US CHINA TRADE WAR–UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR, TPP IN LAME DUCK, SPOTTING POTENTIAL AD CASES, CUSTOMS, FALSE CLAIMS ACT, VITAMIN C ANTITRUST, IP AND 337

Lotus Garden Boat Buildings Yue Feng Pagoda Summer Palace BeijinTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR OCTOBER 7, 2016

INTERVIEW ON WHAT US COMPANIES CAN DO IN THE PRESENT TRADE CRISIS

Just did an interview on what US companies can do to cope with the current trade crisis.  Hope you will find it of interest.  http://www.turbineagency.com/industry-insights/2016/10/25/accelerateb2b-how-do-global-trade-deals-really-impact-us-businesses

Dear Friends,

This blog post contains several new article and articles that have been posted on the Harris Moure blog, www.chinalawblog.com from the HM Trade Practice Group, including Adams Lee, Emily Lawson and myself.  The new articles also reflect my discussions during my recent three-week trip to China meeting with various Chinese companies, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”), and Chinese trade lawyers.

The most important point is that the US China Trade War is expanding and has now become a universal trade war.  Although the US continues to bring numerous antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) cases against China, the Chinese government is now bringing and will bring numerous AD and CVD cases against the US.

In the recent Chinese antidumping case against Distiller Grains from the US, the Chinese government has levied a 33% rate against $1.6 billion in US exports to China.  There are rumors that the Chinese government may soon bring AD and CVD cases targeting $15 billion in US exports of soybeans to China.

Meanwhile numerous countries have adopted their own AD and CVD laws modeled on the US and EU and are bringing cases not only against China, but also against the US.

The only recent trade developments that would break the retaliation cycle are the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the TTIP deal with Europe and both trade agreements are in serious trouble.

In addition, set forth below are articles on how to spot an AD and CVD trade case coming and what do when your company is a target of a trade case, magnesium and steel cases, trade cases against Europe, and Trade Adjustment Assistance by David Holbert, who heads the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.  In addition, there are a number of articles on Customs law, False Claims Act, including an FCA case against Furniture and Customs enforcement action against Honey.  Finally, there is an article on recent Second Circuit Decision in the Vitamin C Antitrust Case and the antidumping back story, a Criminal Trade Secrets case, a new 337 case and the Section 337 article translated into Chinese.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE POLICY AND TPP

US CHINA ANTIDUMPING TRADE WAR IS NOW A UNIVERSAL ANTIDUMPING TRADE WAR

As Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton duel during the Presidential debate about who can be more protectionist, during my recent trip to China I learned that what was once a US China Trade War has now become a universal trade war.  Country after country have adopted the US and EC Antidumping law and are filing case after case against other countries and the US.

Thus countries, 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.

Although Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton and many US politicians want to adopt a mercantilist trade policy which favors pushing exports and protecting US industries from imports, the US politicians simply do not understand retaliation.  What the US can do to other countries, those countries can do back.  President Reagan understood the retaliation danger of protectionism and a mercantilist trade policy, but many present day US politicians do not.  So all of these countries are following the US lead and implementing a mercantilist trade policy.

Free trade agreements, such as the TPP and the TTIP, which would break this cycle are now all in deep trouble as each country wants to put its industries first and make their country and industries great again.  The rise in nationalism results in trade wars in which country after country will fire trade guns against each other.  As Jack Ma of Alibaba recently mentioned on CNN, real wars start when trade stops.  See http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/02/technology/jack-ma-alibaba-g20/

During my recent trip to China, in the attached notice, ddgs-list-of-dumping-margin-of-each-company_en ddgs-preliminary-finding-summary-translation_en, on September 23, 2016, the Chinese government announced a 33% preliminary antidumping duty targeting $1.6 billion in imports from the United States of DDGS, Distiller’s Dried Grains with or without Solubles, which is used as an ingredient for animal feed.

During this trip, officials at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) told me that more trade cases will be coming next year against the US.  In fact, there are rumors that the Chinese government will soon bring an AD and CVD case targeting $15 billion in US soybean exports to China.  This is the number one US export to China.  Now that China is bringing more trade cases against the US, these cases will hurt US companies and the jobs that go with them.

On the US side, the election of either Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton in November will mean more US trade cases next year against not only China, but many other countries as well.

On September 22, 2016, MOFCOM in China initiated an escape clause/safeguard action against Sugar from Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Australia, South Korea and Thailand alleging tariffs up to 155.90%.

On September 15, 2016, India brought its own antidumping case against Polybutadiene Rubber from South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Iran and Singapore.

Taiwan has brought a Steel antidumping case against China.

More and more cases will be filed in 2017 around the World and many will target the United States, China, and numerous other countries.  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.

TPP IN THE LAME DUCK KEEPS ON TICKING

As mentioned in my last blog post, I believe that if Hilary Clinton is elected, President Obama will push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) to come up for a vote during the Lame Duck Session.  Many Congressional leaders appeared to  oppose tbringing up TPP in the Lame Duck.  But with Hilary Clinton’s resurgence in the Polls after the first debate, there is more talk about the TPP coming up in the Lame Duck, the period after the Presidential election and before the end of the year, as President Obama pushes hard for passage of the legislation.

On September 16, 2016, Ohio Governor Republican John Kasich in an interview with CNN stated that he supports passage of the TPP and will support President Obama in this legislative push in the Lame Duck.  See http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/15/politics/john-kasich-trans-pacific-partnership/index.html

Governor Kasich made clear that he feels “it’s his “responsibility and duty as a leader” — no matter the political cost — to help President Barack Obama push the Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress.

Kasich stated that

“I have never been an ideological supporter of free trade. The ideologues used to come to me and be frustrated with me.  But when you look at these agreements in a real sense – and this one is much different than even NAFTA.”

Kasich added that when Russian and Chinese leaders oppose the TPP, that is one reason to vote for the TPP, “We have to do this.”

Kasich further stated,

“This is the first time the candidates in both major political parties say they are opposed to free trade. It’s astounding to me.  I welcome the fact that people will criticize me for putting my country ahead of my party.”

The interview came after Kasich met with President Obama in the Oval Office with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former George W. Bush administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and others for a meeting on the 12-nation Pacific Rim deal.

Kasich further stated:

“This is an opportunity for the Congress to carry out its responsibility. Frankly, if I have to come down here and spend some time lobbying my Republican colleagues, I’m more than glad to do that.

There’s definitely some people I can call and talk to.  This is a big deal. I mean, if we were to just walk away with this — with both candidates saying they don’t want this — we turn our backs on Asia.

He also played down the political potency of Trump’s anti-trade position in manufacturing-heavy Ohio, saying it’s not why Trump might win the state.

On September 26, 2016, Robert Samuelson, a well-known economist, published an article entitled “Will TPP Rise from the Dead”, stating:

With Obama’s term ending and his already-modest influence eroding by the day, TPP seems dead. But it may still be in intensive care.

In a speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee whose jurisdiction includes trade agreements, said that the TPP could still be ratified in the lame-duck session after the election and before a new Congress takes office.

Samuelson went on to state that Brady gave two major reasons to approve the TPP.

First, geopolitical:  The TPP would enhance US influence in the Pacific region and offset China’s growing economic and political power. TPP would give the United States a major role in regulating global commerce in the 21s century. The trade agreement codifies rules on “intellectual property” (patents, copyrights), data flows and state-owned firms

Ratification would be a strong signal to Asia that the United States intends to remain a Pacific power.

“The second reason is economic: Asia remains a fast-growing region. TPP would eliminate most tariffs among the 12 member countries, aiding American exporters in these markets. The advantage may be particularly important in services (tourism, consulting, finance and engineering), where U.S. firms are especially strong. In 2015, the United States had a $762 billion deficit in goods trade (machinery, steel, medical equipment) and a $262 billion surplus in services trade, leaving an overall deficit of $500 billion.  According to the Peterson Institute, the 12 countries in the TPP accounted for about 36% of the world economy and 24% of global trade in 2014.”

Samuelson goes on to quote Brady on why he does not dismiss TPP’s prospects as bleak, “People change once they get into office.”

Samuelson then states:

Translation: The campaign’s anti-trade and anti-globalization rhetoric might recede before the realities of governing. Although Brady didn’t say so, one implication is that a victorious Hillary Clinton might put up only token opposition to TPP, both because the case for approval is strong and because she might feel obligated to Obama for his political support.

But Brady went on to state that getting a deal would be difficult. With many Democrats adamantly opposed to TPP, President Obama would need to rely on Republicans to approve the agreement. But if President Obama cannot round up enough Democratic votes to ensure victory, Republicans will not go out on a political limb and bring the agreement up during the Lame Duck.

“We are running out of time,” Brady told the Peterson audience. As Samuelson stated, “The TPP may yet wind up in the political morgue.”

TRADE

CHINA IMPORTS: KNOW YOUR RISKS

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

Every year U.S. producers file 10-15 petitions asking the U.S. government to investigate whether certain products imported into the US are sold at unfair prices (antidumping or AD) or are unfairly subsidized (countervailing duty or CVD). Many of the AD/CVD cases target products imported from China. Odds are good that at least two new AD/CVD petitions will be filed by Halloween and as many as five by year end.

Our clients often ask our international trade lawyers how they can determine the likelihood of a AD/CVD petition that could adversely affect their ability to compete in the US market. Each AD/CVD petition is unique to the product and industry it covers, but most AD/CVD investigations fall within a handful of categories. Understanding what has led to the filing of previous AD/CVD petitions can help you as a producer, exporter, or importer, recognize if and when to expect a new AD/CVD petition that could directly affect you. The following are some of the indicators you should be checking to determine whether your imported into the USA product will be next.

The Regulars. Certain domestic industries have been frequent filers of AD/CVD actions. Companies in these industries are veterans of AD/CVD actions; they don’t ask if a new petition will be filed, only when it will be filed.

  • Steel of all types (carbon steel, stainless steel, flat products, pipe, rebar, wire rod, wire, etc.) from all over the world. The latest wave of steel AD/CVD investigations are being completed with high AD/CVD margins in most cases.
  • Softwood Lumber from Canada. The latest round of the US-Canada Lumber wars is set to begin as new AD/CVD petitions are likely to be filed in October 2016. Filing a new AD/CVD petition may be necessary to push US-Canada negotiations to a meaningful level.

The Big Box Effect. When Walmart, Lowes, or Target switch their sourcing of a product from a domestic manufacturer to a foreign (read Chinese) one, it is quite common for the jilted domestic supplier to file an AD/CVD petition in an effort to save their business. Boltless steel shelving units, wood flooring, ironing tables, and candles are all examples of this, and all involving products from China.

US Products Squeezed by Imports. It is not uncommon for an AD/CVD petition to be filed by a US producer that makes a higher quality product but is starting to lose out to foreign producers with lower quality but cheaper products. Frozen shrimp from multiple countries, garlic from China, and wooden bedroom furniture from China are some examples of this.

Pressure from Downstream Customers. Many AD/CVD petitions involve products that are material inputs used to make a downstream finished product. Petitions can be triggered by larger downstream producers switching to, or just threatening to switch to imports to pressure smaller upstream suppliers to lower prices.  Many chemical products from China, tire products from China and other countries, kitchen racks from China are examples of this.

AD/CVD Actions on Upstream ProductsSometimes AD/CVD actions filed by other domestic industries trickle down and harm downstream domestic industries. For example, US wire rod producers filed AD/CVD petitions that resulted in AD/CVD duties against imported wire rod. But these wire rod duties ended up hurting US wire producers, who in turn filed their own AD/CVD duties against imported wire.

Dying Dinosaurs/Last Survivors. Some AD/CVD petitions are filed by the remaining members of a nearly extinct domestic industry dealing with decreasing demand and increased import pressure. Sometimes the AD/CVD actions allow the surviving US producers to stay in the US market protected from import competition.  Examples of this are wooden bedroom furniture, magnesium and innersprings from China.

Other Countries’ AD/CVD actions. The US is not the only country that acts to protect its domestic industries from unfair foreign trade. AD/CVD actions filed in Canada, India, the EU, Brazil, and even China are warning signs of industries facing tight competitive pressure. Imports blocked from one market are often diverted to other available markets. A prime example of this are products from China which first had AD/CVD filed in the EU before the US took action.

All of the above scenarios are good indicators of an imminent filing of a new United States’ AD/CVD petition, so if you are seeing these market conditions in your industry, an AD/CVD petition is probably in your near future.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN THE CUSTOMS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY BOGEYMAN IS COMING AFTER YOUR IMPORTED CHINA PRODUCTS

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

In China Imports Know Your Risks (above), I wrote about how companies can recognize impending antidumping (AD) or countervailing duty (CVD) petitions. In this post I address what you as an importer, exporter or foreign producer should do if you see an AD/CVD storm looming.

The first thing you should do is determine whether the AD/CVD petition will directly hit your primary operations. The second thing you should do is figure out how best to defend yourself interests if the AD/CVD petition is headed directly your way. The third thing you should do if you do get hit by AD/CVD duties is to figure out damage control going forward.

  1. New AD/CVD Petition – Are my products affected? AD/CVD petitions include a proposed scope definition that identifies the products covered. AD/CVD scope definitions can be complicated and unclear. They may be broader or narrower than the Customs tariff classifications normally used to identify such imports. Even if you think your products are outside the scope of the petition, U.S. Customs may disagree. U.S. Customs commonly demands that you first pay an AD/CVD deposit, assuming that your products are within the scope of the AD/CVD petition, and then Customs will return your deposit only if you get a Department of Commerce (DOC) ruling that your products are actually outside the scope. For example, with aluminum extrusions from China, the DOC has received around a hundred scope ruling requests to clarify whether certain products are included or excluded from the scope of that order.

Once you know the scope definition, you can evaluate the degree to which the AD/CVD action could impact your business.  Sometimes you and your customer can find alternatives to replace the subject AD/CVD products with either non-subject products or by your sourcing from non-subject countries. If you have options to switch away from the products covered by the AD/CVD action, it may not be necessary to participate in the AD/CVD investigation.

  1. AD/CVD investigations – How to defend? If your product is squarely within the scope of the AD/CVD petition and the U.S. market is worth fighting for, you should determine the best way to prepare for the AD/CVD investigation. If you have enough time before a petition is filed, you theoretically can try to adjust your sales to remedy whatever is causing the dumped or subsidized sales, most commonly by raising your prices for certain products or customers or by modifying your production operations by lowering or reallocating costs. Unfortunately, most companies are not proactive about planning to avoid AD/CVD actions and instead react only after a petition is filed. We find this especially true of our clients that import from China, as opposed to Europe.

Once an AD/CVD investigation is initiated, foreign producers and exporters and US importers should try to defend their interests before the two agencies responsible for making AD/CVD determinations: The International Trade Commission (ITC) determines whether a domestic industry is injured or threatened with injury by reason of the subject imports and the Department of Commerce (DOC) determines how much the subject imports are dumped or subsidized.

In ITC investigations, the best defenses are presented when the foreign producers, US importers, and US purchasers can organize and explain why the subject imports should not be blamed for any decline in the domestic industry’s performance. Because the ITC examines a broad range of data regarding the US market for the subject product, a comprehensive explanation of relevant market conditions is necessary to a winning argument.

In DOC investigations, the foreign producer and exporters are the primary respondents to the DOC’s questionnaires. These companies must provide extensive corporate structure, sales and cost data, often through multiple rounds of questionnaires. The DOC uses the submitted data to calculate AD/CVD margins.  Unaffiliated US importers usually do not need to submit data in DOC investigations and reviews, but they often will closely monitor the DOC’s proceedings because they will ultimately be responsible for paying the AD/CVD duties. See Sourcing Product From China: You Should Know About Importer of Record Liability.

The key to any AD/CVD defense is participating fully in both the DOC’s and the ITC’s investigations. If you don’t participate, you have no chance of winning. If a party does not respond on time or with complete responses, the DOC and the ITC can apply the adverse facts available that inevitably lead to higher AD/CVD margins. US importers should at least actively monitor DOC’s proceedings because their final AD/CVD liability often depends on how well the Chinese producers and exporters are able to respond to DOC’s questionnaires. It is not uncommon for the Chinese producer or exporter to mount a weak or no defense, leaving the U.S. importer essentially “holding the bag.” There are many things you can and should do to try to prevent this from happening to you.

  1. How to Plan for Life with AD/CVD. The overwhelming majority of AD/CVD petitions lead to orders for imposing AD/CVD duties.  But depending on the scope definition of the AD/CVD order, it may be possible for you to maintain your business operations by identifying alternative out-of-scope products or by switching your product sourcing to a non-subject country. But in switching sourcing, US importers should be careful to avoid actions that could be considered schemes designed primarily to evade AD/CVD duties, as the DOC can extend orders through circumvention investigations. Customs too can conduct its own investigation of duty evasion allegations.

Also, because the United States uses a retrospective AD/CVD system, foreign suppliers and US importers have the opportunity each year to try to lower their dumping margin. Since AD/CVD duties are “remedial”, foreign producers and U.S. importers have ample opportunity to adjust their production and sales operations so that they can sell “fairly” to the U.S. market, as defined by the U.S. trade laws and with proper planning and disciplined execution, companies can sometimes make even minor adjustments to reduce or eliminate their AD/CVD duty liability.

Bottom Line: You are not without defenses when the AD/CVD bogeyman appears to be heading for you. There are things you can do both to stop it from attacking your business and things you can do to restore your business once attacked.

Editor’s Note: This post focuses on products exported from China to the United States, but its advice applies with equal force to products exported from any other country to the United States and with nearly equal force to products exported from any other country to any other country that also has AD/CVD sanctions.

CAFC MAGNESIUM METAL DECISION

On October 6, 2016, in the attached decision, cafc-magnesium, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Commerce Department’s decision that replacement of stainless steel retorts used to produce magnesium metal was an overhead expense and not a direct cost in the Magnesium Metal from China antidumping case.

STEEL TRADE CASES

CARBON AND ALLOY STEEL CUT-TO-LENGTH PLATE FROM CHINA AND KOREA

On September 7, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, clt-plate-cvd-prelim-fs-090716, Commerce issued an affirmative preliminary CVD determination in the initial investigation of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from China and a negative preliminary determination in the CVD investigation of imports from Korea.

China CVD rate best on all facts available is 210.50% and Korea’s CVD rate is 0.

CARBON AND ALLOY STEEL CUT-TO-LENGTH PLATE FROM BRAZIL, SOUTH AFRICA AND TURKEY

On September 16, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-multiple-ctl-plate-ad-prelim-091616, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the AD investigations of imports of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey.

Brazil’s antidumping rate is 74.52%.  South Africa’s antidumping rates range from 87.72% to 94.14%.  Turkey’s antidumping rates range from 42.02% to 50%.

STAINLESS STEEL SHEET AND STRIP FROM CHINA

On September 12, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-prc-stainless-steel-sheet-strip-ad-prelim-091216, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the AD investigation of imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China.  The antidumping rates range from 63.86% to 76.64%.

TRADE CASES AGAINST EUROPE

EUROPEAN TARGETS IN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO GET BACK IN THE US MARKET AGAIN

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

China is not the only target.  AD cases have been recently filed against a number of European countries, including Carbon and Alloy Steel Plate from Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Italy; Steel Flanges from Italy and Spain; and Rubber from Poland.

In addition, there are outstanding AD and CVD orders against Germany on brass sheet and strip, seamless pipe, sodium nitrite and non-oriented electrical steel.  In addition to Germany, other EU Countries have been hit on various steel products, including a number of stainless steel products, from Spain, Belgium and Italy; brass sheet and strip from France and Italy, isocyanurates from Spain, pasta from Italy, paper from Portugal and Uranium from France. The oldest US AD order in place today is pressure sensitive plastic tape from Italy, which was issued in 1977.

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

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

AD and CVD duties can only be imposed if there is injury to the US industry, which is determined by the ITC.  But in determining injury, the law directs the ITC to cumulate, that is add together all the imports of the same product from the various foreign countries.

The real question many companies may have is how can AD and CVD rates be reduced so that the European company can start exporting to the US again.  US AD and CVD laws are considered remedial, not punitive statutes.  Thus, every year in the month in which the AD or CVD order was issued, Commerce gives the parties, including the domestic producers, foreign producers and US importers, the right to request a review investigation based on sales of imports that entered the US in the preceding year.

Thus, the AD order on electrical steel from Germany was issued in December 2014.   In December 2016, the German producer can request a review investigation of the electrical steel that entered, was actually imported into, the US during the period December 1, 2015 to November 31, 2016.

EU companies may ask that it is too difficult to export a 17 metric ton container of covered product to the US, requesting a nonaffiliated importer to put up an AD of 50 to over 100%, which can require a payment of $1 million USD or more.  In contrast to European law, however, the US AD and CVD law is retrospective.  Thus the importer posts a cash deposit when it imports products under an AD or CVD order, and the importer will get back the difference plus interest at the end of the review investigation.

More importantly, through a series of cases, Commerce has let foreign producers export smaller quantities of the product to use as a test sale in a review investigation if all other aspects of the sale are normal.  Thus in a chemical case, we had the exporter put a metric ton of the chemical in question in a container with other products and that metric ton served as the test sale to establish the new AD rate.

EU Companies may also ask how we can make sure that we are not dumping.  The answer is dump proofing and computer programs.  In contrast to China, EU companies are considered market economy companies and, therefore, Commerce must use actual prices and costs in the European country to determine whether it is dumping or not.  Computer programs can be used to reduce the dumping margin significantly by modeling US prices and EU home market prices to eliminate or significantly reduce antidumping rates.

How successful can companies be in reviews?  In one EU Steel case, we dropped the dumping rate from over 17% in the initial investigation to 0% in the review investigation.  In a chemical from China case, we dropped a dumping rate of over 200% to 0%, allowing the Chinese company to become the exclusive exporter of the product for decades per order of the US government.

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

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES

David Holbert, who heads the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”), is writing a series of posts on the NWTAAC website on how Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies helps injured companies injured by imports.  This is the first post.

Imports are Like a Thousand Flash Floods Injuring US Companies That Are Not Competitive

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 trade 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.

For large companies or from a macro-economic perspective, import competition may seem like a rising tide – one that can be anticipated, prepared for or proactively mitigated. For small and medium-sized businesses, not equipped with diverse product lines, resources or change acumen, import competition feels more like a flash flood.

What is it like for those companies?  When trade impact hits, sales drop off, often suddenly.

  • Contract manufacturers build to specification for customers, often larger companies. For this group, trade impact could mean the loss of a major customer moving operations to a foreign country (and finding parts suppliers there), or simply an importer arriving on the scene with lower cost products.
  • For a consumer products company, trade impact will probably first arrive with falling sales to the big retail chains since they are the most sensitive to supplier prices.
  • For a commodity producer things are a little more predictable. There may be a change in currency valuation or the rise of a new industry in a foreign country. Regardless, these highly price sensitive markets will suddenly have a lower price option.
  • Commercial products producers will usually have more time. When imports arrive they will sell to generally more informed customers who usually value factors other than price. But the fall will come, just more slowly.

Sales could fall off for many reasons. How do you know its trade related? You ask or you ask around. It shouldn’t take long to find out.

Imports arrive product by product. Companies move offshore factory by factory.  A domestic company makes that product, is part of the supply chain needed to make the product or is part of that commodity industry. When the imports arrive (or the factory moves), that one company or set of suppliers or community of producers is directly in the way. All of this happens in what can seem to be a relatively normal looking manufacturing neighborhood. Across the street there might be a company making another product that is experiencing no trade competition. Next door a third company might have gone through trade impact years ago and has adjusted. For small and medium sized companies, trade impact can be surprisingly direct and specific.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.

  • A commercial products company makes a specialized tool. A couple of other U.S. and European companies make similar products with some parity between price and features. One year they are at the big industry trade show and see a product, similar to theirs (and the others), but priced about 40% lower. Three months later sales started slipping.
  • A contract manufacturer that machines metal parts had gravitated away from stainless steel to titanium and built for several competitors in the same industry. Foreign producers had mastered stainless steel over the last decade. But as of a recent year, those producers finally mastered titanium as well. One by one, the manufacturer’s customers started buying imports. Once one did, it had a cost advantage, so the others had to go along also.
  • A nut grower was maintaining a slim profit. Then, a certain country decided to incentivize its nut growers to achieve more efficiency and export capability. It took a while, but when the imported nuts started arriving, they were at a price point below break-even for the domestic producer.
  • A safety products producer sold through a variety of retailers. One year, seemingly out of the blue, the big box stores stopped ordering. It didn’t take long to figure out why. A similar imported product was on the shelves at about half the price.

In future posts I’ll cover the steps to recovery. They are many effective tools in the economic recovery toolbox.  In many cases, companies that employed these resources are now unrecognizable through increased scale and product changes. Interestingly, a surprising number become significant exporters.

My role at the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center is to help small and medium-sized companies that are negatively impacted by trade competition through grants of up to $75,000.  Our non-profit organization administers a federal program serving companies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. You can learn more about us at NWTAAC.org.

CUSTOMS LAW

IMPORTING GOODS FROM CHINA: THE RISKS ARE RISING

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

Last month I wrote about how importers from China need to be on their guard since U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented new regulations to investigate allegations of antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) evasion. See Importing From China: One More (New) Thing You Need To Know.

It didn’t take long, as U.S. Customs has already begun its first wave of investigations: Wheatland Tube, a US steel pipe producer, on September 14, 2016 announced it had filed with CBP an allegation of duty evasion on imports of Chinese circular welded steel pipe.

CBP has published a timeline for conducting its investigations and a process diagram (EAPA Investigation Timeline) and this newly filed allegation will be a test case to see how CBP will conduct its new duty evasion investigations. Hopefully, CBP will soon address many of the questions raised by the new regulations. How will parties be allowed to participate? What information from the investigation will be made public? How will CBP define “reasonable suspicion” of duty evasion?

This steel pipe investigation is likely to be the first of many CBP duty evasion investigations that are to come, many (probably most) of which will target Chinese products subject to AD/CVD duties. For how to figure out the risk quotient for the products you import from China, check out China Imports: Know Your Risks.

The new antidumping and countervailing duty regulations will unquestionably require an increased number of importers and foreign manufacturers to formally respond to CBP’s questions in response to allegations. Given the strong political pressure by domestic U.S. industries calling for tougher enforcement of US trade laws (not to mention the rising opposition to free trade among the American populace), Chinese producers and exporters and US importers should be prepared for increased CBP activity. CBP is likely looking to punish someone hard to set an example of their improved enforcement.

Getting Your China Products Through U.S. Customs: The 101

By Emily Lawson, Harris Moure International Trade Group

If you are importing products from China you need to do your homework to make sure your incoming shipments into the United States comply with U.S. Customs laws and regulations. Compliance with U.S. Customs laws and regulations is critical in avoiding your shipments being detained or seized, and/or penalties assessed. Common issues importers of products from China typically face include the following:  

  Not determining proper classification and duty rate for products. If you plan to import and sell on a Delivered Duty Paid basis, you should consider customs duties in your costs and that means you should know all of your applicable duty rates before you import. Also certain products are subject to high antidumping or countervailing duties in addition to regular customs duties, which may be as high as 300%.

   Failing to mark the product with the country of origin of manufacture.  Generally goods of foreign origin for import into the U.S. or immediate containers of the goods must be marked legibly and in a conspicuous location with the country of origin in English. Failure to do so accurately  can result in civil and even possibly criminal penalties.

  Not properly marking wood packing material. All wood packing material for products imported into the U.S. must be properly  treated and marked prior to shipping. Failure to meet the treatment and marking requirements may cause shipments to be delayed and penalties issued. 

  Failing to provide complete commercial invoices. Customs regulations provide that specific data must be included on the commercial invoice for U.S. Customs purposes, including a detailed description of the merchandise, and correct value information. Omission of this information may result in improper declaration to U.S. Customs at the time of import and expose you to penalties.

  Failing to meet other U.S. Government agency requirements.  Goods imported for sale in the U.S. must satisfy the same legal requirements as those goods manufactured in the United States. U.S. Customs enforces the laws of other agencies in the U.S., including, the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety  Commission (CPSC), and the Environmental Protection Agency, in addition to others. Therefore, if toys, for example, are exported to the U.S., detailed CPSC requirements, including for testing, must be met prior to export.

   Distribution of many trademarked and copyrighted items. Items which are trademarked and copyrighted are restricted by contractual agreements that give exclusive rights to specific companies to distribute the product in the U.S. Imports of improperly  trademarked or copyrighted items can be seized at the U.S. border and can subject you as the importer to penalties.

 Taking the time to identify  the required U.S. Customs laws and regulations for the products to be shipped to the U.S. from China will help you maintain seamless delivery  of your merchandise to U.S. customers and avoid civil and criminal penalty  exposure.

FALSE CLAIMS HAMMER GETS BIGGER — THIRD CIRCUIT HOLDS FCA’S APPLICATION TO FALSE STATEMENTS MADE TO US CUSTOMS

On October 5, 2916, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals  in the attached decision in United States ex rel Customs Fraud Investigations, LLC. v. Vitaulic Company, us-vs-vitaulic, reversed the Federal District Court and held that a failure to label imported goods with the proper country of origin is actionable under the False Claim Act (“FCA”).  Vitaulic had imported millions of pounds of steel pipe with the wrong country of origin.

In holding that this is an actionable claim under the FCA, the Court stated:

These actions, according to CFI, give rise to the present qui tam action under the so-called “reverse false claims” provision in the False Claims Act (FCA).  Typically, a claim under the FCA alleges that a person or company submitted a bill to the government for work that was not performed or was performed improperly, resulting in an undeserved payment flowing to that person or company. The FCA was enacted as a reaction to rampant fraud and price gouging by merchants supplying the Union army during the Civil War. In this case, by contrast, the allegation is not that Victaulic is obtaining monies from the government to which it is not entitled, but rather that it is retaining money it should have paid the government in the form of marking duties. Wrongful retention cases such as these are known as “reverse false claims” actions.

The Court went on to state:

Of particular importance here, the Senate Report discussed “customs duties for mismarking country of origin,” and how such duties would be covered by the amended reverse false claims Provision. . . .

The plain text of the FCA’s reverse claims provision is clear: any individual who “knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government” may be subject to liability. As alleged by CFI in the amended complaint, Victaulic declined to notify the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection of its pipe fittings’ non-conforming status. This failure to notify resulted in the pipe fittings being released into the stream of commerce in the United States and, consequently, marking duties being owed and not paid.

From a policy perspective, the possibility of reverse false claims liability in such circumstances makes sense in the context of the larger import/export regulatory scheme created by Congress. Because of the government’s inability to inspect every shipment entering the United States, an importer may have an incentive to decline to mention that its goods are mismarked on the assumption that the mismarking will not be discovered. In doing so, an importer avoids its obligation under 19 U.S.C. § 1484 to provide the government with such information as is necessary to enable the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to determine whether the merchandise may be released from government custody or whether it must be properly marked, re-exported or destroyed.

HONEY AND FURNITURE

FURNITURE

On September 30, 2016, Ecologic Industries LLC and OMNI SCM LLC controlled by a Daniel Scott Goldman agreed to pay $1.525 million to settle a civil False Claims Act suit alleging it conspired to make false statements to avoid paying duties on wooden furniture imported from China to avoid the antidumping duties on Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China.  The companies sell furniture for student housing.

The case was filed by a whistleblower Matthew Bissanti, who is the former president and director of OMNI.  The Justice Department reported that Bissanti will receive $228,750 as his share of the settlement.

HONEY

On Aug 12, 2016, in the attached notice, to-bee-or-not-to-bee_-cbp-and-partners-seized-132-drums-of-hone, Customs and Border Protection announced seizure of 42 tons of illegally imported Chinese honey.  The honey was contained in 132 fifty-five gallon drums that were falsely declared as originating from Taiwan to evade antidumping duties applicable to Chinese honey. The evaded antidumping duties on this shipment of Chinese honey would be nearly $180,299.

ANTITRUST LAW

VITAMIN C ANTITRUST CASE—THE REAL ANTIDUMPING BACK STORY

On September 20, 2016, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its attached decision in the Vitamin C Antitrust case against the Chinese companies, In Re: Vitamin C Antitrust Litigation, vitamin-c-13-4791_opn-2d-cir-sept-20-2016.  In its decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the Federal District Court’s decision that the Chinese Vitamin C companies had fixed prices in violation of the US antitrust because Chinese government action, in effect, insulated the Chinese companies from US antitrust liability.

The Court of Appeals made the correct decision because as indicated below, I have personal knowledge as to the reason the Chinese government set the Vitamin C export price scheme in place to raise Chinese export prices—to deter US and other Antidumping cases.

As the Court of Appeals stated in its opinion:

the Chinese Government filed a formal statement in the district court asserting that Chinese law required Defendants to set prices and reduce quantities of vitamin C sold abroad, and because Defendants could not simultaneously comply with Chinese law and U.S. antitrust law . . .

The Court of Appeals then reversed the District Court “on international comity grounds” and ordered the District Court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice.

In effect, the Second Circuit held that based on comity grounds, that is, respect for Chinese law as evidenced by a formal statement and submission of the Chinese government that the Chinese government lawfully set up a scheme to raise Vitamin C prices, the Federal District Court should have dismissed the case.  The Court of Appeals held that the District Court should have deferred to the Chinese government and exempted the Chinese companies from the application of the US antitrust law based on the state action defense.  It should be noted that the Federal Government and State Governments through state action can insulate US domestic companies from the application of the US antitrust law.

The Court of Appeals specifically determined in the decision that:

The official statements of the Ministry should be credited and accorded deference. . . .The  2002  Notice,  inter  alia,  demonstrates  that  from  2002  to  2005,  the relevant time period alleged in the complaint, Chinese law required Defendants to participate in the PVC regime in order to export vitamin C. This regulatory regime allowed vitamin C manufacturers the export only vitamin C subject to contracts that complied with the “industry‐wide negotiated” price.

Although the 2002 Notice does not specify how the “industry‐wide negotiated” price was set, we defer to the Ministry’s reasonable interpretation that the term means what it suggests—that members of the regulated industry were required to negotiate and agree upon a price.  . . ..

In this context, we find it reasonable to view the entire PVC regime as a decentralized means by which the Ministry, through the Chamber, regulated the export of vitamin C by deferring to the manufacturers and adopting their agreed upon price as the minimum export price. In short, by directing vitamin C manufacturers to coordinate export prices and quantities and adopting those standards into the regulatory regime, the Chinese Government required Defendants to violate the Sherman Act. . . .

Because we hold that Defendants could not comply with both U.S. antitrust laws and Chinese law regulating the foreign export of vitamin C, a true conflict exists between the applicable laws of China and those of the United States.

The Court of Appeals went on to state:

Moreover, there is no evidence that Defendants acted with the express purpose or intent to affect U.S. commerce or harm U.S. businesses in particular. Rather, according to the Ministry, the regulations at issue governing Defendants’ conduct were intended to assist China in its transition from a state‐run command economy to a market‐driven economy, and the resulting price‐fixing was intended to ensure China remained a competitive participant in the global vitamin C market and to prevent harm to China’s trade relations. While it was reasonably foreseeable that China’s vitamin C policies would generally have a negative effect on Plaintiffs as participants in the international market for vitamin C, as noted above, there is no evidence that Defendants’ antitrust activities were specifically directed at Plaintiffs or other U.S. companies.

The purpose of the Chinese export scheme was not to damage US customers or businesses.  In fact, just the opposite was true.  The Chinese government wanted to keep exports flowing.

What was the concern of the Chinese government?  US and other antidumping cases, which could wipe Chinese exports out of the US market for decades.  This was the true number one anticompetitive threat that the Chinese government and companies were facing.  Was this a realistic threat?  Sure was.

The period that the export price scheme was set in place was 2002-2005.  On July 11, 2002, after losing an antidumping case in the mid-90s against Saccharin from China despite very high antidumping rates because of a no injury determination by the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), PMC, the sole US producer of saccharin, filed a second antidumping case against saccharin from China.  The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in charge of the Saccharin case was the Chamber of Commerce for Medicines, the same Chamber in charge of the Vitamin C case.

On July 2, 2003, the Commerce Department issued an antidumping order against all imports of saccharin from China with rates ranging from an individual dumping rate of 249.39% to 329.29% for all other Chinese companies, effectively blocking all Chinese saccharin from China.  The Antidumping Order was in effect for 10 years.

Although one company that I represented was after three and a half years able to reduce its dumping rate down to 0%, all other Chinese saccharin was blocked out of the US market for 10 years.  Market prices for saccharin in the US soared from a low $1.50 per pound in the investigative period to a price well over $10 a pound.

And US plaintiff companies in the Vitamin C case were complaining about the price rise in Vitamin C exports to the US??!!  I am sure the increase was not 10 times.

Since I represented the Chinese saccharin industry in the Saccharin antidumping case, the Chamber of Commerce for Medicine and I were very aware of the devastating effect a US or other antidumping case could have on Chinese companies and exports.  After the antidumping order was issued, in the Summer of 2003 the Chamber called me to a meeting with the Chinese Vitamin C producers and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”} to discuss how to deter US and other antidumping cases.  The Chamber and MOFCOM were very worried that intense Chinese price competition would lead to a wave of antidumping cases against the Vitamin C companies.

The Vitamin C companies, the Chamber and MOFCOM asked what can we do if there is a threat of an antidumping case.  Since Commerce and all other countries treat China as a nonmarket economy country and refuse to use actual prices and costs in China to determine antidumping cases, the general practice of dump proofing where antidumping consultants use computer programs to eliminate the unfair act, dumping, is not an option for Chinese companies.

The only remedy I could think of was that the Chinese government impose an export price floor.  That approach worked in the 90s with another Chamber of Commerce when there was a threat of a US antidumping case against Silicon Carbide from China.  The US Silicon Carbide producer in the one company US industry never filed their threatened antidumping case against China because of the export price floor the Chamber with MOFCOM’s consent put in place.

After suggesting that the Chamber set up an export price floor with MOFCOM’s involvement, I went on to state that MOFCOM would have to issue a law, regulation or action to show that the Government mandated the establishment of the system to insulate the Chinese companies from attack under the US antitrust laws.

The Chamber did set up the export price system for Vitamin C exports to stop US and other antidumping cases from being filed against the Chinese companies.  No Vitamin C antidumping cases were filed because the export price system was put in place.

As indicated by the Second Circuit, MOFOM did take government action to set up the export price scheme, which, in turn, insulated the Chinese companies from US antitrust liability.

The lesson of the story is that although the purpose of US antitrust law is to protect consumers and competition in the US market, the real threat to US consumers and market competition is the US antidumping law.

CRIMINAL IP/TRADE SECRET CASE

On October 5, 2016, the Justice Department in the attached notice, chinese-national-sentenced-to-prison-for-conspiracy-to-steal-tr, announced the sentencing of Mo Hailong, a/k/a Robert Mo, a Chinese national to three years in Federal prison for a conspiracy to steal trade secrets.  Mr. Mo Hailong was the Director of International Business of the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Company, commonly referred to as DBN. DBN is a Chinese conglomerate with a corn seed subsidiary company, Kings Nower Seed.

According to the plea agreement, Mo Hailong admitted to participating in a long-term conspiracy to steal trade secrets from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto. Mo Hailong participated in the theft of inbred corn seeds from fields in Iowa and elsewhere for the purpose of transporting the seeds to DBN in China. The stolen inbred, or parent, seeds were the valuable trade secrets of DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.

U.S. Attorney Kevin E. VanderSchel stated:

“Mo Hailong stole valuable proprietary information in the form of seed corn from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto in an effort to transport such trade secrets to China. Theft of trade secrets is a serious federal crime, as it harms victim companies that have invested millions of dollars and years of work toward the development of propriety technology. The theft of agricultural trade secrets, and other intellectual property, poses a grave threat to our national economic security. The Justice Department and federal law enforcement partners are committed to prosecuting those who in engage in conduct such as Mo Hailong.”

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES

On October 6, 2016, Nite Ize, Inc. filed a major 337 case against Device Holders, many of which come from China.  The relevant parts of the ITC notice along with the names of the Chinese respondent companies are below.

Commodity:

Device Holders

Filed by:

James B. Altman

Firm/Organization:

Foster, Murphy, Altman & Nickel, PC

Behalf of:

Nite Ize, Inc.

Description:

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Device Holders, and Components Thereof. The proposed respondents are Shenzhen Youtai Trade Company Limited, d/b/a NoChoice, China; REXS LLC, Lewes, DE; Spinido, Inc., Brighton, CO; Luo, Qiden, d/b/a Lita International Shop, China; Guangzhou Kuaguoyi E-commerece co., ltd., d/b/a Kagu Culture, China; Shenzhen New Dream Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a Newdreams, China; Shenzhen Gold South technology Co., Ltd. d/b/a Baidatong, China; Zhao Chunhui d/b/a Skyocean, China; Sunpauto Co., ltd., HK; Wang Zhi Gang d/b/a China; Dang Yuya d/b/a Sminiker, China; Shenzhen Topworld Technology Co.,    d/b/a IdeaPro, Hong Kong; Lin Zhen Mei d/b/a Anson, China; Wu Xuying d/b/a Novoland, China; Shenzhen New Dream Sailing Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a MegaDream, China; Zhongshan Feiyu Hardware technology Co., Ltd d/b/a YouFo, China; Ninghuazian Wangfulong Chaojishichang Youxian Gongsi, Ltd., d/b/a EasybuyUS, China; Chang Lee d/b/a Frentaly, Duluth, GA; Trendbox USA LLC d/b/a Trendbox, Scottsdale, AZ; Timespa d/b/a Jia Bai Nian (Shenzhen) Electronic Commerce Trade CO., LTD., China; Tontex d/b/a Shenzhen Hetongtai Electronics Co., Ltd., China; Scotabc d/b/a ShenChuang Opto-electronics Technology Co., Ltd., China; Tenswall d/b/a Shenzhen Tenswall International Trading Co., Ltd., La Puente, CA; Luo Jieqiong d/b/a Wekin, China; Pecham d/b/a Baichen Technology Ltd., Hong Kong; Cyrift d/b/a Guangzhou Sunway E-Commerce LLC., China; Rymemo d/b/a Global Box, LLC., Dunbar, PA; Wang Guoxiang d/b/a Minse, China; Yuan I d/b/a Bestrix, China; Zhiping Zhou d/b/a Runshion, China; Funlavie, Riverside, CA; Huijukon d/b/a Shenzhen Hui Ju Kang technology Co., Ltd., China; Zhang Haujun d/b/a CeeOne, China; Easy Acc d/b/a Searay LLC., Newark, DE; Barsone d/b/a Shenzhen Senweite Electronic Commerce Ltd., China; Oumeiou d/b/a Shenzhen Oumeiou Technology Co., Ltd., China; Grando d/b/a Shenzhen Dashentai Network Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Yingxue Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Longwang Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a LWANG, China; Hu Peng d/b/a AtomBud, China

CHINESE VERSION OF 337 ARTICLE

Set forth below is a Chinese version of the 337 English article published last month followed by the original English version.

