US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP SIMPLISTIC APPROACH TO TRADE INJURES US COMPANIES, US AGRICULTURE BADLY HURT, NAFTA NOT GOING WELL, SECTION 301 AND 232 CASES, TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE, SOLAR, FALSE CLAIMS ACT, MORE CASES

White House Washington DC

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR AUGUST 30, 2017

 

Dear Friends,

As stated in many past blog posts, it is easy for Candidate Trump to talk protectionism, but President Trump is now learning it is much more complicated.  Trump’s decision to push protectionism endangers his standing with a core constituency—farmers and rural America.  As stated below, Trump’s decision to tear up the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) has already had a major negative impact on farmers.

Trump’s call for an economic war with China and other countries is already having a ramification.  Trump’s threat to pull out of NAFTA is not helping the US position in the negotiations.  Trump simply does not understand the ramifications of the trade deal when he terminated the TPP or when he threatens to tear up NAFTA.

The Trump trade policy is based on one arrogant presumption—the US market is the largest in the World and the rest of the World must kowtow, come on bended knee, to get into the US and that fact gives the US leverage.  But that fact is no longer true.  The 11 countries in the TPP have a larger market than the US.  China has a larger market than the US so the Trump Administration has to be very careful when it plays this card.

In fact, Canada and Mexico already can fall back on trade agreements they have with other countries, such as Europe.  The United States does not have that luxury.  The US decision by both Trump and the Democrats to go protectionist is further isolating the US in the trade area and is and will have major negative economic ramifications on the US economy.  The chickens will come home to roost.

Trump simply did not understand the dynamics of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and the ramifications of simply terminating it.  During the campaign, Candidate Trump stated that the TPP was a bad deal and if only he led the negotiating the team, it would be a better deal.  Thus, Trump argued that the TPP deal should be terminated and the US should then negotiate bilateral deals with the eleven countries in the TPP.

But two major problems with that strategy are becoming very clear.  First the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) does not have the personnel to negotiate 11 separate trade deals with the individual countries.  It took more than five years to negotiate the TPP.  With Trump’s steep cuts to the Government bureaucracy, the government resources simply are not there.

Second, Trump did not understand the dynamics of the TPP deal.  During those negotiations, countries could give the US concessions because they would get offsets from other countries and the importance of gaining access to the markets of 11 other countries was worth the concession to the US.

But with no other countries in bilateral deals, the other countries are less willing to make the concessions the US is demanding.  In fact, as Robert Lighthizer, the USTR, has discovered, many of the countries in the TPP do not want to have a bilateral deal with the US.  They fear and rightly so that the US will demand too much.  Much easier to export and import from other countries.

The same problem is happening in the NAFTA negotiations.  Trump is threatening to leave NAFTA when he simply does not understand the dynamics of the deal and the devastating impact that such a withdrawal would have on US farmers and also US manufacturing industries, such as the US auto industry.  Trade is very complicated and running into the trade area like a bull in a China shop simply creates enormous damage.  That damage will be borne by the US agricultural industry and US manufacturers and that means the loss of 1000s if not 100s of thousands of jobs.

Labor unions and working men like the sound of being politically tough on trade and the foreigners, but when jobs are lost, those same people may not like the actual reality of a very protectionist policy.  Many American politicians, such as Donald Trump and Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, like to be tough on trade because foreigners do not vote.  But if the economy is hurt by Trump’s trade actions, his base will be hurt and he will not be the next President.  So there a lot riding on Trump’s trade policy and his Administration has run straight into the Wall of actual trade reality.

The only saving grace for Trump is that as evidenced by Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, the Democrats are even more protectionist than Trump.  But neither the Democrats nor Trump understand the true ramifications of simply walking away from trade deals that open up foreign markets.  The US agricultural industry is now learning those ramifications.

By kowtowing to the Steel industry with its 141,000 jobs, these trade actions could costs thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of jobs in downstream industries and other industries, such as Agriculture. It is time for the United States to wake up to the benefits of trade.

It is also time for the United States to find a way to make its companies more competitive in the US and international markets as they exist now rather than erect protectionist barriers to international competition.  See the article on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below and how companies, including steel companies, can be saved from import competition by making them competitive again.

USTR has also initiated a section 301 case against forced technology transfers in deals with China.  But in an August 30, 2017 article by Dan Harris, my partner, entitled “China US Trade Wars and the IP Elephant in the Room”, Dan states that in over one hundred deals with Chinese companies, he has not seen US companies forced to give over their Intellectual Property (“IP”) by the Chinese government.  Instead he has seen US companies make bad decisions leading them to give away their IP by their own volition.  If US companies do not protect their IP rights, they will lose them.  The US Government cannot protect against stupid mistakes.

Meanwhile, the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases remain on hold.  The Section 201 case against imports of Solar Cells continues with the ITC hearing being 11 hours long. The United States has intervened in a False Claims Act case against Furniture.  Commerce has also issued a circumvention determination in the Aluminum Extrusions case.

More Antidumping and Countervailing Duty and 337 cases have been filed against China and the trade beat goes on.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

THE WEAKNESS IN DONALD TRUMP’S ECONOMIC POLICY—TRADE

Donald Trump’s political strategy is fight the cultural war, but win the next election because of his economic policy.  If jobs and wages are up, more companies move into the US, Trump’s firm belief is that he wins the next Presidential election.  Even Michael Moore, the Democratic gadfly, believes that Trump will win reelection by carrying the states that he already won.  See https://www.fastcompany.com/40459122/michael-moore-says-trump-is-on-track-to-win-again-in-2020.

There is only one fly in the ointment, flaw in this strategy—Trade.  If the Trump trade policy hurts farmers, Trump could lose the rural states: Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, to name a few and that could lead to Trump’s loss in the next Presidential election.

The economic nationalist Steve Bannon, who is credited with helping get Donald Trump elected by in part pushing the American First Trump policy, was recently forced out of the White House.  Before he left, however, Bannon made his trade position crystal clear.  in an article entitled “Steve Bannon Unrepetent”, in the American Prospect” magazine on August 16, 2017, Bannon stated with regards to trade policy:

“We’re at economic war with China,” he added. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and  it’s gonna be them if we go down this path.  . .

Bannon went on to describe his battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade, and not to fall into a trap of wishful thinking in which complaints against China’s trade practices now had to take a backseat to the hope that China, as honest broker, would help restrain Kim.

“To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Bannon’s plan of attack includes: a complaint under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against Chinese coercion of technology transfers from American corporations doing business there, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminum dumping. “We’re going to run the tables on these guys. We’ve come to the conclusion that they’re in an economic war and they’re crushing us.”

From Bannon’s point of view, trade is economic war.

Although Bannon has since left the White House, President Trump and Commerce Secretary Ross apparently share Bannon’s thinking.  On August 22nd, without understanding the ramifications on his voter base, President Trump announced that he might simply cancel NAFTA.  Apparently, Trump believes that both Mexico and Canada are winning the economic war against the United States.

On August 28th, in an article entitled “Exclusive: Trump vents in Oval Office, “I want tariffs. Bring me some tariffs!”, Axios reported that in the first Oval Office meeting with Chief of Staff John Kelley and the last meeting with Steve Bannon, President Trump stated:

Trump, addressing Kelly, said, “John, you haven’t been in a trade discussion before, so I want to share with you my views. For the last six months, this same group of geniuses comes in here all the time and I tell them, ‘Tariffs. I want tariffs.’ And what do they do? They bring me IP. I can’t put a tariff on IP.”  . . .

“China is laughing at us,” Trump added. “Laughing.”

Kelly responded: “Yes sir, I understand, you want tariffs.” . . . .

Staff secretary Rob Porter, who is a key mediator in such meetings, said to the president: “Sir, do you not want to sign this?” He was referring to Trump’s memo prodding Lighthizer to investigate China — which may lead to tariffs against Beijing.

Trump replied: “No, I’ll sign it, but it’s not what I’ve asked for the last six months.” He turned to Kelly: “So, John, I want you to know, this is my view. I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs.”

Kelly replied: “Yes sir, understood sir, I have it.” . . .

Trump made sure the meeting ended with no confusion as to what he wanted.

“John, let me tell you why they didn’t bring me any tariffs,” he said. “I know there are some people in the room right now that are upset. I know there are some globalists in the room right now. And they don’t want them, John, they don’t want the tariffs. But I’m telling you, I want tariffs.” . . . .

Emphasis in the original.

Trump’s statements in this article ring true because during the Presidential campaign, Donald Trump made it very clear that he likes tariffs.

On August 28th, however, George Will in an Op-ed article entitled “Trump, The Novice  Protectionist” in Investors Business Daily responded to the Trump trade policy stating:

“Foreigners, however, have their uses. After the president trumpeted that the Dow surpassing the 22,000 mark was evidence of America’s resurgent greatness, The Wall Street Journal rather impertinently noted this: Boeing, whose shares have gained 50% this year and which accounted for 563 of the more than 2,000 points the Dow had gained this year en route to 22,000, makes about 60% of its sales overseas. Boeing has a backlog of orders for 5,705 planes, 75% going outside North America. For Apple, the second-biggest contributor (283 points) to this year’s Dow gain at that point, foreign sales are two-thirds of its total sales. Foreign sales are also two-thirds of the sales of McDonald’s, the third-biggest contributor (239 points).

Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute says that in the last 20 years the inflation-adjusted value of U.S. manufacturing output has increased 40% even though — actually, partly because — U.S. factory employment decreased 5.1 million jobs (29%).  . . . Increased productivity is the reason there can be quadrupled output from the same number of workers.  According to one study, 88% of manufacturing job losses are the result of improved productivity, not rapacious Chinese.

But those Democrats who think government should fine-tune everything are natural protectionists (Sen. Charles  Schumer: “They’re  rapacious, the  Chinese”)  and probably think Trump is too fainthearted because he is not protecting Americans from competition from Americans.  . . .”

TRUMP TRADE WAR—THE SIMPLISTIC APPROACH TO TRADE COULD WELL DAMAGE THE US ECONOMY AND DOOM THE TRUMP ECONOMIC PLAN

In the above articles about Bannon’s and Trump’s approach to trade along with the below op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Trump trade team reveal the protectionist bent of the Trump Administration, which is based, in part, on blind arrogance and a simplistic approach to trade policy.

The Bannon and Trump approach reveal fatal misunderstandings:  trade is a two-way street, and US exports are critical to the wellbeing of Donald Trump’s own constituents.  In international trade, what goes around comes around.  What the US does to other countries, they can do back to the US.

Moreover, Bannon, Ross and Trump are confusing economic warfare with economic competition.  The United States has always strongly believed that economic competition is good for the economy, the country and the US consumer.  The bedrock principle of the importance of economic competition to wellbeing of the US economy is the reason the US antitrust laws were enacted. As Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roger Alford of the US Justice Department’s Antitrust Division recently stated on August 30th at a Competition Policy Forum in Shanghai China:

Our continued engagement on this topic is significant for competition enforcement. We are the guardians of strong and vigorous competition for economic prosperity. Our lodestar is to promote competition, not to give preference to specific competitors, even when individual businesses jockey for advantage.  . . .

Emphasis added.

Bill Gates believed that Microsoft had to go to war with its competition, but frankly that is why Microsoft produced such good software.  CEOs of companies are driven by competition to produce better products at lower prices, which means stronger US companies and prosperity for the US economy and US consumers.  Stronger US companies means more jobs at higher wages.

Protecting US companies from international competition does not strengthen the US companies.  It weakens them and the poster child for such a point is the US Steel industry, which has had 40 years of protection from steel imports.

This is exactly why President Ronald Reagan was so opposed to protectionism.  As President Reagan stated above in June 1986: “Protectionism is destructionism. It costs jobs.”

Moreover, Steve Bannon and Donald Trump have not figured out one important point: Not only do companies compete against each other and States compete against each other, but the United States and other countries compete against each other.  The US decision to go the Protectionist route means it has given up competing, and, therefore, it will lose the economic war.  Trump’s and Bannon’s combined with the Democrat’s protectionist policies mean the US will lose the economic war because of its decision to look inward and no longer compete in the international economic marketplace.

US companies do not get stronger by protecting them from international competition, which simply promotes the mentality of international trade victimhood.  US companies get stronger by looking inward and working harder to become internationally competitive.  See the article about Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below.

The arrogance of the Steve Bannon and the Trump trade policy is based on the principle that the United States is the largest market in the World, and this gives the US leverage and, therefore, countries must kowtow and bend their head to get into the US market.  Although that principle may have been true twenty years ago, it is simply no longer true.

The Trans Pacific Partnership, for example, combines the markets of 12 countries, now 11 with the US exit, into one “huge” trading block.  Since Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are part of that block, the TPP market is a much larger market than the US alone.  Mexico and Canada are also in a stronger trade position than the US because they already have free trade agreements with a number of other countries, including the EC, and that gives them a substantial competitive advantage getting into those markets.  This fact gives Canada and Mexico leverage in the NAFTA negotiations even though Trump, Lighthizer and Ross simply do not understand the dynamics of the deal.

Maybe this is a major reason US companies move to Mexico and Canada to get better access to other foreign markets.  The United States is competing with other countries too.

Also in many ways, with 1.37 billion people China has a larger market than the US.  In 2006, at a speech in Beijing, the US Commercial Attaché stated that 75% of all Chinese, including rural Chinese, have a color television set.  Now that is close to 95% of 1.37 billion.  That is a larger market than the US with its 323 million.

Also the upper class and upper middle class in China, which numbers between 250 to more than 300 million, have an income closer to the US and that segment of the China market is the same size, if not larger, than the US.  That is why in the push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), House Speaker Paul Ryan used to state that 75% of the World’s consumers are outside the United States.

But China is also not this overwhelming behemoth with an economic juggernaut that is going to crush the US.  Yes, it may have a larger market, but on a per capita basis, it is much smaller.  Thus, the US per capita income on average is $57,000 where the Chinese per capita income is $8,000.  China has its own problems—keeping its people happy and fed.

Along with these problems, China has major weaknesses, which can be exploited by the US.  China has a very high personal tax rate, which can be as high at 45%.  This high tax rate is why many Chinese have emigrated to the US, looking for a lower tax rate and a better opportunity to keep the money they earn.  If Trump can drive taxes lower, that may result in more entrepreneurs and businesses moving to the US, e.g. Foxconn.

Another problem is the Chinese government’s strict control of information flowing into China by its very strong control of the internet.  Strict control of the internet stops knowledge flowing into China, which especially hurts the country’s high tech sector.  When information and knowledge stop, economies do not do as well.  The free flow of knowledge and ideas is critical for the most advanced economies and yet that is not true in China.

But arrogance is one of the great sins because it blinds you to all options.  To make a better deal in trade negotiations, the Administration has to do its homework and first understand the actual American interest.  If one is going to make America great again, one must first understand what is the nature of America’s interest in trade.  This requires understanding the dynamics of the trade deal in question, which President Trump prides himself in doing.  The Trump Administration must understand the actual trade deal closely, the US leverage points and the US weaknesses, what trade deals will help the US and the what trade deals will hurt the US interest.  Donald Trump’s failure in trade negotiations is to understand the dynamics of the deal and the leverage that the US has in trade negotiations.  In other words, with regards to trade, Trump simply does not understand “The Art of the Deal”.

In ripping up the TPP without even trying to renegotiate, Trump failed his own test because he did not understand the elements of the deal.  Trump’s philosophy was to do away with multilateral deals because they fall to the lowest common denominator and do only bilateral deals because that gives the US more control over the deal and if the country does not live up to its side of the bargain cancel the deal.

The problem with that approach is first the US government does not have the personnel at USTR, which is very lean and mean, to negotiate 11 separate trade deals with all the countries in the TPP.  It took more than 5 years to negotiate the TPP.

But secondly and more important, in recent bilateral negotiations, Canada, Mexico and Japan have all told the US do not assume that in bilateral deals or NAFTA, the United States will get the same deal it would have gotten in the TPP.  In fact, as indicated below, many countries in the TPP simply do not want to do a bilateral deal with the US—too much work.  Canada, Mexico and Japan were willing to give the US a better deal because they would gain access to a much greater market, the market of 11 additional countries.  That gave countries the political ability to play one national interest against another national interest.  Thus, Canada could give in to the US on dairy products because of the potential access to the much larger TPP market, including the Japanese and US markets.  Thus, countries in the TPP could use tradeoffs with other countries to open their markets further to US exports.  Those trades offs and the market access to the markets of 12 different countries does not exist with a bilateral deal with just the US.

On August 24, 2017, in an article entitled “Revived TPP may exclude trade concessions sought by US”, Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper, stated:

TOKYO — Japan is proposing suspending trade concessions made to the U.S. as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in order to resurrect the pact with the 11 remaining members.

Tokyo sounded out that proposal to other nations in the “TPP 11,” as those members became known after the U.S. withdrew from the deal. Senior negotiators will cite items they wish to see shelved during three days of talks starting Monday in Australia.

Washington had secured a number of major concessions from other nations in exchange for lower American tariffs on their exports. Though President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal, those concessions remain on the TPP’s books — to the consternation of other members.

If all the 11 participants agree unanimously, any such concession would be put on hold, and national regulations governing that element of the pact would remain in place.
But the suspensions would be lifted if and when the U.S. decides to return to the partnership.

While the remaining members are leaning toward keeping the lower tariffs agreed on among the initial group, they are likely to revisit specific trade rules.

The U.S. sided with major domestic drug companies and settled on an effective eight-year window before competitors can have access to proprietary pharmaceutical data. That moratorium exceeds international standards, and other countries think it would impede development of cheap generics. All members of the TPP 11 are expected to agree on freezing that provision.

Other provisions that may be suspended involve copyright protection periods, fair-competition policies governing state-owned enterprises and the opening of government procurement to foreign capital.

American exports would face a competitive disadvantage if an 11-member TPP goes into force. Tokyo hopes that U.S. meat industry leaders will speak up in favor of rejoining the trade deal.

Trade is the one weak link in Trump’s economic plan.  As indicated below, the decision to kill the TPP has already had a major negative impact on US agriculture and part of Trump’s base, the rural states, where agriculture is king.

SIMPLICITY IS OFTEN A GOOD TRADE POLICY BUT NOT WHEN THE POLICY IS SIMPLE MINDED AND NARROWLY FOCUSED

Trump has slowed down the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum Investigations because its “complicated”, but when Bannon and Trump take a very simplistic, black and white view of trade, it is extremely dangerous to the US economy and Donald Trump’s own constituents.

This is not a fight between Globalism and America First.  The America First strategy requires the Administration to understand deeply the interest of the United States and the interest of all the significant US industries in trade negotiations, including agriculture, not just the narrow Steel and Aluminum Industries. The Trump and  Bannon statements indicate a deep failure to analyze why Trump won the election and what the interest of the entire United States is in trade negotiations and also the interest of Donald Trump’s own constituents, the voters that elected Donald Trump President.

Bannon thinks that if we create a trade war with China and are tough on them we will win the economic trade war with China. But Bannon truly has forgotten why voters elected Donald Trump.

First, it was not just the US Steel and Aluminum industries that put Trump in the White House, it was the working man in many manufacturing plants throughout the United States.  Because of their economic, black white view of the World, Trump and Bannon want to put up barriers to steel imports to protect the US Steel industry and its 141,000 jobs without realizing the damaging impact of such an action on the millions of jobs in the downstream steel consuming industries.  Truthfully, if Donald Trump is going to be reelected, Trump himself, his trade team and Steve Bannon cannot be so simple minded.

More importantly Donald Trump also won because of farmers.  Although Trump won the States in the Blue Wall, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, he was also able to win the Presidency because he won the US heartland, including the states of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah and Florida.  What do those states have in common and in common with Wisconsin—Agriculture.  And the Trump trade policy is and has seriously hurt US farmers because US farmers are dependent on exports.

As the US Wheat Federation stated in the Section 232 Steel case, half of US wheat is exported.  Putting up protectionist walls invites retaliation against US agricultural exports.

Finally, one other point in direct response to Steve Bannon’s and Trumps statement, substantial trade relations prevent real shooting wars.  As indicated below in the Section 301 article, China is becoming more amenable on North Korea because of its enormous trade relationship with the United States.  The total US China trade relationship is $578.6 billion with $115.8 billion in US exports and $462.8 billion in imports from China.

In direct contrast, the US trade relationship with Russia is much, much smaller.  The total US Russia trade relationship is $38.1 billion with $11.2 in US exports and $27 billion in imports from Russia.  Truly peanuts in the global trade market.  It is better to compete with countries in the economic arena as compared to a real war, where millions die.

DEMOCRATS MORE PROTECTIONIST THAN DONALD TRUMP

The only saving grace for Donald Trump on trade is that the Democrats are even more protectionist.  On August 13th, Senator Chuck Schumer, who heads the Democrats in the Senate, told John Catsimatidis on his New York AM 970 radio show “The Cats Roundtable” that he is closer now to President Donald Trump than he ever was with former President Barack Obama on trade.  Senator Schumer stated:

“Trade is the thing [China cares] most about, and they’ve been treating us very badly on trade for a long time, frankly,.  I was closer in trade views to Donald Trump than I was to either George Bush or Barack Obama, on China anyway. I think we were much too easy on them. But if we got tough on them now, maybe they would relent, but we have to be real tough. So far, the administration has not been as tough as they should be, as far as I’m concerned.”

The Trump Administration should be very tough with China on trade, but it should carefully analyze what its true interests are and the interests of US voters that elected Donald Trump.  The US government should do everything in its power to drop barriers to US exports in China and other countries.  But protectionism for protectionism’s sake will not cure the problems of US manufacturing and right the US China trade balance

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR HURTS US AGRICULTURE AND US FARMERS

As mentioned in prior newsletter, the ox that will be gored by Trump’s trade policy is agriculture and that is just what is happening.  On August 7, 2017, in the attached extensive article entitled “Trump’s Trade Pullout Roils Rural America”, Trump’s Trade Pullout Roils Rural America – POLITICO Magazine, Politico did its homework and described in detail the deep negative impact of the Trump trade policy on US agriculture:

EAGLE GROVE, Iowa—On a cloud-swept landscape dotted with grain elevators, a meat producer called Prestage Farms is building a 700,000-square-foot processing plant. The gleaming new factory is both the great hope of Wright County, which voted by a 2-1 margin for Donald Trump, and the victim of one of Trump’s first policy moves, his decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

For much of industrial America, the TPP was a suspect deal, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which some argue led to a massive offshoring of U.S. jobs to Mexico. But for the already struggling agricultural sector, the sprawling 12- nation TPP, covering 40 percent of the world’s economy, was a lifeline. It was a chance to erase punishing tariffs that restricted the United States—the onetime “breadbasket of the world”—from selling its meats, grains and dairy products to massive importers of foodstuffs such as Japan and Vietnam.

The decision to pull out of the trade deal has become a double hit on places like Eagle Grove. The promised bump of $10 billion in agricultural output over 15 years, based on estimates by the U.S. International Trade Commission, won’t materialize. But Trump’s decision to withdraw from the pact also cleared the way for rival exporters such as Australia, New Zealand and the European Union to negotiate even lower tariffs with importing nations, creating potentially greater competitive advantages over U.S. exports.

A POLITICO analysis found that the 11 other TPP countries are now involved in a whopping 27 separate trade negotiations with each other, other major trading powers in the region like China and massive blocs like the EU. Those efforts range from exploratory conversations to deals already signed and awaiting ratification. Seven of the most significant deals for U.S. farmers were either launched or concluded in the five months since the United States withdrew from the TPP.

“I’m scared to death,” said Ron Prestage, whose North Carolina-based family pork and poultry business made its huge investment in the plant near Eagle Grove in part to reap expected gains from the TPP. “I don’t guess I’ve gone beyond the point of no return on the new plant, but we did already start digging our wells and started moving dirt.”

He and other agricultural business people and workers have reason for concern.

On July 6, the EU, which already exports as much pork to Japan as the United States does, announced political agreement on a new deal that would give European pork farmers an advantage of up to $2 per pound over U.S. exporters under certain circumstances—a move which, if unchecked, is all but certain to create a widening gap between EU exports and those from the United States.

European wine producers, who sold more than $1 billion to Japan between 2014 and 2016, would also see a 15 percent tariff on exports to Japan disappear while U.S. exporters would continue to face that duty at the border. For other products, the deal essentially mirrors the rates negotiated under the TPP, which the United States has surrendered, giving the EU a clear advantage over U.S. farmers.

The EU’s deal is all the more noteworthy because American farmers were relying on the TPP—to which the EU was not a member—to give them an advantage over European competitors. But in a further rebuke to the United States, Tokyo decided within a matter of weeks to offer the European nations virtually the same agricultural access to its market that United States trade officials had spent two excruciating years extracting through near-monthly meetings with their Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of the broader TPP negotiations; the United States is now left out.

The EU, which also recently inked a deal with Vietnam, is now moving forward with talks with Malaysia and is in the process of modernizing a pre-existing trade deal with Mexico.

Meanwhile, a bloc of four Latin-American countries—Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia, known as the Pacific Alliance—is quickly becoming the leading force for free trade in the region, announcing near the end of June it would commence its own negotiations with New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, heedless of its neighbor to the north.

On its own, Australia, which in 2015 cut a deal to undersell the United States in beef exports to Japan, announced another round of scheduled tariff cuts with Japan. Without the TPP, Australian ranchers eventually will enjoy a 19 percent tariff advantage over U.S. competitors. Australia is also prioritizing the conclusion of trade talks with Indonesia, the largest nation in Southeast Asia by gross domestic product.

The remaining 11 TPP countries have already met two times, with a third meeting planned, to move ahead with the revival of the deal without the United States. The so- called TPP-11 would be in direct response to Trump’s trade policy. Economic forecasts already show projected gains for countries involved. Canada, according to one estimate, could permanently gain an annual market share of $412 million in beef and $111 million in pork sales to Japan by 2035, because lower tariffs would enable it to eclipse America’s position in the market.

As China, which was never a part of the TPP, senses blood in the water, it is moving quickly to assert itself, rather than the United States, as the region’s trade arbiter. China is aiming to close talks by the end of this year on its behemoth Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership—a trade agreement involving 15 other Asia-Pacific countries.

None of these deals are yet in effect. But already there are signs that competitors are gaining market share over U.S. producers in the post-TPP landscape, as Pacific nations take a closer look at alternatives to U.S. exporters.

Over the first five months of 2017, U.S. exports to Japan of chilled pork, which is preferable to frozen meat, are up 2 percent over the previous year. But exports of chilled pork from Canada, a prime competitor, are up 19 percent. Likewise, in frozen pork, U.S. exports are up 28 percent. But exports from the EU, the leading competitor, are up 44 percent.

Japan, which saw the TPP not only as a source of economic growth but a counterweight to China, is now taking the lead in salvaging the deal. Its goal is to have some sort of agreement between the 11 other countries in place for the annual summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in November. Trump is expected to attend, creating the awkward possibility that he will witness all the handshakes and back slaps as his fellow leaders congratulate themselves on a deal.

For his part, Trump once promised a slew of “beautiful” deals to replace the TPP, but his administration has yet to lay out a detailed strategy. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers that an analysis is underway to determine where it makes most sense to pursue negotiations.

In the meantime, Lighthizer, a trade attorney who pressured Japan to voluntarily restrain its steel exports when he was a trade official in the 1980s, said Tokyo should just go ahead and lower their tariffs without expecting anything in return.

“I think in the areas like beef and the others, they ought to be making some unilateral concessions, at least temporary concessions,” he told lawmakers in June. “And I don’t quite understand why that doesn’t happen.”

Lighthizer said the administration still hopes to strike bilateral trade deals—that is, separate agreements with individual countries—but he conceded that “some of the TPP countries don’t want to do bilaterals.” The value of the TPP for many countries was that they could justify giving up protective tariffs in exchange for their own access to the markets of a wide pool of countries; many are unwilling to make such concessions for the smaller gains of a bilateral deal.

Lighthizer acknowledged that even Japan, at least for the time being, may not be interested in one-on-one negotiations with the U.S. . . .

That leaves workers in 13,000-person Wright County, whose survival depends largely on agriculture, with relatively few signs of optimism. Trump’s decision to walk away from the TPP has stoked uncertainty about U.S. trade policy and, more notably, the president’s commitment to rural America.

“He fooled a lot of people,” said Sandy McGrath, mayor of Eagle Grove, who is not affiliated with any party and did not support Trump. . . .

But the plant’s success will depend largely on export opportunities. More than 26 percent of the pork produced in the U.S. in 2016 was exported to foreign markets. And more than $1.5 billion of the nearly $6 billion in U.S. pork exports in 2016 headed for Japan.

“At the time those investment decisions were made, the U.S. had never turned down a free trade opportunity,” said Dermot Hayes, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University, referring to the Prestage plant and other pork-industry investments.

Hayes said the livestock industry had in its sights a future of expansion amid soaring export growth. After Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP, “that has pretty much disappeared,” he said. . . .

In April, when Trump was on the verge of withdrawing from NAFTA, Maier said he watched corn prices plummet in anticipation of the president’s decision. Trump relented, at the request of Perdue, the agriculture secretary, who appealed to the president with colorful maps showing the president’s base was largely concentrated in states that heavily rely on agriculture.

Ultimately, Trump agreed to renegotiations with Canada and Mexico instead. But Maier remains wary that, despite pledges by the administration to “do no harm” for agriculture, the mere act of reopening the deal with Canada and Mexico, the two largest destinations for U.S. agricultural exporters, could mess up what has been a very good thing for American farmers in the Midwest.

“Farmers are willing to open up NAFTA, but if we open up NAFTA, there’s the risk of going backwards,” he said. . . .

The Obama administration, backed by a large cadre of free-trade Republicans, used that reality to grow support for the TPP among businesses and agricultural interests eager to grab a better foothold in a fast-growing area of the world where the U.S. has few formal trade deals.

But through the slow churn of negotiations, the dazzlingly complex deal among 12 countries soon fell victim to time and circumstance. After more than five years of talks, bleary-eyed trade negotiators were finally able to close the deal at an Atlanta hotel on October 5, 2015. But the agreement quickly became mired in election politics. Labor unions and blue-collar voters declared it to be a successor to NAFTA, which was blamed for the loss of factories. And while the U.S. trade commission predicted the deal would be broadly beneficial to the overall economy, some areas including food and agriculture were predicted to score more gains than others.

Even as supporters of the deal insisted it would put U.S. manufacturers on a stronger footing versus overseas competitors by enforcing higher labor and environmental standards, Trump and Bernie Sanders used anti-TPP fervor as a key plank of their campaign platforms, declaring that it would cost America jobs. Even Hillary Clinton, normally a supporter of freer trade, turned on the deal, saying she wanted to negotiate better terms.

Trump escalated his rhetoric on trade after the primaries and Congress, which has final say on trade deals, shied away from bringing TPP up for a vote. After Trump’s victory, the fate of the deal in the GOP-controlled Congress was all but sealed as Republican lawmakers put it aside to concentrate on tax reform and a bid to roll back Obamacare.

On his first full day in office, Trump signed an executive order withdrawing from the TPP, calling the action a “great thing for the American worker.”

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country,” Trump said during a campaign stop in Ohio. “That’s what it is, too. It’s a harsh word: It’s a rape of our country.” . . .

But even as Iowa was voting for Trump by 51 percent-42 percent, its farmers were looking to Asia as their savior. . . .

But despite Trump’s intense personal interest in trade, the White House has been slow to build the dream team of negotiators the president promised on the campaign trail. Lighthizer, who once served as a deputy U.S. trade representative under President Ronald Reagan, was confirmed on May 11. The people tapped to serve in the agency’s three deputy positions await confirmation, as does the administration’s pick for chief agriculture negotiator.

Iowa’s Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says he thinks a trade deal with Japan would make up for much that was lost for agriculture by dropping TPP, but it will take “a lot more personnel, a lot more time to get it done, a lot more separate actions by Congress.”

As far as the administration’s strategy to get there, Grassley, who still owns his farm in Butler County, Iowa, said he hasn’t gotten much direction.

“I asked Lighthizer maybe a month ago in a meeting, and I didn’t get an answer,” Grassley said in a recent interview. “In a sense he answered, but not very definitively because their policy isn’t established.” . . .

Maybe the lesson of TPP demise for the protectionist firebreathers is be careful what you wish for.  The negative ramifications of not doing the TPP appear to be infinitely higher than doing the trade deal.

NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS

On August 16th, United States, Canada and Mexico sat down together for the first round of talks to formally reopen NAFTA.  On July 17th, the USTR released its attached “Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation”, USTR NAFTA RENGOTIATION OBJECTIVES.

But Trump keeps stirring the pot with his anti-NAFTA rhetoric. On August 22nd, during a speech in Phoenix President Trump announced that he might simply cancel NAFTA.

As Politico stated on August 23rd, “Trump’s  threat  of  NAFTA  withdrawal lose its edge”:

“Canada and Mexico appear to have reached a conclusion that when President Donald Trump threatens to withdraw from NAFTA, it is a negotiating ploy that is all bark and no bite. . . .

Instead, concerns were raised from within the United States government, where officials and lawmakers who support the deal see little value in the president repeatedly going to the well of harsh rhetoric in a way that makes the United States’ negotiating position more difficult.

“I don’t know a single person with a working brain cell that thinks that’s a good idea,” said one U.S. government source close to the talks, referring to renewing the threat of terminating the deal. “It’s a stupid message to send during the  negotiations.”

Part of the reason Mexico and Canada might be less intimidated by Trump’s bluster is that they have plenty of other trading partners to fall back on if the relationship with the U.S. sours. Both countries have separate deals in place with the European Union — Mexico is currently ramping up talks to update theirs — and both are part of the effort to reboot the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the remaining 11 members are pushing toward completion even without the U.S.

But after Trump cast aside the TPP almost immediately upon taking office, the U.S. has fewer such options to fall back on — so pro-NAFTA lawmakers and those from export- dependent states have repeatedly urged him to focus on modernizing and updating NAFTA, rather than terminating it.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady — whose home state of Texas counts Mexico as the No. 1 market for its exports, followed by Canada — cautioned Trump on Wednesday to be more aware of the effects his words have on the country’s trade relationships.

“The president’s rhetoric is red-hot, and it creates real impact,” Brady said during a town hall discussion at AT&T headquarters in Dallas. “I think the rhetoric, the words from the president matter, so I’d like to see that take a different approach in tone.”

Brady, whose powerful committee oversees trade on Capitol Hill, is one of a core group of Republicans whose support will be crucial if the administration succeeds in renegotiating a new deal with Canada and Mexico, since it will likely have to go through Congress for approval . . ..

The political question is whether Trump would discard NAFTA in the face of what certainly would be fierce resistance from Congress and industries like agriculture, which would take a significant hit in that event amid a sustained downturn in the farm economy.

Back in April, intense lobbying from the Hill and on the farm helped talk Trump down from inking a prepared executive order to withdraw from the deal. News of the planned order sparked such a public outcry and flurry of reaction in support of the deal that business and trade insiders sometimes refer to it as “Black Wednesday.” . . .”

Meanwhile, a chorus of industries are telling the Administration not to be so tough in the NAFTA negotiations because tweaks are fine, but the failure of the NAFTA deal would be disastrous to US industry and US agriculture.  On August 10th Automobile and Auto Parts makers urged the Administration to cool down the rhetoric on rules of origin for automobiles and auto parts because major changes to automobile rules of origin through NAFTA modernization could have the unintended consequence of making North America’s auto industry less competitive.  As Charles Uthus, vice president of international policy at the American Automotive Policy Council, the main lobbying arm of U.S. auto companies in Washington, stated:

“It’s the highest automotive rule of origin anywhere that you can find. It’s already extremely rigorous, very difficult to meet as it is. To actually strengthen it, there is a huge risk of unintended consequences.”

Ann Wilson, senior vice president of government affairs for MEMA, stated:

“Our members really struggle with finding a connection between changing the rules of origin and the reshoring of jobs. They do not see that connection.”

On August 17th Politico reported that Trump’s tough rhetoric has created intense hatred in Mexico, which will make it politically very difficult for Mexico to make concessions or agree to a deal that would clearly benefit the US.  Thus, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is not afraid to walk away from the table if needed, potentially overturning the entire U.S.-Mexico bilateral trade relationship in the process.

Again, Trump does not understand the dynamics of the deal and the fact that since Mexico has more trade agreements than the US, it has leverage and is not afraid to walk away from the table.

Thus, both Mexico and Canada are resisting US pressure for a new “national content” provision in NAFTA’s auto trade rules to encourage more parts to be made in the United States.  As Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo stated:

“It will not be best practice to introduce that kind of rigidities into the industrial process.  It’s not good for American companies. It’s not good for Mexican companies.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland also stated: “Canada is not in favor of specific national content in rules of origin”.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Dairy Producers stated that they will fight any U.S. effort to duplicate in NAFTA the dairy concessions secured through TPP negotiations. As Yves Leduc, director of policy and international trade for the Dairy Farmers of Canada, stated, “Not a possibility – as far as we are concerned, we would never agree to that.”

The small amount of dairy access that Canada granted the U.S. during the TPP talks – equal to 3.25 percent of Canada’s domestic milk production – was balanced out by concessions Canada secured in negotiations involving all of the 11 other countries. Those circumstances don’t apply to NAFTA, which involves only three countries. As Leduc stated, “To ask us to open up our market to allow more subsidized goods from the U.S. to enter the Canadian market, the answer is simple: It’s no.”

Meanwhile, US famers joined with Canadian and Mexican farmers to urge US negotiators to not let specific demands undermine the market access US farmers and ranchers enjoy under the existing agreement.  Although all three groups want to lower trade barriers to exports and imports, it was their unified position to defend existing market access that was most notable, given the fear on the farm that Trump could use agriculture as a bargaining chip to satisfy his obsession with reducing America’s trade deficit in manufactured goods.

THE PHRASE “FREE BUT FAIR TRADE” IS A FRAUD BECAUSE COMMERCE HAS SO DEFINED DUMPING AS TO FIND ALMOST EVERY IMPORT DUMPED

In an article along the same lines as the Bannon article and the Trump quote, on August 1, 2017, Commerce Secretary Wibur Ross penned an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Free Trade Is a Two Way Street”.  In the article, Commerce Secretary Ross argued that many countries erect barriers to US exports, but then went on to state:

“Both China and Europe also bankroll their exports through grants, low-cost loans, energy subsidies, special value-added tax refunds, and below-market real-estate sales and leases, among other means. Comparable levels of government support do not exist in the U.S. If these countries really are free traders, why do they have such formidable tariff and nontariff barriers?

Until we make better deals with our trading partners, we will never know precisely how much of our deficit in goods is due to such trickery. But there can be no question that these barriers are responsible for a significant portion of our current trade imbalance.

China is not a market economy. The Chinese government creates national champions and takes other actions that significantly distort markets. Responding to such actions with trade remedies is not protectionist. In fact, the World Trade Organization specifically permits its members to take action when other countries are subsidizing, dumping and engaging in other unfair trade practices.

Consistent with WTO rules, the U.S. has since Jan. 20 brought 54 trade-remedy actions— antidumping and countervailing duty investigations—compared with 40 brought during the same period last year. The U.S. currently has 403 outstanding orders against 42 countries.

But unfortunately, in its annual reports, the WTO consistently casts the increase of trade enforcement cases as evidence of protectionism by the countries lodging the complaints. Apparently, the possibility never occurs to the WTO that there are more trade cases because there are more trade abuses.

The WTO should protect free and fair trade among nations, not attack those trade remedies necessary to ensure a level playing field. Defending U.S. workers and businesses against this onslaught should not be mislabeled as protectionism. Insisting on fair trade is the best way to ensure the long-term strength of the international trading system.

The Trump administration believes in free and fair trade and will use every available tool to counter the protectionism of those who pledge allegiance to free trade while violating its core principles. The U.S. is working to restore a level playing field, and under President Trump’s leadership, we will do so.

This is a true free-trade agenda.”

Let me begin by saying no one has a problem with US government actions challenging foreign, including Chinese, barriers to US exports.  Every Administration be it Republican or Democrat has taken a tough stance to drop foreign barriers to US exports.  In fact, many Senators and Congressmen are pressuring the Trump Administration for more free trade agreements because they remove barriers to US exports.  The TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership, would have dropped tariffs down to 0 on more than 18,000 products exported by US companies, many agricultural products.

Although no one doubts that the Chinese market is significantly distorted, many foreign markets and in some cases US markets are significantly distorted.  The US steel market with the many outstanding trade orders blocking steel imports is a good example of a significantly distorted market in which the US price for steel is much higher than the World market price.

Also no one doubts that many countries subsidize their exports or dump in the US market.  For many years, the Commerce Department was able to find very high dumping rates on Japanese imports in antidumping cases by using price to price comparisons, which found that Japanese prices were significantly higher, sometimes four times higher, than US prices for the same Japanese product.  That is classic dumping using higher prices in the home market to fuel lower prices to the United States.

The Japanese companies were able to use dumping because the Japanese Government erected non-tariff trade barriers to block imports from the US and other countries creating very high domestic Japanese prices.  To protect its mikan /tangerine industry, for example, for many years Japan blocked all imports of citrus fruit.  But it is also interesting to note that there are no outstanding countervailing duty/anti-subsidy orders against Japanese products.

The Chinese governments, especially the local governments, also subsidize their exports and provide low interest loans to their companies, but so does the US government, through its subsidies in the Agriculture area, and the State Governments, which will waive state income taxes or help with low interest loans, to encourage production of companies, such as Foxconn, to move to their states.

But the US Countervailing Duty law applies to China now and the Commerce Department has not been shy in finding Chinese imports into the United States to be subsidized.  It should be noted, that the WTO has overturned 28 US Countervailing Duty cases against China, in part, because the WTO has ruled that Chinese state-owned companies are not necessarily the Chinese government itself, as the Commerce Department has ruled.

The US too has state-owned companies, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity to certain parts of the US.  Should foreign governments assume that all electricity from the TVA is subsidized because it is owned by the US government?

The major problem, however, is the Commerce Department’s application of the antidumping law.

In the 1980s, James Bovard authored a book called the “Fair Trade Fraud”, which outlined many of these same problems in the US antidumping law.  But nothing has changed.  Instead Commerce has just developed new methodologies to increase antidumping rates even higher.

Moreover, the same economic warfare arguments were made about Japan in the 1980s.  Although China does not have clean hands, that does not mean that every single import from China is unfairly traded.  In fact, I would argue that a significant percentage, if not the majority, of imports from China are fairly traded.  The Chinese government simply does not care about the Chinese Mushroom, Honey, Crawfish or Shrimp industries and does not set the prices for those products or any of the inputs.  Does the Chinese government really care about the price of cow manure in China, a major input for mushrooms?

Remember Commerce over decades has so distorted the US antidumping law that it finds dumping in 100% of the cases from China because it refuses to look at actual prices and costs in China.  If you have a hanging judge, does that mean every single import from China is dumped/unfairly traded?

Instead, Commerce should start easing the restrictions on the market economy status of China so as to determine which Chinese companies are truly dumping in the US market and nail them to the wall.  Commerce should make its antidumping cases against China mirror actual reality in China, not for the Chinese companies, but for US importers and downstream customers.

Right now, because of its refusal to use actual prices and costs in China, neither Donald Trump, nor Wilbur Ross nor the Commerce Department know which Chinese companies are truly dumping and which Chinese companies are not.  Until Commerce starts uses actual prices and costs in China, no one will know which Chinese company is truly dumping,

Finally, the Commerce Department decision to tilt the playing ground and find dumping in every antidumping and countervailing duty case against China and also against almost all every other foreign county has created a situation so that the public perception is that almost every import into the US is dumped.  These hanging judge decisions fuel the protectionist/isolationist political rhetoric in the United States badly damaging US industry and agriculture.  It has also led to a mentality by many US companies of international trade victimhood.  We poor US companies simply cannot compete in the international or US market because all foreign exports and US imports are subsidized or dumped.

Instead, US companies want to rely on US government issued protectionist walls to protect themselves from competition rather than finding a way to make the US companies competitive again.  See the article on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below.

SECTION 232 STEEL AND ALUMINUM CASES STALLED

The Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases continue to be stalled.  On August 21ST,  Politico reported:

“WHITHER THE NATIONAL SECURITY STEEL INVESTIGATION? White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House . . tipped the balance of Trump’s economic advisers firmly toward the more centrist “globalist” wing – and that could mean that two reports examining whether to limit imports of steel and aluminum for national security reasons could be indefinitely delayed. The Commerce Department has prepared a report on its findings that is circulating among agencies, but the administration has decided to dial down the investigations as it turns its attention to tax reform . . . .

Part of the reason is the departure of Bannon, who had been a major proponent of the move. But the decision to put off the investigations was also made in part because of opposition from business groups and Republican lawmakers who were worried it would hurt steel users and the broader economy, the news report said. .

Although President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross thought they had found a panacea, cure all, for US trade problems, using Section 232 National Security cases to put large tariffs and/or quotas on Steel, Aluminum and other raw material products, something happened on the way to the Trump trade heaven—reality.  The major problem is that the steel industry has only 141,000 jobs at stake while downstream steel users have millions of jobs at stake.

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

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

In the past Secretary Ross has stated that the Section 232 case is meant to fill the gaps created by the patchwork of antidumping and countervailing duties on foreign steel, which he said have provided only limited relief to the U.S. industry.

Under the terms of the executive order, an interagency group will present a report to the White House within 270 days that identifies goods that are essential for national security and analyzes the ability of the defense industrial base to produce those goods.

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

Although Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pledged to get the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum reports to President Trump’s desk by the end of June, that did not happen as the Administration began to realize the impact a broad tariff on steel or aluminum raw material inputs would have on downstream steel and aluminum users, which are dependent on high quality, competitively priced steel products to produce competitive downstream products made from steel and aluminum.

In response to the delay in the Section 232 Steel case, American steel industry executives appealed directly to President Donald Trump for immediate import restrictions because steel imports have surged back to 2015 levels.  As the letter states:

“The need for action is urgent. Since the 232 investigation was announced in April, imports have continued to surge.  Immediate action must meaningfully adjust imports to restore healthy levels of capacity utilization and profitability to the domestic industry over a sustained period.”

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), an industry trade group, reported on Wednesday that total steel imports through July this year were up 22 percent from the same period a year ago, with imports taking 28 percent of the U.S.  market.

In the letter, Steel company executives from Nucor Corp., U.S.  Steel, ArcelorMittal and Commercial Metals Co. said the sustained surge of steel imports into the United States had “hollowed out” much of the domestic steel industry and was threatening its ability to meet national security needs.

“Your leadership in finding a solution to the crisis facing the steel industry is badly needed now. Only you can authorize actions that can solve this crisis and we are asking for your immediate assistance.”

The collateral damage to the many US producers that produce downstream steel products created by any across the board tariffs on steel imports makes it very difficult for the Administration to use a broad brush to fix the steel problem.  That is the problem with purely protectionist decisions.  They distort the US market and simply transfer the problems of the steel industry to other downstream industries.

But does that mean the US government should simply let the US Steel industry and other manufacturing industries die?  The election of Donald Trump indicates  politically that simply is not a viable option.

Although Joseph Schumpeter in his book Capitalism, Socialism and Demcracy coined the term “creative destructionism”, which conservatives and libertarians love to quote, they do not acknowledge the real premise of Schumpeter’s book that capitalism by itself could not long survive.  Schumpeter himself observed the collateral damage created by pure capitalism.

So what can be done for the steel and other manufacturing industries?  Answer work with the companies on an individual basis to help them adjust to import competition and compete in the markets as they exist today.  Moreover, there is already a government program, which can serve as a model to provide such a service—the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies Program.

What is the TAA for Companies secret sauce?  Making US companies competitive again.  Only by making US manufacturing companies competitive again will the trade problems really be solved.  US industry needs to stop wallowing in international trade victimhood and cure its own ills first before always blaming the foreigners.  That is exactly what TAA for Companies does—helps US companies cure their own ills first by making them competitive again.

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

As stated above, there is another more productive way to solve the Steel crisis and fix the trade problem and help US companies, including Steel and other companies, adjust to import competition.  This program has a true track record of saving US companies injured by imports.

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

But as stated in the video below, for companies to succeed they must first give up the mentality of international trade victimhood.

