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, Trade Politics, Patents/IP, Antitrust and Securites

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC Reflectio“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER MAY 18, 2015 UPDATE

Dear Friends,

I have been very busy over the last two months on a number of different cases.  Can now turn my attention back to the the blog.  But the recent events on Capitol Hill, especially the vote yesterday in the Senate to block passage of the TPA bill, has pushed me to send out the two lead stories today as an update because they are so timely.

If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY (“TPA”) FIGHT ON CAPITOL HILL

The major trade issue is Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and the Trans Pacific Partnership and there are day to day changes.

After the Democrats in the Senate blocked the TPA bill from coming to the floor by a vote of 52 to 45 on May 12th, the Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) bill was put together with the TPA bill. The other two bills on Customs Enforcement and Africa are to be considered separately and the legislation is moving forward.

Today, May 18th and 19th TPA is being considered by the Senate with a final vote expected on May 19th.  To see fireworks in the Senate, see the following link in CSPAN http://www.c-span.org/video/?326082-1/us-senate-morning-business&live

On May 12, 2015, Democrats in the Senate blocked the TPA bill from coming to the floor by a vote of 52 to 45.  Four bills have been crafted to move together.  They are the TPA bill, Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) for workers and companies bill, Customs Enforcement Bill/‘‘Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015’’ and an African Trade Bill.  Copies of those bills are attachedCUSTOMS AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT BILL TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE BILL TRADE PREFERENCES ACT TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY BILL.

The key problem was the Customs Enforcement Bill because Senators Brown and Portman have put in the bill a specific provision that currency manipulation can be considered a countervailable subsidy.  That is a major problem for Republicans and also President Obama because a currency manipulation bill could be used to retaliate against US Exports because of the Federal Reserve Policy.  Remember Quantitative Easing?  Currency manipulation has not been defined and this is why Treasury Secretary Lew has been so cautious in going after China and other countries.  All trade law is based on reciprocity and what the United States does to one country, the other country can do back.

To see the Republican and Democratic arguments on May 12th on the Trade Bills, see http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4537385/senators-mitch-mcconnell-harry-reid-blocked-trade-promotion-authority-bill.  Also see speech by Senator Hatch at minute 24 at this link http://www.c-span.org/video/?325918-9/senators-mcconnell-reid-wyden-hatch-cornyn-trade-promotion-authority to get a better idea of what is going on.  Senator Hatch described currency manipulation as “a killer amendment” to the TPA.

Negotiations continue.  See Houses Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan’s response today to the Senate Vote that the entire world is watching, including China http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000379026

The key Senators are not the Democrats that are opposed to TPA, but the pro-trade Democrats.  After the TPA bill was blocked in the Senate on May 12th, President Obama met with a group of pro-trade Democrats at the White House in an effort to secure their support.  In addition to Senator Caper from Delaware, that group includes: Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), the senior Democrat on the Finance panel and co-author of fast-track legislation.

Those Senators provided the important additional 9 votes, along with the two missing Republican votes, to push the TPA Bill in the Senate over the filibuster barrier of 60 votes to the finish line.

STEEL TRADE CASES ARE COMING

A number of companies have contacted with questions about potential Steel trade antidumping and countervailing duty cases against various countries with a primary target being China.  In discussions with a number of companies, the major steel targeted products are likely to be imports from China and a number of other countries of cold rolled steel, galvanized steel and possibly hot rolled steel.

On March 26, 2015, the Congressional Steel Caucus held a major hearing on Capitol Hill on the State of the Steel Industry.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFUbn6lnNFM

The announcement for the hearing described it as follows:

Amidst the ongoing market turbulence in our domestic steel industry, the bi-partisan Congressional Steel Caucus will feature testimony from steel industry leaders, including several Pittsburgh-based experts. Earlier this month, U.S. Steel announced that its Keewatin, Minnesota facility would shut down operations as a result of the US market being flooded with low-cost imported foreign steel. Anticipated questions to be discussed include international trade practices, currency valuation; meeting steel market needs.

At the March 26th hearing the large US steel companies urged Congress to take action against “illegal trade practices” threatening the domestic steel industry.  At the Steel Caucus hearing, U.S. Steel President and CEO Mario Longhi and Nucor Corp. Chairman, CEO and President John Ferriola and others stated that the US government has been too easy in confronting foreign companies over unfair trade practices.

Mario Longhi of US Steel stated:

“This nation’s safety, security and prosperity depend upon indigenous capacity to respond to our essential national needs, in peacetime and in times of crisis.  [However], not since the late 1990s have we witnessed the torrent of steel imports. The last time we were at these levels, nearly half of American steel companies disappeared … American steel companies are being irreparably harmed by illegal trade practices.”

Longhi called for revised injury standards in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws arguing that the ITC is too focused on operating profit margins.  At the meeting Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio pledged to help the steel companies through his “The Leveling the Playing Field Act”.

That pledge resulted in the proposed changes to the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty laws in the Customs Enforcement Bill formally entitled ‘‘Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015’’Act presently before Congress.  That Bill is the one that includes the Currency Manipulation provision and will be voted on tomorrow in the Senate.

One provision in that Bill would change the way the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) does its injury investigations.  Specifically the Bill proposes to add an additional provision to the Material Injury provision used by the ITC in antidumping and countervailing duty cases to provide:

“(J) EFFECT OF PROFITABILITY.—The Commission shall not determine that there is no material injury or threat of material injury to an industry in the United States merely because that industry is profitable or because the performance of that industry has recently improved.’’

In talking with one friend at the ITC, he did not believe that the change would have that much impact on an ITC investigation, but the passage of the law will have an impact.

With this much smoke in the air regarding Steel imports, that usually means fire will follow.  I suspect we will see a number of trade cases against steel imports, probably at the end of June or early July.

When looking at Steel Trade problems one should understand that the US Steel Industry has had various amounts of trade protection from steel imports for close to 40 years.  Presently there are outstanding antidumping and countervailing duty orders against the following steel imports from China:  Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bar (“Rebar”), Oil Country Tubular Goods (“OCTG”), Hot Rolled Carbon Steel, Carbon Steel Plate, Carbon Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, Circular Welded Austentic Stainless Pressure Pipe, Steel Threaded Rod, Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand, Seamless Carbon and Alloy Steel Standard, Line, and Pressure Pipe, Grain Oriented Electrical Steel, Non-Oriented Electrical Steel, and Prestressed Concrete Steel Rail Tie Wire.

Against China, it is easy to bring steel trade cases because Commerce does not use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping.  But when actual prices and costs are used against market economy countries, such as Korea, it is a much bigger problem.  Steel companies in market economy countries are expecting trade cases to be filed and have already used computer programs to run their numbers and make sure that they are not dumping.

So with 40 years of protection from steel imports, the question should be asked is Bethlehem Steel alive today?  Do the Trade Cases actually work to save the companies?  I believe that all the trade cases can do is delay the decline of the steel companies, but mess up the market during the mean time.  The real way to save steel companies is through the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program, which focuses at the micro level to help the companies adjust to import competition.

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 19, 2015

SPEECH IN NANJING CHINA ON MARCH 9, 2015

Dear Friends,

On March 9, 2015, I will be giving a speech on US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty law, Solar cases, section 337 IP cases and Trade Politics in Nanjing China through the Jiangsu Professional Connection.  The web link for more details about the speech is as follows https://az199.infusionsoft.com/app/page/north-american-logistics-salon?inf_contact_key=5b5596bbfdd91501d97ab4dc9c6c8f58cc044086f560cb5c8d22a1a83cf36137.

You can also learn more about the speech from Scott Holbrook at scott.holbrook@smolakindustries.com  More details about the speech are set forth below:

When: Monday, March 9th 7:00pm (Pre-speech Drinks), 7:45pm (Anti-Dumping Presentation), 8:45pm (Networking Session)

Where: Secco Restaurant and Lounge, 132 Changhong Lu, Nanjing (PRC)

FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER

On January 11thth, I put up my last post stating that because of its length, I have broken up the post into two parts. This February post includes a Trade, Customs and IP update with longer sections on Antitrust and Securities law. My intent was to have a short Trade and Customs update but there is so much happening in the trade area, especially on Capitol Hill, that there are literally day to day developments. Because of the many developments, it has taken a while to put this post up.

TRADE

SPEECH

On January 21st I gave a speech at the Brooklyn Law School on US China Trade Disputes. Attached is a copy of the PowerPoint for the speech.  BROOKLYN US CHINA TRADE POWERPOINT  Set forth below is a link to Phoenix Television, which covered the speech, http://v.ifeng.com/news/finance/201501/0166aceb-5bc1-48d8-a2f0-109a495aa914.shtml. Phoenix Television has an estimated audience of 300 million people, and broadcasts in the PRC, Hong Kong, US, and other countries where there are Chinese communities. It is the largest private Chinese-language broadcaster in the world. In addition, the China Daily also covered the speech. See http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/world/2015-01/23/content_19386984.htm.

OFFICE PAPER FROM CHINA

On January 21st, a major antidumping and countervailing duty case was filed against Uncoated/ Office Paper from China. Attached are a short form of the petition, International Trade Commission’s Notice of Investigation along with a Wall Street Journal Article quoting me about the new case.   OFFICE PAPER CHINA BRAZIL PETITION FED REG OFFICE PAPER ITC The Next Trade Fight Office Paper – WSJ

TIRES

On January 22nd, Commerce announced its preliminary antidumping determination in the Tires from China case. The Commerce Department Federal Register notice is attached FED REG TIRES AD PRELIM. The antidumping rates are from 19.17 to 36.26% with separate rates companies getting 27.72%. The China wide rate is 87.99%.

The big problem with the Commerce Department’s Preliminary Determination is that except for the mandatory respondents, all the rest of the Chinese companies were hit with critical circumstances exposing US importers to millions of dollars in retroactive liability covering imports going back 90 days prior to the preliminary determination.

The only way to get rid of retroactive liability is to fight the case at the US International Trade Commission in the final injury case. In the Solar Cells case on behalf of three importers I fought critical circumstances at the ITC and was able to eliminate close to $100 million in retroactive liability for US importers. But it took a fight at the ITC to win the case as we won on a 4-2 vote at the ITC. If the Commission had gone 3-3, we would have lost the argument.

In response to the Commerce Department’s determination in the Tires case, the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing (“MOFCOM”) condemned the decision stating that the case has “many flaws.” MOFCOM also stated, “Data shows that the U.S. tire industry is in good shape and gets good profit; imports from China did not cause damage to the domestic industry.”

In response, USW International President Leo W. Gerard stated: “It is the Commerce Department’s statutory duty to neutralize the negative effects of the dumped imports into the United States. Dumped imports have cost thousands of American tire workers their jobs. Left unchecked, the combination of illegal dumping and subsidization on imported tires from China would cost Americans tens of thousands of additional jobs.”

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

On January 21, 2015, in the attached decision, SHENYANG CURTAIN WALLS INSIDE SCOPE in Shenyang Yuanda Aluminum Industry et. Al. vs. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) determined that imports of Chinese curtain wall, sides of buildings, are within the scope and covered by the US antidumping and countervailing duty orders on Aluminum Extrusions from China.

WOOD FLOORING FROM CHINA

On January 9, 2015, the Commerce Department issued its attached preliminary determination, WOOD FLOORING PRELIM FED REG NOTICE, in the Dec 1, 2012 to Nov 30, 2013 antidumping review investigation in Wood Flooring from China. Rates went up ranging from 0 to 58.84% with most companies getting 18.27%, up from 5.74% in the last review. The final determination will come out in six months. If the final determination stays the same and rates go up, US importers will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

To avoid this liability, importers should fight the review at Commerce.

We are presently in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit arguing against the ITC final injury determination. If we can win, this case may go away.

But retroactive liability for US importers is predictable in antidumping cases because of annual review investigations. Since Commerce can switch surrogate countries in annual review investigations, it is only a matter of time before antidumping rates go up and US importers find themselves liable for substantial antidumping duties. Chinese companies cannot know whether they are dumping and US importers cannot know, because no one knows which surrogate country Commerce will pick to value the raw material inputs and other factors of production.

That is why there is now a surge of Wood Flooring imports from Indonesia because of the fear of retroactive liability. This is exactly what we told the International Trade Commission (‘ITC”) would happen in the initial investigation and now it has happened. But the ITC ignored the argument.

It is also why we formed the Import Alliance for America, www.importallianceforamerica.com. See below. We are now attempting to gather importers together to meet with Congressional Trade Staff this month to speak about their problems.

COURT OF APPEALS DECIDES BECAUSE ANTIDUMPING DUTIES ARE REMEDIAL NOT DEDUCTED FROM US PRICE IN ANTIDUMPING CASES

On February 5, 2015, in the attached Apex Exports v. United States, APEX CAFC CASE, the Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit determined that since antidumping duties are remedial, in calculating the US price to determine dumping when either the foreign exporter or an affiliated US importer is the importer of record, Commerce should not deduct the antidumping cash deposits from the US price. This means that if the import sale is structured correctly, foreign producers can reduce their antidumping rates because of the way Commerce calculates antidumping rates.

As the Court stated:

“Commerce considers antidumping duties as distinct from normal selling expenses and customs duties. Normal customs duties have no remedial purpose. . . . Antidumping duties, on the other hand, are special duties that implement a trade remedy. . . .As the CIT has described it, antidumping duties are “an element of a fair and reasonable price,” not an import duty or cost associated with importation. . . . Furthermore, legislative history signals that antidumping duties are special remedial duties, distinct from U.S. import duties. . . . It is therefore reasonable for Commerce not to treat antidumping duties as costs of importation when calculating EP. . . .

What is more, Commerce declines to deduct antidumping margins when calculating the margins because that would be inappropriately circular and result in a double counting of the remedy. In arguing otherwise, Ad Hoc misses the point of the antidumping statute. The goal of imposing the duty is to prevent dumping by effectively raising the price of subject merchandise in the U.S. to the fair value. The importer has less incentive to charge an unfairly low price, because it will have to make up the difference through a duty payment. . . .

Because Commerce’s interpretation of the antidumping statute is a permissible construction, the CIT’s decision to sustain Commerce’s refusal to deduct antidumping duties when calculating export price is affirmed.”

BOLTLESS STEEL SHELVING

On January 26, 2015, in the attached factsheet, CVD factsheet-prc-boltless-steel-shelving-units-cvd-prelim-012615, the Commerce Department announced an affirmative preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) case on Boltless Steel Shelving Units from China.

Commerce found preliminary subsidy rates ranging from 12.21 percent for Ningbo ETDZ Huixing Trade Co., Ltd. to 14.53 percent for Nanjing Topsun Racking Manufacturing Co., Ltd. All other producers/exporters in China have been assigned a preliminary subsidy rate of 13.37 percent. In addition, fourteen companies which did not respond to the quantity and value questionnaire received a preliminary subsidy rate of 55.75 percent, based on adverse facts available.

A preliminary antidumping determination in the case will be issued in about two months from now.

SOLAR PRODUCTS CASE—ITC AFFIRMATIVE INJURY DETERMINATION

On February 4, 2015, in the attached decision, ITC INJURY DETERMINATION PRODUCTS CASE, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) reached an affirmative injury determination in the Solar Products from China case. As a result, antidumping and countervailing duty orders will be issued against all imports of Chinese solar panels with third country solar cells in them.

COMMERCE HAS INITIATED SECOND SOLAR CELLS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS

The Commerce Department notice initiating the attached second Solar Cells review investigation. Commerce has also issued the attached quantity and value questionnaire in the antidumping review investigation, and is due February 19th, right in the middle of Chinese New Year.  prc-qvq-silicon-photovoltaic-cells-ar-ad-020415 SOLAR CELLS INITIATION NOTICE SECOND REVIEW

FALL OUT FROM SOLAR CELLS AND PRODUCTS CASE—VIETNAM CIRCUMVENTION SOLAR FACTORIES FORCED TO CLOSE DOWN

One US Solar Cells/Panel importer has informed me that the situation in Vietnam right now is “crazy”.  US Customs is working with Vietnam customs to inspect “so-called” solar factories and have already closed down a number of them as they were just an address for Chinese companies to get a Certificate of Origin and “cheat” the system by way of transshipment.  The Importer went on to state, “Our factory has been inspected twice already and both times had no issues as they are a legit factory using foreign solar cells.”

Vietnam’s crackdown on transshipment should not be a surprise because Vietnam is part of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.  Part of the negotiations is cracking down on transshipment and preserving country of origin.  This has been a significant topic of the TPP negotiations with Malaysia and apparently Vietnam.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

This is also why the Import Alliance for America is so important for US importers, US end user companies and also Chinese companies. The real targets of antidumping and countervailing duty laws are not Chinese companies. The real targets are US companies, which import products into the United States from China.

As mentioned in prior newsletters, we are working with APCO, a well-known lobbying/government relations firm in Washington DC, on establishing a US importers/end users lobbying coalition to lobby against the expansion of US China Trade War and the antidumping and countervailing duty laws against China for the benefit of US companies.

On September 18, 2013, ten US Importers agreed to form the Import Alliance for America. The objective of the Coalition will be to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.

Recently, the Import Alliance established its own website. See http://www.importallianceforamerica.com.

We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement 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.

We are now in the process of trying to gather importers to meet with various Congressional trade staff as soon as this month to discuss these issues. If you are interested, please contact the Import Alliance through its website or myself directly.

FEBRUARY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On February 2, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, FEBRUARY REVIEWS, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of February. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Certain Preserved Mushrooms, Frozen Warmwater Shrimp, Heavy Forged Hand Tools, Graphite Electrodes, Uncovered Innerspring Units, and Wind Towers. The specific countervailing duty case is Wind Towers.

For those US import companies that imported Mushrooms, Shrimp, Hand Tools, Graphite Electrodes, Innerspring Units and Wind Towers and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period February 1, 2014-January 31, 2015 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

This is a very important month for US importers because administrative reviews determine how much US importers actually owe in Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases. Generally, the US industry will request a review of all Chinese companies. If a Chinese company does not respond in the Commerce Department’s Administrative Review, its antidumping and countervailing duty rate could well go to the highest level and for certain imports the US importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

In my experience, many US importers do not realize the significance of the administrative review investigations. They think the antidumping and countervailing duty case is over because the initial investigation is over. Many importers are blindsided because their Chinese supplier did not respond in the administrative review, and the US importers find themselves liable for millions of dollars in retroactive liability. Recently in the Shrimp from China antidumping case, for example, almost 100 Chinese exporters were denied a separate antidumping rate.

MAGNESIUM

Two US Executives were ordered to pay fines for evading the US antidumping order on magnesium. Gregory Magness, president of Superior Metal Powders Inc., and Eldon Bott, president of Innovative Materials & Solutions Inc., pled guilty to evading antidumping duties in the millions of dollars under the Magnesium antidumping order. Greg Magness was ordered to pay antidumping duties of $287,942 and Eldon Bott was ordered to pay $55,600. The two executives made false statements to the US government to avoid millions of dollars in antidumping duties by smuggling Chinese magnesium, which was later used for $42 million worth of aircraft flares. The two executives circumvented a 305% antidumping duty on Chinese magnesium powder that a U.S. military contractor unknowingly used to produce $42 million worth of flares that draw heat-seeking missiles away from aircraft.

Because both men pled guilty, Magness and Bott will avoid serving any prison time under the terms of their agreements. Under the agreement with Magness, the government has gone after him personally and he agreed to return $100,000 from savings and investment accounts, provided his wife doesn’t assert any claim to the money he agreed to forfeit.

Magness’ son Justin also pled guilty last month to aiding and abetting in the presentation of a false document to customs officers. Two other individuals, Nehill and Wright, are scheduled to be sentenced in June.

WTO DECISION AGAINST COMMERCE IS HAVING A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON NUMEROUS US CVD CASES AGAINST CHINA, INCLUDING THE SOLAR CELLS CASE

At the January 27th Senate Finance Hearing, which is described below, the United States Trade Representative and US Senators celebrated all the victories the United States has had in the WTO against China. I personally heard a US Congressman state “We are winning every case against China in the WTO.”

The statement unfortunately is not true because China is also now winning a lot of cases against the USA. As mentioned in my last newsletter, on December 18, 2014 in the attached United States – Countervailing Duty Measures on Certain Products from China, FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS COMPLETE WTO REPORT, the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) Appellate Body found the United States in violation of the WTO Agreement, specifically the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM), with regards to a number of US countervailing duty cases against China, including the following US countervailing duty investigations against China: Pressure Pipe, Line Pipe, Citric Acid, Lawn Groomers, OCTG, Wire Strand, Magnesia Bricks, Seamless Pipe, Coated Paper, Drill Pipe, Aluminum Extrusions, Steel Cylinders, Wood Flooring, and Solar Cells. On January 16, 2015, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body accepted the December 18th Appellate Body decision.

This WTO decision is now having an impact on numerous past Commerce Department countervailing duty determinations against China, which the WTO has determined are inconsistent with the WTO Agreement. In response, on January 28 and January 29, the Commerce Department initiated investigations under 19 USC 3538, Administrative Actions following WTO Panel Reports, on a number of different products.

As the Commerce Department states in the attached notice on the Solar Cells case, CVD RE INVESTIGATION WTO:

This is to inform you that, pursuant to Section 129 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, 19 USC 3538, the Department of Commerce (Department) is in the process of making a determination not inconsistent with the findings of the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel (the Panel) and Appellate Body (AB) in United States – Countervailing and Anti-dumping Measures on Certain Products from China (WT/DS449). This dispute concerns the final determination in the antidumping duty investigation on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the order published on December 7, 2012.

Several other notices are attached, including Wood Flooring and Coated Paper.  139 Wood Flooring Initiation Letter Coated paper sec 129 inititation letter

As mentioned, in my past post, the WTO faulted the US in its determinations that all state-owned companies, in fact, are the Chinese government and in the Commerce Department’s use of unreasonable all facts available decisions in countervailing duty cases against China.

The WTO Appellate Body also found the US violating the WTO CVD Agreement, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM), for failing to use Chinese benchmark prices to calculate whether there is a benefit in its countervailing duty (CVD) investigations. Specifically, at issue was the Commerce Department practice of refusing to accept private or in-country prices in China as a benchmark to calculate the benefit the Chinese subsidy is providing the Chinese exporter/producer. Commerce had determined that all in-country China prices were distorted by Chinese government intervention and used a presumption. The WTO determined that Commerce must make a case by case investigation and cannot use a presumption.

The first issue faulted by the panel relates to how Commerce determines whether a state-owned enterprise (SOE) is a public body capable of bestowing subsidies within the meaning of the CVD agreement. The U.S. already lost on this issue in an earlier WTO case brought by China. Specifically the WTO Appellate body found a violation of the WTO CVD agreement when the Commerce Department determined that state-owned enterprises are a public body capable of providing subsidies simply because it is government controlled. The Appellate Body determined that the U.S. instead has to demonstrate that the SOE is performing a “government function” or has “government authority.”

The panel also faulted the U.S. for initiating the investigations based solely on the existence of export restraints in two CVD proceedings, and for not considering the appropriate factors in determining whether a subsidy was de facto specific in 12 CVD proceedings.

Commerce is complying with the WTO decision by initiating “Section 129” proceedings, in which Commerce would review the CVD determinations and perhaps alter the margins in order to take into account the Appellate Body findings. But Commerce will probably follow past procedures and simply change its decisions slightly to accommodate the WTO decision.

It should be noted that the Commerce Department’s approach to WTO decisions is mirrored by the Chinese government’s approach to WTO decisions. Many US Senators and Congressmen are very upset about the Chinese government’s reaction to the adverse WTO antidumping determination against the Chinese government’s antidumping determination on Chicken from the United States. In reality, China is simply following the Commerce Department’s approach in these cases. Never give in and just make small changes to policy in response to WTO decisions.

All WTO law is based on reciprocity and what goes around does indeed come around.

UNITED STATES RESPONDS WITH OWN WTO SUBSIDIES CASE AGAINST CHINA

On February 11, 2015, the United States responded with its own WTO complaint against Chinese export subsidies. USTR Michael Froman announced that a new WTO complaint has been filed in the WTO against Chinese export subsidy program, which has supplied export $1 billion in export subsidies to industries ranging from agriculture to medical devices. Specifically targeted is China’s “Demonstration Bases-Common Service Platform” export subsidy regime, under which the Chinese government allegedly Supplies free and discounted services to 179 so-called demonstration bases across seven industries. Those sectors are textiles and apparel, advanced materials and metals, light industry, specialty chemicals, medical devices, hardware and building materials and agriculture.

TRADE POLITICS AND TRADE AGREEMENTS

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

TPA MOVES FORWARD QUICKLY WITH CHANGES ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS

As mentioned in past newsletters, 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. The TPP is a free trade agreement being negotiated by officials from the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues become a focal point in Congress and certain Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

This has been a problem because the protectionism is coming from the Democratic side of the aisle. Democratic Senators and Congressmen are supported by labor unions. Although Democratic Congressmen have expressed interest in the TPP, to date, President Obama cannot get one Democratic Congressman in the House of Representatives to openly co-sponsor 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 elections as soft on trade.

As mentioned in prior blog posts, on January 29, 2014, the day after President Obama pushed the TPA in his State of the Union speech in Congress, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid stated that the TPA bill would not be introduced on the Senate Floor.

But then came the November 4th Republican wave election changing Trade Politics dramatically in Washington DC. Elections have consequences and in 2015 Republicans have taken the Senate and increased their numbers in House.

To summarize, on January 9, 2014, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, which is posted on my blog in the January 2014 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 July 17, 2014 all Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to USTR Froman, which is posted on my blog, 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.

On November 4th, the Republican Wave Election took place.

Now the story continues . . . .

On January 8, 2015, Republican leaders in the Senate and the House began to build the case for Trade Promotion Authority. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, stated that talks have been underway for some time and that the trade area is a critical area in which the Republican majority and President Obama can find common ground.

As McConnell stated,

“We’re in active discussion on … trade promotion authority. It’s an enormous grant of power, obviously, from a Republican Congress to a Democratic president, but that’s how much we believe in trade as an important part of America’s economy.”

Neither McConnell nor Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, however, could offer a specific timetable for the legislation to be introduced as members are still working on the details. McConnell went on to state,

“We think this is an area where we can make progress, and you can look for us to act on TPA. I can’t give you the exact timing right now, or if I could, I probably wouldn’t yet.”

The President has increased his push for TPA renewal and McConnell stated he was happy that the president had become a “born-again free trader,” but stressed that Obama would have to deal with resistance from Democratic trade opponents if he is to be taken seriously in his decision to reinstate TPA. As McConnell further stated:

“The big challenge for the president is going to be to get his own members to give him the authority to negotiate this deal and to send it up to us. He’s going to have to stand up to the AFL-CIO, he’s going to have to stand up to the political left and his party and help us do something important for the American people in the middle, the moderate center.”

On January 12, 2015, USTR responded to criticism that the negotiations have been too secret by stating the White House has taken “unprecedented” steps to promote transparency. The USTR released a fact sheet that detailed efforts it said the administration has made to encourage public conversation and to cooperate with the newly Republican-controlled Congress to pass the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The USTR stated,

“We are always looking for new ways to engage the public and to seek views that will help inform and guide our trade policy, and enhancing transparency will remain a priority, consistent with the ability to deliver on our ultimate mission, which is to deliver agreements that achieve the maximum possible benefit for the American people. That’s our focus.”

The USTR maintained that it will release the full text of the TPP “well before” it is signed in order to invite further comment.

The fact sheet said the White House has provided the current negotiating texts to any interested members of Congress and has held more than 1,600 congressional briefings on the TPP alone. The USTR also said Congress has been informed “every step of the way,” and that Congressional committees have been able to preview every proposal before they’re brought to the negotiating table.

On January 13, 2015 several small government conservative organizations, including Americans for Limited Government and Tea Party Patriots, in an open letter to Congress argued that Congress should refuse to give President Obama the authority to submit trade agreements for votes on an expedited track, because such a process was against good government.

As the letter stated,

“President Obama has seized power time and again, and Congress has effectively thrown up its hands in despair. Denying him Fast Track Authority sends a clear message that enough is enough. It tells this President that Congress will stand up for itself as a co-equal branch of government and engage in a thorough and complete examination of any agreements that he signs.”

“In light of this President’s disregard for Congressional prerogatives, it would be inexcusable for Congress to provide this President with any additional power. Given the fact that the TPP has largely been negotiated in secret with only the administration’s multinational stakeholder partners involved, it is Congress’ duty to examine every jot and note to ensure that American interests are protected.”

On January 20, 2015, in a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, Senator Orrin Hatch, new Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, stated that he would move “carefully but quickly” to introduce a bill that will reinstate the process for swiftly approving trade agreements, calling on the White House to engage with lawmakers in order to facilitate its ambitious trade agenda. Senator Hatch said that he is continuing his effort to work on the bill in close coordination with the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. As Senator Hatch stated:

“My plan … is to move carefully but quickly to introduce and mark up a TPA bill. I’m currently working with Ranking Member Wyden and Chairman Ryan to see if there are improvements that might be made to TPA so that we can introduce a bipartisan, bicameral bill in this Congress that we can move in short order.”

But Senator Hatch went on to state:

“If President Obama can be more forward-leaning with members of his party — starting with tonight’s State of the Union address — I believe we can get this done quickly. That is what I am committed to do.”

Following his statement, on the night of January 20th, in the only part of the State of the Union address in which Republican lawmakers clapped and Democrats were silent, President Obama pushed for passage of Trade Promotion Authority stating:

“We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free but are also fair. It’s the right thing to do.”

“I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. But 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities.”

In response, several Democratic members in Congress vowed to fight the Trade Agreements. Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, stating, “It surrenders the Congressional authority that we may need to protect American workers and American consumers.” Representative Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat, stated “We are going to fight this tooth and nail, and I believe we are going to win.”

But Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, stated prior to the State of the Union that fast track “can pass” in the House. He also praised prior trade deals as “good for our country and our workers.”

Even before the State of the Union had finished, opponents began issuing statements that night. The Communications Workers of America said it supports many of Obama’s initiatives but wouldn’t stand with him “to send more U.S. jobs offshore.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka agreed with Obama’s initiatives on taxes and wages, but added “our opposition to fast-track trade deals that are giant giveaways to big corporations must be resolute” and do not tackle so-called 21st-century trade problems, such as foreign currency manipulation.

The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and 42 other environmental came out against fast-track approval process in a letter sent out to Congress stating that lawmakers and the general public should have a more active role in the negotiations:

“U.S. involvement in trade negotiations should be guided by democracy, transparency, political accountability and must lead to a ‘race to the top’ that provides real protections for communities, workers and the environment. A new model of trade that delivers benefits for most Americans, promotes broadly shared prosperity, and safeguards the environment and public health is possible.”

Both Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Orrin Hatch, however, welcomed Obama’s decision to push TPA, with Hatch putting the burden squarely on the President’s Democrats to ensure the process moves smoothly, stating,

“Democrats in Congress can now either work with the President and Republicans to pass TPA and empower our country to compete, or they can throw up more roadblocks and cast uncertainty on our country’s trade agenda.”

On January 23, 2015, Sander Levin, ranking Democratic Congressman on the House Ways and Means Committee, took aim at Japan in the TPP, stating:

“Japan imports one American car for every 100 Japanese cars imported into the United States each year. The TPP agreement should eliminate tariffs and other charges by a date certain on virtually all products exported by the United States that decrease market opportunities for United States exports.”

On January 27, 2015, the House Ways and Means Committee held a full hearing on US Trade Policy with testimony by USTR Michael Froman. In his Opening Statement, which will be attached to my blog, Ways and Means Chairman Republican Paul Ryan stated in part:

“Expanding American trade is going to be one of our top priorities this year. And the reason why is pretty simple. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside the United States. I can think of few better ways to grow our economy than to grow our customer base. I believe Americans can compete with anybody, if given a fair chance. That’s why we have to break down barriers to our exports by completing trade agreements.

“Right now, there are several trade deals in the works—all of them very promising. We’re negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership with our friends in Asia, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with our friends in Europe, the Trade in Services Agreement with countries around the world, and several agreements through the World Trade Organization.

“And if done well, all of them would help create jobs and expand opportunity. And all of them would help shape the kind of economy we leave for our kids.

The fact is, if we don’t write the rules of the global economy, other countries will. They already are. Other countries, like China, are putting in place new trade agreements among themselves. So it’s a simple as this: If we’re not moving forward, we’re falling behind.

“And look at the record. If you add up all the countries that don’t have agreements with us, we run a manufacturing trade deficit. And if you add up all the countries that do have agreements with us, we run a surplus.

“So I think it’s pretty clear: Trade—and trade agreements—are good for our country. We need more of both. And the first thing we need to do to get there is pass trade promotion authority.

“Here’s the issue: When the United States sits down at the negotiating table, everybody at that table has to trust us. They have to know the deal the administration wants is the deal Congress wants—because if our trading partners don’t trust the administration—if they think it will make commitments that Congress will undo later—they won’t make concessions. Why run the risk for no reason?

“On the other hand, once our trading partners know we’re trustworthy—once they can see we’re negotiating in good faith—they’ll be more willing to make concessions. That’s why we have to pass this bill before negotiations are complete.

To get the best deal possible, we have to be in the best position possible. We can’t be negotiating with ourselves. We have to maintain a united front.

“Now, I’m not saying to maximize our leverage we have to maximize the administration’s power. I’d no sooner trust this administration with more power than I’d trust the Patriots with the footballs at Lambeau. What I’m saying is this bill would maximize Congress’s power.

“Let me explain. Nothing stops a president from negotiating a deal without instructions from Congress. So, if we waited till after the negotiations are done to make our views known—if we simply reacted to what the administration put in front of us—we might scuttle the whole deal. That means we have to get involved before the deal is done, not after it’s finished. We have to be proactive, not reactive.

“That’s what TPA does. We call this process ‘trade promotion authority.’ But I think of it more as a contract. We say to the administration, if you want this up-or-down vote, you have to meet three requirements: Number one, you have to listen to us. Number two, you have to talk to us. And number three, you have to remember: we get the final say

“First, TPA lays out all our negotiating objectives for our trade deals. In short, we tell the administration what targets to hit. It’s got to do things like eliminate barriers to our exports, protect our intellectual property, and eliminate unnecessary regulatory barriers in other countries.

“Second, TPA requires the administration to consult with Congress. Any member can meet with our trade representative’s office at any time. Any member can read the text. Any member can attend the negotiations. It’s like a TPA hotline.

“And third, just to avoid any confusion, we put it right in the bill text: Congress gets the final say. If a trade deal requires any changes in our laws, Congress must approve them.

And if the administration violates any of these requirements, we can say, ‘No deal.’ If it doesn’t cooperate, it doesn’t get the up-or-down vote.

“We simply can’t get the best deals without TPA, and that’s why we’ve got to pass it as soon as possible.

“So TPA is front and center, but there are several other measures we must take to help the economy. . . .

“Finally, Congressman Brady has done solid work on the Customs Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act. The bill would help streamline our customs procedures and enforce our trade laws. And Congressman Boustany has tackled the problem of trade remedy evasion in a creative and effective way. We’ve got to get this legislation across the finish line. . . .

At the January 27th hearing, in a statement, which will be attached to my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, USTR Michael Froman stated in part:

The Obama Administration’s economic agenda of creating jobs, promoting growth, and strengthening America’s middle class is supported by the work we do at USTR: opening markets and leveling the playing field to ensure that American workers, farmers, ranchers; manufacturers and service providers; innovators, creators, investors and businesses – both large and small – can compete in the world’s fastest growing markets.

Building on Record Breaking U.S. Exports

In 2014, USTR built on record-breaking exports, market opening initiatives, intensive engagement, and trade enforcement to achieve strong results for America’s economy. The data is compelling: Unemployment has dipped to 5.6 percent and we are creating more than 200,000 jobs per month. Those jobs include a gain of 786,000 new manufacturing jobs over the last five years. Manufacturing exports have grown by 9 percent a year on average. Our total exports have grown by nearly 50 percent and contributed nearly one-third of our economic growth since the second quarter of 2009. In 2013, the most recent year on record, American exports reached a record high of $2.3 trillion and supported a record-breaking 11.3 million jobs.

It’s clear, more exports means more good jobs and more jobs are dependent upon exports than ever before. That’s why we’ve worked hard to open more markets to Made-In-America goods and services, agricultural products, innovation, and investment. In the last four years, the increase in U.S. exports has supported 1.6 million more good jobs, which typically pay 13-18 percent more on average than jobs not related to exports.

Done right, trade policy unlocks opportunities for Americans. Done right, trade policy promotes not only our interests, but also our values. And it gives us the tools to make sure others play by the same rules as we do. The United States is an open economy and our borders are already open to trade. But other countries still erect real barriers to our exports. . . .

But we know that the status quo is not an option to compete in the global economy. And we know that our workers are competing against workers in countries that lack even the most basic labor rights. Our businesses are competing against companies that get subsidies from their governments or that don’t have to maintain any environmental standards. If we sit on the sidelines, we will be faced with a race to the bottom in global trade instead of continuing to promote a race to the top. That’s not how we want to compete. As the President said last week, we should be the ones to engage and lead. We want to take the field, establish the rules of the game that reflect our interests and our values, and do so with all the tools we need to win.

