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

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

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

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

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

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

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

China: 88.2% – 188.88%

India: 25.48%

Italy: 37.23% – 69.13%

Germany: 70.53% – 148.32%

Republic of Korea: 12.14% – 48.61%

Switzerland: 40.53% – 115.21%

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

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

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

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

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

TOOL CHESTS FROM CHINA AND VIETNAM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW SECTION 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

COLLAPSIBLE SOCKETS FROM MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES

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

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

ROBOTIC VACUUM CLEANING DEVICES

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR MARCH 26, 2017

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP TRADE REPORT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In conclusion, the Agenda states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIGHTHIZER CONFIRMATION HEARING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERNAL ADMINISTRATION TRADE FIGHTS—NAVARRO CREATES AN INTERNAL TRADE WAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Much of Wall Street and most economists simply don’t care. But to paraphrase Mike Pence on the 2016 campaign trail, the people of Fort Wayne know better. The analysts at the Pentagon know better, too. That’s why, for both economic and national-security reasons, it is important to bring America’s trade back into balance—through free, fair and reciprocal trade.

As indicated below, however, do trade deficits justify increased US barriers to imports?  Wouldn’t a policy of making companies more competitive with imports, such as Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, explained below be a better option.  TAA does not risk retaliation from other countries.

Moreover, as stated above, focusing on trade deficits ignores the enormous increase in US exports to those countries.  Navarro focuses on a trade deficit and ignores the fact that US exports are over $1 trillion and support millions of jobs.  A trade war will cut those exports and jobs in half.  That will not make America great again.

Recently Navarro attempted to intervene in an antidumping duty case at the Commerce Department on Oil Country Tubular Goods from Korea sparking outrage from the trade lawyers representing the Korean steel mills.  Navarro should keep in mind that the Commerce Department in antidumping cases makes its decision based on the facts on the administrative record and the Commerce Department’s determinations are subject to Court review by the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  In the past, Courts have made clear that when a Government agency, such as the Commerce Department, makes a decision based on politics, that is a reason for depositions of the government official.  Navarro might be deposed in any appeal of the OCTG case to the Court.

On March 13, John Brinkley of Forbes in an article entitled, “Commerce Secretary Ross Thinks U.S. Is In A Trade War”, which also addressed Navarro’s thinking, stated:

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, responding to concerns that the Trump administration is pushing the United States toward a trade war, said we were already in one.

“We’ve been in a trade war for decades,” he said last week in an interview with Bloomberg News. “That’s why we have the (trade) deficits.”

But not to worry, Ross said. “It’s not going to be a shooting war. If people know you have the big bazooka, you probably don’t have to use it.”

That’s the Luca Brasi negotiating method: bend to our will or we’ll blow you to smithereens. Peter Navarro, the head of the White House National Trade Council, recently suggested that future trade agreements include a rule stating that they can be renegotiated any time the U.S. runs a trade deficit with the partner country. That is, to put it mildly, a non-starter.

Ross’s and Navarro’s remarks are symptomatic of the Trump administration’s singular obsession with trade deficits. However, the fact that the United States has a global trade deficit does not mean we’re in a trade war. It doesn’t mean our trading partners are cheating us any more than that we’re cheating Canada and the United Kingdom by running trade surpluses with them. It means we import more than we export. One of the reasons for that is the strength of the dollar in foreign exchange markets. A strong dollar makes imports less expensive and exports more expensive. That, in turn, leads to more choices and lower prices for American consumers.

Navarro said in a recent speech that trade surpluses were synonymous with economic growth. History suggests otherwise. The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate fell to 4.7%. The trade deficit in January (February not available yet) was $48.5 billion, the highest it’s been since March  2012.

The trade deficit decreased during the recession of 2008-09. The United States ran a trade surplus through most of the Great Depression.

Ross didn’t say who the enemy was in this supposed trade war, but President Trump has made it clear that he has it in for China and Mexico, our second and third largest trading partners, respectively. Our largest bilateral trade deficits are with those countries.

So, Trump intends to renegotiate NAFTA. And, he has threatened China with punitive tariffs. He has said doing these things would erase the U.S. trade deficit, cause a renaissance of American manufacturing jobs and bring the 3% GDP growth he promised.

They would do none of those things.

“Withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and launching trade actions against China ensure political headlines, but they will not make much difference to the global U.S. trade deficit. Nor will they bring more jobs and higher wages to U.S. workers,” said Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Euijin Jung of the Peterson Institute of International Economics in an article published in February.

They also noted that the trade deficit is financed in part by foreign direct investment, which is unquestionably beneficial to the U.S. economy. Foreign-owned companies operating in the United States directly employ 6.1 million Americans, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. FDI stock in the U.S. stands at almost $3 trillion.

One way to reduce the trade deficit would be to devalue the dollar against the Chinese yuan and other currencies.  That would be politically difficult because it’s what Trump (wrongly) accuses China of doing on a regular basis. It would also raise the prices of imported food and manufactured goods and, possibly, cause inflation. That would hurt low-income Americans the most.

A better idea would be for the Trump trade triumvirate to calculate America’s balance of trade with its 20 free trade agreement partners. They would find that we have an aggregate trade surplus with them. Maybe then they’d reconsider their plans to renegotiate or withdraw from those agreements.

If Ross thinks we’re in a trade war now, let him propose raising tariffs against Mexico and China over and above the World Trade Organization’s Most Favored Nation rates. Then, we’d be in a trade war for real.

NAVARRO’S STANDING WITH CONGRESS DROPS

On March 16th, senior trade officials from the administration, minus Robert Lighthizer, headed up to Capitol Hill to talk with members of the House Ways and Means Committee about NAFTA, among other trade topics – marking the latest step in what one administration official described as a series of ongoing consultations between the administration and Congress before the White House formally moves to reopen the agreement.

The next step will be for the administration to formally notify Congress that its NAFTA  plans to begin talks, triggering a congressionally mandated 90-day consultation period before the renegotiation can start.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that the White House hopes to send that notification letter “sometime in the next couple of weeks,” meaning formal talks are likely to begin around early summer. Ross is expected attended the March 16th meeting, as did senior members of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative including general counsel and acting USTR Stephen Vaughn, and deputy general counsel Maria Pagan.

Peter Navarro, however, did not go to the Capital Hill meeting. After a meeting with the Senate Finance Committee in February – which was described as “a disaster” – Navarro made such a poor impression that Senators viewed it as a reason for why they need to get USTR nominee Robert Lighthizer confirmed as soon as possible.  That meeting also spurred additional questions about who is really in charge on trade and led to strong reminders that USTR holds the statutory authority.

G-20 BECOMES MORE PROTECTIONIST

On March 18th, the trade protectionist rhetoric increased as it was reported that the G-20 member states dropped the no-protectionism pledge, which indicates more trade storms to come.  The G­20 is an informal forum on economic cooperation made up of 19 countries plus the European Union.  Finance ministers from the Group of 20 countries met in the southern German town of Baden­Baden and issued a statement saying only that countries “are working to strengthen the contribution of trade” to their economies.  In last yearʹs meeting under the Obama Administration, called on countries to resist “all forms” of protectionism, which can include border tariffs and rules that keep out imports to shield domestic companies from competition.

During the press conference, I was told that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was peppered with questions about the border adjustment tax.  Munchin did state that trade deals need to offer a win-win scenario and went on to state:

“We believe in free trade: we are one of the largest markets in the world, we are one of the largest trading partners in the world.  Having said that, we want to re­examine certain agreements… And to the extent that agreements are old agreements and need to be renegotiated weʹll consider that as well.”

AGRICULTURE WAKES UP BECAUSE IT REALIZES HOW MUCH IT WILL LOSE WITH A PROTECTIONIST ANTI TRADE POLICY

In the past, many reporters have asked me what could China or other countries retaliate against.  The United States does not export much.  US exports are simply too small.  In the face of large trade deficits with China, Mexico and other countries in the manufacturing area, what is the US exporting that can be a retaliation target?

US trade data indicate that US exports for 2016 were over $1 trillion.  In the Robert Lighthizer confirmation hearings, you could hear the real concern of many Senators, especially from the agriculture states, that products from their states could be retaliation targets.  Their worry is certainly justified.

As Senator Pat Roberts stated at the Lighthizer Confirmation hearings:

“I’m going to try and demonstrate that we are going through a pretty rough patch in agriculture.  If Trump makes good on his promises to turn U.S. trade policy into a war against imports, “we are going to get into a very difficult situation.”

During the Confirmation Hearing, Roberts, Grassley and other Agriculture Senators extracted a pledge from Lighthizer that in negotiating trade agreements he would push agriculture interests to the top of the list. Senators and Congressmen from Agriculture states fear that if no new trade agreements are negotiated, US agriculture will lose market share and will become the retaliation target of other countries.

Mexico, in fact, is one of the largest buyers of US corn, much of which comes from Kansas and Iowa.  US exports about $2.4 billion in corn to Mexico.  Now Mexico is talking about retaliation and buying its corn from Brazil and Argentina.  What goes around comes around.

U.S. Senators and Congressmen noticed when a Mexican lawmaker introduced legislation favoring Latin American products over American- exported corn, a key winner in Nafta. That move followed warnings from Mr. Trump that Nafta would be renegotiated and Mexico would have to pay for a new border wall.  In response, Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa stated:

“I have been worried because other countries have pushed back: ‘You want us to build a wall, well we’re not going to take your corn.’  If we’re talking about renegotiating Nafta, we actually stand to lose ground in agriculture—so we would really have to work that very, very carefully.”

On March 6th, leaders of the US Dairy industry were in Mexico to attempt and protect their exports from uncertainty over the future of NAFTA. After NAFTA was signed in 1994, American dairy exports to Mexico more than quadrupled to $1.2 billion, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all U.S. dairy exports last year. Because of Trump’s attacks on Mexico, it has encouraged Mexican importers to find other suppliers in the European Union and New Zealand, which are eager to get into the market, and in New Zealand’s case are part of the TPP.

In response to the criticism that Trump is putting his trade focus on the plight of the U.S. manufacturing sector at the expense of the export-dependent agriculture sector, on March 21st Trump pivoted to agriculture.  Sean Spicer, the President’s press secretary stated:

“While our farmers are the most efficient in the world, margins have been tightening, regulations have been multiplying, and exports, which has historically counted for over one- fifth of the U.S. farm production, have been declining due to unwise trade policies.  The President promised the many people in the agriculture industry and throughout rural America that he would not allow this to continue and he will continue to pursue policy changes that will reverse this disturbing trend.”

John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association praised the statement saying that Trump’s proclamation recognizes that “improved trade balances and a successful agriculture sector are inextricably linked.”  He further stated:

“Our industry’s exports not only deliver jobs at home, they are among America’s fundamental strengths abroad.  We are heartened to know that this White House agrees and that they will seek to increase agricultural exports as they examine existing and future trade agreements.”

Ray Starling, special assistant to the president for agriculture on the National Economic Council, recently stated at a National Ag Day event in Washington:

“The President has talked a lot about our manufacturing imbalance on trade, but that is not meant to neglect ag. That is essentially to say we know ag is doing a good job, we are making strides there, we need to do more.”

Now we have to wait and see if Trump truly means what he says or whether he wants a trade war, which will hurt US exports, especially in the agriculture area.

SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN WANT MORE TRADE DEALS–BILATERAL VERSUS MULTILATERAL DEALS

Back on January 26, 2017 in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Trump explained that he did not like multilateral trade deals, such as the TPP, because they are a mosh pit and fall to the lowest common denominator.

During his confirmation hearing, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that it easy to negotiate bilateral deals than multilateral deals.  But the question is, will it be easier to negotiate 12 bilateral deals with 12 different countries when one deal, the TPP, would have done it.  More importantly, although the US will renegotiate NAFTA and start trade deals with Japan and eventually Britain, is it truly realistic for the very small USTR to have continual negotiations with dozens of countries at the same time.  The TPP took 10 years to negotiate.  Maybe Ross is just playing a game and does not want more trade deals.

At a recent trade conference on March 13th here in Seattle held by the Washington Council on International Trade, however, it was very apparent that Washington State Congressmen, both Democrats and Republicans, want more trade deals.

At the Conference Congressman Dave Reichert, WA Republican, and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means, stated that the Trump Administration intends to do more bilateral deals.  He also stated that since NAFTA is a trilateral agreement, all three countries, Mexico, Canada and the US need to be at the table.

Reichert also stated that we cannot give up trade agreements because the cost would be too high.  China will benefit.  He also stated that the United States needs to set the international trade standards through trade agreements or China will do so and 95% of the World’s population and markets are outside US.

Reichert stated that the longer we wait to do trade deals, the more market shares we lose.  He pointed to the FTA with Korea, which dramatically reduced the 24% Korean tariff on cherries, and Washington State cheery exports doubled and Washington French Fries went up 53%.

When NAFTA took place US exports to Mexico doubled reaching $180 billion.  There is now over $500 billion in trade between US and Mexico

Following Reichert, Republican Congressman Dan Newhouse, who represents large Agricultural interests in the Center of Washington stated, “We cannot afford to waste any time as we create opportunities for local producers and exporters to gain access to new markets.”

Congressman Rick Larsen stated that the Administration has to decide whether it will do Border Adjustment taxes or trade deals.  Larsen went on to state that trade is much bigger than just agreements. It is soft power.  Asian countries see the US leading with military power, but the US relationship with the other Asian countries is less secure if the only relationship is military and not trade.

Democratic Congressman Denny Heck stated that TPP went too far too fast and was not politically possible.  Echoing Donald Trump, Heck stated that the white working man has seen no increase in income in 40 years.

But Newhouse stated that after the Korea FTA, Washington State potato growers saw an increase in exports of 670,000 tons of French Fries to Korea.  That is jobs.

On March 22nd, John Brinkley in an article entitled, Trump’s “Trade Policies Would Take From the Many and Give To a Few” points out the problem of relying only on bilateral agreements as compared to multilateral agreements:

“Politics can be defined as taking something from someone and giving it to someone else. Done right, the winners outnumber the losers and the sacrifice will have been worthwhile.

This seems lost on the Trump administration, whose trade proposals are likely to create a lot more losers than winners.

Let’s start with his plan to eschew multilateral trade agreements and negotiate only bilateral ones. With a multilateral agreement, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, all parties play by the same rules. That means exporters don’t have to figure out what the rules of origin are country-by- country. They’re all the same.

Deciphering and complying with rules of origin under a free trade agreement are among the most difficult and time-consuming chores that exporting companies have to perform. If the rule says 70 percent of a truck’s parts have to have been made in the United States, the company has to go to its suppliers and say, where did the door handles come from? Where did the tires come from?

A lot of smaller companies find it isn’t worth the time and expense, so they ship the product and pay the tariff. Or they don’t export at  all.

Having a series of bilateral agreements makes it even harder, because each agreement would have its own rules of origin. American manufacturers were looking forward to ratification of the TPP, because it was to be a 12-country trading bloc with one set of rules. But Trump withdrew the United States from it.

Renegotiating NAFTA is another idea that would take from the many for the benefit of a few.

Breaking up NAFTA and negotiating separate bilateral agreements with Mexico and Canada would be even worse. U.S. Trade Representative nominee Robert Lighthizer said during his Senate confirmation hearing that the administration might take that course.

NAFTA has been in effect for 23 years. Whatever impacts it had on American employment and economic growth are well in the past. If you look under NAFTA’s hood, you see a complex network of supply chains crossing the three countries’ borders. They make it easy and cost-effective for American manufacturers to buy parts from Mexico or Canada and have them delivered quickly and duty-free.

About half of Mexico’s exports to the United States are parts for products that are built here – car parts, electronic components and so  on.

Making those parts more expensive would make the products they go into more expensive and would reduce the importing companies’ revenues, leading to lay-offs or worse. That is basic economics.

Trump said yesterday that renegotiating NAFTA was “going to be an easy one.” Everyone who has ever been a trade negotiator probably got a chuckle out of that. . .. .

“The United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years, and that’s going to stop,” he said last week during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Poor little us. We’re being pushed around by those mean bullies from South Korea and Mexico.

Nonetheless, the U.S. and global economies have been growing at a healthy pace. The U.S. unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, about as low as it can go, and median wages have finally started to increase for the first time since the recession of 2008.

This seems to call for an economic policy of caution and restraint to keep the recovery going rather than taking a machete to our trade agreements and punishing our trading partners for transgressions they have not committed.

That would harm vastly more Americans than it would help.

On February 28th, however, it was reported that the EU expects the Trump Administration to negotiate with the entire block as EU countries pushed back on Trump’s bilateral dreams.  European countries in the EU bloc have been unified against the Trump administration’s reported attempts to bring individual EU countries into direct, bilateral trade deals with the U.S. The EU ambassador at a recent National Press Club meeting stated that bilateral deals are “nonsense”.  David O’ Sullivan stated:

“It’s nonsense to talk about bilateral deals with countries that are part of a single market.  Would American companies really want 28 separate FTAs?”

In Germany, Martin Schäfer, spokesperson for the German foreign ministry, stated:

“The [European] Commission carries out trade negotiations and concludes trade agreements for Europe and for us. This is the legal status, about which we have nothing critical to say.  The new political constellation in the U.S. and elsewhere should not tempt anybody to take up a different position.”

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom also stated recently:

“The U.S. administration seems to favor bilateral relations over multilateralism. And some of the proposals we have seen floated, such as a border adjustment tax, could be at odds with WTO rules. Countries should be able to protect themselves from distortions and unfair trade practices. But that has to be done within the framework of the WTO. Global rules mean everyone playing fair, by a consistent, predictable and transparent rulebook.

In an age when some want to rebuild walls, re-impose barriers, restrict people’s freedom to move … we stand open to progressive trade with the world.”

On March 6th, a top European official stated that U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist stance may propel Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American economic powers into market-opening alliances with the European Union.  Jyrki Katainen, a vice president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said Trump’s rejection of multilateral commercial deals and border-tax threat are giving impetus to the 28-nation bloc’s push for free- trade or investment pacts with countries including Japan, China, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

Katainen stated that:

“When there has been some signals to raise protectionism, especially from the U.S. side, the rest of the world seems to be fighting back and saying that this is not our line, this is something which we don’t want. This is music to our ears.”

The comments signal that Trump’s “America First” approach that seeks to reduce the U.S.’s $502 billion trade deficit may be as much an opportunity as a threat to the EU.

Recently, the US equipment manufacturing industry, which supports more than 1.3 million jobs, expressed its concern about exports.  A report by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers stated that about 30 percent of the construction equipment and about 30 percent of the agricultural equipment manufactured in the United States is designated for export – and would therefore be hit hardest by any slowdown in global trade:

“Slow international growth combined with uncertainty about trading rules under the Trump administration could act as a drag on the equipment manufacturing industry’s overall performance.  Any steps the Trump administration might take to revisit or exit existing trade agreements could further complicate the challenging economic environment outside the United States.

It is difficult to precisely forecast how the Trump administration might rewrite existing trading rules, but any steps that make it more difficult for manufacturers to export their products could hinder growth in the industry.”

TPP CONTINUES WITHOUT THE US

On March 14th Government officials from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership nations minus the United States held a two-day summit in Chile to discuss a path forward on trade following the US decision to withdraw from the TPP.

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay stated:

“I have recently visited Australia, Japan, Singapore and Mexico, met with ministers from Brunei and Malaysia and talked directly with trade ministers from all other TPP countries.  It is clear our partners remain committed to the benefits high quality trade agreements provide.”

Even though the TPP requires that at least six countries composing at least 85 percent of the entire TPP’s collective economic production, with the US withdrawal, the other 11 countries have decided to move forward with the TPP.  As Wendy Cutler, a former trade negotiator at USTR, stated:

“A TPP agreement without the U.S. is still relevant and would have significant economic value.  You’d still have four of the world’s 20 largest economies — Japan, Canada, Australia, and Mexico — alongside significant emerging economies, like Vietnam and Malaysia.”

In other words, other countries will replace US exports in those markets because they will have the benefit of the TPP.

After the meeting in Chile, Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo stated:

“I was particularly pleased there was continuing movement on the TPP.  Countries remain committed to exploring all the avenues and opportunities in relation to the TPP. There was broad agreement on the high level of ambition in the TPP being a benchmark and something we shouldn’t just let slip away.”

Japanese State Minister Takao Ochi stated:

“As long as Japan is concerned we don’t want to exclude any possible ways and we would like to take initiative in discussing with each of the member countries.”

The 11 countries will now work to preserve the trade deal’s innovations, which included new rules on digital trade, disciplines for state-owned companies and what have been touted as the toughest labor and environment protections of any modern trade agreement. The innovations also include new market access that countries negotiated on everything from milk powder to insurance services.

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES

As stated in my last newsletters, the big issue in the trade area right now is border adjustment taxes and tax reform.  New Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says tax reform will take place in August 2017 and it is a priority for the Trump Administration.  Part of that reform is Border Adjustment Taxes (“BAT”).  See http://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/2017/02/23/treasury-secretary-mnuchin-lays-out-aggressive-timeline-for-tax-reform.html.  As Mnuchin states, a US deficit of $20 trillion, which was doubled by President Obama, is a concern, but more important is economic growth, which will result in more tax revenue.  To get economic growth, taxes and regulations have to be cut.

