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

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC ReflectioFIRM UPDATE

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

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

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Obama went to state:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the GAO report states:

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

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

The GAO Report concludes at page 56-47:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are key points from these new regulations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA CHINESE VERSION OF THE ARTICLE

中国进口太阳能电池反倾销案即将到来的最后期限重返美国市场的机会

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEEL TRADE CASES

HOT ROLLED STEEL FLAT PRODUCTS

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR MARCH 11, 2016

MOVING TO NEW LAW FIRM, HARRIS MOURE

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

Bill Perry

TRADE UPDATES

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

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

The petition alleges that the Chinese companies:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The ITC notice is as follows:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Commodity: Carbon and Alloy Steel Products

Pending Institution

Filed By: Paul F. Brinkman

Firm/Organization: Quinn Emanuel Urrquhart & Sullivan LLP

Behalf Of: United States Steel Corporation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

March 11 Blog Post

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

THE TRUMP IMPACT ON US TRADE POLICY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Why is trade such a volatile issue this year?

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

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

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

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

For the full article, see

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

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

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

Disney employees being fired and forced to retrain foreign replacements;

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

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

In two word, this is economic nationalism.

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

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

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

Reason 5:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE REASON

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

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

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

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

CURRENCY MANIPULATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CYBER HACKING

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

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

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

DUMPING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ANSWER

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

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

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

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

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

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

TPP TEXT AND TRADE ADVISORY REPORTS

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

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

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

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

NEW TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Federal Register notice states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINA’S NME STATUS—ANOTHER HOT TOPIC FOR 2016

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

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

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

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

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

  • Price Comparability in Determining Subsidies and Dumping . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE

RAW ALUMINUM PROBLEMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE ONGOING STEEL CASES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Antidumping and countervailing duty cases do not save US industries.

CUSTOMS NEW “LIVE ENTRY” PROCEDURES FOR STEEL IMPORTS

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

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

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

SOLAR CELLS REVIEW DETERMINATION

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

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

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

MARCH ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

For those US import companies that imported : Chloropicrin, Circular Welded Austenitic Stainless Pressure Pipe, Glycine, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, or Tissue Paper Products during the antidumping period March 1, 2015-February28, 2016 or the countervailing duty period of review, calendar year 2015, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

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

CUSTOMS

RICO ACTION AGAINST CHINESE GARLIC EXPORTERS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CUSTOMS PROTEST RULE APPEALED TO SUPREME COURT

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

FALSE CLAIMS ACT

GRAPHITE ELECTRODES

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

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

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

NEW 337 CASES

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

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

CRIMINAL PATENT CASES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRODUCTS LIABILITY CASES AND LACY ACT VIOLATIONS

THE RISE OF CHINESE PRODUCTS LIABILITY INSURANCE

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

PRODUCT LIABILITY COMPLAINTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ANTITRUST

There have been developments in the antitrust area.

CHINESE BAUXITE EXPORTERS WIN ANTITRUST CASE

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

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

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

The Judge went on to state:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINESE COMPANIES SETTLE SOLYNDRA SOLAR CASE

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

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

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

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

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

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

SECURITIES

US LISTED CHINESE COMPANIES MOVING BACK TO CHINA TO RAISE MONEY

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

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

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT

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

China

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

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

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

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

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

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

China

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

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

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS.

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–DEVELOPMENTS IN TRADE , TAA, 337/IP, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

US Capitol South Side Fountain Night Stars Washington DC TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER NOVEMBER 25, 2014

DECEMBER 12, 2014 UPDATE–SOLAR NEGOTIATIONS AND NEW SOLAR ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE IN CANADA

Dear Friends,

On January 21st, I will be speaking at the Brooklyn Law School in New York City on US China Trade Disputes. The invitation to the speech is set forth below.

I look forward to seeing any of my friends at the speech.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 * Subotnick Center, 250 Joraelmon Street * Brooklyn Law School

2 FREE CLE credits

Two judges from the US Court of International Trade * partners from two leading law firms handling China trade disputes * professors from four law schools * former chairman of Federal Trade Commission * former congressman focused on US-China trade * former general counsel of MasterCard

REGISTRATION PROGRAM RECEPTION
5:30 PM 6-8 PM 8 PM onward

WELCOME Professor Nicholas W. Allard

Joseph Crea Dean and Professor of Law, Brooklyn Law School

INTRODUCTION

Professor Robin Effron

Co-Director, Dennis J. Block Center for the Study of International Business Law, Brooklyn Law School

FIRST PANEL: PURE TRADE DISPUTES

MODERATOR

Geoffrey Sant, Esq.

Adjunct Professor, Fordham Law School

Special Counsel, Dorsey & Whitney LLP

PANELISTS

The Honorable Donald Pogue

Senior Judge, US Court of International Trade

Professor Bill Kovacic

Global Competition Professor, George Washington Law School

Former Chairman of Federal Trade Commission

  

Bill Perry, Esq.

Partner, Dorsey & Whitney LLP

Formerly in Office of General Counsel, US International Trade Commission; Office of Chief Counsel and Office of Antidumping Investigation, U.S. Department of Commerce

Don Bonker

Executive Director, APCO Worldwide, Inc.

Former US Congressman (D-WA); former Chairman of Subcommittee on International Economic Policy and Trade

SECOND PANEL: DISPUTES BETWEEN TRADE PARTNERS

MODERATOR

  1. Augustine Lo, Esq.

Dosey & Whitney LLP

PANELISTS

Chris Cloutier, Esq.

Partner, King & Spalding LLP

Former Acting Deputy Director of Trade Remedy Compliance, US Department of Commerce (at US Embassy in Beijing, China)

Professor Thomas Lee

Leitner Family Professor of International Law, Fordham Law School

Noah Hanfft, Esq.

President; CEO of International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution

Former General Counsel of MasterCard

Professor Zhao Yun

Director of the Center for Chinese Law, University of Hong Kong

CLOSING REMARKS The Honorable Claire Kelly

Judge, US Court of International Trade

Trustee, Brooklyn Law School

RECEPTION

8 PM onward

THIS EVENT IS FREE, BUT RSVPS ARE REQUIRED

RSVP to events@cblalaw.org

About the Program The United States and China are major trading partners. Trade issues between the two nations take center stage as leaders negotiate new trade treaties and struggle to resolve disputes under existing legal frameworks. Brooklyn Law School and the Chinese Business Lawyers Association present an evening of dialogue among leading practitioners and professors who will examine current issues in trade disputes between the U.S. and China.

Sponsored by the Dennis J. Block Center for International Business Law, Chinese Business Law Association (CBLA), ABA Section of International Law, and the Trade Secrets Institute(TSI).

WE EXPECT ALL SEATS TO BE RSVP’D.  TO ATTEND, PLEASE RSVP AS SOON AS POSSIBLE TO events@cblalaw.org OR TO www.brooklaw.edu/tradedisputes

For directions, please visit: www.brooklaw.edu/directions

Thank you!

Geoffrey Sant, Director

Chinese Business Lawyers Association

This course provides two (2) CLE credits in the State of New York. Partial credit is not available. The credits are transitional and non-transitional and the category is Professional Practice.

US CHINA SOLAR NEGOTIATIONS

Several companies have asked me about a possible US-China settlement in the Solar Cells/Solar Products cases.  Today, December 12th, USTR Michael Froman acknowledged that Washington and Beijing have held talks about the Solar cases for “some time”.  During a conference call with Reporters, Froman stated that a stable environment for trade in solar products and polysilicon would have three components.  The first is to ensure that trade laws are being enforced. The second and third components are to enable the further deployment of clean technology and address issues like climate change, and “to maintain world class industries in both our countries to manufacture these important products.”

But knowledgeable people stated that talks have slowed in recent weeks, following a period of intense engagement prior to President Obama’s state visit to China in November, which ended without an agreement.  A major reason for this failure is because SolarWorld Americas, the petitioner in the U.S. trade remedy cases, stated that it could not accept the parameters that Chinese producers were willing to offer, and the U.S. government was unwilling to push the company to give ground.  In contrast to Europe, Canada, many other countries and even China, the United States does not have a public interest test in its US antidumping and countervailing duty laws and, therefore, the US government has less power to push a settlement.

The deadline for Commerce to accept a potential agreement to suspend the ongoing antidumping (AD) or countervailing duty (CVD) cases against Chinese solar panels has long passed. Thus settling the dispute will require a broader agreement, such as in 2006 U.S.-Canada Softwood Lumber Agreement, under which Canada agreed to impose export taxes and/or quotas on its exports of softwood lumber to the United States, in return for the U.S. government stopping the collection of trade remedy duties on those products.

SolarWorld has stated that it could accept a package that would do away with the various trade cases if four key conditions were met. The first three are that the agreement be enforceable by Commerce, set a floor price on imports of Chinese solar cells, and include a quantitative restriction on the volume of imports. The fourth condition is that the floor price on imports of Chinese solar cells be indexed to the market price for polysilicon.  Knowledgeable sources, however, have said that the floor price is key sticking point.

Commerce Secretary Penny Prtizker also stated that she did not expect the final Solar Products determination to have any impact on the JCCT negotiations, which will soon take place in Chicago.

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

CANADA SOLAR CASE

An importer has contacted me about a new Solar Module and Panel Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Petition filed in Canada. On December 5, 2014, the Canadian government initiated the investigation. See the attached petition and announcement of the Canadian government.  CANADIAN SOLAR COMPLAINT CANADIAN SOLAR ANNOUNCEMENT

The Solar Trade War with China is now beginning to follow a similar pattern with other trade wars against Chinese products. An antidumping/countervailing duty case is filed in the US or the EU followed by many, many cases around the World.

In the early 1990s, a US antidumping case was brought against Garlic from China. I represented a number of US importers in the case and tried to represent the Chinese exporters/producers. In a very unusual situation, an official at the Chinese Chamber of Commerce refused to let any Chinese company respond to the US antidumping case and since the Chamber controlled export licenses, the official had the power to stop participation.

As a result, the Commerce Department levied antidumping duties of 376% against Chinese garlic, and that antidumping order is in place today, almost 20 years after the petition was filed.  But that was not the worst part of the case, the Garlic case spread to numerous other countries, including EU, India, Japan, Korea, Brazil, Mexico and other countries. Pretty soon 20 to 30 countries had trade orders against Chinese garlic blocking all exports of Chinese garlic, and Chinese garlic prices dropped like a rock. Garlic was very cheap in Beijing.

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

If anyone has any questons about this case or the ongoing US Solar Cells and Solar Products case, please feel free to contact me.

If anyone wants specific help on the Canadian case, please let me know and I will put them in touch with Canadian trade counsel.

NOVEMBER 25, 2014 POST

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

This month the blog post has grown substantially because there have been so many developments in the trade and political area, especially with regards to China.

TRADE POLITICS AND TRADE AGREEMENTS WITH CHINA

THE REPUBLICAN WAVE ELECTION CHANGES THE TRADE POLITICAL LANDSCAPE IN WASHINGTON DC

No matter whether you are a Republican or a Democrat, in looking at trade issues, including the trade laws and the relationship between the US and China, one must deal with political reality in Washington DC. Elections have consequences, and the November 4th Republican wave election will have consequences for years to come.

Not only did the Republicans take the Senate, but no one expected the Republicans to take 8 seats with potentially another coming from Louisiana so Republicans at the end of January 2015 will control the Senate 53 or 54 to 47 or 46.

In the House of Representatives with 5 races still undecided Republicans gained 12 sets. They now hold 245 seats to 187. One can see how the political map has changed in the House by looking at http://www.politico.com/2014-election/results/map/house/. In the House, the United States has turned into a red Republican sea.

As it stands now, this is the largest Republican majority since 1946. If 3 of the 5 outstanding House seats go Republican, it will be the largest Republican majority since the 1930s under Herbert Hoover, before Franklin Delano Roosevelt was President. To say that this election was historic is an understatement.

As Dana Milbank, a Washington Post columnist, who is not viewed as a Republican/conservative partisan, states in his November 14th Washington Post column:

“There are five 2014 House races still to be decided before we can answer the question of historical interest:

Was this the worst election for House Democrats since 1928? Or was it merely their worst since 1946?

Either way, the results do not reflect well on the House Democratic leader, Nancy Pelosi – a conclusion that seems to have escaped Nancy Pelosi.

“I do not believe what happened the other night is a wave”, the former speaker informed Politico. . . . She preferred to describe what happened in the House elections as an “ebb tide.”

If Democrats lose three of the five undecided races, they will have ebbed all the way back to the day Herbert Hoover won the Presidency. To fail to see that as a wave, Pelosi must be far out to sea.”

The 2014 election for Democrats was not a wave. It was a tsunami, and now the political reality has changed dramatically in Washington DC. The most dramatic impact will be in the trade area because that is the one area that Senate and House Republicans can work on together with President Obama.

As indicated below, under the Trade Agreements discussion, President Obama’s problem in the Trade area is not with the Republicans, but with the Democrats. Although many Democrats want to call themselves progressive, because of substantial Union support, a number of powerful Democrats do not want progress on trade. They are opposed to Free Trade Agreements that lower barriers to imports. In fact, several Democrats want to raise barriers to imports.

Most Republicans are not opposed to the Free Trade Agreements because they firmly believe that Free Markets will result in more business and a substantial increase in economic activity for US companies and more jobs for US workers.

On November 5th the day after the election, many former US government officials were predicting that Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”), which will lead to the Free Trade Agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), would be one of the first issues taken up by the new Republican majority.   TPA is the centerpiece of the administration’s trade policy, as it will set forth negotiating priorities for the next several years.

While a bipartisan TPA bill emerged earlier this year, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev refused to introduce the bill on the floor. The change of the majority to the trade-friendly Republicans removes that problem.

According to former United State Trade Representative (“USTR”) Clayton Yeutter, with the Obama administration pushing for a final 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership as soon as possible, securing TPA will be the number one objective and will likely rise to the top of the Republican agenda. As former USTR Yeutter stated:

“The challenge will be to get fast-track done as early as possible and I believe that all the folks in congressional leadership positions understand that fully. I would look for it to be one of the very first issues on the Congressional agenda next year.”

Present USTR Michael Froman also expressed optimism, stating:

“I think ultimately this is an area where there’s a lot of bipartisan support for trade. It’s one of the areas that cuts across party lines, one area that we think we can make progress in, and we look forward to working with Congress after the election on Trade Promotion Authority and on our trade agenda more generally, in a way that has broad bipartisan support.”

In addition, the new Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee will be Republican Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah and he has a close working relationship with the present Chairman, Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden of Oregon. As indicated in past newsletters, Senator Hatch has been very open about the need to pass TPA through the Congress and he will be very active on this issue.

The chances of passing a fast-track bill in the upcoming lame-duck session of Congress are slim because the objective according to recent reports is to end the session on December 11th.  In the new Congress, however, TPA will be very important because Republicans have publicly warned the Administration not to conclude the TPP talks before TPA is concluded. As indicated below, without TPA no final deal will be concluded because countries like Japan and Canada will not put their best proposals on the table.  Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, for example, in particular, will be reluctant to strike a deal if there is a chance it could be altered legislatively at a later date.

As former USTR Yeutter stated:

“It will be exceedingly difficult to wrap up TPP without TPA. Abe and Japan don’t want to have to make tough political decisions twice.”

As a further example, in the attached e-mail, WAYS AND MEANS TRADE A PLUS on November 13, 2014, the House Ways and Means Committee released an article by Bryan Riley from The Hill stating:

Free Trade is a Winner in Recent Elections

By Bryan Riley, The Hill contributor

Riley is the Heritage Foundation’s Jay Van Andel Senior Policy Analyst in Trade Policy.

In Georgia, Iowa, Massachusetts and North Carolina, the midterm elections proved that candidates shouldn’t be afraid to talk about the benefits of trade. They also demonstrated that candidates tempted to employ protectionist scare tactics in their campaigns should think twice.

In Iowa, Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst’s campaign argued: “Congressman [Bruce] Braley’s Anti-Free Trade Votes are bad for Iowa Farmers.”

According to Politico: Iowa Republicans, in one of the tightest Senate races in the country, are trying to capitalize on Democratic Rep. Bruce Braley’s record of voting against trade agreements to help hand their candidate, Joni Ernst, the victory. Braley, whose state is heavily dependent on farm exports, voted against free trade pacts with South Korea, Colombia and Panama in 2011, even after President Barack Obama’s administration re-negotiated several provisions to round up more Democratic support. “The South Korean trade deal was huge,” Agriculture Secretary Bill Northey told POLITICO in an interview. “Everyone knew it was a clear, clear win for agriculture and it would have been a terrible not to have it. For him to vote against that I just think is a major red flag.”

Ernst defeated Braley, 52.2 percent to 43.7 percent.

In North Carolina’s Senate race, Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan said:

“Unfair trade agreements have contributed to the loss of more than 286,000 North Carolina manufacturing jobs in the last decade — the fourth-largest decline in the nation. It is time we start protecting jobs here at home.” Her campaign spokesman added: “Kay opposed trade agreements that ship North Carolina jobs overseas because she will always put North Carolina jobs first.”

Her Republican opponent, Thom Tillis, disagreed: “As agriculture exports increase, Thom believes we must promote policies that make trade with other nations free and efficient in order to stimulate our economy and allow North Carolina farmers and ranchers to expand their businesses.”

Tillis defeated Hagan, 49.0 percent to 47.3 percent.

In Massachusetts, the Democratic Governors Association released an ad attacking Republican gubernatorial candidate Charlie Baker: “Baker won the Outsourcing Excellence Award at the ‘Oscars of Outsourcing’ for his work destroying jobs here at home.” Baker replied that outsourcing some jobs to India allowed Massachusetts insurer Harvard Pilgrim to save thousands of jobs at home. Former Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas F. Reilly (D) called the outsourcing attacks “exactly the kind of nonsense that drives people away from the political process.”

Baker defeated Democrat Martha Coakley, 48.5 percent to 46.6 percent.

In Georgia, Democratic senatorial hopeful Michelle Nunn attempted to smear her Republican opponent David Perdue for outsourcing jobs to other countries: “David Perdue, he’s not for you,” her ad proclaimed. When a reporter asked Perdue to defend his use of outsourcing, he replied: “Defend it? I’m proud of it. … It’s the lack of understanding of the free enterprise system that I’m running against here.”

Perdue beat Nunn, 53.0 percent to 45.1 percent.

After the Massachusetts and Georgia elections, Computerworld reported:

“Offshore outsourcing fails as election issue: A longtime Democratic bludgeon isn’t enough to move needle.” In contrast, candidates who embraced the benefits of trade, like Joni Ernst and Thom Tillis, emerged victorious.

Promoting free trade is good economics, too. A comparison of trade policy around the world, developed by the Heritage Foundation and The Wall Street Journal in the annual Index of Economic Freedom, shows a strong correlation between trade freedom and prosperity.

Washington Post columnist Steven Pearlstein observed that outsourcing saves U.S. businesses and consumers billions of dollars each year:

“Those savings and those extra profits aren’t put under the mattress. Most of it is spent or invested in the United States in ways that are hard to track but have surely created hundreds of thousands of jobs in other companies and other industries. Those who hold those jobs would have no reason to know that they are beneficiaries of the process of outsourcing and globalization. But in a very real sense, they are.”

Most economists agree that criticizing trade is bad policy. Last week’s election results suggest it may be bad politics, too.

But as also indicated below, that is where Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies comes into play.  Trade Agreements are a result of Government action that will change the market, not only around the World but also in the United States. With market barriers dropping in a number of different countries, many US competitive companies will see their exports increase.  Experts predict that the TPP, for example, could increase economic activity by $1 trillion.

But this Government action will also change the US market place, and a number of US companies will face a market that has completely changed, a trade tsunami created by Government action.  Because Government action has created the trade tsunami, the Government has an obligation to help companies adapt to the new marketplace conditions.  When I say companies, I mean not just the management, but the workers in the company too.

As explained more below, the Government has a responsibility to help US companies swim in the new competitive marketplace sea that has been created by the Trade Agreements.

FORMER CONGRESSMAN DON BONKER’S CHINA DAILY ARTICLE ON THE IMPACT OF THE ELECTION ON US CHINA RELATIONS

APCO Executive Director Don Bonker, a former Democratic Congressman and an expert on the political issues in US China Trade Relations, published the following November 7th article in the China Daily on the election, which can be found at http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/us/2014-11/07/content_18881045.htm.  Don puts the November 4th election into a historical perspective:

Election results a mixed blessing for China

By Don Bonker (China Daily USA)

Republicans exceeded early predictions scoring big time in Tuesday’s election, taking full control of the US Senate, increasing their margin in the House of Representatives along with many victories across the country.  For the next two years, the United States will have a truly divided government with the Republicans claiming a new mandate to push an alternative agenda.

While many factors were in play in the 2014 election (Obama’s poor ratings, huge amounts of campaign spending, etc), the fundamentals in recent history clearly favored the Republican Party.  The party of whoever occupies the White House in mid-term elections suffers nominal loses of Senate and House seats and predictably weakens the President’s political standing. As we are reminded by David Schanzer and Jay Sullivan in the New York Times, “This is a bipartisan phenomenon; Democratic presidents have lost an average of 31 House seats and between 4-5 Senate seats in mid-terms; Republican presidents have lost 20 and 3 seats respectively.”

How will the election results affect the US-China relationship?

Neither Republicans nor Democrats have well-defined or predictable policies toward China. In recent years, a small group in Congress has attacked China on a select number of issues but such actions are not part of either Congressional leader’s agenda.  Existing Federal laws, such a CFIUS, provide opportunities for a single Congressman to go after China, often to lend support to a company in his state.

Republicans, known to be pro-trade and pro-business, taking control of the Senate should be a healthy sign in building closer relations with China, especially since governors in their states are leading trade missions to China, seeking Chinese investments and pursuing markets for their exporting companies.

However, individual Republican Senators have sent letters to CFIUS and other Federal agencies opposing China-related investments and transactions. Many senior Republicans in Congress have expressed skepticism over China due to its government’s Communist Party control, reported human rights concerns, US support of Taiwan and Japan, China’s military build-up, economic espionage and geopolitical or national security threats that could put pressure on the Obama Administration to be more assertive with China.

Several well-positioned Republican Congressmen have caused the biggest headaches for China. The issue, or fear, is rooted in cybersecurity threats and economic espionage that has led to Congressional investigations and legislation that greatly restrict China companies, such as Huawei and ZTE, from having access to telecommunication and related technology markets in the US. The two Congressmen who were responsible for these actions are retiring at the end of this year. The question is whether their replacements will continue such policies.

A related concern is the so-called Tea Party’s growing influence that has put Republican Congressional leaders in a difficult position given the Tea Party’s enduring political base and its extreme views on major issues (education and trade). It will likely affect the China relationship in negative ways, particularly on trade (“protect American jobs”) and on cyber and economic espionage issues.

The Democrats have their own agenda which occasionally proves hostile to China. Several occupy leadership positions on committees that preside over government agencies and assert their political clout to press for higher import tariffs and related trade restrictions. This has more to do with politics than economics, particularly in the election season when labor unions pressure, if not intimidate Democratic candidates to “protect American jobs”. Such protectionist policies are now prompting China to take reciprocal actions that may be placing China and America on the path of a trade war.

Despite the encouraging bilateral discussions on the Bilateral Trade Agreement (BIT), there is no guarantee what happens once it arrives on the doorstep of the US Capitol.

Overall, the newly established Congress preparing for 2015 may be more favorable to China given the departures of some if its Capitol Hill critics, but a great deal of anxiety about China will continue – mistrust, economic and security threats and China’s economy surpassing the US’ in the foreseeable future.

In the Senate, the Republicans taking control will create a different political paradigm but with little indication on how it will play out over the next two years. The new political alignment will offer a narrow window for Congressional Republicans to provide stronger leadership and promote their own agenda and could result in more favorable actions (approval of TPP and TTIP trade pacts).

