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

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC ReflectioFIRM UPDATE

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

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

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Obama went to state:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the GAO report states:

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

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

The GAO Report concludes at page 56-47:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are key points from these new regulations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA CHINESE VERSION OF THE ARTICLE

中国进口太阳能电池反倾销案即将到来的最后期限重返美国市场的机会

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEEL TRADE CASES

HOT ROLLED STEEL FLAT PRODUCTS

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–Trump, Trade Policy, NME, TPP, Trade, Customs, False Claims, Products Liability, Antitrust and Securities

Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin Evening at Cherry Blossom TimTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR MARCH 11, 2016

MOVING TO NEW LAW FIRM, HARRIS MOURE

Dear Friends,

Have not been able to send out a new newsletter in April because we are in the process of moving to a new law firm.  As of May 1, 2016, I will no longer be at the Dorsey law firm. Dorsey will continue to represent clients in international trade and customs matters but will no longer be handling antidumping, countervailing duty, section 201, escape clause and other similar trade regulation cases.

My new law firm is Harris Moure, here in Seattle and my new e-mail address is bill@harrismoure.com.  The US China Trade War blog and newsletter will be coming with me, but coming from my new firm.

Although will miss my Dorsey friends, I am looking forward to Harris Moure, which can be found at http://www.harrismoure.com/.  With a Beijing office and lawyers that can speak fluent Chinese, the Harris firm is well known for helping US and other foreign companies move to China to set up manufacturing operations.  Dan Harris has a very famous blog, http://www.chinalawblog.com/, which is followed by many companies that are interested in doing business in and with China.

In addition, set forth are two major developments involving trade litigation against Chinese companies.

If anyone has any questions or wants additional information, please feel free to contact me at this Dorsey e-mail address until April 30th and then after that at bill@harrismoure.com.

Bill Perry

TRADE UPDATES

NEW SECTION 337 UNFAIR TRADE CASE AGAINST ALL CHINESE CARBON ALLOY STEEL COMPANIES AND ALL STEEL PRODUCTS FROM CHINA

On April 26, 2016, US Steel Corp filed a major 337 unfair trade case against all the Chinese steel companies seeking an exclusion order to bar all imports of carbon and alloy steel from China.  See the ITC notice below. U.S. Steel Corp. is accusing Chinese steel producers and their distributors of conspiring to fix prices, stealing trade secrets and false labeling to avoid trade duties.  It is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) to issue an exclusion order baring all the Chinese steel from the US market and also cease and desist orders prohibiting importers from selling any imported Chinese steel that has already been imported into the United States.

The petition alleges that the Chinese companies:

work together to injure U.S. competitors, including U.S. Steel. Through their cartel, the China Iron and Steel Association (“CISA”), Proposed Manufacturer Respondents conspire to control raw material input prices, share cost and capacity information, and regulate production and prices for steel products exported to the United States. Proposed Manufacturer Respondents also share production schedules and time the release of products across multiple companies. This enables them to coordinate exports of new products to flood the U.S. market and destroy competitors.

4. Some of the Proposed Manufacturer Respondents have used valuable trade secrets stolen from U.S. Steel to produce advanced high-strength steel that no Chinese manufacturer had been able to commercialize before the theft. In January 2011, the Chinese government hacked U.S. Steel’s research computers and equipment, stealing proprietary methods for manufacturing these products. Soon thereafter, the Baosteel Respondents began producing and exporting the very highest grades of advanced high-strength steel, even though they had previously been unable to do so. Chinese imports created with U.S. Steel’s stolen trade secrets compete against and undercut U.S. Steel’s own products.

5.        Proposed Respondents create documentation showing false countries of origin and false manufacturers for Chinese steel products. They also transship them through third countries to disguise their country of origin, circumvent anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders, and deceive steel consumers about the origin of Chinese steel.

Having worked at the ITC on 337 cases and later in private practice, section 337 is generally aimed at imports that infringe intellectual property rights, such as patents, trademarks or copyrights.  Moreover, one provision of section 337(b)(3) provides that when any aspect of a section 337 case relates to questions of dumping or subsidization, the Commission is to terminate the case immediately and refer the question to Commerce.

Also in the past when section 337 was used to bring antitrust cases, there was intense push back by the Justice Department.  Customs and Border Protection also may not be happy with the use of section 337 to enforce US Custom law.

But section 337 cases are not antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  There are no mandatory companies and lesser targets.  All the Chinese steel companies are targets, and this will be intense litigation with very tight deadlines.  If the individual Chinese steel companies do not respond to the complaint, their steel exports could be excluded in 70 days to six months.  Section 337 cases are hard- nosed litigation on a very fast track.

If you are interested in a copy of the complaint, please feel free to contact me.

The ITC notice is as follows:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Commodity: Carbon and Alloy Steel Products

Pending Institution

Filed By: Paul F. Brinkman

Firm/Organization: Quinn Emanuel Urrquhart & Sullivan LLP

Behalf Of: United States Steel Corporation

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Carbon and Alloy Steel Products. The proposed respondents are: Hebei Iron and Steel Co., Ltd., China; Hebei Iron & Steel Group Hengshui Strip Rolling Co., Ltd., China; Hebei Iron & Steel (Hong Kong) International Trade Co., Ltd., China; Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation,China; Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd., China; Baosteel America Inc., Montvale, New Jersey; Jiangsu Shagang Group, China; Jiangsu Shagang International Trade Co, Ltd., China; Anshan Iron and Steel Group, China; Angang Group International Trade Corporation, China; Angang Group Hong Kong Co., Ltd., China; Wuhan Iron and Steel Group Corp., China; Wuhan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd., China; WISCO America Co., Ltd., Newport Beach, California; Shougang Group, China; China Shougang International Trade & Engineering Corporation, China; Shandong Iron and Steel Group Co., Ltd, China; Shandong Iron and Steel Co., Ltd., China; Jigang Hong Kong Holdings Co., Ltd., China; Jinan Steel International Trade Co., Ltd., China; Magang Group Holding Co. Ltd, China; Maanshan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd., China; Bohai Iron and Steel Group, China; Tianjin Pipe (Group) Corporation, China; Tianjin Pipe International Economic & Trading Corporation, China; TPCO Enterprise Inc., Houston, Texas; TPCO America Corporation, Gregory, Texas; Benxi Steel (Group) Co., Ltd., China; Benxi Iron and Steel (Group) International Economic and Trading Co., Ltd., China; Hunan Valin Steel Co., Ltd., China; Hunan Valin Xiangtan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd., China; Tianjin Tiangang Guanye Co., Ltd., China; Wuxi Sunny Xin Rui Science and Technology Co., Ltd., China; Taian JNC Industrial Co., Ltd., China; EQ Metal (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., China; Kunshan Xinbei International Trade Co., Ltd, China; Tianjin Xinhai Trade Co., Ltd., China; Tianjin Xinlianxin Steel Pipe Co. Ltd, China; Tianjin Xinyue Industrial and Trade Co., Ltd., China; and Xian Linkun Materials (Steel Pipe Supplies) Co., Ltd., China.

UNION FILES SECTION 201 CASE ON ALUMINUM, BUT THEN WITHDRAWS IT

On April 18, 2016 the United Steelworkers Union filed a section 201 safeguard case against imports of aluminum from all countries at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”). Although the target appeared to be China because its overcapacity has affected the World aluminum market, in fact, not so much.   China has an export tax in place to prevent exports of primary aluminum.  The real targets were Canada and Russia.  Canada exports about $4 billion in aluminum to the US, and Russia exports about $1 billion.

But after intense pressure from the US Aluminum producers, on April 22th the Union withdrew the petition.  Apparently, the US Aluminum producers have production facilities in Canada and also part of the Union was in Canada and not happy with the case.

Moreover, at the request of Congress, the ITC is conducting a fact-finding investigation on the US aluminum industry. The report is due out June 24, 2017.  The Union may have decided to wait until the ITC issues the fact-finding report in June and then it will refile the 201 case.

But there are reports that as a result of the case the Canadian and US governments are discussing the aluminum trade problem, which may result in a settlement down the road.

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

Dear Friends,

On March 21, 2016 and March 17, 2016, after this post was sent out, I was interviewed on Donald Trump and the US China Trade War by the World Finance, a bi-monthly print and web outlet on the financial industry.

To see the video on the impact of Donald Trump on International Trade policy, please see  Could Trump Take the US Back to the Great Depression, http://www.worldfinance.com/inward-investment/asia-and-australasia/could-trump-take-the-us-back-to-the-great-depression

To see the video on the US China Trade War, click on the following link

http://www.worldfinance.com/inward-investment/asia-and-australasia/the-us-china-trade-war-explained

For more information on the specific points made in the two videos on the US China Trade War and Donald Trump, please see the lead article below on the Trump Impact on International Trade policy.

March 11 Blog Post

After returning from a two week trip to China to work on the Solar Cells case, this March blog post will cover trade policy, including Trump’s impact on Trade Policy, trade, Customs, False Claims Act, the recent ZTE Export Control debacle, 337, patents/IP, criminal IP cases, products liability, antitrust and securities. There are significant developments in the US antitrust area.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

THE TRUMP IMPACT ON US TRADE POLICY

As stated in numerous past blog posts, one of the major reasons the Trans Pacific Partnership is running into problems in Congress along with a number of other trade issues, such as market economy for China, is the impact of the Presidential elections, especially the rise of Donald Trump. After Super Tuesday on March 1, 2016 and the Trump victories in seven different states many Republican pundits believe the game is over and Trump has won the Republican primary and will be the party’s nominee.

Thus Ed Rollins, who worked in the Reagan Administration and is a highly respected expert on the Republican party, published an article on March 2, 2016 on the Fox News website stating, “Trump is now unstoppable. It’s game over for Cruz, Rubio, Kasich and Carson.” Rollins goes on to state:

Game over! This was a rout, America. Winning seven states and the vast majority of delegates is a landslide. Donald Trump and the millions of his supporters have changed American politics and the Republican Party for the foreseeable future. . . .

Trump, who is an unconventional candidate, to say the least, has tapped into the anger and frustration across America and has mobilized voters to turn out in record numbers.

Love him or hate him, be inspired by him or be appalled by him, Trump has totally dominated a political cycle like no other politician I’ve seen in decades.

I admit I was a total skeptic, like many others. At first, I didn’t think he would run. Then I thought there was no way he could beat the all-star cast of elected officials running against him.

Then I underestimated his lack of substance and trite answers in the debates. Then I underestimated his lack of a real campaign.

Then I was convinced the political establishment was going to spend millions and take him out. And like the Energizer bunny he just keeps going and winning!

Trump is getting stronger by the day and his supporters are locked in and not going away. And no one has mastered the media like this since Teddy Roosevelt and his rough riders.

What’s ahead is a Republican Party that either becomes part of his movement or splinters into many pieces. No matter what Trump does or says, the nomination is his for the taking.

For the full article, see http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/03/02/trump-is-now-unstoppable-its-game-over-for-cruz-rubio-kasich-and-carson.html?intcmp=hpbt2#

At most, there is only a 30% chance that some other Republican candidate can beat Trump, but with a 70% chance that Trump will be the Republican nominee, the question is can Trump beat Hilary Clinton? Many facts indicate that Trump could win and become the next President.

On February 29, 2016, the Boston Herald reported that my childhood state, Massachusetts, which is very liberal and very Democratic, is seeing a surge in Democratic voters switching parties to vote Republican for Trump. As the Boston Herald reported on February 29, 2016, “Amid Trump surge, nearly 20,000 Mass. voters quit Democratic party”. The Article goes on to state:

The primary reason? [Secretary of State Galvin said his “guess” is simple: “The Trump phenomenon” . . . . Galvin said the state could see as many as 700,000 voting in tomorrow’s Republican primary, a significant number given just 468,000 people are actually registered Republicans. In Massachusetts. unenrolled — otherwise known as independent — voters can cast a ballot in the primary of any party.

For full article see http://www.bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/2016/02/amid_tru… 3/1/2016

On February 29, 2016, Buck Fox in Investors Business Daily, one of the more well- known financial newspapers in the US, predicted that Trump would win the Presidency:

Let’s take a rare journalistic moment to answer definitively: Will Donald Trump win the presidency? Yes.

Good. Got that out of the way. No dialing a focus group. Tell it straight. … Answers. Trump rattles them off fearlessly. He doesn’t consult pollsters. He goes with his gut.

Which is one reason he’s wildly popular — dominating the Drudge debate poll with 57% — and on the way to delivering the inaugural address on Jan. 20, 2017, as the 45th president.

As Ann Coulter says, President Trump will be halfway through that speech as the Republican Party keeps debating his viability.

Don’t limit that hedge to GOP bureaucrats. Throw in 99% of TV pundits: Karl Rove, Brit Hume, George Will, Bill Kristol, Rich Lowry, Steve Hayes, Charles Krauthammer, S.E. Cupp, Mike Smerconish, Ben Ferguson, Jeff Toobin.

They share a maddening trait — smug, glib and handsomely paid while belittling Trump’s odds of winning. Even though that’s all he’s done while building a titanic real estate empire. . . .

The smart ones see a runaway Trump Train, with Los Angeles radio host Doug McIntyre —hardly a Don fan — conceding after Nevada’s rout, “Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination.”

No “maybe.” No “very well could.” Trump will claim the GOP trophy in July in Cleveland. And win it all in November. Why?

  1. Issues. Trump owns immigration, trade, Muslim terror, self-funding his campaign to ignore special interests. . . . .

For full article, see http://www.investors.com/politics/capital-hill/trump-towers-over-the-presidential-field/[2/29/2016 12:29:13 PM]

On March 1, 2016, Politico published an article “The media’s Trump reckoning: ‘Everyone was wrong’ From the New Yorker to FiveThirtyEight, outlets across the spectrum failed to grasp the Trump phenomenon.”

In a March 3, 2016 article, John Brinkley of Forbes asks “Why Is Trade Such A Big Deal In The Election Campaign?”, stating in part:

Did you ever think you’d see a day when international trade was a central issue in a U.S. presidential election?

That’s where we are in 2016. For one reason or another, all the presidential candidates have felt the need to stake out positions on trade.

Let’s look at the last half-century. Issues that animated presidential campaigns were the Cold War, civil rights, the Vietnam War, Watergate, nuclear weapons, inflation, budget deficits, health care costs, terrorism, national security, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a financial crisis, illegal immigration. But never trade.

Well, almost never. While running for president in 1992, Ross Perot warned that NAFTA would cause “a giant sucking sound” from Mexico, but he wasn’t able to elevate NAFTA to a prominent position in that year’s election debates.

This year the Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who says he knows a lot about trade, but has proven that he doesn’t, says he’ll repeal NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership if it takes effect before he becomes president.

He also says he wants to slap a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports. It’s been pointed out that this would get us into a trade war. The Trump camp’s fatuous response is that we’re already in a trade war with China. That’s like saying your house is in fire, so let’s spray gasoline on it.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had a realistic shot at the Democratic nomination until Super Tuesday, has ranted and raved about free trade agreements throughout his campaign. He says they have cost millions of Americans their jobs, although there is no empirical evidence of that.

In her inimical please-all-the-people-all-the-time style, Democratic frontrunner Hilary Clinton says she doesn’t like the Trans-Pacific Partnership in its present form, but might change her mind if certain changes are made. She obviously thinks trade is important enough as a political issue that she has to bob and weave rather than take an unambiguous yes-or-no position. . . .

Why is trade such a volatile issue this year?

An obvious reason is that the Obama administration has negotiated and signed the most mammoth trade agreement in the history of the universe.

The TPP encompasses 12 countries and 40 percent of the world’s economy. . . .

And a third we can call The Trump Factor: the other GOP candidates are so scared of Trump that they feel they have to respond to everything he says, just to show that they’re not like him (which hardly seems necessary). . . .

Keeler said the prominence of trade in the 2016 presidential campaign “is surprising in the same way that everything about Donald Trump is surprising.”

For the full article, see

http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2016/03/03/why-is-trade-such-a-big-deal-in-the-election-campaign/print/.

Why is trade policy so important in this election? It is not because Trump says it is so.  Instead, it is the reason Trump is doing so well in the Republican primary—his appeal to a large constituency that is being hammered by illegal immigration, hurt by trade and afraid of losing their jobs.  Several pundits have tried to explain what this election is really about and the reason for Trump’s rise:

Hundreds of workers in Indiana, who just saw their jobs heading to Mexico;

Disney employees being fired and forced to retrain foreign replacements;

and finally the systematic invasion of the country by illegal immigrants, who take American jobs away.

Middle class and lower middle class people are afraid of losing their jobs and their livelihood and are flocking to Trump.

In two word, this is economic nationalism.

One central core of Donald Trump’s strategy is the argument that the United States has been soft on trade and “does not win any more.” Trump specifically points to China as one of the biggest winners saying that China, Mexico and Japan all beat the US in trade.

Moreover, the Core Constituency of Trump, his followers, are blue collar workers, many without a college education, so-called Reagan Democrats, that work in companies, factories, service industries and often are in labor unions. These workers are in regular 9 to 5 jobs on a set salary, in the lower middle and middle class, who are not privileged and not protected, feel their livelihoods threatened by illegal immigration and trade deals that give other countries access to US markets.  These blue collar workers are white, black, and Hispanic, such as in the Nevada primary where many Hispanics voted for Trump.  These workers would normally vote Democratic, but they firmly believe that no party be it Democratic or Republican truly represents their interests and are willing to protect their jobs and way of life.  Along comes Donald Trump stating that he will stop illegal immigrants at the border, do away with trade agreements and stop imports from China saving their jobs.  He will make America great again.  For many, many workers this argument makes them solid Trump supporters.

In a March 2 article entitled Eight Reasons we need to start preparing for President Trump, Geoff Earle writing for the NY Post states

Reason 5:

Trump’s main demographic strength — working-class men and white voters — matches up well against one of Hillary Clinton’s chief weaknesses. He could go after Clinton in must-win Ohio, where “Trump’s rhetoric appeals to those blue-collar Democrats,” said GOP strategist Brian Walsh.

For full article, see http://nypost.com/2016/03/02/8-reasons-we-need-to-start-preparing-for-president-trump.

In listening to Donald Trump’s victory speech on Super Tuesday, he stated that he wants to be a unifier and that he will reduce corporate taxes and make it easier for US companies to repatriate profits and set up manufacturing in the US. No one has problems with Trump’s idea of using carrots to bring back US manufacturing.  The problem is with Trump’s idea of using trade sticks to force manufacturing back to the US by setting up high protectionist walls.

On February 29, 2016, The Wall Street Journal in an editorial entitled, “Making Depressions Great Again — The U.S. may renounce its trade leadership at a dangerous economic moment,” expressed its real concern that by using the Trade/Tariff sticks Trump could take the United States back to the 1930s and the Smoot Hawley Tariff that created the Great Depression:

Reviving trade is crucial to driving faster growth, yet the paradox of trade politics is that it is least popular when economic anxiety is high and thus trade is most crucial.

And so it is now: Four of the remaining U.S. candidates claim to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Congress now lacks the votes to pass it.

The loudest voice of America’s new antitrade populism is Mr. Trump, who has endorsed 45% tariffs on Chinese and Japanese imports and promises to punish U.S. companies that make cookies and cars in Mexico. When Mr. Trump visited the Journal in November, he couldn’t name a single trade deal he supported, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

He says he’s a free trader but that recent Administrations have been staffed by pathetic losers, so as President he would make deals more favorable to the U.S., and foreigners would bow before his threats. “I don’t mind trade wars,” he said at Thursday’s debate.

He should be careful what he wishes. Trade brinksmanship is always hazardous, especially when the world economy is so weak. A trade crash could trigger a new recession that would take years to repair, and these conflicts are unpredictable and can escalate into far greater damage.

The tragic historic precedent is the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930, signed reluctantly by Herbert Hoover. In that era the GOP was the party of tariffs, which economist Joseph Schumpeter called the Republican “household remedy.” Smoot-Hawley was intended to protect U.S. jobs and farmers from foreign competition, but it enraged U.S. trading partners like Canada, Britain and France.

As economic historian Charles Kindleberger shows in his classic, “The World in Depression, 1929-1939,” the U.S. tariff cascaded into a global war of beggar-thy-neighbor tariff reprisals and currency devaluation to gain a trading advantage. Each country’s search for a protectionist advantage became a disaster for all as trade volumes shrank and deepened the Great Depression.

Kindleberger blames the Depression in large part on a failure of leadership, especially by a U.S. that was unwilling to defend open markets in a period of distress. “For the world economy to be stabilized, there has to be a stabilizer—one stabilizer,” he wrote. Britain had played that role for two centuries but was then too weak. The U.S. failed to pick up the mantle. . . .

Once the President recovered his trade bearings, Mitt Romney promised in 2012 to sanction China for currency manipulation and even ran TV ads claiming that “for the first time, China is beating us.”

Mr. Trump is now escalating this line into the centerpiece of his economic agenda—protectionism you can believe in. And what markets and the public should understand is that as President he would have enormous unilateral power to follow through. Congress has handed the President more power over the years to impose punitive tariffs, in large part so Members can blame someone else when antitrade populism runs hot. . . .

In an exchange with Bill O’Reilly on Feb. 10, Mr. Trump said that’s exactly what he plans to do. The Fox News host suggested a trade war is “going to be bloody.” Mr. Trump replied that Americans needn’t worry because the Chinese “will crash their economy,” adding that “they will have a depression, the likes of which you have never seen” in a trade war. He might be right about China, but the U.S. wouldn’t be spared.

The Trump candidacy thus introduces a new and dangerous element of economic risk to a world still struggling to emerge from the 2008 panic and the failed progressive policy response. A trade war would compound the potential to make depressions great again.

For the full editorial see http://www.wsj.com/articles/making-depressions-great-again-1456790200 3/1/2016.

President Ronald Reagan, who lived through the Great Depression and knew about the impact of the Smoot Hawley tariff on his generation, was a solid free trader stating on June 28, 1986 in the attached speech on international trade, BETTER COPY REAGAN IT SPEECH:

But cliches and demagoguery aside, the truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth. You see, trade barriers and protectionism only put off the inevitable.

Sooner or later, economic reality intrudes, and industries protected by the Government face a new and unexpected form of competition. It may be a better product, a more efficient manufacturing technique, or a new foreign or domestic competitor.

By this time, of course, the protected industry is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition. And that, my friends, is when the factories shut down and the unemployment lines start. We had an excellent example of this in our own history during the Great Depression. Most of you are too young to remember this, but not long after the stock market crash of 1929, the Congress passed something called the Smoot-Hawley tariff.

Many economists believe it was one of the worst blows ever to our economy. By crippling free and fair trade with other nations, it internationalized the Depression. It also helped shut off America’s export market, eliminating many jobs here at home and driving the Depression even deeper.

Ronald Reagan was a true free trader; Donald Trump is not.

But Trump’s rhetoric along with the strong positions of Bernie Sanders, have already had an impact on US trade policy.

Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”)

On February 22, 2016, despite strong opposition from Republican lawmakers and many Democratic Senators and Congressmen, in a speech before the National Governors Association, President Obama stated that he was cautiously optimistic that Congress would pass the TPP before he leaves office. President Obama specifically stated:

“I am cautiously optimistic that we can still get it done. Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan both have been supportive of this trade deal.  We’re going to … enter this agreement, present it formally with some sort of implementation documents to Congress at some point this year and my hope is that we can get votes.”

But President Obama admitted that selling the TPP is not easy with the opposition of four of the top five candidates for the presidency — Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas. He further stated:

“The presidential campaigns have created some noise within and roiled things a little bit within the Republican Party, as well as the Democratic Party around this issue. I think we should just have a good, solid, healthy debate about it.  What all of you can do to help is to talk to your Congressional delegations and let them know this is really important.  All of you, though, can really lift up the benefits for your states, and talk to your congressional delegations directly.”

Obama can only submit legislation to implement the TPP to Congress after the U.S. International Trade Commission releases an extensive report on the agreement’s economic impact in mid-May.

