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–DEVELOPMENTS IN TRADE, IP, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Qianmen Zhengyang Gate Wide Tiananmen Square Beijing China Night“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—JULY 23, 2014

Dear Friends,

My monthly blog post on the US China Trade War will be issued later this month. There have been some recent developments of interest, however.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

BEIJING ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT??

On June 3, 2014, Commerce issued its preliminary countervailing duty determination against China in the Solar Products case. The fact sheet and preliminary Federal Register notice have been posted on my blog. The Countervailing Duty Rates range from 18.56% for Trina to 35.21% for Wuxi Suntech and all other Chinese companies getting 26.89%. The Antidumping Preliminary determinations against China and Taiwan are not due to come out until July 24th.

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

On August 8th, the Commerce Department gave the Chinese government until today August 15th to propose a settlement agreement.  As I understand it, today, August 15th, the Chinese government did file a letter at Commerce expressing interest in a suspension agreement, but no proposed formal agreement has been filed with the Department.

AUGUST ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

The specific countervailing duty cases are:

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

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

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

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

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

CHINA TRADE WAR EXPANDS IN LAST FEW DAYS

The US China Trade War in the last several days expanded dramatically.

Today July 29 China time, the Chinese government conducted a dawn raid of Microsoft offices in China, apparently because of antitrust concerns.  Last week the Chinese government’s NDRC declared US company Qualcomm to be a monopoly. Rumors are that the Qualcomm antitrust investigation in China could end at the end of next month with a potential penalty of $1 billion.

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

See the attached articles about the antitrust investigations and the factsheet issued by the Commerce Department on Friday in the Solar Products case.  microsoft-china-antitrust-invest us-qualcomm-china-idU Solar Products AD Prelim Fact Sheet 072514 (1)

More information on these cases will be set out in my next blog post.

YES READER WE HAVE A TRADE WAR WITH CHINA

In talking with a number of US government officials, it has become clear that they do not realize that the United States has a trade war with China and guns are being fired on both sides.  These US government officials point to the $4 billion in “dumped” Solar Cells coming from China, but the same government officials do not realize that the Chinese Government through antidumping and countervailing duties have wiped out $2 billion in exports of US produced polysilicon going into those Chinese solar cells. This Chinese government action has resulted in REC Silicon deferring a $1 billion investment into Moses Lake, Washington.

US Government officials have also stated that Chinese companies have to come to the US because the United States has the largest market in the World. What many US government officials do not understand is that with a population of 1.6 billion and a middle/upper class of at least 500 million, China’s market is now larger than the United States. The best-selling car in China is the Ford Fusion. It used to be the Buick. Many officials do not realize that the US Qualcomm company, an American semiconductor company, is making $24 billion a year and $12 billion is from China.  On July 24th, the Chinese government NDRC declared Qualcomm to be a monopoly and there are rumors that the  Chinese government NDRC will fine Qualcomm up to $1 billion for violations of China’s antimonopoly law.

Although the US government has taken China to the WTO for violations of the WTO antidumping and countervailing agreement with regards to imports of chicken from the US and crows about its victories against China, on July 8th in response to the WTO decision China lowered its antidumping duties on broiler chicken products from the U.S. to between 46.6 and 73.8 percent. The high 46.6 to 73.8% rates mean that $1 billion in US chicken exports will continue to be kept out of the Chinese market.

China, however, is just taking its lead from the US Commerce Department, which when facing Chinese victories in the WTO, grudgingly moves antidumping and countervailing duty rates by only small amounts and has had antidumping orders against China excluding certain products from the US market for as long as 30 years.

But as indicated below in the comments of the US Senators and the testimony of Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steel Workers, and Mario Longhi, President of the United States Steel Corporation, in the June 25th Senate Finance Committee hearing, many Washington DC politicians want to be tough on China under intense pressure from US manufacturing companies and unions.  In fact, the US Steel Industry has had a massive impact on the trade policy of the United States, when the employment of the US Steel Industry is lower than one US high tech company.

In a July 7th report, however, Commerce announced that 796,000 US jobs are tied to exports of goods and services to China. What does that give the Chinese government when dealing with the United States on trade issues? What does the Chinese government get when many US companies want to get into the Chinese market?  Leverage.

As one former WTO official stated at a recent Washington DC trade conference, all of WTO law is built on reciprocity. What one country can do under the trade laws can be done back to that same country. When the US government throws trade stones at China, the Chinese government can throw trade stones back and those stones will hurt.

The problem with this trade war, however, is that it is expanding, and when trade wars expand, all sides loose not only economically.  In extreme situations, trade wars can provide a tinder box that can explode into military conflict.  Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail in both the United States and China and call off this trade war and create trade peace before a lot of companies and people in both countries get burned.

SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE HEARING—ENFORCEMENT OF US ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAWS—TRADE WAR GOES ON

Set forth below is a link to the June 25, 2014 hearing of the Senate Finance Committee in Washington DC.  The Senate Finance Committee is the most powerful trade committee in the US Congress.

This hearing will give you an idea of the political situation in Washington DC with regard to China. Move the buffering slider to minute 41 when the hearing starts. There is a recess in the hearing so you need to move the buffering slider to 1 hour 47 minutes when the hearing resumes.

http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=e2227102-5056-a032-5262-9d177c5f753f

During the Senate Finance Committee, Senators asked for aggressive trade enforcement in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, including Steel and in particular Oil Country Tubular Goods (“OCTG”), and against China. The Senators described the importance of the legislation they have introduced to stop transshipment and make sure that antidumping and countervailing duty laws are enforced.

The witnesses were US Steel, the Steel Union, the US Chicken and Soybean industries and Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical producer. The two most prominent witnesses at the Senate Finance Committee, however, were Leo Gerard, International President of the United Steel Workers (“USW”), and Mario Longhi, President of the United States Steel Corporation.  The USW has brought the OCTG antidumping and countervailing duty cases, started the Solar Cells/Clean Energy Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Cases, and brought the recent $2 billion antidumping and countervailing duty cases against Tires from China.  Mr. Gerard would proudly claim that the USW has brought antidumping and countervailing duty cases blocking billions of dollars in imports from China.

The hearing was stacked with US producers and a union complaining about China and other countries.  No US importers were allowed to testify and present the other side of the argument.  When Congress decides to listen to only one side of the trade argument and when there is no fair and balanced portrayal of the US China Trade Problems, the trade war simply gets worse and everyone loses.

The Witness for the US Soybean industry testified that the major world buyer for US soybeans and corn is China. The US Chicken industry pointed to the problem of the Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty cases against US Chicken exports.  Although the US Government “won” the Chicken AD and CVD cases in the WTO, as indicated below, the victory has resulted in antidumping rates falling only to 40%, still blocking $1 billion in US Chicken exports to China.

Senator Wyden, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, opened the Senate Finance Committee hearing by stating in the attached statement 06132014 Wyden Statement on the Need for Strong Trade Enforcement:

“Much of the recent debate in Congress over international trade has focused on agreements currently in the works, including the Trans Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. Not enough time is spent on the trade agreements already in place – have they created American jobs, have they boosted our economy, are they being effectively enforced?

While I intend for the Finance Committee to examine all aspects of U.S. trade policy, today it will focus on enforcement. Without strong enforcement, no trade deal – old or new – is able to live up to its potential for jobs and economic growth. And it becomes extraordinarily difficult to build support for new agreements. Foreign nations will continue locking American goods and services out of their markets.

And foreign companies that get unfair backing from their own governments will continue undercutting our manufacturers, farmers and ranchers, driving hard-working Americans out of businesses and out of their jobs. The latest tactics used by foreign nations and companies to skirt our trade rules seem like they’re ripped from the pages of crime and spy novels. They hide paper trails to make it harder to build cases in trade courts.

They intimidate witnesses, forcing American businesses to relocate factories or surrender intellectual property and threatening retaliation if they speak out against unlawful behavior. They even spy on our trade enforcers and companies to undermine efforts at holding them to the rules.  And after they’ve been caught breaking the rules, they engage in outright fraud to avoid punishment.  They play cat and mouse with customs authorities, using shell companies and fraudulent records to exploit weaknesses in our system.

The global economy is more interconnected than ever, which means there’s more at stake for American workers and businesses.  China, India, Brazil – the list of critical markets with serious enforcement challenges has grown.  As that process has played out, for example, currency manipulation has hit American workers and businesses harder than it did in previous decades – particularly when it comes to China.  Currency manipulation makes any product manufactured in the U.S. – any product – artificially expensive.  In effect, it’s a way for China to keep a finger planted on the scale, costing the U.S. jobs and making it harder to recover further from the Great Recession. . . .

The challenges of the modern, global economy simply do not always fit neatly within our aging enforcement system.  American trade enforcement needs to be brought into the 21st century.  For example, when the Chinese government gives its domestic solar companies massive subsidies, the U.S. needs to respond quickly and with all available resources.  In practice, the response took years, and was too little and too late to protect thousands of American jobs and home-grown technologies.  The Chinese solar companies had already crippled their American competitors.

That’s why a more effective enforcement authority is needed.  Better enforcement tools would identify and stop a problem more quickly before it costs American jobs.

The same goes for enforcement at our borders.  When fake tennis shoes or counterfeit computer chips arrive in the U.S., Customs often appears too focused on security rather than its trade mission.  This is especially damaging since foreign companies and governments are finding new ways to mask where products come from before they show up at our doorstep.  For example, Chinese companies avoid anti-dumping duties by routing merchandise through a place like Singapore before it heads to the U.S.  The schemes are becoming even more complex, sometimes involving shell companies that appear one day and disappear the next without leaving any paper trail.

The ENFORCE Act, bipartisan legislation I first introduced 2011, would mount a stronger defense against those practices.  It would set up a standardized process to move investigations forward, and it would establish better lines of communication between agencies to get information in the right hands.  It would also refocus Customs so that its trade mission doesn’t get short shrift.

Proper trade enforcement is an increasingly difficult job.  It takes time, and the fact is that it’s impossible to stand up a trade case in a single day.  But it’s essential for enforcement agencies to have the resources needed to do their jobs effectively.  Too often, when these cases lag, American workers are losing their jobs and businesses are closing their doors.  Succeeding in the global economy is already challenging enough; the U.S. cannot add to the difficulty by underfunding its enforcement efforts. . . .”

Republican Senator Hatch, the ranking member of the Senate Finance Committee, stated in the attached statement, 6.25.2014 Hatch State at Finance Committee Hearing on Trade Enforcement2:

“. . . .Some of the most important trade enforcement tools we have are U.S. safeguard, anti-dumping, and countervailing duty laws. For companies like U.S. Magnesium, which operates in Salt Lake City and Rowley, Utah, our trade laws are essential to their ability to compete against imports that unfairly benefit from foreign government interference in the market.

I want to ensure that these laws remain effective tools in our international trade arsenal.

That is one reason the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act which I introduced with former Senator Baucus in January includes – as a principle negotiating objective – a directive to preserve the ability of the United States to rigorously enforce our trade laws.

I also want effective trade enforcement at the border. That’s why I worked with Chairman Wyden to craft a version of the ENFORCE Act that gained unanimous bipartisan support in the Finance Committee. This bill provides new tools to help stop circumvention of our trade remedy laws. . . .

Senator Portman, when he was the U.S. Trade Representative, brought the first WTO dispute against China in which China was found to have breached its WTO commitments. Before that case, China was imposing restrictions on imports of U.S. auto parts that were harming U.S. companies and workers. By effectively employing the WTO dispute settlement system, we were able to get China to reverse course and remove those restrictions. As you can see, we have a system that works. . . .”

Leo W. Gerard, International President, United Steelworkers (“USW”), stated in the attached statement, GERARD 14 06 25 Testimony – Trade Enforcement Challenges and Opportunities2:

“USW members and non-union workers alike know firsthand the pain inflicted by foreign predatory, protectionist and unfair trade practices. In industry after industry, they have seen other nations target the U.S. market to fuel their own economic policies, to create jobs for their people and capture the dollars of our consumers. These practices have increasingly resulted in the downsizing of manufacturing and the loss of good family supportive jobs, as companies have offshored and outsourced their production.

The USW has been as successful as it can be in its efforts to counter unfair trade, but it’s a losing game. Indeed, the only way we win is by losing. Lost profits, lost jobs, closed factories, hollowed out communities – that is the price the trade laws demand to show sufficient injury to provide relief.  In the year or more it takes to bring a trade case and obtain relief, foreign companies can continue to flood the market.  By the time that relief may be provided, the industry is often a shadow of its former self, too many workers have lost their jobs and their families and the communities in which they live have paid a heavy, and often irrevocable, price. . . .

Today, more and more, we find that the USW has to go it alone. Our government should be taking more of the lead. While we appreciate what they are doing, it is far from sufficient.  And, let’s recognize that some of the most successful efforts, like the Section 421 case on tires, were because the USW initially brought the case. We’d vastly prefer that government do its job so our members can do their jobs. . . . This Administration has done more to improve our nation’s trade enforcement efforts since any Administration since the Reagan years. . . .

First, as many of the Members of the Committee know, the USW is fighting to ensure that the Department of Commerce carefully review the facts in the Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) case in which they issued a preliminary finding that imports from South Korea would not be subject to dumping margins. We believe this preliminary finding is flawed.  Indeed, Senators sent a letter to the Administration asking for a careful review and that effort was mirrored by more than one-third of the House joining in that call. . . .

The second issue, and a critical one, is the issue of currency manipulation.  China is the worst culprit, but other nations are following their lead.  China has been able to essentially subsidize its exports and tax imports into its market through currency cheating.  Everyone knows it. Every six months the Treasury Department issues a report saying that China isn’t doing the right thing, it’s not based on market principles but stops short of making the critical finding that would only require consultation.  This Administration and the last said that dialogue and engagement were the appropriate course to pursue. Some say that China is taking steps to bring its currency into equilibrium. They point to a widening of the trading bands.  Well, China’s currency is still dramatically undervalued and is a tool China uses to fuel its export-led growth strategy and limit imports into its market.

China makes small changes when political pressure rises here but then goes right back to business as usual. Some experts opine that asking China to do more will only destabilize its economy.  Well, I’m sick and tired of American workers and domestic industries having to pay the price for China’s trade and economic policies.  The time for talk is over.  If the Administration won’t act, Congress must prioritize passing legislation to give private parties the power to seek relief from China’s currency manipulation, or that of any other country.  Congress must not leave town for campaign season before passing this critical legislation.  If it can act earlier, great, but, at election time, this Congress will be judged by our members on whether they stood by their sides, or continued to allow China and others to cheat them out of their jobs and their futures. . . .

The USW is proud of its efforts in this area and has been public in commending the Administration for doing more than any previous Administration in making enforcement more important.  There have been real successes, like in the Section 421 case on Chinese tires.  But, much, much, much more needs to be done.  And, we can never let up.  Right after relief ended under the Section 421, China resumed flooding our market with tires – dumped and subsidized tires.  Just a few weeks ago, the USW filed an AD/CVD case against Chinese tires which have increased from about 24 million units to more than 50 million.  Their market share has doubled.  During that period, domestic production has gone down as China captured all of the market growth, and then some. . . .

