US CHINA TRADE WAR — SECTION 301 NEGOTIATIONS, NOT JUST TRUMP, ASIA SOCIETY REPORT, HUAWEI INDICTMENTS, HONG KONG EXTRADITION, CHINA’S LONG TERM ECONOMIC PROBLEMS, GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN, QUARTZ SURFACE PRODUCTS

TRADE IS A TWO-WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 20, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE – FEBRUARY 21, 2019

Dear Friends,

At the outset of this newsletter, I want to address one complaint.  Some have criticized my blog for being too tough on China.  The objective of this blog post is not to be tough on China, but to describe the actual US China trade relations as it is.  Sounding happy about the US China trade relationship will not solve the problems between the US and China in the trade area.

In reality, the US and China are going through a very tough situation right now with 10 to 25% tariffs on $250 billion in imports from China. The trade problem has risen to a crisis situation.  President Xi in his recent letter to President Trump at the end of January emphasized the importance of this specific time in US China relations.  President Xi is correct.  This is a critical time for US China trade relations but as explained below, it is not just President Donald Trump.  Both the US and China need to settle this trade dispute.

More importantly, to illustrate the actual situation, I quote from actual government documents and news reports, which are attached to this blog. I want readers to understand the actual trade situation between the US and China not because I Bill Perry am describing it that way, but because the US government or credible news reports are describing the actual situation that way.

US China trade problems can only be solved if both the US and Chinese government understand the actual issues.  My job as a US lawyer is to predict the future and warn my clients and the readers of this blog post both in the United States and China about upcoming problems so the problems can be dealt with and hopefully settled.  Like a navigator on a boat my job is to spot the rocks and hazards before the boat hits an unexpected rock and sinks.

With regards to this specific blog post, I wanted to write it after the couple of rounds of talks in Washington DC to give my take on the situation.  From the White House Statement and even the Chinese statement from Xinhua, it is very clear that the key issues discussed in the trade talks are: Forced Technology Transfer, IP Theft and Enforcement of any trade agreement.  Trump and USTR Robert Lighthizer are not going to settle for an agreement with broad meaningless promises from the Chinese government, which are not kept.  The US wants tangible results and promises that can be enforced.

In the February 5th State of the Union speech, one of the few times President Trump received bipartisan applause from both the Republican and Democratic Congressmen and Senators was when he mentioned that he was negotiating a tough trade deal with China.

The most important point to understand is that US China Trade problem is not just Donald Trump.  As stated before, Trump may be the spark, but its China’s changing economic and political policies that are the gunpowder.  This is clearly illustrated by the recent Asia Society Task Force report “Course Correction: Toward An Effective and Sustainable China Policy” by very famous China hands and career diplomats that US China relationship has reached an inflexion/turning point and has to change.

As described more below, the Asia Society report is echoed by a report from John Garnaut of Australia, who says that President Xi Jinping and his clique have decided to move China back to the time of Mao and Stalin.

Another key point is the December 1st arrest of Huawei CEO, Ms. Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the Huawei founder, in Vancouver, Canada based on an extradition warrant from the United States for bank fraud.  The key point is that the arrest of the Huawei CFO was not a topic of conversation during the first rounds of negotiations.  In the Fourth Round of negotiations in Beijing, the Chinese government suggested a separate round of negotiations solely on the Huawei issue but so far the US has not accepted the offer. I suspect that Trump will be reluctant to intervene.

The ZTE situation was very different from the current Huawei situation.  ZTE was still at the administrative level before the Commerce Department.  In contrast, criminal indictments have been issued in two different Federal Courts, one in Seattle with regards to the T-Mobile theft of intellectual property and the second indictment in the Eastern New York for bank fraud against Ms. Meng.

Criminal indictments against Huawei have raised these issues up to a much higher rule of law issue.  That makes it more difficult for President Trump to intervene.  As President, Trump controls the Executive Branch of the US Government, including the Commerce Department, but President Trump does not directly control the Courts, which is the Judicial Branch of the US Government.

One key point of the Huawei situation is the idea in China that they can apply the Chinese “way” to doing business internationally.  The numerous indictments against Chinese companies and the enforcement of extradition requests, not only in Canada, but also in Hong Kong, indicate that the Chinese way is not going to work internationally.  If Chinese executives can be arrested in Hong Kong, that clearly illustrates the real vulnerability of Chinese corporate officials, who do not follow international rules, especially if the Chinese company is a multinational, such as Huawei.

It is also very clear that China’s economy is still hurting.  Even if China is able to get a trade deal with US, that will not stop the dramatic economic fall in the Chinese economy.  The Chinese government has decided to attack private industry and return to Statism.  That policy is hurting China very badly.

Another issue complicating the negotiations is the recent Government shut down, which has caused the deadlines in all ongoing trade cases to be pushed up 40 days at Commerce and 35 days at the ITC.

My firm is also representing a number of US importers and fabricators in the Quartz Surface Products Antidumping and Countervailing Duty case.  As part of that effort, we are trying to persuade US fabricating companies and importers to fill out the questionnaires from the US International Trade Commission’s (“ITC”) so that their voices will be heard.  Have uploaded blank copies of those questionnaires to this blog below.

One big issue in the Quartz decision is the Commerce Department’s critical circumstances determination, which has caused Customs to reach back and try to get cash deposits of millions of dollars in imports prior to the Preliminary Determination.  Such a Customs action could well drive 100s if not 1,000s of US importers when the ITC in all probability will reach a negative critical circumstances determination as it does in close to 90% of the cases. This action raises the question whether the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty laws are truly just remedial statutes.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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CORE ISSUE OF THE 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA IS IP THEFT, FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, AND ENFORCEMENT

The section 301 case started in the spring of 2018.  The core of the complaint is China’s aggressive campaign to steal intellectual property (“IP”)  from US and other foreign companies.  See attached Full Section 301 Report USTR FULL 301 REPORT CHINA TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER and Interim Report USTR FULLL 301 Report Update.  See more details below.

In the summer of 2018, the US first imposed 25% tariffs on $15 billion in imports from China.  China retaliated against US exports of agricultural and other products, including Soybeans

The US then in September imposed 25% tariffs on second $35 billion in imports from China in response to China retaliation.  China retaliated again.

US then imposed 10% tariffs on $200 billion in imports from China with a trigger of January 1, 2019 for tariffs to go to 25%.   See the Federal Register notices on my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, for more details.

It should be noted that the tariffs on the first $50 billion in imports is to offset the harm caused to the United States and US companies because of the IP Theft and Forced Technology Transfer.  The tariffs on the $200 billion are in direct response to the Chinese government’s decision to retaliate against the US tariffs.

President Trump’s and USTR Lighthizer’s firm belief is that because of a US trade deficit and a Chinese trade surplus of $350 billion and total Chinese exports of $500 billion plus, the US could weather a trade war much better than China.

China’s response to the Section 301 case was “deny, deny, deny” and that the US was simply trying to contain China.  The Chinese Government’s decision to retaliate and refuse to deal with the US trade complaints led to the US escalation of the trade war to cover $250 billion in imports from China.

The full 301 report started and makes it clear that two key issues are IP Theft and Forced Technology transfer.  The attached 301 Federal Register notice starting the Section 301 case, FED REG PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION 301 CHINA, states:

First, the Chinese government reportedly uses a variety of tools, including opaque and discretionary administrative approval processes, joint venture requirements, foreign equity limitations, procurements, and other mechanisms to regulate or intervene in U.S. companies’ operations in China in order to require or pressure the transfer of technologies and intellectual property to Chinese companies. . . .

Fourth, the investigation will consider whether the Chinese government is conducting or supporting unauthorized intrusions into U.S. commercial computer networks or cyber- enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or confidential business information, and whether this conduct harms U.S. companies or provides competitive advantages to Chinese companies or commercial sectors.

Enforcement of any agreement with China is also a big issue. At the beginning of the Section 301 Report, USTR FULL 301 REPORT CHINA TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, it lists ten IP Agreements the Chinese government signed with the United States from 2010 to 2016, which the Chinese government has ignored.  The last two agreement are the recent 2016 agreements between President Xi and President Obama to not require the transfer of technology as a precondition of doing business in China and to stop cyberhacking for commercial gain.  According to the USTR, the Chinese government ignored both Agreements.  See page 8 of the USTR 301 report.  All those agreements between the US and China were breached.

See statement by former USTR Charlene Barshefsky below that the Chinese government’s failure to follow the WTO agreements signed in the early 2,000s means that China should actual follow the Agreements or leave the WTO.  The Chinese government has run out of time.

SECTION 301 PROCEDURES

As to the procedures in the Section 301 case, please see my October 1, 2018 blog post for a detailed explanation of the 301 case, three outstanding lists and the issue of product exclusion requests.  The three lists of tariffs cover $250 billion in imports from China.

The deadlines to file an exclusion request for the first $50 billion have past.  Moreover, USTR Lighthizer has stated that there will no exclusion requests for the $200 billion until there is an outcome of the negotiations with the Chinese government.  If the negotiations go well, all or some of the 301 tariffs could be lifted so there will be no need for exclusion requests.  If the duties remain in place, then the USTR will have an exclusion process.

NEGOTIATIONS START AND THE FOURTH ROUND IS PRESENTLY ONGOING IN WASHINGTON DC

Because of the enormous pressure on the Chinese economy, as described more below, in November the Chinese government pushed for a meeting between President Xi and President Trump.  On December 1st, at a meeting in Buenos Aries at G-20, President Xi made a long presentation leading President Trump and USTR Lighthizer to believe that a structural deal could be struck with China regarding IP theft and forced technology transfer.  That discussion resulted in the US postponing the increase in the 10% tariffs on $200 billion until March 1st.

See the attached United States Trade Representative notice setting a hard date of March 2nd for US China Trade Deal, MARCH 2 USTR NOTICE PUBLISHED.  If there is no deal by March 1st, the tariffs on $200 billion in imports automatically could go from 10% to 25%.

But there are conflicting views as to whether the follow up negotiations in four rounds, first with Deputy USTR Jeffry Gerrish in Beijing and then in Washington DC with USTR Lighthizer, followed by additional negotiations in Beijing and the fourth round now in Washington DC indicated a Chinese government’s willingness to actually deal with IP Theft and Forced Technology Transfer issues and make any “structural” agreement truly enforceable.

A real question is what is meant by the word “structural”?  Again, the core issues in the Section 301 deal are IP Theft, Forced Technology Transfer and cyber hacking.  If the US and Chinese governments consider IP Theft and Forced Technology Transfer to be “structural’ issues, it appears that there is no deal yet in these areas.

There are reports in the Press that trying to persuade the Chinese government to compromise on the structural issues has been like “pulling teeth”.  But if the Chinese government were not willing to compromise on IP Theft and Forced Technology Transfer, in all probability the negotiations would have already ended.

On January 31, 2019, however, after the second round of negotiations in Washington DC, The White House issued the attached statement, WHITE HOUSE STATEMENT, as follows:

“The talks covered a wide range of issues, including: (1) the ways in which United States companies are pressured to transfer technology to Chinese companies; (2) the need for stronger protection and enforcement of intellectual property rights in China; (3) the numerous tariff and non-tariff barriers faced by United States companies in China; (4) the harm resulting from China’s cyber-theft of United States commercial property; (5) how market-distorting forces, including subsidies and state-owned enterprises, can lead to excess capacity; (6) the need to remove market barriers and tariffs that limit United States sales of manufactured goods, services, and agriculture to China; and (7) the role of currencies in the United States–China trading relationship. The two sides also discussed the need to reduce the enormous and growing trade deficit that the United States has with China. The purchase of United States products by China from our farmers, ranchers, manufacturers, and businesses is a critical part of the negotiations.

The two sides showed a helpful willingness to engage on all major issues, and the negotiating sessions featured productive and technical discussions on how to resolve our differences. The United States is particularly focused on reaching meaningful commitments on structural issues and deficit reduction. Both parties have agreed that any resolution will be fully enforceable.”

This White House Statement indicates that the structural issues of IP Theft, Forced Technology Transfer and enforcement were indeed the subject of the first two negotiation rounds.

At the same time in late January, the Chinese Government’s mouthpiece, Xinhua, stated in the attached article, XINHUA STATEMENT TRADE TALKS, as follows regarding the Washington DC negotiations:

“Liu, also a member of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party of China Central Committee and chief of the Chinese side of the China-U.S. comprehensive economic dialogue, led the Chinese delegation for the two-day trade talks that concluded on Thursday in Washington.

Liu delivered a message from Chinese President Xi Jinping to Trump, in which Xi pointed out that China-U.S. relations are at a critical stage.

Xi said when he and Trump met in Argentina last December, the two heads of state agreed to jointly advance the China-U.S. relationship featuring coordination, cooperation and stability.

“According to the consensus we have reached, economic teams from both sides have since conducted intensive negotiations and achieved positive progress,” said Xi. . . .

On the China-U.S. trade talks, the Chinese vice premier said that teams from both sides have spared no time in implementing the important consensus between the two heads of state.

He noted that during the latest round of talks, the two sides held candid, specific and constructive discussions about issues of common concern, which included trade balance, technology transfer, protection of intellectual property rights and a two-way enforcement mechanism, as well as other issues of concern to the Chinese side.”

Note that the Chinese side has acknowledged the importance of the IP theft, Forced Technology Transfer and enforcement issues.  Note also that at the meeting in the Second Round between Trump and Liu He at the White House at the end of January, USTR Lighthizer stated that the name of the game is “enforcement, enforcement, enforcement”, which would counter the original Chinese Government strategy of “deny, deny, deny”.

After the third round of negotiations in Beijing, there were newspaper accounts that it was like “pulling teeth” to get the Chinese government to give in on structural issues, including Forced Technology Transfer.  But there was also an agreement that any deal would come forth in a Memorandum of Understanding and that there would be a framework agreement between China and the US.  The big stumbling block seems to be Forced Technology Transfer.

Most experts, including Senator Rob Portman, expect there to be an interim agreement of Understanding by March 1st, which would allow Trump to state that the duties at least will not be raised to 25% as a more comprehensive agreement is further negotiated.

Trump has stated several times that the March 1st deadline could slide depending upon the negotiations and that a face to face, Trump/Xi meeting could happen soon.  In talking to many trade experts, the universal belief is that the US government will punt.  Have a short Memorandum of Understanding as the negotiations continue.

Some Chinese and other commentators believe that Trump will back down in the Xi and Trump meeting.  I do not think so.  Trump cannot back down on the IP issues, which are the core of the 301 case.

OTHER COUNTRIES AGREE WITH TRUMP ON US CHINA TRADE DISPUTE

Although the Chinese government and observers may think that the trade war is only coming from Trump and the United States, many other countries have jumped on US band wagon with regards to IP Theft and Forced Technology Transfer by China.  The countries include EC, Canada, Australia, Japan, South Korea and many other countries, because China has stolen their IP too.

Through its Made in China Program the Chinese government has focused on acquiring foreign technology/intellectual property by any means necessary from many different countries, not just the United States.

.        The technology for high speed trains was stolen from Germany and Japan.

.        Semiconductor technology was stolen from Australia and the US.

In fact, the systematic attacks on their IP have caused many companies to look at moving production out of China to other countries.

As described below, there have been aggressive attacks on US and foreign intellectual property by such companies as Huawei, which has bonus programs for employees to encourage theft of IP

In the United States, these aggressive attacks on IP have led to a new China initiative at the Justice Department and criminal prosecutions of Chinese companies and Chinese nationals for the theft of intellectual property.  These Justice Department criminal cases have led to the extradition of various Chinese nationals to face prison time in the United States.

Some commentators have suggested that the US dropped the ball by not going the WTO Route.  The USTR issued the attached report in February 2019, USTR REPORT WTO CHINA, stating, in effect, that using the WTO to deal with China has not worked.

Moreover, there were never multilateral negotiations with China, i.e. China at a one table with a number of different countries.  In fact, we are seeing a similar process to the WTO Agreement with China, which started first with the bilateral negotiations and the US China WTO Agreement.  That US WTO Agreement was followed up with agreements between China and many other countries.  In other words, any US China 301 Agreement will probably be a blueprint for future bilateral negotiations and result in similar bilateral agreements negotiated between China and other countries to stop international IP theft and forced technology transfer.

BEING TOUGH ON CHINA IS A BIPARTISAN REPUBLICAN DEMOCRAT ISSUE

Contrary to many commentators in China and elsewhere, the tough position against China in these trade negotiations is not just President Donald Trump.  The Chinese government should not expect a change in the tough US position on China trade policy if there is a change in US government. US China Trade Policy is not just a Republican issue.  It is bipartisan issue.  Traditionally, the Democratic party is much more protectionist than the Republican party, because the Democratic party is supported by the labor unions.

In the 2019 State of Union, President Trump spoke of a need for a strong US trade response against China and a strong structural trade agreement with China because of decades of IP theft.  This point provoked a bipartisan standing ovation from Republicans and Democrats.  Democrats hate Trump, but they agree completely on a tough response to China.  See the following video of the State of the Union at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OSy9NcPRSGs.

Cyber hacking is another example where the Chinese government made an agreement with the United States and President Obama and then proceeded to ignore it, break the agreement and continue aggressive cyber hacking to steal US IP.  In fact, many trade experts believe that the Chinese government believed that President Obama could be played.

Based on quotes from numerous sources, the Chinese government has succeeded in uniting both ends of the political spectrum, Democrats and Republicans, against China.  This trade situation is not going to change any time soon no matter what party is in power.

THE ASIA SOCIETY REPORT ON CHINA SUPPORTS THE BIPARTISAN TOUGH US TRADE POLICY AGAINST CHINA

Many Chinese and US commentators may believe that the trade fight with China is just Trump.  That simply is not true.

In February 2019, the Asia Society published the attached report entitled “Course Correction: Toward An Effective and Sustainable China Policy”, ASIA SOCIETY REPORT COURSE CORRECTION. The authors of the report are some of the most famous “China” hands in the United States, including Orville Schell, who has written dozens of books on China, former USTR Charlene Barshefsky, who negotiated the US China WTO Agreement, and Winston Lord, the Ambassador to China under Ronald Reagan and later the Assistant Secretary of State for East Asia under President Bill Clinton.  These are “old friends” of China.

Many of the members of the Task Force writing the Report speak fluent Chinese and have held very high positions in the US government dealing with China in Democratic and Republican Administrations.  These experts believe that the United States and China are at a true “inflexion”/turning point.  When “old China friends” are stating that the Chinese government needs to beware, it should be careful of the situation.

The report is very, very tough against China stating in part:

“The United States and China are on a collision course. The foundations of goodwill that took decades to build are rapidly breaking down. Many American opinion makers are starting to see China as a rising power seeking to unfairly undercut America’s economic prosperity, threaten its security, and challenge its values, while their Chinese counterparts are starting to see the United States as a declining power seeking to prolong its dominance by unfairly containing China’s rise. Beijing’s recent policies under Xi Jinping’s leadership are primarily driving this negative dynamic, so the Trump administration is right to counter those Chinese actions that defy norms  of fair economic competition, abrogate international law, and violate fundamental principles of reciprocity. The Trump administration is justified in pushing back harder against China’s actions, but pushback alone isn’t a strategy. It must be accompanied by the articulation of specific goals and how they can be achieved. . . .

The Report goes on to criticize the Trump policy of using tariffs to get China’s attention, but then says:

As the Trump administration stands up to China, it must also clearly express a willingness to pursue negotiated solutions by spelling out specific steps that could restore equity and stability to the relationship. Otherwise, the United States risks an irreparable, and possibly avoidable, rupture in this crucially important bilateral relationship. To avoid such a breakdown, the United States and China should seek negotiated solutions to priority issues whenever possible and erect prudent guardrails—including the appointment of specially designated officials—to keep the relationship from running further off the tracks. An adversarial United States-China relationship is in no one’s interest. More responsible statecraft is required both to protect American interests and to increase the chances of avoiding that no-win outcome.

At the same time, China’s increasingly unfair business practices have generated growing international criticism, especially from the very businesspeople who have traditionally been most enthusiastic in their support   of engagement with China. One of their most serious concerns is the way Beijing has ramped up its massive state drive to dominate the technologies of the future, both at home and abroad. This has included not just legitimate forms of Chinese innovation and investment, but also the acquisition of foreign technology through illegitimate means such as cyber theft, intellectual property violation, and forced technology transfer. As market reforms stalled or were reversed and the Chinese state’s role in the economy has grown, it has become increasingly clear that China is no longer converging with global norms of fair market competition but is in fact steadily diverging from them.

Xi Jinping’s revival of personalistic autocratic rule, including the scrapping of presidential term limits and his refusal to adhere to precedent for the peaceful turnover of political power for top leadership positions, makes China a less predictable and trustworthy partner and accentuates the political and values system gap that makes finding common ground more difficult. The Chinese Communist Party has tightened its control over information and society. It enforces ideological orthodoxy, demands political loyalty, and screens out foreign ideas, particularly in education and the media. Moreover, by arresting rights lawyers, incarcerating and indoctrinating Muslim minorities in the Xinjiang region, and repressing independent Christian congregations throughout the country, the regime has attracted increased international opprobrium as a human rights violator and set itself more explicitly in opposition to liberal values. . . .

This new dynamic that emanates from Beijing has precipitated a deep questioning—even among those of us who have spent our professional careers seeking productive and stable U.S.-China ties—about the long-term prospects of the bilateral relationship. We view this current period as unprecedented in the past forty years of U.S.-China relations. In the past, good sense usually prevailed and American and Chinese policymakers and scholars always managed to overcome severe bilateral strains triggered by specific incidents. We saw such a recovery even after the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, as well as after the 1995-96 Taiwan Strait crisis, the 1999 accidental bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, and the 2001 collision between a U.S. surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter jet. By contrast, the current downturn in relations is deeper and more systemic in scope. What is more, it is occurring at a time when the U.S. and China’s economic and military capabilities have become more evenly matched, making the dangers of overt conflict far greater. . . .

Unfortunately, by the midpoint of the Trump administration’s first term, the negative trends in Chinese behavior that were highlighted in our earlier report have only grown more pronounced and worrisome. If the three most harmful trends identified below are now to be effectively addressed, a more robust and proactive U.S. policy toward China is required.

(1)           China’s pursuit of a mercantilist high-tech import-substitution industrial policy

 The Chinese state ramped up its clearly scripted and lavishly funded strategy to dominate the technologies of the future, not just through its own innovation but also by acquiring foreign technology by inappropriate means. This is not a standard industrial policy in which the government merely enables or channels spontaneous market activity. Instead, the policy aims to help Chinese firms control targeted sectors of technology markets both at home and abroad, dominate a wide range of cutting-edge industries deemed “strategic,” and put systemic limits on the operation of foreign competitors in its own domestic markets. As a result of this strategy, many foreign firms are pressured to transfer technology in order to conduct business in China, while others become victims of cyber theft by Chinese state actors. Despite decades of reform, discriminatory treatment of foreign firms is still deeply embedded in the Chinese system of bureaucratic protectionism.

As a result of intensified state control, the Chinese economy is diverging from global market norms. While rhetorically China’s leaders espouse an open global economic order, domestically the party-state is now dominating the economy more than it has at any time since the Mao era. Market reforms and the opening of the country to imports and inbound investment have stalled. At the same time, China’s government funds outbound investments by private as well as state firms to bring home technology and know-how in areas like robotics, chip fabrication, artificial intelligence, aerospace, ocean engineering, advanced railway equipment, new energy vehicles, power equipment, agricultural machinery, new materials, and biomedicine and medical devices. The goals of China’s industrial policy as expressed in the government’s major plans, such as “Made in China 2025” and “Civil-Military Integration,” are not just to help China achieve high-tech import substitution and dominate global markets in tech sectors, but also to enhance the country’s military power.

Beijing’s approach is forcing the United States and other advanced industrial countries to reassess their open and market-based commercial relationships with China in order to discipline mercantilist and zero-sum Chinese practices, preserve their own economic competitiveness, and protect their defense industrial bases. . . .

3.     China’s hardening authoritarianism

Under Xi Jinping’s leadership, China has been reversing what had been a slow and sometimes halting process of social and political liberalization by turning back toward more authoritarian forms of political control. For three decades after Mao Zedong’s death in 1976, China’s party-state gradually lessened its ideological controls on social and economic life. This progress created domestic support in both countries for U.S.-China cooperation. By making a U-turn back to personalistic dictatorship, Leninist party rule, and enforced ideological conformity, Xi has created new obstacles to engagement with the United States and other liberal democracies around the world, while also erecting barriers to Chinese interactions with foreign civil society institutions such as universities, think tanks, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). . . .

More specifically, with regards to trade, as former USTR Charlene Barshefsky states in the following presentations on the Report, if China will not follow the WTO Trade rules, it should leave the WTO.  See https://asiasociety.org/video/chinas-decisive-turn-toward-statism and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uT01OGl7uG0.

