US CHINA TRADE WAR–DUELING US CHINA ANTIDUMPING CASES, CHINA’S NME STATUS, TPP, ALUMINUM AND CONGRESS FAILURE TO LET TAAF FIX THE TRADE PROBLEM

Jackson Statue Canons Lafayette Park White House After Snow PennTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 21, 2016

Dear Friends,

I have been in China for two weeks working on the Solar Cells and Steel Sinks cases.  This is an abbreviated February newsletter, which will cover trade and trade policy, including the new trade cases filed in the United States and China, the TPP, the New Trade Legislation, the China Nonmarket Economy Issue, plus developments in the Aluminum Extrusions and other cases.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR CONTINUES WITH FOUR NEW US CASES AGAINST CHINA AND ONE BIG NEW CHINA CASE AGAINST THE US

As stated at the top of this blog post, trade is a two way street, and the recent US antidumping and countervailing duty cases filed against China with the corresponding Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty case against the US illustrates that the trade war continues. The recent US cases target more than $1.2 billion of Chinese imports into the US, but the Chinese case targets about $1.5 billion of US exports, imports into China.  In trade what goes around comes around.

FOUR US CASES AGAINST CHINA

GEOGRID PRODUCTS

On January 13, 2016, in the attached complaint, AD PETITION Biaxial Integral Geogrid Products, Tensar Crop filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition against about $10 to $20 million in imports of Certain Biaxial Integral Geogrid Products from the People‘s Republic of China alleging a dumping margin of over 200%. These Geogrid products are useful in earthwork construction, such as in roadways.

Conventional methods of road construction have been to use stone and, sometimes, a geotextile for drainage, underneath the paved or unpaved road. Geotextiles, however do not provide any structural benefit to a roadway. There is a market for geosynthetics, such as the Geogrid products,  that allow a contractor to improve not just the drainage, but also the structure and performance of a road, while using less stone.

AMORPHOUS SILICA FABRIC

On January 20, 2016, in the attached complaint, AD PETITION Amorphous Silica Fabric Scope Importers Exporters, Auburn Manufacturing filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition alleging antidumping rates of more than 160% against more than $10 million of imports of amorphous silica fabric from China.

Auburn supplies this amorphous silica fabric to the US Navy and is competing against Chinese shipments of a high-performance fabric used to insulate and resist extreme heat in industrial applications

Because Auburn is the Navy’s leading supplier of ASF, it alleges the uptick in competing imports from China suggests violations of the Buy American Act, which requires 50 percent U.S. content for government purchases, and the Berry Amendment, which has a 100 percent domestic content requirement for textiles procured by the U.S. Defense Department.

BUS AND TRUCK TIRES

On January 29, 2016, in the attached complaint, AD PETITION Truck Bus Tires China 701-731 (3), the United Steelworkers union and Titan International Corp., a US tire manufacturer, filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case against imports of more than $1 billion truck and bus tires from China, and also India and Sri Lanka.

STAINLESS STEEL PETITION

On February 12, 2016, in the attached complaint, STAINLESS STEEL PETITION, a new antidumping and countervailing duty case was filed against Stainless Steel Sheet and Strip from China. The rumor in China is that because Commerce recently is refusing to give State Owned Companies their own dumping margin and since Commerce uses fake prices and costs based on surrogate values, Chinese stainless steel companies have decided not to fight the case because they believe the entire case is rigged and they cannot get a fair result.  When one understands the surrogate value methodology, which Commerce has used for 40 years to deny Chinese companies fair treatment in antidumping cases, one can understand why the companies would take such a position.

MAJOR CHINESE CASE AGAINST THE US–DISTILLER DRIED GRAINS

Meanwhile, the Chinese Government’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) filed its own antidumping and countervailing duty case against imports of $1.5 billion of distiller’s dried grains (DDGs), an animal feed product, from the United States.  By the way, it should be noted that in Chinese antidumping cases against the US, the Chinese government does use actual prices and costs in the United States to calculate antidumping rates for Chinese companies.  In the past, Commerce and the US government in one WTO case objected that the Chinese government used average US costs rather than the specific cost for the specific product in question.  At least the Chinese government uses real US costs.

According to the MOFCOM notices, the petitioner requesting the trade remedy probe is the China Alcoholic Drinks Association. DDGs are a byproduct of the production of ethanol and alcohol products that involve corn as a raw material.

After the last Chinese investigation against the US, US exports of DDGs dropped by 50%. The Chinese government later dropped the investigation in 2012 and US exports/Chinese imports neared pre-investigation levels, reaching roughly 2.1 million tons and subsequently experienced sharp growth in 2013, hitting 4.4 million tons.

Up to Nov. 2015, the U.S. exported roughly $1.5 billion worth of DDGs to China. That is about five times as much as the second-most valued export market, Mexico, which according to USDA data received about $315 million in DDG exports during the same time.

The Chinese Countervailing Duty notice alleges that U.S. DDG exporters received 10 types of countervailable subsidies, including several farm bill programs, such as Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage, and also federally subsidized crop insurance and export credit guarantees. Additionally, the Chinese CVD notice also states that 42 state programs that provide benefits for biofuel production also constitute countervailable subsidies.  The AD duties on the US imports are alleged to be “significant.”

Growth Energy, a US ethanol trade group, in the attached announcement, GROWTH ENERGY CHINA ANTIDUMPING DISTILLER GRAINS, announced:

“We are disappointed to see the initiation of anti-dumping and countervailing duties cases against U.S. DDGS exports to China. The false allegations by the Chinese petitioners have the potential to seriously threaten our largest overseas market for DDGS and could have a significant impact on the supply, demand and price for DDGS in the U.S. and other foreign markets. We are working closely with our members and the U.S. Grains Council as it coordinates an industry response.”

The Us Grains Council in the attached announcement, US GRAINS COUNSEL CHINA AD, stated:

“We are disappointed to see today the initiation of antidumping and countervailing duties investigations of U.S. DDGS exports to China. We believe the allegations by the Chinese petitioners are unwarranted and unhelpful. They could have negative effects on U.S. ethanol and DDGS producers, as well as on Chinese consumers, potentially over a period of many years. We are also confident that our trading practices for DDGS, ethanol and all coarse grains and related products are fair throughout the world. We stand ready to cooperate fully with these investigations and will be working closely with our members to coordinate the U.S. industry response.”

Although many US unions and manufacturers scream that the Chinese government is retaliating against the US trade cases, one should keep in mind that in contrast to the United States, but like Canada, the EU and many other countries, China has a public interest test. Thus, when antidumping and countervailing duty complaints are filed in China, the Chinese government may not initiate them right away because of complaints by the downstream industry.  That is not true in the United States where downstream industries have no standing and there is no public interest test.

TRADE POLICY

TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (“TPP”) CONTINUES TO RUN INTO PROBLEMS

There are ratification problems for the TPP all over the world, including the US, where election politics and other specific problems make it difficult for the TPP to pass the US Congress.

On January 21, 2016, the New Zealand government announced it would hold a ceremony on February 4th to sign the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership in Auckland.  The ceremony officially gave the 12 nations a green light to begin pushing the agreement through their legislatures.  In a brief statement, New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay extended a formal invitation to top trade officials from each TPP country to ink the agreement, which will cover 40 percent of the global economy once it is in effect. Mr. McClay stated:

“Signature will mark the end of the TPP negotiating process. Following signature, all 12 countries will be able to begin their respective domestic ratification processes and will have up to two years to complete that before the agreement enters into force.”

McClay added that once the agreement has been signed, the New Zealand government will begin a series of “roadshows” to promote the TPP and win over public support.

A similar process is already underway in the U.S.  The U.S., however, cannot hold a vote on the agreement until the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) has issued a report on the economic effects of the TPP, which it is expected to do by the middle of May.  Around the time that report is released, the Obama administration is expected to present Congress with legislation to formally implement the TPP.

Once the TPP was signed on February 3rd by the trade ministers for the 12 TPP countries, the trade ministers all pledged to throw their weight into passing the trade deal through their legislatures.  In a Joint Statement, the 12 trade ministers stated:

“Our goal is to enhance shared prosperity, create jobs and promote sustainable economic development for all of our nations. The signing of the agreement signals an important milestone and the beginning of the next phase for TPP. Our focus now turns to the completion of our respective domestic processes.”

USTR Michael Froman, who is in a battle to sell the agreement to the U.S. Congress, stated before the signing that his office would continue to intensify its efforts to engage with lawmakers, many of whom have raised concerns about various aspects of the deal, ranging from its intellectual property rules to cross-border data flow provisions.  Although it looks that there will be no TPP vote on Capitol Hill until after the November elections, Froman stated:

“We are working with our stakeholders. … We are working with the leadership of Congress, educating everybody as to what’s in the agreements, addressing their questions and concerns. And I’m confident at the end of the day, because of the strong benefits to the U.S. economy, … that [the TPP] will have the necessary bipartisan support to be approved.”

Before the signing, USTR Froman outlined the plans to sell the TPP to the lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Froman stated that the signing in New Zealand comes at a time when “momentum for passage is growing” and reiterated his office’s commitment to smoothing out the many TPP concerns that have been voiced by the U.S. Congress.  The USTR stated:

“In the months ahead, in addition to the work that we are doing to ensure that members understand what’s in the agreement, understand the economic benefits on a state-by-state or district-by-district basis, we are going to be focusing congressional engagement in four key areas.”

The first concern, however, is the deal’s level of market exclusivity for biologic drugs, which are high-value medicines used to treat diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. While U.S. law offers 12 years of exclusivity for biologics before generics enter the market, the TPP offers between five and eight years.

Another point of contention has been the exemption of financial service providers from TPP rules barring the forced localization of data servers, a decision that came straight from the U.S. Treasury Department.  Treasury Secretary has testified in Congress that the US Treasury does not want the financial services provides covered by the TPP because of the concerns of US regulators.  Thus the US government itself is the one that exempted the financial service providers from the TPP.  This move has upset providers of the banking, insurance and electronic payment industries and their Congressional champions, who have argued that those industries are just as reliant on the free flow of data across borders as any other industry covered by the agreement.

Republicans, especially those from the South, have also taken issue with the TPP’s removal of tobacco control rules from the list of measures that can be challenged under the agreement’s investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.  The so-called tobacco carve out was meant as a gesture to public health advocates that did not want to see trade agreements used to undermine tobacco regulations. But this has faced criticism from experts who fear it could lead to a troubling trend of U.S. negotiators dropping items from trade deals if the public sentiment against them is strong enough.

At the February 3rd signing, none of the TPP trade ministers made it seem passage of the deal was imminent in their countries.  On February 3, 2016 John Brinkley of Forbes had this to say about the next steps after the TPP signing:

After Signing, TPP’s Future Is Hard To Gauge . . . .

You may ask what that means and what happens now. Probably, the agreement will fade from public view until the 12 signatories submit it to their legislatures for ratification. That could take years.

In order for the TPP to take effect, at least six of the 12 signatories, representing at least 85 percent of their combined gross domestic product, have to ratify it. They would have to include the United States, because the GDPs of the 11 other countries don’t add up to 85 percent of the total.

The Obama administration has some hope that Congress will vote on the TPP this spring. But that looks exceedingly unlikely. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has told Obama that he doesn’t want to bring it up for a vote until after the November elections.

That can only mean a lame duck congressional session in November and/or December, because the next President might not submit it to Congress. All the candidates, Democratic and Republican, have said they oppose the TPP. But that doesn’t mean that whoever gets elected won’t change his or her mind after taking office. It’s happened before. . . .

The TPP is the largest free trade agreement ever negotiated. The 12 parties to it represent 40 percent of global GDP. Opposition to the deal has been intense in several of them.

In Australia, about 305,000 people have signed a petition demanding an independent assessment of the agreement before Parliament votes on it.

In Auckland, New Zealand, about 1,000 protestors Wednesday tried to block access to the Sky City Convention Centre, where the signing took place. There have also been sizeable protests in Japan, Chile and Malaysia.

