US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP REAGAN TRADE DIFFERENCE SECTION 232 STEEL USERS 201 SOLAR NEW TRADE CASES BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES NAFTA

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR JUNE 16, 2017

Dear Friends,

Trump’s trade war on downstream industries continues with exhibit number 1 being the Section 232 Steel case.  As indicated below, numerous comments were filed May 31st by downstream steel users saying that tariffs on steel imports will devastate their business and cost millions of jobs.

But the question is whether anyone is listening.  Commerce is rushing to turn out the Section 232 report by the end of June.  But it has received numerous comments, but many of those comments are only a few pages long.  The hearing itself limited testimony from each company to 10 minutes each.

When the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) conducts a injury investigation in steel cases, it sends out numerous multiple page questionnaires to US Steel Producers, US importers, foreign producers and even US purchasers.  In addition to those questionnaire responses, it will often have prehearing and posthearing briefs that are many pages long.  In the recent Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing case, for example, we filed a brief that was over 200 pages long.

Now all Commerce Secretary Ross will have is the arguments of the US Steel industry and no in depth data regarding what the impact of these trade restraints will have on downstream users.

Moreover, there is a rush to judgement in the Section 232 cases.  In the ongoing Solar Cells section 201 case, which is comparable to the Section 232 case, the ITC will take 6 months to make its injury determination, 2 months to make a remedy determination.  The ITC will hold two hearings, send out numerous questionnaires and large briefs will be filed.  Not in the Section 232 case, which is only 2 months long.

Although the Section 232 Steel report is due at the end of June, President Trump is stating that the Aluminum Section 232 Steel report should come out at the end of June when the hearing is on June 22nd and comments are not due to June 30.  This is truly a rush to judgement without due regard to the impact on downstream users.

As indicated below, on trade President Trump and President Ronald Reagan are diametric opposites, and Reagan understood that protecting one industry hurts other industries.

Meanwhile, new antidumping and countervailing duty cases have been filed against Fine Denier Polyester Staple Fiber and Citric Acid and ITC and Commerce deadlines are very, very strict.  Also Commerce has ruled Aluminum Pallets are in the Aluminum Extrusions case.

The Section 201 case against imports of solar cells from every country continues.  Border Adjustment taxes are still an issue and NAFTA negotiations will start up, but Trump has told Lighthizer to do no harm to agriculture, which is going to be difficult to pull off.

Again, maybe this is why Trade Adjustment Assistance to Companies is so important.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR

Trump’s trade war continues as downstream steel user industries finally wake up to the damage they could face.  In the Section 232 case, on May 31st, numerous downstream industries from automobiles, equipment manufacturers, forging industry, industrial fasteners, motor and equipment manufacturers, electrical machinery manufacturers, transformers, heavy trucks, and other companies that use steel products filed short public comments stating cutting off their steel raw materials would devastate their companies.

But Trump himself cannot wait to impose tariffs.  On June 8, 2017, Politico reported that:

President Donald Trump appears to be champing at the bit to impose steel import restrictions under a national security probe being conducted by the Commerce Department. In a speech Wednesday in Cincinnati, Trump indicated major action was coming quickly and that it could affect countries besides China, which is often blamed for creating a global steel glut.

“Wait until you see what I’m going to do for steel and for your steel companies,” Trump said. “We’re going to stop the dumping, and stop all of these wonderful other countries from coming in and killing our companies and our workers. You’ll be seeing that very soon. The steel folks are going to be very happy.”

But big US steel consumers, like machinery, auto, energy, including oil and natural gas, are not going to be happy and are extremely worried that Trump’s trade action will damage their US industries and cause companies to close costing millions of jobs.  In Trump’s desire to move quickly to protect the steel industry, he could well damage many other US industries in the process.  This has happened before and likely will happen again.

As the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents more than 200 companies, stated in its public 232 comments filed at the Commerce Department on May 31, 2017:

In considering whether to impose restrictions on steel imports for national security reasons, it is important to keep in mind two important facts about those industries that rely on steel as a key input to their production. First, steel-consuming companies producing goods in the U.S. account for a vastly greater share of total manufacturing output and employment than does the domestic steel industry itself. The U.S.- based auto and auto parts industry employs over 800,000 production workers, more than four times as many as are employed by U.S. steel producers. The construction industry, which accounts for a majority of all steel consumption, employs nearly 8 million production workers. Many other steel-consuming sectors have larger employment than the steel sector.

Secondly, many steel-consuming companies are also major suppliers for our nation’s defense-related needs, building the ships, aircraft, machinery, high technology weapons and other goods that a modern military demands. Therefore, these downstream industries are critical to the U.S. industrial capacity and the nation’s security is weakened if the production capacity of these industries is curtailed.  Because of these two factors – employment effects and national security needs – it is of utmost importance to weigh carefully the potential effects of higher steel tariffs or restrictive quotas on these steel-consuming sectors.

On June 14th Politico reported that Congress is now getting concerned about the impact of the Section 232 case and that Trump administration officials will hold staff-level briefings with the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees on June 16th to lay out the context and process for an investigation into the national security threats of steel imports

Apparently, Commerce Department officials are still debating what products should be covered and from where.  One question is whether semi- finished steel, imported and fabricated into various products, should be exempt.

The big question still at issue — what is the magnitude of the national security concern? Disagreement among top White House officials could be partly to blame for slowing the report. Some in the Trump administration see the threat extending all the way to steel used in infrastructure projects while others see it limited strictly to steel used in the defense-industrial base.

Another question is whether to give a pass to steel imports from Canada and Mexico under certain circumstances.  There’s also statutory authority for treating Canada as a defense partner, which could eliminate any consideration of imports from north of the border as a threat to national security.

Politico reports that the Commerce Department is expected to present three options to the President:

  • A 25 percent tariff that would apply to any steel imports that fall in the scope of the investigation. The tariff would also apply to all existing anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders.
  • A tariff-rate quota that would hit imports with a tariff once they exceed a certain volume. There is also discussion of an alternative that would apply tariffs if imports dip below a certain price, but there is concern that Commerce or USTR may not have the resources to set up a sophisticated system to monitor prices across a range of steel
  • A straight quota that would apply strict limits on imports of certain types of steel products from certain countries.

Politico also indicated another concern whether Commerce and USTR have the manpower to effectively implement and administer any of these trade actions? Sources said that concern is one element driving the debate over what specific trade action to take.

Chairman Kevin Brady of House Ways and Means also expressed his concern with the Section 232 case at The Wall Street Journal’s annual CFO conference, stating:

“Any administration has to be careful in its assessment and its implementation of those provisions.  Done incorrectly, it can send a very protectionist signal to other countries to do the same. It is a tool that has to be wielded very carefully.”

Chairman Brady should be concerned because of the strong possibility of retaliation.  As the US Wheat Associates stated in their May 31st comments to the Commerce Department:

Wheat is often viewed as an import sensitive industry in many countries that are export destinations for U.S. farmers. Before taking action under Section 232, the Department of Commerce should consider the fallout if other countries follow suit and impose restrictions on U.S. wheat or other products as a result of their own national security concerns, whether real or imagined.

U.S. Wheat Associates is extremely concerned about the potential ramifications of import protections based on national security arguments. Under the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Article XXI, national security can be a legitimate reason to restrict trade, but this has been rarely cited for very good reason: Article XXI is the Pandora’s Box of the GATT. If it is opened for our import sensitive industries, the results could be devastating.

Outside of a few obvious, generally uncontested areas, such as trade in weapons and nuclear material, most trade in goods are not considered national security issues because the implications are enormous. Steel and aluminum are undoubtedly import sensitive products. But the Department of Commerce should think very carefully about the potential consequences of declaring steel and aluminum imports to be national security concerns.

The U.S. wheat industry is highly dependent on exports, with roughly half of U.S. wheat production exported each year on average. .  . However, anytime a trade restriction is put in place, there is the potential for it to be applied to U.S. exports in response, particularly if trade restrictions are imposed outside the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement system. . . .

U.S. farmers also rely on international commitments made by countries in the WTO and other trade agreements to keep markets open. However, not every country abides by those rules, and a radical shift by the United States in its respect for trade commitments could give effective ammunition to those who seek to stop or slow food imports under the guise of national security. . . .

As indicated further below, when it comes to trade, people need to understand that Donald Trump and Ronald Regan are 180 degrees, diametrically opposite.  Reagan was a true free trade, but President Trump is a protectionist.  Although his protectionist rhetoric is probably a very good reason for his election victory, especially as it relates to trade agreements, such as TPP and NAFTA, the problem with protectionism is the collateral damage to other US industries.  When one wants to protect raw material industries very quickly with not enough time to consider the full impact of a protectionist action, the collateral damage on other US industries can truly be devastating.  The protectionist cure can be much worse than the trade disease.  Not only in Steel, but also aluminum.

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR ON DOWNSTREAM INDUSTRIES—SECTION 232 STEEL CASE

The real impact of the Trump Steel War on downstream industries is illustrated in spades by the public comments in the Section 232 Steel case by steel consuming industries.  As stated in the last blog post, in response to pressure from President Trump, Commerce Secretary Ross has self-initiated National Security cases under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, 19 U.S.C. 1862, against imports of steel and aluminum, which go directly into downstream US production.  The danger of these cases is that there is no check on Presidential power if the Commerce Department finds that steel or aluminum “is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security, the Secretary shall so advise the President”.  The Secretary shall also advise the President on potential remedies.

If the Secretary reports affirmatively, the President has 90 days to determine whether it concurs with the Secretary’s determination and “determine the nature and duration of the action that, in the judgment of the President, must be taken to adjust the imports of the article and its derivatives so that such imports will not threaten to impair the national security.”

Once the President makes his affirmative determination, he will report his decision to Congress, but it is questionable whether Congress can disapprove the decision.   The statute also does not provide for any appeal to the Court of International Trade.  Commerce also is very protectionist and in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  The only check is the injury determination by the independent US International Trade Commission.  There is no such determination under Section 232.

STEEL

On April 20, 2017, President Trump and the Commerce Department in the attached press announcement and fact sheet along with a Federal Register notice, Presidential Memorandum Prioritizes Commerce Steel Investigation _ Department of Commerce Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Steel on U.S COMMERCE FED REG SECTION 232 NOTICE, announced the self-initiation of a Section 232 National Security case against imports of steel from every country.  See video of Trump signing the Executive Order with Secretary Ross and Steel Producers at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiVfNOl-_Ho.

Commerce held a hearing on May 24th in this case.  The video of the hearing can be found at https://www.commerce.gov/file/public-hearing-section-232-investigation-steel-imports-national-security.

Although Section 232 investigations usually take 6 months, at the hearing, Ross stated that a written report would go to the President by the end of June in less than two months.  At the start of the hearing, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said something has to be done to help the Steel producers.  In the past Secretary Ross has stated that the Section 232 case is meant to fill the gaps created by the patchwork of antidumping and countervailing duties on foreign steel, which he said have provided only limited relief to the U.S. industry.

On May 31, 2017, public comments were filed at the Commerce Department on the Section 232 Steel case.  These are some of the comments by the Downstream Steel Users.

AMERICAN AUTOMOTIVE POLICY COUNCIL (AAPC)

The AAPC represents the common public policy interests of its member companies – FCA US, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company, and states the following in its May 31st comments:

Although sympathetic to the challenges the steel industry faces, we are concerned that if, as a result of this Section 232 investigation, the President were to increase tariffs on foreign steel or impose other import restrictions, the auto industry and the U.S. workers that the industry employs would be adversely affected and that this unintended negative impact would exceed the benefit provided to the steel industry from this Executive action.

Steel is a critical input into the manufacture of automotive products. The price of steel in the United States is already significantly higher than in the markets where our competitors build the majority of their cars and trucks.  This puts U.S. automakers at a competitive disadvantage.

Inevitably, the imposition of across the board higher tariffs or other restrictions on imports of steel into the United States would only widen the existing price gap by increasing the price of U.S. steel and thus the cost of U.S.-built vehicles. Additionally, outside of the United States, the price of steel will fall further, giving foreign automakers an additional cost advantage over the U.S. auto industry.

As a result of such a Section 232 remedy, sales of domestically-built cars and trucks would fall, auto exports would shrink, and American auto sector jobs would be lost. In the end, this contraction could actually reduce the amount of U.S. steel consumed by U.S. automakers, jeopardizing the very industry the remedy was intended to assist. . . .

The U.S. automotive industry makes significant contributions to the U.S. economy, with FCA US, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company representing the majority of the following 2016 economic contributions.

  • Directly employing/supporting more than 7.3 million American jobs- including manufacturers of auto parts, steel, glass, plastics, rubber and semi-conductors;
  • Exporting $137 billion in vehicles and parts, more than any other U.S. industry sector;
  • Manufacturing 12.2 million cars & trucks;
  • Representing 8% of the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP on a value added basis;
  • Investing $8 billion in U.S. plants/equipment, and nearly $20 billion in R&D; and
  • Selling a record 17.5 million cars and light

 The AAPC concludes:

While we strongly support the Administration’s focus on ensuring that our trading partners live up to their commitments and abide by their trade-related obligations, actions taken as a result of this Section 232 investigation to restrict imports of steel, in order to support the U.S. steel industry, could have unintended negative consequences for the domestic automotive industry and the millions of American workers it directly and indirectly employs.

Any such restrictions that this Administration might implement would lead to an increase in the price of U.S. steel and depress the price of steel in foreign markets. This would lead to lower sales of domestically-built cars and trucks in the highly competitive U.S. auto market, a decrease in U.S. auto exports, and a loss of the jobs that those economic activities support. In the end, that would be a net-negative for the U.S. economy, and potentially the U.S. steel industry – the very sector such restrictions were designed to assist.

ASSOCIATION OF EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS (“AEM”)

AEM Represents 950 member companies that manufacture equipment and provide services for the construction, agriculture, utilities and mining sectors worldwide.  These manufacturers represent 1.3 million Americans, contribute $159 billion to the U.S. economy and raise over $25 billion in federal and state taxes each year.  As AEM states in its comments:

Manufacturing equipment in America frequently requires the sourcing of steel products  from around the world. While manufacturers in the United States often procure steel from domestic suppliers, they at times must source steel from international producers because the steel’s formula matches a specific spec required to ensure a piece of equipment’s proper function and performance that is not otherwise available in the United States. Inhibiting access to foreign steel will force manufacturers to procure steel from a domestic supplier that may not match required specifications, thus degrading the quality and performance of the equipment and risking operational safety concerns.  In cases where a particular type of steel is available from domestic suppliers, a sudden surge in demand will likely lead to extended procurement timeframes and delays in the manufacturing process.

Restricting the import of foreign steel will also ultimately have a very negative impact on the manufacturing competitiveness of the United States as domestic steel prices rise, and global steel prices fall when steel originally destined for the US enters global markets. With nearly 30 percent of equipment manufactured in the U.S. designated for export, U.S. manufactured exports will become uncompetitive in many global markets if manufacturers are forced to pay higher prices for necessary steel inputs. In addition, restricting raw material imports hurts American jobs by driving up the costs of value-added manufacturing in the U.S.  Furthermore, imported manufactured equipment will become much more competitive in the U.S. market as foreign manufacturers are able to produce and sell equipment at a much lower price by leveraging global steel markets.

CATO INSTITUTE—FORMER ITC COMMISSIONER DAN PEARSON

Former ITC Commissioner Dan Pearson presently at the Cato Institute made the following points:

First, the 232 investigation must be understood in the context of the existing U.S. steel marketplace. Roughly 200 antidumping or countervailing duty measures already are in place on steel products from a variety of countries. Steel currently is one of the most protected sectors in the U.S. economy.  . . .

Third, any further import restrictions would do far more harm to steel-using manufacturers than any benefit that could be provided to steel mills. That is simply due to the raw numbers. Steel mills employ just 140,000 workers.  Downstream manufacturers that use steel as an input employ 6.5 million, 46 times more. Steel mills account for a fairly small slice of the overall U.S. economy.  The $36 billion in economic value added by steel mills in 2015 equals only 0.2 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). By contrast, the economic value added by firms that use steel as an input was $1.04 trillion – 29 times more – or 5.8 percent of GDP.

Any government action to drive up steel prices by restricting imports will hurt steel-consuming manufacturers by artificially increasing their steel costs and reducing their competitiveness relative to companies overseas. It’s clear that the broad public would be harmed by additional steel import restrictions. A decline in U.S. economic welfare is not something the administration ought to pursue. It’s very difficult to have a stronger national defense when the economy is getting weaker.

FORGING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

The Forging Industry Association (FIA) is the Association representing the US forging industry.  The Comments state:

In 2016, custom forgings accounted for nearly $10.5 billion of sales in North America. An additional $3-5 billion in catalog and captive sales would bring the industry total for 2016 to the $13.5 – 15.5 billion range. The North American forging industry is comprised of nearly 500 forging operations in 38 states, Canada and Mexico, with the largest US presence of forging operations located in Ohio (79), Pennsylvania  (63), Illinois (54), Michigan (54), California (38), Texas (41), New York (16), Indiana (18), Wisconsin (17), Kentucky (13), Massachusetts (10), and South Carolina (9). . . .These operations provide more than 36,000 well-paid jobs and benefits.

As noted above, the steel forging industry supplies many products essential to national security, including numerous tank and automotive forgings for combat vehicles, small caliber weapons forgings, ordnance forgings, and forgings used in building airplanes, helicopters, ships and submarines. . . .

US steel forgers rely almost exclusively on domestically-produced SBQ steel. SBQ is specialty steel long products made to customer specifications suited for forging into the final product. Because it is heavy, bulky and expensive to ship long distances, the forging industry depends upon a healthy, competitive domestic SBQ steel industry to provide necessary raw material at globally competitive prices for steel forging here in the U.S. The “globally competitive prices” are critically important – if the price for domestic SBQ steel is higher in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world due to tariffs or trade restrictions, then we begin to see less imports of raw material and more imports of downstream products.

The US steel forging industry relies heavily on 6 domestic SBQ steel producers with mills in multiple locations. SBQ steel imports accounted for 15% of the consumption in 2016, and domestic consumption was 4 million tons of SBQ steel, while SBQ imports totaled only 600,000 tons.  This import volume has remained relatively flat over the past few years. . . . Generally speaking, we do not believe the SBQ steel industry has been adversely affected by steel imports. The domestic SBQ steel market is currently running close to capacity, and producers recently announced substantial price increases.

While SBQ raw material import penetration has been relatively insignificant, the import of steel forgings has grown significantly and at an ever increasing rate, threatening the health and viability of the domestic steel forging industry.   . . .

In effect, when current trade laws are used to remedy injury in one subsector of the economy, such as steel, they often shift the injury to another tier within the manufacturing sector.

INDUSTRIAL FASTENER INSTITUTE (“IFI”)

The IFI represents approximately 85% of fastener production capacity in North America, and there are few, if any, products used in the pursuit of national security that do not contain fasteners.

In its comments, the IFI stated:

In 2015, the U.S. fastener industry accounted for $13.4 billion (of a $69.6 billion global market), and is projected to grow +2.6% per year to roughly $15 billion by 2020. In the U.S., the fastener industry employs approximately 42,000 people at about 850 different manufacturing facilities.  . . ..

The fastener industry is critical to all segments of our manufacturing industrial base, including the defense industry.  .

Fastener manufacturing is a major consumer of metals, including steel. Since fasteners can be made anywhere in the world, the U.S. industry is dependent on access to adequate supplies of globally priced raw materials such as steel to remain globally competitive. . .  .

However, even with a healthy domestic industry, history has shown that fastener manufacturers must sometimes import raw material because the particular types of steel needed are not available in the quantities, quality or form required. (Fasteners are made out of round form, not sheet, flat or bar products.) By some accounts, the U.S. steel industry is able to produce only about 70 percent of the total steel consumed in the U.S. . . .

No one disputes that unfair trade exists, and that trade remedy laws can be a useful tool to combat it when it occurs. However, while the trade remedy laws can provide some protection for domestic metals producers, they are a double-edged sword for downstream users such as fastener manufacturers, who may be negatively impacted by higher raw material costs and may not be able to fully utilize the trade remedy laws themselves. In particular, downstream users of products subject to trade remedies have no standing under U.S. law to participate in the process that may lead to the imposition of duties on those products.  In addition, these downstream users are likely to be smaller companies who do not have the financial resources to pursue trade cases, which can cost millions of dollars to fully prosecute.

The fastener industry has experienced this scenario many times, where efforts to protect a basic raw material segment of the economy create unintended consequences throughout the rest of the economy. The most recent example occurred in 2002, when President Bush, at the urging of the U.S. steel industry concerned about a surge of imports, imposed 30% tariffs on nearly all imported steel under a Global Safeguard action. The impact on steel consuming industries was immediate and devastating. The evidence of harm to the broad economy grew quickly, leading President Bush to terminate the Global Safeguard order after only eighteen months instead of the full three years, but by then 1.3 million manufacturing jobs in steel consuming and related industries had been lost.

The fastener industry not only understands the need to ensure that the U.S. has the necessary industrial capacity to provide for our national defense needs, we are a vital part of that very capacity. To be frank, steel is a commodity until somebody makes it into a part/end item. We are concerned that the proposed 232 investigation will not give proper consideration to the importance of downstream industries to that industrial capacity.

MOTOR & EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION (MEMA)

MEMA represents 1,000 vehicle suppliers that manufacture and remanufacture components and systems for use in passenger cars and heavy trucks providing original equipment (OE) to new vehicles as well as aftermarket parts to service, maintain and repair over 260 million vehicles on the road today. In its comments, the MEMA stated:

the total employment impact of the motor vehicle parts manufacturing industry is 4.26 million jobs. Nearly $435 billion in economic contribution to the U.S. GDP is generated by the motor vehicle parts manufacturers and its supported activity. In total, motor vehicle parts suppliers contribute more than 77 percent of the value in today’s vehicles. .

Free and fair trade is imperative for a strong domestic supplier industry. Disruption to supply chains or increases in production costs will not contribute to the national security of the United States.

Our industry is closely associated with the U.S. defense industry.  . . . Adjustments to steel imports that prevent our members from obtaining the type of steel they need in a timely manner or increases to production costs would jeopardize our ability to manufacture in the United States and to provide these critical products to the U.S. defense industry.

Adjustments to steel imports will adversely impact MEMA member companies by disrupting U.S. manufacturing operations and increasing costs. Suppliers expect adjustments to steel imports to cause job losses due to a decrease in production if steel is not available in a timely manner or the costs of production increase. Adjustments to steel imports would also be likely to decrease overall U.S. production because production of the downstream products using steel subject to such adjustments would move abroad.

Member companies would have to compete with those finished goods imports, which likely would take market share from MEMA member companies. Finally, other countries may retaliate against the U.S. for imposing such restrictions by imposing their own restrictions, which could detrimentally impact exports of MEMA member companies.

MEMA member companies need specialized steel that either is not available at all in the U.S. or is not available in sufficient quantities. Certain foreign steel producers worked closely with MEMA member companies to develop the specialized steel and this type of collaboration benefits the U.S. by improving products. Continued access to these types of steel are critical to our industry. Attached to these comments is a non-exhaustive list of steel products that must be excluded from any import adjustments (see Appendix I). Several of our member companies are submitting exclusion requests directly as well. . . .

Motor vehicle component and systems manufacturers are the largest employers of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and many of these companies import steel of all types, including specialized steel products, to manufacture goods in the U.S. that are then sold to the U.S. defense industry, U.S. government and consumers. Disrupting American manufacturing operations or increasing costs through adjustments to steel imports would not benefit the national security of the United States. Such adjustments to steel imports would, in fact, detrimentally impact U.S. employment, compromising our economic and national security.

NATIONAL ELECTRICAL MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION (NEMA)

NEMA represents nearly 350 electrical and medical imaging manufacturers and stated in its comments:

Our combined industries account for more than 400,000 American jobs and more than 7,000 facilities across the U.S. Domestic production exceeds $117 billion per year and exports top $50 billion.

Many NEMA member companies import specific types of steel from abroad for their U.S. manufacturing operations. Accordingly, NEMA urges the Administration to refrain from recommending or pursuing measures to adjust imports of fairly-traded electrical steel.

Power and distribution transformers are essential components of the U.S. electrical grid. Grain oriented electrical steel (GOES) can be the most expensive material used in the manufacture of transformers as the steel core is a very large percentage of the overall cost of a transformer, more than 50% in some cases. GOES is also the most important material in terms of quality and performance of a transformer. . .  .

Some electrical steels are imported into the U.S. because they are not available from domestic or North American suppliers. Loss of access to these materials would cause grave harm to NEMA manufacturers, who would no longer be able to manufacture and supply DOE-compliant products, and their customers – which include U.S. electric utilities as well as tens of thousands of industrial, commercial, and defense/national security facilities – but would have no effect on domestic or North American steel manufacturers, since they do not manufacture/produce or offer for sale those materials today.

The significant anti-dumping and countervailing duties in place have effectively eliminated supply from the seven largest NOES-producing countries. There is only one North American producer of NOES, who is effectively petitioning the government to become a protected monopoly.

If access to NOES were to be restricted further based on this Section 232 investigation, U.S. production of finished goods would face even greater pressure to move outside the United States.

U.S. motor manufacturers should not be forced by government policy to purchase from only a single U.S. monopoly supplier.

U.S. electrical manufacturers compete in a global market. Measures to restrict or block access by U.S. finished-product manufacturing operations to fairly-traded essential materials will harm domestic manufacturing and high-paying manufacturing jobs, and national and economic security. It would be patently unacceptable and un-American for the U.S. government to prevent U.S. manufacturers to mitigate supply chain risks through the use of a diversity of suppliers of fairly-traded materials.

Similarly, suggestions that the federal government should place restrictions, on national security grounds, on the importation of fairly-traded components and finished goods could not be more misguided. If products are entering the U.S. at less than fair value and causing injury to a domestic industry producing like products, then U.S. trade remedy laws are in place to address such situations. Steel manufacturers/producers do not have standing to call for restrictions on fairly-traded imports of products that they do not manufacture; therefore motors, transformers and steel cores (regardless of size) should not be part of this Section 232 discussion.

Many commentators, including US Auto Parts companies, requested exclusion of their specific type of imported steel because the US steel producers could not produce the specific type of steel used to make the downstream products.

BORG WARNER

In its comments, Borg Warner, a large US auto parts company, first listed 18 different specific types of steel and parts produced from that steel and went on to state:

The list above is crucial to our U.S-manufactured products that require types of specialty steel that are not available domestically. The products we make with these specialty materials provide key essential vehicle propulsion technologies for improving fuel-efficiency, emissions, and performance. These technologies are critical in helping automakers meet federal regulations for Corporate Average Fuel (CAFE) standards and achieving better overall environmental conditions.

These technologies take many years to refine and often require specialized materials in its engineering and production. We have worked closely with these specialty steel suppliers to develop our products to ensure quality and affordability for our customers and consumers. Any major changes to our supply chain could hurt our engineering and manufacturing processes, delay production, and or jeopardize our ability to meet the vehicle production demands of the industry. If these steel exclusions are not granted, the cost of these types of products would increase and ultimately be passed onto the consumers in the overall price of the vehicle. Most importantly, a major shift in steel supply could hurt U.S. vehicle sales and therefore negatively impact U.S. automotive manufacturing jobs.

BSH HOME APPLIANCE

In its comments, BSH states that it manufactures appliances sold under the Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau names at factories in North Carolina and Tennessee, with warehouses, sales offices and show rooms throughout the United States.  BSH further states in its comments:

If the Department decides that some steel is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten or impair the national security, BSH requests that steel used for home appliances—light gauge sheet metal, galvanized pre-painted steel, and light gauge stainless steel—be exempt from that determination. . . .

Steel is one of the main materials used by home appliance manufacturers in the construction of their products. In particular, home appliance manufacturers typically use light gauge sheet metal, galvanized pre-painted steel, and light gauge stainless steel in the construction of their products. These materials are critical to the design, function, and durability of home appliances and, should the Department decide to recommend action, we ask that the steel used for home appliances be exempt.

First, we are concerned that any action to ban or limit the quantity of steel imported into the United States will overly burden U.S. steel capacity. U.S. steel capacity is insufficient to meet the demands of industry, including the home appliance industry. Were steel to become more difficult to source, it would hamper the industry’s ability to deliver products to consumers. In addition, some manufactures use specialty steel that is simply not available in the U.S. and must be sourced internationally.

Second, foreign competition in the steel industry improves the welfare of the home appliance industry, which is a low margin business. Competition between U.S. steel producers and international steel producers results in lower steel prices. Without this competitive pricing, it is likely that the home appliance industry could become less competitive and/or, in some cases, would need to pass price increases onto consumers.

Moreover, an action to impose a ban or limit on the quantity of steel imported into the United States or a tariff on steel imports is a disincentive to manufacture home appliances in the United States. It is likely that, in response to such actions, companies producing products domestically would be at a disadvantage compared to products produced internationally. Thus, limits on imported steel and/or tariffs on imported steel could result in companies deciding to produce home appliances outside of the United States in an effort to avoid higher steel prices or the unavailability of domestic steel. . . .

The Department and the President must ensure that in assisting one industry, they do not negatively impact others.

BUSINESS AND INSTITUTIONAL FURNITURE MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION (“BIFMA”)

BIFMA is the trade association for business and institutional furniture producers and is the Association for the commercial furniture industry.  BIFMA stated in its May 31st comments:

It is difficult to imagine how it is in our national security or national economic interests to impose tariffs or quotas that risk thousands of jobs in steel-consuming industries. Disregarding or discounting the economic impact of adjustments on consuming industries could have serious and unintended consequences. We urge the Department to refrain from, or carefully limit, any import adjustment recommendations.

Any adjustment to steel imports is likely to increase steel prices domestically. Adjustments that restrict supply and increase costs domestically will cause significant, negative financial consequences for companies. A sudden increase in material costs would be extremely detrimental for our members and the customers that they supply . . . . We urge the Department to take into consideration the serious ramifications to steel- consuming manufacturers while considering any recommendation it may make to the President.

STEEL BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES

In its May 31st comments, more than ten steel building and construction companies stated:

Our companies produce building materials, such as prefabricated building sections, roofs, etc. from galvalume and galvanized steel coils.  Our companies are very concerned about the threat to our company’s future if the imports of flat rolled galvalume steel we rely on are restricted by additional tariffs or quotas. Only a few American mills produce galvalume at all; those mills are not interested in selling this at a competitive price to most users. There also are not enough mills producing this product to satisfy demand. Only certain selected customers are able get pricing at competitive levels. Without access to imported galvalume, our ability to compete will be reduced or eliminated.

American national security is not threatened by imports of galvalume. Not only are coated products not used in defense applications; most American mils are profitable, to the extent that they are expanding their coated steel operations, not reducing them.  . .

We urge you to not restrict the steel imports that are vital to our survival.

TRANSFORMER MANUFACTURERS

Several transformer manufacturers stated in their comments:

The proposal made in oral comments that the Department initiate remedies on the import of electrical grade steel, including GOES, deeply troubles the Transformer Manufacturers. This proposal presumes that the importation of GOES or cut steel for use in power transformers is a threat the national security. We propose that protecting the interests of the domestic transformer manufacturers and their employees is more vital to national security than the risk associated with importing GOES, which only accounts for a portion of the total market. One thing is certain of the proposal if adopted as recommended, it will severely damage the domestic transformer marketplace, the underlying companies and their United States employees. . . .

Simply put, at present there is no other domestic alternative to AK Steel as a source of GOES. Granting its requested relief will, in effect, further entrench a domestic de facto monopoly for GOES. While each of the below entities wants to continue to work with AK Steel and maintain positive commercial relationships, the potential economic impact of an unrestricted sole-source domestic provider could be devastating on the domestic transformer manufacturing industry.

TRUCK AND ENGINE MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

EMA represents the world’s leading manufacturers of heavy- duty commercial vehicles, as well as the world’s leading manufacturers of the internal combustion engines that power the vehicles and equipment used in virtually all applications other than passenger cars and aircraft.  In its comments EMA stated:

members maintain significant manufacturing operations in the United States that employ tens of thousands of workers engaged in the manufacture of, among other things: trucks, buses, heavy-duty pickups and vans, construction and agricultural equipment, mining equipment, law and garden equipment, along with the wide array of internal combustion engines that power those myriad applications, as well as the engines that power locomotives and marine vessels. All of those very significant and vital manufacturing operations – operations that quite literally produce the machinery that powers and moves our domestic economy – use significant amounts of steel. As a result, EMA and its members have a significant stake in the DOC’s pending investigation.  . . .

While all of those concerns are certainly genuine and significant, there is also a significant national interest in ensuring that domestic manufacturers are not forced to purchase steel at prices that are materially higher than those that prevail in foreign manufacturing markets.

Steel is a key commodity in the manufacture of the goods produced by EMA’s members. In addition, those steel-derived goods are sold into world-wide markets, and so necessarily compete with goods manufactured in multiple foreign locations. To the extent that U.S.-based manufacturers are compelled to pay more for necessary steel inputs than their foreign competitors, they will be at a significant and unfair disadvantage from the outset.

Restrictions on the imports of steel could result in increases in the price of steel based on reduced supplies in the U.S. marketplace. That cost increase, as noted above, could cause significant competitive disadvantages for U.S.-based manufacturers that utilize steel as a key commodity in their manufacturing operations. It also could force manufacturers to pass on higher prices for their finished goods to U.S. consumers, thereby compounding the negative impacts of the increased price of steel in the U.S. Accordingly, in addition to the important concerns that are motivating the DOC’s investigation, the DOC should take into account, and give high priority to, the potential impacts on the competitiveness of U.S.-based manufacturers. A proper assessment of those impacts should be a key component of any recommendation that the DOC submits to the President on this matter.

Previous experience with additional tariffs and related restrictions on steel imports is highly instructive. In 2002, the U.S. government imposed tariffs on a broad range of steel imports over a 3-year period. In subsequent studies of the economic impact of those tariffs, it was found that the tariffs had resulted in a number of unintended adverse consequences, including the following: (i) 200,000 Americans lost their jobs due to higher steel prices; (ii) one-quarter of those job losses occurred in the machinery and equipment, and transportation equipment sectors; (iii) every U.S. State experienced employment losses from higher steel costs; and (iv) steel tariffs caused shortages and higher steel prices that put U.S. manufacturers of steel-containing products at a disadvantage relative to their foreign competitors. The same types of unintended adverse consequences could result in this case, depending on the types of “adjustments” to steel imports that the DOC may choose to recommend as an outcome of the pending study. . . .

Like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, US manufacturers that rely on steel as a key raw material input are crying their warning about imposing restrictions on steel imports.  Many more jobs on a factor of 10 could be lost by the restraints than are saved by the restraints.  The real question is whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and President Trump are listening.

ALUMINUM

On April 27, 2017, President Trump and the US Commerce Department self-initiated a Section 232 National Security case against imports of aluminum from all countries.  See the attached documents related to the Case Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Aluminum on US National S ALUMINUM FED REG PUB Aluminum Presidential Memo Summary.  The hearing will be June 22, 2017 at the Commerce Department.

Trump has indicated that he is expecting the Aluminum report by the end of June.  But the hearing will be held on June 22nd with written comments due by June 29th.  That certainly shows a rush to protectionist judgment when aluminum users will have the same concerns as steel users.

DONALD TRUMP AND RONALD REAGAN—DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE IN ONE IMPORTANT AREA—TRADE

It is important to note that there is one area in which President Ronald Reagan and President Donald Trump are diametrically, 180 degrees opposite and that is trade.  None of the news shows that are Pro-Trump and Pro-Republican highlight the trade views of the Gipper, but he was certainly no Donald Trump and Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan when it comes to trade.

At a time like this, it is important to review President Reagan’s June 28, 1986 speech on international trade. President Reagan knew something that President Trump does not work.  Protectionism destroys jobs.  As Reagan stated:

Now, I know that if I were to ask most of you how you like to spend your Saturdays in the summertime, sitting down for a nice, long discussion of international trade wouldn’t be at the top of the list. But believe me, none of us can or should be bored with this issue. Our nation’s economic health, your well-being and that of your family’s really is at stake.

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

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

By this time, of course, the protected industry is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition. And that, my friends, is when the factories shut down and the unemployment lines start. We had an excellent example of this in our own history during the Great Depression. Most of you are too young to remember this, but not long after the stock market crash of 1929, the Congress passed something called the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Many economists believe it was one of the worst blows ever to our economy. By crippling free and fair trade with other nations, it internationalized the Depression. It also helped shut off America’s export market, eliminating many jobs here at home and driving the Depression even deeper. . . .

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.

Now I know that others, including USTR Lighthizer himself, argue that Reagan was not really a free trader.  But the trade actions he took, including his appointment of very free traders as ITC Commissioners, show that Reagan deeply understood the dangers of protectionism.  He lived through the Great Depression and the effects of the 1930 Smoot Hawley Tariff Act.  Donald Trump did not live during that time period and the comments of the US Steel users above indicate that President Trump does not understand the dangers of protectionism.

SOLAR 201 ESCAPE CLAUSE CASE

On May 17, 2017, Suniva filed a Section 201 Escape Clause against all Solar Cell imports from all countries at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  On May 23, 2017, in the attached Federal Register notice, ITC iNITIATION NOTICE SOLAR CELLS, the ITC decided to go ahead and institute the case.  If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, within 60 days the President must decide whether or not to impose import relief, which can be in the form of increased tariffs, quotas or an orderly marketing agreements.

At the ITC, Section 201 cases are a two stage process.  The ITC must first determine whether “crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) cells (whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products) are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or the threat thereof, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported articles.”  The ITC has determined that the investigation is “extraordinarily complicated” and will make its injury determination within 128 days after the petition was filed, or by September 22, 2017. The Commission will submit to the President the report required under section 202(f) of the Act (19 U.S.C. § 2252(f)(1)) within 180 days after the date on which the petition was filed, or by November 13, 2017.

Notices of appearance at the ITC are due on June 22nd at the ITC.  During the injury phase of the investigation, the ITC will hold an injury hearing on August 15, 2017.  Prehearing briefs are due at the ITC on August 8, 2017.  Posthearing briefs will be due at the ITC on August 22nd.

If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, it will go into a remedy phase and the hearing in that phase will be on October 3, 2017.

COMMERCE AND ITC DEADLINES ARE VERY VERY STRICT

In the ongoing Tool Chests from China antidumping case, Commerce just bounced nine Separate Rates Applications from Chinese companies filed by a US law firm on the due date because of computer problems at Commerce and the law firm.  Most documents are now filed electronically at both the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission in trade cases.  Computer problems and other filing issues are why we are so paranoid about Commerce and ITC deadlines and try to file documents, if possible, before the deadline date.

Computer systems including the Commerce and ITC computer systems, can have problems and one can miss the deadline.  If deadlines are missed, truly there is hell to pay.

ALUMINUM PALLETS ARE WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CASE

In the attached memorandum, PALLETS IN ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CASE, to prevent circumvention, the Commerce Department has determined to include aluminum pallets in the Aluminum Extrusions case.  In one situation, one Chinese producer/exporter exported 1000s of aluminum pallets into the US in an attempt to evade the antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders on Aluminum Extrusions.

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

FINE DENIER POLYESTER STAPLE FIBER

On May 31, 2017, DAK Americas LLC, Nan Ya Plastics Corporation, America, and Auriga Polymers Inc. filed an AD and CVD petition against imports of Fine Denier Polyester Staple Fiber from China, India, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.  The preliminary determination in the CVD case is due October 28th and the AD Preliminary Determination is due December 27, 2017.

CITRIC ACID AND CITRATE SALTS FROM BELGIUM, COLOMBIA AND THAILAND

On June 2, 2017, Archer Daniels Midland Company, Cargill, Incorporated, and Tate & Lyle Ingredients America LLC filed AD and CVD petitions against imports of Citric Acid and Certain Citrate Salts (“Citric Acid”) from Belgium, Colombia, and Thailand.

AD duties are imposed on subject imports that are found to be sold in the United States at less than “normal value.” CVD duties are imposed on imports that benefit from unfair government subsidies. For AD/CVD duties to be imposed, the U.S. government must determine not only that dumping or subsidization is occurring, but also that the subject imports are causing “material injury” or “threat of material injury” to the domestic industry.

This is the second AD/CVD case filed against Citric Acid. AD/CVD orders were previously imposed on citric acid from Canada and China in 2009.  The cases are targeting Chinese subsidiary companies in Thailand and other countries.

Alleged AD Rates

Belgium: 56.02 – 118.44%

Colombia: 41.18 – 49.46%

Thailand: 4.6 – 67.1%

Petitioner also identified various Thai government subsidy programs under the Thai Investment Promotion Act, along with other export-import loans, grants and export promotion measures.

Estimated Schedule of AD/CVD Investigations

June 2, 2017 – Petition filed

June 22, 2017 – DOC initiates investigations

June 23, 2017 – ITC staff conference

July 17, 2017 – ITC Preliminary Determination

October 30, 2017 – DOC CVD Preliminary Determination (assuming extended deadline)

December 29, 2017 – DOC AD Preliminary Determination (assuming extended deadline)

May 13, 2018 – DOC AD/CVD final determinations (assuming AD, CVD aligned and extended)

June 27, 2018 – ITC Final Determination (extended)

July 4, 2018 – DOC AD/CVD orders issued (extended).