阻止来自中国的侵权产品:337条款调查案

随着亚马逊和eBay加大力度引入中国卖家,以及越来越多的中国制造商另辟蹊径生产本身的产品,向我们在中国的律师咨询有关盗版产品和仿冒问题的公司数目也随之猛增。若该问题涉及到把侵权产品进口到美国,拥有美国知识产权的公司可以采取强大的补救措施进行反击。其中一个最强有力的补救措施就是337条款调查案,它可以用来阻止侵权产品进入美国,无论该产品生产自何处。

337条款调查案(该名称源自于19 U.S.C. 1337法令)可用来打击侵犯版权、商标、专利或商业秘密的进口品。但是由于注册商标和版权拥有人一般上可以采取其它的法律行动,337条款调查案对专利、未注册商标和商业秘密的拥有人尤其有效。虽然该调查案通常局限于知识产权,正在对钢铁产品进行的337调查案中,美国钢铁业试图将不公平行为的定义扩大以便将入侵计算机系统和违反反垄断行为包含在内。

首先,美国国际贸易委员会(“ITC”)会发起337条款的调查。如果ITC发现某进口货侵犯了特定的知识产权,可以发出排除令(exclusion order),美国海关就会扣留所有侵权的进口货。

大量种类各异的产品已经因337条款调查案而被禁止入口:从玩具(魔方拼图、椰菜娃娃)、鞋类(匡威运动鞋)、大型机器(造纸机)、消费类产品(首饰盒、汽车配件、电子香烟和烫发器)到高科技产品(电脑、手机和半导体芯片)等等。

337条款是知识产权和贸易的混合型法令,某个美国产业必须证明受到了伤害。伤害证明的要求很低,几乎所有的案例都符合此要求——只许一些销售损失就能证明伤害。对符合美国产业的要求可说是关键所在。美国产业通常是一家持有相关知识产权的公司。如果该知识产权是一项注册商标、版权或专利,美国产业的要求范围已扩大至凡在美国进行的工厂和设备、劳动力或资本的重大投资,以及专利权开发的实质性投资,包括工程、研发或授权许可,均可视为国内产业。然而,ITC最近提高了美国产业的要求,让专利“流氓”或非执业实体更难提出337调查案诉求。

337条款调查案由行政法官(ALJ)负责审理,诉讼过程迅速且激烈,一般上只需12至15个月来完成。ITC收到一份337调查的申请后,有30天的时间来决定是否立案。一旦确定立案,ITC会将诉状和调查通知答辩方。外国被诉方有30天的时间应诉,美国国内的被诉方则只有20天的时间应诉。如果进口商或外国被诉方没有做出回应,ITC会可认定公司放弃抗辩而发出排除令。

ITC在337调查案中所采取的是“对物”管辖权,也就是针对进口到美国的产品进行管辖。这很合理:ITC无权管制外国公司,但有权管制其进口产品。一般而言,337条款调查案和大多数的普通诉讼案不同,申诉方可以打赢一家1)不可能送达诉状、2)未能出庭聆讯,以及3)不可能被追讨款项的中国公司。

337条款调查案所采取的补救措施是颁布排除令,阻止答辩方的侵权产品进入美国。但是在某些特殊情况下,如果某个产品非常容易制造,ITC可以发布普遍排除令,不分来源地禁止所有同类侵权产品进入美国。以我处理过的魔方拼图案件为例,Ideal公司(申请人)把超过400家台湾公司列为侵犯其普通法商标的答辩人。ITC在1983年发布了普遍排除令(General Exclusion Order),阻止非Ideal公司制造的魔方产品进入美国市场,这一禁令沿用至今。除了排除令,ITC也可以发布制止令(cease and desist orders),禁止美国进口商继续售卖相关侵权产品。

337条款调查案的双方也可以选择庭外和解,但是和解协议必须经由ITC复审。我们经常协助客户尽早解决337条款调查案,以减少他们的诉讼费用。在20世纪90年代初期,RCA针对中国进口的电视提出了337条款调查。所有涉及的中国公司通过与RCA签署授权许可协议,迅速地解决了该调查案。

337条款调查案中的答辩人通常可以通过修改本身产品的设计来避开相关的侵权指责。约翰迪尔(John Deere)曾经指控把拖拉机漆成绿色和黄色的中国公司侵犯了约翰迪尔的商标,因而提出了一项著名的337条款调查案。大部分的中国答辩人与申诉人达成协议并改变拖拉机的颜色,例如蓝红色。

关键点:337条款调查案是ITC发起的强有力诉讼案,美国公司应该把它视为阻止侵权产品进入美国市场的手段。另一方面,涉及这些调查案的美国进口商和外国答辩人应该认真地对待它们,并且迅速做出回应,因为排除令发出后可延续多年有效。

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

 

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

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC ReflectioFIRM UPDATE

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

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

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

President Obama went to state:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the GAO report states:

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

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

The GAO Report concludes at page 56-47:

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

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

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

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

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

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

The following are key points from these new regulations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA CHINESE VERSION OF THE ARTICLE

中国进口太阳能电池反倾销案即将到来的最后期限重返美国市场的机会

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEEL TRADE CASES

HOT ROLLED STEEL FLAT PRODUCTS

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

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

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

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

IMPORT SENSITIVE PRODUCTS AND NEW 337 CASES

Commerce Department After the Snow Pennsylvania Avenue WashingtoIMPORT SENSITIVE PRODUCTS

Over the last several years, because of my international trade expertise, many US importers have called me because they wake up one morning and find they are liable for antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duties (“CVD”) on a number of different products.  These duties can be in the millions of dollars, when the importers simply did not know that the imported products were covered by US AD and CVD orders.  One unfortunate fact is that US importers, companies that import products into the United States, are liable for AD and CVD on imports and they can be retroactively liable.

This post highlights the breadth of products currently subject to antidumping and countervailing duty orders and it thus should serve as a warning to anyone in the United States who imports products from China.

If you were an importer of a solar recharger for an RV unit, for example, would you know that the product is covered by the US AD order on solar cells from China?  If you were importing curtain walls/the sides of buildings, auto parts, geodesic domes, and lighting equipment, would you know that the products were covered by US AD and CVD orders against aluminum extrusions?

In fact, the US presently has more than 130 AD and CVD orders against China and 100s of AD and CVD orders against imports from other countries.  The Chinese AD and CVD orders block more than $30 billion in imports, and those AD and CVD orders can stay in place for 5 to 30 years.  The orders can also expand to cover downstream products, such as curtain walls, certain solar cell consumer products, and gardening equipment.

With regards to China, more than 80 of the AD and CVD orders are against raw materials, chemicals, metals and various steel products, used in downstream US production.  In the Steel area, there are AD and CVD orders against the following Chinese steel products:

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

There are ongoing investigations against cold-rolled steel and corrosion resistant/galvanized steel so almost all Chinese steel products from China are blocked by US AD and CVD orders.

In addition to steel, other metal products, such as silicomanganese, metallurgical coke, magnesium, silicon metal, and graphite electrodes, which are used in downstream steel production, are also blocked by AD orders.  Electrolytic Manganese Dioxide used to produce batteries is also covered, which led Panasonic to close its US battery factory and move to China.  The Magnesium AD orders have led to the destruction of the US Magnesium Dye Casting industry and the movement of light weight auto parts production to Canada.

In addition to steel and metal products, chemical products, such as sulfanilic acid, polyvinyl alcohol, barium carbonate, potassium permanganate, activated carbon, glycine, isocyanurates/swimming pool chemicals, xanthan gum, citric acid, and calcium hypochlorite, are covered by orders.  The AD order on sulfanilic acid led to the injury of the US optical brightening industry, which brought its own antidumping case against China.

In addition to raw materials, however, many household products are covered by AD and CVD orders, including ironing tables, steel sinks, wood flooring, wooden bedroom furniture, steel shelving, and steel cooking ware.  Other consumer products covered are: tires, hand trucks, lawn groomers, steel nails, paper clips, pencils, ribbons, candles, paper products, gift wrap and heavy forged hand tools.

In addition to household products, food products, such as shrimp, honey, crawfish and garlic, are covered by AD orders against China and other countries.

At this point in time, any product being imported from China is at least somewhat import sensitive and could well be attacked by US trade actions.  This means that an importer should monitor the products it imports for any potential trade sanctions. And if you the importer are hit with sanctions, know that in contrast to other legal statutes, the AD and CVD law are remedial statutes so you can request an antidumping or countervailing duty review investigation to get the rates reduced and with that your own liability for past imports.

NEW SECTION 337 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CASES FILED AT ITC AGAINST CHINA

On June 22, 2016,  Schutz Container Systems Inc. filed a section 337 IP case at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) against Composite Intermediate Bulk Containers.  The proposed respondent is Zhenjiang Runzhou Jinshan Packaging Factory, China.

On June 24, 2016, Excel Dryer, Inc. filed a section 337 IP case at the ITC against Hand Dryers and Housings for Hand Dryers.  The proposed respondents, including Chinese companies, are: ACL Group (Intl.) Ltd, United Kingdom; Alpine Industries Inc., Irving, New Jersey; FactoryDirectSale, Ontario, CA; Fujian Oryth Industrial Co., Ltd. (a/k/a Oryth), China; Jinhua Kingwe Electrical Co. Ltd., (a/k/a Kingwe), China; Penson & Co., China; Taizhou Dihour Electrical Appliances Co., Ltd. a/k/a Dihour, China; TC Bunny Co., Ltd., China; Toolsempire, Ontario, CA; US Air Hand Dryer, Sacramento, CA; Vinovo, China; and Zhejiang Akie Appliance Co., Ltd., China.

On July 5, 2016, The Chamberlain Group Inc. filed a section 337 case at the ITC against Access Control Systems.  The proposed respondents, including a Chinese company, are: Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd, Hong Kong; Techtronic Industries North America, Inc., Hunt Valley, Maryland; One World Technologies Inc., Anderson, South Carolina; OWT Industries Inc., Pickens, South Carolina; Ryobi Technologies Inc., Anderson, South Carolina; and Et Technology (Wuxi) Co., Ltd., China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR JULY 2015 TPA, TPP, TRADE POLICY, TRADE AND CUSTOMS

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC ReflectioTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR JULY 15, 2015

 

Dear Friends,

Because of the substantial activity in May, June and July with the passage of Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) negotiations, this blog post is being split into two parts.  The first part will cover trade policy, trade and Customs.  The second part will cover products liability, Patent/IP, antitrust and securities.

In May and June, Congress, both the House of Representatives and Senate,  twisted and turned itself into knots to pass TPA for the President and to keep the trade negotiations on track.

But TPA is not the end of the story.  In passing TPA through the Senate and House, Congress laid down a number of stiff negotiating objectives.  Essentially, it raised the bar for the negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and European negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (“TTIP”).  Congressmen and Senators indicated that they intend to be very involved personally in the negotiations so to assume that TPP negotiations will be finished in a month, as predicted by the Austrian Trade Minister and even the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”), is simply wishful thinking.

On July 9th, however, Chairman Paul Ryan stated that an agreement could be finalized by late fall.  USTR also recently announced that there will be a major TPP negotiating round between July 24-30th in Hawaii.

Now the heavy lift begins.  Now is the time for any US company that is having export problems with exports to the 12 Trans Pacific Partnership countries, specifically Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore or Vietnam, to bring these problems to the attention of US negotiators and also their Congressional representatives so the issue can be included in the ongoing negotiations.

As Senators Hatch and Wyden stated on June 24th on the Senate Floor and below and Representatives Ryan, Levin and Sessions stated on the House floor on June 25th, this is just the beginning of the process and this process has a very long way to go.

The first half of this blog post will set out the twists and turns of the TPA negotiations in the House and the Senate, along with developments in the TPP negotiations and also developments in trade and Customs law.  The second half of the blog post will cover products liability, IP/Patent, China antidumping cases, antitrust and securities.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE POLICY

TPP NEGOTIATIONS FORGE AHEAD BUT CANADA IS A STICKING POINT

On July 7th and 9th, it was reported that TPP negotiations are into their final round, but other commentators have stated that there is still a ways to go.  On July 9th in a Politico Morning Money speech, which can be found here http://www.c-span.org/video/?327014-1/politico-conversation-trade-representative-paul-ryan-rwi, Paul Ryan, House Ways and Means Chairman, stated that there could be a final TPP Agreement by late Fall.  There appears to be a very strong push to conclude the TPP Agreement by the end of Year so it does not bleed into 2016, an election year.  If TPP becomes an election issue, it could pose a very difficult political issue, especially for the Democrats and Hilary Clinton, in particular, because much of the Democratic base, such as the Unions, strongly oppose the Trade Agreements.

On July 1st, at a Politico Playbook Discussion, USTR Michael Froman stated that they hope to complete the TPP “as soon as we possibly can,” and deliver it to Congress by the end of the year.  Froman further stated:

We’re in the final stages of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We’re down to a reasonable number of outstanding issues, but by definition, those issues tend to be the most difficult, whether it’s on market access or on rules like intellectual property.

Froman also stated that with Japan good progress had been made on agriculture and automobiles, and “I don’t really see that as an obstacle to other progress at the moment.”  He went on to state that other issues include access to the Canadian agricultural markets and rules on intellectual property rights, investment and state-owned enterprises.

More importantly, Froman stated that the major achievement of the TPP is that there are no product-area exemptions—all product areas will be covered.  He stated that the negotiators were committed “to ensure that our exporters have commercially meaningful market access to foreign markets.”

On July 7th USTR announced that the chief negotiators and ministers of the 12 countries engaged in the TPP trade talks will meet in Maui, Hawaii at the Westin Maui Resort and Spa, with the chief negotiators meeting July 24-27 and the ministers meeting July 28-31. USTR stated that “The upcoming ministerial provides an important opportunity to build on this progress as we work to conclude the negotiation.”

With U.S. trade promotion authority (TPA) now in place, the stage is set for the U.S. and Japan to finalize their talks on nontariff barriers to U.S. autos, which includes an auto-specific dispute settlement mechanism, and for the U.S. and Canada to begin negotiating in earnest on the roughly 100 Canadian tariff lines containing dairy, poultry and eggs—items administered by a supply management system that restricts imports to protect the domestic industry.

Japanese and Canadian government officials were waiting for TPA to pass before making final offers.

One Commentator stated, however, that she does not believe that the Maui meeting will be the final TPP negotiating round.  Lori Wallach of Public Citizen stated

“There have been seven rounds since the ‘final’ TPP negotiating round and at least three ‘final’ TPP ministerials and there are many outstanding sensitive issues and now it’s clear to the other countries just how split Congress is on TPP, so whether this really is it remains to be seen.”

Wide chasms remain within several sectors potentially impacted in the 31 negotiation areas. For example, the U.S. is demanding the quota for Japan’s food-use rice imports be increased to about 175,000 tons while Japan is insisting 50,000 tons. Japan is demanding that the U.S. eliminate tariffs on Japanese auto parts manufactured in the Southeast Asian countries with which Tokyo has an economic partnership agreement. The two countries also have yet to agree on Japanese beef and pork import tariffs, though the issue is almost settled. There are still wide gaps between the 12 countries on intellectual property rights protection of pharmaceuticals data and dispute settlement on cross-border trade and investment.

In a July 14th trade publication, former USTR general counsel Warren Maruyama reinforced the skepticism about the potential conclusion of the TPP in Hawaii, stating:

I think it’s a bit of a stretch; my understanding is there are a lot of brackets.  There’s a whole bunch of difficult things.”

Moreover, a swift conclusion of the TPP would not go well with Congress.  As Maruyama further stated:

One of the expectations coming out of TPA is there’s going to be a much better process of consultations, and it’s not necessarily going to go over well if there’s some sort of a rush to agreement without adequate consultation with the Congress, particularly when you get into these sensitive sectors.

On July 7th, at the time of the announcement of the Hawaii TPA meeting, President Obama was meeting Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of Vietnam, another TPP country.   President Obama noted that the TPP talks “was an excellent opportunity for us to deepen our discussion” and the trade deal has “enormous potential” for economic growth for both countries. Trong stated that U.S. and Vietnam have been able to “rise above the past.” “What is of utmost importance is we have transformed from former enemies to friends.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported on July 7th:

Outstanding controversies include access to Canada’s agriculture market, Australian concerns over American pharmaceutical patent rules, Peru’s rain forest management, Chinese components in Vietnamese textile exports and labor organizing rights in Vietnam and Mexico. The dispute over access to Canada’s protected dairy and poultry markets is so fierce that some participants say they believe Canada could drop out of the talks. . . .

United States officials feel confident enough a deal is at hand that they have scheduled a meeting among the chief negotiators at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa in Hawaii during the last four days in July and have notified Congress that they expect this to be the last one.

But on July 7th, the Canadian government restated its support for the TPP deal, with Finance Minister Joe Oliver saying increased trade and investment will benefit the economy.  Oliver further stated that Canada has “come a long way from the free trade bogeyman” era of the 1980s, when the North American Free Trade Agreement was negotiated.”  The TPP deal “will unlock the Pacific powerhouse” and create jobs in Canada.  Canada is under pressure to open up its dairy and poultry sectors, where production is controlled through quotas and imports are restricted with high tariffs. Dismantling that system, known as supply management, may become an election issue in rural districts for Conservatives in the hard fought fall election.

Oliver further stated, “Free trade is at the heart of the Canadian advantage. It is the heart of Canada’s future.  Canada must build on the free trade empire we have forged.”

But on July 13th the Huffington Post reported that US Congressmen and Senators are pressuring the Administration to push Canada out of the TPP if it does not agree to deregulate its dairy and poultry industries and open them up to import competition.  This point, however, is not new.  Several months ago while discussing the TPP negotiations with Congressional trade staff on Capitol Hill, they made the same point.  If Canada does not give in on dairy and poultry, they will be dropped from the negotiations.

To stay in the TPP, the Canadian government must agree to dismantle the supply management system that protects Canada’s dairy and poultry industry.  In addition to the US, Australia and probably New Zealand are pushing Canada to open up.  In the past the Canadian government has broken up supply management system for certain products, dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board in 2011.  But it is reluctant to do so with the dairy industry because of the upcoming Canadian elections.

In addition to dairy and poultry, lumber is also a target.  Another target should be the Canadian Provincial restrictions on wine imports.  British Columbia, for example, levies an 89% tariff, higher than China, on US wine imports.

But Canada’s National elections are also an issue.  They take place on October 19, 2015 so the present Canadian government may want to wait to make major concessions until after the National election in Canada.

Because of these problems, many Trade Commentators, including John Brinkley of Forbes, believe that TPP still have a long way to go.  As John Brinkley stated in his column on July 7th:

Negotiations over the TPP among and between the 12 parties to it are not as close to completion as Obama and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman would like you to believe. There are enough unresolved issues in the text to keep the negotiators at the table for a long time.

To be fair, the 11 other TPP parties know they need to finish it and get it to the U.S. Congress for a vote by the end of the year. If it drags into the 2016 election year, all bets are off. That fact, along with Congress having given Obama fast-track authority, may soften their negotiating positions on some issues.

For the full article, see http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2015/07/07/tpp-still-has-a-long-way-to-go/.

TPP NEGOTIATIONS BECOME MORE TRANSPARENT

As promised on the House and Senate floors the passage of TPA has led to more transparency. On July 9, 2015, the United States Trade Representative’s office (“USTR”) announced that members of its various advisory committees, including labor unions, industry experts and environmental groups, can now see the negotiating text of the TPP.

USTR specifically stated:

This week, a diverse group of trade advisers — including labor unions, industry experts, environmental groups and public advocates — will begin viewing draft TPP negotiating text as part of the congressionally established trade advisory process.  These advisors will receive full and equal access to the draft negotiation text in an effort to ensure that they can adequately prepare congressionally mandated reports on TPP.

The Obama administration firmly believes that the input of a wide array of voices is integral to trade negotiations, which is why we have grown the size and membership of our trade advisory committees.

TPA AND TAA NOW LAW—THE HEAVY LIFTING NOW BEGINS AS NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE ON TPP

On June 25, 2015, the House of Representatives passed the African Growth and Opportunity Act (“AGO”) by a vote of 286 to 138, which includes Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”), and the bill, was sent to President Obama.  See House Debate on TPA at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326582-4/house-debate-trade-promotion-authority.  On June 24, 2015 the US Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill by a vote of 60 to 38 for President Obama’s signature.  See the Senate debates at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326681-5/senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority.  As the Senate and House leadership promised, both TPA and TAA were on President’s Obama’s desk at the same time.  To see President Obama sign the Trade Bills, watch CSPAN at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326821-2/president-obama-bill-signing-ceremony.

Now the heavy lift begins.  On June 23, 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan predicted that with the TPA vote TPP could be finalized in a month.  That simply is not going to happen. With all the negotiating objectives in the TPA bill, including currency manipulation, I firmly believe that TPP negotiations will go on until at least the end of the year and possibly into 2016, an election year.

In light of numerous Congressional negotiating objectives, the TPP negotiations are going to take time and will not be an easy lift.  Congress will be involved in the negotiations every step of the way so this will not be simple.

As Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means, stated on President Obama’s signature of TPA:

“With TPA in place, our attention shifts to the trade agreements currently being negotiated with our friends in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. Just as TPA allows greater oversight of the process, it requires the administration to follow Congress’s priorities and achieve high-standard agreements. We have a great opportunity ahead of us, and Congress and the administration both must do their parts to seize it.”

Anyone who thinks TPP negotiations will be finished in a month is simply wishful thinking.  This will be a difficult set of negotiations.  As the Wall Street Journal stated on its June 25th front page:

The White House and Republican leaders notched a significant victory Wednesday with the Senate’s passage of divisive trade legislation, but the win kicks off a grueling, months long process to complete a Pacific trade pact that still faces domestic opposition and must win final congressional approval.

As Democratic Congressman Sander Levin, ranking Democratic member of House Ways and Means, stated on June 25th on the House Floor, the battle now switches from TPA to the actual negotiations and words in the TPP itself:

The debate these last weeks and months has been about how do we get a strong and effective trade policy and trade agreement. That debate only intensifies now.  . . . The argument about the process of T.P.A. is now behind us. And the challenge of the substance of T.P.P. smack in front of us. Automatic embrace of centuries’ old doctrines does not meet the challenges of intensifying globalization. So we will continue to shine a bright light on the critical issues like market access, state-owned enterprises, intellectual property and access to medicines, worker rights, environment, currency manipulation and investment provisions that could put at risk domestic regulations.

Our calls for improvements to the negotiations will only grow louder. In order for T.P.P. to gain the support of the American people, it will need to gain the votes of a much broader coalition of members of Congress than voted for T.P.A. the issue is not pro-trade versus anti-trade, but whether we shape trade agreements to spread the benefits broadly, including the middle class of Americans.  . . .

As Republican Congressman Pete Sessions stated on June 25th on the House Floor, Congressional Representatives will have their chance and these negotiations are going to take time:

But I would respond and say to the gentleman, you’re going to have an opportunity and I can’t wait to get you invited to every single round of these and have you find time to go do exactly what you think members of Congress ought to be doing. Because in fact that’s the way the T.P.A. is written.  . . . But this whole process — as soon as that takes place, the gentleman will have all the opportunity he wants to go and take part of every round of the discussions. . . . As soon as it’s signed by the President, he can go at it.  . . . he will have that opportunity and every member of this body will have that same chance. He and every member will have a chance to go and negotiate, be in the room, be a part of the discussion . . . but he will be allowed as a member of Congress.

So, Mr. Speaker, the things which are being talked about most as negative points about this bill, there’s already an answer to it. That’s what Republicans did. This is a Republican bill. This is about the authority of the House of Representatives, the United States Congress, to make sure we are involved. That has never been allowed before. Fast track is what we used to have. That’s what we did have. We now have a bill before us today which will help us complete the entire process, to make sure members of Congress are involved, not just the United States negotiators, but all the world will know . . . the parts about how we’re going to negotiate the trade deal and if it doesn’t come back that way, we’ll vote it down. Do we need to second guess them now today? I don’t think so. But if any member wants to be involved in this, they can just get on their plane and go wherever they want and get it done. And by law they’ll be allowed that opportunity.

All those pundits that say the TPP negotiations will be concluded in a month simply have not listened to the arguments on the House and Senate Floor.  To get a TPP, which will pass Congress, will require much more negotiation and a much longer time.  The TPP negotiations will not conclude until the end of the year at the earliest and possibly 2016, an election year.

HOUSE VOTES TO PASS AGOA AND TAA ON JUNE 25, 2015 AND BILL GOES TO THE PRESIDENT

On June 25, 2015 the African Growth and Opportunity Act (“AGOA”) with Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) passed the House by a 286 to 138 vote and went to President Obama for signature.   As promised by House Speaker John Boehner and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, TAA was brought to the floor of the House and passed.  As Republican Congressman Dave Reichert, a co-sponsor of the TAA bill, stated on the House Floor:

Also included in this legislation is a renewal of trade adjustment assistance and I’m proud as Mr. Ryan said, to sponsor the House legislation to renew it because there is a need for this program. I believe increased trade is good for all Americans and it creates jobs. It makes America stronger. But I also understand that among and along the way, as we create jobs and trade and our jobs change over the next few years, along the way, some workers may need extra assistance and additional training. That’s why T.A.A. is so important. We’ve made great strides this past week by sending T.P.A. to the President’s desk . . . So now, Mr. Speaker, we must move forward, pass T.A.A. and AGOA today.

As Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer on the House Floor stated today, the Republican leaders kept their promise on TPA and TAA:

It’s at times trust is in short supply in this institution for a whole host of reasons but we were given ironclad assurances from the Speaker, from the President, from the Chairman, from Senator Wyden, Senator Hatch, Leader McConnell that T.A.A. would come back to this floor to be voted on. And I think it’s important that that has in fact occurred. Because to adapt, respond and grow a 21st century work force we need trade adjustment assistance. And what we have before us is an improvement over current law. It’s not as good as what we had in 2009, and I hope that we will be able to build on this and move forward, but this program has helped more than 100,000 Americans, including 3,000 of my fellow Oregonians who received job training and financial support. And there will continue to be winners and losers in the global economy. Whether we have trade agreements with countries or not like with pressures from China, it’s important that we provide this for our workers. With our vote today we do so.

The funding for TAA for companies, however, remains very low.  As one TAAC director told me:

Due to the Appropriations error of funding the program at $12.5M, our TAAC will have a budget of less than $3,000.00 per company this next year.   Obviously, we can’t provide much serious technical assistance for $3,000 per company, and worse, it disrupts the momentum we’ve established for facilitating their recovery.   Worse yet, this happens at a time when we should be building the program in anticipation of TPP and TTIP!

 It’s frustrating to know that the TAA for Worker’s program net cost annually per individual worker is $53,802.00* – just think what we could do if we had that kind of budget annually for companies!

* A 2012 cost-benefit evaluation commissioned by the Department of Labor found a net cost to society of $53,802 for each person who enrolled in the program between November 2005 and October 2006.

At that rate, if the TAA for Firms program prevented just 300 workers per year from enrolling in TAA for Workers because we saved their jobs instead (what a concept!), we would have generated more than enough cost savings to fund the TAAF program’s national annual budget of $16M (300 workers x $53,802 = $16,140,600).   That’s an incredibly low bar to meet on a national basis – it’s one that each of the 11 regional TAAF Centers could meet quite easily, resulting in net cost savings of more than $175M!

 When you look at it from that perspective, it shows the kind of  “no brainer” decision it is to fund the TAA for Companies program.  It’s really hard to understand why we can’t gain some traction with that elementary logic.

SENATE PASSES TPA AND THE BILL GOES TO PRESIDENT OBAMA’S DESK FOR SIGNATURE—THE INS AND OUTS OF THE NEGOTIATIONS

After jumping over a major procedural hurdle on June 23rd, on June 24th the Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill by a vote of 60 to 38 and the House sent the bill to President Obama for his signature. Set forth below are some of the major statements by the proponents and one opponent of the bill. To see the entire debate, watch CSPAN.org at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326775-1/us-senate-advances-taa-passes-tpa&live.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) also passed the Senate by an overwhelming vote of 77 to 23 votes, which then went to the House for final passage on June 25th.

To recap, after passing the Senate on May 22nd, the linked TPA and Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) bills went to the House of Representatives. Despite Herculean efforts by House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, on June 12th progressive Democrats and tea party protectionist conservative Republicans joined together to defeat Trade Adjustment Assistance and pursuant to the procedural rules kill TPA. But pro-trade Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House worked with President Obama over the weekend to come up with an alternative strategy and delink TAA from TPA.

On June 18th, the House passed the TPA as a stand-alone bill. See Paul Ryan’s statement on the House Floor at http://waysandmeans.house.gov/.

On June 23, 2015, in a key procedural vote in the Senate, which required a minimum of 60 votes to pass, the Senate passed cloture 60-37 for Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and essentially agreed to move forward with the stand alone House TPA Bill, which had passed on June 18th.  One can see the Senate vote and the entire speeches up to and after the vote on Cspan at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326681-1/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority.

All the Senators emphasized during the final TPA debate the importance of the Customs and Trade Enforcement bill going through Congress. This bill will crack down on US importers that attempt to evade antidumping and countervailing duty laws by importing transshipped merchandise. This Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill is directed straight at the problem of transshipment by certain Chinese companies around US antidumping and countervailing duty orders. That bill has now gone to conference where representatives of the House of Representatives and Senate will reconcile differences between the House and Senate bills.

Before the TPA final vote on June 24th, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell stated:

Yesterday’s T.P.A. [procedural] vote [was a] long overdue victory for the American worker and the American middle class. It wasn’t easy. Many thought it would never happen. We even saw corks pop in the facts optional lobby a few weeks ago, but that proved to be premature because here’s what we’ve always known about the legislation we’ll vote to send to the President today. It’s underpinned by a simple but powerful idea, for American workers to have a fair shot in the 21st century economy, it just makes sense to remove the unfair barriers that discriminate against them and the products that they make. Some may disagree. They certainly weren’t quiet in voicing their opinions. It’s okay if they don’t share our passion for ending this unfair discrimination against American workers. It’s okay if they would rather rail against tomorrow.

But a bipartisan coalition in the House and the Senate thought it was time for forward progress instead. We were really pleased to see President Obama pursue an idea we’ve long believed in. We thank him for his efforts to help us advance this measure. We thank all of our friends across the aisle for their efforts too. Senator Wyden, most of all. Over in the house, I commend Speaker Boehner and Chairman Ryan for everything they’ve done. It hasn’t been easy, and without them it wouldn’t have been possible. And of course let me thank Chairman Orrin Hatch for demonstrating such patience, persistence and determination throughout this process. He never lost sight of the goal, never gave up. The people of Utah are lucky to have him.

The Senate’s work on trade doesn’t end today. I said the Senate would finish pursuing the rest of the full trade package, and it will. . . That process continues. But the key victory for American workers and products stamped “Made in the U.S.A.” comes today. The bill we’re about to pass will assert Congress’s authority throughout the trade negotiation process. It will ensure we have the tools we need to properly scrutinize whatever trade agreements are ultimately negotiated and it will make clear that the final say rests with us. We had plenty of bumps along the road. Frankly, a few big potholes too. But we worked across the aisle to get through all of them. That’s an example of how a new Congress is back to work for the American people. I thank everyone who helped us get where we are. Now let’s vote again to support the American worker and American middle class by approving the bipartisan T.P.A. bill.

Before the final TPA vote, ranking Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of the Senate Finance Committee emphasized that the TPA bill would go through along with a Customs and Trade Enforcement bill, which includes major changes to the US Customs and Trade laws, including a sharp crack down on transshipment around US antidumping and countervailing duty laws. As I have stated many times on this blog, the transshipment issue is a burning issue in Washington DC and now it has resulted in legislation, which has gone to Conference Committee with the House of Representatives. Senator Wyden stated today on the Floor:

Mr. President, today the Senate is taking major steps towards a new, more progressive trade policy that will shut the door on the 1990’s North American Free Trade Agreement once and for all. One of the major ways this overall package accomplishes this goal is by kicking in place a tough new regime of enforcing our trade laws. . . . And it has long been my view, Mr. President, that vigorous enforcement of our trade laws must be at the forefront of any modern approach to trade at this unique time in history. One of the first questions many citizens ask is, I hear there’s talk in Washington, D.C. about passing a new trade law. How about first enforcing the laws that are on the books? And this has been an area that I long have sought to change, and we’re beginning to do this with this legislation, and I want to describe it. And for me, Mr. President, this goes back to the days when I chaired the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade and Competitiveness, and we saw such widespread cheating, such widespread flouting of our trade laws, my staff and I set up a sting operation. We set up a sting operation to catch the cheats. In effect, almost inviting these people to try to use a web site to evade the laws. And they came out of nowhere because they said cheating has gotten pretty easy, let’s sign up. And we caught a lot of people. So we said from that point on that we were going to make sure that any new trade legislation took right at the center an approach that would protect hardworking Americans from the misdeeds of trade cheats.

And in fact, the core of the bipartisan legislation that heads into conference is a jobs bill, a jobs bill that will protect American workers and our exporters from those kind of rip-offs by those who would flout the trade laws. And the fact is, Mr. President, when you finally get tough enforcement of our trade laws, it is a jobs bill. A true jobs bill, because you are doing a better job of enforcing the laws that protect the jobs, the good-paying jobs of American workers. And I guess some people think that you’re going to get that tougher enforcement by osmosis. We’re going to get it because we’re going to pass a law starting today with the Conference Agreement that’s going to have real teeth in it. Real teeth in it to enforce our trade laws. Foreign companies and nations employ a whole host of complicated schemes and shadowy tactics to break the trade rules. And they bully American businesses and undercut our workers.

So what we said in the Finance Committee on a bipartisan basis, that the name of the game would be to stay out in front of these unfair trade practices that cost our workers good-paying jobs. My colleagues and I believe that the Senate has offered now the right plan to fight back against the trade cheats and protect American jobs and protect our companies from abuse. It really starts with what’s called the Enforce Act, which is a proposal I first offered years ago that will give our customs agency more tools to crack down on the cheaters. Then we have a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on the need for an unfair trade alert.  . . .

And it’s been too hard, too hard in the past for our businesses, particularly our small businesses, to get the enforcement that matters, the enforcement with teeth, the enforcement that serves as a real deterrent to cheating. So this legislation is our chance to demonstrate that strengthening trade enforcement, enforcement of the trade laws, will now be an integral part of a new modern approach to trade, an approach that says, we’re not part of the 1990’s on trade where nobody had web sites and iPhones and the like; we’ve got a modern trade policy with the centerpiece enforcing our trade laws. Our policies are going to give America’s trade enforcers the tools they need to fight on behalf of American jobs and American workers and stop the trade cheats who seek to undercut them. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote “yes” later today on the motion to send the enforcement bill to conference and work on a bipartisan basis, as we did in the Finance Committee, to put strong trade enforcement legislation on the President’s desk. . . .

The three programs — the trade adjustment assistance program, the health coverage tax credit, Senator Brown’s leveling the playing field act — are now moving through the Senate alongside legislation that creates new economic opportunities for impoverished countries in Africa and other places around the world. . . . I urge all of my colleagues to vote yes to support these important programs when we vote later today.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio speaking against the final TPA vote pounded on the enforcement bill:

Its authority to amend trade agreements, should not pave the way for a trade deal that looks like it’s going to be more of the same. Corporate handouts, worker sellouts. We’ve seen it with NAFTA. We saw a similar kind of move on PNTR with China where the trade deficit, our bilateral trade deficit has almost literally exploded since 2000, when this body and the other body moved forward on PNTR. . . . . We also have a responsibility to look out for the American worker who we know will be hurt by this deal. . . . Last, Mr. President, we have an opportunity in this bill today to once again support the level the playing field act to make sure it gets to the President’s desk. This will be the vote after this — after the T.P.A. vote. This vote is essential to protecting our manufacturers from illegal foreign competition. We can’t have trade promotion without trade enforcement. It shouldn’t be bipartisan, regardless of how you vote on T.A.A. we need to make sure our deals are enforced. Level the playing field to against unfair trade practices, it’s critical for our businesses, our workers who drown in the flood of illegally subsidized import. It has the full support of business and workers, Republicans and Democrats. . . . No matter where you stand on T.P.A. we should be able to come together to have enforce — enforceable laws. We have trade. We know these agreements cause wages to stagnate, we know these agreements cause factories to close . . . This is a terrible mistake we will make which we’ve made over and over and over and over if we pass this today. If we pass T.P.A. it’s the same mistake we made with NAFTA. Big promises, job increases, wages going up, bad results. We did it when we passed PNTR, when we passed CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, with the Korean Free Trade Agreement, we’re about to do it again, shame on us. At least take care of workers if we’re going to pass this legislation.

Prior to the final TPA vote, Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called the TPA bill and accompanying trade legislation the most important bill to pass in the Senate this year. Senator Hatch stated:

This is a critical day for our country. In fact I’d call it an historic day. It’s taken us awhile to get there, longer than many of us would have liked but we all know anything worth having takes effort and this bill is worth the effort. This is perhaps the most important bill we’ll pass in the Senate this year. It will help reassert Congress’s role over U.S. trade negotiations and reestablish the United States as a strong player in international trade.

Renewing T.P.A. has been a top priority for me for many years and as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I am pleased that with the help of ranking member Wyden, we’ve been able to deliver a robust and bipartisan bill. It’s also been a high priority for the Senate Majority Leader. And thanks to his strong support and leadership, we’re one step away from completing this important task. This bill will help farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs throughout our country get better access to foreign markets and allow them to compete on a level playing field. This bill will help give these job creators and the workers they employ greater opportunities to grow their businesses which will help create a healthier American economy. The business and agricultural communities understand the importance of strong trade agreements. That is why they came together in strong support of this important legislation. We’ve heard from all of them throughout this debate, and I appreciate their enthusiasm and support.

This has from the outset been a bipartisan effort, and I’m glad it remained that way.  . . .

But let’s be clear, passing T.P.A. is not the end of the story. It’s just the beginning. As Chairman of the Finance Committee, I intend to remain vigilant in our oversight as the administration pursues the negotiating objectives that Congress has set with this legislation. And if they fall short, I will be among the first to hold them accountable. But that is for another day. Today I urge my colleagues to help us finalize this historic achievement and join me in voting in favor of this bipartisan T.P.A. bill. If the vote goes the way I think it will today, today will be remembered as a good day for the Senate, the President, and the American people.

Finally, also included in this bill is an extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance, or T.A.A. program. I think I’ve said enough about my opposition to this program here on the floor over the past several weeks. . . . However, I do understand that for many of my colleagues who want to support T.P.A. and free trade, passage of T.A.A. is a prerequisite. From the outset of this debate over trade promotion authority, I’ve committed to my colleagues to working to ensure that both T.A.A. and T.P.A. move on parallel tracks. I plan to make good on this commitment and today will show that. That is why despite my misgivings about T.A.A. and with the entire picture in view, I plan to vote for this latest version of the trade preferences bill.

WILL CONGRESS FOLLOW THE SIREN CALL OF PROTECTIONISM AND TAKE THE US BACKWARDS OR MOVE FORWARD WITH TPP TO RESUME ITS FREE TRADE LEADERSHIP

In light of the Congressional votes for TPA, one hopes that the Congress is moving away from the protectionist brink, but with a 60-37 procedural vote in the Senate on June 23rd, when 60 votes were required, nothing can be taken for granted. Listening to the anti-trade rhetoric in the US Senate and House of Representatives one is reminded of the original Greek tale in which Ulysses on his way back home had to pass the Siren rocks. The Greek Sirens would cry so sweetly they lured sailors and ships to their doom.

Many Democrats and some Republicans are now listening to the Sirens of protectionism from the labor unions and other activists that the US should move inward, put America first and protect workers and US factories at all costs from import competition created by free trade agreements. Although trade pundits acknowledge that TPA has passed, they argue that the Agreements, the TPP and TTIP Agreement with the EC, will die because the United States simply cannot withstand the protectionist attacks. If that is true, the US will give up trade leadership and could well return back to the 1930s. See the statement by Senator Bernie Sanders on June 23rd on the floor of the US Senate at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326681-1/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority&live.

As John Brinkley, a Forbes commentator, stated on June 22, 2015, the day before the vote in the Senate on TPA:

Whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership lives or dies, it will probably be America’s last free trade agreement for a very long time.

No future Congress will want to walk into a war zone like the one now extant to pass a trade deal based on nebulous benefits. You may have noticed that the Obama administration has offered no estimate of how many jobs the TPP would create. Rather, its strategy has been to say that ratifying the TPP would empower the United States to write the rules of global trade and not ratifying it would cede that power to China. . . .

If the administration and Congress can’t convince people that free trade will facilitate those things – and they can’t – why should people care?

The next free trade agreement in the queue is the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, which would connect the economies of the United States and the European Union. Given the amount of combat that’s been waged over the TPP, you wouldn’t want to bet on ratification of the TTIP.

Congressional leaders don’t want to put their members through another grueling trade fight like they one they’re in now, and they have no doubt made that clear to Obama. If the next president is a Democrat, he or she won’t touch the TTIP with a ten foot pole. A Republican president might ignore the opposition and try to get it done, but he’d probably lose. . . .

The TPP’s detractors have been louder and more prolific in attacking it than its proponents have been in defending it. And most of what they’ve been saying is exaggerated or wrong. They’ll probably fail to derail the TPP. But they’ve probably already succeeded in killing the TTIP and any future trade agreement that the next president or two might envision.

For Mr. Brinkley’s entire article see http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2015/06/22/farewell-free-trade.

Another commentator predicted that the real impact of the Trade fight will be on the Democratic Party stating:

Just as the tea party wing of the Republican Party has pulled the entire GOP to the right and hampered attempts at compromise on Capitol Hill, some now fear a similar dynamic is taking shape on the left. . . .

The revival of the trade package inflamed labor unions and liberal groups that had fought ferociously to block it, including by running ads against otherwise friendly House Democrats and threatening to mount primary campaigns against them. Unions say past trade deals bled American jobs and tanked wages. They argue that granting Obama the power to finalize trade deals that Congress can accept or reject, but not amend, would lead to more of the same, including the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership the White House has worked on for years.

“Democrats who allowed the passage of fast-track authority for the job-killing TPP, should know that we will not lift a finger or raise a penny to protect you when you’re attacked in 2016, we will encourage our progressive allies to join us in leaving you to rot, and we will actively search for opportunities to primary you with a real Democrat,” Jim Dean, head of Democracy for America, said in a statement following Thursday’s House vote. . . .

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20150620/us–congress-democrats-ad8fbb804c.html or http://tiny.iavian.net/5mkd.

To illustrate the pressure on Congressional lawmakers, in discussing the situation with knowledgeable trade professionals, they mentioned that a Union sent demonstrators to the school where one Democratic Congressman placed his kids.

Why is the protectionist America first trade policy wrong policy? Because all of “international/WTO” trade law is based on reciprocity. What the United States can do to other countries, those countries can do back to the United States. In effect, the United States can be hoisted by its own petard, killed by its own knife.

That is the reason Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Congressman Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, are so concerned about currency manipulation. Yes, currency manipulation is now a negotiating objective as set forth in the TPA. But enforcing currency manipulation is a problem because there is no internationally accepted definition of currency manipulation. When the US Federal Reserve used quantitative easing in the last financial crisis, was that currency manipulation? Could other countries retaliate against the US for using quantitative easing? That is the fear of free traders. In international trade what goes around comes around.

The Siren Call of protectionism of putting America first by protecting companies and worker job from imports, the vast majority of which “must be unfairly traded”, however, has echoed throughout American history. Many politicians apparently have not learned the lessons of history. In the 1930s, President Hubert Hoover promised to help the United States dig out of the recession by raising tariff walls against imports and Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930. Countries around the World retaliated by raising barriers to imports from the United States. Exports and imports stopped and the World was plunged in the depression, which, in turn, was one of reasons for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the cause of the Second World War.

As one article on Capitalism states:

What was the end-result of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act? As other countries placed tariffs on American exports in retaliation, these tariffs actually led to the reduction of American exports and thus jobs: With the reduction of American exports came also the destruction of American jobs, as unemployment levels which were 6.3% (June 1930) jumped to 11.6% a few months later (November 1930). As farmers were unable to pay back their loans to banks, their loan defaults led to increasing bank crashes, particularly in the West and Mid-West.

See http://capitalism.org/free-trade/what-was-the-end-result-of-the-smoot-hawley-tariff-act/

The State Department itself states on its website:

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of June 1930 raised U.S. tariffs to historically high levels. The original intention behind the legislation was to increase the protection afforded domestic farmers against foreign agricultural imports. . . . During the 1928 election campaign, Republican presidential candidate Herbert Hoover pledged to help the beleaguered farmer by, among other things, raising tariff levels on agricultural products. But once the tariff schedule revision process got started, it proved impossible to stop. Calls for increased protection flooded in from industrial sector special interest groups, and soon a bill meant to provide relief for farmers became a means to raise tariffs in all sectors of the economy. When the dust had settled, Congress had agreed to tariff levels that exceeded the already high rates established by the 1922 Fordney-McCumber Act and represented among the most protectionist tariffs in U.S. history.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was more a consequence of the onset of the Great Depression than an initial cause. But while the tariff might not have caused the Depression, it certainly did not make it any better. It provoked a storm of foreign retaliatory measures and came to stand as a symbol of the “beggar-thy neighbor” policies (policies designed to improve one’s own lot at the expense of that of others) of the 1930s. Such policies contributed to a drastic decline in international trade. For example, U.S. imports from Europe declined from a 1929 high of $1,334 million to just $390 million in 1932, while U.S. exports to Europe fell from $2,341 million in 1929 to $784 million in 1932. Overall, world trade declined by some 66% between 1929 and 1934. More generally, Smoot-Hawley did nothing to foster trust and cooperation among nations in either the political or economic realm during a perilous era in international relations.

The Smoot-Hawley tariff represents the high-water mark of U.S. protectionism in the 20th century. Thereafter, beginning with the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, American commercial policy generally emphasized trade liberalization over protectionism. The United States generally assumed the mantle of champion of freer international trade . . . .

See http://future.state.gov/when/timeline/1921_timeline/smoot_tariff.html.  It should be noted that the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are in the Tariff Act of 1930 today.

In fact, it is the political impact and the security implications of the trade agreements, that has caused Secretary of Defense Carter and on May 8th, a bipartisan collection of 7 former US defense secretaries, including Harold Brown, William S. Cohen, Robert M. Gates, Chuck Hagel, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, and Donald H. Rumsfeld along with well-known Generals, such as General David H. Petraeus and General Colin Powell, to call for the passage of TPA, stating:

By binding us closer together with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Australia, among others, TPP would strengthen existing and emerging security relationships in the Asia-Pacific, and reassure the region of America’s long-term staying power. In Europe, TTIP would reinvigorate the transatlantic partnership and send an equally strong signal about the commitment of the United States to our European allies.

The successful conclusion of TPP and TTIP would also draw in other nations and encourage them to undertake political and economic reforms. The result will be deeper regional economic integration, increased political cooperation, and ultimately greater stability in the two regions of the world that will have the greatest long-term impact on U.S. prosperity and security.

Indeed, TPP in particular will shape an economic dynamic over the next several decades that will link the United States with one of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic regions. If, however, we fail to move forward with TPP, Asian economies will almost certainly develop along a China-centric model. In fact, China is already pursuing an alternative regional free trade initiative. TPP, combined with T-TIP, would allow the United States and our closest allies to help shape the rules and standards for global trade.

The stakes are clear. There are tremendous strategic benefits to TPP and TTIP, and there would be harmful strategic consequences if we fail to secure these agreements.

In a June 28, 1986 speech President Ronald Reagan indicated that he had learned the Smoot Hawley lesson stating:

Now, I know that if I were to ask most of you how you like to spend your Saturdays in the summertime, sitting down for a nice, long discussion of international trade wouldn’t be at the top of the list. But believe me, none of us can or should be bored with this issue. Our nation’s economic health, your well-being and that of your family’s really is at stake. That’s because international trade is one of those issues that politicians find an unending source of temptation. Like a 5-cent cigar or a chicken in every pot, demanding high tariffs or import restrictions is a familiar bit of flimflammery in American politics. But cliches and demagoguery aside, the truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth.

