US CHINA TRADE WAR – SECTION 301 TARIFFS, TRANSSHIPMENT FALSE CLAIMS ACT, ANTIDUMPING AND 337 CASES

White House Fence Summer Red Flowers Fountain Pennsylvania Ave Washington DC

TRADE IS A TWO-WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 20, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR – AUGUST 7, 2019

Dear Friends,

This blog post signals a change.  Recently I brought in Fred Rocafort, a young attorney, to help me with the trade practice and this newsletter.  Fred worked for the State Department in China and speaks fluent Chinese and Spanish.  He then worked for years in China and Hong Kong as an Intellectual Property lawyer.

In this blog post, we will discuss briefly the Section 301 case and the ongoing negotiations, the transshipment problem, the False Claims Act and impact on importers and competitors, the impact of the Fabricated Structural Steel from China case on the US construction industry, the highest antidumping rate in history, and new Section 337 cases.

Finally, this has been a very difficult newsletter to write because of this very difficult period in US China relations.  Because of constant criticism of China in Trump’s campaign to be President, one knew that Trump would be very tough on China.  Meanwhile, on the China side, as described in more detail below, President Xi Jinping has made dramatic changes in Chinese society to create a more statist economy in order to preserve the power of the Communist Party.  These two very different approaches have led to the trade conflict.

The objective of this blog is not to take one side or the other in the dispute but to focus on the reality as exists now in US China relations and spot and explain the issues so that readers can better understand the situation.  Since I am a US trade lawyer, it is easier for me to find US sources and understand better where the US is coming from.

But the rhetoric has become so heated on both the US and China sides that readers may think I am trying to favor one side over the other.  That is not my intent.  My intent is to focus on the real issues so that both sides can better understand each other.

Although the US China situation does not look good now, Dan Harris, my partner, has recently written an article entitled “Why NOW Is A Very Good Time to Double Down on Doing Business in China”.

No situation is every truly black and white.  It is grey.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

DEVELOPMENTS SINCE LAST BLOG POST

TRADE NEGOTIATIONS STOP IN MAY AS TARIFFS ON THE $200 BILLION GO FROM 10% TO 25%, POTENTIAL TARIFFS ON THE REMAINING $300 BILLION FROM CHINA GO 10% SEPTEMBER 1ST BECAUSE TRADE NEGOTIATIONS AFTER G-20 MEETING SHOW NO MOVEMENT CHINA RETALIATES ON AUGUST 5TH

Although the US and China were close to a trade deal with reportedly a 120 to 150 page agreement, in May 2019 China backtracked and redlined out much of the proposed trade deal.  In particular, apparently the Chinese government backtracked on commitments to deal with Intellectual Property Theft and Forced Technology Transfer.

As stated in the last blog post:

it is very clear that the key issues discussed in the trade talks are: Forced Technology Transfer, IP Theft and Enforcement of any trade agreement.  Trump and USTR Robert Lighthizer are not going to settle for an agreement with broad meaningless promises from the Chinese government, which are not kept.  The US wants tangible results and promises that can be enforced.

In response to the Chinese government’s retreat, on May 9, 2019 in the attached Federal Register notice,MAY 9 FED REG 25% 200 BILLION, the US government raised tariffs on the third $200 billion in imports from 10 to 25%.

On May 17, 2019, in the attached Federal Register notice, MAY 17 USTR REQUEST FOR COMMENTS ON TARIFFS $300 BILLION, the USTR started the process of imposing a 25% tariff on the remaining $300 billion from China.

On June 24th, in the attached Federal Register notice, June 24.2019.Procedures_for_Requests_to_Exclude_Particular_Products_from_the_September_2018_Action, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) set up an exclusion process for the 25% tariffs on the $200 billion.

As a result of the meeting between Presidents Xi and Trump at the G-20 in Japan on June 28th, President Trump agreed to postpone the 25% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion with the promise that trade negotiations would start up again.

Trade negotiations started up on July 30 and 31st, but there has been very little progress.  The Chinese government’s apparent new strategy is to wait for the US Presidential Election in November 2020 and hope for a better deal.  But all indications are that the Chinese economy is hurting so we will have to wait and see.

In response to the Chinese strategy, on August 1, 2019, President Trump announced 10% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion in imports from China effective September 1, 2019.  At that point in time, all of China’s exports to the US will be covered by tariffs.

On August 5, 2019, the Chinese government retaliated letting the Chinese currency drop in value to 7 yuan to the dollar, cheapening the Chinese currency so that Chinese exports will be cheaper to offset the US tariffs.  Also the Chinese government stopped all purchases of US agricultural products.

See Donald Trump Accuses China of Currency Manipulation as Yuan PlungesSee also China to suspend purchases of US farm products in retaliation for ‘serious violation’ of trade deal between Xi Jinping and Donald Trump.

FRED’S TAKE—FRED ROCAFORT ARTICLE ON SECTION 301 AND TRADE NEGOTIATIONS

USTR Lighthizer and SecTreas Mnuchin are heading to Shanghai next week for trade talks. The choice of Shanghai is interesting. One analyst suggested that China was sending a message that “trade should be trade, and politics should be politics”. Even SecTreas Mnuchin invoked the spirit of the 1972 Shanghai Communiqué, which paved the way from rapprochement between the U.S. and China—and ironically the current mess in which the two countries find themselves. Perhaps the hosts are thinking of a different kind of optics. There is arguably no image that is more associated worldwide with China’s economic miracle than the Lujiazui skyline—look up “china economic miracle” on Google Images for confirmation. It is hard to reconcile the portrait of China as an economic villain with the Pearl of the Orient’s vibrancy.

Before delving into the prospects for the upcoming talks, it is worth taking a step back and remembering how we got to this point. As mentioned above, the Shanghai Communiqué that Mnuchin celebrated set in motion a process that would over time entangle the Chinese economy with those of the United States and other nations in an unprecedented way. Though Cold War realities were initially foremost in America’s thinking, soon China policy became undergirded by the idea that increased engagement with the U.S. and its democratic, free-market allies would inexorably take China down their same path.

There was certainly much change, but only to the extent that it allowed China to become an export powerhouse. One can imagine the thrill felt by foreign executives as they saw the first cases of Coke cross the Shenzhen River into Mainland China in 1979, representing a symbolic first step towards the final realization of the long-standing Western dream of opening up China. Yet 30 years later, in some fundamental ways little has changed for foreign business. Sure, it has been a relatively smooth ride for the KFCs, Colgates and Nikes of the world, who contribute mightily to the state coffers. But for most foreign businesses, the China experience has been a negative one. As a longtime China expat, I heard so many tales of woe that I became jaded. Business partners colluding with local authorities to edge out foreign investors. Rampant counterfeiting and infringement of foreign brands. Continued restrictions on market access. Capricious immigration policies. China nightmares remain unabated despite repeated government assurances of coming improvements. Mr. China remains as much of a cautionary tale today.

Ultimately, the Chinese leadership viewed and continues to view Reform and Opening as a transactional mechanism. Reform and Opening themselves were never the objectives; continuity of Party rule has always been. This is why China continues to pick and choose when it comes to reform, in a way that has led to a collision with the United States.  By the time the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign got underway, it was clear to most China-watchers that the country would not follow the path of South Korea and Taiwan towards democracy, negating the one hope that secured for China so much patience over the years. In this environment, a certain Donald Trump decided that it was time to bring this issue to the forefront.

The current trade war’s first salvo was fired in March 2018, when President Trump directed the USTR to propose a list of products to be subjected to tariffs, in response to the findings of the USTR Section 301 investigation launched in August 2017. Ultimately 1,300 types of products were listed.

China retaliated with tariffs on 128 U.S. products and asking the WTO for consultations on the U.S. tariffs. After a visit to Washington by Vice Premier Liu He, China’s point man on trade, the two countries announced that there “was a consensus on taking effective measures to substantially reduce the United States trade deficit in goods with China”. This led SecTreas Mnuchin to declare that the trade war was “on hold”. However, and perhaps reflecting disagreements within the Trump team, shortly thereafter 25% tariffs on $50 billion worth of imports were announced. These tariffs went into effect on June 6 ($34 billion) and August 8 ($16 billion).  China retaliated in kind.

In September 2018, the U.S. announced 10% tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese products, which were raised to 25% on May 5, 2019. China’s expected retaliation came on June 1, in the form on tariffs on $60 billion worth of U.S. imports.

Presidents Trump and Xi met during the G-20 summit in Osaka, Japan and announced a truce. The upcoming talks in Shanghai are the first high-level encounter since then.

The smart money is on keeping expectations low. As an analyst quoted by the SCMP noted, the “talks will only result in a small step”. Still, even a small step would be a welcome respite from the spiral of escalation we have seen over the past year. The key question is, what exactly would that small step be?

A rollback in tariffs is one option. The Chinese have previously demanded that all tariffs be eliminated before a deal can be reached. This is surely a no-starter for the Trump team, which in fact would like to keep some tariffs in place even after a deal is made. However, having slapped tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese imports, the U.S. side has plenty of room for maneuver, allowing it to simultaneously eliminate the tariff burden considerably, while still leaving meaningful tariffs in place.

On the issue of Huawei, the introduction of a bipartisan bill in Congress that would lock the Shenzhen-based telco into the Commerce Department’s blacklist complicates matters. Paradoxically, however, the Democrats jump onto the Huawei bandwagon could help the Trump negotiators in two ways. First, it moves the goalposts in a way that allows the administration to do a lot without accomplishing anything when it comes to Huawei. Second, Lighthizer and Mnuchin can now point to concrete evidence that a Democratic victory in 2020 might not deliver the Chinese from American wrath. Better the devil you know…

As for China’s side of the bargain, hopes of placating the U.S. with purchases of agricultural goods seems to have faded, as the Chinese come to realize that no amount of sorghum is going to get the U.S. to ease up on its core demands. It is critical to remember that the Section 301 investigation that provided the legal basis for the tariffs concerned Chinese government practices “related to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation”. In the absence of meaningful Chinese concessions on these areas, it is hard to see the U.S. budging at all on tariffs or Huawei.

The Section 301 investigation report provides a clear picture of what the U.S. would like to see happen with regard to these critical areas. Last month, China announced it will open up new sectors to foreign investment, and it may offer further liberalization. On the other hand, it is hard to envision the Chinese undertaking to amend laws such as JV Regulations at American behest.

As difficult as it may be for some Dragon Slayers to accept, not every single line of Chinese jurisprudence has been drafted with a nefarious, China-first agenda in mind. For instance, when Article 43(1) of the JV Regs call for “fair and reasonable” fees for the use of technology, it is reflecting the basic principle that, “In civil activities, the principles of voluntariness, fairness, making compensation for equal value, honesty and credibility shall be observed” (Art. 4, General Principles of Civil Law). Meanwhile, “Vaguely worded provisions and uncertainty about the applicable rules” are a hallmark of Chinese legislation, and serve as powerful levers with implications that go far beyond FDI.

One intriguing, if unlikely, possibility would be the introduction of more specific investment terms into a bilateral treaty (such as the income tax treaty or the consular convention). This could include language that places Chinese investment into the U.S. under additional scrutiny. It could also provide for special procedures that allow companies such as Huawei to obtain technology while providing certain safeguards. This approach would allow the Chinese to save face as far as its own legislation is concerned, while pleasing the Americans (who, given the current tenor in Washington, are unlikely to care too much about any protestations from Brussels or Ottawa regarding this side deal).

Speaking of unconventional wisdom, the possibility of non-trade elements playing a role in a deal cannot be discarded. In the leadup to the talks, Secretary Pompeo called China’s treatment of Uighurs in Xinjiang “the stain of the century”, while Vice President Pence tweeted a condemnation of China’s record on religious freedom. This simultaneous push on trade and human rights is consistent with the “whole of government” approach against China called for in the—ironically-named—John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.

Admittedly, it is hard to see where China can budge, especially in the kind of public way that the Trump team needs to be able to claim some kind of victory. That said, if it gives him some oxygen on tariffs and Huawei, President Xi might be willing to pull something out of his hat on North Korea or even the South China Sea.

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

The section 301 case started in the spring of 2018.  The core of the complaint is China’s aggressive campaign to steal intellectual property (“IP”)  from US and other foreign companies.  See the attached Full Section 301 Report and Interim Report

If the Chinese government can compromise on IP Theft and Forced Technology Transfer in an enforceable agreement, I suspect that a deal can be reached.

If not, however, US has imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion in imports from China with potentially another 25% tariff on the remaining $300 billion, which means by September 1st all imports from China will be hit with a 10 to 25% tariff.   See the Federal Register notices above.

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

President Trump’s and USTR Lighthizer’s firm belief is that because of a US trade deficit and a Chinese trade surplus of $350 billion and total Chinese exports of $550 billion plus, the US could weather a trade war much better than China.

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

China’s failure to follow through on past trade agreements is not just a Trump issue.  Recently, former USTR Charlene Barshefsky, a good Democrat, who negotiated the US China WTO Agreement under President Clinton, has stated that the Chinese government broke all the WTO Agreements it signed.

SECTION 301 PROCEDURES AND THE JUNE 24, 2019 EXCLUSION PROCESS FOR THE $200 BILLION

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

The deadlines to file an exclusion request for the first $50 billion have past.  The exclusion process for the third $200 billion list just started up on June 24th and the deadline is September 30, 2019.

Also the process has started to impose 25% tariffs on the remaining $300 billion from China.

Theoretically, if the negotiations go well, all or some of the 301 tariffs could be lifted so there will be no need for exclusion requests.  If the duties remain in place, then the USTR will have an exclusion process.

FRED ROCAFORT ARTICLE ON THE JUNE 24TH EXCLUSION PROCESS FOR THE TARIFFS ON THE $200 BILLION

Back in June, Adams Lee (one of my fellow international trade lawyers) urged those who manufacture products in China for the U.S. to Get Going on Your China Tariff Exclusion Requests Now. 

Adams’ advice has clearly not gone unheeded. These days, client calls to discuss exclusion requests are as much a part of my morning routine as my first cup of joe. The deadline for filing List 3 exclusion requests is September 30, 2019, though one wonders why the United States Trade Representative (USTR) is even bothering with a deadline. According to Roll Call, the process for reviewing exclusion requests has “slowed to a painful crawl” and “USTR in July up to the 19th had completed work on just 60 of the total 2,900 requests for tariff waivers on [List 2] tranche requests”.  Not a promising sign when trying to determine how long it will take to sort out the 60,000 List 3 requests for which USTR is bracing — never mind the looming List 4 requests, when essentially all China imports will be subject to tariffs.

Our clients are understandably interested in any patterns that are emerging regarding approvals. Thanks to the Mercatus Center, we know List 1 requests for capital goods have been approved at a higher rate than intermediate goods or consumer goods, but for List 2 requests, consumer goods were approved at a higher rate than either capital or intermediate goods. It is important, however, to keep in mind that consumer goods account for only a fraction of the List 1 and 2 requests. More on this later.

Turning to the substance of the requests, after reviewing many of the requests adjudicated by USTR, approved requests tended to clearly articulate why the product for which an exclusion was sought cannot be sourced from anywhere other than China. I emphasize cannot because what trips up many requestors is that they end up explaining why they do not want to source from elsewhere.

For instance, take this denied tariff exclusion request from List 1:

[Company X] respectfully requests that you grant its request for an exclusion.

While we cannot seek exclusions on every component that we source from China, we are pursuing exclusions for several higher value and/or larger volume components, including this product.

[Company X’s] sourcing decisions are guided by a number of factors including availability of the part; quality of the part; landed cost… desire to work with a particular supplier; capacity of a supplier to produce volume needed on deadline; supply chain risk management; and minimizing capital investment.

*    *    *    *

Failure to grant [Company X’s] exclusion request will increase the company’s production costs. As a result, the company will reduce its margins, pass the additional cost onto consumers… negatively affect… the 60,000+ American workers [Company X] employs… (emphasis added)

Readers from my generation may remember the The Far Side, a brilliant comic created by Seattle’s own Gary Larson. One of my favorite cartoons juxtaposed what an owner said to his dog (“You stay out of the garbage! Understand, Ginger?”) with what Ginger actually heard (“blah blah Ginger blah”). To USTR (Ginger) this request is screaming, “I don’t want to pay more, blah blah”.

To be sure, paying more for products manufactured in China is a completely legitimate concern and I am not trying to make light of the real struggles faced by Company X and others that have their products made in China. But we are right now in a large-scale trade war with China (with no end in sight) and in the same way our great-grandparents were expected to buy Liberty bonds during World War I, the USTR expects businesses that ship China-manufactured products to the United States (and  the buyers of those products) to bear economic burdens as the country “max[es] out [its] economic power.”

Company X’s tariff exclusion request (above) does passingly mention availability of its product outside China, but it fails to flesh out how that forces it to get that product from China. Is the product not available at all in a third country? Or is it available, but not at the sufficient volume or necessary quality?

It is worth keeping in mind that USTR largely avoided consumer goods in Tariff Lists 1 and 2, but consumer goods account for more than 30% of the List 3 products (compared to less than 1% in the first two lists). This shift could bring about a sea change in tariff exclusion rejection patterns. USTR has rejected just over 60% of the List 1 tariff exclusion requests and 45% of the List 2 requests it has received.

My suspicion is that the move towards consumer goods in List 3 will cause tariff exclusion rejection numbers to increase from Lists 1 and 2. One of the key issues for USTR when it considers exclusion requests is the following:

Whether the particular product [for which the tariff exclusion is being sought] is available only from China. In addressing this factor, requesters should address specifically whether the particular product and/or a comparable product is available from sources in the United States and/or in third countries.

A familiar theme in this blog is the shift of manufacturing activity out of China, primarily to Southeast Asia and to Mexico.  In How to Stop Manufacturing in China: Try Harder, we wrote how in many instances (but certainly not all), it is neither difficult nor expensive to move manufacturing outside China:

This probably sounds harsh, but many companies would benefit from moving their manufacturing out of China that have not yet done so for reasons more related to inertia than to economics or anything else. I realize change is hard but if you are in a situation where you are essentially paying 25% more than your competitors and at huge risk of your products being slapped with retroactive duties ranging from 20% to 250%, inertia is not a good excuse.

Of course, there are companies that have almost no choice but to have their products made in China. China has been developing its export-oriented capabilities for decades and its manufacturers enjoy access to a massive internal market and to levels of government assistance that cannot be matched in other low-cost destinations. As per a Quartz article:

Then there are the products the US almost exclusively gets from China. Raising tariffs on these goods will likely cost American consumers, and leave importers in a bind to find substitutes in the short-term—in the long-run, manufacturers may look to produce these goods outside China. We identified 11 product categories that China supplied 95% of US imports worth at least $100 million in 2018 by analyzing data from the US Census Bureau. All 11 product categories were on the list of goods for which the US has threatened to raise tariff rates by 25%. The US has since agreed to delay these hikes as part of negotiations.

By contrast, China’s manufacturing competitors have been flooding the lower ends of the value chain. Simply put, it is easier to set up a sneaker factory than a chemical processing plant. Back to Quartz:

The US imports about $100 million dollars in soy sauce every year. China supplies 42%. But it also gets a lot of soy sauce from Japan (17%), Hong Kong (14%) and Thailand (7%). If the US raises tariffs on Chinese soy sauce, importers might shift their buying to these other countries to avoid cost increases.

This means that when it comes to consumer goods, we expect fewer U.S. importers will be able to answer “No” to the key question in the exclusion request form: “Is this product, or a comparable product, available from source[s] in third countries?”. As a result, it can be fully expected that USTR will deny a higher rate of List 3 and List 4 requests.

What all of this means is that if you really need to source your products from China, you need to ensure that your tariff exclusion requests are as strong as they can be. On the flip side, what is happening with the tariff exclusion process is another reminder that the conversation about getting out of China needs to happen now, especially because we do not see the United States eliminating its China tariffs soon, if ever:

If your company is thinking there will be a solution to the US-China trade war and that solution will obviate any need to move your manufacturing from China, you are very likely engaging in wishful thinking. The US-China trade war has been going on for more than a year now and, if anything, we are farther away from resolution than when it started.

What is happening with the tariff exclusion process underscores this point. By now, everyone should have disabused themselves of any notion that  tariff exclusions would be an effective workaround. They will not, unless you can truly show that your product cannot be sourced in a third country. This is the time to recognize the difference between needing to source your product from China and preferring to do so.

If you need to stick with China and you are looking down at the tariff barrel, make sure you look at some of the approved tariff exclusion requests for inspiration and be sure to clearly spell out why you do not have a China alternative, remembering that “I would have to pay more” is not going to cut it. On the other hand, if you can source your product from somewhere other than China at comparable cost and quality, it is probably time for you to move on.

I will in the meantime be working on completing and submitting more tariff exclusion requests.

BEING TOUGH ON CHINA IS A BIPARTISAN REPUBLICAN DEMOCRAT ISSUE

The Chinese government’s apparent strategy in the trade negotiations is to wait and see what happens in the next Presidential election in November 2020 and hope for a better deal with a new Administration.  But after the two recent debates by Democratic candidates, Democratic pundits complain that no Democratic Presidential candidate to date can beat Donald Trump. With that situation in mind, Chinese government officials might want to rethink that strategy.

Moreover, contrary to many commentators in China and elsewhere, the tough position against China in these trade negotiations is not just President Donald Trump.  After Trump’s announcement of a potential 10% tariff starting September 1 on the remaining $300 billion imported from China, New York Senator Chuck Schumer, who leads the Democrats in the Senate, came out in favor of the Trump tariffs telling President Trump to stand tough on China.

In light of these facts, the Chinese government should not expect a change in the tough US position on China trade policy if there is a change in US government. US China Trade Policy is not just a Republican issue.  It is bipartisan issue.  Traditionally, the Democratic party is much more protectionist than the Republican party, because the Democratic party is supported by the labor unions.

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

Although a President Biden, whose son Hunter Biden has a billion-dollar deal in China, might be easier on China, the rest of the Democratic field will be very tough on China.  Based on quotes from numerous sources, the Chinese government has succeeded in uniting both ends of the political spectrum, Democrats and Republicans, against China.  This trade situation is not going to change any time soon no matter what party is in power.

FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN DON BONKER TRADE ARTICLE ON THE DEMOCRATIC RESPONSE TO TRUMP ON TRADE

On May 21, 2019, my friend Don Bonker, a former Democrat Congressman, published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “On Trade, Where Are My Fellow Democrats?” stated in part:

President Trump’s latest round of punishing tariffs on China, with threats of more to come, will have a devastating effect on the world’s two largest economies. His actions are contrary to the Republican Party’s usual doctrine of free trade, and they have alarmed business leaders, farmers and the American sectors and regions that will most acutely feel the pain of the tariff increases and China’s targeted retaliation.

So where are the Democrats? Until Mr. Trump arrived on the scene, the Democratic Party had itself been sojourning down the path of protectionism, driven by organized labor. Since then, the president has ripped up the Trans-Pacific Partnership, overhauled the North American Free Trade Agreement, and hit even U.S. allies with harsh tariffs-all while Democrats have been strangely silent. It seems as if they either tacitly support Mr. Trump’s reckless trade policies or simply lack an alternative.

Sidestepping the Constitution, which clearly assigns to Congress the power to “regulate commerce with foreign nations,” the Trump administration is using executive orders and national-security statutes to impose punishing tariffs. If a President Bernie Sanders were doing this, Senate Republicans would protest furiously. Yet Republicans and Democrats alike are letting the president do what he wants. . . .

The U.S. has tens of thousands of domestic companies that would be highly competitive in foreign markets if they could collaborate in marketing and shipping their products abroad. In 1982 I worked with Secretary of Commerce Malcolm Baldrige to resolve this problem by passing the Export Trading Company Act, enacted with bipartisan support, that included a waiver to allow these companies to team up without being in violation of the antitrust laws.

Unfortunately, the law has since been largely ignored by recent administrations, including Mr. Trump’s.The White House has tried plan after plan to restrict imports and punish trading partners. But focusing on the export side is a better way to ensure that American companies get a larger share of the world market. Over the years, Congress has established agencies and mandates to help U.S. companies go international, but they exist more like fiefdoms.  There is no global strategy and no coherence.

I’d also advise a presidential candidate to reorganize all the trade agencies-the Export-Import Bank, Overseas Private Investment Corporation, Trade and Development Agency, U.S. Commercial Service and others-under one umbrella with a new mandate to make America more competitive.

In the 2020 election, the Trump administration will continue to offer protectionist policies and ongoing threats that may provoke a repeat of the 1930 Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act, which precipitated the collapse of the world trading system. Democrats need to give voters a clear alternative: Elect a president who will take America back from the brink, make exports a much higher priority, and adopt policies to make U.S. companies far more competitive in the global economy.

Congressman Bonker has some very good points, but the Democratic party does not appear to be listening to his advice.  Many Democratic Senators and Congressmen agree with President Trump’s tough stance on trade, especially with regards to China.

LONG TERM IMPACT OF TRADE WAR ON US CHINA RELATIONS, THE XI JINPING BACKLASH AND THE DECOUPLING WITH CHINA

Recently, many books have been written by Chinese experts in the United States and elsewhere about the substantial political change in China and the decision by President Xi Jinping to move China back from a free market with private companies to a state-controlled economy.  Tax rates on Chinese entrepreneurs are reportedly as high as 65%.

See the January 2019 book by Nicholas Lardy, a US expert, entitled “The State Strikes Back The End of Economic Reform in China”, which states:

“The fundamental obstacle to implementing far-reaching economic reforms in China is the top leadership’s view that, while state-owned firms may be a drag on China’s economic growth, they are essential to maintaining the position and control of the Chinese Communist Party and achieving the party’s strategic objectives (Economy 2018, 15–16).”

State Strikes Back at p, 507-508 (2019).

A more influential book is the most recent book by Richard McGregor “Xi Jinping The Backlash”.  See https://www.cnn.com/2019/07/16/opinions/xi-jinping-backlash-opinion-intl-hnk/index.html.  McGregor in his book describes in detail the movement of President Xi Jinping to recentralize decision making authority in Beijing and move China back to a more authoritarian State run completely by the Chinese Communist Party.

This dramatic political change in China has now resulted in a major reassessment by many US politicians of relations with China.  See podcast by Newt Gingrich, one of the elder statemen in the Republican Party and an advisor to President Trump, “China How We Got It Wrong”.  https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/newts-world/id1452065072?i=1000438763243.

Gingrich is a free trader, but recent developments in China have led him to completely change his outlook of China.  The movement by President Xi Jinping to a more authoritarian, State Run society, in China has caused many US and other Western politicians to believe that China is not moving in the right direction.  That is not a good sign for future US/Western Democracy relations with China.

Moreover, the long-term effect of the Trump trade war and the change in policy in China regarding the treatment of private companies and foreign companies is leading to a decoupling in supply chains between the US and China and also a decoupling of many foreign companies from China suppliers.  Although some foreign companies will continue to have operations in China, many others are moving.  See August 5, 2019 South China Morning Post article, Japan’s Sony, Ricoh and Asics join manufacturers’ mass exodus from China’s factories as US tariffs on made-in-China products bite,

Many US importers are moving or looking to move supply to a third country.  US companies that have operations in China are moving or looking to move all or almost all of their production from China.  The reports are that Apple and Fox Conn have succeeded in moving all of their Chinese production to Vietnam.

We are working with Chinese, foreign and US companies that want to move production or supply to a third country, including Vietnam, Malaysia and Thailand.  This major decoupling with China will have a major impact on the Chinese economy and on China’s foreign relations with other countries.  That is the simple reality of the situation.

But at the same time, as stated above, Dan Harris, my partner, has recently written an article entitled “Why NOW Is A Very Good Time to Double Down on Doing Business in China”.

THE RISE OF TRANSSHIPMENT AND HOW INDIVIDUALS AND COMPANIES CAN PROFIT FROM RIVALS TRANSSHIPMENT: IMPORTERS BEWARE

MOIETY  AND THE FALSE CLAIMS ACT

In response to these trade actions, many Chinese companies have attempted to transship products through third countries to the United States.  The Wall Street Journal recently published a piece on transshipment.  See https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-to-impose-additional-10-tariff-on-chinese-goods-11564681310?mod=hp_lead_pos1.  In the video attached to the article, my partner Steve Dickinson, describes the transshipment problem in detail.

Many US importers, however, many not realize that importing goods through transshipment is a crime, which can land importers in prison.  In fact, two of my past clients went to prison for importing transshipped Chinese products through a third country.

When an importer imports products into the United States, he must submit a Section 7501 Customs form to the US Customs and Border Protection, which requires the importer to specifically declare the country of origin.  If a false 7501 Customs form is submitted to the US government and the importer knew the country of origin was false, that is Customs fraud, which can trigger significant civil and criminal penalties.

In fact, recently, a US importer contacted me because he had received an e-mail from a Chinese chemical producer/exporter, saying buy my chemical product, which is covered by a US antidumping (“AD”) order.  The Chinese producer told the US importer not to worry about the AD duties because the Chinese company would simply ship the product through Taiwan, call it Taiwan product and no problem.  The importer was very angry because he knew that transshipment is a crime, and he the US importer could find himself criminally liable for such a scheme.

Another importer recently stated that he intended to get around a US trade order by triangulation, simply shipping the Chinese product to a third country and then changing the country of origin from China to the third country.  I told the importer that this was Customs fraud and could lead to criminal and civil prosecution.

In another situation, several importers have contacted me because to get around trade orders, including antidumping and the Section 301 tariffs, Chinese companies are telling their US importers not to worry because they will just label the country of origin as Hong Kong or Singapore.  Import games, such as switching the country of origin, can lead to civil and criminal violations, which can lead to enormous penalties and even prison time.

Chinese companies and US importers have different interests.  The Chinese company wants to ship to the US.  The US importer wants to stay out of Customs trouble and avoid additional liability, be it civil or criminal.

But the question for many individuals and companies, be they Chinese or US, is how can we profit from this if we know competitors, including Chinese producers and US importers, are not playing by the rules?

Anyone, including companies in China or US importers, can profit if they discover Chinese exports or US imports that violate US Customs and Trade laws by using transshipment, shipping through a third country to change the country of origin.

Under 19 USC 1619, the Moiety statute, any person can receive compensation not to exceed 25% of the recovery, up to $250,000, for providing to any Customs officer or US attorney:

“original information concerning .. . any fraud upon the customs revenue, or any violation of the customs laws or the navigation laws which is being, or has been, perpetrated or contemplated by any other person and such information leads to a recovery of . . .any duties withheld, or … any fine, penalty, or forfeiture of property incurred . . . .”

Many US and foreign individuals and companies, including US importers and even Chinese producers/exporters, can profit even more from transshipment under the False Claims Act.   Under Title 31, United States Code, Section 3729 (G), et. seq., any person, including companies, currently face triple damages and a penalty of $11,000 per claim for any of the following acts:

“(G) knowingly makes, uses, or causes to be made or used, a false record or statement material to an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government, or knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government.”

Section 3730 of the False Claims Act (“FCA”) provides a private right of action, that is a private person may sue for a violation of section 3729 on behalf of the US government, such as Customs fraud.  The private party called a relator can be a competitor, such as a US importer or foreign producer, or an insider, such as a secretary or a filing clerk.  The relator files a copy of the complaint and written disclosure of all material evidence and information possessed by the person under seal in the Federal District Court to show that certain US importers and foreign producers/exporters have committed fraud on the US government by transshipping products covered by antidumping and other trade orders to avoid the duties.

The complaint is brought on behalf of the United States and the Department of Justice.  The complaint and the evidence supporting the complaint are not served on the defendants, but on the US government, which has 60 days to determine whether or not to intervene in the case.

If the government decides to intervene and prosecute the action, the private party is entitled to 15 to 25 percent of any recovery.  If the government decides not to prosecute the case and the private party goes forward, the private parties are entitled to 25 to 30 percent of any recovery.

The remedy in a False Claims Act case is triple damages and in many AD and countervailing duty (“CVD”) cases, especially against China, the missing AD or CVD duties can be well over 100 to 300% on imports over the last 5 to 6 years.  In one recent preliminary antidumping determination against mattresses from China, the antidumping rate is 1,731%, the highest antidumping rate in history.

If total annual imports have come in from the transshipment country are over $15 million, for example, the total damages could be well over $100 million to $200 million with a potential payout to the relator of millions of dollars.

Relators, be they a competitor or an individual, can become very rich because of a False Claims Act case.  We presently have an ongoing False Claims Act case, where the total award is $62.4 million.  We are in the process of negotiating a multi-million dollar settlement for the relator in that case.  In a medical FCA case here in Seattle, a young clerk made several million dollars because of a False Claims Act case.

Although President Donald Trump and many in Congress scream about evasion of US AD and other trade orders because of transshipment, they often do not realize that there are already legal hammers to crush transshipment in the US legal arsenal and that is the Moiety Statute and the False Claims Act.

HUAWEI’S PROBLEMS CONTINUE

At the G-20 meeting between Presidents Xi and Trump, the Huawei issue was raised.  But to date, the Commerce Department has not done anything concrete to help Huawei and at the most has talked about making it easier for US companies to export products to Huawei that do not damage US national security.

But the major problem for Huawei is the criminal cases and to date nothing has been done from the US side to stop these cases.  More specifically, on January 28, 2019, the Justice Department issued two indictments against Huawei.  One indictment was filed in the Federal District Court in the Eastern District of New York and is entitled United States of America Vs Huawei Technologies Co., Ltd., Huawei Device USA, Skycom Tech Co., Ltd., Wanzhou Meng, also known as Cathy Meng and Sabrina Meng and a number of unknown defendants.

This indictment detailed allegations against Huawei, Huawei USA, Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei CFO and daughter of the owner, and several unnamed co-defendants alleging evasion of Iran sanctions, bank fraud, and obstruction of justice.

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

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

In fact, Christopher Wray, the head of the FBI, recently announced that it has 1,000 investigations into Chinese IP theft.  See https://www.scmp.com/news/china/article/3019829/fbi-has-1000-probes-chinese-intellectual-property-theft-director

THE PROBLEM FOR CHINESE FACING CRIMINAL PENALTIES IS THAT US ARREST WARRANTS AND EXTRADITION REQUESTS ARE ENFORCEABLE IN MANY DIFFERENT COUNTRIES

Recently, the Wall Street Journal published an article about a Chinese aluminum mogul, Liu Zhongtian, who was indicated in the US for evading $2 billion in tariffs in the Aluminum Extrusions from China Antidumping and Countervailing Duty case.  The indictment focuses on fraud and international money laundering, which carries a maximum prison sentence of 465 years.  See https://www.wsj.com/articles/chinese-billionaire-indicted-in-u-s-in-alleged-tariff-evasion-scheme-11564586470?mod=hp_lead_pos4.

The problem Mr. Liu faces, like Meng Wanzhou, is that although he cannot be arrested in China, as soon as he takes a step outside of China, he is vulnerable.

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

Chinese companies, however, are now international operations.  As soon as the Chinese individual takes a step out of China, he or she can be arrested.  US judgments are enforceable in many other countries, including Taiwan, Canada and until recently Hong Kong.

HIGHEST ANTIDUMPING RATE IN HISTORY AND THE CRITICAL CIRCUMSTANCES TRAP

As mentioned above, on July 10, 2019, in the Mattresses from China Antidumping case, Commerce issued the highest preliminary antidumping rate in history of $1,733%.  This can be a very difficult problem if there is a critical circumstances situation.  In the recent Quartz Surface Products from China Antidumping and Countervailing Duty case, we have been representing a substantial number of US importers.

In that case, the Commerce Department found antidumping rates ranging from 265 to 333% and countervailing duty rates ranging from 45 to 190%. More importantly, the Commerce Department made critical circumstances determinations exposing many importers to millions of dollars in retroactive liability for imports 90 days prior to the Preliminary Determinations.

For critical circumstances (“CC”) to stick, however, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) had to determine that the increased imports would “undermine seriously” the remedial effect of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders to be issued.  This is a very high statutory standard and, therefore, in over 90% of the cases, the ITC reaches a negative CC determination.  In the Quartz Surface Products case, luckily for many US importers, the ITC did reach a negative CC determination.

For almost 8 months before the ITC ruling, however, US importers were under immense pressure from US Customs and Border Protection to pay the millions in outstanding cash deposits during the CC period.  In fact, a number of US importers received notices of liquidated damages for failure to pay the cash deposits in the CC period, when the ITC ultimately reached a negative CC determination.

This CC situation created a number of sleepless nights for US importers.

FABRICATED STRUCTURAL STEEL FROM CHINA AND IMPACT ON US CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

Another problem has risen in the US Construction industry for the ongoing antidumping and countervailing duty case on Fabricated Structural Steel from China.  Many developers, who may not be importers but have set construction contracts, have called because of exposure to the CVD Preliminary Determination and rates of 36 to 179% and the potential AD rates of 222%.

If there are CC determinations by Commerce in the Fabricated Structural Steel case, this could put importers and downstream developers into a very difficult situation.

RECENT SECTION 337 PETITIONS

Two recent Section 337 petitions, which may be of interest are the following.

LIGHT EMITTING DIODES

On July 30, 2019, the Regents of the University of California filed a Section 337 case against imports of Filament Light-Emitting Diodes and Products.  The proposed respondents are:

Amazon.com, Inc., Seattle, WA; Amazon.com Services, Inc., Seattle, WA; Bed Bath & Beyond Inc., Union, NJ, IKEA of Sweden AB, Sweden; IKEA Supply AG, Switzerland; IKEA Distribution Services Inc., Conshohocken, PA; IKEA North America Services , LLC, Conshohocken, PA; Target Corporation, Minneapolis, MN; and Walmart Inc., Bentonville , AR.

CHILD RESISTANT CLOSURES

On July 22, 2019, Reynolds Presto Products Inc. filed a Section 337 case against imports of Child Resistant Closures with Slider Devices Having a User Actuated lnsertable Torpedo for Selectively Opening the Closures and Slider Devices.  The proposed respondents are:

Dalian Takebishi Packing Industry Co., Ltd., China; Dalian Altma Industry Co., Ltd., China; Japan Takebishi Co., Ltd., Japan; Takebishi Co., Ltd., Japan; Shanghai Takebishi Packing Material Co., Ltd., China; and Qingdao Takebishi Packing Industry Co., Ltd., China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry and Fred Rocafort

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

TRADE IS A TWO-WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 20, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE – FEBRUARY 21, 2019

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECTION 301 PROCEDURES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER COUNTRIES AGREE WITH TRUMP ON US CHINA TRADE DISPUTE

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

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

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

.        Semiconductor technology was stolen from Australia and the US.

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

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

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

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

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

BEING TOUGH ON CHINA IS A BIPARTISAN REPUBLICAN DEMOCRAT ISSUE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.     China’s hardening authoritarianism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The indictment states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LONG TERM PROBLEMS AND IMPACT ON CHINESE ECONOMY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NICHOLAS LARDY — US EXPERT ON THE CHINESE ECONOMY

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

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

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

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

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

XIANG SONGZUO-CHINESE EXPERT ON THE CHINESE ECONOMY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to John’s thought-provoking talk:

Asian Strategic and Economic Seminar Series

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

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

Now I get to go unplugged.  . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So today I’m stepping into the food fight.

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

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

 A Dynastic Cosmology

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

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

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

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

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

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

China’s veneration of the written word

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “Great Genius” Comrade Stalin. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most important lines in the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The same logic applies outside the party as within.

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings us to the title of this seminar.

Engineers of the human soul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s no different today. Xi:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But ideology won that contest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END”

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE IS A TWO-WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 20, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE – DECEMBER 21, 2018

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

G-20 DIM HOPE BECOMES BRIGHTER HOPE BUT??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECTION 301 PROCEDURES

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

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

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

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

INTERNATIONAL EXTRADITION AND JUDGMENT AGREEMENTS ARE IMPORTANT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

In n October 19, 2915, blog post . I made this point citing testimony of James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence under President Obama.  More specifically, on September 29, 2015, in response to specific questions from Senator Manchin in the Senate Armed Services Committee, James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, testified that China cyber- attacks to obtain information on weapon systems are not cyber- crime. It is cyber espionage, which the United States itself engages in. As Dr. Clapper stated both countries, including the United States, engage in cyber espionage and “we are pretty good at it.” Dr. Clapper went on to state that “people in glass houses” shouldn’t throw stones. See http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/15-09-29-united-states-cybersecurity- policy-and-threats at 1 hour 8 minutes to 10 minutes.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Technology Theft Campaign

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

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

*              *              *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUARTZ SURFACE PRODUCTS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES—ITC QUESTIONNAIRES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

https://uschinatradewar.com/6102-2/

US CHINA TRADE WAR –301 IP CASE NOT GOING AWAY, LONG COLD WINTER US CHINA TRADE RELATIONS, TRUMP XI MEETING DIM HOPE, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT CHINA IP INVESTIGATIONS, 301 PROCEDURES, NEW NAFTA

TRADE IS A TWO-WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 20, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR – NOVEMBER 19, 2018

Dear Friends,

This has been a difficult blog post to write because the US China Trade Relations are at a turning point.  Also every day there has been more news, most of it bad.

Although my hope is for a quick settlement, in all probability the US China trade relations are entering a long cold winter. The core of the Section 301 case is the IP Theft and Forced Technology transfers of US/foreign companies by Chinese entities under the direction of the Chinese government.  With no proposals/action plans from the US government and no real proposal from the China side until November 15th, which apparently was just a list of areas for possible negotiation, I do not see how this trade war ends soon.

Although there will be a Trump Xi meeting at the G-20 in Argentina on November 30 to December 1st, as of November 16th, there has been no real movement to a settlement.  Maybe an agenda can be created before the meeting, but usually those agendas are set up at lower level meetings and the issues are preliminarily negotiated before the meeting of the principles.  To date those real negotiations have not taken place.

Although there has been talks with the Treasury Secretary, Treasury will not make the decision in the Trade War embodied in the Section 301 case.  That decision will be made by the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) Robert Lighthizer and Donald Trump.  To date, there have been no negotiations on the 301 case between China and USTR.

On October 29th, Bloomberg reported that sources in the White House indicated that the if there is no breakthrough at the Trump Xi meeting, President Trump will impose tariffs on the remaining $275 billion in imports from China, in effect, covering all imports from China, which in 2017 were close to $505 billion.

The US China Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in Beijing have both told the Chinese government to come up with an action plan to provide the US government to settle this dispute.  This action plan would specifically spell out the steps that the Chinese government is prepared to deal with the core of the Section 301 case  — intellectual property (“IP”) theft and forced technology transfer.  Although I hope that an agreement between the US and China is possible, as indicated below, my partner, Steve Dickinson, who represents many US companies in China, believes that the situation is not likely to change in the near future.

Making it more difficult, on November 13th Vice President Pence told the Washington Post:

In addition to trade, Pence said China must offer concessions on several issues, including but not limited to its rampant intellectual property theft, forced technology transfer, restricted access to Chinese markets, respect for international rules and norms, efforts to limit freedom of navigation in international waters and Chinese Communist Party interference in the politics of Western countries.

If Beijing doesn’t come up with significant and concrete concessions, the United States is prepared to escalate economic, diplomatic and political pressure on China, Pence said. He believes the U.S. economy is strong enough to weather such an escalation while the Chinese economy is less durable.

If the US demands that China, in effect, must concede on every issue and completely change its economy to settle the 301 case, which is not focused on the South China sea and other issues, China will stand up and refuse to back down.

On the other hand, if a proposal to settle IP Theft and Forced Technology Transfer, the core of the 301 case, can come from the Chinese side, there is a chance that the 301 case can be settled.

In addition, IP Theft has risen to another level with the Justice Department initiative below to criminalize the actions and threaten the Chinese companies and the individuals involved with criminal fines and prison time.

If there is no settlement of the IP issue, this trade war will go on and on.  My hope is that the Chinese government makes a pragmatic/practical decision to deal with the IP Theft and forced technology transfer issues and settles this 301 case before the damage becomes too great.

On November 4th, former Treasury Henry Paulson, a true friend of China, at an economic conference in Singapore at which Wang Qishan attended made clear his fear that the US and China are entering into a cold war and “that is why I now see the prospect of an Economic Iron Curtain—one that throws up new walls on each side and unmakes the global economy, as we have known it.”  That statement should make the Chinese government understand how serious this situation is.

Meanwhile, the Chinese government appears to be turning away from the private market and to more of a state-owned market causing many private Chinese companies to look at alternatives in third countries.

Because of this trade war, US importers, US and foreign companies with manufacturing operations in China and even Chinese private companies must make contingency plans to deal with this US China Trade War, which could block all Chinese exports from the US market.  My law firm has set up a new group of consultants in Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines to look for third country sources of supply.  Our lawyers have expertise in drafting contracts to help them import products from those countries and also to set up manufacturing operations in those countries. Products coming from countries, such as Thailand and Philippines, also get an advantage under the US General System of Preferences eliminating normal Customs duties on products, which can range from 4 to 6.5%. This gives those imported products from GSP countries a financial advantage over products from China and elsewhere.

This newsletter will describe the 301 and IP issues in detail.  At the end of the newsletter, the technical details of the Section 301 case will be set up with the three lists and the possibility of filing for a product exclusion request.

Finally, will make some brief comments on the new US Mexico Canada Trade Agreement.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

THE US CHINA TRADE WAR IS NOT GOING AWAY SOON

To date the Chinese government appears to have dug in its heels, denied any IP theft or forced technology transfer and refused to provide any specific action plan to the US Government to deal with the IP issue.  The November 15th Chinese proposal apparently was just areas for possible future negotiation.

The attached full Section 301 report, USTR FULL 301 REPORT CHINA TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, lists the IP Agreements between the US and China, which China has not followed through on.  The 301 report is based on studies done by the US China Business Council and the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

I have personally talked to US companies, who have had intensive pressure from Chinese companies to turn over IP.  That pressure from Chinese companies apparently is coming directly from the Chinese government.

Some of those US companies are leaving China.  In fact, because of the Trump tariffs and the IP problems, there are reports that 60% of US companies are planning to move all or some of their production out of China.  The Trump tariffs have been the spark, but the gunpowder is the Chinese government/companies’ aggressive attempts to take US companies’ intellectual property.

The Chinese government may believe that it can weather this trade storm and wait it out.  But my discussions with Chinese companies indicate that it is becoming a long, hard winter.  Despite the tariffs, the US stock market has hit record highs since the Trump election in 2016.  Unemployment is at record low levels.

In contrast, China has seen an enormous drop in the Shanghai stock exchange of 25%.  Although exports are up because the tariffs on the $200 billion are only 10%, many experts are expecting a sharp drop when the tariffs go up to 25% on January 1st.

The US may be hurt by a US China trade war, but all the economic indicators are that China will be devastated. See the November 1st article from the South China Morning Post about the dramatic slowing in the Chinese economy at https://www.scmp.com/news/article/2170966/chinese-manufacturing-activity-slows-more-expected-trade-war-intensifies.

The question for the Chinese government is does China want to be a friendly competitor or a strategic rival bent on becoming the hegemon, which will dominant all of Asia.  My hope is that China wants to join the international community as a friendly competitor.  If China wants to be a friendly competitor, it has to demonstrate a committed policy of rejecting IP theft and forced technology transfer.  Otherwise it will be regarded as an international outlaw and strategic rival, and the US and many countries in the World will push back, devastating the Chinese economy and setting back the Chinese economy by decades.

The question for the Trump Administration is do you want to settle the 301 case and deal with the IP issues or simply use the 301 case as an excuse to shut down all trade with China.

Chinese officials argue that they do not know what US government officials to negotiate with and what the core issues are in the Section 301 case.  The core issues are IP Theft and Forced Technology Transfer.  The US government officials to negotiate with are: President Donald Trump, USTR Robert Lighthizer and possibly President Trump’s son in law, Jared Kushner, who played a pivotal role in negotiating the US Mexico Canada Trade Agreement.  But USTR is the agency in charge of the negotiations and the entity the Chinese government has to negotiate with.  Negotiating with Treasury Secretary Mnuchin is not going to settle the 301 case because that case comes out of USTR.

Moreover, it is not just the US that China has to worry about on intellectual property.  Europe has already agreed to work with the US against China on IP theft and forced technology transfer.  Mexico and Canada will join the Coalition.  Japan will also join because it strongly believes that the Chinese government stole their intellectual property for the bullet train.  This is not a pretty situation for China.

THE IP CORE OF THE 301 CASE AND SIGNED CHINESE IP AGREEMENTS VIOLATED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The international IP agreements China signed between 2010 to 2016 are NOT unequal treaties.  These are agreements that the Chinese government negotiated with the US and other foreign countries and then simply refused to follow through on.

See the article from the South China Morning Post on how China’s rampant intellectual property theft overlooked by the US sparked the trade war https://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/long-reads/article/2170132/how-chinas-rampant-intellectual-property-theft.

Moreover, the argument from some Chinese government officials and academics that China is a “developing” country and does not have to follow the international agreements that it signed is simply ridiculous.  China is now the second strongest economy in the World.

WHY IP PROTECTION SO IMPORTANT FROM THE US POINT OF VIEW

Many do not realize that IP rights, specifically copyrights and patents, are Constitutionally protected rights in the United States.  Article I Clause 8 of the US Constitution states:

“The Congress shall have power: “To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”

When I was in the Commerce Department in the mid 1980s during the Reagan Administration, Commerce Secretary Malcolm Baldrige believed that his job was to protect the crown jewels of American Manufacturing, the High-Tech industry.

In July 2018, USTR Lighthizer at the Senate Appropriations Committee responded to a question from Senator Schatz of Hawaii questioning the 301 case, by strongly stating the importance of protecting US intellectual property for future generations.  See https://www.appropriations.senate.gov/hearings/review-of-the-funding-priorities-for-the-office-of-the-us-trade-representative.

The United States views its high technology as the crown jewels, and crown jewels have to be protected. On June 15th, in the Section 301 case against China’s misappropriation to US intellectual property rights, through the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”), President Trump announced tariffs on $34 billion of Chinese imports.  The USTR announcement announcing the tariffs stated:

“We must take strong defensive actions to protect America’s leadership in technology and innovation against the unprecedented threat posed by China’s theft of our intellectual property, the forced transfer of American technology, and its cyber attacks on our computer networks,” said Ambassador Robert Lighthizer. “China’s government is aggressively working to undermine America’s high-tech industries and our economic leadership through unfair trade practices and industrial policies like ‘Made in China 2025.’ Technology and innovation are America’s greatest economic assets and President Trump rightfully recognizes that if we want our country to have a prosperous future, we must take a stand now to uphold fair trade and protect American competitiveness.”

DENY, DENY DENY—CHINESE GOVERNMENT RESPONSE

Recently, here in Seattle, the head of the San Francisco Chinese Consulate responded to the Section 301 case by simply denying all the allegations.  The Chinese government is not engaged in IP Theft and does not force companies to transfer their intellectual property when in China.

In an August 8, 2018 editorial, “China will not surrender to US threatening tactic”, the Chinese Daily, which is an arm of the Chinese government, stated:

But it created a new tactic of accelerating the trade war while advertising its willingness for talks. The mainstream opinion is that the US wants to use carrot-and- stick diplomacy to bully China into unilateral trade concessions, while some others hold that the hardliners in the White House overwhelm those calling for talks.

However, both groups share the same goal: to defeat China, no matter they prefer trade war or negotiation. But there is no way for them to be satisfied. . . .

But China will eventually defeat the trade blackmail of the US and it is impossible to force China into surrender to the US coercion. . . .

On October 16, 2018, in an editorial entitled “Commentary: Washington’s accusing China of “forced technology transfer” not grounded in facts” the China Daily stated:

BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) — In its recent round of mud-slinging against China, the United States has once again resorted to such hackneyed charges as “forced technology transfer” and “intellectual property theft.”

Those allegations are detached from the facts, insulting to China’s technological achievements, and nothing but a pretext for the global hegemon to stymie the ascent of the world’s largest developing country.

China’s remarkable scientific and technological development allows no belittlement. It stems from the hard work of generation after generation of Chinese researchers, and benefits from international cooperation under the country’s long-standing opening-up policy. . . .

Meanwhile, as witnessed by the international community, China has made great strides in formulating and improving its laws and regulations on intellectual property rights (IPR) protection in recent years.

World Intellectual Property Organization Director General Francis Gurry said just two months ago that in the past 40 years, China has established a high-level IPR protection system that regards intellectual property as the driving force for innovation and economic development and treats Chinese and foreign companies equally.  Without any doubt, technology transfer abounds between Chinese and foreign entities, but that is rooted in the transferring parties’ pursuit of maximum profits.

As a matter of fact, U.S. companies have made huge gains in China over recent years from technology transfer and licensing. According to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, China paid 7.95 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 and 8.76 billion dollars in 2017 to the United States for the use of intellectual property.

Thus, such condemnation of normal commercial practices is a mockery of the spirit of contract. More ironically, one of Washington’s frequently used weapons to curb other countries’ development is to impose high-tech export bans.

Authoritative research reports have repeatedly suggested that should the United States relax its strict restrictions on high-tech exports to China, its trade deficits would decrease significantly. But Washington has continued to be obstinate.

As many have pointed out, the ongoing trade frictions between China and the United States betray Washington’s anxiety over China’s increasing scientific and technological strength.

That angst is self-inflicted. Beijing is committed to peaceful development and win-win cooperation. What’s more, if China and the United States, the top two economies and investors in scientific and technological research on the planet, can join forces, the whole world will benefit, including both countries.

Given that, it is high time that Washington abandon its zero-sum mentality and embark upon the path of win-win cooperation instead.

CHINA’S REASONS FOR NOT GIVING IN ON INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

But we need to go deeper to understand China’s determination not to give in on the IP issues.  In past newsletters and this newsletter, I have advocated strongly that China needs to negotiate and deal with IP Theft and Forced Technology Transfer Issues.  I know for a fact that this happens in China.

Recently, I gave a speech in Houston, Texas about the Section 301 case.  At the end of the speech, an engineer from an oil refining company talked to me about the IP issue.  She has done projects all over the World.  The engineer told me that she has told her bosses that she refuses to do any more projects in China because of the constant aggressive attempts of the Chinese partners to steal the company’s IP.  Another senior manager at a major high tech company confirmed this point.

We know how the Chinese government helps Chinese companies get the IP.  IP for high technology cannot be sold to China by a service.  The policy of Chinese state-owned companies and Chinese banks, which are owned by the Government, is that the IP must be brought to China.  Then the US company cannot set up a wholly owned subsidiary in China to hold the IP.  No, the US company must have a joint venture, often with a direct Chinese competitor.  Once the Joint Venture is established, the Chinese company simply breaches the IP licensing agreements and takes the IP for the high technology.

Simply denying the IP problems will not solve the Section 301 case and make the tariffs go away.  But my partner, Steve Dickinson, who represents many US companies in China, has told me that the Chinese government cannot give in.  Steve speaks and reads Chinese fluently and follows the Chinese press closely:

“The trade and investment relationship between the U.S. and China is going through permanent change. The current round of tariffs is just the start. As the tariffs fail to bring a resolution, other restrictive measures will be implemented: prohibition on a) sale or license of technology to China, b) on Chinese purchase of U.S. technology companies, c) on education of Chinese students in U.S. schools, d) of hiring of Chinese nationals in U.S. business, and e) on cooperative research programs with Chinese scholars and researchers.

This is the “new normal” in China/U.S. business relations. U.S. companies that do business must adjust to this new normal as quickly as possible. Many companies are waiting to react because they believe that this conflict is just a temporary political problem that will soon blow over. This view is a mistake.

The tariff measures are the first step in a much more general conflict over the entire Chinese system. The U.S. objects to virtually every aspect of the current Chinese economic/trade/investment system. Rather than take on the entire Chinese system as a first step, the current tariff dispute with China has been narrowly defined.

The USTR 301 Report bases the tariffs on two concrete issues: forced technology transfer and IP theft. Rather than respond constructively on how these issues can be resolved, the Chinese government response has been to simply deny every claim in the 301 Report. In its White Paper in response to the 301 Report, the Chinese government flatly denied every claim in the report. On forced technology transfer: it does not happen. Companies that transfer their technology to China do it voluntarily based on their own business calculation. On IP theft: it does not happen and all the accusations of trade secret theft and cyber-hacking are simply lies.

