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–TRADE, TRADE ADJUSTMENT, 337/IP, PRODUCTS LIABILITY

Lotus Garden Reflection Summer Palace Beijing, China“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER JANUARY 11, 2015

Dear Friends,

As you may know, the blog posts are getting longer and longer as more trade and other actions take place against China. Because of the length, I, therefore, am breaking this post into two parts. This first post covers Trade, Customs, 337/IP and Products Liability.  The second post will cover FDA, Antitrust and Securities law.

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

On January 21st, a major antidumping and countervailing duty case was filed against Uncoated Office Paper from China.  Attached is a copy of a short form of the petition along with a Wall Street Journal Article quoting me about the new petition.  The Next Trade Fight Office Paper – WSJ OFFICE PAPER CHINA BRAZIL PETITION

Finally, on January 22nd, Commerce announced its preliminary antidumping determination in the Tires from China case.  Attached is the Commerce Department factsheet.  TIRES AD PRELIM  The antidumping rates are from 19.17 to 36.26% with separate rates companies getting 27.72%.  The China wide rate is 87.99%.

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

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

If anyone has an interest in the Uncoated Paper case or the ITC investigation in the Tires case, please feel free to contact me.

NEWSLETTER

There have been major developments in the Solar Cells, trade, trade politics and trade, trade adjustment assistance, 337/IP, and Products Liability areas.

TRADE –– SOLAR PRODUCTS AND SOLAR CELLS CASES

SOLAR PRODUCTS

On December 16, 2014, Commerce issued its final determination in the Solar Products case. The Mandatory Respondents in the China case received rates ranging from 26.71% for Trina to 78.42% for Jinko and the Separate rate companies received rates of 52%, with the rest of China receiving an antidumping rate of 165.04%.

In addition, the Countervailing duty rates ranged from 27.64 to 49.79% with the all other rate being 38.72%.

Commerce also expanded the scope in the Chinese case to include all Chinese panels and modules with third country solar cells in them. The Fact Sheet, Federal Register notice and Issues and Decision Memos are attached.  CVD Solar Products I&D Memo-12-15-14 CVD Solar Products Final Determination-12-15-14 Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products Final Factsheet AD Solar Products I&D Memo-12-15-14 AD Solar Products Final Determination-12-17-14

The Taiwan rates are from 11.45 to 27.55% with the rest of Taiwan receiving a 19.5% rate.

On December 8, 2014, at the US International Trade Commission hearing on the injury case in the Solar Products case, in the attached testimony, WYDEN ACTUAL SPEECH SOLAR CELLS, Senator Wyden stated:

“In my role as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I work very hard to make sure that trade benefits U.S. workers and companies. And a big part of my job is helping make sure that trade laws are enforced and our trading partners play by the rules.

The solar industry is an anchor of Oregon’s manufacturing base and is a central driver of Oregon’s innovation economy. It supports high skill, high wage jobs that are critical to helping attract investment and new economic opportunities for the 21st century economy.

Yet the solar industry has been under siege by its Chinese competitors for the last five years. It isn’t that American solar can’t compete; it is because China isn’t playing by the rules.

Chinese solar producers were bankrolled by the Chinese government. So they overproduced and dumped solar panels into the U.S. market at prices that were below the cost of production.

China viewed Solar World as such a threat, and these jobs as so strategically important, they used military computer hackers to steal sensitive documents from the company, according to charges filed by the Justice Department.

In short, China cheated and Oregon workers and families suffered. Jobs were lost, capacity diminished, and opportunities were drying up.

When I visited Solar World three years ago, I sounded the alarm. I said that China was taking America’s manufacturing jobs and the trade laws needed to be enforced.

After its own thorough investigation, this Commission found unanimously just two years ago that Chinese companies were injuring our industry by inundating the U.S. market with dumped and subsidized solar products. Trade remedies were imposed. I am grateful to this Commission for its efforts in the original investigation to redress unfair solar trade.

The trade laws worked, or so it seemed. But even while the first case was going on, the Chinese producers switched to a different tactic — keep dumping and subsidizing, but source non-Chinese cells through Taiwan and elsewhere to avoid paying the duties. Dumped and subsidized imports quickly returned, this time through the Taiwan loophole. The hard fought relief that the solar industry hoped to get from the original investigation was in jeopardy, and its fragile recovery in doubt.

The domestic industry was forced to defend itself again, filing the trade case that you are reviewing today. And this time, with the loophole closed, some improvement has started. Prices are no longer in free fall and solar companies like SolarWorld are starting to rehire for jobs that had once been lost. Just last month back in Oregon, I highlighted the role of your investigations in sparking hope that the industry might finally climb back from the brink.

I am back today to ask that this Commission secure the integrity of its original findings and conclude that Chinese and Taiwanese unfair trade has resulted in material injury and threatens additional material injury to U.S. producers, including those in Oregon. A strong determination from the Commission, coupled with antidumping and countervailing duties covering the full scope of unfair trade, will ensure the growth and resurgence of the domestic industry.

U.S. innovation and efficiency started the world-wide growth of solar and will continue to fuel that growth so long as unfair trade practices are fully addressed. Let us not allow the innovation economy to be undermined by innovative cheating on trade. Trade enforcement must keep pace with the times.

This Commission plays a critical role in ensuring that the trade rules are enforced as intended, that unfair trade is checked, and that American jobs and workers can compete on a level playing field. I again thank you for all of your hard work on this matter and urge you to fairly look at the facts and circumstances in this case, and apply the nation’s trade laws accordingly, so that the American solar industry can finally obtain lasting relief that it so urgently needs.”

Petitioners’ handouts from the ITC hearing are attached.  WILEY REIN SPEECH ITC KAPLAN ITC SPEECH

SOLAR CELLS

On December 31, 2014, the Commerce Department issued its preliminary determination in the first antidumping review investigation in the Solar Cells case. The Antidumping rates fell to 1.82% for Yingli Energy (China) Company (“Yingli”), 1.82% for separate rates companies and 238.56% for all other companies.

The reason for this low rate is that the Commerce Department refused to give a separate antidumping rate to one of the largest Chinese solar producer/exporter—Wuxi Suntech. As stated in prior newsletters, the Department is cracking down and making it much harder for Chinese companies with state ownership to obtain separate dumping rates. As the Department stated in its decision in the preliminary Solar Cells review investigation:

“we have concluded that where a government entity holds a majority ownership share, either directly or indirectly, in the respondent exporter, the majority ownership holding in and of itself means that the government exercises or has the potential to exercise control over the company’s operations generally, which may include control over, for example, the selection of management, a key factor in determining whether a company has sufficient independence in its export activities to merit a separate rate. Consistent with normal business practices, we would expect any majority shareholder, including a government, to have the ability to control, and an interest in controlling, the operations of the company, including the selection of management and the profitability of the company. Accordingly, we have considered the level of government ownership where necessary. . . .

Wuxi Sunshine, an exporter and company in the Wuxi Suntech Single Entity, reported that two of its three shareholders are state-owned companies. The business licenses of these two companies support Wuxi Sunshine’s assertions that these two shareholders are state-owned companies. The government of the People’s Republic of China (“GOC”) indirectly, through these two shareholders, owned a significant percentage of Wuxi Sunshine during the POR.

In this case, we preliminarily determine that the GOC, through its significant ownership interest in Wuxi Sunshine, is in a position to potentially control Wuxi Sunshine’s and therefore, the collapsed entities’ export activities. Moreover, we find the potential to control the collapsed entities’ export activities is further evidenced through the intertwined operations of the companies in the single entity. Because of the level of government ownership in Wuxi Sunshine, and the control or the potential to exercise control that such ownership establishes, we preliminarily conclude that Wuxi Sunshine, and thus the Wuxi Suntech Single Entity, does not satisfy the criteria demonstrating an absence of de facto government control over export activities. Consequently, we preliminarily determine that the Wuxi Suntech Single Entity is ineligible for a separate rate.”

Because of the fact that Wuxi Suntech was refused a separate rate, its new rate is the China Wide rate of 238.56% on its imports.

The Chinese separate rate companies were then given the lower antidumping rate of Yingli.

On the Countervailing duty side, Commerce issued preliminary rates ranging from 8.63 to 22.73% with 15.68% being assigned to all the other companies covered by the review.  The Federal Register notices and Decision Memos are attached.  AD Solar Panels 12-13 AR Prelim Results-12-31-14 CVD Solar Cells 12-12 AR Prelim Decision Memo-12-31-14 CVD Solar Cells Prelim Results- 12-31-14 AD Solar Cells 12-13 AR Decision Memo for Prelim Results-12-31-14

US CHINA SOLAR NEGOTIATIONS

As mentioned in my last update, on December 12th, USTR Michael Froman acknowledged that Washington and Beijing have held talks about the Solar cases for “some time”, but that no agreement had been reached. There was an opportunity for an Agreement when President Obama was in Beijing for the APEC meeting, but there was no agreement.

A major reason for this failure is because Solar World Americas, the petitioner in the U.S. trade remedy cases, stated that it could not accept the parameters that Chinese producers were willing to offer, and the U.S. government was unwilling to push the company to give ground. Knowledgeable sources have said that the floor price is the key sticking point.

From the Chinese companies’ point of view, the Commerce Department does not give good deals in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and thus it is very hard for the Chinese government to agree on a floor price, much higher than the Chinese export price, as the basis for any agreement.

The bottom line is that the Solar Products case will go to Antidumping and Countervailing Duty order, and any deal to succeed would have to be extremely unique, such as the US Canadian Lumber Agreement. The chance of such an agreement is probably small.

In addition, the Canadian government initiated a new antidumping and countervailing duty investigation against Solar Modules and Panels from China. The Complaint and Announcement are attached.   CANADIAN SOLAR COMPLAINT CANADIAN SOLAR ANNOUNCEMENT

Chinese solar cells and panels appear to be on the same trade path as other trade cases against China, as Europe, the US, Australia, India and now Canada have brought antidumping and countervailing duty cases against solar products from China. Many countries may soon block Chinese solar cells and panels out of their market.

IMPACT OF SOLAR CASE ON US INDUSTRY

On December 24, 2014, the China Daily published an article entitled “Commerce decision said to hurt US solar makers”. In the article, the China Daily states:

“US solar manufacturers are already feeling the impact of the latest US Commerce Department decision to levy tariffs on Chinese solar exports, according to the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy.

Commerce’s decision to impose tariffs on solar modules from China will “undercut the growth of American solar jobs and hurt our domestic solar industry,” said Jigar Shah, president of the Coalition for Affordable Solar Energy (CASE), an organization that opposes the original petition filed by Solar World that led to the Commerce decision.

Since the decision, manufacturers like Georgia-based Suniva and Michigan-based Hemlock Semiconductor have been hurt, the company said in a Dec 17 statement. Hemlock Semiconductor said last week that it would close its $1.2 billion Clarksville, Tennessee, plant due to “ongoing challenges presented by global trade disputes,” according to the statement. The facility was never operational, but the closing would affect about 50 employees.

“As difficult as this is, the continued market adversity and complex political conditions have left no economically viable options for Hemlock Semiconductor to operate the site,” said Denise Beachy, president of Hemlock Semiconductor, in the release. “It is unfortunate for both the company and the community that these conditions have forced us to take this action.”

 SENATOR BROWN PROPOSES TOUGHER ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW THAT MAY VIOLATE WTO AGREEMENT AND WILL INJURE US IMPORTERS

On December 10, 2014, Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown introduced the attached legislation, SHERROD BROWN BILL, The Leveling the Playing Field Act, to amend the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws to make them tougher. Senator Brown wants to overturn court decisions that curtail the Commerce Department’s authority in using all facts available to punish Chinese exporters and US importers and also to make it harder for China to become a market economy country. Senator Brown stated in the attached press release, SHERROD BROWN PRESS RELEASE:

“There are encouraging signs of a comeback in American manufacturing, but that progress could be lost if we don’t have strong trade laws to level the playing field. Foreign companies who don’t play by the rules are actively trying to undermine the effectiveness of our trade laws. This bill would restore strength to our trade laws and ensure that American companies can compete in a fair marketplace.”

According to the Press Release,

“The Leveling the Playing Field Act restores strength to the AD/CVD statutes. Specifically, the bill:

  • Maintains Commerce’s discretion to use adverse facts available when a mandatory respondent does not cooperate with an investigation and clarifies that the agency is not obligated to determine what a margin would be if the respondent had participated;
  • Increases the number of factors and the length of time the ITC should use to evaluate injury or the threat of injury to U.S. producers to ensure a determination is based on a comprehensive assessment of a sector’s situation;
  • Closes the “new shipper” loophole used by companies to circumvent AD/CVD duties;
  • Increases penalties for failure to provide a country of origin certificate for merchandise covered under AD/CVD orders or for falsifying the information on the certificate;
  • Clarifies that Commerce has the authority to determine whether to include voluntary respondents in an investigation;
  • Clarifies that Commerce does not have to conduct an additional investigation to prove that disregarded product values used in non-market economy investigations are subsidized or dumped if the record already shows the product values to be distorted; and
  • Clarifies existing statutory provisions used to assess whether a country’s non-market economy status should be maintained.”

FACTS AVAILABLE CHANGE

One of the changes Senator Brown proposes making to the US antidumping law is to make it easier for the Commerce Department to use all facts available to punish foreign companies and US importers, where the foreign company does not cooperate to the best of its ability in the investigation. As the bill states in Section 2(d)(1)(B) and (2):

“SUBSIDY RATES AND DUMPING MARGINS IN ADVERSE INFERENCE DETERMINATIONS:

(B) in the case of an antidumping duty proceeding, use— ‘‘(i) a dumping margin based on any individual sale of the subject merchandise calculated with respect to any exporter or producer involved in the proceeding during the investigation or review,

‘‘(ii) an individual weighted average dumping margin calculated with respect to any exporter or producer involved in the proceeding during the investigation or a review

‘‘(iii) any dumping margin alleged in a petition filed under section 732(b) that was relied on by the administering authority to initiate the antidumping duty investigation, or

‘‘(iv) any dumping margin found in another antidumping duty proceeding with respect to a class or kind of merchandise that is the same or similar to and from the same country as subject merchandise involved in the proceeding.

‘‘(2) DISCRETION TO APPLY HIGHEST RATE.—

The administering authority has the discretion under paragraph (1), in selecting from among facts otherwise available, to apply any of the countervailable subsidy rates or dumping margins specified under that paragraph, including the highest such rate or margin.

‘‘(3) NO OBLIGATION TO MAKE CERTAIN ESTIMATES OR ADDRESS CERTAIN CLAIMS.

If the administering authority uses an adverse inference under subsection (b)(1)(A) in selecting among facts 8 otherwise available, the administering authority is not required, for purposes of subsection (c) or for any other purpose— . . . .

‘‘(B) to demonstrate that the countervailable subsidy rate or dumping margin used by the administering authority reflects the commercial reality of the interested party.”

These proposed changes to the law are a direct response to a set of decisions by the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit finding that the law requires Commerce when making an all facts available determination to not simply use a presumption. Pursuant to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law, 19 USC 1677e(c), when the Commerce Department uses secondary information because the Chinese company has refused to cooperate or has not provided the information on time to replace the information provided Commerce “shall to the extent practicable, corroborate that information from independent sources that are reasonably at its disposable.” The Courts have interpreted this to mean that the secondary information must be “commercially reasonable”.

Those requirements, in turn, came from the antidumping and countervailing duty law and also from the WTO Antidumping Agreement, which the United States has signed, and states in Annex II, Best Information Available paragraph 7:

“If the authorities have to base their findings, including those with respect to normal value, on information from a secondary source, including the information supplied in the initiation of the investigation [the Petition], they should do so with special circumspection. In such cases, the authorities should, where practicable, check the information from other independent sources at their disposal, such as published price lists, official import statistics, and customs returns, and from the information obtained from other interested parties during the investigation.”

In fact, on December 18, 2014 in the attached United States – Countervailing Duty Measures on Certain Products from China decision, KEY FINDINGS wto2014_3483a FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS COMPLETE WTO REPORT, the WTO Appellate Body found the United States in violation of the WTO Agreement with regards to US countervailing duty cases against China on the very issues that Senator Brown wants to change the language of the law. Specifically, one of the WTO’s key findings is:

“Use of facts available: . . .

 The Appellate Body recalled that Article12.7 requires that an investigating authority [Commerce Department] must use those facts available that reasonably replace the missing “necessary” information that an interested party failed to provide. The Appellate Body also reiterated that ascertaining reasonable replacements for the missing information involves a process of reasoning and evaluation on the part of the investigating authority, although the evaluation that is required, and the form it may take, depend on the particular circumstances of a given case, including the nature, quality and amount of the evidence on the record and the particular determinations to be made. With respect to China’s claim of error under Article 11 of the DSU, the Appellate Body found that the Panel failed to address each of the 42 instances of the USDOC’s use of “adverse” facts available challenged by China.”

As the WTO further stated in its determination:

“. . . . Accordingly, the Appellate Body has explained that “there has to be a connection between the ‘necessary information’ that is missing and the particular ‘facts available’ on which a determination under Article 12.7 is based.” Therefore, “an investigating authority must use those ‘facts available’ that ‘reasonably replace the information that an interested party failed to provide’, with a view to arriving at an accurate determination.” The Appellate Body has further explained that “the facts available” refers to those facts that are in the possession of the investigating authority and on its written record. As determinations made under Article 12.7 are to be made on the basis of “the facts available”, “they cannot be made on the basis of non-factual assumptions or speculation.” Furthermore, in reasoning and evaluating which facts available can reasonably replace the missing information, “all substantiated facts on the record must be taken into account” by an investigating authority.”

In addition, in a long series of cases beginning in 1934 with a decision by the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals, the forerunner of the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, C. J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 71 F. 2d 438 (C.C. P. A. 1934), Courts have held that US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are remedial, not penal statutes, and, therefore, respondents are not entitled to full due process of law. As the Court of Customs and Patent Appeals stated:

“[W]e cannot escape the conviction that the expressed purpose of Congress, in the Antidumping Act of 1921, was to impose not a penalty, but an amount of duty sufficient to equalize competitive conditions between the exporter and American industries affected . . . . It follows that the Antidumping Act of 1921 is not repugnant to the provisions of said Amendment V [to the U.S. Constitution], as denying to the importer due process of law . . . .”

C.J. Tower & Sons v. United States, 21 C.C.P.A. 417, 427–28, 71 F.2d 438, 445–46 (1934).

Federal Courts have found that the antidumping and countervailing duty laws are not penal statutes but remedial statutes. If the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws were truly penal statutes, US importers and Chinese exporters would be entitled to full due process of law under the US Administrative Procedure Act, including the right to a full trial proceeding, the right to cross examine witnesses and a decision by a neutral Administrative Law Judge. Chinese Companies and US importers, however, have no such right and that is why decisions are made by the US Commerce Department, which can take a prosecutorial approach to these cases.

In other words, in the face of WTO determinations and similar decisions of the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, Senator Brown’s amendments are to eliminate the requirement that any AFA determination reflect commercial reality and be a “reasonable” replacement for the missing information….”

The WTO Appellate Body went on to state:

“We also note that the instances challenged by China, and with respect to which it requests that we complete the legal analysis, include several instances wherein the USDOC [Commerce Department] relied on “adverse” facts available in support of its public body, benefit, specificity and export restraints determinations. The Panel found, however, with respect to China’s claim under Article 1.1(a)(1) of the SCM Agreement, that “in the 12 countervailing duty investigations challenged by China the United States acted inconsistently with Article 1.1(a)(1) of the SCM Agreement when the USDOC found that SOEs [State Owned Enterprises] public bodies based solely on the grounds that these enterprises were (majority) owned, or otherwise controlled, by the Government of China.” The Panel also found that the USDOC acted inconsistently with the obligations of the United States under Article 2.1(c) of the SCM Agreement in making its specificity determinations in the context of these investigations. The United States does not challenge these findings on appeal.

Nor does the United States challenge the Panel’s finding that “the USDOC’s initiation of two countervailing duty investigations [–i.e. Magnesia Bricks and Seamless Pipe–] in respect of certain export restraints is inconsistent with Article 11.3 of the SCM Agreement.” These findings therefore stand. Furthermore, we have found above that the USDOC acted inconsistently with the obligations of the United States under Article 14(d) and Article 1.1(b) of the SCM Agreement in making its benefit determinations in the context of the investigations in OCTG, Line Pipe, Pressure Pipe, and Solar Panels . . . . . .”

In its conclusion, the WTO determines:

“with respect to the Panel’s findings, in paragraphs 7.325 and 8.1.vii of the Panel Report, in respect of the [Commerce Department’s] USDOC’s use of “adverse” facts available in the Pressure Pipe, Line Pipe, Citric Acid, Lawn Groomers, OCTG, Wire Strand, Magnesia Bricks, Seamless Pipe, Print Graphics, Drill Pipe, Aluminum Extrusions, Steel Cylinders, and Solar Panels countervailing duty investigations, reverses the Panel’s finding that China had not established that the USDOC acted inconsistently with the obligations of the United States under Article 12.7 of the SCM Agreement by not relying on facts available on the record; and finds that it is unable to complete the legal analysis in this regard.”

In light of the many arguments by US trade officials arguing that China is violating the WTO agreement, the question must be asked: which country is violating the WTO Agreement now?

More importantly, one should understand that even when Commerce has been reversed by the Courts after Commerce has applied all facts available; this does not mean that the Chinese or any foreign company can begin shipping to the United States at a low rate again. The All Facts Available (“AFA”) rate that Commerce determines is always bad and has the effect of often shutting the foreign company out of the US market for years. The real impact of the AFA rate is not on the foreign exporter. It is on the US importer, the US company, which imports products into the US, and can be exposed to retroactive liability for antidumping rates as high as 100, 200, 300 or even more than 600% and millions, if not 10s of millions, of dollars in retroactive antidumping and/or countervailing duties.

The innocent party in these cases is the US importer, which is often an independent actor with no relationship to the Chinese exporter. The importer often has no control over whether or if the foreign/Chinese company responds to the antidumping or countervailing duty investigation or how the Chinese company responds. The reality is that once the US importer imports under an antidumping and/or countervailing duty order, the US importer is exposed to millions, if not 10s of millions, of dollars in retroactive liability and bankruptcy. As one importer told me, importing under an antidumping order is like importing cancer.

MARKET ECONOMY CHANGE

In addition, Senator Brown’s bill proposes to amend the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Law to provide an additional condition before China can be considered a market economy country. That provision specifically provides:

 SEC. 8. CLARIFICATION OF FACTORS FOR DETERMINING WHETHER A COUNTRY IS A NONMARKET ECONOMY COUNTRY.

Section 771(18)(B) of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1677(18)(B)) is amended. . . (3) by inserting after clause (v) the following:

‘‘(vi) the extent to which the government of the foreign country enforces and administers its laws, legal and administrative procedures, and other policies in an open and transparent manner that affords all parties, whether foreign or domestic, due process and equal and non-discriminatory treatment under those laws, procedures, and policies . . . .

But the most discriminatory law may be the US nonmarket economy antidumping law, which refuses to treat China as any other country in the World, including Iran. 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.   Dumping is defined as selling at prices in the United States below prices in the home market or below the fully allocated cost of production.  Since Commerce refuses to use actual costs and prices to determine whether the company is dumping, 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. Because of the surrogate values from surrogate countries, it is impossible for the Chinese company, never mind the US importer, to know whether the Chinese company is dumping.

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

 “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 use a nonmarket economy methodology “shall expire 15 years after the date of accession”. China acceded to the WTO on December 11, 2001 so Section 15(d) should kick in on December 11, 2016.

But where did the 15 years come from? It came from a demand by the United States in the US-China WTO Accession Agreement, so in accordance with a Treaty signed by the United States, on or after December 11, 2016 Commerce may no longer use a non-market economy methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices or costs in China.

But the United States’ apparent position is that since the 15 years is in a Treaty, which was demanded by the United States, and not the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty law, the United States does not have to follow the demand, which it made.

So what happens when the United States does not enforce and administer its “laws, legal and administrative procedures, and other policies in an open and transparent manner that affords all parties, whether foreign or domestic, due process and equal and non-discriminatory treatment under those laws, procedures, and policies”? What happens when the United States itself violates the WTO agreement?

 IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE POLITICS AND TRADE AGREEMENTS

ONE ISSUE MOVING IN CONGRESS NEXT YEAR—TRADE

As stated in the last post, the November 4th Election and the Republican wave will have a dramatic impact on trade policy in Washington DC in 2015. On December 17, 2014, the last House of Representatives Race was decided in Arizona, and the Republican candidate won. In the new 2015 Congress, Republicans control the House 247 Republicans to 118 Democrats, which is the largest Republican majority in 87 years. In the Senate, with the defeat of the incumbent Democratic Senator Mary Landrieu in Louisiana by the Republican candidate, the Republicans control the Senate 54 to 46. In the Senate, however, Republicans will need Democratic votes to get over a 60 vote barrier created by the Filibuster Rule and also more Democratic votes if they want to overturn a Presidential veto.

On December 3rd in a speech to the Business Round Table in New York, President Obama agreed to work with Congressional leaders, including Republican leaders, to pass Trade Promotion Authority and the trade agreements. President Obama also stated that he needs to gain support from labor unions and environmental groups, which have been opposed to the trade agreements.

As President Obama stated, “I’m going to be talking to McConnell … and Boehner, Reid and Pelosi, and making a strong case on the merits as to why this has to get done.” The President further stated, “We have to be able to talk directly to the public about why trade is good for America, good for American businesses and good for American workers, and we have to dispel some of the myths.”

But the President first has to deal with his own Democratic party,

“Part of the argument that I’m making to Democrats is, don’t fight the last war. If you want to … locate in a low-wage country, with low labor standards and low environmental standards, there hasn’t been that much preventing you from doing so.”

“Ironically, if we are able to get Trans-Pacific Partnership done, then we’re actually forcing some countries to boost their labor standards, boost their environmental standards, boost transparency, reduce corruption, increase intellectual property protection. Those who oppose these trade deals, ironically, are accepting a status quo that is more damaging to American workers.”

Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, who is the new Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, welcomed the Presidents statement, saying, “If past experience has taught us anything, it’s that we need presidential leadership to get TPA over the finish line. The president’s influence, particularly among members of his own party, will be a vital component to congressional efforts.”

US CHINA TRADE AGREEMENTS

 INTERNATIONAL TECHNOLOGY AGREEMENT (“ITA”) FALLS APART IN GENEVA

After President Obama’s “successful” APEC trip to Beijing in November, the hopes for an International Technology Agreement (“ITA”) were high, but the hopes disappeared when the Agreement came back to Geneva

With regards to ITA, in Beijing at the APEC meeting, the US government announced on November 10th that it had convinced China to eliminate tariffs on tech goods like advanced semiconductors and medical devices. The Chinese government agreed to U.S. demands to eventually eliminate tariffs on advanced semiconductors known as MCOs, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machines, and high-tech testing equipment, but the deal did not include tariff elimination on flat-panel displays.

But the WTO talks feel apart on December 12th because China and South Korea failed to reach agreement over liquid crystal display screens after eight days of negotiations. China wanted all countries to accept the same terms that it negotiated bilaterally last month with the U.S., which did not include LCD screens, while South Korea wanted them in.

The core group negotiating the updated ITA includes the EU, U.S., Japan, China, South Korea, Australia, Switzerland, Norway, New Zealand, Singapore, Taipei, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Hong Kong, Costa Rica, Israel, Croatia, Turkey, Bahrain, Montenegro, Iceland, El Salvador, Guatemala, Colombia, Dominican Republic and Albania. A fact sheet circulated by the White House noted that the expansion of the ITA pact would eventually eliminate tariffs on roughly $1 trillion in annual global sales of information technology products and boost the annual global GDP by an estimated $190 billion.

On December 12th the USTR issued the attached statement by US WTO Ambassador Michael Punke, USTR STATE ITA FAILURE, which states in part:

“The United States is grateful for all the hard work done this week to bring us this close to an ITA expansion agreement. We are gratified that the U.S.-China breakthrough last month allowed us all to get back to the table and that so much of the US-China breakthrough agreement has been embraced by our plurilateral process. Indeed that bilateral breakthrough is the pillar upon which a potential plurilateral deal rests. We appreciate this was widely recognized by participants. . . .

Through the consultations over the last few weeks, it became clear that certain Members had important interests that were not fully captured by the bilateral agreement. And those members came a long way toward accepting 99% of that agreement, but asked that small adjustments be made in order to be able to accept the deal. . . .

Like everyone in the room, we are disappointed not to be celebrating a deal this week. We missed a big opportunity. All of us will need to go back to our capitals and reflect hard on next steps.”

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

 TPA FACED HEADWINDS IN CONGRESS BUT THEN THE ELECTION HAPPENED

As mentioned in past blog posts, in the trade world, the most important developments may be the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic (TA)/ the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP negotiations and the WTO.  The TPP is a free trade agreement being negotiated by officials from the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues become a focal point in Congress and many Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the story continues . . . .

As indicated above, on December 3, 2014 at a Business Roundtable Meeting in New York City President Obama vowed to continue working with Congressional leaders on the TPA and the TPP deals.

Although there was substantial optimism about the President’s ability to work with the Republican Congress on trade policy, on December 5th Congressman Sander Levin, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, continued to express skepticism over the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Congressman Levin told reporters that his many questions on the TPP regarding issues, such as agricultural market access, labor rights and currency manipulation rules, remain unanswered. He called on the Obama administration to give Congress a more prominent role in closing the deal. As Congressman Levin stated,

“I want there to be set up some structure so that there is regular consultation with the committees of jurisdiction as the negotiations ensue so that there is … full discussion of what is in the documents, and of what is being proposed by the administration, and what are the positions of other countries, and what are the likely bottom lines of this administration.”

Although the USTR has been continually briefing Congress on the TPP, Levin claimed that policy amounts to “considerable consultation” without “meaningful involvement” from the legislative branch. Levin stated that the administration’s positions on key areas remain shrouded in mystery. “At this point, can I tell you what is the administration’s position on tobacco? The answer is no. Can I tell you where they are on agriculture? No.”

Levin further stated:

“If you put the focus on TPA when you have so many outstanding issues, essentially what it does is force or stimulate members to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to TPP before so many of the outstanding issues have been resolved. So essentially I think it makes it more difficult, not less difficult, to get an effective TPP.”

On December 5, 2014, four Democratic Congressmen sent the attached letter, ACTUAL LETTER DEMS LABOR, to the Obama Administration stating that the Administration should use the TPP negotiation to push for labor reforms regarding the use of child and forced labor, specifically in Vietnam, Mexico, Peru and Malaysia. The four Congressmen/women stated:

December 4, 2014

In May, we wrote to you with 149 of our colleagues calling on you not to pursue the same approach to labor rights in free trade agreements that has failed in past pacts. In response, you noted that our free trade partners have made efforts to improve their labor conditions and that the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) “allows the United States to take a leading role in shaping global trade policy by raising standards, allowing us to make progress toward a global trading system that reflects our core values.”

However, a recent report by the Labor Department’s Bureau of international Labor Affairs (ILAB) disputes that assertion, and we have no indication that U.S. negotiators are taking a new approach to ensure labor rights are protected.

ILAB’s annual List of Goods Produced by Child Labor or Forced Labor report sheds light on some of the worst forms of labor abuses worldwide, and highlights the countries that produce goods using child and forced labor. Vietnam, Mexico, Peru, and Malaysia, one-third of the nations included in the TPP, were all cited for labor abuses in the report.

We are following up with you because we believe it is important that you take action to ensure that real, meaningfully enforceable labor protections are in the TPP, and we request a briefing for Members of Congress to better understand what specific new measures are being developed and what new assurances are being put in place during TPP negotiations.

The report has particularly troubling findings on several TPP member nations. Only four countries globally are cited for forced and child labor in their apparel sector, including Vietnam.

Over the course of the last year of TPP negotiations, electronics products from Malaysia were added to the list of goods produced through forced labor. Malaysia is one of only seven countries in which the Labor Department found worsening child or forced labor conditions in 2014. In addition, the report identified child labor violations in eleven sectors in Mexico- the fifth broadest usage of child labor cited in the report. By comparison, China uses child labor in six sectors.

Free trade agreements with nations that violate international child labor and forced labor standards not only undermine our moral authority, but they also capitalize on the lack of oversight and regulation in developing nations. Here in this country, we have fought hard to protect our workers, yet, our free trade policy undermines those protections by sending American jobs to countries that do not play by the rules. . . .

We have a responsibility to ensure that under no circumstances is it acceptable for children to work in sweatshops to produce the goods we consume. We can and must do better.

It is critically important that we make stronger efforts to end these worker abuses, with the Administration’s ongoing push for trade promotion authority, these ongoing issues must first be addressed.

Reps. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., George Miller, D-Calif., Loretta Sanchez, D-Calif., and Mark Pocan, D-Wis.

It should be noted as reported in past blog posts, the United States too uses “forced labor” prison labor to produce products. In fact, the Justice Department’s Business Development Group, Federal Bureau of Prisons, is presently soliciting manufacturing business from various companies. The Federal Bureau of Prisons is presently producing wood flooring and other products in the United States. I have been told that Canada recently stopped exports of wood flooring products from the United States, which were produced with prison labor.

In response to the Congressional letter, President Obama stated that his effort to revive TPA — which has not been in effect since 2007 — will require outreach to labor unions, which have traditionally been skeptical of trade liberalization.

On December 8th, labor unions, environmentalists and other opponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership on Monday descended on Washington, D.C., to protest the latest round of negotiations, reiterating their claims that the pact will ravage the American workforce and place business interests above those of consumers.

On December 11, 2014 incoming House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Republican Pat Tiberi of Ohio, stated that while Republicans have been pleased with President Barack Obama’s bipartisan approach to a growing slate of trade policy issues next year, the White House will need to step up its engagement to ensure optimal results. In response to President Obama’s Business Roundtable speech, Tiberi stated:

“We are hopeful, but one speech does not provide enough leadership to get all this done. The trade representative is a very good one and we look forward to working with him. But at the end of the day, it’s got to be the President and he is going to have to show leadership and I think he may on this one.”

Tiberi, who has been in the House for 14-years and has served on Ways and Means since 2007, stated that he will do all he can to make sure the president’s bipartisan sentiments trickle down to the members on his panel and throughout the committee, stating:

“I am a big believer in trying to work with the other side. Having the President provide leadership on trade — and it appears as though he may — is pretty exciting with a Republican Senate and a Republican House in what is clearly the best opportunity since the President became President to do something on trade.”

Tiberi further stated:

“I think giving authority to persons within the administration to negotiate in the best interests of the United States is the best way to actually get a trade agreement, because there are a lot of complex issues that go into these negotiations both from our perspective and our potential trading partners’ perspective as well.”

Tiberi also stated that while lawmakers should always urge the administration to be more forthright about its negotiating efforts, the criticisms of trade agreements as job killers are largely misplaced, as those arguments ignore the jobs created by opening export markets and creating new investment opportunities. As Tiberi stated, “If the shoe were on the other foot and I were the U.S. trade representative, I wouldn’t necessarily be offended because I think we could always do a better job on the issue of transparency.”

On December 14th, Prime Minister Abe won reelection in Japan with a landslide, which will give Japan more flexibility in the TTP negotiations.

On January 5, 2015, after the new Congress was sworn in, US Senator Bernie Sanders, an independent that is on the Democratic side, attacked the Obama administration for an “incomprehensible” lack of transparency surrounding the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations and called for the release of the full version of the current TPP text.

In a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, Sanders said it was “troubling” and “unacceptable” that he and other lawmakers have only been able to get a thorough look at the TPP deal through unofficial leaks of various chapters. The Senator further stated:

“It is incomprehensible to me that the leaders of major corporate interests who stand to gain enormous financial benefits from this agreement are actively involved in the writing of the TPP while, at the same time, the elected officials of this country, representing the American people, have little or no knowledge as to what is in it. In my view, this is simply unacceptable.”

Sanders emphasized that Congressional review of the TPP deal text is mandatory because any trade agreement will not be open for amendments if the Administration reaches a deal to renew the president’s expired Trade Promotion Authority this year.

The Senator gave the USTR a deadline of Jan. 16 to provide him with a copy of the full composite text, without redactions, and requested that staff and experts of his choosing also be allowed access to the documents to take notes and “analyze the relevant statutory and economic implications” of the deal.

The USTR has repeatedly stressed that it will publish the TPP text “well before” it is signed to invite further comment from stakeholders. The agency also says it has a longstanding policy of giving members of Congress access to confidential documents on request, but some lawmakers have complained of procedural problems in getting access to the dcouments.

Sanders added that if his request is not fulfilled, he would like a full legal justification for USTR’s refusal and also vowed to file a bill that would mandate the publication of trade negotiating texts at the request of any member of Congress.

The Vermont independent sharply criticized Froman’s office for placing the interests of large multinational corporations over those of U.S. citizens and for gradually chipping away at the legislative branch’s oversight of international trade, stating:

“The Constitution of the United States gives Congress ‘the authority to regulate commerce with foreign nations. That is not my language. That is the Constitution of the United States of America.”