Just eliminating the data or changing how it’s reported doesn’t change the facts, no matter how hard people try. Too much of our production is being offshored or outsourced and our trade laws aren’t doing enough to ensure that the rules are fair.

Another critical issue is simply using the words and actions of our trading partners to identify what they’re up to. Sometimes, of course, it’s difficult to discern or identify what they’re up to. But, in many cases, they are quite open about it. China is way ahead of others on this point.  It has published its 12th Five Year Plan which clearly indicates what its priorities are and what it intends to do. It announced that it will spend $1.5 trillion to achieve those goals.  It has developed lists of national champions and strategic sectors that it will support. It has many other open source documents identifying technological roadmaps, performance stands, export credits in violation of OECD standards and countless other programs.

Why don’t we take them at their word? Why aren’t we taking those lists and determining what our interests are.

A perfect example was identified by the New York Times just last week. In the past several years, the U.S. has indicated that it wants to phase-out the use of incandescent lighting in the U.S. and move towards more energy-efficient technologies like LEDs. China has taken this technology, developed by the U.S., and created a mammoth production base to try and fill their own needs, and those of others around the globe. They are building up extensive capacity and can soon be expected to flood the U.S. and world markets with these products that will probably be sold at dumped and subsidized prices.

Yet, no one acts. Isn’t it time we took trade seriously and did more to build public confidence that trade agreements are in their interest rather than just pathways for companies to outsource and offshore production?

ENFORCEMENT

There’s a reason that trade agreements and topics like fast track are viewed so negatively by the public. Trade isn’t working for them.

The Steelworkers have taken action where we can and are proud that we have been the single-leading force in seeking to have trade rules properly enforced and that the terms of trade are fair.  Since 2000, we have filed or supported dozens of cases. Among them are:

Section 201 safeguard action on steel.

Coated free sheet paper cases.

Section 301 action against Chinese currency manipulation.

Section 301 action on Chinese workers’ rights violations.

Section 301 case on Chinese protectionist and predatory actions on green technology.

Identification of Chinese predatory trade practices in the auto parts sector.

Section 421 case on Chinese tires.

Oil Country Tubular Goods antidumping case.

We do not look at filing trade cases as a sign of success: Far from it. Under our trade laws, there has to be injury, often significant injury or threat of injury, before any relief might be offered.  In essence, we win by losing.

A perfect example of this is the coated free sheet paper trade problem.  The USW filed a case and, while dumping was found, the injury was determined not to be significant enough for relief.  Several years later, we filed essentially the same case but, by that time, more than 7,000 workers had lost their jobs, capacity was shut down and companies were on the brink.

Relief was provided and many of the remaining workers have their jobs as a result.  But, a substantial portion of the industry will never come back.

These cases are difficult to bring and expensive to pursue.  There are countless issues that must be addressed and, these days, many companies refuse to participate.  Some refuse because they have offshored their production, abandoning the U.S. market and want to protect the subsidized and dumped products they now sell in the U.S. that they use to make here.

Other companies are worried about retaliation.  Several years ago, in a sector that will remain nameless, an antidumping/subsidy case was being prepared that the Chinese found out about. The Chinese government called in the managers of foreign-invested enterprises operating in China in the sector and indicated that, if a case went forward, those companies’ operating permits would be revoked.  None of those companies, of course, dared come forward.

Under our trade laws, if a company refuses to provide data, it may be tough to develop the information needed to pass the injury test.  So, as companies become more globalized, the workers, families and communities who are at risk from foreign predatory and protectionist trade practices may find that they have no recourse.

Those standards underlying how a trade enforcement case can be brought, who has standing, and other intricacies of the law need to be updated. For example, state and local governments should be given standing under our trade laws as participants. Often, the only entity that has standing under the trade law that actually cares about jobs in America are workers and their representatives. That’s why the USW is the lead on so many cases.

But, state and local governments also care whether their local plants are being victimized by unfair trade. They should have the ability to be petitioners in trade cases. And certainly, necessary information must be made available to injured parties and not kept secret behind corporate walls.

There are many other issues which the trade bar is working on deserving serious consideration by this Committee and the Congress. It’s time to update our laws as they haven’t been seriously reviewed in more than 25 years. And, it’s vital that Congress recognize the damage that unfairly priced and traded imports have had all across this country.

Importers don’t care whether America makes anything, they only care about the profits they can make from the products they sell. It’s important to view all of these changes by asking the question: “Whose side are you on?” . . .

Unfortunately, too many companies scour the globe looking for the cheapest place to produce, even it means despoiling the environment or trampling on workers’ rights. Proper enforcement of workers’ rights helps create opportunity, helps ensure a growing middle class, helps reduce the economic divide and, indeed, promotes greater trade.”

Mario Longhi President, United States Steel Corporation stated in the attached statement, US STEEL CORP Longhi Testimony – Senate Finance Committee – 06.23.141:

“The approach and manner in which foreign companies are dumping thousands of tons of products into the U.S. market leads business leaders such as me to conclude that American steel companies are being targeted for elimination. . . .

Mr. Chairman, your leadership in introducing the ENFORCElegislation is most welcomed. We concur that the Customs and Border Protection Agency should be empowered and strengthened to take swift action when dumping or countervailing duty orders are evaded through transshipment, misclassification, misreporting, or outright falsification of import documents. This should be one of many tools in our trade toolbox. . . .Unfortunately Mr. Chairman, this is not the world in which we operate.

According to the United States Trade Representative, there are currently 56 pending antidumping (AD) and countervailing (CVD) cases, of which 73% involve steel products. There are 117 existing AD and CVD cases, of which 40% involve steel related products. . . . At any given time, our industry is pursuing over 30 active anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases against an ever-growing list of foreign competitors who are supported – tacitly or openly – by their own governments. . . .

In 2013, almost 150,000 jobs were directly attributed to the steel industry. Within the value chain, it is estimated that more than 1 million jobs are steel-related jobs.  So when our industry is harmed, so too are the local vendors, markets, restaurants, dry cleaners, and other local service providers, schools and community organizations.

Let me illustrate for you how this harm occurs. . . . A year ago, U. S. Steel and other domestic Oil Country Tubular Goods (OCTG) producers filed a trade case against nine countries based on the enormous 113-percent increase of imported OCTG products into this market between 2010-2012. Primarily South Korean companies are the main violators, but companies from India, Vietnam, Turkey and several other countries also dump very significant volumes. . . .

China tried to do the same thing in 2008. We fought and won an OCTG dumping case in 2009, but not before many facilities were idled, thousands of steelworkers lost their jobs, and our communities and our families sustained significant and long-lasting injury.  After we won the case, Chinese producers essentially abandoned the U.S. OCTG market, a clear sign that they could not compete when the playing field was leveled.

As the American economy and our energy demands rebounded, American steel companies spent billions of dollars to improve OCTG facilities across the country. In the past 5 years, U. S. Steel spent more than $2.1 billion across our facilities, $200 million on new facilities at our Lorain Tubular Operations in the last two years alone. However, the respite for the OCTG industry from illegally dumped products was short-lived.  Foreign producers quickly seized this opportunity and began flooding our market.

The only difference between 2009 and today is that South Korean and other foreign OCTG producers are cleverer.  South Korean companies are effectively targeting our market since they do not sell this product in their own home market or (in substantial volumes) to other nation.  Over 98% of what is produced in South Korea is exported directly to the U.S.

Earlier this year, the Department of Commerce issued disappointing preliminary findings that failed to recognize and punish illegally dumped South Korean products. After decades of dumping practice, it appears that these companies have learned to circumvent our trade laws and illegally dump massive amounts of steel products in this market with ease and agility.

So it is not surprising that in advance of the impending final decision by the Department of Commerce, last month, the total OCTG imports hit a high of 431,866 net tons, a 77.4% percent change year/year. The South Koreans exported to the U.S. nearly 214,000 net tons of OCTG in May, an increase from the monthly average of 27,000 net tons in the prior 12 months. They are trying to dump as much product as they can before the final ruling.  The South Korean gamesmanship of our system of laws is disquieting. Their efforts are unchecked and repugnantly effective. . . .”

Kevin J. Brosch, the National Chicken Council in the attached statement, NCC Senate Finance Testimony 062514:

“. . . .The U.S. is the most efficient producer of poultry products in the world. U.S. production value in 2013 was $30.7 billion. We are the world’s second largest exporter, only narrowly behind Brazil, and in 2013 we exported nearly 20% of our total volume of production, with an export value of more than $4.7 billion. U.S. poultry is our 6th most important agricultural export, with product being exported to nearly 100 countries each year. It has also been an important growth sector for U.S. agriculture with exports increasing from 5.2% of production volume in 1990, to nearly 20% in 2013. . . .

In specifically addressing the issue of enforcement, I should begin by thanking the Obama Administration for a very significant and recent success. China is the best example we can point to of vigorous and timely trade enforcement.  In 2009, China imposed antidumping duties on U.S. chicken using the so-called “weight-based cost of production” theory. . . . Immediately after China announced its decision to impose antidumping duties, the Obama Administration requested dispute settlement, and aggressively litigated the case before the WTO. Last summer a WTO panel ruled in our favor. China elected not to appeal that decision and we are currently awaiting China’s announcement of how it will change its antidumping decision to come into compliance with WTO rules. Hopefully, China will act in good faith and honor its WTO commitments, but there are no assurances.  . . . .

(Even with USTR’s efforts, the China case cost U.S. industry millions of dollars in legal fees to pursue). China represented a 700,000 MT market for U.S. poultry at the time the antidumping duties were imposed, and is potentially an even larger market for our products in the future. We have been out of the market now for several years, and hope that China will lift its restrictions now that an international legal panel has ruled against it.  In our view, the prosecution of the China antidumping case before the WTO represents U.S. trade policy at its best; enforcing those trade rights we have already negotiated for. . . .”

Richard Wilkins, Treasurer of the American Soybean Association, stated in the attached statement, Statement on Trade Enforcement for Biotech Exports:

“I would like to return to my earlier comment on the importance of China as a market for U.S. biotech commodities and products. China is by far the largest buyer of U.S. soybeans, importing over one-fourth of our annual production. The Department of Agriculture forecasts that China will also become the world’s largest corn importer by 2020. U.S. agriculture is a long-term committed partner in working with China to meet its food security needs. . . .

It is critically important for the Administration to engage the Government of China at the highest level to reach a mutually beneficial understanding on trade in biotech commodities.”

TRADE DEFICIT DECLINES AS US EXPORTS INCREASE AND US JOBS SUPPORTED BY US EXPORTS TO CHINA RISE TO 796,000

As the Congress continues to bash China and listen to the Steel Union and US Steel, statistics show a much different story. On July 7, 2014, the Commerce Department announced the US trade deficit had dropped to $44 billion “bolstered by record high exports of a broad swath of consumer goods and services such as telecommunications, car parts and travel”. In effect, the trade deficit had dropped 5.6 percent drop from a $47 billion gap in April as US exports hit a record $195.5 billion.

U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker said that the numbers show the economy is growing healthier because “Today’s strong export numbers are yet another sign that more American businesses are seizing the opportunity to sell their world-class products and services to the 95 percent of consumers who live outside the United States.”

Where are those exports going? China.  According to the attached July 7th Report issued by the Commerce “ Jobs Supported by Export Destination 2013”, COMMERCE TRADE JOBS China is number 3 for US export destinations behind Canada and Mexico. The US jobs created by US exports of goods to China are 796, 000 (588,000 goods and 207,000 services) with Japan at 605,000 and United Kingdom at 587,000.

Although many Government officials apparently do not seem to understand this simple fact, the premise of this blog is that Trade is a two way street. Although many officials and political leaders at the Washington DC level want to continually criticize China, many local US government officials want the US companies to continue exporting to China and want Chinese investment in their towns, cities and states.

WTO RULES AGAINST THE US IN COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AGAINST CHINA

On July 14, 2014, in the attached decision and summary, PANEL REPORT SUMMARY the WTO upheld China’s claims that certain US countervailing duty cases against China were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement. The dispute involves 17 Commerce Department countervailing duty investigations against China on approximately $7.2 billion dollars of imported products, such as solar panels; wind towers; thermal paper; coated paper; tow-behind lawn groomers; kitchen shelving; steel sinks; citric acid; magnesia carbon bricks; pressure pipe; line pipe; seamless pipe; steel cylinders; drill pipe; oil country tubular goods; wire strand; and aluminum extrusions.

The WTO decision states that with regard to 12 countervailing duty investigations that the United States acted inconsistently because it found that certain state-owned enterprises were public bodies or government entities and thus the sales of certain raw material inputs by these companies, in effect, were subsidized by the Chinese government. The WTO recommended that the US bring its decisions in line with the WTO Agreement. The WTO ruled for China in certain cases and against China in certain cases so it is something of a mixed result.

Also the WTO determined that Commerce “improperly found that the alleged provision of goods for less than adequate remuneration conferred a benefit upon the recipient, and improperly calculated the amount of any benefit allegedly conferred, including. . . its erroneous findings that prevailing market conditions in China were “distorted” as the basis for rejecting actual transaction prices in China as benchmarks in certain investigations.”

Since China is considered a nonmarket economy country, Commerce in countervailing duty cases against China refuses to look at free market bench markets for interest rates or other prices in China. In one case, which was overturned in part by the WTO, to value dirty factory land in Shandong, China Commerce used the value of land for a shopping center in Thailand.

As a result, the WTO Panel recommended that the United States should bring its measures into conformity with its obligations under the WTO Agreement. What does the WTO decision mean and what impact will it have on future countervailing duty cases against China. The answer is not much.

Just like the response of the Chinese government to the WTO’s decision in the Chicken case, Commerce will make a few changes to its methodology and explain its decision more, but there will be no real change to past or future countervailing duty cases against China.

Also the impact of this WTO decision on US methodology in future Countervailing duty (“CVD”) cases against China is not clear yet because this panel decision will be reviewed by the WTO Appellate Body, which has frequently overturned panel decisions in trade remedy cases. Just like the Chinese chicken case, any change in methodology still means that the US government will issue CVD rates against China. Those rates will just decline a little.

On July 18, 2014, in the attached statement, MOFCOM STATE MOFCOM Minister Hucheng Gao stated in response to the WTO decision on US CVD cases:

“The United States abusive use of trade remedy measures severely impaired the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese enterprises. . . .I strongly urge the United States to confront its long-standing systematic violations of the WTO rules through its trade remedy related legislations and practices, to implement the rulings of the WTO Dispute Settlement Body in good faith, to correct its abusive use of the trade remedy rules in a timely and complete fashion, and to strive to become a role model who abides by the rules strictly, rather than a negative influence who breaches the rules . . . .

The economic and trade relations between China and the United States are the ballast stone and engine of overall China-U.S. ties.”