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

Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.  To retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job is $5,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

But TAA for Companies has been cut to the bone.  On August 22, 2017, in the attached press release, US Commerce Department Announces $13.3 Million to Boost Competitiveness of US Ma, the U.S. Commerce Department announced $13.3 Million to Boost Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers.  The press release specifically stated:

“WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today announced $13.3 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to support 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers (TAACs) in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington that help manufacturers affected by imports adjust to increasing global competition and create jobs.

“The Trump administration is working every day to help America’s manufacturers, their workers, and their communities,” said Secretary Ross. “This funding is one element of a government-wide effort to restore American jobs and strengthen U.S. manufacturing.”

The 11 grants include:

$1.7 million to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, for the Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center

$1.2 million to the Mid-Atlantic Employers’ Association, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, for the Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance  Center

$978,000 to the New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, Inc., North Billerica, Massachusetts

$1.1 million to the Research Foundation, State University of New York Binghamton, for the New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico Trade Adjustment Assistance Center

$1.2 million to the University of Colorado at Boulder for the Rocky Mountain Trade Adjustment Assistance Center . . .

$1 million to the University of Missouri–Columbia for the Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance Center …

$1.2 million to the Trade Task Group, Seattle, Washington, for the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center…

EDA’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program funds 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers across the nation. The centers support a wide range of technical, planning, and business recovery projects that help companies and the communities that depend on them adapt to international competition and diversify their economies.  . . .

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.”  . . .

Are such paltry sums really going to help solve the manufacturing crisis in the Steel and other industries?  Of course not!!

But when the program was originally set up, the budget was much larger at $50 to $100 million.  If the program was funded to its full potential, yes steel companies and other companies could be saved.

To those libertarian conservatives that reject such a program as interference in the market, my response is that this program was personally approved by your icon, President Ronald Reagan.  He understood that there was a price for free trade and avoiding protectionism and that is helping those companies injured by import competition.  But teaching companies how to be competitive is a much bigger bang for the buck than simply retraining workers.  And yes companies can learn and be competitive again in the US and other markets.

In the attached article entitled “Steel Competitiveness Seriously?”, Steel Competitiveness, William J. Bujalos, the head of the Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center,  makes the proposal to expand the program to help large manufacturing companies, including steel producers.  Mr. Bujalos states:

“Current reports suggest that the nation’s steel industry is experiencing a rebound – a rebound driven by a growing collective confidence about America’s economic future.

That’s all good but irrelevant because confidence is not a strategy for growing the nation’s global competitiveness. What is relevant is the extent to which our companies are able to grow other much more important things, like metrics critical to their competitive success. Do that and the power of any confidence index won’t matter.

Let me explain. Since 1998 I have been leading the nation’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program in the Mid-Atlantic region. My business experience during the last 50 years has yielded insight into the kinds of things that have the highest probability for success at reversing an enterprise’s negative fortunes irrespective of the competitive battlespace that they’ve chosen to play in. Prior lives involved corporate management in both private and public sectors (large and small companies) in a wide variety of markets that included: management consulting, chemicals, plastics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, automotive systems, battery tech and steel – and I’ve learned that there are some things that are universal …

For example, I’m a believer that, for businesses of all stripes, there is only one true asset to be quantified and listed on the Balance Sheet – knowledge. Nothing else really matters at the end of the day. And the overarching value of TAAF is that it is this nation’s singularly effective business model that injects it directly into a company’s bloodstream over an extended period of time, i.e. half a decade. That sort of holistic, long-term approach yields the biggest chance for success because it has a high probability of permanently upgrading a company’s core DNA.

In my view steel companies don’t operate in markets that are fundamentally any different from markets in general. No markets are forgiving. No customer base is loyal. Some players don’t play fair. No amount of investment is worth it if indigenous leadership is of poor quality. So as a direct consequence, all companies that are serious about permanently enhancing their global competitiveness must achieve mastery over stuff like: competitive intelligence, customer intelligence, market dynamics intelligence, costs/managerial finance, talent/leadership development, product development, planning effectiveness, etc., etc., etc.

In other words: it’s the knowledge stuff that’s critical and little else. And in my humble opinion, focusing the attributes that TAAF brings to the table on that industry on a larger scale would yield stunning results.

The TAAF business model places its nationwide network of Trade Adjustment Centers (i.e. TAACs) in the unique position of being the right catalyst at the right place at the right time. Does it always work? Certainly not. What does? But it works better than just about anything else in America’s tool kit. It is unique. And here’s the kicker, we don’t ask for equity. On behalf of the American taxpayer we simply insist on pure, unadulterated, robust, and relentless commitment from the Chief Executive Officer down to the shop floor. Absent that? Well, it’s unfortunate but some companies probably should fail.

This approach really works, without costing a great deal of money or causing economic disruption while at the same time providing our political establishment the cover it needs to smooth passage of critical treaties – and, because a company must match our injection dollar-for-dollar throughout the process, the American taxpayer is assured of management’s total and focused commitment for one simple reason … they share in the risk!

Bottom line? The long-term holistic approach is effective. The business model, stipulating unique strategies addressing each company’s unique circumstances, is effective. The program’s neutral economic impact is effective. It’s ability to support passage of trade agreements while not impeding the benefits of free trade is effective. It’s ability to lessen the costs associated with the engagement of outside expertise to reengineer critical business processes is effective.

And I firmly believe that it’s application is not limited to America’s smallest makers – only its funding is. For several decades that’s been little more than an afterthought.

Consider …

  • All manufacturing companies were at one time small ones.
  • All manufacturing companies are impacted by globalization.
  • Small ones need outside expertise to teach them basic stuff.
  • Larger ones need outside expertise to teach them sophisticated stuff.
  • Small makers, because they’re learning the basics and have little resources to tap, take a longer time to turn the corner.
  • Larger makers, because the basics are already inculcated and they have the requisite resources at hand, can turn the corner at much higher speed.
  • And if you were the Chief Executive of a tier-one domestic manufacturer, would you doubt for a minute –
    • That your supply chain probably has several thousand companies in it?
    • That extensive improvement in their performance would have a significantly positive impact on your performance?
  • Improvement in the performance of the small cohort will increase the probability that fewer will fail because a greater proportion will grow into larger ones – driving concomitant growth in good-paying manufacturing jobs and the creation of wealth. Go ahead. Beat that with a stick!”

For those who would simply dismiss the idea as impossible and too simplistic, watch the video.  The program works.  See http://mataac.org/howitworks/.

TRUMP AND CHINA

SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA ON FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS MOVES FORWARD

In an attached August 18th Federal Register notice based on an August 14th Presidential Memorandum, 301 INITIATION NOTICE Presidential Memorandum for the United States Trade Representative whitehouseg, President Trump pulled the trigger on the Section 301 Intellection property case against China.  The Section 301 investigation could take a year and probably will lead to negotiations with the Chinese government on technology transfer.  If the negotiations fail, the US could take unilateral action, such as increasing tariffs, or pursue a case through the World Trade Organization.  Unilateral actions under Section 301, however, also risk a WTO case against the United States in Geneva.

The notice states that the USTR will specifically investigate the following specific types of conduct:

“First, the Chinese government reportedly uses a variety of tools, including opaque and discretionary administrative approval processes, joint venture requirements, foreign equity limitations, procurements, and other mechanisms to regulate or intervene in U.S. companies’ operations in China, in order to require or pressure the transfer of technologies and intellectual property to Chinese companies. Moreover, many U.S. companies report facing vague and unwritten rules, as well as local rules that diverge from national ones, which are applied in a selective and non-transparent manner by Chinese government officials to pressure technology transfer.

Second, the Chinese government’s acts, policies and practices reportedly deprive U.S. companies of the ability to set market-based terms in licensing and other technology-related negotiations with Chinese companies and undermine U.S. companies’ control over their technology in China. For example, the Regulations on Technology Import and Export Administration mandate particular terms for indemnities and ownership of technology improvements for imported technology, and other measures also impose non-market terms in licensing and technology contracts.

Third, the Chinese government reportedly directs and/or unfairly facilitates the systematic investment in, and/or acquisition of, U.S. companies and assets by Chinese companies to obtain cutting-edge technologies and intellectual property and generate large-scale technology transfer in industries deemed important by Chinese government industrial plans.

Fourth, the investigation will consider whether the Chinese government is conducting or supporting unauthorized intrusions into U.S. commercial computer networks or cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or confidential business information, and whether this conduct harms U.S. companies or provides competitive advantages to Chinese companies or commercial sectors.”

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) will hold a hearing on October 10th at the International Trade Commission and public comments are to be submitted by September 28th.

In an August 30, 2017 article by Dan Harris, who heads my law firm, on his China law blog at http://www.chinalawblog.com/2017/08/china-us-trade-wars-and-the-ip-elephant-in-the-room.html, entitled “China-US Trade Wars and the IP Elephant in the Room”, Dan states that in over one hundred negotiations with Chinese companies, he has not seem the Chinese government demand IP rights.  What he has seen is bad negotiating:

“I have been called by reporters at least a half dozen times in the last couple of weeks regarding the Trump Administration’s planned investigation of China’s IP practices. But what I tell these reporters fits so badly with THE narrative that my name is not showing up in print. Sorry, but I can’t help it.

Here’s the situation. The Trump Administration is claiming that China’s government forces American companies to relinquish its IP to China and my problem is that despite my firm having worked on literally hundreds of China transactions that involve IP, I have very little proof of this. So no real story there.

Here though is the story as seen from my eyes and from the eyes of the China attorneys at my firm, readily conceding that we have not seen even close to everything.

We have never been involved in a China transaction where it has been clear to us that the Chinese government has forced our client to relinquish its IP to China. We have though been involved in a million transactions where the Chinese party on the other side — sometimes a State Owned Entity, but way more often not — has vigorously and aggressively sought to get our client to part with its IP for a very low price. Is the Chinese government behind this sort of pressure? Don’t know? Probably sometimes, but probably most of the time not. If the transaction involves rubber duckies, we can assume not. If it involves next generation computer chips, well that is probably a very different story.

Anyway, as we write on here so often, there are many terrible technology transfer and other sorts of IP deals to be had with Chinese companies and we have too often — even against our China attorneys’ clear counsel to our clients not to do it — seen our clients make bad deals that will involve them turning over their IP with little to no chance of receiving full value for it. But these companies have not been forced, not in the sense that any government was forcing them to do anything. These companies were simply willing to take huge risks either because they could not grasp the risks or because they felt they had no other choice for financial reasons.

In Three Myths of China Technology Transfers, we wrote about how our clients all too often forge ahead with bad deals and why, and we nowhere mention government compulsion:

A Chinese company that intends to violate a licensing agreement and run off with the foreign company’s IP will usually have a very clear plan. What the China lawyers in my office call the Standard Plan works as follows. First, the Chinese company will negotiate in a way that guarantees a weak license that cannot be enforced against them by the foreign party. The tricks used to do this are quite standardized. Second, the Chinese company will ensure that it does not make any (or else it makes very few) payments until after it has already received the technology. If the Chinese company makes any payment at all, it will make a minimal number of payments, usually late and in violation of the agreement and then once it has received enough of the technology it seeks, it will cease making any payments entirely.

When our China attorneys encounter a Chinese company clearly working on the Standard Plan, we warn our clients. However, it is also typical for our clients to nonetheless want to forge on ahead. The client will usually explain how their situation is unique and that means the Chinese could not possibly be planning to breach.

We discuss again in China Technology Transfers: The Relationship and Deal Structure Myths how it is that American companies lose their IP to Chinese companies and we again leave out government force:

Due to a partnership relationship, the foreign side often wrongly believes it is somehow better protected against IP theft. The foreign side then lets down its guard, only to learn that its China partner has appropriated its core technology. This sense of partnership is most common with SMEs and technology startups, especially those companies whose owner is directly involved in the relationship with the Chinese entity.

In China and The Internet of Things and How to Destroy Your Own Company I rant about technology companies that literally destroy themselves by failing to do enough to protect their IP from China:

Well for what it is worth, I will no longer describe technology companies as a whole as our dumbest clients when it comes to China. No, that honor now clearly belongs to a subset of technology companies: Internet of Things companies. And mind you, we love, love, love Internet of Things companies. For proof of this, just go to our recent post, China and the Internet of Things: A Love Story. Internet of Things (a/k/a IoT) companies are sprouting all over the place and they are booming. Most importantly for us, they need a ton of legal work because just about all IoT products are being made in China, more particularly, in Shenzhen. And just about all IoT products need a ton of complicated IP assistance.

So then why am I saying they are so dumb about China? Because they are relinquishing their intellectual property to Chinese companies more often, more wantonly, and more destructively than companies in any other industry I (or any of my firm’s other Chinese lawyers) have ever seen. Ever. And by a stunningly wide margin.

I then list out the following as “my prime example, taken from at least a half dozen real life examples in just the last few months”:

IoT Company: We just completed our Kickstarter (sometimes Indiegogo) campaign and we totally killed it and so now we are ready to get serious about protecting our IP in China.

One of our China Lawyers: Great. Where are you right now with China?

IoT Company: We have been working with a great company in Shenzhen. Together we are working on wrapping up the product and it should be ready in a few months.

China Lawyer: Okay. Do you have any sort of agreement with this Chinese company regarding your IP or production costs or anything else?

IoT Company: We have an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that talks about how we will cooperate. They’ve really been great. They have told us that they would enter into a contract with us whenever we are ready.

China Lawyer: Can you please send us the MOU? Have you talked about what that contract will say?

IoT Company: Sure, we can send the MOU. It’s one page. No, we haven’t really talked much beyond just what we need to do to get the product completed.

China Lawyer: Okay, we will look at your MOU and then get back to you with our thoughts.

Then, a day or two later we a conversation like the following ensues:

China Lawyer: We looked at your “MOU” and we have bad news for you. We think there is a very good chance a Chinese court would view that MOU as a contract. (For why we say this, check out Beware Of Being Burned By The China MOU/LOI) And the Chinese language portion of the MOU — which is all that a Chinese court will be considering — is very different from the English language portion. The Chinese language portion says that any IP the two of you develop (the IoT company and the Chinese manufacturer) belongs to the Chinese company. So what we see is that as things now stand, there is a very good chance the Chinese company owns your IP. This being the case, there is no point in our writing a Product Development Agreement because your Chinese manufacturer is not going to sign that.

IoT Company: (And I swear we get this sort of response at least 90 percent of the time) I’m not worried. I think you have it wrong. I’m sure that they will sign such an agreement because we orally agreed on this before we even started the project.

China Lawyer: That’s fine, but I still think it makes sense for you to at least make sure that the Chinese company will sign a new contract making clear that the IP associated with your product belongs to you, because if they won’t sign something that says that, there is no point in our drafting such a contract and, most importantly, there is no point in your paying us to do so.

So far not a single such IoT company has been able to come back to us with an agreement from their Chinese manufacturer to sign.

Again, no government force, just an overzealous and insufficiently careful foreign company.

Now before anyone excoriates me for ignoring reality, let me say that I have read about instances where the Chinese government has “forced” foreign companies to turn over their IP to China; high speed rail is an often cited example of that. And I do not doubt that it happens in critical industries (nuclear power would be another example). And I am also not unaware of how China is increasingly forcing foreign companies to store their data in China, which absolutely puts technology at risk. But even in these instances the foreign company has some choice. Not good choices, I know. And arguably it is no choice at all when the decision is between doing business in China or not. The last thing I want to do is get all philosophical on anyone regarding what constitutes choice so I will leave it to our individual readers to determine for themselves where on the continuum of force and choice they want to put any and all of the above.

There is plenty to complain about how China protects IP and there is plenty to complain about how China protects foreign companies that do business in China or with China, but I am just not sure complaining about forced IP transfers goes at the top of that list for most American companies. When I talk with American and European and Australian companies about China their biggest legal complaint is invariably how expensive it is for them to comply with China laws and how they resent that their Chinese competitors generally are not held to the same legal standards.

A couple of years ago, I gave the following testimony before The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission of the United States Congress:

I was introduced as an expert, and I’d like to qualify that by saying do not think of myself as an expert. I am just a private practice lawyer who represents American and Australian companies and some European and Canadian companies as well in China.

I’m going to tell you a little bit about what we do so you can get a little bit better perspective of where I’m coming from on this. The bulk of my firms’ clients are small and medium-size businesses, mostly American businesses, but some European and Australian and Canadian businesses as well. Most of them have revenues between 100 million and a billion a year. Our clients are mostly tech companies, manufacturing companies and service businesses.

About 20 percent of our work is for companies in the movie and entertainment industry. We have some clients in highly-regulated industries, like health care, senior care, banking, insurance, finance, telecom and mining, but those companies make up less than ten percent of our client base.

Most of the China work we do for our clients is relatively routine. We help them register as companies in China. We register their trademarks and copyrights in China. We draft their contracts with Chinese companies. We help them with their employment, tax and customs matters. We oversee their litigation in China, and we represent them in arbitrations in China. We help them buy Chinese companies.

For our clients, the big anti-foreign issue is whether they will be allowed to conduct business at all in China as that is certainly not always a given. Certain industries in China are shut off or limited to foreign businesses acting alone. For our clients, publishing and movies are most prominent.

Essentially anything that might allow for nongovernmental communication to or between Chinese citizens is problematic, but it is not clear to me that these limitations are intended to be anti-foreign, as China does not really want any private entities, foreign or Chinese, engaging in these activities without strict governmental oversight.

So do these limits against foreign companies arise from anti-foreign bias or just the Chinese government’s belief that it can better control Chinese companies? To our clients, that distinction doesn’t matter.

On day-to-day legal matters, our clients are almost invariably treated pursuant to law, and so long as they abide by the law, they seldom have any problems. The problem for our clients isn’t so much how the Chinese government treats them; it’s how they are treated as compared to their Chinese competitors who are less likely to abide by the laws and more likely to get away with it.

I have no statistics on this. I doubt there are any statistics on this, but I see it and I hear it all the time.

I see it when one of our clients buys a Chinese business that has half of its employees off the grid and has facilities that are not even close to being in compliance with use laws, and I know foreign companies cannot get away with that.

And I hear it from Chinese employees of our clients who insist that there is no need for our clients to follow various laws. They insist there is no need to follow various laws and to do so is stupid. Is this disparity due to anti-foreign bias or is it due to corruption? Again, for our clients, the answer is irrelevant.

Is the Trump administration’s IP investigation a negotiating ploy done as much to get at disparate treatment as it is to get at forced technology transfers? I do not think it is, but some who know more about such things tell me it may be.

CNN was the only one of the media companies that both interviewed me on the above issues and ended up quoting me and I like how it handled the issue in its article, President Trump is set to crank up the pressure on China over trade:

Beijing has other ways of getting its hands on valuable commercial information. Officials often insist on taking a close look at technology that foreign companies want to sell in China.

“Chinese government authorities jeopardize the value of trade secrets by demanding unnecessary disclosure of confidential information for product approvals,” the American Chamber of Commerce in China said in a report published in April.

Some experts say that handing over technology has effectively become a cost of doing business in China — a market too big for most companies to ignore.

“Many Chinese companies go after technology hard and the tactics they use show up again and again, leading us to believe there is some force (the government?) teaching them how to do these things,” said Dan Harris, a Seattle-based attorney who advises international companies on doing business in China.

“The thing is that the foreign companies that give up their technology usually do so at least somewhat of their own volition,” he told CNNMoney. “Yes, maybe they need to do so to get into China, but they also have the choice not to go into China, right?”

Closing the stable door?

Other analysts say that the U.S. administration is coming to the problem too late.

“Intellectual property (IP) theft is yesterday’s issue,” wrote Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“In part because of past technology transfer and in part because of heavy, sustained government investment in science and research, China has developed its own innovative capabilities,” he wrote.

“Creating new IP in the United States is more important than keeping IP from China.”

These are really complicated issues and I realize the above is more of a stream of consciousness “thoughts dump” than a coherent position paper. So more than ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.”

Dan’s point is that it is often bad negotiating tactics by the US side that leads to companies giving away their technology, not Chinese government pressure.

On August 15th, Investors Business Daily speculated that “Trump’s Trade War With China Is War On North Korea By Other Means” stating:

“But they [the Chinese government] may have underestimated Trump: He has the will, and likely the political support, for an even-more damaging war with China over trade. With the U.S. China’s largest market — in 2016, U.S. imports from China totaled nearly half a trillion dollars — a trade war is a serious threat to China, which is already showing signs of economic slowing.

That’s what’s behind Trump’s sudden decision to investigate China’s rampant theft of U.S. intellectual property. And on trade grounds only, Trump is right to investigate this, since it’s enshrined in both U.S. law and international trade treaties that egregious trade violations warrant retaliatory actions if the violations aren’t fixed.

The U.S. has been jawboning China on this for years, to no effect. China for years has seen the U.S. as a paper tiger, too feckless to act on its own behalf. Now, Trump is showing it otherwise. . .

Once again, Trump the savvy business negotiator seems to know his foe’s weak points.

Perhaps hoping to stall Trump’s trade action, China announced that it would cease North Korean imports of coal, iron and lead, and seafood, starting Sept. 5, in keeping with U.N. sanctions imposed on Kim Jong Un’s regime.

In a joint statement Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor Gen. James Mattis made explicit the link between China, trade and North Korea: “China is North Korea’s neighbor, sole treaty ally and main commercial partner,” they wrote. “Chinese entities are, in one way or another, involved with roughly 90% of North Korean trade. This affords China an unparalleled opportunity to assert its influence with the regime.”

The clear message: If you support North Korea’s regime economically, we’ll hurt you economically in return. It’s a Trumpian twist on Von Clausewitz’s famous dictum about war and politics: “(A trade) war is the continuation of politics by other means.”

As we’ve said before, we take a back seat to no one in advocating on behalf of free trade. But when one side routinely and systematically steals hundreds of billions of dollars worth of intellectual property, that’s no longer free trade. It’s piracy. . . .

North Korea’s nuclear blackmail, aided by China’s patronage, is not acceptable. If it takes trade sanctions to get China’s diplomatic attention, so be it. It’s time that China’s charade over its support of North Korea comes to an end.”

On August 8th, in an article entitled “Second Thoughts on Trade with China” William Galston for the Wall Street Journal stated:

“It is China’s techno-nationalism that poses the greatest threat to our future. In 2006 the Chinese government adopted a long-term plan to promote what it called “indigenous innovation.” As James McGregor, a leading expert on the Chinese economy, writes, China’s leading-edge firms were directed to obtain technology from their multinational partners through “co-innovation and re-innovation based on the assimilation of imported technologies.”

In practice, this meant giving American firms an offer Don Corleone would have recognized—either to “share their technologies with Chinese competitors—or refuse and miss out on the world’s fastest-growing market.” China’s ultimate goal is to use forced technology transfer to replace the U.S. as the world’s leading economy. . . .

Existing legal tools may not suffice to end these discriminatory practices. Although the WTO prohibits mandatory technology transfers, the Chinese government’s position is that trading technology for market access is purely a business decision. Protectionist government purchases are a key part of China’s strategy. . . .

If turning over our technological crown jewels to a foreign power is against the national interest, then our government should have the power to prevent it. But wielding this power without blowing up the international trade regime will not be easy.”

On August 21st, in an editorial entitled “Yes, China Steals U.S. Intellectual Property, But That Doesn’t Mean Trade With China Is A Bad Thing” Investors Business Daily tempered its initial response on the Section 301 case stating:

“Everyone is angry at China right now, and perhaps with good reason. China’s regime often bends trade rules to its own needs, and breaks them or ignores them when it’s convenient. . . .

The U.S. shouldn’t tolerate cheating on trade, by China or anyone else. It’s a matter of jobs and income for Americans and the companies that employ them.

Even so, that doesn’t mean everything China has done has been bad for the U.S. Far from it.

A new study, ” How Did China’s WTO Entry Benefit U.S. Consumers?” from the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research, shows why. It notes that from the time China joined the World Trade Organization in 2000 to 2006, the U.S. inflation index for factory goods fell an estimated 7.6%.

This might not sound like a lot, but it is. “The resulting savings were large,” the study says. “U.S. manufacturing sector production was valued at $4.5 trillion in 2014, so if prices had been 7.6% higher, that production would have cost $340 billion more.”

That is, profits for U.S. firms were likely billions of dollars higher over that six-year period than otherwise. And prices to American consumers fell.

How did this happen? The simple answer is freer trade. China cut its average tariff on manufacturing inputs from 15% in 2000 to 9% in 2006, a 40% reduction. Meanwhile, China’s government lifted export limits on its domestic companies, got rid of capital requirements, eased restrictions on foreign investment, raised its limits on textile exports and lowered the number of goods that required import licenses.

The result: China’s factory exports to the U.S. surged 290% from 2000 to 2006.

According to the study, “69% of the growth was driven by new exporters offering a widening variety of products, while 16% was created by incumbent firms exporting new products.”

The lower tariffs and other reductions in trade restrictions led to a Chinese   productivity boom, with an average 10% per year gain in productivity for Chinese companies that exported to the U.S. As for the price of U.S. manufactured goods, about two-thirds of the 7.6% reduction in factory prices here was due to China’s tariff cuts.

But didn’t the food of Chinese factory-made goods to the U.S. decimate American manufacturing during this period? That’s a myth. As the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monthly manufacturing index shows, from 2000 to 2006 American factory output rose a healthy 11.5%. It wasn’t decimated by the surge in Chinese exports to the U.S. It only crashed when the financial crisis hit.

For its part, China’s communist    government in the  early  2000s  found   that taking  its hands off  the economy’s windpipe and engaging with the rest of the world through trade was  an  effective  strategy for making its economy grow. We  also  benefited  from that.

Now the Trump administration is warning an increasingly hostile China that its recent trade violations aren’t acceptable. China, in response, has blasted the U.S. for its “protectionism.”

We hope a negotiated solution can be found. At the same time, we might want to think seriously about it before we back a giant U.S.-China trade war that could make all of us, Americans and Chinese, much worse off.”

In early 2000, China’s brilliant economic guru Premier Zhu Rongyi believed that China should join the WTO, not for the benefit of the United States or Europe, but for the benefit of China.  Premier Zhu realized that China would benefit from free trade by breaking down its own protectionist walls, which isolated China from the rest of the World.

It is somewhat ironic that the United States is apparently moving in the opposite direction, building protectionist walls to protect its companies from foreign competition.  Many US politicians have fallen into the trap of international trade victimhood because they simply do not understand the benefits of free trade to the United States.

SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE

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

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

Prehearing briefs and posthearing briefs have been filed at the ITC and the ITC hearing was held on August 15th and was reportedly 11 hours long.

If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, it will go into a remedy phase and the hearing in that phase will be on October 3, 2017. Attached is the ITC public prehearing staff report, 2017.08.01 ITC Solar 201 Prehearing Report PUB.

The Staff Report shows that imports are up, value of imports are down, but US producers’ production and capacity have increased during the period of investigation 2012-2016.  Moreover, US producers’ profits and sales have increased in the period.  This is a very mixed staff report with no clear trends and could lead to a negative ITC injury determination on September 22nd.

Meanwhile, sixteen US senators have urged the ITC to consider how the increased tariffs on foreign solar cells could hurt the broader domestic solar industry. The letter specifically stated:

“We respectfully request that the commission carefully consider the potential negative impact that the high tariffs and minimum prices requested would have on the tens of thousands of solar workers in our states and on the hundreds of companies that employ them.”

The letter was signed by Senators: Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tillis (R-N.C.), Bennet (D- Colo.), Feinstein (D-Calif.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Perdue (R-Ga.), Gardner (R-Colo.), Heller (R-Nev.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Moran (R- Kan.), Scott (R-S.C.), Cardin (D-Md.), King (I-Maine), Collins (R-Maine), Markey (D-Mass.) and Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CIRCUMVENTION

On July 26, 2017, in the attached memorandum, prc-aluminum-extrusions-ar-072617, the Commerce Department published in the Federal Register a notice of affirmative final determination of circumvention of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders on aluminum extrusions from the People’s Republic of China. The Department determined that heat-treated extruded aluminum products that meet the chemical specifications for 5050 grade aluminum alloy, regardless of producer, exporter, or importer, constitute later-developed merchandise, are circumventing the orders.

As a result of the Department’s anti-circumvention determination, all heat-treated extruded aluminum products from the People’s Republic of China that meet the chemical specifications for 5050 grade aluminum alloy are considered to be in-scope merchandise and must be included in responses to the Department’s questionnaires.

FALSE CLAIMS ACT—FURNITURE

In a previous blog post,  I mentioned that the real hammer against transshipment of products to evade trade orders is not recent legislation from Congress, but the False Claims Act.  Under the False Claims Act, private parties can file suits in Federal District Court alleging fraud on the US government because of foreign exporters and US importers decision to use transshipment and other methods to evade US antidumping and countervailing duties.  Under the FCA, the relator can look back at 10 years of past imports and the antidumping duties in question can be over 100, 200 or even 300%.  Under the FCA the remedy is triple damages and when looking at imports over such a long period of time, the remedy can result in enormous payouts.

The private party files an FCA complaint as a relator on behalf of the US government.  The US government then decides whether or not to intervene in the case.  If the US government chooses to intervene, the relator is entitled to 15 to 25% of the recovery of the US government.  In one small FCA case here in Washington regarding medical bills, a clerk at a hospital received a payout of $2 to 3 million so anyone can be a relator.

More on point, In an intervention complaint, US GOVT INTERVENTION BLUE FURNITURE CASE, the US government intervened in a False Claims Act filed against evasion of millions of dollars in antidumping duties on imports of wooden bedroom furniture from China.

The lawsuit brought by University Loft Co., an Indiana-based wooden bedroom furniture company, accuses Florida-based Blue Furniture Solutions LLC, founder and president and its chief financial officer  of importing wooden bedroom furniture from China without paying the 216.01 percent anti-dumping rate by making false statements to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”).

In doing so, Blue Furniture escaped paying millions of dollars in duties and fees owed to the federal government from 2011 through 2015, the suit says.

The complaint states:

“To avoid the payment of anti-dumping duties and fees, defendants conspired with their Chinese manufacturers and exporters to fraudulently avoid customs duties and underpay fees owed to the United States by making false representations in entry documents about the nature and value of the imported merchandise.”

Specifically, the complaint states that Blue Furniture falsely identified its entries to Customs and Border Protection with codes and descriptions for merchandise that are not subject to antidumping duties.  But the complaint states that many of the wooden chests, dressers, nightstands, wardrobes and many of the beds imported were subject to antidumping duties.

In addition, the FCA complaint accuses the Florida-based company of instructing its China-based manufacturers and exporters how to mislabel and misclassify the merchandise on documents to be shown to CBP.

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

STAINLESS STEEL FLANGES FROM CHINA

On August 16, 2017, the Coalition of American Flange Producers and its individual members, Core Pipe Products, Inc., and Maass Flange Corporation filed new antidumping and countervailing duty cases against imports of Stainless Steel Flanges from China and India.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law. Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.30 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.32 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.33.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

WI-FI ENABLED ELECTRONIC DEVICES

On August 29, 2017, Sharp Corporation and Sharp Electronics Corporation filed a section 337 case against imports of Wi-Fi Enabled Electronic Devices.  The respondent companies named in the complaint are:

Hisense Co., Ltd., China; Hisense Electronic, Co., Ltd., China; Hisense International (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd., Hong Kong; Hisense USA Corporation, Suwanee, Georgia; Hisense Electronics Manufacturing Company of America Corporation, Suwanee, Georgia; Hisense USA Multimedia R&D Center, Inc., Suwanee, Georgia; and Hisense Inc., Huntington Beach, California.

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, including the impact on agriculture, the impact on downstream industries, the Section 232 and 301 cases, the 201 case against Solar Cells, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR – SECTION 232 CASES SLOW DOWN, CHINA TRADE PROBLEMS INCREASE, TAA FOR COMPANIES, SECTION 201 SOLAR, BAT DIES, NAFTA NEGOTIATING OBJECTIVES, NEW AD 337 CASES

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE AUGUST 7, 2017

Dear Friends,

Recently there have been two developments of note in US China trade relations.

NORTH KOREA AND NO SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA FOR THE TIME BEING

As mentioned in my last blog post, the North Korea crisis is affecting the US China Trade Relationship.  The decision of China to back the UN Security Council resolution on sanctions against North Korea has caused the Trump Administration to pull back and not move forward with a Section 301 case against China.

As Politico reported today:

NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS WAYLAY CHINA TRADE PROBE: To be honest, there were conflicting signals from administration officials early last week on the timing of an announcement that Trump would ask U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to investigate Chinese policies that compel foreign compel transfer technology and other intellectual property to do business there. Some said the announcement would come Thursday or Friday; others said it was not imminent.

It now appears that the “not imminent” camp was right. The reason was the State Department’s fear of upsetting its successful push for Chinese cooperation on new UN sanctions against North Korea. The new Security Council resolution, which passed 15-0 on Saturday, targets North Korea’s largest source of external revenue by imposing a total ban on the country’s exports of coal, in addition to iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.

The resolution imposes “over one billion dollars in cost to N.K.,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to a State Department estimate of how much Pyongyang would lose in hard currency in terms of export earnings.

As for the IP probe for China, sources said it could still happen, but there were conflicting signals on how soon. One administration official suggested there might not be an announcement this week because Lighthizer is out of the country.

Emphasis added.

When China helps the US on North Korea, Trump is going to lay back and not attack China over trade issues.  As mentioned before, Trump is the first President to overtly link trade deals with foreign policy issues.  He has made it very clear to China help us on North Korea and China will get a better trade deal.  So far that seems to be Trump’s goal with China.

President Trump is learning that trade is complicated.

SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE

Many companies have been calling me about the Section 201 Solar Cells case.  In that case, the US International Trade Commission {“ITC”) just issued its attached public prehearing report, 2017.08.01 ITC Solar 201 Prehearing Report PUB.  The hearing is scheduled for August 15th and the Commission’s injury determination is to be sent to the President on September 22nd.

The Staff Report shows that imports are up, value of imports are down, but US producers’ production and capacity have increased during the period of investigation 2012-2016.  Moreover, US producers’ profits and sales have increased in the period.

This is a very mixed staff report with no clear trends and could lead to a negative ITC injury determination on September 22nd.  The August 15th hearing will be very interesting.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR JULY 31, 2017

Dear Friends,

With the passage of the Trump Executive Order telling agencies, including the Department of Defense (“DOD”), to further study the problem, Trump’s trade war in the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases has run into reality—the impact on US downstream producers.  With a Greek Chorus of Senators and Congressmen telling the Administration to go slow, the dire warnings by downstream US users of these raw materials, and the threats of retaliation from many foreign countries, President Trump punted and decided to further study the situation.  As indicated below, in their comments numerous steel users were telling Commerce not only that Steel Tariffs would seriously damage their companies causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, but also that the Steel tariffs themselves could damage US national security by cutting DOD suppliers from very important supply lines for raw materials.

Apparently, President Trump and the Trump Administration listened.  It is easy for Candidate Trump to talk protectionism, but President Trump is now learning it is much more complicated.

Now is the time for an Emperor has no clothes moment.  The problems of the Steel industry go back decades long before Wilbur Ross arrived because of the decision to give big bonuses to management and large pensions to the Steel unions, which the companies simply can no longer fund.  These payments led to the failure to modernize and update steel production facilities and also produce specialized types of steel. That failure to produce many specialized types of steel at cost efficient prices has led to screams by US downstream steel producers with millions of jobs at stake.

But with Commerce saying there is no time deadline for the Section 232 Steel report and the Steel Unions crying doomsday and the loss of thousands of jobs, what is the solution?? As explained below, TAA for Companies, not trade protection, is the solution.  An alternative solution is needed for the Steel crisis that will not harm national security and injure more US industries.  TAA for Companies makes US companies more competitive without affecting the market in any way.

Meanwhile,  there is now talk of significant US trade sanctions against China because of North Korea.  Commerce also continues to find China a non-market economy country, and the US China Economic Talks fell apart over steel and aluminum, but also, in part, North Korea.

There are also dire warnings about the impact of the Section 201 Solar Case on US solar projects and the loss of thousands of jobs.  But the Border Adjustment tax is now officially dead, and USTR has released NAFTA negotiating objectives and the negotiations themselves are scheduled to start up on August 16 with one real issue being the impact on US agricultural exports.

New antidumping and countervailing duty cases have been filed against Cast Iron Soil Pipe Fittings and a Section 337 case against Ribbon Cables.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR—TRUMP PUNTS ON THE SECTION 232 STEEEL AND OTHER NATIONAL SECURITY CASES

Although President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross thought they had found a panacea, cure all, for US trade problems, using Section 232 National Security cases to put large tariffs and/or quotas on Steel, Aluminum and other raw material products, something happened on the way to the Trump trade heaven—reality.  Even though Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross promised to send completed Section 232 reports to the President by the end of June and President Trump promised that July would be the month of trade, nothing has happened to date, except for a Trump Executive Order stating that the Department of Defense and other agencies are to further study the manufacturing base needed to support US national security.

The first problem is an Emperor has no clothes moment—the problems of the Steel Industry go back decades.  The Steel industry’s problems boil down to large bonuses to management n the 1970s and 1980s and the large pensions given to Steel unions, which are in place today.  Those bonuses and pensions prevented the Steel industry from modernizing their production facilities and also specializing into specific types of steel.  Downstream steel users, such as the automotive industry, are moving away from commodity products as raw material steel inputs, and to specialized steel made to order of the downstream user.  All industry has become specialized and the US Steel Industry has not modernized so it can no longer produce certain types of steel or produce certain types of steel cost efficiently and that seriously damages downstream steel users that also manufacture in the United States.

That leads to the second big problem the steel industry has only 141,000 jobs while the jobs in the Steel Users industry are in the millions.  This is probably the reason that the Department of Defense (“DOD”) woke up.  Steel users probably told DOD you want your tank parts?

This is the time for the US Government and Congress to look at another alternative.  Tariffs and quotas simply will not save the Steel Industry, but Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies just might.  It is time for the US government to back a proven alternative that has saved 1,000s of US manufacturing companies in the past.  A program that both President Obama and President Trump want to write off, but actually has a proven track record of saving US trade injured manufacturing companies without any impact on US market or imports.

In fact, as indicated below, directly contrary to statements of Secretary Ross, many US companies that are receiving trade adjustment assistance are steel users and cannot be competitive with imports because US steel price are higher than world market prices.

What is the TAA for Companies secret sauce?  Making US companies competitive again.  Only by making US manufacturing companies competitive again will the trade problems really be solved.  US industry needs to cure its own ills first before always blaming the foreigners and that is exactly what TAA for Companies does—helps US companies cure their own ills first by making them competitive again.

SECTION 232 STEEL CASE

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

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

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

In the past Secretary Ross has stated that the Section 232 case is meant to fill the gaps created by the patchwork of antidumping and countervailing duties on foreign steel, which he said have provided only limited relief to the U.S. industry.

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

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

On July 26th Politico reported that the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases had stopped:

TRUMP HITS THE BRAKES ON 232 REVIEWS: The Trump administration is unlikely to make any decisions regarding whether to limit imports of steel and aluminum for national security reasons any time soon, after the president himself told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that “we don’t want to do it at this moment.”

The administration had already missed its initial deadline of wrapping up the pair of Section 232 reports by the end of June, and Trump indicated Tuesday that was in part because of various regulations regarding any decisions.  . . .

 Back of the queue: Trump was confident that his administration would eventually be “addressing the steel dumping,” which he called “a very unfair situation.” He did not, however, indicate the action would be imminent: He started by saying it would come “very” soon, but then backed off and said it would be “fairly soon.”

It will also likely come after other high-profile items on his policy agenda are completed. “We’re waiting ’til we get everything finished up between healthcare and taxes and maybe even infrastructure,”

The initial report on the Trump decision was a July 25th article in the Wall Street Journal in which Trump stated that with regards to the Section 232 Steel case, “we don’t want to do it at this moment” because of the complexity of the issue.  Trump further stated:

“You can’t just walk in and say I’m doing to do this.  You have to do statutory studies … It doesn’t go that quickly.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump started to say he would make a move “very” soon but stopped himself and instead said “fairly soon.”

Trump also stated that the steel issue is “a very unfair situation”, and that any final decision would not be made until work is done on other major initiatives.  As Trump stated:

“We’re waiting till we get everything finished up between healthcare and taxes and maybe even infrastructure.”

On July 26, 2017, it was reported that a Commerce Department spokesman refused to suggest a revised date for its determination on whether to impose new national security trade restrictions on steel imports saying only that the President’s comments “speak for themselves.”

On July 27th, before House Ways and Means, Commerce Secretary Ross indicated sympathy with comments from users where certain steel and aluminum products were not produced domestically, but had no sympathy with the argument that steel prices could be so high as to hurt downstream producers stating that is the nature of dumping and what eventually happens when “we let imports run amok.”

After the briefing, Congressional representatives stated that tariffs and/or quotas will be delayed for a while longer.  The Representatives indicated that during the meeting Ross had read the President’s statement from the Wall Street Journal that “we don’t want to do it at this moment” and that the Administration would most likely take action “fairly soon.”

On July 26th it was also reported that that the United Steelworkers union (“USW”) had stated that Trump decision to delay a Section 232 determination on steel imports could have “devastating” consequences on the US Steel industry and the jobs in that industry as foreign trading partners rush to export steel to the U.S. under a long-delayed threat of tariffs.  As USW President Leo Gerard stated:

“Since the President announced an investigation in April, attacks on the U.S. steel sector have skyrocketed, with imports up 18 percent.  Trading partners have targeted the U.S. market for fear that the United States will finally stand up for its producers and workers and protect our national security.”

Gerard acknowledged that trading relationships in the steel sector are “complex.”, but went on to state:

“But enough time, attention and investigation have passed to know what needs to be done.  Steel, the foundation of our national security, is crumbling under the onslaught of foreign imports. Much of that is illegally traded.”

Meanwhile, even before the July 25th statement, on July 5th Kevin Brady, Chairman of House Ways and Means, urged the President to take it slow.  Brady stated:

“Our advice to the President has been pretty public: Take your time, get it right.  We want to make sure that however the White House frames their ultimate action, that it doesn’t punish our allies who are trading fairly. And we want to make sure it doesn’t give a green light to those trading unfairly to do more of it. And it’s important, too, that whatever that ultimate decision is that it actually works for America and doesn’t backfire.”

Brady acknowledged that overcapacity in the global steel market was causing problems for domestic producers. But he called for a “balanced” solution that takes into account other interests as well.

On July 7th it was reported that the Department of Defense intended to drill down on the Steel Report and was “tapping the brakes on any potential effort by President Donald Trump to hit steel imports with tariffs of up to 25 percent.”

On July 21st President Trump issued an Executive Order ordering a thorough review of the national defense industrial base and the government to gather information about whether U.S. companies can meet the commercial demand for national security goods including steel, aluminum, circuit boards and flat-panel displays.

Under the terms of the executive order, an interagency group will present a report to the White House within 270 days that identifies goods that are essential for national security and analyzes the ability of the defense industrial base to produce those goods.

The attached Executive Order, Presidential Executive Order on Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing a, specifically stated in part:

Presidential Executive Order on Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States . . .

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. A healthy manufacturing and defense industrial base and resilient supply chains are essential to the economic strength and national security of the United States. The ability of the United States to maintain readiness, and to surge in response to an emergency, directly relates to the capacity, capabilities, and resiliency of our manufacturing and defense industrial base and supply chains. Modern supply chains, however, are often long and the ability of the United States to manufacture or obtain goods critical to national security could be hampered by an inability to obtain various essential components, which themselves may not be directly related to national security. Thus, the United States must maintain a manufacturing and defense industrial base and supply chains capable of manufacturing or supplying those items.

The loss of more than 60,000 American factories, key companies, and almost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000 threatens to undermine the capacity and capabilities of United States manufacturers to meet national defense requirements and raises concerns about the health of the manufacturing and defense industrial base. The loss of additional companies, factories, or elements of supply chains could impair domestic capacity to create, maintain, protect, expand, or restore capabilities essential for national security.

As the manufacturing capacity and defense industrial base of the United States have been weakened by the loss of factories and manufacturing jobs, so too have workforce skills important to national defense. This creates a need for strategic and swift action in creating education and workforce development programs and policies that support job growth in manufacturing and the defense industrial base.

Strategic support for a vibrant domestic manufacturing sector, a vibrant defense industrial base, and resilient supply chains is therefore a significant national priority. A comprehensive evaluation of the defense industrial base and supply chains, with input from multiple executive departments and agencies (agencies), will provide a necessary assessment of our current strengths and weaknesses.

Sec. 2. Assessment of the Manufacturing Capacity, Defense Industrial Base, and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States. Within 270 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretaries of Commerce, Labor, Energy, and Homeland Security, and in consultation with the Secretaries of the Interior and Health and Human Services, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Director of National Intelligence, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and the heads of such other agencies as the Secretary of Defense deems appropriate, shall provide to the President an unclassified report, with a classified annex as needed, that builds on current assessment and evaluation activities, and:

  • identifies the military and civilian material, raw materials, and other goods that are essential to national security;
  • identifies the manufacturing capabilities essential to producing the goods identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, including emerging capabilities;
  • identifies the defense, intelligence, homeland, economic, natural, geopolitical, or other contingencies that may disrupt, strain, compromise, or eliminate the supply chains of goods identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section (including as a result of the elimination of, or failure to develop domestically, the capabilities identified pursuant to subsection (b) of this section) and that are sufficiently likely to arise so as to require reasonable preparation for their occurrence;
  • assesses the resiliency and capacity of the manufacturing and defense industrial base and supply chains of the United States to support national security needs upon the occurrence of the contingencies identified pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, including an assessment of: . . .
    • exclusive or dominant supply of the goods (or components thereof) identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section by or through nations that are or are likely to become unfriendly or unstable; and the availability of substitutes for or alternative sources for the goods identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section;
  • identifies the causes of any aspect of the defense industrial base or national-security- related supply chains assessed as deficient pursuant to subsection (d) of this section; and
  • recommends such legislative, regulatory, and policy changes and other actions by the President or the heads of agencies as they deem appropriate based upon a reasoned assessment that the benefits outweigh the costs (broadly defined to include any economic, strategic, and national security benefits or costs) over the short, medium, and long run to:
    • avoid, or prepare for, any contingencies identified pursuant to subsection (c) of this section;
    • ameliorate any aspect of the defense industrial base or national-security-related supply chains assessed as deficient pursuant to subsection (d) of this section; and
    • strengthen the United States manufacturing capacity and defense industrial base and increase the resiliency of supply chains critical to national . . . .

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE, July 21, 2017

Emphasis added.

EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES —STEEL INDUSTRY PROBLEMS HAVE BEEN GOING ON FOR DECADES BECAUSE OF ITS FAILURE TO MODERNIZE DESPITE 40 YEARS OF PROTECTION FROM STEEL IMPORTS

After graduating from law school, in the late 1970s I went to work for a law firm in Washington DC and one of our clients was Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding.  In the Spring of 1979, at a firm party, one of the heads of the company told me all I want to do is stop in the imports.  After joining the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) in October 1980 I watched Bethlehem Steel file case after case against steel imports.  In 1985 while at the ITC, I asked the head of Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrow’s Point Factory how important the Continuous Castor was to Bethlehem Steel.  He replied, “We’ve bet the company on the continuous castor”.  Bethlehem Steel bet too late. The Korean steel producers already had the continuous castors.

Later, my former boss, the former ITC General Counsel, represented Bethlehem Steel for decades bringing trade cases against steel imports.  The US steel industry has had 40 years of protection from steel imports and yet it continues to decline.  Bethlehem Steel after 40 years of protection from steel imports is now green fields.

On July 14, 2017, former ITC Commissioner Dan Pearson of the Cato Institute summarized some of these problems in a Market Watch article entitled “Trump would further damage U.S. manufacturing if he restricts steel imports” stating:

“In a recent hearing on the investigation, Secretary Ross made clear that highly protectionist measures are under consideration. What Ross didn’t address is whether additional steel import restrictions would harm the U.S. economy.

Unfortunately, they certainly would. Our country may be only weeks away from presidential action that would further damage the competitiveness of the broad manufacturing  sector.

Five points are particularly relevant:

First, it’s not clear there is any legitimate national security justification for invoking Section 232. There is no doubt that much U.S. military equipment requires steel. The key question is how best to obtain specific types of steel needed for various national-security applications.