On January 6, 2015, after meeting in Washington D.C., US and Mexican government officials agreed to continue their efforts to finalize the ongoing TPP negotiations as soon as possible. In a Joint Statement the two countries said:

“We have made significant progress over the past year in setting the stage to finalize a high-standard and comprehensive agreement. With the end coming into focus, the United States, Mexico and the other 10 TPP countries are strongly committed to moving the negotiations forward to conclusion as soon as possible. The substantial new opportunities for U.S. and Mexican exporters that the TPP will offer will be enhanced by our work together in the HLED.”

A senior White Official also stated:

“We’re working closely together to conclude the historic Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement early this year. The leaders are most likely to focus on the dynamics of the various countries as we’re coming to the end of the negotiations of TPP. We think that there’s a chance to get this done in the relatively near future.”

On January 7, 2015, the AFL-CIO labor union called on the Obama administration to push for far-reaching improvements to Mexico’s labor and human rights regime and raised the possibility of dropping Mexico from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership talks if those reforms are not swiftly implemented.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stated in a letter to President Obama:

“Mexico must eliminate the corrupt system of labor boards and allow workers to choose their representatives in a democratic manner free from intimidation. As a party to the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, U.S. negotiators must demand that Mexico implement changes prior to entering into any trade agreement, as current laws are not in compliance with any credible labor chapter. . . .

The U.S. and Mexican government must work cooperatively to ensure that goods made with forced and child labor are not exported into the U.S. market. The Mexican government must vigorously enforce its labor laws in the agricultural sector and step up its efforts to combat child labor — not by criminalizing child workers and their families, but by providing educational opportunities and incentives.”

On January 7, 2015, Republican leaders started moving in both chambers of the U.S. Congress to build the case for renewing TPA indicating that a bill will be introduced in the early part of the year.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., stated that talks to reinstate Trade Promotion Authority have been underway for some time and reiterated his belief that trade remains a critical area in which the Republican majority in Congress and President Barack Obama can find common ground, stating:

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

But neither McConnell nor Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, could offer a specific
timetable for the legislation to be introduced, indicating that lawmakers are still ironing out the final details of the bill.

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

All of the political gamesmanship between Obama and Congress appears to have disappeared.  A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, on Tuesday issued a statement urging the president to highlight the need for fresh TPA legislation in speech to Michigan auto workers.

Boehner spokesman Cory Fritz stated,

“The president can begin this year with yet another campaign-style event to try and take credit for an economy that Americans know could be doing a lot better, or he can stand up to those in his own political party and begin building a coalition to help boost American exports and job creation,” .

McConnell said he was happy that the president had become a “born-again free trader,” but stressed that Obama would have to weather resistance from traditional Democratic trade opponents if he is to be taken seriously in the quest to reinstate TPA.

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

TPP FOR CHINA??

On October 15th, the Peterson Institute for International Economic (”IIE”) released a study touting the benefits of a theoretical free trade agreement between China and the United States, including increased income and export gains, while also acknowledging that such an agreement could lead to 500,000 to 1 million lost U.S. jobs over a 10-year span. The opening chapter as well as an IIE powerpoint are attached.  IIE FREE TRADE AGREEMENT CHINA US CHINA FTA FIRST CHAPTER

On December 3, 2014, former U.S. Trade Representative Carla Hills in comments to the National Foreign Trade Council called for a free trade arrangement between the U.S. and China as a way of easing economic tensions and promoting better trade flows for international supply chains. Hills listed three possible options: bringing China into the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement; negotiating a separate free trade agreement with China; or completing a series of agreements, such as a bilateral investment treaty or through an expanded Information Technology Agreement, which would liberalize U.S-China trade on a sector basis.

Hills, who sits on the Board of the Peterson Institute for International Economics (IIE), pointed to the Study. The Report stated that trade could increase exponentially on both side, but could lead to 500,000 to 1 million lost U.S. jobs over a 10-year span.

As stated in my prior post, that is where Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies comes into play. The Peterson study contends that because the economic benefits equate to roughly $1.25 million in national income gains per job lost, the U.S. should consider policy alternatives to offset job loss rather than simply abandon an FTA with China.

On December 10th, in a speech to the Export Council, President Obama invited China to follow TPP Rules, though not as a formal member, stating:

“And we hope that … China actually joins us, in not necessarily formally being a member of TPP, but in adopting some of the best practices that ensure fairness in operations.”

President Obama further stated, “They [China] will take whatever they can get. They will exploit every advantage that they have until they meet some resistance.”

Echoing a statement by Chinese President Xi Jinping at the APEC meeting, however, Obama also stated China has a “great interest in the relationship with the United States and [recognizes] the interdependence that has evolved between our two economies.” Everything the U.S. is trying to do in TPP has a “direct application” to China, which could be a reference to establishing new disciplines on state-owned enterprises and intellectual property protection.

Overall, Obama said the “key” to the U.S. trade relationship with China is to “continue to simply press them on those areas where trade is imbalanced, whether it’s on their currency practices, whether it’s on IP protection, whether it’s on their state-owned enterprises.” He said the bilateral investment treaty in which China has “shown an interest in negotiating could end up being a significant piece of business.”

The president also touted the breakthrough in the negotiations to expand the Information Technology Agreement (ITA) that the U.S. reached with China during the president’s trip to Asia last month. “And I think that it’s indicative of [China’s] interest in trying to get this right.”

CHINA AUSTRALIA FTA

On November 17th, Australia and China signed a free trade agreement to allow greater Australian agricultural exports and greater investment in China and increased Chinese exports to Australia. According to the Australian Prime Minister, the Agreement is predicted to add billions to the Australian economy create jobs and drive higher living standards.

INDIA US BILATERAL DEAL MOVES TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT FORWARD

 On November 27, 2014, the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which had been blocked by India, was back on track after a vote at the WTO. The TFA simplifies and harmonizes customs procedures and mandates customs reforms such as introducing transparency, risk based management by customs administrations, a “single window” for all government agencies dealing with imported merchandise, automation, electronic payment of duties and the separation of the payment of duties from the release of cargo, among other things. These improvements are intended to facilitate trade across borders, thereby reducing the costs for international traders and ultimately consumers.

On December 11th, the WTO reported that Hong Kong was the first country to ratify the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which will streamline global customs rules.  Irene Young , Hong Kong’s representative stated that “A multilateral TFA, which can significantly enhance trade flows, is very important to Hong Kong, China, and I believe it is no less so for other economies. Ultimately, the agreement will benefit all of us, but that is only possible when it actually comes into effect.”

In response, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo stated:

“I hope that other members will gain inspiration from this and will soon be able to follow Hong Kong, China’s lead.”

The TFA needs to be ratified by two-thirds of the WTO’s members to come into effect.

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSITANCE PROGRAM—REAUTHORIZATION

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

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

“Fund TAA at the previous level of $575 million and Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms at $50 million to provide financial assistance and expertise to import-affected manufacturers to help them become more competitive.”

In talking to one TAAC in the Midwest, the problem is that the money is so low that there are companies lined up to get assistance, but the money is committed as soon as it is authorized, so many companies will not get this vital assistance.

To summarize, on December 8th, a number of Democratic Congressmen, including ranking Ways and Means member, Sander Levin, and Congressmen Adam Smith and Derek Kilmer from Washington wrote in the attached letter, HOUSE CONGRESSIONAL LETTER, to Speaker Boehner and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi asking that that the program be reauthorized:

“December 8, 2014

Dear Speaker Boehner and Leader Pelosi, . . .

We write to call your attention to the fast-approaching expiration of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program and urge you to bring legislation to the floor that would enable this effective program to continue assisting both firms and workers beyond December 31, 2014.

Since its inception, TAA has helped both workers and businesses cope with job losses resulting from increased global competition. According to the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL), approximately two million workers nationwide have relied on TAA for Workers (T AAW) since 1975 to make ends meet and receive training necessary to find a new job in high-skill, growing industries. In addition, according to the Economic Development Agency’s 4th annual report, 882 trade-impacted firms have received assistance through TAA for Firms (TAAF) in 2013. These firms employed over 76,000 workers at the time of their entry into TAAF and at least one firm was located in 48 of the 50 states throughout the country.

TAAW not only helps hard-working Americans whose jobs have been adversely impacted by trade, but it allows those workers to reenter the workforce and contribute to our economy with better skills and training. The program provides training assistance and income support enabling dislocated workers to retrain for employment in competitive industries. The success of this program is proven by the fact that 75 percent of TAA workers secured a job 6 months after leaving the program and 90 percent of those workers remained employed a year thereafter.

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

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

TAA for firms will become even more important with the passage of any free trade agreement, including the TPP.

ANTIDUMPING, COUNTERVAILING DUTY AND OTHER TRADE CASES

CIRCUMVENTION OF ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS ORDER??

On December 11, 2014, in the attached letter to Assistant Secretary Paul Piquado at the Commerce Department, MCCONELL ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS, Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell pressed Commerce on circumvention of the US antidumping order on Aluminum Extrusions from China stating:

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

In 2012. I introduced legislation with my Senate colleagues that-once enacted into law- allowed the Department of Commerce (DOC) to impose countervailing duties on certain imports from communist and nonmarket countries. This law and DOC’s subsequent implementation of countervailing duties and anti-dumping measures on a number of U.S. imports subsidized by foreign governments helped protect over a thousand Kentucky jobs.

Unfortunately, my constituents have informed me that they believe certain exporters are engaged in aluminum alloy dumping activities in the U.S. market. My constituents have conveyed to me that these and related injurious trade practices abroad have already led to a reduction in more than 75 jobs and threaten additional Kentucky jobs if no action is taken.

I am told that your department plans to review the scope of countervailing duties and anti-dumping duties that are intended to prevent these abuses of international trade practices. In addition to their concerns surrounding potential dumping activities, my constituents have expressed to me their concerns regarding the metrics involved in this review process.

As your department proceeds with its review and other related investigations to curb unfair trade practices, I ask that you give full and fair consideration to the concerns of my constituents. I have enclosed their correspondence for your convenience.

Thank you for your time and attention to this matter. I look forward to receiving your response.

Sincerely,

Mitch McConnell”

United States Senator

JANUARY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE. REVIEWS

On January 2, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, JANUARY REVIEWS, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of January. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Crepe Paper Products,   Ferrovanadium, Folding Gift Boxes, Potassium Permanganate, and Wooden Bedroom Furniture.

The specific countervailing duty cases are Oil Country Tubular Goods and Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe.

For those US import companies that imported Potassium Permanganate, Wooden Bedroom Furniture, OCTG and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period January 1, 2014-December 31, 2014 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

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

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

The sanctions will eventually increase more with the Congressional passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which will be attached to my blog, which President Obama signed into law on December 19, 2014.

Although the law provides for additional sanctions if warranted, at the time of the signing, the White House stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The facilitation of any such transactions.

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

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

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

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

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

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

In the attached petition, PRINT CARTRIDGES 337 PETITION, on December 23, 2014, Seiko Epson filed a new 337 patent case against Certain Ink Cartridges and Components Thereof against the following Chinese companies and US importers:

Zhuhai Nano Digital Technology Co., Ltd.; Nano Business & Technology, Inc.; Zhuhai National Resources & Jingjie Imaging Products Co., Ltd.; Huebon Co., Ltd.; Chancen Co.; Ltd.; Zhuhai Rich Imaging Technology Co., Ltd.; Shanghai Orink Infotech International Co., Ltd.; Orink Infotech International Co.; Ltd., Zinyaw LLC; Yotat Group Co., Ltd.; Yotat (Zhuhai) Technology Co., Ltd.; Ourway Image C0., Ltd.; Kingway Image Co., Ltd.; Zhuhai Chinamate Technology, Co., Ltd.; InkPro2day, LLC; Dongguan 0cBestjet Printer Consumables Co., Ltd.; OcBestjet Printer Consumables (HK) Co., Ltd.; Aomya Printer Consumables (Zhuhai) Co., Ltd.; and Zhuhai Richeng Development Co., Ltd.

PATENT AND IP CASES IN GENERAL

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

On November 25, 2014, the attached new patent infringement complaint was filed by Invue Security Products, Inc. v. Hangzhou Langhong Technology Co., Ltd. and Langhong Technology USA Inc.  HANGZHOU PATENT

On December 5, 2014, the attached new patent infringement complaint was filed by Ultratech, Inc. dba Ultratech Cambridge Nanotech versus Esnure Nanotech (Beijing) Inc., Ensure Nanotech LLC d/b/a Ensure Scientific Group LLC and Dongjun Wang. CHINA NANOTECH PATENT CASE

On December 5, 2014, the attached new patent infringement complaint was filed Harvatech Corp. vs. Cree Inc., Cree Hong Kong Ltd., and CREE Shanghai Opto Development Ltd. CREE HONG KONG

On December 10, 2014, the attached new patent complaint was filed by Optical Tech IP LLC v. Huawei Technologies USA Inc. HUAWEI

On December 16, 2014, the attached new patent infringement complaint was filed by Hitachi Maxwell Ltd. vs. Top Victory Electronics (Taiwan Co. Ltd.), TPV International USA Inc., Envision Peripherals Inc., Top Victory Electronics (Fujian) Co., Ltd., TPV Electronics (Fujian) Co. Ltd., TPV Technology Ltd., and TPV Display Technology (Xiamen) Co., Ltd. XIAMEN FUJIAN PATENT CASE TVS

On December 18, 2014, the attached new patent complaints were filed Dynamic Hosting Company LLC versus Huawei Technologies USA Inc. and ZTE (USA) Inc. HUAWEI DYNAMIC HOSTING ZTE DYNAMIC HOSTING

On December 31, 2014, the attached new patent complaint was filed by Adaptive Data LLC versus Huawei Technologies USA Inc., Huawei Device USA Inc. and Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd. HUAWEI3

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

On December 10, 2014, the attached products liability complaint was filed by Diana Alvarez Gonzales et al v. Shandong Linglong Tyre Co., Ltd., Horizon Tire, Inc., Horizon Tire Corp., Bridgestone Americas Tire Operations LLC., and GCR Tire. SHANDONG TYRE COMPANY

On December 26, 2014, Tower Insurance Company filed the attached products liability complaint against Jarden Corp., Sunbeam Products, Inc. and Foshan Shunde Toppin Electrical Technology Co., Ltd. CHINESE HEATER PRODUCTS LIABILITY COMPLAINT

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

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 16, 2014

Dear Friends,

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

TRADE PROTECTIONISM INCLUDING UNFAIR TRADE CASES DO NOT WORK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added.

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

A 21st TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSITANCE PROGRAM—A MODEST PROPOSAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added.

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

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

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT??—CORRECTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, the case moves on and expands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the story continues . . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canadian and Vietnamese government officials issued similar statements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By The Editorial Board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TTIP—FREE TRADE AGREEEMENT WITH EU

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

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

INDIA STILL KILLS WTO TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT NEGOTIATED IN BALI

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

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

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

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

Azevedo stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIRES FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOUGHER TRADE LAWS??

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

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

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

CIRCUMVENTION OF ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS ORDER??

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

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

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

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

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

STEEL WIRE ROD FROM CHINA PRELIMINARY ANTIDUMPING DETERMINATION

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

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

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

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

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

OCTOBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

DUELING US AND CHINA WTO APPEALS

As mentioned in the prior post, on July 14, 2014, in a decision and summary, which is posted on my blog, the WTO upheld China’s claims that certain US countervailing duty cases against China were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement. On August 22nd, China filed a notice of appeal at the WTO with regards to the remaining cases, followed by the US notice of appeal on August 27th.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specifically U.S. persons are prohibited from:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Treasury stated:

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

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

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

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

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

CUSTOMS

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

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

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

As the CAFC stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FALSE CLAIMS ACT

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

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

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

SANCTIONS AGAINST UPI SEMICONDUCTOR

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

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

MADE IN THE USA—FTC AND FALSE ADVERTISING PROBLEM

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

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

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

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

SECTION 337 COMPLAINTS

NEW 337 COMPLAINT AGAINST FOOTWARE PRODUCTS FROM CHINA

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

Docket No: 3034

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: V. James Adduci, II

Firm/Org: Adduci, Mastriani and Schaumberg

Behalf Of: Converse Inc.

Date Received: October 14, 2014

Commodity: Footwear Products

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Footwear Products . The proposed respondents are: Skechers U.S.A., Inc., Manhattan Beach, CA; Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, AR; A-List, Inc., d/b/a Kitson, Los Angeles, CA; Aldo Group, Canada; Brian Lichtenberg, LLC, Los Angeles, CA; Cmerit USA, Inc., d/b/a Gotta Flurt, Chino, CA; Dioniso SRL, Italy; Edamame Kids, Inc., Canada; Esquire Footwear, LLC, New York, NY; FILA U.S.A., Inc., Sparks, MD; Fortune Dynamic, Inc., City of Industry, CA; Gina Group, LLC, New York, NY; H & M Hennes & Mauritz LP, New York, NY; Highline United LLC d/b/a Ash Footwear USA, New York, NY; Hitch Enterprises Pty Ltd d/b/a Skeanie Unit 3, Australia; Iconix Brand Group, Inc., d/b/a Ed Hardy, New York, NY; Kmart Corporation, Hoffman Estates, IL; Mamiye Imports LLC d/b/a Lilly of New York, Brooklyn, NY; Nowhere Co., Ltd. d/b/a Bape, Japan; OPPO Original Corp., City of Industry, CA; Orange Clubwear, Inc., d/b/a Demonia Deviant, Westminster, CA; Ositos Shoes, Inc., d/b/a Collection’O, South El Monte,CA; PW Shoes Inc., Maspeth, NY; Ralph Lauren Corporation, New York, NY; Shenzhen Foreversun Industrial Co., Ltd (a/k/a Shenzhen Foreversun Shoes Co., Ltd), China; Shoe Shox., Seattle, Washington; Tory Burch LLC, New York, NY; Zulily, Inc., Seattle, Washington; Fujian Xinya I & E Trading Co., Ltd., China; Zhejiang Ouhai International Trade Co., Ltd., China; and Wenzhou Cereals Oils & Foodstuffs Foreign Trade Co., Ltd., China.

Status: Pending Institution

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

PERSONAL TRANSPORTERS FROM CHINA

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

The proposed respondents are: PowerUnion (Beijing) Tech Co. Ltd., Beijing; UPTECH Robotics Technology Co., Ltd., Beijing; Beijing Universal Pioneering Robotics Co., Ltd., Beijing; Beijing Universal Pioneering Technology Co., Ltd., Beijing; Ninebot Inc.,(in China) Beijing; Ninebot Inc., Newark, DE; Shenzhen INMOTION Technologies Co., Ltd., Guangdong; Robstep Robot Co., Ltd., Guangdong; FreeGo High-Tech Corporation Limited, Shenzhen; Freego USA, LLC, Sibley, IA; Tech in the City, Honolulu, HI; and Roboscooters.com, Laurel Hill, NC.

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

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

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

PATENT AND IP CASES IN GENERAL

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE AND TAIWAN COMPANIES

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

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

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

Complaints are attached above.

CHINESE PATENT CASES

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

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

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

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

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

PRODUCTS LIABILITY/FDA

CHINA RESTRICTIONS ON US FOOD PRODUCTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINESE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

US INVESTMENT IN CHINA

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

As stated in the brochure,

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

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

ANTITRUST– VITAMIN C, MAGNESITE AND AU OPTRONICS

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

TAIWAN LCDS CASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added, footnotes omitted.

BILL BAER DOJ SPEECHES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added.

NEW ANTITRUST COMPLAINTS

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

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

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

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

“Executive Summary

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

 o Fair treatment and nondiscrimination

o Lack of due process and regulatory transparency

o Lengthy time periods for merger reviews

o Role of non-competitive factors in competition enforcement

o Determination of remedies and fines

o Broad definition of monopoly agreements

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

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

Antitrust enforcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

What concerns the US government, however, is procedures, the heavy-handed way that investigations are being pursued, and the highly charged media coverage that makes for a very bad atmosphere for Western companies.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUTOMOBILES — CHRYSLER AND MICROSOFT

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

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

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

SEMICONDUCTORS AND MEDICAL DEVICES??

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

ARTICLES BY CHINESE ANTITRUST LAWYER MICHAEL GU

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

TD MICROSOFT ARTICLE

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

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

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

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

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

SAIC Investigating Accenture in Microsoft Probe

August 6, 2014

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

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

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

August 27, 2014

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

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

SECURITIES

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

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

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

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

The beginning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the attached article for parts 2-5.

PART 6

Conclusion: The FCPA Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

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

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

This case involves a scheme perpetrated by two immigration attorneys,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR BLOG UPDATE—SEPTEMBER 11, 2014

SEPTEMBER UPDATE

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

The specific countervailing duty cases are:

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

For those US import companies that imported Freshwater Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products,   Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge, New Pneumatic Off-The-Road Tires, Raw Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period September 1, 2013-August 31, 2014 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2013 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

In the recent final determination in the Wood Flooring Case, for example, although the rates were very low for many Chinese exporters, only 5%, 20 Chinese exporters had their rates go to 58% because they did not participate in the review investigation and did not file a no shipment certification, separate rate application or separate rate certification at the Commerce Department.

NEW MAJOR 337 PATENT CASE AGAINST PERSONAL TRANSPORTERS FROM CHINA

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

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

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

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

Docket No: 3032

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: David F. Nickel

Firm/Org: Foster & Murphy

Behalf Of: Segway Inc. and DEKA Products Limited Partnership

Date Received: September 9, 2014

Commodity: Personal Transporters

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

Status: Pending Institution

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

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

Executive Summary

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

o Fair treatment and nondiscrimination

o Lack of due process and regulatory transparency

o Lengthy time periods for merger reviews

o Role of non-competitive factors in competition enforcement

o Determination of remedies and fines

o Broad definition of monopoly agreements

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

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

AUGUST NEWSLETTER

Dear Friends,

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

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

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

BEIJING ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE

TAX IMPLICATIONS OF US ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

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

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

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

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

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

As David Musser states:

“ANTIDUMPING TARIFFS – ACCOUNTING TREATMENT vs. TAX DEDUCTION

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

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

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

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

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

CONCLUSION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TAIWAN SOLAR PRODUCTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the story continues . . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INDIA WANTS TO JOIN THE TPP???

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

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

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

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

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

INDIA KILLS WTO TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT NEGOTIATED IN BALI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHAOTIC TRADE SITUATION WITH COLLAPSE OF WTO TALKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OCTG

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

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

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

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

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

WHIRLPOOL SUES

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

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

In the Complaint, Whirlpool specifically states:

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

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

CIRCUMVENTION OF ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS ORDER??

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

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

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

AUGUST ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

The specific countervailing duty cases are:

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

For those US import companies that imported Ironing Tables, Laminated Woven Sacks, Retail Carrier Bags, Steel Nails, Sulfanilic Acid, Lawn Groomers, and Electric Blankets and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period August 1, 2013-July 31, 2014 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2013 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

In the recent final determination in the Wood Flooring Case, for example, although the rates were very low for many Chinese exporters, only 5%, 20 Chinese exporters had their rates go to 58% because they did not participate in the review investigation and did not file a no shipment certification, separate rate application or separate rate certification at the Commerce Department.

CHINA WTO CASE

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

CUSTOMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

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

SUPREMA—EN BANC CAFC PROCEEDING ON 337 AND INDUCED INFRINGEMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DISK DRIVES—DOMESTIC INDUSTRY ISSUES

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

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

TIRES FROM CHINA

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

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

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

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

SECTION 337 COMPLAINTS

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

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

PATENT AND IP CASES IN GENERAL

DUPONT SUES SUN EDISON FOR INFRINGEMENT OF US SOLAR PASTE PATENTS

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

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

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

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

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

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING ZTE

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

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

On July 29, 2014, Eduardo and Carmen Amorin filed a products liability case for defective drywall against The State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council; Taishan Gypsum Co., Ltd. f/k/a Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co., Ltd.; Tai’an Taishan Plasterboard Co., Ltd.; Beijing New Building Materials Public Limited Co.; China National Building Material Co., Ltd.; Beijing New Building Materials (Group) Co., Ltd.; China National Building Materials Group Corporation. TAISHAN CLASS ACTION

CFIUS—CHINESE INVESTMENT IN THE US

RALLS CORP CASE

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

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

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

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

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

CHINESE INVESTMENT IN US SEMICONDUCTOR COMPANY

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

CHINESE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

US FOUNDRY

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

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

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

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

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

US INVESTMENT IN CHINA

HOSPITALS

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

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

ANTITRUST– VITAMIN C, MAGNESITE AND AU OPTRONICS

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

VITAMIN C

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

Hebei argued:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAGNESITE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TAIWAN LCDS CASE

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

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

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MICROSOFT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DORSEY ARTICLE ON CHINA ANTITRUST

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

A Fine Season for Antitrust Enforcement in China

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ARTICLES BY CHINESE ANTITRUST LAWYERS

AUTO PARTS ARTICLE

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

Introduction

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

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

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

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

Conclusion and Suggestions for the Companies

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MICROSOFT ARTICLE

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

SAIC Initiates Anti-Monopoly Investigation on Microsoft

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

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

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

NOW INDIA

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

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

SECURITIES

LIHUA

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

CHINA MEDIA EXPRESS

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

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

VOLKSWAGEN

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

DORSEY FCPA DIGEST

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

“China

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

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

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—JULY 23, 2014

Dear Friends,

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

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

BEIJING ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT??

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

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

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

AUGUST ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

The specific countervailing duty cases are:

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

For those US import companies that imported Ironing Tables, Laminated Woven Sacks, Retail Carrier Bags, Steel Nails, Sulfanilic Acid, Lawn Groomers, and Electric Blankets and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period August 1, 2013-July 31, 2014 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2013 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

In the recent final determination in the Wood Flooring Case, for example, although the rates were very low for many Chinese exporters, only 5%, 20 Chinese exporters had their rates go to 58% because they did not participate in the review investigation and did not file a no shipment certification, separate rate application or separate rate certification at the Commerce Department.

CHINA TRADE WAR EXPANDS IN LAST FEW DAYS

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

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

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

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

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

YES READER WE HAVE A TRADE WAR WITH CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENFORCEMENT

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

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

Section 201 safeguard action on steel.

Coated free sheet paper cases.

Section 301 action against Chinese currency manipulation.

Section 301 action on Chinese workers’ rights violations.

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

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

Section 421 case on Chinese tires.

Oil Country Tubular Goods antidumping case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“. . . .The U.S. is the most efficient producer of poultry products in the world. U.S. production value in 2013 was $30.7 billion. We are the world’s second largest exporter, only narrowly behind Brazil, and in 2013 we exported nearly 20% of our total volume of production, with an export value of more than $4.7 billion. U.S. poultry is our 6th most important agricultural export, with product being exported to nearly 100 countries each year. It has also been an important growth sector for U.S. agriculture with exports increasing from 5.2% of production volume in 1990, to nearly 20% in 2013. . . .

In specifically addressing the issue of enforcement, I should begin by thanking the Obama Administration for a very significant and recent success. China is the best example we can point to of vigorous and timely trade enforcement.  In 2009, China imposed antidumping duties on U.S. chicken using the so-called “weight-based cost of production” theory. . . . Immediately after China announced its decision to impose antidumping duties, the Obama Administration requested dispute settlement, and aggressively litigated the case before the WTO. Last summer a WTO panel ruled in our favor. China elected not to appeal that decision and we are currently awaiting China’s announcement of how it will change its antidumping decision to come into compliance with WTO rules. Hopefully, China will act in good faith and honor its WTO commitments, but there are no assurances.  . . . .

(Even with USTR’s efforts, the China case cost U.S. industry millions of dollars in legal fees to pursue). China represented a 700,000 MT market for U.S. poultry at the time the antidumping duties were imposed, and is potentially an even larger market for our products in the future. We have been out of the market now for several years, and hope that China will lift its restrictions now that an international legal panel has ruled against it.  In our view, the prosecution of the China antidumping case before the WTO represents U.S. trade policy at its best; enforcing those trade rights we have already negotiated for. . . .”

Richard Wilkins, Treasurer of the American Soybean Association, stated in the attached statement, Statement on Trade Enforcement for Biotech Exports:

“I would like to return to my earlier comment on the importance of China as a market for U.S. biotech commodities and products. China is by far the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans, importing over one-fourth of our annual production. The Department of Agriculture forecasts that China will also become the world’s largest corn importer by 2020. U.S. agriculture is a long-term committed partner in working with China to meet its food security needs. . . .

It is critically important for the Administration to engage the Government of China at the highest level to reach a mutually beneficial understanding on trade in biotech commodities.”

TRADE DEFICIT DECLINES AS US EXPORTS INCREASE AND US JOBS SUPPORTED BY US EXPORTS TO CHINA RISE TO 796,000

As the Congress continues to bash China and listen to the Steel Union and US Steel, statistics show a much different story. On July 7, 2014, the Commerce Department announced the US trade deficit had dropped to $44 billion “bolstered by record high exports of a broad swath of consumer goods and services such as telecommunications, car parts and travel”. In effect, the trade deficit had dropped 5.6 percent drop from a $47 billion gap in April as US exports hit a record $195.5 billion.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said that the numbers show the economy is growing healthier because “Today’s strong export numbers are yet another sign that more American businesses are seizing the opportunity to sell their world-class products and services to the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the United States.”

Where are those exports going? China.  According to the attached July 7th Report issued by the Commerce “ Jobs Supported by Export Destination 2013”, COMMERCE TRADE JOBS China is number 3 for US export destinations behind Canada and Mexico. The US jobs created by US exports of goods to China are 796, 000 (588,000 goods and 207,000 services) with Japan at 605,000 and United Kingdom at 587,000.

Although many Government officials apparently do not seem to understand this simple fact, the premise of this blog is that Trade is a two way street. Although many officials and political leaders at the Washington DC level want to continually criticize China, many local US government officials want the US companies to continue exporting to China and want Chinese investment in their towns, cities and states.

WTO RULES AGAINST THE US IN COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AGAINST CHINA

On July 14, 2014, in the attached decision and summary, PANEL REPORT SUMMARY the WTO upheld China’s claims that certain US countervailing duty cases against China were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement. The dispute involves 17 Commerce Department countervailing duty investigations against China on approximately $7.2 billion dollars of imported products, such as solar panels; wind towers; thermal paper; coated paper; tow-behind lawn groomers; kitchen shelving; steel sinks; citric acid; magnesia carbon bricks; pressure pipe; line pipe; seamless pipe; steel cylinders; drill pipe; oil country tubular goods; wire strand; and aluminum extrusions.

The WTO decision states that with regard to 12 countervailing duty investigations that the United States acted inconsistently because it found that certain state-owned enterprises were public bodies or government entities and thus the sales of certain raw material inputs by these companies, in effect, were subsidized by the Chinese government. The WTO recommended that the US bring its decisions in line with the WTO Agreement. The WTO ruled for China in certain cases and against China in certain cases so it is something of a mixed result.

Also the WTO determined that Commerce “improperly found that the alleged provision of goods for less than adequate remuneration conferred a benefit upon the recipient, and improperly calculated the amount of any benefit allegedly conferred, including. . . its erroneous findings that prevailing market conditions in China were “distorted” as the basis for rejecting actual transaction prices in China as benchmarks in certain investigations.”

Since China is considered a nonmarket economy country, Commerce in countervailing duty cases against China refuses to look at free market bench markets for interest rates or other prices in China. In one case, which was overturned in part by the WTO, to value dirty factory land in Shandong, China Commerce used the value of land for a shopping center in Thailand.

As a result, the WTO Panel recommended that the United States should bring its measures into conformity with its obligations under the WTO Agreement. What does the WTO decision mean and what impact will it have on future countervailing duty cases against China. The answer is not much.

Just like the response of the Chinese government to the WTO’s decision in the Chicken case, Commerce will make a few changes to its methodology and explain its decision more, but there will be no real change to past or future countervailing duty cases against China.

Also the impact of this WTO decision on US methodology in future Countervailing duty (“CVD”) cases against China is not clear yet because this panel decision will be reviewed by the WTO Appellate Body, which has frequently overturned panel decisions in trade remedy cases. Just like the Chinese chicken case, any change in methodology still means that the US government will issue CVD rates against China. Those rates will just decline a little.

On July 18, 2014, in the attached statement, MOFCOM STATE MOFCOM Minister Hucheng Gao stated in response to the WTO decision on US CVD cases:

“The United States abusive use of trade remedy measures severely impaired the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises. . . .I strongly urge the United States to confront its long-standing systematic violations of the WTO rules through its trade remedy related legislations and practices, to implement the rulings of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body in good faith, to correct its abusive use of the trade remedy rules in a timely and complete fashion, and to strive to become a role model who abides by the rules strictly, rather than a negative influence who breaches the rules . . . .

The economic and trade relations between China and the United States are the ballast stone and engine of overall China-U.S. ties.”

SOLAR CASES

On June 3, 2014, Commerce issued its preliminary countervailing duty determination against China in the Solar Products case. The fact sheet and preliminary Federal Register notice are attached to the last post on my blog. The Countervailing Duty Rates range from 18.56% for Trina to 35.21% for Wuxi Suntech and all other Chinese companies getting 26.89%. The Antidumping Preliminary determinations against China and Taiwan are not due to come out until July 24th.

The Scope issue, what specific products are covered by this decision, is simply not clear yet. On May 30, 2014, two US senators sent the attached letter to Commerce, SENATOR LETTER, specifically requesting that Commerce come up with the correct “scope” determination and not to change past definitions. In other words, the two Senators request the Department to “preserve” the existing country of origin standard, which means that the country of origin of the solar cell would determine the country of origin of the module and panel. The Commerce Department’s July 3rd response, however, was noncommittal.

In the letter, however, the two Senators acknowledged, “While we hope that: a negotiated settlement can be reached between the affected parties, the Chinese government, and our government, that is not a likely outcome at this point.” Under the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Law, since there is no public interest test, the petitioner, SolarWorld, would ultimately have to agree to any settlement/suspension agreement reached between the U.S. and China.

Thus on June 24th in a letter to 23 Congressmen, Solar World pushed back on Congressional efforts to obtain a settlement agreement and responded to a May 28 letter by 23 House members to President Obama urging him to broker a unified position among elements of the solar industry that “remove existing trade restrictions.”

One route to settling a trade remedy case is a suspension agreement, but SolarWorld said that there is no active discussion of that option now.  On July 1st Solar World filed a letter at Commerce urging it to probe the trade implications of alleged cyber espionage by the Chinese military involving the company. So this case is not going to Agreement any time soon.

OCTG

As stated in prior newsletters and above, US Steel Corp along with the Steel Union have brought follow up cases against Steel Oil Country Tubular Goods (“OCTG”), Steel Pipes used in oil wells from a number of different countries. US Steel and the Steel Union first attacked China and were able to drive them out of the US market with 47% dumping rate, not based on actual prices and costs in China. Instead, Commerce used values from Indian import statistics to throw the Chinese out of the US market.

In the Chinese antidumping case on US Chicken, the US government complained that China used a “weight based cost of production” theory to calculate US antidumping rates.  But at least the Chinese government used actual prices and costs in the United States to calculate US antiduping rates, not like the US Commerce Department, which refuses to even use actual prices and costs in China to calculate antidumping rates for Chinese companies.

But as indicated above in the testimony of Mr. Gerrard of the USW Workers, China was replaced by imports from Korea, Taiwan, India and many other countries. So USW and US Steel filed antidumping and countervailing duty cases against those countries. But in the preliminary dumping determination against Korea and other countries, when Commerce had to use actual prices and costs in Korea and other countries to calculate antidumping and countervailing duty rates, what antidumping rates did Commerce come up with? 0s for Korea, 0 to 2.65 for Taiwan, 0 for one producer in India, 2.92% for Saudi Arabia and 8.9% for Philippines.

As indicated above, however, the USW and US Steel through the Congress put immense political pressure on Commerce to change its preliminary determination, especially with regards to Korea. With regards to OCTG, however, one should understand that the first OCTG cases were filed in the early 1980s against Korea and other countries followed by additional cases in the mid-1990s. Since Korea has been a target of OCTG cases in the past and since Commerce must use actual prices and costs in Korea to determine whether the companies are dumping, one can expect that Korean OCTG producers will monitor their prices and costs very closely to make sure that they are not dumping. When foreign companies are in market economy countries, where Commerce must use actual prices and costs in those countries to determine dumping, foreign companies can use computer programs to make sure that they are not dumping.

Thus it is not surprising that Commerce calculated 0% dumping rates for Korea in the OCTG preliminary determination. But with very substantial Congressional pressure on the Commerce Department, as suspected, Commerce came out with an affirmative antidumping determination in the Korea case.

On July 11, 2014, in the attached decision, factsheet-multiple-OCTG-ad-cvd-final-071114, Commerce issued its final determination pushing Korea’s AD rate to 9.89 to 15.75%, Taiwan 0 to2.52%, Saudi Arabia 2.69%, Philippines 9.88%, Ukraine 6.73% and an India CVD rate from 5 to 19%.

The point, however, is that these are not shut out rates, and in contrast to China, all of these countries will continue to export OCTG steel products to the United States in substantial quantities.

On July 15th at the US International Trade Commission’s (“ITC”) injury hearing, 4 US Senators testified about the importance of the ITC reaching an affirmative injury determination in the case.

