US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP TRADE AGENDA, INTERNAL TRADE BATTLES, LIGHTHIZER, BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES, AGRICULTURE, NAFTA, TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE, CFIUS, ZTE AND SECTION 337

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE APRIL 21, 2017—MANY NEW TRADE CASES BEING FILED

The Trump trade war has escalated big time with new antidumping and countervailing duty cases against Mechanical Tubing, Tool Chests and a new Section 232 National Security case against all Steel imports.  Many importers simply do not realize how fast these trade cases move and how fast they can find themselves liable for antidumping and countervailing duties and other trade sanctions. With a sympathetic Trump Administration and a very sympathetic Wilbur Ross as the new Secretary of Commerce, more cases are going to be filed against China and numerous other countries.

In addition to the new trade cases, two section 337 patent cases has been filed against China on sockets for mobile electronic devices and robotic vacuum cleaning devices.

COLD-DRAWN MECHANICAL TUBING FROM CHINA, GERMANY, INDIA, ITALY, KOREA AND SWITZERLAND

On April 19, 2017, ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, PTC Alliance Corp., Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc. filed major Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases against hundreds of millions of dollars of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from the six countries in 2016.  The petition alleges antidumping duties ranging as follows:

China: 88.2% – 188.88%

India: 25.48%

Italy: 37.23% – 69.13%

Germany: 70.53% – 148.32%

Republic of Korea: 12.14% – 48.61%

Switzerland: 40.53% – 115.21%

The cold-drawn mechanical tubing covered by the complaint is used to produce numerous different products in the United States, including auto parts and machinery.

As stated above, these trade cases move very quickly and many importers are blindsided because of the speed of the investigations.  In the Mechanical Tubing case, as indicated in the attached notice, ITC PRELIM MECHANICAL TUBING NOTICE, the ITC will conduct its preliminary injury hearing on May 10, 2017.  US importers’ liability for countervailing duties on imports from China and India will start on September 16, 2017, 150 days after the petition was filed, and for Antidumping Duties will start on November 15, 2017, 210 days after the petition was filed.

The entire investigation will take one year and antidumping and countervailing duty orders can last for 5 to 30 years.

If Importers want to fight the case, they must move quickly.  The first ITC hearing in the case will be on May 10, 2017, which is the part of the proceeding where importers can have a real impact.

Atttached is a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Indian, Chinese, Korean, German, Swiss and Italian exporters/producers and US importers, please feel free to contact me.  INJURY EXCERPT SCOPE IMPORTERS EXERPT MECHANICAL TUBING FOREIGN PRODUCERS EXCERPT MECHANICAL TUBING

TOOL CHESTS FROM CHINA AND VIETNAM

On April 11, 2017, Waterloo Industries Inc. filed major Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases against hundreds of millions of dollars of imports of certain tool chests and cabinets from China and Vietnam.

As indicated in the attached notice, ITC PRELIM MECHANICAL TUBING NOTICE, in the Tool Chests case, the ITC will conduct its preliminary injury hearing on May 2, 2017.  US importers’ liability for countervailing duties on imports from China will start on September 8, 2017, 150 days after the petition was filed, and for Antidumping Duties from China and Vietnam will start on November 7, 2017, 210 days after the petition was filed.

The entire investigation will take one year and antidumping and countervailing duty orders can last for 5 to 30 years.

If Importers want to fight the case, they must move quickly.  The first ITC hearing in the case will be on May 2, 2017, which is the part of the proceeding where importers can have a real impact.

Attached is a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese and Vietnamese exporters/producers and US importers, Tool chests CHN VNM petition vol 1 narrative.  If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.

With a sympathetic Trump Administration in power, there will be a sharp rise in AD and CVD cases against China and other countries.

NEW NATIONAL SECURITY SECTION 232 CASE AGAINST STEEL IMPORTS FROM NUMEROUS COUNTRIES, INCLUDING CHINA

On April 20, 2017, as indicated in the attached documents, Presidential Memorandum Prioritizes Commerce Steel Investigation _ Department of Commerce Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Steel on U.S, President Trump announced a new trade investigation of steel imports under section 232 to determine if the tariffs should be imposed because the increased steel imports pose a threat to national security.  The trade action will be conducted under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act since 2001.

If the Commerce Department determines that the steel imports are a threat to national security, President Trump will be empowered to levy high tariffs and quotas on imports of steel products from various countries.

Under Section 232, the Commerce Department will conduct an investigation into the potential national security threat posed by the entry of foreign steel into the U.S. market. Commerce must issue its findings to the White House within 270 days, along with recommendations on what steps to take.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated, however, that the investigation may move along a faster track.  Once Commerce’s review is completed, the President has 90 days to decide whether to accept or reject its recommendations and to impose trade restraints, including tariffs or quotas on steel imports.

This may be the first attack, not just against China, but all steel imports from every country.  The problems with Commerce self-initiating antidumping and countervailing duty cases is the International Trade Commission.  The Administration does not control the ITC, but it does control Commerce.  By bringing a section 232 case, the Administration skips the injury test by the ITC and assuming the Commerce Department reaches an affirmative determination, the President is empowered to impose import relief in the form of tariffs and quotas.  From the Administration’s point of view, there is more than one way to solve the import problem.

NEW SECTION 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

COLLAPSIBLE SOCKETS FROM MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES

On April 10, 2017, in the attached ITC notice, SOCKETS MARINE, PopSockets LLC filed a section 337 patent case against imports of Collapsible Sockets for Mobile Electronic Devices from the following Chinese companies:

Agomax Group Ltd., Hong Kong; Guangzhou Xi Xun Electronics Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Chuanghui Industry Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen VVI Electronic Limited, China; Shenzhen Yright Technology Co., Ltd., China; Hangzhou Hangkai Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Kinsen Technology Co., Limited, China; Shenzhen Enruize Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Showerstar Industrial Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Lamye Technology Co., Ltd., China; Jiangmen Besnovo Electronics Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Belking Electronic Co., Ltd., China; Yiwu Wentou Import & Export Co., Ltd., China; and Shenzhen CEX Electronic Co., Limited, China.

ROBOTIC VACUUM CLEANING DEVICES

On April 18, 2017, in the attached ITC notice, ROBOTIC VACUM CLEANERS, iRobot Corporation filed a section 337 patent case against imports of Robotic Vacuum Cleaning Devices from the following US and Chinese companies:

Bissell Homecare, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan; Hoover Inc., Glenwillow, Ohio; Royal Appliance Manufacturing Co., Inc. d/b/a TTI Floor Care North America, Inc., Glenwillow, Ohio; Bobsweep, Inc., Canada; Bobsweep USA, Henderson, Nevada; The Black & Decker Corporation, Towson, Maryland; Black & Decker (U.S) Inc., Towson, Maryland; Shenzhen ZhiYi Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a iLife, China; Matsutek Enterprises Co., Ltd., Taiwan; Suzhou Real Power Electric Appliance Co., Ltd., China; and Shenzhen Silver Star Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd., China.

If you have any questions about these cases or about the antidumping and countervailing duty cases, Section 232 Steel case, Trump and Trade, US trade policy, or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR MARCH 26, 2017

Dear Friends,

Although politicians in Washington DC have been focused on Obamacare and Russian involvement in the election, trade issues lurk beneath the surface.  Trade was stirred up with the release of Trump’s Trade Agenda, Lighthizer Confirmation Hearings, rumors of internal fights in the Trump trade team and meetings with foreign leaders, including Angela Merkel of Germany.  In fact, the amount of material on trade is mountainous.

One of the pillars for Trump’s objective of hitting a 3 percent annual growth rate (Obama never got over 2%,), is increased US exports, but as indicated above, trade is a two-way street.  As Democratic Congressman Rick Larson of Washington stated recently at the Washington Council on International Trade Meeting on March 13, the Trump Administration has to choose between a trade policy of Trade Agreements or Border Adjustment Taxes.  If the Trump Administration intends to hit imports with increased Border Adjustment Taxes, it will be very difficult to negotiate trade agreements with the many countries on Trump’s list.

On March 21st, in pushing the Republicans in the House of Representatives to push for the Obamacare repeal bill, President Trump stated that without the Obamacare repeal, the Republicans cannot take up the Tax Bill.  But with the collapse of the Obamacare repeal on March 24th, Congress is pivoting to Tax Reform.  That means tax reform, including the Border Adjustment Taxes, will be front and center.  The target of Trump and the Republican Congress is to pass a tax reform bill by August.

Thus the Trump Administration will be soon at a crossroads—increased taxes/tariffs on imports or trade agreements.  It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to have both.

Meanwhile, the decision of Senate Democrats to stall on the Confirmation of Robert Lighthizer has hurt the trade debate in the Administration.  Lighthizer knows trade law.  Many of the officials, such as Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, in the Administration, do not know trade law and the Democratic decision to stall the confirmation truly has hurt the United States.

In addition to Border Adjustment taxes, this newsletter contains several articles about Trump and Trade or the Trump Trade Report.  There are growing arguments between Administration officials and by Republican Senators and Representatives outside the Administration on the Trump Trade Policy as officials and Senators and Congressmen understand the ramifications of a protectionist trade policy on the constituents in their States and Districts.

Agriculture is waking up. During the recent March 14 Confirmation Hearing of Robert Lighthizer, one could see the concerns of Senators from Agricultural States as they realize that agricultural exports, their ox will be the one gored by the new Trump trade policy.

Meanwhile, NAFTA will be renegotiated; CFIUS may include reciprocity: China is taking a divide and conquer strategy on the Non-Market Economy Issue in Antidumping Cases; and new trade cases have been filed on Aluminum Foil and Silicon Metal.

ZTE has agreed to pay record fines because of its export control violations; and a recent section 337 patent case stated that the US production of the patent lessee can be used to meet the domestic industry requirement.

In addition, hopefully Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, which is the only effective US trade remedy that saves companies and the jobs that go with them without curtailing imports, will expand.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP TRADE REPORT

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ISSUES ITS 2017 TRADE POLICY AGENDA AND IT CREATES CONCERNS

On March 1, 2017, the Trump Administration issued its attached National Trade Policy Agenda for 2017 pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 2213(a)(l)(B), 2017 TRUMP Trade Agenda.  In the short summary, which was released on March 1st, Trump stated in part:

“The overarching purpose of our trade policy – the guiding principle behind all of our actions in this key area – will be to expand trade in a way that is freer and fairer for all Americans. Every action we take with respect to trade will be designed to increase our economic growth, promote job creation in the United States, promote reciprocity with our trading partners, strengthen our manufacturing base and our ability to defend ourselves, and expand our agricultural and other exports.

As a general matter, we believe that these goals can be best accomplished by focusing on bilateral negotiations rather than multilateral negotiations – and by renegotiating and revising trade deals when our goals are not being met. Finally, we reject the notion that the United States can strengthen its geopolitical position by adopting trade measures that make American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses less competitive in global markets.”

In other words, the Trump Administration will take a much stronger position on trade agreements and trade policy.

The most controversial part of the Trade Policy Agenda is the strict approach to the WTO.  Thus, one of the key objectives of the Agenda is”

“Resisting efforts by other countries – or international bodies like the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) – to weaken the rights and benefits of, or increase the obligations under, the various trade agreements to which the United States is a party.”

The Agenda then states under the section “Defending Our National Sovereignty Over Trade Policy”:

“it has been a basic principle of our country that American citizens are subject only to laws and regulations made by the U.S. government – not rulings made by foreign governments or international bodies. This principle remains true today.  Accordingly, the Trump Administration will aggressively defend American sovereignty over matters of trade policy.”

One of the key objectives, just like other Administrations, will be to reduce and eliminate foreign barriers to US exports, but the Agenda then goes on to state:

“It is time for a more aggressive approach. The Trump Administration will use all possible leverage – including, if necessary, applying the principle of reciprocity to countries that refuse to open their markets – to encourage other countries to give U.S. producers fair access to their markets. The purpose of this effort is to ensure that more markets are truly open to American goods and services and to enhance, rather than restrict, global trade and competition.”

One key principle the administration said it plans to apply is a form of trade quid pro quo called “reciprocity” to countries that refuse to open up their markets.  Lawmakers and the Trump administration are considering toughening up national-security reviews of foreign investments into the U.S. to leverage better trade terms with China. If Beijing does not open up its markets to U.S. investors or exports, for example, the administration could use its powers to block Chinese deals to buy U.S. assets, or threaten higher tariffs on  Chinese imports.

The Agenda also expresses an interest in using Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to open up restraints in foreign countries to US exports.  But 301 has not been used since the WTO’s 1995 inception.  The Agenda states

“Properly used, Section 301 can be a powerful lever to encourage foreign countries to adopt more market-friendly policies.  The Trump administration believes that it is essential to both the United States and the world trading system that all U.S. trade laws be strictly and effectively enforced.”

The Agenda also singles out trade deficits with China, Mexico, Canada and Korea and calls for a renegotiation of trade agreements and a more aggressive approach to trade enforcement.  Although these policies are very aggressive on paper, the question is how will the new Trump Administration apply these policies.

In conclusion, the Agenda states:

“For more than 20 years, the United States government has been committed to trade policies that emphasized multilateral agreements and international dispute settlement mechanisms. The hope was that by giving up some of our willingness to act independently, we could obtain better treatment for U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses, Instead, we find that in too many instances, Americans have been put at an unfair disadvantage in global markets. Under these circumstances, it is time for a new trade policy that defends American sovereignty, enforces U.S. trade laws, uses American leverage to open markets abroad, and negotiates new trade agreements that are fairer and more effective both for the United States and for the world trading system, particularly those countries committed to a market-based economy.”

The Trump Administration also stated that it intends to update the document when Congress confirms Robert Lighthizer as the next US Trade Representative.

Parts of the policy document contain arguments similar to those in a widely attached circulated memorandum Mr. Lighthizer wrote in 2010 to the US China Commission, LIGHTHIZER 2010 STATEMENT US CHINA ECONOMIC SECURITY COMMISSION. At the time, Mr. Lighthizer told a congressionally mandated China commission that the U.S. could put its WTO commitments on hold, restricting imports from China until the country changes its behavior in key areas.

When the Trump Trade Agenda came out, the Press reported that the Trump Administration will ignore adverse decisions from the WTO.  During the Obama Administration, however, although WTO decisions were not ignored, they were slow walked, especially in the antidumping and countervailing duty area, with only small changes made in response to the WTO decision.

The Trump Administration will probably follow the same procedures.  The rubber will only meet the road when in response to adverse WTO decisions, foreign countries work up retaliation lists.  Then the Administration will have to decide whether to ignore the WTO decision or not.

In fact, after the Agenda was released, Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer stated that noncompliance with the WTO was not the formal policy of the administration.

In addition, many trade experts believe that the Trade Agenda was just rhetoric and we will need to see whether in the future there truly will be a fundamental shift in actual trade policy.  As one trade expert told me, it will take years for this policy to actually work out.

Moreover, as indicated below, Agriculture is waking up.  Now that Agricultural Senators and Congressmen realize that if there is a trade war, their ox is the one that will get gored, agriculture exports will be seriously hurt, the Trump Administration will probably slow up its aggressive trade policy as the hot protectionist rhetoric meets the realities of the international trade system where trade is a two way street.

If the United States truly signals it will not comply with WTO decisions, and other countries impose retaliatory penalties against U.S. imports, it could usher in an era of economic protectionism worldwide, which could trigger a global trade war that could disrupt international business and growth.  But that also would mean that the Trump Administration will not meet its 3% GDP growth target for the entire economy.

The real issue that the Trump Administration simply does not understand is that even though there may be trade deficits, free trade rises all boats.  The US now has over $1 trillion in exports, but the Trump Administration is focused on trade deficits with countries, such as China, Mexico and Germany.  The Trump Administration ignores the trade surpluses with other countries.  More importantly, free trade agreements have caused all boats to rise, increasing economic activity in the United States and creating jobs.  Because of NAFTA, US exports have quintupled creating millions of new jobs, but the Trump Administration appears to focus only on the trade deficit, which is relatively small in comparison to the surge in US exports.

At the same time that the White House issued its trade agenda on March 1, John Brinkley of Forbes, in an article entitled,Trump’s Trade Ideas As Bad As Ever,” responded to on President Trump’s first “State of the Union” address to the Congress where Trump stated:

“I believe strongly in free trade, but it also has to be fair trade.

Fine, but how do you achieve fair trade? Is it to punish other countries whose trade policies aren’t advantageous to the United States? Or is it to work with them collegially to get them to change those policies?
The latter course is the one that all presidents since World War II have chosen. They have negotiated 14 free trade agreements with 20 countries – agreements that require parties to eliminate tariffs and give fair and equitable treatment to one another.

Previous presidents helped set up the GATT and then the World Trade Organization as a forum for ensuring that countries play by the rules of global trade. Since the WTO was created in 1994, the United States has quietly resolved hundreds of trade disputes in its favor through WTO-sponsored consultations.

When consultations don’t solve the problem, the government can file a formal complaint in the WTO’s Dispute Resolution Body. If it rules in our favor, we can impose temporary, retaliatory tariffs or demand compensation.

That is fair trade. Accusing other countries of taking advantage of us, threatening them with exorbitant tariffs, and declaring that the United States is not beholden to WTO rules, as the Trump administration did today, is not fair trade. It’s more like anarchy.

On March 8, 2017 after the Trade Policy Agenda was issued, John Brinkley of Forbes published another article entitled, “Trump’s Disdain For WTO Portends Only Trouble” stating:

After the World Trade Organization was established in 1995, the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations made good use of its dispute settlement system. The United States is batting about .500 in cases that proceeded to a final ruling; most of them don’t. Barack Obama had a perfect record in the WTO when he left office, but some of the complaints his administration filed are still pending.

None of the three presidents said the system was unfair or tried to make an end run around it.

Then came Donald Trump. He has nothing but disdain for the WTO and for the very idea of an international organization making and enforcing rules that the United States has to obey. So, in keeping with Trump’s “America First” ideology, the White House declared last week that America doesn’t have to follow those rules.

When one country accuses another of a trade rule violation, such as dumping a product in the host country at below-market value or unfairly subsidizing a domestic industry, the first step toward resolving it is a WTO-sponsored consultation between the two governments. If that fails, the accuser can request a hearing by a dispute settlement panel. The loser of that proceeding can take its case to the WTO’s Appellate Body.

Between 1995 and 2015, the United States filed 109 complaints to the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body and had 124 filed against it. The U.S. government has settled about two-thirds of them through consultations, thus making recourse to a hearing unnecessary. Like most diplomatic initiatives, these results are achieved out of the public eye and without fanfare.

It’s hard to know what the Trump administration finds objectionable about this system, or why he considers the WTO “a disaster.” None of the WTO’s 163 other members seem to have a problem with it.

But Trump and his merry band of protectionists think they know a better way: to ignore the WTO if it issues a ruling they don’t like.

The President’s Trade Policy Agenda for 2017 says legislation enacted in 1994 lets the administration decide arbitrarily whether to comply with a WTO dispute settlement ruling that goes against the United States.

“If a WTO dispute settlement report is adverse to the United States, [the U.S. Trade Representative shall] consult with the appropriate Congressional committees concerning whether to implement the report’s recommendation, and, if so, the manner of such implementation and the period of time needed for such implementation,” the Trade Policy Agenda says.

In other words, the United States will comply with WTO decisions – decisions based on rules that the United States helped write – if it feels like it. Incredibly, Trump, et al, seem to think this approach would have no negative consequences.

If the U.S. government refuses to comply with a dispute settlement ruling against it, the WTO can authorize retaliation by the aggrieved party. That is likely to be a tariff increase targeted at the industry whose trade practices led to the adverse ruling. If a targeted tariff increase isn’t feasible, the aggrieved country can raise tariffs against some other industry.

Presumably, Trump would then retaliate against the retaliator and off we’d go into a destructive trade war.

It’s important to understand that the United States was intimately involved in the creation of the WTO and the drafting of its rules. During previous administrations, the U.S. ambassador to the WTO was in Geneva almost every day protecting the interests of the American industries and workers. Contrary to what Trump says, the WTO is not a foreign body accountable to no one. It’s a democratic institution, accountable to its members.

As former U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in the President’s Trade Agenda for 2014:

“A robust international trading system offers the greatest economic benefits when all trading partners abide by their commitments and play by the same rules.”

LIGHTHIZER CONFIRMATION HEARING

On March 14, 2017, the Senate Finance Committee held its confirmation hearing on Robert Lighthizer as United States Trade Representative.  One can see the confirmation hearing in its entirety at https://www.c-span.org/video/?425333-1/us-trade-representative-nominee-testifies-confirmation-hearing

But as of March 23, 2017, Lighthizer’s confirmation vote is being held up in the Committee and on the Senate floor because his status as an advocate more than 30 years ago for the Brazilian government in a 1985 trade case, prior to the time when I was an associate at Skadden, Arps, appears to require a waiver in order for him to assume his role at USTR.  Unfortunately, this decision has left Lighthizer, the best trade lawyer on Trump’s team, out of the internal discussions on trade policy.

The White House has itself pushed to make the waiver vote unnecessary. White House counsel Donald F. McGahn wrote to Hatch and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on March 3 citing a Clinton-era Office of Legal Counsel opinion as a challenge to the waiver rule.

A week after the March 21st confirmation hearing, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas stated:

“I think we made it clear, I think [Finance Chairman] Orrin Hatch made it very clear that it’s not needed. But I don’t know what mood our friends across the aisle are in, and I have no idea what they’re going to do.”

Senator Ron Wyden ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, however, stated:

“We’ve made it clear we’re going to insist on the waiver. There’s this quaint idea that the law should actually matter, and the law says a person in his position has got to get a waiver.”

Thus Lighthizer’s nomination has been held up “for what feels like eons” according to Wyden, but at this point in time it is still not moving.

Meanwhile on March 22, 2017, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the attached letter, chamber_letter, pushed for a quick vote Lighthizer for USTR stating:

“Mr. Lighthizer has led a distinguished career as a trade policy practitioner and has a reputation as a staunch advocate for American industry. The Chamber believes he will represent the nation’s interests well as he works with international partners and addresses trade challenges at the negotiating table and before the World Trade Organization. The Chamber encourages a swift vote on his nomination and looks forward to working with him as the next U.S. Trade Representative.”

During the Confirmation hearing, Lighthizer had bipartisan support with many Democratic and Republican Senators vouching support for his candidacy.  One of the two issues of primary importance was the decision to break mega deals, such as the TPP, into bilateral deals with individual countries.

The problem, however, is that trade deals take a lot of time to negotiate.  The TPP took almost 10 years to negotiate with the 12 countries involved.  But by abandoning the TPP, with an objective of creating individual trade deals with the TPP member companies, the US Government has probably quintupled its work load, if not increased it twelve fold.

Although Lighthizer indicated that USTR would use the TPP draft agreement as a basis to negotiate a number of bilateral agreements, negotiating that many trade deals will take an enormous amount of work by a very small agency – USTR—with only just over 200 employees at offices in Brussels Belgium, Geneva Switzerland and Washington DC.  Trump’s budget is not clear whether USTR will get an increase in budget or whether its budget will be cut.

The second point is the importance of Trade Deals to US Agriculture exports.  In the Lighthizer confirmation hearing, all of a sudden Senators from agriculture states started to wake up.  If the TPP had passed, the biggest winner would have been US agriculture exports with tariffs dropping on more than 18,000 different products, many being agricultural products.  Now the TPP is gone and countries are racing into those overseas markets to replace US agricultural products.

Agriculture Senators and Congressmen want trade deals now because the United States is exporting billions of dollars in agricultural products to the rest of the World.  Mexican government officials recently declared that since Trump wants to be tough on trade with Mexico, they will cut $2.4 billion in imports of corn from the United States and replace the US corn with corn from Brazil and Argentina.  Congressman Newhouse at a recent Washington Council on International Trade stated that after the Korea FTA, exports of Washington State cherries doubled and Washington State French fries increased by 52%.  Increased exports means more jobs.

With a decision not to do the TPP, Senators and Congressmen from agricultural states fear that other countries will replace the United States and get those benefits.  As indicated below, that is a real and justified fear.

TRUMP TRADE AGENDA—OPPOSITION TO THE TRUMP TRADE POLICY IN THE ADMINISTRATION AND IN CONGRESS

Part of the Trump trade problem is the perception by Trump and many on his internal trade staff, such as Peter Navarro, that trade is a one-way street.  The Administration apparently believes it can simply issue an executive order raising tariffs, taxes or barriers to imports with no reaction by foreign countries.

But the Trump Administration is now in the international arena.  Although Trump won the Presidency, he has no political power over foreign countries.  Trade is a two-way street and as stated in several past newsletters, Mexico, Canada, China, and Germany have all threatened retaliation if the US imposes trade restraints, including Border Adjustment Taxes.  Deals have to be negotiated, but most countries, including the US, will not negotiate a deal when a gun is pointed at their head.

INTERNAL ADMINISTRATION TRADE FIGHTS—NAVARRO CREATES AN INTERNAL TRADE WAR

On March 10th the Financial Times reported that a trade war had broken out in White House in what was called “a fiery meeting” in the Oval Office pitting economic nationalists close to Donald Trump against pro­trade moderates in Treasury and the Economic Council from Wall Street.

Navarro is the ultra-nationalist economist who has angered Berlin and other European allies by accusing Germany of currency manipulation and exploiting a “grossly undervalued” euro and calling for bilateral discussions with Angela Merkel’s government over ways to reduce the US trade deficit with Germany.

The fight was between trade hardliners, such as Steve Bannon and Peter Narvarro, against the free trade economic faction led by Gary Cohn, the executive from Goldman Sachs, who heads the National Economic Council.  Note that since Lighthizer has not been confirmed, he could not be part of the discussion.  Bannon and Navarro support the Border Adjustment Tax while Cohn and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin oppose it.

During the last several weeks, Navarro appeared to be losing influence. But during the recent Oval Office fight, Mr Trump appeared to side with the economic nationalists.

Mr Navarro’s case has angered Republicans in Congress because he was criticized for being ill­prepared and vague at a closed­door briefing he held with Senators in February.

Reports have been made that Mr Navarro is becoming increasingly isolated in the administration. He has been operating with a very small staff out of an office in the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House, while Mr Cohn has been adding staff to his NEC base inside the West Wing of the White House.

On March 5th, Navarro published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on why trade deficits matter:

Do  trade  deficits matter? The question is important because America’s trade deficit in goods is large and persistent, about $2 billion every day. . . .

Reducing a trade deficit through tough, smart negotiations is a way to increase net exports—and boost the rate of economic growth. . . .

Similarly, if the U.S. uses its leverage as the world’s largest market to persuade India to reduce its notoriously high tariffs and Japan to lower its formidable nontariff barriers, America will surely sell more Washington apples, Florida oranges, California wine, Wisconsin cheese and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Just as surely, the U.S. trade deficit would fall, economic growth would increase, and real wages would rise from Seattle and Orlando to Sonoma and Milwaukee. . . .

But running large and persistent trade deficits also facilitates a pattern of wealth transfers offshore. . .

Might we lose a broader hot war because America has sent its defense-industrial base abroad on the wings of a persistent trade deficit?

Today, after decades of trade deficits and a mass migration of factories offshore, there is only one American company that can repair Navy submarine propellers—and not a single company that can make flat-panel displays for military aircraft or night-vision goggles. Meanwhile, America’s steel industry is on the ropes, its aluminum industry is flat on its back, and its shipbuilding industry is gathering barnacles. The U.S. has begun to lose control of its food-supply chain, and foreign firms are eager to purchase large swaths of Silicon Valley’s treasures.

Much of Wall Street and most economists simply don’t care. But to paraphrase Mike Pence on the 2016 campaign trail, the people of Fort Wayne know better. The analysts at the Pentagon know better, too. That’s why, for both economic and national-security reasons, it is important to bring America’s trade back into balance—through free, fair and reciprocal trade.

As indicated below, however, do trade deficits justify increased US barriers to imports?  Wouldn’t a policy of making companies more competitive with imports, such as Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, explained below be a better option.  TAA does not risk retaliation from other countries.

Moreover, as stated above, focusing on trade deficits ignores the enormous increase in US exports to those countries.  Navarro focuses on a trade deficit and ignores the fact that US exports are over $1 trillion and support millions of jobs.  A trade war will cut those exports and jobs in half.  That will not make America great again.

Recently Navarro attempted to intervene in an antidumping duty case at the Commerce Department on Oil Country Tubular Goods from Korea sparking outrage from the trade lawyers representing the Korean steel mills.  Navarro should keep in mind that the Commerce Department in antidumping cases makes its decision based on the facts on the administrative record and the Commerce Department’s determinations are subject to Court review by the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  In the past, Courts have made clear that when a Government agency, such as the Commerce Department, makes a decision based on politics, that is a reason for depositions of the government official.  Navarro might be deposed in any appeal of the OCTG case to the Court.

On March 13, John Brinkley of Forbes in an article entitled, “Commerce Secretary Ross Thinks U.S. Is In A Trade War”, which also addressed Navarro’s thinking, stated:

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, responding to concerns that the Trump administration is pushing the United States toward a trade war, said we were already in one.

“We’ve been in a trade war for decades,” he said last week in an interview with Bloomberg News. “That’s why we have the (trade) deficits.”

But not to worry, Ross said. “It’s not going to be a shooting war. If people know you have the big bazooka, you probably don’t have to use it.”

That’s the Luca Brasi negotiating method: bend to our will or we’ll blow you to smithereens. Peter Navarro, the head of the White House National Trade Council, recently suggested that future trade agreements include a rule stating that they can be renegotiated any time the U.S. runs a trade deficit with the partner country. That is, to put it mildly, a non-starter.

Ross’s and Navarro’s remarks are symptomatic of the Trump administration’s singular obsession with trade deficits. However, the fact that the United States has a global trade deficit does not mean we’re in a trade war. It doesn’t mean our trading partners are cheating us any more than that we’re cheating Canada and the United Kingdom by running trade surpluses with them. It means we import more than we export. One of the reasons for that is the strength of the dollar in foreign exchange markets. A strong dollar makes imports less expensive and exports more expensive. That, in turn, leads to more choices and lower prices for American consumers.

Navarro said in a recent speech that trade surpluses were synonymous with economic growth. History suggests otherwise. The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate fell to 4.7%. The trade deficit in January (February not available yet) was $48.5 billion, the highest it’s been since March  2012.

The trade deficit decreased during the recession of 2008-09. The United States ran a trade surplus through most of the Great Depression.

