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

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC ReflectioFIRM UPDATE

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

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

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Obama went to state:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the GAO report states:

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

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

The GAO Report concludes at page 56-47:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are key points from these new regulations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA CHINESE VERSION OF THE ARTICLE

中国进口太阳能电池反倾销案即将到来的最后期限重返美国市场的机会

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEEL TRADE CASES

HOT ROLLED STEEL FLAT PRODUCTS

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US China Trade War–Rise in Trump/Sanders Protectionism, Steel Cases, New AD and 337 Cases, False Claims Act

 New York City Skyline East River Empire State Building NightTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET
“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986
US CHINA TRADE WAR JUNE 7, 2016 

Dear Friends,

This is the second article of a several part series on how weak free trade arguments have led to the sharp rise of protectionism of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the probable demise of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“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 will explore in depth the protectionist arguments and the reason for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Subsequent articles will describe the weak free trade arguments to counter the protectionism, the Probable Demise of the TPP, failure of Congressional Trade Policy and what can be done to provide the safety net that will allow Congress again to vote for free trade agreements so that the United States can return to its leadership in the Free Trade area.  Congress has to fix the trade situation now before the US and the World return to the Smoot Hawley protectionism of the 1930s.

In addition, set forth are several developments involving steel trade litigation, antidumping and countervailing duty reviews against Chinese companies, new antidumping and countervailing duty cases, new 337 cases against Chinese companies and finally a new False Claims Act settlement against a US importer for evasion of US antidumping duties.

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

REASONS FOR THE RISE OF TRUMP SANDERS PROTECTIONISM IN THE UNITED STATES

As part two of my series of articles on how weak free trade arguments have created the rise in protectionism and the probably demise of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), in this segment I will describe some of the reasons for the rise of Trump and Sanders and the protectionism that goes with it.

The simple truth is that when weak academic, theoretical economic arguments for free trade meet the hard visceral arguments of bombed out US factories and the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs, the free trade arguments melt away.  Weak theoretical free trade arguments will not be enough to stop the wave in protectionism sweeping the United States.  More has to be done.

In a recent article in Time Magazine entitled “Welcome to the Election from Hell”, Frank Luntz, a well-known pollster for Fox and CBS, stated that because there is so much anger in the focus groups and the US electorate, he has lost control of the focus groups he uses to test ideas.  One Trump supporter stated that he is not mad, he is angry and then stated:

“Because anger is way more than mad.  Angry is what happens when you’ve been kicked around like a dog for too long, and you’re ready to fight back.”

This explains the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders- anger in the electorate and also explains why recent polls have Donald Trump running neck in neck with Hilary Clinton.  Both Trump and Sanders are political outsiders.  Hilary is the symbol of the establishment and from what we are seeing from the electorate, this is definitely an outsider’s year.

But why has trade become a center of the Presidential campaign?  What explains the sharp rise in protectionism?

LOSS OF JOBS EXPLAINS THE RISE IN PROTECTIONISM

Jim McDermott in a May 11th article in the New York Post entitled, “Trump, Sanders Voters Don’t Want Handouts — They Want Jobs” stated:

“A popular knock on voters who support Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders because they have been “left behind” by free trade, globalization and technological progress is that they want a handout from Uncle Sam.

But the truth is the opposite: These voters want to work. They want jobs. And that’s the key to understanding their support for Trump or Sanders. . . .

In this political season, I’ve been asking some of them and their friends, and their now-adult kids, which presidential candidates they find appealing. Only two find support:  Sanders, the Vermont socialist, and Trump, the New York billionaire. Both candidates appeal to a working class that is frustrated, fed up and downright angry.

Neither can be bought.

To understand the simmering discontent of working-class folks who are attracted to  one (or both) of these candidates, you need to imagine you’ve either lost a job or  cannot break into the work force. Viewed from these perspectives, an academic debate about whether free trade results in net job losses or gains is mostly meaningless. These people want a good job, or at least a job no worse than the job they lost. Their economic futures seem to be on life support.