HUAWEI IN A WORLD OF HURT FACING TWO MAJOR CRIMINAL INDICTMENTS IN TWO FEDERAL COURTS, WHICH COULD GROW TO THREE

As stated above, Huawei was not the topic of the January negotiations in Washington DC.  In the most recent negotiations in Beijing, the Chinese government proposed a separate negotiations track on Huawei, but to date the US government has not accepted

In fact, on January 28, 2019, the day before the negotiations began in Washington DC, the Justice Department issued two attached indictments against Huawei.  The first attached bank fraud indictment, ACTUAL HUAWEI IRAN INDICTMENT, was filed in the Federal District Court in the Eastern District of New York and is entitled United States of America Vs Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Huawei Device USA, Skycom Tech Co., Ltd., Wanzhou Meng, also known as Cathy Meng and Sabrina Meng and a number of unknown defendants.

The indictment was filed in the Federal District Court in the Eastern District of New York and provides detailed allegations against Huawei, Huawei USA,  Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO and daughter of the owner, and several unnamed co-defendants alleging evasion of Iran sanctions, bank fraud, and  obstruction of justice.

One commentator in Hong Kong stated in an article, that ultimately this first indictment means that Huawei will pay a fine.  No, that is not the point.  Ms. Meng faces years in prison—real jail time.

The second attached indictment, DOJ TRADE SECRETS INDICTMENT HUAWEI, against Huawei took place here in Seattle when Huawei stole key robot technology from T-Mobile.  One of the most important parts of the T-Mobile indictment, which will have a direct impact on the US China 301 negotiations, is that Huawei has in place a bonus program to reward employees who steal foreign intellectual property.

The indictment states:

  1. On July 10, 2013, at the same time that HUAWEI CHINA and HUAWEI USA were falsely claiming that the conduct of A.X. and F.W. was “isolated,” constituted a “moment of indiscretion,” and was contrary to Huawei’ s corporate polices, HUAWEI CHINA launched a formal policy instituting a bonus program to reward employees who stole confidential information from competitors. Under the policy, HUAWEI CHINA established a formal schedule for rewarding employees for stealing information from competitors based upon the confidential value of the information obtained. Employees were directed to post confidential information obtained from other companies on an internal Huawei website, or, in the case of especially sensitive information, to send an encrypted email to a special email mailbox. A “competition management group” was tasked with reviewing the submissions and awarding monthly bonuses to the employees who provided the most valuable stolen information. Biannual awards also were made available to the top three regions that provided the most valuable information. The policy emphasized that no employees would be punished for taking actions in accordance with the policy.
  2. The launch of this HUAWEI CHINA bonus program policy created a problem for HUAWEI USA because it was in the midst of trying to convince T-Mobile that the conduct in the laboratory was the product of rogue employees who acted on their own and contrary to Huawei’s policies. As a result, on July 12, 2013, the HUAWEI USA Executive Director of Human Resources sent an email to all HUAWEI USA employees addressing the bonus program. The email described the bonus program as: “[I]ndicat[ing] that you are being encouraged and could possibly earn a monetary award for collecting confidential information regarding our competitors and sending it back to [HUAWEI CHINA].” The email went on to say: “[H]ere in the U.S.A. we do not condone nor engage in such activities and such a behavior is expressly prohibited by [HUAWEI USA’s] company policies.” The email did not state that the bonus program had been suspended by HUAWEI CHINA. Rather, the email emphasized that “in some foreign countries and regions such a directive and award program may be normal and within the usual course of business in that region.”

The indictments against Huawei are extremely serious, and I would be very surprised if Trump would agree to introduce Huawei into the trade negotiations.

Ms. Meng finds herself—immersed in a criminal action exposing her to 30 years in prison for bank fraud.  Although Ms. Meng received bail and is staying at her Vancouver house, she is due back in Canadian Court in February.  And there is probably a good chance that Ms. Meng will be extradited to the United States, where she will face even tougher problems.

There is also a potential third indictment against Huawei for theft of a US intellectual property for diamond glass used for mobile screens.  Huawei apparently stole the technology, and now the FBI is investigating the situation.  See attached article from Bloomberg entitled “Huawei Sting Offers Rare Glimpse of the U.S. Targeting a Chinese Giant”, HUAWEI GOES AFTER MORE TECHNOLOGY

THE PROBLEM WITH THE CHINESE WAY AND EXTRADITION REQUESTS ARE ENFORCEABLE IN HONG KONG

As stated in the past blog post, the Chinese government’s decision not to have any agreement with the United States or other countries with regards to the enforcement of judgments or extradition warrants also gives Chinese individuals a false sense of security.  Many Chinese individuals feel they are immune to laws in other countries and can break them with impunity and they can apply the “Chinese way” of playing games in international and commercial transactions in many countries.

Chinese companies, however, are now international operations.  As soon as the Chinese individual takes a step out of China, however, he or she can be arrested.  You can run, but eventually you cannot hide from US and other foreign extradition warrants and judgments.

The attached January 14th article in the South China Morning Post entitled “A Chinese math prodigy turned hedge fund coder and the stolen strategies that cost him his freedom”, ARREST CHINESE NATIONAL IN HONG KONG, described a Chinese graduate from Hubei , who stole” intellectual property from a UK company.  The article described the situation where a Chinese national in Hong Kong had fled the United Kingdom (“UK”) after stealing intellectual property from a UK company.  The Chinese individual was arrested in Hong Kong on a UK extradition warrant.  If a Chinese national can be arrested in Hong Kong on an extradition warrant from the UK, can US criminal extradition warrants be enforced in Hong Kong?

LONG TERM PROBLEMS AND IMPACT ON CHINESE ECONOMY

On January 31, 2019, during the US China negotiations, Premier Liu delivered a letter from Chinese President Xi Jinping to President Trump, in which Xi pointed out that China-U.S. relations are at a critical stage.  This is absolutely true.  This is a crucial point in history not only for relations between the US and the rest of the Western/Democratic countries but for China itself because it is facing a steep economic decline. 

As a result of the US Trade War and more importantly the Chinese government’s decision to strongly favor state run companies and aggressively attack the Chinese private industry, there is a real decline in the Chinese economy.  Major Chinese economists in and out of China are predicting a potential recession in China in the next year.

See below statements from Nicholas Lardy and Professor Xiang Songzuo. If the subsequent statement by John Garnaut’s on Xi’s ideology being similar to Stalin is correct, however, these changing economic and political policies will not end any time soon.

There has been enormous changes in the political and economic thinking in China in the last two to three years.  The first historical political and economic change in China began with the end of the Cultural Revolution, the Death of Mao Tse Tung and the rise of Deng Xiaoping.  Deng Xiaoping believed in term limits, decentralization of economic power and the move to a market economy.  This was a major change in the economic and political philosophy in China.

One of Deng’s most famous says is it does not matter whether the cat is black or white so long as it catches mice.  As indicated below, however, that is not the philosophy of President Xi Jinping.

The perception of the United States and many countries was that China was moving to a more open Democratic society with a strong market economy and that reform would press forward.  This transition would take substantial time, but China was moving in the right direction.

With the decision of Xi Jinping to become leader for life in China, like Mao Tse Tung, however, the situation in China has changed dramatically and the perception of China by the United States and many other countries has changed.

Recently, within the last two years, the Chinese government has started an attack on private industry in China.  State-owned companies can get loans and many advantages and have become more powerful in China.  In bad economic times, such as the present, private companies cannot get the loans to stay alive.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has cracked down on private industry making it more difficult to operate in China in the form of substantial regulatory and tax pressure on private industry.  Private companies face very high taxes, which on entrepreneurs are as high as 60%.

The real threat to President Xi’s economic decision, however, is that 80% of employment in China is in the private industry, which has been the engine of most of the change.

Chinese experts in and out of China have warned the Chinese government that the Chinese economy is in a very perilous situation.  See statements of Nicholas Lardy and Professor Xiong in Beijing below.

The three pillars that have held the Chinese economy up in the past are gone—exports (China the factory of the World), infrastructure and real estate spending (debt is enormous).

The only one left is increased consumption by Chinese consumers.  But that is not appearing.  Too many average Chinese are feeling future bad economic times.  In bad economic times, the average Chinese does not spend.  He or she saves.

NICHOLAS LARDY — US EXPERT ON THE CHINESE ECONOMY

In January 2019, Nicholas Lardy, a US expert, who has been studying the Chinese economy for decades, through the Paulson Institute, published a new book entitled “The State Strikes Back The End of Economic Reform in China”.  Some of the important quotes from that book are as follows:

“Since 2012, however, this picture of private, market-driven growth has given way to a resurgence of the role of the state in resource allocation and a shrinking role for the market and private firms. Increasingly ambitious state industrial policies carried out by bureaucrats and party officials have been directing investment decisions, most notably in the program proclaimed by President Xi Jinping known as “Made in China 2025.”  . . .

“This book mobilizes a wealth of data to evaluate this resurgence in the role of the state, applying an analysis of China’s medium-term growth potential and the implications of this growth for the global economy. Its core conclusion is that absent significant further economic reform returning China to a path of allowing market forces to allocate resources, China’s growth is likely to slow, casting a shadow over its future prospects. Of major importance for the rest of the world newly dependent on China’s economic ups and downs, the goal of reducing financial risks, which have accumulated in the years since the global financial crisis”. . . .

The fundamental obstacle to implementing far-reaching economic reforms in China is the top leadership’s view that, while state-owned firms may be a drag on China’s economic growth, they are essential to maintaining the position and control of the Chinese Communist Party and achieving the party’s strategic objectives (Economy 2018, 15–16). These strategic objectives are outlined in the Made in China 2025 program and other industrial policies and include achieving domestic dominance and global leadership in a range of advanced technologies. Other strategic objectives are international, notably the Belt and Road Initiative, where state-owned construction companies such as the China State Construction Engineering Corporation Limited are major contractors for building roads, rail lines, power plants, ports, and other infrastructure in countries participating in the initiative.”

State Strikes Back at pp 46, 47, 49 and 507-508 (2019).

XIANG SONGZUO-CHINESE EXPERT ON THE CHINESE ECONOMY

As mentioned in a previous newsletter, on December 21, 2018 the Epoch Times in an article entitled “China May Be Experiencing Negative GDP Growth” reported on a December 2018 speech by Xiang Songzuo, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow of the Center for International Monetary Research at China’s Renmin University, who reportedly has stated that the Chinese stock market is looking like the US stock market in 1929 just before the Great Depression.  The article goes on to state:

Xiang challenged the figure given by the National Bureau of Statistics, which claims that China’s rate of GDP growth is at 6.5 percent. According to some researches, Xiang said, the real growth rate could be just 1.67 percent, while more dismal estimates say that China’s economy is actually shrinking.

In his speech, Xiang said that the Chinese regime leadership had made major miscalculations, especially in terms of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) stance in the Sino-U.S. trade war. He criticized propaganda slogans aired by Party- controlled mass media, such as “The Americans are lifting rocks only to have them smash on their own feet,” “China’s victory is assured,” or “China will stand and fight” as being overly confident and ignorant of the real difficulty that the country faces.

Beyond the CCP’s stubborn attitude towards U.S. demands, a second cause for the recent downturn in the Chinese economy was the severe hit to private enterprises this year, Xiang said. Private investment and investments into private enterprises have slowed sharply, severely impacting confidence among entrepreneurs.

Various official statements implying the eventual elimination of private business and property have reduced private sector confidence. This includes the idea, put forward by some Party-backed scholars, that the market economy has already fulfilled its role and should retreat in favor of planned, worker-owned economics.

Xiang said: “This kind of high-profile study of Marx and high-profile study of the Communist Manifesto, what was that line in the Communist Manifesto? The elimination of private ownership—what kind of signal do you think this sends to entrepreneurs?” . . ..

Xiang said that a huge challenge for China is the Sino-U.S. trade war. He believes that it is no longer a trade war, but a serious conflict between the Chinese and American systems of values. The China-U.S. relationship is at a crossroads, he said, and so far there has been no solution found to resolve their differences. . . .

The core challenge facing private enterprises is not financing difficulty, though there are problems in this area, Xiang said. The fundamental problem is fear of unstable government policy.

“The leaders in the State Council said it clearly in the meeting of the Standing Committee: in China, the government is what can be least trusted. Therefore, in order to solve the debt problem, first, the debts that the government owes businesses need to be resolved, followed by the problem of state-owned enterprises owing private enterprises, and then that of large private enterprises owing smaller ones,” he said.

Mr. Xiang’s speech dovetails with what I have heard from friends who recently returned from China.  Their friends in China have told them that management in China companies has been telling its workers to be prepared to “chi ku” eat bitter, for the next ten years because of the poor economy and save their money.  Saving money in China does not result in increased consumption.

AUSTRALIAN EXPERT, JOHN GARNAUT, THE MAJOR PROBLEM IS THAT XI FOLLOWS STALIN AND MAO IDEOLOGY AND THAT WILL IMPACT THE LONG TERM RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHINA AND THE US AND OTHER WESTERN/DEMOCRATIC COUNTRIES FOR YEARS TO COME

On January 17th, Bill Bishop, a China expert in the US, under the brand Sinocism, released a long speech by John Garnaut, one of the top journalists covering China before joining the Australian Government.  The blog post, Engineers of the Soul: Ideology in Xi Jinping’s China is long.  But if the analysis is correct, it illustrates in detail why over many years so long as Xi and others like him with this ideology are in power, the US, Australia, EC and the Western and other Democratic countries will oppose China.  The article below is extensive, but it is very enlightening.  See the entire article by clicking on the link above.  This is the political reason for the Western/Democratic problems with China now:

“Regular Sinocism readers are no doubt familiar with John Garnaut, one of the top journalists covering China before he joined the Australian government, first as a speech writer for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and then as a China policy advisor. John led the Australian government’s analysis of and response to PRC/CCP interference and influence efforts in the country, and his work has since had significant influence in other Western capitals.

John is now out of government and has allowed me to share with you a speech he gave at an internal Australian government seminar in August 2017. . . .

I knew John a little in Beijing and besides having tremendous respect for his work, and especially his access to Princelings at a level I am not sure any other foreign correspondent has ever had, I always found him to be a reasoned and thoughtful chronicler of the PRC.

Some now say he has become a China hawk, but I see it as more the evolution of a sophisticated China watcher who believes in seeking truth from facts, no matter how difficult it may be to accept the reality of the direction Xi and the CCP appear to be taking China. This is a trajectory I have found myself on, along with many of the most experienced foreign China watchers I know.

I wish I could say I find John’s arguments unconvincing, but in fact they only seem more accurate now, over a year after the 19th Party Congress, than they did when he gave this talk in 2017.

On to John’s thought-provoking talk:

Asian Strategic and Economic Seminar Series

Engineers of the Soul: what Australia needs to know about ideology in Xi Jinping’s China

As some of you know I’ve just spent the past eight months as a model public servant on my very best behavior: biding time, concealing opinions and strictly respecting the bureaucratic order.

Now I get to go unplugged.  . . .

But in the meantime I’m here as someone who was born into the economics tribe and has been forced to gradually concede ground to the security camp. This retreat has taken place over the course of a decade, one story at a time, as I’ve had to accept that economic openness does not inevitably lead to political openness. Not when you have a political regime that is both capable and committed to ensuring it doesn’t happen.

Politics isn’t everything but there’s no country on earth where it is more omnipresent, with the exception of North Korea. And there is no political system that is as tightly bound to ideology.

In the work I was doing upstairs in this building I went out of my way to remove ideology from my analysis of how China is impacting on Australia and our region. It was simply too alien and too difficult to digest. In order to make sense to time-poor leaders it was easier to “normalise” events, actions and concepts by framing them in more familiar terms.

This approach of “normalising” China also served to sidestep painful normative debates about what China is, where it is going and what it wants. It was a way of avoiding a food fight about who is pro-or-anti China. Taking the “Communist Party” out of “China” was a way of de-activating the autoimmune response that can otherwise kill productive conversation.

This pragmatism has worked pretty well. We’ve taken the China conversation to a new level of sophistication over the past year or so.

But by stripping out ideology we are giving up on building a framework which has explanatory and predictive value.

At some point, given the reach that China has into Australia, we will have to make a serious attempt to read the ideological road map that frames the language, perceptions and decisions of Chinese leaders. If we are ever going to map the Communist Party genome then we need to read the ideological DNA.

So today I’m stepping into the food fight.

I want to make these broad points about the historical foundations of CCP ideology, beyond the fact that it is important: 

  1. Communism did not enjoy an immaculate conception in China. Rather, it was grafted onto an existing ideological system – the classical Chinese dynastic system.
  2. China had an unusual veneration for the written wordand acceptance of its didactic value.
  3. Marxism-Leninism was interpreted to Mao and his fellow revolutionaries by a crucial intermediary: Joseph Stalin.
  4. Communism – as interpreted by Lenin, Stalin and Mao – is a total ideology. At the risk of being politically insensitive, it is totalitarian.
  5. Xi Jinpinghas reinvigorated ideology to an extent we have not seen since the Cultural Revolution.  . . .

 A Dynastic Cosmology

It was clear from my work as a journalist and writer in New China – to use the party speak – that the formal ideology of communism coexists with an unofficial ideology of old China. The Founding Fathers of the PRC came to power on a promise to repudiate and destroy everything about the dark imperial past, but they never really changed the mental wallpaper.  . . .

So this is my first observation about ideology – ideology in the broadest sense, as a coherent system of ideas and ideals: the founding families of the PRC are steeped in the Dynastic System.

Admittedly, communism and feudal imperialism are uneasy bedfellows. But they are not irreconcilable. The formula for dynastic communism was perfected by Chen Yun: their children had to inherit power not because of privilege but because they could be counted upon to be loyal to the revolutionary cause. Or, as he put it: “at least our children will not dig up our graves”.

Xi Jinping has exercised an unwritten aristocratic claim to power which derives from his father’s proximity to the founder of the Red Dynasty: Chairman Mao. He is the compromise representative of all the great founding families. This is the starting point for understanding the worldview of Xi Jinping and his Princeling cohort.

In the view of China’s princelings – or “Revolutionary Successors”, as they prefer to be known – China is still trapped in the cycle which had created and destroyed every dynasty that had gone before. In this tradition, when you lose political power you don’t just lost your job (while keeping your super) as you might in our rather gentrified arrangement. You lose your wealth, you lose your freedom, you probably lose your life and possibly your entire extended family. You are literally erased from history. Winners take all and losers lose everything.

With these stakes, the English idiom “life-and-death-struggle” is far too passive. In the Chinese formulation it is “You-Die, I-Live”. I must kill preemptively in order to live. Xi and his comrades in the red dynasty believe they will go the same way as the Manchus and the Mings the moment they forget.

China’s veneration of the written word

A second point, related to the first, is that China has an extraordinary veneration of the written word. Stories, histories and teachers have great moral authority.  . . . What is more certain is that China was particularly receptive to Soviet ideology because Chinese intellectuals found meaning in Russian literature and texts earlier and more readily than they did with other Western sources. “Russian literature was our guide (daoshi) and friend,” said Lu Xun.

In classical Chinese statecraft there are two tools for gaining and maintaining control over “the mountains and the rivers”: The first is wu (weapons, violence – 武) and the second is wen (language, culture – 文).

Chinese leaders have always believed that power derives from controlling both the physical battlefield and the cultural domain. You can’t sustain physical power without discursive power. Wu and wen go hand-in-hand.

The key to understanding the allure of the Soviet Commintern in Shanghai and Guangzhou in the 1920s is that their (admittedly brilliant) agents told a compelling story. They came with money, guns and organizational technology but their greatest selling point was a narrative which promised a linear escape from the dynastic cycle. . . .

Mao’s discursive advantage was Marxist-Leninist ideology. Language was not just a tool of moral judgment. It was an instrument for shaping acceptable behavior and a weapon for distinguishing enemies and friends. This is the subtext of Mao’s most famous poem, Snow. Communist ideology enabled him to “weaponise” culture in a way his imperial predecessors had never managed.

And it’s important to remember who was the leader of the Communist world during the entire quarter of a century in which Mao rose to absolute power.

The “Great Genius” Comrade Stalin. 

Mao knew Marxist Leninist dogma was absolutely crucial to his enterprise but he personally lacked the patience to wade through it. He found a shortcut to ideological proficiency with Joseph Stalin’s Short Course on the History of the Bolsheviks, published at the end of Stalin’s Great Terror, in 1938.  According to Li Rui, when interviewed by historian Li Huayu, Mao thought he’d found an “encyclopaedia of Marxism” and “acted as if he’d discovered a treasure”.

At the time of Stalin’s death, in March 1953, The Short Course on the History of the Bolsheviks had become the third-most printed book in human history. After Stalin’s death – when Stalin was eulogised as “the Great Genius” on the front page of the People’s Daily – the Chinese printers redoubled their efforts. It became the closest thing in China to a religious text.

The Short Course is hard reading but it offers us the same shortcut to understanding Communist ideology as it did for Mao.

Stalin’s problem was different to Lenin’s. Lenin had to win a revolution but Stalin had to sustain it. . . .

Stalin’s Short Course is a manual for perpetual struggle against a roll call of imagined dastardly enemies who are collaborating with imagined Western agents to restore bourgeois capitalism and liberalism. It is written as a chronicle of victories by Lenin and then Stalin’s “correct line” over an endless succession of ideological villains. It is perhaps instructive that many of the most “vile” internal enemies were said to have cloaked their subversive intentions in the guise of “reform”. . . .

The most original insight in Stalin’s Short Course on the History of the Bolsheviks is that the path to socialist utopia will always be obstructed by enemies who want to restore bourgeois capitalism from inside the party. These internal enemies grow more desperate and more dangerous as they grow increasingly imperilled – and as they collaborate with the spies and agents of Western liberalism.

The most important lines in the book:

  • “As the revolution deepens, class struggle intensifies.”
  • “The Party becomes strong by purging itself.”

You can imagine how this formulation was revelatory to a ruthless Chinese leader like Mao who had mastered the “You Die, I Live” world into which he had been born – a world in which you choose to either kill or be killed – and who was obsessed with how to prevent the decay which had destroyed every imperial dynasty before.

What Stalin offered Mao was not only a manual for purging his peers but also an explanation of why it was necessary. Purging his rivals was the only way a vanguard party could “purify” itself, remain true to its revolutionary nature and prevent a capitalist restoration.

Purging was the mechanism for the Chinese Communist Party to achieve ever greater “unity” with revolutionary “truth” as interpreted by Mao. It is the mechanism for preventing the process of corruption and putrefaction which inevitably sets in after the founding leaders of each dynasty leave the scene.

Crucially, Mao split with Khrushchev because Khrushchev split with Stalin and everything he stood for. The Sino-Soviet split was ideological – it was Mao’s claim to ideological leadership over the communist world. Marx, Lenin, Stalin, Mao. It was Mao’s claim to being Stalin’s true successor.

We hear a lot about how Xi and his peers blame Gorbachev for the collapse of the Soviet state but actually their grievances go much further back. They blame Khrushchev. They blame Khrushchev for breaking with Stalin. And they vow that they will never do to Mao what Khrushchev did to Stalin.

Now, sixty years on, we’re seeing Xi making his claim to be the true Revolutionary Successor of Mao.

Xi’s language of “party purity”; “criticism and self-criticism”; “the mass line”; his obsession with “unity”; his attacks on elements of “hostile Western liberalism”, “constitutionalism” and other variants of ideological “subversion” –  this is all Marxism-Leninism as interpreted by Stalin as interpreted by Mao.

This is the language that the Deep Red princelings spoke when they got together and occasionally when I interviewed them and crashed their gatherings in the lead up to the 18th Party Congress.

And this was how Xi spoke after the 18th Party Congress:

‘‘To dismiss the history of the Soviet Union and the Soviet Communist Party, to dismiss Lenin and Stalin, and to dismiss everything else is to engage in historic nihilism, and it confuses our thoughts and undermines the party’s organizations on all levels.’’

Today, the utopian destination has to be maintained, however absurd it seems, in order to justify the brutal means of getting there.  Xi has inserted a couple of interim goals – for those who lack revolutionary patience – but the underlying Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist-Maoist logic remains the same.

This is the logic of his ever-deepening purge of peers who keep getting in the way.

The purge of the princeling challenger Bo Xilai; the security chief Zhou Yongkang; the two vice chairs of the PLA Central Military Commission Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong; the Youth League fixer Ling Jihua; the potential successor Sun Zhengcai just a fortnight ago.

None of this is personal. It’s dialectical. And inevitable.

It’s pushing and accelerating China’s journey along the inexorable corkscrew-shaped course of history.

“History needs to pushed along its dialectical course,” said Xi, in his speech to mark the party’s 95th birthday in 2015. “History always moves forward and it never waits for all those who hesitate.”

The same logic applies outside the party as within.

“The decadent culture of the capitalist class and feudalistic society must be opposed,” said the authoritative Guangming Daily, expanding on another of Xi’s speeches.