But with the failure of Obamacare in the House, taxes, including border adjustment taxes, move to the front of the Congressional calendar.  Trump and Republicans in the Congress, especially the House, appear to be moving ahead with an alternative to tariffs to spur US manufacturing and that is taxes.  There is now an attempt in Congress to give American-made products a big tax advantage over their foreign competitors through border adjustment taxes, and, in effect, counter the value added taxes used in other countries to deter imports.  As Kevin Brady, Chairman of House Ways and Means, argues, almost 80% of countries border adjust their taxes.  That includes Mexico, Canada, China, and the European countries, putting US exports at a substantial disadvantage.  For Brady’s argument, see videos at the following links, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yYHGoFmNEk&feature=youtu.be and

https://waysandmeans.house.gov/icymi-chairman-brady-cnbc-makes-case-ending-made-america-export-tax/.

Under a border adjustment tax (“BAT”), a 20% tax would be applied against all domestic products and imported products.  But the domestic producer would be allowed to deduct all the domestic costs associated with producing that product.  Thus if a $100 product was produced in the US, the domestic producer could deduct $70 in costs, resulting in a 20% tax on $30 or a $6 tax.  But there would be no deduction of domestic costs for a $100 import resulting in a 20% tax on the full $100 or a $20 tax, giving the domestic product a 14% tax advantage.  The BAT would not apply to exports.

This proposal has welled up from the House of Representatives and is strongly supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Chairman of House Ways and Means, Kevin Brady.  Their argument is that border adjustment tax is needed to offset value added taxes in other countries.  Brady argues that the BAT is the only way to end the “Made in America” tax.

One example given is that if an automobile is produced in the US and exported to Mexico, a 35% corporate tax is levied on the profits of the US automaker and then the US automobile is hit with a 16% value added tax when it comes into Mexico.  On the other hand, when an automobile is produced in Mexico for shipment to the US, there is no corporate tax on the export and no corresponding tax in the US on the Mexican export to the US.  In effect, Ryan and Brady argue that this is a tremendous incentive to move manufacturing out of the United States to countries with value added taxes, such as Mexico, China, Canada, EU and many other countries.

Border adjustments serve as a way to level the playing field and alter value-added consumption taxes many countries, including European countries, Mexico, Canada and China, impose on each stage of production, as products are sold internationally.  Proponents argue that the BAT is not trade policy and does not favor exports over imports.  To see the companies that have VAT taxes in place, see the Ways and Means website at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/ending-made-america-tax-three-major- wins-american-people/.

The Trade War in the Administration on border adjustment taxes has become clear as Bannon, Navarro and others are in favor, but Cohn and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin are opposed.  Wilbur Ross is on the fence.  Trump himself has not taken a position.

On March 25th During a morning interview, Mnuchin said he had been overseeing work on the administration’s tax bill over the past two months and it would be introduced soon. He said the goal was still to win Congressional approval of the tax measure by August. But if the timeline is delayed, he said he expected the proposal to pass by the fall.  Mnuchin did not reveal whether the administration will include the Border Adjustment tax.

On March 9th Bloomberg reported that the BAT is in deep trouble.  The BAT is important because it is expected to raise more than $1 trillion in revenue, which would offset the cut to corporate tax rates:

Companies that rely heavily on exports, such as Boeing Co. and Oracle Corp., love the plan—for obvious reasons. Beyond profits, they also say a BAT would make American manufacturers more competitive by putting them on equal footing with foreign competitors around the world.

Importers hate the BAT. Big retailers such as Walmart Stores Inc. and Best Buy Co. contend that border adjustments will dent profit margins and force them to raise prices on everything from avocados and furniture to Nike shoes and French cheese. In a Feb. 28 letter to congressional leaders, the Americans for Affordable Products coalition said the tax would raise consumer costs “by as much as $1,700” in the first year. . . .

Companies are taking their message to consumers. In late February the National Retail Federation, which opposes the BAT, started airing TV commercials that parody an OxiClean infomercial, telling shoppers that “the all-new BAT tax is specially designed to make your disposable income—disappear!” Proponents, through the American Made Coalition that includes Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Inc., launched a Twitter feed to support the tax. Both sides have created Facebook pages and websites with auto-form letters that viewers can send to Congress. Both, too, routinely pepper media outlets with press releases citing prominent people in the private sector and academia who either love or hate it.

As Bloomberg further states in Congress the BAT is running into opposition from Republicans:

A core group of House Republicans has come out in recent weeks against the BAT, citing the higher prices they’d inflict on consumers. Republican Senate support is in doubt, too. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Walmart’s home state of Arkansas, told a Senate floor session on Feb. 15 that border adjustments are “a theory wrapped in speculation inside a guess.” The next day, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said, “The hard reality is the border tax is on life support.”

But as Bloomberg further states:

“Ryan and Brady aren’t backing down. Without border adjustments, they say, their plan to rewrite the tax code can’t happen. That $1.1 trillion in revenue is crucial to the politics of the BAT, since it helps keep it deficit- neutral, a prerequisite for passing a tax bill through the Senate without Democratic votes. “What it boils down to is that it’s a way to pay for the rest of the tax plan,” says Veronique de Rugy, an economist at George Mason University. “Only revenue comes from this feature—economic growth doesn’t.” That $1 trillion is also crucial to how the BAT might affect the economy. Says Ross, “That is way too big a number to get wrong.”

EUROPE, THE WTO AND CHINA

Meanwhile, other countries are lining up to retaliate if the BAT is passed.  On February 28th, it was reported that the EU is preparing a legal challenge against Donald Trump’s US border tax plan in what could be biggest trade dispute in a century.  Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission’s Vice President, told the newspaper: “If someone is behaving against our interests or against international rules in trade then we have our own mechanisms to react.”  He said the EU was seeking to avoid a potential trade war with the US as it would be “disastrous” for the world economy.

“We have all the legal arrangements within the EU but we are also part of global arrangements like the WTO and we want to respect the global rule base when it comes to trade.”

One WTO trade dispute expert estimated that a defeat in such a case could see around $385bn a year in trade retaliation against the US.  Volker Kauder, parliamentary floor leader of Merkel’s conservatives, also recently stated:

“If Donald Trump imposes punitive tariffs on German and European products, then Europe should also impose punitive tariffs on U.S. products.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has been seeking advice from think tanks and policy advisers on how to retaliate against trade penalties imposed by the US.  China’s strongest responses would likely include finding alternative suppliers of agricultural products, machinery and manufactured goods, and reducing the number of consumer goods like cellphones and laptops that it exports to the United States. Other possibilities could include levying a tax or other penalty on major U.S. companies that do business in China or restricting access to the country’s services sector.

NAFTA RENEGOTIATION

The first trade agreement, which the Trump Administration will negotiate is NAFTA.  President Trump has already formally notified both Canada and Mexico that he intends to renegotiate NAFTA.  The negotiations will probably start sometime this summer.

On March 12, 2017, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that the Trump administration has yet to determine what the trade agreement replacing NAFTA will look like.  As Ross stated:

“One size doesn’t fit all.  The issues of automotive are not the same as the issues of agriculture; they’re not the same as the issues of electronics, or steel. It’s a very, very complicated situation. So it’s very hard to paint just with one big broad brush.”

On March 16, 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau stated:

“NAFTA’s been … improved a dozen times over the past 20 years. There’s always opportunities to talk about how we can make it better. It has led to a lot of great jobs for a whole lot of people on both sides of the border and I very much take him [Trump] at his word when he talks about just making a few tweaks. Because that’s what we’re always happy to do.

“We’ve got auto parts crisscrossing the border six times before they end up in a finished product. You’ve got over $2 billion a day going back and forth. So, making sure that the border is … secure but also smooth in its flow of goods and people is essential to good jobs on both sides of the border.”

Meanwhile, there are a number of meetings between US, Canadian and Mexican officials preparing for the NAFTA negotiations.

On March 21st, the Trump administration created the attached list, KEY ELEMENTS, of more than 20 foreign trade practices it would like to address in a renegotiation of NAFTA and in any bilateral trade deal it might pursue.  The list includes relatively new areas like foreign currency manipulation, where achieving agreement could be difficult, but also a host of others like intellectual protection that have long been mainstays in U.S. trade agreements.  Payne Griffin, deputy chief of staff at the Office of U.S. Trade Representative, stated:

“These are market problems that the administration has identified either through vigorous consultations with Congress or their own internal research.  It is a non-exhaustive list of things that may be addressed in these bilateral trade agreements.”

CHINA NONMARKET ECONOMY

China has initiated a mandatory 60-day consultation period with both economies before deciding to request a dispute settlement panel to hear its complaint.  China has now decided to only target the EU, which is in the process of trying to change antidumping methodology. Brussels is trying to come up with a new way of treating China under its trade remedy law while still recognizing that Beijing intervenes heavily in its economy.

The United States has said it would only consider a change in response to a formal request from China to be treated as a market economy, something it has not done since 2006.

Apparently, China is trying a strategy of ‘divide and conquer’.  Take on the EU first, because it is already revising its law and they might get a good WTO decision, then face the tougher battle against the U.S.”

MORE TRADE CASES COMING

A law firm that specializes in bringing antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) trade cases recently told me that they are in the process of preparing a number of new cases against China and other countries.  With a sympathetic Trump Administration and a very sympathetic Wilbur Ross as the new Secretary of Commerce, more cases are going to be filed.

ALUMINUM FOIL FROM CHINA

On March 9, 2017, the US Aluminum Foil Trade Enforcement Working Group, including Aleris Inc., Alpha Aluminum, Golden Aluminum, Granges Americas Inc., JW Aluminum Company, Novelis Corporation, Republic Foil Inc., Reynolds Consumer Products, and United Aluminum Corporation, filed major AD and CVD cases against more than $658 million of aluminum foil imports from China in 2016.

The petition alleges duties ranging from at a minimum of 38 percent to a high of 134 percent and targets 232 Chinese exporters and producers of aluminum foil.  The aluminum foil covered by the complaint covers household aluminum foil as well as aluminum foil used in cookware, product packaging and heat exchangers found in cars and HVAC systems.

US importers can be liable for CVD duties on aluminum foil imports from China as soon as August 6, 2017 and AD duties on October 5, 2017.

Attached are the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese exporters/producers and US importers, 2017.03.08 CHN-ALUMINUM FOIL Petition Vol I 1Narrative IMPORTERNAMES.  If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.

SILICON METAL FROM AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, KAZAKHSTAN AND NORWAY

Although the US industry may believe AD and CVD petitions will move the Chinese imports share to the US industry, that is not necessarily the case.  Case in point, on March 8, 2016, Globe Specialty Metals Inc. filed major AD and CVD cases against imports of Silicon Metal from Australia, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Norway.  Chinese silicon metal has been under an AD order with shut out rates since 1991.

Attached are the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted foreign exporters/producers and US importers, SMALL SILICON METAL PETITION.

The first hearing at the ITC is March 29th.  Commerce will issue questionnaires probably in the first week of April.  Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the Countervailing Duty cases, which is when liability for importers begins, can happen as soon as August.

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

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

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

Previous newsletters stated Wilbur Ross has made it very clear to reach the 3% plus growth rate, the US must increase exports.  Yet, at the same time, the Trump Administrations keeps concentrating on deficits and accusing foreign governments of treating US companies unfairly.  Trump and his Administration do not look internally and try to find ways to make the US companies more competitive, which will not create a trade war.

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

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

Right now the total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $12.5 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget.  Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.

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

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

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

With the election of Donald Trump, as stated in my last blog post, the Universal Trade War will continue.  In addition to the US bringing AD and CVD cases, countries around the World, such as EC, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Thailand, South Africa, and Vietnam, all are filing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against each other and the United States.  These countries have adopted the US law which finds dumping in 90% of the cases.  The US and the EC have created a Frankenstein in the antidumping law and the whole World has adopted it.

Compromise is the best way to settle trade disputes, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to settle US antidumping and other trade cases.  What is “fair” trade for the United States is “fair” trade for every other country.  Many countries want to make their industries Great again.

Because of this situation, this part of the newsletter will concentrate on trade cases in other countries and how other countries see the trade problem with the United States.  It will also discuss potential US exports that can be retaliation targets.

MEXICO

On March 6, 2017, Alexandro N. Gomez-Stozzi, a Mexican trade lawyer, at the Gardere firm in Mexico City sent me the following summary of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Investigations in Mexico:

Mexican Antidumping and Countervailing (AD/CVD) Investigation Procedures Factsheet

  • AD/CVD investigations in Mexico may take from 12 to 18 months as of the publication in the Diario Oficial regarding the initiation of investigation. Terms within the investigative process may be extended with cause, at the discretion of the authority. Investigations are generally conducted as follows (variation of a chart created by Mexican authorities):
  • There is a single investigating authority, the Ministry of Economy´s International Trade Practices Unit (known by its Spanish acronym UPCI, for Unidad de Prácticas Comerciales Internacionales). UPCI makes all relevant findings: (i) dumping or countervailing, (ii) material injury or threat thereof and (iii) causation. Final AD/CVD orders are signed by the Minister of Economy; although informally, trade policy considerations in other sectors come into play before deciding to issue an AD/CVD order. UPCI is also in charge of safeguard investigations.  
  • Investigations are usually requested by Mexican producers representing at least 25% of the total production, although UPCI may initiate investigations if it deems so appropriate.
  • Exporters and importers of affected goods are strongly encouraged to retain Mexican counsel, as all appearances have to be made in Spanish and a domestic service address has to be designated.
  • When issuing a preliminary determination, the authority may: (1) impose a preliminary AD/CVD duty and continue with investigation, (2) continue the investigation without an AD/CVD duty, or (3) terminate the investigation on insufficient evidence grounds.
  • In its final determination, the authority may (i) confirm or modify its preliminary determination to impose an AD/CVD duty, or (2) declare the investigation concluded without imposing an AD/CVD duty. Under stringent circumstances, final determinations may impose retroactive duties for up to three months from date of publication of the preliminary determination.
  • During the course of an investigation, Mexican law allows for interested parties to ask UPCI to convene conciliatory meetings, at which proposals may be presented to resolve the case and terminate the investigation. These proceedings coexist with Antidumping Agreement´s price undertakings.
  • AD/CVD orders remain in effect for 5 years. They may be renewed for similar periods when warranted after a sunset review which covers both dumping (or countervailing) and injury.  Circumvention, actual coverage of AD/CVD orders, and similar proceedings can also be initiated as long as orders are in effect.
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)´s Antidumping and Subsidies Agreements are applied as is in Mexican investigation proceedings. Mexican trade-remedy law and regulations may sometimes be contradictory with WTO agreements; in case of conflict, the WTO Agreements would prevail in court.

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law, Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.09.

CFIUS—WILL INVESTMENT RECIPROCITY BE A NEW REQUIREMENT??

There is movement within the United States to establish investment reciprocity as a criteria in investigations by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States into its national security reviews of inbound transactions, a policy shift that would weigh the heaviest on Chinese buyers if enacted.

Investment reciprocity — the idea that the U.S. should block a foreign entity’s investment in a particular industry when a U.S. buyer would be similarly blocked in that entity’s country — has been on politicians’ radar since before Donald Trump took office.

Trump made no secret of his leanings on the campaign trail, criticizing in particular a Chinese investment group’s acquisition of the 130-year-old Chicago Stock Exchange, a deal that has since been cleared by CFIUS.

If the U.S. does decide to go this route, there are at least a couple ways the government could go about it. The President could direct CFIUS to focus more heavily on particular industries or use a broader definition of national security, as long as those directives don’t stray too far from the regulations dictated by the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007, or FINSA. Congress can also amend FINSA to expand either the range of industries susceptible to national security review, or even expand the review itself from one focused solely on national security to a review that more broadly considers foreign investments in the U.S.

CHINESE MILITARY BUILDUP TO PROTECT ITS TRADE INTERESTS???

As mentioned in prior blog posts, there is a close relationship between defense/security and trade.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was created, in part, by the US naval embargo of Japan.

One of the strongest arguments for the Trans Pacific Partnership was the geo-political argument that the TPP would bring us closer to the Asian countries.  Former defense secretary Ash Carter stated at one point that the TPP was equivalent to another US aircraft carrier.

On March 15, 2017, Malia Zimmerman for Fox News in an article entitled “China next US threat? Beijing beefs up military to protect trade”, stated:

With a laser-like focus on protecting its lifeblood – trade – China is dramatically altering its military operations, creating specialized teams that can protect its maritime resources, routes and territorial expansion plans. . . .

Harry Kazianis, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Defense Studies for The Center for the National Interest, stated:

“The great Achilles heel of China is trade—especially natural resources that come via sea and into its ports—and a big reason it will inevitably become a globally deployed military power. Beijing’s armed forces are working to slowly but surely reinforce and protect its overseas hubs as well as trade routes that move from Europe, the Middle East and Africa and into China’s territorial waters.”

ZTE HIT WITH SANCTIONS FOR VIOLATING EXPORT CONTROLS ACT

On March 7, 2007, in a notice and judgement, which will be attached to my blog, judgment 3-22ZTE Corporation Agrees to Plead Guilty and Pay Over $430, the US Justice Department announced that ZTE Corp, has agreed to plead guilty and pay a combined a penalty of $1.1.9 billion for violating U.S. sanctions by sending U.S.-origin items to Iran.  As the Justice Department notice states:

ZTE Corporation has agreed to enter a guilty plea and to pay a $430,488,798 penalty to the U.S. for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by illegally shipping U.S.-origin items to Iran, obstructing justice and making a material false statement. ZTE simultaneously reached settlement agreements with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In total ZTE has agreed to pay the U.S. Government $892,360,064. The BIS has suspended an additional $300,000,000, which ZTE will pay if it violates its settlement agreement with the BIS. . . .

“ZTE Corporation not only violated export controls that keep sensitive American technology out of the hands of hostile regimes like Iran’s – they lied to federal investigators and even deceived their own counsel and internal investigators about their illegal acts,” said Attorney General Sessions. “This plea agreement holds them accountable, and makes clear that our government will use every tool we have to punish companies who would violate our laws, obstruct justice and jeopardize our national security.  . . .”

“ZTE engaged in an elaborate scheme to acquire U.S.-origin items, send the items to Iran and mask its involvement in those exports. The plea agreement alleges that the highest levels of management within the company approved the scheme. ZTE then repeatedly lied to and misled federal investigators, its own attorneys and internal investigators. Its actions were egregious and warranted a significant penalty,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “The enforcement of U.S. export control and sanctions laws is a major component of the National Security Division’s commitment to protecting the national security of the United States. Companies that violate these laws – including foreign companies – will be investigated and held to answer for their actions.”

“ZTE Corporation not only violated our export control laws but, once caught, shockingly resumed illegal shipments to Iran during the course of our investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Parker. “ZTE Corporation then went to great lengths to devise elaborate, corporate-wide schemes to hide its illegal conduct, including lying to its own lawyers.”

“The plea agreement in this case shows ZTE repeatedly violated export controls and illegally shipped U.S. technology to Iran,” said Assistant Director Priestap. “The company also took extensive measures to hide what it was doing from U.S. authorities. This case is an excellent example of cooperation among multiple

U.S. agencies to uncover illegal technology transfers and make those responsible pay for their actions.”

The plea agreement, which is contingent on the court’s approval, also requires ZTE to submit to a three- year period of corporate probation, during which time an independent corporate compliance monitor will review and report on ZTE’s export compliance program. ZTE is also required to cooperate fully with the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding any criminal investigation by U.S. law enforcement authorities.  . . .”

According to David Laufman, chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the DOJ’s National Security Division, it was “extraordinarily difficult” to obtain key documents and witnesses located in China until on March 7, 2016, the Commerce decision to add ZTE to the so-called Entity List.  According to Laufman, “The game-changing event in this case, was the Commerce Department’s decision to pursue an entity listing of ZTE, demonstrating the efficacy of the whole-of- government approach” to national security.

Companies end up on the Entity List after Commerce determines they are tied to illicit weapons programs, terrorism or other national security threats, and thereafter can’t trade with U.S. companies without a special dispensation from the agency.

This may be the first case in which the Commerce Department has used an Entity List designation to force a foreign company to cooperate in a probe.  Commerce will probably start using this strategy in future investigations.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

DOMESTIC INDUSTRY FROM PATENT LICENSEE

On March 8, 2017, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) issued the attached interesting decision, 2 PAGE ONE PAGE DI, in the Section 337 case Certain Silicon-On-Insulator Wafers.  In that decision, the ITC Administrative Law Judge determined that it could find a domestic industry in a Section 337 if the US patent licensee’s activities show domestic activity.  Even though the patent holder was a non-practicing entity, the ALJ determined:

Silicon Genesis Corporation (“SiGen”), has established contingently a domestic industry in the United States through the activities of its licensee, SunEdison Semiconductor Limited (“SunEdison”) . . . through its licensee, SunEdison, SiGen has proven by a preponderance of evidence that it has made a significant domestic investment in plant and equipment, in capital and labor, and a substantial investment in research and development to produce certain silicon-on-insulator (“SOI”) products at issue in this Investigation.

The decision did not break new ground, but it reminds nonpracticing entities, (“NPEs”) that one way to meet the domestic industry requirement under Section 337 is through the actions of patent licensee in the United States.

