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

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC ReflectioFIRM UPDATE

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

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

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Obama went to state:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the GAO report states:

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

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

The GAO Report concludes at page 56-47:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are key points from these new regulations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

December 2016 will be a very important month for US importers because administrative reviews determine how much US importers actually owe in AD and CVD cases. Generally, the US industry will request a review of all Chinese companies. If a Chinese company does not respond in the Commerce Department’s Administrative Review, its AD and CVD rate could well go to the highest level and for certain imports the US importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

In my experience, many US importers do not realize the significance of the administrative review investigations. They think the AD and CVD case is over because the initial investigation is over.  Many importers are blindsided because their Chinese supplier did not respond in the administrative review, and the US importers find themselves liable for millions of dollars in retroactive liability.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA CHINESE VERSION OF THE ARTICLE

中国进口太阳能电池反倾销案即将到来的最后期限重返美国市场的机会

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEEL TRADE CASES

HOT ROLLED STEEL FLAT PRODUCTS

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

For those US import companies that imported : Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products, Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons, Off the Road Tires, Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars during the antidumping period September 1, 2015-August 31, 2016 or the countervailing duty period of review, calendar year 2015, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–DEVELOPMENTS IN TRADE POLICY, TRADE, PRODUCTS LIABILITY, 337/IP ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Shanghai Bund at Night China Flags Cars with Trademarks obscuredTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER JANUARY 13, 2016

Dear Friends,

This January newsletter will cover trade policy, trade, general litigation, 337/patents, antitrust and securities .

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE POLICY

TPP RUNS INTO HEADWINDS

As predicted in past blog posts, on December 28, 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Election Debate was complicating the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) in Congress. The Wall Street Journal specifically stated:

The trade agreement is expected to lead to some job losses and boost competition for some companies—including labor-intensive manufacturers and Detroit auto makers.

Still, many economists say it would generate overall gains to U.S. gross domestic product and increase incomes for many Americans in ways that improve the overall economy.

The TPP’s potential to create vocal middle-class losers makes the agreement harder to pass in an election year, since the winners, even if more numerous, are likely to be less motivated.

GOP lawmakers and officials, backed by big businesses, have more reliably supported trade agreements than Democrats, who tend to be closer to the labor movement. Among the broad electorate, blue-collar workers of both parties are skeptical of freer trade.

Recently Republican voters have emerged as bigger opponents, a shift not lost on the tea-party movement and Mr. Trump. In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 56% of Democrats said free trade is good for America, compared with 48% of Republicans.

Trade experts say Mr. Trump’s policies would make him, if elected, the biggest fan of tariffs since the late 19th century presidency of William McKinley. . . .

For Mr. Cruz or another GOP president, White House policy on trade would likely depend on whether the party is controlled by the pro-business wing that has dominated the party since World War II or shifts toward protectionist ideas espoused by Mr. Trump.

Meanwhile on December 10, 2015, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that there would be no vote on the TPP until after the election.  McConnell indicated that he was undecided on the vote, but he was sure that the TPP would be defeated if it were sent to Capitol Hill next spring or summer.  McConnell further stated:

“It certainly shouldn’t come before the election. I don’t think so, and I have some serious problems with what I think it is. But I think the President would be making a big mistake to try to have that voted on during the election. There’s significant pushback all over the place.

Yeah, I think it would be a big mistake to send it up before the election.

The next president, whoever that is, will have the authority to either revisit this one, if it doesn’t pass, or finish the European deal or other deals, and give Congress a chance to weigh in on it,”

McConnell who opposes the tobacco provisions in the TPP, has joined with Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), the Senate Finance Committee chairman, who was also a key supporter of the fast-track legislation, but has raised particular concerns about provisions related to pharmaceutical companies. Utah has a growing pharmaceutical industry.

McConnell’s and Hatch’s concerns have reduced the enthusiasm among the Republicans as the debate over trade policies on the 2016 campaign trail has become entangled in Presidential politics. Several top contenders for the GOP presidential nomination, including Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), have denounced the pact, and all of the Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Bernie Saunders, oppose it.

On January 7, 2016, however, the White House pushed for a TPP vote sooner rather than later, arguing for a quick vote warning that a delay of the vote to the lame-duck session of Congress or into the next administration would be a significant lost opportunity. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing that Congress should act quickly to ratify the plan amid recent turbulence in the China stock market, which some media reports have said is in its worst shape since the global financial crisis.  He further stated that the best way for the U.S. economy to weather volatility in international markets is through the TPP:

“I’m not suggesting that Congress should fast-forward through that process and vote today.  But I am suggesting that we should move expeditiously through this process and that Congress should not wait until the end of the year or even next year to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.”

One point in favor of TPP is that on January 4, 2016 the National Association of Manufacturers announced that they were in support of the TPP. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons stated:

“After careful analysis, the NAM will support the TPP as it will open markets and put manufacturers in a much stronger position to compete in an important and growing region of the world.

We recognize this agreement is not perfect, and there are some principled objections to the TPP, so the NAM will continue to work closely with its members to address remaining barriers.

Importantly, we encourage the administration to work closely with the industry, Congressional leaders and the other TPP governments to address these key issues.”

Subsequently, a coalition of top U.S. CEOs from the Business Roundtable gave the TPP a firm endorsement, but urged the Obama administration to quickly alter portions of the deal that are not up to par. As the Business Round Table International Engagement Committee stated:

“We want Congress to approve the TPP this year. To that end, we are urging the administration to quickly address the remaining issues that impact certain business sectors in order to ensure the broadest possible benefits to all sectors of U.S. business, which will enable the broadest support possible for the TPP.”

But in addition to tobacco and pharmaceutical problems in the TPP, another issue is banking and data flows. On January 12, 2016, in a letter to three Cabinet Secretaries, a bipartisan group of 63 Congressional representatives urged the Obama administration officials to correct the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s exclusion of financial services from the agreement’s e-commerce chapter, warning that the current text of the deal leaves banks exposed to risky data storage rules. The letter stated:

“Omission of these disciplines in the TPP is a missed opportunity to ensure that all U.S. companies benefit from strong rules prohibiting localization requirements. We note that such disciplines can be included in trade agreements while maintaining the ability of U.S. regulators to protect consumers through prudential regulation.”

The TPP’s e-commerce chapter contains a general ban on the localization of data through the establishment of expensive in-country servers. But the lawmakers argued that the banking, insurance and securities industries are not different from other sectors that depend on the unimpeded flow of data to keep their businesses running in the World marketplace.  The letter further states:

“These types of requirements not only impair the competitiveness of U.S. companies but also reduce overall data security and create inefficiencies. We request that your agencies use all available measures to address the existing gaps in the TPP. In addition, going forward, we request that there be a single approach that prohibits localization requirements in future trade and investment agreements.”

Recently, John Brinkley writing for Forbes rebutted many of the Arguments against the TPP.  See http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2016/01/13/for-trans-pacific-partnership-opponents-noting-short-of-perfect-will-suffice/#29e99cb6563d433c578b563d

TPP TEXT AND TRADE ADVISORY REPORTS

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

The attached text of the Agreement is over 6,000 pages, Chapters 3 – 30 – Bates 4116 – 5135 Chapters 1 – 2 – Bates 1 – 4115 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. All the reports can be found at https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/trans-pacific-partnership/advisory-group-reports-TPP and many of the reports are attached here, ITAC-16-Standards-and-Technical-Barriers-to-Trade Labor-Advisory-Committee-for-Trade-Negotiations-and-Trade-Policy ITAC-15-Intellectual-Property ITAC-9-Building-Materials-Construction-and-Non-Ferrous-Metals ITAC-10-Services-and-Finance-Industries ITAC-12-Steel ITAC-11-Small-and-Minority-Business ITAC-14-Customs-Matters-and-Trade-Facilitation ITAC-8-Information-and-Communication-Technologies-Services-and-Electronic-Commerce ITAC-6-Energy-and-Energy-Services ITAC-2-Automobile-Equipment-and-Capital-Goods ITAC-3-Chemicals-Pharmaceuticals-Health-Science-Products-and-Services ITAC-5-Distribution-Services Intergovernmental-Policy-Advisory-Committee-on-Trade ATAC-Sweeteners-and-Sweetener-Products ATAC-Grains-Feed-Oilseed-and-Planting-Seeds ATAC-Processed-Foods ATAC-Fruits-and-Vegetables ATAC-Animals-and-Animal-Products Agricultural-Policy-Advisory-Committee. Almost all of the reports are favorable, except for the Steel Report, which takes no position, and the Labor Advisory Report, which is opposed because it is the position of the Unions.

NEW TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL

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

A copy of the bill, the conference report and summary of the bill are attached, Summary of TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2015 CONFERENCE REPORT TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 20152 JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE. The bill has not yet passed the Senate.

CHINA’S NME STATUS—ANOTHER HOT TOPIC FOR 2016

Interest groups on both sides of the issue have increased their political attacks in the debate over China’s market economy status. On December 11, 2016, pursuant to the WTO Agreement, the 15 year provision, expires.

More specifically, the United States faces a looming deadline under the WTO Agreement with regard to the application of this nonmarket economy methodology to China. Section 15 of the China WTO Accession Agreement, which originated from the US China WTO Accession Agreement, provides:

  1. Price Comparability in Determining Subsidies and Dumping . . .

(a) In determining price comparability under Article VI of the GATT 1994 and the Anti-Dumping Agreement, the importing WTO Member shall use either Chinese prices or costs for the industry under investigation or a methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices or costs in China based on the following rules: . . .

(ii) The importing WTO Member may use a methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices or costs in China if the producers under investigation cannot clearly show that market economy conditions prevail in the industry producing the like product with regard to manufacture, production and sale of that product. . . .

(d) Once China has established, under the national law of the importing WTO Member, that it is a market economy, the provisions of subparagraph (a) shall be terminated provided that the importing Member’s national law contains market economy criteria as of the date of accession. In any event, the provisions of subparagraph (a)(ii) shall expire 15 years after the date of accession. In addition, should China establish, pursuant to the national law of the importing WTO Member, that market economy conditions prevail in a particular industry or sector, the non-market economy provisions of subparagraph (a) shall no longer apply to that industry or sector.

In other words, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, Commerce’s right to us a nonmarket economy methodology “shall expire 15 years after the date of accession”. China acceded to the WTO on December 11, 2001 so Section 15(d) should kick in on December 11, 2016.

That provision specifies that an importing WTO member may use a methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices and costs in China to determine normal value in an AD case, if producers of a given product under investigation cannot clearly show that market economy conditions prevail in their industry.

The question that is now being debated is whether Section 15(d) automatically ends the possibility of using a non-market economy methodology to China or if it can still be applied if petitioners can show that market conditions do not prevail for producers of the product under investigation.

In November 2015 European Union Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska told the European Parliament that geopolitical considerations must be weighed against the industrial interests of the EU in the evaluation of extending market economy status (NME) to China.

On October 30, 2015, it was reported that during a visit to China, German Chancellor Angela Merkel backs more ‘market economy status’ for China – with certain conditions. More specifically, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated:

“Germany supports, in general, China’s claim to get the market economy status. At the same time China has to do some homework, for example in the area of public procurement. But we want to advance the process – as we want to do that with the EU-China investment agreement.”

Under the NME methodology, administering authorities in countries administering antidumping laws, such as the US Commerce Department, do not use actual costs and prices in China to determine antidumping rates. Instead the administering authorities use values in various surrogate countries, which in the Commerce Department’s case, can change between preliminary and final determinations and various review investigations to determine the foreign value.  As a result, neither the Commerce Department nor other foreign countries can know whether China is truly dumping.

The European Union Industry commission is seen as strongly favoring a change to market economy status for China, but the European parliament has not taken such a strong stand.

In the U.S., the Commerce Department has taken the position that it will not automatically bestow market economy status on China, but will consider if it meets the statutory criteria for doing so in the context of a specific case if it receives a properly filed petition.

Other countries that are not likely to bestow automatic market economy status to China at the end of 2016 are Japan, Canada, Brazil and India.

On Dec. 30, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang made clear that China is pushing for the granting of market economy status, stating:

“We hope that the EU can set a good example in obeying the WTO rules and take substantive actions to meet its obligations under Article 15 of the Protocol, which will also facilitate the development of China-EU economic and trade ties.”

Steel industries and unions in both the US and EU are fighting hard against giving China market economy status. As indicated below, steel experts have been pointing to the large overcapacity of the Chinese steel industry.  But with almost all Chinese steel blocked from entry into the US by large antidumping and countervailing duties, it is questionable how much weight such arguments will be given.

The only two major Chinese steel products still coming into the US are galvanized and cold-rolled steel, and based on surrogate values, Commerce just issued very high antidumping and countervailing duty rates against both products, wiping them out of the US market. Currently, if not all, almost all, steel products from China are covered by an AD order and often also a CVD order, including carbon steel plate, hot rolled carbon steel flat products, circular welded carbon quality steel pipe, light walled rectangular pipe and tube, circular welded carbon quality steel line pipe, circular welded austenitic stainless pressure pipe, steel threaded rod, oil country tubular goods, prestressed concrete steel wire strand, seamless carbon and alloy steel standard line and pressure pipe, high pressure steel cylinders, prestreessed concrete steel rail tire wire, non-oriented electrical steel, and carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod.

On Dec. 22, the United Steelworkers (“USW”) union, according to a USW press release, held a private meeting in Minnesota with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, as well as Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Al Franken (D-MN), at which they discussed the “urgency of federal, state and local government authorities to provide more immediate relief against the global onslaught of steel imports that have shut down half of the region’s steel sector mining jobs,”  Emil Ramirez, director for USW District 11 — which covers Midwestern states including Minnesota, Missouri and Montana — said at the meeting that the union is “at war with China’s illegal steel imports flooding into our market.” He added that China had in some months in 2015 dumped more than 100,000 tons of cold-rolled steel into the U.S. market, contributing to mining job losses in Northern Minnesota’s so-called “Iron Range” A day later, the union welcomed what it called a “whopping” 255.8% preliminary AD rate on Chinese corrosion-resistant steel based on surrogate values, despite the fact that all the other antidumping rates against other countries based on actual prices and costs were in the single digits or 0s.

On October 26, 2015, Leo Gerard, who heads the Steel Union, sent the following attached letter,USW CHINA NME , to USTR Michael Froman about steel imports and China’s market economy status:

Dear Ambassador Froman:

I am writing to you regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the potential for U.S manufacturing interests to be adversely affected by how the European Union (EU) may change its current treatment of the People’s Republic of China (China) as a non-market economy.

As you well know, under the terms of China’s Protocol of Access to the World Trade Organization, other WTO members had the right to treat the PRC as a non-market economy (NME) for purposes of antidumping and countervailing duty laws. One clause regarding the treatment of China expires on December 11, 2016, but the remaining language continues to operate. This has led to an active effort by China to end its treatment as a non-market economy by those countries which continue to treat it as such so as to gain preferential treatment. The media has suggested that while the EU has not decided how it will proceed, an internal EU memo argues for granting market economy treatment. This memo is not yet public. How China is treated under U.S. and EU antidumping laws is critical to workers and companies in both countries. With massive distortions in most aspects of the Chinese economy, changing China’s status before their economy in fact operates on market principles on a sustained and verifiable basis will have far reaching consequences for workers, companies and communities across the U.S. and the EU. If the EU makes a change in treatment of China under its antidumping law when China has not in fact truly engaged in comprehensive reform of its economy, there will be broad repercussions for how fair market conditions will be assessed in Europe and, in terms of U.S. exports to the EU, could result in dramatically lower opportunities for the export of America’s manufactured products.

As noted, press reports indicate that the EU is considering granting China market economy status in the near future, despite overwhelming evidence of the continued state-led direction, intervention, subsidization and control of that country’s economy and its firms. If the EU chooses to grant China this preferential status, either for the country as a whole or for individual sectors or firms, it will subject U.S. products to a potential risk of having to compete against unfairly traded products in the EU and, potentially, as components in products shipped to the U.S. or to third country markets. Thus, the EU’s decisions in this area must be addressed as part of the ongoing TTIP negotiations and that any alterations in their treatment of China as a NME be subject to dispute resolution and potential compensation for any adverse effects it may have on the U.S., producers and workers

The TPP negotiations have overshadowed the TTIP negotiations and, as a result, many important issues are receiving limited attention. The EU’s potential actions in this area must not be viewed simply as a matter for the EU Commission to consider but, rather, must be addressed in terms of their potential impact on the U.S. manufacturing sector and its employees.