The essence of Maoism and Stalinism is perpetual struggle. This is the antidote to the calcification and putrefaction that has destroyed every previous dynasty, dictatorship and empire. This is why Xi and his Red Successor peers believe that Maoism and Stalinism is still highly relevant today. Not just relevant, but existential.

Xi has set in motion a purification project – a war against the forces of counter-revolution – that has no end point because the notional utopian destination of perfect communism will always be kicked a little further down the road.

There is no policy objective in the sense that a Wall Street banker or Canberran public servant might understand it – as a little more energy market efficiency here, or compression of the Gini coefficient there. Rather, this is how you restore dynastic vigour and vitality. Politics is the ends.

This is what Mao and Stalin understood better than any of their peers. This is what Xi Jinping’s Deep Red Restoration is all about. And why the process of extreme politics will not stop at the 19th Party Congress.

Which brings us to the title of this seminar.

Engineers of the human soul

At my first team bonding session in this building I asked who was the world leader who described artists and authors as “engineers of the human soul”.

Was this word image the creation of Stalin, Mao or someone else?

If you’re thinking Joseph Stalin, then you’re right:

“The production of souls is more important than the production of tanks…. And therefore I raise my glass to you, writers, the engineers of the human soul”.

To me this is one of the great totalitarian metaphors: a machine designed to forge complete unity between state, society and individual.

The totalitarian machine works to a predetermined path. It denies the existence of free will and rejects “abstract” values like “truth”, love and empathy. It repudiates God, submits to no law and seeks nothing less than to remold the human soul.

The quote is from Stalin’s famous speech at the home of the writer Maxim Gorky in preparation for the first Congress of the Union of Soviet Writers in October 1932. This marked the end of Stalin’s Great Famine and Cultural Revolution – the prototype for Mao’s Great Famine and Cultural Revolution – in the lead up to Stalin’s Great Terror.

For Stalin, Lenin and the proto-Leninists of 19th Century Russia, the value of literature and art was purely instrumental. There was no such thing as “art for art’s sake”. In their ideology, poetry has no intrinsic value beyond its purpose of indoctrinating the masses and advancing the cause of revolution.

Or, to use the engineering language of the original Man of Steel – Joseph Stalin – literature and art are nothing more nor less than cogs in the revolutionary machine.

But, if you think the answer is Chairman Mao, then you’re also right. Mao extended Stalin’s metaphor a decade later at his famous Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art delivered in two parts in October 1942, and published (in heavily doctored form) one year later:

“[Our purpose is] to ensure that literature and art fit well into the whole revolutionary machine as a component part, that they operate as powerful weapons for uniting and educating the people and for attacking and destroying the enemy, and that they help the people fight the enemy with one heart and one mind.”

This is when Mao made plain that there is no such thing as truth, love or artistic merit except in so far as these abstract concepts can be pressed into the practical service of politics.

Importantly, with contemporary significance, Mao’s talks on literature and art was his way of introducing the Yan’an Rectification Campaign – the first great systematic purge of the Chinese Communist Party. This was a project of orchestrated peer pressure and torture designed first to purge Mao’s peers and then to instil communist ideology deep within the minds of the hundreds of thousands of idealistic students and intellectuals who had flocked to Yan’an during the anti-Japanese war.

Importantly, the Communist Party never sought to “persuade” so much as “condition”. By creating a fully enclosed system, controlling all incentives and disincentives, and “breaking” individuals physically, socially and psychologically, they found they could condition the human mind in the same way that Pavlov had learned to condition dogs in a Moscow laboratory a few years earlier.

This is when Mao’s men first coined the term “brainwashing” – it’s a literal translation of the Maoist term xinao, literally “washing the brain”. Mao himself preferred Stalin’s metallurgical metaphor. He called it “tempering”:

“If you want to be one with the masses, you must make up your mind to undergo a long and even painful process of tempering.”

Mao’s Yan’an Talks on Literature and Art vanished and were then resurrected and republished everywhere at the onset of the Cultural Revolution – the most audacious and successful act of social engineering that the world has ever seen.

And, most relevant to all of us today, if you are thinking President Xi Jinping, then you’re also right.

President Xi, or Chairman Xi to use a more direct translation, was speaking at the Beijing Forum on Literature and Art, in October 2014. Xi’s Forum on Literature and Art was convened on the 72nd anniversary of the young Chairman Mao’s Yan’an Forum on Literature and Art.

Xi was arguing for a return to the Stalinist-Maoist principle that art and literature should only exist to serve politics. Not politics as we know it – the straightforward exercise of organisational and decision-making power – but the totalitarian project of creating unity of language, knowledge, thought and behaviour in pursuit of a utopian destination.

“Art and literature is the engineering that moulds the human soul; art and literary workers are the engineers of the human soul.”

Like Mao’s version, Xi’s art and literature forum speech was not published until one year later.

Like Mao’s speech, the published version made no acknowledgment that large chunks had been added, deleted and revised – to reflect the political imperatives of the times.

Like Stalin and Mao, Xi’s speech marked a Communist Party rectification campaign which included an all-out effort to elevate the respective leaders to cult status. Nothing in Communist Party choreography happens by accident.

It should be noted here that when Mao was rallying the country in 1942 he did so under the banner of ““patriotism” – because the idea of communism had absolutely no pulling power.

It’s no different today. Xi:

“Among the core values of socialism with Chinese characteristics, the deepest, most basic and most enduring is patriotism. Our modern art and literature needs to take patriotism as its muse, guiding the people to establish and adhere to correct views of history, the nation, the country and culture.”

And the old warnings against subversive western liberalism haven’t changed either.

For Lenin, Stalin, Mao and Xi, words are not vehicles of reason and persuasion. They are bullets. Words are weapons for defining, isolating and destroying opponents. And the task of destroying enemies can never end. (This deserves a stand alone discussion of United Front strategy – but I’ll leave this for another day).

For Xi, as with Stalin and Mao, there is no endpoint in the perpetual quest for unity and regime preservation.

Xi uses the same ideological template to describe the role of “media workers”. And school teachers. And university scholars. They are all engineers of ideological conformity and cogs in the revolutionary machine.

Among the many things that China’s modern leaders did – including overseeing the greatest burst of market liberalisation and poverty alleviation the world has ever seen – those who won the internal political battles have retained the totalitarian aspiration of engineering the human soul in order to lead them towards the ever-receding and ever-changing utopian destination.

This is not to say that China could not have turned out differently. Elite politics from Mao’s death to the Tiananmen massacres was a genuine contest of ideas.

But ideology won that contest.

Today the PRC is the only ruling communist party that has never split with Stalin, with the partial exception of North Korea. Stalin’s portrait stood alongside Marx, Engels and Lenin in Tiananmen Square – six metres tall – right up to the early 1980s, at which point the portraits were moved indoors.

For a long time we all took comfort in thinking that this ideological aspiration existed only on paper, an object of lip service, while China’s 1.4 billion citizens got on with the job of building families and communities and seeking knowledge and prosperity.

But it has been much more than lip service.  Since 1989 the party has been rebuilding itself around what the draft National Security Law calls “ideological security” including defending itself against “negative cultural infiltration”.

Propaganda and security – wen and wu, the book and the sword, the pen and the gun – are once again inseparable. Party leaders must “dare to show their swords’’ to ensure that “politicians run newspapers”, said Xi, at his first National Propaganda Work Conference, on August 9, 2013.

Xi has now pushed ideology to the forefront because it provides a framework for “purifying” and regaining control over the vanguard party and thereby the country.

In Xi’s view, shared by many in his Red Princeling cohort, the cost of straying too far from the Maoist and Stalinist path is dynastic decay and eventually collapse.

Everything Xi Jinping says as leader, and everything I can piece together from his background, tells me that he is deadly serious about this totalising project.

In retrospect we might have anticipated this from the Maoist and Stalinist references that Xi sprinkled through his opening remarks as president, in November 2012.

It was made clearer during Xi Jinping’s first Southern Tour as General Secretary, in December 2012, when he laid a wreath at Deng’s shrine in Shenzhen but inverted Deng’s message. He blamed the collapse of the Soviet Union on nobody being “man enough” to stand up to Gorbachev and this, in turn, was because party members had neglected ideology. This is when he gave his warning that we must not forget Mao, Lenin or Stalin.

In April 2013 the General Office of the Central Committee, run by Xi’s princeling right hand man, Li Zhanshu, sent this now infamous political instruction down to all high level party organisations.

This Document No. 9, “Communique on the Current State of the Ideological Sphere”, set “disseminating thought on the cultural front as the most important political task.” It required cadres to arouse “mass fervour” and wage “intense struggle” against the following “false trends”:

  1. Western constitutional democracy – “an attempt to undermine the current leadership”;
  2. Universal values of human rights – an attempt to weaken the theoretical foundations of party leadership.
  3. Civil Society – a “political tool” of the “Western anti-China forces” dismantle the ruling party’s social foundation.
  4. Neoliberalism – US-led efforts to “change China’s basic economic system”.
  5. The West’s idea of journalism – attacking the Marxist view of news, attempting to “gouge an opening through which to infiltrate our ideology”.
  6. Historical nihilism – trying to undermine party history, “denying the inevitability” of Chinese socialism.
  7. Questioning Reform and Opening – No more arguing about whether reform needs to go further.

There is no ambiguity in this document. The Western conspiracy to infiltrate, subvert and overthrow the People’s Party is not contingent on what any particular Western country thinks or does. It is an equation, a mathematical identity: the CCP exists and therefore it is under attack. No amount of accommodation and reassurance can ever be enough – it can only ever be a tactic, a ruse.

Without the conspiracy of Western liberalism the CCP loses its reason for existence. There would be no need to maintain a vanguard party. Mr Xi might as well let his party peacefully evolve.

We know this document is authentic because the Chinese journalist who publicised it on the internet, Gao Yu, was arrested and her child was threatened with unimaginable things. The threats to her son led her to make the first Cultural Revolution-style confession of the television era.

In November 2013 Xi appointed himself head of a new Central State Security Commission in part to counter “extremist forces and ideological challenges to culture posed by Western nations”.

Today, however, the Internet is the primary battle domain. It’s all about cyber sovereignty.

Conclusion

The key point about Communist Party ideology – the unbroken thread that runs from Lenin through Stalin, Mao and Xi – is that the party is and always has defined itself as being in perpetual struggle with the “hostile” forces of Western liberalism.

Xi is talking seriously and acting decisively to progress a project of total ideological control wherever it is possible for him to do so. His vision “requires all the Chinese people to be unified with a single will like a strong city wall”, as he told “the broad masses of youth” in his Labor Day speech of May 2015. They need to “temper their characters”, said Xi, using a metaphor favoured by both Stalin and Mao.

There is no ambiguity in Xi’s project. We see in everything he does and – even in a system designed to be opaque and deceptive – we can see it in his words.

Mr Xi did not invent this ideological project but he has hugely reinvigorated it. For the first time since Mao we have a leader who talks and acts like he really means it.

And he is pushing communist ideology at a time when the idea of “communism” is as unattractive as it has been at any time in the past 100 years. All that remains is an ideology of power, dressed up as patriotism, but that doesn’t mean it cannot work.

Already, Xi has shown that the subversive promise of the internet can be inverted. In the space of five years, with the assistance of Big Data science and Artificial Intelligence, he has been bending the Internet from an instrument of democratisation into a tool of omniscient control. The journey to Utopia is still in progress but first we must pass through a cyber-enabled dystopia in order to defeat the forces of counter-revolution.

The audacity of this project is breathtaking. And so too are the implications.

The challenge for us is that Xi’s project of total ideological control does not stop at China’s borders. It is packaged to travel with Chinese students, tourists, migrants and especially money.  It flows through the channels of the Chinese language internet, pushes into all the world’s major media and cultural spaces and generally keeps pace with and even anticipates China’s increasingly global interests.

In my opinion, if you’re in the business of intelligence, defense or international relations; or trade, economic policy or market regulation; or arts, higher education or preserving the integrity of our democratic system – in other words, just about any substantial policy question whatsoever – then you will need a working knowledge of Marxism-Leninism Mao Zedong Thought. And maybe, after the 19th Party Congress, you’ll need “Xi Jinping Thought” too.

END”

That is the real problem facing China.  Xi and the Chinese government have decided to give up economic reform and go back to the time of Mao and Statin.  This is real Communist ideology.

One may think that John Garnault is exaggerating.  It cannot be that bad.  But as noted above, with the Conference on Statism at the Asia Society, many Chinese experts, old friends of China including Orville Schell and Chrarlene Barshefsky, who was the USTR who negotiated the US China WTO agreement, believe that China has returned to Statism.  That is the same point of Nicholas Lardy above.

When I was in Beijing China in the mid-2,000s, I met many Chinese lawyers.  One lawyer told me in Beijing that there was a saying in China—Mao made China stand up, Deng made China rich and the hope is that the new leader will give China some form of Democracy.  That Chinese lawyer now lives two blocks away from me in Washington State.

Another Chinese lawyer in Beijing believed strongly in the mid-2,000s that China was on the right path to a new opening that might lead to a limited form of Democracy.  He now lives 30 minutes away from me.

Many Chinese have fled China because of the fear of what is going on in China now.

My hope and prayer is that I am wrong, but I do not think so.

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

Because of a major disagreement between President Trump and Congress, a major part of the Government, including the Commerce Department and the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), were shut down for over a month.  As a result, Commerce and the US International Trade Commission have extended all trade investigation deadlines by 35 to 40 days.

QUARTZ SURFACE PRODUCTS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES—ITC QUESTIONNAIRES AND CRITICAL CIRCUMSTANCES TRAP

We are in the process of representing a substantial number of US importers and fabricators, US producers of downstream products, in the Quartz Surface Products from China Antidumping and Countervailing Duty case.  Quartz Surface Products are used to produce kitchen countertops, shower stalls and many other downstream products.

The Commerce Department recently issued a critical circumstances determination exposing thousands of importers to millions of dollars in liability and bankruptcy in a situation in which the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) goes no critical circumstances in over 90% of the cases.

Cambria, the Petitioner in the case, has taken the position that it not only represents the producers of the slab, the raw material, but also all the producers of the downstream products, the fabricators.  We have learned that there are more than 4,000 fabricators of the downstream producers with 1000s of jobs at stake.  Cambria essentially argues that it is the sole representative of an industry with more than 4,000 companies.

Cambria’s objective in this case is very clear—drive up the prices of the raw material so as to drive out the fabricators, the downstream producers, all 4,000 of them.  We are working to include the fabricators in the domestic industry, but the fabricators have to be willing to answer the ITC questionnaires so as to have their voices heard.

The ITC questionnaires in the case are attached US producers–Quartz surface products (F) Foreign producers–Quartz surface products (F) US importers–Quartz surface products (F) US purchasers–Quartz surface products (F) Questionnaire Transmittal Letter QSP INITIAL ITC E-MAIL RETURN INSTRUCTIONS.

If anyone has any questions about the Section 301 case, the trade war with China, IP Protection, Huawei problem, the Quartz Surface Products case, antidumping or countervailing duty law, customs laws and any other trade or customs questions, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE IS A TWO-WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 20, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE – DECEMBER 21, 2018

Dear Friends,

Another difficult newsletter to write as every day there is more news.  Also trying to understand the current state of US China Trade Relations is like trying to tell the future by looking at tea leaves at the bottom of the cup.

At the Trump Xi Meeting on December 1st at the G-20 meeting in Argentina, there was a deal to delay the 301 tariffs for 90 days during which time negotiations would happen between the US and Chinese governments.  The Chinese government was to send a negotiating team to Washington DC on December 15th, but that did not happen.  The latest is that negotiations continue by phone and the Chinese negotiating team will come to Washington DC in January.

Meanwhile, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) has issued the attached new notice, MARCH 2 USTR NOTICE PUBLISHED, setting a hard date of March 2nd for US China Trade Deal.  If there is no deal by March 2nd, the tariffs on $200 billion in imports automatically go from 10% to 25%.  The USTR has also issued a new attached Section 301 update, USTR FULLL 301 Report Update.

The core of any US China deal will be provisions to prevent IP Theft, Forced Technology Transfer and cyber hacking for commercial gain.  So, what was a dim hope of a US China trade settlement at the G-20 has brightened the hope a little more, but there is still a very long way to go.

Making the situation more difficult was the December 1st arrest of Huawei CEO, Ms. Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the founder, in Vancouver, Canada based on an extradition warrant from the United States for bank fraud.  Immediately many Chinese officials took this action as a personal attack on China by Canada and the United States.  Many Chinese commentators saw this action as an attempt by President Trump to increase pressure on China with regards to trade relations.

Readers of this newsletter, however, will remember the point last month that the Justice Department has raised US China trade relations to a new serious level by starting a new initiative to go after China officials, not only from a trade policy point of view, but also with criminal indictments and investigations for IP Theft and other issues.

On December 20th, the Justice Department further increased the pressure by bringing an indictment against two Chinese individuals for cyber hacking.  This is not politics.  This crisis has risen to criminal activity governed by the Rule of Law.

But apparently the Justice Department did pull its punches because it only went after the two individuals and not the corporate entities associated with the hacking.

That is just where Ms. Meng finds herself—immersed in a criminal action exposing her to 30 years in prison for bank fraud.  Although Ms. Meng received bail and is staying at her Vancouver house, she is due back in Canadian Court in February.  And there is probably a good chance that Ms. Meng will be extradited to the United States, where she will face even tougher problems.

The Canadian Trade Advisor has stated that this is a Rule of Law question, not China policy issue.

But the problems for Huawei have expanded exponentially.  As many international banks now refuse to do business with Huawei because the risks are too great.

But there are probably bigger issues behind the push by many countries to get Huawei out of their telecommunications networks.  On December 14th, it was reported that all five Western Intelligence Agencies have created a real campaign to kill Huawei’s activities in Western countries.

In addition, however, there has been an effort from the Chinese government to keep the Huawei problems separate from the trade negotiations.  The Chinese government has a real incentive to do this because its economy is facing very strong problems with the sharp decline in the Chinese stock market.  One Chinese economic expert is comparing the Chinese stock market to the 1929 stock market crash in the United States that led to the Great Depression.  That Chinese economist also believes that the Chinese economy is not expanding but contracting significantly because of the US China trade war and the Chinese government’s policy of killing the private industry.

My firm is also representing a number of US importers and fabricators, US producers of downstream products, in the Quartz Surface Products Antidumping and Countervailing Duty case.  As part of that effort, we are trying to persuade US fabricating companies and importers to fill out the questionnaires from the US International Trade Commission’s (“ITC”) so that their voices will be heard.  Those questionnaires are attached below.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

G-20 DIM HOPE BECOMES BRIGHTER HOPE BUT??

The day before the US China meeting in Buenos Aires Argentina, USTR Lighthizer stated that there would probably be a deal.  And that is what happened.

Apparently at the start of the GP-20 meeting, President Xi made a 20-minute speech outlining the steps that the Chinese government was willing to take to end the trade war.

Although China agreed to immediately import US agricultural products, the key to the 301 case is IP Theft and Forced Technology Transfer.  The real issue is what is China prepared to do.

Meanwhile, the United States Trade Representative has issued the attached new notice, MARCH 2 USTR NOTICE PUBLISHED, setting a hard date of March 2nd for US China Trade Deal.  If there is no deal by March 1st, the tariffs on $200 billion in imports automatically go from 10% to 25%.

Apparently, the latest word is that the US and Chinese governments continue to negotiate by phone and the first real face to face meeting will be in January.  But that does not give much time to reach an agreement by March 1st.

Bill Bishop, a known China expert, in his Axios Sinocsim newsletter stated on December 14th:

“I’d already heard that the Chinese are planning to make big concessions, because they understand U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer won’t “accept warmed-over promises.”

  • And, now it appears this could be true, as indicated by the temporary cuts in tariffs on U.S. autos, mentioned in the intro above.
  • So as long as Trump keeps his resolve there may actually be a chance for some significant concessions on trade, moves that Chinese President Xi Jinping can spin domestically as not due to U.S. pressure but as part of the deepening of reform.”

On the other hand, my partner, who reads the Chinese Press in Chinese, commented on the December 13th speech by Xi Jinping on the anniversary of the market opening by Deng Xiaoping:

“I just read a seminar of a group of Chinese scholars reviewing the Xi Jinping speech. The take away:

1.) Reform is dead: permanently. Here, “reform” means move to an open, market economy with minimal involvement by the CCP and minimal involvement by SOEs. This kind of reform would mean the end of CCP control, and that prospect is dead, permanently.

  1. On the trade war, what the Chinese government hopes is: they will enter into some written agreement with Trump. But Trump will soon be swept away. As soon as that happens, the Chinese will tear up the agreement. This shows a mistaken understanding of the U.S. system: we don’t have one man/one party rule in the U.S. So the Chinese are viewing this from the standpoint of how their own system works. But it is interesting to see how this matter is analyzed in China.

Note this is what the Chinese scholars said. I agree, but this is coming from the Chinese side, not from me.”

Such a misreading of the US trade situation is extremely dangerous.  As mentioned in the last blog post, based on quotes from numerous sources, the Chinese government has succeeded in uniting both ends of the political spectrum, Democrats and Republicans, against China.  This trade situation is not going to change any time soon no matter what party is in power.

But other articles have stated that the US and Chinese governments continue to negotiate by phone and there will be face to face meetings in January.  On the other hand, the word is that the Chinese government will agree to make a number of trade concessions, but not agree to any “structural” changes.

The real question is what is meant by the word “structural”?  Again, the core issues in the Section 301 deal are IP Theft, Forced Technology Transfer and cyber hacking.  If the Chinese government’s intent is to make no enforceable concessions in these areas, these negotiations will fail.  That would be a major blow to China.

As indicated below, the indictment and US and Canadian actions against Huawei have made the negotiations more difficult.  But the Chinese government has attempted to keep the trade negotiations and Huawei situation separate, probably because of the big problems with the Chinese economy as explained below.

IP THEFT, FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND CYBER HACKING REMAIN THE CORE ISSUES OF THE 301 CASE

The core of the Section 301 case is intellectual property, rights which are Constitutionally protected rights.  Stealing intellectual property (“IP”) is piracy, pure and simple.

As the United States Trade Representative states on page 4 of its attached full 301 report, USTR FULL 301 REPORT CHINA TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER:

The Federal Register Notice described the focus of the investigation as follows:

First, the Chinese government reportedly uses a variety of tools, including opaque and discretionary administrative approval processes, joint venture requirements, foreign equity limitations, procurements, and other mechanisms to regulate or intervene in U.S. companies’ operations in China in order to require or pressure the transfer of technologies and intellectual property to Chinese companies.  Moreover, many U.S. companies report facing vague and unwritten rules, as well as local rules that diverge from national ones, which are applied in a selective and non-transparent manner by Chinese government officials to pressure technology transfer.

Second, the Chinese government’s acts, policies and practices reportedly deprive U.S. companies of the ability to set market-based terms in licensing and other technology- related negotiations with Chinese companies and undermine U.S. companies control over their technology in China. For example, the Regulations on Technology Import and Export Administration mandate particular terms for indemnities and ownership of technology improvements for imported technology, and other measures also impose non- market terms in licensing and technology contracts.

Third, the Chinese government reportedly directs and/or unfairly facilitates the systematic investment in, and/or acquisition of, U.S. companies and assets by Chinese companies to obtain cutting-edge technologies and intellectual property and generate large-scale technology transfer in industries deemed important by Chinese government industrial plans.

Fourth, the investigation will consider whether the Chinese government is conducting or supporting unauthorized intrusions into U.S. commercial computer networks or cyber- enabled theft of intellectual property, trade secrets, or confidential business information, and whether this conduct harms U.S. companies or provides competitive advantages to Chinese companies or commercial sectors.

The Section 301 Report then goes on to list ten IP Agreements the Chinese government signed with the United States from 2010 to 2016, including the recent 2016 agreement between President Xi and President Obama to not require the transfer of technology as a precondition of doing business in China.  See page 8 of the USTR 301 report above.

On November 20, 2018, before the G-20 meeting, the USTR issued the attached an interim report in the Section 301 case, USTR FULLL 301 Report Update.  The Update states, in part:

“USTR has undertaken this update as part of its ongoing monitoring and enforcement effort. In preparing this update, USTR has relied upon publicly available material, and has consulted with other government agencies. As detailed in this update, China fundamentally has not altered its acts, policies, and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation, and indeed appears to have taken further unreasonable actions in recent months.

Section II describes how China continues its policy and practice of conducting and supporting cyber-enabled theft and intrusions into the commercial networks of U.S. companies and those of other countries, as well as other means by which China attempts illegally to obtain information. This conduct provides the Chinese government with unauthorized access to intellectual property, including trade secrets, or confidential business information, as well as technical data, negotiating positions, and sensitive and proprietary internal business communications.

Section III describes how, despite the relaxation of some foreign ownership restrictions and certain other incremental changes in 2018, the Chinese government has persisted in using foreign investment restrictions to require or pressure the transfer of technology from U.S. companies to Chinese entities. Numerous foreign companies and other trading partners share U.S. concerns regarding China’s technology transfer regime.