SOLAR CASES

On June 3, 2014, Commerce issued its preliminary countervailing duty determination against China in the Solar Products case. The fact sheet and preliminary Federal Register notice are attached to the last post on my blog. The Countervailing Duty Rates range from 18.56% for Trina to 35.21% for Wuxi Suntech and all other Chinese companies getting 26.89%. The Antidumping Preliminary determinations against China and Taiwan are not due to come out until July 24th.

The Scope issue, what specific products are covered by this decision, is simply not clear yet. On May 30, 2014, two US senators sent the attached letter to Commerce, SENATOR LETTER, specifically requesting that Commerce come up with the correct “scope” determination and not to change past definitions. In other words, the two Senators request the Department to “preserve” the existing country of origin standard, which means that the country of origin of the solar cell would determine the country of origin of the module and panel. The Commerce Department’s July 3rd response, however, was noncommittal.

In the letter, however, the two Senators acknowledged, “While we hope that: a negotiated settlement can be reached between the affected parties, the Chinese government, and our government, that is not a likely outcome at this point.” Under the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Law, since there is no public interest test, the petitioner, SolarWorld, would ultimately have to agree to any settlement/suspension agreement reached between the U.S. and China.

Thus on June 24th in a letter to 23 Congressmen, Solar World pushed back on Congressional efforts to obtain a settlement agreement and responded to a May 28 letter by 23 House members to President Obama urging him to broker a unified position among elements of the solar industry that “remove existing trade restrictions.”

One route to settling a trade remedy case is a suspension agreement, but SolarWorld said that there is no active discussion of that option now.  On July 1st Solar World filed a letter at Commerce urging it to probe the trade implications of alleged cyber espionage by the Chinese military involving the company. So this case is not going to Agreement any time soon.

OCTG

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

In the Chinese antidumping case on US Chicken, the US government complained that China used a “weight based cost of production” theory to calculate US antidumping rates.  But at least the Chinese government used actual prices and costs in the United States to calculate US antiduping rates, not like the US Commerce Department, which refuses to even use actual prices and costs in China to calculate antidumping rates for Chinese companies.

But as indicated above in the testimony of Mr. Gerrard of the USW Workers, China was replaced by imports from Korea, Taiwan, India and many other countries. So USW and US Steel filed antidumping and countervailing duty cases against those countries. But in the preliminary dumping determination against Korea and other countries, when Commerce had to use actual prices and costs in Korea and other countries to calculate antidumping and countervailing duty rates, what antidumping rates did Commerce come up with? 0s for Korea, 0 to 2.65 for Taiwan, 0 for one producer in India, 2.92% for Saudi Arabia and 8.9% for Philippines.

As indicated above, however, the USW and US Steel through the Congress put immense political pressure on Commerce to change its preliminary determination, especially with regards to Korea. With regards to OCTG, however, one should understand that the first OCTG cases were filed in the early 1980s against Korea and other countries followed by additional cases in the mid-1990s. Since Korea has been a target of OCTG cases in the past and since Commerce must use actual prices and costs in Korea to determine whether the companies are dumping, one can expect that Korean OCTG producers will monitor their prices and costs very closely to make sure that they are not dumping. When foreign companies are in market economy countries, where Commerce must use actual prices and costs in those countries to determine dumping, foreign companies can use computer programs to make sure that they are not dumping.

Thus it is not surprising that Commerce calculated 0% dumping rates for Korea in the OCTG preliminary determination. But with very substantial Congressional pressure on the Commerce Department, as suspected, Commerce came out with an affirmative antidumping determination in the Korea case.

On July 11, 2014, in the attached decision, factsheet-multiple-OCTG-ad-cvd-final-071114, Commerce issued its final determination pushing Korea’s AD rate to 9.89 to 15.75%, Taiwan 0 to2.52%, Saudi Arabia 2.69%, Philippines 9.88%, Ukraine 6.73% and an India CVD rate from 5 to 19%.

The point, however, is that these are not shut out rates, and in contrast to China, all of these countries will continue to export OCTG steel products to the United States in substantial quantities.

On July 15th at the US International Trade Commission’s (“ITC”) injury hearing, 4 US Senators testified about the importance of the ITC reaching an affirmative injury determination in the case.

TIRES

As mentioned in my last newsletter, on June 3, 2014, the USW union filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case aimed at $2 billion in imports of automobile and truck tires from China. The case is specifically described as Certain Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires from the People’s Republic of China. A short form of the petition is attached to my last post on this blog.

At the end of June Commerce postponed the initiation of the case so it could survey the US industry because of standing concerns. But on July 15, 2014, the Commerce initiated the antidumping and countervailing duty investigations. See the attached fact sheet.  DOC Tires Initiation Fact Sheet

With the 20 day postponement, however, fully extended out, the Commerce Department preliminary countervailing duty determination will come out as soon as November 20, 2014, exposing the US importers to liability for Chinese tire imports, followed by the antidumping preliminary determination on January 19, 2015.

On July 16, 2014, the Commerce Department issued the the quantity and value questionnaire for Chinese companies, which is due August 1, 2014 at Commerce.  prc-qvq-tires-071614.  See also the attached separate rate application for Chinese companies.  prc-sr-app-20140429

On July 22, 2014, the ITC issued a preliminary injury determination in the case. See the attached announcement. ITC AFFIRMATIVE PRELIMINARY. The ITC will issue its formal determination and opinions to Commerce on August 1, 2014.

ACTIVATED CARBON

On June 24, 2014, in the attached decision, Jacobi Carbons et al. v. United States, the Court of International Trade affirmed the Commerce Department in the Activated Carbon fourth administrative review investigation.  ACTIVATED CARBON CIT

WOODFLOORING

In the Woodflooring case, there have been two Court decisions, not favorable to the respondents.

On July 14, 2014, in the attached decision, Changzhou Hawd Flooring Co. v. United States, the Court of International Trade rejected an attempt by a number of Chinese separate rate companies to participate in the appeal of the initial investigation. During the appeal, it became apparent that the Chinese separate rate companies might have an opportunity to obtain a 0% dumping rate and be completely excluded from the case.  CHANGQHOU HAWD FLOORING

On July 16, 2014, in attached decision, Swiff Train v. United States, the Court of International Trade affirmed the International Trade Commission in its injury determination stating that it had made a “but for” determination in the injury remand determination.  SWIFF TRAIN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the story continues . . . .

On June 27, 2014, it was reported that there were still many tough issues outstanding in the TPP talks, including Agriculture, especially with Japan. Japan’s commitment to full tariff elimination in the agricultural sector appears to be very weak. Questions remain whether Japan will ever fully open its sensitive food sectors such as beef, pork, wheat, rice and dairy. There are warnings that the bilateral struggles between the U.S. and Japan have had ripple effects with other TPP partners using the impasse to hold off on tabling their best market access offers, not only for agriculture but also for other areas as well. In addition, the failure to pass the TPA has made it more difficult for the US trade negotiators to get a better deal.

Apparently the gaps between the US and Japanese negotiators on agricultural products are very wide. The U.S. had demanded that Japan’s beef and pork tariffs be lowered as close to zero as possible, and as a trade-off to accept low tariff rates. Japan has floated the idea of allowing it to activate safeguard measures that would trigger sharply higher tariffs for an extended period when import quantities reach certain thresholds, while the US position remains the same.

On July 9th seven House Democratic Congressmen, Rep. George Miller (D.-Calif.), Reps. Rosa DeLauro (Conn.), Louise Slaughter (N.Y.), Loretta Sanchez (Calif.), Mark Pocan (Wis.), Donna Edwards (Md.) and Peter DeFazio (Ore.) questioned whether Congress should grant the administration trade promotion authority (TPA)—particularly in light of what they called a lack of transparency during the talks.

The Democrats argued that an Administration deadline to conclude the TPP talks by the Nov APEC meeting was simply unrealistic because there are too many issues that must be resolved before a TPP agreement would win congressional approval.

On July 15th it was reported that Japan and the US had been able to narrow the gaps in negotiations on agricultural products, specifically rice, beef and pork, dairy, wheat and sugar—as well as safeguards.

On July 16th, it was reported that Deputy USTR Mike Punke spoke at a hearing of the House Ways and Means stating: “We agree with those who say that TPA needs to be updated and we look forward to working with this committee and Congress as a whole to secure a TPA that has as broad bipartisan support as possible.” Punke also stated: “We are very committed to getting TPA. I think Ambassador Froman has practically camped up here over the course of the last six weeks in terms of the outreach that he’s done personally.”

On July 17, 2014, at a Senate Finance Committee hearing about Technology and Trade, http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=565ec6a8-5056-a032-526e-77a13f9f56e5, Republican Senator Orin Hatch, the Ranking Member, spoke about the importance of the TPA and the Enforce Act.

On July 17th, all Republican members of the House Ways and Means Committee sent the attached letter, HOUSE REPS WAYS MEANS, to USTR Froman urging the Administration to build support for Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and directing the Administration not to complete the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) before TPA is enacted into law. In the letter, the Members stated:

“We are strong supporters of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. . . .While progress has been made in the TPP negotiations, there is a long way to go to finalize an acceptable deal. Therefore, we were surprised when the President recently announced an ambitious timeline for completing the TPP negotiations, potentially by November, without mentioning how he would ensure the enactment into law of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) before concluding TPP negotiations. TPA must be enacted into law before the President completes TPP for two important reasons.

First, TPA shows our trading partners that the U.S. government speaks with one voice. Without TPA, the Administration simply is not in the strongest position in its negotiations with our trading partners. That means that any agreement reached cannot be the best agreement obtainable for American workers, farmers, and businesses. The positions that many of our trading partners are taking in the negotiations are unacceptable, demonstrating that the Administration has not yet been able to achieve the necessary market access and rules outcomes to ensure a successful TPP negotiation. We believe that if the Administration were negotiating with the authority of TPA, it would be able to achieve a stronger agreement worthy of Congressional support.

Second, the Administration negotiates trade agreements under a delegation of authority from the Congress. TPA is the process by which Congress gives the Administration that authority and sets out negotiating objectives, strengthening and reinforcing the consultative relationship between Congress and the Administration. Concluding TPP or any major trade agreement without TPA undermines the Constitutional role of Congress over trade policy. Only Administrations that work closely with Congress and make it an equal partner in the negotiations are successful in passing and implementing trade deals.

Because of the critical importance of TPA in ensuring a successful outcome in the TPP negotiations, we will not support TPP if the agreement, even an agreement in principle, is completed before TPA is enacted. Once TPA is enacted, we will have laid the necessary groundwork to bring to conclusion a solid TPP agreement that will pass Congressional muster, and we will work with you to achieve this goal. Congress will not approve a TPP agreement that does not meet the objectives Congress first establishes through TPA. Therefore, TPA is the key to achieving the outcome we all want to see.

We call on the Administration to continue to push our trading partners to improve upon their current offers in the TPP negotiations. At the same time, we call for the entire Administration, including the President, to immediately and fully engage with the House, the Senate, and stakeholders to achieve enactment of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act (H.R. 3830) well before the end of 2014. Progress should continue with our TPP partners even as we work domestically with you and the President now to build support for- and ultimately pass TPA.”

CHINA ANTIDUMPING

CHICKEN

On July 8, 2014, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) announced that as a result of a WTO decision it would lower anti-dumping and countervailing duties on U.S. chicken imports to between 46.6 and 73.8 percent for producers like Tyson Foods Inc. and Butterfield Foods Co.

Under the previous anti-dumping duty orders, MOFCOM levied rates ranging from 50.3 to 53.4 percent for U.S. producers who responded to its investigation, while assigning an “all others” duty rate of 105.4 percent.

As for countervailing duties, MOFCOM said it would lower CVD rates between 4 and 4.2 percent from 4 to 12.5 percent with an “all others” rate of 30.3 percent

The duties were imposed in 2010 and two years later, in August 2013, a WTO panel sided with the US.

Although MOFCOM lowered the rates, the rates will still shut out most US chicken from China. As a result of the MOFCOM decisions on US chicken, U.S. exports of chicken to China have fallen 90 percent over the past four years, costing US chicken exporters an estimated $1 billion after China imposed the high antidumping duties in 2010.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

LOOM KITS

On July 1, 2014 Choon’s Design Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against imports of certain loom kits for creating linked articles against China respondents:. Wangying of China, Yiwu Mengwang Craft & Art Factory of China; Shenzhen Xuncent Technology Co., Ltd of China; Hong Kong Haoguan Plastic Hardware Co., and Itcoolnomore of China.  See the attached ITC notice.  LOOM KITS

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

On June 26, 2014, Orlando Communications filed the attached complaint for patent infringement against Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Huawei Technologies USA, Inc., Huawei Device USA, Inc. and T-Mobile US, Inc.ORLANDO HUAWEI

On July 9, 2014, Charles C. Freeny III, Bryan E. Freeny and James P. Freeny filed the attached complaint for patent infringement against ZTE (USA) Inc.  Freeney ZTE complaint

On July 9, 2014, Charles C. Freeny III, Bryan E. Freeny and James P. Freeny filed the attached complaint against Huawei Device USA, Inc. for patent infringement.  Freeny v Huawei complaint

PRODUCTS LIABILITY–DRYWALL

On July 17, 2014 in the attached Drywall Products liability case, 7-17-14 Taishan contempt In Re: Chinese Manufactured Drywall Products Liability Litigation, US Federal Judge Eldon E. Fallon in Louisiana barred a Chinese manufacturer from doing business in the U.S. until it shows up in court to answer questions about its failure to pay a $2.7 million default judgment in multidistrict litigation over defective drywall, holding the company in both civil and criminal contempt.  Taishan Gypsum Co. Ltd. must also cover $15,000 in attorneys’ fees for the plaintiffs in the case and pay a $40,000 fine, and should the company defy the injunction, it will get hit with another penalty equaling 25 percent of its annual profits.

As Judge Fallon states in the attached order:

“From 2005 to 2008 a housing boom coincided with the destruction caused by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita to sharply increase the demand for construction materials in the Gulf South and East Coast.  In response, Chinese companies manufactured, and sold to homeowners throughout the United States, considerable quantities of gypsum wallboard which came to be known as “Chinese drywall.” Homeowners experienced problems with the drywall. Specifically, the drywall emits various sulfide gases, damages structural mechanical and plumbing systems of the home, and damages other appliances in the home. The affected parties sued the entities involved in the manufacturing, importing, and installing the Chinese drywall. The cases multiplied and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (“MDL”), declared the matter an MDL and transferred the cases to this Court. After a period of discovery, it became clear that there were two principal manufacturers, (1) the Knauf Entities, and (2) the Taishan Entities. There are four cases in particular in which Taishan Entities have been served (via international means at the Hague, costing at least $100,000 per service of process).  . . . Defendant. Taishan refused to participate in any of these proceedings.   . . .so such judgment has become final and enforceable.  In order to execute the judgment, Plaintiffs moved for a Judgment Debtor Examination. The Court ordered Taishan to appear in open court on the morning of July 17 . . .Taishan failed to appear . . . has refused to appear in open court for the Examination.