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

On March 10, 2017, in the attached ITC notice, Intravascular Sets, Curlin Medical, Inc., Moog, Inc., and Zevex, Inc. filed a section 337 case against imports of Intravascular Administration Sets from Yangzhou WeiDeLi Trade Co., Ltd., China.

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, border adjustment taxes, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–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

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

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

Before the vote, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JUNE 23, 2015 UPDATE

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

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

After winning the procedural vote today, Senator McConnell stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As one article on Capitalism states:

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

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

The State Department itself states on its website:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MAY 27 UPDATE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TPA UPDATE—LATEST NEWS FROM THE HOUSE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER MAY 27, 2015

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Also see speech by Senator Hatch at minute 40 at this link http://www.c-span.org/video/?325918-9/senators-mcconnell-reid-wyden-hatch-cornyn-trade-promotion-authority to get a better idea of what is going on. Senator Hatch described currency manipulation as “a killer amendment” to the TPA. See also Senator Hatch speech on the floor below.

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

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

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

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

TRADE

STEEL TRADE CASES ARE COMING

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

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

The announcement for the hearing described it as follows:

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

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

Mario Longhi of US Steel stated:

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

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

That pledge resulted in the proposed changes to the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty laws in the Customs Enforcement Bill formally entitled ‘‘Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015’’Act, which passed the Senate. That Bill is the one that includes the Currency Manipulation provision.

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

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

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

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

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

Against China, it is easy to bring steel trade cases because Commerce does not use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping. But when actual prices and costs are used against market economy countries, such as Korea, it is a much bigger problem.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COURT OF APPEALS RULES AGAINST CHINA IN GPX CASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AMERICAN LAWYER ARTICLE ABOUT US TRADE ACTIONS AGAINST CHINA

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

STAINLESS STEEL SINKS

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

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

BOLTLESS STEEL SHELVING

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

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

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

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

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

SOLAR PRODUCTS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY ORDERS

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

MAY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

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

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE POLITICS AND TRADE AGREEMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But then came the November 4th Republican wave election changing Trade Politics dramatically in Washington DC. Elections have consequences and in 2015 Republicans have taken the Senate and increased their numbers in House. The TPA Bill has now passed the Senate. The Title of the Bill is the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, which is posted above. The short tile of the bill is the Trade Act of 2015. The bill has been revised on the Senate Floor to add Trade Adjustment Assistance and a currency amendment, which are set forth above.

There are changes in the bill as compared to original 2014 Bill to increase transparency, but the major objective of the two bills is the same. The TPA bill gives the Administration, USTR and the President, Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority so that if and when USTR negotiates a trade deal in the TPP or the Trans-Atlantic negotiations, the Agreement will get an up or down vote in the US Congress with no amendments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The arithmetic is straightforward.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TPA: Good for the Farm and Ranch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith echoed this sentiment:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On holding the administration accountable:

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

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

“[W]e think we have done this in the right way, and the president has to go out and get the right kind of an agreement. We want to open our dairy markets. We want to open our agriculture markets, our manufacturing. Here’s the deal . … We already give these countries—in this particular case I’m talking about Asia, non-China Asian countries—we already give them pretty good access to our country. Just walk into Wal-Mart or Farm & Fleet or wherever you go, and you’ll see a bunch of goods made in Asian countries. The problem is they don’t give us the same kind of access to their markets. So what we’re trying to get here is the same kind of access to their markets that they have to ours and to give us zero tariffs.”

In response to the TPA movement, however, on April 28th, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka repeated labor’s stance against TPA, TPP and all free trade agreements:

“All across the country, workers are leading a fierce and broad social movement to defeat fast track. We are rebelling against corporate-written free trade agreements — and we are succeeding.”

The labor movement opposes fast-track. We expect those who seek to lead our nation forward to oppose fast-track. There is no middle ground … [and] in the 2016 campaign, there will be no place to hide for those who aspire to lead America.”

On April 30th Paul Ryan issued another press release from the House Ways and Means Committee stating that the way to hold President Obama accountable is TPA:

The bottom line is, TPA will make the trade negotiations much more transparent and hold the president accountable. Here are the top eight ways TPA will empower Congress:

  • Read the negotiating text

Right now, nothing requires the administration to allow a member of Congress to read the negotiating text of an agreement. But under TPA, every member will be able to read the text of the agreement all throughout the talks.

  1. Receive up-to-date briefings

Sometimes, reading the text isn’t enough. A member of Congress wants to know where the talks are headed. TPA will require the U.S. trade representative’s (USTR) office to brief any member who asks on the status of the negotiations.

  1. Attend negotiating rounds

If that’s not enough, how about actually attending the talks? Under TPA, any interested member will be able to become a “congressional adviser” to U.S. negotiators. All designated congressional advisers will be able to attend negotiating rounds.

  1. Consult with negotiators

TPA will also create House and Senate Advisory Groups on Negotiations to oversee the talks and receive regular briefings, according to a fixed timetable. Any member will be able to submit his or her views to the group.

  1. Provide public summaries

Right now, there’s little public information about how an agreement is shaping up. TPA will require USTR to post up-to-date summaries of each chapter of the agreement so people can see what’s up.

  1. Create a new transparency officer

TPA will create a chief transparency officer at USTR that will consult with Congress and the public on transparency policies.

  1. Make the text public

The ultimate judge is the American people, so they should be able to read the text themselves. For the first time ever, TPA will codify in law the public’s right to review the agreement before the President puts his signature on it. TPA will require the administration to publish the text of a completed trade agreement at least 60 days before agreeing to it. That’s even before Congress considers a vote.

  1. Tell Congress how he will implement the agreement

Finally, at least 30 days before Congress considers the final bill, the president must tell Congress how he intends to enact the agreement if Congress passes the implementing bill.

All of these tools will shed greater light on the negotiations. We need them to get the most effective trade deals possible. We need them to hold the president accountable. And that’s why we need to establish TPA.

Meanwhile on May 5, 2015, Senator Harry Reed announced that he would convince his fellow Democrats to hold off on a TPA vote until the passage of highway infrastructure funding and surveillance legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, rejected the Reid motion and pushed on.

On May 6, 2015, a Press Release from the House Ways and Means Committee stated:

Opponents of free trade agreements are raising a stink about transparency in trade negotiations. But the truth is, if they really want to shed light on the negotiations, the best thing they can do is pass trade promotion authority (TPA). . . .

Most notably, TPA requires the president to make public the text of a trade agreement at least 60 days before he finalizes it. And at least 30 days before he submits an implementing bill to Congress, the president must send the final legal text of the agreement and a description of how he proposes to implement the agreement. So long before the agreement comes up for a vote, the American people will have plenty of time to read and debate it. . . .

So, question: How can we make trade negotiations more transparent?

Answer: Pass TPA.

On May 8th, a bipartisan collection of former US defense secretaries, including Harold Brown, William S. Cohen, Robert M. Gates, Chuck Hagel, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Donald H. Rumsfeld along with well-known Generals, such as General David H. Petraeus and General Colin Powell, called for passage of TPA, stating:

We write to express our strongest possible support for the enactment of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which is critical to the successful conclusion of two vital trade agreements: the . . . TPP . . . and the TTIP.

While the economic benefits of both these agreements would be substantial, as former Secretaries of Defense and military leaders we believe there is an equally compelling strategic rationale for TPP and TTIP.

First and foremost, the conclusion of these agreements would be a powerful symbol of continued U.S. leadership and engagement globally. They would reinforce relationships with important allies and partners in critical regions of the world. By binding us closer together with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Australia, among others, TPP would strengthen existing and emerging security relationships in the Asia-Pacific, and reassure the region of America’s long-term staying power. In Europe, TTIP would reinvigorate the transatlantic partnership and send an equally strong signal about the commitment of the United States to our European allies.

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

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

The stakes are clear. There are tremendous strategic benefits to TPP and TTIP, and there would be harmful strategic consequences if we fail to secure these agreements. In both Asia-Pacific and the Atlantic, our allies and partners would question our commitments, doubt our resolve, and inevitably look to other partners. America’s prestige, influence, and leadership are on the line. With TPP originating in the Bush administration, these agreements are fundamentally bipartisan in nature and squarely in our national security interest. It is vitally important that we seize the new strategic opportunities these agreements offer our nation.

Despite criticism from fellow Democrats, on May 8, 2015, President Obama responded to the Democratic critics of the TPA bill at Nike’s headquarters in Oregon, home state for Senator Ron Wyden, stating:

“Vietnam would actually for the first time have to raise its labor standards. It would have to set a minimum wage. It would have to pass safe workplace laws to protect its workers. It would even have to protect workers’ freedom to form unions for the very first time. That would make a difference.”

On May 22, 2015, just prior to the passage of the TPA, on the Senate Floor Senator Orrin Hatch, in the attached speech, HATCH SPEECH ON CURRENCY MANIPULATION responded to the attempt to amend the TPA bill and add the Currency Amendment of Senators Portman and Stabenow.  Senator Hatch stated in part:

Mr. President, I want to take some time today to talk about proposals to include a currency manipulation negotiating objective in trade negotiations and the impact this issue is having on the debate over renewing Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA.

Currency manipulation has, for many, become the primary issue in the TPA debate. . . .However, I want to be as plain as I can be on this issue: While currency manipulation is an important issue, it is inappropriate and counterproductive to try to solve this problem solely through free trade agreements.

Nonetheless, I do not believe we should ignore currency manipulation, which is why, for the very first time, our TPA bill would elevate currency practices to a principal negotiation objective. This is important. It means that, if the administration fails to make progress in achieving this or any other objectives laid out in the bill, then the relevant trade agreement is subject to a procedural disapproval resolution . . . .

Of course, I understand that a number of my colleagues want to see more prescriptive language, which would limit the range of tools available and require that trade sanctions be used to keep monetary policies in line. . . .

But, first, I think we need to step back and take a look at the big picture. I think I can boil this very complicated issue down to a single point: The Portman-Stabenow Amendment will kill TPA.

I’m not just saying that, Mr. President. It is, at this point, a verifiable fact.

Yesterday, I received a letter from Treasury Secretary Lew outlining the Obama Administration’s opposition to this amendment. The letter addresses a number of issues, some which I’ll discuss later. But, most importantly, at the end of the letter, Secretary Lew stated very plainly that he would recommend that the President veto a TPA bill that included this amendment.

That’s pretty clear, Mr. President. It doesn’t leave much room for interpretation or speculation. No TPA bill that contains the language of the Portman-Stabenow Amendment stands a chance of becoming law. . . .

at this point, it is difficult – very difficult, in fact – for anyone in this chamber to claim that they support TPA and still vote in favor of the Portman-Stabenow Amendment. The two, as of yesterday, have officially become mutually exclusive. . . .

But, regardless of what you think of Secretary Lew’s letter, the Portman-Stabenow Amendment raises enough substantive policy concerns to warrant opposition on its own. Offhand, I can think of four separate consequences that we’d run into if the Senate were to adopt this amendment, and all of them would have a negative impact on U.S. economic interests.

First, the Portman-Stabenow negotiating objective would put the TPP, agreement at grave risk, meaning that our farmers, ranchers, and manufactures – not to mention the workers they employ – would not get access to these important foreign markets, resulting in fewer good, high-paying jobs for American workers.

We know this is the case, Mr. President. Virtually all of our major negotiating partners, most notably Japan, have already made clear that they will not agree to an enforceable provisions like the one required by the Portman-Stabenow Amendment. No country that I am aware of, including the United States, has ever shown the willingness to have their monetary policies subject to potential trade sanctions. Adopting this amendment will have, at best, an immediate chilling effect on the TPP negotiations, and, at worst, it will stop them in their tracks.

If you don’t believe me, then take a look at the letter we received from 26 leading food and agriculture organizations . . . urging Congress to reject the Portman-Stabenow amendment because it will, in their words, “most likely kill the TPP negotiations” Put simply, not only will this amendment kill TPA, it will very likely kill TPP as well.

Second, the Portman-Stabenow Amendment would put at risk the Federal Reserve’s independence in its ability to formulate and execute monetary policies designed to protect and stabilize the U.S. economy. While some in this chamber have made decrees that our domestic monetary policies do not constitute currency manipulation, we know that not all of our trading partners see it that way.

Requiring the inclusion of enforceable rules on currency manipulation and subsequent trade sanctions in our free trade agreements would provide other countries with a template for targeting U.S. monetary policies, subjecting our own agencies and policies to trade disputes and adjudication in international trade tribunals. We have already heard accusations in international commentaries by foreign finance ministers and central bankers that our own Fed has manipulated the value of the dollar to gain trade advantage.

If the Portman-Stabenow language is adopted into TPA and these rules become part of our trade agreements, how long do you think it will take for our trading partners to enter disputes and seek remedies against Federal Reserve quantitative easing policies? Not long, I’d imagine.

If the Portman-Stabenow objective becomes part of our trade agreements, we will undoubtedly see formal actions to impose sanctions on U.S. trade, under the guise that the Federal Reserve has manipulated our currency for trade advantage. We’ll also be hearing from other countries that Fed policy is causing instability in their financial markets and economies and, unless the Fed takes a different path, those countries could argue for relief or justify their own exchange-rate policies to gain some trade advantage for themselves.

While we may not agree with those allegations, the point is that, under the Portman-Stabenow formulation, judgments and verdicts on our policies will be taken out of our hands and, rather, can be rendered by international trade tribunals. . . .

Put simply, we cannot enforce rules against unfair exchange rate practices if we do not have information about them. Under the Portman-Stabenow Amendment, our trading partners are far more likely to engage in interventions in the shadows, hiding from detection out of fear that they could end up being subjected to trade sanctions.

Mr. President, for these reasons and others, the Portman-Stabenow Amendment is the wrong approach. Still, I do recognize that currency manipulation is a legitimate concern, and one that we need to address in a serious, thoughtful way.

Toward that end, Senator Wyden and I have filed an amendment that would expand on the currency negotiating objective that is already in the TPA bill to give our country more tools to address currency manipulation without the problems and risks that would come part and parcel with the Portman-Stabenow Amendment. . . .

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSITANCE PROGRAM—REAUTHORIZATION

As stated in my last blog posts, I have made the case for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Firms/Companies, which has been cut to $12.5 million nationwide. The TAA Bill, which is attached to the TPA bill, in the Senate brings the TAA for Firms program back to $16 million. In the House, however, TAA has been cut to $12.5 million. So the question is what happens in the Conference Committee?

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

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

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

On May 21, 2015, the Commerce Department announced changes to the export rules to allow unlicensed delivery of Internet technology to Crimea region of Ukraine, saying the change will allow the Crimean people to reclaim the narrative of daily life from their Russian occupants. Under the attached final rule, FINAL COMMERCE RULE, individuals and companies may deliver source code and technology for “instant messaging, chat and email, social networking” and other programs to the region without first retaining a license from the federal government, according to Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

Commerce stated:

“Facilitating such Internet-based communication with the people located in the Crimea region of Ukraine is in the United States’ national security and foreign policy interests because it helps the people of the Crimea region of Ukraine communicate with the outside world.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The facilitation of any such transactions.

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

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

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

CUSTOMS

There are significant changes to Customs law in the Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill, formerly The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (“TFTEA”), which passed the Senate on May 11, 2015. Some of those provisions include tough enforcement provisions for evasion of US antidumping and countervailing duty laws. The question, however, is whether these changes will ever become law because the Bill has to pass the House and then go to Conference Committee.

PRODUCTS LIABILITY AND TRADE—HOW CHINESE ACTIONS CAN DESTROY LARGE US IMPORT COMPANIES/RETAILERS

Quality problems with Chinese imported products can hit US import companies and retailers like a trade tsunami, potentially driving large US companies out of business. Nothing illustrates this problem better than the major issues facing Lumber Liquidators because of imports of low quality, high formaldehyde laminate flooring from China.

Lumber Liquidators Inc. has been hit with close to a hundred class action complaints for products liability, consumer actions and even securities cases because of its sale of formaldehyde-laden Chinese flooring. The Actions accuse Lumber Liquidators of defrauding US consumers by falsely stating that its Laminate Flooring meet state emissions standards for the toxic Formaldehyde chemical.

The Complaints allege that Lumber Liquidators routinely sells Chinese-made flooring that greatly exceeds California and other State Air Resource Board standards for safe formaldehyde emissions. Yet Lumber Liquidators advertises on its website and elsewhere that it ensures all of its suppliers comply with California’s “advanced environmental requirements,” even for products sold in other states.

These Actions have originated from a 60 Minutes program, a well-known nationwide news investigative program, which revealed that independent testing of dozens of boxes of Chinese flooring from Lumber Liquidators stores in four states, revealed that all but one of the samples surpassed the California Formaldehyde limit and some went more than 13 times beyond the mark. This 60 Minutes New Report led to the filing of dozens of lawsuits against Lumber Liquidators under Products Liability law and consumer protection/false advertising law. Reportedly the number of complaints is now over one hundred.

Meanwhile, in Sept. 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement service carried out a search warrant at Lumber Liquidator’s corporate offices in Richmond, Virginia.  Multiple media reports have reported that the raid was linked to wood suspected of having originated from the Siberian tiger’s habitat.

On March 25, 2015, the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission (“CSPC”) announced that it was investigating the formaldehyde content of Chinese laminate tile flooring imported by Lumber Liquidators Inc. following the 60 Minutes investigation. In a 2013 report, the CPSC said formaldehyde has been linked to cancer in humans and lab animals but added that some people are more susceptible to the chemical effects than others. In response to the announcement, Lumber Liquidators reported that it was cooperating with other agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control, Federal Trade Commission and others.

On April 29th, Lumber Liquidators announced that in addition to the more than 100 class action cases filed against it, the US Justice Department (“DOJ”) will seek criminal charges against Lumber Liquidators for violating a conservation law in connection with imported wood flooring products. Specifically the DOJ stated that it is seeking criminal charges under the Lacey Act, a conservation law that prohibits import of products made from illegally logged woods.

With all the class action cases, earnings fell, which resulted in a Securities Class Action against Lumber Liquidators by stock investors alleging securities fraud, arguing that its record-high profits were based on creative “sourcing initiatives” when in fact they came from illegal wood harvesting and the sale of cheap formaldehyde laced floors. The company and its entire board of directors were named as defendants in the April 15 derivative complaint by Amalgamated Bank, the trustee for an index fund that has invested in Lumber Liquidators stock. See actual complaint below.

Specifically, the securities complaint alleged that Lumber Liquidators reported gross margins that were significantly higher than those of its major competitors, Home Depot and Lowe’s Companies Inc., because partnerships in China allowed it to cut out middlemen and work directly with suppliers. In reality, the company was buying engineered and laminate flooring manufactured in China that contained and emitted dangerously high and illegal levels of formaldehyde, as well as wood that had been illegally harvested from protected forests in the Russia, home to the critically endangered Siberian tiger and Far East leopard.

According to the suit, the directors breached their duties to shareholders by failing to prevent possible violations of environmental and consumer protection laws and by failing to disclose the illicit practices in public U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. As the Complaint states at paragraph 14:

“Moreover, as a result of defendants’ breaches of their fiduciary duties, the Company is now subject to several complex and expensive securities class action lawsuits alleging violations of the CARB Regulations; the Lacey Act; the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”); the Magnuson -Moss Warranty Act; breach of express and implied warranties; violation of Consumer Protection/Deceptive Practices acts; unjust enrichment; and lawsuits alleging violations of California’s Proposition 65. On March 10, 2015, The New York Times reported that the Attorney General of New York, Eric T. Schneiderman, had opened an inquiry into whether the Company violated safety standards and that officials in California are also likely to investigate.”

According to paragraph 17 of the complaint,

“Although Lumber Liquidators has been severely injured, defendants [Board Members] have not fared nearly so badly. During the relevant time period, defendants collectively pocketed millions in salaries, fees, stock options, illicit insider trading profits and other payments that were not justified in light of the violations of state and federal law at Lumber Liquidators that occurred on their watch. . . .”

According to the shareholders, the scandals have exposed Lumber Liquidators to “millions of dollars in potential liability” from various investigators and allegedly wiped out more than $1.2 billion in shareholder equity. As further stated in paragraph 116 of the complaint:

“Moreover, these actions have irreparably damaged Lumber Liquidators’ ‘environmentally conscientious’ corporate image. For at least the foreseeable future, Lumber Liquidators will suffer from what is known as the ‘liar’s discount,’ a term applied to the stocks of companies that have been implicated in improper behavior and have misled the investing public, such that Lumber Liquidators’ ability to raise equity capital or debt on favorable terms in the future is now impaired.”

The Complaint also details the allegations against Lumber Liquidator’s Chinese suppliers at paragraphs 82-96, stating in part in paragraph 98:

Moreover, defendants were fully aware of the risks of importing wood from China-a country often associated with the export of wood products with excess formaldehyde levels and illegally sourced timber. For example, in February 2012, the leading Chinese hardwood flooring company, Anxin Weiguang Flooring, was forced to pull its wood flooring products from shelves pending an investigation by Shanghai’s Bureau of Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine because of claims that the flooring emitted excessive levels of formaldehyde. One study, entitled “Formaldehyde in China: Production, consumption, exposure levels, and health effects,” 35 Environment Int’l (Nov. 2009), found that over the last 20 years, China’s formaldehyde industry has experienced unprecedented growth, and now produces and consumes one-third of the world’s formaldehyde. More than 65% of the Chinese formaldehyde output is used to produce resins which are mainly found in wood products. These are also the major source of indoor air pollution in China. The study documented numerous instances of hazardous occupational exposure to formaldehyde in Chinese wood workers.