We can’t ignore the centrality of work in people’s lives. Most people want to work. Most people want to contribute to society and take care of their families. When the government adopts free-trade policies that pick winners (the better educated who gain new jobs) and losers (manufacturing workers), the government also needs to cushion the blow for the losers.

Since this hasn’t happened for the last couple of decades, anger has been building and is now finding a political outlet. Many Americans start to wonder: Our government helps rich Wall Street bankers but not Main Street homeowners? Supports elite universities but not vocational schools? Lowers taxes on the wealthiest Americans?

Our government has an obligation to help people adjust to seismic policy changes, like free trade. In the last couple of decades, trade agreements have resulted in, for example, the technology industry gaining ground, and the steel industry losing ground.  Besides picking winners and losers, free-trade policies introduce major economic anxiety into many previously stable families. . . .

Sanders and Trump tap into this disillusionment. They’re paying attention to the working class. They appear to actually understand, on a visceral level, the challenges faced by these Americans — and at least they seem to understand these voters aren’t moochers.  In different ways, they’re offering seething working-class Americans pathways to reclaiming what they’ve lost.

Until we admit that we have come precariously close to ending true social mobility in America, we’ll continue to see angry working-class voters approaching their boiling point. . . .”

The labor unions, such as the AFL-CIO, echo Mr. McDermott’s point.  The Unions say they do not want Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) for workers.  They want no more trade agreements.  TAA for workers is not good enough.  The Labor Unions want jobs for their workers.

As explained more below, it is the collateral destruction created by Trade Agreements, which puts the TPP directly at risk.  It is also the failure of Congressional policy when it comes to Trade Adjustment Assistance, in part, that has created this problem.  Congress gives $711 million in trade adjustment assistance to retrain workers for jobs, a very important program, but the jobs, in fact, may not exist.

But to save the companies and the jobs that go with them, Congress gives only $12.5 million total nationwide to help companies adjust to import competition and allow them to continue to exist and prosper along with jobs that go with them.

Trade Agreements, such as the TPP, do not create huge tidal waves of imports, but flash floods, which concentrate in one area and can wipe out US companies in an entire industry when they have no guidance on how to compete, survive and navigate through those flash floods.

But more on that below and in the next segment.  In this segment we need to analyze the tidal wave of rising protectionism in the United States.  If one combines the Trump and Sanders voters, that is a clear majority of the US voting electorate, and the one point that Trump and Sanders have in common is no more trade agreements and protecting the US workers from import competition.  Too many jobs have been lost.

In an April 25, 2016 CNN article, entitled “Resetting Red and Blue in the Rust Belt,” Jeremy Moorhead describes interviews with voters in Buffalo New York, Erie, Pennsylvania and Youngstown Ohio.  No Presidential candidate has ever been able to win an election without taking the state of Ohio, so it is critical to every Presidential candidate.  Jeremy Moorhead states:

“The voters of the Rust Belt have shaken up the 2016 presidential campaign: Hoping to jolt a political system they see as ineffective and out of touch, they have repeatedly revolted by supporting unlikely, anti-establishment candidates.

In both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, these voters see a potential for change they haven’t felt in generations. They say they are willing to shed party allegiances and reimagine their priorities this year, even voting for a self-described democratic socialist, or for a flame-throwing real estate developer who has never served in government.

In doing so, they have become the engine of one of the most extraordinary elections in modern U.S. history.

Frustration with the economic and political system is especially strong in the Rust Belt, a section of the country in the Northeast and Midwest once at the heart of the United States’ manufacturing boom. Decades after the decline of heavy industries like steel production and coal mining, the region continues to struggle with decaying infrastructure, population decline and high unemployment.

Voters there are worried about economic stagnation and crime plaguing their communities.  They are disappointed in Washington’s elected officials. They are calling out for swift, radical change. . . .

BUFFALO NEW YORK

Buffalo demonstrates Trump’s remarkable appeal across the country to non-traditional Republican voters. Here, there are working- and middle-class voters, former supporters of President Barack Obama and individuals who have supported Democrats in the past now drawn to Trump’s promise of dramatic change.