As a consequence of Taishan’s refusal to appear at this Judgement Debtor Examination, in direct, willful violation of this Court’s June 20, 2014 order, the Court holds Taishan in contempt of court, both criminally and civilly. This refusal to appear is a direct contemptuous act occurring in open court after actual notice of the proceedings. Such disobedience of the Court’s order harms both the many other parties in this case and the decorum of the Court. Due to the “affront to the Court’s dignity [that] is[] widely observed,” it is necessary to summarily punish Taishan’s contempt. . . .

In punishing Taishan’s contempt, the Court “has broad discretion in assessing sanctions to protect the sanctity of its decrees and the legal process.” . . . In this massive suit, the harm from Taishan’s noncompliance is high and requires strong sanctions to coerce compliance and restore integrity to these proceedings. . . .

IT IS FURTHER ORDERED that Taishan, and any of its affiliates or subsidiaries, is hereby ENJOINED from conducting any business in the United States until or unless it participates in this judicial process. If Taishan violates this injunction, it must pay a further penalty of 25% of the profits earned by the company or its affililates who violate the order, for the year of the violation. . . .”

Lead counsel for the plaintiffs vowed to trace the company’s funds through its banks and make sure that the 4,000 homeowners involved in the litigation receive money to remediate their houses, which he said will cost between $200,000 and $300,000 per home. Levin added that the plaintiffs will also go after Taishan’s parent corporations, one of which, CNBM Group, is allegedly controlled by the Chinese government.

COMPLAINTS

On July 15, 2014, Vincent Dondson filed the attached products liability case against Beijing Capital Tire Company, Ltd. and World Wide Distribution Inc.  BEIJING TIRES CASE

CFIUS—CHINESE INVESTMENT IN THE US

On July 15, 2014, the Federal DC Circuit Court of Appeals in the attached Ralls Corp. v. Committee on Foreign Investments (“CFIUS”), RALLS VS CFIUS issued a very surprising decision reversing the Presidential/CFIUS decision to invalidate Ralls and a Chinese company’s attempt to acquire four Oregon wind firms that were close to a US military base on national security grounds.

There is a presumption that Presidential decisions with regard to foreign policy are given deference by the court, so it is unusual for the Court to overturn a Presidential decision, such as this decision by CFIUS. The president was first granted the authority to block proposed deals in the name of national security by the Exon-Florio Amendment in 1988.

The DC Circuit overturned the CFIUS decision on due process procedural grounds:

“In sum, we conclude that the Presidential Order deprived Ralls of constitutionally protected property interests without due process of law. We remand to the district court with instructions that Ralls be provided the requisite process set forth herein, which should include access to the unclassified evidence on which the President relied and an opportunity to respond thereto. . . . Should disputes arise on remand––such as an executive privilege claim––the district court is well-positioned to resolve them.”

Appeal is likely, either through a petition for en banc review or a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The CFIUS review process, however, has been described as a black box into which foreign investors feed information, only to get out a yes or no answer with no way of appealing the decision. The DC Circuit’s decision, however, will require the President and CFIUS at a minimum to explain why the decision was made and grant the company respondent access to the unclassified evidence used to come to that decision and give the company an opportunity to rebut the evidence.

GENERAL LITIGATION–CONTRACT

On July 18, 2014, in the attached complaint Saint Jean Industries Inc. filed a breach of contract case against ZF Chassis Components LLC, ZF Lemforder and ZF Lemforder Shanghai Chassistech Co.  ZF CHASSIS SHANGHAI

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C AND AUO OPTRONICS

On July 8, 2014 the Plaintiffs, US Purchasers of Vitamin C products, filed the attached brief, VITAMIN C PLAINTIFFS BRIEF 2ND CIRCUIT, urging the Second Circuit to reject the arguments in their briefs by the two Chinese companies and the Ministry of Commerce to overturn the $153 million jury award against them over price-fixing claims. Plaintiffs argued that the Chinese companies lack any evidence they were compelled to fix prices by the Chinese government. The purchasers argued that no Chinese law required any alleged co-conspirator to fix prices at high levels for vitamin C imported into the U.S.

As the Brief states:

“Regardless of the proper interpretation of Chinese law in this case, the facts as determined by the jury. . . showed that no entity, governmental or not governmental, acted to compel the conduct at issue here; rather, the jury found Appellants liable for their own voluntary conduct. . . .

The district court afforded deference to statements by the Ministry, and properly determined that Appellants did not meet their burden to prove the Chinese government compelled them to violate the Sherman Act as a matter of law. The jury had an ample evidentiary basis to conclude that the Chinese government did not compel Appellants’ cartel agreements as a factual matter. . . .

NCPG is liable for participating in the price-fixing conspiracy. The district court properly exercised personal jurisdiction over NCPG because NCPG participated in the vitamin C conspiracy targeting the United States. The “effect” of NCPG’s participating in price-fixing meetings in China, which caused buyers in the U.S. to purchase vitamin C at inflated prices, is sufficient to establish minimum contacts with New York. And the district court properly held that Appellees presented sufficient evidence for the jury to conclude that NCPG participated in the cartel.

The litigation dates back to 2005 and 2006, when the vitamin C purchasers began accusing Chinese manufacturers and their affiliates of taking part in an illegal cartel to fix prices and limit supply for exports. In March 2013 a jury determined that NCPG and HeBei met with competitors between December 2001 and June 2006 to coordinate pricing in China’s vitamin C industry, awarding the plaintiffs $54.1 million. Judge Cogan later trebled the damages, pushing the companies’ liability to $162.3 million.”

U.S. District Court Judge Brian Cogan refused to throw out the case based on MOFCOM’s argument of the so-called foreign sovereign compulsion defense that the Chinese government compelled the Chinese companies to set the export price.  In MOFCOM’s April brief to the 2nd Circuit, which was posted on my May blog post, the Ministry argued that the District Court’s decision should be thrown out because of the failure to defer to the Chinese government’s interpretation of Chinese law.

In the attached brief, the Plaintiffs responded:

“The Ministry and Appellants ask this Court to find Appellants immune from antitrust liability, despite a trial on the merits, because the Ministry says so. But no matter what level of deference is accorded to the Ministry’s statements concerning Chinese law, under Rule 44.1 this Court must determine itself whether that law provides a defense to claims of damages under the Sherman Act. . . .

The extent of deference sought by the Ministry in this case is breathtaking. The deference is not limited to how a regulation should be read, but seeks to include what factually happened, i.e., whether the Ministry or the Chamber actually exercised any compulsion.

For its current position, the Ministry ignores the contrary positions that the Chinese government has taken with the WTO, namely that in 2002 it gave up “export administration . . . of vitamin C. . . . .

The predicate for application of the act of state doctrine only exists when the suit “requires the Court to declare invalid . . . the official act of a foreign sovereign.” . . . . This Court need not declare invalid any official act of the Chinese government because (as the district court and the jury found) there was no official act of the Chinese government compelling Appellants’ actions. As the district court explained: “Chinese laws themselves were not placed on trial. Rather, the jury was only required to determine whether the Chinese government acted, not the propriety of its actions. . . .

Defendants that engage in antitrust conspiracies that affect a forum state have established the requisite “minimum contacts” for purposes of due process. . . .”

On July 15, 2014, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in the attached decision United States v. Hsiung and Au Optronics Corp. (“AUO”), AUO OPTRONICS, affirmed the convictions of all defendants, in a criminal antitrust case that stems from an international conspiracy between Taiwanese and Korean electronics manufacturers to fix prices for Liquid Crystal Display panels known as TFT-LCDs in violation of the Sherman Act. The Court also affirmed the $500 million fine imposed on AUO.

On July 16, 2014, the Plaintiffs argued that the recent 9th Circuit ruling in the AUO case supports their claims in the Vitamin C case against the Chinese companies. In particular, the 9th Circuit’s interpretation of the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act supports their argument that the FTAIA does not bar claims from vitamin C buyers who purchased the product directly for delivery in the U.S.

COMPLAINTS

HONG KONG EXCHANGE

In a series of antitrust cases that have been posted on my blog, companies are suing banks, including the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd, for triple damages under Section 1 and Section 2 of the Sherman act for conspiring to drive up prices of aluminum and zinc through the London Metal Exchange.  On July 8, 2014, the attached new antitrust complaint was filed by Galvanizers Company against the London Metal Exchange and number of other Metal Exchange companies, including the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd.  HONG KONG EXCHANGE

FOX CONN

On July 9, 2014, the attached new antitrust complaint was filed by Joseph Lai dba Ultra Tek against USB-Implementers Forum, Inc, Hon Hia Precision Industry Co., Ltd. and Foxconn International Holdings Ltd., including Foxconn (Kunshan) Computer Connect.  HON HAI FOX CONN ANTITRUST

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

MOFCOM–SHIPPING DISAPPROVAL

As US antitrust cases have been on the rise in the United States, they are also rising in China. On June 17, 2014, in direct contrast to the US and EC, which had approved the merger, China’s Merger Office in the Ministry of Commerce known as MOFCOM blocked a proposed alliance among Danish shipping giant A.P. Moller-Maersk A/S and two of its partners to pool ships used on Eurasian trade routes.

MOFCOM declared that the merger agreement violated China’s anti-monopoly law because it excludes the effect of restricting competition in the European container liner shipping routes services market. As a result, Maersk and its partners agreed to stop work on the merger.

On June 20, 2014, MOFCOM issued the attached announcement,SHIPPING DISAPPROVAL, stating:

“On June 17, Ministry of Commerce announced its disapproval after the anti-monopoly investigation in the concentration of undertakings of Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company S.A. and CMA CGM establishing an Internet center. The large-scale collaboration of the three largest shipping companies in the world will bring profound influence to global shipping industry, and attract high attention from all circles. A leading official of Anti-monopoly Bureau of Ministry of Commerce made an explanation about the case.

The official said Ministry of Commerce has no objection to enterprises gaining advantageous market position through its competitiveness. For those enterprises who have already possessed certain market prowess and want to further strengthen the forces and achieve dominant market position through the concentration of undertakings, the impact on market competition should be analyzed seriously. After assessment of related market share, market control, market access and industrial features, Ministry of Commerce believes that after the concentration, the three companies will form a tight combination, and their share of transport capacity of Asia-Europe container liner transportation will reach 47%, with remarkable increase of market concentration.

The official said that during the investigation, Ministry of Commerce stated to the declarer that the concentration of undertakings may have the impact of competition elimination and restriction, and had several consultations on how to reduce the adverse impact of the concentration of undertakings to competition. The declarer submitted several remedy plans. After evaluation, Ministry of Commerce considered that there were no legal basis and convincing evidence to support the remedy plans, and it cannot be proved that the concentration of undertakings has more positive effect than adverse effect or accord with public interests. Therefore, according to the Antimonopoly Law of People’s Republic of China, Ministry of Commerce decided to forbid this concentration of undertakings.”

SED TALKS–CHINESE COMPETITION POLICY

On July 3, 2014, it was reported that US business associations demanded that in the upcoming US-China Strategic & Economic (“S&ED”) talks with China that the US raise the problems US companies are facing with the Chinese anti-monopoly law. The allegation was made that “it has become increasingly clear that the Chinese government has seized on using the AntiMonopoly Law (“AML”) to promote Chinese producer welfare and to advance industrial policies that nurture domestic enterprises.”

On July 12, 2014 at the end of the 6th meeting SED talks, the Treasury Department released the attached fact sheet, TREASURY DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCEMENT, about the outcome. With regards to the Chinese Anti-Monopoly law, the Treasury Department stated:

“Competition Law: In response to concerns of U.S. companies and government officials regarding enforcement of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law, China recognized that the objective of competition policy is to promote consumer welfare and economic efficiency, rather than to promote individual competitors or industries, and that enforcement of its competition law should be fair, objective, transparent, and nondiscriminatory. We are also encouraged by China’s commitment to provide any party under investigation with information about the competition concerns with the conduct or transaction, as well as an effective opportunity to present evidence in its defense.”

SECURITIES

CHINESE COMPANIES STRIKE BACK!—RECENT SECURITIES VICTORY BY DORSEY LAWYERS FOR CHINESE COMPANY

Dorsey lawyers Geoffrey Sant, Kent Schmidt, Bryan McGarry, Ray Liu, and Ted Farris representing Haiting Li and Pacific Bepure had a major victory for Chinese clients.As Mr. Sant states:

“For years, plaintiff law firms in the US have brought a seemingly endless stream of securities lawsuits against Chinese companies that are either listed or traded in the US.

  • In 2010, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 46.8% of all US securities suits against non-US companies
  • In 2011, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 59.6% of all US securities suits against non-US companies
  • In 2012, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 47% of all US securities suits against non-US companies
  • In 2013, securities litigations against Chinese companies represented 45.7% of all US securities suits against non-US companies.

Last week, in what appears to be the first instance of its kind ever, a Chinese company sued under the securities laws in the United States not only achieved a dismissal of the lawsuit brought against it, but also obtained damages from the lawyers who sued the company. Specifically, in the attached Great Dynasty International Financial Holdings Ltd. v. Li order, GREAT DYNASTY Sanctions Order, the Court sanctioned the attorneys who brought a $5 million dollar claim against the company (Pacific Bepure), ordering the plaintiffs’ law firm and its lead attorneys to pay all of the legal expenses of the defendant. Past securities lawsuits against Chinese companies have resulted in many settlements and at least one massive $882 million default judgment. But last week’s ruling is the first time that a Chinese company has succeeded in not only dismissing securities litigation against it, but also obtaining payment from the very plaintiffs’ firm that brought the litigation. This may make plaintiff firms more hesitant or careful when bringing lawsuits against Chinese companies. Dorsey & Whitney represents Pacific Bepure, the company that won the sanctions award against the opposing attorneys.

In the Court’s decision sanctioning the plaintiffs’ law firm and attorneys, the Court stated:

  • Page 12-13.  “The Court finds that there is clear and convincing evidence that GDI’s counsel, Ms. Sally W. Mimms and Mr. John F. Kloecker of Locke Lord, LLP (collectively ‘Counsel’), assertion of federal securities law claims, including violation of section 10(b) and Rule 10b-5 and section 20(a), on behalf of GDI as well as most Assignor Shareholders, was both reckless and frivolous, and amounted to conduct tantamount to bad faith.”

第12-13页。“本院裁定有明确且令人信服的证据证明高汉的法律顾问即美国洛克律师事务所律师Sally W. Mimms女士和John F. Kloecker先生(统称‘法律顾问’)代表高汉以及大多数转让股东提出的联邦证券法索赔主张(包括违反第10(b)条和规则10b-5及第20(a)条的行为)是鲁莽且无法律事实依据的,等同于恶意的行为。”

  • Page 13.  “Counsel’s conduct was reckless and frivolous because a reasonable and competent inquiry into the law would have revealed that GDI and most Assignor Shareholders could not demonstrate (1) standing to assert federal securities fraud claims or (2) a causal connection between the purchase or sale [of] the PBEP securities in reliance on the alleged misrepresentations, and an economic loss.”