But that is in the short-term. It is unlikely the Republicans maintain the Senate majority in the 2016 elections, but the House of Representatives will comfortably stay in Republican control (given the shape of Congressional districts) for some time into the future. With a Democrat occupying the White House this will likely guarantee continued gridlock in Washington for the next decade.

The 2016 presidential election may be more favorable to Democrats for the same reasons the Republicans scored well this year. Barack Obama is not on the ballot and the Democrats will be far more unified (under Hillary Clinton) than the Republicans (the party may likely be split).

In 2016, the Republicans will have 23 Senate positions on the ballot compared to 10 for Democrats (also likely retirements/resignations). And the voter turn-out will jump back to 53 percent, which greatly favors Democrats in presidential elections. So whether political history will prevail and the Democrats re-take the Senate in 2016 or Republicans will defy the odds and remain in power is the big question going forward.

BILATERAL US CHINA TRADE AGREEMENTS

APEC AND PRESIDENT OBAMA’S TRIP TO BEIJING

Right after the mid-term elections, President Obama made a major trip to Beijing, China for the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation (“APEC”) meeting.  As indicated below, President Obama’s Administration had set a target date for completing the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) talks at the APEC meeting. That did not happen, but there were several historic agreements that did come out of the meetings with the US and Chinese Government.

In the attached White House Statement and Fact Sheet, WHITE HSE STATE CHINA VISIT PRESS CONF CHINA US the US and Chinese governments announced that China will now grant 10 year visas to US businessmen and tourists and that there will be enhanced enforcement against counterfeit goods.

During the attached Joint Press Conference, the two Presidents announced a new Information Technology Agreement (ITA) and an agreement on Climate Change. President Obama stated that a strong, cooperative relationship with China is at the heart of the United States’ policy to Asia, and stated that the United States needs the world’s second-largest economy and the most populous nation on Earth as its partner in order to lead in addressing global challenges. As President Obama stated, “[I]t is a fact that when we work together, it’s good for the United States, it’s good for China, and it is good for the world.”

President Xi Jinping of China made several important points in response to questions, but several of the most important are:

“The strategic significance of China-U.S. relations is on the rise. . . . Both President Obama and I believe that when China and the United States work together, we can become an anchor of world stability and a propeller of world peace. China stands ready to work with the United States to firm up our confidence, exercise our wisdom, and take action to strengthen our coordination and cooperation bilaterally, regionally and globally; and to effectively manage our differences on sensitive issues so that we can make new gains in building the new model of major-country relations between China and the United States, which serves the fundamental interests of our two peoples and the people elsewhere in the world.

China and the United States have different historical and cultural traditions, social systems, and faces of development. So it’s natural that we don’t see eye to eye on every issue. But there have always been more common interests between China and the United States than the differences between us. Both sides respect each other’s core interests and major concerns and manage our differences in a constructive fashion, full dialogue and consultation so as to uphold the overall interests of stable growth of China-U.S. relations. . . .

China and the United States are different countries in the world. It’s perfectly normal for there to be different views expressed about us in the international media. And I don’t think it’s worth fussing over these different views. And I don’t see any of the regional free-trade arrangements as targeting against China. China is committed to open regionalism. And we believe the various regional cooperation initiatives and mechanisms should have positive interaction with each other, and that is the case at the moment.”

On Tuesday November 12th, President Obama’s state visit to China ended with the ITA and Climate agreements, joint pledges to continue talks on a bilateral investment treaty (BIT), a new international deal curbing export credits, and continued dialogue regarding their persisting differences over the use of agricultural biotechnology.

President Obama had planned to press China on several other issues, including alleged discriminatory enforcement of its anti-monopoly law (AML), intellectual property (IP) protections, including cyber theft of IP, and China’s slow approval process for biotechnology traits. Only biotechnology, however, was addressed in a White House fact sheet on U.S.-China economic relations, stating:

“The United States and China reached consensus to intensify science-based agricultural innovation for food security. The United States and China commit to strengthen dialogue to enable the increased use of innovative technologies in agriculture.”

At the Press Conference, President Obama stated that he did address IP, “I stressed the importance of protecting intellectual property as well as trade secrets, especially against cyber-threats.”

The other major announcement that came out of Obama’s visit to China was in the area of climate change. On that issue, the two sides reached an agreement on the targets for the cuts they will make to carbon emissions post-2020.

Last week CSPAN, the US Public Affairs station, did a 45 minute interview with Dorsey Partner, Tom Lorenzen on the US China Climate Change agreement. Until joining Dorsey in 2013, Tom was at the Justice Department from 2004 where he was the Assistant Chief in the U.S. Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division (ENRD). During that time, he supervised the federal government’s legal defense of all Environmental Protection Agency rules, regulations and other final actions judicially reviewable under the various federal pollution control statutes. See the video at http://www.c-span.org/video/?322770-3/washington-journal-thomas-lorenzen-uschina-carbon-reduction-deal.

On November 12th, the China Daily stated with regards to the Information Technology Agreement (ITA):

“The two countries reached a breakthrough on Tuesday in Beijing to accelerate the expansion of the World Trade Organization’s Information Technology Agreement (ITA), which could help eliminate $1 trillion in tariffs on high-tech product sales globally. The deal would allow the “swift conclusion” on talks to enlarge the ITA at the WTO meeting in Geneva later this year.”

USTR Michael Froman stated in Beijing that it was good news for US companies that are keen to see global tariffs further cut on products such as medical equipment, GPS devices, video game consoles and next generation semiconductors.  The agreement now covers more than $4 trillion in annual trade.

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

But the Agreement between China and the United States in the High Tech area will lead to additional negotiations with other countries at the WTO in Geneva, which are scheduled to resume in December. The ITA negotiations broke down in November 2013, after the U.S. and other participants rejected China’s tariff offer as insufficient. Since then, the U.S. and European Union have been trying to persuade China to come back to the table with a better offer.

The agreement between the U.S. and China does not mean the ITA talks are concluded. The two parties will now have to go back to the more than two-dozen other participants – including the European Union, Japan and South Korea – to negotiate a final ITA package. But sources in Geneva are cautiously optimistic that the deal could move forward. The expanded ITA would also eliminate import duties on a range of additional technology products including high-tech medical devices, video cameras, and an array of high-tech ICT testing instruments.  A White House fact sheet stated that the expansion of the ITA pact would eventually eliminate tariffs on roughly $1 trillion in annual global sales of information technology products and boost the annual global GDP by an estimated $190 billion.

On November 14th it was reported that sources in Geneva predicted that the ITA agreement could result in a final deal this December. Although other countries are not expected to block the deal, other countries will push for changes. EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom stated that she welcomed the U.S.-China understanding and that the EU “[intends] to take all necessary steps to finalize the agreement in the coming weeks.”

If the agreement is completed, it will take very little for the U.S. to implement the lowered tariffs. This is because Congress had already authorized further tariff reductions when it passed the Uruguay Round Agreements Act in 1994. This is in contrast to the TPP and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (“TTIP”), which are two new agreements that would require congressional authorization before they went into effect.

On November 12th, President Obama and President Xi also announced an agreement to speed up talks on a comprehensive Bilateral Investment Treaty (“BIT”), which is considered to be the foundation for future United States-China trade agreements. At the Press Conference President Xi announced that “We agreed to accelerate the negotiations of the BIT, and we will make efforts to reach agreement on the core issues and the major articles of the treaty text.” The two countries also agreed to “work together to promote innovation in agriculture and food security.”

Trade pundits were reporting that the Republican victory along with the movement in Beijing will give a much-needed boost to the WTO and Obama’s ambitious trade agenda. This has led to a bullish optimistic attitude about the next two years of trade policy.

As indicated below, this victory in Beijing with the close of the APEC meeting was followed on November 13th by a break through with India on the Trade Facilitation Agreement (“TFA”), which the Indian Government had held up on food security grounds.  On November 13th U.S. and Indian trade officials announced they had reached a deal to end the impasse over the WTO trade facilitation Agreement.  Under the deal, India agreed to drop its opposition to the trade facilitation pact in exchange for a commitment from the U.S. to keep in place a so-called peace clause that would shield developing countries’ food security programs from legal challenges until the WTO agrees on a new set of rules governing those programs.

Numerous observers, including new European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, hailed the bilateral agreement as a boost for the WTO, which had been criticized as irrelevant as a forum for global trade talks in light of the trade facilitation breakdown. Commissioner Malmstrom stated, “I am particularly pleased today as the breakthrough gives new momentum to the WTO and restores trust among members and the credibility of multilateral trade negotiations.”

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—TPA, TPP, TTIP/TA AND BALI/DOHA ROUND—NO FINAL DEAL AT APEC MEETING IN BEIJING

TPA FACED HEADWINDS IN CONGRESS BUT THEN THE ELECTION HAPPENED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On April 9, 2014, the new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden announced at a speech to the American Apparel & Footwear Association Conference that he was introducing a new TPA bill, what Senator Wyden calls Smart Track.  But to date no details have been given about exactly what Smart Track will mean, and the Republican victory on November 4th probably means that Smart Track will be washed away by the Republican wave.

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

Now the story continues . . . .

On October 15th in Tokyo, acting Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Wendy Cutler emerged from four days of meetings in Tokyo stating that both sides are working “as hard and creatively as possible” to resolve their bilateral issues. She went on to state:

“We were encouraged by the progress we made this week during our negotiations, but we need to underscore that the issues before us are tough. The issues range from achieving meaningful market access across all agricultural products to establishing a strong and effective dispute settlement mechanism in the auto sector.”

The difficult negotiating areas include five agricultural categories—rice, wheat and barley, beef and pork, dairy products and sugar—as well as autos and auto parts.

After ending the talks with his counterpart, Japanese negotiator Hiroshi Oe added, however, that both sides have “mountains of work to do. We are far from saying, ‘We did it.’ We still have the most difficult areas that have yet to be resolved.”

The U.S.-Japan meetings closed just a day after Mexico’s top trade official, Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo, speaking in Washington, D.C. made clear that the rest of the TPP countries view the US Japan negotiations as a critical step toward progress in the full negotiations,  “It is clear for anybody that knows about trade negotiations that if these two big trading partners, Japan and the U.S. do not come to an agreement, it has domino consequences on the rest of the 12 countries.”

But then came Sidney and then Beijing with no breakthrough in part because of no TPA Agreement.

Meanwhile, on October 16th, according to analysis of the document by Public Citizen, it was reported that a leaked draft of the TPP Intellectual Property Chapter obtained by WikiLeaks could lead to delayed access to pharmaceutical drugs in a dozen countries, including the U.S., and would contradict White House policies aimed at cutting Medicare and Medicaid costs. According to Public Citizen, at issue in the draft is a U.S. proposal to give an advantage to the pharmaceutical industry and “provide long automatic monopolies for biotech drugs or biologics” contradicting the pledge included in past White House budgets to shorten the same monopoly periods to reduce cost burdens on Medicare and Medicaid.

Public Citizen said it remains concerned that these provisions would give large brand-name drug firms a way to “impose rules” on Pacific Rim economies that “will raise prices on medicine purchases for consumers and governments. If the TPP is ratified with this U.S.-proposed provision included, Congress would be unable to reduce monopoly periods without risking significant penalties and investor-state arbitration.”

In Sidney the leaked IP draft resulted in a number of civil society organizations and Australian lawmakers voicing opposition to the deal citing many trouble spots.  A group of Australian politicians along with public health and copyright experts convened at Australia’s Parliament house lawn to condemn possible TPP trade-offs as talks resumed in Canberra.  Australian green party Sen. Peter Whish-Wilson stated that “the leaked documents indicate that the government is on course to hand over protections for human rights, public health, the environment and Internet freedom.”

On October 24th, in a letter six Congressmen, including Sens. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Jay Rockefeller, D-W.V., and John Thune, R-S.D., the ranking members of the Senate Finance and Commerce committees, stated that USTR Michael Froman should oppose any proposals in the TPP negotiations that would needlessly limit internet traffic, including the cross-border transfer, storage or processing of data, and protect the unfettered transfer of commercial data and digital trade.  According to the letter, eight countries, including TPP members Mexico and Vietnam, have or are considering policies to limit their Internet traffic.

As a result of all these concerns, Rep. Sander Levin, D-Mich, ranking Democratic Congressman on the House Ways and Means Committee, traveled to Sydney, Australia, to closely observe the status of the TPP talks. Levin took the unusual step of arranging meetings with trade ministers from the TPP nations during their Oct. 25-27 session in an effort to gather more information about TPP’s more contentious unsettled areas. Levin, who is from Detroit, has long been an advocate of the U.S. automotive industry, which has been blocked out of the Japanese market for decades. More broadly, Levin also called for the final TPP to bind its member countries to upholding the highest possible environmental, labor and human rights protections.

On October 27th in Sidney, Australia trade ministers for countries negotiating the TPP hailed “significant progress” in the talks during their three-day meeting in Australia, but stopped short of announcing a breakthrough.  Opening the meeting, USTR Michael Froman stressed that the outstanding TPP issues are among the most contentious in the agreement, but that negotiators have taken efforts to ensure that they are resolved as smoothly as possible.  President Obama had targeted the APEC meeting in Beijing on November 10th as a “deadline” to conclude the negotiations, but critical to the conclusion of the 12-nation TPP talks are the bilateral deliberations between the U.S. and Japan, which also continued in Australia.

After returning from Sidney, Congressman Levin expressed his concern about the current status of the TPP talks in Australia calling for more transparency in negotiations and an increased focus on its details.  Levin stated that “it is “vital to have an open door for a broad understanding and involvement on how they should be resolved, with increased transparency.”

Levin said that although a compromise he helped negotiate, referred to as the “May 10 agreement,” had significantly improved the TPP in the realms of workers’ rights, environmental protections and access to medicines, it is “vital that TPP build on them, not weaken them.” Levin noted the opportunities and challenges inherent with the diversity of economies represented within the TPP membership, pointing out Malaysia’s and Vietnam’s “very different” economies from the U.S.

On October 27th, following the negotiations in Sidney, the Ministers and Heads of Delegation for the TPP countries issued the attached statement, TPP ACTUAL JOINT STATEMENT AUSTRALIA, which provides in part:

“We consider that the shape of an ambitious, comprehensive, high standard and balanced deal is crystallizing. We will continue to focus our efforts, and those of our negotiating teams, to consult widely at home and work intensely with each other to resolve outstanding issues in order to provide significant economic and strategic benefits for each of us. We now pass the baton back to Chief Negotiators to carry out instructions we have given.”

On October 30, 2014, despite a push from numerous business groups, it was reported that it would be very difficult to pass TPA in the lame duck session, which is the time between the election on November 4th and the inauguration of the new Congress in January 2015.

On October 31st, USTR Mike Froman made clear that the 12 nations negotiating the TPP deal did not expect a final deal at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (“APEC”) conference in Beijing. As Froman stated:

“No, we do not expect to have a final agreement on TPP at APEC. All the TPP leaders will be present, so it will be a good opportunity to have conversations with each other about TPP, about whatever outstanding issues are left … and to give more political impetus to getting it done.”

Froman said that negotiators are still at work on the deal:

“We are making very good progress in closing out issues, narrowing the differences on remaining issues but we still have a ways to go and we are going to continue to work. We think the substance of the negotiation ought to drive the timetable. We’re not going to live by an arbitrary deadline but we are all focused on getting it done as soon as possible.”

On November 6th, after the election, business Leaders announced that they were increasing pressure to take up the TPA during the lame duck, but Mike Dolan, Teamsters’ legislative representative, said that fast track “won’t go anywhere during Lame Duck.” A broad coalition of labor, consumer groups sent over half a million petition signatures to Congress opposing TPA for the pending TPP.

In response to a question about the chance for a vote in the remaining weeks of the current Congress, Senate Finance Committee ranking Republican Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) stated, “Whether that happens during the lame duck is ultimately up to Democratic leadership.” Senator Hatch also stated that he believes there would be strong support to pass trade promotion authority in the “lame duck” session of Congress if Senate Democratic leaders decide to allow a vote. Senator Hatch, the new Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced the TPA bill along with former Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, now the U.S. ambassador to China, and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.

On November 10th in Beijing President Barack Obama and the leaders of the other 11 countries negotiating the TPP stated that a final agreement is now “coming into focus,” but declined to set a firm deadline for the completion of the talks. The 12 leaders, meeting on the sidelines of the APEC summit in Beijing, issued a joint statement commending the progress made by their negotiating teams over the past several weeks and kept up the pressure to finalize the TPP in the near future. The leaders stated:

“With the end coming into focus, we have instructed our ministers and negotiators to make concluding this agreement a top priority so that our businesses, workers, farmers and consumers can start to reap the real and substantial benefits of the TPP agreement as soon as possible.”

On November 11th, John Ivison, a Canadian reporter, issued an opinion piece in the National Post of Canada stating that any “‘significant progress’ made on the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal is pure bureaucratic BS.” See http://fullcomment.nationalpost.com/2014/11/11/john-ivison-any-significant-progress-made-on-the-trans-pacific-partnership-trade-deal-is-pure-bureaucratic-bs/.

As Ivison stated:

Trade sources suggest two major problems with negotiations that run contrary to the sunny optimism of the official statement.

One is that the Americans have approached the talks on a bilateral basis, preferring to hammer out deals country by country. “This is a typical U.S. approach, trying to run it like a hub-and-spoke negotiation,” said Mr. Clark.

Without knowing the outcome of talks between the two largest TPP participants — the U.S. and Japan — no one else has tabled a serious offer.

“Things are no closer than they were six months ago. No country will make an offer setting the starting point for ‘level of ambition’ without knowing the ambition levels of the U.S. and Japan.  You only give further from your first offer,” said one person with knowledge of the negotiations.

The second impediment to real progress is lack of Trade Promotion Authority — fast-track — on the part of President Barack Obama. No one wants to strike a deal that then becomes a bargaining chip in the internecine politics between the president and Congress.

There have been some suggestions that the newly empowered Republicans in the Senate might offer fast-track authority, in return for the president giving the Keystone XL pipeline the green light. But for now, President Obama cannot sign off on a deal using his executive authority.

Canada’s intransigence on supply management of poultry and dairy is likely to become a problem at some point.

In Beijing, TPP trade ministers highlighted the four areas where issues remain unresolved in the proposed deal: intellectual property, state-owned enterprises, the environment and investment. The ministers called intellectual property “one of the most complex and challenging areas of the agreement.”

On November 13th, over 200 business groups sent a letter to leaders of both the House and Senate, urging them to pass a new fast-track trade bill during the lame-duck legislative session this year. Specifically, the Trade Benefits America Coalition sent the letter urging passage of bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) legislation to House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., House Majority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on behalf of more than 200 U.S. associations and companies including the American Farm Bureau, National Foreign Trade Council and National Association of Manufacturers.  The letter concluded, “With 95 percent of potential customers outside the United States and more than one in five American jobs supported by trade, we need to seize on opportunities — such as ongoing and future U.S. trade agreements — to expand U.S. commerce with other countries.”

On November 15th President Obama vowed to continue pushing toward a swift TPP deal, which he said has the potential to yield a “historic” trade deal. At the G20 meeting Obama stated:

“It is our chance to put in place new, high standards for trade in the 21st century that uphold our values. It’s about a future where instead of being dependent on a single market, countries integrate their economies so they’re innovating and growing together. That’s what TPP does. That’s why it would be a historic achievement.”

On November 18th, Prime Minister Abe in Japan called a snap election on December 14th to seek a mandate for his economic decisions, but this too will complicate the TPP negotiations.

On November 18th Deputy USTR Robert Holleyman stated that the U.S. is seeking provisions in the TPP requiring civil and criminal responses to the theft of trade secrets. As Holleyman stated:

“Many in this room have certainly paid attention to the damage that’s being caused by the theft of valuable trade secrets in foreign marketplaces. And in the TPP agreement, we’re seeking both civil and criminal responses to this problem, including to the issue around the growing problem of cyber-theft of trade secrets.”

TTP FOR CHINA??

But what about China? Could it eventually join the TPP?

On October 15th, the Peterson Institute for International Economic (”IIE”) released a study touting the benefits of a theoretical free trade agreement between China and the United States, including increased income and export gains, while also acknowledging that such an agreement could lead to 500,000 to 1 million lost U.S. jobs over a 10-year span.

There are clear signs that China is interested in joining TPP. Citing an unnamed high-ranking U.S. official, Bergsten of IIE said “not a week goes by” that the administration does not receive an inquiry from China about TPP. But China has not officially sought entry into the initiative because it believes it would be denied at this stage in the negotiations. U.S. officials have made clear they want to close the deal with the current 12 participants.

The study predicts that a comprehensive agreement between China and the U.S. would create income gains for the U.S. of up to $130 billion while creating $330 billion in income gains for China. Under the agreement, the U.S. is projected to achieve export gains of $373 billion, and China — $472 billion. Similarly, U.S. exports to China would increase 108 percent and Chinese exports to the U.S. would increase 40 percent, according to the study.

But the study also finds that if a bilateral agreement is reached, the U.S. would suffer “adjustment costs” in the magnitude of 50,000 to 100,000 U.S. workers losing their jobs each year over a 10-year period. In other words, the deal could cost the U.S. economy up to a million job losses over a decade.

That is where Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies comes into play. The Peterson study contends that because the economic benefits equate to roughly $1.25 million in national income gains per job lost, the U.S. should consider policy alternatives to offset job loss rather than simply abandon an FTA with China. Such alternatives could include a bolstered trade adjustment assistance program, lengthy phase-ins of the liberalization of sensitive sectors, and larger wage-loss insurance and training and relocation programs.

Over the past year, China has undergone a radical shift in its stance on TPP because Beijing realizes it stands to suffer financial losses if it is not a member of the agreement, according to the authors of the study. The study claims that if TPP is concluded, China would lose $82 billion in gross domestic product and $108 billion in export revenue due to diverted trade flows.

CHINA AUSTRALIA FTA

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

Prime Minister Tony Abbott stated:

“It greatly enhances our competitive position in key areas such as agriculture, resources and energy, manufacturing exports, services and investment. Australian households and businesses will also reap the benefits of cheaper goods and components from China, such as vehicles, household goods, electronics and clothing, placing downward pressure on the cost of living and the cost of doing business.”

When the deal takes effect, more than 85 percent of Australian goods exports will be tariff free and that number will climb to 95 percent. Those goods were previously saddled with tariffs of up to 40 percent. US companies that attempt to export products to China can face very high tariffs, some in the 40 to 60 plus percent range.

China, meanwhile, will face less scrutiny in its investments in Australia per the deal. The Chinese government told Australia it estimates it will spend $1.3 trillion over the next decade in investments in Australia.

TTIP FTA WITH EUROPE

Meanwhile the TTIP FTA with Europe moves forward on November 16th with President Obama and prominent EU leaders ordering their respective negotiating teams to continue negotiations. A Joint Statement provides:

“We remain committed, as we were when we launched these negotiations in June 2013, to build upon the strong foundation of our six decades of economic partnership to promote stronger, sustainable and balanced growth, to support the creation of more jobs on both sides of the Atlantic and to increase our international competitiveness.”

But former USTR Clayton Yeutter predicted that despite the problems, the negotiations would likely finish up after Obama leaves office in early 2017. As Yeutter stated:

“There were a lot of miscalculations as to how long TTIP was going to take. This is not a negotiation that’s going to conclude anytime soon. In my view there is no practical chance of doing it during the Obama presidency.”

On November 18th the new EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom responded to criticisms that the TTIP will only serve the interests of large multinational Corporations by stating that the Agreement must benefit consumers:

“Trade agreements can lower prices, widen choice and create high-quality jobs. TTIP must do exactly that.”

Malmstrom also called for the negotiations to be more transparent, stating that the agreement needed input from “the whole range of civil society groups: trade unions, business associations, environmental organizations and, of course, consumers.”

