US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP TRADE CRISIS, NAFTA NEAR COLLAPSE, NO FTAS, THIRD COUNTRIES BEAT US OUT ON TRADE DEALS, AD CASES MORE POLITICAL, NO SYMPATHY FOR BOMBARDIER, 201 SOLAR, 301 CHINA, TAA FOR COMPANIES

Winder Building United States Trade Representative Washington DC. United States Trade Representative is chief US trade negotiator. Winder Building created 1848

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR OCTOBER 20, 2017

Dear Friends,

Having just returned from a month-long trip to Europe, the trade situation under the Trump Administration has heated up to the boiling point, but the target is not just China.  The Trump Administration appears to be attacking all trade with the firm belief that all prior trade deals that the US entered into were a raw deal.  NAFTA negotiations are at a standstill, and many believe Trump’s real intention is to kill NAFTA.

The United States is at a trade crossroads and apparently Trump and his supporters have decided to become much more protectionist, while the rest of the World is moving to free trade agreements.

As also stated below, directly contrary to statements by Trump supporters, the Trump trade policy is not a continuation of President Reagan’s trade policy.  Although President Reagan took pragmatic trade actions when he had to, he was a strong free trader and we know that was his position because he said so.

President Trump is very protectionist and truly does not want free trade deals.  He ripped up the TPP with no attempt at renegotiation.  He has made such strong demands of Canada and Mexico that he knows they will reject with the purpose of eventually killing the deal.

The decisions on TPP and NAFTA have been taken without any real idea of the negative ramifications, the costs, of terminating these deals on US farmers and corporations, many of which have interconnected supply chains that have been finely calibrated to produce lower cost consumer products so as to be competitive with lower priced imports of that final product from China.  Many believe that the real effect of killing NAFTA will be to move production to China or other lower cost countries.

Moreover, Trump won the election because of rural states and the farmers in those rural states but US agriculture is dependent on exports.  When Trump slams trade, he slams his own constituents, farmers in the rural states, which elected him as President.

One of the other losers in the Trump trade policy besides agriculture will be the high tech companies because these two sectors will bear the brunt of the trade retaliation that is coming.

Trump wants to protect the low tech industry, the Steel industry with its 141,000 jobs and the heck with everyone else.

The Trump trade policy is based on one arrogant presumption—the US market is the largest in the World and the rest of the World must kowtow, come on bended knee, to get into the US and that fact gives the US leverage.  But that fact is no longer true.  The 11 countries in the TPP have a larger market than the US.  China has a larger market than the US.

In fact, Canada and Mexico already can fall back on trade agreements they have with other countries, such as Europe.  The United States does not have that luxury.  The US decision by both Trump and the Democrats to go protectionist is further isolating the US in the trade area and is having and will have major negative economic ramifications on the US economy.  The chickens will come home to roost.

Maybe instead of ripping up trade agreements and making US producers less competitive it is time for the United States to find a way to make its companies more competitive in the US and international markets as they exist now rather than erect protectionist barriers to international competition.  Maybe the US should turn to an existing program, which has saved companies injured by imports, the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program.

Commerce has made antidumping and countervailing duty investigations more political, but the EC wants to change China’s nonmarket economy status to allow a case by case determination.

But there is no sympathy for Bombardier in the Boeing fight at the Commerce Department in Civil Aircraft Preliminary determinations as Bombardier refused to cooperate with the Commerce Department’s antidumping investigation leading to a decision of all facts available.  So there will be no negotiated agreement in that case.  Bombardier has decided to jointly produce the plans with Airbus at its Mobile, Alabama plant, but it is questionable whether that will really work.

The US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) reached an affirmative injury determination in the Solar Section 201 case and now it moves to remedy phase.

USTR has also initiated a section 301 case against forced technology transfers in deals with China, but not many companies showed up for the USTR hearing. This may reflect the point made by my partner, Dan Harris, in his August 30, 2017 article “China US Trade Wars and the IP Elephant in the Room” that many US companies make the mistake of simply handing over their IP rights to Chinese joint venture companies with no protection. The US government cannot protect US companies from stupid mistakes.

Meanwhile, the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases remain on hold.

In a decision near and dear to my heart, USTR is charging ahead with a Wine case against BC and Canada at the WTO and now EC, Australia, Argentina and other countries are interested.    Canada and BC’s protectionist position on Wine play right into Trump’s argument that NAFTA is not a free trade agreement.