This complete denial of every statement in the 301 Report has been consistently maintained by every layer of the Chinese government. There has been no movement at all. For example, in the forced transfer area, the Chinese government has refused to even consider opening the network, e-commerce and cloud computing markets in China to foreign based businesses. In the IP theft area, the Chinese government has refused to cooperate in investigation and extradition on the recent U.S. indictments in several high profile cases.

In the face of these consistent denials, there is no room now for the Chinese government to back down. There is a reason for this position. The forced transfer and IP “assimilation” regimes are at the core of the Chinese economic system. Any government leader who proposed to change those regimes in a serious and effective way would simply be removed from power. The current leaders of China understand this and that is why they cannot even suggest a compromise on this critical issues that go to the heart of the current Chinese system.

So the only short term resolution of the trade war is for the U.S. trade team to capitulate. The U.S. has capitulated in the past. What reason is there to believe that the U.S. will not capitulate now? The reason the U.S. is not likely to capitulate is that U.S. businesses have waited now for 20 years to see real improvement in the Chinese system. The result has not been improvement. Over the past decade the situation has grown steadily worse. As a result, China has lost its former supporters in the U.S. business community. Since China has lost its main body of support in the U.S., there is no pressure on the U.S. trade team to back down. It is therefore unlikely that they will.

The situation is critical and U.S. businesses that operate in China must begin an analysis on how to deal with the trade situation and then make concrete plans to deal with the impact of the situation on their business operations. Many companies believe that they are faced with a black or white decision: either abandon China or pretend that nothing is happening. This approach is a mistake.

The response is far more complex. Some companies will continue to work with China based on the situation that has been in place for the past decade. For those companies, the major adjustment is that they can quit dreaming that anything will change. For other companies, developing supply relations outside of China will become critical. For other companies, China will no longer be attractive and a move will be required.

What is consistent is that every company that operates in China will be required to evaluate its operations in China under the new normal of current and increasing restrictive trade and investment measures. Some of the analysis that must be performed is:or companies that purchase products from China: how will current and future tariffs impact the business. For some of our clients, the tariffs are largely irrelevant. For others, the impact is severe.

When tariffs have an impact: what can be done? Is an exclusion from the tariffs possible? Will the Chinese factory agree to a price adjustment? Should sales be directed to countries outside the U.S. where tariffs are not imposed.

If the supply chain must be moved to another country, a careful analysis is required. Will you need to build a factory or can you purchase from an existing supplier or contract manufacturer? Is the infrastructure and legal system in the target country adequate for your needs? How long will it take to move and what will be the cost? In the end, after the analysis is complete, the result may be that a move from China is not cost effective.

China currently requires many technology companies to license their technology into China. For example, such licensing is required in the network, cloud, SaaS sector, e-commerce and fin-tech sectors. The Chinese government has made it clear that this policy will not change. Companies in this sector that have held off on China in the hopes of a change in policy must now make a decision: accept the licensing requirement or abandon China as a market.

Many U.S. companies engage in co-development of technology and products in China, working with many types of Chinese entities. Over the past 15 years, the Chinese court system has been receptive to protecting the contractual rights of foreign entities, provided that the contracts are properly drafted. Will this support continue? Or will U.S. companies need to look to different ways to protect their innovations that do not rely on the Chinese legal system?

For U.S. companies that want to sell or license technology to Chinese person, will new rules make that difficult or impossible? For U.S. companies that want to bring in Chinese investment, what will be the impact of restrictions that are currently being proposed. For U.S. companies that rely on hiring large numbers of Chinese professionals, what will be the restrictions. For U.S. education and research institutions that want to work with Chinese researchers, will that be possible? What about Chinese scholars who have become naturalized citizens of other countries: will they also be banned?

The questions above must be faced by every party from the U.S. that works with China in any way. The new normal with China is just that: China will not be permanently cut off from business relations with the U.S. But the nature of the relationship has changed. The situation is fluid and the final configuration of the U.S/China business relationship has not been settled. Businesses that wait until after a final resolution is reached will be left behind.

Now is the time to evaluate and take action.

As explained below, because of the great change in US China trade relations, we are working to help US companies, importers and even Chinese private companies set up operations in third countries, such as Vietnam, Thailand and Philippines.  We now have arrangements with consultants on the ground in these countries to help establish manufacturing operations or develop second sources of supply.On the legal side, we have substantial experience drafting foreign manufacturing agreements and supply agreements in these other countries to help companies wanting to move to a third country or source products from those countries.

See more information below.

To understand why we are so pessimistic of a short term settlement, on November 7th, the China Academy of Social Sciences, which is part of the Chinese government, posted an article on what they continue to pose as the ideal Chinese domestic innovation/assimilation of foreign IP project: the high speed rail/bullet train project: http://ex.cssn.cn/djch/djch_djchhg/zggdxlbdly_91788/The PRC high speed rail project was one of the most notorious examples of IP theft in the modern era. Chinese companies stole from 4 different companies breaching IP license agreements with the European and Japanese companies.  Not only did the Chinese companies break their agreements to purchase foreign technology, they are now attempting to sell their illegal clones right back into foreign markets in competition with the companies from whom they stole the technology.

When challenged by Hitachi and others, the Chinese companies responded:

1). The licenses were unfair, so breach was justified.

2). Foreign patents, other IP and formal license agreements are all just unfair means foreigners use to keep China down.

3). The foreign companies should be happy that China is making cheap imitations, since that expands the market for the high speed rail products.

Books have been written about this project in China, where the perpetrators of the theft are lauded as national heroes. They describe in detail exactly how the foreign companies were tricked into giving away their technology. No one hides what was done. Instead, the Chinese government brags about how smart the Chinese companies were compared to the fool foreign companies who thought that formal licenses, IP registration and the rule of law would protect them. In effect, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences says what fools the foreign companies are.

Although the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences/the Chinese government may think that stealing foreign IP is the way to go, Japanese companies, such as Kawasaki Heavy, disagree.  In the April article entitled Did China Steal Japan’s High Speed Train, http://fortune.com/2013/04/15/did-china-steal-japans-high-speed-train/, Fortune states:

One China defender recently claimed his countryman’s “bandit innovators” could be good for the world. That was small consolation for the Japanese, who say that China pirated their world-famous bullet train technology.

“Don’t worry too much about Chinese companies imitating you, they are creating value for you down the road,” said Li Daokui, a leading Chinese economist at the Institute for New Economic Thinking’s conference. Such “bandit innovators,” he expanded, would eventually grow the market, leading to benefits for everybody.

Kawasaki Heavy Industries (KHI), maker of Japan’s legendary Shinkansen bullet trains, bitterly disagrees. After signing technology transfers with CSR Sifang, the builder of China’s impressive, new high-speed rail, KHI says it deeply regrets its now-dissolved partnership.

The key point is that the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences/the Chinese government posted its high-speed rail article on November 7th, right in the middle of the trade war and just prior to the Trump/Xi G-20 meeting.

It should be noted that the Chinese approach to IP is directly contrary to the Japanese approach to IP.  In the 1990s, Japanese companies were among the top 10 companies getting US patents with Hitachi getting more patents in some years than IBM.  The Japanese know how to develop IP right—invent and patent.

THE JUSTICE DEPARTMENT DISAGREES—CRIMINAL ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES AND CHINESE INDIVIDUALS

Although the Chinese government denies, denies and insists that Chinese companies do not steal US IP and then brags about stealing IP, the Justice Department disagrees and has taken these issues to another level—criminal investigations resulting in prison time.  On November 1, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced a new case and a new initiative to combat Chinese economic espionage.  In the attached statement, SESSIONS ANNOUNCEMENT NEW CHINA INITIATIVE IP THEFT, Attorney General Sessions stated:

But under President Donald Trump, the United States is standing up to the deliberate, systematic, and calculated threats posed, in particular, by the communist regime in China, which is notorious around the world for intellectual property theft.

Earlier this year, a report from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer found that Chinese sponsorship of hacking into American businesses and commercial networks has been taking place for more than a decade and is a serious problem that burdens American commerce.

The problem has been growing rapidly, and along with China’s other unfair trade practices, it poses a real and illegal threat to our nation’s economic prosperity and competitiveness. . . .

From 2013 to 2016, the Department of Justice did not charge anyone with spying for China.

But since the beginning of 2017, we have charged three people with spying for China or attempting or conspiring to do so. And when it comes to trade secret theft, we are currently prosecuting five other cases where the theft or attempted theft was for the benefit of the Chinese government.

In 2015, China committed publicly that it would not target American companies for economic gain. Obviously, that commitment has not been kept.

Just ask GE Aviation, or Trimble, of Sunnyvale, California.

Today I am announcing another economic espionage case against Chinese interests. . . .

I am announcing that a grand jury in San Francisco has returned an indictment alleging economic espionage on the part of a Chinese state-owned, government owned, company, a Taiwan company, and three Taiwan individuals for an alleged scheme to steal trade secrets from Micron, an Idaho-based semi- conductor company.

Micron is worth an estimated $100 billion and controls about 20 to 25 percent of the dynamic random access memory industry—a technology not possessed by the Chinese until very recently.

One of the defendants served as president of a company acquired by Micron in 2013. He left the company   in 2015 and went to work for the Taiwan defendant company—from where he is alleged to have orchestrated the theft of trade secrets from Micron worth up to $8.75 billion.

The Taiwan defendant company then partnered with a Chinese state-owned company—so that ultimately China could steal this technology from the United States and then use it to compete against us in the market. This is a brazen scheme.

If convicted, the defendants face up to 15 years in prison and $5 million in fines. The companies could face forfeiture and fines worth more than $20 billion.

This week the Commerce Department added the Chinese company to the Entity List to prevent it from buying goods and services in the United States, to keep it from profiting from the technology it stole.

And today the Department of Justice is filing a civil action to seek an injunction that would prevent the Chinese and Taiwan companies from transferring the stolen technology, or exporting products based on it to the United States.

We are not just reacting to crimes—we are acting to block the defendants from doing any more harm to our U.S. based company, Micron. . . .

As the cases I’ve discussed have shown, Chinese economic espionage against the United States has been increasing—and it has been increasing rapidly.

We are here today to say: enough is enough. We’re not going to take it anymore.

It is unacceptable. It is time for China to join the community of lawful nations. International trade has been good for China, but the cheating must stop. And we must have more law enforcement cooperation; China cannot be a safe haven for criminals who run to China when they are in trouble, never to be extradited. . . .

I am announcing that I have ordered the creation of a China Initiative led by Assistant Attorney General John Demers, who heads our National Security Division . . . .

This Initiative will identify priority Chinese trade theft cases, ensure that we have enough resources dedicated to them, and make sure that we bring them to an appropriate conclusion quickly and effectively. . . .

This will help us meet the new and evolving threats to our economy. Today, we see Chinese espionage not just taking place against traditional targets like our defense and intelligence agencies, but against targets like research labs and universities, and we see Chinese propaganda disseminated on our campuses.

And so I have directed this initiative to focus on these problems as well and to recommend legislation to Congress if necessary.

China—like any advanced nation—must decide whether it wants to be a trusted partner on the world stage—or whether it wants to be known around the world as a dishonest regime running a corrupt economy founded on fraud, theft, and strong-arm tactics. Our wish is to have a trusted partner.

The President has made clear that this country remains open to friendship and productive relationships with China. Nothing is more important for the world. We want our relationships to improve, not get worse.

But these problems must be solved. These threats must be ended.

This Department of Justice—and the Trump administration—have already made our decision: we will not allow our sovereignty to be disrespected, our intellectual property to be stolen, or our people to be robbed of their hard-earned prosperity. We want fair trade and good relationships based on honest dealing.  We   will enforce our laws—and we will protect America’s national interests.

Emphasis added

For those Taiwan and Chinese individuals that believe that they cannot be touched by Justice Department warrants in the United States, another think coming.  As Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Criminal Division stated on November 1, 2018 in the attached statement, JUSTICE DEPARTMENT ANNOUNCEMENT IP THEFT:

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added.

Although Chinese individuals may not be touched in China, once they leave the country and go to Europe or any other country, Justice Department extradition warrants can easily take hold.  The individual may find himself arrested on entry to Europe or some other country based on a US extradition warrant.

Taiwan individuals are subject to Justice Department extradition warrants, as are Hong Kong individuals.  In an antitrust case for price fixing of LCDs against many Taiwan high tech companies, Taiwan extradited high ranking company officials to the United States to face prison time.  Two executives at AU Optronics were sentenced to three years in Federal Prison and served the time.

As Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers further stated on November 1, 2018 in the attached statement, ANOTHER JUSTICE DEP ANNOUNCE IP THEFT:

Just two days ago, in United States v. Zhang Zhang-Gui, et al., we charged ten defendants, including co- opted company insiders, working for or acting on behalf of the Jiangsu Ministry of State Security, also known as the “JSSD,” an arm of the Chinese intelligence services. According to the charging documents from the Southern District of California, the defendants conspired to hack U.S. and European defense and aerospace contractors in order to steal information to develop a Chinese version of a commercial airplane turbofan engine.

Just over three weeks ago, in the Southern District of Ohio, we obtained the extradition of a JSSD intelligence officer who was also alleged to have attempted to co-opt an employee of a defense contractor in order to steal trade secrets related to commercial airplane engines.

In September, in the Northern District of Illinois, we charged an individual here in the United States who acted as a source for a JSSD intelligence officer, helping him, among other things, to assess engineers and scientists for recruitment.

In August, in the Northern District of New York, we charged an individual with stealing turbine technology and sending it to China.

And so it goes.

Taken together, these cases, and many others like them, paint a grim picture of a country bent on stealing its way up the ladder of economic development—and doing so at American expense. This behavior is illegal. It’s wrong. It’s a threat to our national security. And it must stop. . . .

On November 16, 2018, the LA Times, a well-known Democratic newspaper, in an article entitled” China has taken the gloves off in its theft of U.S. Technology secrets”¸ http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-na-pol-china-economic-espionage-20181116-story.html, stated:

“They want technology by hook or by crook. They want it now. The spy game has always been a gentleman’s game, but China has taken the gloves off,” said John Bennett, the special agent in charge of the FBI’s San Francisco office, which battles economic spies targeting Silicon Valley.

“They don’t care if they get caught or if people go to jail. As long as it justifies their ends, they are not going to stop.” . . .

Alperovitch and U.S. officials also have noticed a shift in who is behind the attacks. China’s military is no longer directing the bulk of the hacks. It appears China’s chief civilian intelligence agency, the Ministry of State Security, has taken the lead instead.

The trend is troubling because the spy service employs more sophisticated and seasoned hackers than the military . . . .

“The problem here is the scale and scope of the threat,” said John Demers, the Justice Department’s assistant attorney general for national security. ”It is both impressive and frightening. The Chinese are methodical, persistent and well- resourced. It’s a concerted effort to steal and gather the know-how to produce . . . .”

MIDTERM ELECTIONS WILL NOT SAVE CHINA—IP THEFT AND FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER HAVE UNITED THE REPUBLICANS AND THE DEMOCRATS IN WASHINGTON DC

The Chinese government may think that the Democratic Victory in the House of Representatives in the Midterm Elections will save China.  But as these newsletters have been saying for years, the only one more tough on China than Donald Trump and the Republicans is the Democrats.

The new Speaker of the House is Nancy Pelosi.  Many Chinese may not remember that Nancy Pelosi demonstrated in Tiananmen Square against the Chinese government in 1991.  See https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1991-09-06-9103070091-story.html.  Nancy Pelosi is no real friend of China.

On November 17, 2018, Nicholas Kristof, a New York Times Columnist and no friend of Donald Trump, in an article entitled “The Dangerous Naïveté of Trump and X” stated:

“Trump is right (I can’t believe I just wrote those three words!) that China has not played fair. The best response would have been to work with allies to pressure China simultaneously from all sides; instead, Trump antagonized allies so that we are fighting this battle alone.

Why have I and so many others soured on China?

This is larger than Trump and Xi. China’s admission to the World Trade Organization in 2001 was meant to integrate the country into the global trading system as an increasingly responsible world power. But after moving mostly in the right direction under Deng Xiaoping and Jiang Zemin, China stalled under Hu Jintao and has moved backward under Xi.

China has stolen technology and intellectual property even as it has become more aggressive militarily in the South China Sea and curbed freedom at home. Xi offends global values by detaining more than one million Muslims in the Xinjiang region, arresting lawyers and Christians, and steadily squeezing out space for free thought. I used to report from China each year but now find the limits on a journalist visa so onerous that it’s not worthwhile. And I’m supposed to be the lao pengyou, or old friend, of China.”

On November 8, 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported on a November 7th speech in Singapore in an article by Greg Ip entitled “Henry Paulson Delivers a Sobering Message” that:

“Few people have championed U.S. engagement with China as forcefully or successfully as Henry Paulson, first at Goldman Sachs Group Inc ., later as Treasury Secretary, and now as elder statesman.

So when Mr . Paulson concludes engagement is failing and an “economic Iron Curtain” may soon descend between the two, it’s a sobering statement of the perilous state of relations between the two economic superpowers.

In a speech delivered Wednesday in Singapore, Mr. Paulson warns China its behavior has alienated American friends and unified the American public against it. He is less critical of the U.S. but nonetheless believes it has unrealistic expectations of China and of its own allies. If neither changes course, the result will be “a long winter in U.S.-China relations” and “systemic risk of monumental proportions.” . . .”

In 2006 Paulson became the Treasury Secretary for George W. Bush, where he pushed a US China initiative, the “strategic economic dialogue” because he believed that the US China economic relationship is the most important economic relationship in the World. He then founded the Paulson Institute to smooth bilateral relations with China.

In the attached speech, PAULSON SPEECH, at the November 7th Economic Forum in Singapore at which Wang Qishan and other high level Chinese officials attended, Paulson stated:

Today, this region must look warily at the prospect that what, until now, has been a healthy strategic competition will tip into a full-blown cold war. . . . .

Taken together, these and other drivers, such as China’s cyber practices and island building in the South China Sea, have fueled a new consensus in Washington that China is not just a strategic competitor but very possibly our major long-term adversary.

America’s longstanding “engagement” policy is now widely viewed as being of little use for its own sake. . . .

Unless these broader and deeper issues are addressed, we are in for a long winter in US-China relations.

Let’s just take the economics.

The United States played the decisive role in facilitating China’s entry into the World Trade Organization. Yet 17 years after China entered the WTO, China still has not opened its economy to foreign competition in so many areas. . . .

But it also helps explain why so many influential voices now argue for a “decoupling” of the two economies, especially with respect to technology- related trade and investment that will disrupt supply chains.

These arguments will not go away anytime soon.

They will drive a variety of new approaches from this administration and its successors.

Both Democrats and Republicans are saying so.

And this negative view of China unites politicians from both left and right who agree on nothing else. . . .

In large part because China has been slow to open its economy since it joined the WTO, the American business community has turned from advocate to skeptic and even opponent of past US policies toward China. American business doesn’t want a tariff war but it does want a more aggressive approach from our government.

How can it be that those who know China best, work there, do business there, make money there, and have advocated for productive relations in the past, are among those now arguing for more confrontation?

The answer lies in the story of stalled competition policy, and the slow pace of opening, over nearly two decades. . . .

It is not just that foreign technologies are being transferred and digested.

It is that they are being reworked so that foreign technologies become Chinese technologies through an indigenization process that many of the multinational CEOs I talk to believe is grossly unfair to the innovators and dreamers at the heart of their companies.

Pervasive technology theft, forced technology transfer, including within joint ventures, and different models of internet governance and cross-border data flows are also contributing factors. . . .

So, such a balkanization of technology could further harm global innovation, not to mention the competitiveness of firms around the world.

Meanwhile, the integration of people, especially the brightest young students, could also stall — as Washington potentially bans Chinese students from studying whole categories of science and engineering subjects.

If all this persists—across all four baskets of goods, capital, technology, and people—I fear that big parts of the global economy will ultimately be closed off to the free flow of investment and trade.

And that is why I now see the prospect of an Economic Iron Curtain—one that throws up new walls on each side and unmakes the global economy, as we have known it.

Emphasis added.

Although former Secretary Paulson talks about a general opening up of the Chinese economy, I believe that he has taken his eye off the ball.  At the same Economic Conference Henry Kissinger stated that the both the US and China must tell the other country what the red lines are.  The key red line in the 301 case and in US China economic policy in general is IP Theft and Forced Technology Transfer.

The fact that Republicans and Democrats are united in opposing China is illustrated by a November 4th Editorial in the Washington Post entitled “The US Must Take Action to Stop Chinese Industrial Espionage”, which stated:

“SPEAKING IN the White House Rose Garden in September 2015, Presidents Barack Obama and Xi Jinping announced a breakthrough. The United States and China pledged that neither nation “will conduct or knowingly support cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property, including trade secrets or other confidential business information for commercial advantage.” But Mr. Xi’s promises were flimsy and short-lived. The agreement has collapsed. China is again trying to steal its way to greatness, and that calls for a resolute response.

The latest sign of trouble, but hardly the only sign, came in the indictments unsealed last week by the Justice Department. The United States charged that a state-owned Chinese company attempted to steal trade secrets from Micron, a semiconductor company based in Idaho that is the only U.S. maker of “dynamic random-access memory,” or DRAM, vital memory chips for computers, mobile devices and other electronics. . . .

China lacked DRAM technology until recently, and the Micron case is another example of China’s quest to climb the ladder of economic development by stealing overseas technology and copying, re-engineering and manufacturing it, leapfrogging what would otherwise be decades of difficult and expensive work. This is not the sort of espionage seeking state secrets that all countries undertake, but a very targeted stealing to help China’s companies profit and conquer markets. The companies also receive robust capital infusions from the state. After the 2015 Rose Garden announcement, the Chinese stealing subsided for a while, so fewer U.S. companies were hit, but then the pace accelerated again in 2017.

Mr. Sessions insisted that “cheating must stop.” Mr. Obama had also insisted: “I indicated that it has to stop.” In fact, China’s industrial espionage is not a passing fancy but the pillar of a long-term drive to become a global economic, military and political power, with ambitions to rival the United States. Sadly, the hopes of the past two decades, that Beijing would become a fair competitor playing by international rules, have been dashed.

It is a good first response to indict the perpetrators in the Micron case, and for Mr. Sessions to bolster resources and attention to the threat. Beyond that, however, the United States must see the Chinese espionage for what it truly represents: the pursuit of superpower might by stealing the labor and investment of others. The economies of the United States and China are inexorably entwined, which will make confronting the espionage threat even harder. But it must be done. In the end, China will respond only to compulsion.

Emphasis added

The key point of the Washington Post editorial is that the Post is owned by Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon and a good Democrat. The Washington Post is a very pro- Democratic newspaper.  When the Washington Post is saying that the only way to end China’s IP theft is “compulsion”, that means both Republicans and Democrats are saying the same thing.  When two ends of a very divided nation unite against China, that is not good for China.

COALITION TO ISOLATE CHINA-OTHER COUNTRIES JUMP ON THE US IP TRAIN

Although many Chinese believe that the only country pushing back on China is the United States, that simply is incorrect.  In July 2018 Jean Claude Juncker, the European Commission President, met with President Trump to discuss a potential trade war.  Juncker made it clear that he came to Washington to make a trade deal, and that the EC would work with the US against China on IP theft, forced technology transfer and overcapacity.

At the end of the recently negotiated US Mexico Canada Trade Agreement, there is a specific Article 32.10 “Non-Market Country FTA”, which provides that “a Party shall inform the other Parties of its intention to commence free trade agreement negotiations with a non-market country.”  China is a non-market country.

Section 32.10 (3) goes on to provide:

“Entry by any Party into a free trade agreement with a non-market country, shall allow the other Parties to terminate this Agreement on six-month notice and replace this Agreement with an agreement as between them (bilateral agreement).”

In other words, if Canada or Mexico negotiate a FTA with China, the United States can terminate the new Mexico Canada Trade Agreement.

Also as indicated above, China stole Japanese technology for the high speed rail network.  In all likelihood, Japan will work with the US and other countries to oppose China’s policy of IP theft and Forced Technology Transfer.  On IP, China will face a united front by the US, EC, Canada, Mexico, Japan and probably Korea against it.

XI TRUMP MEETING END OF NOVEMBER at G-20

President Xi and President Trump are expected to meet on the side of the G-20 meeting in Buenos Ares, Argentina on Nov 30 to December 1st.  As indicated above, the recent proposal from the Chinese government appears to be only an outline of the areas the Chinese government is willing to negotiate on and the areas it is not willing to negotiate on.

If the Chinese proposal was a concrete proposal and action plan, the Chinese government would be meeting now with the United States Trade Representative.  Until USTR Lighthizer is involved in the US China negotiations, I do not expect any deal to get done.

The question is whether Xi Trump meeting can lead to a detailed outline of the areas of negotiation to the extent that Trump is willing to postpone the increase on tariffs to 25% on January 1st.  There is no indication that the United States and China are anywhere near that stage.

On November 19, 2018, the South China Morning Post published the attached article, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy/article/2174026/after-apec-tensions-expect-extra-pressure-when-xi-jinping-and, about how the recent APEC meeting has put even more pressure on the Trump/Xi meeting at the end of November at the G-20:

After Apec tensions, expect ‘extra pressure’ when Xi Jinping and Donald Trump meet at G20 . . .

Atmosphere described as ‘extremely tense’ at Pacific nations summit, and observers say it reflects reality of rivalry between China and the US.  Washington will be seeking to maximise pressure on Beijing ahead of crunch meeting at G20 summit, according to analysts

Beijing should prepare for tough talks when Chinese President Xi Jinping and US President Donald Trump meet at the G20 summit after open hostility between the two nations at the Apec gathering, observers say.

That hostility resulted in the 21 Pacific Rim leaders for the first time failing to reach a consensus on a formal declaration at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meeting in Port Moresby over the weekend, and it is expected to overshadow future trade negotiations between Beijing and Washington.

The rift was on full display when Xi and US Vice-President Mike Pence traded barbs at the summit on Saturday, neither of them listening to each other’s speeches and both lashing out about the trade war, Xi attacking America’s protectionism and Pence taking aim at Beijing’s “Belt and Road Initiative”.

Three delegates from Papua New Guinea described the atmosphere between China and the United States at the summit as “extremely tense”.

Chinese delegates on Saturday left the hall after Xi made his speech, and before Pence gave  his.

“Some left the venue, but those who were still at the venue were just standing outside the hall – they chose not to listen to Pence’s speech,” one of the delegates from Papua New Guinea said. . . .

Liu Weidong, a China-US affairs specialist from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said while the trade war was hurting both China and the US, Beijing may face more pressure.

“This meeting [between Xi and Trump] means more to China than to the US, but negotiators and decision-makers from both sides will come under extra pressure in the next fortnight.”

Xi has tried to position China as a champion of free trade in the face of Trump’s “America first” protectionism, but according to analysts he will have a difficult time convincing leaders of major powers like Germany, France and the European Union, who share many of Washington’s concerns about China – even if  they are worried about being caught in the middle.

“Beijing needs to be prepared,” Liu said. “[The Western powers] may not firmly stand with either China or the US, but they would tacitly approve of some of the US measures that could further press China.”

Liu added that Beijing would have to do something about intellectual property rights protection and lower tariffs to end the trade war.

It is interesting to note that Liu is from the same Academy of Social Sciences that says that stealing the high speed rail technology is the way China should proceed in the future.

Moreover, the fact that the Chinese side refused to even listen to Pence’s speech indicates how far the countries are to any resolution.  If one side refuses to even listen to the arguments, no resolution can be reached.

IN XIAO SHI DA

My hope and prayer is that China truly wants to be a friendly competitor with the United States, not a strategic rival or even an adversary.

Four-character Chinese sayings are an old form of conveying deep thoughts about China.  This situation reminds me of the old Chinese saying, “In Xiao Shi Da”, because of the little, lose the big.  Because of the Chinese desire to steal foreign technology, Chinese companies may lose the entire US market, the $500 billion plus US market.  The Chinese government’s actions may result in Chinese exports being shut out of the US market for years at the cost of trillions of US dollars.

GUO TUI MIN JIN BECOMES GUO JIN MIN TUI

Meanwhile, the Chinese economy appears to be changing from a private economy with a smaller state-owned economy to an economy dominated by State-Owned companies.  When China joined the WTO, China’s economic genius was Zhu Rongyi.  In the following November 14th article, https://www.scmp.com/news/china/politics/article/2173020/inside-story-propaganda-fightback-deng-xiaopings-market-reforms, the South China Morning Post states that the reason Zhu came to power was Deng Xiaoping.  As the article states:

“Liu, who had first-hand knowledge of the articles, said Deng was spending the Lunar New Year holiday in Shanghai in 1991 when he asked then Shanghai party boss Zhu Rongji to go to the Xijiao Hotel where he was staying.

“He summoned Zhu Rongji and talked about the market economy and reform. It was a personal conversation. It was in- depth and not the official line. It was the true thoughts [of Deng] – that is, if you want to reform you have to introduce a market economy,” he said.

Liu said Zhu was very excited that Deng confided his thoughts to him, and relayed the conversation to his secretary and Shi Zhihong in the car on their way back from the hotel.”

At the time that China joined the WTO and Premier Zhu was in charge, the four character saying was “Guo Tui Min Jin”, “State-Owned phase out, private sector phase in”.  The new four character saying under Xi Jinping is “Guo Jin Min Tui”, “State Owned phase in, private sector phase out”.

In the attached November 19th article,  https://www.scmp.com/business/companies/article/2173678/can-communist-partys-unprecedented-endorsement-calm-frayed-nerves, the South China Morning Post is asking whether the Chinese government is suffocating the private industry:

Private entrepreneurs have borne the brunt of Beijing’s diktats, everything from a policy to cut excess industrial capacity in steel and coal, to crackdowns on corruption and pollution, with non-state companies forming nearly all of the 11,000 firms that vanished since 2016, China Merchants Bank International’s chief economist Ding Anhua said in September.

Profit growth is plunging at private enterprises. Bond defaults have surged to a new high. Scores of listed companies have sold controlling stakes to the government for a financial lifeline this year. And a string of China’s richest businessmen have been swept up in corruption probes.

The last straw that sent public sentiment tumbling came in September, when an obscure blogger named Wu Xiaoping wrote that the private sector “had completed its historic mission” of reinvigorating state-owned enterprises, and should now “fade away.”

The essay, which brought back memories of Mao Zedong’s purge of capitalists half a century before, went immediately viral on China’s internet, riding on widespread fears that such radical thinking might be re-emerging.  . . .

But many are sceptical that Xi’s prescription is enough to calm jitters in the business community. Nor enough to answer the high-stakes question hovering: is the powerful state suffocating the most dynamic, vigorous part of China’s economy, at the very time when growth is slowing down amid a trade war with the world’s largest economy?

“Private enterprises are in a dire moment now,” said Sheng Hong, executive director of the independent Chinese think tank Unirule Institute of Economics. “The country could risk a great recession.” . . . .

The private sector accounts for 60 per cent of China’s gross domestic product and 80 per cent of jobs, according to official statistics.

But figures could be even higher by independent estimates. A study led by Sheng of Unirule concluded that more than 90 per cent of the newly added national output since 2016 came from the private sector, which is also the source of all new jobs created since 2000. . . .

Corporate taxes account for 67 per cent of all commercial profits, the 12th highest tax in 190 economies, much higher than the 44 per cent in the US or the 31 per cent in the UK,   according to the World Bank.

In contrast to private owned companies, state owned companies pay almost no taxes at all.

The United States and many countries fear that the new Chinese model is to focus on the State-Owned industry, funnel government monety to those state-owned companies to target foreign technology.

TSUNAMI, BIG WAVE, OF CHANGE US IMPORTERS, FOREIGN COMPANIES AND EVEN CHINESE COMPANIES MOVE TO THIRD COUNTRIES TO ESCAPE TRADE WAR

The US China trade war along with the internal war in China against private industry, however, have led to a tsunami, tidal wave, of change as US Importers look for second sources of supply, and US and foreign companies in China and even private Chinese companies look to move some or all of their production out of China to third countries.

WE CAN HELP

Because of this tidal wave of change, my firm has formed alliances with consultants on the ground in Vietnam, Thailand, Philippines and even Ukraine to help companies find second sources of supply in those countries.  We are now working with consultants on the ground in those countries to help find second sources of supply and set up manufacturing sites.

Steve Dickinson and other partners at Harris have substantial experience drafting supplier contracts for US importers to minimize risk, and drafting contracts to set up manufacturing operations in other countries.  The Trade and Customs group can also help importers meet the requirements under the trade and customs laws and General System of Preferences so as to reduce and in the case of GSP eliminate ordinary Customs duties on imported products.

SECTION 301 PROCEDURES

As to the procedures in the Section 301 case, please see my last blog post at https://uschinatradewar.com/us-china-trade-war-trump-trade-war-speech-301-tariff-200-billion-in-imports-301-product-exclusion-process-widening-ad-cvd-orders-exclusions-section-201-nafta-us-eu-agreement-new-ad-case/ for a detailed explanation of the 301 case, three outstanding lists and opportunity to request a product exclusion request.

There are presently three separate lists. Depending upon which list imports are on, different options are available.

List 1 is for the 25% tariff on the initial $34 billion in imports, FIRST SET OF $34 BILLION.  If your imported product is on this list, your only option was to file a product exclusion request by October 9th.  According to a November 12th Politico article, to date:

“U.S. companies have filed close to 10,000 requests for certain products to be excluded from a 25 percent tariff that Trump imposed on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods in July.  . . . About 816 of requests have been denied and around 370 have been tentatively approved, subject to a final sign-off by U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The others are still in either Stage 1 or Stage 2 of the review process.”

List 2 is for the 25% on the $16 billion in imports, USTR OFFICIAL $16 BILLION PRESS RELEASE.  If your products are on that list, the 25% tariffs took effect on August 23rd.  Your only option is to file a product exclusion request by December 18th.  According to the November 12th Politico article:

“Companies have also filed close to 500 requests for products to be excluded from a second batch of tariffs on $16 billion worth of Chinese goods that went into effect in August.

List 3 is for the 25% on the $200 billion in imports, $200 BILLION USTR NOTICE.  No exclusion process has been set up yet for products on the $200 billion list.

BRIEF COMMENTS ON NEW NAFTA NOW US MEXICO CANADA TRADE AGREEMENT

As many will know because of the press updates, the United States and Canada reached agreement with Mexico on a New NAFTA, now known as the USMCA, the US Mexico Canada Agreement. To see the text of the New USMCA go to this link at the United States Trade Representative, https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/united-states-mexico-canada-agreement/united-states-mexico.

Note that the term “Free Trade” has been removed.  Trump has made one point clear in these trade negotiations.  Despite the fancy statements, these trade agreements are not “free trade agreements”.  They are government managed trade.

If the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) were truly a free trade agreement, Canada would not have had 275% tariffs on exports of dairy products to Canada.

But the US Mexico Canada Trade Agreement (“USMCA”) does have many changes and yes, the US is a beneficiary.

Besides the Nonmarket Economy Provision mentioned above, the new agreement reduces substantially the 275% on US dairy product exports to Canada.

With regards to automobiles, North American content goes up to 75%,

There is also a requirement that to qualify for North American content, the labor wages must be $16 an hour or higher, which means less jobs going to Mexico.

Another area, which is near and dear to my heart, is that Canada and British Columbia have reduced its very high tariffs and import restrictions on US wine, including Washington State Wine.

The Agreement also provides for a sunset review.  Ever six years, the three countries will meet to decide whether to keep the Agreement going and more importantly whether to re-negotiate certain provisions.

The Agreement will also expire in 16 years, which will lead again to more negotiations.

In other words, there are many changes in the US Mexico Canada Trade agreement and companies should follow the link above to see how the Agreement will affect each company.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP TRADE WAR, SPEECH, 301 TARIFF $200 BILLION IN IMPORTS, 301 PRODUCT EXCLUSION PROCESS, WIDENING AD/CVD ORDERS, EXCLUSIONS SECTION 201 NAFTA, US EU AGREEMENT, NEW AD CASE

Arrow Watch Tower Forbidden City Beijing China

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 20, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE-OCTOBER 1, 2018

 

Dear Friends,

As many will know because of the press updates, yesterday the United States and Canada reached agreement with Mexico on a New NAFTA, now known as the USMCA, the US Mexico Canada Agreement.  Note that the term “Free Trade” has been removed.  As President Trump has so clearly illustrated, Free Trade Agreements or FTAs are not truly free trade agreements, they are government managed trade.

To see the text of the New USMCA go to this link at the United States Trade Representative, https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/united-states-mexico-canada-agreement/united-states-mexico.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR – SEPTEMBER 19, 2018

Dear Friends,

This blog post will go into detail about the Section 301 China IP case and the September 17th decision to impose the 10 TO 25% tariffs against an additional $200 billion in imports from China, the Product Exclusion process for tariffs on the $16 billion, the growing orbit of US antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) cases, and more exclusions n the Section 201 Solar case.  Will then comment briefly on the NAFTA, Europe negotiations and the new AD case against Mattresses from China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

OCTOBER 9TH SPEECH HOUSTON TEXAS TRUMP & US CHINA TRADE WAR

On October 9, 2018, I will be speaking at a Trade and Intellectual Property symposium at the Petroleum Club in Houston Texas.  The specific topic of my speech will be Current Topics Regarding Trump/China, Trade War Or Trade Agreements, Fact & Fiction.

Attached is information about the speech and the Symposium.  9_8 HOUSTON IP Symposium Invite If anyone is interested, please feel free to contact me.

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR AND THE SECTION 301 CASE – 10% TARIFFS ON $200 BILLION EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 24TH

On September 17th, President Trump announced his decision to impose a 10% tariff on the third list of $200 billion in imports from China effective September 24, 2018.  On January 1, 2019, the 10% tariff will rise to 25%.  The list of items on the $200 billion list subject to the 25% tariff is attached. Tariff List_09.17.18 in $200 billion

With regard to the third $200 billion list in the Section 301 case, in August there were five days of hearings with over 300 US companies and over 9,000 companies and groups of companies filed written comments by September 6, 2018.  Those comments were to try and persuade USTR to exclude certain tariff categories from the list of subject tariff items.  Product exclusion requests are filed after the USTR issues its determination to try and get specific products out of the tariff line item subject to the 25% tariff.

By September 6th, we filed numerous comments for importers and groups of importers of products ranging from wood doors and cabinets to aluminum curtain wall and paper gift bags.  In many instances, there is no production of these specific items in the United States.

In the attached Presidential Proclamation, PRESIDENTIAL DECISION $200 BILLION, President Trump stated:

“Today, following seven weeks of public notice, hearings, and extensive opportunities for comment, I directed the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to proceed with placing additional tariffs on roughly $200 billion of imports from China. The tariffs will take effect on September 24, 2018 and be set at a level of 10 percent until the end of the year. On January 1, the tariffs will rise to 25 percent. Further, if China takes retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries, we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports.

We are taking this action today as a result of the Section 301 process that the USTR has been leading for more than 12 months. After a thorough study, the USTR concluded that China is engaged in numerous unfair policies and practices relating to United States technology and intellectual property – such as forcing United States companies to transfer technology to Chinese counterparts. These practices plainly constitute a grave threat to the long-term health and prosperity of the United States economy.

For months, we have urged China to change these unfair practices, and give fair and reciprocal treatment to American companies. We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices. To counter China’s unfair practices, on June 15, I announced that the United States would impose tariffs of 25 percent on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.

China, however, still refuses to change its practices – and indeed recently imposed new tariffs in an effort to hurt the United States economy.

As President, it is my duty to protect the interests of working men and women, farmers, ranchers, businesses, and our country itself. My Administration will not remain idle when those interests are under attack.

China has had many opportunities to fully address our concerns. Once again, I urge China’s leaders to take swift action to end their country’s unfair trade practices. Hopefully, this trade situation will be resolved, in the end, by myself and President Xi of China, for whom I have great respect and affection.

The core issue in this Section 301 is Intellectual Property (“IP”) and forced technology transfer of IP to Chinese companies.  As USTR states in the attached press release, USTR PRESS RELEASE:

Washington, DC – As part of the United States’ continuing response to China’s theft of American intellectual property and forced transfer of American technology, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released a list of approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that will be subject to additional tariffs. In accordance with the direction of President Trump, the additional tariffs will be effective starting September 24, 2018, and initially will be in the amount of 10 percent. Starting January 1, 2019, the level of the additional tariffs will increase to 25 percent.

The list contains 5,745 full or partial lines of the original 6,031 tariff lines that were on a proposed list of Chinese imports announced on July 10, 2018. Changes to the proposed list were made after USTR and the interagency Section 301 Committee sought and received comments over a six-week period and  . . . as a result, determined to fully or partially remove 297 tariff lines from the original proposed list. Included among the products removed from the proposed list are certain consumer electronics products such as smart watches and Bluetooth devices; certain chemical inputs for manufactured goods, textiles and agriculture; certain health and safety products such as bicycle helmets, and child safety furniture such as car seats and playpens.

The USTR cited to the attached original March 2018 Section 301 report, USTR FULL 301 REPORT CHINA TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, and then went on to describe the core issues in the Section 301 case stating:

Specifically, the Section 301 investigation revealed:

China uses joint venture requirements, foreign investment restrictions, and administrative review and licensing processes to require or pressure technology transfer from U.S. companies.

China deprives U.S. companies of the ability to set market-based terms in licensing and other technology-related negotiations.

China directs and unfairly facilitates the systematic investment in, and acquisition of, U.S. companies and assets to generate large-scale technology transfer.

China conducts and supports cyber intrusions into U.S. commercial computer networks to gain unauthorized access to commercially valuable business information.

After separate notice and comment proceedings, in June and August USTR released two lists of Chinese imports, with a combined annual trade value of approximately $50 billion, with the goal of obtaining the elimination of China’s harmful acts, policies and practices. Unfortunately, China has been unwilling to change its policies involving the unfair acquisition of U.S. technology and intellectual property. Instead, China responded to the United States’ tariff action by taking further steps to harm U.S. workers and businesses. In these circumstances, the President has directed the U.S. Trade Representative to increase the level of trade covered by the additional duties in order to obtain elimination of China’s unfair policies. The Administration will continue to encourage China to allow for fair trade with the United States.

CHINESE GOVERNMENT RETALIATES

Although the Presidential Proclamation and the decision to raise the tariff to 25% on January 1st would appear to pressure China to the negotiating table, that is not what happened. As one senior Chinese official recently stated, “China is not going to negotiate with a gun pointed to its head.”

In response to the tariffs on the $200 billion, on September 18th the Chinese government predictably retaliated and imposed tariffs on $60 billion in imports from the US, risking an escalation of the trade war by Trump.  China announced 5 to 10% tariffs effective September 24th on $60 billion in imports from the US ranging from imports of farm products and machinery to chemicals.

On September 18th, anticipating the China response, President Trump warned in a tweet:

“China has been taking advantage of the United States on Trade for many years. They also know that I am the one that knows how to stop it. There will be great and fast economic retaliation against China if our farmers, ranchers and/or industrial workers are targeted!”

BACKGROUND OF THE 301 CASE AND PRODUCT EXCLUSION REQUEST FOR THE $16 BILLION

With regards to the Section 301 case, to date in the Section 301 IP case, USTR has issued 25% tariffs on imports of $50 billion from China.  The first $34 billion went into effect in June 20, 2018, FIRST SET OF $34 BILLION.  USTR issued its determination in the second $16 billion, target list, in the Section 301 case on August 7th and made the tariffs effective August 23rd , PRODUCTS ON $16 BILLION LIST

On September 18th USTR in the attached notice, EXCLUSION REQUEST 16 BLLION FED REG NOTIICE, set up a product exclusion process for the $16 billion.  The due date for products exclusion requests is December 18th.  Thus, for products on Lists 1, $34 billion, and 2, $16 billion, and eventually 3, $200 billion, companies will have a second chance to exclude individual products out of the target lists in the product exclusion process.

USTR’s first round of comments were focused more on excluding specific tariff subheadings from the target list, while this second round of requests gives parties a second chance to explain why their specific particular products should be excluded from the tariffs.  The List 1 product exclusion requests are due by October 9, 2018, 301 EXCLUSIONS FED REG NOTICE.  The List 2 product exclusion requests are due by December 18th.  The products and deadlines for the List 3 product exclusion requests have not been established yet.

List 1 Exclusion Process

Exclusion Request Conditions

USTR will accept requests from all interested US persons, including trade associations. Exclusion requests must identify a “particular” product with supporting data and rationale for an exclusion. Interested persons seeking an exclusion for multiple products must also submit a separate request for each particular product.

Factors for USTR Consideration in Granting Exclusion Requests

In granting an exclusion request on a product-by-product basis, USTR will consider whether the product is available from a source outside of China, whether the additional tariffs would cause severe economic harm to the requestor or other U.S. interests, and whether the particular product is strategically important or related to Chinese industrial programs including “Made in China 2025.”  USTR is unlikely to grant any exclusion requests that undermine the objective of the Section 301 investigation.

USTR will consider each request on a product-by-product basis.  Exclusions will be granted on a product basis, meaning any individual exclusion should apply to all imports of that particular product (not just to products imported by the requestor).

            Exclusion Request Schedule for List 2. 

The USTR notice for list 2 provides:

  • Product exclusion requests are to be filed by no later than December 18, 2018.
  • Following public posting of the filed request (in docket number USTR–2018–0032 on www.regulations.gov) the public will have 14 days to file responses to the product exclusion.
  • At the close of the 14-day response period, any replies responses are due within 7-days.
  • Any exclusions granted will be effective for one year upon the publication of the exclusion determination in the Federal Register, and will apply retroactively to August 23, 2018.

            The schedule for product exclusion requests for the $200 billion in List 3 will be similar to the schedule for Lists 1 and 2.

Making Exclusion Requests – Requirements

The USTR notice provides that each request must address the specific factors set out in the bullet-point summaries listed below.  See the Product Exclusion Process and Criteria, EXCLUSION REQUEST 16 BLLION FED REG NOTIICE.

  • Identification of the particular product in terms of the physical characteristics (e.g., dimensions, material composition, or other characteristics) that distinguish it from other products within the covered 8-digit subheading.  USTR will not consider requests that identify the product at issue in terms of the identity of the producer, importer, ultimate consumer, actual use or chief use, or trademarks or tradenames.  USTR will not consider requests that identify the product using criteria that cannot be made available to the public.
  • Interested persons seeking to exclude two or more products must submit a separate request for each.
  • The 10 digit subheading of the HTSUS applicable to the particular product requested for exclusion.
  • Requesters also may submit information on the ability of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to administer the exclusion.
  • Requesters must provide the annual quantity and value of the Chinese-origin product that the requester purchased in each of the last three years. If precise annual quantity and value information are not available, USTR will accept an estimate with justification.

Exclusion requests should address the following factors:

  • Whether the particular product is available only from China.  In addressing this factor, requesters should address specifically whether the particular product and/or a comparable product is available from sources in the United States and/or in third countries.
  • Whether the imposition of additional duties on the particular product would cause severe economic harm to the requester or other U.S. interests.
  • Whether the particular product is strategically important or related to “Made in China 2025” or other Chinese industrial programs.
  • Requesters may also provide any other information or data that they consider relevant to an evaluation of the request.

All exclusion requests must be accompanied by a certification that the information submitted is complete and correct.  USTR strongly encourages interested persons to submit exclusion requests on its attached prepared request form to simplify exclusion request filings.

Products that are not produced or cannot be adequately supplied by domestic producers would have a better chance at exclusion.  Domestic producers have a chance to oppose any exclusion requests and likely would challenge any exclusion request for Chinese products that are competing with their products.

HOW DOES CHINA KILL THIS TRADE WAR? 

The Chinese government complains that it does not know which government official will make the final decision on any US China trade deal.

When looking at the Section 301 negotiations between the US and China, despite the recent move by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, the key officials in the decision making are President Donald Trump and USTR Robert Lighthizer.  Lighthizer is the United States Trade Representative, and the Section 301 case was started by USTR so final decisions will be made by Trump and Lighthizer.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin may be able to advise, but another Trump official who will also have influence is Larry Kudlow, the National Economic Council Director and a President Reagan free trader.  Kudlow stated on September 17th on MSNBC that President Trump has “not been satisfied” with trade talks with China and confirmed the U.S. was preparing additional tariffs because Beijing’s economic reforms were moving in the wrong direction.

CHINA HAS NOT MADE A PROPOSAL TO DEAL WITH THE CORE 301 ISSUES—IP AND FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

But even if the Trump Administration had given a clear policy direction as to its ultimate targets in trade negotiations, apparently to date China has not given the US any indication that it will address the U.S. core complaints on the theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfers.  Without concrete proposals from the Chinese government on these two core issues, there will be no Section 301 agreement.  Simple buying missions from the Chinese government are not going to solve this deep trade crisis.

The Chinese government complains that the United States is trying to “contain” China and prevent its rise. The real issue, however, is that the US is trying to “isolate” China by teaming up with a number of different countries, including the EC, Australia, Mexico, Canada and Japan, when it comes to stealing the intellectual property of foreign companies and forcing foreign companies to turn over technology to Chinese companies and the Chinese government.

In response, one Chinese friend has told me, “The issue is China government cannot do that! That is the core for getting China Strong!”

If the Chinese government cannot give up stealing the IP of foreign companies to make China strong, the Chinese government should expect to become very isolated and to risk ostracism by the international community.

On the other hand, Trump cannot expect the Chinese government to change its entire economic system for the US.  But the Chinese government has to keep in mind that its economic system could create other problems.

Reports are that the US, Japan and the EC have held meetings aimed at dealing with China with a potential target of pushing China out of the WTO.  When China entered the WTO, Premier Zhu Rongji was in charge of the economy and pushing China to become a market economy country.  That was over 15 years ago.

After Premier Zhu retired, however, China slipped backwards, and that backward movement has accelerated under President Xi Jinping into more of a State-Ownership, State Control of the economy.  The problem is that other countries in the WTO are market economy countries.  The purpose of the countervailing duty law is that private companies should not have to compete against governments.  But if the Chinese government has decided to take over the economy and funnel money directly into companies to compete against private foreign companies, that obviously is a problem for many market economy countries, including the EC and the US.

In a September 18th editorial in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Imperialism Will Be Dangerous for China”, Walter Russell Mead, a well -known academic and opinion writer, spoke in detail about the problems China faces by its own expansionist Imperialistic policy and the fact that the well-known Communist Lenin identified China’s problem long ago:

“China’s real problem isn’t the so-called Thucydides trap, which holds that a rising power like China must clash with an established power like the U.S., the way ancient Athens clashed with Sparta. It was Lenin, not Thucydides, who foresaw the challenge the People’s Republic is now facing: He called it imperialism and said it led to economic collapse and war.

Lenin defined imperialism as a capitalist country’s attempt to find markets and investment opportunities abroad when its domestic economy is awash with excess capital and production capacity. Unless capitalist powers can keep finding new markets abroad to soak up the surplus, Lenin theorized, they would face an economic implosion, throwing millions out of work, bankrupting thousands of companies and wrecking their financial systems. This would unleash revolutionary forces threatening their regimes.

Under these circumstances, there was only one choice: expansion. In the “Age of Imperialism” of the 19th and early-20th centuries, European powers sought to acquire colonies or dependencies where they could market surplus goods and invest surplus capital in massive infrastructure projects.

Ironically, this is exactly where “communist” China stands today. Its home market is glutted by excess manufacturing and construction capacity created through decades of subsidies and runaway lending. Increasingly, neither North America, Europe nor Japan is willing or able to purchase the steel, aluminum and concrete China creates. Nor can China’s massively oversized infrastructure industry find enough projects to keep it busy. Its rulers have responded by attempting to create a “soft” empire in Asia and Africa through the Belt and Road Initiative.

Many analysts hoped that when China’s economy matured, the country would come to look more like the U.S., Europe and Japan. A large, affluent middle class would buy enough goods and services to keep industry humming. A government welfare state would ease the transition to a middle-class society.

That future is now out of reach, key Chinese officials seem to believe. Too many powerful interest groups have too much of a stake in the status quo for Beijing’s policy makers to force wrenching changes on the Chinese economy. But absent major reforms, the danger of a serious economic shock is growing.

The Belt and Road Initiative was designed to sustain continued expansion in the absence of serious economic reform. Chinese merchants, bankers and diplomats combed the developing world for markets and infrastructure projects to keep China Inc. solvent. In a 2014 article in the South China Morning Post, a Chinese official said one objective of the BRI is the “transfer of overcapacity overseas.” Call it “imperialism with Chinese characteristics.”

But as Lenin observed a century ago, the attempt to export overcapacity to avoid chaos at home can lead to conflict abroad. He predicted rival empires would clash over markets, but other dynamics also make this strategy hazardous. Nationalist politicians resist “development” projects that saddle their countries with huge debts to the imperialist power. As a result, imperialism is a road to ruin. . . .

Meanwhile, China’s mercantilist trade policies-the subsidies, the intellectual-property theft, and the coordinated national efforts to identify new target industries and make China dominant in them-are keeping Europe and Japan in Washington’s embrace despite their dislike of President Trump.

China’s chief problem isn’t U.S. resistance to its rise. It is that the internal dynamics of its economic system force its rulers to choose between putting China through a wrenching and destabilizing economic adjustment, or else pursuing an expansionist development policy that will lead to conflict and isolation abroad. Lenin thought that capitalist countries in China’s position were doomed to a series of wars and revolutions.

Fortunately, Lenin was wrong. Seventy years of Western history since World War II show that with the right economic policies, a mix of rising purchasing power and international economic integration can transcend the imperialist dynamics of the 19th and early 20th centuries. But unless China can learn from those examples, it will remain caught in the “Lenin trap” in which its strategy for continued domestic stability produces an ever more powerful anti-China coalition around the world.

HUGE SEA CHANGE IN US CHINA TRADE RELATIONS

This is a very different time than any in 30 plus years of US China trade relations.  From this 301 experience, am watching a Tsunami, a huge wave, of change as many, many US importers in the Section 301 $200 billion case are moving to source products in other countries. Products ranging from wood cabinets, wood doors, aluminum curtain wall, paper gift bags, gift wrapping, household thermometers, and quartz surface products.  All of these importers are looking at second sources of supply so as to move out of China.  US importers pay these duties, not the Chinese companies.

Moreover, Chinese companies are also moving to third countries to produce products targeted by trade cases and the Section 301 target lists.  We represented several Chinese companies in a Citric Acid from Thailand AD and CVD case.  In that case, all the Chinese companies moved to Thailand to get out of the cross hairs of a US AD case against Citric Acid from China.

Thailand has many benefits for Chinese companies.  Under US AD and CVD law, Thailand is considered a market economy country, which mean Commerce must use actual prices and costs in Thailand to calculate AD rates.  In that case, therefore, the AD rates for the Chinese companies in Thailand ranged from only 6 to 15%.  In addition, and much to everyone’s surprise Commerce made a negative determination in the CVD case finding that all the subsidies were 0 or de minimis for the Chinese companies in Thailand.

Also in contrast to China, to date Thailand is a GSP country so US importers do not have to pay normal US Customs duties on imports of products from China, which can be in the 6.5% range.

With the raging US China trade war, all of these benefits are going to push more Chinese companies to leave China and move to a third country.  The AD order on Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China resulted in a large part of the Chinese furniture industry moving to Vietnam.  Now Vietnam exports more furniture than China.

Recently, JP Morgan issued a report predicting that if the US China trade war continues, the trade battle will cost at least 700,000 jobs.  If the trade war becomes protracted, the job loss could be as high as 5.5 million jobs.  See https://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/the-trade-war-will-likely-cost-china-700000-jobs-jpmorgan-says.

The point is that truthfully, the Chinese government needs to step up and settle this trade war quickly and put a concrete proposal on the table to deal with the IP and forced technology transfer issue.

Trump is not going to back down.  On September 17th, Trump stated in a tweet:

“Tariffs have put the US in a very strong bargaining position with Billions of Jobs and Dollars flowing into our Country and yet cost increases have thus far been almost unnoticeable.  If Countries will not make fair deals with us, they will be “Tariffed”

In this situation, China needs to take the first step because it has the most to lose.  One friend of mine who knows China well believes that the Chinese government will not settle, but that China is moving to a massive recession similar to Japan’s lost decade.  That lost decade cost the Japanese economy and its people, trillions of dollars.

Moreover, the Chinese government should be careful to not fall into the Japanese trap.  Just before the lost decade, many, many Japanese companies moved out of Japan to foreign countries to get around trade orders on products, such as automobiles, televisions, and auto parts.  This led to the “hollowing out” of the Japanese industry.