OTHER TRADE CASES

SECTION 201 ESCAPE CLAUSE CASE AGAINST RESIDENTIAL WASHERS

On May 31, 2017, Whirlpool Corp. filed another Section 201 Escape Clause case against imports of Large Residential Washers.  The petition indicates that this is an attempt by Whirlpool to go after the Korean producers, including Samsung.  Whirlpool tried AD and CVD cases against Korea, but that failed because the Korean producers moved to another country.  Now like the Solar Cells 201 case, the US producer is trying to close the holes in the trade protection.

But do note another point, what is the major raw material input for residential washing machines—Steel. When US steel prices are many times higher than the world market price, that puts US steel users at a major competitive disadvantage.

USTR ROBERT LIGHTHIZER CONFIRMED—NAFTA FIGHT

Countries are still gearing up for NAFTA negotiations.  President Trump has told USTR Lighthizer not to do any damage and add to the bottom line.

Attached is an article with my quotes about the Mexico/Sugar suspension agreement to settle the dumping case against Mexico, Wilbur Ross likely will impose Mexico sugar deal over industry objections.  The Suspension Agreement will be finalized on June 30th with some possible tweaks to make the US industry feel better.  In fact, on June 16, 2017, Politico reported that the US sugar industry has given its blessing to the US-Mexico sugar deal making Commerce Secretary Ross’s day.  As Secretary Ross stated:

“I am glad all parties have agreed that the new sugar agreement is fair and addresses the shortcomings of the original deal.  I look forward to seeing the public comments on this deal, but am hopeful that we can successfully implement this new agreement with the support and cooperation of all stakeholders.”

The Sugar deal shows that Wilbur Ross wants to clear up trade issues before the NAFTA negotiations begin in earnest so we can expect a similar deal in the Lumber case.

On June 14, 2017, Robert Samuelson, a well-known economist, in an article in the Washington Post entitled “Trump is Deluded About NAFTA” stated:

The Trump administration is determined to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — which created a single market from Mexico’s southern border to the Yukon — but the main political appeal of this policy rests on a popular myth: that “fair” trade requires the United States to have a surplus or balanced trade with both Mexico and Canada.

We are supposed to feel especially aggrieved that Mexico regularly has a sizable surplus with us, $63.2 billion in goods in 2016, according to Commerce Department figures. This shows, as the president repeatedly has said, that U.S. trade officials negotiated a bad deal for American firms and workers. Trump has promised to do much better.  That will be hard. . . .

In addition, the trade imbalances within NAFTA aren’t as large as they seem. It’s true — as noted — that the United States had a $63.2 billion deficit in goods trade (cars, computers, plastics) with Mexico. But the U.S. surplus on services (travel, transportation, consulting) was $7.6 billion, reducing the overall deficit with Mexico to $55.6 billion. On the same basis, covering goods and services, the United States had a trade surplus of $12.5 billion with Canada in 2016.

So: The total trade deficit with Canada and Mexico was $43.1 billion ($55.6 billion minus $12.5 billion). All trade — exports and imports — between the United States and Canada and Mexico totaled $1.207 trillion in 2016. Our net deficit equaled 3.5 percent of total trade and about two-tenths of 1 percent of U.S. GDP. This hardly seems crushing.

Against that backdrop, the notion that either Canada or Mexico is going to offer the United States vast new markets in their countries — without corresponding U.S. concessions — seems wishful thinking. “The administration appears to perceive Mexico and perhaps Canada as surplus countries,” writes [Fred} Bergsten, “whereas they (more accurately) see themselves as deficit countries,” seeking to increase exports or dampen imports. This is Trump’s delusion.

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES

Although the Trump Administration says that the Border Adjustment tax (“BAT”) is dead, it continues to raise its head.  On June 7th Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch stated at a global transfer pricing conference in Washington DC that although Congressional Republicans and the White House are generally 80 percent in agreement on key issues for tax reform, he has not ruled out the BAT proposal.

Hatch noted the resistance against the BAT, including from certain industries that are “downright apoplectic” about it, but then went on to state that it will have a difficult time becoming law:

“I don’t think I’m making any news when I say that, given the small margin of error we have in the Senate and the number of senators who oppose the very concept of a [BAT], the proposal will have a difficult time becoming law. That said, I want to see the specifics of the proposal and find out if it works like its proponents say it will. Until then, I’m not going to publicly rule anything out.”

Hatch also said on Wednesday that the tax reform plan should include a conversion to a territorial system, which would see only revenue generated in the U.S. taxed. Under the current system, all revenue earned by U.S. ­incorporated companies, regardless of where it is earned, is taxed.  As Hatch stated

“My position has, I believe, remained clear: A territorial system will put us on par with other industrialized countries and allow our businesses to compete in the global marketplace.”

On June 15, 2017, it was reported that Kevin Brady, Chairman of House Ways and Means, has proposed a five year transition to a BAT to make it more palatable.  As Brady stated:

“My current thinking on border adjustment … is a five-year transition.  We’ll be lifting the ‘Made in America’ tax [on exports] at the same rate.  A very gradual five-year phase-in really resolves a lot of the challenges.”

But many opponents argued that a five year transition did not make the BAT a good idea.

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES – A BETTER ALTERNATIVE TRADE REMEDY WHICH ACTUALLY WORKS

As indicated in previous blog posts, I feel very strongly about the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program because with very low funding it has a true track record of saving US companies.  In fact, in the ongoing Section 201 case on Solar Cells, the statute requires the industry seeking protection to provide a trade adjustment plan to the Commission to explain how the industry intends to adjust if trade relief is provided.  The problem is that the Commission is not the entity with experience on determining whether the Trade Adjustment plans are viable.  The entities with that experience in trade adjustment plans are the various trade adjustment centers throughout the US.

Donald Trump’s proposed budget, however, would 0 out the trade adjustment assistance for companies program.  Although Secretary Wilbur Ross has made it very clear he wants to increase exports to reach the 3% plus growth rate, putting protectionist walls up to limit imports of steel, aluminum and many other products invites retaliation.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program does not put up barriers to imports.  Instead the TAA for Companies program works with US companies injured by imports to make them more competitive.  The objective of TAA for Companies is to save the company and by saving the company it saves the jobs that go with that company.

In contrast to TAA for workers, TAAF or TAA for Companies is provided by the Economic Development Administration at 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.

Right now the total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $12.5 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.  In his budget, Trump increases TAA for Workers, but kills TAA for Companies.  Yet to retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job is $5,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

Moreover, TAA for Firms/Companies works.  In the Northwest, where I am located, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, http://www.nwtaac.org/, has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program since 1984. The Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, http://www.mataac.org, uses a video, http://mataac.org/howitworks/, to show in detail how the program resulted in significant turnarounds for four companies. The reason the TAA for Firms/Companies is so successful—Its flexibility in working with companies on an individual basis to come up with a specific adjustment plan to make them competitive once again in the US market as it exists today.  For a sample recovery plan, see http://mataac.org/documents/2014/06/sample-adjustment-plan.pdf, which has been developed specific to the strengths, weaknesses and threats each company faces.

But as also stated in my last blog post, in this environment with so many injured companies, funding for TAA for Firms/Companies has to be increased so it can do its job.   Moreover, with the threats of a massive trade war in the air, which will injure all US companies and destroy US jobs, the US government needs to look at an alternative—TAA for Firms/Companies is that alternative.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law.  Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.22 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.23

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NO NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, the impact on downstream industries, the Section 232 cases, the 201 case against Solar Cells, border adjustment taxes, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP’S TRADE WAR AGAINST DOWNSTREAM INDUSTRIES, SECTION 232 CASES STEEL AND ALUMINUM, SECTION 201 CASE SOLAR CELLS, BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES, NAFTA AND 337

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR MAY 26, 2017

Dear Friends,

This blog post is coming out very late because I have been very busy with so many trade cases being filed.  In fact, this is the most trade cases I have seen in my lifetime filed in such a short period.  Every day there seems to be another trade case.

For the last two weeks I have been intensely involved in an antidumping and countervailing duty case on mechanical tubing.  We are representing auto parts companies, which have warned the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) if they go affirmative and find injury in the case, in all probability the companies will close their US operations and move offshore.  The US producers bringing the petition want to force auto parts companies to buy their commodity mechanical tubing, which is sold to the oil & gas industry and goes down a hole.  The auto industry needs made to order mechanical tubing as their raw material because of the advanced designs and safety requirements in the United States.

If the United States is going to block raw materials, US downstream industries will have no choice.  They will move offshore to obtain the high quality raw materials they need to not only be competitive but also produce high quality safe auto parts.  In this first article below, one can read directly the public statements of these auto parts producers to the ITC.

Meanwhile, Trump is increasing the trade war.  Throughout the Presidential campaign, Trump threatened to put tariffs on many different products.  With Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross, President Trump has discovered Section 232 National Security cases against Steel and Aluminum.  There are no checks on the President’s power in Section 232 cases.  No check at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), the Courts or the WTO.  Once the Commerce Department issues a report, then Trump has the power to impose tariffs or other remedies.

If you look at the link to the Commerce Department hearing in the Section 232 Steel case, at the end of the hearing you will hear numerous downstream companies telling Commerce to exclude their products and if they cannot get the imported steel, their companies will close.

Meanwhile, numerous antidumping and countervailing duty cases have been filed against aluminum foil, tool chests, biodiesel, tooling and aircraft just to name a few.  As described below, Trump has found his Trade War, but the real victim in this trade war may be US downstream industries.

In addition to two Section 232 cases, Suniva has filed a Section 201 case against imports of solar cells from every country.  The main targets appear to be third world countries where Chinese companies have moved their production facilities and Canada and Mexico.  The ironic point of this filing is that Solar World, the company that brought the original Solar Cells and Solar products cases against China, has now become insolvent and just today announced that it is supporting the petition.  Companies that were buying solar cells from Solar World all of a sudden cannot get the solar cells they paid for because of the insolvency.

Maybe this is why Trade Adjustment Assistance to Companies is so important.  With TAA, Solar World might have been saved with no damage to the US Polysilicon industry.  But despite the fact that section 201 requires US companies to submit adjustment plans and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers are the real trade adjustment experts, President Trump has zeroed out the Trade Adjustment Centers in his budget.  Apparently all President Trump wants to do is to put up protectionist walls to protect US companies and industries, rather than make them more competitive.  Very short sighted.

On the Trade Policy side, with protectionist walls appear to be going up.  Lighthizer was just confirmed as USTR and immediately plunged into NAFTA negotiations.  USTR Lighthizer has pledged to protect agriculture in the negotiations.

The only good news is that when Trump released his Tax Plan, border adjustment taxes were not part of the proposal.  But in a recent hearing before the House Ways and Means, one could tell Congressmen are split, but Republicans want border adjustment taxes.  On May 23rd, however, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told House Democrats on Ways and Means that he and President Trump are opposed to the Border Adjustment tax.

One interesting note is that Trump’s proposal to cut corporate taxes to 15% has China scared.  Chinese companies could move to the US to set up production

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR

With the number of trade cases being filed, including the Section 232 cases against Steel and Aluminum, which give President Trump carte blanche authority to issue tariffs and other import restrictions, the President truly is creating a trade war.  Trump’s threat to kill NAFTA scared Canada and Mexico to come to the table.  One of the reasons for Trump’s threat is the Canadian threat not to drop its barriers to US dairy exports.

One Canadian Parliament member threatened President Trump not to get so tough on trade.  The member should understand that such threats play right into the hands of Donald Trump and his argument that NAFTA is not truly a free trade agreement.

But all these threats and trade cases will make it very difficult to conclude trade agreements. In looking at Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s plan to get to 3% GDP increase, one pillar of the plan is increased exports.  Exports, however, will not increase if there is a trade war, and it sure looks like that is going to happen.

From January 1, 2017 through March 31, 2017, the GDP was an anemic 0.7%.  Trump has to change that dramatically and deciding to have a trade war with every country is not the way to change the GDP number.

In fact, all these trade cases could be the Achilles heal of Trump’s Economic policy.  Trump’s carrots to encourage domestic industry, including lowering taxes and cutting regulations, are not the issue.  Protectionist walls to try and protect raw material industries, however, will have an opposite effect because of the collateral damage these orders will have on US downstream producers, which use these raw material inputs.  As Ronald Reagan stated, “Protectionism becomes destructionism; it costs jobs.”  But protectionism is not a partisan issue, as the only one more protectionist than President Trump may be the Democratic party.

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR ON DOWNSTREAM INDUSTRIES—COLD DRAWN MECHANICAL TUBING

To understand the real impact of the Trump Steel War on downstream industries, including the US auto parts and automobile industries, read the quotes below.  The Automobile Industry is going to be hit hard.

On April 19, 2017, ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, PTC Alliance Corp., Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc. (collectively, “Petitioners”) filed an antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) petition against imports of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from China, Germany, India, Italy, Korea and Switzerland.

Cold-drawn mechanical tubing can be sold as a commodity product to be used in the oil & gas, mining, agricultural and construction industries.  Certain types of mechanical tubing are also sold as commodity products to the auto industry to produce axles and drive shafts, but there is another segment of the auto parts industry, which produces specialized automotive products.  Because of US safety requirements, the specialized auto products companies need made to order mechanical tubing.  They cannot simply buy mechanical tubing off the shelf.  Petitioners, however, want the auto parts companies to buy their commodity products.

In order to win the antidumping and the countervailing duty case, Petitioners must establish dumping and subsidization at the Commerce Department and injury to the U.S. industry at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  Once the petition was filed, the ITC immediately started up its 45 day preliminary injury investigation.   On May 10, 2017, the ITC held a hearing in Washington DC in the preliminary investigation and then we submitted a post-conference brief.

We represent in the case importers and two US auto parts companies. The importers, including these specialized auto parts companies, are very worried because the Commerce Department preliminary determinations, which will be issued very soon on September 16, 2017 (“CVD)” and November 15, 2017 (“AD”),  are when their liability begins.  With the Trump Administration and the Commerce Department’s war on steel imports, the duties are expected to be very high.  This is especially true with regard to China since Commerce does not use actual Chinese prices and costs to determine dumping.  Like many downstream customers in US AD and CVD cases, the customers are telling the ITC that they may have to close production and move offshore to get access to the higher quality competitive raw steel products.  Our hope is that the ITC will listen to these arguments, but to date the ITC has ignored them.  End users do not have standing in AD and CVD cases at the ITC.

As stated in our ITC postconference brief:

“The Petitioners/US mechanical tubing industry in this case will recover as their commodity markets in the energy, agricultural, mining and machinery markets recover.  But since antidumping and countervailing duty orders stay in place for 5 to 30 years, the impact of this case on the US downstream auto part and automobile industries will last for many years.

If the Commission goes affirmative in this case, we will see many auto parts producers close shop and move to another country where they can buy the high quality mechanical tubing that they need to compete with the loss of thousands of US jobs.  Many of these companies, including voestalpline Rotec Inc., already have operations in Canada, Mexico and through their parent company in numerous other countries and they will move their operations to obtain the high quality raw materials that they need to safely compete in the downstream auto parts market.”

As Andrew Ball, President, of voestalpine Rotec in Lafayette, Indiana stated at the Preliminary Conference:

“Our customers will not allow a change in the supply base, and this material is absolutely not available from these U.S. producers, thus making the decision to move equipment to other countries or procuring the completed components from our other global facilities in Austria, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Poland a likely outcome.

With so much discussion surrounding trade imbalance, it is ironic that because of this case, we as a U.S. manufacturer will be forced to relocate millions of dollars of manufacturing equipment with significant loss of U.S. jobs for specialty high value, highly engineered components because several commodity U.S. producers are determined to ignore market realities.

I can say with a high degree of certainty that none of the petitioners will see one extra pound, not one single foot of material as a result of this action.  I am certain, however, that companies like ours and our customers will accelerate the relocation of domestic manufacturing to other countries, and all this business will flow in NAFTA region as semi-finished components, thus avoiding the dumping duty altogether. . . .

I simply cannot ignore the reality that the automotive industry waits for no one and for nothing.  To highlight this point, in 2013 our facility took a direct hit from an F-3 tornado, obliterating 30 percent of our manufacturing capacity.  Within 48 hours, we had the rest of the facility fully operational and with the help of our international partners and domestic competition, we had the balance of our business sourced and supplying parts to assembly facilities throughout the world within four days. Not one single production line was affected as a result. . . .

That was a natural disaster.  This one is man-made, and I can assure you that in 45 days if this case is not dismissed, these actions will accelerate the market forces already working against our U.S. manufacturing base and will either force our hand or the hand of our customers to move business overseas in many places closer to the customer locations in Mexico, to ensure the continuity of cost, quality and service, resulting in the loss of precious U.S. manufacturing jobs, future investment and all but killing the chances of fixing the trade imbalance.”

As Andrew Ball further stated in the ITC Postconference brief:

“This petition puts at risk our factory, our jobs and the factories and jobs of our US customers and subcontractors. Increases to prices that are already considered high in the global market will result in our customers resourcing our business to other suppliers or will force them to insist that we move equipment to other locations in the world to avoid this unjustified action. I was always raised that before I ask for help it was expected that I had done everything I could to help myself. Why then have none of the petitioners made sales calls to my organization looking to reform or start a partnership ahead of this action? Unfortunately, if you vote affirmative, resource decisions will be taken well ahead of the final DOC determination for risk mitigation purposes. I trust that you will analyze all details in this case and make your determination based on clear “facts and data.”

Another auto parts company stated in the brief:

We have fixed contracts with our vendors and customers, so any increase in piece price will be countered by evaluating the region that we manufacture products in or may require that we look at bringing in the  components from other countries. If your vote is affirmative then we will be making these decisions ahead of  the determination by the DOC in September as the risk is too high to wait.

If these auto parts component companies do not move, their customers, the auto parts producers, which are multi-nationals, will move because auto parts companies cannot buy commodity products when safety issues are a concern.  Product Liability cases can bankrupt an auto parts producer.

In her statement at the Preliminary Conference, Julie Ellis, President of Tube Fabrication of Logansport, Indiana echoed Andrew Ball’s statement:

The impact of this case on downstream manufacturing operations will result in the loss of thousands of jobs, maybe even more jobs than those saved by the case.  If we are unable to provide our customers with tube components at a competitive global price, they will be forced to move production from the United States to other countries.

Most of our customers already have global operations in place and have the ability to divert the production away from the U.S. locations to remain competitive.  The loss of business would not only impact businesses like TFI, but coating facilities, plating operations, heat treating, tool and die shops, machine shops, testing facilities, transportation companies, along with our customers’ U.S. facilities, and further downstream manufacturing.

In other words, in response to this petition, we fear that U.S. automotive companies will simply shift and procure the final parts with the tubes in them from multiple overseas operations.  From our point of view, this case will not result in any more tubes being switched to U.S. producers.  Instead, it will simply be a lose-lose situation.

TFI is representative of many U.S. producers at a comparable level of U.S. production.  The inability of Tube Fabrication and other companies in similar situations to remain competitive will result in a tremendous loss of jobs in the U.S. downstream manufacturing sector.  We will be forced to either move portions of our operations to Mexico, where we currently ship 20 percent of the components that we manufacture in the United States and/or cut USW jobs and benefits.

In her statement attached to the Brief, Julie Ellis states:

This is a rural community with limited manufacturing operations. We are an asset to the local economy, pay our taxes and provide community support. Thru the years we have watched as many of the local manufacturing companies have closed up operations and moved to Mexico and overseas. The inability of Tube Fabrication and other companies in similar situations, to remain competitive, could result in a tremendous loss of jobs in the downstream US manufacturing sector. It could potentially equate to thousands of people being displaced. We must have the ability to procure our raw materials at a competitive global price or we will lose business! As I said in my statement at the hearing, 20% of the components that we manufacture ship to Mexico. Please don’t force us to be the next ones to go!

Petitioners argue that respondents are simply exaggerating the problem and that the issue is simply dumped low import prices.  But in this case, the issue is not just price; it is quality.  As one importer, Salem Steel, stated at the Preliminary Conference, the same scenario played out as a result of the Section 201 Steel case, where many steel products were shut out of the US market:

“This scenario has happened before. One widely quoted study by Dr. Joseph Francois and Laura Baughman of Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC showed that as a result of Section 201 investigation brought at the behest of the U.S. steel industry, 200,000 Americans lost their jobs to higher steel prices in 2002.

More Americans lost their jobs to higher steel prices in 2002 than the total number employed by the entire steel industry itself in the U.S.  Every U.S. state experienced employment losses from higher steel costs, with the highest losses occurring in California, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.”

In the attached Trade Partnership article, STEEL USERS ARTICLE1, Dr. Joseph Francois and Laura Baughman state at page 1 and 2 of their article that as a result of the Section 201 trade restrictions on steel:

“200,000 Americans lost their jobs to higher steel prices during 2002. These lost jobs represent approximately $4 billion in lost wages from February to November 2002.

One out of four (50,000) of these job losses occurred in the metal manufacturing, machinery and equipment and transportation equipment and parts sectors.

Job losses escalated steadily over 2002, peaking in November (at 202,000 jobs), and slightly declining to 197,000 jobs in December.

More American workers lost their jobs in 2002 to higher steel prices than the total number employed by the U.S. steel industry itself (187,500 Americans were employed by U.S. steel producers in December 2002).

Every U.S. state experienced employment losses from higher steel costs, with the highest losses occurring in California (19,392 jobs lost), Texas (15,826 jobs lost), Ohio (10,553 jobs lost), Michigan (9,829 jobs lost), Illinois (9,621 jobs lost), Pennsylvania (8,400 jobs lost), New York (8,901 jobs lost) and Florida (8,370 jobs lost). Sixteen states lost at least 4,500 steel consuming jobs each over the course of 2002 from higher steel prices. . . .

Steel tariffs caused shortages of imported product and put U.S. manufacturers of steel-containing products at a disadvantage relative to their foreign competitors. In the absence of the tariffs, the damage to steel consuming employment would have been significantly less than it was in 2002.

The analysis shows that American steel consumers have borne heavy costs from higher steel prices caused by shortages, tariffs and trade remedy duties, among other factors. Some customers of steel consumers have moved sourcing offshore as U.S. producers of steel-containing products became less reliable and more expensive. Other customers refused to accept higher prices from their suppliers and forced them to absorb the higher steel costs, which put many in a precarious (or worse) financial condition. The impact on steel-consuming industries has been significant.”

But the remedy in the Section 201 case lasts from three to five years and in the Section 201 Steel case, President Bush lifted the restraints on Steel imports sooner because of the very damaging impact on downstream users.  Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders stay in place for five to thirty years.

The experience of downstream users in the Mechanical Tubing case reflects the experience of many downstream users in steel cases, such as the recent AD and CVD cases against Carbon Steel Wire Rod.  There are real costs that will be borne by US downstream companies and their employees because of this Mechanical Tubing trade case and any AD and CVD orders that are issued.  The Commission should have learned the same lesson from its AD order on Magnesium from China, which has been in place for more than ten years.  This AD Order protects a one company US industry in Utah, but it has led to the demise of the entire US Magnesium dye casting industry and the movement of many light weight auto parts companies to Canada.  But since downstream industries have no standing in an AD and CVD cases and there is no part of the injury provision to take this collateral damage into account, although downstream industries can testify at the ITC, in fact, they have no voice.

As Andrew Ball of voestalpine Rotec stated at the Preliminary Conference, ”I simply cannot ignore the reality that the automotive industry waits for no one and for nothing.”  With Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders staying in place for 5 to 30 years, if the Commission does not look at market realities, many, many US auto parts companies will close down and move to a third countries.  The real result of this Mechanical Tubing case brought by the Petitioners could well be to hollow out the US auto parts industry and lead to the destruction of the Petitioners’ US customers.

This is the real cost of the Trump trade war—thousands of jobs lost in downstream industries.

SECTION 232 INVESTIGATIONS  — STEEL AND ALUMINUM

In response to pressure from President Trump, Commerce Secretary Ross has self-initiated National Security cases under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, 19 U.S.C. 1862, against imports of steel and aluminum, which go directly into downstream US production.  The danger of these cases is that there is no check on Presidential power if the Commerce Department finds that steel or aluminum “is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security, the Secretary shall so advise the President”.  The Secretary shall also advise the President on potential remedies.

If the Secretary reports affirmatively, the President has 90 days to determine whether it concurs with the Secretary’s determination and “determine the nature and duration of the action that, in the judgment of the President, must be taken to adjust the imports of the article and its derivatives so that such imports will not threaten to impair the national security.”

Once the President makes his affirmative determination, he will report his decision to Congress.  According to the Statute, on Petroleum and Petroleum products, the Congress can disapprove the decision, but there is no reference to Steel or Aluminum so it is questionable whether Congress can overrule the President in these cases.   The statute also does not provide for any appeal to the Court of International Trade.  Commerce also is very protectionist and in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, the only check is the injury determination by the independent US International Trade Commission.  There is no such determination under Section 232.

Moreover, in these Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases, it is questionable how much weight Commerce will give to comments or testimony by downstream raw material users.  This is dangerous because tariffs on steel products may cause real harm to the downstream automobile industry, which is important for National Security too.

STEEL

On April 20, 2017, President Trump and the Commerce Department in the attached press announcement and fact sheet along with a Federal Register notice, Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Steel on U.S, Presidential Memorandum Prioritizes Commerce Steel Investigation, COMMERCE FED REG SECTION 232 NOTICE, announced the self-initiation of a Section 232 National Security case against imports of steel from every country.  See video of Trump signing the Executive Order with Secretary Ross and Steel Producers at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiVfNOl-_Ho.

Commerce held a hearing on May 24th in this case.  The video of the hearing can be found at https://www.commerce.gov/file/public-hearing-section-232-investigation-steel-imports-national-security.  Witnesses were given five minutes each to make their concerns known.  Written comments are due at the Commerce Department on May 31st.

At the hearing, Secretary Ross stated that a written report would go to the President by the end of June.

At the end of the hearing, several downstream users asked Commerce to exclude certain steel products from any remedy in the Section 232 case.  Counsel for the Steel Importers warned Commerce about retaliation against US exports of military products, including airplanes and agriculture products.

At the start of the hearing, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said something has to be done to help the Steel producers.  In the past Secretary Ross has stated that the Section 232 case is meant to fill the gaps created by the patchwork of antidumping and countervailing duties on foreign steel, which he said have provided only limited relief to the U.S. industry:

“It’s a fairly porous system and while it has accomplished some fair measure of reduction, it doesn’t solve the whole problem.  So we are groping here to see whether the facts warrant a more comprehensive solution that would deal with a very wide range of steel products and a very wide range of countries.”

At the Trump Press Conference, Ross stated:

I am proud to stand here today and say that, under your leadership, we are restoring the primacy of American national security, American workers, and American businesses.

For years, we have simply reacted to over 150 cases of improper imports of foreign steel into this country. With our investigation launched last night, the federal government will finally become proactive.

This investigation will help ensure steel import issues do not make us less safe in a world that is increasingly fraught with geopolitical tensions.

The sheer volume of steel trade cases makes it clear that global steel overcapacity has an impact on our economy, but for the first time we will examine its impact on our national security.

We will conduct this investigation thoroughly and expeditiously so that we can fully enforce our trade laws and defend this country against those who would do us harm.

I look forward to the completion of this investigation so that I can report not just the findings, but also any concrete solutions that we may deem appropriate.

Under section 232 the Commerce Department will determine whether steel imports “threaten to impair” national security.  Commerce must issue its findings to the White House within 270 days, along with recommendations on what steps to take.

But Ross said that the investigation may move along a quicker track, citing the abundance of steel data the U.S. already has on hand from its past investigations as well as a memorandum from President Donald Trump that calls for the agency to expedite the process.  In fact, at the hearing, Secretary Ross stated that a report to the President will be issued by the end of June.

Once Commerce’s review is completed, the president has 90 days to decide whether to accept or reject its recommendations. The statute gives the administration wide latitude to act, including raising tariffs

Secretary Ross further stated in the past:

“We will conduct this investigation thoroughly and expeditiously so that, if necessary, we can take actions to defend American national security, workers, and businesses against foreign threats.  This investigation will help determine whether steel import issues are making us less safe in a world that is increasingly fraught with geopolitical tensions.”

While the use of Section 232 is rare, the actual deployment of tariffs under the 1962 law is even rarer. Commerce last conducted a Section 232 probe of iron and steel in 2001, but ultimately decided that the goods posed no national security threat, and no further action was taken.

The last time an administration forged ahead with import relief under the law was 1975, when President Gerald Ford hiked license fees and other charges on shipments of imported petroleum during the throes of the mid-70s oil crisis. President Richard Nixon also used Section 232 to impose an across-the-board 10 percent surcharge program in 1971.

But with the new protectionist outlook of the Trump Administration, the huge steel overcapacity in China, and the fact that there are no checks under section 232, this action could definitely result in tariffs, quotas and other trade remedies.

ALUMINUM

On April 27, 2017, President Trump and the US Commerce Department self-initiated a Section 232 National Security case against imports of aluminum from all countries.  Attached are documents related to the Case, ALUMINUM FED REG PUBAluminum Presidential Memo Summary.  The hearing will be June 22, 2017 at the Commerce Department.  The Presidential Memorandum issued on April 27th provides:

This Presidential Memorandum (PM) directs the Secretary of Commerce to investigate, in accordance with the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the effects on national security of aluminum imports.

During this investigation, the Secretary will consider the following:

The domestic production of aluminum needed for projected national defense requirements.

The capacity of domestic industries to meet such requirements.

The existing and anticipated availabilities of the human resources, products, raw materials, and other supplies and services essential to the national defense.

Recognize the close relation of the Nation’s economic welfare to our national security, and consider the effect of foreign competition in the aluminum industry on the economic welfare of domestic industries.

Consider any substantial unemployment, decrease in government revenues, loss of skills or investment, or other serious effects resulting from the displacement of any domestic products by excessive aluminum imports.

The Secretary shall conduct this investigation with speed and efficiency in order to find if aluminum is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security.

If the above is deemed true, the Secretary shall recommend actions and steps that should be taken to adjust aluminum imports so that they will not threaten to impair the national security.

Although Secretary Ross wants to expedite the case, there are rumors that many investigators and other staff in Import Administration have now been moved to work on the Section 232 cases.  With an enormous number of antidumping and countervailing duty cases along with two large Section 232 cases, Commerce staff will be stretched very thin.

SOLAR AD AND CVD CASES DID NOT WORK SO LET’S TRY A SECTION 201 ESCAPE CLAUSE CASE

Just recently, Solar World, the company that brought the Solar Cells and Solar Products antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China, announced that it was going into insolvency.  The bottom line is that the antidumping and countervailing duty orders against solar cells and solar products from China did not save Solar World, but they did result in substantial damage to the upstream US Polysilicon industry.  Because of the US action, China brought its own antidumping and countervailing duty case against $2 billion in US Polysilicon exported to China.  REC Silicon in Moses Lake, Washington got hit with a 57% antidumping duty, deferred a $1 billion investment into Moses Lake, and in November 2016 laid off 70 workers in Moses Lake and cut their capacity in half.

On May 17, 2017, Suniva filed a Section 201 Escape Clause against all Solar Cell imports from all countries at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  On May 23, 2017, in the attached Federal Register notice, ITC iNITIATION NOTICE SOLAR CELLS, the ITC decided to go ahead and institute the case.  If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, within 60 days the President must decide whether or not to impose import relief, which can be in the form of increased tariffs, quotas or an orderly marketing agreements.

By the way, in its determination to the President the ITC is to report any assistance given companies under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program, the only government program that truly saves US companies.  President Trump, however, in his recent budget proposal completely zeroed out the TAA for Companies program.  More about this below.  Directly contrary to President Reagan, President Trump does not want to make US companies more competitive so that they can compete; he wants to put up protectionist walls.

The main targets of the Petition are not imports from China, but imports from third countries.  In response to the antidumping and countervailing duty orders, many Chinese companies moved to third countries and set up production there.

SCOPE OF THE 201 INVESTIGATION

The articles covered by this investigation are CSPV cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including, but not limited to, modules, laminates, panels, and building-integrated materials.

The investigation covers crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells of a thickness equal to or greater than 20 micrometers, having a p/n junction (or variant thereof) formed by any means, whether or not the cell has undergone other processing, including, but not limited to cleaning, etching, coating, and/or addition of materials (including, but not limited to, metallization and conductor patterns) to collect and forward the electricity that is generated by the cell.

Included in the scope of the investigation are photovoltaic cells that contain crystalline silicon in addition to other photovoltaic materials. This includes, but is not limited to, passivated emitter rear contact (“PERC”) cells, heterojunction with intrinsic thin-layer (“HIIT”) cells, and other so-called “hybrid” cells.

Excluded from the investigation are CSPV cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, if the CSPV cells were manufactured in the United States.

Also excluded from the scope of the investigation are crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, not exceeding 10,000mm in surface area, that are permanently integrated into a consumer good whose function is other than power generation and that consumes the electricity generated by the integrated crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell. Where more than one cell is permanently integrated into a consumer good, the surface area for purposes of this exclusion shall be the total combined surface area of all cells that are integrated into the consumer good.

SECTION 201 PROCEDURES IN SOLAR CELL CASE

At the ITC, Section 201 cases are a two stage process.  The ITC must first determine whether “crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) cells (whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products) are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or the threat thereof, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported articles.”  The ITC has determined that the investigation is “extraordinarily complicated” and will make its injury determination within 128 days after the petition was filed, or by September 22, 2017. The Commission will submit to the President the report required under section 202(f) of the Act (19 U.S.C. § 2252(f)(1)) within 180 days after the date on which the petition was filed, or by November 13, 2017.

Notices of appearance at the ITC are due in about three weeks from now or 21 days after publication of the notice in the Federal Register.  During the injury phase of the investigation, the ITC will hold an injury hearing on August 15, 2017.  Prehearing briefs are due at the ITC on August 8, 2017.  Posthearing briefs will be due at the ITC on August 22nd.

If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, it will go into a remedy phase and the hearing in that phase will be on October 3, 2017.

REASONS FOR SECTION 201 PETITION

According to Suniva in its petition, the problem is not China.  Suniva argues that the antidumping and countervailing duty orders in the Solar Cells and Solar Products case were simply evaded:

“as the impacted producers have simply opened significant capacity in third countries not subject to those AD/CVD orders. One of the underlying principles of those prior Title VII cases was that implementing duties against the subject goods originating from the offending countries would­ create a cost basis that generates greater domestic price equity. Unfortunately, that outcome has not occurred. Rather than invest in U.S. manufacturing or charge fair market prices, Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers, either directly through the establishment of their own facilities, or indirectly through the support of contract manufacturing operations in Southeast Asia, India, and Eastern Europe, created alternative capacity that was not subject to U.S. tariffs.  In fact, the data in this petition shows a direct correlation between:

  • The institution of tariffs against subject goods made in China or Taiwan;
  • The reduction of imports into the United States from those countries; and

The increase in imports from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and other third countries.”

The Petition also states:

“What is striking is that even with these relatively high duties against two of the world’ s largest CSPV cell and module countries, imports continue to flood into the United States. Also striking is the quantity of Chinese and Taiwanese product that continues to enter the United States -, despite these dumping and subsidy duties. What these AD/CVD cases have also done is push production into new countries – meaning that they have led to increased global production and capacity. Consider:

  • In a March 21, 2017, article in the Financial Post, it was reported about Canadian Solar that :”The company said it has also increased production from its manufacturing facilities in Southeast Asia and Taiwan to serve the U.S. market and avoid import “
  • In a January 10, 2017, article in Taiyang News, the following is stated about Chinese producer Solar Trina: “Trina Solar has begun production of solar panels at its newly opened Vietnam factory. The facility with capacity of 800 MW annually is located in Quang Chau Industrial Park in Viet Yen district, northern Ban Giang province, reported The Voice of Vietnam.” The article continues: “After Malaysia, Vietnam is now coming up as one of the most sought after locations for Chinese solar power companies to set up their manufacturing units. Some of the biggest names, including Trina Solar, Jinko Solar and the like have voluntarily withdrawn from the European Commission’s minimum import price (MIP) undertaking which slaps anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties ori solar panels produced in China. Most of them are keen to operate from locations beyond China to be able to circumvent these duties and even more the customs in the much larger US solar market.”
  • In a March 29, 2016, article in PY Magazine, it is reported that “Trina Solar reports that it has begun production at its PY cell and module factory in Rayong Thailand, which has the capacity to produce 700 MW of cells and 500 MW of PY modules annually.” It continues “Southeast Asia has become a major destination for Chinese and Taiwanese PY cell and module makers seeking to avoid U.S. and EU import duties on their “
  • In an October 26, 2015, press release, it is announced that Chinese producer JA Solar Holdings, , Ltd. opened a 400MW cell manufacturing facility in Penang, Malaysia. As stated in the release: “These cells will primarily be used to manufacture JS Solar Modules outside of China to provide competitive product solutions to certain overseas markets.”
  • In an October 6, 2016, PV Magazine article, it was noted that JA Solar further expanded its Malaysian operations. The article further notes: “The expansion comes in the face of falling module prices around the world, as an oversupply seems to be taking hold of the “
  • In a July 24, 2016, CLEANTECHIES article, it is reported that JA Solar is planning a $1 billion dollar module factory in Vietnam. As noted in the article: “The company already operates 8 factories across the {sic} Europe, the US and Japan. JA Solar, like several other·module manufacturers, facing import restrictions and duties in developed markets like the US and Chinese {sic}. Several Chinese and Taiwanese companies have opened factories in overseas locations-to bypass these restrictions.”
  • A January 25, 2016, China Daily article discusses Chinese panel producers moving operations to Thailand because “solar panels made in the kingdom do not invite heavy duties in the US and Europe.”.

In short, an unforeseen development of the antidumping and countervailing duty cases . . . has been the proliferation of CSPV cell and module manufacturing across the globe. This further supports the use of this global safeguard action. Without global relief, the domestic industry will be playing “whack-a-mole” against CSPV cells and modules from particular countries.

In short, imports have clearly “increased” within the meaning of the statute. Indeed, the increase has been massive; and the recent surge has been highly debilitating to the market structure. The way that the world’s largest producers have reacted to antidumping and countervailing duty claims demonstrates that global relief is required.”

The petition also shows enormous increases of solar cells from Mexico and Canada and with regards to Canada states as follows:

“Transshipment of Chinese-origin CSPV cells through Canada would explain the rapid growth in imports of CSPV cells and modules from Canada in recent years.”

The Petition also states:

“Further, the U.S. industry could not have foreseen that foreign producers, in response to [the antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China would move so rapidly and drastically to open new production facilities in third-countries resulting in no relief for the U.S. industry from the application of the orders in the antidumping and countervailing duty cases. As shown by the import data presented in Exhibit 7, the surge in imports from third-countries after the imposition of the AD and CVD orders is completely unprecedented and unforeseeable.  For example, between 2014 and 2016, imports from Malaysia surged 67 percent/while overtaking China as the largest source of imports. In addition, imports from Korea surged by 827 percent while increasing to become the third largest source of imports.  Imports from Mexico, now the fourth largest source of imports, surged 77 percent. Imports from Thailand, now the fifth largest source of imports, surged over 76,000 percent. Such a rapid and significant increase in imports from third-countries is an unprecedented and completely unforeseen development.”

Between the time the Petition was filed and the ITC institution of the case, Wuxi Suntech announced it opposition to the petition because the law firm that had represented Wuxi Suntech in the antidumping and countervailing duty case against China brought the Section 201 case on behalf of Suniva.  In addition, Sunrun, an importer and user of solar cells, entered a notice of appearance to point out that Solarworld does not support the petition and that Suniva represents less than 20% of US production, but the ITC went forward anyways.  Just today, however, Solar World announced that it is supporting Suniva’s Section 201 Petition.

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

TOOL CHESTS FROM CHINA AND VIETNAM

On April 11, 2017, Waterloo Industries Inc. filed major Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases against hundreds of millions of dollars of imports of certain tool chests and cabinets from China and Vietnam.

US importers’ liability for countervailing duties on imports from China will start on September 8, 2017, 150 days after the petition was filed, and for Antidumping Duties from China and Vietnam will start on November 7, 2017, 210 days after the petition was filed.

The entire investigation will take one year and antidumping and countervailing duty orders can last for 5 to 30 years.

If anyone wants a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese exporters/producers and US importers, please feel free to contact me.

COLD-DRAWN MECHANICAL TUBING FROM CHINA, GERMANY, INDIA, ITALY, KOREA AND SWITZERLAND

On April 19, 2017, ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, PTC Alliance Corp., Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc. filed major Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases against hundreds of millions of dollars of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from the six countries in 2016.  The petition alleges antidumping duties ranging as follows:

China: 88.2% – 188.88%

India: 25.48%

Italy: 37.23% – 69.13%

Germany: 70.53% – 148.32%

Republic of Korea: 12.14% – 48.61%

Switzerland: 40.53% – 115.21%

The cold-drawn mechanical tubing covered by the complaint is used to produce numerous different products in the United States, including auto parts and machinery.

As stated above, these trade cases move very quickly and many importers are blindsided because of the speed of the investigations.  In the Mechanical Tubing case, the ITC conducted its preliminary injury hearing on May 10, 2017 and briefs were filed soon after.  US importers’ liability for countervailing duties on imports from China and India will start on September 16, 2017, 150 days after the petition was filed, and for Antidumping Duties will start on November 15, 2017, 210 days after the petition was filed.

Commerce has already issued quantity and value questionnaires to the Chinese producers in the AD and CVD cases with responses for both cases due June 5th.

