies.”  The Coalition consists of seven domestic producers, led by Solar World, a global company based in Bonn, Germany.  There is also the Solar Energy Industries Association that spent nearly $400,000 to retain lobbying and law firms in support of higher tariffs on Chinese products.

2.         The Wind Tower Trade Coalition (members consist of US Wind Tower Producers).  This Coalition’s mission is to obtain prohibitive tariffs on wind turbines and other products, which is widely reported in the news.  Also the American Wind Industry Association reportedly spent over $600,000 retaining lobbying and law firms.

This is what goes on in the nation’s capitol.  It is about law, economics and politics and how they all come together to influence policy and agency decisions.

As it relates to current trade cases on renewable energy imports, it has been regrettably one-sided. The U. S. producers are politically active and apparently quite effective.  The other side, which includes the US importers and end users, is paying a heavy price for remaining passive and conceding the argument.

There is a common refrain on Capitol Hill that says it best:  “The only thing that keeps decision-makers upright is equal pressure on all sides.”

China’s exporters and their American importers, distributors and end users must be more politically engaged if they expect to keep the US political leaders, Commerce Department officials and even ITC Commissioners and other U. S. officials “upright” to insure more favorable outcomes on cases they are considering. .

Such coalitions, not uncommon in America’s political system, are often necessary to develop greater public awareness and political support when trade cases and other actions are brought before these agencies.  The US importers, distributors and end-users of Chinese-made products with the help of their Chinese suppliers would do well to put together their own coalitions and adopt strategies that will leverage their respective positions, as follows:

•           The Coalition will consist of the affected U. S. companies, including US importers and the affected US down user producers, and adopt a strategy and plan that will demonstrate to the Administration, including the interested government agencies, Congress, and the Media, the public support and economic benefits the imports from China bring to the local economy.

•           Provide information on the economic benefits (and the loss of those benefits) should the imposition of prohibitive tariffs affect the operations of the US companies involved by shutting the Chinese products out of the US market.

•           In the local regions involved, including States and local city and county governments, mobilize public and political support that can be conveyed to Members of Congress and the particular government agencies.

•           In Washington, D. C., engage the Congressmen (representing the regions and serving on important committees) to enlist their support of the Coalition member cases when they appear before the agencies.

•          Develop a media package for distribution on Capitol/ government agencies, and media outlets (local, national, including trade publications); also be proactive on social media to insure the positive matches the negatives on Google and other internet venues.

The purpose is to insure the Coalition members’ cases by educating the public and the Politicians as to the other side of the argument so as to demonstrate strong public and Congressional support when the Department of Commerce and ITC are considering the trade cases.  Taking a collective approach helps to share the cost and be more effective in Washington, D. C.

 

 

DEVELOPMENTS TRADE, 337, PATENT/IP, AND CFIUS

TRADE LAW–GPX CASE

On January 7, 2013, Judge Restani of the Court of International Trade issued her new decision in GPX Tires case, which is attached. 2013 CIT DECISION GPX  In her decision, Judge Restani found the new law passed by Congress making the US Countervailing Duty law retrospectively applicable to China effective November 20, 2006 is Constitutional and did not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of the Constitution.  Judge Restani stated:

“Article I Section 9 of the Constitution provides that “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law shall be passed.” This clause, however, does not prohibit the imposition of all retrospective laws.  Instead, the clause only prohibits the imposition of retrospective penal legislation, which often, though not always, takes the form of criminal law. . . .By contrast, retroactive remedial laws are not prohibited by the clause.”

Judge Restani then determined that since the countervailing duty law is a remedial statute, retrospective laws, such as this provision, are constitutional.  Judge Restani then threw out the other Constitutional arguments against the law.

Judge Restani did raise questions with some of the issues in the Commerce Department’s initial determination and remanded the case back for further clarification from Commerce.

CHINESE TRADE CASES—PULP CASE AGAINST THE UNITED STATES, CANADA AND BRAZIL

There are strong rumors in China that the Chinese government will soon initiate an antidumping case against cellulose pulp from the United States, Canada and Brazil.  If anyone wants more information about the situation, please feel free to contact me.

With the strong rumors of a pulp case against the United States and an ongoing Chinese case against Paperboard, we are starting to see another trade war in the Wood Products, Pulp and Paper Sector.  This war started with the US cases on Coated Paper, Wooden Bedroom Furniture and Wood Flooring and now the Chinese government has reacted with cases on Pulp and Paperboard.  The trade war continues.

SECTION 337 PATENT CASES—DOJ AND USPTO OBJECTIONS TO EXCULSION ORDERS ON STANDARD-ESSENTIAL PATENTS

In contrast to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law, section 337, which deals with violations of intellectual property, in particular, patents, does have a public interest provision.  If the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) determines that imported products infringe a US patent, the ITC can issue an exclusion order to exclude the infringing products at the border.  In deciding whether to issue an exclusion order, the ITC is to take public interest into account, and based on public interest grounds can refuse to issue the exclusion order.

On January 8, 2013, the Department of Justice Antitrust Division and the US Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”), filed a report at the ITC questioning whether the ITC should issue exclusion orders in section 337 cases where the banned imports are found to infringe standard-essential patents (“SEP”).  The DOJ and the USPTO argued that where SEP owners have agreed to license their patents on fair, reasonable and nondiscriminatory terms and the respondents have agreed to those terms, the ITC should not allow the threat of an import ban to result in the extraction of unfairly high royalty rates for these patents.