You see, trade barriers and protectionism only put off the inevitable. Sooner or later, economic reality intrudes, and industries protected by the Government face a new and unexpected form of competition. It may be a better product, a more efficient manufacturing technique, or a new foreign or domestic competitor.

By this time, of course, the protected industry is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition. And that, my friends, is when the factories shut down and the unemployment lines start. We had an excellent example of this in our own history during the Great Depression. Most of you are too young to remember this, but not long after the stock market crash of 1929, the Congress passed something called the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Many economists believe it was one of the worst blows ever to our economy. By crippling free and fair trade with other nations, it internationalized the Depression. It also helped shut off America’s export market, eliminating many jobs here at home and driving the Depression even deeper.

Well, since World War II, the nations of the world showed they learned at least part of their lesson. . . .

As many famous statesmen have stated in the past, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

With the extreme rhetoric in the international trade area, however, the question is whether the United States truly has learned its lesson or whether it will raise the protectionist walls, and give up on free trade. So the question is does the United States give up on Free Trade and ignore the historical lesson or does it move forward with these free trade agreements, open up markets around the World, and retake its leadership position in international trade?.

WASHINGTON CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION SPLITS ON TPA BILL

To see the powerful impact of Union and protectionist arguments on Congress, one need look no further than my state of Washington where the Washington Congressional delegation was split.  Although Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voted for TPA, along with Republicans in the House, the Washington State Democrats in the House were split.

Congressmen Rick Larson and Derek Kilmer along with Congresswoman Susan delBene voted in favor of TPA,  but Democratic Congressmen Adam Smith, Denny Heck and Jim McDermott wilted under substantial pressure from the Unions and voted against TPA.

In voting for TPA, in the attached statement, Larsen_ TPA Is Right For Pacific Northwest Economy _ Congressman Rick Larsen, Congressman Rick Larson sets forth his arguments in favor of TPA, stating in part:

I understand many people want the content of trade negotiations to be public. But opening up negotiations would give other countries a clear view of U.S. positions and lessen our ability to push for the best deal for our workers, environment and economy. I think the transparency provisions in the TPA bill will enable the public to have more and better information about the content of trade agreements. . . .

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a 20-year-old agreement, and our country has learned a lot about trade agreements since then. The TPP negotiations are much stronger than NAFTA for several reasons. TPP includes strong requirements that other countries involved in the negotiations live up to high standards for workers, the environment and human rights. NAFTA did not. And TPP puts in place penalties, so if other countries involved in the agreement do not live up to these high standards, they will be sanctioned. NAFTA did not include sanctions for violating the terms of the agreement.

TPP is not yet finalized. I have been reviewing the sections on labor, the environment, and investor-state dispute settlement as negotiations have progressed, and I will continue to do so.

Another reason TPP is much stronger than NAFTA is that Congress is working to hold the President to higher standards for all trade agreements. The 2015 Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill that the House is set to vote on as soon as this week provides Congressional direction to the Administration for trade agreements the President is seeking to finalize. The 2015 TPA bill is much more stringent than its predecessor, which Congress passed in 2002. Let me explain why.

The 2015 TPA bill (which you can read here: http://1.usa.gov/1T1afiY) directs trading partners to adopt and maintain core international labor standards and multilateral environmental agreements, and calls for sanctions if they do not comply. The 2002 TPA law did not require compliance or provide enforcement tools with core international labor and environmental standards. The 2015 bill requires several levels of transparency for the public . . . The 2002 bill required no transparency. The 2015 bill makes clear that trade agreements cannot change U.S. law without Congressional approval. The 2002 law did not include this level of Congressional oversight.

In the attached letter, KILMER STATEMENT ON TPA, Congressman Derek Kilmer sets forth his arguments in favor of TPA, stating in part:

This is a particularly hot topic as the Administration continues negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade agreement that would involve 40% of the world’s economy.  Suffice it to say, it’s important that America gets this right.

Trade is an essential part of Washington state’s economy. Generally, our state does well when we’re able to sell our apples, our wood products, our airplanes, our software, and other products overseas. Exports from just Washington’s Sixth Congressional District, which I represent, totaled more than $2.2 billion in 2013, supporting more than 67,000 jobs.

With that in mind, I appreciate President Obama’s suggestion that trade agreements – if done right – could expand opportunities to export our goods to growing markets like those in Asia and benefit Washington state’s employers and workers.

In addition, it’s worth acknowledging that global trade is a reality. The United States makes up just 4% of the world population – so global trade is going to happen regardless of whether Congress passes trade legislation. In making his case to Congress, the President has asked a key question: do we want America to sit back as China negotiates trade agreements around the world and seeks to set the rules of trade (leading to a race to the bottom on worker standards, environmental standards, and consumer protections) or do we want the United States to be involved in setting the rules and establishing high standards?

It’s a reasonable concern.   Earlier this year, I spoke with a manufacturer in Tacoma whose company makes American products made by American workers. But when that company tries to sell goods to Asia, their products consistently face high tariffs. The owner explained to me that he’s been told numerous times that he could avoid tariffs if he would only move his jobs to China. If we can see more American products made by American workers have the opportunity to enter new markets without these barriers, it could lead to economic opportunities.

Trade agreements with adequate protections for American companies could help reduce those tariffs, and boost sales –enabling American companies like this to expand production or hire more workers. But only if they are done right.

With that in mind, I believe that we need better trade deals than the ones we’ve had in the past. I do not want –nor would I support – an agreement that I believe would lead to American jobs going overseas or that would put corporate profits above the rights of workers or the health of our environment.

It’s critically important that we have a trade policy that reflects our region’s priorities and values. Above all, it is important to me that any trade agreement that Congress considers must ensure that we are exporting our products – not exporting our jobs.

That also means that any trade agreement needs to meet high labor standards that must be enforced. . . .

Unlike NAFTA – which failed to include labor or environmental standards as a core, enforceable part of the agreement – future agreements must have high standards that must be enforced.

Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), along with Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) jointly introduced the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. This legislation would establish congressional trade negotiating objectives and enhanced consultation requirements for trade negotiations as well as allow for trade deals to be submitted to Congress for an up-or-down vote should they meet the United States’ objectives and Congress be sufficiently consulted.

This bill represents a departure from so-called “fast track” laws of the past. For example, it includes greater transparency, accountability, and Congressional oversight.   …This bill also includes stronger labor and environmental standards and unlike previous so-called “fast track” legislation, this bill demands that before countries can expand their trading relationship with the U.S., they have to maintain a core set of international labor and environmental standards.  . . .

Finally, it also would make clear that trade agreements cannot by themselves change U.S. law. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has to have a say regarding how our nation’s laws are changed, and I think it’s important that any legislation related to trade agreements makes that very clear. . . .

With or without trade agreements, global competition is a reality in today’s economy. And when companies and workers need to adapt to a changing marketplace, we need to make sure that they can get the resources that they need to get back to work and keep our economy growing. That’s why I support strong Trade Adjustment Assistance. I’m also pushing for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance U.S. exports of manufactured goods and services and create jobs through direct loans, loan guarantees, working capital finance, and export credit insurance.

While I will continue to fight to improve the Hatch-Wyden TPA bill as it moves through Congress, I support these bills because I believe that, together, they have the potential to expand jobs and economic opportunities here in America while at the same time fostering the development of higher environmental, worker safety, and consumer protection standards abroad. . . .

In the attached statement, DelBene Statement on Trade Promotion Authority _ Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene states why she is voting for TPA:

The reason to pass Trade Promotion Authority is to require negotiators to develop the strongest and most progressive trade deal possible. This TPA bill is the best Congress has ever had in terms of setting high and enforceable environmental and labor standards, as well as bringing more transparency to trade negotiations.  This bipartisan bill directs the administration to meet nearly 150 congressionally mandated negotiating objectives, including standards on labor protections, the environment, human rights, congressional consultation and transparency.

I’ve talked to large and small businesses, I’ve talked to labor and I’ve talked to environmentalists. It’s my job to weigh the concerns and needs on all sides and then do what’s best for Washington’s First District, which is why I supported the TPA legislation. I didn’t come to the decision lightly – Washington is the most trade dependent state in the nation and 40 percent of our jobs depend on trade. However, I will not hesitate to vote against a trade deal if it fails to meet the needs of our region and the high standards described in this TPA.

In voting against TPA, in the attached statement, ADAM SMITH NO TPA, Congressman Adam Smith sets forth his arguments against TPA, stating in part:

“Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), as they are currently being discussed, do not do enough to protect workers and the environment at home and abroad “The biggest problem facing our economy is a vanishing middle class. Corporations are incentivized to value customers, shareholders, and executives over their workers resulting in less take home pay and benefits. This is evidenced by the bottom 90 percent of Americans owning just 23 percent of total U.S. wealth. TPA and TPP are far from the only or even largest contributors, but they provide the wrong incentives allowing corporations to grow and benefit from undervaluing workers both here and abroad. . . .

“I often hear an argument in support of TPA and TPP that if we don’t set the rules in Asia and the Pacific, China will do so. Although clearly better than China’s, our record is not stellar either. . . .

“Currency manipulation is another problem that remains unaddressed. . . .

“These concerns aside, I would be more inclined to support a trade deal if I believed that American and global corporate culture was committed to paying workers fairly and ensuring their safety in the workplace. However, skyrocketing executive pay and huge stock buybacks at the expense of worker compensation convince me that there is an insufficient commitment to preserving the middle class. . . .

“Trade agreements should create sound incentives and reinforce business cultures that value workers, as they have the ability to help spread these practices worldwide. We must do more to support the companies in the 9th District and around the country that are doing so already.

Unfortunately, Wall Street and trade deals too often reward these companies’ competitors that improve their bottom line by shortchanging their employees–many of whom are not being adequately compensated for their work.

In voting against TPA, it is my hope the Administration will take a step back and better engage on strengthening compliance with worker and environmental protections through trade agreements. . . .

In the attached statement, Congressman Denny Heck announces decision on trade promotion authority _ Con, Congressman Denny Heck sets forth his argument opposing TPA:

Trade is a vital part of Washington’s economy. There is no doubt about that. Trade does not, however, exist in a vacuum, and for any agreement to be successful, we need to think bigger picture. Investing in our infrastructure, implementing comprehensive immigration reform, and reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank are some of the priorities that are being ignored during this debate. If we want to build an economy ready to compete with the rest of the world, we need to broaden this trade effort to include a commitment to actions that will bolster our economy back home.

“Accordingly, and after a great amount of input from constituents in the 10th District, I will vote no on trade promotion authority, known as fast track. I am open to trade legislation that enhances our ability to better compete in a global economy, but this approach is piecemeal and does not do enough to advance the interests and potential of the hard-working Americans I represent. We can do better.

FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN DON BONKER’S ARTICLE ON THE TRADE DEBACLE IN THE HOUSE

On June 16, 2015, former Democratic Congressman Don Bonker described the initial trade defeat for President Obama on the TPA Bill in the House of Representatives in the China Daily:

Trade deal defeat, a form of Protectionism

By Don Bonker (China Daily)Updated: 2015-06-16 05:20

The scene in Washington, DC this week was not unlike a House of Cards episode that typically portrays high drama, political mischief and irony, involving the White House and Capitol Hill. The issue, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is key to President Obama’s Asia strategy to strengthen economic relations and provide a shield from China’s growing influence in the region.

But like the House of Cards series, it’s more about politics than the merits of the issue. Here we saw President Obama’s usual adversaries, Republican and business leaders rallying support for his trade deal while his own party and traditional allies were fiercely opposing it.

Signs of this were played out at the annual Congressional baseball game, when the President was greeted by Democrats, chanting “O-ba-ma!, O-ba-ma!” then unexpectedly Republicans responded with “TPA, TPA!” that flipped what was intended to demonstrate unity.

The following day, President Obama met with his chief ally in Congress, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who hinted that she would support the measure only to march onto the House floor and declare that “I will be voting to slow down fast-track,” a fatal setback for the president.

Most TV narratives are complex and full of suspense. Vote on June 12 in the House of Representatives was not a simple up or down vote but a bundling of related issues called TAA, TPA and TPP. One was voted down, a second narrowly passed and no action on the third. The result was a stunning defeat for President Obama, yet House Speaker John Boehner allows it will be taken up again.

Despite all the political rhetoric about saving American jobs or Obama’s weak leadership, what it comes down to is old fashion protectionism.  Protectionism is an attempt to prevent foreign imports from threatening US jobs, often by increasing tariffs and limiting market access in a variety of ways, including anti-dumping and countervailing duties even if they aren’t warranted.

Today the battleground is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact involving 12 countries that has been enduring negotiations for two years. Bilateral and multi-lateral trade pacts have always prompted strong opposition, especially from Democrats given their close ties to labor unions. It is a populist issue that resonates at the grassroot level, therefore a difficult vote for most Congressmen.

As former US Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, who presided over five bilateral trade agreements, once noted, these “trade agreements are more about politics than economics”. While his successors may put in a star performance as Chief Negotiators, they can only initial the final document since the US Constitution makes clear that Congress “regulates interstate and foreign commerce” and has the final say.

What gets lost in the debate is the greater significance of the issue, which is America’s leadership in today’s global economy. The Obama Administration earlier portrayed the TPP as a geopolitical strategy that would give the US a stronger presence in Asia and provide a protective shield for Asian countries feeling threatened by China’s enormous growth and influence in the region. Now this initiative and America’s leadership in achieving these goals, plus the mutual benefits that come with trade deals, are at risk not because of China or the lack of effective negotiations but the political forces in play on Capitol Hill.

America is also being challenged by China in today’s global economy. If Congress disapproves either the fast-track legislation or TPP, guess who will step in and become the mighty economic power in Southeast Asia? Another sign of America’s declining influence as it becomes preoccupied with the escalating conflicts and chaos in the Middle East.

Protectionism has consequences. In the 1928 presidential election, Herbert Hoover campaigned on advocating higher tariffs that set the stage for an eager Republican Congress to indulge as never before, triggering an unbridled frenzy of log-rolling — jockeying for maximum protection of commodity and industry producers leading to enactment of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that hiked import fees up to 100 percent on over twenty thousand imported products.

After President Hoover signed the monumental tariff bill, within months America’s leading trade partners – Canada, France, Mexico, Italy, in all 26 countries – retaliated causing the world trade to plummet by more than half of the pre-1929 totals, one of several factors that precipitated the Great Depression.

Today the call for protectionism is not coming from the Chamber of Commerce and business advocates but the nation’s most powerful union leaders. The Democrats, abandoning their own president, are running for cover, fearful of losing support of union leaders who have made it clear that any Congressman who dares to vote for fast track (Trade Promotion Authority) legislation that “we will cut the spigot off on future donations to your campaign”.

As in any House of Cards program, the drama continues with no certainty about the outcome. Yet failure to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnerships puts in jeopardy the next trade agreement (Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership) and the upcoming US-China Bilateral Investment Treaty, as well as undermining America’s leadership internationally.

The author is former US congressman and chaired House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Economy.

AUSTRALIA FTA WITH CHINA

On June 17, 2015, Australia and China signed a free trade agreement.  See https://www.austrade.gov.au/Export/Free-Trade-Agreements/chafta.  As Paul Ryan stated in the House, if the United States does not lead on trade, China will.

TRADE

SED TALKS

On June 23, 2015, the attached remarks, BIDEN REMARKS SED, were made by Vice President  Joe Biden and Vice Premier Liu Yandong in the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue  in Washington DC.  

Vice President Joe Biden stated in part:

And there’s an urgent need to agree on a rule-based system for rapidly evolving areas ranging from cyber space to outer space – a new set of rules. Together, collaboratively, we have an obligation –China and the United States – to shape these rules. And let me be clear: The United States believes strongly that whenever possible, China needs to be at the table as these new rules are written.  Responsible competition, adhering to these common rules – both old and new – in my view will be the essential ingredient necessary to manage areas of disagreement, and to build the long-term sustainable U.S.-China relationship.

As President Xi has said, “There’s competition in cooperation.” Yet such competition is healthy, based on mutual learning and mutual reinforcement. It’s a fundamental sense. It is conducive to our common development.  . . .

Responsible competitors help to sustain the system where research and development are rewarded, where intellectual property is protected, and the rule of law is upheld, because nations that use cyber technology as an economic weapon or profits from the theft of intellectual property are sacrificing tomorrow’s gains for short-term gains today. They diminish the innovative drive and determination of their own people when they do not reward and protect intellectual property. . . .

And let me be crystal clear . . .: We do not fear China’s rise. We want to see China rise, to continue to rise in a responsible way that will benefit you most, China, because you have an important role to play. A rising China can be a significant asset for the region and the world, and selfishly, for the United States.

China, like all nations in Asia, benefits from stability and prosperity – a stability and prosperity that, quite frankly, has been maintained over – since the end of the World War II by the United States of America for 60 years. We’re going to continue to play a role for decades to come, but don’t misunderstand it: We are a Pacific nation. 7,632 miles of our shoreline breaks on the Pacific Ocean.

We are a Pacific nation. What happens anywhere in the Pacific affects the United States as much as – more than any other portion of the world. And now we are a Pacific power, and we’re going to continue to remain a Pacific power. To respond to the changing world, the Administration has set in motion an institutionalized rebalance policy of the Asian Pacific region, not to contain but to expand all of our opportunities.

We believe this is important because the Pacific and every nation along its shore from Chile to China will form the economic engine that drives the economies of the 21st century. That’s where the action will be. As part of that rebalanced strategy, we’ve strengthened and modernized our alliances and our partnerships throughout the region. As part of that strategy, we have deepened our support for important regional institutions like ASEAN, and we’re continuing to work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which I predict we will succeed in getting done – the most progressive trade agreement in American history, and history, period. It boosts economic growth at home and abroad.

And as part of that strategy, we’re working to build more constructive and productive ties with China. But we all know this relationship is complicated and consequential, to say the least. And we all know, like a good marriage, it requires an awful lot of hard, hard work, an awful lot of attention.  . . .

There will be intense competition. We will have intense disagreements. That’s the nature of international relations. But there are important issues where we don’t see eye to eye, but it doesn’t mean we should stop working hand in hand because we don’t see eye to eye.  . . . I believe that all politics, especially international politics, is personal. It’s all personal. And – because only by building a personal relationship – that’s the only vehicle by which you can build trust.

VICE PREMIER LIU: . . .

President Xi Jinping takes this S&ED and CPE very close to his heart . . . . He believes that the new model of major country relations featuring mutual benefits, win-win cooperation, non- confrontation is the priority of China’s foreign policy. Facing complicated and volatile international situation, China and the United States should work together. They can work together in a wide range of areas. The two sides should keep the bilateral ties on the right track. As long as our two countries adopt an overall perspective, respect and accommodate each other’s core interests and be committed to a constructive approach to reduce misunderstanding and miscalculations, we can manage our differences and maintain our common interests. . . .

VICE PREMIER WANG:

Today more than 10,000 Chinese and Americans travel across the Pacific every day, and the number keeps growing at a double-digit rate. Two-way trade has exceeded U.S. $550 billion, and China has become one of the fastest-growing export markets for the United States. U.S. exports to China have helped to create nearly 1 million jobs in the U.S. Accumulated mutual investment topped U.S. $120 billion. And Chinese businesses have so far made investment in 44 states of America, with total investment reaching U.S. $46 billion and creating 80,000 jobs for America, and the numbers are still growing. . . .

Some people believe that the Thucydides trap between major countries is insurmountable. Some even want China and the United States to confront each other. In any case, decision-makers of both countries must always remember that confrontation is a negative sum game in which both sides will pay heavy prices and the world will suffer too.

Talking to each other does not create win-win all the time, but both sides will lose in a case of confrontation. Our dialogue mechanism may not be perfect, but it is an indispensable platform for the two countries to increase mutual trust, deepen cooperation, and manage differences.

History teaches us that China and the United States must not follow the old path of confrontation and conflict between major countries. Building a new model of major country relations is an effort to explore a new path towards peaceful coexistence. This path may not be smooth and the journey could be bumpy, but as a great Chinese writer said: “Originally there is no path – but as people walk down the same track and again, a path appears.” I’m convinced that we are on the right track.

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (“IMF”)— THE CHINESE YUAN IS NOT UNDERVALUED

On May 26, 2015, in the attached report, IMF CHINA CURRENCY NOT UNDERVALUED, the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) determined that China’s currency is no longer unvalued.  The IMF specifically stated:

“On the external side, China has made good progress in recent years in reducing the very large current account surplus and accumulation of foreign exchange reserves.

Nevertheless, staff projections for 2015 suggest that China’s external position is still moderately stronger than consistent with medium term fundamentals and desirable policies. There are several factors influencing a country’s external position, with the exchange rate being one of them. While undervaluation of the Renminbi was a major factor causing the large imbalances in the past, our assessment now is that the substantial real effective  appreciation over the past year has brought the exchange rate to a level that is no longer undervalued. However, the still too strong external position highlights the need for other policy reforms—which are indeed part of the authorities’ agenda—to reduce excess savings and achieve sustained external balance. This will also require that, going forward, the exchange rate adjusts with changes in fundamentals and, for example, appreciates in line with faster productivity growth in China (relative to its trading partners).

On the exchange rate system, we urge the authorities to make rapid progress toward greater exchange rate flexibility, a key requirement for a large economy like China’s that strives for market based pricing and is integrating rapidly in global financial markets.  Greater flexibility, with intervention limited to avoiding disorderly market conditions or excessive volatility, will also be key to prevent the exchange rate from moving away from equilibrium in the future. We believe that China should aim to achieve an effectively floating exchange rate within 2–3 years.

On June 10, 2015, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urged the IMF to not recognize the Chinese yuan as a global reserve currency.  They argued that the fact that Chinese hackers had gained access to the personal records of at least 4 million U.S. government workers, and months earlier that hackers in China had broken into the computer systems of two U.S. healthcare giants are:

just the latest in a litany of egregious actions, or inactions, that reflect the government’s lack of an ability to participate in an honest and transparent manner on the global stage. This behavior cannot be rewarded by the international community, but more importantly, the Chinese government cannot be trusted to uphold international market standards without demonstrated evidence of a commitment to reform.”

In addition to the cyber attacks, Schumer and Graham claim that Beijing continues to undervalue its currency and lacks the necessary regulatory protections that are necessary to:

ensure the security of global financial markets.  While we support China’s efforts to modernize its currency and agree that its efforts to be eligible for the SDR basket are in line with financial liberalization standards that prevent currency manipulation, we do not believe that China’s efforts have been substantial enough, nor do we believe that their commitment has been demonstrated in a way that can be counted on consistently, especially when market pressure for the yuan to be strengthened increases.

SOLAR CELLS—EC AGREEMENT GOES DOWN FOR THREE COMPANIES, COMMERCE ISSUED FINAL SOLAR CELLS AD AND CVD REVIEW DETERMINATIONS AND CANADA FINDS INJURY FROM DUMPED/SUBSIDIZED CHINESE SOLAR PANELS

EC ABROGATES AGREEMENT ON SOLAR CELLS FOR THREE CHINESE COMPANIES

On June 4, 2015, in the attached notice, EC WITHDRAWS UNDERTAKING GO TO DUTIES, the European Union (“EU”) announced that it was cancelling its agreement with China in the Solar Cells antidumping and countervailing duty case with regard to three Chinese exporting producers companies: Canadian Solar, ET Solar, and ReneSola.  In the notice, the EU stated:

COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU)  . . . of 4 June 2015 withdrawing the acceptance of the undertaking for three exporting producers under Implementing Decision . . . confirming the acceptance of an undertaking offered in connection with the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy proceedings concerning imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules and key components (i.e. cells) originating in or consigned from  . . . China . .  . .

Following the notification of an amended version of the price undertaking by a group of exporting producers (‘the exporting producers’) together with the CCCME, the Commission confirmed . . . (1) the acceptance of the price undertaking as amended (‘the undertaking’) for the period of application of definitive measures. The Annex to this Decision lists the exporting producers for whom the undertaking was accepted, including: (a) CSI Solar Power (China) Inc., Canadian Solar Manufacturing (Changshu) Inc., Canadian Solar Manufacturing (Luoyang) Inc., and CSI Cells Co. Ltd together with their related company in the European Union  . . .(‘Canadian Solar’); (b) ET Solar Industry Limited and ET Energy Co. Ltd together with their related companies in the European Union . . . (‘ET Solar’); and (c) Renesola Zhejiang Ltd and Renesola Jiangsu Ltd  . . .(‘ReneSola’). ….

The findings of breaches of the undertaking and its impracticability established for Canadian Solar, ET Solar, and ReneSola require the withdrawal of the acceptances of the undertaking for those three exporting producers  . . . In addition, the Commission analyzed the implications of actions by Canadian Solar, ET Solar, and ReneSola listed  . . . above on their relationships of trust established with the Commission at the acceptance of the undertaking. The Commission concluded that the combination of these actions harmed the relationship of trust with these three exporting producers. Therefore, this accumulation of breaches also justifies the withdrawal of acceptances of the undertaking for those three exporting producers . . . .

The undertaking stipulates that any breach by an individual exporting producer does not automatically lead to the withdrawal of the acceptance of the undertaking for all exporting producers.  In such a case, the Commission shall assess the impact of that particular breach on the practicability of the undertaking with the effect for all exporting producers and the CCCME.  . . . The Commission has accordingly assessed the impact of the breaches by Canadian Solar, ET Solar, and ReneSola on the practicability of the undertaking with the effect for all exporting producers and the CCCME.  . . . The responsibility for those breaches lies alone with the three exporting producers in question; the monitoring and the verifications have not revealed any systematic breaches by a major number of exporting producers or the CCCME.  . . . The Commission therefore concludes that the overall functioning of the undertaking is not affected and that there are no grounds for withdrawal of the acceptance of the undertaking for all exporting producers and the CCCME.

FINAL SOLAR CELLS REVIEW DETERMINATION BY COMMERCE

On July 7, 2015, in the attached Federal Register notices and decision memos, SOLAR CELLS FINAL DECISION MEMO SOLAR CELLS AD FINAL FED FINAL CVD FED REG SOLAR CELLS C-570-980 Final Results Notice 7-8-15 (3) Final CVD Decision Memo SOLAR CELLS 7-8-15, the Commerce Department issued final Solar Cells AD and CVD Review determinations in the May 25, 2012 to Nov 30, 2013 AD review period and the 2012 CVD Review period.  In the AD review determination, the AD rates ranged from 0.79% to 33.08% with the average separate rate being 9.67% and in the CVD review determination the CVD rates ranging from 15.43 to 23.28% and the non-reviewed companies receiving 20.94%.

CANADA FINDS INJURY IN ITS SOLAR CELLS CASE

ON July 7, 2014, in the attached statement, SOLAR CELLS CANADA, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal announced its final determination that imports of dumped and subsidized Chinese solar energy equipment exports are a threat of injury to Canadian producers.  AD and CVD orders will now be issued in Canada with AD rates ranging from 9.14 percent to 202.5 percent for the nine exporters who responded to its questionnaire and at 286.1 percent for all other Chinese exporters and an estimated subsidy amount of 84.1 percent.

TIRES FINAL DETERMINATION

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT FINAL DETERMINATION AND ITC FINAL THREAT OF MATERIAL INJURY DETERMINATION

On June 12, 2015, in the attached fact sheet, ITA FINAL FACT TIRES, and Federal Register notices, FINAL DOC FED REG CVD TIRES FINAL DOC FED REG AD TIRES, Commerce announced its affirmative final antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) determinations regarding imports of certain passenger vehicle and light truck tires from the China.  The AD rates ranged from 14.35 to 87.99% and the CVD rates from 20.73% to 100.77%.

In response to the Commerce Department final determination, on June 17, 2015 in the attached statement, MOFCOM TIRES, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) stated:

The Head of the Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce said that the Department of Commerce of the United States launched the antidumping and anti-subsidy investigation against Chinese tire products,  adopted a lot of unfair and discriminatory practice during the investigation, especially refused to give Chinese state owned enterprises the separate rates, and deliberately raised the dumping and subsidy tax rates of Chinese products. Chinese government is paying close attention to it.

On July 14, 2015, in the attached announcement, Certain Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires from China Injure U.S. Indus, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) reached an affirmative injury determination in a 3-3 tie vote in the Tires case.  The ITC reached a negative critical circumstances decision.  As a result of the ITC decision, antidumping and countervailing duty orders will be issued.

CAFC DISMISSES AN ACTIVATED CARBON APPEAL BECAUSE IMPORTER DID NOT PROTEST IN TIME

On June 26, 2015, in the attached Carbon Activated Carbon v. United States, CAFC ACTIVATED CARBON, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) dismissed an antidumping appeal by importer because of failure to file protest in time.

CAFC AFFIRMS ITC INJURY DETERMINATION IN WOODFLOORING CASE

On July 15, 2015, in Swiff-Train Co. v. United States, in the attached decision, the CAFC affirmed the US International Trade Commission’s injury decision in the Wood Flooring from China antidumping and countervailing duty case.

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT FINAL CVD AND AD REVIEW DETERMINATION IN WOOD FLOORING CASE

On July 6, 2015, in the attached final determination, CVD FINAL WOODFLOORING, Commerce announced a CVD rate of only 0.99% in the 2012 Countervailing Duty review investigation on Multilayered Wood Flooring From China.

On July 8, 2015, in the attached final determination, WOODFLOORING AD FED REG, Commerce  announced its final AD rate of 0 to 58.84, with the separate rate companies receiving 13.74% for the administrative review period December 1, 2012 to November 30, 2013.

FIRST STEEL TRADE CASE FILED

As mentioned in prior newsletters, Steel Trade cases are coming, and on June 3, 2015 the first Steel Antidumping and Countervailing Duty case was filed against Corrosion-Resistant (Galvanized) Steel Products from China, India, Italy, Korea and Taiwan.  The details of the filing are set forth below in the ITC Filing notice:

Docket Number DN 3069

Received: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Commodity: Certain Corrosion-Resistant Steel Products from China, India, Italy, Korea and Taiwan

Investigation Number: 701-TA-534-538 and 731-TA-1274-1278

Filed By: Alan H. Price, Jeffrey D. Gerrish, Robert B. Schagrin, Paul C. Rosenthal and Joseph W. Dorn Firm/Organization: Wiley Rein LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Schagrin Associates; Kelley Drye & Warren LLP and King & Spalding LLP

Behalf Of: United States Steel Corporation, Nucor Corporation, Steel Dynamics Inc., California Steel Industries, ArcelorMittal USA LLC and AK Steel Corporation

Country: China, Korea, India, Italy, and Taiwan

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting the Commission to conduct an investigation under sections 701 and 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the imposition of countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Certain Corrosion-Resistant Steel Products from China, India, Italy Korea and Taiwan.

NEW ANTIDUMPING CASE HYDROFLUROCARBONS FROM CHINA

On June 25th, a new antidumping petition was filed against hydrofluorocarbon blends from China.  The alleged antidumping rate is more than 200%.  See ITC Notice below:

Docket Number 3073

Received: Thursday, June 25, 2015

Commodity:  Hydrofluorocarbon Blends

Investigation Number: 731-TA-1279

Filed By: James R. Cannon, Jr.

Firm/Organization: Cassidy Levy Kent (USA) LLP

Behalf Of: The American HFC Coalition

Country: China

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting the Commission to conduct an investigation under section 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the Imposition of Antidumping Duties on Imports of Hydrofluorocarbon Blends and Components Thereof from the People’s Republic of China.

JULY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On July 1, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, REQUEST REVIEW JULY, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of July. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Carbon Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings, Certain Potassium Phosphate Salts, Certain Steel Grating, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, Persulfates, and Xanthan Gum.  The specific countervailing duty cases are: Certain Potassium Phosphate Salts, Certain Steel Grating, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, and Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand.

For those US import companies that imported Carbon Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings, Potassium Phosphate Salts, Steel Grating, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, Persulfates, and Xanthan Gum and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period July 1, 2014-June 30, 2015 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE (“TAA”) FOR COMPANIES

A major part of the battle for Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was the merits of Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”). Many Republican Senators and Representatives oppose TAA. On the Senate Floor, Senate Finance Committee (“SFC”) Chairman Orrin Hatch stated that he was “generally opposed” to TAA, but realized that his Democratic colleagues, led by SFC Ranking member Senator Ron Wyden, needed TAA to support TPA.

In the House, however, many Republican Representatives opposed TAA because they see TAA as an entitlement. But in talking to Republican staff in the House, it soon becomes apparent that many Representatives do not understand that there are two TAA programs. The first TAA program is TAA for Workers (“TAAW”), which is a $450 million job retraining program for workers that have been displaced by international trade. That is the program, Democratic Senators and Representatives need to support, to help the Unions, their constituents.

The second TAA program, however, is TAA for Companies (also called TAA for Firms or TAAF).  In the Bill signed by the President into law  TAA for Companies is set at only $15 million.  TAA for Companies targets small and medium size business (SMEs) and helps them adjust to import competition. The irony is that SMEs are the Republican sweet spot. These companies are Republican constituents.

What are the Republican arguments against TAA for Companies? The first argument is that the program does not work. To the contrary, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”), which I have been working with, has an 80% survival rate since 1984. In other words, NWTAAC has saved 80% of the companies that got into the program since 1984..

The transformative power of TAA for Companies is illustrated by this video from the Mid-Atlantic TAA Center with statements from four small business owners on how TAA For Companies has saved their business– http://mataac.org/media. See also the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCef23LqDVs&feature=youtu.be&a.  In that video, the director of MATAAC directly asks whether US companies are ready to give up on international trade victimhood.

If you save the company, you save the jobs that go with the company and all the tax revenue paid into the Federal, State and Local governments. This is the Transformative Power of TAA for Companies. TAA for Companies does not cost the government money. It makes money for the government.

In fact, I truly believe that President Ronald Reagan himself endorsed the TAA for Companies program. Why? Jim Munn. I started working with NWTAAC because Ronald Reagan himself asked Jim Munn to look into the program in the early 80’s. Who was Jim Munn? He was a Republican organizer, a criminal lawyer in Seattle who won every case that he handled, and yes a personal friend of Ronald Reagan.

What did Jim Munn find out when he investigated the program? Lo and behold the program works. Companies are saved, and Jim Munn stayed around as the NWTAAC board chairman for 22 years.

TAA for Companies will be a very important program that Congress can use to help their constituent businesses that will be hurt in the future by trade agreements. The Trans Pacific Partnership will create many winners, such as agriculture, but losers too, and those losing companies will need help adjusting to the trade tsunami of imports created by the TPP.

The other Republican argument against TAAF is that this program is another Solyndra and picks winners and losers. Nothing could be further from the truth. First, TAA for Companies does not provide money directly to companies. TAA provides matching funds to consultants to work with companies to help them create and implement strategic plans to compete effectively in a trade intensive environment.

Second, there is no picking winners and losers. Companies have to meet certain statutory criteria (including a decline in business). Company plans are then vetted by business experts at regional TAAF centers, which helps create a business recovery or adjustment plan. TAAF then provides a matching fund for outside expertise to help implement that adjustment plan. When companies are helped at the local level with an adjustment plan created specifically for that company, even companies facing severe import competition can survive and can prosper.

The only limitation on TAA for Companies is the low level of financial support in the Congress. Many companies wait for long periods of time to get into the program because there simply is no funding. In five states in the Pacific Northwest, for example, only about 10 companies begin the program each year, which is only a small fraction of the companies facing strong import competition.

Another argument made by Senator Hatch’s Legislative staff is that TAAF is duplicative of other Federal business programs. That again is not true. Helping companies that have been injured by imports is an entirely different objective from other business programs.

In the first place, Trade injured companies must change their business significantly to adapt to the new intensive trade environment in order to survive and grow. While there are other programs that offer business planning help, such as SBDC, they generally focus on very small business (often retail or services). TAAF specializes in helping larger trade injured companies, often manufacturers (as well as agricultural and some services companies).

Whereas other programs offer a fixed set of services or specific solutions (e.g. manufacturing technology or lean practices), a one size fits all, from a narrow pool of consultants, TAAF offers a highly flexible solution linking a consultant to a company to solve its specific import problem. Often the consultant hired by TAAF is one that the company already knows but simply does not have the resources to hire.

Today’s SMEs are lean operations, which rely on a network of project based specialists to keep them competitive. TAAF’s strength is the flexibility of linking a specific service provider with a specific skill, matched to the individual needs of the company facing immediate threat from import competition. TAAF does not compete with the private consulting industry, but facilitates access to it. This is the power of the market working to cure the disease and is perfectly in line with Republican principles.

The Transformative Power of TAA for Companies is illustrated by companies in Senator Hatch’s Utah saved by the program. Today there are 19 Utah companies active in TAAF, including a medical device, a precision metals, a furniture and an aluminum extrusions manufacturer. Because of TAAF, these 19 companies with a total of more $2 billion in sales have retained 1000s of high paid manufacturing jobs and added 1000s more jobs. Total cost to the US tax payer for these 19 companies – $1.2 million over a five year period. But saving those 19 companies and the jobs associated with them has resulted in substantial tax revenue at the Federal, state and local level. What TAAF has done in Utah, it has also done throughout the United States.

In addition to TAA for Companies, there are a number of other amendments to the trade laws going through the US Congress with TPA, including changes to the US antidumping law to make it easier to bring trade cases. As stated in past newsletters and as Ronald Reagan predicted in the attached 1986 speech, the problem with antidumping and countervailing duty cases is that they do not work. The Steel Industry has had protection from steel imports under US antidumping and countervailing duty laws for 40 years. Have the cases worked? Is the US Steel Industry prospering today?

All US antidumping and other trade cases can do is slow the decline in an industry. The only program that cures the disease is the TAA for Companies program and with the trade tsunami created by the TPP, this program will be needed to teach companies how to swim in the new competitive environment. That is why this program should be supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the upcoming votes in Congress. TAAF is better targeted and more effective than any other trade remedy available today.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

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

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

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

See the Import Alliance website at http://www.importallianceforamerica.com.

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

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

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

On May 21, 2015, the Commerce Department filed changes to the export rules to allow unlicensed delivery of Internet technology to Crimea region of Ukraine, saying the change will allow the Crimean people to reclaim the narrative of daily life from their Russian occupants. Under a final rule, which will be attached to my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, individuals and companies may deliver source code and technology for “instant messaging, chat and email, social networking” and other programs to the region without first retaining a license from the federal government, according to Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

Commerce stated:

“Facilitating such Internet-based communication with the people located in the Crimea region of Ukraine is in the United States’ national security and foreign policy interests because it helps the people of the Crimea region of Ukraine communicate with the outside world.”

On September 3, 2014, I spoke in Vancouver Canada on the US Sanctions against Russia, which are substantial, at an event sponsored by Deloitte Tax Law and the Canadian, Eurasian and Russian Business Association (“CERBA”). Attached to my blog are copies of the PowerPoint or the speech and a description of our Russian/Ukrainian/Latvian Trade Practice for US importers and exporters. In addition, the blog describes the various sanctions in effect against Russia.

Pursuant to the OFAC regulations, U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting transactions, dealings, or business with Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDNs). The blocked persons list can be found at http://sdnsearch.ofac.treas.gov/. See also: www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/programs/pages/ukraine.aspx . The list includes the Russian company, United Shipbuilding, and a number of Russian Banks, including Bank Rossiya, SMP Bank, Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank OAO, Russian Agricultural Bank, VEB, and VTB Bank. The “Sectoral Sanctions Identification List” (the “SSI List”) that identifies specific Russian persons and entities covered by these sectoral sanctions can be found at www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/pages/ssi_list.aspx.

The sanctions will eventually increase more with the Congressional passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which is attached to my blog, which President Obama signed into law on December 19, 2014.  Although the law provides for additional sanctions if warranted, at the time of the signing, the White House stated:

“At this time, the Administration does not intend to impose sanctions under this law, but the Act gives the Administration additional authorities that could be utilized, if circumstances warranted.”

The law provides additional military and economic assistance to Ukraine. According to the White House, instead of pursuing further sanctions under the law, the administration plans to continue collaborating with its allies to respond to developments in Ukraine and adjust its sanctions based on Russia’s actions. Apparently the Administration wants its sanctions to parallel those of the EU. As President Obama stated:

“We again call on Russia to end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, cease support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, and implement the obligations it signed up to under the Minsk agreements.”

Russia, however responded in defiance with President Putin blasting the sanctions and a December 20th Russian ministry statement spoke of possible retaliation.

One day after signing this bill into law, the President issued an Executive Order “Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions with Respect to the Crimea Region of Ukraine” (the “Crimea-related Executive Order”). President Obama described the new sanctions in a letter issued by the White House as blocking:

New investments by U.S. persons in the Crimea region of Ukraine

Importation of goods, services, or technology into the United States from the Crimea region of Ukraine

Exportation, re-exportation, sale, or supply of goods, services, or technology from the United States or by a U.S. person to the Crimea region of Ukraine

The facilitation of any such transactions.

The Crimea-related Executive Order also contains a complicated asset-blocking feature. Pursuant to this order, property and interests in property of any person may be blocked if determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, that the person is operating in Crimea or involved in other activity in Crimea.

The EU has also issued sanctions prohibiting imports of goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol, and providing financing or financial assistance, as well as insurance and reinsurance related to the import of such goods. In addition, the EU is blocking all foreign investment in Crimea or Sevastopol.

Thus any US, Canadian or EU party involved in commercial dealings with parties in Crimea or Sevastopol must undertake substantial due diligence to make sure that no regulations in the US or EU are being violated.

CUSTOMS

CUSTOMS CRACKS DOWN ON CHINESE HONG KONG SMUGGLING RING

On July 7, 2015, US Customs and Border Protection announced that four persons have been indicted for criminal violations in smuggling thousands of counterfeit Sony Corp. and Apple Inc. products, including iPhones and iPads, into the U.S. from China.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated that Andreina Beccerra of Venezuela, Roberto Volpe of Italy, Jianhua Li of China and Rosario La Marca, also of Italy, stand accused of a nearly five-year conspiracy to smuggle more than 40,000 phony electronic gadgets past U.S. customs officials, with most of the devices marked with false Apple and Sony trademarks. Most of the counterfeit products were made by Hong Kong-based Dream Digitals Technology (HK) Co. Ltd., where Li served as a sales manager.

CUSTOMS AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT BILL

There are significant changes to Customs law in the Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill, formerly The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (“TFTEA”),  which passed the Senate on May 11, 2015 and the House and have now gone to Conference Committee to smooth out differences between the Senate and House bills.  Some of those provisions include tough enforcement provisions for evasion of US antidumping and countervailing duty laws.

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

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER MAY 18, 2015 UPDATE

Dear Friends,

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

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

Best regards,

Bill

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

STEEL TRADE CASES ARE COMING

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

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

The announcement for the hearing described it as follows:

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

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

Mario Longhi of US Steel stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 19, 2015

SPEECH IN NANJING CHINA ON MARCH 9, 2015

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

FEBRUARY NEWSLETTER

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

TRADE

SPEECH

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

OFFICE PAPER FROM CHINA

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

TIRES

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

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

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

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

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

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

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

WOOD FLOORING FROM CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the Court stated:

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

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

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

BOLTLESS STEEL SHELVING

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

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

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

SOLAR PRODUCTS CASE—ITC AFFIRMATIVE INJURY DETERMINATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

FEBRUARY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

MAGNESIUM

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNITED STATES RESPONDS WITH OWN WTO SUBSIDIES CASE AGAINST CHINA

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

TRADE POLITICS AND TRADE AGREEMENTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the story continues . . . .

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

As McConnell stated,

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

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

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

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

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

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

The USTR stated,

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

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

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

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

As the letter stated,

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

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

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

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

But Senator Hatch went on to state:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Building on Record Breaking U.S. Exports

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

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

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

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

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

Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) . . . .

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

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

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

Manufacturing

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

Innovation, Intellectual Property, and the Digital Economy

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

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

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

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

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

WTO Enforcement

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

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

Enforcement of U.S. Free Trade Agreements

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

<Deepening our Trade and Investment Partnerships Around the World

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

China

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

Trade Promotion Authority (TPA)

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

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

Promoting Increased Engagement and Transparency in Negotiations

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

As Congressman Doggett stated,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WAYS AND MEANS JANUARY 29, 2015 . . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As Secretary Lew stated,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Times goes on to state:

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

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

As the Times Article further states, although the Administration and the pro-trade Coalition stated that the have the numbers to pass trade promotion authority:

they have work to do. About 150 of the House’s 188 Democrats have already signed on to letters opposing fast track, an ominous figure for the president, since Mr. Boehner said last Congress he would need as many as 50 Democratic votes.

In 2013, 22 House Republicans signed on to their own opposition letter, of which 17 remain in Congress.

On February 12, 2015 the House Ways and Means Committee issued the following e-mail release on Currency Manipulation opposing the implementation of a bill to unilaterally hit countries on Currency Manipulation:

FEBRUARY 12, 2015

Currency Manipulation: Finding the Right Solution

There is great unease today about currency manipulation abroad—and rightfully so. Some countries—particularly China—have distorted exchange rates to gain an advantage in the world market, hurting American exports by making their goods cheaper and ours more expensive.

It’s a legitimate problem that deserves a real response. The United States holds the world’s reserve currency. We have a unique ability to pressure countries to stop the manipulation, and we must do more. That’s why Trade Promotion Authority legislation (TPA) raises fighting manipulation to a primary negotiating objective and provides the administration more tools to tackle the practice.

At the same time, some in Congress have called for a more confrontational approach.