I look forward to working with you on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Leo W. Gerard

International President

CHINA CURRENCY APPROVED BY THE INTERENATIONAL MONETARY FUND AS A MAIN WORLD CURRENCY

In the past, one of the arguments that Commerce has used to deny China market economy status is that the Chinese yuan/RMB is not convertible.   On November 30, 2015, however, in the attached announcement, IMF PRESS RELEASE, the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) announced that the Chinese renminbi will become the fifth currency to be included in the organization’s international reserve asset that supplements member countries’ official reserves.

As the IMF stated the renminbi, or RMB, will join the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound on Oct. 1, 2016, in a basket of currencies known as the Special Drawing Right, which plays a critical role in providing liquidity to the global economic system, especially during financial crises, the IMF said.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde stated that the executive board’s decision is “an important milestone” recognizing China’s integration in the international financial system:

“It is also a recognition of the progress that the Chinese authorities have made in the past years in reforming China’s monetary and financial systems. The continuation and deepening of these efforts will bring about a more robust international monetary and financial system, which in turn will support the growth and stability of China and the global economy.”

Lagarde’s decision was based on a paper prepared by IMF staff, which determined that the RMB is a “freely usable” currency.

The IMF. designation, an accounting unit known as the special drawing rights, bestows global importance. Many central banks follow this benchmark in building their reserves, which countries hold to help protect their economies in times of trouble. By adding the renminbi to this group, the IMF effectively considers a currency to be safe and reliable.

EXIM BANK RISES FROM THE DEAD BUT THEN RUNS INTO A NEW ROADBLOCK

Congress let the Export-Import (“EXIM”) Bank’s lending authority expire after June 30, but a number of Republicans in the House of Representatives, including Congressman Dave Reichert, currently Chairman Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means,  joined Democrats to force a vote in October to resurrect the Bank. The House attached Ex-Im to a highway funding bill and stopped ten amendments that would have limited the bank’s scope. This highway/Ex-Im bill passed the House 363 to 64.  In December negotiators from both chambers of Congress reached an agreement that revived the bank’s lending authority through Sept. 30, 2019.

On December 3, 2015, the Senate passed the Transportation Bill with the Reauthorization of the EX-IM Bank, and on December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the bill into law.

The arguments for the EX-IM Bank are many, as Steve Myrow, who used to work at the EXIM Bank, stated in an Article in The Hill on July 9, 2014:

The debate over reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank has become the latest proxy battle between the conservative and establishment wings of the Republican Party. However, this issue should not be used as an ideological litmus test. Instead, it should evoke a practical and constructive dialogue about how best to level the playing field for American businesses overseas while protecting taxpayers here at home.

Founded in 1934, the Export-Import Bank’s mission has not changed throughout its 80-year history. Its raison d’être has always been to create jobs at home by financing the sale of American goods and services abroad. Ex-Im Bank does not compete with private-sector lenders, but rather seeks to match the foreign government support that U.S. firms’ foreign competitors enjoy.

When I served in the bank’s leadership in President George W. Bush’s administration, our overarching goal was to steer the bank between two beacons — one focused on creating jobs and the other on protecting the taxpayers.

We believed, as did members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, that an ideal way to navigate these two beacons was to convert the bank into one of the only truly self-sustaining government agencies.

By making the bank stand on its own two feet and rely solely on its revenue stream to fund its operations, we not only made it possible for companies to grow high-quality domestic jobs, but we earned a profit for the taxpayers.

Few government agencies can claim to have reduced the deficit, a fact that should be especially welcome during the current era of austerity.

Nevertheless, some of the bank’s Congressional detractors argue that it distorts the market by providing a subsidy. It’s true that in a perfect market, subsidies should not exist. But unfortunately, the real world is not a perfect market. Most countries that meaningfully benefit from international trade provide varying degrees of export subsidies.

Some identify specific firms as their national champions and others, like China, even provide financing on terms more akin to development assistance.

To put it another way, should the U.S. unilaterally disarm just because atomic weapons are undesirable? Of course not. We need a nuclear arsenal because other countries have them. The same is true for maintaining an export credit agency. Ex-Im Bank’s role is to ensure that U.S. exporters get a fair chance to compete based on quality, price and service, rather than on the basis of financing assistance.

For the full article, see http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international/211664-congress-should-bank-on-success

But despite the many arguments in favor of the EXIM bank and the passage of the reauthorization, EXIM is not out of the woods yet. Senator Shelby, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has held up nominations for the EXIM bank Board of Directors.  Because there is no quorum, the failure to appoint a new director means that no large projects, such as the sale of Boeing airplanes or sales of GE products, can be approved.

EXIM’s board of directors has only two of the five members it is supposed to have, including Chairman Fred Hochberg. That means it cannot approve loans above $10 million, which make up about a third, value-wise, of EXIM’s transactions.

More specifically, Democrats have sought consent for the nomination of Patricia Loui-Schmicker to the EXIM Bank board of directors, despite the fact that the White House sought a second term for her in March 2015. Loui-Schmicker is needed to give the Ex-Im bank five-member board a quorum. The panel reviews Ex-Im Bank loans above $10 million.

On January 11th, President Obama withdrew the nomination of Democrat Loui-Schmicker and nominated John Mark Mcwatters, a former staffer to House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, to fill one of the vacant Republican seats on the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors. McWatters’ former boss, Hensarling, chairman of the House’s Financial Services Committee, has led efforts to shut down the Export-Import Bank.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, who opposed Ex-Im’s reauthorization last year, however, has expressed little interest in acting on any nominees to fill its board openings. On January 11, 2016, Senator Shelby indicated that clearing the panel’s backlog of nominees might not see much progress before his March 1 primary in Alabama, stating, “I’m in the primary now.  That’s what’s going to eat a lot of my time up – always does.”

When asked about the McWatters nomination, to fill one of the vacant Republican seats on the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors, Shelby stated, “I’m in a primary right now. We’re in no hurry to hold hearings.”

As Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown stated, “The Ex-Im Bank can’t operate because the Senate Banking Committee won’t do its job.”

No wonder Boeing is going to manufacture airplanes in China.

TRADE

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS FINAL 2013-2014 REVIEW INVESTIGATION

On November 20, 2015, the Commerce Department issued the attached final determination in the 2013-2014 antidumping review investigation of aluminum extrusions from China, ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS FINAL. Based on surrogate values, Commerce issued antidumping rates of 86.01%, but for companies that did not cooperate, Commerce issued antidumping rates of only 33.28%.

In addition, in the attached Countervailing Final Determination for 2013, CVD Aluminum Extrusions 2013 Final Review Notice.3424528-01 CVD Aluminum Extrusions 2013 Decision Memo.3424530-01, Commerce issued a countervailing duty rate ranging from 3.59% to 222.82% with most companies receiving a rate of 61.36% rate.

MEXICO ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS PROBLEM

Meanwhile, US producers are growing concerned over a large stockpile of aluminum extrusions at a casting facility in Mexico. Aluminicaste Fundición de México S. de RL de CV, a producer of secondary billet, slab and forging billet, is storing around 850,000 tonnes of aluminum extrusions at its San José Iturbide, Mexico, facility.

It was reported that the extrusions had been shipped directly from extrusion plants in China and were being remelted into billet at the Mexico facility. The source told the American Metals Market:

“Yes, it’s about 850,000 (tonnes) on the ground. The quality of the metal is very good. It’s coming from billets that are extruded in China, shipped to Mexico, and made back into billet. They are currently casting at full capacity, which is about 100,000 (tonnes) per year.”

“It’s a lot of metal. Even me, I have not seen that much metal before. It was 300,000 (tonnes) about a year ago and quickly grew to 850,000 (tonnes).”

The practice of importing extrusions from China and remelting them into billet is not illegal or known to violate any law.

NEW TRADE CASES COMING—RAW ALUMINUM

In light of the impact of the aluminum extrusions case on the US market, the import problem has now moved upstream. The next round of antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China looks like it will be on raw aluminum products.

As indicated in the attached letter, NEW ALUMINUM CASES COMING, on November 24, 2015, the US Aluminum Association and the Canadian Aluminum Producers complained about Chinese aluminum production and the subsidies they receive:

Dear Secretary Kerry and Minister McKenna,

We write to you representing aluminum producers in the United States and Canada. We are concerned about China’s state-planned and carbon intensive aluminum industry which has amassed considerable overproduction. This not only leads to a distortion of international trade impacting our entire value chain, but also undermines global efforts to decarbonize the economy. . .  .

Only ten years ago China supplied 24% of the world’s primary aluminum. Today, spurred by energy subsidies, Chinese manufacturers have more than doubled their output and supply 52% of all primary aluminum produced globally. At the same time, this massive increase in production entails a significant environmental consequence.

Aluminum production in China is the most carbon intensive in the world, with its coal-based smelters emitting significantly more greenhouse gases per ton of aluminum than its North American counterparts. In fact, a ton of aluminum produced in China is at least twice as carbon-intensive as that same metal produced in North America. Given the rapid expansion of high-carbon aluminum production in China, many of the efficiency and emission reduction gains made by the global aluminum industry over the last several decades are being offset. . . .

The U.S. and Canadian aluminum industry is concerned that overproduction in China will continue unabated and is insufficiently regulated. These commitments represent a critical opportunity for China to advance energy efficiency and emissions reductions targets in support of global commitments to address climate change.

We appreciate your support to help us to reestablish fair trade conditions and to make a significant contribution to advancing a low-carbon global economy. . . .

Letters, like this, are usually a sign that an antidumping/countervailing duty case is coming. In addition, US aluminum producers have launched a new China Trade Task Force with their target being “illegal” Chinese government subsidies. In a letter to USTR Michael Froman, the US producers asked USTR to intervene on behalf of an industry that supports thousands of jobs:

“Illegal Chinese subsidies — such as direct grants, interest free loans, transfers of low cost state owned land, and preferential regulatory treatment — have collapsed the global price of aluminum.

This price drop has forced aluminum smelters across the United States to close while Chinese government continues to prop-up its producers through these unfair and illegal subsidies.”

THE ONGOING STEEL CASES

Many companies have been asking me about the ongoing Steel antidumping and countervailing duty cases so this section will address the Steel cases in more detail.

As happened in the OCTG cases, where Chinese OCTG was simply replaced by imports from Korea, India, Taiwan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Thailand and Turkey, the same scenario is happening in other steel cases, such as the recent cold-rolled and corrosion-resistant/galvanized steel cases.

Based on the nonmarket economy antidumping methodology, which does not use actual prices and costs in China, in the two recent cases Chinese steel companies were smashed with high antidumping rates of 200 to 300 percent. In the Cold Rolled Steel countervailing duty case, the Chinese companies and Chinese government simply gave up and received a rate over 200%.

But all the other countries, including Russia, which has market economy status, received antidumping rates in the single digits or 0s for no dumping. Steel will continue to flow into the United States in large amounts because such small antidumping and countervailing duty rates simply will have no effect.

The decisions also indicate why the Unions and the Steel industry will fight very hard in Congress and before the Administration to push the Commerce Department to continue using the nonmarket economy methodology against China. It easy for Commerce to find dumping when it uses fake numbers/surrogate values from third countries, which have no relationship to actual prices and costs in China.

COLD ROLLED STEEL FROM CHINA, BRAZIL, KOREA, INDIA AND RUSSIA

On December 16, 2015, Commerce issued its attached preliminary countervailing duty determination, factsheet-multiple-cold-rolled-steel-flat-products-cvd-prelim-121615, in Certain Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Brazil, China, India, and Russia and No Countervailable Subsidization of Imports of Certain Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Korea. The effect of the case is to wipe all Chinese cold rolled steel out of the United States with a countervailing duty (CVD) rate of 227.29%.

The 227.29% CVD rate for all the Chinese companies was based on all facts available as the Chinese government and the Chinese steel companies simply refused to cooperate realizing that it was a futile exercise to fight the case at Commerce because of the surrogate value methodology and refusal to use actual prices and costs in China.

As also predicted, the countervailing duty rates for all the other countries were very low, if not nonexistent: Brazil 7.42% for all companies, India 4.45% for all companies, Korea 0 for all companies and Russia 0 to 6.33% for all companies.

CORROSION RESISTANT STEEEL PRODUCTS—GALVANIZED STEEL PRODUCTS FROM CHINA, INDIA, ITALY, KOREA AND TAIWAN

On December 22, 2015, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-multiple-corrosion-resistant-steel-products-122215, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) investigations of imports of corrosion-resistant steel products from China, India, Italy, and Korea, and its negative preliminary determination in the AD investigation of imports of corrosion-resistant steel products from Taiwan.

China received antidumping rates of 255.8%, but antidumping rates from the other countries were very low.

India received rates ranging from 6.64 to 6.92%.  Italy received rates from 0 to 3.11%.  Korea received rates from 2.99 to 3.51%.  Taiwan’s antidumping rates were all 0s.

Although the US industry was pleased with the rate against China, AK Steel Corp. stated, “we are disappointed that the preliminary dumping margins for India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan were not higher as they do not appear to adequately address the dumping that we believe is occurring in the U.S. market.”

Because Commerce uses market economy methodology in antidumping cases against these countries, companies in those countries can use computer programs to eliminate or reduce significantly their antidumping rates. Foreign steel companies know they will be targeted by US antidumping and countervailing duty cases, and, therefore, prepare for such suits by eliminating the unfair acts.

The fact that the antidumping and countervailing duty rates in these cases are so low strongly indicate that the US Steel Industry’s problem is not steel imports. The problem is the US steel industry’s failure to modernize their facilities and remain competitive with the rest of the world.

In the parallel countervailing duty investigation, certain Chinese companies earned margins exceeding 235 percent while Taiwanese producers were given no CVD rates at all.

HOW NME METHODOLOGY IN ANTIDUMPING CASES LEADS TO OVER CAPACITY IN CHINESE STEEL AND ALUMINUM INDUSTRIES

Meanwhile, US experts complain about Chinese overcapacity in the Steel and Aluminum industries. In a December 1, 2015 article, one expert, Terence P. Stewart, Law Offices of Stewart and Stewart, which represents the Unions and various steel companies in US antidumping and countervailing cases against China, including the recent Off the Road Tires case against China, complained about Chinese overcapacity in the Steel and Aluminum industries and their distortive impact on the World steel and aluminum markets stating:

In the United States, the domestic steel industry is in the midst of a major crisis as they try to deal with waves of imports that seem to flow directly (i.e., imports from China) and indirectly (i.e., from other countries facing import challenges from China in their home markets and hence expanding their exports) from massive excess capacity in China and in other countries. . . .

The story is being repeated in the aluminum sector as well with many unwrought aluminum facilities being closed in the US and other western countries in recent years and some trade cases being filed. Indeed, Alcoa recently announced the idling of three facilities in the U.S. (New York and Washington) with a capacity of more than a half million tons —a significant portion of the remaining capacity in the United States. The problem again flows from massive excess capacity in China.

In both sectors, the underlying facts are similar. In the late 1990s, Chinese capacity amounted to 10-15 percent of global capacity. With massive government incentives, state ownership and support, by 2014 each industry had ballooned to have more than half of global capacity having accounted for nearly 80 percent of global capacity expansions. . . .

Without concerted efforts by China itself and its trading partners, the balance will be achieved only at the expense of countries that had nothing to do with the creation of the problem — a grossly inequitable and economically and politically unacceptable outcome. . . .

The Article goes on to complain that China should do this and do that, such as establishing “voluntary export restraints on all product sectors where it has serious excess capacity to reduce the problems it has created for its trading partners” and “China could implement the many remaining reforms needed to have its economy actually operate on market forces.” It should be noted that voluntary export restraints and prices floors are export restraints, which are specifically prohibited in the China-WTO Agreement.  In fact, when in the past the Chinese government tried to set price floors to deter dumping, the US government took the Chinese government to the WTO and US antitrust cases were filed against the Chinese companies.

The Article goes on to state:

All of China’s major trading partners need to encourage China to solve its internal problem quickly. Trading partners need to be prepared to act quickly to apply such pressure as will enable China to overcome any internal reluctance to face the significant challenges. This means using the tools that currently exist, including WTO disputes, to make clear the enormous damage being done to others by China’s subsidy practices. . . .

Finally, the U.S., EU and other trading partners with trade remedy laws that have found China to be a nonmarket economy, should ensure that their industries and workers can obtain the full measure of trade remedy relief existing laws, regulations and practices provide until such time as China has in fact achieved the serious reforms still needed for its economy to work on market principles.

Unfortunately, US industries and domestic experts never ask the real question. Why should the Chinese government and Chinese companies listen to these complaints when the US government and governments in other countries continue to attack China using antidumping and countervailing duty cases based on fake numbers?

As indicated above, US antidumping and countervailing duty orders and ongoing cases have the effect of blocking almost 100% of Chinese steel from the US market. Since the US steel industry, the Unions and their representatives have declared a trade war with China, why should the Chinese government and companies listen to the United States?

