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

  1. If anyone wants to unsubscribe to the newsletter, please let me know and I will remove them from the list.

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

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

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP, APPOINTMENTS, TRADE POLICY, TAA FOR COMPANIES, CHINA NME AT WTO, SOLAR CELLS, HARDWOOD PLYWOOD, CYBERHACKING, TRADE CASES IN CHINA, CANADA AND MEXICO

US Capital Pennsylvania Avenue 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 DECEMBER 19, 2016

Dear Friends,

This newsletter contains several articles about trade and Trump after his victory on November 8th.  As mentioned in my last blog post, the Trump victory will have a significant impact on trade policy.  The TPP is dead.

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?

Will there be a trade war with China and other countries?  Trump’s tough talk on the One China policy indicates a trade war, but his appointments to the US Ambassador to China and to the Commerce Department Secretary indicate the contrary.  Trump, however, may be trying to use uncertainty to create leverage and a deal with the Chinese government on trade and other issues.

Will Trump use taxes to give US manufacturing an advantage at the detriment of imports?

Trump will try and do everything possible to increase jobs in the United States.  Hopefully, that will mean more support to Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, which is the only effective US trade remedy that saves companies and the jobs that go with them without damaging US downstream production.

In addition, this blog post describes the recent WTO complaint China filed against the United States and the EC for failing to give it market economy status under the US and EC antidumping and countervailing duty laws.  The newsletter also gives the upcoming deadlines under the Solar Cells and Hardwood Plywood cases against China.

Under the Universal Trade War theme, under China is an article on ways in which the Chinese government can retaliate against US companies in the trade war and newsletters from a Chinese law firm.  In addition, under Canada attached is an article from Dan Kiselbach, a Canadian trade lawyer, about whether the Trump Administration can truly get out of NAFTA and also information about the recent Softwood Lumber Case against Canada.  Finally, from Mexico there is information about a recent Carbon Steel Pipe and Tube case filed against imports from Korea, India, Spain and Ukraine, along with a brief description of Mexican antidumping law.

Finally, there is an announcement from the Justice Department about the accomplishments in the recent US/China meetings on Computer Hacking and also recent 337 intellectual property cases against China.

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

TRADE AND TRADE POLICY

TRUMP AND TRADE – A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP OR A SAVVY NEGOTIGATOR?

On December 2, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump took a phone call from President Ing Wen Tsai of Taiwan.  Trump’s decision to take the phone call from the Taiwan President created a fire storm as commentators questioned whether the United States would stick to the “one China” policy that implies that Taiwan is a part of China and that the long term relationship between China and the US would change.

In response, many commentators wrote articles suggesting that Trump was a “Bull in a China shop”, a clumsy inexperienced person taking actions without thinking about consequences.  Chinese media called Trump “an ignorant child.”

It has since come out that the specific phone call with President Tsai had been discussed for several months and set up by former Republican Congressional leader Bob Dole.  In fact, in addition to taking the call from President Tsai, President-elect, Trump met with Henry Kissinger, who is serving as a liaison for the Chinese government.

Instead of a Bull in China Shop, what President-Elect Donald Trump may have been trying to do with China is create a perception of strength and set up a sense of uncertainty.  What is Trump going to do?

President Ronald Reagan was a master at playing a similar game.  Projecting strength and also a feeling of uncertainty.  What is Reagan going to do?  Reagan’s projection of strength and uncertainty created agreements with Russia that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A projection of strength and a sense of uncertainty gives Trump something Reagan had—leverage, which makes it easier to negotiate better deals.

On December 11. 2016, Trump stated on Fox News:

“I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

Companies and countries should not make the mistake that many in the mainstream US media have made.  Do not underestimate Donald Trump.  He is not an ignorant child and many of his advisors are very knowledgeable about China.  Trump wants a deal with China and he will not give something for nothing.

TRUMP’S APPOINTMENTS DO NOT INDICATE A TRADE WAR WITH CHINA

BRANSTAD TO BE AMBASSADOR TO CHINA

Through his appointments, Trump is indicating that he realizes how important the relationship is with China and he intends to appoint experts that understand China.  On December 7th at a “Thank You” rally in Iowa, President-elect Trump announced that six term Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will be his pick for Ambassador to China.  Governor Branstad has personally known Chinese President Xi Jinping since 1985 when Branstad was governor of Iowa and Xi was an agricultural official in northern China. For two weeks, Xi stayed with a family in the town of Muscatine, Iowa, an experience he likes to recall when visiting the State.  Subsequently he met with Gov. Branstad in 2012 as vice chairman of the Chinese government.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang welcomed Branstad as an “old friend of the Chinese people” playing “a bigger role in China–U.S. relations”.

Branstad is also a friend of Trump, working actively on Trump’s campaign.  During the general election, his son, Eric Branstad, managed Trump’s campaign in the state. Trump then won in Iowa, 51% of the vote to 42% for Clinton.

This appointment may be a signal that President-elect Trump does not want a trade war with China because Iowa has $2.3 billion in exports to China mostly agricultural exports, including corn and soybeans.  Trump’s selection of Branstad for the most important diplomatic position to China suggests that the president-elect wants to keep negotiating channels open with Beijing, rather than adopt a knee jerk confrontational attitude

On December 8, 2016, at a speech in Iowa, which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rPh9YG3AmY, Trump stated:

“One of the most important relationships we must improve and we have to improve is our relationship with China.  The nation of China is responsible for almost of half of America’s trade deficit.