Opposed by the administration and many in Congress, including Chairman Ryan, this counterproductive tactic would trigger higher tariffs on any country believed to be manipulating its currency, either through unilateral U.S. action or through a mechanism in trade agreements. While possibly appealing on its face, this approach presents significant problems. It could:

Lead to a tariff war that will increase barriers to trade and cost jobs;

If the United States begins unilaterally levying tariffs, our trading partners will no doubt do the same, leading to a dangerous cycle that would undermine the very purpose of trade agreements—to break down barriers—and, more importantly, hurt American competitiveness and jobs.

Capture the wrong culprit and put the U.S. at risk of manipulation charges;

There is no clear definition of currency manipulation or simple calculation for it, and trying to legislate such a complex matter poses the risk of triggering a trade war in response to innocent currency movements. At the same time, it would not be difficult for other nations to assert the U.S.’s monetary policy is intended to tilt the playing field.

<Risk putting the U.S. in violation of international obligations and out of WTO

compliance;

Pursuing a unilateral approach would likely cause the United States to be a target for retaliation by countries like China, harming our businesses and their employees.

Make the U.S. vulnerable to lawsuits and jeopardize our ability to set our own

monetary policy;

Even pursuing provisions in trade agreements that would allow us to increase tariffs on manipulators would expose us to litigation, whether justified or not, when countries challenge our monetary policy. And even if the United States ultimately prevails, litigation would distract from broader efforts to address currency manipulation and shield real currency manipulators.

Threaten the U.S. dollar’s standing as the world’s leading currency;

The United States has become the holder of the world’s reserve currency not by accident or by any law, but rather through strength and steadiness. And the status provides the U.S. immeasurable benefits. Maintaining stability and pursuing currency grievances through multinational forums are critical to protecting this valued position we hold in the world.

Derail the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and its potential benefits to the U.S.;

Creating mechanisms to increase tariffs through trade agreements because of currency policy would no doubt cause nations with which we are currently negotiating a significant trade agreement to rethink whether the United States is a viable trading partner, causing them to pull out of these negotiations. Missing out on a good TPP agreement would be a critical blow to America’s credibility and an enormous missed opportunity to create good jobs.

And, for all the downside, it probably wouldn’t work.

With all the damage such an approach would do to the United States and our standing in the world, it provides no real incentive for bad actors to change behavior. What’s more, monetary and domestic fiscal policy have much greater impact on the value of a currency than would the type of market interventions targeted by this proposal.

So what is the right solution?

For starters, let’s put in place multinational rules that have proven to yield results. The G-7, G-20, and IMF efforts have had success in limiting attempts to manipulate currency and in some cases outright stopped market interventions. For example, as a result of commitments taken by the G-7, Japan has not intervened in foreign currency markets in an effort to lower the value of the yen in the last three years.

But we can—and must—do more. That’s why TPA legislation would make fighting currency manipulation a primary negotiating objective for all trade agreements. In addition, TPA provides the administration with tools such as “cooperative mechanisms, enforceable rules, reporting, monitoring, transparency, or other means, as appropriate” to address currency manipulation. It is incumbent upon the administration to continue pursuing efforts to rein in the practice, and Congress must continue to press for better results.

Finally, another important step we can take is put in place more trade agreements. A more interconnected global marketplace will have even less tolerance for manipulation. And as Chairman Ryan has said, “If we don’t write the rules of the global economy, somebody else will—somebody who may not have our best interests at heart. And if we don’t like the way the global economy works, then we have to get out there and change it.”

That’s why enacting trade legislation like TPA with a thoughtful approach toward currency manipulation is so critical. Currency manipulation is a legitimate threat, but our response must be one that advances, rather than undermines, our trade agenda and our economy.

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSITANCE PROGRAM—REAUTHORIZATION

As stated in my last blog posts, I have made the case for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Firms/Companies, which is presently funded at $16 million nationwide.

At the end of 2014, because of the efforts of Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressmen Adam Smith, Derek Kilmer and Sander Levin in the House, the TAA for Firms/Companies program was reauthorized in the Cromnibus Bill, which went through the Senate and the House and was signed into law by President Obama. Although Senator Brown advocated that the assistance for US companies in the TAA for Firms program be increased to $50 million, in fact, the program was cut from 16 million to $12.5M.

Recently we have learned although President Obama preaches a good game, the Commerce Department has proposed reducing trade adjustment assistance for companies to $10 million. This very small amount is to help all companies nation- wide hurt by imports?? Yet, if we can save the companies, we save the jobs that go with those companies

According to the Commerce Department’s Economic Development Agency’s 4th annual report, 882 trade-impacted firms have received assistance through TAA for Firms (TAAF) in 2013. These firms employed over 76,000 workers at the time of their entry into TAAF and at least one firm was located in 48 of the 50 states throughout the country.

As Democratic Congressmen stated in a December 8, 2014 letter to Speaker Boehner and Minority leader Nancy Pelosi:

TAAF is another critical component of this program that effectively assists U.S. companies impacted by imports remain competitive. TAAF offers a matching fund for outside expertise to help companies adjust their business models allowing them to regain their competitive advantage in the marketplace. The program makes it possible for companies to avoid layoffs, or, where layoffs have occurred, to rehire workers as the companies regain their competitive footholds. In the most recent report by the Department of Commerce on T AAF, it is reported that all the U.S. companies that were beneficiaries in 2011 were still in business in 2013.

TAA is a critical part of our nation’s competitiveness strategy in the face of a rapidly evolving world economy and its reauthorization enjoys bipartisan support. Congressional leadership and action to reauthorize TAA is needed to stop the termination of an effective program that helps American workers and firms compete, innovate, strengthen, and diversify America’s economy. We must do all we can to save jobs by helping firms readjust and workers regain their edge and competitiveness in the global marketplace.”

As the TPP, TTIP and other trade agreements come into force changing the US market by government action with the force of a government tsunami, TAA for firms/companies is the only program that will give companies the tools they need to adjust to increased trade/import competition from so many different countries.

US APPROVES TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT

In addition to Hong Kong, on January 23, 2015 the US government officially ratified the WTO trade facilitation agreement. The TFA is expected to cut Customs red tape at ports around the World. Experts have estimated that the TFA could add billions to the World economy.

CHINA ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST US

On January 28, 2015, the Chinese government reported that it has three outstanding antidumping and countervailing duty orders against the United States: Grain Oriented Flat-rolled Electrical Steel, Broiler (Chicken) Products; and Solar-grade Polysilicon.

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

On September 3, 2014, I spoke in Vancouver Canada on the US Sanctions against Russia, which are substantial, at an event sponsored by Deloitte Tax Law and the Canadian, Eurasian and Russian Business Association (“CERBA”). Attached to my blog are copies of the powerpoint or the speech and a description of our Russian/Ukrainian/Latvian Trade Practice for US importers and exporters. In addition, the blog describes the various sanctions in effect against Russia.

Pursuant to the OFAC regulations, U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting transactions, dealings, or business with Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDNs). The blocked persons list can be found at http://sdnsearch.ofac.treas.gov/. See also: www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/programs/pages/ukraine.aspx . The list includes the Russian company, United Shipbuilding, and a number of Russian Banks, including Bank Rossiya, SMP Bank, Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank OAO, Russian Agricultural Bank, VEB, and VTB Bank. The “Sectoral Sanctions Identification List” (the “SSI List”) that identifies specific Russian persons and entities covered by these sectoral sanctions can be found at www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/pages/ssi_list.aspx.

The sanctions will eventually increase more with the Congressional passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which is attached to my blog, which President Obama signed into law on December 19, 2014. Although the law provides for additional sanctions if warranted, at the time of the signing, the White House stated:

“At this time, the Administration does not intend to impose sanctions under this law, but the Act gives the Administration additional authorities that could be utilized, if circumstances warranted.”

The law provides additional military and economic assistance to Ukraine. According to the White House, instead of pursuing further sanctions under the law, the administration plans to continue collaborating with its allies to respond to developments in Ukraine and adjust its sanctions based on Russia’s actions. Apparently the Administration wants its sanctions to parallel those of the EU. As President Obama stated:

“We again call on Russia to end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, cease support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, and implement the obligations it signed up to under the Minsk agreements.”

Russia, however responded in defiance with President Putin blasting the sanctions and a December 20th Russian ministry statement spoke of possible retaliation.

One day after signing this bill into law, the President issued an Executive Order “Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions with Respect to the Crimea Region of Ukraine” (the “Crimea-related Executive Order”). President Obama described the new sanctions in a letter issued by the White House as blocking:

New investments by U.S. persons in the Crimea region of Ukraine

Importation of goods, services, or technology into the United States from the Crimea region of Ukraine

Exportation, re-exportation, sale, or supply of goods, services, or technology from the United States or by a U.S. person to the Crimea region of Ukraine

The facilitation of any such transactions.

The Crimea-related Executive Order also contains a complicated asset-blocking feature. Pursuant to this order, property and interests in property of any person may be blocked if determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, that the person is operating in Crimea or involved in other activity in Crimea.

The EU has also issued sanctions prohibiting imports of goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol, and providing financing or financial assistance, as well as insurance and reinsurance related to the import of such goods. In addition, the EU is blocking all foreign investment in Crimea or Sevastopol.

Thus any US, Canadian or EU party involved in commercial dealings with parties in Crimea or Sevastopol must undertake substantial due diligence to make sure that no regulations in the US or EU are being violated.

On December 22, 2014, Russian oil giant Rosneft NK OAO on Monday dropped its bid to buy Morgan Stanley’s oil-trading and storage business, citing an “objective impossibility” of gaining regulatory clearance amid tense international relations in the wake of ongoing sanctions against Moscow.

On January 26th, Adam Szubin, the director of the Office of Foreign Assets Control, a top US Treasury official, stated that more targeted sanctions could be coming against Russia as the violence in eastern Ukraine escalates.

On February 9th, Chancellor Merkel met with President Obama and the decision was to leave the sanctions in place. On February 11th, Germany, France, Ukraine and Russia are expected to have talks in Belarus in an attempt to establish a peace agreement in the Ukraine.

MADE IN USA—NORDTROM AND LAND’S END BOTH HAVE PROBLEMS

On January 27, 2015, a California Federal Judge denied Nordstrom’s motion for an interlocutory review of a proposed class action accusing them of falsely marketing jeans as “made in the USA.” California has a much stricter “Made in USA” law than the Federal FTC law or any law in the rest of the United States.

On the same day, Land’s End moved to end a proposed class action case in California alleging that the clothing retailer inflated prices on its clothes by labeling foreign-made apparel as produced in the USA.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

SUPREMA ORAL ARGUMENT

On February 5, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit held an oral argument in the Suprema case to determine whether section 337 can be used to bar imports that induce patent infringement. It was reported that the CAFC judges appear split on whether “articles of infringement” in section 337 refers only to the imported items themselves, and not how they will be used upon sale in the U.S.

Plaintiff argued that Articles of infringement mean only imports that infringe the patent at the time of entry into the US and the imports did not infringe the patent at time of entry.

The ITC lawyer argued that the Commission must analyze the patent as a whole in determining which items infringe. The ITC lawyer stated;

“The invention is the process.” Isolating the items from their ultimate use is “not how [patent cases] are adjudicated.”

NEW 337 CASE AGAINST CHINA

On February 9, 2015, a new 337 complaint was filed by Andreas Electronics Corp on Audio Processing Hardware and Software and Products against Acer Inc., Taiwan; Acer America Corp., San Jose, CA; ASUSTEK Computer Inc., Taiwan; ASUS Computer International, Fremont, CA; Dell Inc., Round Rock, TX; Hewlett Packard Co., Palo Alto, CA; Lenovo Group Ltd., China; Lenovo Holding Co., Inc., Morrisville, NC; Lenovo (United States) Inc., Morrisville, NC; Toshiba Corp., Japan; Toshiba America Inc., New York, NY; Toshiba America Information Systems Inc., Irvine, CA; and Realtek Semiconductor Corp..

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

On January 13, 2015 Azure Networks Inc. filed a patent case against ZTE Corporation and ZTE (USA) Inc. AZURE ZTE COMPLAINT

On January 21, 2015, Music City Metals Co. filed a trademark case against Xiao Jin Hua, Hou Huanqing, King Shin International, King Jing LLC, King Shin International Co., Ltd. KZNG SHZN International Co., Ltd. and BBQ Parts Ltd.MUSIC CITY COMPLAINT Complaint 3-15cv67

On January 27, 2015, Robertshaw Controls Company filed a trademark unfair competition case against Ningbo Ranco Machinery & Equipment Co., Ltd.NINGBO TRADEMARK CASE

On January 28, 2015, Spy Optic Inc. filed a trademark, unfair competition case, against Alibaba.com, Albaba.com Hong Kong Ltd., Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.,ALIBABA TRADEMARK CASE

On January 30, 2015, Consolidated Work Station Computing LLC filed a patent case against Huawei Technologies USA, Inc. and Huawei Device USA Inc. CONSOLIDATED HUAWEI

On February 3, 2015, Thingcharger Inc. and P3 International Corp. filed a patent case against Viatek Consumer Products Group, Inc., Viatek International LLC, Foshan Um Electronics Co., Ltd. Foshum complaint

On February 4, 2015 Paxton Sales, Inc. filed a copyright and unfair competition case against Vogue Furniture Direct Inc., Guozhi Qiao, and Zhejiang Chairmeng Furniture Co., Ltd. PAXTON FURNITURE COPYRIGHT COMPLAINT

On February 6, 2015, Avionqs LLC filed a patent case against Air China Cargo Company. CHINA CARGO PATENT CASE

On February 9, 2015, United States Pumice Company filed a trade secrets unfair competition case against Seung Joon Lee and Yiwe Xianxue Company Ltd. dba Ipumice.comPUMICE CHINA CASE

On February 12, 2015, Toyo Tire and Rubber Co and Toyo Tire USA Corp. filed an unfair competition, trade dress case against CIA Wheel Group, Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre Co., Tire Industrial Co., Ltd. and Double Star Group Corp.  QINGDAO TYRE CASE

On February 13, 2015, eDigital Corp filed a patent case against Shenzhen Gospell Smartphone Electron Co., dba Ocea Camera, Ividem Ltd., New Sight Devices Corp. SHENZHEN CASE

CHINESE INVESTMENT AND PRODUCTION IN UNITED STATES—FOREIGN INVESTMENT FILING REQUIREMENTS

On December 4, 2014, Mellissa Krasnow, a Dorsey attorney, published the following article about the filing requirement for Foreign Investments in the United States:

The U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis recently launched the BE-13, Survey of New Foreign Direct Investment in the United States. See http://www.dorsey.com/eu-be-13-new-foreigndirect- investment-in-us/. There are civil penalties, injunctive relief and criminal penalties for failing to file BE-13 when required, so whether BE-13 needs to be filed must be determined and the obligation to file must be complied with. Questions for companies to ask regarding acquisitions completed since January 1, 2014 (data is being collected retroactively back to January 1, 2014) and going forward include:

  1. Has your company made foreign investment filings with the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis?
  2. Has your company been contacted by the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis in 2014?
  3. Is the total cost of the transaction greater than US$3 million and:

Did a foreign entity or an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign entity acquire a voting interest in a U.S. enterprise, segment or operating unit? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13A at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13a-fillable.pdf;

also consider the requirements for BE-13C at Https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13c-fillable.pdf.

Did a foreign entity or an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign entity establish a new legal entity in the United States? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13B at

https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13b-fillable.pdf.

Did an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign parent acquire a U.S. business enterprise or segment that it then merge into its operations? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13C at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13cfillable.pdf.

Did an existing U.S. affiliate of a foreign parent expand its operations to include a new facility where business is conducted? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13D at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13dfillable.pdf.

Does the U.S. business enterprise not meet all of the above requirements? If yes, consider the requirements for BE-13 Claim for Exemption at https://www.bea.gov/surveys/pdf/be13/be13-claimfillable.pdf.

These filings are due within 45 days after the acquisition is completed, the new legal entity is established, or the expansion is begun.

US LITIGATION ORDERING FOREIGN COMPANIES TO BREAK ATTORNEY CLIENT WORK PRODUCT

Dorsey lawyers for the Bank of China are attempting to overturn a US judge’s order to release materials to plaintiff collected during the Bank of China’s internal investigation. Dorsey lawyers for the Bank are arguing that the documents were prepared under the direction of outside counsel in anticipation of potential litigation and should not be released to the Plaintiffs because of attorney-client privilege.

The Federal Judge faulted the Bank for failing to provide information as to when it began communicating with its original outside attorney at Preston, Gates about the matter, and that it failed to state the dates and nature of his involvement, including whether he “directed or claims to have directed any aspect of the investigation”.

In the objection to the order, Bank of China’s lawyer Lanier Saperstein at Dorsey & Whitney said that “Judge Gorenstein has effectively created new rules for establishing work-product protection and attorney-client privilege,” adding that the new rules would prevent a business like Bank of China “from communicating with an attorney for the purpose of obtaining legal advice unless the attorney first directs the client to do so.” Saperstein argued that Judge Gorenstein’s order is contrary to a Second Circuit ruling in United States v Adlman where the court established that work-product protection applies if “the documents can fairly be said to have been prepared or obtained because of the prospect of litigation”.

Saperstein also rejected the assertion that only communications made at the request of the attorney apply for attorney-client privilege. Limiting privilege “to only those communications made at the direction of the attorney would lead to perverse results,” Saperstein said, adding: “Under this requirement, a client who describes his situation to an attorney before asking for advice would receive no protection.”

Saperstein further stated: “I’m particularly thrown by the theme that runs through the decision, which is that you need to establish the counterfactual world, and show what you would have done had the facts been different.”

He said the decision places a very high burden on companies, stating:

“I’ve never submitted an Upjohn declaration stating what we would have done had we not anticipated litigation. [I’m] not entirely sure how one does that, because it moves away from the factual situation to a hypothetical one. How would one attest to what you would have done in a different scenario?”

ANTITRUST

There have been major developments in the antitrust area both in the United States and in China.

VITAMIN C ORAL ARGUMENT

On January 29, 2015, oral argument was held in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals in the Vitamin C Antitrust Case against Chinese companies. In that appeal, two Chinese companies Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co. Ltd. and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp., along with China’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) are trying to reverse a $153 million dollar award against the two Chinese companies from a Brooklyn, New York in an antitrust class action over price-fixing of vitamin C exports to the US from China. During the argument, MOFCOM’s counsel argued that the proceedings are seen “as an affront to the Chinese government,” especially the notion that China tried to tweak its laws after the fact.

But William Isaacson of Boies, Schiller, the Plaintiff’s lawyer argued that Chinese law, or its possible evolution, was not before the jury and urged the panel to respect the vigorously litigated proceeding and voluminous record below, stating:

“It shows no disrespect to a government to disagree with them. The good people of Brooklyn were not asked to decide what Chinese law says,” only to decide whether the government made the companies fix their prices. “If there’s no actual compulsion, there’s no comity issue.”

Augustine Lo, a Dorsey Trade and Corporate lawyer, attended the oral argument and reported as follows:

The Second Circuit oral argument in the Vitamin C antitrust case was interesting. Counsel for the two Chinese companies who went to trial (Wilson Sonsini), counsel for MOFCOM (Carter Phillips of Sidley Austin LLP), and counsel for plaintiffs (Boies Schiller) presented their arguments. The panel consisted of Chief Judge Cabranes, Judge Hall, and Judge Wesley.

As you may recall, Federal District Court Judge Cogan of Eastern District New York (same judge as Arab Bank trial) ruled that MOFCOM’s statement in support of the Chinese companies was insufficient to prove that the PRC government compelled the antitrust violation at issue. In effect, the Federal District Court Judge decided that plaintiffs’ explanation of Chinese law and ambiguous translations of witness statements concerning the lack of strict enforcement were more authoritative than MOFCOM’s statement. MOFCOM was furious.

Defendants-Appellants’ counsel focused his argument on the comity issue – that the District Judge failed to defer to the MOFCOM statement and failed to acknowledge the international relations conflict between price fixing authorized by Chinese law and prohibition of the same conduct under U.S. antitrust law. Plaintiffs-Appellees’ counsel explained that the District Judge properly excluded the Chinese regulation from the jury because the interpretation of the regulation was a question of law that the judge previously settled under Rule 44.1. Plaintiffs contend that the jury was able to decide there was no compulsion based on the record evidence. In rebuttal, defendants countered that the translations on the record regarding the companies’ voluntary conduct were ambiguous, which militates even more strongly in favor of deference to the MOFCOM statement.

Judges Cabranes and Hall seemed more receptive to defendants-appellees’ comity arguments. I predict a 2-1 vote in favor of reversal on the issue of comity. It’s unclear whether they will remand for dismissal for lack of jurisdiction (as requested by defendants), or whether they may remand for new trial and require the District Court Judge to accord proper evidentiary weight to the MOFCOM statement.

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

QUALCOMM

On February 9, 2015, it was announced that Qualcomm Inc. agreed to pay $975 million to end the Chinese government’s antitrust investigation under China’s anti-monopoly law into whether it used its position as the world’s largest smartphone chipmaker to charge discriminatory fees to patent licensees. The settlement came after meetings on February 6th between Qualcomm and China’s National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”). Qualcomm also agreed to lower its royalty rates on patents used in China and to change its licensing practices as part of the deal.

Derek Aberle, Qualcomm’s President, stated:

“We are pleased that the investigation has concluded and believe that our licensing business is now well positioned to fully participate in China’s rapidly accelerating adoption of our 3G/4G technology. We appreciate the NDRC’s acknowledgment of the value and importance of Qualcomm’s technology and many contributions to China, and look forward to its future support of our business in China.”

The NDRC ruled that Qualcomm violated China’s anti-monopoly law with its patent licensing practices, and the company agreed not to contest the finding.

Apparently, the Chinese market and the potential for large profits are just too big for US companies to ignore.

JCCT TALKS

On December 19, 2014, the Chinese Daily reported on the December 16-18 JCCT talks between the US government and the Chinese government stating, “China said it will treat all market entities equally in anti-monopoly enforcement and allow foreign companies’ legal advisers to observe meetings between litigants and anti-monopoly enforcement agencies.”

In the fact sheet, which was circulated at the end of the talks, the Commerce Department stated regarding the Chinese government’s agreement at the JCCT talks:

COMPETITION LAW

U.S. industry has asserted that China’s competition policy enforcement authorities seem to be targeting foreign companies and at times use Anti-monopoly Law investigations as a tool to protect and promote domestic national champions and domestic industries. U.S. industry also has expressed concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in China’s investigative processes, as well as pressure from the Chinese authorities not to seek outside counsel or have counsel present at meetings. China’s commitments below help to address several of these concerns.

  1. In order to build on the recognition of the United States and China in the Sixth Meeting of the U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue that the objective of competition policy is to promote consumer welfare and economic efficiency, rather than promote individual competitors or industries, and that the enforcement of their respective competition laws should be fair, transparent, objective, and non-discriminatory, and China’s commitment that its three Antimonopoly Enforcement Agencies (AMEAs) are to provide to any party under investigation information about the AMEA’s competition concerns with the conduct or transaction, as well as an effective opportunity for the party to present evidence in its defense:
  2. a) China clarifies that in enforcing the AML, all business operators shall be treated equally.
  3. b) Where AML violations are found, China clarifies that it is to impose enforcement measures that address the harm to competition, and not to impose enforcement measures designed to promote individual competitors or industries.
  4. China clarifies that its AMEAs will, (1) when undertaking administrative actions, strictly follow statutory limits on their authority, procedures, and requirements as laid out in China’s relevant laws, regulations and rules; and

(2) before imposing penalties, notify the parties of the facts, grounds, and basis according to which the administrative penalties are to be decided, notify the parties of the rights that they enjoy in accordance with the law, and provide the parties with the right to state their cases and to defend themselves.

  1. China clarifies that all administrative decisions that impose liability on a party under the AML will be provided in writing to the party and include the facts, reasons, and evidence on which the decision is based. China clarifies that it will publish the final version of administrative decisions that impose liability on a party under the AML in a timely manner. Administrative decisions made public in accordance with law should not include contents involving what are legally commercial secrets.
  2. China will ensure that, upon request from a party involved, the three AMEAs are to allow Chinese practicing lawyers to attend and participate in meetings with any of the three AMEAs. China will ensure that, upon request from the party involved, and after obtaining approval from the AMEA, which shall be granted as normal practice, the following persons may attend the meetings with any of the three AMEAs: (1) representatives of foreign law firm representative offices established in China, who are permitted to attend and advise on international law and practice and provide information on the impact of the Chinese legal environment, but not permitted to conduct activities that encompass Chinese legal affairs, and (2) foreign legal counsel practicing in other legal jurisdictions, who are permitted to attend and provide information on the subject transaction or conduct and information on the laws or international practices of the legal jurisdiction where they practice.

In the Blog post describing the JCCT, Commerce states:

  • Competition policy enforcement: The United States was able to address a significant concern for many foreign companies, which have expressed serious concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in the investigative processes of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law enforcement. The Chinese side agreed that, under normal circumstances, a foreign company in an Anti-Monopoly Law investigation would be permitted to have counsel present and to consult with them during proceedings. China also made several additional commitments, including to treat domestic and foreign companies equally and to provide increased transparency for investigated companies.

ANJIE LAW FIRM

On January 21, 2015, Michael Gu, a Chinese antitrust lawyer at the Anjie Law Firm in Beijing, sent the following e-mail with attached several articles on Chinese antitrust law:

I would like to share with you my latest articles on the recent PRC antitrust development.

      Six Years After the Implementation of the Anti-Monopoly Law: Enforcement Trends and Developments of Anti-Monopoly Law Investigation in China (English and Chinese)2014 marks the six anniversary of the implementation of the PRC Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML), the National Development and Reform Commission of the People’s Republic of China (“NDRC”) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (“SAIC”) have gradually strengthened their anti-monopoly law enforcement in terms of investigation with rounds of record fines. In particular, since early 2013, the investigations conducted by the NDRC are apparently speeding up with 11 high-profile cases investigated and closed with the total fines amounting to RMB 3,272.75 million. This article focus on the typical cases investigated and fined by the NDRC and the SAIC, analyzing in detail the recent trends and features, as well as future developments of anti-monopoly law enforcement. Also, we provide suggestions to companies with respect to their construction of antitrust compliance program under the new circumstances

MOFCOM Steps Up: Penalty Decisions Regarding Merger Control Published for the First Time (English) On 2 December 2014, for the first time ever, MOFCOM, the Chinese antitrust enforcement authority responsible for merger control, published three penalty decisions regarding concentration of undertakings. MOFCOM has announced that it was going to publicize its penalty decisions on undertakings which fail to file a notifiable merger as early as 21 March 2014, and now, here it comes. By publicizing these penalty decisions, MOFCOM conveys a clear message that it is enhancing the supervision and law enforcement on merger issues.

T&D MICROSOFT E-MAIL AND ARTICLE

On December 9th, John Ren of T&D Associates, a well-known, Chinese antitrust lawyer in Beijing, sent out an e-mail to all interested parties about the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s (MOFCOM) recent decisions to hand out penalty decision in three cases. As John Ren states:

T&D has prepared an email to introduce three penalty decisions of MOFCOM to the clients. Please see below for your reference as well.

The Department of Treaty and Law (“DTL”) of the Ministry of Commerce of People’s Republic of China (“MOFCOM”) has published three Administrative Penalty Determination Letters on December 8, 2014 on its website to impose fines on Western Digital Corporation (“Western Digital”) and Tsinghua Unigroup Co., Ltd.(“Unigroup”) for their violation of antitrust law and regulations. Please find attached the English translations of the three documents prepared by T&D for your kind reference.

T&D would like to provide comments as below for your kind reference:

      1. The penalties imposed on Western Digital are aimed at its violation of commitments in MOFCOM’s conditional approval notice in accordance with Article 15 of the Measures for the Review of Concentrations of Undertakings (“Measures“), while the penalty imposed on Unigroup is aimed at its violation of notification obligation in accordance with Article 21 of the Anti-Monopoly Law (“AML“) and Article 13 of the Interim Measures for Investigating and Handling Failure to Notify the Concentration of Undertakings According to Law (“Interim Measures“).
      2.      On March 20, 2014, MOFCOM has published an announcement about disclosing the penalty determination after May 1, 2014 on the undertakings who implemented a concentration without filing before MOFCOM when it is needed in accordance with law. And it is the first time MOFCOM has published its penalty determinations on undertakings who violate the restrictive conditions in a conditional approval notice (regarding the Western Digital Penalty) and on undertakings who fail to notify before MOFCOM when it was needed in accordance with the law (regarding the Unigroup Penalty).
      3. These public penalty determinations show a trend of MOFCOM strengthening enforcement of antitrust law after May 1, 2014. In fact, there were several companies on which bureau-level penalties were imposed in the past by the Anti-Monopoly Bureau of MOFCOM and those penalties have not been disclosed to the public, while the disclosure of the administrative penalty this time by DTL of MOFCOM is a higher-level penalty which has a higher number of fine and needs consent from the minister-level to be implemented. Also, there will be other kinds of penalties if MOFCOM defines antitrust concerns during the review process in accordance with the AML, for example, to discontinue such concentrations, to dispose of undertakings’ shares or assets within a specific time limit, to transfer the business, to adopt other necessary measures to return to the status prior to the concentration, etc.
      4. In accordance with Article 48 of the AML, MOFCOM can impose a fine of no more than 500,000 RMB on the undertakings. Although compared to the transaction value and the turnover of some large-scale companies, this is not a significant figure, MOFCOM’s act of disclosing the penalty determination will seriously hurt the reputation of the companies and effect the compliance issues of those companies in their future operations in China. Therefore, we sincerely suggest that companies take it more seriously when evaluating the necessity of notification and perform the obligation of notification if necessary.
      5. As we can see, the penalty determinations aim at one foreign company and one domestic company, which shows a fair treatment and attitude by MOFCOM regarding antitrust law enforcement on both foreign and domestic companies.

T&D JANUARY REPORT

T&D also sent us their attached January report on Chinese competition law, TD Monthly Antitrust Report of January 2015. In that report, John Ren states in part:

Experts Predict Anti-Monopoly Law Enforcement will Normalize and Regulate this Year

January 5, 2015

Anti-monopoly law enforcement advanced triumphantly in 2014.

This year, many well-known foreign companies such as Qualcomm, Tetra Pak, Microsoft, Mercedes, etc. have faced investigation by China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement; Japanese auto parts enterprises received the biggest fines since the birth of the anti-monopoly law; rare anti-administrative monopoly investigation cases have also arisen on suspicions of discriminatorily charging road tolls, and the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) launched an anti-monopoly investigation on an administrative organ at the provincial level for the first time.

There are so many bright spots of “first times”, “largest,” and so on in 2014, leaving this year with a groundbreaking mark in the course of China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement.

This kind of strength has been accused of “selective law enforcement”, “lacking law enforcement transparency”, “lacking professionalism” and so on. As for the trend of the anti-monopoly law enforcement from now on, a majority of experts give prudent predictions. They think, in view of law enforcement difficulties, the strengthening of supervision by public opinion as well as the improvement on the Government Information Publicity System, anti-monopoly law enforcement in 2015 will become more prudent and precise, and strong law enforcement is likely to slow down.

Full bloom of anti-monopoly law enforcement

2014 is the year in which anti-monopoly law enforcement blossomed everywhere. Both for domestic enterprises and foreign enterprises, also both for natural monopolies and administrative monopolies, law enforcement and judicial organs all increased their engagement.

The anti-monopoly investigation on many multinational companies and foreign companies is a big characteristic of anti-monopoly in 2014. At the beginning of the New Year, the information of anti-monopoly law enforcement drew people’s attention. Qualcomm was under anti-monopoly investigation by the National Development and Reform Commission, and Tetra Pak and Microsoft were under an anti-monopoly investigation by China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

On May 29, the National Development and Reform Commission issued the first anti-monopoly fine for 2014. Because price monopolistic behavior violated the anti-monopoly law, five eyeglass production enterprises including Essilor, Bausch & Lomb, etc., were fined more than 19 million Yuan.

Into the summer, the National Development and Reform Commission targeted the import auto industry as a goal for a new round of anti-monopoly enforcement. On August 4, the anti-monopoly investigation team of the National Development and Reform Commission abruptly investigated Mercedes’ Shanghai office. A number of Mercedes executives were summoned for questioning, and many office computers were inspected. After then, luxury cars such as Chrysler and Audi reduced their prices one after the other in response to China’s anti-monopoly investigations.

At the same time, domestic enterprises are also undergoing anti-monopoly investigations and anti-monopoly penalties. So far, it is clear to see through the “Anti-monopoly Cases Release Platform” that all 16 anti-monopoly cases punished by the anti-monopoly enforcement authority in the industry and commerce system target domestic enterprises.

The “restricting administrative monopoly” provision in the Anti-Monopoly law has been plagued by the “decoration” question. On September 13, the NDRC anti-monopoly bureau director Kun Lin, Xu announced at a news conference in the State Council Information Office (SCIO) that the stipulation by Hebei province, that the bus in its province will be charged half price of toll fees but out-of-province buses will be charged full price, is suspected of violating the anti-monopoly law, and it is under the National Development and Reform Commission’s investigation. Relevant government departments in Hebei province soon put forward an improvement scheme, restoring prices to the same price charged for local vehicles and vehicle from other places.

Repeatedly refreshed anti-monopoly fines

In 2014, the anti-monopoly enforcement authority continued the intensity of punishment in 2013; anti-monopoly fines reached new highs repeatedly.

In sweltering mid-August, the National Development and Reform Commission offered a 1.235 billion Yuan penalty to 12 Japanese auto parts companies, and so far this is the biggest anti-monopoly fine in China. It is understood that since 2013 the National Development and Reform Commission has issued 7 anti-monopoly fines, each of which reached more than ten million Yuan.

On September 2, in view of the fact that the insurance industry association of Zhejiang province organized 23 provincial property insurance companies to hold a meeting about car insurance premiums and they violated the anti-monopoly law regulation, the National Development and Reform Commission decided to fine the insurance industry association of Zhejiang province 500,000 Yuan, and 110 million Yuan on the 23 property insurance companies involved. This is by far the biggest anti-monopoly fine in the insurance industry.

The media exclaims that anti-monopoly fines are higher and higher. Industry experts remind the public that the focus for anti-monopoly enforcement should not just be placed on the amount of the fine. Professor Jian Zhong Shi, a modification and review panel expert for the Anti-Monopoly Law of the State Council Legislative Affairs Office and a director in the competition law research center of China University of Political Science and Law, thinks that even if a fine is a “sky-high price”, the purpose of law enforcement is not for huge fines, but for restoring the normal order of market competition.

Super-national treatment is closed

The intensive law enforcement on foreign-funded enterprises soon triggered suspicion. The European Union Chamber of Commerce in China raised objection to the anti-monopoly investigations in China, considering that they have been treated unfairly. Others argue that there is a double standard in China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement. While there is strict law enforcement on private enterprise and multinational companies, the law enforcement on state-owned enterprise is passive.

As for this point of view, Mengyan, an associate professor in the law school of Renmin University of China, thinks that the business activities of multinational companies and foreign-funded enterprises in China enjoy “Super-national Treatment” in the initial stages of reform and opening-up. When faced with anti-monopoly law enforcement practices in China, foreign-funded enterprises should consider more, keep a low-profile, and reflect on whether their own pricing behavior violates the anti-monopoly provision.

Since the initiation of China’s anti-monopoly law in August, 2008, the National Development and Reform Commission and the State Administration of Industry and Commerce did not “exert force” until the past two years. As for this point, Huangyong, deputy supervisor of the expert consultation group for the Anti-monopoly Commission of the State Council and professor in the law school of University of International Business and Economics, expresses that this phenomenon may be explained as that: For the new anti-monopoly law, law enforcement authorities are willing to set aside a period of time for market players to correct themselves before as the authorities themselves also need some time to learn professional knowledge and accumulate law enforcement experience. However, after six years, law enforcement authorities today both have the intention and the capability to fully open anti-monopoly law enforcement. To some extent, law enforcement authorities are cleaning “historical debts”. Law enforcement work is becoming normality.

Law enforcement transparency awaits improvement

The transparency of law enforcement has become a focus point for the general question in the foreign press on China’s anti-monopoly law enforcement.

On September 2, 2014, the National Development and Reform Commission announced its 0.11 billion Yuan anti-monopoly “ticket” on the insurance industry in Zhejiang province and published its full written decision of administrative penalty at the same time. However, the scrupulous reader can find that this written decision of administrative penalty has been made by the National Development and Reform Commission as early as the end of 2013, so why is it not published until today? Should the written decision of administrative penalty for anti-monopoly law enforcement be published timely?

Meanwhile, the publication of written decisions of administrative penalties for anti-monopoly law enforcement lacks unified legislation. This becomes another question raising suspicion of foreigners regarding anti-monopoly law enforcement transparency.

Insiders generally consider that anti-monopoly law enforcement will become normality from now on. However, considering law enforcement difficulties, the strengthening of the supervision of public opinions as well as the improvement on Government Information Publicity System, anti-monopoly law enforcement in 2015 will become more prudent and precise; the strong law enforcement is likely to slow down.

Professor Huangyong thinks that the focus for anti-monopoly law enforcement from now on should return to the legislative intention for the anti-monopoly law, that is to say, to safeguard a healthy market competition order. From now on, anti-monopoly cases will be more complex and involve more frontier domains. This puts forward a higher demand for the professionalism of anti-monopoly law enforcement. Thus, law enforcement authorities in our country should be well prepared and meet the challenge actively.

SECURITIES

PRC AUDIT FIRMS REACH SETTLEMENT WITH SEC

On February 8, 2015, Dorsey Partner, Tom Gorman, who used to work at the SEC Enforcement division, posted the following article about PRC Based Audit Firms and their problems at the US Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) on his blog on securities litigation. In that post Tom Gorman states:

SEC – PRC Based Audit Firms Reach A Settlement

The SEC and the PRC based affiliates of five major accounting firms entered into a settlement of proceedings initiated over the failure to produce audit work papers for issuers with substantial operations in China. The settlement, which provides a mechanism for governing future productions, represents a significant step toward a resolution of these issues which ultimately stem from the intersection of far different cultures and regulatory systems.

The proceedings

In the Matter of BDO China Dahua CPA Co., Ltd., Adm. Proc. File No. 3-15116 (Dec. 3, 2012) is a proceeding which named as Respondents the PRC based affiliates of five major accounting firms: BDO China, Ernst & Young Hau Ming LLP, KPMG Huazhen (Special General Partnership), Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Certified Public Accountants Ltd. and PricewaterhouseCoopers Zhong Tian CPAs Ltd.

The proceeding was based on Rule 102(e)(1)(iii) which permits the Commission to temporarily or permanently deny any person found to have willfully violated or aided and abetted the violation of the Federal securities laws. Section 106 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002, as amended by the Dodd-Frank Act, was alleged to have been violated. That Section provides that a PCAOB registered firm that audits the financial statements of a U.S. issuer consents to produce its work papers on request by either the Board or the SEC.

In this matter, each Respondent is registered with the PCAOB. Each Respondent is alleged to have been engaged to audit the financial statements of a PRC based U.S. issuer. Each Respondent was served with a request by the Commission to produce all of its audit work papers for a designated period. Each Respondent declined, at least in part, based on their understanding that the law of the PRC precluded the production. The Order directed that a hearing be held before an ALJ to hear evidence.

Following the hearing the Law Judge issued an initial decision on January 22, 2014. In that decision, much of which was redacted, the Law Judge found that each firm should be censured. In addition, each firm, except BDO, was suspended from practicing before the SEC for six months. The Commission then granted petitions for review filed by Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC as well as the Division. See also In the Matter of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Certified Public Accountants Ltd., Adm. Proc. File No. 3-14872 (May 9, 2012)(subpoena enforcement action against the audit firm related to a different PRC based client).

The settlement

BDO China, Deloitte, EY, KPMG and PwC settled with the SEC, admitting certain facts which are the predicate of the proceedings as set forth in Annex A. There were no admissions that the Federal securities or other laws were violated.

Under the terms of the settlement each Respondent is censured and will pay a penalty of $500,000. The Order provides for a stay of the current proceedings for a period of four years. The continuation of the stay is contingent on the implementation of certain undertakings tied to the execution of future requests for work papers. Specifically, the undertakings provide that in the future the SEC will make requests for assistance to the CSRC under international sharing mechanisms which include the

IOSCO MMOU. At the same time the staff will make a request to one of the settling Respondents through its designated U.S. agent. The Respondent to whom the request is directed will provide the staff with a certification that the materials have been furnished to the CSRC, along with a log of any documents withheld based on privilege or PRC law provisions which include state secrets. The undertakings provide time limits for the completion of these tasks.

If the Respondent to whom the request is directed fails to provide the required certificates within the specified time periods the Commission can, under Rule 102(e), enter a partial bar as to that Respondent. That bar will have a term of six months and will preclude the firm from issuing an audit report or otherwise serving as a principal auditor for any issuer. If two such bars are ordered they shall run consecutively. There is no appeal from the entry of this order.

Alternatively, if the staff determines that the production made to CSRC is materially incomplete, after an opportunity to cure, a summary proceeding may be instituted before a Law Judge. The Law Judge will have the authority to issue a partial bar, a censure and a penalty of up to $75,000.

Finally, if the staff determines that a Respondent has provided materially deficient responses, there has been substantial delay, material has been withheld without justification under U.S. law and a summary proceeding has not been instituted, it may request that the Commission terminate the stay and restart the proceedings.

Comment

The settlement of these proceedings is one step in what has become a long and difficult process regarding the entry of PRC issuers into the U.S. and world capital markets. Issuers based in, or with substantial operations in the PRC, have sought entry into the U.S. and world capital markets.

Bringing those firms to markets which are heavily regulated and based on disclosure, however, represents a clash of culture and regulatory regimes.

Here that clash has been evident from the first. While SOX requires Board registered auditors to agree to produce work papers and subjects them to inspections, at the time of registration the firms involved in these proceedings did not provide the Consent to Cooperate. Nevertheless, the Board permitted their registration while reiterating its obligations.

As these proceedings demonstrate, effectuating the requirement that registered firms produce work papers has been difficult for the SEC and the Board. At the same time the Commission and Board have exercised restraint while negotiating resolutions of the issues involved here. For example, after significant efforts the Board was able to enter into an MOU with the CSRC regarding cooperation and the production of work papers. The materials in the underlying actions were produced.

Yet an agreement on inspection, while under discussion, has been elusive.

Viewed against this backdrop, the settlements here are significant. The firms were sanctioned, but not barred from appearing and practicing before the SEC. Rather, an additional mechanism for facilitating future requests was arranged under the threat of additional and more significant sanctions. The ultimate success of the process is, however, tied to the MOU negotiated by Board since the settlement only calls for delivery of the materials to the CSRC, not to the SEC. Recent productions by that agency suggest that in the future there will be more cooperation and transparency regarding issuers operating in the PRC. It may well be that the time has come for issuers operating in the PRC to enter the world capital markets.

See also Tom Gorman’s blog for more information about this case http://www.secactions.com/sec-prc-based-audit-firms-reach-a-settlement/

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

On December 15, 2014, the Justice Department announced that Avon China had pled guilty to violating the foreign corrupt practices Act by concealing more than $8 million in gifts to Chinese officials. As the Justice Department stated in an announcement, which will be attached to my blog:

Avon Products Inc. and Avon Products (China) Co. Ltd. Will Pay More than $135 Million in Criminal and Regulatory Penalties

Avon Products (China) Co. Ltd. (Avon China), a wholly owned subsidiary of the New York-based cosmetics company, Avon Products Inc. (Avon), pleaded guilty today to conspiring to violate the accounting provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) to conceal more than $8 million in gifts, cash and non-business meals, travel and entertainment it gave to Chinese government officials in order to obtain and retain business benefits for Avon China. Avon China and Avon admitted the improper accounting and payments and Avon entered into a deferred prosecution agreement to resolve the investigation. In a proceeding today before United States District Judge George B. Daniels, the criminal Informations were filed against Avon and Avon China, and Avon China entered its guilty plea and was sentenced.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York and Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office made the announcement.

“Companies that cook their books to hide improper payments will face criminal penalties, as Avon China’s guilty plea demonstrates,” said Assistant Attorney General Caldwell. “Public companies that discover bribes paid to foreign officials, fail to stop them, and cover them up do so at their own peril.”

“For years in China it was ‘Avon calling,’ as Avon bestowed millions of dollars in gifts and other things on Chinese government officials in return for business benefits,” said U.S. Attorney Bharara. “Avon China was in the door-to-door influence-peddling business, and for years its corporate parent, rather than putting an end to the practice, conspired to cover it up. Avon has now agreed to adopt rigorous internal controls and to the appointment of a monitor to ensure that reforms are instituted and maintained.”

“When corporations knowingly engage in bribery in order to obtain and retain contracts, it disrupts the level playing field to which all businesses are entitled,” said FBI Assistant Director in Charge McCabe.

“Companies who attempt to advance their businesses through foreign bribery should be on notice. The FBI, with our law enforcement partners, is continuing to push this unacceptable practice out of the business playbook by investigating companies who ignore the law.”

Avon China pleaded guilty to a criminal information filed today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York charging the company with conspiring to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA. Avon, the parent company, entered into a deferred prosecution agreement today and admitted its criminal conduct, including its role in the conspiracy and its failure to implement internal controls.

Pursuant to the deferred prosecution agreement, the department filed a criminal information charging Avon with conspiring to violate the books and records provisions of the FCPA and violating the internal controls provisions of the FCPA. In total, the Avon entities will pay $67,648,000 in criminal penalties. Avon also agreed to implement rigorous internal controls, cooperate fully with the department and retain a compliance monitor for at least 18 months.

Avon settled a related FCPA matter with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) today, and will pay an additional $67,365,013 in disgorgement and prejudgment interest, bringing the total amount of U.S. criminal and regulatory penalties paid by Avon and Avon China to $135,013,013.