In talking with Chinese Government officials in the past, they told me that US antidumping cases could be ok because they could be used to regulate Chinese production. Some Chinese companies undoubtedly are truly dumping.  If Chinese companies get hit with real very high antidumping rates based on actual prices and costs in China, that could cause the company to shut down.

But when antidumping cases are based on phony numbers/surrogate values, which have no relationship to the actual situation in China, the US government creates a game and the Chinese government and the Chinese companies will simply play or not play the game. But they will not listen to sanctimonious arguments from US experts, who do not want the Chinese to compete on a level playing field with the US and other countries, such as Russia and Iran, and instead want to continue a trade war with China based on fake numbers.

SOLAR CELLS REVIEW DETERMINATION

On December 18, 2015, in the attached decision, the Commerce Department issued its preliminary determination in the 2013-2014 Solar Cells antidumping review investigation, SOLAR CELLS AD PRELIM. The antidumping rates range from 4.53% for Trina to 11.47% for Yingli.  The average dumping rate for the Chinese separate rate companies is 7.27%.

On December 31, 2015, Commerce issued its attached preliminary determination in the 2013 Countervailing duty case, DOC SOLAR CVD 2013, and the rates went up to 19.62% for three Chinese companies–JA Solar Technology Yangzhou Co., Ltd., Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd. and Wuxi Suntech Power Co., Ltd.

DRAWN STAINLESS STEEL SINKS FINAL

In the attached decision, on November 10, 2015, Commerce issued its final determination in the first 2012-2014 review in the Drawn Stainless Steel Sinks case with antidumping rates ranging from 2.82 to 9.83%, AD STEEL SINKS 2012-2014FED REG., AD DECISION MEMO 2012-2014

In addition, the countervailing duty rate for one company, Guangdong Dongyuan Kitchenware Industrial Co., Ltd. is  9.83%.  SeeCVD SINKS 2012-2013FEDREG

CIT REMANDS GLYCINE CASE BACK TO COMMERCE BECAUSE OF ITS PUNITIVE 453% ANTIDUMPING RATE.

On November 3, 2015, in Baoding Mantong Fine Chemistry Co., Ltd. v. United States, the Court of International Trade in the attached decision, BAODING VS US PUNITIVE CALCULATION, reversed the Commerce Department’ s determination in Glycine from China, holding that Commerce had issued a 453% punitive tariff against Baoding in violation of the remedial purpose of the statute. As the CIT stated:

“The court rules that Commerce failed to fulfill its obligation to determine the most accurate margin possible when it assigned Baoding a weighted average dumping margin of 453.79%, which on the record of this case was not realistic in any commercial or economic sense and punitive in its effect. The court directs Commerce to determine a new margin for Baoding that is the most accurate margin possible, that is grounded in the commercial and economic reality surrounding the production and sale of Baoding’s subject merchandise, and that is fair, equitable, and not so large as to be punitive.”

As Judge Stanceu further stated:

“In assigning Baoding such a huge margin, Commerce has lost sight of the purpose of the antidumping duty statute, which is remedial, not punitive. The 453.79 percent margin is undeniably punitive in effect, regardless of the department’s intent, and it violates the department’s obligation to treat every party before it fairly and equitably as well as the obligation to arrive at the most accurate margin possible.”

Judge Stanceu said the agency was misstating the law, and that the facts demonstrate that the margin assigned is “commercially impossible.”

ROLLR BEARINGS PRODUCED IN THAILAND FROM CHINA SUBPARTS CANNOT BE COVERED BY BEARINGS ORDER AGAINST CHINA

On December 22, 2015 in the attached decision, Peer Bearing Company-Changshan v. United States,PEER BEARING CASE, the Court of International Trade held that roller bearings made in Thailand from Chinese parts were not subject to an anti-dumping duty order against Chinese bearings because the production process in Thailand had the effect of substantially transforming the roller bearings into a product of Thailand, not China.

MELAMINE FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY ORDERS

On December 1, 2015, Commerce issued the attached antidumping and countervailing duty orders against Melamine from China, MELAMINE AD ORDERS. The Antidumping rate for China is 363.31% and the Countervailing Duties range from 154 to 156.9%.

LARGE RESIDENTIAL WASHERS FROM CHINA

On December 16, 2015, Whirlpool filed a major antidumping and countervailing duty case against Large Residential Washers from China. According to the Petition, the real target companies are the Korean companies, Samsung and LG, and their production facilities in China.

The specific products covered by the petition are:

the term “large residential washers” denotes all automatic clothes washing machines, regardless of the orientation of the rotational axis, with a cabinet width (measured from its widest point) of at least 24.5 inches (62.23 em) and no more than 32.0 inches (81.28 em), except as noted below.

Also covered are certain parts used in large residential washers, namely: (1) all cabinets, or portions thereof, designed for use in large residential washers; (2) all assembled tubs designed for use in large residential washers which incorporate, at a minimum: (a) a tub; and (b) a seal; (3) all assembled baskets 11 designed for use in large residential washers which incorporate, at a minimum: (a) a side wrapper; 12 (b) a base; and (c) a drive hub; 13 and (4) any combination of the foregoing parts or subassemblies.

Excluded from the scope are stacked washer-dryers and commercial washers. The term “stacked washer-dryers” denotes distinct washing and drying machines that are built on a unitary frame and share a common console that controls both the washer and the dryer. The term “commercial washer” denotes an automatic clothes washing machine designed for the “pay per use” segment . . .

The relevant pages of the petition, including the full scope, the list of Chinese exporters and US importers, are attached, Whirlpool Petition Scope Exporters Importers 121615.

NEW OFF THE REOAD TIRES CASE

On January 8, 2016, Titan Tire Corporation (Titan) and the United Steel, Paper, and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, ALF-CIO (USW) filed a new antidumping and countervailing duty case against Pneumatic Off-the-Road Tires from India, China and Sri Lanka.  The relevant parts of the petition, including the scope and the list of Chinese exporters and US importers, are attached, US Importers Pneumatic Tires Petition Volume I General Issues Injury Cover Scope 1-8-16 Chinese Exporters Pneumatic Tires .

The specific products covered by this antidumping and countervailing duty case are:

New pneumatic tires designed for off-the-road (OTR) and off-highway use, subject to exceptions identified below. Certain OTR tires are generally designed, manufactured and offered for sale for use on off-road or off-highway surfaces, including but not limited to, agricultural fields, forests, construction sites, factory and warehouse interiors, airport tarmacs, ports and harbors, mines, quarries, gravel yards, and steel mills. . . . .

While the physical characteristics of certain OTR tires will vary depending on·the specific applications and conditions for which the tires are designed (e.g., tread pattern and depth), all of the tires within the scope have in common that they are designed for off-road and off-highway use.

Except as discussed below, OTR tires included in the scope of the proceeding range in size (rim diameter) generally but not exclusively from 8 inches to 54 inches. The tires may be either tube-type40 or tubeless, radial or non-radial, and intended for sale either to original equipment manufacturers or the replacement market.

Certain OTR tires, whether or not attached to wheels or rims, are included in the scope. However, if a subject tire is imported attached to a wheel or rim, only the tire is covered by the scope. Subject merchandise includes certain OTR tires produced in the subject countries whether attached to wheels or rims in a subject country or in a third country. . . .

This is the second antidumping and countervailing duty case the USW has filed against off-the-road tires from China. The USW stated that un-mounted off-the-road tires from China are already covered by antidumping and countervailing duty orders, but that mounted tires from China are not subject to those duties. Thus, this second case has been brought to close the loophole.

Some of the Chinese companies named in the complaint are: BDP Intl Ltd (China), Betel Holding Group, Lizhong Group, Qingdao Huifuxin Tyre, Qingdao J & G International Trading Co., Qingdao Keter Tyre, Qingdao Milestone Tyres Co., Ltd., Qingdao Rhino International Co., Ltd., Qingdao STW Tire Co., Ltd., Qingdao Tide Tire, Shandong Hawk International Rubber Industry Co., Ltd., Shandong Taishan Tyre Co., Ltd. Shandong Zhaoyuan Shengrun Wheel Assembly Co., Ltd. Shandong guanxian Cartwheel Co., Ltd., Shenzhen CJG Model Products, THI Group Ltd., Trans Knight Inc., relleborg China/Trelleborg Wheel Systems (Xingtai) Ltd. , Weifang Jintongda Tyre Co., Ltd., Weifang Lutong Rubber Co., Ltd., Weihai Zhongwei Rubber Co., Ltd., Wendeng Sanfeng Tyre Co., Ltd., Wenling Yaoding Machinery Co., Ltd., Wuxi Kinetic Machinery Co., Ltd., Wuxi Superior Wheel Company LLC, Xingyuan Tire Group, Yantai Wonray Rubber Tire Co. Ltd.

JANUARY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On January 4, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, DOC JAN 2016 REVOEW INVESTIGATIONS AD AND CVD OPPTY, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of January . The specific antidumping cases against China are: Calcium Hypochlorite, Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod, Crepe Paper Products, Ferrovanadium, Folding Gift Boxes, Potassium Permanganate, and Wooden Bedroom Furniture.

The specific countervailing duty cases are: Calcium Hypochlorite, Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod, Certain Oil Country Tubular Goods, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe.

For those US import companies that imported Calcium Hypochlorite, Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod, Crepe Paper Products, Ferrovanadium, Folding Gift Boxes, Potassium Permanganate, and Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China during the antidumping period January 1, 2015-December 31, 2015 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

In my experience, many US importers do not realize the significance of the administrative review investigations. They think the antidumping and countervailing duty case is over because the initial investigation is over. Many importers are blindsided because their Chinese supplier did not respond in the administrative review, and the US importers find themselves liable for millions of dollars in retroactive liability.  In the recent Solar Cells 2012-2013 final review determination, for example, the following Chinese companies were determined to no longer be eligible for a separate antidumping rate and to have the PRC antidumping rate of 298:

(1) Shanghai Suntech; (2) Wuxi Sunshine; (3) Changzhou NESL Solartech Co., Ltd.; (4) CSG PVTech Co., Ltd.; (5) Era Solar Co., Ltd.; (6) Innovosolar; (7) Jiangsu Sunlink PV Technology Co., Ltd.; (8) Jiawei Solarchina Co., Ltd.; (9) Jinko Solar Co., Ltd.; (10) LDK Solar Hi-tech (Suzhou) Co., Ltd.; (11) Leye Photovoltaic Science Tech.; (12) Magi Solar Technology; (13) Ningbo ETDZ Holdings, Ltd.; (14) ReneSola; (15) Shanghai Machinery Complete Equipment (Group) Corp., Ltd.; (16) Shenglong PV-Tech; (17) Solarbest Energy-Tech (Zhejiang) Co., Ltd.; (18) Suzhou Shenglong PV–TECH Co., Ltd.; (19) Zhejiang Shuqimeng Photovoltaic Technology Co., Ltd.; (20) Zhejiang Xinshun Guangfu Science and Technology Co., Ltd.; (21) Zhejiang ZG-Cells Co., Ltd.; (22) Zhiheng Solar Inc.; and (23) LDK Hi-Tech Nanchang Co., Ltd.

GENERAL LITIGATION AND ARIBITRATION

DORSEY VICTORY IN SUPREME COURT HELPS FOREIGN COMPANIES

On December 1, 2015 the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that Dorsey’s client, OBB Personenverkehr AG (“OBB”), the national railway of the Republic of Austria, is entitled to foreign sovereign immunity in a lawsuit filed against it in federal court by a United States resident who was injured while boarding OBB’s train in Innsbruck, Austria.

The decision, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, has broad application and is significant in confirming that there are limits to the reach of American courts. It establishes that, in the commercial context, in order for a United States court to exercise jurisdiction over a foreign state, or an agency or instrumentality of a foreign state, the claims must be “based upon” commercial activity that occurred within the territorial limits of the United States. In reversing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court rejected the notion that a foreign state-owned railway could be sued in the United States, simply based upon the purchase of a Eurail pass on the Internet from a United State travel agency, curtailing the impact of the Internet on the jurisdictional reach of United States courts.  Instead, the Supreme Court held that courts must focus on what is “the ‘particular conduct’ that constitutes the ‘gravamen’ of the suit,” or its “essentials,” which here, was the accident that took place in Austria. In this case, the injured passenger could have sued in Austria instead, which forum afforded adequate legal remedies.

Dorsey lawyer Juan Basombrio, who argued the case before the Supreme Court on behalf of OBB, notes that the decision is significant from an international business and legal perspective: “Whereas the Ninth Circuit’s decision would have dragged foreign states and their agencies into United States court, the Supreme Court’s decision recognizes the importance of international comity; that is, the respect that nations afford to the courts of other nations with respect to matters that occur within their territory.”

Juan further notes that, “In a world that has become increasingly connected by international commercial transactions, and where there is also increasing friction in the relations between the United States and other nations, this is a seminal and important decision that will foster harmony between the United States and other nations at least in the commercial context.” Juan  explains that, “From the perspective of American business, this decision also will incentivize other nations to adopt similar rulings, which will protect American businesses from being dragged into court overseas.”

Finally, “The unanimous decision of the Supreme Court,” according to Juan, “also underscores that the Supreme Court is not a fractured Court, as it has been recently criticized, but instead can and has spoken with one voice in this important area of the law, which involves the foreign relations of the United States.”

Dorsey represented OBB at all stages of the litigation. Juan was lead counsel on the case from the trial court through the Supreme Court argument.

UKRAINE ATTACKS RUSSIA USING ARBITRATION

Ukrainian companies have initiated five arbitration proceedings against Russia that range from approximately $20 million to $1 billion.  The cases have been brought by a number of Ukrainian businesses including Ukraine’s largest bank, a real estate investment company, several petrol stations and a private airport.

The claims have been brought under a 1998 bilateral investment treaty meant to encourage economic cooperation and expansion between Ukraine and Russia and are to recover for alleged losses incurred after Russian troops invaded Crimea in 2014 and shut down or nationalized Ukrainian businesses without paying for them.

The claims were lodged at various times in the first half of 2015 in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, an intergovernmental organization with approximately 115 member states. The parties that launched the claims include PrivatBank & Finance Co. Finilon LLC, or PrivatBank; and PJSC Ukrnafta, which is both publicly and privately owned and is one of Ukraine’s largest oil and gas companies.

The lawyer representing the Ukrainian companies stated:

Apparently, the bilateral investment treaty permits the investors of one country whose property has been appropriated by the other country to launch private arbitration proceedings either under the rules governing the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce or the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

337

On November 10, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in the attached Clear Correct v. ITC, CLEAR CORRECT V ITC, held that the International Trade Commission (“ITC”)  does not have the authority to expand the scope of Section 337 Intellectual property (“IP”) investigations to cover electronic transmissions of digital data imported into the United States.  In a 2-1 decision, the Court determined that such an expansion would:

run counter to the “unambiguously expressed intent of Congress.” . . . . Here, it is clear that “articles” means “material things,” whether when looking to the literal text or when read in context “with a view to [the term’s] place in the overall statutory scheme.” . . . . We recognize, of course, that electronic transmissions have some physical properties—for example an electron’s invariant mass is a known quantity—but common sense dictates that there is a fundamental difference between electronic transmissions and “material things.” . .  .

NEW 337 CASES

On November 5, 2015, Hydor USA, Inc. filed a section 337 case against imports for certain aquarium fittings and parts thereof from a Chinese company, Jebao Co., Ltd in Zhongshan City, Guangdong province, China.

On November 12, 2015, Belkin International, Inc. filed a section 337 case against imports of Computer Cables, Chargers, Adapters, Peripheral Devices and Packaging from China. The proposed respondents are: Dongguan Pinte Electronic Co., Ltd., China; and Dongguan Shijie Fresh Electronic Products Factory, China.

On November 17, 2015, FeraDyne Outdoors, LLC and Out RAGE, LLC filed a section 337 case against Arrowheads With Deploying Blades against the following Chinese respondents: Linyi Junxing Sports Equipment Co., Ltd., China; Ningbo Faith Sports Co., Ltd., China; Ningbo Forever Best Import & Export Co. Ltd., China; Ningbo Linkboy Outdoor Sports Co, Ltd., China; Shenzhen Zowaysoon Trading Company Ltd., China; Xiamen Xinhongyou Industrial Trade Co., Ltd., China; Xiamen Zhongxinyuan Industry & Trade Ltd., China; Zhengzhou IRQ Trading Limited Company, China; and Zhenghou Paiao Trade Co., Ltd., China.

On January 8, 2016, Covidien LP filed a section 337 case against imports of Surgical Stapler Devices from Chongqing QMI Surgical Co., Ltd., China.