China is not a market economy they got a lot of help and that is why we designate them as being them as a nonmarket economy.  Big thing.”

Trump went on to state, that the Chinese government has not “played by the rules, and they know it’s time that they’re going to start.” Trump went on to cite that China was responsible for “massive theft of intellectual property,” “putting unfair taxes on our companies,” “massive devaluation of their currency” and “product dumping”.

Trump further stated that the Ambassador he was going to appoint to China has “lots of friends there”.  According to Trump, Branstad requested that Trump not speak ill of China because in Iowa “we do well with China”.

Trump also stated that he is looking to work on the relationship between China and the US and that Governor Branstad “knows China and likes China” and “knows how to deliver results.”  Trump went on to state that Governor Branstad is highly respected by Chinese officials and a great friend of mine.

Donald Trump finished by stating “We’re going to have mutual respect, and China is going to benefit and we’re going to benefit. And Terry is going to lead the way.”

As the phone call with President Tsai of Taiwan indicates and his statement to Fox News, Trump is no push over.  There is a new strong President in town so do not try and bully him.  This President has options.

On the other hand, during the Primary and even after the election, well-respected conservative newspapers and commentators have stated that President Trump has to be careful not to create a trade war, especially with China.  As recently as November 30, 2016, in Investors Business Daily, the one newspaper that projected a Trump victory prior to the election, two commentators, Congressman David Mcintosh and Scott Linicome in an article entitled “Trump Should Tread Softly On His New Trade Agenda” stated:

“exploiting ambiguities in the current web of U.S. trade laws to enact the President’s trade priorities by executive fiat could engender opposition from Congress, the U.S. business community and U.S. trading partners, thus leading to court challenges similar to those fled by the Republican Congress against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The crucial difference, however, is that the months of uncertainty surrounding the trade challenges would imperil trillions of dollars’ worth of goods and services, especially if the courts refused to enjoin the executive branch from acting while any such litigation is pending.”

WILBUR ROSS—NEXT COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SECRETARY

In addition, as explained in more detail below, Trump has decided to appoint billionaire private equity investor Wilbur Ross, a Warren Buffet type, to be the next Commerce Department Secretary.  Trump’s decision to appoint Ross, a brilliant investor, industry expert and deal maker, indicates a decision to put trade/business professionals at the highest level in his Administration, who are very experienced with regard to business, international competition and China.

Ross was one of the important creators of Trump’s economic plan, which the campaign claimed will increase federal revenues by $1.7 trillion.  With regards to Tariffs, Ross has specifically stated:

“Tariffs will be used not as an end game but rather as a negotiating tool to encourage our trading partners to cease cheating.  If, however, the cheating does not stop, Trump will impose appropriate defensive tariffs to level the playing field.”

In this video interview with the Epoch Times, Wilbur Ross himself shows a great knowledge of the US relationship with China, http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1751796-billionaire-investor-wilbur-ross-china-still-lags-us-in-innovation/.  In the video, Ross acknowledges that although China has made progress, the US is the most innovative country in the World.  Ross also states that in 2003 when he spoke out against China he was acquiring the majority interest in Bethlehem Steel and he was against Chinese companies’ product dumping:

“namely selling products for less in a foreign market than their true price in your domestic market.

That’s the kind of activity that we think should be protected against. We are generally free market people but what was happening back in the early 2000s with steel and what is starting to happen again, is that product was actually being sold in this country for less than the total cost of manufacturing it.

That’s not legitimate competition. If someone can make things more inexpensively in their country and sell it here that’s fine with me. But it shouldn’t be that they have one price in their country and a lower price outside.”

In the video Ross further states that the reason China was dumping is:

“they had a period of overcapacity and because China is so much about jobs as opposed to profits, it was very important for the government to maintain jobs. So to maintain jobs they had to maintain production, even though there was not enough demand for it. The way they tried to solve the problem was by dumping it outside.”

Ross is correct that with its large overcapacity, most Chinese steel companies were dumping and probably at very high rates.  But as indicated below, since the Commerce Department continues to treat China as a nonmarket economy and refuses to look at actual costs and prices in China, no one knows for certain which Chinese companies are truly dumping and what the real dumping rate of the Chinese companies is.

With regard to Chinese innovation, Ross indicates that he is very knowledgeable about China stating:

“China is coming along in terms of innovation. They now have the world’s biggest and fastest computer. That would have been unimaginable a decade ago. They’ve launched spaceships into outer space. They have not yet gotten to be as innovative as the United States is, nobody has been as innovative. Year after year the United States gets more patents than any other country by a wide margin. Interestingly, it’s Japan that comes in second.”

As to why China lags the US in innovation, Ross states:

“The United States is basically a free market economy and their entrepreneurship has been highly prized here for centuries and centuries so there’s a real tradition of risk-taking. Innovation involves a lot of risk-taking.

A state-owned enterprise is much less likely to be a big risk-taker then private capital. Since China had been so dominated by the state-owned enterprises it’s hard in a big bureaucratic system to be innovative. Look at the U.S. government itself, what interesting innovations have they come up with?”

Being a Warren Buffet type and very involved in the US Stock market, Wilbur Ross also has very educated views about the problems with the China Stock Market:

We think that China has two separate problems right now. One is the market itself, the equity market, and that got completely out of control. . . .

I think what then happened, the government seemed to have panicked and made lots and lots of very panicky moves. They first raised the margin requirement then they lowered it. They threw hundreds of billions of dollars into the market. Now they’re prosecuting people who spread negative stories about the market.