Section IV describes China’s discriminatory licensing restrictions and how the United States has requested consultations and is pursuing dispute settlement under the WTO in China Certain Measures Concerning the Protection of Intellectual Property Rights (WT/DS542). China continues to maintain these discriminatory licensing restrictions.

Section V describes how, despite an apparent aggregate decline in Chinese outbound investment in the United States in 2018, the Chinese government continues to direct and unfairly facilitate the systematic investment in, and acquisition of, U.S. companies and assets by Chinese entities, to obtain cutting-edge technologies and intellectual property and generate large-scale technology transfer in industries deemed important by state industrial plans. Chinese outbound investment is increasingly focused on venture capital (VC) investment in U.S. technology centers such as Silicon Valley, with Chinese VC investment reaching record levels in 2018.

SECTION 301 PROCEDURES

As to the procedures in the Section 301 case, please see my October 1, 2018 blog post for a detailed explanation of the 301 case, three outstanding lists and opportunity to request a product exclusion request.  The three lists of tariffs cover $250 billion in imports from China.

CANADA’S ARREST OF HUAWEI CEO MENG WANZHOU—YOU CAN RUN BUT NOT HIDE FROM US EXTRADITION WARRANTS

As stated above, making the US China trade negotiations more difficult was the December 1st arrest of Huawei CEO, Ms. Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the founder, in Vancouver, Canada based on an extradition warrant from the United States for criminal offenses.

Although many Chinese officials took this action as a personal attack on China, when one digs down into the details, it becomes apparent that this action raises a major rule of law issue – bank fraud to get around Iran sanctions.

INTERNATIONAL EXTRADITION AND JUDGMENT AGREEMENTS ARE IMPORTANT

US judgments are not enforceable in China. Also, US extradition warrants are not enforceable in China.

With regards to the Huawei situation, one Hong Kong commentator complained that the United States is not arresting Chinese criminals in the US.  But the reason that the US does not arrest Chinese criminals is that the Chinese government has determined that it does not want to have an international agreement with the United States to allow for mutual enforcement of judgments or mutual extradition warrants for criminals.

Many Chinese commentators may believe that the China does not have to follow the international agreements that it signed because it is a developing country and/or the agreements are unequal treaties.  Other countries, such as US, Canada, EU, Japan, Korea, and even Taiwan, however, take these international agreements very seriously and understand the importance of a country keeping its word in international negotiations.

These countries have mutual agreements with the United States to enforce judgments and extradite criminals.  This is called the Rule of Law.

The United States does intend to extradite Chinese individuals, who break US laws, to face judgment in US courts.  As Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division stated on November 1, 2018 with regard to extraditing Chinese individuals for stealing US Intellectual Property:

“The Criminal Division fully supports the Attorney General’s initiative to counter Chinese economic aggression.   Every day, the Chinese engage in efforts to steal American trade secrets and commit other illegal acts intended to enrich their economy at the expense of American businesses. . . .

We see it time and again: Chinese actors have stolen wind turbine technology in Wisconsin, agricultural research in Kansas, cancer drug research in Pennsylvania, and software source code in New York.

Wherever we see examples of this kind of criminal behavior, the Department will investigate it and prosecute it to the fullest extent possible. We also will continue to work hard to ensure that offenders face justice in U.S. courts.

Our Office of International Affairs is the focal point for all extraditions around the globe. In just the past few years, the Department has successfully extradited nine Chinese individuals, including two for theft of trade secrets. Long prison terms for these offenders help to create much-needed deterrence. . . .”

Emphasis added.

US JUDGMENTS NOT ENFORCEABLE IN CHINA GIVE CHINESE COMPANIES AND INDIVIDUALS A FALSE SENSE OF SECURITY

But the Chinese government’s decision not to have any agreement with the United States or other countries with regards to the enforcement of judgments or extradition warrants also gives Chinese individuals a false sense of security.

The US government cannot touch me because I am in China Ha Ha.  Chinese companies, however, are no longer small or even medium companies in the Chinese countryside.  Many Chinese companies, such as Huawei, are multinational companies and in Huawei’s case with operations in over one hundred countries.  As soon as the Chinese individual takes a step out of China, however, he or she can be arrested.  You can run, but eventually you cannot hide from US extradition warrants and judgments.

Ms. Meng Wanzhou knew she was under criminal indictment in the United States.  She probably had even seen the indictment.  Ms. Meng also has a husband and several houses in Vancouver, Canada.  One of her children is going to school in Boston, Massachusetts.  As soon as Ms. Meng decided to visit her family outside of China, she is a target.  She, therefore, should have taken the criminal indictments very seriously.

Apparently, Huawei has now hired two very large US law firms to defend itself and hopefully Ms. Meng in the US.  Ms. Meng needs a very good US criminal lawyer because in all probability Canada will extradite Ms. Meng to face criminal proceedings.

THE CHARGES AGAINST HUAWEI AND MS. MENG ARE SERIOUS –BANK FRAUD AND VIOLATIONS OF IRAN SANCTIONS

One key point to keep in mind is that like ZTE, Huawei uses US semiconductor chips and other high technology in its products.  Selling Huawei phones to Iran with American semiconductor chips in them is a violation of the US law regarding exports to Iran.

On December 9, 2018, the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “Silicon Valley Helped Build Huawei Washington Could Dismantle It” stated that Silicon Valley giants, such as Intel, Broadcom and Qualcomm, are supplying $10 billion in high tech products, including semiconductor chips, every year.  As the article states:

“These interdependencies show how any U.S. actions against Huawei for alleged sanctions violations, which could go as far as a ban on it buying from American suppliers, could devastate Huawei’s operations, and curtail business for U.S. tech companies.”

Moreover, the key allegation against Ms. Meng is bank fraud.  As the Wall Street Journal explained on December 10th in an article entitled “Two British Banks Ensnared in Huawei Dispute”:

“To comply with banking and anti-money-laundering laws, banks must collect information from clients on their business and financial activities, and do additional due diligence and monitoring of high-risk clients. But in a twist to the usual narrative, the banks in this matter haven’t been accused of any wrongdoing and are instead portrayed as victims in court filings.

The court filings in Canada allege that at least three other global banks were misled by Huawei employees and representatives about the relationship between Huawei and Skycom.

One filing describes an August 2013 meeting and presentation by Ms. Meng to an executive at one bank—identified Friday as HSBC by Ms. Meng’s lawyer. Ms. Meng came to the meeting with an English interpreter and a PowerPoint presentation written in Chinese, and made a series of statements.

In an English translation delivered to the HSBC executive soon after, Ms. Meng stated in the presentation that Huawei complied with international sanctions laws and had sold shares it previously held in Skycom. The relationship was one of “normal business cooperation,” Ms. Meng stated, according to the filing.

Her lawyer said Friday the idea Ms. Meng engaged in fraud would be “hotly contested.”

As a fast-expanding telecom giant, Huawei’s access to global banks was paramount in helping it supply equipment across dozens of countries’ telecom networks. For the banks, the growing Chinese client produced a steady stream of fees. Dealogic data shows HSBC and Standard Chartered were two of Huawei’s biggest financing partners, with top roles on most of its $17 billion in loan and bond sales in the past decade. Citigroup Inc., Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd., DBS Group Holdings Ltd. and Bank of China were among the other main arrangers.  . . .

Canadian prosecutors said the alleged conspiracy between Ms. Meng and other Huawei representatives to mislead banks was driven by the company’s need to move money out of sanctioned countries through the international banking system.

In the court filings, authorities alleged that the misrepresentations by Huawei to banks “violated their internal policies, potentially violated U.S. sanctions laws and exposed the banks to the risk of fines and forfeiture.” Banks carried out transactions for Huawei through New York and Europe, exposing them to “serious harm” and decisions made without knowing Huawei’s true risk, the filings said.”

As the Wall Street Journal explained on December 10 in an article entitled “Arrest of Huawei CEO Hinges on Offshore Puzzle”:

“Ms. Meng said she had served on the Skycom board to ensure it complied with trade rules, according to newly released defense filings that cite the 2013 PowerPoint presentation to HSBC Holdings Ltd.

Ms. Meng’s lawyer said Friday that she and Huawei severed ties to Skycom in 2009 and can’t be held responsible for its activities in the years that followed.

U.S. prosecutors say Skycom remained under Huawei’s control; between 2010 and 2014, they say, Skycom was used as a front for Huawei’s dealings with Iran in an arrangement that duped banks into approving millions of dollars in transactions that violated sanctions.

Canadian officials arrested Ms. Meng, the 46-year-old daughter of Huawei’s billionaire founder Ren Zhengfei, on Dec. 1 at the request of the U.S., which is seeking her extradition to face multiple criminal charges that each carry up to 30 years in prison, a move that has enraged the Chinese government.  . . .

The case could hinge on a large piece of the Skycom puzzle: Who ultimately controlled the company after 2009?

The answer is shrouded in mystery in part because of the opaque ownership of Skycom during the time Ms. Meng served on its board. A Wall Street Journal examination of Hong Kong corporate records found that Canicula Holdings Ltd., a company registered in the Indian Ocean island nation of Mauritius, bought Skycom from a Huawei subsidiary in November 2007.  Canicula retained ownership until Skycom was dissolved last year. . .

Skycom was registered in Hong Kong in 1998 by people whose names matched those of Huawei executives, according to corporate records. The Chinese city is one of the world’s easiest places to set up businesses, allowing companies to register with minimal documentation in as fast as a day and for as little as a few hundred U.S. dollars.

Unlike some corporate havens, Hong Kong records show directors and provide other basic information.

In the decade before Ms. Meng joined, Skycom had six directors. The names of five of them and another person identified as an early shareholder match the names of executives who worked at Huawei.

By the time Ms. Meng was named director in 2008, corporate filings show that the shares in Skycom owned by Hua Ying Management Co. Ltd., a wholly owned unit of a Huawei investment company, had been transferred to Canicula.

Ms. Meng’s lawyers said Skycom was sold in 2009, without specifying who bought it. U.S. authorities said in their indictment against Ms. Meng that Huawei continued to control Skycom after that year, and that Skycom employees were also Huawei staffers. Skycom workers used Huawei email addresses and badges, official Skycom documents bore the Huawei logo, and multiple Skycom bank accounts were controlled by Huawei employees, court documents say.

Employees in Iran used different sets of stationery stating “Huawei” or “Skycom” for different business purposes, according to court documents.

The Wall Street Journal reported in 2011 that an employee at an accounting firm listed in Skycom’s Hong Kong records said Huawei owned the company.

In court documents including an extradition request to Canada, U.S. prosecutors allege that multiple banks engaged in millions of dollars of transactions between 2010 and 2014 that they wouldn’t have otherwise been involved with as a result of Ms. Meng’s misrepresentations.”

But who brought Huawei to the attention of the US government—Hong Kong Shanghai Bank Corp.  As stated in the December 6. 2018 Dow Jones Newsletter:

“A federally appointed overseer at HSBC Holdings PLC flagged suspicious transactions in the accounts of Huawei Technologies Co. to prosecutors seeking the extradition of the Chinese company’s finance chief, people familiar with the matter said.

A monitor charged with evaluating HSBC’s anti-money-laundering and sanctions controls in recent years relayed information about the Huawei transactions to federal prosecutors in the Eastern District of New York, the people said . . .

The Journal reported in April that the Justice Department had launched a criminal probe into Huawei’s dealings in Iran, following administrative subpoenas on sanctions-related issues from both the Commerce Department and the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

HSBC in 2012 agreed to pay the U.S. $1.9 billion and enter into a five-year deferred- prosecution agreement over its failure to catch at least $881 million in drug- trafficking proceeds laundered through its U.S. bank and for concealing transactions with Iran, Libya and Sudan to evade U.S. sanctions. . . .”

Now the other shoe is dropping as the Wall Street Journal reported on December 20, 2018 in an article entitled “Some Global Banks Break Ties with Huawei”, these same foreign banks are now severing ties with Huawei because there is simply too much risk:

“Huawei Technologies Co., targeted as a national security threat by the U.S. and other governments, faces a new risk: reduced access to the global financial system.

Two banks that helped power the Chinese company’s rise as a global technology supplier, HSBC Holdings and Standard Chartered PLC, won’t provide it with any new banking services or funding after deciding that Huawei is too high risk, people familiar with those decisions said.

While HSBC made its decision last year, Standard Chartered moved more recently as concerns about Huawei escalated this year from a Justice Department investigation into whether the company violated U.S. sanctions on Iran, some of the people said. . . .

Huawei, active in about 170 countries, relies on international banks to manage cash, finance trade and fund its operations and investments. For more than a decade, HSBC, Standard Chartered, and Citigroup plugged Huawei into the global financial system as it entered new markets, providing it with everything from foreign currencies to bond funding from Western investors. Chinese banks finance Huawei in some markets but don’t have the reach to service it globally.

Standard Chartered recently decided it had to sever business with Huawei, people familiar with the matter said. Its relationship with the company dates back to the 2000s, and includes providing regional and global cash pools that free up excess cash in local Huawei units and let it pay suppliers in multiple currencies.

HSBC stopped working with Huawei last year, people familiar with the matter said, after the bank and a court-appointed monitor flagged suspicious transactions by the company to U.S. prosecutors in 2016. According to Canada court filings, HSBC was one of at least four global banks that Ms. Meng or other Huawei executives allegedly misled about Huawei’s ties to Skycom Tech, a Hong Kong company operating in Iran. The bank is still a mortgage lender on two homes Ms. Meng and her husband own in Vancouver, according to Canada property records. . . .

Other banks that have provided funding or services to Huawei, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., Australia & New Zealand Banking Group Ltd. and ING Group NV, declined to comment on whether they would enter into new business. An ANZ spokesman said it takes its due diligence responsibilities very seriously and has detailed policies and processes in place for use when engaging clients. A spokesman for ING, whose subsidiary Bank Mendes Gans runs a cash pool for Huawei in Europe, said the bank takes its sanctions policy extremely seriously and continually assesses clients for risks.”

Indictments are very serious legal problems that cannot simply be ignored because the individual thinks he or she is a high level Chinese official and that will protect him or her from arrest. High Level Chinese Government and Companies do not get a pass from US and other countries laws and regulations because they are from China.

On December 17, 2018, the Canadian Press in an article entitled “Freeland says corners could not be cut with U.S. arrest request of Huawei exec” stated:

“Cutting corners to avoid arresting a Chinese executive at the request of the Americans simply was not an option to keep Canada out of a difficult political situation, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland said Monday.

In an interview with The Canadian Press, Freeland said that type of tactic would erode Canada’s commitment to the rule of law at a time when it is under threat across the globe.

“I think people need to be very careful when they start to suggest that corners be cut when it comes to the rule of   law and when it comes to international treaty obligations,” said Freeland.

“That is one of the core foundations of everything that’s great about our country, one of the core foundations of our democracy,” she added.

“It’s not an accident that among our heroes are the RCMP.” . . . .

Freeland rejected that notion outright, saying it would undermine Canada’s credibility with other countries, including Canada’s “extradition partners.”

The Chinese government and state-run media have vilified the Canadian decision to arrest Meng, and ridiculed the rule-of-law argument. U.S. President Donald Trump also undermined Canada’s position when he mused in  an interview last week he might intervene in the Meng case if it would help him get a trade deal with China.

“You might call it a slippery slope approach; you could call it a salad bar approach,” Freeland said. “The rule of law is not about following the rule of law when it suits you.”

But there are probably bigger political issues when it comes to Huawei.  On December 14th, Bill Bishop, a China expert, reported in his Sinocism Axios newsletter that there is a real campaign to kill Huawei’s operations in many countries.  Mr. Bishop cited to a December 13th article from the Sydney Morning Herald in Australia, entitled “How the “Five Eyes’ cooked up the campaign to Kill Huawei” which states:

“In the months that followed that July 17 dinner, an unprecedented campaign has been waged by those present – Australia, the US, Canada, New Zealand and the UK – to block Chinese tech giant Huawei from supplying equipment for their next-generation wireless networks. . . .

Not all agreed to speak publicly about China when they returned home, but all were determined to act. And the Five Eyes network would include allies like Japan and Germany in the conversation.

This coming in from the cold was viewed as a countermeasure to China and its many proxies, who have long argued fears over its rising power and influence were a fiction, or worse still, signs of xenophobia.

Since that July meeting there has been a series of rare public speeches by intelligence chiefs and a coordinated effort on banning Huawei from 5G networks. It began with one of Malcolm Turnbull’s last acts as Prime Minister.

The Sunday before he was deposed Turnbull rang the US President Donald Trump to tell him of Australia’s decision to exclude Huawei and China’s second largest telecommunications equipment maker ZTE from the 5G rollout.

Australia’s statement on the rules it would apply to building next-generation wireless networks was released on August 23 and largely lost in the leadership maelstrom.

Huawei was not named but it ruled out equipment being supplied by “vendors who are likely to be subject to extra judicial directions from a foreign government”. . . .

Washington’s sharp focus on Beijing plays into Trump’s obsession with trade wars but it would be wrong to think it’s solely driven by the President. Over the past two years Republicans and Democrats in Congress and the Departments of Defense, State and the security agencies have come to the conclusion China is a strategic threat.

US prosecutors have filed charges against Chinese hackers and, in an audacious sting in April, American agents lured Chinese Ministry of State Security deputy director Yanjun Xu to Belgium, where he was arrested for orchestrating the theft of military secrets.

There is also speculation further indictments are imminent over a concerted Chinese hacking campaign known as “Operation Cloud Hopper”, which is believed to have penetrated networks across the globe, including Australia.

In addition the White House used its bi-annual report on China, last month to say Beijing had “fundamentally” failed to change its behavior around cyber espionage giving it unfair access to intellectual property, trade secrets, negotiating positions and the internal communications of business.

The report added weight to revelations in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald the same week that China had diverted internet traffic heading to Sydney and its peak security agency had overseen a surge in attacks on Australian companies.

This industrial scale cyber theft is just part of a form guide which convinced the Five Eyes intelligence chiefs that Beijing would not hesitate to recruit Huawei to its cause and the company would have no choice but to comply.

All the evidence before the spy bosses at the dinner in Canada pointed to a rising superpower mounting the most comprehensive campaign of espionage and foreign interference that any had witnessed.

The Party was aggressively exporting a worldview that was hostile to democracy and actively sought to undermine it.

A new Great Game was afoot and the West had been slow to act. But it is acting now.”

Although the press has been focused on China cyber hacking US and other Western targets, what goes around comes around.  The Chinese government and companies must expect many other countries, including the US, EC, Australia, Canada, Japan and other countries, to be cyber hacking China.  How did the US government get internal company documents of ZTE to go after it for sales to Iran of US technology?  What evidence does the United States and other countries have on Huawei?

In n October 19, 2915, blog post . I made this point citing testimony of James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence under President Obama.  More specifically, 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 1 hour 8 minutes to 10 minutes.

In response to a 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.

But when the Chinese government cyber hacks US companies to obtain trade secrets and other intellectual property for commercial gain, that is another matter.  That is the core of the cyber hacking Agreement that President Xi and President Obama signed and the core of the Section 301 case.

But James Clapper’s testimony shows that when the Chinese government plays cyber hacking games, the US and many other governments will cyber hack China and its companies back and they are pretty good at it.  Huawei and ZTE are legitimate espionage targets because of their relationship to the Chinese military and their evasion of Iran Sanctions and US export control laws.

The US government, I am pretty sure, will cyber hack companies if it leads to a Justice Department indictment for criminal activity.  The US will not cyber hack to turn over commercial information to a US competitor, but they will cyber hack when it is in the interest of the US government to do so and that means criminal prosecution.  So, officials in those Chinese companies must take care.

And that brings us to the recent Justice Department indictments against Chinese individuals for cyber hacking for commercial gain.

MORE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INDICTMENTS AGAINST CHINESE GOVERNMENT’S CYBERHACKING AND IP THEFT

In my last blog post, I stated that although the Chinese government denies, denies and insists that Chinese companies do not steal US IP and then brags about stealing IP, the Justice Department disagrees and has taken these issues to another level—criminal investigations resulting in prison time.  On November 1, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new case and a new initiative to combat Chinese economic espionage for stealing IP on semiconductor technology from Micron.  The Justice Department statements related to those indictments are attached, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCEMENT IP THEFT SESSIONS ANNOUNCEMENT NEW CHINA INITIATIVE IP THEFT ANOTHER JUSTICE DEP ANNOUNCE IP THEFT.  This China initiative began under the Obama Administration and has bipartisan support.

On December 20th, the Justice Department raised the issue even higher issuing an attached announcement, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT INDICTMENT AGAINST CYBER HACKINGw, of new indictments stating:

Two Chinese Hackers Associated With the Ministry of State Security Charged with Global Computer Intrusion Campaigns Targeting Intellectual Property and Confidential Business Information

Defendants Were Members of the APT 10 Hacking Group Who Acted in Association with the Tianjin State Security Bureau and Engaged in Global Computer Intrusions for More Than a Decade, Continuing into 2018 . . . .

The unsealing of an indictment charging Zhu Hua (朱华), aka Afwar, aka CVNX, aka Alayos, aka Godkiller; and Zhang Shilong ( 张 士 龙 ), aka Baobeilong, aka Zhang Jianguo, aka Atreexp, both nationals of the People’s Republic of China (China), with conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft was announced today. . . .

Zhu and Zhang were members of a hacking group operating in China known within the cyber security community as Advanced Persistent Threat 10 (the APT10 Group).   The defendants worked for a company in China called Huaying Haitai Science and Technology Development Company (Huaying Haitai) and acted in association with the Chinese Ministry of State Security’s Tianjin State Security Bureau.

Through their involvement with the APT10 Group, from at least in or about 2006 up to and including in or about 2018, Zhu and Zhang conducted global campaigns of computer intrusions targeting, among other data, intellectual property and confidential business and technological information at managed service providers (MSPs), which are companies that remotely manage the information technology infrastructure of businesses and governments around the world, more than 45 technology companies in at least a dozen U.S. states, and U.S. government agencies. The APT10 Group targeted a diverse array of commercial activity, industries and technologies, including aviation, satellite and maritime technology, industrial factory automation, automotive supplies, laboratory instruments, banking and finance, telecommunications and consumer electronics, computer processor technology, information technology services, packaging, consulting, medical equipment, healthcare, biotechnology, pharmaceutical manufacturing, mining, and oil and gas exploration and production. Among other things, Zhu and Zhang registered IT infrastructure that the APT10 Group used for its intrusions and engaged in illegal hacking operations.

“The indictment alleges that the defendants were part of a group that hacked computers in at least a dozen countries and gave China’s intelligence service access to sensitive business information,” said Deputy Attorney General Rosenstein. “This is outright cheating and theft, and it gives China an unfair advantage at the expense of law-abiding businesses and countries that follow the international rules in return for the privilege of participating in the global economic system.”

“It is galling that American companies and government agencies spent years of research and countless dollars to develop their intellectual property, while the defendants simply stole it and got it for free” said U.S. Attorney Berman. “As a nation, we cannot, and will not, allow such brazen thievery to go unchecked.”

“Healthy competition is good for the global economy, but criminal conduct is not. This is conduct that hurts American businesses, American jobs, and American consumers,” said FBI Director Wray. “No country should be able to flout the rule of law – so we’re going to keep calling out this behavior for what it is: illegal, unethical, and unfair. It’s going to take all of us working together to protect our economic security and our way of life, because the American people deserve no less.”

“The theft of sensitive defense technology and cyber intrusions are major national security concerns and top investigative priorities for the DCIS,” said DCIS Director O’Reilly. “The indictments unsealed today are the direct result of a joint investigative effort between DCIS and its law enforcement partners to vigorously investigate individuals and groups who illegally access information technology systems of the U.S. Department of Defense and the Defense Industrial Base. DCIS remains vigilant in our efforts to safeguard   the integrity of the Department of Defense and its enterprise of information technology systems.”

According to the allegations in the Indictment unsealed today in Manhattan federal court . . . .

Over the course of the MSP Theft Campaign, Zhu, Zhang, and their co-conspirators in the APT10 Group successfully obtained unauthorized access to computers providing services to or belonging to victim companies located in at least 12 countries, including Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, India, Japan, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The victim companies included at least the following: a global financial institution, three telecommunications and/or consumer electronics companies; three companies involved in commercial or industrial manufacturing; two consulting companies; a healthcare company; a biotechnology company; a mining company; an automotive supplier company; and a drilling company.