INDIA BILATERAL DEAL WITH THE US MOVES TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT NEGOTIATED IN BALI FORWARD

Many World Trade Organization (“WTO”) and US officials have warned that India’s decision to block the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (“TFA”) negotiated in Bali has had a “freezing effect” on the WTO’s work in a number of different areas. But after substantial pressure from the APEC countries, India and the US announced a breakthrough in the negotiations over the Agreement.

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

On September 30th, in his first meeting with President Obama, although indicating that a solution should come soon, Indian Prime Minister Modi reaffirmed his government’s position linking the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement with support for the deal to act on food security issues.

On October 16, WTO Director-General Roberto Azevêdo reported to the Trade Negotiations Committee:

As a result we missed the deadline for the adoption of the protocol of amendment on the Trade Facilitation Agreement, which was the first deadline that Ministers set us in Bali. I said at the time that I feared there would be serious consequences. . . . as I feared, this situation has had a major impact on several areas of our negotiations. It appears to me that there is now a growing distrust which is having a paralyzing effect on our work across the board. . . .

it is my feeling that a continuation of the current paralysis would serve only to degrade the institution — particularly the negotiating function. . . . This could be the most serious situation that this organization has ever faced. I have warned of potentially dangerous situations before, and urged Members to take the necessary steps to avoid them. I am not warning you today about a potentially dangerous situation — I am saying that we are in it right now.

At the Trade Negotiations Committee meeting, Deputy USTR and U.S. ambassador to the WTO Michael Punke slammed India and the other opponents of the TFA protocol for perpetuating an “unnecessary and counterproductive crisis.” Those members’ inability to concede their position on food security has “significantly undermined” the entire Bali package and may doom any prospects for a “fully multilateral agreement.”

Although some of the trade pundits were suggesting that India be dropped off the back of the bus and the TFA move forward without India, others indicated that the real role of the TFA was symbolic—a way to get the WTO negotiating function going again.

On October 31st, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo reported to heads of delegations that there had been progress, and on November 10th, Azevedo asked APEC members, who were meeting in Beijing, to help push the TFA Agreement through. On that same day trade ministers for the 21 APEC countries, including China, vowed to throw their full weight behind resolving the current stalemate in the World Trade Organization surrounding the implementation of a trade facilitation agreement and the expansion of a tariff-cutting pact. In the attached statement released in Beijing, APEC ANNOUNCEMENT BALI TPP, the APEC Ministers stated:

2014 APEC Ministerial Meeting

  1. We, the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Ministers, met on 7-8 November 2014, in Beijing, China. The meeting was co-chaired by H.E. Wang Yi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, and H.E. Gao Hucheng, Minister of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China. . . .
  1. We welcome the participation in the meeting of the Director General of the WTO . . . .
  1. We reaffirm our confidence in the value of the multilateral trading system and stand firmly to strengthen the rules-based, transparent, non-discriminatory, open and inclusive multilateral trading system as embodied in the WTO.
  1. We highly commend the Bali Package achieved at the 9th Ministerial Conference (MC9) in Bali, Indonesia. We express our grave concern regarding the impasse in the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) which has resulted in stalemate and uncertainties over other Bali decisions. These developments have affected the credibility of the WTO negotiating function. In finding solutions to the implementation of the Bali decisions, APEC will exert creative leadership and energy together with all WTO members in unlocking this impasse, putting all Bali decisions back on track, and proceeding with the formulation of Post-Bali Work Program, as a key stepping stone to concluding the Doha Round.
  1. Bearing in mind that open markets are vital for economic growth, job creation and sustainable development, we reaffirm our commitment and recommend that our Leaders extend a standstill until the end of 2018, and roll back protectionist and trade-distorting measures. We remain committed to exercising maximum restraint in implementing measures that may be consistent with WTO provisions but have a significant protectionist effect and to promptly rectifying such measures, where implemented. In this context, we support the work of the WTO and other international organizations in monitoring protectionism.

Emphasis added.

Significantly, India is not a member of APEC, and the ministers’ statement made clear that they would exhaust all resources in order to convince New Delhi to change its stance and enable the WTO to carry on with its more substantive work.

On November 12th, in Beijing President Obama expressed optimism saying that he was “actually confident that there’s an opportunity for us to resolve them fairly soon.”

On November 13th, the US and India announced that they had reached an agreement to move the TFA forward. Under the bilateral deal, India agreed to drop its opposition to the TFA to streamline international customs procedures while the U.S. agreed to leave a so-called peace clause shielding India’s food stockpiling measures from legal challenges in place until the WTO crafts a permanent solution on that issue.

On November 14th Azevedo predicted that the implementation of a deal streamlining global customs procedures would earn quick approval from the WTO members within two weeks following the Indian government’s move to drop its opposition to the pact.

On November 16, the G-20 leaders in Australia welcomed “the breakthrough” between the U.S. and India that would allow for the “full and prompt” implementation of the TFA. The leaders also pledged to implement other agreements in Bali and swiftly define “a WTO work program on the remaining issues of the Doha Development Agenda to get negotiations back on track,” which it said would “be important to restore trust and confidence in the multilateral trading system.”

A 21st TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSITANCE PROGRAM—A MODEST PROPOSAL—RESPONSE TO OPPOSING ARGUMENTS

As stated in my last newsletter and in my October blog post, I have made the case for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Firms/Companies, which is presently funded at $16 million nationwide. With only a relatively small part of that low budget, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”) has been able to save 80 percent of the companies that participated in the program since 1984.

In my last newsletter and my blog, I also argued that President Reagan himself indirectly approved of the TAA for Firms/Companies (“TAAF”) program because it does not interfere with the market in any ways and yet has been able to save a number of US companies. In fact, the TAA programs could be funded by the over $1 billion collected every year by the US government in antidumping and countervailing duties.

But there are two programs. The first program is the $500 million to $1 billion program of TAA for workers and then there is the $16 million TAAF program for companies. Congress should consider reworking the two programs to accomplish the objective of saving the jobs and the companies that are hurt by trade liberalization. There needs to be more coordination between the two programs.

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

But several questions have been raised that need to be answered.

  1. Isn’t TAAF for Companies crony capitalism?

Many opponents might argue that TAAF for Companies is simply crony capitalism. Under the TAAF program, however, very little money actually goes to the companies. Most of the money goes to business consultants that can help the company change its business model or change its marketing strategy.

In fact, as it stands now, the Program only provides $75,000 in matching funds, which means the Company itself must put in the matching $75,000. Although relatively small, the Federal money has been critical in helping US companies develop a strategy to deal with the new import competition in the market place and adjust to market conditions.

The TAAF program also cannot provide hard assets to the company, just business strategy advice and help on soft projects, such as help designing a marketing website, developing software for the company in its production process or designing a dam for an Idaho sheep farm. This is not corporate welfare because the company has to put much of its own assets in both money and labor into the assistance.

WTO also does not consider this a subsidy. No money or assets go to the company. The amount is low and does not harm international trade.

Although the TAAF program could be strengthened so that it could provide TAA for larger companies, such as Steel and Tire companies, the matching funds provision and the limitation on providing only soft projects and consulting is important so that the program cannot be targeted as simply another government subsidy.

TAAF for companies is not another Solyndra program.

  1. Isn’t TAA for Firms/Companies picking winners and losers in the market?

Any company that has been injured by imports/is being impacted by trade competition can apply to enter the program. At its core, the TAAF for companies program provides advice to the company on how to swim in the newly competitive marketplace from business experts, who know how to turn a company around.

In addition, the initial write up of the application is done by experts at TAA Centers around the country, who work with the companies at the local level on a one to one basis to develop a plan to fit the specific needs of the company. Because the program is implemented at the local level by neutral officials, there is no picking winners and losers. Although the final adjustment plan must be approved at Commerce, by that time the politics has been bled out of the situation and the question is can the company meet the criteria in the statute.

  1. Why shouldn’t TAA money go to workers and not companies?

TAA for firms/companies is not TAA for management. The company includes both the management and the workers. If you talk to workers, which have been hit by trade competition, they would rather have their job then just take assistance from the Federal Government.

Although Unions have pushed unfair trade cases, in fact, many of these unfair trade cases do not work. They do not protect the companies, and more importantly the workers from import competition. It is impossible to bring antidumping and countervailing duty cases against every country in the World.

I have met workers at a company that has been saved by the TAA for Firms/Companies program, which helped the company adjust its business plan to compete in the new trade impacted market. The worker in question had been at the factory for over 30 years and was very grateful that the program had saved his job.

In fact, the split between workers and management may be one of the problems that should be addressed by TAA. Often with the small companies, however, the employees and management have been together for years and look upon each other as one in the same. They are all in the company boat together.

Also TAA for Firms/Companies is not an entitlement, a net flow out of the US government. The TAAF program keeps the company alive and keeps the taxes from the company and the company’s management and workers flowing to the US and State Treasuries, which is money going into the US and State treasuries. That is real bank for the buck.

  1. Why can’t Private Investment/Equity funds pick up the slack and thus there is no need for TAA for Firms/Companies?

Private investment companies are often targeting short term profits so if the company cannot achieve short term profits, the company is closed and the assets are sold. Mitt Romney’s company, Bain Capital LLC, invested substantial money into GS Industries, the parent company of Georgetown Steel.  Although Bain made money, it did so by cutting more than 1,750 jobs, closing a division that had been around for 100 years and eventually Georgetown Steel sank into bankruptcy.

TAAF for companies is working long term to save the company and the jobs that go with that company. This is the only long term assistance program in the US government. So the short term profitability of the company is not the issue. The issue is can the company be turned around so that it can become profitable and very profitable in the long term.

Private Equity Firms and TAAF have very different objectives.

  1. What makes TAA for Firms/Companies different from other Economic Assistance to US companies?

TAAF for companies is a trade program, not just a Government assistance program. Trade problems for companies often happen because Government action has changed the US market, be it a free trade agreement, such as the TPP, or a change in government regulations, which has exposed the US companies to import competition.

Since the Government has created the problem in the short term by its own action, it has a responsibility to help US companies and workers that have been impacted by this Government action.

Under the Constitution Congress controls trade, not the President. TAAF is a program that was started to allow Congress and the Administration to negotiate international trade deals, which help the US economy as a whole, but have the effect of creating winners and losers in the US market.

To help building public support for these Free Trade Agreements, TAA has been provided to companies and workers to help them adjust to increased import competition. Although over time, the TAAF for companies program has declined in funding, with the new trade agreements, such as the TPP and the TTIP, the program needs to be built up again to help companies that have been hurt by changes in the US trade laws, which encourage US exports, but also imports from other countries. As stated at the top of this newsletter, trade is a two way street.

In addition, the TAAF program is the only long term assistance program in the US, and it monitors the companies to make sure they implement the plans that they have agreed to.

  1. The TAAF Program Is Too Small To Be Effective

The $16 million TAAF program may be small, but it is very effective.  Since 1984, NWTAAC has been able to save 80% of the companies in the program.

The 2013 NWTAAC report from Commerce points out that all the companies that entered the program since 2011 are still alive today.

In fact, TAAF should be expanded so it can help larger companies, such as Steel and Tire companies, deal with increased competition in the US market as trade agreements reduce barriers to imports.

  1. Why help old line US industries and companies that technology and changing trade patterns have left behind and should die a natural death?

This is the basic creative destructionism argument from famous Harvard economist, Joseph Schumpeter, and it is true if companies do not change with changing market conditions, they will die a natural death.

But TAAF for companies gives companies the opportunity to change and adapt to the changing market conditions. Many TAAF employees that have been working at the Centers for years firmly believe that any company that enters the program can be helped. It may be a new marketing strategy or a change in company equipment, or improvements in their business strategy.  The staff has seen too many success stories to not believe in the power of the program.

In Seattle we had a company making ceramic flowerpots that was being injured by imports of flower pots from Mexico. The company came into the program and as a result started producing ceramic molds for titanium parts for Boeing.  Changing the business plan is one of the best strategies to keep the company alive and the jobs that go with that company.

TAA REAUTHORIZATION NEEDED BY DECEMBER 31ST

On November 20th, in the attached announcements CONGRESS E-MAIL Reauthorize Trade Adjustment Assistance Before It Expires on December 31 REAUTHORIZATION SEAL, House and Senate Democrats urged Congress to reauthorize TAA before it expires December 31st. Although the emphasis is on the TAA for Workers program, the Reauthorization would also apply to TAA for firms/companies. As it stands now, as of January 1, 2015, TAA will no longer be able to provide trade adjustment assistance to new companies that want to enter the program. If TAA for Companies is not reauthorized by June 1, 2015, all the TAAC centers around the country will close their doors and the program will cease to exist.

As indicated below, funding TAA is the essence of compassionate conservatism.

CONGRESSIONAL E-MAIL NOTICES

Reauthorize Trade Adjustment Assistance Before It Expires on December 31, 2014

From: The Honorable Adam Smith Sent By: Mina.Garcia@mail.house.gov Bill: H.R. 4163 Date: 11/20/2014

November 20, 2014

Reauthorize Trade Adjustment Assistance Before It Expires on December 31, 2014

Dear Colleague,

We write to draw to your attention to five stories that illustrate the importance of reauthorizing the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program. TAA provides financial support and re-employment training for workers whose jobs are lost due to trade. It also provides assistance to U.S. companies that have been injured by imports so they can continue to remain competitive and not resort to mass lay-offs or closures.  Funding for service workers expired at the end of 2013. Funding for the remainder of the program – which supports manufacturing workers, farmers, ranchers, fishermen, and firms – will expire on December 31 unless we act to renew it.

In 2013, 100,000 workers qualified for TAA and the results prove the program’s success.  More than 75% of workers who completed the program found jobs within six months, and of those, 90% were still employed a year later.  More than 75% of workers who completed training in 2013 received a degree or industry-recognized credential.   Here are five TAA success stories:

  •  A 74 year-old Seattle die forging firm experienced trade impact and entered the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program (TAAF) in the mid 2000’s. With the assistance of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (NWTAAC), the firm implemented a strategy of adopting certain innovations to develop capabilities in advance of competitors worldwide. NWTAAC assisted the firm in three ways that relied heavily on outside expertise: implementation of a data management system; commercialization of a new alloy; and a revision of the Firm’s website. Two years after completing TAAF, the Firm has increased employment by 11% and sales by 141%.
  •  Rodney Cox worked for 13 years on machinery, most recently at a local hospital in rural Oregon.  He was laid off in September 2010 and could not find another job.  With only a GED, he realized he would need more education to make the wage he had earned as a millwright.  Working with a TAA case manager, he opted to attend a community college that offered an Associate’s degree in Biomedics.  His TAA benefits allowed him to live, temporarily, near the training facility 177 miles away from his home (and family).  Rodney earned his degree and accepted a position as a Bio-Medical Equipment Technician.  He is earning a wage higher than what he earned when he was a millwright.  Of TAA, Rodney said, “Things couldn’t have worked out better for me.  My case managers helped me every step of the way.  I was hired two days after I moved back home with my family.”
  •  Kim Franklin is a single mother with two children.  She worked for a manufacturing company.  When she was laid off, she could not find a similar job.  She realized she needed to consider a new career and to get new skills. Through TAA, she completed Medical Assistance training.  She is now employed as a medical assistant at a health clinic in her community.
  •  Juan Bustamante worked as a machine operator in California for over 11 years making aluminum rims for cars.  When the nearby car facility moved operations out of the country, Juan – and 300 of his colleagues – lost their jobs.  Through TAA, Juan was able to obtain remedial education in English, Math, and Speech at the Los Angeles Valley College Job Training Center.  After completing the coursework, Juan qualified for the Transportation Metro Bus Operator Bridge Training Program.  After completing that program, he received a position with LA Metro and has full benefits.
  •  Judith Fischer worked for a publishing firm in New York and lost her job.  Through TAA, she explored career options and decided to pursue occupational therapy, concentrating on the psychological effects of diminished quality of life issues.  She earned an Associate’s Degree and received a job as a Community Rehabilitation Instructor and Case Manager, working with the developmentally disabled.  Judith plans to pursue a Master of Science in Social Work.  Of her new career, Judith said that it is “rewarding in every way, especially being able to connect with these children and I feel all the love they have to give.”

These examples demonstrate that TAA helps workers find new jobs and firms stay in business when they face new competition from abroad. We urge you to extend the program before it expires on December 31.

/s/                                                                             /s/ SANDER LEVIN                                                         ADAM  SMITH Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

/s/                                                                             /s/ CHARLES B. RANGEL                                               DEREK KILMER Member of Congress                                                   Member of Congress

/s/ RON KIND Member of Congress

 United States Congress

SECOND CONGRESSIONAL NOTICE

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Contact: Rep. Smith- Ben Halle, (202) 570-2771

            Rep. Levin- Caroline Behringer, (202) 226-1007

            Rep. Kilmer- Jason Phelps  (202)-225-3459

            Rep. Rangel- Hannah Kim, (202)-225-4365

House Dems Urge Congress to Reauthorize TAA Before it Expires December 31st

Washington, D.C.- Today, Senator Sherrod Brown introduced a Senate companion bill to the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Act of 2014, introduced by Representatives Adam Smith (D-WA), Sander Levin (D-MI), Derek Kilmer (D-WA), and Charles B. Rangel (D-MI). These bills would renew TAA, which is set to expire on December 31, 2014. Reps. Smith, Levin, Rangel, and Kilmer released the following statement calling for the immediate passage of the TAA:

“It is critical that Congress pass Trade Adjustment Assistance legislation before it expires at the end of the year. Both the House and Senate TAA bills provide critical work training, income support, and health care to help dislocated American workers transition and learn new skills for new careers in competitive industries.  This vital assistance helps American workers and businesses adapt and compete in a rapidly evolving world economy.”

Background: Congress created the TAA program in 1962 in response to the loss of jobs among hard-working Americans as a result of increasing global competition, as well as to promote American competitiveness.  TAA benefits have several components: training assistance, income support while in training, and job search and relocation assistance.  The program assists workers dislocated by the elimination of tariffs and other barriers to trade.  Additional programs assist farmers, fishermen, and firms with the development and implementation of business plans to enable them to regain a competitive foothold. Click here for the full text of the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) Act of 2014.

TAA by the numbers:

  • 2,192,910:  The number of workers served by TAA since it was created in 1974
  • 104,158:  The number of workers eligible to apply for TAA in 2013
  • 50:  The number of states with workers eligible for TAA benefits in 2013
  • 75%: The percentage of TAA workers who got a job within six months of finishing the program
  • 90%: The percentage of those TAA workers who remained employed at the end of the year

ANTIDUMPING, COUNTERVAILING DUTY AND OTHER TRADE CASES

THE MAGNESIUM CASE — WHY MARKET ECONOMY IN ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST CHINA IS SO IMPORTANT FOR US PRODUCERS

As stated in numerous past newsletters, market economy for China is important for US end user production companies. The importance of market economy for the United States is illustrated by the Magnesium from China antidumping case. Recently a large Western company came to me because they were thinking of exporting Chinese magnesium to the United States to help the US magnesium die casting industry. But after discussions, at least in the short term, the company gave up because there is no longer a viable magnesium die casting industry in the United States. The Antidumping Order on Magnesium from China has killed the downstream industry.

In antidumping cases Commerce does not use actual prices and costs in China to determine whether a company is dumping. Dumping is defined as selling at prices in the United States below prices in the home market or below the fully allocated cost of production.

As mentioned before, however, in contrast to Japan, Korea, India, Iran and almost every other country in the World, China is not considered a market economy country in antidumping cases. Commerce, therefore, refuses to look at actual prices and costs in China to determine whether a Chinese company is dumping. Instead Commerce constructs a cost for the Chinese company by taking consumption factors from the Chinese producer for all inputs used to produce the product in question, including raw materials, energy, and labor, and then goes to a Third Surrogate Country to get Surrogate Values often from Import Statistics in the surrogate country to value those consumption factors.

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

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

In the Magnesium from China antidumping case, one of the key inputs is electricity. Electricity from hydro power in China, where many of the Chinese companies are located, can be as low as 3 cents a kilowatt hour. The average electricity cost in the US is 6 cents a kilowatt hour. What price did Commerce use as a surrogate value for electricity in the recent Magnesium review investigation? 7 cents a kilowatt hour.

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

The Commerce Department has broad discretion to determine surrogate countries and values and their choices can change from annual review investigation to annual review investigation, exposing US importers to millions of dollars in retroactive liability based on a process, which is inherently arbitrary, because Commerce does not look at actual prices and costs in China.

Not only is there a problem with retroactive liability for US importers, US end user companies are often blocked from using the competitive Chinese raw material input, which, in turn, exposes the US downstream producers, such as foundries, automobile and chemical producers, to competition from Chinese companies and foreign companies that do have access to the lower cost raw materials. In other words, the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, rob Peter to pay Paul.

One example of the devastating impact of the US Antidumping Law is the impact of the US Magnesium from China antidumping case on the US Magnesium Die Casters. As the North American Die Casting Association stated in June 2010:

North American Die Casting Association

June 7, 2010 ·

NADCA Supports Magnesium Die Casters with a Filing to Help Lift Tariffs

May 27, 2010 by NADCA in NADCA News Wheeling, IL

NADCA recently filed a response to the International Trade Commission (ITC) in hopes to help lift ITC’s tariffs on imported magnesium alloy. Since many die casters have been harmed by the excessive prices being charged by the sole magnesium alloy producer in the U.S., NADCA has filed this response in regards to the Sunset Review of this particular ITC tariff. . . .

NADCA is concerned about magnesium die casters having access to alloy magnesium in the U.S. at globally competitive prices. The antidumping duty orders effectively bar Russian and Chinese alloy magnesium from the U.S. market. Prices for alloy magnesium are higher in the U.S. than elsewhere due to the antidumping duty orders currently in place in the U.S. but not in other major consumer markets.

The lack of effective competition in the U.S. market ― there is only one significant U.S. producer of alloy magnesium, US Magnesium LLC ― has harmed die casters since the imposition of the antidumping duty orders in 2005. NADCA estimates that as many as 1,675 direct jobs and 8,000 supporting jobs have been lost in the die casting industry due to the imposition of these orders.

US Magnesium has not made significant efforts to maintain or increase its sales of alloy magnesium in the U.S. since the imposition of the antidumping duty orders. For example, US Magnesium has not joined in efforts initiated by magnesium end-users to develop new uses of magnesium.

Thus an antidumping order to protect more than 450 production jobs in Utah has resulted in the loss of 9,657 jobs in the downstream market.

What did the ITC do in the face of this argument?

Left the antidumping order against magnesium from China in place for another five years.

Now in 2014, what has been the effect of the ITC’s decision to leave the Antidumping Order on Chinese Magnesium in place—more closed companies and more lost jobs. In 2004-2005 43 US companies sold magnesium die castings in the US market.   According to NADCA, less than 12 US companies now produce magnesium die castings in the United States.

NADCA estimates that 31 US companies have ceased pouring magnesium in the United States because of the antidumping order against magnesium from China.  US companies, such as Lunt in Illinois, simply went out of business because of the Magnesium from China Antidumping order. In 2010, when NADCA did the survey, it estimated a job loss of 1,675 direct jobs. Now the jobs loss has swelled to over 2,000 and closer to 10,000 supporting jobs.

12 companies have survived because they fall into two categories. The major market for magnesium die casting is auto parts. The first set of companies use the magnesium die castings that they produce ( i.e. Honda).

The second set of US companies are those strong in other metals, such as aluminum, and have shifted from producing magnesium die castings to aluminum die castings.

Where did the magnesium jobs and companies go? Many companies and projects simply moved to Mexico or Canada.

Many OEM magnesium auto parts manufacturers moved all their production to Mexico. Five Tier 1 steering wheel manufacturers, for example, have magnesium die casting and wheel assembly plants in Mexico, including TRW, AutoLiv, Takata, Key Safety Systems and Neaton.