This would be very big problem for China becasue it has 1.3 billion people and needs to keep its citizens employed.  Rising unemployment because of the hollowing out of the Chinese industry would put the Chinese government in a very difficult situation.

THE EVER EXPANDING ORBIT OF ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AGAINST CHINA

IMPORTERS BEWARE — EXPANDING THE SCOPE AND RETROACTIVE LIABILITY IN AD AND CVD CASES TO COVER DOWNSTREAM PRODUCTS AND IMPORTS FROM THIRD COUNTRIES, INCLUDING CANADA

If a US company imports products from China or other countries, which are or maybe covered by an antidumping or countervailing duty order, the importer must be very careful and cannot ignore the situation.  Two recent examples are the Commerce Department’s decision to expand antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders on hardwood plywood to cover ready to assemble cabinets sold to the construction industry and the problem of third country/Canadian imports.

WOODEN CABINETS AND HARDWOOD PLYWOOD ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY ORDERS

On September 10, 2018, the Commerce Department issued its final scope ruling on Ready To Assemble (“RTA”) Cabinets in the Hardwood Plywood AD and CVD case.  In that attached decision, DOC FINAL SCOPE DETERMINATION, Commerce decided that the exclusion for RTA cabinets only applied to cabinets sold to the ultimate end user, the consumer, and not RTA cabinets sold to contractors, which install them in high rise buildings.  In effect, Commerce expanded the AD and CVD orders to cover RTA cabinets sold to the construction industry, which many importers thought had been excluded by language in the AD and CVD orders.

In its decision, Commerce made two important points:

“The RTA kitchen cabinet exclusion does not expressly address the manner in which RTA kitchen cabinets must be packaged to be suitable for purchase nor expressly define the term “end-user.” Nevertheless, the exclusion’s unambiguous requirements necessitate that, to qualify for the exclusion, RTA kitchen cabinets must be packaged in a single package suitable for purchase by a retail consumer. The plain language of the scope requires that the RTA kitchen cabinets be “packaged for sale for ultimate purchase by an end-user” and requires that the RTA kitchen cabinets be packaged with “instructions providing guidance on the assembly of a finished unit of cabinetry.” We find that, together, these requirements make clear that the end-user is a retail consumer, as retail consumers are the end users that would require instructions for assembling a finished unit of cabinetry. . . .

We disagree with the U.S. Importers’, Chinese Exporters’, and IKEA’s argument that the requestors’ scope ruling asks Commerce to redefine plywood to include wooden furniture and furniture parts. The petitioners made clear during the investigations that furniture was not covered by their proposed scope for these investigations. This scope ruling does not expand the scope but, rather, clarifies that, to qualify for the RTA kitchen cabinet exclusion, the RTA kitchen cabinet must meet the requirements of the exclusion, and the requirements necessitate that the RTA kitchen cabinet components be in a single package suitable for purchase by an end- use retail consumer.”

Many US importers fought hard against the motion by Hardwood Plywood Petitioners and Master Brands to narrow the exclusion to cover only cabinets sold to retail customers.  But this decision now exposes the US importers of RTA cabinets to millions of dollars in retroactive liability for AD and CVD duties.

Although there are strategies to deal with this problem, including an appeal to the Court of International Trade and other procedures for dealing with this problem, the US cabinet importer that sticks its head in the sand is going to wake up one morning with an enormous bill from the US government.  Old Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared”

IMPORTS FROM CANADA AND THIRD COUNTRIES COVERED BY AN AD AND CVD ORDER ON CHINESE PRODUCTS

We have been involved in several review investigations involving products from China, which are covered by an AD and CVD Order, where the target has been a third country exporter, including a Canadian exporter.  We have seen situations where a Chinese exporter/producer company of a product believes it did not export anything to the US during the review period.

Based on import data into the US, however, the Commerce Department determined that the small Chinese company was a mandatory respondent and had to spend 10s of thousands of dollars responding to the entire Commerce questionnaire and be subject to verification in the case.

The problem was although the Chinese company sold nothing to the US, it did sell to Canada.  Apparently, the Canadian customer then sold the products to the US without realizing that the products would be hit with antidumping and countervailing duties.

Under the US AD and CVD law, sales made by the Chinese company, which are imported into the US, are only considered the sales of the Chinese company if the Chinese company knew at the time it sold the product to a third country that it was destined for the US.  This can be a problem for customers in third countries, including Canada, Hong Kong, and other countries.

In those situations, where the Chinese company sold a product to a third country, such as Canada, where the Chinese company did not know the product was destined to the US, which company is the respondent in the AD and CVD case?  The answer is the third country exporter, which, in effect, has become a “reseller” in the case.  Third country resellers are respondents and can get their own rates in AD and CVD cases against China.

But the problem in a review investigation for a third country reseller, including a Canadian company and its US importer, is that since the Chinese company made no direct sales to the United States, it will probably give up and not participate in the AD and CVD review investigation.  But the US importer of the products from Canada, which can often be a company affiliated with the Canadian company, will find itself owing substantial AD and CVD duties to the US government.  In one situation, we talked to a Canadian company that had to shut down its entire US operations because they exported chemical products from Canada to the US that were covered by US AD and CVD orders.  All of a sudden, the US subsidiary was hit with millions of dollars in retroactive liability because of an AD and CVD case.

US importers that import and Canadian and third country resellers that export products originally from China, which are covered or could be covered by US AD and CVD orders, cannot afford to be complacent and ignore the situation.  The companies must be proactive, or they could wake up one morning and find themselves liable for millions in dollars in retroactive AD and CVD duties.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

MORE EXCLUSIONS SECTION 201 SOLAR CASE

On September 19, 2018, USTR excluded more Solar Products from the Section 201 Solar case.  In the attached Federal Register notice, USTR NOTICE EXCLUDING PRODUCTS FROM 201 CASE, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) excluded the following solar products from the Section 201 solar case.  The relevant parts of the notice are:

Exclusions  From  the  Safeguard  Measure

USTR has considered certain requests for exclusion of particular products  and  determined  that  exclusion  of  the  CSPV  products  described in  subdivisions  (c)(iii)(7)  through  (c)(iii)(14)  of  U.S.  note 18  to subchapter  III  of  chapter  99  of  the  HTS,  as  amended  in  the  Annex  to this  notice,  from  the  safeguard  measure  established  in  Proclamation 9693  would  not  undermine  the  objectives  of  the  safeguard  measure.

Therefore, USTR finds  that  these  CSPV  products  should  be  excluded  from the  safeguard  measure.  Accordingly,  under  the  authority  vested  in  the Trade  Representative  by  Proclamation  9693,  the  Trade  Representative modifies  the  HTS  provisions  created  by  the  Annex  to  Proclamation  9693 as set forth in the Annex to this notice. . . .

Annex

The  following  provisions  supersede  those  currently  in  the  HTS  and are  effective  with  respect  to  articles  entered,  or  withdrawn  from  a warehouse  for  consumption,  on  or  after  12:01  a.m.,  EST,  on  September 19,  2018.  The  HTS  is  modified  as  follows:

U.S.  note  18  to  subchapter  III  of  chapter  99  of  the  HTS  is modified:

By  inserting  the  following  new  subdivisions  in  numerical sequence at the end of subdivision (c)(iii):

“(7)  off-grid,  45  watt  or  less  solar  panels,  each  with  length  not exceeding  950  mm  and  width  of  100  mm  or  more  but  not  over  255  mm,  with a  surface  area  of  2,500  cm\2\  or  less,  with  a  pressure-laminated tempered  glass  cover  at  the  time  of  entry  but  not  a  frame,  electrical cables or connectors, or an internal battery;

  1. 4 watt  or  less  solar  panels,  each  with  a  length  or  diameter  of 70  mm  or  more  but  not  over  235  mm,  with  a  surface  area  not  exceeding 539  cm\2\,  and  not  exceeding  16  volts,  provided  that  no  such  panel  with these characteristics shall contain an internal battery or external computer  peripheral  ports  at  the  time  of  entry;
  1. solar panels  with  a  maximum  rated  power  of  equal  to  or  less than  60  watts,  having  the  following  characteristics,  provided  that  no such  panel  with  those  characteristics  shall  contain  an  internal  battery or  external  computer  peripheral  ports  at  the  time  of  entry:  (A)  Length of  not  more  than  482  mm  and  width  of  not  more  than  635  mm  or  (B)  a total  surface  area  not  exceeding  3,061  cm\2\;
  2. flexible and semi-flexible  off-grid  solar  panels  designed  for use  with  motor  vehicles  and  boats,  where  the  panels  range  in  rated wattage  from  10  to  120  watts,  inclusive;
  3.    frameless solar  panels  in  a  color  other  than  black  or  blue with  a  total  power  output  of  90  watts  or  less  where  the  panels  have  a uniform  surface  without  visible  solar  cells  or  busbars;
  1.     solar cells  with  a  maximum  rated  power  between  3.4  and  6.7 watts,  inclusive,  having  the  following  characteristics:  (A)  A  cell surface  area  between  154  cm\2\  and  260  cm\2\,  inclusive,  (B)  no  visible busbars  or  gridlines  on  the  front  of  the  cell,  and  (C)  more  than  100 interdigitated fingers of tin-coated solid copper adhered to the back of  the  cell,  with  the  copper  portion  of  the  metal  fingers  having  a thickness  of  greater  than  0.01  mm;
  2. solar panels  with  a  maximum  rated  power  between  320  and  500 watts,  inclusive,  having  the  following  characteristics:  (A)  Length between  1,556  mm  and  2,070  mm  inclusive,  and  width  between  1,014  mm  and 1,075  mm,  inclusive,  (B)  where  the  solar  cells  comprising  the  panel have  no  visible  busbars  or  gridlines  on  the  front  of  the  cells,  and  (C) the  solar  cells  comprising  the  panel  have  more  than  100  interdigitated fingers of tin-coated solid copper adhered to the back of the cells, with  the  copper  portion  of  the  metal  fingers  having  thickness  greater than  0.01  mm;

14.      modules  (as  defined  in  note  18(g)  to  this  subchapter) incorporating  only  CSPV  cells  that  are  products  of  the  United  States and not incorporating any CSPV cells that are the product of any other country.”

NEW NAFTA NEGOTIATONS—THE CANADIAN DAIRY PROBLEM

The NAFTA negotiations between Mexico and the US have primarily wrapped up, but the question now is whether Canada will be willing to join the party.  The key issue is dairy and the 275% tariff on US dairy products to Canada.

Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajard has stated that negotiators need at least 10 days to put together “what’s going to be presented in any of the scenarios.” That means Thursday, Sept. 20 could be the last day for Canadian and American officials to announce a preliminary deal that offers enough time for the technical teams to prepare the text.

U.S. officials are demanding that Canada make major concessions on dairy and the tariffs on US dairy exports to Canada.  Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal Party wants to maintain its allies in Ontario and Quebec where the powerful dairy industry is concentrated. Trump, who is watching the midterms closely, wants to increase support from the farmers, particularly from the hard-hit dairy sector.  So the question is which country will blink first.

NEW EUROPEAN TRADE AGREEMENT

After discussions in Brussels and Washington, both sides know there are major differences over trade policy on cars and farming — meaning a large trans-Atlantic trade deal will have to wait. Instead, in the near-term negotiators will focus on regulatory cooperation on topics such as car blinkers, cosmetics, insurance and driverless vehicles.

USTR Lighthizer is pushing to “finalize outcomes” with the EU by November, as Trump wants a success story for the pending elections. The EU equally wants to create goodwill that will stop Trump from following through on his repeated threats to slap higher tariffs on European cars.

Susan Danger, the Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU, said that “one school of thought” for how to move forward is “to do things piecemeal and address the low-hanging fruit.”

The China angle: Strategically, Lighthizer and Republican senators like Lindsey Graham want a swift deal with the Europeans so as to team up with the EU against the bigger mutual target in the trade area: China.

NEW ANTIDUMPING CASE

MATTRESSES FROM CHINA

On September 18th, 2018, Corsicana Mattress Company, Elite Comfort Solutions, Future Foam Inc., FXI, Inc., Innocor, Inc., Kolcraft Enterprises Inc., Leggett & Platt, Incorporated, Serta Simmons Bedding, LLC, and Tempur Sealy International, Inc. filed a new antidumping case against Mattresses from China.

If anyone has any questions about the 301 process, antidumping or countervailing duty law or other trade issues, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR – TRUMP TRADE CRISIS – PRINCIPLES TO REMEMBER WHEN ANALYZING TRUMP’S TRADE ATTACKS

White House Washington DC

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR — JUNE  30, 2018

Dear Friends,

Have had a difficult time writing this blog post because Trump’s trade policy has been so difficult to figure out.  Watching all these trade actions is like watching a pinball machine.

This first article will be an overview setting certain principles to keep in mind when analyzing Trump’s trade policy.  This article will then be followed by a series of articles on each specific trade action.

This overview article, however, will concentrate on answering some questions.  First, is there a method to Trump’s trade madness?  (Shakespeare Quote Hamlet)  What are the principles driving Trump’s trade policy?  What is President Trump’s problem with the WTO?  Will President Trump lose the midterms because of his trade policy and the collateral damage on downstream steel and aluminum users and the retaliation impact on US agriculture industry?

There are so many major trade actions going on, all creating real winners and true losers in the US economy that it is difficult to see a pattern.  This many trade actions also stretch the resources of the US government.  USTR Lighthizer is involved in intense NAFTA negotiations with Canada and Mexico, which are complicated by the demands of agriculture, but also negotiations with China and numerous other countries.  President Trump does not pick his battles, but apparently risks trade attacks against every country and the resulting retaliation.

Finally, although not a fan of Trump, on June 28, 2018, Julian Zelizer, a CNN political analyst, stated that Democrats have “badly underestimated Trump”:

While Congress and the courts have significant power when it comes to checking legislative initiatives from the Oval Office, a president who is intent on dismantling policies — such as stripping away regulations or withdrawing from international agreements — can get a lot done if he or she is determined.  . . .

The possibility for President Trump to seriously transform American policy keeps growing and the potential for a two-term presidency can no longer be dismissed.

See https://www.cnn.com/2018/06/28/opinions/democrats-badly-underestimated-trump-zelizer/index.html.

Trump’s impact on trade policy cannot be underestimated.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

MYRIAD US TRADE ATTACKS, RETALIATION BY TRADE PARTNERS AGAINST US EXPORTS, G-7 DEBACLE AND THE TRADE ATTACKS ON CHINA—IS THERE A METHOD TO PRESIDENT TRUMP’S TRADE MADNESSS?

SEVERAL POINTS TO CONSIDER

STRONG ECONOMY AND TRADE DEFICIT

To understand Trump’s trade policy, one should start with several simple facts.   First, the US economy is roaring with the lowest unemployment rate in decades and the lowest Black and Hispanic unemployment rates in history.

Second, in 2017 the US Trade Deficit in goods with the World was $810 billion, almost a trillion dollars.  The US trade deficit in goods with China in 2017 was $375 billion, EC $151 billion, Mexico $70 billion and Canada $17 billion.

Trump firmly believes that the US cannot follow the same trade path because the US simply cannot afford it.  Recently, President Trump stated that the United States will no longer do stupid trade, but smart trade and in trade the US will no longer be the world’s piggy bank.

One of Trump’s key promises in the election was that he would fix the trade problem. That is why President Trump tore up the Trans Pacific Partnership and announced the renegotiation of NAFTA.  President Trump keeps his campaign promises.

Trump also probably believes that the US economy is strong enough so that he can risk tough trade talks and even a trade war if necessary.  But can the US economy withstand a world trade war on so many different fronts?

SO MANY TRADE ACTIONS

In spring it looked like Trump would negotiate separate trade deals with Mexico, Canada and EU to stop retaliation in the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases.  In June, the risk of a global trade war increases with the breakdown in negotiations and actual tariffs and retaliation against US exports in the Section 232 cases, the threat of tariffs on $50 billion to $250 billion on Chinese imports in the Section 301 Intellectual Property case, NAFTA negotiations??, ZTE Mess, and the breakdown on trade in the G-7 talks in Canada.  EC, Canada, Mexico, China, India and numerous other countries have implemented retaliation lists against US exports because of the Section 232 tariffs.

Trump also is about to release another attack with a Section 232 case on automobiles, even though all the US automobile companies oppose the case.

Trump is demanding fair and reciprocal trade, not stupid trade.  See June 20, 2018 Trump speech in Minnesota at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ao4SdNUG4X8.

THE SPEED OF TRUMP AND THE OBAMA LESSON

But there are several other issues at work here.  Sebastian Gorka, formerly with the Trump White House and a Fox News commentator, often talks about “the speed of Trump”.

Some back history here.  Rahm Emanuel, President Obama’s former Chief of Staff, made a point that a crisis should not be wasted stating, “You never let a serious crisis go to waste. And what I mean by that it’s an opportunity to do things you think you could not do before.”

But if one looks back on the Obama Presidency, many crises were let go to waste.  In the first two years of his Presidency, Obama had a majority in the House of Representatives and a filibuster proof 60 Democratic majority in the Senate.  But very few new legislative bills were enacted into law.

During that first two years, Democratic Senators and Congressmen warned President Obama that he had to do something to increase jobs.  But Obama decided to concentrate on healthcare for all.

Then before the first midterms, Obama lost the Ted Kennedy Senator seat to Republican Scott Brown, who promised to stop the push for Obamacare.  Because the Republicans now had 41 Senators, if the Republicans stayed strong, Obamacare could not be passed in Congress as regular legislation.  Then in the first midterms in November 2009 President Obama lost the House of Representatives, which went Republican.

So, President Obama and the Democrats in the Senate pushed through Obamacare on Christmas Eve, December 24, 2009, late at night using the reconciliation process, which required only 51 votes.  This was important because once the new Congressional term were to begin in 2010 the Democrats no longer had a majority in the House of Representatives.

Although President Obama won reelection in 2012, in the second midterms in 2014, Obama lost the Senate.  Now facing a Republican House and Senate, President Obama was forced to rely on a pen and phone to move his policy through.

But since Obama relied on a pen and a phone, the next President Trump could undo the vast majority of Obama’s policies with his own pen and phone.  That is just what President Trump has done.  Regulations have been cut enormously in the Trump Administration.  President Obama’s legacy is in tatters, in part, because President Obama did not use his time wisely.

In effect, the Obama record was a teachable moment for Donald Trump.  Trump knows that he may only have 2 years with a House and Senate majority so he has to move swiftly to do deals and make change. Trump has moved swiftly to undo Obama’s policies and legislate his own policy.

That may be the reason Trump is risking a trade war with the World.  Trump is hoping that in the first midterms he can do better than President Obama and hold the House and gain seats in the Senate, but that is a hope and not a sure thing.

In his book Art of the Deal, Trump stated that if you are going to do anything, do it big, which brings us to several more points.

TRUMP FEARS NOTHING AND LIKES CHAOS

The Washington Post recently published an op-ed entitled, “You can smell Trump’s fear”, but that commentator has completely misread Donald Trump. On June 19th, despite the constant drumbeat of attacks of separating children at the border, attacks on trade, and numerous other issues, Trump was cool and calm at a speech to the National Federation of Independent Businesses.  See https://youtu.be/ZiSnXNfbQ7k.

Am reminded about the famous statement of a Union soldier who watched General Ulysses Grant at the Battle of the Wilderness writing orders with shells exploding all around him: “Ulysses don’t scare worth a damn!”  Donald Trump does not scare worth a damn.

Trump also likes chaos and he creates the chaos by often taking a new look at established positions.  He reframes and resets issues, starts discussions from an entirely new point of view.

Substantial change to Federal policy, however, means that many oxen will be gored, the status quo will be changed, and entrenched interests do not like change.  Trump, however, apparently likes to ride the back of the chaos tiger.

On June 10, 2018, Jim Hanson, President of Security Studies Group, in an article on Fox News entitled “Trump’s willingness to walk away at the G7 and North Korea summits shows his foreign policy is working,” stated:

“This brings us to the biggest wild card President Trump brings to the world stage: he is a change agent. It would even be fair to say he creates chaos and misdirection – and then looks for an advantage. This drives many of his critics to distraction.

But when you are dealing with longstanding problems and well-entrenched interests, metaphorically knocking over a few apple carts or a conference table or two can break that deadlock. . . .

Peace through strength and fair trade are an excellent one-two punch and they work well together.  . . . The Trump administration has a plan and it is working successfully around the world.”

Although Trump is not afraid, he is concerned, and his one concern right now is the impact of his own trade policy on his base, including manufacturing and agriculture.

THE WTO PROBLEM—THE MFN PRINCIPLE BLOCKS RECIPROCITY

Recently it was reported that Trump has stated privately that he wants to withdraw from the World Trade Organization (“WTO”).  Trump cannot do this, however, without Congressional approval.

Trump has also made clear that he wants his trade policy to be reciprocal.  In other words, US tariff rates should mirror the tariff rates of other countries.  But there is a problem with that position—The WTO and its bedrock Most Favored Nation principle.

Once a country, such as China, becomes an “MFN” country, the United States cannot treat China “less advantageously than any other country with MFN status”.

This MFN principle puts low tariff countries, such as the US, at a major disadvantage in trade negotiations.  If China has a tariff of 30% on car imports, the US cannot raise its tariff on China car imports to 30%, because its car tariff for the rest of the World is 2%.  Since China is an MFN country, Trump must charge China the same tariff as it has with other countries.

One exception to the MFN principle is Free Trade Agreements (“FTA”), but if a country, such as the United States, already has low tariffs to encourage free trade, it is at a major disadvantage because it must reduce tariffs further or make some other concession in a FTA to get tariff reductions from other countries.

The MFN principle, however, is why President Trump has looked for other ways to raise tariffs on specific countries, such as the Section 232 National Security cases and the Section 301 intellectual property case against China.

AMERICANS ARE COMING AROUND TO TRUMP’S ECONOMIC TRADE NATIONALISM

Because of the enormous trade deficit in goods, Trump has succeeded in persuading many Americans that the US weakness on trade has put the US at an unfair trade disadvantage.

On June 11th, it was reported that a Quinnipiac University Poll found that a majority of swing voters, 55 percent, support tariffs on Chinese imports.  80 percent of Republican voters support Trump’s trade actions to date.

Because of Trump, the average American is learning about the many trade barriers to US exports.  Trump’s call is for reciprocity.

Why should Canadians put tariffs of over 275% on US dairy products?

Why should British Columbia put up what amounts to an 80% tariff, the highest tariff in the World, on US wine to protect large British Columbia wine producers? Both the dairy and wine problems make President Trump’s point that NAFTA is not a FTA, but a FFTA, a Fake Free Trade Agreement.

Why should Europe have higher tariffs on US cars of more than 10% when US tariffs are only 2%?

Why should China get away with charging much higher tariffs on US exports and have policies to force US companies to give up their technology?

All of these issues are causing public opinion in the US to turn away from free trade. Many American voters, American free trade periodicals, Republican and Democratic politicians are coming around to Trump’ tough trade position.

G-7 TALKS

At the G-7 talks in early June, President Trump stared down Chancellor Merkel and others on trade and slammed Prime Minister Trudeau for his criticism of the US after Trump left the talks.  See photo at https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jun/10/angela-merkel-photo-donald-trump-diplomacy.  The photograph of the Merkel Trump stare down speaks volumes.

After the breakdown of the G-7 talks on trade, Trump sent out a tweet stating:

“Fair trade is now to be called fool trade if it is not reciprocal.  Not fair to the people of America! $800 billion trade deficit.  Why should I, as president of the United State, allow countries to continue to make massive trade surpluses, as they have for decades, while our farmers, workers & taxpayers have such a big and unfair price to pay?”

During the G-7 talks, Trump stated to reporters that the US would no longer accept “ridiculous and unacceptable” tariffs imposed by other countries on US exports and threatened to “stop trading” with nations that would not lower their tariffs.

Trump further stated: “We’re like the piggy bank that everybody’s robbing – and that ends,”

In a speech on June 25th in South Carolina, Trump described the G-7 dust up with Canada in detail.  See speech on youtube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eyf8Uie16tE.

On June 12, 2018, Investors Business Daily, a free trade periodical, which has opposed Trump on trade, stated in an editorial entitled “G-7 President Trump Didn’t Sign G7’s Leftist Agenda – Smart Move”:

“President Trump created a quite a stir among the other Western leaders by refusing to sign the “communique” that capped the G7 summit. But he was right to do so. . . .That’s particularly true of trade.

The summit communique, for instance, exhorts G7 members to “reduce tariff barriers, non-tariff barriers and subsidies.”

A reasonable goal, most economists would agree. The G7 leaders get angry at Trump because he believes that current trade deals, while good on some levels, actually are unfair to the U.S.  . . .

But what did Trump say at his press conference as he left the fruitless G7 confab . . . .?

“You want a tariff-free (trade system), you want no barriers, and you want no subsidies because you have some cases where countries are subsidizing industries, and that’s not fair,” Trump said, elaborating his own ideas about trade . . . . “So you go tariff-free, you go barrier-free, you go subsidy-free.”

Sounds pretty free trade to us. The fact that he questions current trade deals doesn’t signal a hatred of free trade. It does show a disdain for deals that pretend to be free trade but are really government managed trade. Often to the U.S.’ detriment. .  . .”

WILL TRUMP LOSE THE MIDTERMS BECAUSE OF HIS TRADE POLICY?

On November 6, 2018, voters in the midterms will vote based on many issues, including immigration, taxes or simply firmly held beliefs of never Trump or pro-Trump.  But in contrast to many past elections, trade policy will be an important because of the impact on Trump’s base.  Trade and the collateral damage caused by the Trump trade policy could be the fly in the ointment of Trump ‘s desire to hold the Republican Congress.

President Trump on June 28th spoke at the opening of the new FoxConn Plant in Wisconsin, in part, because of his concern about the impact of trade retaliation on Wisconsin farmers.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HhihQ52gyc8.

COLLATERAL DAMAGE—STEEL ALUMINUM USERS AND FARM BELT

In March 2018, President Trump and the Commerce Department in the Section 232 cases levied 25% tariff on Steel imports and 10% tariff on Aluminum imports.  Originally the EC, Canada and Mexico were to be exempted from the tariffs if trade deals were negotiated with the US.  No trade deals were negotiated.

On May 1st, President Trump imposed the tariffs against the three countries and predictably all three countries retaliated by levying billions in dollars in tariffs on US exports.  The tariffs and counter tariffs will be described in an upcoming article.  In the Section 232 cases alone, 10,000 exclusion requests have been filed by US steel and aluminum users, and the Commerce Department has only addressed a hundred from 18 different companies.

The retaliation by trade partners, including Canada, EC, Japan, India, Mexico and China, is already taking its toll on US farmers.  In contrast to the rest of the US economy, farm incomes are down.

STEEL AND ALUMINUM USERS

Downstream steel/aluminum users are now being deeply hurt by the Section 232 tariffs.  Many users have to compete in the downstream export markets, and they cannot compete if US prices for the steel and aluminum inputs are significantly higher than world market prices.

One indicator of the injury to the downstream industries is the many trade cases filed in the last year by injured US industries against downstream steel products including: Steel Propane Cylinders, Steel Racks, Stainless Steel Flanges, Forged Steel Fittings, Certain Steel Wheels, Certain Tool Chests and Cabinets, Carbon Steel Flanges, and Certain Carbon Closing Staples.

The Section 232 tariffs are forcing companies, such as Harley Davidson, the well-known motorcycle producer, to move some of its production offshore, and threatens the very existence of the largest US steel nail producer, Mid-Continent Nail, because it is a downstream steel user.

AUTOMOBILES 232 CASE

In contrast to Section 232 Steel case which the US Steel Industry supported, the US automobile industry opposes the Section 232 on automobiles.  On June 29th, General Motors filed comments, General_Motors 232 Autos Comments, and state in part:

“increased import tariffs could lead to a smaller GM, a reduced presence at home and abroad for this iconic American company, and risk less—not more—U.S. jobs. . . .

Combined with the other trade actions currently being pursued by the U.S. Government—namely the 232 Steel and Aluminum tariffs and the Section 301 tariffs against Chinese imports—the threat of additional tariffs on automobile imports could be detrimental to our company . . . .”

What used to be good for General Motors was good for the US economy.  But now President Trump and Secretary Ross think they know better.

AGRICULTURE

Trade is not a Republican or a Democratic issue.  It is a regional issue.  As part of his base, Trump has the manufacturing states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, the Rust Belt, which has been badly injured by imports from China and other countries.  The Rust Belt does not want more trade agreements.  The Blue Collar working class in the Rust Belt were a major reason Trump won the Presidency.

But Trump’s other constituency is the rural agriculture states, including Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota to name a few, all of which are dependent on exports. In contrast to other parts of the US economy, farm incomes are falling and have not increased in 15 years.  On June 26th CBS New Money Watch reported that according to the CDC, farmers are committing suicide in “staggering numbers”, a higher rate than other occupational groups.

IOWA IS HOLDING OUT FOR TRUMP

Iowa is ground zero for the farm vote.  On June 25, 2018, in an article entitled “’We’re riding a tiger’: The Iowa GOP bets it all on Trump– The president’s trade war could cripple the state, but Republicans trust in him as negotiator- in-chief” Politico reported:

“Donald Trump’s trade war with China could cost Iowa farmers hundreds of millions of dollars and do untold damage to the state economy.

But you’d never know it from talking to Republicans at the recent state GOP convention here. When Iowa Republican Party Chairman Jeff Kaufmann asked more than 1,100 delegates a defining question — who was still behind President Donald Trump? — there was no hesitation. In an exuberant display of unity, more than 1,100 delegates sprang to their feet, whistling, cheering and offering prolonged applause. . . .

The Republicans’ patience with their president amid an escalating trade war is as remarkable as it is politically perilous in an agricultural swing state that has historically held a deep disdain for trade meddling.
On June 15, Trump announced 25 percent tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods and China promised to exact retaliatory tariffs, including on a key Iowa export: soybeans. . . .

With nearly $2 billion in soybean exports to China, [Iowa] has the largest exposure to the tariffs of any state in the nation . . .

GOP leaders are convinced Trump will deliver a better deal for Iowa in the end . . . .
None of it guarantees Trump will be able to replicate his 2016 victory here. A White House policy that’s viewed as hostile to farmers could precipitate a backlash from the dozens of rural counties that swung for Trump in 2016 after previously backing Barack Obama. Those are the kinds of counties Trump needs to win states like Iowa and Wisconsin in 2020. . . . .

Even the most loyal of Republicans acknowledged that volatility surrounding trade issues could scramble the state’s political equation.

“As of right now, I’d say we’re supportive of him trying to make free trade freer. We’re willing to stick with him through the negotiation,” Kaufmann said. “If nothing has changed, and we’re in an all-out trade war, and it’s six to eight months from now and you ask me this question, I may have a different answer.”

CONCLUSION

Will trade voters stick with Trump because they know something has to be done because the trade deficits are too big?  $800 billion simply is not sustainable.

But Trump has a limited amount of time.  As we get closer to the midterms, if Trump has nothing to show on trade, including trade agreements, and only retaliation and injured manufacturers and farmers, there will be hell to pay.  So, Trump has a chance to make major changes in the trade area, but he cannot blow the chance and waste the crisis.  That Obama mistake is one that Trump cannot afford to make.

Now the burden is on USTR Robert Lighthizer and Secretary Wilbur Ross at Commerce to negotiate and finalize trade agreements.

If anyone has any questions about these cases or about the Trump Trade Crisis, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–US China Trade War Update–Trump’s Tweets and Xi’s Speech Calm the Trade War WatersTRADE WAR EXPANDS WITH US THREATENING TARIFFS $150 BILLION IN CHINESE IMPORTS, SECTION 301, SECTION 232 STEEL AND ALUMINUM CASES, DAMAGE TO US AG STATES and US CHINA TRADE WAR RISKY CHICKEN GAME

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE APRIL 10, 2018

Dear Friends,

This is an update to the first blog post, which gave an overview of the Trump Trade War.

President Trump’s tweets on April 8th and 10th and most importantly President Xi’s April 10th speech did a lot to calm the nerves of investors in the US and China that no trade war was imminent.  President Xi in his April 10, 2018 speech at the BOAN Conference in Hainan pledged to open China further to imports and to investment and to protect the intellectual property rights (“IPR”) of foreign companies.

Now in response to the Section 301 case, we can expect a round of intense negotiations between the US and China until November 18, 2018 to see if President Xi’s promises can be put into writing and the threats of a trade war averted.  Although President Xi pledged to move the reform process expeditiously, the Section 301 case has external deadlines.  After the May 15th hearing and final comments on May 22nd, there are still 180 days, 6 months, or until November 18, 2018 before the US takes action under Section 301.

Section 301 are usually settled with trade agreements so the question is what will China agree to and what will be in the Agreement.

Most importantly, the hope is that this Section 301 action can also help solve the Steel and Aluminum crisis in the Section 232 case as part of these negotiations so that China will lift its $3 billion in retaliation on US imports, which has already been put in place.  That is a hope of many US farmers.

My next update will describe the exclusion process in detail in the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases, the Section 201 Solar case and the procedures going forward in the Section 301 IP China case.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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PRESIDENT XI’S SPEECH AND PRESIDENT TRUMP’S TWEETS HELP CALM THE TRADE WATERS AND HOPEFULLY AVERT A TRADE WAR

As the potential for a US China full blown trade war appeared to escalate last week with increasing rhetoric from both sides, cooler heads appeared to prevail as both sides stepped back from the brink.

On April 8, 2018, over the weekend and before the President Xi April 10th speech, President Trump appeared to step back and tone down his rhetoric with regards to China.  Trump specifically tweeted:

“4/8/18, 5:12 AM

President Xi and I will always be friends, no matter what happens with our dispute on trade. China will take down its Trade Barriers because it is the right thing to do. Taxes will become Reciprocal & a deal will be made on Intellectual Property. Great future for both countries!”

Very smartly, President Trump decided not to attack China or the Chinese people and that did a lot to calm the waters and provoke a positive reaction from China.  As President Xi stated in his April 10th speech, “With the future in mind, we need to treat each other with respect and as equals.”

After President Xi’s speech, President Trump tweeted on April 10th:

“4/10/18, 10:51 AM

Very thankful for President Xi of China’s kind words on tariffs and automobile barriers…also, his enlightenment on intellectual property and technology transfers. We will make great progress together!”

In effect, all the US anti-trade rhetoric had created a crisis atmosphere and the question is how China would react.  President Xi’s speech helped the US walk back the rhetoric in preparation for negotiations.  Although Trump maybe a good negotiator, the other side still has to come to the table.

Thus, Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speech on April 10th speech at the Boao forum in Hainan, China was extremely important to clear the rhetoric away in preparation for negotiations.  The Boao forum is an annual forum of Asian government and business leaders in Hainan.  In that speech, although not referring to Trump trade action by name, President Xi responded by pledging to open China more to foreign investment and imports and to substantially increase protection for intellectual property held by foreign companies.

One can see the entire April 10th President Xi speech at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KgUcL4rdpI0.

President Xi’ made clear in the speech his support for global development cooperation and peace.  He stated that only peaceful development and cooperation can bring a win-win situation.  He also stated that China has no choice but to pursue development and connectivity, and that reform and innovation are keys to human development.  President Xi emphasized that countries have to treat each other with respect and as equals.

President Xi described China as a socialist country with Chinese characteristics, not a Communist country. President Xi stated that China will not threaten anyone else or the international system.  It is determined to build World Peace and global prosperity.

President Xi also stated that China is committed to its strategy of opening up China, and China will stay open and will open up even further.  President Xi stated that greater openness will move economic globalization further so as to benefit people.

President Xi also pledged to take concrete action and measures to significantly broaden market access in the financial area, insurance, and other areas.  Xi specifically mentioned easing equity restrictions in the automobiles area.

President Xi pledged stronger IP protection and to protect IPR of foreign companies and to expand imports.  He also stated that China does not seek a trade surplus but a balance of payments and that China will significantly lower imports tariffs for autos and other products.  Xi specifically stated:

“With regard to all those major initiatives I have just announced, we have every intention to translate them into reality sooner rather than later.  We want the outcomes of our opening up efforts to deliver benefits as soon as possible to all enterprises and people in China and around the world.”

President Xi also stated:

“Openness versus isolation and progress versus retrogression, humanity has a major choice to make.  In a world aspiring for peace and development, the Cold War mentality and zero‐sum mentality look even more out of place.”

Xi called for “a new approach to state‐to‐state relations, featuring dialogue rather than confrontation and partnership instead of alliance.”

Xi further stated that China will create “a more attractive investment environment. Investment is like air and only fresh air attracts more investment from the outside.”

With regards to intellectual property, President Xi stated:

“Stronger IPR protection is the requirement of foreign enterprises, and even more so of Chinese enterprises.  We encourage normal technological exchanges and cooperation between Chinese and foreign enterprises, and protect the lawful IPR owned by foreign enterprises in China.”

The real question now will be implementation, and China will no longer have the luxury of taking as much time as it wants to make these reforms because the Section 301 clock is ticking.  After the May 22nd final comments at USTR, pursuant to the Section 301 statute, the Trump Administration has another 180 days or six months or until November 18, 2018 before it takes action and imposes tariffs on the $50 billion in imports.

Most Section 301 cases end up with a negotiated settlement so we should expect the same end game in this case with intense negotiations by both sides.

If anyone has any questions about these cases or about the Trump Trade Crisis, Section 301 IP Case against China, Section 201 Solar Case, Section 232 case on Steel, Aluminum or Uranium or US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR APRIL 7, 2018

Dear Friends,

This is the first of two blog posts.  The first blog post gives an overview of the Trump Trade War/Crisis with the World and specifically with China.  The second blog post will get into the details and the complexities of the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases, the Section 301 China Intellectual Property (“IP”) case and the Section 201 Solar Cells case.  But this trade war is getting bigger and bigger.

Having just returned from a month in Europe on March 26th, I wanted to put together another blog post, but every day there has been another significant trade development.  While in Europe, I was thinking that my next blog post would be entitled “Trump’s World Trade War”. Had the Trump Administration taken a World Trade War too lightly?

But after I returned from Europe, the narrative changed as country after country negotiated country exemptions out of the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum Tariffs.

But then on April 1st the Chinese government issued a $3 billion retaliation list aimed at US imports in response to the Section 232 tariffs, much of it agricultural products.  On April 3rd. the Trump Administration announced $50 billion in potential tariffs on Chinese imports in the Section 301 case.  See attached Presidential Proclamation and 301 Fed Reg Notice with US retaliation list, FED REG NOTICE 301 PLUS PROPOSED US RETALIATION LIST FED REG PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION 301 CHINA  The Chinese government immediately reacted with its own attached list of $50 billion in tariffs on US imports into China.  China-301-Retaliation-List-Chinese-and-English.  Both lists will be described in more detail in my second blog post. Both lists cover many, many different products from agricultural products to machinery, automobiles and airplanes.

On April 5th, in response to China’s $50 billion in retaliation, President Trump proposed and USTR Lighthizer agreed on another $100 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports.  $150 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports completely offsets the $130 billion in US exports to China.  The US and China are now involved in a game of trade war chicken.  Who will blink first?

So the new title of the newsletter below is “Trump’s World Trade War?? Maybe Not.  Now Definitely Yes”  But as Shakespeare stated in Hamlet, maybe there is a method to Trump’s madness.  Trump appeared to be ready to start a World Trade War at the beginning of March, but at the end of March, Trump appeared much more interested in using the threat of high tariffs to get a better trade deal to open up foreign markets.  Tariffs give Trump leverage in trade deals.

But then the trade war started to escalate with China as both sides created retaliation lists.  The only shining light in this trade conflict is that the $150 billion tariffs will not take place right away.  There will be a hearing in May to determine which imports to target and then the actual decision implementing the US tariffs will be months away.

The Chinese government will also not implement the $50 billion in threatened tariffs until it sees what the Trump Administration does. Meanwhile there will be intense negotiations between the US and Chinese governments.

Two readers have criticized me for not focusing enough in past blog posts on the trade deficits with China and high tariffs China puts on US exports.  US exports in 2017 were $2.4 trillion, $1.6 trillion in goods and the impact of a trade war on US companies and jobs is becoming very clear.  With regards to China, the United States exported $130.369 billion to China in 2017, imported $505.597 billion in 2017 leaving a trade deficit of $375.227 billion.  Concentrating only on trade deficits, however, ignores the very large amounts exported by the United States to the World and China.

But the real question is strategy.  Trump’s strategy apparently is to use the threat of high tariffs on imports from China and other countries to extract better trade deals which lower duties on and barriers to US exports.  As indicated below, USTR Lighthizer’s strategy, in part, is based on the belief that China has not kept its promises.  The Chinese government negotiates, but does not live up to its deal so only a true threat of big trade retaliation will force China to change its practices when it comes to intellectual property and mercantilism.  if the strategy works, more power to President Trump.

But, sovereign countries may not react the same way as private businesses.  Sovereign countries are very aware of face and whether the US Government respects the other country.  If President Trump pushes too hard, he risks so angering the other country, that no trade deal can be negotiated.  See the movie the Gathering Storm when Winston Churchill asked his British constituents on a subway train whether his government should negotiate a peace treaty with Hitler.  The answer was never!!

More importantly, because of the real negative economic impact Trump’s trade policy has already had on farm states, which is a core constituency and part of Donald Trump s base, Trump should know that he truly has bet the House/his Presidency on his trade deals.  If his trade strategy does not work, the economic damage his policy will do on his constituency will badly damage Republicans in the mid-terms and he probably will be a one term President.  Going into the midterms, Republican Senator Grassley from Iowa, which has been hit hard by Trump’s trade policy, has stated that Trump will own any harm caused by his trade strategy and any retaliation caused by it.  Senator Grassley should know because Iowa is changing from a state that was firmly in the Republican camp and pro-Trump to a now battleground state.

The objective of this blog has been to warn about the perils of protectionism.  I do not want to exaggerate the situation.  If Trump’s strategy works and he gets better trade deals, he will be in a very good situation.  But if the trade deals go south, especially with China, Trump’s core constituents will be badly hurt in a trade war by retaliation and there will be election hell to pay.  Trade is becoming Trump’s Obamacare lightening rod.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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TRUMP’S WORLD TRADE WAR?? MAYBE NOT.  NOW DEFINITELY YES.

On February 27th, USTR Robert Lighthizer on the Laura Ingraham show on Fox News stated that it was ridiculous to think that the United States was going to get into a trade war with China.  On April 6th, in light of Trump’s decision to impose another $100 billion in tariffs on China’s imports in response to China’s threatened $50 billion on US exports, Lighthizer’s statement is simply ridiculous.  The United States has a full-blown trade war with China.  Lighthizer’s original statement, however, indicates that he may have underestimated the response of other countries to his trade demands.

At the start of March, it certainly appeared that the Trump Administration had started a trade war not only with China, but with the entire world.  In effect, the United States apparently had created a World Trade War. With tough trade NAFTA negotiations with Mexico and Canada, Europe issuing its own retaliation list in response to the Section 232 Aluminum and Steel Tariffs along with very tough tariffs for China and long retaliation lists aimed at US exports, it certainly looked like a World Trade War.

As I visited many cities in Germany, including Berlin, my fear was that the Trump Administration, like Germany, was taking a trade “war” too lightly. On March 2, 2017, President Trump tweeted:

“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”

President Trump apparently was referring to a $100 billion bilateral trade deficit with a certain country, but it was not clear which one. In 2017, the U.S. ran a global goods deficit of $810 billion. The largest bilateral trade deficit was $375 billion with China.  But in 2017 total US exports were $2.4 trillion with $1.6 trillion being goods.  Agricultural products amounted to only $137 billion, the rest were manufactured goods.

This tweet followed the announcement to impose broad tariffs  of 25% on steel imports, and 10% on aluminum imports pursuant to the Section 232 cases.  On March 16th, the EC issued its own attached retaliation list, TWO EU RETALIATION LISTS.

In response, on March 2, 2018, the Wall Street Journal (“WSJ”) in an article entitled, “Trade Wars Are Good, Trump Tweets,” immediately criticized Trump’s trade action along with many economists and others, stating:

That is what most economists would call a classic “trade war,” which Investopedia defines as “a negative side effect of protectionism that occurs when Country A raises tariffs on Country B’s imports in retaliation for Country B raising tariffs on Country A’s imports.”

Most economists and policy makers consider trade wars unpredictable, destabilizing and damaging, the most notorious example being the cycle of tit-for-tat retaliation intensified by the 1930 American Smoot-Hawley law that aggravated the Great Depression.

At a March 21st hearing in the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, USTR Lighthizer gave a measured step by step argument on the Section 232 Tariffs and the Section 301 China IP Case against China to explain Trump’s trade strategy.  To see the two hour plus hearing before Ways and Means, see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxqNWw5PObk.

On March 22nd, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appeared before the House Ways and Means Committee to defend the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum tariffs.  Many Representatives expressed substantial concern about the retaliation against different US exports products, such as agricultural products, and the impact on downstream steel users.  To see this long hearing with Wilbur Ross, click on the following link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vylt-NTsT8I.

Upon my return from Europe, on March 26th, the situation appeared to change with a number of countries, including Canada, Mexico, South Korea, the EC, Argentina and Brazil, negotiating final or temporary trade agreements with the US in the Section 232 cases to get country wide exemptions.  See attached Section 232 Fed Reg notice outling exemptions for countries and for products, which can be filed by US end user companies. EXCLUSION FED REG STEEL AND ALUMINUM.  The exemptions for Canada and Mexico are only good depending upon the results of the NAFTA negotiations.  The EC, Brazil and Argentina exemptions are only good until early May when hopefully final agreements will be negotiated.  This was apparently part of USTR Lighthizer’s strategy before tackling China.  See below.

With regards to South Korea, in the final agreement, in exchange for a country wide exemption from the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum tariffs, it agreed to limit its steel exports to 70% of the average steel exports over the last three years and also open up its own market slightly to more auto imports from the US.  Since South Korea is the third largest steel exporter to the US, that reduction does mean that there will be less steel in the US market.

But then the trade war started to escalate again, especially with China.  On April 1st, China announced it was levying tariffs on 128 different US imports into China totaling $3 billion in response to the Section 232 tariffs on Steel and Aluminum.  China also took its case to the WTO and stated that since there are no negotiations, it can levy those tariffs now.  See the attached $3 billion Chinese retaliation list, SECTION 232 CHINA LIST RETALIATION TARGETS, which has already been imposed on US imports into China.

On April 3rd, pursuant to the Section 301 case on Intellectual Property, the Trump Administration announced its threatened $50 billion-dollar tariff list to offset the intellectual property allegedly stolen by China every year.  See attached list and Presidential Proclamation, FED REG PRESIDENTIAL DETERMINATION 301 CHINA FED REG NOTICE 301 PLUS PROPOSED US RETALIATION LIST.  Immediately, China announced its own attached $50 billion retaliation list on tariffs to be imposed on US imports, China-301-Retaliation-List-Chinese-and-English, if Trump follows through on his threat.

On April 5th, in response to the Chinese $50 billlion retaliation list, President Trump asked the USTR to add another $100 billion on the $50 billion already proposed against China.  The April 5th exchange between the President and USTR Lighthizer are attached.  TRUMP STATEMENT 100 BILLION LIGHTHIZER RESPONSE.  On April 6th, China said it would respond, but $150 billion is more than total US exports to China of $130 billion.

US proposes, China retaliates, the US raises the anti.  China responds.  This is a true trade war and exactly what the Wall Street Journal and others have predicted.

The only good point is that neither list has been implemented yet and as described below in more detail, the actual implementation of the tariffs is probably months away.

TRUMP HAS BET THE HOUSE/HIS PRESIDENCY ON BETTER TRADE DEALS

In his book, the Art of the Deal, Donald Trump states at page 222:

“USE YOUR LEVERAGE

The worst thing you can possibly do in a deal is seem desperate to make it.  That makes the other guy smell blood, and then you’re dead.  The best thing you can do is deal from strength, and leverage is the biggest strength you can have.  Leverage is having something the other guy wants.  Or better yet, needs.  Or best of all, simply can’t do without.”

Trump has made it clear that he wants tariffs.  Through the Section 232 process and the Section 301 IP Case against China, Trump got his tariffs and his leverage.  Now the question is what is Trump’s trade strategy.

On March 10th, in a Pennsylvania speech after the announcement of the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum, President Trump stated with regards to trade:

European Union. . . They kill us on trade… They have trade barriers.  We can’t even sell our farming goods.   . . . Then they say we want those tariffs [aluminum and steel] taken off.  We are going to tax Mercedes Benz, BMW.  . . .You want money to come into our country.   . . . We are like $100 billion down with the European Union.  We had stupid politicians doing stupid things.  Think of $100 billion.  I’ve already had $71 billion Mexico, $130 billion.  That is a real number.  The deal was bad the day they made it.  Mexico charges a 16% tax nobody talks about.  I talk about it.  We are either going to renegotiate NAFTA – and I say we won’t put the tariffs on Mexico and Canada.  Canada is brutal.  We have a deficit with Canada.  They send in timber, steel a lot of things.  Our farmers in Wisconsin are not treated well when we want to send things to them.

I don’t blame them.  Why should I blame them?  They outsmarted our politicians for decades.  I don’t mean Obama.  I mean all of them since Bush the first.  That includes a lot of territory.  Ronald Regan. . . Not great on trade.

We used to be a nation of tariffs.  Countries had to pay for the privilege of taking our product, our jobs.  They had to pay.  They want to sell their products.  They had to pay.  Today in China.  They sell a car to the US they pay 2.5%.  We sell a car in China, which is almost impossible to do, it is probably . … 25%.  That is why we have a trade deficit with China.  It is not good.  We are changing it.  It takes a while. . .

We have a trade deficit with countries of the world…of almost $800 billion.  Who makes these deals?  . . . It is more than Obama.  Plenty of Presidents allow that to happen.  We are going to get a lot of things straightened out.  NAFTA is under work right now.

Now they are going to be very good. . .If you make a decent deal for the American people, we will have no problem with tariffs.  I said ..  something to the European Union. Look you are killing us.  We are losing $100 billion a year…You are not accepting our product.  I want to help the farmers . . .

You hear the European Union.  It sounds innocent.  It is not innocent.  They are very tough and smart.  They sell stuff into us and we … charge them practically nothing.  We sell things into them, you can’t get through the barriers.  They have artificial barriers.  It is not monetary, environmental.  They come up with things you would not believe.  We can’t get our product in there.  I said open up your barriers.  Get rid of your tariffs and we will do this. . .  We have a lot of work to do.

That is the Trump strategy.  Raise tariffs and if necessary raise tariffs again and then use those tariffs as leverage to get a better trade deal.  But what if the other country does not cooperate and puts out its own retaliation list?  That is the risk of Trump’s trade policy; the economic situation in Trump country, especially in the agriculture states, turns down.

To see a more optimistic prediction of the Trump trade strategy, see this April 4th interchange between Neil Cavuto on Fox Business with Larry Kudlow, now Trump’s new economic advisor, stating that deals will be worked out.  See https://www.mediaite.com/tv/cavuto-battles-kudlow-in-tense-standoff-you-dont-sound-like-the-larry-kudlow-i-respected-and-admired/.

Meanwhile, on April 5th the Commerce Department reported that in February 2018, the US trade deficit rose to $57.6 billion, 9½%, to its highest level in almost 10 years, although the trade deficit with China narrowed sharply falling 18.6% to $29.3 billion.  In February US exports of goods increased 2.3% to $137.2 billion, but goods imports jumped 1.6% to $214.2 billion.

On April 4th, Mark Zandl, chief economist at Moody’s Analytics, predicted that Trump’s trade policy to date has cost 190,000 jobs.

THE DOWNSIDE OF TRUMP’S TRADE WAR STRATEGY–AGRICULTURE

But in the agriculture states, a hard rain is going to fall and is falling.  Just from the initial attached $3 billion-dollar list, which has gone into effect, agriculture has been the top target. SECTION 232 CHINA LIST RETALIATION TARGETS. Agriculture experts expect that the soybeans, sorghum, beef, pork, wheat, corn and cotton are all on the target lists for both cases.  For most of these farm products, US farmers export billions to China.

Attached is list from Washington State indicating the potential indirect impact to the state of the $50 billion in tariffs, which may go into effect. China 301 retaliation by Value US China-301-Retaliation-List-Chinese-and-English.  Attached is another spreadsheet of the actual impact on Washington State of the $3 billion in tariffs in effect now in response to the steel and aluminum tariffs, WASHINGTON STATE China 232 FINAL retaliatin list and Washington exports.  The total is over $150 million in Washington State exports, including cherries ($100 million), Aluminum Scrap ($49 million), Apples ($17.6 million) and wine ($1.4 million).

On April 5, 2018, in an article entitled “What a Trade Fight Would Mean For Trump Country”, the Washington Examiner looked at the downside of the Trump trade war and attacks on other countries.  Farmers are getting smashed and they are a core Trump constituency.  As the Washington Examiner states:

President Trump’s hardball tactics to extract trade concessions from China could crush communities that fuel his political support, with Republicans in Congress paying the price in November.

A Brookings Institution analysis revealed that a U.S.-China trade war would impact agriculture and manufacturing and could disproportionately cost working class jobs in counties Trump carried in the 2016 election. Of the 2,783 counties affected, the president won 2,279; compared to just 449 that went for Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Nearly 1.1 million jobs in Trump country are tied to trade with China, according to the Brookings study. Voters there, supportive of the president’s agenda and long eager for the U.S. to combat Beijing’s unfair trade practices, might give the administration latitude to negotiate better terms.

But if the confrontation escalates and the economy suffers, congressional Republicans could shoulder the blame. Already facing a challenging re-election environment, they count a growing economy among their few advantages. They have minimal time to weather any storm and, unlike Trump, can’t rely on the loyalty of the GOP base.

“This could have a huge, negative impact in the midterms — and beyond — if the trade tit for tat continues,” Dave Carney, a veteran Republican strategist based in New Hampshire, said. Although, he added: “If the president gets concessions and jobs continue to grow and most importantly voters give him credit for that victory, then things will improve for his party.”

The Brookings Institution, a centrist think tank in Washington, examined industries and jobs that would be affected by a trade war with China based on the threats being lobbed back and forth since Trump began moving in March to crack down on Beijing. . . .

Nothing concrete has actually happened, yet. Wall Street, and top executives at corporations who stand to lose business, are operating under the assumption that a deal will be reached before the saber-rattling evolves into an extended showdown. . . .

The agriculture industry, the economic backbone of many rural communities in the heartland, is less sanguine and isn’t waiting for negotiations between Washington and Beijing to falter to sound the alarm. In a press release, the American Soybean Association said “Chinese Retaliation is No Longer a ‘What If’ for Soybean Farmers.”

Soybean farmers export 60 percent of their crop, about $14 billion worth annually, to China. ASA Vice President Davie Stephens, a soybean farmer in Clinton, Ky., said he awoke Wednesday morning to a 30-40 cent per bushel drop in the price of soybeans, which appeared related to the increased specter of a trade war.

“Farmers are worried,” Stephens said in a telephone conversation. “My local community would feel the impact.”

Trump at times has been bellicose in his rhetoric, vowing that he would do whatever is necessary to force China to treat U.S. imports fairly. “When you’re already $500 Billion DOWN, you can’t lose,” he tweeted. But the administration in general sought to calm nerves, with top officials insisting that Trump is intent on avoiding a major spat with Beijing.

“You know, there are carrots and sticks in life, but he is ultimately a free trader. He’s said that to me, he’s said it publicly. So he wants to solve this with the least amount of pain,” Larry Kudlow, the president’s chief economic adviser and an ardent free trader, told reporters.

Republicans worried about the midterm elections don’t sound reassured. Hoping to run on a $1.3 trillion tax overhaul that accelerated economic growth in the first quarter of the year and delivered massive tax cuts, Republicans have seen their economic message usurped by Trump’s proposed tariffs.

Worse, Republicans fear that an unintended trade war might erase the economic gains they’re depending on to buttress the party against political headwinds that threaten to wipe out their majorities in the House and Senate. As Brookings discovered, more than 2.1 million jobs could be adversely affected by a confrontation with China, including almost 1 million in the 449 Clinton counties.