Ross didn’t say who the enemy was in this supposed trade war, but President Trump has made it clear that he has it in for China and Mexico, our second and third largest trading partners, respectively. Our largest bilateral trade deficits are with those countries.

So, Trump intends to renegotiate NAFTA. And, he has threatened China with punitive tariffs. He has said doing these things would erase the U.S. trade deficit, cause a renaissance of American manufacturing jobs and bring the 3% GDP growth he promised.

They would do none of those things.

“Withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and launching trade actions against China ensure political headlines, but they will not make much difference to the global U.S. trade deficit. Nor will they bring more jobs and higher wages to U.S. workers,” said Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Euijin Jung of the Peterson Institute of International Economics in an article published in February.

They also noted that the trade deficit is financed in part by foreign direct investment, which is unquestionably beneficial to the U.S. economy. Foreign-owned companies operating in the United States directly employ 6.1 million Americans, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. FDI stock in the U.S. stands at almost $3 trillion.

One way to reduce the trade deficit would be to devalue the dollar against the Chinese yuan and other currencies.  That would be politically difficult because it’s what Trump (wrongly) accuses China of doing on a regular basis. It would also raise the prices of imported food and manufactured goods and, possibly, cause inflation. That would hurt low-income Americans the most.

A better idea would be for the Trump trade triumvirate to calculate America’s balance of trade with its 20 free trade agreement partners. They would find that we have an aggregate trade surplus with them. Maybe then they’d reconsider their plans to renegotiate or withdraw from those agreements.

If Ross thinks we’re in a trade war now, let him propose raising tariffs against Mexico and China over and above the World Trade Organization’s Most Favored Nation rates. Then, we’d be in a trade war for real.

NAVARRO’S STANDING WITH CONGRESS DROPS

On March 16th, senior trade officials from the administration, minus Robert Lighthizer, headed up to Capitol Hill to talk with members of the House Ways and Means Committee about NAFTA, among other trade topics – marking the latest step in what one administration official described as a series of ongoing consultations between the administration and Congress before the White House formally moves to reopen the agreement.

The next step will be for the administration to formally notify Congress that its NAFTA  plans to begin talks, triggering a congressionally mandated 90-day consultation period before the renegotiation can start.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that the White House hopes to send that notification letter “sometime in the next couple of weeks,” meaning formal talks are likely to begin around early summer. Ross is expected attended the March 16th meeting, as did senior members of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative including general counsel and acting USTR Stephen Vaughn, and deputy general counsel Maria Pagan.

Peter Navarro, however, did not go to the Capital Hill meeting. After a meeting with the Senate Finance Committee in February – which was described as “a disaster” – Navarro made such a poor impression that Senators viewed it as a reason for why they need to get USTR nominee Robert Lighthizer confirmed as soon as possible.  That meeting also spurred additional questions about who is really in charge on trade and led to strong reminders that USTR holds the statutory authority.

G-20 BECOMES MORE PROTECTIONIST

On March 18th, the trade protectionist rhetoric increased as it was reported that the G-20 member states dropped the no-protectionism pledge, which indicates more trade storms to come.  The G­20 is an informal forum on economic cooperation made up of 19 countries plus the European Union.  Finance ministers from the Group of 20 countries met in the southern German town of Baden­Baden and issued a statement saying only that countries “are working to strengthen the contribution of trade” to their economies.  In last yearʹs meeting under the Obama Administration, called on countries to resist “all forms” of protectionism, which can include border tariffs and rules that keep out imports to shield domestic companies from competition.

During the press conference, I was told that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was peppered with questions about the border adjustment tax.  Munchin did state that trade deals need to offer a win-win scenario and went on to state:

“We believe in free trade: we are one of the largest markets in the world, we are one of the largest trading partners in the world.  Having said that, we want to re­examine certain agreements… And to the extent that agreements are old agreements and need to be renegotiated weʹll consider that as well.”

AGRICULTURE WAKES UP BECAUSE IT REALIZES HOW MUCH IT WILL LOSE WITH A PROTECTIONIST ANTI TRADE POLICY

In the past, many reporters have asked me what could China or other countries retaliate against.  The United States does not export much.  US exports are simply too small.  In the face of large trade deficits with China, Mexico and other countries in the manufacturing area, what is the US exporting that can be a retaliation target?

US trade data indicate that US exports for 2016 were over $1 trillion.  In the Robert Lighthizer confirmation hearings, you could hear the real concern of many Senators, especially from the agriculture states, that products from their states could be retaliation targets.  Their worry is certainly justified.

As Senator Pat Roberts stated at the Lighthizer Confirmation hearings:

“I’m going to try and demonstrate that we are going through a pretty rough patch in agriculture.  If Trump makes good on his promises to turn U.S. trade policy into a war against imports, “we are going to get into a very difficult situation.”

During the Confirmation Hearing, Roberts, Grassley and other Agriculture Senators extracted a pledge from Lighthizer that in negotiating trade agreements he would push agriculture interests to the top of the list. Senators and Congressmen from Agriculture states fear that if no new trade agreements are negotiated, US agriculture will lose market share and will become the retaliation target of other countries.

Mexico, in fact, is one of the largest buyers of US corn, much of which comes from Kansas and Iowa.  US exports about $2.4 billion in corn to Mexico.  Now Mexico is talking about retaliation and buying its corn from Brazil and Argentina.  What goes around comes around.

U.S. Senators and Congressmen noticed when a Mexican lawmaker introduced legislation favoring Latin American products over American- exported corn, a key winner in Nafta. That move followed warnings from Mr. Trump that Nafta would be renegotiated and Mexico would have to pay for a new border wall.  In response, Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa stated:

“I have been worried because other countries have pushed back: ‘You want us to build a wall, well we’re not going to take your corn.’  If we’re talking about renegotiating Nafta, we actually stand to lose ground in agriculture—so we would really have to work that very, very carefully.”

On March 6th, leaders of the US Dairy industry were in Mexico to attempt and protect their exports from uncertainty over the future of NAFTA. After NAFTA was signed in 1994, American dairy exports to Mexico more than quadrupled to $1.2 billion, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all U.S. dairy exports last year. Because of Trump’s attacks on Mexico, it has encouraged Mexican importers to find other suppliers in the European Union and New Zealand, which are eager to get into the market, and in New Zealand’s case are part of the TPP.

In response to the criticism that Trump is putting his trade focus on the plight of the U.S. manufacturing sector at the expense of the export-dependent agriculture sector, on March 21st Trump pivoted to agriculture.  Sean Spicer, the President’s press secretary stated:

“While our farmers are the most efficient in the world, margins have been tightening, regulations have been multiplying, and exports, which has historically counted for over one- fifth of the U.S. farm production, have been declining due to unwise trade policies.  The President promised the many people in the agriculture industry and throughout rural America that he would not allow this to continue and he will continue to pursue policy changes that will reverse this disturbing trend.”

John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association praised the statement saying that Trump’s proclamation recognizes that “improved trade balances and a successful agriculture sector are inextricably linked.”  He further stated:

“Our industry’s exports not only deliver jobs at home, they are among America’s fundamental strengths abroad.  We are heartened to know that this White House agrees and that they will seek to increase agricultural exports as they examine existing and future trade agreements.”

Ray Starling, special assistant to the president for agriculture on the National Economic Council, recently stated at a National Ag Day event in Washington:

“The President has talked a lot about our manufacturing imbalance on trade, but that is not meant to neglect ag. That is essentially to say we know ag is doing a good job, we are making strides there, we need to do more.”

Now we have to wait and see if Trump truly means what he says or whether he wants a trade war, which will hurt US exports, especially in the agriculture area.

SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN WANT MORE TRADE DEALS–BILATERAL VERSUS MULTILATERAL DEALS

Back on January 26, 2017 in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Trump explained that he did not like multilateral trade deals, such as the TPP, because they are a mosh pit and fall to the lowest common denominator.

During his confirmation hearing, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that it easy to negotiate bilateral deals than multilateral deals.  But the question is, will it be easier to negotiate 12 bilateral deals with 12 different countries when one deal, the TPP, would have done it.  More importantly, although the US will renegotiate NAFTA and start trade deals with Japan and eventually Britain, is it truly realistic for the very small USTR to have continual negotiations with dozens of countries at the same time.  The TPP took 10 years to negotiate.  Maybe Ross is just playing a game and does not want more trade deals.

At a recent trade conference on March 13th here in Seattle held by the Washington Council on International Trade, however, it was very apparent that Washington State Congressmen, both Democrats and Republicans, want more trade deals.

At the Conference Congressman Dave Reichert, WA Republican, and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means, stated that the Trump Administration intends to do more bilateral deals.  He also stated that since NAFTA is a trilateral agreement, all three countries, Mexico, Canada and the US need to be at the table.

Reichert also stated that we cannot give up trade agreements because the cost would be too high.  China will benefit.  He also stated that the United States needs to set the international trade standards through trade agreements or China will do so and 95% of the World’s population and markets are outside US.

Reichert stated that the longer we wait to do trade deals, the more market shares we lose.  He pointed to the FTA with Korea, which dramatically reduced the 24% Korean tariff on cherries, and Washington State cheery exports doubled and Washington French Fries went up 53%.

When NAFTA took place US exports to Mexico doubled reaching $180 billion.  There is now over $500 billion in trade between US and Mexico

Following Reichert, Republican Congressman Dan Newhouse, who represents large Agricultural interests in the Center of Washington stated, “We cannot afford to waste any time as we create opportunities for local producers and exporters to gain access to new markets.”

Congressman Rick Larsen stated that the Administration has to decide whether it will do Border Adjustment taxes or trade deals.  Larsen went on to state that trade is much bigger than just agreements. It is soft power.  Asian countries see the US leading with military power, but the US relationship with the other Asian countries is less secure if the only relationship is military and not trade.

Democratic Congressman Denny Heck stated that TPP went too far too fast and was not politically possible.  Echoing Donald Trump, Heck stated that the white working man has seen no increase in income in 40 years.

But Newhouse stated that after the Korea FTA, Washington State potato growers saw an increase in exports of 670,000 tons of French Fries to Korea.  That is jobs.

On March 22nd, John Brinkley in an article entitled, Trump’s “Trade Policies Would Take From the Many and Give To a Few” points out the problem of relying only on bilateral agreements as compared to multilateral agreements:

“Politics can be defined as taking something from someone and giving it to someone else. Done right, the winners outnumber the losers and the sacrifice will have been worthwhile.

This seems lost on the Trump administration, whose trade proposals are likely to create a lot more losers than winners.

Let’s start with his plan to eschew multilateral trade agreements and negotiate only bilateral ones. With a multilateral agreement, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, all parties play by the same rules. That means exporters don’t have to figure out what the rules of origin are country-by- country. They’re all the same.

Deciphering and complying with rules of origin under a free trade agreement are among the most difficult and time-consuming chores that exporting companies have to perform. If the rule says 70 percent of a truck’s parts have to have been made in the United States, the company has to go to its suppliers and say, where did the door handles come from? Where did the tires come from?

A lot of smaller companies find it isn’t worth the time and expense, so they ship the product and pay the tariff. Or they don’t export at  all.

Having a series of bilateral agreements makes it even harder, because each agreement would have its own rules of origin. American manufacturers were looking forward to ratification of the TPP, because it was to be a 12-country trading bloc with one set of rules. But Trump withdrew the United States from it.

Renegotiating NAFTA is another idea that would take from the many for the benefit of a few.

Breaking up NAFTA and negotiating separate bilateral agreements with Mexico and Canada would be even worse. U.S. Trade Representative nominee Robert Lighthizer said during his Senate confirmation hearing that the administration might take that course.

NAFTA has been in effect for 23 years. Whatever impacts it had on American employment and economic growth are well in the past. If you look under NAFTA’s hood, you see a complex network of supply chains crossing the three countries’ borders. They make it easy and cost-effective for American manufacturers to buy parts from Mexico or Canada and have them delivered quickly and duty-free.

About half of Mexico’s exports to the United States are parts for products that are built here – car parts, electronic components and so  on.

Making those parts more expensive would make the products they go into more expensive and would reduce the importing companies’ revenues, leading to lay-offs or worse. That is basic economics.

Trump said yesterday that renegotiating NAFTA was “going to be an easy one.” Everyone who has ever been a trade negotiator probably got a chuckle out of that. . .. .

“The United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years, and that’s going to stop,” he said last week during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Poor little us. We’re being pushed around by those mean bullies from South Korea and Mexico.

Nonetheless, the U.S. and global economies have been growing at a healthy pace. The U.S. unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, about as low as it can go, and median wages have finally started to increase for the first time since the recession of 2008.

This seems to call for an economic policy of caution and restraint to keep the recovery going rather than taking a machete to our trade agreements and punishing our trading partners for transgressions they have not committed.

That would harm vastly more Americans than it would help.

On February 28th, however, it was reported that the EU expects the Trump Administration to negotiate with the entire block as EU countries pushed back on Trump’s bilateral dreams.  European countries in the EU bloc have been unified against the Trump administration’s reported attempts to bring individual EU countries into direct, bilateral trade deals with the U.S. The EU ambassador at a recent National Press Club meeting stated that bilateral deals are “nonsense”.  David O’ Sullivan stated:

“It’s nonsense to talk about bilateral deals with countries that are part of a single market.  Would American companies really want 28 separate FTAs?”

In Germany, Martin Schäfer, spokesperson for the German foreign ministry, stated:

“The [European] Commission carries out trade negotiations and concludes trade agreements for Europe and for us. This is the legal status, about which we have nothing critical to say.  The new political constellation in the U.S. and elsewhere should not tempt anybody to take up a different position.”

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom also stated recently:

“The U.S. administration seems to favor bilateral relations over multilateralism. And some of the proposals we have seen floated, such as a border adjustment tax, could be at odds with WTO rules. Countries should be able to protect themselves from distortions and unfair trade practices. But that has to be done within the framework of the WTO. Global rules mean everyone playing fair, by a consistent, predictable and transparent rulebook.

In an age when some want to rebuild walls, re-impose barriers, restrict people’s freedom to move … we stand open to progressive trade with the world.”

On March 6th, a top European official stated that U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist stance may propel Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American economic powers into market-opening alliances with the European Union.  Jyrki Katainen, a vice president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said Trump’s rejection of multilateral commercial deals and border-tax threat are giving impetus to the 28-nation bloc’s push for free- trade or investment pacts with countries including Japan, China, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

Katainen stated that:

“When there has been some signals to raise protectionism, especially from the U.S. side, the rest of the world seems to be fighting back and saying that this is not our line, this is something which we don’t want. This is music to our ears.”

The comments signal that Trump’s “America First” approach that seeks to reduce the U.S.’s $502 billion trade deficit may be as much an opportunity as a threat to the EU.

Recently, the US equipment manufacturing industry, which supports more than 1.3 million jobs, expressed its concern about exports.  A report by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers stated that about 30 percent of the construction equipment and about 30 percent of the agricultural equipment manufactured in the United States is designated for export – and would therefore be hit hardest by any slowdown in global trade:

“Slow international growth combined with uncertainty about trading rules under the Trump administration could act as a drag on the equipment manufacturing industry’s overall performance.  Any steps the Trump administration might take to revisit or exit existing trade agreements could further complicate the challenging economic environment outside the United States.

It is difficult to precisely forecast how the Trump administration might rewrite existing trading rules, but any steps that make it more difficult for manufacturers to export their products could hinder growth in the industry.”

TPP CONTINUES WITHOUT THE US

On March 14th Government officials from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership nations minus the United States held a two-day summit in Chile to discuss a path forward on trade following the US decision to withdraw from the TPP.

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay stated:

“I have recently visited Australia, Japan, Singapore and Mexico, met with ministers from Brunei and Malaysia and talked directly with trade ministers from all other TPP countries.  It is clear our partners remain committed to the benefits high quality trade agreements provide.”

Even though the TPP requires that at least six countries composing at least 85 percent of the entire TPP’s collective economic production, with the US withdrawal, the other 11 countries have decided to move forward with the TPP.  As Wendy Cutler, a former trade negotiator at USTR, stated:

“A TPP agreement without the U.S. is still relevant and would have significant economic value.  You’d still have four of the world’s 20 largest economies — Japan, Canada, Australia, and Mexico — alongside significant emerging economies, like Vietnam and Malaysia.”

In other words, other countries will replace US exports in those markets because they will have the benefit of the TPP.

After the meeting in Chile, Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo stated:

“I was particularly pleased there was continuing movement on the TPP.  Countries remain committed to exploring all the avenues and opportunities in relation to the TPP. There was broad agreement on the high level of ambition in the TPP being a benchmark and something we shouldn’t just let slip away.”

Japanese State Minister Takao Ochi stated:

“As long as Japan is concerned we don’t want to exclude any possible ways and we would like to take initiative in discussing with each of the member countries.”

The 11 countries will now work to preserve the trade deal’s innovations, which included new rules on digital trade, disciplines for state-owned companies and what have been touted as the toughest labor and environment protections of any modern trade agreement. The innovations also include new market access that countries negotiated on everything from milk powder to insurance services.

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES

As stated in my last newsletters, the big issue in the trade area right now is border adjustment taxes and tax reform.  New Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says tax reform will take place in August 2017 and it is a priority for the Trump Administration.  Part of that reform is Border Adjustment Taxes (“BAT”).  See http://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/2017/02/23/treasury-secretary-mnuchin-lays-out-aggressive-timeline-for-tax-reform.html.  As Mnuchin states, a US deficit of $20 trillion, which was doubled by President Obama, is a concern, but more important is economic growth, which will result in more tax revenue.  To get economic growth, taxes and regulations have to be cut.

But with the failure of Obamacare in the House, taxes, including border adjustment taxes, move to the front of the Congressional calendar.  Trump and Republicans in the Congress, especially the House, appear to be moving ahead with an alternative to tariffs to spur US manufacturing and that is taxes.  There is now an attempt in Congress to give American-made products a big tax advantage over their foreign competitors through border adjustment taxes, and, in effect, counter the value added taxes used in other countries to deter imports.  As Kevin Brady, Chairman of House Ways and Means, argues, almost 80% of countries border adjust their taxes.  That includes Mexico, Canada, China, and the European countries, putting US exports at a substantial disadvantage.  For Brady’s argument, see videos at the following links, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yYHGoFmNEk&feature=youtu.be and

https://waysandmeans.house.gov/icymi-chairman-brady-cnbc-makes-case-ending-made-america-export-tax/.

Under a border adjustment tax (“BAT”), a 20% tax would be applied against all domestic products and imported products.  But the domestic producer would be allowed to deduct all the domestic costs associated with producing that product.  Thus if a $100 product was produced in the US, the domestic producer could deduct $70 in costs, resulting in a 20% tax on $30 or a $6 tax.  But there would be no deduction of domestic costs for a $100 import resulting in a 20% tax on the full $100 or a $20 tax, giving the domestic product a 14% tax advantage.  The BAT would not apply to exports.

This proposal has welled up from the House of Representatives and is strongly supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Chairman of House Ways and Means, Kevin Brady.  Their argument is that border adjustment tax is needed to offset value added taxes in other countries.  Brady argues that the BAT is the only way to end the “Made in America” tax.

One example given is that if an automobile is produced in the US and exported to Mexico, a 35% corporate tax is levied on the profits of the US automaker and then the US automobile is hit with a 16% value added tax when it comes into Mexico.  On the other hand, when an automobile is produced in Mexico for shipment to the US, there is no corporate tax on the export and no corresponding tax in the US on the Mexican export to the US.  In effect, Ryan and Brady argue that this is a tremendous incentive to move manufacturing out of the United States to countries with value added taxes, such as Mexico, China, Canada, EU and many other countries.

Border adjustments serve as a way to level the playing field and alter value-added consumption taxes many countries, including European countries, Mexico, Canada and China, impose on each stage of production, as products are sold internationally.  Proponents argue that the BAT is not trade policy and does not favor exports over imports.  To see the companies that have VAT taxes in place, see the Ways and Means website at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/ending-made-america-tax-three-major- wins-american-people/.

The Trade War in the Administration on border adjustment taxes has become clear as Bannon, Navarro and others are in favor, but Cohn and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin are opposed.  Wilbur Ross is on the fence.  Trump himself has not taken a position.

On March 25th During a morning interview, Mnuchin said he had been overseeing work on the administration’s tax bill over the past two months and it would be introduced soon. He said the goal was still to win Congressional approval of the tax measure by August. But if the timeline is delayed, he said he expected the proposal to pass by the fall.  Mnuchin did not reveal whether the administration will include the Border Adjustment tax.

On March 9th Bloomberg reported that the BAT is in deep trouble.  The BAT is important because it is expected to raise more than $1 trillion in revenue, which would offset the cut to corporate tax rates:

Companies that rely heavily on exports, such as Boeing Co. and Oracle Corp., love the plan—for obvious reasons. Beyond profits, they also say a BAT would make American manufacturers more competitive by putting them on equal footing with foreign competitors around the world.

Importers hate the BAT. Big retailers such as Walmart Stores Inc. and Best Buy Co. contend that border adjustments will dent profit margins and force them to raise prices on everything from avocados and furniture to Nike shoes and French cheese. In a Feb. 28 letter to congressional leaders, the Americans for Affordable Products coalition said the tax would raise consumer costs “by as much as $1,700” in the first year. . . .

Companies are taking their message to consumers. In late February the National Retail Federation, which opposes the BAT, started airing TV commercials that parody an OxiClean infomercial, telling shoppers that “the all-new BAT tax is specially designed to make your disposable income—disappear!” Proponents, through the American Made Coalition that includes Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Inc., launched a Twitter feed to support the tax. Both sides have created Facebook pages and websites with auto-form letters that viewers can send to Congress. Both, too, routinely pepper media outlets with press releases citing prominent people in the private sector and academia who either love or hate it.

As Bloomberg further states in Congress the BAT is running into opposition from Republicans:

A core group of House Republicans has come out in recent weeks against the BAT, citing the higher prices they’d inflict on consumers. Republican Senate support is in doubt, too. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Walmart’s home state of Arkansas, told a Senate floor session on Feb. 15 that border adjustments are “a theory wrapped in speculation inside a guess.” The next day, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said, “The hard reality is the border tax is on life support.”

But as Bloomberg further states:

“Ryan and Brady aren’t backing down. Without border adjustments, they say, their plan to rewrite the tax code can’t happen. That $1.1 trillion in revenue is crucial to the politics of the BAT, since it helps keep it deficit- neutral, a prerequisite for passing a tax bill through the Senate without Democratic votes. “What it boils down to is that it’s a way to pay for the rest of the tax plan,” says Veronique de Rugy, an economist at George Mason University. “Only revenue comes from this feature—economic growth doesn’t.” That $1 trillion is also crucial to how the BAT might affect the economy. Says Ross, “That is way too big a number to get wrong.”

EUROPE, THE WTO AND CHINA

Meanwhile, other countries are lining up to retaliate if the BAT is passed.  On February 28th, it was reported that the EU is preparing a legal challenge against Donald Trump’s US border tax plan in what could be biggest trade dispute in a century.  Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission’s Vice President, told the newspaper: “If someone is behaving against our interests or against international rules in trade then we have our own mechanisms to react.”  He said the EU was seeking to avoid a potential trade war with the US as it would be “disastrous” for the world economy.

“We have all the legal arrangements within the EU but we are also part of global arrangements like the WTO and we want to respect the global rule base when it comes to trade.”

One WTO trade dispute expert estimated that a defeat in such a case could see around $385bn a year in trade retaliation against the US.  Volker Kauder, parliamentary floor leader of Merkel’s conservatives, also recently stated:

“If Donald Trump imposes punitive tariffs on German and European products, then Europe should also impose punitive tariffs on U.S. products.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has been seeking advice from think tanks and policy advisers on how to retaliate against trade penalties imposed by the US.  China’s strongest responses would likely include finding alternative suppliers of agricultural products, machinery and manufactured goods, and reducing the number of consumer goods like cellphones and laptops that it exports to the United States. Other possibilities could include levying a tax or other penalty on major U.S. companies that do business in China or restricting access to the country’s services sector.

NAFTA RENEGOTIATION

The first trade agreement, which the Trump Administration will negotiate is NAFTA.  President Trump has already formally notified both Canada and Mexico that he intends to renegotiate NAFTA.  The negotiations will probably start sometime this summer.

On March 12, 2017, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that the Trump administration has yet to determine what the trade agreement replacing NAFTA will look like.  As Ross stated:

“One size doesn’t fit all.  The issues of automotive are not the same as the issues of agriculture; they’re not the same as the issues of electronics, or steel. It’s a very, very complicated situation. So it’s very hard to paint just with one big broad brush.”

On March 16, 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau stated:

“NAFTA’s been … improved a dozen times over the past 20 years. There’s always opportunities to talk about how we can make it better. It has led to a lot of great jobs for a whole lot of people on both sides of the border and I very much take him [Trump] at his word when he talks about just making a few tweaks. Because that’s what we’re always happy to do.

“We’ve got auto parts crisscrossing the border six times before they end up in a finished product. You’ve got over $2 billion a day going back and forth. So, making sure that the border is … secure but also smooth in its flow of goods and people is essential to good jobs on both sides of the border.”

Meanwhile, there are a number of meetings between US, Canadian and Mexican officials preparing for the NAFTA negotiations.

On March 21st, the Trump administration created the attached list, KEY ELEMENTS, of more than 20 foreign trade practices it would like to address in a renegotiation of NAFTA and in any bilateral trade deal it might pursue.  The list includes relatively new areas like foreign currency manipulation, where achieving agreement could be difficult, but also a host of others like intellectual protection that have long been mainstays in U.S. trade agreements.  Payne Griffin, deputy chief of staff at the Office of U.S. Trade Representative, stated:

“These are market problems that the administration has identified either through vigorous consultations with Congress or their own internal research.  It is a non-exhaustive list of things that may be addressed in these bilateral trade agreements.”

CHINA NONMARKET ECONOMY

China has initiated a mandatory 60-day consultation period with both economies before deciding to request a dispute settlement panel to hear its complaint.  China has now decided to only target the EU, which is in the process of trying to change antidumping methodology. Brussels is trying to come up with a new way of treating China under its trade remedy law while still recognizing that Beijing intervenes heavily in its economy.

The United States has said it would only consider a change in response to a formal request from China to be treated as a market economy, something it has not done since 2006.

Apparently, China is trying a strategy of ‘divide and conquer’.  Take on the EU first, because it is already revising its law and they might get a good WTO decision, then face the tougher battle against the U.S.”

MORE TRADE CASES COMING

A law firm that specializes in bringing antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) trade cases recently told me that they are in the process of preparing a number of new cases against China and other countries.  With a sympathetic Trump Administration and a very sympathetic Wilbur Ross as the new Secretary of Commerce, more cases are going to be filed.

ALUMINUM FOIL FROM CHINA

On March 9, 2017, the US Aluminum Foil Trade Enforcement Working Group, including Aleris Inc., Alpha Aluminum, Golden Aluminum, Granges Americas Inc., JW Aluminum Company, Novelis Corporation, Republic Foil Inc., Reynolds Consumer Products, and United Aluminum Corporation, filed major AD and CVD cases against more than $658 million of aluminum foil imports from China in 2016.

The petition alleges duties ranging from at a minimum of 38 percent to a high of 134 percent and targets 232 Chinese exporters and producers of aluminum foil.  The aluminum foil covered by the complaint covers household aluminum foil as well as aluminum foil used in cookware, product packaging and heat exchangers found in cars and HVAC systems.

US importers can be liable for CVD duties on aluminum foil imports from China as soon as August 6, 2017 and AD duties on October 5, 2017.

Attached are the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese exporters/producers and US importers, 2017.03.08 CHN-ALUMINUM FOIL Petition Vol I 1Narrative IMPORTERNAMES.  If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.

SILICON METAL FROM AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, KAZAKHSTAN AND NORWAY

Although the US industry may believe AD and CVD petitions will move the Chinese imports share to the US industry, that is not necessarily the case.  Case in point, on March 8, 2016, Globe Specialty Metals Inc. filed major AD and CVD cases against imports of Silicon Metal from Australia, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Norway.  Chinese silicon metal has been under an AD order with shut out rates since 1991.

Attached are the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted foreign exporters/producers and US importers, SMALL SILICON METAL PETITION.

The first hearing at the ITC is March 29th.  Commerce will issue questionnaires probably in the first week of April.  Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the Countervailing Duty cases, which is when liability for importers begins, can happen as soon as August.

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

With a sympathetic Trump Administration in power, there will be a sharp rise in AD and CVD cases against China and other countries.

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES – A BETTER ALTERNATIVE TRADE REMEDY WHICH ACTUALLY WORKS

Previous newsletters stated Wilbur Ross has made it very clear to reach the 3% plus growth rate, the US must increase exports.  Yet, at the same time, the Trump Administrations keeps concentrating on deficits and accusing foreign governments of treating US companies unfairly.  Trump and his Administration do not look internally and try to find ways to make the US companies more competitive, which will not create a trade war.

The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program does not put up barriers to imports.  Instead the TAA for Companies program works with US companies injured by imports to make them more competitive.  The objective of TAA for Companies is to save the company and by saving the company it saves the jobs that go with that company.

In contrast to TAA for workers, TAAF or TAA for Companies is provided by the Economic Development Administration at the Commerce Department to help companies adjust to import competition before there is a massive lay-off or closure.  Yet the program does not interfere in the market or restrict imports in any way.

Right now the total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $12.5 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget.  Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.

As stated in my last blog post, TAA for Firms/Companies works.  In the Northwest, where I am located, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, http://www.nwtaac.org/, has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program since 1984. The Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, http://www.mataac.org, uses a video, http://mataac.org/howitworks/, to show in detail how the program resulted in significant turnarounds for four companies. The reason the TAA for Firms/Companies is so successful—Its flexibility in working with companies on an individual basis to come up with a specific adjustment plan to make them competitive once again in the US market as it exists today.  For a sample recovery plan, see http://mataac.org/documents/2014/06/sample-adjustment-plan.pdf, which has been developed specific to the strengths, weaknesses and threats each company faces.

But as also stated in my last blog post, in this environment with so many injured companies, funding for TAA for Firms/Companies has to be increased so it can do its job.   Moreover, with the threats of a massive trade war in the air, which will injure all US companies and destroy US jobs, the US government needs to look at an alternative—TAA for Firms/Companies is that alternative.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

With the election of Donald Trump, as stated in my last blog post, the Universal Trade War will continue.  In addition to the US bringing AD and CVD cases, countries around the World, such as EC, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Thailand, South Africa, and Vietnam, all are filing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against each other and the United States.  These countries have adopted the US law which finds dumping in 90% of the cases.  The US and the EC have created a Frankenstein in the antidumping law and the whole World has adopted it.