Our trade agreements will support American jobs by boosting Made in America exports from our businesses, farms, and factories. In fact, for every $1 billion we export, between 5,400 and 5,900 jobs are supported here at home. By opening rapidly expanding markets with millions of new middle-class consumers in parts of the globe like the Asia-Pacific, our trade agreements will help our businesses and workers access overseas markets, where 95 percent of the world’s consumers and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power reside. Combined with our supply of energy, highly skilled work force, and culture of innovation, our trade agreements will help once again make America the global production platform of choice. . . .

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) . . . .

In 2014, we significantly advanced negotiation of the TPP, a state-of-the-art trade agreement that will guarantee expanded U.S. access to the rapidly growing economies in the Asia Pacific. Together with the 11 other TPP countries, we have made important progress in the market access negotiations for agricultural products, industrial goods, services and investment, and government procurement. We have also made substantial progress on ambitious, high-standard trade rules that will promote U.S. commercial interests and values in the region, in such areas as intellectual property, digital trade, competition with State-owned enterprises, and labor and environmental protections. The Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that TPP will add $123.5 billion to U.S. exports each year when it is fully implemented.

We continue to make progress in closing gaps related to autos, agriculture, and other market access issues in our bilateral negotiations with Japan. Japan agreed upfront to provide the longest staging of any TPP products for U.S. autos and truck tariffs, and we continue to work with Japan to address the long-standing barriers to American autos in the Japanese market. We will continue to closely consult with our auto workers and industry as the negotiations proceed in order to get the best deal possible for them. In agriculture, we continue to work hard to dismantle high tariffs, restrictive quotas, and complex administrative policies to create new opportunities for U.S. producers.

At the TPP Leaders meeting in November convened by President Obama, all 12 countries took note of the progress that has been made on TPP, and agreed that the end of the negotiation is now coming into focus. And the TPP countries reaffirmed their commitment to concluding a comprehensive, high-standard agreement, and to work toward finalizing the TPP agreement as soon as possible. . . .

Manufacturing

In 2013, the United States exported nearly $1.4 trillion in manufactured goods, which accounted for 87 percent of all U.S. goods exports and 61 percent of U.S. total exports. Here too, we expect that 2014 was a record year. In 2015, the Obama Administration will continue to pursue trade policies aimed at supporting the growth of manufacturing and associated high-quality jobs here at home and maintaining American manufacturers’ competitive edge. U.S. manufacturing is vital to our economy and the Obama Administration is committed to making sure that the United States is competitive in attracting businesses to locate here. This is why we support a dynamic manufacturing sector and research and development policies to support broad-based innovation and advanced manufacturing that will help U.S. workers and firms win the future. As American manufacturers increase their capacity to produce more advanced and value-added goods, consumers around the world continue to place a high value on Made-in-America products. Across our trade negotiations, we aim to create rules that ensure state-owned enterprises (SOEs) do not compete unfairly with private firms, and seek to ensure that rules of origin and global supply chain provisions create conditions for manufacturers to locate here in the United States.

Innovation, Intellectual Property, and the Digital Economy

America’s economic growth and competitiveness depend on its capacity to innovate. Our trade agreements, including TPP and T-TIP, promote strong and balanced IP protection and enforcement while opening markets for U.S. produced IP-intensive goods and services. . . .

We will continue to support a free and open Internet that encourages the flow of information across the digital world. We know that the impact of digital trade is enormous, and thus that a supportive trade framework is critical for its continued expansion. Therefore, among the other twenty-first century issues we are addressing, we are modernizing our trade agenda to promote growth in the digital economy in particular. We will continue to work closely with Congress and all our stakeholders on a wide range of trade issues related to the protection and enforcement of copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and other forms of IP. We will also work to push back against efforts by our trading partners to improperly use geographical indications to limit the ability of our farmers and exporters to use common food names and trademarks for their products.

The theft of U.S. intellectual property puts American jobs at risk and generates counterfeit products that can pose a threat to the health and safety of consumers around the world. We utilize our annual “Special 301” Report to identify and resolve IP concerns with many trading partners. . . .

Enforcement Tools Utilized to Protect U.S. Trade Rights Around the World

As we work to open markets around the world, we are simultaneously working to hold our trading partners accountable for their commitments under existing agreements so that American workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers get the full benefit of all the economic opportunities the United States has negotiated over the years. From day one, the Obama Administration has shown an unwavering commitment to enforce our trade rights around the world. Within existing resources, we have undertaken a bold and ambitious trade enforcement agenda reflected in the scale, scope, and systemic importance of our disputes. And for every part of our economy, USTR is fighting on their behalf – from American auto workers to farmers to high-tech manufacturers that need rare earth metals to American service providers.

WTO Enforcement

USTR is building upon significant WTO victories for the United States as we move forward with a robust monitoring and enforcement agenda in 2015. We continue to build on our strong success with major victories in several WTO disputes. In June, the WTO found that China had breached WTO rules by imposing on American cars and SUVs unjustified extra duties, which were assessed on over $5 billion of U.S. auto exports in 2013. In August, the WTO found that China again breached WTO rules by imposing duties and quotas on exports of rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum, which discriminate against U.S. manufacturers of hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy-efficient lighting, steel, advanced electronics, automobiles, and more. . . .

For the 18 WTO complaints filed since 2009, every single case that has been decided has resulted in a win for the United States. And when you consider those victories I just mentioned – the range of trading partners, the types of trade barriers, and value and diversity of exports involved – the power of robust trade enforcement becomes clear. We’re absolutely committed to ensuring American workers get all the benefits of U.S. trade agreements because we’ve seen that trade, done right, supports high-quality, middle class American jobs.

Enforcement of U.S. Free Trade Agreements

The Administration also continued to vigorously monitor our FTA partners’ implementation of their obligations under Congressionally-approved FTAs. . . .

<Deepening our Trade and Investment Partnerships Around the World

The Administration continues to work to deepen our trade relationships around the world. This includes engagement with China, India, Burma, Sub-Saharan Africa and other regions to address concerns with our bilateral trading partners.

China

On China, the Administration made progress on a wide range of issues, including protection and enforcement of trade secrets and other intellectual property rights, as well as SOEs, investment, services, global drug supply chain integrity, and transparency at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in July. These engagements yielded concrete changes which support jobs and exports from the United States. We also made significant progress on key issues like transparency and a level playing field in competition law enforcement, agricultural biotechnology, the protection and enforcement of trade secrets, and technology localization at the 25th Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade held in December. There was further progress in the pharmaceutical sector at the JCCT, where China agreed to streamline its approval processes for pharmaceutical and medical devices. We also intensified our negotiations toward a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with China and expect to initiate the critical “negative list” market access negotiations in early 2015. . . .

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)

Let me build upon the President’s remarks on trade at the State of the Union. As the President made clear last week, the Administration is committed to securing bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority. America has always been strongest when it speaks with one voice, and that’s exactly what Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, helps us do. TPA puts Congress in the driver’s seat to define U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements. It clarifies and strengthens public and Congressional oversight by requiring consultations and transparency throughout the negotiating process. It makes clear to our trading partners that the Administration and Congress are on the same page negotiating high standards in our trade agreements. There is no other area of policy that reflects closer coordination between the Executive branch and Congress than trade policy. And in return, I can promise you that we’ll continue working hard to strike balanced agreements that benefit our workers, employers, our environment and the economy at large. . . .

The Administration looks forward to continue working with this Committee and the new Congress as a whole to secure TPA that has bipartisan support. We also look forward to renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which helps provide American workers with the skills to compete in the 21st century. . . .

Promoting Increased Engagement and Transparency in Negotiations

As we work to open markets to support more American jobs, an important part of that work is keeping the public, Congress, and a diverse array of stakeholders engaged and informed. We believe that public participation, Congressional input, and an open national debate enhance trade policy. And to ensure these agreements are balanced, we seek a diversity of voices in America’s trade policy.

The Administration has taken unprecedented steps to increase transparency. Those steps have resulted in more public dialogue and outreach on trade agreements like TPP and T-TIP than on any other free trade agreements in history. This includes the more than 1,600 consultations we’ve had on TPP alone. We have provided access to the current negotiating texts of both agreements to Members of Congress. We have previewed every new U.S. proposal with the Committees of jurisdiction before tabling them in both negotiations. And we have briefed interested Members of Congress before and after every negotiating round—seeking feedback at every stage of the game.

The Administration has also engaged with the public around its trade agenda in new ways. We have held public hearings soliciting the public’s input on the negotiations and suspended negotiating rounds to host first-of-a-kind stakeholder events so that the public can provide our negotiators with direct feedback on the negotiations. We have also shared information on the current status of the negotiations through an array of tools on our website.

We are always looking for new ways to engage the public and welcome input, including from your committee, which will help inform and guide our trade policy. Enhancing transparency will remain a priority, consistent with the ability to deliver on our ultimate mission, which is to deliver agreements that achieve the maximum possible benefit for the American people.

Conclusion

The Obama Administration’s trade agenda is focused on expanding opportunities to export more Made-in-America products, support jobs at home, and create economic growth by opening overseas markets and leveling the playing field for American workers, farmers, and businesses. In doing so, we will continue to advocate for strong, enforceable rules that promote core U.S. values and interests, including protection of U.S. creativity and innovation, access to medicines, fundamental labor rights, and robust environmental commitments. We can only accomplish these shared goals and priorities through strong bipartisan cooperation between Congress and the Administration. We look forward to working with you to ensure our trade policy creates opportunities for all Americans. . . .

In response to USTR Froman’s comments, the Democrats reacted. With regard to transparency, Ranking Democratic Congressman Levin welcomed the attempts to open up the talks for Congressional input, saying more must be done on that front. Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas echoed this point arguing that even though members of Congress are allowed to view trade negotiating texts, they are not allowed to take notes or share the documents with certain members of their staff.

As Congressman Doggett stated,

“There is a big difference between quantity and quality on transparency. That is not practicing transparency — it’s practicing secrecy. I can’t find a legal basis for that type of restrictive environment, and I would just urge you to take immediate steps to change it.”

On the same day January 27, 2015, after the Ways and Means hearing USTR Froman spoke to the Senate Finance Committee stating that the TPP talks are coming to completion, but would offer no time table. To see the hearing, follow the following link http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=5ef11836-5056-a032-5292-dc24774c7fe1.

To make the video work, slide the bar to minute 16 when the hearing begins.

In his opening statement, which will be attached to my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, stated in part:

Thank you Ambassador Froman, for being here today. I have to say that the trade agenda is looking up since the last time you testified.

Things seem to be improving with our ongoing trade negotiations. For example, while significant gaps remain, the administration seems to be inching ever closer toward a conclusion of a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Morale at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, after a long period of decline, is beginning to rise. Of course, there is still a lot to be done. And, renewal of Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, is at the top of my list. But, even in that regard, things seem to be looking up.

Compared with this time last year, the administration is much more engaged at all levels in making the case for renewal of TPA. President Obama’s strong call for TPA in the State of the Union was welcome, though, in my opinion, it was long overdue. I hope that he’ll follow his latest call to action with a real concerted effort to help us get TPA through Congress.

Here in the Finance Committee, we’re doing all we can to help in this effort.

Although the bill I introduced last year with Chairmen Camp and Baucus received broad support, I am currently working with Senator Wyden to see if there is a way to address some additional issues he has raised. We’re working with Chairman Ryan as well.

While there may be some improvements we can make to the bill, I want to make one thing clear: The time for TPA is now.

TPA is how Congress tells the administration and our negotiating partners what a trade agreement must contain to be successfully enacted into law. And, TPA empowers our negotiators to get the best deal possible for American workers.

To succeed in getting TPA renewed, we will need an all-out effort by the administration to make the case for why TPA is so vital to our nation’s ability to fairly engage in international trade and to enhance the health of our economy.

Simply put, trade means jobs. Today 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. These potential customers account for 92 percent of global economic growth and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power. To maintain a healthy economy, we need the opportunity to sell American products in those markets.

Right now, the United States is engaged in some of the most ambitious trade negotiations in our nation’s history. The first, which I already mentioned, is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

Renewal of TPA is key to the success of this agreement. Without TPA, the administration will not be able bring back the high-standard agreement Congress needs to ensure its enactment.

Let me be clear here: It would be a grave mistake for the administration to close TPP before Congress enacts TPA. Doing so may lead to doubt as to whether the U.S. could have gotten a better agreement, ultimately eroding support for TPP and jeopardizing its prospects for passage in Congress.

There are also some key outstanding issues that need to be resolved in TPP. As I have stated in the past, my support for TPA by no means ensures that I will support just any version of TPP that happens to be submitted to Congress for approval.

For me, the agreement must achieve a very high standard for the protection of intellectual property, including twelve years of data protection for biologics, and strong copyright and trademark protections. The intellectual property provisions of TPP must also effectively address the theft of trade secrets and ensure effective implementation and enforcement of IP obligations. Provisions to enhance digital trade and address state-owned enterprises are also critical, as is real market access for U.S. exports. …

Ambassador Froman, all of this represents a very ambitious agenda for your office and for the administration as a whole. But, if I haven’t been clear up to now, let me restate: TPA must be considered an essential element for all of these endeavors.

I believe Congressional renewal of TPA will unleash new energy in our international trade agenda, helping to propel our economy to greater growth and prosperity. History shows that trade agreements concluded with TPA in place create new economic opportunities and higher-paying American jobs.

This year we truly are at the precipice of opportunity. The only question is whether both parties in Congress and the Administration can work together to put in place the necessary tools to seize this opportunity. I certainly think we can, and I will do everything in my power as Chairman of this committee to ensure our mutual success.

In his opening statement, Ranking Democratic Member of the Senate Finance Committee Senator Wyden of Oregon stated,

My bottom line on how the U.S. can improve its trade policy is this:

Today’s global economy moves at a million miles an hour, so clinging to yesterday’s outdated trade policies is a loser for the millions of middle-class American workers counting on political leadership to help create more high-skill, high-wage, middle-class jobs.

Trade agreements need to bulldoze barriers and open new markets to exports made by America’s middle class – the things we grow or raise, build or forge. Done right, trade agreements can help grow the paychecks of middle-class families. That will help take our economic recovery from a walk to a sprint.

According to a report by the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, many export-driven jobs – from precision welding to engineering design – offer higher pay and more generous benefits than jobs that aren’t tied to exports. Workers who design and build products like machinery, electrical gear or transportation equipment get into the winners’ circle when the goods they make are exported. The goal of trade agreements should be to take the fruits of American labor and ship them to markets around the world.

With that said, it’s easy to understand why many American workers are frustrated when they haven’t gotten a meaningful raise in decades – or worse, they’ve lost jobs and fallen out of the middle class. When discouraged Americans argue that they’ve been hurt by trade, their voices should not be ignored. They must be heard. Those who favor a trade agenda that takes on the challenges of a hyper-competitive global economy have a responsibility to make the case that it will work for America’s middle class.

I bring that up because the President said during the State of the Union address that, “…past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype.”

So, Ambassador Froman, I’d like you to outline today how the administration plans to change that with fresh trade policies that will lift wages, help create middle-class jobs, and expand the winner’s circle.

I hope to discuss what safeguards will be in place to ensure that any workers impacted by trade have access to retraining, health coverage, and other sources of support that connect them with new opportunities. And perhaps most importantly, I hope to hear how the administration will make the case to America’s workers that these modern policies will deliver for them.

To keep my remarks brief, there are a few specific issue I’ll address.

The first is tough enforcement. There has never been a greater need for the U.S. to back its workers and businesses by strongly enforcing our trade laws and agreements. And in the face of unfair schemes by foreign governments and companies that undercut American jobs and exports, trade enforcement works.

Just ask any one of the hundreds of Oregonians who work at SolarWorld, a solar-panel manufacturer in my home state. When Chinese companies made an end-run around our trade laws that threatened SolarWorld and its employees, SolarWorld fought back and won. That victory preserved 900 good Oregon jobs. And American trade enforcers have to keep at it, because China and other governments won’t stop trying to get around the rules anytime soon.

With 21st century trade agreements, tough enforcement also needs to hold foreign governments accountable for commitments to uphold strong labor rights and environmental protections. Those are bedrock elements of trade agreements, and they are not to be ignored or pushed to the periphery.

The second issue to address is technology. Just as containers changed trade in the 20th century, the Internet is changing trade in the 21st, enabling more efficient ways to exchange goods and services internationally. . . . The nation’s trade policies must take advantage of economic areas where there is clearly “Advantage USA.” That means promoting and protecting a free and open Internet — keeping open what is, in effect, the shipping lane of the 21st century.

The third issue to address today is transparency. The American people have made it very clear that they will not accept secretly-written agreements that don’t see the light of day until the very last minute. That was too often the way things worked in the past, but that’s not good enough anymore. Nor is it enough to respond to important questions with the same inadequate refrain: that Americans will benefit from trade deals. People have the right to know what’s at stake in negotiations before they wrap up. Our trade policies are stronger when the American people are part of the debate – and when their elected representatives in Congress are able to conduct effective oversight.

Furthermore, transparency is also critical for a trade promotion authority bill. Once a bill is ready, it must be available to the public. And there must be a fair and open process for its review and consideration. I will work with Chairman Hatch to develop a process along these lines.

No matter where members of this committee stand, I know everyone here is ready to have a serious debate on how to make trade policy work best. My focus will be on finding new opportunities to sell red, white and blue American goods overseas, helping businesses create jobs, and growing the paychecks for middle-class families. I’m eager to find ways for this committee to work on a bipartisan basis with the administration to accomplish those goals.

USTR Froman repeated his remarks before the House Ways and Means Committee earlier that day. Froman further stated that “the contours of a final agreement are coming into focus” and vowed to correct the failures of past trade deals in areas such as labor, environment and state-owned enterprise rules. Froman pledged to be as open as possible stating:

“As we move ahead, we’re committed to providing maximum transparency consistent with our ability to negotiate the best agreements possible. We look forward to working with this committee and others in Congress to determine the best way to achieve that goal.”

Froman added that his office expects to make the text of the TPP public after it is signed and before it goes to Capitol Hill for a vote but cautioned that the U.S. was consulting with other parties in the agreement on possible areas of sensitivity.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. argued against TPP because of currency manipulation:

“I can’t support a TPP agreement if we do not at the same time enact new statutory law that includes objective criteria to define and enforce against currency manipulation. I will not support moving this trade agreement forward if we’re not fighting to make sure we have the necessary tools to protect the American middle class and American jobs.”

During the question and answer, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) stated that the administration needs to step up its arguments to Democrats, in particular, to get TPA cleared by the Senate stating, in part,

“[I] if we are going to get trade promotion authority passed, [the president is] going to have to work the telephones one-on-one with some senators to get us to the 60-vote threshold,” to avoid a filibuster.

With regard to currency manipulation, Froman stated that “Currency is a great concern to us,” but went on to state that the Treasury Department takes the lead on the issue. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said she was not seeing any indication that currency issues would addressed in TPA or TPP, commenting that this was a serious problem.

Stabenow also questioned Froman on a press report asserting that the U.S. was dropping a request to lower standards on auto imports to Japan in exchange for Japan agreeing to more rice imports from the U.S. Characterizing the report as “categorically wrong,” Froman said both auto and agriculture negotiations with Japan were continuing “on parallel tracks.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) stated that Canada’s dairy market was not sufficiently opened as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement and many of the tariff rates on dairy products range from 200 percent to 295 percent. Canada’s dairy policies are a priority, Froman said. The U.S. is engaged with Canada on a whole range of outstanding issues, “and they know that this is very important to us, and we’re working towards hopefully a successful conclusion there.”

After the hearings on Capitol Hill, on January 27th, US Pork producers came out in support of Trade Promotion Authority. In a mass letter to members of Congress, the National Pork Producers Council said that TPA is vital to their industry stating,

“Significant progress has been made with respect to Japan’s market access offer on pork, thanks to the hard work of U.S. trade officials and the strong support of the U.S. Congress.”

The pork producers said that since the passage of the U.S.-Canada free trade agreement in 1989, their exports increased 1,550 percent in value — and they credited TPA for enabling such a boost.

On January 28th at closed door remarks at the House Democratic retreat, President Obama strongly hinted that there would be no currency manipulation language in the TPP according to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). President Obama stated that there would be no currency chapter, stating that this issue was under the Treasury Department’s authority.

Obama’s opening remarks to the caucus did not mention trade, but during a question-and-answer session, Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) asked Obama how to make the case for trade agreements to skeptical constituents. Kilmer’s question was the first one the president took.

In response, the President largely reiterated the arguments he has previously made in favor of trade agreements, including that the U.S. needs to sets the rules for trade or China will do so. Sources stated that he did not explicitly mention Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or urge House Democrats to support it.

The president said he recognized that previous trade deals were “not perfect,” and conceded that no new trade agreement will fix all of the real challenges that arise from globalization and past trade agreements, according to a source who attended the session. It was in this context that Obama raised currency manipulation as one challenge that cannot be fixed through TPP, another source said.

On January 29th, the House Ways and Means Committee sent out the following e-mail, which will be attached to my blog, stating in part that newspapers around the Country are calling on Congress to enact TPA.

WAYS AND MEANS JANUARY 29, 2015 . . . .

As Republicans and Democrats work to put in place bipartisan trade promotion authority, editorial boards from coast to coast are rallying behind the effort. Trade Promotion Authority—or TPA—empowers Congress to set the negotiating objectives when pursing trade agreements with other countries and helps the United States get the best deal possible. Here’s a sampling of what newspapers have had to say about TPA:

Wisconsin State Journal: Congress needs to pass trade promotion authority’

“Free-trade zones across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans would lower tariffs and smooth commerce for all while encouraging higher environmental and labor standards. Past trade agreements ‘haven’t always lived up to the hype,’ Obama acknowledged. But ‘95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders.

We can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities.’ No, we can’t — especially in a top manufacturing and dairy state such as Wisconsin, where research and technology are strong.”

San Francisco Chronicle: ‘California will be a winner if Congress blesses a Pacific trade treaty’

“Global trade is an enormous chunk of California’s present and future. It needs to be nurtured, improved and given rules and treaty agreements to protect this thriving financial lifeline.”

The Seattle Times: ‘Congress should enact trade-promotion authority’

“Congress must not delay in approving TPA. [It] would have substantial and lasting effects on the state’s and nation’s economies.”

Washington Post: ‘The Trans-Pacific Partnership can help the U.S. counter China’s expansion’

“Both economically and geopolitically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would perpetuate the United States’ stabilizing role in Asia; it is one of the Obama administration’s brightest ideas. All that’s left now is for both the president and Republican leaders in Congress to keep their promises and make it happen.”

Houston Chronicle: ‘Expansion of international trade agreements would mean a whole lot of good for the U.S.’

“President Obama and the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate can demonstrate that they are capable of agreement on important issues that will result in good jobs and more exports for farmers and the manufacturing, service and tech sectors.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune: ‘More trade means more Minnesota jobs’

“Rising exports mean more jobs. Minnesota has the natural and human resources to compete at the highest global level, meaning that state workers can benefit from expanded free trade.”

Chicago Tribune: ‘TPA is essential for overcoming the inevitable fight against vested interests’

“TPA empowers Congress to establish negotiating objectives, and enhances its ability to set priorities. The U.S. is legally bound to a trade agreement only if Congress votes to approve it. TPA, which has been essential to reaching trade deals since the 1930s, has proven to be fully consistent with the Constitution and supportive of U.S. sovereignty.”

On January 30, 2015, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch stated that the new legislation reviving the administration’s trade negotiating authority will closely resemble a bill he introduced last year, touting the need for strict rules on intellectual property, currency manipulation, and other areas. Senator Hatch declared the U.S. trade agenda to be “at the precipice of opportunity.” Hatch further stated,

“The U.S. needs to lead on trade. We need to establish rules that hold other nations accountable for their unfair trade practices. And we need to tear down barriers that block our goods from foreign markets. We can only do that if we renew TPA and do so soon.”

Hatch declined to give a hard and fast timeline for the bill, saying only that he was working with Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to settle certain differences and introduce the legislation “in short order.”

“We need to see commitments from our partners in ongoing trade negotiations to avoid manipulating exchange rates to gain an unfair competitive advantage over other parties to the agreement, a standard reflecting commitments parties have made in the International Monetary Fund. It is essential that Congress know how the administration intends to address his problem in ongoing negotiations.”

On February 3, 2015, USTR Froman pushed state-level agricultural officials stating that their support will be critical to ensure swift movement of the White House’s robust trade agenda, touting the benefits of the administration’s two biggest negotiating efforts for U.S. food producers. Froman stated,

“We need you to remind farmers and ranchers in your states that trade agreements are how we can level the playing field for our workers, farmers, and businesses and protect America’s competitiveness for the next generation. We need you to remind them how important exports are to more good jobs here in the U.S.”

Froman again claimed that the shape of a final TPP deal is “coming into focus” and that the U.S. is looking to chip away at large tariffs on poultry, beef and pork in countries like Canada, Australia, Japan and Vietnam.

On February 5, 2015, at the Senate Finance Committee, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew stated that the Obama administration is not prepared to insert a section into future trade agreements to stop currency manipulation, stating that such a confrontational move might undermine its ongoing efforts to tackle the issue diplomatically. Facing pressure from numerous members of the Senate Finance Committee, Lew said the administration had been successful in pushing back against currency manipulation in its bilateral engagements with countries like China, adding that punitive language in trade deals could stop that progress.

As Secretary Lew stated,

“I think the challenge in the context of a trade agreement is how to address the issue in a way that helps and doesn’t hurt. I would be concerned that the effectiveness we have dealing through the existing channel could be diminished in some ways, if some approaches were taken.”

“When we push back, there is a response where we’ve, I think, been quite successful pushing back on even the hint of interventions that have those characteristics in a time that we’ve been here.”

An odd situation is arising in the US Congress where liberal Democrats and Tea Party Republicans are working together to stop TPA. An alliance between Tea Party Republican Congressmen Louie Gohmert and Dana Rohrabacher, two of the more conservative members, and two strong liberal Democratic Congresswomen, Rosa DeLauro and Louise Slaughter is emerging. The Tea Party Republicans object to giving such trade negotiating authority to the President, and the liberal Democrats are objecting to the impact of any trade agreement on US jobs and labor unions.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Tea Party Republican, stated, “This president has tried to rule by dictate in a number of arenas. He’s issued executive orders in a way that is totally out of sync with what executive orders are supposed to be about. A lot of people think this president has been much more aggressive in centralizing power.”

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro echoed the statement by the Tea Party Republican,

“We have trusted and trusted for years and years, and it’s only been to the detriment of American workers. Members of Congress are fed up with this. The trust factor, whether it’s Barack Obama or anyone else, is not there any longer.”

As the New York Times observed in a February 10, 2015 article,

The White House understands that trade promotion authority will be a tough sell with Democrats. Instead, the president’s strongest supporters include two men he has frequently battled: the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.

The Times goes on to state:

But even as most liberal Democrats have become disenchanted with the trade agenda advocated by a variety of American business interests, it is the erosion of support in the rank-and-file right that has Mr. Obama sweating the most. In 2002, the last time Congress approved such authority, the House passed it by a bare majority, 215 to 212, with 190 Republicans carrying the load, and only 27 Democrats coming along for the ride.

That was for George W. Bush. This time, Mr. Boehner, prominent committee chairmen like Mr. Ryan and an alliance of business and agricultural groups are going to have to persuade dozens of conservatives to confer power on a president they say has seized too much authority already. Tea Party groups are already flexing their muscle with Republicans they helped elect, pressuring them to oppose anything that strengthens Mr. Obama’s hand and, they argue, weakens United States sovereignty over economic policy.

As the Times Article further states, although the Administration and the pro-trade Coalition stated that the have the numbers to pass trade promotion authority:

they have work to do. About 150 of the House’s 188 Democrats have already signed on to letters opposing fast track, an ominous figure for the president, since Mr. Boehner said last Congress he would need as many as 50 Democratic votes.

In 2013, 22 House Republicans signed on to their own opposition letter, of which 17 remain in Congress.

On February 12, 2015 the House Ways and Means Committee issued the following e-mail release on Currency Manipulation opposing the implementation of a bill to unilaterally hit countries on Currency Manipulation:

FEBRUARY 12, 2015

Currency Manipulation: Finding the Right Solution

There is great unease today about currency manipulation abroad—and rightfully so. Some countries—particularly China—have distorted exchange rates to gain an advantage in the world market, hurting American exports by making their goods cheaper and ours more expensive.

It’s a legitimate problem that deserves a real response. The United States holds the world’s reserve currency. We have a unique ability to pressure countries to stop the manipulation, and we must do more. That’s why Trade Promotion Authority legislation (TPA) raises fighting manipulation to a primary negotiating objective and provides the administration more tools to tackle the practice.

At the same time, some in Congress have called for a more confrontational approach.

Opposed by the administration and many in Congress, including Chairman Ryan, this counterproductive tactic would trigger higher tariffs on any country believed to be manipulating its currency, either through unilateral U.S. action or through a mechanism in trade agreements. While possibly appealing on its face, this approach presents significant problems. It could:

Lead to a tariff war that will increase barriers to trade and cost jobs;

If the United States begins unilaterally levying tariffs, our trading partners will no doubt do the same, leading to a dangerous cycle that would undermine the very purpose of trade agreements—to break down barriers—and, more importantly, hurt American competitiveness and jobs.

Capture the wrong culprit and put the U.S. at risk of manipulation charges;

There is no clear definition of currency manipulation or simple calculation for it, and trying to legislate such a complex matter poses the risk of triggering a trade war in response to innocent currency movements. At the same time, it would not be difficult for other nations to assert the U.S.’s monetary policy is intended to tilt the playing field.

<Risk putting the U.S. in violation of international obligations and out of WTO

compliance;

Pursuing a unilateral approach would likely cause the United States to be a target for retaliation by countries like China, harming our businesses and their employees.

Make the U.S. vulnerable to lawsuits and jeopardize our ability to set our own

monetary policy;

Even pursuing provisions in trade agreements that would allow us to increase tariffs on manipulators would expose us to litigation, whether justified or not, when countries challenge our monetary policy. And even if the United States ultimately prevails, litigation would distract from broader efforts to address currency manipulation and shield real currency manipulators.

Threaten the U.S. dollar’s standing as the world’s leading currency;

The United States has become the holder of the world’s reserve currency not by accident or by any law, but rather through strength and steadiness. And the status provides the U.S. immeasurable benefits. Maintaining stability and pursuing currency grievances through multinational forums are critical to protecting this valued position we hold in the world.

Derail the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its potential benefits to the U.S.;

Creating mechanisms to increase tariffs through trade agreements because of currency policy would no doubt cause nations with which we are currently negotiating a significant trade agreement to rethink whether the United States is a viable trading partner, causing them to pull out of these negotiations. Missing out on a good TPP agreement would be a critical blow to America’s credibility and an enormous missed opportunity to create good jobs.

And, for all the downside, it probably wouldn’t work.

With all the damage such an approach would do to the United States and our standing in the world, it provides no real incentive for bad actors to change behavior. What’s more, monetary and domestic fiscal policy have much greater impact on the value of a currency than would the type of market interventions targeted by this proposal.

So what is the right solution?

For starters, let’s put in place multinational rules that have proven to yield results. The G-7, G-20, and IMF efforts have had success in limiting attempts to manipulate currency and in some cases outright stopped market interventions. For example, as a result of commitments taken by the G-7, Japan has not intervened in foreign currency markets in an effort to lower the value of the yen in the last three years.

But we can—and must—do more. That’s why TPA legislation would make fighting currency manipulation a primary negotiating objective for all trade agreements. In addition, TPA provides the administration with tools such as “cooperative mechanisms, enforceable rules, reporting, monitoring, transparency, or other means, as appropriate” to address currency manipulation. It is incumbent upon the administration to continue pursuing efforts to rein in the practice, and Congress must continue to press for better results.

Finally, another important step we can take is put in place more trade agreements. A more interconnected global marketplace will have even less tolerance for manipulation. And as Chairman Ryan has said, “If we don’t write the rules of the global economy, somebody else will—somebody who may not have our best interests at heart. And if we don’t like the way the global economy works, then we have to get out there and change it.”

That’s why enacting trade legislation like TPA with a thoughtful approach toward currency manipulation is so critical. Currency manipulation is a legitimate threat, but our response must be one that advances, rather than undermines, our trade agenda and our economy.

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSITANCE PROGRAM—REAUTHORIZATION

As stated in my last blog posts, I have made the case for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Firms/Companies, which is presently funded at $16 million nationwide.

At the end of 2014, because of the efforts of Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressmen Adam Smith, Derek Kilmer and Sander Levin in the House, the TAA for Firms/Companies program was reauthorized in the Cromnibus Bill, which went through the Senate and the House and was signed into law by President Obama. Although Senator Brown advocated that the assistance for US companies in the TAA for Firms program be increased to $50 million, in fact, the program was cut from 16 million to $12.5M.

Recently we have learned although President Obama preaches a good game, the Commerce Department has proposed reducing trade adjustment assistance for companies to $10 million. This very small amount is to help all companies nation- wide hurt by imports?? Yet, if we can save the companies, we save the jobs that go with those companies

According to the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Agency’s 4th annual report, 882 trade-impacted firms have received assistance through TAA for Firms (TAAF) in 2013. These firms employed over 76,000 workers at the time of their entry into TAAF and at least one firm was located in 48 of the 50 states throughout the country.

As Democratic Congressmen stated in a December 8, 2014 letter to Speaker Boehner and Minority leader Nancy Pelosi:

TAAF is another critical component of this program that effectively assists U.S. companies impacted by imports remain competitive. TAAF offers a matching fund for outside expertise to help companies adjust their business models allowing them to regain their competitive advantage in the marketplace. The program makes it possible for companies to avoid layoffs, or, where layoffs have occurred, to rehire workers as the companies regain their competitive footholds. In the most recent report by the Department of Commerce on T AAF, it is reported that all the U.S. companies that were beneficiaries in 2011 were still in business in 2013.

TAA is a critical part of our nation’s competitiveness strategy in the face of a rapidly evolving world economy and its reauthorization enjoys bipartisan support. Congressional leadership and action to reauthorize TAA is needed to stop the termination of an effective program that helps American workers and firms compete, innovate, strengthen, and diversify America’s economy. We must do all we can to save jobs by helping firms readjust and workers regain their edge and competitiveness in the global marketplace.”

As the TPP, TTIP and other trade agreements come into force changing the US market by government action with the force of a government tsunami, TAA for firms/companies is the only program that will give companies the tools they need to adjust to increased trade/import competition from so many different countries.

US APPROVES TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT

In addition to Hong Kong, on January 23, 2015 the US government officially ratified the WTO trade facilitation agreement. The TFA is expected to cut Customs red tape at ports around the World. Experts have estimated that the TFA could add billions to the World economy.

CHINA ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST US

On January 28, 2015, the Chinese government reported that it has three outstanding antidumping and countervailing duty orders against the United States: Grain Oriented Flat-rolled Electrical Steel, Broiler (Chicken) Products; and Solar-grade Polysilicon.

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

On September 3, 2014, I spoke in Vancouver Canada on the US Sanctions against Russia, which are substantial, at an event sponsored by Deloitte Tax Law and the Canadian, Eurasian and Russian Business Association (“CERBA”). Attached to my blog are copies of the powerpoint or the speech and a description of our Russian/Ukrainian/Latvian Trade Practice for US importers and exporters. In addition, the blog describes the various sanctions in effect against Russia.

Pursuant to the OFAC regulations, U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting transactions, dealings, or business with Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDNs). The blocked persons list can be found at http://sdnsearch.ofac.treas.gov/. See also: www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/programs/pages/ukraine.aspx . The list includes the Russian company, United Shipbuilding, and a number of Russian Banks, including Bank Rossiya, SMP Bank, Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank OAO, Russian Agricultural Bank, VEB, and VTB Bank. The “Sectoral Sanctions Identification List” (the “SSI List”) that identifies specific Russian persons and entities covered by these sectoral sanctions can be found at www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/pages/ssi_list.aspx.

The sanctions will eventually increase more with the Congressional passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which is attached to my blog, which President Obama signed into law on December 19, 2014. Although the law provides for additional sanctions if warranted, at the time of the signing, the White House stated:

“At this time, the Administration does not intend to impose sanctions under this law, but the Act gives the Administration additional authorities that could be utilized, if circumstances warranted.”

The law provides additional military and economic assistance to Ukraine. According to the White House, instead of pursuing further sanctions under the law, the administration plans to continue collaborating with its allies to respond to developments in Ukraine and adjust its sanctions based on Russia’s actions. Apparently the Administration wants its sanctions to parallel those of the EU. As President Obama stated:

“We again call on Russia to end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, cease support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, and implement the obligations it signed up to under the Minsk agreements.”

Russia, however responded in defiance with President Putin blasting the sanctions and a December 20th Russian ministry statement spoke of possible retaliation.