As reported in my last newsletter, on February 5, 2016, in the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton stated that she could support the TPP if the deal is changed, but also stated afterwards that she opposes the deal as currently written.  Meanwhile there is intense pressure on Clinton to stay opposed to the TPP as the labor unions have increased pressure on those Democratic Congressmen and Senators that voted in favor of the Trade Promotion Authority and were put on labor’s hit list.  On February 29, 2016, it was reported that labor unions were now targeting 28 moderate Democrats who supported “fast-track” trade promotion legislation.

California Rep. Scott Peters estimates his reelection campaign is likely to see a $200,000 to $300,000 drop in labor donations — about a seventh of his total contributions so far — and fewer ground volunteers knocking on doors unless he changes his trade stance. The two-term lawmaker, who won reelection by 3 percent of the vote, is likely to face ad buys, call-in campaigns and protests outside his office. As Peters further stated:

“We’ve lost some pretty important labor support as a result on the vote on TPA, and that’s painful … There’s no doubt there has been a political price.”

Labor’s attacks on the free traders could also be decisive in the reelection bids of California Rep. Ami Bera and New York Rep. Kathleen Rice. The White House has sought to counter the labor attacks by early endorsements, raised campaign funds and deployed Cabinet officials to praise members in their districts.

This makes passage of the TPP very doubtful in Congress. As Texas Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson said of the loss of the AFL-CIO backing:

“It gets your attention,” adding that trade is an “economic engine” for her Dallas district. “But I cannot neglect the stance and conditions of my district that I pledged heartily to represent.”

There’s a chance a TPP vote could get delayed until the Lame Duck session or the next administration and the next Congress, but AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has stated:

“So they want to put it after the election because they think we’ll forget. Well, we’re not going to forget, and we’re not going to let the American worker forget, and we think they’ll have a tough time explaining their vote to workers who have lost jobs”

During a meeting with labor and trade protectionists, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer reportedly slammed a notepad down on a table at the height of the debate, telling the group he was frustrated with the constant calls and picketing outside his home and district office. Blumenauer went on to state:

“I have a community that is very trade-dependent, but we also have people who are trade skeptics. So I’m just going to let the chips fall where they may.”

On March 7, 2016, former Congressman Don Bonker wrote the following article for the Seattle Times about the developments in the Trade area:

Trump’s trade rhetoric threatens U.S. economy, global standing, Trump’s fear tactics combined with viral protectionism spreading across the country is a monkey wrench for passage of Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Donald Trump’s political rhetoric, however absurd, is boastfully driving the debate among Republicans on issues such as immigration, but it’s his relentless jabs at U.S. trade policy that is more alarming.

Threatening to slap a 35 percent tariff on all imports from China definitely resonates with his support base, but it could undermine America’s leadership globally and also prove harmful in the Puget Sound area, given that such arbitrary tariffs are imposed on American importers, not Chinese suppliers, then passed on to distributors and ultimately result in higher consumer prices.

Trump, ever boastful of his business savvy, should also expect the Chinese to retaliate, as they predictably will, to restrict U.S. exports from Washington state and beyond.

Not surprisingly, Trump wants it both ways, asserting that free trade is terrible because we have “stupid” officials doing the negotiating, yet it could be wonderful if he calls the shots and has the final word (someone should inform him about the Constitution, which clearly states that “Congress shall regulate interstate and foreign commerce.”)

This may be how he cuts backroom business deals, but Trump’s approach would be unacceptable as leader of the world’s No. 1 economy.

Such fear tactics combined with viral protectionism spreading across the country, tapped into by Bernie Sanders and now Hillary Clinton switching her position on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is alarming to other nations who depend on America leadership in today’s global economy.

Using Trump’s words, “to make America great again,” our president must be a strong leader in today’s global economy, which Barack Obama has attempted to do with initiatives such as TPP. The partnership would give the U.S. a stronger presence in the Pacific Rim and provide a protective shield for Asian countries threatened by China’s enormous growth and influence in the region.

The TPP is destined for burial thanks to Trump’ rhetoric and growing protectionism among Democrats in Congress. It will be to China’s advantage given their own trade negotiations with the same countries.

If Trump is elected, will it put us in a trade war with China? In the 1928 presidential election, Herbert Hoover was less pompous than Trump but nonetheless called for higher tariffs that set the stage for a Republican Congress poised to run amok on limiting imports.

Shortly after the elections, hundreds of trade associations were formed that triggered an unbridled frenzy of logrolling, jockeying for maximum protection for commodity and industry producers leading to enactment of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that hiked import fees up to 100 percent on over 20,000 imported products.

On the Senate side, another 1,200 amendments were added that proved so egregious, prompting Democrat Senator Thaedeus H. Caraway of Arkansas to declare that, “I might suggest that we have taxed everything in this bill except gall,” to which Senator Carter Glass of Virginia responded, “Yes, and a tax on that would bring considerable revenue.”

What Congress sent to the president proved so alarming it prompted 1,000 of nation’s leading economists to sign a petition urging President Hoover to veto the Smoot-Hawley Act, while The New York Times printed an ad that listed 46 states and 179 universities warning that signing the bill may prompt a fierce reaction.

Indeed within a few months, America’s leading trade partners — Canada, France, Mexico, Italy, 26 countries in all — retaliated, causing the world trade to plummet by more than half of the pre-1929 totals, one of several factors that precipitated the Great Depression.

Based on his campaign rhetoric, a Trump presidency would have plenty of gall, to be sure but it is certainly not what is needed to make America great again.

On March 9, I attended a reception here in Seattle with Congressman Dave Reichert, Chairman Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means. Congressman Reichert stated that he is the first Washington State Congressman to become Chairman of the Trade Subcommittee.  He also stated that he is dedicated and personally committed to passing the TPP through Congress no matter how long it takes because of its importance for the economies of Washington State and the entire United States.

On March 10, 2016, however, the Wall Street Journal had a front page headline entitled, “Free Trade Loses Political Favor, Republican backing fades as voters voice surprising skepticism; Pacific pact seen at risk”. The Article states in part:

After decades in which successive Republican and Democratic presidents have pushed to open U.S. and global markets, resentment toward free trade now appears to have the upper hand in both parties, making passage this year of a sweeping Pacific trade deal far less likely and clouding the longer-term outlook for international economic exchange.

Many Democrats have long blamed free-trade deals for big job losses and depressed wages, especially in the industrialized Midwest, which has been battered over the years by competition from lower-cost manufacturing centers in countries like Japan, Mexico and China. . . .

But one big surprise Tuesday was how loudly trade fears reverberated among Republican voters in the primary contests in Michigan and Mississippi—evidence, many observers say, of a widening undercurrent of skepticism on the right about who reaps the benefits from loosened trade restrictions.

CHINA

Despite arguments by the Federalist Society in the attached article, Everything Trump Says About Trade With China Is Wrong, that Donald Trump’s arguments against China are simply wrong, Trump’s strong position and Hilary Clinton’s desire to keep Union support has forced her to take a much tougher stand on trade with China and the TPP. On February 23rd, 2016 in the attached commentary to the  Maine Press Herald, CLINTON ARTICLE CHINA, entitled “If elected president, I’ll level the playing field on global trade,” Hilary Clinton stated:

At the same time, China and other countries are using underhanded and unfair trade practices to tilt the playing field against American workers and businesses.

When they dump cheap products in our markets, subsidize state-owned enterprises, manipulate currencies and discriminate against American companies, our middle class pays the price. That has to stop.

Ninety-five percent of America’s potential customers live overseas, so closing ourselves off to trade is not a solution. . . .

As President, my goal will be to win the global competition for the good-paying manufacturing jobs of the future.

  • First, we have to strongly enforce trade rules to ensure American workers aren’t being cheated. Too often, the federal government has put the burden of initiating trade cases on workers and unions, and failed to take action until after the damage is done and workers have been laid off.

That’s backward: The government should be enforcing the law from the beginning, and workers should be able to focus on doing their jobs. To make sure it gets done, we should establish and empower a new chief trade prosecutor reporting directly to the president, triple the number of trade enforcement officers and build new early-warning systems so we can intervene before trade violations cost American jobs.

We should also hold other countries accountable for meeting internationally sanctioned labor standards – fighting against child and slave labor and for the basic rights of workers to organize around the world.

Second, we have to stand up to Chinese abuses. Right now, Washington is considering Beijing’s request for “market economy” status. That sounds pretty obscure. But here’s the rub – if they get market economy status, it would defang our anti-dumping laws and let cheap products flood into our markets. So we should reply with only one word: No.;

With thousands of state-owned enterprises; massive subsidies for domestic industry; systematic, state-sponsored efforts to steal business secrets; and blatant refusal to play by the rules, China is far from a market economy. If China wants to be treated like a market economy, it needs to act like one.

Third, we need to crack down on currency manipulation – which can be destructive for American workers. China, Japan and other Asian economies kept their goods artificially cheap for years by holding down the value of their currencies.;

I’ve fought against these unfair practices before, and I will do it again. Tough new surveillance, transparency and monitoring regimes are part of the answer – but only part. We need to expand our toolbox to include effective new remedies, such as duties or tariffs and other measures.

Fourth, we need to stop rewarding U.S. companies for shipping jobs overseas by closing loopholes and ending tax write-offs – and encouraging “in-sourcing” here in America instead. Two HVAC plants in Indiana recently decided to move abroad, costing 2,100 jobs – and likely pocketing a tax deduction.

They’re not just turning their back on the workers and community that supported them for years, they’re turning their back on America. As President, I’ll also end so-called “inversions” that allow multinational businesses to avoid paying U.S. taxes by moving overseas in name only.

Fifth, we have to set a high bar for any new trade agreements, and only support them if they will create good jobs, raise wages and advance our national security. I opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership when it failed to meet those tests, and would oppose future agreements if they failed to meet that bar.;

America spent generations working with partners to develop strong and fair rules of the road for the global economy – but those rules only work if we enforce them. Tough enforcement and other smart policies to support a manufacturing renaissance are the only way we can ensure that trade helps American workers. If I’m elected President, that’s what I’ll do.

THE REASON TRADE IS AT THE CENTER OF THE DEBATE AND THE REAL TRADE ANSWER—TAA FOR COMPANIES

THE REASON

What is the reason that trade is the center of the Presidential debate? I believe at its core there are two fundamental reasons—failure to educate the general populace on the benefits of trade so that they understand how manufacturing in the US is connected in global supply chain with raw material inputs from abroad.

The second reason is the toxic domestic raw material heavy industry/Labor Union attack based on false arguments that all trade competition is caused by unfair trade and that companies can be saved by bringing trade remedy cases. This rhetoric has generated a Globalization victimhood way of thinking that all imports are unfairly traded, especially from China. This is despite the fact that 80 of the outstanding 120 antidumping orders against China are directed at raw materials, chemicals, metal and steel, which goes directly into downstream US production. Restrictions on raw material inputs hurts downstream US industries, which have no standing under US antidumping and countervailing duty laws to argue against the restrictions and have their arguments have any weight in the determination.

Years ago a United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) in the W Bush Administration spoke in Seattle and said that in the Trade area the major failure has been to educate the American public on the benefits of trade. Washington State, which is dependent on imports and exports, certainly knows the benefits of trade. The Ports in Washington State are incredibly important for the economic health of the State. Our largest trading partner is China to which Washington exports $20 billion every year. Thus the Washington Council for International Trade is pushing hard for the Trans Pacific Partnership. See http://wcit.freeenterpriseaction.com/v9xpssZ

But that is not true in many other states, especially in the Midwest and on the East Coast, which have adopted the trade victimization ideology. In addition, the Steel Industry and Labor Unions make three attacks against China—currency manipulation, cyber hacking and antidumping. When one looks deeper at these arguments, however, they fall apart.

CURRENCY MANIPULATION

Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton have been screaming about currency manipulation. But on May 22, 2015, on the Senate floor during the debate on Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) Senator Hatch made a very strong argument against the Stabenow and Portman Currency Amendment, which would have included tough provisions and sanctions, against currency manipulation. Senator Hatch clearly stated that the reason he opposed the Amendment was because President Obama under pressure from Treasury Secretary Lew stated that if the currency amendment was included, he would veto the TPA bill.

Why were President Obama and Treasury Secretary Lew opposed to tough sanctions against currency manipulation? Because those sanctions could be used against the United States. See Testimony of Senators Wyden and Hatch at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326202-1/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority&live. As Senator Hatch stated:

I think I can boil this very complicated issue down to a single point: The Portman-Stabenow Amendment will kill TPA.

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

Yesterday, I received a letter from Treasury Secretary Lew outlining the Obama Administration’s opposition to this amendment. . . . most importantly, at the end of the letter, Secretary Lew stated very plainly that he would recommend that the President veto a TPA bill that included this amendment.

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

We know this is the case, Mr. President. Virtually all of our major negotiating partners, most notably Japan, have already made clear that they will not agree to an enforceable provisions like the one required by the Portman-Stabenow Amendment. No country that I am aware of, including the United States, has ever shown the willingness to have their monetary policies subject to potential trade sanctions. . . .

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

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

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

CYBER HACKING

The trade critics also attack China for Cyber Hacking, but on September 29, 2015, in response to specific questions from Senator Manchin in the Senate Armed Services Committee, James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, testified that China cyber- attacks to obtain information on weapon systems are not cyber- crime. It is cyber espionage, which the United States itself engages in.  As Dr. Clapper stated, both countries, including the United States, engage in cyber espionage and “we are pretty good at it.”  Dr. Clapper went on to state that “people in glass houses” shouldn’t throw stones.  See http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/15-09-29-united-states-cybersecurity-policy-and-threats at 1hour 8 minutes to 10 minutes.

In response to a specific question from Senator Ayotte, Director Clapper also specifically admitted that the attack on OPM and theft of US government employee data is state espionage and not commercial activity, which the US also engages in. See above hearing at 1 hour 18 and 19 minutes.  

Thus, the United States itself does not want to clearly define Cyber Hacking as unacceptable because it is state espionage and we the United States do it too and are pretty good at it.

DUMPING

As indicated in numerous past blog posts, more dumping and countervailing duty cases, some against China based on faked numbers, does not solve the trade problem. For over 40 years the Commerce Department has refused to use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping resulting in antidumping and countervailing duty orders blocking about $30 billion in Chinese imports.  In doing so, however, China is treated worse the Iran, Russia, Syria and many other countries under the US antidumping law.

As indicated below, that issue comes to a boil on December 11, 2016 when pursuant to the China WTO Agreement, China is supposed to be treated as a market economy country. But Hilary Clinton states that if market economy treatment were given to China so they could be treated like Iran, we would “defang our antidumping laws.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Having worked at the Commerce Department, I am convinced that if China were to become a market economy, Commerce would still find very large dumping rates against China.

More importantly, the antidumping, countervailing duty and other trade laws do not work. They do not save US companies and industries.  We have a poster child to prove this point—The US Steel Industry.  After forty years of trade cases and protection from steel imports, where is the US steel industry today?

Many of the major steel companies, such as Bethlehem Steel, Lone Star Steel and Jones & Laughlin, have become green fields. The total employment of the US Steel industry now is less than one high tech company. A failure caused not because of the lack of  antidumping and countervailing duty protection covering billions of dollars in imports, but because as President Reagan stated back in 1986, protectionism does not work.  It does not save the companies, because these cases do not get at the root causes of the company’s and industry’s decline.

Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton have pointed to the closure of manufacturing plants in the US and their move to Mexico. But why did the factories close?

On March 4, 2016, the Wall Street Journal in an editorial entitled Trump on Ford and Nabisco The real reasons the companies left the U.S. for Mexico” clearly set out the reasons some of these companies left the United State to move to Mexico—Wages demands as high as $60 an hour from the Labor Unions coupled with sky high taxes to support public workers in Illinois.  As the Journal stated:

“Last summer, Deerfield, Illinois-based Mondelez, which owns Nabisco, announced that it would close nine production lines at its plant in Chicago—the largest bakery in the world—while investing in new technology at a facility in Salinas, Mexico. Mondelez made the decision after asking its unions for $46 million in concessions to match the annual savings it would achieve from shifting production to Mexico. . . .

Operating in Chicago is particularly expensive since Illinois has among the nation’s highest corporate and property taxes—which are soaring to pay for city employee pensions—and workers’ compensation premiums. Last year Illinois lost 56 manufacturing jobs per work day while employment increased in most other Midwest states including Wisconsin (18 a day), Indiana (20), Ohio (58) and Michigan (74).

As for Ford, Mr. Trump flogged the auto maker’s $2.5 billion investment in two new engine and transmission plants in Mexico. . . . One impetus behind Detroit’s Mexico expansion is the United Auto Workers new collective-bargaining agreement, which raises hourly labor and benefit costs to $60 in 2019—about $10 more than foreign auto makers with plants in the U.S.—from the current $57 for Ford and $55 for GM. The increasing wages make it less economical to produce low-margin cars.

Foreign car manufacturers including BMW, Honda, Volkswagen, Kia, Nissan and Mazda have also recently announced new investments in Mexico. Besides lower labor costs, one reason they give is Mexico’s free-trade agreements, which allow access to 60% of world markets. Mexico has 10 free-trade agreements with 45 countries including Japan and the European Union whereas the U.S. has only 14 deals with 20 countries.”

Companies have to be competitive with foreign competition, and labor unions must work with management to stay competitive with the rest of the World. The “More” statement of the famous US labor leader John L. Lewis no longer works if the labor union’s more leads to the closure of the US manufacturing company, which employs the workers in question.

THE ANSWER

Not only must US Companies be competitive, but countries, including the United States, must also be competitive and be willing to meet the competition from other countries. A major reason for the rise of Donald Trump is the failure of the US Congress to formulate a trade policy that works and promote the only US trade program that truly saves import injured manufacturing companies by helping them adjust to import competition—the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Firms/Companies program.  As stated in prior blog posts, because of ideological purity among many Republican conservatives in Congress and the Senate, the TAA for Companies program has been cut to the bone to $12.5 million nationwide.  This cut is despite the fact that since 1984 here in the Northwest, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”) has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program.

To understand the transformative power of TAA for Companies, see the TAA video from Mid-Atlantic TAAC at http://mataac.org/howitworks/ , which describes in detail how four import injured companies used the program to change and turn their company around and make it profitable.  One of the companies was using steel as an input, and was getting smashed by Chinese imports.  After getting into the program, not only did the company become prosperous and profitable, it is now exporting products to China.

This cut back to $12. 5 million nationwide from $50 million makes it impossible for the TAA for Companies program to work with medium or larger US companies, which have been injured by imports. TAA for Companies is hamstrung by neglect with a maximum technical assistance per firm level that has not changed in at least 30 years.

In case you don’t know about TAAF, this is a program that offers a one-time, highly targeted benefit to domestic companies hurt by trade. The benefit is not paid to the companies, but to consultants, who help the company adjust to import competition.   To put that in context, the very much larger TAA for Worker Program’s appropriation for FY 2015 was $711 million to retrain workers for jobs that may not exist after the company has closed.

Congress needs to find a cure to the trade problem, and it is not more trade cases, which do not save US companies and the jobs that go with them. TAA for Companies works, but because of politics, ideology and the resulting Congressional cuts, TAA has been so reduced it is now marginalized and cannot do the job it was set up to do.

Both Republicans and Democrats have failed to formulate a trade policy that will help US companies injured by imports truly adjust to import competition and become competitive in the World again. This failure has created Donald Trump and possibly a new dangerous protectionist era in US politics, which could have a disastrous impact on the US economy.

TPP TEXT AND TRADE ADVISORY REPORTS

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

The attached text of the Agreement is over 6,000 pages.Chapters 3 – 30 – Bates 4116 – 5135 Chapters 1 – 2 – Bates 1 – 4115 Annex 1 – 4 – Bates A-1-1074

On November 5th, the Treasury Department released the text of the Currency Manipulation side deal, Press Release – 12 Nation Statement on Joint Declaration Press Release – Joint Declaration Fact Sheet TPP_Currency_November 2015.

On December 2nd and 3rd, 2015 various trade advisory groups operating under the umbrella of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) Group issued reports on the impact of the TPP on various industries and legal areas. All the reports can be found at https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/trans-pacific-partnership/advisory-group-reports-TPP and attached are many of the reports, ITAC-2-Automobile-Equipment-and-Capital-Goods, ITAC-12-Steel ITAC-11-Small-and-Minority-Business, ITAC-9-Building-Materials-Construction-and-Non-Ferrous-Metals ITAC-10-Services-and-Finance-Industries ITAC-6-Energy-and-Energy-Services ITAC-2-Automobile-Equipment-and-Capital-Goods ITAC-3-Chemicals-Pharmaceuticals-Health-Science-Products-and-Services ITAC-5-Distribution-Services ITAC-8-Information-and-Communication-Technologies-Services-and-Electronic-Commerce.  Almost all of the reports are favorable, except for the Steel Report, which takes no position, and the Labor Advisory Report, which is opposed because it is the position of the Unions.

NEW TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL

President Obama signed the bipartisan Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTE) on February 24. A copy of the bill, the conference report and summary of the bill are attached,  JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE CONFERENCE REPORT TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 20152 Summary of TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2015 Trade-and-Environment-Policy-Advisory-Committee.pdf.

The bill makes many changes to the Customs and Trade laws with a specific focus on enforcement, particularly of the Trade laws. One of the provisions focuses on concerns surrounding non-resident, small “fly-by-night” importers of record.  The TFTE authorizes the Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) to set up an importer-of-record program.  Through the program, CBP must establish criteria that importers must meet to obtain an importer-of-record number.

In addition, CBP is to establish an importer risk assessment program to review the risk associated with certain importers, particularly new importers and nonresident importers, to determine whether to adjust an importer’s bond or increase screening for an importer’s entries.   Specifically, Section 115(a) of the law provides:

Not later than the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commissioner shall establish a program that directs U.S. Customs and Border Protection to adjust bond amounts for importers, including new importers and nonresident importers, based on risk assessments of such importers conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in order to protect the revenue of the Federal Government.

Title IV of the Act, Prevention of Evasion of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders, sets up a new remedy for companies that believe that antidumping and countervailing duty orders are being evaded by shipping through a third country or misclassification or some other means.  The Act creates the Trade Remedy Enforcement Division within Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with developing and administering policies to prevent evasion of US antidumping and countervailing duty orders. The Secretary of Treasury is also authorized to enter into agreements with foreign nations to enforce the trade remedy laws.

On Aug. 23, 2016, CBP must begin investigating allegations of trade remedy evasion according to established procedures.   Those procedures include that CBP must initiate an investigation within 15 business days of receiving an allegation from an interested party and then has 300 days to determine whether the merchandise was entered through evasion. If CBP finds that there is a reasonable suspicion that merchandise entered the U.S. through evasion, CBP is directed to suspend the liquidation of each unliquidated entry of such covered merchandise.

Any CBP evasion decision is subject to judicial review by the Court of International Trade. The act also provides an expanded range of penalties where evasion is found to have occurred, including the imposition of additional duties and referrals to other agencies for other civil or criminal investigations.

Section 433 of the Act also eliminates the ability of an importer of a new shipper’s merchandise to post a bond or security instead of a cash deposit. This provision will prevent a company from importing substantial quantities of merchandise covered by an antidumping and/or countervailing duty order and then fail to pay the appropriate duty.

Finally, section 701 of the act, Enhancement of Engagement on Currency Exchange Rate and Economic Policies with Certain Major Trading Partners of the United States, establishes a procedure for identifying trade partners that are suspected of currency manipulation and conducting a macroeconomic analysis of those partners. The key finding is under section 701(2)(B), where the Treasury Secretary is to publicly describe the factors used to assess under paragraph (2)(A)(ii) whether a country has a significant bilateral trade surplus with the United States, has a material current account surplus, and has engaged in persistent one-sided intervention in the foreign exchange market.

If the Treasury Secretary is unable to address currency manipulation issues with a trading partner, the act authorizes the President to take additional steps to prevent and remedy further manipulation. For instance, the president may prohibit the approval of new financing products, which can be waived only upon a finding of adverse impact on the U.S. economy or serious harm to national security.