The other impact of the antidumping order on Magnesium from China has been to push North American car companies away from magnesium auto parts, necessary for light weight cars, especially powertrain, mainly because of the supply uncertainty.   Lack of access to 80% of the world’s production of magnesium in China and not having globally priced metal inputs is a huge risk to car companies. Magnesium powertrain die casters, such as Spartan, have simply switched to aluminum further reducing magnesium die casting capacity and expertise in the US.

This further diminishes US auto makers acceptance of magnesium auto parts.  This US situation greatly contrasts with Europe where magnesium powertrain components are more than 50% of the magnesium auto applications. EU OEMs are much more advanced at building lighter cars now than their US peers.

Now NADCA has given up because it is “simply too difficult to fight city hall”. My potential client also told me that it was just not worth it to fight the Magnesium antidumping order because the downstream market for the product had simply died in the United States.

The Antidumping law in truth is a jobs destroyer, not a jobs creator.

THE WOODEN BEDROOM FURNITURE ANTIDUMPING CASE—NO HELP TO THE DOMESTIC INDUSTRY BUT 100S OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN RETROATIVE LIABILITY FOR US IMPORTERS AND BANKRUPTCIES

On November 18, 2014, in Mark David, a Division of: Baker, Knapp & Tubbs, Inc. et al v. United States, CIT MAOJI, the Court of International Trade (“CIT”) affirmed a Commerce Department decision of a 216% rate for Maoji, a major Chinese exporter, in the Wooden Bedroom Furniture case creating probably 10s of millions of dollars in retroactive liability for US importers.

In that decision, Judge Tsoucalis stated:

“Maoji does not dispute that they failed to participate fully in the review, and that they therefor can be subjected to an AFA rate. The issue before the court is instead whether Commerce’s application of the 216.01% PRC-wide AFA rate to Maoji was reasonable. Plaintiff argues that the 216.01% PRC-wide AFA rate was neither reliable nor relevant. . . . According to Plaintiff, Commerce applied an “outdated” and “unsupported” margin that did not reflect Maoji’s commercial reality. . . .

Plaintiff does not appear to dispute Commerce’s finding that Maoji failed to rebut the presumption of government control in the Final Results. During the review Maoji notified Commerce that it was not practicable for it to provide a response to the Section D questionnaire or the supplemental Section A questionnaire. . . . Commerce determined that Maoji was a part of the PRC-wide entity. . . . Because Maoji failed to respond to Commerce’s questionnaires regarding its separate rate eligibility during the review, Commerce reasonably concluded that Maoji failed to demonstrate its absence of government control. . . .

Unlike Orient in Lifestyle I, here, Maoji failed to qualify for separate rate status. As a result it received the PRC-wide AFA rate. Because Maoji was part of the PRC-wide entity, Commerce was not required to calculate a separate AFA rate relevant to Maoji’s commercial reality. . . . Commerce was only required to corroborate the rate to the PRC-wide entity. . . . Therefore, Plaintiff’s reliance on Lifestyle I is misplaced. Lifestyle I does not call into question the PRC-wide rate as applied to the PRC-wide entity, rather it only discredits its application to Orient, which successfully established the absence of both de jure and de facto government control.”

Several years ago, an importer asked me to meet with Maoji in Shanghai and talk to them about the Wooden Bedroom Furniture case. From talking to the importer, I knew that Maoji was exporting a lot of furniture from different Chinese manufacturers and asked the Manager from Maoji, what would happen if Commerce picked Maoji as a mandatory respondent in the review investigation and it had to report factors of production/consumption factors from all Maoji’s suppliers? Instead of replying, the Manager got mad and started yelling at me, “Who told you we would have to supply production information for all our suppliers?” End of conversation.

In this case, apparently Maoji could not supply its response to Section D of the questionnaire because it was not practicable. Section D of the questionnaire requires the exporters to report consumption factors for its wooden bedroom furniture suppliers/producers. Too many producers apparently did not want to cooperate with Maoji and supply their production information.

But now all the importers that imported from Maoji are exposed to retroactive liability of 216% on imports. Based on my past experience, this means that importers will owe millions and possibly 10s of millions of dollars on these imports.

A month ago while in Beijing during a meeting with the Chamber of Light Industrial Products, a Chinese Chamber official told me that he regarded the Wooden Bedroom Furniture case as a victory for Chinese companies. My response was that this same case has created retroactive liability of close to, if not more than, $1 billion for US importers. Last year, exports of furniture from Vietnam went by exports of furniture from China. So if the Wooden Bedroom Furniture case was a victory, I would hate to see a loss. In fact, this case has been a disaster.

But this case along with the comments of the Chamber official indicate that Chinese companies simply do not understand the impact of these cases on US importers and in some cases, simply do not care. I have met with company owners in High Point, North Carolina, who have seen their entire $50 million dollar blow up because they had the temerity to import Chinese wooden bedroom furniture from China under an antidumping order.

The irony of the Wooden Bedroom Furniture case is illustrated by the December 2010 ITC determination in the Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China Sunset Review investigation, where ITC Commissioner Pearson stated the antidumping order has not helped the US industry:

this investigation . . . raises some troubling questions. . . . This industry would have faced difficulties during the period of review under any circumstances, given the depth of the recession and its extensive effects on the housing market. But even before the recession began, the industry was not apparently gaining much benefit from the imposition of the order. The domestic industry’s market share continued to decline after the order, as did production, capacity utilization, and employment. In the long run the domestic industry might have been expected to struggle to retain any benefits from this order as importers and retailers sought supply in other, lower-cost markets outside China. But the record here suggests that the domestic industry gained little even before those adjustments began to be made. . . .

I am mindful that the law does not require that an antidumping order or countervailing duty order be shown to benefit the domestic industry in order to reach an affirmative finding in a five-year review. . . .In this particular investigation, additional costs and distortions have been added by the use of the administrative review and settlement process, with little evidence that these distortions have yielded any benefits to the industry overall, the U.S. consumer, or the U.S. taxpayer.

So if the antidumping order does not benefit the US industry, why doesn’t the US industry simply lift the order? Two reasons, first the US industry and the lawyers representing the industry have made money from private settlements with Chinese companies and US importers. Second, although the AD order may not have helped the US industry directly, it has had the effect of eliminating a number of the US industry’s direct competitors, which are US importers forcing them into bankruptcy because they imported furniture under an antidumping order against China.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SCOPE EXPANSION TO INCLUDE PANELS PRODUCED IN CHINA AND TAIWAN FROM THIRD COUNTRY SOLAR CELLS AND SEPARATE RATES PROBLEM

SOLAR PRODUCTS

On June 3, 2014, Commerce issued its preliminary countervailing duty determination against China in the Solar Products case. The fact sheet and preliminary Federal Register notice have been posted on my blog. The Countervailing Duty Rates range from 18.56% for Trina to 35.21% for Wuxi Suntech and all other Chinese companies getting 26.89%. On July 25th, the Commerce Department announced its preliminary antidumping determination in the Chinese solar products case establishing 47.27% combined rates (20.38% Antidumping, 26.89% Countervailing Duty) wiping out billions of dollars in imports of Chinese solar products into the United States.

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

On August 15th, after an extension, the Chinese government filed a letter at Commerce, which is posted on my blog, expressing an interest in a suspension agreement, but no proposed formal agreement has been filed with the Department. Although some preliminary discussions have been held, no Agreement has been released for comment as required by the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty law.

Meanwhile, the case moves on and expands. In an October 3, 2014 memo, which is posted in my October post, on its own motion Commerce has proposed to expand the scope of the Solar Panels case to cover all panels produced in Taiwan and China from third country solar cells.

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

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

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

We now await the Commerce Department’s final determination on December 16th.

SOLAR CELLS—THE SEPARATE RATES ISSUE

On November 20, 2014, in the attached Jiangsu Jiansheng Photovoltaic Technology Co., Ltd. v. United States decision, CIT JIANGSU SEPARATE RATES, the Court of International Trade (“CIT”) granted the Commerce Department’s request to take another look at the separate rates issue regarding certain “state-owned” Chinese companies. In doing so the Court stated that even though there was a possibility of government influence that was not enough to deny a Chinese company separate rates. As indicated below, this decision seems to be at odds with the Diamond Sawblades case and the Tetrafluoroethane case.  As the Court stated:

“Specifically, SolarWorld argues that Commerce gave insufficient weight to evidence that Chinese laws permit the government to intervene in Chinese companies’ operations in a variety of ways. But by definition, the laws of an NME country will generally permit the government of such country to intervene in the operations of its companies. Thus to require NME companies to prove complete legal autonomy would introduce an internal inconsistency into the analysis. Instead, as Commerce explained in this case, the agency determines whether the legal possibility exists to permit the company in question to operate as an autonomous market participant, notwithstanding any residual authority for potential governmental intervention, and if so, whether that company should be exempted from the NME system-wide analysis because it in fact managed its production, pricing, and profits as an autonomous market participant. Here, Commerce first determined that, as a matter of de jure possibility, the respondents in question could have acted as sufficiently autonomous market participants to deserve separate rates; then, having made this threshold determination, Commerce determined that the evidence in the record reasonably supported the conclusion that these respondents in fact did act sufficiently autonomously in terms of managing production and profit and setting prices during the POI.

Commerce requests and is granted permission to reconsider the record evidence regarding whether certain respondents were sufficiently autonomous from the Chinese government in the conduct of their export activities as to qualify for rates separate from the PRC-wide entity. In doing so, Commerce need not require proof of complete freedom from any mere legal possibility of government control. . . .

Commerce has determined that the weight of the evidence suggests the contrary conclusion, and SolarWorld has not pointed to any specific nonspeculative evidence to cast doubt upon this determination. Accordingly, because Commerce has considered and relied upon sufficient evidence to reasonably support the agency’s conclusion that the respondents in question were sufficiently autonomous from government control over their export activities to qualify for a separate rate, and because SolarWorld presents no specific evidence to impugn these reasonable determinations Commerce’s findings with regard to these separate-rate recipients are supported by substantial evidence.. . . ,

SolarWorld also argues that Commerce’s decision to grant separate-rate status to these respondents was arbitrary because, in the past, Commerce has denied such status to respondents who submitted ownership evidence that was later contradicted at verification. But the issue presented here is not analogous to the prior decisions on which SolarWorld relies because the respondents in those cases had submitted ownership information that was contradicted at verification, whereas here there was no similar impeachment of any of the evidence submitted by the challenged separate-rate recipients . . . .

Essentially, SolarWorld believes that the potential for governmental control through such managers or board directors categorically precludes a finding that such companies in fact acted autonomously in conducting their own export activities. The core of SolarWorld’s argument is that these respondents failed to establish de facto autonomy because 1) some of these companies’ shareholders are SOEs (i.e., wholly state-owned companies), with the power to recommend or appoint the company’s board members and senior managers; and 2) some of these companies’ senior managers or board directors contemporaneously also held membership or positions within organizations such as the CPC, NPC, and/or CPPCC. But these facts alone are not dispositive of the de facto autonomy inquiry, because they speak solely to the possibility for governmental control over export activities through these persons, not whether such control was in fact reasonably likely to have been exercised during the POI.

Fundamentally, SolarWorld’s arguments regarding the de facto autonomy of the challenged separate-rate recipients suffer from the same analytical defect as its arguments regarding de jure autonomy – namely that, in an NME country, there will usually be state involvement and authority to intervene in these respondents failed to establish de facto autonomy because 1) some of these companies’ shareholders are SOEs (i.e., wholly state-owned companies), with the power to recommend or appoint the company’s board members and senior managers; and 2) some of these companies’ senior managers or board directors contemporaneously also held membership or positions within organizations such as the CPC, NPC, and/or CPPCC. But these facts alone are not dispositive of the de facto autonomy inquiry, because they speak solely to the possibility for governmental control over export activities through these persons, not whether such control was in fact reasonably likely to have been exercised during the POI. . . .

But this fact alone does not necessarily lead to the conclusion that all NME producers and exporters should be categorically treated as in fact setting their prices according to some centralized strategy. Here, each of the challenged separate-rate recipients submitted evidence that “(1) [t]heir [export prices] are not set by, and are not subject to, the approval of a governmental agency; (2) they have authority to negotiate and sign contracts and other agreements; (3) they have autonomy from the government in making decisions regarding the selection of management; and (4) they retain the proceeds of their export sales and make independent decisions regarding the disposition of profits or financing of losses.” Moreover, “[a]ll of the separate rate respondents at issue reported that neither SASAC nor the government was involved in the activities of the board of directors.”

Footnotes omitted, emphasis added.

TETRAFLUORETHANE CASE—COMMERCE FINDS VERY HIGH ANTIDUMPING MARGINS, BUT ITC SAYS NO INJURY AND DISMISSES THE ENTIRE CASE

On October 15, 2014 in the attached fact sheetfactsheet-prc-1112-Tetrafluoroethane-ad-cvd-final-101514, Commerce found dumping and countervailable subsidization of Imports of 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluoroethane from the People’s Republic of China with antidumping rates for all of China of 280%, in part, by refusing to give Chinese state-owned companies their own antidumping rates. Such a high antidumping rate meant that all 1,1,1,2-tetrafluoroethane from China would be excluded from the US market.

On November 12, 2014, however, the US International Trade Commission based on a 4-2 vote in the attached fact sheet, ITC NO INJURY VOTE TETRFLUORETHANE, determined that the US industry was not injured by reason of imports of 1,1,1,2-Tetrafluorethane from China. The case, therefore, is dismissed and no antidumping and countervailing duty orders will be issued.

CAFC SAWBLADES CASE—NO SEPARATE ANTIDUMPING RATES FOR CHINESE STATE OWNED COMPANIES

On October 24th, in the attached one-sentence opinion, DIAMOND SAWBLADES CAFC DECISION, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in Advanced Technology & Materials Co. v. United States affirmed a decision by the CIT that found Chinese diamond saw blade companies had not done enough to show their independence from China’s government to deserve their own anti-dumping order rates, overturning 20 years of past cases by the Commerce Department. The CAFC affirmed the Commerce Department’s determination to provide Advanced Technology a 164.1 percent margin as the China-wide rate, not the 2.82 percent rate that had been assigned to them separately.

As stated in the September newsletter, in response to the CIT decisions in the Diamond Sawblades case, which are attached to my September blog post, Commerce is making it more difficult for Chinese state owned companies that are under the supervision of the PRC’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (“SASAC”) to get their own separate antidumping rate. Commerce continued that position in the 1,1,1, 2 Tetrafluoroethane from China case, but ITC threw out the case for no injury.

TIRES FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE

Although Senator Kay Hagan sent a letter to Commerce regarding the Tires case, she lost her reelection fight in North Carolina to Republican Tom Tillis apparently, in part, because of her position on trade issue. But there will still be substantial political heat on the Commerce Department over the Tires case.

On November 22, 2014, Commerce announced its preliminary determination in the Tires countervailing duty investigation.  Attached are the Federal Register notice and Commerce Department factsheet  factsheet-prd-passenger-vehicle-light-truck-tires-cvd-prelim-112414 Tires PRC CVD Prelim FR as signed (3). The CVD rates ranged from moderate to very high, with the average rate being moderate.  GITI Tire (Fujian) Co., Ltd. and certain cross-owned companies received 17.69%; Cooper Kunshan Tire Co., Ltd and certain cross-owned companies 12.50%; Shandong Yongsheng Rubber Group Co., Ltd. 81.29% and all other Chinese exporters receiving a rate of 15.69%.

Commerce has found critical circumstances applying countervailing duties to imports 90 days prior to the preliminary determination to cover imports as early as late August.  As it stands now, imports since late August will now be covered by the Countervailing Duty case exposing importers to millions of dollars in retroactive liability.

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

CIRCUMVENTION OF ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS ORDER??

On the other hand Senator Mitch McConnell sent a May 8th letter about circumvention of the aluminum extrusions antidumping order followed by a letter from Senator Orrin Hatch. Senator Mitch McConnell in January will be the Senate Majority leader as the ranking Republican in the Senate, and Senator Orrin Hatch will be the new Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. So both Senators will have enormous influence in the new Congress.

On September 4, 2014, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance Paul Piquado in a letter posted on my October blog post assured the lawmakers that the agency is “committed to the robust enforcement of the trade remedy laws” to help provide U.S. firms and workers the opportunity to “compete on a level playing field.”

CARBON AND ALLOY STEEL WIRE ROD FROM CHINA FINAL ANTIDUMPING DETERMINATION

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

Because no Chinese companies participated in the initial investigation, on November 13, 2014, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-prc-carbon-certain-alloy-steel-wire-rod-ad-cvd-final-111314, Commerce announced its final determination finding dumping and Countervailable Subsidization of Imports of Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod from the People’s Republic of China. Commerce handed out 110.25 percent “adverse facts available” anti-dumping duty rates, countervailable subsidies ranging from 178.46 percent for Hebei Iron & Steel to 193.31 percent for Benxi Steel. All other Chinese producers not named were assessed a CVD rate of 185.89.

The agency found critical circumstances that warranted remedial, retroactive duties to be paid by US importers for imports of carbon steel wire rod three months prior to the Commerce Department’s preliminary determination from all Chinese companies in the CVD investigation and all but three Chinese exporters in the AD investigation.

ITC AFFIRMATIVE FINAL INJURY DETERMINATION MONOSODIUM GLUTAMATE FROM CHINA

On November 17, 2014, in the attached Federal Register notice, ITC MONOSODIUM Glutamate, the ITC determined that the US industry was materially injured by reason of imports of monosodium glutamate from China and Indonesia and antidumping and countervailing duty orders will be issued in that case.

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT AFFIRMATIVE PRELIMINARY ANTIDUMPING DETERMINATION—DOMESTIC DRY SEA CONTAINERS FROM CHINA

On November 20, 2014, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-prc-53ft-domestic-dry-containers-ad-prelim-112014, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary antidumping determination in the 53-foot domestic dry containers (domestic dry containers) from China case finding dumping margins ranging from 24.27% to 153.24%.

NOVEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE. REVIEWS

On November 3, 2014, Commerce published in the Federal Register the attached notice, NOV REVIEWS, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of October. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Certain Cut-to-Length Carbon Steel Plate, Certain Hot-Rolled Carbon Steel Flat Products, Certain Coated Paper Suitable for High-Quality Print Graphics Using Sheet-Fed Presses, Diamond Sawblades and Parts Thereof, Fresh Garlic, Lightweight Thermal Paper, Paper Clips, Polyethylene Terephthalate Film, Sheet and Strip, Pure Magnesium in Granular Form, Refined Brown Aluminum Oxide, Seamless Carbon and Alloy Steel Standard Line, and Pressure Pipe, Seamless Refined Copper Pipe and Tube.

The specific countervailing duty cases are:

Certain Coated Paper Suitable for High-Quality Print Graphics Using Sheet-Fed Presses, Lightweight Thermal Paper, Seamless Carbon and Alloy Steel Standard, Line, and Pressure Pipe.

For those US import companies that imported Carbon Steel Plate, Coated Paper, Diamond Sawblades, Garlic and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period November 1, 2013-October 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. Recently in the Shrimp from China antidumping case, for example, almost 100 Chinese exporters were denied a separate antidumping rate.

On October 30, 2014, in the attached notice, OCT REVEW INVESTIGATIONS, based on requests in September, Commerce initiated several review investigations against a substantial number of Chinese companies in the Lined Paper Products, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Certain New Pneumatic Off-The-Road Tires, Freshwaters Crawfish Tailmeat, and Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge cases.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE AGAINST MELAMINE FROM CHINA

On November 12, 2014, Cornerstone Chemical Company filed a new antidumping and countervailing duty petition against Melamine from China and Trinidad and Tobago.  The petition alleges antidumping rates of 263.76 to 374.14 on imports of Chinese melamine.

Melamine is “a fine, white crystalline powder that is used primarily to manufacture amino resins, the major end uses of which include surface coatings, laminates, molding compounds, paper treatment, adhesives, and textile-treatment applications in the automotive, appliance, dinnerware, furniture, fabric, and wood paneling industries.

Attached are  a short version of the petition along with an Extract which includes a list of the Chinese companies and US Import Companies that are the targets of this case,  Petition on Melamine from PRC & Trinidad and Tobago ExtractPage1. The targeted Chinese companies are listed below.

Allied Chemicals Inc. China, Anhui Garments Shoes & Caps Industrial Group Co. China, Anhui Jinhe Industrial Co., Ltd., Anhui Sunson Chemical Group Co., Ltd., ChemChina, China Haohua (Group) Corp., Chengdu Yulong Chemical Co., Ltd., CNPC Urumqi Petrochemical General Factory, CNSG Anhui Hong Sifang Co., Ltd., Dalian Rion Chen Intl. Trade Co. Ltd. China, Dezhou Defeng Chemical Co., Ltd., Far-Reaching Chemical Co., Ltd. China, Forwarder Chinese, Fujian Sangang (Group), Full Shine Group Co., Ltd. China, Future Foam Asia Inc. China, Hebei Jinglong Fengli Chemical Co., Ltd., Hefei Tianfeng Import & Export Co Ltd China, Henan Jinshan Chemical Group Co., Ltd., Henan Yuhua Fine Chemical Co., Ltd., Henan Zhongyuan Dahua Group Co., Ltd., Holitech Technology Co., Ltd. China, Hubei Huaqiang Chemical Group Co., Ltd., JianFeng Chemicals, Jiangsu Heyou Group Co., Ltd., Jiangsu Sanmu Group Corporation, Kaiwei Investment Group, Kingboard (Panyu Nansha) Petrochemical Co., Ltd., M And A Chemicals Corp China, Nanjing Deju Trading Co Ltd China, Nanjing Jinxing Petrochemical Enterprise, Nantong Zixin Industrial Co., Ltd., OCI Trading (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. China, Panjin Zhongrun Chemical Co., Ltd., Puyang San’an Chemical Co., Ltd., Qingdao Shida Chemical Co., Ltd. China, Shandong Jinmei Mingshui Chemical Co., Ltd., Shandong Liaherd Chemical Industry Co. Ltd., Shandong Luxi Chemical Co., Ltd., Shandong Sanhe Chemical Co., Ltd., Shandong Shuntian Chemical Group Co. China, Shandong Xintai Liaherd Chemical Co., Ltd., Shandong Yixing Melamine Co., Ltd., Shanxi Fenghe Melamine Co., Ltd., Shanxi Tianze Coal Chemical Group Co., Ltd., Sichuan Chemical Works Group Ltd., Sichuan Golden-Elephant Sincerity Chemical Co., Ltd., Sichuan Meifeng Group Co., Ltd., Sichuan Jade Elephant Melamine Scientific and Technological Co., Ltd., Sinopec Jinling Petrochemical Co., Ltd., Well Hope Enterprises Limited, Xinji Jiuyuan Chemical Co. Ltd. China, Zhejiang Fuyang Yongxing Chemical Co., Ltd., Zhejiang Medicines & Health Product Imp. & Exp. Co. Ltd. China, Zhongyuan Dahua Group Company Ltd China, Zhucheng Liangfeng Chemical Co., Ltd.

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

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

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

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

With regards to the sanctions administered by OFAC, US Presidential Executive Orders 13660, 13661, and 13662 define how U.S. Government will identify targets of sanctions (e.g., financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense sectors and government agencies and officials). The specific OFAC regulations regarding Ukraine are set forth in 31 CFR 589 –”Blocking”/“Asset Freezing” sanctions prohibiting transactions with specific persons and entities. The regulations have been posted on my blog, but they do change as the sanctions evolve.

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

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

Thus companies or persons on the SSI list may become named SDNs in the future. SSI and SDN Lists are not static but evolving. Lists will likely expand and have expanded based on Russian behavior in Ukraine. Everything could change overnight. Do not rely on a dated list. Keep checking. www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/pages/ssi_list.aspx

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

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

On November 11, 2014, the White House indicated that the latest fighting between the Ukraine, which has been triggered by Russian aid to the separatists, is likely to trigger another round of sanctions. Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes stated, “What Russia will find is, if they continue to do that, it’s a recipe for isolation from a broad swath of the international community.”