I think the difficulty with all that is, when a government shows signs of panic, particularly a government that historically has been able to control what happens pretty well, when that government shows panic it makes people more frightened, not less frightened.

Like many China experts, Ross believes that China’s growth numbers are not accurate:

The Chinese economy clearly is not growing at anything like 7 percent. We have felt for a couple of years that those figures were very, very generous. If you look at physical indicators—electricity consumption, natural gas consumption, oil consumption, cement consumption, steel consumption, telecom consumption, retails sales—if you look at all those indicators, none of them were growing at a rate that was equal to 7 percent and neither were the exports.

With regard to economic reform in China, Ross states:

I think what they’re trying to do is several things all at once and that makes it very challenging.

They’re trying to become more of a consumer-driven economy, but the reality is that their largest driver is capital investment. It’s hard to make that transition because capital investment is still about 44 percent of the economy.

They’re trying to make the transition, but meanwhile they’re doing the very- much-needed anti-corruption drive and that in a strange way has hurt consumer spending.  . . .

I think they’ll get there, just that the transition is a hard one. Meanwhile there is super-imposed upon it, the economic issues in the rest of the world. Combined with China’s rising labor costs and the very strong currency, make it very difficult to be an exporter.

These responses along with the video indicate that Ross is not a knee-jerk protectionist and has a deep knowledge of China, which does not indicate a trade war any time soon.

COULD TAXES BE THE WAY TRUMP MAKES US INDUSTRY GREAT AGAIN

On the other hand, Trump and Republicans in Congress may be creating an alternative to tariffs to spur US manufacturing and that is taxes.  In the Congress, one proposal in the House Republicans’ tax-reform plan is to give American-made products a big tax advantage over their foreign competitors.  Although some commentators have pointed to a potential trade war, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady stated, “We are now in the process of designing all aspects of our ‘Build for Growth’ tax plan to withstand any WTO challenge. We’re confident we can win any case.”

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.  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.

According to tax experts, this new tax plan would offset inversions and other types of international tax avoidance because companies would have less incentive to go to other countries looking for tax savings. The proposal would also finance a huge chunk of the Republicans’ overall tax plan — the Tax Policy Center estimates border adjustments would raise $1.2 trillion, making it the third-largest pay-for in the plan.

The proposal is already controversial because it threatens big tax increases to many large retailers, such as Walmart and Home Depot and other companies, which heavily rely on imports.

But critics say it would also violate free-trade agreements by favoring American-made goods over imports. That’s because, while they would all be subject to the same 20 percent tax, U.S. companies would be able to deduct the cost of workers’ pay when calculating their tax bills. Imports would not be given the same treatment and the difference could be dramatic.

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.

On December 7, 2016, Koch Industries came out against the Border Adjustment provision of the new tax overhaul with Philip Ellender, the head of government affairs at Koch Companies Public Sector LLC, stating that the so-called border adjustment proposal currently being considered by Republican lawmakers:

“would adversely impact American consumers by forcing them to pay higher prices on products produced in and goods imported to the U.S. that they use every single day.  While companies like Koch who manufacture and produce many products domestically would greatly benefit in the short-term, the long term consequences to the economy and the American consumer could be devastating.”

Another problem is the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) allows border adjustments for so-called indirect taxes on transactions, such as value-added taxes, but not on direct taxes, such as income taxes. The Republican plan is a hybrid, raising questions about how the WTO would categorize it.

Any change in US tax treatment could be challenged by other countries in the WTO as a violation of the WTO Agreement of most favored nation, which requires imports to be treated the same as domestically produced products.  If a WTO tribunal were to rule against the United States, the prevailing countries could be allowed to retaliate against US exports to account for the injury to their exports, which could be as high at $1.2 trillion.

But any challenge in the WTO will take years to litigate.  A good example of this is the Byrd Amendment.  The Byrd Amendment allowed US petitioner companies to get the dumping and countervailing duties collected by Customs.  The Byrd Amendment passed in 2000 and after WTO litigation resulting in possible retaliation by other countries against the United States, the Congress repealed the Byrd Amendment in December 2005 on 51 to 50 vote in the Senate with Vice President Cheney breaking the tie.  But for five years US petitioners collected the duties.

So instead of a direct protectionism using tariffs, any protectionism may be indirect, but it will have the same effect.  Give US companies a major incentive to produce their products in the US, rather than rely on imports.

But the real problem with the tax plan is international trade/globalization victimhood which will lead the companies not to make the changes they need to make to be competitive.  Just like the steel industry, US companies would continue to hunker down behind protectionist walls and never modernize their production to meet competition.  That is the problem.  As President Reagan himself observed, protectionism makes companies weaker not stronger and in the end does not save the companies and industries that are being protected.

On December 13th in a letter to Congress more than 50 retail and manufacturing associations urged Congress to abandon border tax adjustments saying the proposal to increase taxes on all imports could hurt domestic industry.  Although the retail groups argue that border tax adjustments could raise consumer prices, as the letter states the real problem is the impact of higher raw material costs on downstream US production:

“Companies that rely on global supply chains would face huge business challenges caused by increased taxes and increased cost of goods, which would in turn likely result in reductions in employment, reduced capital investments and higher prices for consumers.”

Congress does not care if prices for consumer products go up a few dollars at Walmart, but what happens when US downstream producers in Congressional districts are forced to close down because of higher raw material costs.  As one friend, who represented a major steel producer for years, told me, the total employment in the entire Steel industry is less than one high tech company and yet we want to protect the Steel industry at the expense of downstream high value added US production?