ZTE EXPORT LAW VIOLATIONS—MORE FUEL ON THE FIRE OF THE US CHINA TRADE WAR

On March 8, 2015, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) published the attached Federal Register notice, ZTE FED REG NOTICE, announcing that China based mega corporation ZTE and three of its affiliated companies have been added to the Entity List, which requires an export license before US made products can be exported to those companies. As China’s second largest telecommunications company, ZTE is also the world’s seventh largest producer of smartphones and has operations in the US and more than 160 other countries.

The Federal Register notice states:

The End-User Review Committee (“ERC”) composed of representatives of the Departments of Commerce (Chair), State, Defense, Energy, and, where appropriate, the Treasury has determined:

to add four entities—three in China and one in Iran—to the Entity List under the authority of § 744.11 (License requirements that apply to entities acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States) of the EAR. . . .

The ERC reviewed § 744.11(b) (Criteria for revising the Entity List) in making the determination to list these four entities. Under that paragraph, entities and other persons for which there is reasonable cause to believe, based on specific and articulable facts, have been involved, are involved, or pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved in, activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States . . . .

Pursuant to § 744.11 of the EAR, the ERC determined that Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation (‘‘ZTE Corporation’’) . . . be added to the Entity List under the destination of China for actions contrary to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. Specifically, the ZTE Corporation document ‘‘Report Regarding Comprehensive Reorganization and Standardization of the Company Export Control Related Matters’’ (available at http://www.bis.doc.gov) indicates that ZTE Corporation has reexported controlled items to sanctioned countries contrary to United States law. The ZTE Corporation document ‘‘Proposal for Import and Export Control Risk Avoidance’’ (available at http://www.bis.doc.gov) describes how ZTE Corporation also planned and organized a scheme to establish, control, and use a series of ‘‘detached’’ (i.e., shell) companies to illicitly re-export controlled items to Iran in violation of U.S. export control laws.

Having looked at the internal confidential ZTE report, which Commerce in a very unusual situation has published as a public document on its website, ZTE truly has been caught red handed. The ZTE Report lays out a detailed scheme to evade US Export Control laws.  No country, including the United States or China, would tolerate such a scheme to systematically evade a country’s laws.

For more on the ZTE Action along with a link to the confidential ZTE document now posted on the Commerce Department website, see http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2016/03/08/2155724/has-the-cold-us-sino-trade-war-just-got-piping-hot/.

From the Chinese point of view, however, the Commerce Department has no credibility because its antidumping laws presently block about $30 billion in imports based on fake numbers. Because the US Government’s Import and Export Control Administration are both located in the Commerce Department, the Chinese government looks at all the Department’s decisions as US based protectionism.

The problem is that through its nonmarket economy methodology, which does not use actual costs and prices to determine dumping, Commerce has created a game, and the Chinese will play it. Sometimes Chinese companies talk to me about using the “houmen” back door and shipping products through different countries to evade US antidumping laws.  I always tell the Chinese companies that this is Customs fraud and they risk civil and criminal prosecution under US Customs and trade laws.

In fact, in the past Chinese honey suppliers that used transshipment to get around the US antidumping law were caught in the United States and hauled in front of Federal Court on criminal charges for evasion of US antidumping laws. I have heard of one Chinese company seafood executive arrested in Belgium and sent to Belgian jail on an extradition warrant for evasion of US antidumping laws.

With the enactment of the New Trade and Customs Enforcement Act, described above, the US government now has more ways of catching Chinese companies and US importers that try to evade US trade laws. As one Chinese friend told me, such actions are “too damned dangerous”.

Although US judgments are not enforceable in China, Chinese companies have to also realize, that like ZTE, they have grown up and have subsidiaries all around the World. US judgments may not be enforceable in China, but they are enforceable in Hong Kong and other countries, and every Chinese company I have ever dealt with has a Hong Kong bank account.  Through its scheme to evade US export control laws, ZTE now has major problems and those problems may now multiply worldwide.

CHINA’S NME STATUS—ANOTHER HOT TOPIC FOR 2016

As stated in prior newsletters, interest groups on both sides of the issue have increased their political attacks in the debate over China’s market economy status. On February 23, 2016, under intense pressure from the labor unions, Hilary Clinton stated that to give market economy status to China:

“would defang our anti-dumping laws and let cheap products flood into our markets. So we should reply with only one word: No.”

To summarize the issue, on December 11, 2016, pursuant to the WTO Agreement, the 15 year provision, expires. More specifically, the United States faces a looming deadline under the WTO Agreement with regard to the application of this nonmarket economy methodology to China.

Under Nonmarket economy methodology, Commerce does not use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping, but constructs a cost from consumption factors in China multiplied by surrogate values from import statistics in 5 to 10 different countries and those values can change from preliminary to final determination and review to review. Because of this methodology no Chinese company and certainly no US importer that is liable for the duties, knows whether the Chinese company is truly dumping.  Fake numbers lead to fake results.

Section 15 of the China WTO Accession Agreement, which originated from the US China WTO Accession Agreement, provides:

  • Price Comparability in Determining Subsidies and Dumping . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

As stated above, Hilary Clinton is under enormous pressure to be tough on China. On February 12th,The American Iron and Steel Industry made it clear that it wants China’s non-market economy status in antidumping cases to be at the forefront of the public debate.  Thus Thomas Gibson, AISI president and CEO, stated:

“We want to keep the issue in front of decision makers and in the public debate because there will be a new government a year from now. “

He further stated that the Obama administration has not shown any sign that it is considering treating China as a market economy in AD cases as a result of an expiring provision in the country’s accession protocol to the World Trade Organization. As Gibson further stated:

“We have not heard anyone in the administration say that they agree with China’s assertion that it is to be given market economy status automatically at the end of the year. I think the administration has heard our concerns.”

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke also reportedly stated in early February in Geneva that there was little administration interest in treating China as a market economy:

“The issue of China’s status is not automatic. The mere change of date at the end of the year does not automatically result in a change of status for China.”

Other US government officials have informally conceded that the administration has arrived at the conclusion that no automatic change of U.S. AD methodology is needed, a position clearly articulated by the Commerce Department.

In the attached February 24, 2016 statement to the US China Economic and Security Review Commission, HUFBAUER STATE, however, Gary Clyde Hufbauer, a well-known international trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, made the opposite argument noting first that the following countries have granted China market economy status in antidumping cases: New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. Hufbauer went on to state:

Some lawyers read the text differently. While they agree that Article 15(a)(ii) effectively disappears on December 11, 2016, they do not agree that the Protocol confines WTO members to a binary choice between MES (strict comparison of export prices with Chinese prices or costs) and NME (comparison with surrogate prices or costs). They point to the opening language in Article 15(a), which states:

…the importing WTO member shall use either Chinese prices or costs for the industry under investigation or a methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices or costs in China….

To be sure, under Article 15(d), the whole of Article 15(a) disappears:

Once China has established, under the national law of the importing WTO Member, that it is a market economy, the provisions of subparagraph (a) shall be terminated….

The United States might well argue, come December 11, 2016, that China has not established that it has become, in all important respects, a market economy. The Commerce Department could modify its current surrogate practices and instead use a “mix-and-match” approach—claiming on a case-by-case basis that some Chinese prices or costs reflect market conditions and others do not. For the prices or costs that do not reflect market conditions, the Commerce Department could use surrogate prices or costs. This seems most likely in industries, such as steel, dominated by state-owned enterprises, with large losses financed by state-controlled banks.

Whether the United States takes a “mix-and-match” approach, rather than granting China blanket market economy status, will turn primarily on policy considerations, not legal parsing. The policy decision may reflect the general atmosphere of commercial relations with China late in 2016, including the evolution of the renminbi exchange rate (manipulated devaluation would inspire a harder line) and the outcome of US-China bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations (success would have the opposite effect).

Assuming the United States adopts a “mix-and-match” approach, the stage will be set for China to initiate WTO litigation. In this scenario, the year 2018 seems the earliest date for a final decision by the WTO Appellate Body. My guess is that the Appellate Body would rule against the “mix-and-match” approach. Even so, China would not receive retroactive refunds for antidumping duties collected prior to the ruling.

Moreover, within China, the US denial of full-fledged MES would resonate strongly, in a negative way. Antagonism would be particularly strong if, as I expect, the European Union and other major countries accord MES in December 2016. Consequently, China would likely retaliate in opaque ways against US exporters and investors.

On balance, the United States would lose more than it gains from withholding full-fledged MES. A very large irritant would be thrown into US-China commercial relations, with a modest benefit to US industries that initiate AD proceedings. Even without the use of surrogate costs and prices, AD margins are typically high. Adding an extra 20 percent penalty, through the use of surrogate cost and price methodologies, will not do a great deal more to restrain injurious imports.

On February 25, 2016, Cecilia Malmström, the EU Commissioner for Trade, stated at a China Association Event in London that China is:

a major investment partner too. The EU has stocks of 117 billion pound sterling in the Chinese economy. And China is a growing source of foreign investment for the EU. Chinese investment in EU in 2014 is four times what it was in 2008.

And, if we just look at our exports alone, over 3 million jobs here in Europe depend on our sales in China. . . .

The second issue I want to raise is the question of changing the methodology in anti-dumping investigations concerning Chinese products, the so-called market economy status.

This is a sensitive issue. And it’s become even more so with the steel situation. That’s why the EU is conducting a thorough impact assessment and public consultation before we make up our minds on where to go.

But what is clear is that certain provisions of China’s protocol of accession to the WTO related to this issue will expire in December.

We need to be very careful how we approach this and we need to work cooperatively. We will need the constructive engagement of all Member States, including the UK.

On March 3, 2016, the executive council of the AFL-CIO labor union called on the US government to end the trade agreement TTIP negotiations if the EU makes China a market economy country.

TRADE

RAW ALUMINUM PROBLEMS

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

On February 24, 2016, in a letter to the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), WAYS MEANS LETTER ALUMINUM, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady requested that the Commission conduct a section 332 fact finding investigation of the US aluminum industry. The letter specifically states:

The Committee on Ways and Means is interested in obtaining current information on relevant factors affecting the global competitiveness of the U.S. aluminum industry. The U.S. aluminum industry remains a globally successful producer of aluminum products. A healthy and growing aluminum industry is not only important to our economy, but is also vital for our national defense. ·

In order to better assess the current market conditions confronting the U.S. industry, we request that the U.S. International Trade Commission conduct an investigation under section 332(g) of the Tariff Act of 1930 ( 19 U.S.C. !332(g)), and provide a report setting forth the results of the investigation. The investigation should cover unwrought (e.g., primary and secondary) and wrought (e.g., semi-finished) aluminum products

To the extent that information is available, the report should contain:

  • an overview of the aluminum industry in the United States and other major global producing and exporting countries, including production, production capacity, capacity utilization, employment, wages, inventories, supply chains, domestic demand, and exports;

information on recent trade trends and developments in the global market for aluminum, including U.S. and other major foreign producer imports and exports, and trade flows through third countries for further processing and subsequent exports;

  • a comparison of the competitive strengths and weaknesses of aluminum production and exports in the United States and other major producing and exporting countries, including such factors as producer revenue and production costs, industry structure, input prices and availability, energy costs and sources, production technology, product in novation, exchange rates, and pricing, as well as government policies and programs that directly or indirectly affect aluminum production and exporting in these countries;
  • in countries where unwrought aluminum capacity has significantly increased, identify factors driving those capacity and related production changes; and
  • a qualitative and, to the extent possible, quantitative assessment of the impact of government policies and programs in major foreign aluminum producing and exporting countries on their aluminum production, exports, consumption, and domestic prices, as well as on the U.S. aluminum industry and on aluminum markets worldwide.

The report should focus primarily on the 2011-2015 time period, but examine longer term trends since 2011. To develop detailed information on the domestic aluminum market and industry, it is anticipated that the Commission will need to collect primary data from market participants through questionnaires. The Committee requests that the Commission transmit its report to Congress no later than 16 months following the receipt of this request. . . .

One major purpose of the investigation is to assess how China policies have affected the US aluminum industry.

President Heidi Brock of the US Aluminum Association, which represents the US aluminum industry, applauded the Ways and Means request for an ITC investigation:

“An investigation by the [ITC] will help us address ongoing issues in the global aluminum industry that are hurting the domestic market and leading to curtailments, closures and job losses. I am pleased that the Congress recognizes the continued economic importance of this vital industry and I applaud Chairman Brady’s leadership to move this issue forward.”

Recently, the U.S. industry has curtailed or closed 65 percent of U.S. aluminum capacity with many job losses for U.S. workers

The information collected by the ITC could be used as the basis for trade cases against China and other countries.

THE ONGOING STEEL CASES

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

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

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

COLD ROLLED STEEL FROM CHINA, BRAZIL, KOREA, INDIA AND RUSSIA—PRELIMINARY COUNTERVAILING DUTY AND ANTIDUMPING DETERMINATIONS

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

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

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

On March 1, 2016 Commerce issued its attached preliminary antidumping determination mirroring the rates in the preliminary CVD determination. Specifically, in a factsheet, factsheet-multiple-cold-rolled-steel-flat-products-ad-prelim-030116, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the antidumping duty  investigations of imports of certain cold rolled steel flat products from Brazil, China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

As predicted, China’s antidumping rate was 265.79% as the Chinese companies simply gave up and did not participate because they believed that it would be impossible to get a good antidumping rate using nonmarket economy methodology.

For the other market economy countries, the results were mixed. Brazil received antidumping rates of 38.93% and Japan was 71.35%.

But India’s rate was only 6.78% and Korea had rates ranging from 2.17 to 6.85%. For Russia, the rates ranged from 12.62 to 16.89% and the United Kingdom rates were between 5.79 to 31.39%.

What does this mean? China is wiped out along with Japan and probably Brazil, but Korea, India, Russia and UK will continue to export steel to the US and simply take the Chinese market share.

Antidumping and countervailing duty cases do not save US industries.

CUSTOMS NEW “LIVE ENTRY” PROCEDURES FOR STEEL IMPORTS

On March 3, 2016, Customs announced a new effort to enforce trade rules against steel shipments at risk for evasion of antidumping and countervailing duty orders. It requires importers of record to provide the paperwork and pay the necessary duties before a given shipment is released into the U.S. market.

This live-entry requirement is already being applied to cut-to-length steel plate from China. Customs is considering requiring live-entry procedures for other high-risk steel imports subject to the 100 plus AD/CVD cases, but sidestepped a question on whether these procedures would apply to products other than steel.

This new live entry requirement slows up imports from entering the US commerce to that Customs can make sure everything in the shipment is correct before releasing it into the Commerce of the United States.

SOLAR CELLS REVIEW DETERMINATION

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

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

Meanwhile, requests for antidumping and countervailing duty review investigations in the Solar Cells case were due in December 2015 and in February 2016 for the Solar Products. While in China in February, I ran into many Chinese solar companies that were in serious trouble because they failed to request a review investigation.

MARCH ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On March 1, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, MARCH REVIEWS, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of March. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Chloropicrin, Circular Welded Austenitic Stainless Pressure Pipe, Glycine, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, and Tissue Paper Products.

The specific countervailing duty case is: Circular Welded Austenitic Stainless Pressure Pipe

For those US import companies that imported : Chloropicrin, Circular Welded Austenitic Stainless Pressure Pipe, Glycine, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, or Tissue Paper Products during the antidumping period March 1, 2015-February28, 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 in February, I found so many examples of Chinese solar companies or US importers, which did not file requests for a review investigation. In one instance, although the Chinese companies obtained separate rates during the initial investigation, the Petitioner appealed to the Court.  Several Chinese companies and US importers did not know the case was appealed, and the importers now owe millions in antidumping duties because they failed to file a request for a review investigation in December.

CUSTOMS

RICO ACTION AGAINST CHINESE GARLIC EXPORTERS

In the attached complaint, GARLIC COMPLAINT, on January 28, 2016, Chinese garlic exporter Zhengzhou Harmoni Spice Co. Ltd. and its parent company sued a group of Chinese competitors in California federal court accusing them of deliberately defrauding the U.S. government in order to acquire preferential duty rates.

Zhengzhou Harmoni claimed the exporters, which the company says are affiliated to Chinese businessman Wenxuan Bai, are defrauding the system by lying and submitting falsified documents to Customs and Commerce in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The company said their competitors’ allegedly unlawful conduct is unfairly eroding Harmoni’s market share because Harmoni rightly earned favorable rates from the federal government through the antidumping review process,

Zhengzhou Harmoni told the court that its parent company and exclusive importer enjoys a similar advantage in the U.S. marketplace, but accused the Bai-affiliated garlic exporters of unlawfully forming new corporate entities and revitalizing old ones in order to obtain coveted “new shipper” designations to garner preferential treatment.

Meanwhile, in a decision, CIT PREMIER GARLIC, in late January Premier Trading, Inc. v. United States, Premier, a U.S. garlic  importer of garlic from Qingdao Tiantaixing Foods Co. Ltd., one of the companies named in Harmoni’s RICO suit, sued Customs and Commerce in the U.S. Court of International Trade (“CIT”). Premier Trading Inc. alleged CBP’s enhanced bond requirements for shipments from QTF are resulting in delays and leaving fresh garlic to spoil.

On February 11, 2016, Judge Gordon of the CIT denied Premier’s motion for a preliminary injunction, stating at the outset that there was no likelihood of success on the merits:

It is apparent that QTF may potentially be subject to the higher PRC-wide rate as a consequence of Commerce’s preliminary determination in the 20th administrative review. Furthermore, there has been a long and documented pattern of non-payment and underpayment of antidumping duties subject to the Garlic Order (amounting to several hundred million dollars). . . . Customs, here, has also provided confidential documents regarding Plaintiff’s connection to other importers that mirror a pattern of non-payment and underpayment, which suggests, as Customs claims, that Plaintiff poses a similar risk to the revenue. . . . In light of these facts, it is hard to see merit in Plaintiff’s claim that Customs failed to provide an adequate explanation for the enhanced bonding requirement for Plaintiff’s entries. Accordingly, Customs’ imposition of a heightened bonding requirement on imports from QTF does not appear arbitrary or capricious. . . . Plaintiff has therefore failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits.

Judge Gordon then found that there was no irreparable injury and that the balance of equities favored the Government. Judge Gordon then stated that Public Interest lies in favor of the Government:

Here, the public has an interest in protecting the revenue of the United States and in assuring compliance with the trade laws. See 19 U.S.C. § 1623. Enhanced bonding pending litigation serves both these interests. Additional security covers potential liabilities and protects against default, ensuring the correct antidumping duty is paid.

CUSTOMS PROTEST RULE APPEALED TO SUPREME COURT

Meanwhile, International Custom Products Inc. has filed an attached writ of certiorari on January 19, SUPREME COURT CERT PROTEST ISSUE, and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of a Customs rule requiring the full payment of duties by an importer before a court case can proceed, challenging the Federal Circuit’s conclusion that the policy meets due process requirements. The importer argues that the CPB rule requiring importers to fully pay imposed duties before bringing a court case is unconstitutional because it deprives the company of due process. The company has been disputing $28 million in tariffs it claims have been erroneously applied to its imports of white sauce due to the agency’s reclassification of the product.

FALSE CLAIMS ACT

GRAPHITE ELECTRODES

On February 22, 2016 in a settlement agreement, SETTLEMENT FCA GRAPHITE, Ameri-Source International Inc., a graphite electrodes company, paid $3 million to settle a false claims act case that it schemed to avoid antidumping duties on imports of graphite electrodes from China in violation of the False Claims Act. The complaint alleges that the importer misclassified the merchandise and lied about the country of origin to avoid paying anti-dumping duties on shipments of small-diameter graphite electrodes use for manufacturing.

Ameri-Source reportedly established a shell company in India to accept the imports of graphite rods from China for “jobwork,” and to re-export the materials to the U.S. to circumvent stateside customs regulations. The settlement resolves claims that Ameri-Source evaded anti-dumping duties on 15 shipments.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

NEW 337 CASES

On January 21, 2016, Edgewell Personal Care Brands, LLC and International Refills Company Ltd. filed a new 337 patent case on Certain Diaper Disposal Systems and Components Thereof, Including Diaper Refill Cassettes against Munchkin, Inc., Van Nuys, CA; Munchkin Baby Canada Ltd., Canada; and Lianyungang Brilliant Daily Products Co. Ltd., in China.

On February 5, 2016, Simple Wishes, LLC filed a new section 337 on Pumping Bras against Tanzky, China; Baby Preg, China; Deal Perfect, China; and Buywish, China.

CRIMINAL PATENT CASES

On January 26, 2016, the US Justice Department announced that Chinese National Mo Hailong, Robert Mo, pled guilty to conspiring to steal trade secrets from Dupont, Pioneer and Monsanto. In a notice, Chinese National Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Steal Trade Secrets _ OPA _, the Justice Department stated:

Specifically, Hailong admitted to participating in the theft of inbred – or parent – corn seeds from fields in the Southern District of Iowa for the purpose of transporting those seeds to China. The stolen inbred seeds constitute the valuable intellectual property of DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.

During the conspiracy, Hailong was employed as director of international business of the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Company, a Chinese conglomerate with a corn seed subsidiary company, Kings Nower Seed. Hailong is a Chinese national who became a lawful permanent resident of the United States pursuant to an H-1B visa.

Hailong is scheduled to be sentenced at a date to be determined later in Des Moines, Iowa. Conspiracy to steal trade secrets is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. As part of Hailong’s plea agreement, the government has agreed not to seek a prison sentence exceeding five years.

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

On January 13, 2016, in the attached complaint, SHENZHEN PATENT CASE, PS Products Inc and Bill Pennington filed a patent case against Global Sources, Ltd. and affiliated parties, and Jiangsu Rayi Security Products, Co., Ltd. and Shenzhen Rose Industrial Co., Ltd.

On January 21, 2016, in the attached complaint, STAHLS PATENT CASEStahls’ Inc. filed a patent case against Vevor Corp., Shanghai Sishun Machinery Equipment Co., Ltd. and Saven Corp.

On January 25, 2016, in the attached complaint, UNICOLORS COPYRIGHT, Unicolors, Inc. filed a copyright infringement case against Jiangsu Global Development, Inc., T. Milano Ross Stores Inc., DD’s Discounts, Phool Fashion Ltd., the Vermont Country Store, Inc. and Trends Inc.

On January 26, 2016, in the attached complaint, BLUE RHINO PATENT CASE, Blue Rhino Global Sourcing filed a patent case against Guangdong Chant Group Co., Ltd.

On February 1, 2016, in the attached complaint, ZHEJIANG PATENT CASE, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. filed a patent case against Stason Industrial Corp., Stason Pharmaceuticals Inc., Zhejiang Jinhua Conba Bio-Pharm Co., Ltd., Tai Heng Industry Co., Ltd, and Breckenridge Pharmaceutical Inc.

On February 5, 2016, in the attached complaint, VACCUUM TRADE SECRET CASE, IMIG, Inc., Nationwide Sales and Services Inc, Gumwand Inc. and Perfect Products Services and Supply Inc. filed a trade secrets and unfair competition case against Omi Electric Appliance Company Co., Ltd., Beijing China Base Startrade Co., Ltd. and Xi Shihui, a Chinese citizen.

On February 10, 2016, in the attached complaint, HUAWEI PATENT CASE, Blue Spike LLC filed a patent case against Huawei Technologies.

PRODUCTS LIABILITY CASES AND LACY ACT VIOLATIONS

THE RISE OF CHINESE PRODUCTS LIABILITY INSURANCE

While in China last month working on various cases, I learned that the People’s Insurance Company (“PICC”) is offering Chinese companies products liability insurance. Every US importer should demand that his Chinese supplier obtain product’s liability insurance.  Otherwise when something goes wrong, the US importer is on the hook for damages, not the Chinese company that created the problem.

PRODUCT LIABILITY COMPLAINTS

On January 26, 2016, in the attached complaint, CHINA FIREWORKS CASE, the Reynolds Family filed a products liability/wrongful death case on behalf of Russell Reynolds, who was killed when Chinese fireworks went off by mistake. The respondent companies are Pyro Shows of Texas, Inc., Pyro Shows, Inc., Czech International Trading, Jiangxi Lidu Fireworks Group Co., Ltd., Jiangxi Province Lidu Fireworks Corp., Ltd., Fireworks Corp., Ltd., Icon Pyrotechnic International Co., Ltd., Oriental Fireworks Co., Ltd. and Glorious Company.