Putin’s isolation was indicated by his presence at the G20 talks in Australia, where he was given a very “frosty” reception, which, in part, led to a decision to leave the talks early.

CUSTOMS

We have observed many instances where Customs is cracking down on imports of Chinese solar panels with third country solar cells in them. Customs forces the company to provide extensive documentation to prove that the third country solar cells are actually in the Chines solar panels. Many importers are not able to comply and face antidumping rates as high as 250% on imports.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

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

SUPREMA CASE—INDUCED PATENT INFRINGEMENT 337 CASES

On October 15th, the ITC filed the attached brief, ITC COMMISSION BRIEF, at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in the En Banc appeal in the Suprema Inc. V. US International Trade Commission case. In the prior panel decision, the CAFC held that the ITC could not use induced patent infringement to issue an exclusion order because at the time of the infringement, the imported products did not directly infringe the patents in question. The imported products infringed the patent only after arriving in the United States and being combined with other products in the United States. The ITC asked the entire CAFC to review the panel determination, and the CAFC agreed to an en banc proceeding before all the CAFC judges.

In the brief the ITC argues that the case will have “significant implications for patent holders that rely on inducement liability for protection of their inventions, especially those that hold claims to inventive methods and those that operate industries in the United States.”

The Commission went on to state in the brief:

“Appellants contend that when Congress prohibited the importation of “articles that—infringe” a patent under section 337, Congress meant to excuse the importation of articles intended to induce patent infringement. There is absolutely no support in the language of the statute or the legislative history of section 337 for Appellants’ construction. The importation of “articles that—infringe” via inducement under § 271(b) of the Patent Act is no less prohibited by section 337 than the importation of “articles that—infringe” directly under § 271(a).

The legislative history of the Tariff Act makes clear that it was intended to prevent “every type and form of unfair practice” in the importation of goods. . . . From the beginning, courts understood inducement of patent infringement to be an unfair practice within the scope of the Act. . . .

The only way the Court could adopt Appellants’ interpretation of section 337 would be to ignore the Patent Act, the language of section 337, the intent of Congress, and decades of established practice. This the Court should not do.

To prove the importation of “articles that—infringe” via inducement under section 337 requires proof of three essential elements: (1) importation of an article that is the means of infringement; (2) an intent that the imported article be used to infringe a patent, or willful blindness to infringement; and (3) an act of direct infringement involving the article. . . . The record on review contains substantial evidence of each element. . . .”

The US Government through the Justice Department filed the attched Amicus Brief, US GOVERNMENT SUPREMA BRIEF, which states in part:

Congress charged the International Trade Commission (“Commission” or “ITC”) with the responsibility to exclude from the United States “articles that . . . infringe a valid and enforceable United States patent.” 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(1)(B)(i). The Commission reasonably interprets that statutory command to prohibit the importation not merely of fully assembled patented inventions, but of all articles for which infringement liability may be imposed under the Patent Act. No one disputes that, in an ordinary civil action for infringement in district court, a person who imports articles in an intentional scheme to induce infringement of a patent within the United States “shall be liable as an infringer.” 35 U.S.C. § 271(b). The Commission sensibly construes Section 337 in pari materia with that undisputed interpretation of the Patent Act, treating the articles imported in such an infringing scheme as “articles that . . . infringe.”

The Commission acted well within its discretion in adopting that construction of the Tariff Act. The Commission has no choice but to exercise interpretative judgment in applying Section 337(a)(1)(B)(i). As appellants recognize . . ., nothing in the Tariff Act defines the phrase “articles that . . . infringe.” Nor do the patent laws speak in terms of infringing “articles.” Under the Patent Act, persons infringe, not things.  The article by itself cannot literally “infringe” under Section 271 any more than a tract of land can trespass. Thus, in enacting Section 337(a)(1)(B)(i), Congress necessarily expected and intended that the Commission would interpret “articles that . . . infringe” in a manner that appropriately translates the domestic in personam liability provisions of the Patent Act into the in rem framework of exclusion proceedings under the Tariff Act.

The Commission’s construction of Section 337 reasonably resolves that conceptual dilemma by construing the phrase “articles that . . . infringe” to encompass any article whose importation would support infringement liability under the Patent Act, including articles imported for the purpose of inducing patent infringement. That interpretation is consistent with the plain language of both Section 337 and Section 271(b) and with the underlying policies and purposes of the trade laws.

And it has the significant benefit of preventing importers from evading the prohibitions of the Tariff Act through “the most common and least sophisticated form of circumvention, importation of the article in a disassembled state.”

There is little doubt, moreover, that the Commission’s interpretation best effectuates Congress’s intent in 1988 when it enacted Section 337(a)(1)(B)(i). . . . In an uncodified portion of the 1988 legislation, Congress expressly found that Section 337 “has not provided United States owners of intellectual property rights with adequate protection against foreign companies violating such rights,” and declared that the purpose of the 1988 legislation was “to make [Section 337] a more effective remedy for the protection of United States intellectual property rights.”. . . .

That statutory declaration of purpose is impossible to reconcile with the panel’s view that Congress intended to render the Commission “powerless to remedy acts of induced infringement.” . . . By the time of the 1988 amendments, the Commission had for many years construed Section 337 to prohibit, as an unfair trade practice, the active inducement of patent infringement in the United States. It is difficult to imagine why a Congress seeking to enhance the protection of intellectual property rights in Commission proceedings would simultaneously have acted to strip the Commission of its power to redress such infringement.

And it is even more doubtful that Congress would have done so silently and obliquely, without any explanation or even acknowledgment in the legislative history. Congress does not, as the Supreme Court has observed, “hide elephants in mouseholes.” . . . .

In sum, the Commission construes Section 337 to provide remedies against the same forms of infringement at the border that district courts are empowered to redress through in personam infringement actions within the United States. Because that interpretation is reasonable and consistent with “the language, policies and legislative history” of the Tariff Act, it is entitled to deference. . . .

In addition, the atthached briefs were filed by ITC Trial Lawyers Association and Nokia in support of the ITC, ITC TLA Suprema BRIEF Nokia Suprema BRIEF.

SECTION 337 COMPLAINTS

NEW 337 COMPLAINT AGAINST FOOTWARE PRODUCTS FROM CHINA

On October 14th, Converse Inc. filed a new 337 IP case against footwear products/sneakers from China for infringement of Converse’s registered and common law trademarks. Relevant parts of the petition are posted on my October blog post along with the ITC notice. The respondent companies are set forth below:

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

On November 12, 2014, the ITC in the attached notice instituted the 337 case against Footwear from China, ITC INSTITUTION CONVERSE CASE. Chinese companies must respond to the complaint in about 30 days. If the Chinese companies fail to respond, they can be found in default and exclusion orders against their products can be issued.

On the same day that Converse filed the section 337 case, it also filed a trademark complaint for damages in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn, which is attached to my October blog post.

NEW 337 CASE AGAINST SEMICONDUCTOR CHIPS FROM TAIWAN AND HONG KONG

On November 21, 2014, Samsung Electronics Co., Ltd. and Samsung Austin Semiconductor,LLC filed a section 337 case against Graphics Processing Chips, Systems on a Chip. The respondent companies are listed below:

NVIDIA Corporation, Santa Clara, California; Biostar Microtech International Corp.. Taiwan; Biostar Microtech (U.S.A.) Corp., City of Industry, California; Elitegroup Computer Systems Co. Ltd., Taiwan; Elitegroup Computer Systems, Inc., Newark, California; EVGA Corp., Brea, California; Fuhu, Inc., El Segundo, California; Jaton Corp., Fremont, California; Mad Catz, Inc., San Diego, California; OUYA, Inc., Santa Monica, California; Sparkle Computer Co., Ltd., Taiwan; Toradex, Inc., Seattle, Washington; Wikipad, Inc., Westlake Village, California; ZOTAC International (MCO) Ltd., Hong Kong; ZOTAC USA, Inc., Chino, California.

PATENT AND IP CASES IN GENERAL

INTERDIGITAL WINS JURY CASE AGAINST ZTE

On October 28, 2014, in the attached jury form, ZTE Verdict, a Delaware federal jury determined that smartphones made by Chinese company, ZTE, infringed three patents of InterDigital Communications. The Jurors also determined that ZTE failed to prove the patents obvious. This jury verdict came after a series of setbacks for InterDigital, which lost a series of cases, including a 337 case at the ITC.

InterDigital creates revenue by licensing thousands of patents it develops to various high tech companies and filing cases against companies, such as ZTE and Nokia, that refuse to pay licensing fees.

MADE IN THE USA—FTC AND CALIFORNIA FALSE ADVERTISING PROBLEM

Recently cases involving the Made in US requirement have increased because of stricter requirements by the State of California. FTC guidelines state that an unqualified “Made in USA” label can go on any goods that are “all or virtually all” made domestically in the United States, but the words “virtually all” are open to interpretation based on the specific facts of the case.

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

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

COURT REFUSES TO DISMISS JEANS CASE AGAINST NORDTROM AND MADE IN USA JEANS

On October 27th, in the attached David Paz v. AG Adriano Goldschmeid Inc. et al, JEANS COURT ORDER, a California Federal Judge refused to dismiss a case for falsely marketing jeans as Made in USA, which they actually contain foreign parts. The Judge stated:

“Although the laws set out different standards for the use of “Made in U.S.A.” labels, it would not be impossible for Defendants to comply with both laws. Outside California, Defendants could use the “Made in U.S.A.” labels, but inside California, they could not. This may be burdensome for Defendants, but it is not impossible for them to do so.” . . .

LAND’S END

On October 29th in the Elaine Oxina v. Lands’ End Inc. case, Elaine Oxina  filed a new Made in USA class action case against clothing retailer Lands’ End Inc. accusing the company of labeling foreign-made apparel as produced in the U.S., a tactic that a California consumer alleges has allowed the business to sell items at a higher price. The complaint alleges:

“Consumers generally believe that ‘Made in USA’ products are of higher quality than their foreign-manufactured counterparts. Due to Defendants’ scheme to defraud the market, members of the general public were fraudulently induced to purchase Defendant’s products at inflated prices.”

The complaint says that Oxina purchased a necktie from Lands’ End’s online store under the assumption that the product was produced domestically. The necktie “was described using the ‘Made in U.S.A.’ country of origin designation, when the product actually was made and/or contained component parts made outside of the United States.”

The complaint also states that an inspection of a fabric tag attached to the necktie revealed that the item “is wholly made” in China. The complaint asserts claims against Lands’ End for false advertising and violations of California’s business code, adding that the alleged damages are in excess of $5 million.

Many retailers are now facing class actions over California’s tough “Made in the USA” labeling law. Retailers are allegedly selling apparel marketed as being American-made, but including foreign-made fabrics, zippers, buttons, rivets and other components.

The lawsuits also illustrate why California differs from the Federal Trade Commission, which also oversees product labeling but has a more relaxed position that is followed by other states. Unlike California, which says every component must be domestic, the FTC allows for some flexibility, saying a “Made in the USA” label can be used if “all or virtually all” of a specific product is made domestically. Getting every component of a piece of clothing from the U.S. has become increasingly difficult as business supply chains have become global.

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE AND TAIWAN COMPANIES

On October 22, 2014, in the attached complaint, CHINA COY SUES US COY PATENT INFRINGE, a Chinese company sued Dongguan Prestige Sporting Products Co., Ltd. V. Merits Co. Ltd., a Chinese company, and Merits Health Product Inc., a Florida corporation, for patent infringement of a folding seat rack.

On October 30, 2014, in the attached compliant, CHINA TRADEMARK CASE, Samsung Techwin America, Inc. filed a grey market trademark case against Xtreme Micro LLC and Zhangzhou Peiyu Jinhe Trading Co., Ltd.

On November 5, 2014, Robert Bosch filed the attached patent case, NINGBO WINDSHIELD WIPER CASE, for wiper blades against Ningbo Xinhai Aiduo Automobile Wiper Blade Manufactory Co., Ltd.

On November 7, 2014, Aztrazeneca Pharmaceuticals LP and Astrazeneca UK Ltd. filed the attached pharmaceutical patent case, TAIWAN PHARMA COMPLAINT, against a Taiwan company, Pharmadax USA, Inc., Pharmadax Inc., and Pharmadax Guangzhou Inc.

On November 10, 2013 Dura-Lite Heat Transfer Products Ltd., a Canadian corp., Glacier Radiator Manufacturing Ltd., and Philip Lesage filed the attached patent case, ZHEJIANG MACHINERY, against Zhejiang Yinlun Machinery Co., Ltd. and Yinlun USA, Inc.

On November 14, 2014, the attached complaint, CHANGZHOU KAIDI, was filed by Linak A/S and Linak U.S., Inc. v. Changzhou Kaidi Electrical Co. and Kaidi LLC for patent infringement of innovative electric linear actuator systems for use in many product sectors, including hospital and healthcare equipment.

On November 17, 2014, Tenax SPA filed the attached trademark case, WUHAN TRADEMARK against Wuhan Keda Marble Protective Materials Co., Ltd. for imports of adhesive resins.

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

On October 17, 2014, Joan Kazkevicius filed the attached products liability case, CHINA PRESSURE COOKER CASE, regarding pressure cookers against HSN, Inc., HSNI LLC, W.P. Appliances, Inc., Wolfgang Puck Worldwide, Inc., W.P. Productions, Inc., Zhanjiang Hallsmart Electrical Appliances Co., Ltd., and Guangdong Chuang Sheng Stainless Steel Products Co., Ltd.

FOOD AND FDA RESTRICTIONS

US LIFTS RESTRICTIONS ON CHICKEN AND CITRUS IMPORTS

Despite objections from public consumer groups, on November 5th, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Safety and Inspection Service stated that it had certified four Chinese poultry product producers to export processed chicken products to the U.S. The USDA accepted the certification of the facilities to export chicken products as long as they are heat-treated or cooked and made from birds originally slaughtered in the U.S. or another approved country such as Canada. The facilities still must be certified for this purpose by Chinese authorities.

The irony is that the Chinese government continues to block US chicken using its antidumping law.

Despite objections from US citrus growers, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has proposed to open the continental United States to imports of citrus fruits from China. US citrus companies argue that the Chinese imports could introduce devastating pests to U.S. orchards and invite heavy economic competition from subsidized Chinese farmers.

SEAFOOD

On November 12th, the FDA announced that it may decrease port-of-entry inspections of farm-raised seafood from China and increasingly entrust Chinese authorities with verifying that the country’s aquaculture exports are free of illegal animal drug residues.

CHINESE RESTRICTIONS ON US FOOD PRODUCTS

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

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

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

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

CHINA LIFTS RESTRICTIONS ON WASHINGTON APPLES

On October 31, 2014, in the attached statement from Washington State, CHINA LIFTS WASHINGTON APPLE SUSPENSION, Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that China is lifting its suspension of red and golden delicious apple imports from Washington State. The Chinese market for Washington apples was valued at $6.5 million in calendar year 2011.

In 2012, China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) suspended access for Washington red and golden delicious apples due to the repeated interception of three apple pests AQSIQ considers significant: speck rot, bull’s-eye rot, and Sphaeropsis rot. To lift this suspension, USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) worked with the U.S. apple industry to develop additional safeguarding measures that address China’s concerns about these pests. Some of these new measures include cold storage of apples and visual inspection of apples prior to shipping to ensure there is no evidence of disease.

CHINESE INVESTMENT AND PRODUCTION IN UNITED STATES

See the very powerful video about Chinese investment in the US creating 70 to 80,000 US Production Jobs. The investment is in the billions and includes textiles.

http://money.cnn.com/video/news/economy/2014/10/23/we-the-economy-made-by-china-in-america.cnnmoney/index.html?iid=HP_River

ANTITRUST—SOLAR AND MAGNESITE

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

SOLAR ANTITRUST CASE DISMISSED

On November 3, 2014, a Federal Judge in Michigan, in the attached opinion, ACTUAL ORDER DISMISS CHINESE SOLAR ANTITRUST CASE, dismissed a $950 million antitrust lawsuit accusing several Chinese solar panel producers of participating in a price-fixing scheme by finding that the US company have failed to establish standing. The US Judge ruled that the Chinese companies did not have the power to set up barriers to entry into the solar panels market and therefore could not eventually charge supracompetitive prices to recoup losses from selling solar panels at below cost in order to gain market share. As the Judge stated: “The court finds that plaintiff has failed to allege a dangerous probability of recoupment and, therefore, has failed [to] allege antitrust standing.”

On November 17th, in the attached complaint, RECONSIDERATION SOLAR CHINA PRICE FIX, Energy Conversion Devices Inc. urged a Michigan federal judge on Friday to reconsider his decision. ECD accused the Chinese companies of orchestrating a complex price-fixing scheme to sell inferior solar panels in the U.S. at artificially low prices by dumping their products in the US and thereby achieve market domination. The Judge’s original dismissal opinion had found that below-cost pricing alone is not enough to prove antitrust injury.

NEW MAGNESIUM ANTITRUST COMPLAINT

In response to the Court order dismissing the Magnesium Antitrust case, with options to amend the complaint, which is attached to my last blog post, on November 3, 2014, Animal Science Products, Inc., Resco Products, Inc., and S&S Refractories filed the attached new antitrust complaint, NEW MAGNESIUM COMPLAINT. The complaint, which will be attached to my blog, is against Chinese magnesium companies, Xiyang Fireproof Material, Co., Ltd., Sinosteel Corp., Sinosteel Trading Co., Liaoning Jiayimetals & Minerals Co., Ltd., Liaoning Foreign Trade General Corp., Liaoning Jinding Mangnesite Group., Dalian Golden Sun Import & Export Corp., Haicheng Houying Corp., Ltd., and Haicheng Huayu Group Import & Export Co., Ltd, Haicheng Pailou Magnesite Ore Co., Ltd. and Yingkou Huachen (Group) Co., Ltd.

AUTO NEWS — CONFESSIONS OF A PRICE FIXER

On November 16, 2014 Auto News published an interesting article “Confessions of a Price Fixer”. See http://www.autonews.com/article/20141116/OEM10/311179961/confessions-of-a-price-fixer

The article described how a Japanese executive used to the comfortable expat life, was one of dozens of white collar criminals arrested and jailed for what has become the largest price fixing antitrust case brought by the US Justice Department. The article goes on to state that the Japanese executive’s guilty plea and prison time came with a special offer from the Japanese company for which he fixed the prices. You get to keep your job after you leave prison and the company “will support me for the rest of my life.”

Today, the Japanese executive has spent his time in prison, but is now back at work at the company. But that situation is not unusual, the unwritten rule in Japanese culture is that the Japanese executive gets rewarded for not spilling the beans and cooperating with the Government’s investigation.

In America, the case has already made history with record fines more than $2.4 billion. 31 auto parts suppliers, mostly Japanese, have pled guilty to prices for parts from wire harnesses to wiper switches. Forty-six individuals, almost exclusively Japanese, have been charged. No one has challenged the charges in court; 26 individuals agreed to prison instead. Another 20 have yet to enter pleas or are otherwise ignoring their indictments.

But most the executives are still employed by their companies, even though the executives were indicted by the U.S. government on felony charges, which carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals.

The corporate leniency has become a major international issue as U.S. Assistant Attorney General William Baer warned that his antitrust division would consider probation and corporate monitors for companies harboring sensitively placed executives who have not answered the charges against them.  As one Justice Department official stated, “A U.S. company would never keep employing those individuals. In the United States, the first thing they would want to do is fire everybody. But that’s not the instinct at Japanese companies.”

The Japanese company did play tough pressuring the Japanese executive to plead guilty because a company can expect lower fines if it cooperates promptly.

In exchange, the company would take care of his family while he was in jail and find a position for him after he was freed.

Price fixing in Japan is an administrative crime and there is no real enforcement in the criminal area, but Japanese companies and executives have become very afraid. Now the Japanese companies are facing private triple damage actions brought by angry consumers.

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

Although this issue was raised by President Obama at the meetings with the Chinese government officials in Beijing, nothing of substance was reported

T&D MICROSOFT ARTICLE

In the October 2014 report on Chinese antitrust law by the Chinese T&D Law Firm, T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of September 2014, Chinese antitrust lawyer John Ren had this to say about the allegation that the Chinese Anti-Monopoly law discriminates against foreign companies:

NDRC Responded to the Query about Unfair Anti-Monopoly Practices: All People Are Equal before Law

October 30, 2014

The Anti-Monopoly Law has been effective since 2008 and was reinforced with respect to law enforcement in 2013, and then several significant anti-monopoly actions caused great sensations this year. Throughout this period, all circles have increasingly focused on ruling markets by law, breaking down monopoly privilege, and ensuring fair competition among market players. In the meantime, law enforcement with regard to anti-monopoly has drawn great attention.

Recently, several foreign-funded enterprises and foreign brands have been under investigation, and some wonder “whether China’s anti-monopoly undertaking only focuses on foreign-funded companies and is thus unfair”. Concerning this situation, Li Pumin, Secretary General of NDRC (National Development and Reform Commission), stressed in today’s “NDRC with regard to Acceleration of Building Rule of Law Authorities” press conference that all people are equal before the law, and anyone violating Chinese law shall be punished, whether they are foreign-funded or domestic companies.

He pointed out that China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement was not just targeting foreign-funded enterprises; NDRC, in line with the Anti-Monopoly Law, enforced the law with regard to those enterprises and actions restraining fair competition, which involved not only domestic enterprises but also foreign-funded enterprises.

”The Anti-Monopoly system has been rigorously designed. A vast number of large enterprises are involved, various market players are concerned about the system, and NDRC has been promoting the system, as well. In the past few years, NDRC kept summing up and exploring, and has enacted regulations on anti-price monopolies and procedure of administrative execution regarding anti-price monopoly” said Li Kang, the Chief in Laws and Regulations Department of NDRC, in regard to the work that NDRC has done in improving anti-monopoly law enforcement.

Li Kang pointed out that anti-monopoly law enforcement shall be quantified, standardized, and elaborated upon, aiming at ensuring fair, just and open anti-price monopoly enforcement. He stated further that NDRC will expand the anti-monopoly law in both substantive and procedural aspects to raise its enforceability, and in the meantime will confine and normalize NDRC’s law enforcement activities. . . .

SECURITIES

CHINESE COMPANY PUDA COAL DEFAULTS IN SECURITIES CASE

On November 18, 2014, in In re: Puda Coal Inc., a Federal District Court entered the attached default judgment, DEFAULT JUDGMENT PUDA COAL. against Chinese company Puda Coal Securities Inc., which had been sued by an investor class, for selling its sole asset to a private equity firm without telling investors for months and lying about in its IPO plans.

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

DORSEY ANTICORRUPTION DIGEST 0CTOBER 2014

The attached Dorsey’s October 2014 Anticorruption Digest, Anti_Corruption_Digest_Oct2014, had this to say about China:

“National Development and Reform Commission

According to reports, Liu Tienan, former deputy of the National Development and Reform Commission, confessed in court to taking bribes from various companies, including a Toyota Motor Corporation joint venture. The court said that: “The oral representation made by the defendants Liu Tienan on the allegations is: I have taken the initiative to confess to these facts of the allegations.”

He and his son, Liu Decheng, were reportedly charged with taking $5.8 million in bribes. Reports indicated that Mr. Decheng collected most of the bribe money. The allegations indicate that between 2002 and 2011, Mr. Tienan took bribes to facilitate project approvals and filings for a number of companies such as Nanshan Group, Ningbo Zhongjin Petrochemical Co Ltd, Guangzhou Automobile Group, Guangzhou Toyota Motor Co Ltd and Zhejiang Hengyi Group. Mr. Tienan also reportedly aided in the approval procedures for several projects from Guangzhou Automobile Group, which in return hired his son as a special Beijing representative for one of the Group’s subsidiaries.

Mr. Tienan could face life imprisonment. However, reports indicated that he is more likely to receive a lesser sentence as a result of his confession.