Most steel used by the military comes from domestic suppliers, such as United States Steel Corp. . ., AK Steel Holding Corp.  . . and Nucor Corp. . . . or from countries with which the United States has amicable relations. Keeping the U.S. market open to steel imports would assure that the military will have access to both foreign and domestic steel products needed to maintain national security. If the Pentagon wishes to ensure domestic sources for some products, it could establish long-term contracts with U.S. mills—no import controls are required.

Second, potential Section 232 restrictions must be viewed in the context of the existing U.S. steel marketplace. Roughly 200 antidumping or countervailing duty measures already are in place on steel products, making steel one of the country’s most protected sectors. As a result, U.S. prices for many steel products are significantly higher than world prices, greatly disadvantaging American manufacturers that require steel as an input.

Third, any additional import restrictions would do far more harm to steel-using manufacturers than any benefit that could accrue to steel mills. That is simply due to the raw numbers. Steel mills employ just 140,000 workers. Manufacturers that use steel as an input employ 6.5 million, 46 times more.

Steel mills account for a rather narrow slice of the overall U.S. economy: $36 billion in 2015, equaling only 0.2% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). By contrast, the economic value added by firms that use steel as an input was $1.04 trillion – 29 times more – or 5.8% of  GDP.

Any government action to drive steel prices even higher by further restricting imports will hurt steel- consuming manufacturers. Their costs will rise, thus reducing their competitiveness relative to companies in other countries. Carrier, the company that in December said it wouldn’t shift 800 jobs from Indianapolis to Mexico after all, is hardly the only firm that could reduce its steel costs by shifting production overseas.

Fourth, other nations likely would retaliate. When a foreign power acts arbitrarily to curtail its imports, negatively affected exporting countries aren’t amused. Since the United States is only a minor exporter of steel, retaliation likely would be focused on innocent, export-competitive sectors. The United States is the world’s largest exporter of military equipment, so those firms may be targeted.

The United States also is the world’s largest agricultural exporter; farm and food products would be vulnerable across the board.

Fifth, a country that imposes import restrictions always reduces its own economic welfare. This is true even if other countries don’t retaliate. Economists have understood since the work of David Ricardo that it is unwise to try to be self-sufficient when others are able to provide products at lower costs.

Import restrictions lead to inefficient resource use, lowering national economic welfare in the process. In other words, consumers are hurt more than protected industries are helped.

The Section 232 process may be intended to inflict pain on foreign nations by curtailing their exports. We can’t be sure whether U.S. import restrictions will hurt other countries, but we can be certain that restrictions will hurt America. Limiting steel imports creates a genuine threat to economic growth and prosperity. It is very difficult to build a stronger national defense when the economy is getting weaker.

But shouldn’t something be done to help steel mills and their workers as they deal with import competition? The Department of Commerce should think seriously about proposing enhanced economic adjustment assistance. It would be good public policy to encourage this historically protected industry to restructure and adapt to free trade in steel. . . .

My former boss, who later represented Bethlehem Steel for decades in trade cases, in the early 2000s told me that the problem with steel is that the employment in the entire US steel industry is less than one high tech company.

CONCERNS OF DOWNSTREAM STEEL INDUSTRIES

On May 31, 2017, public comments were filed at the Commerce Department on the Section 232 Steel case.  My last newsletter contained numerous comments from large associations representing steel users, including the American Automotive Policy Council (“AAPC”) and the truck and engine manufacturers association warning about the devastating impact high steel tariffs would have on the automotive and truck industry.  Not only would restraints on Steel imports damage downstream industries, but they would also damage the national security of the United States.  Many suppliers to the US DOD are dependent on imported steel made to certain specifications to make the downstream products to DOD specifications.  In many cases, US steel producers no longer produce steel to the specifications required by the DOD and many downstream users, such as the US automotive industry.

Thus the AAPC stated;

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

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

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers warned not only about the devastating impact on their industry, but went on to warn that steel tariffs would have a negative impact on US national security stating that US equipment manufacturers:

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

Since equipment manufacturers provide parts and equipment to the Department of Defense, in fact, high tariffs on imported steel could, in effect, damage the national security of the United States.

The Forging Industry Association representing the US forging industry also stated:

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

US steel forgers rely almost exclusively on domestically-produced SBQ steel. . . . The “globally competitive prices” are critically important – if the price for domestic SBQ steel is higher in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world due to tariffs or trade restrictions, then we begin to see less imports of raw material and more imports of downstream products. . . .

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

The Industrial Fastener Institute representing the US Fastener industry warned that:

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

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

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association was even more explicit about the potential negative impact of this case on US national security:

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

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

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

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (“NEMA”) stated in its comments:

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

Like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, US manufacturers that rely on steel as a key raw material input cried their warning that not only would imposing restrictions on steel imports injure downstream steel manufacturers, but also US national security itself. President Trump now appears to be listening.

ALUMINUM

The other Section 232 case that is behind steel is Aluminum.  On April 27, 2017, President Trump and the US Commerce Department self-initiated a Section 232 National Security case against imports of aluminum from all countries.  Attached are documents related to the Case, Aluminum Presidential Memo Summary ALUMINUM FED REG PUB Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Aluminum on US National S.  The hearing was on June 22, 2017 and the video of that hearing can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3Bnwi3DWHg.

But in a letter to Commerce, 44 Senators and Representatives argued that the ongoing investigation under Section 232 could include aluminum imports that have little to do with national security but is used to make things like food and beverage cans.  The Congressional representatives and Senators stated that specific type of rolled can aluminum sheet and primary aluminum “could yield import restrictions or tariffs on these products – a result that would not increase their availability in the U.S. but would necessarily impose additional costs to American end-users and American consumers.”

The National Foreign Trade Council said in comments filed on behalf its 200 member companies in sectors including energy, capital goods, transportation, consumer goods, technology, health care products, services, e- commerce and retailing “We believe that imposition of high tariffs or restrictive quotas on aluminum products is not an appropriate response” to concerns that excess capacity in China has led to the closings of many aluminum smelters in the United States.  The NFTC went on to state:

“Many of the industries that rely on aluminum as an input are themselves suppliers for our nation’s defense- related needs, building the ships, aircraft, machinery, high technology weapons and other goods that a modern military demands.”

In contrast to the Commerce lack of data in the Section 232 Steel case, however, in the Aluminum case, in June 2017 the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) has just issued the attached fact finding report on the US aluminum industry, ITC ALUMINUM PUBLICATION, which is based on questionnaires sent to US producers.

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

As indicated in previous blog posts, I feel very strongly about the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program because with very low funding it has a true track record of saving US companies injured by imports.

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

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

In fact, many of the companies receiving trade adjustment assistance are steel users or downstream US manufacturing companies, which have been injured by US trade actions.  They are the collateral damage caused by US trade actions.

A cursory analysis comparing companies in the TAA for Firms program to trade actions (AD, CVD, etc.) in 2015 revealed a strong correlation between those companies and trade actions. TAA for Firms works with small, medium sized, mostly manufacturing companies that encounter business declines linked to import competition.  ITC maintains a list of current AD/CVD cases, which, when combined with other known trade actions, yielded 116 unique product descriptions. Between 2005 and 2015 1,654 companies entered TAAF – publicly available information provides a brief description of these companies’ products. For the TAAF companies, 70% of the product descriptions match with trade actions. Steel actions alone match with 31% of the TAAF companies.

On the one hand, this is not surprising, trade actions occur in industries with concerning levels of trade, therefore, one would expect trade impacted companies in those industries. This only supports the assertion that TAAF is being applied where it should be expected.

On the other hand, the variety of companies in the TAAF program is surprising to anyone who looks closely – they certainly do not fall into predictable categories. The variety of products and level of specialization among manufacturing companies is astounding.  The TAAF companies are not the subjects of the trade actions, but the downstream buyers of those products. That one category of product, steel, would match so often, strongly stands out. An often heard anecdote from the TAAF program, quotes the business owner who says his cost of raw materials exceeds the cost of the finished imported product. It was only after performing this analysis that recollection confirmed that the anecdote was most often repeated related to companies using steel as a raw material.

It should be emphasized that this was a cursory analysis.  TAAF firms are thought to be a fraction of those experiencing trade impact. The level of analysis consisted only in rough comparisons of rough descriptions. Perhaps more surprising is that with over 45 years of TAAF program operation and what has become a vast national debate about manufacturing and jobs, no thorough analysis of trade impact exists. We do know there is a lot of it in a lot of different products and industries. And we strongly suspect that the experience of TAAF confirms the damaging downstream impact of trade actions. The good news is that TAAF companies tend to recover and grow.  Some consistent outcomes of the program are longevity of companies, sales increases that exceed the economy and industry levels,  strong productivity growth, and job growth that at least recovers lost jobs and one can infer, preserves many more.

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

Right now the total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $12.5 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget.  Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.  In his budget, Trump increases TAA for Workers, but kills TAA for Companies.  Yet to retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job is $5,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

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

TRUMP AND CHINA

US CHINA’S NORTH KOREA PROBLEM MAY MEAN ROCKY TRADE PROBLEMS

Recently, at a speech to Chinese government officials, when asked what the major trade issues are between China and the US, I mentioned North Korea.  During the election campaign, Donald Trump often pointed to China as a source of the many trade problems for US companies.

At the Mar -A -Lago meeting with Xi Jinping, however, Donald Trump appeared to step back and explicitly linked Chinese help with North Korea to a better trade deal between the two countries.  This is the first time a US Administration has directly linked a foreign policy objective with a trade relationship.

But now Trump is frustrated because he believes China is not helping enough with North Korea and wants to develop a “cogent China strategy”. On July 31st, based on conversations with administration officials,Politico reported that the Trump Administration is considering “a handful of economic measures to punish China, with a final decision coming as soon as this week . .  . ..  The article goes on to state:

Trump’s aides met over the weekend to discuss options, including trade restrictions or economic sanctions, and they will continue those conversations today. It remains too early, however, to say what the president might decide, the officials said. . . .

The decision may come as the president grows increasingly frustrated with Beijing over its handling of the North Korea missile situation, including Friday’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test. “I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!” Trump said on Twitter over the weekend.

On the trade front, Trump has also long complained about what he sees as unfair trade practices by Beijing, and he has been encouraged particularly by some of the harder-line aides in his administration – like chief strategist Steve Bannon and Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro – to crack down on China.
To read more about this issue, please see the attached July 31st article from Politico, Trump plan on China may come as soon as this week – POLITICO.

CHINA STILL A NONMARKET ECONOMY COUNTRY IN CVD CASES

On July 25th, since the argument was made that China is a market economy country in the Aluminum Foil case, Commerce released the attached memo, DOC CHINA BANKING NONMARKET, starting that the interest rates set by Chinese banks are not set by market forces and thus no Chinese bank interest rates can be used in CVD cases.  This memo indicates that Commerce is not going to treat China as a market economy country in antidumping and countervailing duty cases any time soon.

STEEL AND ALUMINUM PROBLEMS STOP US CHINA TRADE NEGOTIATIONS

On July 19th, optimism was reported at the start of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue.  Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang stated “The giant ship of China-U.S. economic and trade relations is sailing on the right course.”

But on July 20th the optimistic tone changed as the disagreement over excess Chinese steel and aluminum production capacity along with North Korea problems stopped the conference in its tracks.  China refused to agree to specific cuts in steel and aluminum production capacity and the United States was unwilling to move onto other concerns.

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang stated:

“Let me stress here that dialogue and negotiation are different from each other.  The core objective of negotiation is to have visible and tangible results, but the primary task of dialogue is to increase mutual understanding, mutual trust and consensus.

“Dialogue cannot immediately address all differences, but confrontation will immediately damage the interests of both.

“President Trump said, ‘Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is a success.  China is ready to work together with the U.S. and make sure this CED will build on existing achievements and achieve win-win results.”

NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS

The United States, Canada and Mexico will sit down together for the first round of talks to formally reopen NAFTA on Aug. 16 in Washington.

On July 17th, the USTR released its attached “Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation”, USTR NAFTA RENGOTIATION OBJECTIVES.

SOLAR 201 ESCAPE CLAUSE CASE

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

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

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

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

On June 26, 2017, Green Tech Media in the attached article, Suniva and SolarWorld Trade Dispute Could Halt Two-Thirds of US Solar Installat, along with a report estimated that if the ITC reaches an affirmative determination and if Trump adopts the solar import trade tariffs Suniva and SolarWorld Americas are seeking, such an action could wipe out as much as 65.5 percent of solar projects that are expected to be built in the U.S. from 2018 through 2022.

The GTM article further states:

Suniva’s and SolarWorld’s new trade dispute would strike a devastating blow to the U.S. solar market, erasing two-thirds of installations expected to come on-line over the next five years.

If the petition is successful, shockwaves will be felt across all segments of U.S. solar. Utility-scale solar is most at risk, with more than 20 gigawatts already at risk of cancellation if module prices fall back to 2012 levels.

The report determined that such a trade action would “cause unprecedented demand destruction”, and went on to state:

If Suniva’s and SolarWorld’s proposal is approved by the U.S. International Trade Commission and President Trump, there will be a new minimum price on imported crystalline silicon solar modules and a new tariff on imported cells. Put together, the U.S. could miss out on more than 47 gigawatts of solar installations. That’s more than what the U.S. solar market has brought on-line to date.

On July 24th, Reuters reported:

Installations in the United States last year hit a record. Jobs are mushrooming too. The domestic industry now employs more than 260,000 people, according to The Solar Foundation, most of them construction workers hammering panels on rooftops and erecting utility-scale solar plants in the nation’s blistering deserts.

But signs of a chill are already visible as the industry waits to see how President Donald Trump responds to a recent trade complaint lodged by a Georgia manufacturer named Suniva. The company has asked the administration effectively to double the price of imported solar panels so that U.S. factories can compete. About 95% of cells and panels sold in the U.S. last year were made abroad, with most coming from China, Malaysia and the Philippines, according to SPV

That has the solar industry bracing for the worst. Panic buying has sent spot prices for solar panels up as much as 20 percent in recent weeks as installers rush to lock up supplies ahead of potential tariffs.

Skittish U.S. energy customers are putting some solar projects on hold. Manufacturers are eyeing other markets to develop. And some investors are running for cover. Funding for large U.S. solar deals fell to $1.4 billion in the second quarter, down from $3.2 billion in the first quarter and $1.7 billion a year earlier, primarily due to concerns about the trade case, according to research firm Mercom Capital Group.

Developers of solar farms that provide utilities and big companies with energy are particularly vulnerable; panels account for as much as half of the cost of their projects.

A steep rise in panel prices “could be huge and disastrous for large-scale solar,” said Tom Werner, chief executive of San Jose-based SunPower Corp . . ., a top U.S. solar company that is majority owned by France’s Total  . . … “Developers are alarmed and planning.”

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES (“BAT”) ARE FINALLY DEAD

On July 27th it was reported that White House and congressional leaders agreed to drop the BAT as they move to comprehensive tax reform. The proposal, which would have placed a tax on all imports, had been a very important part of House Republicans’ tax reform blueprint as a way to pay for a corporate tax cut. House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said in a statement.

“While we have debated the pro-growth benefits of border adjustability, we appreciate that there are many unknowns associated with it and have decided to set this policy aside in order to advance tax reform,

[W]e are now confident that, without transitioning to a new domestic consumption-based tax system, there is a viable approach for ensuring a level playing field between American and foreign companies and workers, while protecting American jobs and the U.S. tax base.”

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

CAST IRON SOIL PIPE FITTINGS FROM CHINA

On July 13, 2017, the Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case against Cast Iron Soil Pipe Fittings from China.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law, Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.27 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.28 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.29

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

RIBBON CABLES

On June 30, 2017, 3M Company and 3M Innovative Properties Company filed a Section 337 case against Shielded Electrical Ribbon Cables.  The proposed respondents are Amphenol Corporation, Wallingford, Connecticut; Amphenol Interconnect Products Corporation, Endicott, New York; Amphenol Cables on Demand Corporation, Endicott, New York; Amphenol Assemble Technology (Xiamen) Co., Ltd., China; Amphenol (Xiamen) High Speed Cable Co., Ltd., China; and Amphenol East Asia Limited (Taiwan), China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR MAY 26, 2017

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As stated in our ITC postconference brief:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Andrew Ball further stated in the ITC Postconference brief:

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

Another auto parts company stated in the brief:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECTION 232 INVESTIGATIONS  — STEEL AND ALUMINUM

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

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

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

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

STEEL

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the Trump Press Conference, Ross stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Secretary Ross further stated in the past:

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

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

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

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

ALUMINUM

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

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

During this investigation, the Secretary will consider the following:

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

The capacity of domestic industries to meet such requirements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SCOPE OF THE 201 INVESTIGATION

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

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

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

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

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

SECTION 201 PROCEDURES IN SOLAR CELL CASE

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

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

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

REASONS FOR SECTION 201 PETITION

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

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

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

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

The Petition also states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Petition also states:

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

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

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

TOOL CHESTS FROM CHINA AND VIETNAM

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

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

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

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

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

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

China: 88.2% – 188.88%

India: 25.48%

Italy: 37.23% – 69.13%

Germany: 70.53% – 148.32%

Republic of Korea: 12.14% – 48.61%

Switzerland: 40.53% – 115.21%

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

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

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

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

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

100 TO 150 SEAT CIVIL AIRCRAFT

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

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

LIGHTHIZER CONFIRMED—NAFTA FIGHT

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

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

NAFTA FIGHT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Right now the total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $12.5 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget.  Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.  In his budget, Trump increases TAA for Workers, but kills TAA for Companies.  Yet to retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job in TAA for workers is $5,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

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

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

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

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW SECTION 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

COLLAPSIBLE SOCKETS FROM MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES

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

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

ROBOTIC VACUUM CLEANING DEVICES

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP TRADE AGENDA, INTERNAL TRADE BATTLES, LIGHTHIZER, BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES, AGRICULTURE, NAFTA, TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE, CFIUS, ZTE AND SECTION 337

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE APRIL 21, 2017—MANY NEW TRADE CASES BEING FILED

The Trump trade war has escalated big time with new antidumping and countervailing duty cases against Mechanical Tubing, Tool Chests and a new Section 232 National Security case against all Steel imports.  Many importers simply do not realize how fast these trade cases move and how fast they can find themselves liable for antidumping and countervailing duties and other trade sanctions. With a sympathetic Trump Administration and a very sympathetic Wilbur Ross as the new Secretary of Commerce, more cases are going to be filed against China and numerous other countries.

In addition to the new trade cases, two section 337 patent cases has been filed against China on sockets for mobile electronic devices and robotic vacuum cleaning devices.

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

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

China: 88.2% – 188.88%

India: 25.48%

Italy: 37.23% – 69.13%

Germany: 70.53% – 148.32%

Republic of Korea: 12.14% – 48.61%

Switzerland: 40.53% – 115.21%

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

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

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

If Importers want to fight the case, they must move quickly.  The first ITC hearing in the case will be on May 10, 2017, which is the part of the proceeding where importers can have a real impact.

Atttached is a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Indian, Chinese, Korean, German, Swiss and Italian exporters/producers and US importers, please feel free to contact me.  INJURY EXCERPT SCOPE IMPORTERS EXERPT MECHANICAL TUBING FOREIGN PRODUCERS EXCERPT MECHANICAL TUBING

TOOL CHESTS FROM CHINA AND VIETNAM

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

As indicated in the attached notice, ITC PRELIM MECHANICAL TUBING NOTICE, in the Tool Chests case, the ITC will conduct its preliminary injury hearing on May 2, 2017.  US importers’ liability for countervailing duties on imports from China will start on September 8, 2017, 150 days after the petition was filed, and for Antidumping Duties from China and Vietnam will start on November 7, 2017, 210 days after the petition was filed.

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

If Importers want to fight the case, they must move quickly.  The first ITC hearing in the case will be on May 2, 2017, which is the part of the proceeding where importers can have a real impact.

Attached is a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese and Vietnamese exporters/producers and US importers, Tool chests CHN VNM petition vol 1 narrative.  If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.

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

NEW NATIONAL SECURITY SECTION 232 CASE AGAINST STEEL IMPORTS FROM NUMEROUS COUNTRIES, INCLUDING CHINA

On April 20, 2017, as indicated in the attached documents, Presidential Memorandum Prioritizes Commerce Steel Investigation _ Department of Commerce Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Steel on U.S, President Trump announced a new trade investigation of steel imports under section 232 to determine if the tariffs should be imposed because the increased steel imports pose a threat to national security.  The trade action will be conducted under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act since 2001.

If the Commerce Department determines that the steel imports are a threat to national security, President Trump will be empowered to levy high tariffs and quotas on imports of steel products from various countries.

Under Section 232, the Commerce Department will conduct an investigation into the potential national security threat posed by the entry of foreign steel into the U.S. market. Commerce must issue its findings to the White House within 270 days, along with recommendations on what steps to take.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated, however, that the investigation may move along a faster track.  Once Commerce’s review is completed, the President has 90 days to decide whether to accept or reject its recommendations and to impose trade restraints, including tariffs or quotas on steel imports.

This may be the first attack, not just against China, but all steel imports from every country.  The problems with Commerce self-initiating antidumping and countervailing duty cases is the International Trade Commission.  The Administration does not control the ITC, but it does control Commerce.  By bringing a section 232 case, the Administration skips the injury test by the ITC and assuming the Commerce Department reaches an affirmative determination, the President is empowered to impose import relief in the form of tariffs and quotas.  From the Administration’s point of view, there is more than one way to solve the import problem.

NEW SECTION 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

COLLAPSIBLE SOCKETS FROM MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES

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

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

ROBOTIC VACUUM CLEANING DEVICES

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

Bissell Homecare, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan; Hoover Inc., Glenwillow, Ohio; Royal Appliance Manufacturing Co., Inc. d/b/a TTI Floor Care North America, Inc., Glenwillow, Ohio; Bobsweep, Inc., Canada; Bobsweep USA, Henderson, Nevada; The Black & Decker Corporation, Towson, Maryland; Black & Decker (U.S) Inc., Towson, Maryland; Shenzhen ZhiYi Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a iLife, China; Matsutek Enterprises Co., Ltd., Taiwan; Suzhou Real Power Electric Appliance Co., Ltd., China; and Shenzhen Silver Star Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd., China.

If you have any questions about these cases or about the antidumping and countervailing duty cases, Section 232 Steel case, Trump and Trade, US trade policy, or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR MARCH 26, 2017

Dear Friends,

Although politicians in Washington DC have been focused on Obamacare and Russian involvement in the election, trade issues lurk beneath the surface.  Trade was stirred up with the release of Trump’s Trade Agenda, Lighthizer Confirmation Hearings, rumors of internal fights in the Trump trade team and meetings with foreign leaders, including Angela Merkel of Germany.  In fact, the amount of material on trade is mountainous.

One of the pillars for Trump’s objective of hitting a 3 percent annual growth rate (Obama never got over 2%,), is increased US exports, but as indicated above, trade is a two-way street.  As Democratic Congressman Rick Larson of Washington stated recently at the Washington Council on International Trade Meeting on March 13, the Trump Administration has to choose between a trade policy of Trade Agreements or Border Adjustment Taxes.  If the Trump Administration intends to hit imports with increased Border Adjustment Taxes, it will be very difficult to negotiate trade agreements with the many countries on Trump’s list.

On March 21st, in pushing the Republicans in the House of Representatives to push for the Obamacare repeal bill, President Trump stated that without the Obamacare repeal, the Republicans cannot take up the Tax Bill.  But with the collapse of the Obamacare repeal on March 24th, Congress is pivoting to Tax Reform.  That means tax reform, including the Border Adjustment Taxes, will be front and center.  The target of Trump and the Republican Congress is to pass a tax reform bill by August.

Thus the Trump Administration will be soon at a crossroads—increased taxes/tariffs on imports or trade agreements.  It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to have both.

Meanwhile, the decision of Senate Democrats to stall on the Confirmation of Robert Lighthizer has hurt the trade debate in the Administration.  Lighthizer knows trade law.  Many of the officials, such as Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, in the Administration, do not know trade law and the Democratic decision to stall the confirmation truly has hurt the United States.

In addition to Border Adjustment taxes, this newsletter contains several articles about Trump and Trade or the Trump Trade Report.  There are growing arguments between Administration officials and by Republican Senators and Representatives outside the Administration on the Trump Trade Policy as officials and Senators and Congressmen understand the ramifications of a protectionist trade policy on the constituents in their States and Districts.

Agriculture is waking up. During the recent March 14 Confirmation Hearing of Robert Lighthizer, one could see the concerns of Senators from Agricultural States as they realize that agricultural exports, their ox will be the one gored by the new Trump trade policy.

Meanwhile, NAFTA will be renegotiated; CFIUS may include reciprocity: China is taking a divide and conquer strategy on the Non-Market Economy Issue in Antidumping Cases; and new trade cases have been filed on Aluminum Foil and Silicon Metal.

ZTE has agreed to pay record fines because of its export control violations; and a recent section 337 patent case stated that the US production of the patent lessee can be used to meet the domestic industry requirement.

In addition, hopefully Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, which is the only effective US trade remedy that saves companies and the jobs that go with them without curtailing imports, will expand.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP TRADE REPORT

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ISSUES ITS 2017 TRADE POLICY AGENDA AND IT CREATES CONCERNS

On March 1, 2017, the Trump Administration issued its attached National Trade Policy Agenda for 2017 pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 2213(a)(l)(B), 2017 TRUMP Trade Agenda.  In the short summary, which was released on March 1st, Trump stated in part:

“The overarching purpose of our trade policy – the guiding principle behind all of our actions in this key area – will be to expand trade in a way that is freer and fairer for all Americans. Every action we take with respect to trade will be designed to increase our economic growth, promote job creation in the United States, promote reciprocity with our trading partners, strengthen our manufacturing base and our ability to defend ourselves, and expand our agricultural and other exports.

As a general matter, we believe that these goals can be best accomplished by focusing on bilateral negotiations rather than multilateral negotiations – and by renegotiating and revising trade deals when our goals are not being met. Finally, we reject the notion that the United States can strengthen its geopolitical position by adopting trade measures that make American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses less competitive in global markets.”

In other words, the Trump Administration will take a much stronger position on trade agreements and trade policy.

The most controversial part of the Trade Policy Agenda is the strict approach to the WTO.  Thus, one of the key objectives of the Agenda is”

“Resisting efforts by other countries – or international bodies like the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) – to weaken the rights and benefits of, or increase the obligations under, the various trade agreements to which the United States is a party.”

The Agenda then states under the section “Defending Our National Sovereignty Over Trade Policy”:

“it has been a basic principle of our country that American citizens are subject only to laws and regulations made by the U.S. government – not rulings made by foreign governments or international bodies. This principle remains true today.  Accordingly, the Trump Administration will aggressively defend American sovereignty over matters of trade policy.”

One of the key objectives, just like other Administrations, will be to reduce and eliminate foreign barriers to US exports, but the Agenda then goes on to state:

“It is time for a more aggressive approach. The Trump Administration will use all possible leverage – including, if necessary, applying the principle of reciprocity to countries that refuse to open their markets – to encourage other countries to give U.S. producers fair access to their markets. The purpose of this effort is to ensure that more markets are truly open to American goods and services and to enhance, rather than restrict, global trade and competition.”

One key principle the administration said it plans to apply is a form of trade quid pro quo called “reciprocity” to countries that refuse to open up their markets.  Lawmakers and the Trump administration are considering toughening up national-security reviews of foreign investments into the U.S. to leverage better trade terms with China. If Beijing does not open up its markets to U.S. investors or exports, for example, the administration could use its powers to block Chinese deals to buy U.S. assets, or threaten higher tariffs on  Chinese imports.

The Agenda also expresses an interest in using Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to open up restraints in foreign countries to US exports.  But 301 has not been used since the WTO’s 1995 inception.  The Agenda states

“Properly used, Section 301 can be a powerful lever to encourage foreign countries to adopt more market-friendly policies.  The Trump administration believes that it is essential to both the United States and the world trading system that all U.S. trade laws be strictly and effectively enforced.”

The Agenda also singles out trade deficits with China, Mexico, Canada and Korea and calls for a renegotiation of trade agreements and a more aggressive approach to trade enforcement.  Although these policies are very aggressive on paper, the question is how will the new Trump Administration apply these policies.

In conclusion, the Agenda states:

“For more than 20 years, the United States government has been committed to trade policies that emphasized multilateral agreements and international dispute settlement mechanisms. The hope was that by giving up some of our willingness to act independently, we could obtain better treatment for U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses, Instead, we find that in too many instances, Americans have been put at an unfair disadvantage in global markets. Under these circumstances, it is time for a new trade policy that defends American sovereignty, enforces U.S. trade laws, uses American leverage to open markets abroad, and negotiates new trade agreements that are fairer and more effective both for the United States and for the world trading system, particularly those countries committed to a market-based economy.”

The Trump Administration also stated that it intends to update the document when Congress confirms Robert Lighthizer as the next US Trade Representative.

Parts of the policy document contain arguments similar to those in a widely attached circulated memorandum Mr. Lighthizer wrote in 2010 to the US China Commission, LIGHTHIZER 2010 STATEMENT US CHINA ECONOMIC SECURITY COMMISSION. At the time, Mr. Lighthizer told a congressionally mandated China commission that the U.S. could put its WTO commitments on hold, restricting imports from China until the country changes its behavior in key areas.

When the Trump Trade Agenda came out, the Press reported that the Trump Administration will ignore adverse decisions from the WTO.  During the Obama Administration, however, although WTO decisions were not ignored, they were slow walked, especially in the antidumping and countervailing duty area, with only small changes made in response to the WTO decision.

The Trump Administration will probably follow the same procedures.  The rubber will only meet the road when in response to adverse WTO decisions, foreign countries work up retaliation lists.  Then the Administration will have to decide whether to ignore the WTO decision or not.

In fact, after the Agenda was released, Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer stated that noncompliance with the WTO was not the formal policy of the administration.

In addition, many trade experts believe that the Trade Agenda was just rhetoric and we will need to see whether in the future there truly will be a fundamental shift in actual trade policy.  As one trade expert told me, it will take years for this policy to actually work out.

Moreover, as indicated below, Agriculture is waking up.  Now that Agricultural Senators and Congressmen realize that if there is a trade war, their ox is the one that will get gored, agriculture exports will be seriously hurt, the Trump Administration will probably slow up its aggressive trade policy as the hot protectionist rhetoric meets the realities of the international trade system where trade is a two way street.

If the United States truly signals it will not comply with WTO decisions, and other countries impose retaliatory penalties against U.S. imports, it could usher in an era of economic protectionism worldwide, which could trigger a global trade war that could disrupt international business and growth.  But that also would mean that the Trump Administration will not meet its 3% GDP growth target for the entire economy.

The real issue that the Trump Administration simply does not understand is that even though there may be trade deficits, free trade rises all boats.  The US now has over $1 trillion in exports, but the Trump Administration is focused on trade deficits with countries, such as China, Mexico and Germany.  The Trump Administration ignores the trade surpluses with other countries.  More importantly, free trade agreements have caused all boats to rise, increasing economic activity in the United States and creating jobs.  Because of NAFTA, US exports have quintupled creating millions of new jobs, but the Trump Administration appears to focus only on the trade deficit, which is relatively small in comparison to the surge in US exports.

At the same time that the White House issued its trade agenda on March 1, John Brinkley of Forbes, in an article entitled,Trump’s Trade Ideas As Bad As Ever,” responded to on President Trump’s first “State of the Union” address to the Congress where Trump stated:

“I believe strongly in free trade, but it also has to be fair trade.

Fine, but how do you achieve fair trade? Is it to punish other countries whose trade policies aren’t advantageous to the United States? Or is it to work with them collegially to get them to change those policies?
The latter course is the one that all presidents since World War II have chosen. They have negotiated 14 free trade agreements with 20 countries – agreements that require parties to eliminate tariffs and give fair and equitable treatment to one another.

Previous presidents helped set up the GATT and then the World Trade Organization as a forum for ensuring that countries play by the rules of global trade. Since the WTO was created in 1994, the United States has quietly resolved hundreds of trade disputes in its favor through WTO-sponsored consultations.

When consultations don’t solve the problem, the government can file a formal complaint in the WTO’s Dispute Resolution Body. If it rules in our favor, we can impose temporary, retaliatory tariffs or demand compensation.

That is fair trade. Accusing other countries of taking advantage of us, threatening them with exorbitant tariffs, and declaring that the United States is not beholden to WTO rules, as the Trump administration did today, is not fair trade. It’s more like anarchy.

On March 8, 2017 after the Trade Policy Agenda was issued, John Brinkley of Forbes published another article entitled, “Trump’s Disdain For WTO Portends Only Trouble” stating:

After the World Trade Organization was established in 1995, the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations made good use of its dispute settlement system. The United States is batting about .500 in cases that proceeded to a final ruling; most of them don’t. Barack Obama had a perfect record in the WTO when he left office, but some of the complaints his administration filed are still pending.

None of the three presidents said the system was unfair or tried to make an end run around it.

Then came Donald Trump. He has nothing but disdain for the WTO and for the very idea of an international organization making and enforcing rules that the United States has to obey. So, in keeping with Trump’s “America First” ideology, the White House declared last week that America doesn’t have to follow those rules.

When one country accuses another of a trade rule violation, such as dumping a product in the host country at below-market value or unfairly subsidizing a domestic industry, the first step toward resolving it is a WTO-sponsored consultation between the two governments. If that fails, the accuser can request a hearing by a dispute settlement panel. The loser of that proceeding can take its case to the WTO’s Appellate Body.

Between 1995 and 2015, the United States filed 109 complaints to the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body and had 124 filed against it. The U.S. government has settled about two-thirds of them through consultations, thus making recourse to a hearing unnecessary. Like most diplomatic initiatives, these results are achieved out of the public eye and without fanfare.

It’s hard to know what the Trump administration finds objectionable about this system, or why he considers the WTO “a disaster.” None of the WTO’s 163 other members seem to have a problem with it.

But Trump and his merry band of protectionists think they know a better way: to ignore the WTO if it issues a ruling they don’t like.

The President’s Trade Policy Agenda for 2017 says legislation enacted in 1994 lets the administration decide arbitrarily whether to comply with a WTO dispute settlement ruling that goes against the United States.

“If a WTO dispute settlement report is adverse to the United States, [the U.S. Trade Representative shall] consult with the appropriate Congressional committees concerning whether to implement the report’s recommendation, and, if so, the manner of such implementation and the period of time needed for such implementation,” the Trade Policy Agenda says.

In other words, the United States will comply with WTO decisions – decisions based on rules that the United States helped write – if it feels like it. Incredibly, Trump, et al, seem to think this approach would have no negative consequences.

If the U.S. government refuses to comply with a dispute settlement ruling against it, the WTO can authorize retaliation by the aggrieved party. That is likely to be a tariff increase targeted at the industry whose trade practices led to the adverse ruling. If a targeted tariff increase isn’t feasible, the aggrieved country can raise tariffs against some other industry.

Presumably, Trump would then retaliate against the retaliator and off we’d go into a destructive trade war.

It’s important to understand that the United States was intimately involved in the creation of the WTO and the drafting of its rules. During previous administrations, the U.S. ambassador to the WTO was in Geneva almost every day protecting the interests of the American industries and workers. Contrary to what Trump says, the WTO is not a foreign body accountable to no one. It’s a democratic institution, accountable to its members.

As former U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in the President’s Trade Agenda for 2014:

“A robust international trading system offers the greatest economic benefits when all trading partners abide by their commitments and play by the same rules.”

LIGHTHIZER CONFIRMATION HEARING

On March 14, 2017, the Senate Finance Committee held its confirmation hearing on Robert Lighthizer as United States Trade Representative.  One can see the confirmation hearing in its entirety at https://www.c-span.org/video/?425333-1/us-trade-representative-nominee-testifies-confirmation-hearing

But as of March 23, 2017, Lighthizer’s confirmation vote is being held up in the Committee and on the Senate floor because his status as an advocate more than 30 years ago for the Brazilian government in a 1985 trade case, prior to the time when I was an associate at Skadden, Arps, appears to require a waiver in order for him to assume his role at USTR.  Unfortunately, this decision has left Lighthizer, the best trade lawyer on Trump’s team, out of the internal discussions on trade policy.

The White House has itself pushed to make the waiver vote unnecessary. White House counsel Donald F. McGahn wrote to Hatch and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on March 3 citing a Clinton-era Office of Legal Counsel opinion as a challenge to the waiver rule.

A week after the March 21st confirmation hearing, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas stated:

“I think we made it clear, I think [Finance Chairman] Orrin Hatch made it very clear that it’s not needed. But I don’t know what mood our friends across the aisle are in, and I have no idea what they’re going to do.”

Senator Ron Wyden ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, however, stated:

“We’ve made it clear we’re going to insist on the waiver. There’s this quaint idea that the law should actually matter, and the law says a person in his position has got to get a waiver.”

Thus Lighthizer’s nomination has been held up “for what feels like eons” according to Wyden, but at this point in time it is still not moving.

Meanwhile on March 22, 2017, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the attached letter, chamber_letter, pushed for a quick vote Lighthizer for USTR stating:

“Mr. Lighthizer has led a distinguished career as a trade policy practitioner and has a reputation as a staunch advocate for American industry. The Chamber believes he will represent the nation’s interests well as he works with international partners and addresses trade challenges at the negotiating table and before the World Trade Organization. The Chamber encourages a swift vote on his nomination and looks forward to working with him as the next U.S. Trade Representative.”

During the Confirmation hearing, Lighthizer had bipartisan support with many Democratic and Republican Senators vouching support for his candidacy.  One of the two issues of primary importance was the decision to break mega deals, such as the TPP, into bilateral deals with individual countries.

The problem, however, is that trade deals take a lot of time to negotiate.  The TPP took almost 10 years to negotiate with the 12 countries involved.  But by abandoning the TPP, with an objective of creating individual trade deals with the TPP member companies, the US Government has probably quintupled its work load, if not increased it twelve fold.

Although Lighthizer indicated that USTR would use the TPP draft agreement as a basis to negotiate a number of bilateral agreements, negotiating that many trade deals will take an enormous amount of work by a very small agency – USTR—with only just over 200 employees at offices in Brussels Belgium, Geneva Switzerland and Washington DC.  Trump’s budget is not clear whether USTR will get an increase in budget or whether its budget will be cut.

The second point is the importance of Trade Deals to US Agriculture exports.  In the Lighthizer confirmation hearing, all of a sudden Senators from agriculture states started to wake up.  If the TPP had passed, the biggest winner would have been US agriculture exports with tariffs dropping on more than 18,000 different products, many being agricultural products.  Now the TPP is gone and countries are racing into those overseas markets to replace US agricultural products.

Agriculture Senators and Congressmen want trade deals now because the United States is exporting billions of dollars in agricultural products to the rest of the World.  Mexican government officials recently declared that since Trump wants to be tough on trade with Mexico, they will cut $2.4 billion in imports of corn from the United States and replace the US corn with corn from Brazil and Argentina.  Congressman Newhouse at a recent Washington Council on International Trade stated that after the Korea FTA, exports of Washington State cherries doubled and Washington State French fries increased by 52%.  Increased exports means more jobs.

With a decision not to do the TPP, Senators and Congressmen from agricultural states fear that other countries will replace the United States and get those benefits.  As indicated below, that is a real and justified fear.

TRUMP TRADE AGENDA—OPPOSITION TO THE TRUMP TRADE POLICY IN THE ADMINISTRATION AND IN CONGRESS

Part of the Trump trade problem is the perception by Trump and many on his internal trade staff, such as Peter Navarro, that trade is a one-way street.  The Administration apparently believes it can simply issue an executive order raising tariffs, taxes or barriers to imports with no reaction by foreign countries.

But the Trump Administration is now in the international arena.  Although Trump won the Presidency, he has no political power over foreign countries.  Trade is a two-way street and as stated in several past newsletters, Mexico, Canada, China, and Germany have all threatened retaliation if the US imposes trade restraints, including Border Adjustment Taxes.  Deals have to be negotiated, but most countries, including the US, will not negotiate a deal when a gun is pointed at their head.

INTERNAL ADMINISTRATION TRADE FIGHTS—NAVARRO CREATES AN INTERNAL TRADE WAR

On March 10th the Financial Times reported that a trade war had broken out in White House in what was called “a fiery meeting” in the Oval Office pitting economic nationalists close to Donald Trump against pro­trade moderates in Treasury and the Economic Council from Wall Street.

Navarro is the ultra-nationalist economist who has angered Berlin and other European allies by accusing Germany of currency manipulation and exploiting a “grossly undervalued” euro and calling for bilateral discussions with Angela Merkel’s government over ways to reduce the US trade deficit with Germany.

The fight was between trade hardliners, such as Steve Bannon and Peter Narvarro, against the free trade economic faction led by Gary Cohn, the executive from Goldman Sachs, who heads the National Economic Council.  Note that since Lighthizer has not been confirmed, he could not be part of the discussion.  Bannon and Navarro support the Border Adjustment Tax while Cohn and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin oppose it.

During the last several weeks, Navarro appeared to be losing influence. But during the recent Oval Office fight, Mr Trump appeared to side with the economic nationalists.

Mr Navarro’s case has angered Republicans in Congress because he was criticized for being ill­prepared and vague at a closed­door briefing he held with Senators in February.

Reports have been made that Mr Navarro is becoming increasingly isolated in the administration. He has been operating with a very small staff out of an office in the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House, while Mr Cohn has been adding staff to his NEC base inside the West Wing of the White House.

On March 5th, Navarro published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on why trade deficits matter:

Do  trade  deficits matter? The question is important because America’s trade deficit in goods is large and persistent, about $2 billion every day. . . .

Reducing a trade deficit through tough, smart negotiations is a way to increase net exports—and boost the rate of economic growth. . . .

Similarly, if the U.S. uses its leverage as the world’s largest market to persuade India to reduce its notoriously high tariffs and Japan to lower its formidable nontariff barriers, America will surely sell more Washington apples, Florida oranges, California wine, Wisconsin cheese and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Just as surely, the U.S. trade deficit would fall, economic growth would increase, and real wages would rise from Seattle and Orlando to Sonoma and Milwaukee. . . .

But running large and persistent trade deficits also facilitates a pattern of wealth transfers offshore. . .

Might we lose a broader hot war because America has sent its defense-industrial base abroad on the wings of a persistent trade deficit?

Today, after decades of trade deficits and a mass migration of factories offshore, there is only one American company that can repair Navy submarine propellers—and not a single company that can make flat-panel displays for military aircraft or night-vision goggles. Meanwhile, America’s steel industry is on the ropes, its aluminum industry is flat on its back, and its shipbuilding industry is gathering barnacles. The U.S. has begun to lose control of its food-supply chain, and foreign firms are eager to purchase large swaths of Silicon Valley’s treasures.

Much of Wall Street and most economists simply don’t care. But to paraphrase Mike Pence on the 2016 campaign trail, the people of Fort Wayne know better. The analysts at the Pentagon know better, too. That’s why, for both economic and national-security reasons, it is important to bring America’s trade back into balance—through free, fair and reciprocal trade.

As indicated below, however, do trade deficits justify increased US barriers to imports?  Wouldn’t a policy of making companies more competitive with imports, such as Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, explained below be a better option.  TAA does not risk retaliation from other countries.

Moreover, as stated above, focusing on trade deficits ignores the enormous increase in US exports to those countries.  Navarro focuses on a trade deficit and ignores the fact that US exports are over $1 trillion and support millions of jobs.  A trade war will cut those exports and jobs in half.  That will not make America great again.

Recently Navarro attempted to intervene in an antidumping duty case at the Commerce Department on Oil Country Tubular Goods from Korea sparking outrage from the trade lawyers representing the Korean steel mills.  Navarro should keep in mind that the Commerce Department in antidumping cases makes its decision based on the facts on the administrative record and the Commerce Department’s determinations are subject to Court review by the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  In the past, Courts have made clear that when a Government agency, such as the Commerce Department, makes a decision based on politics, that is a reason for depositions of the government official.  Navarro might be deposed in any appeal of the OCTG case to the Court.

On March 13, John Brinkley of Forbes in an article entitled, “Commerce Secretary Ross Thinks U.S. Is In A Trade War”, which also addressed Navarro’s thinking, stated:

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, responding to concerns that the Trump administration is pushing the United States toward a trade war, said we were already in one.

“We’ve been in a trade war for decades,” he said last week in an interview with Bloomberg News. “That’s why we have the (trade) deficits.”

But not to worry, Ross said. “It’s not going to be a shooting war. If people know you have the big bazooka, you probably don’t have to use it.”

That’s the Luca Brasi negotiating method: bend to our will or we’ll blow you to smithereens. Peter Navarro, the head of the White House National Trade Council, recently suggested that future trade agreements include a rule stating that they can be renegotiated any time the U.S. runs a trade deficit with the partner country. That is, to put it mildly, a non-starter.

Ross’s and Navarro’s remarks are symptomatic of the Trump administration’s singular obsession with trade deficits. However, the fact that the United States has a global trade deficit does not mean we’re in a trade war. It doesn’t mean our trading partners are cheating us any more than that we’re cheating Canada and the United Kingdom by running trade surpluses with them. It means we import more than we export. One of the reasons for that is the strength of the dollar in foreign exchange markets. A strong dollar makes imports less expensive and exports more expensive. That, in turn, leads to more choices and lower prices for American consumers.

Navarro said in a recent speech that trade surpluses were synonymous with economic growth. History suggests otherwise. The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate fell to 4.7%. The trade deficit in January (February not available yet) was $48.5 billion, the highest it’s been since March  2012.

The trade deficit decreased during the recession of 2008-09. The United States ran a trade surplus through most of the Great Depression.

Ross didn’t say who the enemy was in this supposed trade war, but President Trump has made it clear that he has it in for China and Mexico, our second and third largest trading partners, respectively. Our largest bilateral trade deficits are with those countries.

So, Trump intends to renegotiate NAFTA. And, he has threatened China with punitive tariffs. He has said doing these things would erase the U.S. trade deficit, cause a renaissance of American manufacturing jobs and bring the 3% GDP growth he promised.

They would do none of those things.

“Withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and launching trade actions against China ensure political headlines, but they will not make much difference to the global U.S. trade deficit. Nor will they bring more jobs and higher wages to U.S. workers,” said Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Euijin Jung of the Peterson Institute of International Economics in an article published in February.

They also noted that the trade deficit is financed in part by foreign direct investment, which is unquestionably beneficial to the U.S. economy. Foreign-owned companies operating in the United States directly employ 6.1 million Americans, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. FDI stock in the U.S. stands at almost $3 trillion.

One way to reduce the trade deficit would be to devalue the dollar against the Chinese yuan and other currencies.  That would be politically difficult because it’s what Trump (wrongly) accuses China of doing on a regular basis. It would also raise the prices of imported food and manufactured goods and, possibly, cause inflation. That would hurt low-income Americans the most.

A better idea would be for the Trump trade triumvirate to calculate America’s balance of trade with its 20 free trade agreement partners. They would find that we have an aggregate trade surplus with them. Maybe then they’d reconsider their plans to renegotiate or withdraw from those agreements.

If Ross thinks we’re in a trade war now, let him propose raising tariffs against Mexico and China over and above the World Trade Organization’s Most Favored Nation rates. Then, we’d be in a trade war for real.

NAVARRO’S STANDING WITH CONGRESS DROPS

On March 16th, senior trade officials from the administration, minus Robert Lighthizer, headed up to Capitol Hill to talk with members of the House Ways and Means Committee about NAFTA, among other trade topics – marking the latest step in what one administration official described as a series of ongoing consultations between the administration and Congress before the White House formally moves to reopen the agreement.

The next step will be for the administration to formally notify Congress that its NAFTA  plans to begin talks, triggering a congressionally mandated 90-day consultation period before the renegotiation can start.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that the White House hopes to send that notification letter “sometime in the next couple of weeks,” meaning formal talks are likely to begin around early summer. Ross is expected attended the March 16th meeting, as did senior members of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative including general counsel and acting USTR Stephen Vaughn, and deputy general counsel Maria Pagan.