On May 7, 2015, Lumber Liquidators announced that it was suspending sales of laminate flooring from China that prosecutors and consumers have alleged contain toxic levels of the building chemical formaldehyde, and will conduct a review of its suppliers who had labeled the product as meeting California’s limits for the carcinogenic chemical. Lumber Liquidators also hired former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Louis Freeh’s consulting firm to advise it on compliance issues.

On May 21, 2015, Lumber Liquidators announced that its CEO Robert M. Lynch has resigned “unexpectedly”.

The Lumber Liquidators problems illustrate the importance of quality control of Chinese products and how actions in China can seriously damage, if not destroy, their US customers, well-known US companies and brands.

SOME OF THE LUMBER LIQUIDATOR COMPLAINTS

False Advertising and Consumer Protection

On March 6, 2015 Sara Latta filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. LATTALL

On March 9, 2015, Jerry Green and Twala Scott filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. GREEN LL

On March 12, 2015, Mary Kleinsasser filed the attached class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. KLEINASSERLL

On March 12, 2015, Adam White and Julia White a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. WHITE LUMBER

On March 27, 2015, Thomas P. Phelan filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. PHELAN LUMBER LIQUIDATORS

On March 27, 2015, James Silverthorn filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. SILVERTHORN LUMBER

SECURITIES CASES AGAINST LUMBER LIQUIDATORS

On April 15, 2015, Amalgamated Bank filed the attached shareholder derivative complaint for breach of fiduciary duty, corporate waste and unjust enrichment against Lumber Liquidators and its directors and officer. AMALGAMATED BANK LUMBER LIQUIDATORS CASE

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

CAFC MAKES DOMESTIC INDUSTRY AN ISSUE IN 337 CASES

Under section 337, owners of US patents, trademarks and copyrights can filed a case against infringing imports. After a year-long proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge and the ITC itself, if the Commission finds that these unfair imports have injured a US industry, it can issue an exclusion order and the infringing imports will be kept out at the border.

On May 11, 2015 in the attached decision, Lelo Inc, v, International Trade Commission, CAFC LELO DOMESTIC INDUSTRY, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) increased the domestic industry standard, reversing the ITC and determining that there was no domestic industry in a section 337 case, stating:

In Certain Kinesiotherapy Devices and Components Thereof, Inv. No. 337-TA-823, Initial Determination at 50 (Jan. 8, 2013) (“Initial Determination”), “the Administrative Law Judge determined initially that the domestic industry requirement had not been met because the ALJ rejected Plaintiff’s arguments that its U.S. purchase of the four components constituted a “significant investment in plant and equipment,” or a “substantial investment in its exploitation, including engineering, research and development, or licensing,” under prongs (A) and (C), respectively, of the § 337 domestic industry requirement.”

Specifically, the ALJ concluded that Standard Innovation’s U.S. purchases were not relevant to a prong (A) analysis because Standard Innovation failed to establish what portion, if any, the purchase price actually contributed towards a domestic investment in plant or equipment. . . . The ALJ also decided that the components were off-the-shelf items and not relevant to prong (C) because there was no proof that the components were developed specifically for Standard Innovation’s devices, or what portion, if any, of the purchase price was allocable to research and development costs incurred in the development of the components.

Further, the ALJ determined that even if the purchases were relevant, they were neither “substantial” nor “significant” under prongs (A) or (C). . . . . The total purchase prices accounted for less than five percent of the total raw cost of the devices.

The CAFC went on to state:

The Commission, however, reversed the ALJ’s domestic industry determination, finding that “Standard Innovation has satisfied the domestic industry requirement based on its expenditures on components produced domestically that are critical to [its devices].” . . .The Commission rejected the ALJ’s economic prong analysis because Standard Innovation “established that the components were critical for [its devices], which the ALJ found to be protected by the patent. This is sufficient for us to consider the component expenses in our economic prong analysis.”

The CAFC found:

The Commission determined that Standard Innovation’s investment and employment under prongs (A) and (B) were quantitatively “modest,” . . ., which we take to mean “insignificant.” The Commission also found that Standard Innovation did not establish prong (C). . . . We agree with the Commission’s finding that investment and employment under prongs (A) and (B) were modest and insignificant. The Commission erred when it disregarded the quantitative data to reach its domestic industry finding based on qualitative factors. Qualitative factors cannot compensate for quantitative data that indicate insignificant investment and employment. As such, Standard Innovation did not establish a “significant” “investment” or “employment” under prongs (A) or (B), and did not set forth evidence of relevant investments under prong (C). Accordingly, Standard Innovation did not satisfy the domestic industry requirement of § 337.

The CAFC then determined:

We hold that qualitative factors alone are insufficient to show “significant investment in plant and equipment” and “significant employment of labor or capital” under prongs (A) and (B) of the § 337 domestic industry requirements. The purchase of so called “crucial” components from third-party U.S. suppliers are insufficient to satisfy the “significant investment” or “significant employment of labor or capital” criteria of § 337 where there is an absence of evidence that connects the cost of the components to an increase of investment or employment in the United States.

NEW 337 COMPLAINTS

On April 30, 2015, Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc. filed a new section 337 case at the ITC against imports of Electric Skin Care Devices, Brushes, Chargers and Kits Containing Same from the follow companies:

Our Family Jewels, Inc. d/b/a Epipur Skincare, Parker, CO; Accord Media, LLC d/b/a Truth in Aging, New York, NY; Xnovi Electronic Co., Ltd., China; Michael Todd True Organics LP. Port St. Lucie, FL; Mtto LLC, Fort St. Lucie, FL; Shanghai Anzikang Electronic Co., Ltd., China; Nutra-Luxe M.D., LLC, Fort Myers, FL; Beauty Tech, Inc., Coral Gables, FL; Anex Corporation, Korea; RN Ventures Ltd., United Kingdom; Korean Beauty Co., Ltd., Korea; H2Pro Beautylife, Inc., Placentia, CA; Serious Skin Care, Inc., Carson City, NV; Home Skinovations Inc., Canada; Home Skinovations Ltd., Israel; Wenzhou AI ER Electrical Technology Co., Ltd. d/b/a Cnaier, China; Coreana Cosmetics Co., Ltd., Korea; and Flageoli Classic Limited, Las Vegas, NV

PATENT AND OTHER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CASES

SIX CHINESE CITIZENS CHARGED WITH ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE

On May 19, 2015, the US Justice Department announced that it has indicted six Chinese individuals for economic espionage. The Justice Department stated in the attached announcement, DOJ CHINA PROFESSORS:

Chinese Professors Among Six Defendants Charged with Economic Espionage and Theft Of Trade Secrets for Benefit of People’s Republic of China

Chinese Professors Alleged to Have Stolen Valuable Technology from Avago Technologies and Skyworks Solutions to Benefit a PRC University

On May 16, 2015, Tianjin University Professor Hao Zhang was arrested upon entry into the United States from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in connection with a recent superseding indictment in the Northern District of California . . . .

The 32-count indictment, which had previously been sealed, charges a total of six individuals with economic espionage and theft of trade secrets for their roles in a long-running effort to obtain U.S. trade secrets for the benefit of universities and companies controlled by the PRC government.

“According to the charges in the indictment, the defendants leveraged their access to and knowledge of sensitive U.S. technologies to illegally obtain and share U.S. trade secrets with the PRC for economic advantage,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Economic espionage imposes great costs on American businesses, weakens the global marketplace and ultimately harms U.S. interests worldwide. The National Security Division will continue to relentlessly identify, pursue and prosecute offenders wherever the evidence leads. . . .

“As today’s case demonstrates, sensitive technology developed by U.S. companies in Silicon Valley and throughout California continues to be vulnerable to coordinated and complex efforts sponsored by foreign governments to steal that technology,” said U.S. Attorney Haag. “Combating economic espionage and trade secret theft remains one of the top priorities of this Office.” . . .

According to the indictment, PRC nationals Wei Pang and Hao Zhang met at a U.S. university in Southern California during their doctoral studies in electrical engineering. While there, Pang and Zhang conducted research and development on thin-film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) technology under funding from U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). After earning their doctorate in approximately 2005, Pang accepted employment as an FBAR engineer with Avago Technologies (Avago) in Colorado and Zhang accepted employment as an FBAR engineer with Skyworks Solutions Inc. (Skyworks) in Massachusetts. The stolen trade secrets alleged in the indictment belong to Avago or Skyworks.

Avago is a designer, developer and global supplier of FBAR technology, which is a specific type of radio frequency (RF) filter.

Throughout Zhang’s employment, Skyworks was also a designer and developer of FBAR technology. FBAR technology is primarily used in mobile devices like cellular telephones, tablets and GPS devices. FBAR technology filters incoming and outgoing wireless signals so that a user only receives and transmits the specific communications intended by the user. Apart from consumer applications, FBAR technology has numerous applications for a variety of military and defense communications technologies.

According to the indictment, in 2006 and 2007, Pang, Zhang and other co-conspirators prepared a business plan and began soliciting PRC universities and others, seeking opportunities to start manufacturing FBAR technology in China. Through efforts outlined in the superseding indictment, Pang, Zhang and others established relationships with officials from Tianjin University. Tianjin University is a leading PRC Ministry of Education University located in the PRC and one of the oldest universities in China.

As set forth in the indictment, in 2008, officials from Tianjin University flew to San Jose, California, to meet with Pang, Zhang and other co-conspirators. Shortly thereafter, Tianjin University agreed to support Pang, Zhang and others in establishing an FBAR fabrication facility in the PRC. Pang and Zhang continued to work for Avago and Skyworks in close coordination with Tianjin University. In mid-2009, both Pang and Zhang simultaneously resigned from the U.S. companies and accepted positions as full professors at Tianjin University. Tianjin University later formed a joint venture with Pang, Zhang and others under the company name ROFS Microsystem intending to mass produce FBARs.

The indictment alleges that Pang, Zhang and other co-conspirators stole recipes, source code, specifications, presentations, design layouts and other documents marked as confidential and proprietary from the victim companies and shared the information with one another and with individuals working for Tianjin University.

The six indicted defendants include: Tianjin University Professor Hao Zhang, Professor Wei Pang, Professor Jinping Chen, Huisui Zhang (Huisui), and Chong Zhou, a Tianjin University graduate student, and Zhao Gang, the General Manager of ROFS Microsystems.

The maximum statutory penalty for each one of these violations is more than 10 years imprisonment and 100s of thousands of dollars in fines. The case is USA v. Wei Pang.

On May 21, 2015, Tianjin University denied the charges against the three professors, pledged legal support to the professors and accused U.S. officials of “politicizing” the issue and endangering academic exchanges between the two countries.

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

Complaints are attached to each citation.

On February 13, 2015, e.Digital Corporation filed the attached patent case against Shenzhen Gospell Smarthome Electronic Co., Ltd. (dba Oco Camera); Ivideon LLC (dba Oco Camera); Global Innovations; and, New Sight Devices Corp. SHENZHEN GOSPELL

On February 17, 2015, Parthenon Unified Memory Architecture LLC filed a patent complaint against ZTE. PARTHENON ZTE COMPLAINT

On February 27, 2015, Innovation Works, Inc. filed a trademark case against Innovation Works (Beijing) Ltd., IW North America. INNOV BEIJING

On March 2, 2015, Optis Wireless Technology LLC et al filed a patent case against ZTE Corporation et al. OPTIS ZTE

On March 2, 2015, Skyworks Solutions, Inc. filed a patent complaint against Kinetic Technologies, Kinetic Technologies Hong Kong and China. SKYWORKSKIN

On March 4, 2015, Petmatrix LLC filed a patent complaint against Wenzhou Yuxiang Pet Product Co., Ltd. WENZHOU PATENT CASE

On March 5, 2015, Magnet Products International Group filed a trade secrets fraud case against Maghold LLC, Mary Zhang, and Dongguan Maghard Flexible Magnet Co, and Xiaodong Wang. MAGNET TRADE

On March 9, 2015, Orlando Communications LLC filed a patent case against ZTE Corp., et al. ZTE ORLANDO

On March 10, 2015, Saint Lawrence Communications filed a patent complaint against ZTE.  STLAWRENCE ZTE

On March 12, 2015, Anki Inc. filed a patent case against China Industries Ltd T?A Wow Stuff. ANKI CHINA INDUSTRIES

On March 13, 2015, China Central Television, Dish Network LLC et al filed a copyright and trademark case against Create New Technology (HK) Ltd., Hua Yang International Technology Ltd., Shenzhen GreatVision Network Technology Co., Ltd., Club TVPAD, Inc., Bennet Wong, Asha Media Group Inc. d/b/a TVPAD.com, Amit Bhalla, NewTVPad Ltd., Liangzhong Zhou, and Honghui Chen.  CCTV

On March 18, 2015, Lilith Games (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. filed a copyright case against uCool, Inc. and uCool Ltd. LILLITH GAMES SHANGHAI

On March 24, 2015, Wetro Lan filed a patent complaint against Huawei. HUAWEI PATENT COMPLAINT

On March 25, 2015, Streamlight Inc. filed a patent complaint Ningbo Highlite Technical Co., Ltd. NINGBO PATENT

On March 26, 2015, Tianhai Lace, a Chinese company, filed a copyright case against Posh Shop, a US company. TIANHAI COPYRIGHT

On April 1, 2015, Crafty Productions, Inc. et al filed a copyright and fraud case against Fuqing Sanxing Crafts Co. Ltd., a China company, Tony Zhu, MRF Associates, Inc., Michelle Faherty, The Michaels Companies, Inc., Michaels Stores, Inc., ZheJiang HongYe Co. Ltd., a China company, Fuzhou Bomy Trading Co., Ltd., a China company, Fuzhou Great Suns Co. Ltd., a China company, Sunface Crafts Co. Ltd., a China company, and a number of other US retail companies. CRAFTY COPYRIGHT

On April 2, 2015, Trans-Texas Tire, LLC filed an unfair competition and breach of contract case for unfair misappropriation of molds against Tianjin Wanda Tyre Group Co., Ltd, and Zhang Guanghhui and Li Xue Yong. TIRE MOLDS UNFAIR COMPETITION

On April 6, 2015, Express Mobile filed a patent case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. ALIBABA EXPRESS

On April 9, 2015, Nonend Inventions, N. V. filed patent complaints against Huawei and ZTE and multiple other high tech clients. NONENDZTE NONENDHUAWEI

On April 17, 2015, Synaptics Inc. filed a patent case against Goodix Technology Inc., Shenzhen Huiding Technology Co., Ltd. a/k/a Shenzhen Goodix Technology Co., Ltd. and Blu Products, Inc. SHENZHEN PATENT

On April 24, 2015 Nova Intellectual Solutions LLC filed a patent complaint against ZTE. NOVA ZTE CASE

On April 30, 2015, Cellular Communications Equipment LLC filed a patent case against ZTE Corp and a number of other companies. CELL ZTE

On May 1, 2015, Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc. filed patent complaints against Wenzhou Ai ER Electrical Technology Co., Ltd. dba Cnaier and Shanghai Anzikang Electric Co., Ltd. PACIFIC BIO WENZHOU PACIFIC BIOSCIENCE

On May 4, 2015, Ti Beverage Group, Ltd. and Michael Machat filed a trademark infringement case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., and Ebay Inc. TIBEV ALIBABA

On May 4, 2015, Anthony California, Inc, filed a copyright and trade secret case against Fire Power Co., Ltd., New Bright Jet Lighting (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., Interest Plus Investments Ltd., Chien Tsai Tsai, Chien Ho Tsia, James Moran and M&M Sales, and Direct Lighting LLC. CHINA SHEN NEW BRIGHT

On May 8, 2015, Frequency Systems, LLC filed patent complaints against Huawei and ZTE. ZTE FREQ HUAEWEI AGAIN

On May 12, 2015, Nuhertz Technologies, LLC filed a copyright and trademark case for software piracy against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Alibaba.Com Hong Kong Ltd., Alibaba. Com Ltd., Alibaba.Com Investment Holding Ltd., Other Alibaba Companies, Taobao Holding Ltd., Taobao China Holding Ltd., Taobao (China) Software Co., Ltd., and Alipay.Com Co., Ltd. NUEHERTZ ALIBABA

On May 15, 2015, Gucci filed a major trademark and counterfeiting case against Alibaba. Specifically, on May 15, 2015, Gucci America, Inc., Balenciaga S.A., Balenciaga America, Inc., Bottega Veneta S.A., Bottega Veneta Inc., Yves Saint Laurent America, Inc. Luxury Goods International (L.G.I.) S.A. and Kering S.A. filed the trademark and counterfeiting case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Alibaba.Com Hong Kong Ltd., Alibaba. Com Ltd., Alibaba.Com Investment Holding Ltd., Other Alibaba Companies, Taobao Holding Ltd., Taobao China Holding Ltd., Taobao (China) Software Co., Ltd., and Alipay.Com Co., Ltd. GUCCI ALIBABA

Complaints will be posted on my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com.

ANTITRUST

There have been major developments in the antitrust area in China.

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

DORSEY ARTICLE BY PETER CORNE

Peter Corne, who heads Dorsey’s Shanghai office, published the following article on March 13, 2015 about China’s antimonopoly law:

NDRC’s Qualcomm Decision Sends Mixed Messages

Chinese New Year celebrations culminated in a big way for foreign multinationals in China with the news at the end of February that the head of the National Development and Reform Commission’s (“NDRC’s”) Antitrust Bureau had been removed. Xu Kunlin had made his name by initiating numerous investigations against sectors involving multinationals such as auto parts and bearings, cars, and contact lenses. Former Director Xu (who is still director of the NDRC’s Price Department) was widely regarded as a fine leader, and his Antitrust Bureau hit monopolies with hefty penalties of RMB 7.9 Billion (US$1.29 Billion) from 2014 through February 10, the date the Qualcomm decision was announced as discussed below. He has been replaced by Zhang Handong (former deputy director of the Healthcare Reform Office under the State Council), whom we presume will take time to settle into his new position. Based on his familiarity with the medical sector, we would caution clients in that sector to continue to pay close attention to antitrust compliance.

The full content of the long-awaited result of the Qualcomm decision was published in early March (following the February 10 announcement of the result). In only three prior cases has the NDRC published the full content of an antitrust decision. Qualcomm was ordered to cease its infringing activities and was assessed a fine of RMB 6.1 billion (US$975 million), which represented about 8% of its 2013 revenue in China. The NDRC found Qualcomm guilty of abuse of market dominance and implementing monopolistic activities that eliminate and restrict competition. The following activities were deemed illegal: (1) charging unfairly excessive patent royalties, (2) tying patents that are not standard-essential patents in the telecom industry without a legitimate reason, and (3) imposing unreasonable conditions in the sale of baseband chips. During the investigation Qualcomm cooperated with the authorities and raised a series of rectification measures including the following:

(1) calculating patent royalties on the basis of 65% of net wholesale price of the device sold in China,

(2) when Qualcomm licenses its patent to Chinese licensees it will provide a list of patents and not charge royalties over patents that have already expired,

(3) Qualcomm will no longer require that Chinese licensees provide a compulsory (and royalty-free) cross-license for Qualcomm customers,

(4) where wireless standard-essential patents are concerned, Qualcomm will not tie in non-standard-essential patents without a legitimate reason, and

(5) unreasonable conditions will not be included in the license agreements when selling baseband chips, such as conditions prohibiting licensees from challenging the terms in the license agreement.

The Chinese press celebrated the decision as a victory for China. But Qualcomm was not forced to change its business model by the NDRC, so the decision could have been far worse for Qualcomm, reflected in a rise in the stock price of Qualcomm by 4.69% on the second day after the decision was announced.

Qualcomm’s core business model is to impose royalties on the net selling price of the entire device rather than the chips or other components, so it need now only change the calculation of the royalty base rather than the business model itself, leading some commentators to claim that the decision was a victory for Qualcomm.

Although the media claims victory for both sides, many problems seem to have been forgotten. For example, why was a formal investigation only initiated at the end of 2013 when publicly-available information indicates that the first complaint was made as early as 2008 by Texas Instruments? Further, under the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law a guilty decision requires that illegal gains be confiscated, but this case resulted only in the imposition of a fine.

The NDRC required such a confiscation in the LCD maker case. So if the NDRC agreed that 65% (mentioned above in Qualcomm’s rectification plan) was the correct calculation base, then Qualcomm should at least have been asked to return the portion of royalties calculated on the other 35% (which could amount to billions of dollars). In addition, the law provides that a fine should be charged on the basis of the revenue of the previous year, i.e. 2014, and not 2013, which was used in the decision. Some even questioned the jurisdiction of the NDRC in the first place because, judging from the decision, most of the illegal activities listed were not price-related, indicating that it would have been more appropriate for SAIC to launch the investigation.

On the other hand, Qualcomm dropped its request for a hearing at the last minute, and paid up the fine in only three days. All of the above clues lead us to believe that the decision was the result of a compromise between the investigator and the investigated, in the context of which the investigator somehow lost sight of the fact that it was deviating from the national law. But we have seen this before. For example, in the Liquor Case involving Chinese spirits (Moutai and Wuliangye), the NDRC limited its investigation to provincial level, only in Guizhou and Sichuan.