On January 26, 2016, in the attached complaint, CHINA REFRIGERATOR, Allstate Insurance Company on behalf of Miguel Bejarno filed a products liability case against Electrolux Home Products Inc., Midea Group Co., Ltd. and Guangzhou Refrigeration Co., Ltd. because a Chinese produced refrigerator blew up and burned down a house causing extensive damage.

LARGEST LACEY ACT FINE IN HISTORY AGAINST LUMBER LIQUIDATORS FOR CHINESE HARDWOOD IMPORTS

On February 1, 2016, the Justice Department in the attached statement, Lumber Liquidators Inc. Sentenced for Illegal Importation of Hardwood and Re, announced that Lumber Liquidators Inc. was sentenced for illegal Importation of hardwood from China and related environmental crimes and agreed to pay 13 million, one of the largest penalties ever issued under the Lacey Act. The announcement states:

Virginia-based hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators Inc. was sentenced today in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, and will pay more than $13 million in criminal fines, community service and forfeited assets related to its illegal importation of hardwood flooring, much of which was manufactured in China from timber that had been illegally logged in far eastern Russia, in the habitat of the last remaining Siberian tigers and Amur leopards in the world . . . .

In total, the company will pay $13.15 million, including $7.8 million in criminal fines, $969,175 in criminal forfeiture and more than $1.23 million in community service payments. Lumber Liquidators has also agreed to a five-year term of organizational probation and mandatory implementation of a government-approved environmental compliance plan and independent audits. In addition, the company will pay more than $3.15 million in cash through a related civil forfeiture. The more than $13.15 million dollar penalty is the largest financial penalty for timber trafficking under the Lacey Act and one of the largest Lacey Act penalties ever.

Lumber Liquidators pleaded guilty and was charged in October 2015 in the Eastern District of Virginia with one felony count of importing goods through false statements and four misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act, which makes it a crime to import timber that was taken in violation of the laws of a foreign country and to transport falsely-labeled timber across international borders into the United States. . . . This is the first felony conviction related to the import or use of illegal timber and the largest criminal fine ever under the Lacey Act.

“The case against Lumber Liquidators shows the true cost of turning a blind eye to the environmental laws that protect endangered wildlife,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This company left a trail of corrupt transactions and habitat destruction. Now they will pay a price for this callous and careless pursuit of profit.” . . .

“By knowingly and illegally sourcing timber from vulnerable forests in Asia and other parts of the world, Lumber Liquidators made American consumers unwittingly complicit in the ongoing destruction of some of the world’s last remaining intact forests,” said Director Dan Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Along with hastening the extinction of the highly endangered Siberian tiger and many other native species, illegal logging driven by the company’s greed threatens the many people who depend on sustainable use of these forests for food, clean water, shelter and legitimate jobs. These unprecedented sanctions show how seriously we take illegal trade, and I am grateful to the Service special agents and wildlife inspectors, Homeland Security agents, and Justice Department attorneys who halted Lumber Liquidators’ criminal acts and held the company accountable under the law.”

According to a joint statement of facts filed with the court, from 2010 to 2013, Lumber Liquidators repeatedly failed to follow its own internal procedures and failed to take action on self-identified “red flags.” Those red flags included imports from high risk countries, imports of high risk species, imports from suppliers who were unable to provide documentation of legal harvest and imports from suppliers who provided false information about their products. Despite internal warnings of risk and noncompliance, very little changed at Lumber Liquidators.

ANTITRUST

There have been developments in the antitrust area.

CHINESE BAUXITE EXPORTERS WIN ANTITRUST CASE

On January 25, 2016, in the attached opinion in Resco Products, Inc. v. Bosai Minerals Group Co., Ltd. and CMP Tianjin Co., Ltd., BAUXITE OPINION, Chief District Judge Conti in the Western District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment for the Chinese companies and dismissed the antitrust case. Resco brought the claim individually and as a class representative, against Bosai and CMP alleging a conspiracy in China to fix the price and limit the supply of refractory grade bauxite in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1.

The Court concluded that any price floor or quota was set by the Chinese government’s Ministry of Commerce, not by the individual Chinese Bauxite companies. In its discussion of the facts, the Court stated:

In his declaration for the China Chamber of Commerce for Metals and Chemicals (“CCCMC”), Liu Jian (“Jian”), a CCCMC employee since 1995 and deputy director of the Bidding Office since 2006, . . . explained that “[a]t Bauxite Branch meetings, Bidding Office staff asked the Bauxite Branch members for their opinions about specific proposed quota amounts, quota bidding minimum prices, and other matters relating to quota bidding.” . . . but the authority and power to adopt quotas, and to establish the quota amount, minimum bidding price, and other terms, was always with MOFCOM, not the members or the CCCMC. MOFCOM could, and often did, set the quotas and minimum bidding prices at levels different than those favored by members. . . .

The Judge went on to state:

Here, plaintiff’s § 1 claim is based on its assertion that “[d]efendants and their co-conspirators colluded to fix export prices and quotas for bauxite from 2003 to 2009. . . .

In a per se case, “‘the plaintiff need only prove that the defendants conspired among each other and that this conspiracy was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.’”  . . .

In a vacuum, proposals to set bauxite quotas at specified levels being voted on at Bauxite Branch meetings appear to indicate explicit member participation in a conspiracy to limit output. However, the Bauxite Branch’s demonstrated lack of authority with respect to quotas invalidates such a finding. Since at least 2001, MOFCOM has been “responsible for deciding and announcing the types and the total quota quantity of commodities subject to bidding,” not the CCCMC or its Branches. . . . The quota announced by the Bidding Committee during each of the years of the alleged conspiracy never corresponded to a resolution of the Bauxite Branch. At its 2004 through 2006 meetings, the Bauxite Branch failed to pass any resolution related to quota amount, yet the Bidding Committee, an instrumentality of MOFCOM, still announced quotas in each of those years. . . . Any conspiracy to establish a limit equal to or higher than that imposed by the government could have no effect.

Consistent with the undisputed Declaration of the CCCMC, Bauxite Branch member votes for proposals concerning the yearly bauxite quota amount can only be construed as opinions offered to MOFCOM. .   . . These opinions were not that limits should be placed on bauxite output. The implementation of quotas was mandated by the Chinese government, not agreed to by private entities. . . .

Bauxite Branch members were asked for their opinions pertaining to the bauxite quota during meetings, “but the authority and power to adopt quotas, and to establish the quota amount, minimum bidding price, and other terms, was always with MOFCOM.” . . .

As discussed previously, the evidence adduced with respect to the quotas cannot support a § 1 claim, because the Chinese government – and not defendants – set the quotas.

Resco has appealed the District’s Court’s determination to the Court of Appeals.

CHINESE COMPANIES SETTLE SOLYNDRA SOLAR CASE

On February 26, 2016, in the attached settlement agreement, SOLYNDRA SETTLEMENT, Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Ltd. agreed to settle for $7.5 million a US antitrust case alleging that Chinese companies conspired to set prices with the objective of destroying Solyndra.

Solyndra previously settled the litigation against two other Chinese companies, Trina Solar Ltd. and Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, for a total of $51 million, with Trina Solar paying $45 million and Suntech paying $6 million.

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

On February 3, 2016, T&D sent us their attached January report on Chinese competition law, T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of January 2016.  The main contents of the January report are:

(1) NDRC: Guideline on Leniency Policies in Horizontal Monopoly Agreement Cases has Begun to Seek for Opinions; (2) SAIC Held a Forum to Seek for Opinions and Comments on the Guideline on Prohibiting the Behavior of Abusing Intellectual Property Rights to Restrict or Eliminate Competition (the Sixth Draft); (3) MOFCOM Year-End Review: Positively Promoting Anti-monopoly Enforcement and Protecting Fair Competition of the Market; (4) SAIC: Anti-monopoly Law Enforcement Treats All Market Players the Same, etc. . . .

On February 5, 2016, T&D sent us the latest attached draft of Guideline on Undertakings’ Commitments in Anti-Monopoly Cases on February 3rd, 2015, Guideline on Undertakings’ Commitments in Anti-Monopoly Cases-EN-T&D.

SECURITIES

US LISTED CHINESE COMPANIES MOVING BACK TO CHINA TO RAISE MONEY

On February 29, 2016, it was reported that many U.S.-listed Chinese companies are leaving the United States and moving back to China as the easing of Chinese securities regulations has renewed the possibility of finding stronger valuations domestically.

Although there has been market volatility in China, US too has had volatility. Apparently, there is a perception that a stronger valuation can be found in Chinese domestic stock markets, where investors have a stronger understanding of the companies and the role they play.  In November, the China Securities Regulatory Commission began greenlighting IPO-bound companies and promised to take measures to help reform the country’s system for initial public offerings.

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT

In February Dorsey& Whitney LLP issued its January February 2016 Anti-Corruption Digest, TIANJIN INVESTMENT COMPANY. The Digest states with regards to China:

China

Wang Qishan, the Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has given assurances that China’s anti-corruption efforts will continue in 2016. In a recent speech, Mr. Wang stressed that, “the strength of our anti-corruption efforts will not be lessened”.

This sentiment was echoed by the recent sentencing of two former officials:

According to state media, Li Dongsheng, China’s former deputy national police chief, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption. Reports state that Mr. Li stood accused of taking bribes totally ¥22 million ($3.3 million/£2.3 million) and abusing his power. It is said that Mr. Li will not appeal the verdict.

A former top official in the city of Guangzhou has reportedly admitted to taking ¥111 million ($17 million/£11.5 million) in bribes between 2000 and 2014. Wan Qingliang’s alleged corruption is said to have included taking bribes of more than ¥50 million ($7.6 million/£5.2 million) from a company that he had helped to win a government development project.

In a written statement the Nanning Intermediate People’s Court said that Mr. Wan raised no objection to the charge of corruption and that he showed remorse during the trial. It is said that Mr. Wan told the court that, “I have hurt the Party, the people and my family and I hope that the court can give me another chance.”  

Recently, Dorsey& Whitney LLP issued its attached February 2016 Anti-Corruption Digest, Anti_Corruption_Digest_Feb2016. The Digest states with regards to China:

China

China’s army has not been immune from President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive and has seen a number of its officers investigated, including two former vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission.

To continue this drive, it has been reported that the military’s anti-corruption discipline inspection committee has established a hotline as a means for reports to be made regarding allegations of corruption in the People’s Liberation Army. It is said that the hotline will “fully utilize supervision by the masses” and complaints will be addressed in a “timely and earnest” fashion.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS.

On March 8, 2016 Jacob Sheiner filed the attached class action securities complaint, TIANJIN INVESTMENT COMPANY, against a number of individuals and also Tianjin Tianhai Investment Co., Ltd. as well as GCL Acquisition, Inc.

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

US China Trade War–Developments in Trade, Trade Politics, Patents/IP, Antitrust and Securites

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC Reflectio“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER MAY 18, 2015 UPDATE

Dear Friends,

I have been very busy over the last two months on a number of different cases.  Can now turn my attention back to the the blog.  But the recent events on Capitol Hill, especially the vote yesterday in the Senate to block passage of the TPA bill, has pushed me to send out the two lead stories today as an update because they are so timely.

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

Best regards,

Bill

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY (“TPA”) FIGHT ON CAPITOL HILL

The major trade issue is Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and the Trans Pacific Partnership and there are day to day changes.

After the Democrats in the Senate blocked the TPA bill from coming to the floor by a vote of 52 to 45 on May 12th, the Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) bill was put together with the TPA bill. The other two bills on Customs Enforcement and Africa are to be considered separately and the legislation is moving forward.

Today, May 18th and 19th TPA is being considered by the Senate with a final vote expected on May 19th.  To see fireworks in the Senate, see the following link in CSPAN http://www.c-span.org/video/?326082-1/us-senate-morning-business&live

On May 12, 2015, Democrats in the Senate blocked the TPA bill from coming to the floor by a vote of 52 to 45.  Four bills have been crafted to move together.  They are the TPA bill, Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) for workers and companies bill, Customs Enforcement Bill/‘‘Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015’’ and an African Trade Bill.  Copies of those bills are attachedCUSTOMS AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT BILL TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE BILL TRADE PREFERENCES ACT TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY BILL.

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

To see the Republican and Democratic arguments on May 12th on the Trade Bills, see http://www.c-span.org/video/?c4537385/senators-mitch-mcconnell-harry-reid-blocked-trade-promotion-authority-bill.  Also see speech by Senator Hatch at minute 24 at this link http://www.c-span.org/video/?325918-9/senators-mcconnell-reid-wyden-hatch-cornyn-trade-promotion-authority to get a better idea of what is going on.  Senator Hatch described currency manipulation as “a killer amendment” to the TPA.

Negotiations continue.  See Houses Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan’s response today to the Senate Vote that the entire world is watching, including China http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000379026

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

Those Senators provided the important additional 9 votes, along with the two missing Republican votes, to push the TPA Bill in the Senate over the filibuster barrier of 60 votes to the finish line.

STEEL TRADE CASES ARE COMING

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

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

The announcement for the hearing described it as follows:

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

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

Mario Longhi of US Steel stated:

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

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

That pledge resulted in the proposed changes to the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty laws in the Customs Enforcement Bill formally entitled ‘‘Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015’’Act presently before Congress.  That Bill is the one that includes the Currency Manipulation provision and will be voted on tomorrow in the Senate.

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

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

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

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

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

Against China, it is easy to bring steel trade cases because Commerce does not use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping.  But when actual prices and costs are used against market economy countries, such as Korea, it is a much bigger problem.  Steel companies in market economy countries are expecting trade cases to be filed and have already used computer programs to run their numbers and make sure that they are not dumping.

So with 40 years of protection from steel imports, the question should be asked is Bethlehem Steel alive today?  Do the Trade Cases actually work to save the companies?  I believe that all the trade cases can do is delay the decline of the steel companies, but mess up the market during the mean time.  The real way to save steel companies is through the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program, which focuses at the micro level to help the companies adjust to import competition.

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 19, 2015

SPEECH IN NANJING CHINA ON MARCH 9, 2015

Dear Friends,

On March 9, 2015, I will be giving a speech on US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty law, Solar cases, section 337 IP cases and Trade Politics in Nanjing China through the Jiangsu Professional Connection.  The web link for more details about the speech is as follows https://az199.infusionsoft.com/app/page/north-american-logistics-salon?inf_contact_key=5b5596bbfdd91501d97ab4dc9c6c8f58cc044086f560cb5c8d22a1a83cf36137.

You can also learn more about the speech from Scott Holbrook at scott.holbrook@smolakindustries.com  More details about the speech are set forth below:

When: Monday, March 9th 7:00pm (Pre-speech Drinks), 7:45pm (Anti-Dumping Presentation), 8:45pm (Networking Session)

Where: Secco Restaurant and Lounge, 132 Changhong Lu, Nanjing (PRC)

FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER

On January 11thth, I put up my last post stating that because of its length, I have broken up the post into two parts. This February post includes a Trade, Customs and IP update with longer sections on Antitrust and Securities law. My intent was to have a short Trade and Customs update but there is so much happening in the trade area, especially on Capitol Hill, that there are literally day to day developments. Because of the many developments, it has taken a while to put this post up.

TRADE

SPEECH

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

OFFICE PAPER FROM CHINA

On January 21st, a major antidumping and countervailing duty case was filed against Uncoated/ Office Paper from China. Attached are a short form of the petition, International Trade Commission’s Notice of Investigation along with a Wall Street Journal Article quoting me about the new case.   OFFICE PAPER CHINA BRAZIL PETITION FED REG OFFICE PAPER ITC The Next Trade Fight Office Paper – WSJ

TIRES

On January 22nd, Commerce announced its preliminary antidumping determination in the Tires from China case. The Commerce Department Federal Register notice is attached FED REG TIRES AD PRELIM. The antidumping rates are from 19.17 to 36.26% with separate rates companies getting 27.72%. The China wide rate is 87.99%.

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

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

In response to the Commerce Department’s determination in the Tires case, the Ministry of Commerce in Beijing (“MOFCOM”) condemned the decision stating that the case has “many flaws.” MOFCOM also stated, “Data shows that the U.S. tire industry is in good shape and gets good profit; imports from China did not cause damage to the domestic industry.”

In response, USW International President Leo W. Gerard stated: “It is the Commerce Department’s statutory duty to neutralize the negative effects of the dumped imports into the United States. Dumped imports have cost thousands of American tire workers their jobs. Left unchecked, the combination of illegal dumping and subsidization on imported tires from China would cost Americans tens of thousands of additional jobs.”

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

On January 21, 2015, in the attached decision, SHENYANG CURTAIN WALLS INSIDE SCOPE in Shenyang Yuanda Aluminum Industry et. Al. vs. United States, the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) determined that imports of Chinese curtain wall, sides of buildings, are within the scope and covered by the US antidumping and countervailing duty orders on Aluminum Extrusions from China.

WOOD FLOORING FROM CHINA

On January 9, 2015, the Commerce Department issued its attached preliminary determination, WOOD FLOORING PRELIM FED REG NOTICE, in the Dec 1, 2012 to Nov 30, 2013 antidumping review investigation in Wood Flooring from China. Rates went up ranging from 0 to 58.84% with most companies getting 18.27%, up from 5.74% in the last review. The final determination will come out in six months. If the final determination stays the same and rates go up, US importers will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

To avoid this liability, importers should fight the review at Commerce.

We are presently in the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit arguing against the ITC final injury determination. If we can win, this case may go away.

But retroactive liability for US importers is predictable in antidumping cases because of annual review investigations. Since Commerce can switch surrogate countries in annual review investigations, it is only a matter of time before antidumping rates go up and US importers find themselves liable for substantial antidumping duties. Chinese companies cannot know whether they are dumping and US importers cannot know, because no one knows which surrogate country Commerce will pick to value the raw material inputs and other factors of production.

That is why there is now a surge of Wood Flooring imports from Indonesia because of the fear of retroactive liability. This is exactly what we told the International Trade Commission (‘ITC”) would happen in the initial investigation and now it has happened. But the ITC ignored the argument.

It is also why we formed the Import Alliance for America, www.importallianceforamerica.com. See below. We are now attempting to gather importers together to meet with Congressional Trade Staff this month to speak about their problems.

COURT OF APPEALS DECIDES BECAUSE ANTIDUMPING DUTIES ARE REMEDIAL NOT DEDUCTED FROM US PRICE IN ANTIDUMPING CASES

On February 5, 2015, in the attached Apex Exports v. United States, APEX CAFC CASE, the Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit determined that since antidumping duties are remedial, in calculating the US price to determine dumping when either the foreign exporter or an affiliated US importer is the importer of record, Commerce should not deduct the antidumping cash deposits from the US price. This means that if the import sale is structured correctly, foreign producers can reduce their antidumping rates because of the way Commerce calculates antidumping rates.

As the Court stated:

“Commerce considers antidumping duties as distinct from normal selling expenses and customs duties. Normal customs duties have no remedial purpose. . . . Antidumping duties, on the other hand, are special duties that implement a trade remedy. . . .As the CIT has described it, antidumping duties are “an element of a fair and reasonable price,” not an import duty or cost associated with importation. . . . Furthermore, legislative history signals that antidumping duties are special remedial duties, distinct from U.S. import duties. . . . It is therefore reasonable for Commerce not to treat antidumping duties as costs of importation when calculating EP. . . .

What is more, Commerce declines to deduct antidumping margins when calculating the margins because that would be inappropriately circular and result in a double counting of the remedy. In arguing otherwise, Ad Hoc misses the point of the antidumping statute. The goal of imposing the duty is to prevent dumping by effectively raising the price of subject merchandise in the U.S. to the fair value. The importer has less incentive to charge an unfairly low price, because it will have to make up the difference through a duty payment. . . .

Because Commerce’s interpretation of the antidumping statute is a permissible construction, the CIT’s decision to sustain Commerce’s refusal to deduct antidumping duties when calculating export price is affirmed.”

BOLTLESS STEEL SHELVING

On January 26, 2015, in the attached factsheet, CVD factsheet-prc-boltless-steel-shelving-units-cvd-prelim-012615, the Commerce Department announced an affirmative preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (CVD) case on Boltless Steel Shelving Units from China.

Commerce found preliminary subsidy rates ranging from 12.21 percent for Ningbo ETDZ Huixing Trade Co., Ltd. to 14.53 percent for Nanjing Topsun Racking Manufacturing Co., Ltd. All other producers/exporters in China have been assigned a preliminary subsidy rate of 13.37 percent. In addition, fourteen companies which did not respond to the quantity and value questionnaire received a preliminary subsidy rate of 55.75 percent, based on adverse facts available.

A preliminary antidumping determination in the case will be issued in about two months from now.

SOLAR PRODUCTS CASE—ITC AFFIRMATIVE INJURY DETERMINATION

On February 4, 2015, in the attached decision, ITC INJURY DETERMINATION PRODUCTS CASE, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) reached an affirmative injury determination in the Solar Products from China case. As a result, antidumping and countervailing duty orders will be issued against all imports of Chinese solar panels with third country solar cells in them.

COMMERCE HAS INITIATED SECOND SOLAR CELLS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS

The Commerce Department notice initiating the attached second Solar Cells review investigation. Commerce has also issued the attached quantity and value questionnaire in the antidumping review investigation, and is due February 19th, right in the middle of Chinese New Year.  prc-qvq-silicon-photovoltaic-cells-ar-ad-020415 SOLAR CELLS INITIATION NOTICE SECOND REVIEW

FALL OUT FROM SOLAR CELLS AND PRODUCTS CASE—VIETNAM CIRCUMVENTION SOLAR FACTORIES FORCED TO CLOSE DOWN

One US Solar Cells/Panel importer has informed me that the situation in Vietnam right now is “crazy”.  US Customs is working with Vietnam customs to inspect “so-called” solar factories and have already closed down a number of them as they were just an address for Chinese companies to get a Certificate of Origin and “cheat” the system by way of transshipment.  The Importer went on to state, “Our factory has been inspected twice already and both times had no issues as they are a legit factory using foreign solar cells.”

Vietnam’s crackdown on transshipment should not be a surprise because Vietnam is part of the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations.  Part of the negotiations is cracking down on transshipment and preserving country of origin.  This has been a significant topic of the TPP negotiations with Malaysia and apparently Vietnam.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

FEBRUARY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On February 2, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, FEBRUARY REVIEWS, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of February. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Certain Preserved Mushrooms, Frozen Warmwater Shrimp, Heavy Forged Hand Tools, Graphite Electrodes, Uncovered Innerspring Units, and Wind Towers. The specific countervailing duty case is Wind Towers.

For those US import companies that imported Mushrooms, Shrimp, Hand Tools, Graphite Electrodes, Innerspring Units and Wind Towers and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period February 1, 2014-January 31, 2015 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

MAGNESIUM

Two US Executives were ordered to pay fines for evading the US antidumping order on magnesium. Gregory Magness, president of Superior Metal Powders Inc., and Eldon Bott, president of Innovative Materials & Solutions Inc., pled guilty to evading antidumping duties in the millions of dollars under the Magnesium antidumping order. Greg Magness was ordered to pay antidumping duties of $287,942 and Eldon Bott was ordered to pay $55,600. The two executives made false statements to the US government to avoid millions of dollars in antidumping duties by smuggling Chinese magnesium, which was later used for $42 million worth of aircraft flares. The two executives circumvented a 305% antidumping duty on Chinese magnesium powder that a U.S. military contractor unknowingly used to produce $42 million worth of flares that draw heat-seeking missiles away from aircraft.

Because both men pled guilty, Magness and Bott will avoid serving any prison time under the terms of their agreements. Under the agreement with Magness, the government has gone after him personally and he agreed to return $100,000 from savings and investment accounts, provided his wife doesn’t assert any claim to the money he agreed to forfeit.

Magness’ son Justin also pled guilty last month to aiding and abetting in the presentation of a false document to customs officers. Two other individuals, Nehill and Wright, are scheduled to be sentenced in June.