That’s because China’s potential retaliatory targets include white-collar industries such as pharmaceuticals and aerospace. House Republicans are defending 23 districts won by Clinton 17 months ago, and trade war aftershocks that rumble through Clinton counties could add to GOP woes in the affected red seats.

Working-class voters might not fret too much about stock market volatility attributed to Trump’s trade policies. But it could push the white collar set right into the arms of the Democrats, especially in educated, upscale suburbs that typically vote Republican but are drifting, because of dissatisfaction with the president’s polarizing leadership.

“If I were a Democrat, what I would be running up Trump’s ass is how these shenanigans are DESTROYING values in 401ks and college savings plans,” a GOP strategist said. “Most people don’t know a cashew farmer or whiskey distiller but do worry about their own retirement account and paying for college.”

The problem for President Trump is that according to an April 5th article by Newsmax, as reported by Morning Consult, Trump’s approval rating across the 50 states has fallen to 41%.  The Rasmussen Poll shows Trump rising to 51%, but when polling is done at a state level, it is not that pretty.  In contrast to West Virginia, which shows a huge bump for Trump, Iowa dropped by 9 points, Idaho dropped by 6 points, Montana by 5 points and Oklahoma by 5 points.  These states have several things in common.  First, they are strong Republican red states and second they are agriculture states.  Iowa has been a very reliable Republican state, but is now considered a battleground state.

In addition, on February 8, 2018, the Wall Street Journal reported that in contrast to the rest of the economy, farm Incomes are falling, “Farm incomes are forecast to decline 7% to $60 billion in 2018.”

To win the midterms, these states have to stay in the Republican column.  For Trump to win the Presidency in 2020, he has to carry the farm belt.  If he loses the farm states, he loses the Presidency.

On April 5, 2018, the Wall Street Journal in article entitled “Tariff Showdown Shifts to Intense Negotiation Period,” stated:

Congress has been reluctant to do anything beyond warn the Trump administration that it risks a full-blown trade war, although behind the scenes some lawmakers, especially Republicans, want the government to find a quick solution to the tension.

“Every town hall I go to, trade or tariffs is one of the big questions. That’s what’s on their mind,” said Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) . . . . “They are starting to question the president and where we’re going with this,” she said, adding that she was going to express her concerns directly to Mr. Trump on Wednesday. “I need for him to understand that we’re hurting in the Midwest and this is not helping.”

Iowa is among the largest soybean- producing states, and the state’s other senator, Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley, noted on Wednesday that he had cautioned Mr. Trump his administration would own any harm caused by Chinese retaliation.

Emphasis added.

THE REAL PROBLEM OF A TRADE WAR WITH CHINA—THE AVERAGE AMERICAN SUPPORTS TRUMP ON THIS ACTION—CHINA STARTED IT

On the day, China announced its $50 billion retaliation list, much of which was aimed at constituents of Donald Trump, including US farmers in rural states, Rasmussen reported that Donald Trump’s popularity for the first time in its daily polling had shot to 51%.

The People’s Daily recently asked me to comment on the Section 232 and 301 trade actions against China.  As I stated in my comments, the majority of Americans, 70% in recent polls, believe that it is time to stand up to China’s trade practices.  Many Americans see Chinese trade practices as being unfair.  So the perception of trade disputes with China is very different than the perception of trade disputes with other countries, such as the EC, Mexico and Canada.  In fact, after the Chinese Government proposed $50 billion in tariffs in response to the US tariffs and Trump countered with another $100 billion in proposed tariffs, many Americans indicated strong support for President Trump.

The Chinese press indicates that many Chinese are very angry at the US and Trump, but the US Press indicates that many Americans believe that China has taken too much advantage of the US China trade relationship and strongly support President Trump.  With both the Chinese and US populations riled up, this makes it much more difficult for the Governments to step back and negotiate a settlement.

In the March 22nd Editorial, “Trump’s China Tariffs”, the Wall Street Journal, in effect, stated that China started the trade war.  Although the Wall Street Journal states that Trump’s trade policy with China is the wrong economic strategy to get it to change, the WSJ also states:

“No one should be surprised by the $60 billion in border taxes on China, given that Mr. Trump campaigned on worse. He is also responding to the genuine problem of Chinese mercantilism. China’s government steals the intellectual property of U.S. companies or forces them to turn it over, and Beijing uses regulation to discriminate against foreign firms.

This might have been tolerable when China was a smaller economy trying to reform, and the U.S. made a reasonable bet in 2001 when it let China enter the World Trade Organization. The gamble was that China would continue to reform, adapt to global trade norms, and eventually become a genuine market economy.

That hope showed early promise but has become forlorn as President Xi Jinping has pushed “national champions” like Huawei and Tencent. Facebook still can’t operate in China, and Tesla is punished with a 25% tariff on imported electric cars. The U.S. tariff on cars from China is 2.5%. China’s predatory behavior has eroded political support in the West for the very free-trade rules that have lifted hundreds of millions of Chinese out of poverty.”

Emphasis added.

But the Wall Street Journal (“WSJ”) in the same editorial warned:

“The President’s trade hawks, led by White House aide Peter Navarro, want to punish China more than they want to change its behavior. Mr. Navarro really does believe that China today is the equivalent of Germany a century ago. Mr. Trump said Thursday that this tariff action would be “the first of many.”  This is the mentality that could lead to a trade war and economic damage for everyone.  . . .”

When it comes to free trade and economics, the Wall Street Journal is the voice of reason, which many free trade Republicans in Congress listen to.

On April 6, 2018, after Trump’s announcement of another $100 billion in tariffs, the WSJ in an article entitled “The Architect of Trump’s Tough-on-China Policy” described in detail USTR Lighthizer’s strategy with regards to China:

WASHINGTON—President Donald Trump’s tough policy on China trade took shape in a White House meeting last August—and at the center was an often-overlooked man.

Decades of quiet negotiations had gotten nowhere, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told senior White House advisers and cabinet officials gathered in the Roosevelt Room.

“China is tap, tap, tapping us along,” he said, meaning it regularly promised policy changes but didn’t deliver. He punctuated his talk with charts showing how the trade deficit with Beijing had widened. . . .

U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad, linked by videophone, asked for a chance to conduct another round of talks based on a rapport he was developing with the Chinese. He found little support. It was time to act, starting with a formal investigation of China for unfair trade practices, Mr. Lighthizer argued.

A few days later, Mr. Trump announced an investigation of alleged Chinese violations of U.S. intellectual-property rights—headed by Mr. Lighthizer. It marked the start of the most dramatic and high-risk effort in decades to force the world’s second largest economy to change its behavior, which culminated this week in an order threatening to slap tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports, a move that also had Mr. Lighthizer’s imprint on it.

After China threatened tariffs on an equal amount of imports from the U.S., Mr. Trump on Thursday called that “unfair retaliation” and said he might put tariffs on a further $100 billion of Chinese imports, tripling the amount subject to them. A Chinese Commerce Ministry spokesman said on Friday Beijing ”is fully prepared to hit back forcefully and without hesitation.”

Mr. Lighthizer’s role became clear to the Chinese when the Trump economic team landed in Beijing in November for a round of discussions. Mr. Trump made sure the U.S. trade representative met with top Chinese leaders while some others waited outside.

In a session with President Xi Jinping, Mr. Lighthizer laid out how fruitless the U.S. considered past negotiations and how the president was concerned the U.S. trade deficit continued to expand. While US officials saw Mr. Lighthizer’s comments as a lawyerly argument, Chinese officials described their reaction as shocked.

Today, Mr. Lighthizer is exchanging letters with China’s senior economic envoy on measures Beijing could take to head off a trade war. Negotiations are likely to stretch over many months— an ambiguity that could rattle financial markets and lift prices on goods earmarked for tariffs. . . .

Many U.S. businesses say they are fed up with what they view as unfair Chinese subsidies to local companies, and strong-arm tactics that make them hand over technology to Chinese partners. Still, they worry U.S. threats of tariffs could backfire and leave them vulnerable to retaliation. . . .

Early in the Trump administration, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, a longtime Trump ally who had done business in China, was expected to lead China economic policy. He privately referred to Mr. Lighthizer, a former trade attorney, as his lawyer, say business executives, who took it as a slight. A Commerce official said Mr. Ross meant only that the two had worked together previously on steel issues.

Mr. Ross’s star dimmed when the president dismissed an early package of deals the commerce secretary negotiated with Beijing as little more than a repackaging of past offers, say senior White House officials. “Shut it down,” Mr. Trump told Mr. Ross in July when he stripped Mr. Ross of his China role and closed down the talks, according to senior administration officials.

Mr. Ross continues to work on China issues, including advising Mr. Lighthizer on which Chinese imports to target for tariffs, a Commerce official said.

Mr. Lighthizer, by contrast, managed to bridge a sharp divide over trade among Mr. Trump’s warring factions.

To so-called nationalists like trade aide Peter Navarro, who was itching to take on China, Mr. Lighthizer was a China hawk. Mr. Navarro is mainly an idea man, who has seen his role as making sure the White House carries out the president’s campaign pledge to stop China from “ripping us left and right.” Mr. Lighthizer runs a trade agency, plots strategy and carries it out. The two have worked together to develop on China policy, though they sometimes disagree on tactics.

To the so-called globalists such as former National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn, who worried about the impact of trade fights on markets, Mr. Lighthizer was the skilled attorney and former congressional aide who understood how Washington worked.

To Mr. Trump, Mr. Lighthizer was a kindred spirit on trade—and one who shuns the limelight. The two men, who have a similar chip-on-the-shoulder sense of humor, bonded. Mr. Lighthizer caught rides to his Florida home on Air Force One. Mr. Trump summons Mr. Lighthizer regularly to the Oval Office to discuss trade matters, administration officials say.

“Lighthizer has everyone’s trust, regardless of their views on trade,” said Kevin Hassett, the White House chief economist. . . .

Mr. Lighthizer, on the other hand, is a skilled international trade litigator, more in the mold of former U.S. Trade Representative Charlene Barshefsky, who negotiated China’s entry into the WTO. The Trump team thinks China experts have been too quick to back off in negotiations with Beijing.

By the time he took office in May, the administration was fighting internally over whether to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports globally. China policy was on the back burner.

While Mr. Lighthizer believed the metal glut was due to Chinese excess production, say administration officials, he thought a fight at that point would be self-defeating because the focus would be on U.S. tariffs, not Chinese trade and investment practices. Assessing tariffs on all steel exporters, many of which are U.S. allies, would paint the U.S. as a villain instead of China.

Rather than risk the ire of Mr. Trump, who considered steel tariffs a campaign promise, Mr. Lighthizer worked quietly with Mr. Cohn and others to get the issue set aside in favor of other priorities.

U.S. trade representatives often regard themselves as lawyers for U.S. exporters, trying to open up new markets. Mr. Lighthizer saw things differently, viewing big U.S. companies as job outsourcers that sometimes had to be reined in.

At a September meeting with about 100 CEOs organized by the Business Roundtable, he said he understood they had to maximize profits, which sometimes meant exporting jobs. “My job is different,” he told the group, according to participants. “My job is to represent the American workers. We’re going to disagree.” It was a position some in the audience found arrogant. . . .

As with his boss, bluntness is his calling card. In the mid-1980s, as a U.S. Trade Representative official who negotiated with Japan, he once grew so frustrated he took a Japanese proposal, turned it into a paper airplane and floated it back at the Japanese negotiators as a joke. In Japan, he became known as “the missile man.”

In a Senate hearing last month, when Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell of Washington said his China plans could hurt U.S. aircraft makers, he dismissed her concerns as “nonsense.”

As the U.S. moved toward confrontation with China last fall, after the August Roosevelt Room session, Mr. Lighthizer worked to make sure the administration was united. Previously, the U.S. had often balked at confronting China out of fear a fight would tank the global economy and make China less willing to help on national-security issues.

Defense chief Jim Mattis, though, backed a tough approach because he was concerned China was illicitly obtaining U.S. technology and could gain a military edge, say individuals familiar with his thinking. Others in the national-security agencies were tired of what they felt were unmet Chinese promises on Korea and other security issues.

Mr. Cohn, then the economy chief, was as fed up with Beijing as Mr. Lighthizer, say officials. As a longtime president of Goldman Sachs, Mr. Cohn had lobbied to do business unimpeded in China and didn’t get the approvals he sought.

At the end of February, China sent its chief economic envoy, Liu He, to Washington to try to restart negotiations. Mr. Liu was ready to pledge that Beijing would open its financial market.

He found a frosty welcome. The Chinese embassy had requested 40 visas so Mr. Liu could bring a full entourage. The State Department granted just a handful.

Mr. Liu couldn’t get any time with President Trump. Instead, he met with Mr. Lighthizer, Mr. Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. The three delivered a simple message, say officials familiar with the talks: The U.S. isn’t going to get “tapped around” like prior administrations.

The U.S. wanted substantial changes in trade practices and barriers, which Mr. Lighthizer detailed. They included cutting the tariff China imposes on auto imports from 25% to something closer to the U.S. tariff of 2.5%. The U.S. also wanted a $100 billion reduction of its $375 billion annual merchandise trade deficit with China. To punctuate those demands, the administration planned to threaten tariffs.

One more obstacle needed to be cleared away. President Trump, frustrated that the steel- tariff matter had been indefinitely delayed, was sympathetic to pitches by Messrs. Navarro and Ross that he should finally move on the issue. In early March, Mr. Trump said he would impose 25% tariffs on steel and 10% tariffs on aluminum from any exporting nation.

The international response threatened to drown out the China initiative as U.S. allies complained they were unfairly targeted.

On Tuesday evening, March 20, senior officials gathered again in the Roosevelt Room to decide how to proceed with the tariffs scheduled to go into effect in three days. Mr. Navarro, the trade adviser, argued tariffs should be imposed across the board as the president threatened, say officials. That would increase U.S. leverage with steel-exporting nations, which could be expected to offer concessions to avoid tariffs, he argued.

Mr. Lighthizer, aligned this time with Mr. Ross, pressed for an alternative course. Grant nearly all nations except China temporary exclusions from the tariffs, they proposed, according to participants, but then limit their exports through quotas. That would make the U.S. seem more reasonable in steel negotiations and help form a coalition against China.

The group produced a memo in which the different views were articulated. Mr. Trump backed Mr. Lighthizer’s side.

With the steel issue defused, at least temporarily, Mr. Trump announced on March 22 the U.S. would threaten tariffs on Chinese imports. He thanked Mr. Lighthizer for his help and invited him to say a few words.

“This is an extremely important action,” Mr. Lighthizer said, “very significant and very important for the future of the country, really, across industries.”

Over coming months, the ability of the U.S. to maintain pressure on China will depend on factors including the reaction of markets, opposition by U.S. industries and farmers, and retaliation by China against U.S. companies. Chinese leaders say they are confident they would prevail in a trade war, say U.S. individuals who have met with them recently, and chalk up U.S. threats to Mr. Trump’s midterm congressional electioneering.

Jorge Guajardo, a former Mexican ambassador to China and now a Washington consultant, has seen up close how Beijing can pressure companies and wear down governments. “The big question is, ‘Will the U.S. blink?’” he said. “Or will they stay the course so China is forced to understand there is a new way of doing business.”

As I predicted in past newsletters when Robert Lighthizer originally obtained the USTR job, he would be a very tough negotiator especially with China.

To also see the raw emotion about China’s trade policies, see the videos mentioned above at the following two links.  The first link is for Robert Lighthizer’s testimony at House Ways and Means on March 21st with the focus on the Section 301 against China at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MxqNWw5PObk.  The second link is to the testimony of Wilbur Ross at the House Ways and Means on March 22nd at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vylt-NTsT8I.  Throughout the hearings, all the Congressmen and Ross himself put tremendous emphasis on China’s overcapacity in the Steel and Aluminum industries.  Many Congressmen agreed that substantial pressure had to be put on China because of its trade policy and the perception that for too long China has taken advantage of the US in trade negotiations.  The videos are long, but the US emotions and political feeling about trade with China are very real.

On March 25th in another editorial entitled “Donald Trump’s China tariffs make sense”, USA Today came out in favor of the Trump trade policy with regards to China:

“The Chinese should know that business as usual isn’t fair trade: Our view

President Trump has done many counterproductive things on trade. His recently announced (and later scaled back) steel tariffs, for example, will punish car makers and other industrial users of steel. And his decision to pick fights with nations in Europe and North America needlessly angers important allies.

But with his announcement to impose penalties on up to $60 billion in Chinese imports, Trump has finally hit on a trade action that makes a certain amount of sense.

China’s numerous state-owned companies limit access to Chinese markets, while exports to the United States continue at a robust level. Its practice of requiring foreign companies to share trade secrets in return for market access is nothing short of a shakedown. And its tolerance for (perhaps even encouragement of) theft of intellectual property makes it a lawless frontier for international companies trying to do business

Trump’s threatened tariffs are meant to effect change in China, not — as is often the case with tariffs — to protect U.S. industries that know how to throw their weight around politically.

Many free-traders will see these tariffs as yet another in a long line of counterproductive moves by the president. There could be some truth to that reasoning. But the tariffs also reflect a growing belief among U.S. business leaders that a laissez-faire approach simply isn’t working.

Such an approach relies on the power of markets, free enterprise and the survival of the fittest companies. In China, however, a gargantuan, single-party state holds the leverage to dictate terms to private companies.

Whether these tariffs work is an open question. China will naturally respond with its own tariffs, focused on U.S. agricultural products, and perhaps with a more truculent foreign policy. . . .

To truly be effective, these threatened tariffs should be combined with the U.S. re-entry into the Trans-Pacific Partnership…, a proposed trading zone linking 11 nations (not including China) in Asia and the Americas. In fact, if the United States were to take only one action to put pressure on China, joining the TPP would be the better approach.

TPP would turn the dispute with China into a multilateral affair. In virtually all efforts to pressure a nation to change its ways, a concerted effort by multiple nations is more successful than one nation going it alone.

The road ahead won’t be easy. Trump has not done himself any favors by alienating many U.S. allies in Canada, Mexico and Europe. Or with his rash decision, at the beginning of his presidency, to take the United States out of TPP.

Even so, there’s nothing wrong with sending a message to China that business as usual isn’t sustainable.”

On March 25th, on New York Radio, the “The Cats Roundtable,” John Bolton, President Donald Trump’s newly appointed national security adviser, stated:

“[T]he president was trying to communicate to signal to China is for far too long China has taken advantage of its place in the world; trade organizations and trade arrangements. The Chinese have stolen intellectual property, patent information copyrights and trademarks, business secrets. They take the information and they don’t honor the patent rights as it might be or the copyright rights — they just copy it and build their own. It’s theft. There’s no other description for it, so when you steal somebody else’s property and make money off of it yourself, it really magnifies the consequences for American industry in a very negative way.”

I think this could be a little shock therapy.”

On April 6, 2018 in an opinion piece in the Washington Post entitled, “Trump is right: China’s a trade cheat”, Fareed Zakaria, a known Trump critic and commentator on CNN, a very anti-Trump TV network, stated his agreement on Trump’s trade China trade policy:

Ever since the resignation of top advisers Gary Cohn and H.R. McMaster, it does seem as if the Trump White House has gotten more chaotic, if that is possible. But amid the noise and tumult, including the alarming tweets about Amazon and Mexico, let’s be honest — on one big, fundamental point, President Trump is right: China is a trade cheat.

Many of the Trump administration’s economic documents have been laughably sketchy and amateurish. But the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative’s report to Congress on China’s compliance with global trading rules [see attached report China 2017 WTO Report] is an exception worth reading. In measured prose and great detail, it lays out the many ways that China has failed to enact promised economic reforms and backtracked on others, and uses formal and informal means to block foreign firms from competing in China’s market. It points out correctly that in recent years, the Chinese government has increased its intervention in the economy, particularly taking aim at foreign companies. All of this directly contradicts Beijing’s commitments when it joined the World Trade Organization in 2001.

Whether one accepts the trade representative’s conclusion that “the United States erred in supporting China’s entry into the WTO,” it is clear that the expectation that China would continue to liberalize its markets after its entry has proved to be mistaken. . ..

Look at the Chinese economy today. It has managed to block or curb the world’s most advanced and successful technology companies, from Google to Facebook to Amazon. Foreign banks often have to operate with local partners who add zero value — essentially a tax on foreign companies. Foreign manufacturers are forced to share their technology with local partners who then systematically reverse engineer some of the same products and compete against their partners. And then there is cybertheft. The most extensive cyberwarfare waged by a foreign power against the United States is done not by Russia but by China. The targets are American companies, whose secrets and intellectual property are then shared with Chinese competitors.

China is not alone. Countries such as India and Brazil are also trade cheats. In fact, the last series of world trade talks, the Doha Round, was killed by obstructionism from Brazil and India, in tandem with China. Today the greatest threat to the open world economy comes from these large countries that have chosen to maintain mixed economies, refuse to liberalize much more and have enough power to hold firm.

The Trump administration may not have chosen the wisest course forward — focusing on steel, slapping on tariffs, alienating key allies, working outside the WTO — but its frustration is understandable. Previous administrations exerted pressure privately, worked within the system and tried to get allies on board, with limited results. Getting tough on China is a case where I am willing to give Trump’s unconventional methods a try. Nothing else has worked.

TRADE WAR CHICKEN GAME—WHO WILL BLINK FIRST?

The United States and China have now entered a game of chicken, two governments going directly at each other over trade.  The question is which government will blink first: China or the United States.  I firmly believe that both countries—China and the United States need to stand down and negotiate a deal, but a deal which is enforceable.  We do not want this trade war to expand further.

To Chinese friends, I would say do not escalate the rhetoric.  Of course, China will retaliate if the $150 billion in tariffs are imposed, but as Trump has stated many times, he is a counterpuncher.  Threatening Trump is waving a red flag in front of a bull.  With the very real damage to Trump’s agricultural base, he knows how very serious these US China trade negotiations will be.

As mentioned in my blog posts just after the Presidential election in 2016, Trump’s victory was a seismic tipping point.  Trump won the election because he promised to be tough on trade. Trade was never a major issue in a US election.  Trade and specifically trade with China has now become one of the most important political issues in the US.  China is a major reason for this sea change in US politics.

As indicated above, the WSJ articulates the position of the many Americans and the US Congress perfectly.  When China entered the WTO, Premier Zhu Ronji was China’s economic genius.  He wanted to get China into the WTO not to appease the US, but to help China internally and push it to become a more market oriented country and to lessen the impact of the State-Owned Companies.  I heard Premier Zhu make this statement in New York City in the early 2000s.

But now China appears to be moving away from a market oriented country and putting much more emphasis on State-Oriented capitalism.  The Chines State uses its economic might to target technologies and increase its economic might so as to achieve a dominant economic position in the World.

The rise in China is to be expected as China achieves the very high historical position it held in the World.  But if China wants to use its economic might to achieve political dominance, the World will react to that strategy and counter it.

The perception is that the WTO has done nothing to deal with Chinese mercantilism and the rise of China’s state-oriented capitalism.  The WTO is to quote Mao a “paper tiger”.

The American perception of China’s mercantilism and its state-oriented capitalism means that there is little sympathy for China and that does not bode well for the future of US China trade relations.

As Trump has made clear in many political statements, his new trade policy will be reciprocity.  The United States will not open its border to Chinese imports if China shuts down its own border to US exports in the same sector.  The United States will not let Chinese companies invest in certain sectors of the US economy if China prohibits investment by US companies.

That is where the Trump trade policy is headed. With trade being the main political issue at the present time, I suspect that the Trump trade policy will become the US trade policy not only during the Trump Presidency but the US trade policy for many years in the future.

To my US friends, I would make the point that the Chinese have a different World view.  We have the American dream, but China has its own dream.  Thus, it would be a big mistake to make a personal attack on the Chinese government and the Chinese people.

On April 5th, in an article entitled “Mexican president to Trump: ‘Nothing and no one stands above the dignity of Mexico”, Politico reported:

President Enrique Peña Nieto of Mexico blasted Donald Trump in a video message on Thursday, vowing that “nothing and no one stands above the dignity of Mexico” and adding that the U.S. president’s main gripes were Congress’ problem, not Mexico’s. . . .

“As Mexicans, we may disagree among ourselves, especially during election periods, but we will always be united when it comes to defending our country’s dignity and sovereignty,” Peña Nieto said.

The same point stands with regards to China.  On April 5th I heard a Fox News reporter state we want the US to be the hegemon, the major power in the World.  China wants the same thing.  They want to be the hegemon, just like the United States, the major power in the World.  Does that mean that inevitably there will be a military conflict between the United States and China?  Hopefully not.

One reader blasted me because I did not describe China as Communist China.  Sorry, I do not want to go back to the period before Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger opened China to the outside world.  I do not want to go to war with China, but “hegemon” talk fuels nationalist/jingoist talk that we the United States are so powerful everyone must bow down to us.

That is what Adolf Hitler believed with regard to Germany and his memorial in Berlin is a parking lot over his old World War 2 bunker as Germany has done everything in its power to educate the average person about the real danger of the Nazi creed and, in effect, to expunge Hitler and Nazism from its history.  World War 2 left Germany destroyed and caused the deaths of 20 million people.  That is where puffed up nationalism leads.

Recently, in a video called the Value of Travel, Rick Steves, a well-known travel writer and producer on PBS, stated that he spends on average 4 months every year out of the United States. Steves stated that one of the major benefits of his travel experience is that he has learned that although we in the US have the American dream, people in other countries have their own national dreams.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYXiegTXsEs.

The point is that I view China as a friendly economic competitor and would rather trade with China than go to war with it.  President Xi Jinping has pledged to the peaceful rise of China, and I hope that is what China truly believes or millions of lives will be lost in another World War, something to be avoided at all costs.

The bottom line is that Trump’s trade war with China is very risky and it will be a very bumpy ride in the next few months with developments on a day by day basis.  But my firm hope is trade agreements that will be win win, not only for the United States, but for our trading partners, including China.  We all need good trade deals, which are enforceable.

In my second blog post, I will outline from a technical point of view, the developments in the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases, the Section 301 IP Case against China, NAFTA negotiations and new trade cases against China.

If anyone has any questions about the Trump Trade Crisis, including the Section 232 case on Steel, Aluminum or Uranium or US trade policy, Section 301 intellectual property case against China, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP’S TRADE WAR, INCREASED US EXPORTS, SECTION 232 STEEL/ALUMINUM CASES, RETALIATION BY EC/CHINA, TPP??, SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE, TAXES AND TRADE, NEW AD, CVD, 337 CASES

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

 

US CHINA TRADE WAR STEEL/ALUMINUM TARIFFS EXCLUSION NOTICE UPDATE MARCH 18, 2018

Dear Friends,

On March 8th, Trump issued his tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum in the Section 232 National Cases.

Attached are two documents of interest.

Commerce just issued the atttached EXCLUSION FED REG STEEL AND ALUMINUM exclusion Federal Register notice for the Steel and Aluminum Section 232 Cases.

Two important points about exclusion requests.  First, there is no time limit.  Exclusion requests can be filed at any time, but they must be on specific forms.

Second, foreign producers and US importers need not apply.  The only entities that can request an exclusion are the actual US companies using the steel or aluminum in their production process.

The second document is the attached extensive two part retaliation list issued by the EC in response to the Steel and Aluminum tariffs.  TWO EU RETALIATION LISTS  The document speaks for itself and is very extensive covering numerous different US products exported to the EC.

According to the EU, Part A of the list includes products worth €2.8 billion, which the EU can target with tariffs of 25 percent at any moment after notifying the list to the WTO.

Part B lists those products which would be targeted only after three years. This is because WTO rules allow immediate retaliation only on that amount of trade for which EU steel exports to the U.S. have not increased over the past years.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR STEEL AND ALUMINUM TARIFFS UPDATE MARCH 9, 2018

Dear Friends,

On March 8th, Trump issued his tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum.

As explained below, there are some exceptions, but now let the retaliation trade games begin.

The chickens have come home to roost.  For too many years, the average American has not been educated on the benefits of trade.  With $2.3 trillion in US exports in 2017, the United States has a lot to lose in this trade war.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S STEEL AND ALUMINUM TARIFFS

On March 3, 2018, President Trump formally announced the imposition under Section 232, National Security law, of tariffs of 25% against Steel imports and 10% on Aluminum imports.  See the attached proclamations, Presidential Proclamation on Adjusting Imports of Aluminum into Presidential Proclamation on Adjusting Imports of Steel into th.

The tariffs will take effect March 23rd “with respect to goods entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption and shall continue in effect, unless such actions are expressly reduced, modified, or terminated.”

The terms “entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption” are Customs terms, which means if steel products have not been entered/imported or withdrawn from a Customs bonded warehouse by 12:01AM on March 23rd, the tariffs will apply to those goods.

A Customs bonded warehouse is where products are stored before entry/importation of the products, in this case, steel and aluminum products, into the United States.  So long as the Steel and Aluminum has been entered/imported into the US before March 23rd, it will be ok, but afterwards the products will be hit by a tariff.

The actual steel products covered by the tariff are:

  • For the purposes of this proclamation, “steel articles” are defined at the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) 6-digit level as: 7206.10 through 7216.50, 7216.99 through 7301.10, 7302.10, 7302.40 through 7302.90, and 7304.10 through 7306.90, including any subsequent revisions to these HTS

This probably means that all steel products will be covered, but (2) provides:

“In order to establish increases in the duty rate on imports of steel articles, subchapter III of chapter 99 of the HTSUS is modified as provided in the Annex to this proclamation. Except as otherwise provided in this proclamation, or in notices published pursuant to clause 3 of this proclamation, all steel articles imports specified in the Annex shall be subject to an additional 25 percent ad valorem rate of duty with respect to goods entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 23, 2018.

Emphasis added.

If this Steel case follows the recent Solar Cells 201 Proclamation process, we will not see the Annex until the Presidential Proclamation is published in the Federal Register in a few days.

But there are doorways for countries and companies to get their products out. For countries that have a “security relationship” with the United States, not Russia or China, they can negotiate a deal with the US.  As the Proclamation specifically states in paragraph 9:

Any country with which we have a security relationship is welcome to discuss with the United States alternative ways to address the threatened impairment of the national security caused by imports from that country. Should the United States and any such country arrive at a satisfactory alternative means to address the threat to the national security such that I determine that imports from that country no longer threaten to impair the national security, I may remove or modify the restriction on steel articles imports from that country and, if necessary, make any corresponding adjustments to the tariff as it applies to other countries as our national security interests require.

Also within 10 days of the Proclamation, Commerce is to come up with an exclusion process to get products out of the tariffs, if the products are not produced in the US and if the exclusion request is made by a US company affected by the Tariff.  Foreign companies need not apply, only their US importers and more importantly the US steel using customers can apply.   The Proclamation specifically states in subparagraphs 3 and 4:

“…..The Secretary . . . is hereby authorized to provide relief from the additional duties set forth in clause 2 of this proclamation for any steel article determined not to be produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality and is also authorized to provide such relief based upon specific national security considerations. Such relief shall be provided for a steel article only after a request for exclusion is made by a directly affected party located in the United States.  , , ,

Within 10 days after the date of this proclamation, the Secretary shall issue procedures for the requests for exclusion described in clause 3 of this proclamation. . . .”

We probably will not know more about the exclusion process until Commerce publishes a notice in the Federal Register.

THE TRADE CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST

Although there is an out for negotiations, we can expect other countries, including China and the EC, to retaliate against the steel and aluminum tariffs issued by the US.

But the real lesson of these tariffs is the failure over many past Presidencies to educate the average American about the benefits of trade.  President Trump pushed on by Breitbart refers to free traders as globalists.  Apparently, any person who believes in free trade does so because he supports the interests of the World and not the United States.

But free traders are not globalists.  They strongly believe in free trade because that is in the interest of the United States and the average American.  Free trade has caused the US economy to grow multiple times creating millions of jobs for Americans.

The average American simply does not realize that the US exported in 2017 $2.3 trillion in goods and services, $1.5 trillion in goods.  Half of all agricultural products are exported and one third of Iowa corn is exported to Mexico.

Pundits who favor the tariffs point to the rust belt states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that voted for Trump, but ignore the agricultural states of Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and many other states that voted for Trump.  These pundits ignore the farmers.

But of that $1.5 trillion in goods, only $132 billion was agricultural products, exports of industrial supplies and materials at $462 billion and exports of capital goods except automotive at $532 billion were much more important.  Exports of Automotive vehicles and parts at $157 billion, consumer goods at $197 billion and export of other goods at $62 billion were also very important.

See the article on my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, “Trump and Many Americans Simply Do Not Realize How Much the US Exports” and the Commerce Department report on 2017 Imports and Exports attached to that article.

$2.3 trillion in US exports are a lot of jobs and if these tariffs are the first step to a global trade war, many Americans are going to be very badly hurt by Trump’s trade war.

MARCH 3, 2018 UPDATE

Dear Friends,

Trump has his trade war, but it is not just against China.  This trade war is the United States against the World.  On March 2nd President Trump announced tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports under Section 232 National Security law.  Section 232, however, is not a trade exception, such as 201 or antidumping and countervailing duty cases, approved by the World  Trade Organization (“WTO”) so that gives the other countries  the right to retaliate and they will retaliate.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR AGAINST THE WORLD

On March 1, 2018, President Trump announced that next week he will impose under Section 232, National Security law, tariffs of 25% against Steel imports and 10% on Aluminum imports.

Many countries around the World, including the EU, Canada, Mexico, China and other countries, immediately threatened trade retaliation against US exports.  Europe is talking about tariffs on US imports of Harley Davidson Motorcycles, Jack Daniels Bourbon and blue jeans.  China is talking tariffs on US agricultural exports, such a Sorghum Grain and Soybeans.

To see the advice the President is getting one has to look no further than the statements by USTR Robert Lighthizer on February 27th, on the Laura Ingraham show on Fox News stating that it was ridiculous to think that we were going to get into a trade war with China and other countries over the 232 cases.  But the reaction of numerous countries to Trump’s announcement of tariffs on Steel and Aluminum imports shows that Lighthizer’s statement was ridiculous.  Lighthizer is Trump’s principle advisor on trade laws and trade agreements, but this statement shows how Lighthizer truly misjudged the situation.

The major problem is that Lighthizer and Trump are focused on the trade deficits rather than the enormous size of US exports at $2.4 trillion.  With $2.4 trillion in exports, there is a lot of targets for retaliation.

Secretary Wilbur Ross states that steel tariffs are about jobs and security and simply leveling the playing field.  See https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2018-03-02/wilbur-ross-says-steel-tariffs-are-about-jobs-and-security-video.

On March 2, 2018, Trump tweeted, “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”  But in wars be they trade wars or real wars, no one really wins everybody loses.

Both the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily both disagree with the Trump trade war.  On March 2, 2018, the Wall Street Journal stated in an editorial entitled “Trump’s Tariff Folly, His tax on aluminum and steel will hurt the economy and his voters”, stated:

Donald Trump made the biggest policy blunder of his Presidency Thursday by announcing that next week he’ll impose tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum. This tax increase will punish American workers, invite retaliation that will harm U.S. exports, divide his political coalition at home, anger allies abroad, and undermine his tax and regulatory reforms. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.7% on the news, as investors absorbed the self-inflicted folly.

Mr. Trump has spent a year trying to lift the economy from its Obama doldrums, with considerable success. Annual GDP growth has averaged 3% in the past nine months if you adjust for temporary factors, and on Tuesday the ISM manufacturing index for February came in at a gaudy 60.8. American factories are humming, and consumer and business confidence are soaring.

Apparently, Mr. Trump can’t stand all this winning. His tariffs will benefit a handful of companies, at least for a while, but they will harm many more. “We have with us the biggest steel companies in the United States. They used to be a lot bigger, but they’re going to be a lot bigger again,” Mr. Trump declared in a meeting Thursday at the White House with steel and aluminum executives.

No, they won’t. The immediate impact will be to make the U.S. an island of high-priced steel and aluminum. The U.S. companies will raise their prices to nearly match the tariffs while snatching some market share. The additional profits will flow to executives in higher bonuses and shareholders, at least until the higher prices hurt their steel- and aluminum-using customers. Then U.S. steel and aluminum makers will be hurt as well.

Mr. Trump seems not to understand that steel-using industries in the U.S. employ some 6.5 million Americans, while steel makers employ about 140,000. Transportation industries, including aircraft and autos, account for about 40% of domestic steel consumption, followed by packaging with 20% and building construction with 15%. All will have to pay higher prices, making them less competitive globally and in the U.S.

Instead of importing steel to make goods in America, many companies will simply import the finished product made from cheaper steel or aluminum abroad. Mr. Trump fancies himself the savior of the U.S. auto industry, but he might note that Ford Motor shares fell 3% Thursday and GM’s fell 4%. U.S. Steel gained 5.8%. Mr. Trump has handed a giant gift to foreign car makers, which will now have a cost advantage over Detroit. How do you think that will play in Michigan in 2020?

The National Retail Federation called the tariffs a “tax on American families,” who will pay higher prices for canned goods and even beer in aluminum cans. Another name for this is the Trump voter tax.

The economic damage will quickly compound because other countries can and will retaliate against U.S. exports. Not steel, but against farm goods, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Cummins engines, John Deere tractors, and much more.

Foreign countries are canny enough to know how to impose maximum political pain on Republican Senators and Congressmen in an election year by targeting exports from their states and districts. Has anyone at the White House political shop thought this through?

Then there’s the diplomatic damage, made worse by Mr. Trump’s use of Section 232 to claim a threat to national security. In the process Mr. Trump is declaring a unilateral exception to U.S. trade agreements that other countries won’t forget and will surely emulate.

The national security threat from foreign steel is preposterous because China supplies only 2.2% of U.S. imports and Russia 8.7%. But the tariffs will whack that menace to world peace known as Canada, which supplies 16%. South Korea, which Mr. Trump needs for his strategy against North Korea, supplies 10%, Brazil 13% and Mexico 9%.

Oh, and Canada buys more American steel than any other country, accounting for 50% of U.S. steel exports. Mr. Trump is punishing our most important trading partner in the middle of a Nafta renegotiation that he claims will result in a much better deal. Instead he is taking a machete to America’s trade credibility. Why should Canada believe a word he says?

***

Mr. Trump announced his intentions Thursday, so there’s still time to reconsider. GOP Senators Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Ben Sasse (Nebraska) spoke up loudly against the tariffs, but a larger business and labor chorus is required. Mr. Trump is a bona fide protectionist so he won’t be dissuaded by arguments about comparative advantage. But perhaps he will heed the message from the falling stock market, and from the harm he will do to the economy, his voters, and his Presidency.

The Investors Business Daily followed suit stating in a March 2, 2018 editorial entitled “Sorry, Mr. President: Your Trade Protectionism Will Cost The U.S. Dearly”:

Trade: Protectionism is a political feel-good policy that does nothing for the economy. It’s a big cost with very few tangible benefits. That’s why President Trump has made a big mistake in imposing big tariffs on steel and aluminum.

We understand, of course, that President Trump feels beholden to his constituencies in the U.S. who have been hurt by foreign competition, particularly in basic industries like steel and aluminum. But the 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum that Trump seeks to impose will lead to higher prices for all, the loss of thousands of jobs and a political-crony windfall for a handful of big companies. . . .

We have no doubt that what Trump says is true. But if so, it should be remedied through trade talks, not a trade war.

And make no mistake: The broad nature of Trump’s tariffs, hitting all exporters to the U.S., will invite some kind of retaliation from those who’ve been hit.

Already, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is threatening to respond in kind: “We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk,” he said. “The European Union will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests.” . . .

Beijing is already looking at imposing trade penalties on U.S. sales of sorghum there, and may soon also target our sales of soy, too. Meanwhile, India, emboldened by the U.S. turn toward protectionism, might use Trump’s moves as a reason to protect its own wheat and rice sectors from U.S. imports.

So the steel and aluminum industry’s gains will be the loss of others.

Trump’s justification for tariffs is “national security.” But, as some have pointed out, the U.S. military uses only about 3% of domestic steel output, and much of our imported steel comes from allies like Canada. So the “threat” really isn’t much of one.

Of greater concern is what the higher prices for steel and aluminum — remember, a tariff is actually a tax — will do to our domestic economy.

As the R Street Institute think tank reminds us, “According to 2015 U.S. Census data, steel mills employ about 140,000 Americans, while steel-consuming industries, including automakers and other manufacturers who rely on imported steel, employ more than 5 million. It is estimated that nearly 200,000 jobs and $4 billion in wages were lost during the 18 months during 2002 and 2003 that President George W. Bush imposed tariffs on imported steel …” . . .

In short, trade protection, especially tariffs, is a very bad deal for consumers and workers. But it’s very profitable for politically connected corporations. That’s why the financial markets melted down on Thursday. Will this event mark the end of the Trump bull market? It’s too soon to tell, but it bears watching. While most stocks fell on Thursday, steel and aluminum shares had a great day. Good for them, bad for the rest of us.

Maybe so, but what’s truly tragic is that Trump’s penchant for trade protection will in part offset the benefits to the economy from other free-market policies he has put in place, including tax cuts, deregulation, withdrawal from the Paris Accords on climate change and badly needed changes to ObamaCare.

We understand why he walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and reopened NAFTA. He thought they were flawed, and they were.

But protectionism is a bad road to travel. Let’s hope this move by President Trump is merely a negotiating ploy, and not a long-term policy. If it’s the latter, buckle up — we’re in for a bumpy ride.

CNN has called Trump ignorant on trade, but the only one more protectionist than Donald Trump is the Democrats, who were all applauding Trump’s decision to impose tariffs.  In truth Trump’s ignorance reflects the ignorance of many Americans, who simply believe that the US does not export much and all imports are unfairly traded because they are all dumped.

For years, however, the Commerce Department has created dumping rates by using a policy called zeroing, which allowed Commerce to create dumping rates when there simply were none.  Also with regards to China, Commerce creates dumping rates because it refuses to use actual prices or costs in China, instead using surrogate values from import statistics in 5 to 10 different countries to construct a cost.

Commerce, in effect, is a hanging judge.  That would not matter but when that faulty premise is used to justify a trade war than the US truly does have problems.

Americans also are ignorant because they simply do not understand that in 2017 the US exported $2.4 trillion in goods and services, $1.6 trillion in goods.  See the Commerce Department report below in my post on US exports.

That reality means that foreign countries have many, many retaliation targets against US exports.  This trade war will not be pretty and many Americans and American companies will be hurt.  No one wins a trade war.  Trade wars are a lose lose situation.

US CHINA TRADE WAR FEBRUARY 24, 2018

Dear Friends,

In my last blog post, I asked whether President Trump’s economic juggernaut could be stopped by a trade war.  At the start of the Trump Administration, economic growth was a meager about 2% and there was a true unemployment crisis.  But one way to cure the economy and the trade problem is by making US companies more competitive and that is just what Trump and the Republicans have done with their tax bill and cutting regulations.  Economic growth is approaching 3% or higher.  Unemployment, including Black and Hispanic unemployment, is the lowest in decades.

In January, however President Trump had not yet started a trade war yet.  What a difference one month can make. In January President Trump imposed large tariffs on imports of solar cells and washing machines, wants to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum pursuant to Commerce’s recommendations in section 232 National Security cases and wants to hammer China with more tariffs for intellectual property violations.  It appears that President Trump wants to solve all his disputes with foreign countries by raising tariffs.

But as indicated below, Trump’s desire for more tariffs simply reflects the feeling of many Americans that tariffs should go up to protect various US industries because Trump and many Americans simply do not understand how much the US exports.  The average American has been led to believe that imports are bad, exports are good and US exports very little.  That is the reason for the trade deficits and, therefore, all imports must be unfairly traded.  Trump’s and the average American’s belief is very dangerous thinking because it ignores the reality that the US in 2017 exported over $2 trillion in goods and services.  People in glass houses should not throw tariff stones and the United States has a very big glass house.  Belittling US exports is truly playing with trade war fire.

Trump and many average Americans do not understand what goes around comes around.  Trump, in fact, is inviting trade retaliation and igniting a trade firestorm.  In response to the self-initiation of the Aluminum Sheet case, the Chinese government has upped the game and responded with its own trade case against $1.25 billion of US agricultural exports of Sorghum Grain to China.  There are strong indications that the Chinese government is looking at antidumping and countervailing duty cases against $13.9 billion in US exports of soybeans to China, which will equal to 10% of US agricultural exports in total.

Pursuant to WTO trade rules, the EC, Japan, Korea and China are all asking for trade compensation for the Solar and Washing Machine tariffs imposed on their imports, and these same countries are sure to retaliate if Trump issues high tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from these same countries.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the US agricultural industry is hurting and one of the reasons is trade disputes and now trade retaliation.  President Trump and many Americans should be careful what they wish for, because they may get it.

But there are rays of sunlight in the US economy, President Trump and Vice President Pence have made noises about possibly rejoining the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”).  More importantly, the Trump tax cuts and cut in regulations has made US producers much more competitive and created a manufacturing renaissance.  A trade war, however, could kill the economic golden goose.

Exclusions are a big issue in the Section 201 Solar case and in a stunner the ITC voted against Boeing in the Bombardier Civil Aircraft case.  More trade cases are being filed against imports.

But there is a remedy to trade problems that is not protectionist and does not invite retaliation.  That is making US companies more competitive.  As stated below, Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, a program personally approved by President Reagan, works and is able to save companies injured by imports.  Since 1984, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, which I am involved in, has been able to save 80% of the companies that got into the program.  If you save the companies, you save the jobs that go with those companies.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S ADMINISTRATION APPEARS TO BE PREPARING FOR A TRADE WAR AND THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY CREATED A RETALIATION LIST WITH AGRICULTURE BEING THE NUMBER ONE TARGET

As stated above, up to now, President Trump has not started a trade war, but that appears to be changing.  As stated below, on January 21st, President Trump announced large tariffs on imports of solar cells and washing machines and the target countries are already asking for trade compensation, tariffs on US exports.  Every day President Trump appears to use the tariff hammer to deal with different foreign policy disputes and it looks like tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products are coming.

On February 4th, in a meeting with State Department, Defense Department, and Homeland Security officials, Trump promised to use tariffs to deal with immigration problems and put tariffs on the goods of countries and sanction others that refuse to take their citizens/nationals back upon deportation.  Trump stated:

“But if they don’t take them back, we’ll put sanctions on the countries. We’ll put tariffs on the countries. They’ll take them back so fast your head will spin. We’ll just tariff their goods coming in, and they’ll take them back in two seconds. You have a lot of people from those countries, and they’ll take them back.”

This is just one example where President Trump indicates his strong belief that Tariffs on imports are the weapon to use to pressure countries to fall into line with US policy interests.

Moreover, President Trump has promised his base during the election to be very tough on trade.  But President Trump unfortunately does not realize there is a price to pay for a trade war—retaliation against US exports.

DESPITE THE REAGAN WARNING MANY AMERICANS APPARENTLY WANT INCREASED TARIFFS TO PROTECT US INDUSTRIES EVEN IF US EXPORTS GET SMASHED

But President Trump’s favorable view of tariffs on imports may simply reflect the beliefs of many Americans that trade is bad.  Exports are good, but all imports are bad.  Therefore, if there is a trade deficit, that must mean that trade and imports are hurting US industry because all imports are unfairly traded and the solution is simply put more trade barriers up.

Such a way of thinking is perpetuated by a Commerce Department that finds dumping in almost 100% of the cases, especially against China, because Commerce uses fake numbers, surrogate values from 5 to 10 different countries, to create dumping margins in Chinese cases.  Literally, over the past few decasdes, the number of cases in which the Commerce Department reached a no dumping and no countervailing duty case, turning the case off can be counted on less than two hands.  Commerce is a hanging judge, but when that hanging judge creates a myth that all imports into the US  are dumped and subsidized, that is when real probelms begin.  Although Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, once stated that 70% of all customers are outside the United States, that point apparently has been forgotten and does not register with the average American, who thinks that putting up high tariffs will solve the trade problems and protect US manufacturing.

On January 26, 2018, Rasmussen Reports in an article entitled “Americans Still Favor Use of Protective Tariffs” stated that polls show that Americans favor tariffs:

“President Trump this week imposed heavy tariffs on foreign manufacturers of washing machines and solar panels to protect U.S. businesses. Americans by a two-to-one margin think tariffs are a good way to go.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 50% of American Adults believe the federal government should place tariffs on goods from countries that pay very low wages to their workers. Twenty-six percent (26%) oppose tariffs on such goods even though the low wages mean these manufactured items often cost less than comparable American products. One-in-four (24%), however, are undecided.”

On February 6, 2018, Breitbart reported on the Rasmussen Poll in an article entitled “Americans Increasingly Support Tariffs to Protect US Against Globalization”, stating:

“Americans are increasingly supportive of tariffs on cheap, imported goods from foreign countries to protect American industries and workers against wild globalization.

In a poll by Rasmussen Reports, roughly 50 percent of Americans said the federal government should “place tariffs on goods from countries that pay very low wages to their workers,” as opposed to only 26 percent of Americans who said tariffs should not be imposed on foreign countries.

About 24 percent of Americans said they were “not sure” if the government should use tariffs to protect American industries.

Additionally, a plurality of Americans, about 44 percent, said the federal government is not doing “enough” to protect U.S. manufacturers and businesses from foreign competition” from globalization which has been exacerbated by endless multinational free trade agreements supported by the Democratic and Republican party establishments.

The support for protective tariffs has increased from two years ago, in 2015, when 47 percent of Americans polled by Rasmussen Reports said the federal government should place tariffs on foreign countries dumping cheap, imported products in the U.S.

In that 2015 poll, a plurality of Americans, about 40 percent, said free trade agreements like NAFTA and KORUS “take jobs away” from Americans.

The support for tariffs is positive news for President Trump’s administration, which is combatting globalization by imposing tariffs to protect American industries. In the Trump administration’s latest “America First” trade move, the White House placed a 30 percent tariff on imported solar products.

The tariff, as Breitbart News reported, has already resulted in a Chinese solar company announcing plans to build a solar plant in the U.S. rather than overseas.

The Trump administration’s pro-American trade initiatives are a break from over two decades of globalist trade agendas of past administrations under President George W. Bush and President Obama. For years, both political establishments have joined forces to push multinational free trade deals that outsource and offshore Americans’ jobs to foreign nations.

As Breitbart News reported in 2016, South Carolina is just one example of a state that was devastated by NAFTA, with the state losing about one-third of its manufacturing jobs since 1994 when the free trade agreement was signed.

In Trump’s most significant pushback against the Democratic and Republican apparatus on free trade and global initiatives, rather than individual nation-state efforts, he ended the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement and the Paris Climate Agreement. . . .”

But President Ronald Reagan understood that the there is a price to pay for tariffs on imports—retaliation against US exports.  As President Reagan stated in a speech on June 28, 1986:

“That’s because international trade is one of those issues that politicians find an unending source of temptation. Like a 5-cent cigar or a chicken in every pot, demanding high tariffs or import restrictions is a familiar bit of flimflammery in American politics. But cliches and demagoguery aside, the truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth. . . .

We had an excellent example of this in our own history during the Great Depression. Most of you are too young to remember this, but not long after the stock market crash of 1929, the Congress passed something called the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Many economists believe it was one of the worst blows ever to our economy. By crippling free and fair trade with other nations, it internationalized the Depression. It also helped shut off America’s export market, eliminating many jobs here at home and driving the Depression even deeper. . . .

But I think you all know the inherent danger here. A foreign government raises an unfair barrier; the United States Government is forced to respond. Then the foreign government retaliates; then we respond, and so on. The pattern is exactly the one you see in those pie fights in the old Hollywood comedies: Everything and everybody just gets messier and messier. The difference here is that it’s not funny. It’s tragic. Protectionism becomes destructionism; it costs jobs.”

Like Breitbart, many Americans believe that the US simply does not export much.  The cost of President Trump’s protective tariffs, however, will be very high when US exports in 2017 were over $2 trillion.  On January 21st, President Trump imposed high tariffs on imports of solar cells and washing machines.  On January 24th, the Wall Street Journal in an editorial entitled “Trump Starts His Trade War”, stated:

“Can Donald Trump stand prosperity? Fresh from a government shutdown victory and with the U.S. economy on a roll, the President decided on Tuesday to kick off his long-promised war on imports—and American consumers. This isn’t likely to go the way Mr. Trump imagines.

“Our action today helps to create jobs in America for Americans,” Mr. Trump declared as he imposed tariffs on solar cells and washing machines. “You’re going to have a lot of plants built in the United States that were thinking of coming, but they would never have come unless we did this.”

The scary part is he really seems to believe this. And toward that end he imposed a new 30% tariff on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and solar modules to benefit two bankrupt companies, and a new 20%-50% tariff on washing machines to benefit Whirlpool Corp. The tariffs will hurt many more companies and people, and that’s before other countries retaliate.

The solar tariff is a response to a petition filed at the International Trade Commission by two U.S.-based manufacturers—Chinese-owned Suniva, which filed for bankruptcy last year, and German-owned SolarWorld Americas, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy last year. Under Section 201 of U.S. trade law, the companies don’t need to show evidence of dumping or foreign subsidies. They merely have to show they were hurt by imports, which is to say by competition.

The two companies once employed some 3,200 Americans. But the wider solar industry, which depends on price-competitive cells as a basic component, supports some 260,000 U.S. jobs.

Costs will rise immediately for this value-added part of the industry, which the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) says includes the manufacture of “metal racking, high tech inverters, machines that improve solar output by tracking the sun and other electrical products.”

The Journal reported Tuesday that the Trump tariff may spur an unnamed panel manufacturer to invest in a new plant in Florida that will create 800 new jobs. But SEIA says it expects that the tariff will cost 23,000 U.S. jobs this year alone. It will also mean that billions of dollars of solar investments are likely to be postponed or canceled. Utility companies facing green-energy mandates from state governments will also suffer as it gets more costly to deliver solar- produced electricity.

Mr. Trump will also make doing the laundry great again, or at least more expensive, with a new 20% tariff on the first 1.2 million imported washing machines every year. Above that the tariff will go to 50%. Don’t even think about assembling a washer with foreign parts, which get whacked with a 50% tariff above 50,000 imported units in the first year. . . .

Manufacturers will also lose flexibility in sourcing parts, which is critical to competitiveness. In South Carolina, where Samsung has a new $380 million appliance plant, the Trump tariffs aren’t welcome. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster is worried they’ll hurt the investment climate and invite retaliation.

Mr. Trump conducts trade policy as if U.S. trading partners have no recourse. With exports of $30.9 billion in 2016 and among the country’s highest level of exports per capita, South Carolina knows better. By justifying tariffs solely on the failure to compete, Mr. Trump is inviting other countries to do the same for their struggling companies. Their case at the World Trade Organization will also be a layup, allowing legal retaliation against U.S. exports.

By the way, if Mr. Trump thinks these new border taxes will hurt China, he’s mistaken again. China ran a distant fourth as a producer of solar cell and modules for the U.S. in 2017, after Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam. Korea and Mexico are the two largest exporters of washing machines to the U.S. Mr. Trump’s tariffs are an economic blunderbuss that will hit America’s friends abroad and Mr. Trump’s forgotten men and women at home.”

TRUMP AND MANY AMERICANS SIMPLY DO NOT REALIZE HOW MUCH THE US EXPORTS AND PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES – –

President Trump and many Americans simply do not understand that despite the trade deficit, in 2017 total US exports of goods and services was $2.4 trillion.  $1.622 trillion was US exports of goods, such as machinery, semiconductor chips and other items.  China and other countries have many ripe targets for retaliation against the US.

On February 16, 2018, in the attached report, 2017 TRADE DATA, the U.S. Census Bureau U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Commerce Department reported that for full year 2017:

Exports were $2,329.3 billion in 2017, up $121.2 billion from 2016. Imports were $2,895.3 billion in 2017, up $182.5 billion from 2016.

In other words, US exports in 2017 of goods and services were $2.3 trillion and imports were $2.8 trillion creating a trade deficit of $566.0 billion.  With regards to US exports, of the $2.3 trillion, export of services was $777.9 billion.  Services include exports of financial services, express delivery, media and entertainment, distribution, telecommunications and computer service.  Exports of goods was over $1.5 trillion, including industrial supplies and materials, crude oil, capital goods, including industrial machines and aircraft engines.

Although exports of agricultural products are important at about $132 billion, exports of industrial supplies and materials at $462 billion and exports of capital goods except automotive at $532 billion are much more important.  Exports of Automotive vehicles and parts at $157 billion, consumer goods at $197 billion and export of other goods at $62 billion are also very important.