In the First Ward of South Buffalo on the corner of Ohio and Michigan Avenues, there is a favorite spot among locals called the Swannie House. Wiles has owned the place for 33 years and sits on a stool in the corner of the bar every day, his feet elevated on the window sill because of a bad back. It’s “the perfect corner because you hear everything,” he says.

These days, it seems everyone wants to talk about one thing: Donald Trump.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re black, you’re green, you’re white, you’re a Martian with tentacles. It doesn’t matter,” Wiles, 60, says. “They’re all talking about Trump.” . . . .

YOUNGSTOWN OHIO

Downtown Youngstown looks like a booming college town.  . . .

But away from the center of downtown, things get bleak — fast.

Along the former industrial corridor of Steel Valley, giant structures that used to be steel mills are now rusting and vacant. There are abandoned homes all across the city, a reminder of the thousands of residents who fled the area in the 1970s and ’80s when the mills shut down.

Although Ohio’s unemployment rate mirrors the national figure of 5%, it is much higher in Youngstown: 8.2%.  . .  .

ERIE PENNSYLVANIA

Spend a day talking to the residents of Erie — some 90 miles southwest of Buffalo — and you’re likely to learn two things. First, the General Electric plant in Lawrence Park is laying off 1,500 workers. Second, Presque Isle was recently voted in USA Today as the number one freshwater beach in the country.

Erie bled thousands of jobs over the years as manufacturing-based companies left the area, moving to the South or overseas in search of cheaper labor. . . . .”

On April 4, 2016, David Goldstein for the Portland Press Herald in an article entitled, “Blue Collar Voters: Trade is Killing Us,” stated:

“Establishment voices of economists, government and business officials argue that trade deals are critical in a global economy, and great for America. But critics such as organized labor call them “death warrants.”

And in blue collar communities in Wisconsin and across the industrial Midwest, that economic angst, coupled with some sense of betrayal, helps explain the roiling politics of 2016. . . . .

Wisconsin has lost more than 68,000 manufacturing jobs since the mid-1990s when the first of several controversial trade pacts with Mexico, China and others took hold. . …

That’s the case here in South Milwaukee, a community of more than 20,000 people whose economy is built around the sprawling Caterpillar plant, which builds huge steam shovels and other mining equipment. Its predecessor, Bucyrus International, built shovels that were used to dig the Panama Canal.

Now, Caterpillar has laid off about 600 of its 800-plus workers over the past two years because of a business slowdown.

“It’s had a pretty large impact,” said Brad Dorff, an assembler at Caterpillar and the local Steelworkers Union president. “Whether it’s small grocery stores, a hardware store down the street, local taverns; they used to get a lot of business from the people that live in this community who were making a good living, a good wage working here.”

Wisconsin’s heavy manufacturing sector, once one of the country’s strongest, has been taking a lot of punches in recent years. General Motors, General Electric, Chrysler, Joy Global Surface Mining and Manitowoc Cranes have all cut jobs or closed operations in recent years for a variety of reasons.

Hometown companies such as Kohler, the plumbing supply manufacturer; and Trek Bicycles have offshored jobs to India, China and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Madison, the state capital, will lose 1,000 jobs over the next two years as the 100-year-old iconic Oscar Mayer meat processing plant shuts down. And just east on I-94 in Jefferson, Tyson Foods will cease operations at its pepperoni processing plant, cutting 400 jobs. . . .

The turmoil feeds into a debate over trade that’s playing out in the 2016 campaign. . . .

In Wisconsin, voters are about evenly split on whether free trade agreements have helped or hurt, according to a recent Marquette University Law School poll.

In Michigan and Ohio, a majority of primary voters in both parties believed trade kills jobs in the U.S. rather than creates them.

That’s the feeling inside union halls and communities that lie in the shadow of shuttered factories. Trade deals like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) spell only uncertainty and distress.