Peter Navarro, however, did not go to the Capital Hill meeting. After a meeting with the Senate Finance Committee in February – which was described as “a disaster” – Navarro made such a poor impression that Senators viewed it as a reason for why they need to get USTR nominee Robert Lighthizer confirmed as soon as possible.  That meeting also spurred additional questions about who is really in charge on trade and led to strong reminders that USTR holds the statutory authority.

G-20 BECOMES MORE PROTECTIONIST

On March 18th, the trade protectionist rhetoric increased as it was reported that the G-20 member states dropped the no-protectionism pledge, which indicates more trade storms to come.  The G­20 is an informal forum on economic cooperation made up of 19 countries plus the European Union.  Finance ministers from the Group of 20 countries met in the southern German town of Baden­Baden and issued a statement saying only that countries “are working to strengthen the contribution of trade” to their economies.  In last yearʹs meeting under the Obama Administration, called on countries to resist “all forms” of protectionism, which can include border tariffs and rules that keep out imports to shield domestic companies from competition.

During the press conference, I was told that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was peppered with questions about the border adjustment tax.  Munchin did state that trade deals need to offer a win-win scenario and went on to state:

“We believe in free trade: we are one of the largest markets in the world, we are one of the largest trading partners in the world.  Having said that, we want to re­examine certain agreements… And to the extent that agreements are old agreements and need to be renegotiated weʹll consider that as well.”

AGRICULTURE WAKES UP BECAUSE IT REALIZES HOW MUCH IT WILL LOSE WITH A PROTECTIONIST ANTI TRADE POLICY

In the past, many reporters have asked me what could China or other countries retaliate against.  The United States does not export much.  US exports are simply too small.  In the face of large trade deficits with China, Mexico and other countries in the manufacturing area, what is the US exporting that can be a retaliation target?

US trade data indicate that US exports for 2016 were over $1 trillion.  In the Robert Lighthizer confirmation hearings, you could hear the real concern of many Senators, especially from the agriculture states, that products from their states could be retaliation targets.  Their worry is certainly justified.

As Senator Pat Roberts stated at the Lighthizer Confirmation hearings:

“I’m going to try and demonstrate that we are going through a pretty rough patch in agriculture.  If Trump makes good on his promises to turn U.S. trade policy into a war against imports, “we are going to get into a very difficult situation.”

During the Confirmation Hearing, Roberts, Grassley and other Agriculture Senators extracted a pledge from Lighthizer that in negotiating trade agreements he would push agriculture interests to the top of the list. Senators and Congressmen from Agriculture states fear that if no new trade agreements are negotiated, US agriculture will lose market share and will become the retaliation target of other countries.

Mexico, in fact, is one of the largest buyers of US corn, much of which comes from Kansas and Iowa.  US exports about $2.4 billion in corn to Mexico.  Now Mexico is talking about retaliation and buying its corn from Brazil and Argentina.  What goes around comes around.

U.S. Senators and Congressmen noticed when a Mexican lawmaker introduced legislation favoring Latin American products over American- exported corn, a key winner in Nafta. That move followed warnings from Mr. Trump that Nafta would be renegotiated and Mexico would have to pay for a new border wall.  In response, Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa stated:

“I have been worried because other countries have pushed back: ‘You want us to build a wall, well we’re not going to take your corn.’  If we’re talking about renegotiating Nafta, we actually stand to lose ground in agriculture—so we would really have to work that very, very carefully.”

On March 6th, leaders of the US Dairy industry were in Mexico to attempt and protect their exports from uncertainty over the future of NAFTA. After NAFTA was signed in 1994, American dairy exports to Mexico more than quadrupled to $1.2 billion, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all U.S. dairy exports last year. Because of Trump’s attacks on Mexico, it has encouraged Mexican importers to find other suppliers in the European Union and New Zealand, which are eager to get into the market, and in New Zealand’s case are part of the TPP.

In response to the criticism that Trump is putting his trade focus on the plight of the U.S. manufacturing sector at the expense of the export-dependent agriculture sector, on March 21st Trump pivoted to agriculture.  Sean Spicer, the President’s press secretary stated:

“While our farmers are the most efficient in the world, margins have been tightening, regulations have been multiplying, and exports, which has historically counted for over one- fifth of the U.S. farm production, have been declining due to unwise trade policies.  The President promised the many people in the agriculture industry and throughout rural America that he would not allow this to continue and he will continue to pursue policy changes that will reverse this disturbing trend.”

John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association praised the statement saying that Trump’s proclamation recognizes that “improved trade balances and a successful agriculture sector are inextricably linked.”  He further stated:

“Our industry’s exports not only deliver jobs at home, they are among America’s fundamental strengths abroad.  We are heartened to know that this White House agrees and that they will seek to increase agricultural exports as they examine existing and future trade agreements.”

Ray Starling, special assistant to the president for agriculture on the National Economic Council, recently stated at a National Ag Day event in Washington:

“The President has talked a lot about our manufacturing imbalance on trade, but that is not meant to neglect ag. That is essentially to say we know ag is doing a good job, we are making strides there, we need to do more.”

Now we have to wait and see if Trump truly means what he says or whether he wants a trade war, which will hurt US exports, especially in the agriculture area.

SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN WANT MORE TRADE DEALS–BILATERAL VERSUS MULTILATERAL DEALS

Back on January 26, 2017 in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Trump explained that he did not like multilateral trade deals, such as the TPP, because they are a mosh pit and fall to the lowest common denominator.

During his confirmation hearing, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that it easy to negotiate bilateral deals than multilateral deals.  But the question is, will it be easier to negotiate 12 bilateral deals with 12 different countries when one deal, the TPP, would have done it.  More importantly, although the US will renegotiate NAFTA and start trade deals with Japan and eventually Britain, is it truly realistic for the very small USTR to have continual negotiations with dozens of countries at the same time.  The TPP took 10 years to negotiate.  Maybe Ross is just playing a game and does not want more trade deals.

At a recent trade conference on March 13th here in Seattle held by the Washington Council on International Trade, however, it was very apparent that Washington State Congressmen, both Democrats and Republicans, want more trade deals.

At the Conference Congressman Dave Reichert, WA Republican, and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means, stated that the Trump Administration intends to do more bilateral deals.  He also stated that since NAFTA is a trilateral agreement, all three countries, Mexico, Canada and the US need to be at the table.

Reichert also stated that we cannot give up trade agreements because the cost would be too high.  China will benefit.  He also stated that the United States needs to set the international trade standards through trade agreements or China will do so and 95% of the World’s population and markets are outside US.

Reichert stated that the longer we wait to do trade deals, the more market shares we lose.  He pointed to the FTA with Korea, which dramatically reduced the 24% Korean tariff on cherries, and Washington State cheery exports doubled and Washington French Fries went up 53%.

When NAFTA took place US exports to Mexico doubled reaching $180 billion.  There is now over $500 billion in trade between US and Mexico

Following Reichert, Republican Congressman Dan Newhouse, who represents large Agricultural interests in the Center of Washington stated, “We cannot afford to waste any time as we create opportunities for local producers and exporters to gain access to new markets.”

Congressman Rick Larsen stated that the Administration has to decide whether it will do Border Adjustment taxes or trade deals.  Larsen went on to state that trade is much bigger than just agreements. It is soft power.  Asian countries see the US leading with military power, but the US relationship with the other Asian countries is less secure if the only relationship is military and not trade.

Democratic Congressman Denny Heck stated that TPP went too far too fast and was not politically possible.  Echoing Donald Trump, Heck stated that the white working man has seen no increase in income in 40 years.

But Newhouse stated that after the Korea FTA, Washington State potato growers saw an increase in exports of 670,000 tons of French Fries to Korea.  That is jobs.

On March 22nd, John Brinkley in an article entitled, Trump’s “Trade Policies Would Take From the Many and Give To a Few” points out the problem of relying only on bilateral agreements as compared to multilateral agreements:

“Politics can be defined as taking something from someone and giving it to someone else. Done right, the winners outnumber the losers and the sacrifice will have been worthwhile.

This seems lost on the Trump administration, whose trade proposals are likely to create a lot more losers than winners.

Let’s start with his plan to eschew multilateral trade agreements and negotiate only bilateral ones. With a multilateral agreement, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, all parties play by the same rules. That means exporters don’t have to figure out what the rules of origin are country-by- country. They’re all the same.

Deciphering and complying with rules of origin under a free trade agreement are among the most difficult and time-consuming chores that exporting companies have to perform. If the rule says 70 percent of a truck’s parts have to have been made in the United States, the company has to go to its suppliers and say, where did the door handles come from? Where did the tires come from?

A lot of smaller companies find it isn’t worth the time and expense, so they ship the product and pay the tariff. Or they don’t export at  all.

Having a series of bilateral agreements makes it even harder, because each agreement would have its own rules of origin. American manufacturers were looking forward to ratification of the TPP, because it was to be a 12-country trading bloc with one set of rules. But Trump withdrew the United States from it.

Renegotiating NAFTA is another idea that would take from the many for the benefit of a few.

Breaking up NAFTA and negotiating separate bilateral agreements with Mexico and Canada would be even worse. U.S. Trade Representative nominee Robert Lighthizer said during his Senate confirmation hearing that the administration might take that course.

NAFTA has been in effect for 23 years. Whatever impacts it had on American employment and economic growth are well in the past. If you look under NAFTA’s hood, you see a complex network of supply chains crossing the three countries’ borders. They make it easy and cost-effective for American manufacturers to buy parts from Mexico or Canada and have them delivered quickly and duty-free.

About half of Mexico’s exports to the United States are parts for products that are built here – car parts, electronic components and so  on.

Making those parts more expensive would make the products they go into more expensive and would reduce the importing companies’ revenues, leading to lay-offs or worse. That is basic economics.

Trump said yesterday that renegotiating NAFTA was “going to be an easy one.” Everyone who has ever been a trade negotiator probably got a chuckle out of that. . .. .

“The United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years, and that’s going to stop,” he said last week during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Poor little us. We’re being pushed around by those mean bullies from South Korea and Mexico.

Nonetheless, the U.S. and global economies have been growing at a healthy pace. The U.S. unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, about as low as it can go, and median wages have finally started to increase for the first time since the recession of 2008.

This seems to call for an economic policy of caution and restraint to keep the recovery going rather than taking a machete to our trade agreements and punishing our trading partners for transgressions they have not committed.

That would harm vastly more Americans than it would help.

On February 28th, however, it was reported that the EU expects the Trump Administration to negotiate with the entire block as EU countries pushed back on Trump’s bilateral dreams.  European countries in the EU bloc have been unified against the Trump administration’s reported attempts to bring individual EU countries into direct, bilateral trade deals with the U.S. The EU ambassador at a recent National Press Club meeting stated that bilateral deals are “nonsense”.  David O’ Sullivan stated:

“It’s nonsense to talk about bilateral deals with countries that are part of a single market.  Would American companies really want 28 separate FTAs?”

In Germany, Martin Schäfer, spokesperson for the German foreign ministry, stated:

“The [European] Commission carries out trade negotiations and concludes trade agreements for Europe and for us. This is the legal status, about which we have nothing critical to say.  The new political constellation in the U.S. and elsewhere should not tempt anybody to take up a different position.”

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom also stated recently:

“The U.S. administration seems to favor bilateral relations over multilateralism. And some of the proposals we have seen floated, such as a border adjustment tax, could be at odds with WTO rules. Countries should be able to protect themselves from distortions and unfair trade practices. But that has to be done within the framework of the WTO. Global rules mean everyone playing fair, by a consistent, predictable and transparent rulebook.

In an age when some want to rebuild walls, re-impose barriers, restrict people’s freedom to move … we stand open to progressive trade with the world.”

On March 6th, a top European official stated that U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist stance may propel Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American economic powers into market-opening alliances with the European Union.  Jyrki Katainen, a vice president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said Trump’s rejection of multilateral commercial deals and border-tax threat are giving impetus to the 28-nation bloc’s push for free- trade or investment pacts with countries including Japan, China, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

Katainen stated that:

“When there has been some signals to raise protectionism, especially from the U.S. side, the rest of the world seems to be fighting back and saying that this is not our line, this is something which we don’t want. This is music to our ears.”

The comments signal that Trump’s “America First” approach that seeks to reduce the U.S.’s $502 billion trade deficit may be as much an opportunity as a threat to the EU.

Recently, the US equipment manufacturing industry, which supports more than 1.3 million jobs, expressed its concern about exports.  A report by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers stated that about 30 percent of the construction equipment and about 30 percent of the agricultural equipment manufactured in the United States is designated for export – and would therefore be hit hardest by any slowdown in global trade:

“Slow international growth combined with uncertainty about trading rules under the Trump administration could act as a drag on the equipment manufacturing industry’s overall performance.  Any steps the Trump administration might take to revisit or exit existing trade agreements could further complicate the challenging economic environment outside the United States.

It is difficult to precisely forecast how the Trump administration might rewrite existing trading rules, but any steps that make it more difficult for manufacturers to export their products could hinder growth in the industry.”

TPP CONTINUES WITHOUT THE US

On March 14th Government officials from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership nations minus the United States held a two-day summit in Chile to discuss a path forward on trade following the US decision to withdraw from the TPP.

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay stated:

“I have recently visited Australia, Japan, Singapore and Mexico, met with ministers from Brunei and Malaysia and talked directly with trade ministers from all other TPP countries.  It is clear our partners remain committed to the benefits high quality trade agreements provide.”

Even though the TPP requires that at least six countries composing at least 85 percent of the entire TPP’s collective economic production, with the US withdrawal, the other 11 countries have decided to move forward with the TPP.  As Wendy Cutler, a former trade negotiator at USTR, stated:

“A TPP agreement without the U.S. is still relevant and would have significant economic value.  You’d still have four of the world’s 20 largest economies — Japan, Canada, Australia, and Mexico — alongside significant emerging economies, like Vietnam and Malaysia.”

In other words, other countries will replace US exports in those markets because they will have the benefit of the TPP.

After the meeting in Chile, Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo stated:

“I was particularly pleased there was continuing movement on the TPP.  Countries remain committed to exploring all the avenues and opportunities in relation to the TPP. There was broad agreement on the high level of ambition in the TPP being a benchmark and something we shouldn’t just let slip away.”

Japanese State Minister Takao Ochi stated:

“As long as Japan is concerned we don’t want to exclude any possible ways and we would like to take initiative in discussing with each of the member countries.”

The 11 countries will now work to preserve the trade deal’s innovations, which included new rules on digital trade, disciplines for state-owned companies and what have been touted as the toughest labor and environment protections of any modern trade agreement. The innovations also include new market access that countries negotiated on everything from milk powder to insurance services.

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES

As stated in my last newsletters, the big issue in the trade area right now is border adjustment taxes and tax reform.  New Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says tax reform will take place in August 2017 and it is a priority for the Trump Administration.  Part of that reform is Border Adjustment Taxes (“BAT”).  See http://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/2017/02/23/treasury-secretary-mnuchin-lays-out-aggressive-timeline-for-tax-reform.html.  As Mnuchin states, a US deficit of $20 trillion, which was doubled by President Obama, is a concern, but more important is economic growth, which will result in more tax revenue.  To get economic growth, taxes and regulations have to be cut.

But with the failure of Obamacare in the House, taxes, including border adjustment taxes, move to the front of the Congressional calendar.  Trump and Republicans in the Congress, especially the House, appear to be moving ahead with an alternative to tariffs to spur US manufacturing and that is taxes.  There is now an attempt in Congress to give American-made products a big tax advantage over their foreign competitors through border adjustment taxes, and, in effect, counter the value added taxes used in other countries to deter imports.  As Kevin Brady, Chairman of House Ways and Means, argues, almost 80% of countries border adjust their taxes.  That includes Mexico, Canada, China, and the European countries, putting US exports at a substantial disadvantage.  For Brady’s argument, see videos at the following links, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yYHGoFmNEk&feature=youtu.be and

https://waysandmeans.house.gov/icymi-chairman-brady-cnbc-makes-case-ending-made-america-export-tax/.

Under a border adjustment tax (“BAT”), a 20% tax would be applied against all domestic products and imported products.  But the domestic producer would be allowed to deduct all the domestic costs associated with producing that product.  Thus if a $100 product was produced in the US, the domestic producer could deduct $70 in costs, resulting in a 20% tax on $30 or a $6 tax.  But there would be no deduction of domestic costs for a $100 import resulting in a 20% tax on the full $100 or a $20 tax, giving the domestic product a 14% tax advantage.  The BAT would not apply to exports.

This proposal has welled up from the House of Representatives and is strongly supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Chairman of House Ways and Means, Kevin Brady.  Their argument is that border adjustment tax is needed to offset value added taxes in other countries.  Brady argues that the BAT is the only way to end the “Made in America” tax.

One example given is that if an automobile is produced in the US and exported to Mexico, a 35% corporate tax is levied on the profits of the US automaker and then the US automobile is hit with a 16% value added tax when it comes into Mexico.  On the other hand, when an automobile is produced in Mexico for shipment to the US, there is no corporate tax on the export and no corresponding tax in the US on the Mexican export to the US.  In effect, Ryan and Brady argue that this is a tremendous incentive to move manufacturing out of the United States to countries with value added taxes, such as Mexico, China, Canada, EU and many other countries.

Border adjustments serve as a way to level the playing field and alter value-added consumption taxes many countries, including European countries, Mexico, Canada and China, impose on each stage of production, as products are sold internationally.  Proponents argue that the BAT is not trade policy and does not favor exports over imports.  To see the companies that have VAT taxes in place, see the Ways and Means website at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/ending-made-america-tax-three-major- wins-american-people/.

The Trade War in the Administration on border adjustment taxes has become clear as Bannon, Navarro and others are in favor, but Cohn and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin are opposed.  Wilbur Ross is on the fence.  Trump himself has not taken a position.

On March 25th During a morning interview, Mnuchin said he had been overseeing work on the administration’s tax bill over the past two months and it would be introduced soon. He said the goal was still to win Congressional approval of the tax measure by August. But if the timeline is delayed, he said he expected the proposal to pass by the fall.  Mnuchin did not reveal whether the administration will include the Border Adjustment tax.

On March 9th Bloomberg reported that the BAT is in deep trouble.  The BAT is important because it is expected to raise more than $1 trillion in revenue, which would offset the cut to corporate tax rates:

Companies that rely heavily on exports, such as Boeing Co. and Oracle Corp., love the plan—for obvious reasons. Beyond profits, they also say a BAT would make American manufacturers more competitive by putting them on equal footing with foreign competitors around the world.

Importers hate the BAT. Big retailers such as Walmart Stores Inc. and Best Buy Co. contend that border adjustments will dent profit margins and force them to raise prices on everything from avocados and furniture to Nike shoes and French cheese. In a Feb. 28 letter to congressional leaders, the Americans for Affordable Products coalition said the tax would raise consumer costs “by as much as $1,700” in the first year. . . .

Companies are taking their message to consumers. In late February the National Retail Federation, which opposes the BAT, started airing TV commercials that parody an OxiClean infomercial, telling shoppers that “the all-new BAT tax is specially designed to make your disposable income—disappear!” Proponents, through the American Made Coalition that includes Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Inc., launched a Twitter feed to support the tax. Both sides have created Facebook pages and websites with auto-form letters that viewers can send to Congress. Both, too, routinely pepper media outlets with press releases citing prominent people in the private sector and academia who either love or hate it.

As Bloomberg further states in Congress the BAT is running into opposition from Republicans:

A core group of House Republicans has come out in recent weeks against the BAT, citing the higher prices they’d inflict on consumers. Republican Senate support is in doubt, too. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Walmart’s home state of Arkansas, told a Senate floor session on Feb. 15 that border adjustments are “a theory wrapped in speculation inside a guess.” The next day, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said, “The hard reality is the border tax is on life support.”

But as Bloomberg further states:

“Ryan and Brady aren’t backing down. Without border adjustments, they say, their plan to rewrite the tax code can’t happen. That $1.1 trillion in revenue is crucial to the politics of the BAT, since it helps keep it deficit- neutral, a prerequisite for passing a tax bill through the Senate without Democratic votes. “What it boils down to is that it’s a way to pay for the rest of the tax plan,” says Veronique de Rugy, an economist at George Mason University. “Only revenue comes from this feature—economic growth doesn’t.” That $1 trillion is also crucial to how the BAT might affect the economy. Says Ross, “That is way too big a number to get wrong.”

EUROPE, THE WTO AND CHINA

Meanwhile, other countries are lining up to retaliate if the BAT is passed.  On February 28th, it was reported that the EU is preparing a legal challenge against Donald Trump’s US border tax plan in what could be biggest trade dispute in a century.  Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission’s Vice President, told the newspaper: “If someone is behaving against our interests or against international rules in trade then we have our own mechanisms to react.”  He said the EU was seeking to avoid a potential trade war with the US as it would be “disastrous” for the world economy.

“We have all the legal arrangements within the EU but we are also part of global arrangements like the WTO and we want to respect the global rule base when it comes to trade.”

One WTO trade dispute expert estimated that a defeat in such a case could see around $385bn a year in trade retaliation against the US.  Volker Kauder, parliamentary floor leader of Merkel’s conservatives, also recently stated:

“If Donald Trump imposes punitive tariffs on German and European products, then Europe should also impose punitive tariffs on U.S. products.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has been seeking advice from think tanks and policy advisers on how to retaliate against trade penalties imposed by the US.  China’s strongest responses would likely include finding alternative suppliers of agricultural products, machinery and manufactured goods, and reducing the number of consumer goods like cellphones and laptops that it exports to the United States. Other possibilities could include levying a tax or other penalty on major U.S. companies that do business in China or restricting access to the country’s services sector.

NAFTA RENEGOTIATION

The first trade agreement, which the Trump Administration will negotiate is NAFTA.  President Trump has already formally notified both Canada and Mexico that he intends to renegotiate NAFTA.  The negotiations will probably start sometime this summer.

On March 12, 2017, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that the Trump administration has yet to determine what the trade agreement replacing NAFTA will look like.  As Ross stated:

“One size doesn’t fit all.  The issues of automotive are not the same as the issues of agriculture; they’re not the same as the issues of electronics, or steel. It’s a very, very complicated situation. So it’s very hard to paint just with one big broad brush.”

On March 16, 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau stated:

“NAFTA’s been … improved a dozen times over the past 20 years. There’s always opportunities to talk about how we can make it better. It has led to a lot of great jobs for a whole lot of people on both sides of the border and I very much take him [Trump] at his word when he talks about just making a few tweaks. Because that’s what we’re always happy to do.

“We’ve got auto parts crisscrossing the border six times before they end up in a finished product. You’ve got over $2 billion a day going back and forth. So, making sure that the border is … secure but also smooth in its flow of goods and people is essential to good jobs on both sides of the border.”

Meanwhile, there are a number of meetings between US, Canadian and Mexican officials preparing for the NAFTA negotiations.

On March 21st, the Trump administration created the attached list, KEY ELEMENTS, of more than 20 foreign trade practices it would like to address in a renegotiation of NAFTA and in any bilateral trade deal it might pursue.  The list includes relatively new areas like foreign currency manipulation, where achieving agreement could be difficult, but also a host of others like intellectual protection that have long been mainstays in U.S. trade agreements.  Payne Griffin, deputy chief of staff at the Office of U.S. Trade Representative, stated:

“These are market problems that the administration has identified either through vigorous consultations with Congress or their own internal research.  It is a non-exhaustive list of things that may be addressed in these bilateral trade agreements.”

CHINA NONMARKET ECONOMY

China has initiated a mandatory 60-day consultation period with both economies before deciding to request a dispute settlement panel to hear its complaint.  China has now decided to only target the EU, which is in the process of trying to change antidumping methodology. Brussels is trying to come up with a new way of treating China under its trade remedy law while still recognizing that Beijing intervenes heavily in its economy.

The United States has said it would only consider a change in response to a formal request from China to be treated as a market economy, something it has not done since 2006.

Apparently, China is trying a strategy of ‘divide and conquer’.  Take on the EU first, because it is already revising its law and they might get a good WTO decision, then face the tougher battle against the U.S.”

MORE TRADE CASES COMING

A law firm that specializes in bringing antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) trade cases recently told me that they are in the process of preparing a number of new cases against China and other countries.  With a sympathetic Trump Administration and a very sympathetic Wilbur Ross as the new Secretary of Commerce, more cases are going to be filed.

ALUMINUM FOIL FROM CHINA

On March 9, 2017, the US Aluminum Foil Trade Enforcement Working Group, including Aleris Inc., Alpha Aluminum, Golden Aluminum, Granges Americas Inc., JW Aluminum Company, Novelis Corporation, Republic Foil Inc., Reynolds Consumer Products, and United Aluminum Corporation, filed major AD and CVD cases against more than $658 million of aluminum foil imports from China in 2016.

The petition alleges duties ranging from at a minimum of 38 percent to a high of 134 percent and targets 232 Chinese exporters and producers of aluminum foil.  The aluminum foil covered by the complaint covers household aluminum foil as well as aluminum foil used in cookware, product packaging and heat exchangers found in cars and HVAC systems.

US importers can be liable for CVD duties on aluminum foil imports from China as soon as August 6, 2017 and AD duties on October 5, 2017.

Attached are the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese exporters/producers and US importers, 2017.03.08 CHN-ALUMINUM FOIL Petition Vol I 1Narrative IMPORTERNAMES.  If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.

SILICON METAL FROM AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, KAZAKHSTAN AND NORWAY

Although the US industry may believe AD and CVD petitions will move the Chinese imports share to the US industry, that is not necessarily the case.  Case in point, on March 8, 2016, Globe Specialty Metals Inc. filed major AD and CVD cases against imports of Silicon Metal from Australia, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Norway.  Chinese silicon metal has been under an AD order with shut out rates since 1991.

Attached are the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted foreign exporters/producers and US importers, SMALL SILICON METAL PETITION.

The first hearing at the ITC is March 29th.  Commerce will issue questionnaires probably in the first week of April.  Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the Countervailing Duty cases, which is when liability for importers begins, can happen as soon as August.

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

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

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

Previous newsletters stated Wilbur Ross has made it very clear to reach the 3% plus growth rate, the US must increase exports.  Yet, at the same time, the Trump Administrations keeps concentrating on deficits and accusing foreign governments of treating US companies unfairly.  Trump and his Administration do not look internally and try to find ways to make the US companies more competitive, which will not create a trade war.

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

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

Right now the total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $12.5 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget.  Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.

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

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

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

With the election of Donald Trump, as stated in my last blog post, the Universal Trade War will continue.  In addition to the US bringing AD and CVD cases, countries around the World, such as EC, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Thailand, South Africa, and Vietnam, all are filing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against each other and the United States.  These countries have adopted the US law which finds dumping in 90% of the cases.  The US and the EC have created a Frankenstein in the antidumping law and the whole World has adopted it.

Compromise is the best way to settle trade disputes, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to settle US antidumping and other trade cases.  What is “fair” trade for the United States is “fair” trade for every other country.  Many countries want to make their industries Great again.

Because of this situation, this part of the newsletter will concentrate on trade cases in other countries and how other countries see the trade problem with the United States.  It will also discuss potential US exports that can be retaliation targets.

MEXICO

On March 6, 2017, Alexandro N. Gomez-Stozzi, a Mexican trade lawyer, at the Gardere firm in Mexico City sent me the following summary of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Investigations in Mexico:

Mexican Antidumping and Countervailing (AD/CVD) Investigation Procedures Factsheet

  • AD/CVD investigations in Mexico may take from 12 to 18 months as of the publication in the Diario Oficial regarding the initiation of investigation. Terms within the investigative process may be extended with cause, at the discretion of the authority. Investigations are generally conducted as follows (variation of a chart created by Mexican authorities):
  • There is a single investigating authority, the Ministry of Economy´s International Trade Practices Unit (known by its Spanish acronym UPCI, for Unidad de Prácticas Comerciales Internacionales). UPCI makes all relevant findings: (i) dumping or countervailing, (ii) material injury or threat thereof and (iii) causation. Final AD/CVD orders are signed by the Minister of Economy; although informally, trade policy considerations in other sectors come into play before deciding to issue an AD/CVD order. UPCI is also in charge of safeguard investigations.  
  • Investigations are usually requested by Mexican producers representing at least 25% of the total production, although UPCI may initiate investigations if it deems so appropriate.
  • Exporters and importers of affected goods are strongly encouraged to retain Mexican counsel, as all appearances have to be made in Spanish and a domestic service address has to be designated.
  • When issuing a preliminary determination, the authority may: (1) impose a preliminary AD/CVD duty and continue with investigation, (2) continue the investigation without an AD/CVD duty, or (3) terminate the investigation on insufficient evidence grounds.
  • In its final determination, the authority may (i) confirm or modify its preliminary determination to impose an AD/CVD duty, or (2) declare the investigation concluded without imposing an AD/CVD duty. Under stringent circumstances, final determinations may impose retroactive duties for up to three months from date of publication of the preliminary determination.
  • During the course of an investigation, Mexican law allows for interested parties to ask UPCI to convene conciliatory meetings, at which proposals may be presented to resolve the case and terminate the investigation. These proceedings coexist with Antidumping Agreement´s price undertakings.
  • AD/CVD orders remain in effect for 5 years. They may be renewed for similar periods when warranted after a sunset review which covers both dumping (or countervailing) and injury.  Circumvention, actual coverage of AD/CVD orders, and similar proceedings can also be initiated as long as orders are in effect.
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)´s Antidumping and Subsidies Agreements are applied as is in Mexican investigation proceedings. Mexican trade-remedy law and regulations may sometimes be contradictory with WTO agreements; in case of conflict, the WTO Agreements would prevail in court.

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law, Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.09.

CFIUS—WILL INVESTMENT RECIPROCITY BE A NEW REQUIREMENT??

There is movement within the United States to establish investment reciprocity as a criteria in investigations by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States into its national security reviews of inbound transactions, a policy shift that would weigh the heaviest on Chinese buyers if enacted.

Investment reciprocity — the idea that the U.S. should block a foreign entity’s investment in a particular industry when a U.S. buyer would be similarly blocked in that entity’s country — has been on politicians’ radar since before Donald Trump took office.

Trump made no secret of his leanings on the campaign trail, criticizing in particular a Chinese investment group’s acquisition of the 130-year-old Chicago Stock Exchange, a deal that has since been cleared by CFIUS.

If the U.S. does decide to go this route, there are at least a couple ways the government could go about it. The President could direct CFIUS to focus more heavily on particular industries or use a broader definition of national security, as long as those directives don’t stray too far from the regulations dictated by the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007, or FINSA. Congress can also amend FINSA to expand either the range of industries susceptible to national security review, or even expand the review itself from one focused solely on national security to a review that more broadly considers foreign investments in the U.S.

CHINESE MILITARY BUILDUP TO PROTECT ITS TRADE INTERESTS???

As mentioned in prior blog posts, there is a close relationship between defense/security and trade.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was created, in part, by the US naval embargo of Japan.

One of the strongest arguments for the Trans Pacific Partnership was the geo-political argument that the TPP would bring us closer to the Asian countries.  Former defense secretary Ash Carter stated at one point that the TPP was equivalent to another US aircraft carrier.

On March 15, 2017, Malia Zimmerman for Fox News in an article entitled “China next US threat? Beijing beefs up military to protect trade”, stated:

With a laser-like focus on protecting its lifeblood – trade – China is dramatically altering its military operations, creating specialized teams that can protect its maritime resources, routes and territorial expansion plans. . . .

Harry Kazianis, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Defense Studies for The Center for the National Interest, stated:

“The great Achilles heel of China is trade—especially natural resources that come via sea and into its ports—and a big reason it will inevitably become a globally deployed military power. Beijing’s armed forces are working to slowly but surely reinforce and protect its overseas hubs as well as trade routes that move from Europe, the Middle East and Africa and into China’s territorial waters.”

ZTE HIT WITH SANCTIONS FOR VIOLATING EXPORT CONTROLS ACT

On March 7, 2007, in a notice and judgement, which will be attached to my blog, judgment 3-22ZTE Corporation Agrees to Plead Guilty and Pay Over $430, the US Justice Department announced that ZTE Corp, has agreed to plead guilty and pay a combined a penalty of $1.1.9 billion for violating U.S. sanctions by sending U.S.-origin items to Iran.  As the Justice Department notice states:

ZTE Corporation has agreed to enter a guilty plea and to pay a $430,488,798 penalty to the U.S. for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by illegally shipping U.S.-origin items to Iran, obstructing justice and making a material false statement. ZTE simultaneously reached settlement agreements with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In total ZTE has agreed to pay the U.S. Government $892,360,064. The BIS has suspended an additional $300,000,000, which ZTE will pay if it violates its settlement agreement with the BIS. . . .

“ZTE Corporation not only violated export controls that keep sensitive American technology out of the hands of hostile regimes like Iran’s – they lied to federal investigators and even deceived their own counsel and internal investigators about their illegal acts,” said Attorney General Sessions. “This plea agreement holds them accountable, and makes clear that our government will use every tool we have to punish companies who would violate our laws, obstruct justice and jeopardize our national security.  . . .”

“ZTE engaged in an elaborate scheme to acquire U.S.-origin items, send the items to Iran and mask its involvement in those exports. The plea agreement alleges that the highest levels of management within the company approved the scheme. ZTE then repeatedly lied to and misled federal investigators, its own attorneys and internal investigators. Its actions were egregious and warranted a significant penalty,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “The enforcement of U.S. export control and sanctions laws is a major component of the National Security Division’s commitment to protecting the national security of the United States. Companies that violate these laws – including foreign companies – will be investigated and held to answer for their actions.”

“ZTE Corporation not only violated our export control laws but, once caught, shockingly resumed illegal shipments to Iran during the course of our investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Parker. “ZTE Corporation then went to great lengths to devise elaborate, corporate-wide schemes to hide its illegal conduct, including lying to its own lawyers.”

“The plea agreement in this case shows ZTE repeatedly violated export controls and illegally shipped U.S. technology to Iran,” said Assistant Director Priestap. “The company also took extensive measures to hide what it was doing from U.S. authorities. This case is an excellent example of cooperation among multiple

U.S. agencies to uncover illegal technology transfers and make those responsible pay for their actions.”

The plea agreement, which is contingent on the court’s approval, also requires ZTE to submit to a three- year period of corporate probation, during which time an independent corporate compliance monitor will review and report on ZTE’s export compliance program. ZTE is also required to cooperate fully with the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding any criminal investigation by U.S. law enforcement authorities.  . . .”

According to David Laufman, chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the DOJ’s National Security Division, it was “extraordinarily difficult” to obtain key documents and witnesses located in China until on March 7, 2016, the Commerce decision to add ZTE to the so-called Entity List.  According to Laufman, “The game-changing event in this case, was the Commerce Department’s decision to pursue an entity listing of ZTE, demonstrating the efficacy of the whole-of- government approach” to national security.

Companies end up on the Entity List after Commerce determines they are tied to illicit weapons programs, terrorism or other national security threats, and thereafter can’t trade with U.S. companies without a special dispensation from the agency.

This may be the first case in which the Commerce Department has used an Entity List designation to force a foreign company to cooperate in a probe.  Commerce will probably start using this strategy in future investigations.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

DOMESTIC INDUSTRY FROM PATENT LICENSEE

On March 8, 2017, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) issued the attached interesting decision, 2 PAGE ONE PAGE DI, in the Section 337 case Certain Silicon-On-Insulator Wafers.  In that decision, the ITC Administrative Law Judge determined that it could find a domestic industry in a Section 337 if the US patent licensee’s activities show domestic activity.  Even though the patent holder was a non-practicing entity, the ALJ determined:

Silicon Genesis Corporation (“SiGen”), has established contingently a domestic industry in the United States through the activities of its licensee, SunEdison Semiconductor Limited (“SunEdison”) . . . through its licensee, SunEdison, SiGen has proven by a preponderance of evidence that it has made a significant domestic investment in plant and equipment, in capital and labor, and a substantial investment in research and development to produce certain silicon-on-insulator (“SOI”) products at issue in this Investigation.

The decision did not break new ground, but it reminds nonpracticing entities, (“NPEs”) that one way to meet the domestic industry requirement under Section 337 is through the actions of patent licensee in the United States.

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

On March 10, 2017, in the attached ITC notice, Intravascular Sets, Curlin Medical, Inc., Moog, Inc., and Zevex, Inc. filed a section 337 case against imports of Intravascular Administration Sets from Yangzhou WeiDeLi Trade Co., Ltd., China.

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, border adjustment taxes, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP AND TRADE, LIGHTHIZER AS USTR, BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES, MANUFACTURING CAN COME BACK TO THE US, TAA FOR COMPANIES, WTO CASES AGAINST ALUMINUM AND NME STATUS, AND 337

Washington Monument 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 JANUARY 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

This blog post contains several articles about recent developments in the Trump Transition and its impact on trade.  January 20th, inauguration day, is only 8 days away and Trump will be President.  The transition, however, moves quickly.

Although the past appointments of Governor Branstad of Iowa as Ambassador to China and Wilbur Ross to Commerce, two persons who know China well, indicate no potential trade war, the two latest appointments of Bob Lighthizer to USTR and Peter Nararro as Chairman of the National Economic Advisors indicate that protectionism, especially against China, is back on the menu.

Trump may be trying to use uncertainty to create leverage and a deal with the Chinese and other governments on trade and other topics.  Bob Lighthizer will be the hammer of the Trump trade policy that will negotiate those deals.

But the next question is how will Trump help revive manufacturing in the United States and help the Rust Belt states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which put him in the White House?

One answer may be taxes, the border adjustment kind, which may, in fact, be a response to the Value Added Taxes levied on US exports.  Trump and Congress have apparently decided to fight fire with fire—mercantilism to fight mercantilism, border adjustment taxes to fight value added taxes, which put US exports at a major disadvantage.

No longer will the US take a passive approach to foreign trade barriers to US exports.  Trump and his team will raise US trade barriers to counter the trade barriers erected by other countries.  Reciprocity is the name of the game.

Moreover, the recent noises from many US companies indicate that they like what Trump is doing and manufacturing will move back to the US.  Low corporate taxes, less regulations and the threat of trade barriers will bring manufacturing back to the US.  In fact, it may even encourage Chinese and other foreign companies to move production to the United States.  Trump will do everything possible to increase jobs in the United States.

Also the US China Trade relationship is getting out to an interesting start in 2017 with the filing today, January 12, 2017, of a major WTO case against China on Aluminum.

Hopefully Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, which is the only effective US trade remedy that saves companies and the jobs that go with them, will expand.  But TAA for Companies is not TAA for Workers.  They are very different programs.

In addition, with regards to the recent WTO complaint China filed against the US and the EC for failing to give it market economy status under their antidumping and countervailing duty laws, Canada and Japan have now jumped into the case because of the impact on their trade laws.

Under the Universal Trade War theme, attached are newsletters from Roland Zhu of the Allbright Chinese law firm on Chinese trade law.

Finally, a recent 337 intellectual property case was filed against China on Basketball Backboard Components.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

PS, If anyone wants to unsubscribe to the newsletter, please let me know and I will remove them from the list.

TRADE AND TRADE POLICY

TRUMP’S APPOINTMENTS NOW BECOME MORE PROTECTIONIST AND TOUGH ON TRADE—BUT MAYBE THAT IS WHAT IS NEEDED IN THIS ENVIRONMENT

After the first two appointments of Governor Branstad as ambassador to China and Wilbur Ross as new Commerce Department secretary, the two recent appointments of Bob Lighthizer as United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) and China critic, Peter Navarro, to head the National Trade Council indicate that the Trump Administration will take a much tougher line on trade and China.  Full disclosure in the late 1980s, as described more below, I worked for Bob Lighthizer at Skadden, Arps, and he is certainly a much tougher negotiator than any trade negotiator China or other countries have dealt with before.

Recently on Bloomberg news, I heard one bank spokesman say that their research group gives a 25% chance that under Trump the US will return to a Smoot Hawley situation, such as in the 1930s.  Although Lighthizer is a very tough guy, he is also a very experienced trade lawyer with substantial contacts in Congress so hopefully he will be pragmatic enough not to simply put up the protectionist walls and return the US to the 1930s.

But let there be no mistake, the Trump Administration will erect barriers to imports to offset the many trade barriers other countries, including Mexico, China and the EC, have erected against US exports.  Reciprocity will be the new approach to trade policy.

USTR FROMAN ADDS A PARTING SHOT

As present USTR Froman of the Obama Administration is leaving, he issued on January 5, 2017 the attached Cabinet Exit Memo, USTR-Exit-Memo.  In that Cabinet Exit Memo, Froman stated that the United States cannot withdraw from Globalization.  The issue is whether the US can shape globalization so as to benefit the US.  Froman also warned that if the US withdraws, the major beneficiary will be China.  As Froman stated:

“The fundamental economic question of our time is not whether we can stop globalization, but whether we can use all the tools at our disposal to shape globalization in a way that helps the majority of Americans, and reflects not just our economic interests, but our values.”

Froman went on to emphasize the importance of Agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”):

“These agreements offer a positive vision for American leadership in the global economy.  This vision is vitally important, because in the absence of U.S. guidance and leadership, the world is likely to turn to alternative policy models that will put the United States at a permanent disadvantage.”

Froman went on to argue that the US can only counter China through negotiations that set high standards for the World’s trading countries:

“If we step back from a global leadership role, it will be our loss and China’s gain.  This alternative vision would place a large portion of America’s industry at risk of lost exports and create powerful incentives to invest in Asia in order to sell in Asia. Should this alternative come to dominate the next generation of trade agreements, the consequence will be an erosion of economic security and opportunity for all Americans.”

Froman apparently is arguing that the trade game cannot be changed and only small changes can be made through negotiations, such as the TPP, because globalization is here to stay.  Trump intends to overturn the trade policy table all together.

TRUMP PICKS AN ENFORCER ROBERT LIGHTHIZER AS NEXT UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE (“USTR”)

On January 3, 2017 Donald Trump announced that he has picked a very tough negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, a Skadden, Arps partner, as the next United States Trade Representative (“USTR”).  In doing so, Trump stated:

“Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first.  He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans. He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity.”

Almost 20 years ago, I worked with Lighthizer in the late 1980s at Skadden, Arps.  Before joining Skadden, Arps, Lighthizer was a Deputy USTR and was legendary.  One of my colleagues at Skadden told me that as a Deputy USTR when Lighthizer was negotiating with the Japanese government on a trade deal, he took one proposal from the Japanese government, folded it into a paper airplane and threw it out the door.

After Lighthizer joined Skadden in the late 1980s, Lighthizer brought in US Steel as a client and went on to represent US Steel for decades bringing many antidumping and countervailing duty cases against steel products from various countries.  Being the former Chief of Staff to Senator Robert Dole, the former Senate Majority leader, Lighthizer has extremely good contacts with the Republicans in Congress.

From my personal experience with Lighthizer, he will be an extremely tough negotiator with an agenda of protecting US companies from import competition and he will not be a friend of China, but that may be a good thing.  In contrast to the tough approach on trade of President Trump, Lighthizer may be the best choice free traders could get.  Lighthizer is a very experienced trade lawyer, who is not an ideologue, but a pragmatic deal maker.

More importantly, Trump’s appointment of an experienced tough trade lawyer as the USTR indicates that Trump does not really want a trade war.  He wants better, tougher deals more in line with US interests, such as a renegotiated NAFTA and possibly even a renegotiated TPP.  Trump is seeking to hire one of Washington’s top trade lawyers to negotiate tougher international trade agreements and then enforce them more vigorously.  Lighthizer, in effect, will be the hammer of Trump’s trade policy.

The desire for a much tougher trade policy is bipartisan.  Many Democratic lawmakers agree with Trump and many Republicans on a tougher trade policy.  On January 3rd, AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka met with nine House Democrats to urge renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada and stating that he does not think Trump “has enough Republican support to do it, and rewriting the rules of trade is a necessary first step in righting the economy for working people.”

In response to the appointment, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who knows Lighthizer very well and will hold hearings on his nomination, stated:

“Ensuring our past, present, and future trade agreements are the best possible deals for American workers and job creators is a shared goal supported by pro- trade lawmakers and the Trump Administration alike. As the incoming administration undertakes this enormous responsibility, Bob will be a critical player in ensuring that America’s trade agenda reflects U.S. commercial interests, while helping set the standard for global trade. Armed with bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority, the incoming Trump Administration has a unique opportunity to pursue new, bilateral trade pacts of the highest caliber that can be submitted to Congress for an up or down vote with no amendments. As the world and our economic competitors move to expand their global footprints, we can’t afford to be left behind in securing strong deals that will increase access to new markets for American-made products and services, protect our intellectual property rights abroad, and ensure domestic businesses can successfully compete in the 21st century global economy. I look forward to a vigorous discussion of Bob’s trade philosophy and priorities when he comes before the Finance Committee.”

Bill Brock, the former USTR under President Reagan, stated:

“He is in most ways, if not many ways, in line with Trump’s comments during the campaign.  He’s very bright, he’s very aggressive.”

There was speculation prior to the Lighthizer appointment that USTR would take a secondary role in trade negotiations.  In fact, Lighthizer’s appointment indicates that Trump wants to make USTR under Lighthizer’s leadership the tip of sword in changing and negotiating tough trade agreements and enforcing them.  Of Trump’s trade advisors, only Lighthizer has government experience.

Alan Wolff, another former senior American trade official who represented the steel industry as co- counsel in many trade cases with Lighthizer, referred to Lighthizer’s broad knowledge of trade law and went on to state:

“Those who say U.S.T.R. will be subordinated to other agencies are mistaken.  He’ll be a dominant figure on trade, in harmony with Wilbur Ross and Navarro.”

Lighthizer’s appointment is a clear indication that the Trump Administration will focus on the enforcement of trade agreements and on the letter of the law.  Lighthizer is not a bull in a China shop.  He is a very smart, tough trade lawyer and negotiator, and he will do everything possible to protect the US industry.

And Lighthizer will be very tough with China.  In the attached 2010 statement testimony to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, LIGHTHIZER 2010 STATEMENT US CHINA ECONOMIC SECURITY COMMISSION, Lighthizer stated:

Misjudging Incentives for Industries to Shift Production Wholesale to China and then Ship Back to the United States. . . . In other words, supporters assumed that since the United States had been granting MFN status to China for decades, granting MFN on a permanent basis would make no significant difference to how companies would serve this market.

But this assumption failed to account for the many incentives Western companies had to bet on the other side, and use China as a manufacturing platform to serve the U.S. market. As shown throughout this paper, China practices numerous forms of mercantilism – including subsidies, currency manipulation, and government programs that encourage developing new products in China – that give companies strong reasons to move production to that country. China’s relatively weak labor and environmental policies have a similar effect. China also manipulates raw material markets in a manner that encourages manufacturers to move there.  . . .

Many experts agree that our trading relationship with China presents a serious threat to our economy and the effective functioning of the WTO.  How should U.S. policymakers respond to these problems? As described in more detail below, I believe they should stop being so passive, take a number of straightforward steps to mitigate the harm caused by Chinese mercantilism, and consider more imaginative steps to deal with China.

We must stop being so passive. For ten years now, U.S. policymakers have done very little as China pursued policies that have resulted in an enormous trade imbalance. This approach has not worked, and it is past time for the U.S. government to become more aggressive. . . .

Lighthizer went on to state:

Indeed, I would take the argument even further. Trade policy discussions in the United States have increasingly been dominated by arcane disputations about whether various actions would be “WTO ­consistent” – treating this as a mantra of almost religious or moral significance.  The fact is that the WTO is built upon a framework of mutual concessions and purported mutual benefits from expanded trade and open markets. WTO commitments are not religious obligations, do not (and should not be construed to) impinge upon national sovereignty, and are not subject to coercion by some WTO police force. Viewing them as such – and implicitly establishing this viewpoint as the inviolate touchstone of all U.S. trade policy – is at odds with the structure of the WTO itself, not to mention the vociferous and repeated statements made by proponents of the WTO when it was established.