CRIMINAL PATENT CASES

On January 5th, in U.S. v. Pangang Group Co. Ltd., the US government brought the attached criminal indictment, CHINA INDICTMENT, against Pangang Group Co. Ltd., a state-owned Chinese steel company, alleging that Pangang engaged in economic spying and stole manufacturing trade secrets from DuPont Co. through a California businessman and a former DuPont engineer, who have been sent to prison for their crimes.

Prosecutors claim Pangang stole trade secrets held by DuPont covering its proprietary method of manufacturing titanium dioxide, which is used to make cars, paper and other items appear whiter.

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

On November 4, 2015, SATA GmbH & Co. KG, a German corporation, filed a counterfeit trademark case against Zhejiang Refine Wufu Airt Tools Co., Ltd. and Prona Tools Inc. COUNTERFEIT SPRAY PAINT GUNS

On November 23, 2015, Penn Engineering & Manufacturing Corp. filed, a patent, trademark infringement and counterfeit case against Pemco Hardware, Inc., Dongguan Fenggang Pemco Hardware Factory, and Shenzhen Pemco Fastening Systems :Co., Ltd. PENN DONGGUAN

On December 3, 2015, Fellowship Filtering Technologies filed a patent case against Alibaba and Taobao Holding Ltd. and other Alibaba and Taobao companies. ALIBABA PATENT CASE

PRODUCTS LIABILITY CASES

On November 9, 2015, Neoteric Solution Inc. d/b/a Wowparts filed a products liability case against batteries supplied by Dongguan Hosowell Technology Co., Ltd, and Hosowell (HK) Technology Co., Ltd.DONGGUAN HOUSEWELL

On November 12, 2015, Momo Ren and Miao Xin Hu filed a class action products liability case for misbranding egg roll packages against Domega NY International Ltd., Dongguan City Tongxin Food Co., Ltd. and Net A Generation Food Stuffs Co., Ltd. EGG ROLL CASE

On November 23, 2015, Stephen and Diane Brooke filed a class action products liability case in the drywall area against The State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council; Taishan Gypsum Co., Ltd. f/k/a Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co., Ltd.; Tai’an Taishan Plasterboard Co., Ltd.; Beijing New Building Materials Public Limited Co.; China National Building Material Co., Ltd.; Beijing New Building Materials (Group) Co., Ltd.; and China National Building Materials Group Corporation. BROOKE TAISHAN SAC

ANTITRUST

There have been developments in the antitrust area.

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

T&D NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER REPORT

In December and January T&D sent us their attached November and December reports on Chinese competition law. T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of November 2015 T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of December 2015

In early January 2016, T&D also sent us the latest attached draft translated into English of IPR Anti-monopoly Guideline from the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) released on the last day of 2015, i.e. December 31, 2015. IPR Guideline (draft) 20151231-EN

SECURITIES

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT

Recently, Dorsey& Whitney LLP issued its attached December 2015 Anti-Corruption Digest,AntiCorruptionDigestDec2015. The Digest states with regards to China:

China: Setback in the Anti-Corruption Campaign

It has been reported that President Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign has suffered a setback after a prominent official of the inspection team in charge of the government’s anti-corruption efforts, Liu Xiangdong, was removed from his post after allegedly being in possession of more than $31 million (£20 million) in cash.

Mr. Liu was accused of “violating inspection rules and leaking related secrets” and accepting large bribes. He was also stripped of his Communist Party membership and removed from his position, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s top anti- corruption committee, said in a statement on its website.

China: Corruption in the Education Sector

China’s anti-corruption campaign has already touched many of the country’s sectors and has now extended to the education sector with a number of officials at the Communication University of China being targeted.

The president of the university, Su Wuzhi, was reportedly removed from his post for having an office that was “severely beyond the official standards, using university funds to hold banquets in public venues and putting gifts sent to the university on display in his own office without registering them.”

Lv Zhisheng, the vice president of the university, was also removed from office for allegedly failing to enforce frugality rules, leading to “chaos in financial management” of the institution, such as expenditures in “fancy cars” which exceeded budgets.

An official announcement from the Education Ministry is said to have called for increased monitoring of the education sector to ensure that “the high aims” of the party were upheld.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On November 24, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an insider trading case against two Chinese individuals, Yue Han and Wei Han, who presently reside in China. SEC VERSUS HAN

On November 24, 2015, Amy Liu and a number of individuals filed a class action securities case for fraud against China North East Petroleum Holdings Ltd. (“CNEP”). Defendant CNEP is a Nevada corporation with its sole asset being ownership of Song Yrun North East Petroleum Technical Services Co., Ltd, a subsidiary operating in China. On September 5, 2013 CNEP transferred all CNEP assets and all CNEP liabilities to Ju Guizhi, a CNEP director and mother of CNEP CEO Wang Hongiun, for the purpose of effecting a merger into CLP Huaxing Equity Changchun City Investment Limited (“CLP”), a limited liability chinese corporation majority owned and controlled by Ju Guizhi and Wang Hongiun, NEVEDA SHAREHOLDERS SUIT.

On December 10, 2015, Shouming Zhang, a Chinese individual, filed the attached fraud case against several US companies and a Chinese individual alleging three Los Angeles-area companies and an attorney of swindling her into investing in an $8 million business deal with promises that she would obtain an EB-5 visa, CHINA NATIONAL COMPLAINT EB5.

Shoumin Zhang — whose visa application was denied — accuses Arcadia, California-based Americana One LLC of committing fraud and breach of contract by luring her into paying $500,000 for the supposed renovation of a commercial building. Zhang says that after she discovered the $8 million investment was a fraud, she visited the U.S. to personally ask AFRC and Americana One to seek a refund of her money.

Through the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, the U.S. government offers EB-5 visas to foreigners who make certain business investments in the country. A website for AFRC offers consultations for the program, which allegedly requires only $500,000 of investment in exchange for permanent resident status in the U.S.

On December 14, 2015 Sally Mogle filed a class action securities case against Mattson Technology, Inc., Beijing E-Town Dragon Semiconductor Industry Investment Center and Dragon Acquisition Sub, Inc. and a number of individuals. BLOCK SEMICONDUCTOR ACQUISITION

On December 22, 2015, Philip Durgin filed a class action securities case against Mattson Technology, Inc., Beijing E-Town Dragon Semiconductor Industry Investment Center and Dragon Acquisition Sub, Inc. and a number of individuals. BEIJING DRAGON

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

US CHINA TRADE WAR–DEFAULT DANGERS, TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP IN JEOPARDY, TRADE, CUSTOMS ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

US Capital Pennsylvania Avenue After the Snow Washington DCTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER

Dear Friends,

There have been some major developments in litigation, including dangers of default judgments, trade, Solar Cells, Chinese Antidumping, patents, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

January was a very important month for US Trade Policy because of the problems with the Trade Promotion Authority/Fast Track Trade Bill and the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and Trans- Atlantic (“TA”) Trade Agreements in Congress.  Literally there have been day to day developments culminating with President Obama’s January 28th State of the Union address followed by the January 29th decision of Senate Majority leader Harry Reid to oppose the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) Bill and the TPP and TA Negotiations.

As described below, Senator Reid’s decision to not allow the TPA bill to be introduced in the Senate may be the day free trade died.  If Senator Reid’s decision becomes final, this will have a dramatic impact on all trade relations, including trade relations with China, as the United States becomes more and more protectionist.

US LITIGATION AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES—DANGERS OF DEFAULT

Recently through a Chinese law firm a Chinese company approached us because they were facing a US trademark case brought by a competitor in the United States.  The company’s question, why respond?  We are a Chinese company and you cannot catch us and make us pay damages in the United States.

We pointed out that the trademark case in question is a tough case for the Plaintiffs to prove because the trademarks in question are not registered marks and are common law marks.  If the Chinese company fights the case, it would have a good chance of winning the case.  But if the Chinese company defaults, it loses the right to contest the merits of the case.

In antidumping and countervailing duty cases, Chinese companies with US import operations have also told us, “Don’t worry.  We will never pay antidumping and countervailing duties; they cannot catch us in China.”  The times, however, are changing.

In many US cases against Chinese companies in Federal District Court, Plaintiffs are asking for damages, an injunction and punitive damages.  If the Chinese company wants to sell its products in the United States again, it has to fight.  If it does not fight, when the Chinese company sells its products in the United States, those products, including all inventory and accounts receivable, can be attached to satisfy the judgment.

Moreover, when a default judgment is for money damages, the US company is seeking to collect actual damages, interest from the date of the judgment or before, statutory damages, possibly punitive damages and attorney’s fees, which eventually will total millions of dollars.  If the Chinese company has a strong legal argument against the US Plaintiff, when it defaults, the Chinese company loses the right to make those legal arguments.

Moreover, this is no longer the 1990s or even early 2,000s.  Over the last two decades, Chinese companies have grown up and have bank accounts and assets/money and subsidiaries all over the world.  But that means it is easier for US judgment holders to collect money on their default judgments against Chinese companies.

If the Chinese company continues to do business in the US in the face of a default judgment, Plaintiffs can attach the company’s assets.  U.S. Marshalls can show up at a U.S. trade show and take all the company’s trade show materials to satisfy the judgment.  US Marshalls can go to warehouses where the company stores its products and take them.  US plaintiffs can go after the Chinese company’s accounts receivable.  The US Plaintiffs and their US lawyers can attach or garnish the Chinese company’s bank accounts–in the U.S., Hong Kong, the EC, Taiwan and countries all over the World where US judgments are enforceable and also now in China itself.

If the Chinese company banks with a Chinese bank that has a branch in the U.S., such as New York, Plaintiffs will garnish that branch bank and go after the China company’s  assets/bank accounts located in any of the bank’s other branches, wherever located, including China.

In 2010 a US inventor sued Chinese tire companies in Shandong Province for patent infringement and unfair competition in a Federal District Court in Virginia.  The Chinese companies did not fight the case and the Federal District Court entered a default judgment for $26 million.

In September 2013, in the attached complaint TIRES COLLECTION CASE the US law firm and inventor sued the Chinese Industrial and Commercial Bank Branch in New York City, saying give the US Plaintiffs the records and assets of these companies in China to satisfy the US $26 million judgment.  If the Chinese bank branch refuses to pay, the Bank could face fines of $100,000 a day, as an example.

Under the Single Entity Doctrine, US Federal Courts have held that if the Court has jurisdiction over the Chinese bank branch, it has jurisdiction over the bank worldwide.  If a Chinese company has any bank accounts in Chinese banks, such as the Bank of China or the Industrial and Commerce Bank, those banks have branches in New York City and the Chinese company can be attacked through its bank.  We are presently representing a Chinese Bank in a similar case and have 30 lawyers working full time on the case in Guangzhou on discovery.

The point is that Chinese companies can run, but they cannot hide.  If a Chinese company defaults in US litigation, it can be attacked in the US, Hong Kong, Taiwan, EC, Canada and many other countries, and now China through Chinese bank branches in the US.  So when a Chinese company defaults in US litigation, it puts the entire company at risk.

On the other hand, if the Chinese company decides to fight the case and hire a US lawyer, it may be able to pay a small amount of money as compensation or simply change its product or trade dress slightly and settle the entire case.  In many cases, if the Chinese company fights, it may be able to win the entire case and in certain situations get money from the US company bringing the case.

Ignoring US litigation is like picking up the sesame and losing the watermelon.  If the Chinese company does business in the United States and intends to continue to do business in the United States, trying to avoid service or defaulting after service may materially damage its business.  It will certainly materially damage its ability to do business in the United States.  The costs of default may be significant and far greater than that which would be necessary to defend against the US lawsuit.

TRADE

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—TPP AND BALI/DOHA ROUND

As mentioned in my past newsletter, in the trade world, the most important developments may be the WTO negotiations in Bali and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic (TA) negotiations with the EC.  Experts have estimated that TPP and TA Agreements could increase global business by several trillion dollars, if they can be concluded and implemented. These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues becomes a focal point in Congress and many Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

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

This rising protectionism in Congress directly threatens the TPP and all future trade deals with China and many other countries.

TPP NEGOTIATIONS MAY END AS SENATOR MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID REFUSES TO LET THE TPA BILL GET TO THE SENATE FLOOR

As the Doha Round chances went up, the chance of TPP and TA Agreements fell down and may have fallen down completely.  As mentioned in my last post, USTR and US government officials were predicting that the TPP negotiations would conclude at the end of the year with an Agreement.  That is not going to happen.  The Congressional problems regarding the TPP have grown larger and larger and, in fact, may now be insurmountable.

Although the TPP does not include China, China is the elephant in the room and so its presence is very much in the mind of all the negotiators and the political powers in the United States.  The public reaction to TPP and the TPA, which is needed to conclude the TPP agreement, in part, is a reaction to trade with China and is a reflection of public and political attitudes in the United States to trade with China.

In January the TPP and Trans-Atlantic Agreements have created high drama on Capitol Hill as there have been literally day to day developments.

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY (“TPA”)

On January 9, 2014, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican, of the Senate Finance Committee and Representative Dave Camp, Republican, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced the attached Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014. HOUSE FAST TRACK BILL 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.

In introducing the new Trade Priorities Act, Senator Baucus stated that “This is our opportunity to tell the Administration – and our trading partners – what Congress’ negotiating priorities are.  TPA legislation is critical to a successful trade agenda. It is critical to boosting U.S. exports and creating jobs. And it’s critical to fueling America’s growing economy.”

According to Senator Hatch, “Every President since FDR has sought trade promotion authority from Congress because of the job-creating benefits of trade. Renewing TPA will help advance a robust trade agenda that will help American businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers by giving them greater access to overseas markets.”

The TPA Bill set out a clear directive on currency manipulation, provided greater transparency and gave Congress greater oversight of the Administration’s trade negotiations.

Both Senators Baucus and Hatch and Congressman Camp called TPA a “vital tool” as the U.S. continues TPP negotiations as well as free trade TA agreement talks with the European Union (EU).   The National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation quickly got behind the proposal and urged Congress to quickly pass it

As mentioned in past posts, however, the Administration considers the TPP negotiations to be secret and has not released any official negotiating texts.  Thus opposition is growing in Congress.  In November 2013, a group of over 170 lawmakers in the House sent letters to the President saying they opposed fast-track authority because modern trade agreements affect so many policies under Congress’ purview, and it should have much larger role in shaping the terms of the Agreements.

Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, stated that he was developing alternative legislation

On January 10th, it was reported that with opposition growing in Congress and the upcoming midterm elections, President Obama was going to have to mount a very serious lobbying effort to move the TPA legislation through Congress.  The proposed TPA legislation has drawn strong opposition from labor unions, including the AFL-CIO, which vowed to “actively work to block its passage,” and also environmental groups like the Sierra Club and consumer advocacy groups like Public Citizen.  Many Congressmen and Senators, especially on the Republican side of the aisle, stated that moving the TPA bill through Congress would require a strong lobbying effort on the part of the Obama administration, possibly even including remarks about TPA in the 2014 State of the Union address.

Prospects for a fast-track bill moving forward in 2014 are further complicated by the Congressional elections in November.  The TPA Bill is a test of the administration’s influence and clout on Capitol Hill and right now the Administration’s clout on Capitol Hill is very weak.  The TPA fight is a fight over a number of different issues and the extent to which Congress can influence the negotiating process.

Typically multi-national corporations strongly back free-trade agreements. The Chamber of Commerce, which sometimes spends more than $100 million lobbying a year, and the Business Roundtable, were quick to put out statements supporting the legislation. Also weighing in was a coalition called Trade Benefits America, which includes companies ranging from General Electric Corp. to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

On January 15th it was reported that President Obama could not find one Democratic Congressman in the House of Representatives to co-sponsor the TPA bill. Meanwhile, the bill’s main Democratic backer in the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, is retiring from the Senate and on his way out to be Ambassador to China, and key senior Democratic Senators on the committee, including Senator Wyden, its incoming chairman, say they either don’t support the bill or want to change it.

Democratic Reps. George Miller of California, Louise Slaughter of New York and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut said of the proposed TPA Bill: “Our constituents did not send us to Washington to ship their jobs overseas, and Congress will not be a rubber stamp for another flawed trade deal that will hang the middle class out to dry.”

The free-trade push joins a growing list of policies Obama has championed that are unpopular with Democrats.  Both Republican and Democratic Members complained that the Obama administration’s outreach on trade has been disorganized.

Another Democratic complaint is that the negotiations for both trade deals are confidential and too far along for Congress to play a meaningful role in their outcome. Five influential Senate Democrats told U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman that they won’t support the trade promotion authority bill without assurances that Congress can hold U.S. trade negotiators “more accountable” during the talks, rather than after a deal is finished and lawmakers can only cast up-or-down votes.