Compromise is the best way to settle trade disputes, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to settle US antidumping and other trade cases.  What is “fair” trade for the United States is “fair” trade for every other country.  Many countries want to make their industries Great again.

Because of this situation, this part of the newsletter will concentrate on trade cases in other countries and how other countries see the trade problem with the United States.  It will also discuss potential US exports that can be retaliation targets.

MEXICO

On March 6, 2017, Alexandro N. Gomez-Stozzi, a Mexican trade lawyer, at the Gardere firm in Mexico City sent me the following summary of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Investigations in Mexico:

Mexican Antidumping and Countervailing (AD/CVD) Investigation Procedures Factsheet

  • AD/CVD investigations in Mexico may take from 12 to 18 months as of the publication in the Diario Oficial regarding the initiation of investigation. Terms within the investigative process may be extended with cause, at the discretion of the authority. Investigations are generally conducted as follows (variation of a chart created by Mexican authorities):
  • There is a single investigating authority, the Ministry of Economy´s International Trade Practices Unit (known by its Spanish acronym UPCI, for Unidad de Prácticas Comerciales Internacionales). UPCI makes all relevant findings: (i) dumping or countervailing, (ii) material injury or threat thereof and (iii) causation. Final AD/CVD orders are signed by the Minister of Economy; although informally, trade policy considerations in other sectors come into play before deciding to issue an AD/CVD order. UPCI is also in charge of safeguard investigations.  
  • Investigations are usually requested by Mexican producers representing at least 25% of the total production, although UPCI may initiate investigations if it deems so appropriate.
  • Exporters and importers of affected goods are strongly encouraged to retain Mexican counsel, as all appearances have to be made in Spanish and a domestic service address has to be designated.
  • When issuing a preliminary determination, the authority may: (1) impose a preliminary AD/CVD duty and continue with investigation, (2) continue the investigation without an AD/CVD duty, or (3) terminate the investigation on insufficient evidence grounds.
  • In its final determination, the authority may (i) confirm or modify its preliminary determination to impose an AD/CVD duty, or (2) declare the investigation concluded without imposing an AD/CVD duty. Under stringent circumstances, final determinations may impose retroactive duties for up to three months from date of publication of the preliminary determination.
  • During the course of an investigation, Mexican law allows for interested parties to ask UPCI to convene conciliatory meetings, at which proposals may be presented to resolve the case and terminate the investigation. These proceedings coexist with Antidumping Agreement´s price undertakings.
  • AD/CVD orders remain in effect for 5 years. They may be renewed for similar periods when warranted after a sunset review which covers both dumping (or countervailing) and injury.  Circumvention, actual coverage of AD/CVD orders, and similar proceedings can also be initiated as long as orders are in effect.
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)´s Antidumping and Subsidies Agreements are applied as is in Mexican investigation proceedings. Mexican trade-remedy law and regulations may sometimes be contradictory with WTO agreements; in case of conflict, the WTO Agreements would prevail in court.

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law, Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.09.

CFIUS—WILL INVESTMENT RECIPROCITY BE A NEW REQUIREMENT??

There is movement within the United States to establish investment reciprocity as a criteria in investigations by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States into its national security reviews of inbound transactions, a policy shift that would weigh the heaviest on Chinese buyers if enacted.

Investment reciprocity — the idea that the U.S. should block a foreign entity’s investment in a particular industry when a U.S. buyer would be similarly blocked in that entity’s country — has been on politicians’ radar since before Donald Trump took office.

Trump made no secret of his leanings on the campaign trail, criticizing in particular a Chinese investment group’s acquisition of the 130-year-old Chicago Stock Exchange, a deal that has since been cleared by CFIUS.

If the U.S. does decide to go this route, there are at least a couple ways the government could go about it. The President could direct CFIUS to focus more heavily on particular industries or use a broader definition of national security, as long as those directives don’t stray too far from the regulations dictated by the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007, or FINSA. Congress can also amend FINSA to expand either the range of industries susceptible to national security review, or even expand the review itself from one focused solely on national security to a review that more broadly considers foreign investments in the U.S.

CHINESE MILITARY BUILDUP TO PROTECT ITS TRADE INTERESTS???

As mentioned in prior blog posts, there is a close relationship between defense/security and trade.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was created, in part, by the US naval embargo of Japan.

One of the strongest arguments for the Trans Pacific Partnership was the geo-political argument that the TPP would bring us closer to the Asian countries.  Former defense secretary Ash Carter stated at one point that the TPP was equivalent to another US aircraft carrier.

On March 15, 2017, Malia Zimmerman for Fox News in an article entitled “China next US threat? Beijing beefs up military to protect trade”, stated:

With a laser-like focus on protecting its lifeblood – trade – China is dramatically altering its military operations, creating specialized teams that can protect its maritime resources, routes and territorial expansion plans. . . .

Harry Kazianis, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Defense Studies for The Center for the National Interest, stated:

“The great Achilles heel of China is trade—especially natural resources that come via sea and into its ports—and a big reason it will inevitably become a globally deployed military power. Beijing’s armed forces are working to slowly but surely reinforce and protect its overseas hubs as well as trade routes that move from Europe, the Middle East and Africa and into China’s territorial waters.”

ZTE HIT WITH SANCTIONS FOR VIOLATING EXPORT CONTROLS ACT

On March 7, 2007, in a notice and judgement, which will be attached to my blog, judgment 3-22ZTE Corporation Agrees to Plead Guilty and Pay Over $430, the US Justice Department announced that ZTE Corp, has agreed to plead guilty and pay a combined a penalty of $1.1.9 billion for violating U.S. sanctions by sending U.S.-origin items to Iran.  As the Justice Department notice states:

ZTE Corporation has agreed to enter a guilty plea and to pay a $430,488,798 penalty to the U.S. for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by illegally shipping U.S.-origin items to Iran, obstructing justice and making a material false statement. ZTE simultaneously reached settlement agreements with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In total ZTE has agreed to pay the U.S. Government $892,360,064. The BIS has suspended an additional $300,000,000, which ZTE will pay if it violates its settlement agreement with the BIS. . . .

“ZTE Corporation not only violated export controls that keep sensitive American technology out of the hands of hostile regimes like Iran’s – they lied to federal investigators and even deceived their own counsel and internal investigators about their illegal acts,” said Attorney General Sessions. “This plea agreement holds them accountable, and makes clear that our government will use every tool we have to punish companies who would violate our laws, obstruct justice and jeopardize our national security.  . . .”

“ZTE engaged in an elaborate scheme to acquire U.S.-origin items, send the items to Iran and mask its involvement in those exports. The plea agreement alleges that the highest levels of management within the company approved the scheme. ZTE then repeatedly lied to and misled federal investigators, its own attorneys and internal investigators. Its actions were egregious and warranted a significant penalty,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “The enforcement of U.S. export control and sanctions laws is a major component of the National Security Division’s commitment to protecting the national security of the United States. Companies that violate these laws – including foreign companies – will be investigated and held to answer for their actions.”

“ZTE Corporation not only violated our export control laws but, once caught, shockingly resumed illegal shipments to Iran during the course of our investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Parker. “ZTE Corporation then went to great lengths to devise elaborate, corporate-wide schemes to hide its illegal conduct, including lying to its own lawyers.”

“The plea agreement in this case shows ZTE repeatedly violated export controls and illegally shipped U.S. technology to Iran,” said Assistant Director Priestap. “The company also took extensive measures to hide what it was doing from U.S. authorities. This case is an excellent example of cooperation among multiple

U.S. agencies to uncover illegal technology transfers and make those responsible pay for their actions.”

The plea agreement, which is contingent on the court’s approval, also requires ZTE to submit to a three- year period of corporate probation, during which time an independent corporate compliance monitor will review and report on ZTE’s export compliance program. ZTE is also required to cooperate fully with the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding any criminal investigation by U.S. law enforcement authorities.  . . .”

According to David Laufman, chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the DOJ’s National Security Division, it was “extraordinarily difficult” to obtain key documents and witnesses located in China until on March 7, 2016, the Commerce decision to add ZTE to the so-called Entity List.  According to Laufman, “The game-changing event in this case, was the Commerce Department’s decision to pursue an entity listing of ZTE, demonstrating the efficacy of the whole-of- government approach” to national security.

Companies end up on the Entity List after Commerce determines they are tied to illicit weapons programs, terrorism or other national security threats, and thereafter can’t trade with U.S. companies without a special dispensation from the agency.

This may be the first case in which the Commerce Department has used an Entity List designation to force a foreign company to cooperate in a probe.  Commerce will probably start using this strategy in future investigations.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

DOMESTIC INDUSTRY FROM PATENT LICENSEE

On March 8, 2017, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) issued the attached interesting decision, 2 PAGE ONE PAGE DI, in the Section 337 case Certain Silicon-On-Insulator Wafers.  In that decision, the ITC Administrative Law Judge determined that it could find a domestic industry in a Section 337 if the US patent licensee’s activities show domestic activity.  Even though the patent holder was a non-practicing entity, the ALJ determined:

Silicon Genesis Corporation (“SiGen”), has established contingently a domestic industry in the United States through the activities of its licensee, SunEdison Semiconductor Limited (“SunEdison”) . . . through its licensee, SunEdison, SiGen has proven by a preponderance of evidence that it has made a significant domestic investment in plant and equipment, in capital and labor, and a substantial investment in research and development to produce certain silicon-on-insulator (“SOI”) products at issue in this Investigation.

The decision did not break new ground, but it reminds nonpracticing entities, (“NPEs”) that one way to meet the domestic industry requirement under Section 337 is through the actions of patent licensee in the United States.

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

On March 10, 2017, in the attached ITC notice, Intravascular Sets, Curlin Medical, Inc., Moog, Inc., and Zevex, Inc. filed a section 337 case against imports of Intravascular Administration Sets from Yangzhou WeiDeLi Trade Co., Ltd., China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR-DEVELOPMENTS IN TRADE, TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE, CUSTOMS, IP/337, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Jinshang Park from Forbidden City Yellow Roofs Gugong Palace Bei“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 16, 2014

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, trade adjustment assistance, Trade Agreements, Customs, 337/IP, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

TRADE PROTECTIONISM INCLUDING UNFAIR TRADE CASES DO NOT WORK

The problem with trade protectionism, including “unfair” antidumping and countervailing duty cases, is they do not work. Antidumping and countervailing duty cases do not accomplish their objective of protecting the US industry from “unfair” imports.

Note the quotes around unfair, because in the context of China, since the United States refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine whether Chinese companies are dumping, the US government simply does not know whether the Chinese companies are dumping.  Instead for the last 30 years Commerce has used Alice in Wonderland surrogate values from surrogate countries that have no relationship with economic reality in China to construct the “cost” of production in China.

With regard to accomplishing its objective of protecting the domestic industry, however, as stated in my January newsletter, on June 28, 1986 in his attached speech from his Santa Barbara ranch, BETTER COPY REAGAN IT SPEECH, President Ronald Reagan realized the simple point that trade restrictions, including unfair trade cases, do not work. As President Reagan stated:

“international trade is one of those issues that politicians find an unending source of temptation. Like a 5-cent cigar or a chicken in every pot, demanding high tariffs or import restrictions is a familiar bit of flimflammery in American politics. But cliches and demagoguery aside, the truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth.

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

By this time, of course, the protected industry is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition. And that, my friends, is when the factories shut down and the unemployment lines start.

Sometimes foreign governments adopt unfair tariffs or quotas and subsidize their own industries or take other actions that give firms an unfair competitive edge over our own businesses. On those occasions, it’s been very important for the United States to respond effectively, and our administration hasn’t hesitated to act quickly and decisively.

And in September, with more GATT talks coining up once again, it’s going to be very important for the United States to make clear our commitment that unfair foreign competition cannot be allowed to put American workers in businesses at an unfair disadvantage. But I think you all know the inherent danger here. A foreign government raises an unfair barrier; the United States Government is forced to respond. Then the foreign government retaliates; then we respond, and so on. The pattern is exactly the one you see in those pie fights in the old Hollywood comedies: Everything and everybody just gets messier and messier. The difference here is that it’s not funny. It’s tragic. Protectionism becomes destructionism; it costs jobs.”

Emphasis added.

President Reagan understood the inherent dangers of trade protectionism. As Winston Churchill stated, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

A 21st TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSITANCE PROGRAM—A MODEST PROPOSAL

While in Washington DC two weeks ago to discuss the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program, I was told by senior aides in a position to know that Unions no longer favor trade adjustment assistance (“TAA”) and instead oppose the new trade agreements, including the Trans Pacific Partnership and Trans-Atlantic (TA)/ the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. As the senior aide also mentioned to me, in all likelihood, TPP and TTIP will go through eventually, but the Trade Adjustment Assistance Programs may die.

As readers of this newsletter know, I am on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance (“NWTAAC”). We provide trade adjustment assistance to companies that have been injured by imports.

As mentioned in previous newsletters, the Trade Adjustment for Firms (“TAAF”) program is the only Trade Program that works. In my over thirty years of experience in the international trade area, first in the US Government and later defending US importers and end user companies in antidumping cases, there is one overarching lesson that I have learned–protectionism simply does not work. US industries that cannot compete in global markets cannot run from global competition by bringing trade cases.

These cases simply fail to protect the domestic industry from import competition. In response to antidumping orders, Chinese furniture and tissue paper companies have moved to Vietnam, where labor rates are LOWER than China. While in private practice and later at the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) and Commerce Department, I watched Bethlehem Steel bring more than a hundred antidumping and countervailing duty cases against steel imports from various countries, receiving protection, in effect, from imports for more than 30 years. Where is Bethlehem Steel today? Green fields. When faced with import competition, it is simply too difficult to bring antidumping cases against all the countries in the world, which have lower priced production than the US.

With regards to trade adjustment assistance, however, there are two programs. The major trade adjustment assistance is the $1 billion program for employees/workers that have been injured by imports and the smaller $16 million TAAF program.   TAAF happened as an adjunct to TAA for Workers.

Congress started the TAA adjustment assistance programs in 1962 as part of the Trade Expansion Act and as a means of securing support for the Kennedy Round of multilateral trade negotiations. Trade Adjustment Assistance essentially was a tradeoff. If Unions and Workers would support trade liberalization, including free trade agreements, workers would be compensated because of the disruption caused by increased imports.

Many free market Republican types attack the TAA for workers as simply another entitlement that does not need to be paid and can be covered by other programs. In the early 1980s, President Reagan himself put in requirements to set up standards so that Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers would not simply be an open ended entitlement.

But my belief is that President Reagan indirectly approved the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Firms/Companies. Why? Jim Munn.

As stated in the attached 2002 obituary, JIM MUNN, Jim Munn was a famous criminal lawyer in Seattle and an early supporter and personal friend of Ronald Reagan. When I started to get involved in the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, I was told that the Center was in place because President Reagan himself asked Jim Munn to look into the program.

Both President Reagan and Jim Munn were firmly opposed to government interference in the marketplace. What did Jim Munn discover when he looked into the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Companies? It works. Jim Munn decided to head up NWTAAC for the next 22 years.

In the Workers program, TAA is provided at the state and local levels but overseen by the US Department of Labor. The reemployment services provided include counseling, resume-writing, job-search and referral assistance, travel costs for job searches, relocation allowance, training, income support while the worker is in training and a health coverage tax credit. Although the actual amount paid can be much less, the training itself is up to $22,500 per person, almost the amount given to each company. The rationale is that if an employee loses a job in trade impacted industry, the jobs in the industry are fewer and, therefore, the worker will need to be trained to do something else.

One question, however, is why the Unions do not want the TAA and simply want to oppose the trade agreements? One reason could be that TAA is after the workers have lost their jobs and the training may be for jobs that do not exist.

In contrast to TAA for workers, TAAF is provided by the Commerce Department to help companies adjust to import competition before there is a massive lay-off or closure. Yet the program does not interfere in the market or restrict imports in any way.

Total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $16 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget. Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.

The success of TAA for Firms is based on the fact that it focuses on the U.S. manufacturers, service companies and agricultural producing firms individually. The recovery strategy is custom-made for each firm. Once this strategy is approved by the Commerce Department, experts are hired to implement the strategy. The only interaction the program has with the imports is to verify that imports are “contributing importantly” to the sales and employment decline of the U.S. company.

Moreover, in contrast to other economic assistance programs, TAA for Firms is a long term assistance program, which monitors the companies and makes sure that the company succeeds in completing its trade adjustment assistance program that it has agreed to do. TAAF is focused on helping small and medium size enterprises as the support provided to the companies is only $75,000, which must be matched by the companies.

Although at first glance, free market advocates would not support this program, TAA for Firms works. We have published a cost/benefit analysis, which shows that nearly 80 percent of the firms it has assisted since 1984 are still in business. That is eight out of ten companies saved.

In the recent annual Commerce report on TAAF, which is posted on my blog, it is reported that all US companies that joined the program in 2011 were alive in 2013. If the company can be saved then most of the jobs at that company can be saved. In fact, the attached chart, shows that after entering the program, jobs have increased at the companies. TAAF Change in Employment 2009-13

One reason that TAAF may succeed so well is that small and medium enterprise often have a knowledge gap. Although the companies may hire consultants, many enterprises do not undertake the projects that change the essential economic circumstances of the business, such as lean manufacturing, quality system certification, new product development, or strategic marketing overhaul.

Most managers are not looking for solutions until there is a problem. For a small and medium enterprise, trade impact is one of those problems that require a solution. That solution will in nearly all cases entail outside expertise.

In a sense, TAAF is “retraining the company” so it never has to lose jobs, rather than waiting for the layoffs and retraining the individuals. This works because when companies lose out to trade, it’s like a tsunami hits them. Everything changes. Things the company thought they knew about their product, how to make it, and how to sell it, are no longer true. What they need is the knowledge and innovation to succeed in these new circumstances. That knowledge and innovation comes from the Center Staff and outside expertise – consultants and contractors. For each company, the Staff of the Trade Adjustment Assistance Center analyzes the needs of the firm, prepares a recovery strategy, facilitates the hiring of the outside consultant and then monitors the projects until completion. If the companies get to the right place in terms of product and market, they no longer have to lose out to imports. Instead they grow.

Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) specifically targets these circumstances. TAAF is based on the recognition that trade impact leads to a knowledge gap in individual firms that is cured by innovation implemented through outside expertise.

TAAF offers qualified trade impacted firms a matching fund for outside expertise. It is a substantial fund, available over a long term, and highly flexible to meet the unique requirements of diverse firms. The cost of outside expertise would normally come as an exceptional operating expense, in other words, it would come from profit. But for a trade impacted small and medium enterprise that may be losing sales under severe price competition, profit is often in short supply.

TAAF offers access to the critical resource, outside expertise, at a time when the firm needs it the most and would be least prepared to acquire it. The exceptional results of the TAAF program all derive from this connection: trade disruption equals knowledge gap; knowledge gap overcome by innovation; innovation implemented through outside expertise, outside expertise enabled by TAAF. To learn more about the TAAF program, please see the website of NWTAAC, http://www.nwtaac.org.

TAA for workers/employees looks for the businesses that are laying off people and gets those people into a service stream. The idea is that imports increased, some people lost jobs, so retrain those people or get them into some other job situation.

In the alternative, TAAF looks for those businesses that are beginning to lose out in a trade impacted market and then works with those businesses to make them stronger so that they do not have to lay off people anymore, and, as happens in most cases, actually add jobs in time.

In talking with Republicans, although thinking that TAA for workers is simply another entitlement, when the TAAF program is described, they are much more interested.

But that brings us to the present problem. We have two TAA programs that are completely separate. One is the $1 billion program to retrain workers with applications made to the Department of Labor, and the other program is the TAAF program with applications made to Commerce Department. There is little interaction between the two programs and little is done by Commerce and Labor to facilitate such communication.

In the TAA for Workers program, because the companies have the data needed to approve the application, the Labor Department tells the companies that they need to provide data in a relatively short time to the Labor Department under threat of subpoena. Similar data is provided to the Commerce Department in the TAAF program, but the company is given weeks to submit the data.

To move the Trade Agreements forward, TAA for workers and TAA for firms need to be reworked and readjusted to make sure that the programs accomplish the objective of saving the jobs and the companies that are hurt by trade liberalization. There needs to be more coordination between the two programs.

One way to adjust the programs is put the TAA for Companies program first and give it more funding so it can help larger companies, such as Steel Companies, where more jobs are located. TAA for Companies could be used to create a program where the best of technologies and advisory services could be brought to bear to help US companies challenged by globalization and trade liberalization. The Worker program then comes afterwards, after the jobs have been lost. Data that is needed for the Worker program can be supplied as part of the Company program.

One interesting point is that when the Korean government examined the US Trade Adjustment Assistance programs, that government decided not to have a workers program, only a company program, to save the jobs before they are lost.

Legislators may ask where should the money to fund these programs come from? Every year the US government collects more than $1 billion in antidumping and countervailing duties. Although the WTO has determined that the antidumping and countervailing duties cannot be given to Petitioning companies that have filed for antidumping and countervailing duties, those duties could be used to help all companies and workers hurt by imports. The WTO allows countries to provide money to companies to adjust to import competition.

Congress needs to create a 21st Trade Adjustment Assistance Program so that support for the new trade agreements can be generated in the broad population. As indicated below, the TPP alone is predicted to increase economic activity by $1 trillion. With such a huge benefit, trade agreements will eventually go through and the question now is how can the US government help workers and companies adjust to the new competitive marketplace?

WHY MARKET ECONOMY IN ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST CHINA IS SO IMPORTANT FOR US IMPORTERS, US END USER PRODUCERS AND CHINESE COMPANIES

As stated in numerous past newsletters, market economy for China is important in antidumping cases because the Commerce Department has substantial discretion to pick surrogate values. As mentioned many times before, in contrast to Japan, Korea, Indonesia, India, Iran and almost every other country in the World, because China is not considered a market economy country in antidumping cases Commerce refuses to look at actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping. Instead Commerce takes consumption factors from the Chinese producer for all inputs used to produce the product in question, including raw materials, energy, and labor, and then goes to a Third Country to get values often from Import Statistics in third surrogate countries to value those consumption factors.  Commerce then constructs a “cost” for the Chinese company, which often has no relationship to the actual reality in China.

In the past Commerce looked for surrogate values in only one country, India, but now Commerce looks at numerous countries, including Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Bulgaria, Columbia, and Ukraine to name a few and uses import values in those countries to consctruct the cost.  Those import values and the surrogate country itself can change from annual review investigation to annual review investigation.

Thus, it is impossible for the Chinese company to know whether it is dumping because it cannot know which surrogate country and which surrogate value that Commerce will pick to value the consumption factors.  Since it is impossible for the Chinese company to know whether it is dumping, the US importer cannot know whether the Chinese company is dumping.

This is very important because as of February 2014, there were 121 Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders. 75 of those orders are for raw material products, such as metals, chemicals and steel, which go into downstream US production.

This point was recently reinforced by a Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) decision in the Garlic from China antidumping case. On September 10, 2014, in the attached Qingdao Sea-Line Trade Co., Ltd. v. United States, in affirming the Commerce Department’s determination in the Garlic case, CAFC OPINION GARLIC WHY MARKET ECONOMY SO IMPORTANT FROM CHINA, the CAFC stated:

“In an administrative review of a non-market economy, Commerce is required to calculate surrogate values for the subject merchandise using the “best available information.” 19 U.S.C. § 1677b(c)(1). Commerce has broad discretion to determine what constitutes the best available information, as this term is not defined by statute. Commerce generally selects, to the extent practicable, surrogate values that are publicly available, are product specific, reflect a broad market average, and are contemporaneous . . .

We also hold that Commerce may change its conclusions from one review to the next based on new information and arguments, as long as it does not act arbitrarily and it articulates a reasonable basis for the change. Indeed, the Trade Court has recognized that each administrative review is a separate exercise of Commerce’s authority that allows for different conclusions based on different facts in the record.”

Emphasis added.

Thus, the Commerce Department has broad discretion to determine surrogate countries and values and their choices can change from annual review investigation to annual review investigation, exposing US importers to millions of dollars in retroactive liability based on a process, which is inherently arbitrary, because Commerce does not look at actual prices and costs in China. Not only is there a problem with retroactive liability for US importers, US end user companies are often blocked from using the competitive Chinese raw material input, which, in turn, exposes the US downstream producers, such as foundries, automobile and chemical producers, to competition from Chinese companies and foreign companies that do have access to the lower cost raw materials.

Just like a toothpaste tube, when you squeeze to help one producer, you often hurt the downstream US producer. In other words, the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws, rob Peter to pay Paul.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

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

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

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

The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries. We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.

Congressmen have agreed to meet importers to listen to their grievances regarding the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws. In addition to contacting US importers, we are now contacting many Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they are interested in participating in the Alliance.

At the present time, Commerce takes the position that it will not make China a market economy country in 2016 as required by the WTO Accession Agreement because the 15 years is in a treaty and not in the US antidumping and countervailing duty law. Changes to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law against China can only happen because of a push by US importers and end user companies. In US politics, only squeaky wheels get the grease.

On August 7, 2014, we held an organizational meeting in Beijing, China at the headquarters of China Ocean Shipping Company (“COSCO”) with interested Chambers of Commerce and Chinese companies to explain the project in more detail and to seek help in contacting US importers about the Alliance.

We spoke to about 40 attendees, including attendees from the legal departments of the top 10 chambers of commerce, including Chemicals, Machinery and Electronics, Light Industrial Products, and Food, and the Steel, Wood Products and Hydraulics and Pneumatics & Seals Association.

In addition to describing the Import Alliance and the issues regarding 2016 in the US China Accession Agreement, we also discussed the US China Trade War in general. Introductory videos for the Organizational Meeting from Cal Scott of Polder Inc., the President of the Import Alliance, can be found at the following link https://vimeo.com/103556227 and for former Congressmen Don Bonker and Cliff Stearns of APCO can be found at the following link https://vimeo.com/103556226. The PowerPoint we used to describe the Import Alliance, the specific provisions in the US China WTO Agreement and the Trade War is attached.FINAL BEIJING IMPORT ALLIANCE POWERPOINT

TRADE

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT??—CORRECTION

POSSIBLE SCOPE EXPANSION TO INCLUDE PANELS PRODUCED IN CHINA AND TAIWAN FROM THIRD COUNTRY SOLAR CELLS

On June 3, 2014, Commerce issued its preliminary countervailing duty determination against China in the Solar Products case. The fact sheet and preliminary Federal Register notice have been posted on my blog. The Countervailing Duty Rates range from 18.56% for Trina to 35.21% for Wuxi Suntech and all other Chinese companies getting 26.89%.

On July 25th, the Commerce Department announced its preliminary antidumping determination in the Chinese solar products case establishing 47.27% combined rates (20.38% Antidumping, 26.89% Countervailing Duty) wiping out billions of dollars in imports of Chinese solar products into the United States.

Posted on my blog are the Commerce Department’s Factsheet, Federal Register notice, Issues and Decision memo from the Antidumping Preliminary Determination along with Commerce instructions to Customs in the Solar Products Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases, which will help importers understand what products are covered by this case. Also attached is the ITC scheduling notice for its final injury investigation in the Solar Products case. The ITC hearing is scheduled for December 8, 2014.

On August 15th, after an extension, the Chinese government filed a letter at Commerce, which is posted on my blog, expressing an interest in a suspension agreement, but no proposed formal agreement has been filed with the Department.

On the possibility of a suspension agreement in the New Solar Products case or a comprehensive agreement settling all the cases, however, there are indications of ongoing negotiations between the US and Chinese governments.  After being corrected, I checked the law again and the Commerce Department does not need consent from Solar World to go forward with a Suspension Agreement.  But they do need to consult with Solar World. There is no indication that Solar World has been consulted. Commerce is also required to issue a Federal Register notice requesting comments on an Agreement, but nothing so far.

Very recently, however, there have been indications that negotiations are ongoing between the US and Chinese governments in the Solar cases. The talks are confidential and Commerce has refused to even say whether it received a proposal from China for a suspension agreement.

But sources have reported that the two sides have had several meetings since August, when China said it was interested in negotiating a settlement in a public filing. This source said the frequency of these meetings provides at least some indication that there may be movement to finally resolve the solar trade cases.

But there is little time left to conclude an Agreement so the Solar Products case in all probability will go to final determination. Antidumping and countervailing duty orders will probably be issued and could be in place for 5 to 30 years. Chinese companies and US importers will simply then try and get around the situation by setting up production in third countries.

As a result of the Solar cases and the corresponding Polysilicon antidumping and countervailing duty case brought by the Chinese government against the United States, Washington State officials have told me that REC Silicon, which has the largest polysilicon production facility here in Moses Lake, Washington, is about to set up a joint venture in China to produce polysilicon in that country.

Meanwhile, the case moves on and expands.

In the attached October 3, 2014 memo, DOC MEMO, on its own motion Commerce has proposed to expand the scope of the Solar Products case to cover all panels produced in Taiwan and China from third country solar cells. As Commerce states in the October 3, 2014 memo, which will be posted on my blog:

“Interested parties have submitted comments on the scopes of the above-referenced antidumping duty (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) investigations, including certain concerns about the scope’s administrability and enforcement. In response, the Department is considering the possibility of the scope clarification described below and is providing interested parties with an opportunity to submit comments. Currently, the scopes of the AD and CVD investigations of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and the scope of the AD investigation of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from Taiwan contain the following language:

“For purposes of this investigation, subject merchandise includes modules, laminates and/or panels assembled in the subject country consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells that are completed or partially manufactured within a customs territory other than that subject country, using ingots that are manufactured in the subject country, wafers that are manufactured in the subject country, or cells where the manufacturing process begins in the subject country and is completed in a non-subject country.”

Specifically, we are considering a scope clarification that would make the following points:

For the PRC investigations, subject merchandise includes all modules, laminates and/or panels assembled in the PRC that contain crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells produced in a customs territory other than the PRC.

For the Taiwan investigation, subject merchandise includes all modules, laminates and/or panels assembled in Taiwan consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells produced in Taiwan or a customs territory other than Taiwan. In addition, subject merchandise will include modules, laminates, and panels assembled in a third- country, other than the PRC, consisting of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells produced in Taiwan.”