According to the companies’ admissions, from at least 2004 through 2008, Avon and Avon China conspired to falsify Avon’s books and records by falsely describing the nature and purpose of certain Avon China transactions. Specifically, the companies sought to disguise over $8 million in gifts, cash and non-business travel, meals and entertainment that Avon China executives and employees gave to government officials in China in order to obtain and retain business benefits for Avon China. Avon China attempted to disguise the payments and benefits through various means, including falsely describing the nature or purpose of, or participants associated with such expenses, and falsely recording payments to a third party intermediary as payments for legitimate consulting services.

The companies also admitted that in late 2005 Avon learned that Avon China was routinely providing things of value to Chinese government officials and failing to properly document them. Instead of ensuring the practice was halted, fixing the false books and records, disciplining the culpable individuals, and implementing appropriate controls to address this problem, the companies took steps to conceal the conduct, despite knowing that Avon China’s books and records, and ultimately Avon’s books and records, would continue to be inaccurate.

Court filings acknowledge Avon’s cooperation with the department, including conducting an extensive internal investigation, voluntarily making U.S. and foreign employees available for interviews, and collecting, analyzing, translating and organizing voluminous evidence.

BRUKER CORP.

On December 15, 2014 Massachusetts-based scientific instruments manufacturer Bruker Corp. agreed to pay $2.4 million to settle the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission’s charges that it violated the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act by bribing Chinese government officials in an effort to win sales contracts.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On December 2, 2014, Wayne Jewell filed a class action securities case against MOL Global, Inc., Tan Sri Dato, Seri Vincent Tan, Ganesh Jumar Bangah, Allan Sai Wah Wong, Eric He, Noah J. Doyle, Citigroup Global Markets Inc., Deutchsche Bank Securities Inc., UBS Securities LLC and CIMB Securities (Singapore) PTD, Ltd. JEWELL MOL GLOBAL

On December 11, 2014, Chao Lu filed a class action securities case against Jumei International Holding Ltd, Leo Ou Chen, Yusen Dai, Mona Meng Gao, Yunsheng Zheng, Judge Paijley, Steve Yue Ji, Keyi Chen, Goldman Sachs (Asia) LLC, Credit Suize Securities (USA) llc, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, China Renaissance Securities (Hong Kong) Ltd, Piper Jaffray & Co and Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. JUMEI BROCK COMPLAINT

On December 31, 2014, Aram J. Pehlivian filed a class action securities case against China Gerui Advanced Materials Group Ltd, Mingwang Lu, Edward Meng, Yi Lu, Harry Edelson, J. P. Huang, Kwok Keung Wong, Yunlong Wang, and Maotong Xu. CHINA GERUI

On January 9, 2015, Steven Bocker, Sadie LaBerge and Jay Wise filed a class action securities case against Deer Consumer Products Inc., Yuehua Xie, Zongshu Nie, Arnold Staloff, Qi Hua Xu, Yongmei Wang, Man Wai James Chu, Walter Zhao, Edward Hua, Bill Ying he, Goldman Kurland Mohidin LLP, and Ahmed Mohidin. DEER SECURITIES

On January 14, 2015, Paul Fila filed a class action securities case against Pingtan Marine Enterprise Ltd., Xinrong Zhuo, Roy Yu, Jin Shi and Xuesong Song. PINGTAN MARINE Complaint

On February 2, 2015, Chao Sun filed a class action securities case against Daqing Han, Xiaoli Yu, Hong Li, Ming Li, Lian Zhu, Guanghui Cheng, Guobin Pan, Guangjun Lu, Yuanpin He, Mazars CPA Ltd, Mazars Scrl, Weisermazars LLP, and Telestone Technologies Corp. CHAO SUN TELESTONE

On February 4, 2015, Ming Huang filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Zhaoxi Lu and Maggie Wei Wu. MING HUANG ALIBABA

On February 16, 2015, Myrtle Chao filed a class action securities case against Alibaba. MYTRLE CHAO ALIBABA

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–DEVELOPMENTS IN TRADE, TAX, CUSTOMS, PATENTS/337, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Benjamin Franklin Statue Old Post Office Building Washington DC“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR BLOG UPDATE—SEPTEMBER 11, 2014

SEPTEMBER UPDATE

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in early September in the Trade and Chinese antitrust areas of interest.

SPEECH IN VANCOUVER CANADA ON US SANCTIONS AGAINST RUSSIA—RUSSIAN TRADE LESSON

On September 3, 2014, I spoke on the US Sanctions against Russia, which are substantial, at an event sponsored by Deloitte Tax Law and the Canadian, Eurasian and Russian Business Association (“CERBA”). Attached are copies of the powerpoint for the speech US SANCTIONS RUSSIA and a description of our Russian/Ukrainian/Latvian Trade Practice for US importers and exporters. RUSSIAN TRADE PRACTICEThe sanctions will be described more in my September newsletter.

But my speech started with a quote from the last paragraph of the September 3, 2014 Wall Street Journal editorial about the Russian crisis, entitled “Deterring a European War”, which states:

“The temptation of democracies is to believe that autocrats treasure peace and stability as much as we do. Europeans in particular want to believe that their postwar institutions and economic integration have ended their violent history. But autocrats often prosper from disorder, and they need foreign enemies to feed domestic nationalism. This describes Russia under Mr. Putin, who is Europe’s new Bonaparte. His goal is to break NATO, and he’ll succeed unless the alliance’s leaders respond forcefully to the threat.”

This powerful paragraph reflects the very serious military situation between Russia and the EC and the US. But let’s probe a little more deeply.

What is the difference between Russia and China and our relationship with the two countries—Trade. When I was a young attorney at the ITC, a former Chairman Catherine Bedell, who was the first woman to be elected to the US Congress from Washington State, came to speak to the ITC staff. Former Chairman Bedell emphasized in her speech that our work at the ITC was not just simple trade work. It was the work of promoting peace.

President Reagan understood this. More trade means more peace and less chance of a shooting war.

The United States has 796,000 US jobs dependent upon exports to China, and China has millions of jobs dependent on exports to the US.

But what about Russia? The answer is much less trade coming from Russia. In 2013, the United States imported approximately $27 billion from Russia as compared to $464 billion from China. Of the Russian imports, $19 billion was for oil, and the rest for raw materials, including iron and steel products, chemicals, metals, fertilizer and fish. With China, electronics leads the way.

Much of what Russia exports is oil, raw materials and steel products. Many steel products and urea, fertilizer, are blocked by US Antidumping Orders or a Steel Agreement. There is less trade and with less trade it is much easier to have a shooting war.

In 1986 when I was working at the Commerce Department, one of Russia’s most important exports, Urea, fertilizer, was attacked with an antidumping case, which resulted in an antidumping order on July 14, 1987. The case was so long ago that it was not against Russia. It was against the entire Soviet Union.

When the Soviet Union broke up, the Commerce Department issued antidumping orders against Urea from all the member countries in the Soviet Union. Most of the orders against the other member states in the Soviet Union have been lifted, but not the orders against Russia or Ukraine. Urea from both countries are still covered by antidumping orders from the original 1986 case. In early November 2011, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) extended the antidumping orders for another five years. So we have had antidumping orders on Urea from Russia and Ukraine for almost 3o years.

One company, Eurochem, has been able to get through the antidumping order because in contrast to China Russia is considered a market economy country, but every other Russian company is blocked. Why is Russia considered a market economy country and not China? Because of 911, President Bush wanted Russian military bases to attack Afghanistan. President Putin of Russia, being a tough negotiator, said make Russia a market economy under the US antidumping and countervailing duty law. Secretary Evans of Commerce flew into Moscow and said it looks like a market economy to me. 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/

But even with the change in the US antidumping law, Russian imports remain relatively low, and the United States has less influence. Because of the importance of the present situation with Russia and the interest of US exporters and US importers, my blog and newsletter will include a new section on trade with Russia and the US sanctions in place against trade with Russia. More will come out in the next newsletter and blog post.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE AGAINST BOLTLESS STEEL SHELVING FROM CHINA

On August 26, 2014, Edsall Manufacturing filed a new AD and CVD case against Boltless Steel Shelving from China. The alleged Antidumping rates are 33 to 267%.

The ITC will hold its preliminary conference on September 16, 2014. Attached are the ITC notice and the relevant pages of the petition.  ITC PRELIMINARY NOTICE STEEL SHELVING SHORT PETITION

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On September 2, 2014, Commerce published in the Federal Register the attached notice, SEPT REVIEWS ,regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of September. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Freshwater Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products,   Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge, New Pneumatic Off-The-Road Tires, Raw Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars.

The specific countervailing duty cases are:

Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge, New Pneumatic Off-The-Road Tires, and Raw Flexible Magnets.

For those US import companies that imported Freshwater Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products,   Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons with Woven Selvedge, New Pneumatic Off-The-Road Tires, Raw Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period September 1, 2013-August 31, 2014 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2013 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

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

NEW MAJOR 337 PATENT CASE AGAINST PERSONAL TRANSPORTERS FROM CHINA

On September 9, 2014, Segway filed a major 337 patent case against imports of personal transporters from a number of Chinese companies in Beijing and Shenzhen. The ITC notice is below and the relevant parts of the Petition are attached. SHORT PERSONAL TRANSPORTERS 337 Complaint Segway is requesting a general exclusion order to exclude all personal transporters from China and other countries and also cease and desist orders to stop importers from selling infringing personal transporters in their inventory.

Chinese companies must respond to the complaint in about 60 days, 30 days for Institution and 30 days from service of complaint. If the Chinese companies fail to respond, they can be found in default and exclusion orders against their products can be issued.

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

Dorsey & Whitney has substantial expertise in the patent and 337 areas. Recently, we were able to win a major 337 case for a Japanese company in the Point-to Point Network Communication Devices 337 case.

Docket No: 3032

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: David F. Nickel

Firm/Org: Foster & Murphy

Behalf Of: Segway Inc. and DEKA Products Limited Partnership

Date Received: September 9, 2014

Commodity: Personal Transporters

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Personal Transporters, Components Thereof, and Manuals Therefor . The proposed respondents are: PowerUnion (Beijing) Tech Co. Ltd., Beijing; UPTECH Robotics Technology Co., Ltd., Beijing; Beijing Universal Pioneering Robotics Co., Ltd., Beijing; Beijing Universal Pioneering Technology Co., Ltd., Beijing; Ninebot Inc.,(in China) Beijing; Ninebot Inc., Newark, DE; Shenzhen INMOTION Technologies Co., Ltd., Guangdong; Robstep Robot Co., Ltd., Guangdong; FreeGo High-Tech Corporation Limited, Shenzhen; Freego USA, LLC, Sibley, IA; Tech in the City, Honolulu, HI; and Roboscooters.com, Laurel Hill, NC.

Status: Pending Institution

RISE IN CHINESE ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES CREATES INTENSE CONCERN FROM US AND FOREIGN COMPANIES

In September 2014, the US China Business Council and the US Chamber of Commerce published the attached major reports/survey from US Companies about the impact of the Chinese anti-monopoly law on US business in China.  US CHINA BUSINESS COUNCIL REPORT CHINA AML The Executive Summary of the US China Business Council report states as follows:

Executive Summary

  • China’s increased level of competition enforcement activity and the high-profile reporting of its competition investigations have prompted growing attention and concern from US companies. Eighty-six percent of companies responding to the US-China Business Council’s (USCBC’s) 2014 member company survey indicated they are at least somewhat concerned about China’s evolving competition regime—although more so about the potential impact than actual experience so far.
  • China’s competition regime framework is relatively new. The Antimonopoly Law (AML) came into force in 2008 after Chinese authorities spent more than a decade drafting the law and consulting with foreign competition authorities from the United States, the European Union, and other jurisdictions. The AML draws from elements of both the US and EU competition laws, though it is more closely tied to the EU model and contains some elements unique to China.
  • The rise in competition-related investigations has corresponded to the buildup in personnel at regulatory agencies following the AML’s implementation.
  • USCBC monitoring of publicly announced cases indicates that both foreign and domestic companies have been targets of AML-related investigations, but that foreign companies appear to have faced increasing scrutiny in recent months.
  • The perception that foreign companies are being disproportionately targeted is also fueled by China’s domestic media reporting, which has played up foreign-related investigations versus those of domestic companies.
  • Targeted or not, foreign companies have well-founded concerns about how investigations are conducted and decided. Company concerns include:

o Fair treatment and nondiscrimination

o Lack of due process and regulatory transparency

o Lengthy time periods for merger reviews

o Role of non-competitive factors in competition enforcement

o Determination of remedies and fines

o Broad definition of monopoly agreements

  • Bigger questions remain unanswered about the objectives of China’s competition regime, such as: Will China use the AML to protect domestic industry rather than promote fair competition? Is the government using the AML to force lower prices, rather than let the “market play the decisive role” as enshrined in the new economic reform program? The answers are not fully determined yet, but in at least some cases so far there are reasons for concern.

The report by the US China Business Council was followed by the attached even stronger report by the US Chamber of Commerce in China entitled, Competing Interests in China’s Competition Law Enforcement: China’s Anti-Monopoly Law Application and the Role of Industrial Policy, AM CHAM ACTUAL REPORT ON AML. My September newsletter and blog post will have more about the rise of the Chinese anti-monopoly law. What goes around, does indeed come around.

AUGUST NEWSLETTER

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, Solar Cells, Tax, Trade Agreements, 337/IP, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas in August 2014.

I have been late in sending out this blog post because the Trade War keeps expanding into many different areas, especially antitrust. The United States has brought a shotgun to the Trade War with its antidumping and countervailing duty laws against Chinese companies, and the Chinese government has brought a bazooka to the Trade War with the enforcement of its Antimonopoly Law/Antitrust laws against US and other foreign companies. What goes around, does indeed come around.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

BEIJING ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE

TAX IMPLICATIONS OF US ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

Recently, it has come to my attention that a major problem for importers that import under antidumping and countervailing duty orders is the US tax laws. As indicated in past blog posts, the US Congress is screaming because US importers are not paying all the antidumping and countervailing duties that are retroactively assessed.

As mentioned previously, the United States is the only country in the World that has retroactive liability for US importers in antidumping and countervailing duty cases. When an antidumping or countervailing duty order is issued, the rates in the orders are not the actual dumping or countervailing duties owed by US importers to the US government. The published rates are merely the cash deposit rates to be posted by US importers, when they import under an antidumping or countervailing duty order. The actual duties are determined during annual review investigations that often start up one year after the antidumping or countervailing duty order are issued.

Review investigations start up in the anniversary month in which the specific order is issued and will take a year and a half. So at a minimum, after the importer imports the product into the United States under an antidumping or countervailing duty order, it will take two and a half years, one year for the review investigation to start up and then a year and a half for Commerce to conduct the review investigation for the importer to learn how much it actually owes the US government. If the Commerce Department’s final determination is appealed to the Courts, it can take 5 to 10 years before the US importer knows how much it actually owes the US government.

If the antidumping or countervailing duty rate goes up in the annual review investigation, the US importer is retroactively liable for the difference plus interest. In numerous cases, such as Ironing Tables, Wooden Bedroom Furniture, Mushrooms and other China cases, rates can go from 0% or 16% to 157, 216 and 300%, creating millions of dollars in retroactive liability for US importers and often bankruptcy.

Congress then screams that US importers do not pay the duties that are due, but according to David Musser, a tax accountant, at Nicholas Cauley that I have been talking to, if a US importer sets up an internal fund to pay off any potential antidumping or countervailing duties, that fund is taxable because it is not considered a deductible expense. So the US government has set up a system where it is impossible for the importer to protect itself from increased antidumping or countervailing duties.

As David Musser states:

“ANTIDUMPING TARIFFS – ACCOUNTING TREATMENT vs. TAX DEDUCTION

Antidumping duties that attach to certain imports create accounting issues that may be in conflict with income tax deduction rules. The rule for deducting an expense for income tax purposes is that it must pass the all events test and economic performance occurs. This means that the liability for the antidumping fees must be fixed and determinable and paid (economic performance) for it to be tax deductible. This can create a large timing difference for deductibility since the Commerce Department may not determine the fees owed until a minimum of two and half years after the import was made. So if you accrue an amount for estimated antidumping fees, the amount is not fixed and determinable at that point and is not deductible. If you pay a deposit for the fees, you have satisfied economic performance, but the amount is still not fixed and determinable.

This appears to be in conflict with matching rules where specific expenses are matched in the same year to related income items, especially if you are passing the cost of the antidumping fees to your customers. Depending on how you invoice, there may be a potential to reduce the effect of the tax timing difference. This would require the antidumping fees/deposits to be separately stated on the sales invoice and accounted for as deferred antidumping fees on your balance sheet. This does not completely eliminate the timing difference associated with the fees, but it may be better than waiting two and a half years or more to get the deduction.”

In a May, 5, 1995 letter ruling 538001, the Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) stated:

“In the present case, the deposits were determined on the basis of transactions that occurred in a prior year. The deposits are specifically characterized as such by the relevant provisions of the applicable statutes and regulations. There is no necessary correlation between the circumstances in the year that provided the basis for the deposits and the circumstances that exist in the year the deposits are required. . . .

An importer’s ability to influence the ultimate disposition of a deposit required by an antidumping duty order is consistent with the characterization of the amount as a deposit. If an importer sells merchandise that is subject to the deposit requirement at fair value, the importer can ensure the recovery of the deposit. Generally, an asserted liability is not affected by the subsequent actions (other than administrative or judicial review) of the obligor. . . .

CONCLUSION

In the circumstances described, the Taxpayer’s deduction for antidumping duties is not allowable for the taxable year in which the antidumping duty order was issued. Antidumping duties are determined on the basis of the weighted-average dumping margins on all U.S. sales during the period covered by an administrative review of an antidumping duty order or, in the absence of a request for administrative review, on the basis of deposits required by an antidumping duty order. In either case, occurrence of all events necessary to allow a reasonable basis for determination of the amount of a liability for antidumping duties had not taken place before the end of the taxable year for which the Taxpayer claimed a deduction for antidumping duties.”

The 1995 tax ruling, however, is completely wrong as it applies to antidumping cases against China.  The writer of the ruling assumed “an importer can sell merchandise that is subject to the deposit requirement at fair value”. As readers of this blog know, since antidumping duties in Chinese cases are not based on actual market prices and costs in China, it is impossible for the Chinese exporter to know whether it is dumping, never mind the US importer.  With regards to China, Commerce constructs a cost using consumption factors from Chinese producers multiplied by surrogate values from import statistics from 10 potential surrogate countries, ranging from Thailand, Indonesia, Philippines, to Columbia or Bulgaria and those countries can change in subsequent review investigations.

Because of the fact that actual price and costs in China are not used to determine Chinese antidumping rates, it is impossible for the Chinese company or the US importer to know whether it is dumping. Thus, the US importer that is trying to protect itself from bankruptcy is in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation.

SEPARATE ANTIDUMPING RATES—NO LONGER A PRO FORMA EXERCISE– MUCH TOUGHER FOR STATE OWNED COMPANIES

With December 11, 2016 and the requirement in the US China WTO Agreement that China is a market economy country coming up, one would expect Commerce to relax the requirements regarding separate rates for state owned companies. Instead, Commerce is making it more difficult for Chinese state owned companies that are under the supervision of the PRC’s State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council (“SASAC”) to get their own separate antidumping rate.

Based on recent attached decisions in the Court of International Trade in the Diamond Sawblades case, specifically two opinions in the Advanced Technology & Materials Co., Ltd. v. United States, ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY TWO CIT CIT ADVANCED TECHNOLOGY 11-12211-122, where the Court, in effect, forced Commerce to deny a separate rate to Advanced Technology because part of the ownership was by SASAC, Commerce has made it more difficult for Chinese companies under the control of or owned in part by the State-Owned Assets Commission to get separate dumping margins/separate rates.

Recently, in the preliminary determination in 1,1,1, 2 Tetrafluoroethane from China case, Commerce overturned decades of past decisions giving Sinochem a separate antidumping rate, and determined that many Chinese companies, including numerous Sinochem companies, were not entitled to a separate dumping rate. In the May 22, 2014 preliminary determination, in the Issues and Decision memo, AD Tetrafluoroethane Prelim Decision Memo-5-21-14, the Commerce Department stated:

The Department has not granted a separate rate to the following additional Separate Rate Applicants: SC Ningbo International Ltd (“SC Ningbo International”), Sinochem Environmental Protection Chemicals (Taichang) Co., Ltd. (“SC Taicang”), Sinochem Ningbo Ltd. (“SC Ningbo”), Zhejiang Quhua Fluor-Chemistry Co., Ltd. (“Quhua-Fluor”), Zhejiang Quzhou Lianzhou Refrigerants Co., Ltd. (“Lianzhou”) and Aerospace for the following reasons:

“The Department preliminary determines that SC Taicang, SC Ningbo Ltd. and SC Ningbo International have not demonstrated an absence of de facto government control.Specifically, each of these companies is under the control of Sinochem Group, a 100%-owned SASAC [State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council]entity.Evidence shows that members of Sinochem Group’s board of directors and management actively participate in the day-to-day operations of SC Taicang, SC Ningbo Ltd. and SC Ningbo International as members of the board of directors. Furthermore, while the boards of these companies claim they are not involved in the day-to-day activities, each board oversees every aspect of the company, including the hiring and firing of the managers and determining their remuneration.

Accordingly, based on this evidence, we find that these companies have not demonstrated an absence of de facto government control.

Similarly, the Department preliminarily determines that neither Quhua nor Lianzhou demonstrated an absence of de facto government control. Specifically, both of these companies are under the control of Juhua Group, a 100%-owned SASAC entity, and evidence shows that members of Juhua Group’s board of directors and management actively participate in the day-to-day operations of Quhua and Lianzhou as executive directors. Further, the Juhua Group holds monthly price discussions and sets price guidance for sales of the merchandise under consideration. Accordingly, based on this evidence, we find that these companies have not demonstrated an absence of de facto government control.

Similarly, the Department preliminary determines that Aerospace did not demonstrate an absence of de facto government control. Specifically, Aerospace’s controlling Board members are also on the Board of its largest single owner China Aerospace Science & Industry Corp. (“CASIC”), a 100%-owned SASAC entity, and evidence shows that members of CASIC’s board of directors actively participate in the day-to-day operations of Aerospace.  Aerospace’s Board elects the company’s general manager and the Board will appoint or dismiss other senior managers based upon the general manager’s recommendation. Although the ownership from SASAC is less than a majority, record evidence leads us to conclude that the other shareholders have no formal authority to appoint board members or directors. Accordingly, based on this evidence, we find that Aerospace has not demonstrated an absence of de facto government control.”

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT??

On June 3, 2014, Commerce issued its preliminary countervailing duty determination against China in the Solar Products case. The fact sheet and preliminary Federal Register notice are posted on my blog in my last post. The Countervailing Duty Rates range from 18.56% for Trina to 35.21% for Wuxi Suntech and all other Chinese companies getting 26.89%.

As stated in the attached Commerce Department memo, ADCVD Solar Products Ex Parte Phone Call with Senator Patty Murray (WA)-7-23-14, on July 23rd, Senator Patty Murray spoke to Commerce expressing her concern of the impact of the Commerce Department determination on REC Silicon, a polysilicon producer in Washington.

On July 25th, the Commerce Department announced its preliminary antidumping determination in the Chinese solar products case establishing 47.27% combined rates (20.38% Antidumping, 26.89% Countervailing Duty) wiping out billions of dollars in imports of Chinese solar products into the United States. More specifically, on July 25, 2014, DOC announced preliminary AD duties ranging from 27.59 to 44.18 percent for Chinese companies, and 27.59 to 44.18 percent for Taiwanese companies. With the set off for countervailing duties, however, the antidumping rates are offset resulting in a lower overall cash deposit rate.

Attached are the Commerce Department’s Factsheet, Solar Products AD Prelim Fact Sheet 072514 (1), Federal Register notice, FR Notice AD Solar Products Affirmative Prelim Determination Postponement of Final Determination-7-31-14, Issues and Decision memo from the Antidumping Preliminary Determination, AD Solar Products Decision Memo for Prelim Determination-7-24-14, along with Commerce instructions to Customs in the Solar Products Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases, COMMERCE INSTRUCTIONS TO CUSTOMS COMMERCE CVD INSTRUCTIONS CHINA CUSTOMS, which will help importers understand what products are covered by this case.

Attached also is the ITC scheduling notice for its final injury investigation in the Solar Products case. FR Notice ITC Solar Products Scheduling of Final Phase of CVD AD Inv -8-25-14 The ITC hearing is scheduled for December 8, 2014.

On August 15th, after an extension, the Chinese government filed a letter at Commerce expressing an interest in a suspension agreement, but no proposed formal agreement has been filed with the Department.

Once and if any agreement is negotiated, Commerce will disclose the terms of the Agreement and seek public comment. Pursuant to the Statute, the Petitioner must approve the Agreement, which will make it much more difficult to negotiate an Agreement acceptable to Solar World. But miracles can happen.

If the Chinese government were to submit a proposed settlement agreement to Commerce, that might start negotiations. But the underlying antidumping and countervailing duty cases on Solar Products are moving quickly with verifications of the Chinese companies already underway and a final Commerce Department determination due in December and an ITC final injury determination in January 2015. There is little time left for negotiations or posturing.

Meanwhile, it has been reported that Chinese solar companies are moving to set up production facilities in third countries, such as India. In addition, Solar companies in third countries, such as REC Group in Norway and a German company with production facilities in Singapore and Malaysia, are reporting increased sales.

Also there have been reports that REC Silicon, a US polysilicon producer, is now moving forward with a joint venture in China, rather than increasing its investment in Washington State.

TAIWAN SOLAR PRODUCTS

On August 21, 2014, in the attached Federal Register notice, FR Notice AD Solar Products from Taiwan- Notice of Amended Prelim Determination-8-22-14, because of a “ministerial” error in its calculation, the Commerce Department reduced significantly the preliminary antidumping rate of the Taiwan respondent, Motech Industries Inc., from 44.18 percent to 20.86 percent. Apparently Commerce made a mistake in its calculations by adding a warranty expense to the normal/foreign value of Motech’s products without first converting that expense from New Taiwan dollars to U.S. dollars. This decision has also caused the all other rate for other Taiwan companies to fall to 24.23%.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On July 16, 2014, the American Iron and Steel Institute, which represents all the US steel manufacturers, stated that any future legislation that grants the president Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) or implements a free trade agreement must contain provisions on trade enforcement, including changes to the U.S. trade remedy law, the enactment of the ENFORCE Act, to put more pressure on US Customs to address transshipment and other issues, and language to address currency manipulation. The US Steel Industry and the United Steel Workers (“USW”) are also requesting Congress to lower the injury standards in antidumping and countervailing duty cases to make it easier for the ITC to go affirmative in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

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

Now the story continues . . . .

On July 30th in the attached letter, JAPAN TPP HOUSE REPS tpp_market_access_letter.pdfHpR)_R)wR)_, close to 100 Congressmen/women wrote to the USTR to express their concern regarding the agricultural negotiations with regard to Japan and Canada. They stated:

We write to express our deep concern over Japan’s current market access ·offer within the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. When Japan joined these negotiations, it agreed that the elimination of tariffs is a key feature of the agreement, as announced by TPP leaders on November 12, 2011. Unfortunately, Japan’s current position falls far short of acceptability.

Specifically, Japan is seeking to exempt numerous tariff lines from complete elimination with the United States. If accepted, this unprecedented and objectionable offer would significantly limit access for U.S. farmers and ranchers to the Japanese market, and most likely, to other TPP countries as well.

Furthermore, caving to Japan’s demands would set a damaging precedent, compromising the U.S. negotiating position with future TPP members. This result runs the significant risk that the EU will be encouraged to make unacceptably weak offers in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations, undermining Congressional support. In that same vein, we are also troubled by Canada’s lack of ambition, which is threatening a robust outcome for U.S. farmers.

The Trans-Pacific Partnership was envisioned as a high-standard, 21st century trade agreement that would be a model for all future U.S. free trade agreements. To realize this goal, we urge you to hold Japan and Canada to the same high standards as other TPP partners. Otherwise, Congressional support for a final TPP agreement will be jeopardized.

Indeed, we urge you to pursue the TPP negotiations without any country, including Japan, Canada, or others, that proves unwilling to open its market in accordance with these high standards. We owe our farmers and ranchers the best deal possible.

On August 14, 2014 the North American steel, automotive and textile industries called on USTR to include currency manipulation in future trade deals, including the TPP.

USTR Froman in prior statements has acknowledged the importance of dealing with rampant currency manipulation in countries such as China but has stopped short of indicating whether or not the rules would make their way into the TPP. He has also been careful to note that Treasury takes the lead on all issues relating to currency.

On August 19, 2014, the Electronic Frontier called on Sen. Ron Wyden, head of the powerful Senate Finance Committee, to create more transparent rules overseeing the negotiation and passage of free trade agreements, warning against overly restrictive protections for copyrights. The Electronic Frontier launched a petition calling on Wyden to introduce and pass legislation that would grant unprecedented access to trade negotiating texts and meetings for lawmakers and other observers, along with negotiating objectives that would balance the rights of both users and private industry.

On August 27, 2014, it was reported that TPP negotiators will meet for 10 days in Hanoi, Vietnam to discuss various issues, including food safety, intellectual property, investment, technical barriers to trade, environmental rules and state-owned enterprises. But because of the political situation, experts doubt that a serious breakthrough will occur and that the decisions necessary to close the deal still need to be made at the highest levels of government. The hope, however, is that the Hanoi session will allow the negotiators to narrow the gaps on the way to an agreement.

But the differences with Japan and the lack of Trade Promotion Authority are two big issues that need to be addressed by the US Government. Without these two issues being resolved, the chance of any big breakthroughs in Hanoi are small. These two problems would appear to prevent a final deal at the November APEC meeting, which has been an objective of the Obama Administration.

INDIA WANTS TO JOIN THE TPP???

On August 12, 2014, Indian government officials stated that the TPP presents a substantial opportunity for India to bring its own trade regime up to global standards. Commerce Secretary Rajeev Kher told a Confederation of Indian Industry conference in New Delhi that while India is not a member of the TPP talks, the finalization of the 12-nation pact may serve as the catalyst for India to take a more active role in the global trading system and diversify its economy.

In summarizing the event the Confederation stated “Kher observed that there are several countries in the world that are not part of the TPP and India could enhance its trade relations with these countries. The TPP also gives India an opportunity to pay greater attention to strengthening its services sector so as to diversify it away from information technology as well as to bring about trade facilitation measures to boost trade.”

External Affairs Secretary Sujata Mehta also speaking at the event said that whatever rules become enshrined in the TPP agreement may well become the “gold standard” for global trade regulation moving forward and that developing countries will be affected by the pact even if they are not parties to it.

According to CII, “Mehta felt that India needed to work on a successful response, especially on non-tariff issues so as not to be shut out of the global markets. . . . She was of the view that India needs to achieve a balance between our economic goals and strategic interests.”

In light of India’s decision to kill the trade facilitation agreement negotiated in Bali at the World Trade Organization meeting, as described below, however, it is very doubtful that many countries in the TPP would welcome India into the Group. China would be a much better candidate because it is less ideological and more willing to make the necessary compromises to be included in the Agreement.

INDIA KILLS WTO TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT NEGOTIATED IN BALI

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

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo said on July 31st that a late-night informal session of the WTO’s Trade Negotiating Committee in Geneva failed in a last-ditch attempt to find common ground with the holdout countries. Azevedo stated that “I am very sorry to report that despite these efforts I do not have the necessary elements that would lead me to conclude that a breakthrough is possible. We got closer — significantly closer — but not quite there. At this late hour, with the deadline just a matter of moments away, I don’t have anything in my hands that makes me believe that we can successfully reach consensus.”

Because of outstanding differences that Azevedo termed “unbridgeable,” the WTO members will not be able to implement the deal, a move that required a consensus among members. The modest Trade Agreement was regarded as a sign that the WTO could be a forum to create new broad trade rules, in spite of the collapse of the Doha round of trade talks.

Azevedo went on to plead with the negotiators, “So please, take this time to reflect—and let’s be ready to discuss the way forward on these issues when you return. The future of the multilateral trading system is in your hands.”

But opposition from developing countries, chiefly India, has grown louder in recent weeks. While India’s specific demands have not been made public, the country has said that it will not agree to implement the facilitation deal without first securing a permanent solution on food security, a key priority for developing nations.

Top US trade officials criticized India for trying to alter the strict deadlines for each agreement laid out in Bali. India, however, has repeatedly refused to compromise, rejecting calls at the G-20 summit of trade ministers and the WTO’s General Council to follow through on the deal it made in Bali.

In response on August 1, 2014, House of Representatives Chairman Congressman Dave Camp of Ways and Means Committee along with Trade Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes made the following attached statement, HOUSE INDIA TRADE FACILITATION DEAL KILLED:

Rep. Camp: “India’s actions last night to bring down implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement are completely unacceptable and put into doubt its credibility as a responsible trading partner. As we determine next steps, I am committed to the WTO as an institution, and I hope that we can salvage the Trade Facilitation Agreement, either with or without India.”

Rep. Nunes: “It’s one thing for a country to be a tough negotiator. It is entirely another to agree to a deal with your trading partners, and then just simply walk away months later, insisting instead on one-sided changes. That’s what India has done here by going back on its word, running the risk of eliminating any sense of good will toward it.”

And India now wants to join the TPP??? As they say in New York, “Ferget about it.”

On August 6, 2014, EU trade commissioner Karel De Gucht stated that the European Union would have been willing to support “any solution” that would respect the substance of the deal.

The Bali package was the first unanimous trade agreement since the WTO’s inception and included a so-called cease-fire on challenges to India’s food subsidy programs while the countries worked to find a permanent solution by 2017. But India backed off on the deal insisting food security move to the front hoping to push more members to join them.

The ramifications from India’s decision could mean a near-fatal blow to the WTO’s already failing effort to craft comprehensive new global rules to govern international commerce. Experts said that the shrinking of the WTO as a negotiating platform would likely lead to a shift toward smaller, binational, talks among willing countries members and regional free trade agreements, such as the TPP.

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo made clear that the members’ inaction would have far-reaching implications for the multilateral negotiating system.

“My sense, in the light of the things I hear from you, is that this is not just another delay which can simply be ignored or accommodated into a new timetable — this will have consequences. And it seems to me, from what I hear in my conversations with you, that the consequences are likely to be significant.”

With the first of those trade agreements now facing an uncertain future after this week’s missed deadline, many trade experts are pessimistic that the multilateral system can ever be workable again. As one trade lawyer stated “If agreements agreed to by all governments of the world become subject to hostage-taking by a country who desires a change in the package, then you have no sense in negotiating because it’s not going to be worth anything.”

Meanwhile on August 19, 2014, Members of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, including China, vowed to do everything in their power to improve the flow of goods across their borders even as the WTO Agreement falls apart. The APEC Committee on Trade and Investment restated their commitment to trade facilitation, indicating that they will take matters into their own hands if no progress can be made on the multilateral stage.

CHAOTIC TRADE SITUATION WITH COLLAPSE OF WTO TALKS

The collapse in Trade Facilitation Agreement has led many experts to question the future of the WTO Multilateral system. In an article published on August 18th, Terry Stewart, a well-known trade lawyer in Washington DC, stated:

“The World Trade Organization has existed for almost 19 years, replacing the former General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1995. . . . Last December, trade ministers from the WTO eeked out a last-minute compromise to permit an agreement on trade facilitation to be reached and to agree to commitments on a range of other topics at the 9th Ministerial in Bali, Indonesia. . . . The trade facilitation agreement (“TFA”) had long been viewed as a win win for all members. Some estimates of the benefits to the world economy were as high as $1 trillion and the creation of some 21 million jobs (most in the developing world). . . .

The WTO membership operates on momentum. When there is optimism based on success or progress, the membership appears capable of searching for solutions and the organization can achieve significant forward movement. . . .

Where there are missed deadlines or spoiled expectations, WTO members go into lockdown positions, where officials in Geneva are basically just going through the motions, and the organization’s negotiating function effectively shuts down for extended periods. . . .

But never before have WTO members (or GATT contracting parties before them) ever failed to move a new agreement approved by ministers through the steps of a legal scrub and adoption of appropriate documents to permit the agreement to be opened for ratification by members. Yet that is exactly what happened last month as India (with some support from a few other countries) refused to permit adoption of a simple protocol of amendment to add the trade facilitation agreement to the WTO agreements and to open the agreement for ratification by the membership.

The failure was not just another missed deadline. The failure sends the WTO once again to the precipice of irrelevance for trade negotiations. . . ..

The path out of the crisis India has created is not clear. While India has downplayed the importance of the missed date and the significance of changing the balance of the Bali package, the dilemma for others is more obvious. If a WTO member can hold the membership hostage on an agreed upon direction in the hopes of altering a previously agreed balance, negotiations at the WTO become meaningless and subject to repeated hostage-taking.”

As former US Trade Representative Susan Schwab recently stated, the stalling of multilateral efforts to craft cohesive global trade and investment rules has pushed nations both large and small to pursue more limited agreements that can squarely address their most immediate concerns in a given region, but the proliferation of these efforts has substantially complicated the operations of businesses across several sectors. Schwab stated, “Even the largest multinational firms, stepping back and looking at what is going on, their heads are spinning trying to figure out how this affects all of their business plans . . . You’ve got the progress in the trade system stalling and all of the regional [deals] in various states of suspended animation.”

Schwab echoed the near-unanimous sentiment of several experts in saying that India’s move poses a substantial threat to ever reviving a serious effort to rewrite international trade rules for the first time in two decades. According to Schwab, “What the Indians did is a travesty, and it’s a disaster for India’s economy, the rest of the world and the multilateral trading system . . . . The implications for the trading system and the global economy and businesses are really bad news. Not only do you have a stalling of these mega-regional negotiations, but now you’ve got a stalling of what had been a glimmer of hope in the multilateral system.”

OCTG

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

But Chinese imports were replaced by imports from Korea, Taiwan, India and many other countries. So USW and US Steel filed antidumping and countervailing duty cases against those countries. In the preliminary antidumping determination, Commerce calculated very low antidumping rates, such as 0s for Korea, 0 to 2.65 for Taiwan, 0 for one producer in India, 2.92% for Saudi Arabia and 8.9% for Philippines.

The USW and US Steel through the Congress put immense political pressure on Commerce to change its preliminary determination, especially with regards to Korea. On July 11, 2014, Commerce issued its final determination, which is posted in my last post on this blog, pushing Korea’s AD rate to 9.89 to 15.75%, Taiwan 0 to2.52%, Saudi Arabia 2.69%, Philippines 9.88%, Ukraine 6.73% and an India CVD rate from 5 to 19%.   The point, however, is that these are not shut out rates and in contrast to China, all of these countries will continue to export OCTG steel products to the United States in substantial quantities.

As indicated in the factsheet that can be found at http://www.usitc.gov/press_room/news_release/2014/er0822mm1c.htm, on August 22, 2014, based on a threat of material injury determination, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) made affirmative injury determinations with respect to OCTG imports from India, Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, Ukraine and Vietnam, but negative determinations with respect to imports from Philippines and Thailand.

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

WHIRLPOOL SUES

In the attached complaint, WHIRLPOOL COMPLAINT, on August 26, 2014, Whirlpool Corporation filed suit in the US Court of International Trade against the Commerce Department to stop the Department from including door handles for kitchen appliances within the scope of the antidumping and countervailing duty order on aluminum extrusions from China.

Whirlpool is arguing that the handles are outside the scope of the orders because they are “finished goods.” Certain finished goods that don’t require additional assembly are excluded from the order.

In the Complaint, Whirlpool specifically states:

Appliance handles with end caps consist of alloy 6 series aluminum extrusions and nonaluminum components that are permanently assembled together, are fully complete and finished, and are ready for use as appliance door handles at the time of import. Thus, these appliance handles with end caps are ready to be attached to the kitchen appliance doors in their as-imported condition. No further processing or finishing of these handles is necessary prior to fulfilling their intended use….

Appliance handles with end caps consist of alloy 6 series aluminum extrusions and non-aluminum components that are permanently assembled together, are fully complete and finished, and are ready for use as appliance door handles at the time of import. Thus, these appliance handles with end caps are ready to be attached to the kitchen appliance doors in their as-imported condition. No further processing or finishing of these handles is necessary prior to fulfilling their intended use.

CIRCUMVENTION OF ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS ORDER??

On May 8, 2014, Senator Mitch McConnell wrote the attached letter to Commerce, AD Aluminum Extrusions 5000 SERIES Controlled Correspondence Inbound-5-8-14, complaining about the circumvention of the antidumping order against aluminum extrusions from China. In the letter Senator McConnell stated:

“I write on behalf of constituents at Kentucky’s Cardinal Aluminum. Cardinal, an aluminum extruder, employs over 500 people in Louisville and plays a vital economic role in the community. My constituents have informed me that unfair trade practices from China are once again threatening Kentucky jobs. . . .

Unfortunately, my constituents have informed me that Chinese exporters are now circumventing existing U.S. import duties using 5000-series aluminum alloy not covered under previous DOC antidumping measures. . . .I ask that you give full and fair consideration of their request to include 5000-series aluminum alloy with similar products covered by existing DOC anti-dumping measures . . . .”

AUGUST ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

The specific countervailing duty cases are:

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

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

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

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

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

CHINA WTO CASE

As mentioned in the prior post,on July 14, 2014, in a decision and summary, which is posted in my last blog post, the WTO upheld China’s claims that certain US countervailing duty cases against China were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement. On August 22nd, China filed the attached notice of appeal at the WTO with regards to the remaining cases, CHINA APPEALS WTO DETERMINATION.

CUSTOMS

SENATE HEARING ON COLLECTIONS OF UNPAID ANTIDUMPING DUTIES IN HONEY, MUSHROOMS, GARLIC AND CRAWFISH FROM IMPORTERS AND INSURANCE CUSTOMS BOND COMPANIES

On July 16, 2014, at a Senate Appropriations subcommittee hearing in Washington DC, US Customs and Commerce Department officials discussed enforcement proceedings against evasion of US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty laws and several U.S. food producers and their Congressional supporters discussed a longstanding fight to push Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to bring lawsuits against insurance companies to collect hundreds of millions of dollars in unpaid antidumping duties on imports of honey, mushrooms, garlic and crawfish from China.

In the attached testimony, Testimony – ICE Trade Enforcement, Lev Kubiak, Assistant Director of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) testified about the ongoing Customs enforcement investigations by Homeland Security:

“Currently, HSI is involved in more than 80 investigations relating to open Commerce AD/CVD orders covering commodities such as honey, saccharin, citric acid, tow-behind lawn groomers, shrimp, steel, and wooden bedroom furniture.”

According to a January 2nd letter from Senators Wyden and Thune to Homeland Security, there are an estimated $107 million in uncollected duties on honey, $132 million on garlic, $309 million on crawfish and $102 million on mushrooms — a total of roughly $650 million from 2000 to 2007.  Apparently, these dumping duties are from large unpaid bills by importers, who have gone out of business, and bond companies that are contesting the payments.

In the attached statement, APPROPRIATIONS HONEY, the President of the Louisiana Beekeepers Association testified about the problems US honey producers are facing because of inability of Customs to recover bonds issued in new shipper review investigations:

“Customs estimates it is holding over 600 million dollars in thousands of New Shipper Bonds as security against unpaid dumping duties on imports of honey, fresh garlic, crawfish tail meat, and preserved mushrooms from China – 150 million dollars of which secure honey imports.

Shockingly, the major insurance companies that issued these bonds all failed to determine whether the sham companies that acted as the U.S. importers were creditworthy, or to require that they deposit any collateral to cover the insurers in case they had to pay under the bonds. When Customs eventually assessed substantial duties on these imports, the importers had disappeared. And the insurance companies – which had collected tens of millions of dollars in premiums for issuing the bonds – uniformly refused Customs’ demands that they pay as promised.

This duty-evasion scheme devastated the domestic producers of these four agricultural products in two ways. First, the scheme allowed the importers to enter and sell in this country huge volumes of these goods over an eight-year period at steeply dumped prices – as if the government orders imposing substantial dumping duties on these products did not exist. As a result, the domestic producers continued to suffer the very economic injury the dumping duties were supposed to prevent.

Second, all of these imports are subject to a provision of US trade law, which requires Customs to distribute dumping duties collected on imports that arrived through 2007 to the injured domestic producers. Thus, some of the injury inflicted by these imports on the honey, garlic, crawfish and mushroom producers could have been partly offset by Customs’ distribution of duties collected under the New Shipper Bonds. But the insurance companies’ refusal to pay as promised under these bonds has prevented this.

Unfortunately, Customs must bear substantial responsibility for this debacle. Although the insurance companies first started refusing to pay under these bonds in 2001, Customs by 2009 had failed to file a single collections lawsuit against them. In fact, the agency filed its first New Shipper Bond collections lawsuit only after being sued to do so by the four domestic industries.

Customs currently is attempting to recover $80 million from the insurance companies through 30 collections lawsuits. Rather than pay Customs as promised, the insurance companies are dragging out those lawsuits by raising many frivolous defenses.

One insurance company – Hartford Fire – has raised many of the same frivolous defenses in 350 lawsuits it has filed against Customs in its effort to avoid paying an estimated two to three hundred million dollars under its New Shipper Bonds. Indeed, Hartford Fire’s lawsuits now account for 20 percent of all cases before the Court of International Trade.