For Republicans, Democrats used pro-trade votes to blast GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and House Republicans in the Midwest states and elsewhere as supporters of outsourcing jobs.  According to one GOP leader in the House, given Obama’s political problems within his own party, House Republicans are insisting that Democrats deliver at least 50 votes in support of the bill, including at least one from the party’s leadership, before they’ll bring it to the floor.

On January 16, 2013, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the TPA Bill and the TPP and TA negotiations, but USTR refused to send a witness.  Many industry witnesses did appear, however.  See http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=bd99ab08-5056-a032-523f-27ddae65e3d0 for a video of the hearing.  The failure of USTR to show up at the hearing illustrated the difficulty ahead for the TPP.

At the hearing in the attached statement LARRY COHEN TESTIMONY TPP DIFFICULTY Labor Leader Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America, a union, spoke against the TPP, stating:

 

“Free trade agreements have been devastating for our balance of trade. In 1993, the year before the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), our trade deficit in goods was -$132 billion or -1.9 percent of our GDP. By 2012, our trade deficit ballooned to -$741 billion or -4.6 percent of our GDP. The growth of our trade deficit to such levels has been a strong drag on our economy and especially in terms of jobs and wages.

And specific trade deals have been most at fault for the increased trade deficit. Here are three examples. In 1993, the U.S. had a trade surplus in goods with Mexico of $1.66 billion. By 1995, just one year after NAFTA, this had changed to a $15.8 billion deficit and by 2012 the deficit with Mexico had increased even further to $62 billion.

Allowing China into the WTO also has been disastrous. The U.S. had a trade deficit in goods with China of $83 billion in 2001 when China was admitted to the WTO. This deficit has ballooned to $315 billion in 2012. And for a most recent example, in just one year after the U.S.-Korea trade agreement took effect, our trade deficit in goods with South Korea increased by $5.5 billion or 46%.

Last year, our federal budget deficit was more than $680 billion. But our trade deficit in goods for 2012 was $741 billion. While a lot of attention in Congress and in Washington, DC has focused on the federal deficit, little attention has been focused on our trade deficit and its negative impact on our economy, jobs and wages. If we had trade deals that actually led to balanced trade, our economy would generate more than 3 million more jobs. Unfortunately, our current model for free trade agreements increases our trade deficits and reduces our employment. . . .

In the economy as a whole, average real weekly take home pay for a U.S. worker today is $637 compared to where it was 40 years ago at $731 a week — $100 less.  . . .

Trade agreements have become the new tool in the arsenal for the unfettered corporate attack on collective bargaining rights. With trade agreements, threats to offshore work and actually offshoring the work in highly unionized industries has increased. The result — the share of the private sector workforce protected by a collective bargaining agreement has declined from a high of 35.7 percent to just 6.6 percent today. This is another direct link cited by most economists as a factor in the rising inequality in our country today.  . . .

In telecommunications, we have seen the virtual elimination of telecom manufacturing equipment in the US, the elimination of a U.S. national company, and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs in that supply chain.  . . .

Many groups representing U.S. consumers are especially concerned with how trade agreements can be used to degrade our food safety protections. Allowing for Fast Track consideration of TPP would further jeopardize the safety of the food consumed in the U.S. Seafood standards in particular could be challenged through the TPP. The FDA has detained hundreds of seafood exports from TPP countries because they were contaminated. For example in Fiscal Year 2012, the FDA detained 206 imported seafood products from Vietnam alone because of concerns including salmonella, e-coli, methyl mercury, filth and residues from drugs that are banned in the U.S.  Currently the FDA is only able to inspect between 1-2 percent of our food imports.  The TPP, by greatly expanding our food imports (especially seafood) would result in an even lower percentage of inspections.  . . . .

Trade agreements are no longer just about tariffs and quotas – they are about the food we eat, the air we breathe, the jobs we hold. Congress needs to have an enhanced and enforceable role in this new era when massive trade agreements can cover so many policy issues. We cannot abdicate the legislative and policy formation process to the USTR and non-elected representatives. Or, we would argue that trade policy should commence with the Congress adopting policy priorities and the countries with whom we will negotiate. It’s clear that this is not what has happened.  . . .

For example, we are concerned that Vietnam has been chosen as a trade partner. In Vietnam which has a population of 90 million people, the minimum wage is $0.28 per hour and the average wage is $0.75 an hour. There is no right to free association or expression. Our own Department of Labor has placed garments made in Vietnam on the federal “Do Not Procure” list for documented use of forced child labor in apparel production.  Vietnam’s extremely low wages, non-existent workers’ rights, and extensive roster of human rights violations will only further exacerbate the already strong downward pressure on U.S. wages.  We should not enter into trade agreements with countries with such records. . . .

Shouldn’t this proposition of including countries with such abysmal records like Vietnams be debated? Shouldn’t the U.S. Congress determine if that approach is appropriate? Shouldn’t the US Trade Representative further consult with Congress as negotiations progress?  . . . .”

 

For more details, see also video on CWA website http://action.cwa-union.org/c/1372/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=7357

Yet at the same time, Senator Portman of Ohio, who was formerly USTR under President Bush, noted at the Senate Finance hearing that in terms of exports, in ranking of countries the US rates just above Ethiopia and that 40% of US exports were to countries that had signed trade agreements with the US.

After the hearing, Republicans, including House Speaker Boehner, and free trade Democrats urged President Obama to get more involved saying that the President has to become personally involved in pushing the TPA or the new Bill will simply not pass Congress.  As mentioned, in the House, President Obama faces the problem that not one Democratic Congressman is willing to co-sponsor a TPA Bill.

On January 16th, there were also reports that Congressional Democrats were very upset about the draft environmental provisions of the TPP that had been leaked by Wikileaks.  The draft environmental chapter of the TPP agreement and a report by negotiators from the 12 countries involved in the talks, show that the pact would fall short in enforcing the higher environmental standards of other recent U.S. trade deals. Those pacts threaten sanctions against trading partners that violate international agreements to protect endangered species, prevent overfishing and regulate chemicals that deplete the ozone layer.

Immediately, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees Trade, stated ““It’s of grave concern. It’s as if our negotiators, decade after decade, have to walk into the door and … say, ‘Yes, we have concerns about leveling the playing field on labor and environment protections,’ but by the end of it, we say, don’t worry about it.”

Although the United States is pushing for robust environmental provisions, apparently the 11 other countries are all opposed to more strict environmental standards.  The inability of the U.S. to secure its key environmental demands made it even more difficult for the TPA bill.

According to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.),” As more information about the Trans-Pacific Partnership being negotiated in secret is revealed, the more the public can see how clearly this potential agreement, which is unprecedented in scope, would not only lead to the outsourcing of jobs, but also harm American consumers and the environment.”   All of this did little to help Obama persuade liberal Democrats on the TPA Bill

On January 17, 2013, it was reported that progressive advocacy groups were ramping up efforts to oppose the TPP and TPA legislation urging their members to push their representatives in Congress to fight the trade policies.

The progressive-leaning Democracy for America sent an email to its members saying they should call their local congressional representatives and urge them to vote down a proposal that would grant trade promotion, or “fast-track,” authority to the Obama administration.

On Monday, January 27th, 550 labor, environmental and consumer advocacy groups, including the United Autoworkers, which provided President Obama critical support on previous trade pacts, such as the South Korea FTA, sent a letter to Congress urging them to reject the fast-track bill.

The email campaign comes two days after a dozen Senators, comprised of 11 Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expressing “deep concern” over the chance that trade promotion authority would be renewed.

JANUARY 28 — STATE OF THE UNION

In response to the Republicans call in Congress for the Administration to do more regarding the TPA bill, President Obama responded in his State of the Union pushing the TPA bill and TPP and the TA Agreements.  President Obama stated:

“We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the USA”.  Look China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines.  Neither should we.”

What was very interesting about this point is that in contrast to almost every other point made in the State of the Union, when President Obama spoke about Trade, the Republicans cheered, but the Democrats in President Obama’s own party were silent.

JANUARY 29TH—THE DAY FREE TRADE MAY HAVE DIED

But the next day, Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, the head Democrat in the Senate, came out against TPA, stating:

“Everyone knows how I feel about this.  Senator Baucus knows.  Senator Wyden knows.  The White House knows.  Everyone would be well-advised to not push this right now.”

As Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid controls the bills that are allowed on the Senate Floor.  With Senator Harry Reid’s opposition, the TPA bill is dead in the Congress, which means that the President’s trade agenda and his push for these agreements are also dead.  In an ironic point, this situation will probably only change if the Republicans take over the Senate in 2014.

The lawmakers opposed to the TPA Bill argue that in light of the top secret nature of the negotiations, multiparty trade deals go far beyond the scope of the smaller, typically single-nation trade accords that were done in the past.  These new multinational deals affect larger portions of the U.S. and global economies and touch on many policies under Congressional jurisdiction.  Congress, therefore, should have a greater say on trade deals beyond the ability to accept or reject them.

On January 29, 2014, David Bonior, a former Michigan Congressman, who voted for NAFTA, in an article entitled Obama’s Free-Trade Conundrum stated:

 

“But Mr. Obama’s desire for fast-track authority on the T.P.P. and other agreements clashes with another priority in his speech: reducing income inequality.

This month is the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which significantly eliminated tariffs and other trade barriers across the continent and has been used as a model for the T.P.P.  Anyone looking for evidence on what this new agreement will do to income inequality in America needs to consider Nafta’s 20-year record. . . .

The result is downward pressure on middle-class wages as manufacturing workers are forced to compete with imports made by poorly paid workers abroad. . . .The shift in employment from high-paying manufacturing jobs to low paying service jobs has contributed to overall wage stagnation. The average American wage has grown less than 1 percent annually in real terms since Nafta, even as productivity grew three times faster. . . .

The Nafta data poses a significant challenge for President Obama. As he said on Tuesday, he wants to battle the plague of income inequality and he wants to expand the Nafta model with T.P.P.  But he cannot have it both ways.”

 

In response to Senator Reid’s statement, it was reported that Sen. John Cornyn  (R., Texas.) stated “You can kiss any new trade deals goodbye. . . I think the majority leader’s focus is on the November elections and he doesn’t want to expose his vulnerable members to controversial votes.”

The latest developments come amid growing skepticism in Japan about the U.S.’s commitment to free trade. “It’s up to the resolve of the U.S. government,” Japan’s economy minister, Akira Amari, told reporters in Tokyo. “If the president comes to the negotiating table with a strong enough determination to wrap it up by spring, other countries will follow suit.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) stated “I think there’s a lot of dubiousness in our caucus to fast track, given that every time we sign a free-trade agreement it seems other countries violate the rules and we don’t”.

Unions opposing the trade deals were happy with the outcome.   According to Larry Cohen, head of the Communications Workers of America, “For those of us who want to have a progressive trade agenda, it means that we’re encouraged.”

On January 30th, House Speaker John Boehner spoke out against President Obama suggesting that he needs to push Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get the TPA bill through Congress.

On February 3rd, President Obama met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid but the President did not bring up the trade issue and made no effort at the meeting to change Senator Reid’s mind on the TPA bill.

On February 4th, it was reported that StopFastTrack.com, a new coalition opposed to the TPA bill and the TPP and TA Trade Agreements is building grassroots support, gathering more than a half a million signatures and making tens of thousands of calls to Senators and Congressmen lawmakers to argue against trade legislation in Congress.

According to the report, unions, environmental groups, and political organizations—working under the umbrella site —have nearly 600,000 supporters  and made more than 40,000 phone calls to Congress, opposing the trade measures.

Another political organization, Democracy for America, has obtained 125,000 electronic signatures on a petition requesting that Nancy Pelosi, top House Democrat, follow Senator Reid’s lead and stop the TPA bill in the House.

Many trade experts believe that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision not to bring the TPA bill to the Senate Floor casts substantial doubt over the negotiations for the TPP and the TA deals.  Most commentators are stating that all these Agreements are at risk right now.

White House press secretary Jay Carney stated on Wednesday, January 29th,

“Leader Reid has always been clear on his position on this particular issue.  As the President said in the State of the Union address, he will continue to work to enact bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers and environment and to open markets to new goods stamped ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ And we will not cede this important opportunity for American workers and businesses to our competitors.”

Harry Reid’s decision could be a critical tipping point in US trade policy as the US becomes more and more protectionist.  It took a President Bill Clinton with his tremendous political ability to persuade Democratic Senators and Congressmen “to do the right thing” on NAFTA and enact it into law.  But President Obama is not Bill Clinton.

DOHA ROUND-BALI

As mentioned in the last newsletter, much to the surprise of many Government officials and companies, in December the WTO round in Bali resulted in all the WTO countries agreeing to Trade Facilitation Agreement to modernize customs procedures, as well as provisions on agriculture and economic development.  If there had been no Agreement in Bali, it could very well have meant the end of the multilateral effort to lower trade barriers through negotiations.

On January 7, 2014 WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo stated:

“Just six weeks ago, the fate of the multilateral trading system hung in the balance. Today, we can talk with confidence about how we can continue to develop and strengthen the system for the future.”

According to Azevedo, the Bali Trade Facilitation Agreement could possibly add as much as $1 trillion to the world’s economy each year.

The question now is what happens in the future.  Most experts believe that the WTO members will in the short term pursue agreements that affect only certain sectors or include only some countries.  Thus, there will probably be sector-by-sector trade negotiations at the WTO.

Agreements affecting trade of environmental goods and services might be one of the likely near-term targets.  But the Trade Facilitation Agreement still must be implemented as the details have to be ironed out, including Customs procedures in developing countries and other issues.  Implementation also means the Agreement must go through Congress and without TPA, it will be difficult for Bali Agreement to get through Congress.

Azevedo himself realizes the problems stating, “The task of strengthening the multilateral system and moving towards delivering on the[Doha Development Agenda] will be difficult, but it is not impossible.”

SOLAR PRODUCTS—NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE TO CLOSE THIRD COUNTRY LOOPHOLE AND AGAINST CHINA AND TAIWAN–QUANTITY AND VALUE QUESTIONNAIRE DUE FEBRUARY 13TH AT COMMERCE

Commerce has issued a quantity and value questionnaire in the new Solar Products/Modules/Panels antidumping case/initial investigation against China.  The deadline for the response to the Quantity and Value Questionnaire is February 13, 2014.

Attached are the quantity and value questionnaire and the fact sheet that was issued by Commerce. factsheet-multiple-solar-products-initiation-012313   prc-qv-solar-products-012714

The quantity and value questionnaire requires the Chinese exporter to report all sales during the period April 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013.  Specifically, Commerce is requiring the Chinese exporter to report the total number of modules, panels or laminates during that period, the total number of megawatts, the terms of sale and the total value of sales.

A Chinese exporter/producer must submit a response to this quantity and value questionnaire by February 13th.  If not, it will receive the highest dumping rate of 165%.

SOLAR CELLS REVIEW INVESTIGATION

To further complicate the Solar case, on February 3rd Commerce published in the attached Federal Register notice initiating the first Solar Cells review investigation.  This case will cover imports of Chinese solar cells during the review period.

So to be clear, the Solar Cells Review Investigation covers Chinese solar cells.  The Solar Products new investigation covers imports of Chinese modules and panels with Taiwan and other solar cells in them.

For the first Solar Cells Review Investigation, attached are the notice, in which many Chinese companies are named, and the Quantity and Value questionnaire.  Solar Cells AD CVD Initiation Notice 1st Review (2) SOLAR CELLS REVIEW QV Chinese companies named in the Solar Cells Review investigation need to file the QV questionnaire response on February 19th .   Chinese companies also need to file separate rate applications or certifications on or before April 4, 2014 at Commerce in first review investigation to keep their separate rate from the Solar Cells initial investigation.  Failure to file these documents meand that imports of Chinese solar cells will be assessed a rate of 250%.

Solar Trade problems with China are getting complicated.

SOLAR PRODUCTS INITIAL INVESTIGATION

As mentioned in my last post, on December 31, 2013, Solar World filed another antidumping and countervailing duty petition to close the third country loophole against China and Taiwan.

On January 23rd, the Commerce Department initiated the Solar Products cases against China and Taiwan, but it made some changes.  The Scope of the Merchandise, the specific products covered by the new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, are described in the attached notice and petition:

“The merchandise covered by this investigation is crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, and modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including building integrated materials. For purposes of this investigation, subject merchandise also includes modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells completed or partially manufactured within a customs territory other than that subject country, using ingots, wafers, or partially manufactured cells sourced from the subject country. . . .”

See the injury petition in my last post on this blog.