China has filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case against the United States.  More Antidumping and Countervailing Duty and 337 cases have been filed against China and the trade issue could well become the most important issue in upcoming elections.

If Trump makes unwise protectionist decisions, the US economy will be hurt, jobs will be lost and he will lose in the next election.

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

TRADE AT A CROSSROADS AND IT’S NOT JUST CHINA

Prior to his election, with Trump complaining during the election about China so many times, many voters would have believed that Trump’s primary target in the trade area would be China.

But nine months after his inauguration, it is becoming clearer that Trump’s real target is trade in general.  We are at a trade crossroads, and the Trump Administration with substantial support from the Democrats apparently has decided to move down a very protectionist road.

Trump and his Administration firmly believe that the United States has gotten a raw deal in all the trade deals it has entered into.  In effect, Trump sees trade as economic warfare and the United States is losing the war.  When economic competition from imports causes problems for US companies, it must be unfair trade caused by unfair trade deals.

Although Trump will mouth free trade, when Trump pulled out of the Trans Pacific Partnership, it was the first Free Trade Agreement that the United States had ever refused to join.  As described below under the Costs article, this action has put US exporters, including farmers, at a distinct cost disadvantage in World markets and caused enormous economic damage to Trump’s own constituents, workers and farmers.  Many experts believe that there is a better than 50% chance that Trump will pull out of NAFTA.  See articles below from Wall Street Journal and John Brinkley at Forbes about the costs of pulling out of NAFTA.

But killing the TPP and potentially killing NAFTA gores the agriculture ox.  This is the one fly in the ointment, flaw in Trump’s entire economic strategy.  If the Trump trade policy hurts farmers, Trump could lose the rural states: Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, to name a few and that could lead to Trump’s loss in the next Presidential election.  In contrast to arguments made by Trump supporters, rural states are not just manufacturing, they are farmers, agriculture, and one half of all US produced agricultural prorducts is exported.

In addition to agriculture, high tech companies will also be hit as they are perfect retaliation targets and all the side agreements on digital and IP protection in the TPP Agreement have died and will die.

Trump supporters attack not only the trade deals, but the WTO itself because ceding power in a trade deal or to the WTO is giving away the sovereignty of the US people.  The WTO’s job, however, is to provide a forum for negotiations and adjudication of trade disputes between different sovereign countries.  The United States simply cannot dictate its trade policy to other sovereign countries.  It must negotiate trade agreements.  If that be globalism, then so be it.

The real issue is what is the US interest in trade negotiations.  The trade deals that the Trump supporters attack were negotiated by the US government and then approved by Congress.  Are all treaties that create multi-government organizations as a forum for negotiations and adjudication of international disputes to be attacked because they result in giving away US sovereignty?  If so, the World returns to 1914, World War 1, and the Guns of August.  The United States has to negotiate with other sovereign countries.  And in negotiation with other sovereign countries, the United States does not always get everything it wants to get.  That is the essence of negotiations.

As stated before, the simplistic Trump approach to trade is that the United States is the largest market in the World and countries must kowtow to get into the US market.  But that is no longer true.  The remaining countries in the TPP represent a larger market than the US.  That is why during the push for Trade Promotion Authority in the House of Representatives, House Speaker Paul Ryan stated that 75% of all consumers are outside the United States.

The Trump supporters also look at economic competition as economic warfare and, therefore, the United States must win each trade deal.  But as stated below, President Reagan himself believed that economic competition is good for the United States because it is the essence of free markets.

WOULD PRESIDENT REAGAN HAVE SUPPORTED TRUMP’S ECONOMIC PROTECTIONIST NATIONALISM?—I THINK NOT

One of the basic arguments of the Trump supporters in the Trade area is that Trump’s trade policy is simply an extension of Reagan’s trade policy and, therefore, President Ronald Reagan would have supported the protectionist economic nationalism of Donald Trump.  In effect, these supporters argue all trade deals in the past, including NAFTA and China’s entry into the WTO, were raw deals that hurt the US working man.  These supporters argue that the trade deals are the reason for the loss of millions of US manufacturing jobs and even a major reason for the US budget deficit.  Therefore, President Reagan would have opposed all of these trade deals.

But I too was in the US government during the Reagan Administration, admittedly not a political appointee, but as a line attorney at the US International Trade Commission and the Commerce Department.  I do not remember the Reagan trade policy in the same way as being overly protectionist.  I remember a President, who was the most Free Trade President of my generation, who firmly believed in the power of the free market and economic competition.  Although President Reagan took tough trade actions as needed, he also knew that in the long run protectionism would not work because the US companies themselves would only become weaker.  Reagan’s real trade policy is indicated by his actual words and actions, not summary statements by conservative pundits.