TRUMP APPOINTS WILBUR ROSS A PRAGMATIST TO BE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SECRETARY

As indicated above, President Elect Donald Trump has announced that he will appoint billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as the next Secretary of Commerce.  Ross is a pragmatist, not an ideologue, who understands and values the problems of the working class more than other capitalists.  As Ross states in the following video http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1750905-billionaire-investor-wilbur-ross-on-the-people-factor-in-investing/:

“That man who has stood behind a machine for 15 or 20 years, he knows better than the people who built it, how to get more productivity out of it. So you need   to create an environment where he feels someone will pay attention if he makes a suggestion, and if it turns out to be a good suggestion, that he’ll be rewarded for it.”

Ross, worth $2.9 billion according to Forbes, has made his name in distressed assets investments and rose to fame turning around Bethlehem Steel for a short time as well as Burlington Industries.  Ross also worked closely with labor unions, stating:

“There’s a big misconception in management–labor relations throughout the industrial world; too often management and labor view each other as adversaries. We truly view labor as our partner because they only have one company they’re working with and we only have one group of workers.

So we think it’s very important that we have a good, functional relationship. We don’t negotiate with unions having a big battalion of lawyers and accountants and human relations people. We tend to negotiate mano-a-mano with the union leadership. Once we’ve worked out the essence of the deal, we then turn it over.”

Ross probably knows the Rust Belt better than any politician, one of the reasons why President-elect Trump picked him.   In the early 2000s he combined Acme Steel, LTV Steel, and Bethlehem Steel saving all of them from bankruptcy for a short period of time and returning the employees to the job but under new work rules and with 401(k)s instead of pensions.

Meanwhile, in early 2000, China suddenly had an insatiable demand for steel, combined with the U.S. automakers’ zero-percent financing push.  American steel was suddenly red hot. The price per ton of rolled steel soared and Ross took the new entity, ISG, public in December 2003.  Ross then sold ISG combined entity to Indian steel giant Mittal in 2005 for $4.5 billion.  As Ross stated:

“It’s nice being the chairman of a huge company in a vital industry. But it’s nicer to make fourteen times your initial investment in just two years.”

Eventually, however, Bethlehem Steel fell into bankruptcy.

OPEN LETTER TO NEW COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SECRETARY WILBUR ROSS— ONLY TRADE REMEDY PROGRAMS THAT SAVE US COMPANIES—TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES AND MEP

The Honorable Wilbur Ross

New Commerce Department Secretary Trump Administration

Re: Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies and MEP– Only Trade Remedy Programs That Save US Companies

Dear Secretary Ross,

The Press reports that President-elect Donald Trump has nominated you to be the next Commerce Department secretary.  Your expertise in working with bankrupt US companies, such as Bethlehem Steel, gives the United States a unique chance to make its industry great again.

In the 1980s during the Reagan Administration, I worked at the Commerce Department and before that at the US International Trade Commission.  Since the 1980s, I have represented many US importers/foreign producers in international trade cases, including metal, chemical and steel products, and am now on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center in Seattle, Washington, which provides assistance to US companies injured by imports.

In my experience, ultimately these unfair trade cases do not work.  Although they provide a breathing space, they do not save the companies and the jobs that go with them.  Importers simply switch to a new country.  Both of us have experience with Bethlehem Steel, which had 40 years of trade protection from steel imports through various antidumping and other trade orders.  Where is Bethlehem Steel today? Green fields.

But trade cases also create enormous collateral damage in downstream industries that need competitive raw material inputs.  Many US companies may use the cases to hide behind protectionist walls.  The “hunker down” mindset is not in America’s DNA.  Instead, this nation’s manufacturing businesses need to regain the competitive dynamism they once possessed. We need a new aggressive US manufacturing policy unleashing American global competitiveness to make companies strong enough to not only survive, but thrive in the US market.

A starting point would be for the Commerce Department to build upon two existing programs that have proven track records of success in this area that can be quickly ramped up and can have an immediate and tangible impact on the 250,000 small and medium manufacturing companies which serve as the bases of our supply chain: EDA’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms /Companies (“TAAF”) and NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (“MEP”) (inexplicably, these programs have been marginalized by the Obama Administration).  TAAF has 11 regional (multi-state) TAAF Centers but the program has been cut to only $12.5 million annually. The system has the band-width to increase to a run rate of $50 million.  Projecting a four-year ramp up of $90 million (FY18-FY21), the TAA program could serve an additional 2,150 companies.

No federal funds go to any companies in the program. In fact, companies are required to pay into the program by matching any federal monies on a dollar-for-dollar basis. This sharing of costs between Uncle Sam and the companies creates a pool of seed dollars subsequently used to hire outside professionals. These professionals create a series of knowledge-based projects aimed at permanently upgrading key business processes over the span of several years. Here’s the kicker – the program does not block imports in any way.

Does it work? Yes it does. In the Northwest, where I am located, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program since 1984. The Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, 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.

NIST’s MEP program provides high quality management and technical assistance to the nation’s small manufacturers through independent Centers in every State and Puerto Rico, staffed by non-federal advanced manufacturing experts and is one of the remedies suggested by TAAF.  MEP reaches nearly 30,000 firms each year, and works intensively (think “McKinsey for manufacturers”) with nearly 10,000 of them.  As a consequence of a just completed nation-wide reinvention and reform of the program, MEP is positioned to assist even more companies.  Currently funded at $130 million, a commitment of $100 million over four years would serve an additional 8400 firms.  These funds could be targeted to those small and medium enterprises that are the base of our domestic supply chain, critical to your overall reshoring agenda.  Like the TAAF program, no MEP funds go directly to the companies, which instead are required to cost share the cost of expert consultants.  They have “skin in the game”.