In the subsequent Commerce Department initiation notice, which is attached, however, in contrast to the petition, solar consumer products are specifically excluded:

“Also excluded from the scope of this investigation are crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, not exceeding 10,000mm2 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.”

Initiation Notice – Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products 1-24-14

In addition, Commerce reduced the All Others/Facts available rate in the China case from 298% to 165%, but raised the antidumping rate for Taiwan to 75.68% from 39%.  The trade volume is large.  According to Commerce, imports of the subject merchandise from China and Taiwan were valued at $2.1 billion and $513.5 million, respectively.

If Chinese companies are exporting and US importers are importing Chinese modules and panels with Taiwan or other solar cells in them, this option will be closed in 150 to 210 days, when the Commerce Department’s preliminary determinations are due on May 30, 2014 (CVD) and July 29, 2014 (AD).  Commerce Department investigations almost always are extended out to the full time.

Chinese companies also must submit their response to the quantity and value questionnaire by February 13th and be prepared to submit separate rate applications in this new antidumping case to get the average rate.

On January 22nd, the day after the Government was closed, the ITC held a preliminary conference.  The Commission’s preliminary injury determination is due February 14th.

Meanwhile, many trade lawyers have come to the same conclusion that when the scope in the past case and the present case are combined, the only way for US importers to escape liability is to have the underlying solar cells, modules and panels all made outside of China and Taiwan.  In effect, the entire chain of production would have to occur outside of China and Taiwan, which will have the effect of driving up the cost of business for major segments of the U.S. solar industry that need solar components, such as utility-scale solar project developers, rooftop solar companies and public utilities.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has announced that it is opposed to the case, calling it an “escalation” of the U.S.-China solar trade conflict.  Experts also stated that the duties could cripple the end user portion of the solar Industry, which is far larger than the domestic production industry.  As the SEIA stated, “From past experiences, we have learned that a conflict within one segment of the solar industry ripples across the entire solar supply chain.”

The market pressure driving solar prices downward is not caused by dumping, but the industry’s efforts to achieve so-called grid parity, where the price for solar power is comparable to that for traditional-source power.  But prices for US oil and natural gas are falling fast.  With falling costs for traditional forms of energy, it is very difficult for solar energy to be competitive.

The effect of this case, however, will be to drive up the costs of solar products,

Although the SEIA and some members of Congress have called for a settlement of the solar trade dispute, Solar World has expressed skepticism about such a deal, making it more difficult to conclude a government to government deal settling the case.  As mentioned in a prior post, there is no public interest standard in US antidumping and countervailing duty law, as compared to EC, Canada and China.  Also End Users have no standing in US antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  Thus it is difficult for the US Government to pressure Solar World to drop its case.

Meanwhile, as indicated below, the Chinese government has retaliated by finalizing antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of polysilicon from the US, shutting all US produced polysilicon, close to $2 billion, out of China.  Since last year U.S. polysilicon exporters have faced preliminary CVD duties in China of 6.5 percent, and AD duties of 53.3 to 57 percent and those duties are now final.

On January 26th, MOFCOM announced that it was delaying these duties for the moment and on January 30th called for negotiations over the Solar Cells/Products Antidumping and Countervailing duty cases stating:

 

“The two parties should follow the trend and make efforts to promote cooperation proceeding from the overall interests of clean energy development, so as to ensure the steady development, rather than restricting competition and cooperation by frequently taking trade remedy measures. It is proved that, that U.S. initiated investigations and levy high anti-dumping and countervailing duties in 2011 not only failed to change the situation of poor operation and lacking of competitiveness of its domestic industries, resulting in significant negative impacts on downstream industries including the assembly industry and services sector, but also triggered a worldwide chain reaction of trade disputes on PV products, which caused chaos in the whole industry.  . . .”

 

See attached statement MOFCOM STATEMENT

CURTAIN WALL UNITS ARE COVERED BY THE ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CASE

On January 30, 2014, in Shenyang Yuanda Aluminum Industry Engineering Co. v. United States, Judge Eaton in the Court of International Trade affirmed the Commerce Department’s determination that Curtain Wall Units, the sides of buildings, are with the scope of the AD and CVD orders on aluminum extrusions from China.  The Court stated in part;

“Because curtain wall units are “parts for” a finished curtain wall, the court’s primary holding is that curtain wall units and other parts of curtain wall systems fall within the scope of the Orders.”

See the attached decision.  SHENYANG YUANDA

As a result of the Court’s and the Commerce Department’s determination, the sides of buildings from China are now covered by US antidumping and countervailing duty orders with duties as high as over 100 to 300% for certain imports.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AGAINST CHINA

WIRE ROD

On January 31, 2014, a new antidumping and countervailing duty case was filed against carbon steel wire rod from China.  See notice below.

Docket No: 3000

Document Type: 701 & 731 Petition

Filed By: Kathleen Cannon

Firm/Org: Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

Behalf Of: ArceloMittal USA LLC, Charter Steel, Evraz Rocky Mountain Steel, Gerdau Ameristeel US Inc., and Keystone Consolidated Industries Inc, and Nucor Corporation.

Date Received: January 31, 2014

Confidential: Yes

Commodity: Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod

Country: People’s Republic of China

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 countervailing and antidumping duties on Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod from the People’s Republic of China.

Status: 701-TA-512 & 731-TA-1248

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS

In February Chinese producers and exporters, US importers and US producers have the opportunity to request an antidumping and/or countervailing duty review investigation of certain outstanding AD and CVD orders by filing a review request at Commerce by the last day of February for the following cases against China :

Period of review ————————————————————————              Antidumping Duty Proceedings

The People’s Republic of China:

Certain Preserved Mushrooms, A-570-851………..     2/1/13-1/31/14

Folding Metal Tables and Chairs \2\, A-570-868…     6/1/12-11/5/12

Frozen Warmwater Shrimp, A-570-893……………     2/1/13-1/31/14

Heavy Forged Hand Tools, With or Without Handles,     2/1/13-1/31/14      A-570-803…………………………………

Small Diameter Graphite Electrodes, A-570-929….     2/1/13-1/31/14

Uncovered Innerspring Units, A-570-928………..     2/1/13-1/31/14

Utility Scale Wind Towers, A-570-981………….    2/13/13-1/31/13

Countervailing Duty Proceedings

The People’s Republic of China:

Utility Scale Wind      2/13/13-12/31/13  Towers, C-570-982.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

As mentioned in prior 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 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 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The United States is the only country that has retroactive liability for its importers in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries. We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.

We are now contacting many US importers and also Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they interested in participating in the Alliance. Changes to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law against China can only happen because of a push by US importers and end user companies. In US politics, only squeaky wheels get the grease.

In forthcoming posts we will provide additional information about the Alliance and specific meeting days in different areas of the United States.

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE

POLYSILICON

On January 20, 2014, China issued final antidumping and countervailing duties against solar-grade polysilicon imported from the U.S.  Under the Chinese polysilicon antidumping duty order, US companies face dumping rates ranging from 53% to 57%.  On the Countervailing Duty side, US companies face rates from 0 to 2.1%.

On January 26, 2014, MOFCOM announced that given “the special market conditions” it has decided not to carry out antidumping and anti-subsidy measures for the moment.  Apparently, MOFCOM is hoping for a negotiated suspension agreement in the new Solar Products case.

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

CHINESE CHICKEN

On December 19, 2013, fourteen Congressmen circulated a letter in Congress asking their Congressional colleagues to ensure Chinese-processed chicken is kept out of the school lunch and other child nutrition programs. The letter also states that chicken slaughtered in China should be banned from the US market.  The letter states:

“It is because we are deeply concerned about the safety of the food served to the American people, especially our children, that we write to express our serious apprehension about the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recent decision to allow China to process chicken raised in the United States, as well as Canada and Chile, to then export to the United States. Furthermore, we believe FSIS is likely to eventually allow China to export its own raw poultry to the United States.”

CHINA CHICKEN PROBLEM CONG LETTER

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA

On December 5th, the Washington State Government reported that on December 3rd the Chinese government announced that it was banning all imports of molluscan shellfish from North America area #67, which includes all harvest areas in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and northern California. China reported a shipment of geoduck clams tested high in paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) and arsenic.  See my past post on this blog for more on this fight and the attached announcement.

The ban has already devastated shellfish growers in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California.  It also affects clams, oysters and other shellfish from U.S. waters.

China is the world’s largest importer of geoducks (pronounced “gooey duck”), with more than half of all the harvest from Washington, British Columbia and Alaska getting shipped to China. With China cut off, there are few places for the harvest to go.

Test results showed that, on average, arsenic was present in the geoduck bodies at a level of 0.327 parts per million (ppm), which falls below China’s legal limit of 0.5 ppm. Arsenic in the actual meat of the geoducks registered at 0.063 ppm, eight times lower than the limit.

On January 9th it was reported that Laboratory tests on Washington State’s exports of geoduck clams, found no evidence of unsafe or excessive levels of arsenic.  Although the test results have been sent to China, to date they have not yet received a response, and the ban remains in place.

The problem, however, arises from US export forms for the geoduck shipment.  The form does not allow for more specificity in identifying the source from which the shellfish were harvested.  While the problem shipments of shellfish came from isolated areas in Washington and Alaska, “Area 67″ encompasses all the coastal regions from Northern California through Alaska’s Pacific Coast. As a result, Chinese authorities were forced to ban shellfish from all of Area 67.

National shellfish programs provide forms that set forth specific shippers and harvest locations, which allow the governmental authorities to easily trace shipments back to specific shippers and harvest locations. If there’s a contamination problem domestically, shellfish growers can easily isolate the problem instead of shutting down the entire industry.

The World Health Organization is said to be considering setting safe levels for
inorganic arsenic in food in the .2-.3 ppm range in 2014. The Washington geoduck claims that tested high for inorganic arsenic in China, however, were harvested from a tract of land managed by the Department of Natural Resources that has since been closed. The tract is within the shadow of a copper smelter that was operated near Tacoma for 100 years.   According to Marian Abbett, manager of the Tacoma smelter clean up for the Washington Department of Ecology, “Well we know that arsenic levels are elevated in the surface soils in that area.  Soil samples from the surrounding land show levels of arsenic between 40 and 200 ppm, though that number does not directly equate to levels of arsenic that will end up in the water, or in shellfish.”

The area was closed to all shellfish harvest until 2007, when the Puyallup Tribe petitioned state agencies to reopen the tract for geoduck harvest. At that time the Department of Health conducted tests on geoduck in the area and found levels of .05 ppm. That’s an order of magnitude below the amount found by the Chinese in October of 2013 and well within the safety parameters set by the Chinese.

However, state agencies have not tested for inorganic arsenic or other metals in shellfish from the area since it was reopened in 2007.

Arsenic is a carcinogen that has also been associated with long-term respiratory effects, disruption of immune system function, cardiovascular effects, diabetes and neurodevelopmental problems in kids.

“There’s no safe level, but at some point you’ve crossed the threshold to being really dangerous and we don’t quite know where that threshold is at this point,” Cottingham said.

But the ban is having a real effect on fishermen in Washington State.  Ninety percent of the geoduck harvested in Washington is sold to China and Hong Kong.

The clams can fetch up to $150 per pound in China, but today the Suquamish tribe is losing $20,000 each day that the ban is in place, but the impacts of the ban are being felt well beyond the reservation. John Jones, another Suquamish diver, stated, “My brothers are from Port Gamble and they’re out of work.  They shut down diving everywhere, not just for us but for the state.”

Although British Columbia in Canada is not affected, the Chinese ban impacts all shellfish throughout Puget Sound, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California.  The shellfish industry in Washington is worth $270 million annually, and China is the biggest market for exports.

This is the broadest shellfish ban China has ever put in place, but it’s not the first time China has banned a major import from the U.S.  Beef imports from the U.S. have been banned for the past ten years. More recently, China rejected about half a million tons of U.S. corn because it contained a genetically modified strain.

Chinese officials have been slow to reveal details of their shellfish testing methods. That’s prompted some to raise concerns about political motivations behind the shellfish ban.

Although there is a possibility that the Chinese are retaliating for past problems with food imports in the US, there is strong evidence that the Chinese have a legitimate problem.  The contaminated geoduck clams were harvested near the former site of a copper smelter in Tacoma, which had leached arsenic into the surrounding area.

Again Chinese problems with US shellfish must be kept in context.  As indicated above, US Congressmen want to ban all chicken processed in China.  Because of US antidumping laws, all Chinese imports of honey, garlic, mushrooms, crawfish and shrimp have been greatly curtailed.  Some of the antidumping orders against Chinese agricultural products have been in place for more than 10 to 20 years.

In addition, the US government has been particularly tough on imports of Chinese honey, mushrooms, garlic and other agricultural products because of pesticide contamination, banning all imports of certain products during specific periods of time.

With the US government so tough on imports of agricultural and seafood products from China, US exporters of agricultural and seafood products should expect the Chinese government to be just as tough on US exports to China.

Trade is a two way street and what goes around comes around.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

INTERDIGITAL SETTLES 337 PATENT CASE WITH HUAWEI

On January 2, 2014, InterDigital Communications Inc. and Huawei Technologies filed a confidential settlement of their 337 patent case over 3G and 4G wireless devices.  Huawei’s antitrust strategy seems to have worked.

CHINESE COMPANY LOOSES 337 RESINS TRADE SECRET CASE

On January 15, 2014, in Certain Rubber Resins and Processes for Manufacturing Same, Investigation No. 337-TA-849, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) determined that there was a violation of section 337, 19 USC 1337, because a Chinese chemical maker and other companies had stolen trade secrets covering the recipe for rubber resins held by New York company, Sl Group Inc.  The Commission issued a limited exclusion order for 10-years excluding infringing imports of the Chinese resins into the United States from Sino Legend (Zhangjiagang) Chemical Co. Ltd. and the other named respondent companies in the case.

According to the 337 complaint, although SL Group had closely guarded the formula and the equipment used to create the resin, the manager of Sl Group’s Shanghai chemical plant defected to Sino Legend in 2007 and took the design with him.

The ITC’s ruling is directly contrary to the ruling of a Chinese court, which reached the opposite conclusion and found that there was no misappropriation.  After acquiring the trade secret, Sino Legend has been able to take over about 70% of the Chinese market for the rubber resins in question, which are used in tire production.

In response to the ruling, Sino Legend has stated that the Commission’s ruling will not substantially affect its business because the ITC’s ruling will allow its customers to use all Sino Legend resins in any of their non-U.S. production facilities, and then import those products into the U.S. without restriction.

DUPONT TRADE SECRETS CASE — TITANIUM DIOXIDE

In an ongoing criminal trial in California this month, prosecutors described how an ex-DuPont engineer and two conspirators stole DuPont trade secrets regarding a specific process to produce very high quality titanium dioxide, and sold the designs to Chinese state owned companies earning $28 million.

Chinese-American Walter Liew and his wife, Christina, founded multiple companies in Northern California and hired as a consultant ex-DuPont engineer Robert Maegerle, who knew the process of safely producing massive amounts of titanium dioxide.  Maegerle allegedly shared what he learned building plants for DuPont with the Liews, who used the information to negotiate contracts with Chinese companies, including Pangang Group Co., to build titanium-dioxide-making factories in China. However, both Maegerle and Walter Liew knew Dupont had patented that information and it was confidential.

Titanium dioxide is a white pigment used in everything from iPhone cases to toothpaste.  But it is hot, dirty and dangerous and DuPont figured out a way to make the product commercially viable.  According to the prosecutor, that process is what the Chinese companies wanted.

Maegerle is charged with trade-secrets theft, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.  Christina Liew faces charges of economic espionage, trade-secret theft, and tampering with witnesses and evidence in a separate trial.

Lawyers for the defendants argued that they did not copy DuPont’s factory plans verbatim, but used them as the basis to design around and develop their own production techniques for producing titanium dioxide.

Later in the trial, however, a government expert testified that Dupont fiercely guarded its trade secrets for making high-quality titanium dioxide and that the trade secrets made Dupont the envy of the industry.