A TPP without Malaysia or Vietnam or Chile or Peru would still be viable,especially considering the list of countries that hope join it after it takes effect – South Korea, Indonesia, Colombia, the Philippines and others.  But a TPP without the United States? Not possible. And the country where it faces the toughest sledding is the United States of America.

A Pew survey last June found that only 49 percent of Americans saw the agreement as “a good thing for our country.” Pew surveyed people in all 12 TPP countries and found more negativity in only one, Malaysia.

Given the enormity of the TPP, it has generated more controversy here than has any previous free trade agreement. Interest groups representing everything from gay rights to Tea Party hostility to government have taken up arms against it.  There is also a great deal of ambivalence, or downright hostility, to the deal in Congress. It’s not certain that there is enough support in the House and Senate to ratify it. . . .

Republicans, who historically have supported free trade agreements, will probably do what the president-elect wants them to do, if he or she is a Republican. At this point, that means voting no on the TPP.

That is no doubt what McConnell is hoping for. He doesn’t like the TPP’s treatment of the tobacco industry and he doesn’t like Obama. You’ll remember his famous pronouncement of 2009: he said his mission in life was to make sure Obama was a one-term president. Having failed at that, he’s determined not to give the president anything he wants during his last year in office. That could put off a ratification vote until 2017 or later.

Brinkley’s full article can be found at this link http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2016/02/04/399/#110757c32c7d

The Presidential primary is also a major obstacle to the passage of the TPP. Mirroring statements by the Presidential candidates about the TPP, there is substantial divisiveness among lawmakers in Congress, even among party-line Republicans who have historically supported new trade agreements.  The combination of an unexpected level of Republican opposition and the traditional resistance from core Democrats because of union opposition suggests a substantial lag between Froman signing the TPP next month and getting the agreement approved on Capitol Hill.

But Presidential politics have substantially raised concerns that the US is entering a new protectionist era.   On January 28, 2016, the Wall Street Journal in an editorial entitled, ”The Leap of Trump As the GOP nominee or President, he would be a political ‘black swan.“ The Journal stated:

We’ve been critical of Mr. Trump on many grounds and our views have not changed. But we also respect the American public, and the brash New Yorker hasn’t stayed atop the GOP polls for six months because of his charm. Democracies sometimes elect poor leaders—see the last eight years—but their choices can’t be dismissed as mindless unless you want to give up on democracy itself. . . .

The problem is that Mr. Trump is an imperfect vessel for this populism, to say the least.

On politics and policy he is a leap into the known unknown. That so many voters seem willing to take this leap suggests how far confidence in American political leaders has fallen.

We can debate another day how the U.S. got here, but with the voting nigh it’s important to address what a Trump nomination could mean for the GOP and the country. . . .

All of which means that Mr. Trump has the widest electoral variability as a candidate. He could win, but he also could lose 60% to 40%, taking the GOP’s Senate majority down and threatening House control. A Clinton Presidency with Speaker Nancy Pelosi would usher in an era of antigrowth policies worse than even 2009-2010. This is the killer black swan.

And how would Mr. Trump govern as President? Flip a coin. . . .

But history teaches that Presidents try to do what they say they will during a campaign, and Mr. Trump is threatening a trade war with China, Mexico and Japan, among others.

He sometimes says he merely wants to start a negotiation with China that will end happily when it bows to his wishes. China may have other ideas. A bad sign is that Mr. Trump has hired as his campaign policy adviser Stephen Miller, who worked for Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), the most antitrade, anti-immigration Senator. . . .

Republicans should look closely before they leap.

Prior to this Article on January 20, 2016, John Brinkley of Forbes wrote an article entitled, “Trump On Trade: Does He Really Believe This Stuff? Oh, Donald, what are we going to do with you?” The Article states:

During last week’s GOP presidential candidates’ debate, the front-runner Donald Trump said again that the way for the United States to end China’s treachery with regard to trade was to slap a significant tariff on it.

Earlier, he told the New York Times that the tariff rate should be 45 percent.

When Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto asked him about this during the debate, he said, “That’s wrong. They were wrong. It’s the New York Times, they’re always wrong.

Then the Times produced a recording of Trump saying exactly what he said he didn’t say. Busted! . . .

“They (the Chinese) can’t believe how stupid the American leadership is,” he said during the debate. “I’m totally open to a tariff. If they don’t treat us fairly —hey, their whole trade thing is tariff. You can’t deal with China without tariff. They do it to us. We don’t do it. It’s not fair trade.”

He also said, “I know so much about trade with China.”

For the record, WTO members are required to give each other Most Favored Nation status. That means that member countries have to charge the same tariff rate on a particular product on all imports from other members. If China levies a 2 percent tariff on cars from Japan, it has to give the United States and all other WTO members the same treatment. China does not impose anything close to a blanket 45 percent tariff on all U.S. imports.

If the U.S. government were to do as Trump suggests, it would violate a fundamental WTO rule, lead to retaliatory tariffs by China, close the Chinese market to American exporters and start a trade war. That’ll teach ‘em!

If Trump knew as much about trade with China as he claims, he’d know that tariffs aren’t the issue. Of greater concern is China’s proclivity for breaking the rules, such as by dumping products at below cost in the U.S. market.

In addition to dumping, Brinkley went on to complain about various China problems, including counterfeiting and illegal transshipment and then went on to state:

Does Trump know about any of these things? If so, he’s never mentioned it.

Trump made another laughable trade-related vow in a speech Monday at Liberty University. He said that, as president, he would force Apple to make all its products in the U.S.

“We’re going to get Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries,” he said.

He didn’t say how he would do this, but it doesn’t matter, because he couldn’t. It isn’t possible. “There’s no legal way he could do that,” said Chris Cloutier, a trade lawyer with Schagrin Associates in Washington.

I know, I know, refuting Trump’s claims about trade (or about pretty much anything) is like shooting fish in a barrel. So why bother?

(A) Because he claims to know a lot about trade, (B) because his followers take everything he says as fact and (C) because political pundits and prognosticators have begun saying the Trump train has gathered so much speed it may be unstoppable. . . .

Stranger things than a Donald Trump presidency have happened. But I don’t know what they are.

For the full article, see http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2016/01/20/trump-on-trade-does-he-believe-what-he-says/#4508a7055247.

In commenting on this Article to Mr. Brinkley, I made the point that all the arguments he throws at China, in fact, are the reason for Trump’s argument.   Brinkley never mentions that US antidumping cases against China are based on fake numbers and that the game the Commerce Department has created, in fact, has created another game—illegal transshipment. To be clear, Commerce uses fake numbers because dumping is defined as selling at the United States below prices in the home market or below the fully allocated cost of production. Commerce, however, refuses to look at actual prices and costs in China and has refused to do so for close to 40 years.

Commerce instead calculates a cost of production for Chinese companies using consumption factors in China valued by surrogate values from import statistics in 5 to 10 different countries and those countries can change from a preliminary to a final determination and from initial investigation to review after review investigation. These surrogate values have no relationship to the actual prices and costs in China, and, therefore, are fake numbers.  No rational person when he sees dumping rates go from 0 to 57 to over 400% using different surrogate values from different countries could truly believe that the nonmarket economy methodology actually reflects the cost of production in China.  See my last post and the Court of International Trade’s recent decision in the Baoding Glycine case.

On the Democratic side of the Presidential primary, however, there was a small ray of hope. On February 5, 2016, in the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton stated that she could support the TPP if the deal is changed. Senator Bernie Sanders, however, remains adamantly opposed to the deal.

Hilary Clinton stated: that

“I waited until it had actually been negotiated because I did want to give the benefit of the doubt to the administration. Once I saw what the outcome was, I opposed it.”

But Clinton also made clear that her opposition is not set in stone. She indicated that she might support the TPP if it were to undergo certain amendments or alterations, “There are changes that I believe would make a real difference if they could be achieved, but I do not currently support it as it is written.”

Bernie Sanders, however expressed his total contempt for US trade policy, stating:

“We heard all of the people tell us how many great jobs would be created. I didn’t believe that for a second because I understood what the function of NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China and the TPP is. It’s to say to American workers, ‘Hey, you are now competing against people in Vietnam who make 56 cents an hour minimum wage.’”

Meanwhile, Canada was having the same problem with the Canadian press reporting on January 25, 2016, that International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland stated that Canada would sign on to the TPP deal at a ceremony in New Zealand on Feb. 4, but ratification is a matter for Parliament. Apparently, the Liberals in Parliament are still on the fence as to whether or not they support it.  In an open letter posted on the Department’s website, the Trade minister stated:

“Just as it is too soon to endorse the TPP, it is also too soon to close the door.  Signing does not equal ratifying…. Signing is simply a technical step in the process, allowing the TPP text to be tabled in Parliament for consideration and debate before any final decision is made.”

Canada requires a majority vote in the House of Commons to seal the deal. Freeland further stated:

“It is clear that many feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, while others have concerns. Many Canadians still have not made up their minds and many more still have questions.”

Each country, including the United States and Canada, have up to two years to ratify the TPP. Although Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was in favor the deal, now a new government is in power in Canada.  Freeland further stated, “We are strongly in favor of free trade. Having said that, we’re not the government that negotiated the TPP.”

Meanwhile on January 14, 2015, in the attached submission, RANCHERS SUBMISSION ITC TPP, R-CALF USA, the largest trade organization exclusively representing cattle producers within the multi-segmented beef supply chain, in a submission to the ITC announced their opposition to the TPP because it will harm U.S. cattle and sheep industries.

On February 2, 2015, the American Apparel & Footwear Association announced their support of the TPP, but criticized the length of time it will take for the deal to eliminate certain tariff lines. AAFA stated:

“With the TPP covering 40 percent of the world’s GDP and reaching approximately 800 million consumers, the trade pact represents significant opportunities for the clothing, shoe, and accessories industry. For this reason, and after consultation with our members, we are expressing our strong support for the TPP.”

But the AAFA went on to express some concerns that the Agreement was not ambitious enough, stating:

“While there are some immediate opportunities for apparel, most apparel articles are constrained by extremely restrictive rules of origin and long duty phase-outs, meaning benefits will take longer to realize.”

Among the products receiving immediate tariff relief under the TPP are footwear and travel goods, such as handbags, backpacks, and laptop cases, but AAFA stated that “a more accelerated and flexible approach” for apparel and legwear would have created more immediate benefits for producers of those items.

CHINA IS NOT HAPPY WITH THE TPP RHETORIC

While ratification is a problem in the United States Congress, China is not happy with the US government arguments in favor of the TPP that it allows the U.S. to “write the rules of trade” in the Asia-Pacific region offsetting Beijing’s policies.  On February 5, 2015, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang, speaking at his daily press briefing, in response to a question about the TPP’s role as a China containment device, sharply responded:

“We never believe that world trade rules can be made by any specific country alone. We always maintain that the World Trade Organization play a leading role in making global trade rules, and hope that major trading powers and economies would stay committed to upholding the role of the WTO.”

“There is no need to politicize the economic issue. Don’t make people feel that the U.S. is pursuing some political ends throughout the process of promoting the TPP. Remarks as such will mislead the public and do harm to state-to-state relations.”

Most recently, President Barack Obama himself declared in his State of the Union address that with the agreement in place, “China does not set the rules in that region; we do.”

The ironic point is that the Doha Round WTO negotiations collapsed in large part because of the intransigence of the developing countries, led by India, and yes China. Killing the WTO round when there is a TPP alternative was not a good strategy for the developing countries, and yet that is just what they did.  Many scholars have argued that the biggest winners in trade deals are developing countries, and yet India in particular is the country with China’s help that stopped the Doha Round in its tracks.