The focus of this piece is on exports because much to the surprise of many in the Trump Administration and possibly Trump himself and the average American, these US Commerce statistics establish that the US exports a lot of goods to various countries around the World and this creates tempting targets for retaliation and it is not just agriculture.  People in glass houses should not throw stones and putting up tariff barriers to imports invites a trade retaliation firestorm.

When I mentioned US exports, one self-proclaimed conservative responded, “You mean apples.”  Uh, no exports of industrial goods are much larger than exports of agricultural products.

If Trump creates a trade war, the United States has a lot to lose.

STATE OF THE UNION—TRADE RECIPROCITY OR MANAGED TRADE??

In his January 30, 2018 State of the Union address, President Trump did not mention trade much but stressed in his speech on his economic policies have helped bring back manufacturing to the US and increased US jobs, stating:

“3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses — many of them thousands and thousands of dollars per worker. And it’s getting more every month, every week. Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers. And just a little while ago, ExxonMobil announced a $50 billion investment in the United States, just a little while ago. . . .

Very soon, auto plants and other plants will be opening up all over our country. This is all news Americans are totally unaccustomed to hearing. For many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But now they are roaring back. They’re coming back. They want to be where the action is. They want to be in the United States of America. That’s where they want to be. . . .”

But President Trump then went on to state about trade:

“America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs, and our wealth. Our nation has lost its wealth, but we’re getting it back so fast. The era of economic surrender is totally over. From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and, very importantly, reciprocal.

We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones. And they’ll be good ones, but they’ll be fair. And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property through strong enforcement of our trade rules.”

In response to the State of the Union address, on January 31st, John Brinkley in an article in Forbes entitled “With No Accomplishments To Report, Trump All  But Skips Trade In SOTU” stated:

“Last week, at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, President Trump suggested he was open to rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That was surprising, given that one of the first things he did as president was withdraw the United States from it.

Last night, in his State of the Union address, he devoted all of 78 words to trade policy, including nothing he hadn’t said before, nothing about the TPP, nothing about NAFTA (which he recently called a “bad joke”) and nothing direct about the U.S. trade deficit.

“From now on,” he said, “we expect trading relationships to be fair and, very importantly, reciprocal.”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “reciprocal” as “mutually corresponding.” If Trump wants every dollar of imports to be matched by a dollar of exports, that is an impossible goal. Tinkering around with NAFTA and the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, as his administration is doing, will have no appreciable effect on the U.S. trade deficits with Mexico and South Korea.

By now, he’s heard enough from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, his friends in the business world, even his own secretary of agriculture, about how important trade is to them. None of them asked him to renegotiate NAFTA or the Korea agreement.

None of them asked him to withdraw from the TPP. You’ll recall that it was delegates to the 2016 Democratic Convention who held up “No TPP” signs and that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ran away from the agreement as though it were a rattlesnake.

Trump and Sanders were dead wrong about the TPP and about trade in general, but at least they believed what they said. Clinton, on the other hand, was dead wrong, and she knew it.

“We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones,” Trump said last night. Does he still believe this strategy is going to lead to reciprocal trade? Or is he just saying what his base wants to hear? . . . .

Bottom line: Trump’s State of the Union claims that “America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals” notwithstanding, he has yet to make good on any of his trade-related threats and promises. We still have all the trade deals we had a year ago, and the U.S. trade deficit has increased.”

On February 12th in an article entitled “Trump Says US Will impose A Reciprocal Tax on Imports”, Breitbart reported:

“President Donald Trump said on Monday that the U.S. government will impose a “reciprocal tax” on imports from countries that levy tariffs against American made goods.

“We’re going to charge countries outside of our country–countries that take advantage of the United States, some of them are so-called allies but they’re not allies on trade,” Trump said during a White House meeting on infrastructure. “We’re going to be doing very much a reciprocal tax and you’ll be hearing about that during the week and coming months.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross applauded the idea, saying that the U.S. needs to “claw back” the revenue other countries raise by taxing U.S. products.

The U.S. has very low tariffs compared with some of our biggest trading partners. The trade-weighted average of U.S. tariffs is just 2.4 percent. China’s is 4.4 percent.”

While Congress has the authority to set taxes and tariffs, the law authorizes the president to unilaterally impose tariffs in certain circumstances. In January, for example, the administration announced that it would impose tariffs on washing machines and solar products. The administration could potentially expand its use of these types of sanctions instead of waiting on Congress to pass new tariffs.”

Under the Constitution, however, the Congress controls trade, not the President and any new reciprocal tariff would probably have to go through Congress, which would not agree to such a new law.  On January 30th, Politico reported in an article entitled “Republicans seek to Tame Trump on Trade”:

“The GOP has long been a party of free traders. During the past two years of President Barack Obama’s presidency, Senate Republicans labored to pass a bill giving him the ability to quickly negotiate new trade deals. Now they have a president of their own party who prefers to scrap trade deals and slap tariffs on other nations.

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who led the fight to give Obama so-called Trade Promotion Authority, said he wants to hear Trump “extrapolate” concrete policies, because “right now they’re just suggestions.”

“I’m not uncomfortable. But I’m not comfortable either,” Hatch said of Trump’s trade stance. “I’m a free-trade guy. And I believe that this ought to be a free-trade country, especially when it comes to NAFTA and our hemisphere.”

Republican sources said GOP senators’ disagreements with Trump on trade surface far more often in party lunches than what the president said on Twitter or the chaotic story of the day from within the White House. Senators will often wait to complain about Trump’s policies until Tuesdays, when Vice President Mike Pence often visits the GOP lunch, hoping that bending Pence’s ear will help moderate Trump.

And in some cases, Trump has listened. His decision to impose tariffs on solar panels wasn’t as severe as some senators had feared. And Trump opened the door last week to re-engaging on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive deal negotiated by Obama with Pacific Rim countries that Trump rejected shortly after taking office. The Trump administration has also sought to soothe some senators over NAFTA in recent weeks, according to GOP senators.”

But if by reciprocity, Trump means busting up barriers to US exports, that is fine with me and fine with President Reagan.  President Reagan and many successive Presidents have taken aggressive enforcement actions to break down barriers to US exports and investment.  If China has high tariffs on certain exports or bars US exports or investment in certain sectors, why should the US open up its border to Chinese imports and investment in those sectors?

But the major problem with such a new reciprocal tariff is the WTO Agreement and the bedrock agreement of Most Favored Nation.  The MFN principle provides that once a country becomes part of the WTO, with its general tariffs, it must treat all imports equally and cannot discriminate against imports from different countries, except with a Section 201 Escape Clause case or if dumping, subsidization or other unfair trade practices are involved.  Thus, a reciprocal tariff will invite retaliation by foreign countries pursuant to the WTO Agreement.  That is why many knowledgeable persons in the trade field have pushed for free trade agreements that lower tariffs, where the US has much to gain.

But because of his focus on trade deficits, if Trump means managed trade, not free trade, to reduce trade deficits, which means putting up high tariff walls to imports to equalize competition, count me and many other countries out, which will have no inclination to negotiate a bilateral trade deal with the US.

THE US BUILT THE WTO FREE TRADE MODEL THAT TRUMP APPARENTLY WANTS TO TEAR DOWN

On February 6, 2018, in an article entitled “US Leadership in International Trade: Recalibration or Retreat?” in The Diplomat, Mercy Kuo interviewed Ambassador Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and deputy director general of the WTO from 2002 to 2013.  On a personal note, I used to work with Ambassador Yerxa many years ago at the International Trade Commission.  During this interview, Ambassador Yerxa made two very important points about the Trump trade policy:

“Is the U.S. retreating from or recalibrating its leadership role in international trade?

There is clearly a significant danger for the United States and for world trade generally if the Trump administration applies its concept of economic nationalism in the wrong way – by building trade barriers in sectors where we are uncompetitive, withdrawing from our trade alliances, or starting trade wars with excessive use of unilateral tariffs or other forms of trade retaliation. The dangers are three-fold: first, we will be turning inward and losing our competitiveness; second, by shelving our existing preferential free-trade arrangements just when our competitors are expanding theirs, we will lose our competitive position in export markets; and third, by abandoning WTO principles and acting unilaterally, we will make it more likely that other countries will write global trade standards without us and further isolate us from the global economy.

So far, the Trump administration’s rhetoric on this idea of economic nationalism has far exceeded its actions. But the administration’s worrying belief in mercantilist trade polices as a panacea for all our economic ills runs the risk of moving our country decisively in the direction outlined above. In the end, such a philosophy may cause our economy and our workers far more harm than good. American industries are willing to support a tougher line on enforcement of trade rules, as well as a more resolute stand against the nationalistic, unfair trade, and investment policies of China. But these things need to be done in the context of our broader support for the open trading system we led the world in building. If we send the signal that we do not believe in that system – even though it is there because of our leadership – we will lose the support we have built over 70 years for free and fair trade, and with it we will lose our leverage to shape the future of globalization.

What might the World Trade Organization (WTO) look like without U.S. involvement?

It is not a very pretty thought. The WTO system was designed to reflect core U.S. values, such as non- discrimination, transparency, and respect for the rule of law. These values are embedded in the organization’s rules, and help to commit other countries to the basic ideals of free market economics that America was built upon. For example, the WTO has some fairly effective rules about subsidy practices, dumping, and non-tariff measures (such as technical barriers to trade). These are important safeguards for U.S. industries.

For the U.S. to disengage from the WTO system, particularly at this critical moment in the globalization process, would leave the door open for politically influential countries such as China and Russia to push a trade model based much more on state-run capitalism and authoritarian economics than on our free market principles. This could pose a long-term problem that could take decades to repair. In fact, it took decades for us to push the Europeans in the right direction on state intervention, and the WTO’s predecessor, the GATT, was an important tool in that effort. Now the Europeans have a respectable state aids code and have adopted far greater discipline on agriculture subsidies. But if China, Russia, and others with less attachment to free market economics become the dominant force in the WTO, the Europeans themselves could be drawn back towards their earlier model, just as a matter of survival! That would not be a good world for Americans.”

AGRICULTURE HAVING A HARD YEAR BECAUSE OF TRUMP’S TRADE POLICY

The argument that consumers will be hurt by rising import prices simply carries no weight either with the Trump Administration or the US Congress.  If prices go up a few dollars at Wal Mart, no one in Washington DC other than the economic intellectuals care.  What does carry weight, however, is the strong argument that trade protectionism seriously damages US companies, including agriculture, and the strong and justified fear that many US companies, including US agriculture and manufacturing companies, will be badly hurt by trade retaliation.  President Trump’s decision to tear up the Trans Pacific Partnership, without trying to renegotiate it, may have appealed to those people in his base that are not knowledgeable about trade, but this decision to tear up the TPP and the failure to create more US free trade agreements puts many US agriculture companies at risk.

As stated before in past blog posts, no one in the Trump Administration or the Congress assessed the real costs to US industry of not doing the Trans Pacific Partnership.  Every day those costs are becoming clearer and clearer.

On February 15, 2018, Capital Press in an article entitled “Wheat industry seeks to re-enter TPP” describes in detail what the withdrawal from the TPP means for the US wheat industry and what that means for US jobs:

“If the United States doesn’t re-enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Northwest wheat exports to Japan could drop by half within a few years, says the leader of the Washington Grain Commission.

The Pacific Northwest currently exports roughly 800,000 metric tons of Western white wheat, a popular blend of soft white wheat and subclass club wheat, to Japan each year, commission CEO Glen Squires said.

Hard red winter and hard red spring wheat exports would also be impacted, affecting Montana and North Dakota, and other states exporting off the West Coast, Squires said.

Japan wants the U.S. in TPP, and is not interested in bilateral agreements, Squires said.

Wheat industry representatives met in Washington D.C. last week. Many legislators are aware of the concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership proceeding without the United States, Squires said. It will essentially amount to a tariff on U.S. wheat, putting the country at a price disadvantage in key markets compared to competing wheat-producing countries that are remain in the trade pact.

Changes under TPP will occur over nine years, but Squires said the impact on shipments could be much faster.

“This is a massively big deal,” he said.

Reduced demand would result in lower wheat prices, Squires said.

A national coalition of agricultural commodities is forming to address the situation, Squires said. The industry will appeal to the Trump administration to rejoin the trade deal.

“President Trump is the guy who can negotiate, and get us back involved,” Squires said. “It’s clearly a big impact: It’s the equivalent of handing our competitors a $500 million check per year.” . . .

Squires warned of “ripple effects” throughout the industry, which could happen as soon as U.S. wheat becomes uncompetitive in overseas markets. . . .

Without exports to Japan, the grain commission estimates volume would drop by 62.5 million bushels. That equals 19,000 fewer rail cars and nearly 70 bulk vessels each year. Impact would be felt by port facilities, barges, elevator longshoremen, ship handlers, and other industry members, Squires said.

Every $1 billion in farm exports supports more than 8,000 jobs in 2016. Wheat export losses of $500 million per year would lead to reductions in the work force across the supply chain, Squires said. . . .”

Emphasis added.

Keep in mind that rural America and farmers are a key constituency of the Trump Presidency. Trump won the Presidency not only because of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, but also the states of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and many other states where farmers and agriculture are very important for the economy of those States.

Yet the Wall Street Journal reported on February 8, 2018 that in contrast to the rest of the economy, Farm Incomes are falling:

“Farm Belt Braces for Falling Incomes, Trade Disputes

Farm incomes are forecast to decline 7% to $60 billion in 2018.

U.S. farmers are gearing up for another tough year.

Farm incomes are expected to hit their lowest point since 2006 and borrowing costs are rising, federal data shows, as a deepening slump in the agricultural economy enters its fifth year.

A string of bumper corn and soybean harvests has added to a glut of grain world-wide, eroding prices for U.S. farmers. Foreign rivals like Russia and Brazil are also chipping away at U.S. dominance in the global grain trade, helping to fuel a multiyear downturn that is pushing some farmers out of business.

“The state of the rural economy is fragile,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told lawmakers during a hearing of the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. “There’s a lot of stress and a lot of duress on the farms today.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday forecast that farm incomes would fall 7% to $60 billion in 2018 on lower crop and livestock revenue, less than half of the record $124 billion farmers earned in 2013. Farmers are already borrowing more to keep farms running. . . .

As spring planting looms, farmers are looking to South America for clues on demand for their own crop. The USDA boosted its forecast for Brazil’s soybean harvest on Thursday, and cut its projection for U.S. exports of the oilseed this season thanks to stiffer competition from South America.”

As stated many times in past blog posts, President Trump’s decision to rip up the Trans Pacific Partnership and talk about more tariffs on various trade areas has led to many foreign countries, including China, to not look at the US as a reliable partner in the trade area.  It has also resulted in many foreign countries, including Mexico, China, Japan and the EC, to switch sourcing products from the US and turn to alternative sources of supply.  Since almost 50% of all agriculture products are exported, one third of Iowa corn is exported to Mexico, agriculture and the farm states are starting to feel real pain because of the Trump trade policy.

TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (“TPP”) RISES AGAIN???

As mentioned in my last blog post, Trump’s trade team is starting to realize that countries do not want to negotiate bilateral trade deals with the US.  Even though NAFTA may ultimately be renegotiated, the real problem is that with Trump’s policy of weaponizing trade agreements, no other country will enter into a trade agreement with the US.  As Robert Zoellick, the former United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) under President George W. Bush, stated on January 7th in the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “Trump Courts Economic Mayhem”:

“No country wants to do a bilateral deal with Mr. Trump now because he demands managed trade, not fair competition. He wants excuses to raise barriers, not rules to boost trade.”

As stated above, that is a huge problem for US farmers because almost 50% of farm products produced in the US are exported.

Because of this failure, if Trump keeps going down this road, the US may conclude no free trade agreements.  This would have a devastating impact on US exporters, including US agricultural companies.  The entire World is moving to free trade agreements and because of Most Favored Nation principle, the US with lower tariffs than many other countries would benefit the most.   Because of this reality, in my last blog post I suggested that Trump might want to renegotiate the TPP, but only under strict conditions.

Lo and behold, in January and February there were noises from the President and the Administration about coming back to the TPP.

On January 23rd, in an article entitled, “TPP Members Reach Agreement on Major Trade Pact”, the Wall Street Journal reported:

“TOKYO—Negotiators from 11 Pacific Rim nations agreed Tuesday on a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the Japanese minister in charge of TPP said, a year after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the talks.

Negotiators gathered again in Tokyo Tuesday and cleared away the remaining sticking points, said Toshimitsu Motegi, the Japanese minister handling the talks. He said the 11 nations aim to sign the agreement on March 8 in Chile. . . .

The TPP deal came just a half-day after the Trump administration slapped steep tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines, a move to implement Mr. Trump’s harder line on trade that he has touted since his election campaign.

Japan has depicted itself as a free-trade champion that can assume the kind of leadership role previously taken by U.S. administrations.

“Now in some parts of the world, there is a move toward protectionism, and I think the TPP-11 is a major engine to overcome such a phenomenon,” Mr. Motegi said.

He said the deal was “epoch-making for Japan as well as for the future of the Asia-Pacific region.” He also reiterated a hope frequently expressed by Japanese officials that once the 11- nation TPP is up and running, the U.S. might consider rejoining the deal.

The TPP agreement could also provide a framework for a future Nafta deal should the current one be scrapped by the Trump administration, according to people familiar with the trade talks. Senior Mexican officials see the TPP agreement as an indication that the free-trade train is rolling forward with regional pacts, with or without the U.S. aboard, as Nafta is being renegotiated.”

On January 26, 2018, during a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump discussed trade and eventually turned to the TPP stating:

“The United States is prepared to negotiate mutually beneficial, bilateral trade agreements with all countries. This will include the countries in TPP, which are very important. We have agreements with several of them already. We would consider negotiating with the rest, either individually, or perhaps as a group, if it is in the interests of all.”

In response to a question in an interview with CNBC’s Joe Kerne, Trump further stated:

“I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal.  The deal was terrible, the way it was structured was terrible. If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP.”

During his Davos address, however, Trump did not mention the TPP and instead put forth a very tough statement on trade:

“The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices, including massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies, and pervasive state-led economic planning.  These and other predatory behaviors are distorting the global markets and harming businesses and workers, not just in the U.S., but around the globe.”

In line with the tough stance against international trade, during Davos Economic Forum, on January 24th, in an article entitled, “U.S. Commerce Secretary Slams Beijing for Protectionist Actions Under Free-Trade Rhetoric” the Wall Street Journal reported:

“The Chinese have for quite a little while been superb at free-trade rhetoric and even more superb at highly protectionist activities,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told a trade panel Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland. Mr. Ross went on to blame both Beijing and the European Union for unfairly benefiting from higher tariffs and challenged the other two big economies to lower their import duties to U.S. levels.

“We really are the least protectionist, and unfortunately we have the trade deficits to show for it,” Mr. Ross said.

The Trump administration is seeking to push its own trade message at the annual Davos economic gathering, which is closely linked to globalization and multilateralism. Mr. Ross backed the administration’s bilateral approach to negotiating trade agreements and defended President Donald Trump’s exit from the unratified 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement a year earlier, saying there was “no political appetite” for the pact in either party.”

But then the TPP story continued to grow.  During his visit to Tokyo last year in 2017, Vice President Mike Pence stated as far as the Trump administration is concerned, the TPP is a “thing of the past.” But during his most recent trip to Tokyo in February 2018, his tune seemed to change.  On February 7th, Kyodo News reported that in discussions with Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Vice President Pence “referred to the possibility of the United States returning to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal.”  Apparently, Pence’s statement was in response to a question from the Deputy Prime Minster about Trump’s statement at Davos.  Apparently, Pence and Aso then exchanged views on the strategic importance of the TPP.

On January 31st, the famous economist Robert Samuelson in an article in Investors Business Daily entitled “Trump Dumped TPP A Year Ago – -What Did it Accomplish” stated:

“As President Trump appraises the state of the union, it’s worth remembering what still ranks as one of the worst decisions of his presidency: the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. It happened just about a year ago.

You’ll recall that the TPP was an agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries — Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile and Peru — representing about 40% of the world economy.

Rejecting the TPP was, for Trump, a highly symbolic act buttressing his assertions that the United States has made bad trade deals that have diverted jobs, incomes and influence to foreign countries. He pledged to do better.

The reality is just the opposite, as a short analysis by economist Jeffrey Schott of the Peterson Institute makes clear. It turns out that the other 11 countries weren’t willing to sacrifice the TPP’s benefits. They decided to adopt the agreement anyway — without the United States — calling it the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or (a mouthful) CPTPP. It’s scheduled to be signed on March 8 in Chile.

The new agreement makes the United States “the biggest loser” from the whole TPP episode, writes Schott. For starters, there will be lower exports and incomes. Economic simulations done by researchers at the Peterson Institute estimated that the TPP would ultimately raise U.S. gross domestic product by $131 billion, or 0.5% of GDP. Those gains are now gone.

Schott notes that a number of TPP provisions advocated by the United States but opposed “by most other countries” have been dropped in the new agreement. These include “obligations regarding patents on certain pharmaceutical products, procedures involving investor-state disputes, prohibitions on the illegal taking and trade in wildlife” and restrictions on government-owned firms.

The biggest winner in the TPP episode is, almost certainly, China. Although China wasn’t a member of the TPP, Trump’s decision to withdraw leaves other Pacific-rim countries less dependent on the United States for their trade and more dependent on China — and, therefore, more subject to Chinese economic and political influence.

Rarely has the United States embraced a policy that, in contrast to the supporting rhetoric, is so contrary to its own interests. Even Trump may recognize this. In his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he hinted obliquely that he might resume negotiations with the other TPP nations “if it is in the interests of all.”

The open question now is whether the president will repeat his mistake by repudiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the trade pact among the United States, Mexico and Canada that Trump has sharply criticized. The damage would be even greater.”

During the time when the TPP was being discussed in Congress, its passage was in trouble because many Senators and Congressmen believed the US did not get enough and many Senators and Congressmen wanted a a better deal.  But now there is no deal and the costs of not doing the TPP are becoming clearer.

On February 16th, 25 Republican Senators, many from agriculture states, such as Hatch, Grassley, Ernst, Enzi, Gardner, McCain and Daines, sent the attached letter to President Trump, 021618 Letter to POTUS on TPP1, strongly urging him to rejoin the Trans Pacific Partnership stating:

“Mr. President:

We write in support of your recent comments expressing interest in re-engaging with the Trans­ Pacific Partnership (TPP) to bring about a stronger agreement for the United States. Reducing barriers to trade and investment, protecting American intellectual property rights, and leveling the playing field for U.S. businesses, manufacturers, farmers, fishermen, and ranchers is of utmost importance, and we ask that you prioritize engagement with the TPP so that the American people can prosper from the tremendous opportunities that these trading partners bring.

As you know, increased economic engagement with the eleven nations currently in the TPP has the potential to substantially improve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, support millions of U.S. jobs, increase U.S. exports, increase wages, fully unleash America’s energy potential, and benefit consumers. Increasing access to a region and market that has a population of nearly 500 million can create widespread benefits to the U.S. economy. An improved TPP would therefore bolster and sustain the economic growth America has experienced over the past year facilitated by the regulatory reductions and reforms enacted by your Administration and the substantial tax cuts that you signed into law.

Further, TPP can serve as a way to strengthen ties with our allies in the region, counter the influence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and increase pressure on the PRC to adopt substantive and positive economic reforms. Re-engaging on TPP would also provide another platform to modernize trade with Canada and Mexico. . . .

In summary, we encourage you to work aggressively to secure reforms that would allow the United States to join the agreement. We share your commitment for free trade agreements that benefit the American people, and we stand ready to work closely with you toward achieving a TPP agreement that meets this objective.”

As predicted many times in prior blog posts, the costs of not joining the TPP are becoming clearer and clearer and the real economic pain of not joining the TPP is also becoming starkly clear.

RETALIATION BEGINS– FIRST SORGHUM GRAIN NEXT SOYBEANS??

As stated above, when the US imposes trade restrictions, US trading partners will respond with their own trade restrictions retaliating against US exports.  But Trump and the average American may simply believe that neither the EC nor China will retaliate against US exports, causing economic pain to the US.  Think again as the retaliation has already started and it will hurt.

MOFCOM SELF-INITIATED ANTIDUMPING (“AD”) AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY (“CVD”) CASES AGAINST SORGHUM GRAIN FROM THE US

On December 1, 2017, in the first time in over a decade, the Commerce Department self-initiated an antidumping and countervailing duty case against imports of aluminum sheet from China.

On February 4, 2018, the Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) in China retaliated by self-initiating its own antidumping and countervailing duty case against imports of US sorghum grain.  Total China imports of US Sorghum Grain in 2016 were 5,869,000 tons worth more than $1.26 billion USD.

Notices of appearance are due at MOFCOM by February 24th.

Although the Trump Administration and many Americans may believe that the US government does not provide subsidies to its producers, as mentioned in the MOFCOM announcement, it will be investigating large US agricultural subsidies for sorghum grain, such as Crop Insurance Program, Price Loss Protection Program, Agricultural Risk Protection Program, Marketing Loan Program, Export Credit Guarantee Program, Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Partner Program.

Some of the US companies that may be the targets of this MOFCOM action are: Agniel Commodities, LLC, Attebury Grain, LLC, Big River Resources, Bluegrass Farms of Ohio, Inc., Bunge North America, Inc., Cardinal Ethanol, LLC, Cargill, Inc., Consolidated Grain and Barge Co., DeLong Company  Inc., Enerfo USA, Inc., Fornazor International Inc., Freepoint Commodities LLC, Gavilon, Illinois Corn Processing, LLC, International Feed, Louis Dreyfus Commodities, Marquis Grain Inc., Mirasco Inc., Pacific Ethanol, Inc., Perdue AgriBusiness, LLC, The Scoular Company, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, LLC, Tharaldson Ethanol Plant I, LLC, United Wisconsin Grain Producers, and Zeeland Farm Services.

This case is important because it signals the possible start of a trade war with China.  The US self-initiates antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China; China self-initiates antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the US.

SOYBEANS?

On February 7th, Bloomberg reported that the Chinese government is looking at possibly self-initiating trade cases against Chinese imports of US soybeans.  In the article entitled, “China Studying Impact of Trade Measures Against U.S. Soy, Sources Say” Bloomberg stated:

“China is studying the potential impact of trade measures imposed on soybeans imported from the U.S., valued last year at $13.9 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Speculation is mounting over China’s response to U.S. tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines announced last month. The Ministry of Commerce has been looking into the consequences of measures against U.S. soybeans since January . . . . That includes anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes. . . .

China’s soybean imports have climbed to a record as expansion in large-scale livestock farming and a shortage of protein-rich feed grains boost soy-meal consumption. While the U.S. counts China as its biggest soybean market, the Asian country last year bought more of the oilseed from Brazil.”

If Section 232 Tariffs are imposed against US imports of EC Steel, the EC is planning to retaliate immediately against US exports of Harley Davidson Motorcycles from Wisconsin (Paul Ryan Republican Speaker of the House) and Jack Daniels Bourbon from Kentucky (Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate Majority).

SECTION 232 STEEL AND ALUMINUM CASES—THE REAL TRADE WAR BEGINS

President Trump must make a decision in the Section 232 National Security Cases against imports of steel and aluminum by April 11, 2018 in the Steel Case and April 19, 2018 in the Aluminum case. This article will concentrate on the Steel 232 case and mention Aluminum at the end because the Steel case is bigger, but both cases will have devastating consequences on downstream US producers and through retaliation on US exports.  Truthfully, if President Trump does what Commerce Secretary Ross is recommending and imposes very high tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, he will ignite a trade war with many other countries, which will become red hot.  This will be a shooting trade war with retaliation aimed at US exports and this protectionism will become destructionism—killing US jobs.

Trump’s decisions in these two Section 232 cases will give us a much better idea of whether President Trump wants a trade war or not.  Both the EC, China and other countries are drawing up retaliation lists aimed at US exports of various products.

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

Commerce held a hearing on May 24th in this case.  The video of the hearing can be found at https://www.commerce.gov/file/public-hearing-section-232-investigation-steel-imports-national-security.

Under the terms of the executive order, the interagency group was to present a report to the White House within 270 days that identifies goods that are essential for national security and analyzes the ability of the defense industrial base to produce those goods.

Since the Secretary reported affirmatively, the President has 90 days to determine whether it concurs with the Secretary’s determination and “determine the nature and duration of the action that, in the judgment of the President, must be taken to adjust the imports of the article and its derivatives so that such imports will not threaten to impair the national security” – – April 11, 2018 in the Steel Case and April 19, 2018 in the Aluminum case.

Although Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pledged to get the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum reports to President Trump’s desk by the end of June 2017, that did not happen as the Administration began to realize the impact a broad tariff on steel or aluminum raw material inputs would have on downstream users, which are dependent on high quality, competitively priced raw materials to produce competitive downstream products made from steel and aluminum.

On February 16, 2018, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross released to the public the attached Section 232 National Security reports on Steel and Aluminum, Section 232 Reports _ Department of Commerce the_effect_of_imports_of_aluminum_on_the_national_security_-_with_redactions_-_20180117 the_effect_of_imports_of_steel_on_the_national_security_-_with_redactions_-_20180111.  These Reports recommend substantial Import restraints on imports of steel and aluminum.  In the attached statement accompanying the reports, Section 232 Reports _ Department of Commerce, Secretary Ross stated:

“I am glad that we were able to provide this analysis and these recommendations to the President.  I look forward to his decision on any potential course of action.”

In response to questions of whether the US would be vulnerable to challenges in the WTO, Ross said he would not be surprised if some countries filed World Trade Organization challenges, but he was confident that the United States was on firm legal ground.  Ross went on to state:

“National security is a very broadly encompassing topic … it is not just the narrow definition of defense needs, it also covers infrastructure needs and other needs.  So we believe and our counsel believes that this is a perfectly valid interpretation of national security the way that it’s used in Section 232, which is much broader than you might think in terms of usual parlance.”

STEEL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The Commerce Department statement accompanying the Steel Report summarizes the findings and sets out the remedies recommended by the Department:

“The Department of Commerce found that the quantities and circumstances of steel and aluminum imports “threaten to impair the national security,” as defined by Section 232.

The reports are currently under consideration by the President, and no final decisions have been made with regard to their contents. The President may take a range of actions, or no action, based on the analysis and recommendations provided in the reports. Action could include making modifications to the courses of action proposed, such as adjusting percentages.

STEEL SUMMARY

The Commerce Department statement accompanying the Steel Report summarized the Key Findings of the Steel Report as follows:

The United States is the world’s largest importer of steel. Our imports are nearly four times our exports.

Six basic oxygen furnaces and four electric furnaces have closed since 2000 and employment has dropped by 35% since 1998.

World steelmaking capacity is 2.4 billion metric tons, up 127% from 2000, while steel demand grew at a slower rate.

The recent global excess capacity is 700 million tons, almost 7 times the annual total of U.S. steel consumption. China is by far the largest producer and exporter of steel, and the largest source of excess steel capacity. Their excess capacity alone exceeds the total U.S. steel-making capacity.

On an average month, China produces nearly as much steel as the U.S. does in a year. For certain types of steel, such as for electrical transformers, only one U.S. producer remains.

As of February 15, 2018, the U.S. had 169 antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place on steel, of which 29 are against China, and there are 25 ongoing investigations.

Recommendations of the Steel Report:

Secretary Ross has recommended to the President that he consider the following alternative remedies to address the problem of steel imports:

A global tariff of at least 24% on all steel imports from all countries, or

A tariff of at least 53% on all steel imports from 12 countries (Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam) with a quota by product on steel imports from all other countries equal to 100% of their 2017 exports to the United States, or

A quota on all steel products from all countries equal to 63% of each country’s 2017 exports to the United States.

Each of these remedies is intended to increase domestic steel production from its present 73% of capacity to approximately an 80% operating rate, the minimum rate needed for the long-term viability of the industry. Each remedy applies measures to all countries and all steel products to prevent circumvention.

The tariffs and quotas would be in addition to any duties already in place. The report recommends that a process be put in place to allow the Secretary to grant requests from U.S. companies to exclude specific products if the U.S. lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations.

Any exclusions granted could result in changed tariffs or quotas for the remaining products to maintain the overall effect.”

ACTUAL SECTION 232 STEEL REPORT

In the actual Section 232 Steel report itself, the Department stated:

“CONCLUSION

The Secretary has determined that the displacement of domestic steel by excessive imports and the consequent adverse impact of those quantities of steel imports on the economic welfare of the domestic steel industry, along with the circumstance of global excess capacity in steel, are “weakening our internal economy” and therefore “threaten to impair” the national security as defined in Section 232.

The continued rising levels of imports of foreign steel threaten to impair the national security by placing the U.S. steel industry at substantial risk of displacing the basic oxygen furnace and other steelmaking capacity, and the related supply chain needed to produce steel for critical infrastructure and national defense.

In considering “the impact of foreign competition on the economic welfare of individual domestic [steel] industries” and other factors Congress expressly outlined in Section 232, the Secretary has determined that the continued decline and concentration in steel production capacity is “weakening of our internal economy and may impair national security.” See 19 U.S.C. § 1862(d).

Global excess steel capacity is a circumstance that contributes to the “weakening of our internal economy” that “threaten[s] to impair” the national security as defined in Section 232. Free markets globally are adversely affected by substantial chronic global excess steel production led by China. While U.S. steel production capacity has remained flat since 2001, other steel producing nations have increased their production capacity, with China alone able to produce as much steel as the rest of the world combined. This overhang of excess capacity means that U.S. steel producers, for the foreseeable future, will face increasing competition from imported steel as other countries export more steel to the United States to bolster their own economic objectives.

Since defense and critical infrastructure requirements alone are not sufficient to support a robust steel industry, U.S. steel producers must be financially viable and competitive in the commercial market to be available to produce the needed steel output in a timely and cost efficient manner. In fact, it is the ability to quickly shift production capacity used for commercial products to defense and critical infrastructure production that provides the United States a surge capability that is vital to national security, especially in an unexpected or extended conflict or national emergency. It is that capability which is now at serious risk; as imports continue to take business away from domestic producers, these producers are in danger of falling below minimum viable scale and are at risk of having to exit the market and substantially close down production capacity, often permanently.

Steel producers in the United States are facing widespread harm from mounting imports. Growing global steel capacity, flat or declining world demand, the openness of the U.S. steel market, and the price differential between U.S. market prices and global market prices (often caused by foreign government steel intervention) ensures that the U.S. will remain an attractive market for foreign steel absent quotas or tariffs. Excessive imports of steel, now consistently above 30 percent of domestic demand, have displaced domestic steel production, the related skilled workforce, and threaten the ability of this critical industry to maintain economic viability.

A U.S. steel industry that is not financially viable to invest in the latest technologies, facilities, and long-term research and development, nor retain skilled workers while attracting a next-generation workforce, will be unable to meet the current and projected needs of the U.S. military and critical infrastructure sectors. Moreover, the market environment for U.S. steel producers has deteriorated dramatically since the 2001 Report, when the Department concluded that imports of iron ore and semi-finished steel do not “fundamentally threaten” the ability of U.S. industry to meet national security needs.

The Department’s investigation indicates that the domestic steel industry has declined to a point where further closures and consolidation of basic oxygen furnace facilities represents a “weakening of our internal economy” as defined in Section 232.  The more than 50 percent reduction in the number of basic oxygen furnace facilities – either through closures or idling of facilities due to import competition – increases the chance of further closures that place the United States at serious risk of being unable to increase production to the levels needed in past national emergencies. The displacement of domestic product by excessive imports is having the serious effect of causing the domestic industry to operate at unsustainable levels, reducing employment, diminishing research and development, inhibiting capital expenditures, and causing a loss of vital skills and know-how. The present capacity operating rates for those remaining plants continue to be below those needed for financial sustainability. These conditions have been further exacerbated by the 22 percent surge in imports thus far in 2017 compared with 2016. Imports are now consistently above 30 percent of U.S. domestic demand.

It is evident that the U.S. steel industry is being substantially impacted by the current levels of imported steel. The displacement of domestic steel by imports has the serious effect of placing the United States at risk of being unable meet national security requirements. The Secretary has determined that the “displacement of domestic [steel] products by excessive imports” of steel is having the “serious effect” of causing the “weakening of our internal economy.” See 19 U.S.C. § 1862(d). Therefore, the Secretary recommends that the President take corrective action pursuant to the authority granted by Section 232. See 19 U.S.C. § 1862(c).

RECOMMENDATION

Prior significant actions to address steel imports (quotas and/or tariffs) were taken under various statutory authorities . . . all at lower levels of import penetration than the present level, which is above 30 percent.

Due to the threat of steel imports to the national security, as defined in Section 232, the Secretary recommends that the President take immediate action by adjusting the level of imports through quotas or tariffs on steel imported into the United States, as well as direct additional actions to keep the U.S. steel industry financially viable and able to meet U.S. national security needs. The quota or tariff imposed should be sufficient, after accounting for any exclusions, to enable the U.S. steel producers to be able to operate at about an 80 percent or better of the industry’s capacity utilization rate based on available capacity in 2017. . . .

By reducing import penetration rates to approximately 21 percent, U.S. industry would be able to operate at 80 percent of their capacity utilization. Achieving this level of capacity utilization based on the projected 2017 import levels will require reducing imports from 36 million metric tons to about 23 million metric tons. If a reduction in imports can be combined with an increase in domestic steel demand, as can be reasonably expected rising economic growth rates combined with the increased military spending and infrastructure proposals that the Trump Administration has planned, then U.S. steel mills can be expected to reach a capacity utilization level of 80 percent or greater. This increase in U.S. capacity utilization will enable U.S. steel mills to increase operations significantly in the short-term and improve the financial viability of the industry over the long-term.

Recommendation to Ensure Sustainable Capacity Utilization and Financial Health

Impose a Quota or Tariff on all steel products covered in this investigation imported into the United States to remove the threatened impairment to national security. The Secretary recommends adjusting the level of imports through a quota or tariff on steel imported into the United States.

Alternative 1 – Global Quota or Tariff

1A.      Global Quota

Impose quotas on all imported steel products at a specified percent of the 2017 import level, applied on a country and steel product basis.

According to the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Model, produced by Purdue University, a 63 percent quota would be expected to reduce steel imports by 37 percent (13.3 million metric tons) from 2017 levels. Based on imports from January to October, import levels for 2017 are projected to reach 36.0 million metric tons. The quotas, adjusted as necessary, would result in imports equaling about 22.7 million metric tons, which will enable an 80 percent capacity utilization rate at 2017 demand levels (including exports). Application of an annual quota will reduce the impact of the surge in steel imports that has occurred since the beginning of 2017.

1B.      Global Tariff

Apply a tariff rate on all imported steel products, in addition to any antidumping or countervailing duty collections applicable to any imported steel product.

Similar to what is anticipated under a quota, according to the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Model, produced by Purdue University, a 24 percent tariff on all steel imports would be expected to reduce imports by 37 percent (i.e., a reduction of 13.3 million metric tons from 2017 levels of 36.0 million metric tons). This tariff rate would thus result in imports equaling about 22.7 million metric tons, which will enable an 80 percent capacity utilization rate at 2017 demand levels (including exports).

Alternative 2 –Tariffs on a Subset of Countries

Apply a tariff rate on all imported steel products from Brazil, South Korea, Russia, Turkey, India, Vietnam, China, Thailand, South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia and Costa Rica, in addition to any antidumping or countervailing duty collections applicable to any steel products from those countries. All other countries would be limited to 100 percent of their 2017 import level.

According to the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Model, produced by Purdue University, a 53 percent tariff on all steel imports from this subset of countries would be expected to reduce imports by 13.3 million metric tons from 2017 import levels from the targeted countries. This action would enable an increase in domestic production to achieve an 80 percent capacity utilization rate at 2017 demand levels (including exports). The countries identified are projected to account for less than 4 percent of U.S. steel exports in 2017.

Exemptions

In selecting an alternative, the President could determine that specific countries should be exempted from the proposed 63 percent quota or 24 percent tariff by granting those specific countries 100 percent of their prior imports in 2017, based on an overriding economic or security interest of the United States. The Secretary recommends that any such determination should be made at the outset and a corresponding adjustment be made to the final quota or tariff imposed on the remaining countries. This would ensure that overall imports of steel to the United States remain at or below the level needed to enable the domestic steel industry to operate as a whole at an 80 percent or greater capacity utilization rate. The limitation to 100 percent of each exempted country’s 2017 imports is necessary to prevent exempted countries from producing additional steel for export to the United States or encouraging other countries to seek to trans-ship steel to the United States through the exempted countries.

It is possible to provide exemptions from either the quota or tariff and still meet the necessary objective of increasing U.S. steel capacity utilization to a financially viable target of 80 percent. However, to do so would require a reduction in the quota or increase in the tariff applied to the remaining countries to offset the effect of the exempted import tonnage.

Exclusions

The Secretary recommends an appeal process by which affected U.S. parties could seek an exclusion from the tariff or quota imposed. The Secretary would grant exclusions based on a demonstrated: (1) lack of sufficient U.S. production capacity of comparable products; or (2) specific national security based considerations. This appeal process would include a public comment period on each exclusion request, and in general, would be completed within 90 days of a completed application being filed with the Secretary.

An exclusion may be granted for a period to be determined by the Secretary and may be terminated if the conditions that gave rise to the exclusion change. The U.S. Department of Commerce will lead the appeal process in coordination with the Department of Defense and other agencies as appropriate. Should exclusions be granted the Secretary would consider at the time whether the quota or tariff for the remaining products needs to be adjusted to increase U.S. steel capacity utilization to a financially viable target of 80 percent.”

RETALIATION??

On February 17, 2018, the Chinese government threatened retaliation if President Trump imposes import restrictions on steel imports.  On February 20, 2018, EC officials stated that they would react “swiftly and appropriately” to Section 232 tariffs placed on EC steel imports into the US.  See https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/921415/harley-davidson-jack-daniels-trade-sanctions-european-union-trade-war-us.

Two of the EC retaliation targets would be Harley Davidson motorcycles and Jack Daniels Bourbon.

WILL PRESIDENT TRUMP IMPOSE IMPORT RESTRICTIONS IN THE SECTION 232 STEEL CASE BY APRIL 11?

My firm belief is that Trump will impose import restraints and the only question is how tough they will be.  Although other commentators have suggested that President Trump might punt and bring a WTO case or more antidumping and countervailing duty cases, my belief is that President Trump wants to levy tariffs because that is what he promised his base. “Damn the torpedoes full speed ahead”.  Trump also believes that all steel imported into the US is dumped and subsidized as the Commerce Department finds dumping and subsidization in almost 100% of the cases.

On February 13th, Breitbart in an article entitled “Chinese Steel Dumping Takes Center Stage as President Trump Mulls Tariffs, Quotas” quoted President Trump in a meeting at the White House with both parties in the House and the Senate:

“Last year, I directed the Secretary of Commerce to investigate whether steel and aluminum imports are threatening to impair U.S. national security,” Trump said. “You see what’s happened with our steel and aluminum industries. They are being decimated by dumping from many countries—in particular one, but many countries.”

That “particular one” Trump was referring to is China. Trump said:

“They are dumping and destroying our industry and destroying the families of workers and we can’t let that happen. Secretary Ross submitted the result of the investigation to me last month. My administration is now reviewing the reports and considering all options. Part of the options would be tariffs coming in as they dump steel, they pay tariffs—substantial tariffs—and the United States would actually make a lot of money, and probably our steel industry and our aluminum industry would come back into our country. Right now, it’s decimated. It will make a decision and I will make a decision that reflects the best interests of the United States including the need to address over-production in China and other countries. You have countries that are so over-producing and what they’re doing is they’re dumping it on us and you look at what empty steel factories and plants and it’s a very sad thing to look at. I’ve been looking at it for two years as I went around campaigning.”

But on February 13th, International Trade 360 in an article entitled, “Lawmakers Caution Trump On Steel Trade Restrictions,” reported:

“A bipartisan group of 19 lawmakers from both chambers of Congress met with Trump at the White House, in a session that was slated to take place behind closed doors before it was abruptly opened up to media members. During the meeting, Trump made clear he is still actively considering import curbs on steel and aluminum in a pair of closely watched cases.

“I want to keep prices down, but I also want to make sure that we have a steel industry and an aluminum industry, and we do need that for national defense. If we ever have a conflict, we don’t want to be buying steel for a country we are fighting … What we are talking about is tariffs and/or quotas,” he said at the meeting. . . .

Though the statute is meant to exclusively address a security threat, the administration has repeatedly signaled that it may use the law as a cudgel against unfairly traded goods. Trump did this again during Tuesday’s meeting, saying that foreign steel and aluminum producers are “dumping and decimating our industries.”

While domestic steel and aluminum producers have repeatedly urged the administration to move forward with steep import restrictions, downstream manufacturers and other stakeholders have preached caution.

Leading that charge at Tuesday’s meeting was Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who said that the president must thread a delicate needle.

“We need to be careful here that we don’t start a reciprocal battle on tariffs,” Blunt said. “We make aluminum, and we make steel in Missouri, but we buy a lot of aluminum, and we buy a lot of steel as well.”

In one exchange, Sen. Pat Toomey (R‐Pa.) pressed Trump to move “very, very cautiously” and to only go after countries that engage in unfair trading practices. “That’s all countries,” Trump replied.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., echoed Blunt’s concerns, urging the president to “go very, very cautiously here.”

In another, Sen. Mike Lee (R‐Utah) warned that restrictions could cost jobs in other industries, but the president dismissed his concerns. “It will create a lot of jobs,” Trump said.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, gave an even blunter assessment of the situation. He likened the Section 232 process to the use of “old- fashioned chemotherapy,” remarking that “it can often do as much damage as good.”

As other lawmakers warned that any tariff hikes or other restrictions could ultimately raise prices on consumers, Trump seemed mostly undeterred, opting instead to focus on the steel and aluminum production jobs such a move might salvage.

“You may have a higher price, but you have jobs,” he said.

“If we ever have a conflict, we don’t want to be buying steel from a country that we’re fighting because somehow that doesn’t work very well,” Trump said at the meeting. “We hopefully will not have any conflicts but … we cannot be without a steel industry. We cannot be without an aluminum industry. So what we’re talking about is tariffs and/or quotas.”

On February 19, 2018, in an editorial the Wall Street Journal warned President Trump on the Section 232 Cases:

“How to Punish American Workers

Steel and aluminum tariffs would cost more jobs than they save.

The economy is picking up steam, but President Trump could reduce the benefits of his tax cuts and regulatory rollback with protectionism. This risk became more serious after the Commerce Department on Friday recommended broad restrictions on aluminum and steel imports that would punish American businesses and consumers. . . .

But the evidence in Commerce’s reports belies this conclusion. And the wide-ranging economic damage from restricting imports would overwhelm the narrow benefits to U.S. steel and aluminum makers.

Start with national security, which Commerce construes broadly to include “economic welfare.” There’s little risk that the U.S. couldn’t procure sufficient steel and aluminum for defense even during a war. Defense consumes 3% of U.S.-made steel and about one-fifth of high-purity aluminum. U.S. steel mills last year operated at 72% of capacity while aluminum smelters ran at 39%. Both have ample slack to raise production for defense and commercial demands. . . .

Commerce nonetheless complains that China has driven down steel and aluminum prices by flooding the global market. Yet Commerce has already imposed 164 anti-dumping and countervailing duties on steel imports including more than two dozen on China. The department has also slapped tariffs on Chinese aluminum. Despite these tariffs, Commerce says rising imports “continue to weaken the U.S. steel industry’s financial health.”

Perhaps Mr. Ross missed the domestic manufacturers’ rosy earnings reports last month. Nucor ’s earnings soared by two-thirds in 2017 to $1.3 billion amid a 35% spike in the price of scrap metal. Steel Dynamics reported record sales, income and shipments last year. Even U.S. Steel posted a $387 million profit after a $440 million loss in 2016. Tariffs have padded profits amid growing U.S. demand.

As for aluminum, 18 smelters have shut down over the last decade amid rising electricity and declining aluminum prices. But production of secondary aluminum from scrap metal has been increasing, resulting in a 3% increase in employment across the industry between 2013 and 2016.

As a remedy for this non-problem, Commerce is proposing a global tariff of 24% on all steel imports; a 53% tariff on a dozen countries including China, Turkey and South Korea; or a global quota equaling 63% of existing imports. For aluminum, Commerce wants a global tariff of 7.7%; a 23.6% tariff on imports from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela, and Vietnam; or a global quota equal to 86.7% of imports.

Each option would raise prices for U.S. industries such as construction, transportation and mining. About 16 times more workers are employed today in U.S. steel-consuming industries than the 140,000 American steelworkers. Economists Joseph Francois and Laura Baughman found that more U.S. workers lost jobs (200,000) due to George W. Bush’s 2002 steel tariffs than were employed by the entire steel industry (187,500) at the time. Job losses hit Ohio (10,553 jobs lost), Michigan (9,829) and Pennsylvania (8,400).

About a quarter of a car’s cost is tied to steel, which is also a key component of domestically-produced wood chipper knives used in lumber, sawmills and landscaping. The oil-and-gas industry uses steel in drilling equipment, pipelines, production facilities, terminals and refineries. Aluminum inputs make up nearly half of the cost of a beer can.

Raising the cost of steel and aluminum inputs would impel many manufacturers to move production abroad to stay competitive globally. Does Mr. Trump want more cars made in Mexico? Mr. Ross has suggested letting businesses petition the government to exclude certain steel and aluminum products from the quotas or tariffs. But this review would be politicized and cause production delays.

Oh, and don’t forget that other countries could retaliate with trade barriers that hurt American exporters.

Commerce’s recommendations aren’t needed since the steel and aluminum industries are benefiting tremendously from Mr. Trump’s economic agenda. Tax reform is making it less expensive to retool mills, increased defense spending will also lift demand, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s withdrawal of the Obama Clean Power Plan contains electric prices. Why would Mr. Trump undercut his achievements with trade barriers that harm American workers and consumers?”

RETALIATION TARGETS ARE BEING PLANNED

EUROPEAN UNION

Axel Eggert, director general of the EUROFER steel lobby, warned the U.S. not to “pull the trigger on a new trade war,” adding: “The EU has an arsenal of trade remedies and safeguards available to defend its interests. These can be ready to launch in very short order in response to an economic threat, and EU industry will demand their immediate application.”

Gerd Götz, director general of the European Aluminum association, said that none of Ross’ proposed measures would address the root of the problem, which is Chinese overproduction, but instead do “great harm to Europe” ‐ to which the EU would then have to react by imposing trade restrictions, too.  Gotz stated: “We call on the EU to be ready to protect our strategic sectors.”

US GROUPS RAISE RETALIATION CONCERNS

“Business Roundtable also stated that it is concerned that acting on the Commerce Department’s recommendations to use Section 232 to restrict steel and aluminum imports will result in foreign retaliation against U.S. exporters and harm the U.S. economy.

The American Automotive Policy Council, which represents Ford, General Motors and Chrysler‐Fiat, asked Trump to fashion a solution that won’t “diminish the global competitiveness of America’s automotive industry” by leading American carmakers to pay higher prices for steel and aluminum. This would place the U.S. automotive industry, which supports more than 7 million American jobs, at a competitive disadvantage.”

The American Institute for International Steel, which represents foreign steel producers, made the same point and urged Trump to reject Ross’ recommendations, rather than “risk the nation’s well‐being in order to benefit a few politically favored companies.”

AIIS Chairman John Foster stated:

“The national security foundation for the recommended tariffs and quotas is simply an unfortunate attempt to circumvent normally applicable WTO rules.  If the United States chooses to abandon long‐standing principles of free trade that we have helped establish, and that have contributed so much to our national prosperity, Pandora’s box will be opened, and other countries will be sure to assert ‘national security’ reasons for protecting many other politically sensitive products from export competition.

The retaliatory measures that will follow will drive up manufacturing costs, inflate prices, shrink high‐value U.S. exports, and push the United States and the world toward recession.”

On February 21st, in Investors Business Daily in a op-ed piece entitled “Seriously, Steel Industry Protection Is The Wrong Way To Go“, Vernonique de Rugy and Christine A. McDaniel stated:

Their justification is that Chinese and other foreign steel producers benefit from unfair subsidies in their own countries. As a result of foreign competition, domestic steel’s market share is down to 70%. Numbers like this would make any other business owner’s head spin, but these executives think they deserve more. . . .

But for years this industry has avoided competition. As a result, they have not taken the tough steps needed to lean up and succeed on their own. With decades of special protections, billions in subsidies, and bloated executive compensation packages, it is no wonder U.S. producers are not competitive in this market with a low-wage country like China.

Thanks to his statements like last summer’s “Tariffs. I want tariffs,” these well- organized domestic steel executives see an opportunity with a president overly sympathetic to their pleas.

In an ideal world, no government would bankroll domestic companies. The urge to protect our own people against aggressive foreign subsidies is understandable, but not all protections actually help our country.

In particular, import taxes are known to be a net negative for the overall U.S. economy, and with intermediate inputs like steel the costs are more severe. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 5.4 million workers are directly employed by steel-using sectors. The American Iron and Steel Institute reports that the steel industry directly employs 140,000 people in the United States. . . .

The steel industry’s historic unwillingness to compete and the government’s continued handouts are why they are in such poor shape today. It is why they are at the doorstep of the White House yet again asking the president, along with every American consumer, for help.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

ALUMINUM

The full Section 232 Commerce report on aluminum is attached, the_effect_of_imports_of_aluminum_on_the_national_security_-_with_redactions_-_20180117.  The attached Commerce Department Summary statement on the Aluminum report, Section 232 Reports _ Department of Commerce, states as follows:

Key Findings of the Aluminum Report:

Aluminum imports have risen to 90% of total demand for primary aluminum, up from 66% in 2012. From 2013 to 2016 aluminum industry employment fell by 58%, 6 smelters shut down, and only two of the remaining 5 smelters are operating at capacity, even though demand has grown considerably.

At today’s reduced military spending, military consumption of aluminum is a small percentage of total consumption and therefore is insufficient by itself to preserve the viability of the smelters. For example, there is only one remaining U.S. producer of the high-quality aluminum alloy needed for military aerospace. Infrastructure, which is necessary for our economic security, is a major use of aluminum.

The Commerce Department has recently brought trade cases to try to address the dumping of aluminum. As of February 15, 2018, the U.S. had two antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place on aluminum, both against China, and there are four ongoing investigations against China.

Recommendations of the Aluminum Report:

Secretary Ross has recommended to President Trump three alternative remedies for dealing with the excessive imports of aluminum. These would cover both aluminum ingots and a wide variety of aluminum products.

A tariff of at least 7.7% on all aluminum exports from all countries, or

A tariff of 23.6% on all products from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam. All the other countries would be subject to quotas equal to 100% of their 2017 exports to the United States, or

A quota on all imports from all countries equal to a maximum of 86.7% of their 2017 exports to the United States.

Each of the three proposals is intended to raise production of aluminum from the present 48% average capacity to 80%, a level that would provide the industry with long-term viability. Each remedy applies measures to all countries and all steel products to prevent circumvention.

The tariffs and quotas would be in addition to any duties already in place. The report recommends that a process be put in place to allow the Secretary to grant requests from U.S. companies to exclude specific products if the U.S. lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations.

Any exclusions granted could result in changed tariffs or quotas for the remaining products to maintain the overall effect.

SECTION 201 ESCAPE CLAUSE SOLAR CELLS/WASHING MACHINE DECISIONS

On January 22, 2018 the United States Trade Representative’s office (“USTR”) announced affirmative Section 201 decisions in the Solar Cells and Washing Machines cases and issued tariffs.

But one interesting point is that the Suniva, the US company that filed the Section 201 Solar Cells case, is majority owned by a Chinese Solar Manufacturer, Shunfeng International Clean Energy Ltd.

The remedies for the two Section 201 are specifically set forth below.

SOLAR CELLS

In the Solar Cells case, the remedy is:

Safeguard Tariffs on Imported Solar Cells and Modules
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Tariff increase 30% 25% 20% 15%
  • First 2.5 gigawatt of imported cells are excluded from the additional tariff

But in talking to one small solar cell importer, at the most during the year they import a total of 1 megawatt.  This tells me that the new tariffs first will not be retroactive and second probably will kick in after several months each year, when total imports reach the 2.5 Gigawatt level.  According to the Presidential Proclamation, however, the 30% tariff wasapplied to imports starting February 7, 2018.