In this regard, WTO commitments represent mutually beneficial, market ­opening stipulations by individual countries. Where a country fails to fully implement commitments it has made, other countries are given the right to reciprocally suspend market­ opening commitments of their own – in an amount precisely equivalent to, and no greater than, the value of trade they have lost as a result of the derogation that has occurred. In this way, the entire WTO system is in a very real sense premised upon the assumption of relatively equal costs and benefits among and between WTO participants – whereby compliance with WTO norms is encouraged by the knowledge that derogations will result in the suspension of equivalent trade concessions. Where this relationship does not hold – that is, where a trade relationship has become so unbalanced that the threat of retaliation pales in comparison to the potential benefits of derogation – it only makes sense that a sovereign nation would consider what options are in its own national interest (up to and including potential derogation from WTO stipulations).

This need not be seen as some fundamental threat to the integrity of the WTO system.  Indeed, let me state explicitly that I am not advocating that the United States leave the WTO – that body is too important to us and the global trading system. I am merely pointing out that derogation may be a common sense, economically rational analysis by participants in the system – whereby potential decisions to derogate from WTO rules give rise to compensatory rights of other parties within the system.

Indeed, such an approach is plainly anticipated by the WTO agreements and has been acknowledged by U.S. policymakers. Properly understood, WTO rules do not infringe on the ability of individual nations to make their own sovereign decisions about economic policies –subject to the rights and obligations that flow from the WTO agreements themselves and any derogation of those agreements.   In this regard, U.S. officials have consistently stated that WTO commitments do not interfere with our national sovereignty, and that WTO rulings cannot alter U.S. law. These points were made repeatedly by Members of Congress during the debate over whether the United States should join the WTO. Furthermore, USTR has plainly stated that WTO legal panels “have no authority to change U.S. law or to require the United States or any state or local government to change its laws or decisions.” USTR has specifically explained that other countries cannot force the United States to comply with WTO law; instead, their only available response is to retaliate by withdrawing trade benefits . . .

In the context of U.S. ­China trade – whereby the United States is consistently running trade deficits viewed by virtually all rational observers as catastrophic and unsustainable – it is certainly advisable to consider all options available. To the extent that the United States were to consider more dramatic action to address the problem – such as tariffs or quantitative limitations that would arguably derogate from WTO commitments – the prospect of reciprocal denial of trade benefits by China must of course be assessed. At some point, however – where goods imports from China exceed $300 billion while U.S. exports to China are below $70 billion – one must ask whether potential retaliation from China really would or could even remotely offset the benefits to the United States of more aggressive trade measures. . . .

Of course, none of the policies I have suggested can be effective unless U.S. policymakers have the will to implement them in a strong and determined manner. For years, our economic position vis ­a ­vis China has deteriorated because U.S. policymakers have refused to take the inevitable risks associated with challenging Chinese mercantilism. As a result, we are now burdened with a trade imbalance that everyone agrees is unsustainable. Wringing our hands and hoping for the best is not the answer. We need strong leaders who are prepared to make tough decisions, and who will not be satisfied until this crisis has been resolved.

“One must ask whether potential retaliation from China really would or could even remotely offset the benefits to the United States of more aggressive trade measures.”

On the other hand, although Lighthizer’s statements show that he will be very tough on China, as certain trade experts have stated, in light of the very tough trade policy of the next President Donald Trump, Lighthizer’s appointment may be the best that free traders could hope for from this new Administration.  Lighthizer is a very smart, experienced political operator with excellent contacts in Congress, especially on the Republican side of the aisle, and a tough, outstanding negotiator.  But these experts also believe that Lighthizer is not a blind ideologue, but a pragmatic, rational deal maker.  After driving a very hard bargain and reaching a deal, he could end up even keeping NAFTA and possibly even the TPP.  Relations with China may actually improve, but only after a better deal is reached.

PETER NAVARRO TO HEAD NATIONAL TRADE COUNCIL

In another sign that the Trump Administration will take a much tougher line on China, on December 21, 2016, Trump announced that he has picked Peter Navarro, a China critic, to be the head of a new National Trade Council.   A Harvard trained economist, who is a professor at the University of California, Irvine, Navarro has taken a very strong position on China.  He is the author of a book, “Death by China”, which became a 2012 documentary film in which a Chinese knife stabs a map of the United States causing blood to throw.  See http://deathbychina.com/.  Navarro, in effect, argues that China is waging an economic war by subsidizing exports to the United States and blocking imports into China creating an enormous trade deficit.

Trump has stated that he will persuade China to change its policies by applying pressure through trade laws, designating China a currency manipulator, and, if necessary imposing high tariffs on Chinese imports.  As indicated below, however, those tariffs may actually be border adjustment taxes.

In a statement, Mr. Trump described Mr. Navarro as “a visionary economist” and said he would “develop trade policies that shrink our trade deficit, expand our growth and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores.”

On December 23, 2016, in response the China Daily stated:

That individuals such as Navarro who have a bias against China are being picked to work in leading positions in the next administration, is no laughing matter. The new administration should bear in mind that with economic and trade ties between the world’s two largest economies now the closest they have ever been, any move to damage the win-win relationship will only result in a loss for both sides.

Still, Chinese companies in the US should be on high alert to a more difficult business climate.

US TRADE POLICY MAY CHANGE AND THREATS DO NOT HELP THE US CHINA TRADE RELATIONSHIP

There is an old saying in Chinese “Bei Mi Yang Feng You Dou Mi Yang Chao Ren” (杯米养朋友,斗米养仇人) one cup of rice makes a friend, thousands of cups of rice make an enemy.  Another old saying in English, give a person $5 make a friend, give a person $100 make an enemy.

Since World War II the United States has been a relatively open market and many foreign countries, including China, have benefitted.  As described more below, with border adjustment taxes and the current US economic situation, that situation may well change and could change dramatically.  Many countries will be very upset when the US starts to close down, in effect, favoring domestic products over imports.  When markets are taken away and countries lose their bag of rice, they will not be happy.

Mexico’s peso is in free fall and has fallen to the lowest level against the US in decades.  Mexico is in crisis because under pressure from Trump US companies are canceling plans to set up production facilities in Mexico and moving production facilities back to the US.  Mexico is not happy.

China is upset with the Lighthizer appointment and is talking about retaliation.  On January 4th, in response to the Lighthizer appointment, China’s state-run Media, the Global Times, warned Trump of ‘Big Sticks’ if he seeks a Trade War:

“There are flowers around the gate of China’s Ministry of Commerce, but there are also big sticks hidden inside the door — they both await Americans.”

When a current US China trade deficit of well over $300 billion, however, that threat rings hollow.

On January 9, 2017, State-run Chinese tabloid Global Times warned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that China would “take revenge” if he reneged on the one- China policy, only hours after Taiwan’s president made a controversial stopover in Houston.

When the Chinese State-Controlled media, such as the Global Times, castigates Trump as an “ignorant child” and threatens the Trump Administration with Chinese retaliation, it is waving a red flag in front of a bull.  The new Trump Administration will not be intimidated.  It will not be bullied.  Threats will not work with this Administration.

So it is a much better idea to let cooler heads prevail and negotiate.  As stated above, the Trump Administration wants a deal and the Chinese government and other governments are extremely good negotiators so negotiate.

Let’s keep any Trade War at the cold war stage and not let it break out into a hot Trade War where every country, including the United States and China, are burned.

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES MAY BE THE NEW TRADE PROTECTIONIST BARRIER TO IMPORTS

As stated in my last blog post, Trump and Republicans in Congress may be creating an alternative to tariffs to spur US manufacturing and that is taxes.  Tariffs have become so passé.  There is now an attempt in Congress to give American-made products a big tax advantage over their foreign competitors through border adjustment taxes, and, in effect, counter the value added taxes used in other countries to deter imports.

The key issue is a plan to fundamentally remake the tax system by taxing US companies based on where they sell their goods, not where the business happens to be located. As part of that, Republican tax legislators want to include what experts call “border adjustments” — new taxes on imports as well as tax rebates on exports.

Another fancy term for this new tax is “destination-based cash flow tax with border adjustment” or DBCFT.  This plan would replace the current corporate tax code with something known among experts as a “border-adjustable, destination-based” tax system.  Under their proposal, imports would be charged the same 20 percent tax that domestic companies would face. Exports would be excused from taxes.  It would amount to a fundamental change, with the government taxing companies based on where they sell their wares, rather than where the business is located.

The way this tax would work is if a U.S. company sold a product for $100 and it spent $70 on its workers’ pay, under the Republican plan the remaining $30 would be subject to the 20% tax. That would produce a $6 tax bill. An imported version of the same product would be forced to pay the 20% tax on the entire $100 sale, producing a $20 tax bill.

The best case for a border adjustment tax is an article by Stephen Moore, an expert on economic issues at the Heritage Foundation, in the International Business Daily in which he argues that a Border Adjustment Tax, in effect, is equivalent to the Value Added Tax that countries use to kill imports.  See http://www.investors.com/politics/columnists/stephen-moore-we-need-tax-reform-not-tariffs/.

As Moore states:

If America’s competitors were intentionally trying to design a tax system to destroy the American economy, they probably couldn’t come up with a dumber tax system than the way the United States currently taxes our own businesses.

To fully appreciate the stupidity of the American corporate tax, consider this simple example:

If you are an American company making cars in Michigan, you have to pay a 35% profits tax on the car made here and then if the car is sold across the border to Mexico, the Mexicans slap a 16% value added tax on the car, so it is taxed on both sides of the border. Almost all countries tax goods produced in the United States this way.

Now let us say that the auto factory is moved from Michigan to Mexico City. Now the car produced in the factory in Mexico is not taxed by the Mexicans if the auto is sold in the United States.

Even more amazing:  the U.S. imposes no tax on the imported car. To summarize, the car is taxed twice if it is built in America and then sold abroad and never taxed if it is built abroad and sold here in the U.S. And we wonder why companies are moving out in droves for China, India, Ireland, Mexico and the like.

Donald Trump is right. What we have in America is not free trade. It is stupid trade with the deck sacked against American producers and workers. Our federal tax is effectively a 35% tariff imposed on our own goods and services.

It doesn’t help matters that our 35% rate is the highest in the industrial world. Yet the corporate tax- despite being onerous and complex — and despite depressing employment, investment and wages here at home — raises very little revenue for the government. . . .

To create a level playing field, the U.S. has to reconstitute our tax system.  This can be accomplished by lowering the tax rate and then turning the tax on its head so we are taxing our imports, but not our exports. In other words, we should tax activities based on where they are consumed, not where they are produced.

This is called a border adjustable tax system, and here are the reasons we need to do it:

  • A border adjustable tax will end all talk of tariffs and trade wars.

tariffs violate our trade agreements and often lead to retaliatory measures by other countries. The free traders will rightly object loudly to these trade barriers.

A better solution is to impose the Trump 15% corporate income tax on goods when they are brought into the U.S. and exempt from tax goods produced in the U.S. but sold outside the U.S.

In other words, our corporate tax would be based on where goods are consumed, not on where they are produced.  This tax does not violate trade laws and only mirrors the valued added tax systems foreigners use to gain advantage over us. . . .

In exchange for a border adjustable tax, the U.S. should eliminate all existing tariffs and duties which can now range from 2% on shoes to 25% on toys. . .

Retailers like Walmart will complain . . .

We have to make things in America to make America great again. Tax reform is the key to making that happen.

In effect, taxes, whether border adjustment or value added, have become the new tariffs.  But if one is to look at it rationally, tariffs were always taxes.  In fact, after the American Revolution, the first tax the US Government used to run the government was tariffs on imported goods.

The fact that border adjustment taxes will hurt retailers is evidenced by Trump’s criticism of large internet retailer Amazon when he stated that Amazon will have “such problems” during his Presidency because of this new tax system.  Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon also owns the Washington Post, and that newspaper has not been Trump’s friend.

The argument against the DBCFT is made by Brian Garst in the attached article, CFP_PolicyBrief_Border_Adjustment, entitled the “Political and Economic Risks of a Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax,” published in January 2017.  In the Article, Brian Garst argues:

The DBCFT would be a new type of corporate income tax that disallows any deductions for imports while also exempting export-related revenue from taxation.  This mercantilist system is based on the same “destination” principle as European value-added taxes, which means it is explicitly designed to preclude tax competition. . . . This mercantilist approach typically is associated with credit-invoice value-added taxes (VATs) that exist in European nations.

Garst goes on to state that in addition to retailers another target industry is energy because the United States is a net importer of oil and petroleum products.  Trump might argue, however, that when he is done cutting regulations the United States will be a net exporter of oil and petroleum products.  But Garst also points out that when other countries adopt the DBCFT, there will be more taxes on US exports.

More importantly, Garst points out what happens when the Democrats come back into power:

“In this case, left-leaning politicians would see the DBCFT not as something to be undone, but as a jumping off point for new and higher taxes.  A highly probable outcome is that the United States’ corporate tax environment becomes more like Europe, consisting of both consumption and income taxes.”

Garst goes on to add that the eventual result of higher taxes, no matter what they are called, is bigger government and slower economic growth.

On December 19, 2016, however, Chairman Brady of House Ways and Means stated that U.S. companies that rely on imports will “have to adjust” to a House Republican plan and that such a plan is a priority of the Trump Administration.  As Brady stated on a December 18th CSPAN program:

“We cannot leave in place any tax policies that encourage our companies to move their operations overseas just to sell back to the United States.  We want to listen to and find solutions with those who rely a lot on imported goods coming into America.”

The plan would apply a 20 percent corporate tax to revenues earned from goods and services consumed within the United States, while exempting economic activity outside the U.S, amounting to a 15 percent cut in the nominal corporate tax rate and eliminating corporate taxes on U.S. exports.

The opposition to this new tax system is not only from retailers but from US producers, which either assemble products in the US from imported parts or use cheaper raw materials to produce competitive value added products.  Many manufacturing groups that rely on global supply chains, such as Boeing and other companies, should be very concerned about this new policy.

But the border adjustment tax proposal has allowed Trump to call out automobile companies, such as GM, which produce substantial cars in Mexico and praise Ford Motor Co. for its decision to scrap plans for a $1.6 billion factory in Mexico.  The threat of a border adjustment tax is enough during this Presidential transition period to cause US companies to bring production back to the US.

Many businesses that rely on imported raw materials or component parts, will not be able to deduct the cost of imported goods under the GOP plan, the full value of these goods is taxed instead of just the value added in the U.S.  This means that even if Congress lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to the Republicans’ proposed 20% or 15%, companies could still see an effective increase in their tax rates.

Jennifer Safavian, the executive vice president of government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, recently made this point stating:

“With this tax on imports, we actually will see our effective tax rate increase.  It will increase, in some cases, double or three times the amount we’re paying right now. Some companies are concerned that they will actually have to go out of business because they’ll owe more in taxes than they’ll actually bring in in income.”

COULD MANUFACTURING RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES?

As stated above, during just this Presidential transition period, the threat of border adjustment taxes and a dramatic change in trade policy, along with cuts to corporate taxes to as low as 15 to 25% and regulations rollback, has caused many companies, such as Ford, Softbank, Fiat, Sprint and Carrier, to announce their reduction or abandonment of offshore production and their movement back to the United States.  Jack Ma at Alibaba also met with Trump to state that he believes 1 million more jobs can be added in the US from small and medium size business.

In December 2016, small business optimism in the United States has soared to levels not seen in over ten years.  The National Federation of Independent Business Index jumped 7.4 points in December the highest since 2004.  Trump and Congress are using carrots and sticks to move US production and jobs back to the United States.

With almost 40% of the US population on some form of welfare, the situation has to change.  Even here in Seattle, one dramatic example of the state of economy during the Obama Administration has been the dramatic rise in homeless camps.  The election of Trump means change.  And change it will be.

Recently, a Chinese entrepreneur asked me how could manufacturing move from China back to the United States because China has so many advantages.  In October 2016, Fuyao Glass announced a $1 billion investment into Moraine Ohio and Plymouth Michigan to start producing windshields in the United States.  When Chinese media and the government asked the owner Cho Tak Wong why he was moving production to the United States.  There were two answers: higher wages in China and higher tax rates.

Wages in China have steadily moved upward and the lower wage countries now are Vietnam, Bangladesh and other countries.  Much of China’s textile manufacturing capability has moved to Bangladesh in the search of lower wages.

Another major problem in China is taxes.  Although the US has the highest corporate tax rate of 35% in the developed countries, higher than China, China has corporate tax rates ranging from 25 to 33%.  More importantly, China has a personal income tax rate of 45% with US tax rates for the highest incomes ranging from 35 to 39.6%.

When I started working in China in the 1990s and all the way until about 5 to 10 years ago, although the tax rates were high, the Chinese government was very liberal on deductions.  The more expenses the company and the person had, the lower the actual tax rate.  Thus Chinese employees were always looking for a “fapiao”, a receipt so that they could claim expenses.

But several years ago, the Chinese government cracked down and started to enforce the actual tax rates.  High tax rates give companies and individuals a real incentive to leave the place where they are located.  Residents vote with their feet.  We can see that in the United States, where high tax rates in the states of New York and California have caused companies and people to move to lower tax states like Texas and Washington State, which has no state personal income tax.  An old economic saying, when you tax more of anything, you get less of it.

China and the United States are competing with other countries to attract foreign investment and even domestic investment in their own countries.  Higher tax rates and excessive regulations cause companies to move and seek better places to produce products.

Another reason to move to another country is trade restrictions.  In the early 2000s, Windshields from China were hit with a US antidumping case.  I represented two companies in the case, Xinhe and Benxun; Fuyao was represented by another law firm.  Antidumping rates in this case went down to single digits and eventually the case went away.  But this does not mean a new case could not be brought.

Fuyao coming to the US to escape potential US trade cases is nothing new.  Many, many Japanese companies, including automobile companies, Toyota and Honda, auto part companies, such as Nippon Denso, television producers, such as Sanyo, portable electric typewriter companies, such as Brother, and photography companies, such as Fuji, set up production operations in the United States to get around US antidumping orders and other trade restrictions.  In fact, Chinese solar companies, such as Wanxiang Energy, have started producing solar panels in the United States to get around move US antidumping and countervailing duty orders against Chinese solar cells and solar panels.

So manufacturing can move back to the United States if the business environment is better than other countries.  When companies move back to the US and economic growth increases significantly, all boats rise and that means more good paying jobs and the average American will do better.

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

TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES IS NOT TAA FOR WORKERS

In my blog post last month, an open letter to the new Commerce Department secretary was included about the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program.  It is important, however, to distinguish TAA for Companies from TAA for Workers.  The two programs are very different.

TAA for Workers is government money given to displaced workers to retrain workers.  On January 12, 2017, Jamie Dimon of Chase spoke out on Good Morning American about TAA for Workers.  In the past when Dimon has spoken out for TAA for Workers, financial publications, such as Forbes, have spoken out against the program because they view the $711 million program as an entitlement, a handout to workers, that does not save jobs.

The TAA for Firms/Companies program, however, is very different from the TAA for Workers program because the objective of TAA for Companies is to save the company and by saving the company save the jobs that go with that company.  I believe that publications, like Forbes, might change their tune if they knew that President Reagan probably personally approved the TAA for Firms/Companies program.  Why do I say this? Jim Munn.

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

In the early 1980s, President Reagan himself put in requirements to set up standards so that Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers would not simply be an open ended entitlement.   President Reagan, however, was puzzled by the TAA for Companies and asked an old friend, Jim Munn, here in Seattle to look into the program.

As stated in the attached 2002 obituary, JIM MUNN, Jim Munn was a famous criminal lawyer in Seattle and an early supporter and personal friend of Ronald Reagan.  I am now on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”).  When I started my involvement in NWTAAC, I was told that the Center was in place because President Reagan himself asked Jim Munn to look into the program.

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

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

Right now the total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $12.5 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget.  Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.

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

But as also stated in my last blog post, in this environment with so many injured companies, funding for TAA for Firms/Companies has to be increased so it can do its job.

An article from David Holbert, Executive Director Northwest TAAC, below states how the program works in more detail.

IMPORTS HAVE LANDED – SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE

David Holbert, Executive Direct Northwest TAAC

The issue of trade competition and lost jobs is well discussed in the media.  I work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are negatively affected by import competition, what is often called “trade impact” in policy lingo. It’s a big issue. According to the U.S Trade Representative, the United States’ 30 million SMEs account for nearly two-thirds of net new private sector jobs in recent decades. This is one in a series of posts about trade impact.

In a previous post I talked about recognizing trade impact. Once a company figures out that imports are the cause of sales declines, they must respond. That response depends on the specifics of the trade threat.

Companies work within a set of cost and market access factors. Where those factors are shared, a new competitor or an established one upping their game, is usually a manageable theat. Some alteration in course might be recommended, but it is all in the range of expectations in a competitive landscape. Imports, however, generally perceive a significant advantage before they enter a market – whether that’s in design, technology, scale, or cost. Extreme cost differentials tend to be the province of imports and, more specifically, imports from low-labor cost, low-regulation sources. New arriving imports tend to be very strong competitors if not disrupters.

Before the imports arrived, customers had seen value in the available options. Now those customers can see a better cost-benefit exchange with the imported product.  Unattended, the new entrant (the import) will gain market share – the only questions are how much and how fast.

Imports may have any of several weaknesses:

  • Importers are probably bearing a loss producing level of initial expense to establish a brand, set up sales capability, and establish distribution and service networks. The domestic company already is established, or can become so more easily.
  • Importers often have to order and ship in large quantities. It takes time for delivery to occur. What is an advantage in a standard product/price sensitive segment is a disadvantage in a customized / price elastic segment. Customization is almost always an advantageous capability for the domestic company
  • Importer service capability and quality can be weak. Service can be a challenge for those in different time zones, and speaking different languages. In low-cost economies, businesses often display a culture that values cost and quantity over all else. Quality and service are likely comparative strengths of the domestic company.

If the price differential is minor, improvements in operations without changing the business model may close the gap. The challenge is not less urgent, just less extensive. Every business I’ve worked with has a list of pending improvements. Now would be the time to implement some of these. Topping the list would the ones that lead to revenue faster. At this stage, the domestic company is probably losing sales. To the extent that you need a “plan”, that list is probably it. Let’s call it the minimum required response.

If the price differential is large, the business will face the uncharted territory of strategic change. That change will likely affect product, systems, processes, distribution, promotion, and pricing.  In other words, everything.

Just as every business owner has a list of pending improvements, they also have more than one idea about a serious change in course. That is very likely an incomplete list. How could it be otherwise? Whatever the right change may be, the confidence to take that leap will almost certainly be absent. That is where TAA comes in.  Most people don’t realize how thin of a line of viability businesses walk. It took a lot to get to the point where things work. A lot of what seemed like good ideas were proven wrong along the way. Changing that formula under conditions of less than certainty and necessity is almost always a bad idea. With trade impact, a business may have a condition of necessity. Now that business has to work on certainty.

It is not exactly clear how to get to that state of envisioning a strategic change with confidence and assurance. For a business owner, this is a life’s work. For the record, there are consultants that are capable in this area. Not that hiring in help is necessarily a solution.  What is clear is that a full range of options and information supporting them become precious commodities.

Here are how some companies with TAA help dealt with trade impact:

A commercial products company makes a specialized tool and faced a sudden entry of imports at close to half the price. The company’s plan was to radically improve operations in the same market position. The owners had been complacent in a mature market. The plan included such actions as developing an automated version of the tool, emphasizing service and parts replacement capability, and revising sales and promotion activity. This works in commercial markets because buyers are informed and easily value factors like quality, service, and durability.

A contract manufacturer that machines metal parts specializing in titanium had lost their single industry customer base to imports. The owner recognized that their capabilities would be valued in the aerospace industry. Achieving AS9100 (aerospace industry quality certification) was an essential step. Entering the industry and becoming known among buyers was the larger challenge. This works because at the time aerospace was growing in the region.

  • A nut grower was priced out of its commodity market position by imports. The owners had thought of packaging for consumers and private labeling. With TAA help, they gained the confidence to proceed. It was exactly the right move –they removed a layer of distribution and gained back their profit margin. The company grew at tech industry rates.
  • A safety products producer was being displaced in large retailers by imports priced about 50% lower. With outside TAA consultants, they developed a radical plan to concentrate on commercial uses of their products that emphasized perpetual restocking rather than consumer products as final articles. This entailed converting from producing hundreds of low-cost, finished products a week to producing dozens of high-cost units and thousands of micro-orders of replacement articles. The company reversed sales declines in a surprisingly short time.

Threats from imports tend to be severe. They may have an insurmountable cost advantage. Under these conditions, the domestic company cannot win by just trying harder – something has to change. The first thing that has to change is the plan for the business. Deferred improvements might become urgent necessities. Incompletely conceived ideas about a change in the business model might have to be seriously considered. In future posts, I’ll talk about challenges of implementation.

Our role at the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center is to help small and medium-sized companies that are negatively affected by trade. Sometimes called “made in America grants” this federal program offers a matching fund for outside expertise of up to $75,000 for qualifying companies.  NWTAAC serves companies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. You can learn more about us at NWTAAC.org.

NEW US WTO CASE AGAINST ALUMINUM FROM CHINA

On January 12, 2017, in the attached notice, Obama Administration Files WTO Complaint on China’s Subsidies to Aluminum Produ, USTR announced that it was bringing a WTO case against China for its subsidies to aluminum producers.  As the notice states in part:

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that the United States has launched a new trade enforcement complaint agains the People’s Republic of China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China’s subsidies to certain producers of primary aluminum.  This action follows numerous bilateral eforts by the Obama Adminisration to persuade China to take strong seps to address the excess capacity situation in its aluminum sector.  The complaint fled today begins a process to address U.S. concerns that China’s subsidies appear to have caused “serious prejudice” under WTO rules to U.S. interests by artifcially expanding Chinese capacity, production and market share and causing a significant lowering in the global price for primary aluminum. Today’s announcement marks the 16th trade enforcement challenge the Obama Adminisration has launched agains China at the WTO.

“This lates challenge once again demonsrates the Obama Adminisration’s unwavering commitment to ensuring a fair and level playing field for American workers and businesses,” said United States Trade Representative Michael Froman. “Artifcially cheap loans from banks and low-priced inputs for Chinese aluminum are contributing to excess capacity and undercutting American workers and businesses. Today’s action follows significant engagement by this Adminisration on excess capacity and demonstrates our commitment to hold China to its trade obligations. Our record of tough enforcement with China speaks for itself: When China cheats, we’ve been right there, securing recourse for our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses. This is the 16th time we have taken action agains China at the WTO, and we’ve won every challenge that has been decided.”

CANADA AND JAPAN JUMP INTO CHINA’S WTO CASE AGANST THE US AND EC FOR FAILURE TO GIVE CHINA MARKET ECONOMY STATUS IN AD AND CVD CASES

As indicated in the past blog post, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, from the Chinese point of view December 11, 2016 is the date when countries can no longer treat China as a nonmarket economy under their antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) law.  Neither the United States nor the EC declared China a market economy country on December 11th so predictably China filed a WTO complaint against the US and EC over their price comparison methodologies used in their AD and CVD laws.

On January 5, 2017, Canada and Japan decided to jump into the WTO case as third-party observers, citing the case’s potential to dramatically alter global antidumping laws.  As Canada stated in its announcement:

“In many cases, Canadian exports to the United States compete directly with exports from China. As a result, Canada has a substantial trade interest in these proceedings which concern the ability of U.S. investigating authorities to properly determine normal values for allegedly dumped Chinese exports.”

As the Japanese Government stated:

“The legal basis of China’s complaint identified in its requests, if accepted, appears to affect anti-dumping investigation practice of many WTO Members … and in turn have substantial impact on international trade involving products originating in China.  Japan is one of the major importers of goods … from China and one of the users of anti-dumping measures.”

The dispute is at the consultation stage, but will soon move on to a WTO panel.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

With the election of Donald Trump, as stated in my last newsletter, the Universal Trade War will continue.  In addition to the US bringing AD and CVD cases, countries around the World, such as EC, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Thailand, South Africa, and Vietnam, all are filing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against each other and the United States.  These countries have adopted the US law which finds dumping in 90% of the cases.  The US and the EC have created a Frankenstein in the antidumping law and the whole World has adopted it.

Compromise is the best way to settle trade disputes, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to settle US antidumping and other trade cases.  What is “fair” trade for the United States is “fair” trade for every other country.  Many countries want to make their industries Great again.

Because of this situation, this part of the newsletter will concentrate on trade cases in other countries and how other countries see the trade problem with the United States.

CHINA

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law.  Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2016.47 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2016.48 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.01 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.02.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

BASKETBALL BACKBOARD COMPONENTS

On December 30, 2016, in the attached ITC notice, BASKETBALL 337, Lifetime Products, Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against Russell Brands, LLC d/b/a Spalding, Bowling Green, Kentucky; and Reliable Sports Equipment (Wujiang) Co. Ltd.,   China.

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, border adjustment taxes, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP, APPOINTMENTS, TRADE POLICY, TAA FOR COMPANIES, CHINA NME AT WTO, SOLAR CELLS, HARDWOOD PLYWOOD, CYBERHACKING, TRADE CASES IN CHINA, CANADA AND MEXICO

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 DECEMBER 19, 2016

Dear Friends,

This newsletter contains several articles about trade and Trump after his victory on November 8th.  As mentioned in my last blog post, the Trump victory will have a significant impact on trade policy.  The TPP is dead.

But the next question is how will Trump help revive manufacturing in the United States and help the Rust Belt states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which put him in the White House?

Will there be a trade war with China and other countries?  Trump’s tough talk on the One China policy indicates a trade war, but his appointments to the US Ambassador to China and to the Commerce Department Secretary indicate the contrary.  Trump, however, may be trying to use uncertainty to create leverage and a deal with the Chinese government on trade and other issues.

Will Trump use taxes to give US manufacturing an advantage at the detriment of imports?

Trump will try and do everything possible to increase jobs in the United States.  Hopefully, that will mean more support to Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, which is the only effective US trade remedy that saves companies and the jobs that go with them without damaging US downstream production.

In addition, this blog post describes the recent WTO complaint China filed against the United States and the EC for failing to give it market economy status under the US and EC antidumping and countervailing duty laws.  The newsletter also gives the upcoming deadlines under the Solar Cells and Hardwood Plywood cases against China.

Under the Universal Trade War theme, under China is an article on ways in which the Chinese government can retaliate against US companies in the trade war and newsletters from a Chinese law firm.  In addition, under Canada attached is an article from Dan Kiselbach, a Canadian trade lawyer, about whether the Trump Administration can truly get out of NAFTA and also information about the recent Softwood Lumber Case against Canada.  Finally, from Mexico there is information about a recent Carbon Steel Pipe and Tube case filed against imports from Korea, India, Spain and Ukraine, along with a brief description of Mexican antidumping law.

Finally, there is an announcement from the Justice Department about the accomplishments in the recent US/China meetings on Computer Hacking and also recent 337 intellectual property cases against China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE AND TRADE POLICY

TRUMP AND TRADE – A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP OR A SAVVY NEGOTIGATOR?

On December 2, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump took a phone call from President Ing Wen Tsai of Taiwan.  Trump’s decision to take the phone call from the Taiwan President created a fire storm as commentators questioned whether the United States would stick to the “one China” policy that implies that Taiwan is a part of China and that the long term relationship between China and the US would change.

In response, many commentators wrote articles suggesting that Trump was a “Bull in a China shop”, a clumsy inexperienced person taking actions without thinking about consequences.  Chinese media called Trump “an ignorant child.”

It has since come out that the specific phone call with President Tsai had been discussed for several months and set up by former Republican Congressional leader Bob Dole.  In fact, in addition to taking the call from President Tsai, President-elect, Trump met with Henry Kissinger, who is serving as a liaison for the Chinese government.

Instead of a Bull in China Shop, what President-Elect Donald Trump may have been trying to do with China is create a perception of strength and set up a sense of uncertainty.  What is Trump going to do?

President Ronald Reagan was a master at playing a similar game.  Projecting strength and also a feeling of uncertainty.  What is Reagan going to do?  Reagan’s projection of strength and uncertainty created agreements with Russia that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A projection of strength and a sense of uncertainty gives Trump something Reagan had—leverage, which makes it easier to negotiate better deals.

On December 11. 2016, Trump stated on Fox News:

“I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

Companies and countries should not make the mistake that many in the mainstream US media have made.  Do not underestimate Donald Trump.  He is not an ignorant child and many of his advisors are very knowledgeable about China.  Trump wants a deal with China and he will not give something for nothing.

TRUMP’S APPOINTMENTS DO NOT INDICATE A TRADE WAR WITH CHINA

BRANSTAD TO BE AMBASSADOR TO CHINA

Through his appointments, Trump is indicating that he realizes how important the relationship is with China and he intends to appoint experts that understand China.  On December 7th at a “Thank You” rally in Iowa, President-elect Trump announced that six term Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will be his pick for Ambassador to China.  Governor Branstad has personally known Chinese President Xi Jinping since 1985 when Branstad was governor of Iowa and Xi was an agricultural official in northern China. For two weeks, Xi stayed with a family in the town of Muscatine, Iowa, an experience he likes to recall when visiting the State.  Subsequently he met with Gov. Branstad in 2012 as vice chairman of the Chinese government.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang welcomed Branstad as an “old friend of the Chinese people” playing “a bigger role in China–U.S. relations”.

Branstad is also a friend of Trump, working actively on Trump’s campaign.  During the general election, his son, Eric Branstad, managed Trump’s campaign in the state. Trump then won in Iowa, 51% of the vote to 42% for Clinton.

This appointment may be a signal that President-elect Trump does not want a trade war with China because Iowa has $2.3 billion in exports to China mostly agricultural exports, including corn and soybeans.  Trump’s selection of Branstad for the most important diplomatic position to China suggests that the president-elect wants to keep negotiating channels open with Beijing, rather than adopt a knee jerk confrontational attitude

On December 8, 2016, at a speech in Iowa, which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rPh9YG3AmY, Trump stated:

“One of the most important relationships we must improve and we have to improve is our relationship with China.  The nation of China is responsible for almost of half of America’s trade deficit.

China is not a market economy they got a lot of help and that is why we designate them as being them as a nonmarket economy.  Big thing.”

Trump went on to state, that the Chinese government has not “played by the rules, and they know it’s time that they’re going to start.” Trump went on to cite that China was responsible for “massive theft of intellectual property,” “putting unfair taxes on our companies,” “massive devaluation of their currency” and “product dumping”.

Trump further stated that the Ambassador he was going to appoint to China has “lots of friends there”.  According to Trump, Branstad requested that Trump not speak ill of China because in Iowa “we do well with China”.

Trump also stated that he is looking to work on the relationship between China and the US and that Governor Branstad “knows China and likes China” and “knows how to deliver results.”  Trump went on to state that Governor Branstad is highly respected by Chinese officials and a great friend of mine.

Donald Trump finished by stating “We’re going to have mutual respect, and China is going to benefit and we’re going to benefit. And Terry is going to lead the way.”

As the phone call with President Tsai of Taiwan indicates and his statement to Fox News, Trump is no push over.  There is a new strong President in town so do not try and bully him.  This President has options.

On the other hand, during the Primary and even after the election, well-respected conservative newspapers and commentators have stated that President Trump has to be careful not to create a trade war, especially with China.  As recently as November 30, 2016, in Investors Business Daily, the one newspaper that projected a Trump victory prior to the election, two commentators, Congressman David Mcintosh and Scott Linicome in an article entitled “Trump Should Tread Softly On His New Trade Agenda” stated:

“exploiting ambiguities in the current web of U.S. trade laws to enact the President’s trade priorities by executive fiat could engender opposition from Congress, the U.S. business community and U.S. trading partners, thus leading to court challenges similar to those fled by the Republican Congress against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The crucial difference, however, is that the months of uncertainty surrounding the trade challenges would imperil trillions of dollars’ worth of goods and services, especially if the courts refused to enjoin the executive branch from acting while any such litigation is pending.”

WILBUR ROSS—NEXT COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SECRETARY

In addition, as explained in more detail below, Trump has decided to appoint billionaire private equity investor Wilbur Ross, a Warren Buffet type, to be the next Commerce Department Secretary.  Trump’s decision to appoint Ross, a brilliant investor, industry expert and deal maker, indicates a decision to put trade/business professionals at the highest level in his Administration, who are very experienced with regard to business, international competition and China.

Ross was one of the important creators of Trump’s economic plan, which the campaign claimed will increase federal revenues by $1.7 trillion.  With regards to Tariffs, Ross has specifically stated:

“Tariffs will be used not as an end game but rather as a negotiating tool to encourage our trading partners to cease cheating.  If, however, the cheating does not stop, Trump will impose appropriate defensive tariffs to level the playing field.”

In this video interview with the Epoch Times, Wilbur Ross himself shows a great knowledge of the US relationship with China, http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1751796-billionaire-investor-wilbur-ross-china-still-lags-us-in-innovation/.  In the video, Ross acknowledges that although China has made progress, the US is the most innovative country in the World.  Ross also states that in 2003 when he spoke out against China he was acquiring the majority interest in Bethlehem Steel and he was against Chinese companies’ product dumping:

“namely selling products for less in a foreign market than their true price in your domestic market.

That’s the kind of activity that we think should be protected against. We are generally free market people but what was happening back in the early 2000s with steel and what is starting to happen again, is that product was actually being sold in this country for less than the total cost of manufacturing it.

That’s not legitimate competition. If someone can make things more inexpensively in their country and sell it here that’s fine with me. But it shouldn’t be that they have one price in their country and a lower price outside.”

In the video Ross further states that the reason China was dumping is:

“they had a period of overcapacity and because China is so much about jobs as opposed to profits, it was very important for the government to maintain jobs. So to maintain jobs they had to maintain production, even though there was not enough demand for it. The way they tried to solve the problem was by dumping it outside.”

Ross is correct that with its large overcapacity, most Chinese steel companies were dumping and probably at very high rates.  But as indicated below, since the Commerce Department continues to treat China as a nonmarket economy and refuses to look at actual costs and prices in China, no one knows for certain which Chinese companies are truly dumping and what the real dumping rate of the Chinese companies is.

With regard to Chinese innovation, Ross indicates that he is very knowledgeable about China stating:

“China is coming along in terms of innovation. They now have the world’s biggest and fastest computer. That would have been unimaginable a decade ago. They’ve launched spaceships into outer space. They have not yet gotten to be as innovative as the United States is, nobody has been as innovative. Year after year the United States gets more patents than any other country by a wide margin. Interestingly, it’s Japan that comes in second.”

As to why China lags the US in innovation, Ross states:

“The United States is basically a free market economy and their entrepreneurship has been highly prized here for centuries and centuries so there’s a real tradition of risk-taking. Innovation involves a lot of risk-taking.

A state-owned enterprise is much less likely to be a big risk-taker then private capital. Since China had been so dominated by the state-owned enterprises it’s hard in a big bureaucratic system to be innovative. Look at the U.S. government itself, what interesting innovations have they come up with?”

Being a Warren Buffet type and very involved in the US Stock market, Wilbur Ross also has very educated views about the problems with the China Stock Market:

We think that China has two separate problems right now. One is the market itself, the equity market, and that got completely out of control. . . .

I think what then happened, the government seemed to have panicked and made lots and lots of very panicky moves. They first raised the margin requirement then they lowered it. They threw hundreds of billions of dollars into the market. Now they’re prosecuting people who spread negative stories about the market.

I think the difficulty with all that is, when a government shows signs of panic, particularly a government that historically has been able to control what happens pretty well, when that government shows panic it makes people more frightened, not less frightened.

Like many China experts, Ross believes that China’s growth numbers are not accurate:

The Chinese economy clearly is not growing at anything like 7 percent. We have felt for a couple of years that those figures were very, very generous. If you look at physical indicators—electricity consumption, natural gas consumption, oil consumption, cement consumption, steel consumption, telecom consumption, retails sales—if you look at all those indicators, none of them were growing at a rate that was equal to 7 percent and neither were the exports.

With regard to economic reform in China, Ross states:

I think what they’re trying to do is several things all at once and that makes it very challenging.

They’re trying to become more of a consumer-driven economy, but the reality is that their largest driver is capital investment. It’s hard to make that transition because capital investment is still about 44 percent of the economy.

They’re trying to make the transition, but meanwhile they’re doing the very- much-needed anti-corruption drive and that in a strange way has hurt consumer spending.  . . .

I think they’ll get there, just that the transition is a hard one. Meanwhile there is super-imposed upon it, the economic issues in the rest of the world. Combined with China’s rising labor costs and the very strong currency, make it very difficult to be an exporter.

These responses along with the video indicate that Ross is not a knee-jerk protectionist and has a deep knowledge of China, which does not indicate a trade war any time soon.

COULD TAXES BE THE WAY TRUMP MAKES US INDUSTRY GREAT AGAIN

On the other hand, Trump and Republicans in Congress may be creating an alternative to tariffs to spur US manufacturing and that is taxes.  In the Congress, one proposal in the House Republicans’ tax-reform plan is to give American-made products a big tax advantage over their foreign competitors.  Although some commentators have pointed to a potential trade war, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady stated, “We are now in the process of designing all aspects of our ‘Build for Growth’ tax plan to withstand any WTO challenge. We’re confident we can win any case.”

The key issue is a plan to fundamentally remake the tax system by taxing US companies based on where they sell their goods, not where the business happens to be located. As part of that, Republican tax legislators want to include what experts call “border adjustments” — new taxes on imports as well as tax rebates on exports.  This plan would replace the current corporate tax code with something known among experts as a “border-adjustable, destination-based” tax system.  Under their proposal, imports would be charged the same 20 percent tax that domestic companies would face. Exports would be excused from taxes.  It would amount to a fundamental change, with the government taxing companies based on where they sell their wares, rather than where the business is located.

According to tax experts, this new tax plan would offset inversions and other types of international tax avoidance because companies would have less incentive to go to other countries looking for tax savings. The proposal would also finance a huge chunk of the Republicans’ overall tax plan — the Tax Policy Center estimates border adjustments would raise $1.2 trillion, making it the third-largest pay-for in the plan.

The proposal is already controversial because it threatens big tax increases to many large retailers, such as Walmart and Home Depot and other companies, which heavily rely on imports.

But critics say it would also violate free-trade agreements by favoring American-made goods over imports. That’s because, while they would all be subject to the same 20 percent tax, U.S. companies would be able to deduct the cost of workers’ pay when calculating their tax bills. Imports would not be given the same treatment and the difference could be dramatic.

If a U.S. company sold a product for $100 and it spent $70 on its workers’ pay, under the Republican plan the remaining $30 would be subject to the 20% tax. That would produce a $6 tax bill. An imported version of the same product would be forced to pay the 20% tax on the entire $100 sale, producing a $20 tax bill.

On December 7, 2016, Koch Industries came out against the Border Adjustment provision of the new tax overhaul with Philip Ellender, the head of government affairs at Koch Companies Public Sector LLC, stating that the so-called border adjustment proposal currently being considered by Republican lawmakers:

“would adversely impact American consumers by forcing them to pay higher prices on products produced in and goods imported to the U.S. that they use every single day.  While companies like Koch who manufacture and produce many products domestically would greatly benefit in the short-term, the long term consequences to the economy and the American consumer could be devastating.”

Another problem is the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) allows border adjustments for so-called indirect taxes on transactions, such as value-added taxes, but not on direct taxes, such as income taxes. The Republican plan is a hybrid, raising questions about how the WTO would categorize it.

Any change in US tax treatment could be challenged by other countries in the WTO as a violation of the WTO Agreement of most favored nation, which requires imports to be treated the same as domestically produced products.  If a WTO tribunal were to rule against the United States, the prevailing countries could be allowed to retaliate against US exports to account for the injury to their exports, which could be as high at $1.2 trillion.

But any challenge in the WTO will take years to litigate.  A good example of this is the Byrd Amendment.  The Byrd Amendment allowed US petitioner companies to get the dumping and countervailing duties collected by Customs.  The Byrd Amendment passed in 2000 and after WTO litigation resulting in possible retaliation by other countries against the United States, the Congress repealed the Byrd Amendment in December 2005 on 51 to 50 vote in the Senate with Vice President Cheney breaking the tie.  But for five years US petitioners collected the duties.

So instead of a direct protectionism using tariffs, any protectionism may be indirect, but it will have the same effect.  Give US companies a major incentive to produce their products in the US, rather than rely on imports.

But the real problem with the tax plan is international trade/globalization victimhood which will lead the companies not to make the changes they need to make to be competitive.  Just like the steel industry, US companies would continue to hunker down behind protectionist walls and never modernize their production to meet competition.  That is the problem.  As President Reagan himself observed, protectionism makes companies weaker not stronger and in the end does not save the companies and industries that are being protected.

On December 13th in a letter to Congress more than 50 retail and manufacturing associations urged Congress to abandon border tax adjustments saying the proposal to increase taxes on all imports could hurt domestic industry.  Although the retail groups argue that border tax adjustments could raise consumer prices, as the letter states the real problem is the impact of higher raw material costs on downstream US production:

“Companies that rely on global supply chains would face huge business challenges caused by increased taxes and increased cost of goods, which would in turn likely result in reductions in employment, reduced capital investments and higher prices for consumers.”

Congress does not care if prices for consumer products go up a few dollars at Walmart, but what happens when US downstream producers in Congressional districts are forced to close down because of higher raw material costs.  As one friend, who represented a major steel producer for years, told me, the total employment in the entire Steel industry is less than one high tech company and yet we want to protect the Steel industry at the expense of downstream high value added US production?

TRUMP APPOINTS WILBUR ROSS A PRAGMATIST TO BE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SECRETARY

As indicated above, President Elect Donald Trump has announced that he will appoint billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as the next Secretary of Commerce.  Ross is a pragmatist, not an ideologue, who understands and values the problems of the working class more than other capitalists.  As Ross states in the following video http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1750905-billionaire-investor-wilbur-ross-on-the-people-factor-in-investing/:

“That man who has stood behind a machine for 15 or 20 years, he knows better than the people who built it, how to get more productivity out of it. So you need   to create an environment where he feels someone will pay attention if he makes a suggestion, and if it turns out to be a good suggestion, that he’ll be rewarded for it.”

Ross, worth $2.9 billion according to Forbes, has made his name in distressed assets investments and rose to fame turning around Bethlehem Steel for a short time as well as Burlington Industries.  Ross also worked closely with labor unions, stating:

“There’s a big misconception in management–labor relations throughout the industrial world; too often management and labor view each other as adversaries. We truly view labor as our partner because they only have one company they’re working with and we only have one group of workers.

So we think it’s very important that we have a good, functional relationship. We don’t negotiate with unions having a big battalion of lawyers and accountants and human relations people. We tend to negotiate mano-a-mano with the union leadership. Once we’ve worked out the essence of the deal, we then turn it over.”

Ross probably knows the Rust Belt better than any politician, one of the reasons why President-elect Trump picked him.   In the early 2000s he combined Acme Steel, LTV Steel, and Bethlehem Steel saving all of them from bankruptcy for a short period of time and returning the employees to the job but under new work rules and with 401(k)s instead of pensions.

Meanwhile, in early 2000, China suddenly had an insatiable demand for steel, combined with the U.S. automakers’ zero-percent financing push.  American steel was suddenly red hot. The price per ton of rolled steel soared and Ross took the new entity, ISG, public in December 2003.  Ross then sold ISG combined entity to Indian steel giant Mittal in 2005 for $4.5 billion.  As Ross stated:

“It’s nice being the chairman of a huge company in a vital industry. But it’s nicer to make fourteen times your initial investment in just two years.”

Eventually, however, Bethlehem Steel fell into bankruptcy.

OPEN LETTER TO NEW COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SECRETARY WILBUR ROSS— ONLY TRADE REMEDY PROGRAMS THAT SAVE US COMPANIES—TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES AND MEP

The Honorable Wilbur Ross

New Commerce Department Secretary Trump Administration

Re: Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies and MEP– Only Trade Remedy Programs That Save US Companies

Dear Secretary Ross,

The Press reports that President-elect Donald Trump has nominated you to be the next Commerce Department secretary.  Your expertise in working with bankrupt US companies, such as Bethlehem Steel, gives the United States a unique chance to make its industry great again.

In the 1980s during the Reagan Administration, I worked at the Commerce Department and before that at the US International Trade Commission.  Since the 1980s, I have represented many US importers/foreign producers in international trade cases, including metal, chemical and steel products, and am now on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center in Seattle, Washington, which provides assistance to US companies injured by imports.