第13页。“法律顾问的行为是鲁莽且无法律事实依据的,因为对法律进行合理且合适的调查后将会发现高汉及大多数转让股东不能证明(1)坚持主张联邦证券欺诈索赔或(2)依赖于被指称的不实陈述的宝飘证券的购买或出售与经济损失之间的因果关系。”

  • Page 14.  “Counsel had all necessary facts in their possession of which to evaluate whether the claims could be asserted; although GDI clearly lacked standing and could not demonstrate a causal connection, Counsel asserted the claims.  Such conduct by Counsel was at the very least reckless and frivolous, because the claims had no basis in fact and Counsel failed to make a reasonable and competent inquiry into the law.”

第14页。“法律顾问拥有所有必要的事实来评估是否能提出诉讼请求;尽管高汉明显没有立场并且不能证明因果关系,法律顾问仍旧提出了诉讼请求。法律顾问的这种行为最起码是鲁莽且无依据的,因为索赔没有事实依据并且法律顾问未能对法律进行合理且合适的调查。”

  • Page 19.  “Here, the Court finds Ms. Mimms, Mr. Kloecker, and Locke Lord LLP jointly and severally liable for Defendants’ attorneys’ fees and costs in connection with litigating the frivolous federal securities fraud claims in both the complaint and the FAC.  Such an award would both vindicate the Court’s judicial authority while also mak[ing] Defendants whole for expenses incurred to defend the frivolous claims.”

第19页。“在此,本院裁定,对于被告在就诉状和FAC中的无依据联邦证券欺诈索赔进行诉讼时产生的律师费,Mimms女士、Kloecker先生和美国洛克律师事务所承担连带责任。此项裁决将维护本院的司法权威并同时使被告承担就无依据索赔进行辩护时产生的全部费用。”

This ruling may encourage some Chinese companies to more vigorously defend themselves, and in appropriate circumstances – such as meritless lawsuits – to fight the lawsuit rather than settle or to default. This, in turn, may cause plaintiff law firms to be less eager to bring lawsuits against Chinese companies.”

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

In the attached June edition of the FCPA Digest, Anti_Corruption_Digest_June2014, Dorsey lawyers report on a corruption investigation involving China stating:

“Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) Investigates GlaxoSmithKline

Further to the April and May Digests which reported GSK investigations in Poland and China, it has been reported that the director of the SFO has opened a criminal investigation into the commercial practices of GlaxoSmithKline plc and its subsidiaries.

The SFO action follows the Chinese police announcement on 14 May that they had charged the former British boss of GSK’s China business and other colleagues with corruption, after an investigation disclosed evidence of a scheme to bribe doctors and hospitals.”

On July 10, 2014, David Richardson and Alesya Tepikina, two Dorsey lawyers, also issued the attached article entitled “Anti-Corruption Campaign in China – Causes of Corruption, and Hope? – Part One,” eu-cm-china-anti-corruption-campaign-brib, about the ongoing bribery and corruption investigations in China. In the Article they state:

” “I have seen corruption boil and bubble Till it o’er-run the stew.” – William Shakespeare, Measure for Measure

Corruption in the People’s Republic of China (“China”) presents a major administrative and financial burden on businesses operating in China and creates an unfavorable business environment (by undermining the operational efficiency of businesses and raising the costs and risks associated with doing business in China). As noted by some researchers, corruption is so widespread in China that it has become a norm, an unwritten law, and a way of living. Corruption threatens the vitality and international credibility of China’s emerging new economy. Out of 2,700 firms surveyed from November 2011 through March 2013, 19.2% reported that they were expected to give gifts to obtain import licenses, 18.8% said they were expected to give gifts to obtain construction permits, 10.9% reported they were expected to give gifts to tax inspectors and 10.7% said they were expected to give gifts to public officials “to get things done”. Bribery incidence (i.e., a percentage of firms that experienced at least one bribe payment request) was 11.6% and bribery depth (i.e., a percentage of public transactions where a gift or informal payment was requested) was 9.9%.

Since President Xi Jinping announced a crackdown on corruption among government officials in China in November 2012, multiple anti-graft and ant-extravagance regulations have been passed by government agencies at the central and local levels. The regulations allowed the Xi administration to single out officials for punishment, starting at the local level and moving up the ranks of party hierarchy.

This eUpdate is the first part in a series of eUpdates on topics related to the present anti-corruption campaign in China. It focuses on the social practices which allow corruption to thrive in China, and on economic reforms (and a developing legal system) which could reign in such corruption.

Extent of corruption

In 2013, the Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index (the “Index”), which ranks countries based on the perception of corruption in their public sector, ranked China at 40.6 placing it in the 80th place out of 175 countries surveyed, on a par with Greece. China was ranked less corrupt than El Salvador, Jamaica, Panama, Russia and Peru, but more corrupt than Brazil and more developed countries. Over the past fourteen years, China’s rank remained at the lower range of the Index. For example, in 2008, China was ranked at 3.6 (on a scale of 0 – 10 used by the Index at that time), placing it in the 70th place out of 163 countries surveyed, and in 2000, China was ranked at 3.1, placing it in the 63rd place out of 90 countries surveyed. China historically ranked less corrupt than India, Russia and Venezuela, but more corrupt than Zambia, Colombia, Mexico, Ghana and South Korea.

As elsewhere, power over transactions and wealth in China appears to lead inevitably to corruption and corrupting behavior, or, in the words of Lord Acton, “power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely”. These words seem to apply perfectly to China, where the Communist Party has had a monopolistic power on politics and economics of the country for a prolonged period of time.

In China, as is often the case elsewhere, corruption is also a consequence of deeper stresses and changes. Underlying corruption is a growing tension between new policies and economic realities on the one hand, and traditional values, customs and established political system on the other, in the context of a political and institutional framework poorly-suited to handle such tension.

Understanding the characteristics and reasons underlying corruption in traditional China is crucial to comprehending the nature of the relationship between politics and economics in contemporary China, and to envisioning the future direction of reforms.

As described by some researchers, “post-reform corruption is a complex mixture of universal, transitional socialist and unique Chinese characteristics in its origins, consequences, as well as definitions.”

Definition and characteristics of corruption

One of the most general definitions of corruption, which seems to apply to China as well, describes it as ultimately “the use of public office for private gain”. It is also commonly understood as “behavior which deviates from the formal duties of a public role because of private-regarding (personal, close family, private clique) pecuniary or status gains; or violates rules against the exercise of certain types of private regarding behavior”.

Corruption can be characterized by the following features:

Power exploited for personal gain which includes monetary and non-monetary rewards;

An implicit contract concluded via a specific transaction, i.e. the transference of property rights, which because of its illegality is not subject to any officially legitimized institutional executive or sanctioning instance; and

At least two economic subjects interacting in the above transference of property right; this explicitly excludes the theft or embezzlement of state property as well as influencing of the political process to preserve power.

Guanxi networks

Corruption has deep roots and a long history in China. To understand the phenomenon of corruption as it applies to contemporary China, the historical role of patron-client and instrumental-personal ties in traditional China must first be analyzed.

The spread of corruption in traditional China is often connected to the Confucian concept of renzhi, or “government of the people,” as opposed to “government of law.” Chinese social behavior leading to corruption can be partly understood in terms of the hierarchical roles taught by Confucianism. These roles dictate the obligations an individual has in five cardinal relationships.

Among them is the filial responsibility of son toward father, which is the template for other hierarchical relationships in the system of Confucian ethics, such as that of subject-to-emperor and student-to-teacher. This hierarchical system of ethics was transplanted into the workplace, where it became the basis of a pervasive “organized dependency” of society upon the communist state. It evolved into an unofficial method utilized by workers to secure access to scarce goods and services (e.g., food, housing, or admission to schools) which were selectively distributed by shop officials. As benefits and resources were allocated directly by the planning bureaucracy in factories, workers relied on an informal “natural economy” of personal connections based on the exchange of gifts and favors in order to build privileged interactions with the gatekeepers who controlled them: factory officials.

Traditional Confucian values also emphasize consensus, lasting authority and clearly-defined personal relationships, a unity of state and society, and a socially encompassing moral order. These values led to social and cultural practices based on the extended personal-exchange and patron-client relationships encompassed by the term guanxi, which means interpersonal connections in order to secure favors in personal relations.

 Guanxi networks can be seen as institutions that arose centuries ago to secure trade relations in an environment that was only insufficiently covered by the legal system. An individual was able to expand his radius of economic relations, backed up by guanxi networks, to include various networks each with different resources.

A targeted expansion of an individual’s network to a counterparty which was regarded as useful for the pursuit of common interests could also be achieved by the giving of a gift or service. By accepting the gift or service, the counterparty obligated itself to perform an undefined reciprocal service at an unspecified time in the future. In this way, an implicit contract was concluded the fulfillment of which was linked to the particular network.

Guanxi networks can also be seen as clubs that guarantee their members the enforceability of available property rights in an institutionally disorderly environment, thus lowering transaction costs. To a certain extent, guanxi networks through personal connections and cooperation over a long period acted as a substitute for the market and the legal-institutional environment that supported it. At a later stage, connections served as a coordinating mechanism that allowed for a more efficient allocation of shortage goods than that provided by the fissures and fault lines of the communist economy. “This pattern is the result of structural features common to all communist factories: the workers’ economic dependence on the enterprise; political dependence on party and management; and, most important, the wide discretion of shop officials over promotion, pay, direct distributions, and sociopolitical services”.

Developed over centuries, guanxi networks were strongly anchored in traditional China and had an important function not only on an economic, but also on a political and social, level. They are still a factor in numerous areas in contemporary China, and virtually every Chinese person is connected to at least one guanxi network.  As noted by some researchers, guanxi networks stood in an antagonistic relationship to the Western system of legal rights. In the West, Christianity combined with pre-existing institutions to produce clear jurisdictional lines of top-down personalized authority. In the economic sphere, this led to legal definitions of property and ownership. Chinese institutions, however, rested on relationships and not jurisdictions, on obedience to one’s own roles and not on bureaucratic command structures. “Both jurisdictional principles and the autonomous individuals are historically absent in the Chinese worldview, and thus were not incorporated in Chinese institutions. Instead, Chinese society consists of networks of people whose actions are oriented by normative social relationships.”

Guanxi networks and economic reforms in China

With the advent of the “open-door policy” in China in 1978 and the subsequent reform period, guanxi networks underwent a gradual but substantial transformation from vertical relationships between officials and the rank and file to vertical relationships between officials and business. This change was brought about by the introduction of a market economy that was permitted to run in parallel with the old command economic mode. Following the implementation of the dual-track system, old central-administrative mechanisms were abandoned, often without putting in place new market-oriented substitutes capable of governing the transition. In this new hybrid system, the coexistence of guanxi networks and an emerging product market blurred the limits between regular economic transactions and corruption.

To a certain extent, guanxi networks advanced development of division of labor in the economic process and development in Chinese society over the centuries, and existed as complementary and parallel mechanisms for orderly economic interaction.

In the reform period, organization of economic activities by guanxi networks regained importance. Guanxi networks created governance structures that forced contract-honoring behavior of the transaction partners, analogous to vertical integration solutions.

Guanxi networks thus managed to provide an infrastructure in which the transaction partners could safeguard themselves from the ex post opportunism of one side. For some time, guanxi networks appeared to be an efficient and transaction-cost lowering co-ordination mechanism for regulating transactions in an environment characterized by high institutional uncertainty.

The reforms were aimed at the dissolution of established, central-administrative orderly mechanisms and development of the legal system. However, the first contract law did not take effect until July 1982, four years after the reform period had begun. The law was still strongly bound to the old central administrative system and quickly came into contradiction with subsequent laws and decrees, but was not revised until 1993. A comprehensive contract law only came into effect in October 1999. Even more problematic than this delayed enactment of laws was the poor enforcement of the existing laws mainly due to the administrative interventions and insufficient training of the officials enforcing the law.

The continuing liberalization of the Chinese economy requires a developed legal system which would provide a well framed regulatory and institutional framework for regulating financial and commercial transactions, testing them against principles of anti-corruption and offering legal security at a supra-individual level beyond social relationships. Such legal system would remove uncertainty as to enforcement of contractual rights and would therefore eliminate reliance on guanxi networks to safeguard transactions. However, transaction partners would need to regard such legal system as performing more effectively than guanxi networks before they could view it as preferable for regulating transactions. In addition, as noted by some researchers, pressure by political decision-makers would be required in order for the legal system to displace guanxi networks. Thereafter, as transaction costs for corrupt transactions would increase, guanxi networks would gradually lose importance and ultimately disappear, and incidences of corruption would decline.

TO BE CONTINUED”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On June 16, 2014, Roger Artinoff filed the class action securities case against China Ceramics Co., Ltd., Huang Jia Dong, Su Pei Zhi, Hen Man Edmund, Ding Wei Dong, Paul K. Kelly, Cheng Yan Davis, William L. Stulginsky and Su Wei Feng.  CHINA CERAMICS

On June 20, 2014, Darryl Reitan filed a class action securities case against China Mobile Games & Entertainment Group, Ltd., Ken Jian Xiao, Ying Shuling, Credit Suisse Securities USA LLC, Barclays Capital, Inc., Jeffries LLC, Brean Capital LLC, and Nomura Securities International.  CHINA MOBILE

On June 26, 2014 Sophia Chang filed a class action securities case against China Mobile Games & Entertainment Group, Ltd., Ken Jian Xiao, Ying Shuling, Credit Suisse Securities USA LLC, Barclays Capital, Inc., Jeffries LLC, Brean Capital LLC, and Nomura Securities International.  CHINA MOBILE

On June 30, 2014, Michael H. Resh filed a class action securities case against China Agritech Inc., Yu Chan, Yau-Sing Tang, Gene Michael Bennett, Xiao Rong Teng, Ming Fang Zhu, Lun Zhang Dai, Charles Law, and Zheng Anne Wang. CHINA AGRITECH

On July 2, 2014, Richard Finlayson filed a class action securities case against China Ceramics Co., Ltd, Huang Jia Dong, Su Pei Zhu, Hen Man Edmund, Ding Wei Dong, Paul K. Kelly, Cheng Yan Davis, William L. Stulginsky, Su Wei Feng and Jianwei Liu.  CHINA CERAMICS LIU JIANWEI

On July 8, 2014, the SEC sued Child Van Wagoner & Bradshaw PLLC, a Salt Lake City accounting firm, for a substandard audit of Yuhe International, a Chinese chicken producer, which later admitted it lied to investors, resulting in millions of dollars in investor losses.  See the attached order.  SEC COMPLAINT YUHE AUDIT COMPANY

The SEC alleged that there was no evidence that the auditor made any inquiries concerning Yuhe’s internal policies related to the prevention of illegal acts or fraud, despite the resignation of the prior auditor, the existence of prohibited related party loans, numerous suspect accounting entries, a weak or nonexistent control environment and the use of personal bank accounts for Yuhe payments.