“We’ve watched a lot of our friends lose their jobs,” said Dorff, inside the local steelworkers union hall just blocks from the Caterpillar plant. “They have homes that now they can’t afford. They have families they have to support. They lost their insurance. Their kids have diabetes and they’re trying to get medication. It literally breaks your heart.”

The Business Roundtable, an association of corporate executives of major companies, say that international trade supports 1 in 5 Wisconsin jobs, and that cheaper manufacturing costs overseas lowers prices for consumers in this country.

“It is an economic fact of life that both businesses and their employees benefit when we sell more products overseas, and consumers enjoy a wider range of products at lower prices,” Jerry Jasinowski, former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a recent statement.

But since NAFTA, which removed tariff barriers between the U.S. Canada and Mexico, went into effect in 1994, and Congress’ granting of permanent normal trade status to China in 2000, a key question has been how much have those decisions contributed to job losses at home.

Economists generally say that overall, trade creates more prosperity, and that displaced workers will find other work. But competition from China has meant the loss of 2.4 million jobs, according to a recent report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private nonprofit research group.

It pointed out that industries are often concentrated in certain parts of the country – the Midwest, for instance – and that local economies have not had the capacity to absorb those workers the Chinese competition has displaced.

Julie Granger, senior vice president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said that in a global economy, the notion that “free trade encourages the loss of local jobs … is not always the most responsible way to look at it. If we are not engaged in the global economy, we will lose more jobs.

There’s no going back. It’s the same story in Milwaukee as it in other cities: many of lowest skilled jobs simply were disappearing.”

So is organized labor, long the backbone of the working class, a force in Wisconsin politics and a persistent critic of the trade deals. From 2014-2015, union membership as a percentage of the Wisconsin workforce fell to 8.3 percent from nearly 12 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But organized labor has been under siege in Wisconsin for a while.  Take the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis. GM wrung significant concessions out of the United Autoworkers to help keep the plant open. But the automaker closed it eventually anyway in 2009, putting 850 people out of work.”

The article quotes Roger Hinkle, Wisconsin AFL-CIO employment training specialist:

“Free traders always point to free trade being good for everybody.  There’s a mountain of victims who don’t have to look at some theoretical report to feel, Yes.  I was directly affected by this.“

The ironic point in this article, however, is the closure of Caterpillar.  Caterpillar is dependent on cheap steel as a raw material input, and they have been a major opponent of all the steel trade cases brought by the Union and US Steel because high prices for steel, their raw material input, makes them less competitive with companies, such as Komatsu, which have access to the lower cost steel.

As explained in more detail below, the recent decisions of the Commerce Department to impose large antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of steel from China and other countries has had an extremely negative impact on downstream US industries that use steel as a raw material input.

In fact, of the 130 outstanding antidumping and countervailing duty orders against China, over 80 of them are directed at raw material inputs—chemicals, metals and steel, which go directly into downstream US production and have a direct impact on their cost.  Raw Material trade cases rob Peter to pay Paul.

Although Congressional representatives and Senators do not care if trade protectionism causes consumer products to go up by a few dollars at Wal Mart, what happens if these higher duties on imports means that companies in their Districts and States have to close and the jobs are lost because the companies cannot compete in the downstream markets.

STEEL TRADE CASES

COLD ROLLED STEEL

On May 17, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, cold rolled, Commerce made a final dumping and countervailing duty determinations in the Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products case from China and Japan cases.  Because the Chinese companies refused to cooperate in the investigation, they received an antidumping rate of 265.79% and a countervailing duty rate of 256.44%.  Japanese Steel was hit with an antidumping rate of 71.35 percent.

Commerce was able to hand down such high margins because the Chinese and Japanese respondents refused to cooperate with the Department allowing it to very high impose duties on the basis of adverse facts available on an expedited basis.  Chinese companies refused to cooperate because since the Commerce Department considers China a nonmarket economy country and refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping, it is impossible to win the case.