The moral of the story seems to be to make sure that you proactively engage the authorities up front. It may be best to do so before any investigation is even contemplated. Regardless of the timing, it appears that open engagement during an investigation should lead to a much better result.

ANJIE LAW FIRM

On March 16, 2015, Michael Gu, a Chinese antitrust lawyer at the Anjie Law Firm in Beijing, sent out the attached 014 review of Chinese anti-monopoly law. Public competition enforcement_China 2015_AnJie_20150316.

T&D JANUARY REPORT

On May 2, 2015 T&D also sent us the attached April report on Chinese competition law. T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of April 2015

SECURITIES

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

DORSEY MAY ANTI-CORRUPTION DIGEST

Dorsey recently published its attached May anti-corruption digest.  Anti-Corruption-Digest-May2015  With regards to China and Ukraine, the Digest states:

China

China has continued with its ongoing anti-corruption campaign.

In the energy sector, a senior executive at the state energy firm China Sinopec Group is reportedly under investigation for suspected “serious disciplinary violations”, a phrase which has become synonymous with allegations of corruption. China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has reportedly confirmed the investigation but has not disclosed further details about the case. The Chairman of Sinopec, Fu Chengyu, said in an interview with Chinese media that the company supports “the government’s long-term anti-corruption effort, not just cracking down on illegal acts but disciplinary wrongdoings as well”.

In the healthcare sector, it has been reported that the head of Yunnan’s No. 1 People’s hospital is under investigation for allegedly receiving bribes of ¥35 million ($5.6 million/£3.6 million) in cash, 100 properties worth approximately $13 million (£8 million) and a number of car parking spaces. It is alleged that Dr. Wang Tianchao used his position to seek bribes related to medical device procurement and employment positions. Dr. Wang, who was reportedly in the running to become the head of the region’s food and drug regulator, has been removed from his post.

In the retail motor industry, a former top executive at Volkswagen’s joint venture with FAW Group Corporation has been sentenced to life in prison for allegedly accepting bribes. Shi Tao was reportedly convicted of taking ¥33 million ($5 million/£3.2 million) in bribes in exchange for giving business to advertisers and car dealers from FAW-Volkswagen. In a statement, Volkswagen said that it was aware of the case, noting that “globally, Volkswagen is strictly against any kind of illegal conduct, and attaches great importance that all applicable anti-corruption laws are adhered to”.

In its global efforts to trace alleged “economic fugitives”, the Chinese government has published a list of 100 individuals suspected of corruption. The “most wanted” list, which displays the individuals’ photographs, identification numbers and likely whereabouts, is said to be composed of former local government officials, police officers and accountants who are suspected of accepting bribes, misappropriating funds and money laundering.

Ukraine

A new law has been enacted requiring companies to have compliance programs in place. The law applies to most companies participating in public tenders and state-owned enterprises over a certain size and in essence requires companies to appoint a compliance officer with responsibility for implementing the compliance program and reporting to shareholders. The law does not include penalties for failing to implement a compliance program; however companies are encouraged to:

 Conduct regular risk assessments.

 Develop programs to raise employee awareness of anti-corruption.

 Include compliance provisions in contracts with third parties.

Despite the apparent lack of enforcement in place, it is said that officials may consider the establishment of a compliance program when deciding whether to pursue an action against a company.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On February 11, 2015, Claire Rand filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Lu and Maggie Wu. RANDALIBABA

On March 3, 2015, the SEC filed a securities case against China Infrastructure Investment Corp., Li Xipeng and Wang Feng. SEC CHINA INFRASTRUCTURE

On March 13, 2015, Felipe Garcia filed a class action securities case against Lentuo International, Inc, Hetong Guo, Jing Yang and Yang Jiangyuluo. GARCIA LENTUO

On March 24, 2015, Placidius Silva filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Lu and Maggie Wu. ALIBABA PLACIDUSE

On March 25, 2015 Qiang Wang filed a class action securities case against Yoliku Tudou, Inc., Victor Wind, Chelfng Koo, and Michael Gexu. WANG YOKOU

On March 26, 2015 Edward Martindale filed a class action securities case against Yoliku Tudou, Inc., Victor Wind, Chelfng Koo, and Michael Gexu. MARTINDALEYOKOU TUDOU

On March 27, 2015, the SEC brought an action against Macquarie Capital (USA), Inc., Aaron Black, and William Fang, the Underwriters of Puda Coal, a Chinese company. SECPUDA COAL

On April 2, 2015, Troy Hung filed a class action securities case against Idreamsky Technology Ltd., Michael Xiangyu Chen, Jun Zou, Anfernee Song Guan, Jeffrey Lyndon, Ko, Steven Xiaoyi Ma, Erhai Liu, Mingyao Wang, David Yuan, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Stifel Nicolas & Company, In Corpora Ted, and Piper Jaffra. HUNGIDREAMY

On April 14, 2015 Rashid Jahm filed a class action securities case against Yoliku Tudou, Inc., Victor Wind, Chelfng Koo, and Michael Gexu. JAHM YOKOU

On April 15, 2015, James Patrick Griffith filed a class action securities case against Idreamsky Technology Ltd., Michael Xiangyu Chen, Jun Zou, Anfernee Song Guan, Jeffrey Lyndon, Ko, Steven Xiaoyi Ma, Erhai Liu, Mingyao Wang, David Yuan, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Stifel Nicolas & Company, In Corpora Ted, and Piper Jaffra. GRIFFITHIDREAM

On April 21, 2015, Francis J. Bonanno filed a class action securities case against Cellular Biomedicine Group, Inc., Wei Cao and Tony Liu. CELLULAR SECURITIES

On April 29, 2015, the SEC filed an insider trading case against two Chinese nationals, Xiaoyu Xia and Yangting Hu. SECHUAXU

On May 5, 2015, Abraham Jeremias, Roger Mariani and Michael Rubin filed a class action securities case against Idreamsky Technology Ltd., Michael Xiangyu Chen, Jun Zou, Anfernee Song Guan, Jeffrey Lyndon, Ko, Steven Xiaoyi Ma, Erhai Liu, Mingyao Wang, David Yuan, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Stifel Nicolas & Company, In Corpora Ted, and Piper Jaffra. JEREMIASIDREAM

On May 8, 2015, Steve Surrey filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Lu, Masayoshi Son, Daniel Young, Chee Hwa Tung, Walter The, Ming Kwauk, J. Michael Evans, and Jerry Yang. SURREY ALIBABA

On May 19, 2015, Paul Heller filed a class action securities case against Vishop Holding Ltd., Ya Shen and Donghao Yang. HELLERVISHOP

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–DEVELOPMENTS IN TRADE, 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–TRADE, OCTG AND SOLAR, TTP, CUSTOMS, IP/PATENT, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Renmin Square Chongqing Sichuan China at Night“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—MARCH 7, 2014

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, Solar Cells, TTP, TPA, Chinese Antidumping, patents, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

TRADE

THE OCTG EXAMPLE—WHY NME STATUS FOR CHINA DOES NOT REFLECT MARKET REALITY

As indicated in past newsletters, the nonmarket economy status of China means that the Commerce Department does not use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping rates for Chinese companies.  In addition, Chinese companies must submit separate rates applications to show that the company is separate and independent from the Chinese government or the Chinese company will be considered part of the Chinese entity and get the highest antidumping rate.

Although the US China WTO Agreement provides that China is to be treated as a market economy by December 11, 2016, recently in Washington DC, US government officials indicated that they have no intention of abiding by this Agreement and will continue to follow the US antidumping law as written.  In other words, as it stands now, the Commerce Department will not make China a market economy country in 2016, even though this provision was put into the WTO Accession Agreement at the demand of the United States.

The unfairness of the NME methodology against China, however, is illustrated by the Countervailing Duty and Antidumping Cases on Oil Country Tubular Goods, which are steel pipes used to drill oil wells.  In January 2010 the Commerce Department issued a countervailing duty order on OCTG from China with rates ranging from 10.49 to 15.78.  On May 2010, the Commerce Department issued an antidumping order on OCTG from China with dumping rates ranging from 32.07% to 99%.  These high rates had the effect of shutting most Chinese OCTG out of the US market.  CVDOCTGORDER  AD ORDER OCTG

Again, since it is a Nonmarket Economy Country, the Chinese CVD/anti-subsidy  rates are based on the Commerce Department’s refusal to look at any benchmarks in China.  In the Antidumping (“AD”) Case, the Commerce Department refused to look at any prices or costs in China.  In the China OCTG case, Commerce used surrogate values from publicly available published information in India, most of which were Indian import statistics.  But if products can be sourced domestically in India, often import statistics are highly inflated.

In the first review investigation on OCTG from China, Commerce decided to pick values for raw materials from a list of different surrogate countries, including Colombia, Indonesia, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Ukraine.  Commerce chose Indonesia.  OCTG PRELIM  Since importers are exposed to retroactive liability if antidumping rates go up and the Commerce Department is constantly switching surrogate countries so the Chinese companies cannot know whether they are dumping, no importer is willing to take the risk and import from China with exposure to millions of dollars in retroactive antidumping and countervailing duties on OCTG from China.

So what happened?  Because of the high antidumping and countervailing duty rates against China based on bogus cost calculations, imports from other countries entered the United States and replaced the Chinese imports.  On July 2, 2013, in response to the increase in imports from other countries, the US OCTG industry filed antidumping investigations against India, Korea, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam and countervailing duty investigations against India and Turkey.

As the ITC stated in its atached preliminary staff report:

Subject imports of OCTG have increased since 2010.  At the beginning of 2010, Countervailing duties on OCTG imported from China entered into effect, and antidumping duties followed in April 2010.  After the placement of AD and CVD duties on Chinese product, subject imports increased….

ITC PRELIMINARY OCTG MANY COUNTRIES Pub4422 OCTG pdf

As the Commission also stated in its preliminary staff report, “Korea has been the largest source of imports of OCTG since 2010.”  In fact, the word on the street was that the Koreans had increased their exports to the US replacing more than 50% of the Chinese imports.

In fact, since 1984 OCTG imports have been the subject of approximately 50 antidumping and countervailing duty investigations against various countries.  The first OCTG cases were filed in 1984 and I worked on those cases when I was at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) in the early 1980s.  In effect, the US OCTG industry has had some form of protection from imports for about 30 years.

In the CVD cases, the Petition alleged that the Indian companies were allegedly benefitting from almost 70 different Indian government subsidy programs and the Turkish companies from almost 25 different Turkish government programs.

But now the Commerce Department must use actual benchmarks in target countries to calculate countervailing duty rates and actual prices and costs to calculate antidumping rates.

On December 17, 2013, the Commerce Department issued its preliminary Countervailing Duty Determinations against India and Turkey.  Despite the allegations that the Indian and Turkish companies were benefitting from a total of almost a hundred government programs, the Countervailing Duty Rates for India and Turkey, Drum Roll Please, were 0 to 3.5% for India and 0% for Turkey.  factsheet-OCTG-Prelim-multiple-121713

On February 18, 2014, the Commerce Department issued its attached preliminary antidumping determinations.  OCTG PRELIMINARY AD DETERMINATION FACT SHEET  Other than Thailand, most producers in the countries answered the Commerce Department’s antidumping questionnaire.  What were the actual calculated antidumping rates based on actual prices and costs in their respective countries?

The Korean producers, the largest exporters, received antidumping rates of 0% and a complete negative antidumping determination as to Korea.

The Indian producers received antidumping rates of 0 to 55.29%.  The Philippines producer received 8.9%.  The Saudi Arabian producer 2.65%.  The Taiwan producers received antidumping rates ranging from 0 to 2.65%.  The Turkish producers received rates of 0 to 4.87%.  The Ukrainian producer, Ukraine is a market economy country, received a rate of 5.31%.

When the Commerce Department uses actual prices and costs in the subject country to calculate actual antidumping rates, high dumping rates fall dramatically and are often non-existent.  But the Commerce Department has used an unfair methodology against China in US AD and CVD cases for more than 30 years and has no intention at the present time of ever treating China as a market economy country.  This is fairness Commerce style.

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 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.

During a recent trip to Washington DC, Government officials and Congressional staff stated that they were firmly convinced that the TPA will eventually pass Congress.  Apparently, the TPA must start up in the House of Representatives and according to a knowledgeable source, there is bipartisan support for the TPA in the House.  The source mentioned that if the House passes the TPA, there will be substantial pressure in the Senate to pass the TPA and knowledgeable officials believe that a House originated TPA would pass the Senate today.  But that source could be wrong.

According to government officials, any Senator or Congressman can see the current negotiating text of the TPP or TTIP.  Also any interested Senator or Congressman can ask to be a “Congressional advisor” and such Senator or Congressman will be given negotiating credentials and can attend any of the negotiating sessions.  Congressional Staffers from relevant Congressional committees also have been at the TPP and TTIP negotiations.

These activities indicate that the Trade Agreements are moving and when Trade Agreements move in Congress, at a certain point in time, there becomes a band wagon effect and everyone wants to jump onboard the Free Trade/FTA Express.  We will have to see if that bandwagon effect truly starts up in Congress.

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY (“TPA”), TPP AND THE TTIP/TRANS-ATLANTIC NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE AS CONGRESSIONAL GROUPS PUSH TPA THROUGH CONGRESS

As mentioned, in my last newsletter, 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, 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.

Senators Baucus and Hatch introduced the TPA in the Senate.  Chairman Camp of the House Ways and Means Committee introduced the TPA bill in the House, but President Obama could not persuade one Democratic Congressman to introduce the TPA bill into the House.

After the January 16th hearing, Republicans, including House Speaker Boehner, and free trade Democrats urged President Obama to get more involved saying that he has to become personally involved in pushing the TPA or the new Bill will simply not pass Congress. Many trade commentators were stating that if the President’s trade agenda falls apart, there is no one else to blame but the President himself.  They argue that the President has failed to reassure doubters, explain trade’s enormous benefits, assuage concerns, correct misconceptions, or make an affirmative public case as to why new trade agreements are essential to the nation’s prosperity.  This failure has left a vacuum that has been filled by organized, anti-trade interests, many on the Democratic side of the aisle, who have made it very difficult for Democratic Congressmen to support the TPA and the Trade Agreements.

In response to the Republicans call in Congress for the Administration to do more, on January 28th President Obama spoke about the importance of the importance of the TPA and the Trade Agreements in his State of the Union.  On January 29th, however, Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, the head Democrat in the Senate, came out against TPA, stating, “Everyone would be well-advised to not push this right now.”

Since the Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid controls the bills that are allowed on the Senate Floor, the statement appeared to indicate that the TPA bills are dead in the Congress, which means that the President’s trade agenda and his push for these agreements are also dead.

On January 29th White House press secretary Jay Carney stated:

“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.”

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.

Although the Administration apparently looked at Senator Reid’s statement as a setback, they have decided to push forward.  On February 10th, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) Froman stated with regards to Labor Standards that the TPP and the other agreements offer a chance to improve global labor practices and to raise standards across the globe.  On February 14th the Administration stated that despite opposition of the top Congressional Democrats, the Administration still aims to complete the TPP negotiations in 2014.

On February 18th President Obama promoted the benefits of the TPP in discussions with the Mexican President and Canadian Prime Minister.  During that trip, Obama stated that it was “inaccurate” to suggest that Democratic lawmakers universally oppose the TPP, adding that he believes the agreement, if it’s a good one, will ultimately pick up approval in Congress. “There are elements of my party that oppose this trade deal; there are elements of my party that oppose the South Korea free trade agreement, the Colombia free trade agreement and the Panama free trade agreement — all of which we passed with Democratic votes.  So what I’ve said to President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Harper is we’ll get this passed if it’s a good agreement.”

On February 18th USTR Michael Froman stated that the Obama administration would put in place transparency measures to quell criticism of TPP and TTIP, stressing that the two deals need to advance to significantly improve employment and environmental standards around the globe and better protect U.S. intellectual property.

In a speech at the Center for American Progress’ office, Froman stated that the and that the Trade Agreements are opportunities to help shape the terms of a significant segment of international trade and raise global standards through the promotion of U.S. values, according to the USTR.  Froman stated:

“Trade, done right, is part of the solution, not part of the problem. . . Through enforcement actions we are able to stand up for our rights and fight for our people. Through negotiations we are able to create new opportunities.”

The USTR acknowledged Congressional criticism about the deals and urged Congress to “step forward” and update its role in negotiating trade agreements. He said members of Congress were welcome to view the text of the deals as they stand at any time, and noted that no trade agreement will win approval without Congressional assent.

The Chorus has begun to rise about the benefits of the Agreements.  On February 19th, Mr. Myron Briliant, the executive vice president and head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Why Harry Reid Must Reconsider on Trade”, stating:

“Take the U.S. auto industry, which has made a comeback after the recession. Automobiles made in the U.S. face a 35% import tariff in Malaysia, shutting American manufacturers out of the market.

Though the U.S. is the largest agricultural exporter in the world, Vietnam levies double- and triple-digit duties on U.S. farm goods. The country recently raised taxes on a number of products ranging from walnuts to tomato sauce. Express shippers, insurers and banks are at a major disadvantage in Japan, where regulations prop up a state-owned company called Japan Post Holdings.

The interference damages the U.S. economy.  In 2010, the Commerce Department estimated that foreign tariffs reduce the earnings of U.S. factory workers by as much as 12%. The impact spreads to other sectors such as agriculture due to non-tariff barriers including unscientific sanitary requirements. The way to fix these inequalities? New trade agreements that demand accountability and fairness.

Free trade agreements have eliminated disadvantages in the past. America’s 20 trade-agreement partners represent 10% of the global economy, but they buy nearly half of our exports. Citizens of these countries purchase 12 times more U.S. exports per capita than citizens of countries without trade agreements. The U.S. boasts a trade surplus in manufacturing, agriculture and services with these 20 partners, unlike the trade deficit it runs with the rest of the world.

American workers reap the benefits. Earnings are 18% higher for workers in factories that export than in those that don’t, according to a 2010 Commerce Department report.

Small businesses also stand to gain from freer trade. Large firms often find a way to work around foreign trade barriers, but tariffs are often a deal-breaker for small companies. Creating new trade agreements would significantly help the U.S.’s 300,000 small exporters. . . .

But to tackle any of these inequalities, Congress must first approve TPA. . . .Without TPA, U.S. exports will remain at a profound disadvantage. Renewing TPA would help restore fair competition in trade—and put economic growth in the U.S. ahead of partisan politics.”

 

On February 24th, it was reported that the US and Japan were not able to reach agreement in the most recent TPP negotiations.  In attached letter dated February 21st, Grassley-Bennet-Letter-to-Froman-Japan-TPP-2-21-14-2 a bipartisan group of senators urged the U.S. not to close TPP negotiations unless Japan agrees to drop protection for certain agricultural products.  Specifically, 18 senators led by Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Michael F. Bennet, D-Colo., told U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman that they were concerned that Japan had not yet made an offer in the course of the TPP negotiations to open up its agriculture sector without exceptions. The senators said that allowing special treatment for some of Japan’s agricultural products may undermine U.S. efforts to secure more access to the agriculture markets in the 11 other countries involved in the TPP.

As the Senators stated:

“We write to express our concerns that Japan has not yet made a comprehensive offer on agricultural products as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. We believe that this situation could undermine the Administration’s goal of significantly increasing market access for U.S. agricultural products in TPP party countries.

In previous trade negotiations, the United States requested and received full and comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector from both developed countries like Japan as well as developing countries. By requesting special treatment for its agricultural sector in the TPP, Japan may upset the careful balance of concessions that the eleven economies involved in the negotiations have achieved. If Japan continues to insist on protecting certain agricultural products, other countries with sensitivities in the agricultural sector may make similar demands.

As intended, the TPP will facilitate additional trade relationships with Asia-Pacific countries and set an important precedent for future trade agreements. Most immediately, a positive outcome with Japan on sensitive agricultural products will buoy the prospects for reaching an acceptable agreement with the EU in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.

The market access package that the Administration negotiates with Japan has the potential to support billions of dollars in future exports and hundreds of thousands of jobs. For this reason, we seek assurances from you that the U.S. will not close the TPP negotiations without an acceptable comprehensive agreement with Japan to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers in agriculture.”

 

In the last week in February, USTR Froman went to Singapore to meet with trade ministers from the 11 other TPP countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The ministerial meeting was the first since December, when the TPP countries stated they could not wrap up negotiations by the end of 2013.

At the Singapore meeting, the two countries that had problems were Japan and Canada.  The TPP discussions ended February 25th with no agreement although gaps on unresolved issues had narrowed, and the 12 countries in the talks remain “fully committed” to closing a deal.

The U.S. has pushed for greater access to the Japanese agriculture market, while Japan has sought to keep tariff and other trade protections on certain agricultural products, such as rice, wheat and pork.

On March 3rd it was reported that representatives of the US dairy industry were losing patience with Japan and Canada and their failure to fully open their markets to foreign dairy productions.  The concern was so high that they raised the issue of closing the talks without Japan and Canada.  Apparently, in Singapore, not only the United States, but the rest of the countries were increasingly impatient with Japan and Canada.

After the close of a TPP ministers’ meeting in Singapore, the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council issued a joint statement calling for negotiators to ramp up the pressure on Japan and Canada to secure full tariff elimination on dairy products.