The entire investigation will take one year and antidumping and countervailing duty orders can last for 5 to 30 years.

If anyone wants a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese exporters/producers and US importers, please feel free to contact me.  Atttached are the relevant parts of the petition, INJURY EXCERPT SCOPE IMPORTERS EXERPT MECHANICAL TUBING FOREIGN PRODUCERS EXCERPT MECHANICAL TUBING.

100 TO 150 SEAT CIVIL AIRCRAFT

On April 27, 2017, in the attached notice, AIRCRAFT, the Boeing Company filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case against 100 to 150 Seat Civil Aircraft from Canada.  The Canadian respondent company is Bombardier.  With all extensions, the Commerce Department’s Preliminary determination in the CVD case, which is when liability begins, is due September 24, 2017 and the Commerce Department’s preliminary AD determination, when liability begins, is due November 23, 2017.

With a sympathetic Trump Administration in power, there will be a sharp rise in AD and CVD cases against China and other countries.

LIGHTHIZER CONFIRMED—NAFTA FIGHT

On May 11, 2017, Robert Lighthizer was confirmed by the Senate as the next USTR.  On May 15th he was sworn into office by Vice President Pence.

With Senators and Congressmen, especially from agricultural states, calling for new trade agreements, USTR will have a lot of work to do.

NAFTA FIGHT

On May 18, 2017, in the attached letter, nafta NOTIFICATION, USTR Lighthizer informed Congress of the President’s intention to renegotiate NAFTA.  In the letter, Lighthizer specifically stated:

In particular, we note that NAFTA was negotiated 25 years ago, and while our economy and businesses have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not.  Many chapters are outdated and do not reflect modern standards. For example, digital trade was in its infancy when NAFTA was enacted. In addition, and consistent with the negotiating objectives in the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, our aim is that NAFTA be modernized to include new provisions to address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium enterprises. Moreover, establishing effective implementation and aggressive enforcement of the commitments made by our trading partners under our trade agreements is vital to the success of those agreements and should be improved in the context of NAFTA. . . .

We are committed to concluding these negotiations with timely and substantive results for U.S. consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers, and workers, consistent with U.S. priorities and the negotiating objectives established by the Congress in statute. We look forward to continuing to work with the Congress as negotiations with the NAFTA countries begin, and we commit to working with you closely and transparently throughout the process.

On May 18, 2017, John Brinkley published an article in response to the Lighthizer letter:

White House’s NAFTA Renegotiation Letter To Congress Is Surprisingly Rational

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer seems to be trying to inject some rationality into President Trump’s trade policies. With the White House in turmoil over the Russia investigation and FBI Director James Comey’s firing, he might just get by with it.

Lighthizer on Thursday formally notified Congress of the administration’s intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. The notification started the clock ticking on the 90-day period that has to elapse before the renegotiations can start.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Lighthizer made some surprisingly sensible remarks about what needed to be done – surprising because it included none of the bluster and hostility that President Trump has directed at America’s NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico.

The letter said NAFTA needed to be improved in the areas of intellectual property rights, digital trade, state-owned enterprises, customs procedures, food safety, workers’ rights and environmental protection.

All that is true. NAFTA doesn’t address digital trade, because it didn’t exist in 1993 when the deal was signed, but it now dominates every aspect of international commerce in goods and services.

Workers’ rights and environmental protection are addressed in side agreements that aren’t enforceable. Making those standards tougher fully enforceable would lessen the incentive for US companies to move to Mexico.

The letter also said trade rule enforcement “should be improved in the context of NAFTA.” It’s hard to imagine how that might happen.  NAFTA allows a private company from one of the three countries that has operations in one of the others to file a complaint with the NAFTA secretariat against the host country if the company believes its rights have been violated. This Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) chapter allows for a hearing before a three-judge arbitration panel. Since 1994, the United States has prevailed in every NAFTA ISDS complaint that it has filed or has been filed against it and that has proceeded to a final ruling. It’s going to be hard to improve on that.

When two governments go head-to-head in a trade dispute, they usually take it to the World Trade Organization. The trend there is that the complaining government almost always wins.  The U.S. has won 91% of the cases it has filed in the WTO and lost 84% of those filed against it. Its overall batting average is just over .500. There is nothing that can be done in NAFTA to affect that.

Maybe the best thing the administration could do for American businesses when it convenes the renegotiation with Mexico and Canada is to focus on ways to make it easier for small companies to qualify for duty-free treatment under NAFTA. Lighthizer’s letter seemed to suggest the administration was interested in doing that. It’s easy for big corporations to comply with the myriad rules and regulations that cover imports, exports and free trade agreements; they can hire armies of lawyers and trade specialists to manage compliance with them. Most small firms can’t do that and many find that compliance isn’t worth the time and money. So, they don’t export. Or they export without applying for duty-free treatment under NAFTA. They just pay the tariff. A 2015 Thomson Reuters Global Trade Management survey of small business owners found that complying with rules of origin and other regulations was the principal difficulty that they faced in exporting their products.

To qualify for duty-free treatment under NAFTA, an exporter most certify that a certain percentage of a product’s value originated in the U.S., Mexico or Canada. There are two problems with this. One is that small manufacturers don’t always know where all their parts and components came from and it can be difficult to track them all down. They have to call their suppliers, who may have to call another supplier. The other problem is that the U.S. government allows exporters to use one of two processes for determining regional content and, for most people, neither of them is easy to navigate. . . .

Making this process easier would increase imports and reduce the trade deficit, although not by  much.

If the U.S. negotiators can focus their efforts on these constructive and necessary improvements to NAFTA, rather than on the threats and ultimatums that Trump and his nationalist faction in the White House have made, they might end up with an agreement that all three countries will be happy to sign.

On May 25th, the US Pork Producers issued the attached white paper, NAFTAReport05-24-17, arguing that if NAFTA negotiations lead to the disruption of agricultural exports generally – and pork exports specifically – to Canada and Mexico, that would “have devastating consequences for our farmers and the many American processing and transportation industries and workers supported by these exports.”

The White paper cites an Iowa State economist who states that if Mexico were to respond to a US withdrawal from NAFTA with a 20% duty on pork, the US port industry would lose the entire Mexican market.

Nick Giordano for the National Pork producers went on to state:

“A loss in exports to Mexico of that magnitude would be cataclysmic for the U.S. pork industry. Pork producers will support updating and improving NAFTA but only if duties on U.S. pork remain at zero and pork exports are not disrupted.”

On May 24th, USTR Lighthizer pledged that boosting agricultural exports remains a top priority for the Trump administration. He added that he and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are under specific marching orders to protect current market access for U.S. farm products in the revised NAFTA.  Lighthizer specifically stated:

“The president has specifically told each of us that this is a very, very top priority.  One, not to do any damage and two, to add to the bottom line. So we expect to do that.”

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES

The only good news about Border Adjustment taxes is the President Trump did not include Border Adjustment Taxes in his tax proposal to Congress.  Despite the decision not to put border adjustment taxes (“BAT”) in the Administration’s tax proposal, the House Republicans and Ways and Means Committee continue to push it.  See May 23rd Ways and Means hearing on Border Adjustment Taxes, at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/live/.

Archer Daniel Midland argued for the BAT, citing problems with Agriculture exports, but the retailers, including Target and WalMart, came out strongly against it.  One witness stated that US products are taxed twice, but imports are only taxed once and get a rebate when the product is exported to the US.

But it was also clear from the hearing that Congressmen are split on the Border Adjustment tax.

On May 23, 2017 Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, however, in a closed-door meeting with Democrats on the Ways and Means stated that both he and President Trump are opposed to the Border Adjustment Tax.   One California Democrat, Judy Chu, on the Ways and Means Committee, directly asked Mnuchin if he supported  the  BAT.  As she stated Mnuchin’s concern was the impact on consumers:

“He actually said straight out that he doesn’t support it and the president doesn’t support it.  Unless he was lying to us yesterday, I really felt it was dead on arrival.”

On May 24th, Paul Ryan stated that the BAT needs to be changed and immediately imposing it in its full form would be “too disruptive”.

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES – A BETTER ALTERNATIVE TRADE REMEDY WHICH ACTUALLY WORKS

As indicated in previous blog posts, I feel very strongly about the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program because with very low funding it has a true track record of saving US companies.  In fact, in the ongoing Section 201 case on Solar Cells, the statute requires the industry seeking protection to provide a trade adjustment plan to the Commission to explain how the industry intends to adjust if trade relief is provided.  The problem is that the Commission is not the entity with experience on determining whether the Trade Adjustment plans are viable.  The entities with that experience in trade adjustment plans are the various trade adjustment centers throughout the US.

Donald Trump’s proposed budget, however, would 0/zero out the trade adjustment assistance for companies program.  Although Secretary Wilbur Ross has made it very clear he wants to increase exports to reach the 3% plus growth rate, putting protectionist walls up to limit imports of steel, aluminum and many other products invites retaliation.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program does not put up barriers to imports.  Instead the TAA for Companies program works with US companies injured by imports to make them more competitive.  The objective of TAA for Companies is to save the company and by saving the company it saves the jobs that go with that company.

In contrast to TAA for workers, TAAF or TAA for Companies is provided by the Economic Development Administration at 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.

Right now the total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $12.5 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.  In his budget, Trump increases TAA for Workers, but kills TAA for Companies.  Yet to retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job in TAA for workers is $5,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

Moreover, TAA for Firms/Companies works.  In the Northwest, where I am located, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, http://www.nwtaac.org/, has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program since 1984. The Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, http://www.mataac.org, uses a video, http://mataac.org/howitworks/, to show in detail how the program resulted in significant turnarounds for four companies. The reason the TAA for Firms/Companies is so successful—Its flexibility in working with companies on an individual basis to come up with a specific adjustment plan to make them competitive once again in the US market as it exists today.  For a sample recovery plan, see http://mataac.org/documents/2014/06/sample-adjustment-plan.pdf, which has been developed specific to the strengths, weaknesses and threats each company faces.

But as also stated in my last blog post, in this environment with so many injured companies, funding for TAA for Firms/Companies has to be increased so it can do its job.   Moreover, with the threats of a massive trade war in the air, which will injure all US companies and destroy US jobs, the US government needs to look at an alternative—TAA for Firms/Companies is that alternative.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about developments in Chinese trade law.  Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.16 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.17 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.18 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.19 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.20

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW SECTION 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

COLLAPSIBLE SOCKETS FROM MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES

On April 10, 2017, in the attached ITC notice, SOCKETS MARINE ,PopSockets LLC filed a section 337 patent case against imports of Collapsible Sockets for Mobile Electronic Devices from the following Chinese companies:

Agomax Group Ltd., Hong Kong; Guangzhou Xi Xun Electronics Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Chuanghui Industry Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen VVI Electronic Limited, China; Shenzhen Yright Technology Co., Ltd., China; Hangzhou Hangkai Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Kinsen Technology Co., Limited, China; Shenzhen Enruize Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Showerstar Industrial Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Lamye Technology Co., Ltd., China; Jiangmen Besnovo Electronics Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Belking Electronic Co., Ltd., China; Yiwu Wentou Import & Export Co., Ltd., China; and Shenzhen CEX Electronic Co., Limited, China.

ROBOTIC VACUUM CLEANING DEVICES

On April 18, 2017, in the attached ITC notice, ROBOTIC VACUM CLEANERS, iRobot Corporation filed a section 337 patent case against imports of Robotic Vacuum Cleaning Devices from the following US and Chinese companies:

Bissell Homecare, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan; Hoover Inc., Glenwillow, Ohio; Royal Appliance Manufacturing Co., Inc. d/b/a TTI Floor Care North America, Inc., Glenwillow, Ohio; Bobsweep, Inc., Canada; Bobsweep USA, Henderson, Nevada; The Black & Decker Corporation, Towson, Maryland; Black & Decker (U.S) Inc., Towson, Maryland; Shenzhen ZhiYi Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a iLife, China; Matsutek Enterprises Co., Ltd., Taiwan; Suzhou Real Power Electric Appliance Co., Ltd., China; and Shenzhen Silver Star Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd., China.If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, border adjustment taxes, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump’s Trade War on downstream industries, the Mechanical Tubing case, the Section 232 cases, the 201 case against Solar Cells, border adjustment taxes, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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–DAMAGE CAUSED BY AD ORDERS, TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF TAAF, TPP DEVELOPMENTS, NEW TRADE/CUSTOMS LAW

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC ReflectioTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR DECEMBER 10, 2015

Dear Friends,

Attached is the first half of the December blog post, which covers the collateral damage caused by US Antidumping Orders on downstream US production by the numerous antidumping orders against raw material inputs from China, which directly damage and in some cases destroy downstream US production.  The Article describes why the Import Alliance is so important to counter this trend.

The second article is on the Triumph and Tragedy of Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, the only truly successful trade remedy the US government has in its arsenal to help US companies injured by imports.

This update goes into detail on the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and when it might come up for a vote in Congress, the impact of Presidential politics, especially against Donald Trump, on the TPP, the ITC TPP investigation and the appointment of Congressman Dave Reichert of Washington State as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means Committee.

Finally, on December 9th, Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means announced Agreement on the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.  Copies of the Bipartisan bill and Conference Report are attached below.

If anyone has any questions or wants additional information, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR US MANUFACTURING AND PRODUCTION—THE DAMAGE ANTIDUMPING CASES CAUSE TO DOWNSTREAM AND UPSTREAM PRODUCERS

US Law firms representing domestic producers in antidumping (“AD”) cases like to grab the mantle of helping US producers stay in business and saving US jobs.  They do not want Congress or the general public to look at the collateral damage created by US AD orders against China on downstream US production.  In truth, US AD cases against China have destroyed more jobs than they have saved.

All AD orders can do is delay the decline of the US industry, they cannot save the companies.  But in delaying the decline, these same AD orders destroy downstream value added production, where the US is often among the most efficient producers in the World.

These points were made by importers in the Import Alliance at meetings with Congressional Trade Staff and a Congressman on Capitol Hill on November 18th in Washington DC.  The Import Alliance has four objectives.  The first two objectives are:

(1)       Eliminate retroactive liability for US importers and join the rest of the World in making antidumping and countervailing duty orders prospective.

(2)      Work for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement for the benefit of US importers and downstream companies.

As of November 17, 2015, as the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) states in the attached list, NOVEMBER 172015 AD CVD ORDERS, there are 128 outstanding antidumping and countervailing duty orders against China.  More than 70 of those Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders are against raw material inputs, chemicals, metals and steel, that go into downstream US production.

The outstanding chemical AD and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders against China cover imported products such as polyvinyl alcohol used to produce adhesives and polyvinyl buturyl for auto safety glass.  Another product is sulfanilic acid used to provide Optical Brighteners in the US Dye Industry, which, in turn, resulted in the antidumping order against Stilbenic optical brightening agents.  Other chemicals covered by AD and CVD orders are potassium permanganate in place since 1984 used to purify water, potassium permanganate salts, chloropicrin, barium chloride, glycine used to produce the cooling effect in candies, furfural alcohol, persulfates, barium carbonate, Tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol, Carbazole violet pigment 23, chlorinated isocyanurates used in swimming pool chemicals, certain activated carbon used to purify various chemicals and to produce products used in nuclear plants, certain polyester staple fiber, sodium hexametaphosphate, sodium nitrite, citric acid, xanthan gum, monosodium glutamate, calcium hypochlorite and melamine.

Often these AD and CVD orders cover products that are not even produced in the United States.  Because of this situation, many US producers dependent on the raw materials simply close US production and move overseas.

The following Chinese metal products are covered by AD and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders: magnesium ingots, magnesium, and pure magnesium, magnesium carbon bricks used in downstream magnesium dye casting industry and to produce light weight auto parts.  All light weight auto part production has moved to Canada and Mexico because of the antidumping orders on Chinese magnesium.  Other Chinese metal products covered by antidumping and countervailing duty orders are silicon metal critical for use in US foundries, silicomanganese, foundry coke, ferrovanadium, and  graphite electrodes used in the steel industry and downstream metal production, aluminum extrusions, the order has been expanded to cover many downstream products produced from aluminum extrusions, including curtain walls/sides of buildings, lighting equipment, geodesic domes, refrigerator handles, and subcomponent auto parts, electrolytic magnesium dioxide used to produce batteries, which, in part, led to the closure of Panasonic’s battery plant in the US, and refined brown aluminum oxide.

The Magnesium antidumping order, in particular, has led to enormous job loss in the downstream industries.  The Magnesium AD order protects one company in Utah and between 200 to 400 jobs by wiping out thousands, if not tens of thousands of jobs in the downstream industries.

In 2004-2005 43 US companies sold magnesium die castings in the US market.   As of two to three years ago, according to National Association of Dye Casters (“NADCA”), less than 12 US companies now produce magnesium die castings in the United States.  NADCA estimates that 31 US companies have ceased pouring magnesium in the United States because of the antidumping order against magnesium from China.  US companies, such as Lunt in Illinois, simply went out of business because of the Magnesium from China Antidumping order.  In 2010, when NADCA did the survey, it estimated a job loss of 1,675 direct jobs.  Now the jobs loss has swelled to over 2,000 and closer to 10,000 supporting jobs.

Where did the magnesium jobs and companies go?  Many companies and projects simply moved to Mexico or Canada.  Magnesium is used to produce light weight auto parts.  Many OEM magnesium parts manufacturers moved all their production to Mexico. Five Tier 1 steering wheel manufacturers, for example, have magnesium die casting and wheel assembly plants in Mexico, including TRW, AutoLiv, Takata, Key Safety Systems and Neaton.  GM intends to import Buick cars from China into the US.  Could the Magnesium AD order be one of the reasons?

After Chinese chemical and metal products, almost every steel product from China is covered by an AD order and often also a CVD order, including carbon steel plate, hot rolled carbon steel flat products, circular welded carbon quality steel pipe, light walled rectangular pipe and tube, circular welded carbon quality steel line pipe, circular welded austenitic stainless pressure pipe, steel threaded rod, oil country tubular goods, prestressed concrete steel wire strand, seamless carbon and alloy steel standard line and pressure pipe, high pressure steel cylinders, prestreessed concrete steel rail tire wire, non-oriented electrical steel, and carbon and certain alloy steel wire.  Almost every steel product from China is covered by an AD and CVD orders, except for galvanized steel products and cold rolled steel, which are presently the subject of ongoing AD and CVD investigations.

As one person working in the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program remarked to me, the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders against Steel explain why so many companies in the TAA program use steel as an input.

If these Chinese products were truly dumped, then AD orders should be issued.  Since Commerce considers China a nonmarket economy country (“NME”) and refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping, however, it does not know whether the products are dumped.  For more discussion of the 2016 China NME problem, see my last blog post and the dumping canard argument and many other prior posts and my next newsletter.

Congressmen may not care that retail products go up several dollars because of AD orders, but what happens when the AD orders in place injure downstream US producers, sometimes literally closing the companies down and destroying downstream jobs.  Does that make a difference to Congress?

Also the AD and CVD orders on Solar Cells and Solar Products has led to problems for REC Silicon in Moses Lake, Washington, which produces the upstream product, polysilicon, used to produce solar cells.  China has retaliated against the United States producers by bringing its own AD and CVD cases against the United States for US exports of polysilicon, wiping out the US polysilicon from the China market.  As stated in the last blog post, REC Silicon has deferred a $1 billion investment and possibly could close its plant in Moses Lake.

Because of the impact of AD and CVD orders on downstream US production, the Import Alliance has two other objectives:

(3)       End user production companies should have standing in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

(4)       The United States should join the rest of the World in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, including Canada, the EC and yes China, and have a public interest test.

This is also why the Import Alliance for America is so important for US importers and US end user 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 or use raw materials in downstream production process.

As mentioned in prior blog posts, 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 AD and CVD laws against China for the benefit of US companies.

Ten US Importers have agreed to form the Import Alliance for America.   On November 18th, Importers in the Alliance met with a Congressman and Congressional Trade Staff in Washington DC in the first of several meetings to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US AD and CVD laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.  For more information, see the Import Alliance website at http://www.importallianceforamerica.com.

THE TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES

But what is the answer to this import problem?  What is the answer for US companies caught in the cross hairs of import competition from China and many other countries and facing potential bankruptcy?

Not more protection. Antidumping and countervailing duty cases cannot be brought against the World.  As stated in many past blog posts, all antidumping and countervailing duty cases do is slow the decline in the US industry, not cure the disease.  A great example of this is the US Steel Industry and the demise of such well-known steel companies as Bethlehem Steel, Lone Star Steel and Jones and Laughlin.  Many of these companies have simply ceased to exist despite 40 years of protection from steel imports under the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws.

Instead, I firmly believe the answer lies in the small program—the TAA for Companies (also called TAA for Firms) (“TAAF”). The Triumph of TAAF is that it has been reauthorized for 5 years.  The tragedy is that its budget has again been cut to $12.5 million nation-wide.

TAA for Companies (TAAF) is probably the most effective trade remedy the United States has in its arsenal, but it is not given the resources it needs to do the job.   I believe in this program and sit on the board of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, the regional office in the Northwest that administers the program.  Since 1984, NWTAAC has been able to save 80% of the injured companies that got into the program.  For more information see www.nwtaac.org.  The big news is that TAAF nationwide recently had a great validation and, at the same time, a bewildering set back.

In case you don’t know about TAAF, this is a program that offers a one-time, highly targeted benefit to domestic companies hurt by trade.  The benefit is not paid to the companies, but to consultants, who help the company adjust to import competition.   The program is amazingly effective.   Between 2010 and 2014, 896 companies with more than 90,000 employees were certified as trade impacted by TAAF after experiencing a 16% drop in sales and 17% drop in jobs.   During this 5 year period, participating companies in TAAF increased average sales by 40% and employment by 20%, achieving impressive double-digit productivity gains.   Essentially, all of the 15,090 jobs lost to imports before company participation in the TAAF program were regained by creating more than 15,140 new jobs by the end of the five year period, and 75,000 jobs were retained by helping these companies stay in business.   These impressive results occurred with TAAF program annual costs of approximately $15.3 million per year.

To put that in context, the very much larger TAA for Worker Program’s appropriation for FY 2015 was $711 million.  The TAA for Worker (TAAW) Program spends roughly $53,000 per year to retrain a single employee AFTER a job has been lost due to trade.   The mission for each program is very different – TAAF’s primary mission is to save the company AND the jobs, while TAAW’s mission is to retrain workers after the jobs have already been lost.   Now you should ask which is the smarter investment?

Arguments are made that TAAF costs the US government money.   When a company adjusts to trade and survives or even prospers, that company and all of its workers pay taxes.  The taxes on average wages for about 8,300 jobs would pay for this whole program. Companies in the TAAF program, however, regained 15,000 jobs and retained 75,000 jobs.  The real costs to government, however, are when companies don’t survive and good jobs are lost.

In fact, the TAAF program actually saves the US government millions of dollars each year by helping companies stay in business while saving their higher paying manufacturing jobs.  For every job saved, resources aren’t wasted on expensive training and other costly benefits, but can instead be used more productively to help trade impacted firms adapt to changes in the global economy as large FTA’s like the upcoming TPP are implemented.

An example using the TAAF program statistics from above describes what happens when TAAF program resources are cut.   If workers applied for benefits through the TAA for Workers (TAAW) Program for the 15,000 jobs lost due to imports, it would cost more than $795 million to retrain them using the $53,000 average cost figure.   The TAAF program not only saves the company but saves the high paying jobs that go with that company, and keeps tax revenues rolling in to contribute to local and national tax bases rather than acting as a cost burden.

The more stunning fact – if the TAAF program saves just 300 jobs per year on a national basis for which TAA for Worker resources of $53,000 aren’t required for retraining efforts, the program easily pays for itself up to its $16 million authorization level.  That is an extremely low bar to set considering that TAAF retained more than 75,000 jobs and created an additional 15,140 jobs during the last five year period.  This shows the short sightedness in cutting the program.

For more information, see the TAA video from Mid-Atlantic TAAC at http://mataac.org/howitworks/ , which describes in detail how four import injured companies used the program to change and turn their company around and make it profitable.  One of the companies was using steel as an input, and was getting smashed by Chinese imports.  After getting into the program, not only did the company become prosperous and profitable, it is now exporting products to China.  This is the transformative power of TAA for Companies.

Amazingly, TAAF came into being over 40 years ago, before “globalization” was even a word.  On the eve of TPP – it’s never been so relevant.  The idea then, and now, is that changes in trade circumstances (often sudden and unpredictable) put U.S. companies and jobs in jeopardy.  In other word, government action through trade agreements, such as the TPP, change the US market and the market conditions under which companies operate in the United States.  Since government action through the trade agreement has changed the US market, I believe the US government has an obligation to help US companies adapt to the changing US market.

Global trade has evolved over the past 40 years and perhaps it’s time for trade policy to adapt to those changes.   The original mission for TAA was more concerned with the impact of increased imports on US workers, and the vast majority of funds have been dedicated to the TAA for Workers program.   The landscape has changed as more than 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last 40 years, and the mission for TAA must now shift to maintaining a robust core of manufacturing companies and jobs. Without a vibrant core of manufacturing firms, the US won’t have the capacity or capabilities to achieve growth through export expansion no matter how many free trade agreements are passed, and all the training in the world is not going to bring back those manufacturing jobs.

Earlier this summer, as explained in detail in past blog posts, Trade, including Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and TAA were the hot topics on Capitol Hill.  During this process Congress authorized the TAA program for five years – a length of time and expression of confidence that nobody expected.  The series of events in the Congress were highly dramatic – it was a breakthrough in bipartisanship.

Many Senators and House Representatives played a significant role in pushing the trade legislation, including TAA, through Congress.  The Senators included Republicans Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch and Democrats Ron Wyden, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.   In the House, Republican Representatives, including Paul Ryan, Dave Reichert, and Jaime Herrera Beutler, voted for the TAA program along with over 90 other Republicans.  Democratic Representatives, including Suzanne Bonamici and many from the New Dem Coalition, such as Representatives Ron Kind, Derek Kilmer, Rick Larson, and Suzan DelBene, helped push the TAA and TPA legislation through Congress.

But, in the very next breath Congress cut the program’s appropriations to $12.5 Million. That’s $12.5 Million for the entire country – an investment of only $250,000 per state to help trade impacted manufacturing companies.

A couple of points to make here:

At $12.5M, TAAF will be able to serve less than 1 in 1,000 companies injured by import competition. Does anyone truly believe that import competition is seriously affecting less than one in 1,000 companies, especially with the coming passage of the TPP?

The inequity of funding for TAA programs must be addressed – FY 2015 appropriations for TAA for Workers was $711 million; TAA for Companies was $15 million.  Both programs play an important role in trade policy, but does it make sense to use the vast majority of funds for retraining efforts after jobs have been lost?  Or, should more of the funding be dedicated to saving both companies and jobs through the TAAF program?

As indicated below, the Labor Advisory Committee to the TPP, which is composed of Unions, estimates that TPP could cost the United States up to 330,000 jobs in the Manufacturing Sector.  Although this may be too pessimistic, the TPP will create losers, companies that do not do as well, and without a robust TAAF program how can those companies and jobs be saved?

TAAF has been evaluated repeatedly by GAO, CRS, and various outside evaluators, which conclude that instead of dying, TAAF companies have a 6% annual growth rate. That’s after an at least 5% decline year on year (the threshold for entering the program), which is an impressive turn-around for distressed companies.  TAAF has proven its worth, and the basic model is the most effective trade remedy that works in the 21st century.  Moreover, the TAAF solution does not change the US market or create the collateral damage associated with US antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  Instead, it teaches the company how to change, adapt and swim in the new market conditions caused by imports.

More importantly, TAAF changes the mindset of the injured companies away from Globalization victimhood to being competitive in the international market.  One Economic Development Council here in Washington State has the motto Compete Every Day, with Every One in Every Country Forever.  That is the type of mindset that turns companies around.  That is the type of mindset TAA for Companies promotes.

TPP TEXT AND TRADE ADVISORY REPORTS

On November 5, 2015, the United States Trade Representative Office (“USTR”) released the text of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (“TPP”).  This is an enormous trade agreement covering 12 countries, including the United States, Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam, and covers 40% of the World’s economy. To read more about the TPP and the political negotiations behind the Agreement see past blog posts on this site.

The text of the Agreement is over 6,000 pages. We have downloaded the text of the various Chapters, which are listed below.  We have broken the Agreement down into three parts and have added consecutive page numbers to the Agreement in the right hand lower corner to make the Agreement easier to navigate.

For specific tariff changes on specific products, look at attached Chapter 2 National Treatment and Market Access for Goods, Chapters 1 – 2 – Bates 1 – 4115  This is the largest document because it includes all imported items by tariff number.  But this is the section that will impact most companies.  The other parts of the text covering Chapters 3 to 30 is posted on the blog, Chapters 3 – 30 – Bates 4116 – 5135. along with the Appendices, Annex 1 – 4 – Bates A-1-1074

On November 5th, the Treasury Department released the attached text of the Currency Manipulation side deal, Press Release – 12 Nation Statement on Joint Declaration Press Release – Joint Declaration Fact Sheet TPP_Currency_November 2015

On December 2nd and 3rd, 2015 various trade advisory groups operating under the umbrella of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) Group issued reports on the impact of the TPP on various industries and legal areas.  Attached are some of the reports,  Agricultural-Policy-Advisory-Committee ATAC-Animals-and-Animal-Products ATAC-Fruits-and-Vegetables ATAC-Grains-Feed-Oilseed-and-Planting-Seeds ATAC-Processed-Foods ATAC-Sweeteners-and-Sweetener-Products Intergovernmental-Policy-Advisory-Committee-on-Trade ITAC-2-Automobile-Equipment-and-Capital-Goods ITAC-3-Chemicals-Pharmaceuticals-Health-Science-Products-and-Services ITAC-5-Distribution-Services ITAC-6-Energy-and-Energy-Services ITAC-8-Information-and-Communication-Technologies-Services-and-Electronic-Commerce ITAC-9-Building-Materials-Construction-and-Non-Ferrous-Metals ITAC-10-Services-and-Finance-Industries ITAC-11-Small-and-Minority-Business ITAC-12-Steel ITAC-14-Customs-Matters-and-Trade-Facilitation ITAC-15-Intellectual-Property ITAC-16-Standards-and-Technical-Barriers-to-Trade Labor-Advisory-Committee-for-Trade-Negotiations-and-Trade-Policy Trade-and-Environment-Policy-Advisory-Committee.pdf.   All the reports can be found at https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/trans-pacific-partnership/advisory-group-reports-TPP.

Almost all of the reports are favorable, except for the Steel Report, which takes no position, and the Labor Advisory Report, which is opposed because it is the position of the Unions.  Some of the relevant reports for various industries are as follows:

For Agriculture, see Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee, Animals and Animal Product, Fruits and Vegetables, Grains and Processed Foods.  See also Standards and Technical Barriers to Trade.  For Pharmaceuticals and Health Care, see Chemicals and Health Science products, plus Services.  For Banking see financial and services.  For Energy and Mining, see Energy and Energy Services plus Non-Ferrous Metals. For Intellectual Property, see IP Report and Information and Communications Technologies.  For Telecom, see Communication Technologies and also Standards. For Environmental, see Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee. For Customs and Trade, see Customs and Trade Facilitation.

TO TPP OR NOT TO TPP THAT IS THE QUESTION

On  October 5th, in Atlanta Trade ministers from the U.S. and 11 other nations, including Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia, reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), which will link up 40 percent of the world’s economy.  Some of the key issues in the TPP are:

Cut Tariffs on 18,000 products

New special 2 year safeguard for certain domestic industries that face a surge in imports

State-owned companies with TPP Countries must conduct commercial activities in accordance with market- based considerations

Vietnam must allow formation of independent labor unions

Malaysia will face trade retaliation if it does not improve its forced labor and human trafficking record

Bar countries from requiring the localized storage of data or surrender valuable source codes as condition of market entry

Require parties to commit to sustainable forest management and conserve at risk plants and animals.

On November 5, 2015, the United States Trade Representative Office (“USTR”) released the text and appendices of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, which are over 6,000 pages long and are attached above. The clock has started to run, which means President Obama could technically sign the Agreement 60 days later or on February 3rd,.  Potentially Congress could take up the bill 30 to 90 days later.

But the big question is when will Congress take up the Agreement and can it be ratified.  Two weeks ago on Capitol Hill in discussions with legislative trade staff, they said the TPP has to start from the House of Representatives.  So that means that Paul Ryan, the new Speaker of the House, will probably have the final say, along with Senators McConnell and Hatch.

The new Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means, Congressman Dave Reichert, stated recently that a House floor vote on TPP could be possible in late spring or early summer.  Given the timeline established by TPA requirements, the President will be able to sign TPP Feb. 3 and then send the implementing legislation to Congress after March 4.  Chairman Reichert stated that Congress would have 90 days to consider the agreement, but he would rather not see the House vote pushed into the end of July, adding that it would be possible for the pact to enter into force by January 2017.  Congressman Reichert expressed confidence that sufficient votes would be there to meet the simple majority threshold required under TPA, but he acknowledged that votes on trade agreements are always close.  See article below on the appointment of Congressman Dave Reichert of Washington State to the Chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means.

As Chairman Reichert further stated, “We’re probably looking somewhere around the May time frame—we’re thinking late spring, early summer.”  But he also indicated that there were many issues to be discussed before scheduling the vote.

In talking to a number of Congressional Trade Staff two weeks ago, they still have not read the entire 5,000 plus pages of the Agreement and digested it enough to know what is in it.

Reichert also stressed that the timing of any vote would be a leadership decision, stating:

We’re taking a measured approach, we’re studying the document and we’re working with other members of Congress and talking with our constituents to see where the troubles might exist for them on a particular product and also working closely with the ambassador [U.S. Trade Representative] Mike Froman.

Reichert also indicated that the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) report on the impact of the TPP agreement on the U.S. economy, which is due by May 18, would also have an impact on the vote.

Reichert further stated:

We are in study mode and talking with members who have issues and concerns about some of the language in TPP.  We’re just going to be moving forward, talking with constituents, talking with members, finding ways we can address these concerns.

Two notable areas of concern are the intellectual property rights protections for pharmaceutical drugs and the carve-out of tobacco from investor state dispute settlement.  The TPP has only 5 years of protection for biologic drugs when the Pharmaceutical companies wanted 12 years.

Reichert further stated, “If we lose some votes [because of the tobacco issue], we’ll have to work on our Democrat friends to pull through and support the effort to recover those losses”

As one Republican Trade Staffer, who is very close to the decision-making, told me, “We honestly do not know when the TPP will come up.”  The staffer went on to state that before the Agreement was finalized, USTR would state that “Substance drives the timeline.”  As the Staffer further stated, now “Addressing members’ [Congressional representatives’] concerns sets the timeline.”

One Democratic trade staffer in the Senate stated that he believes that the Presidential election will have an impact on the timing of a TPP vote in the Congress. If the TPP is looked upon as a positive by the US electorate, the Republicans may want to keep the issue on the table to use against Hilary Clinton in the election.  But if the TPP is looked upon as a negative, Congressional Republicans may want the vote to take place in Spring or Summer 2016 to take it off the table in the Presidential election.

Senate Republican trade staffers made the same point to me, “Maybe there will be no vote on TPP in 2016.”

Any issue this big coming up in a Presidential election year is by its very nature political so President politics will have an impact.  As indicated below, however, Presidential politics cuts several ways.  On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is adamantly against the TPP and Hilary Clinton has said she is opposed because she wants the union votes. On the Republican side, all the candidates, except Donald Trump, are in favor of the TPP, but Trump adamantly opposes it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA PUSHES FOR TPP

On November 10, 2015, President Obama made his case for the TPP on Bloombergview.com:

A Trade Deal for Working Families

By Barack Obama

As President, my top priority is to grow our economy and strengthen the middle class. When I took office, America was in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression — but thanks to the hard work and resilience of the American people, our businesses have created 13.5 million jobs over the past 68 months, the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. The unemployment rate has been cut nearly in half — lower than it’s been in more than seven years. We have come back further and faster from recession than nearly every other advanced nation on Earth.

That’s real progress. But as any middle-class family will tell you, we have more to do. That’s why I believe the Trans-Pacific Partnership is so important. It’s a trade deal that helps working families get ahead.

At a time when 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, this agreement will open up new markets to made-in-America goods and services. Today, exports support 11.7 million American jobs. Companies that sell their goods around the world tend to grow faster, hire more employees and pay higher salaries than companies that don’t. On average, export-supported jobs pay up to 18 percent more than other jobs.

These are good jobs — and this agreement will lead to even more of them. It would eliminate more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on made-in-America products. For instance, last year, we exported $89 billion in automotive products alone to TPP countries, many of which have soaring tariffs — more than 70 percent in some cases — on made-in-America products. Our farmers and ranchers, whose exports account for roughly 20 percent of all farm income, face similarly high tariffs. Thanks to the TPP, those taxes will drop drastically, most of them to zero. That means more U.S. exports supporting more higher-paying American jobs.

At a time when our workers too often face an unfair playing field, this agreement also includes the highest labor standards of any trade deal in history. Provisions protecting worker safety and prohibiting child labor make sure that businesses abroad play by the same kinds of rules we have here at home. Provisions protecting the environment and combating wildlife trafficking make sure that economic growth doesn’t come at the expense of the only planet we call home.

And these commitments are enforceable –meaning we can hold other countries accountable through trade sanctions if they don’t follow through. So, these tough new rules level the playing field, and when American workers have a fair chance to compete, I believe they’ll win every time.

I’ve said many times that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the right thing for our economy, for working Americans and for our middle class. But I’m not asking you to take my word for it. Instead, I’ve posted the agreement online. If you build cars in places such as Detroit, you can see for yourself how your products will have a better shot of hitting the road in places such as Japan. If you’re a farmer or rancher, you’ll see how your products will face fewer barriers abroad. If you’re a small-business owner, you’ll see how this agreement will mean less paperwork and less red tape.

Along with the text of the agreement, we’ve posted detailed materials to help explain it. It’s an unprecedented degree of transparency — and it’s the right thing to do. Not every American will support this deal, and neither will every member of Congress. But I believe that in the end, the American people will see that it is a win for our workers, our businesses and our middle class. And I expect that, after the American people and Congress have an opportunity for months of careful review and consultation, Congress will approve it, and I’ll have the chance to sign it into law.

Together, we’ve overcome enormous obstacles over the past seven years. We’ve taken an economy that was in free fall and returned it to steady growth and job creation. And we’ve put ourselves in a position to restore America’s promise not only now, but for decades to come. That’s what I believe this agreement will help us do.

UNIONS PUSH AGAINST IT

On December 4th, Union leaders from the United Steelworkers, United Mine Workers of America and the Service Employees International Union, who sit on the president’s Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy, came out against the TPP in the report released by USTR, arguing that although the TPP creates some limited opportunities for increased exports, it will also increase trade deficits in several industries — such as auto, aerospace, textiles and call centers — and will kill US jobs.  As the Union members on the Labor Advisory Committee state in the attached report, Labor-Advisory-Committee-for-Trade-Negotiations-and-Trade-Policy:

The LAC strongly opposes the TPP, negotiated between the United States (U.S.), Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. We believe that the Agreement fails to advance the economic interests of the U.S. and does not fulfill all of the negotiating objectives identified by Congress in the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. The threat to future economic gains here in the U.S. and the standard of living of our people will be put in jeopardy by the Agreement. These threats will grow over time based on the potential for open-ended expansion of the TPP to countries ranging from Indonesia to China.

The LAC report goes on to state:

On behalf of the millions of working people we represent, we believe that the TPP is unbalanced in its provisions, skewing benefits to economic elites while leaving workers to bear the brunt of the TPP’s downside. The TPP is likely to harm the U.S. economy, cost jobs, and lower wages. . . .

The LAC entered the TPP process hopeful and optimistic that the TPP would finally be the agreement that broke the elite stranglehold on trade policy and put working families at the front and center. Unfortunately, we believe the TPP fails to strike the proper balance: of course it is difficult to convince Vietnam to implement freedom of association before the TPP enters into force once Vietnam has already agreed to provisions that will force it to pay higher prices for medicines and subject even its most basic laws to challenge by foreign investors in private tribunals. Given the misguided values enshrined in the TPP, it is no surprise that the economic rules it will impose will actually make it harder to create a virtuous cycle of rising wages and demand in all 12 TPP countries.

While the TPP may create some limited opportunities for increased exports, there is an even larger risk that it will increase our trade deficit, which has been a substantial drag on job growth for more than twenty years. Especially at risk are jobs and wages in the auto, aerospace, aluminum and steel, apparel and textile, call center, and electronic and electrical machinery industries. The failure to address currency misalignment, weak rules of origin and inadequate state-owned enterprise provisions, extraordinary rights provided to foreign investors and pharmaceutical companies, the undermining of Buy American, and the inclusion of a labor framework that has proved itself ineffective are key among the TPP’s mistakes that contribute to our conclusion that the certain risks outweigh the TPP’s speculative and limited benefits. . . .

The LAC urges the President in the strongest possible terms to reverse course now. Do not send this TPP to Congress. Instead, the TPP should go back to the negotiating table. We want to work with you and our counterparts in the other TPP countries to create a truly progressive TPP that uplifts working people, creates wage-led growth, diminishes income inequality, promotes infrastructure investment, protects intellectual property without undermining access to affordable medicines, and respects our democracy. . . .