On May 20, 2016, the Wall Street Journal issued an editorial entitled, “Obama Front-Runs Trump on China” stating:

“The Obama Administration may not sound like Donald Trump when talking about trade with China, but it isn’t above using protectionism for political gain.  On Tuesday the U.S. Commerce Department increased a tariff on “dumped” Chinese cold-rolled steel to 522%, a move that will hurt American manufacturers who need the steel to remain competitive.

The tariff may score some populist points with voters in an election year.  It also may be a ploy to get lawmakers to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement before President Obama leaves office.  But past experience suggests that such gambits inflame protectionist sentiment rather than tamp it down.

President George W. Bush imposed tariffs of up to 30% on a broad range of Chinese steel products in 2002.  The Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition says the tariffs cost the US economy 200,000 jobs and $4 billion in lost wages. . . . .

[Low Chinese steel prices are] good news for the U.S. Since steel is an important raw material for many industries, China’s trade partners benefit from its wasteful policies.  Lower prices make companies that use steel more competitive and bring down prices for consumers.

Daniel Pearson for the CATO Institute conservatively estimates that that American companies using steel produce $990 billion in value added, more than 16 times the output of the U.S. steel industry, and also employ 16 times more workers.  If tariffs on Chinese imports raise the U.S. price of steel, these companies’ costs will be higher than foreign competitors,’ hurting their ability to grow and provide more jobs for Americans.

The article goes on to complain that US Steel companies do not make the same range of products as Chinese companies and that the Cold Rolled determination “is a warm up for the fight over granting China market economy status in December.”

The Editorial concludes:

“The larger question is whether the steel tariffs herald a new and more bitter era of trade retaliation.  Previous skirmishes have been damaging but stopped short of full escalation.  But Mr. Trump and Hilary Clinton have run for President as protectionists, and Mr. Obama’s surrender to steel interests is a bad omen.”

CORROSION RESISTANT STEEL

On May 25, 2016, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-multiple-corrosion-resistant-steel-products-ad-cvd-final-052516, Commerce announced its affirmative final determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of imports of corrosion-resistant steel products (CORE) from China, India, Italy, Korea; its affirmative final determination in the AD investigation of imports of CORE from Taiwan; and its negative final determination in the CVD investigation of imports of CORE from Taiwan.

Again, since the Chinese companies refused to cooperate because of the nonmarket economy status of China, Chinese companies received an antidumping rate of 209.97% and a countervailing duty rate of 241.07%.

Antidumping and Countervailing duty rates for market economy countries, however, were much lower with India dumping rates between 3 to 4% and countervailing duty rates between 8 to 29%.  Italy received rates of between 12 to 92%, Korea 8 to 47%, and Taiwan antidumping rate of 3.77% and 0% countervailing duty rate.  As market economy companies, Commerce must use actual prices and costs in those countries to calculated antidumping rates and to value subsidies.

On June 1, 2016, the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “Steel Tariffs Create a Double-Edged Sword” reported that there is already an impact on downstream US production:

New tariffs on imports are boosting steel prices in the U.S., offering a lifeline to beleaguered American steelmakers but raising costs for manufacturers of goods ranging from oil pipes to factory equipment to cars. . . .

The Article goes on to state that the U.S. benchmark for “hot rolled coil index has risen more than 60% per ton” and that:

is creating problems for some steel buyers . . .

Steelcase Inc. Chief Executive James Keane said a tariff on a special kind of Japanese steel could cost one of its subsidiaries [Polyvision] $4 to $5 million a year . . . where it employs 200 people.  If nothing changes, we would have to close our Oklahoma plant.

The Article also reports that US “Car companies have been lobbying against steel tariffs.”

The problem with the Wall Street Journal Editorial and Article is that they assume President Obama has discretion not to impose the tariffs.  These cases were not brought under Section 201, the Escape Clause, which provides for Presidential approval or disapproval of the duties, but under the US antidumping and countervailing law where there is no discretion.  In contrast to most countries around the World, including Europe, Canada and yes China, the US antidumping and countervailing duty law do not have a public interest test.  Since the Chinese and Japanese companies did not cooperate, pursuant to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law, the Administration had no choice but to impose very high antidumping and countervailing duties on those imports.