Today October 16, 2014, on behalf of two importers that import solar panels with third country solar cells in it, we filed a brief to argue that a change this late in the Solar Products investigation expanding the products subject to investigation violates due process because of the lack of notice to US importers and Chinese exporter and producers.  The problem with changing the scope this late in the antidumping and countervailing investigation is that Commerce Department’s record is now closed and those Chinese companies that export solar panels with third country solar cells in them along with the US companies that import those products have no opportunity to prove that the Chinese companies are separate and independent from the Chinese goverment.  The Chinese companies, therefore, will automatically get an antidumping rate of 167%.

Moveover, the entire antidumping and countervailing duty proceeding at Commerce as well as the injury investigation at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) are based on the presmise that the products covered by this investigation are solely those solar panels that have solar cells wholly or partially produced in the subject countries, Taiwan or China.  If Commerce accepts the proposal, that will no longer the case.  The Solar Products cases will cover solar panels with third country solar cells in them when there is no specific determination at the Commerce Department that those solar panels with third country solar cells, in fact, were dumped or that the Chinese  companies producing those panels received subsidies and no determination at the ITC that the solar panels with third country solar cells in them caused injury to the US industy.

One reason that Commerce may have decided to expand the scope is because the AD and CVD orders will be difficult to administer and enforce. It will be difficult for Customs officials at the border to determine where the components of a solar cell in a particular panel from China or Taiwan originated.  But that is a problem with the scope in Solar World’s initial petition that it filed in this case.  Substantially changing the game at this stage in the proceedings raises enormous due process questions in this proceeding.

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

As mentioned in past newsletters, in the trade world, the most important developments may be the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic (TA)/ the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP negotiations and the WTO.  These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues become a focal point in Congress and many Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

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

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

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

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

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

On April 9, 2014, the new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden announced at a speech to the American Apparel & Footwear Association Conference that he was introducing a new TPA bill, what Senator Wyden calls Smart Track. But to date no details have been given about exactly what Smart Track will mean, other than more oversight by Congress and input by the Public in the trade negotiations.

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

Recently, former USTR Ron Kirk in an opinion piece urged the negotiators to conclude an agreement without approval of the TPA. In discussing the situation with senior Republican aides in the US Congress, it was made clear that without TPA no TPP can be concluded. When asked about the Kirk statement, the response of one Republican aide recently was “I hope we are over that point.”

Now the story continues . . . .

On September 5th, it was reported that a coalition of unions and advocacy groups called on U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman to make sure that public health programs are immune to challenges from powerful pharmaceutical firms under U.S. trade deals. The AFL-CIO, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, AARP and other groups in a letter to Froman, said that if an investor-state dispute settlement mechanism — or ISDS — is included in the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, it must contain a shield for Medicare, Medicaid and other government health initiatives. The groups fear that pharmaceutical companies could use the ISDS system to challenge regulations that state legislatures, Congress or administrative agencies use to manage drug costs in public programs.

On September 8th, it was reported that pork producers in seven countries put pressure on negotiators meeting in Vietnam for a session of Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations to resist a Japanese government proposal that would exempt certain sensitive food products from tariff cuts in the deal. Organizations representing hog farmers in the U.S., Canada, Australia, Mexico and Chile circulated an open letter to negotiators reiterating that full tariff elimination is a core principle of the TPP and that Japan’s “unacceptable” proposal to carve out pork and other food products from tariff cuts would undermine the credibility of the deal now and in the future stating:

“A broad exemption for Japan will encourage other TPP countries to withhold market access concessions, backtrack on current offers, lower the ambition on rules language and possibly unravel the entire agreement. Additionally, it would set a dangerous precedent for the expansion of the TPP when other nations are likely to demand a Japan-type deal.

“We call on each of our governments to redouble their efforts to move Japan away from this untenable position. If Japan is unwilling to open its markets fully to our products, it should exit the negotiations so that the other nations can expeditiously conclude the negotiations.”

On September 10th, it was reported that the latest session of the TPP talks in Hanoi had wrapped up with officials reporting progress on the agreement’s chapters covering intellectual property, state-owned enterprises and labor as the TPP negotiators work to deliver a substantial outcome in time for a closely watched November 10-11 APEC summit in Beijing. Assistant USTR Barbara Weisel stated:

“We have committed to a focused work plan, which will allow us to boost momentum and make continued progress. All countries involved want to reach a conclusion to unlock the enormous opportunity TPP represents.”

Canadian and Vietnamese government officials issued similar statements.

Scheduling is significant as the 12 TPP nations are quickly approaching the November 10-11 summit of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation in Beijing, which President Barack Obama and others have indicated as a deadline for the partners to conclude the talks or at the very least announce a significant breakthrough on the major differences.

On September 29th, House Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (Md.) stated that he did not expect Congress to hold debate in the upcoming post-election lame-duck session on whether to give the White House the authority to expedite international trade pacts. At an appearance at the National Press Club, Hoyer stated that he did not see enough support to bring trade promotion authority, or TPA, to the House floor.

Although some House Republicans had expressed interest in trying to move TPA during the lame duck session, when the political fallout from opponents would be less, Hoyer stated:

“I don’t think right now there is the consensus, in either party, to bring that forward. I doubt seriously, as I said, that we’re going consider trade legislation.”

On September 25, 2014, it was reported that top Japanese and US trade officials had closed a two day meeting in Washington DC without resolving any key differences regarding agriculture or automobiles in the TPP Talks. A meeting between U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman and Japanese TPP czar Akira Amari resulted only in a brief statement from the U.S. side saying that the nations’ key differences still remain.

The USTR stated, that “While there were constructive working level discussions over the weekend, we were unable to make further progress on the key outstanding issues.” The failure of Froman and Amari to bridge the considerable gaps on food and automotive trade remains a significant barrier to the likelihood of a significant outcome in the broader 12-nation TPP talks in time for an Asia-Pacific summit in November 10-11 in Beijing, China.

On October 1, 2104, the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee circulated the attached e-mail, WAYS AND MEANS WASH POST, with an editorial from the Washington Post on the Trans Pacific Partnership and the need to reinvigorate the process. The House Ways and Means e-mail states:

“Momentum for the Trans-Pacific Partnership Needs to be Revived

By The Editorial Board

The Trans-Pacific Partnership is a proposed free-trade agreement that will knit the United States and 11 nations of South America, North America and Asia more closely together, while providing a geopolitical counterweight to a rising China. The pact would be especially valuable because Japan is willing to join, which would require a long-overdue opening and restructuring of its protected but lackluster economy. Indeed, without Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, the TPP loses much of its strategic significance.

So it was disappointing to learn that a Sept. 24 meeting between American and Japanese trade negotiators in Washington broke up after only an hour over the same old issue, Japanese resistance to U.S. farm exports that has plagued the two nations’ dealings for decades. The Japanese departed without touching a sandwich buffet that had been laid out in anticipation of an extended working session, according to the Wall Street Journal.

This is only the latest troubling development for the centerpiece of what was once meant to be President Obama’s foreign policy “pivot” to Asia.  As 2014 began, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was promising to join the U.S.-led free-trade agreement as a spur to his own structural economic reforms. A bipartisan, bicameral group of senior U.S. lawmakers had agreed on a plan for “fast track” legislative authority to expedite a congressional vote on the TPP, once the 12 would-be members hammered out a final deal. Bucking resistance from trade skeptics in his own party, Mr. Obama had offered a friendly reference to that proposal in his State of the Union address on Jan. 28.

But Mr. Obama’s call was received coolly by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and by key Democratic constituencies such as organized labor. Foreign crises in the Middle East and Ukraine occupied the White House and Congress. Two champions of the bipartisan trade promotion measure, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), retired or planned to retire from Congress.

For all of Mr. Abe’s talk of bold steps and confronting special interests in Japan, his negotiators have not yet backed up the prime minister’s talk with concrete proposals, even though the prime minister has said repeatedly that opening agricultural markets is in Japan’s interest. The upshot is that momentum behind the TPP seems to be flagging and the administration’s goal of a tentative agreement by the end of 2014 is looking less feasible.

Vice President Biden tried to patch things up with Mr. Abe in a meeting on Friday, which produced a boilerplate pledge to seek an agreement. It will take more than that to revive the momentum for the TPP and close a deal. Back home, Mr. Abe needs to keep the pressure on special interests. Congress could reciprocate by moving ahead promptly with fast-track authority during the post-election lame-duck period — which will take political courage on its part, too.”

On October 2, 2014, it was reported that the Australian Government has agreed to host a meeting of the TPP trade ministers at the end of October to deal with the outstanding issues regarding intellectual property, agricultural market access, state-owned enterprises and other areas as negotiators race to close major parts of the pact by year’s end. The three day meeting will start in Sydney being Oct. 25, with the hope that the 12 TPP partners can seal the “basic elements of the agreement” before the end of the year.

But the differences with Japan and the lack of Trade Promotion Authority are two big issues that need to be addressed by the US Government. Without these two issues being resolved the chance of any big breakthroughs is small. These two problems would appear to prevent a final deal at the November APEC meeting, which has been an objective of the Obama Administration.

TTIP—FREE TRADE AGREEEMENT WITH EU

Meanwhile, trade negotiators for the US and the European Union announced on Friday, October 3rd that the seventh round of Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership had wrapped up with reports of steady progress on chapters covering trade in services as well as regulations covering automobiles, chemicals and food safety. Assistant U.S. Trade Representative Dan Mullaney, the lead U.S. TTIP negotiator, stated:

“As this painstaking work of building a foundation for an agreement is completed, we will need to make a high-level push to achieve the comprehensive and ambitious results that we are now working to support. That will require a shared commitment at the highest levels on both sides of the Atlantic to move forward quickly.”

INDIA STILL KILLS WTO TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT NEGOTIATED IN BALI

On July 31st, the WTO announced that the Trade Facilitation Agreement negotiated in Bali would not be implemented on schedule because of the substantial opposition from developing nations led by India as a result of food security initiatives.

On September 22, 2014, Director General Roberto Azevedo of the WTO warned that a deadlock on the multilateral body’s implementation of a modest trade-facilitation agreement could impose a “freezing effect” on the WTO’s work in other areas. The Director General stated:

“Many areas of our work may suffer a freezing effect, including the areas of greatest interest to developing countries, such as agriculture. All negotiations mandated in Bali, such as the one to find a permanent solution for the issue of public stockholding for food security purposes, may never even happen if members fail to implement each and every part of the Bali Package, including the trade facilitation agreement.”

Azevedo restated what he has said in the past that India and the developing countries’ concerns on food security have been addressed in the Bali package, which extended a “safe harbor” period prohibiting challenges against the controversial programs while committing to hold talks to find a permanent fix.

Azevedo stated:

“Failing to agree on new rules for twenty years is a very disturbing record. Considerably graver than that is not being able to implement what has been finally agreed only a few months earlier. The question that WTO members are trying to answer is not whether members can ensure their food security but rather under which commonly agreed disciplines they can implement policies to achieve this goal without further distorting trade or aggravating the food insecurity of third countries.”

On September 30th, however, in his first meeting with President Obama, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday reaffirmed his government’s position in the ongoing fight to implement a World Trade Organization trade facilitation pact, linking his support for the deal to action on food security issues. Modi made clear that India is not backing down from the push to shield its food security programs from legal challenges, which led the WTO to miss the July 31 deadline to implement the Trade Facilitation Agreement.

After the meeting with President Obama, Modi tweeted that “We had an open discussion on WTO issue. We support trade facilitation, but a solution that takes care of our food security must be found.” Speaking to reporters through a translator alongside Obama, Modi also said he believed it would be possible to resolve the impasse “soon.”

On September 29th, the WTO cited little progress following a Sept (PCTF) meeting, nearly two months after the advance the trade facilitation plan over concerns related to India’s food safety demands.

On October 1st, at the WTO’s 2014 public forum, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the World Trade Organization to overcome its internal fights and reach a deal on new global trade rules, including the Trade Facilitation Agreement, warning that the rise of regional trade pacts could undermine the WTO and leave developing nations way behind. Secretary General Ban said that the WTO’s mission to eliminate trade barriers is a key driver of the UN’s own initiatives to promote global development. He called for a renewed commitment to the long-stalled Doha round of trade negotiations. Ban said:

“Trade can — and should — benefit everyone. That is why the international community needs to avoid protectionism. We need an open, fair, rules-based and development-oriented international trading regime in the spirit of the Doha Development Round.”

WTO Director-General Roberto Azevedo also spoke at the forum:

“Trade has become a matter of headlines and high politics once again.  Now, more than ever, our work here has the potential to touch the lives of almost everyone on this planet.”

TIRES FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE

Led by Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina, 31 Democratic US Senators wrote the attached letter, 31 DEMOCRATIC SENATORS BACK TIRES CASE, to Secretary Penny Pritzker of the Commerce Department in support of the Tires case from China. The 31 Senators stated:

“We are writing in strong support of the Department’s decision to initiate antidumping and countervailing duty investigations of passenger vehicle and light truck tires from China.

As you well know, China has targeted the passenger vehicle and light truck tire sector for development and there are several hundred tire manufacturing facilities now operating in that country. In 2009, the United Steelworkers (USW) filed a Section 421 petition seeking relief from a flood of similar tires from China that were injuring our producers and their workers. That petition was successful and the relief that was provided helped to restore market conditions. Employment stabilized and companies producing here invested billions of dollars in new plant and equipment.

Unfortunately, shortly after relief expired, imports of these tires from China once again skyrocketed. Since the Section 421 relief ended in 2012, imports from China have roughly doubled. In response, on June 3, 2014, the United Steelworkers (USW) filed petitions with the Department alleging dumping and subsidies. The Steelworkers’ petitions identified dumping margins as high as 87.99 percent and provided sufficient information for the Department to initiate an investigation on 39 separate subsidies available to tire producers in China.

Our laws need to be fairly and faithfully enforced to ensure that workers – our constituents – can be confident that, when they work hard and play by the rules, their government will stand by their side to fight foreign predatory trade practices. Thousands of workers across the country are employed in this sector, making the best tires available.

America’s laws against unfair trade are a critical underpinning of our economic policies and economic prosperity. Given the chance, American workers can out-compete anyone. But, in the face of China’s continual targeting of our manufacturing base, we need to make sure that we act quickly and enforce our laws. That is what we are asking and urge you and your Department carefully analyze the facts and act to restore fair conditions for trade.”

Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina is in a tough reelection fight, which led to her effort to support her constituent, the Union and the Goodyear plant in Fayetteville, North Carolina.

TOUGHER TRADE LAWS??

On Wednesday October 1, 2014, in the attached press release, BROWN, Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio announced at Byer Steel Group, a US rebar producer, in Cincinnati new legislation that would help level the playing field for American manufacturers by strengthening the ability of the U.S. to crack down on unfair foreign competition resulting from violations of trade law. Senator Brown stated:

“As American manufacturing continues its steady comeback, it is critical that we fully enforce our trade laws to ensure that American companies – like Byer Steel – can compete on a level playing field. That’s why the Leveling the Playing Field Act is so important. We must fight back against foreign companies’ efforts to weaken our trade laws and exploit loopholes. And that’s exactly what the Leveling the Playing Field Act does. I look forward to working with my colleagues in a bipartisan fashion to get this bill passed.”

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

CIRCUMVENTION OF ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS ORDER??

As a follow up to the May 8th letter by Senator Mitch McConnell reported in my last newsletter, on August 14th, Senator Orrin Hatch sent the attached letter, HATCH LETTER ALUMINUM, to Paul Piquado, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement & Compliance, at the Commerce Department, expressing his concerns of circumvention of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders on Aluminum Extrusions. In the letter, Senator Hatch stated:

“Futura Industries and its 327 employees based in Clearfield, Utah is among the U.S. companies affected by the Chinese products found to be dumped and subsidized. I understand that the Department is currently conducting two scope inquiries related to imports of 5000-series alloy aluminum extrusions in place of the 6000-series alloy aluminum extrusions to which the orders apply. I urge you to apply all applicable laws and regulations in making the Department’s scope rulings.”

On August 19th, Congressman Sessions sent a similar attached letter, SESSIONS LTR, to Assistant Secretary Paul Piquado on behalf of his constituent Texas Western Extrusions Corporation and its 700 employees expressing deep concern by recent reports of unfair trade practices from China in exporting the 5000-series alloy aluminum extrusions that once again are “threatening Texas jobs.

On September 8, 2014, it was reported that numerous members of Congress have urged the U.S. Department of Commerce to rule that the so-called “5000 series” of extrusions currently being shipped into the U.S. should be covered by the aluminum extrusions antidumping and countervailing orders.

On September 4, 2014, Assistant Secretary for Enforcement and Compliance Paul Piquado in the attached letter, ALUMINUN COMMERCE RESPONSE, to the lawmakers assured them that the agency is “committed to the robust enforcement of the trade remedy laws” to help provide U.S. firms and workers the opportunity to “compete on a level playing field.” The Assistant Secretary also stated that his office is aiming to reach a decision in its probes by Oct. 8.

STEEL WIRE ROD FROM CHINA PRELIMINARY ANTIDUMPING DETERMINATION

On September 2, 2014, in the attached factual statement,  factsheet-prc-carbon-alloy-steel-wire-rod-ad-prelim-090214, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping duty (AD) investigation of imports of carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod from the People’s Republic of China (China).  Since the Chinese companies failed to respond to the Commerce Department’s questionnaire, they received a preliminary dumping margin of 110.25 percent with the separate rate steel companies receiving a preliminary dumping rate of 106.19 percent.

CAFC AFFIRMS THE IMPORTANCE OF SEPARATE RATES FOR CHINESE EXPORTERS AS OPPOSED TO PRODUCERS

On September 10, 2014, in the attached Michaels Stores, Inc. v. United States case, CAFC MICHAELS CHINESE EXPORTERS NEED TO GET THEIR OWN RATE, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) restated the importance of Chinese exporters, including trading companies, getting their own antidumping rates and that the importer, in fact, confirm that the Chinese exporter has a separate rate. In the case, Michaels, a US importer, assumed that the since the Chinese producer had an antidumping rate, that rate applied to the Chinese exporter. Not true. As the CAFC stated:

“Indeed, it has been Commerce’s policy since 1991 to apply a country-wide rate to all exporters doing business in the PRC unless the exporter (not the manufacturer) establishes de jure and de facto independence from state control in an administrative review proceeding. . . . This court has endorsed this presumption on multiple occasions. . . .

Michaels has not demonstrated that Commerce’s interpretations of the regulation in practice are plainly erroneous or inconsistent with the regulation. Because a noncombination rate for the exporter was established as the PRC-wide rate of 114.90%, Michaels could not rely on its producer rates as a substitute. Were we to conclude otherwise, Michaels could circumvent its antidumping obligations by buying pencils from a state-controlled exporter at a discounted price and then use the antidumping rate associated with its non-state controlled manufacturer.”

OCTOBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On October 1, 2014, Commerce published in the Federal Register the attached notice, OCT REVIEWS, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of October. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Barium Carbonate, Barium Chloride, Electrolytic Manganese Dioxide, Helical Spring Lock Washers, Polyvinyl Alcohol, and Steel Wire Garment Hangers. No countervailing duty cases were listed

For those US import companies that imported Electrolytic Manganese Dioxide, Helical Spring Lock Washers, Polyvinyl Alcohol, and Steel Wire Garment Hangers and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period October 1, 2013-September 30, 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

DUELING US AND CHINA WTO APPEALS

As mentioned in the prior post, on July 14, 2014, in a decision and summary, which is posted on my blog, the WTO upheld China’s claims that certain US countervailing duty cases against China were inconsistent with the WTO Agreement. On August 22nd, China filed a notice of appeal at the WTO with regards to the remaining cases, followed by the US notice of appeal on August 27th.

Both appeals are taking issue with the initial WTO panel’s finding on the uses of all facts available (“AFA”) in countervailing duty cases against China. Commerce based its AFA determinations on the failure of the Chinese government to provide adequate information to Commerce to make a determination on certain programs of the Chinese government.

In the initial panel ruling, while the US won on China’s challenge to AFA findings, the US lost on several other issues, including the Commerce Department’s use of out of China benchmarks to measure the subsidies and the Commerce Department determination that every state-owned company, in fact, is part of the Chinese government, even if it does not function as a governmental entity. In the initial panel decision, the WTO panel determined that Commerce’s decision to automatically find that state owned enterprises (SOEs) to be part of the government and “public” bodies, which therefore constituted “government involvement” in the market, was a violation of the Countervailing Duty Agreement. The US did not appeal this decision by the WTO initial panel and, therefore, is final and a loss for the US government.

The US alleges that Chinese government made procedural errors in appealing the cases to the WTO, including the failure to specify which AFA determinations were being appealed. The initial panel ruling rejected the US argument stating, “While we have some sympathy for the United States’ position, namely that more detail could have been provided in the panel request regarding what in particular about the manner in which the United States resorted to and used facts available is allegedly inconsistent with Article 12.7 of the SCM Agreement, we are not convinced that Article 6.2 of the DSU requires this,”

During the panel proceedings, China had argued that because Commerce cannot automatically assume that State Owned Enterprises/Companies are public bodies for the purposes of Article 1.1(a)(1), it should also not automatically assume that market conditions are distorted just because a State-Owned Company is involved in the marketplace. The initial panel decision, however, did not directly address this issue raised by the Chinese government and is now being appealed by China. The initial panel stated:

“In our view, some determinations are based on the market share of government-owned/controlled firms in domestic production alone, others on adverse facts available, others on the market share of the government plus the existence of low level of imports and/or export restraints.”

China is also asking on appeal that the WTO overturn the panel’s finding affirming the Commerce Department’s methodology for determining whether a subsidy is specific to an enterprise or group of enterprises within a certain region.

NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE AGAINST BOLTLESS STEEL SHELVING FROM CHINA

On August 26, 2014, Edsall Manufacturing filed a new AD and CVD case against Boltless Steel Shelving from China. The alleged Antidumping rates are 33 to 267%.

The ITC notice and the relevant pages of the petition are attached.  STEEL SHELVING SHORT PETITION ITC PRELIMINARY NOTICE

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

On September 3, 2014, I spoke in Vancouver Canada on the US Sanctions against Russia, which are substantial, at an event sponsored by Deloitte Tax Law and the Canadian, Eurasian and Russian Business Association (“CERBA”). Attached are copies of the powerpoint for the speech and a description of our Russian/Ukrainian/Latvian Trade Practice for US importers and exporters.  US SANCTIONS RUSSIA RUSSIAN TRADE PRACTICE

There is a great deal of confusion and uncertainty surrounding business with Russian companies. As sanctions continue to expand against Russia, any company interested in doing business with Russia must constantly check the regulations and hire legal counsel. Every single transaction with Russian entities is a potential target of the sanctions, and, therefore, any US company interested in doing business with Russia must be extremely vigilant. The US regulations mirror regulations in Canada and the EU, but there are differences.

There are two groups of US regulations. The most powerful regulations are administered by Treasury—Office of Foreign Assets Control (“OFAC”). A second group of regulations have been issued by the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) blocking exports of certain energy-sector technologies.

With regards to the sanctions administered by OFAC, US Presidential Executive Orders 13660, 13661, and 13662 define how U.S. Government will identify targets of sanctions (e.g., financial services, energy, metals and mining, engineering, and defense sectors and government agencies and officials).

The specific OFAC regulations regarding Ukraine are set forth in 31 CFR 589 –”Blocking”/“Asset Freezing” sanctions prohibiting transactions with specific persons and entities. Attached are the Ukraine regulations, UKRAINE RELATED SANCTIONS REGULATIONS, but they do change as the sanctions evolve.

Pursuant to the OFAC regulations, U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting transactions, dealings, or business with Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDNs). A US person must also block the property or interest in property of SDNs that they hold or that is located in the United States. The blocked persons list can be found at http://sdnsearch.ofac.treas.gov/. See also:   www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/programs/pages/ukraine.aspx . The list includes the Russian company, United Shipbuilding, and a number of Russian Banks, including Bank Rossiya, SMP Bank, Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank OAO, Russian Agricultural Bank, VEB, and VTB Bank.

When such SDN property is blocked, it must be reported to OFAC within 10 days, and cannot be dealt in by U.S. persons without prior authorization from OFAC.  Civil penalties are up to $250,000 or 2x transaction value, per violation (strict liability regime); criminal fine up to $1 million, and/or up to 20 years in prison.

On July 29, 2014, OFAC issued a new “Sectoral Sanctions Identification List” (the “SSI List”) that identifies specific Russian persons and entities covered by these sectoral sanctions. See www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/pages/ssi_list.aspx. U.S. persons are prohibited from engaging in certain transactions with persons and entities on the SSI List, but are not required to “freeze” or “block” property or interests in property of such persons and entities as if they were SDNs.

Specifically U.S. persons are prohibited from:

“transacting in, providing financing for, or otherwise dealing in new debt of longer than 90 days maturity or new equity for these persons … their property, or their interests in property. All other transactions with these persons or involving any property in which one or more of these persons has an interest are permitted, provided such transactions do not otherwise involve property or interests in property of a person blocked pursuant to Executive Orders 13660, 13661, or 13662, or any other sanctions programs implemented by the Office of Foreign Assets Control [i.e., an SDN]”

General OFAC policy restrictive measures apply automatically to any entity owned 50% or more by SDN, even if the entity is not specifically named as SDN.

Even if company is not on SDN/SSI list, a US company wishing to do a transaction with a Russian company needs to determine in writing whether the company is 50% or more owned by any SDN or controlled by an SDN. As OFAC has stated in its announcement:

“U.S. persons are advised to act with caution when considering a transaction with a non-blocked entity in which one or more blocked persons has a significant ownership interest that is less than 50 percent or which one or more blocked persons may control by means other than a majority ownership interest”

Thus companies or persons on the SSI list may become named SDNs in the future. SSI and SDN Lists are not static but evolving. Lists will likely expand and have expanded based on Russian behavior in Ukraine. Everything could change overnight. Do not rely on a dated list. Keep checking.

www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/pages/ssi_list.aspx

The regulations are extremely complicated and nothing is straight forward. Thus, each transaction with a Russian company must be examined closely in detail and will be very fact specific. The devil in these regs is definitely in the details.

The US and EU sanctions also are affecting the Russian economy as indicated by the fact that VTB, Russia’s second-largest bank, sold 214 billion rubles ($5.4 billion) worth of preferred shares to Russia’s finance ministry because the sanctions have made it more difficult for the Bank to borrow overseas.

Meanwhile on August 6, 2014, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued new sanctions blocking exports of certain energy-sector technologies. Commerce will now require an export license for items used in deepwater, Arctic offshore, or shale projects to produce oil or gas in Russia. Items subject to a license denial under the rule include drilling rigs, horizontal drilling parts, drilling and completion equipment, and subsea processing equipment. Commerce issued no savings clause, which means if the items are on a freighter on the way to Russia, they have to be called back.

On September 11, 2014, the US and the European Union announced new restrictions on Russian access to capital market. The new sanctions target Russian financial, energy and defense companies and make it more difficult to make loans to the five Russian state-owned banks, by tightening debt financing restrictions by reducing the maturity period of the new debt issued by those institutions from 90 days to 30 days. The companies targeted in the new round of OFAC sanctions include OAO Gazprom, Roseneft, Lukoil OAO, pipeline operator, Transneft, and Rostec, a Russian institution dealing in industrial technology products, along with the nation’s largest financial institution, Sberbank of Russia.

OFAC also added another set of Commerce export restrictions on certain oil development technologies by broadening the scope of the items that are banned and adding Gazprom, Lukoil and three other energy firms to the list of specifically banned export destinations.

Treasury stated:

“Today’s step … will impede Russia’s ability to develop so-called frontier or unconventional oil resources, areas in which Russian firms are heavily dependent on U.S. and western technology. While these sanctions do not target or interfere with the current supply of energy from Russia or prevent Russian companies from selling oil and gas to any country, they make it difficult for Russia to develop long-term, technically challenging future projects.”

These new sanctions come close to cutting off entire sectors of the Russian economy.  In practice, U.S. financial institutions will likely treat any transaction with a listed bank as a rejection. The new measures materially restrict access to American and European debt markets for the targeted financial institutions and defense firms.  The U.S. actions now bar affected Russian institutions from the American debt markets for loans over 30 days, meaning that while they will still be able to conduct day-in, day-out business with overnight loans, it will be significantly harder to finance medium- and long-term activity.

The sanctions have already had an impact on oil projects. On September 19, 2014 ExxonMobil announced that it is stopping work on an offshore oil well in the Arctic Ocean it is jointly developing with Russian oil giant OAO Rosneft in order to comply with the escalating sanctions.

In addition to the OFAC and Commerce sanctions against Russia, on July 18, 2014 a massive arbitration award was issued by arbitral tribunal in The Hague under Permanent Court of Arbitration. The Court unanimously held that the Russian Federation breached its international obligations under the Energy Charter Treaty by destroying Yukos Oil Company and Yukos shareholders and awarded the shareholders $50 billion.

There is now a legal search for Russian Federation assets to pay off the award. Yukos lawyers will be able to enforce the arbitration award in any of the 150 countries bound by the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.

CUSTOMS

TREK LEATHER—WHEN ARE OWNERS LIABLE FOR DUTIES OWED BY COMPANIES AS IMPORTERS OF RECORD

On September 16, 2014, in the attached United States v. Trek Leather, Inc. case, CAFC TREK LEATHER DECISION, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in an “en banc” decision made by all the judges in the CAFC held that the President of an importing company may be held personally liable for submitting false information to U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

In the decision, the entire CAFC reversed the earlier panel’s determination that only the importer of record could be liable for penalties, not the owner of the company.  Prior to the decision, importers assumed that the owner could be personally liable only if Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) pierced the corporate veil of the import company.  In this case, however, the CAFC found the owner, Shadadpuri, himself liable for gross negligence for submitting documentation to CBP that understated the value of more than 70 imports of men’s suits in 2004, even though only the company, and not its president, was listed as the importer of record.

As the CAFC stated:

“Recognizing that a defendant is a “person,” of course, is only the first step in determining liability for a violation of either of the subparagraphs. What is critical is the defendant’s conduct. The two subparagraphs of section 1592(a)(1) proscribe certain acts and omissions. . . .

What Mr. Shadadpuri did comes within the commonsense, flexible understanding of the “introduce” language of section 1592(a)(1)(A). He “imported men’s suits through one or more of his companies.” . . . .While suits invoiced to one company were in transit, he “caused the shipments of the imported merchandise to be transferred” to Trek by “direct[ing]” the customs broker to make the transfer. . . . Himself and through his aides, he sent manufacturers’ invoices to the customs broker for the broker’s use in completing the entry filings to secure release of the merchandise from CBP custody into United States commerce. . . . By this activity, he did everything short of the final step of preparing the CBP Form 7501s and submitting them and other required papers to make formal entry. He thereby “introduced” the suits into United States commerce.