The LAC went on to state with regards to Manufacturing:

Manufacturing—General

The Trans Pacific Partnership will seriously undermine the future of domestic manufacturing production and employment. As was noted in an initial evaluation of the TPP published in the Wall Street Journal, the combined U.S. trade deficit in manufacturing, including automobiles and auto parts, would increase by $55.8 billion under the TPP. Utilizing the conservative estimate of the Department of Commerce that each $1 billion in trade correlates to 6,000 jobs, the TPP will cost, at a minimum, 330,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector. That estimate does not include the indirect cost in terms of jobs or on wages and living conditions of all the primary and secondary workers who will be negatively affected by the agreement. Indeed, we believe that the job loss potential of the TPP is much higher.

The report is one of 27 from various advisory committees on trade policy, environment and industries released by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on December 4th, many of which backed the TPP.

Meanwhile on December 4, 2015, the United Auto Workers (“UAW”) called on Congress to reject the TPP, stating that the agreement threatens domestic manufacturing jobs.  The international executive board of the UAW, one of North America’s largest unions with more than 750 locals, unanimously voted against the TPP, saying the deal repeats many of the same mistakes as other free trade deals before it, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, that led to stagnant wages, rising income inequality and plant closings in the U.S.

On November 10, 2015, the Blue Green Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups, continued to attack the TPP as a threat to U.S. jobs and climate change policies.  Members of the Alliance include the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers, each of which has taken a leading role in steering the fight to defeat the TPP.  Although the Union attacks are well-known, the Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune aimed his attack at the TPP’s investor state dispute settlement mechanism, which he claimed will give corporations even more power to challenge governments’ air, water and climate protection rules.

PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS—WALL STREET JOURNAL GOES AFTER TRUMP ON TPP AND TRADE

Meanwhile, trade issues and the TPP have been the subject of Presidential politics, with George Melloan writing an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal on November 3, 2015 comparing Donald Trump to Herbert Hoover and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff:

Donald Trump, Meet Herbert Hoover

Today’s ardent foe of free trade has a soul mate in the president who signed Smoot-Hawley into law.  Donald Trump sees unpredictability as a virtue, so one can only guess what his policies would be if he makes it to the Oval Office. Yet because he continues to lead the Republican pack with the election only a year away, maybe it’s time to make some guesses. Those guesses may or may not be well-informed by Mr. Trump’s incessant monologues. But if he is taken at his word, he is one of the most ardent opponents of free trade ever to seek high office in the U.S.

Mr. Trump rants that as President he would punish Ford Motor Co. for building a plant in Mexico by slapping a 35% tariff on Ford cars and parts imported from that plant. China and Japan are trade enemies and he would fix their wagons, too, by putting trade negotiations with them in the hands of wheeler-dealer Carl Icahn. His pugnacious hostility toward trading partners could be brushed off, but opinion polls suggest that what he says has a lot of resonance with the electorate. . . .

The tariff act they [Smoot Hawley] wrote was initially meant to benefit farmers. But after the shock of 1929, industry and labor demanded protection as well.

Both Hoover and the Republican Congress were compliant. In its final form Smoot-Hawley covered some 20,000 items. The average tariff on dutiable goods jumped to 50% from an already high 25%. U.S. trading partners responded in kind and world trade began to shut down. . . .

But on June 17, 1930, Hoover, pressured by his fellow Republicans, signed it anyway.

The rest is history, as they say. The combined effects of declining global trade and New Deal experiments with central planning meant that Americans would suffer a decade of hard times. No Republican would man the Oval Office for another 20 years.

Could such a thing happen today? Probably not, at least not in the same way. It is now widely understood and accepted that the well-being of the American people is predicated on the smooth flow of global trade and capital. Almost every product Americans buy, including homes, is a composite of parts made in many places in the U.S. and abroad.

Apparently the only prominent American who doesn’t understand that is Donald Trump. He seems to think, as did many people 85 years ago to their sorrow, that the mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services across borders is a zero-sum game, indeed a form of warfare.

Some of us have assumed that the hotel and casino tycoon’s populist demagoguery will ultimately blow itself out. But what if it doesn’t?

On November 8th, Mary Anastasia O’Grady authored another article for the Wall Street Journal, “Memo to Trump: Nafta Helps Americans”, stating:

Levying tariffs on Mexico to pay for a border wall would launch a trade war. . . .

Without the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), manufacturing would be in even worse shape. But don’t tell Donald Trump that. If elected President, he promises to “make America great again” by, among other things, blowing up the 1994 trade pact. . . .

In other words, Mr. Trump plans to launch a trade war with Mexico. This is as preposterous an idea as it is dangerous. Let’s start with the painfully obvious: A tariff is not paid by the exporter but by the importer, who passes it on to the consumer. . . .

It’s hard to see how any of this could be good for Americans. According to “NAFTA Triumphant,” a report last month by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, annual U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico is now $1.3 trillion, nearly four times greater than before the agreement. Agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have gone up by 350%, and U.S. service exports have tripled. More than a third of U.S. merchandise exports are now bought by Nafta partners.

A trade war would hurt American manufacturing because it would fracture the highly integrated North American economy. All three Nafta partners are competitive globally because they are able to allocate capital to its highest use anywhere on the continent. . . .

A September 2010 National Bureau of Economic Research working paper found that 40% of the content of U.S. imports from Mexico is produced by U.S. workers. . .  .

Mr. Trump’s plan also fails from a security perspective. Mexican states that are engaged economically with their northern neighbors are growing faster than the rest of the country. They are also creating good jobs and raising living standards, necessary factors to stem the flow of Mexican migrants north. . . .

Mr. Trump’s trade agenda is absurd and would invite a depression. He’s either too uneducated in economics to know that or too cynical to care.

On November 12, 2015, the Wall Street Journal went after Trump again on trade, commenting on the Republican debate:

Mr. Trump called it a “terrible deal,” though it wasn’t obvious that he has any idea what’s in it. His one specific criticism was its failure to deal with Chinese currency manipulation. But it took Rand Paul to point out that China isn’t part of the deal and would be happy if the agreement collapsed so the U.S. would have less economic influence in Asia.

Mr. Trump said on these pages Tuesday that he would label China a currency manipulator on his first day as President, triggering tariffs on thousands of Chinese goods. The businessman thinks economic mercantilism is a political winner, but we doubt that starting a trade war that raises prices for Americans would turn out to be popular. Many of Mr. Trump’s supporters care more about his take-charge attitude than his policies, but GOP voters will have to decide if they want to nominate their most protectionist nominee since Hoover. . . .

On November 12, 2015 in an Editorial, the Wall Street Journal stated:

Donald Trump Is Upset

The candidate says we were unfair to him on trade. . . .

Mr. Trump: “Yes. Well, the currency manipulation they don’t discuss in the agreement, which is a disaster. If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the United States—China in particular, because they’re so good. It’s the number-one abuser of this country. And if you look at the way they take advantage, it’s through currency manipulation. It’s not even discussed in the almost 6,000-page agreement. It’s not even discussed.”

So when he is asked about TPP, Mr. Trump’s first reference is to China, which isn’t in TPP, and he now says the world should have known that he knows China isn’t part of it because amid his word salad he said that the deal “was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door.”  .. . .

Our editorial point was what everyone who understands East Asian security knows, which is that China would be delighted to see TPP fail. China is putting together its own Asian trade bloc, and those rules will be written to its advantage. TPP sets a standard for trade under freer Western rules. China could seek to join TPP in the future, but it would have to do so on TPP’s terms, not vice versa.

TPP would help China’s competitors by giving them greater access on better terms to the U.S. market. Production is likely to shift from China to Vietnam and other countries. In October the Financial Times quoted Sheng Laiyun, the spokesman for China’s National Bureau of Statistics, as saying that, “If the TPP agreement is finally implemented, zero tariffs will be imposed on close to 20,000 kinds of products. . . . That will create some pressure on our foreign trade.” Some back door.  ***

As for currency manipulation, we gave Mr. Trump a forum for his views in our pages on Tuesday. He doesn’t understand currencies any better than he does TPP. Currency values are largely determined by central banks and capital flows. If China made the yuan convertible and let it float, the initial result would probably be a falling yuan as capital left the country. A trade deal with a binding currency provision could also subject the U.S. Federal Reserve to sanctions as a “manipulator” every time it eased money in a recession.

All of this bears on Mr. Trump’s candidacy because he is running as a shrewd deal-maker who can get the economy moving again. Starting a global currency and trade war “on day one” would get America moving toward recession—or worse.

IMPACT ON NON MEMBER COUNTRIES

USTR Froman in late October stated the TPP has had a “magnetic effect” on outside parties realizing that the TPP stands to set the rules of the road in the coming years, stating:

TPP was designed to be an open platform that will grow over time and help raise standards across the region and around the world.  It’s becoming clear that even nonmembers are going to have to compete in a TPP world and raise their game, and that’s good for everybody.

Froman’s statement came one day after Indonesian President Joko Widodo formally expressed interest in joining the TPP because of his fear of being left adrift in the region.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said that the TPP strategy has been to raise trade standards and China could eventually be included in:

The world would be a better place, by far, if China were willing to meet the very high standards of TPP.  The broader impact on China is going to drive a virtuous cycle of better regulatory practices, greater transparency and openness of the Internet. What TPP brings to the member countries are things that I believe all people, including Chinese people, want.

During a recent TPP conference here in Seattle, a State Department expert on the TPP negotiations stated that the objective of the TPP is not to block or contain China.  Instead, the TPP objective is to entangle China in the higher standards and rules set by the TPP.  In other words, to join the TPP, China will have to meet the very high standards and rules set by the Agreement, which could go even higher in future negotiations.

On November 18, 2015, at the first meeting between President Barack Obama and his 11 TPP counterparts since the negotiations were completed on Oct. 5, TPP leaders stated:

“While our focus is on approval and implementation of the results of negotiations with our current partners, we have also seen interest from a number of economies throughout the region.  This interest affirms that through TPP we are creating a new and compelling model for trade in one of the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic regions.”

ITC TPP INVESTIGATION

In the attached notice, ITC TPP INVESTIGATION FED REG, on November 17, 2015 at the request of the USTR, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) launched its formal investigation to assess the TPP’s overall economic impact, as mandated by the legislation to renew Trade Promotion Authority passed earlier this year.  As the Commission states in the notice, the purpose of the investigation is to assess the likely impact of the Agreement on the U.S. economy as a whole and on specific industry sectors and the interests of U.S. consumers.

The important dates during the investigation include a public hearing on January 13, 2016 and pre‐hearing briefs and statements due on December 29, 2015.  Post-hearing briefs and statements are due January 22, 2016.  The ITC will transmit its report to Congress on May 18, 2016.

CONGRESSMAN DAVE REICHERT OF WASHINGTON BECOMES CHAIRMAN OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON TRADE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS—GOOD NEWS FOR WASHINGTON STATE AND FOR FREE TRADE IN GENERAL

On November 18, 2015, in the attached an announcement, REICHERT ANNOUNCEMENT CHAIRMAN, Congressman Dave Reichert, a Republican from Washington State, made the following statement after being named as the new Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade:

I am very honored to have the opportunity to lead the Trade Subcommittee and champion some of the issues that have the greatest impact on Washingtonians. Washington State is one of the most trade-dependent states in the country with 40 percent of our jobs and more than $90 billion in annual exports connected to trade. In the Eighth District alone, 77,100 jobs are supported by trade, and our growers, producers, and businesses export approximately $8.6 billion in goods and services each year.

With the release of the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and our ongoing negotiations with the EU, this is a critical time for trade. As a longtime advocate of expanding trade opportunities, I will continue fighting on behalf of our workers, farmers, and businesses across the country, because I firmly believe through high-standard trade agreements we see expanded opportunities for all.

Representative Reichert is the first Member of Congress from Washington State to serve as Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade.

From personal knowledge, I can confirm that the selection of Representative Dave Reichert as Chairman of the Trade Subcommittee, House Ways and Mean, is important for Washington State and for Free Trade proponents and advocates everywhere.

This is a very powerful position in Washington DC in the Trade network.  Not only the TPP, but amendments to the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty law, Trade Adjustment Assistance and the US Customs law go through his Committee.  Chairman Reichert was recently named to the Conference Committee with the US Senate on the pending Customs and Trade bill, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, H.R. 644, presently in Congress.  The Conference Committee met December 7, 2015 on Capitol Hill and as indicated below, came to Agreement on the Bill on December 9, 2015 for passage in Congress by the end of the year.

The issue of Retroactive Liability for US importers and market economy treatment for China in 2016 are squarely in the jurisdiction of the Trade Subcommittee, House Ways and Means, which Congressman Reichert now chairs.

Rep. Reichert is co-chair of the Friends of TPP Caucus, member of the President’s Export Council, and founder of the Congressional Freight Caucus.  Congressman Reichert also signed the discharge petition, as described in my last newsletter, to move the Ex-Im Bank through the House of Representatives.

On November 25, 2015, in an interview on his new position and the TPP, Chairman Reichert stated that he is focused mainly on making sure that the TPP meets many of the negotiating objectives laid out in the Trade Promotion Authority:

Right now, we are all in the process of comparing TPA language to the TPP language and discussing it with our constituents and getting into more discussions as people learn more and more about what’s actually in TPP.

The Chairman also made clear that he is holding off on a full endorsement of the TPP until he and his colleagues have carried out their analysis:

I am a pro-trade guy, but I am not going to support this agreement until we have thoroughly vetted it.  This has to be a deal that protects and creates American jobs and gives us the opportunity to have this global influence.

Reichert said that persuading skeptical Republicans will be a key job to bring the TPP to the Floor, but opposition from heavyweights, such as Paul Ryan or Orrin Hatch, will make it more difficult to get TPP through both chambers of Congress.  But Chairman Reichert pointed out that the TPP chapters, which cause some Republicans to oppose the bill, could also yield some unlikely allies from the other side of the aisle:

We may lose those members that are really affected by the tobacco provisions but on the other hand on the Democrat side, we may be able to gain some support for votes that we might lose on the Republican side.  There’s a lot of work to do in trying to find a direction through this to ensure that we have the votes to pass it [TPP] when it finally comes to the floor.

CONGRESSIONAL ANNOUNCEMENT ON DEAL FOR NEW TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL

On December 9, 2015, in the attached announcement, AGREEMENT NEW CUSTOMS BILL, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member, Ron Wyden, announced a final agreement on the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.

Some of the key provisions of the bills are stringent enforcement measures for evasion of antidumping and countervailing duties. As Senator Hatch stated:

“Strong enforcement is a key element in our trade arsenal and thanks to this legislation the Administration will have a number of new tools to hold America’s trading partners accountable. Even more, this measure promotes legitimate trade facilitation and works to preserve one of America’s most important economic assets: intellectual property, helping to prevent counterfeit and illicit goods from entering our nation. We’ve put together a good package, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this report across the finish line and signed into law this year.”

As Senator Wyden also stated:

“This enforcement package is about jobs. Too often, our laws and enforcement policies have proven too slow or too weak to stop the trade cheats before jobs are lost. The Leveling the Playing Field Act Congress passed earlier this year helped ensure that workers and businesses harmed by unfair trade have faster access to relief. This conference report, which includes the ENFORCE Act, will help ensure that this relief is effective and that trade cheats cannot evade the consequences of violating our trade laws. The bill we released today represents bipartisan trade enforcement priorities that were years in the making. It takes trade enforcement to a new level to protect workers and businesses in Oregon and around the country. Congress is now on the verge of passing the strongest package of trade enforcement policies in decades.”

Under the new finalized bill, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will be held accountable for effectively acting to prevent evasion of anti-dumping and countervailing duties through a new process with strict deadlines and judicial review.

Attached are a copy of the bill, the conference report and summary of the bill, CONFERENCE REPORT TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 20152 JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE Summary of TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2015.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

NEW UPDATE JUNE 25, 2015 US CHINA TRADE WAR — TAA PASSES HOUSE– HEAVY LIFT OF TPP NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUES

US Capitol Dome Houses of Congress Washington DC“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

NEW UPDATE US CHINA TRADE WAR JUNE 25, 2015 —TAA AND TPA PASS CONGRESS AND GO TO PRESIDENT — NOW HEAVY LIFTING OF TPP NEGOTIATIONS BEGINS

Dear Friends,

On June 25, 2015, the House of Representatives passed the African Growth and Opportunity Act (“AGO”) by a vote of 286 to 138, which includes Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”), and the bill, has been sent to President Obama. On June 24, 2015 the US Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill by a vote of 60 to 38 and President Obama has signed the bill into law. As the Senate and House leadership promised, both TPA and TAA are on President’s Obama’s desk at the same time.

Now the heavy lift begins. Now is the time for any US company that is having export problems with exports to the 12 Trans Pacific Partnership countries, specifically Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore or Vietnam, to bring these problems to the attention of US negotiators and also their Congressional representatives so the issue can be included in the ongoing negotiations.

On June 23, 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan predicted that with the TPA vote TPP could be finalized in a month. That simply not going to happen. With all the negotiating objectives in the TPA bill, including currency manipulation, I firmly believe that TPP negotiations will go on until at least the end of the year and probably into 2016, an election year.

As Senators Hatch and Wyden stated on June 24th on the Senate Floor and Representatives Ryan, Levin and Sessions stated on the House floor on June 25th and below, this is just the beginning of the process. This TPP negotiating process has a very long way to go.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TPA AND TAA NOW LAW—THE HEAVY LIFTING NOW BEGINS AS NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE ON TPP

As stated in the Wall Street Journal and on the Senate and House Floor, the heavy lifting now begins on Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”). In light of numerous Congressional negotiating objectives, the TPP negotiations are going to take time and will not be an easy lift. Congress will be involved in the negotiations every step of the way so this will not be simple.

Anyone who thinks TPP negotiations will be finished in a month is simply wishful thinking. This is just the start of the process.

As the Wall Street Journal stated today on its June 15th front page:

The White House and Republican leaders notched a significant victory Wednesday with the Senate’s passage of divisive trade legislation, but the win kicks off a grueling, months long process to complete a Pacific trade pact that still faces domestic opposition and must win final congressional approval.

As Democratic Congressman Sander Levin, ranking member of House Ways and Means, stated on the House Floor today, the battle now switches to the actual negotiations and words in the TPP itself:

The debate these last weeks and months has been about how do we get a strong and effective trade policy and trade agreement. That debate only intensifies now. Supporters of trade promotion authority, T.P.A., sought vague negotiating objectives and passive role for Congress in the process was the way to go, in part because many on the majority side feel that more trade is essentially better no matter its terms or conditions. The opponents of T.P.A. wanted to ensure that T.P.P. negotiations were on the right track with no blank check to USTR and there are so many outstanding areas, where we are not satisfied with the status of negotiations, where we are uncertain of their outcome, now we can focus like a laser beam on those issues.

The argument about the process of T.P.A. is now behind us. And the challenge of the substance of T.P.P. smack in front of us. Automatic embrace of centuries’ old doctrines does not meet the challenges of intensifying globalization. So we will continue to shine a bright light on the critical issues like market access, state-owned enterprises, intellectual property and access to medicines, worker rights, environment, currency manipulation and investment provisions that could put at risk domestic regulations.

Our calls for improvements to the negotiations will only grow louder. In order for T.P.P. to gain the support of the American people, it will need to gain the votes of a much broader coalition of members of Congress than voted for T.P.A. the issue is not pro-trade versus anti-trade, but whether we shape trade agreements to spread the benefits broadly, including the middle class of Americans. . . .

Finally this bill includes a re-authorization of trade adjustment assistance. I’m an ardent supporter and introduced a bill earlier this year with Adam Smith to re-authorize it. I support 1295. To be sure this T.A.A. is not perfect, it falls short of the high water mark we established for the program in 2009. At a time when trade is expanding and is expected to expand even further with new trade agreements, we should be ensuring adequate funding for workers who lose their jobs as a result of trade . . . . T.P.A., T.P.P., T.A.A., it might seem like a word scramble, but going forward, T.P.P. to the American people will be about jobs and wages. They expect us to work hard to get it right as it is being negotiated, not simply leaving their elected officials with a yes or no vote after T.P.P. is done. We have a lot of work to do. And there is no ducking these issues.

As Republican Congressman Pete Sessions stated on the House Floor today, Congressional Representatives will have their chance and these negotiations are going to take time:

But I would respond and say to the gentleman, you’re going to have an opportunity and I can’t wait to get you invited to every single round of these and have you find time to go do exactly what you think members of Congress ought to be doing. Because in fact that’s the way the T.P.A. is written. . . . But this whole process — as soon as that takes place, the gentleman will have all the opportunity he wants to go and take part of every round of the discussions. But, you know, I don’t believe that’s what we were elected for. I don’t believe we were elected to go and have to do all the work that is described, that the gentleman said, to get back into the fight, to go do the negotiating. But he’ll be given that chance. He’ll be given that chance every single day. As soon as it’s signed by the President, he can go at it. He can maybe even just tell the President he wants to do this for a full time job. I don’t know. But he will have that opportunity and every member of this body will have that same chance. He and every member will have a chance to go and negotiate, be in the room, be a part of the discussion and make sure these — all these big multilateral corporations that he talks about that will be in the room, which they won’t be, because that would not be the right thing, there would be ethics violations, I’m sure the White House, the executive branch can notify him on that, but he will be allowed as a member of Congress.

So, Mr. Speaker, the things which are being talked about most as negative points about this bill, there’s already an answer to it. That’s what Republicans did. This is a Republican bill. This is about the authority of the House of Representatives, the United States Congress, to make sure we are involved. That has never been allowed before. Fast track is what we used to have. That’s what we did have. We now have a bill before us today which will help us complete the entire process, to make sure members of Congress are involved, not just the United States negotiators, but all the world will know . . . the parts about how we’re going to negotiate the trade deal and if it doesn’t come back that way, we’ll vote it down. Do we need to second guess them now today? I don’t think so. But if any member wants to be involved in this, they can just get on their plane and go wherever they want and get it done. And by law they’ll be allowed that opportunity.

All those pundits that say the TPP negotiations will be concluded in a month simply have not listened to the arguments on the House and Senate Floor. To see those arguments, watch CSPAN at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326700-1/us-house-legislative-business. To get a TPP, which will pass Congress, will require much more negotiation and a much longer time. The TPP negotiations will not conclude until the end of the year at the earliest and possibly 2016, an election year.

HOUSE VOTES TO PASS AGOA AND TAA ON JUNE 25, 2015 AND BILL GOES TO THE PRESIDENT

On June 25, 2015 the African Growth and Opportunity Act (“AGOA”) with Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) passed the House by a 286 to 138 vote and has gone to the President Obama for signature. As promised by House Speaker John Boehner and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, TAA was brought to the floor of the House and passed. As Republican Congressman Dave Reichert, a co-sponsor of the TAA bill, stated on the House Floor:

Also included in this legislation is a renewal of trade adjustment assistance and I’m proud as Mr. Ryan said, to sponsor the House legislation to renew it because there is a need for this program. I believe increased trade is good for all Americans and it creates jobs. It makes America stronger. But I also understand that among and along the way, as we create jobs and trade and our jobs change over the next few years, along the way, some workers may need extra assistance and additional training. That’s why T.A.A. is so important. We’ve made great strides this past week by sending T.P.A. to the President’s desk . . . So now, Mr. Speaker, we must move forward, pass T.A.A. and AGOA today.

As Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer on the House Floor stated today, the Republican leaders kept their promise on TPA and TAA:

It’s at times trust is in short supply in this institution for a whole host of reasons but we were given ironclad assurances from the Speaker, from the President, from the Chairman, from Senator Wyden, Senator Hatch, Leader McConnell that T.A.A. would come back to this floor to be voted on. And I think it’s important that that has in fact occurred. Because to adapt, respond and grow a 21st century work force we need trade adjustment assistance. And what we have before us is an improvement over current law. It’s not as good as what we had in 2009, and I hope that we will be able to build on this and move forward, but this program has helped more than 100,000 Americans, including 3,000 of my fellow Oregonians who received job training and financial support. And there will continue to be winners and losers in the global economy. Whether we have trade agreements with countries or not like with pressures from China, it’s important that we provide this for our workers. With our vote today we do so.

US CHINA TRADE WAR JUNE 24, 2015 UPDATE — SENATE PASSES TPA AND IT GOES TO PRESIDENT FOR HIS SIGNATURE; TAA PASSES SENATE AND GOES TO THE HOUSE

Dear Friends,

As predicted, today the US Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill by a vote of 60 to 38 and it has gone to President Obama’s desk for signature.  Now is the time for any US company that is having export problems with exports to the 12 Trans Pacific Partnership countries, specifically Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore or Vietnam, to bring these problems to the attention of US negotiators and also their Congressional representatives so the issue can be included in the ongoing negotiations.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan predicted that with the TPA vote TPP could be finalized in a month.  I suspect not.  With all the negotiating objectives in the TPA bill, including currency manipulation, I firmly believe that TPP negotiations will go on until at least the end of the year and probably into 2016, an election year.

As Senators Hatch and Wyden stated today on the Floor and below, this is just the beginning of the process.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

SENATE PASSES TPA AND THE BILL GOES TO PRESIDENT OBAMA’S DESK FOR SIGNATURE

After jumping over a major procedural hurdle on June 23rd, on June 24th the Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill by a vote of 60 to 38 and the House has sent the bill to President Obama for his signature.  Set forth below are some of the major statements by the proponents and one opponent of the bill.  To see the entire debate, watch CSPAN.org at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326775-1/us-senate-advances-taa-passes-tpa&live.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) also passed the Senate by an overwhelming vote of 77 to 23 votes.  The House is expected to vote on TAA tomorrow and that means it will go to the President by Friday at the latest.

All the Senators emphasized during the debate the importance of the Customs and Trade Enforcement bill going through Congress.  This bill will crack down on US importers that attempt to evade antidumping and countervailing duty laws by importing transshipped merchandise.  This Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill is directed straight at the problem of transshipment by certain Chinese companies around US antidumping and countervailing duty orders.  That bill will now go to conference in the House of Representatives to reconcile differences in the House and Senate bills.

Before the vote, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell stated:

Yesterday’s T.P.A. vote [was a] the long overdue victory for the American worker and the American middle class.  It wasn’t easy. Many thought it would never happen. We even saw corks pop in the facts optional lobby a few weeks ago, but that proved to be premature because here’s what we’ve always known about the legislation we’ll vote to send to the President today. It’s underpinned by a simple but powerful idea, for American workers to have a fair shot in the 21st century economy, it just makes sense to remove the unfair barriers that discriminate against them and the products that they make. Some may disagree. They certainly weren’t quiet in voicing their opinions. It’s okay if they don’t share our passion for ending this unfair discrimination against American workers. It’s okay if they would rather rail against tomorrow.

But a bipartisan coalition in the House and the Senate thought it was time for forward progress instead. We were really pleased to see President Obama pursue an idea we’ve long believed in. We thank him for his efforts to help us advance this measure. We thank all of our friends across the aisle for their efforts too. Senator Wyden, most of all. Over in the house, I commend Speaker Boehner and Chairman Ryan for everything they’ve done. It hasn’t been easy, and without them it wouldn’t have been possible. And of course let me thank Chairman Orrin Hatch for demonstrating such patience, persistence and determination throughout this process. He never lost sight of the goal, never gave up. The people of Utah are lucky to have him. The Senate’s work on trade doesn’t end today. I said the Senate would finish pursuing the rest of the full trade package, and it will. We’ll take another cloture vote today to that end. That process continues. But the key victory for American workers and products stamped “Made in the U.S.A.” comes today. The bill we’re about to pass will assert Congress’s authority throughout the trade negotiation process. It will ensure we have the tools we need to properly scrutinize whatever trade agreements are ultimately negotiated and it will make clear that the final say rests with us. We had plenty of bumps along the road. Frankly, a few big potholes too. But we worked across the aisle to get through all of them. That’s an example of how a new Congress is back to work for the American people. I thank everyone who helped us get where we are. Now let’s vote again to support the American worker and American middle class by approving the bipartisan T.P.A. bill.

Before the vote, ranking Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of the Senate Finance Committee emphasized that the TPA bill would go through along with a Customs and Trade Enforcement bill, which includes major changes to the US Customs and Trade laws, including a sharp crack down on transshipment around US antidumping and countervailing duty laws.  As I have stated many times on this blog, the transshipment issue is a burning issue in Washington DC and now it has resulted in legislation, which will be going to Conference Committee with the House of Representatives.  Senator Wyden stated today on the Floor:

Mr. President, today the Senate is taking major steps towards a new, more progressive trade policy that will shut the door on the 1990’s North American Free Trade Agreement once and for all. One of the major ways this overall package accomplishes this goal is by kicking in place a tough new regime of enforcing our trade laws.  . .  . And it has long been my view, Mr. President, that vigorous enforcement of our trade laws must be at the forefront of any modern approach to trade at this unique time in history. One of the first questions many citizens ask is, I hear there’s talk in Washington, D.C. about passing a new trade law. How about first enforcing the laws that are on the books? And this has been an area that I long have sought to change, and we’re beginning to do this with this legislation, and I want to describe it. And for me, Mr. President, this goes back to the days when I chaired the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade and Competitiveness, and we saw such widespread cheating, such widespread flouting of our trade laws, my staff and I set up a sting operation. We set up a sting operation to catch the cheats. In effect, almost inviting these people to try to use a web site to evade the laws. And they came out of nowhere because they said cheating has gotten pretty easy, let’s sign up. And we caught a lot of people. So we said from that point on that we were going to make sure that any new trade legislation took right at the center an approach that would protect hardworking Americans from the misdeeds of trade cheats.

And in fact, the core of the bipartisan legislation that heads into conference is a jobs bill, a jobs bill that will protect American workers and our exporters from those kind of rip-offs by those who would flout the trade laws. And the fact is, Mr. President, when you finally get tough enforcement of our trade laws, it is a jobs bill. A true jobs bill, because you are doing a better job of enforcing the laws that protect the jobs, the good-paying jobs of American workers. And I guess some people think that you’re going to get that tougher enforcement by osmosis. We’re going to get it because we’re going to pass a law starting today with the Conference Agreement that’s going to have real teeth in it. Real teeth in it to enforce our trade laws. Foreign companies and nations employ a whole host of complicated schemes and shadowy tactics to break the trade rules. And they bully American businesses and undercut our workers.

So what we said in the Finance Committee on a bipartisan basis, that the name of the game would be to stay out in front of these unfair trade practices that cost our workers good-paying jobs. My colleagues and I believe that the Senate has offered now the right plan to fight back against the trade cheats and protect American jobs and protect our companies from abuse. It really starts with what’s called the Enforce Act, which is a proposal I first offered years ago that will give our customs agency more tools to crack down on the cheaters. Then we have a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on the need for an unfair trade alert. That’s another major upgrade that responds to what we heard companies and labor folks say again and again, Mr. President. What they would say is the trade enforcement laws get there too late. They get there too late. The plant’s closed, the jobs are gone, the hopes and dreams of working families are shattered. So what we said is we’re going to start using some of the data and the information that we have to have a real trade alert so that we can spot what’s coming up, get that information in our communities, in our working families and our companies to protect our workers. This unfair trade alert is another major upgrade in how we tackle, Mr. President, enforcing our trade laws. My view is that any bill that comes out of that enforcement conference, the customs conference, needs to reflect important American priorities. And that should certainly include smart protection of our environmental treasures. When our trade agreements establish rules on environmental protection, they’ve got to be enforced with the same vigor as the rules that knock down barriers for businesses overseas.  . . .

And it’s been too hard, too hard in the past for our businesses, particularly our small businesses, to get the enforcement that matters, the enforcement with teeth, the enforcement that serves as a real deterrent to cheating. So this legislation is our chance to demonstrate that strengthening trade enforcement, enforcement of the trade laws, will now be an integral part of a new modern approach to trade, an approach that says, we’re not part of the 1990’s on trade where nobody had web sites and iPhones and the like; we’ve got a modern trade policy with the centerpiece enforcing our trade laws. Our policies are going to give America’s trade enforcers the tools they need to fight on behalf of American jobs and American workers and stop the trade cheats who seek to undercut them. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote “yes” later today on the motion to send the enforcement bill to conference and work on a bipartisan basis, as we did in the Finance Committee, to put strong trade enforcement legislation on the President’s desk.  . . .

My friend and colleague on the Finance Committee, Senator Brown, offered a proposal that goes a long way, in my view, to strengthening our enforcement of key trade laws. It’s called leveling the playing field. . . .if you look at the Committee’s debate, level the playing field was a top priority for those in the unions, the steel unions and others, and it was a also a top priority for their companies. And so having this policy in the trade adjustment assistance is exactly the kind of bipartisan work that the American people want done. Business, labor, Democrats, Republicans — a strong record of evidence as to why it’s needed. This legislation is going to be the difference between steelworkers and paper workers being on the job or being laid off, because it ensures that the remedies of trade law — what’s called Counter-Veiling Duty Law, Anti-Dumping Law — is going to be available to workers and their companies earlier and in a more comprehensive way. It’s going to protect jobs, and it is a priority of both political parties.

I made mention how important this was to me. . . . Hugely important to my state. I said my first hearing was going to be on trade enforcement, and my good friends from the steel industry spoke about how American workers wants to see the Senate and the Finance Committee stand up for them and finally fix the shortcomings in our trade remedy laws. That’s what we have done now. Getting behind Sherrod Brown’s proposal to strengthen our trade laws, to stop unfair trade so that foreign companies do not undercut American workers and manufacturers ought to be an American priority, a red, white, and blue priority, a priority for every member of this body.  . . . The three programs — the trade adjustment assistance program, the health coverage tax credit, Senator Brown’s leveling the playing field act — are now moving through the Senate alongside legislation that creates new economic opportunities for impoverished countries in Africa and other places around the world.  . . . I urge all of my colleagues to vote yes to support these important programs when we vote later today.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio speaking against TPA pounded on the enforcement bill:

Its authority to amend trade agreements, should not pave the way for a trade deal that looks like it’s going to be more of the same. Corporate handouts, worker sellouts. We’ve seen it with NAFTA. We saw a similar kind of move on PNTR with China where the trade deficit, our bilateral trade deficit has almost literally exploded since 2000, when this body and the other body moved forward on PNTR. . . . . We also have a responsibility to look out for the American worker who we know will be hurt by this deal. . . . Last, Mr. President, we have an opportunity in this bill today to once again support the level the playing field act to make sure it gets to the President’s desk. This will be the vote after this — after the T.P.A. vote. This vote is essential to protecting our manufacturers from illegal foreign competition. We can’t have trade promotion without trade enforcement. It shouldn’t be bipartisan, regardless of how you vote on T.A.A. we need to make sure our deals are enforced. Level the playing field to against unfair trade practices, it’s critical for our businesses, our workers who drown in the flood of illegally subsidized import. It has the full support of business and workers, Republicans and Democrats. . . . No matter where you stand on T.P.A. we should be able to come together to have enforce — enforceable laws. We have trade. We know these agreements cause wages to stagnate, we know these agreements cause factories to close . . . This is a terrible mistake we will make which we’ve made over and over and over and over if we pass this today. If we pass T.P.A. it’s the same mistake we made with NAFTA. Big promises, job increases, wages going up, bad results. We did it when we passed PNTR, when we passed CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, with the Korean Free Trade Agreement, we’re about to do it again, shame on us. At least take care of workers if we’re going to pass this legislation.

Prior to the vote, Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called the TPA bill and accompanying trade legislation the most important bill to pass in the Senate this year.  Senator Hatch stated:

This is a critical day for our country. In fact I’d call it an historic day. It’s taken us awhile to get there, longer than many of us would have liked but we all know anything worth having takes effort and this bill is worth the effort. This is perhaps the most important bill we’ll pass in the Senate this year. It will help reassert Congress’s role over U.S. trade negotiations and reestablish the United States as a strong player in international trade.

Renewing T.P.A. has been a top priority for me for many years and as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I am pleased that with the help of ranking member Wyden, we’ve been able to deliver a robust and bipartisan bill. It’s also been a high priority for the Senate Majority Leader. And thanks to his strong support and leadership, we’re one step away from completing this important task. This bill will help farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs throughout our country get better access to foreign markets and allow them to compete on a level playing field. This bill will help give these job creators and the workers they employ greater opportunities to grow their businesses which will help create a healthier American economy. The business and agricultural communities understand the importance of strong trade agreements. That is why they came together in strong support of this important legislation. We’ve heard from all of them throughout this debate, and I appreciate their enthusiasm and support.

This has from the outset been a bipartisan effort, and I’m glad it remained that way. Throughout this entire debate here in the Senate, over in the House and here in the Senate again we’ve been able to maintain a bipartisan coalition in support of T.P.A., fair trade, and expanded market access for U.S. exporters. This is no small feat, Mr. President, and I’m appreciative of everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible. With this final vote, we can complete the work that we began so many years ago. But let’s be clear, passing T.P.A. is not the end of the story. It’s just the beginning. As Chairman of the Finance Committee, I intend to remain vigilant in our oversight as the administration pursues the negotiating objectives that Congress has set with this legislation. And if they fall short, I will be among the first to hold them accountable. But that is for another day. Today I urge my colleagues to help us finalize this historic achievement and join me in voting in favor of this bipartisan T.P.A. bill. If the vote goes the way I think it will today, today will be remembered as a good day for the Senate, the President, and the American people. Mr. President, once we vote to pass T.P.A., we will then be voting to invoke cloture on the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015.  . . . In addition to these preferences programs, the bill we’ll be voting on includes legislation introduced by Senators Portman and Brown to strengthen the enforcement and administration of our anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws. As I have noted in the past, anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws are among the most important trade tools we have to protect U.S. companies from unfair foreign trade practices. A number of Utah companies do benefit from these laws which allow them to compete against imports that unfairly benefit from support from foreign governments. I’m pleased we were able to include this legislation in the preferences bill. Finally, also included in this bill is an extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance, or T.A.A. program. I think I’ve said enough about my opposition to this program here on the floor over the past several weeks. I won’t delve too deeply into that issue here. However, I do understand that for many of my colleagues who want to support T.P.A. and free trade, passage of T.A.A. is a prerequisite. From the outset of this debate over trade promotion authority, I’ve committed to my colleagues to working to ensure that both T.A.A. and T.P.A. move on parallel tracks. I plan to make good on this commitment and today will show that. That is why despite my misgivings about T.A.A. and with the entire picture in view, I plan to vote for this latest version of the trade preferences bill.

On June 23, 2015, former Senate Majority leaders Bob Dole and Trent Lott, in the Wall Street Journal congratulated Senator McConnell with pushing the TPA/trade legislation through the Senate stating:

It is a relief to see an institution that we both devoted so much of our lives to working again.  And it is an encouraging development for the country to see the Senate addressing big problems after years of inaction when it was controlled by Democrats.

JUNE 23, 2015 UPDATE

SENATE JUMPS OVER MAJOR PROCEDURAL HURDLE AND PUSHES TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY FORWARD

Dear Friends,

There was a major development in the Senate today on Trade Promotion Authority.  The Senate has jumped over a major procedural hurdle and moved the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill forward. The final TPA vote will be tomorrow and it will pass because only a simple majority is needed. For US companies, this means now is the time to bring to the attention of US trade negotiators any export problems they have with the 12 TPP countries, specifically Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore or Vietnam, so the issue can be included in the ongoing negotiations.

The TPA fight has also raised questions as to whether the Free Trade Agreements can actually pass Congress or whether the US will slip backward into a protectionist mindset and no longer be a free trade leader.

If you have any questions about this topics, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

SENATE PASSES TPA PROCEDURAL HURDLE AND MOVES IT FORWARD SO THAT THE TPA BILL WILL BE ON THE PRESIDENT’S DESK BY FRIDAY

On June 23, 2015, in a key procedural vote in the Senate, which required a minimum of 60 votes to pass, the Senate passed cloture 60-37 for Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”).  To pass cloture and bring the TPA bill up for vote, the Senate requires 60 votes.  This means that tomorrow the Senate will have the final vote on TPA and only 51 votes are required for passage.

To recap since the last blog post, after passing the Senate on May 22nd, the linked TPA and Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) bills went to the House of Representatives.  Despite Herculean efforts by House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, on June 12th progressive Democrats and tea party protectionist conservative Republicans joined together to defeat Trade Adjustment Assistance and pursuant to the procedural rules kill TPA.  But pro-trade Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House worked with President Obama to come up with an alternative strategy and delinked TAA from TPA.

On June 18th, the House passed the TPA as a stand-alone bill.  See Paul Ryan’s statement on the House Floor at http://waysandmeans.house.gov/.

In response, today, June 23rd, the Senate with no extra votes, overcame the procedural hurdle of the 60 vote requirement, and voted to move forward with the House TPA Bill, which had passed on June 18th.  Tomorrow the Senate will vote on TPA and only a simple majority is required, which means TPA will pass and go to President Obama’s desk for signature by the end of the week.

One can see the Senate vote and the entire speeches up to and after the vote on Cspan at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326681-1/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority.  Prior to the vote, Republican Majority Mitch McConnell stated in part:

The Bipartisan Trade Legislation Trade Legislation we’ll vote on today.  . . . It’s demonstrating that both parties can work together to strengthen America’s National Security at home and America’s leadership abroad.  Instead of simply ceding the future and one of the World’s fastest-growing regions from Chinese aggression and it’s proven that our friends can rally with us in support of 1.4 Million additional jobs in our country, including over 18,000 in Kentucky alone. . . .