In my experience, ultimately these unfair trade cases do not work.  Although they provide a breathing space, they do not save the companies and the jobs that go with them.  Importers simply switch to a new country.  Both of us have experience with Bethlehem Steel, which had 40 years of trade protection from steel imports through various antidumping and other trade orders.  Where is Bethlehem Steel today? Green fields.

But trade cases also create enormous collateral damage in downstream industries that need competitive raw material inputs.  Many US companies may use the cases to hide behind protectionist walls.  The “hunker down” mindset is not in America’s DNA.  Instead, this nation’s manufacturing businesses need to regain the competitive dynamism they once possessed. We need a new aggressive US manufacturing policy unleashing American global competitiveness to make companies strong enough to not only survive, but thrive in the US market.

A starting point would be for the Commerce Department to build upon two existing programs that have proven track records of success in this area that can be quickly ramped up and can have an immediate and tangible impact on the 250,000 small and medium manufacturing companies which serve as the bases of our supply chain: EDA’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms /Companies (“TAAF”) and NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (“MEP”) (inexplicably, these programs have been marginalized by the Obama Administration).  TAAF has 11 regional (multi-state) TAAF Centers but the program has been cut to only $12.5 million annually. 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.

No federal funds go to any companies in the program. In fact, companies are required to pay into the program by matching any federal monies on a dollar-for-dollar basis. This sharing of costs between Uncle Sam and the companies creates a pool of seed dollars subsequently used to hire outside professionals. These professionals create a series of knowledge-based projects aimed at permanently upgrading key business processes over the span of several years. Here’s the kicker – the program does not block imports in any way.

Does it work? Yes it does. 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 Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, uses a video, http://mataac.org/howitworks/, to show in detail how the program resulted in significant turnarounds for four companies. The reason the TAA for Firms/Companies is so successful—Its flexibility in working with companies on an individual basis to come up with a specific adjustment plan to make them competitive once again in the US market as it exists today.  For a sample recovery plan, see http://mataac.org/documents/2014/06/sample-adjustment-plan.pdf, which has been developed specific to the strengths, weaknesses and threats each company faces.

NIST’s MEP program provides high quality management and technical assistance to the nation’s small manufacturers through independent Centers in every State and Puerto Rico, staffed by non-federal advanced manufacturing experts and is one of the remedies suggested by TAAF.  MEP reaches nearly 30,000 firms each year, and works intensively (think “McKinsey for manufacturers”) with nearly 10,000 of them.  As a consequence of a just completed nation-wide reinvention and reform of the program, MEP is positioned to assist even more companies.  Currently funded at $130 million, a commitment of $100 million over four years would serve an additional 8400 firms.  These funds could be targeted to those small and medium enterprises that are the base of our domestic supply chain, critical to your overall reshoring agenda.  Like the TAAF program, no MEP funds go directly to the companies, which instead are required to cost share the cost of expert consultants.  They have “skin in the game”.

Increasing funding will allow the TAA for Firms/Companies and the MEP programs to expand their bandwidth and provide relief to larger enterprises, including possibly even steel producers.  If companies that use steel can be saved, why can’t those who produce it?

Attached is a longer proposal on how to expand TAA for Firms/Companies and the MEP Program to make US companies more competitive again.

I wish you great success in your new appointment.  It gives me a level of confidence for the future of America’s manufacturing base that hasn’t been felt for quite some time.

I hope that the above has been of some interest. I would consider it an honor to expand on it in person if you think it appropriate.

Very truly yours,

William Perry

CHINA SUES US AND EC IN WTO FOR FAILURE TO GIVE CHINA MARKET ECONOMY STATUS IN AD AND CVD CASES ON DECEMBER 11, 2016

As indicated in past blog posts, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, from the Chinese point of view December 11, 2016 is the date when countries can no longer treat China as a nonmarket economy country under their antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) law.  Neither the United States nor the EC declared China a market economy country on December 11th so predictably China has filed a WTO complaint against the US and EC over their price comparison methodologies used in their AD and CVD laws.

On December 12, 2016, in the attached notice, wto-2016-news-items-china-files-wto-complaint-against-us-eu-over-price-comp, the WTO announced:

“China notified the WTO Secretariat that it had requested dispute consultations with the United States and the European Union regarding special calculation methodologies used by the US and EU in anti-dumping proceedings.”

Pursuant to US antidumping law, since China is a nonmarket economy country, Commerce refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine whether a Chinese company is dumping.  Instead Commerce constructs a cost for the Chinese company using consumption factor information from China and “surrogate” values from import statistics in 5 to 10 different surrogate countries. In its proceedings, the Commerce Department can choose value data from different countries between a preliminary and final determination and between initial investigation to review investigation.   Because of the numerous surrogate values from many different surrogate countries, it is impossible for the Chinese company, never mind the US importer, to know whether the Chinese company is dumping.

As former USTR General Counsel Warren Maruyama recently stated:

“The nonmarket economy methodology tends to generate extremely high margins and a lot of Chinese companies have basically concluded that it’s futile to defend NME cases, so this is a dispute with extremely high stakes for both sides.”

The controversy surrounds Section 15 of the China WTO Accession Agreement, which originated from the US China WTO Accession Agreement, which provides:

Price Comparability in Determining Subsidies and Dumping . . .

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

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

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

In other words, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, Commerce’s right to us a nonmarket economy methodology in Article 15 (a)(ii) “shall expire 15 years after the date of accession”.  China acceded to the WTO on December 11, 2001 so Section 15(d) should have taken effect on December 11, 2016, but did not.

But where did the 15 years come from?  It came from a demand by the United States in the 2000 US China WTO negotiations and the resulting US-China WTO Accession Agreement. In fact, several years ago, former USTR Charlene Barshefsky, who negotiated the US China WTO Agreement, was asked at a conference in Beijing where the 15 years came from.  Her response was that she knew what she needed to get from the Chinese government to get the Agreement through Congress.  A USTR negotiator once told me that, in fact, this was “nonnegotiable demand” from the US government.  So you would think that the US government would follow the Agreement it negotiated with China and the demand that it made of the Chinese government.  Not so fast.

The United States’ apparent position is that although the 15 years was demanded by the US, since the 15 years is in not in a Treaty approved by Congress, the US does not have to follow the provision because it is not in the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty law.

Iran has market economy status and has always been considered a market economy country.  Although once classified as nonmarket economy countries, Russia and Ukraine have market economy status under the US antidumping law.  Why and how did they become market economy countries?

For Russia, it was 911.  As a result, of the 911 attack the US government wanted Russian bases to attack Afghanistan.  President Putin told the United States Government make Russia a market economy country under the US antidumping law.  Secretary Evans of Commerce flew into Russia and said looks like a market economy to me.  See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2032498.stm; http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/washington-mulls-status-of-russias-economy/247431.html; http://www.russialist.org/archives/5545-4.php.

As CBS news stated about the announcement:

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

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

Sources in China reported that when he learned about the decision then Premier Zhu Rongyi in China was extremely angry, stating how could Russia get market economy before China?  The answer—politics and the Chinese know it.

What about Ukraine?  How did it get market economy?  Orange Revolution.  On February 17, 2006, Commerce determined that Ukraine is a market economy country.  See http://www.trade.gov/press/press_releases/2006/ukraine_021706.asp; 71 Fed. Reg. 9520 (February 24, 2006).

Regarding China’s challenged in the WTO, Nicholas R. Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, recently stated:

“I think this is potentially far more significant than most trade disputes … because the Chinese believe, with some justification, that they were promised something both verbally and in writing back at the time when they were negotiating their accession and now both Europe and the United States are walking away from it.”

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA PRELIMINARY DETERMINATION

On December 19, 2016, the Commerce Department issued the attached preliminary determination, 2014-2015-solar-cells-from-china-preliminary-determination, in the 2014-2015 antidumping revivew investigation on Solar Cells from China.  Trina received an antidumping rate of 7.72%, Canadian Solar 30.42% and separate rate companies received a rate of 13.97%, the weighted average of Trina and Canadian Solar’s dumping rates.  These are just preliminary rates and those rates can change in six months in a preliminary determination.

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA REVIEW INVESTIGATION STARTS THIS MONTH

As indicated in the attached Commerce Department review notice, december-2016-commerce-opportunity-to-request-reviews, this is the month to request review investigations in the Solar Cells ( formal name “Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells”) from China case.  Requests for review investigation must be filed at the Commerce Department by December 31st.

There has been much confusion about the difference between the Solar Cells case and the Solar Products (formal name “Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products”) case.

The Solar Cells from China case covers exports and imports of Chinese Solar Panels with Chinese produced solar cells in them. The anniversary month is December to request a review investigation and the review period will cover imports and sales of Solar Cells to the United States during the period December 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016.

The Solar Products from China case covers exports and imports of Chinese Solar Panels with foreign produced solar cells in them. The anniversary month is February to request a review investigation and the review period will cover imports and sales of Solar Products to the United States during the period February 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017.

NEW HARDWOOD PLYWOOD AD AND CVD CASE AGAINST CHINA

On November 18th, the Coalition for Fair Trade in Hardwood Plywood and its individual members: Columbia Forest Products (Greensboro, NC), Commonwealth Plywood Inc. (Whitehall, NY), Murphy Plywood (Eugene, OR), Roseburg Forest Products Co. (Roseburg, OR), States Industries, Inc. (Eugene, OR), and Timber Products Company (Springfield, OR) filed an AD and CVD case against imports of hardwood plywood from China.

On December 9, 2016, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-prc-hardwood-plywood-products-ad-cvd-initiation-120916, the Commerce Department initiated the AD and CVD cases.  To get a separate antidumping rate in the AD case, Chinese companies must submit a quantity and value questionnaire by December 22, 2016 and a separate rates application by January 13, 2017.

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

STEEL TRADE CASES

On November 30, 2016, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-multiple-clt-plate-ad-final-113016, Commerce announced its affirmative final determinations in the AD investigations of imports of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey.  The Brazil AD rate is 74.52%.  The South African rate ranges from 87.72% to 94.14%.  The Turkey rate ranges from 42.02% to 50%.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

With the election of Donald Trump, as stated in my last newsletter, the Universal Trade War will continue.  In addition to the US bringing AD and CVD cases, countries around the World, such as EC, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Thailand, South Africa, and Vietnam, all are filing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against each other and the United States.  These countries have adopted the US law which finds dumping in 90% of the cases.  The US and the EC have created a Frankenstein in the antidumping law and the whole World has adopted it.

Compromise is the best way to settle trade disputes, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to settle US antidumping and other trade cases.  What is “fair” trade for the United States is “fair” trade for every other country.  Many countries want to make their industries Great again.

Because of this situation, this part of the newsletter will concentrate on trade cases in other countries and how other countries see the trade problem with the United States.

CHINA

HOW THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT CAN RETALIATE

What Happens When Trump Starts a Trade War with China

By Adams Lee, Partner, Harris Bricken

During the campaign, Donald Trump said “we can’t continue to allow China to rape our country” and vowed to aggressively fight back against China’s unfair trade practices. Trump promised his trade agenda would:

(1) declare China to be a currency manipulator,

(2) impose a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese imports into the U.S.,

(3) abandon/ renegotiate “bad” trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and

4) use the full arsenal of US trade laws against Chinese unfair trade practices.

President-elect Trump’s trade actions likely will raise many legal and policy questions.  Can he really do that? Should he do that? Will those actions achieve anything? Pundits, academics, lawyers, and ultimately U.S. judges will weigh in on these questions, but it is fair to assume China will not wait for the resolution of these questions.  Instead China likely will retaliate with its own actions. This post looks at three possible ways China could respond to any attempts under the Trump administration to get tough against China.

  • China’s AD/ CVD Actions

Unbeknownst to many, China has initiated many of its own antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) actions against the United States and other countries.  Having been on the receiving end of the most number of AD/CVD actions worldwide, China has incorporated into its own AD/CVD procedures some of the most effective techniques and practices from the AD/CVD investigations conducted by the U.S., EU, and other jurisdictions. For example, China’s AD questionnaires have burdensome and comprehensive sales and cost data requests, similar to, and even exceeding US practice. China’s AD/CVD margin calculation methodologies are as non-transparent as the EU’s margin calculations. China has even copied many of the annoying administrative practices of the US and EU such as giving only limited extensions, disregarding national holidays, or insisting on burdensome filing requirements (e.g., all documents of all filings must be fully translated into Chinese).

To date, China’s AD/CVD actions have largely been symbolic and timed to be initiated after specific U.S. actions against China.  Although many of China’s AD/CVD cases have involved well-known companies (e.g., Corning, Dupont, Tyson Foods, Cadillac), most of these cases have had only limited economic impact. For example, in 2010, China imposed AD/CVD duties against U.S. chicken broiler products after the U.S. imposed special safeguard duties against Chinese tires in 2009. Most of the U.S. exports to China were of chicken feet, which had limited demand in the U.S., other than as a byproduct to make animal feed.

More recent China AD/CVD actions, however, have had greater strategic economic impact.  After the US and EU filed AD/CVD actions against Chinese solar cells and modules in 2011, China retaliated by initiating its own AD/CVD actions against solar-grade polysilicon from the United States, EU and Korea. China’s AD/CVD action effectively closed off the largest export market for US polysilicon producers, and was a significant contributing factor to REC Silicon’s decision to shutter its polysilicon production operations in Washington and Montana.

Even more recently, China in late September announced preliminary AD duties of 33.8% and CVD duties of up to 10.7% against imports of U.S. distillers dried grains (DDGS), an ethanol by-product used as animal feed. The U.S exported $1.6 billion of DDGS to China in 2015.

China apparently already has an AD/CVD action prepared against U.S. soybeans exports to China and is just waiting for the right time to initiate the action. The U.S. is the largest producer and exporter of soybeans and exported over $10 billion of soybeans to China in 2015.  If Trump wants to get tough against China, US soybean producers may well become collateral damage in the latest round of the escalating US-China trade war.

  • China’s Antitrust Enforcement

Another option for China to respond against any anti-China trade actions from the U.S. would be through the enforcement of its antitrust laws.  Although China implemented its anti-monopoly law only in 2008, China has become increasingly active in reviewing mergers and investigating abuse of market dominance. In February 2015, Qualcomm paid $975 million fine to settle Chinese antitrust investigations into its alleged abuse of market dominant position.  In 2016, China’s antitrust authorities have targeted pharmaceuticals, medical devices, vehicle manufacturing, ocean shipping, and smart manufacturing as industries of particular concern.  U.S. companies operating in these industries should be aware of possible dawn raids of its corporate offices in China and other enforcement action by Chinese antitrust authorities. Because these industries are already prioritized for extra scrutiny, China could ramp up its antitrust enforcement actions as an indirect way to retaliate quickly against Trump’s actions against China.

  • China’s Criminal Enforcement

China could also retaliate by simply enforcing its own criminal laws against foreign (i.e., U.S.) company officials while in China. Earlier this month, China detained at least three employees of Crown Resorts, Ltd, an Australian gambling company, and will be pursuing criminal charges because under Chinese law casinos are not allowed to promote gambling in China or organize groups to go to casinos overseas. No one knows where and when the next China anti-corruption effort will occur, but foreign companies doing business in China in important or politically sensitive industries need to be extra cautious.  Company officials need to know which way the wind is blowing in China, particularly when Trump’s enflamed trade rhetoric may trigger Chinese backlash.

So far, although Trump has talked a lot about China, China has taken the high road noting that U.S.-China trade relations are “too big to fail”. China appears to be waiting to see if Trump’s actions will in fact harm China.  For example, Trump’s decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership actually opens the door for China to step in and fill the TPP void by promoting its own regional trade agreement (RCEP – Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership).  If, however, Trump does do anything that China considers excessive, it would be naïve to think China will do nothing.  Unlike the U.S.-Japan trade wars from the 1980s, China has a home market that is often the biggest export market for US producers. China has many options under its own laws to directly or indirectly retaliate against U.S. interests.  Anyone wishing to do business in China or with China should consider these risks that they could be targeted for symbolic retaliation in a spiraling US-China trade war.

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-44, teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-45 teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-46, from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office.

CANADA

LUMBER FROM CANADA CASE COMES BACK

On November 25, 2016, the Committee Overseeing Action for Lumber International Trade or Negotiations, the domestic lumber companies, filed an antidumping and countervailing petition against softwood lumber products from China.  In the attached notice, factsheet-canada-softwood-lumber-productsad-cvd-initiation-121616, on December 16, 2016, the Commerce Department initiated an antidumping and countervailing duty case on solftwood lumber products from Canada.

THE CANADIAN VIEW

In attached footnoted article, trumpnaftafinal, Dan Kiselbach, a well-known Canadian Trade and Customs lawyer, at Deloitte Tax Law in Vancouver, Canada discusses whether and how Trump can cancel NAFTA.

MEXICO

MEXICAN ANTIDUMPING CASE—CARBON STEEL TUBE FROM KOREA, SPAIN AND UKRAINE.

On December 15, 2016, in the attached notice in Spanish, dof-15-dic-16-resolucion-inicio-investig-antidumping-import-tuberia-de-a, the Mexican Government started up its own antidumping investigation against imports of carbon steel tube from Korea, India, Spain and Ukraine.  A large number of US companies have been named as respondent exporters.  All the exporters are named in pages 7 to 11 of the notice.

In the attached memorandum, carbon-steel-pipe-and-tube-mexicowhich will be attached in full on my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, David Hurtado Badiola, a well known Mexican Trade and Customs lawyer, at Jauregui y Del Valle, S.C. in Mexico states:

Antidumping investigation on seamless carbon steel pipes, originating in Korea, Spain, India and Ukraine.

Below is a summary of the Initial Antidumping Resolution on seamless carbon steel pipes, produced in Korea, Spain, India and Ukraine, published today on the Federal Official Gazette.

The investigation is initiated today for importations of steel pipes described below, carried out at alleged dumping prices.

The products included in the investigation are seamless carbon steel pipes, with different diameters and thicknesses, classified under the following tariffs are:

Tariff fraction Description
Chapter 73 ARTICLES OF IRON OR STEEL
Heading 7304

Tubes, pipes and hollow profiles, seamless, of iron (other than cast iron) or Steel.

Line pipe of a kind used for oil or gas pipelines

Subheading 7304.19 Other

Tariff

7304.19.01

Hot-rolled tubes, uncoated or other surface-worked work, including Hot-drawn or lacquered: of an external diameter not exceeding o equal to 114.3 mm and a wall thickness equal to or exceeding 4 mm without exceeding 19.5 mm

Tariff

7304.19.02

Hot-rolled tubes, uncoated or other surface-worked work, including Hot-drawn or lacquered: of an external diameter

exceeding 114.3 mm but not exceeding 406.4 mm and having a wall thickness of 6,35 mm or more but not exceeding 38.1 mm .

Tariff

7304.19.99

The others.
Subheading 7304.39 Others, of circular cross-section, of iron or non-alloy steel:
Others.

Tariff

7304.39.05

Tubes known as “thermal” or “conducting” tubes, uncoated or surface-worked, including pipes called thermal or conducting, lacquered or varnished: of an external diameter not exceeding or equal to 114.3 mm and having a wall thickness equal to or greater than 4 mm, not to exceeding 19.5 mm.

Tariff

7304.39.06

Tubes known as “thermal” or “conducting” tubes, uncoated or surface-worked, including pipes called thermal or conducting, lacquered or varnished: of an external diameter greater than 114.3 mm not exceeding 406.4 mm and having a wall thickness equal to or greater than 6.35 mm, not to exceeding 38.1 mm.

Tariff

7304.39.99

Others.

There are two different periods covered in an antidumping investigation: (i) the investigated period and (ii) the analyzed period.

The investigated period covers importations from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

The analyzed period is a longer period that covers importations from April 1, 2013 to March 31 2016. This period is used to analyze injury caused by imports at dumping prices.

Every exporter that appears and files the information required is entitled to have its own dumping margin calculated.

Those exporters that do not appear or did not export in the investigated period shall be subject to the “all others rate”, equivalent to the highest duty imposed to the exporters of their country.

The term to file information in the official questionnaire and defense arguments expires on February 9, 2017.

If anyone is interested in participating in the case, please let me know and I will put them in touch with Mexican trade counsel.

COMPUTER HACKING

US AND CHINA MEETING

On December 8, 2016, the Justice Department issued a notice, on the recent high level Joint Dialogue between the United States and China on Cybercrime and Related Issues, which states:

Joint Summary of Outcomes

Yesterday, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, together with Chinese State Councilor and Minister of the Ministry of Public Security Guo Shengkun, co-chaired the third U.S.-China High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues. The dialogue aims to review the timeliness and quality of responses to requests for information and assistance with respect to cybercrime or other malicious cyber activities and to enhance pragmatic bilateral cooperation with regard to cybercrime, network protection and other related issues.

Both sides endorse the establishment of the dialogue mechanism as beneficial to bilateral communication and enhanced cooperation, and believe that further solidifying, developing and maintaining the dialogue mechanism and continuing to strengthen bilateral cooperation in cybersecurity is beneficial to mutual interests.

The outcomes of the third dialogue are listed as below:

  1. Combatting Cybercrime and Cyber-Enabled Crime. Both sides re-commit to cooperate on the investigation of cyber crimes and malicious cyber activities emanating from China or the United States and to refrain from cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial To that end, both sides:
    • Plan to continue the mechanism of the “Status Report on S./China Cybercrime Cases” to evaluate the effectiveness of case cooperation.
    • Affirm that both sides intend to focus cooperation on hacking and cyber-enabled fraud cases, share cybercrime-related leads and information with each other in a timely manner, and determine priority cases for continued law enforcement cooperation. Both sides intend to continue cooperation on cases involving online distribution of child Both sides seek to expand cyber-enabled crime cooperation to counter Darkweb marketplaces’ illicit sale of synthetic drugs and firearms.
    • Seek to provide concrete and timely updates on cases brought within the ambit of the
    • Exchanged views on existing channels of multilateral cooperation, and intend to continue exchanges regarding this
  2. Network Both sides acknowledged the network protection seminar held in August 2016 in China, and believe that enhancing network protection is beneficial to both sides. Both sides suggest holding regular network protection working-level meetings, either remotely or in-person, the next of which should be planned for 2017. Both sides seek to promote the protection of our respective networks through multiple methods. To that end, both sides:
    • Plan to enhance network hygiene by promoting the cleaning and patching of malware infections in our respective networks and promoting best network protection
    • Propose to engage in regular reciprocal sharing of malicious IP addresses, malware samples, analytic products, and other network protection information, and to develop standard operating procedures to guide network protection
    • Seek to assess the effectiveness of information shared and provide substantive feedback to each side regarding the utility of that
    • Plan to provide Principals with regular summaries of network protection
    • Intend to continue discussion on future cooperation concerning cybersecurity of critical infrastructure, and to provide timely assistance on cybersecurity incidents impacting critical
    • Intend to hold, as early as possible in 2017, a S.-China government and technology company roundtable to discuss cybersecurity issues of mutual concern.
  3. Misuse of Technology and Communications to Facilitate Violent Terrorist Activities. Both sides acknowledged the seminar on misuse of technology and communications to facilitate violent acts of terrorism held in November 2016 in China, and decided to continue cooperation on information sharing in countering the use of the Internet for terrorist and other criminal Both sides will consider holding a second seminar in 2017.
  4. Hotline Both sides welcomed the launch of the U.S.-China Cybercrime and Related Issues Hotline Mechanism, and decided to continue to use the hotline in accordance with the Work Plan. Both sides will conduct routine review of the use of the hotline.
  5. Dialogue Both sides recommend that the dialogue continue to be held each year, and that the fourth dialogue occur in 2017.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

ARROWHEADS WITH ARCUATE BLADES

On December 2, 2016, in the attached ITC notice, arcuate-arrowheads, Flying Arrow Archery, LLC filed a section 337 patent case against Alice, China; Dongguan hong Song hardware alma iao, China; Huntingsky, China; liu, China; Jianfeng Mao, China; In-Sail Sandum Precision Industry (China) Co., Ltd., China; Arthur Sifuentes, Spring, Texas; Taotao (IT60), China; Wanyuxue, China; Wei Ran, China; YanDong, China; and Zhou Yang, China.

LIQUID CRYSTAL eWRITERS AND COMPONENTS THEREOF

On December 8, 2016, in the attached ITC notice, liquid-crystal, Kent Displays, Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against Shenzhen Howshow Technology Co., Ltd., (d/b/a Shenzhen Howshare Technology co., Ltd., d/b/a Howshare), China; and Shenzhen SUNstone Technology Co., Ltd., (d/b/a iQbe, China).

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, international taxes, US trade policy,  the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP AND TRADE, TRADE DROP, TAA FOR COMPANIES THE ANSWER, EC NME PROBLEM, UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR, CUSTOMS AND 337

White House Fountain Snow Pennsylvania Ave Washington DCTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NOVEMBER 14, 2016

Dear Friends,

This blog post contains several articles about trade and Trump after his victory on November 8th.  The Trump victory will have a significant impact on trade policy.  As stated below, the TPP is dead.  The Republican Congress will not oppose Trump and bring the TPP to the Congressional floor in the Lame Duck.  The TPP may only come back when and if the trade safety net, including Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies, is fixed.

The trade impact on the Rust Belt states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, is a major reason for the Trump victory.  Trump’s victory means that trade wars may escalate.  But with the increase in trade wars, global trade has already started falling and that means a 2015 drop of $200 billion in US exports.  Exports create US jobs too and when exports fall US jobs fall.

As Congressman Don Bonker states, trade conflicts with China and other countries will increase both from the US and the Chinese side. Trump may well self-initiate trade cases against China and China will bring cases against the US.  But Congressional Republicans will try to limit Trump’s protectionist nature.

Xi Jinping of China has already stated that the Chinese government wants to work with President Trump because of the importance of the US China economic relationship.

Complicating the situation is that last week the EC has proposed a change to its antidumping and countervailing to allow it to continue to treat China as a nonmarket economy country or as a country which distorts its market by government practices.

On the other hand, we can expect Congress to work very close with President Trump on different policy initiatives to make the United States a much more fertile ground for US manufacturing.  This will mean cuts in Corporate tax rates and the reduction in production curtailing regulations.  Trump will try and do everything possible to increase jobs in the United States.  Hopefully, that will mean more support to Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, which is the only effective US trade remedy that saves companies and the jobs that go with them.

Under the Universal Trade War theme, there are articles by Chinese lawyers on Chinese antidumping law, along with newsletter from an Indian lawyer about Indian trade law.  Many of these cases in other countries target the United States.

In addition, there is an article about Customs Evasion in the Aluminum Extrusions antidumping case and several recent 337 intellectual property cases against China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE AND TRADE POLICY

TRUMP VICTORY AND WHAT IT MEANS FOR TRADE

Donald Trump won the Presidency on November 8th, and on January 20, 2017 Trump will become the 45th President of the United States.  What does this mean for trade?

TPP IS DEAD

With the Trump victory, Republicans in the House and the Senate will not fight Trump and will not bring the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) to the floor during the Lame Duck session. According to recent press reports, Trump might try and renegotiate TPP, but as written, TPP  is dead.

Several weeks ago during the heat of the campaign, Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House of Representatives, stated that he could no longer campaign with Donald Trump.  ln a speech on November 9th, the day after the Trump victory, House Speaker Paul Ryan ate humble pie.

In his speech, Ryan made it very clear that Trump’s victory was the most “incredible political feat” of his lifetime.  For a video of Paul Ryan’s speech, see https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=paul+ryan+speech+video+after+trump+victory&view=detail&mid=556B672FB48D720BC373556B672FB48D720BC373&FORM=VIRE

Ryan also made it clear that he was extremely grateful because Trump was the first time Republican Presidential candidate to win Wisconsin’s electoral votes, his home state, since 1984.  Ryan also stated that Trump had coat tails.  Trump’s victory allowed down ballet Republicans to win.  The most important example of that was Wisconsin Republican Senator Ron Johnson, who was in a very tough reelection campaign.  Trump’s victory helped Ron Jonson win and allowed the Republicans to hold on to the Senate by a 51 to 49 plurality.

The simple political reality is that Trump’s victory allowed the Republicans to hold a majority in the Senate and the House.

As Paul Ryan stated,

“Donald Trump heard a voice in this country that no one else heard.  He connected in ways with people that no one else did.  He turned politics on its head.  And now Donald Trump will lead a unified Republican government.”

There is no way that Paul Ryan is going to oppose Trump and bring the TPP to the floor of Congress in the face of that political feat.  Let the next Administration deal with this issue.  As explained below, the TPP will probably stay dead until Congress and the Administration fix the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program and make many US companies competitive again so they can withstand competition from imports.

It should be noted that those Republicans that distanced themselves from Trump, such as Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, lost their races.  In light of the Trump victory and his opposition to Trump, Governor John Kasich will have little weight when he argues for the TPP.

TRUMP’S PROTECTIONIST ARGUMENT TO THE RUST BELT STATES DROVE HIS VICTORY

The big surprise in the Trump victory was that traditionally Democratic states, the Rust Belt, of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania and Ohio all went for Trump.  To illustrate the shock to the Democratic party, Hilary Clinton did not even campaign in the State of Wisconsin because the Democrats assumed they had Wisconsin in the bag.  Why did these Rust Belt states go for Trump?  Trade.

The person who forecast this victory was Michael Moore, the very famous Democratic gadfly and movie producer.  In a true statement against interest, last summer Michael Moore explained why he, the Good Democrat, believed that Trump would win the election—the Rust Belt and Trade.  http://michaelmoore.com/trumpwillwin/.  Donald Trump spoke out against the US automobile companies moving their manufacturing to Mexico.  Trump threatened that if they did, a President Trump would impose a 35% tariff on all these cars coming back to the United States.  The Auto executives were stunned, but the Working Class in Michigan stood up and cheered.  See Moore’s powerful video predicting the Trump victory https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YKeYbEOSqYc.  As Moore stated, Donald Trump is the “human Molotov cocktail” that these working people want to throw through the establishment window.

After the election, Moore also made it clear that it was not racism that allowed Trump to win.  As Moore stated, millions of Americans, who voted for Barak Hussein Obama for two terms, voted for Donald Trump.  See Moore’s video at http://dailycaller.com/2016/11/11/michael-moore-millions-of-trump-voters-elected-obama-twice-theyre-not-racist-video/.  To paraphrase Bill Clinton, the reason Trump won was “the economy stupid” and one of the major economic issues was trade.

Ohio’s Cuyahoga County Republican Party Chairman Robert S. Frost stated that he believes that Trump’s trade message had a deep and profound effect on the regional electorate in Ohio:

“The economy has been going gangbusters, the U.S. has been expanding its trade relationships … but there are people here who [were] working, at many times, very skilled jobs that they took a great deal of pride in. They felt like they were left behind in this economy, and Donald Trump spoke right to that in places like Youngstown to Detroit to Milwaukee.”

Exit polls showed that half of Michigan’s voters are of the opinion that free trade takes away jobs, and those trade skeptics broke for Trump by a 57 to 36 percent margin over Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.  There are similar stories to be found in Ohio and Pennsylvania, where 47 percent and 53 percent of voters respectively felt that free trade hurts workers and jobs.

Trump’s arguments are the same protectionist arguments that Rust Belt Democrats have used to be elected for decades, but the Workers had seen no change.  By upending conventional Republican wisdom on trade, Trump opened the door to a whole new group of voters.  These workers in the Rust Belt are Nixon’s Silent Majority, the Reagan Democrats, that went for Trump.

As Frost further stated:

“Organized labor had thought that the Democrats had had their backs for the last 25 years, but they look around and see where they are, and they wonder why they had placed their faith there. Donald Trump went against what had been Republican orthodoxy on trade. Part of how we got there is that Hillary Clinton … began taking an internationalist position of trade for trade’s sake, as opposed to representing an American position on trade.”

Trump appealed to the emotions of workers who felt wronged by a steady pattern of trade liberalization that is, in their minds, was about to get much worse if the U.S. Congress had been able to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership accord,

On October 18, 2016 in an article in Real Clear Politics entitled “The Trump Trade Doctrine: A Path to Growth & Budget Balance”. Wilbur Ross & Peter Navarro explained why they believed the Trump Trade Policy would work:

Budget-deficit hawks often insist that the only way to balance the Federal budget is to raise taxes or cut spending. The far smarter path to balance the budget is simply to grow our economy faster.

From 1947 to 2001, the U.S. real gross domestic product grew at an annual rate of 3.5 percent. Since 2002, that rate has fallen to 1.9 percent — at the cost of millions of jobs and trillions of dollars of additional income and tax revenues.

Donald Trump’s economic plan will restore America’s real GDP growth rate to its historic norm.  It proposes tax cuts, reduced regulation, lower energy costs, and eliminating America’s chronic trade deficit. . . .

This new normal argument — it should more appropriately be called the “new dismal” — also ignores the self-inflicted negative impacts from poorly negotiated trade deals and the failure to enforce them. These bad deals include, most notably, NAFTA, China’s entry into the World Trade Organization in 2001, and, most recently, Hillary Clinton’s debilitating 2012 U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement.

In 2012, then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised that the “cutting edge” South Korean deal would create 70,000 new jobs. Instead, the US has lost 95,000 jobs and America’s trade deficit with South Korea has roughly doubled. Moreover, workers in the U.S. auto industry, particularly in states such as Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, have been hard hit. . . .

Donald Trump has pledged to renegotiate every one of America’s bad trade deals according to the principles of the Trump Trade Doctrine. The Trump Trade Doctrine states that any new or renegotiated deal must increase the GDP growth rate, decrease the trade deficit, and strengthen the U.S. manufacturing base. . . .

Some critics will argue that reducing the flow of cheap imports from locales such as China, Mexico, and Vietnam will be inflationary and act as a regressive tax by denying lower-income households cheap imports. In reality, four decades of one-sided globalization and chronic trade deficits have shifted wealth and capital from workers to the mobile owners of capital and reduced the purchasing power of Americans.

A visit to cities like Johnstown, Pennsylvania, and Flint, Michigan, reveals quickly the falsehoods and broken promises of those who preach the gains from trade deficits — which are often financed by those who turn a profit from offshoring production. Trump’s proposals will reverse these trends, concentrate more wealth and purchasing power in the hands of domestic workers and result in substantially higher employment. This will more than offset any price increases. Moreover, as products develop a competitive advantage in America and increase their production and margins, prices per unit will go down.

To those alarmists who insist Trump’s trade policies will ignite a trade war, we say we are already engaged in a trade war — a war in which the American government has surrendered in before even engaging. Unfair trade practices and policies of our competitors are simply overlooked or ignored. As a well-documented result, America has already lost tens of thousands of factories, millions of jobs, and trillions in wages and tax revenues.

Donald Trump will simply put our government on the field in defense of American interests. As Trump pursues a policy of more balanced trade, our major trading partners are far more likely to cooperate with an America resolute about balancing its trade than they are likely to provoke a trade war.

This is true for one very simple reason: Our major trading partners and deficit counterparties are far more dependent on our markets — the largest in the world — than we are on their markets.

Consider that in 2015, we ran a trade deficit in goods of $746 billion. 76 percent of that trade deficit in goods concerned just four countries: China ($367 billion); Germany ($75 billion); Japan ($69 billion); and Mexico ($61 billion).

If we look at the bilateral relationships of America with each of these countries, improvement in our trade balance is clearly achievable through some combination of increased exports and reduced imports, albeit after some tough, smart negotiations — an obvious Trump strength.   The same possibilities exist with countries where we are running smaller, but nonetheless significant, deficits, such as Vietnam ($31 billion), South Korea ($28 billion), Italy ($28 billion), and India ($23 billion).

Such deficit reduction negotiations will not be wild-eyed, hip-shooting exercises. A key part of the Trump strategy will be to divert some of the products our deficit counterparties import to U.S. suppliers.

For example, many of our trading partners with which we run large trade deficits import substantial hydrocarbons from elsewhere. It would not be difficult for, say, China, Japan, Germany, and South Korea to buy more U.S. hydrocarbons. Trump intends to end the regulatory constraints on hydrocarbon production and hydrocarbon exports, resulting in as much as $95 billion gains for the U.S.

Our deficit counterparties also import lots of industrial equipment and supplies of plastics and other materials, some from the U.S. already. There is ample room here for them — along with countries like India, Mexico, and Vietnam — to switch vendors.

Trump’s strategic approach to trade negotiations would begin with product-by-product and country-by-country analyses. Our negotiators would set goals that are achievable and pursue them fiercely. No prior administration has ever approached trade as surgically as a Trump Administration would.

As a business person, rather than a politician, Trump understands this: There is no more reason to let our major trading partners take advantage of us than there is for a large private company to permit its vendors to do so.

You will notice we have not mentioned tariffs. They will be used if necessary against mercantilist cheating, but only in a very precise and defensive way.

Ultimately, our view is that doing nothing about unfair trade practices is the most hazardous course of action — and the results of this hazard are lived out every day by millions of displaced American workers and deteriorating communities. We simply cannot trade on their one-sided terms; they are just too destructive to the U.S. growth process.

At the end of the day — and on November 8th — voters have a very clear choice between Trump’s smart path to rapid growth and budget balance and Hillary Clinton’s new dismal world of economic stagnation. At least on the economy, this choice is clear.

Emphasis added.

The problem with the argument, however, is that it is based on the economic situation decades ago when the US was the largest market in the World.  That is no longer true.  China with its 1.2 billion population has a larger market than the US.  House Speaker Paul Ryan has cited many times that 75% of the World’s consumers are outside the United States.

The real problem with Trump’s trade policy is uncertainty.  No one knows how aggressive Trump will be in a new Administration.  Through the Commerce Department self-initiating antidumping and countervailing duty cases and bringing Section 201 Escape Clause cases against the World, a President Trump can certainly increase protectionist barriers in the US.

A President Trump can unravel NAFTA and dump the TPP, but if the US erects substantial barriers to US imports, countries around the World will respond by increasing barriers to US exports.

NOT RETALIATION RECIPROCITY

The problem with protectionism is that trade is a two-way street and what the US can do to countries, they can do back.  In my last blog post, I stated that although many US politicians, including Donald Trump, want to adopt a mercantilist trade policy which favors pushing exports and protecting US industries from imports, the US politicians simply do not understand retaliation.  In this blog post, I want to restate this because the issue is not retaliation.  It is reciprocity.

Retaliation implies a tit for tat response.  You attack us.  We attack you.  The United States files an antidumping case targeting $4 billion in imports of Solar Cells from China, and China responds with a meritless Chinese antidumping case targeting $2 billion in imports of Polysilicon from the United States.  But that is not what truly happened.  In the Chinese polysilicon case, for example, the Chinese polysilicon industry was truly being hurt by US imports.

The real issue is reciprocity.  If the US can use its antidumping and countervailing duty laws to find dumping and subsidization in more than 90% of the cases, the Chinese governments and governments around the World can make the same finding with regards to imports from the United States.  What goes around comes around.

Free trade agreements, such as the TPP and the TTIP, which would break this cycle are now dead as the US and each country wants to put its industries first and make their country and industries great again.  The rise in economic nationalism results in trade wars in which country after country will fire trade guns against each other.

The argument that trade wars are already going on is true, but what the pundits do not realize is that under Trump the trade wars will get bigger.  The US has antidumping and countervailing duty orders covering $30 billion in imports from China.  The Chinese government has orders blocking about $10 billion in imports from the US, including polysilicon, chicken, numerous chemical products, and steel products.  Just recently, the Chinese government has issued an antidumping order blocking over $1 billion in Chinese imports from the United States of distiller grains, and now there is talk about a case targeting $15 billion of imports of US soybeans.  What goes around comes around.

In a November 11th editorial, entitled “The Message Of Donald Trump’s Stunning Victory” the International Business Daily stated that the one policy which has to be reined in by Republicans in Congress is trade:

“Republicans will also have to work hard to temper Trump’s anti-free-trade instincts.  A trade war is the one big risk Trump’s presidency represents for the economy.  Trump has repeatedly the he is all in favor of free trade, and the GOP needs to hold him to those words.”

TRADE IS FALLING AROUND THE WORLD

Moreover, on October 30, 2016, Binyamin Applebaum in an article entitledA Little-Noticed Fact About Trade: It’s No Longer Rising” found that trade around the world is dropping, including a drop of $200 billion in US exports:

“The growth of trade among nations is among the most consequential and controversial economic developments of recent decades. Yet despite the noisy debates, which have reached new heights during this Presidential campaign, it is a little-noticed fact that trade is no longer rising. The volume of global trade was flat in the first quarter of 2016, then fell by 0.8 percent in the second quarter, according to statisticians in the Netherlands, which happens to keep the best data.

The United States is no exception to the broader trend. The total value of American imports and exports fell by more than $200 billion last year. Through the first nine months of 2016, trade fell by an additional $470 billion It is the first time since World War II that trade with other nations has declined during a period of economic growth. . ..

But there are also signs that the slowdown is becoming structural.  Developed nations appear to be backing away from globalization.

The World Trade Organization’s most recent round of global trade talks ended in failure last year. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, an attempt to forge a regional agreement among Pacific Rim nations, also is foundering. It is opposed by both major-party American presidential candidates. Meanwhile, new barriers are rising. Britain is leaving the European Union. The World Trade Organization said in July that its members had put in place more than 2,100 new restrictions on trade since 2008.

“Curbing free trade would be stalling an engine that has brought unprecedented welfare gains around the world over many decades,” Christine Lagarde, managing director of the International Monetary Fund, wrote in a recent call for nations to renew their commitment to trade. . . .

But even if growth rebounds, automation reduces the incentives to invest in the low- labor-cost developing world, and it reduces the benefits of such investments for the residents of developing countries.”

UNFAIR TRADE CASES DO NOT WORK; THEY DO NOT SAVE THE US COMPANIES

The problem with the potential Trump policy of bringing more unfair trade cases to solve the trade problem is that trade cases do not work.  They do not save the companies and the jobs that go with them.

Bethlehem Steel, a history that I am personally aware of, had 40 years of protection from steel imports through various antidumping and countervailing duty cases and orders.  Where is Bethlehem Steel today? Green fields.

Trying to stop a wave of low priced imports by filing an unfair trade cases is like putting finger in a dike when faced with a tidal wave engulfing the entire company and industry.

When an industry and company is faced with competition from imports it is so easy to engage in globalization/international trade victimhood.  We poor US companies cannot compete because all imports are dumped and subsidized.

For countries and companies faced with import competition, the easy solution is blame the foreigner.  The only way for a company to truly survive, however, is give up the globalization victimhood mindset and do what is necessary to make the company competitive again.

EXISTING PROGRAMS TO MAKE US MANUFACTURING COMPANIES MORE COMPETITIVE IS THE ANSWER TO THE TRADE PROBLEM — TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES AND THE MEP MANUFACTURING PROGRAM– BUT THEY HAVE BEEN CUT TO THE BONE

As described in my September newsletter and uschinatradewar.com blog post, which can be found at http://uschinatradewar.com/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/, free trade requires competitive US companies and industries.  For the US government to go forward with a free trade agenda and the passage of free trade agreements, it must restore the trade safety net.

The US Government already has successful programs to make US companies injured by imports competitive again, but they have been cut to the bone. Companies and Unions that want to take advantage of these programs and survive must first change their mindset and reject the defeatism of international trade/globalization victimhood.

Those programs are:

  • Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (Commerce)
  • The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Commerce)

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. These two programs make US companies injured by imports competitive again.

Free trade does not have to be abandoned resulting in a lose lose situation for all countries.  When the US Government enters into Trade Agreements, such as NAFTA, the TPP, or the TTIP, Government action changes the market place.  All of a sudden US companies can be faced with a series of flash floods of foreign competition and imports that can simply wipe out US companies.  The US Government must restore the international trade safety net.

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 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 Mid Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center in this video at http://mataac.org/howitworks/ describes in detail how the program works and saved four companies and the jobs that go with them.  The reason TAA for Firms/Companies is so successful—Its flexibility in working with companies on an individual basis to come up with a specific adjustment plan 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’ management and the Union 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 a longer proposal, taaf-2-0-white-paper, on how to expand TAA for Firms/Companies and the MEP Program to make US companies more competitive again.

UNDER TRUMP TRADE CONFLICTS WITH CHINA WILL INCREASE

As readers may remember, my deep dive on the background of this election started with a February conversation and bet with my friend, former Democratic Congressman Don Bonker.  He firmly believed that Hilary Clinton would win in a landslide and the Democrats would win the Senate and the House.

I knew people that were going to vote for Trump and believed that although Clinton would probably win, it would be a close election and the Republicans would probably keep the Senate and definitely the House.  Trump won the election and the Republicans kept the Senate and the House.

Set forth below are Congressman Bonker’s thoughts on what he believes the Trump election means for future US Trade Policy regarding China.

‘Election Results:  U.S. China Relationship

Prepared by: Congressmen Don Bonker (Democrat)

Winston Churchill’s characterization of “democracy as the worst form of government except for all the others” was on full display in America’s 2016 presidential election.   Yesterday’s torrent of election results is revealing of America’s challenges ahead, not only domestically but internationally.  This report is focused on how the election results will affect the U.S. – China relationship.

CANDIDATES WEBSITE/POSITIONS ON CHINA

Hillary Clinton

Increase cooperation in areas of common interest

Reinforce alliances in the Asia-Pacific

Ratchet up the U.S. deterrent against Chinese cyberattacks

Take a stronger stance against China’s human rights record

Donald Trump

Increase U.S. military presence in and around the South China Sea

Investigate and punish China for unfair trade practices

Designate China a currency manipulator

Ratchet up the U.S. deterrent against Chinese cyberattacks

PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION RESULTS.   U.S. presidents are not elected by the popular vote but the so-called Electoral College – each of the 50 states select “electors” equal to the number of Congressmen — that determines the outcome.  The margin is significant in that a sweeping victory with over 300 electoral votes will demonstrate a public mandate that will make the newly elected Presidents’ governing more effective.  This year, Donald Trump’s victory with 289 electoral votes [which is now with Michigan and Arizona 309 votes] is not a big margin but his party being in control of both the Senate and House of Representatives, is a sufficient mandate, something of a populist uprising not seen in recent years.

The election of Donald Trump was unexpected and shocking, even troubling to many in the U.S. and around the world.  The electoral vote is revealing of why and how he won the election – his anti-trade and immigration messages resonated in the four or five rust-belt states that were expected to vote for Hillary Clinton.   Not unlike the Brexit vote, he played to the anger and fear that was directed at Wall Street and Washington, D.C., a movement that will definitely take the country in a new and perilous direction.

Most disconcerting is how a President Trump will conduct foreign policy given that he has no experience compared to Hillary Clinton, who served as Secretary of State and was expected to continue the Obama Administration’s policies and alliances with other countries.  The U.S. China relationship is all about economics and trade, so his Seven-Step Trade Plan is an indication of what lies ahead:

Immediate withdraw from TPP and a renegotiation of NAFTA.

Appoint the “toughest and smartest trade negotiators.

Direct Department of Commerce to “identify every violation of trade agreements a foreign country is currently using to harm our worker” and direct all Federal agencies to use “every tool under American and international law” to end abuses.

Instruct the Treasury Department to label China a currency manipulator, promising that any international devaluation would be met with sharply through tariffs and taxes.

The U.S. Trade Representatives would be instructed to bring trade cases against Beijing under both U.S. laws and the WTO.

If China does not stop its illegal activities, Trump said he would invoke specific safeguards and tariff protections under Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974.

U.S. China Relationship

In past years, presidential candidates have been known for their “tough talk on China” during campaigns but eventually succumb to the geopolitical realities once they become president.  Donald Trump has gone way beyond tough talk in that he has been relentless in his China bashing and threats to take punishing actions based on unfair trade practices.

More alarming have been his comments threatening the U.S. – China relationship, on one occasion stating that “I’d love to have a trade war with China…if we did no business with China, frankly we will save a lot of money.”  This hopefully is more about rhetoric than policy and a sitting President and his advisors will be more realistic and engage China in ways that will be mutually beneficial.

Ultimately, it’s not so much about the rhetoric and issues but the relationship between the two heads of state.  President Obama and President Xi Jinping had a “trust” working relationship that may not go as easily with Donald Trump, but he is a master negotiator who knows how to work out deals with others.  Much will also depend on who will be his cabinet ministers and senior advisors.