Despite Customs’ recent actions to recover under the bonds, the agency’s extended delay in suing the issuing insurance companies will likely block it from recovering under many bonds. This is because a bond collections lawsuit must be started within six years of the date the issuing insurance company becomes liable for the duties. Indeed, in the first collection lawsuit, the court ruled that Customs was time-barred from recovering three million dollars in duties secured by three of the nine bonds at issue.”

In the attached statement, CRAWFISH, the representative of the US Crawfish industry testified along the same lines:

“The problem is that a huge proportion of antidumping duties that should have been collected on imports from China that entered the United States prior to October 1, 2007, have not been collected, despite the fact that they are secured by bonds issued by large, U.S.-based insurance companies. That date is important because U.S. law requires a portion of the duties collected prior to October 1, 2007, to be paid to domestic producers who have been injured in their business by the dumping.

People who are unfamiliar with this area of the law are often surprised that there would still be unpaid duties on goods that came into U.S. ports in 2007 or earlier. They don’t realize that part of this is just because antidumping duties are assessed retrospectively – so delays of a couple or three years are not shocking. However, we’re still trying, right now in 2014, to get Customs to collect duties on entries from 2000, 2001, and so on. . . .

People might say they’d rather have Louisiana crawfish than Chinese crawfish, and they might actually mean it. But everyone has a price. With such a huge price difference, if you’re a U.S. processor, you’re going to be hard pressed to replace that old truck or upgrade your freezer or pay down your debt. You’re just trying to survive another day. The CDSOA was set up to use the antidumping duties to correct that problem, but it only works when Customs actually collects what’s owed. Even worse, the people importing the Chinese product – which, oftentimes, were just shell corporations with no real assets in the United States – started noticing that they didn’t really have to pay the duties, so they weren’t afraid of dumping. Massive volumes of imports kept pouring in, at very low prices. The hole just got deeper and deeper.

The responsible Congressional committees have been trying to fix this problem since at least July 15, 2002, the date of H.R. Report 107-575, in which the Appropriations Committee said: “The Committee is very concerned with the status of tariffs and duties assessed on crawfish . . . The U.S. Customs Service is therefore directed to begin, using funds currently available, vigorous and active enforcement of the tariff. Additionally, the U.S. Customs Service shall, not later than April 30, 2003, issue to the Committee and make publicly available a comprehensive report detailing their efforts to enforce and collect this duty.” That was in 2002 – twelve years ago. . . .

We’re also hoping to learn something about what happened with duty collections last year (FY2013) and what is happening this year (FY2014). More specifically:

• Last summer, Customs released its report on “Preliminary Amounts Available to Disburse” under the CDSOA for FY2013, reflecting collections made from October 1, 2012, through April 30, 2013. For crawfish, this “preliminary amount” turned out also to be the final amount, to the penny. In other words, during the last five months of FY2013, Customs did not collect a single penny of additional duties out of the vast backlog owed on entries made prior to October 1, 2007.

• This year, the “preliminary amount” for crawfish is only $2,687,300.70, reflecting collections through April 30, 2014. Yet we know for certain that Customs collected $6.1 million from Great American Insurance and Washington International Insurance, in February of this year, in crawfish antidumping duties on imports entered during 2000-01. We have copies of the checks from the sureties. Customs is on record, at the court, as saying that the checks had been received and were being processed in late February. It is unclear why this $6.1 million has apparently not been included in the “preliminary amount” for FY2014.

• Customs has also stated, in a letter to Congressman Boustany dated April 11, 2014, that it had fully collected “more than $14 million” in crawfish antidumping duties on April 7, 2014, one day before the six-year statute of limitations would have expired. From other information in the letter, we know that the money was owed by Hartford, a surety, on entries that came into the United States well before 2007. Although this money was allegedly collected prior to the April 30, 2014, cut-off date for the report on “preliminary amounts,” it has obviously been left out. We do not know why. . . .

Much remains to be done. Our best information right now is that there is still more than $600 million in bond money to be collected on imports of crawfish tail meat, honey, garlic, and mushrooms from China that entered the United States between May 1998 and August 2006. This debt is secured by over 8,000 bonds. Yet, so far, Customs has filed lawsuits to collect on only about one-tenth of those bonds, representing roughly 12 percent of their face value.”

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

There has been major developments at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) in 337 cases.

SUPREMA—EN BANC CAFC PROCEEDING ON 337 AND INDUCED INFRINGEMENT

As mentioned in prior posts, in the Suprema v. ITC case, on February 21, 2014, in the attached petition, Suprema – ITC Petition for Rehearing, the ITC asked for a rehearing en banc of the original panel decision, and on June 11, 2014 the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) granted a request for an en banc hearing, that means an en banc hearing before all the CAFC judges, to review the original 2-1 decision in the Suprema case.

In prior blog posts, I mentioned that Suprema was a major decision on induced infringement holding that if a product did not infringe when it crossed the border, the ITC did not have jurisdiction to find that the product violated section 337 because of induced infringement. The decision also has a major impact on general patent cases regarding induced infringement.

The ITC’s brief is due on September 15th at the CAFC, but the Commission has asked for an extension until October 15. Experts have predicted an oral argument in the case, possibly in January.

In its February 21st petition to the CAFC, the ITC set out the issues as follows:

“(1) Did the panel contradict Supreme Court precedent in Grokster and precedents of this Court when it held that infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) “is untied to an article” (Maj. Op. at 19)?

(2) Did the panel contradict Supreme Court precedent in Grokster and this Court’s precedent in Standard Oil when it held that there can be no liability for induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b) at the time a product is imported because direct infringement does not occur until a later time (Maj. Op. at 19-21)?

(3) When the panel determined the phrase “articles that . . . infringe” in 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(1)(B)(i) does not extend to articles that infringe under 35 U.S.C. § 271(b), did the panel err by contradicting decades of precedent and by failing to give required deference to the U.S. International Trade Commission (“the Commission”) in its interpretation of its own statute (Maj. Op. at 20-21, 26 n.5)?

(4) Did the panel misinterpret the Commission’s order as a “ban [on the] importation of articles which may or may not later give rise to direct infringement” (Maj. Op. at 25) when the order was issued to remedy inducement of infringement and when the order permits U.S. Customs and Border Protection to allow importation upon certification that the articles are not covered by the order?

In its petition for en banc rehearing, the ITC argued that “the panel not only overturned decades of Commission practice affirmed by the courts, but also upended the law of induced infringement.” The ITC based the section 337 violation on the imported products’ combination with software produced by Texas-based Mentalix Inc., which imports Suprema scanners. More specifically, as the ITC states in its petition:

“Appellant Suprema, Inc. (“Suprema”), a Korean company, manufactures fingerprint scanners overseas and imports those scanners into the United States. Before the scanners may perform their intended purpose, they must be connected to a computer running specialized software. Suprema does not make or sell this software, but provides a Software Development Kit (“SDK”) that allows its customers to create their own customized software to operate the scanners. Suprema imports scanners and SDKs and supplies them to appellant Mentalix, Inc. (“Mentalix”), a company located in Plano, Texas. Suprema assisted Mentalix in developing Mentalix software for use with Suprema’s imported scanners. Mentalix then used the software with Suprema’s scanners in a manner that directly infringed method claim 19 of U.S. Patent 7,203,344.”

On August 13th, Suprema filed a brief arguing that the full CAFC should affirm the original panel decision that the ITC does not have authority to hear inducement patent infringement cases where a product is found to infringe after importation.  Suprema argues that the ITC’s Section 337 does not reach conduct where a product may be found to infringe only after it was imported and used together with something else — in this case, software. Suprema argues that “[Section 337] empowers the Commission to bar only the importation, and sale for or after importation, of infringing articles, not the importation of non-infringing staple articles based on the respondent’s purported state of mind,”

Google, Microsoft and other high tech companies have jumped on Suprema’s bandwagon to argue in Amicus Briefs that the full CAFC should uphold the original panel decision barring the ITC from hearing induced patent infringement cases when a product only infringes after importation.  In attached amicus brief, Microsoft Suprema, filed on August 18, Microsoft argues that the law is clear that products that do not infringe at the time they are imported are not within the ITC’s jurisdiction. In the attached separate brief, Google BRIEF, filed on August 19th, Google, Dell Inc., Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., LG Electronics Inc. and others state that they have an interest in the case because they are “often targets of expensive litigation at the ITC.” “Allowing exclusion orders against articles that do not infringe when imported — on the ground that they may be combined with other products after importation to infringe — threatens substantial disruption to their businesses.”

According to Google’s brief, “The panel’s conclusion is correct: the statute as a whole makes more sense when infringement is judged at the time an article is imported. . .” If a product infringes after it enters the U.S., that infringement can be addressed with a suit in federal court. “The ITC need not expand its jurisdiction to reach every infringement claim that could be brought in district court because the role of the ITC is not to serve as an alternative forum for patent litigation . . . It is a trade court that may hear only the specified types of cases that Congress has designated.”

Both briefs also urged the en banc court to further hold that the ITC cannot hear cases based on alleged infringement of method patents, because such patents are infringed only when the claimed steps are actually performed. According to Microsoft, “A method is an action, not a product or good. Thus, the phrase ‘articles that infringe’ in Section 337 cannot refer to infringement of method claims.”

On August 18, the American Intellectual Property Law Association told an en banc Federal Circuit panel in an amicus brief that the ITC has the authority to find a violation of Section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 and issue exclusion orders on certain imports in induced infringement cases regardless of whether direct infringement occurred before or after the articles were imported. The AIPLA argues that the ITC has authority over induced infringement, saying the panel’s initial decision “overlooks the long, uninterrupted history of U.S. protection against unfair trade practices provided by Section 337.” “AIPLA respectfully submits that the Commission has such authority, and that its exercise of such authority in appropriate investigations is consistent with, indeed compelled by, Congressional intent and public policy.” The AIPLA said that Section 337 is an important tool for the effective enforcement of intellectual property rights and is not limited in regards to the time or location that an alleged act of infringement took place. If allowed to stand, however, the Federal Circuit’s initial decision may enable some foreign companies “to circumvent Section 337 and evade effective IP enforcement” by allowing them to eliminate any software-based features in their products found to directly infringe a patent while inviting end-users to download the features after importation.

DISK DRIVES—DOMESTIC INDUSTRY ISSUES

On July 17th, in the Optical Disk Drives case, an ITC administrative law judge held that there was no domestic industry in a 337 case if the Petitioner was non-practicing entity, which is purely revenue driven, and there is no proof that the NPE exploits the asserted patents under § 1337(a)(3)(C).  This ruling would require purely revenue-driven NPEs to make some showing that they exploit the asserted intellectual property under 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(3)(C) in every case. They could no longer rely solely on the investments of their licensees.

Although the ALJ’s decision is reviewable by the Commission itself, if the decision becomes final, it will be even more difficult for non-practicing entities (NPEs) to bring 337 cases.

TIRES FROM CHINA

On July 24, 2014, In Re: Certain Tires and Products Containing Same, Inv. No. 337-TA-894, the ITC banned the import of certain kinds of automotive tires from China and Thailand, because they violate design patents held by Toyo Tire Holdings of America Inc. The Asian companies did not respond to the 337 complaint and were found in default.

On July 24th, the ITC issued a limited exclusion order forbidding the import and sale of tires that violate Toyo’s patents by the defaulting respondents.

The American companies held in default include importers, Kentucky’s WestKy Customs LLC; California’s Tire & Wheel Master, WTD Inc., Lexani Tires Worldwide Inc. and Wholesale Tires Inc.; North Carolina’s Vittore Wheel & Tire and RTM Wheel & Tire; and Tennessee’s Simple Tire. The patents cover the unique tread and side wall patterns on Toyo- and Nitto-brand tires.

The foreign infringers include Hong Kong Tri-Ace Tire Co. Ltd., Weifang Shunfuchang Rubber & Plastic Co. Ltd., Doublestar Dong Feng Tyre Co. Ltd., Shandong Yongtai Chemical Group Co. Ltd., Shandong Linglong Tyre Co. Ltd., Svizz-One Corp. Ltd., South China Tire and Rubber Co. Ltd., Guangzhou South China Tire & Rubber Co. Ltd., Turbo Wholesale Tires Inc. and related importers and U.S. distributors.

SECTION 337 COMPLAINTS

On July 25, 2014, Bose Corp. filed a patent based section 337 case at the ITC against a Chinese company on Noise Cancelling Headphones. The respondents are: Beats Electronics LLC, Culver City, California; Beats Electronics International Ltd., Ireland; Fugang Electronic (Dong Guan) Co., Ltd., China; and PCH International Ltd., Ireland.

On August 4, 2014, Adrian Rivera and ARM Enterprises, Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against imports Beverage Brewing Capsules from a number of Chinese and Hong Kong companies. The specific respondents are: Solofill LLC, Houston, Texas; DonGuan Hai Rui Precision Mould Co., Ltd., China; Eko Brands, LLC, Woodinville, WA; Evermuch Technology Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; Ever Much Company Ltd., China; Melitta USA, Inc., North Clearwater, FL; LBP Mfg. Inc., Cicero, IL; LBP Packaging (Shenzhen) Co. Ltd., China; Spark Innovators, Corp., Fairfield, New Jersey; B. Marlboros International Ltd. (HK), Hong Kong; Amazon.com, Inc., Seattle, WA.

PATENT AND IP CASES IN GENERAL

DUPONT SUES SUN EDISON FOR INFRINGEMENT OF US SOLAR PASTE PATENTS

On August 18, 2014, Dupont filed the patent infringement suit against Sun Edison for infringing its thick-film paste patent by importing and selling certain solar modules. DUPONT SOLAR COMPLAINT

DuPont alleges that Sun Edison imports solar modules from Malaysia, which are constructed by Flextronics International Ltd. and use photovoltaic cells provided by Neo Solar Power Corp., which include a paste that uses tellurium-oxide solids.

EX DUPONT ENGINEER SENTENCED TO PRISON FOR STEALING TRADE SECRETS FOR CHINA TITANIUM DIOXIDE INDUSTRY

On August 26, 2014, a California federal judge sentenced a former DuPont Co. engineer to two and a half years in prison and ordered him to pay nearly $750,000 in restitution and forfeitures for conspiring to sell to Chinese companies trade secrets on the technology to safely produce massive amounts of titanium dioxide.

According to the Judge, although Robert Maegerle’s involvement in a conspiracy to sell DuPont’s secret method of producing titanium dioxide to Chinese companies was his first crime, it was a serious one. In March, a jury convicted Maegerle, 79, of participating in the trade-secrets scheme and also of obstructing prosecutors’ investigation into the crimes.

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING ZTE

On July 28, 2014, JST Performance, Inc. d/b/a Rigid Industries and Illumination Management Solutions, Inc. filed a case for patent infringement against imports of various LED lighting products for off road vehicles against Sun Auto Electronics, LLC and Foshan Sunway Auto Electrical Company, Ltd., a Chinese company.  LED LIGHTING COMPANY SUED

On August 6, 2014, Shenzhen Liown Electronics Co., Ltd., a Chinese company, filed a patent infringement case against a US company, Luminara Worldwide, LLC, Michael L. O’Shaughnessy, and John W. Jacobson. COUNTERSUIT SHENZHEN LIOWN

On August 6, 2014, Multiplayer Network Innovations, LLC filed a patent infringement case against ZTE Corp. and ZTE (USA), Inc. ZTE

On August 7, 2014, a Taiwan company sued a Taiwan company for theft of trade secrets and patent infringement. Via Technology companies in California and Taiwan filed the patent infringement suit against Asus Computer International, a California corporation, Asutek Cmputer Inc., a Taiwan corporation, and Asmedia Technlogy Inc., a Taiwan corporation. VIA TECHNOLOGY TAIWAN

On August 13, 2014, Pacific Lock Company filed a patent infringement case against the Eastern Company d/b/a/ Security Products, World Lock Co., Ltd., and Dongguan Reeworld Security Products LtdDONGGUAN COMPANY

On August 25, 2014, Folkmanis, Inc. filed a copyright infringement case against Delivery Agent, Inc., S.F. Global Sourcing LLC, CBS Broadcasting, Inc. and Shanghai Oriland Toys Co., LtdSHANGHAI COPYRIGHT

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

On July 21, 2014, Loren Vieths filed a products liability case against Shanxi Regent Works, Inc., a Chinese company, and The Sports Authority, Inc. EXERCISE EQUIPMENT

On July 29, 2014, Eduardo and Carmen Amorin filed a products liability case for defective drywall against The State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the State Council; Taishan Gypsum Co., Ltd. f/k/a Shandong Taihe Dongxin Co., Ltd.; Tai’an Taishan Plasterboard Co., Ltd.; Beijing New Building Materials Public Limited Co.; China National Building Material Co., Ltd.; Beijing New Building Materials (Group) Co., Ltd.; China National Building Materials Group Corporation. TAISHAN CLASS ACTION

CFIUS—CHINESE INVESTMENT IN THE US

RALLS CORP CASE

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

The DC Circuit overturned the CFIUS decision on due process procedural grounds requiring the President and CFIUS at a minimum to explain why the decision was made and grant Ralls Corp’s access to the unclassified evidence used to come to that decision and give company an opportunity to rebut the evidence. Appeal is likely, either through a petition for en banc review or a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The CFIUS review process, however, has been described as a black box into which foreign investors feed information, only to get out a yes or no answer with no way of appealing the decision.

Many experts, however, have been issuing comments to the effect that the Ralls decision will not have a meaningful impact on the outcome of the case and is likely do little to boost the transparency of the CFIUS review process. Experts doubt that any of the unclassified information given to Ralls or any other company in a similar situation in the future would not have a substantial impact on the case. A former head of CFIUS stated that because these cases involve national security, “There isn’t a lot of non-deliberative information that’s not classified or not derived from classified material that can be shared.” Another attorney that specializes in this area stated, “What are they going to do with unclassified information based on a partial record?”

Although the legal victory has little practical impact, it helps to dispel the idea that the U.S. judicial system is biased against Chinese investment and avoids the chilling of the current Chinese investment boom. The U.S. has a process and if that process is not followed, there is relief within the U.S. judicial system.

CHINESE INVESTMENT IN US SEMICONDUCTOR COMPANY

In spite of or maybe because of the Ralls decision, on August 14th a group of Chinese investors made an unsolicited $1.6 billion offer for California chipmaker OmniVision Technologies Inc. The deal would send a chip maker for smartphones, including Apple Inc.’s iPhone, and tablets, to an investor group led by Hua Capital Management Ltd. The potential buyers pitching the $29-per-share bid also include state-owned Shanghai Pudong Science and Technology Investment Co. Ltd. If OmniVision accepts the offer, a comprehensive government review is likely.

CHINESE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

US FOUNDRY

A US investment company has approached me because an undisclosed US Foundry that produces metal castings has put itself on the auction block. The public information available to me is as follows:

The US Company provides complex metal casting services and products from 50 to 200,000 pounds for industry-critical applications. The Company operates through its two wholly-owned facilities (“Facility A” and “Facility B”) that aggregate in excess of 650,000 square feet, both of which have been in operation for more than 100 years.

The Company differentiates itself by offering highly-complex and highly-engineered products, compared to the simpler commoditized products of other facilities. In addition, the Company emphasizes quality over price —administering price increases without customer attrition.

The Company is focused on energy, infrastructure, and industrial equipment end markets, with approximately 53%, 33% and 13% of production in each of these markets, respectively. Products used in energy and power generation applications include the following sectors: air compression, fossil fuels, gas compression and wind. The Company also manufactures products for other industries including: construction equipment, machine tools, agriculture and refrigeration.

If anyone is interested in the opportunity, please feel free to contact me.

US INVESTMENT IN CHINA

HOSPITALS

It has been reported that on August 27, Ministry of Commerce and National Health and Family Planning Commission issued the “Notice on Establishing Wholly Foreign-owned Hospital Pilots”. The notice lays out the requirements, standards, and approval processes for foreign investors applying to qualify for establishing wholly foreign-owned hospitals in China.     The seven provinces included in the notice’s pilot zones are Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Jiangsu, Fujian, Guangdong, and Hainan. Investors have the option of establishing their own new hospital, or investing through M&A. The notice regulates that only investors from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan may establish hospitals featuring traditional Chinese medicine.

If anyone is interested in the opportunity, please feel free to contact me.

ANTITRUST– VITAMIN C, MAGNESITE AND AU OPTRONICS

There have been major developments in the antitrust area both in the United States and more importantly in China.

VITAMIN C

On August 11, 2014, the parties in the Vitamin C case filed their attached final briefs in the Second Circuit.  In its attached brief, HEBEI REPLY BRIEF, Defendants HeBei Welcome Pharmaceuticals Co. Ltd. et al reiterated its arguments that it followed Chinese law when it coordinated on pricing, and that co-defendant North China Pharmaceuticals Group Corp. was not involved in the coordination.

Hebei argued:

“Appellees’ brief confirms that the judgment below cannot be affirmed unless this Court rejects a sovereign government’s view of its own laws, establishes federal courts as arbiters of the validity of foreign nations’ regulatory decisions, disregards the massive foreign policy concerns raised by that approach, creates multiple circuit splits, and rejects binding precedent. This Court should therefore decline Appellees’ invitation to sit in judgment over China’s economic development policies.

The dispositive issue is now undisputed: Appellees concede that Chinese law required active coordination by vitamin C manufacturers on vitamin C prices and output. This amounts to a concession that the Chinese government compelled violation of the Sherman Act and that the district court’s determination of Chinese law cannot survive de novo

That should end the case. But Appellees argue that this Court should find that Chinese manufacturers and their corporate affiliates could still face nine-figure penalties because they complied with their own government’s legal, regulatory, and policy decisions. Their arguments that U.S. law can prohibit the same conduct a sovereign nation ordered and directed, if accepted, would go far in eradicating the foreign sovereign compulsion, international comity, act of state, and political question doctrines altogether, contrary to decades of established law.”

In the attached brief, ANIMAL SCIENCE REPLY BRIEF, the Plaintiffs, Animal Science Products Inc. and The Ranis Co. Inc., asserted that the district court’s verdict was proper and that the companies’ actions were not covered by the Chinese government, stating:

“Appellants and the Ministry of Commerce of China (“Ministry”) ask this Court to adopt an unprecedented “whatever the Ministry says, goes” approach to overturn a jury verdict, even though the Ministry’s assertions are not supported by the evidence or even Chinese law.

In the nine years since this case was filed, two district court judges appropriately considered the evidence of Appellants’ conspiracy to fix prices and limit the supply of vitamin C imported into the U.S. and determined the nature of Chinese law in light of the evidence submitted by the parties and statements by the Ministry (appearing as Amicus). The district court then presided over a trial at which the jury—using an unobjected-to set of instructions and verdict form—concluded that the Chinese government did not compel Appellants’ cartel as a factual matter.

Appellants’ and the Ministry’s assertion that the district court’s judgment represents a groundbreaking application of the Sherman Act is overblown because foreign corporations are routinely subject to liability under U.S. antitrust law over foreign governments’ objections. No Chinese law required Appellants and their co-conspirators to set supra-competitive prices for vitamin C imported to the United States.

Appellants argue that they were required by Chinese law to accept coordination by a vitamin C Subcommittee of a China Chamber of Commerce that was acting to implement the Chinese government’s regulatory objectives. Regardless of the proper interpretation of Chinese law, the facts as determined by the jury under unobjected-to instructions showed that the Subcommittee and Chamber did not as a factual matter act to compel the conduct at issue here; rather, the jury found Appellants liable for their own voluntary conduct.

With respect to its correct rulings on Chinese law, the district court gave the Ministry’s statements appropriate respect and regard, but in multiple rulings disagreed with the Ministry, concluding that the plain language of Chinese law and the overwhelming evidence contradicted the Ministry’s position. Having made its Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 44.1 (“Rule 44.1”) ruling on issues of foreign law, the district court properly excluded copies of Chinese laws and regulations from the evidence submitted to the jury. As it should be in every trial, the jury reached its verdict based on instructions of law from the Court and not from Appellants’ counsel reading and arguing law to the jury.

The district court correctly exercised personal jurisdiction over North China Pharmaceutical Group Corporation (“NCPG”) and denied its motion for judgment as a matter of law based on the evidence of NCPG’s direct participation in a cartel selling products into the United States.”

MAGNESITE

On July 24, 2014, in Animal Science Products Inc. and Resco Products Inc. v. China Minmetals Corp., et al, in he attached decision and order, MAGNESITE DISMISSAL STANDING MAGNESITE ORDER DISMISSAL, the US Federal Court dismissed the US companies antitrust action for a price fixing cartel on Chinese exports to the US of Magnesite and Magnesite products because plaintiffs lacked standing to represent the class of direct purchasers of Magnesite from China. The Court states:

“Plaintiffs seek to represent a putative class of U.S. purchasers of magnesite. They allege that sixteen Chinese corporations have conspired to fix prices and control the supply of magnesite and magnesite products exported to the United States. As a result, they say, magnesite prices have remained above market levels since at least April 2000. . ..

There is, however, one critical fact that distinguishes Cordes & Co. from the case now before me. There, the class action was initiated by two putative class representatives who were “indisputably members of the class they sought to represent.” . . . That is, the class representatives had themselves suffered the same injury that gave rise to the assigned antitrust claims they asserted. Here, the facts are not so clear, or at least, have yet to be established, as discussed below.

Suffice it to say that, at this stage, Resco must establish its own standing, either through its own direct purchases or through the direct purchases of some entity that validly assigned its claims to Resco. . . .

Plaintiff Resco has pleaded very few facts regarding its own “direct purchases” of magnesite from Defendants. The original complaint . . . contains no statements regarding Resco’s direct purchases of magnesite, or Animal Science’s indirect purchases of magnesite. . . .

In short, Plaintiffs allege no direct purchases by Resco from any named defendants.

Nothing in the Amended Complaint constitutes a plausible factual allegation in support of the most direct and obvious form of standing: plaintiff’s direct purchases from one or more of the defendant . . .Plaintiff Resco’s status as a direct purchaser, whether obtained through its own direct purchases or by means of an assignment, is a critical and yet unresolved question in this case. That uncertainty permeates not only the Amended Complaint but the Motion to Compel Arbitration.

For the reasons discussed above, the Minmetals and Sinosteel Defendants’ Motions to Dismiss Plaintiffs’ Amended Complaint are GRANTED on standing grounds only. The Amended Complaint is DISMISSED WITHOUT PREJUDICE to the filing of a Second Amended Complaint.”

Unfortunately, the Court and the Parties may have missed the forest through the trees. Many forms of magnesium from China, including many magnesium products, are covered by US antidumping orders, which have blocked many importers from importing Chinese magnesium into the United States for decades. The Court and the Parties may ignore this reality, but the point is that the effect of antidumping orders is to raise prices. That may be the cause of the increased prices on these products.

TAIWAN LCDS CASE

On August 25, 2014, AU Optronics Corp, along with several Taiwan individuals filed the attached petition, auo petition, with the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals asking it to rehear or hold an en banc hearing in its appeal of a $500 million price-fixing fine the government won against the liquid crystal display maker. The Petition argues that the panel misinterpreted the evidence in the case.

As reported in my July post on this blog, in July a three-judge panel affirmed the Justice Department’s victory before the Federal District Court in the case against AUO, its U.S. subsidiary and former top executives Hsuan Bin Chen and Hui Hsiung concerning a global plot to fix the price of liquid crystal display panels.

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

As US antitrust cases have been on the rise in the United States, they are sharply rising against Chinese and foreign companies, including US companies, in China. The recent surge in antitrust cases reaches US and foreign companies like Qualcomm, Interdigital, Microsoft, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz.

On July 24, 2014, it was reported that the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), one of China’s three National Antitrust Agencies, announced that it had determined that US chipmaker Qualcomm is a monopoly and was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position in wireless communication standards.  The allegations could lead to record fines of more than $1 billion.

As the Chinese consumer market surges upward, Western companies are seeing their profits fall downward after this wave of antitrust cases. The China media has reported that the prices of many foreign items, including a Starbucks latte to a Jaguar sedan, are higher in China than in many other places in the world.

Chinese consumers, who now travel the World, are complaining. According to the media, although some of the price differences are explainable by factors, such transportation, real-estate costs, higher Chinese import taxes and fragmented supply chains in which multiple distributors each add a markup, at least some multinationals allegedly have adopted sales practices in China that would not be tolerated by antitrust regulators in Europe or the US. Automobile companies do not always give their Chinese customers a choice in their purchase of spare parts, causing high prices.

What concerns the US government, however, is procedures, the heavy-handed way that investigations are being pursued, and the highly charged media coverage that makes for heated nationalistic rhetoric against Western and US companies.

Foreign companies have learned two early lessons from the antitrust probes. First, the Chinese law provides little protection. The message that the National Development and Reform Commission, the Chinese agency that sets pricing rules, delivers in private to multinationals at the outset of a price-fixing investigation is not to bring in their foreign lawyers. The second lesson, apparently, is resistance is futile.

In almost every antitrust case launched so far, foreign companies have settled without a fight. Voluntary price cuts of up to 20% are the norm, accompanied by board-level expressions of remorse and promises to do better. Chrysler described its abrupt decision to slash car-part prices as a “proactive response” to the price fixing probe as it got under way.

These price-fixing investigations have been accompanied by heated nationalistic rhetoric in the state media with anti-foreign overtones. Pushing down multinationals goes over well with large sections of the Chinese public that view the foreign companies as arrogant. The China Youth Daily recently stated that multinationals “pollute the environment, lie to consumers, act arrogantly when facing their wrongdoings, and ignore China’s law and protests from Chinese consumers.”

For many years that China’s Anti-Monopoly Law has been in place, enforcement has been lax, but the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”), the two agencies charged with enforcing the AML’s antitrust provisions, have rapidly increased enforcement over the last year, with probes into Qualcomm Inc., Microsoft, and now international automakers. The action has come at the same time as the government has voiced a broader intention to promote the creation of Chinese players in many key industries, contributing to the impression that the latest antitrust probes may have a protectionist purpose.

While technically, agency decisions can be appealed to China’s administrative courts, the courts tend to defer to the agencies in all but the most blatant violations of the law. That means that as a practical matter, companies don’t have the same ability to force the agencies to defend themselves in court the way companies do in the U.S. and Europe.

MICROSOFT

As mentioned in my last post, on July 29, China time, the Chinese government conducted a dawn raid of Microsoft offices in China, apparently because of antitrust concerns. According to reports out of China, Microsoft Corp‘s internet browser and media player are being targeted in a Chinese antitrust probe, raising the prospect of China revisiting the software bundling issue at the heart of past antitrust complaints against the firm.

On August 6, 2014, it was reported that more raids were conducted on the Microsoft offices. Mr. Zhang Mao, the head of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), told reporters that Microsoft has not been fully transparent with information about its Windows and Office sales, but that Microsoft has expressed willingness to cooperate with ongoing investigations.

In 2004, the European Union ordered Microsoft to pay a 497 million euro ($656 million) fine and produce a version of Windows without the Windows Media Player bundled. The fine was later increased to nearly 1.4 billion euros.

The SAIC said earlier this month that Microsoft had been suspected of violating China’s anti-monopoly law since June last year in relation to problems with compatibility, bundling and document authentication for its Windows operating system and Microsoft Office software.

On August 4, 2014, Microsoft Deputy General Counsel Mary Snapp met with the SAIC in Beijing where the regulator warned Microsoft to not obstruct the probe.

But industry experts have questioned how exactly Microsoft is violating anti-trust regulations in China, where the size of its business is negligible.

AUTOMOBILE AND AUTO PARTS PRODUCERS—CHRYSLER, MERCEDES-BENZ AND VOLKSWAGEN

On August 6, 2014, it was reported that the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) had announced that it would punish Audi and Chrysler for monopoly practices, potentially paving the way for the automakers to be fined up to 10 percent of their domestic annual sales revenue in the world’s biggest car market.

NDRC spokesman Li Pumin stated that an ongoing investigation into the two companies showed they had “conducted anti-competitive behaviors” and that “They will be punished accordingly in the near future.” The NDRC has recently finished a probe of a dozen Japanese auto parts manufacturers on similar anti-trust charges.

According to Li Pumin, “The purpose is to maintain a sound competitive order in the auto market and protect consumer interest.” The NDRC did not specify the punishment for Chrysler or Audi. Under the six-year-old antimonopoly law, the NDRC can impose fines of between 1 and 10 percent of a company’s revenues for the previous year.

In the  attached Article from Singapore’s Strait Times on the Auto Parts antitrust investigation, QUOTE STRAIT TIMES, which features my quote, Esther Teo for the Strait Times states:

Industry experts say automakers have too much leverage over car dealers and auto part suppliers, enabling them to control prices, considered as a violation of China’s anti-trust laws.  “Monopolistic practices are quite rampant in the auto industry. NDRC is first targeting imported luxury brands because the problem is most severe in this area,” said Yale Zhang, managing director of consultancy Automotive Foresight (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. “It’s also a warning signal to the industry. If top brands like Audi gets punishment, others would know what to do.”

Zhang said imported luxury cars in China cost, on average, 2-1/2 to three times their price in the United States. The price difference is due to higher import duties and other taxes, foreign carmakers have argued. . . .

NDRC spokesman Li Pumin reiterated at a briefing in Beijing yesterday that China will punish any violators of the law regardless of nationality. . . .

While Beijing has denied these allegations, experts say the high-profile probes are likely to have a chilling effect on the business climate unless there is more transparency about how the anti-monopoly law is being enforced. . . .

experts said more needs to be done to convince international firms that they are not being unfairly targeted. For instance, whether it is a foreign or domestic firm being investigated, the authorities should provide more detailed and public information on the reasons for the decision reached and how the fine was determined. Without such transparency, multinational firms might be less willing to invest in China, they added.

Mr William Perry, an international trade partner at Seattle-based law firm Dorsey & Whitney, told The Straits Times that the business climate for foreign firms is becoming increasingly “uncertain”. “This is likely to affect trade relations down the line, especially between the United States and China.”

DORSEY ARTICLE ON CHINA ANTITRUST

On August 25, 2014, Peter Corne, who heads Dorsey’s China practice, published the following article about the situation in China:

A Fine Season for Antitrust Enforcement in China

The World Cup has ended and visiting fans have returned home from Brazil’s hot and humid climate. Now, some companies are feeling a different kind of heat, as Chinese antitrust regulators step up their enforcement activities. The regulatory actions include an investigation into the sale of World Cup tickets to Chinese football fans. The practice at issue was the bundling of high-end tickets with hotel, transportation, and tour services. Beijing Shankai Sports Development Company Limited (“Shankai”), the exclusive dealer for World Cup tickets within Greater China, failed to clarify whether customers were free to buy the high-end tickets separately. Some employees of Shankai told customers that they could not buy high-end tickets separately. The State Administration of Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”) started its investigation soon after Shankai’s practice was exposed by State central television. Backed into a corner, Shankai had no option but to admit its guilt in the sordid tale and promised to rectify its misdemeanors, leading to the SAIC approving the target’s application for a suspension to the investigation.

In other enforcement news, China’s second antitrust enforcement agency, the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), has escalated its own enforcement efforts. NDRC branches in each of China’s northern (Beijing), central (Shanghai), and southern (Guangdong) coastal regions all had a part in what has turned into a ‘fine’ season for the optical industry in China. The practice in question involved ‘disguised’ recommended retail prices that, in reality, apparently amounted to resale price maintenance. Manufacturers of glasses and contact lenses adopted a carrot and stick approach: their distributors were punished for failing to sell the products at “recommended retail prices”, and rewarded if they did. Hoya and Weicon reportedly turned on the rest of the culprits in the industry by reporting the monopolistic activities to the NDRC and providing important evidence; in return, Hoya and Weicon were provided an amnesty from prosecution. The targeted companies (Essilor, Nikon, Carl Zeiss, Bausch & Lomb, and Johnson & Johnson) were fined RMB 8.79 million, RMB 1.68 million, RMB 1.77 million, RMB 3.69 million, and RMB 3.64 million, respectively (for a total of about $3.2 million /€2.38 million).

Not to be left out of the action, China’s third and remaining antitrust enforcement organ, the Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”), for only the second time in history, rejected a transaction: the attempted global joint alliance among Maersk, Mediterranean Shipping Company, and CMA CGM. MOFCOM determined that the tie-up would restrict or eliminate competition in the Asia-European shipping route, despite the deal’s having previously been approved by the US and European antitrust authorities.

In a MOFCOM-led multiple-ministry initiative to crack down on interregional trade barriers and industrial monopolies launched by 12 ministries at the end of 2013, MOFCOM sent questionnaires to companies in no fewer than 80 different industries to ascertain their level of compliance with antitrust legislation. This suggests that the enforcement net will soon be cast even wider. The automobile industry has already been snared, but that particular enforcement action may have resulted from a Ferrari distributor’s complaint to the industry association (when Ferrari suddenly terminated the distribution relationship) this past April.

Just before this briefing went to press, Microsoft China also started feeling the summer heat. On July 28, nearly 100 regulators from nine provincial branches of the SAIC converged on Microsoft in four different locations around the country.

This seems to have arisen out of a preliminary investigation that commenced about a year ago, in response to complaints by other companies concerning alleged bundling and other issues related to Windows and Office. At the preliminary investigation stage, Microsoft personnel were interviewed and Microsoft submitted answers to a series of questions. The SAIC still could not rule out antitrust infringement, so it proceeded to file a case and initiate its dawn raid. During the raid, Microsoft staff attempted to head off the interviews by begging lack of availability of the relevant people. The regulators apparently have managed to interview already, or have required attendance to interview, a Vice President, other senior management, and marketing and financial staff. During the raid, they copied contracts and financial statements and acquired internal correspondence including emails, and seized two computers.

In short, it may be summertime, but antitrust enforcement in China has not taken a vacation.

ARTICLES BY CHINESE ANTITRUST LAWYERS

AUTO PARTS ARTICLE

In the article, Analysis of NDRC Penalty Decision on 12 Auto Parts and Bearing Companies_AnJie_Michael Gu_Eng_20140830, Note of Caution: Record Fines on 12 Japanese Auto Parts and Bearing Manufactures – Analysis of the NDRC’s Penalty Decision and Countermeasures of Companies,Michael Gu, an antitrust partner in the AnJie Law Firm, in Beijing states:

Introduction

Within six years of implementation of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law, the China’s law enforcement agency responsible for supervising price monopoly, the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), continues to strengthen its law enforcement efforts with rounds of “antitrust storm” that swept across a number of industries and companies along with record fines.

This is especially true since 2013, the NDRC has probed into number of high-profile penalty cases, including the LCD Panel case, Moutai and Wuliangye case, Baby Formula case, Shanghai Gold Jewelers case and Spectacle Lenses case. Meanwhile, the NDRC has also launched investigation into the US high-tech giants, InterDigital and Qualcomm. For InterDigital case, the investigation has been suspended. As for Qualcomm case, Qualcomm has manifested their willingness to cooperate with the NDRC in its investigation and has submitted relevant commitment.

The “antitrust round up” of the automobile and auto parts industries is undoubtedly the most prominent case recently. Under such high pressure of antitrust law enforcement, a number of major foreign invested automobile manufacturers, including BMW, Benz, Audi, Toyota and Chrysler etc., have recently announced their price cut for auto parts. On August 20, the NDRC has announced its punishment of 12 Japanese auto parts and bearing companies who engaged in price related monopolistic behavior. Eight auto parts manufacturers are imposed fines totaling RMB 831.96 million (approximately USD 135.50 million), although Hitachi is exempted of the penalty. Four bearing manufacturers are imposed fines totaling RMB 403.44 million (approximately USD 65.70 million), although Nachi-Fujikoshi is exempted of the penalty. The combined amount of the fines reaches RMB 1.24 billion (approximately USD 200 million), setting up another record in China’s Anti-Monopoly Law’s enforcement.

This article will analyze the train of thought and trends of the NDRC’s anti-monopoly law enforcement, application of leniency program, impact of actions of the companies (including responses to investigations and illegal conducts) on the amount of the fines, and suggestions for relevant companies in dealing with antitrust investigation. . . .

Conclusion and Suggestions for the Companies

This record penalty decision demonstrates NDRC’s determination to intensify its antitrust law enforcement. Six years since the implementation of AML, the NDRC has taken more active and aggressive approach targeting a wider range in industries. This case will not be the finishing line, but merely a starting line that directs enforcement to areas closely related to the people’s livelihood, which have always been under its antitrust radar, such as petroleum, health care, telecommunication, pharmaceuticals, automotive, banks and consumer goods.

It is worth mentioning that the NDRC has indicated in its announcement that it will conduct further investigation following the leads uncovered in this case. Thus, the relevant companies should pay special attention to their possible monopolistic conduct related to this case or other auto parts and take necessary actions in a timely manner. They are strongly encouraged to report to the NDRC as early as possible in order to obtain exemption and reduction of fines.

The NDRC has adopted more stringent and definitive approach in application of leniency program. The NDRC has placed the leniency applicants in order and granted them exemption and reduction of fines accordingly. Companies need to seek professional advice in making leniency applications as to set up appropriate strategies in securing its first place by submitting the most important evidence to the NDRC within a short period of time and cooperating with the NDRC in its investigation.

The current heated antitrust law enforcement has posed unprecedented compliance challenges to all types of companies including foreign, domestic and even state-owned companies. Companies are suggested to take the following proactive measures to control and minimize risks associated with antitrust compliance:

1. Companies should conduct internal antitrust audit to inspect and evaluate potential antitrust risk with the assistance of external counsel. It’s also advisable to provide up-to-date and tailored antitrust trainings for senior management and employees, promote awareness of antitrust compliance.

2. For companies that are already found to be in potential violation of AML, it is recommended to voluntarily report to antitrust law enforcement agencies as soon as possible and to take rectification after seeking professional advice. Rectification measures may cover rectified sales policy and sales agreement that involves price-fixing and correction of conducts of price-fixing and collusive bidding, etc. Such measures shall be sufficient to maintain competition in the market and benefit the consumers.

3. Companies that have been dawn-raided by the antitrust law enforcement agencies should cope with the investigation appropriately, defend its legitimate interest and be proactive depending on the situation (e.g. propose defense regarding the gravity of the conduct and calculation of fines). In this case, Sumitomo has submitted written defense within one week of its receipt of the Prior-Notice of Administrative Penalty issued by NDRC. The defense addresses the miscalculation of turnover of joint venture that is involved. The NDRC has accepted its defense and granted a reduction of RMB 52.32 million in its fine. It can be seen that proactive approach and proposal of defense could help the companies avoid or mitigate penalties.

MICROSOFT ARTICLE

In the report on Chinese antitrust law by the Chinese T&D Law Firm, T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of July 2014, which will be attached to my blog, Chinese antitrust lawyer John Ren had this to say about the Microsoft case:

SAIC Initiates Anti-Monopoly Investigation on Microsoft

29 July, 2014 According to the information issued on the SAIC’s official website , on July 28, around 100 enforcement officials from the SAIC conducted dawn raids on Microsoft China and its branch companies in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. In June 2013, SAIC verified whether Microsoft violated the AML because of the allegation of the compatibility issue due to the non-full disclosure of information about the Windows operational system and office software, tying, and file validation, reported by other enterprises. During the verification, SAIC successively interviewed Microsoft and relevant enterprises, and Microsoft submitted the responding reports focusing on issues SAIC paid attentions to. In the period, relevant enterprises also continued to provide relevant information to SAIC. SAIC concluded that the preliminary verification cannot remove the suspicion of anti-competitive practices as mentioned above. Therefore, SAIC has initiated the investigation on Microsoft for its suspected anti-monopoly conducts pursuant to the relevant laws and regulations.

On July 28, 2014, according to the AML, SAIC conducted dawn raids on four of Microsoft’s business locations, i.e. Microsoft China and its branch companies in Shanghai, Guangzhou, and Chengdu. The personnel who were investigated included the Vice Presidents, senior management and the relevant staffs in the marketing, financial and other departments of Microsoft. The enforcement officials of SAIC copied some contracts and financial statements of Microsoft, extracted large amounts of electronic data including internal communication documents and emails, and sealed and removed two working computers. During the dawn raids, the investigation contents had not been fully completed, since according to Microsoft, some of the major staffs who need to be investigated were not in China at this stage. SAIC has instructed Microsoft to arrange relevant staffs to visit SAIC for being inspected as soon as possible.

Microsoft’s Chinese councils witnessed the entire enforcement practice conducted the by SAIC. Currently, the case is still under investigation.

NOW INDIA

Now India has followed China’s lead and its antitrust agency have hit 14 carmakers, including General Motors and Ford, with fines totaling 2,545 crore ($420.3 million) for violating India’s competition laws by allegedly restricting the ability of independent repair shops to enter the market.

The Competition Commission of India alleged the companies abused their dominant position by denying access to branded spare parts and diagnostic tools to independent repairers, hampering competition while allowing authorized dealers to charge higher prices.

SECURITIES

LIHUA

On August 15, 2014, William Peck filed the attached shareholder derivative suit, LIHUA COMPLAINT, in New York Federal District Court against Lihua International, Inc, Jianhua Zhu, Daphne Yan Huang, Yaying Wang, Robert C. Bruce, Jonathan P. Serbin, Siu Ki “Kelvin” Lau, Tian Bao Wang and Ming Zhang. Lihua is a China-based copper products company, and the attached complaint alleges materially false and misleading public filings that failed to disclose a substantial asset transfer out of the company by its former CEO. The shareholders say that eight executives and board members “knew nothing” about the former CEO’s alleged diversion of assets to another company, Power Apex Holdings Ltd., which the plaintiffs say is ultimately owned by the People’s Republic of China. The new derivative suit says the company is already being sued by two putative classes of shareholders who lost money in the stock drop.