If the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) goes affirmative in its injury determination and by statute it cannot give any weight to arguments by downstream producers, antidumping and countervailing duty orders will be issued and those orders can stay in place for 5 to 30 years.

STEEL 337 STEEL CASE

On May 26, 2016, the ITC instituted the section 337 case against Chinese steel import.  In the attached notice, USITC Institutes 337 Steel Case, the ITC stated:

The investigation is based on a complaint filed by U.S. Steel Corporation of Pittsburgh, PA, on April 26, 2016.  The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain carbon and alloy steel products through one or more of the following unfair acts:  (1) a conspiracy to fix prices and control output and export volumes, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1; (2) the misappropriation and use of U.S. Steel’s trade secrets; and (3) the false designation of origin or manufacturer, in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a).  The complainants request that the USITC issue a general exclusion order, a limited exclusion order, and cease and desist orders.

The last two counts of the notice are traditional issues subject to section 337 cases.  It is count 1 that raises the interesting issues.

The last time the ITC found a Section 337 violation based on an antitrust cause of action was in 1978 in Certain Welded Steel Pipe &Tube, No. 337-TA-29.  Although the ITC found a violation, the President vetoed the determination, in part, because of pressure from the Justice Department, antitrust division.

The antitrust cause of action, however, has not been eliminated from section 337.  Section 337 does not specifically define what is an antitrust violation, but presumably it should overlap the Sherman Act.  The US Steel compliant specifically references the Sherman Act.

Recently former U.S. International Trade Commission Chairman Daniel Pearson stated that this is the widest 337 complaint he has ever seen, but went on to state that a sudden closure of the U.S. market to foreign steel would have dire consequences for the domestic economy.  Pearson specifically stated:

“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a 337 petition that is this broad. To me, it sounds a lot like overreach. There’s no way that I could see someone closing off all imports of steel into the U.S. and not have enormous effects on consumer welfare and other factors that are specified in the statute. I’m flummoxed by this.”

337 is broadly tailored to address “unfair methods of competition or unfair acts.” Still, Pearson speculated that the ITC may well reject the petition and informally advise U.S. Steel to more squarely focus its arguments on the trade secret prong.

The ITC, however, did not reject the petition and instituted the case.

Pearson’s concern about the case is the broad nature of the company’s desired remedy, the general exclusion order. He stated:

“U.S. Steel is not happy with imports, and they may have decided to just take this shot and see what happens.  I have no idea whether or not they think they will be successful; I would rather guess not.”

But to date US Steel has been successful.

My fear, however, is that Chinese steel companies will think that this is like an antidumping and countervailing duty case and they can choose not to cooperate.  Failure to cooperate in a 337 case could lead to a total exclusion order against every steel product produced by every single Chinese steel company that does not participate in the case and that exclusion order from the US market could be in place for up to 30 years.

The antitrust claim in the 337 case by its conspiracy claim has already expanded and brought every single Chinese steel company into the case and a refusal to cooperate in the investigation could well lead to their exclusion from the US market for years to come.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AGAINST CHINA

On May 25, 2016, in the attached relevant pages of the attached petition, REVISED AMONIUM SULFATE PETITION, PCI Nitrogen, LLC filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case against ammonium sulfate from China.

JUNE ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On June 2, 2016, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, JUNE REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of June. The specific antidumping cases against China are:  Artist Canvas, Chlorinated Isocyanurates, Furfuryl Alcohol, High Pressure Steel Cylinders, Polyester Staple Fiber, Prestressed Concrete Steel Rail Tie Wire, Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand, Silicon Metal, and Tapered Roller Bearings.

The specific countervailing duty case is: High Pressure Steel Cylinders.

For those US import companies that imported :  Artist Canvas, Chlorinated Isocyanurates, Furfuryl Alcohol, High Pressure Steel Cylinders, Polyester Staple Fiber, Prestressed Concrete Steel Rail Tie Wire, Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand, Silicon Metal, or Tapered Roller Bearings during the antidumping period June 1, 2015-May 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 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.