Applying the statute to Mr. Shadadpuri does not require any piercing of the corporate veil.  Rather, we hold that Mr. Shadadpuri’s own acts come within the language of subparagraph (A).  It is longstanding agency law that an agent who actually commits a tort is generally liable for the tort along with the principal, even though the agent was acting for the principal. . . . That rule applies, in particular, when a corporate officer is acting for the corporation. . . .

We see no basis for reading section 1592(a)(1)(A) to depart from the core principle, reflected in that background law, that a person who personally commits a wrongful act is not relieved of liability because the person was acting for another. . . . That is as far as we go or need to go in this case. We do not hold Mr. Shadadpuri liable because of his prominent officer or owner status in a corporation that committed a subparagraph (A) violation.  We hold him liable because he personally committed a violation of subparagraph (A).”

ACTIVATED CARBON—THE IMPORTANCE OF DEADLINES WHEN APPEALING FROM CUSTOMS LIQUIDATIONS

On September 8, 2014, the Court of International Trade in the attached Carbon Activated Corp. v. United States case, CARBON ACTIVATED CORP PROTEST FAILS, dismissed the appeal finding that the Court did not have jurisdiction because of missed deadlines. As the Court stated:

“Here, subsection (a) would have been available to Plaintiff because the correct avenue for challenges to liquidations is first to lodge a protest with Customs within 180 days of the liquidation and then to challenge any denial of that protest in this court. . . . Plaintiff filed a protest but it did so three years after the alleged erroneous liquidation. It is established that “a remedy is not inadequate simply because [a party] failed to invoke it within the time frame it prescribes.” . . .Accordingly, Plaintiff had an adequate remedy for its alleged erroneous liquidation, but it lost that remedy because its protest was untimely, not because the remedy was inadequate.

It is a tenet of customs law that the importer has a duty to monitor liquidation of entries. . . . Plaintiff concedes this point. . . Therefore Plaintiff’s claim that it “was first made aware [in June 2012] that these three entries had been erroneously liquidated as entered in April and May of 2008” is insufficient to extend the statute of limitations. . . . Plaintiff has the duty to monitor the liquidation of its entries, and a statutory remedy is in place to challenge any erroneous liquidations for a diligent importer who complies with this duty. Plaintiff’s failure to pursue that remedy in a timely manner does not fall under the rubric of “manifestly inadequate” and therefore Plaintiff cannot invoke subsection (i) jurisdiction in this case.”

FALSE CLAIMS ACT

In the attached false claims act case, PIPES FCA CASE, on September 4, 2014, in United States of America: Civil Action ex rel. Customs Fraud Investigations v. Vitaulic Company, a Federal District Court dismissed a false claims act case ruling there wasn’t enough evidence supporting allegations the pipe fittings manufacturer knowingly filed false documents to evade U.S. customs duties.

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

There have been developments at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) in 337 cases and patent area.

SANCTIONS AGAINST UPI SEMICONDUCTOR

On September 25, 2014, the CAFC in the attached UPI Semiconductor Corp. v. United States, UPI SEMICONDUCTORS CAFC DECISION, affirmed a decision of the US International Trade Commission to impose penalties on UPI for violation of a consent order in a 337 patent case. The CAFC stated:

“Before the court are the appeal of respondent intervenor UPI Semiconductor Corp. (“UPI”) and the companion appeal of complainant-intervenors Richtek Technology Corp. and Richtek USA, Inc. (together “Richtek”) from rulings of the International Trade Commission in an action to enforce a Consent Order, Certain DC-DC Controllers and Products Containing Same, Inv. No. 337-TA-698 (75 Fed. Reg. 446). We affirm the Commission’s ruling that UPI violated the Consent Order as to the imports known as “formerly accused products,” and affirm the modified penalty for that violation. We reverse the ruling of no violation as to the “post-Consent Order” products. The case is remanded for further proceedings in accordance with our rulings herein.”

MADE IN THE USA—FTC AND FALSE ADVERTISING PROBLEM

On October 1, 2014, the Wall Street Journal reported that the Made in US requirement has escalated because of stricter requirements by the State of California. FTC guidelines state that an unqualified “Made in USA” label can go on any goods that are “all or virtually all” made domestically in the United States, but the words “virtually all” are open to interpretation based on the specific facts of the case.

But California has stricter guidelines than the FTC requiring the entire product to be made in the US. If even one small part of a product is foreign, California state law says calling the product “Made in the USA” amounts to false advertising. This law has provoked a number of consumer/class action lawsuits filed in California against US manufacturers.

As one example, a maker of helium tanks designed to be used at children’s parties was sued because it started packing imported balloons with the equipment. In another case, a California company was sued because it produces Maglite flashlights that use imported small rubber rings and light bulbs from abroad.

The California law was passed in 1961 to shield domestic producers from competitors who might get a pricing edge by using large amounts of cheap imported parts to manufacture goods labeled “Made in USA.” The problem is that it has become increasingly difficult to avoid using at least some imported content in a US product.

SECTION 337 COMPLAINTS

NEW 337 COMPLAINT AGAINST FOOTWARE PRODUCTS FROM CHINA

Today, October 14th, Converse Inc. filed a new 337 IP case against footware products/sneakers from China for infringement of Converse’s registered and common law trademarks.  Relevant parts of the petition are attached.  LONG 337 FOOTWEAR PETITION The ITC notice of the petition is set forth below.

Docket No: 3034

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: V. James Adduci, II

Firm/Org: Adduci, Mastriani and Schaumberg

Behalf Of: Converse Inc.

Date Received: October 14, 2014

Commodity: Footwear Products

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Footwear Products . The proposed respondents are: Skechers U.S.A., Inc., Manhattan Beach, CA; Wal-Mart Stores, Inc., Bentonville, AR; A-List, Inc., d/b/a Kitson, Los Angeles, CA; Aldo Group, Canada; Brian Lichtenberg, LLC, Los Angeles, CA; Cmerit USA, Inc., d/b/a Gotta Flurt, Chino, CA; Dioniso SRL, Italy; Edamame Kids, Inc., Canada; Esquire Footwear, LLC, New York, NY; FILA U.S.A., Inc., Sparks, MD; Fortune Dynamic, Inc., City of Industry, CA; Gina Group, LLC, New York, NY; H & M Hennes & Mauritz LP, New York, NY; Highline United LLC d/b/a Ash Footwear USA, New York, NY; Hitch Enterprises Pty Ltd d/b/a Skeanie Unit 3, Australia; Iconix Brand Group, Inc., d/b/a Ed Hardy, New York, NY; Kmart Corporation, Hoffman Estates, IL; Mamiye Imports LLC d/b/a Lilly of New York, Brooklyn, NY; Nowhere Co., Ltd. d/b/a Bape, Japan; OPPO Original Corp., City of Industry, CA; Orange Clubwear, Inc., d/b/a Demonia Deviant, Westminster, CA; Ositos Shoes, Inc., d/b/a Collection’O, South El Monte,CA; PW Shoes Inc., Maspeth, NY; Ralph Lauren Corporation, New York, NY; Shenzhen Foreversun Industrial Co., Ltd (a/k/a Shenzhen Foreversun Shoes Co., Ltd), China; Shoe Shox., Seattle, Washington; Tory Burch LLC, New York, NY; Zulily, Inc., Seattle, Washington; Fujian Xinya I & E Trading Co., Ltd., China; Zhejiang Ouhai International Trade Co., Ltd., China; and Wenzhou Cereals Oils & Foodstuffs Foreign Trade Co., Ltd., China.

Status: Pending Institution

On the same day that Converse filed the section 337 case, it also filed the attached trademark complaint for damages in the Federal District Court in Brooklyn.  CONVERSE FOOTWEAR FED CT COMPLAINT

PERSONAL TRANSPORTERS FROM CHINA

On September 9, 2014, Segway filed a major 337 patent case against imports of personal transporters from a number of Chinese companies in Beijing and Shenzhen. The ITC notice is below and the relevant parts of the Petition are attached, SHORT PERSONAL TRANSPORTERS 337 Complaint. Segway is requesting a general exclusion order to exclude all personal transporters from China and other countries and also cease and desist orders to stop importers from selling infringing personal transporters in their inventory.

The proposed respondents are: PowerUnion (Beijing) Tech Co. Ltd., Beijing; UPTECH Robotics Technology Co., Ltd., Beijing; Beijing Universal Pioneering Robotics Co., Ltd., Beijing; Beijing Universal Pioneering Technology Co., Ltd., Beijing; Ninebot Inc.,(in China) Beijing; Ninebot Inc., Newark, DE; Shenzhen INMOTION Technologies Co., Ltd., Guangdong; Robstep Robot Co., Ltd., Guangdong; FreeGo High-Tech Corporation Limited, Shenzhen; Freego USA, LLC, Sibley, IA; Tech in the City, Honolulu, HI; and Roboscooters.com, Laurel Hill, NC.

Chinese companies must respond to the complaint in about 60 days, 30 days for Institution and 30 days from service of complaint. If the Chinese companies fail to respond, they can be found in default and exclusion orders against their products can be issued.

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

Dorsey & Whitney has substantial expertise in the patent and 337 areas. Recently, we were able to win a major 337 case for a Japanese company in the Point-to Point Network Communication Devices 337 case.

PATENT AND IP CASES IN GENERAL

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE AND TAIWAN COMPANIES

On September 23, 2014, BASF Corp. filed a patent infringement case against SNF Holding Company, Flopam Inc., Chemtall Inc., SNF SAS, SNF (China) Flocculant Co., Ltd. BASF

On October 6, 2014, Hewlett-Packard Co. filed a patent case against Ninestar Image Tech Ltd., Ninestar Technology, Co., Ltd. and Apex Microelectronics Co., Ltd. for infringement of HP’s patents on printer cartridges. Ninestar is located in Shenzhen and has been the target of a section 337 patent case involving similar technology. NINESTAR NEW PATENT CASE

On September 2, 2014, Cephalon, Inc. filed a patent infringement case for drugs against Nang Kuang Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. in Taiwan and Canda NK-1, LLC. TAIWAN GENERIC DRUGS

Complaints are attached above.

CHINESE PATENT CASES

In the attached report in English and Chinese, ACTUAL ABA COMMENTS CHINESE AND ENGLISH, the American Bar Association (“ABA”) ABA antitrust, intellectual property and international law sections raised concerns on judicial interpretations from China’s highest court regarding certain patent infringement trial issues, concerns about some proposed claims rules and also other patent issues.

One concern is that under the drafted requirement, when there are two or more claims in a patent, a patent holder would be required to specify the infringed claim in the complaint, according to the comments. But if the owner doesn’t point out which claim is infringed, the court would presume all of the independent claims were alleged to be infringed. The ABA sections, however, said that such a requirement might “deter meritorious claims” particularly because the infringement details might be controlled by the alleged infringer.

Finally, the ABA sections are also concerned about the Chinese draft that appeared to impose compulsory licensing obligations when having an accused infringer stop practicing the relevant patents would either harm the public interest or cause a “serious interest imbalance between the parties.”

Recently US companies have argued that China has made it more difficult for US owners of pharmaceutical patents to provide supplemental information to fend of certain legal challenges. U.S. companies are now reporting an increasing number of cases where they are being barred from providing such additional information if their drug patents are challenged for a different reason.

During the December 2013 JCCT meeting, the U.S. government complained to the Chinese government it was holding up or invalidating pharmaceutical patents by charging that the application contained insufficient information to meet the requirements of Article 26.3 of Chinese patent law, without allowing brand-name companies to supplement information after the initial filing.  According to Commerce, at the JCCT, the Chinese government pledged that patent applicants could supplement their initial data submissions, and it has made progress toward implementing that commitment.  Recently, however, it appears that the Chinese government may be back sliding on that commitment.

PRODUCTS LIABILITY/FDA

CHINA RESTRICTIONS ON US FOOD PRODUCTS

On Aug. 22, 2014 – Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced that California citrus farmers will be able to resume exports to China this season. A series of scientific exchanges between the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) resulted in an agreement for California citrus to again be exported to China. APHIS and USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service worked closely with the U.S. citrus industry to ensure the successful outcome.

In April 2013, California-origin citrus was suspended from entering the Chinese market due to interceptions of brown rot (Phytophthora syringae), a soil fungus that affects stored fruit. Over the next year, USDA worked with China to address China’s plant health concerns and reopen the market for California citrus exports.

In a statement following the USDA announcement, Western Growers Association Executive Vice President Matt McInerney said China was the third-largest market for California citrus exports before the ban. The USDA release said California citrus exports have a total annual value of $30 million.

On September 15th, it was announced that USDA and USTR officials were in Beijing to discuss the implementation of the Trade Facilitation Agreement (TFA) and in particular a meeting of the sanitary and phytosanitary (SPS) working group of the U.S.-China Joint Commission on Commerce Trade (JCCT), where the agenda will likely touch upon issues like China’s ban on U.S. beef and its regulatory process for approving biotechnology traits. China closed its beef market to U.S. exports due to a 2003 outbreak of bovine spongiform encelopathy (BSE) – or “mad cow” disease — and has since set a number of preconditions for opening it, including a U.S. livestock traceability system.

Early in September, nineteen 19 Senators urged USTR Michael Froman to act on the Chinese government’s rejection of U.S. shipments of dried distillers grains that contained traces of an unapproved biotech trait. In the attached letter, SENATE LETTER DISTILLER GRAINS, the 19 Senators stated:

“We write you to convey our strong concerns over recent action taken by the Chinese government to reject U.S. export shipments of dried distillers grains (DDGs) that contain traces of a U.S. approved trait, which has been under regulatory consideration by the Chinese government. We urge you to work with China to restore the flow of trade as quickly as possible and to develop a more consistent set of rules governing the trade of new crop technologies between the two countries.

As you know, China is the top destination for U.S. exports of DDGs, totaling four million tons valued at $1.6 billion in 2013. Every link in the DDGs supply chain-including ethanol producers, corn farmers, and shippers-have already incurred significant economic damages due to these actions by the Chinese government.

The trade disruption in DDGs is yet another example of the regulatory challenges industry has faced with China since it began blocking U.S. corn shipments in November 2013. We encourage you to work closely with China to promote a science-driven review process for agricultural biotechnology that issues determinations without undue delay, consistent with WTO member country obligations.

As biotech products are a key component of U.S. agricultural trade with China, including exports of DOGs, achieving greater cooperation between the two countries on trade issues involving new crop technologies is essential to maintaining our position as the leading agricultural exporter worldwide.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to strengthen our trade relationship with China in agriculture.”

CHINESE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

US INVESTMENT IN CHINA

Dorsey recently published the attached short brochure,  DORSEY CHINA INVESTMENT BROCHURE, on issues that foreign companies and individuals face when investing in China.

As stated in the brochure,

“Despite the global financial crisis, foreign direct investment into China continues to grow. With China recently overtaking Japan as the world’s 2nd largest economy, foreign investment into China looks set to continue its rise. Nonetheless, foreign investors need to be aware of a number of crucial factors.”

The brochure then goes into details about the following area: Restrictions on Foreign Ownership, Business Vehicles, Approval & Registration, Capital Requirements, Shareholder & Director Nationality, Management Structure, Directors’ Liability, Parent Company Liability, Work/Residency Permits, Thin Capitalization Rules, Competition, Restrictions in the Financial Services Sector, Governing Law of Documents.

ANTITRUST– VITAMIN C, MAGNESITE AND AU OPTRONICS

There have been major developments in the antitrust area both in the United States and more importantly in China.

TAIWAN LCDS CASE

On September 5, 2014, the US Department of Justice and the Federal Trade Commission filed the attached brief, AU OPTRONICS BRIEF, in the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in the Motorola Mobility LLC v. AU Optronics case, the Taiwan LCDs case. In that case, the Seventh Circuit vacated its March 2014 decision that Motorola’s case did not show direct effect on US Commerce sufficient to satisfy the Foreign Trade Improvements Act (“FTAIA”).

In the case Motorola sought damages for antitrust overcharges based on allegedly price fixed LCD panels that were manufactured and purchased overseas, but later incorporated into goods sold in the United States. In their brief, the DOJ and the FTC argued that the 7th Circuit should hold that an overseas conspiracy to fix prices on the component of a finished product that is sold in the US can yield liability under the FTAIA. The DOJ and the FTC argue in their brief:

“The FTAIA makes clear that the Sherman Act does not apply to conduct that adversely affects only foreign markets, but it also ensures that purchasers in the United States remain fully protected by the federal antitrust laws. This Court should not erode this protection.

Conduct involving import commerce is excluded from FTAIA’s coverage, and the Sherman Act thus applies fully to such conduct. This import-commerce exclusion is not limited to circumstances in which the defendants are importers or specifically “target” U.S. import commerce. A price-fixing conspiracy can involve import commerce even if the price-fixed product is physically imported by a third party or if the defendants did not focus on U.S. imports. A narrower interpretation of the exclusion would undermine the FTAIA’s purpose to protect purchasers in the United States.

The LCD price-fixing conspiracy involved import commerce because defendants fixed the price of LCD panels sold for delivery to the United States. Yet, this does not, by itself, entitle Motorola to recover damages for overcharges on all its panel purchases. But it does allow the government to bring criminal and civil enforcement actions. Unlike civil damage claims, in which courts should differentiate among claims based on the underlying transactions, government enforcement actions seek to prosecute or enjoin violations of law, not to obtain damages compensating for particular injuries.

The price-fixing conspiracy also affected import and domestic commerce in cellphones by raising their price. This effect is not only substantial and reasonably foreseeable, but also direct. The natural and probable consequence of increasing the price of a significant component like LCD panels is to increase the price of cellphones that incorporate those panels. A contrary holding risks constraining the government’s ability to prosecute offshore component price fixing that threatens massive harm to U.S. commerce and consumers.

While the government may prosecute conduct that has the requisite effect under Section 6a(1), Section 6a(2) requires that the effect “give rise to [plaintiff’s] claim,” and thus limits what injuries are redressable by damages claims. The injury to Motorola’s foreign affiliates is not caused by the inflated prices of cellphones sold in import or domestic commerce, and therefore the affiliates’ claims do not arise from that effect on U.S. commerce. The first purchasers of cellphones in affected U.S. commerce, however, did suffer an injury arising out of the price fixing’s U.S. effect.

The Illinois Brick doctrine would ordinarily bar these purchasers from recovering damages under federal law because they did not purchase directly from the conspirators, but that doctrine should be construed to permit damages claims by the first purchaser in affected U.S. commerce when Section 6a(2) bars the direct purchasers’ claims. That construction would permit vigorous private enforcement of the antitrust laws—the reason full recovery is ordinarily concentrated in direct purchasers—without implicating the doctrine’s concerns about multiple recovery and apportionment. Absent that construction, it is possible that no private plaintiff could recover damages under the federal antitrust laws.

In any case, government enforcement is critical to combating foreign price-fixing cartels that threaten significant harm in the United States. Therefore, this Court should hold that a conspiracy to fix the price of a component can directly affect import commerce in finished products incorporating that component and that the conspiracy in this case did directly affect that commerce. That holding would ensure the government is able to enforce the federal antitrust laws regardless of any limitations on private damages claims resulting from Section 6a(2).”

Emphasis added, footnotes omitted.

BILL BAER DOJ SPEECHES

On September 10, 2014, Bill Baer, the Assistant Attorney General Antitrust Division U.S. Department of Justice, gave the attached speech, BAER SPEECH ON ANTITRUST PROSECUTION, at the Georgetown Antitrust Enforcement Symposium entitled “Prosecuting Antitrust Crimes” in which he addressed the importance of enforcement of the antitrust laws against cartels and the importance of the leniency system. With regards to the prosecution of antitrust cases, Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer stated:

“Those who conspire to subvert the free market system and injure U.S. consumers are prosecuted vigorously and penalized appropriately. Our record demonstrates that corporations that commit these crimes face serious consequences, including significant criminal fines and, in appropriate cases, tough probation terms. Individual wrongdoers risk lengthy sentences. Courts have imposed criminal fines on corporations totaling as much as $1.4 billion in a single year; the average jail term for individuals now stands at 25 months, double what it was in 2004. Those penalties tell only part of the story. Perpetrators also must confront private and state civil suits seeking treble damages and risk other collateral consequences for their crimes.

Often our prosecutions end with plea agreements. So long as price fixers are held accountable for their crimes, this is an efficient and appropriate way to resolve criminal price-fixing allegations. When the defendant exercises its right to put us to our proof, however, we have the obligation to proceed to trial to ensure justice is done. Our recent record demonstrates the division’s willingness and ability to prosecute successfully antitrust criminal violations. . . . And just this summer, the Ninth Circuit affirmed the corporate convictions of AU Optronics and its American subsidiary, and the individual convictions of two of its executives for fixing prices in the LCD industry. . . .

We also increasingly benefit from working closely with competition enforcers from many agencies around the world.

Our successful efforts to detect and prosecute cartels also reflect the broad consensus in the United States that schemes to deny consumers the benefits of competition have no place in the free market and merit significant punishment. This is not a partisan issue. This Administration and its predecessors have made cartel enforcement a top priority.”

On September 12, 2014 Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer spoke at Fordam Law School on “International Antitrust Enforcement: Progress Made; Work To Be Done”. In the attached speech, BAER SPEECH INTERNATIONAL CARTEL. the Assistant Secretary spoke of the importance of not letting industrial policy and protectionism trump competition concerns in the enforcement of antitrust laws and indirectly criticized China’s enforcement of its Anti-Monopoly Law:

“The U.S. and EU share the core belief that antitrust enforcement must protect and promote competition and consumer welfare. We base our respective enforcement decisions on the competitive effects and consumer benefits of the transaction or conduct being reviewed. We agree that non-competition factors, such as the pursuit of industrial or domestic policy goals, play no role in sound competition enforcement.

The U.S. and EU also agree that antitrust agencies are most effective when they follow decision-making processes that are fair, independent and transparent. Our shared commitment to process pays off. It increases the likelihood that our agencies will be positioned to obtain and consider all relevant facts and issues prior to making a decision. This, in turn, enhances the legitimacy and credibility of our enforcement decisions, and increases the parties’ and public’s confidence in the agency’s ultimate determination. . . .

Worldwide, the total criminal and regulatory fines, penalties and disgorgement obtained to date by law enforcement authorities is over $4 billion.

The international competition community increasingly embraces that view. Progress is being made towards convergence on due process and transparency. However, more work needs to be done. We must continue to seek broad international consensus on the principle that enforcement decisions be based solely on the competitive effects and consumer benefits of the transaction or conduct being reviewed. We must ensure that enforcement decisions are not used to promote domestic or industrial policy goals, protect state-owned or domestic companies from foreign competitors, or create leverage in international trade negotiations.

That is a straightforward and sensible proposition. We are living in a globalized economy where the number of companies operating in multiple jurisdictions continues to rise and there is a greater likelihood that anticompetitive transactions or conduct in one jurisdiction will harm competition and consumers in other parts of the world.

This is an easy proposition to state as a shared value. But it is challenging to implement, especially for enforcers in jurisdictions that are early in the process of moving from a planned economy to a free market system; are shifting their focus from promoting producer welfare to consumer welfare; or have state-owned and domestic corporations with considerable influence over enforcement authorities. Nonetheless, antitrust enforcers in such jurisdictions need to overcome these challenges and commit to making enforcement decisions based solely on competitive effects and consumer benefits. Otherwise, they risk losing the trust and confidence of businesses that are looking to enter or expand in their markets, but may be reluctant to do so out of fear that the playing field is not level. . . . .

Fourth, antitrust enforcement involving intellectual property rights should not be used to implement domestic or industrial policies. Such an approach undermines the integrity and credibility of an agency’s decisions. Enforcers need to be particularly careful about imposing price controls or prohibiting so-called excessive pricing. Pricing freedom in bilateral licensing negotiations is critical for intellectual property owners. I share the concern FTC Chairwoman Ramirez expressed earlier this week with antitrust regimes that appear to be advancing industrial policy goals by “imposing liability solely based on the royalty terms that a patent owner demands for a license . . . .” U.S. antitrust law does not bar “excessive pricing” in and of itself; generally speaking, lawful monopolists may set any price they choose.

This rule applies to holders of intellectual property rights as well. In addition, regardless of the underlying theory of antitrust liability, I am concerned about antitrust regimes that appear to force adoption of a specific royalty that is not necessary to remedy the actual harm to competition. Using antitrust enforcement to reduce the price firms pay to license technology owned and developed by others is short-sighted. Any short-term gains derived from imposing what are effectively price controls will diminish incentives of existing and potential licensors to compete and innovate over the long term, depriving jurisdictions of the benefits of an innovation-based economy.

Now, you may be asking why U.S. antitrust enforcers should care about what other enforcers do within their jurisdictions. There are many reasons. Here are a few.

First, U.S. enforcers can best cooperate with their foreign counterparts on investigations when there is agreement on core analytics and procedural principles. This, in turn, allows U.S. enforcers to more effectively and efficiently address anticompetitive transactions and conduct.

Second, we are continuing to move toward an interconnected global economy. This means that U.S. companies and consumers will increasingly be subject to or affected by the enforcement approach taken by antitrust agencies in other jurisdictions.

Third, convergence on substantive and procedural principles will help U.S. and non-U.S. companies comply with competition laws in a more cost-effective manner, as well as provide them the predictability that they need when trying to run their businesses in multiple jurisdictions.”

Emphasis added.

NEW ANTITRUST COMPLAINTS

On September 11, 2014, elQ Energy Inc., filed an antitrust case against a number of Japanese, and US for price fixing of antalum capacitors, aluminum electrolytic capacitors and film capacitors. JAPAN PRICE FIXING ALUMINUM CAPACITERS

On August 29, 30204, National Trucking Financial Reclamation filed a class action antitrust case against US and Taiwan companied, including Jui Li Enterprise Company, Ltd., TYG Products, L.P., Gordon Auto Body Parts Co., Ltd., Auto Parts Industrial, Ltd., and Cornerstone Auto Parts, LLC., for price fixing of aftermarket automotive sheet metal parts. TAIWAN SHEET METAL ANTITRUST COMPLAINT

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

The rise in Chinese anti-monopoly case has created intense concern from the US government and US and foreign companies. In September 2014, the US China Business Council published the major report/survey from US Companies, US CHINA BUSINESS COUNCIL REPORT CHINA AML, about the impact of the Chinese anti-monopoly law on US business in China. The Executive Summary of the report states as follows:

“Executive Summary

  • China’s increased level of competition enforcement activity and the high-profile reporting of its competition investigations have prompted growing attention and concern from US companies. Eighty-six percent of companies responding to the US-China Business Council’s (USCBC’s) 2014 member company survey indicated they are at least somewhat concerned about China’s evolving competition regime—although more so about the potential impact than actual experience so far.
  • China’s competition regime framework is relatively new. The Antimonopoly Law (AML) came into force in 2008 after Chinese authorities spent more than a decade drafting the law and consulting with foreign competition authorities from the United States, the European Union, and other jurisdictions. The AML draws from elements of both the US and EU competition laws, though it is more closely tied to the EU model and contains some elements unique to China.
  • The rise in competition-related investigations has corresponded to the buildup in personnel at regulatory agencies following the AML’s implementation.
  • USCBC monitoring of publicly announced cases indicates that both foreign and domestic companies have been targets of AML-related investigations, but that foreign companies appear to have faced increasing scrutiny in recent months.
  • The perception that foreign companies are being disproportionately targeted is also fueled by China’s domestic media reporting, which has played up foreign-related investigations versus those of domestic companies.
  • Targeted or not, foreign companies have well-founded concerns about how investigations are conducted and decided. Company concerns include:

 o Fair treatment and nondiscrimination

o Lack of due process and regulatory transparency

o Lengthy time periods for merger reviews

o Role of non-competitive factors in competition enforcement

o Determination of remedies and fines

o Broad definition of monopoly agreements

Bigger questions remain unanswered about the objectives of China’s competition regime, such as: Will China use the AML to protect domestic industry rather than promote fair competition? Is the government using the AML to force lower prices, rather than let the “market play the decisive role” as enshrined in the new economic reform program? The answers are not fully determined yet, but in at least some cases so far there are reasons for concern.”

In early September 2014 the US Chamber of Commerce released the attached report, AM CHAM ACTUAL REPORT ON AML, which is highly critical of the Chinese government’s enforcement of its Anti-Monopoly Law. The report states:

Antitrust enforcement

This year, the area that has garnered the most attention from foreign companies is enforcement of China’s antitrust law, known as the Antimonopoly Law (AML). In recent months, the press and the public have paid considerable attention to this issue. While both foreign and domestic companies have been targets of investigations, foreign companies appear to have faced increasing scrutiny in recent months. Eighty-six percent of companies are at least somewhat concerned about these issues, with over half specifically citing enforcement as the issue, rather than the legal framework for the law (Fig. 34, 35).

Even though most American companies report that they have not been targeted with antitrust investigations, almost 30 percent of USCBC member companies are concerned they will be subjected to one. Among the most significant concerns for foreign companies are challenges with due process, lack of transparency, and fair treatment in investigations (Fig. 36, 37).

As US antitrust cases have been on the rise in the United States, they are sharply rising against Chinese and foreign companies, including US companies, in China. The recent surge in antitrust cases reaches US and foreign companies like Qualcomm, Interdigital, Microsoft, Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz.

On July 24, 2014, it was reported that the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”), one of China’s three National Antitrust Agencies, announced that it had determined that US chipmaker Qualcomm is a monopoly and was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position in wireless communication standards. The allegations could lead to record fines of more than $1 billion.

As the Chinese consumer market surges upward, Western companies are seeing their profits fall downward after this wave of antitrust cases. The China media has reported that the prices of many foreign items, including a Starbucks latte to a Jaguar sedan, are higher in China than in many other places in the world.

Chinese consumers, who now travel the World, are complaining. According to the media, although some of the prices differences are explainable by factors, such transportation, real-estate costs, higher Chinese import taxes and fragmented supply chains in which multiple distributors each add a markup, at least some multinationals allegedly have adopted sales practices in China that would not be tolerated by antitrust regulators in Europe or the US. Automobile companies do not always give their Chinese customers a choice in their purchase of spare parts, causing high prices.

What concerns the US government, however, is procedures, the heavy-handed way that investigations are being pursued, and the highly charged media coverage that makes for a very bad atmosphere for Western companies.

Foreign companies have learned two early lessons from the antitrust probes. First, the law provides little protection. The message that the National Development and Reform Commission, Chinese agency that sets pricing rules, delivers in private to multinationals at the outset of a price-fixing investigation is not to bring in their foreign lawyers. The second lesson, apparently, is resistance is futile.