One day after signing this bill into law, the President issued an Executive Order “Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions with Respect to the Crimea Region of Ukraine” (the “Crimea-related Executive Order”). President Obama described the new sanctions in a letter issued by the White House as blocking:

New investments by U.S. persons in the Crimea region of Ukraine

Importation of goods, services, or technology into the United States from the Crimea region of Ukraine

Exportation, re-exportation, sale, or supply of goods, services, or technology from the United States or by a U.S. person to the Crimea region of Ukraine

The facilitation of any such transactions.

The Crimea-related Executive Order also contains a complicated asset-blocking feature. Pursuant to this order, property and interests in property of any person may be blocked if determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, that the person is operating in Crimea or involved in other activity in Crimea.

The EU has also issued sanctions prohibiting imports of goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol, and providing financing or financial assistance, as well as insurance and reinsurance related to the import of such goods. In addition, the EU is blocking all foreign investment in Crimea or Sevastopol.

Thus any US, Canadian or EU party involved in commercial dealings with parties in Crimea or Sevastopol must undertake substantial due diligence to make sure that no regulations in the US or EU are being violated.

On December 22, 2014, Russian oil giant Rosneft NK OAO on Monday dropped its bid to buy Morgan Stanley’s oil-trading and storage business, citing an “objective impossibility” of gaining regulatory clearance amid tense international relations in the wake of ongoing sanctions against Moscow.

On January 26th, Adam Szubin, the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, a top US Treasury official, stated that more targeted sanctions could be coming against Russia as the violence in eastern Ukraine escalates.

On February 9th, Chancellor Merkel met with President Obama and the decision was to leave the sanctions in place. On February 11th, Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia are expected to have talks in Belarus in an attempt to establish a peace agreement in the Ukraine.

MADE IN USA—NORDTROM AND LAND’S END BOTH HAVE PROBLEMS

On January 27, 2015, a California Federal Judge denied Nordstrom’s motion for an interlocutory review of a proposed class action accusing them of falsely marketing jeans as “made in the USA.” California has a much stricter “Made in USA” law than the Federal FTC law or any law in the rest of the United States.

On the same day, Land’s End moved to end a proposed class action case in California alleging that the clothing retailer inflated prices on its clothes by labeling foreign-made apparel as produced in the USA.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

SUPREMA ORAL ARGUMENT

On February 5, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held an oral argument in the Suprema case to determine whether section 337 can be used to bar imports that induce patent infringement. It was reported that the CAFC judges appear split on whether “articles of infringement” in section 337 refers only to the imported items themselves, and not how they will be used upon sale in the U.S.

Plaintiff argued that Articles of infringement mean only imports that infringe the patent at the time of entry into the US and the imports did not infringe the patent at time of entry.

The ITC lawyer argued that the Commission must analyze the patent as a whole in determining which items infringe. The ITC lawyer stated;

“The invention is the process.” Isolating the items from their ultimate use is “not how [patent cases] are adjudicated.”

NEW 337 CASE AGAINST CHINA

On February 9, 2015, a new 337 complaint was filed by Andreas Electronics Corp on Audio Processing Hardware and Software and Products against Acer Inc., Taiwan; Acer America Corp., San Jose, CA; ASUSTEK Computer Inc., Taiwan; ASUS Computer International, Fremont, CA; Dell Inc., Round Rock, TX; Hewlett Packard Co., Palo Alto, CA; Lenovo Group Ltd., China; Lenovo Holding Co., Inc., Morrisville, NC; Lenovo (United States) Inc., Morrisville, NC; Toshiba Corp., Japan; Toshiba America Inc., New York, NY; Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Irvine, CA; and Realtek Semiconductor Corp..

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN COMPANIES

On January 13, 2015 Azure Networks Inc. filed a patent case against ZTE Corporation and ZTE (USA) Inc. AZURE ZTE COMPLAINT

On January 21, 2015, Music City Metals Co. filed a trademark case against Xiao Jin Hua, Hou Huanqing, King Shin International, King Jing LLC, King Shin International Co., Ltd. KZNG SHZN International Co., Ltd. and BBQ Parts Ltd.MUSIC CITY COMPLAINT Complaint 3-15cv67

On January 27, 2015, Robertshaw Controls Company filed a trademark unfair competition case against Ningbo Ranco Machinery & Equipment Co., Ltd.NINGBO TRADEMARK CASE

On January 28, 2015, Spy Optic Inc. filed a trademark, unfair competition case, against Alibaba.com, Albaba.com Hong Kong Ltd., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.,ALIBABA TRADEMARK CASE

On January 30, 2015, Consolidated Work Station Computing LLC filed a patent case against Huawei Technologies USA, Inc. and Huawei Device USA Inc. CONSOLIDATED HUAWEI

On February 3, 2015, Thingcharger Inc. and P3 International Corp. filed a patent case against Viatek Consumer Products Group, Inc., Viatek International LLC, Foshan Um Electronics Co., Ltd. Foshum complaint

On February 4, 2015 Paxton Sales, Inc. filed a copyright and unfair competition case against Vogue Furniture Direct Inc., Guozhi Qiao, and Zhejiang Chairmeng Furniture Co., Ltd. PAXTON FURNITURE COPYRIGHT COMPLAINT

On February 6, 2015, Avionqs LLC filed a patent case against Air China Cargo Company. CHINA CARGO PATENT CASE

On February 9, 2015, United States Pumice Company filed a trade secrets unfair competition case against Seung Joon Lee and Yiwe Xianxue Company Ltd. dba Ipumice.comPUMICE CHINA CASE

On February 12, 2015, Toyo Tire and Rubber Co and Toyo Tire USA Corp. filed an unfair competition, trade dress case against CIA Wheel Group, Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre Co., Tire Industrial Co., Ltd. and Double Star Group Corp.  QINGDAO TYRE CASE

On February 13, 2015, eDigital Corp filed a patent case against Shenzhen Gospell Smartphone Electron Co., dba Ocea Camera, Ividem Ltd., New Sight Devices Corp. SHENZHEN CASE

CHINESE INVESTMENT AND PRODUCTION IN UNITED STATES—FOREIGN INVESTMENT FILING REQUIREMENTS

On December 4, 2014, Mellissa Krasnow, a Dorsey attorney, published the following article about the filing requirement for Foreign Investments in the United States:

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently launched the BE-13, Survey of New Foreign Direct Investment in the United States. See http://www.dorsey.com/eu-be-13-new-foreigndirect- investment-in-us/. There are civil penalties, injunctive relief and criminal penalties for failing to file BE-13 when required, so whether BE-13 needs to be filed must be determined and the obligation to file must be complied with. Questions for companies to ask regarding acquisitions completed since January 1, 2014 (data is being collected retroactively back to January 1, 2014) and going forward include:

  1. Has your company made foreign investment filings with the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis?
  2. Has your company been contacted by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in 2014?
  3. Is the total cost of the transaction greater than US$3 million and:

Did a foreign entity or an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign entity acquire a voting interest in a U.S. enterprise, segment or operating unit? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13A at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13a-fillable.pdf;

also consider the requirements for BE-13C at Https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13c-fillable.pdf.

Did a foreign entity or an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign entity establish a new legal entity in the United States? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13B at

https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13b-fillable.pdf.

Did an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign parent acquire a U.S. business enterprise or segment that it then merge into its operations? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13C at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13cfillable.pdf.

Did an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign parent expand its operations to include a new facility where business is conducted? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13D at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13dfillable.pdf.

Does the U.S. business enterprise not meet all of the above requirements? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13 Claim for Exemption at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13-claimfillable.pdf.

These filings are due within 45 days after the acquisition is completed, the new legal entity is established, or the expansion is begun.

US LITIGATION ORDERING FOREIGN COMPANIES TO BREAK ATTORNEY CLIENT WORK PRODUCT

Dorsey lawyers for the Bank of China are attempting to overturn a US judge’s order to release materials to plaintiff collected during the Bank of China’s internal investigation. Dorsey lawyers for the Bank are arguing that the documents were prepared under the direction of outside counsel in anticipation of potential litigation and should not be released to the Plaintiffs because of attorney-client privilege.

The Federal Judge faulted the Bank for failing to provide information as to when it began communicating with its original outside attorney at Preston, Gates about the matter, and that it failed to state the dates and nature of his involvement, including whether he “directed or claims to have directed any aspect of the investigation”.

In the objection to the order, Bank of China’s lawyer Lanier Saperstein at Dorsey & Whitney said that “Judge Gorenstein has effectively created new rules for establishing work-product protection and attorney-client privilege,” adding that the new rules would prevent a business like Bank of China “from communicating with an attorney for the purpose of obtaining legal advice unless the attorney first directs the client to do so.” Saperstein argued that Judge Gorenstein’s order is contrary to a Second Circuit ruling in United States v Adlman where the court established that work-product protection applies if “the documents can fairly be said to have been prepared or obtained because of the prospect of litigation”.

Saperstein also rejected the assertion that only communications made at the request of the attorney apply for attorney-client privilege. Limiting privilege “to only those communications made at the direction of the attorney would lead to perverse results,” Saperstein said, adding: “Under this requirement, a client who describes his situation to an attorney before asking for advice would receive no protection.”

Saperstein further stated: “I’m particularly thrown by the theme that runs through the decision, which is that you need to establish the counterfactual world, and show what you would have done had the facts been different.”

He said the decision places a very high burden on companies, stating:

“I’ve never submitted an Upjohn declaration stating what we would have done had we not anticipated litigation. [I’m] not entirely sure how one does that, because it moves away from the factual situation to a hypothetical one. How would one attest to what you would have done in a different scenario?”

ANTITRUST

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

VITAMIN C ORAL ARGUMENT

On January 29, 2015, oral argument was held in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the Vitamin C Antitrust Case against Chinese companies. In that appeal, two Chinese companies Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp., along with China’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) are trying to reverse a $153 million dollar award against the two Chinese companies from a Brooklyn, New York in an antitrust class action over price-fixing of vitamin C exports to the US from China. During the argument, MOFCOM’s counsel argued that the proceedings are seen “as an affront to the Chinese government,” especially the notion that China tried to tweak its laws after the fact.

But William Isaacson of Boies, Schiller, the Plaintiff’s lawyer argued that Chinese law, or its possible evolution, was not before the jury and urged the panel to respect the vigorously litigated proceeding and voluminous record below, stating:

“It shows no disrespect to a government to disagree with them. The good people of Brooklyn were not asked to decide what Chinese law says,” only to decide whether the government made the companies fix their prices. “If there’s no actual compulsion, there’s no comity issue.”

Augustine Lo, a Dorsey Trade and Corporate lawyer, attended the oral argument and reported as follows:

The Second Circuit oral argument in the Vitamin C antitrust case was interesting. Counsel for the two Chinese companies who went to trial (Wilson Sonsini), counsel for MOFCOM (Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin LLP), and counsel for plaintiffs (Boies Schiller) presented their arguments. The panel consisted of Chief Judge Cabranes, Judge Hall, and Judge Wesley.

As you may recall, Federal District Court Judge Cogan of Eastern District New York (same judge as Arab Bank trial) ruled that MOFCOM’s statement in support of the Chinese companies was insufficient to prove that the PRC government compelled the antitrust violation at issue. In effect, the Federal District Court Judge decided that plaintiffs’ explanation of Chinese law and ambiguous translations of witness statements concerning the lack of strict enforcement were more authoritative than MOFCOM’s statement. MOFCOM was furious.

Defendants-Appellants’ counsel focused his argument on the comity issue – that the District Judge failed to defer to the MOFCOM statement and failed to acknowledge the international relations conflict between price fixing authorized by Chinese law and prohibition of the same conduct under U.S. antitrust law. Plaintiffs-Appellees’ counsel explained that the District Judge properly excluded the Chinese regulation from the jury because the interpretation of the regulation was a question of law that the judge previously settled under Rule 44.1. Plaintiffs contend that the jury was able to decide there was no compulsion based on the record evidence. In rebuttal, defendants countered that the translations on the record regarding the companies’ voluntary conduct were ambiguous, which militates even more strongly in favor of deference to the MOFCOM statement.

Judges Cabranes and Hall seemed more receptive to defendants-appellees’ comity arguments. I predict a 2-1 vote in favor of reversal on the issue of comity. It’s unclear whether they will remand for dismissal for lack of jurisdiction (as requested by defendants), or whether they may remand for new trial and require the District Court Judge to accord proper evidentiary weight to the MOFCOM statement.

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

QUALCOMM

On February 9, 2015, it was announced that Qualcomm Inc. agreed to pay $975 million to end the Chinese government’s antitrust investigation under China’s anti-monopoly law into whether it used its position as the world’s largest smartphone chipmaker to charge discriminatory fees to patent licensees. The settlement came after meetings on February 6th between Qualcomm and China’s National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”). Qualcomm also agreed to lower its royalty rates on patents used in China and to change its licensing practices as part of the deal.

Derek Aberle, Qualcomm’s President, stated:

“We are pleased that the investigation has concluded and believe that our licensing business is now well positioned to fully participate in China’s rapidly accelerating adoption of our 3G/4G technology. We appreciate the NDRC’s acknowledgment of the value and importance of Qualcomm’s technology and many contributions to China, and look forward to its future support of our business in China.”

The NDRC ruled that Qualcomm violated China’s anti-monopoly law with its patent licensing practices, and the company agreed not to contest the finding.

Apparently, the Chinese market and the potential for large profits are just too big for US companies to ignore.

JCCT TALKS

On December 19, 2014, the Chinese Daily reported on the December 16-18 JCCT talks between the US government and the Chinese government stating, “China said it will treat all market entities equally in anti-monopoly enforcement and allow foreign companies’ legal advisers to observe meetings between litigants and anti-monopoly enforcement agencies.”

In the fact sheet, which was circulated at the end of the talks, the Commerce Department stated regarding the Chinese government’s agreement at the JCCT talks:

COMPETITION LAW

U.S. industry has asserted that China’s competition policy enforcement authorities seem to be targeting foreign companies and at times use Anti-monopoly Law investigations as a tool to protect and promote domestic national champions and domestic industries. U.S. industry also has expressed concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in China’s investigative processes, as well as pressure from the Chinese authorities not to seek outside counsel or have counsel present at meetings. China’s commitments below help to address several of these concerns.

  1. In order to build on the recognition of the United States and China in the Sixth Meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue that the objective of competition policy is to promote consumer welfare and economic efficiency, rather than promote individual competitors or industries, and that the enforcement of their respective competition laws should be fair, transparent, objective, and non-discriminatory, and China’s commitment that its three Antimonopoly Enforcement Agencies (AMEAs) are to provide to any party under investigation information about the AMEA’s competition concerns with the conduct or transaction, as well as an effective opportunity for the party to present evidence in its defense:
  2. a) China clarifies that in enforcing the AML, all business operators shall be treated equally.
  3. b) Where AML violations are found, China clarifies that it is to impose enforcement measures that address the harm to competition, and not to impose enforcement measures designed to promote individual competitors or industries.
  4. China clarifies that its AMEAs will, (1) when undertaking administrative actions, strictly follow statutory limits on their authority, procedures, and requirements as laid out in China’s relevant laws, regulations and rules; and

(2) before imposing penalties, notify the parties of the facts, grounds, and basis according to which the administrative penalties are to be decided, notify the parties of the rights that they enjoy in accordance with the law, and provide the parties with the right to state their cases and to defend themselves.

  1. China clarifies that all administrative decisions that impose liability on a party under the AML will be provided in writing to the party and include the facts, reasons, and evidence on which the decision is based. China clarifies that it will publish the final version of administrative decisions that impose liability on a party under the AML in a timely manner. Administrative decisions made public in accordance with law should not include contents involving what are legally commercial secrets.
  2. China will ensure that, upon request from a party involved, the three AMEAs are to allow Chinese practicing lawyers to attend and participate in meetings with any of the three AMEAs. China will ensure that, upon request from the party involved, and after obtaining approval from the AMEA, which shall be granted as normal practice, the following persons may attend the meetings with any of the three AMEAs: (1) representatives of foreign law firm representative offices established in China, who are permitted to attend and advise on international law and practice and provide information on the impact of the Chinese legal environment, but not permitted to conduct activities that encompass Chinese legal affairs, and (2) foreign legal counsel practicing in other legal jurisdictions, who are permitted to attend and provide information on the subject transaction or conduct and information on the laws or international practices of the legal jurisdiction where they practice.

In the Blog post describing the JCCT, Commerce states:

  • Competition policy enforcement: The United States was able to address a significant concern for many foreign companies, which have expressed serious concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in the investigative processes of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law enforcement. The Chinese side agreed that, under normal circumstances, a foreign company in an Anti-Monopoly Law investigation would be permitted to have counsel present and to consult with them during proceedings. China also made several additional commitments, including to treat domestic and foreign companies equally and to provide increased transparency for investigated companies.

ANJIE LAW FIRM

On January 21, 2015, Michael Gu, a Chinese antitrust lawyer at the Anjie Law Firm in Beijing, sent the following e-mail with attached several articles on Chinese antitrust law:

I would like to share with you my latest articles on the recent PRC antitrust development.

      Six Years After the Implementation of the Anti-Monopoly Law: Enforcement Trends and Developments of Anti-Monopoly Law Investigation in China (English and Chinese)2014 marks the six anniversary of the implementation of the PRC Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML), the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China (“NDRC”) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (“SAIC”) have gradually strengthened their anti-monopoly law enforcement in terms of investigation with rounds of record fines. In particular, since early 2013, the investigations conducted by the NDRC are apparently speeding up with 11 high-profile cases investigated and closed with the total fines amounting to RMB 3,272.75 million. This article focus on the typical cases investigated and fined by the NDRC and the SAIC, analyzing in detail the recent trends and features, as well as future developments of anti-monopoly law enforcement. Also, we provide suggestions to companies with respect to their construction of antitrust compliance program under the new circumstances

MOFCOM Steps Up: Penalty Decisions Regarding Merger Control Published for the First Time (English) On 2 December 2014, for the first time ever, MOFCOM, the Chinese antitrust enforcement authority responsible for merger control, published three penalty decisions regarding concentration of undertakings. MOFCOM has announced that it was going to publicize its penalty decisions on undertakings which fail to file a notifiable merger as early as 21 March 2014, and now, here it comes. By publicizing these penalty decisions, MOFCOM conveys a clear message that it is enhancing the supervision and law enforcement on merger issues.

T&D MICROSOFT E-MAIL AND ARTICLE

On December 9th, John Ren of T&D Associates, a well-known, Chinese antitrust lawyer in Beijing, sent out an e-mail to all interested parties about the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s (MOFCOM) recent decisions to hand out penalty decision in three cases. As John Ren states:

T&D has prepared an email to introduce three penalty decisions of MOFCOM to the clients. Please see below for your reference as well.

The Department of Treaty and Law (“DTL”) of the Ministry of Commerce of People’s Republic of China (“MOFCOM”) has published three Administrative Penalty Determination Letters on December 8, 2014 on its website to impose fines on Western Digital Corporation (“Western Digital”) and Tsinghua Unigroup Co., Ltd.(“Unigroup”) for their violation of antitrust law and regulations. Please find attached the English translations of the three documents prepared by T&D for your kind reference.

T&D would like to provide comments as below for your kind reference:

      1. The penalties imposed on Western Digital are aimed at its violation of commitments in MOFCOM’s conditional approval notice in accordance with Article 15 of the Measures for the Review of Concentrations of Undertakings (“Measures“), while the penalty imposed on Unigroup is aimed at its violation of notification obligation in accordance with Article 21 of the Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML“) and Article 13 of the Interim Measures for Investigating and Handling Failure to Notify the Concentration of Undertakings According to Law (“Interim Measures“).
      2.      On March 20, 2014, MOFCOM has published an announcement about disclosing the penalty determination after May 1, 2014 on the undertakings who implemented a concentration without filing before MOFCOM when it is needed in accordance with law. And it is the first time MOFCOM has published its penalty determinations on undertakings who violate the restrictive conditions in a conditional approval notice (regarding the Western Digital Penalty) and on undertakings who fail to notify before MOFCOM when it was needed in accordance with the law (regarding the Unigroup Penalty).
      3. These public penalty determinations show a trend of MOFCOM strengthening enforcement of antitrust law after May 1, 2014. In fact, there were several companies on which bureau-level penalties were imposed in the past by the Anti-Monopoly Bureau of MOFCOM and those penalties have not been disclosed to the public, while the disclosure of the administrative penalty this time by DTL of MOFCOM is a higher-level penalty which has a higher number of fine and needs consent from the minister-level to be implemented. Also, there will be other kinds of penalties if MOFCOM defines antitrust concerns during the review process in accordance with the AML, for example, to discontinue such concentrations, to dispose of undertakings’ shares or assets within a specific time limit, to transfer the business, to adopt other necessary measures to return to the status prior to the concentration, etc.
      4. In accordance with Article 48 of the AML, MOFCOM can impose a fine of no more than 500,000 RMB on the undertakings. Although compared to the transaction value and the turnover of some large-scale companies, this is not a significant figure, MOFCOM’s act of disclosing the penalty determination will seriously hurt the reputation of the companies and effect the compliance issues of those companies in their future operations in China. Therefore, we sincerely suggest that companies take it more seriously when evaluating the necessity of notification and perform the obligation of notification if necessary.
      5. As we can see, the penalty determinations aim at one foreign company and one domestic company, which shows a fair treatment and attitude by MOFCOM regarding antitrust law enforcement on both foreign and domestic companies.

T&D JANUARY REPORT

T&D also sent us their attached January report on Chinese competition law, TD Monthly Antitrust Report of January 2015. In that report, John Ren states in part:

Experts Predict Anti-Monopoly Law Enforcement will Normalize and Regulate this Year

January 5, 2015

Anti-monopoly law enforcement advanced triumphantly in 2014.

This year, many well-known foreign companies such as Qualcomm, Tetra Pak, Microsoft, Mercedes, etc. have faced investigation by China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement; Japanese auto parts enterprises received the biggest fines since the birth of the anti-monopoly law; rare anti-administrative monopoly investigation cases have also arisen on suspicions of discriminatorily charging road tolls, and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) launched an anti-monopoly investigation on an administrative organ at the provincial level for the first time.

There are so many bright spots of “first times”, “largest,” and so on in 2014, leaving this year with a groundbreaking mark in the course of China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement.

This kind of strength has been accused of “selective law enforcement”, “lacking law enforcement transparency”, “lacking professionalism” and so on. As for the trend of the anti-monopoly law enforcement from now on, a majority of experts give prudent predictions. They think, in view of law enforcement difficulties, the strengthening of supervision by public opinion as well as the improvement on the Government Information Publicity System, anti-monopoly law enforcement in 2015 will become more prudent and precise, and strong law enforcement is likely to slow down.

Full bloom of anti-monopoly law enforcement

2014 is the year in which anti-monopoly law enforcement blossomed everywhere. Both for domestic enterprises and foreign enterprises, also both for natural monopolies and administrative monopolies, law enforcement and judicial organs all increased their engagement.

The anti-monopoly investigation on many multinational companies and foreign companies is a big characteristic of anti-monopoly in 2014. At the beginning of the New Year, the information of anti-monopoly law enforcement drew people’s attention. Qualcomm was under anti-monopoly investigation by the National Development and Reform Commission, and Tetra Pak and Microsoft were under an anti-monopoly investigation by China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

On May 29, the National Development and Reform Commission issued the first anti-monopoly fine for 2014. Because price monopolistic behavior violated the anti-monopoly law, five eyeglass production enterprises including Essilor, Bausch & Lomb, etc., were fined more than 19 million Yuan.

Into the summer, the National Development and Reform Commission targeted the import auto industry as a goal for a new round of anti-monopoly enforcement. On August 4, the anti-monopoly investigation team of the National Development and Reform Commission abruptly investigated Mercedes’ Shanghai office. A number of Mercedes executives were summoned for questioning, and many office computers were inspected. After then, luxury cars such as Chrysler and Audi reduced their prices one after the other in response to China’s anti-monopoly investigations.

At the same time, domestic enterprises are also undergoing anti-monopoly investigations and anti-monopoly penalties. So far, it is clear to see through the “Anti-monopoly Cases Release Platform” that all 16 anti-monopoly cases punished by the anti-monopoly enforcement authority in the industry and commerce system target domestic enterprises.

The “restricting administrative monopoly” provision in the Anti-Monopoly law has been plagued by the “decoration” question. On September 13, the NDRC anti-monopoly bureau director Kun Lin, Xu announced at a news conference in the State Council Information Office (SCIO) that the stipulation by Hebei province, that the bus in its province will be charged half price of toll fees but out-of-province buses will be charged full price, is suspected of violating the anti-monopoly law, and it is under the National Development and Reform Commission’s investigation. Relevant government departments in Hebei province soon put forward an improvement scheme, restoring prices to the same price charged for local vehicles and vehicle from other places.

Repeatedly refreshed anti-monopoly fines

In 2014, the anti-monopoly enforcement authority continued the intensity of punishment in 2013; anti-monopoly fines reached new highs repeatedly.

In sweltering mid-August, the National Development and Reform Commission offered a 1.235 billion Yuan penalty to 12 Japanese auto parts companies, and so far this is the biggest anti-monopoly fine in China. It is understood that since 2013 the National Development and Reform Commission has issued 7 anti-monopoly fines, each of which reached more than ten million Yuan.

On September 2, in view of the fact that the insurance industry association of Zhejiang province organized 23 provincial property insurance companies to hold a meeting about car insurance premiums and they violated the anti-monopoly law regulation, the National Development and Reform Commission decided to fine the insurance industry association of Zhejiang province 500,000 Yuan, and 110 million Yuan on the 23 property insurance companies involved. This is by far the biggest anti-monopoly fine in the insurance industry.

The media exclaims that anti-monopoly fines are higher and higher. Industry experts remind the public that the focus for anti-monopoly enforcement should not just be placed on the amount of the fine. Professor Jian Zhong Shi, a modification and review panel expert for the Anti-Monopoly Law of the State Council Legislative Affairs Office and a director in the competition law research center of China University of Political Science and Law, thinks that even if a fine is a “sky-high price”, the purpose of law enforcement is not for huge fines, but for restoring the normal order of market competition.

Super-national treatment is closed

The intensive law enforcement on foreign-funded enterprises soon triggered suspicion. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China raised objection to the anti-monopoly investigations in China, considering that they have been treated unfairly. Others argue that there is a double standard in China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement. While there is strict law enforcement on private enterprise and multinational companies, the law enforcement on state-owned enterprise is passive.

As for this point of view, Mengyan, an associate professor in the law school of Renmin University of China, thinks that the business activities of multinational companies and foreign-funded enterprises in China enjoy “Super-national Treatment” in the initial stages of reform and opening-up. When faced with anti-monopoly law enforcement practices in China, foreign-funded enterprises should consider more, keep a low-profile, and reflect on whether their own pricing behavior violates the anti-monopoly provision.

Since the initiation of China’s anti-monopoly law in August, 2008, the National Development and Reform Commission and the State Administration of Industry and Commerce did not “exert force” until the past two years. As for this point, Huangyong, deputy supervisor of the expert consultation group for the Anti-monopoly Commission of the State Council and professor in the law school of University of International Business and Economics, expresses that this phenomenon may be explained as that: For the new anti-monopoly law, law enforcement authorities are willing to set aside a period of time for market players to correct themselves before as the authorities themselves also need some time to learn professional knowledge and accumulate law enforcement experience. However, after six years, law enforcement authorities today both have the intention and the capability to fully open anti-monopoly law enforcement. To some extent, law enforcement authorities are cleaning “historical debts”. Law enforcement work is becoming normality.

Law enforcement transparency awaits improvement

The transparency of law enforcement has become a focus point for the general question in the foreign press on China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement.

On September 2, 2014, the National Development and Reform Commission announced its 0.11 billion Yuan anti-monopoly “ticket” on the insurance industry in Zhejiang province and published its full written decision of administrative penalty at the same time. However, the scrupulous reader can find that this written decision of administrative penalty has been made by the National Development and Reform Commission as early as the end of 2013, so why is it not published until today? Should the written decision of administrative penalty for anti-monopoly law enforcement be published timely?

Meanwhile, the publication of written decisions of administrative penalties for anti-monopoly law enforcement lacks unified legislation. This becomes another question raising suspicion of foreigners regarding anti-monopoly law enforcement transparency.

Insiders generally consider that anti-monopoly law enforcement will become normality from now on. However, considering law enforcement difficulties, the strengthening of the supervision of public opinions as well as the improvement on Government Information Publicity System, anti-monopoly law enforcement in 2015 will become more prudent and precise; the strong law enforcement is likely to slow down.

Professor Huangyong thinks that the focus for anti-monopoly law enforcement from now on should return to the legislative intention for the anti-monopoly law, that is to say, to safeguard a healthy market competition order. From now on, anti-monopoly cases will be more complex and involve more frontier domains. This puts forward a higher demand for the professionalism of anti-monopoly law enforcement. Thus, law enforcement authorities in our country should be well prepared and meet the challenge actively.

SECURITIES

PRC AUDIT FIRMS REACH SETTLEMENT WITH SEC

On February 8, 2015, Dorsey Partner, Tom Gorman, who used to work at the SEC Enforcement division, posted the following article about PRC Based Audit Firms and their problems at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on his blog on securities litigation. In that post Tom Gorman states:

SEC – PRC Based Audit Firms Reach A Settlement

The SEC and the PRC based affiliates of five major accounting firms entered into a settlement of proceedings initiated over the failure to produce audit work papers for issuers with substantial operations in China. The settlement, which provides a mechanism for governing future productions, represents a significant step toward a resolution of these issues which ultimately stem from the intersection of far different cultures and regulatory systems.

The proceedings

In the Matter of BDO China Dahua CPA Co., Ltd., Adm. Proc. File No. 3-15116 (Dec. 3, 2012) is a proceeding which named as Respondents the PRC based affiliates of five major accounting firms: BDO China, Ernst & Young Hau Ming LLP, KPMG Huazhen (Special General Partnership), Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Certified Public Accountants Ltd. and PricewaterhouseCoopers Zhong Tian CPAs Ltd.

The proceeding was based on Rule 102(e)(1)(iii) which permits the Commission to temporarily or permanently deny any person found to have willfully violated or aided and abetted the violation of the Federal securities laws. Section 106 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act, was alleged to have been violated. That Section provides that a PCAOB registered firm that audits the financial statements of a U.S. issuer consents to produce its work papers on request by either the Board or the SEC.

In this matter, each Respondent is registered with the PCAOB. Each Respondent is alleged to have been engaged to audit the financial statements of a PRC based U.S. issuer. Each Respondent was served with a request by the Commission to produce all of its audit work papers for a designated period. Each Respondent declined, at least in part, based on their understanding that the law of the PRC precluded the production. The Order directed that a hearing be held before an ALJ to hear evidence.

Following the hearing the Law Judge issued an initial decision on January 22, 2014. In that decision, much of which was redacted, the Law Judge found that each firm should be censured. In addition, each firm, except BDO, was suspended from practicing before the SEC for six months. The Commission then granted petitions for review filed by Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC as well as the Division. See also In the Matter of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Certified Public Accountants Ltd., Adm. Proc. File No. 3-14872 (May 9, 2012)(subpoena enforcement action against the audit firm related to a different PRC based client).

The settlement

BDO China, Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC settled with the SEC, admitting certain facts which are the predicate of the proceedings as set forth in Annex A. There were no admissions that the Federal securities or other laws were violated.

Under the terms of the settlement each Respondent is censured and will pay a penalty of $500,000. The Order provides for a stay of the current proceedings for a period of four years. The continuation of the stay is contingent on the implementation of certain undertakings tied to the execution of future requests for work papers. Specifically, the undertakings provide that in the future the SEC will make requests for assistance to the CSRC under international sharing mechanisms which include the

IOSCO MMOU. At the same time the staff will make a request to one of the settling Respondents through its designated U.S. agent. The Respondent to whom the request is directed will provide the staff with a certification that the materials have been furnished to the CSRC, along with a log of any documents withheld based on privilege or PRC law provisions which include state secrets. The undertakings provide time limits for the completion of these tasks.

If the Respondent to whom the request is directed fails to provide the required certificates within the specified time periods the Commission can, under Rule 102(e), enter a partial bar as to that Respondent. That bar will have a term of six months and will preclude the firm from issuing an audit report or otherwise serving as a principal auditor for any issuer. If two such bars are ordered they shall run consecutively. There is no appeal from the entry of this order.

Alternatively, if the staff determines that the production made to CSRC is materially incomplete, after an opportunity to cure, a summary proceeding may be instituted before a Law Judge. The Law Judge will have the authority to issue a partial bar, a censure and a penalty of up to $75,000.

Finally, if the staff determines that a Respondent has provided materially deficient responses, there has been substantial delay, material has been withheld without justification under U.S. law and a summary proceeding has not been instituted, it may request that the Commission terminate the stay and restart the proceedings.

Comment

The settlement of these proceedings is one step in what has become a long and difficult process regarding the entry of PRC issuers into the U.S. and world capital markets. Issuers based in, or with substantial operations in the PRC, have sought entry into the U.S. and world capital markets.

Bringing those firms to markets which are heavily regulated and based on disclosure, however, represents a clash of culture and regulatory regimes.

Here that clash has been evident from the first. While SOX requires Board registered auditors to agree to produce work papers and subjects them to inspections, at the time of registration the firms involved in these proceedings did not provide the Consent to Cooperate. Nevertheless, the Board permitted their registration while reiterating its obligations.

As these proceedings demonstrate, effectuating the requirement that registered firms produce work papers has been difficult for the SEC and the Board. At the same time the Commission and Board have exercised restraint while negotiating resolutions of the issues involved here. For example, after significant efforts the Board was able to enter into an MOU with the CSRC regarding cooperation and the production of work papers. The materials in the underlying actions were produced.

Yet an agreement on inspection, while under discussion, has been elusive.

Viewed against this backdrop, the settlements here are significant. The firms were sanctioned, but not barred from appearing and practicing before the SEC. Rather, an additional mechanism for facilitating future requests was arranged under the threat of additional and more significant sanctions. The ultimate success of the process is, however, tied to the MOU negotiated by Board since the settlement only calls for delivery of the materials to the CSRC, not to the SEC. Recent productions by that agency suggest that in the future there will be more cooperation and transparency regarding issuers operating in the PRC. It may well be that the time has come for issuers operating in the PRC to enter the world capital markets.

See also Tom Gorman’s blog for more information about this case http://www.secactions.com/sec-prc-based-audit-firms-reach-a-settlement/

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

On December 15, 2014, the Justice Department announced that Avon China had pled guilty to violating the foreign corrupt practices Act by concealing more than $8 million in gifts to Chinese officials. As the Justice Department stated in an announcement, which will be attached to my blog:

Avon Products Inc. and Avon Products (China) Co. Ltd. Will Pay More than $135 Million in Criminal and Regulatory Penalties

Avon Products (China) Co. Ltd. (Avon China), a wholly owned subsidiary of the New York-based cosmetics company, Avon Products Inc. (Avon), pleaded guilty today to conspiring to violate the accounting provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to conceal more than $8 million in gifts, cash and non-business meals, travel and entertainment it gave to Chinese government officials in order to obtain and retain business benefits for Avon China. Avon China and Avon admitted the improper accounting and payments and Avon entered into a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve the investigation. In a proceeding today before United States District Judge George B. Daniels, the criminal Informations were filed against Avon and Avon China, and Avon China entered its guilty plea and was sentenced.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“Companies that cook their books to hide improper payments will face criminal penalties, as Avon China’s guilty plea demonstrates,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Public companies that discover bribes paid to foreign officials, fail to stop them, and cover them up do so at their own peril.”

“For years in China it was ‘Avon calling,’ as Avon bestowed millions of dollars in gifts and other things on Chinese government officials in return for business benefits,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara. “Avon China was in the door-to-door influence-peddling business, and for years its corporate parent, rather than putting an end to the practice, conspired to cover it up. Avon has now agreed to adopt rigorous internal controls and to the appointment of a monitor to ensure that reforms are instituted and maintained.”

“When corporations knowingly engage in bribery in order to obtain and retain contracts, it disrupts the level playing field to which all businesses are entitled,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McCabe.

“Companies who attempt to advance their businesses through foreign bribery should be on notice. The FBI, with our law enforcement partners, is continuing to push this unacceptable practice out of the business playbook by investigating companies who ignore the law.”

Avon China pleaded guilty to a criminal information filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York charging the company with conspiring to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA. Avon, the parent company, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement today and admitted its criminal conduct, including its role in the conspiracy and its failure to implement internal controls.

Pursuant to the deferred prosecution agreement, the department filed a criminal information charging Avon with conspiring to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA and violating the internal controls provisions of the FCPA. In total, the Avon entities will pay $67,648,000 in criminal penalties. Avon also agreed to implement rigorous internal controls, cooperate fully with the department and retain a compliance monitor for at least 18 months.

Avon settled a related FCPA matter with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today, and will pay an additional $67,365,013 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, bringing the total amount of U.S. criminal and regulatory penalties paid by Avon and Avon China to $135,013,013.

According to the companies’ admissions, from at least 2004 through 2008, Avon and Avon China conspired to falsify Avon’s books and records by falsely describing the nature and purpose of certain Avon China transactions. Specifically, the companies sought to disguise over $8 million in gifts, cash and non-business travel, meals and entertainment that Avon China executives and employees gave to government officials in China in order to obtain and retain business benefits for Avon China. Avon China attempted to disguise the payments and benefits through various means, including falsely describing the nature or purpose of, or participants associated with such expenses, and falsely recording payments to a third party intermediary as payments for legitimate consulting services.