Recently, antitrust authorities have become focused on how companies whose patent have been incorporated into industry standards should be allowed to enforce their IP and Patents.  Much of the debate has centered on the so-called “FRAND or RAND licensing commitments.”  In the proposal, the DOJ and the USPTO defined these licensing agreements as follows:

“ a patent is RAND- or FRAND-encumbered where a patent holder has voluntarily agreed to license the patent on reasonable and non-discriminatory (RAND) terms or fair, reasonable, and non-discriminatory (FRAND) terms while participating in standards-setting activities at a standards-developing organization (SDO).  In the United States, SDO members may commit to license all of their patents that are essential to the SDO standard on RAND terms.  In other jurisdictions, SDO members may commit to license such patents on FRAND terms.  For the purposes of this letter, F/RAND refers to both types of licensing commitments. Commentators frequently use the terms interchangeably to denote the same substantive type of commitment.”

The report goes on to state:

“Voluntary consensus standards serve the public interest in a variety of ways, from helping protect public health and safety to promoting efficient resource allocation and production by facilitating interoperability among complementary products.  Interoperability standards have paved the way for moving many important innovations into the marketplace, including the complex communications networks and sophisticated mobile computing devices that are hallmarks of the modern age. Indeed, voluntary consensus standards, whether mechanical, electrical, computer-related, or communications-related, have incorporated important technical advances that are fundamental to the interoperability of many of the products on which consumers have come to rely.”

The report then goes on to state:

“A patent owner’s voluntary F/RAND commitments may also affect the appropriate choice of remedy for infringement of a valid and enforceable standards-essential patent.  In some circumstances, the remedy of an injunction or exclusion order may be inconsistent with the public interest. This concern is particularly acute in cases where an exclusion order based on a F/RAND-encumbered patent appears to be incompatible with the terms of a patent holder’s existing F/RAND licensing commitment to an SDO.  A decision maker could conclude that the holder of a F/RAND-encumbered, standards-essential patent had attempted to use an exclusion order to pressure an implementer of a standard to accept more onerous licensing terms than the patent holder would be entitled to receive consistent with the F/RAND commitment—in essence concluding that the patent holder had sought to reclaim some of its enhanced market power over firms that relied on the assurance that F/RAND-encumbered patents included in the standard would be available on reasonable licensing terms under the SDO’s policy.  Such an order may harm competition and consumers by degrading one of the tools SDOs employ to mitigate the threat of such opportunistic actions by the holders of F/RAND-encumbered patents that are essential to their standards.”

“This is not to say that consideration of the public interest factors set out in the statute would always counsel against the issuance of an exclusion order to address infringement of a F/RAND-encumbered, standards-essential patent.  An exclusion order may still be an appropriate remedy in some circumstances, such as where the putative licensee is unable or refuses to take a F/RAND license and is acting outside the scope of the patent holder’s commitment to license on F/RAND terms.”

For further details, read the attached letter and report.  DOJ PROPOSAL ITC PUBLIC STANDARD DOJ PTO LTR

337 ROBOTIC TOY TRADE SECRETS CASE

On January 4, 2013, a 337 complaint was filed on robotic toys at the ITC alleging theft of trade secrets by a Chinese company.

According to the complaint filed by Innovation First International Inc., CVS Pharmacy Inc. is importing a robotic toy fish incorporating trade secrets stolen by a former IFI employee and taken to a Chinese company, Zuru Inc.  See the notice below.

Pending Institution

Docket No: 2930

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Lauren A. Degnan

Firm/Org: Fish & Richardson

Behalf Of: Innovation First, International, Inc., Innovation First, Inc., and Innovation First Labs, Inc.

Date Received: January 4, 2012

Commodity: Robotic Toys

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Acting Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Robotic Toys and Components Thereof . The proposed respondent is CVS Pharmacy Inc., Woonsocket, Rhode Island.

PATENT CASE AGAINST HANGZHOU COMPANY

On January 4, 2013, TP Orthodontics Inc. sued Hangzhou Shinye Orthodontic Products Co. Ltd. and Global Orthodontics LLC in the Federal Court in Illinois for patent infringement for imports of orthodontic brackets, which allegedly infringe TP’s US patent.

CRIMINAL COPYRIGHT CASE AGAINST CHINESE CITIZEN

On January 7, 2013, it was revealed that a Chinese citizen has pled guilty in Delaware federal court to criminal conspiracy charges for operating websites in China through which he sold more than $100 million worth of pirated computer software to buyers around the world.  Attached are copies of the Indictment and the Plea Agreement.  INDICTMENT PLEA AGREEMENT

In June of 2011, a Xiang Li of Sichuan was arrested in Saipan for criminal violations of US copyright laws.  The pirated programs that Xiang Li was selling were sensitive technology.  Mr. Li now faces a possible sentence of 25 years in Federal prison.  Li was lured to a US territory, the Pacific island of Saipan, by undercover agents, where he was arrested.

ANNUAL CFIUS REPORT TO CONGRESS

In the attached December 20, 2012 annual report to Congress, CFIUS REPORT TO CONGRESS the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) states:

“Based on its assessment of transactions identified by CFIUS for purposes of this report, the U.S. Intelligence Community (“USIC”) judges with moderate confidence that there is likely a coordinated strategy among one or more foreign governments or companies to acquire U.S. companies involved in research, development, or production of critical technologies for which the United States is a leading producer. Information supporting this assessment is provided in the classified version of this report. Indications of other coordinated strategies may go unobserved due to limitations on intelligence collection, or may be hidden or misconstrued because of foreign denial and deception activities.”

This finding could affect future transactions from identified companies or governments, which could include China.

If you have any questions about these developments or wish copy of the 337 complaint or other documents, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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