The 201 tariffs are applicable to imports from almost all countries, including China, Malaysia, Germany, Canada and Mexico, except for the countries excluded in the Annex attached to the Presidential Proclamation.  In future years, when total imports of solar cells and modules reach the 2.5 gigawatt level, the new tariff kicks in.  So, for example, if total imports of solar cells and modules into the US reach the 2.5 gigawatt level on May 15, 2019, imports after that will be hit with a tariff.

WASHING MACHINES

The Washing Machines Remedy is set forth below.  This is similar to the Solar Cells Remedy in the sense that the first 1.2 million washers will have a lower tariff and the higher tariff will not kick in until after total imports reach the 1.2 million unit level.

Also 50,000 units of covered parts are excluded from the tariff.

Tariff-Rate Quotas on Washers
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
First 1.2 million units of imported

finished washers

20% 18% 16%
All subsequent imports of finished

washers

50% 45% 40%
Tariff of covered parts 50% 45% 40%
Covered parts excluded from tariff 50,000 units 70,000 units 90,000 units

So the point of both remedies is import quickly into the US market.  The first imports into the country in the Solar Cells case will have no tariff and in the Washing Machines case will have a lower tariff.

JANUARY 25 PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION AND EXCLUSION NOTICE IN FEDERAL REGISTER

On January 25th, the Solar Cells Presidential Proclamation with Annexes and exclusions was published in the attached Federal Register notice, FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION SOLAR CELLS.  According to the Annex I (f), the 30% tariff was applied to imports starting February 7, 2018.

In addition, a number of countries are excluded in Annex 1(b) from the tariff, including India, Ukraine, Indonesia, Turkey and many other countries, so long as their share of imports does not exceed 3%.

On February 14, 2018, the United States Trade Representative’s office (“USTR”) published the attached Federal Register notice, USTR EXCLUSION FED REG NOTICE, and allows companies to petition for exclusion by March 16.  The Federal Register also sets forth a number of exclusions, which were already set forth in the Proclamation.

EXCLUSIONS IN ANNEXES

Some of those exclusions are:

“Presidential Proclamation 9693 of January 23, 2018 (83 FR 3541) excluded certain particular products:

10 to 60 watt, inclusive, rectangular solar panels, where the panels have the following characteristics: (A) Length of 250 mm or more but not over 482 mm or width of 400 mm or more but not over 635 mm, and (B) surface area of 1000 cm2 or more but not over 3,061 cm2), provided that no such panel with those characteristics shall contain an internal battery or external computer peripheral ports at the time of entry;

1 watt solar panels incorporated into nightlights that use rechargeable batteries and have the following dimensions: 58 mm or more but not over 64 mm by 126 mm or more but not over 140 mm;

2 watt solar panels incorporated into daylight dimmers, that may use rechargeable batteries, such panels with the following dimensions: 75 mm or more but not over 82 mm by 139 mm or more but not over 143 mm;

Off-grid and portable CSPV panels, whether in a foldable case or in rigid form containing a glass cover, where the panels have the following characteristics: (a) A total power output of 100 watts or less per panel; (b) a maximum surface area of 8,000 cm2 per panel; (c) does not include a built-in inverter; and where the panels have glass covers, such panels must be in individual retail packaging (in this context, retail packaging typically includes graphics, the product name, its description and/or features, and foam for transport);

3.19 watt or less solar panels, each with length of 75 mm or more but not over 266 mm and width of 46 mm or more but not over 127 mm, with surface area of 338 cm2 or less, with one black wire and one red wire (each of type 22 AWG or 24 AWG) not more than 206 mm in length when measured from panel edge, provided that no such panel shall contain an internal battery or external computer peripheral ports;

27.1 watt or less solar panels, each with surface area less than 3,000 cm2 and coated across the entire surface with a polyurethane doming resin, the foregoing joined to a battery charging and maintaining unit, such unit which is an acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (‘‘ABS’’) box that incorporates a light emitting diode (‘‘LED’’) by coated wires that include a connector to permit the incorporation of an extension cable.”

Emphasis added.

One exclusion that many companies are looking at is “off-grid and portable CSPV panels”, but there are a number of conditions quoted above that must be met to exclude the products in question.

Also the February 14th notice set up a number of criteria that must be met to get any additional exclusion from the Order.

COUNTRIES REQUEST TRADE COMPENSATION AT THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION (“WTO”) FOR SECTION 201 TARIFFS

Article 8.1 of the WTO Agreement on Safeguards, which includes Section 201 tariffs, requires countries proposing to impose a safeguard measure, like Trump’s restrictions on solar and washing machine imports, to compensate other WTO member countries for trade losses. That could be in the form of reduced duties on products of interest to those countries.

The EU, China, Taiwan and Korea have formally asked the U.S. to discuss compensation for trade losses due to President Donald Trump’s safeguard measures on solar cells.

If no agreement is reached on compensation within 30 days of their requests, the EU, China, Taiwan and South Korea can begin proceedings to impose retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. However, the parties would first need to prove to a WTO dispute settlement panel that the U.S. applied the restrictions in a way that violated the safeguards agreement.

In the past, the US has lost a number of Section 201 cases at the WTO for imposing tariffs in a manner that violated the safeguards agreement.

In addition, several Canadian solar manufacturers on Wednesday filed a case at the Court of International Trade in New York City challenging the Trump administration’s imposition of tariffs. The companies say the tariff violates NAFTA and they say the majority of the International Trade Commission found that Canadian solar manufacturers did not constitute a sufficient quantity of U.S. solar imports as to cause injury. They call on the court to enjoin the tariffs and then ask for an expedited resolution of the case.

SOLAR CELLS AND SOLAR PRODUCTS ANTIDUMPING/COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

POSSIBLE EXCLUSIONS??

The Commerce Department in the attached preliminary determination in late December, REVOCATION OF SOLAR CELLS ORDER, proposed to exclude certain small solar cells from the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders.  Specifically, the proposed exclusion is:

“Excluded from the scope of these orders are panels with surface area from 3,450 mm2 to 33,782 mm2 with one black wire and one red wire (each of type 22 AWG or 24 AWG not more than 206 mm in length when measured from panel extrusion), and not exceeding 2.9 volts, 1.1 amps, and 3.19 watts. No panel shall contain an internal battery or external computer peripheral ports.”

So exclusions are also happening from the AD and CVD orders.

2016-2017 SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING/COUNTERVAILING DUTY REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS

On February 23, 2018, Commerce published its attached Federal Register notice initiating the 2016-2017 Solar Cells Review Investigation, CHINA SOLAR CELLS REVIEW INITIATION NOTICE.  In that review, Quantity and Value Questionnaire responses are due at Commerce by March 6, 2018.

NEW SECTION 232 CASE AGAINST URANIUM IMPORTS

On January 16th, Ur-Energy USA Inc. and Energy Fuels Resources Inc. filed a section 232 petition at Commerce claiming that imports of uranium from state-owned and state-subsidized companies in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan now fulfill 40 percent of U.S. demand, compared to the less than 5 percent satisfied by U.S. production. The Denver-based companies claim that imports from China will grow in the coming years. The companies also argue the volume of imports from Russia will only grow after a decades-old agreement that restricted imports from that country in exchange for suspending anti-dumping duties expires in 2020.  The Petition states:

“The U.S. uranium industry needs immediate relief from imports that have grown dramatically and captured almost 80% of annual U.S. uranium demand. Our country cannot afford to depend on foreign sources — particularly Russia, and those in its sphere of influence, and China — for the element that provides the backbone of our nuclear deterrent, powers the ships and submarines of America’s nuclear Navy, and supplies 20% of the nation’s electricity.”

ITC STUNNER—BOEING LOSES INJURY CASE IN BOMBADIER CIVIL AIRCRAFT CASE AT INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION (“ITC”)

In the attached decision, ITC-Public-Opinion-Aircraft, on February 13, 2018, in a stunning reversal, the ITC reached a negative, no injury, determination in the Civil Aircraft from Canada/Bombardier antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  In those cases, the Commerce Department had determined that the Canadian government had given subsidies of over 200% to Bombardier and because Bombardier refused to participate at the Commerce Department in the antidumping case, very high dumping margins.

But for the Commerce Department to issue antidumping and countervailing duty orders and for Boeing to win the Antidumping (“AD”) and Countervailing Duty (“CVD”) cases, it had to win the injury case at the ITC.  The ITC found no competition between the Canadian imports and Boeing’s planes and reached a negative, no injury, determination.  When Boeing lost the case at the ITC, it truly lost the case.  The case was terminated and over with.

Prior to the ITC determination, I had predicted that there was a 95% chance that ITC would reach an affirmative, injury determination.  What was the basis for my prediction and why did I get it wrong?  The ITC reaches injury/affirmative determinations in about 2/3 of the cases or about 66%.  But in big ticket cases, like Steel, Lumber and other cases, the ITC goes affirmative in a vast majority of them.  Also in this case, Bombardier had refused to participate in the AD case at Commerce.  That is not looked on kindly by the ITC Commissioners.

But the February 13th decision by the ITC was a true shocker and a real Boeing loss.  One Commissioner, Williamson, is very pro domestic industry.  In many cases where the ITC reaches a negative, no injury, determination, Commissioner Williamson will vote with the domestic industry.  But the ITC decision was a 4-0 unanimous no injury determination.  Why and what does this decision stand for?

First, pursuant to the Statute, the ITC is made up of 6 Commissioners, no more than 3 Commissioners from the same political party.  Right now, however, there are only 4 Commissioners on the ITC and none were appointed by President Trump.  3 Commissioners were appointed by President Obama and Commissioner Williamson originally was appointed by President George W. Bush.

The ITC is a very independent agency, possibly the most independent agency in the US Government because under the Constitution Congress controls trade, not the President.  So Congress wanted its own trade agency and it set up the ITC.  The ITC’s budget goes directly to Congress and does not go through the Administration’s Office of Management and Budget, and the ITC in contrast to every other government agency has the right to represent itself in Court.

The point being is that the ITC is very insulated from trade politics and President Trump has no direct control over the agency.  But more importantly, the ITC’s decision in the Boeing case was a legal determination.  When you read the ITC’s determination, it becomes very clear that the ITC found that imports of 100 to 150 seat aircraft from Canada did not compete with Boeing’s aircraft because Boeing produces bigger airplanes.  Because there were so very few sales in the case, the Commission could zero in on those few sales to Delta.  Based on those sales, the ITC simply could not find enough economic competition between the Canadian imports and Boeing’s planes to justify an affirmative injury determination.

As the Commission stated in certain relevant pages of its determination:

“Nevertheless, the record also shows that the higher standard seating capacity of the [Boeing] 737-700 and 737 MAX 7 limits competition between those models and the [BOMBARDIER] CS100 for some purchasers. Boeing has emphasized that airlines have a strong economic incentive to minimize empty seats by using LCA that are no larger than necessary on particular flights because using an LCA with more seats than required would result in unfilled seats, higher costs per seat, and lower profits. Respondents agree. In a standard two-class configuration, the seat count differential between the CS100 and the 737 MAX 7 is 30 seats, which is greater than the 24 seat differential between the 737 MAX 7 and the 737-800 that Boeing characterizes as significant “for airlines that try to fill every seat on every flight they operate.” Given this, there can be limited competition between the CS100 and the 737-700 and MAX 7 for sales to a purchaser seeking 100- to 150-seat LCA with a seat count toward the low end of the subject range.

The record shows that differences in seat count precluded competition between subject imports and the domestic like product for the only firm order for C Series LCA by a U.S. purchaser. . . .

In sum, we find that there is a likelihood of substantially increased subject import volume and market share based on Bombardier’s single sale for importation of subject planes during the period of investigation. Given that Boeing’s 100- to 150-seat LCA did not meet the purchaser’s requirements for this sale, however, and Boeing did not offer any new aircraft for this sale, we do not find that Bombardier secured this sale at Boeing’s expense. There is also insufficient evidence for us to conclude that Bombardier is likely to secure additional sales for importation of subject 100- to 150-seat LCA in the imminent future, or that any purchases of subject imports in the imminent future would likely be at the domestic industry’s expense. . . .

Based on the preceding considerations, we conclude that subject imports are not likely to have a significant adverse impact on the domestic industry in the imminent future. It is likely that any subject imports that enter in the imminent future would be the result of Bombardier’s single U.S. sale during the period of investigation for which Boeing was not directly competitive. Bombardier has not made any additional sales in the United States. There is insufficient evidence for us to conclude that additional orders for 100- to 150-seat LCA are imminent, that Bombardier would secure these orders, or that any orders secured by Bombardier would come at Boeing’s expense. We are mindful of the statutory requirement that a threat determination may not be made on the basis of mere conjecture or supposition, and thus do not find threat of material injury by reason of subject imports.

  1. Conclusion

For the reasons stated above, we determine that an industry in the United States is not threatened with material injury by reason of imports of 100- to 150-seat LCA from Canada that are sold in the United States at less than fair value and that are subsidized by the GOC.”

Emphasis added.

TWO IMPORTANT POINTS ABOUT THE ITC DETERMINATOIN AND BOEING’S LOSS

The importance of the Boeing negative determination is to make two very important points.  First AD and CVD cases are not nearly as political as you would think.  They are legal determinations, and the ITC can reach a negative no injury determination and turn the entire case off.

The second point is that many respondents in trade cases, especially in China, India and elsewhere, do not understand how important the ITC is in AD and CVD proceedings.  Many respondents simply give up at the ITC.  Bombardier, however, fought the Boeing case during the entire proceeding and mobilized companies and governments to speak out at the ITC about the case in favor of the respondents.  This evened out the playing ground and made it easier for the ITC to reach a negative injury determination if it was inclined to do so.  Bombardier also made sure that there was enough evidence on the ITC’s administrative record to make sure the ITC had the evidence to reach a negative determination.

Although fighting an ITC case takes time, resources and a lot of money to hire lawyers and consultants, Bombardier’s win at the ITC is a total victory.  The case has ended and Boeing lost the case.

BOEING’S WTO FIGHT WITH AIRBUS COULD PROVIDE MORE TRADE RETALIATION

On February 11, 2018 the Seattle Times in an article entitledBoeing’s biggest trade fight could spark a U.S. confrontation with Europe” went on to state about the next big trade fight by Boeing against Airbus and the EC:

“Boeing’s lawyers, still smarting from the shock of losing their U.S. trade- court case against Bombardier’s C Series jets, are now awaiting an imminent ruling in a bigger trade fight over government subsidies.

In a case against Airbus that’s slogged on for nearly 15 years and has seemed endless, Boeing now insists it’s within sight of a final victory.

And though the dispute long predates President Donald Trump, his administration’s hard-nosed “America First” posture on trade disputes – ready to impose tariffs rather than negotiating settlements – adds a new edge of rancor and risk.

The U.S. filed suit against Airbus at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2004, and since then the gears of that court have ground slowly without any perceivable impact.

Yet Boeing’s top lawyer, Michael Luttig, said in an interview that the law is about to catch up with Airbus and the European Union (EU).

“Boeing committed itself some 15 years ago … and it has never blinked since,” said Luttig. “Today, we are months away from the imposition of tariffs.”

Airbus is staring back, also refusing to blink

A senior Airbus executive and trade lawyer, who asked not to be named because of the continuing legal proceedings, compared Luttig’s threat of tariffs to “a nuclear strike” and pointed to the parallel EU case before the WTO that accuses Boeing of taking subsidies.

“The EU would be well-prepared to respond in kind and with much greater force,” said the Airbus legal executive. “The EU will survive that first nuclear strike and will retaliate with megatons to the U.S.’s kilotons.”

In a speech in London last month, Airbus CEO Tom Enders said that under Trump, the U.S. is “no longer fighting for opening markets but to close the U.S. market to foreign competitors.”

Citing the CSeries case, he accused Boeing of “ruthlessly surfing on this ‘America-First’ wave.”

The risk that a multinational trade war could erupt with some of the nation’s closest allies looks suddenly higher.

A WTO endgame

In September 2016, after multiple procedural steps and appeals, the last ruling in the United States’ WTO case against Airbus found that the European jet maker had fallen far short of remedying the harm to Boeing from illegal subsidies.

The EU immediately appealed. What’s ahead this year, by late spring, is the final decision on that appeal.

Boeing’s lawyers expect the court to largely uphold the 2016 decision

And Boeing says, that’s it. It’s the end of the appeals.

If Airbus loses, said Bob Novick, Boeing’s outside counsel on the WTO dispute since 2003 and former general counsel to the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. would then immediately request authorization to impose retaliatory sanctions.  Boeing anticipates that the WTO will set the level of sanctions at $10 billion to $15 billion.

The U.S. government could then slap punitive tariffs up to that amount on whatever EU goods it selects for maximum political impact.

Boeing’s tough talk may be partly a negotiating ploy. Still, if the WTO hands this loaded weapon to the U.S. government, it’s unlikely the Trump administration’s trade hawks will be shy about using it.

Jeff Bialos, a partner in the international law firm Eversheds Sutherland and a former Commerce Department official handling major trade litigation, said that typically at such an endpoint in a trade dispute, the two governments would negotiate some agreed settlement.

“The issue is, will the Trump administration, with its views on trade . have the ability to negotiate solutions?” Bialos said. “The jury is out. We are going into uncharted waters.”

Bill Perry, a Seattle-based international trade lawyer with Harris Bricken and a former U.S. Commerce Department attorney, thinks Trump will take “a very hard line.”

He pointed to the administration’s imposition last month of tariffs on imported solar panels, to punish China for selling finished panels in the U.S. below their cost, and on washing machines, targeting Korean manufacturers.

“Could this be the first row of bricks in a protectionist wall Trump intends to put up?” Perry asked.

At the very least, the stage looks set for brinkmanship, if not an open trade war.

A duel with pistols drawn

Boeing lawyers expect the imminent threat of tariffs to focus minds in the EU and perhaps to precipitate settlement talks in which they would then have the upper hand.

The top Airbus executive warned that Boeing is on the hook for its own illegal subsidies in the parallel WTO case filed by the EU – and so whatever the U.S. does, the EU can and will match.

“Boeing can try for sanctions. And if they do, we will too,” he said.

In the EU case against Boeing, the last ruling in June found that Boeing had failed to remedy the harm to Airbus from just one set of subsidies: the tax reduction that was part of Washington state’s aerospace incentives.

Boeing has appealed that ruling.

An awkward detail for the EU is that its case against Boeing was filed as a countersuit some nine months after the U.S. filed against Airbus, and so it lags the U.S. case by roughly that amount of time.

The decision on Boeing’s appeal won’t come out until late this year or even next year.  In the meantime, the U.S. may act.  The Airbus executive dismissed the delay between the cases – “a few months” – as insignificant. He compared it to a pistol duel, where one person gets to fire first, but knows that the other will survive and will get a chance to fire back.

The EU will have plenty of ammunition, he contended. When the time comes to add up the compensation needed, he said the EU will count every airplane Boeing sells, including future sales. “Every sale of a 787 is a subsidized sale and every one will count against Boeing when judgment day comes,” the Airbus executive said.

Trade war consequences

If Boeing’s 15-year pursuit of Airbus at the WTO has been tenacious, the legal attack it launched on Bombardier last April was even more fiercely aggressive. And even though it failed, pushing the case had consequences for Boeing.

Geoffrey Geertz, a researcher on the politics of trade at the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution, pointed out that in the Delta jet sale won by Bombardier’s CSeries that was central to the case, “there wasn’t much at stake” for Boeing because it wasn’t offering its own jets against the smaller aircraft.

Yet pursuing the case alienated both the Canadian and British governments, putting at risk large defense contracts, including a contract to supply Canada with F/A-18 jet fighters valued at more than $5 billion.  It also antagonized major commercial-airplane customer Delta. In a subsequent sales campaign in December that mattered much more to Boeing, Delta chose to go with Airbus when it bought100 larger planes.

“Boeing might be rethinking whether that was a miscalculation,” Geertz said.

An open trade war with major economic partners could be even more damaging, not only for Boeing but for the U.S.  That’s a belief central to traditional, pre-Trump Republican Party policy.

President Ronald Reagan in 1986 dismissed congressional demands for import tariffs as “flimflammery” and warned against the dangers of protectionism.

“The truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth,” Reagan said.

The unpredictable consequences of tariffs are evident in the case of REC Silicon, which produces polysilicon, a raw material used in making solar panels, at a $1.7 billion manufacturing plant in Moses Lake.

The Chinese solar-panel industry once imported polysilicon largely from the U.S.

But after an earlier round of the solar-panel trade fight, China in 2014 retaliated by imposing tariffs on U.S. polysilicon that forced REC to cut 500 jobs.

A letter sent to Trump by REC employees in early January said that “now the remaining jobs are at risk” and urged Trump to announce “a comprehensive settlement” with China.  Instead, Trump applied new tariffs. The risk is a tit or-tat response.

Last month, in retaliation for the Commerce Department’s initiation in December of a trade case against imports of aluminum sheet from China, the Chinese government started its own case against U.S. exports of sorghum grain to China.

“It signals the possible start of a trade war with China,” said trade lawyer Perry in a newsletter to clients this month. “There is a price to pay for U.S. tariffs and trade actions.”

Fight or settle?

No company is more dependent on free trade than Boeing, which sells both its commercial jets and its defense products worldwide.

Yet Boeing sees itself at a huge disadvantage against Airbus because of the types of subsidies the European jet maker has available.

Yes, Boeing gets tax breaks and so pays less tax on the income from the planes it rolls out each year. But it has to take all the risk and shoulder the multibillion-dollar cost when it develops a new airplane.

Airbus gets upfront government loans amounting to billions of dollars to defray the cost in advance – with no repayment necessary if the new airplane project fails.

Luttig insists that “there is no such thing as free trade unless all of the global industry participants abide by the rules.”

“Free trade is, by definition, trade in accordance with the rules of fair trade,” he added.

Airbus says it wants a different endgame to the WTO case: a negotiated settlement that would reset the rules.

The Airbus legal executive said a multinational deal could lay out agreed limits to government support in the aircraft industry for the long-term future.

“We sit down with all participants in this game, including the Chinese, the Russians, the Japanese, the Canadians, the Brazilians and maybe more, and have a good discussion globally,” he said.

Such an agreement might then constrain China’s behavior as its aviation champion COMAC develops future airplanes to compete against Boeing.

Brookings researcher Geertz said pursuing such a settlement makes sense because “the long-term game for Airbus and Boeing is figuring out what they are going to do about COMAC.”

In an interview at Boeing’s Chicago headquarters before the loss in the Bombardier case, Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg steadfastly eyed his shorter-term target.

“Airbus, as has been determined through the WTO proceedings, has an unresolved more than $23 billion illegal subsidy that still needs to be addressed,” Muilenburg said. “We have to stand on a principle of global fair competition.”

Boeing’s case against Airbus may be stronger than the one against Bombardier.

Still, with one trade-court decision gone awry, Boeing’s leadership must now weigh anew the risks of a trade war against the likelihood that a legal victory could enforce a fair competitive landscape for the future.

BUT TRUMP’S ECONOMIC POLICIES TO DATE HAVE CREATED OTHER RAYS OF LIGHT—A ROARING ECONOMY WITH MANUFACTURING COMING BACK TO THE US—CUTTING TAXES AND REGULATIONS WORKS

As stated in the last blog post, probably the most important development from the trade point of view in the last few months, however, is the passage of the tax bill.  Trump’s economic policies along with the Tax Bill are leading to record economic growth and record unemployment.

On February 1, 2018, in an article entitled “300 firms giving tax cut bonus, Costco dismisses Pelosi’s ‘crumbs’ attack,” the Washington Examiner stated:

“The number of companies offering employees higher wages, expanded insurance and retirement benefits and cash bonuses up to $3,000 has surged to 300 as more see benefits from the new GOP tax cuts.

The payouts, praised by President Trump, are going to some 3 million employees.

Again on Thursday at a Massachusetts town hall, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the bonuses “crumbs.”

Not only are companies crediting Trump in their announcements, one major employer, Costco, disputed Democratic sneers that the bonuses are “crumbs” and hide bigger profits.

During a shareholders meeting this week, Costco chief Craig Jelinek said the attack by Pelosi was not “thoughtful.”

According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, the comments came in response to a question from their counsel Justin Danhof. What’s more, said Danhof, Jelinek said that critics were just “throwing stuff out there.”

The Costco executive noted that the wholesaler pays higher than average wages and added that the tax cuts may benefit customers.

The growing list of companies paying so-called “Trump bonuses” is at 300, according to list keeper Americans for Tax Reform and ATR Vice President John Kartch.

ATR President Grover Norquist said, “Every two weeks from February to November Americans will be reminded that one party cut their taxes and raised their pay. And the other tried to stop it.”

According to the Americans For Tax Reform, the actual number today February 23, 2018 is over 400 companies and includes the following companies:

“Plexus Corp., Solara Company, Kraft Heinz Company, CUNA Mutual Group, CarMax Inc., Valley Bank, Quake Manufacturing, Wirco Inc., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Prospector Hotel and Gambling Hall, Fontainebleau, Mission Produce, Mastercard Inc., Civista Bank, Gulf Power Company, Fidelity Bank, Dyersville Die Cast, Unum, Sheely’s Furniture and Appliance, Henry Schein, Inc., R+L Carriers, The Gateway Tavern, OneMain Holdings, Inc., The Stowaway, Duck Inn Pub, Sail Loft, Speedwell Tavern, Pilgrim Bank, Xante Corporation, J.M. Smucker Company, Iowa-American Water Co., Somerset Savings Bank, Amboy Bank, Citizens Bank of West Virginia, Dot Foods, Sound Financial Bancorp Inc., Pitney Bowes, Shred-X, LiDestri Food and Drink, U.S. Special Delivery, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Middlefield Banc Corp., Cintas Corporation, PepsiCo., Protective Life Corporation, St. John’s Properties Inc., Insperity, U-Haul, Leak Sealers, Mill Steel Company, Payne Trucking.”

Some of the other additional companies on the list are:

“1A Auto, Inc. (Westford, Massachusetts), 1st Source Corporation (South Bend, Indiana), 1st Summit Bank (Johnstown, Pennsylvania), AaLadin Industries, Inc. (Elk Point, South Dakota), AAON (Tulsa, Oklahoma), AbbVie, Inc. (North Chicago, Illinois), Adams Community Bank (Adams, Massachusetts), Advance Financial (Nashville, Tennessee), Advanced Sciences and Technologies, LLC (Berlin, New Jersey), Aflac (Columbus, Georgia), Ally Financial Inc. (Charlotte, North Carolina), Altria Group Inc. (Richmond, Virginia), Amarillo National Bank (Amarillo, Texas), Amboy Bank (Old Bridge, New Jersey), American Airlines (Ft. Worth, Texas), American Express (New York, New York), American Family Insurance (Madison, Wisconsin), Apple (Cupertino, California), AT&T (Dallas, Texas), AutoNation, Bank of America (Charlotte, North Carolina), BB&T (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), Best Buy (Richfield, Minnesota), Boeing Company (Chicago, Illinois), Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (Houston, Texas), Capital One (McLean, Virginia), CarMax Inc. (Richmond, Virginia), The Charles Schwab Corporation (San Francisco, California), Charter Communications, Inc. (Stamford, Connecticut), Chipotle Mexican Grill (Denver, Colorado), Cigna Corporation (Bloomfield, Connecticut), Comcast (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Exxon Mobil, FedEx (Memphis, Tennessee), Fiat Chrysler (Auburn Hills, Michigan),  Home Depot (Atlanta, Georgia), Honeywell (Morris Plains, New Jersey), Hostess Brands, Inc. (Kansas City, Missouri), Humana (Louisville, Kentucky), Smucker Company (Orrville, Ohio), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (New York, New York), JetBlue (New York, New York), Kraft Heinz Company (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Chicago, Illinois), Lowes (Mooresville, North Carolina), Mastercard Inc. (Purchase, New York),  Merck (Kenilworth, New Jersey), MetLife Inc. (New York, New York), Nationwide Insurance (Columbus, Ohio), Pfizer Inc. (New York, New York).”

The point is that the entire list of companies providing bonuses, increases in 401Ks and other contributions to both employees and customers because of the tax bill is mind numbing.  The entire list can be found at Americans for Tax Reform at https://www.atr.org/list.     

One can disagree with President Trump, but the fact is he is putting money back into the average American’s pocket.

The good news keeps on coming.  On February 13th Bloomberg reported:

“Optimism among small companies in the U.S. rose more than forecast in January, fueled by a record number of owners who said now was a good time to expand, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey released Tuesday.

Six of the 10 components that make up the small-business optimism index increased in January, producing one of the strongest readings in the 45-year history of the survey. The figures show sustained, sturdy business sentiment since the November 2016 election. A measure of plans to boost capital spending in coming months increased by 2 points to 29 percent, consistent with other data indicating robust outlays for equipment. One in five small companies said they plan to boost hiring, unchanged from the prior month, as finding qualified workers remains problematic and underscores a tight job market.The new tax law “produced the most recent boost to small-business optimism,” NFIB’s William Dunkelberg and Holly Wade said in a report. “And federal government-related cost pressures continue to abate, offering a more supportive business climate for small firms. Consumer spending remains supportive, and business spending and housing remain strong.”

The bottom line is that many average Americans are being affected positively by the Trump tax bill.  This may explain why on February 23rd the Rasmussen Reports stated that Trump’s popularity had shot to 50%.  The tax bill is a gift that will keep on giving to Trump and the Republican party.

SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA ON FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS

In an attached August 18th Federal Register notice based on an August 14th Presidential Memorandum, 301 INITIATION NOTICE Presidential Memorandum for the United States Trade Representative whitehouseg, President Trump pulled the trigger on the Section 301 Intellection property case against China.  The Section 301 investigation could take a year and probably will lead to negotiations with the Chinese government on technology transfer.  If the negotiations fail, the US could take unilateral action, such as increasing tariffs, or pursue a case through the World Trade Organization.  Unilateral actions under Section 301, however, also risk a WTO case against the United States in Geneva.

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) held a hearing on October 10th at the International Trade Commission.  During the October 10th hearing, only two US companies appeared to argue that their IP was stolen by Chinese government actions.

Acting Assistant USTR for China Terry McCartin, commenting on the dearth of business witnesses, said some companies had expressed concern “about retaliation or other harm to their businesses in China if they were to speak out in this proceeding.”

On January 18th, it was reported that President Trump was considering a big “fine” as punishment for China’s alleged theft of intellectual property.  In an interview, Trump stated,

“We have a very big intellectual property potential fine going, which is going to come out soon.”

Although Trump did not define what he means by “fine,” Section 301 allows the US to impose retaliatory tariffs on Chinese goods or other trade sanctions until China changes its policies.

Trump further stated:

“We’re talking about big damages. We’re talking about numbers that you haven’t even thought about.”

Trump said he will be discussing this action in his State of the Union address on January 30th.  Trump also recently stated that he hopes there will not be a trade war with China. “I don’t think so, I hope not. But if there is, there is.”

NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE AND PROBABLY WILL NOT BE TERMINATED

NAFTA negotiations continue and there is hope that the agreement will not be terminated.  But no one can say for certain at this time.

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

As stated in numerous past newsletters, there is another more productive way to solve the Steel crisis and fix the trade problem and help US companies, including Steel and other companies, adjust to import competition.  This program has a true track record of saving US companies injured by imports.

This was a problem personally approved by President Ronald Reagan.  The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program does not put up barriers to imports.  Instead the TAA for Companies program works with US companies injured by imports on an individual basis to make them more competitive.  The objective of TAA for Companies is to save the company and by saving the company it saves the jobs that go with that company.

But as stated in the video below, for companies to succeed they must first give up the mentality of international trade victimhood.

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

In addition, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.  To retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job is $50,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

But TAA for Companies has been cut to the bone.  On August 22, 2017, the U.S. Commerce Department announced $13.3 Million to Boost Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers.

Are such paltry sums really going to help solve the manufacturing crisis in the Steel and other industries?  Of course not!!

But when the program was originally set up, the budget was much larger at $50 to $100 million.  If the program was funded to its full potential, yes steel companies and other companies could be saved.

To those libertarian conservatives that reject such a program as interference in the market, my response is that this program was personally approved by your icon, President Ronald Reagan.  He understood that there was a price for free trade and avoiding protectionism and that is helping those companies injured by import competition.  But teaching companies how to be competitive is a much bigger bang for the buck than simply retraining workers.  And yes companies can learn and be competitive again in the US and other markets.

NEW RECENT TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

CAST IRON SOIL PIPE

On January 23, 2018, Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute filed antidumping and countervailing duty case against Certain Cast Iron Soil Pipe from China.

RUBBER BANDS

On January 30, 2018, Alliance Rubber Co. filed antidumping and countervailing duty cases against Certain Rubber Bands from Thailand, China, and Sri Lanka.

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law and ongoing Chinese trade cases. Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2018.04 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2018.05 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2018.06 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2018.07

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

FUEL PUMP ASSEMBILES

On January 31, 2018, Carter Fuel Systems, LLC filed a section 337 case against imports of Fuel Pump Assemblies Having Vapor Separators.  The named respondent in the case is:

Wenzhou Jushang (JS), Performance Parts Co. Ltd., China.

JUMP ROPE SYSTEMS PRODUCTS

On February 13, 2018, Jump Rope Systems LLC filed a section 337 case against imports of Jump Rope Systems Products.  The named respondent in the case is:

Suzhou Everise Fitness Co., Ltd., China.

If anyone has any questions about these cases or about the Trump Trade Crisis, Taxes and Trade, Section 201 Solar Case, Section 232 case on Steel, Aluminum or Uranium or US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–CHINA RETALIATION, 201 REMEDIES, VITAMIN C, TRUMP AND TRADE, TAX BILL, SECTION 301 CHINA, SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS, SECTION 232 STEEL AND NEW CASES

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR FEBURARY 5, 2017 CHINA TRADE RETALIATION UPDATE

Dear Friends,

What goes around comes around.  President Trump has threatened retaliation against China and countries for various misdeeds by raising tariffs.  But the Chinese government has now upped the game and responded with its own trade case against US agricultural exports of Sorghum Grain to China.

MOFCOM SELF-INITIATES ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE AGAINST SORGHUM GRAIN FROM THE US

On December 1, 2017, in the first time in over a decade, the Commerce Department self-initiated an antidumping and countervailing duty case against imports of aluminum sheet from China.

On February 4, 2018, Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) in China retaliated by self-initiating its own antidumping and countervailing duty case against imports of US sorghum grain.  Total China imports of US Sorghum Grain in 2016 were 5,869,000 tons worth more than $1.26 billion USD.

Notices of appearance are due at MOFCOM by February 24th.

In addition to dumping, the case targets large US agricultural subsidies for sorghum grain, such as Crop Insurance Program, Price Loss Protection Program, Agricultural Risk Protection Program, Marketing Loan Program, Export Credit Guarantee Program, Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Partner Program.

Some of the US companies that may be the targets of this MOFCOM action are: Agniel Commodities, LLC, Attebury Grain, LLC, Big River Resources, Bluegrass Farms of Ohio, Inc., Bunge North America, Inc., Cardinal Ethanol, LLC, Cargill, Inc., Consolidated Grain and Barge Co., DeLong Company  Inc., Enerfo USA, Inc., Fornazor International Inc., Freepoint Commodities LLC, Gavilon, Illinois Corn Processing, LLC, International Feed, Louis Dreyfus Commodities, Marquis Grain Inc., Mirasco Inc., Pacific Ethanol, Inc., Perdue AgriBusiness, LLC, The Scoular Company, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, LLC, Tharaldson Ethanol Plant I, LLC, United Wisconsin Grain Producers, and Zeeland Farm Services.  Attached is a list of more potential US target companies, US exporters of grain sorghum to China

This case is important because it signals the possible start of a trade war with China.  The US self-initiates antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China; China self-initiates antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the US.

President Trump has been threatening to levy numerous tariffs against China and other countries, but this Sorghum Grain trade case indicates that there is a price to pay for US tariffs and trade actions. Many in Washington DC are used to dealing with Japan, Taiwan and South Korea with regards to trade, but those countries are dependent on the United States for their national security.  Throw a trade rock at those countries, and they rarely throw one back.

China, however, is not dependent on the United States for its national security.  Throw a trade rock at China, and they will throw one back.  Moreover, this Sorghum Grain case is aimed directly at President Trump’s constituency—agriculture and the rural states.

Both the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily in numerous editorials have warned the Trump Administration that the only major economic issue that could stop the rise in the economy is a trade war.  Trump and the Republicans have tied their political star to the rising US economy.  But if Trump levies more tariffs against Chinese imports, expect the Chinese government to retaliate and aim its trade guns at products and constituencies that will hurt Trump and the Republicans the most—agriculture.

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

US CHINA TRADE WAR JANUARY 25, 2018 SOLAR CELLS 201 UPDATE

Dear Friends,

Attached is the Solar Cells Presidential Proclamation with Annexes, which was published today January 25th in the Federal Register, FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION SOLAR CELLS.  According to the Annex I (f), the 30% tariff will be applied to imports starting February 7, 2018.

In addition, a number of countries are excluded in Annex 1(b) from the tariff, including India and Ukraine, so long as their share of imports does not exceed 3%.

Within 30 days, the United States Trade Representative’s office (“USTR”) will publish a Federal Register notice, which will allow companies to petition for exclusion.  The Proclamation specifically also states that the President has “determined to exclude certain products from this action and goes on to state in paragraph 15, 4:

Within 30 days after the date of this proclamation, the USTR shall publish in the Federal Register procedures for requests for exclusion of a particular product from the safeguard measure established in this proclamation. If the USTR determines, after consultation with the Secretaries of Commerce and Energy, that a particular product should be excluded, the USTR is authorized, upon publishing a notice of such determination in the Federal Register, to modify the HTS provisions created by Annex I to this proclamation to exclude such particular product from the safeguard measure described in paragraph 8 of this proclamation.

Consumer products with solar cells, such as solar-powered backpacks and lanterns, will likely be excluded from the tariffs, but it will be tough to get other products out.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

JANUARY 23, 2018 UPDATE

Dear Friends,

A number of clients and news outlets have called me because yesterday, the United States Trade Representative’s office issued its Section 201 determinations in the Solar Cells and Washing Machines 201 cases.  The USTR announcements are attached. 201 USTR ANNOUNCEMENT SOLAR WASHING MACHINES President Trump Approves Relief for U.S

This update will address these two remedy announcements and also the decision by the US Supreme Court to look at the Vitamin C Antitrust case.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

IT BEGINS? SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS/WASHING MACHINE DECISIONS

Yesterday, the United States Trade Representative’s office (“USTR”) announced affirmative Section 201 decisions in the Solar Cells and Washing Machines cases and issued tariffs.  The question is whether these decisions represent the first layer of bricks that President Trump puts up in a protectionist wall around the US.  We will have to wait and see.  The real test will be what President Trump does in the Section 232 cases on Steel and Aluminum.

But one interesting point is that Suniva, the US company that filed the Section 201 Solar Cells case, is majority owned by a Chinese Solar Manufacturer, Shunfeng International Clean Energy Ltd.

In the 1980s, as a result in part of a Section 201 case against imports of Automobiles and a Voluntary Restraint Agreement issued by the Japanese Government, Japanese car companies set up manufacturing operations in the United States.  Many Chinese solar companies may follow Shunfeng’s lead and set up manufacturing operation in the US.  That is especially true as the new Trump Tax Bill kicks in dropping corporate tax rates to 21%.

The remedies for the two Section 201 cases are specifically set forth below.

SOLAR CELLS

In the Solar Cells case, the remedy is:

Safeguard Tariffs on Imported Solar Cells and Modules
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Tariff increase 30% 25% 20% 15%
  • First 2.5 gigawatt of imported cells are excluded from the additional

It is still unclear how this will work in the sense that imports of the first 2.5 gigawatt are excluded from the additional tariff.  But in talking to one small solar cell importer, at the most during the year they import a total of 1 megawatt.  This tells me that the new tariffs first will not be retroactive and second probably will kick in after several months each year, when total imports reach the 2.5 Gigawatt level.

As stated before, these 201 tariffs are applicable to imports from all countries, including China, Malaysia, Germany, Canada and Mexico.  When total imports of solar cells and modules reach the 2.5 gigawatt level, the new tariff kicks in.  So, for example, if total imports of solar cells and modules into the US reach the 2.5 gigawatt level on May 15th, imports after that will be hit with a tariff.

WASHING MACHINES

The Washing Machines Remedy is set forth below.  This is similar to the Solar Cells Remedy in the sense that the first 1.2 million washers will have a lower tariff and the higher tariff will not kick in until after total imports reach the 1.2 million unit level.

Also 50,000 units of covered parts are excluded from the tariff.

Tariff-Rate Quotas on Washers
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
First 1.2 million units of imported

finished washers

20% 18% 16%
All subsequent imports of finished

washers

50% 45% 40%
Tariff of covered parts 50% 45% 40%
Covered parts excluded from tariff 50,000 units 70,000 units 90,000 units

So the point of both remedies is import quickly into the US market.  The first imports into the country in the Solar Cells case will have no tariff and in the Washing Machines case will have a lower tariff.

VITAMIN C ANTITRUST CASE RISES FROM THE ASHES

With the Second Circuit Appeal Court ruling in September 16, 2016 against the US importers, many assumed that the Vitamin C antitrust case against the Chinese companies was dead.  But on January 12, 2018, in the attached notice, 011218zr_3d9g (1), the Supreme Court announced that it was accepting the importers’ petition for certiorari in the Animal Science Products, et al v. Hebei Welcome, et al., Vitamin C Antitrust case.  But the appeal is specifically limited to question 2 raised in the Animal Science Products’ Petition for Certiorari:

  1. Whether a court may exercise independent review of an appearing foreign sovereign’s interpretation of its domestic law (as held by the Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eleventh, and D.C. Circuits), or whether a court is “bound to defer” to a foreign government’s legal statement, as a matter of international comity, whenever the foreign government appears before the court (as held by the opinion below in accord with the Ninth Circuit).

So the question for the Supreme Court is whether the Chinese government’s characterization of its own law is conclusive in the proceeding.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR JANUARY 20, 2017 BLOG POST

Dear Friends,

Have been in China and then intensely involved in a steel antidumping and countervailing duty case on cold drawn mechanical tubing (“CDMT”) and only now can come up for air and turn my attention to the blog.

Moreover, there are so many mixed signals coming out of the White House on trade it is difficult to know which way Trump is going to go.  As indicated below, the problem is probably retaliation by other countries and agriculture.  Trump wants to be tough on trade but half of all US agriculture products are exported.  One third of all Iowa corn is exported to Mexico.

Trump cannot kill NAFTA or be so tough on trade that US agriculture exports become the target of retaliation.  Trump is winning and the Republicans stand a chance of holding their own in the mid-term elections if the US economy is doing very well.  But taking a very protectionist stance by killing imports could very well backfire and hurt the US economy deeply.  If the US economy goes down, Trump and the Republicans go down.

But this could be the month where the direction of Trump’s trade policy starts to truly come into focus.  President Trump has to decide whether to impose additional tariffs on Solar Cells by January 26th and on Washing Machines by February 4th. But more importantly in the next 90 days, President Trump has to decide whether to impose additional tariffs on steel imports pursuant to Section 232 national security case.  After Steel comes aluminum and possibly a new case on uranium.  In addition, in the Section 301 case against intellectual property and China, Trump is talking about “fines” against China, whatever that means.  Does that mean a trade war with China?

More importantly, the most important development in trade may be the passage of the Trump/Republican tax bill, which has slashed corporate taxes to 21%.  This dramatic tax reduction is creating a manufacturing renaissance in the United States.  Apple has announced that it is repatriating almost $250 billion from overseas, much of which will be used to create new manufacturing facilities in the United States.

Unemployment, including Black and Hispanic unemployment, is the lowest in decades.  One way to cure the trade problem is by making US companies more competitive and that is just what Trump and the Republicans have done.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

WILL TRADE UPSET THE TRUMP ECONOMIC JUGGERNAUT IN JANUARY 2018?

TO DATE TRUMP HAS NOT IGNITED A TRADE WAR

Despite many warnings of doom and gloom regarding trade, some from this newsletter, President Trump apparently has taken a cautious approach to trade.  Although Trump has torn up the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and threatened to pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”), Trump so far has gone slow on trade.  NAFTA has not been torn up, and to date President Trump has not imposed draconian tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum pursuant to the Section 232 National Security cases, probably in response to the many US producers that use imported steel and aluminum to produce downstream products made of steel.  Trump is learning that trade is “complicated”.

The Cold Drawn Mechanical Tubing (“CDMT”) case illustrates the problem with being tough on trade.  During the preliminary injury investigation at the ITC, one of my clients Voest Alipine Rotec (“Rotec”) told the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) that if the ITC reached an affirmative preliminary injury determination, it would move offshore.  The ITC went affirmative and as Rotec testified in December at the ITC final hearing, Rotec opened up a new production facility in Mexico to take care of all of its export business, cutting US jobs.  When companies cannot get competitive raw materials, including steel products, they move offshore

TRUMP’S POLICIES HAVE CREATED AN ECONOMIC BOOM—CUTTING TAXES AND REGULATIONS WORKS

As indicated below in the article on the Tax Bill, another very important reason for Trump’s go slow approach is that the US economy is climbing upward like a rocket, and President Trump does not want to do anything to damage the trajectory of the economy.  On election day, the Dow Jones average was 18,259.  It has now climbed to over 26,000 creating over $5 trillion in new wealth.  Trump’s policy of cutting regulations and the passage of the Trump tax bill are major reasons for the huge surge in the economy.

Democratic officials under President Obama told the American public to get ready for the new normal—US economic growth domestic product (“GDP”) could not get higher than 2.2% and would never go over 3%.  In the first year of the Trump Presidency, the US GDP is 3.2%.  With the elimination of regulations and the new Trump tax bill, which cut the corporate tax from 35 to 21%, many economists are now forecasting in 2018 a US GDP above 4%.

When the GDP goes up, all boats rise, and everyone, including the lower and middle class, are better off.  Rising GDP means jobs and more jobs, exactly what Candidate Trump promised.  Unemployment is the lowest it has been in decade.  Hispanic and Black unemployment is the lowest it has been in decades.  Manufacturing is having one of its best years since 2004.

When all boats rise that means the lower middle class and middle-class incomes go up also, and that is Trump’s core constituency. The Republican’s road to victory in the upcoming midterms in 2018 and Trump’s reelection in 2020 is dependent upon the economy.  As President Clinton himself stated, “It’s the economy stupid.” If the economy is rising, everyone’s income goes up as there are more jobs, which means more voters pulling the Republican lever in the voting booth, and there is a chance the Republicans can hold their own in the mid-terms.  The economy goes down and the Republicans will be crushed.

During the first term of President Obama, Democratic Senators and Congressmen were warning President Obama to focus on jobs for the lower and middle-class workers.  President Obama ignored the advice and focused on health care and an infrastructure program that did not work.  The average American wants a job, not a handout, because jobs lead to the American dream– a house to own and a good middle-class life.

Trump understands this desire and has focused on this core principle, which is exactly what he promised to do as a candidate.

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House and Presidential candidate and one of the true thinkers in the Conservative Wing of the Republic party, is predicting a great political surprise—the size of the Republican victory in the midterms.  Directly contrary to the many statements of Democrats and pundits in the mainstream media, Gingrich makes the strong political argument that because of the sharp rise in the US economy, Republicans will do very well in the midterms.  See http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/12/28/newt-gingrich-get-ready-for-great-political-surprise-2018.html.  People may not like the Trump package, but his economic policy so far is working.

SLAMMING TRADE AND STOPPING IMPORTS COULD STOP THE ECONOMIC BOOM

But the one problem with Trump’s economic initiative, which could be the flaw in his and the Republican strategy, is trade.  If Trump embarks on a sharp protectionist push, withdrawing from NAFTA and raising tariffs for many products coming into the US, that could drop economic growth like a rock.  All the business investor publications, such as the Wall Street Journal and the Investors Business Daily, are warning Trump to go slow on trade and not rip up the global trading system.  If Trump decides to create a trade war with other countries, the economy will slow and the Republicans will have no hope of winning the midterms and Trump will be a one term President.

One major reason for that is agriculture.  On January 9, 2018 in an editorial entitled “Will Trump Punish the Farm Belt?” the Wall Street Journal raised this very point:

“The U.S. economy is starting to grow at a faster pace, and deregulation and tax reform are pointing to an investment boost in 2018. But the big economic policy question now is whether President Trump is going to dampen this new growth enthusiasm by imposing tariffs and kicking off a global trade war.

That issue was in high relief Monday in Nashville, where Mr. Trump delivered a speech [to the American Farm Bureau] touting his policies for the rural U.S. economy that benefits from free trade. Mr. Trump can rightly point to White House progress on reducing government barriers to growth in American agriculture. . . .

But farmers are scared stiff that Mr. Trump might take a protectionist turn that would impose more government barriers. Highly efficient and productive, U.S. farmers thrive in a competitive global market. But tariffs are border taxes that raise costs for U.S. producers and consumers. . . .

Mr. Trump already walloped U.S. farm exporters when he dropped out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which has given Europe, Australia and Canada an edge to meet growing Asian demand for high-value farm products. After Japan imposed 50% “safeguard” tariffs on frozen beef last July, U.S. imports dropped by a quarter. Imports from Australia, which has a trade deal with Japan and supplies about half of its frozen beef, increased by 30%.

Foreign leaders are working fast to lock in trade deals that are leaving the U.S. behind. In December the European Union finalized a “cars-for-cheese” pact with Japan that will slash tariffs on most dairy, meat and wine to zero from up to 30%. Canada last year reached an agreement with the EU that will make 99% of their exports duty-free.

Mr. Trump is also contemplating tariffs against China for stealing U.S. intellectual property. This should be addressed, but the danger is that U.S. agriculture is sure to be a top target for reprisal if the President gets into a trade war with Beijing. China is one of America’s top farm markets, with agricultural exports tripling over the past decade to $21.4 billion, including $14.2 billion in soybeans. Australia and Brazil can replace many U.S. exports in a trade spat.

The greatest danger to the Farm Belt is that Mr. Trump might withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement. The U.S. sends about $18 billion a year in farm products to Mexico and $23 billion to Canada, which together account for a third of American farm exports. Since Nafta came into force in 1994, farm exports to Mexico and Canada have more than quadrupled. Soybean exports to Mexico have quintupled.  . . .

Responding to Mr. Trump’s trade threats, Mexico is already seeking alternative commodity suppliers. Last year Mexico reached deals to increase imports of wheat from Argentina and corn from Brazil as a hedge against U.S. withdrawal.

Mr. Trump devoted only a couple of lines to trade in his Nashville speech, and we hope it reflects what Mr. Trump has learned about trade on the job. More likely, it means Mr. Trump still hasn’t resolved the debate among his economic advisers.

One argument Mr. Trump should hear is that a U.S. withdrawal from Nafta would most hurt states like Iowa and Wisconsin that gave him his election victory. That’s especially true if the U.S. imposes additional protectionist measures—such as steel tariffs—that invite retaliation. After the U.S. blocked Mexican trucks from delivering goods across the border in 2009, Mexico slapped tariffs on U.S. table grapes, potatoes, juices, almonds and wines.

Trashing Nafta would be among the great self-inflicted wounds in history. It would also tell other countries that the U.S. can’t be trusted to keep its word on trade, which would make it impossible to cut the bilateral trade deals the President says he wants. This is a strategy for making America weaker.

Many Senators and Congressmen from Agricultural states, such as Iowa, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Montana, which all voted for Trump, have warned the President to go slow on trade and not tear up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).  These Agricultural states are part of Trump’s base and one of the major reasons he won the Presidency.  In a January 7, 2018 article entitled “Farmers Seek a Tempered Nafta Stance”, the Wall Street Journal further stated:

“When President Donald Trump addresses the U.S. agricultural community Monday, farmers will be looking for signs that a recent push to lobby him in support of the North American Free Trade Agreement has been successful.

That effort, which has included Republican senators from farm states offering charts and graphs illustrating the benefits of the trade deal, has left some hopeful that the administration has softened an earlier tough stance on Nafta. Fueling those hopes has been the president’s refraining from harsh anti-Nafta rhetoric since his last tweet regarding the pact in August.

“We’re doing everything we can to have our voices heard,” said Sen. Deb Fischer (R., Neb.), a rancher and one of several lawmakers who attended a steak lunch with Mr. Trump in December. Sen. Joni Ernst (R., Iowa) brought a chart showing a negative impact of Mr. Trump’s anti-Nafta messages on hog futures. Last week, Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Pat Roberts (R., Kan.) led another group to the White House to reinforce the message.

White House officials say Mr. Trump has continued to meet with “stakeholders on all sides” on the issue. One official familiar with the strategy said that in staying relatively quiet on Nafta, the president is giving U.S. negotiators maximum leverage in the talks.

Farm-state lawmakers say that in their sessions with him, Mr. Trump has been reassuring about Nafta, which has opened Mexican and Canadian markets to duty-free exports of billions of dollars in U.S. products. . . .

But trade, and Nafta in particular, is foremost on the farm community’s mind. The U.S. in 2016 sent $16.4 billion in agricultural and food products to Mexico and $23.4 billion to Canada, according to government figures. Farmers worry that without Nafta, the two U.S. neighbors would have the right to put tariffs on products from the U.S. and could turn to other countries for supplies of soybeans, corn and other farm products.  . . .

“While the president is increasingly listening to the dire concerns of farmers and ag state lawmakers, nobody has a sense of whether he’ll heed their warnings,” said former Democratic Sen. Max Baucus, co-chairman of Farmers for Free Trade, which seeks to preserve existing agreements that lower tariffs on agricultural exports.  . . .

Labor unions and left-leaning consumer groups have supported the tough stance. But business and farm lobbies have continued to lobby the administration by pointing to the benefits Nafta has brought over the last quarter century.

The farm-state lawmakers say they think they have made a difference.

“He said quite bluntly he had thought everyone wanted to get rid of Nafta, and that’s not right,” Ms. Ernst said in an interview. “I can’t speak to what the president intends to do going forward, but I think his perspective has changed a little bit.”

After the December meeting, Mr. Roberts said Mr. Trump reassured him about Nafta’s fate. “Before I could even say, ‘Merry Christmas, Mr. President,’ he looked at me and put his thumb up and said we’re going to be all right on Nafta,” Mr. Roberts said on C-Span last month.  . . .

In his last public comments on Nafta, at a political rally in Florida, Mr. Trump left open the possibility of any outcome. “We’re gonna hopefully keep Nafta,” he said, then added: “But there’s a chance we won’t. And that’s OK.”

On January 7th the Wall Street Journal published an article by Robert Zoellick, a United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) under President George W. Bush, entitled “ Trump Courts Economic Mayhem”.  One point that Zoellick made, which I agree with, is that there are not going to be any new trade agreements under this President because he wants managed trade, not free trade.  Trump promised many new trade agreements with other countries, but it takes two to tango and the other countries have a choice on whether to enter in a new trade agreement with the US.  As Zoellick stated:

“President Trump’s new National Security Strategy argues that the U.S. must compete in a hostile world. Yet the White House also wants to retreat behind trade barriers. The Trump administration has stacked up a pile of trade cases that will come tumbling down early in 2018. More important than any specific case is the signal of a strategy of economic defeatism.

The U.S. is ready to block steel and aluminum imports through a rarely used “national security” rationalization. As an alternative, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross had tried negotiating capacity cuts in Chinese production, but Mr. Trump waved him off with a demand for tariffs.

Because most of China’s metal exports already face U.S. tariffs of more than 80%, Mr. Trump’s tactic will likely trigger retaliation from other countries.

Next up are “safeguards” to block imports of solar panels and washing machines. Imposing “safeguards” doesn’t even require a claim of unfairness. On top of this, last year (through Sept. 20) the Commerce Department conducted 65 investigations of alleged low-cost or subsidized imports. That figure is a 16-year high, up 50% from the year before. . . .

No country wants to do a bilateral deal with Mr. Trump now because he demands managed trade, not fair competition. He wants excuses to raise barriers, not rules to boost trade. That’s why Mr. Trump will use his indictment of China’s intellectual-property practices to justify more protectionism, not solve the problems. During the president’s recent trip to China, when Beijing proposed opening some of its financial markets to U.S. companies, the Trump team dismissed this as the old way of doing business. The new way is to block Chinese exports. . . .

The U.S. is abandoning the challenge of setting new trade standards, whether for data, e- commerce or transnational services. America once attracted the world’s talent, but Mr. Trump’s hostility is driving people away. If he pulls the U.S. out of Nafta, even financial markets might recognize that his economic isolationism poses a risk to growth.

True competitors honestly assess their weaknesses, adapt and then grow stronger. Those are the qualities that made America great. This will be the year that trade policy could define Trump’s fearful America.”

Emphasis added.

COULD JANUARY BE THE MONTH WHEN TRUMP’S TRADE POLICY CHANGES DIRECTION

But there is some indication that Trump is listening to his critics.  Trump has told Lighthizer to do no harm in the NAFTA negotiations and to date has not created a trade war with China.  But as indicated below in the articles on Solar Cells, Section 301 and the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases, President Trump will soon be at a trade crossroads and no one is sure which way he will jump.

TRUMP TAX BILL ALONG WITH CUTTING REGULATIONS HAS LED TO A US ECONOMIC BOOM

Probably the most important development from the trade point of view in the last few months, however, is the passage of the tax bill.  Many Democratic politicians, economic pundits and millennials predict that the trickle-down economics of lower taxes and less regulations simply will have no beneficial effect on the US economy and the lower and middle classes.  Instead, many economists and millennials advocate the Obama style redistribution, taking from the rich and giving to the poor.

Despite the fact that the Dow Jones average has gone up from 18,259 on the day Trump was elected to over 26,000, these same people strongly believe that Trump simply cannot be responsible for any uptick in the US economy.  The economy is rising because of Obama’s policies, but the facts and many economists are refuting the false statements.  On January 4th, Apple announced that it would pay $38 billion in taxes to the US government to repatriate $246 billion of overseas profits back to the US.  As the Wall Street Journal reported:

“The tech giant said Wednesday it plans $30 billion in capital spending in the U.S. over five years that will create more than 20,000 new jobs. It didn’t specify how much of that spending was already planned, but said the total will include building a new facility that initially will house customer-service operations, and $10 billion toward data centers across the country. Apple also is expanding from $1 billion to $5 billion a fund it established last year for investing in advanced manufacturing in the U.S.

Apple said its one-time tax payment was the result of recent changes to U.S. tax law, under which companies can pay a one-time tax of 15.5% on overseas cash holdings repatriated to the U.S. The company said in November that it had earmarked $36 billion to cover deferred taxes on its $246 billion.”

Meanwhile, as reported in the Wall Street Journal on January 11, 2018, as a result of the tax bill:

“Wal-Mart Stores Inc. would raise starting pay to $11 per hour for all its U.S. employees and hand out one-time bonuses as competition for low-wage workers intensifies and new tax legislation will add billions to the retailer’s profits.

The giant retailer is the largest private employer in the world with 2.3 million employees, including around 1.5 million in the U.S. Its current starting salary in the U.S. is $10 an hour after workers take a training course. The new wage increase will take effect in February.

This is the third U.S.-wide minimum wage increase at the company since 2015 as it works to improve its 4,700 U.S. stores while investing heavily to compete with Amazon.com Inc. online.

The company said the salary change would add $300 million to its annual expenses and it expects to take a $400 million charge in the current quarter for the one-time bonus. The amount of the bonus will vary based on length of service, reaching up to $1,000 for an individual with 20 years of service.”

As Scott S. Powell, a well-known economist of the Discovery Institute, stated on January 12th in Investors Business Daily, “The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 Is Already Delivering”:

“If there is one thing about which most economists understand and agree it’s the law of supply and demand. A derivative of that law is that demand and velocity of transactions tend to diminish as costs increase. While few individuals disagree about this, many in the collective body of economists have become so politicized that when it comes to the  cost  of  variables,  such  as  taxes  and  regulations, that  consensus  all  but vanishes.

Indeed, to listen to many of the pundits and  experts  there  seems  to  be  confusion, denial  and  disagreement  about  how the cost of regulations and taxes actually affect economic  activity. . . .

Recently, Princeton economics professor and former vice chairman of the Federal Reserve Alan Blinder stated in the Wall Street Journal that there was little economic evidence  “that  tax  benefits  showered  on  corporations  will  translate mostly  into  higher wages  and vastly  faster economic  growth.”

It’s not at all difficult to grasp the reasons for the markedly different economic performance of the Obama years as compared to what we have experienced in just one year of  the  Trump  administration. Obama’s best year of his two terms delivered a 2.6% growth rate, and he was the only president in some 88 years (since Herbert Hoover) to have failed to deliver economic growth of 3% in any one year he was in office.

In contrast, in the first two full quarters  of  the Trump  administration, the  economy experienced 3.2%  growth.

During his eight years, Obama oversaw an output of some 3,069 regulatory rules and nine new taxes that were part of the Obama Care health law, adding nearly $900 billion in costs to the U.S. economy, and a record 572,000 pages to the Federal Register. In contrast, in his first 11 months, Trump has eliminated some 66 significant rules while adding only three, which equates to a ratio of 22 to 1 — far exceeding the standards of his Executive Order 13771 requiring 2 old rules to be eliminated for every new one added.

The stock market closed out 2017 with a record increase for the eighth year of economic expansion, largely due to deregulation and anticipation of tax cuts.

No sooner had the ink dried on President Trump’s signature on the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 on December 22, then more than a dozen companies, such as AT&T, Comcast NBC, Boeing, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Kansas City Southern, announced special $1,000 bonuses to more than 300,000 employees, and tens of billions of dollars of spending increase on plant, capacity, facilities and workforce development.

2018 has come in like a lion with the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act delivering more headline news. Now it’s reported that more than one million American workers at some 60 companies will be receiving pay raises and/or bonuses — undeniably attributable to the reduction of corporate tax rates from 35% to 21%. Wells Fargo, PNC, Bank of America, Fifth Third Bank, and BB&T, to name just a few — all cranked up minimum wages paid to $15/hour and spread the new-found wealth anticipated from tax savings in generous bonuses to more than a hundred thousand employees.

President Trump said from the beginning that lowering tax rates, simplifying the tax code, and making American companies more competitive would be the fuel that propels our economy to new heights.

It’s baffling that political bias can obviate empirical evidence and common sense. One surely doesn’t need   a Ph.D.  in economics to grasp how tax and regulatory costs affect behavior.

By helping companies become more competitive  through  lower  tax  rates, a  simplified tax code, incentivized capital investment, and removal of regulatory barriers, President  Trump  and  the  Republican  Congress  have  actually  delivered, in  the  first  year of  working  together, the  essential  foundation  to  make  America  great  again.”

On January 17, Stephen Moore, another well-known economist, stated in Investors Business Daily in an article entitled “Trump Tax Cut Is Already Working”:

“With the recent announcement of Walmart’s increasing starting wages and Fiat Chrysler’s opening a new plant (with 2,500 jobs) in Michigan, there are now more than a hundred companies that have offered bonuses and benefit hikes to their workers due to the tax cut. An estimated 1 million workers have benefited. This after less than one month.

Liberals disparage all of this as a “publicity stunt.” To hundreds of thousands of families, this is a wonderful stunt, and let’s hope to see a lot more examples of it in the weeks and months ahead.

The stock market has reached multiple new highs since the tax bill took effect on Jan. 1. Workers are more optimistic about the job market than any time in at least a decade.

I helped work with candidate Donald Trump to refine this tax reform plan, and I was ridiculed as too optimistic on how it might help the economy. But already Trump’s economic accomplishments have managed to exceed my lofty expectations. The tax cut isn’t the only factor here, but you’d have to be wearing ideological blinders to not see a link.

We are also learning that taxes influence how politicians behave.  . .

California and New York officials are investigating whether their states can convert income tax payments into tax-deductible charitable contributions to the state government. Good luck with that.

Why would they go to all this trouble if taxes didn’t matter to constituents? . .  . .

that charities are subject to the old adage: If you tax something, you will get less of it.

Well, yes, every politician in America should hold that thought — especially when they contemplate higher taxes on work, profits, savings and so on. But in this case, higher growth from lower tax rates is likely to lead to more income, and thus more, not less, charitable giving — just as we saw in the 1980s when tax rates fell from 70% to 28%.

The timeless economic lesson here is that taxes profoundly influence how and where we live our lives. We tax cigarettes and booze because we want people to consume less of them. There are proposals all over the country to tax soda pop, sugar and carbon emissions so we consume or produce less of them.

So why is it so hard to accept the reality that if we lower taxes on virtuous activities — work, investment, starting a business or saving for retirement — we will get more of these? And why is anyone surprised that this is already starting to happen?

By the way, government officials in China, Mexico, India and much of Europe are angry about America slashing its corporate tax rate from 35% to 21%: That giant sucking sound is capital and jobs from all over the world coming to low-tax America.

Meanwhile, Democrats in Congress — every one of whom voted against the tax bill — keep running around the country saying that their top agenda item, if they win the midterm elections, is to repeal this policy that is already creating jobs. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if they started rooting for America rather than against it?”

But even before the tax bill, Maria Bartiromo, the well-known Fox Business consultant, was telling her friends buy US stocks.  As Ms. Bartiromo stated in a December 14, 207 article entitled “Dow 24000 and the Trump Boom”:

“I’m not in the habit of giving stock tips or making market calls. I’ve never claimed to be an investment strategist. But after spending years reporting on business and finance, I was convinced on the night of Nov. 8, 2016, that the conventional market wisdom was way off target. . . .

When I sat down around 10:30 on election night for a Fox News panel discussion, Dow futures were down about 700 points. Markets like certainty; it was understandable that some investors were selling. Mr. Trump seemed to present more uncertainty than Hillary Clinton, who was essentially promising a continuation of the Obama administration. Mr. Trump’s talk about ripping up the North American Free Trade Agreement, for example, created big unknowns and potentially significant risks.

The election night selloff turned out to be a huge buying opportunity. Companies had been sitting on cash—not investing or hiring. Obama Care compliance was a nightmare for many business owners. It made them wonder what other big idea from Washington would haunt them in the future. Mrs. Clinton was likely to increase business costs further, while Mr. Trump had vowed to reduce them. Even in the middle of the election-night market panic, the implications for corporate revenue and earnings growth seemed obvious.

The next morning, with the Trump victory confirmed, I told my colleague Martha MacCallum that I would be “buying the stock market with both hands.” Investors began doing the same.

U.S. markets have added $6 trillion in value since the election, with investors around the world wanting in on America’s new growth story. The Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta is now forecasting the third straight quarter of U.S. gross domestic product growth around 3%.

It’s not just an American growth story. For the first time in a long time the world is experiencing synchronized growth, which is why Goldman Sachs and Barclays among others have recently predicted 4% global growth in 2018. The entire world benefits when its largest economy is healthy, and the vibrancy overseas is reinforcing the U.S. resurgence.

As the end of the Trump administration’s first year approaches, it’s a good time to review the progress of the businessman elected on a promise to restore American prosperity.

Year One has been nothing short of excellent from an economic standpoint. Corporate earnings have risen and corporate behavior has changed, measured in greater capital investment.

Business people tell me that a new approach to regulation is a big factor. During President Obama’s final year in office the Federal Register, which contains new and proposed rules and regulations, ran to 95,894 pages, according to a Competitive Enterprise Institute report. This was the highest level in its history and 19% higher than the previous year’s 80,260 pages. The American Action Forum estimates the last administration burdened the economy with 549 million hours of compliance, averaging nearly five hours of paperwork for every full-time employee.

Behind these numbers are countless business owners who have told me they set aside cash for compliance, legal fees and other costs of regulation. That money could have been used to fund projects that strengthened their businesses. President Trump has charted a new course, prioritizing the removal of red tape and rolling back regulations through executive orders. The Federal Register page count is down 32% this year. Mr. Trump says red tape becomes “beautiful” when it is eliminated, and people who manage businesses certainly agree.     . . .

Much has changed this year. Companies from Broadcom to Boeing have announced they’ll move overseas jobs back to the U.S. American companies hold nearly $3 trillion overseas and may soon be able to bring that money home without punitive taxation. Businesses have begun to open up the purse strings, which is why things like commercial airline activity are rising substantially as executives seek new opportunities. Companies are looking to invest in growth. . . .

After reaching Dow 24000, where can markets and the economy go from here? I’m not going to make predictions, but it stands to reason that the economy is better off when federal policy doesn’t discourage people who have a demonstrated ability to work, earn, spend and invest.”

On January 7, 2018, Charles Gasparino, another business reporter for Fox News, stated in the New York Post, “On the economy, Trump Has Been Crazy Like a Fox”:

“With the Dow crossing 25,000, it’s worth pointing out the pitfalls that could reverse some of those gains — and how to avoid them.

One thing we don’t have to worry about is the economic sanity of President Trump.

In fact, it’s safe to say that the current president, for all his temperamental flaws and petty insecurities, makes his tightly wound predecessor, Barack Obama, look like a raving madman when it comes to showing sense on economic growth. Armchair psychiatrists are having a field day diagnosing the president’s mental state from afar, especially after his increasingly bizarre tweeting, but the market says otherwise.

Consider: The United States had one of the highest corporate tax rates in the world — so high that companies (and jobs) were fleeing to places like Ireland. That’s why it was perfectly sane to lower the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 21 percent as Trump just did, and presto: Corporations are announcing plans to hire more workers, and the economy, which was expected to slow after seven years of weak growth, is heating up. The markets are predicting that growth with their surge.

Likewise, regulations have been strangling businesses for years while making it difficult for banks to lend to consumers and small business. Trump went out and hired perfectly sane regulators who basically pulled the federal government’s boot off the neck of the business community.

It was described to me as a de facto tax cut by one business owner that gives him leeway to hire more people. A major win for the working class.

And since so many of my fellow journalists are at it, let me do a little psychoanalysis of what an economically insane person might do as president.

An insane president would threaten a significant tax increase immediately upon taking office following a financial crisis, and then eventually impose one on individuals and small businesses still in recovery.

He’d impose job-crushing regulations on these same businesses as unemployment rose. He’d put a cumbersome mandate on businesses that upends the entire health care system just as the economy was finally turning a corner.

A really insane president would blow nearly $1 trillion on a stimulus plan with little planning and direction, wasting much of the money on boondoggles (see: Solyndra) and then laugh at the lack of “shovel ready” jobs created. He’d then try to spread his delusion to the masses, telling them to ignore historically low wage growth, anemic economic growth and the massive amount of people who dropped out of the work force because the stock market rallied, thanks in large part to the Fed printing money instead of his own fiscal policies.

Is Barack Obama crazy? No, but his post-2008 economic policies were. Are all Trump’s tweets sane? No, but smart investors with lots of skin in the game think his policies are perfectly rational, and that’s why the markets are soaring along with the prospect of economic growth.

Can Trump just sit back and act like a clown for the rest of his presidency as the economy and markets lift all boats? No again. Relying on the markets or the economy to disguise abhorrent presidential behavior is a fool’s game. Corrections always occur, and will occur if corporate earnings don’t match the investor enthusiasm built into Dow’s recent rise.

An unexpected burst of inflation that would force the Fed to raise interest rates could hurt both stocks and GDP. Trump might indulge his inner populist and engage in a trade war with China, or repeal NAFTA, both of which would undoubtedly hurt economic growth and stocks.

For all the good things about the business side of the tax reform bill, other parts are more complicated: Small businesses got a sliver of the tax breaks given to corporations; same goes for working-class people who don’t pay much in federal income taxes in the first place. But people who do pay a lot may get crushed when tax season rolls around. Individuals in high-tax states (like New York) could get hammered because the plan barely lowers the top rate and plugs so many deductions.

To pay for their higher taxes, these people could curb their personal spending, meaning less economic growth and possibly lower stock prices.

But none of these hiccups suggest a madman is at the helm of the US economy, which is something to consider the next time you hear Donald Trump is crazy.”

After sending out my newsletter, Harry C. Moser, President of the Reshoring Initiative contacted me and stated:

“Nice piece. I attach our data showing that reshoring and FDI job announcements in 2017 were up over 200% from 2016 to about 240,000, confirming your thesis. “

See his attached powerpoint.  Reshoring & FDI trends 4 slides

WILL 2018 BE THE YEAR OF THE US CHINA TRADE WAR?

As indicated above, the real concern is whether this January and 2018 will be the year a trade war start with China followed by a NAFTA crackup.

In November 2017 I was in Beijing during the Trump visit.  Xi Jinping and Chinese government officials know how important Trump is to their own economy and they gave Trump a “state visit plus”.  Chinese television stated that no US President was given such a welcome since President Nixon.  To see pictures and a video of Trump’s visit to China from Chinese television, which was broadcast all over China, see https://www.dropbox.com/sh/sx2x6qpy7cf77a1/AAAFty0_SwObgVvT-tXbVknVa?dl=0.

During and after the China visit, the US press stated that President Xi played Trump, but the Chinese media at the same time was saying that Trump played President Xi.

But pundits are predicting that 2018 is the year of the US China trade war.  I suspect that although President Trump will issue tariffs in the Section 201 Solar Products and Washing Machines cases, there will be no real trade war so long as the Chinese government opens up its own economy to foreign investment and imports.  Lighthizer is favoring changing Investment guidelines under CFIUS to ban all Chinese investment in areas where China bans US investment.  Essentially reciprocity.

Opening up Chinese barriers to US trade and investment is a strategy every Administration has followed with China be it Bill Clinton, George W. Bush or Barak Obama.  Trump, Wilbur Ross and USTR Lighthizer will keep up extreme pressure on China to open its markets to US exports and investment.  If China refuses, there could well be a trade war.  But such a trade war would be for the right reason.

But if Trump puts up protectionist high tariffs on Solar Cells, Washing Machines, steel, aluminum products, and China imports, that will be when the damage to the economy will happen.

SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA ON FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS

In the attached August 18th Federal Register notice based on an August 14th Presidential Memorandum, Presidential Memorandum for the United States Trade Representative whitehouseg, President Trump pulled the trigger on the Section 301 Intellection property case against China.  The Section 301 investigation could take a year and probably will lead to negotiations with the Chinese government on technology transfer.  If the negotiations fail, the US could take unilateral action, such as increasing tariffs, or pursue a case through the World Trade Organization.  Unilateral actions under Section 301, however, also risk a WTO case against the United States in Geneva.

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) held a hearing on October 10th at the International Trade Commission.  During the October 10th hearing, only two US companies appeared to argue that their IP was stolen by Chinese government actions.

Acting Assistant USTR for China Terry McCartin, commenting on the dearth of business witnesses, said some companies had expressed concern “about retaliation or other harm to their businesses in China if they were to speak out in this proceeding.”

On January 18th, it was reported that President Trump was considering a big “fine” as punishment for China’s alleged theft of intellectual property.  In an interview, Trump stated,

“We have a very big intellectual property potential fine going, which is going to come out soon.”

Although Trump did not define what he means by “fine,” Section 301 allows the US to impose retaliatory tariffs on Chinese goods or other trade sanctions until China changes its policies.

Trump further stated:

“We’re talking about big damages. We’re talking about numbers that you haven’t even thought about.”

Trump said he will be discussing this action in his State of the Union address on January 30th.  Trump also recently stated that he hopes there will not be a trade war with China. “I don’t think so, I hope not. But if there is, there is.”

NAFTA PROBABLY WILL NOT BE TERMINATED. IF IT IS, REPUBLICANS, INCLUDING TRUMP, CAN KISS THE ELECTIONS GOODBYE

On August 16th, United States, Canada and Mexico sat down together for the first round of talks to formally reopen NAFTA.  On July 17th, the USTR released its attached “Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation”, USTR NAFTA RENGOTIATION OBJECTIVES.  On January 28th, there will be a major NAFTA negotiation round in Montreal.

But because of the warnings of the impact of a termination on the US economy and his own constituents, President Trump probably will not terminate NAFTA.  Negotiations will be slow, but the three countries eventually will come to a deal.  On January 17, 2018, Politico reported that Senator Chuck Grassley of Iowa, who if very concerned about the impact of a withdrawal from NAFTA on agriculture, is now feeling more optimistic:

“Sen. Chuck Grassley said he took “some comfort” in Trump’s recent remarks at the American Farm Bureau Federation’s convention in which the president refrained from directly threatening to withdraw from NAFTA. . . .

Grassley also warned that if negotiations aren’t completed by a self-imposed March deadline and that deadline is not extended, “then there is no hope of agreement” because of the upcoming Mexican presidential election and the 2018 midterm elections in the U.S. Upon hearing that Trump said he would be “a little bit flexible” with regards to a NAFTA decision based on Mexico’s July election, Grassley said that “ought to give some comfort to the people that he is fairly reasonable on a timetable.”

On January 17th in an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Killing Nafta Would Ruin American Farmers”, Karl Rove, a well-known Republican strategist, predicted that if President Trump withdraws from NAFTA, that would hurt farmers and they would not vote Republican in the midterms or for Trump at reelection time:

“In a Wall Street Journal interview last week, President Trump said if he were to “terminate” the North American Free Trade Agreement, it “would be frankly a positive for our country.”

This bluster could be a negotiating ploy before the next trilateral Nafta talks, set for Jan. 28 in Montreal. If not, Mr. Trump should stop threatening. Withdrawing from Nafta would immediately kill American jobs, while handing Democrats the midterm elections on a silver platter. . . .

Nafta is especially important to American farmers and ranchers. U.S. agricultural exports to Mexico and Canada were $8.9 billion in 1993, before the agreement kicked in. Today, they are $39 billion, accounting for 30% of America’s farm exports.

These exports are critical in many states with key elections this year. In North Dakota, which Mr. Trump won by 36 points, Republicans want to flip the Senate seat held by Democrat Heidi Heitkamp. But the state’s commerce commissioner, Jay Schuler, says North Dakota exports 84% of its crops—worth $3.5 billion—to Mexico and Canada. Withdrawing from Nafta would subject those products to high foreign tariffs in force before the deal took effect, leaving farm families very unhappy.

Republicans also hope to flip Senate seats in Missouri and Indiana, both of which Mr. Trump carried by 19 points. The GOP is fighting to keep governorships in Iowa and Kansas, which the president won by 9 points and 21 points, respectively.

These campaigns will be much more difficult if farm economies are ruined by Nafta termination. Missouri is a major producer of corn, soybeans, beef and turkey; Indiana of corn and soybeans; Iowa of corn, soybeans and pork; and Kansas of wheat, corn and beef. Much of this is exported to Mexico. If the U.S. pulled out of Nafta, Mexican tariffs would snap back to 75% on American chickens, high-fructose corn syrup and potatoes, 45% on turkey, and 25% on beef. . . .

Then there are the car-making states. In the almost quarter-century since Nafta went into effect, the U.S. auto industry has built a hemispheric supply chain to help it compete with European and Asian auto makers.

Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee each have important Senate races, and all but Indiana have governor’s contests, too. In each of those states, at least 9% of the workforce is tied to autos, and in Michigan the figure is 20%. Their exports of cars and auto parts range from $5.9 billion in Tennessee to $26 billion in Michigan.

If Mr. Trump made good on his Nafta threat, he would disrupt the auto industry’s supply chain, making American-made cars more expensive at home and less competitive abroad. Does he really want to blow up these states’ economies—along with those of roughly a dozen other states with auto production (including Missouri, Pennsylvania and West Virginia)?

I haven’t even gotten to the crucial elections in border states like Texas and Arizona, which are important way stations for trade with Mexico and whose economies would face major difficulties if Nafta disappears.

In discussing Nafta, Mr. Trump keeps getting his numbers wrong. Last week he declared that the U.S. has a $71 billion trade deficit with Mexico and “we lose $17 billion with Canada.” Actually, after counting sales of goods and services, the trade deficit with Mexico in 2016 was just $55.6 billion. With Canada, the U.S. ran a $12.5 billion surplus.

Does Mr. Trump ignore the U.S. advantage in services—everything from insurance to banking to logistics—because it undermines his anti-Nafta case? Or, despite coming from the service industry himself, does he think service jobs are less worthy than manufacturing ones? Try defending that proposition to employees at Travelers (a big insurance player in Canada) or FedEx and UPS (which provide logistics and shipping there) or Wal-Mart (Mexico’s largest retailer) or MetLife (which insures 78% of Mexican government employees) or Citibank (which owns Mexico’s second-biggest bank).

Any trade agreement that is two decades old needs updating. Nafta is no exception, especially given the growth of e-commerce and the digital economy. But bad policy is bad politics. Killing Nafta would damage Republicans in agricultural, auto and border states and help elect more Democrats in 2018, strengthening the party’s impeachment efforts. Mr. President, it isn’t worth it.”

THE TRADE WEAKNESS IN DONALD TRUMP’S ECONOMIC POLICY—NO TRADE DEALS TO DATE OR ON THE HORIZON—MAYBE TIME TO RENEGOTIATE THE TPP??

As stated in my last blog post, President Trump dropped the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, has made noises about dropping the US Korea agreement and may kill the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) with Mexico and Canada.  Even though NAFTA may ultimately be renegotiated, the real problem is that with Trump’s policy of weaponizing trade agreements, no other country will enter into a trade agreement with the US.  As Robert Zoellick, the former USTR under Bush, states above:

“No country wants to do a bilateral deal with Mr. Trump now because he demands managed trade, not fair competition. He wants excuses to raise barriers, not rules to boost trade. That’s why Mr. Trump will use his indictment of China’s intellectual-property practices to justify more protectionism, not solve the problems.”

As stated above, that is a huge problem for US farmers because almost 50% of farm products produced in the US are exported.

During the time when the TPP was being discussed in Congress, its passage was in trouble because many Senators and Congressmen believed the US did not get enough and many Senators and Congressmen wanted a a better deal.

On January 21, Tokyo will be hosting TPP talks for the other 11 countries that have decided to go forward with the TPP.  Maybe President Trump should consider a renegotiation of the TPP.  If the other 11 countries refuse to renegotiate the deal with the US, nothing lost, but the other 11 countries might be very interested if the US indicated possibly joining the TPP but under very strict conditions.  The appeal of the US market is huge to the other countries and that would give President Trump and USTR Lighthizer the chance to show off their negotiating skills.  Moreover, that would be one way for the US and Trump’s constituents, especially in the Agriculture area, to get a trade agreement they can benefit from with a number of other countries.  Nothing ventured, nothing gained

SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE

On May 17, 2017, Suniva filed a Section 201 Escape Clause against all Solar Cell imports from all countries at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  On May 23, 2017, in the attached Federal Register notice, ITC iNITIATION NOTICE SOLAR CELLS, the ITC decided to go ahead and institute the case.

The ITC had to determine whether “crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) cells (whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products) are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or the threat thereof, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported articles.”

The ITC reached an affirmative injury determination in the case on September 22, 2017, and then proposed a remedy to the President.

The Commission issued its report to the President on November 13, 2017.  The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) has held remedy hearings. and President Trump must issue his remedy determination on January 26th.  Many Solar Cells users along with newspaper editorials have urged the President to do nothing because of the bad impact on downstream solar companies, but many commentators expect the President to  issue tariffs against solar cell imports.

President Trump also faces a February 4th deadline to impose trade relief in response to the ITC 201 Affirmative decision on Washing Machines.

SECTION 232 STEEL AND ALUMINUM CASES PICK UP—SECTION 232 STEEL REPORT GOES TO THE PRESIDENT

As mentioned in the last newsletter, the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases appeared to stall, but the cases picked up steam again.  On January 11, 2018, the Commerce Department sent the final Section 232 Steel Report to the President.  On that day Commerce announced:

“Today Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross formally submitted to President Donald J. Trump the results of the Department’s investigation into the effect of steel mill product imports on U.S. national security. After this submission, by law, the President has 90 days to decide on any potential action based on the findings of the investigation.”

Commerce will release a public report after the President makes his decision in 90 days.

Across the board tariffs on steel imports would create enormous collateral damage on the many US producers that use steel as a raw material input to produce downstream steel products.  Such a remedy would probably result in the loss of 100s of thousands of US job.

That is the problem with purely protectionist decisions.  They distort the US market and simply transfer the problems of the steel industry to other downstream industries.

NEW SECTION 232 CASE AGAINST URANIUM IMPORTS

On January 16th, Ur-Energy USA Inc. and Energy Fuels Resources Inc. filed a section 232 petition at Commerce claiming that imports of uranium from state-owned and state-subsidized companies in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan now fulfill 40 percent of U.S. demand, compared to the less than 5 percent satisfied by U.S. production. The Denver-based companies claim that imports from China will grow in the coming years. The companies also argue the volume of imports from Russia will only grow after a decades-old agreement that restricted imports from that country in exchange for suspending anti-dumping duties expires in 2020.  The Petition states:

“The U.S. uranium industry needs immediate relief from imports that have grown dramatically and captured almost 80% of annual U.S. uranium demand. Our country cannot afford to depend on foreign sources — particularly Russia, and those in its sphere of influence, and China — for the element that provides the backbone of our nuclear deterrent, powers the ships and submarines of America’s nuclear Navy, and supplies 20% of the nation’s electricity.”

NO SYMPATHY FOR BOMBARDIER IN BOEING FIGHT.

Recently, a number of reporters have contacted me about the Civil Aircraft from Canada, Bombardier-Boeing, case because the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) will vote on the injury case on January 26th.  I have told the reporters that there is a 95% chance that the ITC goes affirmative and that Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders are issued.

As stated in prior newsletters, I have no sympathy for Bombardier because the Quebec Government directly invested $1 billion into Bombardier’s production process, which resulted in a very high CVD rate. The entire purpose of the US CVD law and CVD laws along with WTO Subsidy Agreement and the WTO Civil Aircraft Agreement is that private companies should not have to compete in commercial markets against the Government and that is just what has happened at Bombardier.

Also Bombardier refused to participate and cooperate in the Commerce Department’s antidumping case, which was a fatal error, resulting in a very high Antidumping Rate based on All Facts Available.  Essentially an AFA rate is a penalty for a respondent refusing to cooperate in the Commerce Department’s investigation.  The Canadian Government would have reached an identical decision in the Antidumping Case if a a respondent refused to provide requested information in its questionnaire response.  The EC would take the same position.

WINE FIGHT AGAINST BRITISH COLUMBIA AND CANADA

In the attached complaint filed by the United States against Canada on Wine, WTO WINE COMPLAINT, on October 2, 2017 the Trump administration revived an Obama-era World Trade Organization case against Canadian rules that have allegedly kept U.S. wine off grocery store shelves in British Columbia.

On January 16th, the Australian Government jumped into the case, challenging the Canadian government’s handling of wine sales, accusing Ottawa of practices that appear to discriminate against imported wine.  Australia says that the Canadian government and four provinces – British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Nova Scotia – use taxes, duties and a range of distribution, licensing and sales measures that unfairly affect imported wine. It argues that such practices are in violation of the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade.  Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo stated:

“While it would have been preferable to resolve this issue bilaterally, it is appropriate to commence dispute proceedings given the lack of progress.”

In fact, BC Wine regulations are probably the most protectionist in the World, worse than China requiring the equivalent of an 80% tariff to sell imported wine.  BC protectionist measures on wine simply feed into the Trump argument that NAFTA is not a true free trade agreement.

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

As stated in numerous past newsletters, there is another more productive way to solve the Steel crisis and fix the trade problem and help US companies, including Steel and other companies, adjust to import competition.  This program has a true track record of saving US companies injured by imports.

This was a problem personally approved by President Ronald Reagan.  The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program does not put up barriers to imports.  Instead the TAA for Companies program works with US companies injured by imports on an individual basis to make them more competitive.  The objective of TAA for Companies is to save the company and by saving the company it saves the jobs that go with that company.

But as stated in the video below, for companies to succeed they must first give up the mentality of international trade victimhood.

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

In addition, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.  To retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job is $50,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

But TAA for Companies has been cut to the bone.  On August 22, 2017, the U.S. Commerce Department announced $13.3 Million to Boost Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers for the TAA for Firms/Companies program.

Are such paltry sums really going to help solve the manufacturing crisis in the Steel and other industries?  Of course not!!

But when the program was originally set up, the budget was much larger at $50 to $100 million.  If the program was funded to its full potential, yes steel companies and other companies could be saved.

To those libertarian conservatives that reject such a program as interference in the market, my response is that this program was personally approved by your icon, President Ronald Reagan.  He understood that there was a price for free trade and avoiding protectionism and that is helping those companies injured by import competition.  But teaching companies how to be competitive is a much bigger bang for the buck than simply retraining workers.  And yes companies can learn and be competitive again in the US and other markets.

NEW RECENT TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

ALUMINUM SHEET-FIRST SELF-INITIATED COMMERCE CASE IN MANY YEARS

On November 28, 2017, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) announced the self-initiation of antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of imports of common alloy aluminum sheet from the People’s Republic of China (China).  This is the first time Commerce has self-initiated an antidumping and countervailing duty case in probably over 10 years.

SODIUM GLUCONATE, GLUCONIC ACID, AND DERIVIATIVE PRODUCTS

On November 30, 2017, PMP Fermentation Products, Inc. filed AD and CVD cases against imports of Sodium Gluconate, Gluconic Acid, and Derivative Products from China and France.

PLASTIC DECORATIVE RIBBON

On December 27, 2017, Berwick Offray, LLC filed AD and CVD cases against imports of Plastic Decorative Ribbon from China.

LARGE DIAMETER WELDED PIPE

On January 17, 2018, American Line Pipe Producers Association filed AD and CVD cases against imports of Large Diameter Welded Pipe from China, Canada, Greece, India, Korea and Turkey.

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST US

BUTAN-1 FROM US, TAIWAN AND MALAYSIA

On December 29, 2017, China’s Ministry of Commerce initiated an antidumping investigation against Imports of Butan-1-ol from US, Taiwan and Malaysia.  The four US companies targeted by the case are:

1)  Eastman Chemical Company

2)  The Dow Chemical Company

3)  BASF Corporation

4)  OXEA Corporation

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law.  Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2018.01 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2018.02 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2018.03.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NO NEW RECENT 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

If anyone has any questions about these cases or about the Trump Trade Crisis, Taxes and Trade, NAFTA, FTAs, , including the impact on agriculture, the impact on downstream industries, the Section 232 cases, the 201 case against Solar Cells, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP SIMPLISTIC APPROACH TO TRADE INJURES US COMPANIES, US AGRICULTURE BADLY HURT, NAFTA NOT GOING WELL, SECTION 301 AND 232 CASES, TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE, SOLAR, FALSE CLAIMS ACT, MORE CASES

White House Washington DC

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR AUGUST 30, 2017

 

Dear Friends,

As stated in many past blog posts, it is easy for Candidate Trump to talk protectionism, but President Trump is now learning it is much more complicated.  Trump’s decision to push protectionism endangers his standing with a core constituency—farmers and rural America.  As stated below, Trump’s decision to tear up the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) has already had a major negative impact on farmers.

Trump’s call for an economic war with China and other countries is already having a ramification.  Trump’s threat to pull out of NAFTA is not helping the US position in the negotiations.  Trump simply does not understand the ramifications of the trade deal when he terminated the TPP or when he threatens to tear up NAFTA.

The Trump trade policy is based on one arrogant presumption—the US market is the largest in the World and the rest of the World must kowtow, come on bended knee, to get into the US and that fact gives the US leverage.  But that fact is no longer true.  The 11 countries in the TPP have a larger market than the US.  China has a larger market than the US so the Trump Administration has to be very careful when it plays this card.

In fact, Canada and Mexico already can fall back on trade agreements they have with other countries, such as Europe.  The United States does not have that luxury.  The US decision by both Trump and the Democrats to go protectionist is further isolating the US in the trade area and is and will have major negative economic ramifications on the US economy.  The chickens will come home to roost.

Trump simply did not understand the dynamics of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and the ramifications of simply terminating it.  During the campaign, Candidate Trump stated that the TPP was a bad deal and if only he led the negotiating the team, it would be a better deal.  Thus, Trump argued that the TPP deal should be terminated and the US should then negotiate bilateral deals with the eleven countries in the TPP.

But two major problems with that strategy are becoming very clear.  First the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) does not have the personnel to negotiate 11 separate trade deals with the individual countries.  It took more than five years to negotiate the TPP.  With Trump’s steep cuts to the Government bureaucracy, the government resources simply are not there.

Second, Trump did not understand the dynamics of the TPP deal.  During those negotiations, countries could give the US concessions because they would get offsets from other countries and the importance of gaining access to the markets of 11 other countries was worth the concession to the US.

But with no other countries in bilateral deals, the other countries are less willing to make the concessions the US is demanding.  In fact, as Robert Lighthizer, the USTR, has discovered, many of the countries in the TPP do not want to have a bilateral deal with the US.  They fear and rightly so that the US will demand too much.  Much easier to export and import from other countries.

The same problem is happening in the NAFTA negotiations.  Trump is threatening to leave NAFTA when he simply does not understand the dynamics of the deal and the devastating impact that such a withdrawal would have on US farmers and also US manufacturing industries, such as the US auto industry.  Trade is very complicated and running into the trade area like a bull in a China shop simply creates enormous damage.  That damage will be borne by the US agricultural industry and US manufacturers and that means the loss of 1000s if not 100s of thousands of jobs.

Labor unions and working men like the sound of being politically tough on trade and the foreigners, but when jobs are lost, those same people may not like the actual reality of a very protectionist policy.  Many American politicians, such as Donald Trump and Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, like to be tough on trade because foreigners do not vote.  But if the economy is hurt by Trump’s trade actions, his base will be hurt and he will not be the next President.  So there a lot riding on Trump’s trade policy and his Administration has run straight into the Wall of actual trade reality.

The only saving grace for Trump is that as evidenced by Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, the Democrats are even more protectionist than Trump.  But neither the Democrats nor Trump understand the true ramifications of simply walking away from trade deals that open up foreign markets.  The US agricultural industry is now learning those ramifications.

By kowtowing to the Steel industry with its 141,000 jobs, these trade actions could costs thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of jobs in downstream industries and other industries, such as Agriculture. It is time for the United States to wake up to the benefits of trade.

It is also time for the United States to find a way to make its companies more competitive in the US and international markets as they exist now rather than erect protectionist barriers to international competition.  See the article on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below and how companies, including steel companies, can be saved from import competition by making them competitive again.

USTR has also initiated a section 301 case against forced technology transfers in deals with China.  But in an August 30, 2017 article by Dan Harris, my partner, entitled “China US Trade Wars and the IP Elephant in the Room”, Dan states that in over one hundred deals with Chinese companies, he has not seen US companies forced to give over their Intellectual Property (“IP”) by the Chinese government.  Instead he has seen US companies make bad decisions leading them to give away their IP by their own volition.  If US companies do not protect their IP rights, they will lose them.  The US Government cannot protect against stupid mistakes.

Meanwhile, the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases remain on hold.  The Section 201 case against imports of Solar Cells continues with the ITC hearing being 11 hours long. The United States has intervened in a False Claims Act case against Furniture.  Commerce has also issued a circumvention determination in the Aluminum Extrusions case.

More Antidumping and Countervailing Duty and 337 cases have been filed against China and the trade beat goes on.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

THE WEAKNESS IN DONALD TRUMP’S ECONOMIC POLICY—TRADE

Donald Trump’s political strategy is fight the cultural war, but win the next election because of his economic policy.  If jobs and wages are up, more companies move into the US, Trump’s firm belief is that he wins the next Presidential election.  Even Michael Moore, the Democratic gadfly, believes that Trump will win reelection by carrying the states that he already won.  See https://www.fastcompany.com/40459122/michael-moore-says-trump-is-on-track-to-win-again-in-2020.

There is only one fly in the ointment, flaw in this strategy—Trade.  If the Trump trade policy hurts farmers, Trump could lose the rural states: Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, to name a few and that could lead to Trump’s loss in the next Presidential election.

The economic nationalist Steve Bannon, who is credited with helping get Donald Trump elected by in part pushing the American First Trump policy, was recently forced out of the White House.  Before he left, however, Bannon made his trade position crystal clear.  in an article entitled “Steve Bannon Unrepetent”, in the American Prospect” magazine on August 16, 2017, Bannon stated with regards to trade policy:

“We’re at economic war with China,” he added. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and  it’s gonna be them if we go down this path.  . .

Bannon went on to describe his battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade, and not to fall into a trap of wishful thinking in which complaints against China’s trade practices now had to take a backseat to the hope that China, as honest broker, would help restrain Kim.

“To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Bannon’s plan of attack includes: a complaint under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against Chinese coercion of technology transfers from American corporations doing business there, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminum dumping. “We’re going to run the tables on these guys. We’ve come to the conclusion that they’re in an economic war and they’re crushing us.”

From Bannon’s point of view, trade is economic war.

Although Bannon has since left the White House, President Trump and Commerce Secretary Ross apparently share Bannon’s thinking.  On August 22nd, without understanding the ramifications on his voter base, President Trump announced that he might simply cancel NAFTA.  Apparently, Trump believes that both Mexico and Canada are winning the economic war against the United States.

On August 28th, in an article entitled “Exclusive: Trump vents in Oval Office, “I want tariffs. Bring me some tariffs!”, Axios reported that in the first Oval Office meeting with Chief of Staff John Kelley and the last meeting with Steve Bannon, President Trump stated:

Trump, addressing Kelly, said, “John, you haven’t been in a trade discussion before, so I want to share with you my views. For the last six months, this same group of geniuses comes in here all the time and I tell them, ‘Tariffs. I want tariffs.’ And what do they do? They bring me IP. I can’t put a tariff on IP.”  . . .

“China is laughing at us,” Trump added. “Laughing.”

Kelly responded: “Yes sir, I understand, you want tariffs.” . . . .

Staff secretary Rob Porter, who is a key mediator in such meetings, said to the president: “Sir, do you not want to sign this?” He was referring to Trump’s memo prodding Lighthizer to investigate China — which may lead to tariffs against Beijing.

Trump replied: “No, I’ll sign it, but it’s not what I’ve asked for the last six months.” He turned to Kelly: “So, John, I want you to know, this is my view. I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs.”

Kelly replied: “Yes sir, understood sir, I have it.” . . .

Trump made sure the meeting ended with no confusion as to what he wanted.

“John, let me tell you why they didn’t bring me any tariffs,” he said. “I know there are some people in the room right now that are upset. I know there are some globalists in the room right now. And they don’t want them, John, they don’t want the tariffs. But I’m telling you, I want tariffs.” . . . .

Emphasis in the original.

Trump’s statements in this article ring true because during the Presidential campaign, Donald Trump made it very clear that he likes tariffs.

On August 28th, however, George Will in an Op-ed article entitled “Trump, The Novice  Protectionist” in Investors Business Daily responded to the Trump trade policy stating:

“Foreigners, however, have their uses. After the president trumpeted that the Dow surpassing the 22,000 mark was evidence of America’s resurgent greatness, The Wall Street Journal rather impertinently noted this: Boeing, whose shares have gained 50% this year and which accounted for 563 of the more than 2,000 points the Dow had gained this year en route to 22,000, makes about 60% of its sales overseas. Boeing has a backlog of orders for 5,705 planes, 75% going outside North America. For Apple, the second-biggest contributor (283 points) to this year’s Dow gain at that point, foreign sales are two-thirds of its total sales. Foreign sales are also two-thirds of the sales of McDonald’s, the third-biggest contributor (239 points).

Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute says that in the last 20 years the inflation-adjusted value of U.S. manufacturing output has increased 40% even though — actually, partly because — U.S. factory employment decreased 5.1 million jobs (29%).  . . . Increased productivity is the reason there can be quadrupled output from the same number of workers.  According to one study, 88% of manufacturing job losses are the result of improved productivity, not rapacious Chinese.

But those Democrats who think government should fine-tune everything are natural protectionists (Sen. Charles  Schumer: “They’re  rapacious, the  Chinese”)  and probably think Trump is too fainthearted because he is not protecting Americans from competition from Americans.  . . .”

TRUMP TRADE WAR—THE SIMPLISTIC APPROACH TO TRADE COULD WELL DAMAGE THE US ECONOMY AND DOOM THE TRUMP ECONOMIC PLAN

In the above articles about Bannon’s and Trump’s approach to trade along with the below op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Trump trade team reveal the protectionist bent of the Trump Administration, which is based, in part, on blind arrogance and a simplistic approach to trade policy.

The Bannon and Trump approach reveal fatal misunderstandings:  trade is a two-way street, and US exports are critical to the wellbeing of Donald Trump’s own constituents.  In international trade, what goes around comes around.  What the US does to other countries, they can do back to the US.

Moreover, Bannon, Ross and Trump are confusing economic warfare with economic competition.  The United States has always strongly believed that economic competition is good for the economy, the country and the US consumer.  The bedrock principle of the importance of economic competition to wellbeing of the US economy is the reason the US antitrust laws were enacted. As Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roger Alford of the US Justice Department’s Antitrust Division recently stated on August 30th at a Competition Policy Forum in Shanghai China:

Our continued engagement on this topic is significant for competition enforcement. We are the guardians of strong and vigorous competition for economic prosperity. Our lodestar is to promote competition, not to give preference to specific competitors, even when individual businesses jockey for advantage.  . . .

Emphasis added.

Bill Gates believed that Microsoft had to go to war with its competition, but frankly that is why Microsoft produced such good software.  CEOs of companies are driven by competition to produce better products at lower prices, which means stronger US companies and prosperity for the US economy and US consumers.  Stronger US companies means more jobs at higher wages.

Protecting US companies from international competition does not strengthen the US companies.  It weakens them and the poster child for such a point is the US Steel industry, which has had 40 years of protection from steel imports.

This is exactly why President Ronald Reagan was so opposed to protectionism.  As President Reagan stated above in June 1986: “Protectionism is destructionism. It costs jobs.”

Moreover, Steve Bannon and Donald Trump have not figured out one important point: Not only do companies compete against each other and States compete against each other, but the United States and other countries compete against each other.  The US decision to go the Protectionist route means it has given up competing, and, therefore, it will lose the economic war.  Trump’s and Bannon’s combined with the Democrat’s protectionist policies mean the US will lose the economic war because of its decision to look inward and no longer compete in the international economic marketplace.

US companies do not get stronger by protecting them from international competition, which simply promotes the mentality of international trade victimhood.  US companies get stronger by looking inward and working harder to become internationally competitive.  See the article about Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below.

The arrogance of the Steve Bannon and the Trump trade policy is based on the principle that the United States is the largest market in the World, and this gives the US leverage and, therefore, countries must kowtow and bend their head to get into the US market.  Although that principle may have been true twenty years ago, it is simply no longer true.

The Trans Pacific Partnership, for example, combines the markets of 12 countries, now 11 with the US exit, into one “huge” trading block.  Since Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are part of that block, the TPP market is a much larger market than the US alone.  Mexico and Canada are also in a stronger trade position than the US because they already have free trade agreements with a number of other countries, including the EC, and that gives them a substantial competitive advantage getting into those markets.  This fact gives Canada and Mexico leverage in the NAFTA negotiations even though Trump, Lighthizer and Ross simply do not understand the dynamics of the deal.

Maybe this is a major reason US companies move to Mexico and Canada to get better access to other foreign markets.  The United States is competing with other countries too.

Also in many ways, with 1.37 billion people China has a larger market than the US.  In 2006, at a speech in Beijing, the US Commercial Attaché stated that 75% of all Chinese, including rural Chinese, have a color television set.  Now that is close to 95% of 1.37 billion.  That is a larger market than the US with its 323 million.

Also the upper class and upper middle class in China, which numbers between 250 to more than 300 million, have an income closer to the US and that segment of the China market is the same size, if not larger, than the US.  That is why in the push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), House Speaker Paul Ryan used to state that 75% of the World’s consumers are outside the United States.

But China is also not this overwhelming behemoth with an economic juggernaut that is going to crush the US.  Yes, it may have a larger market, but on a per capita basis, it is much smaller.  Thus, the US per capita income on average is $57,000 where the Chinese per capita income is $8,000.  China has its own problems—keeping its people happy and fed.

Along with these problems, China has major weaknesses, which can be exploited by the US.  China has a very high personal tax rate, which can be as high at 45%.  This high tax rate is why many Chinese have emigrated to the US, looking for a lower tax rate and a better opportunity to keep the money they earn.  If Trump can drive taxes lower, that may result in more entrepreneurs and businesses moving to the US, e.g. Foxconn.

Another problem is the Chinese government’s strict control of information flowing into China by its very strong control of the internet.  Strict control of the internet stops knowledge flowing into China, which especially hurts the country’s high tech sector.  When information and knowledge stop, economies do not do as well.  The free flow of knowledge and ideas is critical for the most advanced economies and yet that is not true in China.

But arrogance is one of the great sins because it blinds you to all options.  To make a better deal in trade negotiations, the Administration has to do its homework and first understand the actual American interest.  If one is going to make America great again, one must first understand what is the nature of America’s interest in trade.  This requires understanding the dynamics of the trade deal in question, which President Trump prides himself in doing.  The Trump Administration must understand the actual trade deal closely, the US leverage points and the US weaknesses, what trade deals will help the US and the what trade deals will hurt the US interest.  Donald Trump’s failure in trade negotiations is to understand the dynamics of the deal and the leverage that the US has in trade negotiations.  In other words, with regards to trade, Trump simply does not understand “The Art of the Deal”.

In ripping up the TPP without even trying to renegotiate, Trump failed his own test because he did not understand the elements of the deal.  Trump’s philosophy was to do away with multilateral deals because they fall to the lowest common denominator and do only bilateral deals because that gives the US more control over the deal and if the country does not live up to its side of the bargain cancel the deal.

The problem with that approach is first the US government does not have the personnel at USTR, which is very lean and mean, to negotiate 11 separate trade deals with all the countries in the TPP.  It took more than 5 years to negotiate the TPP.

But secondly and more important, in recent bilateral negotiations, Canada, Mexico and Japan have all told the US do not assume that in bilateral deals or NAFTA, the United States will get the same deal it would have gotten in the TPP.  In fact, as indicated below, many countries in the TPP simply do not want to do a bilateral deal with the US—too much work.  Canada, Mexico and Japan were willing to give the US a better deal because they would gain access to a much greater market, the market of 11 additional countries.  That gave countries the political ability to play one national interest against another national interest.  Thus, Canada could give in to the US on dairy products because of the potential access to the much larger TPP market, including the Japanese and US markets.  Thus, countries in the TPP could use tradeoffs with other countries to open their markets further to US exports.  Those trades offs and the market access to the markets of 12 different countries does not exist with a bilateral deal with just the US.

On August 24, 2017, in an article entitled “Revived TPP may exclude trade concessions sought by US”, Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper, stated:

TOKYO — Japan is proposing suspending trade concessions made to the U.S. as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in order to resurrect the pact with the 11 remaining members.

Tokyo sounded out that proposal to other nations in the “TPP 11,” as those members became known after the U.S. withdrew from the deal. Senior negotiators will cite items they wish to see shelved during three days of talks starting Monday in Australia.

Washington had secured a number of major concessions from other nations in exchange for lower American tariffs on their exports. Though President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal, those concessions remain on the TPP’s books — to the consternation of other members.

If all the 11 participants agree unanimously, any such concession would be put on hold, and national regulations governing that element of the pact would remain in place.
But the suspensions would be lifted if and when the U.S. decides to return to the partnership.

While the remaining members are leaning toward keeping the lower tariffs agreed on among the initial group, they are likely to revisit specific trade rules.

The U.S. sided with major domestic drug companies and settled on an effective eight-year window before competitors can have access to proprietary pharmaceutical data. That moratorium exceeds international standards, and other countries think it would impede development of cheap generics. All members of the TPP 11 are expected to agree on freezing that provision.

Other provisions that may be suspended involve copyright protection periods, fair-competition policies governing state-owned enterprises and the opening of government procurement to foreign capital.

American exports would face a competitive disadvantage if an 11-member TPP goes into force. Tokyo hopes that U.S. meat industry leaders will speak up in favor of rejoining the trade deal.

Trade is the one weak link in Trump’s economic plan.  As indicated below, the decision to kill the TPP has already had a major negative impact on US agriculture and part of Trump’s base, the rural states, where agriculture is king.

SIMPLICITY IS OFTEN A GOOD TRADE POLICY BUT NOT WHEN THE POLICY IS SIMPLE MINDED AND NARROWLY FOCUSED

Trump has slowed down the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum Investigations because its “complicated”, but when Bannon and Trump take a very simplistic, black and white view of trade, it is extremely dangerous to the US economy and Donald Trump’s own constituents.

This is not a fight between Globalism and America First.  The America First strategy requires the Administration to understand deeply the interest of the United States and the interest of all the significant US industries in trade negotiations, including agriculture, not just the narrow Steel and Aluminum Industries. The Trump and  Bannon statements indicate a deep failure to analyze why Trump won the election and what the interest of the entire United States is in trade negotiations and also the interest of Donald Trump’s own constituents, the voters that elected Donald Trump President.

Bannon thinks that if we create a trade war with China and are tough on them we will win the economic trade war with China. But Bannon truly has forgotten why voters elected Donald Trump.

First, it was not just the US Steel and Aluminum industries that put Trump in the White House, it was the working man in many manufacturing plants throughout the United States.  Because of their economic, black white view of the World, Trump and Bannon want to put up barriers to steel imports to protect the US Steel industry and its 141,000 jobs without realizing the damaging impact of such an action on the millions of jobs in the downstream steel consuming industries.  Truthfully, if Donald Trump is going to be reelected, Trump himself, his trade team and Steve Bannon cannot be so simple minded.

More importantly Donald Trump also won because of farmers.  Although Trump won the States in the Blue Wall, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, he was also able to win the Presidency because he won the US heartland, including the states of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah and Florida.  What do those states have in common and in common with Wisconsin—Agriculture.  And the Trump trade policy is and has seriously hurt US farmers because US farmers are dependent on exports.

As the US Wheat Federation stated in the Section 232 Steel case, half of US wheat is exported.  Putting up protectionist walls invites retaliation against US agricultural exports.

Finally, one other point in direct response to Steve Bannon’s and Trumps statement, substantial trade relations prevent real shooting wars.  As indicated below in the Section 301 article, China is becoming more amenable on North Korea because of its enormous trade relationship with the United States.  The total US China trade relationship is $578.6 billion with $115.8 billion in US exports and $462.8 billion in imports from China.

In direct contrast, the US trade relationship with Russia is much, much smaller.  The total US Russia trade relationship is $38.1 billion with $11.2 in US exports and $27 billion in imports from Russia.  Truly peanuts in the global trade market.  It is better to compete with countries in the economic arena as compared to a real war, where millions die.

DEMOCRATS MORE PROTECTIONIST THAN DONALD TRUMP

The only saving grace for Donald Trump on trade is that the Democrats are even more protectionist.  On August 13th, Senator Chuck Schumer, who heads the Democrats in the Senate, told John Catsimatidis on his New York AM 970 radio show “The Cats Roundtable” that he is closer now to President Donald Trump than he ever was with former President Barack Obama on trade.  Senator Schumer stated:

“Trade is the thing [China cares] most about, and they’ve been treating us very badly on trade for a long time, frankly,.  I was closer in trade views to Donald Trump than I was to either George Bush or Barack Obama, on China anyway. I think we were much too easy on them. But if we got tough on them now, maybe they would relent, but we have to be real tough. So far, the administration has not been as tough as they should be, as far as I’m concerned.”

The Trump Administration should be very tough with China on trade, but it should carefully analyze what its true interests are and the interests of US voters that elected Donald Trump.  The US government should do everything in its power to drop barriers to US exports in China and other countries.  But protectionism for protectionism’s sake will not cure the problems of US manufacturing and right the US China trade balance

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR HURTS US AGRICULTURE AND US FARMERS

As mentioned in prior newsletter, the ox that will be gored by Trump’s trade policy is agriculture and that is just what is happening.  On August 7, 2017, in the attached extensive article entitled “Trump’s Trade Pullout Roils Rural America”, Trump’s Trade Pullout Roils Rural America – POLITICO Magazine, Politico did its homework and described in detail the deep negative impact of the Trump trade policy on US agriculture:

EAGLE GROVE, Iowa—On a cloud-swept landscape dotted with grain elevators, a meat producer called Prestage Farms is building a 700,000-square-foot processing plant. The gleaming new factory is both the great hope of Wright County, which voted by a 2-1 margin for Donald Trump, and the victim of one of Trump’s first policy moves, his decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

For much of industrial America, the TPP was a suspect deal, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which some argue led to a massive offshoring of U.S. jobs to Mexico. But for the already struggling agricultural sector, the sprawling 12- nation TPP, covering 40 percent of the world’s economy, was a lifeline. It was a chance to erase punishing tariffs that restricted the United States—the onetime “breadbasket of the world”—from selling its meats, grains and dairy products to massive importers of foodstuffs such as Japan and Vietnam.

The decision to pull out of the trade deal has become a double hit on places like Eagle Grove. The promised bump of $10 billion in agricultural output over 15 years, based on estimates by the U.S. International Trade Commission, won’t materialize. But Trump’s decision to withdraw from the pact also cleared the way for rival exporters such as Australia, New Zealand and the European Union to negotiate even lower tariffs with importing nations, creating potentially greater competitive advantages over U.S. exports.

A POLITICO analysis found that the 11 other TPP countries are now involved in a whopping 27 separate trade negotiations with each other, other major trading powers in the region like China and massive blocs like the EU. Those efforts range from exploratory conversations to deals already signed and awaiting ratification. Seven of the most significant deals for U.S. farmers were either launched or concluded in the five months since the United States withdrew from the TPP.

“I’m scared to death,” said Ron Prestage, whose North Carolina-based family pork and poultry business made its huge investment in the plant near Eagle Grove in part to reap expected gains from the TPP. “I don’t guess I’ve gone beyond the point of no return on the new plant, but we did already start digging our wells and started moving dirt.”

He and other agricultural business people and workers have reason for concern.

On July 6, the EU, which already exports as much pork to Japan as the United States does, announced political agreement on a new deal that would give European pork farmers an advantage of up to $2 per pound over U.S. exporters under certain circumstances—a move which, if unchecked, is all but certain to create a widening gap between EU exports and those from the United States.

European wine producers, who sold more than $1 billion to Japan between 2014 and 2016, would also see a 15 percent tariff on exports to Japan disappear while U.S. exporters would continue to face that duty at the border. For other products, the deal essentially mirrors the rates negotiated under the TPP, which the United States has surrendered, giving the EU a clear advantage over U.S. farmers.

The EU’s deal is all the more noteworthy because American farmers were relying on the TPP—to which the EU was not a member—to give them an advantage over European competitors. But in a further rebuke to the United States, Tokyo decided within a matter of weeks to offer the European nations virtually the same agricultural access to its market that United States trade officials had spent two excruciating years extracting through near-monthly meetings with their Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of the broader TPP negotiations; the United States is now left out.

The EU, which also recently inked a deal with Vietnam, is now moving forward with talks with Malaysia and is in the process of modernizing a pre-existing trade deal with Mexico.

Meanwhile, a bloc of four Latin-American countries—Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia, known as the Pacific Alliance—is quickly becoming the leading force for free trade in the region, announcing near the end of June it would commence its own negotiations with New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, heedless of its neighbor to the north.

On its own, Australia, which in 2015 cut a deal to undersell the United States in beef exports to Japan, announced another round of scheduled tariff cuts with Japan. Without the TPP, Australian ranchers eventually will enjoy a 19 percent tariff advantage over U.S. competitors. Australia is also prioritizing the conclusion of trade talks with Indonesia, the largest nation in Southeast Asia by gross domestic product.

The remaining 11 TPP countries have already met two times, with a third meeting planned, to move ahead with the revival of the deal without the United States. The so- called TPP-11 would be in direct response to Trump’s trade policy. Economic forecasts already show projected gains for countries involved. Canada, according to one estimate, could permanently gain an annual market share of $412 million in beef and $111 million in pork sales to Japan by 2035, because lower tariffs would enable it to eclipse America’s position in the market.

As China, which was never a part of the TPP, senses blood in the water, it is moving quickly to assert itself, rather than the United States, as the region’s trade arbiter. China is aiming to close talks by the end of this year on its behemoth Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership—a trade agreement involving 15 other Asia-Pacific countries.

None of these deals are yet in effect. But already there are signs that competitors are gaining market share over U.S. producers in the post-TPP landscape, as Pacific nations take a closer look at alternatives to U.S. exporters.

Over the first five months of 2017, U.S. exports to Japan of chilled pork, which is preferable to frozen meat, are up 2 percent over the previous year. But exports of chilled pork from Canada, a prime competitor, are up 19 percent. Likewise, in frozen pork, U.S. exports are up 28 percent. But exports from the EU, the leading competitor, are up 44 percent.

Japan, which saw the TPP not only as a source of economic growth but a counterweight to China, is now taking the lead in salvaging the deal. Its goal is to have some sort of agreement between the 11 other countries in place for the annual summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in November. Trump is expected to attend, creating the awkward possibility that he will witness all the handshakes and back slaps as his fellow leaders congratulate themselves on a deal.

For his part, Trump once promised a slew of “beautiful” deals to replace the TPP, but his administration has yet to lay out a detailed strategy. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers that an analysis is underway to determine where it makes most sense to pursue negotiations.

In the meantime, Lighthizer, a trade attorney who pressured Japan to voluntarily restrain its steel exports when he was a trade official in the 1980s, said Tokyo should just go ahead and lower their tariffs without expecting anything in return.

“I think in the areas like beef and the others, they ought to be making some unilateral concessions, at least temporary concessions,” he told lawmakers in June. “And I don’t quite understand why that doesn’t happen.”

Lighthizer said the administration still hopes to strike bilateral trade deals—that is, separate agreements with individual countries—but he conceded that “some of the TPP countries don’t want to do bilaterals.” The value of the TPP for many countries was that they could justify giving up protective tariffs in exchange for their own access to the markets of a wide pool of countries; many are unwilling to make such concessions for the smaller gains of a bilateral deal.

Lighthizer acknowledged that even Japan, at least for the time being, may not be interested in one-on-one negotiations with the U.S. . . .

That leaves workers in 13,000-person Wright County, whose survival depends largely on agriculture, with relatively few signs of optimism. Trump’s decision to walk away from the TPP has stoked uncertainty about U.S. trade policy and, more notably, the president’s commitment to rural America.

“He fooled a lot of people,” said Sandy McGrath, mayor of Eagle Grove, who is not affiliated with any party and did not support Trump. . . .

But the plant’s success will depend largely on export opportunities. More than 26 percent of the pork produced in the U.S. in 2016 was exported to foreign markets. And more than $1.5 billion of the nearly $6 billion in U.S. pork exports in 2016 headed for Japan.

“At the time those investment decisions were made, the U.S. had never turned down a free trade opportunity,” said Dermot Hayes, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University, referring to the Prestage plant and other pork-industry investments.

Hayes said the livestock industry had in its sights a future of expansion amid soaring export growth. After Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP, “that has pretty much disappeared,” he said. . . .

In April, when Trump was on the verge of withdrawing from NAFTA, Maier said he watched corn prices plummet in anticipation of the president’s decision. Trump relented, at the request of Perdue, the agriculture secretary, who appealed to the president with colorful maps showing the president’s base was largely concentrated in states that heavily rely on agriculture.

Ultimately, Trump agreed to renegotiations with Canada and Mexico instead. But Maier remains wary that, despite pledges by the administration to “do no harm” for agriculture, the mere act of reopening the deal with Canada and Mexico, the two largest destinations for U.S. agricultural exporters, could mess up what has been a very good thing for American farmers in the Midwest.

“Farmers are willing to open up NAFTA, but if we open up NAFTA, there’s the risk of going backwards,” he said. . . .

The Obama administration, backed by a large cadre of free-trade Republicans, used that reality to grow support for the TPP among businesses and agricultural interests eager to grab a better foothold in a fast-growing area of the world where the U.S. has few formal trade deals.

But through the slow churn of negotiations, the dazzlingly complex deal among 12 countries soon fell victim to time and circumstance. After more than five years of talks, bleary-eyed trade negotiators were finally able to close the deal at an Atlanta hotel on October 5, 2015. But the agreement quickly became mired in election politics. Labor unions and blue-collar voters declared it to be a successor to NAFTA, which was blamed for the loss of factories. And while the U.S. trade commission predicted the deal would be broadly beneficial to the overall economy, some areas including food and agriculture were predicted to score more gains than others.

Even as supporters of the deal insisted it would put U.S. manufacturers on a stronger footing versus overseas competitors by enforcing higher labor and environmental standards, Trump and Bernie Sanders used anti-TPP fervor as a key plank of their campaign platforms, declaring that it would cost America jobs. Even Hillary Clinton, normally a supporter of freer trade, turned on the deal, saying she wanted to negotiate better terms.

Trump escalated his rhetoric on trade after the primaries and Congress, which has final say on trade deals, shied away from bringing TPP up for a vote. After Trump’s victory, the fate of the deal in the GOP-controlled Congress was all but sealed as Republican lawmakers put it aside to concentrate on tax reform and a bid to roll back Obamacare.

On his first full day in office, Trump signed an executive order withdrawing from the TPP, calling the action a “great thing for the American worker.”

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country,” Trump said during a campaign stop in Ohio. “That’s what it is, too. It’s a harsh word: It’s a rape of our country.” . . .

But even as Iowa was voting for Trump by 51 percent-42 percent, its farmers were looking to Asia as their savior. . . .

But despite Trump’s intense personal interest in trade, the White House has been slow to build the dream team of negotiators the president promised on the campaign trail. Lighthizer, who once served as a deputy U.S. trade representative under President Ronald Reagan, was confirmed on May 11. The people tapped to serve in the agency’s three deputy positions await confirmation, as does the administration’s pick for chief agriculture negotiator.

Iowa’s Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says he thinks a trade deal with Japan would make up for much that was lost for agriculture by dropping TPP, but it will take “a lot more personnel, a lot more time to get it done, a lot more separate actions by Congress.”

As far as the administration’s strategy to get there, Grassley, who still owns his farm in Butler County, Iowa, said he hasn’t gotten much direction.

“I asked Lighthizer maybe a month ago in a meeting, and I didn’t get an answer,” Grassley said in a recent interview. “In a sense he answered, but not very definitively because their policy isn’t established.” . . .

Maybe the lesson of TPP demise for the protectionist firebreathers is be careful what you wish for.  The negative ramifications of not doing the TPP appear to be infinitely higher than doing the trade deal.

NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS

On August 16th, United States, Canada and Mexico sat down together for the first round of talks to formally reopen NAFTA.  On July 17th, the USTR released its attached “Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation”, USTR NAFTA RENGOTIATION OBJECTIVES.

But Trump keeps stirring the pot with his anti-NAFTA rhetoric. On August 22nd, during a speech in Phoenix President Trump announced that he might simply cancel NAFTA.

As Politico stated on August 23rd, “Trump’s  threat  of  NAFTA  withdrawal lose its edge”:

“Canada and Mexico appear to have reached a conclusion that when President Donald Trump threatens to withdraw from NAFTA, it is a negotiating ploy that is all bark and no bite. . . .

Instead, concerns were raised from within the United States government, where officials and lawmakers who support the deal see little value in the president repeatedly going to the well of harsh rhetoric in a way that makes the United States’ negotiating position more difficult.

“I don’t know a single person with a working brain cell that thinks that’s a good idea,” said one U.S. government source close to the talks, referring to renewing the threat of terminating the deal. “It’s a stupid message to send during the  negotiations.”

Part of the reason Mexico and Canada might be less intimidated by Trump’s bluster is that they have plenty of other trading partners to fall back on if the relationship with the U.S. sours. Both countries have separate deals in place with the European Union — Mexico is currently ramping up talks to update theirs — and both are part of the effort to reboot the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the remaining 11 members are pushing toward completion even without the U.S.

But after Trump cast aside the TPP almost immediately upon taking office, the U.S. has fewer such options to fall back on — so pro-NAFTA lawmakers and those from export- dependent states have repeatedly urged him to focus on modernizing and updating NAFTA, rather than terminating it.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady — whose home state of Texas counts Mexico as the No. 1 market for its exports, followed by Canada — cautioned Trump on Wednesday to be more aware of the effects his words have on the country’s trade relationships.

“The president’s rhetoric is red-hot, and it creates real impact,” Brady said during a town hall discussion at AT&T headquarters in Dallas. “I think the rhetoric, the words from the president matter, so I’d like to see that take a different approach in tone.”

Brady, whose powerful committee oversees trade on Capitol Hill, is one of a core group of Republicans whose support will be crucial if the administration succeeds in renegotiating a new deal with Canada and Mexico, since it will likely have to go through Congress for approval . . ..

The political question is whether Trump would discard NAFTA in the face of what certainly would be fierce resistance from Congress and industries like agriculture, which would take a significant hit in that event amid a sustained downturn in the farm economy.

Back in April, intense lobbying from the Hill and on the farm helped talk Trump down from inking a prepared executive order to withdraw from the deal. News of the planned order sparked such a public outcry and flurry of reaction in support of the deal that business and trade insiders sometimes refer to it as “Black Wednesday.” . . .”

Meanwhile, a chorus of industries are telling the Administration not to be so tough in the NAFTA negotiations because tweaks are fine, but the failure of the NAFTA deal would be disastrous to US industry and US agriculture.  On August 10th Automobile and Auto Parts makers urged the Administration to cool down the rhetoric on rules of origin for automobiles and auto parts because major changes to automobile rules of origin through NAFTA modernization could have the unintended consequence of making North America’s auto industry less competitive.  As Charles Uthus, vice president of international policy at the American Automotive Policy Council, the main lobbying arm of U.S. auto companies in Washington, stated:

“It’s the highest automotive rule of origin anywhere that you can find. It’s already extremely rigorous, very difficult to meet as it is. To actually strengthen it, there is a huge risk of unintended consequences.”

Ann Wilson, senior vice president of government affairs for MEMA, stated:

“Our members really struggle with finding a connection between changing the rules of origin and the reshoring of jobs. They do not see that connection.”

On August 17th Politico reported that Trump’s tough rhetoric has created intense hatred in Mexico, which will make it politically very difficult for Mexico to make concessions or agree to a deal that would clearly benefit the US.  Thus, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is not afraid to walk away from the table if needed, potentially overturning the entire U.S.-Mexico bilateral trade relationship in the process.

Again, Trump does not understand the dynamics of the deal and the fact that since Mexico has more trade agreements than the US, it has leverage and is not afraid to walk away from the table.

Thus, both Mexico and Canada are resisting US pressure for a new “national content” provision in NAFTA’s auto trade rules to encourage more parts to be made in the United States.  As Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo stated:

“It will not be best practice to introduce that kind of rigidities into the industrial process.  It’s not good for American companies. It’s not good for Mexican companies.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland also stated: “Canada is not in favor of specific national content in rules of origin”.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Dairy Producers stated that they will fight any U.S. effort to duplicate in NAFTA the dairy concessions secured through TPP negotiations. As Yves Leduc, director of policy and international trade for the Dairy Farmers of Canada, stated, “Not a possibility – as far as we are concerned, we would never agree to that.”

The small amount of dairy access that Canada granted the U.S. during the TPP talks – equal to 3.25 percent of Canada’s domestic milk production – was balanced out by concessions Canada secured in negotiations involving all of the 11 other countries. Those circumstances don’t apply to NAFTA, which involves only three countries. As Leduc stated, “To ask us to open up our market to allow more subsidized goods from the U.S. to enter the Canadian market, the answer is simple: It’s no.”

Meanwhile, US famers joined with Canadian and Mexican farmers to urge US negotiators to not let specific demands undermine the market access US farmers and ranchers enjoy under the existing agreement.  Although all three groups want to lower trade barriers to exports and imports, it was their unified position to defend existing market access that was most notable, given the fear on the farm that Trump could use agriculture as a bargaining chip to satisfy his obsession with reducing America’s trade deficit in manufactured goods.

THE PHRASE “FREE BUT FAIR TRADE” IS A FRAUD BECAUSE COMMERCE HAS SO DEFINED DUMPING AS TO FIND ALMOST EVERY IMPORT DUMPED

In an article along the same lines as the Bannon article and the Trump quote, on August 1, 2017, Commerce Secretary Wibur Ross penned an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Free Trade Is a Two Way Street”.  In the article, Commerce Secretary Ross argued that many countries erect barriers to US exports, but then went on to state:

“Both China and Europe also bankroll their exports through grants, low-cost loans, energy subsidies, special value-added tax refunds, and below-market real-estate sales and leases, among other means. Comparable levels of government support do not exist in the U.S. If these countries really are free traders, why do they have such formidable tariff and nontariff barriers?

Until we make better deals with our trading partners, we will never know precisely how much of our deficit in goods is due to such trickery. But there can be no question that these barriers are responsible for a significant portion of our current trade imbalance.

China is not a market economy. The Chinese government creates national champions and takes other actions that significantly distort markets. Responding to such actions with trade remedies is not protectionist. In fact, the World Trade Organization specifically permits its members to take action when other countries are subsidizing, dumping and engaging in other unfair trade practices.

Consistent with WTO rules, the U.S. has since Jan. 20 brought 54 trade-remedy actions— antidumping and countervailing duty investigations—compared with 40 brought during the same period last year. The U.S. currently has 403 outstanding orders against 42 countries.

But unfortunately, in its annual reports, the WTO consistently casts the increase of trade enforcement cases as evidence of protectionism by the countries lodging the complaints. Apparently, the possibility never occurs to the WTO that there are more trade cases because there are more trade abuses.

The WTO should protect free and fair trade among nations, not attack those trade remedies necessary to ensure a level playing field. Defending U.S. workers and businesses against this onslaught should not be mislabeled as protectionism. Insisting on fair trade is the best way to ensure the long-term strength of the international trading system.

The Trump administration believes in free and fair trade and will use every available tool to counter the protectionism of those who pledge allegiance to free trade while violating its core principles. The U.S. is working to restore a level playing field, and under President Trump’s leadership, we will do so.

This is a true free-trade agenda.”

Let me begin by saying no one has a problem with US government actions challenging foreign, including Chinese, barriers to US exports.  Every Administration be it Republican or Democrat has taken a tough stance to drop foreign barriers to US exports.  In fact, many Senators and Congressmen are pressuring the Trump Administration for more free trade agreements because they remove barriers to US exports.  The TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership, would have dropped tariffs down to 0 on more than 18,000 products exported by US companies, many agricultural products.

Although no one doubts that the Chinese market is significantly distorted, many foreign markets and in some cases US markets are significantly distorted.  The US steel market with the many outstanding trade orders blocking steel imports is a good example of a significantly distorted market in which the US price for steel is much higher than the World market price.

Also no one doubts that many countries subsidize their exports or dump in the US market.  For many years, the Commerce Department was able to find very high dumping rates on Japanese imports in antidumping cases by using price to price comparisons, which found that Japanese prices were significantly higher, sometimes four times higher, than US prices for the same Japanese product.  That is classic dumping using higher prices in the home market to fuel lower prices to the United States.

The Japanese companies were able to use dumping because the Japanese Government erected non-tariff trade barriers to block imports from the US and other countries creating very high domestic Japanese prices.  To protect its mikan /tangerine industry, for example, for many years Japan blocked all imports of citrus fruit.  But it is also interesting to note that there are no outstanding countervailing duty/anti-subsidy orders against Japanese products.

The Chinese governments, especially the local governments, also subsidize their exports and provide low interest loans to their companies, but so does the US government, through its subsidies in the Agriculture area, and the State Governments, which will waive state income taxes or help with low interest loans, to encourage production of companies, such as Foxconn, to move to their states.

But the US Countervailing Duty law applies to China now and the Commerce Department has not been shy in finding Chinese imports into the United States to be subsidized.  It should be noted, that the WTO has overturned 28 US Countervailing Duty cases against China, in part, because the WTO has ruled that Chinese state-owned companies are not necessarily the Chinese government itself, as the Commerce Department has ruled.

The US too has state-owned companies, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity to certain parts of the US.  Should foreign governments assume that all electricity from the TVA is subsidized because it is owned by the US government?

The major problem, however, is the Commerce Department’s application of the antidumping law.

In the 1980s, James Bovard authored a book called the “Fair Trade Fraud”, which outlined many of these same problems in the US antidumping law.  But nothing has changed.  Instead Commerce has just developed new methodologies to increase antidumping rates even higher.

Moreover, the same economic warfare arguments were made about Japan in the 1980s.  Although China does not have clean hands, that does not mean that every single import from China is unfairly traded.  In fact, I would argue that a significant percentage, if not the majority, of imports from China are fairly traded.  The Chinese government simply does not care about the Chinese Mushroom, Honey, Crawfish or Shrimp industries and does not set the prices for those products or any of the inputs.  Does the Chinese government really care about the price of cow manure in China, a major input for mushrooms?

Remember Commerce over decades has so distorted the US antidumping law that it finds dumping in 100% of the cases from China because it refuses to look at actual prices and costs in China.  If you have a hanging judge, does that mean every single import from China is dumped/unfairly traded?

Instead, Commerce should start easing the restrictions on the market economy status of China so as to determine which Chinese companies are truly dumping in the US market and nail them to the wall.  Commerce should make its antidumping cases against China mirror actual reality in China, not for the Chinese companies, but for US importers and downstream customers.

Right now, because of its refusal to use actual prices and costs in China, neither Donald Trump, nor Wilbur Ross nor the Commerce Department know which Chinese companies are truly dumping and which Chinese companies are not.  Until Commerce starts uses actual prices and costs in China, no one will know which Chinese company is truly dumping,

Finally, the Commerce Department decision to tilt the playing ground and find dumping in every antidumping and countervailing duty case against China and also against almost all every other foreign county has created a situation so that the public perception is that almost every import into the US is dumped.  These hanging judge decisions fuel the protectionist/isolationist political rhetoric in the United States badly damaging US industry and agriculture.  It has also led to a mentality by many US companies of international trade victimhood.  We poor US companies simply cannot compete in the international or US market because all foreign exports and US imports are subsidized or dumped.

Instead, US companies want to rely on US government issued protectionist walls to protect themselves from competition rather than finding a way to make the US companies competitive again.  See the article on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below.

SECTION 232 STEEL AND ALUMINUM CASES STALLED

The Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases continue to be stalled.  On August 21ST,  Politico reported:

“WHITHER THE NATIONAL SECURITY STEEL INVESTIGATION? White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House . . tipped the balance of Trump’s economic advisers firmly toward the more centrist “globalist” wing – and that could mean that two reports examining whether to limit imports of steel and aluminum for national security reasons could be indefinitely delayed. The Commerce Department has prepared a report on its findings that is circulating among agencies, but the administration has decided to dial down the investigations as it turns its attention to tax reform . . . .

Part of the reason is the departure of Bannon, who had been a major proponent of the move. But the decision to put off the investigations was also made in part because of opposition from business groups and Republican lawmakers who were worried it would hurt steel users and the broader economy, the news report said. .

Although President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross thought they had found a panacea, cure all, for US trade problems, using Section 232 National Security cases to put large tariffs and/or quotas on Steel, Aluminum and other raw material products, something happened on the way to the Trump trade heaven—reality.  The major problem is that the steel industry has only 141,000 jobs at stake while downstream steel users have millions of jobs at stake.

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

Commerce held a hearing on May 24th in this case.  The video of the hearing can be found at https://www.commerce.gov/file/public-hearing-section-232-investigation-steel-imports-national-security.

In the past Secretary Ross has stated that the Section 232 case is meant to fill the gaps created by the patchwork of antidumping and countervailing duties on foreign steel, which he said have provided only limited relief to the U.S. industry.

Under the terms of the executive order, an interagency group will present a report to the White House within 270 days that identifies goods that are essential for national security and analyzes the ability of the defense industrial base to produce those goods.

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

Although Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pledged to get the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum reports to President Trump’s desk by the end of June, that did not happen as the Administration began to realize the impact a broad tariff on steel or aluminum raw material inputs would have on downstream steel and aluminum users, which are dependent on high quality, competitively priced steel products to produce competitive downstream products made from steel and aluminum.

In response to the delay in the Section 232 Steel case, American steel industry executives appealed directly to President Donald Trump for immediate import restrictions because steel imports have surged back to 2015 levels.  As the letter states:

“The need for action is urgent. Since the 232 investigation was announced in April, imports have continued to surge.  Immediate action must meaningfully adjust imports to restore healthy levels of capacity utilization and profitability to the domestic industry over a sustained period.”

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), an industry trade group, reported on Wednesday that total steel imports through July this year were up 22 percent from the same period a year ago, with imports taking 28 percent of the U.S.  market.

In the letter, Steel company executives from Nucor Corp., U.S.  Steel, ArcelorMittal and Commercial Metals Co. said the sustained surge of steel imports into the United States had “hollowed out” much of the domestic steel industry and was threatening its ability to meet national security needs.

“Your leadership in finding a solution to the crisis facing the steel industry is badly needed now. Only you can authorize actions that can solve this crisis and we are asking for your immediate assistance.”

The collateral damage to the many US producers that produce downstream steel products created by any across the board tariffs on steel imports makes it very difficult for the Administration to use a broad brush to fix the steel problem.  That is the problem with purely protectionist decisions.  They distort the US market and simply transfer the problems of the steel industry to other downstream industries.

But does that mean the US government should simply let the US Steel industry and other manufacturing industries die?  The election of Donald Trump indicates  politically that simply is not a viable option.

Although Joseph Schumpeter in his book Capitalism, Socialism and Demcracy coined the term “creative destructionism”, which conservatives and libertarians love to quote, they do not acknowledge the real premise of Schumpeter’s book that capitalism by itself could not long survive.  Schumpeter himself observed the collateral damage created by pure capitalism.

So what can be done for the steel and other manufacturing industries?  Answer work with the companies on an individual basis to help them adjust to import competition and compete in the markets as they exist today.  Moreover, there is already a government program, which can serve as a model to provide such a service—the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies Program.

What is the TAA for Companies secret sauce?  Making US companies competitive again.  Only by making US manufacturing companies competitive again will the trade problems really be solved.  US industry needs to stop wallowing in international trade victimhood and cure its own ills first before always blaming the foreigners.  That is exactly what TAA for Companies does—helps US companies cure their own ills first by making them competitive again.

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

As stated above, there is another more productive way to solve the Steel crisis and fix the trade problem and help US companies, including Steel and other companies, adjust to import competition.  This program has a true track record of saving US companies injured by imports.

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

But as stated in the video below, for companies to succeed they must first give up the mentality of international trade victimhood.

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

Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.  To retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job is $5,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

But TAA for Companies has been cut to the bone.  On August 22, 2017, in the attached press release, US Commerce Department Announces $13.3 Million to Boost Competitiveness of US Ma, the U.S. Commerce Department announced $13.3 Million to Boost Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers.  The press release specifically stated:

“WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today announced $13.3 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to support 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers (TAACs) in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington that help manufacturers affected by imports adjust to increasing global competition and create jobs.

“The Trump administration is working every day to help America’s manufacturers, their workers, and their communities,” said Secretary Ross. “This funding is one element of a government-wide effort to restore American jobs and strengthen U.S. manufacturing.”

The 11 grants include:

$1.7 million to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, for the Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center

$1.2 million to the Mid-Atlantic Employers’ Association, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, for the Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance  Center

$978,000 to the New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, Inc., North Billerica, Massachusetts

$1.1 million to the Research Foundation, State University of New York Binghamton, for the New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico Trade Adjustment Assistance Center

$1.2 million to the University of Colorado at Boulder for the Rocky Mountain Trade Adjustment Assistance Center . . .

$1 million to the University of Missouri–Columbia for the Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance Center …

$1.2 million to the Trade Task Group, Seattle, Washington, for the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center…

EDA’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program funds 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers across the nation. The centers support a wide range of technical, planning, and business recovery projects that help companies and the communities that depend on them adapt to international competition and diversify their economies.  . . .

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.”  . . .

Are such paltry sums really going to help solve the manufacturing crisis in the Steel and other industries?  Of course not!!

But when the program was originally set up, the budget was much larger at $50 to $100 million.  If the program was funded to its full potential, yes steel companies and other companies could be saved.

To those libertarian conservatives that reject such a program as interference in the market, my response is that this program was personally approved by your icon, President Ronald Reagan.  He understood that there was a price for free trade and avoiding protectionism and that is helping those companies injured by import competition.  But teaching companies how to be competitive is a much bigger bang for the buck than simply retraining workers.  And yes companies can learn and be competitive again in the US and other markets.

In the attached article entitled “Steel Competitiveness Seriously?”, Steel Competitiveness, William J. Bujalos, the head of the Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center,  makes the proposal to expand the program to help large manufacturing companies, including steel producers.  Mr. Bujalos states:

“Current reports suggest that the nation’s steel industry is experiencing a rebound – a rebound driven by a growing collective confidence about America’s economic future.

That’s all good but irrelevant because confidence is not a strategy for growing the nation’s global competitiveness. What is relevant is the extent to which our companies are able to grow other much more important things, like metrics critical to their competitive success. Do that and the power of any confidence index won’t matter.

Let me explain. Since 1998 I have been leading the nation’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program in the Mid-Atlantic region. My business experience during the last 50 years has yielded insight into the kinds of things that have the highest probability for success at reversing an enterprise’s negative fortunes irrespective of the competitive battlespace that they’ve chosen to play in. Prior lives involved corporate management in both private and public sectors (large and small companies) in a wide variety of markets that included: management consulting, chemicals, plastics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, automotive systems, battery tech and steel – and I’ve learned that there are some things that are universal …

For example, I’m a believer that, for businesses of all stripes, there is only one true asset to be quantified and listed on the Balance Sheet – knowledge. Nothing else really matters at the end of the day. And the overarching value of TAAF is that it is this nation’s singularly effective business model that injects it directly into a company’s bloodstream over an extended period of time, i.e. half a decade. That sort of holistic, long-term approach yields the biggest chance for success because it has a high probability of permanently upgrading a company’s core DNA.

In my view steel companies don’t operate in markets that are fundamentally any different from markets in general. No markets are forgiving. No customer base is loyal. Some players don’t play fair. No amount of investment is worth it if indigenous leadership is of poor quality. So as a direct consequence, all companies that are serious about permanently enhancing their global competitiveness must achieve mastery over stuff like: competitive intelligence, customer intelligence, market dynamics intelligence, costs/managerial finance, talent/leadership development, product development, planning effectiveness, etc., etc., etc.

In other words: it’s the knowledge stuff that’s critical and little else. And in my humble opinion, focusing the attributes that TAAF brings to the table on that industry on a larger scale would yield stunning results.

The TAAF business model places its nationwide network of Trade Adjustment Centers (i.e. TAACs) in the unique position of being the right catalyst at the right place at the right time. Does it always work? Certainly not. What does? But it works better than just about anything else in America’s tool kit. It is unique. And here’s the kicker, we don’t ask for equity. On behalf of the American taxpayer we simply insist on pure, unadulterated, robust, and relentless commitment from the Chief Executive Officer down to the shop floor. Absent that? Well, it’s unfortunate but some companies probably should fail.

This approach really works, without costing a great deal of money or causing economic disruption while at the same time providing our political establishment the cover it needs to smooth passage of critical treaties – and, because a company must match our injection dollar-for-dollar throughout the process, the American taxpayer is assured of management’s total and focused commitment for one simple reason … they share in the risk!

Bottom line? The long-term holistic approach is effective. The business model, stipulating unique strategies addressing each company’s unique circumstances, is effective. The program’s neutral economic impact is effective. It’s ability to support passage of trade agreements while not impeding the benefits of free trade is effective. It’s ability to lessen the costs associated with the engagement of outside expertise to reengineer critical business processes is effective.

And I firmly believe that it’s application is not limited to America’s smallest makers – only its funding is. For several decades that’s been little more than an afterthought.

Consider …

  • All manufacturing companies were at one time small ones.
  • All manufacturing companies are impacted by globalization.
  • Small ones need outside expertise to teach them basic stuff.
  • Larger ones need outside expertise to teach them sophisticated stuff.
  • Small makers, because they’re learning the basics and have little resources to tap, take a longer time to turn the corner.
  • Larger makers, because the basics are already inculcated and they have the requisite resources at hand, can turn the corner at much higher speed.
  • And if you were the Chief Executive of a tier-one domestic manufacturer, would you doubt for a minute –
    • That your supply chain probably has several thousand companies in it?
    • That extensive improvement in their performance would have a significantly positive impact on your performance?
  • Improvement in the performance of the small cohort will increase the probability that fewer will fail because a greater proportion will grow into larger ones – driving concomitant growth in good-paying manufacturing jobs and the creation of wealth. Go ahead. Beat that with a stick!”

For those who would simply dismiss the idea as impossible and too simplistic, watch the video.  The program works.  See http://mataac.org/howitworks/.

TRUMP AND CHINA

SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA ON FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS MOVES FORWARD

In an attached August 18th Federal Register notice based on an August 14th Presidential Memorandum, 301 INITIATION NOTICE Presidential Memorandum for the United States Trade Representative whitehouseg, President Trump pulled the trigger on the Section 301 Intellection property case against China.  The Section 301 investigation could take a year and probably will lead to negotiations with the Chinese government on technology transfer.  If the negotiations fail, the US could take unilateral action, such as increasing tariffs, or pursue a case through the World Trade Organization.  Unilateral actions under Section 301, however, also risk a WTO case against the United States in Geneva.

The notice states that the USTR will specifically investigate the following specific types of conduct:

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

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

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

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

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) will hold a hearing on October 10th at the International Trade Commission and public comments are to be submitted by September 28th.

In an August 30, 2017 article by Dan Harris, who heads my law firm, on his China law blog at http://www.chinalawblog.com/2017/08/china-us-trade-wars-and-the-ip-elephant-in-the-room.html, entitled “China-US Trade Wars and the IP Elephant in the Room”, Dan states that in over one hundred negotiations with Chinese companies, he has not seem the Chinese government demand IP rights.  What he has seen is bad negotiating:

“I have been called by reporters at least a half dozen times in the last couple of weeks regarding the Trump Administration’s planned investigation of China’s IP practices. But what I tell these reporters fits so badly with THE narrative that my name is not showing up in print. Sorry, but I can’t help it.

Here’s the situation. The Trump Administration is claiming that China’s government forces American companies to relinquish its IP to China and my problem is that despite my firm having worked on literally hundreds of China transactions that involve IP, I have very little proof of this. So no real story there.

Here though is the story as seen from my eyes and from the eyes of the China attorneys at my firm, readily conceding that we have not seen even close to everything.

We have never been involved in a China transaction where it has been clear to us that the Chinese government has forced our client to relinquish its IP to China. We have though been involved in a million transactions where the Chinese party on the other side — sometimes a State Owned Entity, but way more often not — has vigorously and aggressively sought to get our client to part with its IP for a very low price. Is the Chinese government behind this sort of pressure? Don’t know? Probably sometimes, but probably most of the time not. If the transaction involves rubber duckies, we can assume not. If it involves next generation computer chips, well that is probably a very different story.

Anyway, as we write on here so often, there are many terrible technology transfer and other sorts of IP deals to be had with Chinese companies and we have too often — even against our China attorneys’ clear counsel to our clients not to do it — seen our clients make bad deals that will involve them turning over their IP with little to no chance of receiving full value for it. But these companies have not been forced, not in the sense that any government was forcing them to do anything. These companies were simply willing to take huge risks either because they could not grasp the risks or because they felt they had no other choice for financial reasons.

In Three Myths of China Technology Transfers, we wrote about how our clients all too often forge ahead with bad deals and why, and we nowhere mention government compulsion:

A Chinese company that intends to violate a licensing agreement and run off with the foreign company’s IP will usually have a very clear plan. What the China lawyers in my office call the Standard Plan works as follows. First, the Chinese company will negotiate in a way that guarantees a weak license that cannot be enforced against them by the foreign party. The tricks used to do this are quite standardized. Second, the Chinese company will ensure that it does not make any (or else it makes very few) payments until after it has already received the technology. If the Chinese company makes any payment at all, it will make a minimal number of payments, usually late and in violation of the agreement and then once it has received enough of the technology it seeks, it will cease making any payments entirely.

When our China attorneys encounter a Chinese company clearly working on the Standard Plan, we warn our clients. However, it is also typical for our clients to nonetheless want to forge on ahead. The client will usually explain how their situation is unique and that means the Chinese could not possibly be planning to breach.

We discuss again in China Technology Transfers: The Relationship and Deal Structure Myths how it is that American companies lose their IP to Chinese companies and we again leave out government force:

Due to a partnership relationship, the foreign side often wrongly believes it is somehow better protected against IP theft. The foreign side then lets down its guard, only to learn that its China partner has appropriated its core technology. This sense of partnership is most common with SMEs and technology startups, especially those companies whose owner is directly involved in the relationship with the Chinese entity.

In China and The Internet of Things and How to Destroy Your Own Company I rant about technology companies that literally destroy themselves by failing to do enough to protect their IP from China:

Well for what it is worth, I will no longer describe technology companies as a whole as our dumbest clients when it comes to China. No, that honor now clearly belongs to a subset of technology companies: Internet of Things companies. And mind you, we love, love, love Internet of Things companies. For proof of this, just go to our recent post, China and the Internet of Things: A Love Story. Internet of Things (a/k/a IoT) companies are sprouting all over the place and they are booming. Most importantly for us, they need a ton of legal work because just about all IoT products are being made in China, more particularly, in Shenzhen. And just about all IoT products need a ton of complicated IP assistance.

So then why am I saying they are so dumb about China? Because they are relinquishing their intellectual property to Chinese companies more often, more wantonly, and more destructively than companies in any other industry I (or any of my firm’s other Chinese lawyers) have ever seen. Ever. And by a stunningly wide margin.

I then list out the following as “my prime example, taken from at least a half dozen real life examples in just the last few months”:

IoT Company: We just completed our Kickstarter (sometimes Indiegogo) campaign and we totally killed it and so now we are ready to get serious about protecting our IP in China.

One of our China Lawyers: Great. Where are you right now with China?

IoT Company: We have been working with a great company in Shenzhen. Together we are working on wrapping up the product and it should be ready in a few months.

China Lawyer: Okay. Do you have any sort of agreement with this Chinese company regarding your IP or production costs or anything else?

IoT Company: We have an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that talks about how we will cooperate. They’ve really been great. They have told us that they would enter into a contract with us whenever we are ready.

China Lawyer: Can you please send us the MOU? Have you talked about what that contract will say?

IoT Company: Sure, we can send the MOU. It’s one page. No, we haven’t really talked much beyond just what we need to do to get the product completed.

China Lawyer: Okay, we will look at your MOU and then get back to you with our thoughts.

Then, a day or two later we a conversation like the following ensues:

China Lawyer: We looked at your “MOU” and we have bad news for you. We think there is a very good chance a Chinese court would view that MOU as a contract. (For why we say this, check out Beware Of Being Burned By The China MOU/LOI) And the Chinese language portion of the MOU — which is all that a Chinese court will be considering — is very different from the English language portion. The Chinese language portion says that any IP the two of you develop (the IoT company and the Chinese manufacturer) belongs to the Chinese company. So what we see is that as things now stand, there is a very good chance the Chinese company owns your IP. This being the case, there is no point in our writing a Product Development Agreement because your Chinese manufacturer is not going to sign that.

IoT Company: (And I swear we get this sort of response at least 90 percent of the time) I’m not worried. I think you have it wrong. I’m sure that they will sign such an agreement because we orally agreed on this before we even started the project.

China Lawyer: That’s fine, but I still think it makes sense for you to at least make sure that the Chinese company will sign a new contract making clear that the IP associated with your product belongs to you, because if they won’t sign something that says that, there is no point in our drafting such a contract and, most importantly, there is no point in your paying us to do so.

So far not a single such IoT company has been able to come back to us with an agreement from their Chinese manufacturer to sign.

Again, no government force, just an overzealous and insufficiently careful foreign company.

Now before anyone excoriates me for ignoring reality, let me say that I have read about instances where the Chinese government has “forced” foreign companies to turn over their IP to China; high speed rail is an often cited example of that. And I do not doubt that it happens in critical industries (nuclear power would be another example). And I am also not unaware of how China is increasingly forcing foreign companies to store their data in China, which absolutely puts technology at risk. But even in these instances the foreign company has some choice. Not good choices, I know. And arguably it is no choice at all when the decision is between doing business in China or not. The last thing I want to do is get all philosophical on anyone regarding what constitutes choice so I will leave it to our individual readers to determine for themselves where on the continuum of force and choice they want to put any and all of the above.

There is plenty to complain about how China protects IP and there is plenty to complain about how China protects foreign companies that do business in China or with China, but I am just not sure complaining about forced IP transfers goes at the top of that list for most American companies. When I talk with American and European and Australian companies about China their biggest legal complaint is invariably how expensive it is for them to comply with China laws and how they resent that their Chinese competitors generally are not held to the same legal standards.

A couple of years ago, I gave the following testimony before The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission of the United States Congress:

I was introduced as an expert, and I’d like to qualify that by saying do not think of myself as an expert. I am just a private practice lawyer who represents American and Australian companies and some European and Canadian companies as well in China.

I’m going to tell you a little bit about what we do so you can get a little bit better perspective of where I’m coming from on this. The bulk of my firms’ clients are small and medium-size businesses, mostly American businesses, but some European and Australian and Canadian businesses as well. Most of them have revenues between 100 million and a billion a year. Our clients are mostly tech companies, manufacturing companies and service businesses.

About 20 percent of our work is for companies in the movie and entertainment industry. We have some clients in highly-regulated industries, like health care, senior care, banking, insurance, finance, telecom and mining, but those companies make up less than ten percent of our client base.

Most of the China work we do for our clients is relatively routine. We help them register as companies in China. We register their trademarks and copyrights in China. We draft their contracts with Chinese companies. We help them with their employment, tax and customs matters. We oversee their litigation in China, and we represent them in arbitrations in China. We help them buy Chinese companies.

For our clients, the big anti-foreign issue is whether they will be allowed to conduct business at all in China as that is certainly not always a given. Certain industries in China are shut off or limited to foreign businesses acting alone. For our clients, publishing and movies are most prominent.

Essentially anything that might allow for nongovernmental communication to or between Chinese citizens is problematic, but it is not clear to me that these limitations are intended to be anti-foreign, as China does not really want any private entities, foreign or Chinese, engaging in these activities without strict governmental oversight.

So do these limits against foreign companies arise from anti-foreign bias or just the Chinese government’s belief that it can better control Chinese companies? To our clients, that distinction doesn’t matter.

On day-to-day legal matters, our clients are almost invariably treated pursuant to law, and so long as they abide by the law, they seldom have any problems. The problem for our clients isn’t so much how the Chinese government treats them; it’s how they are treated as compared to their Chinese competitors who are less likely to abide by the laws and more likely to get away with it.

I have no statistics on this. I doubt there are any statistics on this, but I see it and I hear it all the time.

I see it when one of our clients buys a Chinese business that has half of its employees off the grid and has facilities that are not even close to being in compliance with use laws, and I know foreign companies cannot get away with that.

And I hear it from Chinese employees of our clients who insist that there is no need for our clients to follow various laws. They insist there is no need to follow various laws and to do so is stupid. Is this disparity due to anti-foreign bias or is it due to corruption? Again, for our clients, the answer is irrelevant.

Is the Trump administration’s IP investigation a negotiating ploy done as much to get at disparate treatment as it is to get at forced technology transfers? I do not think it is, but some who know more about such things tell me it may be.

CNN was the only one of the media companies that both interviewed me on the above issues and ended up quoting me and I like how it handled the issue in its article, President Trump is set to crank up the pressure on China over trade:

Beijing has other ways of getting its hands on valuable commercial information. Officials often insist on taking a close look at technology that foreign companies want to sell in China.

“Chinese government authorities jeopardize the value of trade secrets by demanding unnecessary disclosure of confidential information for product approvals,” the American Chamber of Commerce in China said in a report published in April.

Some experts say that handing over technology has effectively become a cost of doing business in China — a market too big for most companies to ignore.

“Many Chinese companies go after technology hard and the tactics they use show up again and again, leading us to believe there is some force (the government?) teaching them how to do these things,” said Dan Harris, a Seattle-based attorney who advises international companies on doing business in China.

“The thing is that the foreign companies that give up their technology usually do so at least somewhat of their own volition,” he told CNNMoney. “Yes, maybe they need to do so to get into China, but they also have the choice not to go into China, right?”

Closing the stable door?

Other analysts say that the U.S. administration is coming to the problem too late.

“Intellectual property (IP) theft is yesterday’s issue,” wrote Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“In part because of past technology transfer and in part because of heavy, sustained government investment in science and research, China has developed its own innovative capabilities,” he wrote.

“Creating new IP in the United States is more important than keeping IP from China.”

These are really complicated issues and I realize the above is more of a stream of consciousness “thoughts dump” than a coherent position paper. So more than ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.”

Dan’s point is that it is often bad negotiating tactics by the US side that leads to companies giving away their technology, not Chinese government pressure.

On August 15th, Investors Business Daily speculated that “Trump’s Trade War With China Is War On North Korea By Other Means” stating:

“But they [the Chinese government] may have underestimated Trump: He has the will, and likely the political support, for an even-more damaging war with China over trade. With the U.S. China’s largest market — in 2016, U.S. imports from China totaled nearly half a trillion dollars — a trade war is a serious threat to China, which is already showing signs of economic slowing.

That’s what’s behind Trump’s sudden decision to investigate China’s rampant theft of U.S. intellectual property. And on trade grounds only, Trump is right to investigate this, since it’s enshrined in both U.S. law and international trade treaties that egregious trade violations warrant retaliatory actions if the violations aren’t fixed.

The U.S. has been jawboning China on this for years, to no effect. China for years has seen the U.S. as a paper tiger, too feckless to act on its own behalf. Now, Trump is showing it otherwise. . .

Once again, Trump the savvy business negotiator seems to know his foe’s weak points.

Perhaps hoping to stall Trump’s trade action, China announced that it would cease North Korean imports of coal, iron and lead, and seafood, starting Sept. 5, in keeping with U.N. sanctions imposed on Kim Jong Un’s regime.

In a joint statement Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor Gen. James Mattis made explicit the link between China, trade and North Korea: “China is North Korea’s neighbor, sole treaty ally and main commercial partner,” they wrote. “Chinese entities are, in one way or another, involved with roughly 90% of North Korean trade. This affords China an unparalleled opportunity to assert its influence with the regime.”

The clear message: If you support North Korea’s regime economically, we’ll hurt you economically in return. It’s a Trumpian twist on Von Clausewitz’s famous dictum about war and politics: “(A trade) war is the continuation of politics by other means.”

As we’ve said before, we take a back seat to no one in advocating on behalf of free trade. But when one side routinely and systematically steals hundreds of billions of dollars worth of intellectual property, that’s no longer free trade. It’s piracy. . . .

North Korea’s nuclear blackmail, aided by China’s patronage, is not acceptable. If it takes trade sanctions to get China’s diplomatic attention, so be it. It’s time that China’s charade over its support of North Korea comes to an end.”

On August 8th, in an article entitled “Second Thoughts on Trade with China” William Galston for the Wall Street Journal stated:

“It is China’s techno-nationalism that poses the greatest threat to our future. In 2006 the Chinese government adopted a long-term plan to promote what it called “indigenous innovation.” As James McGregor, a leading expert on the Chinese economy, writes, China’s leading-edge firms were directed to obtain technology from their multinational partners through “co-innovation and re-innovation based on the assimilation of imported technologies.”

In practice, this meant giving American firms an offer Don Corleone would have recognized—either to “share their technologies with Chinese competitors—or refuse and miss out on the world’s fastest-growing market.” China’s ultimate goal is to use forced technology transfer to replace the U.S. as the world’s leading economy. . . .

Existing legal tools may not suffice to end these discriminatory practices. Although the WTO prohibits mandatory technology transfers, the Chinese government’s position is that trading technology for market access is purely a business decision. Protectionist government purchases are a key part of China’s strategy. . . .

If turning over our technological crown jewels to a foreign power is against the national interest, then our government should have the power to prevent it. But wielding this power without blowing up the international trade regime will not be easy.”

On August 21st, in an editorial entitled “Yes, China Steals U.S. Intellectual Property, But That Doesn’t Mean Trade With China Is A Bad Thing” Investors Business Daily tempered its initial response on the Section 301 case stating:

“Everyone is angry at China right now, and perhaps with good reason. China’s regime often bends trade rules to its own needs, and breaks them or ignores them when it’s convenient. . . .

The U.S. shouldn’t tolerate cheating on trade, by China or anyone else. It’s a matter of jobs and income for Americans and the companies that employ them.

Even so, that doesn’t mean everything China has done has been bad for the U.S. Far from it.

A new study, ” How Did China’s WTO Entry Benefit U.S. Consumers?” from the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research, shows why. It notes that from the time China joined the World Trade Organization in 2000 to 2006, the U.S. inflation index for factory goods fell an estimated 7.6%.

This might not sound like a lot, but it is. “The resulting savings were large,” the study says. “U.S. manufacturing sector production was valued at $4.5 trillion in 2014, so if prices had been 7.6% higher, that production would have cost $340 billion more.”

That is, profits for U.S. firms were likely billions of dollars higher over that six-year period than otherwise. And prices to American consumers fell.

How did this happen? The simple answer is freer trade. China cut its average tariff on manufacturing inputs from 15% in 2000 to 9% in 2006, a 40% reduction. Meanwhile, China’s government lifted export limits on its domestic companies, got rid of capital requirements, eased restrictions on foreign investment, raised its limits on textile exports and lowered the number of goods that required import licenses.

The result: China’s factory exports to the U.S. surged 290% from 2000 to 2006.

According to the study, “69% of the growth was driven by new exporters offering a widening variety of products, while 16% was created by incumbent firms exporting new products.”

The lower tariffs and other reductions in trade restrictions led to a Chinese   productivity boom, with an average 10% per year gain in productivity for Chinese companies that exported to the U.S. As for the price of U.S. manufactured goods, about two-thirds of the 7.6% reduction in factory prices here was due to China’s tariff cuts.

But didn’t the food of Chinese factory-made goods to the U.S. decimate American manufacturing during this period? That’s a myth. As the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monthly manufacturing index shows, from 2000 to 2006 American factory output rose a healthy 11.5%. It wasn’t decimated by the surge in Chinese exports to the U.S. It only crashed when the financial crisis hit.

For its part, China’s communist    government in the  early  2000s  found   that taking  its hands off  the economy’s windpipe and engaging with the rest of the world through trade was  an  effective  strategy for making its economy grow. We  also  benefited  from that.

Now the Trump administration is warning an increasingly hostile China that its recent trade violations aren’t acceptable. China, in response, has blasted the U.S. for its “protectionism.”

We hope a negotiated solution can be found. At the same time, we might want to think seriously about it before we back a giant U.S.-China trade war that could make all of us, Americans and Chinese, much worse off.”

In early 2000, China’s brilliant economic guru Premier Zhu Rongyi believed that China should join the WTO, not for the benefit of the United States or Europe, but for the benefit of China.  Premier Zhu realized that China would benefit from free trade by breaking down its own protectionist walls, which isolated China from the rest of the World.

It is somewhat ironic that the United States is apparently moving in the opposite direction, building protectionist walls to protect its companies from foreign competition.  Many US politicians have fallen into the trap of international trade victimhood because they simply do not understand the benefits of free trade to the United States.

SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE

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

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

Prehearing briefs and posthearing briefs have been filed at the ITC and the ITC hearing was held on August 15th and was reportedly 11 hours long.

If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, it will go into a remedy phase and the hearing in that phase will be on October 3, 2017. Attached is the ITC public prehearing staff report, 2017.08.01 ITC Solar 201 Prehearing Report PUB.

The Staff Report shows that imports are up, value of imports are down, but US producers’ production and capacity have increased during the period of investigation 2012-2016.  Moreover, US producers’ profits and sales have increased in the period.  This is a very mixed staff report with no clear trends and could lead to a negative ITC injury determination on September 22nd.

Meanwhile, sixteen US senators have urged the ITC to consider how the increased tariffs on foreign solar cells could hurt the broader domestic solar industry. The letter specifically stated:

“We respectfully request that the commission carefully consider the potential negative impact that the high tariffs and minimum prices requested would have on the tens of thousands of solar workers in our states and on the hundreds of companies that employ them.”

The letter was signed by Senators: Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tillis (R-N.C.), Bennet (D- Colo.), Feinstein (D-Calif.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Perdue (R-Ga.), Gardner (R-Colo.), Heller (R-Nev.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Moran (R- Kan.), Scott (R-S.C.), Cardin (D-Md.), King (I-Maine), Collins (R-Maine), Markey (D-Mass.) and Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CIRCUMVENTION

On July 26, 2017, in the attached memorandum, prc-aluminum-extrusions-ar-072617, the Commerce Department published in the Federal Register a notice of affirmative final determination of circumvention of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders on aluminum extrusions from the People’s Republic of China. The Department determined that heat-treated extruded aluminum products that meet the chemical specifications for 5050 grade aluminum alloy, regardless of producer, exporter, or importer, constitute later-developed merchandise, are circumventing the orders.

As a result of the Department’s anti-circumvention determination, all heat-treated extruded aluminum products from the People’s Republic of China that meet the chemical specifications for 5050 grade aluminum alloy are considered to be in-scope merchandise and must be included in responses to the Department’s questionnaires.

FALSE CLAIMS ACT—FURNITURE

In a previous blog post,  I mentioned that the real hammer against transshipment of products to evade trade orders is not recent legislation from Congress, but the False Claims Act.  Under the False Claims Act, private parties can file suits in Federal District Court alleging fraud on the US government because of foreign exporters and US importers decision to use transshipment and other methods to evade US antidumping and countervailing duties.  Under the FCA, the relator can look back at 10 years of past imports and the antidumping duties in question can be over 100, 200 or even 300%.  Under the FCA the remedy is triple damages and when looking at imports over such a long period of time, the remedy can result in enormous payouts.

The private party files an FCA complaint as a relator on behalf of the US government.  The US government then decides whether or not to intervene in the case.  If the US government chooses to intervene, the relator is entitled to 15 to 25% of the recovery of the US government.  In one small FCA case here in Washington regarding medical bills, a clerk at a hospital received a payout of $2 to 3 million so anyone can be a relator.

More on point, In an intervention complaint, US GOVT INTERVENTION BLUE FURNITURE CASE, the US government intervened in a False Claims Act filed against evasion of millions of dollars in antidumping duties on imports of wooden bedroom furniture from China.

The lawsuit brought by University Loft Co., an Indiana-based wooden bedroom furniture company, accuses Florida-based Blue Furniture Solutions LLC, founder and president and its chief financial officer  of importing wooden bedroom furniture from China without paying the 216.01 percent anti-dumping rate by making false statements to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”).

In doing so, Blue Furniture escaped paying millions of dollars in duties and fees owed to the federal government from 2011 through 2015, the suit says.

The complaint states:

“To avoid the payment of anti-dumping duties and fees, defendants conspired with their Chinese manufacturers and exporters to fraudulently avoid customs duties and underpay fees owed to the United States by making false representations in entry documents about the nature and value of the imported merchandise.”

Specifically, the complaint states that Blue Furniture falsely identified its entries to Customs and Border Protection with codes and descriptions for merchandise that are not subject to antidumping duties.  But the complaint states that many of the wooden chests, dressers, nightstands, wardrobes and many of the beds imported were subject to antidumping duties.

In addition, the FCA complaint accuses the Florida-based company of instructing its China-based manufacturers and exporters how to mislabel and misclassify the merchandise on documents to be shown to CBP.

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

STAINLESS STEEL FLANGES FROM CHINA

On August 16, 2017, the Coalition of American Flange Producers and its individual members, Core Pipe Products, Inc., and Maass Flange Corporation filed new antidumping and countervailing duty cases against imports of Stainless Steel Flanges from China and India.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law. Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.30 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.32 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.33.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

WI-FI ENABLED ELECTRONIC DEVICES

On August 29, 2017, Sharp Corporation and Sharp Electronics Corporation filed a section 337 case against imports of Wi-Fi Enabled Electronic Devices.  The respondent companies named in the complaint are:

Hisense Co., Ltd., China; Hisense Electronic, Co., Ltd., China; Hisense International (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd., Hong Kong; Hisense USA Corporation, Suwanee, Georgia; Hisense Electronics Manufacturing Company of America Corporation, Suwanee, Georgia; Hisense USA Multimedia R&D Center, Inc., Suwanee, Georgia; and Hisense Inc., Huntington Beach, California.

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, including the impact on agriculture, the impact on downstream industries, the Section 232 and 301 cases, the 201 case against Solar Cells, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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