On July 15, 2014, Sungw An Yang filed a class action securities case against China XD Plastics Co., Ltd., Jie Han, and Taylor Zhang.  CHINA PLASTICS

On July 16, 2014, Shawn Tompkins filed a class action securities case against China XD Plastics Co., Ltd., Jie Han, and Taylor Zhang. TOMPKINS CHINA PLASTICS

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–REAGAN PREDICTED IT, TRADE, CUSTOMS, 337/PATENTS, US CHINA ANTITRUST, AND SECURITIES

Washington Monument After the Snow Washington DCJanuary 3, 2014

“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN , JUNE 28, 1986

Dear Friends,

There have been some major developments in the trade, Customs, patents, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

In looking at the first posts I wrote on my blog, they were relatively short, but with the US litigation against Chinese companies in the US and the Chinese litigation against US companies growing, the Posts will grow even larger.

As mentioned before, the US China Trade War is expanding into many different areas.  Trade and Customs were simply the first areas of attack.

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN PREDICTED TRADE WAR WITH CHINA

My intention was to upload this post to my blog by the end of December.  Unfortunately, did not make it, but while on Christmas break I was at the Ronald Reagan Center in Santa Barbara, California.

In October 1980, I joined the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) as a staff attorney in the Office of General Counsel and later in the Chief Counsel’s office in the Commerce Department.  During that entire time, Ronald Reagan was President.  During that period, the ITC was also the most free trade Commission in its history as Reagan appointed Commissioner after Commissioner with strong free trade ideologies, such as Susan Liebeler, Anne Brunsdale, and Robert Cass.  From my observation, Ronald Reagan was the most free trade president in my lifetime.  Congress, however, does not like free traders.

While at the Santa Barbara Center, I listened to the attached speech by President Ronald Reagan on international trade and was amazed because he predicted with absolute accuracy the present state of trade relations with China.  REAGAN IT SPEECH  On June 28, 1986 from his California Ranch, President Reagan stated as follows:

 

“Now, I know that if I were to ask most of you how you like to spend your Saturdays in the summertime, sitting down for a  nice, long discussion of international trade wouldn’t be at the top of the list. But believe me, none of us can or should be bored with this issue. Our nation’s economic health, your well-being and that of your family’s really is at stake.

That’s because international trade is one of those issues that politicians find an unending source of temptation. Like a 5-cent cigar or a chicken in every pot, demanding high tariffs or import restrictions is a familiar bit of flimflammery in American politics.

But cliches and demagoguery aside, the truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth. You see, trade barriers and protectionism only put off the inevitable. Sooner or later, economic reality intrudes, and industries protected by the Government face a new and unexpected form of competition. It may be a better product, a more efficient manufacturing technique, or a new foreign or domestic competitor.

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

We had an excellent example of this in our own history during the Great Depression. Most of you are too young to remember this, but not long after the stock market crash of 1929, the Congress passed something called the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Many economists believe it was one of the worst blows ever to our economy. By crippling free and fair trade with other nations, it internationalized the Depression. It also helped shut off America’s export market, eliminating many jobs here at home and driving the Depression even deeper.

Well, since World War II, the nations of the world showed they learned at least part of their lesson. They organized the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, to promote free trade. It hasn’t all been easy going, however. Sometimes foreign governments adopt unfair tariffs or quotas and subsidize their own industries or take other actions that give firms an unfair competitive edge over our own businesses. On those occasions, it’s been very important for the United States to respond effectively, and our administration hasn’t hesitated to act quickly and decisively.

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

 

Several thoughts come to mind when reading this speech.  When President Reagan speaks of a “protected industry” that  “is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition”, think the US Steel Industry, which has had antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place against steel imports for more than 40 years.  Is Bethlehem Steel alive today?  No, the orders did not work.

Second, President Reagan mentions the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act.  The real name of that law is the Tariff Act of 1930, and where are the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws to be found—The Tariff Act of 1930.  Yes, many parts of the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act are alive today.

Finally President Reagan truly predicted the Trade War with China, including the Chinese reaction to the Solar Cells antidumping and countervailing duty cases and the other trade cases against China.  The Solar Cells cases against China has led to the Polysilicon antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the US, wiping out $2 billion in US exports to China.  The Section 421 Tires case described below led to Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty cases against automobiles and chicken from the US.

The Trade War with China truly has become a pie fight in the old Hollywood comedies– “Everything and everybody just gets messier and messier,” but the sad part is that it costs jobs.

TRADE

SOLAR CELLS—NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE TO CLOSE THIRD COUNTRY LOOPHOLE AND AGAINST CHINA AND TAIWAN

On December 31, 2013, Solar World filed another antidumping and countervailing duty petition to close the third country loophole against China and Taiwan with alleged antidumping rates of 298%.

The antidumping and countervailing duty petition covers crystalline silicon photovoltaic products, including solar cells, modules and panels,  from China and Taiwan.  The specific products covered by the new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations are:

“The merchandise covered by this investigation is crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, and modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including building integrated materials. For purposes of this investigation, subject merchandise also includes modules, laminates and/or panels consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells completed or partially manufactured within a customs territory other than that subject country, using ingots, wafers, or partially manufactured cells sourced from the subject country. . . .”

“Also excluded from the scope of this investigation are any products covered by the existing antidumping and countervailing duty orders on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, whether or not assembled into modules, from the People’s Republic of China- case numbers A-570-979 and C-570-980.”

Attached is a copy of the injury petition.  AD CVD CASE SOLAR WORLD TAIWAN AND CHINA

If Chinese companies are exporting and US importers are importing Chinese modules and panels with Taiwan or other solar cells in them, this option will be closed in 150 to 210 days.  Chinese companies also must be prepared to submit separate rate applications in this new antidumping case to get the average rate.

On January 3, 2014, the US International Trade Commission issued the attached notice regarding the preliminary injury investigation in the new Solar Cells, Modules and Panels case against China and Taiwan.  USITC Solar Panels PRELIMNARY NOTICE  The ITC’s preliminary conference is scheduled for January 21st in Washington DC.

If anyone is interested in participating in the case at the ITC or the Commerce Department, please feel free to contact me.

FIRST SOLAR CELLS CASE–REVIEW REQUESTS

In the first Solar Cells case, the first annual review investigations have just started up, which will determine the actual liability of US importers for antidumping and countervailing duties on their imports.  On December 31, 2013, Solar World and the other US solar cell producers filed the attached letters requesting that the Chinese companies named in the letters be included in the review investigations. AD SolarWorld Review Request-12-31-13 SolarWorld CVD Review Request-12-31-13

If you are a Chinese producer/exporter and you are named in the letter, you must partcipate in the review investigation or you will lose your 24% antidumping rate and your new rate will be 250%.  If you are an importer of solar cells during the specific review periods and your Chinese suppliers are named in these letters, you must make sure that they participate in the review investigations.  If your suppliers do not participate, the antidumping rate will go from 24% to 250% and you the importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—BALI/DOHA ROUND AND TPP

In the trade world, the most important developments may be the WTO negotiations in Bali and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.  Both negotiations could have a major impact on China trade.

Attached is an article that I have written together with a Canadian trade and customs lawyer about the impact of the TPP from both the US and Canadian point of view.FINAL ARTICLE TPP US CHINA

DOHA ROUND-BALI

From China’s point of view, the WTO negotiations in the Doha Round are extremely important.  The only way that China can deter many trade actions is to work within the multilateral framework to reduce trade barriers to Chinese products.

Multilateral WTO negotiations are even more important for China because of the ongoing TPP negotiations, which at this moment do not include China.  As indicated in my attached article on the TPP, the US and other countries see the TPP negotiations as one way to offset China’s rise in the trade area.

But multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations are by their nature a give and take.  All countries in the negotiations have to be willing to reduce some of their own trade barriers to persuade other countries to lower their trade barriers.  No country wins or loses on all issues.  By their nature, trade negotiations involve tradeoffs.

So the WTO and TPP trade negotiations are going to be of continued interest to Chinese companies and US importers.

WTO NEGOTIATIONS-BALI

As mentioned in a past post, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) pointed to the coming World Trade Organization (“WTO”) multilateral negotiations in Bali on trade facilitation measures, which would streamline customs procedures, as being very important as well as the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership with 11 other Pacific Rim countries, which were “posed to close”.

On November 27, 2013, however, there were reports that the WTO multilateral negotiations in Bali had broken down, in part over the Trade Facilitation report.  But those statements were premature.

On December 6, 2013, WTO members announced that a Trade Facilitation Agreement had been struck by the member countries.  This would be the first WTO-wide agreement in the organization’s nearly two decade history.  Round-the-clock negotiations at the conference led to the so-called Bali package -the first membership-wide agreement since the WTO was created in 1995.  The Bali Package includes measures on trade facilitation, intended to streamline customs and other procedures that affect the shipment of goods across borders, as well as provisions on agriculture and economic development.

“For the first time in our history: the WTO has truly delivered.” WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said in a December 5th statement. “I challenged you all, here in Bali, to show the political will we needed to take us across the finish line. You did that. And I thank you for it.”

The WTO was able to overcome objections from Cuba, Venezuela, Bolivia and Nicaragua because it did not address a U.S. embargo against Cuba, which has been in place for more than 50 years, and other trade embargoes.  The agreement was to add an additional sentence in Bali deal’s text that upheld the “principle of non-discrimination in goods in transit.”

India also raised concerns over part of the package’s agriculture section that dealt with agricultural subsidy programs that some developing countries offer to promote “food security” and combat hunger.

Those concerns, however, appeared to have been largely addressed in the draft text circulated December 3rd, which contained an interim agreement, under which WTO members would refrain from lodging disputes against developing countries that stockpile crops as part of a food security program, as long as the subsidies do not distort trade.

The Peterson Institute for International Economics said an ambitious agreement on trade facilitation could add $960 billion to the world economy.  But the symbolism is more important.  The Bali Agreement is very important for both developed and developing countries.  Many of the FTA agreements, such as the ongoing TPP agreements, could hurt the developing countries the most.  The movement of both the TPP and the Trans- Atlantic Agreement puts more pressure on the WTO countries to reach a deal.

The importance of the Bali Agreement is that it means the WTO can still be an effective forum for truly multilateral trade negotiations.  If no deal had been reached in Bali, this could have led to the collapse of the WTO as a multilateral forum to negotiate reductions of trade barriers.

In a speech in Bali, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo stated, “What’s at stake is the cause of multilateralism itself”

TPP NEGOTIATIONS RUN INTO HEADWINDS

The USTR and US government officials were predicting that the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) negotiations would conclude at the end of the year with an Agreement.  That was simply too optimistic.  Secret negotiations are going to generate controversey.

On December 10th, the Trade Ministers for the 12 countries negotiating the TPP announced in Singapore “substantial progress” in the talks, but there would be no deal by the end of the year.  In a joint statement, the Ministers indicated that they had engaged in productive discussions, identifying potential solutions to a number of outstanding obstacles, but more meetings would be held in 2014.

Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich., the top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee of U.S. House of Representatives, indicated that critical work lay ahead, especially the continued closure of Japan’s market to U.S. cars and agricultural products, the implementation of enforceable labor and environmental rules, and strict rules on currency manipulation and state-owned enterprises.

South Korea has indicated interest in the talks, but it is unlikely that any other country would join the agreement while the talks are still ongoing.  Presently, the TPP negotiations include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The two most important countries for the US, however, are Japan and possibly Vietnam.  Japan is important because of decades long problems involving automobiles and agriculture products, and Vietnam because as a non-market economy Communist country, it could be a forerunner to China.

 On December 10th Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) stated that there had been significant progress in the Singapore Round and countries will continue their work in January.

“The headway achieved so far on TPP is positive, but more work remains. There are longstanding issues that need to be resolved, like access for U.S. automakers and farmers, and we should take the time to get this agreement right. I look forward to consulting with Ambassador Froman when he returns on the next steps. Concluding these negotiations, as well as other trade agreements, will require Congressional passage of Trade Promotion Authority legislation. Given the considerable bipartisan and bicameral progress that has been made on that front, I expect we will be in a position to do so early next year if we have the Administration’s active participation.”

In addition, Congressional leaders announced that they had come to agreement on providing the Administration Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority.

But the TPP then ran into headwinds.

AGRICULTURE

On December 19, 2013, American Farm Bureau Federation, American Meat Institute, American Soybean Association, International Dairy Foods Association, National Association of Wheat Growers, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, National Chicken Council, National Corn Growers Association, National Milk Producers Federation, National Oilseed Processors Association, National Pork Producers Council, National Turkey Federation, North American Meat Association, U.S. Dairy Export Council, U.S. Grains Council, U.S. Wheat Associates, USA Rice Federation announced that they would oppose the TPP if a final version did not require Japan to eliminate tariffs on virtually all US agricultural exports.

In the attached letter AG LETTER TO USTR to U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, the seventeen agriculture industry groups stated:

“Dear Mr. Ambassador:

We are writing to express our concern with the state of play of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. Each of our organizations has expressed in the past strong support for a comprehensive, high-standard TPP agreement. However, we have watched with growing alarm the unwillingness of Japanese negotiators to present a comprehensive offer on agricultural products, and we now believe this situation is threatening to undermine the negotiations.

In previous negotiations, the United States has demanded and received from developing country trading partners full and comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector. Yet in the TPP negotiations, Japan – a rich, developed country – is demanding special treatment for its agricultural sector. We consider an agreement that includes such special treatment for Japan to be unacceptable.

If Japan is allowed to claim exceptions for sensitive products, other TPP partners will inevitably demand the right to do the same. This could quickly lead to the unraveling of the agreement, as other parties pull their offers on sensitive products, or their concessions on sensitive issues, off the table.

However, even if it were possible to prevent the agreement among current parties from unraveling, granting exceptions to Japan, or any other party, would have far-reaching consequences. As the TPP expands to include other countries in the Asia-Pacific region, we can expect other countries with sensitivities in the agricultural sector, such as China, to make similar demands. Moreover, a weak agreement with Japan would inevitably have significant negative implications for our ability to reach an acceptable agreement with the EU in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.

U.S. agriculture has always supported trade agreements and Trade Promotion Authority as the most effective means of eliminating tariff and non-tariff barriers and expanding global trade. However, the market access package you negotiate with Japan has the potential to impact billions in future exports and hundreds of thousands of jobs.

In conclusion, TPP must include comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector by all participating countries. If Japan continues to insist on unreasonable protections to a range of agricultural categories, we ask you to consider concluding TPP without Japan. It will ultimately be difficult for our organizations to support a TPP agreement with Japan that does not include comprehensive trade liberalization for all agricultural sectors.”

This is an extremely important development because US agriculture is the primary force pushing for Free Trade Agreements.  If the farmers do not support the TPP, there will be no agreement.