The Technology Theft Campaign

Over the course of the Technology Theft Campaign, which began in or about 2006, Zhu, Zhang, and their coconspirators in the APT10 Group successfully obtained unauthorized access to the computers of more than 45 technology companies and U.S. Government agencies based in at least 12 states, including Arizona, California, Connecticut, Florida, Maryland, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Texas, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin. The APT10 Group stole hundreds of gigabytes of sensitive data and information from the victims’ computer systems, including from at least the following victims: seven companies involved in aviation, space and/or satellite technology; three companies involved in communications technology; three companies involved in manufacturing advanced electronic systems and/or laboratory analytical instruments;   a company involved in maritime technology; a company involved in oil and gas drilling, production, and processing; and the NASA Goddard Space Center and Jet Propulsion Laboratory.   In addition to those   victims who had information stolen, Zhu, Zhang, and their co-conspirators successfully obtained   unauthorized access to computers belonging to more than 25 other technology-related companies involved   in, among other things, industrial factory automation, radar technology, oil exploration, information technology services, pharmaceutical manufacturing, and computer processor technology, as well as the U.S. Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Finally, the APT10 Group compromised more than 40 computers in order to steal sensitive data belonging to the Navy, including the names, Social Security numbers, dates of birth, salary information, personal phone numbers, and email addresses of more than 100,000 Navy personnel.

*              *              *

Zhu and Zhang are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit computer intrusions, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison; one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison; and one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years in prison. . . .

INTERNATIONAL COALITION TO ISOLATE CHINA ON IP THEFT, FORCE TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER AND CYBER HACKING

As stated in my last blog post, although many Chinese and US commentators believe that the only country pushing back on China in the IP area is the United States, that simply is incorrect.   Many other countries are jumping on the Trump band wagon when it comes to IP violations by the Chinese government.

In fact, these US China trade negotiations are simply a prelude to negotiations China will have with many other countries.  The early 2000 process of China joining the WTO started, not with “multilateral” negotiations of China with many countries.  Instead, first China negotiated a WTO Agreement with the United States and then other countries, including the EC, negotiated a WTO agreement based in large part on the Agreement China had negotiated with the United States.

One should expect to see the same process here.  First China negotiates these issues with the United States and then with many other countries.

As mentioned in the last newsletter, on IP, China will face a united front against IP Theft, Forced Technology Transfer and Cyber Hacking by the US, EC, Canada, Mexico, Japan and probably Korea against it.

CHINESE GOVERNMENT NEEDS A TRADE DEAL BECAUSE MANY PROBLEMS IN THE CHINESE ECONOMY

One reason that the Chinese government has not linked the Meng/Huawei problem with the US trade negotiations is that President Xi and the Chinese government need a deal.  The Chinese economy is hurting, and the situation has gotten much worse and faster than anyone in China predicted.

As my last blog post stated, the Chinese economy appears to be changing from a private economy with a smaller state-owned economy to an economy dominated by State-Owned companies.  The Chinese saying has changed from Guo Tui Min Jin to Guo Jin Min Tui.

Private entrepreneurs in China are reportedly facing taxes as high as 60%.  When the private entrepreneurs cannot pay their taxes, the Government simply buys the company out and takes over.  80% of Chinese employees, however, are employed by the private sector.

Recently, the Chinese government has stated that in 2019 it will cut taxes and pour more money into the system.  But the problem is that many in China do not believe the Chinese government.

On December 20, 2018, in an article entitled, China stock market meddling will be reduced after bad year, vows Beijing” the South China Morning Post stated:

“Financial Stability and Development Commission, part of the People’s Bank of China, says the heavy hand of intervention will be replaced by the light touch China pledges to attract more funds into stocks after the market reported one of the world’s worst performances in 2018

China’s heavy-handed intervention in stock trading will cease and investment funds will be encouraged to buy into its equity market, as Beijing hopes to boost a stock market that has been among the world’s worst performers this year.

The Financial Stability and Development Commission, part of the People’s Bank of China, announced on Thursday that the world’s second largest economy must fully implement “market principles” to “reduce administrative intervention in stock trading”.

The decision followed a meeting with the country’s financial regulators and major banks, brokerage houses and fund managers, chaired by deputy central bank governor Liu Guoqiang.

The conference agreed that China must follow “international practices” to cultivate “medium- and long-term investors” as well as allow various new asset managers access to the capital market.

It was not enough to boost market sentiment immediately, as the benchmark Shanghai Composite Stock Index closed on Thursday at a two-month low.

Beijing’s efforts to draw fresh funds into stocks may not work, due to weakening confidence in China’s economic growth outlook, according to Hao Hong, managing director and head of research at Bocom International in Hong Kong.

“Beijing has eased the intensity of its crackdown on shadow banking, and has pumped ample liquidity into the interbank market. But the money is just circulating between banks [and not reaching the real economy],” he said.

“There is no sign of an economic rebound in the near term.”. . .  .

China’s benchmark Shanghai stock index has so far lost 25 per cent in 2018. Compared to its peak in the summer of 2015, the index has lost more than 50 per cent, and China’s stock market capitalization has fallen below that of Japan’s.

In fact, the Chinese stock market has fallen like a rock and many average Chinese simply do not trust it anymore.

On December 21, 2018 the Epoch Times in an article entitled “ China May Be Experiencing Negative GDP Growth” reported on a December 16 speech by Xiang Songzuo, Deputy Director and Senior Fellow of the Center for International Monetary Research at China’s Renmin University, who reportedly has stated that the Chinese stock market is looking like the US stock market in 1929 just before the Great Depression:

Xiang challenged the figure given by the National Bureau of Statistics, which claims that China’s rate of GDP growth is at 6.5 percent. According to some researches, Xiang said, the real growth rate could be just 1.67 percent, while more dismal estimates say that China’s economy is actually shrinking.

In his speech, Xiang said that the Chinese regime leadership had made major miscalculations, especially in terms of the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) stance in the Sino-U.S. trade war. He criticized propaganda slogans aired by Party- controlled mass media, such as “The Americans are lifting rocks only to have them smash on their own feet,” “China’s victory is assured,” or “China will stand and fight” as being overly confident and ignorant of the real difficulty that the country faces.

Beyond the CCP’s stubborn attitude towards U.S. demands, a second cause for the recent downturn in the Chinese economy was the severe hit to private enterprises this year, Xiang said. Private investment and investments into private enterprises have slowed sharply, severely impacting confidence among entrepreneurs.

Various official statements implying the eventual elimination of private business and property have reduced private sector confidence. This includes the idea, put forward by some Party-backed scholars, that the market economy has already fulfilled its role and should retreat in favor of planned, worker-owned economics.

Xiang said: “This kind of high-profile study of Marx and high-profile study of the Communist Manifesto, what was that line in the Communist Manifesto? The elimination of private ownership—what kind of signal do you think this sends to entrepreneurs?”

Chinese law, social governance, and state institutions are rife with their own problems, he said. Xiang noted that even on the 40th anniversary of China’s “reform and opening up”—the term of the economic reforms started by former CCP leader Deng Xiaoping—current leader Xi Jinping still had to explicitly suggest greater protections for individual and corporate property.

Xiang said that a huge challenge for China is the Sino-U.S. trade war. He believes that it is no longer a trade war, but a serious conflict between the Chinese and American systems of values. The China-U.S. relationship is at a crossroads, he said, and so far there has been no solution found to resolve their differences.

In the short term, China faces drops in consumption across the board, from auto sales to real estate. Exports are also hard-hit due to the trade war and the gradual shift in the global supply chain.

Xiang criticized the Chinese regime’s reliance on increasing domestic consumption in order to keep the economy growing. Falling investment cannot be offset by consumption.

Throughout 40 years of market economic reforms, Xiang said, Chinese consumption patterns have demonstrated five phases. The first was to satisfy the demand for basic necessities like food and clothing; the second to satisfy demand for the “three new must-have items” (watches, bicycles, and radio sets); the third to supply non-essential consumer goods; the fourth to match demand for automobiles, and the fifth being real estate consumption.

However, each of these phases have all but come to an end. The Chinese authorities are hard-pressed to stabilize the exchange rate, foreign exchange reserves, and housing prices, Xiang said. Given these challenges, it will be even more difficult to stabilize investment, exports, the stock market, and employment rate.

Xiang said that in the first three quarters of 2018 before October, corporate bond defaults have exceeded 100 billion yuan ($14.51 billion). According to official data, the corporate defaults will exceed 12 billion yuan ($1.74 billion) this year, while a large number of enterprises have gone bankrupt.

Cao Dewang, a Chinese billionaire entrepreneur and the chairman of Fuyao, one of the largest glass manufacturers in the world, said that now a large number of enterprises have closed, as well as state-owned enterprises. Bohai Steel Group Company Limited, one of the world’s top 500 enterprises, went bankrupt. Its liability ratio reached 192 billion yuan ($27.86 billion).

Surging local Chinese government debt is another source of crisis. According to the National  Audit Office, local authorities owed 17.8 trillion yuan ($2.58 trillion), but He Keng, deputy director of the Financial and Economic Affairs Committee with China’s National People’s Congress, said that the real figure is 40 trillion yuan (about $5.8 trillion).

Xiang warned that China’s poorly performing stock market has come to resemble conditions during the Wall  Street Crash of 1929.

The devastating Wall Street stock market crash lasted for more than a decade, with most stocks falling 80 or 90 percent, Xiang said. The stocks of 83 firms fell by over 90 percent, 1,018 fell by over 80 percent, 2,125 by over 70 percent, and 3,150 by around 50 percent.

While unsound regulatory policy has exacerbated the problems, Xiang does not believe they are the underlying cause of the developing crash.

“Look at our profit structure,” he said. “Frankly speaking, China’s listed companies don’t really make money. Then who has taken the few profits made by China’s more than 3,000 listed companies? Two-thirds have been taken by the banking sector and real estate. The profits earned by 1,444 listed companies on the SME board and growth enterprise board are not even equal to one and half times the value of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China. How can this kind of stock market become a bull market?”

Xiang made reference to a report comparing the profitability of Chinese and U.S. companies. American listed companies are in the billions, but among numerous Chinese tech and manufacturing companies, only one—Huawei—had profits in excess of $10 billion, but it was not a listed company.

The root problem concerning the Chinese economy, Xiang said, was that the majority of Chinese businesses rely on arbitrage, or taking advantage of price differences between markets, to make profits.

Official data claims that in the past ten years, IPOs (initial public offerings or stock market launches) have increased by more than 9 trillion yuan ($1.31 trillion), Xiang said. “Forty percent of it went to the stock market, speculation, and financial companies, but not investment into main businesses. Then can this be considered a good situation for listed businesses? Now you can say goodbye to the equity pledges, game over.”

“I’m acquainted with many bosses of listed companies. Frankly speaking, quite a few of them didn’t use their equity pledge funds to do real business, but just play at arbitrage,” he said. “They have many tricks: our listed companies buy financial management firms and housing. The government makes official announcements saying that our listed companies invested one to two trillion yuan in real estate. Basically China’s economy is all dealing with virtual money, and everything is overleveraged.”

“Starting in 2009, China embarked on a path of no return. The leverage ratio has soared sharply. Our current leverage ratio is three times that of the United States and twice that of Japan. The debt ratio of non-financial companies is the highest in the world, not to mention real estate,” he said.

As the economic downturn pressure is huge, the authorities have resorted to their old methods: loosening monetary policy, employing radical credit schemes, loosening fiscal policies, and using radical capital policies, said Xiang.

However, he thinks that the short-term adjustment of credit and currency cannot fundamentally solve the economic imbalances and gaps in development mentioned above.

“We are still trapped within the box of the old policy,” he said. “The key to whether transformation will be successful is the vitality of private enterprises—that is, whether policy can stimulate corporate innovation. We have been making a game of credit and monetary tools for so many years; isn’t this the reason we are saddled with so many troubles today? Speculation has driven housing prices so high.”

The core challenge facing private enterprises is not financing difficulty, though there are problems in this area, Xiang said. The fundamental problem is fear of unstable government policy.

“The leaders in the State Council said it clearly in the meeting of the Standing Committee: in China, the government is what can be least trusted. Therefore, in order to solve the debt problem, first, the debts that the government owes businesses need to be resolved, followed by the problem of state-owned enterprises owing private enterprises, and then that of large private enterprises owing smaller ones,” he said.”

Mr. Xiang’s speech dovetails what I have heard from friends who recently returned from China.  Their friends in China have told them that management in China companies has been telling its workers to be prepared to “chi ku” eat bitter, for the next ten years because of the poor economy and save their money.  Saving money in China does not result in increased consumption.

The problem with the Chinese government’s policy of stealing Intellectual Property is it sends a very clear message to Chinese entrepreneurs and its own inventors—your work, your inventions mean nothing because everything is owned by the State.  With Chinese scientists on average being paid $85,000 a year from the South China Morning Post and a campaign of belittling intellectual property, how can China grow and prosper?

That is the real problem facing China.  The Chinese government needs a trade deal before true disaster hits.

QUARTZ SURFACE PRODUCTS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES—ITC QUESTIONNAIRES

We are in the process of representing a substantial number of US importers and fabricators, US producers of downstream products, in the Quartz Surface Products from China Antidumping and Countervailing Duty case.  Quartz Surface Products are used to produce kitchen countertops, shower stalls and many other downstream products.

The Commerce Department recently issued a critical circumstances determination exposing thousands of importers to millions of dollars in liability and bankruptcy in a situation in which the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) goes no critical circumstances in over 90% of the cases.

Cambria, the Petitioner in the case, has taken the position that it not only represents the producers of the slab, the raw material, but also all the producers of the downstream products, the fabricators.  We have learned that there are more than 4,000 fabricators of the downstream producers with 1000s of jobs at stake.  Cambria essentially argues that it is the sole representative of an industry with more than 4,000 companies.

Cambria’s objective in this case is very clear—drive up the prices of the raw material so as to drive out the fabricators, the downstream producers, all 4,000 of them.  We are working to include the fabricators in the domestic industry, but the fabricators have to be willing to answer the ITC questionnaires so as to have their voices heard.

Attached are the ITC questionnaires in the case, Foreign producers–Quartz surface products (F) US importers–Quartz surface products (F) US producers–Quartz surface products (F) Questionnaire Transmittal Letter QSP US purchasers–Quartz surface products (F)to my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com.

If anyone would like help with these questionnaires, please feel free to contact me.

If anyone has any questions about the Section 301 case, the trade war with China, IP Protection, Huawei problem, the Quartz Surface Products case, antidumping or countervailing duty law, customs laws and any other trade or customs questions, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

https://uctradewar.contact2client.com/6102-2/

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP’S TRADE WAR AGAINST DOWNSTREAM INDUSTRIES, SECTION 232 CASES STEEL AND ALUMINUM, SECTION 201 CASE SOLAR CELLS, BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES, NAFTA AND 337

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR MAY 26, 2017

Dear Friends,

This blog post is coming out very late because I have been very busy with so many trade cases being filed.  In fact, this is the most trade cases I have seen in my lifetime filed in such a short period.  Every day there seems to be another trade case.

For the last two weeks I have been intensely involved in an antidumping and countervailing duty case on mechanical tubing.  We are representing auto parts companies, which have warned the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) if they go affirmative and find injury in the case, in all probability the companies will close their US operations and move offshore.  The US producers bringing the petition want to force auto parts companies to buy their commodity mechanical tubing, which is sold to the oil & gas industry and goes down a hole.  The auto industry needs made to order mechanical tubing as their raw material because of the advanced designs and safety requirements in the United States.

If the United States is going to block raw materials, US downstream industries will have no choice.  They will move offshore to obtain the high quality raw materials they need to not only be competitive but also produce high quality safe auto parts.  In this first article below, one can read directly the public statements of these auto parts producers to the ITC.

Meanwhile, Trump is increasing the trade war.  Throughout the Presidential campaign, Trump threatened to put tariffs on many different products.  With Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross, President Trump has discovered Section 232 National Security cases against Steel and Aluminum.  There are no checks on the President’s power in Section 232 cases.  No check at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), the Courts or the WTO.  Once the Commerce Department issues a report, then Trump has the power to impose tariffs or other remedies.

If you look at the link to the Commerce Department hearing in the Section 232 Steel case, at the end of the hearing you will hear numerous downstream companies telling Commerce to exclude their products and if they cannot get the imported steel, their companies will close.

Meanwhile, numerous antidumping and countervailing duty cases have been filed against aluminum foil, tool chests, biodiesel, tooling and aircraft just to name a few.  As described below, Trump has found his Trade War, but the real victim in this trade war may be US downstream industries.

In addition to two Section 232 cases, Suniva has filed a Section 201 case against imports of solar cells from every country.  The main targets appear to be third world countries where Chinese companies have moved their production facilities and Canada and Mexico.  The ironic point of this filing is that Solar World, the company that brought the original Solar Cells and Solar products cases against China, has now become insolvent and just today announced that it is supporting the petition.  Companies that were buying solar cells from Solar World all of a sudden cannot get the solar cells they paid for because of the insolvency.

Maybe this is why Trade Adjustment Assistance to Companies is so important.  With TAA, Solar World might have been saved with no damage to the US Polysilicon industry.  But despite the fact that section 201 requires US companies to submit adjustment plans and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers are the real trade adjustment experts, President Trump has zeroed out the Trade Adjustment Centers in his budget.  Apparently all President Trump wants to do is to put up protectionist walls to protect US companies and industries, rather than make them more competitive.  Very short sighted.

On the Trade Policy side, with protectionist walls appear to be going up.  Lighthizer was just confirmed as USTR and immediately plunged into NAFTA negotiations.  USTR Lighthizer has pledged to protect agriculture in the negotiations.

The only good news is that when Trump released his Tax Plan, border adjustment taxes were not part of the proposal.  But in a recent hearing before the House Ways and Means, one could tell Congressmen are split, but Republicans want border adjustment taxes.  On May 23rd, however, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told House Democrats on Ways and Means that he and President Trump are opposed to the Border Adjustment tax.

One interesting note is that Trump’s proposal to cut corporate taxes to 15% has China scared.  Chinese companies could move to the US to set up production

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR

With the number of trade cases being filed, including the Section 232 cases against Steel and Aluminum, which give President Trump carte blanche authority to issue tariffs and other import restrictions, the President truly is creating a trade war.  Trump’s threat to kill NAFTA scared Canada and Mexico to come to the table.  One of the reasons for Trump’s threat is the Canadian threat not to drop its barriers to US dairy exports.

One Canadian Parliament member threatened President Trump not to get so tough on trade.  The member should understand that such threats play right into the hands of Donald Trump and his argument that NAFTA is not truly a free trade agreement.

But all these threats and trade cases will make it very difficult to conclude trade agreements. In looking at Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s plan to get to 3% GDP increase, one pillar of the plan is increased exports.  Exports, however, will not increase if there is a trade war, and it sure looks like that is going to happen.

From January 1, 2017 through March 31, 2017, the GDP was an anemic 0.7%.  Trump has to change that dramatically and deciding to have a trade war with every country is not the way to change the GDP number.

In fact, all these trade cases could be the Achilles heal of Trump’s Economic policy.  Trump’s carrots to encourage domestic industry, including lowering taxes and cutting regulations, are not the issue.  Protectionist walls to try and protect raw material industries, however, will have an opposite effect because of the collateral damage these orders will have on US downstream producers, which use these raw material inputs.  As Ronald Reagan stated, “Protectionism becomes destructionism; it costs jobs.”  But protectionism is not a partisan issue, as the only one more protectionist than President Trump may be the Democratic party.

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR ON DOWNSTREAM INDUSTRIES—COLD DRAWN MECHANICAL TUBING

To understand the real impact of the Trump Steel War on downstream industries, including the US auto parts and automobile industries, read the quotes below.  The Automobile Industry is going to be hit hard.

On April 19, 2017, ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, PTC Alliance Corp., Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc. (collectively, “Petitioners”) filed an antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) petition against imports of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from China, Germany, India, Italy, Korea and Switzerland.

Cold-drawn mechanical tubing can be sold as a commodity product to be used in the oil & gas, mining, agricultural and construction industries.  Certain types of mechanical tubing are also sold as commodity products to the auto industry to produce axles and drive shafts, but there is another segment of the auto parts industry, which produces specialized automotive products.  Because of US safety requirements, the specialized auto products companies need made to order mechanical tubing.  They cannot simply buy mechanical tubing off the shelf.  Petitioners, however, want the auto parts companies to buy their commodity products.

In order to win the antidumping and the countervailing duty case, Petitioners must establish dumping and subsidization at the Commerce Department and injury to the U.S. industry at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  Once the petition was filed, the ITC immediately started up its 45 day preliminary injury investigation.   On May 10, 2017, the ITC held a hearing in Washington DC in the preliminary investigation and then we submitted a post-conference brief.

We represent in the case importers and two US auto parts companies. The importers, including these specialized auto parts companies, are very worried because the Commerce Department preliminary determinations, which will be issued very soon on September 16, 2017 (“CVD)” and November 15, 2017 (“AD”),  are when their liability begins.  With the Trump Administration and the Commerce Department’s war on steel imports, the duties are expected to be very high.  This is especially true with regard to China since Commerce does not use actual Chinese prices and costs to determine dumping.  Like many downstream customers in US AD and CVD cases, the customers are telling the ITC that they may have to close production and move offshore to get access to the higher quality competitive raw steel products.  Our hope is that the ITC will listen to these arguments, but to date the ITC has ignored them.  End users do not have standing in AD and CVD cases at the ITC.

As stated in our ITC postconference brief:

“The Petitioners/US mechanical tubing industry in this case will recover as their commodity markets in the energy, agricultural, mining and machinery markets recover.  But since antidumping and countervailing duty orders stay in place for 5 to 30 years, the impact of this case on the US downstream auto part and automobile industries will last for many years.

If the Commission goes affirmative in this case, we will see many auto parts producers close shop and move to another country where they can buy the high quality mechanical tubing that they need to compete with the loss of thousands of US jobs.  Many of these companies, including voestalpline Rotec Inc., already have operations in Canada, Mexico and through their parent company in numerous other countries and they will move their operations to obtain the high quality raw materials that they need to safely compete in the downstream auto parts market.”

As Andrew Ball, President, of voestalpine Rotec in Lafayette, Indiana stated at the Preliminary Conference:

“Our customers will not allow a change in the supply base, and this material is absolutely not available from these U.S. producers, thus making the decision to move equipment to other countries or procuring the completed components from our other global facilities in Austria, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Poland a likely outcome.

With so much discussion surrounding trade imbalance, it is ironic that because of this case, we as a U.S. manufacturer will be forced to relocate millions of dollars of manufacturing equipment with significant loss of U.S. jobs for specialty high value, highly engineered components because several commodity U.S. producers are determined to ignore market realities.

I can say with a high degree of certainty that none of the petitioners will see one extra pound, not one single foot of material as a result of this action.  I am certain, however, that companies like ours and our customers will accelerate the relocation of domestic manufacturing to other countries, and all this business will flow in NAFTA region as semi-finished components, thus avoiding the dumping duty altogether. . . .

I simply cannot ignore the reality that the automotive industry waits for no one and for nothing.  To highlight this point, in 2013 our facility took a direct hit from an F-3 tornado, obliterating 30 percent of our manufacturing capacity.  Within 48 hours, we had the rest of the facility fully operational and with the help of our international partners and domestic competition, we had the balance of our business sourced and supplying parts to assembly facilities throughout the world within four days. Not one single production line was affected as a result. . . .

That was a natural disaster.  This one is man-made, and I can assure you that in 45 days if this case is not dismissed, these actions will accelerate the market forces already working against our U.S. manufacturing base and will either force our hand or the hand of our customers to move business overseas in many places closer to the customer locations in Mexico, to ensure the continuity of cost, quality and service, resulting in the loss of precious U.S. manufacturing jobs, future investment and all but killing the chances of fixing the trade imbalance.”

As Andrew Ball further stated in the ITC Postconference brief:

“This petition puts at risk our factory, our jobs and the factories and jobs of our US customers and subcontractors. Increases to prices that are already considered high in the global market will result in our customers resourcing our business to other suppliers or will force them to insist that we move equipment to other locations in the world to avoid this unjustified action. I was always raised that before I ask for help it was expected that I had done everything I could to help myself. Why then have none of the petitioners made sales calls to my organization looking to reform or start a partnership ahead of this action? Unfortunately, if you vote affirmative, resource decisions will be taken well ahead of the final DOC determination for risk mitigation purposes. I trust that you will analyze all details in this case and make your determination based on clear “facts and data.”

Another auto parts company stated in the brief:

We have fixed contracts with our vendors and customers, so any increase in piece price will be countered by evaluating the region that we manufacture products in or may require that we look at bringing in the  components from other countries. If your vote is affirmative then we will be making these decisions ahead of  the determination by the DOC in September as the risk is too high to wait.

If these auto parts component companies do not move, their customers, the auto parts producers, which are multi-nationals, will move because auto parts companies cannot buy commodity products when safety issues are a concern.  Product Liability cases can bankrupt an auto parts producer.

In her statement at the Preliminary Conference, Julie Ellis, President of Tube Fabrication of Logansport, Indiana echoed Andrew Ball’s statement:

The impact of this case on downstream manufacturing operations will result in the loss of thousands of jobs, maybe even more jobs than those saved by the case.  If we are unable to provide our customers with tube components at a competitive global price, they will be forced to move production from the United States to other countries.