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI, ZTE, AND OTHER COMPANIES

On December 31, 2013, Laserdynamics filed a patent case against Haier. HAIER PATENT CASE

On January 7, 2014, Bluebonnet Telecommunications filed patent cases against ZTE and Huawei. BLUEBONNETZTE HUAWEI BLUEBONNET

On January 7, 2014, Toyo Tire and Rubber filed a patent case against South China Tire and Rubber Co. TOYO TIRE CASE

On January 10, 2014, Personal Audio filed a patent case against Huawei and ZTE. PERSONAL AUDIO HUAWEI ZTE

On January 10, 2014, Thomas & Betts filed a trademark, unfair competition, case against Zhejiang Shengyu City Fengfan Electrical Fittings Co. TRADEMARK WRENCH ZHEJIANG

On January 13, 2014, Laerdahl Medical filed a patent case against Shanghai Honglian Medical Instrument Development Co. SHANGHAI MEDICAL

On January 13, 2014, ICON Health and Fitness filed a trademark case against Zhongshan Camry Electronics Co. ZHONGSHAN TRADEMARK

On January 14, 2014, Kee Action Sports filed a patent case against Shyang Huei Industrial Co., a Taiwan company. TAIWAN SUN

On January 14, 2014 Toyo Tire and Rubber filed a patent case against Hong Kong Tri-Ace Tire Co and Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre Co. TOYO DONG FENG

On January 16, 2014, Touchscreen Gestures filed patent cases against Huawei and ZTE. TOUCHSCREEN ZTE TOUCHSCREEN HUAWEI

On January 29, 2014, Standard Fiber filed a trade secret case against Shanghai Tianan Home Co, Teetex, LLC, and Anwen “Alvin” Li. SHANGHAI TRADE SECRET

Complaints are posted above.

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C CASE

As mentioned in my last post, the Vitamin C antitrust case against Chinese Vitamin C companies is wrapping up at the District Court level.  Attached is the final judgment with a $153 million judgment against Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Hebei”) and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. (“NCPGC”) for price fixing.  In addition, the judgment has increased by $4 million, specifically $4,093,163.35, to $158 million, specifically $158,203,163.35, to pay the Plaintiffs’ legal fees. FINAL AMENDED JUDGMENT VITAMIN C CASE

Hebei Welcome has announced that it is appealing the Court’s final judgment and has also switched US law firms and hired new counsel.

JUSTICE IS GETTING TOUGHER ON INTERNATIONAL CARTELS DEMANDING JAIL TIME FOR FOREIGN EXECUTIVES

There are reports that in 2013 and now 2014 the Justice Department has ramped up its enforcement in international cartels/price fixing antitrust cases looking for more prison sentences for foreign executives involved in these cartels.

On January 30th, Bill Baer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division gave the attached speech to the New York State Bar Association in which he described in detail international antitrust enforcement, including increased enforcement of antitrust cases against international cartels, and the DOJ’s increased cooperation with Chinese antitrust authorities.  BILL BAER DOJ STATEMENT ANTITRUST ENFORCEMENT The Assistant Attorney General stated:

 

“With those preliminary observations in mind, let me focus on the progress antitrust enforcement has made these last five years. President Obama promised during his first campaign that his administration would vigorously enforce the antitrust laws.  He pledged to “step up review of merger activity,” “take aggressive action to curb the growth of international cartels,” and ‘ensure that the benefits of competition are fully realized by consumers.’

“I think the record shows the Antitrust Division has followed through on the President’s pledge. Criminal enforcement provides an excellent starting point. We continue to vigorously pursue and prosecute international and domestic cartels. Since January 2009, we have filed 339 criminal cases, a more than 60 percent increase over the prior five years. We secured $4.2 billion in criminal fines in that period. . . .

Effective cartel enforcement requires holding accountable both corporations and the senior executives who orchestrate their unlawful conduct. We have charged 109 corporations with criminal antitrust violations since 2009. We have ensured that those corporations have paid appropriate—and stiff—criminal fines, and those 109 corporations together have paid the highest five-year fine total in division history. The division also charged 311 individuals with antitrust crimes during the past five years.

Experience teaches that the threat of prison time is the most effective deterrent against criminal antitrust violations. We seek sentences commensurate with the economic harm caused by the perpetrators. The statistics show that the courts are embracing the effort to hold company executives accountable for their bad behavior. The average prison sentence in our cases has increased from 20 months in the period 2000-09 to 25 months during the years 2010-2013. Of course, we can never know for certain the full deterrent effect of our enforcement efforts. But we do know that self-reporting under our leniency program remains at high levels and that, increasingly, non-U.S. companies are reporting anticompetitive behavior. They are responding to the fact we are prosecuting off-shore conduct with a U.S. impact. In recent years the number of foreign nationals sentenced to U.S. incarceration has increased threefold. The message should be clear: the division will vigorously and successfully prosecute international cartel behavior that harms U.S. consumers regardless of where that conduct takes place. . . .

The division has brought criminal cases in a range of industries over the past several years. One of our most significant ongoing investigations involves the auto parts industry. We are prosecuting price fixing and bid rigging involving a number of parts that were installed in cars sold in the U.S., including wire harnesses, instrument panel clusters, and seatbelts.  . . .

To date, we have charged 24 companies and 26 executives with participating in multiple international conspiracies, and those numbers are sure to grow as the investigation continues.   These charges have resulted in $1.8 billion in criminal fines, including the third-largest criminal antitrust fine ever.   Of the 26 executives charged so far, 20 have been sentenced to serve time in U.S. prisons or have entered into plea agreements requiring significant sentences.

During the past several years, the division also prosecuted international price-fixing conspiracies involving liquid crystal display panels. These conspiracies hurt U.S. consumers by dramatically inflating prices for computer monitors, notebook computers, and televisions, among other products. In 2012, the division secured convictions of Taiwan-based AU Optronics, its subsidiary, AU Optronics Corp. America, and three former top executives for their participation in such a conspiracy.   The trial against AU Optronics was the first time the division proceeded under the alternative fine statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1571, which allows for fines up to two times the gain or loss resulting from the conduct. The division proved beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury that the combined gains to the participants in the conspiracy were $500 million or more and that the defendants’ conduct accordingly merited a fine exceeding the Sherman Act’s $100 million maximum.   . . .

There is more to come.  . . . There can be little doubt that the division vigorously prosecutes wrongdoers. . . .

During the Obama administration U.S. enforcers have broken new ground in relations with China and India. In the past few years, the division and the FTC have entered into Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the Chinese and Indian enforcement agencies.  These MOUs have led to annual bi-lateral meetings between the U.S. antitrust enforcement agencies and agencies from these nations.  Indeed, earlier this month, I attended with Chairwoman Ramirez a bi-lateral meeting with the Chinese authorities in Beijing. We see candid engagement with the Chinese and Indian agencies as important, and we look forward to increased cooperation in the coming years.

Cooperation also plays an important role in our international criminal cartel investigations. Working with competition enforcers in non-U.S. jurisdictions, we share information where we are able; and we can plan coordinated raids around the world, reducing the opportunity for key evidence to go missing or be destroyed. . . .”

 

When foreign corporate executives are found to be guilty of engaging in a cartel to set prices, this is considered a crime of moral turpitude and the foreign executive is barred from entering the US for a minimum of 15 years.  Under a memorandum of understanding between Justice and Immigration and Naturalization Services (“INS”), now Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), if the foreign executive pleads guilty and cooperates with authorities, that executive can be exempted from the 15 year exclusion and continue to enter the US.  Antitrust criminal defense attorneys have argued that this exemption is unfair because it places unfair pressure on the foreign executive to forgo their right to trial.

On January 24, 2014, in response to questions from Congress on this issue, Assistant Attorney General Baer stated in the attached response:

 

“In general, moral turpitude has been held to be conduct that is inherently dishonest and contrary to accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general. Tax fraud, mail fraud, securities fraud, and theft offenses, for example, have been held to be crimes of moral turpitude. Similarly, price-fixing, bid-rigging, and market allocation agreements among companies that hold themselves out to the public as competitors are inherently deceptive and defraud consumers who expect the benefits of competition. Thus, the division’s Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with INS states that INS, now the Department of Homeland Security as successor to INS, considers criminal antitrust offenses to be crimes involving moral turpitude, which may subject an alien defendant to exclusion or deportation.

However, an alien defendant who is convicted of an antitrust offense at trial retains the ability to contest his removability from the United States.

In today’s global marketplace, many culpable executives involved in international cartels affecting U.S. consumers and commerce are foreign nationals. They may live and work outside the U.S., but their cartel conduct affects billions of dollars of U.S. commerce yearly and takes money out of consumers’ pockets. The MOU was drafted in order to allow the Antitrust Division to secure jurisdiction over and cooperation of these foreign nationals in the division’s investigations and prosecutions of international cartels and to hold these foreign nationals accountable for antitrust crimes, just as domestic defendants are held accountable.

The cooperation of defendants receiving immigration relief under the MOU is critical to the division’s ability to investigate and prosecute international cartel activity. A foreign defendant’s willingness to cooperate with the division provides the basis for the waiver of inadmissibility under the MOU, and fulfilling the continuing cooperation requirements with the division is a condition of a defendant’s retention of the waiver. Having cooperating witnesses from multiple companies is essential to fully investigate cartels and to hold responsible individuals at each corporate conspirator accountable.

Moreover, having defendants who have pleaded guilty is important at Antitrust Division trials. Extending the MOU waiver to noncooperating defendants would undermine the incentives provided by the MOU and be unjust to those foreign nationals who are willing to accept responsibility for their criminal conduct, submit to U.S. jurisdiction, cooperate with the division, and serve time in U.S. prison. It would also be unworkable to require pleading foreign defendants to continue their cooperation to maintain the waiver while at the same time giving the MOU waiver to non-pleading defendants who have not accepted responsibility and fully cooperated with the division.”

BAER STATEMENTS TO CONGRESS

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

On January 28, 2014, there was a report out of China that Qualcomm is facing a record antitrust fine of $1 billion in an antitrust case from the NDRC.  China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is becoming an increasingly aggressive regulator and is focusing on information technology providers, especially companies that license patent technology for mobile devices and networks.

Apparently, the NDRC is trying to lower domestic costs as China rolls out its faster 4G mobile networks this year.  US -based Qualcomm is scheduled to obtain the vast majority of licensing fees for the chip sets used by handsets in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market in the World.

Under the Chinese antimonopoly law, the NDRC can impose fines of between 1 and 10 percent of a company’s revenues for the previous year.  Qualcomm reportedly earned $12.3 billion in China for its fiscal year ended September 29, or nearly half of its global sales.

Qualcomm is no stranger to substantial fines.  In 2009, South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission fined the company 273 billion won ($252 million), the highest Korean penalty ever against a single company, for abusing its dominant position in CDMA modem chips which were then used in handsets manufactured in Korea.

SECURITIES

SEC DROPS CHINESE AUDIT CASE AGAINST DELOITTE

On January 27th the SEC told the Federal Court that it was dropping its case against Deloitte for failure to turn over audit documents of a Chinese technology company.  The SEC stated that Deloitte was supplying the audit papers to the China Securities Regulatory Commission, which, in turn, was supplying the records to the SEC.

The dismissal of the case, however, will not affect a separate SEC action against the Chinese offices of the Big Four accounting firms for refusing to reveal client documents to the SEC.  An SEC administrative law judge recently ruled that the China based offices are barred from auditing companies that do business in the U.S.

JURY CLEARS CHINESE INVESTMENT ADVISOR SIMING YANG

On January 13th, a jury in the Federal District Court found Chinese investment adviser Siming Yang not guilty on insider trading claims brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), but did find Yang guilty for other violations, including making false disclosures to the regulator.

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICE ACT–CORRUPTION ISSUES IN CHINA FOR FOREIGN COMPANIES

On February 4th, Carl Hinze in Dorsey’s Shanghai office published the attached article “Doing business in and with China: Battling a corruption culture by building a compliance culture”.

HINZE ARTICLE FCPA

COMPLAINTS

On January 10, 2014, Deborah Donoghue filed the attached securities case against Secure alert, Short Swing Profits, which are all owned by Sapinda Asia and Lars Windhorst, a Hong Kong Company, for short swing profits. SAPINDA HK

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRADE, PATENTS, SECURITIES, ANTITRUST

Jackson Statue Lafayette Park Monument White House After Snow WaDear Friends,

Over the last week, there have been major developments in the Trade, Patents, Securities and Antitrust areas.  The beat of the US China Trade War goes on.

 

TRADE

SOLAR CELLS

Commerce has referred a number of Chinese exporters and US importers to Customs for evasion of the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders through the Third Country Solar Cells issue.  See attached document.  PUBLIC VERSION Solar Cells Referral to CBP  In fact, we are working with one importer now because Customs is requiring the importer to prove that all the solar cells in the Chinese panels and modules are foreign solar cells and have not been commingled with Chinese solar cells.

STEEL SINKS

Unfortunately, the ITC reached an affirmative injury determination in the Steel Sinks case, ignoring the “but for” standard, the higher causation standard set in the Wood Flooring appeal.  The major reason for the loss in this case, however, was the failure of US importers and Chinese producers/exporters to participate in the case.  They gave up too soon.  Attached are the antidumping and countervailing duty orders that were issued in the case.  SINKS AD ORDER FED REG   SINKS CVD ORDER FED REG

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT RULE CHANGE

Attached is a revision to the Commerce Department’s antidumping and countervailing duty regulations regarding the submission of factual information, including surrogate value information, on the record at the Commerce Department, which was published April 10, 2013 in the Federal Register.  COMMERCE RULES CHANGE ON SURROGATE VALUES  The most important change apparently is the decision of the Commerce to eliminate the opportunity to submit surrogate values after the preliminary determination.

This is a real blow to US importers and Chinese producers/exporters because often the Chinese respondents have no idea what critical value Commerce will use until they see the Commerce Department’s preliminary determination.  If, for example, Commerce uses an aberrational surrogate value for a specific raw material input in the preliminary determination, the US importer or the Chinese company had the opportunity to get a more reasonable value and put it on the record.  No longer.

By the way, Commerce’s argument that Petitioners or respondents could not comment on the submission of the surrogate values after the preliminary determination is bogus.  Generally, Commerce takes another 6 months after the preliminary determination to issue its final determination and during that period both Petitioners and Respondents submit case and rebuttal briefs and attend a hearing at Commerce.

Now the chance to counter an aberrational surrogate value has been eliminated making it even more difficult for US importers and Chinese producers/exporters to get a fair determination at the Commerce Department.

CUSTOMS FRAUD

HONEYGATE– HONEY TRANSSHIPMENT

Attached is an article about the Customs fraud investigations in the transshipment of Chinese honey around US antidumping orders.  Honeygatel  The author is Michael Coursey, at the Kelley, Drye law firm.  Mike and I used to work at the Commerce Department together. Mike represents the US producers in the Honey, Mushrooms and Garlic from China antidumping cases so understand that he is looking at antidumping cases from a domestic producer’s point of view.

The point of the article, however, is that US producers are pushing for Customs investigations against transshipment around antidumping orders, and Customs is taking these investigations very seriously. As Mike states in the attached article as just one example of the Customs investigations listed in the Article:

“ICE’s undercover investigation also led to it to uncover another major player in Honeygate: Jun Yang, a wealthy Chinese businessman and purported pillar of the Houston, Texas community who served on advisory boards to the Mayor of Houston and hobnobbed with the rich and famous. Yang is believed to be involved in efforts to avoid dumping duties through the “new shipper” administrative review process at the Commerce Department. Specifically, Yang made millions as owner of honey and seafood importer National Commodity Corp. by brokering sales to Honey Solutions and others of honey that was adulterated or mislabeled as being from India and Malaysia when it really came from China. Yang has agreed to the prosecutors’ recommendation for a 74-month prison sentence, imposition of a $250,000 fine and restitution of $2.64 million. The judge has not yet ruled on the plea agreement. . . .”

“In addition to Honeygate, there is an increasing trend of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and private citizens fighting customs fraud under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery if they provide the government with the necessary information and evidence. The first phase of Honeygate marked the DOJ’s first use of Sarbanes-Oxley’s criminal obstruction of justice statute, which includes a 20-year incarceration penalty per offense, in the Alfred L. Wolff prosecutions.

This trend has continued in other customs fraud prosecutions of importers that falsify entry documents and cover-up such fraud in order to avoid paying millions in customs duties.  Much of this area is still evolving, with at least four U.S. federal circuit courts currently split as to whether certain customs fraud and smuggling laws are just civil or also criminal in nature.”

In talking to Mike, he also told me that he is behind the effort to go after the US insurance companies that posted new shipper bonds for Chinese producers/exporters.  Mike estimated that the liability for one US insurance company is close to $200 million.

Attached is also another article about the Honeygate Customs fraud cases.  CANADIAN FOOD WHOLESALER HONEY GATE

PATENTS

HAIER

Attached is a patent complaint that was filed on April 8, 2013 by Guardian Media Technologies against Haier, Desay, Lasonic, Digway, Veehom, Denca and Express Way Ltd. for infringement of certain patents for TVs and DVD players.  HAIER CASE

HUAWEI

Another patent complaint was filed on April 11, 2013 against Huawei by Media Digital.  HUAWEI PATENT MEDIA DIGITAL

337 CASES

A new section 337 case was filed on April 3rd against China on Linear Actuators.  If anyone wants a copy of the complaint, please feel free to contact me.  The notice is below:

Pending Institution

Docket No: 2949

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Gorman & Williams

Behalf Of: Okin America Inc. and Dewert Okin GmbH

Date Received: April 3, 2013

Commodity: Linear Actuators

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Acting Secretary, USITC; requesting

that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the

Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Linear Actuators. The

proposed respondents are Changzhou Kaidi Electrical Co. Ltd., China and

Kaidi LLC, Easton Rapids, MI.