Increasing funding will allow the TAA for Firms/Companies and the MEP programs to expand their bandwidth and provide relief to larger enterprises, including possibly even steel producers.  If companies that use steel can be saved, why can’t those who produce it?

Attached is a longer proposal on how to expand TAA for Firms/Companies and the MEP Program to make US companies more competitive again.

I wish you great success in your new appointment.  It gives me a level of confidence for the future of America’s manufacturing base that hasn’t been felt for quite some time.

I hope that the above has been of some interest. I would consider it an honor to expand on it in person if you think it appropriate.

Very truly yours,

William Perry

CHINA SUES US AND EC IN WTO FOR FAILURE TO GIVE CHINA MARKET ECONOMY STATUS IN AD AND CVD CASES ON DECEMBER 11, 2016

As indicated in past blog posts, 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 country 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 has filed a WTO complaint against the US and EC over their price comparison methodologies used in their AD and CVD laws.

On December 12, 2016, in the attached notice, wto-2016-news-items-china-files-wto-complaint-against-us-eu-over-price-comp, the WTO announced:

“China notified the WTO Secretariat that it had requested dispute consultations with the United States and the European Union regarding special calculation methodologies used by the US and EU in anti-dumping proceedings.”

Pursuant to US antidumping law, since China is a nonmarket economy country, Commerce refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine whether a Chinese company is dumping.  Instead Commerce constructs a cost for the Chinese company using consumption factor information from China and “surrogate” values from import statistics in 5 to 10 different surrogate countries. In its proceedings, the Commerce Department can choose value data from different countries between a preliminary and final determination and between initial investigation to review investigation.   Because of the numerous surrogate values from many different surrogate countries, it is impossible for the Chinese company, never mind the US importer, to know whether the Chinese company is dumping.

As former USTR General Counsel Warren Maruyama recently stated:

“The nonmarket economy methodology tends to generate extremely high margins and a lot of Chinese companies have basically concluded that it’s futile to defend NME cases, so this is a dispute with extremely high stakes for both sides.”

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

Price Comparability in Determining Subsidies and Dumping . . .

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

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

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

In other words, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, Commerce’s right to us a nonmarket economy methodology in Article 15 (a)(ii) “shall expire 15 years after the date of accession”.  China acceded to the WTO on December 11, 2001 so Section 15(d) should have taken effect on December 11, 2016, but did not.

But where did the 15 years come from?  It came from a demand by the United States in the 2000 US China WTO negotiations and the resulting US-China WTO Accession Agreement. In fact, several years ago, former USTR Charlene Barshefsky, who negotiated the US China WTO Agreement, was asked at a conference in Beijing where the 15 years came from.  Her response was that she knew what she needed to get from the Chinese government to get the Agreement through Congress.  A USTR negotiator once told me that, in fact, this was “nonnegotiable demand” from the US government.  So you would think that the US government would follow the Agreement it negotiated with China and the demand that it made of the Chinese government.  Not so fast.

The United States’ apparent position is that although the 15 years was demanded by the US, since the 15 years is in not in a Treaty approved by Congress, the US does not have to follow the provision because it is not in the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty law.

Iran has market economy status and has always been considered a market economy country.  Although once classified as nonmarket economy countries, Russia and Ukraine have market economy status under the US antidumping law.  Why and how did they become market economy countries?

For Russia, it was 911.  As a result, of the 911 attack the US government wanted Russian bases to attack Afghanistan.  President Putin told the United States Government make Russia a market economy country under the US antidumping law.  Secretary Evans of Commerce flew into Russia and said looks like a market economy to me.  See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2032498.stm; http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/washington-mulls-status-of-russias-economy/247431.html; http://www.russialist.org/archives/5545-4.php.

As CBS news stated about the announcement:

The Russian leader has aggressively pursued closer ties with the West since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and many analysts had predicted the United States would grant Russia market economy status and help in its WTO bid in exchange for Putin’s strong support for the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/russia-joins-club-capitalism/

Sources in China reported that when he learned about the decision then Premier Zhu Rongyi in China was extremely angry, stating how could Russia get market economy before China?  The answer—politics and the Chinese know it.

What about Ukraine?  How did it get market economy?  Orange Revolution.  On February 17, 2006, Commerce determined that Ukraine is a market economy country.  See http://www.trade.gov/press/press_releases/2006/ukraine_021706.asp; 71 Fed. Reg. 9520 (February 24, 2006).

Regarding China’s challenged in the WTO, Nicholas R. Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, recently stated:

“I think this is potentially far more significant than most trade disputes … because the Chinese believe, with some justification, that they were promised something both verbally and in writing back at the time when they were negotiating their accession and now both Europe and the United States are walking away from it.”

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA PRELIMINARY DETERMINATION

On December 19, 2016, the Commerce Department issued the attached preliminary determination, 2014-2015-solar-cells-from-china-preliminary-determination, in the 2014-2015 antidumping revivew investigation on Solar Cells from China.  Trina received an antidumping rate of 7.72%, Canadian Solar 30.42% and separate rate companies received a rate of 13.97%, the weighted average of Trina and Canadian Solar’s dumping rates.  These are just preliminary rates and those rates can change in six months in a preliminary determination.