WTO DECISION AGAINST COMMERCE IS HAVING A SIGNIFICANT IMPACT ON NUMEROUS US CVD CASES AGAINST CHINA, INCLUDING THE SOLAR CELLS CASE

At the January 27th Senate Finance Hearing, which is described below, the United States Trade Representative and US Senators celebrated all the victories the United States has had in the WTO against China. I personally heard a US Congressman state “We are winning every case against China in the WTO.”

The statement unfortunately is not true because China is also now winning a lot of cases against the USA. As mentioned in my last newsletter, on December 18, 2014 in the attached United States – Countervailing Duty Measures on Certain Products from China, FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS COMPLETE WTO REPORT, the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) Appellate Body found the United States in violation of the WTO Agreement, specifically the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM), with regards to a number of US countervailing duty cases against China, including the following US countervailing duty investigations against China: Pressure Pipe, Line Pipe, Citric Acid, Lawn Groomers, OCTG, Wire Strand, Magnesia Bricks, Seamless Pipe, Coated Paper, Drill Pipe, Aluminum Extrusions, Steel Cylinders, Wood Flooring, and Solar Cells. On January 16, 2015, the WTO Dispute Settlement Body accepted the December 18th Appellate Body decision.

This WTO decision is now having an impact on numerous past Commerce Department countervailing duty determinations against China, which the WTO has determined are inconsistent with the WTO Agreement. In response, on January 28 and January 29, the Commerce Department initiated investigations under 19 USC 3538, Administrative Actions following WTO Panel Reports, on a number of different products.

As the Commerce Department states in the attached notice on the Solar Cells case, CVD RE INVESTIGATION WTO:

This is to inform you that, pursuant to Section 129 of the Uruguay Round Agreements Act, 19 USC 3538, the Department of Commerce (Department) is in the process of making a determination not inconsistent with the findings of the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel (the Panel) and Appellate Body (AB) in United States – Countervailing and Anti-dumping Measures on Certain Products from China (WT/DS449). This dispute concerns the final determination in the antidumping duty investigation on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the order published on December 7, 2012.

Several other notices are attached, including Wood Flooring and Coated Paper.  139 Wood Flooring Initiation Letter Coated paper sec 129 inititation letter

As mentioned, in my past post, the WTO faulted the US in its determinations that all state-owned companies, in fact, are the Chinese government and in the Commerce Department’s use of unreasonable all facts available decisions in countervailing duty cases against China.

The WTO Appellate Body also found the US violating the WTO CVD Agreement, the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures (ASCM), for failing to use Chinese benchmark prices to calculate whether there is a benefit in its countervailing duty (CVD) investigations. Specifically, at issue was the Commerce Department practice of refusing to accept private or in-country prices in China as a benchmark to calculate the benefit the Chinese subsidy is providing the Chinese exporter/producer. Commerce had determined that all in-country China prices were distorted by Chinese government intervention and used a presumption. The WTO determined that Commerce must make a case by case investigation and cannot use a presumption.

The first issue faulted by the panel relates to how Commerce determines whether a state-owned enterprise (SOE) is a public body capable of bestowing subsidies within the meaning of the CVD agreement. The U.S. already lost on this issue in an earlier WTO case brought by China. Specifically the WTO Appellate body found a violation of the WTO CVD agreement when the Commerce Department determined that state-owned enterprises are a public body capable of providing subsidies simply because it is government controlled. The Appellate Body determined that the U.S. instead has to demonstrate that the SOE is performing a “government function” or has “government authority.”

The panel also faulted the U.S. for initiating the investigations based solely on the existence of export restraints in two CVD proceedings, and for not considering the appropriate factors in determining whether a subsidy was de facto specific in 12 CVD proceedings.

Commerce is complying with the WTO decision by initiating “Section 129” proceedings, in which Commerce would review the CVD determinations and perhaps alter the margins in order to take into account the Appellate Body findings. But Commerce will probably follow past procedures and simply change its decisions slightly to accommodate the WTO decision.

It should be noted that the Commerce Department’s approach to WTO decisions is mirrored by the Chinese government’s approach to WTO decisions. Many US Senators and Congressmen are very upset about the Chinese government’s reaction to the adverse WTO antidumping determination against the Chinese government’s antidumping determination on Chicken from the United States. In reality, China is simply following the Commerce Department’s approach in these cases. Never give in and just make small changes to policy in response to WTO decisions.

All WTO law is based on reciprocity and what goes around does indeed come around.

UNITED STATES RESPONDS WITH OWN WTO SUBSIDIES CASE AGAINST CHINA

On February 11, 2015, the United States responded with its own WTO complaint against Chinese export subsidies. USTR Michael Froman announced that a new WTO complaint has been filed in the WTO against Chinese export subsidy program, which has supplied export $1 billion in export subsidies to industries ranging from agriculture to medical devices. Specifically targeted is China’s “Demonstration Bases-Common Service Platform” export subsidy regime, under which the Chinese government allegedly Supplies free and discounted services to 179 so-called demonstration bases across seven industries. Those sectors are textiles and apparel, advanced materials and metals, light industry, specialty chemicals, medical devices, hardware and building materials and agriculture.

TRADE POLITICS AND TRADE AGREEMENTS

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

TPA MOVES FORWARD QUICKLY WITH CHANGES ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On July 17, 2014 all Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent a letter to USTR Froman, which is posted on my blog, urging the Administration to build support for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and directing the Administration not to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before TPA is enacted into law.

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

Now the story continues . . . .

On January 8, 2015, Republican leaders in the Senate and the House began to build the case for Trade Promotion Authority. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, stated that talks have been underway for some time and that the trade area is a critical area in which the Republican majority and President Obama can find common ground.

As McConnell stated,

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

Neither McConnell nor Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, however, could offer a specific timetable for the legislation to be introduced as members are still working on the details. McConnell went on to state,

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

The President has increased his push for TPA renewal and McConnell stated he was happy that the president had become a “born-again free trader,” but stressed that Obama would have to deal with resistance from Democratic trade opponents if he is to be taken seriously in his decision to reinstate TPA. As McConnell further stated:

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

On January 12, 2015, USTR responded to criticism that the negotiations have been too secret by stating the White House has taken “unprecedented” steps to promote transparency. The USTR released a fact sheet that detailed efforts it said the administration has made to encourage public conversation and to cooperate with the newly Republican-controlled Congress to pass the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The USTR stated,

“We are always looking for new ways to engage the public and to seek views that will help inform and guide our trade policy, and enhancing transparency will remain a priority, consistent with the ability to deliver on our ultimate mission, which is to deliver agreements that achieve the maximum possible benefit for the American people. That’s our focus.”

The USTR maintained that it will release the full text of the TPP “well before” it is signed in order to invite further comment.

The fact sheet said the White House has provided the current negotiating texts to any interested members of Congress and has held more than 1,600 congressional briefings on the TPP alone. The USTR also said Congress has been informed “every step of the way,” and that Congressional committees have been able to preview every proposal before they’re brought to the negotiating table.

On January 13, 2015 several small government conservative organizations, including Americans for Limited Government and Tea Party Patriots, in an open letter to Congress argued that Congress should refuse to give President Obama the authority to submit trade agreements for votes on an expedited track, because such a process was against good government.

As the letter stated,

“President Obama has seized power time and again, and Congress has effectively thrown up its hands in despair. Denying him Fast Track Authority sends a clear message that enough is enough. It tells this President that Congress will stand up for itself as a co-equal branch of government and engage in a thorough and complete examination of any agreements that he signs.”

“In light of this President’s disregard for Congressional prerogatives, it would be inexcusable for Congress to provide this President with any additional power. Given the fact that the TPP has largely been negotiated in secret with only the administration’s multinational stakeholder partners involved, it is Congress’ duty to examine every jot and note to ensure that American interests are protected.”

On January 20, 2015, in a speech to the US Chamber of Commerce, Senator Orrin Hatch, new Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, stated that he would move “carefully but quickly” to introduce a bill that will reinstate the process for swiftly approving trade agreements, calling on the White House to engage with lawmakers in order to facilitate its ambitious trade agenda. Senator Hatch said that he is continuing his effort to work on the bill in close coordination with the ranking Democratic member of the Senate Finance Committee, Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis. As Senator Hatch stated:

“My plan … is to move carefully but quickly to introduce and mark up a TPA bill. I’m currently working with Ranking Member Wyden and Chairman Ryan to see if there are improvements that might be made to TPA so that we can introduce a bipartisan, bicameral bill in this Congress that we can move in short order.”

But Senator Hatch went on to state:

“If President Obama can be more forward-leaning with members of his party — starting with tonight’s State of the Union address — I believe we can get this done quickly. That is what I am committed to do.”

Following his statement, on the night of January 20th, in the only part of the State of the Union address in which Republican lawmakers clapped and Democrats were silent, President Obama pushed for passage of Trade Promotion Authority stating:

“We should level the playing field. That’s why I’m asking both parties to give me trade promotion authority to protect American workers with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free but are also fair. It’s the right thing to do.”

“I’m the first one to admit that past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype, and that’s why we’ve gone after countries that break the rules at our expense. But 95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders, and we can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities.”

In response, several Democratic members in Congress vowed to fight the Trade Agreements. Representative Rosa DeLauro, a Connecticut Democrat, stating, “It surrenders the Congressional authority that we may need to protect American workers and American consumers.” Representative Louise Slaughter, a New York Democrat, stated “We are going to fight this tooth and nail, and I believe we are going to win.”

But Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland, the No. 2 Democrat in the House, stated prior to the State of the Union that fast track “can pass” in the House. He also praised prior trade deals as “good for our country and our workers.”

Even before the State of the Union had finished, opponents began issuing statements that night. The Communications Workers of America said it supports many of Obama’s initiatives but wouldn’t stand with him “to send more U.S. jobs offshore.” AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka agreed with Obama’s initiatives on taxes and wages, but added “our opposition to fast-track trade deals that are giant giveaways to big corporations must be resolute” and do not tackle so-called 21st-century trade problems, such as foreign currency manipulation.

The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council and 42 other environmental came out against fast-track approval process in a letter sent out to Congress stating that lawmakers and the general public should have a more active role in the negotiations:

“U.S. involvement in trade negotiations should be guided by democracy, transparency, political accountability and must lead to a ‘race to the top’ that provides real protections for communities, workers and the environment. A new model of trade that delivers benefits for most Americans, promotes broadly shared prosperity, and safeguards the environment and public health is possible.”

Both Representative Paul Ryan and Senator Orrin Hatch, however, welcomed Obama’s decision to push TPA, with Hatch putting the burden squarely on the President’s Democrats to ensure the process moves smoothly, stating,

“Democrats in Congress can now either work with the President and Republicans to pass TPA and empower our country to compete, or they can throw up more roadblocks and cast uncertainty on our country’s trade agenda.”

On January 23, 2015, Sander Levin, ranking Democratic Congressman on the House Ways and Means Committee, took aim at Japan in the TPP, stating:

“Japan imports one American car for every 100 Japanese cars imported into the United States each year. The TPP agreement should eliminate tariffs and other charges by a date certain on virtually all products exported by the United States that decrease market opportunities for United States exports.”

On January 27, 2015, the House Ways and Means Committee held a full hearing on US Trade Policy with testimony by USTR Michael Froman. In his Opening Statement, which will be attached to my blog, Ways and Means Chairman Republican Paul Ryan stated in part:

“Expanding American trade is going to be one of our top priorities this year. And the reason why is pretty simple. Ninety-five percent of the world’s customers live outside the United States. I can think of few better ways to grow our economy than to grow our customer base. I believe Americans can compete with anybody, if given a fair chance. That’s why we have to break down barriers to our exports by completing trade agreements.

“Right now, there are several trade deals in the works—all of them very promising. We’re negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership with our friends in Asia, the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership with our friends in Europe, the Trade in Services Agreement with countries around the world, and several agreements through the World Trade Organization.

“And if done well, all of them would help create jobs and expand opportunity. And all of them would help shape the kind of economy we leave for our kids.

The fact is, if we don’t write the rules of the global economy, other countries will. They already are. Other countries, like China, are putting in place new trade agreements among themselves. So it’s a simple as this: If we’re not moving forward, we’re falling behind.

“And look at the record. If you add up all the countries that don’t have agreements with us, we run a manufacturing trade deficit. And if you add up all the countries that do have agreements with us, we run a surplus.

“So I think it’s pretty clear: Trade—and trade agreements—are good for our country. We need more of both. And the first thing we need to do to get there is pass trade promotion authority.

“Here’s the issue: When the United States sits down at the negotiating table, everybody at that table has to trust us. They have to know the deal the administration wants is the deal Congress wants—because if our trading partners don’t trust the administration—if they think it will make commitments that Congress will undo later—they won’t make concessions. Why run the risk for no reason?

“On the other hand, once our trading partners know we’re trustworthy—once they can see we’re negotiating in good faith—they’ll be more willing to make concessions. That’s why we have to pass this bill before negotiations are complete.

To get the best deal possible, we have to be in the best position possible. We can’t be negotiating with ourselves. We have to maintain a united front.

“Now, I’m not saying to maximize our leverage we have to maximize the administration’s power. I’d no sooner trust this administration with more power than I’d trust the Patriots with the footballs at Lambeau. What I’m saying is this bill would maximize Congress’s power.

“Let me explain. Nothing stops a president from negotiating a deal without instructions from Congress. So, if we waited till after the negotiations are done to make our views known—if we simply reacted to what the administration put in front of us—we might scuttle the whole deal. That means we have to get involved before the deal is done, not after it’s finished. We have to be proactive, not reactive.

“That’s what TPA does. We call this process ‘trade promotion authority.’ But I think of it more as a contract. We say to the administration, if you want this up-or-down vote, you have to meet three requirements: Number one, you have to listen to us. Number two, you have to talk to us. And number three, you have to remember: we get the final say

“First, TPA lays out all our negotiating objectives for our trade deals. In short, we tell the administration what targets to hit. It’s got to do things like eliminate barriers to our exports, protect our intellectual property, and eliminate unnecessary regulatory barriers in other countries.

“Second, TPA requires the administration to consult with Congress. Any member can meet with our trade representative’s office at any time. Any member can read the text. Any member can attend the negotiations. It’s like a TPA hotline.

“And third, just to avoid any confusion, we put it right in the bill text: Congress gets the final say. If a trade deal requires any changes in our laws, Congress must approve them.

And if the administration violates any of these requirements, we can say, ‘No deal.’ If it doesn’t cooperate, it doesn’t get the up-or-down vote.

“We simply can’t get the best deals without TPA, and that’s why we’ve got to pass it as soon as possible.

“So TPA is front and center, but there are several other measures we must take to help the economy. . . .

“Finally, Congressman Brady has done solid work on the Customs Trade Facilitation and Enforcement Act. The bill would help streamline our customs procedures and enforce our trade laws. And Congressman Boustany has tackled the problem of trade remedy evasion in a creative and effective way. We’ve got to get this legislation across the finish line. . . .

At the January 27th hearing, in a statement, which will be attached to my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, USTR Michael Froman stated in part:

The Obama Administration’s economic agenda of creating jobs, promoting growth, and strengthening America’s middle class is supported by the work we do at USTR: opening markets and leveling the playing field to ensure that American workers, farmers, ranchers; manufacturers and service providers; innovators, creators, investors and businesses – both large and small – can compete in the world’s fastest growing markets.

Building on Record Breaking U.S. Exports

In 2014, USTR built on record-breaking exports, market opening initiatives, intensive engagement, and trade enforcement to achieve strong results for America’s economy. The data is compelling: Unemployment has dipped to 5.6 percent and we are creating more than 200,000 jobs per month. Those jobs include a gain of 786,000 new manufacturing jobs over the last five years. Manufacturing exports have grown by 9 percent a year on average. Our total exports have grown by nearly 50 percent and contributed nearly one-third of our economic growth since the second quarter of 2009. In 2013, the most recent year on record, American exports reached a record high of $2.3 trillion and supported a record-breaking 11.3 million jobs.

It’s clear, more exports means more good jobs and more jobs are dependent upon exports than ever before. That’s why we’ve worked hard to open more markets to Made-In-America goods and services, agricultural products, innovation, and investment. In the last four years, the increase in U.S. exports has supported 1.6 million more good jobs, which typically pay 13-18 percent more on average than jobs not related to exports.

Done right, trade policy unlocks opportunities for Americans. Done right, trade policy promotes not only our interests, but also our values. And it gives us the tools to make sure others play by the same rules as we do. The United States is an open economy and our borders are already open to trade. But other countries still erect real barriers to our exports. . . .

But we know that the status quo is not an option to compete in the global economy. And we know that our workers are competing against workers in countries that lack even the most basic labor rights. Our businesses are competing against companies that get subsidies from their governments or that don’t have to maintain any environmental standards. If we sit on the sidelines, we will be faced with a race to the bottom in global trade instead of continuing to promote a race to the top. That’s not how we want to compete. As the President said last week, we should be the ones to engage and lead. We want to take the field, establish the rules of the game that reflect our interests and our values, and do so with all the tools we need to win.

Our trade agreements will support American jobs by boosting Made in America exports from our businesses, farms, and factories. In fact, for every $1 billion we export, between 5,400 and 5,900 jobs are supported here at home. By opening rapidly expanding markets with millions of new middle-class consumers in parts of the globe like the Asia-Pacific, our trade agreements will help our businesses and workers access overseas markets, where 95 percent of the world’s consumers and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power reside. Combined with our supply of energy, highly skilled work force, and culture of innovation, our trade agreements will help once again make America the global production platform of choice. . . .

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) . . . .

In 2014, we significantly advanced negotiation of the TPP, a state-of-the-art trade agreement that will guarantee expanded U.S. access to the rapidly growing economies in the Asia Pacific. Together with the 11 other TPP countries, we have made important progress in the market access negotiations for agricultural products, industrial goods, services and investment, and government procurement. We have also made substantial progress on ambitious, high-standard trade rules that will promote U.S. commercial interests and values in the region, in such areas as intellectual property, digital trade, competition with State-owned enterprises, and labor and environmental protections. The Peterson Institute for International Economics estimates that TPP will add $123.5 billion to U.S. exports each year when it is fully implemented.

We continue to make progress in closing gaps related to autos, agriculture, and other market access issues in our bilateral negotiations with Japan. Japan agreed upfront to provide the longest staging of any TPP products for U.S. autos and truck tariffs, and we continue to work with Japan to address the long-standing barriers to American autos in the Japanese market. We will continue to closely consult with our auto workers and industry as the negotiations proceed in order to get the best deal possible for them. In agriculture, we continue to work hard to dismantle high tariffs, restrictive quotas, and complex administrative policies to create new opportunities for U.S. producers.

At the TPP Leaders meeting in November convened by President Obama, all 12 countries took note of the progress that has been made on TPP, and agreed that the end of the negotiation is now coming into focus. And the TPP countries reaffirmed their commitment to concluding a comprehensive, high-standard agreement, and to work toward finalizing the TPP agreement as soon as possible. . . .

Manufacturing

In 2013, the United States exported nearly $1.4 trillion in manufactured goods, which accounted for 87 percent of all U.S. goods exports and 61 percent of U.S. total exports. Here too, we expect that 2014 was a record year. In 2015, the Obama Administration will continue to pursue trade policies aimed at supporting the growth of manufacturing and associated high-quality jobs here at home and maintaining American manufacturers’ competitive edge. U.S. manufacturing is vital to our economy and the Obama Administration is committed to making sure that the United States is competitive in attracting businesses to locate here. This is why we support a dynamic manufacturing sector and research and development policies to support broad-based innovation and advanced manufacturing that will help U.S. workers and firms win the future. As American manufacturers increase their capacity to produce more advanced and value-added goods, consumers around the world continue to place a high value on Made-in-America products. Across our trade negotiations, we aim to create rules that ensure state-owned enterprises (SOEs) do not compete unfairly with private firms, and seek to ensure that rules of origin and global supply chain provisions create conditions for manufacturers to locate here in the United States.

Innovation, Intellectual Property, and the Digital Economy

America’s economic growth and competitiveness depend on its capacity to innovate. Our trade agreements, including TPP and T-TIP, promote strong and balanced IP protection and enforcement while opening markets for U.S. produced IP-intensive goods and services. . . .

We will continue to support a free and open Internet that encourages the flow of information across the digital world. We know that the impact of digital trade is enormous, and thus that a supportive trade framework is critical for its continued expansion. Therefore, among the other twenty-first century issues we are addressing, we are modernizing our trade agenda to promote growth in the digital economy in particular. We will continue to work closely with Congress and all our stakeholders on a wide range of trade issues related to the protection and enforcement of copyrights, trademarks, patents, trade secrets, and other forms of IP. We will also work to push back against efforts by our trading partners to improperly use geographical indications to limit the ability of our farmers and exporters to use common food names and trademarks for their products.

The theft of U.S. intellectual property puts American jobs at risk and generates counterfeit products that can pose a threat to the health and safety of consumers around the world. We utilize our annual “Special 301” Report to identify and resolve IP concerns with many trading partners. . . .

Enforcement Tools Utilized to Protect U.S. Trade Rights Around the World

As we work to open markets around the world, we are simultaneously working to hold our trading partners accountable for their commitments under existing agreements so that American workers, businesses, farmers and ranchers get the full benefit of all the economic opportunities the United States has negotiated over the years. From day one, the Obama Administration has shown an unwavering commitment to enforce our trade rights around the world. Within existing resources, we have undertaken a bold and ambitious trade enforcement agenda reflected in the scale, scope, and systemic importance of our disputes. And for every part of our economy, USTR is fighting on their behalf – from American auto workers to farmers to high-tech manufacturers that need rare earth metals to American service providers.

WTO Enforcement

USTR is building upon significant WTO victories for the United States as we move forward with a robust monitoring and enforcement agenda in 2015. We continue to build on our strong success with major victories in several WTO disputes. In June, the WTO found that China had breached WTO rules by imposing on American cars and SUVs unjustified extra duties, which were assessed on over $5 billion of U.S. auto exports in 2013. In August, the WTO found that China again breached WTO rules by imposing duties and quotas on exports of rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum, which discriminate against U.S. manufacturers of hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy-efficient lighting, steel, advanced electronics, automobiles, and more. . . .

For the 18 WTO complaints filed since 2009, every single case that has been decided has resulted in a win for the United States. And when you consider those victories I just mentioned – the range of trading partners, the types of trade barriers, and value and diversity of exports involved – the power of robust trade enforcement becomes clear. We’re absolutely committed to ensuring American workers get all the benefits of U.S. trade agreements because we’ve seen that trade, done right, supports high-quality, middle class American jobs.

Enforcement of U.S. Free Trade Agreements

The Administration also continued to vigorously monitor our FTA partners’ implementation of their obligations under Congressionally-approved FTAs. . . .

<Deepening our Trade and Investment Partnerships Around the World

The Administration continues to work to deepen our trade relationships around the world. This includes engagement with China, India, Burma, Sub-Saharan Africa and other regions to address concerns with our bilateral trading partners.

China

On China, the Administration made progress on a wide range of issues, including protection and enforcement of trade secrets and other intellectual property rights, as well as SOEs, investment, services, global drug supply chain integrity, and transparency at the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in July. These engagements yielded concrete changes which support jobs and exports from the United States. We also made significant progress on key issues like transparency and a level playing field in competition law enforcement, agricultural biotechnology, the protection and enforcement of trade secrets, and technology localization at the 25th Joint Commission on Commerce and Trade held in December. There was further progress in the pharmaceutical sector at the JCCT, where China agreed to streamline its approval processes for pharmaceutical and medical devices. We also intensified our negotiations toward a Bilateral Investment Treaty (BIT) with China and expect to initiate the critical “negative list” market access negotiations in early 2015. . . .