In almost every antitrust case launched so far, foreign companies have settled without a fight. Voluntary price cuts of up to 20% are the norm, accompanied by board-level expressions of remorse and promises to do better. Chrysler described its abrupt decision to slash car-part prices as a “proactive response” to the price fixing probe as it got under way.

These price-fixing investigations have been accompanied by heated nationalistic rhetoric in the state media with anti-foreign overtones. Pushing down multinationals goes over well with large sections of the Chinese public that view the foreign companies as arrogant. The China Youth Daily recently stated that multinationals “pollute the environment, lie to consumers, act arrogantly when facing their wrongdoings, and ignore China’s law and protests from Chinese consumers.”

For many years that China’s Anti-Monopoly Law has been in place, enforcement has been lax, but the National Development and Reform Commission (“NDRC”) and the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (“SAIC”), the two agencies charged with enforcing the AML’s antitrust provisions, have rapidly increased enforcement over the last year, with probes into Qualcomm Inc., Microsoft, and now international automakers. The action has come at the same time as the government has voiced a broader intention to promote the creation of Chinese players in many key industries, contributing to the impression that the latest antitrust probes may have a protectionist bent.

While technically, agency decisions can be appealed to China’s administrative courts, the courts tend to defer to the agencies in all but the most blatant violations of the law. That means that as a practical matter companies don’t have the same ability to force the agencies to defend themselves in court the way firms do in the U.S. and Europe.

In response to these reports on September 21, 2014, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew sent a letter to Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang raising serious concerns about China’s enforcement of its anti-monopoly law (AML). Sources reported that this is a sign that mounting U.S. business complaints regarding the law have reached a high political level. In commenting on the letter, Secretary Lew stated:

“But let me say that this issue of the anti-monopoly law is one that we’ve raised at the [Strategic & Economic Dialogue (S&ED)], and we made very clear that if the anti-monopoly law is used to essentially work disproportionately against U.S. and other foreign firms and it [is] used as a barrier to doing business, or an extra cost to doing business, that that was something that was very much inconsistent with the close economic relationship we’re together working to build.”

“We’ve been very clear in many forms that the anti-monopoly law is something that we see as part of this set of issues, and I certainly hope that they understand how important that issue is to us.”

Subsequently Bill Baer’s speech quoted above appeared to reinforce the statement by Secretary Lew, especially his quote that antitrust enforcement decisions must not be used to “promote domestic or industrial policy goals, protect state-owned or domestic companies from foreign competitors, or create leverage in international trade negotiations.”

The problem with the statement is that it is easy for the US Government to say. When US antidumping laws based on Alice in Wonderland surrogate values that have no relationship to actual prices and costs in China are used to block billions of dollars in Chinese imports, the Chinese government, as any government would do, is looking for leverage to force the US government to negotiate on this issue.

Chinese government officials have told me that the US government and the Commerce Department simply refuse to discuss whether China will be given market economy status in US antidumping cases as provided in the US China WTO Accession Agreement.

The US throws rocks and the Chinese government will throw rocks back.

On September 2, 2014, Foreign Ministry Spokesman Qin Gang commented on the concerns regarding China’s Anti-Monopoly Law:

The US Chamber of Commerce said that China is targeting foreign companies in its anti-monopoly investigations with opaque laws and regulations, contributing to deteriorating investment environment for foreign companies. What is China’s comment on this?

I have learned that the US Chamber of Commerce published such a report. I want to stress that China is not the only country carrying out anti-monopoly. Other countries also do it. Monopoly is opposed so as to protect consumers’ interests and create a more transparent, equal and just playing field. While carrying out anti-monopoly investigations and implementing relevant measures, relevant departments of China are strictly following the law in a transparent and impartial way.

China will, as always, encourage foreign companies and enterprises to take part in the competition in China’s market and carry out various forms of cooperation. We are willing to create a sound investment environment for them. Meanwhile, they are also required to abide by Chinese laws and regulations.

On September 8, 2014, it was reported that the US Chamber of Commerce was arguing that China’s discriminatory uses of its Anti-Monopoly was a violation of its WTO commitments. But WTO experts, including US experts, responded that the WTO’s texts and existing jurisprudence create enough uncertainty that U.S. trade authorities will likely hold off on bringing a case. Antitrust is not under the WTO and is not directly addressed in any WTO agreements.

There have been efforts to put competition rules under the WTO, but there is currently no WTO agreement in place setting obligations on WTO members with regards to the objective of their antitrust statutes. This would force the USTR to try to cherry-pick from other WTO texts. The WTO, however, has been very reluctant to expand WTO law beyond a specific agreement.

In reality, the US Chamber of Commerce argument may be an attempt to elevate the issue in the Strategic & Economic Dialogue meetings between the US and China.

AUTOMOBILES — CHRYSLER AND MICROSOFT

On September 11, 2014, the NDRC, one of the three Chinese enforcement agencies of its Anti-Monopoly law announced penalties of a combined $46 million for foreign carmakers for price-fixing. The foreign carmakers include Volkswagen AG and the China sales unit of Fiat’s Chrysler. Chrysler’s China sales unit will be fined 32 million yuan/$5 million US for operating a price monopoly.

On September 28, 2014, in a meeting with China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) Microsoft Corp chief executive Satya Nadella promised to cooperate fully with Chinese authorities in their antitrust investigation into his company.

It was also reported that Director General Xu Kunlin of the NDRC, nicknamed Mr. Confession, was one the officials behind the increased tough enforcement of China’s Anti-Monopoly Law.

SEMICONDUCTORS AND MEDICAL DEVICES??

In early September, there were reports that MOFCOM had conducted antitrust unit visits to medical device and semiconductor firms in Shanghai.

ARTICLES BY CHINESE ANTITRUST LAWYER MICHAEL GU

In mid-September Michael Gu and Shuitian Yu of the Anjie Law Firm issued the attached article, GU NDRC Publishes Full Decisions in Zhejiang Car Insurance Case_AnJie_Michael Gu_20140911, “Better Late Than Never: NDRC Publishes Full Decisions on Zhejiang Car Insurance Cartel Case – Analysis of NDRC’s Antitrust Law Enforcement Approach”

TD MICROSOFT ARTICLE

In the attached August 2014 report on Chinese antitrust law by the Chinese T&D Law Firm, TD Antitrust Report, Chinese antitrust lawyer John Ren had this to say about the Microsoft case:

“On August 4, 2014, the SAIC warned Microsoft not to interfere with an ongoing anti-monopoly probe as they began inquiries into the company’s corporate Vice President Mary Snapp.

Investigators from the SAIC warned that the company must firmly abide by Chinese law, and shall not interfere with the investigation “in any way”.

SAIC confirmed that it launched a probe into Microsoft China Co., Ltd, and three of its branches in Shanghai, Guangzhou and Chengdu as Microsoft is suspected of monopoly practices.

SAIC also said Microsoft had not been fully transparent with its sales data on the software it distributes in China, including information on sales of its media player and web browser software. . . .

SAIC Investigating Accenture in Microsoft Probe

August 6, 2014

According to the report, SAIC’s probe into Microsoft expanded to Accenture on August 6 as Microsoft is under investigation.

The SAIC said in a statement that it is investigating Accenture’s office in Dalian City, Liaoning Province, for being the financial service outsourcer of Microsoft China Co., which is suspected of monopoly practices. The SAIC did not reveal results of the investigation and the probe is still underway

Microsoft’s Browsers and Players are Involved in SAIC’s Anti-Monopoly Investigation

August 27, 2014

With regard to the progress of the anti-monopoly investigation on Microsoft, Mr. Zhang Mao, the Minister of the SAIC, revealed at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office that Microsoft is suspected of inadequate disclosure of information in relation to Windows and Office and suspected problems regarding the launch and sale of Players and Browsers. Currently, the investigation on Microsoft is progressing, and the SAIC will publicize the interim results at every stage in a timely manner. Compared to its previous statements, SAIC talked about Microsoft’s potential problems on the launch and sales of Players and Browsers for the first time.

It is said that in June, 2013, some entities complained to SAIC that Microsoft’s incomplete disclosure of information on its Windows and Office Suite has caused problems with compatibility, tying, and file validation, raising suspicions that the company violated the Chinese AML. SAIC therefore investigated Microsoft, accordingly. In June of this year, SAIC initiated the investigation against Microsoft and already publicized the progress of its investigation three times. Minister Zhang also mentioned that Microsoft’s senior management has expressed that they will respect Chinese law and cooperate with the Chinese anti-monopoly authority in the investigation.”

SECURITIES

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

In a fascinating six part series on the origins of the Foreign Corrupt Practice Act, Tom Gorman, a partner in our Washington DC office and a former member of the SEC Enforcement Division, describes the origins of the FCPA and why this law came into being, including the reasons for prohibiting the bribery of foreign officials. The first part and the conclusion are published in this e-mail. The entire article is attached, TOM GORMAN ENTIRE ARTICLE ORIGINS OF FCPA.  As Tom Gorman states:

PART ONE THE ORIGINS OF THE FCPA: LESSONS FOR EFFECTIVE COMPLIANCE AND ENFORCEMENT

“They trusted us” — Judge Stanley Sporkin explaining why 450 corporations self- reported in the 1970s Volunteer Program without a promise of immunity.

This is the first part of an occasional series. The entire paper will be published by Securities Regulation Law Journal early next year.

Introduction

Can one man make a difference? Stanley Sporkin is proof that the answer is “yes.” In the early 1970s he sat fixated by the Watergate Congressional hearings. As the testimony droned on about the burglary and cover-up, the Director of the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (“SEC” or “Commission”) Enforcement Division sat mystified. Witnesses spoke of corporate political contributions and payments. “How does a public company book an illegal contribution” the Director wondered. “Public companies are stewards of the shareholder’s money – they have an obligation to tell them how it is used” he thought. He decided to find out.

The question spawned a series of “illicit” or foreign payments cases by the Commission resulting in the Volunteer Program. Under the Program, crafted by Director Sporkin and Corporation Finance Director Alan Levinson, about 450 U.S. corporations self-reported illicit payments which had been concealed with false accounting entries. There was no promise of immunity but the Director had a reputation for doing the right thing, being fair. Ultimately the cases and Program culminated with the passage of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (“FCPA”), signed into law by President Jimmy Carter in 1977.

Today a statute born of scandal and years of debate continues to be debated. Business groups and others express concern about the expansive application of the FCPA by enforcement officials and the spiraling costs to resolve investigations. Enforcement officials continue to call for self-reporting, cooperation and more effective compliance. While the debate continues, both sides might do well to revisit the roots of the FCPA. The success of the early investigations and the Volunteer Program is not attributable to overlapping enforcement actions, endless investigations, draconian fines and monitors. Rather, it was a focus on effective corporate governance – ensuring that executives acted as the stewards of shareholder funds. Director Sporkin called this “doing the right thing.” A return to that focus may well end the debate and yield more effective compliance and enforcement.

The beginning

The Watergate Congressional hearings transfixed the country. A scandal was born from a burglary at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. by the Committee to Reelect the President, known as CREP. The hearings were punctuated by a series of articles in The Washington Post based on conversations with a source known only as “deep throat.” Later the two reporters would become famous. President Richard Nixon would resign in disgrace. His senior aides would be sentenced to prison. See generally, Carl Bernstein & Bob Woodward, All the President’s Men (1974).

 A little-noticed segment of the hearings involved corporate contributions to politicians and political campaigns. Most observers probably missed the slivers of testimony about illegal corporate conduct since they were all but drowned in the seemingly endless testimony about the burglary, cover-up and speculation regarding the involvement of the White House.

One man did not. Then SEC Enforcement Director and later Federal Judge Stanley Sporkin was fixated. He listened carefully to the comments about corporate political contributions. The Director wondered how the firms could make such payments without telling their shareholders: “You know, I sometimes use the expression, ‘only in America could something like this happen.’ There I was sitting at my desk . . . and at night while these Watergate hearings were going on I would go home and they’d be replayed and I would hear these heads of these companies testify. This fellow Dorsey from Gulf Oil . . . and it was interesting that somebody would call Gulf Oil and they would say we need $50,000 for the campaign.

Now everybody, I knew that corporations couldn’t give money to political campaigns . . . what occurred to me was, how do you book a bribe . . . ” A Fire Side Chat with the Father of the FCPA and the FCPA Professor, Dorsey & Whitney LLP Spring Anti-corruption conference, March 23, 2014, available at www.SECHistorical.org. at 3 (“Transcript”).

What, if any information did the outside auditors have was another key question, according to the Director. Stanley Sporkin, “The Worldwide Banning of Schmiergeld: A Look at the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act on its Twentieth Birthday,” 18 Nw. J. Int. L. & Bus. 269, 271 (1998) (“Sporkin”). Not only was he fascinated by the testimony but “something bothered him [Director Sporkin]. It was the thought of all that money moving around in businessmen’s briefcases. That money belonged to corporations. Corporations belong to investors. The SEC protects investors. So Sporkin investigated.” Mike Feensilber, He Terrorizes Wall Street, The Atlanta Constitution, Section C at 19, col. 1 (March 21, 1976) . . .

An informal inquiry was initiated. As Judge Sporkin recounts: “To satisfy my curiosity [about how the payments were recorded in the books and records] I asked one of my staff members to commence an informal inquiry to determine how the transactions were booked.” Sporkin at 571. This “was not one of these elaborate investigations where you have 5 people. I called in a guy named Bob Ryan and I said, Bob, go to Gulf Oil.” Transcript at 3. A day later the answer came back: “[W]hat happened was that Gulf Oil had set up two corporations; one called the ANEX, one called the ANEY, capitalized . . . with the $5 million each; took the money back to New York, put it into [Gulf Chairman] Dorsey’s safe at the head of Gulf Oil and there he [Dorsey] had a slush fund, a corporate fund of $10 million.” Id. at 4. The payments were not reflected in the books and records of the company – the shareholders were not told how their money was being used.

It was apparent that corporate officials “knew they were doing something that was wrong because the reason they set [it] up this was . . . is because they didn’t want to expense the money so they capitalized it. And why did they want to expense the money . . . [Director Sporkin explained is] Because they were afraid, not of the SEC, but of the IRS. So it . . . right from the beginning . . . it showed me that there was something afoul here,” Director Sporkin later recounted. Id. at 4. Indeed, it was clear that senior corporate officials had painstakingly designed a methodology to secrete what they knew were wrongful transactions. Sporkin at 271. . . .

See the attached article for parts 2-5.

PART 6

Conclusion: The FCPA Today

The FCPA was unique in the world at passage. It was born of controversy and scandal. The Watergate hearings which transfixed Director Sporkin and the rest of the country spawned unprecedented and far ranging issues and questions. The hearings ushered in a new era of moral questioning.

In the turmoil of that environment Director Sporkin focused on corporate governance, viewing corporate boards and officers as stewards of investor funds. That principled view propelled the SEC investigations, enforcement actions and the Volunteer Program, all of which culminated after two years of Congressional hearings and debate in the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act.

The statute was intended to implement the principles that gave rise to its birth. It was tailored and focused:

Bribery prohibited: The anti-bribery provisions prohibit issuers and other covered persons from corruptly attempting, or actually obtaining or retaining, business through payments made to foreign officials;

Accurate books and records: The books and records provisions were designed to ensure that issuers – those using money obtained from the public – keep records in reasonable detail such that they reflect the substance of the transactions;

Auditors get the truth: Making misstatements to auditors examining the books and records of issuers was barred; and

Effective internal controls: Companies were required to have internal control provisions as an assurance that transactions with shareholder funds are properly authorized and recorded.

The impetus for the passage of the FCPA was not a novel crusade but the basic premise of the federal securities laws: Corporate managers are the stewards of money entrusted to them by the public; the shareholders are entitled to know how their money is being used.

The settlements in the early enforcement actions and the Volunteer Program were designed to implement these principles. The FCPA was written to strengthen these core values.

Today the statute continues to be surrounded by controversy. While the FCPA is no longer unique in the world, U.S. enforcement officials are without a doubt the world leaders in enforcement of the anti-corruption legislation. A seemingly endless string of criminal and civil FCPA cases continues to be brought by the Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the SEC. The sums paid to resolve those cases are ever spiraling. What was a record-setting settlement just a few years ago is, today, not large enough to even make the list of the ten largest amounts paid to settle an FCPA case. The reach of the once focused statute seems to continually expand such that virtually any contact or connection to the United States is deemed sufficient to justify applying the Act.

For business organizations the potential of an FCPA investigation, let alone liability, is daunting. Compliance systems are being crafted and installed which often incorporate each of the latest offerings in the FCPA market place at significant expense. If there is an investigation, the potential cost of the settlement is only one component of the seemingly unknowable but surely costly morass facing the organization. Typically business organizations must deal with the demands of two regulators in this country and perhaps those of other jurisdictions. The internal investigations that are usually conducted to resolve questions about what happened are often far reaching, disruptive, continue for years and may well cost more than the settlements with the regulators. Since most companies cannot bear the strain of litigating an FCPA case, enforcement officials become the final arbitrator on the meaning and application of the statutes – arguing legal issues may well mean a loss of cooperation credit with a corresponding increase in penalties.Enforcement officials today continue to call for self-reporting as the SEC did at the outset of the Volunteer Program.

Today, however, while many companies do self-report since they may have little choice, there can be an understandable reluctance in view of the potential consequences. Indeed, self-reporting might be viewed as effectively writing a series of blank checks to law firms, accountants, other specialists and ultimately the government with little control over the amounts or when the cash drain will conclude.This is not to say that companies that have violated the FCPA should not be held accountable. They should.

At the same time it is important to recall the purpose of the statutes: To halt foreign bribery and to ensure for public companies that corporate officials are accountable as faithful stewards of shareholder money.While business organizations may express concern about enforcement, accountability begins with the company, not the government. That means installing effective compliance systems using appropriate methods, not just adopting something off the shelf or purchasing the latest offering in the FCPA compliance market place. It means programs that are effective and grounded in basic principles, not just ones that furnish good talking points with enforcement officials if there is a difficulty.

The key to effective programs is to base them on the principles of stewardship which should be the bedrock of the company culture. Accountability for the funds of the shareholders begins with effective internal controls, a key focus when the statute was passed which remains critical today. As Judge Sporkin recently commented: “The problem I see in compliance is that they are not really putting in the kinds of effort and resources that’s necessary here. And I really think that you’ve got to get your compliance department, your internal audit department working together; in too many instances you find that they’re working separately.” Transcript at 18.

The focus is also critical. These systems are not just a defense to show regulators if something goes wrong. Rather, the systems should reflect the culture of the organization. As SEC Commissioner John Evans stated as the events which led to the passage of the FCPA were unfolding:

“I am somewhat concerned that the issue of illegal and questionable corporate payments is being considered by some in a context that is too narrow, legalistic, and short-sighted. In view of the objectives of the securities laws, such as investor protection and fair and honest markets, compliance with the spirit of the law may be more meaningful and prudent than quibbling about meeting the bare minimum legal requirements. I would submit that many companies and their profession accounting and legal advisers would serve their own and the public interest by being less concerned with just avoiding possible enforcement action by the SEC or litigation with private parties and more concerned with providing disclosure consistent with the present social climate. Such a course of conduct should promote the company’s public image, its shareholder relations, its customer relations, and its business prospects . . ..” Evans at 14-15.

Accountability is also critical on the part of enforcement officials. Every case does not demand a draconian result with a large fine, huge disgorgement payments, multiple actions or a monitor. Every case need not be investigated for years at spiraling costs which may bring diminishing returns. The statutes need not be interpreted as an ever expanding rubber band with near infinite elasticity. Rather, enforcement officials would do well to revisit the remedies obtained in the early enforcement cases and those employed with great success in the Volunteer Program. And, they would do well to recall the reason 450 major corporations self-reported without a promise of immunity or an offer of cooperation credit: As Judge Sporkin said, “They trusted us.”

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

In addition to the securities complaints filed against Chinese companies, the SEC and Chinese individuals are filing securities complaints against US companies, some of which are operated by Chinese individuals, to set up fraudulent EB5 immigration plans. EB5 allows foreign individuals to invest in certain properties in the United States that have been designated as underdeveloped and obtain a green card for a $500,000 investment in the project. The EB5 projects, however, are complicated and investors have to beware and make sure that the project they invest in is a legitimate EB5 project.

On September 3, 2014, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed the attached securities complaint, FAKE EB5 CENTER, against Justin Moongyu Lee and his partner Thomas Kent and the American Immigrant Investment Fund, Biofuel Venture, Nexland Investment Group and Nexsun Ethanol. In the complaint, the SEC states:

This case involves a scheme perpetrated by two immigration attorneys,

Defendant Justin Moongyu Lee (“J. Lee”) and his law partner Defendant Thomas Edward Kent (“Kent”), as well as J. Lee’s spouse, Defendant Rebecca Taewon Lee (“R. Lee”). J. Lee, Kent and R. Lee defrauded Chinese and Korean investors by claiming that their monies would be invested in a program that met the requirements of the United States Government EB-5 visa program, which is administered by the United States Citizenship and Immigration Service (“USCIS”), and provides immigrant investors conditional permanent residency status for a two-year period, followed by permanent residency if the required program conditions are met.

Specifically, the Defendants represented that the offered investment was EB-5 eligible, and money raised would be used to build and operate an ethanol production plant in Kansas.

On September 10, 2014, Liu Aifang and a number of Chinese individuals filed the attached class action securities complaint, ANOTHER SECURITIES COMPLAINT, against Velocity VIII Limited Partnership, Velocity 240.10b-5), Regional Center LLC, REO Group Properties, LLC, Yin Nan Wang, a.k.a Michael Wang, Yunyan Guan, a.k.a, Christine Guan, Ben Pang, REO Property 9roup’, LLC, Frank Zeng and other unnamed individuals for setting up a fraudulent EB5 project in the United States.

On September 12, 2014, Ranjit Singh filed the attached class action securities complaint against 21 Vianet Group., Inc., a company headquartered in China.  CAYMAN CORP

On September 17, 2014, Wayne Sun filed a class action securities case against 21 Vianet Group., Inc., a company headquartered in China, and several Chinese individuals. SECURITIES COMPLAINT

On September 22, 2014 the SEC filed a securities case against Zhunrize, Inc., a US company, and Jeff Pan for a fraudulent plan to raise money from investors China and Korea. PAN CHINESE INVESTORS

On September 26, 2014, David Helfenbein filed a class action securities case against Altair Nanotechnologies, a company with operations in China, Alexander Lee, Richard Lee, Guohua Sun, James Zhan, Stephen B. Huang, Paula Conroy and Karen Wagne. NANOTECHNOLOGIES

On September 29, 2014, the SEC filed a securities case against China Valves Technology, Siping Fang, Jianbo Wang, Renrui Tang for filing false and misleading documents with the SEC. SECCHINAVALVES

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR DEVELOPMENTS–TRADE, IP, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

White House Night Pennsylvania Ave Washington DC

“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER–APRIL 15, 2014

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, Chinese Antidumping, 337, litigation, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

TRADE

THE ANTICOMPETITIVE IMPACT OF US ANTIDUMPING LAW IN CHINA AND THE US

Last week, I gave a speech in Washington DC on a paper that eventually will become an article in the Journal of Antitrust Enforcement.  The point of the paper is that the continued decision of the Commerce Department to treat China as a nonmarket economy country to justify its refusal to use actual Chinese prices and costs in China to determine antidumping rates for Chinese companies has had a substantial anticompetitive impact on US companies both in China and the United States.

In recent Hardwood Plywood Antidumping case, Commerce used values in Bulgaria to calculate costs in a Chinese antidumping case.  In the 12th Mushrooms Review Investigation, Commerce switched surrogate countries from India to Columbia and used surrogate values that were a hundred times higher for rice straw and cow manure and rates went from 0s and 2.17% to 200 to over 300%.   See Certain Preserved Mushrooms from the People’s Republic of China, 77 Fed. Reg. 55,808 (Dep’t Commerce Sept. 11, 2012).   US import companies are the companies that must pay these increased antidumping duties.

Specifically, in the Mushrooms case, Commerce used Columbia import prices as surrogate values for rice straw and the value went from 8 cents a kilogram in the prior review to $1.35 a kilogram.  Commerce also used import statistics for cow manure and the surrogate value went from 2 cents a kilogram in the prior review to $1.33 a kilogram to value this raw material input.  By the way, how many countries actually import cow manure?

As a result, all Chinese preserved mushrooms have been shut out of the United States.  On November 14, 2013, more than a year after Commerce’s final determination in the Preserved Mushrooms review investigation, the Court of International Trade reversed the Commerce’s surrogate value determination in Blue Field (Sichuan) Food Industrial Co., Ltd. v. United States, Slip Op. 13-142 (Nov. 14, 2013), but the damage has already been done.  Many Chinese companies have simply given up and most Chinese preserved mushrooms are excluded from the US market.

Mushrooms may not sound that important, but it is simply an example of the unfair trade practice, which is called US antidumping cases against Chinese companies.  In fact, the Commerce Department has used bogus numbers from surrogate third countries based on industrial policy and protectionism to calculate Chinese company costs and antidumping rates for decades.  The effect of this practice has been to shut out of the US market billions of dollars in Chinese products by US antidumping and countervailing duty orders for as long as 30 years.  But now the anticompetitive chickens are coming home to roost.

In China the Chinese government and the Chambers of Commerce created export price floors to deter dumping.  These export price floors, in turn, have provoked US antitrust cases.  See discussion of the Vitamin C case below.  In Section 11 of the WTO Accession Agreement, however, China agreed to “eliminate all taxes and charges applied to exports . . . . “  The WTO has determined in a series of cases that China cannot implement export price floors to deter antidumping cases.

So what does Chinese do?  It employs reciprocity and brings its own antidumping and countervailing duty cases against US companies, and as explained below, now antitrust cases against US companies to deter trade cases.  China is bringing a large gun to a knife fight.  What goes around comes around.  So we now have a trade war with China that is spreading into other legal areas.  Although China may not sound important to the average American, with a consumer market of 1.6 billion people, it is a larger market than the US and the best-selling car was the Buick, now the Ford Fusion.

Moreover, the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders have not accomplished their intended purpose.  Bethlehem Steel had protection through antidumping and countervailing duty orders from Steel imports for 30 years.  Is Bethlehem Steel alive today?

The question, however, is whether on December 11, 2016 the US Commerce Department will follow Section 15(d) of US China WTO Accession Agreement and the demand the US made in a Treaty with China that the nonmarket methodology will expire “15 years after the date of accession.”  To date, the answer apparently is no—treaties between the US and China simply have no meaning.  Commerce will simply look at the statute.

But as indicated above and below, what goes around comes around and the Chinese government can play games with US companies too.  Maybe it is time for the US government to follow the treaty that it signed and call off the Trade War with China that is expanding into a number of different legal areas.

TRADE WORKS BETTER WITH FREE FLOW OF IMPORTS AND EXPORTS IN COMPETITIVE MARKETS

Recently in an article published in the Washington Post entitled “How to deal with Russia without reigniting a full-fledged Cold War psychology” SCHULTZ NUNN the-us-strategy-for-keep George P. Schultz, former Secretary of State under President Reagan, and Sam Nunn, former Senator and Chairman of the Armed Services Committee, commented on the problems regarding Russia’s invasion of Crimea.  But in the Article, they made a general statement about the importance of trade relations as a basis for peace between countries, which applies directly to the relationship between the United States and China.  They stated:

“The world works better when governments have a representative quality, when the corrupt brand of excessive bureaucracy is lessened, and when economies are open to imports and exports in competitive markets.  Recent history has shown the damage done to global security and the economic commons by cross-border threats and the uncertainty that emanates from them.”

One of the basic foundations for peace is the Rule of Law.  But the Commerce Department’s decision for 30 years to use clearly bogus surrogate values to calculate Chinese costs in antidumping cases has created a very cynical view of US law in China.  Since the US antidumping law is often the first US law Chinese encounter, the Chinese government and many Chinese companies and individuals believe that the US will simply twist its own law for protectionist purposes as a way to advance US industrial policy.  But now China can respond in the same way twisting its own law as applied to US companies to advance its own industrial policy.  As one Chinese antitrust lawyer stated to me recently, the Chinese government looks at Chinese antitrust/competition law as a “weapon” to help consumers or, as some may view it, a way to advance Chinese industrial policy, much as the US Commerce Department has done with the US antidumping law.

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

As mentioned in past newsletters, in the trade world, the most important developments may be the WTO negotiations in Bali and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and Trans-Atlantic (TA)/ the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP negotiations.  These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues becomes a focal point in Congress and many Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

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

As mentioned, in my February post, on January 29th, the day after President Obama pushed the TPA in the State of the Union, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid stated that the TPA bill would not be introduced on the Senate Floor.

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

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

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

Now the story continues . . . .

On March 4, 2014, in its 2014 trade policy agenda the White House set a new goal of completing a TPP agreement in 2014.  The White House announced that it expects to conclude TPP negotiations and make substantial progress in the TTIP negotiations with Europe this year.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman stated that moving forward with this Trade Agenda will increase domestic job growth by eliminating high duties and nontariff barriers against U.S. products abroad.    The administration said it would work to conclude negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) this year.

“In the coming year, USTR will continue to execute the president’s trade vision that relies on opening markets, leveling the playing field for American workers and producers, and fully enforcing our trade rights around the world,” Froman said.

On March 7, 2014 a Senior Obama Administration official stated that the TPP negotiations are “almost complete.” The statement was made in the context of Vice President Joe Biden’s trip to Chile, during which the vice president discussed the TPP and other trade ties with the South American nation.

On March 11, 2014 at a National League of Cities conference in Washington, D.C. USTR Froman urged Congress to grant the administration fast-track authority to expedite approval of the TPP.  Throughout his remarks, Froman suggested the TPP would be essential for the U.S. economy’s future and would promote an increase in cross-border business in Asia.  Froman stated that currently, there are an estimated 500 million middle-class consumers in Asia — a number that is expected to reach 2.7 billion by 2030.  Froman stated that if those projections hold up, the Asian market in 25 years will be about six times the size of the U.S. market.  He also stated:

“If we don’t open those markets, help raise the standards and define the rules of the game, other countries will and we will be left on the sidelines, excluded from the fastest growing markets in the world, dealt out of global supply chains, facing a race to the bottom that we cannot win and should not run.”