Today is a very big vote. It’s an important moment for the country. It sets in motion the completion of a project we set out on literally months ago.  Completing work on all four of the bills reported by the Finance Committee. That is what my friend on the other side said they wanted and that is what can be achieved by continuing to work together.  . . .

So this is where we are, Mr. President. Let’s vote today. Let’s vote today to move ahead on T.P.A., an important accomplishment for the country. Then we can vote to move ahead on T.A.A. and AGOA and preferences. And then we can vote to move ahead on customs. If we all keep working together and trusting each other, then by the end of the week the President will have T.P.A., T.A.A., and AGOA and preferences on his desk. With Customs in the process of heading his way as well.

As Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, stated in part prior to the vote:

On Trade Promotion Authority, the Senate has voted on this before each time demonstrating strong bipartisan support for T.P.P. — T.P.A. My hope is we can get a similar result in the Senate. We need to be clear about what is at stake. The United States is clearly negotiating a number of trade agreements with our most important trading partners in the world.  . . .

As we all know, most of the World’s consumers live outside of our borders.  95% of them. In addition, the vast majority of economic growth in the world is likely to occur outside of the United States over the next decade if our workers, farmers, ranchers and service providers are going to be able to compete in these growing markets, we must have open access to these markets and fair trade rules to boot.  Without strong trade agreements neither is possible.  When it comes to International Trade, we cannot stand still.  If we don’t lead and set the rules of the game, other nations will and our economy will be left behind.

The United States continues to be a leader in agricultural exports throughout the World.  In fact, we still export more agricultural goods than any other country.  In addition, the United States continues to boast an enormous manufacturing base which supplies consumers in every corner of the globe.  We also lead the World in technology, digital services and innovation.  Indeed not only do we lead the World in creation of intellectual property, America essentially created the modern digital landscape.  The U.S. also continues to lead in trade and services, exporting more than $700 Billion in services in 2014 alone.  That is more than twice as much as the United Kingdom, the World’s second-highest services exporter. . . .

This [TPA] bill, which is the product of a great deal of work and a lot of bipartisan cooperation, will have a powerful and positive impact on industries throughout our economy, on consumers and of course on American workers as well.  Mr. President, in an America that embraces International Trade, I believe even those individuals who encounter temporary setbacks can find new opportunities, can outwork, out-produce and out-innovate our global competition so long as the groundwork has been laid to give them those opportunities.  That is why we need strong trade agreements and that is why we need T.P.A. . . .

I am very appreciative of all the support we have received from members on both sides of the aisle.  We couldn’t have gotten this far without that support.  Now it is time to finish the work to pass this bill and get it to the President’s desk.  We need this bill to ensure that our constituents’ voices are heard in the trade negotiating process.  We need this bill to give our trade negotiators the tools they need to get a good deal.  And we need this bill to extend access to foreign markets so we can grow our economy and create good, high-paying jobs here at home.  That, Mr. President, is what this bill is all about and why we have been working on this process for so long.  We’re very close to the finish line, Mr. President.  We need just one more burst of energy and a few more steps to get us there.

I urge all of my colleagues who support free trade, open markets, and the advancement of American values and interests abroad to join me once again in supporting T.P.A. and working with me and with my colleague, Senator Wyden, to get all the pending trade bills passed in the Senate and signed into law. . . .

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, stated prior to vote:

If you believe that those policies of the 1990’s fail to protect American workers and strengthen our economy, this is our chance to set a new course.  This is our chance to put in place higher standards in global trade on matters like labor rights and environmental protection, shine some real sunlight on trade agreements and ensure that our country writes the rules of the road.  The fact is in 2016, globalization is a reality.  The choice is whether to sit back and allow globalization to push and pull on our economy until in effect we face some of the same kind of dictates that you see in China.  So our choice is either to move now, get into the center of the ring and fight for a stronger economic future, protect our workers and promote our values or remain tethered to many of those old policies of the 1990’s.  . . .

China is certainly not going to take up the banner for American values in trade.  So if you believe America should stop a race to the bottom on labor rights, environmental safeguards and human rights, this legislation is our chance to lift global standards up.

Now, I want to talk for a moment about the economic potential of this legislation.  What we all understand we need to do is make things here, grow things here, add value to them here and then ship them somewhere.  My state knows how to make this happen, and so do many others.  About one out of five jobs in Oregon depends on International Trade.  Almost 90% of them are small and medium-sized, and what we know is that in many instances, those jobs pay better, but the fact is if our farmers want to sell their products in Japan – and this is true of agriculture all over America, Mr. President – a lot of our farmers face average tariffs of 40%.  That’s right.  If you want to export some jam to Vietnam, it will be marked up by 90%.  If you want to sell a bottle of wine – and we’ve got wine growers with prosperous businesses all over the country, you’ve got to fork over 50% of the value to the government.  So if you believe that other countries should open their markets to American exports, like the U.S. is open to theirs, this is our chance to bring down the tariffs and other barriers . . .

While the goal of enacting trade policies is a tool to give all Americans a chance to get ahead, trade adjustment assistance is an absolute must-pass bill.  And I am confident that it is going to get through Congress and the President’s Desk.  . . .

In my view, the Congress has an opportunity with this legislation to show that it can work in a bipartisan way to take on one of the premier economic challenges of our time.  Our job is to get past the policies of the 1990’s and move towards getting trade done right.  Colleagues, let’s open – let’s pry open foreign markets and send more of our exports abroad.  Let’s fight for the American brand and the Oregon brand against the trade cheats and the bad actors who are blocking our way.  And let’s raise the bar for American values and open up our trade policies to sunlight.  I urge all in the Senate to vote “Yes” on cloture today and to support this package as it advances this week and in effect we get three of the important bills done this week and set in motion the fourth.

After winning the procedural vote today, Senator McConnell stated:

Have voted aye on the Cloture Motion.  I want to say to our colleagues this is a very important day for our country. We’ve demonstrated we can work together on a bipartisan basis to achieve something that is extremely important for America. Not only when we confirm this trade promotion authority will we have the mechanism in place for the President to finalize an extraordinarily important deal with a number of different Asian countries, it will indicate that America is back in the trade business, it will also send a message to our allies that we understand they’re somewhat wary about Chinese commercial and potentially military domination and that we intend to still be deeply involved in the Pacific.  So I want to congratulate Senator Hatch, Senator Wyden.  This has been a long and rather twisted path to where we are today, but it’s a very, very important accomplishment for the country.

In response to the Senate vote, on June 23rd Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, issued the following statement:

I want to congratulate my colleagues in the Senate for voting to advance TPA. Only with TPA can the U.S. win a fair deal for the American worker in trade negotiations. And only with TPA can the U.S. rebuild its credibility on the world stage. I’m proud of my colleagues—in both houses, on both sides of the aisle—for working together to promote American trade. Some work remains to complete our trade agenda, but this has been a good day.

What is the effect of this vote on companies?  The bottom line is that by the week’s end President Obama will be able to sign into law Trade Promotion Authority and the negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership and the TTIP negotiations with Europe will continue.

For any company facing problems with exports to the 12 countries in the TPP, specifically Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore or Vietnam, now is the time to present your concerns to the trade negotiators in the US government and your Congressional representatives so the issue can be included in the ongoing negotiations.

WILL CONGRESS FOLLOW THE SIREN CALL OF PROTECTIONISM AND TAKE THE US BACK OR MOVE IT FORWARD TO RESUME ITS FREE TRADE LEADERSHIP

In light of the Senate vote today, one hopes that the Congress is moving away from the protectionist brink, but with a 60-37 procedural vote, when 60 votes were required, nothing can be taken for granted.  Listening to the anti-trade rhetoric in the US Senate and House of Representatives one is reminded of the original Greek tale in which Ulysses on his way back home had to pass the Siren rocks.  The Greek Sirens would cry so sweetly they lured sailors and ships to their doom.

Many Democrats and some Republicans are now listening to the Sirens of protectionism from the labor unions and other activists that the US should move inward, put America first and protect workers and US factories at all costs from import competition created by free trade agreements.  Although trade pundits acknowledge that TPA will pass, they argue that the Agreements, the TPP and TTIP Agreement with the EC, will die because the United States simply cannot withstand the protectionist attacks.  If that is true, the US will give up trade leadership and could well return back to the 1900s.  See the statement by Senator Bernie Sanders on June 23rd on the floor of the US Senate at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326681-1/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority&live.

As John Brinkley, a Forbes commentator, stated on June 22, 2015, the day before the vote in the Senate on TPA:

Whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership lives or dies, it will probably be America’s last free trade agreement for a very long time.

No future Congress will want to walk into a war zone like the one now extant to pass a trade deal based on nebulous benefits. You may have noticed that the Obama administration has offered no estimate of how many jobs the TPP would create. Rather, its strategy has been to say that ratifying the TPP would empower the United States to write the rules of global trade and not ratifying it would cede that power to China. . . .

If the administration and Congress can’t convince people that free trade will facilitate those things – and they can’t – why should people care?

The next free trade agreement in the queue is the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, which would connect the economies of the United States and the European Union. Given the amount of combat that’s been waged over the TPP, you wouldn’t want to bet on ratification of the TTIP.

Congressional leaders don’t want to put their members through another grueling trade fight like they one they’re in now, and they have no doubt made that clear to Obama. If the next president is a Democrat, he or she won’t touch the TTIP with a ten foot pole. A Republican president might ignore the opposition and try to get it done, but he’d probably lose. . . .

The TPP’s detractors have been louder and more prolific in attacking it than its proponents have been in defending it. And most of what they’ve been saying is exaggerated or wrong.  They’ll probably fail to derail the TPP. But they’ve probably already succeeded in killing the TTIP and any future trade agreement that the next president or two might envision.

For Mr. Brinkley’s entire article see http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2015/06/22/farewell-free-trade.

Another commentator predicted that the real impact of the Trade fight will be on the Democratic Party stating:

Just as the tea party wing of the Republican Party has pulled the entire GOP to the right and hampered attempts at compromise on Capitol Hill, some now fear a similar dynamic is taking shape on the left. . . .

The revival of the trade package inflamed labor unions and liberal groups that had fought ferociously to block it, including by running ads against otherwise friendly House Democrats and threatening to mount primary campaigns against them. Unions say past trade deals bled American jobs and tanked wages. They argue that granting Obama the power to finalize trade deals that Congress can accept or reject, but not amend, would lead to more of the same, including the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership the White House has worked on for years.

“Democrats who allowed the passage of fast-track authority for the job-killing TPP, should know that we will not lift a finger or raise a penny to protect you when you’re attacked in 2016, we will encourage our progressive allies to join us in leaving you to rot, and we will actively search for opportunities to primary you with a real Democrat,” Jim Dean, head of Democracy for America, said in a statement following Thursday’s House vote. . . .

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20150620/us–congress-democrats-ad8fbb804c.html or http://tiny.iavian.net/5mkd.

To illustrate the pressure on Congressional lawmakers, in discussing the situation with knowledgeable trade professionals, they mentioned that a Union sent demonstrators to the school where one Democratic Congressman placed his kids.

Why is the protectionist America first trade policy wrong policy?  Because all of “international/WTO” trade law is based on reciprocity.  What the United States can do to other countries, those countries can do back to the United States.  In effect, the United States can be hoisted by its own petard, killed by its own knife.

That is the reason Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Congressman Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, are so concerned about currency manipulation.  Yes, currency manipulation is now a negotiating objective as set forth in the TPA.  But enforcing currency manipulation is a problem because there is no internationally accepted definition of currency manipulation.  When the US Federal Reserve used quantitative easing in the last financial crisis, was that currency manipulation?  Could other countries retaliate against the US for using quantitative easing?  That is the fear of free traders.  In international trade what goes around comes around.

The Siren Call of protectionism of putting America first by protecting companies and worker job from imports, the vast majority of which “must be unfairly traded”, however, has echoed throughout American history.  Many politicians apparently have not learned the lessons of history.  In the 1930s, President Hubert Hoover promised to help the United States dig out of the recession by raising tariff walls against imports and Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930.  Countries around the World retaliated by raising barriers to imports from the United States.  Exports and imports stopped and the World was plunged in the depression, which, in turn, was one of reasons for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the cause of the Second World War.

As one article on Capitalism states:

What was the end-result of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act?  As other countries placed tariffs on American exports in retaliation, these tariffs actually led to the reduction of American exports and thus jobs: With the reduction of American exports came also the destruction of American jobs, as unemployment levels which were 6.3% (June 1930) jumped to 11.6% a few months later (November 1930). As farmers were unable to pay back their loans to banks, their loan defaults led to increasing bank crashes, particularly in the West and Mid-West.

See http://capitalism.org/free-trade/what-was-the-end-result-of-the-smoot-hawley-tariff-act/

The State Department itself states on its website:

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of June 1930 raised U.S. tariffs to historically high levels. The original intention behind the legislation was to increase the protection afforded domestic farmers against foreign agricultural imports.  . . . During the 1928 election campaign, Republican presidential candidate Herbert Hoover pledged to help the beleaguered farmer by, among other things, raising tariff levels on agricultural products. But once the tariff schedule revision process got started, it proved impossible to stop. Calls for increased protection flooded in from industrial sector special interest groups, and soon a bill meant to provide relief for farmers became a means to raise tariffs in all sectors of the economy. When the dust had settled, Congress had agreed to tariff levels that exceeded the already high rates established by the 1922 Fordney-McCumber Act and represented among the most protectionist tariffs in U.S. history.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was more a consequence of the onset of the Great Depression than an initial cause. But while the tariff might not have caused the Depression, it certainly did not make it any better. It provoked a storm of foreign retaliatory measures and came to stand as a symbol of the “beggar-thy neighbor” policies (policies designed to improve one’s own lot at the expense of that of others) of the 1930s.  Such policies contributed to a drastic decline in international trade. For example, U.S. imports from Europe declined from a 1929 high of $1,334 million to just $390 million in 1932, while U.S. exports to Europe fell from $2,341 million in 1929 to $784 million in 1932.  Overall, world trade declined by some 66% between 1929 and 1934. More generally, Smoot-Hawley did nothing to foster trust and cooperation among nations in either the political or economic realm during a perilous era in international relations.

The Smoot-Hawley tariff represents the high-water mark of U.S. protectionism in the 20th century. Thereafter, beginning with the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, American commercial policy generally emphasized trade liberalization over protectionism. The United States generally assumed the mantle of champion of freer international trade . . . .

See http://future.state.gov/when/timeline/1921_timeline/smoot_tariff.html.

In fact, it is the political impact and the security implications of the trade agreements, that has caused Secretary of Defense Carter and on May 8th, a bipartisan collection of 7 former US defense secretaries, including Harold Brown, William S. Cohen, Robert M. Gates, Chuck Hagel, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Donald H. Rumsfeld along with well-known Generals, such as General David H. Petraeus and General Colin Powell, to call for the passage of TPA, stating:

By binding us closer together with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Australia, among others, TPP would strengthen existing and emerging security relationships in the Asia-Pacific, and reassure the region of America’s long-term staying power.  In Europe, TTIP would reinvigorate the transatlantic partnership and send an equally strong signal about the commitment of the United States to our European allies.

The successful conclusion of TPP and TTIP would also draw in other nations and encourage them to undertake political and economic reforms. The result will be deeper regional economic integration, increased political cooperation, and ultimately greater stability in the two regions of the world that will have the greatest long-term impact on U.S. prosperity and security.

Indeed, TPP in particular will shape an economic dynamic over the next several decades that will link the United States with one of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic regions. If, however, we fail to move forward with TPP, Asian economies will almost certainly develop along a China-centric model. In fact, China is already pursuing an alternative regional free trade initiative. TPP, combined with T-TIP, would allow the United States and our closest allies to help shape the rules and standards for global trade.

The stakes are clear. There are tremendous strategic benefits to TPP and TTIP, and there would be harmful strategic consequences if we fail to secure these agreements.

In a June 28, 1986 speech President Ronald Reagan indicated that he had learned the Smoot Hawley lesson stating:

Now, I know that if I were to ask most of you how you like to spend your Saturdays in the summertime, sitting down for a  nice, long discussion of international trade wouldn’t be at the top of the list. But believe me, none of us can or should be bored with this issue. Our nation’s economic health, your well-being and that of your family’s really is at stake.  That’s because international trade is one of those issues that politicians find an unending source of temptation. Like a 5-cent cigar or a chicken in every pot, demanding high tariffs or import restrictions is a familiar bit of flimflammery in  American politics. But cliches and demagoguery aside, the truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth.

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

By this time, of course, the protected industry is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition. And that, my friends, is when the factories shut down and the unemployment lines start. We had an excellent example of this in our own history during the Great Depression. Most of you are too young to remember this, but not long after the stock market crash of 1929, the Congress passed something called the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Many economists believe it was one of the worst blows ever to our economy. By crippling free and fair trade with other nations, it internationalized the Depression. It also helped shut off America’s export market, eliminating many jobs here at home and driving the Depression even deeper.

Well, since World War II, the nations of the world showed they learned at least part of their lesson.  . . .

As many famous statesmen have stated in the past, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

With the extreme rhetoric in the international trade area, however, the question is whether the United States truly has learned its lesson or whether it will raise the protectionist walls, and give up on free trade.  So the question is does the United States give up on Free Trade and ignore the historical lesson or does it move forward with these free trade agreements, open up markets around the World,  and retake its leadership position in international trade?.

MAY 27 UPDATE

TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE (“TAA”) FOR COMPANIES

As the battle for Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) moves to the House of Representatives, the merits of the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program, which is linked with the TPA bill, needs to be discussed.  Many Republican Senators and Representatives oppose TAA.  On the Senate Floor, Senate Finance Committee (“SFC”) Chairman Orrin Hatch stated that he was “generally opposed” to TAA, but realized that his Democratic colleagues, led by SFC Ranking member Senator Ron Wyden, needed TAA to support TPA.

In the House, however, many Republican Representatives oppose TAA because they see TAA as an entitlement.  But when talking to Republican staff in the House, it soon becomes apparent that many Representatives do not understand that there are two TAA programs.  The first TAA program is TAA for Workers (“TAAW”), which is a $450 million job retraining program for workers that have been displaced by international trade.  That is the program, Democratic Senators and Representatives need to support, to help the Unions, their constituents.

The second TAA program, however, is TAA for Companies (also called TAA for Firms or TAAF).  TAA for Companies is set at only $16 million in the Senate and $12.5 million in the House nationwide.  TAA for Companies targets small and medium size business (SMEs) and helps them adjust to import competition.  The irony is that SMEs are the Republican sweet spot.  These companies are Republican constituents.

What are the Republican arguments against TAA for Companies?  The first argument is that the program does not work.  To the contrary, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”), which I have been working with, has an 80% survival rate since 1984.  In other words, NWTAAC has saved 80% of the companies that got into the program since 1984.  See the attached Wall Street Journal article, REVISED FEBRUARY242011TAACLETTERWSJ – Perry.

The transformative power of TAA for Companies is illustrated by this video from the Mid-Atlantic TAA Center with statements from four small business owners on how TAA For Companies has saved their business– http://mataac.org/media.  See also the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCef23LqDVs&feature=youtu.be&a.

If you save the company, you save the jobs that go with the company and all the tax revenue paid into the Federal, State and Local governments.  This is the Transformative Power of TAA for Companies.  TAA for Companies does not cost the government money.  It makes money for the government.

In fact, I truly believe that President Ronald Reagan himself endorsed the TAA for Companies program.  Why?  Jim Munn.  I started working with NWTAAC because Ronald Reagan himself asked Jim Munn to look into the program in the early 80’s.  Who was Jim Munn?  He was a Republican organizer, a criminal lawyer in Seattle who won every case that he handled, and yes a personal friend of Ronald Reagan.  See his attached 2002 obituary, JIM MUNN.

What did Jim Munn find out when he investigated the program?  Lo and behold the program works.  Companies are saved, and Jim Munn stayed around as the NWTAAC board chairman for 22 years.

TAA for Companies will be a very important program that Congress can use to help their constituent businesses that will be hurt in the future by trade agreements.  The Trans Pacific Partnership will create many winners, such as agriculture, but losers too, and those losing companies will need help adjusting to the trade tsunami of imports created by the TPP.

The other Republican argument against TAAF is that this program is another Solyndra and picks winners and losers.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  First, TAA for Companies does not provide money directly to companies.  TAA provides matching funds to consultants to work with companies to help them create and implement strategic plans to compete effectively in a trade intensive environment.

Second, there is no picking winners and losers.   Companies have to meet certain statutory criteria (including a decline in business). Company plans are then vetted by business experts at regional TAAF centers, which helps create a business recovery or adjustment plan. TAAF then provides a matching fund for outside expertise to help implement that adjustment plan. When companies are helped at the local level with an adjustment plan created specifically for that company, even companies facing severe import competition can survive and can prosper.

The only limitation on TAA for Companies is the low level of financial support in the Congress.  Many companies wait for long periods of time to get into the program because there simply is no funding.  In five states in the Pacific Northwest, for example, only about 10 companies begin the program each year, which is only a small fraction of the companies facing strong import competition.

Another argument made by Senator Hatch’s Legislative staff is that TAAF is duplicative of other Federal business programs.  That again is not true.  Helping companies that have been injured by imports is an entirely different objective from other business programs.

In the first place, Trade injured companies must change their business significantly to adapt to the new intensive trade environment in order to survive and grow. While there are other programs that offer business planning help, such as SBDC, they generally focus on very small business (often retail or services). TAAF specializes in helping larger trade injured companies, often manufacturers (as well as agricultural and some services companies).

Whereas other programs offer a fixed set of services or specific solutions (e.g. manufacturing technology or lean practices), a one size fits all, from a narrow pool of consultants, TAAF offers a highly flexible solution linking a consultant to a company to solve its specific import problem. Often the consultant hired by TAAF is one that the company already knows but simply does not have the resources to hire.

Today’s SMEs are lean operations, which rely on a network of project based specialists to keep them competitive. TAAF’s strength is the flexibility of linking a specific service provider with a specific skill, matched to the individual needs of the company facing immediate threat from import competition. TAAF does not compete with the private consulting industry, but facilitates access to it. This is the power of the market working to cure the disease and is perfectly in line with Republican principles.

The Transformative Power of TAA for Companies is illustrated by companies in Senator Hatch’s Utah saved by the program.  Today there are 19 Utah companies active in TAAF, including a medical device, a precision metals, a furniture and an aluminum extrusions manufacturer. Because of TAAF, these 19 companies with a total of more $2 billion in sales have retained 1000s of high paid manufacturing jobs and added 1000s more jobs. Total cost to the US tax payer for these 19 companies – $1.2 million over a five year period. But saving those 19 companies and the jobs associated with them has resulted in substantial tax revenue at the Federal, state and local level. What TAAF has done in Utah, it has also done throughout the United States.

In addition to TAA for Companies, there are a number of other amendments to the trade laws going through the US Congress with TPA, including changes to the US antidumping law to make it easier to bring trade cases. As stated in past blog posts and as Ronald Reagan predicted in the attached 1986 speech, BETTER COPY REAGAN IT SPEECH, the problem with antidumping and countervailing duty cases is that they do not work. The Steel Industry has had protection from steel imports under US antidumping and countervailing duty laws for 40 years. Have the cases worked? Is the US Steel Industry prospering today?

All US antidumping and other trade cases can do is slow the decline in an industry. The only program that cures the disease is the TAA for Companies program and with the trade tsunami created by the TPP, this program will be needed to teach companies how to swim in the new competitive environment. That is why this program should be supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the upcoming votes in Congress. TAAF is better targeted and more effective than any other trade remedy available today.

TPA UPDATE—LATEST NEWS FROM THE HOUSE

On May 28th, it was reported that the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives intends to bring up Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) the week of June 8th and will hold two separate votes on its constituent parts. The House is considering taking up the Senate-passed bill, H.R. 1314, which contains both the TPA and TAA renewals, but then vote on each part separately. This could be done using a parliamentary procedure called “division of the question,” which could be written into the rule governing House consideration of the legislation. This rule, however, would have to be approved on the House floor prior to the vote on the bill itself.

The reason for holding the TPA vote in the second week of June after the House returns from recess is to give both Republicans and Democrats time to increase support for TPA to ensure they have the 217 or more votes needed to pass the bill. It takes 217 votes, instead of 218 votes, to approve the bill because of two vacancies in the House. But there are indications that the vote could slip until the third week of June to provide supporters more time to gather the votes together.

Sources are stating that they expect between 40-55 Republican no votes, although the no votes could be much higher. With 245 Republicans in the House, the 40 to 55 range would require between 17-22 Democrats voting “yes” in order to get to the required 217 votes. Democratic Congressmen can provide more than 20 votes, possibly 25 or 27, given that 17 members of the caucus have already endorsed the TPA bill.

On May 27th, Washington State Democratic Congressman, Rick Larsen, came out in favor of TPA. In the announcement, Congressman Larsen stated:

“TPA is a cornerstone of the President’s trade agenda. It is the vehicle for Congress to set standards and goals for new trade agreements the President is seeking to finalize. I believe presidents should have the authority to negotiate trade agreements based on Congressional direction. The specifics of that direction are important, and they are laid out in the 2015 TPA bill.

“I have decided to support the 2015 TPA bill because trade matters for the Second Congressional District and for Washington State. Trade matters for manufacturers of all sizes in the Second Congressional District. Opening up new markets for our businesses to sell their goods and services is a key way to help them grow their operations and create jobs here at home. We have manufacturers of all sizes in my district that trade with other countries, supporting more than 68,320 jobs. That is a sizeable piece of our economy that we simply cannot ignore. Trade matters for these factories and workers.”

“Trade matters for a variety of industries in Washington State, from agriculture to electronics to tourism. In Washington State, about 40 percent of all jobs are tied to trade in some way, and the pay for these jobs is nearly 20 percent higher than the average annual wage. Our state exported more than $90 billion in goods and services in 2014, making us the largest exporting state per capita in the country.

“I agree with a comment Secretary John Kerry made during his recent visit to the Boeing factory in Renton. He said our state is a trade leader because we discovered a long time ago that it is in our best interest to do business with the world. Helping our state’s businesses sell their products in new markets worldwide means more growth, jobs and opportunity in the Pacific Northwest. . . .

A key factor in the Vote will be the positions of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

Before bringing the Bill to a vote, however, TPA supporters in the House will want to make sure that they have a comfortable margin of votes beyond the required 217. Ways & Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has already agreed, that the House will consider TPA and TAA renewal on the same day as a customs and enforcement bill and legislation to renew several trade preference programs.

On May 27th, it was reported that Chairman Paul Ryan in a May 22nd letter to Senators Hatch and Wyden stated that he intended to seek to include in the House version of a customs and enforcement bill four amendments that failed to make it into the fast-track bill in the Senate. His commitment is part of an agreement with Hatch and Wyden to use the customs bill conference as a forum to resolve outstanding issues related to fast track and potentially other trade legislation, without requiring a conference on the fast-track bill itself.

The first change Ryan agreed to make is to include in the House customs bill the trade remedy law changes championed by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), which are pending in the House as H.R. 2523. Ryan, however, did not address how he wants to reconcile another key difference in the two customs bills, which is their provisions aimed at fighting the evasion of antidumping and countervailing duties. In addition to Trade Remedy, Ryan indicated interest in including in the House customs bill amendments on human trafficking, immigration and US seafood exports.

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER MAY 27, 2015

Dear Friends,

Been very busy over the last two months on a number of different cases, but now I can now get back to the blog.

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY (“TPA”) BILL PASSES THE SENATE AS FIGHT ON CAPITOL HILL CONTINUES

The major trade issue is Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and the Trans Pacific Partnership.

On May 22, 2015, after another close cloture vote, the TPA bill passed the Senate by a majority vote of 62 to 37 votes. The Short Title of the TPA Bill is the “Trade Act of 2015” and the long title is the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015”.

The action next switches to the House of Representatives, which will take up Trade Promotion Authority in June. The fight in the House will be even more difficult than the Senate because reportedly there is more opposition to TPA, but there are no requirements for a super majority in the House.

To see the debate on the Senate Floor, see http://www.c-span.org/video/?326202-2/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority.  Be prepared to move the video bar at the bottom of the screen to cycle through the trade arguments.

On May 21st in a close vote, 62-38 vote, with 60 votes required, the Senate agreed to cloture, to end debate, and to go to a final vote on the TPA bill. Two of the most important votes came from Democratic Senators Patti Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington, who only agreed to vote to move the TPA bill forward after the Republicans agreed to a vote in June on the Ex-Im Bank, which is very important for the Boeing Company in Washington. Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, where Boeing is located, joined the Murray/Cantwell fight on the Senate Floor.

Attached is the revised TPA Bill with the Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) bill joined with it. TPA AS AMENDED MAY 22ND This combined bill happened as a result of a compromise after the Senate Democrats blocked the TPA bill on May 12th.

On May 22nd, another amendment on Currency Manipulation from Senators Wyden and Hatch was passed as a compromise. The attached Amendment Hatch-Wyden HANDWRITTEN AMENDMENT 1411 states as follows:

Foreign Currency Manipulation—The principal negotiating objective of the United States with respect to unfair currency practices is seek to establish accountability through enforceable rules, transparency, reporting, monitoring, cooperative mechanisms, or other means to address exchange rate manipulation involving protracted large scale intervention in one direction in the exchange markets and a persistently undervalued foreign exchange rate to gain an unfair competitive advantage in trade over other parties to a trade agreement consistent with existing obligations of the United States as a member of the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.

On May 22, 2015, Senator Hatch made a very strong argument against the Currency Amendment proposed by Senators Stabenow and Portman, which requires enforceable provisions, stating that the President will veto the TPA bill and if passed could lead to international sanctions against the United States by international tribunals. See Testimony of Senators Wyden and Hatch at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326202-1/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority&live. See part of the speech below.

One of the key arguments for TPA was made by Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida on the Senate Floor on May 22nd when he stated that a major reason for his vote was when the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the Department of Defense come to Congress and unanimously told the Armed Forces Committee that the TPA and TPP are one of the most important issues for National Security in that area of the World. As Senator Nelson stated, “I believe that this Bill will pass.”

On May 12th, after the Democrats in the Senate blocked the TPA bill from coming to the floor by a vote of 52 to 45, the TAA bill was put together with the TPA bill and started to move again. The Grand Bargain between the Democrats and Republicans is that TAA will be joined to the TPA bill. Republican Senator Hatch on the floor stated several times that although he was personally opposed to TAA, he realized that his Democratic colleagues needed TAA to vote for TPA.

Four bills have been crafted to move together. They are the TPA bill, Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) for workers and companies, Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill, formerly The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (“TFTEA”), and the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 (“TPEA”). The TFTEA Bill passed the Senate on May 11, 2015 and the TPTEA Bill passed on May 14, 2015, but both bills now go to the House where there survival is questionable.  Copies of those bills and Legislative History are attached.  TRADE PREFERENCES ACT TPA LEGISLATIVE HISTORY SENATE FINANCE TPA AS AMENDED MAY 22ND TAA LEGISLATIVE HISTORY LEGISLATIVE HISTORY TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL Hatch-Wyden HANDWRITTEN AMENDMENT 1411 CUSTOMS AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT BILL Preferences.Bill.fin

The key problem is the Customs TFTEA 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 can do to one country, the other country can do back. President Obama has stated that if enforcement provisions regarding currency manipulation are tied to the TPA bill, he will veto the bill.

Also see speech by Senator Hatch at minute 40 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. See also Senator Hatch speech on the floor below.

Negotiations continued. See Paul Ryan’s response that the entire world is watching, including China http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000379026

The key point is not the Democrats opposed to TPA, but the pro-trade Democrats. After the TPA bill was blocked in the Senate on May 12th, 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 Senate Finance Committee and co-author of fast-track legislation.

That is an additional 9 votes, along with the two missing Republican votes. When the additional 11 votes are added, the TPA overcame the filibuster and passed the Senate. Now the TPA battle continues in the House.

This blog post will discuss brief various trade issues, including antidumping and customs, then discuss Trade Policy, including the TPA bill in detail, followed by sections on IP, Antitrust and Securities.

TRADE

STEEL TRADE CASES ARE COMING

A number of companies have contacted me 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 of cold rolled steel and galvanized steel from China and other countries and possibly hot rolled steel from other countries because Chinese hot rolled steel is already covered by antidumping and countervailing duty orders.

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, which passed the Senate. That Bill is the one that includes the Currency Manipulation provision.

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.

When I was at the ITC in the 1980s, I was the Commission staff lawyer on the first Oil Country Tubular Goods (“OCTG”) case filed against Korea in 1984. When Commerce uses actual prices and costs against countries like Korea in antidumping cases, the companies can run computer programs and make sure that they are not dumping. Since the Korean companies know they will be targeted, they are certainly running computer programs to eliminate all dumping.

With 40 years of protection from steel imports, the question should be asked is Bethlehem Steel alive today? Did the Steel Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Cases actually protect the steel industry and allow them to grow and expand or simply delay their decline?

As advocated several times in prior posts on this blog, the only way to save companies injured by imports, such as the steel companies, is a robust trade adjustment assistance program to help the companies adjust to import competition. Antidumping and countervailing duty cases do not work. They only delay the decline because a US industry cannot put up walls to unstoppable waves of imports. Instead the US industry has to adjust and learn how to compete effectively in the US market against imports, which are often fairly traded.

COMMERCE RAISES BARRIERS TO CHINESE IMPORTS BY MAKING IT MORE DIFFICULT TO GET SEPARATE RATES IN ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST CHINA

As stated in prior newsletters, as a result of an appeal in the Diamond Sawblades case, Commerce has raised the bar for Chinese companies to obtain their own antidumping rates by proving that they are independent of government control. The issue is especially significant for Chinese companies, which are owned in whole or in part, by the PRC State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC).

In the Diamond Sawblades redetermination, Commerce determined that it had “further scrutinized the record” and concluded that, because the 100 percent SASAC owned majority shareholder was the only shareholder with the right to nominate all board members, including board members active in the selection of respondent’s managers, the company was not independent from the Chinese government.

Even though there was no evidence that export prices had been affected, in an investigation involving carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod from the PRC, Commerce stated that, in light of the Diamond Sawblades case, it has “concluded that where a government entity holds a majority ownership share, either directly or indirectly, in the respondent exporter, the majority ownership holding in and of itself means that the government exercises or has the potential to exercise control over the exporter’s operations generally. … Consistent with normal business practices, we would expect any majority shareholder, including a government, to have the ability to control and an interest in controlling, the operations of the company, including the selection of management and the profitability of the company.”

Meanwhile, until recently Chinese respondent companies were given 60 days from the date of Commerce initiation of an investigation or review to submit a separate rate application (“SRA”) to show that it is independent and separate from the Chinese government. Commerce has now reduced the time period to submit the SRA to 30 days and eliminated the option for early filing that previously provided NME companies with the opportunity to clarify an application Commerce deems insufficient.

COURT OF APPEALS RULES AGAINST CHINA IN GPX CASE

On March 16, 2015, in the attached GPX International Tire Corp. and Hebei Starbright Tire Co. vs. United States, GPX CAFC DECISION the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) turned away the second constitutional challenge to the 2012 amendment to the Countervailing Duty law affirming the U.S. Department of Commerce’s ability to apply countervailing duties on imports from nonmarket economies like China. The CAFC held that the Amendment did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Due Process Clause even though it applied the duties retroactively.

PROPOSED CHANGES TO ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW IN CUSTOMS TRADE ENFORCEMENT BILL

Accompanying the Trade Promotion Authority Bill is the attached Customs Enforcement Bill, the ‘‘Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015,” and its legislative history which includes minor changes to the antidumping and countervailing law and significant changes to the US Customs law to stop evasion of antidumping and countervailing duty law. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL CUSTOMS AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT BILL

Although the bill has passed the Senate, there is a substantial question whether the House of Representatives will agree. One House aide expressed confidence that the provision would eventually become law. But Congressional and business sources have pointed out the possibility that the customs bill was merely a tool that Senate Finance leaders used to funnel amendments away from Trade Promotion Authority and other bills, and that it will never become law.

This is in part because there are key differences between the House and Senate bills, meaning the Senate and House will go to conference to negotiate a comprimise bill. Among these differences in the Customs/Trade bills are the ways the two bills address the evasion of antidumping and countervailing duties, and the inclusion in the Senate bill of changes to trade remedy law that make it easier for petitioners to secure the affirmative determination necessary for duties to be imposed. On April 29th, Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told reporters that he hoped the customs bill would become law, but did not provide strong assurances.

But on May 20, 2015, Senator Ron Wyden stated on the floor of the Senate that Chairman Paul Ryan has already agreed that there will be a conference committee on the Customs Enforcement Bill so a bill will pass both the Senate and the House, but what is that final bill after conference committee is still an open issue.

One key provision in the Customs and Trade Enforcement bill, however, would make currency manipulation a countervailable subsidy. Chairman Hatch has already stated on the Senate Floor if that provision is in the TPA bill it would not pass the House and would be vetoed by President Obama. If it passes the Senate, that provision will be thrown out by the House at the Conference Committee so the situation regarding this Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill is still very fluid and not settled yet in the Congress.

AMERICAN LAWYER ARTICLE ABOUT US TRADE ACTIONS AGAINST CHINA

On March 12, 2015, the American Lawyer published the attached article on The U.S. Offensive in the China Trade War, which quotes me extensively.  BETTER COPY The U.S. Offensive in the China Trade War _ The American Lawyer

STAINLESS STEEL SINKS

On April 30, 2015, the Commerce Department published the attached preliminary determination in the Stainless Steel Sinks case with dumping margins ranging from 0.81 to 5.55 %. DOC STEEL SINKS PRELIM Specifically the rates ranged from 0.81% for Guangdong Dongyuan Kitchenware Industrial Co., Ltd. to 5.55% for Guangdong Yingao Kitchen Utensils Co. with separate rates companies obtaining 2.14%.

The final determination will be in October. Attached is the Federal Register notice initiating the second antidumping and countervailing duty review investigations in the Stainless Steel Sinks case covering Chinese sinks imported during the antidumping review period April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015 and 2014, the countervailing duty review period. MAY INITIATIONS COMMERCE REVIEWS

BOLTLESS STEEL SHELVING

On March 25, 2015, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-prc-boltless-steel-shelving-ad-prelim-032515 the Commerce Department announced an affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping (AD) case on Boltless Steel Shelving Units from China. Commerce found preliminary antidumping rates ranging from 22.64 percent to 112.68 percent.

ITC GOES NEGATIVE NO INJURY IN 53 FOOT DRY CONTAINERS ANTIDUMPING CASE AGAINST CHINA

On May 19, 2015, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) determined that the establishment of a U.S. industry is not materially retarded by reason of imports of 53-foot domestic dry containers from China that Commerce determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value. As a result of the ITC negative determinations no antidumping or countervailing duty orders will be issued on imports of these products from China.

COURT OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE RULES FOR CHINA IN TAISHAN KAM KIU AND SINCE HARDWARE CASES

In the attached two determinations, Since Hardware v. United States and Taishan Kam Kiu v. United States, SINCE HARDWARE TAISHAN CITY KAM KIU the Court of International Trade remanded the Ironing Tables and Aluminum Extrusions antidumping and countervailing duty determinations back to Commerce.

SOLAR PRODUCTS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY ORDERS

On February 18, 2015, the attached final antidumping and countervailing duty orders in the Solar Products cases from China and Taiwan were issued. SOLAR PRODUCTS TAIWAN AD ORDER AD CVD ORDERS SOLAR PRODUCTS CHINA

MAY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On May 1, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of May. MAY REVIEWS The specific antidumping cases against China are: Aluminum Extrusions, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, Citric Acid and Citrate Salt, Iron Construction Castings, Oil Country Tubular Goods, Pure Magnesium, and Stilbenic Optical Brightening Agents. The specific countervailing duty cases are: Aluminum Extrusions, Citric Acid and Citrate Salt, and Wind Towers.

For those US import companies that imported Aluminum Extrusions, Circular Steel Line Pipe, Citric Acid, Iron Construction Castings, Oil Country Tubular Goods, and Pure Magnesium and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period May 1, 2014-April 30, 2015 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

Attached is the May 26th Federal Register notice initiating antidumping and countervailing duty review investigations against steel sinks, activated carbon, magnesium metal and steel threaded rod for imports during the period April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015.  MAY INITIATIONS COMMERCE REVIEWS

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

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

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

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

See the Import Alliance website at http://www.importallianceforamerica.com.

We will be targeting two major issues—working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement for the benefit of importers and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The United States is the only country that has retroactive liability for its importers in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

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

TRADE POLITICS AND TRADE AGREEMENTS

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

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY (“TPA”) BATTLE IN THE SENATE

As stated above, with the passage of the TPA Bill at 9PM at night on May 22nd, the TPA battle moves to the House of Representatives. This section of the newsletter will provide more background on the TPA bill and the pressure on both the Senate and the House as the bill moves through Congress.

During the Senate debate, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah spoke against the enforcement provisions of the proposed currency manipulation amendment to the TPA bill because it will “kill” TPA. Instead, the Senate TPA bill would make currency manipulation a major negotiating objective.

But Democrats want more. They want enforcement actions against currency manipulation. But Senator Hatch is concerned that such a provision could be used against the United States.