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)

Let me build upon the President’s remarks on trade at the State of the Union. As the President made clear last week, the Administration is committed to securing bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority. America has always been strongest when it speaks with one voice, and that’s exactly what Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, helps us do. TPA puts Congress in the driver’s seat to define U.S. negotiating objectives and priorities for trade agreements. It clarifies and strengthens public and Congressional oversight by requiring consultations and transparency throughout the negotiating process. It makes clear to our trading partners that the Administration and Congress are on the same page negotiating high standards in our trade agreements. There is no other area of policy that reflects closer coordination between the Executive branch and Congress than trade policy. And in return, I can promise you that we’ll continue working hard to strike balanced agreements that benefit our workers, employers, our environment and the economy at large. . . .

The Administration looks forward to continue working with this Committee and the new Congress as a whole to secure TPA that has bipartisan support. We also look forward to renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which helps provide American workers with the skills to compete in the 21st century. . . .

Promoting Increased Engagement and Transparency in Negotiations

As we work to open markets to support more American jobs, an important part of that work is keeping the public, Congress, and a diverse array of stakeholders engaged and informed. We believe that public participation, Congressional input, and an open national debate enhance trade policy. And to ensure these agreements are balanced, we seek a diversity of voices in America’s trade policy.

The Administration has taken unprecedented steps to increase transparency. Those steps have resulted in more public dialogue and outreach on trade agreements like TPP and T-TIP than on any other free trade agreements in history. This includes the more than 1,600 consultations we’ve had on TPP alone. We have provided access to the current negotiating texts of both agreements to Members of Congress. We have previewed every new U.S. proposal with the Committees of jurisdiction before tabling them in both negotiations. And we have briefed interested Members of Congress before and after every negotiating round—seeking feedback at every stage of the game.

The Administration has also engaged with the public around its trade agenda in new ways. We have held public hearings soliciting the public’s input on the negotiations and suspended negotiating rounds to host first-of-a-kind stakeholder events so that the public can provide our negotiators with direct feedback on the negotiations. We have also shared information on the current status of the negotiations through an array of tools on our website.

We are always looking for new ways to engage the public and welcome input, including from your committee, which will help inform and guide our trade policy. Enhancing transparency will remain a priority, consistent with the ability to deliver on our ultimate mission, which is to deliver agreements that achieve the maximum possible benefit for the American people.

Conclusion

The Obama Administration’s trade agenda is focused on expanding opportunities to export more Made-in-America products, support jobs at home, and create economic growth by opening overseas markets and leveling the playing field for American workers, farmers, and businesses. In doing so, we will continue to advocate for strong, enforceable rules that promote core U.S. values and interests, including protection of U.S. creativity and innovation, access to medicines, fundamental labor rights, and robust environmental commitments. We can only accomplish these shared goals and priorities through strong bipartisan cooperation between Congress and the Administration. We look forward to working with you to ensure our trade policy creates opportunities for all Americans. . . .

In response to USTR Froman’s comments, the Democrats reacted. With regard to transparency, Ranking Democratic Congressman Levin welcomed the attempts to open up the talks for Congressional input, saying more must be done on that front. Democratic Rep. Lloyd Doggett, D-Texas echoed this point arguing that even though members of Congress are allowed to view trade negotiating texts, they are not allowed to take notes or share the documents with certain members of their staff.

As Congressman Doggett stated,

“There is a big difference between quantity and quality on transparency. That is not practicing transparency — it’s practicing secrecy. I can’t find a legal basis for that type of restrictive environment, and I would just urge you to take immediate steps to change it.”

On the same day January 27, 2015, after the Ways and Means hearing USTR Froman spoke to the Senate Finance Committee stating that the TPP talks are coming to completion, but would offer no time table. To see the hearing, follow the following link http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=5ef11836-5056-a032-5292-dc24774c7fe1.

To make the video work, slide the bar to minute 16 when the hearing begins.

In his opening statement, which will be attached to my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, stated in part:

Thank you Ambassador Froman, for being here today. I have to say that the trade agenda is looking up since the last time you testified.

Things seem to be improving with our ongoing trade negotiations. For example, while significant gaps remain, the administration seems to be inching ever closer toward a conclusion of a Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.

Morale at the Office of the United States Trade Representative, after a long period of decline, is beginning to rise. Of course, there is still a lot to be done. And, renewal of Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, is at the top of my list. But, even in that regard, things seem to be looking up.

Compared with this time last year, the administration is much more engaged at all levels in making the case for renewal of TPA. President Obama’s strong call for TPA in the State of the Union was welcome, though, in my opinion, it was long overdue. I hope that he’ll follow his latest call to action with a real concerted effort to help us get TPA through Congress.

Here in the Finance Committee, we’re doing all we can to help in this effort.

Although the bill I introduced last year with Chairmen Camp and Baucus received broad support, I am currently working with Senator Wyden to see if there is a way to address some additional issues he has raised. We’re working with Chairman Ryan as well.

While there may be some improvements we can make to the bill, I want to make one thing clear: The time for TPA is now.

TPA is how Congress tells the administration and our negotiating partners what a trade agreement must contain to be successfully enacted into law. And, TPA empowers our negotiators to get the best deal possible for American workers.

To succeed in getting TPA renewed, we will need an all-out effort by the administration to make the case for why TPA is so vital to our nation’s ability to fairly engage in international trade and to enhance the health of our economy.

Simply put, trade means jobs. Today 95 percent of the world’s consumers live outside the United States. These potential customers account for 92 percent of global economic growth and 80 percent of the world’s purchasing power. To maintain a healthy economy, we need the opportunity to sell American products in those markets.

Right now, the United States is engaged in some of the most ambitious trade negotiations in our nation’s history. The first, which I already mentioned, is the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP.

Renewal of TPA is key to the success of this agreement. Without TPA, the administration will not be able bring back the high-standard agreement Congress needs to ensure its enactment.

Let me be clear here: It would be a grave mistake for the administration to close TPP before Congress enacts TPA. Doing so may lead to doubt as to whether the U.S. could have gotten a better agreement, ultimately eroding support for TPP and jeopardizing its prospects for passage in Congress.

There are also some key outstanding issues that need to be resolved in TPP. As I have stated in the past, my support for TPA by no means ensures that I will support just any version of TPP that happens to be submitted to Congress for approval.

For me, the agreement must achieve a very high standard for the protection of intellectual property, including twelve years of data protection for biologics, and strong copyright and trademark protections. The intellectual property provisions of TPP must also effectively address the theft of trade secrets and ensure effective implementation and enforcement of IP obligations. Provisions to enhance digital trade and address state-owned enterprises are also critical, as is real market access for U.S. exports. …

Ambassador Froman, all of this represents a very ambitious agenda for your office and for the administration as a whole. But, if I haven’t been clear up to now, let me restate: TPA must be considered an essential element for all of these endeavors.

I believe Congressional renewal of TPA will unleash new energy in our international trade agenda, helping to propel our economy to greater growth and prosperity. History shows that trade agreements concluded with TPA in place create new economic opportunities and higher-paying American jobs.

This year we truly are at the precipice of opportunity. The only question is whether both parties in Congress and the Administration can work together to put in place the necessary tools to seize this opportunity. I certainly think we can, and I will do everything in my power as Chairman of this committee to ensure our mutual success.

In his opening statement, Ranking Democratic Member of the Senate Finance Committee Senator Wyden of Oregon stated,

My bottom line on how the U.S. can improve its trade policy is this:

Today’s global economy moves at a million miles an hour, so clinging to yesterday’s outdated trade policies is a loser for the millions of middle-class American workers counting on political leadership to help create more high-skill, high-wage, middle-class jobs.

Trade agreements need to bulldoze barriers and open new markets to exports made by America’s middle class – the things we grow or raise, build or forge. Done right, trade agreements can help grow the paychecks of middle-class families. That will help take our economic recovery from a walk to a sprint.

According to a report by the Commerce Department’s International Trade Administration, many export-driven jobs – from precision welding to engineering design – offer higher pay and more generous benefits than jobs that aren’t tied to exports. Workers who design and build products like machinery, electrical gear or transportation equipment get into the winners’ circle when the goods they make are exported. The goal of trade agreements should be to take the fruits of American labor and ship them to markets around the world.

With that said, it’s easy to understand why many American workers are frustrated when they haven’t gotten a meaningful raise in decades – or worse, they’ve lost jobs and fallen out of the middle class. When discouraged Americans argue that they’ve been hurt by trade, their voices should not be ignored. They must be heard. Those who favor a trade agenda that takes on the challenges of a hyper-competitive global economy have a responsibility to make the case that it will work for America’s middle class.

I bring that up because the President said during the State of the Union address that, “…past trade deals haven’t always lived up to the hype.”

So, Ambassador Froman, I’d like you to outline today how the administration plans to change that with fresh trade policies that will lift wages, help create middle-class jobs, and expand the winner’s circle.

I hope to discuss what safeguards will be in place to ensure that any workers impacted by trade have access to retraining, health coverage, and other sources of support that connect them with new opportunities. And perhaps most importantly, I hope to hear how the administration will make the case to America’s workers that these modern policies will deliver for them.

To keep my remarks brief, there are a few specific issue I’ll address.

The first is tough enforcement. There has never been a greater need for the U.S. to back its workers and businesses by strongly enforcing our trade laws and agreements. And in the face of unfair schemes by foreign governments and companies that undercut American jobs and exports, trade enforcement works.

Just ask any one of the hundreds of Oregonians who work at SolarWorld, a solar-panel manufacturer in my home state. When Chinese companies made an end-run around our trade laws that threatened SolarWorld and its employees, SolarWorld fought back and won. That victory preserved 900 good Oregon jobs. And American trade enforcers have to keep at it, because China and other governments won’t stop trying to get around the rules anytime soon.

With 21st century trade agreements, tough enforcement also needs to hold foreign governments accountable for commitments to uphold strong labor rights and environmental protections. Those are bedrock elements of trade agreements, and they are not to be ignored or pushed to the periphery.

The second issue to address is technology. Just as containers changed trade in the 20th century, the Internet is changing trade in the 21st, enabling more efficient ways to exchange goods and services internationally. . . . The nation’s trade policies must take advantage of economic areas where there is clearly “Advantage USA.” That means promoting and protecting a free and open Internet — keeping open what is, in effect, the shipping lane of the 21st century.

The third issue to address today is transparency. The American people have made it very clear that they will not accept secretly-written agreements that don’t see the light of day until the very last minute. That was too often the way things worked in the past, but that’s not good enough anymore. Nor is it enough to respond to important questions with the same inadequate refrain: that Americans will benefit from trade deals. People have the right to know what’s at stake in negotiations before they wrap up. Our trade policies are stronger when the American people are part of the debate – and when their elected representatives in Congress are able to conduct effective oversight.

Furthermore, transparency is also critical for a trade promotion authority bill. Once a bill is ready, it must be available to the public. And there must be a fair and open process for its review and consideration. I will work with Chairman Hatch to develop a process along these lines.

No matter where members of this committee stand, I know everyone here is ready to have a serious debate on how to make trade policy work best. My focus will be on finding new opportunities to sell red, white and blue American goods overseas, helping businesses create jobs, and growing the paychecks for middle-class families. I’m eager to find ways for this committee to work on a bipartisan basis with the administration to accomplish those goals.

USTR Froman repeated his remarks before the House Ways and Means Committee earlier that day. Froman further stated that “the contours of a final agreement are coming into focus” and vowed to correct the failures of past trade deals in areas such as labor, environment and state-owned enterprise rules. Froman pledged to be as open as possible stating:

“As we move ahead, we’re committed to providing maximum transparency consistent with our ability to negotiate the best agreements possible. We look forward to working with this committee and others in Congress to determine the best way to achieve that goal.”

Froman added that his office expects to make the text of the TPP public after it is signed and before it goes to Capitol Hill for a vote but cautioned that the U.S. was consulting with other parties in the agreement on possible areas of sensitivity.

Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. argued against TPP because of currency manipulation:

“I can’t support a TPP agreement if we do not at the same time enact new statutory law that includes objective criteria to define and enforce against currency manipulation. I will not support moving this trade agreement forward if we’re not fighting to make sure we have the necessary tools to protect the American middle class and American jobs.”

During the question and answer, Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) stated that the administration needs to step up its arguments to Democrats, in particular, to get TPA cleared by the Senate stating, in part,

“[I] if we are going to get trade promotion authority passed, [the president is] going to have to work the telephones one-on-one with some senators to get us to the 60-vote threshold,” to avoid a filibuster.

With regard to currency manipulation, Froman stated that “Currency is a great concern to us,” but went on to state that the Treasury Department takes the lead on the issue. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said she was not seeing any indication that currency issues would addressed in TPA or TPP, commenting that this was a serious problem.

Stabenow also questioned Froman on a press report asserting that the U.S. was dropping a request to lower standards on auto imports to Japan in exchange for Japan agreeing to more rice imports from the U.S. Characterizing the report as “categorically wrong,” Froman said both auto and agriculture negotiations with Japan were continuing “on parallel tracks.”

Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) stated that Canada’s dairy market was not sufficiently opened as part of the North American Free Trade Agreement and many of the tariff rates on dairy products range from 200 percent to 295 percent. Canada’s dairy policies are a priority, Froman said. The U.S. is engaged with Canada on a whole range of outstanding issues, “and they know that this is very important to us, and we’re working towards hopefully a successful conclusion there.”

After the hearings on Capitol Hill, on January 27th, US Pork producers came out in support of Trade Promotion Authority. In a mass letter to members of Congress, the National Pork Producers Council said that TPA is vital to their industry stating,

“Significant progress has been made with respect to Japan’s market access offer on pork, thanks to the hard work of U.S. trade officials and the strong support of the U.S. Congress.”

The pork producers said that since the passage of the U.S.-Canada free trade agreement in 1989, their exports increased 1,550 percent in value — and they credited TPA for enabling such a boost.

On January 28th at closed door remarks at the House Democratic retreat, President Obama strongly hinted that there would be no currency manipulation language in the TPP according to Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-CT). President Obama stated that there would be no currency chapter, stating that this issue was under the Treasury Department’s authority.

Obama’s opening remarks to the caucus did not mention trade, but during a question-and-answer session, Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) asked Obama how to make the case for trade agreements to skeptical constituents. Kilmer’s question was the first one the president took.

In response, the President largely reiterated the arguments he has previously made in favor of trade agreements, including that the U.S. needs to sets the rules for trade or China will do so. Sources stated that he did not explicitly mention Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or urge House Democrats to support it.

The president said he recognized that previous trade deals were “not perfect,” and conceded that no new trade agreement will fix all of the real challenges that arise from globalization and past trade agreements, according to a source who attended the session. It was in this context that Obama raised currency manipulation as one challenge that cannot be fixed through TPP, another source said.

On January 29th, the House Ways and Means Committee sent out the following e-mail, which will be attached to my blog, stating in part that newspapers around the Country are calling on Congress to enact TPA.

WAYS AND MEANS JANUARY 29, 2015 . . . .

As Republicans and Democrats work to put in place bipartisan trade promotion authority, editorial boards from coast to coast are rallying behind the effort. Trade Promotion Authority—or TPA—empowers Congress to set the negotiating objectives when pursing trade agreements with other countries and helps the United States get the best deal possible. Here’s a sampling of what newspapers have had to say about TPA:

Wisconsin State Journal: Congress needs to pass trade promotion authority’

“Free-trade zones across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans would lower tariffs and smooth commerce for all while encouraging higher environmental and labor standards. Past trade agreements ‘haven’t always lived up to the hype,’ Obama acknowledged. But ‘95 percent of the world’s customers live outside our borders.

We can’t close ourselves off from those opportunities.’ No, we can’t — especially in a top manufacturing and dairy state such as Wisconsin, where research and technology are strong.”

San Francisco Chronicle: ‘California will be a winner if Congress blesses a Pacific trade treaty’

“Global trade is an enormous chunk of California’s present and future. It needs to be nurtured, improved and given rules and treaty agreements to protect this thriving financial lifeline.”

The Seattle Times: ‘Congress should enact trade-promotion authority’

“Congress must not delay in approving TPA. [It] would have substantial and lasting effects on the state’s and nation’s economies.”

Washington Post: ‘The Trans-Pacific Partnership can help the U.S. counter China’s expansion’

“Both economically and geopolitically, the Trans-Pacific Partnership would perpetuate the United States’ stabilizing role in Asia; it is one of the Obama administration’s brightest ideas. All that’s left now is for both the president and Republican leaders in Congress to keep their promises and make it happen.”

Houston Chronicle: ‘Expansion of international trade agreements would mean a whole lot of good for the U.S.’

“President Obama and the new Republican majorities in the House and Senate can demonstrate that they are capable of agreement on important issues that will result in good jobs and more exports for farmers and the manufacturing, service and tech sectors.”

Minneapolis Star Tribune: ‘More trade means more Minnesota jobs’

“Rising exports mean more jobs. Minnesota has the natural and human resources to compete at the highest global level, meaning that state workers can benefit from expanded free trade.”

Chicago Tribune: ‘TPA is essential for overcoming the inevitable fight against vested interests’

“TPA empowers Congress to establish negotiating objectives, and enhances its ability to set priorities. The U.S. is legally bound to a trade agreement only if Congress votes to approve it. TPA, which has been essential to reaching trade deals since the 1930s, has proven to be fully consistent with the Constitution and supportive of U.S. sovereignty.”

On January 30, 2015, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch stated that the new legislation reviving the administration’s trade negotiating authority will closely resemble a bill he introduced last year, touting the need for strict rules on intellectual property, currency manipulation, and other areas. Senator Hatch declared the U.S. trade agenda to be “at the precipice of opportunity.” Hatch further stated,

“The U.S. needs to lead on trade. We need to establish rules that hold other nations accountable for their unfair trade practices. And we need to tear down barriers that block our goods from foreign markets. We can only do that if we renew TPA and do so soon.”

Hatch declined to give a hard and fast timeline for the bill, saying only that he was working with Finance Committee Ranking Member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., to settle certain differences and introduce the legislation “in short order.”

“We need to see commitments from our partners in ongoing trade negotiations to avoid manipulating exchange rates to gain an unfair competitive advantage over other parties to the agreement, a standard reflecting commitments parties have made in the International Monetary Fund. It is essential that Congress know how the administration intends to address his problem in ongoing negotiations.”

On February 3, 2015, USTR Froman pushed state-level agricultural officials stating that their support will be critical to ensure swift movement of the White House’s robust trade agenda, touting the benefits of the administration’s two biggest negotiating efforts for U.S. food producers. Froman stated,

“We need you to remind farmers and ranchers in your states that trade agreements are how we can level the playing field for our workers, farmers, and businesses and protect America’s competitiveness for the next generation. We need you to remind them how important exports are to more good jobs here in the U.S.”

Froman again claimed that the shape of a final TPP deal is “coming into focus” and that the U.S. is looking to chip away at large tariffs on poultry, beef and pork in countries like Canada, Australia, Japan and Vietnam.

On February 5, 2015, at the Senate Finance Committee, Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew stated that the Obama administration is not prepared to insert a section into future trade agreements to stop currency manipulation, stating that such a confrontational move might undermine its ongoing efforts to tackle the issue diplomatically. Facing pressure from numerous members of the Senate Finance Committee, Lew said the administration had been successful in pushing back against currency manipulation in its bilateral engagements with countries like China, adding that punitive language in trade deals could stop that progress.

As Secretary Lew stated,

“I think the challenge in the context of a trade agreement is how to address the issue in a way that helps and doesn’t hurt. I would be concerned that the effectiveness we have dealing through the existing channel could be diminished in some ways, if some approaches were taken.”

“When we push back, there is a response where we’ve, I think, been quite successful pushing back on even the hint of interventions that have those characteristics in a time that we’ve been here.”

An odd situation is arising in the US Congress where liberal Democrats and Tea Party Republicans are working together to stop TPA. An alliance between Tea Party Republican Congressmen Louie Gohmert and Dana Rohrabacher, two of the more conservative members, and two strong liberal Democratic Congresswomen, Rosa DeLauro and Louise Slaughter is emerging. The Tea Party Republicans object to giving such trade negotiating authority to the President, and the liberal Democrats are objecting to the impact of any trade agreement on US jobs and labor unions.

Dana Rohrabacher, a Tea Party Republican, stated, “This president has tried to rule by dictate in a number of arenas. He’s issued executive orders in a way that is totally out of sync with what executive orders are supposed to be about. A lot of people think this president has been much more aggressive in centralizing power.”

Congresswoman Rosa DeLauro echoed the statement by the Tea Party Republican,

“We have trusted and trusted for years and years, and it’s only been to the detriment of American workers. Members of Congress are fed up with this. The trust factor, whether it’s Barack Obama or anyone else, is not there any longer.”

As the New York Times observed in a February 10, 2015 article,

The White House understands that trade promotion authority will be a tough sell with Democrats. Instead, the president’s strongest supporters include two men he has frequently battled: the House speaker, John A. Boehner of Ohio, and Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader.

The Times goes on to state:

But even as most liberal Democrats have become disenchanted with the trade agenda advocated by a variety of American business interests, it is the erosion of support in the rank-and-file right that has Mr. Obama sweating the most. In 2002, the last time Congress approved such authority, the House passed it by a bare majority, 215 to 212, with 190 Republicans carrying the load, and only 27 Democrats coming along for the ride.

That was for George W. Bush. This time, Mr. Boehner, prominent committee chairmen like Mr. Ryan and an alliance of business and agricultural groups are going to have to persuade dozens of conservatives to confer power on a president they say has seized too much authority already. Tea Party groups are already flexing their muscle with Republicans they helped elect, pressuring them to oppose anything that strengthens Mr. Obama’s hand and, they argue, weakens United States sovereignty over economic policy.

As the Times Article further states, although the Administration and the pro-trade Coalition stated that the have the numbers to pass trade promotion authority:

they have work to do. About 150 of the House’s 188 Democrats have already signed on to letters opposing fast track, an ominous figure for the president, since Mr. Boehner said last Congress he would need as many as 50 Democratic votes.

In 2013, 22 House Republicans signed on to their own opposition letter, of which 17 remain in Congress.

On February 12, 2015 the House Ways and Means Committee issued the following e-mail release on Currency Manipulation opposing the implementation of a bill to unilaterally hit countries on Currency Manipulation:

FEBRUARY 12, 2015

Currency Manipulation: Finding the Right Solution

There is great unease today about currency manipulation abroad—and rightfully so. Some countries—particularly China—have distorted exchange rates to gain an advantage in the world market, hurting American exports by making their goods cheaper and ours more expensive.

It’s a legitimate problem that deserves a real response. The United States holds the world’s reserve currency. We have a unique ability to pressure countries to stop the manipulation, and we must do more. That’s why Trade Promotion Authority legislation (TPA) raises fighting manipulation to a primary negotiating objective and provides the administration more tools to tackle the practice.

At the same time, some in Congress have called for a more confrontational approach.

Opposed by the administration and many in Congress, including Chairman Ryan, this counterproductive tactic would trigger higher tariffs on any country believed to be manipulating its currency, either through unilateral U.S. action or through a mechanism in trade agreements. While possibly appealing on its face, this approach presents significant problems. It could:

Lead to a tariff war that will increase barriers to trade and cost jobs;

If the United States begins unilaterally levying tariffs, our trading partners will no doubt do the same, leading to a dangerous cycle that would undermine the very purpose of trade agreements—to break down barriers—and, more importantly, hurt American competitiveness and jobs.

Capture the wrong culprit and put the U.S. at risk of manipulation charges;

There is no clear definition of currency manipulation or simple calculation for it, and trying to legislate such a complex matter poses the risk of triggering a trade war in response to innocent currency movements. At the same time, it would not be difficult for other nations to assert the U.S.’s monetary policy is intended to tilt the playing field.

<Risk putting the U.S. in violation of international obligations and out of WTO

compliance;

Pursuing a unilateral approach would likely cause the United States to be a target for retaliation by countries like China, harming our businesses and their employees.

Make the U.S. vulnerable to lawsuits and jeopardize our ability to set our own

monetary policy;

Even pursuing provisions in trade agreements that would allow us to increase tariffs on manipulators would expose us to litigation, whether justified or not, when countries challenge our monetary policy. And even if the United States ultimately prevails, litigation would distract from broader efforts to address currency manipulation and shield real currency manipulators.