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA REVIEW INVESTIGATION STARTS THIS MONTH

As indicated in the attached Commerce Department review notice, december-2016-commerce-opportunity-to-request-reviews, this is the month to request review investigations in the Solar Cells ( formal name “Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells”) from China case.  Requests for review investigation must be filed at the Commerce Department by December 31st.

There has been much confusion about the difference between the Solar Cells case and the Solar Products (formal name “Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products”) case.

The Solar Cells from China case covers exports and imports of Chinese Solar Panels with Chinese produced solar cells in them. The anniversary month is December to request a review investigation and the review period will cover imports and sales of Solar Cells to the United States during the period December 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016.

The Solar Products from China case covers exports and imports of Chinese Solar Panels with foreign produced solar cells in them. The anniversary month is February to request a review investigation and the review period will cover imports and sales of Solar Products to the United States during the period February 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017.

NEW HARDWOOD PLYWOOD AD AND CVD CASE AGAINST CHINA

On November 18th, the Coalition for Fair Trade in Hardwood Plywood and its individual members: Columbia Forest Products (Greensboro, NC), Commonwealth Plywood Inc. (Whitehall, NY), Murphy Plywood (Eugene, OR), Roseburg Forest Products Co. (Roseburg, OR), States Industries, Inc. (Eugene, OR), and Timber Products Company (Springfield, OR) filed an AD and CVD case against imports of hardwood plywood from China.

On December 9, 2016, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-prc-hardwood-plywood-products-ad-cvd-initiation-120916, the Commerce Department initiated the AD and CVD cases.  To get a separate antidumping rate in the AD case, Chinese companies must submit a quantity and value questionnaire by December 22, 2016 and a separate rates application by January 13, 2017.

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

STEEL TRADE CASES

On November 30, 2016, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-multiple-clt-plate-ad-final-113016, Commerce announced its affirmative final determinations in the AD investigations of imports of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey.  The Brazil AD rate is 74.52%.  The South African rate ranges from 87.72% to 94.14%.  The Turkey rate ranges from 42.02% to 50%.

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

HOW THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT CAN RETALIATE

What Happens When Trump Starts a Trade War with China

By Adams Lee, Partner, Harris Bricken

During the campaign, Donald Trump said “we can’t continue to allow China to rape our country” and vowed to aggressively fight back against China’s unfair trade practices. Trump promised his trade agenda would:

(1) declare China to be a currency manipulator,

(2) impose a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese imports into the U.S.,

(3) abandon/ renegotiate “bad” trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and

4) use the full arsenal of US trade laws against Chinese unfair trade practices.

President-elect Trump’s trade actions likely will raise many legal and policy questions.  Can he really do that? Should he do that? Will those actions achieve anything? Pundits, academics, lawyers, and ultimately U.S. judges will weigh in on these questions, but it is fair to assume China will not wait for the resolution of these questions.  Instead China likely will retaliate with its own actions. This post looks at three possible ways China could respond to any attempts under the Trump administration to get tough against China.

  • China’s AD/ CVD Actions

Unbeknownst to many, China has initiated many of its own antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) actions against the United States and other countries.  Having been on the receiving end of the most number of AD/CVD actions worldwide, China has incorporated into its own AD/CVD procedures some of the most effective techniques and practices from the AD/CVD investigations conducted by the U.S., EU, and other jurisdictions. For example, China’s AD questionnaires have burdensome and comprehensive sales and cost data requests, similar to, and even exceeding US practice. China’s AD/CVD margin calculation methodologies are as non-transparent as the EU’s margin calculations. China has even copied many of the annoying administrative practices of the US and EU such as giving only limited extensions, disregarding national holidays, or insisting on burdensome filing requirements (e.g., all documents of all filings must be fully translated into Chinese).

To date, China’s AD/CVD actions have largely been symbolic and timed to be initiated after specific U.S. actions against China.  Although many of China’s AD/CVD cases have involved well-known companies (e.g., Corning, Dupont, Tyson Foods, Cadillac), most of these cases have had only limited economic impact. For example, in 2010, China imposed AD/CVD duties against U.S. chicken broiler products after the U.S. imposed special safeguard duties against Chinese tires in 2009. Most of the U.S. exports to China were of chicken feet, which had limited demand in the U.S., other than as a byproduct to make animal feed.

More recent China AD/CVD actions, however, have had greater strategic economic impact.  After the US and EU filed AD/CVD actions against Chinese solar cells and modules in 2011, China retaliated by initiating its own AD/CVD actions against solar-grade polysilicon from the United States, EU and Korea. China’s AD/CVD action effectively closed off the largest export market for US polysilicon producers, and was a significant contributing factor to REC Silicon’s decision to shutter its polysilicon production operations in Washington and Montana.

Even more recently, China in late September announced preliminary AD duties of 33.8% and CVD duties of up to 10.7% against imports of U.S. distillers dried grains (DDGS), an ethanol by-product used as animal feed. The U.S exported $1.6 billion of DDGS to China in 2015.

China apparently already has an AD/CVD action prepared against U.S. soybeans exports to China and is just waiting for the right time to initiate the action. The U.S. is the largest producer and exporter of soybeans and exported over $10 billion of soybeans to China in 2015.  If Trump wants to get tough against China, US soybean producers may well become collateral damage in the latest round of the escalating US-China trade war.