Reagan also understood that when dealing with trade, we are dealing with the interests not only of the United States, but the interests of other countries.  Although the US should always represent its own interests first, it cannot dictate the outcome to other countries, because it does not have the power to do so.  The EC, China, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and Australia are sovereign countries too, and they have a say in international trade negotiations.

On October 14, 2017, at the Values Summit in Washington DC, Fox Contributor Laura Ingraham stated that Reagan was an economic populist and pointed to the 45% tariff issued by President Reagan in the Harley Davidson Motorcycles case and the large duties of 100% against Japanese electronics, such as semiconductors.  She then argued that President Trump’s stance on trade was simply a continuation of the Reagan trade policy.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qofqnUHPGnc.

During the speech, Ingraham stated that every Free Trade Agreement must be either rewritten or repealed and that Trump like Reagan understands the working class and the need to protect US industry and jobs.  She pointed to present USTR Robert Lighthizer, the former Deputy USTR under Reagan, as an example of Trump’s sterling trade policy.

But I too worked in the Reagan Administration and later under Robert Lighthizer.  I simply do not remember it the way Ingraham and Robert Lighthizer, the current USTR, remember it.  In the Harley Davidson Motorcycles case, for example, which happened when I was in the General Counsel’s office at the US International Trade Commission, Harley brought a case under Section 201, the Escape Clause, allowing Harley to get short term temporary protection from imports.  After winning the case and after Reagan issued a temporary tariff on imports of motorcycle subassemblies from Japan (Japanese companies had manufacturing facilities in the US too), Harley after only two years asked the Reagan Administration to lift the temporary tariff because it had adjusted to import competition.

Contrast that tariff relief with the tariff relief provided to Mr. Lighthizer’s client in the Steel Industry—30 plus years of protection from imports from many, many antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders issued under US AD and CVD laws.  That is not temporary tariff relief; that is permanent tariff relief.  Despite that protection for decades, the US steel industry has declined with Bethlehem Steel going out of business, just as President Ronald Reagan himself predicted.  Trade protection only slows the decline of industries; it does not cure the disease.

Ms. Ingraham’s speech parallels the statements she recently made in her book “Billionaire at the Barricades”, which articulates very well the thinking and many of the arguments from the Trump Administration and his supporters against trade and trade agreements in general.  In the book, Ms. Ingraham states, “Except for Reagan, all modern presidents of both parties campaigned as populists but governed as globalists.”  And that Conservative Populists “are against huge trade deals and international organizations like the World Trade Organization because they take power out of the hands of voters and give it to a far-away and often hostile global elite.”  Page 43.

Ingraham also attacks all trade deals, especially NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement between Mexico and Canada, and China’s entry into the WTO, along with the WTO itself.  With regards to NAFTA, Ingraham states:

“but Perot and millions of Americans—the kind who don’t worship at the Wall Street Journal’s altar of globalism and internationalism for profit’s sake—knew it was a raw deal for workers and bad for America. The biggest “tell” that NAFTA was going to be a boon for elites and a bust for everyone else was the fact that George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton (as well as their Donor Class” pals) all supported the monstrosity.”

Billionaires at the Barricades at 313 (footnotes omitted).

According to Ingraham, Clinton promised that NAFTA would:

“create the world’s largest trade zone and create 200,000 jobs in this country by 1995 alone . .  .Clinton not only lied, he made a “pledge” to the American working class who opposed NAFTA that they would receive “gains.”

They received pink slips instead.

The populists’ NAFTA predictions proved painfully prescient. Between 1993 and 2013, the U.S. trade deficit with Mexico and Canada went from $17 billion to $177.2 billion.  . .

The effects on American workers have been even more catastrophic. EPI data concluded that in just 10 years, NAFTA was responsible for displacing 851,700 American jobs. To put that in context, that’s more people than live in Columbus, Ohio. “All of the net jobs displaced were due to growing trade deficits with Mexico”.  .. .The destruction of nearly one million jobs and the implosion of American manufacturing—that’s Bill Clinton’s NAFTA legacy.”

Billionaires at the Barricades at 385 to 389.

But Ingram forgets to mention that since NAFTA was enacted, total trade among these three countries has increased from $290 billion in 1993 to $1.1 Trillion in 2016 and that trade was not solely imports, but also US exports to those countries.  According to the US Chamber of Commerce, six million US jobs are dependent on US trade with Mexico.