While in China recently, I found so many examples of Chinese solar companies or US importers, which did not file requests for a review investigation.  In one instance, although the Chinese companies obtained separate rates during the initial investigation, the Petitioner appealed to the Court and through a Court determination the Chinese companies lost their separate rates.  Several Chinese companies and US importers did not know the case was appealed, and the importers now owe millions in antidumping duties because they failed to file a request for a review investigation in December.

CUSTOMS

FALSE CLAIMS ACT

On April 27, 2016, in the attached news release, california-based-z-gallerie-llc-, the Justice Department announced that Z Gallerie LLC agreed to pay $15 million to resolve allegations that the company engaged in a scheme to evade antidumping duties on imports of wooden bedroom furniture from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in violation of the False Claims Act.  The relator , the private company that reported the fraud, will obtain $2.4 million of the $15 million.  As the Justice Department stated in its release:

“This settlement reflects the Department of Justice’s commitment to ensure that those who import and sell foreign-made goods in the United States comply with the law, including laws meant to protect domestic companies and American workers from unfair competition abroad,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice will zealously pursue those who seek an unfair advantage in U.S. markets by evading the duties owed on goods imported into this country.” . . .

The particular duties at issue in this case are antidumping duties, which protect domestic manufacturers against foreign companies “dumping” products on U.S. markets at prices below cost.  Imports of wooden bedroom furniture manufactured in the PRC have been subject to antidumping duties since 2004.

The settlement announced today resolved allegations that Z Gallerie evaded antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture imported from the PRC from 2007 to 2014, by misclassifying, or conspiring with others to misclassify, the imported furniture as pieces intended for non-bedroom use on documents presented to CBP.  For example, Z Gallerie allegedly sold certain Bassett Mirror Company products, including a six-drawer dresser and three-drawer chest, as part of a bedroom collection; however, these goods were misidentified on CBP documents, using descriptions such as “grand chests” and “hall chests,” in order to avoid paying antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture. . . .

“Under the new Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, CBP will likely see an increase in these types of settlements as the streamlined processes take effect concerning allegations of duty evasion,” said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “The Act reinforces CBP’s existing authorities and tools to collect and investigate public allegations of duty evasion improving the overall effectiveness and enforcement of CBP law enforcement actions concerning illicit trade activity, specifically in the area of antidumping and countervailing duty evasion schemes.”

“Companies that intentionally mislabel shipments or misrepresent the value of goods being imported into the United States to avoid paying the appropriate duties do so in an attempt to create an unfair advantage over businesses that play by the rules,” said Special Agent in Charge Nick S. Annan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) in Atlanta.  “This type of activity hurts legitimate U.S. businesses and, by extension, our overall national economy.  Uncovering these types of schemes will continue to be a major investigative priority for ICE HSI.”

The allegations resolved by the settlement were originally brought by whistleblower Kelly Wells, an e-commerce retailer of furniture, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  The act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the United States those who falsely claim federal funds or, as in this case, those who avoid paying funds owed to the government or cause or conspire in such conduct.  The act also allows the whistleblower to receive a share of any funds recovered.  Wells will receive $2.4 million as her share of the settlement.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

NEW SECTION 337 CASES FILED AGAINST CHINA

On May 5, 2016, Aspen Aerogels Inc. filed a Section 337 case against Composite Aerogel Insulation Materials and Methods for Manufacturing from China.  The proposed respondents are: Nano Tech Co., Ltd.,  China and Guangdong Alison Hi-Tech Co., Ltd., China.

On May 19, 2016, Intex Recreation Corp. and Intex Marketing Ltd. filed a new section 337 case against imports of Inflatable Products and Processes for Making the Same from China.  The respondent companies in China and Hong Kong are Bestway (USA) Inc., Phoenix, Arizona; Bestway Global Holdings Inc., China; Bestway (Hong Kong) International Ltd., Hong Kong; Bestway Inflatables & Materials Corporation, China; and Bestway (Nantong) Recreation Corp., China.

Complaints are available upon request

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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