TPP TEXT AND TRADE ADVISORY REPORTS

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

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

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

On December 2nd and 3rd, 2015 various trade advisory groups operating under the umbrella of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) Group issued reports on the impact of the TPP on various industries and legal areas. All the reports can be found at https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/trans-pacific-partnership/advisory-group-reports-TPP and many of the reports can be found here. ITAC-3-Chemicals-Pharmaceuticals-Health-Science-Products-and-Services ITAC-2-Automobile-Equipment-and-Capital-Goods ITAC-5-Distribution-Services ITAC-8-Information-and-Communication-Technologies-Services-and-Electronic-Commerce ITAC-6-Energy-and-Energy-Services ITAC-9-Building-Materials-Construction-and-Non-Ferrous-Metals ITAC-10-Services-and-Finance-Industries ITAC-12-Steel ITAC-11-Small-and-Minority-Business ITAC-14-Customs-Matters-and-Trade-Facilitation ITAC-15-Intellectual-Property ITAC-16-Standards-and-Technical-Barriers-to-Trade Labor-Advisory-Committee-for-Trade-Negotiations-and-Trade-Policy JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE. Almost all of the reports are favorable, except for the Steel Report, which takes no position, and the Labor Advisory Report, which is opposed because it is the position of the Unions.

NEW TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL

On February 11, 2016, the new trade and customs enforcement bill passed the Senate and is on its way to the President for signature. In an announcement, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) praised the Senate for passing the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, stating:

“We are now sending to the President a bipartisan bill to establish a 21st century customs and border protection system that facilitates trade and strengthens enforcement. This pro-growth bill will make it easier for our workers to compete in global marketplaces and level the playing field.

“By using a Conference Committee to reconcile our differences, this bill also marks a return to regular order. I congratulate the Senate, especially my partners Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden, and I urge President Obama to sign this bill into law as soon as
possible.”

On December 9, 2015, in an announcement, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member, Ron Wyden, announced a final agreement on the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.  A copy of the bill, the conference report and summary of the bill are attached, Trade-and-Environment-Policy-Advisory-Committee.pdf Summary of TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2015 CONFERENCE REPORT TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 20152 JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE.

CHINA’S NME STATUS—ANOTHER HOT TOPIC FOR 2016

As mentioned in the prior blog postlast newsletter, interest groups on both sides of the issue have increased their political attacks in the debate over China’s market economy status in US antidumping and countervailing duty cases. On December 11, 2016, pursuant to the China – World Trade Organization (“WTO”) Accession Agreement, the 15 year provision, expires.

More specifically, with regards to the application of the US antidumping non-market methodology to the Chinese imports, the United States faces a looming deadline under the WTO Agreement. Section 15 of the China WTO Accession Agreement, which originated from the US China WTO Accession Agreement, provides:

  1. Price Comparability in Determining Subsidies and Dumping . . .

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

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

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

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

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

If the Commerce Department is the decision maker, nothing would happen on December 11, 2016, but as USTR Froman states below, the US government has not yet made a determination.

As also mentioned in previous blog posts, the Europeans appear to be leaning to giving China market economy status in December 2016, but the US government is opposed.

On January 21, 2016, the US China Business Council (“USCBC”), which represents many companies doing business in China, such as Boeing, called on the United States to grant China market economy status under the antidumping law as required by the WTO. In its 2016 Board of Directors’ Statement of Priorities in the U.S.-China Commercial Relationship, the USCBC stated that the U.S. should take this step as a way of building “confidence in the bilateral relationship” with China, and solidify the foundation for “mutually beneficial commercial relations.” The USCBC is the first major U.S. business group to weigh in on the issue.

In a conference call with reporters on Jan. 19, USCBC President John Frisbie stated that while the issue is “not on the radar” for a lot of companies because it deals with the minutiae of trade remedy law, there is the potential for a “big problem” in U.S.-China relations if Washington does not grant market economy status to Beijing.  He argued that the U.S. is obligated to automatically grant market economy to China under the terms of the WTO accession protocol and that “attempts to find legal wiggle room in this are pretty thinly supported at best.”

Although the Commerce Department’s position of opposing market economy for China is clear, the USTR has stated that it still has not made a decision on the matter. In Jan. 13 comments at the Wilson Center, USTR Michael Froman said the U.S. government has “not made any decision” with regard to whether the United States should grant market economy status to China.  Froman also denied reports that the U.S. has pushed the European Commission not to grant China market economy status. “We are not encouraging the EU to take any particular position.”

On January 29th, however, it was reported that the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, known as INTA, stated that economic leaders in Brussels should not recognize China as a market economy under the World Trade Organization’s rules, as Beijing has not taken the necessary steps to curtail the government’s influence on commercial activities.  INTA stated:

“It should be clear that EU should speak with a single voice stating that China is not fulfilling, for the time being, the EU five technical criteria for defining a market economy, and the importance to define a common strategy to reinvigorate and apply our anti-dumping procedures on various products suffering from the strong trade distortion caused by Chinese exporting companies.”

On January 29, 2016, European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom stated that the Commission plans to conduct an impact assessment on granting China market economy status (MES) in antidumping cases that will weigh not only the legal and economic implications, but any potential geopolitical fallout as well.

In a Jan. 28 speech in Brussels to the European Chamber Of Commerce In China (ECCC), and in a Jan. 27 letter to members of the European Parliament, Malmstrom left no doubt that a major part of this analysis will involve an assessment of how failing to grant MES to China might impact relations with Beijing stating, “The Commission is now examining the implications of this [expiration], including the economic impact of any change to our anti-dumping rules,”  Malmstrom further stated in her ECCC prepared remarks. “But let me be clear that the overall economic importance of our close relationship with China is also an important part of our analysis.”

In response to a December letter from two members of the center-right European People’s Party, Malmstrom stated:

“I take good note of the concerns you express in your letter and I appreciate the points you raise, given in particular that this is a very complex issue and one which demands that we take full account of all the legal, economic and political ramifications. The Commission is carefully analyzing the legal implications of the expiry of certain provisions of China’s WTO accession protocol and carrying out an impact assessment.”

Several sources said Malmstrom is personally in favor of granting China MES, and one insisted this view is shared by the commission’s director-general for trade, Jean-Luc Demarty.

On February 5, 2016, it was reported that the European Commission is considering at least four changes to the way it enforces its trade remedy law that it believes would blunt the impact of extending market economy status to China in antidumping cases and thereby make that change more politically palatable to affected domestic industries.

The first of these measures is the so-called “cost adjustment” methodology, which the EU has previously used in AD cases to offset what it considers to be the artificially low price of Russian gas. But the cost adjustment methodology has been challenged at the WTO by Russia and Argentina, and its legal soundness is therefore in question.

Second, sources say the commission has suggested it could eliminate the EU’s “lesser duty rule,” which generally imposes AD duties only in the amount necessary to offset the injury to the domestic industry.

A third mitigating measure the Commission has floated is “strengthening” the antisubsidy enforcement, most likely by devoting greater resources to investigating the web of subsidy programs provided at different levels of government in China.

Fourth, it has proposed “grandfathering” in the dozens of existing AD orders against Chinese imports that are already on the books in the EU.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom this week said that it would be “politically unrealistic” to simply grant MES to China in the context of AD cases without taking some form of mitigating steps. She spoke on Feb. 1 at the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, France.

Both Lange and Malmstrom said they would be discussing the issue with Beijing, and the commissioner underscored that not granting China MES at all “might have an impact on our trade and investment relations” with China, which could have a cost for EU business. “These effects are very difficult, if not impossible, to estimate in advance,” she warned.

But it was also reported on February 5th, that a European Commission analysis projects that granting market economy status (MES) to China in antidumping (AD) cases without mitigating measures could directly cost as much as 188,300 jobs in affected European Union industries.

On February 10, 2016, the European Commission issued a notice requesting public comment by April 20 on whether the Commission should make China a market economy pursuant to the WTO Agreement. In the Notice the European Commission stated:

“This public consultation is part of an in-depth impact assessment that will include a careful study of the economic effects of any potential change broken down by member states, with a particular focus on jobs”

While the Commerce Department may make its decision within the context of a specific case, an EU policy shift would require a change to the law. The European Commission was very clear about the impact of the legal change in the notice:

“Should an amendment of the anti-dumping legislation be deemed necessary, this may result in lower anti-dumping duties which may not offset the negative effects of dumping and may further increase dumped imports causing further injury to the EU industries concerned.  This in turn may result in putting a number of jobs in the EU at risk.”

CRISIS IN US TRADE POLICY WITH ALUMINUM FACTORIES CLOSING, NEW RAW ALUMINUM TRADE CASES COMING, AND THE FAILURE OF TAA FOR COMPANIES TO HELP LARGER COMPANIES

As indicated in my last blog post, in light of the impact of the aluminum extrusions case on the US market, the import problem has now moved upstream. The next round of antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China looks like it will be on raw aluminum products.   But the aluminum story will probably parallel the steel story over the last 40 years.

The US Aluminum Industry will probably bring many antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China aimed at Chinese aluminum imports based on nonmarket economy methodology with fake numbers resulting in high antidumping rates shutting out the Chinese product.  But the Chinese imports will be simply replaced by imports from other countries, such as Korea, where the Commerce Department will use normal market economy antidumping methodology resulting in low, if not 0%, antidumping rates against those countries.  So in the long run antidumping and countervailing duty cases cannot save the US manufacturing companies, only slow the decline.

On February 6, 2016, in an e-mail to his constituents, however, Congressman Dave Reichert, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means, illustrated the real human costs of the trade war. In the attached e-mail he mentioned the impact of aluminum imports on aluminum manufacturing companies in Washington State and the loss of jobs in his district, stating:

Support for Local Workers

In November of last year, the aluminum manufacturing company, Alcoa, announced its plans to idle its smelting operations in Ferndale and Malaga, Washington, resulting in the loss of 880 local jobs. Many of these employees had worked at the plant for years and depended on that employment to provide for their families.

I am pleased to say that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) approved assistance for these workers in the form of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) after several members of the Washington Delegation and I requested support for them.

Now these workers will have the opportunity to receive job training, assistance in finding new employment, and aid as they reenter the workforce.

Retraining under the TAA for Workers program may be a nice idea for the aluminum workers from these factories, but retraining means nothing if the jobs do not exist. That is why the labor unions are so adamantly opposed to Trade Agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, and at least on the face opposed to TAA for Workers because the retraining does not result in employment at comparable wages. Thus when it comes to the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), the labor unions have been very clear that they want to “kill the rotten” and that is why so many Democratic Congressmen and Senators oppose the TPP and other Trade Agreements.

But there is now a much bigger problem created by this trade crisis, which could result in the United States moving into a much more protectionist era with high tariffs on imports from many different countries, including China and Mexico. The loss of jobs by manufacturing industries and for the lower middle class, in truth, is a major reason for the rise of Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Saunders in the Presidential primary.  The outsiders are the ones surging in the Presidential primary in New Hampshire because many of their supporters are blue collar workers in the lower middle class, who strongly believe that the US Government has forgotten about them and simply does not care about them.  If Donald Trump or Bernie Saunders becomes President, based on their statements in the primaries, they would reject the Trans Pacific Partnership and could literally tear up past trade agreements, such as NAFTA.  US Trade Policy is facing a crisis and the possible move into a much more protectionist era created by a major failure in Trade Policy.

On February 11, Dan Henniger for the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “Donald Trump Among the Canaries” compared Trump to the canary in the Coal Mine that warns miners if there are toxic gases in the mine stating:

Just as dying canaries warned coal workers that the shaft was filling with toxic gases, New Hampshire’s voters have told the political status quo, to coin a phrase, you are killing us.

As Henniger goes on to state, however, the core of Trump’s argument is his attack on Trade:

At the core of the Trump campaign is one policy idea: imposing a 45% tariff on goods imported from China. In his shouted, red-faced victory speech Tuesday, he extended the trade offensive to Japan and Mexico.

Some detail: Combining the value of goods we sell to them and they to us, China, Mexico and Japan are the U.S’s Nos. 1, 3 and 4 trading partners (Canada is No. 2). They are 35% of the U.S.’s trade activity with the world. The total annual value of what U.S. producers—and of course the workers they employ—sell to those three countries is $415 billion. . . .

Mr. Trump says the threat alone of a tariff will cause China to cave. Someone should ask: What happens if they don’t cave? Incidentally, unlike Mexico, China has between 200 and 300 nuclear warheads and 2.4 million active-duty forces. Irrelevant?