Other Senators are worried about possible changes to US immigration laws, environmental and labor issues. USTR has been told in no uncertain terms that touching immigration is a third rail for trade policy, and USTR has stated during Hearings on Capitol Hill that there is nothing that would “change laws and regulations with respect to immigration,”

Although TPA passed the Senate, the vote in the U.S. House of Representatives is far more uncertain. Paul Ryan, however, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, has pledged to take the TPA bill across the Finish Line so his credibility is riding on the bill.  That means the TPA bill should pass in the House, probably in June.

To summarize the situation, 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 could not 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 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. The TPA Bill has now passed the Senate. The Title of the Bill is the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, which is posted above. The short tile of the bill is the Trade Act of 2015. The bill has been revised on the Senate Floor to add Trade Adjustment Assistance and a currency amendment, which are set forth above.

There are changes in the bill as compared to original 2014 Bill to increase transparency, but the major objective of the two bills is the same. 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.

One should understand that 90% of the negotiations of these Agreements are not conducted by political appointees of President Obama. Other than United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, who is respected by both Democrats and Republicans, most of the negotiators have been at the Office of USTR for years, if not decades, and are truly professional trade negotiators. So TPA does not truly cede power to President Obama. In fact, there will be substantial oversight of the trade negotiations by Congress.

Since my last blog post in mid-February, many groups, including 35 religious groups, labor unions, environmental and consumer advocacy organizations, complained that the Trade Negotiations are too secret and not subject to public scrutiny. At the same time, President Obama and the Administration have put on a full court press to pass the TPA.  As early as February 23, 2015, President Barack Obama used his national weekend address to repeat his call on Congress to give him Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), arguing that “95 percent of the world’s potential customers” live outside the U.S.:

“Many of them live in the Asia-Pacific — the world’s fastest-growing region. And as we speak, China is trying to write the rules for trade in the 21st century. That would put our workers and our businesses at a massive disadvantage. We can’t let that happen. We should write those rules. That’s why Congress should act on something called ‘trade promotion authority.”

“This is bipartisan legislation that would protect American workers, and promote American businesses, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but are fair. It would level the playing field for American workers. It would hold all countries to the same high labor and environmental standards to which we hold ourselves.”

On March 11, 2015, the AFL-CIO upped the cost to Democrats of supporting the TPA legislation and the TPP deal, stating that it would freeze all political action committee donations to federal candidates until further notice. While Paul Ryan and President Obama were talking up TPA, on March 18, 2015 AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka vowed to kill the “rotten”.   As Trumka stated:

“Every single thing in our trade deals should be openly discussed and subject to public oversight and the full legislative process. There should be no question about that. Fast track is wrong and undemocratic, it’s a rotten process, and the American labor movement intends to kill it.”

In response to the Congressional criticism on transparency, on March 19, 2015 the Obama Administration announced new measures to provide lawmakers and their staff members the opportunity to review the TPP negotiating text. USTR set forth several changes to the USTR’s policies, the most important being placing the TPP text in the Capitol for members to view at their leisure without an administration official in attendance. Congressional members are also allowed to review the text with a personal staff member with security clearance.

Complaints, however, about access to the details of trade negotiating texts grew louder because the massive TPP deal would encompass 40 percent of global commerce. On March 26, 2015, it was reported that the protracted standoff between Wyden and Hatch centered around this very issue, transparency and oversight, with Wyden pushing for language that would make it easier for Congress to essentially “turn off” fast track with a resolution of disapproval if the negotiating standards are not met.

On March 25th, Wikileaks released a draft treaty of the TPP from the Investment Group, which led to a strong debate on Investor Arbitration Panels. This led to Senator Warren introducing an amendment to do away with investment panels, which was defeated on May 22nd, prior to the vote on the TPA. Public Citizen argued that the Investor State Dispute Settlement (“ISDS”) system provides foreign investors with more rights than those given to domestic firms and that the mechanism stands as an affront to a government’s right to regulate in the public’s interest.

On the other side, the National Association of Manufacturers praised the text and stated that the U.S. approach to investment talks has been a matter of public record for three years. As the NAM Vice President for International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey stated:

“The investment provisions of our trade agreements, which are backed up by the neutral and well respected ISDS dispute settlement mechanism, are an important tool particularly for small and medium-size businesses that have been the most prevalent users of the ISDS dispute settlement mechanism.”

On March 26, 2016, Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, called for a “full-court press” on TPA, TPP, TTIP because expanding and deepening trade relationships provides stronger national security, stating:

“We also need Congress’ support for some of the most important investments we can make in our future prosperity—new trade agreements, including Trade Promotion Authority for the President. We must be allowed to clinch new and historic trade agreements spanning from Europe to Asia.

I offer this as a Secretary of Defense, convinced that a full-court press to strengthen our nation’s trade relationships will reinforce our nation’s security—while neglecting them could undercut it.

The arithmetic is straightforward.

We know that 95% of the world’s customers live beyond our borders, and the spending power of middle-class consumers in today’s emerging markets is expected to increase by 20 trillion dollars over the next decade. . . . And this trend will continue as Asia’s 570 million-strong middle class grows to about 2.7 billion consumers over the next 15 years. . . .

The bottom line is that, as global trade intensifies, we need to be both at the helm, and in the thick of it. Three years ago, trade accounted for about a third of global GDP. In a decade, it could approach half of global GDP. America’s economy, and our security that depends on it, cannot afford to be left behind. . . .

Shared growth generates magnetism: attracting new partners from around the region. While far from a guarantee, strong trade patterns also help build trust and raise the cost of conflict, while assuring our allies and partners of our long-term commitment to a shared and interdependent future…something that Secretary and General Marshall clearly understood.”

On March 26, 2015, former Republican and Democratic Commerce Secretaries, including Pete Peterson, Frederick Dent, Barbara Franklin, Mickey Kantor, William Daley, Norman Mineta, Donald Evans, Carlos Gutierrez, Gary Locke and John Bryson, urged Congress to pass the TPA Bill, but also argued that anti-currency manipulation should not be tied to trade deals.

On March 31, 2015, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Tuesday mounted a strong defense of the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, blasting the system’s critics as “doomsayers” attempting to thwart the U.S. trade agenda with hyperbolic arguments, stating:

“The way [the critics] tell it, ISDS panels are corporate shills that gut public-safety regulations and undermine U.S. sovereignty. The truth is, there are few better tools for holding other countries accountable to the agreements they make — especially when they harm American job creators.”

Calling ISDS “one of the more mundane procedures of trade law,” Ryan stated that there is some version of the mechanism on the books in more than 3,000 trade and investment agreements around the globe, 90 percent of which have never even seen an investor dispute arise. Ryan also stated an ISDS panel does not have the power to change a country’s laws and can only fault the application of a given law.

On April 6, 2015, Defense Secretary Carter warned that “time’s running out” for the TPP deal. Failing to pass the proposed trade deal would cause the U.S. to “take ourselves out of the game”:

You may not expect to hear this from a Secretary of Defense, but in terms of our rebalance in the broadest sense, passing TPP is as important to me as another aircraft carrier. It would deepen our alliances and partnerships abroad and underscore our lasting commitment to the Asia-Pacific. And it would help us promote a global order that reflects both our interests and our values.”

On April 6, 2015, a bipartisan coalition of 76 U.S. Congress members in a letter to Representative Michael Froman and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urged the Obama administration to ensure that the final deal opens new doors for the dairy industry, particularly in Canada and Japan.

On April 16, 2015, Senators Hatch and Wyden introduced the final bipartisan TPA Bill, the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015”.

The 2015 TPA bill creates a new “transparency officer” in the USTR and establishes House and Senate advisory groups to oversee ongoing negotiations. Under the 2015 TPA bill, the Administration would also be required to make finalized trade deals available to the public for 60 days before Presidential signature and up to four months before a Congressional vote. If the deal does not meet Congressional objectives, a 60-vote majority in the Senate would strip the deal of fast-track protection and allow amendments.

But critics continued to attack the bill with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stating:

“We can’t afford another bad deal that lowers wages and outsources jobs,” That’s why Congress must reject Fast Track and maintain its constitutional authority and leverage to improve the TPP and other trade deals.”

On April 16th, USTR Froman made clear that the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) did not contain any changes to the US immigration system, telling lawmakers that no such modifications would be made, even though other nations involved in the negotiations are making temporary entry deals.

Although critics attacked the new TPA bill, American Agriculture Associations praised the new bill with one magazine reporting:

“Pork, corn, dairy, wheatyou name itthe American agriculture industry is standing firmly behind a new bipartisan trade promotion authority bill introduced last week.”

The Agriculture Associations supporting the bill include the American Farm Bureau, The National Association of Wheat Growers, The National Chicken Council, The National Pork Producers Council, The American Feed Industry Association, The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, The National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, The Corn Refiners Association, the Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, and the USA Rice Federation.

On April 20, 2015, House Ways and Means released an e-mail stating:

TPA: Good for the Farm and Ranch

Support for TPA is strong among the American agriculture industry. Industry after industry has talked about how breaking down trade barriers is critical to selling more U.S. grown and raised food abroad. But the industry also supports TPA because of the important negotiating objectives that it lays out. These guidelines help ensure that the administration is making progress on issues important to American agriculture, like directing it to:

Obtain Enforceable SPS-Plus Rules: Directs the Administration to obtain robust and enforceable rules on sanitary and phytosanitary measures and require the use of science based standards.

End Improper Use of Geographical Indications: Seeks elimination of the improper use of GIs, including registration of generic terms, which undermine market access for U.S. products.

Maintain Domestic Protections: Ensures that countries may protect human, animal, or plant life or health, consistent with international obligations.

Address Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers: Instructs USTR to reduce or eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers, as well as subsidies that decrease market opportunities for U.S. exports.

Preserve Family Farm Supports: Includes provisions seeking preservation of family farms and rural communities.

Facilitate Import Relief: Ensures that import relief mechanisms for perishable and cyclical products are accessible and timely.

Assess Compliance with Existing Obligations: Requires USTR to evaluate whether countries have made meaningful agriculture commitments in the WTO and whether they are living up to their commitments in the WTO and under other trade agreements.

Ensure Special Consultations on Import-Sensitive Products: Takes into account the effect of trade agreements and negotiations on import-sensitive products, and requires additional Congressional consultations on such products.

Make Tariff-Rate Quota (TRQ) Administration Transparent: Ensures transparency in the administration of TRQ programs.

On April 21, 2015, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senate Finance Chairman, called arguments by Democratic Senators that Republicans were trying to ram the Bill through the Committee “nonsense”:

“This is well-covered territory for this committee. So, while I understand and respect that there are sincerely held views on this topic, some of which are different than mine, any arguments that we’ve been less than forthcoming and transparent with this TPA legislation are, not to put too fine a point on it, nonsense.”

Hatch further stated that the Finance Committee convened nine total trade hearings during the last session of Congress and has already held three such hearings in the 2015 session. Hatch also stated that the new TPA bill closely mirrors the bipartisan TPA legislation introduced in 2014 stating:

“True enough, in our discussions, Sen. Wyden, Chairman Ryan and I made some improvements to that original bill. But, the fundamentals remain the same, and we’ve been very transparent as to what the changes have been.”

On April 21, 2015 the American Textile Industry endorsed the TPA. The National Council of Textile Organizations announced, “We are pleased to lend our support to this renewal of Trade Promotion Authority.” The Council specifically stated that the US government supports a balanced outcome, including the yarn-forward rule of origin, which requires that the yarn production and all operations forward occur in either the United States or the territory of our trading partner.

On April 22, 2015, the TPA bill cleared the Senate Finance Committee and proceeded to a fight on Senate floor. Senator Ron Wyden, ranking Democratic Member, showing a profile in courage, led the negotiations with Paul Ryan in the House, and stated after the passage of the TPA Bill in the Committee:

“The U.S. is going to aim higher in trade deals, our enforcement will be much tougher, and the process of negotiating and voting on agreements will be more transparent and more democratic. This legislation will safeguard American sovereignty and promote American values. Congress will be sending U.S. trade policy in a more progressive direction than it ever has before.”

On April 23, 2015, President Obama stated that TPP will correct the shortcomings of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) because TPP would put in place tough labor and environmental standards that NAFTA did not. TPP would also contain provisions fighting illegal wildlife trafficking and logging, and protecting oceans and against overfishing. Additionally, it would ensure an open Internet, protect consumers from fraud and deception, require anti-corruption and transparency measures and simplify export rules for small businesses. As President Obama stated,

“Trade has always been tough, and it’s always been tough especially in the Democratic Party. A lot of people are skeptical of trade deals, and a lot of times it’s for good reason. For decades now, technology made good jobs obsolete, global competition meant jobs were being shipped overseas, past trade deals didn’t always live up to the hype.

“[But] we’re not going to stop a global economy at our shores. That’s the wrong lesson to draw. We can’t go back to the past.”

Meanwhile, on April 23, 2015, the TPA bill cleared the House Ways and Means Committee with Chairman Paul Ryan stating:

“We have a unique opportunity to write the rules of these trade deals to tear down those barriers and open markets for American products. TPA will increase our bargaining power so we get the most effective trade deals possible — so we tear down more trade barriers and create more opportunity right here in America.”

In the Ways and Means Committee, Democrats were unable to amend the TPA’s language on foreign currency manipulation to enact enforceable rules that would punish trading partners for manipulating their currency to gain a competitive advantage.

On April 27, 2015, the House Ways and Means Committee announced that the High Tech Industry Backs TPA:

“There’s no doubt about it: The tech industry is going big for the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act. . . .These are America’s moviemakers, software developers, and computer manufacturers—the people who drive American innovation. They understand that promoting American trade requires protecting American intellectual property. That’s the only way to keep our competitive edge in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what TPA will do.

TPA lays out almost 150 negotiating objectives for the administration to pursue in trade deals. Among them is to “ensure that governments refrain from implementing trade-related measures that impede digital trade in goods and services, restrict cross-border data flows, or require local storage or processing of data.” . . . .

Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith echoed this sentiment:

“Passage of renewed TPA, with its updated objectives for digital trade, is critical for America to be able to pursue its interests. And passage is important for Microsoft and our network of more than 400,000 partners, the majority of which are small businesses, to compete in the global economy.”

On April 27, 2015, House Ways and Means announced that more Conservative organizations are speaking out in favor of TPA, stating in part:

“Just last week, Americans for Tax Reform and 19 other conservative groups signed a letter in support of TPA. . . . The American Conservative Union, Citizens for Limited Taxation, Americans for Job Security, the National Taxpayers Union, the Competitive Enterprise Institute—all voiced their support for expanding American trade.

The editors at Investor’s Business Daily echo this argument:

[TPP] also would reinforce the American presence on the Pacific Rim through economic strengthening, offsetting at least to some extent President Obama’s deep naval defense cuts.

But the main thing is, for every party involved, it would contribute to decades of prosperity and economic growth, as study after study on the impact of free trade agreements has found.”

On April 27, 2015, from a Ways and Means Press Release, Paul Ryan in a radio address, on the show Morning in America, made the case for TPA, stating:

“The reason we need trade agreements with other countries is twofold.

Ninety six percent of the world’s consumers live in other countries; they don’t live in our country. And if we want to have a mature economy where we have more jobs, higher-paying jobs, we have to make and grow more things in America and sell them overseas so we can keep full employment—you know, more people working. So we have to open [markets] to our products. That’s point number one.

“Point number two is all these other countries are going around getting trade agreements for their countries that are better, that give them more access to these foreign markets. And, as a result, Americans don’t get access to those markets, which means we face higher barriers and we can’t sell our products to other markets. China is a perfect example. They’re running around the world right now trying to get better trade agreements to meet China’s needs, to run by China’s rules. And so, right now what’s happening in this global economy is the rules of the global economy are being written, and the question for us is: ‘Who writes those rules?’ Is it China writing those rules, for China’s benefit? Or are we going to write the rules, for our benefit?”

On holding the administration accountable:

“Trade promotion authority is done in a way this time very differently than others because of our mistrust of the executive. So, we tell the executive—meaning, in this case, Obama—and the next president: Here’s what you need to put in a trade agreement, here’s how you go about getting it. You have to be transparent. Members of Congress have to see it. The public has to see these agreements before they’re signed to. And Congress reserves the power to veto it. Congress gets the final say. Congress has to approve it. And if the president doesn’t put together the kind of trade agreement, the process we spell out, then we can say: ‘You didn’t do it the right way.’ And we can revoke trade promotion authority and that trade agreement. So, we’re putting sort of a belts-and suspenders approach to making Congress, the legislative branch, in charge of this so that the executive cannot go beyond his reach.”

On leveling the playing field for American workers and job creators:

“[W]e think we have done this in the right way, and the president has to go out and get the right kind of an agreement. We want to open our dairy markets. We want to open our agriculture markets, our manufacturing. Here’s the deal . … We already give these countries—in this particular case I’m talking about Asia, non-China Asian countries—we already give them pretty good access to our country. Just walk into Wal-Mart or Farm & Fleet or wherever you go, and you’ll see a bunch of goods made in Asian countries. The problem is they don’t give us the same kind of access to their markets. So what we’re trying to get here is the same kind of access to their markets that they have to ours and to give us zero tariffs.”

In response to the TPA movement, however, on April 28th, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka repeated labor’s stance against TPA, TPP and all free trade agreements:

“All across the country, workers are leading a fierce and broad social movement to defeat fast track. We are rebelling against corporate-written free trade agreements — and we are succeeding.”

The labor movement opposes fast-track. We expect those who seek to lead our nation forward to oppose fast-track. There is no middle ground … [and] in the 2016 campaign, there will be no place to hide for those who aspire to lead America.”

On April 30th Paul Ryan issued another press release from the House Ways and Means Committee stating that the way to hold President Obama accountable is TPA:

The bottom line is, TPA will make the trade negotiations much more transparent and hold the president accountable. Here are the top eight ways TPA will empower Congress:

  • Read the negotiating text

Right now, nothing requires the administration to allow a member of Congress to read the negotiating text of an agreement. But under TPA, every member will be able to read the text of the agreement all throughout the talks.

  1. Receive up-to-date briefings

Sometimes, reading the text isn’t enough. A member of Congress wants to know where the talks are headed. TPA will require the U.S. trade representative’s (USTR) office to brief any member who asks on the status of the negotiations.

  1. Attend negotiating rounds

If that’s not enough, how about actually attending the talks? Under TPA, any interested member will be able to become a “congressional adviser” to U.S. negotiators. All designated congressional advisers will be able to attend negotiating rounds.

  1. Consult with negotiators

TPA will also create House and Senate Advisory Groups on Negotiations to oversee the talks and receive regular briefings, according to a fixed timetable. Any member will be able to submit his or her views to the group.

  1. Provide public summaries

Right now, there’s little public information about how an agreement is shaping up. TPA will require USTR to post up-to-date summaries of each chapter of the agreement so people can see what’s up.

  1. Create a new transparency officer

TPA will create a chief transparency officer at USTR that will consult with Congress and the public on transparency policies.

  1. Make the text public

The ultimate judge is the American people, so they should be able to read the text themselves. For the first time ever, TPA will codify in law the public’s right to review the agreement before the President puts his signature on it. TPA will require the administration to publish the text of a completed trade agreement at least 60 days before agreeing to it. That’s even before Congress considers a vote.

  1. Tell Congress how he will implement the agreement

Finally, at least 30 days before Congress considers the final bill, the president must tell Congress how he intends to enact the agreement if Congress passes the implementing bill.

All of these tools will shed greater light on the negotiations. We need them to get the most effective trade deals possible. We need them to hold the president accountable. And that’s why we need to establish TPA.

Meanwhile on May 5, 2015, Senator Harry Reed announced that he would convince his fellow Democrats to hold off on a TPA vote until the passage of highway infrastructure funding and surveillance legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, rejected the Reid motion and pushed on.

On May 6, 2015, a Press Release from the House Ways and Means Committee stated:

Opponents of free trade agreements are raising a stink about transparency in trade negotiations. But the truth is, if they really want to shed light on the negotiations, the best thing they can do is pass trade promotion authority (TPA). . . .

Most notably, TPA requires the president to make public the text of a trade agreement at least 60 days before he finalizes it. And at least 30 days before he submits an implementing bill to Congress, the president must send the final legal text of the agreement and a description of how he proposes to implement the agreement. So long before the agreement comes up for a vote, the American people will have plenty of time to read and debate it. . . .

So, question: How can we make trade negotiations more transparent?

Answer: Pass TPA.

On May 8th, a bipartisan collection of former US defense secretaries, including Harold Brown, William S. Cohen, Robert M. Gates, Chuck Hagel, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Donald H. Rumsfeld along with well-known Generals, such as General David H. Petraeus and General Colin Powell, called for passage of TPA, stating:

We write to express our strongest possible support for the enactment of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which is critical to the successful conclusion of two vital trade agreements: the . . . TPP . . . and the TTIP.

While the economic benefits of both these agreements would be substantial, as former Secretaries of Defense and military leaders we believe there is an equally compelling strategic rationale for TPP and TTIP.

First and foremost, the conclusion of these agreements would be a powerful symbol of continued U.S. leadership and engagement globally. They would reinforce relationships with important allies and partners in critical regions of the world. By binding us closer together with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Australia, among others, TPP would strengthen existing and emerging security relationships in the Asia-Pacific, and reassure the region of America’s long-term staying power. In Europe, TTIP would reinvigorate the transatlantic partnership and send an equally strong signal about the commitment of the United States to our European allies.

The successful conclusion of TPP and TTIP would also draw in other nations and encourage them to undertake political and economic reforms. The result will be deeper regional economic integration, increased political cooperation, and ultimately greater stability in the two regions of the world that will have the greatest long-term impact on U.S. prosperity and security.

Indeed, TPP in particular will shape an economic dynamic over the next several decades that will link the United States with one of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic regions. If, however, we fail to move forward with TPP, Asian economies will almost certainly develop along a China-centric model. In fact, China is already pursuing an alternative regional free trade initiative. TPP, combined with T-TIP, would allow the United States and our closest allies to help shape the rules and standards for global trade.

The stakes are clear. There are tremendous strategic benefits to TPP and TTIP, and there would be harmful strategic consequences if we fail to secure these agreements. In both Asia-Pacific and the Atlantic, our allies and partners would question our commitments, doubt our resolve, and inevitably look to other partners. America’s prestige, influence, and leadership are on the line. With TPP originating in the Bush administration, these agreements are fundamentally bipartisan in nature and squarely in our national security interest. It is vitally important that we seize the new strategic opportunities these agreements offer our nation.

Despite criticism from fellow Democrats, on May 8, 2015, President Obama responded to the Democratic critics of the TPA bill at Nike’s headquarters in Oregon, home state for Senator Ron Wyden, stating:

“Vietnam would actually for the first time have to raise its labor standards. It would have to set a minimum wage. It would have to pass safe workplace laws to protect its workers. It would even have to protect workers’ freedom to form unions for the very first time. That would make a difference.”

On May 22, 2015, just prior to the passage of the TPA, on the Senate Floor Senator Orrin Hatch, in the attached speech, HATCH SPEECH ON CURRENCY MANIPULATION responded to the attempt to amend the TPA bill and add the Currency Amendment of Senators Portman and Stabenow.  Senator Hatch stated in part:

Mr. President, I want to take some time today to talk about proposals to include a currency manipulation negotiating objective in trade negotiations and the impact this issue is having on the debate over renewing Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA.

Currency manipulation has, for many, become the primary issue in the TPA debate. . . .However, I want to be as plain as I can be on this issue: While currency manipulation is an important issue, it is inappropriate and counterproductive to try to solve this problem solely through free trade agreements.

Nonetheless, I do not believe we should ignore currency manipulation, which is why, for the very first time, our TPA bill would elevate currency practices to a principal negotiation objective. This is important. It means that, if the administration fails to make progress in achieving this or any other objectives laid out in the bill, then the relevant trade agreement is subject to a procedural disapproval resolution . . . .

Of course, I understand that a number of my colleagues want to see more prescriptive language, which would limit the range of tools available and require that trade sanctions be used to keep monetary policies in line. . . .

But, first, I think we need to step back and take a look at the big picture. I think I can boil this very complicated issue down to a single point: The Portman-Stabenow Amendment will kill TPA.

I’m not just saying that, Mr. President. It is, at this point, a verifiable fact.

Yesterday, I received a letter from Treasury Secretary Lew outlining the Obama Administration’s opposition to this amendment. The letter addresses a number of issues, some which I’ll discuss later. But, most importantly, at the end of the letter, Secretary Lew stated very plainly that he would recommend that the President veto a TPA bill that included this amendment.

That’s pretty clear, Mr. President. It doesn’t leave much room for interpretation or speculation. No TPA bill that contains the language of the Portman-Stabenow Amendment stands a chance of becoming law. . . .

at this point, it is difficult – very difficult, in fact – for anyone in this chamber to claim that they support TPA and still vote in favor of the Portman-Stabenow Amendment. The two, as of yesterday, have officially become mutually exclusive. . . .

But, regardless of what you think of Secretary Lew’s letter, the Portman-Stabenow Amendment raises enough substantive policy concerns to warrant opposition on its own. Offhand, I can think of four separate consequences that we’d run into if the Senate were to adopt this amendment, and all of them would have a negative impact on U.S. economic interests.

First, the Portman-Stabenow negotiating objective would put the TPP, agreement at grave risk, meaning that our farmers, ranchers, and manufactures – not to mention the workers they employ – would not get access to these important foreign markets, resulting in fewer good, high-paying jobs for American workers.

We know this is the case, Mr. President. Virtually all of our major negotiating partners, most notably Japan, have already made clear that they will not agree to an enforceable provisions like the one required by the Portman-Stabenow Amendment. No country that I am aware of, including the United States, has ever shown the willingness to have their monetary policies subject to potential trade sanctions. Adopting this amendment will have, at best, an immediate chilling effect on the TPP negotiations, and, at worst, it will stop them in their tracks.

If you don’t believe me, then take a look at the letter we received from 26 leading food and agriculture organizations . . . urging Congress to reject the Portman-Stabenow amendment because it will, in their words, “most likely kill the TPP negotiations” Put simply, not only will this amendment kill TPA, it will very likely kill TPP as well.

Second, the Portman-Stabenow Amendment would put at risk the Federal Reserve’s independence in its ability to formulate and execute monetary policies designed to protect and stabilize the U.S. economy. While some in this chamber have made decrees that our domestic monetary policies do not constitute currency manipulation, we know that not all of our trading partners see it that way.

Requiring the inclusion of enforceable rules on currency manipulation and subsequent trade sanctions in our free trade agreements would provide other countries with a template for targeting U.S. monetary policies, subjecting our own agencies and policies to trade disputes and adjudication in international trade tribunals. We have already heard accusations in international commentaries by foreign finance ministers and central bankers that our own Fed has manipulated the value of the dollar to gain trade advantage.

If the Portman-Stabenow language is adopted into TPA and these rules become part of our trade agreements, how long do you think it will take for our trading partners to enter disputes and seek remedies against Federal Reserve quantitative easing policies? Not long, I’d imagine.

If the Portman-Stabenow objective becomes part of our trade agreements, we will undoubtedly see formal actions to impose sanctions on U.S. trade, under the guise that the Federal Reserve has manipulated our currency for trade advantage. We’ll also be hearing from other countries that Fed policy is causing instability in their financial markets and economies and, unless the Fed takes a different path, those countries could argue for relief or justify their own exchange-rate policies to gain some trade advantage for themselves.

While we may not agree with those allegations, the point is that, under the Portman-Stabenow formulation, judgments and verdicts on our policies will be taken out of our hands and, rather, can be rendered by international trade tribunals. . . .

Put simply, we cannot enforce rules against unfair exchange rate practices if we do not have information about them. Under the Portman-Stabenow Amendment, our trading partners are far more likely to engage in interventions in the shadows, hiding from detection out of fear that they could end up being subjected to trade sanctions.

Mr. President, for these reasons and others, the Portman-Stabenow Amendment is the wrong approach. Still, I do recognize that currency manipulation is a legitimate concern, and one that we need to address in a serious, thoughtful way.

Toward that end, Senator Wyden and I have filed an amendment that would expand on the currency negotiating objective that is already in the TPA bill to give our country more tools to address currency manipulation without the problems and risks that would come part and parcel with the Portman-Stabenow Amendment. . . .

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 has been cut to $12.5 million nationwide. The TAA Bill, which is attached to the TPA bill, in the Senate brings the TAA for Firms program back to $16 million. In the House, however, TAA has been cut to $12.5 million. So the question is what happens in the Conference Committee?

To summarize the history, 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.

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.

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

On May 21, 2015, the Commerce Department announced changes to the export rules to allow unlicensed delivery of Internet technology to Crimea region of Ukraine, saying the change will allow the Crimean people to reclaim the narrative of daily life from their Russian occupants. Under the attached final rule, FINAL COMMERCE RULE, individuals and companies may deliver source code and technology for “instant messaging, chat and email, social networking” and other programs to the region without first retaining a license from the federal government, according to Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

Commerce stated:

“Facilitating such Internet-based communication with the people located in the Crimea region of Ukraine is in the United States’ national security and foreign policy interests because it helps the people of the Crimea region of Ukraine communicate with the outside world.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The facilitation of any such transactions.

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

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

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

CUSTOMS

There are significant changes to Customs law in the Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill, formerly The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (“TFTEA”), which passed the Senate on May 11, 2015. Some of those provisions include tough enforcement provisions for evasion of US antidumping and countervailing duty laws. The question, however, is whether these changes will ever become law because the Bill has to pass the House and then go to Conference Committee.

PRODUCTS LIABILITY AND TRADE—HOW CHINESE ACTIONS CAN DESTROY LARGE US IMPORT COMPANIES/RETAILERS

Quality problems with Chinese imported products can hit US import companies and retailers like a trade tsunami, potentially driving large US companies out of business. Nothing illustrates this problem better than the major issues facing Lumber Liquidators because of imports of low quality, high formaldehyde laminate flooring from China.

Lumber Liquidators Inc. has been hit with close to a hundred class action complaints for products liability, consumer actions and even securities cases because of its sale of formaldehyde-laden Chinese flooring. The Actions accuse Lumber Liquidators of defrauding US consumers by falsely stating that its Laminate Flooring meet state emissions standards for the toxic Formaldehyde chemical.

The Complaints allege that Lumber Liquidators routinely sells Chinese-made flooring that greatly exceeds California and other State Air Resource Board standards for safe formaldehyde emissions. Yet Lumber Liquidators advertises on its website and elsewhere that it ensures all of its suppliers comply with California’s “advanced environmental requirements,” even for products sold in other states.

These Actions have originated from a 60 Minutes program, a well-known nationwide news investigative program, which revealed that independent testing of dozens of boxes of Chinese flooring from Lumber Liquidators stores in four states, revealed that all but one of the samples surpassed the California Formaldehyde limit and some went more than 13 times beyond the mark. This 60 Minutes New Report led to the filing of dozens of lawsuits against Lumber Liquidators under Products Liability law and consumer protection/false advertising law. Reportedly the number of complaints is now over one hundred.

Meanwhile, in Sept. 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement service carried out a search warrant at Lumber Liquidator’s corporate offices in Richmond, Virginia.  Multiple media reports have reported that the raid was linked to wood suspected of having originated from the Siberian tiger’s habitat.

On March 25, 2015, the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission (“CSPC”) announced that it was investigating the formaldehyde content of Chinese laminate tile flooring imported by Lumber Liquidators Inc. following the 60 Minutes investigation. In a 2013 report, the CPSC said formaldehyde has been linked to cancer in humans and lab animals but added that some people are more susceptible to the chemical effects than others. In response to the announcement, Lumber Liquidators reported that it was cooperating with other agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control, Federal Trade Commission and others.

On April 29th, Lumber Liquidators announced that in addition to the more than 100 class action cases filed against it, the US Justice Department (“DOJ”) will seek criminal charges against Lumber Liquidators for violating a conservation law in connection with imported wood flooring products. Specifically the DOJ stated that it is seeking criminal charges under the Lacey Act, a conservation law that prohibits import of products made from illegally logged woods.

With all the class action cases, earnings fell, which resulted in a Securities Class Action against Lumber Liquidators by stock investors alleging securities fraud, arguing that its record-high profits were based on creative “sourcing initiatives” when in fact they came from illegal wood harvesting and the sale of cheap formaldehyde laced floors. The company and its entire board of directors were named as defendants in the April 15 derivative complaint by Amalgamated Bank, the trustee for an index fund that has invested in Lumber Liquidators stock. See actual complaint below.

Specifically, the securities complaint alleged that Lumber Liquidators reported gross margins that were significantly higher than those of its major competitors, Home Depot and Lowe’s Companies Inc., because partnerships in China allowed it to cut out middlemen and work directly with suppliers. In reality, the company was buying engineered and laminate flooring manufactured in China that contained and emitted dangerously high and illegal levels of formaldehyde, as well as wood that had been illegally harvested from protected forests in the Russia, home to the critically endangered Siberian tiger and Far East leopard.

According to the suit, the directors breached their duties to shareholders by failing to prevent possible violations of environmental and consumer protection laws and by failing to disclose the illicit practices in public U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. As the Complaint states at paragraph 14:

“Moreover, as a result of defendants’ breaches of their fiduciary duties, the Company is now subject to several complex and expensive securities class action lawsuits alleging violations of the CARB Regulations; the Lacey Act; the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”); the Magnuson -Moss Warranty Act; breach of express and implied warranties; violation of Consumer Protection/Deceptive Practices acts; unjust enrichment; and lawsuits alleging violations of California’s Proposition 65. On March 10, 2015, The New York Times reported that the Attorney General of New York, Eric T. Schneiderman, had opened an inquiry into whether the Company violated safety standards and that officials in California are also likely to investigate.”

According to paragraph 17 of the complaint,

“Although Lumber Liquidators has been severely injured, defendants [Board Members] have not fared nearly so badly. During the relevant time period, defendants collectively pocketed millions in salaries, fees, stock options, illicit insider trading profits and other payments that were not justified in light of the violations of state and federal law at Lumber Liquidators that occurred on their watch. . . .”

According to the shareholders, the scandals have exposed Lumber Liquidators to “millions of dollars in potential liability” from various investigators and allegedly wiped out more than $1.2 billion in shareholder equity. As further stated in paragraph 116 of the complaint:

“Moreover, these actions have irreparably damaged Lumber Liquidators’ ‘environmentally conscientious’ corporate image. For at least the foreseeable future, Lumber Liquidators will suffer from what is known as the ‘liar’s discount,’ a term applied to the stocks of companies that have been implicated in improper behavior and have misled the investing public, such that Lumber Liquidators’ ability to raise equity capital or debt on favorable terms in the future is now impaired.”

The Complaint also details the allegations against Lumber Liquidator’s Chinese suppliers at paragraphs 82-96, stating in part in paragraph 98:

Moreover, defendants were fully aware of the risks of importing wood from China-a country often associated with the export of wood products with excess formaldehyde levels and illegally sourced timber. For example, in February 2012, the leading Chinese hardwood flooring company, Anxin Weiguang Flooring, was forced to pull its wood flooring products from shelves pending an investigation by Shanghai’s Bureau of Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine because of claims that the flooring emitted excessive levels of formaldehyde. One study, entitled “Formaldehyde in China: Production, consumption, exposure levels, and health effects,” 35 Environment Int’l (Nov. 2009), found that over the last 20 years, China’s formaldehyde industry has experienced unprecedented growth, and now produces and consumes one-third of the world’s formaldehyde. More than 65% of the Chinese formaldehyde output is used to produce resins which are mainly found in wood products. These are also the major source of indoor air pollution in China. The study documented numerous instances of hazardous occupational exposure to formaldehyde in Chinese wood workers.

On May 7, 2015, Lumber Liquidators announced that it was suspending sales of laminate flooring from China that prosecutors and consumers have alleged contain toxic levels of the building chemical formaldehyde, and will conduct a review of its suppliers who had labeled the product as meeting California’s limits for the carcinogenic chemical. Lumber Liquidators also hired former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Louis Freeh’s consulting firm to advise it on compliance issues.

On May 21, 2015, Lumber Liquidators announced that its CEO Robert M. Lynch has resigned “unexpectedly”.

The Lumber Liquidators problems illustrate the importance of quality control of Chinese products and how actions in China can seriously damage, if not destroy, their US customers, well-known US companies and brands.

SOME OF THE LUMBER LIQUIDATOR COMPLAINTS

False Advertising and Consumer Protection

On March 6, 2015 Sara Latta filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. LATTALL

On March 9, 2015, Jerry Green and Twala Scott filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. GREEN LL

On March 12, 2015, Mary Kleinsasser filed the attached class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. KLEINASSERLL

On March 12, 2015, Adam White and Julia White a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. WHITE LUMBER

On March 27, 2015, Thomas P. Phelan filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. PHELAN LUMBER LIQUIDATORS

On March 27, 2015, James Silverthorn filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. SILVERTHORN LUMBER

SECURITIES CASES AGAINST LUMBER LIQUIDATORS

On April 15, 2015, Amalgamated Bank filed the attached shareholder derivative complaint for breach of fiduciary duty, corporate waste and unjust enrichment against Lumber Liquidators and its directors and officer. AMALGAMATED BANK LUMBER LIQUIDATORS CASE

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

CAFC MAKES DOMESTIC INDUSTRY AN ISSUE IN 337 CASES

Under section 337, owners of US patents, trademarks and copyrights can filed a case against infringing imports. After a year-long proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge and the ITC itself, if the Commission finds that these unfair imports have injured a US industry, it can issue an exclusion order and the infringing imports will be kept out at the border.

On May 11, 2015 in the attached decision, Lelo Inc, v, International Trade Commission, CAFC LELO DOMESTIC INDUSTRY, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) increased the domestic industry standard, reversing the ITC and determining that there was no domestic industry in a section 337 case, stating:

In Certain Kinesiotherapy Devices and Components Thereof, Inv. No. 337-TA-823, Initial Determination at 50 (Jan. 8, 2013) (“Initial Determination”), “the Administrative Law Judge determined initially that the domestic industry requirement had not been met because the ALJ rejected Plaintiff’s arguments that its U.S. purchase of the four components constituted a “significant investment in plant and equipment,” or a “substantial investment in its exploitation, including engineering, research and development, or licensing,” under prongs (A) and (C), respectively, of the § 337 domestic industry requirement.”

Specifically, the ALJ concluded that Standard Innovation’s U.S. purchases were not relevant to a prong (A) analysis because Standard Innovation failed to establish what portion, if any, the purchase price actually contributed towards a domestic investment in plant or equipment. . . . The ALJ also decided that the components were off-the-shelf items and not relevant to prong (C) because there was no proof that the components were developed specifically for Standard Innovation’s devices, or what portion, if any, of the purchase price was allocable to research and development costs incurred in the development of the components.

Further, the ALJ determined that even if the purchases were relevant, they were neither “substantial” nor “significant” under prongs (A) or (C). . . . . The total purchase prices accounted for less than five percent of the total raw cost of the devices.

The CAFC went on to state:

The Commission, however, reversed the ALJ’s domestic industry determination, finding that “Standard Innovation has satisfied the domestic industry requirement based on its expenditures on components produced domestically that are critical to [its devices].” . . .The Commission rejected the ALJ’s economic prong analysis because Standard Innovation “established that the components were critical for [its devices], which the ALJ found to be protected by the patent. This is sufficient for us to consider the component expenses in our economic prong analysis.”

The CAFC found:

The Commission determined that Standard Innovation’s investment and employment under prongs (A) and (B) were quantitatively “modest,” . . ., which we take to mean “insignificant.” The Commission also found that Standard Innovation did not establish prong (C). . . . We agree with the Commission’s finding that investment and employment under prongs (A) and (B) were modest and insignificant. The Commission erred when it disregarded the quantitative data to reach its domestic industry finding based on qualitative factors. Qualitative factors cannot compensate for quantitative data that indicate insignificant investment and employment. As such, Standard Innovation did not establish a “significant” “investment” or “employment” under prongs (A) or (B), and did not set forth evidence of relevant investments under prong (C). Accordingly, Standard Innovation did not satisfy the domestic industry requirement of § 337.

The CAFC then determined:

We hold that qualitative factors alone are insufficient to show “significant investment in plant and equipment” and “significant employment of labor or capital” under prongs (A) and (B) of the § 337 domestic industry requirements. The purchase of so called “crucial” components from third-party U.S. suppliers are insufficient to satisfy the “significant investment” or “significant employment of labor or capital” criteria of § 337 where there is an absence of evidence that connects the cost of the components to an increase of investment or employment in the United States.

NEW 337 COMPLAINTS

On April 30, 2015, Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc. filed a new section 337 case at the ITC against imports of Electric Skin Care Devices, Brushes, Chargers and Kits Containing Same from the follow companies:

Our Family Jewels, Inc. d/b/a Epipur Skincare, Parker, CO; Accord Media, LLC d/b/a Truth in Aging, New York, NY; Xnovi Electronic Co., Ltd., China; Michael Todd True Organics LP. Port St. Lucie, FL; Mtto LLC, Fort St. Lucie, FL; Shanghai Anzikang Electronic Co., Ltd., China; Nutra-Luxe M.D., LLC, Fort Myers, FL; Beauty Tech, Inc., Coral Gables, FL; Anex Corporation, Korea; RN Ventures Ltd., United Kingdom; Korean Beauty Co., Ltd., Korea; H2Pro Beautylife, Inc., Placentia, CA; Serious Skin Care, Inc., Carson City, NV; Home Skinovations Inc., Canada; Home Skinovations Ltd., Israel; Wenzhou AI ER Electrical Technology Co., Ltd. d/b/a Cnaier, China; Coreana Cosmetics Co., Ltd., Korea; and Flageoli Classic Limited, Las Vegas, NV

PATENT AND OTHER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CASES

SIX CHINESE CITIZENS CHARGED WITH ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE

On May 19, 2015, the US Justice Department announced that it has indicted six Chinese individuals for economic espionage. The Justice Department stated in the attached announcement, DOJ CHINA PROFESSORS:

Chinese Professors Among Six Defendants Charged with Economic Espionage and Theft Of Trade Secrets for Benefit of People’s Republic of China

Chinese Professors Alleged to Have Stolen Valuable Technology from Avago Technologies and Skyworks Solutions to Benefit a PRC University

On May 16, 2015, Tianjin University Professor Hao Zhang was arrested upon entry into the United States from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in connection with a recent superseding indictment in the Northern District of California . . . .