CHINA MEDIA EXPRESS

On August 15, 2014, in the attached decision, CHINA MEDIA OPINION, a New York Federal Judge certified a class of investors in a class action securities case against China MediaExpress Holdings Inc. The Plaintiff allege the Chinese company concealed material information and made various misstatement and omissions that eventually led to a stock drop. The complaint was filed in February 2011.

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

VOLKSWAGEN

On August 25, 2014, there were reports out of China that the Chinese government has launched an anticorruption probe into a former and a current executive at one of Volkswagen AG ‘s China joint ventures. The Communist Party’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection accused Li Wu, a former deputy general manager at FAW-Volkswagen Automobile Co., and Zhou Chun, a deputy general manager of the joint venture’s Audi sales division, of “suspected serious violations of discipline and law.” The phrase is typically used in Chinese corruption cases.

DORSEY FCPA DIGEST

In the attached August edition of the FCPA Digest, DORSEY Anti_Corruption_Digest_Aug2014, Dorsey lawyers report on a corruption investigation involving China stating:

“China

It has been reported that China commenced an investigation into former domestic security chief, Zhou Yongkang, on suspicion of corruption. The Communist Party decided to question Zhou Yongkang for suspected “serious disciplinary violations”, according to the official Xinhua news agency. The investigation will be conducted by the Party’s watchdog, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection.

During Zhou Yongkang’s five-year appointment as security chief, he oversaw the police force, civilian intelligence apparatus, paramilitary police, judges and prosecutors.”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On August 6, 2014, Andrew Dennison filed the attached class action securities case against China Commercial Credit, Inc., Huichun Qin, Long Yi, Jianmin Yin, Jingeng Ling, Xiangdong Xiao and John F. Levy. CHINA COMMERCIAL

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—JULY 23, 2014

Dear Friends,

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

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

BEIJING ORGANIZATIONAL MEETING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT??

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

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

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

AUGUST ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

The specific countervailing duty cases are:

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

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

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

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

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

CHINA TRADE WAR EXPANDS IN LAST FEW DAYS

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

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

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

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

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

YES READER WE HAVE A TRADE WAR WITH CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ENFORCEMENT

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

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

Section 201 safeguard action on steel.

Coated free sheet paper cases.

Section 301 action against Chinese currency manipulation.

Section 301 action on Chinese workers’ rights violations.

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

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

Section 421 case on Chinese tires.

Oil Country Tubular Goods antidumping case.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

WTO RULES AGAINST THE US IN COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AGAINST CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SOLAR CASES

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

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

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

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

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

OCTG

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIRES

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

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

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

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

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

ACTIVATED CARBON

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

WOODFLOORING

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the story continues . . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINA ANTIDUMPING

CHICKEN

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

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

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

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

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

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

LOOM KITS

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

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

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

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

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

PRODUCTS LIABILITY–DRYWALL

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

As Judge Fallon states in the attached order:

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

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

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

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

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

COMPLAINTS

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

CFIUS—CHINESE INVESTMENT IN THE US

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

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

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

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

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

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

GENERAL LITIGATION–CONTRACT

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

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C AND AUO OPTRONICS

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

As the Brief states:

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

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

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

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

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

In the attached brief, the Plaintiffs responded:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COMPLAINTS

HONG KONG EXCHANGE

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

FOX CONN

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

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

MOFCOM–SHIPPING DISAPPROVAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

SED TALKS–CHINESE COMPETITION POLICY

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

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

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

SECURITIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

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

“Serious Fraud Office (“SFO”) Investigates GlaxoSmithKline

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Extent of corruption

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

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

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

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

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

Definition and characteristics of corruption

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

Corruption can be characterized by the following features:

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

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

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

Guanxi networks

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Guanxi networks and economic reforms in China

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

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

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

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

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

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

TO BE CONTINUED”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRADE, SOLAR, CUSTOMS, PATENTS, BANKING, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Washington Monument Vietnam Memorial Black Wall, Night Washingto“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—JUNE 18, 2014

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, solar cells, tires, banking, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas. In addition to the trade area, the banking and China antitrust areas have had important developments this month.

TRADE

SOLAR CASES

On June 3, 2014, Commerce issued its preliminary countervailing duty determination against China in the Solar Products case. The fact sheet and preliminary Federal Register notice are attached.  CVD PRELIM FED REG factsheet-prc-crystalline-silicon-photovoltaic-prod-cvd-prelim-060314

The Countervailing Duty Rates were much higher than expected with Trina getting 18.56%, Wuxi Suntech 35.21% and all other Chinese companies getting 26.89%. In the Solar Cells case, the average preliminary countervailing duty rate was only 3.61%.

Contrary to articles in the Press, however, this was just the countervailing duty/anti-subsidy determination against China. At the present time, Commerce has issued no determination regarding Taiwan. The Antidumping Preliminary determinations against China and Taiwan are not due to come out until July 24th.

The big issue, however, right now is Scope of the imported products covered by the preliminary determination. What specific products are covered by this decision? It is simply not clear yet. Clearly Chinese Solar Cells and Chinese products with solar cells that are partially produced in China and Taiwan are covered.

What is not clear is whether Chinese solar panels and modules with solar cells that are totally produced in Taiwan or solar cells that are produced in third countries are out of the case. Commerce issued a supplemental questionnaire to all the companies in the China case asking them whether the Solar Cells are partially produced in China. Many Chinese companies have their solar cells totally produced in Taiwan. Apparently, Chinese modules and panels with solar cells totally produced in Taiwan may be out of the China case.

If the modules and panels are produced in Taiwan or Third Countries with Taiwan solar cells, those products are not covered yet, because the Taiwan prelim has not come out yet. Taiwan is not covered until July 24th or slightly thereafter.

Another question is whether Chinese modules and panels that have solar cells from third countries, such as Korea or European countries, are covered by the Chinese case or not. We have heard of companies in China producing modules and panels using solar cells from Solar World in Germany. Are those Chinese modules and panels covered by the case? Not clear at the present time.

Recently, while in China, I met with Hanergy, a Chinese Photovoltaic Film producer. Hanergy told us that they can produce solar panels with the same power as the Polysilicon solar cell panels. If true, that is a game changer because the film is totally out of the case. Technology may be what makes the Solar World antidumping and countervailing duty actions against China irrelevant over time. For more information on Hanergy, see the video at https://www.dropbox.com/sh/v78cu853pdgncsq/AAAWisz0nNkCHRUp8XgTjW-fa.

Finally, as mentioned in my last blog, in April seven US Senators from Montana, Washington State and other States sent a letter to Vice President Biden asking for help in settling the Solar Cells and Solar Products antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China. As mentioned, however, although there have been efforts to negotiate a settlement with the Chinese government, to date the effort has failed.

Under US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Law, the petitioner, SolarWorld, would ultimately have to agree to any settlement/suspension agreement reached between the U.S. and China. Moreover, in contrast to the EU, Canada and China, there is no public interest test in US antidumping and countervailing duty law. Thus, the U.S. government cannot legally compel SolarWorld to accept the Agreement.

Persuading Solar World to agree to a suspension agreement in the US cases, however, is going to become much more difficult because of a filing on June 5th by the European Union solar panel manufacturers in the European Solar case alleging that over a hundred Chinese companies are violating the terms of a price undertaking arrangement, negotiated by the European Commission. EU ProSun President Milan Nitzschke said he believed every one of the Chinese exporters is breaching the undertaking.

One US Industry source reportedly stated, “It’s certainly raises concerns about the ability of the Chinese government or the Chinese producers to guarantee they will abide by any kind of an agreement. It would emphasize the need for very strong monitoring provisions and very strong enforcement by all of the U.S. government agencies.”

ANOTHER BLOCKBUSTER $2 BILLION ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE AGAINST TIRES FROM CHINA

On June 3, 2014, a union, the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, AFL-CIO, filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case aimed at $2 billion in imports of automobile and truck tires from China. The case is specifically described as Certain Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires from the People’s Republic of China.

Attached is a short form of the petition.  USITC PUB Petition Tires-Shortest Version-6-4-14 (2) The case targets about 60 to over 100 Chinese tire producers and exporters and well over 1,000 US importers. Under US antidumping and countervailing duty law, unions have standing to file cases, not just producers.

The Commerce Department preliminary countervailing duty determination will come out as soon as October 31, 2014, exposing the US importers to liability for Chinese tire imports, followed by the antidumping preliminary determination on December 30, 2014.

SRAS—NOT FILL IN THE FORMS EXERCISE—HARD NOSED LITIGATION

In the recent Tires case, the rumors are that Chinese law firms are charging as low as $6,000 to $10,000 for a separate rates application (“SRA”) at the Commerce Department for Chinese companies that are shipping $10s, if not 100s, of millions of dollars of tires to the United States. The problem with these legal fee quotes is that SRAs in antidumping and countervailing duty cases in the United States are not a fill in the form exercise. This is litigation against hard-nosed US trade litigators, who have been paid more than $1 to $3 million to throw as many Chinese companies as possible out of the US market.

Under the US antidumping law, the Commerce Department issues two questionnaires to Chinese producers and export companies. One questionnaire is a quantity and value questionnaire listing the total quantity and value of the Chinese company’s exports to the United States during the period of investigation, which in the Tires case is October 1, 2013 to March 31, 2014.

From the Chinese companies’ responses to the quantity and value questionnaires, the Commerce Department will create a list and will chose the top 2 to 5 companies out of the more than 50 to 100 companies in the investigation as “mandatory” respondents. In the Tires case, there will probably be more than 50 companies, but in the Wooden Bedroom Furniture case, it was close to 200 companies.

The 2 to 5 companies selected as mandatory respondents must respond to the entire 100 page antidumping questionnaire from Commerce, respond to numerous supplemental questionnaires, and be subject to verification. Chinese companies selected as mandatory respondents must pay very high legal fees in the $100,000 to $300,000 range depending upon the nature of the product subject to investigation. But there is a benefit to being a mandatory respondent. Only mandatory respondents can prove that they are not dumping and get completely out of the antidumping investigation.

The rest of Chinese companies must submit a separate rates application (“SRA”), which is long and detailed, to prove that the Chinese company is separate and independent from the Chinese Government. Based on the SRA, if accepted, the Commerce Department will give the Chinese company a separate dumping margin, which will usually be the weighted average rate of the Chinese companies selected as mandatory respondent.

If all mandatory companies are 0%, however, pursuant to section 735(c)(5) of the US antidumping law, 19 USC 1673d(c)(5), the Department excludes any rates that were zero when calculating the weighted-average rate assigned to non-mandatory respondents. If all the mandatory respondents get 0, the Commerce Department gets to pick an antidumping rate out of thin air. In preliminary Wood Flooring initial investigation, all three mandatory respondents received dumping rates of 0. What did the separate rate companies get–22.14%.

But if a Chinese company does not get a separate rate, Commerce assumes that it is part of the Chinese entity and gets the highest dumping rate. In the Wood Flooring case, the China wide rate is 63.96%, but in the Solar Cells case, the China wide rate is 250%, and in Wooden Bedroom Furniture the China wide rate is 216%

More importantly, preparing a SRA is not a fill in the forms exercise. The Commerce Department can reject SRAs. The SRA is reviewed by the law firm representing the US industry or union, and the lawyers will look for a reason to attack the SRA and throw the Chinese company out of the US market.

From comments on the SRA, Commerce will issue supplemental questionnaires to the separate rate companies and even conduct verification of the separate rate companies. In almost every single antidumping and countervailing duty case, the Commerce Department throws out a number of Chinese companies and refuses to give them separate rates. So in the Solar Cells case, those companies denied a separate rate or that simply did not get around to filing a SRA got a rate of 250% and were excluded from the US market for at least 2 and a half years.

The problem is the mindset. For the Chinese companies the SRA is a simple form that has to be filed out so the lowest price is the better price. Lawyers, however, do not sell commodities; they sell a service. I talked with one Chinese company in an antidumping case, who hired a very low cost Chinese lawyer to do the SRA. The Chinese law firm sent a young associate to do the SRA and then the Chinese company never saw or talked to the Chinese lawyer again. If a Chinese company that is selling 10s or 100s of millions of dollars in products to the US does not talk/meet with a US lawyer, it should start asking questions.

Meanwhile, US lawyers representing the US industry in antidumping and countervailing duty cases look at the case very differently. Recently, an article was published on how US lawyers look at representing the US industry in antidumping and countervailing duty cases. As one US lawyer stated: “You can’t cut corners . . . . The key to having as much control as you can in the case is knowing the record of evidence better than anyone in the case. You’ve got to take the time and put in the time to sit down and really soak in and understand the record.”

So US lawyers are paid enough to take the time to learn about the record and attack the Chinese companies, when the Chinese companies think this is a fill in the forms exercise and they are buying a commodity. The US lawyers representing the domestic industry are bringing cannons/big guns to the trade war when the Chinese companies are bringing pop guns/ toy guns to the trade war. No wonder so many Chinese companies get killed in US antidumping and countervailing duty cases creating enormous liability for US importers.

Old Chinese saying—This is truly picking up the sesame and losing the watermelon.

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS—CAFC OVERTURNS COMMERCE

Another problem for the non-mandatory Chinese companies and their US importers is the Aluminum Extrusions case. In the Aluminum Extrusions initial investigation, in the Countervailing duty (“CVD”) case, Commerce used Customs statistics to determine the mandatory respondents. Aluminum extrusions, however, is a very difficult commodity and imports come into the United States in basket tariff categories. All three Chinese mandatory respondent companies refused to respond to the Commerce Department CVD questionnaire, possibly because they were not exporting the product in question.

But two Chinese companies submitted voluntary responses and Commerce gave them 8 to 9% CVD rates. What did the rest of China get as the China Wide Countervailing Duty Rate—374%!!

Commerce took the position that it would not take the CVD rates for voluntary respondents into account in determining the CVD China Wide rate. Since the three mandatory respondents refused to respond, the rest of China got 374%.

This has become extremely dangerous because as explained in past blog posts, Commerce is expanding the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders to apply to downstream products and US importers of these downstream products could be exposed to retroactive liability or as much as 374% CVD rates on past imports.

Importers appealed, and on appeal the Court of International Trade forced China wide CVD rate down to about 137%, arguing that the All Facts Available Rate by Commerce was punitive and simply not commercially reasonable.

On June 3, 2014, in Maclean-Fogg Company v. United States, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in the attached 2-1 split decision reversed, holding that the Commerce Department must use the countervailing duty rates assigned to voluntary respondent companies to determine the China-wide rate.  MACLEAN FOGG

As the CAFC stated:

“The statute is clear that voluntary respondents are “exporters or producers” subject to “individual examination.” The rates calculated for them are “individual countervailable subsidy rate[s].” Within the countervailing duty statute, “investigation”/”examination” and “investigated”/“ examined” are used interchangeably. . . .

This reasoning lacks support because the general rule itself specifies its own exclusions: “any zero and de minimis margins, and any margins determined entirely on the basis of the facts available.” § 1671d(c)(5)(A)(i). The existence of exclusions means that Congress intended all “weighted average countervailable subsidy rates established for exporters and producers individually investigated” be factored into the calculation unless the conditions for exclusion are met. . . .

We thus conclude that the Court of International Trade erred in holding that the statute is ambiguous on the question of whether the countervailing duty rates (other than zero or de minimis) of voluntary respondents must be included in the general rule for calculation of the all-others rate. Because the statute is clear that such voluntary respondent rates must be included in the general all-others rate calculation, Commerce’s regulatory interpretation to the exact contrary is invalid. Commerce’s rationale for its regulation is therefore irrelevant and cannot serve to create ambiguity where none exists.

Accordingly, “exporters and producers individually investigated” in the context of 19 U.S.C. § 1671d(c)(5)(A) must be read to encompass the voluntary respondents. On the current facts, the precondition for invoking the exception provision, that “the countervailable subsidy rates established for all exporters and producers individually investigated are zero or de minimis rates, or are determined entirely under section 1677e of this title,” has not been met. §1671d(c)(5)(A)(ii). We reverse the decision of the Court of International Trade and remand for determination of the all-others rate under the general rule, § 1671d(c)(5)(A)(i).

REVERSED AND REMANDED”

In commenting on this decision, several trade lawyers have stated that since the Commerce Department takes so few voluntary respondents in cases, this decision will not have that much effect on future Commerce Department antidumping and countervailing duty cases. Commerce is simply individually investigating so few respondent companies these days that this decision will simply not have any impact.

AD ORDERS ON FRONT SEATING VALVES AND HEDP ACID LIFTED

In May and June, the Commerce Department lifted antidumping orders against front seating valves and 1-Hydroxyethiylidene-1,1-Diphosphonic Acid (HEDP) from China. See the attached notices.  FRONT SEATING VALVES ORDER REVOKED HEDP REVOKED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the story continues . . . .

As the negotiations continue, there appear to be major differences between the United States, Japan and Canada on various agricultural products. On June 3, 2014, representatives of 39 Dairy Companies stated that they would withdraw their support for a Trans-Pacific Partnership deal if Canada and Japan do not open their markets to more US dairy products. As stated in the attached June 3rd letter, Dairy_Letter_0603:

“ It is clear, however, that Japan, as well as Canada, continues to strongly resist living up to the ambitious trade goals it obligated itself to undertake upon joining TPP negotiations. The U.S. dairy industry has been a leading and long‐standing advocate for comprehensive market access and the inclusion of Japan and Canada in TPP.

Yet, we have held realistic expectations and recognize that the perfect should not be the enemy of the good. However, as reported in the media, Japan’s recent comments on market access progress show appallingly little substantive movement, and come nowhere close to our expectations. Canada will likely try to base its decisions on dairy market access off of what Japan commits to do for its most sensitive agricultural sectors, thus heightening the importance of achieving meaningful dairy market access to Japan.

We urge you to insist that TPP must remain a high standard trade agreement that can be used as a model for future U.S. free trade agreements. All TPP countries must do their part to ensure this undertaking lives up to its founding goals of comprehensive and meaningful market access. We are prepared to match the level of ambition of Japan and Canada, and urge you to press both to provide a very strong dairy package. Our industry must not provide any new access in this agreement that has not been given by those countries.

In addition, it is vital that TPP address serious non‐tariff policies by the New Zealand government that have uniquely advantaged the largest dairy exporting company in both the TPP region and the world. Tariffs are a critical component of this agreement, but not the only element.

It remains our hope that TPP negotiations with Japan and Canada can be concluded in a manner that will allow for strong support across our industry. However, our support for TPP is not unconditional. The elements cited here, which largely remain unresolved, must be concluded in a positive manner or our industry will find it difficult to support the final agreement.

Similarly, our industry has been a strong supporter of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and would expect to continue to support it in the future. However, should Japan and Canada not commit to minimum standards and basic market‐based principles as many other TPP countries have done, we would need to re‐examine our support for TPA.”

On June 10th, Hiroyuki Ishige, chairman of the Japanese External Trade Organization, a Japanese trade official, reportedly told a Washington think tank that resolving the issues keeping the pact from moving forward would take compromise on both sides, and that there was no such thing as a “perfect” TPP.

On June 11, 2014, Congressman Devin Nunes, a Republican Congressman from California, who is Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, Subcommittee on Trade, responded Nunes Opening Statement_ Hearing on Advancing the U.S. Trade Agenda_ Benefits of Expanding U.S. Agriculture Trade and Eliminating Barriers to U.S. Exports:

“Third, we must tear down tariff and non-tariff barriers to U.S. agriculture. Tariffs must be eliminated without exclusion. In negotiations for the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, I am concerned that the Administration is not holding Japan and Canada to the level of ambition that Congress has demanded. In some cases a long time frame may be warranted, but there has to be a path to zero. If any countries insist on retaining tariffs, then we must complete the negotiations without them and allow them to rejoin when they can commit to full tariff elimination.

A growing concern is non-tariff barriers, particularly unwarranted sanitary and phytosanitary or SPS measures. While countries can implement measures to protect human, animal, and plant health, many measures are actually thinly veiled protectionist barriers that ignore science and international standards, and do not enhance food safety in any way. I’m pleased that the Administration has heard Congress’s message that only strong, enforceable rules will ensure that SPS measures are transparent, science-based, and are not unduly restrictive. I am particularly concerned by European restrictions on the use of generic food names, which the EU improperly designates as geographical indications. This threatens the U.S. dairy industry and cannot be tolerated. The TPP and U.S.-EU trade negotiations are good opportunities to reduce both tariff and non-tariff barriers. To gain support in Congress, these agreements must result in complete market access.

Fourth, to strengthen USTR’s position in trade negotiations, we must pass Trade Promotion Authority without delay. The Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act introduced earlier this year would establish clear direction to open agriculture markets and address unwarranted SPS measures and other trade barriers. If the Administration finishes these negotiations before TPA is granted, it will not get the best deal for our farmers or other exporters. Therefore, I call on the Administration to focus on passing TPA in Congress before completing TPP.”

On June 10, 2014, after a trip to China, Congressman Aaron Shock, Republican from Illinois, stated that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is the best way to motivate China to make reforms needed for it to be ready to join the deal. Schock said negotiating a “level playing field” with China would be a good thing, but Beijing is not yet ready to meet the standards of the TPP deal under negotiation. Shock further stated at a Washington DC think tank, “But there’s nothing like competition to get your act in order.”

On June 16,2014, Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Devin Nunes (R-CA) released the following statements on the 80th anniversary of Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) WAYS AND MEANS ANNOUNCE:

Chairman Camp stated, “This month marks the 80th anniversary of the enactment of the Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act. Since its passage, every President, until now, has partnered with Congress to have this powerful tool to negotiate the best possible trade deals for America. I urge the Administration to pull out the stops to assure passage of the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, which strengthens the role of Congress in trade negotiations and gives the President the ability to negotiate the very best deals for U.S. exporters, creating good jobs that pay well.”

Chairman Nunes added, “History is on our side. TPA-style legislation has worked for 80 years to produce high quality agreements that create U.S. jobs. But this President doesn’t have this valuable tool. Unless he acts quickly to work with us to pass the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Promotion Authority Act of 2014, he will be unable to deliver ambitious trade agreements that benefit our economy.”

JUNE ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On June 2, 2014, Commerce published in the Federal Register the attached notice JUNE REVIEWS COMMERCE regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of June. The specific antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China are: Artist Canvas, Chlorinated Isocyanurates, Furfuryl Alcohol, High Pressure Steel Cylinders, Polyester Staple Fiber, Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand, Silicon Metal, and Tapered Roller Bearings (TRB).

For those US import companies that imported chlorinated iscocyanurates, polyester staple fiber, silicon metal and TRBs and the other products listed above from China during the period June 1, 2013-May 31, 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

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

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

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

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

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

Two Congressmen have now agreed to meet importers in the New Jersey/NY area and in the Long Beach area to listen to their grievances regarding the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws. We are now contacting many Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they are interested in participating in the Alliance.

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

At the end of July, we plan an organizational meeting in Beijing, China with interested Chambers of Commerce and Chinese companies to explain the project in more detail and to seek help contacting US importers about the Alliance.

CUSTOMS—FALSE CLAIMS ACT

On May 15, 2014, in the attached decision, ORDER 2 SOUTHEASTERN in United States, ex rel and James Valenti vs. Robert Wingfield, Northeastern Aluminum Corp., William Ma, Southeastern Aluminum Products, Waterfall Group and C. R. Lawrence, a Federal District Judge denied a motion to dismiss in a false claims act targeting imports of Chinese aluminum extrusions transshipped through Malaysia. U.S. District Judge Brian J. Davis denied the motion from C.R. Laurence Company Inc. and Southeastern Aluminum Products Inc., which had argued that the government failed to sufficiently allege that they knowingly submitted false statements to U.S. Customs and Border Protection to avoid paying duties on imports of aluminum extrusions.

As Judge Davis stated, “These facts, accepted as true, provided a sufficient basis for the government’s claim that CRL conspired … to avoid duties on the aluminum exports and imports in violation of the [False Claims Act].”

In a separate order, the judge issued a similar denial of Southeastern’s dismissal motion, finding that the company’s claims that it was merely a buyer did not shield it from the government’s allegations.

According to the government and whistleblower James Valenti, who helps U.S. companies find foreign sources of aluminum extrusions, C.R. Laurence, Southeastern and several other companies and individuals conspired to ship Chinese-made aluminum extrusions through Malaysia in order to avoid the duties. Valenti filed his suit under seal in April 2013, and the government chose to intervene roughly six months later, although it dropped several defendants.

In its intervening complaint, the government alleged that a sales director for Chinese manufacturer Tai Shan Golden Gain Aluminum Products Ltd. conspired with C.R. Laurence, Southeastern and Waterfall Group LLC to avoid the countervailing duties by shipping the aluminum extrusion products though Malaysia.

A purportedly Malaysian subsidiary of Tai Shan also allegedly undervalued the imported aluminum, causing the amount of declared duties to be lower. According to the government, by submitting inaccurate country of origin and import value information to Customs, the companies committed Customs fraud and violated the FCA.

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA

With regards to the Chinese ban on shellfish from the West Coast, on June 10, 2014, the Washington State Department of Health announced that China recently advised the NOAA at Commerce that it was lifting the ban on imports of live shellfish from Washington and Alaska stating:

June 10, 2014 update

Areas Cleared for Geoduck Export to China

Officials from China recently advised NOAA that they lifted the ban on imports of live shellfish from Washington and Alaska. The Department of Health provided NOAA with a summary of the results of inorganic arsenic testing in Washington State to date and NOAA has agreed to “clear” [certain] areas for geoduck export to China.  See http://www.doh.wa.gov/CommunityandEnvironment/Shellfish/CommercialShellfish/ChinaBan.aspx.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

On June 13, 2014, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) issued a notice in the 337 patent enforcement proceeding, Certain Two-Way Global Satellite Communication Devices, System and Components Thereof, announcing the issuance of a civil penalty of $6,242,500 for violation of the Consent Order on 227 separate days by a US importer.  VIOLATION OF CONSENT ORDER 337 $6 MILLION FINE

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

On May 13, 2014, SAWT Inc. and Shanghai Aeolus Windpower Technology Co. sued Joe Moore Construction Inc. d /b/a Wind Sun Energy Systems and Urban Green Energy Inc. for infringement of US patents.  CHINA WIND CASE

On May 13, 2014, SHM International Corp. sued Chant Heat Energy Science & Technology (Zhongshan) Co., Ltd. and Guangdong Chang Group Inc. for breach of contract, breach of a confidentiality agreement, interference with customers, and unfair competition.  GRILL EQUIPMENT

On June 12, 2014, Parthenon Unified Memory Architecture LLC sued Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Huawei Technologies USA, Inc. and Huawei Device USA, Inc. for patent infringement.  HUAWEI

BANKING

On June 16, 2014, the US U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7-1 decision in Republic of Argentina v. NML Capital Ltd., which will send a shiver through many foreign banks, including Chinese banks. In the atthached decision, SUPREME COURT ARGENTINA CASE the Supreme Court held no provision in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (“FSIA”) immunizes a foreign-sovereign judg­ment debtor from post judgment discovery of information concerning its extraterritorial assets. In other words, third parties can engage in broad discovery of a foreign sovereign’s assets in third countries.

Specifically, the Supreme Court upheld lower court rulings allowing hedge fund, NML Capital Ltd. to engage in broad discovery as part of its long-running case dispute with the Republic of Argentina over a 2001 bond default, including allowing the fund to review Argentine military records. The Supreme Court affirmed decisions at the district court and Second Circuit levels that required two third-party banks to comply with subpoenas related to Argentina’s assets held outside of U.S. courts’ jurisdiction as part of the discovery process in the dispute between Argentina and NML. As Justice Scalia writing for the Court majority stated “The prospect that NML’s general request for information about Argentina’s worldwide assets may turn up information about property that Argentina regards as immune does not mean that NML cannot pursue discovery of it.” Although discovery of Argentine assets in third countries may turn up property that Argentina regards as immune, according to the Supreme Court, that is an issue for the relevant Federal district lower court to settle.

It is interesting to note that the Court rejected the position of the US government, which had backed Argentine’s position. The US fears that if U.S. courts are allowed to call for broad discovery rulings against assets held by foreign governments held outside of U.S jurisdiction, then foreign courts may attempt the same with U.S. assets around the world. According to the Court, these areas of law are to be left for Congress to change, if it chooses, not the courts.

At the same time, the Supreme Court denied Argentina’s attempt to appeal of a lower court’s ruling that it has to pay $1.4 billion owed to hedge fund NML, despite the country’s warning that the payment could force it into another default.  In its cert petition, Argentina argued the high court must intervene in its dispute with NML because the lower court decisions violate Argentina’s sovereignty.

The Second Circuit Court of Appeals had found that Argentina, which has repeatedly said it will not pay the holdout bondholders no matter what the U.S. courts decide, was bound by the terms of the original bond offering and had to pay debt holders that didn’t participate in the restructuring in full whenever it made payments to those bondholders that had agreed to the restructuring.  Argentina argued that it “must reward NML with a massive litigation windfall or face a court-ordered default, which could trigger a renewed economic catastrophe with severe consequences for millions of ordinary Argentine citizens.”

In response to the Court decision, Argentina’s President Kirchner stated that Argentina will respect its debt, but will not accept any extortion by holdout bond holders.

ANTITRUST

In the attached series of antitrust cases, companies are suing banks, including the Hong Kong Exchanges & Clearing Ltd, for triple damages under Section 1 and Section 2 of the Sherman act for conspiring to drive up prices of aluminum and zinc through the London Metal Exchange.  IOWA HK EXCHANGE HONG KONG EXCHANGE

On June 16th, the Hong Kong Exchange filed the attached motion, HKEX BRIEF OUT OF LITIGATION arguing that the New York Federal District Court should throw out the complaint against the Hong Kong Exchange because the court has no jurisdiction because the Exchange has little to no connections with the United States.

Reportedly the US Justice Department is also looking at the alleged price fixing scheme.

On June 12, 2014, Leslie Overton, the Deputy Assistant Attorney General of the Antitrust Division at the US Justice Department gave the attached speech Leslie C Overton – International Antitrust Engagement -Benefits and Opportunities 6-12-14 on international antitrust engagement, benefits and opportunities.  In that speech Overton stated:

“Both older and newer antitrust agencies have come to regard cooperation with their international counterparts as an important tool in ensuring effective competition enforcement. . . . Similarly, in the cartel context, the interaction between U.S. antitrust enforcers and their international counterparts continues to increase as more countries – including emerging economies – have come to understand the significant harm inflicted by hard core cartels, such that international cartels are likely to be pursued and prosecuted by more than one antitrust authority.

What explains this trend towards increased cooperation in antitrust enforcement?  For the antitrust agencies, the benefits of cooperation are significant. Cooperation increases the efficiency of enforcement efforts by facilitating the ability of agencies to exchange information and evidence. . . . Open and candid dialogue among enforcers helps us better understand competitive dynamics worldwide, and provides opportunities to discuss theories of harm and best practices.  It facilitates the transfer of knowledge and experience from more established agencies to newer agencies, and may help newer agencies avoid reinventing the wheel when confronting issues for the first time.

The growing incidence of effective case cooperation strengthens close ties between many enforcement agencies, at both the staff and senior manager levels.  Additionally, many of our international counterparts have told us they value having “front office” to “front office” contacts.  To this end, the Antitrust Division’s Director of Civil Enforcement, Patty Brink, is responsible for day-to-day international case cooperation in the civil context. Her direct, sometimes daily, contact with her international counterparts has helped keep several investigations on track to successful conclusion. . . .

Turning to the Antitrust Division’s criminal antitrust enforcement program, as former Deputy Assistant Attorney General (DAAG) Scott Hammond explained last fall, the Division has cooperated extensively in recent years with the Japanese Fair Trade Commission (JFTC) on investigations and prosecutions of Japanese companies and executives accused of fixing prices for auto parts installed in U.S. cars, including seat belts, air bags and steering wheels.  The JFTC has substantially assisted the Antitrust Division in its investigation, which has thus far resulted in 24 individuals and 27 companies agreeing to plead guilty and more than $2 billion in criminal fines.  Former DAAG Hammond noted that “[w]e are grateful for [the JFTC’s] assistance [in this investigation] as it has benefitted both Japanese and American businesses and consumers.”

We also engage in important international cooperation beyond the case-specific context.  We have a number of bilateral cooperation agreements where the U.S. government or U.S. antitrust agencies are parties. For example, in 2011, the DOJ and the FTC entered a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the three agencies that enforce the Chinese anti-monopoly law, as well as an MOU with the Indian competition agencies in 2012.

We had our second annual bilateral consultation with the Chinese anti-monopoly law agencies in Beijing this past January, and planning is well underway for the third later this year in Washington.  This past November, the U.S. agencies had their first official bilateral consultation with the Indian agencies.

We and the FTC have had valuable bilateral discussions with these and other counterparts about a number of issues, such as the importance of sound economics-based analysis, transparency, and procedural fairness, which are in the interest of our consumers and theirs.  I can tell you that such bilateral discussions are quite candid, and where we have concerns we raise them with our international counterparts, while still respecting appropriate confidentiality regarding such enforcer-to-enforcer exchanges.”

 

Recently, this international cooperation was on display in Beijing on May 21-23, 2014 at an ABA Conference on Antitrust in Asia: China, at which speakers from the US FTC, Justice Department, the Chinese government’s NDRC and Ministry of Commerce and Competition Agencies from Japan, Korea, Singapore, and Australia to name a few spoke about various antitrust issues, including cartels. The point is that international cartels are now the target of not only US antitrust actions, but antitrust actions all over the world and the various competition agencies in a number of different countries are talking to each other. Companies can run, but they can no longer hide from antitrust cases.

COMPLAINTS

On May 30, 2014, Viewsonic filed the attached antitrust case against a number of Japanese, Korean and Chinese companies alleging that the companies had created a cartel to fix the prices of cathode ray tubes.   Some of the Chinese target companies are Chunghwa Picture Tubes, Beijing Matsushita and Samsung China Companies.  TELEVISIONS ANTITRUST

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

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

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

MOFCOM’s decision to not allow the alliance marked the culmination of a review under China’s merger-control rules over the effect the agreement would have on trade routes that involve Chinese ports. Other shipping routes that did not involve ports in China were not considered as part of the review.  The Chinese regulatory body said that the proposed deal would have significantly enhanced the market power of Maersk and its partners, led to greater concentration in the relevant market and raised barriers to companies seeking to enter the market.

Maersk and its partners announced the agreement to establish the P3 network in June 2013.  The overall aim of the alliance was to make container liner shipping more efficient and improve service quality for the shippers due to more frequent and reliable services.

MOFCOM’s decision to block the merger marks the first time it has stopped a merger since 2009, when it stopped Coca-Cola Co.’s $2.5 billion bid to buy Chinese juice and beverage company Huiyuan Juice Group Ltd., which was the first time China had halted any proposed acquisition after the country’s antimonopoly law took effect in 2008.

On June 9, 2014, MOFCOM reported that China has launched a review into potential anticompetitive behavior across 80 major industries, including autos, pharmaceuticals and alcoholic drinks. Beijing last year stepped up a crackdown on antitrust practices. The Commerce Ministry’s review is part of a campaign launched last December targeting practices that hinder free market competition, such as setting up protectionist policies against companies from other cities and provinces, and granting unfair subsidies.

On June 16, 2014, it was reported that in reviewing the Microsoft Nokia merger, MOFCOM had revealed 310 Microsoft patents used in Android licensing Agreements. Up to that date Microsoft had never revealed the patents and fees in the licensing deals, unless required to do so in a courtroom. However, documents posted on the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (MOFCOM)’s website detail the full range of patents (http://www.mofcom.gov.cn/article/difang/henan/201404/20140400547823.shtml) included within licensing agreements. A list detailing all 310 patents can be found here http://images.mofcom.gov.cn/pep/201404/20140408143159274.docx).

Attached is the May Antitrust Report by T&D Associates, a Chinese law firm.  TD Monthly Antitrust Report of May 2014 One article in the report states that the NDRC has suspended its antitrust investigation of the US company, Interdigital:

“The NDRC decided to suspend the price monopoly investigation of IDC Co., US, and is continuing to supervise the fulfillment of the IDC’s promises to eliminate monopolistic conduct and its results.

According to reports, the NDRC initially launched an antitrust investigation of IDC in June 2013, and obtained evidence of IDC’s monopolistic price conduct. The related persons in charge of IDC came to the NDRC to participate in the inquiry twice, in July 2013 and January 2014. IDC was suspected of being involved in abusing their dominant position in the wireless communication standard-essential-patent market. This monopolistic conduct included setting unfair high licensing fees for Chinese corporations, requiring the reverse free licensing of corporations patents, bundling non standard-essential-patents licenses, and bundling standard-essential-patents, etc.

In the period of the investigation, the IDC actively cooperated with the authorities and reached a settlement agreement with Hua Wei on licensing fees and other clauses, and stated that it would negotiate with other Chinese corporations using the conditions agreed upon with Hua Wei as a standard. IDC submitted a petition to suspend the investigation and presented the specific measures for eliminating the results of monopolistic conduct, including not setting unfairly high licensing fees for Chinese corporations, not bundling the licensing of non standard-essential-patents and standard-essential-patents, not requiring the reverse licensing of patents of the corporations freely and not forcing Chinese corporations to accept unreasonable licensing conditions through direct lawsuits.

Concerning that the measures submitted by IDC can eliminate the results of the monopolistic conduct that originally invited suspicion, ensuring that Chinese corporations can compete fairly in the market and market competition order can be restored, the NDRC made the decision to suspend the investigation pursuant to Article 45 of the Antitrust Law and will ensure that IDC will fulfill its promises. NDRC will resume the investigation if IDC fails to fulfill its promises or other legal conditions occur.”

In the United States, in the attached response to written questions from the Senate Finance Committee, FROMAN RESPONSE specifically Senator Sherrod Brown, who raised questions about Chinese government’s enforcement of its anti-monopoly laws as a tool to pursue its industrial policy, USTR Froman stated recently:

“Sen. Sherrod Brown:

Question 6

The government of China is increasingly using its anti-monopoly laws as a tool for pursuing its nationalist industrial policies. As noted in USTR’s most recent National Trade Estimates report, China’s NDRC has in the past year significantly increased its anti-monopoly activity especially against foreign companies. As the report notes, there is significant concern about abuses of the antimonopoly law by the NDRC, including intimidation and pressure on U.S. companies to cooperate in the face of unspecified allegations, steep fines, and other forms of coercion. Does USTR have adequate legal authority and tools to address such forms of unfair competition, which do not fall neatly into the categories of prohibited activities embodied in the WTO agreements? What other tools would you find useful to address such practices?

Answer

USTR is working intensively, in cooperation with other U.S. government agencies and key trading partners, via both bilateral and multilateral engagement, to combat China’s use of the anti-monopoly law as a tool for pursuing industrial policies. We are pressing China hard, building on China’s leaders’ stated commitments to a level playing field and the rule of law. We are committed to continued intensive engagement on this important concern.”

 

It is interesting to note that Shang Ming, DJ Shang, the present Director-General of the Anti-Monopoly Bureau of MOFCOM’s merger office, used to be the Director of the Bureau of Treaties and Law at MOFCOM. Treaties and Law at one point in time was in charge of the Chinese government’s response to US and other foreign antidumping and countervailing duty cases. In other words, Shang Ming had to deal with the protectionist policies of the US Commerce Department in antidumping and countervailing duty cases. What goes around does indeed come around.

SECURITIES

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

In the the attached May edition of the FCPA Digest, May_2014_Digest_052814 Dorsey lawyers report on several corruption investigations involving China and Hong Kong stating:

“Johnson Controls Discloses FCPA Investigation in China

In a recent SEC filing, Johnson Controls, Inc. announced that it had self-reported to the United States Department of Justice and the Securities Exchange Commission that it commenced an internal investigation in July of 2013 into possible FCPA violations in China. The possible violations date back to 2007.

Johnson Controls is one of the world’s largest manufacturers of building maintenance systems and controls, which include temperature and air regulation controls found in most large-scale buildings and industrial facilities. The company also manufactures temperature control systems for vehicles and boats, among others.  According to Johnson Control’s disclosure, the focus of the investigation is Johnson Control’s “Building Efficiency marine business in China, dating back to 2007,” which reported annual sales ranging from $20 million to $50 million during this period. No further information has been provided regarding the nature of the possible FCPA violations.

Avon Settles FCPA Allegations for $135 Million

On May 1, the beauty products company Avon announced that it had “reached an understanding” with the Department of Justice and SEC to resolve allegations that the company had violated the FCPA. Of the $135 million, $68 million will go to the DOJ, and $67 million to the SEC. The deal includes a three-year deferred prosecution agreement with the DOJ, and the institution of a compliance monitor for at least 18 months.

The agreement resolves charges relating to alleged bribes of Chinese foreign officials as evidenced by a 2005 internal audit report that concluded Avon employees may have been engaging in conduct in China that violated the FCPA relating to dollars spent on “travel, entertainment and other expenses” in convincing Chinese officials to allow the door-to-door direct marketer to enter the Chinese market.

By the end of 2013, Avon had reportedly spent approximately $300 million on its internal FCPA investigation, and as a result of the fallout after its initial disclosure in 2012, CEO Andrea Jung was asked to leave the company in 2012.

SEC Threatens Enforcement Action against Qualcomm

On April 24, Qualcomm, Inc., the world’s largest mobile chipmaker, disclosed in an SEC filing that it was the subject of an SEC investigation relating to allegations that the microchip giant had bribed officials in China’s state-owned firms. The disclosure announced that Qualcomm had received a Wells Notice from the SEC on March 13, recommending an enforcement action against the company.

The Wells Note stems from an SEC investigation that started in 2012 after a whistleblower complaint informed the SEC that Qualcomm had conducted an internal investigation and unearthed evidence of “special hiring consideration, and gifts or other benefits” provided to Chinese officials. Qualcomm’s disclosure estimates the value of the possible benefits in question to be “less than $250,000, excluding employment compensation.”

Goldman Sachs Being Probed For Hiring Practices

Earlier this month Goldman Sachs Group, Inc. disclosed in its Form 10-Q that it was the subject of an ongoing FCPA investigation by the SEC regarding its hiring practices outside the United States. The investigation centers around Goldman’s practice of hiring relatives of well-connected officials in Asia, and whether such hiring may run afoul of the FCPA.

The inquiry into Goldman’s hiring practices is part of a larger investigation into the hiring practices of other international banks, including Credit Suisse, Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, and UBS AG. In 2013, several news reports surfaced regarding the hiring practices of Wall Street banks in China.

A recent example is JP Morgan’s hiring of Wen Ruchun, the daughter of Wen Jiaboa, a former Chinese prime minister. Wen Ruchun allegedly received $75,000 per month from JP Morgan via a consulting company – Fullmark Consultants. Last year, The New York Times reported that the “practice of hiring the children of government officials was so widespread that banks competed to see who could hire the most politically connected recent college graduates.” . . . .

Hong Kong

According to reports, two of Hong Kong’s wealthiest tycoons went on trial on Thursday 8 May 2014 in the city’s biggest corruption case to date.

Brothers Thomas and Raymond Kwok, who jointly chair the development company Sun Hung Kai Properties, and Hong Kong’s former chief secretary Rafael Hui were arrested in connection with alleged bribes payments and unsecured loans amounting to HK$34 million (c.$4.38 million).

According to reports, five people were arrested in connection with the payments. The others include another Sun Hung Kai director, Thomas Chan, and Francis Kwan, the former non-executive director of the investment company, New Environmental Energy Holdings.

As stated in a Department of Justice indictment, Sun Hung Hui, faces eight charges, some of which relate to receiving payments in return for being “favourably disposed to Sun Hung Kai Properties… and Thomas Kwok and Raymond Kwok” while in office. The charges against Sun Hung Hui reportedly also relate to rent-free use of luxury apartments and acceptance of unsecured loans.

Thomas Kwok, is reported to face three charges of conspiracy to commit misconduct in public office and his brother Raymond to have been charged with four offences including furnishing false information, according to the document.

The arrests have renewed discussion on links between wealthy tycoons and officials in the Asian financial centre that have raised public suspicion for some time. The head of Social Sciences at the Hong Kong Institute of Education told AFP is quoted saying: “This case will reinforce the public perception that the Hong Kong government has been vulnerable to the possible influence of the capitalist class”.

It is said that former Hong Kong chief executive Donald Tsang ended his term in June 2012 after admitting to accepting gifts from tycoons such as trips on luxury yachts and private jets. According to reports, Hong Kong billionaire Joseph Lau was found guilty in March of this year of bribing a former minister in the gambling district of Macau in an attempt to purchase a prime development site.

The hearing took place at Hong Kong’s High Court on 8 May 2014.”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On May 7, 2014, a class action securities complaint was filed by Jeffrey Grodko versus Lihua International Inc., Jianhua Zhu, and Daphne Yan Huang.  LIHUA COMPLAINT

On May 25, 2014, a class action securities complaint was filed by Ming Yang against Tibet Pharmaceuticals, Hong Yu, Taylor Z. Guo, Sabrina Y. Ren, Wenbo Chen, Youhang Pen, Solomen Chen, Anderson & Strudwick Inc., Sterne Agee Group, Inc., Hayden Zou and L. McCarthy Downs III. TIBET PHARMACEUTICALS

If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRADE, PATENTS, CUSTOMS, US/CHINA ANTITRUST, SECURITIES

Summer Palace Clear Blue Sky Beijing, China“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—MAY 6, 2014

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, solar cells, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

REASON FOR THIS NEWSLETTER

Some readers have commented that this newsletter is too long and should be broken up into separate parts. I disagree. Although separate sections are clearly marked so that readers can review the section of interest, this newsletter and my blog will cover all the different legal areas, because these different legal areas are interrelated. The evidence is that we have a trade war and Chinese government officials look at all the legal areas as a whole not in small parts.