In contrast to Japan and Taiwan, which are dependent upon the United States for their national security, what these nuclear warheads mean is that if the United States throws a trade rock at China, China will throw a trade rock back. That is just what is happening in the US China Trade War today.

That failure in US Trade Policy, however, is the US failure of Congress to support the only trade program that works and saves import injured manufacturing companies—the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Firms/Companies program. As stated in prior blog posts, because of ideological purity among many Republican conservatives in Congress and the Senate, the TAA for Companies program has been cut to $12.5 million nationwide.  This cut is despite the fact that since 1984 here in the Northwest, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”) has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program.

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

This cut back to $12. 5 million nationwide makes it impossible for the TAA for Companies program to work with larger US companies, which have been injured by imports. The TAA for Companies program simply does not have the resources to do the job, and hard right conservatives see any Government support as anathema to their ideology of no interference in the marketplace.  Their position is no government help despite the fact that government actions, the trade agreements, have caused the problem.

Thus a large Alcoa Aluminum factory is not a company that can take advantage of the program. Alcoa would not submit themselves to a petition process for a mere $75,000.   TAA for Companies simply cannot do much when a factory closes.  Working with a factory the size of Alcoa’s, however, would be working with an entity that vastly exceeds anything in the $12.5 million TAA for Companies program.

TAA for Companies is hamstrung by neglect with a maximum technical assistance per firm level that has not changed in at least 30 years. This forces the TAA Centers in the United States to focus on small and medium size enterprises (under $50M in sales) while the big job creators are the larger Medium Size Enterprise, which account for most of the sector’s well-known job creation performance.

In case you don’t know about TAAF, this is a program that offers a one-time, highly targeted benefit to domestic companies hurt by trade. The benefit is not paid to the companies, but to consultants, who help the company adjust to import competition.

The program is amazingly effective.   Between 2010 and 2014, 896 companies with more than 90,000 employees in the program increased average sales by 40% and employment by 20%, achieving impressive double-digit productivity gains.   Essentially, all of the 15,090 jobs lost to imports before company participation in the TAAF program were regained.

To put that in context, the very much larger TAA for Worker Program’s appropriation for FY 2015 was $711 million. The TAA for Worker (TAAW) Program spends roughly $53,000 per year to retrain a single employee AFTER a job has been lost due to trade.   The mission for each program is very different – TAAF’s primary mission is to save the company AND the jobs, while TAAW’s mission is to retrain workers after the jobs have already been lost.   Now you should ask which is the smarter investment?

Moreover, when the company is saved, it and its workers pay Federal and State taxes so the program essentially pays for itself. The more stunning fact – if the TAAF program saves just 300 jobs per year on a national basis for which TAA for Worker resources of $53,000 aren’t required for retraining efforts, the program easily pays for itself up to its $16 million authorization level.

Global trade has evolved over the past 40 years and perhaps it’s time for trade policy to adapt to those changes.   The original mission for TAA was more concerned with the impact of increased imports on US workers, and the vast majority of funds have been dedicated to the TAA for Workers program.   The landscape has changed as more than 5 million manufacturing jobs have been lost in the last 40 years, and the mission for TAA must now shift to maintaining a robust core of manufacturing companies and jobs. Without a vibrant core of manufacturing firms, the US won’t have the capacity or capabilities to achieve growth through export expansion no matter how many free trade agreements are passed, and all the training in the world is not going to bring back those manufacturing jobs.

TRADE

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS – THE COURT OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE STRIKES BACK

On November 20, 2015, the Commerce Department issued its final determination in the 2013-2014 antidumping review investigation of aluminum extrusions from China.  Based on surrogate values, Commerce issued antidumping rates of 86.01%, but for companies that did not cooperate, Commerce issued antidumping rates of only 33.28%.

In addition, in the Countervailing Final Determination for 2013, Commerce issued a countervailing duty rate ranging from 3.59% to 222.82% with most companies receiving a rate of 61.36% rate.  See CVD Aluminum Extrusions 2013 Final Review Notice.3424528-01 CVD Aluminum Extrusions 2013 Decision Memo.3424530-01 CVD FINAL DECISION MEMO

As mentioned in prior blog posts, the Commerce Department has been expanding the scope of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders to include multiple products, such as curtain walls, the sides of buildings, auto parts, refrigerator handles, geodesic domes and multiple other products. In two recent decisions, the Court of International Trade has struck back.

But on February 10th in the Court of International Trade case, Shenyang Yuanda Aluminum Industry Engineering Co. Ltd., Jango Curtain Wall Americas Co. and Permasteelisa North America Corp. v. United States case, SHENYANG CURTAIN WALL CASEJudge Pogue reversed and remanded the Commerce Department/s determination that curtain wall units are covered the aluminum extrusions from China antidumping order.  In that decision, Senior Judge Pogue stated:

Because Commerce’s scope ruling redefines key terms contrary to the plain language of the AD&CVD Orders, it is not in accordance with law; because it does not reasonably consider the characteristics of Plaintiffs’ merchandise and the evidence that weighs against the agency’s determination, it is unsupported by substantial evidence; because it offers insufficient reasons for treating similar products differently, it is arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the court remands to Commerce for further consideration in accordance with this opinion.

Judge Pogue then describes the Curtain Wall Units in question:

Because “complete curtain wall units form part of a larger curtain wall system specifically designed for a building,” unassembled curtain wall units “are sold and delivered to the job site in segments pursuant to the schedule stipulated in the contract to supply the larger system. If that system is “for a multi-story skyscraper,” then it may require shipments of curtain wall units and installation hardware “over a period of months,” with “[e]ach entry dovetail[ing] with the contractor’s construction schedule so that complete curtain wall units can be immediately installed onto the building when the container arrives at the job site.”

Judge Pogue pointed to subassemblies stating:

While Commerce “enjoys substantial freedom to interpret and clarify its antidumping duty orders, it can neither change them, nor interpret them in a way contrary to their terms.” Here, Commerce has changed and expanded the terms of the AD&CVD Orders by redefining “subassembly” and ignoring the scope language that limits products covered.

Accordingly, Commerce’s Redetermination is not in accordance with law. . . .

In contrast, Commerce does not consider the ample evidence on the administrative record defining and explaining the product at issue here. Commerce does not consider whether a single-entry, unitized curtain wall is a real product, outside the realm of its own ungainly semantic gymnastics, that is imported with any regularity into the United States.

On February 1, 2016, in Whirlpool Corp. v. United States, WHIRLPOOL ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS SCOPE, the CIT ruled that certain refrigerator door handles should not be included in the Aluminum Extrusions case, while also ruling that other handles should have been included in the case.

THE ONGOING STEEL CASES

On February 9, 2016, the US Steel Companies urged the Obama Administration to use all channels to obtain details from China regarding its promise to cut steel production capacity.  Thomas Gibson, the president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), stated in a press conference made clear that there has been no official information on China’s promised capacity cuts, just Chinese press reports stating that the State Council has announced it will begin this year to cut 100-150 million tons of overcapacity over five years.

Many pundits, however, are questioning the Chinese government’s economic data making it hard to discern what’s really happening in the economy. China has a glut of old-line factories that make products like steel, glass and cement. That industrial overcapacity stems from years of debt financed investment in industries that now show little sign that they can repay those loans.

According to Chinese statistics, China produced 804 million tons of steel last year, even as demand faltered. Over all, China’s steel-making capacity was set to reach 1.17 billion tons last year.

The Chinese government’s State Council, or cabinet recently announced that it would close 100 million to 150 million tons of steel-making capacity. That would mean cutting capacity by an amount similar to the total annual steel output of Japan, the world’s No. 2 steel maker.

But it is a balancing act for the Chinese authorities. Li Xinchuang, the head of the China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute, recently told the official Xinhua news agency that the planned steel mill closings could cost 400,000 jobs. “Large-scale redundancies in the steel sector could threaten social stability,” he warned.

If you have any questions about these cases or about the US trade policy, 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 POLICY, TRADE, PRODUCTS LIABILITY, 337/IP ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Shanghai Bund at Night China Flags Cars with Trademarks obscuredTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER JANUARY 13, 2016

Dear Friends,

This January newsletter will cover trade policy, trade, general litigation, 337/patents, antitrust and securities .

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE POLICY

TPP RUNS INTO HEADWINDS

As predicted in past blog posts, on December 28, 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that the US Election Debate was complicating the passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) in Congress. The Wall Street Journal specifically stated:

The trade agreement is expected to lead to some job losses and boost competition for some companies—including labor-intensive manufacturers and Detroit auto makers.

Still, many economists say it would generate overall gains to U.S. gross domestic product and increase incomes for many Americans in ways that improve the overall economy.

The TPP’s potential to create vocal middle-class losers makes the agreement harder to pass in an election year, since the winners, even if more numerous, are likely to be less motivated.

GOP lawmakers and officials, backed by big businesses, have more reliably supported trade agreements than Democrats, who tend to be closer to the labor movement. Among the broad electorate, blue-collar workers of both parties are skeptical of freer trade.

Recently Republican voters have emerged as bigger opponents, a shift not lost on the tea-party movement and Mr. Trump. In a recent Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, 56% of Democrats said free trade is good for America, compared with 48% of Republicans.

Trade experts say Mr. Trump’s policies would make him, if elected, the biggest fan of tariffs since the late 19th century presidency of William McKinley. . . .

For Mr. Cruz or another GOP president, White House policy on trade would likely depend on whether the party is controlled by the pro-business wing that has dominated the party since World War II or shifts toward protectionist ideas espoused by Mr. Trump.

Meanwhile on December 10, 2015, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced that there would be no vote on the TPP until after the election.  McConnell indicated that he was undecided on the vote, but he was sure that the TPP would be defeated if it were sent to Capitol Hill next spring or summer.  McConnell further stated:

“It certainly shouldn’t come before the election. I don’t think so, and I have some serious problems with what I think it is. But I think the President would be making a big mistake to try to have that voted on during the election. There’s significant pushback all over the place.

Yeah, I think it would be a big mistake to send it up before the election.

The next president, whoever that is, will have the authority to either revisit this one, if it doesn’t pass, or finish the European deal or other deals, and give Congress a chance to weigh in on it,”

McConnell who opposes the tobacco provisions in the TPP, has joined with Sen. Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), the Senate Finance Committee chairman, who was also a key supporter of the fast-track legislation, but has raised particular concerns about provisions related to pharmaceutical companies. Utah has a growing pharmaceutical industry.

McConnell’s and Hatch’s concerns have reduced the enthusiasm among the Republicans as the debate over trade policies on the 2016 campaign trail has become entangled in Presidential politics. Several top contenders for the GOP presidential nomination, including Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.), have denounced the pact, and all of the Democratic candidates, including Hillary Clinton and Bernie Saunders, oppose it.

On January 7, 2016, however, the White House pushed for a TPP vote sooner rather than later, arguing for a quick vote warning that a delay of the vote to the lame-duck session of Congress or into the next administration would be a significant lost opportunity. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said in a press briefing that Congress should act quickly to ratify the plan amid recent turbulence in the China stock market, which some media reports have said is in its worst shape since the global financial crisis.  He further stated that the best way for the U.S. economy to weather volatility in international markets is through the TPP:

“I’m not suggesting that Congress should fast-forward through that process and vote today.  But I am suggesting that we should move expeditiously through this process and that Congress should not wait until the end of the year or even next year to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement.”

One point in favor of TPP is that on January 4, 2016 the National Association of Manufacturers announced that they were in support of the TPP. NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons stated:

“After careful analysis, the NAM will support the TPP as it will open markets and put manufacturers in a much stronger position to compete in an important and growing region of the world.

We recognize this agreement is not perfect, and there are some principled objections to the TPP, so the NAM will continue to work closely with its members to address remaining barriers.

Importantly, we encourage the administration to work closely with the industry, Congressional leaders and the other TPP governments to address these key issues.”