Ingraham then goes on to attack the decision to let China into the WTO:

“If NAFTA had unleashed a flood of dangerous economic currents crashing into the American working class, his [Clinton’s] decision to pave the path for China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (WTO) by giving it Permanent Normal Trade Relations (PNTR, now known as Most Favored Nation) status swelled into an outsourcing tidal wave. Millions of American manufacturing jobs were washed out to sea – the South China Sea, that is. . .  .

It is “one of the most important foreign policy developments” if you want to understand the destruction of American manufacturing. It is also “one of the most important foreign policy developments” for understanding how millions of U.S. manufacturing jobs were vaporized in record speed, even as China grew at a steroidal rate of muscular economic growth.

Let’s start with the basics. The World Trade Organization was officially created during Bill Clinton’s presidency in January 1995, but it had existed in other forms since 1948. . . .

“Seventeen years hence, it is difficult to overstate the economic destruction wrought by China’s entry into the WTO and Congress and President Clinton’s decision to grant the Chinese permanent” “Most Favored Nation status. A 2016 analysis published in the Annual Review of Economics concluded that between 1999 and 2011, America lost between 2 and 2.4 million jobs.  Others, like the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, put the American jobs loss figures even higher at 3.2 million jobs, when calculated between the years 2001 and 2013.50

The brutal economic reality was a cruel reversal of Clinton’s promises: all the gains were on the Chinese side, all “the losses and devastation were America’s. American manufacturing jobs were eviscerated. From 2001 to 2011, U.S. manufacturing jobs plunged from 17.1 million to 11.8 million.51 That’s a loss of 5.3 million manufacturing jobs, a figure that’s nearly the population of the entire state of Minnesota.

The narrowing of the trade deficit between the United States and China never materialized either. To the contrary, it exploded. In 2000, the annual trade in goods deficit with China stood at a towering $84 billion. After Clinton ushered China to the front of the line, the trade deficit more than quadrupled to a jaw-dropping $367 billion by 2015.  The year before America let China join the WTO (1999), the United States accounted for 25.78 percent of world GDP. By 2014, that figure had dropped to 22.43—the lowest it has been in government records going back to 1969, according to the Economic Research Service of the U.S. Department of the U.S. Department of Agriculture. In 1999, China’s annual GDP was $1.094 trillion. In 2015, it was more than $11 trillion. In 1999, the U.S. national debt was $5.7 trillion (the good ol’ days!). Today, after the big government globalist policies of the last several presidents, U.S. national debt stands at a mind-bending $20 trillion.”

Id. at 415, 417, 427-431 (footnotes omitted).

Let me make one point very clear.  The China WTO Agreement is not a Free Trade Agreement.  Before China entered the WTO, it was already exporting substantial exports to the US.  I know because I represented Chinese companies and US importers in many antidumping cases long before China entered the WTO.  What China’s entrance into the WTO allowed the US to do was to gain leverage with China by putting Chinese trade practices into a forum, the WTO, which gave the US the ability to call some of China’s trade practices into account and discipline them.  The United States has brought many cases against China at the WTO and won many and caused China to change its trade practices, but it should be noted that China has brought cases against the US at the WTO, especially in the antidumping and countervailing duty area, and won many too.

As Charlene Barshefsky, the USTR, who negotiated the US China WTO Agreement, recently stated to the Wall Street Journal in answer to the question whether China’s entry into the WTO accounted for its enormous economic growth:

”No, I don’t think he’s right. If you go back to the mid-1990s, you saw a China that was already growing at about 8%, 8.5% a year, with the world’s largest standing army, a nuclear power, a permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, a fifth of the world’s population, a reformist premier, Zhu Rongji, and willing to orient toward the West.

In the course of doing the WTO negotiation, China opened its market. The U.S. didn’t alter its trade regime, nor did any other country alter  its trade regime. As in any WTO negotiation, it is the acceding country that needs to reform its economy.

The key point is that, in the context of a country as large as China entering, were there protections built into the agreement to prevent, for example, unexpected surges of imports? And indeed, there were—a mechanism almost never used by the very industries Steve Bannon is pointing to, although it would’ve been entirely protective of their interests.”

To see what Ms. Barshefsky believes is the real China trade problem see the video at https://www.wsj.com/articles/the-impact-of-china-joining-the-wto-1495504981.