  • China’s Antitrust Enforcement

Another option for China to respond against any anti-China trade actions from the U.S. would be through the enforcement of its antitrust laws.  Although China implemented its anti-monopoly law only in 2008, China has become increasingly active in reviewing mergers and investigating abuse of market dominance. In February 2015, Qualcomm paid $975 million fine to settle Chinese antitrust investigations into its alleged abuse of market dominant position.  In 2016, China’s antitrust authorities have targeted pharmaceuticals, medical devices, vehicle manufacturing, ocean shipping, and smart manufacturing as industries of particular concern.  U.S. companies operating in these industries should be aware of possible dawn raids of its corporate offices in China and other enforcement action by Chinese antitrust authorities. Because these industries are already prioritized for extra scrutiny, China could ramp up its antitrust enforcement actions as an indirect way to retaliate quickly against Trump’s actions against China.

  • China’s Criminal Enforcement

China could also retaliate by simply enforcing its own criminal laws against foreign (i.e., U.S.) company officials while in China. Earlier this month, China detained at least three employees of Crown Resorts, Ltd, an Australian gambling company, and will be pursuing criminal charges because under Chinese law casinos are not allowed to promote gambling in China or organize groups to go to casinos overseas. No one knows where and when the next China anti-corruption effort will occur, but foreign companies doing business in China in important or politically sensitive industries need to be extra cautious.  Company officials need to know which way the wind is blowing in China, particularly when Trump’s enflamed trade rhetoric may trigger Chinese backlash.

So far, although Trump has talked a lot about China, China has taken the high road noting that U.S.-China trade relations are “too big to fail”. China appears to be waiting to see if Trump’s actions will in fact harm China.  For example, Trump’s decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership actually opens the door for China to step in and fill the TPP void by promoting its own regional trade agreement (RCEP – Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership).  If, however, Trump does do anything that China considers excessive, it would be naïve to think China will do nothing.  Unlike the U.S.-Japan trade wars from the 1980s, China has a home market that is often the biggest export market for US producers. China has many options under its own laws to directly or indirectly retaliate against U.S. interests.  Anyone wishing to do business in China or with China should consider these risks that they could be targeted for symbolic retaliation in a spiraling US-China trade war.

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-44, teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-45 teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-46, from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office.

CANADA

LUMBER FROM CANADA CASE COMES BACK

On November 25, 2016, the Committee Overseeing Action for Lumber International Trade or Negotiations, the domestic lumber companies, filed an antidumping and countervailing petition against softwood lumber products from China.  In the attached notice, factsheet-canada-softwood-lumber-productsad-cvd-initiation-121616, on December 16, 2016, the Commerce Department initiated an antidumping and countervailing duty case on solftwood lumber products from Canada.

THE CANADIAN VIEW

In attached footnoted article, trumpnaftafinal, Dan Kiselbach, a well-known Canadian Trade and Customs lawyer, at Deloitte Tax Law in Vancouver, Canada discusses whether and how Trump can cancel NAFTA.

MEXICO

MEXICAN ANTIDUMPING CASE—CARBON STEEL TUBE FROM KOREA, SPAIN AND UKRAINE.

On December 15, 2016, in the attached notice in Spanish, dof-15-dic-16-resolucion-inicio-investig-antidumping-import-tuberia-de-a, the Mexican Government started up its own antidumping investigation against imports of carbon steel tube from Korea, India, Spain and Ukraine.  A large number of US companies have been named as respondent exporters.  All the exporters are named in pages 7 to 11 of the notice.

In the attached memorandum, carbon-steel-pipe-and-tube-mexicowhich will be attached in full on my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, David Hurtado Badiola, a well known Mexican Trade and Customs lawyer, at Jauregui y Del Valle, S.C. in Mexico states:

Antidumping investigation on seamless carbon steel pipes, originating in Korea, Spain, India and Ukraine.

Below is a summary of the Initial Antidumping Resolution on seamless carbon steel pipes, produced in Korea, Spain, India and Ukraine, published today on the Federal Official Gazette.

The investigation is initiated today for importations of steel pipes described below, carried out at alleged dumping prices.

The products included in the investigation are seamless carbon steel pipes, with different diameters and thicknesses, classified under the following tariffs are:

Tariff fraction Description
Chapter 73 ARTICLES OF IRON OR STEEL
Heading 7304

Tubes, pipes and hollow profiles, seamless, of iron (other than cast iron) or Steel.

Line pipe of a kind used for oil or gas pipelines

Subheading 7304.19 Other

Tariff

7304.19.01

Hot-rolled tubes, uncoated or other surface-worked work, including Hot-drawn or lacquered: of an external diameter not exceeding o equal to 114.3 mm and a wall thickness equal to or exceeding 4 mm without exceeding 19.5 mm

Tariff

7304.19.02

Hot-rolled tubes, uncoated or other surface-worked work, including Hot-drawn or lacquered: of an external diameter

exceeding 114.3 mm but not exceeding 406.4 mm and having a wall thickness of 6,35 mm or more but not exceeding 38.1 mm .

Tariff

7304.19.99

The others.
Subheading 7304.39 Others, of circular cross-section, of iron or non-alloy steel:
Others.

Tariff

7304.39.05

Tubes known as “thermal” or “conducting” tubes, uncoated or surface-worked, including pipes called thermal or conducting, lacquered or varnished: of an external diameter not exceeding or equal to 114.3 mm and having a wall thickness equal to or greater than 4 mm, not to exceeding 19.5 mm.

Tariff

7304.39.06

Tubes known as “thermal” or “conducting” tubes, uncoated or surface-worked, including pipes called thermal or conducting, lacquered or varnished: of an external diameter greater than 114.3 mm not exceeding 406.4 mm and having a wall thickness equal to or greater than 6.35 mm, not to exceeding 38.1 mm.