Subsequently, a coalition of top U.S. CEOs from the Business Roundtable gave the TPP a firm endorsement, but urged the Obama administration to quickly alter portions of the deal that are not up to par. As the Business Round Table International Engagement Committee stated:

“We want Congress to approve the TPP this year. To that end, we are urging the administration to quickly address the remaining issues that impact certain business sectors in order to ensure the broadest possible benefits to all sectors of U.S. business, which will enable the broadest support possible for the TPP.”

But in addition to tobacco and pharmaceutical problems in the TPP, another issue is banking and data flows. On January 12, 2016, in a letter to three Cabinet Secretaries, a bipartisan group of 63 Congressional representatives urged the Obama administration officials to correct the Trans-Pacific Partnership’s exclusion of financial services from the agreement’s e-commerce chapter, warning that the current text of the deal leaves banks exposed to risky data storage rules. The letter stated:

“Omission of these disciplines in the TPP is a missed opportunity to ensure that all U.S. companies benefit from strong rules prohibiting localization requirements. We note that such disciplines can be included in trade agreements while maintaining the ability of U.S. regulators to protect consumers through prudential regulation.”

The TPP’s e-commerce chapter contains a general ban on the localization of data through the establishment of expensive in-country servers. But the lawmakers argued that the banking, insurance and securities industries are not different from other sectors that depend on the unimpeded flow of data to keep their businesses running in the World marketplace.  The letter further states:

“These types of requirements not only impair the competitiveness of U.S. companies but also reduce overall data security and create inefficiencies. We request that your agencies use all available measures to address the existing gaps in the TPP. In addition, going forward, we request that there be a single approach that prohibits localization requirements in future trade and investment agreements.”

Recently, John Brinkley writing for Forbes rebutted many of the Arguments against the TPP.  See http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2016/01/13/for-trans-pacific-partnership-opponents-noting-short-of-perfect-will-suffice/#29e99cb6563d433c578b563d

TPP TEXT AND TRADE ADVISORY REPORTS

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

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

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

On December 2nd and 3rd, 2015 various trade advisory groups operating under the umbrella of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) Group issued reports on the impact of the TPP on various industries and legal areas. All the reports can be found at https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/trans-pacific-partnership/advisory-group-reports-TPP and many of the reports are attached here, ITAC-16-Standards-and-Technical-Barriers-to-Trade Labor-Advisory-Committee-for-Trade-Negotiations-and-Trade-Policy ITAC-15-Intellectual-Property ITAC-9-Building-Materials-Construction-and-Non-Ferrous-Metals ITAC-10-Services-and-Finance-Industries ITAC-12-Steel ITAC-11-Small-and-Minority-Business ITAC-14-Customs-Matters-and-Trade-Facilitation ITAC-8-Information-and-Communication-Technologies-Services-and-Electronic-Commerce ITAC-6-Energy-and-Energy-Services ITAC-2-Automobile-Equipment-and-Capital-Goods ITAC-3-Chemicals-Pharmaceuticals-Health-Science-Products-and-Services ITAC-5-Distribution-Services Intergovernmental-Policy-Advisory-Committee-on-Trade ATAC-Sweeteners-and-Sweetener-Products ATAC-Grains-Feed-Oilseed-and-Planting-Seeds ATAC-Processed-Foods ATAC-Fruits-and-Vegetables ATAC-Animals-and-Animal-Products Agricultural-Policy-Advisory-Committee. Almost all of the reports are favorable, except for the Steel Report, which takes no position, and the Labor Advisory Report, which is opposed because it is the position of the Unions.

NEW TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL

On December 9, 2015, in the attached announcement, Trade-and-Environment-Policy-Advisory-Committee.pdf, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady and Senate Finance Committee Ranking Member, Ron Wyden, announced a final agreement on the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.

A copy of the bill, the conference report and summary of the bill are attached, Summary of TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2015 CONFERENCE REPORT TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 20152 JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE. The bill has not yet passed the Senate.

CHINA’S NME STATUS—ANOTHER HOT TOPIC FOR 2016

Interest groups on both sides of the issue have increased their political attacks in the debate over China’s market economy status. On December 11, 2016, pursuant to the WTO Agreement, the 15 year provision, expires.

More specifically, the United States faces a looming deadline under the WTO Agreement with regard to the application of this nonmarket economy methodology to China. Section 15 of the China WTO Accession Agreement, which originated from the US China WTO Accession Agreement, provides:

  1. Price Comparability in Determining Subsidies and Dumping . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

In November 2015 European Union Industry Commissioner Elzbieta Bienkowska told the European Parliament that geopolitical considerations must be weighed against the industrial interests of the EU in the evaluation of extending market economy status (NME) to China.

On October 30, 2015, it was reported that during a visit to China, German Chancellor Angela Merkel backs more ‘market economy status’ for China – with certain conditions. More specifically, German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated:

“Germany supports, in general, China’s claim to get the market economy status. At the same time China has to do some homework, for example in the area of public procurement. But we want to advance the process – as we want to do that with the EU-China investment agreement.”

Under the NME methodology, administering authorities in countries administering antidumping laws, such as the US Commerce Department, do not use actual costs and prices in China to determine antidumping rates. Instead the administering authorities use values in various surrogate countries, which in the Commerce Department’s case, can change between preliminary and final determinations and various review investigations to determine the foreign value.  As a result, neither the Commerce Department nor other foreign countries can know whether China is truly dumping.

The European Union Industry commission is seen as strongly favoring a change to market economy status for China, but the European parliament has not taken such a strong stand.

In the U.S., the Commerce Department has taken the position that it will not automatically bestow market economy status on China, but will consider if it meets the statutory criteria for doing so in the context of a specific case if it receives a properly filed petition.

Other countries that are not likely to bestow automatic market economy status to China at the end of 2016 are Japan, Canada, Brazil and India.

On Dec. 30, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Lu Kang made clear that China is pushing for the granting of market economy status, stating:

“We hope that the EU can set a good example in obeying the WTO rules and take substantive actions to meet its obligations under Article 15 of the Protocol, which will also facilitate the development of China-EU economic and trade ties.”

Steel industries and unions in both the US and EU are fighting hard against giving China market economy status. As indicated below, steel experts have been pointing to the large overcapacity of the Chinese steel industry.  But with almost all Chinese steel blocked from entry into the US by large antidumping and countervailing duties, it is questionable how much weight such arguments will be given.

The only two major Chinese steel products still coming into the US are galvanized and cold-rolled steel, and based on surrogate values, Commerce just issued very high antidumping and countervailing duty rates against both products, wiping them out of the US market. Currently, if not all, almost all, steel products from China are covered by an AD order and often also a CVD order, including carbon steel plate, hot rolled carbon steel flat products, circular welded carbon quality steel pipe, light walled rectangular pipe and tube, circular welded carbon quality steel line pipe, circular welded austenitic stainless pressure pipe, steel threaded rod, oil country tubular goods, prestressed concrete steel wire strand, seamless carbon and alloy steel standard line and pressure pipe, high pressure steel cylinders, prestreessed concrete steel rail tire wire, non-oriented electrical steel, and carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod.

On Dec. 22, the United Steelworkers (“USW”) union, according to a USW press release, held a private meeting in Minnesota with White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, as well as Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Al Franken (D-MN), at which they discussed the “urgency of federal, state and local government authorities to provide more immediate relief against the global onslaught of steel imports that have shut down half of the region’s steel sector mining jobs,”  Emil Ramirez, director for USW District 11 — which covers Midwestern states including Minnesota, Missouri and Montana — said at the meeting that the union is “at war with China’s illegal steel imports flooding into our market.” He added that China had in some months in 2015 dumped more than 100,000 tons of cold-rolled steel into the U.S. market, contributing to mining job losses in Northern Minnesota’s so-called “Iron Range” A day later, the union welcomed what it called a “whopping” 255.8% preliminary AD rate on Chinese corrosion-resistant steel based on surrogate values, despite the fact that all the other antidumping rates against other countries based on actual prices and costs were in the single digits or 0s.

On October 26, 2015, Leo Gerard, who heads the Steel Union, sent the following attached letter,USW CHINA NME , to USTR Michael Froman about steel imports and China’s market economy status:

Dear Ambassador Froman:

I am writing to you regarding the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and the potential for U.S manufacturing interests to be adversely affected by how the European Union (EU) may change its current treatment of the People’s Republic of China (China) as a non-market economy.

As you well know, under the terms of China’s Protocol of Access to the World Trade Organization, other WTO members had the right to treat the PRC as a non-market economy (NME) for purposes of antidumping and countervailing duty laws. One clause regarding the treatment of China expires on December 11, 2016, but the remaining language continues to operate. This has led to an active effort by China to end its treatment as a non-market economy by those countries which continue to treat it as such so as to gain preferential treatment. The media has suggested that while the EU has not decided how it will proceed, an internal EU memo argues for granting market economy treatment. This memo is not yet public. How China is treated under U.S. and EU antidumping laws is critical to workers and companies in both countries. With massive distortions in most aspects of the Chinese economy, changing China’s status before their economy in fact operates on market principles on a sustained and verifiable basis will have far reaching consequences for workers, companies and communities across the U.S. and the EU. If the EU makes a change in treatment of China under its antidumping law when China has not in fact truly engaged in comprehensive reform of its economy, there will be broad repercussions for how fair market conditions will be assessed in Europe and, in terms of U.S. exports to the EU, could result in dramatically lower opportunities for the export of America’s manufactured products.

As noted, press reports indicate that the EU is considering granting China market economy status in the near future, despite overwhelming evidence of the continued state-led direction, intervention, subsidization and control of that country’s economy and its firms. If the EU chooses to grant China this preferential status, either for the country as a whole or for individual sectors or firms, it will subject U.S. products to a potential risk of having to compete against unfairly traded products in the EU and, potentially, as components in products shipped to the U.S. or to third country markets. Thus, the EU’s decisions in this area must be addressed as part of the ongoing TTIP negotiations and that any alterations in their treatment of China as a NME be subject to dispute resolution and potential compensation for any adverse effects it may have on the U.S., producers and workers

The TPP negotiations have overshadowed the TTIP negotiations and, as a result, many important issues are receiving limited attention. The EU’s potential actions in this area must not be viewed simply as a matter for the EU Commission to consider but, rather, must be addressed in terms of their potential impact on the U.S. manufacturing sector and its employees.

I look forward to working with you on this important matter.

Sincerely,

Leo W. Gerard

International President

CHINA CURRENCY APPROVED BY THE INTERENATIONAL MONETARY FUND AS A MAIN WORLD CURRENCY

In the past, one of the arguments that Commerce has used to deny China market economy status is that the Chinese yuan/RMB is not convertible.   On November 30, 2015, however, in the attached announcement, IMF PRESS RELEASE, the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) announced that the Chinese renminbi will become the fifth currency to be included in the organization’s international reserve asset that supplements member countries’ official reserves.

As the IMF stated the renminbi, or RMB, will join the U.S. dollar, the euro, the Japanese yen and the British pound on Oct. 1, 2016, in a basket of currencies known as the Special Drawing Right, which plays a critical role in providing liquidity to the global economic system, especially during financial crises, the IMF said.

IMF managing director Christine Lagarde stated that the executive board’s decision is “an important milestone” recognizing China’s integration in the international financial system:

“It is also a recognition of the progress that the Chinese authorities have made in the past years in reforming China’s monetary and financial systems. The continuation and deepening of these efforts will bring about a more robust international monetary and financial system, which in turn will support the growth and stability of China and the global economy.”

Lagarde’s decision was based on a paper prepared by IMF staff, which determined that the RMB is a “freely usable” currency.

The IMF. designation, an accounting unit known as the special drawing rights, bestows global importance. Many central banks follow this benchmark in building their reserves, which countries hold to help protect their economies in times of trouble. By adding the renminbi to this group, the IMF effectively considers a currency to be safe and reliable.