TIRES

As mentioned in my last newsletter, on June 3, 2014, the USW union filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case aimed at $2 billion in imports of automobile and truck tires from China. The case is specifically described as Certain Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires from the People’s Republic of China. A short form of the petition is attached to my last post on this blog.

At the end of June Commerce postponed the initiation of the case so it could survey the US industry because of standing concerns. But on July 15, 2014, the Commerce initiated the antidumping and countervailing duty investigations. See the attached fact sheet.  DOC Tires Initiation Fact Sheet

With the 20 day postponement, however, fully extended out, the Commerce Department preliminary countervailing duty determination will come out as soon as November 20, 2014, exposing the US importers to liability for Chinese tire imports, followed by the antidumping preliminary determination on January 19, 2015.

On July 16, 2014, the Commerce Department issued the the quantity and value questionnaire for Chinese companies, which is due August 1, 2014 at Commerce.  prc-qvq-tires-071614.  See also the attached separate rate application for Chinese companies.  prc-sr-app-20140429

On July 22, 2014, the ITC issued a preliminary injury determination in the case. See the attached announcement. ITC AFFIRMATIVE PRELIMINARY. The ITC will issue its formal determination and opinions to Commerce on August 1, 2014.

ACTIVATED CARBON

On June 24, 2014, in the attached decision, Jacobi Carbons et al. v. United States, the Court of International Trade affirmed the Commerce Department in the Activated Carbon fourth administrative review investigation.  ACTIVATED CARBON CIT

WOODFLOORING

In the Woodflooring case, there have been two Court decisions, not favorable to the respondents.

On July 14, 2014, in the attached decision, Changzhou Hawd Flooring Co. v. United States, the Court of International Trade rejected an attempt by a number of Chinese separate rate companies to participate in the appeal of the initial investigation. During the appeal, it became apparent that the Chinese separate rate companies might have an opportunity to obtain a 0% dumping rate and be completely excluded from the case.  CHANGQHOU HAWD FLOORING

On July 16, 2014, in attached decision, Swiff Train v. United States, the Court of International Trade affirmed the International Trade Commission in its injury determination stating that it had made a “but for” determination in the injury remand determination.  SWIFF TRAIN

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—TPA, TPP, TTIP/TA AND DOHA ROUND

As mentioned in past newsletters, in the trade world, the most important developments may be the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic (TA)/ the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP negotiations.  These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues becomes a focal point in Congress and many Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

This is particularly a problem because the protectionism is coming from the Democratic side of the aisle. Democratic Senators and Congressmen are supported by labor unions. To date, President Obama cannot get one Democratic Congressman to support Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) in Congress. Without bipartisan/Democratic support for these Trade Agreements, Republicans will not go out on a limb to support President Obama and risk being shot at by the Democrats during the mid-term elections as soft on trade.

As mentioned in prior newsletters, on January 29th, the day after President Obama pushed the TPA in the State of the Union, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid stated that the TPA bill would not be introduced on the Senate Floor.

To summarize, on January 9, 2014, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, which is posted on my February blog post, was introduced into Congress. The TPA bill gives the Administration, USTR and the President, Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority so that if and when USTR negotiates a trade deal in the TPP or the Trans-Atlantic negotiations, the Agreement will get an up or down vote in the US Congress with no amendments.

Under the US Constitution, Congress, not the President has the power to regulate trade with foreign countries. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, of the Constitution empowers Congress “to regulate Commerce with foreign nations” Thus to negotiate a trade agreement, the Congress gives the Executive Branch, the Administration/The President and United States Trade Representative (“USTR”), the Power to negotiate trade deals.

Because trade deals are negotiated with the foreign countries, the only way to make the system work is that under the TPA law when the Trade Agreement is negotiated, the Congress will agree to have an up or down vote on the entire Agreement and no amendments to the Agreement that has already been negotiated will be allowed.

On April 9, 2014, the new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden announced at a speech to the American Apparel & Footwear Association Conference that he was introducing a new TPA bill, what Senator Wyden calls Smart Track. But to date no details have been given about exactly what Smart Track will mean, other than more oversight by Congress and input by the Public in the trade negotiations.

Now the story continues . . . .

On June 27, 2014, it was reported that there were still many tough issues outstanding in the TPP talks, including Agriculture, especially with Japan. Japan’s commitment to full tariff elimination in the agricultural sector appears to be very weak. Questions remain whether Japan will ever fully open its sensitive food sectors such as beef, pork, wheat, rice and dairy. There are warnings that the bilateral struggles between the U.S. and Japan have had ripple effects with other TPP partners using the impasse to hold off on tabling their best market access offers, not only for agriculture but also for other areas as well. In addition, the failure to pass the TPA has made it more difficult for the US trade negotiators to get a better deal.

Apparently the gaps between the US and Japanese negotiators on agricultural products are very wide. The U.S. had demanded that Japan’s beef and pork tariffs be lowered as close to zero as possible, and as a trade-off to accept low tariff rates. Japan has floated the idea of allowing it to activate safeguard measures that would trigger sharply higher tariffs for an extended period when import quantities reach certain thresholds, while the US position remains the same.

On July 9th seven House Democratic Congressmen, Rep. George Miller (D.-Calif.), Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), Loretta Sanchez (Calif.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Donna Edwards (Md.) and Peter DeFazio (Ore.) questioned whether Congress should grant the administration trade promotion authority (TPA)—particularly in light of what they called a lack of transparency during the talks.

The Democrats argued that an Administration deadline to conclude the TPP talks by the Nov APEC meeting was simply unrealistic because there are too many issues that must be resolved before a TPP agreement would win congressional approval.

On July 15th it was reported that Japan and the US had been able to narrow the gaps in negotiations on agricultural products, specifically rice, beef and pork, dairy, wheat and sugar—as well as safeguards.

On July 16th, it was reported that Deputy USTR Mike Punke spoke at a hearing of the House Ways and Means stating: “We agree with those who say that TPA needs to be updated and we look forward to working with this committee and Congress as a whole to secure a TPA that has as broad bipartisan support as possible.” Punke also stated: “We are very committed to getting TPA. I think Ambassador Froman has practically camped up here over the course of the last six weeks in terms of the outreach that he’s done personally.”

On July 17, 2014, at a Senate Finance Committee hearing about Technology and Trade, http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=565ec6a8-5056-a032-526e-77a13f9f56e5, Republican Senator Orin Hatch, the Ranking Member, spoke about the importance of the TPA and the Enforce Act.

On July 17th, all Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent the attached letter, HOUSE REPS WAYS MEANS, to USTR Froman urging the Administration to build support for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and directing the Administration not to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before TPA is enacted into law. In the letter, the Members stated:

“We are strong supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. . . .While progress has been made in the TPP negotiations, there is a long way to go to finalize an acceptable deal. Therefore, we were surprised when the President recently announced an ambitious timeline for completing the TPP negotiations, potentially by November, without mentioning how he would ensure the enactment into law of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) before concluding TPP negotiations. TPA must be enacted into law before the President completes TPP for two important reasons.

First, TPA shows our trading partners that the U.S. government speaks with one voice. Without TPA, the Administration simply is not in the strongest position in its negotiations with our trading partners. That means that any agreement reached cannot be the best agreement obtainable for American workers, farmers, and businesses. The positions that many of our trading partners are taking in the negotiations are unacceptable, demonstrating that the Administration has not yet been able to achieve the necessary market access and rules outcomes to ensure a successful TPP negotiation. We believe that if the Administration were negotiating with the authority of TPA, it would be able to achieve a stronger agreement worthy of Congressional support.

Second, the Administration negotiates trade agreements under a delegation of authority from the Congress. TPA is the process by which Congress gives the Administration that authority and sets out negotiating objectives, strengthening and reinforcing the consultative relationship between Congress and the Administration. Concluding TPP or any major trade agreement without TPA undermines the Constitutional role of Congress over trade policy. Only Administrations that work closely with Congress and make it an equal partner in the negotiations are successful in passing and implementing trade deals.

Because of the critical importance of TPA in ensuring a successful outcome in the TPP negotiations, we will not support TPP if the agreement, even an agreement in principle, is completed before TPA is enacted. Once TPA is enacted, we will have laid the necessary groundwork to bring to conclusion a solid TPP agreement that will pass Congressional muster, and we will work with you to achieve this goal. Congress will not approve a TPP agreement that does not meet the objectives Congress first establishes through TPA. Therefore, TPA is the key to achieving the outcome we all want to see.

We call on the Administration to continue to push our trading partners to improve upon their current offers in the TPP negotiations. At the same time, we call for the entire Administration, including the President, to immediately and fully engage with the House, the Senate, and stakeholders to achieve enactment of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act (H.R. 3830) well before the end of 2014. Progress should continue with our TPP partners even as we work domestically with you and the President now to build support for- and ultimately pass TPA.”

CHINA ANTIDUMPING

CHICKEN

On July 8, 2014, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) announced that as a result of a WTO decision it would lower anti-dumping and countervailing duties on U.S. chicken imports to between 46.6 and 73.8 percent for producers like Tyson Foods Inc. and Butterfield Foods Co.

Under the previous anti-dumping duty orders, MOFCOM levied rates ranging from 50.3 to 53.4 percent for U.S. producers who responded to its investigation, while assigning an “all others” duty rate of 105.4 percent.

As for countervailing duties, MOFCOM said it would lower CVD rates between 4 and 4.2 percent from 4 to 12.5 percent with an “all others” rate of 30.3 percent

The duties were imposed in 2010 and two years later, in August 2013, a WTO panel sided with the US.

Although MOFCOM lowered the rates, the rates will still shut out most US chicken from China. As a result of the MOFCOM decisions on US chicken, U.S. exports of chicken to China have fallen 90 percent over the past four years, costing US chicken exporters an estimated $1 billion after China imposed the high antidumping duties in 2010.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

LOOM KITS

On July 1, 2014 Choon’s Design Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against imports of certain loom kits for creating linked articles against China respondents:. Wangying of China, Yiwu Mengwang Craft & Art Factory of China; Shenzhen Xuncent Technology Co., Ltd of China; Hong Kong Haoguan Plastic Hardware Co., and Itcoolnomore of China.  See the attached ITC notice.  LOOM KITS

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

On June 26, 2014, Orlando Communications filed the attached complaint for patent infringement against Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Huawei Technologies USA, Inc., Huawei Device USA, Inc. and T-Mobile US, Inc.ORLANDO HUAWEI

On July 9, 2014, Charles C. Freeny III, Bryan E. Freeny and James P. Freeny filed the attached complaint for patent infringement against ZTE (USA) Inc.  Freeney ZTE complaint

On July 9, 2014, Charles C. Freeny III, Bryan E. Freeny and James P. Freeny filed the attached complaint against Huawei Device USA, Inc. for patent infringement.  Freeny v Huawei complaint

PRODUCTS LIABILITY–DRYWALL

On July 17, 2014 in the attached Drywall Products liability case, 7-17-14 Taishan contempt In Re: Chinese Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, US Federal Judge Eldon E. Fallon in Louisiana barred a Chinese manufacturer from doing business in the U.S. until it shows up in court to answer questions about its failure to pay a $2.7 million default judgment in multidistrict litigation over defective drywall, holding the company in both civil and criminal contempt.  Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd. must also cover $15,000 in attorneys’ fees for the plaintiffs in the case and pay a $40,000 fine, and should the company defy the injunction, it will get hit with another penalty equaling 25 percent of its annual profits.

As Judge Fallon states in the attached order:

“From 2005 to 2008 a housing boom coincided with the destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to sharply increase the demand for construction materials in the Gulf South and East Coast.  In response, Chinese companies manufactured, and sold to homeowners throughout the United States, considerable quantities of gypsum wallboard which came to be known as “Chinese drywall.” Homeowners experienced problems with the drywall. Specifically, the drywall emits various sulfide gases, damages structural mechanical and plumbing systems of the home, and damages other appliances in the home. The affected parties sued the entities involved in the manufacturing, importing, and installing the Chinese drywall. The cases multiplied and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”), declared the matter an MDL and transferred the cases to this Court. After a period of discovery, it became clear that there were two principal manufacturers, (1) the Knauf Entities, and (2) the Taishan Entities. There are four cases in particular in which Taishan Entities have been served (via international means at the Hague, costing at least $100,000 per service of process).  . . . Defendant. Taishan refused to participate in any of these proceedings.   . . .so such judgment has become final and enforceable.  In order to execute the judgment, Plaintiffs moved for a Judgment Debtor Examination. The Court ordered Taishan to appear in open court on the morning of July 17 . . .Taishan failed to appear . . . has refused to appear in open court for the Examination.

As a consequence of Taishan’s refusal to appear at this Judgement Debtor Examination, in direct, willful violation of this Court’s June 20, 2014 order, the Court holds Taishan in contempt of court, both criminally and civilly. This refusal to appear is a direct contemptuous act occurring in open court after actual notice of the proceedings. Such disobedience of the Court’s order harms both the many other parties in this case and the decorum of the Court. Due to the “affront to the Court’s dignity [that] is[] widely observed,” it is necessary to summarily punish Taishan’s contempt. . . .

In punishing Taishan’s contempt, the Court “has broad discretion in assessing sanctions to protect the sanctity of its decrees and the legal process.” . . . In this massive suit, the harm from Taishan’s noncompliance is high and requires strong sanctions to coerce compliance and restore integrity to these proceedings. . . .

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Taishan, and any of its affiliates or subsidiaries, is hereby ENJOINED from conducting any business in the United States until or unless it participates in this judicial process. If Taishan violates this injunction, it must pay a further penalty of 25% of the profits earned by the company or its affililates who violate the order, for the year of the violation. . . .”

Lead counsel for the plaintiffs vowed to trace the company’s funds through its banks and make sure that the 4,000 homeowners involved in the litigation receive money to remediate their houses, which he said will cost between $200,000 and $300,000 per home. Levin added that the plaintiffs will also go after Taishan’s parent corporations, one of which, CNBM Group, is allegedly controlled by the Chinese government.

COMPLAINTS

On July 15, 2014, Vincent Dondson filed the attached products liability case against Beijing Capital Tire Company, Ltd. and World Wide Distribution Inc.  BEIJING TIRES CASE

CFIUS—CHINESE INVESTMENT IN THE US

On July 15, 2014, the Federal DC Circuit Court of Appeals in the attached Ralls Corp. v. Committee on Foreign Investments (“CFIUS”), RALLS VS CFIUS issued a very surprising decision reversing the Presidential/CFIUS decision to invalidate Ralls and a Chinese company’s attempt to acquire four Oregon wind firms that were close to a US military base on national security grounds.

There is a presumption that Presidential decisions with regard to foreign policy are given deference by the court, so it is unusual for the Court to overturn a Presidential decision, such as this decision by CFIUS. The president was first granted the authority to block proposed deals in the name of national security by the Exon-Florio Amendment in 1988.

The DC Circuit overturned the CFIUS decision on due process procedural grounds:

“In sum, we conclude that the Presidential Order deprived Ralls of constitutionally protected property interests without due process of law. We remand to the district court with instructions that Ralls be provided the requisite process set forth herein, which should include access to the unclassified evidence on which the President relied and an opportunity to respond thereto. . . . Should disputes arise on remand––such as an executive privilege claim––the district court is well-positioned to resolve them.”

Appeal is likely, either through a petition for en banc review or a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The CFIUS review process, however, has been described as a black box into which foreign investors feed information, only to get out a yes or no answer with no way of appealing the decision. The DC Circuit’s decision, however, will require the President and CFIUS at a minimum to explain why the decision was made and grant the company respondent access to the unclassified evidence used to come to that decision and give the company an opportunity to rebut the evidence.

GENERAL LITIGATION–CONTRACT

On July 18, 2014, in the attached complaint Saint Jean Industries Inc. filed a breach of contract case against ZF Chassis Components LLC, ZF Lemforder and ZF Lemforder Shanghai Chassistech Co.  ZF CHASSIS SHANGHAI

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C AND AUO OPTRONICS

On July 8, 2014 the Plaintiffs, US Purchasers of Vitamin C products, filed the attached brief, VITAMIN C PLAINTIFFS BRIEF 2ND CIRCUIT, urging the Second Circuit to reject the arguments in their briefs by the two Chinese companies and the Ministry of Commerce to overturn the $153 million jury award against them over price-fixing claims. Plaintiffs argued that the Chinese companies lack any evidence they were compelled to fix prices by the Chinese government. The purchasers argued that no Chinese law required any alleged co-conspirator to fix prices at high levels for vitamin C imported into the U.S.

As the Brief states:

“Regardless of the proper interpretation of Chinese law in this case, the facts as determined by the jury. . . showed that no entity, governmental or not governmental, acted to compel the conduct at issue here; rather, the jury found Appellants liable for their own voluntary conduct. . . .

The district court afforded deference to statements by the Ministry, and properly determined that Appellants did not meet their burden to prove the Chinese government compelled them to violate the Sherman Act as a matter of law. The jury had an ample evidentiary basis to conclude that the Chinese government did not compel Appellants’ cartel agreements as a factual matter. . . .

NCPG is liable for participating in the price-fixing conspiracy. The district court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over NCPG because NCPG participated in the vitamin C conspiracy targeting the United States. The “effect” of NCPG’s participating in price-fixing meetings in China, which caused buyers in the U.S. to purchase vitamin C at inflated prices, is sufficient to establish minimum contacts with New York. And the district court properly held that Appellees presented sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that NCPG participated in the cartel.

The litigation dates back to 2005 and 2006, when the vitamin C purchasers began accusing Chinese manufacturers and their affiliates of taking part in an illegal cartel to fix prices and limit supply for exports. In March 2013 a jury determined that NCPG and HeBei met with competitors between December 2001 and June 2006 to coordinate pricing in China’s vitamin C industry, awarding the plaintiffs $54.1 million. Judge Cogan later trebled the damages, pushing the companies’ liability to $162.3 million.”

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan refused to throw out the case based on MOFCOM’s argument of the so-called foreign sovereign compulsion defense that the Chinese government compelled the Chinese companies to set the export price.  In MOFCOM’s April brief to the 2nd Circuit, which was posted on my May blog post, the Ministry argued that the District Court’s decision should be thrown out because of the failure to defer to the Chinese government’s interpretation of Chinese law.

In the attached brief, the Plaintiffs responded:

“The Ministry and Appellants ask this Court to find Appellants immune from antitrust liability, despite a trial on the merits, because the Ministry says so. But no matter what level of deference is accorded to the Ministry’s statements concerning Chinese law, under Rule 44.1 this Court must determine itself whether that law provides a defense to claims of damages under the Sherman Act. . . .

The extent of deference sought by the Ministry in this case is breathtaking. The deference is not limited to how a regulation should be read, but seeks to include what factually happened, i.e., whether the Ministry or the Chamber actually exercised any compulsion.

For its current position, the Ministry ignores the contrary positions that the Chinese government has taken with the WTO, namely that in 2002 it gave up “export administration . . . of vitamin C. . . . .

The predicate for application of the act of state doctrine only exists when the suit “requires the Court to declare invalid . . . the official act of a foreign sovereign.” . . . . This Court need not declare invalid any official act of the Chinese government because (as the district court and the jury found) there was no official act of the Chinese government compelling Appellants’ actions. As the district court explained: “Chinese laws themselves were not placed on trial. Rather, the jury was only required to determine whether the Chinese government acted, not the propriety of its actions. . . .

Defendants that engage in antitrust conspiracies that affect a forum state have established the requisite “minimum contacts” for purposes of due process. . . .”

On July 15, 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the attached decision United States v. Hsiung and Au Optronics Corp. (“AUO”), AUO OPTRONICS, affirmed the convictions of all defendants, in a criminal antitrust case that stems from an international conspiracy between Taiwanese and Korean electronics manufacturers to fix prices for Liquid Crystal Display panels known as TFT-LCDs in violation of the Sherman Act. The Court also affirmed the $500 million fine imposed on AUO.

On July 16, 2014, the Plaintiffs argued that the recent 9th Circuit ruling in the AUO case supports their claims in the Vitamin C case against the Chinese companies. In particular, the 9th Circuit’s interpretation of the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act supports their argument that the FTAIA does not bar claims from vitamin C buyers who purchased the product directly for delivery in the U.S.

COMPLAINTS

HONG KONG EXCHANGE

In a series of antitrust cases that have been posted on my blog, companies are suing banks, including the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd, for triple damages under Section 1 and Section 2 of the Sherman act for conspiring to drive up prices of aluminum and zinc through the London Metal Exchange.  On July 8, 2014, the attached new antitrust complaint was filed by Galvanizers Company against the London Metal Exchange and number of other Metal Exchange companies, including the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd.  HONG KONG EXCHANGE

FOX CONN

On July 9, 2014, the attached new antitrust complaint was filed by Joseph Lai dba Ultra Tek against USB-Implementers Forum, Inc, Hon Hia Precision Industry Co., Ltd. and Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., including Foxconn (Kunshan) Computer Connect.  HON HAI FOX CONN ANTITRUST

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

MOFCOM–SHIPPING DISAPPROVAL

As US antitrust cases have been on the rise in the United States, they are also rising in China. On June 17, 2014, in direct contrast to the US and EC, which had approved the merger, China’s Merger Office in the Ministry of Commerce known as MOFCOM blocked a proposed alliance among Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and two of its partners to pool ships used on Eurasian trade routes.

MOFCOM declared that the merger agreement violated China’s anti-monopoly law because it excludes the effect of restricting competition in the European container liner shipping routes services market. As a result, Maersk and its partners agreed to stop work on the merger.

On June 20, 2014, MOFCOM issued the attached announcement,SHIPPING DISAPPROVAL, stating:

“On June 17, Ministry of Commerce announced its disapproval after the anti-monopoly investigation in the concentration of undertakings of Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. and CMA CGM establishing an Internet center. The large-scale collaboration of the three largest shipping companies in the world will bring profound influence to global shipping industry, and attract high attention from all circles. A leading official of Anti-monopoly Bureau of Ministry of Commerce made an explanation about the case.

The official said Ministry of Commerce has no objection to enterprises gaining advantageous market position through its competitiveness. For those enterprises who have already possessed certain market prowess and want to further strengthen the forces and achieve dominant market position through the concentration of undertakings, the impact on market competition should be analyzed seriously. After assessment of related market share, market control, market access and industrial features, Ministry of Commerce believes that after the concentration, the three companies will form a tight combination, and their share of transport capacity of Asia-Europe container liner transportation will reach 47%, with remarkable increase of market concentration.

The official said that during the investigation, Ministry of Commerce stated to the declarer that the concentration of undertakings may have the impact of competition elimination and restriction, and had several consultations on how to reduce the adverse impact of the concentration of undertakings to competition. The declarer submitted several remedy plans. After evaluation, Ministry of Commerce considered that there were no legal basis and convincing evidence to support the remedy plans, and it cannot be proved that the concentration of undertakings has more positive effect than adverse effect or accord with public interests. Therefore, according to the Antimonopoly Law of People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Commerce decided to forbid this concentration of undertakings.”

SED TALKS–CHINESE COMPETITION POLICY

On July 3, 2014, it was reported that US business associations demanded that in the upcoming US-China Strategic & Economic (“S&ED”) talks with China that the US raise the problems US companies are facing with the Chinese anti-monopoly law. The allegation was made that “it has become increasingly clear that the Chinese government has seized on using the AntiMonopoly Law (“AML”) to promote Chinese producer welfare and to advance industrial policies that nurture domestic enterprises.”

On July 12, 2014 at the end of the 6th meeting SED talks, the Treasury Department released the attached fact sheet, TREASURY DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCEMENT, about the outcome. With regards to the Chinese Anti-Monopoly law, the Treasury Department stated:

“Competition Law: In response to concerns of U.S. companies and government officials regarding enforcement of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law, China recognized that the objective of competition policy is to promote consumer welfare and economic efficiency, rather than to promote individual competitors or industries, and that enforcement of its competition law should be fair, objective, transparent, and nondiscriminatory. We are also encouraged by China’s commitment to provide any party under investigation with information about the competition concerns with the conduct or transaction, as well as an effective opportunity to present evidence in its defense.”

SECURITIES

CHINESE COMPANIES STRIKE BACK!—RECENT SECURITIES VICTORY BY DORSEY LAWYERS FOR CHINESE COMPANY

Dorsey lawyers Geoffrey Sant, Kent Schmidt, Bryan McGarry, Ray Liu, and Ted Farris representing Haiting Li and Pacific Bepure had a major victory for Chinese clients.As Mr. Sant states:

“For years, plaintiff law firms in the US have brought a seemingly endless stream of securities lawsuits against Chinese companies that are either listed or traded in the US.

  • In 2010, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 46.8% of all US securities suits against non-US companies
  • In 2011, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 59.6% of all US securities suits against non-US companies
  • In 2012, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 47% of all US securities suits against non-US companies
  • In 2013, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 45.7% of all US securities suits against non-US companies.

Last week, in what appears to be the first instance of its kind ever, a Chinese company sued under the securities laws in the United States not only achieved a dismissal of the lawsuit brought against it, but also obtained damages from the lawyers who sued the company. Specifically, in the attached Great Dynasty International Financial Holdings Ltd. v. Li order, GREAT DYNASTY Sanctions Order, the Court sanctioned the attorneys who brought a $5 million dollar claim against the company (Pacific Bepure), ordering the plaintiffs’ law firm and its lead attorneys to pay all of the legal expenses of the defendant. Past securities lawsuits against Chinese companies have resulted in many settlements and at least one massive $882 million default judgment. But last week’s ruling is the first time that a Chinese company has succeeded in not only dismissing securities litigation against it, but also obtaining payment from the very plaintiffs’ firm that brought the litigation. This may make plaintiff firms more hesitant or careful when bringing lawsuits against Chinese companies. Dorsey & Whitney represents Pacific Bepure, the company that won the sanctions award against the opposing attorneys.

In the Court’s decision sanctioning the plaintiffs’ law firm and attorneys, the Court stated:

  • Page 12-13.  “The Court finds that there is clear and convincing evidence that GDI’s counsel, Ms. Sally W. Mimms and Mr. John F. Kloecker of Locke Lord, LLP (collectively ‘Counsel’), assertion of federal securities law claims, including violation of section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 and section 20(a), on behalf of GDI as well as most Assignor Shareholders, was both reckless and frivolous, and amounted to conduct tantamount to bad faith.”

第12-13页。“本院裁定有明确且令人信服的证据证明高汉的法律顾问即美国洛克律师事务所律师Sally W. Mimms女士和John F. Kloecker先生(统称‘法律顾问’)代表高汉以及大多数转让股东提出的联邦证券法索赔主张(包括违反第10(b)条和规则10b-5及第20(a)条的行为)是鲁莽且无法律事实依据的,等同于恶意的行为。”

  • Page 13.  “Counsel’s conduct was reckless and frivolous because a reasonable and competent inquiry into the law would have revealed that GDI and most Assignor Shareholders could not demonstrate (1) standing to assert federal securities fraud claims or (2) a causal connection between the purchase or sale [of] the PBEP securities in reliance on the alleged misrepresentations, and an economic loss.”

第13页。“法律顾问的行为是鲁莽且无法律事实依据的,因为对法律进行合理且合适的调查后将会发现高汉及大多数转让股东不能证明(1)坚持主张联邦证券欺诈索赔或(2)依赖于被指称的不实陈述的宝飘证券的购买或出售与经济损失之间的因果关系。”

  • Page 14.  “Counsel had all necessary facts in their possession of which to evaluate whether the claims could be asserted; although GDI clearly lacked standing and could not demonstrate a causal connection, Counsel asserted the claims.  Such conduct by Counsel was at the very least reckless and frivolous, because the claims had no basis in fact and Counsel failed to make a reasonable and competent inquiry into the law.”

第14页。“法律顾问拥有所有必要的事实来评估是否能提出诉讼请求;尽管高汉明显没有立场并且不能证明因果关系,法律顾问仍旧提出了诉讼请求。法律顾问的这种行为最起码是鲁莽且无依据的,因为索赔没有事实依据并且法律顾问未能对法律进行合理且合适的调查。”

  • Page 19.  “Here, the Court finds Ms. Mimms, Mr. Kloecker, and Locke Lord LLP jointly and severally liable for Defendants’ attorneys’ fees and costs in connection with litigating the frivolous federal securities fraud claims in both the complaint and the FAC.  Such an award would both vindicate the Court’s judicial authority while also mak[ing] Defendants whole for expenses incurred to defend the frivolous claims.”

第19页。“在此,本院裁定,对于被告在就诉状和FAC中的无依据联邦证券欺诈索赔进行诉讼时产生的律师费,Mimms女士、Kloecker先生和美国洛克律师事务所承担连带责任。此项裁决将维护本院的司法权威并同时使被告承担就无依据索赔进行辩护时产生的全部费用。”

This ruling may encourage some Chinese companies to more vigorously defend themselves, and in appropriate circumstances – such as meritless lawsuits – to fight the lawsuit rather than settle or to default. This, in turn, may cause plaintiff law firms to be less eager to bring lawsuits against Chinese companies.”

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

In the attached June edition of the FCPA Digest, Anti_Corruption_Digest_June2014, Dorsey lawyers report on a corruption investigation involving China stating:

“Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) Investigates GlaxoSmithKline

Further to the April and May Digests which reported GSK investigations in Poland and China, it has been reported that the director of the SFO has opened a criminal investigation into the commercial practices of GlaxoSmithKline plc and its subsidiaries.

The SFO action follows the Chinese police announcement on 14 May that they had charged the former British boss of GSK’s China business and other colleagues with corruption, after an investigation disclosed evidence of a scheme to bribe doctors and hospitals.”

On July 10, 2014, David Richardson and Alesya Tepikina, two Dorsey lawyers, also issued the attached article entitled “Anti-Corruption Campaign in China – Causes of Corruption, and Hope? – Part One,” eu-cm-china-anti-corruption-campaign-brib, about the ongoing bribery and corruption investigations in China. In the Article they state:

” “I have seen corruption boil and bubble Till it o’er-run the stew.” – William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Corruption in the People’s Republic of China (“China”) presents a major administrative and financial burden on businesses operating in China and creates an unfavorable business environment (by undermining the operational efficiency of businesses and raising the costs and risks associated with doing business in China). As noted by some researchers, corruption is so widespread in China that it has become a norm, an unwritten law, and a way of living. Corruption threatens the vitality and international credibility of China’s emerging new economy. Out of 2,700 firms surveyed from November 2011 through March 2013, 19.2% reported that they were expected to give gifts to obtain import licenses, 18.8% said they were expected to give gifts to obtain construction permits, 10.9% reported they were expected to give gifts to tax inspectors and 10.7% said they were expected to give gifts to public officials “to get things done”. Bribery incidence (i.e., a percentage of firms that experienced at least one bribe payment request) was 11.6% and bribery depth (i.e., a percentage of public transactions where a gift or informal payment was requested) was 9.9%.

Since President Xi Jinping announced a crackdown on corruption among government officials in China in November 2012, multiple anti-graft and ant-extravagance regulations have been passed by government agencies at the central and local levels. The regulations allowed the Xi administration to single out officials for punishment, starting at the local level and moving up the ranks of party hierarchy.

This eUpdate is the first part in a series of eUpdates on topics related to the present anti-corruption campaign in China. It focuses on the social practices which allow corruption to thrive in China, and on economic reforms (and a developing legal system) which could reign in such corruption.

Extent of corruption

In 2013, the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (the “Index”), which ranks countries based on the perception of corruption in their public sector, ranked China at 40.6 placing it in the 80th place out of 175 countries surveyed, on a par with Greece. China was ranked less corrupt than El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama, Russia and Peru, but more corrupt than Brazil and more developed countries. Over the past fourteen years, China’s rank remained at the lower range of the Index. For example, in 2008, China was ranked at 3.6 (on a scale of 0 – 10 used by the Index at that time), placing it in the 70th place out of 163 countries surveyed, and in 2000, China was ranked at 3.1, placing it in the 63rd place out of 90 countries surveyed. China historically ranked less corrupt than India, Russia and Venezuela, but more corrupt than Zambia, Colombia, Mexico, Ghana and South Korea.

As elsewhere, power over transactions and wealth in China appears to lead inevitably to corruption and corrupting behavior, or, in the words of Lord Acton, “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. These words seem to apply perfectly to China, where the Communist Party has had a monopolistic power on politics and economics of the country for a prolonged period of time.

In China, as is often the case elsewhere, corruption is also a consequence of deeper stresses and changes. Underlying corruption is a growing tension between new policies and economic realities on the one hand, and traditional values, customs and established political system on the other, in the context of a political and institutional framework poorly-suited to handle such tension.

Understanding the characteristics and reasons underlying corruption in traditional China is crucial to comprehending the nature of the relationship between politics and economics in contemporary China, and to envisioning the future direction of reforms.

As described by some researchers, “post-reform corruption is a complex mixture of universal, transitional socialist and unique Chinese characteristics in its origins, consequences, as well as definitions.”

Definition and characteristics of corruption

One of the most general definitions of corruption, which seems to apply to China as well, describes it as ultimately “the use of public office for private gain”. It is also commonly understood as “behavior which deviates from the formal duties of a public role because of private-regarding (personal, close family, private clique) pecuniary or status gains; or violates rules against the exercise of certain types of private regarding behavior”.

Corruption can be characterized by the following features:

Power exploited for personal gain which includes monetary and non-monetary rewards;

An implicit contract concluded via a specific transaction, i.e. the transference of property rights, which because of its illegality is not subject to any officially legitimized institutional executive or sanctioning instance; and

At least two economic subjects interacting in the above transference of property right; this explicitly excludes the theft or embezzlement of state property as well as influencing of the political process to preserve power.

Guanxi networks

Corruption has deep roots and a long history in China. To understand the phenomenon of corruption as it applies to contemporary China, the historical role of patron-client and instrumental-personal ties in traditional China must first be analyzed.

The spread of corruption in traditional China is often connected to the Confucian concept of renzhi, or “government of the people,” as opposed to “government of law.” Chinese social behavior leading to corruption can be partly understood in terms of the hierarchical roles taught by Confucianism. These roles dictate the obligations an individual has in five cardinal relationships.

Among them is the filial responsibility of son toward father, which is the template for other hierarchical relationships in the system of Confucian ethics, such as that of subject-to-emperor and student-to-teacher. This hierarchical system of ethics was transplanted into the workplace, where it became the basis of a pervasive “organized dependency” of society upon the communist state. It evolved into an unofficial method utilized by workers to secure access to scarce goods and services (e.g., food, housing, or admission to schools) which were selectively distributed by shop officials. As benefits and resources were allocated directly by the planning bureaucracy in factories, workers relied on an informal “natural economy” of personal connections based on the exchange of gifts and favors in order to build privileged interactions with the gatekeepers who controlled them: factory officials.

Traditional Confucian values also emphasize consensus, lasting authority and clearly-defined personal relationships, a unity of state and society, and a socially encompassing moral order. These values led to social and cultural practices based on the extended personal-exchange and patron-client relationships encompassed by the term guanxi, which means interpersonal connections in order to secure favors in personal relations.

 Guanxi networks can be seen as institutions that arose centuries ago to secure trade relations in an environment that was only insufficiently covered by the legal system. An individual was able to expand his radius of economic relations, backed up by guanxi networks, to include various networks each with different resources.

A targeted expansion of an individual’s network to a counterparty which was regarded as useful for the pursuit of common interests could also be achieved by the giving of a gift or service. By accepting the gift or service, the counterparty obligated itself to perform an undefined reciprocal service at an unspecified time in the future. In this way, an implicit contract was concluded the fulfillment of which was linked to the particular network.

Guanxi networks can also be seen as clubs that guarantee their members the enforceability of available property rights in an institutionally disorderly environment, thus lowering transaction costs. To a certain extent, guanxi networks through personal connections and cooperation over a long period acted as a substitute for the market and the legal-institutional environment that supported it. At a later stage, connections served as a coordinating mechanism that allowed for a more efficient allocation of shortage goods than that provided by the fissures and fault lines of the communist economy. “This pattern is the result of structural features common to all communist factories: the workers’ economic dependence on the enterprise; political dependence on party and management; and, most important, the wide discretion of shop officials over promotion, pay, direct distributions, and sociopolitical services”.

Developed over centuries, guanxi networks were strongly anchored in traditional China and had an important function not only on an economic, but also on a political and social, level. They are still a factor in numerous areas in contemporary China, and virtually every Chinese person is connected to at least one guanxi network.  As noted by some researchers, guanxi networks stood in an antagonistic relationship to the Western system of legal rights. In the West, Christianity combined with pre-existing institutions to produce clear jurisdictional lines of top-down personalized authority. In the economic sphere, this led to legal definitions of property and ownership. Chinese institutions, however, rested on relationships and not jurisdictions, on obedience to one’s own roles and not on bureaucratic command structures. “Both jurisdictional principles and the autonomous individuals are historically absent in the Chinese worldview, and thus were not incorporated in Chinese institutions. Instead, Chinese society consists of networks of people whose actions are oriented by normative social relationships.”