“It is time to finish the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, including resolving the treatment of agricultural trade,” USDEC President Tom Suber said. “The principle of creating comprehensive market access is too important to this and future trade agreements. Therefore, if Japan and Canada are not committed to this goal, we need to move forward without them.”

Recently, in Washington DC, government sources indicated that if there is no movement from the two countries, the TPP should be finalized without Japan and Canada.

The two US Dairy groups also reiterated their longstanding demands that a final TPP deal include effective disciplines for applying sanitary and phytosanitary measures that are science based and enforceable and prevent restrictions on the use of common food products.

The Congressional problem is most apparent in the debate over whether to include currency manipulation restrictions in the TPP.  Dire warnings over misaligned currency creating unfair advantages in exports have become a rallying cry for US industries.  It appears quite likely that any bill providing trade promotion authority will insist that the TPP and any other trade agreement include a provision addressing the use of monetary policy or other methods to promote exports through currency manipulation.

Numerous countries participating in the TPP negotiations, however, have already taken a strong stance against the inclusion of any provision on currency, and the Obama administration is on record opposing the provisions for that reason.

Obama wants the Trade Agreements, but not if they conflict with a more immediate political goal, preserving the Senate in the mid-term 2014 for the Democrats.  That balancing act has marked Mr. Obama’s approach since 2008. To persuade union voters who blame globalization for stagnant wages, Obama the candidate spoke of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Then, as President, he dropped the idea.

As a fallback strategy, Mr. Obama and his aides now aim to flip the situation around. They hope to persuade lawmakers to grant that authority after midterm elections by showing them a tentative Asia deal.  That would leave little time for action before the 2016 presidential primary season — which, if 2008 is any guide, will probably increase Democratic resistance.

During my recent trip to Washington, I began to see a more optimistic view of the Trade Talks.  Congressional staffers and commentators stated that Sen. Reid’s position on trade is well known and that he has a decades-long record of opposition to trade agreements.  His current stance is completely consistent with that record.  But Reid could have stopped the ratification of recent free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, but he did not.

One reason is China.  While China is not part of the TPP, hopefully the TPP will create rules, which can used to restrain some of the Chinese actions in the future. People familiar with the negotiations say China is watching closely, consulting with players at the table and lobbying through its proxies against proposed new standards for state-owned enterprises.  New rules ratified in the Trans-Pacific Partnership would set a minimum expectation for any future, broader deal that might one day include China, such as an all-Asia free-trade zone.

USTR ISSUES ANNUAL TRADE REPORT TO CONGRESS

On March 3rd, the USTR issued its annual trade report to Congress.  Chapter I The Presidents Trade Policy Agenda  In its summary, the USTR stated that concluding the TPP and the TTIP with Europe were two primary objectives:

Conclude the Ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations . . .

TPP will expand U.S. trade with dynamic economies throughout the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region. Experts estimate that economies around the Pacific Rim will continue to grow faster than the world average, elevating income levels and creating increased market opportunities. Along with the United States, TPP partners now include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. . . . According to an analysis supported by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a successful TPP agreement would provide global income benefits of an estimated $223 billion per year, by 2025, while potentially expanding annual U.S. exports by $124 billion. TPP countries also account for 28 percent of global marine catch and over a third of global timber production, thus providing a meaningful opportunity to advance environmental stewardship efforts in the region.

The entry of Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, into TPP negotiations in July 2013 has further expanded the commercial impact of the TPP agreement.

Advance Negotiations with the European Union in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

On June 17, 2013 President Obama and EU leaders announced that the United States and the EU would launch negotiations on a comprehensive trade and investment agreement to strengthen a partnership that already supports $1 trillion in annual two-way trade, nearly $4 trillion in investment, and roughly 13 million direct jobs – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement.

This year, we expect to make significant progress in the T-TIP negotiations. After three negotiating rounds in the latter half of 2013, the Administration plans to maintain a similar pace for the talks in 2014.

On March 4th, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released the following statement in response to the President’s 2014 Trade Agenda:

Camp: “I welcome the Administration’s focus on developing new markets for goods and services produced by U.S. manufacturers, service providers, and farmers, as well as on ensuring that our trading partners play by the rules. In particular, I hope that we can conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership shortly with those countries now willing, ready, and able to meet its ambitious obligations. We must increase market access for goods, services, and agriculture products, as well as secure enforceable rules related to issues such as intellectual property protection, disciplines on state-owned enterprises, restraints on localization barriers, investor-state dispute settlement, cross-border data flows, and disciplines on sanitary and phytosanitary barriers. . . .

“While the Agenda fails to address the problem of currency manipulation, it otherwise generally meets the objectives set in the bipartisan, bicameral Trade Priorities Act. That legislation also provides the necessary tools to address the unfairness and distortion caused when countries manipulate their currencies to gain a trade advantage.

“TPA is my top trade priority because it opens new markets and establishes enforceable rules for our trading partners, creating new U.S. jobs and economic activity. The President will not be able to conclude and implement any of the trade negotiations set forth in his Agenda without TPA. That’s why I was so surprised to see TPA barely mentioned in the document. In addition, while I welcome the transparency measures outlined in the Agenda, our bipartisan bill goes considerably further in setting out requirements for the Administration to consult with Congress and share timely and detailed information – another reason why I am seeking rapid bipartisan consideration of this bill. TPA is necessary to set out the negotiating objectives that Congress defines as vital, establish the terms for Congressional consultations during the negotiations, and retain for Congress the final say in consideration of implementing bills after the negotiations.

SOLAR CELLS—NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE TO CLOSE THIRD COUNTRY LOOPHOLE AND AGAINST CHINA AND TAIWAN

Attached is my latest article on the Solar Cell/Products Wars with China in the Solar Industry Magazine.  PERRY ARTICLE SOLAR INDUSTRY MAGAZINE

As mentioned in previous newsletters, 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.  See the attached initiation notice, factsheet-multiple-solar-products-initiation-012313 which includes the scope of the merchandise, the specific products covered by the new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations.

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.

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.

In the attached February 5, 2014 letter to President Obama, SOLAR WORLD LETTER Solar World, the Petitioner in the Solar Cells and Solar Products cases, stated that it “remains open to any prospective resolution that promises to hold China accountable to trade agreements and laws that enable fair trade. “

On February 14, 2014, as indicated in the attached announcement, ITC AFFIRMATIVE PRELIM SOLAR PRODUCTS CASE.htm the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), four Commissioners voting, reached an affirmative preliminary injury determination finding that there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from China that are allegedly subsidized and from China and Taiwan that are allegedly sold in the United States at less than fair value.

In response to the ITC vote, on February 19, 2014, MOFCOM stated that the ITC failed to consider the facts in determining that Chinese solar products had caused “substantial damage” to the U.S. domestic industry.   MOFCOM in particular pointed out that solar products “originated in China bring huge commercial benefits and job opportunities for the upstream and downstream industries of the U.S.”

MOFCOM went on to emphasize that solving trade disputes through dialogue and negotiations is the best way to solve the Solar problems between the US and China.

As mentioned in previous newsletters, the ITC’s standard in a 45 day preliminary injury investigations in antidumping and countervailing duty cases is very low.  To find a “reasonable indication” of material injury or threat of material injury all the Commissioners have to find is that more evidence will be discovered in a final injury investigation  Thus, the ITC decision was simply to continue the investigation and not that that Chinese imports caused substantial damage to the US industry.

Also as mentioned in previous newsletters, there is no public interest test and end user companies do not have standing in US antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  Thus, the ITC cannot consider whether the Chinese imports are providing substantial benefits to downstream industries or consumers in its determination.

On a recent trip to Washington DC, several knowledgeable sources stated that there is still no real movement at the Commerce Department on a Suspension Agreement in the Solar Cells/Products cases.  This would indicate that although there has been a lot of talk, there is still no action.

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 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.

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.

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE—DRY CLEANING CHEMICALS FROM THE US

On February 20th, it was reported that China has imposed provisional anti-dumping duties ranging from 33 percent to more than 76 percent on dry cleaning chemicals from the U.S. and Europe after finding the imports were sold at unfair prices and were injuring Chinese producers.  More specifically, MOFCOM announced that it would level antidumping duties on imports from the US and Europe of perchlorethylene, a chemical sometimes referred to as tetrachloroethylene, and used as a solvent in the dry cleaning industry.

According to MOFCOM, U.S.-based Dow Chemical Co., PPG Industries Inc., Axiall Corp. and Occidental Chemical Corp. all face 76.2 percent dumping margins under the provisional Chinese duty order.

CUSTOMS

EXECUTIVE ORDER TO STREAMLINE TRADE 

On February 19th, President Obama signed the attached executive order executive order to speed up the creation of a single, electronic portal for businesses to submit information related to shipments that cross U.S. borders, a move intended to save time and money for importers and exporters.

The executive order calls for the development, by the end of 2016, of an International Trade Data System that would allow businesses to provide import and export data to the U.S. government through a “single window,” according to a fact sheet put out by the White House. The changes are expected to cut processing and approval times “from days to minutes” for shipments coming to and leaving the U.S.

CUSTOMS FRAUD—LIABILITY OF INDIVIDUAL OWNERS AND EMPLOYEES

There has been a recent development at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) regarding the liability of individuals for Customs violations with a CAFC decision to hold an en banc review by the entire Court of its July 30, 2013 decision in United States v. Trek Leather, Inc.  United States v. Trek Leather, Inc., 724 F.3d 1330 (CAFC 2013) In that case a three judge panel in the CAFC based on a 2-1 decision determined that corporate officers of an “importer of record” are not directly liable for penalties under § 1592(c)(2) “absent piercing Trek’s corporate veil to establish that Shadadpuri was the actual importer of record, as defined by statute, or establishing that Shadadpuri is liable for fraud under §1592(a)(1)(A), or as an aider and abettor of fraud.”

On March 5, 2014 the CAFC issued the attached orderTREK LEATHER CASE accepting the US Government’s petition for a rehearing en banc, which means a hearing before all eleven judges of the CAFC.  The CAFC ordering the parties to file briefs on the following issues:

A) 19 U.S.C. § 1592(a) imposes liability on any “person” who “enter[s], introduce[s], or attempt[s] to enter or introduce” merchandise into United States commerce by means of fraud, gross negligence, or negligence by the means described in § 1592(a). What is the meaning of “person” within this statutory provision?  How do other statutory provisions of Title 19 affect this inquiry?

B) If corporate officers or shareholders qualify as “persons” under § 1592(a), can they be held personally liable for duties and penalties imposed under § 1592(c)(2)

and

(3) when, while acting within the course and scope of their employment on behalf of the corporation by which they are employed, they provide inaccurate information relating to the entry or introduction of merchandise into the United States by their corporation? If so, under what circumstances?

C) What is the scope of “gross negligence” and “negligence” in 19 U.S.C. § 1592(a) and what is the relevant duty? How do other statutory provisions in Title 19 affect this inquiry?

In its request for the rehearing, the Government stated:

“The panel’s decision provides a roadmap for importers to negligently violate the customs laws; one individual can transact the same importing business using multiple shell companies as importers of record, allowing evasion of personal liability for duties and penalties in all but the most egregious situations.”

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA—NOW TRANSSHIPMENT

With regards to the Chinese ban on shellfish from the West Coast, on January 31st it was reported that the Chinese government wants to send an audit team to the US to check how seafood is tested.  In the meantime, they would not relax the ban on the West Coast shellfish.

The Chinese government had detected inorganic arsenic in a November shipment of geoducks from Washington’s Poverty Bay. That shipment and another from Ketchikan, Alaska, that was tainted with algae toxin, led China on Dec. 3 to ban all imports of bivalve shellfish harvested in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California.

The ban has seriously hurt the Pacific Northwest shellfish industry, blocking imports to the major market for geoducks right before Friday’s observance of Chinese New Year.

In Early February it was reported that the ban on Pacific Coast shellfish is still in place as the US government had received a letter from China stating the fact.

See the attached article and a link to a report by Chinese television on the Geoduck problem http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2014/01/23/chinese-tv-discusses-shellfish-import-ban/#axzz2v8CrqCIY

A local Washington newspaper reported that one Indian tribe was able to get around the Chinese ban on shellfish imports by shipping the geoducks to Hong Kong and Canada.  One Tribal Fisheries Manager stated that Buyers were able to get around the ban “by going through Canada and Hong Kong to get restricted American geoducks to China. .  . Some of the buyers are Canadian.  They end up buying product, crossing the border and shipping to China that way . . .Other buyers have been able to get product to Hong Kong and over to China. . . The buyers themselves are figuring out ways to get product to China.”

The problem is that these schemes are considered transshipment, and the US government and US Congressmen have been complaining about this unfair practice in Chinese food imports for many, many years.

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.

What goes around does indeed come around.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

ITC IS MAKING IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR PATENT TROLLS

In a Jan. 9 decision clearing Hewlett-Packard Co. and others of infringement, the ITC reversed long-standing precedent and held for the first time that in order to use licensing activities to satisfy the domestic industry requirement for suing at the ITC, nonpracticing entities (“NPES”) must prove that there are products that practice the patent.

The Commission specifically stated in the order:

“We affirm the ALJ’s application of his ground rules to find that TPL failed to demonstrate the existence of articles practicing the mapping patents.  . . .  Because TPL did not demonstrate the existence of articles practicing the mapping patents, it cannot demonstrate the existence of a domestic industry.”

In this decision the ITC reversed long-standing precedent and held for the first time that in order to use licensing activities to satisfy the domestic industry requirement for suing at the ITC, NPES must prove that there are products that practice the patent.

The ITC had previously held that licensing alone could satisfy the requirement, regardless of whether licensees used the patents in their products. Proving the existence of products covered by the patents may be difficult for NPES and could discourage them from suing at the ITC.  Those NPES that do not keep close watch on whether the invention is being practiced will have a much more difficult time meeting the domestic industry requirement at the ITC.

ITC REQUESTS EN BANC REHEARING AT CAFC OF SUPREMA DECISION

On February 21, 2014, the ITC requested at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) a panel rehearing or a rehearing en bank of the CAFC December 13th decision in Suprema v.International Trade Commission.  In Suprema, the CAFC by a split vote vacated the exclusionary order in Certain Biometric Scanning Devices, Inv. No. 337-TA-720, holding that “an exclusion order based on a violation of 19 U.S.C. §1337(a)(1)(B)(i) may not be predicated on a theory of induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. §271(b) where direct infringement does not occur until after importation of the articles the exclusion order would bar.”  See previous January Post for a description and copy of the CAFC decision.

In its Brief filed at the CAFC, the ITC argues that this December 13th decision overturns many past 337 decisions and is contrary to CAFC and Supreme Court precedent stating:

By holding that “there are no ‘articles that . . . infringe’ at the time of importation when direct infringement has yet to occur”, the panel overlooked Supreme Court precedent that culpability for induced infringement is independent from direct infringement and attaches at “the distribution of the tool intended for infringing use.” . . . The panel also overlooked this Court’s precedent that liability for infringement by inducement attaches “as of the time the acts were committed, not at some future date” of direct infringement. . . .

By interpreting 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(1)(B)(i) to reach only articles that directly infringe at the time of importation, the panel overlooked decades of precedent affirming Commission orders that exclude articles proven to indirectly infringe under 35 U.S.C. §§ 271(b) and (c). . . . Even though it appears that the panel in this case did not intend its decision to preclude an action under section 337 based on contributory infringement, parties in other cases have already argued to this Court that “[t]he reasoning in Suprema also dooms [a] contributory infringement claim” because in such a claim articles do not directly infringe at the time of importation.  . . .

By characterizing the Commission’s order as a “ban [on the] importation of articles which may or may not later give rise to direct infringement” . ., the panel confused the question of an appropriate remedy under 19 U.S.C. § 1337(d) with the question of liability under 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(1)(B)(i), in contravention” of past CAFC precedent.

DUPONT TRADE SECRET CONVICTION

As reported in my last newsletter, there is an ongoing jury trial in California Federal District Court regarding the theft of trade secrets from Dupont  by a California businessman and a former DuPont Co. engineer, which were accused of stealing DuPont’s proprietary method of manufacturing titanium dioxide and selling the information to Chinese government-owned companies for $28 million.

On March 5th, the jury found businessman Walter Liew and his company USA Performance Technology Inc. along with  Robert Maegerle, the former DuPont engineer, guilty of conspiracy to commit economic espionage and possession of trade secrets and a number of other charges.

The US Attorney’s office spoke in favor of the decision stating, “Fighting economic espionage and trade secret theft is one of the top priorities of this office and we will aggressively pursue anyone, anywhere, who attempts to steal valuable information from the United States. . .  . As today’s verdict demonstrates, foreign governments threaten our economic and national security by engaging in aggressive and determined efforts to steal U.S. intellectual property. I commend the efforts of the women and men of the FBI and the IRS in protecting America’s businesses and our national security.”

The jury’s verdict came after nearly a week of deliberations, following six weeks of testimony detailing Liew’s efforts to steal DuPont’s secrets and secure contracts with Chinese companies, including Pangang Group Co. and its subsidiaries, to build titanium-dioxide-making factories in China.  The Judge ordered Liew to prison, while Maegerle remains free.  Both are scheduled to be sentenced June 10.

NEW 337 CASE AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES FOR IMPORTS OF SULFENTRAZONE

Docket No: 3004

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Lisa a. Chiarini

Firm/Org: Hughes, Hubbard, & Reed LLP

Behalf Of: FMC Corporation

Date Received: March 5, 2014

Commodity: Sulfentrazone from China

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 Sulfentrazone, Sylfentrazone Compositions, and Processes for Making Sulfentrazone. The proposed respondents are: Beijing Nutrichem Science and Technology Stock Co., Ltd., China; Summit Agro USA LLC, Cary, North Carolina; Summit Agro North America Holding Corporation, New York, New York; and Jiangxi Heyi Chemicals Co. Ltd., China.

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

On February 13, 2014, Back Joy Orthotics filed a patent and copyright case against Forvic International, a Korean company, and Wook Yoon, a Korean national, against imports of back seat supports that are produced in China.  BACKJOY PATENT CASE

On February 17, 2014 Simon Nicholas Richmond filed a patent infringement case against Forever Gifts in Texas and Forever Gifts in China for imports of solar garden lights that allegedly infringe his patent. FOREVER SOLAR POWER GARDEN LIGHTS

On February 6, 2014,AIM IP filed a patent infringement case against Futurewei Technologies dba Huawei.  FUTUREWEI HUAWEI CASE

On February 27, 2014, Smartphone Technologies filed new patent cases against ZTE and Huawei.  SMARTPHONE HUAWEI  SMARTPHONE ZTE

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C CASE

As mentioned in my last e-mail, the Vitamin C case is wrapping up at the District Court level.  The attached final judgment was revised downward from $153 million to a $147 million judgment against by Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Hebei”) and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. (“NCPGC”) for price fixing because of double counting.  VITAMIN C JUDGMENT REVISED 147 MILLION

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

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

Commentators have observed that governments are increasingly using antitrust and other regulatory powers for broader political and economic purposes.

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 February 19th, the head of China’s NDRC confirmed that it was investigating Qualcomm and also Interdigtal for potential antitrust violations.  Both companies were raided by Chinese agents in November and have delivered statements to Chinese investigators.  The NDRC said that Qualcomm Inc. was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position and could face record fines of more than $1 billion.  Any settlement with InterDigital or Qualcomm is likely to include commitments to lower patent licensing fees for Chinese customers.

The NDRC is also looking at drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline and Apple. Apparently, the Chinese government has decided to use the nation’s antitrust laws to level the playing field for all companies.

SECURITIES

TOM GORMAN, DORSEY SECURITIES/SEC EXPERT, INTERVIEWED ON CHINESE TELEVISION

Recently, Tom Gorman, a partner in our Washington DC, who used to work in the Enforcement Division in the Securities and Exchange Commission, was interviewed by Phoenix Television on the refusal of Chinese Auditors to supply the SEC Accounting Documents from Chinese companies and the problems that have come from IPOs/securities listings of Chinese companies in the US.  The link to the interview is

http://video19.ifeng.com/video07/2014/02/09/1691951-102-007-0040.mp4

 FCPA DIGEST

Dorsey has just published its attached Foreign Corrupt Practices Digest.  FCPA DIGEST  With regards to China, the Digest states:

CHINA

Avon Products

Avon Products Inc. estimates a payment of up to $132 million to settle an ongoing corruption investigation. The US Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) alleged that Avon has paid bribes in China and other countries in exchange for permits to sell its products.

It has been reported that following an internal investigation in 2008, Avon discovered that questionable payments and gifts of millions of dollars have been made to officials in China, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, India and Japan. In 2011, Avon fired four executives, including the general manager and the finance chief of the company’s China unit.

Since 2008, the company has reportedly spent about $340 million in legal and other costs. The investigation is ongoing.

 JPMorgan

It has been alleged that a top Chinese regulator, Xiang Junbo, with interests in the insurance sector, asked Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan, for a favor to hire a young job applicant.

JPMorgan reportedly secured a number of business deals with Chinese insurance companies following Mr. Dimon’s meeting with Mr. Xiang.

US authorities are investigating whether hiring at JPMorgan and other banks was done for the purposes of securing contracts with Chinese companies.