The companies also admitted that in late 2005 Avon learned that Avon China was routinely providing things of value to Chinese government officials and failing to properly document them. Instead of ensuring the practice was halted, fixing the false books and records, disciplining the culpable individuals, and implementing appropriate controls to address this problem, the companies took steps to conceal the conduct, despite knowing that Avon China’s books and records, and ultimately Avon’s books and records, would continue to be inaccurate.

Court filings acknowledge Avon’s cooperation with the department, including conducting an extensive internal investigation, voluntarily making U.S. and foreign employees available for interviews, and collecting, analyzing, translating and organizing voluminous evidence.

BRUKER CORP.

On December 15, 2014 Massachusetts-based scientific instruments manufacturer Bruker Corp. agreed to pay $2.4 million to settle the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing Chinese government officials in an effort to win sales contracts.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On December 2, 2014, Wayne Jewell filed a class action securities case against MOL Global, Inc., Tan Sri Dato, Seri Vincent Tan, Ganesh Jumar Bangah, Allan Sai Wah Wong, Eric He, Noah J. Doyle, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Deutchsche Bank Securities Inc., UBS Securities LLC and CIMB Securities (Singapore) PTD, Ltd. JEWELL MOL GLOBAL

On December 11, 2014, Chao Lu filed a class action securities case against Jumei International Holding Ltd, Leo Ou Chen, Yusen Dai, Mona Meng Gao, Yunsheng Zheng, Judge Paijley, Steve Yue Ji, Keyi Chen, Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC, Credit Suize Securities (USA) llc, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, China Renaissance Securities (Hong Kong) Ltd, Piper Jaffray & Co and Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. JUMEI BROCK COMPLAINT

On December 31, 2014, Aram J. Pehlivian filed a class action securities case against China Gerui Advanced Materials Group Ltd, Mingwang Lu, Edward Meng, Yi Lu, Harry Edelson, J. P. Huang, Kwok Keung Wong, Yunlong Wang, and Maotong Xu. CHINA GERUI

On January 9, 2015, Steven Bocker, Sadie LaBerge and Jay Wise filed a class action securities case against Deer Consumer Products Inc., Yuehua Xie, Zongshu Nie, Arnold Staloff, Qi Hua Xu, Yongmei Wang, Man Wai James Chu, Walter Zhao, Edward Hua, Bill Ying he, Goldman Kurland Mohidin LLP, and Ahmed Mohidin. DEER SECURITIES

On January 14, 2015, Paul Fila filed a class action securities case against Pingtan Marine Enterprise Ltd., Xinrong Zhuo, Roy Yu, Jin Shi and Xuesong Song. PINGTAN MARINE Complaint

On February 2, 2015, Chao Sun filed a class action securities case against Daqing Han, Xiaoli Yu, Hong Li, Ming Li, Lian Zhu, Guanghui Cheng, Guobin Pan, Guangjun Lu, Yuanpin He, Mazars CPA Ltd, Mazars Scrl, Weisermazars LLP, and Telestone Technologies Corp. CHAO SUN TELESTONE

On February 4, 2015, Ming Huang filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Zhaoxi Lu and Maggie Wei Wu. MING HUANG ALIBABA

On February 16, 2015, Myrtle Chao filed a class action securities case against Alibaba. MYTRLE CHAO ALIBABA

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR-DEVELOPMENTS IN TRADE, TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE, CUSTOMS, IP/337, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Jinshang Park from Forbidden City Yellow Roofs Gugong Palace Bei“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 16, 2014

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, trade adjustment assistance, Trade Agreements, Customs, 337/IP, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

TRADE PROTECTIONISM INCLUDING UNFAIR TRADE CASES DO NOT WORK

The problem with trade protectionism, including “unfair” antidumping and countervailing duty cases, is they do not work. Antidumping and countervailing duty cases do not accomplish their objective of protecting the US industry from “unfair” imports.

Note the quotes around unfair, because in the context of China, since the United States refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine whether Chinese companies are dumping, the US government simply does not know whether the Chinese companies are dumping.  Instead for the last 30 years Commerce has used Alice in Wonderland surrogate values from surrogate countries that have no relationship with economic reality in China to construct the “cost” of production in China.

With regard to accomplishing its objective of protecting the domestic industry, however, as stated in my January newsletter, on June 28, 1986 in his attached speech from his Santa Barbara ranch, BETTER COPY REAGAN IT SPEECH, President Ronald Reagan realized the simple point that trade restrictions, including unfair trade cases, do not work. As President Reagan stated:

“international trade is one of those issues that politicians find an unending source of temptation. Like a 5-cent cigar or a chicken in every pot, demanding high tariffs or import restrictions is a familiar bit of flimflammery in American politics. But cliches and demagoguery aside, the truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth.

You see, trade barriers and protectionism only put off the inevitable. Sooner or later, economic reality intrudes, and industries protected by the Government face a new and unexpected form of competition. It may be a better product, a more efficient manufacturing technique, or a new foreign or domestic competitor.

By this time, of course, the protected industry is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition. And that, my friends, is when the factories shut down and the unemployment lines start.

Sometimes foreign governments adopt unfair tariffs or quotas and subsidize their own industries or take other actions that give firms an unfair competitive edge over our own businesses. On those occasions, it’s been very important for the United States to respond effectively, and our administration hasn’t hesitated to act quickly and decisively.

And in September, with more GATT talks coining up once again, it’s going to be very important for the United States to make clear our commitment that unfair foreign competition cannot be allowed to put American workers in businesses at an unfair disadvantage. But I think you all know the inherent danger here. A foreign government raises an unfair barrier; the United States Government is forced to respond. Then the foreign government retaliates; then we respond, and so on. The pattern is exactly the one you see in those pie fights in the old Hollywood comedies: Everything and everybody just gets messier and messier. The difference here is that it’s not funny. It’s tragic. Protectionism becomes destructionism; it costs jobs.”

Emphasis added.

President Reagan understood the inherent dangers of trade protectionism. As Winston Churchill stated, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

A 21st TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSITANCE PROGRAM—A MODEST PROPOSAL

While in Washington DC two weeks ago to discuss the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program, I was told by senior aides in a position to know that Unions no longer favor trade adjustment assistance (“TAA”) and instead oppose the new trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership and Trans-Atlantic (TA)/ the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. As the senior aide also mentioned to me, in all likelihood, TPP and TTIP will go through eventually, but the Trade Adjustment Assistance Programs may die.

As readers of this newsletter know, I am on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance (“NWTAAC”). We provide trade adjustment assistance to companies that have been injured by imports.

As mentioned in previous newsletters, the Trade Adjustment for Firms (“TAAF”) program is the only Trade Program that works. In my over thirty years of experience in the international trade area, first in the US Government and later defending US importers and end user companies in antidumping cases, there is one overarching lesson that I have learned–protectionism simply does not work. US industries that cannot compete in global markets cannot run from global competition by bringing trade cases.

These cases simply fail to protect the domestic industry from import competition. In response to antidumping orders, Chinese furniture and tissue paper companies have moved to Vietnam, where labor rates are LOWER than China. While in private practice and later at the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) and Commerce Department, I watched Bethlehem Steel bring more than a hundred antidumping and countervailing duty cases against steel imports from various countries, receiving protection, in effect, from imports for more than 30 years. Where is Bethlehem Steel today? Green fields. When faced with import competition, it is simply too difficult to bring antidumping cases against all the countries in the world, which have lower priced production than the US.

With regards to trade adjustment assistance, however, there are two programs. The major trade adjustment assistance is the $1 billion program for employees/workers that have been injured by imports and the smaller $16 million TAAF program.   TAAF happened as an adjunct to TAA for Workers.

Congress started the TAA adjustment assistance programs in 1962 as part of the Trade Expansion Act and as a means of securing support for the Kennedy Round of multilateral trade negotiations. Trade Adjustment Assistance essentially was a tradeoff. If Unions and Workers would support trade liberalization, including free trade agreements, workers would be compensated because of the disruption caused by increased imports.

Many free market Republican types attack the TAA for workers as simply another entitlement that does not need to be paid and can be covered by other programs. In the early 1980s, President Reagan himself put in requirements to set up standards so that Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers would not simply be an open ended entitlement.

But my belief is that President Reagan indirectly approved the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Firms/Companies. Why? Jim Munn.

As stated in the attached 2002 obituary, JIM MUNN, Jim Munn was a famous criminal lawyer in Seattle and an early supporter and personal friend of Ronald Reagan. When I started to get involved in the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, I was told that the Center was in place because President Reagan himself asked Jim Munn to look into the program.

Both President Reagan and Jim Munn were firmly opposed to government interference in the marketplace. What did Jim Munn discover when he looked into the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Companies? It works. Jim Munn decided to head up NWTAAC for the next 22 years.

In the Workers program, TAA is provided at the state and local levels but overseen by the US Department of Labor. The reemployment services provided include counseling, resume-writing, job-search and referral assistance, travel costs for job searches, relocation allowance, training, income support while the worker is in training and a health coverage tax credit. Although the actual amount paid can be much less, the training itself is up to $22,500 per person, almost the amount given to each company. The rationale is that if an employee loses a job in trade impacted industry, the jobs in the industry are fewer and, therefore, the worker will need to be trained to do something else.

One question, however, is why the Unions do not want the TAA and simply want to oppose the trade agreements? One reason could be that TAA is after the workers have lost their jobs and the training may be for jobs that do not exist.

In contrast to TAA for workers, TAAF is provided by the Commerce Department to help companies adjust to import competition before there is a massive lay-off or closure. Yet the program does not interfere in the market or restrict imports in any way.

Total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $16 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget. Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.

The success of TAA for Firms is based on the fact that it focuses on the U.S. manufacturers, service companies and agricultural producing firms individually. The recovery strategy is custom-made for each firm. Once this strategy is approved by the Commerce Department, experts are hired to implement the strategy. The only interaction the program has with the imports is to verify that imports are “contributing importantly” to the sales and employment decline of the U.S. company.

Moreover, in contrast to other economic assistance programs, TAA for Firms is a long term assistance program, which monitors the companies and makes sure that the company succeeds in completing its trade adjustment assistance program that it has agreed to do. TAAF is focused on helping small and medium size enterprises as the support provided to the companies is only $75,000, which must be matched by the companies.

Although at first glance, free market advocates would not support this program, TAA for Firms works. We have published a cost/benefit analysis, which shows that nearly 80 percent of the firms it has assisted since 1984 are still in business. That is eight out of ten companies saved.

In the recent annual Commerce report on TAAF, which is posted on my blog, it is reported that all US companies that joined the program in 2011 were alive in 2013. If the company can be saved then most of the jobs at that company can be saved. In fact, the attached chart, shows that after entering the program, jobs have increased at the companies. TAAF Change in Employment 2009-13

One reason that TAAF may succeed so well is that small and medium enterprise often have a knowledge gap. Although the companies may hire consultants, many enterprises do not undertake the projects that change the essential economic circumstances of the business, such as lean manufacturing, quality system certification, new product development, or strategic marketing overhaul.

Most managers are not looking for solutions until there is a problem. For a small and medium enterprise, trade impact is one of those problems that require a solution. That solution will in nearly all cases entail outside expertise.

In a sense, TAAF is “retraining the company” so it never has to lose jobs, rather than waiting for the layoffs and retraining the individuals. This works because when companies lose out to trade, it’s like a tsunami hits them. Everything changes. Things the company thought they knew about their product, how to make it, and how to sell it, are no longer true. What they need is the knowledge and innovation to succeed in these new circumstances. That knowledge and innovation comes from the Center Staff and outside expertise – consultants and contractors. For each company, the Staff of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Center analyzes the needs of the firm, prepares a recovery strategy, facilitates the hiring of the outside consultant and then monitors the projects until completion. If the companies get to the right place in terms of product and market, they no longer have to lose out to imports. Instead they grow.

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) specifically targets these circumstances. TAAF is based on the recognition that trade impact leads to a knowledge gap in individual firms that is cured by innovation implemented through outside expertise.

TAAF offers qualified trade impacted firms a matching fund for outside expertise. It is a substantial fund, available over a long term, and highly flexible to meet the unique requirements of diverse firms. The cost of outside expertise would normally come as an exceptional operating expense, in other words, it would come from profit. But for a trade impacted small and medium enterprise that may be losing sales under severe price competition, profit is often in short supply.

TAAF offers access to the critical resource, outside expertise, at a time when the firm needs it the most and would be least prepared to acquire it. The exceptional results of the TAAF program all derive from this connection: trade disruption equals knowledge gap; knowledge gap overcome by innovation; innovation implemented through outside expertise, outside expertise enabled by TAAF. To learn more about the TAAF program, please see the website of NWTAAC, http://www.nwtaac.org.

TAA for workers/employees looks for the businesses that are laying off people and gets those people into a service stream. The idea is that imports increased, some people lost jobs, so retrain those people or get them into some other job situation.

In the alternative, TAAF looks for those businesses that are beginning to lose out in a trade impacted market and then works with those businesses to make them stronger so that they do not have to lay off people anymore, and, as happens in most cases, actually add jobs in time.

In talking with Republicans, although thinking that TAA for workers is simply another entitlement, when the TAAF program is described, they are much more interested.

But that brings us to the present problem. We have two TAA programs that are completely separate. One is the $1 billion program to retrain workers with applications made to the Department of Labor, and the other program is the TAAF program with applications made to Commerce Department. There is little interaction between the two programs and little is done by Commerce and Labor to facilitate such communication.

In the TAA for Workers program, because the companies have the data needed to approve the application, the Labor Department tells the companies that they need to provide data in a relatively short time to the Labor Department under threat of subpoena. Similar data is provided to the Commerce Department in the TAAF program, but the company is given weeks to submit the data.

To move the Trade Agreements forward, TAA for workers and TAA for firms need to be reworked and readjusted to make sure that the programs accomplish the objective of saving the jobs and the companies that are hurt by trade liberalization. There needs to be more coordination between the two programs.

One way to adjust the programs is put the TAA for Companies program first and give it more funding so it can help larger companies, such as Steel Companies, where more jobs are located. TAA for Companies could be used to create a program where the best of technologies and advisory services could be brought to bear to help US companies challenged by globalization and trade liberalization. The Worker program then comes afterwards, after the jobs have been lost. Data that is needed for the Worker program can be supplied as part of the Company program.

One interesting point is that when the Korean government examined the US Trade Adjustment Assistance programs, that government decided not to have a workers program, only a company program, to save the jobs before they are lost.

Legislators may ask where should the money to fund these programs come from? Every year the US government collects more than $1 billion in antidumping and countervailing duties. Although the WTO has determined that the antidumping and countervailing duties cannot be given to Petitioning companies that have filed for antidumping and countervailing duties, those duties could be used to help all companies and workers hurt by imports. The WTO allows countries to provide money to companies to adjust to import competition.

Congress needs to create a 21st Trade Adjustment Assistance Program so that support for the new trade agreements can be generated in the broad population. As indicated below, the TPP alone is predicted to increase economic activity by $1 trillion. With such a huge benefit, trade agreements will eventually go through and the question now is how can the US government help workers and companies adjust to the new competitive marketplace?

WHY MARKET ECONOMY IN ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST CHINA IS SO IMPORTANT FOR US IMPORTERS, US END USER PRODUCERS AND CHINESE COMPANIES

As stated in numerous past newsletters, market economy for China is important in antidumping cases because the Commerce Department has substantial discretion to pick surrogate values. As mentioned many times before, in contrast to Japan, Korea, Indonesia, India, Iran and almost every other country in the World, because China is not considered a market economy country in antidumping cases Commerce refuses to look at actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping. Instead Commerce takes consumption factors from the Chinese producer for all inputs used to produce the product in question, including raw materials, energy, and labor, and then goes to a Third Country to get values often from Import Statistics in third surrogate countries to value those consumption factors.  Commerce then constructs a “cost” for the Chinese company, which often has no relationship to the actual reality in China.

In the past Commerce looked for surrogate values in only one country, India, but now Commerce looks at numerous countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Bulgaria, Columbia, and Ukraine to name a few and uses import values in those countries to consctruct the cost.  Those import values and the surrogate country itself can change from annual review investigation to annual review investigation.

Thus, it is impossible for the Chinese company to know whether it is dumping because it cannot know which surrogate country and which surrogate value that Commerce will pick to value the consumption factors.  Since it is impossible for the Chinese company to know whether it is dumping, the US importer cannot know whether the Chinese company is dumping.

This is very important because as of February 2014, there were 121 Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders. 75 of those orders are for raw material products, such as metals, chemicals and steel, which go into downstream US production.

This point was recently reinforced by a Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) decision in the Garlic from China antidumping case. On September 10, 2014, in the attached Qingdao Sea-Line Trade Co., Ltd. v. United States, in affirming the Commerce Department’s determination in the Garlic case, CAFC OPINION GARLIC WHY MARKET ECONOMY SO IMPORTANT FROM CHINA, the CAFC stated:

“In an administrative review of a non-market economy, Commerce is required to calculate surrogate values for the subject merchandise using the “best available information.” 19 U.S.C. § 1677b(c)(1). Commerce has broad discretion to determine what constitutes the best available information, as this term is not defined by statute. Commerce generally selects, to the extent practicable, surrogate values that are publicly available, are product specific, reflect a broad market average, and are contemporaneous . . .

We also hold that Commerce may change its conclusions from one review to the next based on new information and arguments, as long as it does not act arbitrarily and it articulates a reasonable basis for the change. Indeed, the Trade Court has recognized that each administrative review is a separate exercise of Commerce’s authority that allows for different conclusions based on different facts in the record.”

Emphasis added.

Thus, the Commerce Department has broad discretion to determine surrogate countries and values and their choices can change from annual review investigation to annual review investigation, exposing US importers to millions of dollars in retroactive liability based on a process, which is inherently arbitrary, because Commerce does not look at actual prices and costs in China. Not only is there a problem with retroactive liability for US importers, US end user companies are often blocked from using the competitive Chinese raw material input, which, in turn, exposes the US downstream producers, such as foundries, automobile and chemical producers, to competition from Chinese companies and foreign companies that do have access to the lower cost raw materials.

Just like a toothpaste tube, when you squeeze to help one producer, you often hurt the downstream US producer. In other words, the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, rob Peter to pay Paul.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

This is why the Import Alliance for America is so important to US importers, US end user companies and also Chinese companies. 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.

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 the 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. The PowerPoint we used to describe the Import Alliance, the specific provisions in the US China WTO Agreement and the Trade War is attached.FINAL BEIJING IMPORT ALLIANCE POWERPOINT

TRADE

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT??—CORRECTION

POSSIBLE SCOPE EXPANSION TO INCLUDE PANELS PRODUCED IN CHINA AND TAIWAN FROM THIRD COUNTRY SOLAR CELLS

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%.

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.

Posted on my blog are the Commerce Department’s Factsheet, Federal Register notice, Issues and Decision memo from the Antidumping Preliminary Determination along with Commerce instructions to Customs in the Solar Products Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases, which will help importers understand what products are covered by this case. Also attached is the ITC scheduling notice for its final injury investigation in the Solar Products case. The ITC hearing is scheduled for December 8, 2014.

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

On the possibility of a suspension agreement in the New Solar Products case or a comprehensive agreement settling all the cases, however, there are indications of ongoing negotiations between the US and Chinese governments.  After being corrected, I checked the law again and the Commerce Department does not need consent from Solar World to go forward with a Suspension Agreement.  But they do need to consult with Solar World. There is no indication that Solar World has been consulted. Commerce is also required to issue a Federal Register notice requesting comments on an Agreement, but nothing so far.

Very recently, however, there have been indications that negotiations are ongoing between the US and Chinese governments in the Solar cases. The talks are confidential and Commerce has refused to even say whether it received a proposal from China for a suspension agreement.

But sources have reported that the two sides have had several meetings since August, when China said it was interested in negotiating a settlement in a public filing. This source said the frequency of these meetings provides at least some indication that there may be movement to finally resolve the solar trade cases.

But there is little time left to conclude an Agreement so the Solar Products case in all probability will go to final determination. Antidumping and countervailing duty orders will probably be issued and could be in place for 5 to 30 years. Chinese companies and US importers will simply then try and get around the situation by setting up production in third countries.

As a result of the Solar cases and the corresponding Polysilicon antidumping and countervailing duty case brought by the Chinese government against the United States, Washington State officials have told me that REC Silicon, which has the largest polysilicon production facility here in Moses Lake, Washington, is about to set up a joint venture in China to produce polysilicon in that country.

Meanwhile, the case moves on and expands.

In the attached October 3, 2014 memo, DOC MEMO, on its own motion Commerce has proposed to expand the scope of the Solar Products case to cover all panels produced in Taiwan and China from third country solar cells. As Commerce states in the October 3, 2014 memo, which will be posted on my blog:

“Interested parties have submitted comments on the scopes of the above-referenced antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations, including certain concerns about the scope’s administrability and enforcement. In response, the Department is considering the possibility of the scope clarification described below and is providing interested parties with an opportunity to submit comments. Currently, the scopes of the AD and CVD investigations of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the scope of the AD investigation of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from Taiwan contain the following language:

“For purposes of this investigation, subject merchandise includes modules, laminates and/or panels assembled in the subject country consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells that are completed or partially manufactured within a customs territory other than that subject country, using ingots that are manufactured in the subject country, wafers that are manufactured in the subject country, or cells where the manufacturing process begins in the subject country and is completed in a non-subject country.”

Specifically, we are considering a scope clarification that would make the following points:

For the PRC investigations, subject merchandise includes all modules, laminates and/or panels assembled in the PRC that contain crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells produced in a customs territory other than the PRC.

For the Taiwan investigation, subject merchandise includes all modules, laminates and/or panels assembled in Taiwan consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells produced in Taiwan or a customs territory other than Taiwan. In addition, subject merchandise will include modules, laminates, and panels assembled in a third- country, other than the PRC, consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells produced in Taiwan.”

Today October 16, 2014, on behalf of two importers that import solar panels with third country solar cells in it, we filed a brief to argue that a change this late in the Solar Products investigation expanding the products subject to investigation violates due process because of the lack of notice to US importers and Chinese exporter and producers.  The problem with changing the scope this late in the antidumping and countervailing investigation is that Commerce Department’s record is now closed and those Chinese companies that export solar panels with third country solar cells in them along with the US companies that import those products have no opportunity to prove that the Chinese companies are separate and independent from the Chinese goverment.  The Chinese companies, therefore, will automatically get an antidumping rate of 167%.

Moveover, the entire antidumping and countervailing duty proceeding at Commerce as well as the injury investigation at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) are based on the presmise that the products covered by this investigation are solely those solar panels that have solar cells wholly or partially produced in the subject countries, Taiwan or China.  If Commerce accepts the proposal, that will no longer the case.  The Solar Products cases will cover solar panels with third country solar cells in them when there is no specific determination at the Commerce Department that those solar panels with third country solar cells, in fact, were dumped or that the Chinese  companies producing those panels received subsidies and no determination at the ITC that the solar panels with third country solar cells in them caused injury to the US industy.

One reason that Commerce may have decided to expand the scope is because the AD and CVD orders will be difficult to administer and enforce. It will be difficult for Customs officials at the border to determine where the components of a solar cell in a particular panel from China or Taiwan originated.  But that is a problem with the scope in Solar World’s initial petition that it filed in this case.  Substantially changing the game at this stage in the proceedings raises enormous due process questions in this proceeding.

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

As mentioned in past newsletters, 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 become 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. Although Democratic Congressmen have expressed interest in the TPP, 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 newsletters, on January 29th, the day after President Obama pushed the TPA in his State of the Union speech in Congress, 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 this blog in the 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 17th, all Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to USTR Froman, which is posted on my blog, 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.

Recently, former USTR Ron Kirk in an opinion piece urged the negotiators to conclude an agreement without approval of the TPA. In discussing the situation with senior Republican aides in the US Congress, it was made clear that without TPA no TPP can be concluded. When asked about the Kirk statement, the response of one Republican aide recently was “I hope we are over that point.”

Now the story continues . . . .

On September 5th, it was reported that a coalition of unions and advocacy groups called on U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to make sure that public health programs are immune to challenges from powerful pharmaceutical firms under U.S. trade deals. The AFL-CIO, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, AARP and other groups in a letter to Froman, said that if an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism — or ISDS — is included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, it must contain a shield for Medicare, Medicaid and other government health initiatives. The groups fear that pharmaceutical companies could use the ISDS system to challenge regulations that state legislatures, Congress or administrative agencies use to manage drug costs in public programs.

On September 8th, it was reported that pork producers in seven countries put pressure on negotiators meeting in Vietnam for a session of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to resist a Japanese government proposal that would exempt certain sensitive food products from tariff cuts in the deal. Organizations representing hog farmers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Mexico and Chile circulated an open letter to negotiators reiterating that full tariff elimination is a core principle of the TPP and that Japan’s “unacceptable” proposal to carve out pork and other food products from tariff cuts would undermine the credibility of the deal now and in the future stating:

“A broad exemption for Japan will encourage other TPP countries to withhold market access concessions, backtrack on current offers, lower the ambition on rules language and possibly unravel the entire agreement. Additionally, it would set a dangerous precedent for the expansion of the TPP when other nations are likely to demand a Japan-type deal.

“We call on each of our governments to redouble their efforts to move Japan away from this untenable position. If Japan is unwilling to open its markets fully to our products, it should exit the negotiations so that the other nations can expeditiously conclude the negotiations.”

On September 10th, it was reported that the latest session of the TPP talks in Hanoi had wrapped up with officials reporting progress on the agreement’s chapters covering intellectual property, state-owned enterprises and labor as the TPP negotiators work to deliver a substantial outcome in time for a closely watched November 10-11 APEC summit in Beijing. Assistant USTR Barbara Weisel stated:

“We have committed to a focused work plan, which will allow us to boost momentum and make continued progress. All countries involved want to reach a conclusion to unlock the enormous opportunity TPP represents.”

Canadian and Vietnamese government officials issued similar statements.

Scheduling is significant as the 12 TPP nations are quickly approaching the November 10-11 summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Beijing, which President Barack Obama and others have indicated as a deadline for the partners to conclude the talks or at the very least announce a significant breakthrough on the major differences.

On September 29th, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) stated that he did not expect Congress to hold debate in the upcoming post-election lame-duck session on whether to give the White House the authority to expedite international trade pacts. At an appearance at the National Press Club, Hoyer stated that he did not see enough support to bring trade promotion authority, or TPA, to the House floor.

Although some House Republicans had expressed interest in trying to move TPA during the lame duck session, when the political fallout from opponents would be less, Hoyer stated:

“I don’t think right now there is the consensus, in either party, to bring that forward. I doubt seriously, as I said, that we’re going consider trade legislation.”

On September 25, 2014, it was reported that top Japanese and US trade officials had closed a two day meeting in Washington DC without resolving any key differences regarding agriculture or automobiles in the TPP Talks. A meeting between U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Japanese TPP czar Akira Amari resulted only in a brief statement from the U.S. side saying that the nations’ key differences still remain.

The USTR stated, that “While there were constructive working level discussions over the weekend, we were unable to make further progress on the key outstanding issues.” The failure of Froman and Amari to bridge the considerable gaps on food and automotive trade remains a significant barrier to the likelihood of a significant outcome in the broader 12-nation TPP talks in time for an Asia-Pacific summit in November 10-11 in Beijing, China.

On October 1, 2104, the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee circulated the attached e-mail, WAYS AND MEANS WASH POST, with an editorial from the Washington Post on the Trans Pacific Partnership and the need to reinvigorate the process. The House Ways and Means e-mail states:

“Momentum for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Needs to be Revived

By The Editorial Board

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed free-trade agreement that will knit the United States and 11 nations of South America, North America and Asia more closely together, while providing a geopolitical counterweight to a rising China. The pact would be especially valuable because Japan is willing to join, which would require a long-overdue opening and restructuring of its protected but lackluster economy. Indeed, without Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, the TPP loses much of its strategic significance.

So it was disappointing to learn that a Sept. 24 meeting between American and Japanese trade negotiators in Washington broke up after only an hour over the same old issue, Japanese resistance to U.S. farm exports that has plagued the two nations’ dealings for decades. The Japanese departed without touching a sandwich buffet that had been laid out in anticipation of an extended working session, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This is only the latest troubling development for the centerpiece of what was once meant to be President Obama’s foreign policy “pivot” to Asia.  As 2014 began, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was promising to join the U.S.-led free-trade agreement as a spur to his own structural economic reforms. A bipartisan, bicameral group of senior U.S. lawmakers had agreed on a plan for “fast track” legislative authority to expedite a congressional vote on the TPP, once the 12 would-be members hammered out a final deal. Bucking resistance from trade skeptics in his own party, Mr. Obama had offered a friendly reference to that proposal in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28.

But Mr. Obama’s call was received coolly by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and by key Democratic constituencies such as organized labor. Foreign crises in the Middle East and Ukraine occupied the White House and Congress. Two champions of the bipartisan trade promotion measure, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), retired or planned to retire from Congress.

For all of Mr. Abe’s talk of bold steps and confronting special interests in Japan, his negotiators have not yet backed up the prime minister’s talk with concrete proposals, even though the prime minister has said repeatedly that opening agricultural markets is in Japan’s interest. The upshot is that momentum behind the TPP seems to be flagging and the administration’s goal of a tentative agreement by the end of 2014 is looking less feasible.

Vice President Biden tried to patch things up with Mr. Abe in a meeting on Friday, which produced a boilerplate pledge to seek an agreement. It will take more than that to revive the momentum for the TPP and close a deal. Back home, Mr. Abe needs to keep the pressure on special interests. Congress could reciprocate by moving ahead promptly with fast-track authority during the post-election lame-duck period — which will take political courage on its part, too.”

On October 2, 2014, it was reported that the Australian Government has agreed to host a meeting of the TPP trade ministers at the end of October to deal with the outstanding issues regarding intellectual property, agricultural market access, state-owned enterprises and other areas as negotiators race to close major parts of the pact by year’s end. The three day meeting will start in Sydney being Oct. 25, with the hope that the 12 TPP partners can seal the “basic elements of the agreement” before the end of the year.

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 is 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.

TTIP—FREE TRADE AGREEEMENT WITH EU

Meanwhile, trade negotiators for the US and the European Union announced on Friday, October 3rd that the seventh round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership had wrapped up with reports of steady progress on chapters covering trade in services as well as regulations covering automobiles, chemicals and food safety. Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Dan Mullaney, the lead U.S. TTIP negotiator, stated:

“As this painstaking work of building a foundation for an agreement is completed, we will need to make a high-level push to achieve the comprehensive and ambitious results that we are now working to support. That will require a shared commitment at the highest levels on both sides of the Atlantic to move forward quickly.”

INDIA STILL 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 as a result of food security initiatives.

On September 22, 2014, Director General Roberto Azevedo of the WTO warned that a deadlock on the multilateral body’s implementation of a modest trade-facilitation agreement could impose a “freezing effect” on the WTO’s work in other areas. The Director General stated:

“Many areas of our work may suffer a freezing effect, including the areas of greatest interest to developing countries, such as agriculture. All negotiations mandated in Bali, such as the one to find a permanent solution for the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes, may never even happen if members fail to implement each and every part of the Bali Package, including the trade facilitation agreement.”

Azevedo restated what he has said in the past that India and the developing countries’ concerns on food security have been addressed in the Bali package, which extended a “safe harbor” period prohibiting challenges against the controversial programs while committing to hold talks to find a permanent fix.

Azevedo stated:

“Failing to agree on new rules for twenty years is a very disturbing record. Considerably graver than that is not being able to implement what has been finally agreed only a few months earlier. The question that WTO members are trying to answer is not whether members can ensure their food security but rather under which commonly agreed disciplines they can implement policies to achieve this goal without further distorting trade or aggravating the food insecurity of third countries.”

On September 30th, however, in his first meeting with President Obama, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reaffirmed his government’s position in the ongoing fight to implement a World Trade Organization trade facilitation pact, linking his support for the deal to action on food security issues. Modi made clear that India is not backing down from the push to shield its food security programs from legal challenges, which led the WTO to miss the July 31 deadline to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

After the meeting with President Obama, Modi tweeted that “We had an open discussion on WTO issue. We support trade facilitation, but a solution that takes care of our food security must be found.” Speaking to reporters through a translator alongside Obama, Modi also said he believed it would be possible to resolve the impasse “soon.”

On September 29th, the WTO cited little progress following a Sept (PCTF) meeting, nearly two months after the advance the trade facilitation plan over concerns related to India’s food safety demands.

On October 1st, at the WTO’s 2014 public forum, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the World Trade Organization to overcome its internal fights and reach a deal on new global trade rules, including the Trade Facilitation Agreement, warning that the rise of regional trade pacts could undermine the WTO and leave developing nations way behind. Secretary General Ban said that the WTO’s mission to eliminate trade barriers is a key driver of the UN’s own initiatives to promote global development. He called for a renewed commitment to the long-stalled Doha round of trade negotiations. Ban said:

“Trade can — and should — benefit everyone. That is why the international community needs to avoid protectionism. We need an open, fair, rules-based and development-oriented international trading regime in the spirit of the Doha Development Round.”

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo also spoke at the forum:

“Trade has become a matter of headlines and high politics once again.  Now, more than ever, our work here has the potential to touch the lives of almost everyone on this planet.”

TIRES FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE

Led by Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, 31 Democratic US Senators wrote the attached letter, 31 DEMOCRATIC SENATORS BACK TIRES CASE, to Secretary Penny Pritzker of the Commerce Department in support of the Tires case from China. The 31 Senators stated:

“We are writing in strong support of the Department’s decision to initiate antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of passenger vehicle and light truck tires from China.

As you well know, China has targeted the passenger vehicle and light truck tire sector for development and there are several hundred tire manufacturing facilities now operating in that country. In 2009, the United Steelworkers (USW) filed a Section 421 petition seeking relief from a flood of similar tires from China that were injuring our producers and their workers. That petition was successful and the relief that was provided helped to restore market conditions. Employment stabilized and companies producing here invested billions of dollars in new plant and equipment.

Unfortunately, shortly after relief expired, imports of these tires from China once again skyrocketed. Since the Section 421 relief ended in 2012, imports from China have roughly doubled. In response, on June 3, 2014, the United Steelworkers (USW) filed petitions with the Department alleging dumping and subsidies. The Steelworkers’ petitions identified dumping margins as high as 87.99 percent and provided sufficient information for the Department to initiate an investigation on 39 separate subsidies available to tire producers in China.

Our laws need to be fairly and faithfully enforced to ensure that workers – our constituents – can be confident that, when they work hard and play by the rules, their government will stand by their side to fight foreign predatory trade practices. Thousands of workers across the country are employed in this sector, making the best tires available.

America’s laws against unfair trade are a critical underpinning of our economic policies and economic prosperity. Given the chance, American workers can out-compete anyone. But, in the face of China’s continual targeting of our manufacturing base, we need to make sure that we act quickly and enforce our laws. That is what we are asking and urge you and your Department carefully analyze the facts and act to restore fair conditions for trade.”

Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina is in a tough reelection fight, which led to her effort to support her constituent, the Union and the Goodyear plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

TOUGHER TRADE LAWS??

On Wednesday October 1, 2014, in the attached press release, BROWN, Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio announced at Byer Steel Group, a US rebar producer, in Cincinnati new legislation that would help level the playing field for American manufacturers by strengthening the ability of the U.S. to crack down on unfair foreign competition resulting from violations of trade law. Senator Brown stated:

“As American manufacturing continues its steady comeback, it is critical that we fully enforce our trade laws to ensure that American companies – like Byer Steel – can compete on a level playing field. That’s why the Leveling the Playing Field Act is so important. We must fight back against foreign companies’ efforts to weaken our trade laws and exploit loopholes. And that’s exactly what the Leveling the Playing Field Act does. I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to get this bill passed.”

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

CIRCUMVENTION OF ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS ORDER??

As a follow up to the May 8th letter by Senator Mitch McConnell reported in my last newsletter, on August 14th, Senator Orrin Hatch sent the attached letter, HATCH LETTER ALUMINUM, to Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement & Compliance, at the Commerce Department, expressing his concerns of circumvention of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders on Aluminum Extrusions. In the letter, Senator Hatch stated:

“Futura Industries and its 327 employees based in Clearfield, Utah is among the U.S. companies affected by the Chinese products found to be dumped and subsidized. I understand that the Department is currently conducting two scope inquiries related to imports of 5000-series alloy aluminum extrusions in place of the 6000-series alloy aluminum extrusions to which the orders apply. I urge you to apply all applicable laws and regulations in making the Department’s scope rulings.”

On August 19th, Congressman Sessions sent a similar attached letter, SESSIONS LTR, to Assistant Secretary Paul Piquado on behalf of his constituent Texas Western Extrusions Corporation and its 700 employees expressing deep concern by recent reports of unfair trade practices from China in exporting the 5000-series alloy aluminum extrusions that once again are “threatening Texas jobs.