Guanxi networks and economic reforms in China

With the advent of the “open-door policy” in China in 1978 and the subsequent reform period, guanxi networks underwent a gradual but substantial transformation from vertical relationships between officials and the rank and file to vertical relationships between officials and business. This change was brought about by the introduction of a market economy that was permitted to run in parallel with the old command economic mode. Following the implementation of the dual-track system, old central-administrative mechanisms were abandoned, often without putting in place new market-oriented substitutes capable of governing the transition. In this new hybrid system, the coexistence of guanxi networks and an emerging product market blurred the limits between regular economic transactions and corruption.

To a certain extent, guanxi networks advanced development of division of labor in the economic process and development in Chinese society over the centuries, and existed as complementary and parallel mechanisms for orderly economic interaction.

In the reform period, organization of economic activities by guanxi networks regained importance. Guanxi networks created governance structures that forced contract-honoring behavior of the transaction partners, analogous to vertical integration solutions.

Guanxi networks thus managed to provide an infrastructure in which the transaction partners could safeguard themselves from the ex post opportunism of one side. For some time, guanxi networks appeared to be an efficient and transaction-cost lowering co-ordination mechanism for regulating transactions in an environment characterized by high institutional uncertainty.

The reforms were aimed at the dissolution of established, central-administrative orderly mechanisms and development of the legal system. However, the first contract law did not take effect until July 1982, four years after the reform period had begun. The law was still strongly bound to the old central administrative system and quickly came into contradiction with subsequent laws and decrees, but was not revised until 1993. A comprehensive contract law only came into effect in October 1999. Even more problematic than this delayed enactment of laws was the poor enforcement of the existing laws mainly due to the administrative interventions and insufficient training of the officials enforcing the law.

The continuing liberalization of the Chinese economy requires a developed legal system which would provide a well framed regulatory and institutional framework for regulating financial and commercial transactions, testing them against principles of anti-corruption and offering legal security at a supra-individual level beyond social relationships. Such legal system would remove uncertainty as to enforcement of contractual rights and would therefore eliminate reliance on guanxi networks to safeguard transactions. However, transaction partners would need to regard such legal system as performing more effectively than guanxi networks before they could view it as preferable for regulating transactions. In addition, as noted by some researchers, pressure by political decision-makers would be required in order for the legal system to displace guanxi networks. Thereafter, as transaction costs for corrupt transactions would increase, guanxi networks would gradually lose importance and ultimately disappear, and incidences of corruption would decline.

TO BE CONTINUED”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On June 16, 2014, Roger Artinoff filed the class action securities case against China Ceramics Co., Ltd., Huang Jia Dong, Su Pei Zhi, Hen Man Edmund, Ding Wei Dong, Paul K. Kelly, Cheng Yan Davis, William L. Stulginsky and Su Wei Feng.  CHINA CERAMICS

On June 20, 2014, Darryl Reitan filed a class action securities case against China Mobile Games & Entertainment Group, Ltd., Ken Jian Xiao, Ying Shuling, Credit Suisse Securities USA LLC, Barclays Capital, Inc., Jeffries LLC, Brean Capital LLC, and Nomura Securities International.  CHINA MOBILE

On June 26, 2014 Sophia Chang filed a class action securities case against China Mobile Games & Entertainment Group, Ltd., Ken Jian Xiao, Ying Shuling, Credit Suisse Securities USA LLC, Barclays Capital, Inc., Jeffries LLC, Brean Capital LLC, and Nomura Securities International.  CHINA MOBILE

On June 30, 2014, Michael H. Resh filed a class action securities case against China Agritech Inc., Yu Chan, Yau-Sing Tang, Gene Michael Bennett, Xiao Rong Teng, Ming Fang Zhu, Lun Zhang Dai, Charles Law, and Zheng Anne Wang. CHINA AGRITECH

On July 2, 2014, Richard Finlayson filed a class action securities case against China Ceramics Co., Ltd, Huang Jia Dong, Su Pei Zhu, Hen Man Edmund, Ding Wei Dong, Paul K. Kelly, Cheng Yan Davis, William L. Stulginsky, Su Wei Feng and Jianwei Liu.  CHINA CERAMICS LIU JIANWEI

On July 8, 2014, the SEC sued Child Van Wagoner & Bradshaw PLLC, a Salt Lake City accounting firm, for a substandard audit of Yuhe International, a Chinese chicken producer, which later admitted it lied to investors, resulting in millions of dollars in investor losses.  See the attached order.  SEC COMPLAINT YUHE AUDIT COMPANY

The SEC alleged that there was no evidence that the auditor made any inquiries concerning Yuhe’s internal policies related to the prevention of illegal acts or fraud, despite the resignation of the prior auditor, the existence of prohibited related party loans, numerous suspect accounting entries, a weak or nonexistent control environment and the use of personal bank accounts for Yuhe payments.

On July 15, 2014, Sungw An Yang filed a class action securities case against China XD Plastics Co., Ltd., Jie Han, and Taylor Zhang.  CHINA PLASTICS

On July 16, 2014, Shawn Tompkins filed a class action securities case against China XD Plastics Co., Ltd., Jie Han, and Taylor Zhang. TOMPKINS CHINA PLASTICS

If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRADE, PATENTS, CUSTOMS, US/CHINA ANTITRUST, SECURITIES

Summer Palace Clear Blue Sky Beijing, China“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—MAY 6, 2014

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, solar cells, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

REASON FOR THIS NEWSLETTER

Some readers have commented that this newsletter is too long and should be broken up into separate parts. I disagree. Although separate sections are clearly marked so that readers can review the section of interest, this newsletter and my blog will cover all the different legal areas, because these different legal areas are interrelated. The evidence is that we have a trade war and Chinese government officials look at all the legal areas as a whole not in small parts.

Many US lawyers and government officials have been able to downplay the interrelationship of the various trade issues by saying, “This is an antidumping/trade issue or this is an antitrust/competition issue.”

The problem is that many Chinese government and corporate officials do not view the overall trade relationship with the United States in neat separate legal boxes. The Chinese look at the relationship overall, and this newsletter started up because when one follows the situation it is obvious that the trade war is spreading into many different legal areas. As one Chinese antitrust lawyer told me, the Chinese look at their antitrust/antimonopoly law as a “weapon” in the trade war. One only has to look at the article below by Peter Corne on the “Dawn Raids” under Chinese antitrust law to see how serious the situation is.

The Commerce Department’s decision over the last 30 years to use bogus surrogate values to create a fake cost of production to wipe out billions of dollars in Chinese imported products from the United States is not fair or just and has goaded the Chinese government into responding. The Chinese Government understands that the only issue that the US Government respects is political power. So if the US can twist its trade law for industrial policy and protectionist purposes, the Chinese can twist their trade, antitrust and other laws for industrial policy and protectionist purposes. What goes around does indeed come around.

More importantly, many Americans simply do not understand the importance of the Chinese market to many US companies. At a recent speech in Washington DC, one high level US government official told me that the Chinese had to be attracted to the US market because it was so much bigger than the Chinese market. The times they are a changing.

As an example, on May 3, 2014, in the attached article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune Medtech Industry Is Booming in China about the importance of the Chinese medical market to Minnesota medical device producers, the reporter states:

“Med-tech industry is booming in China . . .

A Chinese market for medical technology used to be on the long list of lofty goals for devicemakers like Medtronic. Now U.S. medtech firms are seeing double-digit growth as they partner with Chinese manufacturers, purchase Chinese companies and race to educate and woo Chinese doctors and patients eager to tap the latest technology.

A growing Chinese middle class and increasing investment in health care by the Chinese government are making such devices as pacemakers, defibrillators, insulin pumps and spine products accessible to hundreds of millions of new patients.

More-familiar factors play a role, too, as the nation falls prey to such chronic ailments as heart disease and diabetes, meaning even more customers will lean on technology from U.S. devicemakers to prolong and improve their lives.

Fridley-based Medtronic, for one, is banking on this. China is the linchpin in Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak’s emphasis on building business in emerging markets. Medtronic’s China revenues have shot from $50 million a decade ago to $800 million today.

“China is clearly a unique opportunity and one of four regions around the world we’re targeting for expansion,” Ishrak said at Medtronic’s 2013 annual shareholders meeting. China — growing at 15 to 20 percent a year — now accounts for 40 percent of Medtronic’s emerging-market revenue. Emerging markets make up 10 percent of all Medtronic business.

You’re talking about more than 1 billion people who need care,” Ishrak said more recently, referring to China and India.

“With globalization, the key to sustainable growth in emerging markets will be addressing the barriers of access to lifesaving medical technology.”

The burgeoning Chinese middle class is estimated to number more than 400 million people — larger than the entire population of the United States. That middle class is demanding better access to health care, and the Chinese government has responded by pledging to spend $125 million over the next three years, promising that all citizens will have access to basic health care by 2020. . . .”

The size of the Chinese market gives the Chinese government leverage in trade talks with the US. As indicated below, 49% of Qualcomm’s $24.9 billion in sales came from China during 2013.

TRADE

POLICING CUSTOMS/ANTIDUMPING VIOLATIONS

What happens when a Chinese exporter/producer with a low antidumping rate it obtained from the Commerce Department or a US importer that is playing by the rules see that other Chinese companies or US importers are not playing by the rules and are transshipping merchandise through Malaysia, for example, or playing other trade games to evade US trade and customs laws?   In that situation, a US importer or Chinese exporter has several options to stop Chinese companies and US Importers using an illegal and unfair advantage to evade an Antidumping Order using transshipment or some other false statement to US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”).

Each one of these offensive options will require as much evidence as the Chinese exporter/producer or US importer can assemble to go forward with that step. Each step will also depend upon how much legal fees the company is willing to pay.  The bigger the project the more the fees, but also the possibility of a large reward.

The first option is to simply gather as much evidence as the company has about the Chinese companies and the importers that are involved.  The lawyer then can put the evidence together and contact the lawyers for the Petitioners in the Antidumping Case in question to pass the information on so that they can contact US Customs.   This is the least expensive option, but once the evidence is given to the Petitioners it is gone. The Chinese company or the US importer gets nothing and there is very little chance that it will ever learn what has happened in any investigation.

The second option is to gather the evidence and file an e-allegation at Customs. The lawyers prepare a submission based on the company’s evidence and other evidence that is gathered from the internet and elsewhere.  In the Submission, the lawyers describe to Customs what they know and then they lay back and see what happens.

In conjunction with the second option, the lawyers may also want to file a claim for compensation to Customs under 19 USC 1619 and 19 CFR 161.12.  There is a cap on recovery, however, of $250,000.

Keep in mind, however, that the problem with the first two options is that the company may not know whether Customs does anything or not.  Customs considers investigations, such as transshipment investigations of importers, to be confidential because they could lead to criminal proceedings.  Therefore, Customs is very reluctant to tell the informant anything.  In conjunction with the company’s e-allegation, the company can meet with Customs and tell them about their concerns, but Customs will keep its mouths closed.

The third option, which is more expensive, is to mount an investigation of the Chinese and Malaysian companies and US importers, using private detectives, to gather evidence.  This investigation then leads to a filing under the False Claims Act as a relator under Seal in the Federal District Court under 31 USC 3729 and 3730.   The remedy in a False Claim Act is triple damages plus attorney’s fees and the relator is entitled to 15 to 30% of any recovery by the US Government. Based on the complaint, the US government will initiate an investigation of the Customs violations.

Attached is a Stipulation filed on April 21, 2014 in the case of Protective electronics case maker Otter Products LLC, Stipulation, which has just paid $4.3 million to settle a former employee’s allegations that it violated the False Claims Act and the Tariff Act of 1930 by knowingly underpaying customs duties owed to Customs.  As the relator, the former employee is entitled to 15 to 30% of any recovery plus attorney’s fees, which probably means that the employee will get about $1 million.  Not bad.

But False Claims Act cases require evidence and can be difficult to win in the Antidumping context, because the US government must prove that the importer knew that the imports in question were really coming from China.

But in False Claims Act cases, since the relator is a party to the litigation, the Justice Department and Customs may reveal a little more information about the issues and problems that they are facing in the investigation itself.  If the Justice Department decides to move forward, they will often issue Civil Investigative Demands/Subpoenas so the importers will be under a lot of legal pressure in the case. Imports from the target country can slow down and stop as importers became scared of potential liability, including criminal liability.

Because the legal fees can be high in an FCA case, for a small importer or Chinese exporter, it will be important to look for allies, other importers or foreign producers/exporters that are facing competition from the illegal imports.  When you have several companies in a Coalition with common concerns, the legal fees are much lower and the other companies can help gather more evidence and information increasing the chance that Customs will stop the imports and that damages can be recovered.

In the late 1980s, I published an article on the High Cost of Customs Fraud, which goes into more details on these points.  See Perry Article.

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS – THE FORGOTTEN SUCCESSFUL TRADE PROGRAM

As mentioned in my last newsletter, the Trade Adjustment for Firms (“TAAF”) program is the only Trade Program that works. In my over thirty years of experience in the international trade area, first in the US Government and later defending US importers companies in antidumping cases, there is one overarching lesson that I have learned–protectionism simply does not work. US industries that cannot compete in global markets cannot run from global competition by bringing trade cases.

These cases simply fail to protect the domestic industry from import competition. In response to antidumping orders, Chinese furniture and tissue paper companies have moved to Vietnam, where labor rates are LOWER than China. In the polyethylene shopping bags case, one US importer moved a substantial amount of supply from China to India, Sri Lanka and other countries. While in private practice and later at the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) and Commerce Department, I watched Bethlehem Steel bring more than a hundred antidumping and countervailing duty cases against steel imports from various countries, receiving protection, in effect, from imports for more than 30 years. Where is Bethlehem Steel today? Green fields. When faced with import competition, it is simply too difficult to bring antidumping cases against all the countries in the world, which have lower priced production than the US.

If antidumping and other trade tariffs do not work, what does work? Some point to trade adjustment assistance for employees, a one billion dollar program that helps workers that have been displaced by imports. The problem is the jobs have already been lost. The training is often for jobs that do not exist.

There is another, little known, less costly alternative that saves jobs before they go down the drain—the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program. This program has a proven track record for directly helping US companies that have been injured by imports before there is a massive lay-off or closure, yet it does not restrict imports in any way. Total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is 16 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget

Although at first glance, free market advocates would not support this program, TAA for Firms works. I am on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”), one of eleven regional centers with an annual budget of about a million dollars. NWTAAC, however, published a cost/benefit analysis, which shows that nearly 80 percent of the firms it has assisted since 1984 are still in business. That is eight out of ten companies saved.

In the recent annual Commerce report on TAAF, which is attached to my last post, it is reported that all US companies that joined the program in 2011 were alive in 2013. If the company can be saved then most of the jobs at that company can be saved. This is much more efficient and cost effective than TAA for Workers. The Federal government saves money because there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.

The success of TAA for Firms is based on the fact that it focuses on the U.S. manufacturers, service companies and agricultural producing firms individually. The recovery strategy is custom-made for each firm. Once this strategy is approved by the Commerce Department, experts are hired to implement the strategy. The only interaction the program has with the imports is to verify that imports are “contributing importantly” to the sales and employment decline of the U.S. company.

The recovery strategies are also imaginative. A hydroelectric dam was designed for a sheep rancher, who built the dam with his own money and now receives six figure payments per year from electricity sold to supplement his cash flow from his sheep operations.

To qualify for TAA for Firms, the company has to show a five percent decline in sales or production and a five percent decline in employment, compared to the same period one year earlier. This is a much lower standard than for a large trade case, which requires an entire U.S. industry to show material injury or serious injury. Even if sales are up, if a single product line which comprises 25 percent or more of total sales has declined, that will also qualify the company.

Once the DOC approves the firm’s petition, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Center analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the company. The Center then, working closely with the company, helps it develop a recovery strategy to compete with the imports. When this strategy is approved by the Commerce Department, experts are hired to implement the strategy. The amount of federal assistance is limited to $75,000, which the company must match, but it is the strategic planning and access to the industry experts that helps the company adjust to the import competition at the company level. The Center then monitors the progress of these consultant projects until completed. This helps to ensure success and is one of the few government programs that does monitor the progress. Although the program cannot purchase “hard assets” for the company nor can it give cash to the company, because of the industry experts that can be used to turn a company around, the program has had a tremendous success rate.

Thus, an aluminum smelter used the program to translate its website into eight different languages. In response to increased imports from Norway and Chile, with the help of the program a salmon fisherman, is now providing eco-tours, and another salmon fisherman has developed labels that are in compliance with the marketing and health requirements for the new export markets for their canned salmon. A wire harness manufacturer also received lean manufacturing design and implementation resulting in increased productivity, increased sales and profit, as well as, recovery of all lost jobs due to imports.

These companies are around today because they have learned, with the help of a Federal program, to deal with globalization and not just to run and hide behind protective trade measures.

In 1984, the Reagan Administration appointed Jim Munn to head up the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, probably with the purpose of closing it, and the entire program down. The Reagan Administration was dead set against government involvement in the marketplace. Jim Munn, however, discovered unexpectedly that the program worked and instead of killing it, stayed on to head up NWTAAC for 22 years.

Although free market ideology is important, when a program works it should not be ignored, it should be given the resources it needs to prosper and flourish. While this will not work for every US industry, US businessmen might be well-advised to find the entrepreneurial advice they need to stay in business from the TAA program rather than reaching for a trade lawyer to solve the problem. Most U.S. companies simply need a little guidance to be successful in the international marketplace.

For my letter to the Wall Street Journal on the TAAF program, see attached.  FEBRUARY242011TAACLETTERWSJ – Perry

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—TPA, TPP, TTIP/TA AND BALI/DOHA ROUND

As mentioned in past posts, in the trade world, the most important developments may be the WTO negotiations in Bali and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic (TA)/ the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP negotiations.  These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues becomes a focal point in Congress and many Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

This is particularly a problem because the protectionism is coming from the Democratic side of the aisle. Democratic Senators and Congressmen are supported by labor unions. To date, President Obama cannot get one Democratic Congressman to support Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) in Congress. Without bipartisan/Democratic support for these Trade Agreements, Republicans will not go out on a limb to support President Obama and risk being shot at by the Democrats during the mid-term elections as soft on trade.

As mentioned, in my February post, the day after President Obama pushed the TPA in the State of the Union, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid stated that the TPA bill would not be introduced on the Senate Floor.

To summarize, on January 9, 2014, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, which is posted in my February post on this blog, was introduced into Congress. The TPA bill gives the Administration, USTR and the President, Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority so that if and when USTR negotiates a trade deal in the TPP or the Trans-Atlantic negotiations, the Agreement will get an up or down vote in the US Congress with no amendments.

Under the US Constitution, Congress, not the President has the power to regulate trade with foreign countries. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, of the Constitution empowers Congress “to regulate Commerce with foreign nations” Thus to negotiate a trade agreement, the Congress gives the Executive Branch, the Administration/The President and United States Trade Representative (“USTR”), the Power to negotiate trade deals.

Because trade deals are negotiated with the foreign countries, the only way to make the system work is that under the TPA law when the Trade Agreement is negotiated, the Congress will agree to have an up or down vote on the entire Agreement and no amendments to the Agreement that has already been negotiated will be allowed.

On April 9, 2014, the new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden announced at a speech to the American Apparel & Footwear Association Conference that he was introducing a new TPA bill, what Senator Wyden calls Smart Track. But to date no details have been given about exactly what Smart Track will mean, other than more oversight by Congress and input by the Public in the trade negotiations.

Now the story continues . . . .

On April 10, 2014, ranking Democrat Sander Levin of Michigan spoke about the TPA and the TPP at the Center for American Progress.  In that speech Representative Levin stated:

“No matter where you stand in the debate over trade and globalization all should agree that the status quo is unacceptable. The status quo is low tariffs in our market with imports – often traded unfairly – causing job loss and contributing to income inequality. The status quo is markets closed to U.S. goods and services through tariffs and non-tariff barriers and currency imbalances contributing to huge trade deficits. To make matters worse, many of our trading partners today are negotiating preferential trade agreements with one another that do not include the United States. That means that our exporters could face higher tariffs in those countries than other countries’ exporters. And, the status quo is exemplified by the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh where workers with no rights in the workplace sacrificed their lives on the job.

TPP provides us with an important opportunity to change the status quo and to improve the way the global economy works. If done right, TPP can help level the playing field, to better ensure two-way trade, strengthen the rules of competition, and reflect our values.

The TPP opportunities are real. For example, U.S. dairy producers see an opportunity to remove Canadian tariffs in the range of 250 to 300%, and non-tariff barriers, which have survived two previous U.S.-Canada trade agreements. U.S. auto producers see an opportunity to remove Malaysian tariffs of up to 35% and nontariff measures that significantly raise the cost of American cars sold there. . ..

There can only be one negotiator, but those negotiations must be built on a strong foundation with the Congress that has to approve the final product. With TPP negotiations too far along for Congress to set the initial terms or negotiating objectives, we must now join in a full partnership. …

We need a structure. We need responsibility, accountability, and ownership.

Because TPP addresses a broad range of policy areas, more Members of Congress must play a key role –and Congress as a whole must play a greater role – in TPP. We need to involve the Members of our committees with jurisdiction over trade, but also Members of other committees that have expertise with the issues under negotiations, and other Members also have important roles to play. . . .

We all recognize that globalization is here to stay and that we can’t simply accept the status quo. The question is: what are we prepared to do about it? Are we going to stand on the sidelines and let the polarization too often endemic to trade debates prevail? Are we going to settle for the slogans that trade is bad or the broad brush rhetoric that more trade is always better?”

On April 28, 2014, it was reported that in the mid-term campaigns Democrats are arguing that if the Senate becomes Republican an all Republican-controlled Congress along with compliant President Barack Obama will mean the Trade Agreements will pass. In effect, Democratic candidates argue that they should stay in power to keep the country protectionist and to prevent President Obama from giving away the store on key policy issues, including trade.

Rep. Gary Peters, a Democrat running for Senate in Michigan, reportedly is openly campaigning against the president’s free-trade agenda. Peters argues:

“If a Republican Congress establishes a goal of working with the president on trade, it will certainly facilitate” passing fast-track trade authority”

On April 30, 2014, Chairman Camp of the House Ways and Means Committee stated:

“We also have opportunities to pursue new trade agreements . . .Trade Promotion Authority is an important tool to moving these agreements forward, and yet, here again, we have seen little to no action from the Administration on the Hill. The Administration must actively engage with Congress on TPA so we can move these job-creating agreements forward.”

On May 1, 2014, the Senate Finance Committee held a major hearing. A video of the hearing can be found on the internet at http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=3064b778-5056-a032-523b-0d5505711ac5.

Statements by Democratic Chairman Senator Wyden and Republican ranking member Senator Orrin Hatch along with the testimony of USTR Froman are attached below. Senator Wyden stated in part in his attached opening statement WydenTradeHearingStmt :

“For decades ,American trade policy has been a story of adaptation and change. In particular, the extraordinary economic changes of the last generation demonstrate how important it is that future trade policies are reformed to reflect the times. . . .

over the previous decade,currency manipulation has reemerged as a major concern for the U.S. economy. China made commitments to follow global trade rules when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2000. But when it comes to currency,as in so many other areas, China is keeping a finger firmly planted on the scale and undermining those commitments. Pick a product manufactured in China and imported to the U.S. –any product–and currency manipulation makes it artificially cheaper. That is hurting American workers’ ability to compete.

Finally, unlike 20 years ago, Americans expect to easily find online the information they want on key issues like trade. Yet too often, there is trade secrecy instead of trade transparency. It’s time to more fully inform Americans about trade negotiations and provide our people more opportunity to express their views on trade policy. Bringing the American people into full and open debates on trade agreements that have the effect of law is not too much to ask. . . .

Here’s my bottom line. The new breed of trade challenges spawned over the last generation must be addressed in imaginative new policies and locked into enforceable, ambitious, job-generating trade agreements.They must reflect the need for a free and open Internet, strong labor rights and environmental protections. Nations don’t dismantle protectionist barriers or adopt these rules on their own. They do so with reciprocal agreements hammered out through negotiation. America must establish new rules to reflect today’s trade norms and enforce them.”

Other than more transparency, however, Senator Wyden did not spell out the details of his new Smart Track initiative.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch stated in part in his attached opening statement 5.01.14 Hatch Opening Statement on Administration’s Tradey Policy Agenda:

“President Obama’s trade agenda is extremely ambitious. If it succeeds,it will help shape global trade patterns for decades to come. If it fails, it will result in billions of dollars of missed economic opportunity for American workers and job-creators.

Of course, the President’s term is not yet over and the jury is still very much out. Even so, I am concerned.

First and foremost, the fact that Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, is not renewed creates a serious,and perhaps fatal, flaw in the President’s trade agenda. I do not believe you can conclude high-standard agreements that will meet Congress’ approval without TPA. And, I am not the only one who holds this view. . . .

Ambassador Froman, I have no doubt in your capabilities or those of your staff, but history tells us very clearly that, without TPA, your trade agenda will almost certainly fail. That is why I am very disappointed in the President’s passive approach on this issue.

I am sure you can remember the enormous political effort President Clinton put into successful implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. And I am sure you can also recall President Bush’s total political commitment to renewing TPA in 2002. In those cases, war rooms were established and each cabinet secretary made Congressional approval of those initiatives a public priority.

Put simply, we are not seeing that level of commitment from President Obama, which is disappointing. And, without more effort on the part of the administration, I don’t think we can succeed. . . .”

USTR Froman stated in part in his attached opening statement FROMAN STATE:

“The Obama Administration has a strong record of success in promoting U.S. exports and creating jobs here at home. Over the past four years, U.S. exports have increased by nearly 50 percent – four times faster than our economy as a whole – reaching a record high of $2.3 trillion in 2013. In fact, a third of our total economic growth is attributed to this increase in U.S. exports.

Exports mean jobs. Each $1 billion in exports supports 5,400-5,900 U.S. jobs. U.S. exports have supported 1.6 million additional private sector jobs since 2009 – that means a total 11.3 million Americans now owe their jobs to exports, and those jobs pay 13-18 percent more on average than non-export related jobs. . . .

As we pursue this agenda, we will continue to consult with Congress and seek input from a wide range of advisors, stakeholders, and the public at large. We have held over 1,250 meetings with Congress about TPP alone – and that doesn’t include the meetings we’ve had on T-TIP, TPA, AGOA, and other initiatives. Our Congressional partners preview our proposals and give us critical feedback every step of the way. We also ensure that any Member of Congress who is interested has access to the negotiating text and the opportunity to receive detailed briefings by our negotiators.

Further, we have cast a wide net to draw in the views of stakeholders and the public more generally, and to share information with them. We have solicited public comments regarding negotiating aims and objectives through notices in the Federal Register; public hearings; open invitations to stakeholders to meet with U.S. and foreign negotiators at negotiating rounds; the dissemination of trade policy updates through press releases, fact sheets, blog posts, statements on USTR’s website – and, yes, tweets; and direct and constant outreach by U.S. trade officials to solicit, obtain, and incorporate public input in the course of their daily work. Most recently, we published detailed goals and objectives for T-TIP negotiations that outline what we are seeking in every chapter of the agreement. . . .

Finally, let me say a word about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA is the mechanism by which Congress has worked with Presidents since 1974 to give the Executive its marching orders about what to negotiate, how to work with Congress before and during the negotiations, and how Congress will take up and approve or disapprove the final agreement. There is no other area of policy that reflects closer coordination between the Executive branch and Congress than trade policy.

The last TPA legislation was passed over a decade ago. Much has changed since that time, from the May 10, 2007 agreement on labor, environment, innovation, and access to medicines to the rise of the digital economy and the increasing role of SOEs. We agree with the broad group of stakeholders that these issues should be reflected in a new TPA bill.

Issues raised by the emergence of the digital economy and the increasing role of SOEs in the global economy should be part of the statutory negotiating objectives. And there are new forms of protectionism which threaten U.S. exports, which should be reflected as well.

We have heard from many that TPA needs to be updated. We agree. The Administration welcomed the introduction of bipartisan TPA legislation in January, and looks forward to working with this Committee and Congress as a whole to secure TPA that has as broad bipartisan support as possible. We also look forward to renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which helps provide American workers with the skills to compete in the 21st century. “

 

During the May 1st hearing, Senator Chuck Schumer made it very clear that without agreement to curtail currency manipulation in the TPP, he and many others in Congress will not approve the TPP Agreement. In response to a question from Senator Schumer, USTR Froman stated that currency manipulation has not been discussed yet in the TPP. Senator Stabenow in a follow up stated that 60 Senators and over 200 Representatives in the House have sent letters to President Obama stating that currency manipulation must be addressed in the TPP.

MAY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On May 1, 2014, Commerce published in the attached Federal Register notice REVIEW REQUESTS regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of May. The specific antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China are: Aluminum Extrusions, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, Citric Acid and Certain Citrate Salts, Iron Construction Castings, Oil Country Tubular Goods (“OCTG”), Pure Magnesium, and Stilbenic Optical Brightening Agents.

For those US import companies that imported aluminum extrusions, including curtain walls and other products, citric acid, OCTG and the other products listed above from China during the period May 1, 2013-April 30, 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

This is a very important month for US importers because administrative reviews determine how much US importers actually owe in Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases. Generally, the US industry will request a review of all Chinese companies. If a Chinese company does not respond in the Administrative Review, their antidumping and countervailing duty rate could well go to the highest level and for certain imports the US importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

In my experience, many US importers do not realize the significance of the administrative review investigations. They think the antidumping and countervailing duty case is over because the initial investigation is over. Many importers are blindsided because their Chinese supplier did not respond in the administrative review, and the US importers find themselves liable for millions of dollars in retroactive liability.

In the recent final determination in the Wood Flooring Case, for example, although the rates were very low for many Chinese exporters, only 5%, 20 Chinese exporters had their rates go to 58% because they did not participate in the review investigation and did not file a no shipment certification, separate rate application or separate rate certification at the Commerce Department.

SOLAR CELLS/SOLAR PRODUCTS FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

In April seven US Senators from Montana, Washington State and other States sent the attached letter SENATORS SOLAR LETTER to Vice President Biden asking for help in settling the Solar Cells and Solar Products antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China. In that letter, the Senators state:

“Thank you for your on-going efforts to support the growing solar industry in the United States. We appreciated your willingness to bring the solar trade dispute to the attention of Chinese leaders during your visit to China late last year.

We write because the dispute with China over solar goods continues to escalate, and we believe your leadership is critical to resolving the current situation. China continues to demonstrate an unwillingness to settle the dispute until our domestic solar industry presents unified proposals that remove existing trade restrictions. Therefore, in order to align the domestic solar industry, we ask you to bring folks together to develop a negotiated settlement that will lead to growth in all aspects of the solar industry. The full support of the White House is needed to lay the groundwork for a long-term settlement with China.

Earlier this year, the Department of Commerce commenced another round of antidumping investigations into Chinese solar panels, which will likely lead to additional tariffs and further retaliations from the Chinese. Continuing to let this dispute play out one case at a time will limit job growth and it may even lead to job loss.

The solar industry is experiencing remarkable growth. In fact, the industry employed over 140,000 workers last year, a 20 percent increase from the previous year. We want to see all areas of the industry continue to create high-paying jobs for Americans. From panel sales and installation to panel and component manufacturing, growth in the solar industry is an outstanding opportunity to create high-paying jobs and to enhance our energy security. That is why it is critical that the administration engage with all U.S. stakeholders to resolve this trade dispute as quickly as possible.”

As mentioned by the Senators, Solar World and the US Solar Cell producers are battling installers and developers and other solar cells/products users and the US producers of Polysilicon in Washington, Montana and other states, who are being wiped out of China by Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

There have been efforts to negotiate a settlement with the Chinese government, but to date each effort has failed. The problem is that in contrast to the EU, Canada and China, for example, there is no public interest test in US antidumping and countervailing duty law. Thus, the U.S. government cannot legally compel SolarWorld to accept the Agreement. In fact, the petitioner, SolarWorld, would ultimately have to agree to any settlement agreement reached between the U.S. and China.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

As mentioned in prior newsletters, we are working with APCO, a well-known lobbying/government relations firm in Washington DC, on establishing a US importers/end users lobbying coalition to lobby against the expansion of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws against China for the benefit of US companies.

On September 18, 2013, ten US Importers agreed to form the Import Alliance for America. The objective of the Coalition will be to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.

We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The United States is the only country that has retroactive liability for its importers in antidumping and countervailing duty cases. The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries. We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.

Two Congressmen have now agreed to meet importers in the New Jersey/NY area and in the Long Beach area to listen to their grievances regarding the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws. We are now contacting many US importers and also Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they are interested in participating in the Alliance.

As indicated above, at the present time, Commerce takes the position that it will not make China a market economy country in 2016 as required by the WTO Accession Agreement. Changes to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law against China can only happen because of a push by US importers and end user companies. In US politics, only squeaky wheels get the grease.

In forthcoming newsletters we will provide additional information about the Alliance and specific meeting days in different areas of the United States.

THE HYPOCRISY OF US PRISON LABOR ALLEGATION REDUX

In my last post, I reported that at a recent Housewares Show in Chicago, the Program Manager of the Business Development Group of the US Justice Department’s Federal Bureau of Prisons was going booth to booth saying that the prison factories run by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons in the United States could match any Chinese price with US prison labor.

Apparently, some US producers have taken the bait. It has been reported that Don Finkell, one of the persons behind the Woodflooring from China antidumping and countervailing cases, WOODFLOORING PRISON LABOR has come out of retirement to reenter the wood flooring business. Finkell has a new company, American OEM Wood Floors, and he sees an opportunity in the growing private-label business that has been dominated by Chinese companies. “What we’re talking about doing is to give an alternative to private-label programs that is domestically produced.” Finkell plans to use a model that he is familiar with: prison labor. The company has leased a former prison furniture factory in Only, Tenn., from the state of Tennessee, and plans to use what is referred to in the state as “offender labor,” as well as civilian workers. This marks the eighth and most sophisticated prison plan Finkell has created.

Slave/Prison labor is acceptable if it is used to compete against Chinese imports and the US industry.

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA

With regards to the Chinese ban on shellfish from the West Coast, the latest report is that the Chinese government will not lift the ban until government officials have implemented testing for inorganic arsenic in geoducks from Washington and the rest of the Northwest.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING ZTE

On April 14, 2014, Borden Co. (PTE) Ltd., a Singapore company, and Anhing Corporation, a California company, filed a trademark infringement and counterfeiting case against Grandway Enterprises, a Nevada corporation, and Hing Yip, a Chinese company. HING YIP

On April 15, 2014, Long Corner Consumer Electronics LLC filed a patent infringement case against ZTE (USA) Inc. ZTE LONG

On April 22, 2014, BLK DNM Group. LLC filed a trademark infringement case against Sweetyet Development Ltd., a Hong Kong company. SWEETYET HK CHINA

On April 23, 2014, Vstream Technologies LLC filed a patent infringement case against ZTE and other high tech companies. VSTREAM ZTE COMPLAINT

On April 25, 2014, Thomas & Betts International LLC and Thomas & Betts Corp. filed a trademark infringement and unfair trade practices case against Burndy LLC, Hubbell Inc., 3M Co., and Zhejiang Shangyu City Fengfan Electrical Fittings Co., Ltd. THOMAS BETTS ZHEJIANG

On April 28, 2014, Cyber Acoustics LLC and Cyber Acoustics HK Ltd., a Hong Kong corporation, filed a trademark infringement and false designation of origin against Shenzhen Fenda Technology Co., a Chinese corporation.SHENZHEN FENDA

On May 1, 2014, a patent infringement case was filed by Cordelia Lighting, Inc. against Zhejiang Yankon Group Co., Ltd. d/b/a Energetic Lighting, a China company, and Yankon Industries Inc., a California corporation. CORDELA YANKON

BANKING

On April 29, 2014, the US Justice Department filed the attached money laundering complaint against Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and the Bank of China seeking the forfeiture of certain funds as property involved in money laundering and as proceeds of violations of the United States sanctions laws and regulations and of the United States laws against wire fraud and bank fraud.  CHINA MONEY LAUNDERING COMPLAINT According to the US Government, the claims arise out of a scheme by a Chinese national to evade US export laws and commit fraud and money laundering by supplying various metallurgical goods and related components to Iran.

ANTITRUST

REHEARING EN BANC—LCDS CASE

On April 24, 2014, the US Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asked the Seventh Circuit for a rehearing en banc to reconsider a ruling blocking Motorola liquid crystal display price-fixing claims, saying the decision threatens the government’s enforcement efforts related to foreign cartels.

The DOJ and the FTC argued that the panel’s decision undermined the government’s ability to prosecute cartels that harm consumers that increasingly deal with foreign-made components.

In March, the 7th Circuit ruled that the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act barred Motorola from seeking damages from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., LG Display Co. Ltd. and other LCD makers for panels sold to the company’s foreign subsidiaries, which were incorporated into mobile devices Motorola eventually sold in the U.S.

In their attached amicus brief ftc doj ftaia brief, the DOJ and the FTC argue that the panel erred in concluding that the FTAIA banned claims based on the price-fixing of a component sold abroad because that sale did not have a direct effect on U.S. commerce. Under the FTAIA, anti-competitive conduct must have a “direct, substantial and reasonably foreseeable effect” on U.S. domestic or import commerce to support a damages claim.