Most of our customers already have global operations in place and have the ability to divert the production away from the U.S. locations to remain competitive.  The loss of business would not only impact businesses like TFI, but coating facilities, plating operations, heat treating, tool and die shops, machine shops, testing facilities, transportation companies, along with our customers’ U.S. facilities, and further downstream manufacturing.

In other words, in response to this petition, we fear that U.S. automotive companies will simply shift and procure the final parts with the tubes in them from multiple overseas operations.  From our point of view, this case will not result in any more tubes being switched to U.S. producers.  Instead, it will simply be a lose-lose situation.

TFI is representative of many U.S. producers at a comparable level of U.S. production.  The inability of Tube Fabrication and other companies in similar situations to remain competitive will result in a tremendous loss of jobs in the U.S. downstream manufacturing sector.  We will be forced to either move portions of our operations to Mexico, where we currently ship 20 percent of the components that we manufacture in the United States and/or cut USW jobs and benefits.

In her statement attached to the Brief, Julie Ellis states:

This is a rural community with limited manufacturing operations. We are an asset to the local economy, pay our taxes and provide community support. Thru the years we have watched as many of the local manufacturing companies have closed up operations and moved to Mexico and overseas. The inability of Tube Fabrication and other companies in similar situations, to remain competitive, could result in a tremendous loss of jobs in the downstream US manufacturing sector. It could potentially equate to thousands of people being displaced. We must have the ability to procure our raw materials at a competitive global price or we will lose business! As I said in my statement at the hearing, 20% of the components that we manufacture ship to Mexico. Please don’t force us to be the next ones to go!

Petitioners argue that respondents are simply exaggerating the problem and that the issue is simply dumped low import prices.  But in this case, the issue is not just price; it is quality.  As one importer, Salem Steel, stated at the Preliminary Conference, the same scenario played out as a result of the Section 201 Steel case, where many steel products were shut out of the US market:

“This scenario has happened before. One widely quoted study by Dr. Joseph Francois and Laura Baughman of Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC showed that as a result of Section 201 investigation brought at the behest of the U.S. steel industry, 200,000 Americans lost their jobs to higher steel prices in 2002.

More Americans lost their jobs to higher steel prices in 2002 than the total number employed by the entire steel industry itself in the U.S.  Every U.S. state experienced employment losses from higher steel costs, with the highest losses occurring in California, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.”

In the attached Trade Partnership article, STEEL USERS ARTICLE1, Dr. Joseph Francois and Laura Baughman state at page 1 and 2 of their article that as a result of the Section 201 trade restrictions on steel:

“200,000 Americans lost their jobs to higher steel prices during 2002. These lost jobs represent approximately $4 billion in lost wages from February to November 2002.

One out of four (50,000) of these job losses occurred in the metal manufacturing, machinery and equipment and transportation equipment and parts sectors.

Job losses escalated steadily over 2002, peaking in November (at 202,000 jobs), and slightly declining to 197,000 jobs in December.

More American workers lost their jobs in 2002 to higher steel prices than the total number employed by the U.S. steel industry itself (187,500 Americans were employed by U.S. steel producers in December 2002).

Every U.S. state experienced employment losses from higher steel costs, with the highest losses occurring in California (19,392 jobs lost), Texas (15,826 jobs lost), Ohio (10,553 jobs lost), Michigan (9,829 jobs lost), Illinois (9,621 jobs lost), Pennsylvania (8,400 jobs lost), New York (8,901 jobs lost) and Florida (8,370 jobs lost). Sixteen states lost at least 4,500 steel consuming jobs each over the course of 2002 from higher steel prices. . . .

Steel tariffs caused shortages of imported product and put U.S. manufacturers of steel-containing products at a disadvantage relative to their foreign competitors. In the absence of the tariffs, the damage to steel consuming employment would have been significantly less than it was in 2002.

The analysis shows that American steel consumers have borne heavy costs from higher steel prices caused by shortages, tariffs and trade remedy duties, among other factors. Some customers of steel consumers have moved sourcing offshore as U.S. producers of steel-containing products became less reliable and more expensive. Other customers refused to accept higher prices from their suppliers and forced them to absorb the higher steel costs, which put many in a precarious (or worse) financial condition. The impact on steel-consuming industries has been significant.”

But the remedy in the Section 201 case lasts from three to five years and in the Section 201 Steel case, President Bush lifted the restraints on Steel imports sooner because of the very damaging impact on downstream users.  Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders stay in place for five to thirty years.

The experience of downstream users in the Mechanical Tubing case reflects the experience of many downstream users in steel cases, such as the recent AD and CVD cases against Carbon Steel Wire Rod.  There are real costs that will be borne by US downstream companies and their employees because of this Mechanical Tubing trade case and any AD and CVD orders that are issued.  The Commission should have learned the same lesson from its AD order on Magnesium from China, which has been in place for more than ten years.  This AD Order protects a one company US industry in Utah, but it has led to the demise of the entire US Magnesium dye casting industry and the movement of many light weight auto parts companies to Canada.  But since downstream industries have no standing in an AD and CVD cases and there is no part of the injury provision to take this collateral damage into account, although downstream industries can testify at the ITC, in fact, they have no voice.

As Andrew Ball of voestalpine Rotec stated at the Preliminary Conference, ”I simply cannot ignore the reality that the automotive industry waits for no one and for nothing.”  With Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders staying in place for 5 to 30 years, if the Commission does not look at market realities, many, many US auto parts companies will close down and move to a third countries.  The real result of this Mechanical Tubing case brought by the Petitioners could well be to hollow out the US auto parts industry and lead to the destruction of the Petitioners’ US customers.

This is the real cost of the Trump trade war—thousands of jobs lost in downstream industries.

SECTION 232 INVESTIGATIONS  — STEEL AND ALUMINUM

In response to pressure from President Trump, Commerce Secretary Ross has self-initiated National Security cases under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, 19 U.S.C. 1862, against imports of steel and aluminum, which go directly into downstream US production.  The danger of these cases is that there is no check on Presidential power if the Commerce Department finds that steel or aluminum “is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security, the Secretary shall so advise the President”.  The Secretary shall also advise the President on potential remedies.

If the Secretary reports affirmatively, the President has 90 days to determine whether it concurs with the Secretary’s determination and “determine the nature and duration of the action that, in the judgment of the President, must be taken to adjust the imports of the article and its derivatives so that such imports will not threaten to impair the national security.”

Once the President makes his affirmative determination, he will report his decision to Congress.  According to the Statute, on Petroleum and Petroleum products, the Congress can disapprove the decision, but there is no reference to Steel or Aluminum so it is questionable whether Congress can overrule the President in these cases.   The statute also does not provide for any appeal to the Court of International Trade.  Commerce also is very protectionist and in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, the only check is the injury determination by the independent US International Trade Commission.  There is no such determination under Section 232.

Moreover, in these Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases, it is questionable how much weight Commerce will give to comments or testimony by downstream raw material users.  This is dangerous because tariffs on steel products may cause real harm to the downstream automobile industry, which is important for National Security too.

STEEL

On April 20, 2017, President Trump and the Commerce Department in the attached press announcement and fact sheet along with a Federal Register notice, Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Steel on U.S, Presidential Memorandum Prioritizes Commerce Steel Investigation, COMMERCE FED REG SECTION 232 NOTICE, announced the self-initiation of a Section 232 National Security case against imports of steel from every country.  See video of Trump signing the Executive Order with Secretary Ross and Steel Producers at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiVfNOl-_Ho.

Commerce held a hearing on May 24th in this case.  The video of the hearing can be found at https://www.commerce.gov/file/public-hearing-section-232-investigation-steel-imports-national-security.  Witnesses were given five minutes each to make their concerns known.  Written comments are due at the Commerce Department on May 31st.

At the hearing, Secretary Ross stated that a written report would go to the President by the end of June.

At the end of the hearing, several downstream users asked Commerce to exclude certain steel products from any remedy in the Section 232 case.  Counsel for the Steel Importers warned Commerce about retaliation against US exports of military products, including airplanes and agriculture products.

At the start of the hearing, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said something has to be done to help the Steel producers.  In the past Secretary Ross has stated that the Section 232 case is meant to fill the gaps created by the patchwork of antidumping and countervailing duties on foreign steel, which he said have provided only limited relief to the U.S. industry:

“It’s a fairly porous system and while it has accomplished some fair measure of reduction, it doesn’t solve the whole problem.  So we are groping here to see whether the facts warrant a more comprehensive solution that would deal with a very wide range of steel products and a very wide range of countries.”

At the Trump Press Conference, Ross stated:

I am proud to stand here today and say that, under your leadership, we are restoring the primacy of American national security, American workers, and American businesses.

For years, we have simply reacted to over 150 cases of improper imports of foreign steel into this country. With our investigation launched last night, the federal government will finally become proactive.

This investigation will help ensure steel import issues do not make us less safe in a world that is increasingly fraught with geopolitical tensions.

The sheer volume of steel trade cases makes it clear that global steel overcapacity has an impact on our economy, but for the first time we will examine its impact on our national security.

We will conduct this investigation thoroughly and expeditiously so that we can fully enforce our trade laws and defend this country against those who would do us harm.

I look forward to the completion of this investigation so that I can report not just the findings, but also any concrete solutions that we may deem appropriate.

Under section 232 the Commerce Department will determine whether steel imports “threaten to impair” national security.  Commerce must issue its findings to the White House within 270 days, along with recommendations on what steps to take.

But Ross said that the investigation may move along a quicker track, citing the abundance of steel data the U.S. already has on hand from its past investigations as well as a memorandum from President Donald Trump that calls for the agency to expedite the process.  In fact, at the hearing, Secretary Ross stated that a report to the President will be issued by the end of June.

Once Commerce’s review is completed, the president has 90 days to decide whether to accept or reject its recommendations. The statute gives the administration wide latitude to act, including raising tariffs

Secretary Ross further stated in the past:

“We will conduct this investigation thoroughly and expeditiously so that, if necessary, we can take actions to defend American national security, workers, and businesses against foreign threats.  This investigation will help determine whether steel import issues are making us less safe in a world that is increasingly fraught with geopolitical tensions.”

While the use of Section 232 is rare, the actual deployment of tariffs under the 1962 law is even rarer. Commerce last conducted a Section 232 probe of iron and steel in 2001, but ultimately decided that the goods posed no national security threat, and no further action was taken.

The last time an administration forged ahead with import relief under the law was 1975, when President Gerald Ford hiked license fees and other charges on shipments of imported petroleum during the throes of the mid-70s oil crisis. President Richard Nixon also used Section 232 to impose an across-the-board 10 percent surcharge program in 1971.

But with the new protectionist outlook of the Trump Administration, the huge steel overcapacity in China, and the fact that there are no checks under section 232, this action could definitely result in tariffs, quotas and other trade remedies.

ALUMINUM

On April 27, 2017, President Trump and the US Commerce Department self-initiated a Section 232 National Security case against imports of aluminum from all countries.  Attached are documents related to the Case, ALUMINUM FED REG PUBAluminum Presidential Memo Summary.  The hearing will be June 22, 2017 at the Commerce Department.  The Presidential Memorandum issued on April 27th provides:

This Presidential Memorandum (PM) directs the Secretary of Commerce to investigate, in accordance with the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the effects on national security of aluminum imports.

During this investigation, the Secretary will consider the following:

The domestic production of aluminum needed for projected national defense requirements.

The capacity of domestic industries to meet such requirements.

The existing and anticipated availabilities of the human resources, products, raw materials, and other supplies and services essential to the national defense.

Recognize the close relation of the Nation’s economic welfare to our national security, and consider the effect of foreign competition in the aluminum industry on the economic welfare of domestic industries.

Consider any substantial unemployment, decrease in government revenues, loss of skills or investment, or other serious effects resulting from the displacement of any domestic products by excessive aluminum imports.

The Secretary shall conduct this investigation with speed and efficiency in order to find if aluminum is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security.

If the above is deemed true, the Secretary shall recommend actions and steps that should be taken to adjust aluminum imports so that they will not threaten to impair the national security.

Although Secretary Ross wants to expedite the case, there are rumors that many investigators and other staff in Import Administration have now been moved to work on the Section 232 cases.  With an enormous number of antidumping and countervailing duty cases along with two large Section 232 cases, Commerce staff will be stretched very thin.

SOLAR AD AND CVD CASES DID NOT WORK SO LET’S TRY A SECTION 201 ESCAPE CLAUSE CASE

Just recently, Solar World, the company that brought the Solar Cells and Solar Products antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China, announced that it was going into insolvency.  The bottom line is that the antidumping and countervailing duty orders against solar cells and solar products from China did not save Solar World, but they did result in substantial damage to the upstream US Polysilicon industry.  Because of the US action, China brought its own antidumping and countervailing duty case against $2 billion in US Polysilicon exported to China.  REC Silicon in Moses Lake, Washington got hit with a 57% antidumping duty, deferred a $1 billion investment into Moses Lake, and in November 2016 laid off 70 workers in Moses Lake and cut their capacity in half.

On May 17, 2017, Suniva filed a Section 201 Escape Clause against all Solar Cell imports from all countries at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  On May 23, 2017, in the attached Federal Register notice, ITC iNITIATION NOTICE SOLAR CELLS, the ITC decided to go ahead and institute the case.  If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, within 60 days the President must decide whether or not to impose import relief, which can be in the form of increased tariffs, quotas or an orderly marketing agreements.

By the way, in its determination to the President the ITC is to report any assistance given companies under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program, the only government program that truly saves US companies.  President Trump, however, in his recent budget proposal completely zeroed out the TAA for Companies program.  More about this below.  Directly contrary to President Reagan, President Trump does not want to make US companies more competitive so that they can compete; he wants to put up protectionist walls.

The main targets of the Petition are not imports from China, but imports from third countries.  In response to the antidumping and countervailing duty orders, many Chinese companies moved to third countries and set up production there.

SCOPE OF THE 201 INVESTIGATION

The articles covered by this investigation are CSPV cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including, but not limited to, modules, laminates, panels, and building-integrated materials.

The investigation covers crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells of a thickness equal to or greater than 20 micrometers, having a p/n junction (or variant thereof) formed by any means, whether or not the cell has undergone other processing, including, but not limited to cleaning, etching, coating, and/or addition of materials (including, but not limited to, metallization and conductor patterns) to collect and forward the electricity that is generated by the cell.

Included in the scope of the investigation are photovoltaic cells that contain crystalline silicon in addition to other photovoltaic materials. This includes, but is not limited to, passivated emitter rear contact (“PERC”) cells, heterojunction with intrinsic thin-layer (“HIIT”) cells, and other so-called “hybrid” cells.

Excluded from the investigation are CSPV cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, if the CSPV cells were manufactured in the United States.

Also excluded from the scope of the investigation are crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, not exceeding 10,000mm in surface area, that are permanently integrated into a consumer good whose function is other than power generation and that consumes the electricity generated by the integrated crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell. Where more than one cell is permanently integrated into a consumer good, the surface area for purposes of this exclusion shall be the total combined surface area of all cells that are integrated into the consumer good.

SECTION 201 PROCEDURES IN SOLAR CELL CASE

At the ITC, Section 201 cases are a two stage process.  The ITC must first determine whether “crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) cells (whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products) are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or the threat thereof, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported articles.”  The ITC has determined that the investigation is “extraordinarily complicated” and will make its injury determination within 128 days after the petition was filed, or by September 22, 2017. The Commission will submit to the President the report required under section 202(f) of the Act (19 U.S.C. § 2252(f)(1)) within 180 days after the date on which the petition was filed, or by November 13, 2017.

Notices of appearance at the ITC are due in about three weeks from now or 21 days after publication of the notice in the Federal Register.  During the injury phase of the investigation, the ITC will hold an injury hearing on August 15, 2017.  Prehearing briefs are due at the ITC on August 8, 2017.  Posthearing briefs will be due at the ITC on August 22nd.

If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, it will go into a remedy phase and the hearing in that phase will be on October 3, 2017.

REASONS FOR SECTION 201 PETITION

According to Suniva in its petition, the problem is not China.  Suniva argues that the antidumping and countervailing duty orders in the Solar Cells and Solar Products case were simply evaded:

“as the impacted producers have simply opened significant capacity in third countries not subject to those AD/CVD orders. One of the underlying principles of those prior Title VII cases was that implementing duties against the subject goods originating from the offending countries would­ create a cost basis that generates greater domestic price equity. Unfortunately, that outcome has not occurred. Rather than invest in U.S. manufacturing or charge fair market prices, Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers, either directly through the establishment of their own facilities, or indirectly through the support of contract manufacturing operations in Southeast Asia, India, and Eastern Europe, created alternative capacity that was not subject to U.S. tariffs.  In fact, the data in this petition shows a direct correlation between:

  • The institution of tariffs against subject goods made in China or Taiwan;
  • The reduction of imports into the United States from those countries; and

The increase in imports from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and other third countries.”

The Petition also states:

“What is striking is that even with these relatively high duties against two of the world’ s largest CSPV cell and module countries, imports continue to flood into the United States. Also striking is the quantity of Chinese and Taiwanese product that continues to enter the United States -, despite these dumping and subsidy duties. What these AD/CVD cases have also done is push production into new countries – meaning that they have led to increased global production and capacity. Consider:

  • In a March 21, 2017, article in the Financial Post, it was reported about Canadian Solar that :”The company said it has also increased production from its manufacturing facilities in Southeast Asia and Taiwan to serve the U.S. market and avoid import “
  • In a January 10, 2017, article in Taiyang News, the following is stated about Chinese producer Solar Trina: “Trina Solar has begun production of solar panels at its newly opened Vietnam factory. The facility with capacity of 800 MW annually is located in Quang Chau Industrial Park in Viet Yen district, northern Ban Giang province, reported The Voice of Vietnam.” The article continues: “After Malaysia, Vietnam is now coming up as one of the most sought after locations for Chinese solar power companies to set up their manufacturing units. Some of the biggest names, including Trina Solar, Jinko Solar and the like have voluntarily withdrawn from the European Commission’s minimum import price (MIP) undertaking which slaps anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties ori solar panels produced in China. Most of them are keen to operate from locations beyond China to be able to circumvent these duties and even more the customs in the much larger US solar market.”
  • In a March 29, 2016, article in PY Magazine, it is reported that “Trina Solar reports that it has begun production at its PY cell and module factory in Rayong Thailand, which has the capacity to produce 700 MW of cells and 500 MW of PY modules annually.” It continues “Southeast Asia has become a major destination for Chinese and Taiwanese PY cell and module makers seeking to avoid U.S. and EU import duties on their “
  • In an October 26, 2015, press release, it is announced that Chinese producer JA Solar Holdings, , Ltd. opened a 400MW cell manufacturing facility in Penang, Malaysia. As stated in the release: “These cells will primarily be used to manufacture JS Solar Modules outside of China to provide competitive product solutions to certain overseas markets.”
  • In an October 6, 2016, PV Magazine article, it was noted that JA Solar further expanded its Malaysian operations. The article further notes: “The expansion comes in the face of falling module prices around the world, as an oversupply seems to be taking hold of the “
  • In a July 24, 2016, CLEANTECHIES article, it is reported that JA Solar is planning a $1 billion dollar module factory in Vietnam. As noted in the article: “The company already operates 8 factories across the {sic} Europe, the US and Japan. JA Solar, like several other·module manufacturers, facing import restrictions and duties in developed markets like the US and Chinese {sic}. Several Chinese and Taiwanese companies have opened factories in overseas locations-to bypass these restrictions.”
  • A January 25, 2016, China Daily article discusses Chinese panel producers moving operations to Thailand because “solar panels made in the kingdom do not invite heavy duties in the US and Europe.”.

In short, an unforeseen development of the antidumping and countervailing duty cases . . . has been the proliferation of CSPV cell and module manufacturing across the globe. This further supports the use of this global safeguard action. Without global relief, the domestic industry will be playing “whack-a-mole” against CSPV cells and modules from particular countries.

In short, imports have clearly “increased” within the meaning of the statute. Indeed, the increase has been massive; and the recent surge has been highly debilitating to the market structure. The way that the world’s largest producers have reacted to antidumping and countervailing duty claims demonstrates that global relief is required.”

The petition also shows enormous increases of solar cells from Mexico and Canada and with regards to Canada states as follows:

“Transshipment of Chinese-origin CSPV cells through Canada would explain the rapid growth in imports of CSPV cells and modules from Canada in recent years.”

The Petition also states:

“Further, the U.S. industry could not have foreseen that foreign producers, in response to [the antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China would move so rapidly and drastically to open new production facilities in third-countries resulting in no relief for the U.S. industry from the application of the orders in the antidumping and countervailing duty cases. As shown by the import data presented in Exhibit 7, the surge in imports from third-countries after the imposition of the AD and CVD orders is completely unprecedented and unforeseeable.  For example, between 2014 and 2016, imports from Malaysia surged 67 percent/while overtaking China as the largest source of imports. In addition, imports from Korea surged by 827 percent while increasing to become the third largest source of imports.  Imports from Mexico, now the fourth largest source of imports, surged 77 percent. Imports from Thailand, now the fifth largest source of imports, surged over 76,000 percent. Such a rapid and significant increase in imports from third-countries is an unprecedented and completely unforeseen development.”

Between the time the Petition was filed and the ITC institution of the case, Wuxi Suntech announced it opposition to the petition because the law firm that had represented Wuxi Suntech in the antidumping and countervailing duty case against China brought the Section 201 case on behalf of Suniva.  In addition, Sunrun, an importer and user of solar cells, entered a notice of appearance to point out that Solarworld does not support the petition and that Suniva represents less than 20% of US production, but the ITC went forward anyways.  Just today, however, Solar World announced that it is supporting Suniva’s Section 201 Petition.

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

TOOL CHESTS FROM CHINA AND VIETNAM

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

US importers’ liability for countervailing duties on imports from China will start on September 8, 2017, 150 days after the petition was filed, and for Antidumping Duties from China and Vietnam will start on November 7, 2017, 210 days after the petition was filed.

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

If anyone wants a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese exporters/producers and US importers, please feel free to contact me.

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

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

China: 88.2% – 188.88%

India: 25.48%

Italy: 37.23% – 69.13%

Germany: 70.53% – 148.32%

Republic of Korea: 12.14% – 48.61%

Switzerland: 40.53% – 115.21%

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

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

Commerce has already issued quantity and value questionnaires to the Chinese producers in the AD and CVD cases with responses for both cases due June 5th.

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

If anyone wants a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese exporters/producers and US importers, please feel free to contact me.  Atttached are the relevant parts of the petition, INJURY EXCERPT SCOPE IMPORTERS EXERPT MECHANICAL TUBING FOREIGN PRODUCERS EXCERPT MECHANICAL TUBING.

100 TO 150 SEAT CIVIL AIRCRAFT

On April 27, 2017, in the attached notice, AIRCRAFT, the Boeing Company filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case against 100 to 150 Seat Civil Aircraft from Canada.  The Canadian respondent company is Bombardier.  With all extensions, the Commerce Department’s Preliminary determination in the CVD case, which is when liability begins, is due September 24, 2017 and the Commerce Department’s preliminary AD determination, when liability begins, is due November 23, 2017.

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

LIGHTHIZER CONFIRMED—NAFTA FIGHT

On May 11, 2017, Robert Lighthizer was confirmed by the Senate as the next USTR.  On May 15th he was sworn into office by Vice President Pence.

With Senators and Congressmen, especially from agricultural states, calling for new trade agreements, USTR will have a lot of work to do.

NAFTA FIGHT

On May 18, 2017, in the attached letter, nafta NOTIFICATION, USTR Lighthizer informed Congress of the President’s intention to renegotiate NAFTA.  In the letter, Lighthizer specifically stated:

In particular, we note that NAFTA was negotiated 25 years ago, and while our economy and businesses have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not.  Many chapters are outdated and do not reflect modern standards. For example, digital trade was in its infancy when NAFTA was enacted. In addition, and consistent with the negotiating objectives in the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, our aim is that NAFTA be modernized to include new provisions to address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium enterprises. Moreover, establishing effective implementation and aggressive enforcement of the commitments made by our trading partners under our trade agreements is vital to the success of those agreements and should be improved in the context of NAFTA. . . .

We are committed to concluding these negotiations with timely and substantive results for U.S. consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers, and workers, consistent with U.S. priorities and the negotiating objectives established by the Congress in statute. We look forward to continuing to work with the Congress as negotiations with the NAFTA countries begin, and we commit to working with you closely and transparently throughout the process.

On May 18, 2017, John Brinkley published an article in response to the Lighthizer letter:

White House’s NAFTA Renegotiation Letter To Congress Is Surprisingly Rational

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer seems to be trying to inject some rationality into President Trump’s trade policies. With the White House in turmoil over the Russia investigation and FBI Director James Comey’s firing, he might just get by with it.