EXIM BANK RISES FROM THE DEAD BUT THEN RUNS INTO A NEW ROADBLOCK

Congress let the Export-Import (“EXIM”) Bank’s lending authority expire after June 30, but a number of Republicans in the House of Representatives, including Congressman Dave Reichert, currently Chairman Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means,  joined Democrats to force a vote in October to resurrect the Bank. The House attached Ex-Im to a highway funding bill and stopped ten amendments that would have limited the bank’s scope. This highway/Ex-Im bill passed the House 363 to 64.  In December negotiators from both chambers of Congress reached an agreement that revived the bank’s lending authority through Sept. 30, 2019.

On December 3, 2015, the Senate passed the Transportation Bill with the Reauthorization of the EX-IM Bank, and on December 4, 2015, President Obama signed the bill into law.

The arguments for the EX-IM Bank are many, as Steve Myrow, who used to work at the EXIM Bank, stated in an Article in The Hill on July 9, 2014:

The debate over reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank has become the latest proxy battle between the conservative and establishment wings of the Republican Party. However, this issue should not be used as an ideological litmus test. Instead, it should evoke a practical and constructive dialogue about how best to level the playing field for American businesses overseas while protecting taxpayers here at home.

Founded in 1934, the Export-Import Bank’s mission has not changed throughout its 80-year history. Its raison d’être has always been to create jobs at home by financing the sale of American goods and services abroad. Ex-Im Bank does not compete with private-sector lenders, but rather seeks to match the foreign government support that U.S. firms’ foreign competitors enjoy.

When I served in the bank’s leadership in President George W. Bush’s administration, our overarching goal was to steer the bank between two beacons — one focused on creating jobs and the other on protecting the taxpayers.

We believed, as did members of Congress on both sides of the aisle, that an ideal way to navigate these two beacons was to convert the bank into one of the only truly self-sustaining government agencies.

By making the bank stand on its own two feet and rely solely on its revenue stream to fund its operations, we not only made it possible for companies to grow high-quality domestic jobs, but we earned a profit for the taxpayers.

Few government agencies can claim to have reduced the deficit, a fact that should be especially welcome during the current era of austerity.

Nevertheless, some of the bank’s Congressional detractors argue that it distorts the market by providing a subsidy. It’s true that in a perfect market, subsidies should not exist. But unfortunately, the real world is not a perfect market. Most countries that meaningfully benefit from international trade provide varying degrees of export subsidies.

Some identify specific firms as their national champions and others, like China, even provide financing on terms more akin to development assistance.

To put it another way, should the U.S. unilaterally disarm just because atomic weapons are undesirable? Of course not. We need a nuclear arsenal because other countries have them. The same is true for maintaining an export credit agency. Ex-Im Bank’s role is to ensure that U.S. exporters get a fair chance to compete based on quality, price and service, rather than on the basis of financing assistance.

For the full article, see http://thehill.com/blogs/pundits-blog/international/211664-congress-should-bank-on-success

But despite the many arguments in favor of the EXIM bank and the passage of the reauthorization, EXIM is not out of the woods yet. Senator Shelby, Chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, has held up nominations for the EXIM bank Board of Directors.  Because there is no quorum, the failure to appoint a new director means that no large projects, such as the sale of Boeing airplanes or sales of GE products, can be approved.

EXIM’s board of directors has only two of the five members it is supposed to have, including Chairman Fred Hochberg. That means it cannot approve loans above $10 million, which make up about a third, value-wise, of EXIM’s transactions.

More specifically, Democrats have sought consent for the nomination of Patricia Loui-Schmicker to the EXIM Bank board of directors, despite the fact that the White House sought a second term for her in March 2015. Loui-Schmicker is needed to give the Ex-Im bank five-member board a quorum. The panel reviews Ex-Im Bank loans above $10 million.

On January 11th, President Obama withdrew the nomination of Democrat Loui-Schmicker and nominated John Mark Mcwatters, a former staffer to House Financial Services Chairman Jeb Hensarling, to fill one of the vacant Republican seats on the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors. McWatters’ former boss, Hensarling, chairman of the House’s Financial Services Committee, has led efforts to shut down the Export-Import Bank.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Richard Shelby, who opposed Ex-Im’s reauthorization last year, however, has expressed little interest in acting on any nominees to fill its board openings. On January 11, 2016, Senator Shelby indicated that clearing the panel’s backlog of nominees might not see much progress before his March 1 primary in Alabama, stating, “I’m in the primary now.  That’s what’s going to eat a lot of my time up – always does.”

When asked about the McWatters nomination, to fill one of the vacant Republican seats on the Export-Import Bank’s board of directors, Shelby stated, “I’m in a primary right now. We’re in no hurry to hold hearings.”

As Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown stated, “The Ex-Im Bank can’t operate because the Senate Banking Committee won’t do its job.”

No wonder Boeing is going to manufacture airplanes in China.

TRADE

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS FINAL 2013-2014 REVIEW INVESTIGATION

On November 20, 2015, the Commerce Department issued the attached final determination in the 2013-2014 antidumping review investigation of aluminum extrusions from China, ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS FINAL. Based on surrogate values, Commerce issued antidumping rates of 86.01%, but for companies that did not cooperate, Commerce issued antidumping rates of only 33.28%.

In addition, in the attached Countervailing Final Determination for 2013, CVD Aluminum Extrusions 2013 Final Review Notice.3424528-01 CVD Aluminum Extrusions 2013 Decision Memo.3424530-01, Commerce issued a countervailing duty rate ranging from 3.59% to 222.82% with most companies receiving a rate of 61.36% rate.

MEXICO ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS PROBLEM

Meanwhile, US producers are growing concerned over a large stockpile of aluminum extrusions at a casting facility in Mexico. Aluminicaste Fundición de México S. de RL de CV, a producer of secondary billet, slab and forging billet, is storing around 850,000 tonnes of aluminum extrusions at its San José Iturbide, Mexico, facility.

It was reported that the extrusions had been shipped directly from extrusion plants in China and were being remelted into billet at the Mexico facility. The source told the American Metals Market:

“Yes, it’s about 850,000 (tonnes) on the ground. The quality of the metal is very good. It’s coming from billets that are extruded in China, shipped to Mexico, and made back into billet. They are currently casting at full capacity, which is about 100,000 (tonnes) per year.”

“It’s a lot of metal. Even me, I have not seen that much metal before. It was 300,000 (tonnes) about a year ago and quickly grew to 850,000 (tonnes).”

The practice of importing extrusions from China and remelting them into billet is not illegal or known to violate any law.

NEW TRADE CASES COMING—RAW ALUMINUM

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

As indicated in the attached letter, NEW ALUMINUM CASES COMING, on November 24, 2015, the US Aluminum Association and the Canadian Aluminum Producers complained about Chinese aluminum production and the subsidies they receive:

Dear Secretary Kerry and Minister McKenna,

We write to you representing aluminum producers in the United States and Canada. We are concerned about China’s state-planned and carbon intensive aluminum industry which has amassed considerable overproduction. This not only leads to a distortion of international trade impacting our entire value chain, but also undermines global efforts to decarbonize the economy. . .  .

Only ten years ago China supplied 24% of the world’s primary aluminum. Today, spurred by energy subsidies, Chinese manufacturers have more than doubled their output and supply 52% of all primary aluminum produced globally. At the same time, this massive increase in production entails a significant environmental consequence.

Aluminum production in China is the most carbon intensive in the world, with its coal-based smelters emitting significantly more greenhouse gases per ton of aluminum than its North American counterparts. In fact, a ton of aluminum produced in China is at least twice as carbon-intensive as that same metal produced in North America. Given the rapid expansion of high-carbon aluminum production in China, many of the efficiency and emission reduction gains made by the global aluminum industry over the last several decades are being offset. . . .

The U.S. and Canadian aluminum industry is concerned that overproduction in China will continue unabated and is insufficiently regulated. These commitments represent a critical opportunity for China to advance energy efficiency and emissions reductions targets in support of global commitments to address climate change.

We appreciate your support to help us to reestablish fair trade conditions and to make a significant contribution to advancing a low-carbon global economy. . . .

Letters, like this, are usually a sign that an antidumping/countervailing duty case is coming. In addition, US aluminum producers have launched a new China Trade Task Force with their target being “illegal” Chinese government subsidies. In a letter to USTR Michael Froman, the US producers asked USTR to intervene on behalf of an industry that supports thousands of jobs:

“Illegal Chinese subsidies — such as direct grants, interest free loans, transfers of low cost state owned land, and preferential regulatory treatment — have collapsed the global price of aluminum.

This price drop has forced aluminum smelters across the United States to close while Chinese government continues to prop-up its producers through these unfair and illegal subsidies.”

THE ONGOING STEEL CASES

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

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

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

But all the other countries, including Russia, which has market economy status, received antidumping rates in the single digits or 0s for no dumping. Steel will continue to flow into the United States in large amounts because such small antidumping and countervailing duty rates simply will have no effect.

The decisions also indicate why the Unions and the Steel industry will fight very hard in Congress and before the Administration to push the Commerce Department to continue using the nonmarket economy methodology against China. It easy for Commerce to find dumping when it uses fake numbers/surrogate values from third countries, which have no relationship to actual prices and costs in China.

COLD ROLLED STEEL FROM CHINA, BRAZIL, KOREA, INDIA AND RUSSIA

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

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

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

CORROSION RESISTANT STEEEL PRODUCTS—GALVANIZED STEEL PRODUCTS FROM CHINA, INDIA, ITALY, KOREA AND TAIWAN

On December 22, 2015, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-multiple-corrosion-resistant-steel-products-122215, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) investigations of imports of corrosion-resistant steel products from China, India, Italy, and Korea, and its negative preliminary determination in the AD investigation of imports of corrosion-resistant steel products from Taiwan.

China received antidumping rates of 255.8%, but antidumping rates from the other countries were very low.

India received rates ranging from 6.64 to 6.92%.  Italy received rates from 0 to 3.11%.  Korea received rates from 2.99 to 3.51%.  Taiwan’s antidumping rates were all 0s.

Although the US industry was pleased with the rate against China, AK Steel Corp. stated, “we are disappointed that the preliminary dumping margins for India, Italy, South Korea and Taiwan were not higher as they do not appear to adequately address the dumping that we believe is occurring in the U.S. market.”

Because Commerce uses market economy methodology in antidumping cases against these countries, companies in those countries can use computer programs to eliminate or reduce significantly their antidumping rates. Foreign steel companies know they will be targeted by US antidumping and countervailing duty cases, and, therefore, prepare for such suits by eliminating the unfair acts.

The fact that the antidumping and countervailing duty rates in these cases are so low strongly indicate that the US Steel Industry’s problem is not steel imports. The problem is the US steel industry’s failure to modernize their facilities and remain competitive with the rest of the world.

In the parallel countervailing duty investigation, certain Chinese companies earned margins exceeding 235 percent while Taiwanese producers were given no CVD rates at all.

HOW NME METHODOLOGY IN ANTIDUMPING CASES LEADS TO OVER CAPACITY IN CHINESE STEEL AND ALUMINUM INDUSTRIES

Meanwhile, US experts complain about Chinese overcapacity in the Steel and Aluminum industries. In a December 1, 2015 article, one expert, Terence P. Stewart, Law Offices of Stewart and Stewart, which represents the Unions and various steel companies in US antidumping and countervailing cases against China, including the recent Off the Road Tires case against China, complained about Chinese overcapacity in the Steel and Aluminum industries and their distortive impact on the World steel and aluminum markets stating:

In the United States, the domestic steel industry is in the midst of a major crisis as they try to deal with waves of imports that seem to flow directly (i.e., imports from China) and indirectly (i.e., from other countries facing import challenges from China in their home markets and hence expanding their exports) from massive excess capacity in China and in other countries. . . .

The story is being repeated in the aluminum sector as well with many unwrought aluminum facilities being closed in the US and other western countries in recent years and some trade cases being filed. Indeed, Alcoa recently announced the idling of three facilities in the U.S. (New York and Washington) with a capacity of more than a half million tons —a significant portion of the remaining capacity in the United States. The problem again flows from massive excess capacity in China.

In both sectors, the underlying facts are similar. In the late 1990s, Chinese capacity amounted to 10-15 percent of global capacity. With massive government incentives, state ownership and support, by 2014 each industry had ballooned to have more than half of global capacity having accounted for nearly 80 percent of global capacity expansions. . . .