The Justice Department and FTC argue :

“The United States and the Federal Trade Commission enforce the federal antitrust laws and have a strong interest in the correct interpretation of the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act of 1982 (FTAIA), which added Section 6a to the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 6a. Section 6a makes the Sherman Act’s other sections inapplicable to conduct involving export or wholly foreign commerce except when that conduct (i) has a “direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect” on certain U.S. commerce and (ii) that effect “gives rise to a claim.”. . . .

STATEMENT OF ISSUES

1. Whether the panel erred in holding that fixing the price of a component sold abroad cannot have a direct effect on U.S. domestic or import commerce in products incorporating the component.

2. Whether the panel erred in holding that such an effect cannot give rise to an antitrust claim in the United States.

STATEMENT

This case involves a global conspiracy to fix the price of LCD panels incorporated into cellphones and other popular consumer devices. . . . The panel held that Section 6a precludes any antitrust claims for price fixing of products sold abroad, no matter how massively and predictably U.S. consumers were harmed. The panel decision should be vacated. . . .

Congress enacted the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act of 1982, which added Section 6a to the Sherman Act, with the express purpose to “increase United States exports of products and services,” . . . .Section 6a “seeks to make clear to American exporters (and to firms doing business abroad) that the Sherman Act does not prevent them from entering into business arrangements . . . however anticompetitive, as long as those arrangements adversely affect only foreign markets.” . .. Congress also sought to ensure that purchasers in the United States remained fully protected by the federal antitrust laws. Accordingly, conduct involving “[i]mport trade and commerce are excluded at the outset from the coverage of the FTAIA in the same way that domestic interstate commerce is excluded.” . . . And the FTAIA leaves conduct involving export or wholly foreign commerce inside the Sherman Act’s reach when “the conduct both (1) sufficiently affects American commerce, i.e., it has a ‘direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect’ on American domestic, import or (certain) export commerce, and (2) has an effect of a kind that antitrust law considers harmful, i.e., the ‘effect’ must ‘giv[e] rise to a [Sherman Act] claim.’” . . . . Motorola Mobility Inc. (Motorola) filed suit against foreign makers of LCD panels in the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that defendants violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by conspiring to fix the price of LCD panels world-wide from 1996 to 2006.

Motorola alleged that the conspiracy not only raised prices on LCD panels but also led to increased prices on cellphones and other products in which the panels were incorporated, many of which were “specifically destined for sale and use in the United States.” . . . .

Rehearing or rehearing en banc is necessary because the panel decision conflicts with Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium, Inc. . . . and raises exceptionally important questions about the reach of the Sherman Act. The panel decision should be vacated because its resolution of these questions threatens the ability of government law enforcement and private actions to prevent and redress massive harm to U.S. consumers. . . .

In applying the effects exception, this Court has recognized that “domestic and foreign markets are interrelated and influence each other.” . . . Congress created the effects exception because it understood that conduct involving wholly foreign commerce can have significant anticompetitive effects on U.S. domestic or import commerce and wanted that conduct to remain subject to the Sherman Act’s protections. . . .

Applying these principles to the record, the conspiracy’s effect on U.S. commerce in cellphones is direct. The natural and probable consequence of increasing the price of a critical and substantial component like LCD panels is an increase in the price of cellphones. Nor does the effect become speculative or uncertain because it is “mediated” by Motorola’s decision on what price to charge for its cellphones. . . . There is evidence that the overcharges on the price-fixed panels have been passed on to cellphone purchasers in the United States. . . .

This is why the effect on U.S. commerce in cellphones is “doubtless” . . . . Unless vacated, the panel’s narrow view of the statutory term “direct” is likely to constrain the government’s ability to effectively prosecute cartels that substantially and intentionally harm U.S. commerce and consumers, as well as prevent those injured in the United States from redressing that harm. “Nothing is more common nowadays than for products imported to the United States to include components that the producers had bought from foreign manufacturers.” . . . Anticompetitive conduct involving those component purchases often causes significant harm in the downstream consumer markets. . . .

Lastly, the “practical” considerations cited by the panel, including the need to avoid “friction with many foreign countries,” . . . do not support its view that the Sherman Act cannot apply here. Congress “deliberately” phrased Section 6a to “include commerce that . . . was wholly foreign,” . . . leaving the Sherman Act applicable to conduct involving such commerce when it sufficiently affects U.S. domestic or import commerce. It has been well-established since Judge Hand’s opinion in United States v. Aluminum Co. of America. . . that “the Sherman Act applies to foreign conduct that was meant to produce and did in fact produce some substantial effect in the United States.” . . .

When enacting the FTAIA, Congress was thus fully aware that “America’s antitrust laws, when applied to foreign conduct, can interfere with a foreign nation’s ability independently to regulate its own commercial affairs,”. . . but nonetheless determined that application of those laws was reasonable when it redressed domestic harm, because of the United States’ interest in protecting U.S. consumers from anticompetitive conduct. . . .

Our “courts have long held that application of our antitrust laws to foreign anticompetitive conduct is nonetheless reasonable, and hence consistent with principles of prescriptive comity, insofar as they reflect a legislative effort to redress domestic antitrust injury that foreign anticompetitive conduct has caused.” . . . . Indeed, the “extraterritorial application of antitrust laws on the basis of the effects doctrine is by now widely accepted” around the world. . . .

As this Court noted in Minn-Chem, it is important for our courts to protect U.S. consumers from foreign price-fixing conspiracies because the price fixers’ host countries “often have no incentive” to enforce their antitrust laws because they “would logically be pleased to reap economic rents from other countries” whose consumers ultimately bear the burden of the inflated prices. . . .”

EXTRADITION OF FOREIGN NATIONAL TO FACE CRIMINAL ANTITRUST CHARGES

On April 4, 2014, the Justice Department announced that it was successful for the first time in extraditing a foreign national to face charges related to a cartel, worldwide antitrust bid-rigging conspiracy related to marine hose sold in the United States.

On April 24, 2014, the Justice Department announced that after extradition from Germany the foreign executive was sentenced to two years in prison.  DOJ MARINE HOSE

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

Commentators have observed that governments are increasingly using antitrust and other regulatory powers for broader political and economic purposes and following the Commerce Department’s lead, the Chinese government is doing the same.

On January 28, 2014, there was a report out of China that Qualcomm is facing a record antitrust fine of $1 billion in an antitrust case from China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

On April 18, 2014, Peter Corne, head of Dorsey’s Shanghai office, published the attached article, china-a-new-dawn-in-anti-trust, about “Dawn Raids” by Chinese antitrust authorities. As Mr. Corne states:

“Chinese antitrust regulators have not historically been known to engage in aggressive investigations. Things may be beginning to change. Last year, both Qualcomm and IDC were put under the microscope by PRC National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) officials using tactics more commonly associated with antitrust regulators in the United States and Europe. Here we will describe what happened.

Qualcomm experienced a classic “dawn raid” in November 2013, when NDRC’s special investigation squad swooped upon Qualcomm’s Shanghai and Beijing offices simultaneously, with little or no prior warning, in a seamless, well-orchestrated operation. NDRC officials reportedly seized electronic documents (including pricing and marketing information) and compelled management to provide detailed answers to questions about Qualcomm’s chip pricing and involvement in foreign anti-trust investigations. The NDRC has apparently had Qualcomm in its sights since receiving allegations that Qualcomm had engaged in excessive and discriminatory pricing and imposed unreasonable trade conditions on patent licenses and phone chip sales. Qualcomm could be considered particularly vulnerable to such allegations as it is generally assumed to be market-dominant in the wireless communication “standard essential patents” market.

IDC, in contrast, appeared insulated from such an investigation due to its lack of physical presence in China. But NDRC officials were not deterred. The NDRC filed a case in June 2013, alleging that IDC had abused its market dominance in the telecommunications industry by imposing excessive royalties, and invited IDC senior executives to China for “discussions.” IDC, to its credit, cooperated with the NDRC investigation, and in due course applied for a suspension to the investigation based on a series of voluntary commitments to refrain from charging excessive royalties, bundling essential patents, and requiring mandatory cross-licensing free of charge.

The new threat of aggressive antitrust enforcement is not limited to the NDRC, which is responsible for pricing-related issues. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”) earlier in 2013 concluded what, to date, can only be described as the “mother” of Chinese anti-trust investigations against Tetrapak. The SAIC reportedly raided two offices of Tetrapak in Shanghai and Kunshan on the same day, 18 April, 2013. During the course of the Tetrapak investigation, the SAIC squad interviewed heads of departments and relevant employees and collected more than 30,000 emails, internal meeting minutes, numerous sales contracts, and other Tetrapak books and records. SAIC investigators even seized deleted emails, which provided the SAIC with important evidence to build its case against Tetrapak.

“Dawn raids” and similar aggressive investigatory tactics are no longer solely a Western phenomenon. They have now come to China and will increase in frequency over time. Companies should analyse whether or not they are at risk of investigation and take precautions through planning and training to ensure that they can respond appropriately when raids occur.”

The attached April Antitrust Report by TD & Associates, a Chinese law firm, TD Monthly Antitrust Report of April 2014, states that antitrust review of mergers by China’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) is slowing up mega international deals:

“China is becoming a big obstacle slowing down the process of global mega deals. Anti-trust experts said that since Chinese anti-monopoly enforcement authorities are comparatively short-staffed but have to supervise a relatively wide range of affairs and take into consideration the effects of transactions on China’s domestic economic development, some large-scale merger transactions have been held up.

These experts said that because of the potential delay in China and the fact that remedies made by transaction parties are always required in order to deal with Chinese anti-monopoly enforcement authorities’ competition concerns, trading advisers are making an attempt to minimize the Chinese government’s impact on transactions and if possible, even avoid review by Chinese anti-monopoly enforcement authorities. . . .

China introduced its anti-monopoly law in 2008. The country’s rapid economic ascent has turned its anti-trust authority into a powerful actor on the world stage. Global companies pay close attention to its merger enforcement because they are eager to increase their market share in China and generally do not want to make divestitures there. Also, China at times has asked for actions that are not required by anti-trust authorities elsewhere. . . .”

TD also reports that recently Chinese antitrust authorities have gone after an International cartel to fix the prices of automobile wheel bearings targeting Svenska Kullager Fabriken (SKF) Schaeffler, Nippon Seikō Kabushiki Kaisha (NSK), NFC, and NTN.

SECURITIES

FCPA

In the attached April 2014 Dorsey Foreign Corruption Digest, FCPA DIGEST, Dorsey FCPA lawyers state regarding China and Hong Kong:

“Claims have been published that employees of the Chongqing plant of Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) may have paid bribes in order to obtain employment with the corporate.

In a statement issued by Ford, it explained that the company takes the allegations very seriously and has initiated an investigation. In the statement, the Ford representative was quoted saying: “any behavior that violates Ford’s policies, such as the alleged behavior, would result in immediate dismissals of employees”.

It was suggested in the report that the making of corrupt payments may be an attractive option for those seeking employment in a large corporation in an attempt to secure a higher salaried job, as there are increasingly fewer opportunities to get a desirable job with an attractive salary in large corporations; most positions are outsourced to employment agencies.

Wages in Chongqing are significantly lower than in other major cities, such as Shanghai. In a city where the minimum wage is just 1,250 yuan per month, a job at Ford is reported to pay 60,000 yuan per year, in addition to overtime and bonuses.

Hong Kong

According to reports, a former licensed representative and a client of the Hong Kong securities firm, Phillip Securities (Hong Kong) Limited (“PSL”) have been charged by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (“ICAC”) with accepting and offering a total of over $365,000 in illegal commissions respectively in relation to trading in securities.

It has been reported that Ching Yim-har, a former licensed representative of PSL, faces two counts of accepting an advantage, contrary to section 9(1)(a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (“POBO”). Yip Ying-lai, the PSL client, has been charged with two counts of offering an advantage to an agent, in contravention of section 9(2)(a) of the POBO.

It was alleged that during 2007 and 2008, Ching, accepted $99,688 and $265,688 in illegal commissions from Yip as a reward for providing services as a licensed representative in respect of the investment account of Yip held with PSL. The investigation and hearing resulted from a corruption complaint referred by the Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”).

It is said, the remaining two charges assert Yip offered $99,688 and $265,688 by way of illegal commissions to Ching for the same purpose.

The SFC and the PSL have offered their full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation.”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On April 23, 2014, it was reported that Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) may file an enforcement action over allegations that Qualcomm Inc. bribed individuals with Chinese state-owned companies. According to earnings reports, Qualcomm obtained 49 percent of its $24.9 billion in sales from China during the fiscal year ending September 2013.

On April 30, 2014, Wai Tak Yeung filed a class action securities case against Giant Interactive Group Inc. of Shanghai, Yuzhu Shi, Wei Liu, Xuefeng Ji, Andrew Y. Yan, Peter Andrew Schloss, Jason Nanchun Jiang, Giant Investment Ltd. and Giant Merger Ltd. GIANT CLASS ACTION

On May 1, 2014, a class action securities case was filed by Ashish Anand against Lihua International, Jianhua Zhu and Daphne Yan Huang. Lihua International Inc. is a Delaware corporation that manufactures, markets and distributes refined copper products through its wholly-owned subsidiaries Danyang Lihua Electron Co., Ltd., (“Lihua Electron”) and Jiangsu Lihua Copper Industry Co., Ltd. (“Lihua Copper”).

If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–DEFAULT DANGERS, TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP IN JEOPARDY, TRADE, CUSTOMS ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

US Capital Pennsylvania Avenue After the Snow Washington DCTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER

Dear Friends,

There have been some major developments in litigation, including dangers of default judgments, trade, Solar Cells, Chinese Antidumping, patents, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

January was a very important month for US Trade Policy because of the problems with the Trade Promotion Authority/Fast Track Trade Bill and the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and Trans- Atlantic (“TA”) Trade Agreements in Congress.  Literally there have been day to day developments culminating with President Obama’s January 28th State of the Union address followed by the January 29th decision of Senate Majority leader Harry Reid to oppose the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) Bill and the TPP and TA Negotiations.

As described below, Senator Reid’s decision to not allow the TPA bill to be introduced in the Senate may be the day free trade died.  If Senator Reid’s decision becomes final, this will have a dramatic impact on all trade relations, including trade relations with China, as the United States becomes more and more protectionist.

US LITIGATION AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES—DANGERS OF DEFAULT

Recently through a Chinese law firm a Chinese company approached us because they were facing a US trademark case brought by a competitor in the United States.  The company’s question, why respond?  We are a Chinese company and you cannot catch us and make us pay damages in the United States.

We pointed out that the trademark case in question is a tough case for the Plaintiffs to prove because the trademarks in question are not registered marks and are common law marks.  If the Chinese company fights the case, it would have a good chance of winning the case.  But if the Chinese company defaults, it loses the right to contest the merits of the case.

In antidumping and countervailing duty cases, Chinese companies with US import operations have also told us, “Don’t worry.  We will never pay antidumping and countervailing duties; they cannot catch us in China.”  The times, however, are changing.

In many US cases against Chinese companies in Federal District Court, Plaintiffs are asking for damages, an injunction and punitive damages.  If the Chinese company wants to sell its products in the United States again, it has to fight.  If it does not fight, when the Chinese company sells its products in the United States, those products, including all inventory and accounts receivable, can be attached to satisfy the judgment.

Moreover, when a default judgment is for money damages, the US company is seeking to collect actual damages, interest from the date of the judgment or before, statutory damages, possibly punitive damages and attorney’s fees, which eventually will total millions of dollars.  If the Chinese company has a strong legal argument against the US Plaintiff, when it defaults, the Chinese company loses the right to make those legal arguments.

Moreover, this is no longer the 1990s or even early 2,000s.  Over the last two decades, Chinese companies have grown up and have bank accounts and assets/money and subsidiaries all over the world.  But that means it is easier for US judgment holders to collect money on their default judgments against Chinese companies.

If the Chinese company continues to do business in the US in the face of a default judgment, Plaintiffs can attach the company’s assets.  U.S. Marshalls can show up at a U.S. trade show and take all the company’s trade show materials to satisfy the judgment.  US Marshalls can go to warehouses where the company stores its products and take them.  US plaintiffs can go after the Chinese company’s accounts receivable.  The US Plaintiffs and their US lawyers can attach or garnish the Chinese company’s bank accounts–in the U.S., Hong Kong, the EC, Taiwan and countries all over the World where US judgments are enforceable and also now in China itself.

If the Chinese company banks with a Chinese bank that has a branch in the U.S., such as New York, Plaintiffs will garnish that branch bank and go after the China company’s  assets/bank accounts located in any of the bank’s other branches, wherever located, including China.

In 2010 a US inventor sued Chinese tire companies in Shandong Province for patent infringement and unfair competition in a Federal District Court in Virginia.  The Chinese companies did not fight the case and the Federal District Court entered a default judgment for $26 million.

In September 2013, in the attached complaint TIRES COLLECTION CASE the US law firm and inventor sued the Chinese Industrial and Commercial Bank Branch in New York City, saying give the US Plaintiffs the records and assets of these companies in China to satisfy the US $26 million judgment.  If the Chinese bank branch refuses to pay, the Bank could face fines of $100,000 a day, as an example.

Under the Single Entity Doctrine, US Federal Courts have held that if the Court has jurisdiction over the Chinese bank branch, it has jurisdiction over the bank worldwide.  If a Chinese company has any bank accounts in Chinese banks, such as the Bank of China or the Industrial and Commerce Bank, those banks have branches in New York City and the Chinese company can be attacked through its bank.  We are presently representing a Chinese Bank in a similar case and have 30 lawyers working full time on the case in Guangzhou on discovery.

The point is that Chinese companies can run, but they cannot hide.  If a Chinese company defaults in US litigation, it can be attacked in the US, Hong Kong, Taiwan, EC, Canada and many other countries, and now China through Chinese bank branches in the US.  So when a Chinese company defaults in US litigation, it puts the entire company at risk.

On the other hand, if the Chinese company decides to fight the case and hire a US lawyer, it may be able to pay a small amount of money as compensation or simply change its product or trade dress slightly and settle the entire case.  In many cases, if the Chinese company fights, it may be able to win the entire case and in certain situations get money from the US company bringing the case.

Ignoring US litigation is like picking up the sesame and losing the watermelon.  If the Chinese company does business in the United States and intends to continue to do business in the United States, trying to avoid service or defaulting after service may materially damage its business.  It will certainly materially damage its ability to do business in the United States.  The costs of default may be significant and far greater than that which would be necessary to defend against the US lawsuit.

TRADE

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—TPP AND BALI/DOHA ROUND

As mentioned in my past newsletter, in the trade world, the most important developments may be the WTO negotiations in Bali and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic (TA) negotiations with the EC.  Experts have estimated that TPP and TA Agreements could increase global business by several trillion dollars, if they can be concluded and implemented. These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues becomes a focal point in Congress and many Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

This is particularly a problem because the protectionism is coming from the Democratic side of the aisle.  Democratic Senators and Congressmen are supported by labor unions.  Although companies see the substantial increase in business from the TPP and TA Trade Agreements, unions only see a loss of US manufacturing jobs.  To date, President Obama cannot get one Democratic Congressman to support Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) in Congress.  Without bipartisan/Democratic support for these Trade Agreements, Republicans will not go out on a limb to support President Obama and risk being shot at by the Democrats during the mid-term elections as soft on trade.

This rising protectionism in Congress directly threatens the TPP and all future trade deals with China and many other countries.

TPP NEGOTIATIONS MAY END AS SENATOR MAJORITY LEADER HARRY REID REFUSES TO LET THE TPA BILL GET TO THE SENATE FLOOR

As the Doha Round chances went up, the chance of TPP and TA Agreements fell down and may have fallen down completely.  As mentioned in my last post, USTR and US government officials were predicting that the TPP negotiations would conclude at the end of the year with an Agreement.  That is not going to happen.  The Congressional problems regarding the TPP have grown larger and larger and, in fact, may now be insurmountable.

Although the TPP does not include China, China is the elephant in the room and so its presence is very much in the mind of all the negotiators and the political powers in the United States.  The public reaction to TPP and the TPA, which is needed to conclude the TPP agreement, in part, is a reaction to trade with China and is a reflection of public and political attitudes in the United States to trade with China.

In January the TPP and Trans-Atlantic Agreements have created high drama on Capitol Hill as there have been literally day to day developments.

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY (“TPA”)

On January 9, 2014, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican, of the Senate Finance Committee and Representative Dave Camp, Republican, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced the attached Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014. HOUSE FAST TRACK BILL The TPA bill gives the Administration, USTR and the President, Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority so that if and when USTR negotiates a trade deal in the TPP or the Trans-Atlantic negotiations, the Agreement will get an up or down vote in the US Congress with no amendments.

Under the US Constitution, Congress, not the President has the power to regulate trade with foreign countries.  Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, of the Constitution empowers Congress “to regulate Commerce with foreign nations”  Thus to negotiate a trade agreement, the Congress gives the Executive Branch, the Administration/The President and United States Trade Representative (“USTR”), the Power to negotiate trade deals.

Because trade deals are negotiated with the foreign countries, the only way to make the system work is that under the TPA law when the Trade Agreement is negotiated, the Congress will agree to have an up or down vote on the entire Agreement and no amendments to the Agreement that has already been negotiated will be allowed.

In introducing the new Trade Priorities Act, Senator Baucus stated that “This is our opportunity to tell the Administration – and our trading partners – what Congress’ negotiating priorities are.  TPA legislation is critical to a successful trade agenda. It is critical to boosting U.S. exports and creating jobs. And it’s critical to fueling America’s growing economy.”

According to Senator Hatch, “Every President since FDR has sought trade promotion authority from Congress because of the job-creating benefits of trade. Renewing TPA will help advance a robust trade agenda that will help American businesses, workers, farmers and ranchers by giving them greater access to overseas markets.”

The TPA Bill set out a clear directive on currency manipulation, provided greater transparency and gave Congress greater oversight of the Administration’s trade negotiations.

Both Senators Baucus and Hatch and Congressman Camp called TPA a “vital tool” as the U.S. continues TPP negotiations as well as free trade TA agreement talks with the European Union (EU).   The National Association of Manufacturers and the National Retail Federation quickly got behind the proposal and urged Congress to quickly pass it

As mentioned in past posts, however, the Administration considers the TPP negotiations to be secret and has not released any official negotiating texts.  Thus opposition is growing in Congress.  In November 2013, a group of over 170 lawmakers in the House sent letters to the President saying they opposed fast-track authority because modern trade agreements affect so many policies under Congress’ purview, and it should have much larger role in shaping the terms of the Agreements.

Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, stated that he was developing alternative legislation

On January 10th, it was reported that with opposition growing in Congress and the upcoming midterm elections, President Obama was going to have to mount a very serious lobbying effort to move the TPA legislation through Congress.  The proposed TPA legislation has drawn strong opposition from labor unions, including the AFL-CIO, which vowed to “actively work to block its passage,” and also environmental groups like the Sierra Club and consumer advocacy groups like Public Citizen.  Many Congressmen and Senators, especially on the Republican side of the aisle, stated that moving the TPA bill through Congress would require a strong lobbying effort on the part of the Obama administration, possibly even including remarks about TPA in the 2014 State of the Union address.

Prospects for a fast-track bill moving forward in 2014 are further complicated by the Congressional elections in November.  The TPA Bill is a test of the administration’s influence and clout on Capitol Hill and right now the Administration’s clout on Capitol Hill is very weak.  The TPA fight is a fight over a number of different issues and the extent to which Congress can influence the negotiating process.

Typically multi-national corporations strongly back free-trade agreements. The Chamber of Commerce, which sometimes spends more than $100 million lobbying a year, and the Business Roundtable, were quick to put out statements supporting the legislation. Also weighing in was a coalition called Trade Benefits America, which includes companies ranging from General Electric Corp. to Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

On January 15th it was reported that President Obama could not find one Democratic Congressman in the House of Representatives to co-sponsor the TPA bill. Meanwhile, the bill’s main Democratic backer in the Senate, Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus, is retiring from the Senate and on his way out to be Ambassador to China, and key senior Democratic Senators on the committee, including Senator Wyden, its incoming chairman, say they either don’t support the bill or want to change it.

Democratic Reps. George Miller of California, Louise Slaughter of New York and Rosa DeLauro of Connecticut said of the proposed TPA Bill: “Our constituents did not send us to Washington to ship their jobs overseas, and Congress will not be a rubber stamp for another flawed trade deal that will hang the middle class out to dry.”

The free-trade push joins a growing list of policies Obama has championed that are unpopular with Democrats.  Both Republican and Democratic Members complained that the Obama administration’s outreach on trade has been disorganized.

Another Democratic complaint is that the negotiations for both trade deals are confidential and too far along for Congress to play a meaningful role in their outcome. Five influential Senate Democrats told U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman that they won’t support the trade promotion authority bill without assurances that Congress can hold U.S. trade negotiators “more accountable” during the talks, rather than after a deal is finished and lawmakers can only cast up-or-down votes.

For Republicans, Democrats used pro-trade votes to blast GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney and House Republicans in the Midwest states and elsewhere as supporters of outsourcing jobs.  According to one GOP leader in the House, given Obama’s political problems within his own party, House Republicans are insisting that Democrats deliver at least 50 votes in support of the bill, including at least one from the party’s leadership, before they’ll bring it to the floor.

On January 16, 2013, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on the TPA Bill and the TPP and TA negotiations, but USTR refused to send a witness.  Many industry witnesses did appear, however.  See http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=bd99ab08-5056-a032-523f-27ddae65e3d0 for a video of the hearing.  The failure of USTR to show up at the hearing illustrated the difficulty ahead for the TPP.

At the hearing in the attached statement LARRY COHEN TESTIMONY TPP DIFFICULTY Labor Leader Larry Cohen, President of the Communications Workers of America, a union, spoke against the TPP, stating:

 

“Free trade agreements have been devastating for our balance of trade. In 1993, the year before the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), our trade deficit in goods was -$132 billion or -1.9 percent of our GDP. By 2012, our trade deficit ballooned to -$741 billion or -4.6 percent of our GDP. The growth of our trade deficit to such levels has been a strong drag on our economy and especially in terms of jobs and wages.

And specific trade deals have been most at fault for the increased trade deficit. Here are three examples. In 1993, the U.S. had a trade surplus in goods with Mexico of $1.66 billion. By 1995, just one year after NAFTA, this had changed to a $15.8 billion deficit and by 2012 the deficit with Mexico had increased even further to $62 billion.

Allowing China into the WTO also has been disastrous. The U.S. had a trade deficit in goods with China of $83 billion in 2001 when China was admitted to the WTO. This deficit has ballooned to $315 billion in 2012. And for a most recent example, in just one year after the U.S.-Korea trade agreement took effect, our trade deficit in goods with South Korea increased by $5.5 billion or 46%.

Last year, our federal budget deficit was more than $680 billion. But our trade deficit in goods for 2012 was $741 billion. While a lot of attention in Congress and in Washington, DC has focused on the federal deficit, little attention has been focused on our trade deficit and its negative impact on our economy, jobs and wages. If we had trade deals that actually led to balanced trade, our economy would generate more than 3 million more jobs. Unfortunately, our current model for free trade agreements increases our trade deficits and reduces our employment. . . .

In the economy as a whole, average real weekly take home pay for a U.S. worker today is $637 compared to where it was 40 years ago at $731 a week — $100 less.  . . .

Trade agreements have become the new tool in the arsenal for the unfettered corporate attack on collective bargaining rights. With trade agreements, threats to offshore work and actually offshoring the work in highly unionized industries has increased. The result — the share of the private sector workforce protected by a collective bargaining agreement has declined from a high of 35.7 percent to just 6.6 percent today. This is another direct link cited by most economists as a factor in the rising inequality in our country today.  . . .

In telecommunications, we have seen the virtual elimination of telecom manufacturing equipment in the US, the elimination of a U.S. national company, and hundreds of thousands of lost jobs in that supply chain.  . . .

Many groups representing U.S. consumers are especially concerned with how trade agreements can be used to degrade our food safety protections. Allowing for Fast Track consideration of TPP would further jeopardize the safety of the food consumed in the U.S. Seafood standards in particular could be challenged through the TPP. The FDA has detained hundreds of seafood exports from TPP countries because they were contaminated. For example in Fiscal Year 2012, the FDA detained 206 imported seafood products from Vietnam alone because of concerns including salmonella, e-coli, methyl mercury, filth and residues from drugs that are banned in the U.S.  Currently the FDA is only able to inspect between 1-2 percent of our food imports.  The TPP, by greatly expanding our food imports (especially seafood) would result in an even lower percentage of inspections.  . . . .

Trade agreements are no longer just about tariffs and quotas – they are about the food we eat, the air we breathe, the jobs we hold. Congress needs to have an enhanced and enforceable role in this new era when massive trade agreements can cover so many policy issues. We cannot abdicate the legislative and policy formation process to the USTR and non-elected representatives. Or, we would argue that trade policy should commence with the Congress adopting policy priorities and the countries with whom we will negotiate. It’s clear that this is not what has happened.  . . .

For example, we are concerned that Vietnam has been chosen as a trade partner. In Vietnam which has a population of 90 million people, the minimum wage is $0.28 per hour and the average wage is $0.75 an hour. There is no right to free association or expression. Our own Department of Labor has placed garments made in Vietnam on the federal “Do Not Procure” list for documented use of forced child labor in apparel production.  Vietnam’s extremely low wages, non-existent workers’ rights, and extensive roster of human rights violations will only further exacerbate the already strong downward pressure on U.S. wages.  We should not enter into trade agreements with countries with such records. . . .

Shouldn’t this proposition of including countries with such abysmal records like Vietnams be debated? Shouldn’t the U.S. Congress determine if that approach is appropriate? Shouldn’t the US Trade Representative further consult with Congress as negotiations progress?  . . . .”

 

For more details, see also video on CWA website http://action.cwa-union.org/c/1372/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=7357

Yet at the same time, Senator Portman of Ohio, who was formerly USTR under President Bush, noted at the Senate Finance hearing that in terms of exports, in ranking of countries the US rates just above Ethiopia and that 40% of US exports were to countries that had signed trade agreements with the US.

After the hearing, Republicans, including House Speaker Boehner, and free trade Democrats urged President Obama to get more involved saying that the President has to become personally involved in pushing the TPA or the new Bill will simply not pass Congress.  As mentioned, in the House, President Obama faces the problem that not one Democratic Congressman is willing to co-sponsor a TPA Bill.

On January 16th, there were also reports that Congressional Democrats were very upset about the draft environmental provisions of the TPP that had been leaked by Wikileaks.  The draft environmental chapter of the TPP agreement and a report by negotiators from the 12 countries involved in the talks, show that the pact would fall short in enforcing the higher environmental standards of other recent U.S. trade deals. Those pacts threaten sanctions against trading partners that violate international agreements to protect endangered species, prevent overfishing and regulate chemicals that deplete the ozone layer.

Immediately, Sen. Bob Casey (D-Pa.), a member of the Senate Finance Committee, which oversees Trade, stated ““It’s of grave concern. It’s as if our negotiators, decade after decade, have to walk into the door and … say, ‘Yes, we have concerns about leveling the playing field on labor and environment protections,’ but by the end of it, we say, don’t worry about it.”

Although the United States is pushing for robust environmental provisions, apparently the 11 other countries are all opposed to more strict environmental standards.  The inability of the U.S. to secure its key environmental demands made it even more difficult for the TPA bill.

According to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.),” As more information about the Trans-Pacific Partnership being negotiated in secret is revealed, the more the public can see how clearly this potential agreement, which is unprecedented in scope, would not only lead to the outsourcing of jobs, but also harm American consumers and the environment.”   All of this did little to help Obama persuade liberal Democrats on the TPA Bill

On January 17, 2013, it was reported that progressive advocacy groups were ramping up efforts to oppose the TPP and TPA legislation urging their members to push their representatives in Congress to fight the trade policies.

The progressive-leaning Democracy for America sent an email to its members saying they should call their local congressional representatives and urge them to vote down a proposal that would grant trade promotion, or “fast-track,” authority to the Obama administration.

On Monday, January 27th, 550 labor, environmental and consumer advocacy groups, including the United Autoworkers, which provided President Obama critical support on previous trade pacts, such as the South Korea FTA, sent a letter to Congress urging them to reject the fast-track bill.

The email campaign comes two days after a dozen Senators, comprised of 11 Democrats and Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, wrote to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., expressing “deep concern” over the chance that trade promotion authority would be renewed.

JANUARY 28 — STATE OF THE UNION

In response to the Republicans call in Congress for the Administration to do more regarding the TPA bill, President Obama responded in his State of the Union pushing the TPA bill and TPP and the TA Agreements.  President Obama stated:

“We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment, and open new markets to new goods stamped “Made in the USA”.  Look China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines.  Neither should we.”

What was very interesting about this point is that in contrast to almost every other point made in the State of the Union, when President Obama spoke about Trade, the Republicans cheered, but the Democrats in President Obama’s own party were silent.

JANUARY 29TH—THE DAY FREE TRADE MAY HAVE DIED

But the next day, Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, the head Democrat in the Senate, came out against TPA, stating:

“Everyone knows how I feel about this.  Senator Baucus knows.  Senator Wyden knows.  The White House knows.  Everyone would be well-advised to not push this right now.”

As Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid controls the bills that are allowed on the Senate Floor.  With Senator Harry Reid’s opposition, the TPA bill is dead in the Congress, which means that the President’s trade agenda and his push for these agreements are also dead.  In an ironic point, this situation will probably only change if the Republicans take over the Senate in 2014.

The lawmakers opposed to the TPA Bill argue that in light of the top secret nature of the negotiations, multiparty trade deals go far beyond the scope of the smaller, typically single-nation trade accords that were done in the past.  These new multinational deals affect larger portions of the U.S. and global economies and touch on many policies under Congressional jurisdiction.  Congress, therefore, should have a greater say on trade deals beyond the ability to accept or reject them.

On January 29, 2014, David Bonior, a former Michigan Congressman, who voted for NAFTA, in an article entitled Obama’s Free-Trade Conundrum stated:

 

“But Mr. Obama’s desire for fast-track authority on the T.P.P. and other agreements clashes with another priority in his speech: reducing income inequality.

This month is the 20th anniversary of the North American Free Trade Agreement, which significantly eliminated tariffs and other trade barriers across the continent and has been used as a model for the T.P.P.  Anyone looking for evidence on what this new agreement will do to income inequality in America needs to consider Nafta’s 20-year record. . . .

The result is downward pressure on middle-class wages as manufacturing workers are forced to compete with imports made by poorly paid workers abroad. . . .The shift in employment from high-paying manufacturing jobs to low paying service jobs has contributed to overall wage stagnation. The average American wage has grown less than 1 percent annually in real terms since Nafta, even as productivity grew three times faster. . . .

The Nafta data poses a significant challenge for President Obama. As he said on Tuesday, he wants to battle the plague of income inequality and he wants to expand the Nafta model with T.P.P.  But he cannot have it both ways.”

 

In response to Senator Reid’s statement, it was reported that Sen. John Cornyn  (R., Texas.) stated “You can kiss any new trade deals goodbye. . . I think the majority leader’s focus is on the November elections and he doesn’t want to expose his vulnerable members to controversial votes.”

The latest developments come amid growing skepticism in Japan about the U.S.’s commitment to free trade. “It’s up to the resolve of the U.S. government,” Japan’s economy minister, Akira Amari, told reporters in Tokyo. “If the president comes to the negotiating table with a strong enough determination to wrap it up by spring, other countries will follow suit.”

Sen. Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) stated “I think there’s a lot of dubiousness in our caucus to fast track, given that every time we sign a free-trade agreement it seems other countries violate the rules and we don’t”.

Unions opposing the trade deals were happy with the outcome.   According to Larry Cohen, head of the Communications Workers of America, “For those of us who want to have a progressive trade agenda, it means that we’re encouraged.”

On January 30th, House Speaker John Boehner spoke out against President Obama suggesting that he needs to push Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get the TPA bill through Congress.

On February 3rd, President Obama met with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid but the President did not bring up the trade issue and made no effort at the meeting to change Senator Reid’s mind on the TPA bill.

On February 4th, it was reported that StopFastTrack.com, a new coalition opposed to the TPA bill and the TPP and TA Trade Agreements is building grassroots support, gathering more than a half a million signatures and making tens of thousands of calls to Senators and Congressmen lawmakers to argue against trade legislation in Congress.

According to the report, unions, environmental groups, and political organizations—working under the umbrella site —have nearly 600,000 supporters  and made more than 40,000 phone calls to Congress, opposing the trade measures.

Another political organization, Democracy for America, has obtained 125,000 electronic signatures on a petition requesting that Nancy Pelosi, top House Democrat, follow Senator Reid’s lead and stop the TPA bill in the House.

Many trade experts believe that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s decision not to bring the TPA bill to the Senate Floor casts substantial doubt over the negotiations for the TPP and the TA deals.  Most commentators are stating that all these Agreements are at risk right now.

White House press secretary Jay Carney stated on Wednesday, January 29th,

“Leader Reid has always been clear on his position on this particular issue.  As the President said in the State of the Union address, he will continue to work to enact bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers and environment and to open markets to new goods stamped ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ And we will not cede this important opportunity for American workers and businesses to our competitors.”