During that interview, Barshefsky pointed to the real China problem.  After 2006 China has shifted to a more protectionist trade policy pushing US and other foreign companies and foreign imports out of China.  The Trump trade policy rightly so could demand more reciprocity from China and demand that China drop its barriers to US imports and investment.

On the other hand, killing all trade with China is not the answer.  Although Ms. Ingraham points to the deficits, China has become the largest importer of US products.  On August 21st, in an editorial entitled “Yes, China Steals U.S. Intellectual Property, But That Doesn’t Mean Trade With China Is A Bad Thing” Investors Business Daily states:

“But didn’t the flood of Chinese factory-made goods to the U.S. decimate American manufacturing during this period? That’s a myth. As the U.S. Federal Reserve’s monthly manufacturing index shows, from 2000 to 2006 American factory output rose a healthy 11.5%. It wasn’t decimated by the surge in Chinese exports to the U.S. It only crashed when the financial crisis hit.  . . .

We hope a negotiated solution can be found. At the same time, we might want to think seriously about it before we back a giant U.S.-China trade war that could make all of us, Americans and Chinese, much worse off.”

In addition, when Ms. Ingraham quotes economic data from left leaning groups, she should keep in mind that these groups are very big supporters of labor unions, which provide the backbone of the Democratic Party.  Labor unions traditionally have been very, very protectionist, anti-free market and economic competition, very anti-Republican and very pro- Democratic party.  That is why Senator Chuck Schumer, who Ingraham does not like, supports the Trump protectionist trade policy, but Schumer believes that Trump is not being protectionist enough.   Chuck Schumer’s views are not the views of President Ronald Reagan.

But Ms. Ingraham also states that:

“Trump’s critics would do well to examine the election data on working-class rural Americans—a group who overwhelmingly went for Trump’s message of economic nationalism. Rural voters accounted for nearly one out of five votes in 2016 and were a pivotal part of Trump’s successful Rust Belt strategy. NBC News exit polls revealed that Trump beat Clinton 57 to 38 percent among Michigan’s rural voters (Romney carried the same group but by only seven percentage points). Among Pennsylvania rural voters, Trump destroyed Clinton 71 percent to 26 percent . . ..”

Id. at 1163-1164.

But Ms. Ingraham herself should also watch out because many of those rural voters are farmers and agriculture is dependent on exports.  Those rural voters could turn against Trump and the Republican party and that is why Republican Senators and Congressmen from rural states are so concerned about Trump’s trade policy.  Farmers want trade agreements, even if Trump and his manufacturing supporters do not.  That is why after listening to the complaints of Republican Senators and Congressmen from agricultural states along with complaints of US Ambassador to China and former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad, Trump told Lighthizer in the NAFTA negotiations to do no harm.

In her book, Laura Ingraham points to Reagan’s history, but misses an important point Reagan lived through the Great Depression and he firmly believed that the protectionist policies in the 1930 Smoot Hawley tariff act, which “protected” the US by increasing tariffs on almost every import, made a depression into the Great Depression.  How do I know?  Because President Ronald Reagan said so.

On June 28, 1986, President Reagan from his ranch in Santa Barbara gave the attache speech, BETTER COPY REAGAN IT SPEECH, on International Trade.  This speech is in effect a point by point rebuttal that Reagan was an economic nationalist.  So I would say to Ms. Ingraham to paraphrase Robert Dole, do not distort Ronald Reagan’s record.  I have quoted the entire speech to show that it came directly from President Reagan and is not a characterization.  As Reagan himself stated in the speech:

My fellow Americans:

This coming week we’ll celebrate the Fourth of July and the birthday of the Statue of Liberty, dedicated one century ago this year. Nancy and I will be in New York Harbor for the event, watching fireworks light the sky over the grand old lady who welcomes so many millions of immigrants to our shores. But I’ve often thought that Lady Liberty also represents another symbol of our openness to the rest of the world. With the ships plying the waters of New York Harbor beneath her, she reminds us of the enormous extent of our trade with other nations of the world.

Now, I know that if I were to ask most of you how you like to spend your Saturdays in the summertime, sitting down for a nice, long discussion of international trade wouldn’t be at the top of the list. But believe me, none of us can or should be bored with this issue. Our nation’s economic health, your well-being and that of your family’s really is at stake.

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

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

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

Well, since World War II, the nations of the world showed they learned at least part of their lesson. They organized the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, to promote free trade. It hasn’t all been easy going, however. 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.