SECURITIES

FARRIS ARTICLE—DELAWARE COURT DECISION ON ZST DIGITAL NETWORKS

On April 9, 2013, Ted Farris, an international capital markets partner in our New York office, authored an article about Deutsch v. ZST Digital Networks, Inc. (Del. Ch. C.P.A. No. 8014-VCL, March 28, 2013), in which the Delaware Chancery Court authorized seizure of a Chinese company’s assets and a court ordered shareholder buy-out in what should have been a simple books and records case. See attached order.  ZST ACTUAL ORDER  Ted Farris specializes in assisting Chinese companies, acquirers and special committees in considering an exit from U.S. regulatory and reporting requirements in going dark and going private transactions, including delistings from US stock exchanges.  As Ted states in the Article:

 

“Delaware Court Authorizes Seizure of Chinese Company’s Assets in Books and Records Case

China-based companies incorporated and publicly traded in the United States have received another harsh blow from the Delaware Court of Chancery, which appears to be losing patience with failure of Chinese companies to comply with Delaware corporate-law requirements. In Deutsch v. ZST Digital Networks, Inc. (Del. Ch. C.P.A. No. 8014-VCL, March 28, 2013), China-based ZST Digital failed to comply with a December 2012 default judgment ordering it to produce corporate books and records to a U.S. shareholder in Delaware pursuant to Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law. On the shareholder’s motion, Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster held the company in contempt of court, granted the U.S. shareholder the right to put his shares back to the company at a price based on book value derived from its last SEC financial report, and appointed a receiver for the Chinese company’s assets to enforce the court orders, including payment of the put price. Although, as a practical matter, it may be extremely difficult for the receiver to reach the company’s assets which are all in China, the case unveils a potentially powerful new weapon to enforce U.S. corporate-law standards on Chinese companies that are incorporated in the United States and have shares traded in U.S. markets. The ruling may further encourage China-based companies to consider exiting U.S. securities markets.

Stonewalling a Books and Records Request

ZST Digital is a China-based company that was incorporated in Delaware in 2006. Its business operations are entirely in China where it is engaged in supplying digital and optical equipment to cable equipment operators, including internet-enabled set top boxes, primarily in Henan Province. ZST Digital’s common shares became publicly traded through a 2009 share exchange that was accounted for as a reverse merger. The company filed reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission until August 2012, when it “went dark” by filing a Form 15 with the SEC to terminate its reporting obligations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. However, its shares continued to trade in the over-the-counter market. The company’s last SEC filing, its Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2011, claimed total revenue exceeding $125 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. After that filing, ZST Digital ceased filing financial reports with the SEC. In addition, BDO, the company’s auditor resigned in March 2012, and the company claimed it was therefore unable to provide audited financial statements (although it subsequently hired a new auditor). The company’s share price declined from a high of approximately $11.00 in January 2010 to $1.30 per share in April 2013. The stock’s current 52-week range as of April 5, 2013 was from $6.76 to $0.31 per share.

Peter Deutsch, a ZST Digital shareholder who claimed to own more than 3.9 million shares, brought an action in the Delaware Court of Chancery after ZST Digital “went dark” seeking access to the company’s books and records under DGCL Section 220.  Prior to the lawsuit, the company’s counsel at Pillsbury Madison & Sutro LLP had responded by letter offering access to the books and records at the company’s principal office in China, a common response by China-based companies to such a request. Deutsch was not willing to travel to China to see the documents and filed suit demanding that they be produced in Delaware or New York. ZST Digital ultimately failed to respond, and a default judgment was entered on the Section 220 claim in December 2012.

The default judgment ordered ZST Digital to produce books and records in the State of Delaware that included extensive financial disclosures and company strategic plans, including any plans to “go private.” The court rejected the company’s request that Deutsch travel to China to inspect the information. When ZST Digital failed to comply with the terms of the initial order, Deutsch filed a motion against the company for contempt of court, for grant of a put right at the fair value of his shares and for appointment of a receiver. Vice Chancellor Laster granted the plaintiff’s motion for contempt and also granted Deutsch the extraordinary and unprecedented right to put his shares of ZST Digital back to the company at their supposed book value of $8.21 per share (at a time when the shares were trading for only approximately $1.39 per share).

The value of the court-ordered buy back exceeded $30 million and was based on the Company’s book value derived from the balance sheet included in its last-filed Form 10-Q report for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. The court further ordered the appointment of a receiver for the company’s assets for the purpose of enforcing the court’s orders, including the put right, and ordered ZST Digital to pay all costs and expenses of the action, the receivership and enforcement of the court’s orders. ZST Digital has so far failed to respond to the court’s orders.

In his court filings, Plaintiff Deutsch alleged that ZST Digital and other Chinese companies have “gone dark” and ceased filing reports with the SEC in order to lower their stock prices and make a “going private” transaction less expensive. The court-ordered buy-out option requested by Plaintiff Deutsch was based on court-ordered buy-outs in the context of closely held corporations. Plaintiff conceded the unprecedented nature of the “put” remedy in the public company context. The court’s order will effectively prevent ZST Digital from undertaking a “going private” transaction as many other Chinese companies have done over the last several years. (More than 100 Chinese companies have “gone dark” or “gone private” since January 1, 2008.)  Any effort to cash out U.S. shareholders now would undoubtedly face substantial court obstacles given Deutsch’s put right and the receivership order. What impact this will have on the company’s U.S. shareholders remains to be seen.

As ZST Digital has simply failed to respond to the lawsuit, Deutsch’s extraordinary legal victory may have little practical impact so long as the company stays out of the United States and does not attempt a transaction with its U.S. shareholders. ZST Digital has no U.S. assets for the receiver to seize and has so far shown no inclination to pay the put price required by the court’s order. Nevertheless, the case shows that the Delaware courts are willing to use every conceivable remedy against a Chinese company that they perceive as having flouted court orders and ignored the corporate-law rights of U.S. shareholders. The decision leaves both ZST Digital and its shareholders in limbo.

Conclusion

Chinese companies have often attempted to stonewall U.S. shareholders of their Delaware-incorporated entities under DGCL Section 220 by insisting that U.S. shareholders travel to China to inspect books and records. Vice Chancellor Laster made clear that shareholders can insist on such production in the State of Delaware. Further, the list of documents ordered to be produced under DGCL Section 220 was extremely broad and included detailed financial and strategic information even though ZST Digital was no longer required, as a matter of U.S. securities law, to file any reports or disclose information under SEC reporting requirements. In the absence of a confidentiality agreement with a shareholder, this kind of material, nonpublic information could not, as a practical matter, be disclosed to one shareholder (who might freely trade on it) without making that information available to all shareholders through a public announcement.

If Delaware courts can really require public disclosure of financial information by non-reporting companies pursuant to a shareholder demand under DGCL Section 220, this section could in theory be used to defeat a company’s purpose in “going dark” by deregistering under the Exchange Act. Nevertheless, the extreme remedies of granting a put right (in effect a court ordered buy out), appointing a receiver and effectively requiring public disclosure of financial and strategic information by a publicly traded company may reflect the unusual facts of the case. There is no question that ZST Digital’s refusal to participate in the case and its repeated defaults in responding to court orders motivated Vice Chancellor Laster in shaping these extraordinary remedies. If ZST Digital had instead made an appearance, contested the matter and offered some compromise proposal on the information requested, it could almost certainly have obtained a better result for the company that would not have limited its future flexibility in dealing with U.S. shareholders.

Still, the ZST Digital case means that Chinese companies would be well advised to pay more attention to U.S. legal risks given the Delaware courts’ increasingly tough stances in these areas. It is no longer sufficient for U.S.-incorporated Chinese companies to “go dark” and then ignore compliance with basic requirements of U.S. corporate law. The Delaware courts are not likely to give such companies the benefit of the doubt any longer (if they ever did), and other states regularly follow Delaware’s lead in matters of corporate law.

China-based companies with shares trading in U.S. public markets should carefully consider the implications of the ZST Digital case as part of their determination of whether to remain trading in the United States or to consider an exit through a “going private” transaction.”

 

Attached also an article from “Theasset.com” quoting Mr. Farris on this issue.  FARRIS QUOTE

LONGTOP—DELOITTE

On April 8, 2013, a New York Federal District Court Judge tossed Deloitte out of a class action securities lawsuit against Longtop Financial Technologies for lying to investors and exaggerating the size of its profit margins.  In the attached opinion, the Judge determined that the Plaintiff had failed to sufficiently allege that Deloitte violated federal securities laws in signing off on Longtop accounts between June 2009-May 2011. LONGTOP SECURITIES DECISION TOSSING DELOITTE

CITIC AND PUDA COAL

ON April 8, 2013, a class action securities case was brought in the Federal Court in the Southern District of New York against Puda Coal Inc. and CITIC Trust Co., Ltd.  Attached is a copy of the complaint.  PUDA COAL CITIC

The complaint alleges that CITIC is “the largest Chinese private equity fund and merchant bank, which, by means of a transfer of 49% ownership interest and a 51 % pledge as security for a loan, now controls Puda’s sole operating subsidiary and its only source of revenues.”

The complaint further alleges that “this action arises from a fraudulent scheme in which Puda insiders improperly transferred the Company’s only revenue-producing, operating subsidiary to CITIC and then, with the assistance of CITIC, falsely portrayed to investors in Puda that the Company still possessed its operating subsidiary.”

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C

The Vitamin C case goes on to the next phase.  The first attack is the motion by Plaintiffs to obtain their legal fees from the Chinese defendants.  The legal fees for Plaintiffs could well be in the millions.  See the attached document asking for an extension to file the motion.  VITAMIN C MOTION TO PAY PLAINTIFF’S LEGAL FEES  The Court granted the extension.

This was followed by an April 11, 2013 Renewed Motion by Hebei Welcome and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. that the case be dismissed as a matter of law based on state and foreign sovereign compulsion and international comity.  See attached document.  SHORT HEBEI MOTION JUDGMENT  In the motion, the Chinese defendants go into detail as to MOFCOM regulations issued in the late 1990s purportedly giving the Chamber the authority to set up a group to set prices.  The Court has yet to rule on the Renewed Motion.

On April 12, 2013, Plaintiffs filed the attached injunction motion to enjoin the Chinese defendants from operating the cartel and setting the export prices for Vitamin C.  INJUNCTION MOTION  In the Fact Section of the attached motion, Plaintiffs state:

“Evidence admitted at trial established that after Plaintiffs filed their complaint in January 2005, Defendants continued meeting, exchanging information, and reaching agreements with one another. In November 2005, Wang Qiang of Aland wrote that the defendants “should not have any worry” about the lawsuit whether they won or lost, but that they should “do many things in a more hidden and smart way”:

“This act of deciding production or prices based on coordination is a kind of monopoly whatever the reasons. However, I believe we should not have any worry since the Ministry of Commerce is a friend of the court in the lawsuit. If we won the lawsuit, it would be hard for foreigners to make more trouble. Even if we lost the case, government would take the foremost part of responsibility. After all, we need to do many things in a more hidden and smart way.”

. .  . . (“The recent antitrust lawsuit is unprecedented, but we shall not suspend the coordination mechanism of the VC industry in our country”); (noting that “the antitrust investigation was time-consuming” and that “[e]verybody must pay special attention to relevant matters on confidentiality”).

Wang Qi also testified that after the lawsuit was filed, the defendants discussed the need to keep meetings confidential and to be more careful about what was written down.  . . . And Qiao Haili testified that, as a result of the lawsuit, any notes taken by meeting participants “would be torn apart.” . . . .

Eventually, with trial approaching, the meetings to discuss price subsided. At trial, Wang Qi of Aland testified that in the time since his 2008 deposition, his company had stopped meeting with competitors to discuss prices.  . . . He also testified that he would know if such communications were taking place. . . .”

DOJ ANNUAL ANTITRUST REPORT 2013

On April 11, 2013, the Justice Department issued its annual 2013 antitrust report.  In the report, there are two sections of interest to Chinese companies and US importers because it demonstrates how the Justice Department is going after foreign companies for price fixing of export prices using a cartel in the export of products to the United States.  The point is that antitrust cases against foreign cartels are not just aimed at China.

The Criminal Division of the report states as follows:

Liquid Crystal Display Panels

On March 13, 2012, following an eight-week trial, a jury in the Northern District of California returned guilty verdicts against AU Optronics (AUO), a Taiwan manufacturer of liquid crystal display panels, its American subsidiary, AU Optronics America, and the former president and former vice president of AUO for their participation in a conspiracy to fix the price of thin film transistor liquid crystal display panels (TFT-LCD panels).

The jury was unable to return a unanimous verdict as to one of the subordinates charged. It returned not guilty verdicts against two other subordinates.

The guilty verdicts were notable in that the jury determined that the Division had proven beyond a reasonable doubt that the gain derived from the conspirators for sales into the U.S. was at least $500 million. This was the first time that a jury convicted a corporate defendant under the antitrust laws and applied the “twice the pecuniary gain or loss” alternative fine provision of 18 U.S.C. § 3571(d).

On September 20, 2012, AUO was sentenced to pay a $500 million fine and the convicted executives were each sentenced to serve three years in prison. The $500 million fine matches the largest fine ever imposed against a company for violating the U.S. antitrust laws.

The Division successfully retried the third AUO executive, who was found guilty after a three-week trial, on December 18, 2012. Including these trial convictions, the Division’s LCD investigation thus far has resulted in convictions of ten companies and criminal fines totaling $1.39 billion, as well as convictions of 13 executives, and charges against seven additional individuals (one awaiting trial and six who remain fugitives). . .  .

Ongoing Investigations Continue to Produce Results

Auto Parts

The Division is dedicating significant resources to the ongoing automobile parts investigation. To date, this investigation has yielded charges against nine companies and 12 individuals and more than $809 million in criminal fines for participation in conspiracies to fix prices of and rig bids on automobile parts, including safety systems such as seatbelts, airbags, steering wheels, and antilock brake systems, and critical parts such as instrument panel clusters and wire harnesses. Two of the executives charged are Japanese citizens. Each was sentenced in 2012 to serve two years in prison, the longest sentences imposed on foreign nationals voluntarily submitting to U.S. jurisdiction for an antitrust violation. During FY 2012, this investigation also yielded the third-largest criminal antitrust fine ever imposed—a $470 million fine against Yazaki Corporation. The Division continues to cooperate with its counterparts in Japan, Korea, the EC, and Canada, among others, on this investigation.

To date, the following corporate fines have been obtained:

• U.S. v. Yazaki Corporation, $470 million—the third largest criminal fine ever for an antitrust violation

• U.S. v. Furukawa Electric Company Ltd., $200 million

• U.S. v. DENSO Corporation, $78 million

• U.S. v. Fujikura Ltd., $20 million

• U.S. v. Tokai Rika Co., Ltd., $17.7 million

• U.S. v. Autoliv, Inc., $14.5 million

• U.S. v. TRW Deutschland Holding GMBH, $5.7 million

• U.S. v. G.S. Electech, Inc., $2.7 million

• U.S. v. Nippon Seiki Co., Ltd., $1 million

GENERAL LITIGATION PROBLEMS AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES

In the attached decision, United States v. Pangang Group Company Ltd. and a group of affiliated Pangang companies, a federal judge in California threw out summonses that the Justice Department issued against titanium and steel producer, Pangang Group Co., and related entities in a criminal suit alleging the Chinese state-owned companies stole trade secrets from DuPont Co. by finding that the U.S. government failed to properly serve the defendants.  PANGANG ORDER

Pangang was allegedly aided by former DuPont employee Tze Chao and others in the U.S. who wanted to sell titanium dioxide trade secrets. These include chemical technology company USA Performance Technology and one of its co-owners Walter Liew and his wife Christina.  The Liews were arrested in July 2011 and indicted in August 2011 on charges that they tampered with witnesses, made false statements and attempted to delay the FBI’s effort to uncover the illegal sale of DuPont’s trade secrets to rival manufacturers, including Pangang.

Chao pled guilty in March 2012 to leaking confidential information from documents he reportedly retained after retiring in 2002.  The Liews pled not guilty in April 2012 to charges over their alleged role in the scheme. In February, a magistrate judge ordered Walter Liew to be freed on $2 million bail after 19 months in custody.

If you have any questions about these cases or about these laws in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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