UNIONS

On December 9th, The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (“IAM”), which represents around 700,000 current and former industrial workers, announced that the TPP would be a job killer, leading to a massive loss of American jobs.  The IAM argued that past trade deals did not create jobs and has lead to a “death sentence” for American workers.

The IAM stated that it is strongly opposed to the revival of “fast-track” authorities that expired in 2007 and “If TPP is implemented, U.S. manufacturing may well find itself on the endangered species list.”

DRUGS AND IP

On December 11, 2013, potential provisions in the TPP on drug patent protections and the length of copyright terms came under fire with Democratic lawmakers, library associations and consumer groups voicing concern over proposals that are currently on the table.

Several Democratic Congressmen urged USTR to reconsider its reported proposals for handling pharmaceutical patents in the TPP. CONG LETTER A number of libraries, digital rights and consumer groups argued against a copyright protection for a term of 70 years after the creator of a particular work dies.

Representative Henry Waxman, D-Calif and Senator Orrin Hatch, R-Utah sent separate letters arguing for and against the proposal of a 12-year market exclusivity period for biologics – drugs developed through biologic processes that can be used to treat diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis.  Waxman argues for 7 years and Hatch is arguing for 12 years.

As Representative Waxman states in the attached letter Waxman TPP Drug IP Letter:

“The United States only recently established its biosimilars pathway when it enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) (Pub. L. No. 111-148) and the consequences of PPACA’s mandated twelve years of biologics exclusivity are not yet known.

Proposing twelve years of exclusivity in the context of TPP negotiations would conflict with stated Administration policy, as reflected in President Obama’s FY 2014 budget proposal, recommending that the exclusivity period for biologics be reduced to seven years. Were the TPP ultimately to contain a twelve year biologics exclusivity provision, it would impede the ability of Congress to achieve the President’s proposed seven year change because doing so would run afoul of U.S. trade obligations.

As we have discussed before, it is also critical that USTR ensure that developing countries are not left behind in this agreement. The United States must ensure that the TPP does not result in generic medicines becoming available in TPP developing countries later than in the United States. In addition, the patent flexibilities available to developing nations in the Doha Declaration on Public Health should not be denied or weakened in the agreement.”

SECTION 421 SPECIAL SAFEGUARD PROVISION AGAINST CHINA EXPIRED ON DECEMBER 11, 2013

On December 11, 2013, Section 421 of the Trade Act of 1974, a special safeguard law against China, expired as a result of provisions in the US China WTO Agreement.  The safeguard allowed the President to impose higher tariffs and other trade relief if the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) determined that increased imports from China caused or threatened material injury to a US industry.

Although there were several affirmative ITC Section 421 determinations during the Bush Administration, President Bush refused to provide relief.  The provision resulted in trade restrictions only once, when President Obama approved an ITC determination that the importation of Chinese rubber tires was injuring U.S. tire manufacturers.

Many US tire producers, however, were opposed to the Section 421 case, but the Unions were very much in favor of the relief, which President Obama issued to counter criticism in an election year that he was not tough enough on China.

President Obama’s decision to impose relief in the Tires case, however, resulted in the Chinese government bringing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the United States on automobiles and chicken.  The Chicken AD and CVD orders in China continue to block approximately $1 billion in the US exports of chicken to China.

SILICA BRICKS

On December 12, 2013, in another surprising decision, the ITC in 6-0 unanimous determination reached a negative injury determination in the antidumping case on silica bricks from China.  ITC NEGATIVE SILICA BRICKS The ITC negative determination followed a Commerce Department affirmative determination issuing Chinese companies antidumping rates ranging from 63.81 to 73.1% on imports of silica bricks.

JANUARY REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS

On January 2, 2014, the Commerce Department issued its monthly notice stating that Chinese companies and US importers that want review investigations in the following investigations should file such a request by the end of the month.  The specific antidumping and countervailing duty investigations at issue are:

Antidumping Investitgations

On THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA:
Crepe Paper Products, A-570-895………………    1/1/13-12/31/13
Ferrovanadium, A-570-873…………………….    1/1/13-12/31/13
Folding Gift Boxes, A-570-866………………..    1/1/13-12/31/13
Potassium Permanganate, A-570-001………………..    1/1/13-12/31/13
Wooden Bedroom Furniture, A-570-890………………    1/1/13-12/31/13

Countervailing Duty Proceedings

THE PEOPLE’S REPUBLIC OF CHINA:
Certain Oil Country Tubular Goods, C-570-944…..    1/1/13-12/31/13
Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, C-   1/1/13-12/31/13
570-936…………………………………..

SHELLFISH

On December 5th, the Washington State Government reported that on December 3 the Chinese government announced that it was banning all imports of molluscan shellfish from North America area #67, which includes all harvest areas in Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, and northern California.  WASHINGTON SHELLFISH ANNOUNCE

China reported a shipment of geoducks tested high in paralytic shellfish poison (PSP) and arsenic.

The Washington Government has stated that it is working with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and its state partners gathering facts, tracing the geoducks to the original harvest area, and closely reviewing its PSP test data.

On December 20th, Washington State and tribal officials closed a 135-acre geoduck-harvesting area outside Federal Way Washington until they could fully investigate the toxicity levels that caused China to ban shellfish imported from the West Coast.

Washington State officials learned that arsenic was the toxin Chinese authorities detected in a shipment of geoduck clams to China from Washington’s Poverty Bay.

That shipment, along with one from Ketchikan, Alaska, led China on Dec. 3 to ban all imports of shellfish harvested in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California.

The Washington Department of Health traced the shipment back to 385 pounds of geoduck harvested in October by the Puyallup Tribe in Poverty Bay on what the Department of Natural Resources calls the Redondo Tract.

“There are no federal safety standards at all for arsenic in shellfish because it is not something that is typically an issue,” said Tim Church, the health department’s director of communications. “With the tests that we’ve done in the past, we’ve never found levels of arsenic that would be a concern for eating shellfish.”

China has not said when it will lift the ban on West Coast shellfish.

The Chinese government’s decision to ban all shellfish harvested from Northern California to Alaska would appear to be excessive, but that decision must be taken in context.

Because of US antidumping laws, all Chinese imports of honey, garlic, mushrooms, crawfish and shrimp have been greatly curtailed.  Some of the antidumping orders against Chinese agricultural products have been in place for more than 10 to 20 years.

In addition, the US government has been particularly tough on imports of Chinese honey, mushrooms, garlic and other agricultural products because of pesticide contamination, banning all imports of certain products during specific periods of time.

With the US government so tough on imports of agricultural and seafood products from China, US exporters of agricultural and seafood products should expect the Chinese government to be just as tough on US exports to China.

Trade is a two way street and what goes around comes around.

CHINESE TEXTILE MANUFACTURER MOVES TO—SOUTH CAROLINA

In a bright spot, it has been reported that a Chinese yarn maker has decided it can make more money setting up shop in the US in South Carolina.  Keer Group Co., a yarn spinning factory in Hangzhou, China, has moved to South Carolina.

A number of Asian textile manufacturers have decided to set up production in the U.S. to save money as salaries, energy and other costs rise at home. Keer has invested $218 million to build a factory in Lancaster County, not far from Charlotte, N.C. The new plant will pay half as much as Mr. Zhu does for electricity in China and get local government support, he says.  Keer expects to create at least 500 jobs.

In another benefit, Keer can ship yarn to manufacturers in Central America, which, unlike companies in China, can send finished clothes duty-free to the U.S.

In September, JN Fibers Inc. of China agreed to build a $45 million plant in South Carolina that turns plastic bottles into polyester fibers used to stuff pillows and furniture. That investment is expected to create 318 jobs.

Keer stated costs for industrial land in Hangzhou have increased because China’s textile industry is plagued by overcapacity, which has squeezed profits, and local governments are reluctant to sell land to producers.

The local government in South Carolina, which has 8.1% unemployment, has set an annual fixed fee in lieu of taxes that Keer will pay for 30 years. Sixty percent of that annual fee will be returned to the company each year until it has paid off a $7.7 million bond that the county issued to help buy the land.

MAKING OF A T-SHIRT

The reality of interdependence in our Trade World is illustrated by the attached video from the Colbert Report, which traces the production of a T-shirt sold in the United States from the cotton produced in the US to cloth produced in Indonesia to the T-shirt produced in Bangledesh. http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/431141/december-10-2013/alex-blumberg

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

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

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

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

We are now contacting many US importers and also Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they are interested in participating in the Alliance. Changes to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law against China can only happen because of a push by US importers and end user companies. In US politics, only squeaky wheels get the grease.

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE

CHICKEN

In response to a WTO determination, on December 27, 2013, MOFCOM announced that it would reinvestigate the antidumping and countervailing duties on chicken from the US, specifically against white-feather broiler chicken products from the U.S.

CUSTOMS

INSURANCE COMPANY LIABLE FOR NEW SHIPPER ANTIDUMPING DUTIES IN CRAWFISH CASE

In an antidumping new shipper review investigation on Crawfish from China, a US importer, New Phoenix, posted eight single-transaction bonds issued by Great American to cover seven entries of crawfish tailmeat, with a value of $1,219,458 for each bond or a total of $6,097,290 in liability.  When the importer could not pay, the US Customs Service sued the insurance company for the amount of the bonds plus interest.

In attached decision, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit orders Great American to pay the $6 million plus postjudgment interest.  INSURANCE COMPANIES OWE AD DUTIES

RHINO HORN

On December 19, 2013, the US Justice Department announced that Zhifei Li, the owner of an antique business in China, had pled guilty to being the organizer of an illegal wildlife smuggling conspiracy in which 30 rhinoceros horns and numerous objects made from rhino horn and elephant ivory worth more than $4.5 million were smuggled from the United States to China.  See attached Justice Department notice.  RHINO HORN

Li was arrested in Florida in January 2013 on federal charges brought under seal in New Jersey.  Shortly after arriving in the country, he pled guilty to a total of 11 counts: one count of conspiracy to smuggle and violate the Lacey Act; seven counts of smuggling; one count of illegal wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act; and two counts of making false wildlife documents.

Li was arrested as part of “Operation Crash” – a nationwide effort led by the USFWS and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.

Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division stated:

The take-down of the Li smuggling ring is an important development in our effort to enforce wildlife protection laws. Rhino horn can sell for more than gold and is just as rare, but rhino horn and elephant ivory are more than mere commodities. Each illegally traded horn or tusk represents a dead animal, poaching, bribery, smuggling and organized crime. The Justice Department will continue to vigorously enforce the law designed to protect wildlife. This is a continuing investigation.

In pleading guilty, Li admitted that he sold 30 smuggled, raw rhinoceros horns worth approximately $3 million –approximately $17,500 per pound – to factories in China where raw rhinoceros horns are carved into fake antiques known as Zuo Jiu (which means “to make it as old” in Mandarin).  In China, there is a centuries-old tradition of drinking from an intricately carved “libation cup” made from a rhinoceros horn. Owning or drinking from such a cup is believed by some to bring good health, and true antiques are highly prized by collectors. The escalating value of such items has resulted in an increased demand for rhinoceros horn that has helped fuel a thriving black market, including recently carved fake antiques.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

NO 337 VIOLATION IF IMPORTED PRODUCT ON ENTRY DOES NOT INFRINGE THE PATENT

On December 13, 2013, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) in the attached Suprema, Inc. and Mentalix Inc. vs. ITC held that an exclusion order based on a violation of § 337(a)(1)(B)(i) may not be predicated on a theory of induced infringement where no direct infringement occurs until post-importation.  CAFC Slip Opinion 12-1170 SUPREMA INC – CROSS MATCH v ITC

The patents at issue concern fingerprint machines.  The Suprema fingerprint machines had multiple uses, but after the fingerprint machines were imported into the United States, software from Mentalix was applied to the Suprema fingerprint machines, resulting in infringement of patents held by a US company.  The ITC found that Suprema and Mentalix had violated section 337 based on an induced infringement theory and issued an exclusion order.

The CAFC determined not so fast.  Section 337 is also a trade statute, and the Commission’s authority in section 337 cases is based on its jurisdiction over the imported products.  According to the CAFC, however, the imported products have to infringe the patent at the time the products are imported into the US, especially where the imported product has multiple uses and the only infringing use happens after the product is imported into the US.

As the CAFC stated in its opinion:

“The Commission’s mandate to deal with matters of patent infringement under § 337(a)(1)(B)(i) is thus premised on the “importation,” “sale for importation,” or “sale within the United States after importation” of “articles that . . . infringe.” . . . Thus, the Commission’s authority extends to “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable United States patent.” The focus is on the infringing nature of the articles at the time of importation, not on the intent of the parties with respect to the imported goods.  . . .

Given the nature of the conduct proscribed in § 271(b) and the nature of the authority granted to the Commission in § 337, we hold that the statutory grant of authority in § 337 cannot extend to the conduct proscribed in § 271(b) where the acts of underlying direct infringement occur post-importation. Section 337(a)(1)(B)(i) grants the Commission authority to deal with the “importation,” “sale for importation,” or “sale within the United States after importation” of “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable U.S patent.” The patent laws essentially define articles that infringe in § 271(a) and (c), and those provisions’ standards for infringement (aside from the “United States” requirements, of course) must be met at or before importation in order for the articles to be infringing when imported. Section 271(b) makes unlawful certain conduct (inducing infringement) that becomes tied to an article only through the underlying direct infringement. Prior to the commission of any direct infringement, for purposes of inducement of infringement, there are no “articles that . . . infringe”—a prerequisite to the Commission’s exercise of authority based on § 337(a)(1)(B)(i).

Consequently, we hold that the Commission lacked the authority to enter an exclusion order directed to Suprema’s scanners premised on Suprema’s purported induced infringement of the method claimed in the ’344 patent.”

The key point is that section 337 is not just an intellectual property statute; it is also a trade statute.  Section 337, just like the antidumping and countervailing duty law, regulates imports, and thus the CAFC is stating that since 337 is a trade statute, the product must be infringing at the time of importation.  If the infringement happens after importation, that can be a real problem for the US patent holder in a 337 case.

337 CASE RESULTS IN ANTITRUST RETALIATION IN CHINA

As indicated below, Interdigital has filed a section 337 case against Huawei.  Huawei retaliated by filing an antitrust case in China under Chinese law.  The Chinese government’s antitrust authority, NDRC, is now threatening jail time to Interdigital executives.

What is worse is that on December 20th, in the attached decision the ITC rejected Interdigital’s complaint and found no violation of section 337 so Interdigital lost the section 337 case, but is stuck with a Chinese antitrust case.  ITC NOTICE INTERDIGITAL  Sometimes you bite off more than you can chew.

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES

On December 11, 2013, Tyco filed a new 337 case against imports of certain surveillance systems.  One of the respondents is Ningbo Signatronic Technologies, Ltd., China.