Threaten the U.S. dollar’s standing as the world’s leading currency;

The United States has become the holder of the world’s reserve currency not by accident or by any law, but rather through strength and steadiness. And the status provides the U.S. immeasurable benefits. Maintaining stability and pursuing currency grievances through multinational forums are critical to protecting this valued position we hold in the world.

Derail the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its potential benefits to the U.S.;

Creating mechanisms to increase tariffs through trade agreements because of currency policy would no doubt cause nations with which we are currently negotiating a significant trade agreement to rethink whether the United States is a viable trading partner, causing them to pull out of these negotiations. Missing out on a good TPP agreement would be a critical blow to America’s credibility and an enormous missed opportunity to create good jobs.

And, for all the downside, it probably wouldn’t work.

With all the damage such an approach would do to the United States and our standing in the world, it provides no real incentive for bad actors to change behavior. What’s more, monetary and domestic fiscal policy have much greater impact on the value of a currency than would the type of market interventions targeted by this proposal.

So what is the right solution?

For starters, let’s put in place multinational rules that have proven to yield results. The G-7, G-20, and IMF efforts have had success in limiting attempts to manipulate currency and in some cases outright stopped market interventions. For example, as a result of commitments taken by the G-7, Japan has not intervened in foreign currency markets in an effort to lower the value of the yen in the last three years.

But we can—and must—do more. That’s why TPA legislation would make fighting currency manipulation a primary negotiating objective for all trade agreements. In addition, TPA provides the administration with tools such as “cooperative mechanisms, enforceable rules, reporting, monitoring, transparency, or other means, as appropriate” to address currency manipulation. It is incumbent upon the administration to continue pursuing efforts to rein in the practice, and Congress must continue to press for better results.

Finally, another important step we can take is put in place more trade agreements. A more interconnected global marketplace will have even less tolerance for manipulation. And as Chairman Ryan has said, “If we don’t write the rules of the global economy, somebody else will—somebody who may not have our best interests at heart. And if we don’t like the way the global economy works, then we have to get out there and change it.”

That’s why enacting trade legislation like TPA with a thoughtful approach toward currency manipulation is so critical. Currency manipulation is a legitimate threat, but our response must be one that advances, rather than undermines, our trade agenda and our economy.

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSITANCE PROGRAM—REAUTHORIZATION

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

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

Recently we have learned although President Obama preaches a good game, the Commerce Department has proposed reducing trade adjustment assistance for companies to $10 million. This very small amount is to help all companies nation- wide hurt by imports?? Yet, if we can save the companies, we save the jobs that go with those companies

According to the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Agency’s 4th annual report, 882 trade-impacted firms have received assistance through TAA for Firms (TAAF) in 2013. These firms employed over 76,000 workers at the time of their entry into TAAF and at least one firm was located in 48 of the 50 states throughout the country.

As Democratic Congressmen stated in a December 8, 2014 letter to Speaker Boehner and Minority leader Nancy Pelosi:

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

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

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

US APPROVES TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT

In addition to Hong Kong, on January 23, 2015 the US government officially ratified the WTO trade facilitation agreement. The TFA is expected to cut Customs red tape at ports around the World. Experts have estimated that the TFA could add billions to the World economy.

CHINA ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST US

On January 28, 2015, the Chinese government reported that it has three outstanding antidumping and countervailing duty orders against the United States: Grain Oriented Flat-rolled Electrical Steel, Broiler (Chicken) Products; and Solar-grade Polysilicon.

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The facilitation of any such transactions.

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

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

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

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

On January 26th, Adam Szubin, the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, a top US Treasury official, stated that more targeted sanctions could be coming against Russia as the violence in eastern Ukraine escalates.

On February 9th, Chancellor Merkel met with President Obama and the decision was to leave the sanctions in place. On February 11th, Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia are expected to have talks in Belarus in an attempt to establish a peace agreement in the Ukraine.

MADE IN USA—NORDTROM AND LAND’S END BOTH HAVE PROBLEMS

On January 27, 2015, a California Federal Judge denied Nordstrom’s motion for an interlocutory review of a proposed class action accusing them of falsely marketing jeans as “made in the USA.” California has a much stricter “Made in USA” law than the Federal FTC law or any law in the rest of the United States.

On the same day, Land’s End moved to end a proposed class action case in California alleging that the clothing retailer inflated prices on its clothes by labeling foreign-made apparel as produced in the USA.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

SUPREMA ORAL ARGUMENT

On February 5, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held an oral argument in the Suprema case to determine whether section 337 can be used to bar imports that induce patent infringement. It was reported that the CAFC judges appear split on whether “articles of infringement” in section 337 refers only to the imported items themselves, and not how they will be used upon sale in the U.S.

Plaintiff argued that Articles of infringement mean only imports that infringe the patent at the time of entry into the US and the imports did not infringe the patent at time of entry.

The ITC lawyer argued that the Commission must analyze the patent as a whole in determining which items infringe. The ITC lawyer stated;

“The invention is the process.” Isolating the items from their ultimate use is “not how [patent cases] are adjudicated.”

NEW 337 CASE AGAINST CHINA

On February 9, 2015, a new 337 complaint was filed by Andreas Electronics Corp on Audio Processing Hardware and Software and Products against Acer Inc., Taiwan; Acer America Corp., San Jose, CA; ASUSTEK Computer Inc., Taiwan; ASUS Computer International, Fremont, CA; Dell Inc., Round Rock, TX; Hewlett Packard Co., Palo Alto, CA; Lenovo Group Ltd., China; Lenovo Holding Co., Inc., Morrisville, NC; Lenovo (United States) Inc., Morrisville, NC; Toshiba Corp., Japan; Toshiba America Inc., New York, NY; Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Irvine, CA; and Realtek Semiconductor Corp..

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

On January 13, 2015 Azure Networks Inc. filed a patent case against ZTE Corporation and ZTE (USA) Inc. AZURE ZTE COMPLAINT

On January 21, 2015, Music City Metals Co. filed a trademark case against Xiao Jin Hua, Hou Huanqing, King Shin International, King Jing LLC, King Shin International Co., Ltd. KZNG SHZN International Co., Ltd. and BBQ Parts Ltd.MUSIC CITY COMPLAINT Complaint 3-15cv67

On January 27, 2015, Robertshaw Controls Company filed a trademark unfair competition case against Ningbo Ranco Machinery & Equipment Co., Ltd.NINGBO TRADEMARK CASE

On January 28, 2015, Spy Optic Inc. filed a trademark, unfair competition case, against Alibaba.com, Albaba.com Hong Kong Ltd., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.,ALIBABA TRADEMARK CASE

On January 30, 2015, Consolidated Work Station Computing LLC filed a patent case against Huawei Technologies USA, Inc. and Huawei Device USA Inc. CONSOLIDATED HUAWEI

On February 3, 2015, Thingcharger Inc. and P3 International Corp. filed a patent case against Viatek Consumer Products Group, Inc., Viatek International LLC, Foshan Um Electronics Co., Ltd. Foshum complaint

On February 4, 2015 Paxton Sales, Inc. filed a copyright and unfair competition case against Vogue Furniture Direct Inc., Guozhi Qiao, and Zhejiang Chairmeng Furniture Co., Ltd. PAXTON FURNITURE COPYRIGHT COMPLAINT

On February 6, 2015, Avionqs LLC filed a patent case against Air China Cargo Company. CHINA CARGO PATENT CASE

On February 9, 2015, United States Pumice Company filed a trade secrets unfair competition case against Seung Joon Lee and Yiwe Xianxue Company Ltd. dba Ipumice.comPUMICE CHINA CASE

On February 12, 2015, Toyo Tire and Rubber Co and Toyo Tire USA Corp. filed an unfair competition, trade dress case against CIA Wheel Group, Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre Co., Tire Industrial Co., Ltd. and Double Star Group Corp.  QINGDAO TYRE CASE

On February 13, 2015, eDigital Corp filed a patent case against Shenzhen Gospell Smartphone Electron Co., dba Ocea Camera, Ividem Ltd., New Sight Devices Corp. SHENZHEN CASE

CHINESE INVESTMENT AND PRODUCTION IN UNITED STATES—FOREIGN INVESTMENT FILING REQUIREMENTS

On December 4, 2014, Mellissa Krasnow, a Dorsey attorney, published the following article about the filing requirement for Foreign Investments in the United States:

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently launched the BE-13, Survey of New Foreign Direct Investment in the United States. See http://www.dorsey.com/eu-be-13-new-foreigndirect- investment-in-us/. There are civil penalties, injunctive relief and criminal penalties for failing to file BE-13 when required, so whether BE-13 needs to be filed must be determined and the obligation to file must be complied with. Questions for companies to ask regarding acquisitions completed since January 1, 2014 (data is being collected retroactively back to January 1, 2014) and going forward include:

  1. Has your company made foreign investment filings with the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis?
  2. Has your company been contacted by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in 2014?
  3. Is the total cost of the transaction greater than US$3 million and:

Did a foreign entity or an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign entity acquire a voting interest in a U.S. enterprise, segment or operating unit? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13A at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13a-fillable.pdf;

also consider the requirements for BE-13C at Https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13c-fillable.pdf.

Did a foreign entity or an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign entity establish a new legal entity in the United States? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13B at

https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13b-fillable.pdf.

Did an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign parent acquire a U.S. business enterprise or segment that it then merge into its operations? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13C at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13cfillable.pdf.

Did an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign parent expand its operations to include a new facility where business is conducted? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13D at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13dfillable.pdf.

Does the U.S. business enterprise not meet all of the above requirements? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13 Claim for Exemption at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13-claimfillable.pdf.

These filings are due within 45 days after the acquisition is completed, the new legal entity is established, or the expansion is begun.

US LITIGATION ORDERING FOREIGN COMPANIES TO BREAK ATTORNEY CLIENT WORK PRODUCT

Dorsey lawyers for the Bank of China are attempting to overturn a US judge’s order to release materials to plaintiff collected during the Bank of China’s internal investigation. Dorsey lawyers for the Bank are arguing that the documents were prepared under the direction of outside counsel in anticipation of potential litigation and should not be released to the Plaintiffs because of attorney-client privilege.

The Federal Judge faulted the Bank for failing to provide information as to when it began communicating with its original outside attorney at Preston, Gates about the matter, and that it failed to state the dates and nature of his involvement, including whether he “directed or claims to have directed any aspect of the investigation”.

In the objection to the order, Bank of China’s lawyer Lanier Saperstein at Dorsey & Whitney said that “Judge Gorenstein has effectively created new rules for establishing work-product protection and attorney-client privilege,” adding that the new rules would prevent a business like Bank of China “from communicating with an attorney for the purpose of obtaining legal advice unless the attorney first directs the client to do so.” Saperstein argued that Judge Gorenstein’s order is contrary to a Second Circuit ruling in United States v Adlman where the court established that work-product protection applies if “the documents can fairly be said to have been prepared or obtained because of the prospect of litigation”.

Saperstein also rejected the assertion that only communications made at the request of the attorney apply for attorney-client privilege. Limiting privilege “to only those communications made at the direction of the attorney would lead to perverse results,” Saperstein said, adding: “Under this requirement, a client who describes his situation to an attorney before asking for advice would receive no protection.”

Saperstein further stated: “I’m particularly thrown by the theme that runs through the decision, which is that you need to establish the counterfactual world, and show what you would have done had the facts been different.”

He said the decision places a very high burden on companies, stating:

“I’ve never submitted an Upjohn declaration stating what we would have done had we not anticipated litigation. [I’m] not entirely sure how one does that, because it moves away from the factual situation to a hypothetical one. How would one attest to what you would have done in a different scenario?”

ANTITRUST

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

VITAMIN C ORAL ARGUMENT

On January 29, 2015, oral argument was held in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the Vitamin C Antitrust Case against Chinese companies. In that appeal, two Chinese companies Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp., along with China’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) are trying to reverse a $153 million dollar award against the two Chinese companies from a Brooklyn, New York in an antitrust class action over price-fixing of vitamin C exports to the US from China. During the argument, MOFCOM’s counsel argued that the proceedings are seen “as an affront to the Chinese government,” especially the notion that China tried to tweak its laws after the fact.

But William Isaacson of Boies, Schiller, the Plaintiff’s lawyer argued that Chinese law, or its possible evolution, was not before the jury and urged the panel to respect the vigorously litigated proceeding and voluminous record below, stating:

“It shows no disrespect to a government to disagree with them. The good people of Brooklyn were not asked to decide what Chinese law says,” only to decide whether the government made the companies fix their prices. “If there’s no actual compulsion, there’s no comity issue.”

Augustine Lo, a Dorsey Trade and Corporate lawyer, attended the oral argument and reported as follows:

The Second Circuit oral argument in the Vitamin C antitrust case was interesting. Counsel for the two Chinese companies who went to trial (Wilson Sonsini), counsel for MOFCOM (Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin LLP), and counsel for plaintiffs (Boies Schiller) presented their arguments. The panel consisted of Chief Judge Cabranes, Judge Hall, and Judge Wesley.

As you may recall, Federal District Court Judge Cogan of Eastern District New York (same judge as Arab Bank trial) ruled that MOFCOM’s statement in support of the Chinese companies was insufficient to prove that the PRC government compelled the antitrust violation at issue. In effect, the Federal District Court Judge decided that plaintiffs’ explanation of Chinese law and ambiguous translations of witness statements concerning the lack of strict enforcement were more authoritative than MOFCOM’s statement. MOFCOM was furious.

Defendants-Appellants’ counsel focused his argument on the comity issue – that the District Judge failed to defer to the MOFCOM statement and failed to acknowledge the international relations conflict between price fixing authorized by Chinese law and prohibition of the same conduct under U.S. antitrust law. Plaintiffs-Appellees’ counsel explained that the District Judge properly excluded the Chinese regulation from the jury because the interpretation of the regulation was a question of law that the judge previously settled under Rule 44.1. Plaintiffs contend that the jury was able to decide there was no compulsion based on the record evidence. In rebuttal, defendants countered that the translations on the record regarding the companies’ voluntary conduct were ambiguous, which militates even more strongly in favor of deference to the MOFCOM statement.

Judges Cabranes and Hall seemed more receptive to defendants-appellees’ comity arguments. I predict a 2-1 vote in favor of reversal on the issue of comity. It’s unclear whether they will remand for dismissal for lack of jurisdiction (as requested by defendants), or whether they may remand for new trial and require the District Court Judge to accord proper evidentiary weight to the MOFCOM statement.

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

QUALCOMM

On February 9, 2015, it was announced that Qualcomm Inc. agreed to pay $975 million to end the Chinese government’s antitrust investigation under China’s anti-monopoly law into whether it used its position as the world’s largest smartphone chipmaker to charge discriminatory fees to patent licensees. The settlement came after meetings on February 6th between Qualcomm and China’s National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”). Qualcomm also agreed to lower its royalty rates on patents used in China and to change its licensing practices as part of the deal.

Derek Aberle, Qualcomm’s President, stated:

“We are pleased that the investigation has concluded and believe that our licensing business is now well positioned to fully participate in China’s rapidly accelerating adoption of our 3G/4G technology. We appreciate the NDRC’s acknowledgment of the value and importance of Qualcomm’s technology and many contributions to China, and look forward to its future support of our business in China.”

The NDRC ruled that Qualcomm violated China’s anti-monopoly law with its patent licensing practices, and the company agreed not to contest the finding.

Apparently, the Chinese market and the potential for large profits are just too big for US companies to ignore.

JCCT TALKS

On December 19, 2014, the Chinese Daily reported on the December 16-18 JCCT talks between the US government and the Chinese government stating, “China said it will treat all market entities equally in anti-monopoly enforcement and allow foreign companies’ legal advisers to observe meetings between litigants and anti-monopoly enforcement agencies.”

In the fact sheet, which was circulated at the end of the talks, the Commerce Department stated regarding the Chinese government’s agreement at the JCCT talks:

COMPETITION LAW

U.S. industry has asserted that China’s competition policy enforcement authorities seem to be targeting foreign companies and at times use Anti-monopoly Law investigations as a tool to protect and promote domestic national champions and domestic industries. U.S. industry also has expressed concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in China’s investigative processes, as well as pressure from the Chinese authorities not to seek outside counsel or have counsel present at meetings. China’s commitments below help to address several of these concerns.

  1. In order to build on the recognition of the United States and China in the Sixth Meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue that the objective of competition policy is to promote consumer welfare and economic efficiency, rather than promote individual competitors or industries, and that the enforcement of their respective competition laws should be fair, transparent, objective, and non-discriminatory, and China’s commitment that its three Antimonopoly Enforcement Agencies (AMEAs) are to provide to any party under investigation information about the AMEA’s competition concerns with the conduct or transaction, as well as an effective opportunity for the party to present evidence in its defense:
  2. a) China clarifies that in enforcing the AML, all business operators shall be treated equally.
  3. b) Where AML violations are found, China clarifies that it is to impose enforcement measures that address the harm to competition, and not to impose enforcement measures designed to promote individual competitors or industries.
  4. China clarifies that its AMEAs will, (1) when undertaking administrative actions, strictly follow statutory limits on their authority, procedures, and requirements as laid out in China’s relevant laws, regulations and rules; and

(2) before imposing penalties, notify the parties of the facts, grounds, and basis according to which the administrative penalties are to be decided, notify the parties of the rights that they enjoy in accordance with the law, and provide the parties with the right to state their cases and to defend themselves.

  1. China clarifies that all administrative decisions that impose liability on a party under the AML will be provided in writing to the party and include the facts, reasons, and evidence on which the decision is based. China clarifies that it will publish the final version of administrative decisions that impose liability on a party under the AML in a timely manner. Administrative decisions made public in accordance with law should not include contents involving what are legally commercial secrets.
  2. China will ensure that, upon request from a party involved, the three AMEAs are to allow Chinese practicing lawyers to attend and participate in meetings with any of the three AMEAs. China will ensure that, upon request from the party involved, and after obtaining approval from the AMEA, which shall be granted as normal practice, the following persons may attend the meetings with any of the three AMEAs: (1) representatives of foreign law firm representative offices established in China, who are permitted to attend and advise on international law and practice and provide information on the impact of the Chinese legal environment, but not permitted to conduct activities that encompass Chinese legal affairs, and (2) foreign legal counsel practicing in other legal jurisdictions, who are permitted to attend and provide information on the subject transaction or conduct and information on the laws or international practices of the legal jurisdiction where they practice.

In the Blog post describing the JCCT, Commerce states:

  • Competition policy enforcement: The United States was able to address a significant concern for many foreign companies, which have expressed serious concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in the investigative processes of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law enforcement. The Chinese side agreed that, under normal circumstances, a foreign company in an Anti-Monopoly Law investigation would be permitted to have counsel present and to consult with them during proceedings. China also made several additional commitments, including to treat domestic and foreign companies equally and to provide increased transparency for investigated companies.

ANJIE LAW FIRM

On January 21, 2015, Michael Gu, a Chinese antitrust lawyer at the Anjie Law Firm in Beijing, sent the following e-mail with attached several articles on Chinese antitrust law:

I would like to share with you my latest articles on the recent PRC antitrust development.

      Six Years After the Implementation of the Anti-Monopoly Law: Enforcement Trends and Developments of Anti-Monopoly Law Investigation in China (English and Chinese)2014 marks the six anniversary of the implementation of the PRC Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML), the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China (“NDRC”) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (“SAIC”) have gradually strengthened their anti-monopoly law enforcement in terms of investigation with rounds of record fines. In particular, since early 2013, the investigations conducted by the NDRC are apparently speeding up with 11 high-profile cases investigated and closed with the total fines amounting to RMB 3,272.75 million. This article focus on the typical cases investigated and fined by the NDRC and the SAIC, analyzing in detail the recent trends and features, as well as future developments of anti-monopoly law enforcement. Also, we provide suggestions to companies with respect to their construction of antitrust compliance program under the new circumstances

MOFCOM Steps Up: Penalty Decisions Regarding Merger Control Published for the First Time (English) On 2 December 2014, for the first time ever, MOFCOM, the Chinese antitrust enforcement authority responsible for merger control, published three penalty decisions regarding concentration of undertakings. MOFCOM has announced that it was going to publicize its penalty decisions on undertakings which fail to file a notifiable merger as early as 21 March 2014, and now, here it comes. By publicizing these penalty decisions, MOFCOM conveys a clear message that it is enhancing the supervision and law enforcement on merger issues.

T&D MICROSOFT E-MAIL AND ARTICLE

On December 9th, John Ren of T&D Associates, a well-known, Chinese antitrust lawyer in Beijing, sent out an e-mail to all interested parties about the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s (MOFCOM) recent decisions to hand out penalty decision in three cases. As John Ren states:

T&D has prepared an email to introduce three penalty decisions of MOFCOM to the clients. Please see below for your reference as well.

The Department of Treaty and Law (“DTL”) of the Ministry of Commerce of People’s Republic of China (“MOFCOM”) has published three Administrative Penalty Determination Letters on December 8, 2014 on its website to impose fines on Western Digital Corporation (“Western Digital”) and Tsinghua Unigroup Co., Ltd.(“Unigroup”) for their violation of antitrust law and regulations. Please find attached the English translations of the three documents prepared by T&D for your kind reference.

T&D would like to provide comments as below for your kind reference:

      1. The penalties imposed on Western Digital are aimed at its violation of commitments in MOFCOM’s conditional approval notice in accordance with Article 15 of the Measures for the Review of Concentrations of Undertakings (“Measures“), while the penalty imposed on Unigroup is aimed at its violation of notification obligation in accordance with Article 21 of the Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML“) and Article 13 of the Interim Measures for Investigating and Handling Failure to Notify the Concentration of Undertakings According to Law (“Interim Measures“).
      2.      On March 20, 2014, MOFCOM has published an announcement about disclosing the penalty determination after May 1, 2014 on the undertakings who implemented a concentration without filing before MOFCOM when it is needed in accordance with law. And it is the first time MOFCOM has published its penalty determinations on undertakings who violate the restrictive conditions in a conditional approval notice (regarding the Western Digital Penalty) and on undertakings who fail to notify before MOFCOM when it was needed in accordance with the law (regarding the Unigroup Penalty).
      3. These public penalty determinations show a trend of MOFCOM strengthening enforcement of antitrust law after May 1, 2014. In fact, there were several companies on which bureau-level penalties were imposed in the past by the Anti-Monopoly Bureau of MOFCOM and those penalties have not been disclosed to the public, while the disclosure of the administrative penalty this time by DTL of MOFCOM is a higher-level penalty which has a higher number of fine and needs consent from the minister-level to be implemented. Also, there will be other kinds of penalties if MOFCOM defines antitrust concerns during the review process in accordance with the AML, for example, to discontinue such concentrations, to dispose of undertakings’ shares or assets within a specific time limit, to transfer the business, to adopt other necessary measures to return to the status prior to the concentration, etc.
      4. In accordance with Article 48 of the AML, MOFCOM can impose a fine of no more than 500,000 RMB on the undertakings. Although compared to the transaction value and the turnover of some large-scale companies, this is not a significant figure, MOFCOM’s act of disclosing the penalty determination will seriously hurt the reputation of the companies and effect the compliance issues of those companies in their future operations in China. Therefore, we sincerely suggest that companies take it more seriously when evaluating the necessity of notification and perform the obligation of notification if necessary.
      5. As we can see, the penalty determinations aim at one foreign company and one domestic company, which shows a fair treatment and attitude by MOFCOM regarding antitrust law enforcement on both foreign and domestic companies.

T&D JANUARY REPORT

T&D also sent us their attached January report on Chinese competition law, TD Monthly Antitrust Report of January 2015. In that report, John Ren states in part:

Experts Predict Anti-Monopoly Law Enforcement will Normalize and Regulate this Year

January 5, 2015

Anti-monopoly law enforcement advanced triumphantly in 2014.

This year, many well-known foreign companies such as Qualcomm, Tetra Pak, Microsoft, Mercedes, etc. have faced investigation by China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement; Japanese auto parts enterprises received the biggest fines since the birth of the anti-monopoly law; rare anti-administrative monopoly investigation cases have also arisen on suspicions of discriminatorily charging road tolls, and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) launched an anti-monopoly investigation on an administrative organ at the provincial level for the first time.