On March 13th, however, it was reported that the U.S. and Japan still have gaps in their positions on lowering agricultural tariffs as part of the TPP negotiations.  According to USTR, after two days of bilateral negotiations there was “limited progress.”  Coming out of two days of negotiations on March 12, the USTR’s office stated that US and Japanese officials have not made much progress and that “working-level” discussions would continue.

The USTR is to speak at the end of April to the House Ways and Means Committee, but his testimony was released on April 3, 2014.  FROMAN TESTIMONY  As part of this speech, USTR Froman will state:

“Over the past four years, U.S. exports have increased to a record high of $2.3 trillion in 2013. In fact, a third of our total economic growth is attributed to this increase in U.S. exports.  “Exports mean jobs. Each $1 billion in exports supports 5400-5900 U.S. jobs. 11.3 million Americans now owe their jobs to exports – an increase to 1.6 million jobs in the last 5 years – and those jobs pay 13-18 percent more on average than non-export related jobs.”

“In 2014, we will work to conclude negotiations on the TPP agreement. TPP is currently being negotiated among 12 countries in the fastest growing region in the world representing nearly 40 percent of global GDP and a third of global trade.”   . . .

“As we pursue this agenda, we will continue to consult with Congress and seek input from a wide range of advisors, stakeholders and the public. We have held over 1,200 meetings with Congress about TPP alone – and that doesn’t include the meetings we’ve had on T-TIP, TPA, AGOA or other trade initiatives. Our Congressional partners preview our proposals and give us critical feedback every step of the way. We also ensure that any Member of Congress can review the negotiating text and has the opportunity to receive detailed briefings by our negotiators. . . .

“Finally, let me say a word about Trade Promotion Authority (TPA). The last TPA legislation was passed over a decade ago. Much has changed since that time. There has been the May 10th, 2007 agreement on labor, environment, innovation, and access to medicines. There has been the emergence of the digital economy and the increasing role of state-owned enterprises in the global economy. These issues should be reflected in the statutory negotiating objectives of a new TPA bill.

“We have heard from many that TPA needs to be updated. We agree. The Administration welcomed the introduction of bipartisan TPA legislation in January and look forward to working with this Committee and Congress as a whole to secure trade promotion authority that has as broad bipartisan support as possible.

We also look forward to renewing Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) which expires at the end of this year as well.”

On April 8, 2014, at a speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, Republican Senator Orin Hatch, ranking Republican member of the Senate Finance Committee, criticized the Obama Administration’s efforts to advance the TPA approval process for the TPP and TTIP negotiations.  Senator Hatch stated that the Administration had made only an “anemic” effort to obtain support for the renewal of Trade Promotion Authority.

As Senator Hatch stated, “No complex, economically significant trade agreement has ever been negotiated by any administration and approved by Congress without Trade Promotion Authority . . . . Sadly, this administration’s enthusiasm for TPA seems tepid at best. Despite publicly calling for approval of Trade Promotion Authority in the State of the Union, President Obama’s efforts to achieve its successful consideration have been anemic.”

Hatch introduced the TPA bill along with former Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus, now the U.S. ambassador to China, and House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp, R-Mich.

Hatch stated, “We need the president’s active engagement and support. We need total political commitment from this administration to advancing TPA this year. Without it, we simply will not succeed.  And, as persuasive as I am, I am not nearly as effective as President Obama can be in convincing Democrats that renewing trade negotiating authority must be a priority for our nation. There is still time, and I am hoping that President Obama will rise to the challenge.”

See Senator Hatch’s speech at http://csis.org/event/making-trade-work-america

On April 9, 2014, the next day, the new Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Ron Wyden announced that he was introducing a new TPA bill, what Senator Wyden calls Smart Track.  In the attached speech, WYDEN SPEECH Senator Wyden spoke to the American Apparel Footwear Association Conference stating that his new bill would require the Administration to be more open in its trade negotiations and take environmental and labor issues along with currency manipulation into account in these trade negotiations.  Senator Wyden stated:

“Today I want to talk about how trade in the 21st century can create good middle-class jobs and expand what I call the winners’ circle in our country.

It starts with the fact that American trade policy has always been a story of adaptation and change.  . . .

Today’s challenges and opportunities, more than any other time in my lifetime, come down to creating more good-paying, middle-class jobs. It’s my view that every trade discussion, every single trade discussion, must now focus on how trade policy can be a springboard to high-skill, high-wage American jobs.  Jobs in innovative fields that didn’t exist before the digital era. Jobs in high-tech manufacturing that can’t be easily outsourced.  Jobs that give Americans a ladder into the middle class. Here’s the reality folks, or the one that I hear at every town meeting – I have another coming up in a week or so – millions of middle-class Americans simply don’t believe trade can help them get ahead, or they worry their voices aren’t being heard.  A 21st century trade policy has to meet the needs of those who are middle class today and those who aspire to be middle class tomorrow.  On my watch, I can tell you, those voices are not going to get short shrift in the Senate Finance Committee.

My basic philosophy with respect to trade is I want to see Americans grow and make things here, innovate and add value to them here, and ship them somewhere, whether in containers, on airplanes, or in electronic bits and bytes.

My view is there are opportunities for the U.S. to do that in trade agreements with nations across the Pacific and in Europe, but it is going to take fresh policies – adapted to the times – to make those trade agreements work for all Americans.

I want to be very clear: only trade agreements that include several ironclad protections based on today’s great challenges can pass through Congress.  I am not going to accept or advance anything less.

First, trade agreements must be enforceable, and not just in name only. The United States has to follow through on enforcement at home and around the world.  If it doesn’t, trade agreements will not deliver on their job-creating potential and the economic winners’ circle, instead of expanding, could actually shrink.

A World Trade Organization ruling that came out just last week showed a great example of enforcement done right. China’s restrictions on rare earth mineral exports have done real damage to American businesses and consumers and could cost our country jobs across a wide array of industries.

Manufacturers of rechargeable batteries for hybrid and electric vehicles, MRI machines, night vision goggles and many others took a hit. My friend Leo Gerard from the United Steelworkers will tell you the impact China’s restrictions have had on his members’ jobs.  So the U.S. stood up and challenged China in the WTO, and the WTO ruled in America’s favor – making clear that as a member of the global trading system, the Chinese have to play by the rules.

With American jobs on the line, all trade agreements ought to be enforced with that kind of vigor. Enforcement has to happen without hesitation over politics or other kinds of secondary considerations.

Right now, for example, Customs often appears to focus on security at the expense of its trade mission. Fake NIKE shoes and counterfeit computer chips with a fake Intel logo too often make their way past America’s border agents unnoticed.  Foreign companies have evaded the trade remedy laws that protect American workers, like those in the solar and steel industries. A 21st century trade policy can’t work if the cops at the border aren’t doing an adequate job on the beat.

Second, trade agreements must promote digital trade and help foster innovation in areas where America leads, like cloud computing. When President Kennedy made his pitch for a modern trade policy to Congress five decades ago, nobody could have imagined what the digital world would become, or how important the Internet would be to the global economy. . . .

Fortunately, our country today enjoys a major trade surplus in digital trade that fuels the growth of high-quality, high-skill jobs. Twenty-first century trade agreements have to preserve this American advantage. They must prevent unnecessary restrictions on data flows or requirements to localize data and servers. Make no mistake about it, these NSA policies have harmed the American brand in parts of this debate and it’s something that I’m going to focus on changing, not just from the Finance Committee, but from the Intelligence Committee as well. They must include assurances that Internet companies have no more legal liability in foreign markets than they do in the U.S. There is a reason that America is home to the leading technology and Internet companies: our legal framework promotes innovation and the digital economy. . . .

Similarly, provisions like the PIPA and SOPA bill that would do so much damage to the Internet or result in its censorship have no place in trade agreements. I want everyone to know that I’ll do everything in my power on the Finance Committee to keep them out of future agreements. I welcomed Ambassador Froman’s statement in February that he is committed to keeping them out of TPP. It’s as simple as this: the Internet, which is really the shipping lane of the 21st century has to be kept open and free.

Third, trade agreements must combat the new breed of predatory practices that distort trade and investment and cost American jobs. Chinese state-owned enterprises, for example, don’t have the risk or borrowing costs that their American competitors do.

China’s indigenous innovation policies too often undermine American innovators by requiring them to relocate intellectual property. And currency manipulation undercuts American autoworkers and a number of our manufacturers here at home. Again, these are practices that cost good American jobs. They have the same harmful effects on American exports as any other trade barrier, so modern agreements – including the TPP – have to give our country the tools to level the playing field.

Fourth, some nations simply don’t share America’s commitment to labor and the environment, so when the U.S. doesn’t lead the way with strong standards and enforcement, trade agreements fall short. Commitments on these issues have to be core parts of trade agreements, rather than something like a side deal that’s just coasting along for the ride. This is one area where the U.S. has made progress.  . .  .

Finally, agreements must be ambitious, opening foreign markets and helping U.S. workers, farmers, manufacturers and service providers increase exports.  . . .

Trade agreements also need to be part of a broader framework, including Trade Adjustment Assistance, that moves exports more efficiently to foreign markets and gives more Americans a chance to climb the economic ladder. There are people who argue that the benefits of trade deals have only gone to some. I argue that if we work to get better, more modern agreements that reflect the lessons of history, we can get trade deals that expand the winners’ circle and help revitalize the middle class. . . .

When it comes to trade talks, in my town hall meetings, people want to know what’s being negotiated. In my view the public has a right to know what the policy choices are.  For its part, Congress has a constitutional responsibility to tell the President and the U.S. Trade Representative what they need to accomplish in trade deals, which it has traditionally done by passing trade promotion authority, or “fast-track.” I believe what’s needed to accomplish these things is different from a fast-track, or a “no-track,” and this afternoon I’d like to call it a “smarttrack.”

A smart-track will hold trade negotiators more accountable to the Congress, more accountable to the American people, and help ensure that trade agreements respond to their concerns of our people and their priorities, and not just to special interest groups. It will include procedures to get high-standard agreements through Congress, and procedures that enable Congress to right the ship if trade negotiators get off course. But to get better trade agreements, there must be more transparency in negotiations. The Congress cannot fulfill its constitutional duty on trade if the public doesn’t know what’s at stake or how to weigh in.

The public needs to know that somebody at USTR is committed to shedding more light on trade negotiations and ensuring that the American people have a strong voice in trade policy –a voice that is actually heard.

Going forward in the days and weeks ahead, I am going to work with my colleagues and stakeholders on a proposal that accomplishes these goals and attracts more bipartisan support.  As far as I’m concerned, substance is going to drive the timeline.

Some would like to lay blame for lack of support for the TPA proposal recently introduced in Congress at the doorstep of the White House. The president and Ambassador Froman are, frankly, having a difficult time selling a product that members are not thrilled about.  Policy matters, and arbitrary timelines won’t work. Instead of casting blame, our time would be better spent rolling up our sleeves and getting to work on policies that expand the winners’ circle for our people. Expanding the winner’s circle is going to mean that Americans see a trade agreement that they actually want to pass. That will build more bipartisan support for the president’s trade priorities. . . .”

An April 9th article in Roll Call described the difficult problem the Administration faces with Unions in the Trade area because of the upcoming mid-term elections.  See http://www.rollcall.com/news/on_trade_obama_faces_a_tough_political_dance-232073-1.html?pg=2

FORMER CONGRESSMAN BONKER MARCH 17TH ARTICLE ON TPP AND CHINA IN CHINA DAILY

But on March 17, 2014, former Congressman Don Bonker of APCO published an article in the China Daily about the obstacles the Obama Administration is facing with regards to its trade agenda.  BONKER ARTICLE  As Congressman Bonker states:

“US President Barack Obama has such good intentions, but his lofty goals often become bridges to nowhere. The latest is international trade. This time the problem is not the Republicans, but his own party.

His administration has been actively negotiating two huge trade agreements, one with Pacific Rim countries and one with the European Union, yet Congress must first pass the Trade Promotion Authority bill to allow fast-track consideration of the two trade agreements.

However, the Democrats’ top leader in the US Senate, Harry Reid, has already set up a roadblock by cautioning that “everyone would be well advised just to not push this right now”. That is the sentiment of most Congressional Democrats who see this as a risky vote in an election year.

Maybe it is time for the Obama administration to take a break from pursuing contentious regional trade deals and give a higher priority to the US-China economic relationship. Why launch trade negotiations with 11 Asian countries and leave out China?

The Obama administration earlier portrayed the Trans-Pacific Partnership as a geopolitical strategy that would give the US a stronger presence in Asia, plus allow a protective shield for Asian countries feeling threatened by China’s growth and influence in the region.  However, because the US already has trade pacts with six of the TPP countries, why cast a larger net that unnecessarily adds burden, if not controversy, to the negotiating process?

As the world’s two largest economies, the stakes are greater when it comes to China-US relations, as are the opportunities and challenges.  Chinese investments in the US doubled last year to a record $14 billion and early this year had a jump start with Lenovo Group’s two huge purchases of Google Inc’s Motorola handset division for $2.9 billion and its purchase of IBM Corp’s low-end server unit for $2.3 billion.

At the same time, two large Chinese entities, Richard Li’s Hybrid Technology LLC and China’s largest auto parts company, Wanxiang Group Corp, were fiercely competing to take over the bankrupt Fisker Automotive Inc with plans to revive the electric sports car manufacturer.

True, Chinese investments in the US are increasing rapidly, but their numbers would have been larger were it not for the hostile environment many of China’s proposed acquisitions and mergers encounter.

The Wall Street Journal reported that the Lenovo acquisitions (both IBM and Google’s Motorola) will “likely draw scrutiny from US regulators and concern about security issues involving acquisitions by Chinese companies”. That certainly was the case with Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. and ZTE Corp, two large Chinese telecom network providers.

What is being ignored are the economic benefits such investments bring to the United States, including job creation, which is a big issue this election year.  According to the Rhodium Group, Chinese investments have created more than 70,000 jobs in the US and that number could reach 200,000 by 2020 (not to mention preserving the jobs of failed and bankrupt US companies), which is why US President Obama now sees foreign investment as important to growing the country’s economy.

Last October, at a Department of Commerce Investment Summit, President Obama announced the creation of Select USA, publically stating: “I want your companies to invest more here in the United States of America.” It was something of a clarion call to the world that all investments are now welcomed in the US.

Last year President Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to revive negotiations for a China-US Bilateral Investment Treaty that is intended to break down the barriers to encourage more foreign investments between the two countries.

Yet is the US prepared to insulate the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States process from being used for political and economic interests to block investments, and is China, for its part, willing to allow foreign investments in its protected industries, particularly State owned enterprises and in the financial, transportation and telecom sectors?

The flip side is the ever-increasing mercantile trade across the Pacific. The whole idea of the TTP is to lower tariffs, remove restrictions and improve market access among the participating nations. But it will likely encounter the same fate as the 20 free trade agreements previously negotiated by the US Trade Representative that ultimately were greeted with skepticism on Capitol Hill.

Nowhere is this more evident than US trade policies that are being unfairly aimed at China. America’s anti-dumping/countervailing duty laws are highly discriminatory in that they still treat China as a non-market economy, which guarantees the imposition of punitive tariffs that are proving harmful to businesses in both countries.

It certainly raises questions about the US’ protectionism, or at least the politicalizing of its trade policies, casting doubts on Congress acting responsibly and a President’s ability to deliver on important trade deals.  Indeed former US trade representative Robert Zoellick once declared that “trade agreements were more about politics than economics”. Trying to address these issues will be a challenge. On the US side, it is a combination of old fashion protectionism, China bashing, distorted regulatory policies and domestic companies seeking protection from Chinese competition.”

The author, a former US Congressman, works with APCO Worldwide, an independent communications consultancy.  . . . See the article at http://usa.chinadaily.com.cn/epaper/2014-03/17/content_17352705.htm

CAFC DENIES CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE TO GPX LAW

On March 18, 2014, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) in Guangdong Wireking Housewares & Hardware Co., Ltd. et al. v. United States, CAFC GXP NO CONSTITUTIONAL VIOLATION addressed the Congressional 2012 statute overruling the GPX decision and retroactively applying both antidumping and countervailing duties with respect to imports from non-market economy (“NME”) countries.   In that decision, the CAFC affirmed the Court of International Trade that the Commerce Department does not have to adjust for double counting and that the retroactive imposition of both countervailing and antidumping duties does not violate the Ex Post Facto Clause of Article I, Section 9 of the U.S. Constitution.

CHINESE EXPORT TAXES ON RAW MATERIALS—WTO PROBLEMS

On March 26, 2014, the USTR announced that the WTO had sided with the United States, European Union and Japan in finding that China’s restrictions on the export of rare earth materials, tungsten and molybdenum violated its WTO accession commitments and the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT).  In the rare earth case, the USTR challenged three types of Chinese export restrictions– export duties, export quotas, and requirements for enterprises permitted to export the materials.

Although WTO rules do not require members to eliminate export duties, China committed in Paragraph 11.3 of China WTO Agreement to eliminate all export restraints, including duties, except for those on 84 specific tariff lines.  Paragraph 11.3 of the US China WTO Agreement, which became the China WTO Agreement, specifically provides,” China shall eliminate all taxes and charges applied to exports unless specifically provided for in Annex 6 of this Protocol or applied in conformity with the provisions of Article VIII of the GATT 1994.”  As the materials at issue in the rare earths case were not included in that list, the panel found that the export duties violated Paragraph 11.3.

Paragraph 11.3 is also the provision at the core of the Vitamin C antitrust case that the Chinese government cites in its Appellate Brief, which will be discussed more below.  In fact, tungsten ore has been the target of a US antidumping action, and a US antidumping order was issued against China from Nov 21, 1991-Nov 3, 1999, shutting all tungsten ore out of the US for about 8 years.

All parties have 60 days or until May 25th to the WTO appeal the ruling.  On April 9th, the USTR announced that for strategic purposes, it has appealed the decision so that it can get a WTO ruling that can be enforced against China.

On March 26, 2014, USTR WTO VICTORY RARE EARTH METALS AND 2011 VITORY the USTR specifically stated in its announcement of the WTO victory on Rare Earths, Tungsten and Molybdenum:

“United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that a World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement panel has agreed with the United States in a major dispute, finding in favor of U.S. claims that China’s imposition of export restraints on rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum breach WTO rules. Rare earths, tungsten, and molybdenum are key inputs in a multitude of U.S-made products for critical American manufacturing sectors, including hybrid car batteries, wind turbines, energy-efficient lighting, steel, advanced electronics, automobiles, petroleum and chemicals.

“Time and again, the Obama Administration has made clear that we are willing to go to the mat for American workers and businesses to make sure that the playing field is fair and level,” said Ambassador Froman. “The United States is committed to ensuring that our trading partners are playing by the rules. We will continue to defend American manufacturers and workers, especially when it comes to leveling the playing field and ensuring that American manufacturers can get the materials they need at a fair market price.”

“China’s decision to promote its own industry and discriminate against U.S. companies has caused U.S. manufacturers to pay as much as three times more than what their Chinese competitors pay for the exact same rare earths. WTO rules prohibit this kind of discriminatory export restraint and this win today, along with our win 2 years ago in an earlier case, demonstrates that clearly.”  . . .

The Chinese export restraints challenged in this dispute include export duties and export quotas, as well as related export quota administration requirements. These types of export restraints can skew the playing field against the United States and other countries in the production and export of downstream products. They can artificially increase world prices for these raw material inputs while artificially lowering prices for Chinese producers. This enables China’s domestic downstream producers to produce lower-priced products from the raw materials and thereby creates significant advantages for China’s producers when competing against U.S. and other producers both in China’s market and other countries’ markets. The export restraints can also create substantial pressure on foreign downstream producers to move their operations, jobs and technologies to China.  . . .

This dispute builds on and expands an earlier victory that the United States achieved in 2011 challenging China’s use of export restraints on a different set of raw material inputs used in the steel, aluminum, and chemicals industries (bauxite, coke, fluorspar, magnesium, manganese, silicon carbide, silicon metal, yellow phosphorous and zinc). “  Emphasis added.

As stated many times on this blog, there are outstanding US antidumping orders against magnesium, foundry coke, manganese, and silicon metal, which have shut probably $1 billion of imports of these Chinese metal products out of the United States for decades.  Exolon Esk, a one company US industry, tried to bring an antidumping case against Silicon Carbide, but failed.  The US industry, however, did prevail in the Tungsten Ore case, leaving an antidumping order in place and shutting all Chinese tungsten ore out of the US market for almost 8 years.

Thus the USTR states:

Chinese export restraints . . . can skew the playing field against the United States and other countries in the production and export of downstream products. They can artificially increase world prices for these raw material inputs while artificially lowering prices for Chinese producers. This enables China’s domestic downstream producers to produce lower-priced products from the raw materials and thereby creates significant advantages for China’s producers when competing against U.S. and other producers both in China’s market and other countries’ markets. The export restraints can also create substantial pressure on foreign downstream producers to move their operations, jobs and technologies to China.  . . .

But US antidumping orders against metal and chemical products from China based on bogus numbers that have no relationship to reality can have the exact same effect as export restraints, in many cases created by the Chinese government to deter US antidumping cases.

In effect, from the US government’s point of view it can have its cake and eat it too.  Smash Chinese companies and US import companies with antidumping cases based on bogus numbers, and if the Chinese government tries to set an export price floor to deter dumping cases, slam China at the WTO.

In 2011, it was reported that U.S. lawmakers applauded the first WTO determination and called for speedy implementation of the decision.

“These WTO findings are crystal clear — China is manipulating the raw materials market at the expense of American businesses,” said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-MT) in a July 5, 2011 statement. “As a WTO member, China has a responsibility to play by the rules and respect the rights of its international partners.”

But will the same US lawmakers now do right by US importers, US downstream producers and China and follow the treaty the US signed and the demand it made and make China a market economy country in US antidumping cases on December 11, 2016?  Or will the US Congress continue to seriously damage US companies, skewing “the playing field against the United States … in the production and export of downstream products.. . .” creating “substantial pressure” on US “downstream producers to move their operations, jobs and technologies to China . .  . .”

USTR SEEKS COMMENTS ON CHINESE GOVERNMENT’S CHALLENGE TO US ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST CHINA

On April 8, 2014 the USTR published the attached notice in the Federal Register seeking comments by May 2, 2014 on a WTO complaint filed by China against various US antidumping cases.  USTR NOTICE WTO DISPUTE SETTLEMENT NME SINGLE COUNTRY RATE  Some of the specific issues raised by the Chinese government are targeted dumping and the use of zeroing in various initial and review antidumping investigations, the single rate presumption from non-market economies, the application of NME-wide methodology and the recourse to adverse facts available as the China wide rate.

APRIL ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On April 1, 2014, Commerce published in the Federal Register the attached notice APRIL NOTICE REVIEW REQUEST SINKS regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of April.  The specific antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China are: 1-Hydroxyethylidene-1, 1-Diphosphonic Acid, (HEDP), Activated Carbon, Drawn Stainless Steel Sinks, Frontseating Service Valves, Magnesium Metal, Non-Malleable Cast Iron Pipe Fittings, and Steel Threaded Rod.

For those US import companies that imported steel sinks, activated carbon and the other products listed above from China during the period April 1, 2013-March 31, 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline.  Requests have to be filed by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

EXPORT CONTROLS

On April 4, 2014, the US government indicted a Chinese citizen and two Iranian companies for violation of US export laws for illegally exporting devices used in the production of weapon-grade uranium to Iran.

In the indictment, CHENG INDICTMENT Sihai Cheng and several Iranian co-defendants were charged with violating U.S. export laws by conspiring to export U.S.-manufactured pressure transducers to Iran.

Cheng was arrested by British authorities on Feb. 7 while traveling in the U.K. and is being held there pending extradition to the U.S.  According to the indictment, to evade US export controls, Cheng’s China agent set up front companies in China to pose as the end users in transactions with Cheng’s Shanghai office for the purpose of fraudulently obtaining export licenses from the U.S.  If convicted, Cheng faces up to 20 years in prison and fines of up to $1 million for each export violation.

THE HYPOCRISY OF US PRISON LABOR ALLEGATION

For years, the US government and Congressmen have complained about Chinese companies using prison labor to produce products, which are exported to the United States.  At a recent Housewares Show in Chicago, however, the Program Manager of the Business Development Group of the US Justice Department’s Federal Bureau of Prisons was going booth to booth saying that the prison factories run by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Prisons in the United States could match any Chinese price with US prison labor.  What goes around does indeed come around.

CURTAIN WALLS ARE DEFINITELY IN THE ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CASE

In the attached second scope determination on curtain wall units, Commerce determined that curtain wall units are definitely covered by the Aluminum Extrusions Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Case.  Commerce Complete and Finished Curtain Wall Ruling

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

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

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

We will be targeting two major issues—Working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement and working against retroactive liability for US importers. The United States is the only country that has retroactive liability for its importers in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  The key point of our arguments is that these changes in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are to help US companies, especially US importers and downstream industries. We will also be advocating for a public interest test in antidumping and countervailing duty cases and standing for US end user companies.

We are now contacting many US importers and also Chinese companies to ask them to contact their US import companies to see if they are interested in participating in the Alliance.

As indicated above, at the present time, Commerce takes the position that it will not make China a market economy country in 2016 as required by the WTO Accession Agreement.  Changes to the US antidumping and countervailing duty law against China can only happen because of a push by US importers and end user companies.  In US politics, only squeaky wheels get the grease.

In forthcoming newsletters we will provide additional information about the Alliance and specific meeting days in different areas of the United States.

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS PROGRAM WORKS

As many of you may know, I am on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, the only trade program that actually works.  We provide Federal Government assistance to US companies that have been injured by imports under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firm (“TAAF”) program.  Total US government assistance to companies every year is $16 million.  The US government provides workers $1 billion to retrain them if they have been injured by imports.  Maybe this out of balance situation is the reason for some of the trade problems in the US.

The 2013 Report on the TAAF is attached FY13_TAAF_Annual_Report_to_Congress and can be found at http://www.eda.gov/pdf/FY13_TAAF_Annual_Report_to_Congress.pdf

Some of the key findings, however, are as follows:

“In Fiscal Year (FY) 2013, firms assisted by the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program performed more successfully than the manufacturing industry as a whole, demonstrating a significant return on federal investment.  . . .

Overall, the program is effective in helping firms become more competitive and overcome negative trade impacts. Examples of TAAF program benefits to manufacturing firms can be found in the supplement and the end of this report.

In FY 2013, firms participating in the U.S. Department of Commerce Economic Development Administration’s (EDA) Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program reported that, on average, their sales increased by 85 percent, employment increased by 43 percent, and productivity increased by 29 percent from the time of TAAF certification to the completion of the TAAF program.  . . .

All TAAF-assisted firms that completed the program in FY 2011 were in operation at the end of FY 2013, indicating strong survival rates for TAAF-assisted firms in the face of import pressures.”

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE

In response to the US and other antidumping and countervailing duty cases, China’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) is initiating their own antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the United States.

OPTICAL FIBER

On March 19, 2014, MOFCOM initiated an antidumping case against Optical Fiber Preform products imported from the US and Japan.  The Chinese petitioners are Yangtze Optical Fiber and Cable Company Ltd., Jiangsu Hengtong Optic-electric Co., Ltd, and Futong Group Co., Ltd.

The US respondent companies are Corning Incorporated and OFS Fitel, LLC.  The Japanese respondent companies are: Shin-Etsu Chemical Co., Ltd., Sumitomo Electric Industries, Ltd., Fujikura Ltd., and Furukawa.

The US alleged antidumping rate is 25.42% and US imports into China are valued at $142,065,372.  A translated initiation notice is attached.  Information about Optical Fiber Preform Antidumping Case

CELLULOSE PULP 

On April 4, 2014, China issued final antidumping duties on cellulose pulp used in paper, textiles and other goods from the US, Canada and Brazil.  The Canadian antidumping rates ranged from 13% for Fortress Specialty Cellulose Ltd. to 23.7% for all other Canadian companies.

The highest dumping rates were for the US companies with rates from 16.9% for Washington state’s Cosmo Specialty Fibers Inc. to 17.2% of Florida’s Rayonier Performance Fibers LLC.  Washington-based Weyerhaeuser Co. received 17% and Georgia-Pacific LLC’s GP Cellulose received 33.5%.  XINHUA PULP

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA

With regards to the Chinese ban on shellfish from the West Coast, the Chinese government had detected inorganic arsenic in a November shipment of geoducks from Washington’s Poverty Bay. That shipment and another from Ketchikan, Alaska, that was tainted with algae toxin, led China on Dec. 3 to ban all imports of bivalve shellfish harvested in Washington, Alaska, Oregon and Northern California.

The ban has seriously hurt the Pacific Northwest shellfish industry, blocking imports to the major market for West Coast shellfish for several months now.

A March 21st trip to China by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration officials may have started the movement to a solution as they met with counterparts in Beijing, and talked about toxin testing methods.  In a conference call with staff from Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Mark Begich’s Offices, the NOAA administrator reportedly stated that the U.S. officials came away from the March 21 meeting optimistic about resolving the dispute, and eventually lifting the ban.

According to Senator Begich’s office, Chinese officials told the NOAA representatives that they were satisfied with Alaska’s PSP testing methods. But, more work is needed to satisfy Chinese concerns about arsenic, which came from Washington State.

With the US government so tough on imports of agricultural and seafood products from China, US exporters of agricultural and seafood products should expect the Chinese government to be just as tough on US exports to China.

What goes around does indeed come around.

US LITIGATION LIMITS AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES AND INDIVIDUALS

On March 5, 2014, in the attached Guan v. Bi case, Judge William Orrick Ill of the California Federal District Court clarified the limited reach of federal courts over foreign litigants in two important respects.  GUAN V BI CASE

Mr. Guan and his wife sued a group of Chinese individuals and the Chinese government’s Dalian Customs Anti-Smuggling Bureau for an alleged conspiracy to extort millions of dollars from the couple.  The conspiracy included an alleged kidnaping of the couple in China.

Because plaintiffs refused the extortion demand, they were jailed for many months in China.  After release and return to the US, the Chinese couple sued in California state court.  The only defendant in the US sought to remove the case to Federal Court.  But the US defendant lived in the same state as the couple and there was no diversity.

This case, however, was not removable under the ordinary grounds for removal – federal question and diversity jurisdiction. The contested issue, therefore, was whether the international character of the dispute created any additional paths for removal to Federal District Court from State Court.  The Court held that when a foreign sovereign is sued in state court along with non-sovereign codefendants, only the foreign sovereign itself may remove the case to federal court under the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA).