Harry Reid’s decision could be a critical tipping point in US trade policy as the US becomes more and more protectionist.  It took a President Bill Clinton with his tremendous political ability to persuade Democratic Senators and Congressmen “to do the right thing” on NAFTA and enact it into law.  But President Obama is not Bill Clinton.

DOHA ROUND-BALI

As mentioned in the last newsletter, much to the surprise of many Government officials and companies, in December the WTO round in Bali resulted in all the WTO countries agreeing to Trade Facilitation Agreement to modernize customs procedures, as well as provisions on agriculture and economic development.  If there had been no Agreement in Bali, it could very well have meant the end of the multilateral effort to lower trade barriers through negotiations.

On January 7, 2014 WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo stated:

“Just six weeks ago, the fate of the multilateral trading system hung in the balance. Today, we can talk with confidence about how we can continue to develop and strengthen the system for the future.”

According to Azevedo, the Bali Trade Facilitation Agreement could possibly add as much as $1 trillion to the world’s economy each year.

The question now is what happens in the future.  Most experts believe that the WTO members will in the short term pursue agreements that affect only certain sectors or include only some countries.  Thus, there will probably be sector-by-sector trade negotiations at the WTO.

Agreements affecting trade of environmental goods and services might be one of the likely near-term targets.  But the Trade Facilitation Agreement still must be implemented as the details have to be ironed out, including Customs procedures in developing countries and other issues.  Implementation also means the Agreement must go through Congress and without TPA, it will be difficult for Bali Agreement to get through Congress.

Azevedo himself realizes the problems stating, “The task of strengthening the multilateral system and moving towards delivering on the[Doha Development Agenda] will be difficult, but it is not impossible.”

SOLAR PRODUCTS—NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE TO CLOSE THIRD COUNTRY LOOPHOLE AND AGAINST CHINA AND TAIWAN–QUANTITY AND VALUE QUESTIONNAIRE DUE FEBRUARY 13TH AT COMMERCE

Commerce has issued a quantity and value questionnaire in the new Solar Products/Modules/Panels antidumping case/initial investigation against China.  The deadline for the response to the Quantity and Value Questionnaire is February 13, 2014.

Attached are the quantity and value questionnaire and the fact sheet that was issued by Commerce. factsheet-multiple-solar-products-initiation-012313   prc-qv-solar-products-012714

The quantity and value questionnaire requires the Chinese exporter to report all sales during the period April 1, 2013 to September 30, 2013.  Specifically, Commerce is requiring the Chinese exporter to report the total number of modules, panels or laminates during that period, the total number of megawatts, the terms of sale and the total value of sales.

A Chinese exporter/producer must submit a response to this quantity and value questionnaire by February 13th.  If not, it will receive the highest dumping rate of 165%.

SOLAR CELLS REVIEW INVESTIGATION

To further complicate the Solar case, on February 3rd Commerce published in the attached Federal Register notice initiating the first Solar Cells review investigation.  This case will cover imports of Chinese solar cells during the review period.

So to be clear, the Solar Cells Review Investigation covers Chinese solar cells.  The Solar Products new investigation covers imports of Chinese modules and panels with Taiwan and other solar cells in them.

For the first Solar Cells Review Investigation, attached are the notice, in which many Chinese companies are named, and the Quantity and Value questionnaire.  Solar Cells AD CVD Initiation Notice 1st Review (2) SOLAR CELLS REVIEW QV Chinese companies named in the Solar Cells Review investigation need to file the QV questionnaire response on February 19th .   Chinese companies also need to file separate rate applications or certifications on or before April 4, 2014 at Commerce in first review investigation to keep their separate rate from the Solar Cells initial investigation.  Failure to file these documents meand that imports of Chinese solar cells will be assessed a rate of 250%.

Solar Trade problems with China are getting complicated.

SOLAR PRODUCTS INITIAL INVESTIGATION

As mentioned in my last post, on December 31, 2013, Solar World filed another antidumping and countervailing duty petition to close the third country loophole against China and Taiwan.

On January 23rd, the Commerce Department initiated the Solar Products cases against China and Taiwan, but it made some changes.  The Scope of the Merchandise, the specific products covered by the new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, are described in the attached notice and petition:

“The merchandise covered by this investigation is crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, and modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including building integrated materials. For purposes of this investigation, subject merchandise also includes modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells completed or partially manufactured within a customs territory other than that subject country, using ingots, wafers, or partially manufactured cells sourced from the subject country. . . .”

See the injury petition in my last post on this blog.

In the subsequent Commerce Department initiation notice, which is attached, however, in contrast to the petition, solar consumer products are specifically excluded:

“Also excluded from the scope of this investigation are crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, not exceeding 10,000mm2 in surface area, that are permanently integrated into a consumer good whose function is other than power generation and that consumes the electricity generated by the integrated crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell. Where more than one cell is permanently integrated into a consumer good, the surface area for purposes of this exclusion shall be the total combined surface area of all cells that are integrated into the consumer good.”

Initiation Notice – Certain Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products 1-24-14

In addition, Commerce reduced the All Others/Facts available rate in the China case from 298% to 165%, but raised the antidumping rate for Taiwan to 75.68% from 39%.  The trade volume is large.  According to Commerce, imports of the subject merchandise from China and Taiwan were valued at $2.1 billion and $513.5 million, respectively.

If Chinese companies are exporting and US importers are importing Chinese modules and panels with Taiwan or other solar cells in them, this option will be closed in 150 to 210 days, when the Commerce Department’s preliminary determinations are due on May 30, 2014 (CVD) and July 29, 2014 (AD).  Commerce Department investigations almost always are extended out to the full time.

Chinese companies also must submit their response to the quantity and value questionnaire by February 13th and be prepared to submit separate rate applications in this new antidumping case to get the average rate.

On January 22nd, the day after the Government was closed, the ITC held a preliminary conference.  The Commission’s preliminary injury determination is due February 14th.

Meanwhile, many trade lawyers have come to the same conclusion that when the scope in the past case and the present case are combined, the only way for US importers to escape liability is to have the underlying solar cells, modules and panels all made outside of China and Taiwan.  In effect, the entire chain of production would have to occur outside of China and Taiwan, which will have the effect of driving up the cost of business for major segments of the U.S. solar industry that need solar components, such as utility-scale solar project developers, rooftop solar companies and public utilities.

The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has announced that it is opposed to the case, calling it an “escalation” of the U.S.-China solar trade conflict.  Experts also stated that the duties could cripple the end user portion of the solar Industry, which is far larger than the domestic production industry.  As the SEIA stated, “From past experiences, we have learned that a conflict within one segment of the solar industry ripples across the entire solar supply chain.”

The market pressure driving solar prices downward is not caused by dumping, but the industry’s efforts to achieve so-called grid parity, where the price for solar power is comparable to that for traditional-source power.  But prices for US oil and natural gas are falling fast.  With falling costs for traditional forms of energy, it is very difficult for solar energy to be competitive.

The effect of this case, however, will be to drive up the costs of solar products,

Although the SEIA and some members of Congress have called for a settlement of the solar trade dispute, Solar World has expressed skepticism about such a deal, making it more difficult to conclude a government to government deal settling the case.  As mentioned in a prior post, there is no public interest standard in US antidumping and countervailing duty law, as compared to EC, Canada and China.  Also End Users have no standing in US antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  Thus it is difficult for the US Government to pressure Solar World to drop its case.

Meanwhile, as indicated below, the Chinese government has retaliated by finalizing antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of polysilicon from the US, shutting all US produced polysilicon, close to $2 billion, out of China.  Since last year U.S. polysilicon exporters have faced preliminary CVD duties in China of 6.5 percent, and AD duties of 53.3 to 57 percent and those duties are now final.

On January 26th, MOFCOM announced that it was delaying these duties for the moment and on January 30th called for negotiations over the Solar Cells/Products Antidumping and Countervailing duty cases stating:

 

“The two parties should follow the trend and make efforts to promote cooperation proceeding from the overall interests of clean energy development, so as to ensure the steady development, rather than restricting competition and cooperation by frequently taking trade remedy measures. It is proved that, that U.S. initiated investigations and levy high anti-dumping and countervailing duties in 2011 not only failed to change the situation of poor operation and lacking of competitiveness of its domestic industries, resulting in significant negative impacts on downstream industries including the assembly industry and services sector, but also triggered a worldwide chain reaction of trade disputes on PV products, which caused chaos in the whole industry.  . . .”

 

See attached statement MOFCOM STATEMENT

CURTAIN WALL UNITS ARE COVERED BY THE ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CASE

On January 30, 2014, in Shenyang Yuanda Aluminum Industry Engineering Co. v. United States, Judge Eaton in the Court of International Trade affirmed the Commerce Department’s determination that Curtain Wall Units, the sides of buildings, are with the scope of the AD and CVD orders on aluminum extrusions from China.  The Court stated in part;

“Because curtain wall units are “parts for” a finished curtain wall, the court’s primary holding is that curtain wall units and other parts of curtain wall systems fall within the scope of the Orders.”

See the attached decision.  SHENYANG YUANDA

As a result of the Court’s and the Commerce Department’s determination, the sides of buildings from China are now covered by US antidumping and countervailing duty orders with duties as high as over 100 to 300% for certain imports.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AGAINST CHINA

WIRE ROD

On January 31, 2014, a new antidumping and countervailing duty case was filed against carbon steel wire rod from China.  See notice below.

Docket No: 3000

Document Type: 701 & 731 Petition

Filed By: Kathleen Cannon

Firm/Org: Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

Behalf Of: ArceloMittal USA LLC, Charter Steel, Evraz Rocky Mountain Steel, Gerdau Ameristeel US Inc., and Keystone Consolidated Industries Inc, and Nucor Corporation.

Date Received: January 31, 2014

Confidential: Yes

Commodity: Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod

Country: People’s Republic of China

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting the Commission to conduct an investigation under sections 701 and 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the imposition of countervailing and antidumping duties on Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod from the People’s Republic of China.

Status: 701-TA-512 & 731-TA-1248

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS

In February Chinese producers and exporters, US importers and US producers have the opportunity to request an antidumping and/or countervailing duty review investigation of certain outstanding AD and CVD orders by filing a review request at Commerce by the last day of February for the following cases against China :

Period of review ————————————————————————              Antidumping Duty Proceedings

The People’s Republic of China:

Certain Preserved Mushrooms, A-570-851………..     2/1/13-1/31/14

Folding Metal Tables and Chairs \2\, A-570-868…     6/1/12-11/5/12

Frozen Warmwater Shrimp, A-570-893……………     2/1/13-1/31/14

Heavy Forged Hand Tools, With or Without Handles,     2/1/13-1/31/14      A-570-803…………………………………

Small Diameter Graphite Electrodes, A-570-929….     2/1/13-1/31/14

Uncovered Innerspring Units, A-570-928………..     2/1/13-1/31/14

Utility Scale Wind Towers, A-570-981………….    2/13/13-1/31/13

Countervailing Duty Proceedings

The People’s Republic of China:

Utility Scale Wind      2/13/13-12/31/13  Towers, C-570-982.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

As mentioned in prior posts, we are working with APCO, a well-known lobbying/government relations firm in Washington DC, on establishing a US importers/end users lobbying coalition to lobby against the expansion of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws against China.

On September 18, 2013, ten US Importers agreed to form the Import Alliance for America. The objective of the Coalition will be to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.

We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The United States is the only country that has retroactive liability for its importers in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries. We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.

We are now contacting many US importers and also Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they interested in participating in the Alliance. Changes to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law against China can only happen because of a push by US importers and end user companies. In US politics, only squeaky wheels get the grease.

In forthcoming posts we will provide additional information about the Alliance and specific meeting days in different areas of the United States.

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE

POLYSILICON

On January 20, 2014, China issued final antidumping and countervailing duties against solar-grade polysilicon imported from the U.S.  Under the Chinese polysilicon antidumping duty order, US companies face dumping rates ranging from 53% to 57%.  On the Countervailing Duty side, US companies face rates from 0 to 2.1%.

On January 26, 2014, MOFCOM announced that given “the special market conditions” it has decided not to carry out antidumping and anti-subsidy measures for the moment.  Apparently, MOFCOM is hoping for a negotiated suspension agreement in the new Solar Products case.

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

CHINESE CHICKEN

On December 19, 2013, fourteen Congressmen circulated a letter in Congress asking their Congressional colleagues to ensure Chinese-processed chicken is kept out of the school lunch and other child nutrition programs. The letter also states that chicken slaughtered in China should be banned from the US market.  The letter states:

“It is because we are deeply concerned about the safety of the food served to the American people, especially our children, that we write to express our serious apprehension about the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) recent decision to allow China to process chicken raised in the United States, as well as Canada and Chile, to then export to the United States. Furthermore, we believe FSIS is likely to eventually allow China to export its own raw poultry to the United States.”

CHINA CHICKEN PROBLEM CONG LETTER

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA

On December 5th, the Washington State Government reported that on December 3rd the Chinese government announced that it was banning all imports of molluscan shellfish from North America area #67, which includes all harvest areas in Alaska, Washington, Oregon, and northern California. China reported a shipment of geoduck clams tested high in paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) and arsenic.  See my past post on this blog for more on this fight and the attached announcement.

The ban has already devastated shellfish growers in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California.  It also affects clams, oysters and other shellfish from U.S. waters.

China is the world’s largest importer of geoducks (pronounced “gooey duck”), with more than half of all the harvest from Washington, British Columbia and Alaska getting shipped to China. With China cut off, there are few places for the harvest to go.

Test results showed that, on average, arsenic was present in the geoduck bodies at a level of 0.327 parts per million (ppm), which falls below China’s legal limit of 0.5 ppm. Arsenic in the actual meat of the geoducks registered at 0.063 ppm, eight times lower than the limit.

On January 9th it was reported that Laboratory tests on Washington State’s exports of geoduck clams, found no evidence of unsafe or excessive levels of arsenic.  Although the test results have been sent to China, to date they have not yet received a response, and the ban remains in place.

The problem, however, arises from US export forms for the geoduck shipment.  The form does not allow for more specificity in identifying the source from which the shellfish were harvested.  While the problem shipments of shellfish came from isolated areas in Washington and Alaska, “Area 67″ encompasses all the coastal regions from Northern California through Alaska’s Pacific Coast. As a result, Chinese authorities were forced to ban shellfish from all of Area 67.

National shellfish programs provide forms that set forth specific shippers and harvest locations, which allow the governmental authorities to easily trace shipments back to specific shippers and harvest locations. If there’s a contamination problem domestically, shellfish growers can easily isolate the problem instead of shutting down the entire industry.

The World Health Organization is said to be considering setting safe levels for
inorganic arsenic in food in the .2-.3 ppm range in 2014. The Washington geoduck claims that tested high for inorganic arsenic in China, however, were harvested from a tract of land managed by the Department of Natural Resources that has since been closed. The tract is within the shadow of a copper smelter that was operated near Tacoma for 100 years.   According to Marian Abbett, manager of the Tacoma smelter clean up for the Washington Department of Ecology, “Well we know that arsenic levels are elevated in the surface soils in that area.  Soil samples from the surrounding land show levels of arsenic between 40 and 200 ppm, though that number does not directly equate to levels of arsenic that will end up in the water, or in shellfish.”

The area was closed to all shellfish harvest until 2007, when the Puyallup Tribe petitioned state agencies to reopen the tract for geoduck harvest. At that time the Department of Health conducted tests on geoduck in the area and found levels of .05 ppm. That’s an order of magnitude below the amount found by the Chinese in October of 2013 and well within the safety parameters set by the Chinese.

However, state agencies have not tested for inorganic arsenic or other metals in shellfish from the area since it was reopened in 2007.

Arsenic is a carcinogen that has also been associated with long-term respiratory effects, disruption of immune system function, cardiovascular effects, diabetes and neurodevelopmental problems in kids.

“There’s no safe level, but at some point you’ve crossed the threshold to being really dangerous and we don’t quite know where that threshold is at this point,” Cottingham said.

But the ban is having a real effect on fishermen in Washington State.  Ninety percent of the geoduck harvested in Washington is sold to China and Hong Kong.

The clams can fetch up to $150 per pound in China, but today the Suquamish tribe is losing $20,000 each day that the ban is in place, but the impacts of the ban are being felt well beyond the reservation. John Jones, another Suquamish diver, stated, “My brothers are from Port Gamble and they’re out of work.  They shut down diving everywhere, not just for us but for the state.”

Although British Columbia in Canada is not affected, the Chinese ban impacts all shellfish throughout Puget Sound, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California.  The shellfish industry in Washington is worth $270 million annually, and China is the biggest market for exports.

This is the broadest shellfish ban China has ever put in place, but it’s not the first time China has banned a major import from the U.S.  Beef imports from the U.S. have been banned for the past ten years. More recently, China rejected about half a million tons of U.S. corn because it contained a genetically modified strain.

Chinese officials have been slow to reveal details of their shellfish testing methods. That’s prompted some to raise concerns about political motivations behind the shellfish ban.

Although there is a possibility that the Chinese are retaliating for past problems with food imports in the US, there is strong evidence that the Chinese have a legitimate problem.  The contaminated geoduck clams were harvested near the former site of a copper smelter in Tacoma, which had leached arsenic into the surrounding area.

Again Chinese problems with US shellfish must be kept in context.  As indicated above, US Congressmen want to ban all chicken processed in China.  Because of US antidumping laws, all Chinese imports of honey, garlic, mushrooms, crawfish and shrimp have been greatly curtailed.  Some of the antidumping orders against Chinese agricultural products have been in place for more than 10 to 20 years.

In addition, the US government has been particularly tough on imports of Chinese honey, mushrooms, garlic and other agricultural products because of pesticide contamination, banning all imports of certain products during specific periods of time.

With the US government so tough on imports of agricultural and seafood products from China, US exporters of agricultural and seafood products should expect the Chinese government to be just as tough on US exports to China.

Trade is a two way street and what goes around comes around.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

INTERDIGITAL SETTLES 337 PATENT CASE WITH HUAWEI

On January 2, 2014, InterDigital Communications Inc. and Huawei Technologies filed a confidential settlement of their 337 patent case over 3G and 4G wireless devices.  Huawei’s antitrust strategy seems to have worked.

CHINESE COMPANY LOOSES 337 RESINS TRADE SECRET CASE

On January 15, 2014, in Certain Rubber Resins and Processes for Manufacturing Same, Investigation No. 337-TA-849, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) determined that there was a violation of section 337, 19 USC 1337, because a Chinese chemical maker and other companies had stolen trade secrets covering the recipe for rubber resins held by New York company, Sl Group Inc.  The Commission issued a limited exclusion order for 10-years excluding infringing imports of the Chinese resins into the United States from Sino Legend (Zhangjiagang) Chemical Co. Ltd. and the other named respondent companies in the case.

According to the 337 complaint, although SL Group had closely guarded the formula and the equipment used to create the resin, the manager of Sl Group’s Shanghai chemical plant defected to Sino Legend in 2007 and took the design with him.

The ITC’s ruling is directly contrary to the ruling of a Chinese court, which reached the opposite conclusion and found that there was no misappropriation.  After acquiring the trade secret, Sino Legend has been able to take over about 70% of the Chinese market for the rubber resins in question, which are used in tire production.

In response to the ruling, Sino Legend has stated that the Commission’s ruling will not substantially affect its business because the ITC’s ruling will allow its customers to use all Sino Legend resins in any of their non-U.S. production facilities, and then import those products into the U.S. without restriction.

DUPONT TRADE SECRETS CASE — TITANIUM DIOXIDE

In an ongoing criminal trial in California this month, prosecutors described how an ex-DuPont engineer and two conspirators stole DuPont trade secrets regarding a specific process to produce very high quality titanium dioxide, and sold the designs to Chinese state owned companies earning $28 million.

Chinese-American Walter Liew and his wife, Christina, founded multiple companies in Northern California and hired as a consultant ex-DuPont engineer Robert Maegerle, who knew the process of safely producing massive amounts of titanium dioxide.  Maegerle allegedly shared what he learned building plants for DuPont with the Liews, who used the information to negotiate contracts with Chinese companies, including Pangang Group Co., to build titanium-dioxide-making factories in China. However, both Maegerle and Walter Liew knew Dupont had patented that information and it was confidential.

Titanium dioxide is a white pigment used in everything from iPhone cases to toothpaste.  But it is hot, dirty and dangerous and DuPont figured out a way to make the product commercially viable.  According to the prosecutor, that process is what the Chinese companies wanted.

Maegerle is charged with trade-secrets theft, conspiracy and obstruction of justice.  Christina Liew faces charges of economic espionage, trade-secret theft, and tampering with witnesses and evidence in a separate trial.

Lawyers for the defendants argued that they did not copy DuPont’s factory plans verbatim, but used them as the basis to design around and develop their own production techniques for producing titanium dioxide.

Later in the trial, however, a government expert testified that Dupont fiercely guarded its trade secrets for making high-quality titanium dioxide and that the trade secrets made Dupont the envy of the industry.

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI, ZTE, AND OTHER COMPANIES

On December 31, 2013, Laserdynamics filed a patent case against Haier. HAIER PATENT CASE

On January 7, 2014, Bluebonnet Telecommunications filed patent cases against ZTE and Huawei. BLUEBONNETZTE HUAWEI BLUEBONNET

On January 7, 2014, Toyo Tire and Rubber filed a patent case against South China Tire and Rubber Co. TOYO TIRE CASE

On January 10, 2014, Personal Audio filed a patent case against Huawei and ZTE. PERSONAL AUDIO HUAWEI ZTE

On January 10, 2014, Thomas & Betts filed a trademark, unfair competition, case against Zhejiang Shengyu City Fengfan Electrical Fittings Co. TRADEMARK WRENCH ZHEJIANG

On January 13, 2014, Laerdahl Medical filed a patent case against Shanghai Honglian Medical Instrument Development Co. SHANGHAI MEDICAL

On January 13, 2014, ICON Health and Fitness filed a trademark case against Zhongshan Camry Electronics Co. ZHONGSHAN TRADEMARK

On January 14, 2014, Kee Action Sports filed a patent case against Shyang Huei Industrial Co., a Taiwan company. TAIWAN SUN

On January 14, 2014 Toyo Tire and Rubber filed a patent case against Hong Kong Tri-Ace Tire Co and Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre Co. TOYO DONG FENG

On January 16, 2014, Touchscreen Gestures filed patent cases against Huawei and ZTE. TOUCHSCREEN ZTE TOUCHSCREEN HUAWEI

On January 29, 2014, Standard Fiber filed a trade secret case against Shanghai Tianan Home Co, Teetex, LLC, and Anwen “Alvin” Li. SHANGHAI TRADE SECRET

Complaints are posted above.

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C CASE

As mentioned in my last post, the Vitamin C antitrust case against Chinese Vitamin C companies is wrapping up at the District Court level.  Attached is the final judgment with a $153 million judgment against Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Hebei”) and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. (“NCPGC”) for price fixing.  In addition, the judgment has increased by $4 million, specifically $4,093,163.35, to $158 million, specifically $158,203,163.35, to pay the Plaintiffs’ legal fees. FINAL AMENDED JUDGMENT VITAMIN C CASE

Hebei Welcome has announced that it is appealing the Court’s final judgment and has also switched US law firms and hired new counsel.

JUSTICE IS GETTING TOUGHER ON INTERNATIONAL CARTELS DEMANDING JAIL TIME FOR FOREIGN EXECUTIVES

There are reports that in 2013 and now 2014 the Justice Department has ramped up its enforcement in international cartels/price fixing antitrust cases looking for more prison sentences for foreign executives involved in these cartels.

On January 30th, Bill Baer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division gave the attached speech to the New York State Bar Association in which he described in detail international antitrust enforcement, including increased enforcement of antitrust cases against international cartels, and the DOJ’s increased cooperation with Chinese antitrust authorities.  BILL BAER DOJ STATEMENT ANTITRUST ENFORCEMENT The Assistant Attorney General stated:

 

“With those preliminary observations in mind, let me focus on the progress antitrust enforcement has made these last five years. President Obama promised during his first campaign that his administration would vigorously enforce the antitrust laws.  He pledged to “step up review of merger activity,” “take aggressive action to curb the growth of international cartels,” and ‘ensure that the benefits of competition are fully realized by consumers.’

“I think the record shows the Antitrust Division has followed through on the President’s pledge. Criminal enforcement provides an excellent starting point. We continue to vigorously pursue and prosecute international and domestic cartels. Since January 2009, we have filed 339 criminal cases, a more than 60 percent increase over the prior five years. We secured $4.2 billion in criminal fines in that period. . . .

Effective cartel enforcement requires holding accountable both corporations and the senior executives who orchestrate their unlawful conduct. We have charged 109 corporations with criminal antitrust violations since 2009. We have ensured that those corporations have paid appropriate—and stiff—criminal fines, and those 109 corporations together have paid the highest five-year fine total in division history. The division also charged 311 individuals with antitrust crimes during the past five years.

Experience teaches that the threat of prison time is the most effective deterrent against criminal antitrust violations. We seek sentences commensurate with the economic harm caused by the perpetrators. The statistics show that the courts are embracing the effort to hold company executives accountable for their bad behavior. The average prison sentence in our cases has increased from 20 months in the period 2000-09 to 25 months during the years 2010-2013. Of course, we can never know for certain the full deterrent effect of our enforcement efforts. But we do know that self-reporting under our leniency program remains at high levels and that, increasingly, non-U.S. companies are reporting anticompetitive behavior. They are responding to the fact we are prosecuting off-shore conduct with a U.S. impact. In recent years the number of foreign nationals sentenced to U.S. incarceration has increased threefold. The message should be clear: the division will vigorously and successfully prosecute international cartel behavior that harms U.S. consumers regardless of where that conduct takes place. . . .

The division has brought criminal cases in a range of industries over the past several years. One of our most significant ongoing investigations involves the auto parts industry. We are prosecuting price fixing and bid rigging involving a number of parts that were installed in cars sold in the U.S., including wire harnesses, instrument panel clusters, and seatbelts.  . . .

To date, we have charged 24 companies and 26 executives with participating in multiple international conspiracies, and those numbers are sure to grow as the investigation continues.   These charges have resulted in $1.8 billion in criminal fines, including the third-largest criminal antitrust fine ever.   Of the 26 executives charged so far, 20 have been sentenced to serve time in U.S. prisons or have entered into plea agreements requiring significant sentences.

During the past several years, the division also prosecuted international price-fixing conspiracies involving liquid crystal display panels. These conspiracies hurt U.S. consumers by dramatically inflating prices for computer monitors, notebook computers, and televisions, among other products. In 2012, the division secured convictions of Taiwan-based AU Optronics, its subsidiary, AU Optronics Corp. America, and three former top executives for their participation in such a conspiracy.   The trial against AU Optronics was the first time the division proceeded under the alternative fine statute, 18 U.S.C. § 1571, which allows for fines up to two times the gain or loss resulting from the conduct. The division proved beyond a reasonable doubt to the jury that the combined gains to the participants in the conspiracy were $500 million or more and that the defendants’ conduct accordingly merited a fine exceeding the Sherman Act’s $100 million maximum.   . . .

There is more to come.  . . . There can be little doubt that the division vigorously prosecutes wrongdoers. . . .

During the Obama administration U.S. enforcers have broken new ground in relations with China and India. In the past few years, the division and the FTC have entered into Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) with the Chinese and Indian enforcement agencies.  These MOUs have led to annual bi-lateral meetings between the U.S. antitrust enforcement agencies and agencies from these nations.  Indeed, earlier this month, I attended with Chairwoman Ramirez a bi-lateral meeting with the Chinese authorities in Beijing. We see candid engagement with the Chinese and Indian agencies as important, and we look forward to increased cooperation in the coming years.

Cooperation also plays an important role in our international criminal cartel investigations. Working with competition enforcers in non-U.S. jurisdictions, we share information where we are able; and we can plan coordinated raids around the world, reducing the opportunity for key evidence to go missing or be destroyed. . . .”

 

When foreign corporate executives are found to be guilty of engaging in a cartel to set prices, this is considered a crime of moral turpitude and the foreign executive is barred from entering the US for a minimum of 15 years.  Under a memorandum of understanding between Justice and Immigration and Naturalization Services (“INS”), now Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”), if the foreign executive pleads guilty and cooperates with authorities, that executive can be exempted from the 15 year exclusion and continue to enter the US.  Antitrust criminal defense attorneys have argued that this exemption is unfair because it places unfair pressure on the foreign executive to forgo their right to trial.

On January 24, 2014, in response to questions from Congress on this issue, Assistant Attorney General Baer stated in the attached response:

 

“In general, moral turpitude has been held to be conduct that is inherently dishonest and contrary to accepted rules of morality and the duties owed between persons or to society in general. Tax fraud, mail fraud, securities fraud, and theft offenses, for example, have been held to be crimes of moral turpitude. Similarly, price-fixing, bid-rigging, and market allocation agreements among companies that hold themselves out to the public as competitors are inherently deceptive and defraud consumers who expect the benefits of competition. Thus, the division’s Memorandum of Understanding (“MOU”) with INS states that INS, now the Department of Homeland Security as successor to INS, considers criminal antitrust offenses to be crimes involving moral turpitude, which may subject an alien defendant to exclusion or deportation.

However, an alien defendant who is convicted of an antitrust offense at trial retains the ability to contest his removability from the United States.

In today’s global marketplace, many culpable executives involved in international cartels affecting U.S. consumers and commerce are foreign nationals. They may live and work outside the U.S., but their cartel conduct affects billions of dollars of U.S. commerce yearly and takes money out of consumers’ pockets. The MOU was drafted in order to allow the Antitrust Division to secure jurisdiction over and cooperation of these foreign nationals in the division’s investigations and prosecutions of international cartels and to hold these foreign nationals accountable for antitrust crimes, just as domestic defendants are held accountable.

The cooperation of defendants receiving immigration relief under the MOU is critical to the division’s ability to investigate and prosecute international cartel activity. A foreign defendant’s willingness to cooperate with the division provides the basis for the waiver of inadmissibility under the MOU, and fulfilling the continuing cooperation requirements with the division is a condition of a defendant’s retention of the waiver. Having cooperating witnesses from multiple companies is essential to fully investigate cartels and to hold responsible individuals at each corporate conspirator accountable.

Moreover, having defendants who have pleaded guilty is important at Antitrust Division trials. Extending the MOU waiver to noncooperating defendants would undermine the incentives provided by the MOU and be unjust to those foreign nationals who are willing to accept responsibility for their criminal conduct, submit to U.S. jurisdiction, cooperate with the division, and serve time in U.S. prison. It would also be unworkable to require pleading foreign defendants to continue their cooperation to maintain the waiver while at the same time giving the MOU waiver to non-pleading defendants who have not accepted responsibility and fully cooperated with the division.”

BAER STATEMENTS TO CONGRESS

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

On January 28, 2014, there was a report out of China that Qualcomm is facing a record antitrust fine of $1 billion in an antitrust case from the NDRC.  China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) is becoming an increasingly aggressive regulator and is focusing on information technology providers, especially companies that license patent technology for mobile devices and networks.

Apparently, the NDRC is trying to lower domestic costs as China rolls out its faster 4G mobile networks this year.  US -based Qualcomm is scheduled to obtain the vast majority of licensing fees for the chip sets used by handsets in China, the world’s biggest smartphone market in the World.

Under the Chinese antimonopoly law, the NDRC can impose fines of between 1 and 10 percent of a company’s revenues for the previous year.  Qualcomm reportedly earned $12.3 billion in China for its fiscal year ended September 29, or nearly half of its global sales.

Qualcomm is no stranger to substantial fines.  In 2009, South Korea’s Fair Trade Commission fined the company 273 billion won ($252 million), the highest Korean penalty ever against a single company, for abusing its dominant position in CDMA modem chips which were then used in handsets manufactured in Korea.

SECURITIES

SEC DROPS CHINESE AUDIT CASE AGAINST DELOITTE

On January 27th the SEC told the Federal Court that it was dropping its case against Deloitte for failure to turn over audit documents of a Chinese technology company.  The SEC stated that Deloitte was supplying the audit papers to the China Securities Regulatory Commission, which, in turn, was supplying the records to the SEC.

The dismissal of the case, however, will not affect a separate SEC action against the Chinese offices of the Big Four accounting firms for refusing to reveal client documents to the SEC.  An SEC administrative law judge recently ruled that the China based offices are barred from auditing companies that do business in the U.S.

JURY CLEARS CHINESE INVESTMENT ADVISOR SIMING YANG

On January 13th, a jury in the Federal District Court found Chinese investment adviser Siming Yang not guilty on insider trading claims brought by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”), but did find Yang guilty for other violations, including making false disclosures to the regulator.

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICE ACT–CORRUPTION ISSUES IN CHINA FOR FOREIGN COMPANIES

On February 4th, Carl Hinze in Dorsey’s Shanghai office published the attached article “Doing business in and with China: Battling a corruption culture by building a compliance culture”.

HINZE ARTICLE FCPA

COMPLAINTS

On January 10, 2014, Deborah Donoghue filed the attached securities case against Secure alert, Short Swing Profits, which are all owned by Sapinda Asia and Lars Windhorst, a Hong Kong Company, for short swing profits. SAPINDA HK

If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR DEVELOPMENTS–TRADE, FALSE CLAIMS ACT, PATENTS, US/CHINESE ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

US Capital Pennsylvania Avenue After the Snow Washington DCANNOUNCEMENT

On December 3, 2013, former Congressman Don Bonker of APCO and I will be speaking in Vancouver, Canada at a breakfast conference held by the American Chamber of Commerce on “The Trans-Pacific Partnership Demystified: A Discussion of Trade Opportunities for American and Canadian  Businesses”.

Attached is a copy of the Speech announcement.  AMCHAM – Dec 3 TPP Event – INVITE (2)  Hope to see some of you in Vancouver, Canada. 

Dear Friends,

There have been some major developments in the trade, False Claims Act, Customs fraud, patents, antitrust, Chinese antitrust and securities areas.

The big news is that after two and a half weeks, on October 17, 2013, the US Government reopened. As a result of the shutdown, in most trade cases, the Commerce Department and the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) have tolled, pushed up, all deadlines in trade investigations and review investigations, by the number of days that the Government was shutdown.  Attached are  a Commerce Department and an ITC memo announcing their decisions to toll all deadlines in antidumping and countervailing duty and other trade cases by 16 days, which are the days the US government was shut down.  COMMERCE TOLLING MEMO  ITC TOLLING DEADLINES

TRADE

SOLAR CELLS—SETTLEMENT AND THIRD COUNTRY CELLS LOOPHOLE

Apparently, negotiations between the US and China in the Solar Cells case have slowed down because of the US government shutdown. Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Commerce is continuing to press Chinese exporters of solar panels to demonstrate that their products fall outside of existing antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) orders by proving that they contain  solar cells in Chinese panels and modules that are produced in third countries.

The Commerce Department has not launched a formal circumvention inquiry, but it has issued 3 to 4 questionnaires, and Chinese solar companies, Wuxi Suntech, Renesola, Yingli, LDK and Trina have responded.  Commerce has requested extensive documentation from the Chinese companies to prove not only that the solar cells are sourced from outside of China, but actually to trace those cells through their foreign production to insertion into Chinese modules and panels and then exported to the United States.  Not only is Commerce requesting the documents, we also have reports that Customs is requiring similar documents to prove that the solar cells were actually produced outside of China.

Although Chinese companies and US importers are not happy with the volume of documents requested by Commerce, in its final determination in the initial investigation, Commerce indicated that it would require importers to certify and then prove that the imported solar cells are actually produced outside of China.  Commerce has gone so far as to request that Chinese firms submit computer screenshots – or image captures of their computer  monitor – showing how they track sales and receipts of their inventory through their accounting system. Commerce  officials routinely print out screenshots from companies’ systems when they conduct on-site verifications of their claims during investigations.

Solar cells produced in countries like Taiwan and Malaysia fall outside the scope of the trade remedy orders imposed  by Commerce, even if they are assembled into panels and shipped by companies in China. Many Chinese companies  – even those that manufacture cells – have thus begun incorporating cells made in third countries in order to make sure those products shipped to the U.S. are not affected.

See also antitrust section below describing the recent antitrust complaint filed against Chinese solar companies.

CHINESE EXPORT TARIFS ON RARE EARTH METALS AND OTHER PRODUCTS

On October 10, 2013, Stewart & Stewart, a well-known law firm for US petitioners/domestic producers and US unions in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, released the attached report complaining about the Chinese government’s failure to lift export taxes on exports of raw materials, including rare earth metals.  CHINESE EXPORT TARIFFS ON RARE EARTH METALS AND OTHER RAW MATERIAL PRODUCTS

The Stewart firm argues that these export tariffs on tungsten, various metal products and wood and pulp products have been put in place to give Chinese producers an unfair advantage because they get access to cheaper raw materials.

What the Stewart firm does not mention is the fact that many of these export tariffs have been put in place by the Chinese government to deter US antidumping cases, including antidumping cases against Tungsten Ore and Silicon Carbide, antidumping orders on Magnesium, all Magnesium Products and Silicomanganese, and the new antidumping and countervailing duty orders against hardwood plywood.  All magnesium, magnesium products, including manganese metal and magnesium bricks, and silicomanganese, have been shut out of the US market not by Chinese export taxes, but by US antidumping orders.