The ITC notice is set forth below:

Docket No: 2990

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Brian R. Nester, Sidley Austin LLP

Behalf Of: Tyco Fire & Security Gmbh (TFSG), Sensormatic Electronic, LLC

(Sensormatic) and Tyco Integrated Security, LLC (TIS)

Date Received: December 11, 2013

Commodity: Acousto-Magnetic Electronic Article Surveillance Systems

Description: Letter to James R. Holbein, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Acousto-Magnetic Electronic Article Surveillance Systems, Components Thereof, and Products containing same. The proposed respondents are: Ningbo Signatronic Technologies, Ltd., China; All-Tag Security Americas, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida; All-Tag Security Hong Kong Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; All-Tag Europe SPRL; Brussels; All-Tag Security UK Ltd., United Kingdom; Best Security Industries, Delray Beach, FL; and Signatronic Corporation, Boca Raton, FL.

 

On December 18th, Pragmatus filed a section 337 case against ZTE on Wireless Devices.  The notice is below:

Docket No: 2992

Document Type:337 Complaint

Filed By:Anthony Grillo

Firm/Org:Marino and Grillo LLC

Behalf Of:Pragmatus Mobile, LLC

Date Received:December 18, 2013

Commodity:Wireless Devices, including Mobile Phones and Tablets II

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Acting Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Wireless Devices, Including Mobile Phones and Tablets II. The proposed respondents are Nokia Corporation (Nokia Oyj), Finland; Nokia, Inc., Sunnyvale, CA; Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd, Korea; Samsung Electronics America, Inc., Ridgefield Park, NJ; Samsung Telecommunications America, L.L.C., richardson, TX; Sony Corporation, Tokyo; Sony Mobile Communications AB, Sweden; Sony Mobile Communications (USA), Inc., Atlanta, GA; ZTE Corporation, China; and ZTE (USA) Inc., Richardson TX.

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI, ZTE, AND OTHER COMPANIES

On December 2, 2013, Chanel filed a major trademark suit against a number of John Doe Unknown companies that were infringing its trademarks.  CHANEL TMK CHINA In the Complaint Chanel states:

“Defendants are partnerships or unincorporated business associations, which operate through domain names registered with registrars in multiple countries, commercial internet e-stores via the third party marketplace website C2Coffer.com, and commercial Internet auction store via the third party marketplace website iOffer.com, and are comprised of individuals and/or business entities of unknown makeup, all of whom, upon information and belief, reside in the People’s Republic of China or other foreign jurisdictions with lax trademark enforcement systems.”

On December 3, 2013, Concinnnitas and George W. Hindman filed patent cases against Huawei Device USA Inc. and ZTE. CONCINNATIS HUAWEI CONCINNATIS ZTE

On December 11, 2013, in addition to the 337 case Tyco sued Ningbo for patent infringement in Federal District court.  NINGBO PATENT

On December 12, 2013, US company Harmonic Drive LLC filed a trademark case against NAC Harmonic Drive, Inc., Harmonic Drive Canada and Beijing CTKM Harmonic Drive Co.  HARMONIC DRIVE

On December 18, 2013 Content Guard Holdings, Inc., filed a patent case against Huawei Device USA and other companies. CONTENT GUARD HUAWEI

On December 17, 2013, Microsoft sued Sichuan Changhong Electric Co., Ltd. for software piracy. MICROSOFT STOLEN SOFTWARE

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C CASE

As mentioned, the Vitamin C case is wrapping up at the District Court level.  Attached is the final judgment with a $153 million judgment against by Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Hebei”) and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. (“NCPGC”) for price fixing.  VITAMIN C FINAL JUDGMENT

On December 30, 2013, the Judge amended the order to add an additional $4,093,163.35 to pay the legal fees of the lawyers bringing the case against the Chinese companies.  See the attached documents.  ATTORNEYS FEES VITAMIN C FINAL AMENDED JUDGMENT VITAMIN C CASE

Hebei Welcome has announced that it is appealing the Court’s final judgment.

Boies Schiller, the Plaintiffs’ lawyer, also announced on December 11th that it was paying associate bonuses that were as high as $300,000, with the average distribution across the litigation firm’s 133 associates at $85,000.

It pays to sue Chinese companies.

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

As mentioned in the last post, Qualcomm, a US mobile chip maker, announced that it is the target of an antitrust investigation led by the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), China’s top economic planning body and antitrust authority.  Also Cisco announced that Chinese companies are reducing their purchases of Cisco equipment in response to the N.S.A. disclosures and the recent US Congressional activity aimed at curtailing purchases of equipment from Huawei and other Chinese companies.

There are three Chinese government entities entrusted with investigating and enforcing the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law, which was passed in 2007: the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the Ministry of Commerce, and the NDRC.  The fact that the antitrust investigation is coming from the NDRC, which is in charge of price supervision and inspection, suggests that the government’s objective is to make 4G service more affordable before its introduction next year.

This year, the commission led an inquiry into six foreign dairy companies, including Mead Johnson Nutrition and Groupe Danone, after allegations that they broke anti-monopoly rules and fixed prices.  The investigation resulted in a fine of $109 million, a record for anti-monopoly violations in China.

Now China is using antitrust cases to counterattack 337 patent cases.

INTERDIGITAL—CHINA BRINGS ANTITRUST CASES IN RESPONSE TO 337 CASE

In July 2011, Interdigital filed a section 337 patent case at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) against Huawei.  In response, on December 5, 2011, Huawei filed two complaints before the Shenzhen Intermediate People’s Court (the Shenzhen Court) in China, alleging that, by filing the section 337 case and engaging in certain patent practices, InterDigital had (1) abused its dominant market position, contrary to the Anti-Monopoly Law of the People’s Republic of China (AML), and (2) as an owner of several Standard Essential Patents (“SEP”) for 2G, 3G and 4G telecommunications technologies, it had failed to negotiate a fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory license for those patents.

On February 4, 2013, the Shenzhen Court ruled that InterDigital had abused its dominant market position and thus violated the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law by  tying its standard essential patents with non-standard essential patents during licensing negotiations and seeking injunctive relief against Huawei before the US Federal Court and in the section 337 case before the US ITC while still in negotiations with Huawei to force Huawei to accept unreasonable licensing terms, including excessive royalties.

InterDigital’s requirement that Huawei pay significantly (sometimes even 100 times) higher royalty rates than those required of Apple, Samsung and other companies for the same set of patents, even while Huawei’s global sales were much less than Apple and Samsung, appeared to the Courts to be prima facie evidence of discriminatory treatment. In addition, the Courts noted that InterDigital had also required Huawei to license back all of its global patents on a royalty-free basis (as of 31 December 2010, Huawei owned 31,869 Chinese patents, 8,892 PCT international patent applications and 8,279 overseas patents). To the Court, this appeared contrary to fair or reasonable principles.

The Shenzhen Court ordered InterDigital to cease its unlawful practices and pay Huawei $3.2 million in damages.

On October 28, 2013, there were reports that that the Guangdong Higher People’s Court affirmed most of the rulings of the Shenzhen Court, including the $3.2 million award in damages.

 Unfortunately, the decisions of both the Shenzhen Court and the Guangdong Higher People’s Court have not been publicly disclosed, possibly because of trade secret issues. Thus the following observations are based on media reports and an article by a Chinese attorney.

Apparently, the Chinese Court determined that the owner of a Standard Essentials Patent has a 100 per cent market share in the technology licensing market for that SEP and, therefore, a monopoly, no matter how the market is defined.   If the holder of the Standard Essentials Patent tries to extract supra competitive royalties from industry participants, that is abuse of monopoly power.  In addition, apparently, the Chinese courts determined that by seeking injunctive relief at the ITC under 337 against Huawei, a willing licensee, the conduct constituted an abuse of the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law.

Both the EC Competition Commission and the FTC have been concerned about the use of standard essential patents to exclude competition.

It should also be noted that the Chinese courts were also concerned that InterDigital’s principal business is patent licensing and that it does not manufacture any product. As a result, Huawei was in a weak bargaining position during licensing negotiations because cross-licensing would not be available, and InterDigital could make use of this advantage to extract more favorable contract terms from Huawei. The Shenzhen Court apparently found that InterDigital had tried to exploit this advantage, by insisting on unreasonably high royalties and requesting Huawei to license back its patents on a royalty-free basis.

There are reports that Qiu Yongqing, a senior judge at the Guangdong Higher People’s Court presiding over the case, is reported to have stated that Huawei “used antitrust law as a weapon to counterattack” monopolization by multinationals in the technology sector, and that other Chinese companies should learn from Huawei.

On December 16, 2013, the dispute between Interdigital and Huawei escalated. In a letter to the NDRC, Interdigital’s CEO announced that it would not send executives to a December 18th meeting with Chinese authorities over China’s monopoly investigation due to threats of possible imprisonment of Interdigital executives, which allegedly included U.S. counsel accompanying the firm to the meeting.

In a statement, CEO William Merritt said:

“To this date, we have cooperated fully with the NDRC’s investigation of our company, and continue to believe that we have done absolutely nothing wrong . . .  However, we are simply unable to comply with any investigation that is accompanied by a threat to the safety of our executives.”

Interdigital’s letter indicated also that the NDRC had informed it that its probe was sparked by InterDigital’s suit in the U.S. International Trade Commission against Chinese firms.

Meanwhile, there are reports out of China that the NDRC will recruit at least 170 new employees for the antitrust law enforcement team to battle price fixing.  The NDRC said its antitrust probes focus on six industries – aerospace, daily chemicals, automobiles, telecommunications, pharmaceuticals and home appliances.

Thus if a US Company brings a 337 IP case at the ITC against Chinese companies, it should be prepared for a possible antitrust case in China.

What goes around, comes around. 

SECURITIES

Attached is a description of Dorsey’s litigation team to handle for Chinese companies US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) and Class Actions Securities cases.  DORSEY SECURITIES LITIGATION TEAM

CHINESE AUDIT DOCUMENTS TURNED OVER TO SEC

On December 13, 2013, it was reported that Chinese governmental authorities have turned over more audit documents to U.S. regulators regarding U.S.-traded Chinese companies as part of a sweeping U.S. probe of accounting fraud by Chinese companies publicly traded in the US.

Audit documents regarding at least six Chinese companies trading on U.S. exchanges now have been either turned over to U.S. regulators or are “in the pipeline” to be furnished to the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”).

The fight for the audit document resulted from SEC efforts to probe a wave of accounting and disclosure problems at more than 100 U.S.-traded Chinese companies that surfaced starting in 2011. U.S. investors lost billions of dollars when the companies’ stocks plunged once the problems were disclosed. The SEC has filed more than a dozen lawsuits against some of these Chinese companies and their executives and has won settlements in some cases.

But the investigations have been impeded because China-based audit firms, including Chinese affiliates of the Big Four, have refused to hand over audit documents to the SEC out of fear that providing the documents would violate China’s strict state-secrecy rules, which could land their auditors in jail.

Ultimately, that dispute led to the agreement earlier this year, which addressed the audit firms’ concerns by having them give the documents to Chinese regulators, who then would provide them to the U.S.

SERVING CHINESE COMPANIES IN SECURITIES AND OTHER US LITIGATION BY J. JACKSON, DORSEY LITIGATION PARTNER

SERVICE ISSUES IN US LITIGATION AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES

By

J. Jackson, Partner and Chairman of Dorsey’s China Litigation Practice

Attached is a copy of the opinion in Bravetti v. Liu (D.N.J. December 11, 2013), SERVICE CHINESE RESPONDENTS Bavetti v Liu  which may be of interest to Chinese companies.  In Bravetti, Plaintiffs proceeding derivatively on behalf of American Oriental Bioengineering, Inc. sued current and former officer and directors, each of whom is a resident of the PRC.  The matter came before the Court, Magistrate Judge Bongiovanni, on Plaintiffs’ motion to allow service on the individual defendants by personally serving the U.S. counsel for the company, American Oriental.  Defendants opposed the motion, arguing that the Hague Convention provides the exclusive means for service of process on PRC’s residents and that service on U.S. counsel for the company did not comport with due process.  The Court rejected Defendants’ arguments and allowed service to proceed by personal service on U.S. counsel for the company.

Plaintiffs brought their motion under Rule 4(f)(3) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which provides,

“(f) Serving an Individual in a Foreign Country. Unless federal law provides otherwise, an individual—other than a minor, an incompetent person, or a person whose waiver has been filed—may be served at a place not within any judicial district of the United States:

*    *     *

(3) by other means not prohibited by international agreement, as the court orders.”

The Court allowed the requested service using the following analysis:  It began by acknowledging, “Courts may direct service when ‘the particularities and necessities of a given case require alternative service of process.’  See Rio Properties, Inc. v. Rio Int’l Interlink, 284 F.3d 1007 at 1016 (9th Cir. 2002).”

The Court further held that alternative service of process was not prohibited by the Hague Convention.  The Court noted that the Hague Convention does not apply “’where the address of the person to be served is not known.’”  Hague Convention, Art. 1.  Here, service was difficult under the Hague Convention, because the residences of the Defendants in the PRC was not known.  Further, the Court found that the Hague Convention does not apply because Plaintiff’s proposed method of service does not require the transmittal of documents abroad.  Under Khachatryan v. Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc., 578 F.Supp.2d 1224, 1228 (C.D. Cal. 2008), the Hague Convention did not apply where Khachatryan served Toyota Japan under California law in a manner which did not require the transmittal of documents abroad.  Here, the proposed method to serve Loeb & Loeb in the United States does not require the transmittal of documents abroad.  Thus, the Hague convention does not apply.

The Court last addressed Defendants’ Due Process argument, finding that service on the Company’s U.S. counsel is “reasonably calculated, under the circumstances, to apprise interested parties of the pendency of the action and afford them the opportunity to present their objections.”  Mullane v. Central Hanover Bank &Trust Co., 339 U.S. 306, 314 (1950).  In finding service on the company’s counsel appropriate here, the Court relied on opinions from the United States District Court for the Central District of California, including Brown v. China Integrated Energy, Inc., 285 F.R.D. 560, 566 (C.D. Cal. 2012) (citations omitted) and Rose v. Deer Consumer Products, Inc., 2011 WL 6951969, at *2 (C.D. Cal 2011), both of which allowed service on U.S. registered agents or counsel for individuals residing in the PRC.

Bravetti’s holding should not be limited to Securities derivative litigation.  Whenever a plaintiff finds itself faced with service on PRC residents who, either individually, by agency, or through direct or indirect counsel have a presence in the U.S., that plaintiff will be encouraged to proceed under Civil Procedure Rule 4(f)(3) and seek permission to allow service on their agents, their counsel, or the agents or counsel of the companies on which they serve.

Chinese companies need to keep these issues in mind when they participate in US litigation.

SEC ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS

Tom Gorman, a partner in our Washington DC office, who was originally with US Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC”) enforcement division, was quoted in the attached article about how the SEC has increased its enforcement capability after the Bernie Madoff case.  GORMAN SEC

COMPLAINTS

On December 2, 2013, the attached class action securities case was filed by John Hsieh against NQ Mobile and various individuals.  HSIEH NQ MOBILE

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

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