On September 8, 2014, it was reported that numerous members of Congress have urged the U.S. Department of Commerce to rule that the so-called “5000 series” of extrusions currently being shipped into the U.S. should be covered by the aluminum extrusions antidumping and countervailing orders.

On September 4, 2014, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance Paul Piquado in the attached letter, ALUMINUN COMMERCE RESPONSE, to the lawmakers assured them that the agency is “committed to the robust enforcement of the trade remedy laws” to help provide U.S. firms and workers the opportunity to “compete on a level playing field.” The Assistant Secretary also stated that his office is aiming to reach a decision in its probes by Oct. 8.

STEEL WIRE ROD FROM CHINA PRELIMINARY ANTIDUMPING DETERMINATION

On September 2, 2014, in the attached factual statement,  factsheet-prc-carbon-alloy-steel-wire-rod-ad-prelim-090214, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping duty (AD) investigation of imports of carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod from the People’s Republic of China (China).  Since the Chinese companies failed to respond to the Commerce Department’s questionnaire, they received a preliminary dumping margin of 110.25 percent with the separate rate steel companies receiving a preliminary dumping rate of 106.19 percent.

CAFC AFFIRMS THE IMPORTANCE OF SEPARATE RATES FOR CHINESE EXPORTERS AS OPPOSED TO PRODUCERS

On September 10, 2014, in the attached Michaels Stores, Inc. v. United States case, CAFC MICHAELS CHINESE EXPORTERS NEED TO GET THEIR OWN RATE, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) restated the importance of Chinese exporters, including trading companies, getting their own antidumping rates and that the importer, in fact, confirm that the Chinese exporter has a separate rate. In the case, Michaels, a US importer, assumed that the since the Chinese producer had an antidumping rate, that rate applied to the Chinese exporter. Not true. As the CAFC stated:

“Indeed, it has been Commerce’s policy since 1991 to apply a country-wide rate to all exporters doing business in the PRC unless the exporter (not the manufacturer) establishes de jure and de facto independence from state control in an administrative review proceeding. . . . This court has endorsed this presumption on multiple occasions. . . .

Michaels has not demonstrated that Commerce’s interpretations of the regulation in practice are plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation. Because a noncombination rate for the exporter was established as the PRC-wide rate of 114.90%, Michaels could not rely on its producer rates as a substitute. Were we to conclude otherwise, Michaels could circumvent its antidumping obligations by buying pencils from a state-controlled exporter at a discounted price and then use the antidumping rate associated with its non-state controlled manufacturer.”

OCTOBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On October 1, 2014, Commerce published in the Federal Register the attached notice, OCT REVIEWS, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of October. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Barium Carbonate, Barium Chloride, Electrolytic Manganese Dioxide, Helical Spring Lock Washers, Polyvinyl Alcohol, and Steel Wire Garment Hangers. No countervailing duty cases were listed

For those US import companies that imported Electrolytic Manganese Dioxide, Helical Spring Lock Washers, Polyvinyl Alcohol, and Steel Wire Garment Hangers and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period October 1, 2013-September 30, 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

This is a very important month for US importers because administrative reviews determine how much US importers actually owe in Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases. Generally, the US industry will request a review of all Chinese companies. If a Chinese company does not respond in the Commerce Department’s Administrative Review, its antidumping and countervailing duty rate could well go to the highest level and for certain imports the US importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

In my experience, many US importers do not realize the significance of the administrative review investigations. They think the antidumping and countervailing duty case is over because the initial investigation is over. Many importers are blindsided because their Chinese supplier did not respond in the administrative review, and the US importers find themselves liable for millions of dollars in retroactive liability. Recently in the Shrimp from China antidumping case, for example, almost 100 Chinese exporters were denied a separate antidumping rate.

DUELING US AND CHINA WTO APPEALS

As mentioned in the prior post, on July 14, 2014, in a decision and summary, which is posted on my blog, 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 a notice of appeal at the WTO with regards to the remaining cases, followed by the US notice of appeal on August 27th.

Both appeals are taking issue with the initial WTO panel’s finding on the uses of all facts available (“AFA”) in countervailing duty cases against China. Commerce based its AFA determinations on the failure of the Chinese government to provide adequate information to Commerce to make a determination on certain programs of the Chinese government.

In the initial panel ruling, while the US won on China’s challenge to AFA findings, the US lost on several other issues, including the Commerce Department’s use of out of China benchmarks to measure the subsidies and the Commerce Department determination that every state-owned company, in fact, is part of the Chinese government, even if it does not function as a governmental entity. In the initial panel decision, the WTO panel determined that Commerce’s decision to automatically find that state owned enterprises (SOEs) to be part of the government and “public” bodies, which therefore constituted “government involvement” in the market, was a violation of the Countervailing Duty Agreement. The US did not appeal this decision by the WTO initial panel and, therefore, is final and a loss for the US government.

The US alleges that Chinese government made procedural errors in appealing the cases to the WTO, including the failure to specify which AFA determinations were being appealed. The initial panel ruling rejected the US argument stating, “While we have some sympathy for the United States’ position, namely that more detail could have been provided in the panel request regarding what in particular about the manner in which the United States resorted to and used facts available is allegedly inconsistent with Article 12.7 of the SCM Agreement, we are not convinced that Article 6.2 of the DSU requires this,”

During the panel proceedings, China had argued that because Commerce cannot automatically assume that State Owned Enterprises/Companies are public bodies for the purposes of Article 1.1(a)(1), it should also not automatically assume that market conditions are distorted just because a State-Owned Company is involved in the marketplace. The initial panel decision, however, did not directly address this issue raised by the Chinese government and is now being appealed by China. The initial panel stated:

“In our view, some determinations are based on the market share of government-owned/controlled firms in domestic production alone, others on adverse facts available, others on the market share of the government plus the existence of low level of imports and/or export restraints.”

China is also asking on appeal that the WTO overturn the panel’s finding affirming the Commerce Department’s methodology for determining whether a subsidy is specific to an enterprise or group of enterprises within a certain region.

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 notice and the relevant pages of the petition are attached.  STEEL SHELVING SHORT PETITION ITC PRELIMINARY NOTICE

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

On September 3, 2014, I spoke in Vancouver Canada on the US Sanctions against Russia, which are substantial, at an event sponsored by Deloitte Tax Law and the Canadian, Eurasian and Russian Business Association (“CERBA”). Attached are copies of the powerpoint for the speech and a description of our Russian/Ukrainian/Latvian Trade Practice for US importers and exporters.  US SANCTIONS RUSSIA RUSSIAN TRADE PRACTICE

There is a great deal of confusion and uncertainty surrounding business with Russian companies. As sanctions continue to expand against Russia, any company interested in doing business with Russia must constantly check the regulations and hire legal counsel. Every single transaction with Russian entities is a potential target of the sanctions, and, therefore, any US company interested in doing business with Russia must be extremely vigilant. The US regulations mirror regulations in Canada and the EU, but there are differences.

There are two groups of US regulations. The most powerful regulations are administered by Treasury—Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). A second group of regulations have been issued by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) blocking exports of certain energy-sector technologies.

With regards to the sanctions administered by OFAC, US Presidential Executive Orders 13660, 13661, and 13662 define how U.S. Government will identify targets of sanctions (e.g., financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense sectors and government agencies and officials).

The specific OFAC regulations regarding Ukraine are set forth in 31 CFR 589 –”Blocking”/“Asset Freezing” sanctions prohibiting transactions with specific persons and entities. Attached are the Ukraine regulations, UKRAINE RELATED SANCTIONS REGULATIONS, but they do change as the sanctions evolve.

Pursuant to the OFAC regulations, U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting transactions, dealings, or business with Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDNs). A US person must also block the property or interest in property of SDNs that they hold or that is located in the United States. The blocked persons list can be found at http://sdnsearch.ofac.treas.gov/. See also:   www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/programs/pages/ukraine.aspx . The list includes the Russian company, United Shipbuilding, and a number of Russian Banks, including Bank Rossiya, SMP Bank, Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank OAO, Russian Agricultural Bank, VEB, and VTB Bank.

When such SDN property is blocked, it must be reported to OFAC within 10 days, and cannot be dealt in by U.S. persons without prior authorization from OFAC.  Civil penalties are up to $250,000 or 2x transaction value, per violation (strict liability regime); criminal fine up to $1 million, and/or up to 20 years in prison.

On July 29, 2014, OFAC issued a new “Sectoral Sanctions Identification List” (the “SSI List”) that identifies specific Russian persons and entities covered by these sectoral sanctions. See www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/pages/ssi_list.aspx. U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in certain transactions with persons and entities on the SSI List, but are not required to “freeze” or “block” property or interests in property of such persons and entities as if they were SDNs.

Specifically U.S. persons are prohibited from:

“transacting in, providing financing for, or otherwise dealing in new debt of longer than 90 days maturity or new equity for these persons … their property, or their interests in property. All other transactions with these persons or involving any property in which one or more of these persons has an interest are permitted, provided such transactions do not otherwise involve property or interests in property of a person blocked pursuant to Executive Orders 13660, 13661, or 13662, or any other sanctions programs implemented by the Office of Foreign Assets Control [i.e., an SDN]”

General OFAC policy restrictive measures apply automatically to any entity owned 50% or more by SDN, even if the entity is not specifically named as SDN.

Even if company is not on SDN/SSI list, a US company wishing to do a transaction with a Russian company needs to determine in writing whether the company is 50% or more owned by any SDN or controlled by an SDN. As OFAC has stated in its announcement:

“U.S. persons are advised to act with caution when considering a transaction with a non-blocked entity in which one or more blocked persons has a significant ownership interest that is less than 50 percent or which one or more blocked persons may control by means other than a majority ownership interest”

Thus companies or persons on the SSI list may become named SDNs in the future. SSI and SDN Lists are not static but evolving. Lists will likely expand and have expanded based on Russian behavior in Ukraine. Everything could change overnight. Do not rely on a dated list. Keep checking.

www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/pages/ssi_list.aspx

The regulations are extremely complicated and nothing is straight forward. Thus, each transaction with a Russian company must be examined closely in detail and will be very fact specific. The devil in these regs is definitely in the details.

The US and EU sanctions also are affecting the Russian economy as indicated by the fact that VTB, Russia’s second-largest bank, sold 214 billion rubles ($5.4 billion) worth of preferred shares to Russia’s finance ministry because the sanctions have made it more difficult for the Bank to borrow overseas.

Meanwhile on August 6, 2014, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued new sanctions blocking exports of certain energy-sector technologies. Commerce will now require an export license for items used in deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects to produce oil or gas in Russia. Items subject to a license denial under the rule include drilling rigs, horizontal drilling parts, drilling and completion equipment, and subsea processing equipment. Commerce issued no savings clause, which means if the items are on a freighter on the way to Russia, they have to be called back.

On September 11, 2014, the US and the European Union announced new restrictions on Russian access to capital market. The new sanctions target Russian financial, energy and defense companies and make it more difficult to make loans to the five Russian state-owned banks, by tightening debt financing restrictions by reducing the maturity period of the new debt issued by those institutions from 90 days to 30 days. The companies targeted in the new round of OFAC sanctions include OAO Gazprom, Roseneft, Lukoil OAO, pipeline operator, Transneft, and Rostec, a Russian institution dealing in industrial technology products, along with the nation’s largest financial institution, Sberbank of Russia.

OFAC also added another set of Commerce export restrictions on certain oil development technologies by broadening the scope of the items that are banned and adding Gazprom, Lukoil and three other energy firms to the list of specifically banned export destinations.

Treasury stated:

“Today’s step … will impede Russia’s ability to develop so-called frontier or unconventional oil resources, areas in which Russian firms are heavily dependent on U.S. and western technology. While these sanctions do not target or interfere with the current supply of energy from Russia or prevent Russian companies from selling oil and gas to any country, they make it difficult for Russia to develop long-term, technically challenging future projects.”

These new sanctions come close to cutting off entire sectors of the Russian economy.  In practice, U.S. financial institutions will likely treat any transaction with a listed bank as a rejection. The new measures materially restrict access to American and European debt markets for the targeted financial institutions and defense firms.  The U.S. actions now bar affected Russian institutions from the American debt markets for loans over 30 days, meaning that while they will still be able to conduct day-in, day-out business with overnight loans, it will be significantly harder to finance medium- and long-term activity.

The sanctions have already had an impact on oil projects. On September 19, 2014 ExxonMobil announced that it is stopping work on an offshore oil well in the Arctic Ocean it is jointly developing with Russian oil giant OAO Rosneft in order to comply with the escalating sanctions.

In addition to the OFAC and Commerce sanctions against Russia, on July 18, 2014 a massive arbitration award was issued by arbitral tribunal in The Hague under Permanent Court of Arbitration. The Court unanimously held that the Russian Federation breached its international obligations under the Energy Charter Treaty by destroying Yukos Oil Company and Yukos shareholders and awarded the shareholders $50 billion.

There is now a legal search for Russian Federation assets to pay off the award. Yukos lawyers will be able to enforce the arbitration award in any of the 150 countries bound by the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

CUSTOMS

TREK LEATHER—WHEN ARE OWNERS LIABLE FOR DUTIES OWED BY COMPANIES AS IMPORTERS OF RECORD

On September 16, 2014, in the attached United States v. Trek Leather, Inc. case, CAFC TREK LEATHER DECISION, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in an “en banc” decision made by all the judges in the CAFC held that the President of an importing company may be held personally liable for submitting false information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

In the decision, the entire CAFC reversed the earlier panel’s determination that only the importer of record could be liable for penalties, not the owner of the company.  Prior to the decision, importers assumed that the owner could be personally liable only if Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) pierced the corporate veil of the import company.  In this case, however, the CAFC found the owner, Shadadpuri, himself liable for gross negligence for submitting documentation to CBP that understated the value of more than 70 imports of men’s suits in 2004, even though only the company, and not its president, was listed as the importer of record.

As the CAFC stated:

“Recognizing that a defendant is a “person,” of course, is only the first step in determining liability for a violation of either of the subparagraphs. What is critical is the defendant’s conduct. The two subparagraphs of section 1592(a)(1) proscribe certain acts and omissions. . . .

What Mr. Shadadpuri did comes within the commonsense, flexible understanding of the “introduce” language of section 1592(a)(1)(A). He “imported men’s suits through one or more of his companies.” . . . .While suits invoiced to one company were in transit, he “caused the shipments of the imported merchandise to be transferred” to Trek by “direct[ing]” the customs broker to make the transfer. . . . Himself and through his aides, he sent manufacturers’ invoices to the customs broker for the broker’s use in completing the entry filings to secure release of the merchandise from CBP custody into United States commerce. . . . By this activity, he did everything short of the final step of preparing the CBP Form 7501s and submitting them and other required papers to make formal entry. He thereby “introduced” the suits into United States commerce.

Applying the statute to Mr. Shadadpuri does not require any piercing of the corporate veil.  Rather, we hold that Mr. Shadadpuri’s own acts come within the language of subparagraph (A).  It is longstanding agency law that an agent who actually commits a tort is generally liable for the tort along with the principal, even though the agent was acting for the principal. . . . That rule applies, in particular, when a corporate officer is acting for the corporation. . . .

We see no basis for reading section 1592(a)(1)(A) to depart from the core principle, reflected in that background law, that a person who personally commits a wrongful act is not relieved of liability because the person was acting for another. . . . That is as far as we go or need to go in this case. We do not hold Mr. Shadadpuri liable because of his prominent officer or owner status in a corporation that committed a subparagraph (A) violation.  We hold him liable because he personally committed a violation of subparagraph (A).”

ACTIVATED CARBON—THE IMPORTANCE OF DEADLINES WHEN APPEALING FROM CUSTOMS LIQUIDATIONS

On September 8, 2014, the Court of International Trade in the attached Carbon Activated Corp. v. United States case, CARBON ACTIVATED CORP PROTEST FAILS, dismissed the appeal finding that the Court did not have jurisdiction because of missed deadlines. As the Court stated:

“Here, subsection (a) would have been available to Plaintiff because the correct avenue for challenges to liquidations is first to lodge a protest with Customs within 180 days of the liquidation and then to challenge any denial of that protest in this court. . . . Plaintiff filed a protest but it did so three years after the alleged erroneous liquidation. It is established that “a remedy is not inadequate simply because [a party] failed to invoke it within the time frame it prescribes.” . . .Accordingly, Plaintiff had an adequate remedy for its alleged erroneous liquidation, but it lost that remedy because its protest was untimely, not because the remedy was inadequate.

It is a tenet of customs law that the importer has a duty to monitor liquidation of entries. . . . Plaintiff concedes this point. . . Therefore Plaintiff’s claim that it “was first made aware [in June 2012] that these three entries had been erroneously liquidated as entered in April and May of 2008” is insufficient to extend the statute of limitations. . . . Plaintiff has the duty to monitor the liquidation of its entries, and a statutory remedy is in place to challenge any erroneous liquidations for a diligent importer who complies with this duty. Plaintiff’s failure to pursue that remedy in a timely manner does not fall under the rubric of “manifestly inadequate” and therefore Plaintiff cannot invoke subsection (i) jurisdiction in this case.”

FALSE CLAIMS ACT

In the attached false claims act case, PIPES FCA CASE, on September 4, 2014, in United States of America: Civil Action ex rel. Customs Fraud Investigations v. Vitaulic Company, a Federal District Court dismissed a false claims act case ruling there wasn’t enough evidence supporting allegations the pipe fittings manufacturer knowingly filed false documents to evade U.S. customs duties.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

There have been developments at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) in 337 cases and patent area.

SANCTIONS AGAINST UPI SEMICONDUCTOR

On September 25, 2014, the CAFC in the attached UPI Semiconductor Corp. v. United States, UPI SEMICONDUCTORS CAFC DECISION, affirmed a decision of the US International Trade Commission to impose penalties on UPI for violation of a consent order in a 337 patent case. The CAFC stated:

“Before the court are the appeal of respondent intervenor UPI Semiconductor Corp. (“UPI”) and the companion appeal of complainant-intervenors Richtek Technology Corp. and Richtek USA, Inc. (together “Richtek”) from rulings of the International Trade Commission in an action to enforce a Consent Order, Certain DC-DC Controllers and Products Containing Same, Inv. No. 337-TA-698 (75 Fed. Reg. 446). We affirm the Commission’s ruling that UPI violated the Consent Order as to the imports known as “formerly accused products,” and affirm the modified penalty for that violation. We reverse the ruling of no violation as to the “post-Consent Order” products. The case is remanded for further proceedings in accordance with our rulings herein.”

MADE IN THE USA—FTC AND FALSE ADVERTISING PROBLEM

On October 1, 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Made in US requirement has escalated because of stricter requirements by the State of California. FTC guidelines state that an unqualified “Made in USA” label can go on any goods that are “all or virtually all” made domestically in the United States, but the words “virtually all” are open to interpretation based on the specific facts of the case.

But California has stricter guidelines than the FTC requiring the entire product to be made in the US. If even one small part of a product is foreign, California state law says calling the product “Made in the USA” amounts to false advertising. This law has provoked a number of consumer/class action lawsuits filed in California against US manufacturers.

As one example, a maker of helium tanks designed to be used at children’s parties was sued because it started packing imported balloons with the equipment. In another case, a California company was sued because it produces Maglite flashlights that use imported small rubber rings and light bulbs from abroad.

The California law was passed in 1961 to shield domestic producers from competitors who might get a pricing edge by using large amounts of cheap imported parts to manufacture goods labeled “Made in USA.” The problem is that it has become increasingly difficult to avoid using at least some imported content in a US product.

SECTION 337 COMPLAINTS

NEW 337 COMPLAINT AGAINST FOOTWARE PRODUCTS FROM CHINA

Today, October 14th, Converse Inc. filed a new 337 IP case against footware products/sneakers from China for infringement of Converse’s registered and common law trademarks.  Relevant parts of the petition are attached.  LONG 337 FOOTWEAR PETITION The ITC notice of the petition is set forth below.

Docket No: 3034

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: V. James Adduci, II

Firm/Org: Adduci, Mastriani and Schaumberg

Behalf Of: Converse Inc.

Date Received: October 14, 2014

Commodity: Footwear Products

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 Footwear Products . The proposed respondents are: Skechers U.S.A., Inc., Manhattan Beach, CA; Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, AR; A-List, Inc., d/b/a Kitson, Los Angeles, CA; Aldo Group, Canada; Brian Lichtenberg, LLC, Los Angeles, CA; Cmerit USA, Inc., d/b/a Gotta Flurt, Chino, CA; Dioniso SRL, Italy; Edamame Kids, Inc., Canada; Esquire Footwear, LLC, New York, NY; FILA U.S.A., Inc., Sparks, MD; Fortune Dynamic, Inc., City of Industry, CA; Gina Group, LLC, New York, NY; H & M Hennes & Mauritz LP, New York, NY; Highline United LLC d/b/a Ash Footwear USA, New York, NY; Hitch Enterprises Pty Ltd d/b/a Skeanie Unit 3, Australia; Iconix Brand Group, Inc., d/b/a Ed Hardy, New York, NY; Kmart Corporation, Hoffman Estates, IL; Mamiye Imports LLC d/b/a Lilly of New York, Brooklyn, NY; Nowhere Co., Ltd. d/b/a Bape, Japan; OPPO Original Corp., City of Industry, CA; Orange Clubwear, Inc., d/b/a Demonia Deviant, Westminster, CA; Ositos Shoes, Inc., d/b/a Collection’O, South El Monte,CA; PW Shoes Inc., Maspeth, NY; Ralph Lauren Corporation, New York, NY; Shenzhen Foreversun Industrial Co., Ltd (a/k/a Shenzhen Foreversun Shoes Co., Ltd), China; Shoe Shox., Seattle, Washington; Tory Burch LLC, New York, NY; Zulily, Inc., Seattle, Washington; Fujian Xinya I & E Trading Co., Ltd., China; Zhejiang Ouhai International Trade Co., Ltd., China; and Wenzhou Cereals Oils & Foodstuffs Foreign Trade Co., Ltd., China.

Status: Pending Institution

On the same day that Converse filed the section 337 case, it also filed the attached trademark complaint for damages in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn.  CONVERSE FOOTWEAR FED CT COMPLAINT

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.

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.

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.

PATENT AND IP CASES IN GENERAL

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE AND TAIWAN COMPANIES

On September 23, 2014, BASF Corp. filed a patent infringement case against SNF Holding Company, Flopam Inc., Chemtall Inc., SNF SAS, SNF (China) Flocculant Co., Ltd. BASF

On October 6, 2014, Hewlett-Packard Co. filed a patent case against Ninestar Image Tech Ltd., Ninestar Technology, Co., Ltd. and Apex Microelectronics Co., Ltd. for infringement of HP’s patents on printer cartridges. Ninestar is located in Shenzhen and has been the target of a section 337 patent case involving similar technology. NINESTAR NEW PATENT CASE

On September 2, 2014, Cephalon, Inc. filed a patent infringement case for drugs against Nang Kuang Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. in Taiwan and Canda NK-1, LLC. TAIWAN GENERIC DRUGS

Complaints are attached above.

CHINESE PATENT CASES

In the attached report in English and Chinese, ACTUAL ABA COMMENTS CHINESE AND ENGLISH, the American Bar Association (“ABA”) ABA antitrust, intellectual property and international law sections raised concerns on judicial interpretations from China’s highest court regarding certain patent infringement trial issues, concerns about some proposed claims rules and also other patent issues.

One concern is that under the drafted requirement, when there are two or more claims in a patent, a patent holder would be required to specify the infringed claim in the complaint, according to the comments. But if the owner doesn’t point out which claim is infringed, the court would presume all of the independent claims were alleged to be infringed. The ABA sections, however, said that such a requirement might “deter meritorious claims” particularly because the infringement details might be controlled by the alleged infringer.

Finally, the ABA sections are also concerned about the Chinese draft that appeared to impose compulsory licensing obligations when having an accused infringer stop practicing the relevant patents would either harm the public interest or cause a “serious interest imbalance between the parties.”

Recently US companies have argued that China has made it more difficult for US owners of pharmaceutical patents to provide supplemental information to fend of certain legal challenges. U.S. companies are now reporting an increasing number of cases where they are being barred from providing such additional information if their drug patents are challenged for a different reason.

During the December 2013 JCCT meeting, the U.S. government complained to the Chinese government it was holding up or invalidating pharmaceutical patents by charging that the application contained insufficient information to meet the requirements of Article 26.3 of Chinese patent law, without allowing brand-name companies to supplement information after the initial filing.  According to Commerce, at the JCCT, the Chinese government pledged that patent applicants could supplement their initial data submissions, and it has made progress toward implementing that commitment.  Recently, however, it appears that the Chinese government may be back sliding on that commitment.

PRODUCTS LIABILITY/FDA

CHINA RESTRICTIONS ON US FOOD PRODUCTS

On Aug. 22, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that California citrus farmers will be able to resume exports to China this season. A series of scientific exchanges between the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) resulted in an agreement for California citrus to again be exported to China. APHIS and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service worked closely with the U.S. citrus industry to ensure the successful outcome.

In April 2013, California-origin citrus was suspended from entering the Chinese market due to interceptions of brown rot (Phytophthora syringae), a soil fungus that affects stored fruit. Over the next year, USDA worked with China to address China’s plant health concerns and reopen the market for California citrus exports.

In a statement following the USDA announcement, Western Growers Association Executive Vice President Matt McInerney said China was the third-largest market for California citrus exports before the ban. The USDA release said California citrus exports have a total annual value of $30 million.

On September 15th, it was announced that USDA and USTR officials were in Beijing to discuss the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and in particular a meeting of the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) working group of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce Trade (JCCT), where the agenda will likely touch upon issues like China’s ban on U.S. beef and its regulatory process for approving biotechnology traits. China closed its beef market to U.S. exports due to a 2003 outbreak of bovine spongiform encelopathy (BSE) – or “mad cow” disease — and has since set a number of preconditions for opening it, including a U.S. livestock traceability system.

Early in September, nineteen 19 Senators urged USTR Michael Froman to act on the Chinese government’s rejection of U.S. shipments of dried distillers grains that contained traces of an unapproved biotech trait. In the attached letter, SENATE LETTER DISTILLER GRAINS, the 19 Senators stated:

“We write you to convey our strong concerns over recent action taken by the Chinese government to reject U.S. export shipments of dried distillers grains (DDGs) that contain traces of a U.S. approved trait, which has been under regulatory consideration by the Chinese government. We urge you to work with China to restore the flow of trade as quickly as possible and to develop a more consistent set of rules governing the trade of new crop technologies between the two countries.

As you know, China is the top destination for U.S. exports of DDGs, totaling four million tons valued at $1.6 billion in 2013. Every link in the DDGs supply chain-including ethanol producers, corn farmers, and shippers-have already incurred significant economic damages due to these actions by the Chinese government.

The trade disruption in DDGs is yet another example of the regulatory challenges industry has faced with China since it began blocking U.S. corn shipments in November 2013. We encourage you to work closely with China to promote a science-driven review process for agricultural biotechnology that issues determinations without undue delay, consistent with WTO member country obligations.

As biotech products are a key component of U.S. agricultural trade with China, including exports of DOGs, achieving greater cooperation between the two countries on trade issues involving new crop technologies is essential to maintaining our position as the leading agricultural exporter worldwide.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to strengthen our trade relationship with China in agriculture.”

CHINESE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

US INVESTMENT IN CHINA

Dorsey recently published the attached short brochure,  DORSEY CHINA INVESTMENT BROCHURE, on issues that foreign companies and individuals face when investing in China.

As stated in the brochure,

“Despite the global financial crisis, foreign direct investment into China continues to grow. With China recently overtaking Japan as the world’s 2nd largest economy, foreign investment into China looks set to continue its rise. Nonetheless, foreign investors need to be aware of a number of crucial factors.”

The brochure then goes into details about the following area: Restrictions on Foreign Ownership, Business Vehicles, Approval & Registration, Capital Requirements, Shareholder & Director Nationality, Management Structure, Directors’ Liability, Parent Company Liability, Work/Residency Permits, Thin Capitalization Rules, Competition, Restrictions in the Financial Services Sector, Governing Law of Documents.

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.

TAIWAN LCDS CASE

On September 5, 2014, the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission filed the attached brief, AU OPTRONICS BRIEF, in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Motorola Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics case, the Taiwan LCDs case. In that case, the Seventh Circuit vacated its March 2014 decision that Motorola’s case did not show direct effect on US Commerce sufficient to satisfy the Foreign Trade Improvements Act (“FTAIA”).

In the case Motorola sought damages for antitrust overcharges based on allegedly price fixed LCD panels that were manufactured and purchased overseas, but later incorporated into goods sold in the United States. In their brief, the DOJ and the FTC argued that the 7th Circuit should hold that an overseas conspiracy to fix prices on the component of a finished product that is sold in the US can yield liability under the FTAIA. The DOJ and the FTC argue in their brief:

“The FTAIA makes clear that the Sherman Act does not apply to conduct that adversely affects only foreign markets, but it also ensures that purchasers in the United States remain fully protected by the federal antitrust laws. This Court should not erode this protection.

Conduct involving import commerce is excluded from FTAIA’s coverage, and the Sherman Act thus applies fully to such conduct. This import-commerce exclusion is not limited to circumstances in which the defendants are importers or specifically “target” U.S. import commerce. A price-fixing conspiracy can involve import commerce even if the price-fixed product is physically imported by a third party or if the defendants did not focus on U.S. imports. A narrower interpretation of the exclusion would undermine the FTAIA’s purpose to protect purchasers in the United States.

The LCD price-fixing conspiracy involved import commerce because defendants fixed the price of LCD panels sold for delivery to the United States. Yet, this does not, by itself, entitle Motorola to recover damages for overcharges on all its panel purchases. But it does allow the government to bring criminal and civil enforcement actions. Unlike civil damage claims, in which courts should differentiate among claims based on the underlying transactions, government enforcement actions seek to prosecute or enjoin violations of law, not to obtain damages compensating for particular injuries.

The price-fixing conspiracy also affected import and domestic commerce in cellphones by raising their price. This effect is not only substantial and reasonably foreseeable, but also direct. The natural and probable consequence of increasing the price of a significant component like LCD panels is to increase the price of cellphones that incorporate those panels. A contrary holding risks constraining the government’s ability to prosecute offshore component price fixing that threatens massive harm to U.S. commerce and consumers.

While the government may prosecute conduct that has the requisite effect under Section 6a(1), Section 6a(2) requires that the effect “give rise to [plaintiff’s] claim,” and thus limits what injuries are redressable by damages claims. The injury to Motorola’s foreign affiliates is not caused by the inflated prices of cellphones sold in import or domestic commerce, and therefore the affiliates’ claims do not arise from that effect on U.S. commerce. The first purchasers of cellphones in affected U.S. commerce, however, did suffer an injury arising out of the price fixing’s U.S. effect.

The Illinois Brick doctrine would ordinarily bar these purchasers from recovering damages under federal law because they did not purchase directly from the conspirators, but that doctrine should be construed to permit damages claims by the first purchaser in affected U.S. commerce when Section 6a(2) bars the direct purchasers’ claims. That construction would permit vigorous private enforcement of the antitrust laws—the reason full recovery is ordinarily concentrated in direct purchasers—without implicating the doctrine’s concerns about multiple recovery and apportionment. Absent that construction, it is possible that no private plaintiff could recover damages under the federal antitrust laws.

In any case, government enforcement is critical to combating foreign price-fixing cartels that threaten significant harm in the United States. Therefore, this Court should hold that a conspiracy to fix the price of a component can directly affect import commerce in finished products incorporating that component and that the conspiracy in this case did directly affect that commerce. That holding would ensure the government is able to enforce the federal antitrust laws regardless of any limitations on private damages claims resulting from Section 6a(2).”

Emphasis added, footnotes omitted.

BILL BAER DOJ SPEECHES

On September 10, 2014, Bill Baer, the Assistant Attorney General Antitrust Division U.S. Department of Justice, gave the attached speech, BAER SPEECH ON ANTITRUST PROSECUTION, at the Georgetown Antitrust Enforcement Symposium entitled “Prosecuting Antitrust Crimes” in which he addressed the importance of enforcement of the antitrust laws against cartels and the importance of the leniency system. With regards to the prosecution of antitrust cases, Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer stated:

“Those who conspire to subvert the free market system and injure U.S. consumers are prosecuted vigorously and penalized appropriately. Our record demonstrates that corporations that commit these crimes face serious consequences, including significant criminal fines and, in appropriate cases, tough probation terms. Individual wrongdoers risk lengthy sentences. Courts have imposed criminal fines on corporations totaling as much as $1.4 billion in a single year; the average jail term for individuals now stands at 25 months, double what it was in 2004. Those penalties tell only part of the story. Perpetrators also must confront private and state civil suits seeking treble damages and risk other collateral consequences for their crimes.

Often our prosecutions end with plea agreements. So long as price fixers are held accountable for their crimes, this is an efficient and appropriate way to resolve criminal price-fixing allegations. When the defendant exercises its right to put us to our proof, however, we have the obligation to proceed to trial to ensure justice is done. Our recent record demonstrates the division’s willingness and ability to prosecute successfully antitrust criminal violations. . . . And just this summer, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the corporate convictions of AU Optronics and its American subsidiary, and the individual convictions of two of its executives for fixing prices in the LCD industry. . . .

We also increasingly benefit from working closely with competition enforcers from many agencies around the world.

Our successful efforts to detect and prosecute cartels also reflect the broad consensus in the United States that schemes to deny consumers the benefits of competition have no place in the free market and merit significant punishment. This is not a partisan issue. This Administration and its predecessors have made cartel enforcement a top priority.”

On September 12, 2014 Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer spoke at Fordam Law School on “International Antitrust Enforcement: Progress Made; Work To Be Done”. In the attached speech, BAER SPEECH INTERNATIONAL CARTEL. the Assistant Secretary spoke of the importance of not letting industrial policy and protectionism trump competition concerns in the enforcement of antitrust laws and indirectly criticized China’s enforcement of its Anti-Monopoly Law:

“The U.S. and EU share the core belief that antitrust enforcement must protect and promote competition and consumer welfare. We base our respective enforcement decisions on the competitive effects and consumer benefits of the transaction or conduct being reviewed. We agree that non-competition factors, such as the pursuit of industrial or domestic policy goals, play no role in sound competition enforcement.

The U.S. and EU also agree that antitrust agencies are most effective when they follow decision-making processes that are fair, independent and transparent. Our shared commitment to process pays off. It increases the likelihood that our agencies will be positioned to obtain and consider all relevant facts and issues prior to making a decision. This, in turn, enhances the legitimacy and credibility of our enforcement decisions, and increases the parties’ and public’s confidence in the agency’s ultimate determination. . . .

Worldwide, the total criminal and regulatory fines, penalties and disgorgement obtained to date by law enforcement authorities is over $4 billion.

The international competition community increasingly embraces that view. Progress is being made towards convergence on due process and transparency. However, more work needs to be done. We must continue to seek broad international consensus on the principle that enforcement decisions be based solely on the competitive effects and consumer benefits of the transaction or conduct being reviewed. We must ensure that enforcement decisions are not used to promote domestic or industrial policy goals, protect state-owned or domestic companies from foreign competitors, or create leverage in international trade negotiations.

That is a straightforward and sensible proposition. We are living in a globalized economy where the number of companies operating in multiple jurisdictions continues to rise and there is a greater likelihood that anticompetitive transactions or conduct in one jurisdiction will harm competition and consumers in other parts of the world.

This is an easy proposition to state as a shared value. But it is challenging to implement, especially for enforcers in jurisdictions that are early in the process of moving from a planned economy to a free market system; are shifting their focus from promoting producer welfare to consumer welfare; or have state-owned and domestic corporations with considerable influence over enforcement authorities. Nonetheless, antitrust enforcers in such jurisdictions need to overcome these challenges and commit to making enforcement decisions based solely on competitive effects and consumer benefits. Otherwise, they risk losing the trust and confidence of businesses that are looking to enter or expand in their markets, but may be reluctant to do so out of fear that the playing field is not level. . . . .

Fourth, antitrust enforcement involving intellectual property rights should not be used to implement domestic or industrial policies. Such an approach undermines the integrity and credibility of an agency’s decisions. Enforcers need to be particularly careful about imposing price controls or prohibiting so-called excessive pricing. Pricing freedom in bilateral licensing negotiations is critical for intellectual property owners. I share the concern FTC Chairwoman Ramirez expressed earlier this week with antitrust regimes that appear to be advancing industrial policy goals by “imposing liability solely based on the royalty terms that a patent owner demands for a license . . . .” U.S. antitrust law does not bar “excessive pricing” in and of itself; generally speaking, lawful monopolists may set any price they choose.

This rule applies to holders of intellectual property rights as well. In addition, regardless of the underlying theory of antitrust liability, I am concerned about antitrust regimes that appear to force adoption of a specific royalty that is not necessary to remedy the actual harm to competition. Using antitrust enforcement to reduce the price firms pay to license technology owned and developed by others is short-sighted. Any short-term gains derived from imposing what are effectively price controls will diminish incentives of existing and potential licensors to compete and innovate over the long term, depriving jurisdictions of the benefits of an innovation-based economy.