Without concerted efforts by China itself and its trading partners, the balance will be achieved only at the expense of countries that had nothing to do with the creation of the problem — a grossly inequitable and economically and politically unacceptable outcome. . . .

The Article goes on to complain that China should do this and do that, such as establishing “voluntary export restraints on all product sectors where it has serious excess capacity to reduce the problems it has created for its trading partners” and “China could implement the many remaining reforms needed to have its economy actually operate on market forces.” It should be noted that voluntary export restraints and prices floors are export restraints, which are specifically prohibited in the China-WTO Agreement.  In fact, when in the past the Chinese government tried to set price floors to deter dumping, the US government took the Chinese government to the WTO and US antitrust cases were filed against the Chinese companies.

The Article goes on to state:

All of China’s major trading partners need to encourage China to solve its internal problem quickly. Trading partners need to be prepared to act quickly to apply such pressure as will enable China to overcome any internal reluctance to face the significant challenges. This means using the tools that currently exist, including WTO disputes, to make clear the enormous damage being done to others by China’s subsidy practices. . . .

Finally, the U.S., EU and other trading partners with trade remedy laws that have found China to be a nonmarket economy, should ensure that their industries and workers can obtain the full measure of trade remedy relief existing laws, regulations and practices provide until such time as China has in fact achieved the serious reforms still needed for its economy to work on market principles.

Unfortunately, US industries and domestic experts never ask the real question. Why should the Chinese government and Chinese companies listen to these complaints when the US government and governments in other countries continue to attack China using antidumping and countervailing duty cases based on fake numbers?

As indicated above, US antidumping and countervailing duty orders and ongoing cases have the effect of blocking almost 100% of Chinese steel from the US market. Since the US steel industry, the Unions and their representatives have declared a trade war with China, why should the Chinese government and companies listen to the United States?

In talking with Chinese Government officials in the past, they told me that US antidumping cases could be ok because they could be used to regulate Chinese production. Some Chinese companies undoubtedly are truly dumping.  If Chinese companies get hit with real very high antidumping rates based on actual prices and costs in China, that could cause the company to shut down.

But when antidumping cases are based on phony numbers/surrogate values, which have no relationship to the actual situation in China, the US government creates a game and the Chinese government and the Chinese companies will simply play or not play the game. But they will not listen to sanctimonious arguments from US experts, who do not want the Chinese to compete on a level playing field with the US and other countries, such as Russia and Iran, and instead want to continue a trade war with China based on fake numbers.

SOLAR CELLS REVIEW DETERMINATION

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

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

DRAWN STAINLESS STEEL SINKS FINAL

In the attached decision, on November 10, 2015, Commerce issued its final determination in the first 2012-2014 review in the Drawn Stainless Steel Sinks case with antidumping rates ranging from 2.82 to 9.83%, AD STEEL SINKS 2012-2014FED REG., AD DECISION MEMO 2012-2014

In addition, the countervailing duty rate for one company, Guangdong Dongyuan Kitchenware Industrial Co., Ltd. is  9.83%.  SeeCVD SINKS 2012-2013FEDREG

CIT REMANDS GLYCINE CASE BACK TO COMMERCE BECAUSE OF ITS PUNITIVE 453% ANTIDUMPING RATE.

On November 3, 2015, in Baoding Mantong Fine Chemistry Co., Ltd. v. United States, the Court of International Trade in the attached decision, BAODING VS US PUNITIVE CALCULATION, reversed the Commerce Department’ s determination in Glycine from China, holding that Commerce had issued a 453% punitive tariff against Baoding in violation of the remedial purpose of the statute. As the CIT stated:

“The court rules that Commerce failed to fulfill its obligation to determine the most accurate margin possible when it assigned Baoding a weighted average dumping margin of 453.79%, which on the record of this case was not realistic in any commercial or economic sense and punitive in its effect. The court directs Commerce to determine a new margin for Baoding that is the most accurate margin possible, that is grounded in the commercial and economic reality surrounding the production and sale of Baoding’s subject merchandise, and that is fair, equitable, and not so large as to be punitive.”

As Judge Stanceu further stated:

“In assigning Baoding such a huge margin, Commerce has lost sight of the purpose of the antidumping duty statute, which is remedial, not punitive. The 453.79 percent margin is undeniably punitive in effect, regardless of the department’s intent, and it violates the department’s obligation to treat every party before it fairly and equitably as well as the obligation to arrive at the most accurate margin possible.”

Judge Stanceu said the agency was misstating the law, and that the facts demonstrate that the margin assigned is “commercially impossible.”

ROLLR BEARINGS PRODUCED IN THAILAND FROM CHINA SUBPARTS CANNOT BE COVERED BY BEARINGS ORDER AGAINST CHINA

On December 22, 2015 in the attached decision, Peer Bearing Company-Changshan v. United States,PEER BEARING CASE, the Court of International Trade held that roller bearings made in Thailand from Chinese parts were not subject to an anti-dumping duty order against Chinese bearings because the production process in Thailand had the effect of substantially transforming the roller bearings into a product of Thailand, not China.

MELAMINE FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY ORDERS

On December 1, 2015, Commerce issued the attached antidumping and countervailing duty orders against Melamine from China, MELAMINE AD ORDERS. The Antidumping rate for China is 363.31% and the Countervailing Duties range from 154 to 156.9%.

LARGE RESIDENTIAL WASHERS FROM CHINA

On December 16, 2015, Whirlpool filed a major antidumping and countervailing duty case against Large Residential Washers from China. According to the Petition, the real target companies are the Korean companies, Samsung and LG, and their production facilities in China.

The specific products covered by the petition are:

the term “large residential washers” denotes all automatic clothes washing machines, regardless of the orientation of the rotational axis, with a cabinet width (measured from its widest point) of at least 24.5 inches (62.23 em) and no more than 32.0 inches (81.28 em), except as noted below.

Also covered are certain parts used in large residential washers, namely: (1) all cabinets, or portions thereof, designed for use in large residential washers; (2) all assembled tubs designed for use in large residential washers which incorporate, at a minimum: (a) a tub; and (b) a seal; (3) all assembled baskets 11 designed for use in large residential washers which incorporate, at a minimum: (a) a side wrapper; 12 (b) a base; and (c) a drive hub; 13 and (4) any combination of the foregoing parts or subassemblies.

Excluded from the scope are stacked washer-dryers and commercial washers. The term “stacked washer-dryers” denotes distinct washing and drying machines that are built on a unitary frame and share a common console that controls both the washer and the dryer. The term “commercial washer” denotes an automatic clothes washing machine designed for the “pay per use” segment . . .

The relevant pages of the petition, including the full scope, the list of Chinese exporters and US importers, are attached, Whirlpool Petition Scope Exporters Importers 121615.

NEW OFF THE REOAD TIRES CASE

On January 8, 2016, Titan Tire Corporation (Titan) and the United Steel, Paper, and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union, ALF-CIO (USW) filed a new antidumping and countervailing duty case against Pneumatic Off-the-Road Tires from India, China and Sri Lanka.  The relevant parts of the petition, including the scope and the list of Chinese exporters and US importers, are attached, US Importers Pneumatic Tires Petition Volume I General Issues Injury Cover Scope 1-8-16 Chinese Exporters Pneumatic Tires .

The specific products covered by this antidumping and countervailing duty case are:

New pneumatic tires designed for off-the-road (OTR) and off-highway use, subject to exceptions identified below. Certain OTR tires are generally designed, manufactured and offered for sale for use on off-road or off-highway surfaces, including but not limited to, agricultural fields, forests, construction sites, factory and warehouse interiors, airport tarmacs, ports and harbors, mines, quarries, gravel yards, and steel mills. . . . .

While the physical characteristics of certain OTR tires will vary depending on·the specific applications and conditions for which the tires are designed (e.g., tread pattern and depth), all of the tires within the scope have in common that they are designed for off-road and off-highway use.

Except as discussed below, OTR tires included in the scope of the proceeding range in size (rim diameter) generally but not exclusively from 8 inches to 54 inches. The tires may be either tube-type40 or tubeless, radial or non-radial, and intended for sale either to original equipment manufacturers or the replacement market.

Certain OTR tires, whether or not attached to wheels or rims, are included in the scope. However, if a subject tire is imported attached to a wheel or rim, only the tire is covered by the scope. Subject merchandise includes certain OTR tires produced in the subject countries whether attached to wheels or rims in a subject country or in a third country. . . .

This is the second antidumping and countervailing duty case the USW has filed against off-the-road tires from China. The USW stated that un-mounted off-the-road tires from China are already covered by antidumping and countervailing duty orders, but that mounted tires from China are not subject to those duties. Thus, this second case has been brought to close the loophole.

Some of the Chinese companies named in the complaint are: BDP Intl Ltd (China), Betel Holding Group, Lizhong Group, Qingdao Huifuxin Tyre, Qingdao J & G International Trading Co., Qingdao Keter Tyre, Qingdao Milestone Tyres Co., Ltd., Qingdao Rhino International Co., Ltd., Qingdao STW Tire Co., Ltd., Qingdao Tide Tire, Shandong Hawk International Rubber Industry Co., Ltd., Shandong Taishan Tyre Co., Ltd. Shandong Zhaoyuan Shengrun Wheel Assembly Co., Ltd. Shandong guanxian Cartwheel Co., Ltd., Shenzhen CJG Model Products, THI Group Ltd., Trans Knight Inc., relleborg China/Trelleborg Wheel Systems (Xingtai) Ltd. , Weifang Jintongda Tyre Co., Ltd., Weifang Lutong Rubber Co., Ltd., Weihai Zhongwei Rubber Co., Ltd., Wendeng Sanfeng Tyre Co., Ltd., Wenling Yaoding Machinery Co., Ltd., Wuxi Kinetic Machinery Co., Ltd., Wuxi Superior Wheel Company LLC, Xingyuan Tire Group, Yantai Wonray Rubber Tire Co. Ltd.

JANUARY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On January 4, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, DOC JAN 2016 REVOEW INVESTIGATIONS AD AND CVD OPPTY, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of January . The specific antidumping cases against China are: Calcium Hypochlorite, Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod, Crepe Paper Products, Ferrovanadium, Folding Gift Boxes, Potassium Permanganate, and Wooden Bedroom Furniture.

The specific countervailing duty cases are: Calcium Hypochlorite, Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod, Certain Oil Country Tubular Goods, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe.

For those US import companies that imported Calcium Hypochlorite, Carbon and Certain Alloy Steel Wire Rod, Crepe Paper Products, Ferrovanadium, Folding Gift Boxes, Potassium Permanganate, and Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China during the antidumping period January 1, 2015-December 31, 2015 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 Solar Cells 2012-2013 final review determination, for example, the following Chinese companies were determined to no longer be eligible for a separate antidumping rate and to have the PRC antidumping rate of 298:

(1) Shanghai Suntech; (2) Wuxi Sunshine; (3) Changzhou NESL Solartech Co., Ltd.; (4) CSG PVTech Co., Ltd.; (5) Era Solar Co., Ltd.; (6) Innovosolar; (7) Jiangsu Sunlink PV Technology Co., Ltd.; (8) Jiawei Solarchina Co., Ltd.; (9) Jinko Solar Co., Ltd.; (10) LDK Solar Hi-tech (Suzhou) Co., Ltd.; (11) Leye Photovoltaic Science Tech.; (12) Magi Solar Technology; (13) Ningbo ETDZ Holdings, Ltd.; (14) ReneSola; (15) Shanghai Machinery Complete Equipment (Group) Corp., Ltd.; (16) Shenglong PV-Tech; (17) Solarbest Energy-Tech (Zhejiang) Co., Ltd.; (18) Suzhou Shenglong PV–TECH Co., Ltd.; (19) Zhejiang Shuqimeng Photovoltaic Technology Co., Ltd.; (20) Zhejiang Xinshun Guangfu Science and Technology Co., Ltd.; (21) Zhejiang ZG-Cells Co., Ltd.; (22) Zhiheng Solar Inc.; and (23) LDK Hi-Tech Nanchang Co., Ltd.