In early 2000s, the US Magnesium Die Casting industry warned the US International Trade Commission at the Sunset Review on Magnesium that if they left the antidumping order on Magnesium from China in place, the US industry would contract. According to one magnesium die castor, in 2002, there were 16 US die cast producers in the US industry. There are now 4 producers left with the loss of 11,000 US production jobs.

What Stewart is proposing that China must dance to the US tune. But with the impact of these US antidumping and countervailing duty orders on US producers of downstream products, these antidumping and counterduty orders are truly cutting off US producers’ nose to spite their face.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY INVESTIGATIONS

NON-ORIENTED ELECTRICAL STEEL

On September 30, 2013, AK Steel Corporation filed antidumping and countervailing duty petitions against non-oriented electrical steel. See notice below.
Docket No: 2985
Document Type: 701 & 731 Petition
Filed By: Joseph W. Dorn
Firm/Org: King and Spalding
Behalf Of: AK Steel Corporation
Date Received: September 30, 2013
Commodity: Non-Oriented Electrical Steel
Countries: China, Germany, Japan, Korea, Sweden, and Taiwan
Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting the Commission to conduct an investigation under sections 701 and 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of Non-Oriented Electrical Steel from the People’s Republic of China, The Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, The Republic of Korea, the Kingdom of Sweden, and the People’s Republic of China (Taiwan).

The Chinese producers are: Angang Group International Trade Corp, Anshan Iron & Steel Group Corporation, Anyang Iron & Steel Group Co. Ltd. (AISCO), Baosteel Group Corporation and Baoshan Iron & Steel Company, Ltd., Baotou Iron & Steel (Group) Co., Ltd., Chongqing Iron & Steel (Group) Co., Ltd., Jiangsu Shagang Group, Jianlong Group, Fujian Xinjiu Technology Group, Foshan Jinxi Jinlan Cold Rolled Steel Sheets Co., Ltd., Jiangsu Jijing Metal Technology Co., Ltd. , Maanshan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd., Shougang Qian’an Iron & Steel Co., Ltd., Shunde POSCO Coated Steel (SHUNPO), Tianjin Jiyu Steel Co., Ltd., Taiyuan Iron & Steel (Group) Co., Ltd., Tianjin Huangtai New Energy-Saving Electromechanical Materials Co., Ltd., WISDRI (Xinyu) Cold Processing Engineering Co., Ltd., Wuhan Iron and Steel Group, Inc. (WISCO), Wuhan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd., Xinwanxin (Fujian) Fine Thin Board Co., Ltd., Xinyu Iron & Steel Co., Ltd.,  and Zhejiang Xiehe Group.

TETRAFLUOROETHANE

On October 22, 2013, Mexichem Fluor, Inc. filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition was filed against 1, 1, 1, 2-tetrafluoroethane from China.  The Chinese respondent companies are: Bluestar, Kangtai, Dongyue, Sinochem Taicang, Juhua, Bailian, Goldsnow, and Sanmei.  Attached is a copy of the ITC initiation notice.  ITC NOTICE TETRA

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

As mentioned in prior newsletters, we are working with APCO, a well-known lobbying/government relations firm in Washington DC, on establishing a US importers/end users lobbying coalition to lobby against the expansion of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws against China.

On September 18, 2013, ten US Importers agreed to form the Import Alliance for America. The objective of the Coalition will be to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.

We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries. We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.

If anyone is interested in the Alliance, please feel free to contact me.

APCO CHINA BRAND ARTICLE

Attached is an article published by in the Harvard Business Review by APCO China on the issues faced by Chinese companies in branding their products worldwide.  APCO BRANDS ARTICLE

DORSEY LAWYER ON SHANGHAI FREE TRADE ZONE

For an interview video on You Tube with Peter Corne, the head of Dorsey’s Shanghai office, on the new Shanghai Free Trade Zone, see http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-K-BoK8y2Po.

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW

MOFCOM SPEECH ON ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW

To understand the Chinese government’s position on the application of the US antidumping and countervailing duty law from their point of view, on October 7, 2013, following the APEC meeting in Bali, Mr. Jianhua Yu, Deputy China International Trade Representative, explained that China is by far the major target of more antidumping and countervailing duty cases than any other country worldwide, stating:

“China is in a serious trade friction situation. According to the statistics, China has got the most anti-dumping investigations among all the WTO members in 18 consecutive years and got the most anti-dumping surveies (sic) among all the countries in the world in 7 consecutive years. Chinese government will, as always, unswervingly fight against trade and investment protectionism. We advocate that all the members work together to resist trade protectionism, stay cautious and restrained, regulate the use of trade remedy measures; help and concern about each other and try to settle the trade dispute by dialogues. President Xi Jinping stressed, in recent G20 Summit, that only when you open the window to realize air convection, can fresh air come in. Trade protectionism and abuse use of trade remedy measures can only do harm to others “without serving their own interest”. Therefore, we hope to deepen the communication with governments of other economies under APEC, strenghten trade and industrial policy coordination, solve trade friction through negotiations, step up dialogues and cooperation, mutually fight against protectionism of any form and resolutely preserve and develop an opening world economy.”

CUSTOMS FRAUD

FALSE CLAIMS ACT

A major False Claims Act case for triple damages has been filed against Aluminum Extrusions companies in Hong Kong, China and the US.  See the attached complaint. ALUMINUM FCA COMPLAINT TAISHAN GOLDEN GATE AND INNOVATIVE  Some of the respondent companies are Tai Shan Golden Gain Aluminum Products, Ltd. and Innovative Aluminum in Hong Kong.  Additional respondent companies are listed below.   John Doe companies are companies that are involved in the conspiracy, but not known to the Government or the relator that filed the action.

In the Complaint, relator alleged that the respondent companies were transshipping aluminum extrusions through Malaysia and labeling the aluminum extrusions as produced in Malaysia to avoid antidumping and countervailing duties on aluminum extrusions from China.  This is Customs fraud and can result in civil and criminal penalties under the US Customs law and triple damages under the False Claims Act.

False Claims Act cases are filed by a private relator on behalf of the US government.  The relator can be a US or foreign company or a US or foreign individual, such as a person in the US, Hong Kong or China.  In this case, a US individual filed the action.  Once the complaint is filed, the US government has to decide whether to intervene or not.  In this case, the US government has chosen to intervene.

The remedy is triple damages plus attorney’s fees.  The relator is entitled to 15 to 25% of any recovery by the Federal Government.

The complaint was filed in April 2011.  The case did not become public until now because when an FCA complaint is filed, it is filed under seal, in secret, until the US government has a chance to investigate and decide whether to intervene in the case or not.  In this case, after an investigation, the US government has decided to intervene and take over the litigation.

To understand the extent of the damages, take the 374% countervailing duty rate rate in the Aluminum Extrusions case, which is the entered import value of the aluminum extrusions multiplied by 374%.  Then multiply that result by 3 so the potential damages are over 900% of the entered value.  The damages alleged in the complaint, therefore, are many 10s of millions of dollars in liability and potentially millions of dollars in payout to the relator.

False Claims Act cases can also change and become Criminal Customs cases.

The Target Companies in the False Claims Act case are: Tai Shan Golden Gain Aluminum  Products, Ltd, Sam Lei, John Lei, , Innovative Aluminum (Hong Kong), Ltd, Robert Wingfield, Steven Atkinson, Northeastern Aluminum Corporation, William Ma, Master Attraction Sbn Bhd, LMM Marketing Sbn Bhd, King River, TMI, Southeastern Aluminum Products, Inc., Basco Manufacturing Company, Waterfall Group, LLC, C.R. Laurence Company, Inc., Vitro Architectural Products, Southern Aluminum Manufacturing Company, Cardinal Shower Enclosures, Coral Industries, and John Doe Companies

US DOWNSTREAM COMPANIES THAT ARE NOT IMPORTERS OF RECORD ARE NO LONGER SAFE

Many US companies believe that if they are not the US importer of record, they cannot be held liable for Customs problems. That is simply no longer the case.

Attached is an Article about the Honey Antidumping Customs Fraud investigation, by Mike Coursey.   MIKE COURSEY HONEY GATE II ARTICLE  Mike Coursey represents the US Honey, Mushrooms and Garlic industries.

The Article starts this way:

“Still buying imports of dubious foreign origin from unrelated U.S. importers? Consider the case of Groeb Farms, Inc., which recently accepted criminal responsibility for fraudulently entered Chinese honey that had avoided $79 million in duties – despite not being directly involved in the honey’s importation.

The takeaway: Not being the importer of record for fraudulently entered goods does not insulate a “knowing” downstream buyer from criminal liability for that fraud.”

By the way, Groeb Farms has filed for bankruptcy and the two brothers that ran the company are facing possible prison terms.

The point is that downstream companies, such as consignees, that to try to avoid liability by not being importer of record so as circumvent US antidumping and countervailing duty laws with false documents submitted to Customs should be very, very careful. This is not a game; it is a crime. Such actions are not a good business strategy and expose the owners and employees of the downstream companies to criminal fraud cases and millions of dollars in liability.  Import games have consequences.

NEW PATENT CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI, ZTE, AND OTHER COMPANIES

On October 7, 2013, Polygroup Macau Limited filed a patent case for infringing Christmas Tree Lights against Willis Electric Co., Ltd., a Taiwan company.  CHRISTMAS LIGHTS PATENT CASE

On October 8, 2013, Blue Spike filed a patent case against Oppo Digital, Inc. and Guangdong Oppo Electronics Industry Co., Ltd. OPPO DIGITIAL GUANGDONG

On October 10, 2013, Pragmatus Mobile filed a patent case against ZTE. PRAGMATUS ZTE

On October 11, 2013, RCRV, Inc. d/b/a Rock Revival filed a trademark case against Guangzhou Nandadi Textile Garment Co. Ltd. GUANGDONG TRADEMARK

On October 14, 2013, Blue Spike filed a patent case against Beijing Xiaomi Technology Co., Ltd. BLUE SPIKE BEIJING COMPLAINT

On October 18, 2013, Alex is the Best filed a patent case aganst ZTE.  ZTE PATENT COMPLAINT

ANTITRUST

SOLAR ANTITRUST CASE

On October 4, 2013, a new class action $950 million antitrust case was filed by Energy Conversion Devices (“ECD”), a former US solar panel producer, which is now bankrupt, against three Chinese companies, Trina, Yingli and Suntech.  ECD argues that the three companies conspired to dominate the American solar market by coordinating a “complex”  price-fixing scheme to sell “inferior” solar panels in the U.S. at artificially low prices and achieve market domination.  According to the attached complaint, SOLAR ANTITRUST CASE the scheme forced ECD into bankruptcy.

The complaint alleges that the companies were able to do this by collaborating with raw material suppliers, lenders, Chinese trade associations and Chinese government entities to dump their solar panels in the U.S. at prices that were less  than the actual cost of materials, assembly and shipping.

The problem with this allegation is that no one knows whether the three Chinese companies were dumping or not. The Commerce Department’s antidumping determination did not determine that the Chinese companies were selling their solar panels below their raw material costs because the Commerce Department refuses to look at actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping. In fact, the real issue in Solar Panels US antidumping case was whether to use Thailand or India as the surrogate country to get the surrogate values to value Chinese consumption factors for raw materials.

What do prices and costs in Thailand or India have to do with the price of solar cells in China? Nothing!! That is the fiction embodied in the Commerce Department’s antidumping determination and now reflected in the antitrust complaint filed by ECD.

VITAMIN C CASE

The Vitamin C case is wrapping up at the District Court level.  Attached is the October 16, 2013 proposed settlement agreement with China Pharmaceutical Group Ltd. and Weisheng Pharmaceutical Group Co., Ltd.  VITAMIN C DIRECT LEGAL FEES  Note that the legal fees for the US lawyers are 7.8 million plus 1.5 million in expenses.

In other words, the Chinese respondent companies pay the legal fees of the US lawyers bringing the case.  Another incentive to bring more antitrust cases in the US against Chinese companies–big payouts to the US lawyers.

LCDS CASE—AU OPTRONICS EXECUTIVE BAI NOT GUILTY

In the second week in October, a Jury in San Francisco found AU Optronics Executive Richard Bai not guilty. In March 2012, a California jury found two executives for AU Optronics guilty, but in the Bai case, the Jury believed that the Justice Department had not provided sufficient evidence of guilt.

AU Optronics has appealed its criminal conviction to the San Francisco-based 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.  The Taiwan company is arguing that the U.S. Sherman Act can not be stretched to criminalize the actions of foreign companies on foreign soil. In the alternative, the defendants argue that if U.S. antitrust law does have extraterritorial reach, it should be applied in a limited way. AU Optronics argues that the fact that foreign executives met to discuss prices shouldn’t be an automatic U.S. antitrust violation.

Most comentators, however, believe that the chances of winning on this argument are very low.

In response, the Justice Department argues that U.S. antitrust law reaches foreign conduct that has a substantial and intended effect on the U.S..  Justice also also argues that part of the price-fixing conspiracy actually occurred in the U.S, stating LCD makers “reaped billions of dollars in ill-gotten gains at the expense of their U.S. customers,” . . . “That conspiracy meetings were held abroad does not change the felonious nature of defendants’ conspiracy or undo the enormous harm it caused in the United States.”

JAPANESE AUTO PARTS ANTITRUST CASES

On October 3rd and 9th more class action antitrust cases were filed against Japanese auto parts suppliers.  CLASS ACTION ANTITRUST JAPAN 2-13cv14289 CLASS ACTION ANTITRUST JAPAN

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

As stated before, what goes around, comes around, and we now have Chinese antitrust cases against US companies.

In the attached article NRDC Steps up Anti-trust Enforcement in China Even Further by Peter Corne, head of Dorsey’s Shanghai office, and Blake Yang state:

“On June 27, Biostime, a premium manufacturer of pediatric nutrition and baby care products in China, announced through its Hong Kong holding company that subsidiary Biostime, Inc. (Guangzhou) . . . is subject to investigation by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”).

The main purpose of the investigation is in relation to an alleged violation of Article 14 of the Anti-Monopoly Law of the People’s Republic of China (“AML”) by Biostime, Inc. (Guangzhou) in managing the market sales prices at which the distributors and retailers sell Biostime products. This announcement caused the stock price of Biostime to fall by 7.55% to HKD 43.5 on June 28.

On July 2, it was also reported by National Business Daily, Beijing Times, and other news media that five foreign infant milk firms including Abbott Laboratories, Mead Johnson Nutrition Co., Nestlé SA, Wyeth Nutrition, and Dumex (a brand of Danone) had also been placed under investigation by the NDRC for alleged antitrust violations in relation to Article 14 of the AML.

By way of background, Article 14 of the Anti-Monopoly Law prohibits business operators from entering into vertical agreements with trading partners that fix the product prices or set minimum sales prices for resale to third parties. A violation of Article 14 may attract heavy penalties including a fine ranging from 1% to 10% of the business operator’s overall sales revenue for the preceding year. . . .

This case is significant because it underlines the more aggressive approach that the NDRC has begun to take to anti-trust law enforcement in respect of matters within its own jurisdiction (in the area of pricing). . . .

So what are the potential implications for the future of anti-trust enforcement in China? As the NDRC has become more proactive and gains more experience in this area, we would expect it to expand the scope of its attention beyond resale price maintenance and into other areas of anti-trust related to price, such as price discrimination, price gouging, bid rigging or price signaling. We would also expect the Administration of Industry and Commerce, whose investigatory activity (limited in scope to areas outside of purely pricing) has been relatively low key, to also step up its activity in this area. As suggested by its latest investigations into foreign infant milk formula companies, the NDRC appears to feel confident enough to press ahead with plans to investigate foreign companies. MNCs should prepare by conducting their own internal audits with the help of outside counsel to ascertain the extent of their exposure to risk of enforcement for AML violations.”

See also another attached article SAIC Launches First Abuse of Dominance Investigation under AML by Mr. Corne about China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) investigation against Sweden’s Tetra Pak for alleged abuse of market dominance through tying and discrimination. This is the SAIC’s first publicly announced investigation into abuse of dominance since the PRC Anti-Monopoly Law (AML) came into force in 2008. The investigation also represents an extraordinary joinder of more than twenty provincial and municipal branches of the SAIC countrywide that have been mobilized jointly to conduct the investigation against the foreign company. Such actions mirror the private antitrust actions brought by US states and their attorney generals in antitrust cases.

RUMORS OF POSSIBLE CHINESE ANTITRUST ACTIONS AGAINST FOREIGN AUTOMOBILE COMPANIES

Recently, there have been rumors that the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the Chinese governmental authority that regulates price monopoly activities in China, has been working with the China Automobile Dealers Association (CADA) to collect data regarding the pricing behavior of foreign auto manufacturers.  The thought is that this data will be used to determine whether the foreign manufacturers are requiring their distributors and retailers to resell products at a minimum price. This practice, known as a resale price maintenance (RPM), may violate China’s Anti-Monopoly Law (AML).

Many commentators believe that although not acknowledged publicly, the NDRC is investigating the situation and more investigations against various industries are underway.

What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.

SECURITIES

SEC GRANTS DELAY IN PROCEEDING AGAINST US ACCOUNTING FIRMS FOR  REFUSING TO RELEASE AUDIT DOCUMENTS OF CHINESE COMPANIES

On October 2, 2013, in the attached order, SEC ORDER ACCOUNTING FIRMS the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) granted a request from an administrative law judge to give an additional 100 days to determine whether top accounting firms, such as Ernst & Young, Deloitte and Price, Waterhouse, have to produce audit documents of Chinese company clients that are suspected of defrauding their US investors through reverse mergers.  In December 2012 the SEC started this case because it believes the accounting firms, including the Big 4, have refused to to cooperate with document requests in an investigation into China-based companies whose securities are publicly traded in the U.S. in violation of US security laws.

The accounting firms argue that they fear violating Chinese secrecy laws. As evidenced by the complaints on this site, the SEC has cracked down in the last few years on fraudulent reverse mergers, in which Chinese companies have used existing public shell company to merge with a private operating company, leaving the shell company as the surviving legal entity. The crackdown, however, has been delayed by the Chinese privacy laws, which bar China-based auditors, including the subsidiaries of US accounting firms, from turning over Chinese client information.

The accounting firms have been fighting requests for audit paperwork related to Chinese companies accused of fraud on US investors.  In July, following bilateral investment talks, the U.S. announced that China had agreed to turn over certain audit documents to the SEC and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (“PCAOB”). That deal came shortly after the PCAOB announced a memorandum of understanding with the China Securities Regulatory Commission and China’s Ministry of Finance to ease restrictions on release of audit information in fraud investigations.

COMPLAINTS

A number of new securities complaints cases have been filed against Chinese companies.

On October 8, 2013, Warner Technology & Investment Company filed a complaint for securities fraud against Sichuan Apollo Solar Energy Technology Co. Ltd. and Renyi Hou. SECURITIES APOLLO

On October 9, 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission brought a major fraud case against a Hong Kong Company CKB 168, Cyber Kids Best Education Ltd., and various individuals and other companies, such Rosanna LS Inc., USA Trade Group, Inc., Ouni International Trading Inc., E. Stock Club Corp., EZ Stock Club Corp., HTC Consulting LLC and Arcadia Business Consulting Inc.  SEC CK CASE

The complaint states that the SEC “brings this emergency action to halt an ongoing pyramid scheme and offering fraud, which primarily targets members of the Asian-American community.” The Complaint goes on to state:

“To date, the Defendants have harvested $20 million, and likely much more, from at least 400 investors in New York, California, and elsewhere in the United States, as well as millions of dollars from investors in Canada, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and other countries in Asia. . . .

Through publicly available websites, promotional materials, seminars, and videos posted to the internet, as well as through other efforts intended to create the appearance of a legitimate enterprise, Defendants have falsely portrayed CKB as a profitable multi-level marketing company that sells web-based children’s educational courses.

What CKB really sells, however, is the false promise of easy wealth. . . . Defendants have falsely portrayed CKB as a profitable multi-level marketing company that sells web-based children’s educational courses.

In fact, CKB has little or no retail consumer sales to generate the promised returns and no apparent source of revenues other than money received from new investors. Instead, CKB is a classic pyramid scheme that depends on the recruitment of new investors to pay promised returns to existing ones. CKB’s inevitable collapse will cause substantial investor losses.”

On October 15, 2013, another class action securities complaint was filed against Chinese company, Light in the Box.  LIGHT COMPLAINT

On October 18, 2013, the US Securities and Exchange Commission filed a securities fraud complaint against Yuhe International Inc. and Gao Zhentao in Weifang, Shandong Province. YUE COMPLAINT

On October 28, 2013, Phuong Ho filed an attached class action securities complaint against NQ Mobile Inc. of Beijing China, several Chinese individuals, Piper Jeffray, Oppenheimer and Canaccord.  HO NQ MOBILE

SECURITIES CLASS ACTION CERTIFICATION–CHINA INTELLIGENT LIGHTING

On October 28, 2013, a Federal Judge in California certified a class of shareholders suing China Intelligent lighting and Electronics Inc. for securities fraud, alleging that the company and the underwriters exaggerated the company’s revenues ahead of its public offering in June 2010.  According to the Plaintiff shareholders, China Intelligent overstated its revenue for the 2008 and 2009 fiscal years by roughly $74 million in its offering documents, which were prepared with help from underwriters WestPark Capital Inc. and auditors MaloneBailey LLP and Kempisty & Co. PC, after which its auditor resigned and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission banned public sales of company stock. See attached order.  CTORDER CLASS CERTIFICATION

If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade, customs, false claims act, 337, patent, antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–DEVELOPMENTS IN TRADE, CUSTOMS, PATENTS, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Houhai Lake at Night With Drum and Bell Tower Beijing, China TraDear Friends,

There have been some major developments in the trade, solar cells, Customs, 337/patents, antitrust and securities areas.

TRADE

SOLAR CELLS—BEAT GOES ON

On September 26th there were reports that the United States and China have been negotiating for the past several weeks toward a settlement of existing trade remedy cases affecting Chinese solar cells that would set a minimum floor price and limit Chinese imports.   Apparently, the arrangement would be similar to the one China reached with the European Union, which also included a floor price and provisions aimed at limiting Chinese imports.  Another US objective is to remove Chinese duties affecting U.S. exports of solar-grade polysilicon to China.

Apparently, negotiations have taken place, but it is still unclear how intense the talks are at this time or whether they are anywhere close to a breakthrough.   Sources report that the U.S. Trade Representative (“USTR”), which is leading the negotiations for the U.S. side, has been talking to the domestic manufacturing industury.  As mentioned before since antidumping and countervailing duty orders have already been issued, there cannot be a suspension agreement.

One speculation is that the US and Chinese government could enter into a memorandum of understanding like the U.S-Canada lumber agreement.   Regarding who has more leverage in the negotiations, as described below, with the third country loophole in place, since the Chinese companies can source the cells from Taiwan, Chinese companies may not be that affected by the Trade Remedy orders.  But certain Chinese producers make most of their money by producing solar cells in China, not the modules and panels.

Furhter increasing the pressure, there was quite a flurry in the newspapers as the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) announced on September 20th its preliminary countervailing duty of 6.5% against Polysilicon from the United States against Hemlock and AE Polysilicon.  Other US producers, such as REC Silicon, received a 0% CVD rate. The CVD duty is in addition to the antidumping rates on polysilicon from 53 to over 60% on certain exporters.  See attached announcement.  MOFCOM ANNOUNCEMENT POLYSILICON

One trade publication quoted me stating that “I really think the United States, for the first time, has encountered a trade war,” Perry said. “All of a sudden, when it throws a rock at China, China throws two or three back.”

In addition, certain newspaper assumed that the countervailing duty replaced the antidumping duty against US polysilicon and the newspapers declared victory for the US side.  See http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/blog/post/print/2013/09/china-escalates-trade-war-with-us-over-polysilicon-upping-tariffs-to-63-5

But the reality is quite different.  Just like the United States, the Chinese countervailing duty is added to the antidumping duty against US polysilicon so US producers/exporters are still under enormous pressure because of the Chinese trade case.  The U.S. imports of polysilicon into China were roughly $2 billion, while the imports of Chinese solar cells to the U.S. were roughly $4 billion.  The looming uncertainty has already cost the U.S. manufacturing jobs.  As mentioned in my last post, an August 18th article in the Seattle Times stated that Hemlock Semiconductor, the third-largest polysilicon producer, announced plans in January to lay off 400 employees at its Michigan and Tennessee plants, citing an oversupply of solar panels because of the potential for Chinese tariffs.  The article also stated that REC Silicon said the trade issues caused it enough uncertainty as far back as January of 2013 to delay a $1 billion capacity expansion at its Moses Lake plant in Washington.

The MOFCOM Polysilicon Decision increased pressure on the United States to negotiate a settlement agreement.  On September 23rd, a US solar industry association, the Solar Energy Industrial Association, released a proposed settlement of the solar cells and polysilicon trade cases.  SEIA SETTLEMENT PROPOSAL  In the attached announcement issued on September 23rd, the SEIA states:

“With no end in sight to the ongoing solar trade dispute between the United States and China, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is offering an industry compromise between the U.S. and Chinese solar industries, which could serve as the centerpiece for a fair, negotiated settlement of outstanding issues, benefit end users, and encourage the proliferation of solar energy in the United States and globally. . . .

For months, SEIA has been working behind the scenes in Washington and Beijing to resolve the current conflict and head off an escalation of trade sanctions. SEIA has warned U.S. negotiators that any settlement similar to the recently announced EU-China agreement would represent a blow to the U.S. solar industry because of an expected increase in solar prices. SEIA also believes that any resolution of the U.S.-China solar dispute must recognize the interests of all stakeholders, including American consumers, and not just one segment of the industry.

Highlights of SEIA’s proposed solution include:

• Chinese companies would agree to create a fund that would benefit U.S. solar manufacturers directly and help to grow the U.S. market. Money for the fund would come from a percentage of the price premium Chinese companies are currently paying to third-country cell producers to get around U.S. trade sanctions, reducing costs and supply chain distortion for Chinese companies.

• The Chinese government would also agree to end its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations on U.S. polysilicon exports to China, and remove the threat of artificial cost increases in a key raw material in the solar value chain, benefiting not just Chinese solar companies but all users of solar energy.

• In return, the U.S. antidumping and countervailing duties orders would be phased out.”

In other words, the SEIA is proposing that the US Solar Industry and the Chinese solar industry simply come together and sing Kumbhaya, a let’s get together song, and everything will be fine again.  The reality is much different.

Although the United States and Chinese governments apparently are negotiating, the first problem with any settlement agreement is that the Chinese government has to agree.  With the Third Country loophole in place, that is if foreign solar cells are put in Chinese panels and modules, the panels and modules are not in the antidumping and countervailing duty case, Chinese modules and panels are not shut out of the US.  In fact, estimates are that the price difference between Chinese and Taiwan solar cells is an estimated 5 to 10 cents so the prices for modules and panels in the United States have only gone up by about $10.  Such a small prices increase has no impact on the US market.  So unless Commerce closes the loophole on its own or because of Court appeals, the Chinese government has no incentive to enter into such a settlement agreement.

Moreover, the US Solar Cell industry has no interest in such a settlement agreement.  In response to SEIA proposal, US counsel representing the US solar cell producers, including Solar World, indicated that they did not have any any intention of giving up unless and until China’s unfair trade practices have stopped.

Counsel for the US industry indicated that his clients are highly skeptical of any arrangement or settlement with China given its history of predatory trade pract1ces.  Since no agreement was negotiated in the initial investigation, getting the US industry’s agreement will be critical to any Solar Cells agreement because the Petitioners, including Solar World, must agree to withdraw their complaint.

This fight will definitely go on.

HARDWOOD PLYWOOD CASE

Another major trade fight is the antidumping and countervailing duty case against Hardwood Plywood from China.  On September 17, 2013, the Commerce Department issued its final antidumping and countervailing duty determinations in the Hardwood Plywood from China case.  As indicated in the attached notice, COMMERCE DEPARTMENT FACT SHEET HARDWOOD PLYWOOD the Antidumping rates range from 55.76% to 62.55% for the mandatory respondents and 59.46% for the rest of the Chinese companies that cooperated in the investigation and 121% for the Chinese companies that did not cooperate.

In the Countervailing Duty case, the three companies that were chosen as mandatory respondents received 0%.  But as mentioned before, even though the Chinese companies that were individually examined received 0%, the Commerce Department’s methodology does not let the Department go negative on the rest of China.  Despite the 0% dumping rates for the mandatory Chinese respondent companies, all other Chinese companies, more than 100 companies, received a 13.58% Countervailing Duty rate.  Fairness Commerce style.

In addition, how did the Commerce Department calculate an antidumping rates of approximately 55 to 62% for Chinese companies?  By using Bulgaria as the surrogate country.  Do you really think that Bulgaria is a more market driven economy than China?  Of course not, but that is not the point.

On September 19, 2013 at the ITC injury hearing Senator Wyden from Oregon testified for the US Industry stating:

“The growing tide of Chinese imports is sinking the boat of the American hardwood plywood industry . . .Left unchecked, these illegal trade practices undermine economic growth, struggling Oregon communities, and encourage more of these unacceptable trade practices by China and others who seek to play by their own rules. . .  American communities that are reliant on manufacturing had been brought “to the brink of economic collapse because of unfair trade.”

But who is the real loser in the Hardwood Plywood case, not the Chinese nor the US hardwood plywood industry.  The real losers in the Hardwood Plywood case are the downstream US producers of cabinets, furniture, boats, paneling and in home construction, crating and packaging, store fixtures, flooring underlayment and many other products, some of which are located in Oregon.

As Mr. Simon, the co-chairman of American Alliance and for Hardwood Plywood, and Mr. Titus, the executive vice president of the US Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association, state in the attached article from the Wall Street Journal, “Protectionists Pick Your Pocket Again, You’ll Pay More for Cabinets, and Anything Made with Chinese Plywood and US jobs will be lost too” WSJ ARTICLE:

“Many thousands of U.S. factories depend on a steady, affordable supply of this plywood for the products they will sell at home and abroad.  Whether those downstream manufacturers sink or swim may be determined in Washington this week in two separate events—a ruling and a hearing.

The damage to U.S. manufacturers that rely on hardwood plywood has already begun. The combined tariffs have jolted supply chains, spiking the cost of imported hardwood plywood and creating painful shortages due to a lack of domestic supply. The first to suffer will be American jobs in manufacturing and woodworking. .. . Today, many U.S. manufacturers that depend on imported Chinese hardwood plywood fear that the tariffs will force the production of cabinets, furniture and other products now made in the U.S. to sites overseas. The domestic kitchen and bath-cabinet industries alone have $8.2 billion in annual sales. But how will the U.S. industry, hit by tariffs, compete with kitchen cabinets and other products made abroad—that can be shipped to the U.S. free of import duties? Competition will come from Canada and Mexico as well as China. . . .

This point was reinforced by Mr. Carl Spencer of Spencer Cabinetry, who testified at the ITC on behalf of the Kitchen Cabinetry industry in the attached article from Woodworking Network, ” Plywood Antidumping Ruling: Upside-Down System of Justice”  See  http://www.woodworkingnetwork.com/wood-blogs/industrial-woodworker/production-industry-guest-blogs/Upside-Down-System-of-Justice-226075531.html?page=2#sthash.wgd6pcex.dpbs

In the Article, Mr. Spencer states:

“My in-depth exposure has convinced me that a lot more American cabinetmakers need to get involved right away. This isn’t just someone else’s issue — our own very existence may be at stake, and it’s ten seconds to midnight. . . .”

“It’s a serious mistake for your readers to think this will not greatly affect them. Whether we buy any imported plywood or not, restricting the longstanding pipeline of hardwood plywood imported for use as secondary wood will trigger spot shortages and drive up prices of all domestic material for everyone.  That is the whole reason the Cartel of Six filed their complaint in the first place. . . .

“even though our hardwood plywood prices will go up a lot, they will not go up for our direct cabinetmaking competitors in China, Canada, Mexico, or elsewhere. As an example, we are already competing every day with Canadian companies, whose primary market is the United States.”

“From our point of view, our own government’s actions amount to a de facto stimulus, not for Americans, but instead for the Chinese, Canadian, and Mexican cabinet industries — all of whom can still buy plywood from China at the true world price. In the end, it is the American cabinet companies that will be punished, especially the small ones, and American jobs that will be lost.” . . .

“As it stands now, over 9,300 of us cabinet companies must now pay them for it for as long as we survive . .  .”

“The handwriting is on the wall. It might be well for the woodworking press to move their headquarters to Canada and have staff who speak Mandarin in order to better keep up with the new American cabinet industry.”

 

When the US government imposes antidumping and countervailing duties on US imports using an unfair process that is tilted in favor of US producers, the Government creates little monopolies.  When the products at issue are raw materials, the real losers are US producers of downstream products, which are either driven out of business because they cannot compete in the downstream market with imports that have access to the cheaper raw materials or forced to close their US production facilities and move to China.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY INVESTIGATIONS

MSG

On September 16, 2013, the Commerce Department initiated antidumping and countervailing duty review investigations on Monosodium Glutamate (“MSG”) from China. ITC Notice and Chinese companies in the review are listed below:

ITC NOTICE

Docket No: 2979

Document Type: 701 & 731 Petition

Filed By: Iain R. McPhie

Firm/Org: Squire Sanders (US) LLP

Behalf Of: Ajinomoto North America Inc.

Date Received: September 16, 2013

Commodity: Monosodium Glutamate (MSG)

Country: China and Indonesia

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting the Commission to conduct an investigation under sections 701 and 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of Monosodium Glutamate (MSG) from People’s Republic of China and Republic of Indonesia.

Status: 701-TA-503-504 and 731-TA-1229-1230 (Preliminary)

The Chinese respondent producers and exporters in the MSG case are: Fufeng Group, Meihua Holdings Group, Henan Lotus Flower Gourmet Powder Co., Ltd, COFCO Biochemical (Anhui) Co. Ltd.), Shandong Linghua Monosodium Glutamate Incorporated Co. , Jining Jusheng Gourmet Powder Food Co., Ltd., Shandong Xinle Monosodium Glutamate Foods Co. Ltd.,  COFCO Limited, Ningxia Eppen Bio-Tech Co., Ltd., Huanyu Gelin Food Development Co Ltd., Haerbing Juhua Biotech Co. Ltd, Fujian Province Jianyang Wuyi MSG Co., Ltd., and Shandong Qilu MSG Group Co.,

GOES

On September 18, 2013, an antidumping and countervailing duty petition was filed against Grain Oriented Electrical Steel from China.   Notice and Chinese companies are listed below:

ITC NOTICE

Docket No: 2980

Document Type: 701 & 731 Petition

Filed By: John M. Herrmann

Firm/Org: Kelley Drye & Warren LLP

Behalf Of: AK Steel Corporation, Allegheny Ludlum LLC, and the United

Steelworkers

Date Received: September 18, 2013

Commodity: Grain-Oriented Electrical Steel

Countries: People’s Republic of China, The Czech Republic, The Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Poland, and the Russian Federation.

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting the Commission to conduct an investigation under sections 701 and 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the imposition of antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of Grain-Oriented Electrical Steel from the People’s Republic of China, The Czech Republic, The Federal Republic of Germany, Japan, The Republic of Korea, Poland, and The Russian Federation.

Status:  701-TA-505 & 731-TA-1231-1238

The Chinese respondents in the GOES case are: Anshan Iron & Steel Group Corporation, Hebei Shougang Qian’an Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. (subsidiary of Beijing Shougang Co. Ltd.), Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd. (subsidiary of Baosteel Group headed by parent company Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation) (“Baosteel”), and Wuhan Iron & Steel Co. Ltd. (”Wuhan” or “WISCO”).

As indicated below, the ironic point is that the Chinese Government has levied antidumping and countervailing duties on US exports of GOES to China.  Although the US has taken the GOES case to the WTO and won a victory, the orders stay in place in China.  The 3 plus years that the orders have been in place, however, have allowed the Chinese GOES industry to catch up and now export GOES to the US, which is causing problems for the US GOES industry.

In the Steel Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Wars between the US and China, what goes around, comes around.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

As mentioned in prior newsletters, we are working with APCO, a well-known lobbying/government relations firm in Washington DC, on establishing a US importers/end users lobbying coalition to lobby against the expansion of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws against China.

On September 18, 2013, ten US Importers agreed to form the Import Alliance for America.  The objective of the Coalition will be to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.

We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries.  We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.

If anyone is interested in the Alliance, please feel free to contact me.

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW

POLYSILICON

Attached is the Chinese Government’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) September 20th announcement of preliminary countervailing duties to be levied on polysilicon imports from the US.  MOFCOM ANNOUNCEMENT POLYSILICON

SILICON STEEL—GOES

The US battle with the Chinese government on its antidumping and countervailing duty orders against GOES from the US is still being fought out.  In response to the August 12th announcement by MOFCOM that it had met its WTO obligations in the GOES case, on September 11, 2013, the USTR stated that it is “currently evaluating China’s re-determination of antidumping and countervailing duties on GOES from the United States” and that if the Chinese government’s actions are not sufficient to comply with the WTO’s recommendations and rulings, the US could initiate further proceedings at the WTO.