The 32-count indictment, which had previously been sealed, charges a total of six individuals with economic espionage and theft of trade secrets for their roles in a long-running effort to obtain U.S. trade secrets for the benefit of universities and companies controlled by the PRC government.

“According to the charges in the indictment, the defendants leveraged their access to and knowledge of sensitive U.S. technologies to illegally obtain and share U.S. trade secrets with the PRC for economic advantage,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Economic espionage imposes great costs on American businesses, weakens the global marketplace and ultimately harms U.S. interests worldwide. The National Security Division will continue to relentlessly identify, pursue and prosecute offenders wherever the evidence leads. . . .

“As today’s case demonstrates, sensitive technology developed by U.S. companies in Silicon Valley and throughout California continues to be vulnerable to coordinated and complex efforts sponsored by foreign governments to steal that technology,” said U.S. Attorney Haag. “Combating economic espionage and trade secret theft remains one of the top priorities of this Office.” . . .

According to the indictment, PRC nationals Wei Pang and Hao Zhang met at a U.S. university in Southern California during their doctoral studies in electrical engineering. While there, Pang and Zhang conducted research and development on thin-film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) technology under funding from U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). After earning their doctorate in approximately 2005, Pang accepted employment as an FBAR engineer with Avago Technologies (Avago) in Colorado and Zhang accepted employment as an FBAR engineer with Skyworks Solutions Inc. (Skyworks) in Massachusetts. The stolen trade secrets alleged in the indictment belong to Avago or Skyworks.

Avago is a designer, developer and global supplier of FBAR technology, which is a specific type of radio frequency (RF) filter.

Throughout Zhang’s employment, Skyworks was also a designer and developer of FBAR technology. FBAR technology is primarily used in mobile devices like cellular telephones, tablets and GPS devices. FBAR technology filters incoming and outgoing wireless signals so that a user only receives and transmits the specific communications intended by the user. Apart from consumer applications, FBAR technology has numerous applications for a variety of military and defense communications technologies.

According to the indictment, in 2006 and 2007, Pang, Zhang and other co-conspirators prepared a business plan and began soliciting PRC universities and others, seeking opportunities to start manufacturing FBAR technology in China. Through efforts outlined in the superseding indictment, Pang, Zhang and others established relationships with officials from Tianjin University. Tianjin University is a leading PRC Ministry of Education University located in the PRC and one of the oldest universities in China.

As set forth in the indictment, in 2008, officials from Tianjin University flew to San Jose, California, to meet with Pang, Zhang and other co-conspirators. Shortly thereafter, Tianjin University agreed to support Pang, Zhang and others in establishing an FBAR fabrication facility in the PRC. Pang and Zhang continued to work for Avago and Skyworks in close coordination with Tianjin University. In mid-2009, both Pang and Zhang simultaneously resigned from the U.S. companies and accepted positions as full professors at Tianjin University. Tianjin University later formed a joint venture with Pang, Zhang and others under the company name ROFS Microsystem intending to mass produce FBARs.

The indictment alleges that Pang, Zhang and other co-conspirators stole recipes, source code, specifications, presentations, design layouts and other documents marked as confidential and proprietary from the victim companies and shared the information with one another and with individuals working for Tianjin University.

The six indicted defendants include: Tianjin University Professor Hao Zhang, Professor Wei Pang, Professor Jinping Chen, Huisui Zhang (Huisui), and Chong Zhou, a Tianjin University graduate student, and Zhao Gang, the General Manager of ROFS Microsystems.

The maximum statutory penalty for each one of these violations is more than 10 years imprisonment and 100s of thousands of dollars in fines. The case is USA v. Wei Pang.

On May 21, 2015, Tianjin University denied the charges against the three professors, pledged legal support to the professors and accused U.S. officials of “politicizing” the issue and endangering academic exchanges between the two countries.

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

Complaints are attached to each citation.

On February 13, 2015, e.Digital Corporation filed the attached patent case against Shenzhen Gospell Smarthome Electronic Co., Ltd. (dba Oco Camera); Ivideon LLC (dba Oco Camera); Global Innovations; and, New Sight Devices Corp. SHENZHEN GOSPELL

On February 17, 2015, Parthenon Unified Memory Architecture LLC filed a patent complaint against ZTE. PARTHENON ZTE COMPLAINT

On February 27, 2015, Innovation Works, Inc. filed a trademark case against Innovation Works (Beijing) Ltd., IW North America. INNOV BEIJING

On March 2, 2015, Optis Wireless Technology LLC et al filed a patent case against ZTE Corporation et al. OPTIS ZTE

On March 2, 2015, Skyworks Solutions, Inc. filed a patent complaint against Kinetic Technologies, Kinetic Technologies Hong Kong and China. SKYWORKSKIN

On March 4, 2015, Petmatrix LLC filed a patent complaint against Wenzhou Yuxiang Pet Product Co., Ltd. WENZHOU PATENT CASE

On March 5, 2015, Magnet Products International Group filed a trade secrets fraud case against Maghold LLC, Mary Zhang, and Dongguan Maghard Flexible Magnet Co, and Xiaodong Wang. MAGNET TRADE

On March 9, 2015, Orlando Communications LLC filed a patent case against ZTE Corp., et al. ZTE ORLANDO

On March 10, 2015, Saint Lawrence Communications filed a patent complaint against ZTE.  STLAWRENCE ZTE

On March 12, 2015, Anki Inc. filed a patent case against China Industries Ltd T?A Wow Stuff. ANKI CHINA INDUSTRIES

On March 13, 2015, China Central Television, Dish Network LLC et al filed a copyright and trademark case against Create New Technology (HK) Ltd., Hua Yang International Technology Ltd., Shenzhen GreatVision Network Technology Co., Ltd., Club TVPAD, Inc., Bennet Wong, Asha Media Group Inc. d/b/a TVPAD.com, Amit Bhalla, NewTVPad Ltd., Liangzhong Zhou, and Honghui Chen.  CCTV

On March 18, 2015, Lilith Games (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. filed a copyright case against uCool, Inc. and uCool Ltd. LILLITH GAMES SHANGHAI

On March 24, 2015, Wetro Lan filed a patent complaint against Huawei. HUAWEI PATENT COMPLAINT

On March 25, 2015, Streamlight Inc. filed a patent complaint Ningbo Highlite Technical Co., Ltd. NINGBO PATENT

On March 26, 2015, Tianhai Lace, a Chinese company, filed a copyright case against Posh Shop, a US company. TIANHAI COPYRIGHT

On April 1, 2015, Crafty Productions, Inc. et al filed a copyright and fraud case against Fuqing Sanxing Crafts Co. Ltd., a China company, Tony Zhu, MRF Associates, Inc., Michelle Faherty, The Michaels Companies, Inc., Michaels Stores, Inc., ZheJiang HongYe Co. Ltd., a China company, Fuzhou Bomy Trading Co., Ltd., a China company, Fuzhou Great Suns Co. Ltd., a China company, Sunface Crafts Co. Ltd., a China company, and a number of other US retail companies. CRAFTY COPYRIGHT

On April 2, 2015, Trans-Texas Tire, LLC filed an unfair competition and breach of contract case for unfair misappropriation of molds against Tianjin Wanda Tyre Group Co., Ltd, and Zhang Guanghhui and Li Xue Yong. TIRE MOLDS UNFAIR COMPETITION

On April 6, 2015, Express Mobile filed a patent case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. ALIBABA EXPRESS

On April 9, 2015, Nonend Inventions, N. V. filed patent complaints against Huawei and ZTE and multiple other high tech clients. NONENDZTE NONENDHUAWEI

On April 17, 2015, Synaptics Inc. filed a patent case against Goodix Technology Inc., Shenzhen Huiding Technology Co., Ltd. a/k/a Shenzhen Goodix Technology Co., Ltd. and Blu Products, Inc. SHENZHEN PATENT

On April 24, 2015 Nova Intellectual Solutions LLC filed a patent complaint against ZTE. NOVA ZTE CASE

On April 30, 2015, Cellular Communications Equipment LLC filed a patent case against ZTE Corp and a number of other companies. CELL ZTE

On May 1, 2015, Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc. filed patent complaints against Wenzhou Ai ER Electrical Technology Co., Ltd. dba Cnaier and Shanghai Anzikang Electric Co., Ltd. PACIFIC BIO WENZHOU PACIFIC BIOSCIENCE

On May 4, 2015, Ti Beverage Group, Ltd. and Michael Machat filed a trademark infringement case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., and Ebay Inc. TIBEV ALIBABA

On May 4, 2015, Anthony California, Inc, filed a copyright and trade secret case against Fire Power Co., Ltd., New Bright Jet Lighting (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., Interest Plus Investments Ltd., Chien Tsai Tsai, Chien Ho Tsia, James Moran and M&M Sales, and Direct Lighting LLC. CHINA SHEN NEW BRIGHT

On May 8, 2015, Frequency Systems, LLC filed patent complaints against Huawei and ZTE. ZTE FREQ HUAEWEI AGAIN

On May 12, 2015, Nuhertz Technologies, LLC filed a copyright and trademark case for software piracy against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Alibaba.Com Hong Kong Ltd., Alibaba. Com Ltd., Alibaba.Com Investment Holding Ltd., Other Alibaba Companies, Taobao Holding Ltd., Taobao China Holding Ltd., Taobao (China) Software Co., Ltd., and Alipay.Com Co., Ltd. NUEHERTZ ALIBABA

On May 15, 2015, Gucci filed a major trademark and counterfeiting case against Alibaba. Specifically, on May 15, 2015, Gucci America, Inc., Balenciaga S.A., Balenciaga America, Inc., Bottega Veneta S.A., Bottega Veneta Inc., Yves Saint Laurent America, Inc. Luxury Goods International (L.G.I.) S.A. and Kering S.A. filed the trademark and counterfeiting case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Alibaba.Com Hong Kong Ltd., Alibaba. Com Ltd., Alibaba.Com Investment Holding Ltd., Other Alibaba Companies, Taobao Holding Ltd., Taobao China Holding Ltd., Taobao (China) Software Co., Ltd., and Alipay.Com Co., Ltd. GUCCI ALIBABA

Complaints will be posted on my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com.

ANTITRUST

There have been major developments in the antitrust area in China.

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

DORSEY ARTICLE BY PETER CORNE

Peter Corne, who heads Dorsey’s Shanghai office, published the following article on March 13, 2015 about China’s antimonopoly law:

NDRC’s Qualcomm Decision Sends Mixed Messages

Chinese New Year celebrations culminated in a big way for foreign multinationals in China with the news at the end of February that the head of the National Development and Reform Commission’s (“NDRC’s”) Antitrust Bureau had been removed. Xu Kunlin had made his name by initiating numerous investigations against sectors involving multinationals such as auto parts and bearings, cars, and contact lenses. Former Director Xu (who is still director of the NDRC’s Price Department) was widely regarded as a fine leader, and his Antitrust Bureau hit monopolies with hefty penalties of RMB 7.9 Billion (US$1.29 Billion) from 2014 through February 10, the date the Qualcomm decision was announced as discussed below. He has been replaced by Zhang Handong (former deputy director of the Healthcare Reform Office under the State Council), whom we presume will take time to settle into his new position. Based on his familiarity with the medical sector, we would caution clients in that sector to continue to pay close attention to antitrust compliance.

The full content of the long-awaited result of the Qualcomm decision was published in early March (following the February 10 announcement of the result). In only three prior cases has the NDRC published the full content of an antitrust decision. Qualcomm was ordered to cease its infringing activities and was assessed a fine of RMB 6.1 billion (US$975 million), which represented about 8% of its 2013 revenue in China. The NDRC found Qualcomm guilty of abuse of market dominance and implementing monopolistic activities that eliminate and restrict competition. The following activities were deemed illegal: (1) charging unfairly excessive patent royalties, (2) tying patents that are not standard-essential patents in the telecom industry without a legitimate reason, and (3) imposing unreasonable conditions in the sale of baseband chips. During the investigation Qualcomm cooperated with the authorities and raised a series of rectification measures including the following:

(1) calculating patent royalties on the basis of 65% of net wholesale price of the device sold in China,

(2) when Qualcomm licenses its patent to Chinese licensees it will provide a list of patents and not charge royalties over patents that have already expired,

(3) Qualcomm will no longer require that Chinese licensees provide a compulsory (and royalty-free) cross-license for Qualcomm customers,

(4) where wireless standard-essential patents are concerned, Qualcomm will not tie in non-standard-essential patents without a legitimate reason, and

(5) unreasonable conditions will not be included in the license agreements when selling baseband chips, such as conditions prohibiting licensees from challenging the terms in the license agreement.

The Chinese press celebrated the decision as a victory for China. But Qualcomm was not forced to change its business model by the NDRC, so the decision could have been far worse for Qualcomm, reflected in a rise in the stock price of Qualcomm by 4.69% on the second day after the decision was announced.

Qualcomm’s core business model is to impose royalties on the net selling price of the entire device rather than the chips or other components, so it need now only change the calculation of the royalty base rather than the business model itself, leading some commentators to claim that the decision was a victory for Qualcomm.

Although the media claims victory for both sides, many problems seem to have been forgotten. For example, why was a formal investigation only initiated at the end of 2013 when publicly-available information indicates that the first complaint was made as early as 2008 by Texas Instruments? Further, under the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law a guilty decision requires that illegal gains be confiscated, but this case resulted only in the imposition of a fine.

The NDRC required such a confiscation in the LCD maker case. So if the NDRC agreed that 65% (mentioned above in Qualcomm’s rectification plan) was the correct calculation base, then Qualcomm should at least have been asked to return the portion of royalties calculated on the other 35% (which could amount to billions of dollars). In addition, the law provides that a fine should be charged on the basis of the revenue of the previous year, i.e. 2014, and not 2013, which was used in the decision. Some even questioned the jurisdiction of the NDRC in the first place because, judging from the decision, most of the illegal activities listed were not price-related, indicating that it would have been more appropriate for SAIC to launch the investigation.

On the other hand, Qualcomm dropped its request for a hearing at the last minute, and paid up the fine in only three days. All of the above clues lead us to believe that the decision was the result of a compromise between the investigator and the investigated, in the context of which the investigator somehow lost sight of the fact that it was deviating from the national law. But we have seen this before. For example, in the Liquor Case involving Chinese spirits (Moutai and Wuliangye), the NDRC limited its investigation to provincial level, only in Guizhou and Sichuan.

The moral of the story seems to be to make sure that you proactively engage the authorities up front. It may be best to do so before any investigation is even contemplated. Regardless of the timing, it appears that open engagement during an investigation should lead to a much better result.

ANJIE LAW FIRM

On March 16, 2015, Michael Gu, a Chinese antitrust lawyer at the Anjie Law Firm in Beijing, sent out the attached 014 review of Chinese anti-monopoly law. Public competition enforcement_China 2015_AnJie_20150316.

T&D JANUARY REPORT

On May 2, 2015 T&D also sent us the attached April report on Chinese competition law. T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of April 2015

SECURITIES

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

DORSEY MAY ANTI-CORRUPTION DIGEST

Dorsey recently published its attached May anti-corruption digest.  Anti-Corruption-Digest-May2015  With regards to China and Ukraine, the Digest states:

China

China has continued with its ongoing anti-corruption campaign.

In the energy sector, a senior executive at the state energy firm China Sinopec Group is reportedly under investigation for suspected “serious disciplinary violations”, a phrase which has become synonymous with allegations of corruption. China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has reportedly confirmed the investigation but has not disclosed further details about the case. The Chairman of Sinopec, Fu Chengyu, said in an interview with Chinese media that the company supports “the government’s long-term anti-corruption effort, not just cracking down on illegal acts but disciplinary wrongdoings as well”.

In the healthcare sector, it has been reported that the head of Yunnan’s No. 1 People’s hospital is under investigation for allegedly receiving bribes of ¥35 million ($5.6 million/£3.6 million) in cash, 100 properties worth approximately $13 million (£8 million) and a number of car parking spaces. It is alleged that Dr. Wang Tianchao used his position to seek bribes related to medical device procurement and employment positions. Dr. Wang, who was reportedly in the running to become the head of the region’s food and drug regulator, has been removed from his post.

In the retail motor industry, a former top executive at Volkswagen’s joint venture with FAW Group Corporation has been sentenced to life in prison for allegedly accepting bribes. Shi Tao was reportedly convicted of taking ¥33 million ($5 million/£3.2 million) in bribes in exchange for giving business to advertisers and car dealers from FAW-Volkswagen. In a statement, Volkswagen said that it was aware of the case, noting that “globally, Volkswagen is strictly against any kind of illegal conduct, and attaches great importance that all applicable anti-corruption laws are adhered to”.

In its global efforts to trace alleged “economic fugitives”, the Chinese government has published a list of 100 individuals suspected of corruption. The “most wanted” list, which displays the individuals’ photographs, identification numbers and likely whereabouts, is said to be composed of former local government officials, police officers and accountants who are suspected of accepting bribes, misappropriating funds and money laundering.

Ukraine

A new law has been enacted requiring companies to have compliance programs in place. The law applies to most companies participating in public tenders and state-owned enterprises over a certain size and in essence requires companies to appoint a compliance officer with responsibility for implementing the compliance program and reporting to shareholders. The law does not include penalties for failing to implement a compliance program; however companies are encouraged to:

 Conduct regular risk assessments.

 Develop programs to raise employee awareness of anti-corruption.

 Include compliance provisions in contracts with third parties.

Despite the apparent lack of enforcement in place, it is said that officials may consider the establishment of a compliance program when deciding whether to pursue an action against a company.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On February 11, 2015, Claire Rand filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Lu and Maggie Wu. RANDALIBABA

On March 3, 2015, the SEC filed a securities case against China Infrastructure Investment Corp., Li Xipeng and Wang Feng. SEC CHINA INFRASTRUCTURE

On March 13, 2015, Felipe Garcia filed a class action securities case against Lentuo International, Inc, Hetong Guo, Jing Yang and Yang Jiangyuluo. GARCIA LENTUO

On March 24, 2015, Placidius Silva filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Lu and Maggie Wu. ALIBABA PLACIDUSE

On March 25, 2015 Qiang Wang filed a class action securities case against Yoliku Tudou, Inc., Victor Wind, Chelfng Koo, and Michael Gexu. WANG YOKOU

On March 26, 2015 Edward Martindale filed a class action securities case against Yoliku Tudou, Inc., Victor Wind, Chelfng Koo, and Michael Gexu. MARTINDALEYOKOU TUDOU

On March 27, 2015, the SEC brought an action against Macquarie Capital (USA), Inc., Aaron Black, and William Fang, the Underwriters of Puda Coal, a Chinese company. SECPUDA COAL

On April 2, 2015, Troy Hung filed a class action securities case against Idreamsky Technology Ltd., Michael Xiangyu Chen, Jun Zou, Anfernee Song Guan, Jeffrey Lyndon, Ko, Steven Xiaoyi Ma, Erhai Liu, Mingyao Wang, David Yuan, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Stifel Nicolas & Company, In Corpora Ted, and Piper Jaffra. HUNGIDREAMY

On April 14, 2015 Rashid Jahm filed a class action securities case against Yoliku Tudou, Inc., Victor Wind, Chelfng Koo, and Michael Gexu. JAHM YOKOU

On April 15, 2015, James Patrick Griffith filed a class action securities case against Idreamsky Technology Ltd., Michael Xiangyu Chen, Jun Zou, Anfernee Song Guan, Jeffrey Lyndon, Ko, Steven Xiaoyi Ma, Erhai Liu, Mingyao Wang, David Yuan, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Stifel Nicolas & Company, In Corpora Ted, and Piper Jaffra. GRIFFITHIDREAM

On April 21, 2015, Francis J. Bonanno filed a class action securities case against Cellular Biomedicine Group, Inc., Wei Cao and Tony Liu. CELLULAR SECURITIES

On April 29, 2015, the SEC filed an insider trading case against two Chinese nationals, Xiaoyu Xia and Yangting Hu. SECHUAXU

On May 5, 2015, Abraham Jeremias, Roger Mariani and Michael Rubin filed a class action securities case against Idreamsky Technology Ltd., Michael Xiangyu Chen, Jun Zou, Anfernee Song Guan, Jeffrey Lyndon, Ko, Steven Xiaoyi Ma, Erhai Liu, Mingyao Wang, David Yuan, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Stifel Nicolas & Company, In Corpora Ted, and Piper Jaffra. JEREMIASIDREAM

On May 8, 2015, Steve Surrey filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Lu, Masayoshi Son, Daniel Young, Chee Hwa Tung, Walter The, Ming Kwauk, J. Michael Evans, and Jerry Yang. SURREY ALIBABA

On May 19, 2015, Paul Heller filed a class action securities case against Vishop Holding Ltd., Ya Shen and Donghao Yang. HELLERVISHOP

If you have any questions about these cases or about the trade politics, US trade law, 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 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, CUSTOMS, PATENTS, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Houhai Lake at Night With Drum and Bell Tower Beijing, China TraDear Friends,

There have been some major developments in the trade, solar cells, Customs, 337/patents, antitrust and securities areas.

TRADE

SOLAR CELLS—BEAT GOES ON

On September 26th there were reports that the United States and China have been negotiating for the past several weeks toward a settlement of existing trade remedy cases affecting Chinese solar cells that would set a minimum floor price and limit Chinese imports.   Apparently, the arrangement would be similar to the one China reached with the European Union, which also included a floor price and provisions aimed at limiting Chinese imports.  Another US objective is to remove Chinese duties affecting U.S. exports of solar-grade polysilicon to China.

Apparently, negotiations have taken place, but it is still unclear how intense the talks are at this time or whether they are anywhere close to a breakthrough.   Sources report that the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”), which is leading the negotiations for the U.S. side, has been talking to the domestic manufacturing industury.  As mentioned before since antidumping and countervailing duty orders have already been issued, there cannot be a suspension agreement.

One speculation is that the US and Chinese government could enter into a memorandum of understanding like the U.S-Canada lumber agreement.   Regarding who has more leverage in the negotiations, as described below, with the third country loophole in place, since the Chinese companies can source the cells from Taiwan, Chinese companies may not be that affected by the Trade Remedy orders.  But certain Chinese producers make most of their money by producing solar cells in China, not the modules and panels.

Furhter increasing the pressure, there was quite a flurry in the newspapers as the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) announced on September 20th its preliminary countervailing duty of 6.5% against Polysilicon from the United States against Hemlock and AE Polysilicon.  Other US producers, such as REC Silicon, received a 0% CVD rate. The CVD duty is in addition to the antidumping rates on polysilicon from 53 to over 60% on certain exporters.  See attached announcement.  MOFCOM ANNOUNCEMENT POLYSILICON

One trade publication quoted me stating that “I really think the United States, for the first time, has encountered a trade war,” Perry said. “All of a sudden, when it throws a rock at China, China throws two or three back.”

In addition, certain newspaper assumed that the countervailing duty replaced the antidumping duty against US polysilicon and the newspapers declared victory for the US side.  See http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/print/2013/09/china-escalates-trade-war-with-us-over-polysilicon-upping-tariffs-to-63-5

But the reality is quite different.  Just like the United States, the Chinese countervailing duty is added to the antidumping duty against US polysilicon so US producers/exporters are still under enormous pressure because of the Chinese trade case.  The U.S. imports of polysilicon into China were roughly $2 billion, while the imports of Chinese solar cells to the U.S. were roughly $4 billion.  The looming uncertainty has already cost the U.S. manufacturing jobs.  As mentioned in my last post, an August 18th article in the Seattle Times stated that Hemlock Semiconductor, the third-largest polysilicon producer, announced plans in January to lay off 400 employees at its Michigan and Tennessee plants, citing an oversupply of solar panels because of the potential for Chinese tariffs.  The article also stated that REC Silicon said the trade issues caused it enough uncertainty as far back as January of 2013 to delay a $1 billion capacity expansion at its Moses Lake plant in Washington.

The MOFCOM Polysilicon Decision increased pressure on the United States to negotiate a settlement agreement.  On September 23rd, a US solar industry association, the Solar Energy Industrial Association, released a proposed settlement of the solar cells and polysilicon trade cases.  SEIA SETTLEMENT PROPOSAL  In the attached announcement issued on September 23rd, the SEIA states:

“With no end in sight to the ongoing solar trade dispute between the United States and China, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is offering an industry compromise between the U.S. and Chinese solar industries, which could serve as the centerpiece for a fair, negotiated settlement of outstanding issues, benefit end users, and encourage the proliferation of solar energy in the United States and globally. . . .

For months, SEIA has been working behind the scenes in Washington and Beijing to resolve the current conflict and head off an escalation of trade sanctions. SEIA has warned U.S. negotiators that any settlement similar to the recently announced EU-China agreement would represent a blow to the U.S. solar industry because of an expected increase in solar prices. SEIA also believes that any resolution of the U.S.-China solar dispute must recognize the interests of all stakeholders, including American consumers, and not just one segment of the industry.

Highlights of SEIA’s proposed solution include:

• Chinese companies would agree to create a fund that would benefit U.S. solar manufacturers directly and help to grow the U.S. market. Money for the fund would come from a percentage of the price premium Chinese companies are currently paying to third-country cell producers to get around U.S. trade sanctions, reducing costs and supply chain distortion for Chinese companies.

• The Chinese government would also agree to end its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on U.S. polysilicon exports to China, and remove the threat of artificial cost increases in a key raw material in the solar value chain, benefiting not just Chinese solar companies but all users of solar energy.

• In return, the U.S. antidumping and countervailing duties orders would be phased out.”

In other words, the SEIA is proposing that the US Solar Industry and the Chinese solar industry simply come together and sing Kumbhaya, a let’s get together song, and everything will be fine again.  The reality is much different.

Although the United States and Chinese governments apparently are negotiating, the first problem with any settlement agreement is that the Chinese government has to agree.  With the Third Country loophole in place, that is if foreign solar cells are put in Chinese panels and modules, the panels and modules are not in the antidumping and countervailing duty case, Chinese modules and panels are not shut out of the US.  In fact, estimates are that the price difference between Chinese and Taiwan solar cells is an estimated 5 to 10 cents so the prices for modules and panels in the United States have only gone up by about $10.  Such a small prices increase has no impact on the US market.  So unless Commerce closes the loophole on its own or because of Court appeals, the Chinese government has no incentive to enter into such a settlement agreement.

Moreover, the US Solar Cell industry has no interest in such a settlement agreement.  In response to SEIA proposal, US counsel representing the US solar cell producers, including Solar World, indicated that they did not have any any intention of giving up unless and until China’s unfair trade practices have stopped.

Counsel for the US industry indicated that his clients are highly skeptical of any arrangement or settlement with China given its history of predatory trade pract1ces.  Since no agreement was negotiated in the initial investigation, getting the US industry’s agreement will be critical to any Solar Cells agreement because the Petitioners, including Solar World, must agree to withdraw their complaint.

This fight will definitely go on.

HARDWOOD PLYWOOD CASE

Another major trade fight is the antidumping and countervailing duty case against Hardwood Plywood from China.  On September 17, 2013, the Commerce Department issued its final antidumping and countervailing duty determinations in the Hardwood Plywood from China case.  As indicated in the attached notice, COMMERCE DEPARTMENT FACT SHEET HARDWOOD PLYWOOD the Antidumping rates range from 55.76% to 62.55% for the mandatory respondents and 59.46% for the rest of the Chinese companies that cooperated in the investigation and 121% for the Chinese companies that did not cooperate.

In the Countervailing Duty case, the three companies that were chosen as mandatory respondents received 0%.  But as mentioned before, even though the Chinese companies that were individually examined received 0%, the Commerce Department’s methodology does not let the Department go negative on the rest of China.  Despite the 0% dumping rates for the mandatory Chinese respondent companies, all other Chinese companies, more than 100 companies, received a 13.58% Countervailing Duty rate.  Fairness Commerce style.

In addition, how did the Commerce Department calculate an antidumping rates of approximately 55 to 62% for Chinese companies?  By using Bulgaria as the surrogate country.  Do you really think that Bulgaria is a more market driven economy than China?  Of course not, but that is not the point.

On September 19, 2013 at the ITC injury hearing Senator Wyden from Oregon testified for the US Industry stating:

“The growing tide of Chinese imports is sinking the boat of the American hardwood plywood industry . . .Left unchecked, these illegal trade practices undermine economic growth, struggling Oregon communities, and encourage more of these unacceptable trade practices by China and others who seek to play by their own rules. . .  American communities that are reliant on manufacturing had been brought “to the brink of economic collapse because of unfair trade.”

But who is the real loser in the Hardwood Plywood case, not the Chinese nor the US hardwood plywood industry.  The real losers in the Hardwood Plywood case are the downstream US producers of cabinets, furniture, boats, paneling and in home construction, crating and packaging, store fixtures, flooring underlayment and many other products, some of which are located in Oregon.

As Mr. Simon, the co-chairman of American Alliance and for Hardwood Plywood, and Mr. Titus, the executive vice president of the US Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, state in the attached article from the Wall Street Journal, “Protectionists Pick Your Pocket Again, You’ll Pay More for Cabinets, and Anything Made with Chinese Plywood and US jobs will be lost too” WSJ ARTICLE:

“Many thousands of U.S. factories depend on a steady, affordable supply of this plywood for the products they will sell at home and abroad.  Whether those downstream manufacturers sink or swim may be determined in Washington this week in two separate events—a ruling and a hearing.

The damage to U.S. manufacturers that rely on hardwood plywood has already begun. The combined tariffs have jolted supply chains, spiking the cost of imported hardwood plywood and creating painful shortages due to a lack of domestic supply. The first to suffer will be American jobs in manufacturing and woodworking. .. . Today, many U.S. manufacturers that depend on imported Chinese hardwood plywood fear that the tariffs will force the production of cabinets, furniture and other products now made in the U.S. to sites overseas. The domestic kitchen and bath-cabinet industries alone have $8.2 billion in annual sales. But how will the U.S. industry, hit by tariffs, compete with kitchen cabinets and other products made abroad—that can be shipped to the U.S. free of import duties? Competition will come from Canada and Mexico as well as China. . . .

This point was reinforced by Mr. Carl Spencer of Spencer Cabinetry, who testified at the ITC on behalf of the Kitchen Cabinetry industry in the attached article from Woodworking Network, ” Plywood Antidumping Ruling: Upside-Down System of Justice”  See  http://www.woodworkingnetwork.com/wood-blogs/industrial-woodworker/production-industry-guest-blogs/Upside-Down-System-of-Justice-226075531.html?page=2#sthash.wgd6pcex.dpbs

In the Article, Mr. Spencer states:

“My in-depth exposure has convinced me that a lot more American cabinetmakers need to get involved right away. This isn’t just someone else’s issue — our own very existence may be at stake, and it’s ten seconds to midnight. . . .”

“It’s a serious mistake for your readers to think this will not greatly affect them. Whether we buy any imported plywood or not, restricting the longstanding pipeline of hardwood plywood imported for use as secondary wood will trigger spot shortages and drive up prices of all domestic material for everyone.  That is the whole reason the Cartel of Six filed their complaint in the first place. . . .

“even though our hardwood plywood prices will go up a lot, they will not go up for our direct cabinetmaking competitors in China, Canada, Mexico, or elsewhere. As an example, we are already competing every day with Canadian companies, whose primary market is the United States.”

“From our point of view, our own government’s actions amount to a de facto stimulus, not for Americans, but instead for the Chinese, Canadian, and Mexican cabinet industries — all of whom can still buy plywood from China at the true world price. In the end, it is the American cabinet companies that will be punished, especially the small ones, and American jobs that will be lost.” . . .

“As it stands now, over 9,300 of us cabinet companies must now pay them for it for as long as we survive . .  .”

“The handwriting is on the wall. It might be well for the woodworking press to move their headquarters to Canada and have staff who speak Mandarin in order to better keep up with the new American cabinet industry.”

 

When the US government imposes antidumping and countervailing duties on US imports using an unfair process that is tilted in favor of US producers, the Government creates little monopolies.  When the products at issue are raw materials, the real losers are US producers of downstream products, which are either driven out of business because they cannot compete in the downstream market with imports that have access to the cheaper raw materials or forced to close their US production facilities and move to China.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY INVESTIGATIONS

MSG

On September 16, 2013, the Commerce Department initiated antidumping and countervailing duty review investigations on Monosodium Glutamate (“MSG”) from China. ITC Notice and Chinese companies in the review are listed below:

ITC NOTICE

Docket No: 2979

Document Type: 701 & 731 Petition

Filed By: Iain R. McPhie

Firm/Org: Squire Sanders (US) LLP

Behalf Of: Ajinomoto North America Inc.

Date Received: September 16, 2013

Commodity: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Country: China and Indonesia

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting the Commission to conduct an investigation under sections 701 and 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) from People’s Republic of China and Republic of Indonesia.

Status: 701-TA-503-504 and 731-TA-1229-1230 (Preliminary)

The Chinese respondent producers and exporters in the MSG case are: Fufeng Group, Meihua Holdings Group, Henan Lotus Flower Gourmet Powder Co., Ltd, COFCO Biochemical (Anhui) Co. Ltd.), Shandong Linghua Monosodium Glutamate Incorporated Co. , Jining Jusheng Gourmet Powder Food Co., Ltd., Shandong Xinle Monosodium Glutamate Foods Co. Ltd.,  COFCO Limited, Ningxia Eppen Bio-Tech Co., Ltd., Huanyu Gelin Food Development Co Ltd., Haerbing Juhua Biotech Co. Ltd, Fujian Province Jianyang Wuyi MSG Co., Ltd., and Shandong Qilu MSG Group Co.,

GOES

On September 18, 2013, an antidumping and countervailing duty petition was filed against Grain Oriented Electrical Steel from China.   Notice and Chinese companies are listed below:

ITC NOTICE

Docket No: 2980

Document Type: 701 & 731 Petition

Filed By: John M. Herrmann

Firm/Org: Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

Behalf Of: AK Steel Corporation, Allegheny Ludlum LLC, and the United

Steelworkers

Date Received: September 18, 2013

Commodity: Grain-Oriented Electrical Steel

Countries: People’s Republic of China, The Czech Republic, The Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Poland, and the Russian Federation.

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting the Commission to conduct an investigation under sections 701 and 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of Grain-Oriented Electrical Steel from the People’s Republic of China, The Czech Republic, The Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Poland, and The Russian Federation.

Status:  701-TA-505 & 731-TA-1231-1238

The Chinese respondents in the GOES case are: Anshan Iron & Steel Group Corporation, Hebei Shougang Qian’an Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. (subsidiary of Beijing Shougang Co. Ltd.), Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. (subsidiary of Baosteel Group headed by parent company Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation) (“Baosteel”), and Wuhan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. (”Wuhan” or “WISCO”).

As indicated below, the ironic point is that the Chinese Government has levied antidumping and countervailing duties on US exports of GOES to China.  Although the US has taken the GOES case to the WTO and won a victory, the orders stay in place in China.  The 3 plus years that the orders have been in place, however, have allowed the Chinese GOES industry to catch up and now export GOES to the US, which is causing problems for the US GOES industry.

In the Steel Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Wars between the US and China, what goes around, comes around.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

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

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

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

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

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW

POLYSILICON

Attached is the Chinese Government’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) September 20th announcement of preliminary countervailing duties to be levied on polysilicon imports from the US.  MOFCOM ANNOUNCEMENT POLYSILICON

SILICON STEEL—GOES

The US battle with the Chinese government on its antidumping and countervailing duty orders against GOES from the US is still being fought out.  In response to the August 12th announcement by MOFCOM that it had met its WTO obligations in the GOES case, on September 11, 2013, the USTR stated that it is “currently evaluating China’s re-determination of antidumping and countervailing duties on GOES from the United States” and that if the Chinese government’s actions are not sufficient to comply with the WTO’s recommendations and rulings, the US could initiate further proceedings at the WTO.

As the recent US antidumping and countervailing petitions against GOES from  China indicate, however, the US GOES industry has already lost its technical/tactical advantage.

Although the US Steel industry complains about Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty cases against US GOES exports, in light of US refusal to use actual prices and cost in China calculate dumping rates and the Commerce Department’s methodology that finds dumping and subsidization in 100% of the cases against China, such criticism has a very hollow ring.

CUSTOMS

HONEY CASE

On September 30, 2013, a US agent for a dozen Chinese honey importers was sentenced to three years in prison for her role in smuggling operations that allegedly avoided nearly $40 million in US antidumping duties. At a federal court hearing in Chicago, Hung Yi lin -who pled guilty last year to three counts of entry of goods into the U.S. by means of false statements- was also ordered to pay $512,852 in restitution, but avoided the six-year prison sentence sought by prosecutors.

Lin, 43, also known as Katy Lin, allegedly played a pivotal role in helping her clients falsify documents on shipping containers loaded with Chinese-origin honey from 2009 to 2012, making it appear that they were filled with sugars or syrups. Through her California-based company KBB Express, Lin brought in $11.5 million of honey into the US avoiding almost $40 million in antidumping duties.

Ms. Lin’s attorney argued that his client was simply a hardworking immigrant, who was merely a freight forwarder and did not profit from the scheme.  Ms. Lin in tears told the US Judge Milton I. Shadur that she was not attempting to flee prosecution, when she was arrested on her way out of the country.  “I’m really sorry if anything I did hurt this country. I came here for my dream . . . .”

In response, however, the Assistant US Attorney argued that the Mr. Lin’s role was absolutely critical in the sophisticated scheme.  The Assistant U.S. Attorney also stressed the damage to the U.S. honey industry when the price of honey collapsed due to the smuggling operation and other similar schemes.

PATENTS

337 CASES

CAFC DETERMINATION –MICROSOFT NO DOMESTIC INDUSTRY UNDER 337

On October 3, 2013, the third day of the Government shutdown, we can say that at least the Courts are open. Today the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) issued its attached decision in Microsoft v. US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) and Motorola in which Microsoft appealed an ITC determination of no violation in a 337 case.  MICROSOFT DOMESTIC INDUSTRY  The CAFC affirmed the ITC on almost every part of the decision, remanding on one small aspect of one patent back to the ITC.  The most important issue is the its decision on domestic industry, which will effect future 337 cases against China.

In that decision, which is attached, the CAFC dismissed one part of Microsoft’s patent case becasue Microsofit did not establish that the patented invention, the specific patent in question, was actually practiced in the United States and, therefore, there was no domestic US industry with regards to this patented product.  The CAFC stated:

“Microsoft’s failing was simple. Although Dr. Olivier purported to identify “client applications” in an example application that Microsoft provides to third party phone manufacturers, Microsoft failed to show that any such “client applications” are actually implemented on any third-party mobile device.  .  .  According to the ALJ, because Microsoft did not point to evidence that its expert examined client applications in fact running on third-party mobile phones or confirmed how they operated, Microsoft failed to show that there is a domestic industry product that actually practices the ’376 patent.  . . .In this appeal, we do not reach Microsoft’s challenge to the non-infringement determination because we find substantial evidence to support the Commission’s finding of no domestic industry, which suffices to support its finding of no violation based on this patent. There is no question about the substantiality of Microsoft’s investment in its operating system or about the importance of that operating system to mobile phones on which it runs.”

“But that is not enough under the statute. Section 337, though not requiring that an article protected by the patent be produced in the United States, unmistakably requires that the domestic company’s substantial investments relate to actual “articles protected by the patent.”  19 U.S.C. §§ 1337(a)(2), (3). A company seeking section 337 protection must therefore provide evidence that its substantial domestic investment—e.g., in research and development—relates to an actual article that practices the patent, regardless of whether or not that article is manufactured domestically or abroad. . . .”

“We conclude that there is substantial evidence to support the Commission’s determination that Microsoft failed to meet that requirement. . . . The Commission did not lack substantial evidence to support its finding that Microsoft simply failed to identify any actual phones with the required components performing as required.  . . .”

“On that basis, the Commission could find that Microsoft failed to show that any Microsoft-supported products practiced the ’376 patent. We therefore affirm the Commission’s finding of no proven domestic industry, and hence no section 337 violation, involving this patent.”

SUPREME COURT ARGUMENTS ON DOMESTIC INDUSTRY

On September 9, 2013, in Nokia v. US International Trade Commission, Nokia attempted to persuade the Supreme Court to take jurisdiction and overturn the CAFC’s January 2013 decision in Interdigitial Communications LLC et al v.  International Trade Commission and Nokia Inc. that licensing of specific patents by InterDigital in the United States was enough to be a domestic industry under section 337.  Nokia argued that nonpracticing entities should not be considered a domestic industry under section 337.