Reports indicate that Mr. Tienan was fired from the National Development and Reform Commission after Caijing magazine’s deputy editor Luo Changping accused him of corruption, loan fraud and counterfeiting his degree.

Pharmaceutical sector

Last month, GSK was fined $489 million in China for corruption there. Further to the Changsha Intermediate People’s Court in Hunan province’s verdict, GSK’s Chief Executive, Sir Andrew Witty, reportedly said that: “Reaching a conclusion in the investigation of our Chinese business is important, but this has been a deeply disappointing matter for GSK. We have and will continue to learn from this. GSK has been in China for close to a hundred years and we remain fully committed to the country and its people. GSK fully accepts the fact and evidence of the investigation, and the verdict of the Chinese judicial authorities. Furthermore, GSK sincerely apologizes to the Chinese patients, doctors and hospitals and to the Chinese government and the Chinese people. GSK deeply regrets the damage caused.”

In the wake of the Chinese case, other major drugmakers have also been under increased review. It has been reported that Sanofi, the French drugmaker, informed US authorities that it was investigating allegations of employees paying bribes to healthcare professionals in the Middle East and East Africa to persuade them to prescribe its drugs.”

APEC RESOLUTION

At the end of the APEC meeting in Beijing, the APEC members issued the following resolutions about foreign corrupt practices:

“Anti-Corruption

  1. We resolve to strengthen pragmatic anti-corruption cooperation, especially in key areas such as denying safe haven, extraditing or repatriating corrupt officials, enhancing asset recovery efforts, and protecting market order and integrity.
  1. We endorse the Beijing Declaration on Fighting Corruption (Annex H), the APEC Principles on the Prevention of Bribery and Enforcement of Anti-bribery Laws, and the APEC General Elements of Effective Corporate Compliance Programs.
  1. We welcome the establishment of the APEC Network of Anti-Corruption and Law Enforcement Agencies (ACT-NET) with the finalization of its Terms of Reference. We expect to deepen international cooperation, information and intelligence exchange and experience sharing among anticorruption and law enforcement practitioners from APEC member economies through the ACT-NET and other platforms.
  1. We appreciate the efforts of the Anti-Corruption and Transparency Working Group in collaborating with other APEC fora to improve transparency in this region.”

JUSTICE DEPARTMENT SPEECH ON FCPA

On November 19, 2014 Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell in the attached speech, DOJ FCPA STATEMENT, spoke about the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act:

“At the Criminal Division, we are stepping up our efforts in the battle against corruption, at home and abroad. . . .

More relevant to this audience, we are also deeply committed to fighting corruption abroad. Now, more than ever, we are bringing to justice individuals and corporations who use foreign bribery as a way to gain a business advantage. In part, we are doing this using the tools and methods that have made our past enforcement efforts so successful – FCPA prosecutions and penalties. . . .

And now we also are prosecuting the bribe takers, using our money laundering and other laws. And, importantly, we have begun stripping corrupt officials of the proceeds of their corruption involving both bribes and kleptocracy, using both criminal and civil authorities. . . .

We also attack corruption at its source – by prosecuting and seizing the assets of the corrupt officials who betray the trust of their people.

Another big change – one that has been building for years but now has really developed momentum – is that we increasingly find ourselves shoulder-to-shoulder with law enforcement and regulatory authorities in other countries. Every day, more countries join in the battle against transnational bribery. And this includes not just our long-time partners, but countries in all corners of the globe.

Together with our foreign law enforcement and regulatory partners we are taking a truly global approach to rooting out international corruption. And make no mistake, this international approach has dramatically advanced our efforts to uncover, punish and deter foreign corruption. . . .

Since 2009, we have convicted more than 50 individuals in FCPA and FCPA-related cases, and resolved criminal cases against more than 50 companies with penalties and forfeiture of approximately $3 billion. Twenty-five of the cases involving individuals have come since 2013 alone. And those are just the cases that are now public. . . .

Fighting corruption is not a choice we have made. It is, increasingly, a global imperative. Given the critical nature of this mission, we are bringing more resources to bear than ever before – and we will continue doing so. We have achieved significant successes using our traditional FCPA enforcement tools. We are building on those successes and continuing to evolve our enforcement efforts. Especially with the power of so many countries now standing by our side, we are determined to use every lawful means available to hold the perpetrators of corruption to account. . . .”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

In the attached complaint on October 28, 2014, Dragon State International Inc. filed a class action securities case against Keyuan Petrochemicals, Inc., Chenfeng Tao, and Aichun Li.  KEYUAN PETROCHEMICAL

In the attached complaint, PINGYUAN FISHING, on November 24, 2014, Tyler Warriner fled  a class action securities case against Pingtan Marine Enterprise Ltd., Xinrong Zhou, Roy Yu, Jin Shi, and Xuesong Song.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR DEVELOPMENTS–TRADE, IP, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

White House Night Pennsylvania Ave Washington DC

“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER–APRIL 15, 2014

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, Chinese Antidumping, 337, litigation, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

TRADE

THE ANTICOMPETITIVE IMPACT OF US ANTIDUMPING LAW IN CHINA AND THE US

Last week, I gave a speech in Washington DC on a paper that eventually will become an article in the Journal of Antitrust Enforcement.  The point of the paper is that the continued decision of the Commerce Department to treat China as a nonmarket economy country to justify its refusal to use actual Chinese prices and costs in China to determine antidumping rates for Chinese companies has had a substantial anticompetitive impact on US companies both in China and the United States.

In recent Hardwood Plywood Antidumping case, Commerce used values in Bulgaria to calculate costs in a Chinese antidumping case.  In the 12th Mushrooms Review Investigation, Commerce switched surrogate countries from India to Columbia and used surrogate values that were a hundred times higher for rice straw and cow manure and rates went from 0s and 2.17% to 200 to over 300%.   See Certain Preserved Mushrooms from the People’s Republic of China, 77 Fed. Reg. 55,808 (Dep’t Commerce Sept. 11, 2012).   US import companies are the companies that must pay these increased antidumping duties.

Specifically, in the Mushrooms case, Commerce used Columbia import prices as surrogate values for rice straw and the value went from 8 cents a kilogram in the prior review to $1.35 a kilogram.  Commerce also used import statistics for cow manure and the surrogate value went from 2 cents a kilogram in the prior review to $1.33 a kilogram to value this raw material input.  By the way, how many countries actually import cow manure?

As a result, all Chinese preserved mushrooms have been shut out of the United States.  On November 14, 2013, more than a year after Commerce’s final determination in the Preserved Mushrooms review investigation, the Court of International Trade reversed the Commerce’s surrogate value determination in Blue Field (Sichuan) Food Industrial Co., Ltd. v. United States, Slip Op. 13-142 (Nov. 14, 2013), but the damage has already been done.  Many Chinese companies have simply given up and most Chinese preserved mushrooms are excluded from the US market.

Mushrooms may not sound that important, but it is simply an example of the unfair trade practice, which is called US antidumping cases against Chinese companies.  In fact, the Commerce Department has used bogus numbers from surrogate third countries based on industrial policy and protectionism to calculate Chinese company costs and antidumping rates for decades.  The effect of this practice has been to shut out of the US market billions of dollars in Chinese products by US antidumping and countervailing duty orders for as long as 30 years.  But now the anticompetitive chickens are coming home to roost.

In China the Chinese government and the Chambers of Commerce created export price floors to deter dumping.  These export price floors, in turn, have provoked US antitrust cases.  See discussion of the Vitamin C case below.  In Section 11 of the WTO Accession Agreement, however, China agreed to “eliminate all taxes and charges applied to exports . . . . “  The WTO has determined in a series of cases that China cannot implement export price floors to deter antidumping cases.

So what does Chinese do?  It employs reciprocity and brings its own antidumping and countervailing duty cases against US companies, and as explained below, now antitrust cases against US companies to deter trade cases.  China is bringing a large gun to a knife fight.  What goes around comes around.  So we now have a trade war with China that is spreading into other legal areas.  Although China may not sound important to the average American, with a consumer market of 1.6 billion people, it is a larger market than the US and the best-selling car was the Buick, now the Ford Fusion.

Moreover, the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders have not accomplished their intended purpose.  Bethlehem Steel had protection through antidumping and countervailing duty orders from Steel imports for 30 years.  Is Bethlehem Steel alive today?

The question, however, is whether on December 11, 2016 the US Commerce Department will follow Section 15(d) of US China WTO Accession Agreement and the demand the US made in a Treaty with China that the nonmarket methodology will expire “15 years after the date of accession.”  To date, the answer apparently is no—treaties between the US and China simply have no meaning.  Commerce will simply look at the statute.

But as indicated above and below, what goes around comes around and the Chinese government can play games with US companies too.  Maybe it is time for the US government to follow the treaty that it signed and call off the Trade War with China that is expanding into a number of different legal areas.

TRADE WORKS BETTER WITH FREE FLOW OF IMPORTS AND EXPORTS IN COMPETITIVE MARKETS

Recently in an article published in the Washington Post entitled “How to deal with Russia without reigniting a full-fledged Cold War psychology” SCHULTZ NUNN the-us-strategy-for-keep George P. Schultz, former Secretary of State under President Reagan, and Sam Nunn, former Senator and Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, commented on the problems regarding Russia’s invasion of Crimea.  But in the Article, they made a general statement about the importance of trade relations as a basis for peace between countries, which applies directly to the relationship between the United States and China.  They stated:

“The world works better when governments have a representative quality, when the corrupt brand of excessive bureaucracy is lessened, and when economies are open to imports and exports in competitive markets.  Recent history has shown the damage done to global security and the economic commons by cross-border threats and the uncertainty that emanates from them.”

One of the basic foundations for peace is the Rule of Law.  But the Commerce Department’s decision for 30 years to use clearly bogus surrogate values to calculate Chinese costs in antidumping cases has created a very cynical view of US law in China.  Since the US antidumping law is often the first US law Chinese encounter, the Chinese government and many Chinese companies and individuals believe that the US will simply twist its own law for protectionist purposes as a way to advance US industrial policy.  But now China can respond in the same way twisting its own law as applied to US companies to advance its own industrial policy.  As one Chinese antitrust lawyer stated to me recently, the Chinese government looks at Chinese antitrust/competition law as a “weapon” to help consumers or, as some may view it, a way to advance Chinese industrial policy, much as the US Commerce Department has done with the US antidumping law.

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

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

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

As mentioned, in my February post, 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 was introduced into Congress. See February Post on this Blog for a copy of the bill.  The TPA bill gives the Administration, USTR and the President, Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority so that if and when USTR negotiates a trade deal in the TPP or the Trans-Atlantic negotiations, the Agreement will get an up or down vote in the US Congress with no amendments.

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

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

Now the story continues . . . .

On March 4, 2014, in its 2014 trade policy agenda the White House set a new goal of completing a TPP agreement in 2014.  The White House announced that it expects to conclude TPP negotiations and make substantial progress in the TTIP negotiations with Europe this year.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman stated that moving forward with this Trade Agenda will increase domestic job growth by eliminating high duties and nontariff barriers against U.S. products abroad.    The administration said it would work to conclude negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) this year.

“In the coming year, USTR will continue to execute the president’s trade vision that relies on opening markets, leveling the playing field for American workers and producers, and fully enforcing our trade rights around the world,” Froman said.

On March 7, 2014 a Senior Obama Administration official stated that the TPP negotiations are “almost complete.” The statement was made in the context of Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Chile, during which the vice president discussed the TPP and other trade ties with the South American nation.

On March 11, 2014 at a National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C. USTR Froman urged Congress to grant the administration fast-track authority to expedite approval of the TPP.  Throughout his remarks, Froman suggested the TPP would be essential for the U.S. economy’s future and would promote an increase in cross-border business in Asia.  Froman stated that currently, there are an estimated 500 million middle-class consumers in Asia — a number that is expected to reach 2.7 billion by 2030.  Froman stated that if those projections hold up, the Asian market in 25 years will be about six times the size of the U.S. market.  He also stated:

“If we don’t open those markets, help raise the standards and define the rules of the game, other countries will and we will be left on the sidelines, excluded from the fastest growing markets in the world, dealt out of global supply chains, facing a race to the bottom that we cannot win and should not run.”

On March 13th, however, it was reported that the U.S. and Japan still have gaps in their positions on lowering agricultural tariffs as part of the TPP negotiations.  According to USTR, after two days of bilateral negotiations there was “limited progress.”  Coming out of two days of negotiations on March 12, the USTR’s office stated that US and Japanese officials have not made much progress and that “working-level” discussions would continue.

The USTR is to speak at the end of April to the House Ways and Means Committee, but his testimony was released on April 3, 2014.  FROMAN TESTIMONY  As part of this speech, USTR Froman will state:

“Over the past four years, U.S. exports have increased to a record high of $2.3 trillion in 2013. In fact, a third of our total economic growth is attributed to this increase in U.S. exports.  “Exports mean jobs. Each $1 billion in exports supports 5400-5900 U.S. jobs. 11.3 million Americans now owe their jobs to exports – an increase to 1.6 million jobs in the last 5 years – and those jobs pay 13-18 percent more on average than non-export related jobs.”

“In 2014, we will work to conclude negotiations on the TPP agreement. TPP is currently being negotiated among 12 countries in the fastest growing region in the world representing nearly 40 percent of global GDP and a third of global trade.”   . . .

“As we pursue this agenda, we will continue to consult with Congress and seek input from a wide range of advisors, stakeholders and the public. We have held over 1,200 meetings with Congress about TPP alone – and that doesn’t include the meetings we’ve had on T-TIP, TPA, AGOA or other trade initiatives. Our Congressional partners preview our proposals and give us critical feedback every step of the way. We also ensure that any Member of Congress can review the negotiating text and has the opportunity to receive detailed briefings by our negotiators. . . .

“Finally, let me say a word about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The last TPA legislation was passed over a decade ago. Much has changed since that time. There has been the May 10th, 2007 agreement on labor, environment, innovation, and access to medicines. There has been the emergence of the digital economy and the increasing role of state-owned enterprises in the global economy. These issues should be reflected in the statutory negotiating objectives of a new TPA bill.

“We have heard from many that TPA needs to be updated. We agree. The Administration welcomed the introduction of bipartisan TPA legislation in January and look forward to working with this Committee and Congress as a whole to secure trade promotion authority that has as broad bipartisan support as possible.

We also look forward to renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) which expires at the end of this year as well.”

On April 8, 2014, at a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Republican Senator Orin Hatch, ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, criticized the Obama Administration’s efforts to advance the TPA approval process for the TPP and TTIP negotiations.  Senator Hatch stated that the Administration had made only an “anemic” effort to obtain support for the renewal of Trade Promotion Authority.

As Senator Hatch stated, “No complex, economically significant trade agreement has ever been negotiated by any administration and approved by Congress without Trade Promotion Authority . . . . Sadly, this administration’s enthusiasm for TPA seems tepid at best. Despite publicly calling for approval of Trade Promotion Authority in the State of the Union, President Obama’s efforts to achieve its successful consideration have been anemic.”

Hatch introduced the TPA bill along with former Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, now the U.S. ambassador to China, and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.

Hatch stated, “We need the president’s active engagement and support. We need total political commitment from this administration to advancing TPA this year. Without it, we simply will not succeed.  And, as persuasive as I am, I am not nearly as effective as President Obama can be in convincing Democrats that renewing trade negotiating authority must be a priority for our nation. There is still time, and I am hoping that President Obama will rise to the challenge.”

See Senator Hatch’s speech at http://csis.org/event/making-trade-work-america

On April 9, 2014, the next day, the new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden announced that he was introducing a new TPA bill, what Senator Wyden calls Smart Track.  In the attached speech, WYDEN SPEECH Senator Wyden spoke to the American Apparel Footwear Association Conference stating that his new bill would require the Administration to be more open in its trade negotiations and take environmental and labor issues along with currency manipulation into account in these trade negotiations.  Senator Wyden stated:

“Today I want to talk about how trade in the 21st century can create good middle-class jobs and expand what I call the winners’ circle in our country.

It starts with the fact that American trade policy has always been a story of adaptation and change.  . . .

Today’s challenges and opportunities, more than any other time in my lifetime, come down to creating more good-paying, middle-class jobs. It’s my view that every trade discussion, every single trade discussion, must now focus on how trade policy can be a springboard to high-skill, high-wage American jobs.  Jobs in innovative fields that didn’t exist before the digital era. Jobs in high-tech manufacturing that can’t be easily outsourced.  Jobs that give Americans a ladder into the middle class. Here’s the reality folks, or the one that I hear at every town meeting – I have another coming up in a week or so – millions of middle-class Americans simply don’t believe trade can help them get ahead, or they worry their voices aren’t being heard.  A 21st century trade policy has to meet the needs of those who are middle class today and those who aspire to be middle class tomorrow.  On my watch, I can tell you, those voices are not going to get short shrift in the Senate Finance Committee.

My basic philosophy with respect to trade is I want to see Americans grow and make things here, innovate and add value to them here, and ship them somewhere, whether in containers, on airplanes, or in electronic bits and bytes.

My view is there are opportunities for the U.S. to do that in trade agreements with nations across the Pacific and in Europe, but it is going to take fresh policies – adapted to the times – to make those trade agreements work for all Americans.

I want to be very clear: only trade agreements that include several ironclad protections based on today’s great challenges can pass through Congress.  I am not going to accept or advance anything less.

First, trade agreements must be enforceable, and not just in name only. The United States has to follow through on enforcement at home and around the world.  If it doesn’t, trade agreements will not deliver on their job-creating potential and the economic winners’ circle, instead of expanding, could actually shrink.

A World Trade Organization ruling that came out just last week showed a great example of enforcement done right. China’s restrictions on rare earth mineral exports have done real damage to American businesses and consumers and could cost our country jobs across a wide array of industries.

Manufacturers of rechargeable batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, MRI machines, night vision goggles and many others took a hit. My friend Leo Gerard from the United Steelworkers will tell you the impact China’s restrictions have had on his members’ jobs.  So the U.S. stood up and challenged China in the WTO, and the WTO ruled in America’s favor – making clear that as a member of the global trading system, the Chinese have to play by the rules.

With American jobs on the line, all trade agreements ought to be enforced with that kind of vigor. Enforcement has to happen without hesitation over politics or other kinds of secondary considerations.

Right now, for example, Customs often appears to focus on security at the expense of its trade mission. Fake NIKE shoes and counterfeit computer chips with a fake Intel logo too often make their way past America’s border agents unnoticed.  Foreign companies have evaded the trade remedy laws that protect American workers, like those in the solar and steel industries. A 21st century trade policy can’t work if the cops at the border aren’t doing an adequate job on the beat.

Second, trade agreements must promote digital trade and help foster innovation in areas where America leads, like cloud computing. When President Kennedy made his pitch for a modern trade policy to Congress five decades ago, nobody could have imagined what the digital world would become, or how important the Internet would be to the global economy. . . .

Fortunately, our country today enjoys a major trade surplus in digital trade that fuels the growth of high-quality, high-skill jobs. Twenty-first century trade agreements have to preserve this American advantage. They must prevent unnecessary restrictions on data flows or requirements to localize data and servers. Make no mistake about it, these NSA policies have harmed the American brand in parts of this debate and it’s something that I’m going to focus on changing, not just from the Finance Committee, but from the Intelligence Committee as well. They must include assurances that Internet companies have no more legal liability in foreign markets than they do in the U.S. There is a reason that America is home to the leading technology and Internet companies: our legal framework promotes innovation and the digital economy. . . .

Similarly, provisions like the PIPA and SOPA bill that would do so much damage to the Internet or result in its censorship have no place in trade agreements. I want everyone to know that I’ll do everything in my power on the Finance Committee to keep them out of future agreements. I welcomed Ambassador Froman’s statement in February that he is committed to keeping them out of TPP. It’s as simple as this: the Internet, which is really the shipping lane of the 21st century has to be kept open and free.

Third, trade agreements must combat the new breed of predatory practices that distort trade and investment and cost American jobs. Chinese state-owned enterprises, for example, don’t have the risk or borrowing costs that their American competitors do.

China’s indigenous innovation policies too often undermine American innovators by requiring them to relocate intellectual property. And currency manipulation undercuts American autoworkers and a number of our manufacturers here at home. Again, these are practices that cost good American jobs. They have the same harmful effects on American exports as any other trade barrier, so modern agreements – including the TPP – have to give our country the tools to level the playing field.

Fourth, some nations simply don’t share America’s commitment to labor and the environment, so when the U.S. doesn’t lead the way with strong standards and enforcement, trade agreements fall short. Commitments on these issues have to be core parts of trade agreements, rather than something like a side deal that’s just coasting along for the ride. This is one area where the U.S. has made progress.  . .  .

Finally, agreements must be ambitious, opening foreign markets and helping U.S. workers, farmers, manufacturers and service providers increase exports.  . . .

Trade agreements also need to be part of a broader framework, including Trade Adjustment Assistance, that moves exports more efficiently to foreign markets and gives more Americans a chance to climb the economic ladder. There are people who argue that the benefits of trade deals have only gone to some. I argue that if we work to get better, more modern agreements that reflect the lessons of history, we can get trade deals that expand the winners’ circle and help revitalize the middle class. . . .

When it comes to trade talks, in my town hall meetings, people want to know what’s being negotiated. In my view the public has a right to know what the policy choices are.  For its part, Congress has a constitutional responsibility to tell the President and the U.S. Trade Representative what they need to accomplish in trade deals, which it has traditionally done by passing trade promotion authority, or “fast-track.” I believe what’s needed to accomplish these things is different from a fast-track, or a “no-track,” and this afternoon I’d like to call it a “smarttrack.”

A smart-track will hold trade negotiators more accountable to the Congress, more accountable to the American people, and help ensure that trade agreements respond to their concerns of our people and their priorities, and not just to special interest groups. It will include procedures to get high-standard agreements through Congress, and procedures that enable Congress to right the ship if trade negotiators get off course. But to get better trade agreements, there must be more transparency in negotiations. The Congress cannot fulfill its constitutional duty on trade if the public doesn’t know what’s at stake or how to weigh in.

The public needs to know that somebody at USTR is committed to shedding more light on trade negotiations and ensuring that the American people have a strong voice in trade policy –a voice that is actually heard.

Going forward in the days and weeks ahead, I am going to work with my colleagues and stakeholders on a proposal that accomplishes these goals and attracts more bipartisan support.  As far as I’m concerned, substance is going to drive the timeline.

Some would like to lay blame for lack of support for the TPA proposal recently introduced in Congress at the doorstep of the White House. The president and Ambassador Froman are, frankly, having a difficult time selling a product that members are not thrilled about.  Policy matters, and arbitrary timelines won’t work. Instead of casting blame, our time would be better spent rolling up our sleeves and getting to work on policies that expand the winners’ circle for our people. Expanding the winner’s circle is going to mean that Americans see a trade agreement that they actually want to pass. That will build more bipartisan support for the president’s trade priorities. . . .”

An April 9th article in Roll Call described the difficult problem the Administration faces with Unions in the Trade area because of the upcoming mid-term elections.  See http://www.rollcall.com/news/on_trade_obama_faces_a_tough_political_dance-232073-1.html?pg=2

FORMER CONGRESSMAN BONKER MARCH 17TH ARTICLE ON TPP AND CHINA IN CHINA DAILY

But on March 17, 2014, former Congressman Don Bonker of APCO published an article in the China Daily about the obstacles the Obama Administration is facing with regards to its trade agenda.  BONKER ARTICLE  As Congressman Bonker states:

“US President Barack Obama has such good intentions, but his lofty goals often become bridges to nowhere. The latest is international trade. This time the problem is not the Republicans, but his own party.

His administration has been actively negotiating two huge trade agreements, one with Pacific Rim countries and one with the European Union, yet Congress must first pass the Trade Promotion Authority bill to allow fast-track consideration of the two trade agreements.