Lighthizer on Thursday formally notified Congress of the administration’s intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. The notification started the clock ticking on the 90-day period that has to elapse before the renegotiations can start.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Lighthizer made some surprisingly sensible remarks about what needed to be done – surprising because it included none of the bluster and hostility that President Trump has directed at America’s NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico.

The letter said NAFTA needed to be improved in the areas of intellectual property rights, digital trade, state-owned enterprises, customs procedures, food safety, workers’ rights and environmental protection.

All that is true. NAFTA doesn’t address digital trade, because it didn’t exist in 1993 when the deal was signed, but it now dominates every aspect of international commerce in goods and services.

Workers’ rights and environmental protection are addressed in side agreements that aren’t enforceable. Making those standards tougher fully enforceable would lessen the incentive for US companies to move to Mexico.

The letter also said trade rule enforcement “should be improved in the context of NAFTA.” It’s hard to imagine how that might happen.  NAFTA allows a private company from one of the three countries that has operations in one of the others to file a complaint with the NAFTA secretariat against the host country if the company believes its rights have been violated. This Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) chapter allows for a hearing before a three-judge arbitration panel. Since 1994, the United States has prevailed in every NAFTA ISDS complaint that it has filed or has been filed against it and that has proceeded to a final ruling. It’s going to be hard to improve on that.

When two governments go head-to-head in a trade dispute, they usually take it to the World Trade Organization. The trend there is that the complaining government almost always wins.  The U.S. has won 91% of the cases it has filed in the WTO and lost 84% of those filed against it. Its overall batting average is just over .500. There is nothing that can be done in NAFTA to affect that.

Maybe the best thing the administration could do for American businesses when it convenes the renegotiation with Mexico and Canada is to focus on ways to make it easier for small companies to qualify for duty-free treatment under NAFTA. Lighthizer’s letter seemed to suggest the administration was interested in doing that. It’s easy for big corporations to comply with the myriad rules and regulations that cover imports, exports and free trade agreements; they can hire armies of lawyers and trade specialists to manage compliance with them. Most small firms can’t do that and many find that compliance isn’t worth the time and money. So, they don’t export. Or they export without applying for duty-free treatment under NAFTA. They just pay the tariff. A 2015 Thomson Reuters Global Trade Management survey of small business owners found that complying with rules of origin and other regulations was the principal difficulty that they faced in exporting their products.

To qualify for duty-free treatment under NAFTA, an exporter most certify that a certain percentage of a product’s value originated in the U.S., Mexico or Canada. There are two problems with this. One is that small manufacturers don’t always know where all their parts and components came from and it can be difficult to track them all down. They have to call their suppliers, who may have to call another supplier. The other problem is that the U.S. government allows exporters to use one of two processes for determining regional content and, for most people, neither of them is easy to navigate. . . .

Making this process easier would increase imports and reduce the trade deficit, although not by  much.

If the U.S. negotiators can focus their efforts on these constructive and necessary improvements to NAFTA, rather than on the threats and ultimatums that Trump and his nationalist faction in the White House have made, they might end up with an agreement that all three countries will be happy to sign.

On May 25th, the US Pork Producers issued the attached white paper, NAFTAReport05-24-17, arguing that if NAFTA negotiations lead to the disruption of agricultural exports generally – and pork exports specifically – to Canada and Mexico, that would “have devastating consequences for our farmers and the many American processing and transportation industries and workers supported by these exports.”

The White paper cites an Iowa State economist who states that if Mexico were to respond to a US withdrawal from NAFTA with a 20% duty on pork, the US port industry would lose the entire Mexican market.

Nick Giordano for the National Pork producers went on to state:

“A loss in exports to Mexico of that magnitude would be cataclysmic for the U.S. pork industry. Pork producers will support updating and improving NAFTA but only if duties on U.S. pork remain at zero and pork exports are not disrupted.”

On May 24th, USTR Lighthizer pledged that boosting agricultural exports remains a top priority for the Trump administration. He added that he and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are under specific marching orders to protect current market access for U.S. farm products in the revised NAFTA.  Lighthizer specifically stated:

“The president has specifically told each of us that this is a very, very top priority.  One, not to do any damage and two, to add to the bottom line. So we expect to do that.”

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES

The only good news about Border Adjustment taxes is the President Trump did not include Border Adjustment Taxes in his tax proposal to Congress.  Despite the decision not to put border adjustment taxes (“BAT”) in the Administration’s tax proposal, the House Republicans and Ways and Means Committee continue to push it.  See May 23rd Ways and Means hearing on Border Adjustment Taxes, at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/live/.

Archer Daniel Midland argued for the BAT, citing problems with Agriculture exports, but the retailers, including Target and WalMart, came out strongly against it.  One witness stated that US products are taxed twice, but imports are only taxed once and get a rebate when the product is exported to the US.

But it was also clear from the hearing that Congressmen are split on the Border Adjustment tax.

On May 23, 2017 Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, however, in a closed-door meeting with Democrats on the Ways and Means stated that both he and President Trump are opposed to the Border Adjustment Tax.   One California Democrat, Judy Chu, on the Ways and Means Committee, directly asked Mnuchin if he supported  the  BAT.  As she stated Mnuchin’s concern was the impact on consumers:

“He actually said straight out that he doesn’t support it and the president doesn’t support it.  Unless he was lying to us yesterday, I really felt it was dead on arrival.”

On May 24th, Paul Ryan stated that the BAT needs to be changed and immediately imposing it in its full form would be “too disruptive”.

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

As indicated in previous blog posts, I feel very strongly about the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program because with very low funding it has a true track record of saving US companies.  In fact, in the ongoing Section 201 case on Solar Cells, the statute requires the industry seeking protection to provide a trade adjustment plan to the Commission to explain how the industry intends to adjust if trade relief is provided.  The problem is that the Commission is not the entity with experience on determining whether the Trade Adjustment plans are viable.  The entities with that experience in trade adjustment plans are the various trade adjustment centers throughout the US.

Donald Trump’s proposed budget, however, would 0/zero out the trade adjustment assistance for companies program.  Although Secretary Wilbur Ross has made it very clear he wants to increase exports to reach the 3% plus growth rate, putting protectionist walls up to limit imports of steel, aluminum and many other products invites retaliation.

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

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

Right now the total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $12.5 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget.  Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.  In his budget, Trump increases TAA for Workers, but kills TAA for Companies.  Yet to retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job in TAA for workers is $5,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

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

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about developments in Chinese trade law.  Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.16 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.17 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.18 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.19 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.20

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW SECTION 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

COLLAPSIBLE SOCKETS FROM MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES

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

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

ROBOTIC VACUUM CLEANING DEVICES

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

Bissell Homecare, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan; Hoover Inc., Glenwillow, Ohio; Royal Appliance Manufacturing Co., Inc. d/b/a TTI Floor Care North America, Inc., Glenwillow, Ohio; Bobsweep, Inc., Canada; Bobsweep USA, Henderson, Nevada; The Black & Decker Corporation, Towson, Maryland; Black & Decker (U.S) Inc., Towson, Maryland; Shenzhen ZhiYi Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a iLife, China; Matsutek Enterprises Co., Ltd., Taiwan; Suzhou Real Power Electric Appliance Co., Ltd., China; and Shenzhen Silver Star Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd., China.If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, border adjustment taxes, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump’s Trade War on downstream industries, the Mechanical Tubing case, the Section 232 cases, the 201 case against Solar Cells, border adjustment taxes, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

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

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

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

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

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

China: 88.2% – 188.88%

India: 25.48%

Italy: 37.23% – 69.13%

Germany: 70.53% – 148.32%

Republic of Korea: 12.14% – 48.61%

Switzerland: 40.53% – 115.21%

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

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

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

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

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

TOOL CHESTS FROM CHINA AND VIETNAM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW SECTION 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

COLLAPSIBLE SOCKETS FROM MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES

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

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

ROBOTIC VACUUM CLEANING DEVICES

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR MARCH 26, 2017

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP TRADE REPORT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In conclusion, the Agenda states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LIGHTHIZER CONFIRMATION HEARING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

INTERNAL ADMINISTRATION TRADE FIGHTS—NAVARRO CREATES AN INTERNAL TRADE WAR

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

They would do none of those things.

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

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

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

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

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

NAVARRO’S STANDING WITH CONGRESS DROPS

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

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

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

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

G-20 BECOMES MORE PROTECTIONIST

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Senator Pat Roberts stated at the Lighthizer Confirmation hearings:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

That would harm vastly more Americans than it would help.

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

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

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

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

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom also stated recently:

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

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

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

Katainen stated that:

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

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

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

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

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

TPP CONTINUES WITHOUT THE US

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

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

Japanese State Minister Takao Ochi stated:

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

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

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But as Bloomberg further states:

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

EUROPE, THE WTO AND CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

NAFTA RENEGOTIATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINA NONMARKET ECONOMY

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

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

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

MORE TRADE CASES COMING

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

ALUMINUM FOIL FROM CHINA

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

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

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

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

SILICON METAL FROM AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, KAZAKHSTAN AND NORWAY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

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

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

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

MEXICO

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

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

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

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

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

CFIUS—WILL INVESTMENT RECIPROCITY BE A NEW REQUIREMENT??

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

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

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

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

CHINESE MILITARY BUILDUP TO PROTECT ITS TRADE INTERESTS???

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

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

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

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

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

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

ZTE HIT WITH SANCTIONS FOR VIOLATING EXPORT CONTROLS ACT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

DOMESTIC INDUSTRY FROM PATENT LICENSEE

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

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

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

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP AND TRADE, LIGHTHIZER AS USTR, BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES, MANUFACTURING CAN COME BACK TO THE US, TAA FOR COMPANIES, WTO CASES AGAINST ALUMINUM AND NME STATUS, AND 337

Washington Monument After the Snow Washington DCTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR JANUARY 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

This blog post contains several articles about recent developments in the Trump Transition and its impact on trade.  January 20th, inauguration day, is only 8 days away and Trump will be President.  The transition, however, moves quickly.

Although the past appointments of Governor Branstad of Iowa as Ambassador to China and Wilbur Ross to Commerce, two persons who know China well, indicate no potential trade war, the two latest appointments of Bob Lighthizer to USTR and Peter Nararro as Chairman of the National Economic Advisors indicate that protectionism, especially against China, is back on the menu.

Trump may be trying to use uncertainty to create leverage and a deal with the Chinese and other governments on trade and other topics.  Bob Lighthizer will be the hammer of the Trump trade policy that will negotiate those deals.

But the next question is how will Trump help revive manufacturing in the United States and help the Rust Belt states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which put him in the White House?

One answer may be taxes, the border adjustment kind, which may, in fact, be a response to the Value Added Taxes levied on US exports.  Trump and Congress have apparently decided to fight fire with fire—mercantilism to fight mercantilism, border adjustment taxes to fight value added taxes, which put US exports at a major disadvantage.

No longer will the US take a passive approach to foreign trade barriers to US exports.  Trump and his team will raise US trade barriers to counter the trade barriers erected by other countries.  Reciprocity is the name of the game.

Moreover, the recent noises from many US companies indicate that they like what Trump is doing and manufacturing will move back to the US.  Low corporate taxes, less regulations and the threat of trade barriers will bring manufacturing back to the US.  In fact, it may even encourage Chinese and other foreign companies to move production to the United States.  Trump will do everything possible to increase jobs in the United States.

Also the US China Trade relationship is getting out to an interesting start in 2017 with the filing today, January 12, 2017, of a major WTO case against China on Aluminum.

Hopefully Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, which is the only effective US trade remedy that saves companies and the jobs that go with them, will expand.  But TAA for Companies is not TAA for Workers.  They are very different programs.

In addition, with regards to the recent WTO complaint China filed against the US and the EC for failing to give it market economy status under their antidumping and countervailing duty laws, Canada and Japan have now jumped into the case because of the impact on their trade laws.

Under the Universal Trade War theme, attached are newsletters from Roland Zhu of the Allbright Chinese law firm on Chinese trade law.

Finally, a recent 337 intellectual property case was filed against China on Basketball Backboard Components.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

PS, If anyone wants to unsubscribe to the newsletter, please let me know and I will remove them from the list.

TRADE AND TRADE POLICY

TRUMP’S APPOINTMENTS NOW BECOME MORE PROTECTIONIST AND TOUGH ON TRADE—BUT MAYBE THAT IS WHAT IS NEEDED IN THIS ENVIRONMENT

After the first two appointments of Governor Branstad as ambassador to China and Wilbur Ross as new Commerce Department secretary, the two recent appointments of Bob Lighthizer as United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) and China critic, Peter Navarro, to head the National Trade Council indicate that the Trump Administration will take a much tougher line on trade and China.  Full disclosure in the late 1980s, as described more below, I worked for Bob Lighthizer at Skadden, Arps, and he is certainly a much tougher negotiator than any trade negotiator China or other countries have dealt with before.

Recently on Bloomberg news, I heard one bank spokesman say that their research group gives a 25% chance that under Trump the US will return to a Smoot Hawley situation, such as in the 1930s.  Although Lighthizer is a very tough guy, he is also a very experienced trade lawyer with substantial contacts in Congress so hopefully he will be pragmatic enough not to simply put up the protectionist walls and return the US to the 1930s.

But let there be no mistake, the Trump Administration will erect barriers to imports to offset the many trade barriers other countries, including Mexico, China and the EC, have erected against US exports.  Reciprocity will be the new approach to trade policy.

USTR FROMAN ADDS A PARTING SHOT

As present USTR Froman of the Obama Administration is leaving, he issued on January 5, 2017 the attached Cabinet Exit Memo, USTR-Exit-Memo.  In that Cabinet Exit Memo, Froman stated that the United States cannot withdraw from Globalization.  The issue is whether the US can shape globalization so as to benefit the US.  Froman also warned that if the US withdraws, the major beneficiary will be China.  As Froman stated:

“The fundamental economic question of our time is not whether we can stop globalization, but whether we can use all the tools at our disposal to shape globalization in a way that helps the majority of Americans, and reflects not just our economic interests, but our values.”

Froman went on to emphasize the importance of Agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”):

“These agreements offer a positive vision for American leadership in the global economy.  This vision is vitally important, because in the absence of U.S. guidance and leadership, the world is likely to turn to alternative policy models that will put the United States at a permanent disadvantage.”

Froman went on to argue that the US can only counter China through negotiations that set high standards for the World’s trading countries:

“If we step back from a global leadership role, it will be our loss and China’s gain.  This alternative vision would place a large portion of America’s industry at risk of lost exports and create powerful incentives to invest in Asia in order to sell in Asia. Should this alternative come to dominate the next generation of trade agreements, the consequence will be an erosion of economic security and opportunity for all Americans.”

Froman apparently is arguing that the trade game cannot be changed and only small changes can be made through negotiations, such as the TPP, because globalization is here to stay.  Trump intends to overturn the trade policy table all together.

TRUMP PICKS AN ENFORCER ROBERT LIGHTHIZER AS NEXT UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE (“USTR”)

On January 3, 2017 Donald Trump announced that he has picked a very tough negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, a Skadden, Arps partner, as the next United States Trade Representative (“USTR”).  In doing so, Trump stated:

“Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first.  He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans. He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity.”

Almost 20 years ago, I worked with Lighthizer in the late 1980s at Skadden, Arps.  Before joining Skadden, Arps, Lighthizer was a Deputy USTR and was legendary.  One of my colleagues at Skadden told me that as a Deputy USTR when Lighthizer was negotiating with the Japanese government on a trade deal, he took one proposal from the Japanese government, folded it into a paper airplane and threw it out the door.

After Lighthizer joined Skadden in the late 1980s, Lighthizer brought in US Steel as a client and went on to represent US Steel for decades bringing many antidumping and countervailing duty cases against steel products from various countries.  Being the former Chief of Staff to Senator Robert Dole, the former Senate Majority leader, Lighthizer has extremely good contacts with the Republicans in Congress.

From my personal experience with Lighthizer, he will be an extremely tough negotiator with an agenda of protecting US companies from import competition and he will not be a friend of China, but that may be a good thing.  In contrast to the tough approach on trade of President Trump, Lighthizer may be the best choice free traders could get.  Lighthizer is a very experienced trade lawyer, who is not an ideologue, but a pragmatic deal maker.

More importantly, Trump’s appointment of an experienced tough trade lawyer as the USTR indicates that Trump does not really want a trade war.  He wants better, tougher deals more in line with US interests, such as a renegotiated NAFTA and possibly even a renegotiated TPP.  Trump is seeking to hire one of Washington’s top trade lawyers to negotiate tougher international trade agreements and then enforce them more vigorously.  Lighthizer, in effect, will be the hammer of Trump’s trade policy.

The desire for a much tougher trade policy is bipartisan.  Many Democratic lawmakers agree with Trump and many Republicans on a tougher trade policy.  On January 3rd, AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka met with nine House Democrats to urge renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada and stating that he does not think Trump “has enough Republican support to do it, and rewriting the rules of trade is a necessary first step in righting the economy for working people.”

In response to the appointment, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who knows Lighthizer very well and will hold hearings on his nomination, stated:

“Ensuring our past, present, and future trade agreements are the best possible deals for American workers and job creators is a shared goal supported by pro- trade lawmakers and the Trump Administration alike. As the incoming administration undertakes this enormous responsibility, Bob will be a critical player in ensuring that America’s trade agenda reflects U.S. commercial interests, while helping set the standard for global trade. Armed with bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority, the incoming Trump Administration has a unique opportunity to pursue new, bilateral trade pacts of the highest caliber that can be submitted to Congress for an up or down vote with no amendments. As the world and our economic competitors move to expand their global footprints, we can’t afford to be left behind in securing strong deals that will increase access to new markets for American-made products and services, protect our intellectual property rights abroad, and ensure domestic businesses can successfully compete in the 21st century global economy. I look forward to a vigorous discussion of Bob’s trade philosophy and priorities when he comes before the Finance Committee.”

Bill Brock, the former USTR under President Reagan, stated:

“He is in most ways, if not many ways, in line with Trump’s comments during the campaign.  He’s very bright, he’s very aggressive.”

There was speculation prior to the Lighthizer appointment that USTR would take a secondary role in trade negotiations.  In fact, Lighthizer’s appointment indicates that Trump wants to make USTR under Lighthizer’s leadership the tip of sword in changing and negotiating tough trade agreements and enforcing them.  Of Trump’s trade advisors, only Lighthizer has government experience.

Alan Wolff, another former senior American trade official who represented the steel industry as co- counsel in many trade cases with Lighthizer, referred to Lighthizer’s broad knowledge of trade law and went on to state:

“Those who say U.S.T.R. will be subordinated to other agencies are mistaken.  He’ll be a dominant figure on trade, in harmony with Wilbur Ross and Navarro.”

Lighthizer’s appointment is a clear indication that the Trump Administration will focus on the enforcement of trade agreements and on the letter of the law.  Lighthizer is not a bull in a China shop.  He is a very smart, tough trade lawyer and negotiator, and he will do everything possible to protect the US industry.

And Lighthizer will be very tough with China.  In the attached 2010 statement testimony to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, LIGHTHIZER 2010 STATEMENT US CHINA ECONOMIC SECURITY COMMISSION, Lighthizer stated:

Misjudging Incentives for Industries to Shift Production Wholesale to China and then Ship Back to the United States. . . . In other words, supporters assumed that since the United States had been granting MFN status to China for decades, granting MFN on a permanent basis would make no significant difference to how companies would serve this market.

But this assumption failed to account for the many incentives Western companies had to bet on the other side, and use China as a manufacturing platform to serve the U.S. market. As shown throughout this paper, China practices numerous forms of mercantilism – including subsidies, currency manipulation, and government programs that encourage developing new products in China – that give companies strong reasons to move production to that country. China’s relatively weak labor and environmental policies have a similar effect. China also manipulates raw material markets in a manner that encourages manufacturers to move there.  . . .

Many experts agree that our trading relationship with China presents a serious threat to our economy and the effective functioning of the WTO.  How should U.S. policymakers respond to these problems? As described in more detail below, I believe they should stop being so passive, take a number of straightforward steps to mitigate the harm caused by Chinese mercantilism, and consider more imaginative steps to deal with China.

We must stop being so passive. For ten years now, U.S. policymakers have done very little as China pursued policies that have resulted in an enormous trade imbalance. This approach has not worked, and it is past time for the U.S. government to become more aggressive. . . .

Lighthizer went on to state:

Indeed, I would take the argument even further. Trade policy discussions in the United States have increasingly been dominated by arcane disputations about whether various actions would be “WTO ­consistent” – treating this as a mantra of almost religious or moral significance.  The fact is that the WTO is built upon a framework of mutual concessions and purported mutual benefits from expanded trade and open markets. WTO commitments are not religious obligations, do not (and should not be construed to) impinge upon national sovereignty, and are not subject to coercion by some WTO police force. Viewing them as such – and implicitly establishing this viewpoint as the inviolate touchstone of all U.S. trade policy – is at odds with the structure of the WTO itself, not to mention the vociferous and repeated statements made by proponents of the WTO when it was established.

In this regard, WTO commitments represent mutually beneficial, market ­opening stipulations by individual countries. Where a country fails to fully implement commitments it has made, other countries are given the right to reciprocally suspend market­ opening commitments of their own – in an amount precisely equivalent to, and no greater than, the value of trade they have lost as a result of the derogation that has occurred. In this way, the entire WTO system is in a very real sense premised upon the assumption of relatively equal costs and benefits among and between WTO participants – whereby compliance with WTO norms is encouraged by the knowledge that derogations will result in the suspension of equivalent trade concessions. Where this relationship does not hold – that is, where a trade relationship has become so unbalanced that the threat of retaliation pales in comparison to the potential benefits of derogation – it only makes sense that a sovereign nation would consider what options are in its own national interest (up to and including potential derogation from WTO stipulations).

This need not be seen as some fundamental threat to the integrity of the WTO system.  Indeed, let me state explicitly that I am not advocating that the United States leave the WTO – that body is too important to us and the global trading system. I am merely pointing out that derogation may be a common sense, economically rational analysis by participants in the system – whereby potential decisions to derogate from WTO rules give rise to compensatory rights of other parties within the system.

Indeed, such an approach is plainly anticipated by the WTO agreements and has been acknowledged by U.S. policymakers. Properly understood, WTO rules do not infringe on the ability of individual nations to make their own sovereign decisions about economic policies –subject to the rights and obligations that flow from the WTO agreements themselves and any derogation of those agreements.   In this regard, U.S. officials have consistently stated that WTO commitments do not interfere with our national sovereignty, and that WTO rulings cannot alter U.S. law. These points were made repeatedly by Members of Congress during the debate over whether the United States should join the WTO. Furthermore, USTR has plainly stated that WTO legal panels “have no authority to change U.S. law or to require the United States or any state or local government to change its laws or decisions.” USTR has specifically explained that other countries cannot force the United States to comply with WTO law; instead, their only available response is to retaliate by withdrawing trade benefits . . .

In the context of U.S. ­China trade – whereby the United States is consistently running trade deficits viewed by virtually all rational observers as catastrophic and unsustainable – it is certainly advisable to consider all options available. To the extent that the United States were to consider more dramatic action to address the problem – such as tariffs or quantitative limitations that would arguably derogate from WTO commitments – the prospect of reciprocal denial of trade benefits by China must of course be assessed. At some point, however – where goods imports from China exceed $300 billion while U.S. exports to China are below $70 billion – one must ask whether potential retaliation from China really would or could even remotely offset the benefits to the United States of more aggressive trade measures. . . .

Of course, none of the policies I have suggested can be effective unless U.S. policymakers have the will to implement them in a strong and determined manner. For years, our economic position vis ­a ­vis China has deteriorated because U.S. policymakers have refused to take the inevitable risks associated with challenging Chinese mercantilism. As a result, we are now burdened with a trade imbalance that everyone agrees is unsustainable. Wringing our hands and hoping for the best is not the answer. We need strong leaders who are prepared to make tough decisions, and who will not be satisfied until this crisis has been resolved.

“One must ask whether potential retaliation from China really would or could even remotely offset the benefits to the United States of more aggressive trade measures.”

On the other hand, although Lighthizer’s statements show that he will be very tough on China, as certain trade experts have stated, in light of the very tough trade policy of the next President Donald Trump, Lighthizer’s appointment may be the best that free traders could hope for from this new Administration.  Lighthizer is a very smart, experienced political operator with excellent contacts in Congress, especially on the Republican side of the aisle, and a tough, outstanding negotiator.  But these experts also believe that Lighthizer is not a blind ideologue, but a pragmatic, rational deal maker.  After driving a very hard bargain and reaching a deal, he could end up even keeping NAFTA and possibly even the TPP.  Relations with China may actually improve, but only after a better deal is reached.