U.S. – International.    Donald Trump’s election has many world leaders concerned given his pledge of radical actions that will project a different America.  For the past 50 years, America has been the undisputed leader worldwide but that is about to change, partly because both Donald Trump’s election is rooted in American anxiety, placing the blame on globalization and trade deals for job losses and economic hardship.  In recent years partisanship and politicalizing of U.S. foreign policy has intensified in a way that inhibits a President’s ability maintain America’s leadership globally.

What does this mean in terms of America’s leadership internationally?  The reverberating message and new mandate that comes out of the election may be alarming to foreign leaders in that a Trump Administration’s foreign policy will be unpredictable, to be sure, on both the economic and geopolitical fronts that will lead to greater uncertainty.  It will definitely be more protectionist given Mr. Trump’s ranting that trade deals have caused job losses and economic hardship.  More perplexing is whether a Trump presidency will abandon America’s alliances and commitments and embark on a course that is more self-serving.

Regardless of who was elected, one of the realities will be China possibly surpassing America as the world’s most powerful nation, which will be a dramatic wake-up call for a country that has proudly embraced this status for the past hundred years.  A Trump presidency taking the country down the path of isolationism may have America backing away from its global responsibilities compared to China’s highly focused set of objectives and its growing presence internationally.  Indeed, China has wisely avoided involvement in geopolitical and security issues, such as the Middle East, and instead is concentrating on economic and investment development, which rapidly advances their leadership standing around the world.

CONGRESSIONAL ELECTIONS    

Two weeks before the election, the Democrats were expected to take control of the U. S. Senate hopefully gaining enough seats to be the Majority Party that would be fully supportive of a Hillary Clinton presidency.  Instead the Republicans will now control both branches of the U.S. government.  However, it will not represent a consensus or cooperation given the deep divisions within the Republican Party, particularly how the Trump candidacy shattered political convention by criticizing Congressional leaders and charting his own path

U.S. Senate.  The Constitution specifies that one-third of the Senate positions are up every election year, which worked to the advantage of Democrats since most of the ballot positions were Republicans.  Yet the election results favored the Republicans who will maintain their 51-45 advantage for the next two years.  The Senate has the Constitutional authority to approve treaties and appointments to high-level positions and ambassadors.  There should be cooperation, given that the same party controls both branches, but Donald Trump has defied the conventional approach to doing business, so this will add to the uncertainty.

House of Representatives.  For the past six years the Republicans have been in control with a significant margin, despite divisions of within the Party that inhibits their ability to be productive.  Prior to the election, the Republicans held 247 of the 435 seats that are up for election every year, a safe margin.  While the Democrats did pick up eleven of the Republican held seats they will continue as the Minority Party for the next few years.

The same party in control of the White House and Congress would normally make for a productive session, but uncertainty lingers given the troubled relationship between Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan.  Prior to the elections, a fractured Republican Party has been unified only by its opposition to President Obama’s policies, like Obamacare, so many questions remain about how the Speaker will preside over his own problems as he prepares to work with a Trump Administration.

In contrast to Congressman Bonker, my belief is that the US China relationship may, in fact, work out better than people think under President Trump.  While in China last month I met many Chinese who liked Trump, despite his trade policy, which was enlightening.

Although Trump will be tough in trade negotiations, Trump is a business man and likes to do deals.  That means he is truly open to negotiations.

Also many Conservative publications, such as the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily (“IBD”), believe that Republican Congressional leaders, such as House Speaker Paul Ryan, may be able to prevent Trump from starting an all-out, hot, trade war against China.

But the US China cold trade war will definitely continue as there will be more US trade actions against China, and more Chinese trade actions against the US.  Both countries will feel the pain.

But the relationship will become even more complicated as the EC in response to the WTO December 11, 2016 deadline to grant China market economy status proposed on November 9th amending its antidumping and countervailing law to provide that although for WTO members normal value is determined on the basis of actual prices and costs in the foreign market, in certain circumstances, e.g., China, where prices and costs are distorted because of government intervention and not free market forces, the EC Commission can look at prices and costs outside China.

EC PROPOSES CHANGES TO ITS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING LAW TO IN EFFECT CONTINUE TO TREAT CHINA AS A NONMARKET ECONOMY COUNTRY

On November 9, 2016 the European Commission issued the attached proposed “Regulation of the European Parliament and Of The Council,” ec-china-market-economy-regs, on the way to calculate normal value for certain nonmarket economy countries, specifically China.

The EC Commission has proposed amending its antidumping law to provide that although for WTO members normal value is determined on the basis of actual prices and costs in the foreign market, in certain circumstances, where prices and costs are distorted because of government intervention and not free market forces, e.g., China, the EC Commission can look at prices and costs outside China, stating specifically if:

domestic prices and costs would not provide a reasonable basis to determine the normal value. This could be the case, for instance, when prices or costs are not the result of free market forces because they are affected by government intervention. Relevant considerations in this respect include, for instance, the fact that the market in question is to a significant extent served by enterprises which operate under the ownership, control or policy supervision or guidance of the authorities of the exporting country; the state presence in firms allowing the state to interfere with respect to prices or costs; the existence of public policies or measures discriminating in favour of domestic suppliers or otherwise influencing free market forces; and the access to finance granted by institutions implementing public policy objectives.

In such circumstances, it would be inappropriate to use domestic prices and costs to determine the value at which the like product should be normally sold (“the normal value”) and a new provision (Article 2(6)a) stipulates that the normal value would instead be constructed on the basis of costs of production and sale reflecting undistorted prices or benchmarks. For this purpose, the sources that may be used would include undistorted international prices, costs, or benchmarks, or corresponding costs of production and sale in an appropriate representative country with a similar level of economic development as the exporting country.

This methodology would allow the Commission to establish and measure the actual magnitude of dumping being practised in normal market conditions absent distortions.

For the sake of transparency and efficiency, the Commission services intend to issue public reports describing the specific situation concerning the market circumstances in any given country or sector. Of importance, the EU industry would be in a position to rely on and refer to the information contained in these reports when alleging in a complaint or a request for review that the domestic prices and costs in the exporting country are unsuitable to determine the normal value. Such reports and the evidence on which it is based would also be placed on the file of any investigation relating to that country or sector so that all interested parties would be in a position to express their views and comments.  . . .

In the light of experience gained in past proceedings, it is appropriate to clarify the circumstances in which significant distortions affecting to a considerable extent free market forces may be deemed to exist. In particular, it is appropriate to clarify that this situation may be deemed to exist, inter alia, when reported prices or costs, including the costs of raw materials, are not the result of free market forces because they are affected by government intervention. It is further appropriate to clarify that in considering whether or not such a situation exists regard may be had, inter alia, to the potential impact of the following: the market in question is to a significant extent served by enterprises which operate under the ownership, control or policy supervision or guidance of the authorities of the exporting country; state presence in firms allowing the state to interfere with respect to prices or costs; public policies or measures discriminating in favour of domestic suppliers or otherwise influencing free market forces; and access to finance granted by institutions implementing  public policy objectives. It is further appropriate to provide that the Commission services  may issue a report describing the specific situation concerning these criteria in a certain country or a certain sector; that such report and the evidence on which it is based may be placed on the file of any investigation relating to that country or sector . . . .

It is further appropriate to recall that costs should normally be calculated on the basis of records kept by the exporter or producer under investigation. However, where there are significant distortions in the exporting country with the consequence that costs reflected in the records of the party concerned are artificially low, such costs may be adjusted or established on any reasonable basis, including information from other representative markets or from international prices or benchmarks. In the light of experience gained in past proceedings, it is appropriate to further clarify that, for the purposes of applying the provisions introduced by this regulation, due account should be taken of all relevant evidence, including relevant assessment reports regarding the circumstances prevailing on the domestic market of the exporting producers and the evidence on which they are based, which has been placed on the file, and upon which interested parties have had an opportunity to . . .

Article 1

Regulation (EU) 2016/1036 is amended as follows:

In Article 2 the following paragraph 6a is inserted:

‘6a. (a) In case it is determined, when applying this provision or any other relevant provision of this Regulation, that it is not appropriate to use domestic prices and costs in the exporting country due to the existence of significant distortions, the normal value shall be constructed on the basis of costs of production and sale reflecting undistorted prices or benchmarks. For this purpose, the sources that may be used include undistorted international prices, costs, or benchmarks, or corresponding costs of production and sale in an appropriate representative country with a similar level of economic development as the exporting country, provided the relevant cost data are readily available. The constructed normal value shall include a reasonable amount for administrative, selling and general costs and for profits.

Significant distortions for the product concerned within the meaning of point (a) may be deemed to exist, inter alia, when reported prices or costs, including the costs of raw materials, are not the result of free market forces as they are affected by government intervention. In considering whether or not significant distortions exist regard may be had, inter alia, to the potential impact of the following: the market in question is to a significant extent served by enterprises which operate under the ownership, control or policy supervision or guidance of the authorities of the exporting country; state presence in firms allowing the state to interfere with respect to prices or costs; public policies or measures discriminating in favour of domestic suppliers or otherwise influencing free market forces; and access to finance granted by institutions implementing public policy objectives.

In Article 11(4), the following subparagraph is added:

‘In the case of a transition from a normal value calculated pursuant to the former Articles 2(7)(a) or 2(7)(b) to a normal value calculated pursuant to paragraphs 1 to 6a of Article 2, any review pursuant to this paragraph shall be deferred to the date on which the first expiry review following such transition is initiated.’

STEEL TRADE CASES

CERTAIN CARBON AND ALLOY STEEL CUT TO LENGTH PLATE FROM AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, CHINA, FRANCE GERMANY, ITALY, JAPAN, KOREA AND TAIWAN

On November 7, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-multiple-ctl-plate-ad-prelim-11082016, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the antidumping duty investigations of imports of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from Austria, Belgium, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

For Austria, the antidumping rate is 41.97%.  For Belgium, the antidumping rate ranges from 2.41 to 8.5%.  For China, the antidumping rate is 68.27%.  For France, the antidumping rate ranges from 4.26 to 12.97%.  For Germany, the antidumping rate ranges from 0 to 6.56%.  For Italy, the antidumping rate ranges from 6.10 to 130.63%.  For Japan, the antidumping rate ranges from 14.96 to 48.64%.  For Korea the antidumping rate is 6.82%.  For Taiwan, the antidumping rate ranges from 3.51 to 28%.

CIRCULAR WELDED CARBON-QUALITY STEEL PIPE FROM OMAN, PAKISTAN, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, AND VIETNAM

On October 24, 2016, Commerce in the attached fact sheet, pipe, announced its affirmative final determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) investigations of imports of circular welded carbon- quality steel pipe from Oman, Pakistan, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam, and countervailing duty (CVD) investigation of imports of circular welded carbon-quality steel pipe from Pakistan.

For Oman, the antidumping rate is 7.24%.  For Pakistan, the antidumping rate is 11.08% and the countervailing duty rate is 64.81%.  For United Arab Emirates the antidumping rates range from 5.58% to 6.43%.  For Vietnam the antidumping rate ranges from 0 to 113%

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

With the election of Donald Trump, as stated in my last newsletter, the Universal Trade War will continue.  In addition to the US bringing antidumping and countervailing duty cases, countries around the World, such as EC, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia Thailand, South Africa, and Vietnam, all are filing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against each other and the United States.  These countries have adopted the US law which finds dumping in 90% of the cases.  The US and the EC have created a Frankenstein in the antidumping law and the whole World has adopted it.

Compromise is the best way to settle trade disputes, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to settle US antidumping and other trade cases.  What is “fair” trade for the United States is “fair” trade for every other country.  Many countries want to make their industries Great again.

Because of this situation, this part of the newsletter will concentrate on antidumping and countervailing duty cases in other countries.

CHINA

Set forth below are two articles by Chinese trade lawyers on how to respond in Chinese trade cases against the United States and other countries.

ROLAND ZHU, ALLBRIGHT LAW FIRM

A General Description of Anti-Dumping Regulation

of the People’s Republic of China

by Roland Zhu, Allbright Law Firm

In order to maintain foreign trade order and fair competition, China’s Ministry of Commerce (hereinafter referred to as “MOFCOM”) is responsible for conducting anti-dumping investigations against foreign exporters in case that imported products enter the market of the People’s Republic of China by way of dumping, and cause material damage or constitute a threat of material damage to an already established domestic industry, or cause a material impediment to the establishment of a domestic industry in accordance with the Foreign Trade Law of the People’s Republic of China, Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Anti-Dumping and Interim Rules on Placing Cases on File for Antidumping Investigations, which are effective and applicable law.

Where there exists dumping or may exist dumping, an anti-dumping investigation may arise. A complete set of anti-dumping investigation procedure usually follows these steps:

  1. MOFCOM may place a case on file for antidumping investigations upon the application of an applicant; it may also place a case on file on its own initiative for anti-dumping investigations.
  2. MOFCOM shall, within 60 days as of its receipt of the application letter and the relevant evidence submitted by the applicant, examine whether the application is filed by the domestic industry or filed by representing the domestic industry, the contents of the application letter and the evidence attached to it, etc., and shall decide to initiate an investigation or not. Prior to the decision to initiate an investigation, the government of the exporting country (region) concerned shall be notified.
  3. MOFCOM shall publish the decision to initiate an investigation and notify the applicant, the known exporters and importers, the government of the exporting country (region) and other interested organizations and parties (hereinafter collectively referred to as “the interested parties”). As soon as the decision to initiate an investigation is published, MOFCOM shall provide the full text of the written application to the known exporters and the government of the exporting country (region).
  4. MOFCOM may conduct an investigation and collect information from the interested parties by, among other methods, sending questionnaires, using samples, holding public hearings and making on-the-spot verification.
  5. MOFCOM shall, on the basis of its findings, make a preliminary determination on dumping and injury, as well as on whether there exists a causal link between dumping and injury. The preliminary determination shall be published by MOFCOM.
  6. In cases where a preliminary determination on dumping, injury and the causal link between the two is affirmative, MOFCOM shall conduct further investigations on dumping, the dumping margin, the injury and its degree, and, make a final determination on the basis of its findings. The final determination shall be published by MOFCOM. Before the final determination is made, MOFCOM shall inform all known interested parties of the essential facts on which the final determination is based.
  7. An anti-dumping investigation shall be concluded within 12 months from the date of publication of the decision to initiate the investigation, and the period may be extended in special circumstances, but in no case shall the extension be more than 6 months.
  8. The anti-dumping measures taken by MOFCOM shall include provisional anti-dumping measures, price undertakings and anti-dumping duties. The period for applying the provisional anti-dumping measures shall not exceed four months from the effective date set forth in the public notice regarding the decision on provisional anti-dumping measures, and, in special circumstances, may be extended to nine months. The period for the levy of an anti-dumping duty and fulfillment of a price undertaking shall not exceed five years, and may be extended if, as a result of the review, it is determined that the termination of the anti-dumping duty would possibly lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping and injury.
  9. The review proceedings shall be conducted with reference to the relevant provisions of Regulations of the People’s Republic of China on Anti-Dumping. Any review shall be concluded within 12 months from the date of the decision of initiation of such a review.

Answers to General Questions about Chinese Antidumping cases are listed below or you may refer to the general description of Chinese anti-dumping regulations.

  1. Information on recent cases filed in China against other countries

Answer: Please see the table below, which summarizes recent cases filed in China during the year of 2016 against other countries are:

Initiation Date  Subject Merchandise  Investigation Type  Countries

1/12/2016  Dried Distiller Grains        AD and CVD             USA

2/5/2016    Pyridine                                AD Interim Review  Japan and India

4/20/2015   Vinyldine Chloride           Initial AD Review       Japan

Vinyl Chloride Copolymer Resin

9/22/2016     Sugar                        Safeguard       Multiple Countries  including Brazil/Argentina

  1. What agency makes the AD and CVD decision? What agency makes the injury determination? How long does the initial investigation take?  Are there mandatory companies?

Answer: The Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (the “Bureau”) makes the AD and CVD decisions as well as the injury determinations. An anti-dumping or countervailing investigation shall be concluded within 12 months from the date of publication of the decision to initiate the investigation, and the period may be extended in special circumstances, but in no case shall the extension be more than 6 months. There are mandatory companies in China’s AD investigation. The applicant, the known exporters and importers, the government of the exporting country (region) and other interested organizations and parties can register to the Bureau in order to participate in this anti-dumping investigation within 20 days from the date of promulgation of the initial announcement. The Bureau selects the respondents among those who have submitted dumping sampling questionnaire by using sampling survey. For other interested parties, including those are not chosen to answer the investigation questionnaire and those don’t register to the Bureau, the Bureau may make determinations on the basis of the facts already known and the best information available.

  1. Is the Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty law prospective or retrospective, retroactive liability? Is there a public interest test? Are there annual reviews?  How long do the orders stay in place?

Answer:  For retrospective issues you mentioned above, according to the Article 93 of Legislation Law of the People’s Republic of China, Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty law shall not be retroactive, but the regulations formulated specially for the purpose of better protecting the rights and interests of citizens, legal persons and other organizations are excepted. The period for the levy of an anti-dumping duty shall not exceed 5 years, and may be extended as appropriate if, as a result of the review, it is determined that the termination of the anti-dumping duty would possibly lead to continuation or recurrence of dumping and injury. A midterm review may be conducted upon request by the interested parties and on the basis of examination of the relevant evidence submitted by the interested parties.

  1. Are there special rules for Non Market Economy Countries?

Answer:  There are no such special rules in China.

Attached are several weekly newsletters, teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-38 teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-39 teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-40, issued by Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office.

FRANK HANG, GLOBAL LAW OFFICE

How Should Foreign Companies Respond to an Antidumping Investigation in China

  1. Definition of Dumping

According to Chinese Law, dumping consists of three factors-Dumping, Injury and Causation. As for the calculation of Dumping Margin, the following shall be taken into consideration:

  • Dumping Margin= (Normal Value-Export Price)/CIF Price
  • Normal Value and Export Price shall be compared on the same level, usually ex-factory level
  • Comparison: a. weighted average Normal Value to weighted average Export Price; b. transaction-to-transaction comparison of Normal Value and Export Price; c. weighted average Normal Value to each transaction Export Price.

When calculating the Normal Value, the following methods are chosen by MOFCOM:

  • Domestic Sales Price
  • Constructed Value=Production Cost + S G & A + Reasonable Profit
  • Export Price to a Third Country (Region)

In terms of category of AD Duty, China’s normal practice is to assign antidumping rates to producers, not trading companies. And there are 3 different types of rates for the enterprises to bear:

  • Individual Rate
  • Weighted Average Rate
  • Country-wide Rate (Best Information Available, BIA)

When it comes to Injury Analysis, several factors shall be considered by MOFCOM: Imported Volume, Imported Price and other factors such as actual and potential decline of domestic industry in sales, profits, output, market share, productivity, return on investment or utilization of capacity, etc., factors affecting domestic prices; the magnitude of the margin of dumping, the actual or potential negative effects of the dumped imports on the domestic industry’s cash flow, inventories, employment, wages, growth, ability of capital raising or investment, etc.

Cumulative Assessment means that the margin of dumping established in relation to the dumped imports from each country (region) is no less than 2 percent, and the volume of such imports from each country (region) is not negligible. It is negligible if the volume of the dumped imports from a particular country (region) is found to account for less than 3 percent of the total imports of the like products, unless countries (regions) which individually account for less than 3 percent of the total imports of the like products collectively account for more than 7 percent of the total imports of the like products.

  1. AD Investigating Procedures

In China, the AD Investigating Authority is MOFCOM Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau who is not only in charge of determination of dumping margin but also in charge of determination of injury and causation. 

Following procedures in a Chinese AD Investigation Case: Filing of the Petition are:

Filing Responding Registration, Issuing Questionnaires, Submitting Questionnaire Responses, Preliminary Determination, Public Hearing, On-site Verification, Final Determination, Price Undertaking, Administrative Reconsideration, Administrative Lawsuit, Interim Review, Sun-set Review, New Shipper Review, etc.

Within 10 working days after the deadline of filing the responding registration, the investigating authority will issue questionnaires to the registered companies. If the registered companies are numerous, the investigating authority will use sampling (usually 2 mandatory companies for each country/area).

It is important to note that foreign producers/foreign exporters must submit their responding registration documents to the investigating authority within 20 days as of the date of initiation through a PRC practicing attorney or by themselves. If they fail to do so, foreign producers will be treated as non-cooperative and MOFCOM will use the best information available (“BIA”) to make determination.

For the respondents, when submitting Questionnaire Response, they need to keep in mind that the questionnaire response must be submitted to the investigating authority within 37 days as of the date of the issuance of the questionnaires. The responding companies may apply for extension and the investigating authorities usually only give an extension of 7 days. And the questionnaire responses must be submitted through a PRC practicing attorney. After receiving the questionnaire responses, the investigating authority will review them and issue the supplementary questionnaires if certain questions require clarification or explanation further.

In an Interim Review, an application for interim review shall be filed within 30 days as of the expiration date of each year after the effective date of AD measures. The producers applying for interim reviews must have exported the subject merchandise to China within a period of 12 months prior to the application, and the export referred must have been made in sufficient quantities.

  1. Key Points of AD Defense Strategies
  • Establishing an overall responding strategy before submitting the questionnaire responses to MOFCOM;
  • Collaborating with the respondent’s department of administration, sales, production, finance, in-house counsel, foreign attorneys, PRC attorneys closely and efficiently;
  • Accountant’s role is important in the calculation of dumping margin;
  • Well-prepared for on-site verification;
  • Communicating effectively with MOFCOM officials at different levels;
  • Cooperate with other respondents on non-injury defense;
  • Leverage the exporting country (region)’s government;
  • Obtaining support from importers and down-stream companies.

INDIA

Attached is a newsletter, ls-international-trade-amicus-september-2016, from the Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan Law Firm in New Delhi on Indian antidumping law.

CUSTOMS LAW

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

On October 26, 2016, the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “Homeland Security Probes U.S. Aluminum Firms Over Chinese Imports” reported that Federal investigators had launched an investigation into whether Liu Zhongtian, a Chinese billionaire and the founder and chairman of aluminum giant China Zhongwang Holdings Ltd., was engaged in transshipment of aluminum extrusions to the United States in violation of US civil and criminal laws.

Commerce is investigating whether a New Jersey company, Aluminum Shapes LLC, imported pallets to remelt as a way to avoid a countervailing duty rate of 374%, part of a broader probe into Mr. Liu’s activities. The Commerce Department said preliminary findings would be released in coming weeks. Aluminum Shapes last month denied that the pallets were used as raw material for its plant.

Homeland Security is also investigating whether nearly one million tons of aluminum shipped to Aluminicaste Fundición de México, a factory once owned by Mr. Liu’s son, were part of an effort to evade U.S. tariffs by routing the metal through another country to disguise its origins.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES

OPTICAL FIBERS

On October 31, 2016, DSM Deso Tech, Inc. and DSM IP Assets B.V. filed a 337 patent case against UV Curable Coatings for Optical Fibers, Coated Optical Fibers, and Products from China.  The relevant parts of the ITC notice along with the names of the Chinese respondent companies are below.

Commodity:

UV Curable Coatings for Optical Fibers, Coated Optical Fibers, and Products

Filed By:
Christine E. Lehman

Firm/Organization:
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett, & Dunner, LLP

Behalf Of:

DSM Deso Tech, Inc. and DSM IP Assets B.V.

Description:

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain UV Curable Coating for Optical Fibers, Coated Optional Fibers, and Products Containing Same. The proposed respondents are Momentive UV Coatings (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., China and OFS Fitel, LLC, Norcross, Georgia.

SWEETENERS

On October 27, 2016, Celanese filed a 337 patent case against High Potency Sweeteners, ACE-K, from China.  The relevant parts of the ITC notice along with the names of the Chinese respondent companies are below.

Commodity:

High-Potency Sweeteners

Filed By:

Joshua B. Pond

Firm/Organization:

Kilpatrick Townsend & Stockton LLP

Behalf Of:
Celanese International Corporation, Celanese Sales U.S. Ltd. and Celanese IP Hungary Bt

Description:

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain High-Potency Sweeteners, Processes for Making Same, and Products Containing Same. The proposed respondents are Suzhou Hope Technology Co., Ltd., China; Anhui Jinhe Industrial Co., Ltd., China; and Vitasweet Co., Ltd.,   China.

MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES

On October 14, 2016, Qualcomm filed a 337 patent case against Mobile Electronic Devices from China.  The relevant parts of the ITC notice along with the names of the Chinese respondent companies are below.

Received:

Friday, October 14, 2016

Commodity:

Mobile Electronic Devices

Filed By:

Blaney Harper

Firm/Organization:

Jones Day

Behalf Of:

Qualcomm Incorporated

Description:

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Mobile Electronic Devices. The proposed respondents are Zhuhai Meizu Technology Co., Ltd., China; Zhuhai Meizu Telecom Equipment Co., Ltd., China; Dest Technology Limited, China; LGYD Limited, China; and Overseas Electronics, Inc., Chicago, IL.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

US CHINA TRADE WAR–UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR, TPP IN LAME DUCK, SPOTTING POTENTIAL AD CASES, CUSTOMS, FALSE CLAIMS ACT, VITAMIN C ANTITRUST, IP AND 337

Lotus Garden Boat Buildings Yue Feng Pagoda Summer Palace BeijinTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR OCTOBER 7, 2016

INTERVIEW ON WHAT US COMPANIES CAN DO IN THE PRESENT TRADE CRISIS

Just did an interview on what US companies can do to cope with the current trade crisis.  Hope you will find it of interest.  http://www.turbineagency.com/industry-insights/2016/10/25/accelerateb2b-how-do-global-trade-deals-really-impact-us-businesses

Dear Friends,

This blog post contains several new article and articles that have been posted on the Harris Moure blog, www.chinalawblog.com from the HM Trade Practice Group, including Adams Lee, Emily Lawson and myself.  The new articles also reflect my discussions during my recent three-week trip to China meeting with various Chinese companies, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”), and Chinese trade lawyers.

The most important point is that the US China Trade War is expanding and has now become a universal trade war.  Although the US continues to bring numerous antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) cases against China, the Chinese government is now bringing and will bring numerous AD and CVD cases against the US.

In the recent Chinese antidumping case against Distiller Grains from the US, the Chinese government has levied a 33% rate against $1.6 billion in US exports to China.  There are rumors that the Chinese government may soon bring AD and CVD cases targeting $15 billion in US exports of soybeans to China.

Meanwhile numerous countries have adopted their own AD and CVD laws modeled on the US and EU and are bringing cases not only against China, but also against the US.

The only recent trade developments that would break the retaliation cycle are the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the TTIP deal with Europe and both trade agreements are in serious trouble.

In addition, set forth below are articles on how to spot an AD and CVD trade case coming and what do when your company is a target of a trade case, magnesium and steel cases, trade cases against Europe, and Trade Adjustment Assistance by David Holbert, who heads the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.  In addition, there are a number of articles on Customs law, False Claims Act, including an FCA case against Furniture and Customs enforcement action against Honey.  Finally, there is an article on recent Second Circuit Decision in the Vitamin C Antitrust Case and the antidumping back story, a Criminal Trade Secrets case, a new 337 case and the Section 337 article translated into Chinese.

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 POLICY AND TPP

US CHINA ANTIDUMPING TRADE WAR IS NOW A UNIVERSAL ANTIDUMPING TRADE WAR

As Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton duel during the Presidential debate about who can be more protectionist, during my recent trip to China I learned that what was once a US China Trade War has now become a universal trade war.  Country after country have adopted the US and EC Antidumping law and are filing case after case against other countries and the US.

Thus countries, such as EC, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia Thailand, South Africa, and Vietnam, all are filing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against each other and the United States.  These countries have adopted the US law which finds dumping in 90% of the cases.  The US and the EC have created a Frankenstein in the antidumping law and the whole World has adopted it.

Although Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton and many US politicians want to adopt a mercantilist trade policy which favors pushing exports and protecting US industries from imports, the US politicians simply do not understand retaliation.  What the US can do to other countries, those countries can do back.  President Reagan understood the retaliation danger of protectionism and a mercantilist trade policy, but many present day US politicians do not.  So all of these countries are following the US lead and implementing a mercantilist trade policy.

Free trade agreements, such as the TPP and the TTIP, which would break this cycle are now all in deep trouble as each country wants to put its industries first and make their country and industries great again.  The rise in nationalism results in trade wars in which country after country will fire trade guns against each other.  As Jack Ma of Alibaba recently mentioned on CNN, real wars start when trade stops.  See http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/02/technology/jack-ma-alibaba-g20/

During my recent trip to China, in the attached notice, ddgs-list-of-dumping-margin-of-each-company_en ddgs-preliminary-finding-summary-translation_en, on September 23, 2016, the Chinese government announced a 33% preliminary antidumping duty targeting $1.6 billion in imports from the United States of DDGS, Distiller’s Dried Grains with or without Solubles, which is used as an ingredient for animal feed.

During this trip, officials at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) told me that more trade cases will be coming next year against the US.  In fact, there are rumors that the Chinese government will soon bring an AD and CVD case targeting $15 billion in US soybean exports to China.  This is the number one US export to China.  Now that China is bringing more trade cases against the US, these cases will hurt US companies and the jobs that go with them.

On the US side, the election of either Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton in November will mean more US trade cases next year against not only China, but many other countries as well.

On September 22, 2016, MOFCOM in China initiated an escape clause/safeguard action against Sugar from Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Australia, South Korea and Thailand alleging tariffs up to 155.90%.

On September 15, 2016, India brought its own antidumping case against Polybutadiene Rubber from South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Iran and Singapore.

Taiwan has brought a Steel antidumping case against China.

More and more cases will be filed in 2017 around the World and many will target the United States, China, and numerous other countries.  Compromise is the best way to settle trade disputes, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to settle US antidumping and other trade cases.  What is “fair” trade for the United States is “fair” trade for every other country.  Many countries want to make their industries Great again.

TPP IN THE LAME DUCK KEEPS ON TICKING

As mentioned in my last blog post, 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.  Many Congressional leaders appeared to  oppose tbringing up TPP in the Lame Duck.  But with Hilary Clinton’s resurgence in the Polls after the first debate, there is more talk about the TPP coming up in the Lame Duck, the period after the Presidential election and before the end of the year, as President Obama pushes hard for passage of the legislation.

On September 16, 2016, Ohio Governor Republican John Kasich in an interview with CNN stated that he supports passage of the TPP and will support President Obama in this legislative push in the Lame Duck.  See http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/15/politics/john-kasich-trans-pacific-partnership/index.html

Governor Kasich made clear that he feels “it’s his “responsibility and duty as a leader” — no matter the political cost — to help President Barack Obama push the Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress.

Kasich stated that

“I have never been an ideological supporter of free trade. The ideologues used to come to me and be frustrated with me.  But when you look at these agreements in a real sense – and this one is much different than even NAFTA.”

Kasich added that when Russian and Chinese leaders oppose the TPP, that is one reason to vote for the TPP, “We have to do this.”

Kasich further stated,

“This is the first time the candidates in both major political parties say they are opposed to free trade. It’s astounding to me.  I welcome the fact that people will criticize me for putting my country ahead of my party.”

The interview came after Kasich met with President Obama in the Oval Office with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former George W. Bush administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and others for a meeting on the 12-nation Pacific Rim deal.

Kasich further stated:

“This is an opportunity for the Congress to carry out its responsibility. Frankly, if I have to come down here and spend some time lobbying my Republican colleagues, I’m more than glad to do that.

There’s definitely some people I can call and talk to.  This is a big deal. I mean, if we were to just walk away with this — with both candidates saying they don’t want this — we turn our backs on Asia.

He also played down the political potency of Trump’s anti-trade position in manufacturing-heavy Ohio, saying it’s not why Trump might win the state.

On September 26, 2016, Robert Samuelson, a well-known economist, published an article entitled “Will TPP Rise from the Dead”, stating:

With Obama’s term ending and his already-modest influence eroding by the day, TPP seems dead. But it may still be in intensive care.

In a speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee whose jurisdiction includes trade agreements, said that the TPP could still be ratified in the lame-duck session after the election and before a new Congress takes office.

Samuelson went on to state that Brady gave two major reasons to approve the TPP.

First, geopolitical:  The TPP would enhance US influence in the Pacific region and offset China’s growing economic and political power. TPP would give the United States a major role in regulating global commerce in the 21s century. The trade agreement codifies rules on “intellectual property” (patents, copyrights), data flows and state-owned firms

Ratification would be a strong signal to Asia that the United States intends to remain a Pacific power.

“The second reason is economic: Asia remains a fast-growing region. TPP would eliminate most tariffs among the 12 member countries, aiding American exporters in these markets. The advantage may be particularly important in services (tourism, consulting, finance and engineering), where U.S. firms are especially strong. In 2015, the United States had a $762 billion deficit in goods trade (machinery, steel, medical equipment) and a $262 billion surplus in services trade, leaving an overall deficit of $500 billion.  According to the Peterson Institute, the 12 countries in the TPP accounted for about 36% of the world economy and 24% of global trade in 2014.”

Samuelson goes on to quote Brady on why he does not dismiss TPP’s prospects as bleak, “People change once they get into office.”

Samuelson then states:

Translation: The campaign’s anti-trade and anti-globalization rhetoric might recede before the realities of governing. Although Brady didn’t say so, one implication is that a victorious Hillary Clinton might put up only token opposition to TPP, both because the case for approval is strong and because she might feel obligated to Obama for his political support.

But Brady went on to state that getting a deal would be difficult. With many Democrats adamantly opposed to TPP, President Obama would need to rely on Republicans to approve the agreement. But if President Obama cannot round up enough Democratic votes to ensure victory, Republicans will not go out on a political limb and bring the agreement up during the Lame Duck.

“We are running out of time,” Brady told the Peterson audience. As Samuelson stated, “The TPP may yet wind up in the political morgue.”

TRADE

CHINA IMPORTS: KNOW YOUR RISKS

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

Every year U.S. producers file 10-15 petitions asking the U.S. government to investigate whether certain products imported into the US are sold at unfair prices (antidumping or AD) or are unfairly subsidized (countervailing duty or CVD). Many of the AD/CVD cases target products imported from China. Odds are good that at least two new AD/CVD petitions will be filed by Halloween and as many as five by year end.

Our clients often ask our international trade lawyers how they can determine the likelihood of a AD/CVD petition that could adversely affect their ability to compete in the US market. Each AD/CVD petition is unique to the product and industry it covers, but most AD/CVD investigations fall within a handful of categories. Understanding what has led to the filing of previous AD/CVD petitions can help you as a producer, exporter, or importer, recognize if and when to expect a new AD/CVD petition that could directly affect you. The following are some of the indicators you should be checking to determine whether your imported into the USA product will be next.

The Regulars. Certain domestic industries have been frequent filers of AD/CVD actions. Companies in these industries are veterans of AD/CVD actions; they don’t ask if a new petition will be filed, only when it will be filed.

  • Steel of all types (carbon steel, stainless steel, flat products, pipe, rebar, wire rod, wire, etc.) from all over the world. The latest wave of steel AD/CVD investigations are being completed with high AD/CVD margins in most cases.
  • Softwood Lumber from Canada. The latest round of the US-Canada Lumber wars is set to begin as new AD/CVD petitions are likely to be filed in October 2016. Filing a new AD/CVD petition may be necessary to push US-Canada negotiations to a meaningful level.

The Big Box Effect. When Walmart, Lowes, or Target switch their sourcing of a product from a domestic manufacturer to a foreign (read Chinese) one, it is quite common for the jilted domestic supplier to file an AD/CVD petition in an effort to save their business. Boltless steel shelving units, wood flooring, ironing tables, and candles are all examples of this, and all involving products from China.

US Products Squeezed by Imports. It is not uncommon for an AD/CVD petition to be filed by a US producer that makes a higher quality product but is starting to lose out to foreign producers with lower quality but cheaper products. Frozen shrimp from multiple countries, garlic from China, and wooden bedroom furniture from China are some examples of this.

Pressure from Downstream Customers. Many AD/CVD petitions involve products that are material inputs used to make a downstream finished product. Petitions can be triggered by larger downstream producers switching to, or just threatening to switch to imports to pressure smaller upstream suppliers to lower prices.  Many chemical products from China, tire products from China and other countries, kitchen racks from China are examples of this.

AD/CVD Actions on Upstream ProductsSometimes AD/CVD actions filed by other domestic industries trickle down and harm downstream domestic industries. For example, US wire rod producers filed AD/CVD petitions that resulted in AD/CVD duties against imported wire rod. But these wire rod duties ended up hurting US wire producers, who in turn filed their own AD/CVD duties against imported wire.

Dying Dinosaurs/Last Survivors. Some AD/CVD petitions are filed by the remaining members of a nearly extinct domestic industry dealing with decreasing demand and increased import pressure. Sometimes the AD/CVD actions allow the surviving US producers to stay in the US market protected from import competition.  Examples of this are wooden bedroom furniture, magnesium and innersprings from China.

Other Countries’ AD/CVD actions. The US is not the only country that acts to protect its domestic industries from unfair foreign trade. AD/CVD actions filed in Canada, India, the EU, Brazil, and even China are warning signs of industries facing tight competitive pressure. Imports blocked from one market are often diverted to other available markets. A prime example of this are products from China which first had AD/CVD filed in the EU before the US took action.

All of the above scenarios are good indicators of an imminent filing of a new United States’ AD/CVD petition, so if you are seeing these market conditions in your industry, an AD/CVD petition is probably in your near future.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN THE CUSTOMS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY BOGEYMAN IS COMING AFTER YOUR IMPORTED CHINA PRODUCTS

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

In China Imports Know Your Risks (above), I wrote about how companies can recognize impending antidumping (AD) or countervailing duty (CVD) petitions. In this post I address what you as an importer, exporter or foreign producer should do if you see an AD/CVD storm looming.

The first thing you should do is determine whether the AD/CVD petition will directly hit your primary operations. The second thing you should do is figure out how best to defend yourself interests if the AD/CVD petition is headed directly your way. The third thing you should do if you do get hit by AD/CVD duties is to figure out damage control going forward.

  1. New AD/CVD Petition – Are my products affected? AD/CVD petitions include a proposed scope definition that identifies the products covered. AD/CVD scope definitions can be complicated and unclear. They may be broader or narrower than the Customs tariff classifications normally used to identify such imports. Even if you think your products are outside the scope of the petition, U.S. Customs may disagree. U.S. Customs commonly demands that you first pay an AD/CVD deposit, assuming that your products are within the scope of the AD/CVD petition, and then Customs will return your deposit only if you get a Department of Commerce (DOC) ruling that your products are actually outside the scope. For example, with aluminum extrusions from China, the DOC has received around a hundred scope ruling requests to clarify whether certain products are included or excluded from the scope of that order.

Once you know the scope definition, you can evaluate the degree to which the AD/CVD action could impact your business.  Sometimes you and your customer can find alternatives to replace the subject AD/CVD products with either non-subject products or by your sourcing from non-subject countries. If you have options to switch away from the products covered by the AD/CVD action, it may not be necessary to participate in the AD/CVD investigation.

  1. AD/CVD investigations – How to defend? If your product is squarely within the scope of the AD/CVD petition and the U.S. market is worth fighting for, you should determine the best way to prepare for the AD/CVD investigation. If you have enough time before a petition is filed, you theoretically can try to adjust your sales to remedy whatever is causing the dumped or subsidized sales, most commonly by raising your prices for certain products or customers or by modifying your production operations by lowering or reallocating costs. Unfortunately, most companies are not proactive about planning to avoid AD/CVD actions and instead react only after a petition is filed. We find this especially true of our clients that import from China, as opposed to Europe.

Once an AD/CVD investigation is initiated, foreign producers and exporters and US importers should try to defend their interests before the two agencies responsible for making AD/CVD determinations: The International Trade Commission (ITC) determines whether a domestic industry is injured or threatened with injury by reason of the subject imports and the Department of Commerce (DOC) determines how much the subject imports are dumped or subsidized.

In ITC investigations, the best defenses are presented when the foreign producers, US importers, and US purchasers can organize and explain why the subject imports should not be blamed for any decline in the domestic industry’s performance. Because the ITC examines a broad range of data regarding the US market for the subject product, a comprehensive explanation of relevant market conditions is necessary to a winning argument.

In DOC investigations, the foreign producer and exporters are the primary respondents to the DOC’s questionnaires. These companies must provide extensive corporate structure, sales and cost data, often through multiple rounds of questionnaires. The DOC uses the submitted data to calculate AD/CVD margins.  Unaffiliated US importers usually do not need to submit data in DOC investigations and reviews, but they often will closely monitor the DOC’s proceedings because they will ultimately be responsible for paying the AD/CVD duties. See Sourcing Product From China: You Should Know About Importer of Record Liability.

The key to any AD/CVD defense is participating fully in both the DOC’s and the ITC’s investigations. If you don’t participate, you have no chance of winning. If a party does not respond on time or with complete responses, the DOC and the ITC can apply the adverse facts available that inevitably lead to higher AD/CVD margins. US importers should at least actively monitor DOC’s proceedings because their final AD/CVD liability often depends on how well the Chinese producers and exporters are able to respond to DOC’s questionnaires. It is not uncommon for the Chinese producer or exporter to mount a weak or no defense, leaving the U.S. importer essentially “holding the bag.” There are many things you can and should do to try to prevent this from happening to you.

  1. How to Plan for Life with AD/CVD. The overwhelming majority of AD/CVD petitions lead to orders for imposing AD/CVD duties.  But depending on the scope definition of the AD/CVD order, it may be possible for you to maintain your business operations by identifying alternative out-of-scope products or by switching your product sourcing to a non-subject country. But in switching sourcing, US importers should be careful to avoid actions that could be considered schemes designed primarily to evade AD/CVD duties, as the DOC can extend orders through circumvention investigations. Customs too can conduct its own investigation of duty evasion allegations.

Also, because the United States uses a retrospective AD/CVD system, foreign suppliers and US importers have the opportunity each year to try to lower their dumping margin. Since AD/CVD duties are “remedial”, foreign producers and U.S. importers have ample opportunity to adjust their production and sales operations so that they can sell “fairly” to the U.S. market, as defined by the U.S. trade laws and with proper planning and disciplined execution, companies can sometimes make even minor adjustments to reduce or eliminate their AD/CVD duty liability.

Bottom Line: You are not without defenses when the AD/CVD bogeyman appears to be heading for you. There are things you can do both to stop it from attacking your business and things you can do to restore your business once attacked.

Editor’s Note: This post focuses on products exported from China to the United States, but its advice applies with equal force to products exported from any other country to the United States and with nearly equal force to products exported from any other country to any other country that also has AD/CVD sanctions.

CAFC MAGNESIUM METAL DECISION

On October 6, 2016, in the attached decision, cafc-magnesium, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Commerce Department’s decision that replacement of stainless steel retorts used to produce magnesium metal was an overhead expense and not a direct cost in the Magnesium Metal from China antidumping case.

STEEL TRADE CASES

CARBON AND ALLOY STEEL CUT-TO-LENGTH PLATE FROM CHINA AND KOREA

On September 7, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, clt-plate-cvd-prelim-fs-090716, Commerce issued an affirmative preliminary CVD determination in the initial investigation of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from China and a negative preliminary determination in the CVD investigation of imports from Korea.

China CVD rate best on all facts available is 210.50% and Korea’s CVD rate is 0.

CARBON AND ALLOY STEEL CUT-TO-LENGTH PLATE FROM BRAZIL, SOUTH AFRICA AND TURKEY

On September 16, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-multiple-ctl-plate-ad-prelim-091616, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the AD investigations of imports of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey.

Brazil’s antidumping rate is 74.52%.  South Africa’s antidumping rates range from 87.72% to 94.14%.  Turkey’s antidumping rates range from 42.02% to 50%.

STAINLESS STEEL SHEET AND STRIP FROM CHINA

On September 12, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-prc-stainless-steel-sheet-strip-ad-prelim-091216, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the AD investigation of imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China.  The antidumping rates range from 63.86% to 76.64%.

TRADE CASES AGAINST EUROPE

EUROPEAN TARGETS IN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO GET BACK IN THE US MARKET AGAIN

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

China is not the only target.  AD cases have been recently filed against a number of European countries, including Carbon and Alloy Steel Plate from Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Italy; Steel Flanges from Italy and Spain; and Rubber from Poland.

In addition, there are outstanding AD and CVD orders against Germany on brass sheet and strip, seamless pipe, sodium nitrite and non-oriented electrical steel.  In addition to Germany, other EU Countries have been hit on various steel products, including a number of stainless steel products, from Spain, Belgium and Italy; brass sheet and strip from France and Italy, isocyanurates from Spain, pasta from Italy, paper from Portugal and Uranium from France. The oldest US AD order in place today is pressure sensitive plastic tape from Italy, which was issued in 1977.

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 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 countries.

The real question many companies may have is how can AD and CVD rates be reduced so that the European company can start exporting to the US again.  US AD and CVD laws 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 electrical steel from Germany was issued in December 2014.   In December 2016, the German producer can request a review investigation of the electrical steel that entered, was actually imported into, the US during the period December 1, 2015 to November 31, 2016.

EU companies may ask that it is too difficult to export a 17 metric ton container of covered product to the US, requesting a nonaffiliated importer to put up an AD of 50 to over 100%, which can require a payment of $1 million USD or more.  In contrast to European law, however, 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 chemical case, we had the exporter put a metric ton of the chemical in question in a container with other products and that metric ton served as the test sale to establish the new AD rate.

EU Companies may also ask how we can make sure that we are not dumping.  The answer is dump proofing and computer programs.  In contrast to China, EU companies are considered market economy companies and, therefore, Commerce must use actual prices and costs in the European country to determine whether it is dumping or not.  Computer programs can be used to reduce the dumping margin significantly by modeling US prices and EU home market prices to eliminate or significantly reduce antidumping rates.

How successful can companies be in reviews?  In one EU Steel case, we dropped the dumping rate from over 17% in the initial investigation to 0% in the review investigation.  In a chemical from China case, we dropped a dumping rate of over 200% to 0%, allowing the Chinese company to become the exclusive exporter of the product for decades per order of the US government.

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

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES

David Holbert, who heads the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”), is writing a series of posts on the NWTAAC website on how Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies helps injured companies injured by imports.  This is the first post.

Imports are Like a Thousand Flash Floods Injuring US Companies That Are Not Competitive

The issue of trade competition and lost jobs is well discussed in the media.  I work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are negatively affected by trade competition, what is often called “trade impact” in policy lingo. It’s a big issue. According to the U.S Trade Representative, the United States’ 30 million SMEs account for nearly two-thirds of net new private sector jobs in recent decades.

For large companies or from a macro-economic perspective, import competition may seem like a rising tide – one that can be anticipated, prepared for or proactively mitigated. For small and medium-sized businesses, not equipped with diverse product lines, resources or change acumen, import competition feels more like a flash flood.

What is it like for those companies?  When trade impact hits, sales drop off, often suddenly.

  • Contract manufacturers build to specification for customers, often larger companies. For this group, trade impact could mean the loss of a major customer moving operations to a foreign country (and finding parts suppliers there), or simply an importer arriving on the scene with lower cost products.
  • For a consumer products company, trade impact will probably first arrive with falling sales to the big retail chains since they are the most sensitive to supplier prices.
  • For a commodity producer things are a little more predictable. There may be a change in currency valuation or the rise of a new industry in a foreign country. Regardless, these highly price sensitive markets will suddenly have a lower price option.
  • Commercial products producers will usually have more time. When imports arrive they will sell to generally more informed customers who usually value factors other than price. But the fall will come, just more slowly.

Sales could fall off for many reasons. How do you know its trade related? You ask or you ask around. It shouldn’t take long to find out.

Imports arrive product by product. Companies move offshore factory by factory.  A domestic company makes that product, is part of the supply chain needed to make the product or is part of that commodity industry. When the imports arrive (or the factory moves), that one company or set of suppliers or community of producers is directly in the way. All of this happens in what can seem to be a relatively normal looking manufacturing neighborhood. Across the street there might be a company making another product that is experiencing no trade competition. Next door a third company might have gone through trade impact years ago and has adjusted. For small and medium sized companies, trade impact can be surprisingly direct and specific.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.