However, the Democrats’ top leader in the US Senate, Harry Reid, has already set up a roadblock by cautioning that “everyone would be well advised just to not push this right now”. That is the sentiment of most Congressional Democrats who see this as a risky vote in an election year.

Maybe it is time for the Obama administration to take a break from pursuing contentious regional trade deals and give a higher priority to the US-China economic relationship. Why launch trade negotiations with 11 Asian countries and leave out China?

The Obama administration earlier portrayed the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a geopolitical strategy that would give the US a stronger presence in Asia, plus allow a protective shield for Asian countries feeling threatened by China’s growth and influence in the region.  However, because the US already has trade pacts with six of the TPP countries, why cast a larger net that unnecessarily adds burden, if not controversy, to the negotiating process?

As the world’s two largest economies, the stakes are greater when it comes to China-US relations, as are the opportunities and challenges.  Chinese investments in the US doubled last year to a record $14 billion and early this year had a jump start with Lenovo Group’s two huge purchases of Google Inc’s Motorola handset division for $2.9 billion and its purchase of IBM Corp’s low-end server unit for $2.3 billion.

At the same time, two large Chinese entities, Richard Li’s Hybrid Technology LLC and China’s largest auto parts company, Wanxiang Group Corp, were fiercely competing to take over the bankrupt Fisker Automotive Inc with plans to revive the electric sports car manufacturer.

True, Chinese investments in the US are increasing rapidly, but their numbers would have been larger were it not for the hostile environment many of China’s proposed acquisitions and mergers encounter.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Lenovo acquisitions (both IBM and Google’s Motorola) will “likely draw scrutiny from US regulators and concern about security issues involving acquisitions by Chinese companies”. That certainly was the case with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp, two large Chinese telecom network providers.

What is being ignored are the economic benefits such investments bring to the United States, including job creation, which is a big issue this election year.  According to the Rhodium Group, Chinese investments have created more than 70,000 jobs in the US and that number could reach 200,000 by 2020 (not to mention preserving the jobs of failed and bankrupt US companies), which is why US President Obama now sees foreign investment as important to growing the country’s economy.

Last October, at a Department of Commerce Investment Summit, President Obama announced the creation of Select USA, publically stating: “I want your companies to invest more here in the United States of America.” It was something of a clarion call to the world that all investments are now welcomed in the US.

Last year President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to revive negotiations for a China-US Bilateral Investment Treaty that is intended to break down the barriers to encourage more foreign investments between the two countries.

Yet is the US prepared to insulate the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States process from being used for political and economic interests to block investments, and is China, for its part, willing to allow foreign investments in its protected industries, particularly State owned enterprises and in the financial, transportation and telecom sectors?

The flip side is the ever-increasing mercantile trade across the Pacific. The whole idea of the TTP is to lower tariffs, remove restrictions and improve market access among the participating nations. But it will likely encounter the same fate as the 20 free trade agreements previously negotiated by the US Trade Representative that ultimately were greeted with skepticism on Capitol Hill.

Nowhere is this more evident than US trade policies that are being unfairly aimed at China. America’s anti-dumping/countervailing duty laws are highly discriminatory in that they still treat China as a non-market economy, which guarantees the imposition of punitive tariffs that are proving harmful to businesses in both countries.

It certainly raises questions about the US’ protectionism, or at least the politicalizing of its trade policies, casting doubts on Congress acting responsibly and a President’s ability to deliver on important trade deals.  Indeed former US trade representative Robert Zoellick once declared that “trade agreements were more about politics than economics”. Trying to address these issues will be a challenge. On the US side, it is a combination of old fashion protectionism, China bashing, distorted regulatory policies and domestic companies seeking protection from Chinese competition.”

The author, a former US Congressman, works with APCO Worldwide, an independent communications consultancy.  . . . See the article at http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2014-03/17/content_17352705.htm

CAFC DENIES CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE TO GPX LAW

On March 18, 2014, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in Guangdong Wireking Housewares & Hardware Co., Ltd. et al. v. United States, CAFC GXP NO CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION addressed the Congressional 2012 statute overruling the GPX decision and retroactively applying both antidumping and countervailing duties with respect to imports from non-market economy (“NME”) countries.   In that decision, the CAFC affirmed the Court of International Trade that the Commerce Department does not have to adjust for double counting and that the retroactive imposition of both countervailing and antidumping duties does not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution.

CHINESE EXPORT TAXES ON RAW MATERIALS—WTO PROBLEMS

On March 26, 2014, the USTR announced that the WTO had sided with the United States, European Union and Japan in finding that China’s restrictions on the export of rare earth materials, tungsten and molybdenum violated its WTO accession commitments and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).  In the rare earth case, the USTR challenged three types of Chinese export restrictions– export duties, export quotas, and requirements for enterprises permitted to export the materials.

Although WTO rules do not require members to eliminate export duties, China committed in Paragraph 11.3 of China WTO Agreement to eliminate all export restraints, including duties, except for those on 84 specific tariff lines.  Paragraph 11.3 of the US China WTO Agreement, which became the China WTO Agreement, specifically provides,” China shall eliminate all taxes and charges applied to exports unless specifically provided for in Annex 6 of this Protocol or applied in conformity with the provisions of Article VIII of the GATT 1994.”  As the materials at issue in the rare earths case were not included in that list, the panel found that the export duties violated Paragraph 11.3.

Paragraph 11.3 is also the provision at the core of the Vitamin C antitrust case that the Chinese government cites in its Appellate Brief, which will be discussed more below.  In fact, tungsten ore has been the target of a US antidumping action, and a US antidumping order was issued against China from Nov 21, 1991-Nov 3, 1999, shutting all tungsten ore out of the US for about 8 years.

All parties have 60 days or until May 25th to the WTO appeal the ruling.  On April 9th, the USTR announced that for strategic purposes, it has appealed the decision so that it can get a WTO ruling that can be enforced against China.

On March 26, 2014, USTR WTO VICTORY RARE EARTH METALS AND 2011 VITORY the USTR specifically stated in its announcement of the WTO victory on Rare Earths, Tungsten and Molybdenum:

“United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel has agreed with the United States in a major dispute, finding in favor of U.S. claims that China’s imposition of export restraints on rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum breach WTO rules. Rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum are key inputs in a multitude of U.S-made products for critical American manufacturing sectors, including hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy-efficient lighting, steel, advanced electronics, automobiles, petroleum and chemicals.

“Time and again, the Obama Administration has made clear that we are willing to go to the mat for American workers and businesses to make sure that the playing field is fair and level,” said Ambassador Froman. “The United States is committed to ensuring that our trading partners are playing by the rules. We will continue to defend American manufacturers and workers, especially when it comes to leveling the playing field and ensuring that American manufacturers can get the materials they need at a fair market price.”

“China’s decision to promote its own industry and discriminate against U.S. companies has caused U.S. manufacturers to pay as much as three times more than what their Chinese competitors pay for the exact same rare earths. WTO rules prohibit this kind of discriminatory export restraint and this win today, along with our win 2 years ago in an earlier case, demonstrates that clearly.”  . . .

The Chinese export restraints challenged in this dispute include export duties and export quotas, as well as related export quota administration requirements. These types of export restraints can skew the playing field against the United States and other countries in the production and export of downstream products. They can artificially increase world prices for these raw material inputs while artificially lowering prices for Chinese producers. This enables China’s domestic downstream producers to produce lower-priced products from the raw materials and thereby creates significant advantages for China’s producers when competing against U.S. and other producers both in China’s market and other countries’ markets. The export restraints can also create substantial pressure on foreign downstream producers to move their operations, jobs and technologies to China.  . . .

This dispute builds on and expands an earlier victory that the United States achieved in 2011 challenging China’s use of export restraints on a different set of raw material inputs used in the steel, aluminum, and chemicals industries (bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorous and zinc). “  Emphasis added.

As stated many times on this blog, there are outstanding US antidumping orders against magnesium, foundry coke, manganese, and silicon metal, which have shut probably $1 billion of imports of these Chinese metal products out of the United States for decades.  Exolon Esk, a one company US industry, tried to bring an antidumping case against Silicon Carbide, but failed.  The US industry, however, did prevail in the Tungsten Ore case, leaving an antidumping order in place and shutting all Chinese tungsten ore out of the US market for almost 8 years.

Thus the USTR states:

Chinese export restraints . . . can skew the playing field against the United States and other countries in the production and export of downstream products. They can artificially increase world prices for these raw material inputs while artificially lowering prices for Chinese producers. This enables China’s domestic downstream producers to produce lower-priced products from the raw materials and thereby creates significant advantages for China’s producers when competing against U.S. and other producers both in China’s market and other countries’ markets. The export restraints can also create substantial pressure on foreign downstream producers to move their operations, jobs and technologies to China.  . . .

But US antidumping orders against metal and chemical products from China based on bogus numbers that have no relationship to reality can have the exact same effect as export restraints, in many cases created by the Chinese government to deter US antidumping cases.

In effect, from the US government’s point of view it can have its cake and eat it too.  Smash Chinese companies and US import companies with antidumping cases based on bogus numbers, and if the Chinese government tries to set an export price floor to deter dumping cases, slam China at the WTO.

In 2011, it was reported that U.S. lawmakers applauded the first WTO determination and called for speedy implementation of the decision.

“These WTO findings are crystal clear — China is manipulating the raw materials market at the expense of American businesses,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) in a July 5, 2011 statement. “As a WTO member, China has a responsibility to play by the rules and respect the rights of its international partners.”

But will the same US lawmakers now do right by US importers, US downstream producers and China and follow the treaty the US signed and the demand it made and make China a market economy country in US antidumping cases on December 11, 2016?  Or will the US Congress continue to seriously damage US companies, skewing “the playing field against the United States … in the production and export of downstream products.. . .” creating “substantial pressure” on US “downstream producers to move their operations, jobs and technologies to China . .  . .”

USTR SEEKS COMMENTS ON CHINESE GOVERNMENT’S CHALLENGE TO US ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST CHINA

On April 8, 2014 the USTR published the attached notice in the Federal Register seeking comments by May 2, 2014 on a WTO complaint filed by China against various US antidumping cases.  USTR NOTICE WTO DISPUTE SETTLEMENT NME SINGLE COUNTRY RATE  Some of the specific issues raised by the Chinese government are targeted dumping and the use of zeroing in various initial and review antidumping investigations, the single rate presumption from non-market economies, the application of NME-wide methodology and the recourse to adverse facts available as the China wide rate.

APRIL ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On April 1, 2014, Commerce published in the Federal Register the attached notice APRIL NOTICE REVIEW REQUEST SINKS regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of April.  The specific antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China are: 1-Hydroxyethylidene-1, 1-Diphosphonic Acid, (HEDP), Activated Carbon, Drawn Stainless Steel Sinks, Frontseating Service Valves, Magnesium Metal, Non-Malleable Cast Iron Pipe Fittings, and Steel Threaded Rod.

For those US import companies that imported steel sinks, activated carbon and the other products listed above from China during the period April 1, 2013-March 31, 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline.  Requests have to be filed by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

EXPORT CONTROLS

On April 4, 2014, the US government indicted a Chinese citizen and two Iranian companies for violation of US export laws for illegally exporting devices used in the production of weapon-grade uranium to Iran.

In the indictment, CHENG INDICTMENT Sihai Cheng and several Iranian co-defendants were charged with violating U.S. export laws by conspiring to export U.S.-manufactured pressure transducers to Iran.

Cheng was arrested by British authorities on Feb. 7 while traveling in the U.K. and is being held there pending extradition to the U.S.  According to the indictment, to evade US export controls, Cheng’s China agent set up front companies in China to pose as the end users in transactions with Cheng’s Shanghai office for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining export licenses from the U.S.  If convicted, Cheng faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million for each export violation.

THE HYPOCRISY OF US PRISON LABOR ALLEGATION

For years, the US government and Congressmen have complained about Chinese companies using prison labor to produce products, which are exported to the United States.  At a recent Housewares Show in Chicago, however, the Program Manager of the Business Development Group of the US Justice Department’s Federal Bureau of Prisons was going booth to booth saying that the prison factories run by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons in the United States could match any Chinese price with US prison labor.  What goes around does indeed come around.

CURTAIN WALLS ARE DEFINITELY IN THE ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CASE

In the attached second scope determination on curtain wall units, Commerce determined that curtain wall units are definitely covered by the Aluminum Extrusions Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Case.  Commerce Complete and Finished Curtain Wall Ruling

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

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

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

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

We are now contacting many US importers and also Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they are interested in participating in the Alliance.

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

In forthcoming newsletters we will provide additional information about the Alliance and specific meeting days in different areas of the United States.

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS PROGRAM WORKS

As many of you may know, I am on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, the only trade program that actually works.  We provide Federal Government assistance to US companies that have been injured by imports under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firm (“TAAF”) program.  Total US government assistance to companies every year is $16 million.  The US government provides workers $1 billion to retrain them if they have been injured by imports.  Maybe this out of balance situation is the reason for some of the trade problems in the US.

The 2013 Report on the TAAF is attached FY13_TAAF_Annual_Report_to_Congress and can be found at http://www.eda.gov/pdf/FY13_TAAF_Annual_Report_to_Congress.pdf

Some of the key findings, however, are as follows:

“In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, firms assisted by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program performed more successfully than the manufacturing industry as a whole, demonstrating a significant return on federal investment.  . . .

Overall, the program is effective in helping firms become more competitive and overcome negative trade impacts. Examples of TAAF program benefits to manufacturing firms can be found in the supplement and the end of this report.

In FY 2013, firms participating in the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program reported that, on average, their sales increased by 85 percent, employment increased by 43 percent, and productivity increased by 29 percent from the time of TAAF certification to the completion of the TAAF program.  . . .

All TAAF-assisted firms that completed the program in FY 2011 were in operation at the end of FY 2013, indicating strong survival rates for TAAF-assisted firms in the face of import pressures.”

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE

In response to the US and other antidumping and countervailing duty cases, China’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) is initiating their own antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the United States.

OPTICAL FIBER

On March 19, 2014, MOFCOM initiated an antidumping case against Optical Fiber Preform products imported from the US and Japan.  The Chinese petitioners are Yangtze Optical Fiber and Cable Company Ltd., Jiangsu Hengtong Optic-electric Co., Ltd, and Futong Group Co., Ltd.

The US respondent companies are Corning Incorporated and OFS Fitel, LLC.  The Japanese respondent companies are: Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd., Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd., Fujikura Ltd., and Furukawa.

The US alleged antidumping rate is 25.42% and US imports into China are valued at $142,065,372.  A translated initiation notice is attached.  Information about Optical Fiber Preform Antidumping Case

CELLULOSE PULP 

On April 4, 2014, China issued final antidumping duties on cellulose pulp used in paper, textiles and other goods from the US, Canada and Brazil.  The Canadian antidumping rates ranged from 13% for Fortress Specialty Cellulose Ltd. to 23.7% for all other Canadian companies.

The highest dumping rates were for the US companies with rates from 16.9% for Washington state’s Cosmo Specialty Fibers Inc. to 17.2% of Florida’s Rayonier Performance Fibers LLC.  Washington-based Weyerhaeuser Co. received 17% and Georgia-Pacific LLC’s GP Cellulose received 33.5%.  XINHUA PULP

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA

With regards to the Chinese ban on shellfish from the West Coast, the Chinese government had detected inorganic arsenic in a November shipment of geoducks from Washington’s Poverty Bay. That shipment and another from Ketchikan, Alaska, that was tainted with algae toxin, led China on Dec. 3 to ban all imports of bivalve shellfish harvested in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California.

The ban has seriously hurt the Pacific Northwest shellfish industry, blocking imports to the major market for West Coast shellfish for several months now.

A March 21st trip to China by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials may have started the movement to a solution as they met with counterparts in Beijing, and talked about toxin testing methods.  In a conference call with staff from Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich’s Offices, the NOAA administrator reportedly stated that the U.S. officials came away from the March 21 meeting optimistic about resolving the dispute, and eventually lifting the ban.

According to Senator Begich’s office, Chinese officials told the NOAA representatives that they were satisfied with Alaska’s PSP testing methods. But, more work is needed to satisfy Chinese concerns about arsenic, which came from Washington State.

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

What goes around does indeed come around.

US LITIGATION LIMITS AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES AND INDIVIDUALS

On March 5, 2014, in the attached Guan v. Bi case, Judge William Orrick Ill of the California Federal District Court clarified the limited reach of federal courts over foreign litigants in two important respects.  GUAN V BI CASE

Mr. Guan and his wife sued a group of Chinese individuals and the Chinese government’s Dalian Customs Anti-Smuggling Bureau for an alleged conspiracy to extort millions of dollars from the couple.  The conspiracy included an alleged kidnaping of the couple in China.

Because plaintiffs refused the extortion demand, they were jailed for many months in China.  After release and return to the US, the Chinese couple sued in California state court.  The only defendant in the US sought to remove the case to Federal Court.  But the US defendant lived in the same state as the couple and there was no diversity.

This case, however, was not removable under the ordinary grounds for removal – federal question and diversity jurisdiction. The contested issue, therefore, was whether the international character of the dispute created any additional paths for removal to Federal District Court from State Court.  The Court held that when a foreign sovereign is sued in state court along with non-sovereign codefendants, only the foreign sovereign itself may remove the case to federal court under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).

Second, the presence of non-U.S. litigants on both sides of a case cannot create diversity jurisdiction where complete diversity doesn’t otherwise exist between U.S. litigants on each side.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

ITC SAYS DIGTAL FILE TRANSFERS ARE IMPORTS UNDER SECTION 337

On April 3, 2014, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) in Certain Digital Models, Digital Data, and Treatment Plans for Use in Making Incremental Dental Positioning Adjustment Appliances, the Appliances Made Therefrom and Methods of Making the Same affirmed that it has jurisdiction under 337 to prevent the international transmission of digital files that infringe patents.  The ITC agreed with the Administrative Law Judge that electronic files are “articles” under 337 and found that their transmission constitute “importation” under the statute.

The agency issued cease-and-desist orders against defendant.  The ITC specifically stated in the attached Federal Register notice, FED REG DIGITAL FILES CASE:

”Specifically, the Commission affirms the ALJ’s conclusion that the accused products are “articles” within the meaning of Section 337(a)(1)(B) and that the mode of bringing the accused products into the United States constitutes importation of the accused products into the United States pursuant to Section 337(a)(1)(B). The Commission has determined to find a violation with respect to (i) claims 1 and 4-8 of the `863 patent; (ii) claims 1, 3, 7, and 9 of the `666 patent; (iii) Claims 1, 3, and 5 of the `487 patent; (iv) claims 21, 30, 31 and 32 of the `325 patent; and (v) claim 1 of the `880 patent. The Commission has issued cease and desist orders directed to CCUS and CCPK, with an exemption for activities related to treatment of existing patients in the United States.”

A full copy of the opinion will be posted on my blog, when it is available.

STATE OF OKLAHOMA SUES CHINESE COMPANIES FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

On March 13, 2014, the State of Oklahoma through its attorney general sued Newayvalve Co., Neway Industrial Material (Suzhou) Co., Ltd., Neway Oil Equipment Co., Ltd., Neway Industrial Material (Dafeng) Co., Ltd., Neway Valve International Inc. and Neway Valve (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. for copyright infringement in China for use of unlicensed Microsoft software in China.  In the attached complaint, AG Neway Complaint_3132014 the Oklahoma Attorney General states:

“Plaintiff State of Oklahoma (“Plaintiff’), by E. Scott Pruitt, the duly elected Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma, commences this action on behalf of the State of Oklahoma under the Oklahoma Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“ODTPA”), 78 O.S. § 51 et. seq., the Oklahoma Antitrust Reform Act (“OARA”), 79 O.S. § 201 et seq., and such other causes of action that exist at common law against Defendants Neway Valve Co., Neway Industrial Material (Suzhou) Co., Ltd., Neway Industrial Material (Dafeng) Co., Ltd., and Neway Valve International, Inc. (collectively, “Neway” or “Defendants”).  Plaintiff alleges on information and belief as follows: . . .

1. Plaintiff brings this action to remedy violations of Oklahoma statutory and common law in connection with Defendants’ unfair, deceptive and anti-competitive business practices.

2. Defendants produce a variety of valves and other equipment for sale to the petroleum industry and, in doing so, compete directly with several Oklahoma-based companies for the business of oil and natural gas producers in Oklahoma.

3. However, instead of engaging in legitimate competition, Defendants have illegally utilized unlicensed software in the production and distribution of their valves. As set forth in detail herein; in an industry characterized by thin margins, Defendants have illegitimately and unlawfully reduced their production costs by illegally obtaining copyrighted software that is crucial to the production and sale of their products. Defendants’ unlawful conduct has created an uneven playing field that favors Defendants’ products over comparable products sold by Oklahoma manufacturers.

4. Generally, federal laws and international treaties do not address the pernicious downstream effects of such acts in the Oklahoma valve manufacturing sector. The Defendants’ use of stolen software to gain a competitive advantage over domestic valve manufacturing companies,’ including those in Oklahoma, can be remedied, however, by proscribing such tactics as unfair, deceptive and anti-competitive methods of commerce under Oklahoma law.

5. Plaintiff asks this Court to enjoin Defendants unlawful business practices, impose civil fines and penalties, and award restitution, monetary damages, investigative costs and fees, and attorney fees, as well as such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.”

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

On February 27, 2014, Smartphone Technologies filed new patent cases against ZTE and Huawei.  SMARTPHONE HUAWEI SMARTPHONE ZTE

On April 7, 2014, Pragmatus Mobile sued ZTE for patent infringement.  PRAGMATUS ZTE

On April 8, 2014, Billabong International Ltd, GSM Operations PTY Ltd. and Burleigh Point Ltd d/b/a Billabong USA sued Digital Shui dba Multisport Asia for cybersquatting (unlawfully occupying a domain name in which it possesses no rights) on the <billabong.com> domain name and then demanding exorbitant sums of money as ransom for the return of the control of the Domain Names to Plaintiffs. Defendant’s conduct allegedly violates the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(d), (“ACPA”) and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(4), constitutes tortious interference with contract under Virginia common law, and also constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty, including the duty of loyalty and good faith and fair dealing.  BILL4

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

On April 3, 2014, the attached products liability complaint was filed for wrongful death by Maxine Surber in the Federal District Court in the Western District of Washington States against the Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. for the death of Jeff Surber who died while maintaining a ship to shore crane designed and manufactured by Shanghai Industries.  PRODUCTS LIABILITY SHANGHAI COMPANY

ANTITRUST

EXTRADITION OF FOREIGN NATIONAL TO FACE CRIMINAL ANTITRUST CHARGES

On April 4, 2013, the Justice Department announced that it was successful for the first time in extraditing a foreign national to face charges related to a cartel, worldwide antitrust bid-rigging conspiracy related to marine hose sold in the United States.  In the attached April 4th announcement, EXTRADITION OF FOREIGN NATIONAL the Justice Department stated:

“Romano Pisciotti, an Italian national, was extradited from Germany on a charge of participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by rigging bids, fixing prices and allocating market shares for sales of marine hose sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today. This marks the first successfully litigated extradition on an antitrust charge.

Pisciotti, a former executive with Parker ITR Srl, a marine hose manufacturer headquartered in Veniano, Italy, was arrested in Germany on June 17, 2013.  He arrived in the Southern District of Florida, in Miami, yesterday and is scheduled to make his initial appearance today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Ft. Lauderdale, at 11:00 a.m. EDT.

“This first of its kind extradition on an antitrust charge allows the department to bring an alleged price fixer to the United States to face charges of participating in a worldwide conspiracy,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “This marks a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to work with our international antitrust colleagues to ensure that those who seek to subvert U.S. law are brought to justice.”

Marine hose is a flexible rubber hose used to transfer oil between tankers and storage facilities. During the conspiracy, the cartel affected prices for hundreds of millions of dollars in sales of marine hose and related products sold worldwide. . . .

Pisciotti is charged with violating the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals. . . .