Now, you may be asking why U.S. antitrust enforcers should care about what other enforcers do within their jurisdictions. There are many reasons. Here are a few.

First, U.S. enforcers can best cooperate with their foreign counterparts on investigations when there is agreement on core analytics and procedural principles. This, in turn, allows U.S. enforcers to more effectively and efficiently address anticompetitive transactions and conduct.

Second, we are continuing to move toward an interconnected global economy. This means that U.S. companies and consumers will increasingly be subject to or affected by the enforcement approach taken by antitrust agencies in other jurisdictions.

Third, convergence on substantive and procedural principles will help U.S. and non-U.S. companies comply with competition laws in a more cost-effective manner, as well as provide them the predictability that they need when trying to run their businesses in multiple jurisdictions.”

Emphasis added.

NEW ANTITRUST COMPLAINTS

On September 11, 2014, elQ Energy Inc., filed an antitrust case against a number of Japanese, and US for price fixing of antalum capacitors, aluminum electrolytic capacitors and film capacitors. JAPAN PRICE FIXING ALUMINUM CAPACITERS

On August 29, 30204, National Trucking Financial Reclamation filed a class action antitrust case against US and Taiwan companied, including Jui Li Enterprise Company, Ltd., TYG Products, L.P., Gordon Auto Body Parts Co., Ltd., Auto Parts Industrial, Ltd., and Cornerstone Auto Parts, LLC., for price fixing of aftermarket automotive sheet metal parts. TAIWAN SHEET METAL ANTITRUST COMPLAINT

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

The rise in Chinese anti-monopoly case has created intense concern from the US government and US and foreign companies. In September 2014, the US China Business Council published the major report/survey from US Companies, US CHINA BUSINESS COUNCIL REPORT CHINA AML, about the impact of the Chinese anti-monopoly law on US business in China. The Executive Summary of the 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.”

In early September 2014 the US Chamber of Commerce released the attached report, AM CHAM ACTUAL REPORT ON AML, which is highly critical of the Chinese government’s enforcement of its Anti-Monopoly Law. The report states:

Antitrust enforcement

This year, the area that has garnered the most attention from foreign companies is enforcement of China’s antitrust law, known as the Antimonopoly Law (AML). In recent months, the press and the public have paid considerable attention to this issue. While both foreign and domestic companies have been targets of investigations, foreign companies appear to have faced increasing scrutiny in recent months. Eighty-six percent of companies are at least somewhat concerned about these issues, with over half specifically citing enforcement as the issue, rather than the legal framework for the law (Fig. 34, 35).

Even though most American companies report that they have not been targeted with antitrust investigations, almost 30 percent of USCBC member companies are concerned they will be subjected to one. Among the most significant concerns for foreign companies are challenges with due process, lack of transparency, and fair treatment in investigations (Fig. 36, 37).

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 prices 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 a very bad atmosphere for Western companies.

Foreign companies have learned two early lessons from the antitrust probes. First, the law provides little protection. The message that the National Development and Reform Commission, 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 bent.

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 firms do in the U.S. and Europe.

In response to these reports on September 21, 2014, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang raising serious concerns about China’s enforcement of its anti-monopoly law (AML). Sources reported that this is a sign that mounting U.S. business complaints regarding the law have reached a high political level. In commenting on the letter, Secretary Lew stated:

“But let me say that this issue of the anti-monopoly law is one that we’ve raised at the [Strategic & Economic Dialogue (S&ED)], and we made very clear that if the anti-monopoly law is used to essentially work disproportionately against U.S. and other foreign firms and it [is] used as a barrier to doing business, or an extra cost to doing business, that that was something that was very much inconsistent with the close economic relationship we’re together working to build.”

“We’ve been very clear in many forms that the anti-monopoly law is something that we see as part of this set of issues, and I certainly hope that they understand how important that issue is to us.”

Subsequently Bill Baer’s speech quoted above appeared to reinforce the statement by Secretary Lew, especially his quote that antitrust enforcement decisions must not be used to “promote domestic or industrial policy goals, protect state-owned or domestic companies from foreign competitors, or create leverage in international trade negotiations.”

The problem with the statement is that it is easy for the US Government to say. When US antidumping laws based on Alice in Wonderland surrogate values that have no relationship to actual prices and costs in China are used to block billions of dollars in Chinese imports, the Chinese government, as any government would do, is looking for leverage to force the US government to negotiate on this issue.

Chinese government officials have told me that the US government and the Commerce Department simply refuse to discuss whether China will be given market economy status in US antidumping cases as provided in the US China WTO Accession Agreement.

The US throws rocks and the Chinese government will throw rocks back.

On September 2, 2014, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang commented on the concerns regarding China’s Anti-Monopoly Law:

The US Chamber of Commerce said that China is targeting foreign companies in its anti-monopoly investigations with opaque laws and regulations, contributing to deteriorating investment environment for foreign companies. What is China’s comment on this?

I have learned that the US Chamber of Commerce published such a report. I want to stress that China is not the only country carrying out anti-monopoly. Other countries also do it. Monopoly is opposed so as to protect consumers’ interests and create a more transparent, equal and just playing field. While carrying out anti-monopoly investigations and implementing relevant measures, relevant departments of China are strictly following the law in a transparent and impartial way.

China will, as always, encourage foreign companies and enterprises to take part in the competition in China’s market and carry out various forms of cooperation. We are willing to create a sound investment environment for them. Meanwhile, they are also required to abide by Chinese laws and regulations.

On September 8, 2014, it was reported that the US Chamber of Commerce was arguing that China’s discriminatory uses of its Anti-Monopoly was a violation of its WTO commitments. But WTO experts, including US experts, responded that the WTO’s texts and existing jurisprudence create enough uncertainty that U.S. trade authorities will likely hold off on bringing a case. Antitrust is not under the WTO and is not directly addressed in any WTO agreements.

There have been efforts to put competition rules under the WTO, but there is currently no WTO agreement in place setting obligations on WTO members with regards to the objective of their antitrust statutes. This would force the USTR to try to cherry-pick from other WTO texts. The WTO, however, has been very reluctant to expand WTO law beyond a specific agreement.

In reality, the US Chamber of Commerce argument may be an attempt to elevate the issue in the Strategic & Economic Dialogue meetings between the US and China.

AUTOMOBILES — CHRYSLER AND MICROSOFT

On September 11, 2014, the NDRC, one of the three Chinese enforcement agencies of its Anti-Monopoly law announced penalties of a combined $46 million for foreign carmakers for price-fixing. The foreign carmakers include Volkswagen AG and the China sales unit of Fiat’s Chrysler. Chrysler’s China sales unit will be fined 32 million yuan/$5 million US for operating a price monopoly.

On September 28, 2014, in a meeting with China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) Microsoft Corp chief executive Satya Nadella promised to cooperate fully with Chinese authorities in their antitrust investigation into his company.

It was also reported that Director General Xu Kunlin of the NDRC, nicknamed Mr. Confession, was one the officials behind the increased tough enforcement of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law.

SEMICONDUCTORS AND MEDICAL DEVICES??

In early September, there were reports that MOFCOM had conducted antitrust unit visits to medical device and semiconductor firms in Shanghai.

ARTICLES BY CHINESE ANTITRUST LAWYER MICHAEL GU

In mid-September Michael Gu and Shuitian Yu of the Anjie Law Firm issued the attached article, GU NDRC Publishes Full Decisions in Zhejiang Car Insurance Case_AnJie_Michael Gu_20140911, “Better Late Than Never: NDRC Publishes Full Decisions on Zhejiang Car Insurance Cartel Case – Analysis of NDRC’s Antitrust Law Enforcement Approach”

TD MICROSOFT ARTICLE

In the attached August 2014 report on Chinese antitrust law by the Chinese T&D Law Firm, TD Antitrust Report, Chinese antitrust lawyer John Ren had this to say about the Microsoft case:

“On August 4, 2014, the SAIC warned Microsoft not to interfere with an ongoing anti-monopoly probe as they began inquiries into the company’s corporate Vice President Mary Snapp.

Investigators from the SAIC warned that the company must firmly abide by Chinese law, and shall not interfere with the investigation “in any way”.

SAIC confirmed that it launched a probe into Microsoft China Co., Ltd, and three of its branches in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu as Microsoft is suspected of monopoly practices.

SAIC also said Microsoft had not been fully transparent with its sales data on the software it distributes in China, including information on sales of its media player and web browser software. . . .

SAIC Investigating Accenture in Microsoft Probe

August 6, 2014

According to the report, SAIC’s probe into Microsoft expanded to Accenture on August 6 as Microsoft is under investigation.

The SAIC said in a statement that it is investigating Accenture’s office in Dalian City, Liaoning Province, for being the financial service outsourcer of Microsoft China Co., which is suspected of monopoly practices. The SAIC did not reveal results of the investigation and the probe is still underway

Microsoft’s Browsers and Players are Involved in SAIC’s Anti-Monopoly Investigation

August 27, 2014

With regard to the progress of the anti-monopoly investigation on Microsoft, Mr. Zhang Mao, the Minister of the SAIC, revealed at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office that Microsoft is suspected of inadequate disclosure of information in relation to Windows and Office and suspected problems regarding the launch and sale of Players and Browsers. Currently, the investigation on Microsoft is progressing, and the SAIC will publicize the interim results at every stage in a timely manner. Compared to its previous statements, SAIC talked about Microsoft’s potential problems on the launch and sales of Players and Browsers for the first time.

It is said that in June, 2013, some entities complained to SAIC that Microsoft’s incomplete disclosure of information on its Windows and Office Suite has caused problems with compatibility, tying, and file validation, raising suspicions that the company violated the Chinese AML. SAIC therefore investigated Microsoft, accordingly. In June of this year, SAIC initiated the investigation against Microsoft and already publicized the progress of its investigation three times. Minister Zhang also mentioned that Microsoft’s senior management has expressed that they will respect Chinese law and cooperate with the Chinese anti-monopoly authority in the investigation.”

SECURITIES

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

In a fascinating six part series on the origins of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, Tom Gorman, a partner in our Washington DC office and a former member of the SEC Enforcement Division, describes the origins of the FCPA and why this law came into being, including the reasons for prohibiting the bribery of foreign officials. The first part and the conclusion are published in this e-mail. The entire article is attached, TOM GORMAN ENTIRE ARTICLE ORIGINS OF FCPA.  As Tom Gorman states:

PART ONE THE ORIGINS OF THE FCPA: LESSONS FOR EFFECTIVE COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT

“They trusted us” — Judge Stanley Sporkin explaining why 450 corporations self- reported in the 1970s Volunteer Program without a promise of immunity.

This is the first part of an occasional series. The entire paper will be published by Securities Regulation Law Journal early next year.

Introduction

Can one man make a difference? Stanley Sporkin is proof that the answer is “yes.” In the early 1970s he sat fixated by the Watergate Congressional hearings. As the testimony droned on about the burglary and cover-up, the Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC” or “Commission”) Enforcement Division sat mystified. Witnesses spoke of corporate political contributions and payments. “How does a public company book an illegal contribution” the Director wondered. “Public companies are stewards of the shareholder’s money – they have an obligation to tell them how it is used” he thought. He decided to find out.

The question spawned a series of “illicit” or foreign payments cases by the Commission resulting in the Volunteer Program. Under the Program, crafted by Director Sporkin and Corporation Finance Director Alan Levinson, about 450 U.S. corporations self-reported illicit payments which had been concealed with false accounting entries. There was no promise of immunity but the Director had a reputation for doing the right thing, being fair. Ultimately the cases and Program culminated with the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.

Today a statute born of scandal and years of debate continues to be debated. Business groups and others express concern about the expansive application of the FCPA by enforcement officials and the spiraling costs to resolve investigations. Enforcement officials continue to call for self-reporting, cooperation and more effective compliance. While the debate continues, both sides might do well to revisit the roots of the FCPA. The success of the early investigations and the Volunteer Program is not attributable to overlapping enforcement actions, endless investigations, draconian fines and monitors. Rather, it was a focus on effective corporate governance – ensuring that executives acted as the stewards of shareholder funds. Director Sporkin called this “doing the right thing.” A return to that focus may well end the debate and yield more effective compliance and enforcement.

The beginning

The Watergate Congressional hearings transfixed the country. A scandal was born from a burglary at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. by the Committee to Reelect the President, known as CREP. The hearings were punctuated by a series of articles in The Washington Post based on conversations with a source known only as “deep throat.” Later the two reporters would become famous. President Richard Nixon would resign in disgrace. His senior aides would be sentenced to prison. See generally, Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward, All the President’s Men (1974).

 A little-noticed segment of the hearings involved corporate contributions to politicians and political campaigns. Most observers probably missed the slivers of testimony about illegal corporate conduct since they were all but drowned in the seemingly endless testimony about the burglary, cover-up and speculation regarding the involvement of the White House.

One man did not. Then SEC Enforcement Director and later Federal Judge Stanley Sporkin was fixated. He listened carefully to the comments about corporate political contributions. The Director wondered how the firms could make such payments without telling their shareholders: “You know, I sometimes use the expression, ‘only in America could something like this happen.’ There I was sitting at my desk . . . and at night while these Watergate hearings were going on I would go home and they’d be replayed and I would hear these heads of these companies testify. This fellow Dorsey from Gulf Oil . . . and it was interesting that somebody would call Gulf Oil and they would say we need $50,000 for the campaign.

Now everybody, I knew that corporations couldn’t give money to political campaigns . . . what occurred to me was, how do you book a bribe . . . ” A Fire Side Chat with the Father of the FCPA and the FCPA Professor, Dorsey & Whitney LLP Spring Anti-corruption conference, March 23, 2014, available at www.SECHistorical.org. at 3 (“Transcript”).

What, if any information did the outside auditors have was another key question, according to the Director. Stanley Sporkin, “The Worldwide Banning of Schmiergeld: A Look at the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on its Twentieth Birthday,” 18 Nw. J. Int. L. & Bus. 269, 271 (1998) (“Sporkin”). Not only was he fascinated by the testimony but “something bothered him [Director Sporkin]. It was the thought of all that money moving around in businessmen’s briefcases. That money belonged to corporations. Corporations belong to investors. The SEC protects investors. So Sporkin investigated.” Mike Feensilber, He Terrorizes Wall Street, The Atlanta Constitution, Section C at 19, col. 1 (March 21, 1976) . . .

An informal inquiry was initiated. As Judge Sporkin recounts: “To satisfy my curiosity [about how the payments were recorded in the books and records] I asked one of my staff members to commence an informal inquiry to determine how the transactions were booked.” Sporkin at 571. This “was not one of these elaborate investigations where you have 5 people. I called in a guy named Bob Ryan and I said, Bob, go to Gulf Oil.” Transcript at 3. A day later the answer came back: “[W]hat happened was that Gulf Oil had set up two corporations; one called the ANEX, one called the ANEY, capitalized . . . with the $5 million each; took the money back to New York, put it into [Gulf Chairman] Dorsey’s safe at the head of Gulf Oil and there he [Dorsey] had a slush fund, a corporate fund of $10 million.” Id. at 4. The payments were not reflected in the books and records of the company – the shareholders were not told how their money was being used.

It was apparent that corporate officials “knew they were doing something that was wrong because the reason they set [it] up this was . . . is because they didn’t want to expense the money so they capitalized it. And why did they want to expense the money . . . [Director Sporkin explained is] Because they were afraid, not of the SEC, but of the IRS. So it . . . right from the beginning . . . it showed me that there was something afoul here,” Director Sporkin later recounted. Id. at 4. Indeed, it was clear that senior corporate officials had painstakingly designed a methodology to secrete what they knew were wrongful transactions. Sporkin at 271. . . .

See the attached article for parts 2-5.

PART 6

Conclusion: The FCPA Today

The FCPA was unique in the world at passage. It was born of controversy and scandal. The Watergate hearings which transfixed Director Sporkin and the rest of the country spawned unprecedented and far ranging issues and questions. The hearings ushered in a new era of moral questioning.

In the turmoil of that environment Director Sporkin focused on corporate governance, viewing corporate boards and officers as stewards of investor funds. That principled view propelled the SEC investigations, enforcement actions and the Volunteer Program, all of which culminated after two years of Congressional hearings and debate in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The statute was intended to implement the principles that gave rise to its birth. It was tailored and focused:

Bribery prohibited: The anti-bribery provisions prohibit issuers and other covered persons from corruptly attempting, or actually obtaining or retaining, business through payments made to foreign officials;

Accurate books and records: The books and records provisions were designed to ensure that issuers – those using money obtained from the public – keep records in reasonable detail such that they reflect the substance of the transactions;

Auditors get the truth: Making misstatements to auditors examining the books and records of issuers was barred; and

Effective internal controls: Companies were required to have internal control provisions as an assurance that transactions with shareholder funds are properly authorized and recorded.

The impetus for the passage of the FCPA was not a novel crusade but the basic premise of the federal securities laws: Corporate managers are the stewards of money entrusted to them by the public; the shareholders are entitled to know how their money is being used.

The settlements in the early enforcement actions and the Volunteer Program were designed to implement these principles. The FCPA was written to strengthen these core values.

Today the statute continues to be surrounded by controversy. While the FCPA is no longer unique in the world, U.S. enforcement officials are without a doubt the world leaders in enforcement of the anti-corruption legislation. A seemingly endless string of criminal and civil FCPA cases continues to be brought by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the SEC. The sums paid to resolve those cases are ever spiraling. What was a record-setting settlement just a few years ago is, today, not large enough to even make the list of the ten largest amounts paid to settle an FCPA case. The reach of the once focused statute seems to continually expand such that virtually any contact or connection to the United States is deemed sufficient to justify applying the Act.

For business organizations the potential of an FCPA investigation, let alone liability, is daunting. Compliance systems are being crafted and installed which often incorporate each of the latest offerings in the FCPA market place at significant expense. If there is an investigation, the potential cost of the settlement is only one component of the seemingly unknowable but surely costly morass facing the organization. Typically business organizations must deal with the demands of two regulators in this country and perhaps those of other jurisdictions. The internal investigations that are usually conducted to resolve questions about what happened are often far reaching, disruptive, continue for years and may well cost more than the settlements with the regulators. Since most companies cannot bear the strain of litigating an FCPA case, enforcement officials become the final arbitrator on the meaning and application of the statutes – arguing legal issues may well mean a loss of cooperation credit with a corresponding increase in penalties.Enforcement officials today continue to call for self-reporting as the SEC did at the outset of the Volunteer Program.

Today, however, while many companies do self-report since they may have little choice, there can be an understandable reluctance in view of the potential consequences. Indeed, self-reporting might be viewed as effectively writing a series of blank checks to law firms, accountants, other specialists and ultimately the government with little control over the amounts or when the cash drain will conclude.This is not to say that companies that have violated the FCPA should not be held accountable. They should.

At the same time it is important to recall the purpose of the statutes: To halt foreign bribery and to ensure for public companies that corporate officials are accountable as faithful stewards of shareholder money.While business organizations may express concern about enforcement, accountability begins with the company, not the government. That means installing effective compliance systems using appropriate methods, not just adopting something off the shelf or purchasing the latest offering in the FCPA compliance market place. It means programs that are effective and grounded in basic principles, not just ones that furnish good talking points with enforcement officials if there is a difficulty.

The key to effective programs is to base them on the principles of stewardship which should be the bedrock of the company culture. Accountability for the funds of the shareholders begins with effective internal controls, a key focus when the statute was passed which remains critical today. As Judge Sporkin recently commented: “The problem I see in compliance is that they are not really putting in the kinds of effort and resources that’s necessary here. And I really think that you’ve got to get your compliance department, your internal audit department working together; in too many instances you find that they’re working separately.” Transcript at 18.

The focus is also critical. These systems are not just a defense to show regulators if something goes wrong. Rather, the systems should reflect the culture of the organization. As SEC Commissioner John Evans stated as the events which led to the passage of the FCPA were unfolding:

“I am somewhat concerned that the issue of illegal and questionable corporate payments is being considered by some in a context that is too narrow, legalistic, and short-sighted. In view of the objectives of the securities laws, such as investor protection and fair and honest markets, compliance with the spirit of the law may be more meaningful and prudent than quibbling about meeting the bare minimum legal requirements. I would submit that many companies and their profession accounting and legal advisers would serve their own and the public interest by being less concerned with just avoiding possible enforcement action by the SEC or litigation with private parties and more concerned with providing disclosure consistent with the present social climate. Such a course of conduct should promote the company’s public image, its shareholder relations, its customer relations, and its business prospects . . ..” Evans at 14-15.

Accountability is also critical on the part of enforcement officials. Every case does not demand a draconian result with a large fine, huge disgorgement payments, multiple actions or a monitor. Every case need not be investigated for years at spiraling costs which may bring diminishing returns. The statutes need not be interpreted as an ever expanding rubber band with near infinite elasticity. Rather, enforcement officials would do well to revisit the remedies obtained in the early enforcement cases and those employed with great success in the Volunteer Program. And, they would do well to recall the reason 450 major corporations self-reported without a promise of immunity or an offer of cooperation credit: As Judge Sporkin said, “They trusted us.”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

In addition to the securities complaints filed against Chinese companies, the SEC and Chinese individuals are filing securities complaints against US companies, some of which are operated by Chinese individuals, to set up fraudulent EB5 immigration plans. EB5 allows foreign individuals to invest in certain properties in the United States that have been designated as underdeveloped and obtain a green card for a $500,000 investment in the project. The EB5 projects, however, are complicated and investors have to beware and make sure that the project they invest in is a legitimate EB5 project.

On September 3, 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed the attached securities complaint, FAKE EB5 CENTER, against Justin Moongyu Lee and his partner Thomas Kent and the American Immigrant Investment Fund, Biofuel Venture, Nexland Investment Group and Nexsun Ethanol. In the complaint, the SEC states:

This case involves a scheme perpetrated by two immigration attorneys,

Defendant Justin Moongyu Lee (“J. Lee”) and his law partner Defendant Thomas Edward Kent (“Kent”), as well as J. Lee’s spouse, Defendant Rebecca Taewon Lee (“R. Lee”). J. Lee, Kent and R. Lee defrauded Chinese and Korean investors by claiming that their monies would be invested in a program that met the requirements of the United States Government EB-5 visa program, which is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”), and provides immigrant investors conditional permanent residency status for a two-year period, followed by permanent residency if the required program conditions are met.

Specifically, the Defendants represented that the offered investment was EB-5 eligible, and money raised would be used to build and operate an ethanol production plant in Kansas.

On September 10, 2014, Liu Aifang and a number of Chinese individuals filed the attached class action securities complaint, ANOTHER SECURITIES COMPLAINT, against Velocity VIII Limited Partnership, Velocity 240.10b-5), Regional Center LLC, REO Group Properties, LLC, Yin Nan Wang, a.k.a Michael Wang, Yunyan Guan, a.k.a, Christine Guan, Ben Pang, REO Property 9roup’, LLC, Frank Zeng and other unnamed individuals for setting up a fraudulent EB5 project in the United States.

On September 12, 2014, Ranjit Singh filed the attached class action securities complaint against 21 Vianet Group., Inc., a company headquartered in China.  CAYMAN CORP

On September 17, 2014, Wayne Sun filed a class action securities case against 21 Vianet Group., Inc., a company headquartered in China, and several Chinese individuals. SECURITIES COMPLAINT

On September 22, 2014 the SEC filed a securities case against Zhunrize, Inc., a US company, and Jeff Pan for a fraudulent plan to raise money from investors China and Korea. PAN CHINESE INVESTORS

On September 26, 2014, David Helfenbein filed a class action securities case against Altair Nanotechnologies, a company with operations in China, Alexander Lee, Richard Lee, Guohua Sun, James Zhan, Stephen B. Huang, Paula Conroy and Karen Wagne. NANOTECHNOLOGIES

On September 29, 2014, the SEC filed a securities case against China Valves Technology, Siping Fang, Jianbo Wang, Renrui Tang for filing false and misleading documents with the SEC. SECCHINAVALVES

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRADE, SOLAR, CUSTOMS, PATENTS, BANKING, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Washington Monument Vietnam Memorial Black Wall, Night Washingto“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—JUNE 18, 2014

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, solar cells, tires, banking, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas. In addition to the trade area, the banking and China antitrust areas have had important developments this month.

TRADE

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.  CVD PRELIM FED REG factsheet-prc-crystalline-silicon-photovoltaic-prod-cvd-prelim-060314

The Countervailing Duty Rates were much higher than expected with Trina getting 18.56%, Wuxi Suntech 35.21% and all other Chinese companies getting 26.89%. In the Solar Cells case, the average preliminary countervailing duty rate was only 3.61%.

Contrary to articles in the Press, however, this was just the countervailing duty/anti-subsidy determination against China. At the present time, Commerce has issued no determination regarding Taiwan. The Antidumping Preliminary determinations against China and Taiwan are not due to come out until July 24th.

The big issue, however, right now is Scope of the imported products covered by the preliminary determination. What specific products are covered by this decision? It is simply not clear yet. Clearly Chinese Solar Cells and Chinese products with solar cells that are partially produced in China and Taiwan are covered.

What is not clear is whether Chinese solar panels and modules with solar cells that are totally produced in Taiwan or solar cells that are produced in third countries are out of the case. Commerce issued a supplemental questionnaire to all the companies in the China case asking them whether the Solar Cells are partially produced in China. Many Chinese companies have their solar cells totally produced in Taiwan. Apparently, Chinese modules and panels with solar cells totally produced in Taiwan may be out of the China case.

If the modules and panels are produced in Taiwan or Third Countries with Taiwan solar cells, those products are not covered yet, because the Taiwan prelim has not come out yet. Taiwan is not covered until July 24th or slightly thereafter.

Another question is whether Chinese modules and panels that have solar cells from third countries, such as Korea or European countries, are covered by the Chinese case or not. We have heard of companies in China producing modules and panels using solar cells from Solar World in Germany. Are those Chinese modules and panels covered by the case? Not clear at the present time.

Recently, while in China, I met with Hanergy, a Chinese Photovoltaic Film producer. Hanergy told us that they can produce solar panels with the same power as the Polysilicon solar cell panels. If true, that is a game changer because the film is totally out of the case. Technology may be what makes the Solar World antidumping and countervailing duty actions against China irrelevant over time. For more information on Hanergy, see the video at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/v78cu853pdgncsq/AAAWisz0nNkCHRUp8XgTjW-fa.

Finally, as mentioned in my last blog, in April seven US Senators from Montana, Washington State and other States sent a letter to Vice President Biden asking for help in settling the Solar Cells and Solar Products antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China. As mentioned, however, although there have been efforts to negotiate a settlement with the Chinese government, to date the effort has failed.

Under US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Law, the petitioner, SolarWorld, would ultimately have to agree to any settlement/suspension agreement reached between the U.S. and China. Moreover, in contrast to the EU, Canada and China, there is no public interest test in US antidumping and countervailing duty law. Thus, the U.S. government cannot legally compel SolarWorld to accept the Agreement.

Persuading Solar World to agree to a suspension agreement in the US cases, however, is going to become much more difficult because of a filing on June 5th by the European Union solar panel manufacturers in the European Solar case alleging that over a hundred Chinese companies are violating the terms of a price undertaking arrangement, negotiated by the European Commission. EU ProSun President Milan Nitzschke said he believed every one of the Chinese exporters is breaching the undertaking.

One US Industry source reportedly stated, “It’s certainly raises concerns about the ability of the Chinese government or the Chinese producers to guarantee they will abide by any kind of an agreement. It would emphasize the need for very strong monitoring provisions and very strong enforcement by all of the U.S. government agencies.”

ANOTHER BLOCKBUSTER $2 BILLION ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE AGAINST TIRES FROM CHINA

On June 3, 2014, a union, the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO, 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.

Attached is a short form of the petition.  USITC PUB Petition Tires-Shortest Version-6-4-14 (2) The case targets about 60 to over 100 Chinese tire producers and exporters and well over 1,000 US importers. Under US antidumping and countervailing duty law, unions have standing to file cases, not just producers.

The Commerce Department preliminary countervailing duty determination will come out as soon as October 31, 2014, exposing the US importers to liability for Chinese tire imports, followed by the antidumping preliminary determination on December 30, 2014.

SRAS—NOT FILL IN THE FORMS EXERCISE—HARD NOSED LITIGATION

In the recent Tires case, the rumors are that Chinese law firms are charging as low as $6,000 to $10,000 for a separate rates application (“SRA”) at the Commerce Department for Chinese companies that are shipping $10s, if not 100s, of millions of dollars of tires to the United States. The problem with these legal fee quotes is that SRAs in antidumping and countervailing duty cases in the United States are not a fill in the form exercise. This is litigation against hard-nosed US trade litigators, who have been paid more than $1 to $3 million to throw as many Chinese companies as possible out of the US market.

Under the US antidumping law, the Commerce Department issues two questionnaires to Chinese producers and export companies. One questionnaire is a quantity and value questionnaire listing the total quantity and value of the Chinese company’s exports to the United States during the period of investigation, which in the Tires case is October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

From the Chinese companies’ responses to the quantity and value questionnaires, the Commerce Department will create a list and will chose the top 2 to 5 companies out of the more than 50 to 100 companies in the investigation as “mandatory” respondents. In the Tires case, there will probably be more than 50 companies, but in the Wooden Bedroom Furniture case, it was close to 200 companies.

The 2 to 5 companies selected as mandatory respondents must respond to the entire 100 page antidumping questionnaire from Commerce, respond to numerous supplemental questionnaires, and be subject to verification. Chinese companies selected as mandatory respondents must pay very high legal fees in the $100,000 to $300,000 range depending upon the nature of the product subject to investigation. But there is a benefit to being a mandatory respondent. Only mandatory respondents can prove that they are not dumping and get completely out of the antidumping investigation.

The rest of Chinese companies must submit a separate rates application (“SRA”), which is long and detailed, to prove that the Chinese company is separate and independent from the Chinese Government. Based on the SRA, if accepted, the Commerce Department will give the Chinese company a separate dumping margin, which will usually be the weighted average rate of the Chinese companies selected as mandatory respondent.

If all mandatory companies are 0%, however, pursuant to section 735(c)(5) of the US antidumping law, 19 USC 1673d(c)(5), the Department excludes any rates that were zero when calculating the weighted-average rate assigned to non-mandatory respondents. If all the mandatory respondents get 0, the Commerce Department gets to pick an antidumping rate out of thin air. In preliminary Wood Flooring initial investigation, all three mandatory respondents received dumping rates of 0. What did the separate rate companies get–22.14%.

But if a Chinese company does not get a separate rate, Commerce assumes that it is part of the Chinese entity and gets the highest dumping rate. In the Wood Flooring case, the China wide rate is 63.96%, but in the Solar Cells case, the China wide rate is 250%, and in Wooden Bedroom Furniture the China wide rate is 216%

More importantly, preparing a SRA is not a fill in the forms exercise. The Commerce Department can reject SRAs. The SRA is reviewed by the law firm representing the US industry or union, and the lawyers will look for a reason to attack the SRA and throw the Chinese company out of the US market.

From comments on the SRA, Commerce will issue supplemental questionnaires to the separate rate companies and even conduct verification of the separate rate companies. In almost every single antidumping and countervailing duty case, the Commerce Department throws out a number of Chinese companies and refuses to give them separate rates. So in the Solar Cells case, those companies denied a separate rate or that simply did not get around to filing a SRA got a rate of 250% and were excluded from the US market for at least 2 and a half years.

The problem is the mindset. For the Chinese companies the SRA is a simple form that has to be filed out so the lowest price is the better price. Lawyers, however, do not sell commodities; they sell a service. I talked with one Chinese company in an antidumping case, who hired a very low cost Chinese lawyer to do the SRA. The Chinese law firm sent a young associate to do the SRA and then the Chinese company never saw or talked to the Chinese lawyer again. If a Chinese company that is selling 10s or 100s of millions of dollars in products to the US does not talk/meet with a US lawyer, it should start asking questions.

Meanwhile, US lawyers representing the US industry in antidumping and countervailing duty cases look at the case very differently. Recently, an article was published on how US lawyers look at representing the US industry in antidumping and countervailing duty cases. As one US lawyer stated: “You can’t cut corners . . . . The key to having as much control as you can in the case is knowing the record of evidence better than anyone in the case. You’ve got to take the time and put in the time to sit down and really soak in and understand the record.”

So US lawyers are paid enough to take the time to learn about the record and attack the Chinese companies, when the Chinese companies think this is a fill in the forms exercise and they are buying a commodity. The US lawyers representing the domestic industry are bringing cannons/big guns to the trade war when the Chinese companies are bringing pop guns/ toy guns to the trade war. No wonder so many Chinese companies get killed in US antidumping and countervailing duty cases creating enormous liability for US importers.

Old Chinese saying—This is truly picking up the sesame and losing the watermelon.

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS—CAFC OVERTURNS COMMERCE

Another problem for the non-mandatory Chinese companies and their US importers is the Aluminum Extrusions case. In the Aluminum Extrusions initial investigation, in the Countervailing duty (“CVD”) case, Commerce used Customs statistics to determine the mandatory respondents. Aluminum extrusions, however, is a very difficult commodity and imports come into the United States in basket tariff categories. All three Chinese mandatory respondent companies refused to respond to the Commerce Department CVD questionnaire, possibly because they were not exporting the product in question.

But two Chinese companies submitted voluntary responses and Commerce gave them 8 to 9% CVD rates. What did the rest of China get as the China Wide Countervailing Duty Rate—374%!!

Commerce took the position that it would not take the CVD rates for voluntary respondents into account in determining the CVD China Wide rate. Since the three mandatory respondents refused to respond, the rest of China got 374%.

This has become extremely dangerous because as explained in past blog posts, Commerce is expanding the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders to apply to downstream products and US importers of these downstream products could be exposed to retroactive liability or as much as 374% CVD rates on past imports.

Importers appealed, and on appeal the Court of International Trade forced China wide CVD rate down to about 137%, arguing that the All Facts Available Rate by Commerce was punitive and simply not commercially reasonable.

On June 3, 2014, in Maclean-Fogg Company v. United States, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in the attached 2-1 split decision reversed, holding that the Commerce Department must use the countervailing duty rates assigned to voluntary respondent companies to determine the China-wide rate.  MACLEAN FOGG

As the CAFC stated:

“The statute is clear that voluntary respondents are “exporters or producers” subject to “individual examination.” The rates calculated for them are “individual countervailable subsidy rate[s].” Within the countervailing duty statute, “investigation”/”examination” and “investigated”/“ examined” are used interchangeably. . . .

This reasoning lacks support because the general rule itself specifies its own exclusions: “any zero and de minimis margins, and any margins determined entirely on the basis of the facts available.” § 1671d(c)(5)(A)(i). The existence of exclusions means that Congress intended all “weighted average countervailable subsidy rates established for exporters and producers individually investigated” be factored into the calculation unless the conditions for exclusion are met. . . .

We thus conclude that the Court of International Trade erred in holding that the statute is ambiguous on the question of whether the countervailing duty rates (other than zero or de minimis) of voluntary respondents must be included in the general rule for calculation of the all-others rate. Because the statute is clear that such voluntary respondent rates must be included in the general all-others rate calculation, Commerce’s regulatory interpretation to the exact contrary is invalid. Commerce’s rationale for its regulation is therefore irrelevant and cannot serve to create ambiguity where none exists.

Accordingly, “exporters and producers individually investigated” in the context of 19 U.S.C. § 1671d(c)(5)(A) must be read to encompass the voluntary respondents. On the current facts, the precondition for invoking the exception provision, that “the countervailable subsidy rates established for all exporters and producers individually investigated are zero or de minimis rates, or are determined entirely under section 1677e of this title,” has not been met. §1671d(c)(5)(A)(ii). We reverse the decision of the Court of International Trade and remand for determination of the all-others rate under the general rule, § 1671d(c)(5)(A)(i).

REVERSED AND REMANDED”

In commenting on this decision, several trade lawyers have stated that since the Commerce Department takes so few voluntary respondents in cases, this decision will not have that much effect on future Commerce Department antidumping and countervailing duty cases. Commerce is simply individually investigating so few respondent companies these days that this decision will simply not have any impact.

AD ORDERS ON FRONT SEATING VALVES AND HEDP ACID LIFTED

In May and June, the Commerce Department lifted antidumping orders against front seating valves and 1-Hydroxyethiylidene-1,1-Diphosphonic Acid (HEDP) from China. See the attached notices.  FRONT SEATING VALVES ORDER REVOKED HEDP REVOKED

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 WTO negotiations in Bali and 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 the February post, 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 attached to the February post on my blog, 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 . . . .

As the negotiations continue, there appear to be major differences between the United States, Japan and Canada on various agricultural products. On June 3, 2014, representatives of 39 Dairy Companies stated that they would withdraw their support for a Trans-Pacific Partnership deal if Canada and Japan do not open their markets to more US dairy products. As stated in the attached June 3rd letter, Dairy_Letter_0603:

“ It is clear, however, that Japan, as well as Canada, continues to strongly resist living up to the ambitious trade goals it obligated itself to undertake upon joining TPP negotiations. The U.S. dairy industry has been a leading and long‐standing advocate for comprehensive market access and the inclusion of Japan and Canada in TPP.