 Former Minister of Public Security

It is reported that Mr. Zhou Yongkang, former member of the Politburo Standing Committee and Minister of the Public Security, is being investigated for alleged corruption.

The investigation is reportedly part of a wider national anti-corruption campaign particularly targeted at current and former executives of the China National Petroleum Corporation.

It has been reported that Mr. Yongkang is under house arrest. Investigations are still pending.

COMPLAINTS

On February 4, 2014, a class action securities case was filed Rodney Omanoff et al. v. Patrizio & Zhao, Xinggeng John Zhao for misstating the financial information of Keyuan Petrochemicals, Inc.,  a Nevada corporation, headquartered in China.  KEYYUAN PETROCHEMICALS

On February 6, 2014, the US Government, Securities and Exchange Commission/SEC filed an insider trade case against Hao He a/k/a Jimmy He for trading shares of Sina Corporation in Shanghai, China based on inside information.  HAO HE

On February 19, 2014, a class action securities case was filed by Maria Cecilia Ghilardoti against Montaage Technology Group and various Chinese individuals.  Montage Technology is a Caymans Company with substantial semiconductor plants and other operations in China and Hong Kong.  MONTAGE SECURITIES COMPLAINT

On February 20, 2014 Peter Schiff et al filed a class action securities case against China Nutrifruit Group Limited, a Chinese company in Daqing, China.  Schiff v China Nutrifruit Group~

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–REAGAN PREDICTED IT, TRADE, CUSTOMS, 337/PATENTS, US CHINA ANTITRUST, AND SECURITIES

Washington Monument After the Snow Washington DCJanuary 3, 2014

“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN , JUNE 28, 1986

Dear Friends,

There have been some major developments in the trade, Customs, patents, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

In looking at the first posts I wrote on my blog, they were relatively short, but with the US litigation against Chinese companies in the US and the Chinese litigation against US companies growing, the Posts will grow even larger.

As mentioned before, the US China Trade War is expanding into many different areas.  Trade and Customs were simply the first areas of attack.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN PREDICTED TRADE WAR WITH CHINA

My intention was to upload this post to my blog by the end of December.  Unfortunately, did not make it, but while on Christmas break I was at the Ronald Reagan Center in Santa Barbara, California.

In October 1980, I joined the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) as a staff attorney in the Office of General Counsel and later in the Chief Counsel’s office in the Commerce Department.  During that entire time, Ronald Reagan was President.  During that period, the ITC was also the most free trade Commission in its history as Reagan appointed Commissioner after Commissioner with strong free trade ideologies, such as Susan Liebeler, Anne Brunsdale, and Robert Cass.  From my observation, Ronald Reagan was the most free trade president in my lifetime.  Congress, however, does not like free traders.

While at the Santa Barbara Center, I listened to the attached speech by President Ronald Reagan on international trade and was amazed because he predicted with absolute accuracy the present state of trade relations with China.  REAGAN IT SPEECH  On June 28, 1986 from his California Ranch, President Reagan stated as follows:

 

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

That’s because international trade is one of those issues that politicians find an unending source of temptation. Like a 5-cent cigar or a chicken in every pot, demanding high tariffs or import restrictions is a familiar bit of flimflammery in American politics.

But cliches and demagoguery aside, the truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth. You see, trade barriers and protectionism only put off the inevitable. Sooner or later, economic reality intrudes, and industries protected by the Government face a new and unexpected form of competition. It may be a better product, a more efficient manufacturing technique, or a new foreign or domestic competitor.

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

We had an excellent example of this in our own history during the Great Depression. Most of you are too young to remember this, but not long after the stock market crash of 1929, the Congress passed something called the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Many economists believe it was one of the worst blows ever to our economy. By crippling free and fair trade with other nations, it internationalized the Depression. It also helped shut off America’s export market, eliminating many jobs here at home and driving the Depression even deeper.

Well, since World War II, the nations of the world showed they learned at least part of their lesson. They organized the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, to promote free trade. It hasn’t all been easy going, however. 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.”

 

Several thoughts come to mind when reading this speech.  When President Reagan speaks of a “protected industry” that  “is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition”, think the US Steel Industry, which has had antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place against steel imports for more than 40 years.  Is Bethlehem Steel alive today?  No, the orders did not work.

Second, President Reagan mentions the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.  The real name of that law is the Tariff Act of 1930, and where are the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws to be found—The Tariff Act of 1930.  Yes, many parts of the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act are alive today.

Finally President Reagan truly predicted the Trade War with China, including the Chinese reaction to the Solar Cells antidumping and countervailing duty cases and the other trade cases against China.  The Solar Cells cases against China has led to the Polysilicon antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the US, wiping out $2 billion in US exports to China.  The Section 421 Tires case described below led to Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty cases against automobiles and chicken from the US.

The Trade War with China truly has become a pie fight in the old Hollywood comedies– “Everything and everybody just gets messier and messier,” but the sad part is that it costs jobs.

TRADE

SOLAR CELLS—NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE TO CLOSE THIRD COUNTRY LOOPHOLE AND AGAINST CHINA AND TAIWAN

On December 31, 2013, Solar World filed another antidumping and countervailing duty petition to close the third country loophole against China and Taiwan with alleged antidumping rates of 298%.

The antidumping and countervailing duty petition covers crystalline silicon photovoltaic products, including solar cells, modules and panels,  from China and Taiwan.  The specific products covered by the new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations are:

“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. . . .”

“Also excluded from the scope of this investigation are any products covered by the existing antidumping and countervailing duty orders on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules, from the People’s Republic of China- case numbers A-570-979 and C-570-980.”

Attached is a copy of the injury petition.  AD CVD CASE SOLAR WORLD TAIWAN AND CHINA

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.  Chinese companies also must be prepared to submit separate rate applications in this new antidumping case to get the average rate.

On January 3, 2014, the US International Trade Commission issued the attached notice regarding the preliminary injury investigation in the new Solar Cells, Modules and Panels case against China and Taiwan.  USITC Solar Panels PRELIMNARY NOTICE  The ITC’s preliminary conference is scheduled for January 21st in Washington DC.

If anyone is interested in participating in the case at the ITC or the Commerce Department, please feel free to contact me.

FIRST SOLAR CELLS CASE–REVIEW REQUESTS

In the first Solar Cells case, the first annual review investigations have just started up, which will determine the actual liability of US importers for antidumping and countervailing duties on their imports.  On December 31, 2013, Solar World and the other US solar cell producers filed the attached letters requesting that the Chinese companies named in the letters be included in the review investigations. AD SolarWorld Review Request-12-31-13 SolarWorld CVD Review Request-12-31-13

If you are a Chinese producer/exporter and you are named in the letter, you must partcipate in the review investigation or you will lose your 24% antidumping rate and your new rate will be 250%.  If you are an importer of solar cells during the specific review periods and your Chinese suppliers are named in these letters, you must make sure that they participate in the review investigations.  If your suppliers do not participate, the antidumping rate will go from 24% to 250% and you the importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—BALI/DOHA ROUND AND TPP

In the trade world, the most important developments may be the WTO negotiations in Bali and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.  Both negotiations could have a major impact on China trade.

Attached is an article that I have written together with a Canadian trade and customs lawyer about the impact of the TPP from both the US and Canadian point of view.FINAL ARTICLE TPP US CHINA

DOHA ROUND-BALI

From China’s point of view, the WTO negotiations in the Doha Round are extremely important.  The only way that China can deter many trade actions is to work within the multilateral framework to reduce trade barriers to Chinese products.

Multilateral WTO negotiations are even more important for China because of the ongoing TPP negotiations, which at this moment do not include China.  As indicated in my attached article on the TPP, the US and other countries see the TPP negotiations as one way to offset China’s rise in the trade area.

But multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations are by their nature a give and take.  All countries in the negotiations have to be willing to reduce some of their own trade barriers to persuade other countries to lower their trade barriers.  No country wins or loses on all issues.  By their nature, trade negotiations involve tradeoffs.

So the WTO and TPP trade negotiations are going to be of continued interest to Chinese companies and US importers.

WTO NEGOTIATIONS-BALI

As mentioned in a past post, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) pointed to the coming World Trade Organization (“WTO”) multilateral negotiations in Bali on trade facilitation measures, which would streamline customs procedures, as being very important as well as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 other Pacific Rim countries, which were “posed to close”.

On November 27, 2013, however, there were reports that the WTO multilateral negotiations in Bali had broken down, in part over the Trade Facilitation report.  But those statements were premature.

On December 6, 2013, WTO members announced that a Trade Facilitation Agreement had been struck by the member countries.  This would be the first WTO-wide agreement in the organization’s nearly two decade history.  Round-the-clock negotiations at the conference led to the so-called Bali package -the first membership-wide agreement since the WTO was created in 1995.  The Bali Package includes measures on trade facilitation, intended to streamline customs and other procedures that affect the shipment of goods across borders, as well as provisions on agriculture and economic development.

“For the first time in our history: the WTO has truly delivered.” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a December 5th statement. “I challenged you all, here in Bali, to show the political will we needed to take us across the finish line. You did that. And I thank you for it.”

The WTO was able to overcome objections from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua because it did not address a U.S. embargo against Cuba, which has been in place for more than 50 years, and other trade embargoes.  The agreement was to add an additional sentence in Bali deal’s text that upheld the “principle of non-discrimination in goods in transit.”

India also raised concerns over part of the package’s agriculture section that dealt with agricultural subsidy programs that some developing countries offer to promote “food security” and combat hunger.

Those concerns, however, appeared to have been largely addressed in the draft text circulated December 3rd, which contained an interim agreement, under which WTO members would refrain from lodging disputes against developing countries that stockpile crops as part of a food security program, as long as the subsidies do not distort trade.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics said an ambitious agreement on trade facilitation could add $960 billion to the world economy.  But the symbolism is more important.  The Bali Agreement is very important for both developed and developing countries.  Many of the FTA agreements, such as the ongoing TPP agreements, could hurt the developing countries the most.  The movement of both the TPP and the Trans- Atlantic Agreement puts more pressure on the WTO countries to reach a deal.

The importance of the Bali Agreement is that it means the WTO can still be an effective forum for truly multilateral trade negotiations.  If no deal had been reached in Bali, this could have led to the collapse of the WTO as a multilateral forum to negotiate reductions of trade barriers.

In a speech in Bali, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo stated, “What’s at stake is the cause of multilateralism itself”

TPP NEGOTIATIONS RUN INTO HEADWINDS

The USTR and US government officials were predicting that the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) negotiations would conclude at the end of the year with an Agreement.  That was simply too optimistic.  Secret negotiations are going to generate controversey.

On December 10th, the Trade Ministers for the 12 countries negotiating the TPP announced in Singapore “substantial progress” in the talks, but there would be no deal by the end of the year.  In a joint statement, the Ministers indicated that they had engaged in productive discussions, identifying potential solutions to a number of outstanding obstacles, but more meetings would be held in 2014.

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee of U.S. House of Representatives, indicated that critical work lay ahead, especially the continued closure of Japan’s market to U.S. cars and agricultural products, the implementation of enforceable labor and environmental rules, and strict rules on currency manipulation and state-owned enterprises.

South Korea has indicated interest in the talks, but it is unlikely that any other country would join the agreement while the talks are still ongoing.  Presently, the TPP negotiations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The two most important countries for the US, however, are Japan and possibly Vietnam.  Japan is important because of decades long problems involving automobiles and agriculture products, and Vietnam because as a non-market economy Communist country, it could be a forerunner to China.

 On December 10th Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) stated that there had been significant progress in the Singapore Round and countries will continue their work in January.

“The headway achieved so far on TPP is positive, but more work remains. There are longstanding issues that need to be resolved, like access for U.S. automakers and farmers, and we should take the time to get this agreement right. I look forward to consulting with Ambassador Froman when he returns on the next steps. Concluding these negotiations, as well as other trade agreements, will require Congressional passage of Trade Promotion Authority legislation. Given the considerable bipartisan and bicameral progress that has been made on that front, I expect we will be in a position to do so early next year if we have the Administration’s active participation.”

In addition, Congressional leaders announced that they had come to agreement on providing the Administration Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority.

But the TPP then ran into headwinds.

AGRICULTURE

On December 19, 2013, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, American Soybean Association, International Dairy Foods Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Association, U.S. Dairy Export Council, U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Wheat Associates, USA Rice Federation announced that they would oppose the TPP if a final version did not require Japan to eliminate tariffs on virtually all US agricultural exports.

In the attached letter AG LETTER TO USTR to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the seventeen agriculture industry groups stated:

“Dear Mr. Ambassador:

We are writing to express our concern with the state of play of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Each of our organizations has expressed in the past strong support for a comprehensive, high-standard TPP agreement. However, we have watched with growing alarm the unwillingness of Japanese negotiators to present a comprehensive offer on agricultural products, and we now believe this situation is threatening to undermine the negotiations.

In previous negotiations, the United States has demanded and received from developing country trading partners full and comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector. Yet in the TPP negotiations, Japan – a rich, developed country – is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector. We consider an agreement that includes such special treatment for Japan to be unacceptable.

If Japan is allowed to claim exceptions for sensitive products, other TPP partners will inevitably demand the right to do the same. This could quickly lead to the unraveling of the agreement, as other parties pull their offers on sensitive products, or their concessions on sensitive issues, off the table.

However, even if it were possible to prevent the agreement among current parties from unraveling, granting exceptions to Japan, or any other party, would have far-reaching consequences. As the TPP expands to include other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, we can expect other countries with sensitivities in the agricultural sector, such as China, to make similar demands. Moreover, a weak agreement with Japan would inevitably have significant negative implications for our ability to reach an acceptable agreement with the EU in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.

U.S. agriculture has always supported trade agreements and Trade Promotion Authority as the most effective means of eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers and expanding global trade. However, the market access package you negotiate with Japan has the potential to impact billions in future exports and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

In conclusion, TPP must include comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector by all participating countries. If Japan continues to insist on unreasonable protections to a range of agricultural categories, we ask you to consider concluding TPP without Japan. It will ultimately be difficult for our organizations to support a TPP agreement with Japan that does not include comprehensive trade liberalization for all agricultural sectors.”

This is an extremely important development because US agriculture is the primary force pushing for Free Trade Agreements.  If the farmers do not support the TPP, there will be no agreement.

UNIONS

On December 9th, The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (“IAM”), which represents around 700,000 current and former industrial workers, announced that the TPP would be a job killer, leading to a massive loss of American jobs.  The IAM argued that past trade deals did not create jobs and has lead to a “death sentence” for American workers.

The IAM stated that it is strongly opposed to the revival of “fast-track” authorities that expired in 2007 and “If TPP is implemented, U.S. manufacturing may well find itself on the endangered species list.”

DRUGS AND IP

On December 11, 2013, potential provisions in the TPP on drug patent protections and the length of copyright terms came under fire with Democratic lawmakers, library associations and consumer groups voicing concern over proposals that are currently on the table.

Several Democratic Congressmen urged USTR to reconsider its reported proposals for handling pharmaceutical patents in the TPP. CONG LETTER A number of libraries, digital rights and consumer groups argued against a copyright protection for a term of 70 years after the creator of a particular work dies.

Representative Henry Waxman, D-Calif and Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah sent separate letters arguing for and against the proposal of a 12-year market exclusivity period for biologics – drugs developed through biologic processes that can be used to treat diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.  Waxman argues for 7 years and Hatch is arguing for 12 years.

As Representative Waxman states in the attached letter Waxman TPP Drug IP Letter:

“The United States only recently established its biosimilars pathway when it enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (Pub. L. No. 111-148) and the consequences of PPACA’s mandated twelve years of biologics exclusivity are not yet known.

Proposing twelve years of exclusivity in the context of TPP negotiations would conflict with stated Administration policy, as reflected in President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposal, recommending that the exclusivity period for biologics be reduced to seven years. Were the TPP ultimately to contain a twelve year biologics exclusivity provision, it would impede the ability of Congress to achieve the President’s proposed seven year change because doing so would run afoul of U.S. trade obligations.

As we have discussed before, it is also critical that USTR ensure that developing countries are not left behind in this agreement. The United States must ensure that the TPP does not result in generic medicines becoming available in TPP developing countries later than in the United States. In addition, the patent flexibilities available to developing nations in the Doha Declaration on Public Health should not be denied or weakened in the agreement.”

SECTION 421 SPECIAL SAFEGUARD PROVISION AGAINST CHINA EXPIRED ON DECEMBER 11, 2013

On December 11, 2013, Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974, a special safeguard law against China, expired as a result of provisions in the US China WTO Agreement.  The safeguard allowed the President to impose higher tariffs and other trade relief if the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) determined that increased imports from China caused or threatened material injury to a US industry.

Although there were several affirmative ITC Section 421 determinations during the Bush Administration, President Bush refused to provide relief.  The provision resulted in trade restrictions only once, when President Obama approved an ITC determination that the importation of Chinese rubber tires was injuring U.S. tire manufacturers.

Many US tire producers, however, were opposed to the Section 421 case, but the Unions were very much in favor of the relief, which President Obama issued to counter criticism in an election year that he was not tough enough on China.

President Obama’s decision to impose relief in the Tires case, however, resulted in the Chinese government bringing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the United States on automobiles and chicken.  The Chicken AD and CVD orders in China continue to block approximately $1 billion in the US exports of chicken to China.

SILICA BRICKS

On December 12, 2013, in another surprising decision, the ITC in 6-0 unanimous determination reached a negative injury determination in the antidumping case on silica bricks from China.  ITC NEGATIVE SILICA BRICKS The ITC negative determination followed a Commerce Department affirmative determination issuing Chinese companies antidumping rates ranging from 63.81 to 73.1% on imports of silica bricks.

JANUARY REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS

On January 2, 2014, the Commerce Department issued its monthly notice stating that Chinese companies and US importers that want review investigations in the following investigations should file such a request by the end of the month.  The specific antidumping and countervailing duty investigations at issue are:

Antidumping Investitgations

On THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA:
Crepe Paper Products, A-570-895………………    1/1/13-12/31/13
Ferrovanadium, A-570-873…………………….    1/1/13-12/31/13
Folding Gift Boxes, A-570-866………………..    1/1/13-12/31/13
Potassium Permanganate, A-570-001………………..    1/1/13-12/31/13
Wooden Bedroom Furniture, A-570-890………………    1/1/13-12/31/13

Countervailing Duty Proceedings

THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA:
Certain Oil Country Tubular Goods, C-570-944…..    1/1/13-12/31/13
Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, C-   1/1/13-12/31/13
570-936…………………………………..

SHELLFISH

On December 5th, the Washington State Government reported that on December 3 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, Canada, Washington, Oregon, and northern California.  WASHINGTON SHELLFISH ANNOUNCE

China reported a shipment of geoducks tested high in paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) and arsenic.

The Washington Government has stated that it is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and its state partners gathering facts, tracing the geoducks to the original harvest area, and closely reviewing its PSP test data.

On December 20th, Washington State and tribal officials closed a 135-acre geoduck-harvesting area outside Federal Way Washington until they could fully investigate the toxicity levels that caused China to ban shellfish imported from the West Coast.

Washington State officials learned that arsenic was the toxin Chinese authorities detected in a shipment of geoduck clams to China from Washington’s Poverty Bay.

That shipment, along with one from Ketchikan, Alaska, led China on Dec. 3 to ban all imports of shellfish harvested in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California.

The Washington Department of Health traced the shipment back to 385 pounds of geoduck harvested in October by the Puyallup Tribe in Poverty Bay on what the Department of Natural Resources calls the Redondo Tract.

“There are no federal safety standards at all for arsenic in shellfish because it is not something that is typically an issue,” said Tim Church, the health department’s director of communications. “With the tests that we’ve done in the past, we’ve never found levels of arsenic that would be a concern for eating shellfish.”

China has not said when it will lift the ban on West Coast shellfish.

The Chinese government’s decision to ban all shellfish harvested from Northern California to Alaska would appear to be excessive, but that decision must be taken in context.

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.

CHINESE TEXTILE MANUFACTURER MOVES TO—SOUTH CAROLINA

In a bright spot, it has been reported that a Chinese yarn maker has decided it can make more money setting up shop in the US in South Carolina.  Keer Group Co., a yarn spinning factory in Hangzhou, China, has moved to South Carolina.

A number of Asian textile manufacturers have decided to set up production in the U.S. to save money as salaries, energy and other costs rise at home. Keer has invested $218 million to build a factory in Lancaster County, not far from Charlotte, N.C. The new plant will pay half as much as Mr. Zhu does for electricity in China and get local government support, he says.  Keer expects to create at least 500 jobs.

In another benefit, Keer can ship yarn to manufacturers in Central America, which, unlike companies in China, can send finished clothes duty-free to the U.S.

In September, JN Fibers Inc. of China agreed to build a $45 million plant in South Carolina that turns plastic bottles into polyester fibers used to stuff pillows and furniture. That investment is expected to create 318 jobs.

Keer stated costs for industrial land in Hangzhou have increased because China’s textile industry is plagued by overcapacity, which has squeezed profits, and local governments are reluctant to sell land to producers.

The local government in South Carolina, which has 8.1% unemployment, has set an annual fixed fee in lieu of taxes that Keer will pay for 30 years. Sixty percent of that annual fee will be returned to the company each year until it has paid off a $7.7 million bond that the county issued to help buy the land.