As a result of the department’s ongoing marine hose investigation, five companies, including Parker ITR; Bridgestone Corp. of Japan; Manuli SPa of Italy’s Florida subsidiary; Trelleborg of France; and Dunlop Marine and Oil Ltd, of the United Kingdom, and nine individuals have pleaded guilty.”

VITAMIN C CASE

As mentioned in my last e-mail, the Vitamin C case is wrapping up at the District Court level.  The final judgment was revised downward from $153 million to a $147 million judgment because of double counting against by Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Hebei”) and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. (“NCPGC”) for price fixing.

On April 7, 2014, Hebei and NCPGC filed the attached appeals brief Hebei vitamin c appeal brief with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals requesting that the Court reverse US District Judge Brian M. Cogan’s judgment imposing nearly $150 million in damages and a permanent injunction as the company was complying with Chinese laws and regulations by fixing prices on Vitamin-C exports.  In its brief, which will be posted on my blog, Hebei and NCPGC specifically state in part:

“The district court imposed nearly $150 million in penalties and a permanent injunction on Appellants for complying with their own nation’s laws and regulations in reaching price and output agreements on vitamin C exports. The text of the applicable regulations, authoritative legal interpretations offered by the Chinese government, unrebutted expert testimony on Chinese law, and other evidence that the Chinese government mandated the challenged conduct had no impact on the district court.  Rather, the court attacked the credibility of the Chinese government and seized on translated words without due regard for their cultural and linguistic context in order to hold that China’s regime of export regulations for vitamin C constituted a purely private “cartel.” Proper regard for Chinese sovereignty should have led to dismissal of Appellees’ claims under the doctrines of foreign sovereign compulsion, international comity, act of state, or political question. The judgment below represents a massive extension of U.S. federal judicial power into the affairs of a sovereign nation and matters of foreign affairs. This Court should hasten to repudiate it.

The new system was intended to facilitate China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) and avoid antidumping sanctions imposed by foreign governments while maintaining the Ministry’s policy of ensuring the orderly development of key export industries, such as vitamin C.  . . The Ministry explained that the new system would be “convenient for exporters while it is conducive for the chambers to coordinate export price and industry self-discipline.”

As could be predicted, the Chinese government has taken umbrage at the district court judgment. Chinese officials have noted the judgment will “cause problems for the international community” and “eventually harm the interests of the United States. . .  . Leading commentators have observed that the case “has potentially expansive implications for how the U.S. antitrust laws do and should interact with executive branch and foreign interests on international trade,” “is at least in tension with the executive branch’s position [in the WTO],” and “rais[es] the question of whether our antitrust laws ought to be interpreted as giving greater deference to the sovereignty of individual U.S. states than to the sovereignty of foreign governments.”  . . . .

The district court’s dismissal of the government’s views was both disrespectful and unfounded. The WTO filings and reports on which the district court relied to claim the Chinese government had taken contrary positions before that body (essentially accusing a sovereign government of lying) do not stand for the proposition that China imposed no legal obligation on vitamin C producers to coordinate on export pricing and output.  . .  . Rather, they only state that China had abandoned “restrictions on exports through non-automatic licensing or other means justified by specific product under the WTO Agreement or the Protocol,” “[n]on-automatic export licensing requirements under WTO agreement and accession,” and “export quotas and licenses[.]” . .  . .

None of them said that China had abandoned management of pricing in vitamin C exports, let alone that the Chinese regulatory regime had become non-compulsory. The Chinese government’s representations in both forums were perfectly consistent.

Finally, the U.S. Trade Representative and the WTO have found that the Chinese government continued to regulate export pricing on a variety of products subject to the same basic regulatory regime as vitamin C during the relevant time period, and that failure to comply was “subject to investigation leading to potential criminal and administrative penalties.”  . . . . This evidence further illustrates that the district court’s construction of Chinese law was erroneous. . . .

As discussed above, there is a true conflict between Chinese law and U.S. law in these circumstances. All Defendants were Chinese and the conduct took place entirely in China. Complaints about Chinese export policies could properly be addressed through diplomatic channels and/or the WTO’s processes. The purpose was not to harm Americans but to ease the transition of China’s vitamin C industry from central planning to a more market-oriented program and to prevent the harm to China’s trade relations that would result from dumping charges. The exercise of jurisdiction by the district court has already inflicted harm on U.S.- China relations. The court’s decision creates the prospect of Chinese firms being under conflicting conduct requirements. The U.S. and China are both members of the WTO and are subject to its rules on export restrictions. Simply put, every relevant substantial consideration favors comity abstention.

This case raises precisely the same set of concerns about the inappropriateness of the judicial branch treading on delicate foreign policy questions. The Chinese government chose to regulate its domestic vitamin C export industry in what it believed was the most effective manner within its system. Insofar as China’s sovereign policy decisions about how best to manage its economy conflict with the policies embodied in U.S. antitrust laws, that conflict should be addressed “through diplomatic channels,” and not through the “unnecessary irritant of a private antitrust action.”  . . .

For China’s economic regulations and enforcement practices “to be reexamined and perhaps condemned by [U.S.] courts . . .would very certainly imperil the amicable relations between [the U.S. and Chinese] governments and vex the peace of nations.” . . .Indeed, the U.S. and Chinese governments are currently engaged in ongoing discussions on issues involving Chinese regulation of its exports, and the U.S. has availed itself of WTO dispute settlement procedures against China based on the WTO’s rules on export restrictions. .  .. The U.S.’s active engagement in these avenues for resolving disputes between sovereign governments demonstrates that disputes involving China’s regulation of its own exports are foreign relations issues properly committed to the Executive Branch.  The U.S. judiciary should be loath to insert itself into such discussions.”

On April 14, 2014, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) filed its own Amicus Brief in support of the two Chinese companies.  In the attached Amicus Brief, MOFCOM VITAMIN C APPEAL BRIEF MOFCOM stated:

“The Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (“MOFCOM”) is a component of the central Chinese government and the highest administrative authority in China authorized to regulate trade between China and other countries, including all export commerce.  It is the equivalent in the Chinese governmental system of a cabinet-level department of the United States government.  MOFCOM formulates strategies, guidelines, and policies concerning domestic and foreign trade and international cooperation.  MOFCOM also drafts and enforces laws and regulations governing domestic and foreign trade, and regulates markets to achieve an integrated, competitive, and orderly market system.

MOFCOM has been actively involved in this litigation since 2006, when it filed an amicus brief in support of defendants’ motion to dismiss. That appearance was historic.  It marked the first time that any entity of the Government of China had appeared as an amicus, explained to the district court that MOFCOM had directed the defendants’ conduct, and endeavored to describe the varying regulatory mechanisms used to compel defendants’ compliance.

MOFCOM has a compelling interest in this appeal because the district court refused to defer to MOFCOM’s interpretation of Chinese law and announced its own contrary view of what Chinese law required of the defendants.  Moreover, the district court implied that MOFCOM’s interpretation was not just wrong, but intentionally false: “a post-hoc attempt to shield defendants’ conduct from antitrust scrutiny.”  That charge is profoundly disrespectful, and wholly unfounded.

MOFCOM files this brief to set straight the record about its regulatory and litigation conduct; to ensure that this Court understands the Chinese Government’s displeasure about the district court’s treatment of MOFCOM; and to urge reversal of the judgment below, which unfairly penalizes a Chinese company for complying with Chinese law. . .  .

The district court denied summary judgment.   It did not question the basic tenets of the foreign sovereign compulsion doctrine, but held on the basis of its independent assessment of Chinese law, and in direct contradiction to MOFCOM’s interpretation, that Chinese law “did not compel defendants’ conduct.”  . . .  The district court acknowledged that both the Supreme Court and the Second Circuit have held that a foreign government’s statement concerning the meaning of its own law is “‘conclusive’” of that law’s meaning. .  . .

The district court then announced it would “decline to defer to [MOFCOM’s] interpretation of Chinese law,” . . . citing this Court’s statement that “[w]here a choice between two interpretations of ambiguous foreign law rests finely balanced, the support of a foreign sovereign for one interpretation furnishes legitimate assistance.” . . .   The district court appeared to draw from this that deference is unwarranted if a foreign law question is not “finely balanced,” and outlined its grounds for refusing to defer in this case. . . .   The district court first said that the 2009 statement was “particularly undeserving of deference” because it did not “cite to any [specific] sources to support its broad assertions about the regulatory system governing vitamin C exports,” contained “ambiguous terms and phrases,” and did not “distinguish between” the 1997 and 2002 export regulatory regimes. . . . The district court conceded, however, that MOFCOM’s amicus brief, on which the 2009 statement expressly relied, “attempted to explain the regulatory system governing vitamin C exports by citing to, and discussing, specific governmental directives and Chamber documents.” . . .

The district court next pointed to statements China had made to the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) indicating that “‘export administration … of vitamin C’” ceased on January 1, 2002. It asserted that this statement “appear[ed] to contradict [MOFCOM’s] position in the instant litigation,” and deemed this a “further reason not to defer.” . . .

Third, the district court stated that “more careful scrutiny of a foreign government’s statement is warranted” when “the alleged compulsion is in the defendants’ own self-interest.” . . . . Finally, the district court opined that “the factual record contradicts [MOFCOM’s] position.” . . .

Having thus determined that it would not defer to MOFCOM’s interpretation of Chinese law, the district court conducted an independent review of Chinese law, including documents the court described as “traditional sources of foreign law.” . . . . The district court at points suggested it would rely on the “plain language” of these documents, . . ., but its analysis also contained a series of inferences about how to interpret Chinese legal texts.  None of those inferences was premised, at least expressly, on any principle of Chinese law. . . .

The district court erred by disregarding MOFCOM’s formal statements of Chinese law, conducting an independent examination of that law based on “plain language” of translated texts and ungrounded assumptions about how to interpret Chinese law, and declaring that MOFCOM’s interpretation of Chinese law was exactly backwards.  The court’s erroneous conclusions were not supported by any determination of any Chinese government official, Chinese court, or Chinese scholar, and yet exposed Chinese companies to massive class-action antitrust liability for conduct occurring solely within China.  Several companies yielded to that in terrorem pressure and settled. The remaining defendants face a nine-figure judgment that should be vacated for at least three reasons.

First, the district court failed to follow Supreme Court precedent holding that a foreign government’s formal statements about the interpretation of its own law are “conclusive” in American courts.

Second, the district court overlooked comity concerns that at a minimum demand that “conclusive” deference to such statements must be given when foreign sovereign compulsion is asserted as a defense in a private antitrust suit. The foreign sovereign compulsion doctrine owes its very existence to the recognition that significant questions of international law and comity would arise if U.S. courts allowed American law to override a foreign sovereign’s contrary command about how to organize its own domestic commerce. When a foreign sovereign appears in such a case to say what it demanded of a defendant, it should not be open to a district court to deny the command was given.

Third, the district court expressly “decline[d] to defer to [MOFCOM’s] interpretation of Chinese law.”  Instead, the district court simply resolved all questions as it saw fit, applying self-made interpretive canons not grounded in Chinese law, and as such reached a conclusion that is contrary to Chinese law.

The district court’s approach and result have deeply troubled the Chinese government, which has sent a diplomatic note concerning this case to the U.S. State Department.  This Court should reverse, and in so doing reaffirm that principles of international comity require district courts to treat official statements of a foreign government with a high degree of deference and respect, and with due caution about the court’s ability to determine accurately the law of an unfamiliar legal system. . . .

The district court asserted that China’s statements to the WTO that it had given up “‘export administration … of vitamin C’ as of January 1, 2002,” “appear to contradict” MOFCOM’s position that Chinese law continued after that date to require industry coordination of export price and quantity. . . .   That conclusion, however, reflects a basic misunderstanding of the technical trade-policy context in which those statements were made.

The statements cited by the district court relate to a “transitional review” in which China participated following its 2001 accession to the WTO.  Each statement provides in part that “on 1 January 2002, China gave up export administration” of certain goods, including “vitamin C.” But in context—and as indicated by the headings that preceded them—these statements indicated only that China abandoned “restrictions on exports through non-automatic licensing” on that date, and not that China eliminated every existing export restriction in one stroke.

A third document cited by the district court unambiguously demonstrates that this more confined reading is precisely what China intended.  That document . . . is a report by the WTO Secretariat summarizing its “trade policy review” with respect to China.  Citing one of the two “export administration” statements described above, the WTO Secretariat explained that “[o]n 1 January 2002, China abolished export quotas and licenses for … Vitamin C.”   Thus, the WTO Secretariat expressly interpreted China’s earlier “export administration” statements to relate to abolition of “export quotas and licenses for … Vitamin C,” but not all other forms of export regulation.

The United States government adopted exactly this same construction in a 2009 WTO dispute resolution proceeding, alleging (as China later acknowledged), that China had maintained “a system that prevents exportation unless the seller meets or exceeds the minimum export price.”  In other words, the United States adopted exactly the same position in WTO dispute settlement proceedings that MOFCOM has urged in this case: after 2002, China was still requiring exporters to abide by a price-setting regime.  China’s statements to the WTO, accordingly, did . . .not provide any basis for the district court to refuse to accord MOFCOM deference. . . .

MOFCOM grants that a district court that faces a contested question of foreign law with no aid from a foreign government often will have no choice but to grasp the nettle and do its best. But here, the district court’s confusion was self-inflicted.  MOFCOM offered an authoritative view of Chinese law.  The district court erroneously refused that assistance and then, predictably, floundered in its attempt to discern the operation of a complex foreign regulatory system.  The district court instead should have deferred, as it unquestionably would have been required to do had a U.S. regulator presented an analogous statement in a brief. . . . Its failure to do so, or at a minimum to apply Chinese legal principles to its independent analysis, requires reversal.”

US JUDGE REFUSES TO DISMISS US ANTITRUST CASE AGAINST CHINESE SOLAR COMPANIES

On March 31, 2014, Judge Armstrong of the California Federal District Court rejected the Chinese solar companies’ motion to dismiss The Solyndra Residual Trust vs. Suntech Power Holdings, Suntech America, Trina Solar Limited, Trina US, Yingli Green Energy Holding Ltd, Yingli Green Energy Americas Inc (“Solyndra v. Suntech”) antitrust case.  In the attached decision, Solyndra order denying motion to dismiss Judge Armstrong stated:

“According to Plaintiff, the alleged price fixing scheme which led to the demise of Solyndra and numerous other American solar panel manufacturers was perpetrated by Suntech, Trina and Yingli (all of which are publicly-traded on the New York Stock Exchange), and their respective American alter egos, Suntech America, Trina U.S. and Yingli Americas. . . . Defendants are members of the China New Energy Chamber of Commerce (“China New Energy”), a trade association which has the stated purpose of promoting “collaboration” amongst its members. . . . Through China New Energy, Defendants were able to meet regularly and develop a coordinated pricing and output strategy aimed at dominating the United States solar panel market. . . .

Defendants, desiring to dominate the United States market for solar panels, became concerned with the innovation presented by Solyndra’s technology. . . .  To that end, Defendants allegedly formed a conspiracy to “dump” (i.e., to price their panels below cost) their solar panels in the United States market.  . . To that end, as demand for solar panels was rising, Defendants acted contrary to “rational economic rules” by “slash[ing] their prices in an effort to aggressively capture market share and drive competition from the marketplace.” . . .

Defendants also are alleged to have used China New Energy to fix prices at artificially low rates. . .  . Each year since founding in 2006, China New Energy has held an International Forum (“Forum”), at which the chairs of Suntech, Trina and Yingli have been featured speakers. . . . Defendants allegedly used China New Energy’s annual International Forum as a means of meeting and communicating with one another and reach agreements to fix and lower prices.  . . . After each Forum, prices charged by each of the Defendants fell precipitously. . . .For example, after meeting during the second Forum which held on December 11-12, 2007, Defendants lowered their prices by 40%.  . . . This pricing behavior “shocked” even seasoned industry analysts, who had predicted price reductions of only 5% per year.  . .

As prices for Chinese solar panels in the United States plummeted, American solar manufacturers could not keep pace.  .  . Since 2010, “at least twelve domestic U.S. manufacturers have shut down plants, declared bankruptcy, or staged significant layoffs.” . . .

In contrast, Defendants now occupy a dominant position in the American solar panel market, and by the end of 2011, controlled 65% of the rooftop solar market. . . . Correspondingly, Defendants’ net revenues soared, with Suntech’s net revenue alone increasing to $3.1 billion in 2011 from $1.6 billion in 2009. . . .

Here, the pleadings specifically allege facts that are more than sufficient to suggest that Defendants reached an agreement to fix prices and flood the American market with their below cost Chinese-made panels for the purpose of stifling competition. The FAC alleges that Defendants effectively controlled their industry trade organization, China New Energy, and held meetings at its annual Forums to coordinate their market strategy including the coordinated, drastic lowering of prices to dominate the American market for solar panels. After each Forum held between 2007 and 2010, Defendants’ prices uniformly fell precipitously. These uniform price decreases were completely unanticipated within the industry, given that it was economically irrational to slash prices so significantly in the face of rising demand. . . . . Allegedly as a result of Defendants’ predatory and collusive conduct, Solyndra and a host of other American competitors went out of business, while Defendants correspondingly increased their sales and market share in the United States. . . .

Construing these allegations in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court finds that they are sufficient to present a plausible claim that Defendants formed an agreement to restrain trade.”

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

Commentators have observed that governments are increasingly using antitrust and other regulatory powers for broader political and economic purposes and following the Commerce Department’s lead, the Chinese government is doing the same.

On January 28, 2014, there was a report out of China that Qualcomm is facing a record antitrust fine of $1 billion in an antitrust case from China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

In the US National Trade Estimate report, its annual reports on trade barriers, released on March 31, 2014, 2014 NTE Report on FTB the USTR expressed concerned about the deteriorating conditions for US companies operating in or hoping to export to China across a broad range of sectors, due to selective anti-monopoly law enforcement.  With regards to stepped-up enforcement of anti-monopoly laws by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the USTR stated in its March 31st report:

“Anti-Monopoly Law

The Chinese government’s interventionist policies and practices and the large role of SOEs in China’s economy have created some uncertainty regarding how the Anti-Monopoly Law will be applied. One provision in the Anti-Monopoly Law protects the lawful operations of SOEs and government monopolies in industries deemed nationally important. To date, China has enforced the Anti-Monopoly Law against SOEs, but concerns remain that enforcement against SOEs will be more limited.

In 2013, NDRC increased its enforcement activity noticeably, particularly against foreign enterprises. In addition, U.S. industry has expressed concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in NDRC’s investigative processes, including NDRC pressure to “cooperate” in the face of unspecified allegations or face steep fines. U.S. industry also has reported pressure from NDRC against seeking outside counsel, in particular international counsel, or having counsel present at meetings.”

EXPLOSIVE GROWTH IN CHINESE ANTITRUST CASES

A recent report by John Yong Ren, a well-known Chinese antitrust lawyer, states that there was an explosive growth in antitrust cases under China’s anti-monopoly law in 2013, with even more cases coming in 2014.  T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of March 2014

It was reported that both the Justice Department and now the NDRC have started investigations of Auto Parts and are targeting capacitor manufacturers.

SECURITIES

On March 11, 2014, in the attached complaint, AGFEED COMPLAINT the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed suit against Agfeed Industries, Junhong Xiong, Selina Jin, Songyan Li, Shaobo Ouyang, Edward J. Pazdro and K. Ivan Gothner for accounting fraud.  The SEC sued bankrupt AgFeed Industries Inc. and former principals of the company over an alleged accounting fraud scheme, in which revenues were inflated by $239 million in order to boost the industrial hog producer’s stock price.

Four executives at the China-based but U.S.-traded company purportedly used a variety of methods to inflate revenue from 2008 through 2011, such as faking invoices for sales of feed and nonexistent hogs, which executives later tried to cover up by claiming the bogus hogs had died.

According to Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, “AgFeed’s accounting misdeeds started in China, and U.S. executives failed to properly investigate and disclose them to investors.  This is a cautionary tale of what happens when an audit committee chair fails to perform his gatekeeper function in the face of massive red flags.”

According to the SEC the fraud started in China and U.S. management eventually got wise to the fraud, which included keeping two sets of books: one for insiders with accurate information, and one with inflated figures shown to outside auditors. But instead of intervening, US management moved to spin off the company’s feed division and reported nothing about the incident to law enforcement or investors.

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT—EXTRADITION OF FOREIGN NATIONALS TO FACE US JUSTICE

On April 2, 2014, the US Government indicated six foreign nationals in an alleged conspiracy to bribe Indian officials to approve a $500 million titanium mining project.

Dmitry Firtash, identified by prosecutors as the leader of the alleged conspiracy, co-owns RosUkrEnergo with the Russian gas company Gazprom, and controls international conglomerate Group DF that owns several mining companies.

Firtash was arrested in Vienna on March 12 and later released on about $174 million bail.  Prosecutors are seeking forfeitures of about $10.6 million from the defendants.

Prosecutors additionally want Firtash to forfeit his interests in Group DF and its assets, including more than 150 companies in the British Virgin Islands, Switzerland and Cyprus.  The foreign nationals face up to 20 years in prison for the most serious charges and up to a million dollars in fines.

In announcing the indictment in the attached statement, FOREIGN INDIVIDUALS PROSECUTED UNDER FCPA the Justice Department stated:

“Fighting global corruption is part of the fabric of the Department of Justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil. “The charges against six foreign nationals announced today send the unmistakable message that we will root out and attack foreign bribery and bring to justice those who improperly influence foreign officials, wherever we find them.”

“Criminal conspiracies that extend beyond our borders are not beyond our reach,” said U.S. Attorney Fardon. “We will use all of the tools and resources available to us to ensure the integrity of global business transactions that involve U.S. commerce.”

“This case is another example of the FBI’s willingness to aggressively investigate corrupt conduct around the globe” said Special Agent in Charge Holley. “With the assistance of our law enforcement partners, both foreign and domestic, we will continue to pursue those who allegedly bribe foreign officials in return for lucrative business contracts.”

Tom Gorman, a Dorsey partner in our Washington DC office, who formerly worked in the SEC enforcement division, has described this indictment as follows:

“FCPA enforcement officials have repeatedly emphasized that they intend to focus on individuals as an effective means of halting possible violations. A case unsealed yesterday underscores this point.”

See his entire article on his blog at http://www.secactions.com/fcpa-a-focus-on-individuals/

SEC GETS $33 MILLION DOLLAR DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST CHINESE ELECTRONICS COMPANY AND EMPLOYEES

On March 10, 2014, in SEC v. China Intelligent Lighting & Electronics Inc. et al, a New York Federal Judge issued the attached default judgments NDEF IDEF in favor of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and against two Chinese electronic companies accused of misleading investors about the use of money from public offerings, ordering the companies to pay a total of almost $33 million.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On March 27, 2014, the SEC filed suit against World Capital Market Inc, WCM777 Inc. WCM777 Ltd. d/b/a WCM777 Enterprises and Ming Xu a/k/a Phil Ming Xu and Kingdom Capital Market, Manna Holding Group, Manna Source International, WCM Resources, Aeon Operating and PMX Jewels for securities fraud.  As described in the attached complaint SEC WORLD CAPITAL MARKETS,

“This matter involves an ongoing pyramid scheme, Ponzi scheme, and misappropriation of investor funds through an unregistered securities offering that targets members of the Asian-American and Hispanic-American communities, as well as foreign investors. Beginning around March 2013 and continuing to the present, operating under the offering name “WCM777,” Defendants have collected over $65 million from investors in the United States and abroad.  Of that amount, over $28 million was deposited into bank accounts in the United States between March and October 2013.  After October 2013, Defendants deposited investor funds into a bank account in Hong Kong.”

Apparently, the investors were not only in the US, but also in China and Hong Kong.

In the attached complaint, a Brad Berkowitz has filed a class action securities case against Sino Gas and several Chinese individuals and companies.  SINO GAS

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

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