Second, the presence of non-U.S. litigants on both sides of a case cannot create diversity jurisdiction where complete diversity doesn’t otherwise exist between U.S. litigants on each side.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

ITC SAYS DIGTAL FILE TRANSFERS ARE IMPORTS UNDER SECTION 337

On April 3, 2014, the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) in Certain Digital Models, Digital Data, and Treatment Plans for Use in Making Incremental Dental Positioning Adjustment Appliances, the Appliances Made Therefrom and Methods of Making the Same affirmed that it has jurisdiction under 337 to prevent the international transmission of digital files that infringe patents.  The ITC agreed with the Administrative Law Judge that electronic files are “articles” under 337 and found that their transmission constitute “importation” under the statute.

The agency issued cease-and-desist orders against defendant.  The ITC specifically stated in the attached Federal Register notice, FED REG DIGITAL FILES CASE:

”Specifically, the Commission affirms the ALJ’s conclusion that the accused products are “articles” within the meaning of Section 337(a)(1)(B) and that the mode of bringing the accused products into the United States constitutes importation of the accused products into the United States pursuant to Section 337(a)(1)(B). The Commission has determined to find a violation with respect to (i) claims 1 and 4-8 of the `863 patent; (ii) claims 1, 3, 7, and 9 of the `666 patent; (iii) Claims 1, 3, and 5 of the `487 patent; (iv) claims 21, 30, 31 and 32 of the `325 patent; and (v) claim 1 of the `880 patent. The Commission has issued cease and desist orders directed to CCUS and CCPK, with an exemption for activities related to treatment of existing patients in the United States.”

A full copy of the opinion will be posted on my blog, when it is available.

STATE OF OKLAHOMA SUES CHINESE COMPANIES FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

On March 13, 2014, the State of Oklahoma through its attorney general sued Newayvalve Co., Neway Industrial Material (Suzhou) Co., Ltd., Neway Oil Equipment Co., Ltd., Neway Industrial Material (Dafeng) Co., Ltd., Neway Valve International Inc. and Neway Valve (Suzhou) Co., Ltd. for copyright infringement in China for use of unlicensed Microsoft software in China.  In the attached complaint, AG Neway Complaint_3132014 the Oklahoma Attorney General states:

“Plaintiff State of Oklahoma (“Plaintiff’), by E. Scott Pruitt, the duly elected Attorney General of the State of Oklahoma, commences this action on behalf of the State of Oklahoma under the Oklahoma Deceptive Trade Practices Act (“ODTPA”), 78 O.S. § 51 et. seq., the Oklahoma Antitrust Reform Act (“OARA”), 79 O.S. § 201 et seq., and such other causes of action that exist at common law against Defendants Neway Valve Co., Neway Industrial Material (Suzhou) Co., Ltd., Neway Industrial Material (Dafeng) Co., Ltd., and Neway Valve International, Inc. (collectively, “Neway” or “Defendants”).  Plaintiff alleges on information and belief as follows: . . .

1. Plaintiff brings this action to remedy violations of Oklahoma statutory and common law in connection with Defendants’ unfair, deceptive and anti-competitive business practices.

2. Defendants produce a variety of valves and other equipment for sale to the petroleum industry and, in doing so, compete directly with several Oklahoma-based companies for the business of oil and natural gas producers in Oklahoma.

3. However, instead of engaging in legitimate competition, Defendants have illegally utilized unlicensed software in the production and distribution of their valves. As set forth in detail herein; in an industry characterized by thin margins, Defendants have illegitimately and unlawfully reduced their production costs by illegally obtaining copyrighted software that is crucial to the production and sale of their products. Defendants’ unlawful conduct has created an uneven playing field that favors Defendants’ products over comparable products sold by Oklahoma manufacturers.

4. Generally, federal laws and international treaties do not address the pernicious downstream effects of such acts in the Oklahoma valve manufacturing sector. The Defendants’ use of stolen software to gain a competitive advantage over domestic valve manufacturing companies,’ including those in Oklahoma, can be remedied, however, by proscribing such tactics as unfair, deceptive and anti-competitive methods of commerce under Oklahoma law.

5. Plaintiff asks this Court to enjoin Defendants unlawful business practices, impose civil fines and penalties, and award restitution, monetary damages, investigative costs and fees, and attorney fees, as well as such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.”

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

On February 27, 2014, Smartphone Technologies filed new patent cases against ZTE and Huawei.  SMARTPHONE HUAWEI SMARTPHONE ZTE

On April 7, 2014, Pragmatus Mobile sued ZTE for patent infringement.  PRAGMATUS ZTE

On April 8, 2014, Billabong International Ltd, GSM Operations PTY Ltd. and Burleigh Point Ltd d/b/a Billabong USA sued Digital Shui dba Multisport Asia for cybersquatting (unlawfully occupying a domain name in which it possesses no rights) on the <billabong.com> domain name and then demanding exorbitant sums of money as ransom for the return of the control of the Domain Names to Plaintiffs. Defendant’s conduct allegedly violates the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(d), (“ACPA”) and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(4), constitutes tortious interference with contract under Virginia common law, and also constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty, including the duty of loyalty and good faith and fair dealing.  BILL4

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

On April 3, 2014, the attached products liability complaint was filed for wrongful death by Maxine Surber in the Federal District Court in the Western District of Washington States against the Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. for the death of Jeff Surber who died while maintaining a ship to shore crane designed and manufactured by Shanghai Industries.  PRODUCTS LIABILITY SHANGHAI COMPANY

ANTITRUST

EXTRADITION OF FOREIGN NATIONAL TO FACE CRIMINAL ANTITRUST CHARGES

On April 4, 2013, the Justice Department announced that it was successful for the first time in extraditing a foreign national to face charges related to a cartel, worldwide antitrust bid-rigging conspiracy related to marine hose sold in the United States.  In the attached April 4th announcement, EXTRADITION OF FOREIGN NATIONAL the Justice Department stated:

“Romano Pisciotti, an Italian national, was extradited from Germany on a charge of participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by rigging bids, fixing prices and allocating market shares for sales of marine hose sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today. This marks the first successfully litigated extradition on an antitrust charge.

Pisciotti, a former executive with Parker ITR Srl, a marine hose manufacturer headquartered in Veniano, Italy, was arrested in Germany on June 17, 2013.  He arrived in the Southern District of Florida, in Miami, yesterday and is scheduled to make his initial appearance today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Ft. Lauderdale, at 11:00 a.m. EDT.

“This first of its kind extradition on an antitrust charge allows the department to bring an alleged price fixer to the United States to face charges of participating in a worldwide conspiracy,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “This marks a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to work with our international antitrust colleagues to ensure that those who seek to subvert U.S. law are brought to justice.”

Marine hose is a flexible rubber hose used to transfer oil between tankers and storage facilities. During the conspiracy, the cartel affected prices for hundreds of millions of dollars in sales of marine hose and related products sold worldwide. . . .

Pisciotti is charged with violating the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals. . . .

As a result of the department’s ongoing marine hose investigation, five companies, including Parker ITR; Bridgestone Corp. of Japan; Manuli SPa of Italy’s Florida subsidiary; Trelleborg of France; and Dunlop Marine and Oil Ltd, of the United Kingdom, and nine individuals have pleaded guilty.”

VITAMIN C CASE

As mentioned in my last e-mail, the Vitamin C case is wrapping up at the District Court level.  The final judgment was revised downward from $153 million to a $147 million judgment because of double counting against by Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Hebei”) and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. (“NCPGC”) for price fixing.

On April 7, 2014, Hebei and NCPGC filed the attached appeals brief Hebei vitamin c appeal brief with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals requesting that the Court reverse US District Judge Brian M. Cogan’s judgment imposing nearly $150 million in damages and a permanent injunction as the company was complying with Chinese laws and regulations by fixing prices on Vitamin-C exports.  In its brief, which will be posted on my blog, Hebei and NCPGC specifically state in part:

“The district court imposed nearly $150 million in penalties and a permanent injunction on Appellants for complying with their own nation’s laws and regulations in reaching price and output agreements on vitamin C exports. The text of the applicable regulations, authoritative legal interpretations offered by the Chinese government, unrebutted expert testimony on Chinese law, and other evidence that the Chinese government mandated the challenged conduct had no impact on the district court.  Rather, the court attacked the credibility of the Chinese government and seized on translated words without due regard for their cultural and linguistic context in order to hold that China’s regime of export regulations for vitamin C constituted a purely private “cartel.” Proper regard for Chinese sovereignty should have led to dismissal of Appellees’ claims under the doctrines of foreign sovereign compulsion, international comity, act of state, or political question. The judgment below represents a massive extension of U.S. federal judicial power into the affairs of a sovereign nation and matters of foreign affairs. This Court should hasten to repudiate it.

The new system was intended to facilitate China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) and avoid antidumping sanctions imposed by foreign governments while maintaining the Ministry’s policy of ensuring the orderly development of key export industries, such as vitamin C.  . . The Ministry explained that the new system would be “convenient for exporters while it is conducive for the chambers to coordinate export price and industry self-discipline.”

As could be predicted, the Chinese government has taken umbrage at the district court judgment. Chinese officials have noted the judgment will “cause problems for the international community” and “eventually harm the interests of the United States. . .  . Leading commentators have observed that the case “has potentially expansive implications for how the U.S. antitrust laws do and should interact with executive branch and foreign interests on international trade,” “is at least in tension with the executive branch’s position [in the WTO],” and “rais[es] the question of whether our antitrust laws ought to be interpreted as giving greater deference to the sovereignty of individual U.S. states than to the sovereignty of foreign governments.”  . . . .

The district court’s dismissal of the government’s views was both disrespectful and unfounded. The WTO filings and reports on which the district court relied to claim the Chinese government had taken contrary positions before that body (essentially accusing a sovereign government of lying) do not stand for the proposition that China imposed no legal obligation on vitamin C producers to coordinate on export pricing and output.  . .  . Rather, they only state that China had abandoned “restrictions on exports through non-automatic licensing or other means justified by specific product under the WTO Agreement or the Protocol,” “[n]on-automatic export licensing requirements under WTO agreement and accession,” and “export quotas and licenses[.]” . .  . .

None of them said that China had abandoned management of pricing in vitamin C exports, let alone that the Chinese regulatory regime had become non-compulsory. The Chinese government’s representations in both forums were perfectly consistent.

Finally, the U.S. Trade Representative and the WTO have found that the Chinese government continued to regulate export pricing on a variety of products subject to the same basic regulatory regime as vitamin C during the relevant time period, and that failure to comply was “subject to investigation leading to potential criminal and administrative penalties.”  . . . . This evidence further illustrates that the district court’s construction of Chinese law was erroneous. . . .

As discussed above, there is a true conflict between Chinese law and U.S. law in these circumstances. All Defendants were Chinese and the conduct took place entirely in China. Complaints about Chinese export policies could properly be addressed through diplomatic channels and/or the WTO’s processes. The purpose was not to harm Americans but to ease the transition of China’s vitamin C industry from central planning to a more market-oriented program and to prevent the harm to China’s trade relations that would result from dumping charges. The exercise of jurisdiction by the district court has already inflicted harm on U.S.- China relations. The court’s decision creates the prospect of Chinese firms being under conflicting conduct requirements. The U.S. and China are both members of the WTO and are subject to its rules on export restrictions. Simply put, every relevant substantial consideration favors comity abstention.

This case raises precisely the same set of concerns about the inappropriateness of the judicial branch treading on delicate foreign policy questions. The Chinese government chose to regulate its domestic vitamin C export industry in what it believed was the most effective manner within its system. Insofar as China’s sovereign policy decisions about how best to manage its economy conflict with the policies embodied in U.S. antitrust laws, that conflict should be addressed “through diplomatic channels,” and not through the “unnecessary irritant of a private antitrust action.”  . . .

For China’s economic regulations and enforcement practices “to be reexamined and perhaps condemned by [U.S.] courts . . .would very certainly imperil the amicable relations between [the U.S. and Chinese] governments and vex the peace of nations.” . . .Indeed, the U.S. and Chinese governments are currently engaged in ongoing discussions on issues involving Chinese regulation of its exports, and the U.S. has availed itself of WTO dispute settlement procedures against China based on the WTO’s rules on export restrictions. .  .. The U.S.’s active engagement in these avenues for resolving disputes between sovereign governments demonstrates that disputes involving China’s regulation of its own exports are foreign relations issues properly committed to the Executive Branch.  The U.S. judiciary should be loath to insert itself into such discussions.”

On April 14, 2014, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) filed its own Amicus Brief in support of the two Chinese companies.  In the attached Amicus Brief, MOFCOM VITAMIN C APPEAL BRIEF MOFCOM stated:

“The Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (“MOFCOM”) is a component of the central Chinese government and the highest administrative authority in China authorized to regulate trade between China and other countries, including all export commerce.  It is the equivalent in the Chinese governmental system of a cabinet-level department of the United States government.  MOFCOM formulates strategies, guidelines, and policies concerning domestic and foreign trade and international cooperation.  MOFCOM also drafts and enforces laws and regulations governing domestic and foreign trade, and regulates markets to achieve an integrated, competitive, and orderly market system.

MOFCOM has been actively involved in this litigation since 2006, when it filed an amicus brief in support of defendants’ motion to dismiss. That appearance was historic.  It marked the first time that any entity of the Government of China had appeared as an amicus, explained to the district court that MOFCOM had directed the defendants’ conduct, and endeavored to describe the varying regulatory mechanisms used to compel defendants’ compliance.

MOFCOM has a compelling interest in this appeal because the district court refused to defer to MOFCOM’s interpretation of Chinese law and announced its own contrary view of what Chinese law required of the defendants.  Moreover, the district court implied that MOFCOM’s interpretation was not just wrong, but intentionally false: “a post-hoc attempt to shield defendants’ conduct from antitrust scrutiny.”  That charge is profoundly disrespectful, and wholly unfounded.

MOFCOM files this brief to set straight the record about its regulatory and litigation conduct; to ensure that this Court understands the Chinese Government’s displeasure about the district court’s treatment of MOFCOM; and to urge reversal of the judgment below, which unfairly penalizes a Chinese company for complying with Chinese law. . .  .

The district court denied summary judgment.   It did not question the basic tenets of the foreign sovereign compulsion doctrine, but held on the basis of its independent assessment of Chinese law, and in direct contradiction to MOFCOM’s interpretation, that Chinese law “did not compel defendants’ conduct.”  . . .  The district court acknowledged that both the Supreme Court and the Second Circuit have held that a foreign government’s statement concerning the meaning of its own law is “‘conclusive’” of that law’s meaning. .  . .

The district court then announced it would “decline to defer to [MOFCOM’s] interpretation of Chinese law,” . . . citing this Court’s statement that “[w]here a choice between two interpretations of ambiguous foreign law rests finely balanced, the support of a foreign sovereign for one interpretation furnishes legitimate assistance.” . . .   The district court appeared to draw from this that deference is unwarranted if a foreign law question is not “finely balanced,” and outlined its grounds for refusing to defer in this case. . . .   The district court first said that the 2009 statement was “particularly undeserving of deference” because it did not “cite to any [specific] sources to support its broad assertions about the regulatory system governing vitamin C exports,” contained “ambiguous terms and phrases,” and did not “distinguish between” the 1997 and 2002 export regulatory regimes. . . . The district court conceded, however, that MOFCOM’s amicus brief, on which the 2009 statement expressly relied, “attempted to explain the regulatory system governing vitamin C exports by citing to, and discussing, specific governmental directives and Chamber documents.” . . .

The district court next pointed to statements China had made to the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) indicating that “‘export administration … of vitamin C’” ceased on January 1, 2002. It asserted that this statement “appear[ed] to contradict [MOFCOM’s] position in the instant litigation,” and deemed this a “further reason not to defer.” . . .

Third, the district court stated that “more careful scrutiny of a foreign government’s statement is warranted” when “the alleged compulsion is in the defendants’ own self-interest.” . . . . Finally, the district court opined that “the factual record contradicts [MOFCOM’s] position.” . . .

Having thus determined that it would not defer to MOFCOM’s interpretation of Chinese law, the district court conducted an independent review of Chinese law, including documents the court described as “traditional sources of foreign law.” . . . . The district court at points suggested it would rely on the “plain language” of these documents, . . ., but its analysis also contained a series of inferences about how to interpret Chinese legal texts.  None of those inferences was premised, at least expressly, on any principle of Chinese law. . . .

The district court erred by disregarding MOFCOM’s formal statements of Chinese law, conducting an independent examination of that law based on “plain language” of translated texts and ungrounded assumptions about how to interpret Chinese law, and declaring that MOFCOM’s interpretation of Chinese law was exactly backwards.  The court’s erroneous conclusions were not supported by any determination of any Chinese government official, Chinese court, or Chinese scholar, and yet exposed Chinese companies to massive class-action antitrust liability for conduct occurring solely within China.  Several companies yielded to that in terrorem pressure and settled. The remaining defendants face a nine-figure judgment that should be vacated for at least three reasons.

First, the district court failed to follow Supreme Court precedent holding that a foreign government’s formal statements about the interpretation of its own law are “conclusive” in American courts.

Second, the district court overlooked comity concerns that at a minimum demand that “conclusive” deference to such statements must be given when foreign sovereign compulsion is asserted as a defense in a private antitrust suit. The foreign sovereign compulsion doctrine owes its very existence to the recognition that significant questions of international law and comity would arise if U.S. courts allowed American law to override a foreign sovereign’s contrary command about how to organize its own domestic commerce. When a foreign sovereign appears in such a case to say what it demanded of a defendant, it should not be open to a district court to deny the command was given.

Third, the district court expressly “decline[d] to defer to [MOFCOM’s] interpretation of Chinese law.”  Instead, the district court simply resolved all questions as it saw fit, applying self-made interpretive canons not grounded in Chinese law, and as such reached a conclusion that is contrary to Chinese law.

The district court’s approach and result have deeply troubled the Chinese government, which has sent a diplomatic note concerning this case to the U.S. State Department.  This Court should reverse, and in so doing reaffirm that principles of international comity require district courts to treat official statements of a foreign government with a high degree of deference and respect, and with due caution about the court’s ability to determine accurately the law of an unfamiliar legal system. . . .

The district court asserted that China’s statements to the WTO that it had given up “‘export administration … of vitamin C’ as of January 1, 2002,” “appear to contradict” MOFCOM’s position that Chinese law continued after that date to require industry coordination of export price and quantity. . . .   That conclusion, however, reflects a basic misunderstanding of the technical trade-policy context in which those statements were made.

The statements cited by the district court relate to a “transitional review” in which China participated following its 2001 accession to the WTO.  Each statement provides in part that “on 1 January 2002, China gave up export administration” of certain goods, including “vitamin C.” But in context—and as indicated by the headings that preceded them—these statements indicated only that China abandoned “restrictions on exports through non-automatic licensing” on that date, and not that China eliminated every existing export restriction in one stroke.

A third document cited by the district court unambiguously demonstrates that this more confined reading is precisely what China intended.  That document . . . is a report by the WTO Secretariat summarizing its “trade policy review” with respect to China.  Citing one of the two “export administration” statements described above, the WTO Secretariat explained that “[o]n 1 January 2002, China abolished export quotas and licenses for … Vitamin C.”   Thus, the WTO Secretariat expressly interpreted China’s earlier “export administration” statements to relate to abolition of “export quotas and licenses for … Vitamin C,” but not all other forms of export regulation.

The United States government adopted exactly this same construction in a 2009 WTO dispute resolution proceeding, alleging (as China later acknowledged), that China had maintained “a system that prevents exportation unless the seller meets or exceeds the minimum export price.”  In other words, the United States adopted exactly the same position in WTO dispute settlement proceedings that MOFCOM has urged in this case: after 2002, China was still requiring exporters to abide by a price-setting regime.  China’s statements to the WTO, accordingly, did . . .not provide any basis for the district court to refuse to accord MOFCOM deference. . . .

MOFCOM grants that a district court that faces a contested question of foreign law with no aid from a foreign government often will have no choice but to grasp the nettle and do its best. But here, the district court’s confusion was self-inflicted.  MOFCOM offered an authoritative view of Chinese law.  The district court erroneously refused that assistance and then, predictably, floundered in its attempt to discern the operation of a complex foreign regulatory system.  The district court instead should have deferred, as it unquestionably would have been required to do had a U.S. regulator presented an analogous statement in a brief. . . . Its failure to do so, or at a minimum to apply Chinese legal principles to its independent analysis, requires reversal.”

US JUDGE REFUSES TO DISMISS US ANTITRUST CASE AGAINST CHINESE SOLAR COMPANIES

On March 31, 2014, Judge Armstrong of the California Federal District Court rejected the Chinese solar companies’ motion to dismiss The Solyndra Residual Trust vs. Suntech Power Holdings, Suntech America, Trina Solar Limited, Trina US, Yingli Green Energy Holding Ltd, Yingli Green Energy Americas Inc (“Solyndra v. Suntech”) antitrust case.  In the attached decision, Solyndra order denying motion to dismiss Judge Armstrong stated:

“According to Plaintiff, the alleged price fixing scheme which led to the demise of Solyndra and numerous other American solar panel manufacturers was perpetrated by Suntech, Trina and Yingli (all of which are publicly-traded on the New York Stock Exchange), and their respective American alter egos, Suntech America, Trina U.S. and Yingli Americas. . . . Defendants are members of the China New Energy Chamber of Commerce (“China New Energy”), a trade association which has the stated purpose of promoting “collaboration” amongst its members. . . . Through China New Energy, Defendants were able to meet regularly and develop a coordinated pricing and output strategy aimed at dominating the United States solar panel market. . . .

Defendants, desiring to dominate the United States market for solar panels, became concerned with the innovation presented by Solyndra’s technology. . . .  To that end, Defendants allegedly formed a conspiracy to “dump” (i.e., to price their panels below cost) their solar panels in the United States market.  . . To that end, as demand for solar panels was rising, Defendants acted contrary to “rational economic rules” by “slash[ing] their prices in an effort to aggressively capture market share and drive competition from the marketplace.” . . .

Defendants also are alleged to have used China New Energy to fix prices at artificially low rates. . .  . Each year since founding in 2006, China New Energy has held an International Forum (“Forum”), at which the chairs of Suntech, Trina and Yingli have been featured speakers. . . . Defendants allegedly used China New Energy’s annual International Forum as a means of meeting and communicating with one another and reach agreements to fix and lower prices.  . . . After each Forum, prices charged by each of the Defendants fell precipitously. . . .For example, after meeting during the second Forum which held on December 11-12, 2007, Defendants lowered their prices by 40%.  . . . This pricing behavior “shocked” even seasoned industry analysts, who had predicted price reductions of only 5% per year.  . .

As prices for Chinese solar panels in the United States plummeted, American solar manufacturers could not keep pace.  .  . Since 2010, “at least twelve domestic U.S. manufacturers have shut down plants, declared bankruptcy, or staged significant layoffs.” . . .

In contrast, Defendants now occupy a dominant position in the American solar panel market, and by the end of 2011, controlled 65% of the rooftop solar market. . . . Correspondingly, Defendants’ net revenues soared, with Suntech’s net revenue alone increasing to $3.1 billion in 2011 from $1.6 billion in 2009. . . .

Here, the pleadings specifically allege facts that are more than sufficient to suggest that Defendants reached an agreement to fix prices and flood the American market with their below cost Chinese-made panels for the purpose of stifling competition. The FAC alleges that Defendants effectively controlled their industry trade organization, China New Energy, and held meetings at its annual Forums to coordinate their market strategy including the coordinated, drastic lowering of prices to dominate the American market for solar panels. After each Forum held between 2007 and 2010, Defendants’ prices uniformly fell precipitously. These uniform price decreases were completely unanticipated within the industry, given that it was economically irrational to slash prices so significantly in the face of rising demand. . . . . Allegedly as a result of Defendants’ predatory and collusive conduct, Solyndra and a host of other American competitors went out of business, while Defendants correspondingly increased their sales and market share in the United States. . . .

Construing these allegations in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court finds that they are sufficient to present a plausible claim that Defendants formed an agreement to restrain trade.”

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

Commentators have observed that governments are increasingly using antitrust and other regulatory powers for broader political and economic purposes and following the Commerce Department’s lead, the Chinese government is doing the same.

On January 28, 2014, there was a report out of China that Qualcomm is facing a record antitrust fine of $1 billion in an antitrust case from China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

In the US National Trade Estimate report, its annual reports on trade barriers, released on March 31, 2014, 2014 NTE Report on FTB the USTR expressed concerned about the deteriorating conditions for US companies operating in or hoping to export to China across a broad range of sectors, due to selective anti-monopoly law enforcement.  With regards to stepped-up enforcement of anti-monopoly laws by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the USTR stated in its March 31st report:

“Anti-Monopoly Law

The Chinese government’s interventionist policies and practices and the large role of SOEs in China’s economy have created some uncertainty regarding how the Anti-Monopoly Law will be applied. One provision in the Anti-Monopoly Law protects the lawful operations of SOEs and government monopolies in industries deemed nationally important. To date, China has enforced the Anti-Monopoly Law against SOEs, but concerns remain that enforcement against SOEs will be more limited.

In 2013, NDRC increased its enforcement activity noticeably, particularly against foreign enterprises. In addition, U.S. industry has expressed concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in NDRC’s investigative processes, including NDRC pressure to “cooperate” in the face of unspecified allegations or face steep fines. U.S. industry also has reported pressure from NDRC against seeking outside counsel, in particular international counsel, or having counsel present at meetings.”

EXPLOSIVE GROWTH IN CHINESE ANTITRUST CASES

A recent report by John Yong Ren, a well-known Chinese antitrust lawyer, states that there was an explosive growth in antitrust cases under China’s anti-monopoly law in 2013, with even more cases coming in 2014.  T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of March 2014

It was reported that both the Justice Department and now the NDRC have started investigations of Auto Parts and are targeting capacitor manufacturers.

SECURITIES

On March 11, 2014, in the attached complaint, AGFEED COMPLAINT the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed suit against Agfeed Industries, Junhong Xiong, Selina Jin, Songyan Li, Shaobo Ouyang, Edward J. Pazdro and K. Ivan Gothner for accounting fraud.  The SEC sued bankrupt AgFeed Industries Inc. and former principals of the company over an alleged accounting fraud scheme, in which revenues were inflated by $239 million in order to boost the industrial hog producer’s stock price.

Four executives at the China-based but U.S.-traded company purportedly used a variety of methods to inflate revenue from 2008 through 2011, such as faking invoices for sales of feed and nonexistent hogs, which executives later tried to cover up by claiming the bogus hogs had died.

According to Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, “AgFeed’s accounting misdeeds started in China, and U.S. executives failed to properly investigate and disclose them to investors.  This is a cautionary tale of what happens when an audit committee chair fails to perform his gatekeeper function in the face of massive red flags.”

According to the SEC the fraud started in China and U.S. management eventually got wise to the fraud, which included keeping two sets of books: one for insiders with accurate information, and one with inflated figures shown to outside auditors. But instead of intervening, US management moved to spin off the company’s feed division and reported nothing about the incident to law enforcement or investors.

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT—EXTRADITION OF FOREIGN NATIONALS TO FACE US JUSTICE

On April 2, 2014, the US Government indicated six foreign nationals in an alleged conspiracy to bribe Indian officials to approve a $500 million titanium mining project.

Dmitry Firtash, identified by prosecutors as the leader of the alleged conspiracy, co-owns RosUkrEnergo with the Russian gas company Gazprom, and controls international conglomerate Group DF that owns several mining companies.

Firtash was arrested in Vienna on March 12 and later released on about $174 million bail.  Prosecutors are seeking forfeitures of about $10.6 million from the defendants.

Prosecutors additionally want Firtash to forfeit his interests in Group DF and its assets, including more than 150 companies in the British Virgin Islands, Switzerland and Cyprus.  The foreign nationals face up to 20 years in prison for the most serious charges and up to a million dollars in fines.

In announcing the indictment in the attached statement, FOREIGN INDIVIDUALS PROSECUTED UNDER FCPA the Justice Department stated:

“Fighting global corruption is part of the fabric of the Department of Justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil. “The charges against six foreign nationals announced today send the unmistakable message that we will root out and attack foreign bribery and bring to justice those who improperly influence foreign officials, wherever we find them.”

“Criminal conspiracies that extend beyond our borders are not beyond our reach,” said U.S. Attorney Fardon. “We will use all of the tools and resources available to us to ensure the integrity of global business transactions that involve U.S. commerce.”

“This case is another example of the FBI’s willingness to aggressively investigate corrupt conduct around the globe” said Special Agent in Charge Holley. “With the assistance of our law enforcement partners, both foreign and domestic, we will continue to pursue those who allegedly bribe foreign officials in return for lucrative business contracts.”

Tom Gorman, a Dorsey partner in our Washington DC office, who formerly worked in the SEC enforcement division, has described this indictment as follows:

“FCPA enforcement officials have repeatedly emphasized that they intend to focus on individuals as an effective means of halting possible violations. A case unsealed yesterday underscores this point.”

See his entire article on his blog at http://www.secactions.com/fcpa-a-focus-on-individuals/

SEC GETS $33 MILLION DOLLAR DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST CHINESE ELECTRONICS COMPANY AND EMPLOYEES

On March 10, 2014, in SEC v. China Intelligent Lighting & Electronics Inc. et al, a New York Federal Judge issued the attached default judgments NDEF IDEF in favor of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and against two Chinese electronic companies accused of misleading investors about the use of money from public offerings, ordering the companies to pay a total of almost $33 million.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On March 27, 2014, the SEC filed suit against World Capital Market Inc, WCM777 Inc. WCM777 Ltd. d/b/a WCM777 Enterprises and Ming Xu a/k/a Phil Ming Xu and Kingdom Capital Market, Manna Holding Group, Manna Source International, WCM Resources, Aeon Operating and PMX Jewels for securities fraud.  As described in the attached complaint SEC WORLD CAPITAL MARKETS,

“This matter involves an ongoing pyramid scheme, Ponzi scheme, and misappropriation of investor funds through an unregistered securities offering that targets members of the Asian-American and Hispanic-American communities, as well as foreign investors. Beginning around March 2013 and continuing to the present, operating under the offering name “WCM777,” Defendants have collected over $65 million from investors in the United States and abroad.  Of that amount, over $28 million was deposited into bank accounts in the United States between March and October 2013.  After October 2013, Defendants deposited investor funds into a bank account in Hong Kong.”

Apparently, the investors were not only in the US, but also in China and Hong Kong.

In the attached complaint, a Brad Berkowitz has filed a class action securities case against Sino Gas and several Chinese individuals and companies.  SINO GAS

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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