PETER NAVARRO TO HEAD NATIONAL TRADE COUNCIL

In another sign that the Trump Administration will take a much tougher line on China, on December 21, 2016, Trump announced that he has picked Peter Navarro, a China critic, to be the head of a new National Trade Council.   A Harvard trained economist, who is a professor at the University of California, Irvine, Navarro has taken a very strong position on China.  He is the author of a book, “Death by China”, which became a 2012 documentary film in which a Chinese knife stabs a map of the United States causing blood to throw.  See http://deathbychina.com/.  Navarro, in effect, argues that China is waging an economic war by subsidizing exports to the United States and blocking imports into China creating an enormous trade deficit.

Trump has stated that he will persuade China to change its policies by applying pressure through trade laws, designating China a currency manipulator, and, if necessary imposing high tariffs on Chinese imports.  As indicated below, however, those tariffs may actually be border adjustment taxes.

In a statement, Mr. Trump described Mr. Navarro as “a visionary economist” and said he would “develop trade policies that shrink our trade deficit, expand our growth and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores.”

On December 23, 2016, in response the China Daily stated:

That individuals such as Navarro who have a bias against China are being picked to work in leading positions in the next administration, is no laughing matter. The new administration should bear in mind that with economic and trade ties between the world’s two largest economies now the closest they have ever been, any move to damage the win-win relationship will only result in a loss for both sides.

Still, Chinese companies in the US should be on high alert to a more difficult business climate.

US TRADE POLICY MAY CHANGE AND THREATS DO NOT HELP THE US CHINA TRADE RELATIONSHIP

There is an old saying in Chinese “Bei Mi Yang Feng You Dou Mi Yang Chao Ren” (杯米养朋友,斗米养仇人) one cup of rice makes a friend, thousands of cups of rice make an enemy.  Another old saying in English, give a person $5 make a friend, give a person $100 make an enemy.

Since World War II the United States has been a relatively open market and many foreign countries, including China, have benefitted.  As described more below, with border adjustment taxes and the current US economic situation, that situation may well change and could change dramatically.  Many countries will be very upset when the US starts to close down, in effect, favoring domestic products over imports.  When markets are taken away and countries lose their bag of rice, they will not be happy.

Mexico’s peso is in free fall and has fallen to the lowest level against the US in decades.  Mexico is in crisis because under pressure from Trump US companies are canceling plans to set up production facilities in Mexico and moving production facilities back to the US.  Mexico is not happy.

China is upset with the Lighthizer appointment and is talking about retaliation.  On January 4th, in response to the Lighthizer appointment, China’s state-run Media, the Global Times, warned Trump of ‘Big Sticks’ if he seeks a Trade War:

“There are flowers around the gate of China’s Ministry of Commerce, but there are also big sticks hidden inside the door — they both await Americans.”

When a current US China trade deficit of well over $300 billion, however, that threat rings hollow.

On January 9, 2017, State-run Chinese tabloid Global Times warned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that China would “take revenge” if he reneged on the one- China policy, only hours after Taiwan’s president made a controversial stopover in Houston.

When the Chinese State-Controlled media, such as the Global Times, castigates Trump as an “ignorant child” and threatens the Trump Administration with Chinese retaliation, it is waving a red flag in front of a bull.  The new Trump Administration will not be intimidated.  It will not be bullied.  Threats will not work with this Administration.

So it is a much better idea to let cooler heads prevail and negotiate.  As stated above, the Trump Administration wants a deal and the Chinese government and other governments are extremely good negotiators so negotiate.

Let’s keep any Trade War at the cold war stage and not let it break out into a hot Trade War where every country, including the United States and China, are burned.

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES MAY BE THE NEW TRADE PROTECTIONIST BARRIER TO IMPORTS

As stated in my last blog post, Trump and Republicans in Congress may be creating an alternative to tariffs to spur US manufacturing and that is taxes.  Tariffs have become so passé.  There is now an attempt in Congress to give American-made products a big tax advantage over their foreign competitors through border adjustment taxes, and, in effect, counter the value added taxes used in other countries to deter imports.

The key issue is a plan to fundamentally remake the tax system by taxing US companies based on where they sell their goods, not where the business happens to be located. As part of that, Republican tax legislators want to include what experts call “border adjustments” — new taxes on imports as well as tax rebates on exports.

Another fancy term for this new tax is “destination-based cash flow tax with border adjustment” or DBCFT.  This plan would replace the current corporate tax code with something known among experts as a “border-adjustable, destination-based” tax system.  Under their proposal, imports would be charged the same 20 percent tax that domestic companies would face. Exports would be excused from taxes.  It would amount to a fundamental change, with the government taxing companies based on where they sell their wares, rather than where the business is located.

The way this tax would work is if a U.S. company sold a product for $100 and it spent $70 on its workers’ pay, under the Republican plan the remaining $30 would be subject to the 20% tax. That would produce a $6 tax bill. An imported version of the same product would be forced to pay the 20% tax on the entire $100 sale, producing a $20 tax bill.

The best case for a border adjustment tax is an article by Stephen Moore, an expert on economic issues at the Heritage Foundation, in the International Business Daily in which he argues that a Border Adjustment Tax, in effect, is equivalent to the Value Added Tax that countries use to kill imports.  See http://www.investors.com/politics/columnists/stephen-moore-we-need-tax-reform-not-tariffs/.

As Moore states:

If America’s competitors were intentionally trying to design a tax system to destroy the American economy, they probably couldn’t come up with a dumber tax system than the way the United States currently taxes our own businesses.

To fully appreciate the stupidity of the American corporate tax, consider this simple example:

If you are an American company making cars in Michigan, you have to pay a 35% profits tax on the car made here and then if the car is sold across the border to Mexico, the Mexicans slap a 16% value added tax on the car, so it is taxed on both sides of the border. Almost all countries tax goods produced in the United States this way.

Now let us say that the auto factory is moved from Michigan to Mexico City. Now the car produced in the factory in Mexico is not taxed by the Mexicans if the auto is sold in the United States.

Even more amazing:  the U.S. imposes no tax on the imported car. To summarize, the car is taxed twice if it is built in America and then sold abroad and never taxed if it is built abroad and sold here in the U.S. And we wonder why companies are moving out in droves for China, India, Ireland, Mexico and the like.

Donald Trump is right. What we have in America is not free trade. It is stupid trade with the deck sacked against American producers and workers. Our federal tax is effectively a 35% tariff imposed on our own goods and services.

It doesn’t help matters that our 35% rate is the highest in the industrial world. Yet the corporate tax- despite being onerous and complex — and despite depressing employment, investment and wages here at home — raises very little revenue for the government. . . .

To create a level playing field, the U.S. has to reconstitute our tax system.  This can be accomplished by lowering the tax rate and then turning the tax on its head so we are taxing our imports, but not our exports. In other words, we should tax activities based on where they are consumed, not where they are produced.

This is called a border adjustable tax system, and here are the reasons we need to do it:

  • A border adjustable tax will end all talk of tariffs and trade wars.

tariffs violate our trade agreements and often lead to retaliatory measures by other countries. The free traders will rightly object loudly to these trade barriers.

A better solution is to impose the Trump 15% corporate income tax on goods when they are brought into the U.S. and exempt from tax goods produced in the U.S. but sold outside the U.S.

In other words, our corporate tax would be based on where goods are consumed, not on where they are produced.  This tax does not violate trade laws and only mirrors the valued added tax systems foreigners use to gain advantage over us. . . .

In exchange for a border adjustable tax, the U.S. should eliminate all existing tariffs and duties which can now range from 2% on shoes to 25% on toys. . .

Retailers like Walmart will complain . . .

We have to make things in America to make America great again. Tax reform is the key to making that happen.

In effect, taxes, whether border adjustment or value added, have become the new tariffs.  But if one is to look at it rationally, tariffs were always taxes.  In fact, after the American Revolution, the first tax the US Government used to run the government was tariffs on imported goods.

The fact that border adjustment taxes will hurt retailers is evidenced by Trump’s criticism of large internet retailer Amazon when he stated that Amazon will have “such problems” during his Presidency because of this new tax system.  Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon also owns the Washington Post, and that newspaper has not been Trump’s friend.

The argument against the DBCFT is made by Brian Garst in the attached article, CFP_PolicyBrief_Border_Adjustment, entitled the “Political and Economic Risks of a Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax,” published in January 2017.  In the Article, Brian Garst argues:

The DBCFT would be a new type of corporate income tax that disallows any deductions for imports while also exempting export-related revenue from taxation.  This mercantilist system is based on the same “destination” principle as European value-added taxes, which means it is explicitly designed to preclude tax competition. . . . This mercantilist approach typically is associated with credit-invoice value-added taxes (VATs) that exist in European nations.

Garst goes on to state that in addition to retailers another target industry is energy because the United States is a net importer of oil and petroleum products.  Trump might argue, however, that when he is done cutting regulations the United States will be a net exporter of oil and petroleum products.  But Garst also points out that when other countries adopt the DBCFT, there will be more taxes on US exports.

More importantly, Garst points out what happens when the Democrats come back into power:

“In this case, left-leaning politicians would see the DBCFT not as something to be undone, but as a jumping off point for new and higher taxes.  A highly probable outcome is that the United States’ corporate tax environment becomes more like Europe, consisting of both consumption and income taxes.”

Garst goes on to add that the eventual result of higher taxes, no matter what they are called, is bigger government and slower economic growth.

On December 19, 2016, however, Chairman Brady of House Ways and Means stated that U.S. companies that rely on imports will “have to adjust” to a House Republican plan and that such a plan is a priority of the Trump Administration.  As Brady stated on a December 18th CSPAN program:

“We cannot leave in place any tax policies that encourage our companies to move their operations overseas just to sell back to the United States.  We want to listen to and find solutions with those who rely a lot on imported goods coming into America.”

The plan would apply a 20 percent corporate tax to revenues earned from goods and services consumed within the United States, while exempting economic activity outside the U.S, amounting to a 15 percent cut in the nominal corporate tax rate and eliminating corporate taxes on U.S. exports.

The opposition to this new tax system is not only from retailers but from US producers, which either assemble products in the US from imported parts or use cheaper raw materials to produce competitive value added products.  Many manufacturing groups that rely on global supply chains, such as Boeing and other companies, should be very concerned about this new policy.

But the border adjustment tax proposal has allowed Trump to call out automobile companies, such as GM, which produce substantial cars in Mexico and praise Ford Motor Co. for its decision to scrap plans for a $1.6 billion factory in Mexico.  The threat of a border adjustment tax is enough during this Presidential transition period to cause US companies to bring production back to the US.

Many businesses that rely on imported raw materials or component parts, will not be able to deduct the cost of imported goods under the GOP plan, the full value of these goods is taxed instead of just the value added in the U.S.  This means that even if Congress lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to the Republicans’ proposed 20% or 15%, companies could still see an effective increase in their tax rates.

Jennifer Safavian, the executive vice president of government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, recently made this point stating:

“With this tax on imports, we actually will see our effective tax rate increase.  It will increase, in some cases, double or three times the amount we’re paying right now. Some companies are concerned that they will actually have to go out of business because they’ll owe more in taxes than they’ll actually bring in in income.”

COULD MANUFACTURING RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES?

As stated above, during just this Presidential transition period, the threat of border adjustment taxes and a dramatic change in trade policy, along with cuts to corporate taxes to as low as 15 to 25% and regulations rollback, has caused many companies, such as Ford, Softbank, Fiat, Sprint and Carrier, to announce their reduction or abandonment of offshore production and their movement back to the United States.  Jack Ma at Alibaba also met with Trump to state that he believes 1 million more jobs can be added in the US from small and medium size business.

In December 2016, small business optimism in the United States has soared to levels not seen in over ten years.  The National Federation of Independent Business Index jumped 7.4 points in December the highest since 2004.  Trump and Congress are using carrots and sticks to move US production and jobs back to the United States.

With almost 40% of the US population on some form of welfare, the situation has to change.  Even here in Seattle, one dramatic example of the state of economy during the Obama Administration has been the dramatic rise in homeless camps.  The election of Trump means change.  And change it will be.

Recently, a Chinese entrepreneur asked me how could manufacturing move from China back to the United States because China has so many advantages.  In October 2016, Fuyao Glass announced a $1 billion investment into Moraine Ohio and Plymouth Michigan to start producing windshields in the United States.  When Chinese media and the government asked the owner Cho Tak Wong why he was moving production to the United States.  There were two answers: higher wages in China and higher tax rates.

Wages in China have steadily moved upward and the lower wage countries now are Vietnam, Bangladesh and other countries.  Much of China’s textile manufacturing capability has moved to Bangladesh in the search of lower wages.

Another major problem in China is taxes.  Although the US has the highest corporate tax rate of 35% in the developed countries, higher than China, China has corporate tax rates ranging from 25 to 33%.  More importantly, China has a personal income tax rate of 45% with US tax rates for the highest incomes ranging from 35 to 39.6%.

When I started working in China in the 1990s and all the way until about 5 to 10 years ago, although the tax rates were high, the Chinese government was very liberal on deductions.  The more expenses the company and the person had, the lower the actual tax rate.  Thus Chinese employees were always looking for a “fapiao”, a receipt so that they could claim expenses.

But several years ago, the Chinese government cracked down and started to enforce the actual tax rates.  High tax rates give companies and individuals a real incentive to leave the place where they are located.  Residents vote with their feet.  We can see that in the United States, where high tax rates in the states of New York and California have caused companies and people to move to lower tax states like Texas and Washington State, which has no state personal income tax.  An old economic saying, when you tax more of anything, you get less of it.

China and the United States are competing with other countries to attract foreign investment and even domestic investment in their own countries.  Higher tax rates and excessive regulations cause companies to move and seek better places to produce products.

Another reason to move to another country is trade restrictions.  In the early 2000s, Windshields from China were hit with a US antidumping case.  I represented two companies in the case, Xinhe and Benxun; Fuyao was represented by another law firm.  Antidumping rates in this case went down to single digits and eventually the case went away.  But this does not mean a new case could not be brought.

Fuyao coming to the US to escape potential US trade cases is nothing new.  Many, many Japanese companies, including automobile companies, Toyota and Honda, auto part companies, such as Nippon Denso, television producers, such as Sanyo, portable electric typewriter companies, such as Brother, and photography companies, such as Fuji, set up production operations in the United States to get around US antidumping orders and other trade restrictions.  In fact, Chinese solar companies, such as Wanxiang Energy, have started producing solar panels in the United States to get around move US antidumping and countervailing duty orders against Chinese solar cells and solar panels.

So manufacturing can move back to the United States if the business environment is better than other countries.  When companies move back to the US and economic growth increases significantly, all boats rise and that means more good paying jobs and the average American will do better.

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

TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES IS NOT TAA FOR WORKERS

In my blog post last month, an open letter to the new Commerce Department secretary was included about the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program.  It is important, however, to distinguish TAA for Companies from TAA for Workers.  The two programs are very different.

TAA for Workers is government money given to displaced workers to retrain workers.  On January 12, 2017, Jamie Dimon of Chase spoke out on Good Morning American about TAA for Workers.  In the past when Dimon has spoken out for TAA for Workers, financial publications, such as Forbes, have spoken out against the program because they view the $711 million program as an entitlement, a handout to workers, that does not save jobs.

The TAA for Firms/Companies program, however, is very different from the TAA for Workers program because the objective of TAA for Companies is to save the company and by saving the company save the jobs that go with that company.  I believe that publications, like Forbes, might change their tune if they knew that President Reagan probably personally approved the TAA for Firms/Companies program.  Why do I say this? Jim Munn.

Congress started the TAA adjustment assistance programs in 1962 as part of the Trade Expansion Act and as a means of securing support for the Kennedy Round of multilateral trade negotiations.  Trade Adjustment Assistance essentially was a tradeoff.  If Unions and Workers would support trade liberalization, including free trade agreements, workers would be compensated because of the disruption caused by increased imports.

In the early 1980s, President Reagan himself put in requirements to set up standards so that Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers would not simply be an open ended entitlement.   President Reagan, however, was puzzled by the TAA for Companies and asked an old friend, Jim Munn, here in Seattle to look into the program.

As stated in the attached 2002 obituary, JIM MUNN, Jim Munn was a famous criminal lawyer in Seattle and an early supporter and personal friend of Ronald Reagan.  I am now on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”).  When I started my involvement in NWTAAC, I was told that the Center was in place because President Reagan himself asked Jim Munn to look into the program.

Both President Reagan and Jim Munn were firmly opposed to government interference in the marketplace.  What did Jim Munn discover when he looked into the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Companies?  It works.  Jim Munn decided to head up NWTAAC for the next 22 years.

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

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

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

But as also stated in my last blog post, in this environment with so many injured companies, funding for TAA for Firms/Companies has to be increased so it can do its job.

An article from David Holbert, Executive Director Northwest TAAC, below states how the program works in more detail.

IMPORTS HAVE LANDED – SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE

David Holbert, Executive Direct Northwest TAAC

The issue of trade competition and lost jobs is well discussed in the media.  I work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are negatively affected by import competition, what is often called “trade impact” in policy lingo. It’s a big issue. According to the U.S Trade Representative, the United States’ 30 million SMEs account for nearly two-thirds of net new private sector jobs in recent decades. This is one in a series of posts about trade impact.

In a previous post I talked about recognizing trade impact. Once a company figures out that imports are the cause of sales declines, they must respond. That response depends on the specifics of the trade threat.

Companies work within a set of cost and market access factors. Where those factors are shared, a new competitor or an established one upping their game, is usually a manageable theat. Some alteration in course might be recommended, but it is all in the range of expectations in a competitive landscape. Imports, however, generally perceive a significant advantage before they enter a market – whether that’s in design, technology, scale, or cost. Extreme cost differentials tend to be the province of imports and, more specifically, imports from low-labor cost, low-regulation sources. New arriving imports tend to be very strong competitors if not disrupters.

Before the imports arrived, customers had seen value in the available options. Now those customers can see a better cost-benefit exchange with the imported product.  Unattended, the new entrant (the import) will gain market share – the only questions are how much and how fast.

Imports may have any of several weaknesses:

  • Importers are probably bearing a loss producing level of initial expense to establish a brand, set up sales capability, and establish distribution and service networks. The domestic company already is established, or can become so more easily.
  • Importers often have to order and ship in large quantities. It takes time for delivery to occur. What is an advantage in a standard product/price sensitive segment is a disadvantage in a customized / price elastic segment. Customization is almost always an advantageous capability for the domestic company
  • Importer service capability and quality can be weak. Service can be a challenge for those in different time zones, and speaking different languages. In low-cost economies, businesses often display a culture that values cost and quantity over all else. Quality and service are likely comparative strengths of the domestic company.

If the price differential is minor, improvements in operations without changing the business model may close the gap. The challenge is not less urgent, just less extensive. Every business I’ve worked with has a list of pending improvements. Now would be the time to implement some of these. Topping the list would the ones that lead to revenue faster. At this stage, the domestic company is probably losing sales. To the extent that you need a “plan”, that list is probably it. Let’s call it the minimum required response.

If the price differential is large, the business will face the uncharted territory of strategic change. That change will likely affect product, systems, processes, distribution, promotion, and pricing.  In other words, everything.

Just as every business owner has a list of pending improvements, they also have more than one idea about a serious change in course. That is very likely an incomplete list. How could it be otherwise? Whatever the right change may be, the confidence to take that leap will almost certainly be absent. That is where TAA comes in.  Most people don’t realize how thin of a line of viability businesses walk. It took a lot to get to the point where things work. A lot of what seemed like good ideas were proven wrong along the way. Changing that formula under conditions of less than certainty and necessity is almost always a bad idea. With trade impact, a business may have a condition of necessity. Now that business has to work on certainty.

It is not exactly clear how to get to that state of envisioning a strategic change with confidence and assurance. For a business owner, this is a life’s work. For the record, there are consultants that are capable in this area. Not that hiring in help is necessarily a solution.  What is clear is that a full range of options and information supporting them become precious commodities.

Here are how some companies with TAA help dealt with trade impact:

A commercial products company makes a specialized tool and faced a sudden entry of imports at close to half the price. The company’s plan was to radically improve operations in the same market position. The owners had been complacent in a mature market. The plan included such actions as developing an automated version of the tool, emphasizing service and parts replacement capability, and revising sales and promotion activity. This works in commercial markets because buyers are informed and easily value factors like quality, service, and durability.

A contract manufacturer that machines metal parts specializing in titanium had lost their single industry customer base to imports. The owner recognized that their capabilities would be valued in the aerospace industry. Achieving AS9100 (aerospace industry quality certification) was an essential step. Entering the industry and becoming known among buyers was the larger challenge. This works because at the time aerospace was growing in the region.

  • A nut grower was priced out of its commodity market position by imports. The owners had thought of packaging for consumers and private labeling. With TAA help, they gained the confidence to proceed. It was exactly the right move –they removed a layer of distribution and gained back their profit margin. The company grew at tech industry rates.
  • A safety products producer was being displaced in large retailers by imports priced about 50% lower. With outside TAA consultants, they developed a radical plan to concentrate on commercial uses of their products that emphasized perpetual restocking rather than consumer products as final articles. This entailed converting from producing hundreds of low-cost, finished products a week to producing dozens of high-cost units and thousands of micro-orders of replacement articles. The company reversed sales declines in a surprisingly short time.

Threats from imports tend to be severe. They may have an insurmountable cost advantage. Under these conditions, the domestic company cannot win by just trying harder – something has to change. The first thing that has to change is the plan for the business. Deferred improvements might become urgent necessities. Incompletely conceived ideas about a change in the business model might have to be seriously considered. In future posts, I’ll talk about challenges of implementation.

Our role at the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center is to help small and medium-sized companies that are negatively affected by trade. Sometimes called “made in America grants” this federal program offers a matching fund for outside expertise of up to $75,000 for qualifying companies.  NWTAAC serves companies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. You can learn more about us at NWTAAC.org.

NEW US WTO CASE AGAINST ALUMINUM FROM CHINA

On January 12, 2017, in the attached notice, Obama Administration Files WTO Complaint on China’s Subsidies to Aluminum Produ, USTR announced that it was bringing a WTO case against China for its subsidies to aluminum producers.  As the notice states in part:

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that the United States has launched a new trade enforcement complaint agains the People’s Republic of China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China’s subsidies to certain producers of primary aluminum.  This action follows numerous bilateral eforts by the Obama Adminisration to persuade China to take strong seps to address the excess capacity situation in its aluminum sector.  The complaint fled today begins a process to address U.S. concerns that China’s subsidies appear to have caused “serious prejudice” under WTO rules to U.S. interests by artifcially expanding Chinese capacity, production and market share and causing a significant lowering in the global price for primary aluminum. Today’s announcement marks the 16th trade enforcement challenge the Obama Adminisration has launched agains China at the WTO.

“This lates challenge once again demonsrates the Obama Adminisration’s unwavering commitment to ensuring a fair and level playing field for American workers and businesses,” said United States Trade Representative Michael Froman. “Artifcially cheap loans from banks and low-priced inputs for Chinese aluminum are contributing to excess capacity and undercutting American workers and businesses. Today’s action follows significant engagement by this Adminisration on excess capacity and demonstrates our commitment to hold China to its trade obligations. Our record of tough enforcement with China speaks for itself: When China cheats, we’ve been right there, securing recourse for our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses. This is the 16th time we have taken action agains China at the WTO, and we’ve won every challenge that has been decided.”

CANADA AND JAPAN JUMP INTO CHINA’S WTO CASE AGANST THE US AND EC FOR FAILURE TO GIVE CHINA MARKET ECONOMY STATUS IN AD AND CVD CASES

As indicated in the past blog post, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, from the Chinese point of view December 11, 2016 is the date when countries can no longer treat China as a nonmarket economy under their antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) law.  Neither the United States nor the EC declared China a market economy country on December 11th so predictably China filed a WTO complaint against the US and EC over their price comparison methodologies used in their AD and CVD laws.

On January 5, 2017, Canada and Japan decided to jump into the WTO case as third-party observers, citing the case’s potential to dramatically alter global antidumping laws.  As Canada stated in its announcement:

“In many cases, Canadian exports to the United States compete directly with exports from China. As a result, Canada has a substantial trade interest in these proceedings which concern the ability of U.S. investigating authorities to properly determine normal values for allegedly dumped Chinese exports.”

As the Japanese Government stated:

“The legal basis of China’s complaint identified in its requests, if accepted, appears to affect anti-dumping investigation practice of many WTO Members … and in turn have substantial impact on international trade involving products originating in China.  Japan is one of the major importers of goods … from China and one of the users of anti-dumping measures.”

The dispute is at the consultation stage, but will soon move on to a WTO panel.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

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

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

Because of this situation, this part of the newsletter will concentrate on trade cases in other countries and how other countries see the trade problem with the United States.

CHINA

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law.  Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2016.47 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2016.48 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.01 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.02.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

BASKETBALL BACKBOARD COMPONENTS

On December 30, 2016, in the attached ITC notice, BASKETBALL 337, Lifetime Products, Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against Russell Brands, LLC d/b/a Spalding, Bowling Green, Kentucky; and Reliable Sports Equipment (Wujiang) Co. Ltd.,   China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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