There are so many bright spots of “first times”, “largest,” and so on in 2014, leaving this year with a groundbreaking mark in the course of China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement.

This kind of strength has been accused of “selective law enforcement”, “lacking law enforcement transparency”, “lacking professionalism” and so on. As for the trend of the anti-monopoly law enforcement from now on, a majority of experts give prudent predictions. They think, in view of law enforcement difficulties, the strengthening of supervision by public opinion as well as the improvement on the Government Information Publicity System, anti-monopoly law enforcement in 2015 will become more prudent and precise, and strong law enforcement is likely to slow down.

Full bloom of anti-monopoly law enforcement

2014 is the year in which anti-monopoly law enforcement blossomed everywhere. Both for domestic enterprises and foreign enterprises, also both for natural monopolies and administrative monopolies, law enforcement and judicial organs all increased their engagement.

The anti-monopoly investigation on many multinational companies and foreign companies is a big characteristic of anti-monopoly in 2014. At the beginning of the New Year, the information of anti-monopoly law enforcement drew people’s attention. Qualcomm was under anti-monopoly investigation by the National Development and Reform Commission, and Tetra Pak and Microsoft were under an anti-monopoly investigation by China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

On May 29, the National Development and Reform Commission issued the first anti-monopoly fine for 2014. Because price monopolistic behavior violated the anti-monopoly law, five eyeglass production enterprises including Essilor, Bausch & Lomb, etc., were fined more than 19 million Yuan.

Into the summer, the National Development and Reform Commission targeted the import auto industry as a goal for a new round of anti-monopoly enforcement. On August 4, the anti-monopoly investigation team of the National Development and Reform Commission abruptly investigated Mercedes’ Shanghai office. A number of Mercedes executives were summoned for questioning, and many office computers were inspected. After then, luxury cars such as Chrysler and Audi reduced their prices one after the other in response to China’s anti-monopoly investigations.

At the same time, domestic enterprises are also undergoing anti-monopoly investigations and anti-monopoly penalties. So far, it is clear to see through the “Anti-monopoly Cases Release Platform” that all 16 anti-monopoly cases punished by the anti-monopoly enforcement authority in the industry and commerce system target domestic enterprises.

The “restricting administrative monopoly” provision in the Anti-Monopoly law has been plagued by the “decoration” question. On September 13, the NDRC anti-monopoly bureau director Kun Lin, Xu announced at a news conference in the State Council Information Office (SCIO) that the stipulation by Hebei province, that the bus in its province will be charged half price of toll fees but out-of-province buses will be charged full price, is suspected of violating the anti-monopoly law, and it is under the National Development and Reform Commission’s investigation. Relevant government departments in Hebei province soon put forward an improvement scheme, restoring prices to the same price charged for local vehicles and vehicle from other places.

Repeatedly refreshed anti-monopoly fines

In 2014, the anti-monopoly enforcement authority continued the intensity of punishment in 2013; anti-monopoly fines reached new highs repeatedly.

In sweltering mid-August, the National Development and Reform Commission offered a 1.235 billion Yuan penalty to 12 Japanese auto parts companies, and so far this is the biggest anti-monopoly fine in China. It is understood that since 2013 the National Development and Reform Commission has issued 7 anti-monopoly fines, each of which reached more than ten million Yuan.

On September 2, in view of the fact that the insurance industry association of Zhejiang province organized 23 provincial property insurance companies to hold a meeting about car insurance premiums and they violated the anti-monopoly law regulation, the National Development and Reform Commission decided to fine the insurance industry association of Zhejiang province 500,000 Yuan, and 110 million Yuan on the 23 property insurance companies involved. This is by far the biggest anti-monopoly fine in the insurance industry.

The media exclaims that anti-monopoly fines are higher and higher. Industry experts remind the public that the focus for anti-monopoly enforcement should not just be placed on the amount of the fine. Professor Jian Zhong Shi, a modification and review panel expert for the Anti-Monopoly Law of the State Council Legislative Affairs Office and a director in the competition law research center of China University of Political Science and Law, thinks that even if a fine is a “sky-high price”, the purpose of law enforcement is not for huge fines, but for restoring the normal order of market competition.

Super-national treatment is closed

The intensive law enforcement on foreign-funded enterprises soon triggered suspicion. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China raised objection to the anti-monopoly investigations in China, considering that they have been treated unfairly. Others argue that there is a double standard in China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement. While there is strict law enforcement on private enterprise and multinational companies, the law enforcement on state-owned enterprise is passive.

As for this point of view, Mengyan, an associate professor in the law school of Renmin University of China, thinks that the business activities of multinational companies and foreign-funded enterprises in China enjoy “Super-national Treatment” in the initial stages of reform and opening-up. When faced with anti-monopoly law enforcement practices in China, foreign-funded enterprises should consider more, keep a low-profile, and reflect on whether their own pricing behavior violates the anti-monopoly provision.

Since the initiation of China’s anti-monopoly law in August, 2008, the National Development and Reform Commission and the State Administration of Industry and Commerce did not “exert force” until the past two years. As for this point, Huangyong, deputy supervisor of the expert consultation group for the Anti-monopoly Commission of the State Council and professor in the law school of University of International Business and Economics, expresses that this phenomenon may be explained as that: For the new anti-monopoly law, law enforcement authorities are willing to set aside a period of time for market players to correct themselves before as the authorities themselves also need some time to learn professional knowledge and accumulate law enforcement experience. However, after six years, law enforcement authorities today both have the intention and the capability to fully open anti-monopoly law enforcement. To some extent, law enforcement authorities are cleaning “historical debts”. Law enforcement work is becoming normality.

Law enforcement transparency awaits improvement

The transparency of law enforcement has become a focus point for the general question in the foreign press on China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement.

On September 2, 2014, the National Development and Reform Commission announced its 0.11 billion Yuan anti-monopoly “ticket” on the insurance industry in Zhejiang province and published its full written decision of administrative penalty at the same time. However, the scrupulous reader can find that this written decision of administrative penalty has been made by the National Development and Reform Commission as early as the end of 2013, so why is it not published until today? Should the written decision of administrative penalty for anti-monopoly law enforcement be published timely?

Meanwhile, the publication of written decisions of administrative penalties for anti-monopoly law enforcement lacks unified legislation. This becomes another question raising suspicion of foreigners regarding anti-monopoly law enforcement transparency.

Insiders generally consider that anti-monopoly law enforcement will become normality from now on. However, considering law enforcement difficulties, the strengthening of the supervision of public opinions as well as the improvement on Government Information Publicity System, anti-monopoly law enforcement in 2015 will become more prudent and precise; the strong law enforcement is likely to slow down.

Professor Huangyong thinks that the focus for anti-monopoly law enforcement from now on should return to the legislative intention for the anti-monopoly law, that is to say, to safeguard a healthy market competition order. From now on, anti-monopoly cases will be more complex and involve more frontier domains. This puts forward a higher demand for the professionalism of anti-monopoly law enforcement. Thus, law enforcement authorities in our country should be well prepared and meet the challenge actively.

SECURITIES

PRC AUDIT FIRMS REACH SETTLEMENT WITH SEC

On February 8, 2015, Dorsey Partner, Tom Gorman, who used to work at the SEC Enforcement division, posted the following article about PRC Based Audit Firms and their problems at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on his blog on securities litigation. In that post Tom Gorman states:

SEC – PRC Based Audit Firms Reach A Settlement

The SEC and the PRC based affiliates of five major accounting firms entered into a settlement of proceedings initiated over the failure to produce audit work papers for issuers with substantial operations in China. The settlement, which provides a mechanism for governing future productions, represents a significant step toward a resolution of these issues which ultimately stem from the intersection of far different cultures and regulatory systems.

The proceedings

In the Matter of BDO China Dahua CPA Co., Ltd., Adm. Proc. File No. 3-15116 (Dec. 3, 2012) is a proceeding which named as Respondents the PRC based affiliates of five major accounting firms: BDO China, Ernst & Young Hau Ming LLP, KPMG Huazhen (Special General Partnership), Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Certified Public Accountants Ltd. and PricewaterhouseCoopers Zhong Tian CPAs Ltd.

The proceeding was based on Rule 102(e)(1)(iii) which permits the Commission to temporarily or permanently deny any person found to have willfully violated or aided and abetted the violation of the Federal securities laws. Section 106 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act, was alleged to have been violated. That Section provides that a PCAOB registered firm that audits the financial statements of a U.S. issuer consents to produce its work papers on request by either the Board or the SEC.

In this matter, each Respondent is registered with the PCAOB. Each Respondent is alleged to have been engaged to audit the financial statements of a PRC based U.S. issuer. Each Respondent was served with a request by the Commission to produce all of its audit work papers for a designated period. Each Respondent declined, at least in part, based on their understanding that the law of the PRC precluded the production. The Order directed that a hearing be held before an ALJ to hear evidence.

Following the hearing the Law Judge issued an initial decision on January 22, 2014. In that decision, much of which was redacted, the Law Judge found that each firm should be censured. In addition, each firm, except BDO, was suspended from practicing before the SEC for six months. The Commission then granted petitions for review filed by Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC as well as the Division. See also In the Matter of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Certified Public Accountants Ltd., Adm. Proc. File No. 3-14872 (May 9, 2012)(subpoena enforcement action against the audit firm related to a different PRC based client).

The settlement

BDO China, Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC settled with the SEC, admitting certain facts which are the predicate of the proceedings as set forth in Annex A. There were no admissions that the Federal securities or other laws were violated.

Under the terms of the settlement each Respondent is censured and will pay a penalty of $500,000. The Order provides for a stay of the current proceedings for a period of four years. The continuation of the stay is contingent on the implementation of certain undertakings tied to the execution of future requests for work papers. Specifically, the undertakings provide that in the future the SEC will make requests for assistance to the CSRC under international sharing mechanisms which include the

IOSCO MMOU. At the same time the staff will make a request to one of the settling Respondents through its designated U.S. agent. The Respondent to whom the request is directed will provide the staff with a certification that the materials have been furnished to the CSRC, along with a log of any documents withheld based on privilege or PRC law provisions which include state secrets. The undertakings provide time limits for the completion of these tasks.

If the Respondent to whom the request is directed fails to provide the required certificates within the specified time periods the Commission can, under Rule 102(e), enter a partial bar as to that Respondent. That bar will have a term of six months and will preclude the firm from issuing an audit report or otherwise serving as a principal auditor for any issuer. If two such bars are ordered they shall run consecutively. There is no appeal from the entry of this order.

Alternatively, if the staff determines that the production made to CSRC is materially incomplete, after an opportunity to cure, a summary proceeding may be instituted before a Law Judge. The Law Judge will have the authority to issue a partial bar, a censure and a penalty of up to $75,000.

Finally, if the staff determines that a Respondent has provided materially deficient responses, there has been substantial delay, material has been withheld without justification under U.S. law and a summary proceeding has not been instituted, it may request that the Commission terminate the stay and restart the proceedings.

Comment

The settlement of these proceedings is one step in what has become a long and difficult process regarding the entry of PRC issuers into the U.S. and world capital markets. Issuers based in, or with substantial operations in the PRC, have sought entry into the U.S. and world capital markets.

Bringing those firms to markets which are heavily regulated and based on disclosure, however, represents a clash of culture and regulatory regimes.

Here that clash has been evident from the first. While SOX requires Board registered auditors to agree to produce work papers and subjects them to inspections, at the time of registration the firms involved in these proceedings did not provide the Consent to Cooperate. Nevertheless, the Board permitted their registration while reiterating its obligations.

As these proceedings demonstrate, effectuating the requirement that registered firms produce work papers has been difficult for the SEC and the Board. At the same time the Commission and Board have exercised restraint while negotiating resolutions of the issues involved here. For example, after significant efforts the Board was able to enter into an MOU with the CSRC regarding cooperation and the production of work papers. The materials in the underlying actions were produced.

Yet an agreement on inspection, while under discussion, has been elusive.

Viewed against this backdrop, the settlements here are significant. The firms were sanctioned, but not barred from appearing and practicing before the SEC. Rather, an additional mechanism for facilitating future requests was arranged under the threat of additional and more significant sanctions. The ultimate success of the process is, however, tied to the MOU negotiated by Board since the settlement only calls for delivery of the materials to the CSRC, not to the SEC. Recent productions by that agency suggest that in the future there will be more cooperation and transparency regarding issuers operating in the PRC. It may well be that the time has come for issuers operating in the PRC to enter the world capital markets.

See also Tom Gorman’s blog for more information about this case http://www.secactions.com/sec-prc-based-audit-firms-reach-a-settlement/

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

On December 15, 2014, the Justice Department announced that Avon China had pled guilty to violating the foreign corrupt practices Act by concealing more than $8 million in gifts to Chinese officials. As the Justice Department stated in an announcement, which will be attached to my blog:

Avon Products Inc. and Avon Products (China) Co. Ltd. Will Pay More than $135 Million in Criminal and Regulatory Penalties

Avon Products (China) Co. Ltd. (Avon China), a wholly owned subsidiary of the New York-based cosmetics company, Avon Products Inc. (Avon), pleaded guilty today to conspiring to violate the accounting provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to conceal more than $8 million in gifts, cash and non-business meals, travel and entertainment it gave to Chinese government officials in order to obtain and retain business benefits for Avon China. Avon China and Avon admitted the improper accounting and payments and Avon entered into a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve the investigation. In a proceeding today before United States District Judge George B. Daniels, the criminal Informations were filed against Avon and Avon China, and Avon China entered its guilty plea and was sentenced.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“Companies that cook their books to hide improper payments will face criminal penalties, as Avon China’s guilty plea demonstrates,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Public companies that discover bribes paid to foreign officials, fail to stop them, and cover them up do so at their own peril.”

“For years in China it was ‘Avon calling,’ as Avon bestowed millions of dollars in gifts and other things on Chinese government officials in return for business benefits,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara. “Avon China was in the door-to-door influence-peddling business, and for years its corporate parent, rather than putting an end to the practice, conspired to cover it up. Avon has now agreed to adopt rigorous internal controls and to the appointment of a monitor to ensure that reforms are instituted and maintained.”

“When corporations knowingly engage in bribery in order to obtain and retain contracts, it disrupts the level playing field to which all businesses are entitled,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McCabe.

“Companies who attempt to advance their businesses through foreign bribery should be on notice. The FBI, with our law enforcement partners, is continuing to push this unacceptable practice out of the business playbook by investigating companies who ignore the law.”

Avon China pleaded guilty to a criminal information filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York charging the company with conspiring to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA. Avon, the parent company, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement today and admitted its criminal conduct, including its role in the conspiracy and its failure to implement internal controls.

Pursuant to the deferred prosecution agreement, the department filed a criminal information charging Avon with conspiring to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA and violating the internal controls provisions of the FCPA. In total, the Avon entities will pay $67,648,000 in criminal penalties. Avon also agreed to implement rigorous internal controls, cooperate fully with the department and retain a compliance monitor for at least 18 months.

Avon settled a related FCPA matter with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today, and will pay an additional $67,365,013 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, bringing the total amount of U.S. criminal and regulatory penalties paid by Avon and Avon China to $135,013,013.

According to the companies’ admissions, from at least 2004 through 2008, Avon and Avon China conspired to falsify Avon’s books and records by falsely describing the nature and purpose of certain Avon China transactions. Specifically, the companies sought to disguise over $8 million in gifts, cash and non-business travel, meals and entertainment that Avon China executives and employees gave to government officials in China in order to obtain and retain business benefits for Avon China. Avon China attempted to disguise the payments and benefits through various means, including falsely describing the nature or purpose of, or participants associated with such expenses, and falsely recording payments to a third party intermediary as payments for legitimate consulting services.

The companies also admitted that in late 2005 Avon learned that Avon China was routinely providing things of value to Chinese government officials and failing to properly document them. Instead of ensuring the practice was halted, fixing the false books and records, disciplining the culpable individuals, and implementing appropriate controls to address this problem, the companies took steps to conceal the conduct, despite knowing that Avon China’s books and records, and ultimately Avon’s books and records, would continue to be inaccurate.

Court filings acknowledge Avon’s cooperation with the department, including conducting an extensive internal investigation, voluntarily making U.S. and foreign employees available for interviews, and collecting, analyzing, translating and organizing voluminous evidence.

BRUKER CORP.

On December 15, 2014 Massachusetts-based scientific instruments manufacturer Bruker Corp. agreed to pay $2.4 million to settle the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing Chinese government officials in an effort to win sales contracts.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On December 2, 2014, Wayne Jewell filed a class action securities case against MOL Global, Inc., Tan Sri Dato, Seri Vincent Tan, Ganesh Jumar Bangah, Allan Sai Wah Wong, Eric He, Noah J. Doyle, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Deutchsche Bank Securities Inc., UBS Securities LLC and CIMB Securities (Singapore) PTD, Ltd. JEWELL MOL GLOBAL

On December 11, 2014, Chao Lu filed a class action securities case against Jumei International Holding Ltd, Leo Ou Chen, Yusen Dai, Mona Meng Gao, Yunsheng Zheng, Judge Paijley, Steve Yue Ji, Keyi Chen, Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC, Credit Suize Securities (USA) llc, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, China Renaissance Securities (Hong Kong) Ltd, Piper Jaffray & Co and Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. JUMEI BROCK COMPLAINT

On December 31, 2014, Aram J. Pehlivian filed a class action securities case against China Gerui Advanced Materials Group Ltd, Mingwang Lu, Edward Meng, Yi Lu, Harry Edelson, J. P. Huang, Kwok Keung Wong, Yunlong Wang, and Maotong Xu. CHINA GERUI

On January 9, 2015, Steven Bocker, Sadie LaBerge and Jay Wise filed a class action securities case against Deer Consumer Products Inc., Yuehua Xie, Zongshu Nie, Arnold Staloff, Qi Hua Xu, Yongmei Wang, Man Wai James Chu, Walter Zhao, Edward Hua, Bill Ying he, Goldman Kurland Mohidin LLP, and Ahmed Mohidin. DEER SECURITIES

On January 14, 2015, Paul Fila filed a class action securities case against Pingtan Marine Enterprise Ltd., Xinrong Zhuo, Roy Yu, Jin Shi and Xuesong Song. PINGTAN MARINE Complaint

On February 2, 2015, Chao Sun filed a class action securities case against Daqing Han, Xiaoli Yu, Hong Li, Ming Li, Lian Zhu, Guanghui Cheng, Guobin Pan, Guangjun Lu, Yuanpin He, Mazars CPA Ltd, Mazars Scrl, Weisermazars LLP, and Telestone Technologies Corp. CHAO SUN TELESTONE

On February 4, 2015, Ming Huang filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Zhaoxi Lu and Maggie Wei Wu. MING HUANG ALIBABA

On February 16, 2015, Myrtle Chao filed a class action securities case against Alibaba. MYTRLE CHAO ALIBABA

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR —DEVELOPMENTS IN TRADE, CUSTOMS, PATENTS, AND SECURITIES

Jinshang Park from Forbidden City Yellow Roofs Gugong Palace BeiDear Friends,

There have been some new developments in the trade, customs, patents, and securities areas.

TRADE

NEW ANTIDUMPING CASE AGAINST CHINA ON CONCRETE STEEL RAIL TIE WIRE

On Tuesday, April 23, a new antidumping case was filed against Concrete Steel Rail Tie Wire from China.  The alleged antidumping rate is 54%.  Attached is a copy of the relevant pages of the petition.  Steel Rail Tie Wire Petition-4-25-13  The ITC Preliminary Conference will be held on May 14, 2013.  See attached ITC notice. ITC PRELIM NOTICE

HARDWOOD PLYWOOD ANTIDUMPING PRELIM —  FAIRNESS COMMERCE STYLE

On April 30th, Commerce issued its preliminary antidumping duty determinaton and the hardwood plywood companies got nailed again.  The two mandatory companies received, in effect, 0% duty rates.  But one hundred and one Chinese exporters, the rest of China, which is supposed to get the average rate or at least a rate that reflects commercial reality, received 22%. Keep in mind that the US importers pay these antidumping duties, not the Chinese exporters.  See the attached fact sheet.  factsheet_China-Hardwood-Decorative-Plywood-Prelim-30APR13

GOVT AND PETITIONER’S COUNSEL AWARDED LEGAL FEES AND COSTS FROM CHINESE COMPANY IN TIANJIN MAGNESIUM CASE

Attached is an opinion of the Court of International Trade awarding the government and Petitioner’s counsel $42,344 in legal fees and costs from TMI for TMI’s obstructive behavior in trade proceedings.  TIANJIN MAGNESIUM SANCTIONS CASE

As the CIT stated in the attached opinion:

“TMI’s repeated efforts — through counsel — to obstruct Commerce’s exercise of its statutory duties, to delay proceedings through frivolous argumentation and filings, and to mislead the court on material matters of fact and law constitute an intolerable level of vexatiousness and bad faith.  . . . Given TMI’s persistent misconduct before this Court and before Commerce, an award of fees and costs related to its problematic filings in this case is warranted and necessary to deter additional costly distractions in future trade proceedings.”

CUSTOMS

HONEY RICO ACTION

On April 19, 2013, three US honey producers filed a class action lawsuit in the Federal Court in Illinois against Honey Holding Ltd. under RICO, the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act alleging that Honey Holding had defrauded the US government and domestic honey makers by “landering” cheap altered versions of Chinese honey to disguise its country of origin and evade the Honey antidumping order.

Plaintiffs are asking for triple damages plus attorney fees.  The RICO Act or RICO is a United States federal law that provides for extended criminal penalties and a civil cause of action for acts performed as part of an ongoing criminal organization. The RICO Act focuses specifically on racketeering, and it allows the leaders of a syndicate to be tried for the crimes which they ordered others to do or assisted them in doing.

Attached is a copy of the complaint HONEY HOLDING COMPLAINT, which alleges that:

“Plaintiffs, on behalf of themselves and Class Members, bring this action as a national class action under Title XI (“RICO”) of Public Law 91-452, 84 Stat. 922 (1970) (as codified at 18 U.S.C. §§ 1961–1968, as amended) and the common law against Defendants for their fraud, negligent misrepresentation, conspiracy, and clandestine and wrongful importation and dumping of Chinese honey (and possibly honey from other unlawful source countries) on the United States honey market without paying the corresponding antidumping duties, by reason of which, Defendants substantially depressed the price of honey legitimately produced, packed, marketed, and sold in the United States by Plaintiffs and Class Members, damaged the Government in its governmental functions, and damaged Plaintiffs and Class Members in their businesses and/or property.  . . .”

“At all relevant times, since as early as 2000, Defendants have participated in a worldwide conspiracy to deceive Government import authorities about the origin of honey produced in China, avoid paying the corresponding antidumping duties on the Chinese honey, defraud the United States honey market and substantially injure Plaintiffs and Class Members—legitimate domestic honey producers and packers—in their businesses and property. “

PATENTS

ZTE AND LENOVO

Attached are patent complaints filed by Wyncomm on April 13, 2013 against ZTE and Lenovo.  ZTE PATENT LENOVO

HUAWEI AND ZTE—POTTER VOICE    

Attached is a patent complaint filed on April 25, 2013 against ZTE and Huawei by Potter Voice Technologies.  ZTE POTTER VOICE

CHINESE SEMICONDUCTOR COMPANIES

Attached is a patent complaint filed on April 18, 2013 by Semcon Tech LLC against Semiconductor Manufacturing International Corporation, Semiconductor International Shanghai, Semiconductor Manufacturing International , Beijing and Tianjin, and Shenzhen and Siltech Semiconductor Shanghai  SHORT SEMICONDUCTOR PATENT

SECURITIES

US SECURITIES CASE BETWEEN TWO CHINESE COMPANIES IN US FEDERAL COURT

Attached is a securities complaint filed on April 17, 2013 in US Federal Court in California by one Chinese company suing another Chinese company for securities fraud under US Securities law.  The case is Great Dynasty International Financial Holdings Ltd. v. Haiting Li, Zhiyan Li, and Pacific Bepure Industry, Inc.  INTER CHINA SECURITIES CASE

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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