  • A commercial products company makes a specialized tool. A couple of other U.S. and European companies make similar products with some parity between price and features. One year they are at the big industry trade show and see a product, similar to theirs (and the others), but priced about 40% lower. Three months later sales started slipping.
  • A contract manufacturer that machines metal parts had gravitated away from stainless steel to titanium and built for several competitors in the same industry. Foreign producers had mastered stainless steel over the last decade. But as of a recent year, those producers finally mastered titanium as well. One by one, the manufacturer’s customers started buying imports. Once one did, it had a cost advantage, so the others had to go along also.
  • A nut grower was maintaining a slim profit. Then, a certain country decided to incentivize its nut growers to achieve more efficiency and export capability. It took a while, but when the imported nuts started arriving, they were at a price point below break-even for the domestic producer.
  • A safety products producer sold through a variety of retailers. One year, seemingly out of the blue, the big box stores stopped ordering. It didn’t take long to figure out why. A similar imported product was on the shelves at about half the price.

In future posts I’ll cover the steps to recovery. They are many effective tools in the economic recovery toolbox.  In many cases, companies that employed these resources are now unrecognizable through increased scale and product changes. Interestingly, a surprising number become significant exporters.

My role at the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center is to help small and medium-sized companies that are negatively impacted by trade competition through grants of up to $75,000.  Our non-profit organization administers a federal program serving companies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. You can learn more about us at NWTAAC.org.

CUSTOMS LAW

IMPORTING GOODS FROM CHINA: THE RISKS ARE RISING

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

Last month I wrote about how importers from China need to be on their guard since U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented new regulations to investigate allegations of antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) evasion. See Importing From China: One More (New) Thing You Need To Know.

It didn’t take long, as U.S. Customs has already begun its first wave of investigations: Wheatland Tube, a US steel pipe producer, on September 14, 2016 announced it had filed with CBP an allegation of duty evasion on imports of Chinese circular welded steel pipe.

CBP has published a timeline for conducting its investigations and a process diagram (EAPA Investigation Timeline) and this newly filed allegation will be a test case to see how CBP will conduct its new duty evasion investigations. Hopefully, CBP will soon address many of the questions raised by the new regulations. How will parties be allowed to participate? What information from the investigation will be made public? How will CBP define “reasonable suspicion” of duty evasion?

This steel pipe investigation is likely to be the first of many CBP duty evasion investigations that are to come, many (probably most) of which will target Chinese products subject to AD/CVD duties. For how to figure out the risk quotient for the products you import from China, check out China Imports: Know Your Risks.

The new antidumping and countervailing duty regulations will unquestionably require an increased number of importers and foreign manufacturers to formally respond to CBP’s questions in response to allegations. Given the strong political pressure by domestic U.S. industries calling for tougher enforcement of US trade laws (not to mention the rising opposition to free trade among the American populace), Chinese producers and exporters and US importers should be prepared for increased CBP activity. CBP is likely looking to punish someone hard to set an example of their improved enforcement.

Getting Your China Products Through U.S. Customs: The 101

By Emily Lawson, Harris Moure International Trade Group

If you are importing products from China you need to do your homework to make sure your incoming shipments into the United States comply with U.S. Customs laws and regulations. Compliance with U.S. Customs laws and regulations is critical in avoiding your shipments being detained or seized, and/or penalties assessed. Common issues importers of products from China typically face include the following:  

  Not determining proper classification and duty rate for products. If you plan to import and sell on a Delivered Duty Paid basis, you should consider customs duties in your costs and that means you should know all of your applicable duty rates before you import. Also certain products are subject to high antidumping or countervailing duties in addition to regular customs duties, which may be as high as 300%.

   Failing to mark the product with the country of origin of manufacture.  Generally goods of foreign origin for import into the U.S. or immediate containers of the goods must be marked legibly and in a conspicuous location with the country of origin in English. Failure to do so accurately  can result in civil and even possibly criminal penalties.

  Not properly marking wood packing material. All wood packing material for products imported into the U.S. must be properly  treated and marked prior to shipping. Failure to meet the treatment and marking requirements may cause shipments to be delayed and penalties issued. 

  Failing to provide complete commercial invoices. Customs regulations provide that specific data must be included on the commercial invoice for U.S. Customs purposes, including a detailed description of the merchandise, and correct value information. Omission of this information may result in improper declaration to U.S. Customs at the time of import and expose you to penalties.

  Failing to meet other U.S. Government agency requirements.  Goods imported for sale in the U.S. must satisfy the same legal requirements as those goods manufactured in the United States. U.S. Customs enforces the laws of other agencies in the U.S., including, the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety  Commission (CPSC), and the Environmental Protection Agency, in addition to others. Therefore, if toys, for example, are exported to the U.S., detailed CPSC requirements, including for testing, must be met prior to export.

   Distribution of many trademarked and copyrighted items. Items which are trademarked and copyrighted are restricted by contractual agreements that give exclusive rights to specific companies to distribute the product in the U.S. Imports of improperly  trademarked or copyrighted items can be seized at the U.S. border and can subject you as the importer to penalties.

 Taking the time to identify  the required U.S. Customs laws and regulations for the products to be shipped to the U.S. from China will help you maintain seamless delivery  of your merchandise to U.S. customers and avoid civil and criminal penalty  exposure.

FALSE CLAIMS HAMMER GETS BIGGER — THIRD CIRCUIT HOLDS FCA’S APPLICATION TO FALSE STATEMENTS MADE TO US CUSTOMS

On October 5, 2916, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals  in the attached decision in United States ex rel Customs Fraud Investigations, LLC. v. Vitaulic Company, us-vs-vitaulic, reversed the Federal District Court and held that a failure to label imported goods with the proper country of origin is actionable under the False Claim Act (“FCA”).  Vitaulic had imported millions of pounds of steel pipe with the wrong country of origin.

In holding that this is an actionable claim under the FCA, the Court stated:

These actions, according to CFI, give rise to the present qui tam action under the so-called “reverse false claims” provision in the False Claims Act (FCA).  Typically, a claim under the FCA alleges that a person or company submitted a bill to the government for work that was not performed or was performed improperly, resulting in an undeserved payment flowing to that person or company. The FCA was enacted as a reaction to rampant fraud and price gouging by merchants supplying the Union army during the Civil War. In this case, by contrast, the allegation is not that Victaulic is obtaining monies from the government to which it is not entitled, but rather that it is retaining money it should have paid the government in the form of marking duties. Wrongful retention cases such as these are known as “reverse false claims” actions.

The Court went on to state:

Of particular importance here, the Senate Report discussed “customs duties for mismarking country of origin,” and how such duties would be covered by the amended reverse false claims Provision. . . .

The plain text of the FCA’s reverse claims provision is clear: any individual who “knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government” may be subject to liability. As alleged by CFI in the amended complaint, Victaulic declined to notify the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection of its pipe fittings’ non-conforming status. This failure to notify resulted in the pipe fittings being released into the stream of commerce in the United States and, consequently, marking duties being owed and not paid.

From a policy perspective, the possibility of reverse false claims liability in such circumstances makes sense in the context of the larger import/export regulatory scheme created by Congress. Because of the government’s inability to inspect every shipment entering the United States, an importer may have an incentive to decline to mention that its goods are mismarked on the assumption that the mismarking will not be discovered. In doing so, an importer avoids its obligation under 19 U.S.C. § 1484 to provide the government with such information as is necessary to enable the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to determine whether the merchandise may be released from government custody or whether it must be properly marked, re-exported or destroyed.

HONEY AND FURNITURE

FURNITURE

On September 30, 2016, Ecologic Industries LLC and OMNI SCM LLC controlled by a Daniel Scott Goldman agreed to pay $1.525 million to settle a civil False Claims Act suit alleging it conspired to make false statements to avoid paying duties on wooden furniture imported from China to avoid the antidumping duties on Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China.  The companies sell furniture for student housing.

The case was filed by a whistleblower Matthew Bissanti, who is the former president and director of OMNI.  The Justice Department reported that Bissanti will receive $228,750 as his share of the settlement.

HONEY

On Aug 12, 2016, in the attached notice, to-bee-or-not-to-bee_-cbp-and-partners-seized-132-drums-of-hone, Customs and Border Protection announced seizure of 42 tons of illegally imported Chinese honey.  The honey was contained in 132 fifty-five gallon drums that were falsely declared as originating from Taiwan to evade antidumping duties applicable to Chinese honey. The evaded antidumping duties on this shipment of Chinese honey would be nearly $180,299.

ANTITRUST LAW

VITAMIN C ANTITRUST CASE—THE REAL ANTIDUMPING BACK STORY

On September 20, 2016, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its attached decision in the Vitamin C Antitrust case against the Chinese companies, In Re: Vitamin C Antitrust Litigation, vitamin-c-13-4791_opn-2d-cir-sept-20-2016.  In its decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the Federal District Court’s decision that the Chinese Vitamin C companies had fixed prices in violation of the US antitrust because Chinese government action, in effect, insulated the Chinese companies from US antitrust liability.

The Court of Appeals made the correct decision because as indicated below, I have personal knowledge as to the reason the Chinese government set the Vitamin C export price scheme in place to raise Chinese export prices—to deter US and other Antidumping cases.

As the Court of Appeals stated in its opinion:

the Chinese Government filed a formal statement in the district court asserting that Chinese law required Defendants to set prices and reduce quantities of vitamin C sold abroad, and because Defendants could not simultaneously comply with Chinese law and U.S. antitrust law . . .

The Court of Appeals then reversed the District Court “on international comity grounds” and ordered the District Court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice.

In effect, the Second Circuit held that based on comity grounds, that is, respect for Chinese law as evidenced by a formal statement and submission of the Chinese government that the Chinese government lawfully set up a scheme to raise Vitamin C prices, the Federal District Court should have dismissed the case.  The Court of Appeals held that the District Court should have deferred to the Chinese government and exempted the Chinese companies from the application of the US antitrust law based on the state action defense.  It should be noted that the Federal Government and State Governments through state action can insulate US domestic companies from the application of the US antitrust law.

The Court of Appeals specifically determined in the decision that:

The official statements of the Ministry should be credited and accorded deference. . . .The  2002  Notice,  inter  alia,  demonstrates  that  from  2002  to  2005,  the relevant time period alleged in the complaint, Chinese law required Defendants to participate in the PVC regime in order to export vitamin C. This regulatory regime allowed vitamin C manufacturers the export only vitamin C subject to contracts that complied with the “industry‐wide negotiated” price.

Although the 2002 Notice does not specify how the “industry‐wide negotiated” price was set, we defer to the Ministry’s reasonable interpretation that the term means what it suggests—that members of the regulated industry were required to negotiate and agree upon a price.  . . ..

In this context, we find it reasonable to view the entire PVC regime as a decentralized means by which the Ministry, through the Chamber, regulated the export of vitamin C by deferring to the manufacturers and adopting their agreed upon price as the minimum export price. In short, by directing vitamin C manufacturers to coordinate export prices and quantities and adopting those standards into the regulatory regime, the Chinese Government required Defendants to violate the Sherman Act. . . .

Because we hold that Defendants could not comply with both U.S. antitrust laws and Chinese law regulating the foreign export of vitamin C, a true conflict exists between the applicable laws of China and those of the United States.

The Court of Appeals went on to state:

Moreover, there is no evidence that Defendants acted with the express purpose or intent to affect U.S. commerce or harm U.S. businesses in particular. Rather, according to the Ministry, the regulations at issue governing Defendants’ conduct were intended to assist China in its transition from a state‐run command economy to a market‐driven economy, and the resulting price‐fixing was intended to ensure China remained a competitive participant in the global vitamin C market and to prevent harm to China’s trade relations. While it was reasonably foreseeable that China’s vitamin C policies would generally have a negative effect on Plaintiffs as participants in the international market for vitamin C, as noted above, there is no evidence that Defendants’ antitrust activities were specifically directed at Plaintiffs or other U.S. companies.

The purpose of the Chinese export scheme was not to damage US customers or businesses.  In fact, just the opposite was true.  The Chinese government wanted to keep exports flowing.

What was the concern of the Chinese government?  US and other antidumping cases, which could wipe Chinese exports out of the US market for decades.  This was the true number one anticompetitive threat that the Chinese government and companies were facing.  Was this a realistic threat?  Sure was.

The period that the export price scheme was set in place was 2002-2005.  On July 11, 2002, after losing an antidumping case in the mid-90s against Saccharin from China despite very high antidumping rates because of a no injury determination by the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), PMC, the sole US producer of saccharin, filed a second antidumping case against saccharin from China.  The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in charge of the Saccharin case was the Chamber of Commerce for Medicines, the same Chamber in charge of the Vitamin C case.

On July 2, 2003, the Commerce Department issued an antidumping order against all imports of saccharin from China with rates ranging from an individual dumping rate of 249.39% to 329.29% for all other Chinese companies, effectively blocking all Chinese saccharin from China.  The Antidumping Order was in effect for 10 years.

Although one company that I represented was after three and a half years able to reduce its dumping rate down to 0%, all other Chinese saccharin was blocked out of the US market for 10 years.  Market prices for saccharin in the US soared from a low $1.50 per pound in the investigative period to a price well over $10 a pound.

And US plaintiff companies in the Vitamin C case were complaining about the price rise in Vitamin C exports to the US??!!  I am sure the increase was not 10 times.

Since I represented the Chinese saccharin industry in the Saccharin antidumping case, the Chamber of Commerce for Medicine and I were very aware of the devastating effect a US or other antidumping case could have on Chinese companies and exports.  After the antidumping order was issued, in the Summer of 2003 the Chamber called me to a meeting with the Chinese Vitamin C producers and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”} to discuss how to deter US and other antidumping cases.  The Chamber and MOFCOM were very worried that intense Chinese price competition would lead to a wave of antidumping cases against the Vitamin C companies.

The Vitamin C companies, the Chamber and MOFCOM asked what can we do if there is a threat of an antidumping case.  Since Commerce and all other countries treat China as a nonmarket economy country and refuse to use actual prices and costs in China to determine antidumping cases, the general practice of dump proofing where antidumping consultants use computer programs to eliminate the unfair act, dumping, is not an option for Chinese companies.

The only remedy I could think of was that the Chinese government impose an export price floor.  That approach worked in the 90s with another Chamber of Commerce when there was a threat of a US antidumping case against Silicon Carbide from China.  The US Silicon Carbide producer in the one company US industry never filed their threatened antidumping case against China because of the export price floor the Chamber with MOFCOM’s consent put in place.

After suggesting that the Chamber set up an export price floor with MOFCOM’s involvement, I went on to state that MOFCOM would have to issue a law, regulation or action to show that the Government mandated the establishment of the system to insulate the Chinese companies from attack under the US antitrust laws.

The Chamber did set up the export price system for Vitamin C exports to stop US and other antidumping cases from being filed against the Chinese companies.  No Vitamin C antidumping cases were filed because the export price system was put in place.

As indicated by the Second Circuit, MOFOM did take government action to set up the export price scheme, which, in turn, insulated the Chinese companies from US antitrust liability.

The lesson of the story is that although the purpose of US antitrust law is to protect consumers and competition in the US market, the real threat to US consumers and market competition is the US antidumping law.

CRIMINAL IP/TRADE SECRET CASE

On October 5, 2016, the Justice Department in the attached notice, chinese-national-sentenced-to-prison-for-conspiracy-to-steal-tr, announced the sentencing of Mo Hailong, a/k/a Robert Mo, a Chinese national to three years in Federal prison for a conspiracy to steal trade secrets.  Mr. Mo Hailong was the Director of International Business of the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Company, commonly referred to as DBN. DBN is a Chinese conglomerate with a corn seed subsidiary company, Kings Nower Seed.

According to the plea agreement, Mo Hailong admitted to participating in a long-term conspiracy to steal trade secrets from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto. Mo Hailong participated in the theft of inbred corn seeds from fields in Iowa and elsewhere for the purpose of transporting the seeds to DBN in China. The stolen inbred, or parent, seeds were the valuable trade secrets of DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.

U.S. Attorney Kevin E. VanderSchel stated:

“Mo Hailong stole valuable proprietary information in the form of seed corn from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto in an effort to transport such trade secrets to China. Theft of trade secrets is a serious federal crime, as it harms victim companies that have invested millions of dollars and years of work toward the development of propriety technology. The theft of agricultural trade secrets, and other intellectual property, poses a grave threat to our national economic security. The Justice Department and federal law enforcement partners are committed to prosecuting those who in engage in conduct such as Mo Hailong.”

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES

On October 6, 2016, Nite Ize, Inc. filed a major 337 case against Device Holders, many of which come from China.  The relevant parts of the ITC notice along with the names of the Chinese respondent companies are below.

Commodity:

Device Holders

Filed by:

James B. Altman

Firm/Organization:

Foster, Murphy, Altman & Nickel, PC

Behalf of:

Nite Ize, Inc.

Description:

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Device Holders, and Components Thereof. The proposed respondents are Shenzhen Youtai Trade Company Limited, d/b/a NoChoice, China; REXS LLC, Lewes, DE; Spinido, Inc., Brighton, CO; Luo, Qiden, d/b/a Lita International Shop, China; Guangzhou Kuaguoyi E-commerece co., ltd., d/b/a Kagu Culture, China; Shenzhen New Dream Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a Newdreams, China; Shenzhen Gold South technology Co., Ltd. d/b/a Baidatong, China; Zhao Chunhui d/b/a Skyocean, China; Sunpauto Co., ltd., HK; Wang Zhi Gang d/b/a China; Dang Yuya d/b/a Sminiker, China; Shenzhen Topworld Technology Co.,    d/b/a IdeaPro, Hong Kong; Lin Zhen Mei d/b/a Anson, China; Wu Xuying d/b/a Novoland, China; Shenzhen New Dream Sailing Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a MegaDream, China; Zhongshan Feiyu Hardware technology Co., Ltd d/b/a YouFo, China; Ninghuazian Wangfulong Chaojishichang Youxian Gongsi, Ltd., d/b/a EasybuyUS, China; Chang Lee d/b/a Frentaly, Duluth, GA; Trendbox USA LLC d/b/a Trendbox, Scottsdale, AZ; Timespa d/b/a Jia Bai Nian (Shenzhen) Electronic Commerce Trade CO., LTD., China; Tontex d/b/a Shenzhen Hetongtai Electronics Co., Ltd., China; Scotabc d/b/a ShenChuang Opto-electronics Technology Co., Ltd., China; Tenswall d/b/a Shenzhen Tenswall International Trading Co., Ltd., La Puente, CA; Luo Jieqiong d/b/a Wekin, China; Pecham d/b/a Baichen Technology Ltd., Hong Kong; Cyrift d/b/a Guangzhou Sunway E-Commerce LLC., China; Rymemo d/b/a Global Box, LLC., Dunbar, PA; Wang Guoxiang d/b/a Minse, China; Yuan I d/b/a Bestrix, China; Zhiping Zhou d/b/a Runshion, China; Funlavie, Riverside, CA; Huijukon d/b/a Shenzhen Hui Ju Kang technology Co., Ltd., China; Zhang Haujun d/b/a CeeOne, China; Easy Acc d/b/a Searay LLC., Newark, DE; Barsone d/b/a Shenzhen Senweite Electronic Commerce Ltd., China; Oumeiou d/b/a Shenzhen Oumeiou Technology Co., Ltd., China; Grando d/b/a Shenzhen Dashentai Network Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Yingxue Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Longwang Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a LWANG, China; Hu Peng d/b/a AtomBud, China

CHINESE VERSION OF 337 ARTICLE

Set forth below is a Chinese version of the 337 English article published last month followed by the original English version.

阻止来自中国的侵权产品:337条款调查案

随着亚马逊和eBay加大力度引入中国卖家,以及越来越多的中国制造商另辟蹊径生产本身的产品,向我们在中国的律师咨询有关盗版产品和仿冒问题的公司数目也随之猛增。若该问题涉及到把侵权产品进口到美国,拥有美国知识产权的公司可以采取强大的补救措施进行反击。其中一个最强有力的补救措施就是337条款调查案,它可以用来阻止侵权产品进入美国,无论该产品生产自何处。

337条款调查案(该名称源自于19 U.S.C. 1337法令)可用来打击侵犯版权、商标、专利或商业秘密的进口品。但是由于注册商标和版权拥有人一般上可以采取其它的法律行动,337条款调查案对专利、未注册商标和商业秘密的拥有人尤其有效。虽然该调查案通常局限于知识产权,正在对钢铁产品进行的337调查案中,美国钢铁业试图将不公平行为的定义扩大以便将入侵计算机系统和违反反垄断行为包含在内。

首先,美国国际贸易委员会(“ITC”)会发起337条款的调查。如果ITC发现某进口货侵犯了特定的知识产权,可以发出排除令(exclusion order),美国海关就会扣留所有侵权的进口货。

大量种类各异的产品已经因337条款调查案而被禁止入口:从玩具(魔方拼图、椰菜娃娃)、鞋类(匡威运动鞋)、大型机器(造纸机)、消费类产品(首饰盒、汽车配件、电子香烟和烫发器)到高科技产品(电脑、手机和半导体芯片)等等。

337条款是知识产权和贸易的混合型法令,某个美国产业必须证明受到了伤害。伤害证明的要求很低,几乎所有的案例都符合此要求——只许一些销售损失就能证明伤害。对符合美国产业的要求可说是关键所在。美国产业通常是一家持有相关知识产权的公司。如果该知识产权是一项注册商标、版权或专利,美国产业的要求范围已扩大至凡在美国进行的工厂和设备、劳动力或资本的重大投资,以及专利权开发的实质性投资,包括工程、研发或授权许可,均可视为国内产业。然而,ITC最近提高了美国产业的要求,让专利“流氓”或非执业实体更难提出337调查案诉求。

337条款调查案由行政法官(ALJ)负责审理,诉讼过程迅速且激烈,一般上只需12至15个月来完成。ITC收到一份337调查的申请后,有30天的时间来决定是否立案。一旦确定立案,ITC会将诉状和调查通知答辩方。外国被诉方有30天的时间应诉,美国国内的被诉方则只有20天的时间应诉。如果进口商或外国被诉方没有做出回应,ITC会可认定公司放弃抗辩而发出排除令。

ITC在337调查案中所采取的是“对物”管辖权,也就是针对进口到美国的产品进行管辖。这很合理:ITC无权管制外国公司,但有权管制其进口产品。一般而言,337条款调查案和大多数的普通诉讼案不同,申诉方可以打赢一家1)不可能送达诉状、2)未能出庭聆讯,以及3)不可能被追讨款项的中国公司。

337条款调查案所采取的补救措施是颁布排除令,阻止答辩方的侵权产品进入美国。但是在某些特殊情况下,如果某个产品非常容易制造,ITC可以发布普遍排除令,不分来源地禁止所有同类侵权产品进入美国。以我处理过的魔方拼图案件为例,Ideal公司(申请人)把超过400家台湾公司列为侵犯其普通法商标的答辩人。ITC在1983年发布了普遍排除令(General Exclusion Order),阻止非Ideal公司制造的魔方产品进入美国市场,这一禁令沿用至今。除了排除令,ITC也可以发布制止令(cease and desist orders),禁止美国进口商继续售卖相关侵权产品。

337条款调查案的双方也可以选择庭外和解,但是和解协议必须经由ITC复审。我们经常协助客户尽早解决337条款调查案,以减少他们的诉讼费用。在20世纪90年代初期,RCA针对中国进口的电视提出了337条款调查。所有涉及的中国公司通过与RCA签署授权许可协议,迅速地解决了该调查案。

337条款调查案中的答辩人通常可以通过修改本身产品的设计来避开相关的侵权指责。约翰迪尔(John Deere)曾经指控把拖拉机漆成绿色和黄色的中国公司侵犯了约翰迪尔的商标,因而提出了一项著名的337条款调查案。大部分的中国答辩人与申诉人达成协议并改变拖拉机的颜色,例如蓝红色。

关键点:337条款调查案是ITC发起的强有力诉讼案,美国公司应该把它视为阻止侵权产品进入美国市场的手段。另一方面,涉及这些调查案的美国进口商和外国答辩人应该认真地对待它们,并且迅速做出回应,因为排除令发出后可延续多年有效。

 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 US trade policy, TPP, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

 

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

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC ReflectioFIRM UPDATE

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

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

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Obama went to state:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the GAO report states:

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

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

The GAO Report concludes at page 56-47:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are key points from these new regulations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA CHINESE VERSION OF THE ARTICLE

中国进口太阳能电池反倾销案即将到来的最后期限重返美国市场的机会

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEEL TRADE CASES

HOT ROLLED STEEL FLAT PRODUCTS

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US China Trade War–Trump, Weak Strong Free Trade Arguments, Steel, 337

US Treasury Department Albert Gallatin Statue Washington DCTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR JULY 14, 2016 

Dear Friends,

This blog post is the third and fourth article 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 probable demise of the TPP and the strong arguments against protectionism.

The first article outlined the problem and why this is such a sharp attack on the Trans Pacific Partnership 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.

Subsequent articles will discuss why the Commerce Department’s policy has led to increased protectionism, the Probable Demise of the TPP, failure of Congressional Trade Policy and what can be done to provide the safety net that will allow Congress again to vote for free trade agreements so that 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.

In addition, set forth are articles on developments involving steel trade litigation, including the suspension of Section 337 Steel Trade Case, antidumping and countervailing duty reviews against Chinese companies, and a new 337 case against Chinese companies.

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

WEAK FREE TRADE ARGUMENTS AND STRONG FREE TRADE ARGUMENTS

There are two reasons for the sharp rise in protectionism—Weak Free Trade Arguments and the Commerce Department’s methodology in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

By its own regulation the Commerce Department finds dumping and subsidization in almost every single case, especially against China.  But the problem with the Commerce Department’s methodology, which is not based on reality, it fuels the myth advocated by the Steel industry, the Union and Donald Trump himself that all imports are dumped and all imports are subsidized and the general feeling of global trade victimhood.  We US companies and workers simply cannot compete because all imports are dumped and subsidized so the answer is put up the protectionist walls.

That is simply not true.  The next article will talk about the intricacies of the Commerce Department and why the Commerce Department’s methodology results in its finding dumping and subsidization in more than 95% of the cases and how that has had such a bad impact on the perceptions of the average American.

But before addressing that issue, this post will describe the Weak Free Trade Arguments Against Protectionism and the Strong Arguments against Protectionism.

WEAK FREE TRADE ARGUMENTS

But what are the free trade arguments that can counter the tidal wave of protectionism from Trump and Sanders supporters and the real collateral damage caused by trade agreements, including the 2.4 million jobs connected to granting China most favored nation status.  As the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) reported in its May report on the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), if the Trade Agreement is enacted, although agricultural and service companies will benefit, manufacturing will see a net decrease in jobs “by $10.8 billion (0.1 percent) lower with the TPP Agreement” than without the Agreement.

On March 15, 2016 Morton Kondrake and Matthew Slaughter in a Wall Street Journal article made the theoretical economic case for free trade entitled, Making the Case for Trade Reagan’s ‘Protectionism is Destructionism’ Message was True” and spoke about the benefits of trade but then went on to state that the solution is simply “creative destructionism” and more job training and assistance to communities hurt by trade:

Divided though the four leading presidential candidates are on so many topics, united they stand on one: the assertion that trade hurts America.

All four oppose the U.S. ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership. All four demonize trade the same way. Donald Trump blasts that “foreigners are killing us on trade,” while Bernie Sanders inveighs against “disastrous trade agreements written by corporate America.” . . .

Where is the leader with the courage to tell the truth? To say that trade made this nation great, and that trade barriers will destroy far more jobs than they can ever “save.” To explain how trade translates into prosperity and new jobs, and how the disruptions inevitable in a trading economy can be managed for the benefit of those who need help. . . .

First, trade has generated substantial gains—not losses—for America overall.  .  . . The overall gains are large. Trade and related activities—spurred by accords such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta, have boosted annual U.S. income today by about 10 percentage points of GDP relative to what it would have been otherwise. This translates into an aggregate gain of about $1.8 trillion in 2015—thousands of dollars per U.S. household every year.

Future trade agreements will bring more gains. A 2016 analysis by Peter A. Petri and Michael G. Plummer estimates that the TPP—which will eliminate more than 18,000 tariffs that other countries today impose on U.S. exports—will boost U.S. national income by about $130 billion annually. Part of this gain will be due to the higher average wages Americans earn as a result of more trade.

The second important pro-trade narrative is that creative destruction—the movement of people and capital from weaker businesses to stronger ones and new opportunities—is how many of the gains from trade arise. And because trade is only one of the forces driving this continual churn, the scale of creative destruction is vast. In December, for example, America’s creation of almost 300,000 payroll jobs was the net outcome of 5.4 million new jobs created and 5.1 million old jobs destroyed. Technology innovation and other drivers of long-run economic prosperity also entail more gains to “winners” than costs to “losers.”

This points to the third key theme: The way to support those affected by trade is not with tariffs that will destroy the jobs of other Americans that depend on trade. The solution is to drop trade barriers to maximize trade’s gains—and then design well-targeted supports for workers and communities that need help.  . . .

We need to build a broader, more-responsive safety net to assist workers in transition regardless of the reason. For instance, unemployment insurance and trade-adjustment assistance should become part of an integrated program that offers a menu of options to all displaced workers. . . .

But the problem with the Kondrake/ Slaughter article is that the person who created the term “creative destructionism” would not agree with their central thesis that creative destructionism is such a great benefit that everyone should embrace capitalism and free trade.  Joseph Schumpeter, the famous Harvard Economist,  in his book “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” first coined the term “creative destructionism”.  The central thesis of his book, however, was that Schumpeter did not believe that Capitalism could long survive and that is why he was an Austrian socialist.  He did not believe that Capitalism would long survive because of the collateral damage it creates and the gap between the rich and the poor.  Although Capitalism causes all boats to rise, there will always be a gap between the rich and the poor and people will focus on the gap rather than the fact that all boats are rising.

It is very difficult to throw theoretical economic arguments to counter the real loss of jobs in US manufacturing industries.  Will this rosy article of Free Trade truly offset the arguments made by the international trade losers of thousands of closed factories and millions of lost manufacturing jobs?  Don’t think so.  Simple theoretical arguments do not wash in the face of blown up factories and millions of lost jobs.

One economist who agrees with this point is Daniel Altman, an economist, who published in article entitled “Economics Has Failed America” on May 19, 2016 pointing out some real problems with the economic arguments in favor of free trade:

As a recovering economist writing on behalf of my erstwhile field, I would like to apologize to every American who has lost a job or a livelihood because of globalization. Economics has failed you. It has failed you because of ideology, politics, and laziness. It has failed you because its teachings are woefully incomplete, and its greatest exponents have done almost nothing to complete them.

There are “positive” questions in economics that have mathematical answers — things that simply must be true — and then there are “normative” questions that amount to value judgments on points of policy. In economics classes, we teach the former and usually stop short when faced with the latter. This leaves a hole in any discussion of economic policy; students acquire first principles but rarely consider real-world applications, because to do so would presuppose a social or political point of view.

In the case of free trade and globalization, this omission has been disastrous.  . . .

Yet the redistribution required to generate this broad improvement in living standards is hardly addressed, or sometimes even mentioned. To do so would be to step into the muddy mire of normative questions.

Should the government take from some people in order to give to others? Who should give the most, and who should receive? What exactly should they receive? . . .

Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University offer this breezy guidance: “Job destruction is ultimately a healthy part of any growing economy, but that doesn’t mean we have to ignore the costs of transitioning from one job to another. Unemployment insurance, savings, and a strong education system can help workers respond to shocks.” It may be worth noting that Cowen is a frequent critic of unemployment insurance on his blog. . .  .

Finally, R. Glenn Hubbard . . . and Anthony Patrick O’Brien of Lehigh University are the only ones who mention the program designed to accomplish redistribution: “It may be difficult, though, for workers who lose their jobs because of trade to easily find others. That is why in the United States the federal government uses the Trade Adjustment Assistance program to provide funds for workers who have lost their jobs due to international trade. These funds can be used for retraining, for searching for new jobs, or for relocating to areas where new jobs are available. This program — and similar programs in other countries — recognizes that there are losers from international trade as well as winners.”

The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program has a budget of about $664 million, or roughly 0.004 percent of gross domestic product.

This means one dollar of every $25,000 in income generated by the United States goes to help people here who have been hurt by globalization. They don’t receive the cash directly; they just have to hope that the program — which offers retooling, retraining, and relocation, among other services — will aid their transition to new jobs.

There aren’t many beneficiaries, either.  . . .

The problem with Mr. Altman’s article is that he does not realize that there are two TAA programs and the one that works is the TAA for Companies program.  The funding for that program has been cut to $12.5 million a year.  He also does not realize that the best arguments against protectionism are not economic, they are historical.

Congressman Jim McDermott may have put it the best in a recent article, “Workers do not want a handout, they want jobs”:

Trump, Sanders voters don’t want handouts — they want jobs

A popular knock on voters who support Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders because they have been “left behind” by free trade, globalization and technological progress is that they want a handout from Uncle Sam.

But the truth is the opposite: These voters want to work. They want jobs. And that’s the key to understanding their support for Trump or Sanders. . . .

In this political season, I’ve been asking some of them and their friends, and their now-adult kids, which presidential candidates they find appealing. Only two find support:  Sanders, the Vermont socialist, and Trump, the New York billionaire. Both candidates appeal to a working class that is frustrated, fed up and downright angry.

Neither can be bought.

STRONG HISTORICAL ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF FREE TRADE

The strong arguments for Free Trade, however, are not economic.  The best arguments are historical: Japan, China, and the Smoot Hawley Tariff.  Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

An even more important argument, however, is that protectionism does not work.  It does not save the companies and the President who understood that point was Ronald Reagan.

But first the historical arguments.

Japan

The recent experience of Japan can show what happens when a country listens to the Siren Calls of protectionism.

In the 1980s, when I joined the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), the number one target country on the trade hit parade was not China.  It was Japan.  It was exporting numerous products to the United States that caused injury to various US industries.  In fact, I had lived in Japan and studied Japanese and thought after my career in Federal Government at the ITC and Commerce Department I would work on trade cases, including antidumping cases, against Japanese companies.

That did not happen.  Why?  In the early 1990s, after Ezra Vogel published his book “Japan as Number One”, the entire Japanese economy imploded.  Japanese exports dropped like a rock, and Japan entered what is called the lost decade, which now has become lost decades.

In my opinion, Japan’s lost decades have been caused by its trade policy.  Japan did exactly what Donald Trump is advocating, it put Japan first through its mercantilistic trade policy.  While living in Japan and later at the Commerce Department, I discovered numerous non- tariff trade barriers that Japan had put into place to protect its domestic industries.

American skis could not be sold in Japan because as one Japanese government official stated snow is different in Japan than the United States.  American beef could not be sold in Japan because as another Japanese government official stated Japanese intestines were shorter than American intestines.

In fact, in the trade area, there was antidumping case after antidumping case against Japanese companies.  The problem was prices in Japan were multiple times higher than the same product sold by the same company to the US.  In some cases, based on actual price comparisons and actual calculated antidumping rates, Japanese antidumping rates were over 400% because the Japanese company priced the same product in Japan four times higher than the same product sold in the United States.

In effect, the Japanese government’s anti-trade protectionist policy created a very high price market in Japan.  Japanese companies sold at very high prices in the Japanese market, ramped up production to drive down per unit costs and then used high prices in the Japanese market to fuel exported products at very low prices to the US market.  Classic dumping.

The Japanese government also made it very difficult for foreign companies, including US companies, to set up true joint ventures in Japan.  Keep the foreigner out was the motto of Japan.

But what was the ultimate effect of this high priced protectionist trade policy, massive bubbles in the land and stock markets.  At one point the land in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo was worth more than the land in the entire state of Illinois.  Those high land prices were used to fuel a very high stock market in Japan.  The Japanese stock market bubble burst and then land prices fell.  Japan entered a massive recession/depression and it lost decade(s) of economic growth.

Also when doing antidumping cases in other countries and the issue of using third country prices, I noticed that Petitioners always pushed Commerce to Japan because Japanese protected market prices were always higher than US prices.  Japanese raw material prices were higher too.  Because of trade cases in the US and other countries, Japanese production plants left Japan creating hollowed out industries as the companies sought to get around trade rules and also access to lower raw material costs.  After the US FTA with Korea, the best-selling car in Korea is the Toyota produced in the United States.

China

The other historical lesson is China.  In 1949 when Mao Tse Tung won the Chinese revolution, he also wanted to make China great again.  Mao decided that he would make China great by putting up on the protectionist walls and the Chinese themselves would make themselves self -sufficient by producing everything they needed.

In the Great Leap Forward in the early 1950s, Mao declared that the Chinese people would create backyard steel industries and Chinese peasants melted down cooking pots into raw steel to show that they could produce steel.  The Great Leap Forward led to one of greatest famines in World history and millions died.

When Deng Xiaoping came into power he immediately opened up the country.  Because of the Mao protectionist policies, China had fallen behind the World in technology.  Deng Xiaoping looked for ways to bring technology to China and develop their own.

Premier Zhu Rongyi, China’s great economic reformer, refused to follow the Japanese model and invited Western companies to set up joint ventures in China.

Thus, during the Obama Administration, when GM was having problems with its US manufacturing operations and facing bankruptcy, the one part of the company it was especially trying to save was its China operations.  The Buick had become the bestselling car in China.

As one Chinese individual remarked to me, why when China and many other countries have rejected the Socialist model is the United States moving towards the Socialist model and putting up protectionist walls.

Smoot Hawley

On April 25, 2016, former Congressman Don Bonker in an article entitled “Presidential Election Politics and Perils of Protectionism” warned that the anti- trade rhetoric in the Presidential election could lead to the return of the Smoot Hawley tariffs, stating:

This year’s presidential election is not lacking in absurdity, another example being a Republican billionaire and a socialist Democrat in sync on what has become a contentious issue, attacking trade agreements by declaring they are “disastrous” or being negotiated by “stupid people”.  . . .

What they have tapped into is the viral protectionism spreading across the country, embedded in Midwestern states that suffered job losses as American companies shifted their manufacturing operations to low-wage countries like Mexico and China.

Both Trump and Sanders are clueless or blatantly dismissive of the consequences of such actions, but their insane rhetoric could lead to a trade war, even a collapse of the world trading system, should either ever make it to the White House. . . .

In this raucous presidential campaign, both sides slamming America’s trade policy could put our country on the perilous path of protectionism, thus undermining America’s presumed role as the leader in today’s global economy. Someone should remind both Trump, if ever he listens, and Sanders, ever the demagogue, that we’ve been down that path before, and it proved devastating.

In the 1928 presidential election, the Republican candidate Herbert Hoover campaigned on the populist anti-trade issue, pledging to restrict foreign imports if elected, a message that resonated with the commodity producers and manufacturers who felt betrayed in an emerging global economy, which set the stage for a Republican Congress poised to run amok on limiting imports.

Indeed, shortly after the elections, newly formed trade associations mobilized an unbridled frenzy of logrolling, jockeying for maximum protection for commodity and industry producers leading to enactment of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that hiked import fees, some up to 100 percent, on over 20,000 foreign products. . . .

Indeed, within a few months, America’s leading trade partners – Canada, France, Mexico, Italy, 26 countries in all – retaliated, causing world trade to plummet by more than half of the pre-1929 totals, one of several factors that precipitated the Great Depression. . .  ..

The Smoot Hawley tariff turned the Depression into the Great Depression.

PROTECTIONISM DOES NOT WORK—COMPANIES ARE NOT SAVED

The most important lesson, however, is that protectionism does not work.  The US Steel industry is a case study of this point.  After receiving 40 years of protectionism from steel imports, where are Bethlehem Steel, Jones and Loughlin and Lone Star Steel today—Green Fields.

Despite the antidumping order against Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China, that did not save the US furniture industry as many US factories and Chinese factories moved to Vietnam.  In fact, the Furniture case illustrates another point—the Whack a Mole problem in antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) Trade cases.

Recently, the US Washing Machine industry dominated by Whirlpool screamed because after bringing AD and CVD cases against Samsung, Daewoo and LG in Korea, the companies moved to China so Whirlpool filed another case against China.  After AD and CVD orders are issued, multinationals and many other companies can move their production facilities to new countries which are not covered by US AD and CVD orders.  AD and CVD cases are meant to be rifle shots to stop unfair trade practices from a specific country, but US companies cannot bring AD and CVD cases against the World, although the US Steel Industry has tried.

In January 2008, Superior Graphite and SGL Carbon LLC filed an antidumping case against graphite electrodes from China, which lead to an antidumping order against China.  On July 13, 2016, after 8 years of protection, Superior announced the closing of its Russellville, Arkansas plant.  One reason was intense domestic competition and another reason imports from India.

The President that understood that protectionism does not work was Ronald Reagan.  Contrary to the implication in Donald Trump’s June 28, 2016 speech, entitled “Declaring American Economic Independence”, Reagan was not a protectionist.  He was very much a free trader, who specifically stated that protectionism does not work.

In his attached June 28, 2016speech, DJT_DeclaringAmericanEconomicIndependence, Donald Trump stated in part:

President Reagan deployed similar trade measures when motorcycle and semiconductor imports threatened U.S. industry. His tariff on Japanese motorcycles was 45% and his tariff to shield America’s semiconductor industry was 100%.

On June 28, 1986, 40 years to the day before, however, Ronald Reagan gave the attached speech BETTER COPY REAGAN IT SPEECH, about international trade and against protectionism, stating in part:

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

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

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

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

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

So, the danger is approaching. Should this bill become law, foreign governments would respond, and soon a vicious cycle of trade barriers would be jeopardizing our hard-won economic prosperity.

The first part of Reagan’s speech almost sounds like a point by point rebuttal of Donald Trump’s June 2016 speech.  The last part of the speech specifically points out the perils of protectionism.  Ronald Reagan lived through the Great Depression and learned from history.  He did not want to repeat the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act mistake again.

Donald Trump points at two cases during the Reagan administration—Motorcycles and Semiconductor Chips.  The interesting point is that I was at the ITC and Commerce Department in the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s when the Motorcycles and Semiconductor Chips cases took place and have personal knowledge about what happened.  Those cases and the reason for them are very different from the trade actions that Donald Trump is talking about.

In the Motorcycles 201 case, in the early 1980s Harley Davidson sought temporary relief under the Escape Clause to help it adjust to import competition, especially from Japan.  It won the case and received a three-year tariff rate quota on imports of certain subassemblies from Japan.  The noteworthy point is that after two years in the mid- 1980s, Harley told the US government to lift the quota/tariff because it no longer needed the protection from imports.  The 201 case gave Harley the short term protection it needed to adjust to import competition.

Contrast that temporary relief with antidumping and countervailing duty orders against steel, chemicals and metals, some of which have been in place for 20 to 30 years.

In the 1980s Semiconductors cases, the Commerce Department was very tough in those case and even initiated its own 256K DRAM case.  The Semiconductor cases resulted in a Semiconductors agreement with Japan.  But while at the Commerce Department in the 1980s, the Secretary of Commerce was Malcolm Baldrige, a brilliant secretary.  Baldridge believe that his job was to protect the crown jewels of American manufacturing—the High Tech industry.

What Donald Trump is proposing is protecting the low tech manufacturing industries, such as the Steel industry.  Ronald Reagan did not fall into that trap.

If Donald Trump goes forward with his plans to use protectionist tariffs to protect the low tech industry, we can expect countries, such as China, Korea, Canada, Mexico and other countries, to retaliate against the US high tech industry. In February 2015, China fined Qualcomm, a US company, $1 billion for violations of the Chinese antimonopoly law.  That is $1 billion of the $10 billion Qualcomm had earned during 2014 selling computer chips to China.

In fact, the employment in the entire US steel industry is less than one high tech company.  So Trump’s idea is to protect the Steel Industry, but the sacrifice is the US High Tech industry with 100s of thousands of high paying jobs.

One of the problems in international trade is what the Chinese call the Frog in the Well syndrome.  The Frog lives inside the Well and thinks that is the World.  As House Speaker Paul Ryan has said many times, the vast majority of consumers live outside of the United States.  When I lived in Beijing during 2005-2007, the US Commercial Attaché gave a speech and mentioned that 75% of all Chinese have a color television set. That is now probably close to 95% of 1.6 billion people, a larger market than the US market.

But all this does not mean that nothing can be done to save US manufacturing companies that have been battered by imports.  As explained in past and subsequent articles, something can be done and it does not have any protectionist effect—The Trade Assistance for Firms/Companies program.  Although it receives only $12.5 million annually in support, the program saves US companies and the jobs that go with them but without putting any protectionist barriers in place.

STEEL TRADE CASES

ITC SUSPENDS STEEL 337 CASE

On May 26, 2016, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) initiated the section 337 case against Chinese steel import on the basis of three primary counts:

(1) a conspiracy to fix prices and control output and export volumes, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1; (2) the misappropriation and use of U.S. Steel’s trade secrets; and (3) the false designation of origin or manufacturer, in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a).

On July 8, 2016, the ITC, in the attached order, ITC STEEL ORDER, temporarily suspended the Section 337 against steel imports brought by US on the grounds that the issues it raises fall within the Commerce Department’s jurisdiction in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

The Commission’s order specifically states, in part:

U.S. Steel’s antitrust claims explicitly rely upon determinations by the Commission and the Commerce Department that the Chinese government subsidizes the Chinese steel industry, and that Chinese steel manufacturers sell their products at less than fair value. . . .

U.S. Steel’s false designation of origin claims are based explicitly upon Respondents’ alleged evasion of antidumping and countervailing duty orders issued by the Commerce Department. . . .

As discussed above, the Complaint identifies several ongoing Commerce Department investigations .  . . and the Commerce Department recently issued final determinations in these investigations finding countervailing duties and sales at less than fair value.

The record thus shows that the present matter comes at least “in part” within the purview of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws, and Section 337(b)(3) therefore requires that the Commission notify the Secretary of Commerce. . . .

The ITC’s suspension stays all discovery and motions in its investigation of U.S. Steel’s claims of an alleged price-fixing conspiracy involving misappropriation of trade secrets and false manufacturing designations in the importation of carbon and alloy steel products.

The suspension followed seven responses from a number of Chinese steel companies to U.S. Steel’s complaint arguing that the claims were based explicitly upon respondents’ alleged evasion of AD and CVD orders and identified several ongoing Commerce Department investigations into steel products.

STAINLESS STEEL SHEET AND STRIP FROM CHINA

On July 12, 2016, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-prc-stainless-steel-sheet-strip-cvd-prelim-071216, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (“CVD”) investigation of imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China.  Since many Chinese companies refused to cooperate because of China’s nonmarket economy status, Chinese companies received CVD rates ranging from 57.3% to 193.12%

JULY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On July 5, 2016, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, OPPORTUNITY JULY 2016, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of July. The specific antidumping cases against China are:   Carbon Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings, Certain Potassium Phosphate Salts, Certain Steel Grating, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, Persulfates, and Xanthan Gum

The specific countervailing duty cases are: Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, Potassium Phosphate Salts, Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand, and Steel Grating.

For those US import companies that imported : Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings, Potassium Phosphate Salts, Steel Grating, Circular Welded Carbon Steel Pipe, Persulfates, Steel Wire Strand and Xanthan Gum during the antidumping period July 1, 2015-June 30, 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.

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.

While in China recently, I found so many examples of Chinese solar companies or US importers, which did not file requests for a review investigation.  In one instance, although the Chinese companies obtained separate rates during the initial investigation, the Petitioner appealed to the Court.  Several Chinese companies and US importers did not know the case was appealed, and the importers now owe millions in antidumping duties because they failed to file a request for a review investigation in December 2015.

NEW SECTION 337 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CASE FILED AT ITC AGAINST CHINA

On July 11, 2016, Cambria Company LLC filed section 337 case at the ITC against Quartz Slabs and Portions.  The proposed respondents, including a Chinese company, are: Stylen Quaza LLC DBA Vicostone USA, Dallas, Texas; Vicostone Joint Stock Company, Vietnam; Building Plastics Inc., Memphis, Tennessee; Fasa Industrial Corporation, Ltd, China; Foshan FASA Building Material Co., Ltd., China; Solidtops LLC, Oxford, Maryland; Dorado Soapstone LLC, Denver, Colorado; and Pental Granite and Marble Inc., Seattle, Washington.

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

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