Yet, we have held realistic expectations and recognize that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. However, as reported in the media, Japan’s recent comments on market access progress show appallingly little substantive movement, and come nowhere close to our expectations. Canada will likely try to base its decisions on dairy market access off of what Japan commits to do for its most sensitive agricultural sectors, thus heightening the importance of achieving meaningful dairy market access to Japan.

We urge you to insist that TPP must remain a high standard trade agreement that can be used as a model for future U.S. free trade agreements. All TPP countries must do their part to ensure this undertaking lives up to its founding goals of comprehensive and meaningful market access. We are prepared to match the level of ambition of Japan and Canada, and urge you to press both to provide a very strong dairy package. Our industry must not provide any new access in this agreement that has not been given by those countries.

In addition, it is vital that TPP address serious non‐tariff policies by the New Zealand government that have uniquely advantaged the largest dairy exporting company in both the TPP region and the world. Tariffs are a critical component of this agreement, but not the only element.

It remains our hope that TPP negotiations with Japan and Canada can be concluded in a manner that will allow for strong support across our industry. However, our support for TPP is not unconditional. The elements cited here, which largely remain unresolved, must be concluded in a positive manner or our industry will find it difficult to support the final agreement.

Similarly, our industry has been a strong supporter of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and would expect to continue to support it in the future. However, should Japan and Canada not commit to minimum standards and basic market‐based principles as many other TPP countries have done, we would need to re‐examine our support for TPA.”

On June 10th, Hiroyuki Ishige, chairman of the Japanese External Trade Organization, a Japanese trade official, reportedly told a Washington think tank that resolving the issues keeping the pact from moving forward would take compromise on both sides, and that there was no such thing as a “perfect” TPP.

On June 11, 2014, Congressman Devin Nunes, a Republican Congressman from California, who is Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Trade, responded Nunes Opening Statement_ Hearing on Advancing the U.S. Trade Agenda_ Benefits of Expanding U.S. Agriculture Trade and Eliminating Barriers to U.S. Exports:

“Third, we must tear down tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. agriculture. Tariffs must be eliminated without exclusion. In negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, I am concerned that the Administration is not holding Japan and Canada to the level of ambition that Congress has demanded. In some cases a long time frame may be warranted, but there has to be a path to zero. If any countries insist on retaining tariffs, then we must complete the negotiations without them and allow them to rejoin when they can commit to full tariff elimination.

A growing concern is non-tariff barriers, particularly unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary or SPS measures. While countries can implement measures to protect human, animal, and plant health, many measures are actually thinly veiled protectionist barriers that ignore science and international standards, and do not enhance food safety in any way. I’m pleased that the Administration has heard Congress’s message that only strong, enforceable rules will ensure that SPS measures are transparent, science-based, and are not unduly restrictive. I am particularly concerned by European restrictions on the use of generic food names, which the EU improperly designates as geographical indications. This threatens the U.S. dairy industry and cannot be tolerated. The TPP and U.S.-EU trade negotiations are good opportunities to reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers. To gain support in Congress, these agreements must result in complete market access.

Fourth, to strengthen USTR’s position in trade negotiations, we must pass Trade Promotion Authority without delay. The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act introduced earlier this year would establish clear direction to open agriculture markets and address unwarranted SPS measures and other trade barriers. If the Administration finishes these negotiations before TPA is granted, it will not get the best deal for our farmers or other exporters. Therefore, I call on the Administration to focus on passing TPA in Congress before completing TPP.”

On June 10, 2014, after a trip to China, Congressman Aaron Shock, Republican from Illinois, stated that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the best way to motivate China to make reforms needed for it to be ready to join the deal. Schock said negotiating a “level playing field” with China would be a good thing, but Beijing is not yet ready to meet the standards of the TPP deal under negotiation. Shock further stated at a Washington DC think tank, “But there’s nothing like competition to get your act in order.”

On June 16,2014, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) released the following statements on the 80th anniversary of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) WAYS AND MEANS ANNOUNCE:

Chairman Camp stated, “This month marks the 80th anniversary of the enactment of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act. Since its passage, every President, until now, has partnered with Congress to have this powerful tool to negotiate the best possible trade deals for America. I urge the Administration to pull out the stops to assure passage of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, which strengthens the role of Congress in trade negotiations and gives the President the ability to negotiate the very best deals for U.S. exporters, creating good jobs that pay well.”

Chairman Nunes added, “History is on our side. TPA-style legislation has worked for 80 years to produce high quality agreements that create U.S. jobs. But this President doesn’t have this valuable tool. Unless he acts quickly to work with us to pass the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2014, he will be unable to deliver ambitious trade agreements that benefit our economy.”

JUNE ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On June 2, 2014, Commerce published in the Federal Register the attached notice JUNE REVIEWS COMMERCE regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of June. The specific antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China are: Artist Canvas, Chlorinated Isocyanurates, Furfuryl Alcohol, High Pressure Steel Cylinders, Polyester Staple Fiber, Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand, Silicon Metal, and Tapered Roller Bearings (TRB).

For those US import companies that imported chlorinated iscocyanurates, polyester staple fiber, silicon metal and TRBs and the other products listed above from China during the period June 1, 2013-May 31, 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed 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 Administrative Review, their 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.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

As mentioned in prior newsletters, we are working with APCO, a well-known lobbying/government relations firm in Washington DC, on establishing a US importers/end users lobbying coalition to lobby against the expansion of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws against China 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.

Two Congressmen have now agreed to meet importers in the New Jersey/NY area and in the Long Beach area to listen to their grievances regarding the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws. 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.

At the present time, Commerce apparently takes the position that it will not make China a market economy country in 2016 as required by the WTO Accession Agreement. 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.

At the end of July, we plan an organizational meeting in Beijing, China with interested Chambers of Commerce and Chinese companies to explain the project in more detail and to seek help contacting US importers about the Alliance.

CUSTOMS—FALSE CLAIMS ACT

On May 15, 2014, in the attached decision, ORDER 2 SOUTHEASTERN in United States, ex rel and James Valenti vs. Robert Wingfield, Northeastern Aluminum Corp., William Ma, Southeastern Aluminum Products, Waterfall Group and C. R. Lawrence, a Federal District Judge denied a motion to dismiss in a false claims act targeting imports of Chinese aluminum extrusions transshipped through Malaysia. U.S. District Judge Brian J. Davis denied the motion from C.R. Laurence Company Inc. and Southeastern Aluminum Products Inc., which had argued that the government failed to sufficiently allege that they knowingly submitted false statements to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to avoid paying duties on imports of aluminum extrusions.

As Judge Davis stated, “These facts, accepted as true, provided a sufficient basis for the government’s claim that CRL conspired … to avoid duties on the aluminum exports and imports in violation of the [False Claims Act].”

In a separate order, the judge issued a similar denial of Southeastern’s dismissal motion, finding that the company’s claims that it was merely a buyer did not shield it from the government’s allegations.

According to the government and whistleblower James Valenti, who helps U.S. companies find foreign sources of aluminum extrusions, C.R. Laurence, Southeastern and several other companies and individuals conspired to ship Chinese-made aluminum extrusions through Malaysia in order to avoid the duties. Valenti filed his suit under seal in April 2013, and the government chose to intervene roughly six months later, although it dropped several defendants.

In its intervening complaint, the government alleged that a sales director for Chinese manufacturer Tai Shan Golden Gain Aluminum Products Ltd. conspired with C.R. Laurence, Southeastern and Waterfall Group LLC to avoid the countervailing duties by shipping the aluminum extrusion products though Malaysia.

A purportedly Malaysian subsidiary of Tai Shan also allegedly undervalued the imported aluminum, causing the amount of declared duties to be lower. According to the government, by submitting inaccurate country of origin and import value information to Customs, the companies committed Customs fraud and violated the FCA.

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA

With regards to the Chinese ban on shellfish from the West Coast, on June 10, 2014, the Washington State Department of Health announced that China recently advised the NOAA at Commerce that it was lifting the ban on imports of live shellfish from Washington and Alaska stating:

June 10, 2014 update

Areas Cleared for Geoduck Export to China

Officials from China recently advised NOAA that they lifted the ban on imports of live shellfish from Washington and Alaska. The Department of Health provided NOAA with a summary of the results of inorganic arsenic testing in Washington State to date and NOAA has agreed to “clear” [certain] areas for geoduck export to China.  See http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Shellfish/CommercialShellfish/ChinaBan.aspx.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

On June 13, 2014, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) issued a notice in the 337 patent enforcement proceeding, Certain Two-Way Global Satellite Communication Devices, System and Components Thereof, announcing the issuance of a civil penalty of $6,242,500 for violation of the Consent Order on 227 separate days by a US importer.  VIOLATION OF CONSENT ORDER 337 $6 MILLION FINE

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

On May 13, 2014, SAWT Inc. and Shanghai Aeolus Windpower Technology Co. sued Joe Moore Construction Inc. d /b/a Wind Sun Energy Systems and Urban Green Energy Inc. for infringement of US patents.  CHINA WIND CASE

On May 13, 2014, SHM International Corp. sued Chant Heat Energy Science & Technology (Zhongshan) Co., Ltd. and Guangdong Chang Group Inc. for breach of contract, breach of a confidentiality agreement, interference with customers, and unfair competition.  GRILL EQUIPMENT

On June 12, 2014, Parthenon Unified Memory Architecture LLC sued Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Huawei Technologies USA, Inc. and Huawei Device USA, Inc. for patent infringement.  HUAWEI

BANKING

On June 16, 2014, the US U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7-1 decision in Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital Ltd., which will send a shiver through many foreign banks, including Chinese banks. In the atthached decision, SUPREME COURT ARGENTINA CASE the Supreme Court held no provision in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”) immunizes a foreign-sovereign judg­ment debtor from post judgment discovery of information concerning its extraterritorial assets. In other words, third parties can engage in broad discovery of a foreign sovereign’s assets in third countries.

Specifically, the Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings allowing hedge fund, NML Capital Ltd. to engage in broad discovery as part of its long-running case dispute with the Republic of Argentina over a 2001 bond default, including allowing the fund to review Argentine military records. The Supreme Court affirmed decisions at the district court and Second Circuit levels that required two third-party banks to comply with subpoenas related to Argentina’s assets held outside of U.S. courts’ jurisdiction as part of the discovery process in the dispute between Argentina and NML. As Justice Scalia writing for the Court majority stated “The prospect that NML’s general request for information about Argentina’s worldwide assets may turn up information about property that Argentina regards as immune does not mean that NML cannot pursue discovery of it.” Although discovery of Argentine assets in third countries may turn up property that Argentina regards as immune, according to the Supreme Court, that is an issue for the relevant Federal district lower court to settle.

It is interesting to note that the Court rejected the position of the US government, which had backed Argentine’s position. The US fears that if U.S. courts are allowed to call for broad discovery rulings against assets held by foreign governments held outside of U.S jurisdiction, then foreign courts may attempt the same with U.S. assets around the world. According to the Court, these areas of law are to be left for Congress to change, if it chooses, not the courts.

At the same time, the Supreme Court denied Argentina’s attempt to appeal of a lower court’s ruling that it has to pay $1.4 billion owed to hedge fund NML, despite the country’s warning that the payment could force it into another default.  In its cert petition, Argentina argued the high court must intervene in its dispute with NML because the lower court decisions violate Argentina’s sovereignty.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals had found that Argentina, which has repeatedly said it will not pay the holdout bondholders no matter what the U.S. courts decide, was bound by the terms of the original bond offering and had to pay debt holders that didn’t participate in the restructuring in full whenever it made payments to those bondholders that had agreed to the restructuring.  Argentina argued that it “must reward NML with a massive litigation windfall or face a court-ordered default, which could trigger a renewed economic catastrophe with severe consequences for millions of ordinary Argentine citizens.”

In response to the Court decision, Argentina’s President Kirchner stated that Argentina will respect its debt, but will not accept any extortion by holdout bond holders.

ANTITRUST

In the attached series of antitrust cases, 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.  IOWA HK EXCHANGE HONG KONG EXCHANGE

On June 16th, the Hong Kong Exchange filed the attached motion, HKEX BRIEF OUT OF LITIGATION arguing that the New York Federal District Court should throw out the complaint against the Hong Kong Exchange because the court has no jurisdiction because the Exchange has little to no connections with the United States.

Reportedly the US Justice Department is also looking at the alleged price fixing scheme.

On June 12, 2014, Leslie Overton, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division at the US Justice Department gave the attached speech Leslie C Overton – International Antitrust Engagement -Benefits and Opportunities 6-12-14 on international antitrust engagement, benefits and opportunities.  In that speech Overton stated:

“Both older and newer antitrust agencies have come to regard cooperation with their international counterparts as an important tool in ensuring effective competition enforcement. . . . Similarly, in the cartel context, the interaction between U.S. antitrust enforcers and their international counterparts continues to increase as more countries – including emerging economies – have come to understand the significant harm inflicted by hard core cartels, such that international cartels are likely to be pursued and prosecuted by more than one antitrust authority.

What explains this trend towards increased cooperation in antitrust enforcement?  For the antitrust agencies, the benefits of cooperation are significant. Cooperation increases the efficiency of enforcement efforts by facilitating the ability of agencies to exchange information and evidence. . . . Open and candid dialogue among enforcers helps us better understand competitive dynamics worldwide, and provides opportunities to discuss theories of harm and best practices.  It facilitates the transfer of knowledge and experience from more established agencies to newer agencies, and may help newer agencies avoid reinventing the wheel when confronting issues for the first time.

The growing incidence of effective case cooperation strengthens close ties between many enforcement agencies, at both the staff and senior manager levels.  Additionally, many of our international counterparts have told us they value having “front office” to “front office” contacts.  To this end, the Antitrust Division’s Director of Civil Enforcement, Patty Brink, is responsible for day-to-day international case cooperation in the civil context. Her direct, sometimes daily, contact with her international counterparts has helped keep several investigations on track to successful conclusion. . . .

Turning to the Antitrust Division’s criminal antitrust enforcement program, as former Deputy Assistant Attorney General (DAAG) Scott Hammond explained last fall, the Division has cooperated extensively in recent years with the Japanese Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) on investigations and prosecutions of Japanese companies and executives accused of fixing prices for auto parts installed in U.S. cars, including seat belts, air bags and steering wheels.  The JFTC has substantially assisted the Antitrust Division in its investigation, which has thus far resulted in 24 individuals and 27 companies agreeing to plead guilty and more than $2 billion in criminal fines.  Former DAAG Hammond noted that “[w]e are grateful for [the JFTC’s] assistance [in this investigation] as it has benefitted both Japanese and American businesses and consumers.”

We also engage in important international cooperation beyond the case-specific context.  We have a number of bilateral cooperation agreements where the U.S. government or U.S. antitrust agencies are parties. For example, in 2011, the DOJ and the FTC entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the three agencies that enforce the Chinese anti-monopoly law, as well as an MOU with the Indian competition agencies in 2012.

We had our second annual bilateral consultation with the Chinese anti-monopoly law agencies in Beijing this past January, and planning is well underway for the third later this year in Washington.  This past November, the U.S. agencies had their first official bilateral consultation with the Indian agencies.

We and the FTC have had valuable bilateral discussions with these and other counterparts about a number of issues, such as the importance of sound economics-based analysis, transparency, and procedural fairness, which are in the interest of our consumers and theirs.  I can tell you that such bilateral discussions are quite candid, and where we have concerns we raise them with our international counterparts, while still respecting appropriate confidentiality regarding such enforcer-to-enforcer exchanges.”

 

Recently, this international cooperation was on display in Beijing on May 21-23, 2014 at an ABA Conference on Antitrust in Asia: China, at which speakers from the US FTC, Justice Department, the Chinese government’s NDRC and Ministry of Commerce and Competition Agencies from Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Australia to name a few spoke about various antitrust issues, including cartels. The point is that international cartels are now the target of not only US antitrust actions, but antitrust actions all over the world and the various competition agencies in a number of different countries are talking to each other. Companies can run, but they can no longer hide from antitrust cases.

COMPLAINTS

On May 30, 2014, Viewsonic filed the attached antitrust case against a number of Japanese, Korean and Chinese companies alleging that the companies had created a cartel to fix the prices of cathode ray tubes.   Some of the Chinese target companies are Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Beijing Matsushita and Samsung China Companies.  TELEVISIONS ANTITRUST

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

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.

MOFCOM’s decision to not allow the alliance marked the culmination of a review under China’s merger-control rules over the effect the agreement would have on trade routes that involve Chinese ports. Other shipping routes that did not involve ports in China were not considered as part of the review.  The Chinese regulatory body said that the proposed deal would have significantly enhanced the market power of Maersk and its partners, led to greater concentration in the relevant market and raised barriers to companies seeking to enter the market.

Maersk and its partners announced the agreement to establish the P3 network in June 2013.  The overall aim of the alliance was to make container liner shipping more efficient and improve service quality for the shippers due to more frequent and reliable services.

MOFCOM’s decision to block the merger marks the first time it has stopped a merger since 2009, when it stopped Coca-Cola Co.’s $2.5 billion bid to buy Chinese juice and beverage company Huiyuan Juice Group Ltd., which was the first time China had halted any proposed acquisition after the country’s antimonopoly law took effect in 2008.

On June 9, 2014, MOFCOM reported that China has launched a review into potential anticompetitive behavior across 80 major industries, including autos, pharmaceuticals and alcoholic drinks. Beijing last year stepped up a crackdown on antitrust practices. The Commerce Ministry’s review is part of a campaign launched last December targeting practices that hinder free market competition, such as setting up protectionist policies against companies from other cities and provinces, and granting unfair subsidies.

On June 16, 2014, it was reported that in reviewing the Microsoft Nokia merger, MOFCOM had revealed 310 Microsoft patents used in Android licensing Agreements. Up to that date Microsoft had never revealed the patents and fees in the licensing deals, unless required to do so in a courtroom. However, documents posted on the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)’s website detail the full range of patents (http://www.mofcom.gov.cn/article/difang/henan/201404/20140400547823.shtml) included within licensing agreements. A list detailing all 310 patents can be found here http://images.mofcom.gov.cn/pep/201404/20140408143159274.docx).

Attached is the May Antitrust Report by T&D Associates, a Chinese law firm.  TD Monthly Antitrust Report of May 2014 One article in the report states that the NDRC has suspended its antitrust investigation of the US company, Interdigital:

“The NDRC decided to suspend the price monopoly investigation of IDC Co., US, and is continuing to supervise the fulfillment of the IDC’s promises to eliminate monopolistic conduct and its results.

According to reports, the NDRC initially launched an antitrust investigation of IDC in June 2013, and obtained evidence of IDC’s monopolistic price conduct. The related persons in charge of IDC came to the NDRC to participate in the inquiry twice, in July 2013 and January 2014. IDC was suspected of being involved in abusing their dominant position in the wireless communication standard-essential-patent market. This monopolistic conduct included setting unfair high licensing fees for Chinese corporations, requiring the reverse free licensing of corporations patents, bundling non standard-essential-patents licenses, and bundling standard-essential-patents, etc.

In the period of the investigation, the IDC actively cooperated with the authorities and reached a settlement agreement with Hua Wei on licensing fees and other clauses, and stated that it would negotiate with other Chinese corporations using the conditions agreed upon with Hua Wei as a standard. IDC submitted a petition to suspend the investigation and presented the specific measures for eliminating the results of monopolistic conduct, including not setting unfairly high licensing fees for Chinese corporations, not bundling the licensing of non standard-essential-patents and standard-essential-patents, not requiring the reverse licensing of patents of the corporations freely and not forcing Chinese corporations to accept unreasonable licensing conditions through direct lawsuits.

Concerning that the measures submitted by IDC can eliminate the results of the monopolistic conduct that originally invited suspicion, ensuring that Chinese corporations can compete fairly in the market and market competition order can be restored, the NDRC made the decision to suspend the investigation pursuant to Article 45 of the Antitrust Law and will ensure that IDC will fulfill its promises. NDRC will resume the investigation if IDC fails to fulfill its promises or other legal conditions occur.”

In the United States, in the attached response to written questions from the Senate Finance Committee, FROMAN RESPONSE specifically Senator Sherrod Brown, who raised questions about Chinese government’s enforcement of its anti-monopoly laws as a tool to pursue its industrial policy, USTR Froman stated recently:

“Sen. Sherrod Brown:

Question 6

The government of China is increasingly using its anti-monopoly laws as a tool for pursuing its nationalist industrial policies. As noted in USTR’s most recent National Trade Estimates report, China’s NDRC has in the past year significantly increased its anti-monopoly activity especially against foreign companies. As the report notes, there is significant concern about abuses of the antimonopoly law by the NDRC, including intimidation and pressure on U.S. companies to cooperate in the face of unspecified allegations, steep fines, and other forms of coercion. Does USTR have adequate legal authority and tools to address such forms of unfair competition, which do not fall neatly into the categories of prohibited activities embodied in the WTO agreements? What other tools would you find useful to address such practices?

Answer

USTR is working intensively, in cooperation with other U.S. government agencies and key trading partners, via both bilateral and multilateral engagement, to combat China’s use of the anti-monopoly law as a tool for pursuing industrial policies. We are pressing China hard, building on China’s leaders’ stated commitments to a level playing field and the rule of law. We are committed to continued intensive engagement on this important concern.”

 

It is interesting to note that Shang Ming, DJ Shang, the present Director-General of the Anti-Monopoly Bureau of MOFCOM’s merger office, used to be the Director of the Bureau of Treaties and Law at MOFCOM. Treaties and Law at one point in time was in charge of the Chinese government’s response to US and other foreign antidumping and countervailing duty cases. In other words, Shang Ming had to deal with the protectionist policies of the US Commerce Department in antidumping and countervailing duty cases. What goes around does indeed come around.

SECURITIES

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

In the the attached May edition of the FCPA Digest, May_2014_Digest_052814 Dorsey lawyers report on several corruption investigations involving China and Hong Kong stating:

“Johnson Controls Discloses FCPA Investigation in China

In a recent SEC filing, Johnson Controls, Inc. announced that it had self-reported to the United States Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission that it commenced an internal investigation in July of 2013 into possible FCPA violations in China. The possible violations date back to 2007.

Johnson Controls is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of building maintenance systems and controls, which include temperature and air regulation controls found in most large-scale buildings and industrial facilities. The company also manufactures temperature control systems for vehicles and boats, among others.  According to Johnson Control’s disclosure, the focus of the investigation is Johnson Control’s “Building Efficiency marine business in China, dating back to 2007,” which reported annual sales ranging from $20 million to $50 million during this period. No further information has been provided regarding the nature of the possible FCPA violations.

Avon Settles FCPA Allegations for $135 Million

On May 1, the beauty products company Avon announced that it had “reached an understanding” with the Department of Justice and SEC to resolve allegations that the company had violated the FCPA. Of the $135 million, $68 million will go to the DOJ, and $67 million to the SEC. The deal includes a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ, and the institution of a compliance monitor for at least 18 months.

The agreement resolves charges relating to alleged bribes of Chinese foreign officials as evidenced by a 2005 internal audit report that concluded Avon employees may have been engaging in conduct in China that violated the FCPA relating to dollars spent on “travel, entertainment and other expenses” in convincing Chinese officials to allow the door-to-door direct marketer to enter the Chinese market.

By the end of 2013, Avon had reportedly spent approximately $300 million on its internal FCPA investigation, and as a result of the fallout after its initial disclosure in 2012, CEO Andrea Jung was asked to leave the company in 2012.

SEC Threatens Enforcement Action against Qualcomm

On April 24, Qualcomm, Inc., the world’s largest mobile chipmaker, disclosed in an SEC filing that it was the subject of an SEC investigation relating to allegations that the microchip giant had bribed officials in China’s state-owned firms. The disclosure announced that Qualcomm had received a Wells Notice from the SEC on March 13, recommending an enforcement action against the company.

The Wells Note stems from an SEC investigation that started in 2012 after a whistleblower complaint informed the SEC that Qualcomm had conducted an internal investigation and unearthed evidence of “special hiring consideration, and gifts or other benefits” provided to Chinese officials. Qualcomm’s disclosure estimates the value of the possible benefits in question to be “less than $250,000, excluding employment compensation.”

Goldman Sachs Being Probed For Hiring Practices

Earlier this month Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. disclosed in its Form 10-Q that it was the subject of an ongoing FCPA investigation by the SEC regarding its hiring practices outside the United States. The investigation centers around Goldman’s practice of hiring relatives of well-connected officials in Asia, and whether such hiring may run afoul of the FCPA.

The inquiry into Goldman’s hiring practices is part of a larger investigation into the hiring practices of other international banks, including Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and UBS AG. In 2013, several news reports surfaced regarding the hiring practices of Wall Street banks in China.

A recent example is JP Morgan’s hiring of Wen Ruchun, the daughter of Wen Jiaboa, a former Chinese prime minister. Wen Ruchun allegedly received $75,000 per month from JP Morgan via a consulting company – Fullmark Consultants. Last year, The New York Times reported that the “practice of hiring the children of government officials was so widespread that banks competed to see who could hire the most politically connected recent college graduates.” . . . .

Hong Kong

According to reports, two of Hong Kong’s wealthiest tycoons went on trial on Thursday 8 May 2014 in the city’s biggest corruption case to date.

Brothers Thomas and Raymond Kwok, who jointly chair the development company Sun Hung Kai Properties, and Hong Kong’s former chief secretary Rafael Hui were arrested in connection with alleged bribes payments and unsecured loans amounting to HK$34 million (c.$4.38 million).

According to reports, five people were arrested in connection with the payments. The others include another Sun Hung Kai director, Thomas Chan, and Francis Kwan, the former non-executive director of the investment company, New Environmental Energy Holdings.

As stated in a Department of Justice indictment, Sun Hung Hui, faces eight charges, some of which relate to receiving payments in return for being “favourably disposed to Sun Hung Kai Properties… and Thomas Kwok and Raymond Kwok” while in office. The charges against Sun Hung Hui reportedly also relate to rent-free use of luxury apartments and acceptance of unsecured loans.

Thomas Kwok, is reported to face three charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and his brother Raymond to have been charged with four offences including furnishing false information, according to the document.

The arrests have renewed discussion on links between wealthy tycoons and officials in the Asian financial centre that have raised public suspicion for some time. The head of Social Sciences at the Hong Kong Institute of Education told AFP is quoted saying: “This case will reinforce the public perception that the Hong Kong government has been vulnerable to the possible influence of the capitalist class”.

It is said that former Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang ended his term in June 2012 after admitting to accepting gifts from tycoons such as trips on luxury yachts and private jets. According to reports, Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau was found guilty in March of this year of bribing a former minister in the gambling district of Macau in an attempt to purchase a prime development site.

The hearing took place at Hong Kong’s High Court on 8 May 2014.”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On May 7, 2014, a class action securities complaint was filed by Jeffrey Grodko versus Lihua International Inc., Jianhua Zhu, and Daphne Yan Huang.  LIHUA COMPLAINT

On May 25, 2014, a class action securities complaint was filed by Ming Yang against Tibet Pharmaceuticals, Hong Yu, Taylor Z. Guo, Sabrina Y. Ren, Wenbo Chen, Youhang Pen, Solomen Chen, Anderson & Strudwick Inc., Sterne Agee Group, Inc., Hayden Zou and L. McCarthy Downs III. TIBET PHARMACEUTICALS

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–TRADE, PATENTS, SECURITIES, ANTITRUST

Jackson Statue Lafayette Park Monument White House After Snow WaDear Friends,

Over the last week, there have been major developments in the Trade, Patents, Securities and Antitrust areas.  The beat of the US China Trade War goes on.

 

TRADE

SOLAR CELLS

Commerce has referred a number of Chinese exporters and US importers to Customs for evasion of the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders through the Third Country Solar Cells issue.  See attached document.  PUBLIC VERSION Solar Cells Referral to CBP  In fact, we are working with one importer now because Customs is requiring the importer to prove that all the solar cells in the Chinese panels and modules are foreign solar cells and have not been commingled with Chinese solar cells.

STEEL SINKS

Unfortunately, the ITC reached an affirmative injury determination in the Steel Sinks case, ignoring the “but for” standard, the higher causation standard set in the Wood Flooring appeal.  The major reason for the loss in this case, however, was the failure of US importers and Chinese producers/exporters to participate in the case.  They gave up too soon.  Attached are the antidumping and countervailing duty orders that were issued in the case.  SINKS AD ORDER FED REG   SINKS CVD ORDER FED REG

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT RULE CHANGE

Attached is a revision to the Commerce Department’s antidumping and countervailing duty regulations regarding the submission of factual information, including surrogate value information, on the record at the Commerce Department, which was published April 10, 2013 in the Federal Register.  COMMERCE RULES CHANGE ON SURROGATE VALUES  The most important change apparently is the decision of the Commerce to eliminate the opportunity to submit surrogate values after the preliminary determination.

This is a real blow to US importers and Chinese producers/exporters because often the Chinese respondents have no idea what critical value Commerce will use until they see the Commerce Department’s preliminary determination.  If, for example, Commerce uses an aberrational surrogate value for a specific raw material input in the preliminary determination, the US importer or the Chinese company had the opportunity to get a more reasonable value and put it on the record.  No longer.

By the way, Commerce’s argument that Petitioners or respondents could not comment on the submission of the surrogate values after the preliminary determination is bogus.  Generally, Commerce takes another 6 months after the preliminary determination to issue its final determination and during that period both Petitioners and Respondents submit case and rebuttal briefs and attend a hearing at Commerce.

Now the chance to counter an aberrational surrogate value has been eliminated making it even more difficult for US importers and Chinese producers/exporters to get a fair determination at the Commerce Department.

CUSTOMS FRAUD

HONEYGATE– HONEY TRANSSHIPMENT

Attached is an article about the Customs fraud investigations in the transshipment of Chinese honey around US antidumping orders.  Honeygatel  The author is Michael Coursey, at the Kelley, Drye law firm.  Mike and I used to work at the Commerce Department together. Mike represents the US producers in the Honey, Mushrooms and Garlic from China antidumping cases so understand that he is looking at antidumping cases from a domestic producer’s point of view.

The point of the article, however, is that US producers are pushing for Customs investigations against transshipment around antidumping orders, and Customs is taking these investigations very seriously. As Mike states in the attached article as just one example of the Customs investigations listed in the Article:

“ICE’s undercover investigation also led to it to uncover another major player in Honeygate: Jun Yang, a wealthy Chinese businessman and purported pillar of the Houston, Texas community who served on advisory boards to the Mayor of Houston and hobnobbed with the rich and famous. Yang is believed to be involved in efforts to avoid dumping duties through the “new shipper” administrative review process at the Commerce Department. Specifically, Yang made millions as owner of honey and seafood importer National Commodity Corp. by brokering sales to Honey Solutions and others of honey that was adulterated or mislabeled as being from India and Malaysia when it really came from China. Yang has agreed to the prosecutors’ recommendation for a 74-month prison sentence, imposition of a $250,000 fine and restitution of $2.64 million. The judge has not yet ruled on the plea agreement. . . .”

“In addition to Honeygate, there is an increasing trend of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and private citizens fighting customs fraud under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery if they provide the government with the necessary information and evidence. The first phase of Honeygate marked the DOJ’s first use of Sarbanes-Oxley’s criminal obstruction of justice statute, which includes a 20-year incarceration penalty per offense, in the Alfred L. Wolff prosecutions.

This trend has continued in other customs fraud prosecutions of importers that falsify entry documents and cover-up such fraud in order to avoid paying millions in customs duties.  Much of this area is still evolving, with at least four U.S. federal circuit courts currently split as to whether certain customs fraud and smuggling laws are just civil or also criminal in nature.”

In talking to Mike, he also told me that he is behind the effort to go after the US insurance companies that posted new shipper bonds for Chinese producers/exporters.  Mike estimated that the liability for one US insurance company is close to $200 million.

Attached is also another article about the Honeygate Customs fraud cases.  CANADIAN FOOD WHOLESALER HONEY GATE

PATENTS

HAIER

Attached is a patent complaint that was filed on April 8, 2013 by Guardian Media Technologies against Haier, Desay, Lasonic, Digway, Veehom, Denca and Express Way Ltd. for infringement of certain patents for TVs and DVD players.  HAIER CASE

HUAWEI

Another patent complaint was filed on April 11, 2013 against Huawei by Media Digital.  HUAWEI PATENT MEDIA DIGITAL

337 CASES

A new section 337 case was filed on April 3rd against China on Linear Actuators.  If anyone wants a copy of the complaint, please feel free to contact me.  The notice is below:

Pending Institution

Docket No: 2949

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Gorman & Williams

Behalf Of: Okin America Inc. and Dewert Okin GmbH

Date Received: April 3, 2013

Commodity: Linear Actuators

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 Linear Actuators. The

proposed respondents are Changzhou Kaidi Electrical Co. Ltd., China and

Kaidi LLC, Easton Rapids, MI.

SECURITIES

FARRIS ARTICLE—DELAWARE COURT DECISION ON ZST DIGITAL NETWORKS

On April 9, 2013, Ted Farris, an international capital markets partner in our New York office, authored an article about Deutsch v. ZST Digital Networks, Inc. (Del. Ch. C.P.A. No. 8014-VCL, March 28, 2013), in which the Delaware Chancery Court authorized seizure of a Chinese company’s assets and a court ordered shareholder buy-out in what should have been a simple books and records case. See attached order.  ZST ACTUAL ORDER  Ted Farris specializes in assisting Chinese companies, acquirers and special committees in considering an exit from U.S. regulatory and reporting requirements in going dark and going private transactions, including delistings from US stock exchanges.  As Ted states in the Article:

 

“Delaware Court Authorizes Seizure of Chinese Company’s Assets in Books and Records Case

China-based companies incorporated and publicly traded in the United States have received another harsh blow from the Delaware Court of Chancery, which appears to be losing patience with failure of Chinese companies to comply with Delaware corporate-law requirements. In Deutsch v. ZST Digital Networks, Inc. (Del. Ch. C.P.A. No. 8014-VCL, March 28, 2013), China-based ZST Digital failed to comply with a December 2012 default judgment ordering it to produce corporate books and records to a U.S. shareholder in Delaware pursuant to Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law. On the shareholder’s motion, Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster held the company in contempt of court, granted the U.S. shareholder the right to put his shares back to the company at a price based on book value derived from its last SEC financial report, and appointed a receiver for the Chinese company’s assets to enforce the court orders, including payment of the put price. Although, as a practical matter, it may be extremely difficult for the receiver to reach the company’s assets which are all in China, the case unveils a potentially powerful new weapon to enforce U.S. corporate-law standards on Chinese companies that are incorporated in the United States and have shares traded in U.S. markets. The ruling may further encourage China-based companies to consider exiting U.S. securities markets.

Stonewalling a Books and Records Request

ZST Digital is a China-based company that was incorporated in Delaware in 2006. Its business operations are entirely in China where it is engaged in supplying digital and optical equipment to cable equipment operators, including internet-enabled set top boxes, primarily in Henan Province. ZST Digital’s common shares became publicly traded through a 2009 share exchange that was accounted for as a reverse merger. The company filed reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission until August 2012, when it “went dark” by filing a Form 15 with the SEC to terminate its reporting obligations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. However, its shares continued to trade in the over-the-counter market. The company’s last SEC filing, its Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2011, claimed total revenue exceeding $125 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. After that filing, ZST Digital ceased filing financial reports with the SEC. In addition, BDO, the company’s auditor resigned in March 2012, and the company claimed it was therefore unable to provide audited financial statements (although it subsequently hired a new auditor). The company’s share price declined from a high of approximately $11.00 in January 2010 to $1.30 per share in April 2013. The stock’s current 52-week range as of April 5, 2013 was from $6.76 to $0.31 per share.

Peter Deutsch, a ZST Digital shareholder who claimed to own more than 3.9 million shares, brought an action in the Delaware Court of Chancery after ZST Digital “went dark” seeking access to the company’s books and records under DGCL Section 220.  Prior to the lawsuit, the company’s counsel at Pillsbury Madison & Sutro LLP had responded by letter offering access to the books and records at the company’s principal office in China, a common response by China-based companies to such a request. Deutsch was not willing to travel to China to see the documents and filed suit demanding that they be produced in Delaware or New York. ZST Digital ultimately failed to respond, and a default judgment was entered on the Section 220 claim in December 2012.

The default judgment ordered ZST Digital to produce books and records in the State of Delaware that included extensive financial disclosures and company strategic plans, including any plans to “go private.” The court rejected the company’s request that Deutsch travel to China to inspect the information. When ZST Digital failed to comply with the terms of the initial order, Deutsch filed a motion against the company for contempt of court, for grant of a put right at the fair value of his shares and for appointment of a receiver. Vice Chancellor Laster granted the plaintiff’s motion for contempt and also granted Deutsch the extraordinary and unprecedented right to put his shares of ZST Digital back to the company at their supposed book value of $8.21 per share (at a time when the shares were trading for only approximately $1.39 per share).