As the recent US antidumping and countervailing petitions against GOES from  China indicate, however, the US GOES industry has already lost its technical/tactical advantage.

Although the US Steel industry complains about Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty cases against US GOES exports, in light of US refusal to use actual prices and cost in China calculate dumping rates and the Commerce Department’s methodology that finds dumping and subsidization in 100% of the cases against China, such criticism has a very hollow ring.

CUSTOMS

HONEY CASE

On September 30, 2013, a US agent for a dozen Chinese honey importers was sentenced to three years in prison for her role in smuggling operations that allegedly avoided nearly $40 million in US antidumping duties. At a federal court hearing in Chicago, Hung Yi lin -who pled guilty last year to three counts of entry of goods into the U.S. by means of false statements- was also ordered to pay $512,852 in restitution, but avoided the six-year prison sentence sought by prosecutors.

Lin, 43, also known as Katy Lin, allegedly played a pivotal role in helping her clients falsify documents on shipping containers loaded with Chinese-origin honey from 2009 to 2012, making it appear that they were filled with sugars or syrups. Through her California-based company KBB Express, Lin brought in $11.5 million of honey into the US avoiding almost $40 million in antidumping duties.

Ms. Lin’s attorney argued that his client was simply a hardworking immigrant, who was merely a freight forwarder and did not profit from the scheme.  Ms. Lin in tears told the US Judge Milton I. Shadur that she was not attempting to flee prosecution, when she was arrested on her way out of the country.  “I’m really sorry if anything I did hurt this country. I came here for my dream . . . .”

In response, however, the Assistant US Attorney argued that the Mr. Lin’s role was absolutely critical in the sophisticated scheme.  The Assistant U.S. Attorney also stressed the damage to the U.S. honey industry when the price of honey collapsed due to the smuggling operation and other similar schemes.

PATENTS

337 CASES

CAFC DETERMINATION –MICROSOFT NO DOMESTIC INDUSTRY UNDER 337

On October 3, 2013, the third day of the Government shutdown, we can say that at least the Courts are open. Today the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) issued its attached decision in Microsoft v. US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) and Motorola in which Microsoft appealed an ITC determination of no violation in a 337 case.  MICROSOFT DOMESTIC INDUSTRY  The CAFC affirmed the ITC on almost every part of the decision, remanding on one small aspect of one patent back to the ITC.  The most important issue is the its decision on domestic industry, which will effect future 337 cases against China.

In that decision, which is attached, the CAFC dismissed one part of Microsoft’s patent case becasue Microsofit did not establish that the patented invention, the specific patent in question, was actually practiced in the United States and, therefore, there was no domestic US industry with regards to this patented product.  The CAFC stated:

“Microsoft’s failing was simple. Although Dr. Olivier purported to identify “client applications” in an example application that Microsoft provides to third party phone manufacturers, Microsoft failed to show that any such “client applications” are actually implemented on any third-party mobile device.  .  .  According to the ALJ, because Microsoft did not point to evidence that its expert examined client applications in fact running on third-party mobile phones or confirmed how they operated, Microsoft failed to show that there is a domestic industry product that actually practices the ’376 patent.  . . .In this appeal, we do not reach Microsoft’s challenge to the non-infringement determination because we find substantial evidence to support the Commission’s finding of no domestic industry, which suffices to support its finding of no violation based on this patent. There is no question about the substantiality of Microsoft’s investment in its operating system or about the importance of that operating system to mobile phones on which it runs.”

“But that is not enough under the statute. Section 337, though not requiring that an article protected by the patent be produced in the United States, unmistakably requires that the domestic company’s substantial investments relate to actual “articles protected by the patent.”  19 U.S.C. §§ 1337(a)(2), (3). A company seeking section 337 protection must therefore provide evidence that its substantial domestic investment—e.g., in research and development—relates to an actual article that practices the patent, regardless of whether or not that article is manufactured domestically or abroad. . . .”

“We conclude that there is substantial evidence to support the Commission’s determination that Microsoft failed to meet that requirement. . . . The Commission did not lack substantial evidence to support its finding that Microsoft simply failed to identify any actual phones with the required components performing as required.  . . .”

“On that basis, the Commission could find that Microsoft failed to show that any Microsoft-supported products practiced the ’376 patent. We therefore affirm the Commission’s finding of no proven domestic industry, and hence no section 337 violation, involving this patent.”

SUPREME COURT ARGUMENTS ON DOMESTIC INDUSTRY

On September 9, 2013, in Nokia v. US International Trade Commission, Nokia attempted to persuade the Supreme Court to take jurisdiction and overturn the CAFC’s January 2013 decision in Interdigitial Communications LLC et al v.  International Trade Commission and Nokia Inc. that licensing of specific patents by InterDigital in the United States was enough to be a domestic industry under section 337.  Nokia argued that nonpracticing entities should not be considered a domestic industry under section 337.

In response, according to InterDigital, when it ruled that it had satisfied the domestic industry requirement, the CAFC simply followed “the intent of Congress to enlarge the domestic industry requirement to cover licensing activities – when those activities are substantial and connected to exploitation of the patents at issue. . . .”  InterDig Brief

In the attached Supreme Court brief, the ITC sided with InterDigital.  ITC BRIEF  19 USC 1337(a)(3) (C) specifically provides that a domestic industry “shall be considered to exist if there is in the United States with respect to the articles protected by the patent, “substantial investment in the patent’s exploitation, including engineering, research and development or licensing”.  The ITC pointed to record evidence that InterDigitial had “invested a total of approximately $7.6 million in salaries and benefits for employees engaged in its licensing activities, and it received almost $1 billion in revenues from portfolio licenses (including the patents in suit) related to its cellular technology. . . .”

In addition, the ITC pointed to the CAFC’s explanation that in 19 1337(a)(3)(C) Congress intended to protect “innovators who did not actually produce goods in this country, but who were injured by the importation of goods that incorporated the technology that they had invented or sought to license”.

NEW 337 CASE

HANDHELD MAGNIFIERS

On September 26, 2013, a new 337 case was filed against Aumed Group Corp. in China on handheld magnifiers. See notice below:

Docket No: 2984

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Matthew B. Lowrie

Firm/Org: Foley & Lardner

Behalf Of: Freedom Scientific, Inc

Date Received: September 26, 2013

Commodity: Handheld Magnifiers

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Acting Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Handheld Magnifiers and Products Containing Same. The proposed respondents are Aumed Group Corp., China; and Aumed Inc., San Carlos, CA.

MARINE SONAR DEVICES AGAINST HONG KONG

On September 20, 2013, a new 337 case was filed on Marine Sonar Imaging Devices against a Hong Kong company.  See notice below.

Docket No: 2981

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: M. Scott Stevens

Firm/Org: Alston and Bird LLP

Behalf Of: Navico Inc. and Navico Holding AS

Date Received: September 20, 2013

Commodity: Marine Sonar Imaging Devices

Description:  Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Acting Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Marine Sonar Imaging Devices, Products  Containing the Same, and Components Thereof. The proposed respondents are: Raymarine Inc., Nashua, New Hampshire; Raymarine UK Ltd., United Kingdom;  and In-Tech Electronics Ltd, Hong Kong.

NEW PATENT BILL PROPOSES TO MAKE IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR NPES/PATENT TROLLS

The House of Representatives released the attached draft patent bill on September 23, 2013 aimed at making it more difficult for patent trolls, non-practicing entities (“NPEs”), to bring patent cases.  HOUSE PATENT BILL  The bill will raise the pleading requirements, making it more difficult for NPEs to file frivolous suits.  The pleading requirements would also increase the cost and complexity of patent cases.

The bill would also require the losing party in patent cases to pay the costs of the prevailing party unless the judge finds that the suit was “substantially justified,” creating an exception in patent cases to the “American rule” that parties are generally responsible for paying their own attorney’s fees.

NEW PATENT CASES AGAINST HUAWEI, ZTE, HANGZHOU COMPANY AND OTHER CHINESE COMPANIES

On September 9, 2013, ACQIS filed a patent complaint against Huawei.  ACQIS HUAWEI

On September 17, 2013, C. B. Worldwide Inc. filed a patent complaint against Chinese companies, Hangzhou Yizhan Pet Products, Allara China Ltd., Shanghai ITCPC Import and Export Co. and Petlike.  The complaint alleges misappropriation of technology, patent infringement and breach of contract.  CHINA TOYS HANGZHOU

On September 25, 2013, Nidec Motor Corporation filed a patent complaint in the Federal District Court in Missouri against Broad Ocean Motor, Broad Ocean Technologies and Zhongshan Broad Ocean Motor Co., Ltd.

On September 26, 2013, James Grove and LF Products filed a patent case against COSTCO and Global Furniture (Zhejiang) Co. Ltd.  ZHEJIANG COSTCO

On September 26, 2013, SPH America filed patent complaints against Huawei and ZTE.  SPH ZTE   SPH HUAWEI

On September 30, 2013 and October 1, 2013, Super Interconnect Technologies filed patent complaints against Huawei and ZTE.  SUPER INTERCONNECT ZTE   SUPER INTERCONNECT HUAWEI

ANTITRUST

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT’S SYSTEMATIC INVESTIGATION OF ASIAN CARTELS

To illustrate that antitrust cases against Chinese companies for price fixing are not just China bashing, the following are additional examples of the major movement by the Justice Department and private plaintiffs in the United States to go after cartels, price fixing by foreign companies, aimed at the US market.  Well known antitrust experts have told me that Justice is targeting foreign cartels, especially Asian cartels, and is systematically going through industry after industry looking for evidence of price fixing.

In light of the ongoing cases against Vitamin C, Magnesium and Bauxite from China, it is just a matter of time before the Justice Department and Private Plaintiffs start to target Chinese companies for price fixing on various products.  One of the first targets of such price fixing investigations may be auto parts.

NINE JAPANESE AUTO PARTS COMPANIES PLEAD GUILTY TO PRICE FIXING CARTEL

On September 26th, the Justice Department issued the attached announcement that Nine automobile parts manufacturers and two executives agreed to plead guilty to fixing prices on automobile parts sold to U.S. car manufacturers and installed in U.S. cars.  FULL DOJ NOTICE AUTO PARTS SEPT 26  NINE JAPANESE AUTO PARTS COMPANIES PLEAD GUILTY

 The nine Japanese Companies agreed to pay a total of more than $740 million in Criminal fines.  The September 26th announcement states as follows:

“Nine Japan-based companies and two executives have agreed to plead guilty and to pay a total of more than $740 million in criminal fines for their roles in separate conspiracies to fix the prices of more than 30 different products sold to U.S. car manufacturers and installed in cars sold in the United States and elsewhere . . .  The department said that price-fixed automobile parts were sold to Chrysler, Ford and General Motors, as well as to the U.S. subsidiaries of Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Toyota and Fuji Heavy Industries–more commonly known by its brand name, Subaru.”

“These international price-fixing conspiracies affected more than $5 billion in automobile parts sold to U.S. car manufacturers, and more than 25 million cars purchased by American consumers were affected by the illegal conduct,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “The Department of Justice will continue to crack down on cartel behavior that causes American consumers and businesses to pay higher prices for the products and services they rely upon in their everyday lives.”

“Some of the price-fixing conspiracies lasted for a decade or longer, and many car models were fitted with multiple parts that were fixed by the auto parts suppliers,” said Scott D. Hammond, Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division’s criminal enforcement program. “The Antitrust Division has worked hand in hand with its international competition colleagues who have provided invaluable assistance to the Justice Department in breaking up these worldwide price-fixing cartels.”

“Today’s charges should send a message to companies who believe they don’t need to follow the rules,” said Ronald Hosko, Assistant Director of the FBI’s Criminal Division. “If you violate the laws of this country, the FBI will investigate and put a stop to the threat you pose to our commercial system. The integrity of our markets is a part of the foundation of a free society.”

“Including those announced today, 20 companies and 21 executives have been charged in the Antitrust Division’s ongoing investigation into price fixing and bid rigging in the auto parts industry. All 20 companies have either pleaded guilty or have agreed to plead guilty and have agreed to pay more than $1.6 billion in criminal fines. Seventeen of the 21 executives have been sentenced to serve time in U.S. prisons or have entered into plea agreements calling for significant prison sentences.”

“Each of the companies and executives charged today has agreed to cooperate with the department’s ongoing antitrust investigation. The plea agreements are subject to court approval. The companies’ and executives’ agreed-upon fines and sentences are:

• Hitachi Automotive Systems Ltd. to pay a $195 million criminal fine;

• Jtekt Corporation to pay a $103.27 million criminal fine;

• Mitsuba Corporation to pay a $135 million criminal fine;

• Mitsubishi Electric Corporation (MELCO) to pay a $190 million criminal fine;

• Mitsubishi Heavy Industries Ltd. to pay a $14.5 million criminal fine;

• NSK Ltd. to pay a $68.2 million criminal fine;

• T.RAD Co. Ltd. to pay a $13.75 criminal fine;

• Valeo Japan Co. Ltd. to pay a $13.6 million criminal fine;

• Yamashita Rubber Co. Ltd. to pay a $11 million criminal fine;

• Tetsuya Kunida, a Japanese citizen, to serve 12 months and one day in a U.S. prison, and to pay a $20,000 criminal fine; and

• Gary Walker, a U.S. citizen and former executive of a U.S. subsidiary of a Japan-based automotive products supplier to serve 14 months in a U.S. prison, and to pay a $20,000 criminal fine.”

 

At a news conference about the guilty plea, Scott D. Hammond, Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division’s Criminal Enforcement Program, stated as follows in the attached statement:

“We have seen a pattern during the course of this investigation. The detection of one auto part conspiracy has led to the discovery of other conspiracies involving a new set of products, a new group of conspirators and a new list of victims. And as the Attorney General said, our work isn’t done. . . .”

“The companies and executives charged today will pay a heavy price for their conduct. As of today, more than $1.6 billion in criminal fines have been obtained thus far and 17 auto parts executives are currently serving prison time or are awaiting sentencing. The deterrent impact of their sentences should resonate in boardrooms around the world.”

“As today’s charges demonstrate, global cartels operating largely outside of our borders often constitute the biggest competitive threat to our economy, our businesses and our consumers. The Antitrust Division and the FBI have worked closely with our international competition colleagues to break up these worldwide price-fixing cartels.”

SCOTT HAMOND SPEECH

LIQUID CRYSTAL DISPLAY (LCDS) FROM TAIWAN

In San Francisco, a criminal antitrust trial is proceeding against Borlong Bai of AU Optronics in Taiwan for his involvement in a cartel to price liquid crystal displays.  AUO, its US subsidiary  and two executives were convicted of price fixing last year and two other executives were found not guilty.  Bai’s attorneys are arguing that although he was a manager of AUO’s division that sold LCDs to laptop computer companies, Bai simply used the information he received to outmaneuver his rivals and not to fix prices.

The Justice Department is arguing that Bai was essential to the global conspiracy to fix prices of LCDs.

ANTITRUST AG BILL BAER SPEECH ON CRIMINAL ANTITRUST CASES LCDS FROM TAIWAN

On September 25, 2013, Bill Baer, the Assistant Attorney General for the Antitrust Division at the Justice Department spoke to the Georgetown Law’s 7th Annual Global Antitrust Enforcement Symposium on the importance of the lesson from the LCDs case against Taiwan companies.  BAER DOJ STATEMENT  Mr. Baer stated in the attached speech:

“Criminal enforcement is a large part of what we do at the Division. Effective sanctions matter there too. Guided by the federal Sentencing Guidelines, our prosecutors seek criminal sentences that are consistent with statutory considerations and reflect the seriousness of the offense, promote respect for the law, provide just punishment, afford deterrence, protect the public, and offer defendants an opportunity for effective rehabilitation.”

“Last year, for the first time, the division recommended that a criminal antitrust defendant be required, as a condition of its probation, to retain an independent corporate monitor to develop and implement an effective antitrust compliance program. The defendant, AU Optronics Corporation (AUO), its U.S. subsidiary, and two of its top executives, had been convicted at trial for their role in a conspiracy to fix the price of liquid crystal display (LCD) panels – a conspiracy that had a significant impact on U.S. commerce.”

“Rarely has a company needed an effective antitrust compliance program as much as AUO. AUO was founded the very month the LCD conspiracy began. From its inception, AUO’s standard operating procedure was collusion. “Antitrust compliance program” was not in its lexicon. Even after conviction, AUO continued to employ convicted price-fixers and indicted fugitives. As a result, the division argued that there was no reason to believe that AUO’s conviction and the imposition of a criminal fine – even a large fine – would deter AUO from engaging in future collusive conduct.”

“The court agreed.  In addition to a $500 million fine, the court sentenced AUO and its subsidiary to three years of probation during which the companies are required to develop, adopt, and implement an effective compliance and ethics program, and to retain an independent monitor to oversee that program. Consistent with the division’s willingness to request external monitors in the civil context, the division will consider seeking conditions of criminal probation that include independent monitors when faced with circumstances in which the division is not persuaded that penalties alone will deter future illegal behavior.”

Attached are two class action complaints filed in October against Japanese auto parts.  As a result of the Justice Department plea agreements, Japanese auto parts companies and probably eventually Taiwan auto parts companies are exposed to $100s of millions, if not billions of dollars in liability under private right of action triple damage antitrust cases.  AUTO PARTS SWITCHES PANASONIC  DIAMOND AUTO PARTS AT CASE

US FTC CHAIRWOMAN STATES THAT CHINA NEEDS TO ENSURE PROCEDURAL FAIRNESS IN ITS ANTITRUST PROCEEDINGS

On September 25, 2013, at a conference in Washington DC, FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez questioned the Chinese Government’s fairness in antitrust proceedings.  Ms. Ramirez stated:

“While every country must determine its own competition policy, we believe consumers and competition policy are best served when competition enforcement is based solely on economic analysis of effects on competition.  But if other factors nonetheless enter into competition decisions, their nature and effect should be transparent.”

The problem with Ms. Ramirez’s statement is that the Chinese government’s first experience with US government fairness is through the US antidumping laws.  For decades, the Chinese companies and government have been subjected to Commerce Department antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings, which are clearly not fair and transparent.  With its surrogate country and surrogate value analysis, Commerce Department determinations in antidumping cases on their face are arbitrary and capricious.  Using Bulgaria as a surrogate country in the Hardwood Plywood case is just such an example.

The procedural unfairness inherent in US antidumping and countervailing duty laws affects the entire legal relationship between the US and China.  Chinese government officials and many Chinese companies sincerely believe that the United States is simply out to bash Chinese companies and procedural fairness be damned.

What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander.  If the Commerce Department uses inherently unfair procedures in its antidumping and countervailing duty investigations, which have no basis in economic reality, from the Chinese government’s point of view why should it base its competition policy on “economic analysis of effects of competition.”

CLASS ACTION ANTITRUST CASE AGAINST KOREAN NOODLE COMPANIES

On September 5, 2013, the attached class action antitrust case complaint was filed in Federal District Court in California by Stephen Fenerjian against Korean noodle companies for price fixing on exports of noodles to the United States.  The target companies are: Nong Shim Company Ltd., Nong Shim America Inc., Ottogi Company Ltd., Ottogi America, Inc., Samyang Foods Company Ltd., Samyang (USA) Inc., Korea Yakult Co., Ltd., and Paldo Company Ltd.  KOREAN NOODLES ANTITRUST CASE

SECURITIES

SEC GRANTS DELAY IN PROCEEDING AGAINST US ACCOUNTING FIRMS FOR REFUSING TO RELEASE AUDIT DOCUMENTS OF CHINESE COMPANIES

On October 2, 2013, in the attached order, SEC ORDER ACCOUNTING FIRMS the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) granted a request from an administrative law judge to give an additional 100 days to determine whether top accounting firms, such as Ernst & Young, Deloitte and Price, Waterhouse, have to produce audit document of Chinese company clients that are suspected of defrauding their US investors through reverse mergers.  In December 2012 the SEC started this case because it believes the accounting firms, including the Big 4, have refused to to cooperate with document requests in an investigation into China-based companies whose securities are publicly traded in the U.S. in violation of US security laws.  The accounting firms argue that they fear violating Chinese secrecy laws.  As evidenced by the complaints on this site, the SEC has cracked down in the last few years on fraudulent reverse mergers, in which Chinese companies have used existing public shell company to merge with a private operating company, leaving the shell company as the surviving legal entity.  The crackdown, however, has been delayed by the Chinese privacy laws, which bar China-based auditors, including the subsidiaries of US accounting firms, from turning over Chinese client information.

The accounting firms have been fighting requests for audit paperwork related to Chinese companies accused of fraud on US investors.  In July, following bilateral investment talks, the U.S. announced that China had agreed to turn over certain audit documents to the SEC and the Public Company Accounting Oversight Board.  That deal came shortly after the PCAOB announced a memorandum of understanding with the China Securities Regulatory Commission and the country’s Ministry of Finance to ease restrictions on release of audit information in fraud investigations.

COMPLAINTS

A number of new securities complaints cases have been filed against Chinese companies.

On September 26, 2013, the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed the attached  securities fraud complaint against Lee Chi Ling (“Lee”) and Perfect Genius Limited (“Perfect Genius”), alleging securities fraud in a classic “pump and dump”scheme from at least June 2004 through at least February 2006 to manipulate the price of the common stock of China Energy Savings Technology, Inc.   PERFECT GENIUS

On September 26, 2013, the SEC filed a securities fraud complaint against defendants Chan Tze Ngon, a/k/a Chen Zi Ang and Ron Chan, (“Chan”), and Jiang Xiangyuan (“Jiang”).  The case involves two securities fraud schemes engineered by former high level officials of ChinaCast Education Corporation (“ChinaCast”) to steal about $100 million out of the company by diverting monety to their private accounts.  CHINA CAST

On September 27, 2013, the SEC filed a securities fraud complaint against Universal Travel Group (UTG), a China-based travel company, UTG’s former ChiefExecutive Officer Jiangping Jiang (“Jiang”); and UTG’s former Chief Financial Officer, Jing Xie (“Xie”) for diverting $41 million in public and private stock offerings in the United States to numerous unknown parties in Hong Kong and the PRC. In an interesting note, the attached complaint also includes consent judgements by UTG, Jian and Xie in which they agree to the SEC charges and agree to pay fines and penalties.  Even in China, you can run, but not hide.  UNIVARSAL TRAVEL

On September 30, 2013, Another class action securities case was filed against Light in the Box Holding, a Beijing company, and two Chinese individuals for securities fraud.  LIGHT IN THE BOX

 If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade, customs, patent, antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRADE, PATENTS, SECURITIES, ANTITRUST

Jackson Statue Lafayette Park Monument White House After Snow WaDear Friends,

Over the last week, there have been major developments in the Trade, Patents, Securities and Antitrust areas.  The beat of the US China Trade War goes on.

 

TRADE

SOLAR CELLS

Commerce has referred a number of Chinese exporters and US importers to Customs for evasion of the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders through the Third Country Solar Cells issue.  See attached document.  PUBLIC VERSION Solar Cells Referral to CBP  In fact, we are working with one importer now because Customs is requiring the importer to prove that all the solar cells in the Chinese panels and modules are foreign solar cells and have not been commingled with Chinese solar cells.

STEEL SINKS

Unfortunately, the ITC reached an affirmative injury determination in the Steel Sinks case, ignoring the “but for” standard, the higher causation standard set in the Wood Flooring appeal.  The major reason for the loss in this case, however, was the failure of US importers and Chinese producers/exporters to participate in the case.  They gave up too soon.  Attached are the antidumping and countervailing duty orders that were issued in the case.  SINKS AD ORDER FED REG   SINKS CVD ORDER FED REG

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT RULE CHANGE

Attached is a revision to the Commerce Department’s antidumping and countervailing duty regulations regarding the submission of factual information, including surrogate value information, on the record at the Commerce Department, which was published April 10, 2013 in the Federal Register.  COMMERCE RULES CHANGE ON SURROGATE VALUES  The most important change apparently is the decision of the Commerce to eliminate the opportunity to submit surrogate values after the preliminary determination.

This is a real blow to US importers and Chinese producers/exporters because often the Chinese respondents have no idea what critical value Commerce will use until they see the Commerce Department’s preliminary determination.  If, for example, Commerce uses an aberrational surrogate value for a specific raw material input in the preliminary determination, the US importer or the Chinese company had the opportunity to get a more reasonable value and put it on the record.  No longer.

By the way, Commerce’s argument that Petitioners or respondents could not comment on the submission of the surrogate values after the preliminary determination is bogus.  Generally, Commerce takes another 6 months after the preliminary determination to issue its final determination and during that period both Petitioners and Respondents submit case and rebuttal briefs and attend a hearing at Commerce.

Now the chance to counter an aberrational surrogate value has been eliminated making it even more difficult for US importers and Chinese producers/exporters to get a fair determination at the Commerce Department.

CUSTOMS FRAUD

HONEYGATE– HONEY TRANSSHIPMENT

Attached is an article about the Customs fraud investigations in the transshipment of Chinese honey around US antidumping orders.  Honeygatel  The author is Michael Coursey, at the Kelley, Drye law firm.  Mike and I used to work at the Commerce Department together. Mike represents the US producers in the Honey, Mushrooms and Garlic from China antidumping cases so understand that he is looking at antidumping cases from a domestic producer’s point of view.

The point of the article, however, is that US producers are pushing for Customs investigations against transshipment around antidumping orders, and Customs is taking these investigations very seriously. As Mike states in the attached article as just one example of the Customs investigations listed in the Article:

“ICE’s undercover investigation also led to it to uncover another major player in Honeygate: Jun Yang, a wealthy Chinese businessman and purported pillar of the Houston, Texas community who served on advisory boards to the Mayor of Houston and hobnobbed with the rich and famous. Yang is believed to be involved in efforts to avoid dumping duties through the “new shipper” administrative review process at the Commerce Department. Specifically, Yang made millions as owner of honey and seafood importer National Commodity Corp. by brokering sales to Honey Solutions and others of honey that was adulterated or mislabeled as being from India and Malaysia when it really came from China. Yang has agreed to the prosecutors’ recommendation for a 74-month prison sentence, imposition of a $250,000 fine and restitution of $2.64 million. The judge has not yet ruled on the plea agreement. . . .”

“In addition to Honeygate, there is an increasing trend of the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) and private citizens fighting customs fraud under the False Claims Act, which allows private citizens to sue on behalf of the United States and share in any recovery if they provide the government with the necessary information and evidence. The first phase of Honeygate marked the DOJ’s first use of Sarbanes-Oxley’s criminal obstruction of justice statute, which includes a 20-year incarceration penalty per offense, in the Alfred L. Wolff prosecutions.

This trend has continued in other customs fraud prosecutions of importers that falsify entry documents and cover-up such fraud in order to avoid paying millions in customs duties.  Much of this area is still evolving, with at least four U.S. federal circuit courts currently split as to whether certain customs fraud and smuggling laws are just civil or also criminal in nature.”

In talking to Mike, he also told me that he is behind the effort to go after the US insurance companies that posted new shipper bonds for Chinese producers/exporters.  Mike estimated that the liability for one US insurance company is close to $200 million.

Attached is also another article about the Honeygate Customs fraud cases.  CANADIAN FOOD WHOLESALER HONEY GATE

PATENTS

HAIER

Attached is a patent complaint that was filed on April 8, 2013 by Guardian Media Technologies against Haier, Desay, Lasonic, Digway, Veehom, Denca and Express Way Ltd. for infringement of certain patents for TVs and DVD players.  HAIER CASE

HUAWEI

Another patent complaint was filed on April 11, 2013 against Huawei by Media Digital.  HUAWEI PATENT MEDIA DIGITAL

337 CASES

A new section 337 case was filed on April 3rd against China on Linear Actuators.  If anyone wants a copy of the complaint, please feel free to contact me.  The notice is below:

Pending Institution

Docket No: 2949

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Gorman & Williams

Behalf Of: Okin America Inc. and Dewert Okin GmbH

Date Received: April 3, 2013

Commodity: Linear Actuators

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Acting Secretary, USITC; requesting

that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the

Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Linear Actuators. The

proposed respondents are Changzhou Kaidi Electrical Co. Ltd., China and

Kaidi LLC, Easton Rapids, MI.

SECURITIES

FARRIS ARTICLE—DELAWARE COURT DECISION ON ZST DIGITAL NETWORKS

On April 9, 2013, Ted Farris, an international capital markets partner in our New York office, authored an article about Deutsch v. ZST Digital Networks, Inc. (Del. Ch. C.P.A. No. 8014-VCL, March 28, 2013), in which the Delaware Chancery Court authorized seizure of a Chinese company’s assets and a court ordered shareholder buy-out in what should have been a simple books and records case. See attached order.  ZST ACTUAL ORDER  Ted Farris specializes in assisting Chinese companies, acquirers and special committees in considering an exit from U.S. regulatory and reporting requirements in going dark and going private transactions, including delistings from US stock exchanges.  As Ted states in the Article:

 

“Delaware Court Authorizes Seizure of Chinese Company’s Assets in Books and Records Case

China-based companies incorporated and publicly traded in the United States have received another harsh blow from the Delaware Court of Chancery, which appears to be losing patience with failure of Chinese companies to comply with Delaware corporate-law requirements. In Deutsch v. ZST Digital Networks, Inc. (Del. Ch. C.P.A. No. 8014-VCL, March 28, 2013), China-based ZST Digital failed to comply with a December 2012 default judgment ordering it to produce corporate books and records to a U.S. shareholder in Delaware pursuant to Section 220 of the Delaware General Corporation Law. On the shareholder’s motion, Vice Chancellor J. Travis Laster held the company in contempt of court, granted the U.S. shareholder the right to put his shares back to the company at a price based on book value derived from its last SEC financial report, and appointed a receiver for the Chinese company’s assets to enforce the court orders, including payment of the put price. Although, as a practical matter, it may be extremely difficult for the receiver to reach the company’s assets which are all in China, the case unveils a potentially powerful new weapon to enforce U.S. corporate-law standards on Chinese companies that are incorporated in the United States and have shares traded in U.S. markets. The ruling may further encourage China-based companies to consider exiting U.S. securities markets.

Stonewalling a Books and Records Request

ZST Digital is a China-based company that was incorporated in Delaware in 2006. Its business operations are entirely in China where it is engaged in supplying digital and optical equipment to cable equipment operators, including internet-enabled set top boxes, primarily in Henan Province. ZST Digital’s common shares became publicly traded through a 2009 share exchange that was accounted for as a reverse merger. The company filed reports with the Securities and Exchange Commission until August 2012, when it “went dark” by filing a Form 15 with the SEC to terminate its reporting obligations under the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. However, its shares continued to trade in the over-the-counter market. The company’s last SEC filing, its Form 10-Q for the quarter ended September 30, 2011, claimed total revenue exceeding $125 million for the nine months ended September 30, 2011. After that filing, ZST Digital ceased filing financial reports with the SEC. In addition, BDO, the company’s auditor resigned in March 2012, and the company claimed it was therefore unable to provide audited financial statements (although it subsequently hired a new auditor). The company’s share price declined from a high of approximately $11.00 in January 2010 to $1.30 per share in April 2013. The stock’s current 52-week range as of April 5, 2013 was from $6.76 to $0.31 per share.

Peter Deutsch, a ZST Digital shareholder who claimed to own more than 3.9 million shares, brought an action in the Delaware Court of Chancery after ZST Digital “went dark” seeking access to the company’s books and records under DGCL Section 220.  Prior to the lawsuit, the company’s counsel at Pillsbury Madison & Sutro LLP had responded by letter offering access to the books and records at the company’s principal office in China, a common response by China-based companies to such a request. Deutsch was not willing to travel to China to see the documents and filed suit demanding that they be produced in Delaware or New York. ZST Digital ultimately failed to respond, and a default judgment was entered on the Section 220 claim in December 2012.

The default judgment ordered ZST Digital to produce books and records in the State of Delaware that included extensive financial disclosures and company strategic plans, including any plans to “go private.” The court rejected the company’s request that Deutsch travel to China to inspect the information. When ZST Digital failed to comply with the terms of the initial order, Deutsch filed a motion against the company for contempt of court, for grant of a put right at the fair value of his shares and for appointment of a receiver. Vice Chancellor Laster granted the plaintiff’s motion for contempt and also granted Deutsch the extraordinary and unprecedented right to put his shares of ZST Digital back to the company at their supposed book value of $8.21 per share (at a time when the shares were trading for only approximately $1.39 per share).

The value of the court-ordered buy back exceeded $30 million and was based on the Company’s book value derived from the balance sheet included in its last-filed Form 10-Q report for the quarter ended September 30, 2011. The court further ordered the appointment of a receiver for the company’s assets for the purpose of enforcing the court’s orders, including the put right, and ordered ZST Digital to pay all costs and expenses of the action, the receivership and enforcement of the court’s orders. ZST Digital has so far failed to respond to the court’s orders.

In his court filings, Plaintiff Deutsch alleged that ZST Digital and other Chinese companies have “gone dark” and ceased filing reports with the SEC in order to lower their stock prices and make a “going private” transaction less expensive. The court-ordered buy-out option requested by Plaintiff Deutsch was based on court-ordered buy-outs in the context of closely held corporations. Plaintiff conceded the unprecedented nature of the “put” remedy in the public company context. The court’s order will effectively prevent ZST Digital from undertaking a “going private” transaction as many other Chinese companies have done over the last several years. (More than 100 Chinese companies have “gone dark” or “gone private” since January 1, 2008.)  Any effort to cash out U.S. shareholders now would undoubtedly face substantial court obstacles given Deutsch’s put right and the receivership order. What impact this will have on the company’s U.S. shareholders remains to be seen.

As ZST Digital has simply failed to respond to the lawsuit, Deutsch’s extraordinary legal victory may have little practical impact so long as the company stays out of the United States and does not attempt a transaction with its U.S. shareholders. ZST Digital has no U.S. assets for the receiver to seize and has so far shown no inclination to pay the put price required by the court’s order. Nevertheless, the case shows that the Delaware courts are willing to use every conceivable remedy against a Chinese company that they perceive as having flouted court orders and ignored the corporate-law rights of U.S. shareholders. The decision leaves both ZST Digital and its shareholders in limbo.

Conclusion

Chinese companies have often attempted to stonewall U.S. shareholders of their Delaware-incorporated entities under DGCL Section 220 by insisting that U.S. shareholders travel to China to inspect books and records. Vice Chancellor Laster made clear that shareholders can insist on such production in the State of Delaware. Further, the list of documents ordered to be produced under DGCL Section 220 was extremely broad and included detailed financial and strategic information even though ZST Digital was no longer required, as a matter of U.S. securities law, to file any reports or disclose information under SEC reporting requirements. In the absence of a confidentiality agreement with a shareholder, this kind of material, nonpublic information could not, as a practical matter, be disclosed to one shareholder (who might freely trade on it) without making that information available to all shareholders through a public announcement.

If Delaware courts can really require public disclosure of financial information by non-reporting companies pursuant to a shareholder demand under DGCL Section 220, this section could in theory be used to defeat a company’s purpose in “going dark” by deregistering under the Exchange Act. Nevertheless, the extreme remedies of granting a put right (in effect a court ordered buy out), appointing a receiver and effectively requiring public disclosure of financial and strategic information by a publicly traded company may reflect the unusual facts of the case. There is no question that ZST Digital’s refusal to participate in the case and its repeated defaults in responding to court orders motivated Vice Chancellor Laster in shaping these extraordinary remedies. If ZST Digital had instead made an appearance, contested the matter and offered some compromise proposal on the information requested, it could almost certainly have obtained a better result for the company that would not have limited its future flexibility in dealing with U.S. shareholders.

Still, the ZST Digital case means that Chinese companies would be well advised to pay more attention to U.S. legal risks given the Delaware courts’ increasingly tough stances in these areas. It is no longer sufficient for U.S.-incorporated Chinese companies to “go dark” and then ignore compliance with basic requirements of U.S. corporate law. The Delaware courts are not likely to give such companies the benefit of the doubt any longer (if they ever did), and other states regularly follow Delaware’s lead in matters of corporate law.

China-based companies with shares trading in U.S. public markets should carefully consider the implications of the ZST Digital case as part of their determination of whether to remain trading in the United States or to consider an exit through a “going private” transaction.”

 

Attached also an article from “Theasset.com” quoting Mr. Farris on this issue.  FARRIS QUOTE

LONGTOP—DELOITTE

On April 8, 2013, a New York Federal District Court Judge tossed Deloitte out of a class action securities lawsuit against Longtop Financial Technologies for lying to investors and exaggerating the size of its profit margins.  In the attached opinion, the Judge determined that the Plaintiff had failed to sufficiently allege that Deloitte violated federal securities laws in signing off on Longtop accounts between June 2009-May 2011. LONGTOP SECURITIES DECISION TOSSING DELOITTE

CITIC AND PUDA COAL

ON April 8, 2013, a class action securities case was brought in the Federal Court in the Southern District of New York against Puda Coal Inc. and CITIC Trust Co., Ltd.  Attached is a copy of the complaint.  PUDA COAL CITIC

The complaint alleges that CITIC is “the largest Chinese private equity fund and merchant bank, which, by means of a transfer of 49% ownership interest and a 51 % pledge as security for a loan, now controls Puda’s sole operating subsidiary and its only source of revenues