MAKING OF A T-SHIRT

The reality of interdependence in our Trade World is illustrated by the attached video from the Colbert Report, which traces the production of a T-shirt sold in the United States from the cotton produced in the US to cloth produced in Indonesia to the T-shirt produced in Bangledesh. http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/431141/december-10-2013/alex-blumberg

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.

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. 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.

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE

CHICKEN

In response to a WTO determination, on December 27, 2013, MOFCOM announced that it would reinvestigate the antidumping and countervailing duties on chicken from the US, specifically against white-feather broiler chicken products from the U.S.

CUSTOMS

INSURANCE COMPANY LIABLE FOR NEW SHIPPER ANTIDUMPING DUTIES IN CRAWFISH CASE

In an antidumping new shipper review investigation on Crawfish from China, a US importer, New Phoenix, posted eight single-transaction bonds issued by Great American to cover seven entries of crawfish tailmeat, with a value of $1,219,458 for each bond or a total of $6,097,290 in liability.  When the importer could not pay, the US Customs Service sued the insurance company for the amount of the bonds plus interest.

In attached decision, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit orders Great American to pay the $6 million plus postjudgment interest.  INSURANCE COMPANIES OWE AD DUTIES

RHINO HORN

On December 19, 2013, the US Justice Department announced that Zhifei Li, the owner of an antique business in China, had pled guilty to being the organizer of an illegal wildlife smuggling conspiracy in which 30 rhinoceros horns and numerous objects made from rhino horn and elephant ivory worth more than $4.5 million were smuggled from the United States to China.  See attached Justice Department notice.  RHINO HORN

Li was arrested in Florida in January 2013 on federal charges brought under seal in New Jersey.  Shortly after arriving in the country, he pled guilty to a total of 11 counts: one count of conspiracy to smuggle and violate the Lacey Act; seven counts of smuggling; one count of illegal wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act; and two counts of making false wildlife documents.

Li was arrested as part of “Operation Crash” – a nationwide effort led by the USFWS and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division stated:

The take-down of the Li smuggling ring is an important development in our effort to enforce wildlife protection laws. Rhino horn can sell for more than gold and is just as rare, but rhino horn and elephant ivory are more than mere commodities. Each illegally traded horn or tusk represents a dead animal, poaching, bribery, smuggling and organized crime. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the law designed to protect wildlife. This is a continuing investigation.

In pleading guilty, Li admitted that he sold 30 smuggled, raw rhinoceros horns worth approximately $3 million –approximately $17,500 per pound – to factories in China where raw rhinoceros horns are carved into fake antiques known as Zuo Jiu (which means “to make it as old” in Mandarin).  In China, there is a centuries-old tradition of drinking from an intricately carved “libation cup” made from a rhinoceros horn. Owning or drinking from such a cup is believed by some to bring good health, and true antiques are highly prized by collectors. The escalating value of such items has resulted in an increased demand for rhinoceros horn that has helped fuel a thriving black market, including recently carved fake antiques.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

NO 337 VIOLATION IF IMPORTED PRODUCT ON ENTRY DOES NOT INFRINGE THE PATENT

On December 13, 2013, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in the attached Suprema, Inc. and Mentalix Inc. vs. ITC held that an exclusion order based on a violation of § 337(a)(1)(B)(i) may not be predicated on a theory of induced infringement where no direct infringement occurs until post-importation.  CAFC Slip Opinion 12-1170 SUPREMA INC – CROSS MATCH v ITC

The patents at issue concern fingerprint machines.  The Suprema fingerprint machines had multiple uses, but after the fingerprint machines were imported into the United States, software from Mentalix was applied to the Suprema fingerprint machines, resulting in infringement of patents held by a US company.  The ITC found that Suprema and Mentalix had violated section 337 based on an induced infringement theory and issued an exclusion order.

The CAFC determined not so fast.  Section 337 is also a trade statute, and the Commission’s authority in section 337 cases is based on its jurisdiction over the imported products.  According to the CAFC, however, the imported products have to infringe the patent at the time the products are imported into the US, especially where the imported product has multiple uses and the only infringing use happens after the product is imported into the US.

As the CAFC stated in its opinion:

“The Commission’s mandate to deal with matters of patent infringement under § 337(a)(1)(B)(i) is thus premised on the “importation,” “sale for importation,” or “sale within the United States after importation” of “articles that . . . infringe.” . . . Thus, the Commission’s authority extends to “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable United States patent.” The focus is on the infringing nature of the articles at the time of importation, not on the intent of the parties with respect to the imported goods.  . . .

Given the nature of the conduct proscribed in § 271(b) and the nature of the authority granted to the Commission in § 337, we hold that the statutory grant of authority in § 337 cannot extend to the conduct proscribed in § 271(b) where the acts of underlying direct infringement occur post-importation. Section 337(a)(1)(B)(i) grants the Commission authority to deal with the “importation,” “sale for importation,” or “sale within the United States after importation” of “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable U.S patent.” The patent laws essentially define articles that infringe in § 271(a) and (c), and those provisions’ standards for infringement (aside from the “United States” requirements, of course) must be met at or before importation in order for the articles to be infringing when imported. Section 271(b) makes unlawful certain conduct (inducing infringement) that becomes tied to an article only through the underlying direct infringement. Prior to the commission of any direct infringement, for purposes of inducement of infringement, there are no “articles that . . . infringe”—a prerequisite to the Commission’s exercise of authority based on § 337(a)(1)(B)(i).

Consequently, we hold that the Commission lacked the authority to enter an exclusion order directed to Suprema’s scanners premised on Suprema’s purported induced infringement of the method claimed in the ’344 patent.”

The key point is that section 337 is not just an intellectual property statute; it is also a trade statute.  Section 337, just like the antidumping and countervailing duty law, regulates imports, and thus the CAFC is stating that since 337 is a trade statute, the product must be infringing at the time of importation.  If the infringement happens after importation, that can be a real problem for the US patent holder in a 337 case.

337 CASE RESULTS IN ANTITRUST RETALIATION IN CHINA

As indicated below, Interdigital has filed a section 337 case against Huawei.  Huawei retaliated by filing an antitrust case in China under Chinese law.  The Chinese government’s antitrust authority, NDRC, is now threatening jail time to Interdigital executives.

What is worse is that on December 20th, in the attached decision the ITC rejected Interdigital’s complaint and found no violation of section 337 so Interdigital lost the section 337 case, but is stuck with a Chinese antitrust case.  ITC NOTICE INTERDIGITAL  Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew.

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES

On December 11, 2013, Tyco filed a new 337 case against imports of certain surveillance systems.  One of the respondents is Ningbo Signatronic Technologies, Ltd., China.

The ITC notice is set forth below:

Docket No: 2990

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Brian R. Nester, Sidley Austin LLP

Behalf Of: Tyco Fire & Security Gmbh (TFSG), Sensormatic Electronic, LLC

(Sensormatic) and Tyco Integrated Security, LLC (TIS)

Date Received: December 11, 2013

Commodity: Acousto-Magnetic Electronic Article Surveillance Systems

Description: Letter to James R. Holbein, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Acousto-Magnetic Electronic Article Surveillance Systems, Components Thereof, and Products containing same. The proposed respondents are: Ningbo Signatronic Technologies, Ltd., China; All-Tag Security Americas, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida; All-Tag Security Hong Kong Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; All-Tag Europe SPRL; Brussels; All-Tag Security UK Ltd., United Kingdom; Best Security Industries, Delray Beach, FL; and Signatronic Corporation, Boca Raton, FL.

 

On December 18th, Pragmatus filed a section 337 case against ZTE on Wireless Devices.  The notice is below:

Docket No: 2992

Document Type:337 Complaint

Filed By:Anthony Grillo

Firm/Org:Marino and Grillo LLC

Behalf Of:Pragmatus Mobile, LLC

Date Received:December 18, 2013

Commodity:Wireless Devices, including Mobile Phones and Tablets II

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 Wireless Devices, Including Mobile Phones and Tablets II. The proposed respondents are Nokia Corporation (Nokia Oyj), Finland; Nokia, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA; Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, Korea; Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Ridgefield Park, NJ; Samsung Telecommunications America, L.L.C., richardson, TX; Sony Corporation, Tokyo; Sony Mobile Communications AB, Sweden; Sony Mobile Communications (USA), Inc., Atlanta, GA; ZTE Corporation, China; and ZTE (USA) Inc., Richardson TX.

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

On December 2, 2013, Chanel filed a major trademark suit against a number of John Doe Unknown companies that were infringing its trademarks.  CHANEL TMK CHINA In the Complaint Chanel states:

“Defendants are partnerships or unincorporated business associations, which operate through domain names registered with registrars in multiple countries, commercial internet e-stores via the third party marketplace website C2Coffer.com, and commercial Internet auction store via the third party marketplace website iOffer.com, and are comprised of individuals and/or business entities of unknown makeup, all of whom, upon information and belief, reside in the People’s Republic of China or other foreign jurisdictions with lax trademark enforcement systems.”

On December 3, 2013, Concinnnitas and George W. Hindman filed patent cases against Huawei Device USA Inc. and ZTE. CONCINNATIS HUAWEI CONCINNATIS ZTE

On December 11, 2013, in addition to the 337 case Tyco sued Ningbo for patent infringement in Federal District court.  NINGBO PATENT

On December 12, 2013, US company Harmonic Drive LLC filed a trademark case against NAC Harmonic Drive, Inc., Harmonic Drive Canada and Beijing CTKM Harmonic Drive Co.  HARMONIC DRIVE

On December 18, 2013 Content Guard Holdings, Inc., filed a patent case against Huawei Device USA and other companies. CONTENT GUARD HUAWEI

On December 17, 2013, Microsoft sued Sichuan Changhong Electric Co., Ltd. for software piracy. MICROSOFT STOLEN SOFTWARE

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C CASE

As mentioned, the Vitamin C case is wrapping up at the District Court level.  Attached is the final judgment with a $153 million judgment against by Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Hebei”) and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. (“NCPGC”) for price fixing.  VITAMIN C FINAL JUDGMENT

On December 30, 2013, the Judge amended the order to add an additional $4,093,163.35 to pay the legal fees of the lawyers bringing the case against the Chinese companies.  See the attached documents.  ATTORNEYS FEES VITAMIN C FINAL AMENDED JUDGMENT VITAMIN C CASE

Hebei Welcome has announced that it is appealing the Court’s final judgment.

Boies Schiller, the Plaintiffs’ lawyer, also announced on December 11th that it was paying associate bonuses that were as high as $300,000, with the average distribution across the litigation firm’s 133 associates at $85,000.

It pays to sue Chinese companies.

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

As mentioned in the last post, Qualcomm, a US mobile chip maker, announced that it is the target of an antitrust investigation led by the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), China’s top economic planning body and antitrust authority.  Also Cisco announced that Chinese companies are reducing their purchases of Cisco equipment in response to the N.S.A. disclosures and the recent US Congressional activity aimed at curtailing purchases of equipment from Huawei and other Chinese companies.

There are three Chinese government entities entrusted with investigating and enforcing the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law, which was passed in 2007: the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the Ministry of Commerce, and the NDRC.  The fact that the antitrust investigation is coming from the NDRC, which is in charge of price supervision and inspection, suggests that the government’s objective is to make 4G service more affordable before its introduction next year.

This year, the commission led an inquiry into six foreign dairy companies, including Mead Johnson Nutrition and Groupe Danone, after allegations that they broke anti-monopoly rules and fixed prices.  The investigation resulted in a fine of $109 million, a record for anti-monopoly violations in China.

Now China is using antitrust cases to counterattack 337 patent cases.

INTERDIGITAL—CHINA BRINGS ANTITRUST CASES IN RESPONSE TO 337 CASE

In July 2011, Interdigital filed a section 337 patent case at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) against Huawei.  In response, on December 5, 2011, Huawei filed two complaints before the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court (the Shenzhen Court) in China, alleging that, by filing the section 337 case and engaging in certain patent practices, InterDigital had (1) abused its dominant market position, contrary to the Anti-Monopoly Law of the People’s Republic of China (AML), and (2) as an owner of several Standard Essential Patents (“SEP”) for 2G, 3G and 4G telecommunications technologies, it had failed to negotiate a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory license for those patents.

On February 4, 2013, the Shenzhen Court ruled that InterDigital had abused its dominant market position and thus violated the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law by  tying its standard essential patents with non-standard essential patents during licensing negotiations and seeking injunctive relief against Huawei before the US Federal Court and in the section 337 case before the US ITC while still in negotiations with Huawei to force Huawei to accept unreasonable licensing terms, including excessive royalties.

InterDigital’s requirement that Huawei pay significantly (sometimes even 100 times) higher royalty rates than those required of Apple, Samsung and other companies for the same set of patents, even while Huawei’s global sales were much less than Apple and Samsung, appeared to the Courts to be prima facie evidence of discriminatory treatment. In addition, the Courts noted that InterDigital had also required Huawei to license back all of its global patents on a royalty-free basis (as of 31 December 2010, Huawei owned 31,869 Chinese patents, 8,892 PCT international patent applications and 8,279 overseas patents). To the Court, this appeared contrary to fair or reasonable principles.

The Shenzhen Court ordered InterDigital to cease its unlawful practices and pay Huawei $3.2 million in damages.

On October 28, 2013, there were reports that that the Guangdong Higher People’s Court affirmed most of the rulings of the Shenzhen Court, including the $3.2 million award in damages.

 Unfortunately, the decisions of both the Shenzhen Court and the Guangdong Higher People’s Court have not been publicly disclosed, possibly because of trade secret issues. Thus the following observations are based on media reports and an article by a Chinese attorney.

Apparently, the Chinese Court determined that the owner of a Standard Essentials Patent has a 100 per cent market share in the technology licensing market for that SEP and, therefore, a monopoly, no matter how the market is defined.   If the holder of the Standard Essentials Patent tries to extract supra competitive royalties from industry participants, that is abuse of monopoly power.  In addition, apparently, the Chinese courts determined that by seeking injunctive relief at the ITC under 337 against Huawei, a willing licensee, the conduct constituted an abuse of the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law.

Both the EC Competition Commission and the FTC have been concerned about the use of standard essential patents to exclude competition.

It should also be noted that the Chinese courts were also concerned that InterDigital’s principal business is patent licensing and that it does not manufacture any product. As a result, Huawei was in a weak bargaining position during licensing negotiations because cross-licensing would not be available, and InterDigital could make use of this advantage to extract more favorable contract terms from Huawei. The Shenzhen Court apparently found that InterDigital had tried to exploit this advantage, by insisting on unreasonably high royalties and requesting Huawei to license back its patents on a royalty-free basis.

There are reports that Qiu Yongqing, a senior judge at the Guangdong Higher People’s Court presiding over the case, is reported to have stated that Huawei “used antitrust law as a weapon to counterattack” monopolization by multinationals in the technology sector, and that other Chinese companies should learn from Huawei.

On December 16, 2013, the dispute between Interdigital and Huawei escalated. In a letter to the NDRC, Interdigital’s CEO announced that it would not send executives to a December 18th meeting with Chinese authorities over China’s monopoly investigation due to threats of possible imprisonment of Interdigital executives, which allegedly included U.S. counsel accompanying the firm to the meeting.

In a statement, CEO William Merritt said:

“To this date, we have cooperated fully with the NDRC’s investigation of our company, and continue to believe that we have done absolutely nothing wrong . . .  However, we are simply unable to comply with any investigation that is accompanied by a threat to the safety of our executives.”

Interdigital’s letter indicated also that the NDRC had informed it that its probe was sparked by InterDigital’s suit in the U.S. International Trade Commission against Chinese firms.

Meanwhile, there are reports out of China that the NDRC will recruit at least 170 new employees for the antitrust law enforcement team to battle price fixing.  The NDRC said its antitrust probes focus on six industries – aerospace, daily chemicals, automobiles, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and home appliances.

Thus if a US Company brings a 337 IP case at the ITC against Chinese companies, it should be prepared for a possible antitrust case in China.

What goes around, comes around. 

SECURITIES

Attached is a description of Dorsey’s litigation team to handle for Chinese companies US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Class Actions Securities cases.  DORSEY SECURITIES LITIGATION TEAM

CHINESE AUDIT DOCUMENTS TURNED OVER TO SEC

On December 13, 2013, it was reported that Chinese governmental authorities have turned over more audit documents to U.S. regulators regarding U.S.-traded Chinese companies as part of a sweeping U.S. probe of accounting fraud by Chinese companies publicly traded in the US.

Audit documents regarding at least six Chinese companies trading on U.S. exchanges now have been either turned over to U.S. regulators or are “in the pipeline” to be furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).

The fight for the audit document resulted from SEC efforts to probe a wave of accounting and disclosure problems at more than 100 U.S.-traded Chinese companies that surfaced starting in 2011. U.S. investors lost billions of dollars when the companies’ stocks plunged once the problems were disclosed. The SEC has filed more than a dozen lawsuits against some of these Chinese companies and their executives and has won settlements in some cases.

But the investigations have been impeded because China-based audit firms, including Chinese affiliates of the Big Four, have refused to hand over audit documents to the SEC out of fear that providing the documents would violate China’s strict state-secrecy rules, which could land their auditors in jail.

Ultimately, that dispute led to the agreement earlier this year, which addressed the audit firms’ concerns by having them give the documents to Chinese regulators, who then would provide them to the U.S.

SERVING CHINESE COMPANIES IN SECURITIES AND OTHER US LITIGATION BY J. JACKSON, DORSEY LITIGATION PARTNER

SERVICE ISSUES IN US LITIGATION AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES

By

J. Jackson, Partner and Chairman of Dorsey’s China Litigation Practice

Attached is a copy of the opinion in Bravetti v. Liu (D.N.J. December 11, 2013), SERVICE CHINESE RESPONDENTS Bavetti v Liu  which may be of interest to Chinese companies.  In Bravetti, Plaintiffs proceeding derivatively on behalf of American Oriental Bioengineering, Inc. sued current and former officer and directors, each of whom is a resident of the PRC.  The matter came before the Court, Magistrate Judge Bongiovanni, on Plaintiffs’ motion to allow service on the individual defendants by personally serving the U.S. counsel for the company, American Oriental.  Defendants opposed the motion, arguing that the Hague Convention provides the exclusive means for service of process on PRC’s residents and that service on U.S. counsel for the company did not comport with due process.  The Court rejected Defendants’ arguments and allowed service to proceed by personal service on U.S. counsel for the company.

Plaintiffs brought their motion under Rule 4(f)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides,

“(f) Serving an Individual in a Foreign Country. Unless federal law provides otherwise, an individual—other than a minor, an incompetent person, or a person whose waiver has been filed—may be served at a place not within any judicial district of the United States:

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(3) by other means not prohibited by international agreement, as the court orders.”

The Court allowed the requested service using the following analysis:  It began by acknowledging, “Courts may direct service when ‘the particularities and necessities of a given case require alternative service of process.’  See Rio Properties, Inc. v. Rio Int’l Interlink, 284 F.3d 1007 at 1016 (9th Cir. 2002).”

The Court further held that alternative service of process was not prohibited by the Hague Convention.  The Court noted that the Hague Convention does not apply “’where the address of the person to be served is not known.’”  Hague Convention, Art. 1.  Here, service was difficult under the Hague Convention, because the residences of the Defendants in the PRC was not known.  Further, the Court found that the Hague Convention does not apply because Plaintiff’s proposed method of service does not require the transmittal of documents abroad.  Under Khachatryan v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., 578 F.Supp.2d 1224, 1228 (C.D. Cal. 2008), the Hague Convention did not apply where Khachatryan served Toyota Japan under California law in a manner which did not require the transmittal of documents abroad.  Here, the proposed method to serve Loeb & Loeb in the United States does not require the transmittal of documents abroad.  Thus, the Hague convention does not apply.

The Court last addressed Defendants’ Due Process argument, finding that service on the Company’s U.S. counsel is “reasonably calculated, under the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them the opportunity to present their objections.”  Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank &Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 314 (1950).  In finding service on the company’s counsel appropriate here, the Court relied on opinions from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, including Brown v. China Integrated Energy, Inc., 285 F.R.D. 560, 566 (C.D. Cal. 2012) (citations omitted) and Rose v. Deer Consumer Products, Inc., 2011 WL 6951969, at *2 (C.D. Cal 2011), both of which allowed service on U.S. registered agents or counsel for individuals residing in the PRC.

Bravetti’s holding should not be limited to Securities derivative litigation.  Whenever a plaintiff finds itself faced with service on PRC residents who, either individually, by agency, or through direct or indirect counsel have a presence in the U.S., that plaintiff will be encouraged to proceed under Civil Procedure Rule 4(f)(3) and seek permission to allow service on their agents, their counsel, or the agents or counsel of the companies on which they serve.

Chinese companies need to keep these issues in mind when they participate in US litigation.

SEC ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS

Tom Gorman, a partner in our Washington DC office, who was originally with US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) enforcement division, was quoted in the attached article about how the SEC has increased its enforcement capability after the Bernie Madoff case.  GORMAN SEC

COMPLAINTS

On December 2, 2013, the attached class action securities case was filed by John Hsieh against NQ Mobile and various individuals.  HSIEH NQ MOBILE

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

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