In response, according to InterDigital, when it ruled that it had satisfied the domestic industry requirement, the CAFC simply followed “the intent of Congress to enlarge the domestic industry requirement to cover licensing activities – when those activities are substantial and connected to exploitation of the patents at issue. . . .”  InterDig Brief

In the attached Supreme Court brief, the ITC sided with InterDigital.  ITC BRIEF  19 USC 1337(a)(3) (C) specifically provides that a domestic industry “shall be considered to exist if there is in the United States with respect to the articles protected by the patent, “substantial investment in the patent’s exploitation, including engineering, research and development or licensing”.  The ITC pointed to record evidence that InterDigitial had “invested a total of approximately $7.6 million in salaries and benefits for employees engaged in its licensing activities, and it received almost $1 billion in revenues from portfolio licenses (including the patents in suit) related to its cellular technology. . . .”

In addition, the ITC pointed to the CAFC’s explanation that in 19 1337(a)(3)(C) Congress intended to protect “innovators who did not actually produce goods in this country, but who were injured by the importation of goods that incorporated the technology that they had invented or sought to license”.

NEW 337 CASE

HANDHELD MAGNIFIERS

On September 26, 2013, a new 337 case was filed against Aumed Group Corp. in China on handheld magnifiers. See notice below:

Docket No: 2984

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Matthew B. Lowrie

Firm/Org: Foley & Lardner

Behalf Of: Freedom Scientific, Inc

Date Received: September 26, 2013

Commodity: Handheld Magnifiers

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 Handheld Magnifiers and Products Containing Same. The proposed respondents are Aumed Group Corp., China; and Aumed Inc., San Carlos, CA.

MARINE SONAR DEVICES AGAINST HONG KONG

On September 20, 2013, a new 337 case was filed on Marine Sonar Imaging Devices against a Hong Kong company.  See notice below.

Docket No: 2981

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: M. Scott Stevens

Firm/Org: Alston and Bird LLP

Behalf Of: Navico Inc. and Navico Holding AS

Date Received: September 20, 2013

Commodity: Marine Sonar Imaging Devices

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 Marine Sonar Imaging Devices, Products  Containing the Same, and Components Thereof. The proposed respondents are: Raymarine Inc., Nashua, New Hampshire; Raymarine UK Ltd., United Kingdom;  and In-Tech Electronics Ltd, Hong Kong.

NEW PATENT BILL PROPOSES TO MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR NPES/PATENT TROLLS

The House of Representatives released the attached draft patent bill on September 23, 2013 aimed at making it more difficult for patent trolls, non-practicing entities (“NPEs”), to bring patent cases.  HOUSE PATENT BILL  The bill will raise the pleading requirements, making it more difficult for NPEs to file frivolous suits.  The pleading requirements would also increase the cost and complexity of patent cases.

The bill would also require the losing party in patent cases to pay the costs of the prevailing party unless the judge finds that the suit was “substantially justified,” creating an exception in patent cases to the “American rule” that parties are generally responsible for paying their own attorney’s fees.

NEW PATENT CASES AGAINST HUAWEI, ZTE, HANGZHOU COMPANY AND OTHER CHINESE COMPANIES

On September 9, 2013, ACQIS filed a patent complaint against Huawei.  ACQIS HUAWEI

On September 17, 2013, C. B. Worldwide Inc. filed a patent complaint against Chinese companies, Hangzhou Yizhan Pet Products, Allara China Ltd., Shanghai ITCPC Import and Export Co. and Petlike.  The complaint alleges misappropriation of technology, patent infringement and breach of contract.  CHINA TOYS HANGZHOU

On September 25, 2013, Nidec Motor Corporation filed a patent complaint in the Federal District Court in Missouri against Broad Ocean Motor, Broad Ocean Technologies and Zhongshan Broad Ocean Motor Co., Ltd.

On September 26, 2013, James Grove and LF Products filed a patent case against COSTCO and Global Furniture (Zhejiang) Co. Ltd.  ZHEJIANG COSTCO

On September 26, 2013, SPH America filed patent complaints against Huawei and ZTE.  SPH ZTE   SPH HUAWEI

On September 30, 2013 and October 1, 2013, Super Interconnect Technologies filed patent complaints against Huawei and ZTE.  SUPER INTERCONNECT ZTE   SUPER INTERCONNECT HUAWEI

ANTITRUST

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT’S SYSTEMATIC INVESTIGATION OF ASIAN CARTELS

To illustrate that antitrust cases against Chinese companies for price fixing are not just China bashing, the following are additional examples of the major movement by the Justice Department and private plaintiffs in the United States to go after cartels, price fixing by foreign companies, aimed at the US market.  Well known antitrust experts have told me that Justice is targeting foreign cartels, especially Asian cartels, and is systematically going through industry after industry looking for evidence of price fixing.

In light of the ongoing cases against Vitamin C, Magnesium and Bauxite from China, it is just a matter of time before the Justice Department and Private Plaintiffs start to target Chinese companies for price fixing on various products.  One of the first targets of such price fixing investigations may be auto parts.

NINE JAPANESE AUTO PARTS COMPANIES PLEAD GUILTY TO PRICE FIXING CARTEL

On September 26th, the Justice Department issued the attached announcement that Nine automobile parts manufacturers and two executives agreed to plead guilty to fixing prices on automobile parts sold to U.S. car manufacturers and installed in U.S. cars.  FULL DOJ NOTICE AUTO PARTS SEPT 26  NINE JAPANESE AUTO PARTS COMPANIES PLEAD GUILTY

 The nine Japanese Companies agreed to pay a total of more than $740 million in Criminal fines.  The September 26th announcement states as follows:

“Nine Japan-based companies and two executives have agreed to plead guilty and to pay a total of more than $740 million in criminal fines for their roles in separate conspiracies to fix the prices of more than 30 different products sold to U.S. car manufacturers and installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere . . .  The department said that price-fixed automobile parts were sold to Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as to the U.S. subsidiaries of Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries–more commonly known by its brand name, Subaru.”

“These international price-fixing conspiracies affected more than $5 billion in automobile parts sold to U.S. car manufacturers, and more than 25 million cars purchased by American consumers were affected by the illegal conduct,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “The Department of Justice will continue to crack down on cartel behavior that causes American consumers and businesses to pay higher prices for the products and services they rely upon in their everyday lives.”

“Some of the price-fixing conspiracies lasted for a decade or longer, and many car models were fitted with multiple parts that were fixed by the auto parts suppliers,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program. “The Antitrust Division has worked hand in hand with its international competition colleagues who have provided invaluable assistance to the Justice Department in breaking up these worldwide price-fixing cartels.”

“Today’s charges should send a message to companies who believe they don’t need to follow the rules,” said Ronald Hosko, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Division. “If you violate the laws of this country, the FBI will investigate and put a stop to the threat you pose to our commercial system. The integrity of our markets is a part of the foundation of a free society.”

“Including those announced today, 20 companies and 21 executives have been charged in the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry. All 20 companies have either pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay more than $1.6 billion in criminal fines. Seventeen of the 21 executives have been sentenced to serve time in U.S. prisons or have entered into plea agreements calling for significant prison sentences.”

“Each of the companies and executives charged today has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation. The plea agreements are subject to court approval. The companies’ and executives’ agreed-upon fines and sentences are:

• Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd. to pay a $195 million criminal fine;

• Jtekt Corporation to pay a $103.27 million criminal fine;

• Mitsuba Corporation to pay a $135 million criminal fine;

• Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO) to pay a $190 million criminal fine;

• Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to pay a $14.5 million criminal fine;

• NSK Ltd. to pay a $68.2 million criminal fine;

• T.RAD Co. Ltd. to pay a $13.75 criminal fine;

• Valeo Japan Co. Ltd. to pay a $13.6 million criminal fine;

• Yamashita Rubber Co. Ltd. to pay a $11 million criminal fine;

• Tetsuya Kunida, a Japanese citizen, to serve 12 months and one day in a U.S. prison, and to pay a $20,000 criminal fine; and

• Gary Walker, a U.S. citizen and former executive of a U.S. subsidiary of a Japan-based automotive products supplier to serve 14 months in a U.S. prison, and to pay a $20,000 criminal fine.”

 

At a news conference about the guilty plea, Scott D. Hammond, Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division’s Criminal Enforcement Program, stated as follows in the attached statement:

“We have seen a pattern during the course of this investigation. The detection of one auto part conspiracy has led to the discovery of other conspiracies involving a new set of products, a new group of conspirators and a new list of victims. And as the Attorney General said, our work isn’t done. . . .”

“The companies and executives charged today will pay a heavy price for their conduct. As of today, more than $1.6 billion in criminal fines have been obtained thus far and 17 auto parts executives are currently serving prison time or are awaiting sentencing. The deterrent impact of their sentences should resonate in boardrooms around the world.”

“As today’s charges demonstrate, global cartels operating largely outside of our borders often constitute the biggest competitive threat to our economy, our businesses and our consumers. The Antitrust Division and the FBI have worked closely with our international competition colleagues to break up these worldwide price-fixing cartels.”

SCOTT HAMOND SPEECH

LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAY (LCDS) FROM TAIWAN

In San Francisco, a criminal antitrust trial is proceeding against Borlong Bai of AU Optronics in Taiwan for his involvement in a cartel to price liquid crystal displays.  AUO, its US subsidiary  and two executives were convicted of price fixing last year and two other executives were found not guilty.  Bai’s attorneys are arguing that although he was a manager of AUO’s division that sold LCDs to laptop computer companies, Bai simply used the information he received to outmaneuver his rivals and not to fix prices.

The Justice Department is arguing that Bai was essential to the global conspiracy to fix prices of LCDs.

ANTITRUST AG BILL BAER SPEECH ON CRIMINAL ANTITRUST CASES LCDS FROM TAIWAN

On September 25, 2013, Bill Baer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division at the Justice Department spoke to the Georgetown Law’s 7th Annual Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium on the importance of the lesson from the LCDs case against Taiwan companies.  BAER DOJ STATEMENT  Mr. Baer stated in the attached speech:

“Criminal enforcement is a large part of what we do at the Division. Effective sanctions matter there too. Guided by the federal Sentencing Guidelines, our prosecutors seek criminal sentences that are consistent with statutory considerations and reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law, provide just punishment, afford deterrence, protect the public, and offer defendants an opportunity for effective rehabilitation.”

“Last year, for the first time, the division recommended that a criminal antitrust defendant be required, as a condition of its probation, to retain an independent corporate monitor to develop and implement an effective antitrust compliance program. The defendant, AU Optronics Corporation (AUO), its U.S. subsidiary, and two of its top executives, had been convicted at trial for their role in a conspiracy to fix the price of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels – a conspiracy that had a significant impact on U.S. commerce.”

“Rarely has a company needed an effective antitrust compliance program as much as AUO. AUO was founded the very month the LCD conspiracy began. From its inception, AUO’s standard operating procedure was collusion. “Antitrust compliance program” was not in its lexicon. Even after conviction, AUO continued to employ convicted price-fixers and indicted fugitives. As a result, the division argued that there was no reason to believe that AUO’s conviction and the imposition of a criminal fine – even a large fine – would deter AUO from engaging in future collusive conduct.”

“The court agreed.  In addition to a $500 million fine, the court sentenced AUO and its subsidiary to three years of probation during which the companies are required to develop, adopt, and implement an effective compliance and ethics program, and to retain an independent monitor to oversee that program. Consistent with the division’s willingness to request external monitors in the civil context, the division will consider seeking conditions of criminal probation that include independent monitors when faced with circumstances in which the division is not persuaded that penalties alone will deter future illegal behavior.”

Attached are two class action complaints filed in October against Japanese auto parts.  As a result of the Justice Department plea agreements, Japanese auto parts companies and probably eventually Taiwan auto parts companies are exposed to $100s of millions, if not billions of dollars in liability under private right of action triple damage antitrust cases.  AUTO PARTS SWITCHES PANASONIC  DIAMOND AUTO PARTS AT CASE

US FTC CHAIRWOMAN STATES THAT CHINA NEEDS TO ENSURE PROCEDURAL FAIRNESS IN ITS ANTITRUST PROCEEDINGS

On September 25, 2013, at a conference in Washington DC, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez questioned the Chinese Government’s fairness in antitrust proceedings.  Ms. Ramirez stated:

“While every country must determine its own competition policy, we believe consumers and competition policy are best served when competition enforcement is based solely on economic analysis of effects on competition.  But if other factors nonetheless enter into competition decisions, their nature and effect should be transparent.”

The problem with Ms. Ramirez’s statement is that the Chinese government’s first experience with US government fairness is through the US antidumping laws.  For decades, the Chinese companies and government have been subjected to Commerce Department antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings, which are clearly not fair and transparent.  With its surrogate country and surrogate value analysis, Commerce Department determinations in antidumping cases on their face are arbitrary and capricious.  Using Bulgaria as a surrogate country in the Hardwood Plywood case is just such an example.

The procedural unfairness inherent in US antidumping and countervailing duty laws affects the entire legal relationship between the US and China.  Chinese government officials and many Chinese companies sincerely believe that the United States is simply out to bash Chinese companies and procedural fairness be damned.

What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  If the Commerce Department uses inherently unfair procedures in its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, which have no basis in economic reality, from the Chinese government’s point of view why should it base its competition policy on “economic analysis of effects of competition.”

CLASS ACTION ANTITRUST CASE AGAINST KOREAN NOODLE COMPANIES

On September 5, 2013, the attached class action antitrust case complaint was filed in Federal District Court in California by Stephen Fenerjian against Korean noodle companies for price fixing on exports of noodles to the United States.  The target companies are: Nong Shim Company Ltd., Nong Shim America Inc., Ottogi Company Ltd., Ottogi America, Inc., Samyang Foods Company Ltd., Samyang (USA) Inc., Korea Yakult Co., Ltd., and Paldo Company Ltd.  KOREAN NOODLES ANTITRUST CASE

SECURITIES

SEC GRANTS DELAY IN PROCEEDING AGAINST US ACCOUNTING FIRMS FOR REFUSING TO RELEASE AUDIT DOCUMENTS OF CHINESE COMPANIES

On October 2, 2013, in the attached order, SEC ORDER ACCOUNTING FIRMS the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) granted a request from an administrative law judge to give an additional 100 days to determine whether top accounting firms, such as Ernst & Young, Deloitte and Price, Waterhouse, have to produce audit document of Chinese company clients that are suspected of defrauding their US investors through reverse mergers.  In December 2012 the SEC started this case because it believes the accounting firms, including the Big 4, have refused to to cooperate with document requests in an investigation into China-based companies whose securities are publicly traded in the U.S. in violation of US security laws.  The accounting firms argue that they fear violating Chinese secrecy laws.  As evidenced by the complaints on this site, the SEC has cracked down in the last few years on fraudulent reverse mergers, in which Chinese companies have used existing public shell company to merge with a private operating company, leaving the shell company as the surviving legal entity.  The crackdown, however, has been delayed by the Chinese privacy laws, which bar China-based auditors, including the subsidiaries of US accounting firms, from turning over Chinese client information.

The accounting firms have been fighting requests for audit paperwork related to Chinese companies accused of fraud on US investors.  In July, following bilateral investment talks, the U.S. announced that China had agreed to turn over certain audit documents to the SEC and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.  That deal came shortly after the PCAOB announced a memorandum of understanding with the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the country’s Ministry of Finance to ease restrictions on release of audit information in fraud investigations.

COMPLAINTS

A number of new securities complaints cases have been filed against Chinese companies.

On September 26, 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed the attached  securities fraud complaint against Lee Chi Ling (“Lee”) and Perfect Genius Limited (“Perfect Genius”), alleging securities fraud in a classic “pump and dump”scheme from at least June 2004 through at least February 2006 to manipulate the price of the common stock of China Energy Savings Technology, Inc.   PERFECT GENIUS

On September 26, 2013, the SEC filed a securities fraud complaint against defendants Chan Tze Ngon, a/k/a Chen Zi Ang and Ron Chan, (“Chan”), and Jiang Xiangyuan (“Jiang”).  The case involves two securities fraud schemes engineered by former high level officials of ChinaCast Education Corporation (“ChinaCast”) to steal about $100 million out of the company by diverting monety to their private accounts.  CHINA CAST

On September 27, 2013, the SEC filed a securities fraud complaint against Universal Travel Group (UTG), a China-based travel company, UTG’s former ChiefExecutive Officer Jiangping Jiang (“Jiang”); and UTG’s former Chief Financial Officer, Jing Xie (“Xie”) for diverting $41 million in public and private stock offerings in the United States to numerous unknown parties in Hong Kong and the PRC. In an interesting note, the attached complaint also includes consent judgements by UTG, Jian and Xie in which they agree to the SEC charges and agree to pay fines and penalties.  Even in China, you can run, but not hide.  UNIVARSAL TRAVEL

On September 30, 2013, Another class action securities case was filed against Light in the Box Holding, a Beijing company, and two Chinese individuals for securities fraud.  LIGHT IN THE BOX

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRADE, CHINA BANK COLLECTIONS, PATENTS/337, SECURITIES

US Capitol Dome Houses of Congress Washington DCDear Friends,

There have been some major developments in the trade, solar cells, collection actions against Chinese banks, 337/patents, antitrust and securities areas.

TRADE

 

SOLAR CELLS—CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE ON POLYSILICON PUTS WASHINGTON STATE/USA JOBS AT RISK

On August 20, 2013, in the attached article the Seattle Times reported about the impact of the Chinese Polysilicon Antidumping and Countervailing Duty case against the United States on REC Silicon, a Washington State manufacturer of polysilicon.  POLYSILICON IMPACT REC SILICON  The article states:

“REC Silicon, a large manufacturer of solar-grade polysilicon in Central Washington, warns of a “massive blow” to its business if China and the United States don’t resolve a trade dispute.”

The article goes on to state:

“REC Silicon, with 500 workers in this Central Washington town, annually produces enough solar-grade polysilicon to power more than 2 million homes. But a global trade battle over solar panels threatens to plunge REC and its local workforce into financial crisis.

China last month slapped hefty duties on U.S.-made polysilicon in a move widely seen as retaliation for American tariffs imposed last year on imports of Chinese solar panels. Now, China’s solar-panel producers face a 57 percent tariff on polysilicon bought from REC, raising the likelihood that they’ll get the raw material elsewhere.

Chinese customers account for nearly 80 percent of the polysilicon produced in Moses Lake, so the stakes are huge, said REC general counsel Francine Sullivan.  “This is potentially a massive blow to our business. We’re doing all we can to keep going, but we can’t manage too much longer without government help,” she said. . . .

Polysilicon, a hyper-pure form of silicon, is the main material in solar panels. REC places fifth on an IHS ranking of the world’s largest polysilicon producers. Last fall, the United States imposed tariffs of 30 to 35 percent on solar panels from China after finding that unfair government subsidies had enabled Chinese producers to sell below cost.

A group of seven U.S. solar panel makers, including the American division of Germany-based SolarWorld, which operates a plant in Oregon, set off the investigation after filing a trade complaint against China.

REC warned that steep tariffs on Chinese imports would drive up solar energy costs, dampen consumer demand and destroy jobs. Chief Executive Officer Tore Torvund also said China might use the tariffs as an excuse to introduce duties on U.S.-made polysilicon.  In an April 2012 op-ed piece for The Seattle Times, Torvund noted that uncertainty surrounding the trade dispute already had caused REC to put off a planned $1 billion investment in new capacity at the Moses Lake plant.

“Other companies in every segment of the industry may also hedge their bets,” he wrote. Indeed, Dow Corning-owned Hemlock Semiconductor, the third-largest polysilicon producer, announced plans in January to lay off 400 employees at its Michigan and Tennessee plants, citing an oversupply of solar panels and the potential for Chinese tariffs. . . .

As expected, China’s Ministry of Commerce moved July 18 to enact preliminary tariffs on U.S. polysilicon, setting REC’s rate at 57 percent and Hemlock’s at 53 percent. The duties are an initial step before a final ruling due next February. . . .

To supporters of a U.S.-China trade accord, REC serves two bigger purposes: Not only is it part of America’s green-energy push, but it also provides the sort of jobs sorely lacking in today’s still-struggling economy.

“It would be a big blow to the community if they were to lose them,” said Brian Bonlender, director of the Washington state Department of Commerce. “We’re taking this very seriously, because there’s no doubt a lot of jobs in jeopardy right now.”

What goes around in the US China Trade War comes around.

GLYCINE CASE

An illustration of how the Commerce Department can use surrogate values to distort antidumping rates is the Glycine from China case.  In the 2012 antidumping review investigation, after years of using India as a surrogate country, Commerce switched surrogate countries to Indonesia.  Since Indonesia does not have good surrogate values for raw material/chemical inputs, such as chlorine, Commerce calculated a dumping margin that went from 52 to 452% for Baoding Mantong.  No dumping rate is too high for Commerce.  As you know, US importers are retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS

On August 28, 2013 the Commerce Department initiated antidumping and countervailing duty review investigations on Certain Steel Gratings from China.  Chinese companies in the review are listed below:

Anping Jinyuan Metal, Anping Jinyuan Metal Co., Ltd., Comtrust Metal & Ware Mesh Products Co. Ltd., Dalian AW Gratings,     Dalian AW Gratings, Ltd., Fujian Youxi Best Arts & Crafts Co., Ltd., Guangzhou Webforge Grating Co., Ltd., Hebei Jinshi Industrial Metal Co., Ltd., Jiashan Qilmei Grating Co., Ltd., Kingjoy Building Decorative Materials Co., Ltd., Ningbo Haitian International Co., Ltd., Ningbo Jiulong Machinery Manufacturing Co., Ltd., Ningbo Lihong Steel Grating Co., Ltd., Ningbo Zhenhai Jiulong Electronic Equipment Factory, Shanghai Shenhao Steel Structure Designing Co., Ltd., Shanghai DAHE Grating Co., Ltd., Sinosteel Yantai Steel Grating Co., Ltd., Tianchang Flying-Dragon Metallic Products Co., Ltd., Qing Auging Mechanical Xinxing Grating Factory, Yantai Hercules Metal Ltd., Yantai Xinke Steel Structure Co., Ltd., Zhejian Hengzhou Steel Grating Co., Ltd.

Also another antidumping (“AD”) review was initiated on Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe from China.  Chinese companies are listed below:

Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd., Beijing Jia Mei AO Trading Co., Ltd., Beijing Jinghua Global Trading Co., Ltd., Benxi Northern Steel Pipes, Co. Ltd., CNOOC Kingland Pipeline Co., Ltd., ETCO (China) International Trading Co., Ltd., Guangzhou Juyi Steel Pipe Co., Ltd., Huludao City Steel Pipe Industrial, Jiangsu Changbao Steel Tube Co., Ltd., Jiangsu Yulong Steel Pipe Co., Ltd., Liaoning Northern Steel Pipe Co., Ltd., Pangang Chengdu Group Iron & Steel Co., Ltd., Shanghai Zhongyou TIPO Steel Pipe Co., Ltd., Tianjin Haoyou Industry Trade Co., Ltd., Tianjin Baolai International Trade Co., Ltd., Tianjin Longshenghua Import & Export, Tianjin Shuangjie Steel Pipe Co., Ltd., Weifang East Steel Pipe Co., Ltd., WISCO & CRM Wuhan Materials & Trade, Zhejiang Kingland Pipeline Industry Co., Ltd.

If Chinese companies in these cases exported these products during the July 1, 2012-June 30, 2013 review period, they must enter a notice of appearance and apply for a separate antidumping rate.  Failure to do so will result in the Chinese company receiving the highest antidumping rate, and the US importer of such products during the review period being exposed to substantial retroactive liability.

IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION/AMERICAN IMPORT 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.

The objective of the Coalition will be to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.

We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries.

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

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW

SILICON STEEL—GOES

The limitation on the US pressure on the Chinese government’s implementation of its antidumping and countervailing duty laws is indicated by the attached August 12th announcement by the Chinese government that it has fully complied with the WTO rulings against the Chinese government’s determinations in the antidumping and countervailing duty case aimed at imports of US grain-oriented flat rolled electrical steel (GOES). MOFCOM GOES ANNOUNCEMENT The US industry disagrees.

In response to the WTO decision, China lowered the countervailing duty (“CVD”) rate facing AK Steel from 11.7 percent to 3.4 percent. MOFCOM also lowered the CVD rate facing ATI Allegheny Ludlum, the other main company affected by the case, down from its previous rate of 12 percent to 3.4%.

Concerning antidumping (“AD”) rates, China did not alter the AD duties of 7.9 percent and 19.9 percent on steel exports from AK Steel and Allegheny Ludlum, respectively, although it did lower the “all others” AD rate from 64.8 percent to 13.8 percent.

China maintains that the Appellate Body ruling did not require it to alter the AD rates facing the two primary steel companies.

This dispute between the US and China on US exports of GOES has been going on for years. Meanwhile, however, the United States has imposed numerous antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of Chinese steel.

In addition, because US importers are exposed to retroactive liability on Chinese imports under the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, no US importer dares to keep importing Chinese steel once cases are filed. So the real effect of steel antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China is to shut out Chinese steel imports into the United States.

No other country exposes its importers to retroactive liability under the antidumping and countervailing duty laws. Only the United States.

When viewed in this context, it is easier to understand why the Chinese government is playing the trade game in the GOES case.

LITIGATION AGAINST CHINESE BANKS TO COLLECT US JUDGMENTS AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES

In prior posts, I have mentioned that US Plaintiffs could bring an action against Chinese banks in New York Federal District to recover money owed on US judgments by Chinese companies.  Attached is a complaint that was just filed on September 4, 2013 for garnishment in the US Federal District Court in New York against the Chinese Industrial and Commercial Bank for judgment debts owed by Chinese tire companies.  TIRES COLLECTION CASE

Plaintiffs sued Chinese companies, Shandong Linglong Rubber Co., Ltd., Linglong Group Co., Ltd., Shandong Linglong Tire Co., Ltd., AI Dobowi Ltd., Al Dobowi Tyre Co., LLC, Tyrex International, Ltd., and Tyrex International Rubber Co., Ltd., (collectively, “Judgment Debtors”) and in July 2010 a jury empaneled by the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia held the Judgment Debtors jointly and severally liable for, among other claims, copyright infringement and conversion and awarded the Plaintiffs $26 million. The Eastern District of Virginia entered the judgment for $26,000,000 against the Judgment Debtors in the case, captioned In re: Outsidewall Tire Litigation, 1 :09-cv-1217 (E.D. Va. ), on October 28, 2010 (the “Judgment”).

Now the US Plaintiffs have sued the Chinese Bank Branch of the Industrial and Commercial Bank in New York saying give me the assets of the companies in China that you the Bank have to satisfy this $26 million judgment.

Note that this case is to recover money held by the Chinese bank in China to apply to the $26 million US judgment against the Chinese tire companies.  Lesson, the Chinese companies can run, but they can no longer hide from US judgments.

PATENTS

NEW 337 CASES

TIRES

On August 14, 2013 Toyo Tire filed a new section 337 design patent case against imports of tires from China.  The notice is set forth below:

Docket No: 2973

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: V. James Adduci, II

Firm/Org: Adduci, Mastriani and Schaumberg

Behalf Of: Toyo Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd., Toyo Tire Holdings of Americas Inc., Toyo tire U.S.A. Corp., Nitto Tire U.S.A. Inc., and Toyo Tire North America Manufacturing Inc.

Date Received: August 14, 2013

Commodity: Tires

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 Tires and Products Containing Same. The respondents are: Hong Kong Tri-Ace Tire Co., Ltd., China; Weifang Shunfuchang Rubber & Plastic Co., Ltd., China; Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre Co., Ltd., China; Shandong Yongtai Chemical Group Co., Ltd., China; MHT Luxury Alloys, Rancho Dominguez, CA; Wheel Warehouse, Inc., Anaheim, CA; Shandong Linglong Tyre co., Ltd., China; Dunlap & Kyle Company, Inc., d/b/a Gateway Tire and Service, Batesville, MS; Unicorn Tire Corp., Memphis, TN; West KY Customs, LLC, Benton, KY; Svizz-One Corporation Ltd., Thailand; South China Tire and Rubber Co., Ltd., China; American Omni Trading co., LLC, Houston, TX; Tire & Wheel Master, Inc., Stockton, CA; Simple Tire, Cookeville, TN; WTD Inc., Cerritos, CA; Guangzhou South China Tire & Rubber Co., Ltd., China; Turbo Wholesale Tires, Inc., Irwindale, CA; TireCrawler.com, Downey, CA; Lexani Tire Worldwide, Inc., Irwindale, CA; Vittore Wheel & Tire, Asheboro, NC; and RTM Wheel & Tire, Asheboro, NC.

OUTDOOR GRILLS

On August 21, 2013, A&J Manufacturing filed a 337 patent case against imports of Outdoor Grills from China and other Countries.  A&J also filed numerous patent cases in Federal District Court at the same time targeting the Chinese and other foreign respondent companies.  The ITC notice is listed below along with the names of the target companies.

Docket No: 2974

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: V. James Adduci, II

Firm/Org: Adduci, Mastriani & Schaumberg

Behalf Of: A&J Manufacturing LLC and A&J Manufacturing Inc.

Date Received: August 21, 2013

Commodity: Multiple Mode Outdoor Grills and Parts

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 Multiple Mode Outdoor Grills and Parts Thereof. The respondents are: The Brinkmann Corporation, Dallas, TX; W.C. Bradley Co., Columbus, GA; GHP Group, Inc., Morton Grove, IL; Kamado Joe Company, Duluth, GA; Outdoor Leisure Products Inc., Neosho, MO; Rankam Group, Gardena, CA; Academy Ltd, Katy, TX; HEB Grocery Company d/b/a H-E-B, San Antonio, TX; Kmart Corporation, Hoffman Estates, IL; Sears Brands Management Corporation, Hoffman Estates, IL; Sears Holding Corporation, Hoffman Estates, IL; Sears, Roebuck, & Company, Hoffman Estates, IL; Tractor Supply Company, Brentwood, TN; Guangdong Canbo Electrical Co., Ltd, China; Chant Kitchen Equipment (HK) Ltd, China; Dongguan Kingsun Enterprises Co., Ltd, China; Zhejiang Fudeer, China; Ningbo Huige, China; Keesung Manufacturing Co., Ltd, China; Ningbo Spring Communication, China; and Wuxi Joyray International Corp., China.

Complaints are available upon request.

NEW PATENT CASES AGAINST HUAWEI AND ZTE

On August 13, 2013, Hopewell Culture & Design LLC filed the attached patent case against Huawei and ZTE.  HOPEWELLHUAWEIZTE

On August 15, 2013, Wyncomm filed the attached patent case against Huawei. WYNCOMM HUAWEI

On August 23, 2013, Straight Path IP Group, Inc. filed the attached patent cases against Huawei and ZTE. STRAIGHT PATH HUAWEI STRAIGHT PATH ZTE

ANTITRUST

AUTO PARTS TAIWAN

Two class action antitrust complaints were filed in on August 21st and August 30th against Taiwan auto parts producers for price fixing.  AUTO PARTS TAIWAN ANTITRUST COMPLAINT AUTO PARTS TAIWAN ANTITRUST COMPLAINT FIREMAN’S AUTO PARTS TAIWAN

SECURITIES

COMPLAINTS

Attached is a class actions Securities case that was filed in the New York Federal District Court on August 27th against Lightinthebox Holding Co. located in Beijing, China.  LIGHTINTHE BOX HOLDING

Attached is a class actions Securities case filed against PetroChina in New York Federal District Court on September 3, 2013.  PETRO CHINA CLASS ACTION SECURITIES CASE

CHINA NORTH EAST PETROLEUM SECURITIES SETTLEMENT

Attached is a memorandum of law filed on August 19th in New York Federal court in which China North East Petroleum Holdings Ltd. has agreed to pay $2.5 million to settle a proposed securities class action accusing it of improper accounting and embezzlement. CHINA PETROLEUM MOTION FOR PAYOFF The settlement ends the consolidated class action brought in 2010 claiming the company’s improper accounting tactics led to an overstatement of its net profit in 2008 and 2009.

CNEP was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange in May 2010, after various accounting issues forced it to restate financial results from 2008 and 2009, and its stock price dropped when it was relisted in September 2010.

HOW TO CATCH A TIGER—DORSEY ARTICLE ON GOVERNMENT SECURITIES ACTIONS IN HONG KONG AND THE US

Three Dorsey lawyers have recently written an article on the how Government Securities Enforcement Agencies in Hong Kong and the US have coordinated their enforcement actions to go after a company that specializes in investments in China, Japan and Korea.

Thomas Gorman is a partner in Dorsey & Whitney’s Washington, D.C. office and used to work in the enforcement division of the US Securities and Exchange Commission. David Richardson and Eden McMahon are partners in the firm’s Hong Kong office.

The Article is important because it demonstrates how Chinese companies listed in the US and HK can face enforcement actions for the same violations in two different countries.

The Article is set forth below:

How To Catch A Tiger —On Both Sides Of The Pacific

Government securities enforcement agencies in Hong Kong and the United States have been pursuing Tiger Asia Management and its affiliates for four years with claims of insider trading and market manipulation on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. In Hong Kong, that pursuit has resulted in an important legal precedent regarding the arsenal of weapons available to the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission. In the United States, it has demonstrated the ability of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission working in tandem with the U.S. Department of Justice to exact significant enforcement remedies relating to overseas transactions even after the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Morrison v. National Bank of Australia (2010).

Tiger Asia: A New York Hedge Fund Trading in Hong Kong

Tiger Asia is a Delaware limited liability company with its principal place of business in New York City specializing in equity investments in China, Japan and Korea. It has no physical presence or employees in Hong Kong, but maintained accounts in Hong Kong to enable it to trade in Hong Kong securities. All of Tiger Asia’s employees are in New York.

As a hedge fund, Tiger Asia is able to take short positions in equities. Between 2008 and 2009, Tiger Asia participated in three private placements for the securities of two Chinese banks. In each instance the placing agents approached Raymond Park, the head trader for the funds, about participating in a private placement of bank shares. Park agreed in his New York office. Prior to being given details of the placement, he agreed to Tiger Asia being “wall crossed,” a term used in the financial services industry to mean it agreed to receive price-sensitive information that was not generally known to the public, as part of selective pre-marketing of an offering to potential investors.

After entering into the wall-crossing agreements, under which Tiger Asia agreed not to trade shares of the banks, Bill Hwang ordered Park to short sell the relevant stock on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange in the days prior to each placement. Park did not inform the placement agent in either instance that their agreement had been breached.

As a result of the trading, Tiger Asia had net trading profits of about HK$16.2 million (US$2.09 million).

Hong Kong Securities Enforcement Legal Framework

Hong Kong has a dual civil/criminal regime to deal with misconduct in the financial markets under the Securities and Futures Ordinance (SFO). There is the Market Misconduct Tribunal (MMT), on the one hand, which imposes civil liability for market misconduct and can make orders barring a person from being a director or manager of a corporation, or from dealing in securities and can order disgorgement of any profits made or losses avoided to the Hong Kong government.

On the other hand, the SFO creates criminal offenses for various types of market misconduct. The two regimes are mutually exclusive, and proceedings brought by the Securities and Futures Commission of Hong Kong (HK SFC) under one means there can be no further proceedings under the other.

The question under consideration in the Hong Kong courts to date was essentially whether or not section 213 of the SFO, under which the courts have wide-ranging power to make a number of injunctions and orders on the application of the HK SFC, provides a “third route” for final orders, or if a prosecution under Part XIV or proceedings before the MMT under Part XIII was a prerequisite.

Proceedings in the Hong Kong Courts

The HK SFC applied for various orders against Tiger Asia. The HK SFC based its action on section 213(1), which states that where a person has contravened any of the relevant provisions (including the prohibition on insider dealing), the Court of First Instance (CFI) may make orders on the application of the HK SFC.

In HK SFC v. Tiger Asia, Hwang, Park and Tomita, the CFI[1], held that the court did not have the jurisdiction to make the declarations sought by the HK SFC because the criminal court or the MMT had not yet determined whether there had been a contravention of the relevant market misconduct provisions; the CFI had no jurisdiction to itself decide whether or not there had been a contravention.

The HK SFC appealed. The Court of Appeal[2] allowed the appeal and ruled that section 213 procedures are freestanding from the dual civil/criminal market misconduct process.

On April 30, 2013, the Court of Final Appeal[3] (CFA), in a unanimous decision, confirmed the decision in the Court of Appeal and held that the CFI does have independent jurisdiction to make orders under section 213 without any prior finding by a criminal court or the MMT in respect of any contravention of the relevant provisions of the SFO. Part of the reasoning of the court is that section 213 is concerned with providing remedies for the benefit of parties involved in the impugned transactions, and serves a different purpose from the penalties that can be imposed by a criminal court or the MMT. As we will see below, the HK SFC is keen to act as both a prosecutor in the general public interest and protector of the collective interests of the persons dealing in the market who have been injured by market misconduct.

Civil and Criminal Enforcement in the United States

SEC v. Tiger Asia Management LLC (D. N.J. Filed Dec. 12, 2012) is an action of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission against the firm.

The complaint of the SEC centers on two sets of transactions. First, the short and long sales of shares in the two banks as noted above. Second, the complaint focuses on an attempted manipulation on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

In four instances, Tiger Asia attempted to manipulate the month-end closing prices of certain stocks listed on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. The stocks were among its largest short holdings. In each instance, Tiger Asia placed trades that were intended to depress the price of the stock, thereby increasing the value of its short position. Since the management of Tiger Asia was paid a fixed annual management fee equal to 1.5 percent of the value of the net assets of the fund, calculated at the end of the month, this action increased the fees by US$496,000. The SEC’s complaint alleges violations of section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934[4], section 17(a) of the Securities Act of 1933[5], and sections 206(1), 206(2) and 206(4) of the Investment Advisers Act.[6]

The defendants settled the action, consenting to the entry of permanent injunctions prohibiting future violations of the sections cited in the complaint. In addition, defendants Hwang and Tiger Asia will collectively pay disgorgement and prejudgment interest of US$19,048,787. Each also agreed to pay a penalty of  US$8,294,348. Park agreed to pay US$39,819 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest and a penalty of US$34,897.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of New Jersey announced a parallel criminal action against Tiger Asia. The disgorgement and prejudgment interest paid by defendants Hwang and Tiger Asia will be paid to the criminal authorities.

Conclusion

The availability of section 213 relief is of particular importance to the HK SFC in the context of combating market misconduct perpetrated by offshore market participants. A reason why the HK SFC opted for section 213 in pursuing its action against Tiger Asia was to avoid what it perceives as the slow and cumbersome procedure under the MMT regime, which can result in many years passing before a determination of a contravention is reached. In the absence of a relevant bilateral extradition agreement, it will often be difficult (if not impossible) for prosecutions to be made against the offshore wrongdoer.[7]

Moreover, section 213 is not limited to insider trading or market misconduct offenses, but also applies to alleged contraventions of any SFO provisions as well as certain provisions of the Companies Ordinance and the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorist Financing (Financing Institutions) Ordinance.[8]

The response of the HK SFC should also be taken as a solemn reminder for offshore wrongdoers who wish to take advantage of the difficulty of cross-country law enforcement: The HK SFC has instituted MMT civil proceedings (as criminal proceedings have been instituted in the United States) recently against Tiger Asia. This is the first time the HK SFC has instituted proceedings in the MMT directly. Meanwhile, proceedings under section 213 are expected to continue.

Across the Pacific, the SEC action against Tiger Asia illustrates the reach of the agency. Despite the clear ruling by the Supreme Court in Morrison v. National Australia Bank, Ltd.[9] that section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act does not reach transactions where the purchase or sale did not occur in the United States, the action brought here by the SEC relied in part on that provision.

Other courts have held that the Morrison limitation also applies to section 17(a) of the Securities Act, a second statute relied on by the SEC to bring this action. In contrast, at least one court has held that Morrison does not apply to sections 206(1) and (2) of the Investment Advisers Act. Whether the SEC would have been able to sustain this action in view of Morrison if the defendants had not elected to settle is at best problematic. Since the U.S. wire fraud statute on which the criminal case is based is not limited by Morrison, the U.S. Attorney did not face the same limitation in filing its charges.

–By Thomas O. Gorman, David A. Richardson and Eden McMahon, Dorsey & Whitney

LLP

[1] HCMP 1502/2009

[2] CACV 178/2011

[3] FACV Nos 10, 11, 12 and 13 of 2012

[4] This is the principal statutory weapon against fraud.

[5] This is a key anti-fraud provision in the Securities Act. It provides for liability for fraudulent sales of securities. Section 17(a) makes it unlawful to “employ any device, scheme or artifice to defraud,” “obtain money or property” by using material misstatements or omissions,” or to “engage in any transaction, practice or course of business which operates or would operate as a fraud or deceit upon the purchaser.” This provision is closely tracked by section 10(b) of the Securities Exchange Act.

[6] The sections laid down the prohibited transactions by registered investment advisers.

[7] The primary legislation governing the surrender of fugitive offenders between Hong Kong and the United States is the Fugitive Offenders Ordinance (Cap. 503) and the Fugitive Offenders (United States of America) Order (Cap. 503F), which contains the full text of the Agreement between Hong Kong and the United States for the Surrender of Fugitive Offenders signed in 1996. Another related legislation is the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters Ordinance (Cap. 525) and the Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (United States of America) Order (Cap. 525F), which implements the Agreement between the Government of Hong Kong and the Government of the United States of America on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters signed in 1997.

[8] Please see section 213 and Schedule 1 of the SFO.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

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