The value of the court-ordered buy back exceeded $30 million and was based on the Company’s book value derived from the balance sheet included in its last-filed Form 10-Q report for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. The court further ordered the appointment of a receiver for the company’s assets for the purpose of enforcing the court’s orders, including the put right, and ordered ZST Digital to pay all costs and expenses of the action, the receivership and enforcement of the court’s orders. ZST Digital has so far failed to respond to the court’s orders.

In his court filings, Plaintiff Deutsch alleged that ZST Digital and other Chinese companies have “gone dark” and ceased filing reports with the SEC in order to lower their stock prices and make a “going private” transaction less expensive. The court-ordered buy-out option requested by Plaintiff Deutsch was based on court-ordered buy-outs in the context of closely held corporations. Plaintiff conceded the unprecedented nature of the “put” remedy in the public company context. The court’s order will effectively prevent ZST Digital from undertaking a “going private” transaction as many other Chinese companies have done over the last several years. (More than 100 Chinese companies have “gone dark” or “gone private” since January 1, 2008.)  Any effort to cash out U.S. shareholders now would undoubtedly face substantial court obstacles given Deutsch’s put right and the receivership order. What impact this will have on the company’s U.S. shareholders remains to be seen.

As ZST Digital has simply failed to respond to the lawsuit, Deutsch’s extraordinary legal victory may have little practical impact so long as the company stays out of the United States and does not attempt a transaction with its U.S. shareholders. ZST Digital has no U.S. assets for the receiver to seize and has so far shown no inclination to pay the put price required by the court’s order. Nevertheless, the case shows that the Delaware courts are willing to use every conceivable remedy against a Chinese company that they perceive as having flouted court orders and ignored the corporate-law rights of U.S. shareholders. The decision leaves both ZST Digital and its shareholders in limbo.

Conclusion

Chinese companies have often attempted to stonewall U.S. shareholders of their Delaware-incorporated entities under DGCL Section 220 by insisting that U.S. shareholders travel to China to inspect books and records. Vice Chancellor Laster made clear that shareholders can insist on such production in the State of Delaware. Further, the list of documents ordered to be produced under DGCL Section 220 was extremely broad and included detailed financial and strategic information even though ZST Digital was no longer required, as a matter of U.S. securities law, to file any reports or disclose information under SEC reporting requirements. In the absence of a confidentiality agreement with a shareholder, this kind of material, nonpublic information could not, as a practical matter, be disclosed to one shareholder (who might freely trade on it) without making that information available to all shareholders through a public announcement.

If Delaware courts can really require public disclosure of financial information by non-reporting companies pursuant to a shareholder demand under DGCL Section 220, this section could in theory be used to defeat a company’s purpose in “going dark” by deregistering under the Exchange Act. Nevertheless, the extreme remedies of granting a put right (in effect a court ordered buy out), appointing a receiver and effectively requiring public disclosure of financial and strategic information by a publicly traded company may reflect the unusual facts of the case. There is no question that ZST Digital’s refusal to participate in the case and its repeated defaults in responding to court orders motivated Vice Chancellor Laster in shaping these extraordinary remedies. If ZST Digital had instead made an appearance, contested the matter and offered some compromise proposal on the information requested, it could almost certainly have obtained a better result for the company that would not have limited its future flexibility in dealing with U.S. shareholders.

Still, the ZST Digital case means that Chinese companies would be well advised to pay more attention to U.S. legal risks given the Delaware courts’ increasingly tough stances in these areas. It is no longer sufficient for U.S.-incorporated Chinese companies to “go dark” and then ignore compliance with basic requirements of U.S. corporate law. The Delaware courts are not likely to give such companies the benefit of the doubt any longer (if they ever did), and other states regularly follow Delaware’s lead in matters of corporate law.

China-based companies with shares trading in U.S. public markets should carefully consider the implications of the ZST Digital case as part of their determination of whether to remain trading in the United States or to consider an exit through a “going private” transaction.”

 

Attached also an article from “Theasset.com” quoting Mr. Farris on this issue.  FARRIS QUOTE

LONGTOP—DELOITTE

On April 8, 2013, a New York Federal District Court Judge tossed Deloitte out of a class action securities lawsuit against Longtop Financial Technologies for lying to investors and exaggerating the size of its profit margins.  In the attached opinion, the Judge determined that the Plaintiff had failed to sufficiently allege that Deloitte violated federal securities laws in signing off on Longtop accounts between June 2009-May 2011. LONGTOP SECURITIES DECISION TOSSING DELOITTE

CITIC AND PUDA COAL

ON April 8, 2013, a class action securities case was brought in the Federal Court in the Southern District of New York against Puda Coal Inc. and CITIC Trust Co., Ltd.  Attached is a copy of the complaint.  PUDA COAL CITIC

The complaint alleges that CITIC is “the largest Chinese private equity fund and merchant bank, which, by means of a transfer of 49% ownership interest and a 51 % pledge as security for a loan, now controls Puda’s sole operating subsidiary and its only source of revenues.”

The complaint further alleges that “this action arises from a fraudulent scheme in which Puda insiders improperly transferred the Company’s only revenue-producing, operating subsidiary to CITIC and then, with the assistance of CITIC, falsely portrayed to investors in Puda that the Company still possessed its operating subsidiary.”

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C

The Vitamin C case goes on to the next phase.  The first attack is the motion by Plaintiffs to obtain their legal fees from the Chinese defendants.  The legal fees for Plaintiffs could well be in the millions.  See the attached document asking for an extension to file the motion.  VITAMIN C MOTION TO PAY PLAINTIFF’S LEGAL FEES  The Court granted the extension.

This was followed by an April 11, 2013 Renewed Motion by Hebei Welcome and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. that the case be dismissed as a matter of law based on state and foreign sovereign compulsion and international comity.  See attached document.  SHORT HEBEI MOTION JUDGMENT  In the motion, the Chinese defendants go into detail as to MOFCOM regulations issued in the late 1990s purportedly giving the Chamber the authority to set up a group to set prices.  The Court has yet to rule on the Renewed Motion.

On April 12, 2013, Plaintiffs filed the attached injunction motion to enjoin the Chinese defendants from operating the cartel and setting the export prices for Vitamin C.  INJUNCTION MOTION  In the Fact Section of the attached motion, Plaintiffs state:

“Evidence admitted at trial established that after Plaintiffs filed their complaint in January 2005, Defendants continued meeting, exchanging information, and reaching agreements with one another. In November 2005, Wang Qiang of Aland wrote that the defendants “should not have any worry” about the lawsuit whether they won or lost, but that they should “do many things in a more hidden and smart way”:

“This act of deciding production or prices based on coordination is a kind of monopoly whatever the reasons. However, I believe we should not have any worry since the Ministry of Commerce is a friend of the court in the lawsuit. If we won the lawsuit, it would be hard for foreigners to make more trouble. Even if we lost the case, government would take the foremost part of responsibility. After all, we need to do many things in a more hidden and smart way.”

. .  . . (“The recent antitrust lawsuit is unprecedented, but we shall not suspend the coordination mechanism of the VC industry in our country”); (noting that “the antitrust investigation was time-consuming” and that “[e]verybody must pay special attention to relevant matters on confidentiality”).

Wang Qi also testified that after the lawsuit was filed, the defendants discussed the need to keep meetings confidential and to be more careful about what was written down.  . . . And Qiao Haili testified that, as a result of the lawsuit, any notes taken by meeting participants “would be torn apart.” . . . .

Eventually, with trial approaching, the meetings to discuss price subsided. At trial, Wang Qi of Aland testified that in the time since his 2008 deposition, his company had stopped meeting with competitors to discuss prices.  . . . He also testified that he would know if such communications were taking place. . . .”

DOJ ANNUAL ANTITRUST REPORT 2013

On April 11, 2013, the Justice Department issued its annual 2013 antitrust report.  In the report, there are two sections of interest to Chinese companies and US importers because it demonstrates how the Justice Department is going after foreign companies for price fixing of export prices using a cartel in the export of products to the United States.  The point is that antitrust cases against foreign cartels are not just aimed at China.

The Criminal Division of the report states as follows:

Liquid Crystal Display Panels

On March 13, 2012, following an eight-week trial, a jury in the Northern District of California returned guilty verdicts against AU Optronics (AUO), a Taiwan manufacturer of liquid crystal display panels, its American subsidiary, AU Optronics America, and the former president and former vice president of AUO for their participation in a conspiracy to fix the price of thin film transistor liquid crystal display panels (TFT-LCD panels).

The jury was unable to return a unanimous verdict as to one of the subordinates charged. It returned not guilty verdicts against two other subordinates.

The guilty verdicts were notable in that the jury determined that the Division had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the gain derived from the conspirators for sales into the U.S. was at least $500 million. This was the first time that a jury convicted a corporate defendant under the antitrust laws and applied the “twice the pecuniary gain or loss” alternative fine provision of 18 U.S.C. § 3571(d).

On September 20, 2012, AUO was sentenced to pay a $500 million fine and the convicted executives were each sentenced to serve three years in prison. The $500 million fine matches the largest fine ever imposed against a company for violating the U.S. antitrust laws.

The Division successfully retried the third AUO executive, who was found guilty after a three-week trial, on December 18, 2012. Including these trial convictions, the Division’s LCD investigation thus far has resulted in convictions of ten companies and criminal fines totaling $1.39 billion, as well as convictions of 13 executives, and charges against seven additional individuals (one awaiting trial and six who remain fugitives). . .  .

Ongoing Investigations Continue to Produce Results

Auto Parts

The Division is dedicating significant resources to the ongoing automobile parts investigation. To date, this investigation has yielded charges against nine companies and 12 individuals and more than $809 million in criminal fines for participation in conspiracies to fix prices of and rig bids on automobile parts, including safety systems such as seatbelts, airbags, steering wheels, and antilock brake systems, and critical parts such as instrument panel clusters and wire harnesses. Two of the executives charged are Japanese citizens. Each was sentenced in 2012 to serve two years in prison, the longest sentences imposed on foreign nationals voluntarily submitting to U.S. jurisdiction for an antitrust violation. During FY 2012, this investigation also yielded the third-largest criminal antitrust fine ever imposed—a $470 million fine against Yazaki Corporation. The Division continues to cooperate with its counterparts in Japan, Korea, the EC, and Canada, among others, on this investigation.

To date, the following corporate fines have been obtained:

• U.S. v. Yazaki Corporation, $470 million—the third largest criminal fine ever for an antitrust violation

• U.S. v. Furukawa Electric Company Ltd., $200 million

• U.S. v. DENSO Corporation, $78 million

• U.S. v. Fujikura Ltd., $20 million

• U.S. v. Tokai Rika Co., Ltd., $17.7 million

• U.S. v. Autoliv, Inc., $14.5 million

• U.S. v. TRW Deutschland Holding GMBH, $5.7 million

• U.S. v. G.S. Electech, Inc., $2.7 million

• U.S. v. Nippon Seiki Co., Ltd., $1 million

GENERAL LITIGATION PROBLEMS AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES

In the attached decision, United States v. Pangang Group Company Ltd. and a group of affiliated Pangang companies, a federal judge in California threw out summonses that the Justice Department issued against titanium and steel producer, Pangang Group Co., and related entities in a criminal suit alleging the Chinese state-owned companies stole trade secrets from DuPont Co. by finding that the U.S. government failed to properly serve the defendants.  PANGANG ORDER

Pangang was allegedly aided by former DuPont employee Tze Chao and others in the U.S. who wanted to sell titanium dioxide trade secrets. These include chemical technology company USA Performance Technology and one of its co-owners Walter Liew and his wife Christina.  The Liews were arrested in July 2011 and indicted in August 2011 on charges that they tampered with witnesses, made false statements and attempted to delay the FBI’s effort to uncover the illegal sale of DuPont’s trade secrets to rival manufacturers, including Pangang.

Chao pled guilty in March 2012 to leaking confidential information from documents he reportedly retained after retiring in 2002.  The Liews pled not guilty in April 2012 to charges over their alleged role in the scheme. In February, a magistrate judge ordered Walter Liew to be freed on $2 million bail after 19 months in custody.

If you have any questions about these cases or about these laws in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–SINKS, WOOD FLOORING, SOLAR CELLS, ANTITRUST, PATENT, AND SECURITIES

White House Fountain Flag After Snow Pennsylvania Ave WashingtonDear Friends,

There have been a number of developments in the trade, antitrust, patent, securities and corporate areas.

TRADE

STEEL SINKS

The Commerce Department issued its final attached antidumping and countervailing duty determinations Wednesday, February 20th, in the Steel Sinks case. The CVD rates ranged from 4.8 to 12.26% and the average CVD rate is 8.5%. C-570-984 Sinks from the PRC Final FR Notice   A-570-983 Drawn Sinks AD FR_signed   factsheet-prc-sinks-adcvd-final-20130220

In the antidumping case, the rates ranged from 27 to 39% with the Chinese separate rate companies getting 33%. All other Chinese companies received a rate of 76%.

On Thursday, February 21st, I appeared at the ITC hearing along with three importers to fight the case in the ITC injury investigation. All the Chinese companies have given up at the ITC and many have not even submitted responses to the ITC questionnaire.

I firmly believe that the decision of Chinese companies to give up at the ITC is a big mistake. Despite the fact that my three importers appeared as the only respondents at the Steel Sinks case and despite the advice from many trade attorneys in China and the US that this case is over, the ITC asked the three importers and myself questions for 2 and a half hours. If the case is a slam dunk win for the Petitioners with no reason to fight the case, why would Commissioners bother to ask the importers questions for 2 and a half hours?

The problem with the advice that the ITC injury investigation is a worthless exercise is the Chinese companies and US importers have only one place where they can completely win the case and that is at the ITC for no injury. When Chinese companies and importers give up on the ITC injury investigation, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, and because it does not have the evidence, the ITC goes affirmative.

By the way, for those who say it is impossible to win the injury case at the ITC, then why did the US industry lose the injury case about a year ago in the Steel Wire and Steel Wheels from China antidumping cases?

HARDWOOD PLYWOOD

On February 27, 2012, the Commerce Department issued its attached preliminary countervailing duty determination in the Hardwood Plywood Case and nailed a lot of Chinese companies.  factsheet-prc-hdplywood-cvd-prelim-20130227  The mandatory rates range from 0% for some Chinese companies to 27.16% for a number of companies as adverse facts available because they refused to cooperate in the case. All other Chinese companies received 22%, an average of the 0 and the 27.16%.

Thus, if one Chinese company that is chosen as a mandatory company refuses to cooperate with the Commerce Department’s investigation, all the rest of the Chinese companies exporting are nailed if the other Chinese company that cooperates gets 0.  Welcome to fairness Commerce style.

If the Chinese company had not received a 0, but 2% or more, the Chinese separate rate companies would have received that 2% or more.

We can expect an antidumping preliminary determination in the Hardwood Plywood case about 60 days from now.

WOOD FLOORING REVIEW INVESTIGATION

On Monday, I gave a presentation to the US importers on the Wood Flooring review investigation.  Chinese companies that want to receive a low antidumping rate have to file either a certification or an application by the end of March, March 31, 2013, at the Commerce Department.

Attached is a Powerpoint on Commerce Department review investigations. REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS In the Powerpoint I describe review investigations and when a Chinese company should file a separate rate certification as opposed to a separate rate application.

MARCH REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS

Attached is the Federal Register notice giving Chinese companies the right to request an antidumping and countervailing duty review investigation for these products:

Antidumping Duty Proceedings
The People’s Republic of China:
Chloropicrin, A-570-002…………………….. 3/1/12-2/28/13
Circular Welded Austenitic Stainless Pressure 3/1/12-2/28/13
Pipe, A-570-930……………………………
Drill Pipe, A-570-965………………………. 3/1/12-2/28/13
Glycine, A-570-836…………………………. 3/1/12-2/28/13
Sodium Hexametaphosphate, A-570-908………….. 3/1/12-2/28/13
Tissue Paper Products, A-570-894…………….. 3/1/12-2/28/13

Countervailing Duty Proceedings

The People’s Republic of China:
Circular Welded Austenitic Stainless Pressure 1/1/12-12/31/12
Pipe, C-570-931……………………………
Drill Pipe, C-570-966………………………. 1/1/12-12/31/12

MARCH REVIEWS

SOLAR CELLS—THIRD COUNTRY CELLS

Customs is cracking down on US importers with regard to the documents needed to prove that panels and modules from China contain solar cells from third countries.

Commerce told Customs in their instructions:

“Importers of panels/models from ANY country that does not contain subject solar cells produced in the PRC must maintain the Importers Certification in the Department of Commerce (DOC) AD/CVD Order 2153302 dated 06/01/2012 section 3(A). In addition to the Importer Certification, the importer must maintain documentation supporting the certification.”

“If an exporter of panels/models not containing subject solar cells produced in the PRC is located in the PRC, BOTH the importer and the exporter must maintain the Exporter Certification in DOC AD/CVD order 2153302 dated 06/01/2012 section 3(B). In addition to the Exporter Certification, the importer and exporter must maintain documentation supporting the certification.”

In a recent notice of action issued to a US importer, Customs stated the following:

“We note the lack of any documents between the supposed maker of the solar cells and the Chinese manufacturer. All documents lack any traceable and/or verifiable references such as lot numbers, serial numbers, and/or production records. We find the Purchase Order, Invoice, and the Bill of Materials (BOM) to be inadequate support for the certification of third-country made solar cells.”

Customs is going to be very tough in this area so importers have to watch this situation very closely.

PRESIDENT OBAMA’S TRADE AGENDA FOR 2013

On March 1st, USTR released President Obama’s Trade Agenda for 2013, which is attached.  OBAMA TRADE AGENDA USTR PRESS RELEASE  With regards to China, the Agenda states at pages 15-16:

“China

As the complex trade and economic relationship between the United States and China continues to mature and evolve, President Obama is committed to ensuring U.S. trade with China provides American exporters with a level playing field to compete in China’s large and growing market. The United States has welcomed China’s growing leadership role at both the regional and multilateral levels; moving forward, we will seek to enhance cooperation toward common objectives on the basis of our shared responsibility to sustain global economic growth and stability in support of trade-related jobs.”

“In 2013, the United States will address trade objectives with China using all available tools including dialogue, negotiation, and enforcement when appropriate. We will seek to increase transparency and eliminate market access barriers across all sectors. We will advance BIT negotiations with China to secure improved market access, important investor protections, and increased certainty for US investors. We will continue to work to obtain a comprehensive offer from China, commensurate with other Parties’ coverage, to join the WTO Government Procurement Agreement, as this would provide substantial access for U.S. and international exporters to one of the world’s largest government procurement markets. We will closely monitor implementation of China’s bilateral and WTO commitments to respect and protect U.S. intellectual property, and will work with China to improve intellectual property protection and enforcement, recognizing that strong rule of law is essential to encourage and support continued innovation. As stated, we will also continue to hold China accountable for its other WTO commitments through appropriate enforcement efforts that aim to end discriminatory policies wherever they are discovered in China.”

“Our 2013 efforts to promote healthy and equitable trade with China will build on recent progress in several areas. Bilateral engagement in 2012 – through the Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade and the Strategic and Economic Dialogue, as well as the Innovation Dialogue and other key working groups and bilateral fora – produced meaningful results on key trade and investment issues, though there is more work to do. In 2013, we will continue to work proactively through bilateral venues to address new and ongoing challenges, as well as seeking timely and thorough implementation of China’s past commitments, including but not limited to: addressing U.S. concerns regarding various measures impeding imports of U.S. goods, such as food and agricultural products, information technology and telecommunications equipment, medical devices, and an array of manufactured products into China; and not discriminating in favor of China’s state-owned enterprises and national champions in providing credit, taxation incentives, and in regulatory policies.”

“To preserve and support American jobs and innovation, the United States will rigorously monitor China’s 2012 commitment to treat intellectual property rights owned or developed in other countries the same as intellectual property rights owned or developed by the Chinese, along with China’s commitments not to interfere with businesses’ technology transfer decisions, and to promptly correct any measures inconsistent with this commitment. In addition, we will seek prompt implementation of China’s 2012 commitments on intellectual property, including the commitments regarding the use of legal software by Chinese enterprises, as well as audits of software on computers used by the Chinese government. We will also closely monitor implementation of China’s February 2012 agreement, which followed the United States’ win in a WTO dispute, to increase market access significantly for U.S. movies being imported and shown in China’s theaters.”

ANTITRUST—VITAMIN C CASE

The Vitamin C antitrust jury trial has started and there are a lot of fireworks.

The Jury trial started on Monday, February 25, with allegations that the price fixing cost US businesses  $54.1 million. The allegation is that China’s largest vitamin C makers voluntarily entered into a series of agreements that limited supply and artificially inflated prices U.S. purchasers paid for Vitamin C between 2002 and March 2006. About 80 percent of vitamin C used in the U.S. is produced in China.

The trial is historic because Chinese companies have never before been forced to defend themselves in US court. A key question jurors are being asked to consider is whether Chinese businesses conspired to set prices in response to market forces driving down the product’s cost, or if the Chinese government, as the companies contend, compelled them to enter into the agreements as part of its regulation of the industry.

Chinese manufacturers began discussing ways to protect vitamin-C prices and limit exports after the cost for the product plummeted to $3 per kilogram by the end of 2001. The companies entered into written pricing agreements during meetings of a vitamin-C subgroup of the government-controlled China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicine & Health Products.

The Chinese companies received help from the Chamber in coordinating their pact, but each of the manufacturers voluntarily agreed to enter into the price-fixing agreement. Membership in the Chamber is voluntary, and each of the companies is allowed to set the organization’s rules and elect its officers. Jurors will be shown numerous internal documents demonstrating that the companies acted independently of the Chinese government

Attorneys representing CPG, Weisheng, Hebei Welcome and NCPG described the organization in stark terms, saying the Chamber operated under the government’s thumb and stressed to the jury that it’s not comparable to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce or similar trade groups. China considered vitamin C one of its key exports and controlled the industry.

On Tuesday, testimony started at the trial in the Eastern District of New York. Jurors were shown an internal memo from an alleged co-conspirator urging employees to “be smart” and conceal their actions.

On day two of the trial in Brooklyn federal court, the jury was told that China-based Aland (Jiangsu) Nutraceutical Co. Ltd. — which avoided trial by settling last year for $10.5 million — sought to conceal its involvement in the price-fixing ring after it was named in the suit along with other defendants.

“We need to do things in a more hidden and smart way,” the memo said in part; it was written after the lawsuit was filed in January 2005 by a superior of Wang Qi, Aland’s former head of vitamin C marketing and sales.

Qi took notes of numerous meetings between executives of other Chinese companies, including defendants Weisheng Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd., where they determined what prices they would quote U.S. businesses, according to documents shown Tuesday during his testimony. The notes described meetings from 2001 through 2005 convened by the China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicine & Health Products.

In one email from April 2004, Qi revealed to a customer based in India that members of Commerce’s vitamin C group had agreed to stop production of the nutrient in the coming months — a move that was intended to stabilize prices. Qi said the information was used to build trust with the customer and entice them to purchase more vitamin C.

Under questioning by plaintiffs’ attorney Bill Isaacson of Boies Schiller & Flexner LLP, Qi denied that Aland attempted to mask its dealings with other Chinese vitamin C producers after the lawsuit was filed, saying through a translator that despite what the memo said the company continued to follow its normal procedures. That included submitting monthly reports on China’s vitamin C market, he said.

Qi was asked throughout the day whether he recalled anything from the meetings but said repeatedly he couldn’t remember details about them that weren’t included in the notes he took, noting that some of the meetings took place more than a decade ago.

The notes showed that price controls China’s vitamin C producers agreed on came in response to changes in the market. One meeting was convened on Dec. 26, 2003, in Beijing after purchasing activity for vitamin C slowed down in the weeks leading up to Christmas, which sent the price for the nutrient tumbling. At the meeting, companies pushed for the establishment of a $9 per kilo ceiling floor.

Qi said he threw away the laptop he used to record what happened at the meetings in 2005 — shortly after the lawsuit was filed. He denied that he disposed of the laptop in response to the litigation, and said through a translator that it went “kaput.” Aland at the time didn’t have rules about preserving documents, he said.

On Wednesday, witnesses told a New York federal jury that Chinese trade regulators could impose penalties against vitamin C manufacturers, including blocking them from selling to foreign customers, if they refused to participate in an industry group that allegedly forced them to fix prices and limit supply
.
Two executives of Aland (Jiangsu) Nutraceutical Co. Ltd., which avoided trial by settling last year for $10.5 million, described how China’s Ministry of Commerce, known as MOFCOM, exerted its influence over the industry through a commerce chamber. The four companies on trial claim they can’t be held liable for violating U.S. antitrust laws because the Chinese government compelled them to collude through the group.

On his second day on the witness stand, Aland’s former head of vitamin C sales Wang Qi said the chamber had the authority to impose sanctions on companies that didn’t participate in meetings where competitors discussed pricing, quotas and market conditions.

When an attorney for the defense asked whether Aland was aware the chamber could restrict it’s vitamin C exports, Qi said through a translator “we were very clear about that.”

Qi’s testimony was consistent with statements made by former Aland General Manager Kong Tai, who said China wouldn’t allow manufacturers to export vitamin C if they withdrew from the chamber. Vitamin C export contracts require a seal from the China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Medicine & Health
Products, Tai said.

Tai’s statements were made during a deposition in 2008 that was shown on video to the jury. While vitamin C producers could discuss their views on what the appropriate price for the nutrient should be, ultimate approval of the controls came from the head of the commerce group, he said.

Throughout Qi’s testimony, an attorney for vitamin C purchasers pointed out that internal documents chronicling group meetings held before the suit was filed did not mention MOFCOM or any alleged pressure placed on the companies by the Chinese government.

U.S. purchasers contend the manufacturers acted independent of the Chinese government when it agreed on pricing and other product controls.

On Wednesday, a former executive who worked for both NCPG and Hebei was questioned about how the two companies are connected. Their relation is important because U.S. purchasers claim NCPG, which does not manufacture vitamin C on its own, was involved in the price-fixing conspiracy.

Huang Pinqi, former NCPG general manager and Hebei chairman, was elusive when asked by the plaintiffs’ counsel to describe the companies’ corporate relationship.

PATENTS

Another patent case was filed against Huawei.  Attached is the complaint.  HUAWEI PATENT CASE

SECURITIES AND CORPORATE LAW

PUDA COAL

As a follow up to the article, I sent out last week about the decision by the Delaware Court in In Re Puda Coal, Inc. Stockholders Litigation, C.A. No. 6476-CS (Del. Ch. Feb. 6, 2013), Peter Corne and Robin Weir in Dorsey’s Shanghai office have written an article about the decision. See below:

Delaware Court Ruling: A Cautionary Tale for Independent Directors March 1, 2013

“Independent directors of companies with substantial assets outside the U.S. should carefully consider whether they have the genuine ability to discharge their duties, given a recent ruling from the Delaware Chancery Court.
On February 6, Chancellor Leo Strine, Jr., of the Delaware Court of Chancery refused to dismiss a claim for breach of fiduciary duty against independent directors of Puda Coal Inc., a Delaware corporation whose primary assets and operations are in China. Plaintiffs alleged that the independent directors had failed to detect the unauthorized sale of the company’s assets by its chairman. “

“In In Re Puda Coal, Inc. Stockholders Litigation, C.A. No. 6476-CS (Del. Ch. Feb. 6, 2013) (Bench Ruling), Chancellor Strine bluntly reminded independent directors that they must be capable of fulfilling their fiduciary duty of oversight, no matter where the company’s assets or operations are located. Among his many forthright comments”:

“[I]f you’re going to have a company domiciled for purposes of its relations  with its investors in Delaware and the assets and operations of that company
are situated in China … in order for you to meet your obligation of good  faith, you better have your physical body in China an awful lot. You better
have in place a system of controls to make sure that you know that you  actually own the assets. You better have the language skills to navigate the
environment in which the company is operating. You better have retained  accountants and lawyers who are fit to the task of maintaining a system of
controls over a public company.”

“Independent directors who step into these situations involving essentially  the fiduciary oversight of assets in other parts of the world have a duty not
to be dummy directors … [I]f the assets are in Russia, if they’re in Nigeria,  if they’re in the Middle East, if they’re in China, that you’re not going to
be able to sit in your home in the U.S. and do a conference call four times a  year and discharge your duty of loyalty. That won’t cut it.”

“There’s no such thing as being a dummy director in Delaware, a shill, someone  who just puts themselves up and represents to the investing public that
they’re a monitor.”

Strine stressed that the only reason to have independent directors is because of their independence and their ability to monitor the company’s management. He commented that if the flow of information was in a language that the director doesn’t understand, in a culture where the legal and ethical standards may be different from in the U.S., this could be “very difficult… You better be careful there. You have a duty to think. You can’t just go on this [board] and act like this was an S&L regulated by the federal government in Iowa and you live in Iowa”.

Strine also had a message for independent directors who, like the independent directors of Puda Coal, thought they could avoid responsibility by resigning. He suggested that the act of resignation itself could be a breach of fiduciary duty. “And that’s another reason for sustaining the complaint.”

NEW SEC SECURITIES CASE AGAINST CHINESE COMPANY FOR FRAUD

The SEC has filed a new securities fraud case against a Chinese company, Keyuan Pharmaceuticals.  See the attached complaint.  KEYUAN PHARMACEUTICALS  Like many of the Securities fraud cases against Chinese companies, this case involves a reverse merger through a US shell company.

If you have any questions about these cases or legal areas, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE, TRADE, CUSTOMS, ANTITRUST, SECURITIES

Dragon Bronze Statue Gugong Forbidden City Palace Beijing ChinaDear Friends,

There have been more developments in the US China Trade War.

TRADE

TRADE WAR IN PULP, PAPER AND WOOD PRODUCTS

The most important development may be the February 6, 2013 decision of the Chinese government to launch a major antidumping case against the United States, Canada and Brazil on Cellulose Pulp.  The target is estimated to be about $2 billion in exports to China of Cellulose Pulp.

A translated version of the announcement by the Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) is attached.  2.2Cellulose Pulp Notice of Initiation_EN  The target companies in the US, Canada and Brazil are as follows:

US

Buckeye Technologies Inc

Rayonier Inc.

Cosmo Specialty Fibers, Inc.

Weyerhaeuser Company

GP Cellulose, LLC

CANADA

Tembec Inc

Fortress Specialty Cellulose INC

Neucel Specialty Cellulose Ltd

AV Nackawic Inc.

AV Cell Inc.

BRAZIL

Sateri Holdings Limited

The respondent companies now only have 20 days from the date of initiation or by approximately February 26th to enter a notice of appearance at MOFCOM.

One very important point of Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty law, which is different from US antidumping and countervailing duty law, Chinese Customs will assume that an imported product is in the case if it is imported under specific Tariff Code Numbers in the case.  In the Pulp Case, the specific Tariff Numbers are: 47020000, 47061000 and 47063000.

If an exporter or importer’s product is in the case, the burden is on them to go into MOFCOM and show that their product is out of the case and not covered by the antidumping or countervailing duty order.  A foreign company cannot assume its product is out of the case from the written description if its product is imported under the relevant Chinese HTS numbers

SOLAR CELLS

The Petitioners in the Solar Cells case have appealed the Commerce Department’s antidumping and countervailing duty decisions to the Court of International Trade.  One of the allegations in the complaints is directed at the Commerce Department’s decision to exclude Chinese Solar Panels and Modules when they include solar cells made in third countries.  Attached are copies of the complaints.  SOLAR WORLD AD COMPLAINT SOLAR WORLD COMPLAINT

CUSTOMS— ANTIDUMPING AND CVD COLLECTIONS

Customs has issued a large attached report on trade trends in 2012.  CUSTOMS YEAR END Customs reports that antidumping duties and countervailing duties have increased to record levels based on a record level of imports of $2.4 trillion.  The report states:

“Antidumping duty deposits increased by nearly $43 million to $329 million, a 13 percent increase over fiscal year 2011. Countervailing duty deposits more than doubled from $27 million in fiscal year 2011 to $69 million in fiscal year 2012, a 160 percent increase.”

SENATE LETTER ON MISSING ANTIDUMPING DUTIES

Meanwhile, Congress continues to increase pressure on Customs to collect the missing antidumping duties.  Attached is a February 7, 2013 letter to Customs from Senators Wyden and Thune protesting Customs failure to collect “massive amounts of duties under four antidumping (AD) orders” and, in particular, Customs failure to push the bond insurance companies to pay those missing duties.  SENATE LETTER RE MISSING BONDS FOR AD DUTIES  The letter states in part:

“These orders cover imports of honey, canned mushrooms, garlic and crawfish tail meat from China (Four Orders).  We found CBP’s response deeply troubling and glaringly incomplete. It failed to provide any meaningful answers to our questions about the hundreds of single-entry “new shipper” bonds CBP accepted to secure the payment of AD duties assessed under the Four Orders.

Our request was based on the following, widely-acknowledged facts:

l. According to CBP’s own data, the agency failed to collect almost $1 billion in AD duties assessed under the Four Orders from 2003-2011. It collected less than 10 percent of all duties assessed under those orders during that period.

2. The bulk of these duties are owed by importers who entered goods from exporters that were undergoing “new shipper” administrative reviews under the Four Orders before 2006.

3. Most of those duties are secured by single entry bonds (SEBs), which the importers were required to post with CBP upon entry. Each bond has a face value of two to four times the total value of the covered imports. According to CBP’s own data, the combined value of all SEBs on unliquidated entries from new shipper exporters under the Four Orders totaled $347 million as of Oct. 1, 2007.

This does not include the total value of such bonds that secured the assessed, but unpaid, duties under those orders as of that date.

4. In the wake of the importers’ massive and ongoing defaults, the insurance companies – sureties – that issued the bonds have, with rare exception, refused to pay CBP despite their legal obligation to do so.

5. Prior to the domestic producers’ filing of a lawsuit in April 2009 to compel the sureties to pay under the bonds and CBP to take legal action against the sureties, CBP had not filed a single collections lawsuit against any of the issuing sureties. Subsequent to the dismissal of that lawsuit, CBP has filed only a relatively small number of such actions.

CBP’s apathy in taking actions to collect the duties that the American people are owed is troubling, particularly at a time when the nation faces unprecedented fiscal challenges.  Collecting revenue and enforcing the trade laws is the central mission of the agency, yet the agency appears less and less interested in performing its statutory job. The American people are owed duties that are secured by sureties that issued these bonds. It is your responsibility to collect these substantial funds, which we understand could approach $500 million, without further delay.”

COUNTERFEIT TOYS FROM CHINA 

Attached is a Justice Department announcement of criminal indictment against several individuals and five corporations for importing and selling hazardous toys in violation of the Consumer Product Safety Act (CPSA) and toys bearing copyright-infringing images and counterfeit trademarks, smuggling, and money laundering.  The companies are: Family Product USA Inc., H.M. Import USA Corp., ZCY Trading Corp., Zone Import Corp. and ZY Wholesale Inc.  COUNTERFEIT TOYS

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C CASE

In the Vitamin C case, one of the defendants, North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. (“NCPGC”), moved for summary judgment, arguing that it should be dismissed from this litigation.  DISMISSES MOTION TO EXCLUDE CHINA NORTH PHARMACEUTICAL The Court denied the motion, finding that:

“ plaintiffs carried their burden of demonstrating a genuine dispute of material fact with regard to NCPGC’s participation in the alleged conspiracy. Although NCPGC has offered a great deal of evidence that strongly suggests it was not involved in the conspiracy, that evidence is not sufficient to persuade the Court that no reasonable jury could find that NCPGC was a participant in the alleged conspiracy.”

The Vitamin C case is now going to trial after the Court dimissed all efforts of Chinese companies to get out of the case.

SECURITIES

The Corporate/Securities world is abuzz because of a recent bench ruling by Chancellor Leo E. Strine, Jr., of the Delaware Court of Chancery, refusing to dismiss claims alleging that the former outside directors of a Delaware corporation doing business in China had breached their fiduciary duty of loyalty. The plaintiffs claimed that the directors failed their oversight function by not detecting the theft in China of the corporation’s primary assets by the Chairman in China.

Chancellor Strine firmly stated:

“if you’re going to have a company domiciled for purposes of its relations with its investors in Delaware and the assets and operations of that company are situated in China that, in order for you to meet your obligation of good faith, you better have your physical body in China an awful lot.”

The Chancellor further warned that the outside directors “better have in place a system of controls to make sure that you know that you actually own the assets” and “have the language skills to navigate the environment in which the company is operating.”

The case is In re Puda Coal, Inc. Stockholders Litigation, C.A. No. 6476-CS (Del. Ch. Feb. 6, 2013) and involves a US Delaware corporation that is the subject of a Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) enforcement and a federal securities law class action based on fraud.  The auditor found that the company’s chairman had inappropriately transferred the company’s primary operating subsidiary to himself. The SEC suspended trading in the company’s stock, and the outside directors later resigned from the board of directors due to an alleged lack of cooperation from the company in trying to investigate and pursue the company’s claims.

In the Delaware case, the stockholder-plaintiffs alleged that the directors had acted in bad faith by failing to adequately monitor the corporation.  The court held that the former outside directors breached their fiduciary duty of loyalty by failing to discharge their oversight function.  The Chancellor stated that the directors “have a duty not to be dummy directors”

If you have any questions about these cases or the legal areas, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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