Many US lawyers and government officials have been able to downplay the interrelationship of the various trade issues by saying, “This is an antidumping/trade issue or this is an antitrust/competition issue.”

The problem is that many Chinese government and corporate officials do not view the overall trade relationship with the United States in neat separate legal boxes. The Chinese look at the relationship overall, and this newsletter started up because when one follows the situation it is obvious that the trade war is spreading into many different legal areas. As one Chinese antitrust lawyer told me, the Chinese look at their antitrust/antimonopoly law as a “weapon” in the trade war. One only has to look at the article below by Peter Corne on the “Dawn Raids” under Chinese antitrust law to see how serious the situation is.

The Commerce Department’s decision over the last 30 years to use bogus surrogate values to create a fake cost of production to wipe out billions of dollars in Chinese imported products from the United States is not fair or just and has goaded the Chinese government into responding. The Chinese Government understands that the only issue that the US Government respects is political power. So if the US can twist its trade law for industrial policy and protectionist purposes, the Chinese can twist their trade, antitrust and other laws for industrial policy and protectionist purposes. What goes around does indeed come around.

More importantly, many Americans simply do not understand the importance of the Chinese market to many US companies. At a recent speech in Washington DC, one high level US government official told me that the Chinese had to be attracted to the US market because it was so much bigger than the Chinese market. The times they are a changing.

As an example, on May 3, 2014, in the attached article in the Minneapolis Star Tribune Medtech Industry Is Booming in China about the importance of the Chinese medical market to Minnesota medical device producers, the reporter states:

“Med-tech industry is booming in China . . .

A Chinese market for medical technology used to be on the long list of lofty goals for devicemakers like Medtronic. Now U.S. medtech firms are seeing double-digit growth as they partner with Chinese manufacturers, purchase Chinese companies and race to educate and woo Chinese doctors and patients eager to tap the latest technology.

A growing Chinese middle class and increasing investment in health care by the Chinese government are making such devices as pacemakers, defibrillators, insulin pumps and spine products accessible to hundreds of millions of new patients.

More-familiar factors play a role, too, as the nation falls prey to such chronic ailments as heart disease and diabetes, meaning even more customers will lean on technology from U.S. devicemakers to prolong and improve their lives.

Fridley-based Medtronic, for one, is banking on this. China is the linchpin in Medtronic CEO Omar Ishrak’s emphasis on building business in emerging markets. Medtronic’s China revenues have shot from $50 million a decade ago to $800 million today.

“China is clearly a unique opportunity and one of four regions around the world we’re targeting for expansion,” Ishrak said at Medtronic’s 2013 annual shareholders meeting. China — growing at 15 to 20 percent a year — now accounts for 40 percent of Medtronic’s emerging-market revenue. Emerging markets make up 10 percent of all Medtronic business.

You’re talking about more than 1 billion people who need care,” Ishrak said more recently, referring to China and India.

“With globalization, the key to sustainable growth in emerging markets will be addressing the barriers of access to lifesaving medical technology.”

The burgeoning Chinese middle class is estimated to number more than 400 million people — larger than the entire population of the United States. That middle class is demanding better access to health care, and the Chinese government has responded by pledging to spend $125 million over the next three years, promising that all citizens will have access to basic health care by 2020. . . .”

The size of the Chinese market gives the Chinese government leverage in trade talks with the US. As indicated below, 49% of Qualcomm’s $24.9 billion in sales came from China during 2013.

TRADE

POLICING CUSTOMS/ANTIDUMPING VIOLATIONS

What happens when a Chinese exporter/producer with a low antidumping rate it obtained from the Commerce Department or a US importer that is playing by the rules see that other Chinese companies or US importers are not playing by the rules and are transshipping merchandise through Malaysia, for example, or playing other trade games to evade US trade and customs laws?   In that situation, a US importer or Chinese exporter has several options to stop Chinese companies and US Importers using an illegal and unfair advantage to evade an Antidumping Order using transshipment or some other false statement to US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”).

Each one of these offensive options will require as much evidence as the Chinese exporter/producer or US importer can assemble to go forward with that step. Each step will also depend upon how much legal fees the company is willing to pay.  The bigger the project the more the fees, but also the possibility of a large reward.

The first option is to simply gather as much evidence as the company has about the Chinese companies and the importers that are involved.  The lawyer then can put the evidence together and contact the lawyers for the Petitioners in the Antidumping Case in question to pass the information on so that they can contact US Customs.   This is the least expensive option, but once the evidence is given to the Petitioners it is gone. The Chinese company or the US importer gets nothing and there is very little chance that it will ever learn what has happened in any investigation.

The second option is to gather the evidence and file an e-allegation at Customs. The lawyers prepare a submission based on the company’s evidence and other evidence that is gathered from the internet and elsewhere.  In the Submission, the lawyers describe to Customs what they know and then they lay back and see what happens.

In conjunction with the second option, the lawyers may also want to file a claim for compensation to Customs under 19 USC 1619 and 19 CFR 161.12.  There is a cap on recovery, however, of $250,000.

Keep in mind, however, that the problem with the first two options is that the company may not know whether Customs does anything or not.  Customs considers investigations, such as transshipment investigations of importers, to be confidential because they could lead to criminal proceedings.  Therefore, Customs is very reluctant to tell the informant anything.  In conjunction with the company’s e-allegation, the company can meet with Customs and tell them about their concerns, but Customs will keep its mouths closed.

The third option, which is more expensive, is to mount an investigation of the Chinese and Malaysian companies and US importers, using private detectives, to gather evidence.  This investigation then leads to a filing under the False Claims Act as a relator under Seal in the Federal District Court under 31 USC 3729 and 3730.   The remedy in a False Claim Act is triple damages plus attorney’s fees and the relator is entitled to 15 to 30% of any recovery by the US Government. Based on the complaint, the US government will initiate an investigation of the Customs violations.

Attached is a Stipulation filed on April 21, 2014 in the case of Protective electronics case maker Otter Products LLC, Stipulation, which has just paid $4.3 million to settle a former employee’s allegations that it violated the False Claims Act and the Tariff Act of 1930 by knowingly underpaying customs duties owed to Customs.  As the relator, the former employee is entitled to 15 to 30% of any recovery plus attorney’s fees, which probably means that the employee will get about $1 million.  Not bad.

But False Claims Act cases require evidence and can be difficult to win in the Antidumping context, because the US government must prove that the importer knew that the imports in question were really coming from China.

But in False Claims Act cases, since the relator is a party to the litigation, the Justice Department and Customs may reveal a little more information about the issues and problems that they are facing in the investigation itself.  If the Justice Department decides to move forward, they will often issue Civil Investigative Demands/Subpoenas so the importers will be under a lot of legal pressure in the case. Imports from the target country can slow down and stop as importers became scared of potential liability, including criminal liability.

Because the legal fees can be high in an FCA case, for a small importer or Chinese exporter, it will be important to look for allies, other importers or foreign producers/exporters that are facing competition from the illegal imports.  When you have several companies in a Coalition with common concerns, the legal fees are much lower and the other companies can help gather more evidence and information increasing the chance that Customs will stop the imports and that damages can be recovered.

In the late 1980s, I published an article on the High Cost of Customs Fraud, which goes into more details on these points.  See Perry Article.

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS – THE FORGOTTEN SUCCESSFUL TRADE PROGRAM

As mentioned in my last newsletter, the Trade Adjustment for Firms (“TAAF”) program is the only Trade Program that works. In my over thirty years of experience in the international trade area, first in the US Government and later defending US importers companies in antidumping cases, there is one overarching lesson that I have learned–protectionism simply does not work. US industries that cannot compete in global markets cannot run from global competition by bringing trade cases.

These cases simply fail to protect the domestic industry from import competition. In response to antidumping orders, Chinese furniture and tissue paper companies have moved to Vietnam, where labor rates are LOWER than China. In the polyethylene shopping bags case, one US importer moved a substantial amount of supply from China to India, Sri Lanka and other countries. While in private practice and later at the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) and Commerce Department, I watched Bethlehem Steel bring more than a hundred antidumping and countervailing duty cases against steel imports from various countries, receiving protection, in effect, from imports for more than 30 years. Where is Bethlehem Steel today? Green fields. When faced with import competition, it is simply too difficult to bring antidumping cases against all the countries in the world, which have lower priced production than the US.

If antidumping and other trade tariffs do not work, what does work? Some point to trade adjustment assistance for employees, a one billion dollar program that helps workers that have been displaced by imports. The problem is the jobs have already been lost. The training is often for jobs that do not exist.

There is another, little known, less costly alternative that saves jobs before they go down the drain—the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program. This program has a proven track record for directly helping US companies that have been injured by imports before there is a massive lay-off or closure, yet it does not restrict imports in any way. Total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is 16 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget

Although at first glance, free market advocates would not support this program, TAA for Firms works. I am on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”), one of eleven regional centers with an annual budget of about a million dollars. NWTAAC, however, published a cost/benefit analysis, which shows that nearly 80 percent of the firms it has assisted since 1984 are still in business. That is eight out of ten companies saved.

In the recent annual Commerce report on TAAF, which is attached to my last post, it is reported that all US companies that joined the program in 2011 were alive in 2013. If the company can be saved then most of the jobs at that company can be saved. This is much more efficient and cost effective than TAA for Workers. The Federal government saves money because 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.

The success of TAA for Firms is based on the fact that it focuses on the U.S. manufacturers, service companies and agricultural producing firms individually. The recovery strategy is custom-made for each firm. Once this strategy is approved by the Commerce Department, experts are hired to implement the strategy. The only interaction the program has with the imports is to verify that imports are “contributing importantly” to the sales and employment decline of the U.S. company.

The recovery strategies are also imaginative. A hydroelectric dam was designed for a sheep rancher, who built the dam with his own money and now receives six figure payments per year from electricity sold to supplement his cash flow from his sheep operations.

To qualify for TAA for Firms, the company has to show a five percent decline in sales or production and a five percent decline in employment, compared to the same period one year earlier. This is a much lower standard than for a large trade case, which requires an entire U.S. industry to show material injury or serious injury. Even if sales are up, if a single product line which comprises 25 percent or more of total sales has declined, that will also qualify the company.

Once the DOC approves the firm’s petition, the Trade Adjustment Assistance Center analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of the company. The Center then, working closely with the company, helps it develop a recovery strategy to compete with the imports. When this strategy is approved by the Commerce Department, experts are hired to implement the strategy. The amount of federal assistance is limited to $75,000, which the company must match, but it is the strategic planning and access to the industry experts that helps the company adjust to the import competition at the company level. The Center then monitors the progress of these consultant projects until completed. This helps to ensure success and is one of the few government programs that does monitor the progress. Although the program cannot purchase “hard assets” for the company nor can it give cash to the company, because of the industry experts that can be used to turn a company around, the program has had a tremendous success rate.

Thus, an aluminum smelter used the program to translate its website into eight different languages. In response to increased imports from Norway and Chile, with the help of the program a salmon fisherman, is now providing eco-tours, and another salmon fisherman has developed labels that are in compliance with the marketing and health requirements for the new export markets for their canned salmon. A wire harness manufacturer also received lean manufacturing design and implementation resulting in increased productivity, increased sales and profit, as well as, recovery of all lost jobs due to imports.

These companies are around today because they have learned, with the help of a Federal program, to deal with globalization and not just to run and hide behind protective trade measures.

In 1984, the Reagan Administration appointed Jim Munn to head up the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, probably with the purpose of closing it, and the entire program down. The Reagan Administration was dead set against government involvement in the marketplace. Jim Munn, however, discovered unexpectedly that the program worked and instead of killing it, stayed on to head up NWTAAC for 22 years.

Although free market ideology is important, when a program works it should not be ignored, it should be given the resources it needs to prosper and flourish. While this will not work for every US industry, US businessmen might be well-advised to find the entrepreneurial advice they need to stay in business from the TAA program rather than reaching for a trade lawyer to solve the problem. Most U.S. companies simply need a little guidance to be successful in the international marketplace.

For my letter to the Wall Street Journal on the TAAF program, see attached.  FEBRUARY242011TAACLETTERWSJ – Perry

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS—TPA, TPP, TTIP/TA AND BALI/DOHA ROUND

As mentioned in past posts, in the trade world, the most important developments may be the WTO negotiations in Bali and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic (TA)/ the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP negotiations.  These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues becomes a focal point in Congress and many Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

This is particularly a problem because the protectionism is coming from the Democratic side of the aisle. Democratic Senators and Congressmen are supported by labor unions. To date, President Obama cannot get one Democratic Congressman to support Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) in Congress. Without bipartisan/Democratic support for these Trade Agreements, Republicans will not go out on a limb to support President Obama and risk being shot at by the Democrats during the mid-term elections as soft on trade.

As mentioned, in my February post, the day after President Obama pushed the TPA in the State of the Union, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid stated that the TPA bill would not be introduced on the Senate Floor.

To summarize, on January 9, 2014, the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014, which is posted in my February post on this blog, was introduced into Congress. The TPA bill gives the Administration, USTR and the President, Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority so that if and when USTR negotiates a trade deal in the TPP or the Trans-Atlantic negotiations, the Agreement will get an up or down vote in the US Congress with no amendments.

Under the US Constitution, Congress, not the President has the power to regulate trade with foreign countries. Article 1, Section 8, Clause 3, of the Constitution empowers Congress “to regulate Commerce with foreign nations” Thus to negotiate a trade agreement, the Congress gives the Executive Branch, the Administration/The President and United States Trade Representative (“USTR”), the Power to negotiate trade deals.

Because trade deals are negotiated with the foreign countries, the only way to make the system work is that under the TPA law when the Trade Agreement is negotiated, the Congress will agree to have an up or down vote on the entire Agreement and no amendments to the Agreement that has already been negotiated will be allowed.

On April 9, 2014, the new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden announced at a speech to the American Apparel & Footwear Association Conference that he was introducing a new TPA bill, what Senator Wyden calls Smart Track. But to date no details have been given about exactly what Smart Track will mean, other than more oversight by Congress and input by the Public in the trade negotiations.

Now the story continues . . . .

On April 10, 2014, ranking Democrat Sander Levin of Michigan spoke about the TPA and the TPP at the Center for American Progress.  In that speech Representative Levin stated:

“No matter where you stand in the debate over trade and globalization all should agree that the status quo is unacceptable. The status quo is low tariffs in our market with imports – often traded unfairly – causing job loss and contributing to income inequality. The status quo is markets closed to U.S. goods and services through tariffs and non-tariff barriers and currency imbalances contributing to huge trade deficits. To make matters worse, many of our trading partners today are negotiating preferential trade agreements with one another that do not include the United States. That means that our exporters could face higher tariffs in those countries than other countries’ exporters. And, the status quo is exemplified by the Rana Plaza disaster in Bangladesh where workers with no rights in the workplace sacrificed their lives on the job.

TPP provides us with an important opportunity to change the status quo and to improve the way the global economy works. If done right, TPP can help level the playing field, to better ensure two-way trade, strengthen the rules of competition, and reflect our values.

The TPP opportunities are real. For example, U.S. dairy producers see an opportunity to remove Canadian tariffs in the range of 250 to 300%, and non-tariff barriers, which have survived two previous U.S.-Canada trade agreements. U.S. auto producers see an opportunity to remove Malaysian tariffs of up to 35% and nontariff measures that significantly raise the cost of American cars sold there. . ..

There can only be one negotiator, but those negotiations must be built on a strong foundation with the Congress that has to approve the final product. With TPP negotiations too far along for Congress to set the initial terms or negotiating objectives, we must now join in a full partnership. …

We need a structure. We need responsibility, accountability, and ownership.

Because TPP addresses a broad range of policy areas, more Members of Congress must play a key role –and Congress as a whole must play a greater role – in TPP. We need to involve the Members of our committees with jurisdiction over trade, but also Members of other committees that have expertise with the issues under negotiations, and other Members also have important roles to play. . . .

We all recognize that globalization is here to stay and that we can’t simply accept the status quo. The question is: what are we prepared to do about it? Are we going to stand on the sidelines and let the polarization too often endemic to trade debates prevail? Are we going to settle for the slogans that trade is bad or the broad brush rhetoric that more trade is always better?”

On April 28, 2014, it was reported that in the mid-term campaigns Democrats are arguing that if the Senate becomes Republican an all Republican-controlled Congress along with compliant President Barack Obama will mean the Trade Agreements will pass. In effect, Democratic candidates argue that they should stay in power to keep the country protectionist and to prevent President Obama from giving away the store on key policy issues, including trade.

Rep. Gary Peters, a Democrat running for Senate in Michigan, reportedly is openly campaigning against the president’s free-trade agenda. Peters argues:

“If a Republican Congress establishes a goal of working with the president on trade, it will certainly facilitate” passing fast-track trade authority”

On April 30, 2014, Chairman Camp of the House Ways and Means Committee stated:

“We also have opportunities to pursue new trade agreements . . .Trade Promotion Authority is an important tool to moving these agreements forward, and yet, here again, we have seen little to no action from the Administration on the Hill. The Administration must actively engage with Congress on TPA so we can move these job-creating agreements forward.”

On May 1, 2014, the Senate Finance Committee held a major hearing. A video of the hearing can be found on the internet at http://www.finance.senate.gov/hearings/hearing/?id=3064b778-5056-a032-523b-0d5505711ac5.

Statements by Democratic Chairman Senator Wyden and Republican ranking member Senator Orrin Hatch along with the testimony of USTR Froman are attached below. Senator Wyden stated in part in his attached opening statement WydenTradeHearingStmt :

“For decades ,American trade policy has been a story of adaptation and change. In particular, the extraordinary economic changes of the last generation demonstrate how important it is that future trade policies are reformed to reflect the times. . . .

over the previous decade,currency manipulation has reemerged as a major concern for the U.S. economy. China made commitments to follow global trade rules when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2000. But when it comes to currency,as in so many other areas, China is keeping a finger firmly planted on the scale and undermining those commitments. Pick a product manufactured in China and imported to the U.S. –any product–and currency manipulation makes it artificially cheaper. That is hurting American workers’ ability to compete.

Finally, unlike 20 years ago, Americans expect to easily find online the information they want on key issues like trade. Yet too often, there is trade secrecy instead of trade transparency. It’s time to more fully inform Americans about trade negotiations and provide our people more opportunity to express their views on trade policy. Bringing the American people into full and open debates on trade agreements that have the effect of law is not too much to ask. . . .

Here’s my bottom line. The new breed of trade challenges spawned over the last generation must be addressed in imaginative new policies and locked into enforceable, ambitious, job-generating trade agreements.They must reflect the need for a free and open Internet, strong labor rights and environmental protections. Nations don’t dismantle protectionist barriers or adopt these rules on their own. They do so with reciprocal agreements hammered out through negotiation. America must establish new rules to reflect today’s trade norms and enforce them.”

Other than more transparency, however, Senator Wyden did not spell out the details of his new Smart Track initiative.

Republican Senator Orrin Hatch stated in part in his attached opening statement 5.01.14 Hatch Opening Statement on Administration’s Tradey Policy Agenda:

“President Obama’s trade agenda is extremely ambitious. If it succeeds,it will help shape global trade patterns for decades to come. If it fails, it will result in billions of dollars of missed economic opportunity for American workers and job-creators.

Of course, the President’s term is not yet over and the jury is still very much out. Even so, I am concerned.

First and foremost, the fact that Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA, is not renewed creates a serious,and perhaps fatal, flaw in the President’s trade agenda. I do not believe you can conclude high-standard agreements that will meet Congress’ approval without TPA. And, I am not the only one who holds this view. . . .

Ambassador Froman, I have no doubt in your capabilities or those of your staff, but history tells us very clearly that, without TPA, your trade agenda will almost certainly fail. That is why I am very disappointed in the President’s passive approach on this issue.

I am sure you can remember the enormous political effort President Clinton put into successful implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. And I am sure you can also recall President Bush’s total political commitment to renewing TPA in 2002. In those cases, war rooms were established and each cabinet secretary made Congressional approval of those initiatives a public priority.

Put simply, we are not seeing that level of commitment from President Obama, which is disappointing. And, without more effort on the part of the administration, I don’t think we can succeed. . . .”

USTR Froman stated in part in his attached opening statement FROMAN STATE:

“The Obama Administration has a strong record of success in promoting U.S. exports and creating jobs here at home. Over the past four years, U.S. exports have increased by nearly 50 percent – four times faster than our economy as a whole – reaching a record high of $2.3 trillion in 2013. In fact, a third of our total economic growth is attributed to this increase in U.S. exports.

Exports mean jobs. Each $1 billion in exports supports 5,400-5,900 U.S. jobs. U.S. exports have supported 1.6 million additional private sector jobs since 2009 – that means a total 11.3 million Americans now owe their jobs to exports, and those jobs pay 13-18 percent more on average than non-export related jobs. . . .

As we pursue this agenda, we will continue to consult with Congress and seek input from a wide range of advisors, stakeholders, and the public at large. We have held over 1,250 meetings with Congress about TPP alone – and that doesn’t include the meetings we’ve had on T-TIP, TPA, AGOA, and other initiatives. Our Congressional partners preview our proposals and give us critical feedback every step of the way. We also ensure that any Member of Congress who is interested has access to the negotiating text and the opportunity to receive detailed briefings by our negotiators.

Further, we have cast a wide net to draw in the views of stakeholders and the public more generally, and to share information with them. We have solicited public comments regarding negotiating aims and objectives through notices in the Federal Register; public hearings; open invitations to stakeholders to meet with U.S. and foreign negotiators at negotiating rounds; the dissemination of trade policy updates through press releases, fact sheets, blog posts, statements on USTR’s website – and, yes, tweets; and direct and constant outreach by U.S. trade officials to solicit, obtain, and incorporate public input in the course of their daily work. Most recently, we published detailed goals and objectives for T-TIP negotiations that outline what we are seeking in every chapter of the agreement. . . .

Finally, let me say a word about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). TPA is the mechanism by which Congress has worked with Presidents since 1974 to give the Executive its marching orders about what to negotiate, how to work with Congress before and during the negotiations, and how Congress will take up and approve or disapprove the final agreement. There is no other area of policy that reflects closer coordination between the Executive branch and Congress than trade policy.

The last TPA legislation was passed over a decade ago. Much has changed since that time, from the May 10, 2007 agreement on labor, environment, innovation, and access to medicines to the rise of the digital economy and the increasing role of SOEs. We agree with the broad group of stakeholders that these issues should be reflected in a new TPA bill.

Issues raised by the emergence of the digital economy and the increasing role of SOEs in the global economy should be part of the statutory negotiating objectives. And there are new forms of protectionism which threaten U.S. exports, which should be reflected as well.

We have heard from many that TPA needs to be updated. We agree. The Administration welcomed the introduction of bipartisan TPA legislation in January, and looks forward to working with this Committee and Congress as a whole to secure TPA that has as broad bipartisan support as possible. We also look forward to renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), which helps provide American workers with the skills to compete in the 21st century. “

 

During the May 1st hearing, Senator Chuck Schumer made it very clear that without agreement to curtail currency manipulation in the TPP, he and many others in Congress will not approve the TPP Agreement. In response to a question from Senator Schumer, USTR Froman stated that currency manipulation has not been discussed yet in the TPP. Senator Stabenow in a follow up stated that 60 Senators and over 200 Representatives in the House have sent letters to President Obama stating that currency manipulation must be addressed in the TPP.

MAY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On May 1, 2014, Commerce published in the attached Federal Register notice REVIEW REQUESTS regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of May. The specific antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China are: Aluminum Extrusions, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, Citric Acid and Certain Citrate Salts, Iron Construction Castings, Oil Country Tubular Goods (“OCTG”), Pure Magnesium, and Stilbenic Optical Brightening Agents.

For those US import companies that imported aluminum extrusions, including curtain walls and other products, citric acid, OCTG and the other products listed above from China during the period May 1, 2013-April 30, 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

This is a very important month for US importers because administrative reviews determine how much US importers actually owe in Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases. Generally, the US industry will request a review of all Chinese companies. If a Chinese company does not respond in the Administrative Review, their antidumping and countervailing duty rate could well go to the highest level and for certain imports the US importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

In my experience, many US importers do not realize the significance of the administrative review investigations. They think the antidumping and countervailing duty case is over because the initial investigation is over. Many importers are blindsided because their Chinese supplier did not respond in the administrative review, and the US importers find themselves liable for millions of dollars in retroactive liability.

In the recent final determination in the Wood Flooring Case, for example, although the rates were very low for many Chinese exporters, only 5%, 20 Chinese exporters had their rates go to 58% because they did not participate in the review investigation and did not file a no shipment certification, separate rate application or separate rate certification at the Commerce Department.

SOLAR CELLS/SOLAR PRODUCTS FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

In April seven US Senators from Montana, Washington State and other States sent the attached letter SENATORS SOLAR LETTER to Vice President Biden asking for help in settling the Solar Cells and Solar Products antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China. In that letter, the Senators state:

“Thank you for your on-going efforts to support the growing solar industry in the United States. We appreciated your willingness to bring the solar trade dispute to the attention of Chinese leaders during your visit to China late last year.

We write because the dispute with China over solar goods continues to escalate, and we believe your leadership is critical to resolving the current situation. China continues to demonstrate an unwillingness to settle the dispute until our domestic solar industry presents unified proposals that remove existing trade restrictions. Therefore, in order to align the domestic solar industry, we ask you to bring folks together to develop a negotiated settlement that will lead to growth in all aspects of the solar industry. The full support of the White House is needed to lay the groundwork for a long-term settlement with China.

Earlier this year, the Department of Commerce commenced another round of antidumping investigations into Chinese solar panels, which will likely lead to additional tariffs and further retaliations from the Chinese. Continuing to let this dispute play out one case at a time will limit job growth and it may even lead to job loss.

The solar industry is experiencing remarkable growth. In fact, the industry employed over 140,000 workers last year, a 20 percent increase from the previous year. We want to see all areas of the industry continue to create high-paying jobs for Americans. From panel sales and installation to panel and component manufacturing, growth in the solar industry is an outstanding opportunity to create high-paying jobs and to enhance our energy security. That is why it is critical that the administration engage with all U.S. stakeholders to resolve this trade dispute as quickly as possible.”

As mentioned by the Senators, Solar World and the US Solar Cell producers are battling installers and developers and other solar cells/products users and the US producers of Polysilicon in Washington, Montana and other states, who are being wiped out of China by Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

There have been efforts to negotiate a settlement with the Chinese government, but to date each effort has failed. The problem is that in contrast to the EU, Canada and China, for example, there is no public interest test in US antidumping and countervailing duty law. Thus, the U.S. government cannot legally compel SolarWorld to accept the Agreement. In fact, the petitioner, SolarWorld, would ultimately have to agree to any settlement agreement reached between the U.S. and China.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

As mentioned in prior newsletters, we are working with APCO, a well-known lobbying/government relations firm in Washington DC, on establishing a US importers/end users lobbying coalition to lobby against the expansion of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws against China for the benefit of US companies.

On September 18, 2013, ten US Importers agreed to form the Import Alliance for America. The objective of the Coalition will be to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.

We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The United States is the only country that has retroactive liability for its importers in antidumping and countervailing duty cases. The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries. We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.

Two Congressmen have now agreed to meet importers in the New Jersey/NY area and in the Long Beach area to listen to their grievances regarding the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws. We are now contacting many US importers and also Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they are interested in participating in the Alliance.

As indicated above, at the present time, Commerce takes the position that it will not make China a market economy country in 2016 as required by the WTO Accession Agreement. Changes to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law against China can only happen because of a push by US importers and end user companies. In US politics, only squeaky wheels get the grease.

In forthcoming newsletters we will provide additional information about the Alliance and specific meeting days in different areas of the United States.

THE HYPOCRISY OF US PRISON LABOR ALLEGATION REDUX

In my last post, I reported that at a recent Housewares Show in Chicago, the Program Manager of the Business Development Group of the US Justice Department’s Federal Bureau of Prisons was going booth to booth saying that the prison factories run by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons in the United States could match any Chinese price with US prison labor.

Apparently, some US producers have taken the bait. It has been reported that Don Finkell, one of the persons behind the Woodflooring from China antidumping and countervailing cases, WOODFLOORING PRISON LABOR has come out of retirement to reenter the wood flooring business. Finkell has a new company, American OEM Wood Floors, and he sees an opportunity in the growing private-label business that has been dominated by Chinese companies. “What we’re talking about doing is to give an alternative to private-label programs that is domestically produced.” Finkell plans to use a model that he is familiar with: prison labor. The company has leased a former prison furniture factory in Only, Tenn., from the state of Tennessee, and plans to use what is referred to in the state as “offender labor,” as well as civilian workers. This marks the eighth and most sophisticated prison plan Finkell has created.

Slave/Prison labor is acceptable if it is used to compete against Chinese imports and the US industry.

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA

With regards to the Chinese ban on shellfish from the West Coast, the latest report is that the Chinese government will not lift the ban until government officials have implemented testing for inorganic arsenic in geoducks from Washington and the rest of the Northwest.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING ZTE

On April 14, 2014, Borden Co. (PTE) Ltd., a Singapore company, and Anhing Corporation, a California company, filed a trademark infringement and counterfeiting case against Grandway Enterprises, a Nevada corporation, and Hing Yip, a Chinese company. HING YIP

On April 15, 2014, Long Corner Consumer Electronics LLC filed a patent infringement case against ZTE (USA) Inc. ZTE LONG

On April 22, 2014, BLK DNM Group. LLC filed a trademark infringement case against Sweetyet Development Ltd., a Hong Kong company. SWEETYET HK CHINA

On April 23, 2014, Vstream Technologies LLC filed a patent infringement case against ZTE and other high tech companies. VSTREAM ZTE COMPLAINT

On April 25, 2014, Thomas & Betts International LLC and Thomas & Betts Corp. filed a trademark infringement and unfair trade practices case against Burndy LLC, Hubbell Inc., 3M Co., and Zhejiang Shangyu City Fengfan Electrical Fittings Co., Ltd. THOMAS BETTS ZHEJIANG

On April 28, 2014, Cyber Acoustics LLC and Cyber Acoustics HK Ltd., a Hong Kong corporation, filed a trademark infringement and false designation of origin against Shenzhen Fenda Technology Co., a Chinese corporation.SHENZHEN FENDA

On May 1, 2014, a patent infringement case was filed by Cordelia Lighting, Inc. against Zhejiang Yankon Group Co., Ltd. d/b/a Energetic Lighting, a China company, and Yankon Industries Inc., a California corporation. CORDELA YANKON

BANKING

On April 29, 2014, the US Justice Department filed the attached money laundering complaint against Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and the Bank of China seeking the forfeiture of certain funds as property involved in money laundering and as proceeds of violations of the United States sanctions laws and regulations and of the United States laws against wire fraud and bank fraud.  CHINA MONEY LAUNDERING COMPLAINT According to the US Government, the claims arise out of a scheme by a Chinese national to evade US export laws and commit fraud and money laundering by supplying various metallurgical goods and related components to Iran.

ANTITRUST

REHEARING EN BANC—LCDS CASE

On April 24, 2014, the US Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) asked the Seventh Circuit for a rehearing en banc to reconsider a ruling blocking Motorola liquid crystal display price-fixing claims, saying the decision threatens the government’s enforcement efforts related to foreign cartels.

The DOJ and the FTC argued that the panel’s decision undermined the government’s ability to prosecute cartels that harm consumers that increasingly deal with foreign-made components.

In March, the 7th Circuit ruled that the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act barred Motorola from seeking damages from Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd., LG Display Co. Ltd. and other LCD makers for panels sold to the company’s foreign subsidiaries, which were incorporated into mobile devices Motorola eventually sold in the U.S.

In their attached amicus brief ftc doj ftaia brief, the DOJ and the FTC argue that the panel erred in concluding that the FTAIA banned claims based on the price-fixing of a component sold abroad because that sale did not have a direct effect on U.S. commerce. Under the FTAIA, anti-competitive conduct must have a “direct, substantial and reasonably foreseeable effect” on U.S. domestic or import commerce to support a damages claim.

The Justice Department and FTC argue :

“The United States and the Federal Trade Commission enforce the federal antitrust laws and have a strong interest in the correct interpretation of the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act of 1982 (FTAIA), which added Section 6a to the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 6a. Section 6a makes the Sherman Act’s other sections inapplicable to conduct involving export or wholly foreign commerce except when that conduct (i) has a “direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect” on certain U.S. commerce and (ii) that effect “gives rise to a claim.”. . . .

STATEMENT OF ISSUES

1. Whether the panel erred in holding that fixing the price of a component sold abroad cannot have a direct effect on U.S. domestic or import commerce in products incorporating the component.

2. Whether the panel erred in holding that such an effect cannot give rise to an antitrust claim in the United States.

STATEMENT

This case involves a global conspiracy to fix the price of LCD panels incorporated into cellphones and other popular consumer devices. . . . The panel held that Section 6a precludes any antitrust claims for price fixing of products sold abroad, no matter how massively and predictably U.S. consumers were harmed. The panel decision should be vacated. . . .

Congress enacted the Foreign Trade Antitrust Improvements Act of 1982, which added Section 6a to the Sherman Act, with the express purpose to “increase United States exports of products and services,” . . . .Section 6a “seeks to make clear to American exporters (and to firms doing business abroad) that the Sherman Act does not prevent them from entering into business arrangements . . . however anticompetitive, as long as those arrangements adversely affect only foreign markets.” . .. Congress also sought to ensure that purchasers in the United States remained fully protected by the federal antitrust laws. Accordingly, conduct involving “[i]mport trade and commerce are excluded at the outset from the coverage of the FTAIA in the same way that domestic interstate commerce is excluded.” . . . And the FTAIA leaves conduct involving export or wholly foreign commerce inside the Sherman Act’s reach when “the conduct both (1) sufficiently affects American commerce, i.e., it has a ‘direct, substantial, and reasonably foreseeable effect’ on American domestic, import or (certain) export commerce, and (2) has an effect of a kind that antitrust law considers harmful, i.e., the ‘effect’ must ‘giv[e] rise to a [Sherman Act] claim.’” . . . . Motorola Mobility Inc. (Motorola) filed suit against foreign makers of LCD panels in the Northern District of Illinois, alleging that defendants violated Section 1 of the Sherman Act by conspiring to fix the price of LCD panels world-wide from 1996 to 2006.

Motorola alleged that the conspiracy not only raised prices on LCD panels but also led to increased prices on cellphones and other products in which the panels were incorporated, many of which were “specifically destined for sale and use in the United States.” . . . .

Rehearing or rehearing en banc is necessary because the panel decision conflicts with Minn-Chem, Inc. v. Agrium, Inc. . . . and raises exceptionally important questions about the reach of the Sherman Act. The panel decision should be vacated because its resolution of these questions threatens the ability of government law enforcement and private actions to prevent and redress massive harm to U.S. consumers. . . .

In applying the effects exception, this Court has recognized that “domestic and foreign markets are interrelated and influence each other.” . . . Congress created the effects exception because it understood that conduct involving wholly foreign commerce can have significant anticompetitive effects on U.S. domestic or import commerce and wanted that conduct to remain subject to the Sherman Act’s protections. . . .

Applying these principles to the record, the conspiracy’s effect on U.S. commerce in cellphones is direct. The natural and probable consequence of increasing the price of a critical and substantial component like LCD panels is an increase in the price of cellphones. Nor does the effect become speculative or uncertain because it is “mediated” by Motorola’s decision on what price to charge for its cellphones. . . . There is evidence that the overcharges on the price-fixed panels have been passed on to cellphone purchasers in the United States. . . .

This is why the effect on U.S. commerce in cellphones is “doubtless” . . . . Unless vacated, the panel’s narrow view of the statutory term “direct” is likely to constrain the government’s ability to effectively prosecute cartels that substantially and intentionally harm U.S. commerce and consumers, as well as prevent those injured in the United States from redressing that harm. “Nothing is more common nowadays than for products imported to the United States to include components that the producers had bought from foreign manufacturers.” . . . Anticompetitive conduct involving those component purchases often causes significant harm in the downstream consumer markets. . . .

Lastly, the “practical” considerations cited by the panel, including the need to avoid “friction with many foreign countries,” . . . do not support its view that the Sherman Act cannot apply here. Congress “deliberately” phrased Section 6a to “include commerce that . . . was wholly foreign,” . . . leaving the Sherman Act applicable to conduct involving such commerce when it sufficiently affects U.S. domestic or import commerce. It has been well-established since Judge Hand’s opinion in United States v. Aluminum Co. of America. . . that “the Sherman Act applies to foreign conduct that was meant to produce and did in fact produce some substantial effect in the United States.” . . .

When enacting the FTAIA, Congress was thus fully aware that “America’s antitrust laws, when applied to foreign conduct, can interfere with a foreign nation’s ability independently to regulate its own commercial affairs,”. . . but nonetheless determined that application of those laws was reasonable when it redressed domestic harm, because of the United States’ interest in protecting U.S. consumers from anticompetitive conduct. . . .

Our “courts have long held that application of our antitrust laws to foreign anticompetitive conduct is nonetheless reasonable, and hence consistent with principles of prescriptive comity, insofar as they reflect a legislative effort to redress domestic antitrust injury that foreign anticompetitive conduct has caused.” . . . . Indeed, the “extraterritorial application of antitrust laws on the basis of the effects doctrine is by now widely accepted” around the world. . . .

As this Court noted in Minn-Chem, it is important for our courts to protect U.S. consumers from foreign price-fixing conspiracies because the price fixers’ host countries “often have no incentive” to enforce their antitrust laws because they “would logically be pleased to reap economic rents from other countries” whose consumers ultimately bear the burden of the inflated prices. . . .”

EXTRADITION OF FOREIGN NATIONAL TO FACE CRIMINAL ANTITRUST CHARGES

On April 4, 2014, the Justice Department announced that it was successful for the first time in extraditing a foreign national to face charges related to a cartel, worldwide antitrust bid-rigging conspiracy related to marine hose sold in the United States.

On April 24, 2014, the Justice Department announced that after extradition from Germany the foreign executive was sentenced to two years in prison.  DOJ MARINE HOSE

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

Commentators have observed that governments are increasingly using antitrust and other regulatory powers for broader political and economic purposes and following the Commerce Department’s lead, the Chinese government is doing the same.

On January 28, 2014, there was a report out of China that Qualcomm is facing a record antitrust fine of $1 billion in an antitrust case from China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

On April 18, 2014, Peter Corne, head of Dorsey’s Shanghai office, published the attached article, china-a-new-dawn-in-anti-trust, about “Dawn Raids” by Chinese antitrust authorities. As Mr. Corne states:

“Chinese antitrust regulators have not historically been known to engage in aggressive investigations. Things may be beginning to change. Last year, both Qualcomm and IDC were put under the microscope by PRC National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) officials using tactics more commonly associated with antitrust regulators in the United States and Europe. Here we will describe what happened.

Qualcomm experienced a classic “dawn raid” in November 2013, when NDRC’s special investigation squad swooped upon Qualcomm’s Shanghai and Beijing offices simultaneously, with little or no prior warning, in a seamless, well-orchestrated operation. NDRC officials reportedly seized electronic documents (including pricing and marketing information) and compelled management to provide detailed answers to questions about Qualcomm’s chip pricing and involvement in foreign anti-trust investigations. The NDRC has apparently had Qualcomm in its sights since receiving allegations that Qualcomm had engaged in excessive and discriminatory pricing and imposed unreasonable trade conditions on patent licenses and phone chip sales. Qualcomm could be considered particularly vulnerable to such allegations as it is generally assumed to be market-dominant in the wireless communication “standard essential patents” market.

IDC, in contrast, appeared insulated from such an investigation due to its lack of physical presence in China. But NDRC officials were not deterred. The NDRC filed a case in June 2013, alleging that IDC had abused its market dominance in the telecommunications industry by imposing excessive royalties, and invited IDC senior executives to China for “discussions.” IDC, to its credit, cooperated with the NDRC investigation, and in due course applied for a suspension to the investigation based on a series of voluntary commitments to refrain from charging excessive royalties, bundling essential patents, and requiring mandatory cross-licensing free of charge.

The new threat of aggressive antitrust enforcement is not limited to the NDRC, which is responsible for pricing-related issues. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”) earlier in 2013 concluded what, to date, can only be described as the “mother” of Chinese anti-trust investigations against Tetrapak. The SAIC reportedly raided two offices of Tetrapak in Shanghai and Kunshan on the same day, 18 April, 2013. During the course of the Tetrapak investigation, the SAIC squad interviewed heads of departments and relevant employees and collected more than 30,000 emails, internal meeting minutes, numerous sales contracts, and other Tetrapak books and records. SAIC investigators even seized deleted emails, which provided the SAIC with important evidence to build its case against Tetrapak.

“Dawn raids” and similar aggressive investigatory tactics are no longer solely a Western phenomenon. They have now come to China and will increase in frequency over time. Companies should analyse whether or not they are at risk of investigation and take precautions through planning and training to ensure that they can respond appropriately when raids occur.”

The attached April Antitrust Report by TD & Associates, a Chinese law firm, TD Monthly Antitrust Report of April 2014, states that antitrust review of mergers by China’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) is slowing up mega international deals:

“China is becoming a big obstacle slowing down the process of global mega deals. Anti-trust experts said that since Chinese anti-monopoly enforcement authorities are comparatively short-staffed but have to supervise a relatively wide range of affairs and take into consideration the effects of transactions on China’s domestic economic development, some large-scale merger transactions have been held up.

These experts said that because of the potential delay in China and the fact that remedies made by transaction parties are always required in order to deal with Chinese anti-monopoly enforcement authorities’ competition concerns, trading advisers are making an attempt to minimize the Chinese government’s impact on transactions and if possible, even avoid review by Chinese anti-monopoly enforcement authorities. . . .

China introduced its anti-monopoly law in 2008. The country’s rapid economic ascent has turned its anti-trust authority into a powerful actor on the world stage. Global companies pay close attention to its merger enforcement because they are eager to increase their market share in China and generally do not want to make divestitures there. Also, China at times has asked for actions that are not required by anti-trust authorities elsewhere. . . .”

TD also reports that recently Chinese antitrust authorities have gone after an International cartel to fix the prices of automobile wheel bearings targeting Svenska Kullager Fabriken (SKF) Schaeffler, Nippon Seikō Kabushiki Kaisha (NSK), NFC, and NTN.

SECURITIES

FCPA

In the attached April 2014 Dorsey Foreign Corruption Digest, FCPA DIGEST, Dorsey FCPA lawyers state regarding China and Hong Kong:

“Claims have been published that employees of the Chongqing plant of Ford Motor Company (“Ford”) may have paid bribes in order to obtain employment with the corporate.

In a statement issued by Ford, it explained that the company takes the allegations very seriously and has initiated an investigation. In the statement, the Ford representative was quoted saying: “any behavior that violates Ford’s policies, such as the alleged behavior, would result in immediate dismissals of employees”.

It was suggested in the report that the making of corrupt payments may be an attractive option for those seeking employment in a large corporation in an attempt to secure a higher salaried job, as there are increasingly fewer opportunities to get a desirable job with an attractive salary in large corporations; most positions are outsourced to employment agencies.

Wages in Chongqing are significantly lower than in other major cities, such as Shanghai. In a city where the minimum wage is just 1,250 yuan per month, a job at Ford is reported to pay 60,000 yuan per year, in addition to overtime and bonuses.

Hong Kong

According to reports, a former licensed representative and a client of the Hong Kong securities firm, Phillip Securities (Hong Kong) Limited (“PSL”) have been charged by the Independent Commission Against Corruption (“ICAC”) with accepting and offering a total of over $365,000 in illegal commissions respectively in relation to trading in securities.

It has been reported that Ching Yim-har, a former licensed representative of PSL, faces two counts of accepting an advantage, contrary to section 9(1)(a) of the Prevention of Bribery Ordinance (“POBO”). Yip Ying-lai, the PSL client, has been charged with two counts of offering an advantage to an agent, in contravention of section 9(2)(a) of the POBO.

It was alleged that during 2007 and 2008, Ching, accepted $99,688 and $265,688 in illegal commissions from Yip as a reward for providing services as a licensed representative in respect of the investment account of Yip held with PSL. The investigation and hearing resulted from a corruption complaint referred by the Securities and Futures Commission (“SFC”).

It is said, the remaining two charges assert Yip offered $99,688 and $265,688 by way of illegal commissions to Ching for the same purpose.

The SFC and the PSL have offered their full assistance to the ICAC during its investigation.”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On April 23, 2014, it was reported that Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) may file an enforcement action over allegations that Qualcomm Inc. bribed individuals with Chinese state-owned companies. According to earnings reports, Qualcomm obtained 49 percent of its $24.9 billion in sales from China during the fiscal year ending September 2013.

On April 30, 2014, Wai Tak Yeung filed a class action securities case against Giant Interactive Group Inc. of Shanghai, Yuzhu Shi, Wei Liu, Xuefeng Ji, Andrew Y. Yan, Peter Andrew Schloss, Jason Nanchun Jiang, Giant Investment Ltd. and Giant Merger Ltd. GIANT CLASS ACTION

On May 1, 2014, a class action securities case was filed by Ashish Anand against Lihua International, Jianhua Zhu and Daphne Yan Huang. Lihua International Inc. is a Delaware corporation that manufactures, markets and distributes refined copper products through its wholly-owned subsidiaries Danyang Lihua Electron Co., Ltd., (“Lihua Electron”) and Jiangsu Lihua Copper Industry Co., Ltd. (“Lihua Copper”).

If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade, customs, 337, patent, US/China antitrust or securities law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry