US China Trade War–Rise in Trump/Sanders Protectionism, Steel Cases, New AD and 337 Cases, False Claims Act

 New York City Skyline East River Empire State Building NightTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET
“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986
US CHINA TRADE WAR JUNE 7, 2016 

Dear Friends,

This is the second article of a several part series on how weak free trade arguments have led to the sharp rise of protectionism of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the probable demise of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”).  The first article outlined the problem and why this is such a sharp attack on the TPP and some of the visceral arguments against free trade.  The second article will explore in depth the protectionist arguments and the reason for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

Subsequent articles will describe the weak free trade arguments to counter the protectionism, the Probable Demise of the TPP, failure of Congressional Trade Policy and what can be done to provide the safety net that will allow Congress again to vote for free trade agreements so that the United States can return to its leadership in the Free Trade area.  Congress has to fix the trade situation now before the US and the World return to the Smoot Hawley protectionism of the 1930s.

In addition, set forth are several developments involving steel trade litigation, antidumping and countervailing duty reviews against Chinese companies, new antidumping and countervailing duty cases, new 337 cases against Chinese companies and finally a new False Claims Act settlement against a US importer for evasion of US antidumping duties.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

REASONS FOR THE RISE OF TRUMP SANDERS PROTECTIONISM IN THE UNITED STATES

As part two of my series of articles on how weak free trade arguments have created the rise in protectionism and the probably demise of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), in this segment I will describe some of the reasons for the rise of Trump and Sanders and the protectionism that goes with it.

The simple truth is that when weak academic, theoretical economic arguments for free trade meet the hard visceral arguments of bombed out US factories and the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs, the free trade arguments melt away.  Weak theoretical free trade arguments will not be enough to stop the wave in protectionism sweeping the United States.  More has to be done.

In a recent article in Time Magazine entitled “Welcome to the Election from Hell”, Frank Luntz, a well-known pollster for Fox and CBS, stated that because there is so much anger in the focus groups and the US electorate, he has lost control of the focus groups he uses to test ideas.  One Trump supporter stated that he is not mad, he is angry and then stated:

“Because anger is way more than mad.  Angry is what happens when you’ve been kicked around like a dog for too long, and you’re ready to fight back.”

This explains the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders- anger in the electorate and also explains why recent polls have Donald Trump running neck in neck with Hilary Clinton.  Both Trump and Sanders are political outsiders.  Hilary is the symbol of the establishment and from what we are seeing from the electorate, this is definitely an outsider’s year.

But why has trade become a center of the Presidential campaign?  What explains the sharp rise in protectionism?

LOSS OF JOBS EXPLAINS THE RISE IN PROTECTIONISM

Jim McDermott in a May 11th article in the New York Post entitled, “Trump, Sanders Voters Don’t Want Handouts — They Want Jobs” stated:

“A popular knock on voters who support Donald Trump or Bernie Sanders because they have been “left behind” by free trade, globalization and technological progress is that they want a handout from Uncle Sam.

But the truth is the opposite: These voters want to work. They want jobs. And that’s the key to understanding their support for Trump or Sanders. . . .

In this political season, I’ve been asking some of them and their friends, and their now-adult kids, which presidential candidates they find appealing. Only two find support:  Sanders, the Vermont socialist, and Trump, the New York billionaire. Both candidates appeal to a working class that is frustrated, fed up and downright angry.

Neither can be bought.

To understand the simmering discontent of working-class folks who are attracted to  one (or both) of these candidates, you need to imagine you’ve either lost a job or  cannot break into the work force. Viewed from these perspectives, an academic debate about whether free trade results in net job losses or gains is mostly meaningless. These people want a good job, or at least a job no worse than the job they lost. Their economic futures seem to be on life support.

We can’t ignore the centrality of work in people’s lives. Most people want to work. Most people want to contribute to society and take care of their families. When the government adopts free-trade policies that pick winners (the better educated who gain new jobs) and losers (manufacturing workers), the government also needs to cushion the blow for the losers.

Since this hasn’t happened for the last couple of decades, anger has been building and is now finding a political outlet. Many Americans start to wonder: Our government helps rich Wall Street bankers but not Main Street homeowners? Supports elite universities but not vocational schools? Lowers taxes on the wealthiest Americans?

Our government has an obligation to help people adjust to seismic policy changes, like free trade. In the last couple of decades, trade agreements have resulted in, for example, the technology industry gaining ground, and the steel industry losing ground.  Besides picking winners and losers, free-trade policies introduce major economic anxiety into many previously stable families. . . .

Sanders and Trump tap into this disillusionment. They’re paying attention to the working class. They appear to actually understand, on a visceral level, the challenges faced by these Americans — and at least they seem to understand these voters aren’t moochers.  In different ways, they’re offering seething working-class Americans pathways to reclaiming what they’ve lost.

Until we admit that we have come precariously close to ending true social mobility in America, we’ll continue to see angry working-class voters approaching their boiling point. . . .”

The labor unions, such as the AFL-CIO, echo Mr. McDermott’s point.  The Unions say they do not want Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) for workers.  They want no more trade agreements.  TAA for workers is not good enough.  The Labor Unions want jobs for their workers.

As explained more below, it is the collateral destruction created by Trade Agreements, which puts the TPP directly at risk.  It is also the failure of Congressional policy when it comes to Trade Adjustment Assistance, in part, that has created this problem.  Congress gives $711 million in trade adjustment assistance to retrain workers for jobs, a very important program, but the jobs, in fact, may not exist.

But to save the companies and the jobs that go with them, Congress gives only $12.5 million total nationwide to help companies adjust to import competition and allow them to continue to exist and prosper along with jobs that go with them.

Trade Agreements, such as the TPP, do not create huge tidal waves of imports, but flash floods, which concentrate in one area and can wipe out US companies in an entire industry when they have no guidance on how to compete, survive and navigate through those flash floods.

But more on that below and in the next segment.  In this segment we need to analyze the tidal wave of rising protectionism in the United States.  If one combines the Trump and Sanders voters, that is a clear majority of the US voting electorate, and the one point that Trump and Sanders have in common is no more trade agreements and protecting the US workers from import competition.  Too many jobs have been lost.

In an April 25, 2016 CNN article, entitled “Resetting Red and Blue in the Rust Belt,” Jeremy Moorhead describes interviews with voters in Buffalo New York, Erie, Pennsylvania and Youngstown Ohio.  No Presidential candidate has ever been able to win an election without taking the state of Ohio, so it is critical to every Presidential candidate.  Jeremy Moorhead states:

“The voters of the Rust Belt have shaken up the 2016 presidential campaign: Hoping to jolt a political system they see as ineffective and out of touch, they have repeatedly revolted by supporting unlikely, anti-establishment candidates.

In both Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, these voters see a potential for change they haven’t felt in generations. They say they are willing to shed party allegiances and reimagine their priorities this year, even voting for a self-described democratic socialist, or for a flame-throwing real estate developer who has never served in government.

In doing so, they have become the engine of one of the most extraordinary elections in modern U.S. history.

Frustration with the economic and political system is especially strong in the Rust Belt, a section of the country in the Northeast and Midwest once at the heart of the United States’ manufacturing boom. Decades after the decline of heavy industries like steel production and coal mining, the region continues to struggle with decaying infrastructure, population decline and high unemployment.

Voters there are worried about economic stagnation and crime plaguing their communities.  They are disappointed in Washington’s elected officials. They are calling out for swift, radical change. . . .

BUFFALO NEW YORK

Buffalo demonstrates Trump’s remarkable appeal across the country to non-traditional Republican voters. Here, there are working- and middle-class voters, former supporters of President Barack Obama and individuals who have supported Democrats in the past now drawn to Trump’s promise of dramatic change.

In the First Ward of South Buffalo on the corner of Ohio and Michigan Avenues, there is a favorite spot among locals called the Swannie House. Wiles has owned the place for 33 years and sits on a stool in the corner of the bar every day, his feet elevated on the window sill because of a bad back. It’s “the perfect corner because you hear everything,” he says.

These days, it seems everyone wants to talk about one thing: Donald Trump.

“It doesn’t matter if you’re black, you’re green, you’re white, you’re a Martian with tentacles. It doesn’t matter,” Wiles, 60, says. “They’re all talking about Trump.” . . . .

YOUNGSTOWN OHIO

Downtown Youngstown looks like a booming college town.  . . .

But away from the center of downtown, things get bleak — fast.

Along the former industrial corridor of Steel Valley, giant structures that used to be steel mills are now rusting and vacant. There are abandoned homes all across the city, a reminder of the thousands of residents who fled the area in the 1970s and ’80s when the mills shut down.

Although Ohio’s unemployment rate mirrors the national figure of 5%, it is much higher in Youngstown: 8.2%.  . .  .

ERIE PENNSYLVANIA

Spend a day talking to the residents of Erie — some 90 miles southwest of Buffalo — and you’re likely to learn two things. First, the General Electric plant in Lawrence Park is laying off 1,500 workers. Second, Presque Isle was recently voted in USA Today as the number one freshwater beach in the country.

Erie bled thousands of jobs over the years as manufacturing-based companies left the area, moving to the South or overseas in search of cheaper labor. . . . .”

On April 4, 2016, David Goldstein for the Portland Press Herald in an article entitled, “Blue Collar Voters: Trade is Killing Us,” stated:

“Establishment voices of economists, government and business officials argue that trade deals are critical in a global economy, and great for America. But critics such as organized labor call them “death warrants.”

And in blue collar communities in Wisconsin and across the industrial Midwest, that economic angst, coupled with some sense of betrayal, helps explain the roiling politics of 2016. . . . .

Wisconsin has lost more than 68,000 manufacturing jobs since the mid-1990s when the first of several controversial trade pacts with Mexico, China and others took hold. . …

That’s the case here in South Milwaukee, a community of more than 20,000 people whose economy is built around the sprawling Caterpillar plant, which builds huge steam shovels and other mining equipment. Its predecessor, Bucyrus International, built shovels that were used to dig the Panama Canal.

Now, Caterpillar has laid off about 600 of its 800-plus workers over the past two years because of a business slowdown.

“It’s had a pretty large impact,” said Brad Dorff, an assembler at Caterpillar and the local Steelworkers Union president. “Whether it’s small grocery stores, a hardware store down the street, local taverns; they used to get a lot of business from the people that live in this community who were making a good living, a good wage working here.”

Wisconsin’s heavy manufacturing sector, once one of the country’s strongest, has been taking a lot of punches in recent years. General Motors, General Electric, Chrysler, Joy Global Surface Mining and Manitowoc Cranes have all cut jobs or closed operations in recent years for a variety of reasons.

Hometown companies such as Kohler, the plumbing supply manufacturer; and Trek Bicycles have offshored jobs to India, China and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, Madison, the state capital, will lose 1,000 jobs over the next two years as the 100-year-old iconic Oscar Mayer meat processing plant shuts down. And just east on I-94 in Jefferson, Tyson Foods will cease operations at its pepperoni processing plant, cutting 400 jobs. . . .

The turmoil feeds into a debate over trade that’s playing out in the 2016 campaign. . . .

In Wisconsin, voters are about evenly split on whether free trade agreements have helped or hurt, according to a recent Marquette University Law School poll.

In Michigan and Ohio, a majority of primary voters in both parties believed trade kills jobs in the U.S. rather than creates them.

That’s the feeling inside union halls and communities that lie in the shadow of shuttered factories. Trade deals like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) spell only uncertainty and distress.

“We’ve watched a lot of our friends lose their jobs,” said Dorff, inside the local steelworkers union hall just blocks from the Caterpillar plant. “They have homes that now they can’t afford. They have families they have to support. They lost their insurance. Their kids have diabetes and they’re trying to get medication. It literally breaks your heart.”

The Business Roundtable, an association of corporate executives of major companies, say that international trade supports 1 in 5 Wisconsin jobs, and that cheaper manufacturing costs overseas lowers prices for consumers in this country.

“It is an economic fact of life that both businesses and their employees benefit when we sell more products overseas, and consumers enjoy a wider range of products at lower prices,” Jerry Jasinowski, former president of the National Association of Manufacturers, said in a recent statement.

But since NAFTA, which removed tariff barriers between the U.S. Canada and Mexico, went into effect in 1994, and Congress’ granting of permanent normal trade status to China in 2000, a key question has been how much have those decisions contributed to job losses at home.

Economists generally say that overall, trade creates more prosperity, and that displaced workers will find other work. But competition from China has meant the loss of 2.4 million jobs, according to a recent report by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a private nonprofit research group.

It pointed out that industries are often concentrated in certain parts of the country – the Midwest, for instance – and that local economies have not had the capacity to absorb those workers the Chinese competition has displaced.

Julie Granger, senior vice president of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, said that in a global economy, the notion that “free trade encourages the loss of local jobs … is not always the most responsible way to look at it. If we are not engaged in the global economy, we will lose more jobs.

There’s no going back. It’s the same story in Milwaukee as it in other cities: many of lowest skilled jobs simply were disappearing.”

So is organized labor, long the backbone of the working class, a force in Wisconsin politics and a persistent critic of the trade deals. From 2014-2015, union membership as a percentage of the Wisconsin workforce fell to 8.3 percent from nearly 12 percent, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

But organized labor has been under siege in Wisconsin for a while.  Take the General Motors plant in Janesville, Wis. GM wrung significant concessions out of the United Autoworkers to help keep the plant open. But the automaker closed it eventually anyway in 2009, putting 850 people out of work.”

The article quotes Roger Hinkle, Wisconsin AFL-CIO employment training specialist:

“Free traders always point to free trade being good for everybody.  There’s a mountain of victims who don’t have to look at some theoretical report to feel, Yes.  I was directly affected by this.“

The ironic point in this article, however, is the closure of Caterpillar.  Caterpillar is dependent on cheap steel as a raw material input, and they have been a major opponent of all the steel trade cases brought by the Union and US Steel because high prices for steel, their raw material input, makes them less competitive with companies, such as Komatsu, which have access to the lower cost steel.

As explained in more detail below, the recent decisions of the Commerce Department to impose large antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of steel from China and other countries has had an extremely negative impact on downstream US industries that use steel as a raw material input.

In fact, of the 130 outstanding antidumping and countervailing duty orders against China, over 80 of them are directed at raw material inputs—chemicals, metals and steel, which go directly into downstream US production and have a direct impact on their cost.  Raw Material trade cases rob Peter to pay Paul.

Although Congressional representatives and Senators do not care if trade protectionism causes consumer products to go up by a few dollars at Wal Mart, what happens if these higher duties on imports means that companies in their Districts and States have to close and the jobs are lost because the companies cannot compete in the downstream markets.

STEEL TRADE CASES

COLD ROLLED STEEL

On May 17, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, cold rolled, Commerce made a final dumping and countervailing duty determinations in the Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products case from China and Japan cases.  Because the Chinese companies refused to cooperate in the investigation, they received an antidumping rate of 265.79% and a countervailing duty rate of 256.44%.  Japanese Steel was hit with an antidumping rate of 71.35 percent.

Commerce was able to hand down such high margins because the Chinese and Japanese respondents refused to cooperate with the Department allowing it to very high impose duties on the basis of adverse facts available on an expedited basis.  Chinese companies refused to cooperate because since the Commerce Department considers China a nonmarket economy country and refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping, it is impossible to win the case.

On May 20, 2016, the Wall Street Journal issued an editorial entitled, “Obama Front-Runs Trump on China” stating:

“The Obama Administration may not sound like Donald Trump when talking about trade with China, but it isn’t above using protectionism for political gain.  On Tuesday the U.S. Commerce Department increased a tariff on “dumped” Chinese cold-rolled steel to 522%, a move that will hurt American manufacturers who need the steel to remain competitive.

The tariff may score some populist points with voters in an election year.  It also may be a ploy to get lawmakers to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement before President Obama leaves office.  But past experience suggests that such gambits inflame protectionist sentiment rather than tamp it down.

President George W. Bush imposed tariffs of up to 30% on a broad range of Chinese steel products in 2002.  The Consuming Industries Trade Action Coalition says the tariffs cost the US economy 200,000 jobs and $4 billion in lost wages. . . . .

[Low Chinese steel prices are] good news for the U.S. Since steel is an important raw material for many industries, China’s trade partners benefit from its wasteful policies.  Lower prices make companies that use steel more competitive and bring down prices for consumers.

Daniel Pearson for the CATO Institute conservatively estimates that that American companies using steel produce $990 billion in value added, more than 16 times the output of the U.S. steel industry, and also employ 16 times more workers.  If tariffs on Chinese imports raise the U.S. price of steel, these companies’ costs will be higher than foreign competitors,’ hurting their ability to grow and provide more jobs for Americans.

The article goes on to complain that US Steel companies do not make the same range of products as Chinese companies and that the Cold Rolled determination “is a warm up for the fight over granting China market economy status in December.”

The Editorial concludes:

“The larger question is whether the steel tariffs herald a new and more bitter era of trade retaliation.  Previous skirmishes have been damaging but stopped short of full escalation.  But Mr. Trump and Hilary Clinton have run for President as protectionists, and Mr. Obama’s surrender to steel interests is a bad omen.”

CORROSION RESISTANT STEEL

On May 25, 2016, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-multiple-corrosion-resistant-steel-products-ad-cvd-final-052516, Commerce announced its affirmative final determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations of imports of corrosion-resistant steel products (CORE) from China, India, Italy, Korea; its affirmative final determination in the AD investigation of imports of CORE from Taiwan; and its negative final determination in the CVD investigation of imports of CORE from Taiwan.

Again, since the Chinese companies refused to cooperate because of the nonmarket economy status of China, Chinese companies received an antidumping rate of 209.97% and a countervailing duty rate of 241.07%.

Antidumping and Countervailing duty rates for market economy countries, however, were much lower with India dumping rates between 3 to 4% and countervailing duty rates between 8 to 29%.  Italy received rates of between 12 to 92%, Korea 8 to 47%, and Taiwan antidumping rate of 3.77% and 0% countervailing duty rate.  As market economy companies, Commerce must use actual prices and costs in those countries to calculated antidumping rates and to value subsidies.

On June 1, 2016, the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “Steel Tariffs Create a Double-Edged Sword” reported that there is already an impact on downstream US production:

New tariffs on imports are boosting steel prices in the U.S., offering a lifeline to beleaguered American steelmakers but raising costs for manufacturers of goods ranging from oil pipes to factory equipment to cars. . . .

The Article goes on to state that the U.S. benchmark for “hot rolled coil index has risen more than 60% per ton” and that:

is creating problems for some steel buyers . . .

Steelcase Inc. Chief Executive James Keane said a tariff on a special kind of Japanese steel could cost one of its subsidiaries [Polyvision] $4 to $5 million a year . . . where it employs 200 people.  If nothing changes, we would have to close our Oklahoma plant.

The Article also reports that US “Car companies have been lobbying against steel tariffs.”

The problem with the Wall Street Journal Editorial and Article is that they assume President Obama has discretion not to impose the tariffs.  These cases were not brought under Section 201, the Escape Clause, which provides for Presidential approval or disapproval of the duties, but under the US antidumping and countervailing law where there is no discretion.  In contrast to most countries around the World, including Europe, Canada and yes China, the US antidumping and countervailing duty law do not have a public interest test.  Since the Chinese and Japanese companies did not cooperate, pursuant to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law, the Administration had no choice but to impose very high antidumping and countervailing duties on those imports.

If the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) goes affirmative in its injury determination and by statute it cannot give any weight to arguments by downstream producers, antidumping and countervailing duty orders will be issued and those orders can stay in place for 5 to 30 years.

STEEL 337 STEEL CASE

On May 26, 2016, the ITC instituted the section 337 case against Chinese steel import.  In the attached notice, USITC Institutes 337 Steel Case, the ITC stated:

The investigation is based on a complaint filed by U.S. Steel Corporation of Pittsburgh, PA, on April 26, 2016.  The complaint alleges violations of section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 in the importation into the United States and sale of certain carbon and alloy steel products through one or more of the following unfair acts:  (1) a conspiracy to fix prices and control output and export volumes, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1; (2) the misappropriation and use of U.S. Steel’s trade secrets; and (3) the false designation of origin or manufacturer, in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a).  The complainants request that the USITC issue a general exclusion order, a limited exclusion order, and cease and desist orders.

The last two counts of the notice are traditional issues subject to section 337 cases.  It is count 1 that raises the interesting issues.

The last time the ITC found a Section 337 violation based on an antitrust cause of action was in 1978 in Certain Welded Steel Pipe &Tube, No. 337-TA-29.  Although the ITC found a violation, the President vetoed the determination, in part, because of pressure from the Justice Department, antitrust division.

The antitrust cause of action, however, has not been eliminated from section 337.  Section 337 does not specifically define what is an antitrust violation, but presumably it should overlap the Sherman Act.  The US Steel compliant specifically references the Sherman Act.

Recently former U.S. International Trade Commission Chairman Daniel Pearson stated that this is the widest 337 complaint he has ever seen, but went on to state that a sudden closure of the U.S. market to foreign steel would have dire consequences for the domestic economy.  Pearson specifically stated:

“I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a 337 petition that is this broad. To me, it sounds a lot like overreach. There’s no way that I could see someone closing off all imports of steel into the U.S. and not have enormous effects on consumer welfare and other factors that are specified in the statute. I’m flummoxed by this.”

337 is broadly tailored to address “unfair methods of competition or unfair acts.” Still, Pearson speculated that the ITC may well reject the petition and informally advise U.S. Steel to more squarely focus its arguments on the trade secret prong.

The ITC, however, did not reject the petition and instituted the case.

Pearson’s concern about the case is the broad nature of the company’s desired remedy, the general exclusion order. He stated:

“U.S. Steel is not happy with imports, and they may have decided to just take this shot and see what happens.  I have no idea whether or not they think they will be successful; I would rather guess not.”

But to date US Steel has been successful.

My fear, however, is that Chinese steel companies will think that this is like an antidumping and countervailing duty case and they can choose not to cooperate.  Failure to cooperate in a 337 case could lead to a total exclusion order against every steel product produced by every single Chinese steel company that does not participate in the case and that exclusion order from the US market could be in place for up to 30 years.

The antitrust claim in the 337 case by its conspiracy claim has already expanded and brought every single Chinese steel company into the case and a refusal to cooperate in the investigation could well lead to their exclusion from the US market for years to come.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AGAINST CHINA

On May 25, 2016, in the attached relevant pages of the attached petition, REVISED AMONIUM SULFATE PETITION, PCI Nitrogen, LLC filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case against ammonium sulfate from China.

JUNE ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On June 2, 2016, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, JUNE REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of June. The specific antidumping cases against China are:  Artist Canvas, Chlorinated Isocyanurates, Furfuryl Alcohol, High Pressure Steel Cylinders, Polyester Staple Fiber, Prestressed Concrete Steel Rail Tie Wire, Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand, Silicon Metal, and Tapered Roller Bearings.

The specific countervailing duty case is: High Pressure Steel Cylinders.

For those US import companies that imported :  Artist Canvas, Chlorinated Isocyanurates, Furfuryl Alcohol, High Pressure Steel Cylinders, Polyester Staple Fiber, Prestressed Concrete Steel Rail Tie Wire, Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand, Silicon Metal, or Tapered Roller Bearings during the antidumping period June 1, 2015-May 31, 2016 or the countervailing duty period of review, calendar year 2015, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

While in China recently, I found so many examples of Chinese solar companies or US importers, which did not file requests for a review investigation.  In one instance, although the Chinese companies obtained separate rates during the initial investigation, the Petitioner appealed to the Court and through a Court determination the Chinese companies lost their separate rates.  Several Chinese companies and US importers did not know the case was appealed, and the importers now owe millions in antidumping duties because they failed to file a request for a review investigation in December.

CUSTOMS

FALSE CLAIMS ACT

On April 27, 2016, in the attached news release, california-based-z-gallerie-llc-, the Justice Department announced that Z Gallerie LLC agreed to pay $15 million to resolve allegations that the company engaged in a scheme to evade antidumping duties on imports of wooden bedroom furniture from the People’s Republic of China (PRC), in violation of the False Claims Act.  The relator , the private company that reported the fraud, will obtain $2.4 million of the $15 million.  As the Justice Department stated in its release:

“This settlement reflects the Department of Justice’s commitment to ensure that those who import and sell foreign-made goods in the United States comply with the law, including laws meant to protect domestic companies and American workers from unfair competition abroad,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General Benjamin C. Mizer, head of the Justice Department’s Civil Division.  “The Department of Justice will zealously pursue those who seek an unfair advantage in U.S. markets by evading the duties owed on goods imported into this country.” . . .

The particular duties at issue in this case are antidumping duties, which protect domestic manufacturers against foreign companies “dumping” products on U.S. markets at prices below cost.  Imports of wooden bedroom furniture manufactured in the PRC have been subject to antidumping duties since 2004.

The settlement announced today resolved allegations that Z Gallerie evaded antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture imported from the PRC from 2007 to 2014, by misclassifying, or conspiring with others to misclassify, the imported furniture as pieces intended for non-bedroom use on documents presented to CBP.  For example, Z Gallerie allegedly sold certain Bassett Mirror Company products, including a six-drawer dresser and three-drawer chest, as part of a bedroom collection; however, these goods were misidentified on CBP documents, using descriptions such as “grand chests” and “hall chests,” in order to avoid paying antidumping duties on wooden bedroom furniture. . . .

“Under the new Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, CBP will likely see an increase in these types of settlements as the streamlined processes take effect concerning allegations of duty evasion,” said CBP Commissioner R. Gil Kerlikowske. “The Act reinforces CBP’s existing authorities and tools to collect and investigate public allegations of duty evasion improving the overall effectiveness and enforcement of CBP law enforcement actions concerning illicit trade activity, specifically in the area of antidumping and countervailing duty evasion schemes.”

“Companies that intentionally mislabel shipments or misrepresent the value of goods being imported into the United States to avoid paying the appropriate duties do so in an attempt to create an unfair advantage over businesses that play by the rules,” said Special Agent in Charge Nick S. Annan of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (ICE HSI) in Atlanta.  “This type of activity hurts legitimate U.S. businesses and, by extension, our overall national economy.  Uncovering these types of schemes will continue to be a major investigative priority for ICE HSI.”

The allegations resolved by the settlement were originally brought by whistleblower Kelly Wells, an e-commerce retailer of furniture, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.  The act permits private parties to sue on behalf of the United States those who falsely claim federal funds or, as in this case, those who avoid paying funds owed to the government or cause or conspire in such conduct.  The act also allows the whistleblower to receive a share of any funds recovered.  Wells will receive $2.4 million as her share of the settlement.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

NEW SECTION 337 CASES FILED AGAINST CHINA

On May 5, 2016, Aspen Aerogels Inc. filed a Section 337 case against Composite Aerogel Insulation Materials and Methods for Manufacturing from China.  The proposed respondents are: Nano Tech Co., Ltd.,  China and Guangdong Alison Hi-Tech Co., Ltd., China.

On May 19, 2016, Intex Recreation Corp. and Intex Marketing Ltd. filed a new section 337 case against imports of Inflatable Products and Processes for Making the Same from China.  The respondent companies in China and Hong Kong are Bestway (USA) Inc., Phoenix, Arizona; Bestway Global Holdings Inc., China; Bestway (Hong Kong) International Ltd., Hong Kong; Bestway Inflatables & Materials Corporation, China; and Bestway (Nantong) Recreation Corp., China.

Complaints are available upon request

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–DAMAGE CAUSED BY AD ORDERS, TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF TAAF, TPP DEVELOPMENTS, NEW TRADE/CUSTOMS LAW

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR DECEMBER 10, 2015

Dear Friends,

Attached is the first half of the December blog post, which covers the collateral damage caused by US Antidumping Orders on downstream US production by the numerous antidumping orders against raw material inputs from China, which directly damage and in some cases destroy downstream US production.  The Article describes why the Import Alliance is so important to counter this trend.

The second article is on the Triumph and Tragedy of Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, the only truly successful trade remedy the US government has in its arsenal to help US companies injured by imports.

This update goes into detail on the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and when it might come up for a vote in Congress, the impact of Presidential politics, especially against Donald Trump, on the TPP, the ITC TPP investigation and the appointment of Congressman Dave Reichert of Washington State as the Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means Committee.

Finally, on December 9th, Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means announced Agreement on the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015.  Copies of the Bipartisan bill and Conference Report are attached below.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR US MANUFACTURING AND PRODUCTION—THE DAMAGE ANTIDUMPING CASES CAUSE TO DOWNSTREAM AND UPSTREAM PRODUCERS

US Law firms representing domestic producers in antidumping (“AD”) cases like to grab the mantle of helping US producers stay in business and saving US jobs.  They do not want Congress or the general public to look at the collateral damage created by US AD orders against China on downstream US production.  In truth, US AD cases against China have destroyed more jobs than they have saved.

All AD orders can do is delay the decline of the US industry, they cannot save the companies.  But in delaying the decline, these same AD orders destroy downstream value added production, where the US is often among the most efficient producers in the World.

These points were made by importers in the Import Alliance at meetings with Congressional Trade Staff and a Congressman on Capitol Hill on November 18th in Washington DC.  The Import Alliance has four objectives.  The first two objectives are:

(1)       Eliminate retroactive liability for US importers and join the rest of the World in making antidumping and countervailing duty orders prospective.

(2)      Work for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement for the benefit of US importers and downstream companies.

As of November 17, 2015, as the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) states in the attached list, NOVEMBER 172015 AD CVD ORDERS, there are 128 outstanding antidumping and countervailing duty orders against China.  More than 70 of those Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders are against raw material inputs, chemicals, metals and steel, that go into downstream US production.

The outstanding chemical AD and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders against China cover imported products such as polyvinyl alcohol used to produce adhesives and polyvinyl buturyl for auto safety glass.  Another product is sulfanilic acid used to provide Optical Brighteners in the US Dye Industry, which, in turn, resulted in the antidumping order against Stilbenic optical brightening agents.  Other chemicals covered by AD and CVD orders are potassium permanganate in place since 1984 used to purify water, potassium permanganate salts, chloropicrin, barium chloride, glycine used to produce the cooling effect in candies, furfural alcohol, persulfates, barium carbonate, Tetrahydrofurfuryl alcohol, Carbazole violet pigment 23, chlorinated isocyanurates used in swimming pool chemicals, certain activated carbon used to purify various chemicals and to produce products used in nuclear plants, certain polyester staple fiber, sodium hexametaphosphate, sodium nitrite, citric acid, xanthan gum, monosodium glutamate, calcium hypochlorite and melamine.

Often these AD and CVD orders cover products that are not even produced in the United States.  Because of this situation, many US producers dependent on the raw materials simply close US production and move overseas.

The following Chinese metal products are covered by AD and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders: magnesium ingots, magnesium, and pure magnesium, magnesium carbon bricks used in downstream magnesium dye casting industry and to produce light weight auto parts.  All light weight auto part production has moved to Canada and Mexico because of the antidumping orders on Chinese magnesium.  Other Chinese metal products covered by antidumping and countervailing duty orders are silicon metal critical for use in US foundries, silicomanganese, foundry coke, ferrovanadium, and  graphite electrodes used in the steel industry and downstream metal production, aluminum extrusions, the order has been expanded to cover many downstream products produced from aluminum extrusions, including curtain walls/sides of buildings, lighting equipment, geodesic domes, refrigerator handles, and subcomponent auto parts, electrolytic magnesium dioxide used to produce batteries, which, in part, led to the closure of Panasonic’s battery plant in the US, and refined brown aluminum oxide.

The Magnesium antidumping order, in particular, has led to enormous job loss in the downstream industries.  The Magnesium AD order protects one company in Utah and between 200 to 400 jobs by wiping out thousands, if not tens of thousands of jobs in the downstream industries.

In 2004-2005 43 US companies sold magnesium die castings in the US market.   As of two to three years ago, according to National Association of Dye Casters (“NADCA”), less than 12 US companies now produce magnesium die castings in the United States.  NADCA estimates that 31 US companies have ceased pouring magnesium in the United States because of the antidumping order against magnesium from China.  US companies, such as Lunt in Illinois, simply went out of business because of the Magnesium from China Antidumping order.  In 2010, when NADCA did the survey, it estimated a job loss of 1,675 direct jobs.  Now the jobs loss has swelled to over 2,000 and closer to 10,000 supporting jobs.

Where did the magnesium jobs and companies go?  Many companies and projects simply moved to Mexico or Canada.  Magnesium is used to produce light weight auto parts.  Many OEM magnesium parts manufacturers moved all their production to Mexico. Five Tier 1 steering wheel manufacturers, for example, have magnesium die casting and wheel assembly plants in Mexico, including TRW, AutoLiv, Takata, Key Safety Systems and Neaton.  GM intends to import Buick cars from China into the US.  Could the Magnesium AD order be one of the reasons?

After Chinese chemical and metal products, almost every steel product from China is covered by an AD order and often also a CVD order, including carbon steel plate, hot rolled carbon steel flat products, circular welded carbon quality steel pipe, light walled rectangular pipe and tube, circular welded carbon quality steel line pipe, circular welded austenitic stainless pressure pipe, steel threaded rod, oil country tubular goods, prestressed concrete steel wire strand, seamless carbon and alloy steel standard line and pressure pipe, high pressure steel cylinders, prestreessed concrete steel rail tire wire, non-oriented electrical steel, and carbon and certain alloy steel wire.  Almost every steel product from China is covered by an AD and CVD orders, except for galvanized steel products and cold rolled steel, which are presently the subject of ongoing AD and CVD investigations.

As one person working in the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program remarked to me, the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders against Steel explain why so many companies in the TAA program use steel as an input.

If these Chinese products were truly dumped, then AD orders should be issued.  Since Commerce considers China a nonmarket economy country (“NME”) and refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping, however, it does not know whether the products are dumped.  For more discussion of the 2016 China NME problem, see my last blog post and the dumping canard argument and many other prior posts and my next newsletter.

Congressmen may not care that retail products go up several dollars because of AD orders, but what happens when the AD orders in place injure downstream US producers, sometimes literally closing the companies down and destroying downstream jobs.  Does that make a difference to Congress?

Also the AD and CVD orders on Solar Cells and Solar Products has led to problems for REC Silicon in Moses Lake, Washington, which produces the upstream product, polysilicon, used to produce solar cells.  China has retaliated against the United States producers by bringing its own AD and CVD cases against the United States for US exports of polysilicon, wiping out the US polysilicon from the China market.  As stated in the last blog post, REC Silicon has deferred a $1 billion investment and possibly could close its plant in Moses Lake.

Because of the impact of AD and CVD orders on downstream US production, the Import Alliance has two other objectives:

(3)       End user production companies should have standing in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

(4)       The United States should join the rest of the World in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, including Canada, the EC and yes China, and have a public interest test.

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

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

Ten US Importers have agreed to form the Import Alliance for America.   On November 18th, Importers in the Alliance met with a Congressman and Congressional Trade Staff in Washington DC in the first of several meetings to educate the US Congress and Administration on the damaging effects of the US China trade war, especially US AD and CVD laws, on US importers and US downstream industries.  For more information, see the Import Alliance website at http://www.importallianceforamerica.com.

THE TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES

But what is the answer to this import problem?  What is the answer for US companies caught in the cross hairs of import competition from China and many other countries and facing potential bankruptcy?

Not more protection. Antidumping and countervailing duty cases cannot be brought against the World.  As stated in many past blog posts, all antidumping and countervailing duty cases do is slow the decline in the US industry, not cure the disease.  A great example of this is the US Steel Industry and the demise of such well-known steel companies as Bethlehem Steel, Lone Star Steel and Jones and Laughlin.  Many of these companies have simply ceased to exist despite 40 years of protection from steel imports under the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws.

Instead, I firmly believe the answer lies in the small program—the TAA for Companies (also called TAA for Firms) (“TAAF”). The Triumph of TAAF is that it has been reauthorized for 5 years.  The tragedy is that its budget has again been cut to $12.5 million nation-wide.

TAA for Companies (TAAF) is probably the most effective trade remedy the United States has in its arsenal, but it is not given the resources it needs to do the job.   I believe in this program and sit on the board of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, the regional office in the Northwest that administers the program.  Since 1984, NWTAAC has been able to save 80% of the injured companies that got into the program.  For more information see www.nwtaac.org.  The big news is that TAAF nationwide recently had a great validation and, at the same time, a bewildering set back.

In case you don’t know about TAAF, this is a program that offers a one-time, highly targeted benefit to domestic companies hurt by trade.  The benefit is not paid to the companies, but to consultants, who help the company adjust to import competition.   The program is amazingly effective.   Between 2010 and 2014, 896 companies with more than 90,000 employees were certified as trade impacted by TAAF after experiencing a 16% drop in sales and 17% drop in jobs.   During this 5 year period, participating companies in TAAF increased average sales by 40% and employment by 20%, achieving impressive double-digit productivity gains.   Essentially, all of the 15,090 jobs lost to imports before company participation in the TAAF program were regained by creating more than 15,140 new jobs by the end of the five year period, and 75,000 jobs were retained by helping these companies stay in business.   These impressive results occurred with TAAF program annual costs of approximately $15.3 million per year.

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

Arguments are made that TAAF costs the US government money.   When a company adjusts to trade and survives or even prospers, that company and all of its workers pay taxes.  The taxes on average wages for about 8,300 jobs would pay for this whole program. Companies in the TAAF program, however, regained 15,000 jobs and retained 75,000 jobs.  The real costs to government, however, are when companies don’t survive and good jobs are lost.

In fact, the TAAF program actually saves the US government millions of dollars each year by helping companies stay in business while saving their higher paying manufacturing jobs.  For every job saved, resources aren’t wasted on expensive training and other costly benefits, but can instead be used more productively to help trade impacted firms adapt to changes in the global economy as large FTA’s like the upcoming TPP are implemented.

An example using the TAAF program statistics from above describes what happens when TAAF program resources are cut.   If workers applied for benefits through the TAA for Workers (TAAW) Program for the 15,000 jobs lost due to imports, it would cost more than $795 million to retrain them using the $53,000 average cost figure.   The TAAF program not only saves the company but saves the high paying jobs that go with that company, and keeps tax revenues rolling in to contribute to local and national tax bases rather than acting as a cost burden.

The more stunning fact – if the TAAF program saves just 300 jobs per year on a national basis for which TAA for Worker resources of $53,000 aren’t required for retraining efforts, the program easily pays for itself up to its $16 million authorization level.  That is an extremely low bar to set considering that TAAF retained more than 75,000 jobs and created an additional 15,140 jobs during the last five year period.  This shows the short sightedness in cutting the program.

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

Amazingly, TAAF came into being over 40 years ago, before “globalization” was even a word.  On the eve of TPP – it’s never been so relevant.  The idea then, and now, is that changes in trade circumstances (often sudden and unpredictable) put U.S. companies and jobs in jeopardy.  In other word, government action through trade agreements, such as the TPP, change the US market and the market conditions under which companies operate in the United States.  Since government action through the trade agreement has changed the US market, I believe the US government has an obligation to help US companies adapt to the changing US market.

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

Earlier this summer, as explained in detail in past blog posts, Trade, including Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and TAA were the hot topics on Capitol Hill.  During this process Congress authorized the TAA program for five years – a length of time and expression of confidence that nobody expected.  The series of events in the Congress were highly dramatic – it was a breakthrough in bipartisanship.

Many Senators and House Representatives played a significant role in pushing the trade legislation, including TAA, through Congress.  The Senators included Republicans Mitch McConnell and Orrin Hatch and Democrats Ron Wyden, Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell.   In the House, Republican Representatives, including Paul Ryan, Dave Reichert, and Jaime Herrera Beutler, voted for the TAA program along with over 90 other Republicans.  Democratic Representatives, including Suzanne Bonamici and many from the New Dem Coalition, such as Representatives Ron Kind, Derek Kilmer, Rick Larson, and Suzan DelBene, helped push the TAA and TPA legislation through Congress.

But, in the very next breath Congress cut the program’s appropriations to $12.5 Million. That’s $12.5 Million for the entire country – an investment of only $250,000 per state to help trade impacted manufacturing companies.

A couple of points to make here:

At $12.5M, TAAF will be able to serve less than 1 in 1,000 companies injured by import competition. Does anyone truly believe that import competition is seriously affecting less than one in 1,000 companies, especially with the coming passage of the TPP?

The inequity of funding for TAA programs must be addressed – FY 2015 appropriations for TAA for Workers was $711 million; TAA for Companies was $15 million.  Both programs play an important role in trade policy, but does it make sense to use the vast majority of funds for retraining efforts after jobs have been lost?  Or, should more of the funding be dedicated to saving both companies and jobs through the TAAF program?

As indicated below, the Labor Advisory Committee to the TPP, which is composed of Unions, estimates that TPP could cost the United States up to 330,000 jobs in the Manufacturing Sector.  Although this may be too pessimistic, the TPP will create losers, companies that do not do as well, and without a robust TAAF program how can those companies and jobs be saved?

TAAF has been evaluated repeatedly by GAO, CRS, and various outside evaluators, which conclude that instead of dying, TAAF companies have a 6% annual growth rate. That’s after an at least 5% decline year on year (the threshold for entering the program), which is an impressive turn-around for distressed companies.  TAAF has proven its worth, and the basic model is the most effective trade remedy that works in the 21st century.  Moreover, the TAAF solution does not change the US market or create the collateral damage associated with US antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  Instead, it teaches the company how to change, adapt and swim in the new market conditions caused by imports.

More importantly, TAAF changes the mindset of the injured companies away from Globalization victimhood to being competitive in the international market.  One Economic Development Council here in Washington State has the motto Compete Every Day, with Every One in Every Country Forever.  That is the type of mindset that turns companies around.  That is the type of mindset TAA for Companies promotes.

TPP TEXT AND TRADE ADVISORY REPORTS

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

The text of the Agreement is over 6,000 pages. We have downloaded the text of the various Chapters, which are listed below.  We have broken the Agreement down into three parts and have added consecutive page numbers to the Agreement in the right hand lower corner to make the Agreement easier to navigate.

For specific tariff changes on specific products, look at attached Chapter 2 National Treatment and Market Access for Goods, Chapters 1 – 2 – Bates 1 – 4115  This is the largest document because it includes all imported items by tariff number.  But this is the section that will impact most companies.  The other parts of the text covering Chapters 3 to 30 is posted on the blog, Chapters 3 – 30 – Bates 4116 – 5135. along with the Appendices, Annex 1 – 4 – Bates A-1-1074

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

On December 2nd and 3rd, 2015 various trade advisory groups operating under the umbrella of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) Group issued reports on the impact of the TPP on various industries and legal areas.  Attached are some of the reports,  Agricultural-Policy-Advisory-Committee ATAC-Animals-and-Animal-Products ATAC-Fruits-and-Vegetables ATAC-Grains-Feed-Oilseed-and-Planting-Seeds ATAC-Processed-Foods ATAC-Sweeteners-and-Sweetener-Products Intergovernmental-Policy-Advisory-Committee-on-Trade ITAC-2-Automobile-Equipment-and-Capital-Goods ITAC-3-Chemicals-Pharmaceuticals-Health-Science-Products-and-Services ITAC-5-Distribution-Services ITAC-6-Energy-and-Energy-Services ITAC-8-Information-and-Communication-Technologies-Services-and-Electronic-Commerce ITAC-9-Building-Materials-Construction-and-Non-Ferrous-Metals ITAC-10-Services-and-Finance-Industries ITAC-11-Small-and-Minority-Business ITAC-12-Steel ITAC-14-Customs-Matters-and-Trade-Facilitation ITAC-15-Intellectual-Property ITAC-16-Standards-and-Technical-Barriers-to-Trade Labor-Advisory-Committee-for-Trade-Negotiations-and-Trade-Policy Trade-and-Environment-Policy-Advisory-Committee.pdf.   All the reports can be found at https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/trans-pacific-partnership/advisory-group-reports-TPP.

Almost all of the reports are favorable, except for the Steel Report, which takes no position, and the Labor Advisory Report, which is opposed because it is the position of the Unions.  Some of the relevant reports for various industries are as follows:

For Agriculture, see Agriculture Policy Advisory Committee, Animals and Animal Product, Fruits and Vegetables, Grains and Processed Foods.  See also Standards and Technical Barriers to Trade.  For Pharmaceuticals and Health Care, see Chemicals and Health Science products, plus Services.  For Banking see financial and services.  For Energy and Mining, see Energy and Energy Services plus Non-Ferrous Metals. For Intellectual Property, see IP Report and Information and Communications Technologies.  For Telecom, see Communication Technologies and also Standards. For Environmental, see Trade and Environment Policy Advisory Committee. For Customs and Trade, see Customs and Trade Facilitation.

TO TPP OR NOT TO TPP THAT IS THE QUESTION

On  October 5th, in Atlanta Trade ministers from the U.S. and 11 other nations, including Japan, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, Peru, Chile, Brunei, Singapore, Vietnam and Malaysia, reached an agreement on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), which will link up 40 percent of the world’s economy.  Some of the key issues in the TPP are:

Cut Tariffs on 18,000 products

New special 2 year safeguard for certain domestic industries that face a surge in imports

State-owned companies with TPP Countries must conduct commercial activities in accordance with market- based considerations

Vietnam must allow formation of independent labor unions

Malaysia will face trade retaliation if it does not improve its forced labor and human trafficking record

Bar countries from requiring the localized storage of data or surrender valuable source codes as condition of market entry

Require parties to commit to sustainable forest management and conserve at risk plants and animals.

On November 5, 2015, the United States Trade Representative Office (“USTR”) released the text and appendices of the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement, which are over 6,000 pages long and are attached above. The clock has started to run, which means President Obama could technically sign the Agreement 60 days later or on February 3rd,.  Potentially Congress could take up the bill 30 to 90 days later.

But the big question is when will Congress take up the Agreement and can it be ratified.  Two weeks ago on Capitol Hill in discussions with legislative trade staff, they said the TPP has to start from the House of Representatives.  So that means that Paul Ryan, the new Speaker of the House, will probably have the final say, along with Senators McConnell and Hatch.

The new Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means, Congressman Dave Reichert, stated recently that a House floor vote on TPP could be possible in late spring or early summer.  Given the timeline established by TPA requirements, the President will be able to sign TPP Feb. 3 and then send the implementing legislation to Congress after March 4.  Chairman Reichert stated that Congress would have 90 days to consider the agreement, but he would rather not see the House vote pushed into the end of July, adding that it would be possible for the pact to enter into force by January 2017.  Congressman Reichert expressed confidence that sufficient votes would be there to meet the simple majority threshold required under TPA, but he acknowledged that votes on trade agreements are always close.  See article below on the appointment of Congressman Dave Reichert of Washington State to the Chairmanship of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means.

As Chairman Reichert further stated, “We’re probably looking somewhere around the May time frame—we’re thinking late spring, early summer.”  But he also indicated that there were many issues to be discussed before scheduling the vote.

In talking to a number of Congressional Trade Staff two weeks ago, they still have not read the entire 5,000 plus pages of the Agreement and digested it enough to know what is in it.

Reichert also stressed that the timing of any vote would be a leadership decision, stating:

We’re taking a measured approach, we’re studying the document and we’re working with other members of Congress and talking with our constituents to see where the troubles might exist for them on a particular product and also working closely with the ambassador [U.S. Trade Representative] Mike Froman.

Reichert also indicated that the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) report on the impact of the TPP agreement on the U.S. economy, which is due by May 18, would also have an impact on the vote.

Reichert further stated:

We are in study mode and talking with members who have issues and concerns about some of the language in TPP.  We’re just going to be moving forward, talking with constituents, talking with members, finding ways we can address these concerns.

Two notable areas of concern are the intellectual property rights protections for pharmaceutical drugs and the carve-out of tobacco from investor state dispute settlement.  The TPP has only 5 years of protection for biologic drugs when the Pharmaceutical companies wanted 12 years.

Reichert further stated, “If we lose some votes [because of the tobacco issue], we’ll have to work on our Democrat friends to pull through and support the effort to recover those losses”

As one Republican Trade Staffer, who is very close to the decision-making, told me, “We honestly do not know when the TPP will come up.”  The staffer went on to state that before the Agreement was finalized, USTR would state that “Substance drives the timeline.”  As the Staffer further stated, now “Addressing members’ [Congressional representatives’] concerns sets the timeline.”

One Democratic trade staffer in the Senate stated that he believes that the Presidential election will have an impact on the timing of a TPP vote in the Congress. If the TPP is looked upon as a positive by the US electorate, the Republicans may want to keep the issue on the table to use against Hilary Clinton in the election.  But if the TPP is looked upon as a negative, Congressional Republicans may want the vote to take place in Spring or Summer 2016 to take it off the table in the Presidential election.

Senate Republican trade staffers made the same point to me, “Maybe there will be no vote on TPP in 2016.”

Any issue this big coming up in a Presidential election year is by its very nature political so President politics will have an impact.  As indicated below, however, Presidential politics cuts several ways.  On the Democratic side, Bernie Sanders is adamantly against the TPP and Hilary Clinton has said she is opposed because she wants the union votes. On the Republican side, all the candidates, except Donald Trump, are in favor of the TPP, but Trump adamantly opposes it.

PRESIDENT OBAMA PUSHES FOR TPP

On November 10, 2015, President Obama made his case for the TPP on Bloombergview.com:

A Trade Deal for Working Families

By Barack Obama

As President, my top priority is to grow our economy and strengthen the middle class. When I took office, America was in the middle of the worst recession since the Great Depression — but thanks to the hard work and resilience of the American people, our businesses have created 13.5 million jobs over the past 68 months, the longest streak of private-sector job creation in history. The unemployment rate has been cut nearly in half — lower than it’s been in more than seven years. We have come back further and faster from recession than nearly every other advanced nation on Earth.

That’s real progress. But as any middle-class family will tell you, we have more to do. That’s why I believe the Trans-Pacific Partnership is so important. It’s a trade deal that helps working families get ahead.

At a time when 95 percent of our potential customers live outside our borders, this agreement will open up new markets to made-in-America goods and services. Today, exports support 11.7 million American jobs. Companies that sell their goods around the world tend to grow faster, hire more employees and pay higher salaries than companies that don’t. On average, export-supported jobs pay up to 18 percent more than other jobs.

These are good jobs — and this agreement will lead to even more of them. It would eliminate more than 18,000 taxes that various countries put on made-in-America products. For instance, last year, we exported $89 billion in automotive products alone to TPP countries, many of which have soaring tariffs — more than 70 percent in some cases — on made-in-America products. Our farmers and ranchers, whose exports account for roughly 20 percent of all farm income, face similarly high tariffs. Thanks to the TPP, those taxes will drop drastically, most of them to zero. That means more U.S. exports supporting more higher-paying American jobs.

At a time when our workers too often face an unfair playing field, this agreement also includes the highest labor standards of any trade deal in history. Provisions protecting worker safety and prohibiting child labor make sure that businesses abroad play by the same kinds of rules we have here at home. Provisions protecting the environment and combating wildlife trafficking make sure that economic growth doesn’t come at the expense of the only planet we call home.

And these commitments are enforceable –meaning we can hold other countries accountable through trade sanctions if they don’t follow through. So, these tough new rules level the playing field, and when American workers have a fair chance to compete, I believe they’ll win every time.

I’ve said many times that the Trans-Pacific Partnership is the right thing for our economy, for working Americans and for our middle class. But I’m not asking you to take my word for it. Instead, I’ve posted the agreement online. If you build cars in places such as Detroit, you can see for yourself how your products will have a better shot of hitting the road in places such as Japan. If you’re a farmer or rancher, you’ll see how your products will face fewer barriers abroad. If you’re a small-business owner, you’ll see how this agreement will mean less paperwork and less red tape.

Along with the text of the agreement, we’ve posted detailed materials to help explain it. It’s an unprecedented degree of transparency — and it’s the right thing to do. Not every American will support this deal, and neither will every member of Congress. But I believe that in the end, the American people will see that it is a win for our workers, our businesses and our middle class. And I expect that, after the American people and Congress have an opportunity for months of careful review and consultation, Congress will approve it, and I’ll have the chance to sign it into law.

Together, we’ve overcome enormous obstacles over the past seven years. We’ve taken an economy that was in free fall and returned it to steady growth and job creation. And we’ve put ourselves in a position to restore America’s promise not only now, but for decades to come. That’s what I believe this agreement will help us do.

UNIONS PUSH AGAINST IT

On December 4th, Union leaders from the United Steelworkers, United Mine Workers of America and the Service Employees International Union, who sit on the president’s Labor Advisory Committee for Trade Negotiations and Trade Policy, came out against the TPP in the report released by USTR, arguing that although the TPP creates some limited opportunities for increased exports, it will also increase trade deficits in several industries — such as auto, aerospace, textiles and call centers — and will kill US jobs.  As the Union members on the Labor Advisory Committee state in the attached report, Labor-Advisory-Committee-for-Trade-Negotiations-and-Trade-Policy:

The LAC strongly opposes the TPP, negotiated between the United States (U.S.), Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. We believe that the Agreement fails to advance the economic interests of the U.S. and does not fulfill all of the negotiating objectives identified by Congress in the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. The threat to future economic gains here in the U.S. and the standard of living of our people will be put in jeopardy by the Agreement. These threats will grow over time based on the potential for open-ended expansion of the TPP to countries ranging from Indonesia to China.

The LAC report goes on to state:

On behalf of the millions of working people we represent, we believe that the TPP is unbalanced in its provisions, skewing benefits to economic elites while leaving workers to bear the brunt of the TPP’s downside. The TPP is likely to harm the U.S. economy, cost jobs, and lower wages. . . .

The LAC entered the TPP process hopeful and optimistic that the TPP would finally be the agreement that broke the elite stranglehold on trade policy and put working families at the front and center. Unfortunately, we believe the TPP fails to strike the proper balance: of course it is difficult to convince Vietnam to implement freedom of association before the TPP enters into force once Vietnam has already agreed to provisions that will force it to pay higher prices for medicines and subject even its most basic laws to challenge by foreign investors in private tribunals. Given the misguided values enshrined in the TPP, it is no surprise that the economic rules it will impose will actually make it harder to create a virtuous cycle of rising wages and demand in all 12 TPP countries.

While the TPP may create some limited opportunities for increased exports, there is an even larger risk that it will increase our trade deficit, which has been a substantial drag on job growth for more than twenty years. Especially at risk are jobs and wages in the auto, aerospace, aluminum and steel, apparel and textile, call center, and electronic and electrical machinery industries. The failure to address currency misalignment, weak rules of origin and inadequate state-owned enterprise provisions, extraordinary rights provided to foreign investors and pharmaceutical companies, the undermining of Buy American, and the inclusion of a labor framework that has proved itself ineffective are key among the TPP’s mistakes that contribute to our conclusion that the certain risks outweigh the TPP’s speculative and limited benefits. . . .

The LAC urges the President in the strongest possible terms to reverse course now. Do not send this TPP to Congress. Instead, the TPP should go back to the negotiating table. We want to work with you and our counterparts in the other TPP countries to create a truly progressive TPP that uplifts working people, creates wage-led growth, diminishes income inequality, promotes infrastructure investment, protects intellectual property without undermining access to affordable medicines, and respects our democracy. . . .

The LAC went on to state with regards to Manufacturing:

Manufacturing—General

The Trans Pacific Partnership will seriously undermine the future of domestic manufacturing production and employment. As was noted in an initial evaluation of the TPP published in the Wall Street Journal, the combined U.S. trade deficit in manufacturing, including automobiles and auto parts, would increase by $55.8 billion under the TPP. Utilizing the conservative estimate of the Department of Commerce that each $1 billion in trade correlates to 6,000 jobs, the TPP will cost, at a minimum, 330,000 jobs in the manufacturing sector. That estimate does not include the indirect cost in terms of jobs or on wages and living conditions of all the primary and secondary workers who will be negatively affected by the agreement. Indeed, we believe that the job loss potential of the TPP is much higher.

The report is one of 27 from various advisory committees on trade policy, environment and industries released by the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative on December 4th, many of which backed the TPP.

Meanwhile on December 4, 2015, the United Auto Workers (“UAW”) called on Congress to reject the TPP, stating that the agreement threatens domestic manufacturing jobs.  The international executive board of the UAW, one of North America’s largest unions with more than 750 locals, unanimously voted against the TPP, saying the deal repeats many of the same mistakes as other free trade deals before it, such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, that led to stagnant wages, rising income inequality and plant closings in the U.S.

On November 10, 2015, the Blue Green Alliance, a coalition of labor and environmental groups, continued to attack the TPP as a threat to U.S. jobs and climate change policies.  Members of the Alliance include the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club and the United Steelworkers, each of which has taken a leading role in steering the fight to defeat the TPP.  Although the Union attacks are well-known, the Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune aimed his attack at the TPP’s investor state dispute settlement mechanism, which he claimed will give corporations even more power to challenge governments’ air, water and climate protection rules.

PRESIDENTIAL POLITICS—WALL STREET JOURNAL GOES AFTER TRUMP ON TPP AND TRADE

Meanwhile, trade issues and the TPP have been the subject of Presidential politics, with George Melloan writing an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal on November 3, 2015 comparing Donald Trump to Herbert Hoover and the Smoot-Hawley Tariff:

Donald Trump, Meet Herbert Hoover

Today’s ardent foe of free trade has a soul mate in the president who signed Smoot-Hawley into law.  Donald Trump sees unpredictability as a virtue, so one can only guess what his policies would be if he makes it to the Oval Office. Yet because he continues to lead the Republican pack with the election only a year away, maybe it’s time to make some guesses. Those guesses may or may not be well-informed by Mr. Trump’s incessant monologues. But if he is taken at his word, he is one of the most ardent opponents of free trade ever to seek high office in the U.S.

Mr. Trump rants that as President he would punish Ford Motor Co. for building a plant in Mexico by slapping a 35% tariff on Ford cars and parts imported from that plant. China and Japan are trade enemies and he would fix their wagons, too, by putting trade negotiations with them in the hands of wheeler-dealer Carl Icahn. His pugnacious hostility toward trading partners could be brushed off, but opinion polls suggest that what he says has a lot of resonance with the electorate. . . .

The tariff act they [Smoot Hawley] wrote was initially meant to benefit farmers. But after the shock of 1929, industry and labor demanded protection as well.

Both Hoover and the Republican Congress were compliant. In its final form Smoot-Hawley covered some 20,000 items. The average tariff on dutiable goods jumped to 50% from an already high 25%. U.S. trading partners responded in kind and world trade began to shut down. . . .

But on June 17, 1930, Hoover, pressured by his fellow Republicans, signed it anyway.

The rest is history, as they say. The combined effects of declining global trade and New Deal experiments with central planning meant that Americans would suffer a decade of hard times. No Republican would man the Oval Office for another 20 years.

Could such a thing happen today? Probably not, at least not in the same way. It is now widely understood and accepted that the well-being of the American people is predicated on the smooth flow of global trade and capital. Almost every product Americans buy, including homes, is a composite of parts made in many places in the U.S. and abroad.

Apparently the only prominent American who doesn’t understand that is Donald Trump. He seems to think, as did many people 85 years ago to their sorrow, that the mutually beneficial exchange of goods and services across borders is a zero-sum game, indeed a form of warfare.

Some of us have assumed that the hotel and casino tycoon’s populist demagoguery will ultimately blow itself out. But what if it doesn’t?

On November 8th, Mary Anastasia O’Grady authored another article for the Wall Street Journal, “Memo to Trump: Nafta Helps Americans”, stating:

Levying tariffs on Mexico to pay for a border wall would launch a trade war. . . .

Without the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), manufacturing would be in even worse shape. But don’t tell Donald Trump that. If elected President, he promises to “make America great again” by, among other things, blowing up the 1994 trade pact. . . .

In other words, Mr. Trump plans to launch a trade war with Mexico. This is as preposterous an idea as it is dangerous. Let’s start with the painfully obvious: A tariff is not paid by the exporter but by the importer, who passes it on to the consumer. . . .

It’s hard to see how any of this could be good for Americans. According to “NAFTA Triumphant,” a report last month by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, annual U.S. trade with Canada and Mexico is now $1.3 trillion, nearly four times greater than before the agreement. Agricultural exports to Canada and Mexico have gone up by 350%, and U.S. service exports have tripled. More than a third of U.S. merchandise exports are now bought by Nafta partners.

A trade war would hurt American manufacturing because it would fracture the highly integrated North American economy. All three Nafta partners are competitive globally because they are able to allocate capital to its highest use anywhere on the continent. . . .

A September 2010 National Bureau of Economic Research working paper found that 40% of the content of U.S. imports from Mexico is produced by U.S. workers. . .  .

Mr. Trump’s plan also fails from a security perspective. Mexican states that are engaged economically with their northern neighbors are growing faster than the rest of the country. They are also creating good jobs and raising living standards, necessary factors to stem the flow of Mexican migrants north. . . .

Mr. Trump’s trade agenda is absurd and would invite a depression. He’s either too uneducated in economics to know that or too cynical to care.

On November 12, 2015, the Wall Street Journal went after Trump again on trade, commenting on the Republican debate:

Mr. Trump called it a “terrible deal,” though it wasn’t obvious that he has any idea what’s in it. His one specific criticism was its failure to deal with Chinese currency manipulation. But it took Rand Paul to point out that China isn’t part of the deal and would be happy if the agreement collapsed so the U.S. would have less economic influence in Asia.

Mr. Trump said on these pages Tuesday that he would label China a currency manipulator on his first day as President, triggering tariffs on thousands of Chinese goods. The businessman thinks economic mercantilism is a political winner, but we doubt that starting a trade war that raises prices for Americans would turn out to be popular. Many of Mr. Trump’s supporters care more about his take-charge attitude than his policies, but GOP voters will have to decide if they want to nominate their most protectionist nominee since Hoover. . . .

On November 12, 2015 in an Editorial, the Wall Street Journal stated:

Donald Trump Is Upset

The candidate says we were unfair to him on trade. . . .

Mr. Trump: “Yes. Well, the currency manipulation they don’t discuss in the agreement, which is a disaster. If you look at the way China and India and almost everybody takes advantage of the United States—China in particular, because they’re so good. It’s the number-one abuser of this country. And if you look at the way they take advantage, it’s through currency manipulation. It’s not even discussed in the almost 6,000-page agreement. It’s not even discussed.”

So when he is asked about TPP, Mr. Trump’s first reference is to China, which isn’t in TPP, and he now says the world should have known that he knows China isn’t part of it because amid his word salad he said that the deal “was designed for China to come in, as they always do, through the back door.”  .. . .

Our editorial point was what everyone who understands East Asian security knows, which is that China would be delighted to see TPP fail. China is putting together its own Asian trade bloc, and those rules will be written to its advantage. TPP sets a standard for trade under freer Western rules. China could seek to join TPP in the future, but it would have to do so on TPP’s terms, not vice versa.

TPP would help China’s competitors by giving them greater access on better terms to the U.S. market. Production is likely to shift from China to Vietnam and other countries. In October the Financial Times quoted Sheng Laiyun, the spokesman for China’s National Bureau of Statistics, as saying that, “If the TPP agreement is finally implemented, zero tariffs will be imposed on close to 20,000 kinds of products. . . . That will create some pressure on our foreign trade.” Some back door.  ***

As for currency manipulation, we gave Mr. Trump a forum for his views in our pages on Tuesday. He doesn’t understand currencies any better than he does TPP. Currency values are largely determined by central banks and capital flows. If China made the yuan convertible and let it float, the initial result would probably be a falling yuan as capital left the country. A trade deal with a binding currency provision could also subject the U.S. Federal Reserve to sanctions as a “manipulator” every time it eased money in a recession.

All of this bears on Mr. Trump’s candidacy because he is running as a shrewd deal-maker who can get the economy moving again. Starting a global currency and trade war “on day one” would get America moving toward recession—or worse.

IMPACT ON NON MEMBER COUNTRIES

USTR Froman in late October stated the TPP has had a “magnetic effect” on outside parties realizing that the TPP stands to set the rules of the road in the coming years, stating:

TPP was designed to be an open platform that will grow over time and help raise standards across the region and around the world.  It’s becoming clear that even nonmembers are going to have to compete in a TPP world and raise their game, and that’s good for everybody.

Froman’s statement came one day after Indonesian President Joko Widodo formally expressed interest in joining the TPP because of his fear of being left adrift in the region.

Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Russel said that the TPP strategy has been to raise trade standards and China could eventually be included in:

The world would be a better place, by far, if China were willing to meet the very high standards of TPP.  The broader impact on China is going to drive a virtuous cycle of better regulatory practices, greater transparency and openness of the Internet. What TPP brings to the member countries are things that I believe all people, including Chinese people, want.

During a recent TPP conference here in Seattle, a State Department expert on the TPP negotiations stated that the objective of the TPP is not to block or contain China.  Instead, the TPP objective is to entangle China in the higher standards and rules set by the TPP.  In other words, to join the TPP, China will have to meet the very high standards and rules set by the Agreement, which could go even higher in future negotiations.

On November 18, 2015, at the first meeting between President Barack Obama and his 11 TPP counterparts since the negotiations were completed on Oct. 5, TPP leaders stated:

“While our focus is on approval and implementation of the results of negotiations with our current partners, we have also seen interest from a number of economies throughout the region.  This interest affirms that through TPP we are creating a new and compelling model for trade in one of the world’s fastest growing and most dynamic regions.”

ITC TPP INVESTIGATION

In the attached notice, ITC TPP INVESTIGATION FED REG, on November 17, 2015 at the request of the USTR, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) launched its formal investigation to assess the TPP’s overall economic impact, as mandated by the legislation to renew Trade Promotion Authority passed earlier this year.  As the Commission states in the notice, the purpose of the investigation is to assess the likely impact of the Agreement on the U.S. economy as a whole and on specific industry sectors and the interests of U.S. consumers.

The important dates during the investigation include a public hearing on January 13, 2016 and pre‐hearing briefs and statements due on December 29, 2015.  Post-hearing briefs and statements are due January 22, 2016.  The ITC will transmit its report to Congress on May 18, 2016.

CONGRESSMAN DAVE REICHERT OF WASHINGTON BECOMES CHAIRMAN OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON TRADE HOUSE WAYS AND MEANS—GOOD NEWS FOR WASHINGTON STATE AND FOR FREE TRADE IN GENERAL

On November 18, 2015, in the attached an announcement, REICHERT ANNOUNCEMENT CHAIRMAN, Congressman Dave Reichert, a Republican from Washington State, made the following statement after being named as the new Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade:

I am very honored to have the opportunity to lead the Trade Subcommittee and champion some of the issues that have the greatest impact on Washingtonians. Washington State is one of the most trade-dependent states in the country with 40 percent of our jobs and more than $90 billion in annual exports connected to trade. In the Eighth District alone, 77,100 jobs are supported by trade, and our growers, producers, and businesses export approximately $8.6 billion in goods and services each year.

With the release of the text of the Trans-Pacific Partnership and our ongoing negotiations with the EU, this is a critical time for trade. As a longtime advocate of expanding trade opportunities, I will continue fighting on behalf of our workers, farmers, and businesses across the country, because I firmly believe through high-standard trade agreements we see expanded opportunities for all.

Representative Reichert is the first Member of Congress from Washington State to serve as Chairman of the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Trade.

From personal knowledge, I can confirm that the selection of Representative Dave Reichert as Chairman of the Trade Subcommittee, House Ways and Mean, is important for Washington State and for Free Trade proponents and advocates everywhere.

This is a very powerful position in Washington DC in the Trade network.  Not only the TPP, but amendments to the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty law, Trade Adjustment Assistance and the US Customs law go through his Committee.  Chairman Reichert was recently named to the Conference Committee with the US Senate on the pending Customs and Trade bill, the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act, H.R. 644, presently in Congress.  The Conference Committee met December 7, 2015 on Capitol Hill and as indicated below, came to Agreement on the Bill on December 9, 2015 for passage in Congress by the end of the year.

The issue of Retroactive Liability for US importers and market economy treatment for China in 2016 are squarely in the jurisdiction of the Trade Subcommittee, House Ways and Means, which Congressman Reichert now chairs.

Rep. Reichert is co-chair of the Friends of TPP Caucus, member of the President’s Export Council, and founder of the Congressional Freight Caucus.  Congressman Reichert also signed the discharge petition, as described in my last newsletter, to move the Ex-Im Bank through the House of Representatives.

On November 25, 2015, in an interview on his new position and the TPP, Chairman Reichert stated that he is focused mainly on making sure that the TPP meets many of the negotiating objectives laid out in the Trade Promotion Authority:

Right now, we are all in the process of comparing TPA language to the TPP language and discussing it with our constituents and getting into more discussions as people learn more and more about what’s actually in TPP.

The Chairman also made clear that he is holding off on a full endorsement of the TPP until he and his colleagues have carried out their analysis:

I am a pro-trade guy, but I am not going to support this agreement until we have thoroughly vetted it.  This has to be a deal that protects and creates American jobs and gives us the opportunity to have this global influence.

Reichert said that persuading skeptical Republicans will be a key job to bring the TPP to the Floor, but opposition from heavyweights, such as Paul Ryan or Orrin Hatch, will make it more difficult to get TPP through both chambers of Congress.  But Chairman Reichert pointed out that the TPP chapters, which cause some Republicans to oppose the bill, could also yield some unlikely allies from the other side of the aisle:

We may lose those members that are really affected by the tobacco provisions but on the other hand on the Democrat side, we may be able to gain some support for votes that we might lose on the Republican side.  There’s a lot of work to do in trying to find a direction through this to ensure that we have the votes to pass it [TPP] when it finally comes to the floor.

CONGRESSIONAL ANNOUNCEMENT ON DEAL FOR NEW TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL

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

Some of the key provisions of the bills are stringent enforcement measures for evasion of antidumping and countervailing duties. As Senator Hatch stated:

“Strong enforcement is a key element in our trade arsenal and thanks to this legislation the Administration will have a number of new tools to hold America’s trading partners accountable. Even more, this measure promotes legitimate trade facilitation and works to preserve one of America’s most important economic assets: intellectual property, helping to prevent counterfeit and illicit goods from entering our nation. We’ve put together a good package, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to get this report across the finish line and signed into law this year.”

As Senator Wyden also stated:

“This enforcement package is about jobs. Too often, our laws and enforcement policies have proven too slow or too weak to stop the trade cheats before jobs are lost. The Leveling the Playing Field Act Congress passed earlier this year helped ensure that workers and businesses harmed by unfair trade have faster access to relief. This conference report, which includes the ENFORCE Act, will help ensure that this relief is effective and that trade cheats cannot evade the consequences of violating our trade laws. The bill we released today represents bipartisan trade enforcement priorities that were years in the making. It takes trade enforcement to a new level to protect workers and businesses in Oregon and around the country. Congress is now on the verge of passing the strongest package of trade enforcement policies in decades.”

Under the new finalized bill, U.S. Customs and Border Patrol will be held accountable for effectively acting to prevent evasion of anti-dumping and countervailing duties through a new process with strict deadlines and judicial review.

Attached are a copy of the bill, the conference report and summary of the bill, CONFERENCE REPORT TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 20152 JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE Summary of TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2015.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

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