GENERAL LITIGATION AND ARIBITRATION

DORSEY VICTORY IN SUPREME COURT HELPS FOREIGN COMPANIES

On December 1, 2015 the United States Supreme Court unanimously held that Dorsey’s client, OBB Personenverkehr AG (“OBB”), the national railway of the Republic of Austria, is entitled to foreign sovereign immunity in a lawsuit filed against it in federal court by a United States resident who was injured while boarding OBB’s train in Innsbruck, Austria.

The decision, authored by Chief Justice Roberts, has broad application and is significant in confirming that there are limits to the reach of American courts. It establishes that, in the commercial context, in order for a United States court to exercise jurisdiction over a foreign state, or an agency or instrumentality of a foreign state, the claims must be “based upon” commercial activity that occurred within the territorial limits of the United States. In reversing the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court rejected the notion that a foreign state-owned railway could be sued in the United States, simply based upon the purchase of a Eurail pass on the Internet from a United State travel agency, curtailing the impact of the Internet on the jurisdictional reach of United States courts.  Instead, the Supreme Court held that courts must focus on what is “the ‘particular conduct’ that constitutes the ‘gravamen’ of the suit,” or its “essentials,” which here, was the accident that took place in Austria. In this case, the injured passenger could have sued in Austria instead, which forum afforded adequate legal remedies.

Dorsey lawyer Juan Basombrio, who argued the case before the Supreme Court on behalf of OBB, notes that the decision is significant from an international business and legal perspective: “Whereas the Ninth Circuit’s decision would have dragged foreign states and their agencies into United States court, the Supreme Court’s decision recognizes the importance of international comity; that is, the respect that nations afford to the courts of other nations with respect to matters that occur within their territory.”

Juan further notes that, “In a world that has become increasingly connected by international commercial transactions, and where there is also increasing friction in the relations between the United States and other nations, this is a seminal and important decision that will foster harmony between the United States and other nations at least in the commercial context.” Juan  explains that, “From the perspective of American business, this decision also will incentivize other nations to adopt similar rulings, which will protect American businesses from being dragged into court overseas.”

Finally, “The unanimous decision of the Supreme Court,” according to Juan, “also underscores that the Supreme Court is not a fractured Court, as it has been recently criticized, but instead can and has spoken with one voice in this important area of the law, which involves the foreign relations of the United States.”

Dorsey represented OBB at all stages of the litigation. Juan was lead counsel on the case from the trial court through the Supreme Court argument.

UKRAINE ATTACKS RUSSIA USING ARBITRATION

Ukrainian companies have initiated five arbitration proceedings against Russia that range from approximately $20 million to $1 billion.  The cases have been brought by a number of Ukrainian businesses including Ukraine’s largest bank, a real estate investment company, several petrol stations and a private airport.

The claims have been brought under a 1998 bilateral investment treaty meant to encourage economic cooperation and expansion between Ukraine and Russia and are to recover for alleged losses incurred after Russian troops invaded Crimea in 2014 and shut down or nationalized Ukrainian businesses without paying for them.

The claims were lodged at various times in the first half of 2015 in the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, an intergovernmental organization with approximately 115 member states. The parties that launched the claims include PrivatBank & Finance Co. Finilon LLC, or PrivatBank; and PJSC Ukrnafta, which is both publicly and privately owned and is one of Ukraine’s largest oil and gas companies.

The lawyer representing the Ukrainian companies stated:

Apparently, the bilateral investment treaty permits the investors of one country whose property has been appropriated by the other country to launch private arbitration proceedings either under the rules governing the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce or the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

337

On November 10, 2015, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in the attached Clear Correct v. ITC, CLEAR CORRECT V ITC, held that the International Trade Commission (“ITC”)  does not have the authority to expand the scope of Section 337 Intellectual property (“IP”) investigations to cover electronic transmissions of digital data imported into the United States.  In a 2-1 decision, the Court determined that such an expansion would:

run counter to the “unambiguously expressed intent of Congress.” . . . . Here, it is clear that “articles” means “material things,” whether when looking to the literal text or when read in context “with a view to [the term’s] place in the overall statutory scheme.” . . . . We recognize, of course, that electronic transmissions have some physical properties—for example an electron’s invariant mass is a known quantity—but common sense dictates that there is a fundamental difference between electronic transmissions and “material things.” . .  .

NEW 337 CASES

On November 5, 2015, Hydor USA, Inc. filed a section 337 case against imports for certain aquarium fittings and parts thereof from a Chinese company, Jebao Co., Ltd in Zhongshan City, Guangdong province, China.

On November 12, 2015, Belkin International, Inc. filed a section 337 case against imports of Computer Cables, Chargers, Adapters, Peripheral Devices and Packaging from China. The proposed respondents are: Dongguan Pinte Electronic Co., Ltd., China; and Dongguan Shijie Fresh Electronic Products Factory, China.

On November 17, 2015, FeraDyne Outdoors, LLC and Out RAGE, LLC filed a section 337 case against Arrowheads With Deploying Blades against the following Chinese respondents: Linyi Junxing Sports Equipment Co., Ltd., China; Ningbo Faith Sports Co., Ltd., China; Ningbo Forever Best Import & Export Co. Ltd., China; Ningbo Linkboy Outdoor Sports Co, Ltd., China; Shenzhen Zowaysoon Trading Company Ltd., China; Xiamen Xinhongyou Industrial Trade Co., Ltd., China; Xiamen Zhongxinyuan Industry & Trade Ltd., China; Zhengzhou IRQ Trading Limited Company, China; and Zhenghou Paiao Trade Co., Ltd., China.

On January 8, 2016, Covidien LP filed a section 337 case against imports of Surgical Stapler Devices from Chongqing QMI Surgical Co., Ltd., China.

CRIMINAL PATENT CASES

On January 5th, in U.S. v. Pangang Group Co. Ltd., the US government brought the attached criminal indictment, CHINA INDICTMENT, against Pangang Group Co. Ltd., a state-owned Chinese steel company, alleging that Pangang engaged in economic spying and stole manufacturing trade secrets from DuPont Co. through a California businessman and a former DuPont engineer, who have been sent to prison for their crimes.

Prosecutors claim Pangang stole trade secrets held by DuPont covering its proprietary method of manufacturing titanium dioxide, which is used to make cars, paper and other items appear whiter.

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

On November 4, 2015, SATA GmbH & Co. KG, a German corporation, filed a counterfeit trademark case against Zhejiang Refine Wufu Airt Tools Co., Ltd. and Prona Tools Inc. COUNTERFEIT SPRAY PAINT GUNS

On November 23, 2015, Penn Engineering & Manufacturing Corp. filed, a patent, trademark infringement and counterfeit case against Pemco Hardware, Inc., Dongguan Fenggang Pemco Hardware Factory, and Shenzhen Pemco Fastening Systems :Co., Ltd. PENN DONGGUAN

On December 3, 2015, Fellowship Filtering Technologies filed a patent case against Alibaba and Taobao Holding Ltd. and other Alibaba and Taobao companies. ALIBABA PATENT CASE

PRODUCTS LIABILITY CASES

On November 9, 2015, Neoteric Solution Inc. d/b/a Wowparts filed a products liability case against batteries supplied by Dongguan Hosowell Technology Co., Ltd, and Hosowell (HK) Technology Co., Ltd.DONGGUAN HOUSEWELL

On November 12, 2015, Momo Ren and Miao Xin Hu filed a class action products liability case for misbranding egg roll packages against Domega NY International Ltd., Dongguan City Tongxin Food Co., Ltd. and Net A Generation Food Stuffs Co., Ltd. EGG ROLL CASE

On November 23, 2015, Stephen and Diane Brooke filed a class action products liability case in the drywall area 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.; and China National Building Materials Group Corporation. BROOKE TAISHAN SAC

ANTITRUST

There have been developments in the antitrust area.

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

T&D NOVEMBER AND DECEMBER REPORT

In December and January T&D sent us their attached November and December reports on Chinese competition law. T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of November 2015 T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of December 2015

In early January 2016, T&D also sent us the latest attached draft translated into English of IPR Anti-monopoly Guideline from the National Development and Reform Commission of China (NDRC) released on the last day of 2015, i.e. December 31, 2015. IPR Guideline (draft) 20151231-EN

SECURITIES

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT

Recently, Dorsey& Whitney LLP issued its attached December 2015 Anti-Corruption Digest,AntiCorruptionDigestDec2015. The Digest states with regards to China:

China: Setback in the Anti-Corruption Campaign

It has been reported that President Xi Jinping’s ongoing anti-corruption campaign has suffered a setback after a prominent official of the inspection team in charge of the government’s anti-corruption efforts, Liu Xiangdong, was removed from his post after allegedly being in possession of more than $31 million (£20 million) in cash.

Mr. Liu was accused of “violating inspection rules and leaking related secrets” and accepting large bribes. He was also stripped of his Communist Party membership and removed from his position, the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection, the party’s top anti- corruption committee, said in a statement on its website.

China: Corruption in the Education Sector

China’s anti-corruption campaign has already touched many of the country’s sectors and has now extended to the education sector with a number of officials at the Communication University of China being targeted.

The president of the university, Su Wuzhi, was reportedly removed from his post for having an office that was “severely beyond the official standards, using university funds to hold banquets in public venues and putting gifts sent to the university on display in his own office without registering them.”

Lv Zhisheng, the vice president of the university, was also removed from office for allegedly failing to enforce frugality rules, leading to “chaos in financial management” of the institution, such as expenditures in “fancy cars” which exceeded budgets.

An official announcement from the Education Ministry is said to have called for increased monitoring of the education sector to ensure that “the high aims” of the party were upheld.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On November 24, 2015, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed an insider trading case against two Chinese individuals, Yue Han and Wei Han, who presently reside in China. SEC VERSUS HAN

On November 24, 2015, Amy Liu and a number of individuals filed a class action securities case for fraud against China North East Petroleum Holdings Ltd. (“CNEP”). Defendant CNEP is a Nevada corporation with its sole asset being ownership of Song Yrun North East Petroleum Technical Services Co., Ltd, a subsidiary operating in China. On September 5, 2013 CNEP transferred all CNEP assets and all CNEP liabilities to Ju Guizhi, a CNEP director and mother of CNEP CEO Wang Hongiun, for the purpose of effecting a merger into CLP Huaxing Equity Changchun City Investment Limited (“CLP”), a limited liability chinese corporation majority owned and controlled by Ju Guizhi and Wang Hongiun, NEVEDA SHAREHOLDERS SUIT.

On December 10, 2015, Shouming Zhang, a Chinese individual, filed the attached fraud case against several US companies and a Chinese individual alleging three Los Angeles-area companies and an attorney of swindling her into investing in an $8 million business deal with promises that she would obtain an EB-5 visa, CHINA NATIONAL COMPLAINT EB5.

Shoumin Zhang — whose visa application was denied — accuses Arcadia, California-based Americana One LLC of committing fraud and breach of contract by luring her into paying $500,000 for the supposed renovation of a commercial building. Zhang says that after she discovered the $8 million investment was a fraud, she visited the U.S. to personally ask AFRC and Americana One to seek a refund of her money.

Through the Immigrant Investor Pilot Program, the U.S. government offers EB-5 visas to foreigners who make certain business investments in the country. A website for AFRC offers consultations for the program, which allegedly requires only $500,000 of investment in exchange for permanent resident status in the U.S.

On December 14, 2015 Sally Mogle filed a class action securities case against Mattson Technology, Inc., Beijing E-Town Dragon Semiconductor Industry Investment Center and Dragon Acquisition Sub, Inc. and a number of individuals. BLOCK SEMICONDUCTOR ACQUISITION

On December 22, 2015, Philip Durgin filed a class action securities case against Mattson Technology, Inc., Beijing E-Town Dragon Semiconductor Industry Investment Center and Dragon Acquisition Sub, Inc. and a number of individuals. BEIJING DRAGON

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

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