Tariff

7304.39.99

Others.

There are two different periods covered in an antidumping investigation: (i) the investigated period and (ii) the analyzed period.

The investigated period covers importations from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

The analyzed period is a longer period that covers importations from April 1, 2013 to March 31 2016. This period is used to analyze injury caused by imports at dumping prices.

Every exporter that appears and files the information required is entitled to have its own dumping margin calculated.

Those exporters that do not appear or did not export in the investigated period shall be subject to the “all others rate”, equivalent to the highest duty imposed to the exporters of their country.

The term to file information in the official questionnaire and defense arguments expires on February 9, 2017.

If anyone is interested in participating in the case, please let me know and I will put them in touch with Mexican trade counsel.

COMPUTER HACKING

US AND CHINA MEETING

On December 8, 2016, the Justice Department issued a notice, on the recent high level Joint Dialogue between the United States and China on Cybercrime and Related Issues, which states:

Joint Summary of Outcomes

Yesterday, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, together with Chinese State Councilor and Minister of the Ministry of Public Security Guo Shengkun, co-chaired the third U.S.-China High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues. The dialogue aims to review the timeliness and quality of responses to requests for information and assistance with respect to cybercrime or other malicious cyber activities and to enhance pragmatic bilateral cooperation with regard to cybercrime, network protection and other related issues.

Both sides endorse the establishment of the dialogue mechanism as beneficial to bilateral communication and enhanced cooperation, and believe that further solidifying, developing and maintaining the dialogue mechanism and continuing to strengthen bilateral cooperation in cybersecurity is beneficial to mutual interests.

The outcomes of the third dialogue are listed as below:

  1. Combatting Cybercrime and Cyber-Enabled Crime. Both sides re-commit to cooperate on the investigation of cyber crimes and malicious cyber activities emanating from China or the United States and to refrain from cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial To that end, both sides:
    • Plan to continue the mechanism of the “Status Report on S./China Cybercrime Cases” to evaluate the effectiveness of case cooperation.
    • Affirm that both sides intend to focus cooperation on hacking and cyber-enabled fraud cases, share cybercrime-related leads and information with each other in a timely manner, and determine priority cases for continued law enforcement cooperation. Both sides intend to continue cooperation on cases involving online distribution of child Both sides seek to expand cyber-enabled crime cooperation to counter Darkweb marketplaces’ illicit sale of synthetic drugs and firearms.
    • Seek to provide concrete and timely updates on cases brought within the ambit of the
    • Exchanged views on existing channels of multilateral cooperation, and intend to continue exchanges regarding this
  2. Network Both sides acknowledged the network protection seminar held in August 2016 in China, and believe that enhancing network protection is beneficial to both sides. Both sides suggest holding regular network protection working-level meetings, either remotely or in-person, the next of which should be planned for 2017. Both sides seek to promote the protection of our respective networks through multiple methods. To that end, both sides:
    • Plan to enhance network hygiene by promoting the cleaning and patching of malware infections in our respective networks and promoting best network protection
    • Propose to engage in regular reciprocal sharing of malicious IP addresses, malware samples, analytic products, and other network protection information, and to develop standard operating procedures to guide network protection
    • Seek to assess the effectiveness of information shared and provide substantive feedback to each side regarding the utility of that
    • Plan to provide Principals with regular summaries of network protection
    • Intend to continue discussion on future cooperation concerning cybersecurity of critical infrastructure, and to provide timely assistance on cybersecurity incidents impacting critical
    • Intend to hold, as early as possible in 2017, a S.-China government and technology company roundtable to discuss cybersecurity issues of mutual concern.
  3. Misuse of Technology and Communications to Facilitate Violent Terrorist Activities. Both sides acknowledged the seminar on misuse of technology and communications to facilitate violent acts of terrorism held in November 2016 in China, and decided to continue cooperation on information sharing in countering the use of the Internet for terrorist and other criminal Both sides will consider holding a second seminar in 2017.
  4. Hotline Both sides welcomed the launch of the U.S.-China Cybercrime and Related Issues Hotline Mechanism, and decided to continue to use the hotline in accordance with the Work Plan. Both sides will conduct routine review of the use of the hotline.
  5. Dialogue Both sides recommend that the dialogue continue to be held each year, and that the fourth dialogue occur in 2017.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

ARROWHEADS WITH ARCUATE BLADES

On December 2, 2016, in the attached ITC notice, arcuate-arrowheads, Flying Arrow Archery, LLC filed a section 337 patent case against Alice, China; Dongguan hong Song hardware alma iao, China; Huntingsky, China; liu, China; Jianfeng Mao, China; In-Sail Sandum Precision Industry (China) Co., Ltd., China; Arthur Sifuentes, Spring, Texas; Taotao (IT60), China; Wanyuxue, China; Wei Ran, China; YanDong, China; and Zhou Yang, China.

LIQUID CRYSTAL eWRITERS AND COMPONENTS THEREOF

On December 8, 2016, in the attached ITC notice, liquid-crystal, Kent Displays, Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against Shenzhen Howshow Technology Co., Ltd., (d/b/a Shenzhen Howshare Technology co., Ltd., d/b/a Howshare), China; and Shenzhen SUNstone Technology Co., Ltd., (d/b/a iQbe, China).

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, international 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

Law Blog Development & Digital Marketing by Adrian Dayton & Company