And that’s why I wanted to talk with you today about some legislation that the Congress now has before it that is a throwback to the old protectionist days. It greatly cuts down my flexibility as President to bargain with and pressure foreign governments into reducing trade barriers. While this legislation is still pending before the Senate, it has already passed the House of Representatives. So, the danger is approaching. Should this bill become law, foreign governments would respond, and soon a vicious cycle of trade barriers would be jeopardizing our hard-won economic prosperity. Yes, the politicians are back at it in Washington. And should this unacceptable legislation continue to move through the Congress, I’ll need your help in sending them a message. So, please consider our talk today an early warning signal on free and fair trade, a jobs and growth alert. And stand by, I may need your help in resisting protectionist barriers that would hinder economic growth and cost America jobs.

Until next week, thanks for listening, and God bless you.

Emphasis added.

I too was in the US government during the Reagan Administration, admittedly not a political appointee, but as a line attorney at the US International Trade Commission and the Commerce Department.  I too saw the Reagan trade policy and I do not remember it the way Ingraham and Robert Lighthizer, the current USTR, remember it.  I saw President Ronald Reagan appoint the most free trade Commissioners in its history to the US International Trade Commission—Susan Liebeler and Anne Brunsdale — and they certainly were not economic nationalists.  These free trade ITC Commissioners used to frustrate Robert Lighthizer in cases brought by the US Steel industry because they refused to go affirmative in certain cases and put antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place.

Let me say at the outset, I am not a Libertarian.  I have no problem with trade policy that hammers countries to open markets.  I have no problem with a domestic policy of low taxes and less regulation.  We need to make our companies, farmers and workers more competitive by giving them back the money they have earned.

I also believe that making America great again and putting America’s interests first is a correct policy position.  I am not a globalist, but firmly believe that we first must know what America’s interest is.

But as indicated below, in the post on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, I firmly believe, like Ronald Reagan, who personally approved of the program, that an answer to the trade crisis is not more protectionism, but finding ways to make US companies more competitive.

Like Ronald Reagan, who was a free trader, I do not believe in putting up protectionist trade barriers, which are not temporary and can stay in place for 30 plus years, such as antidumping and countervailing duty orders against steel that wipe out imports and make downstream companies less competitive, is in the interest of the United States.

As President Reagan himself stated, “the protected industry is so listless and its competitive instincts so atrophied that it can’t stand up to the competition,” and competition is what makes and will make America great again.

Like Ronald Reagan I do not believe that protection in the long run saves the industries it is trying to protect.  Robert Lighthizer for decades at Skadden, Arps represented US Steel in the Steel Trade Wars.  My former boss, Mike Stein, represented Bethlehem Steel for decades in the Steel Wars along with Lighthizer, but where is Bethlehem Steel today after 40 years of protection from steel imports—green fields.  Green fields when the steel industry has been protected to some degree for decades from steel imports.

Why?  Despite the protection from steel imports, Bethlehem Steel management and union did not take the protection and adjust to import competition so as to make their production facilities more competitive.  In the 90s, when given protection in a Section 201 case from imports, US Steel bought Marathon Oil.  All the trade protection the US can provide will not save the companies if they want to give their workers exorbitant pensions and their management large bonuses and reduce their own competitiveness in the World market.

Antidumping orders against steel imports have led to a higher US steel price than the World market price.  Steel, however, is a raw material input and the antidumping orders against Steel have led to US antidumping orders brought by injured US industries against imports of ironing tables, folding metal tables and chairs, wind towers, stainless steel sinks, boltless steel shelving, steel nails and a myriad of other products that use US steel as a raw material input.  The disease of the steel industry has spread to the downstream steel using industries.

During the speech Laura Ingraham asked what is the problem with trade protectionism?  One major problem is that trade is a two-way street and what the United States does to one country that country can do back to the United States.  The United States cannot dictate trade policy to the other countries in the World because they are sovereign too.  Also the entire world is moving to an open market, when the US appears to be moving backward to a protectionist US market.  This puts US companies and farmers at a distinct cost disadvantage because it means US exports cannot compete on a level playing field, by Trump’s choice

Lighthizer’s and Trump’s answer to trade problems is simply to put up one more brick and build the protectionist wall higher against imports.  If Ms. Ingraham wants a history lesson, I suggest she look at two countries—recently Japan and less recently China, who followed that same strategy.  In the 1980’s when I was at the ITC and Commerce, the big trade target was Japan.  Having worked in Japan I knew that it had numerous non-tariff trade barriers, which blocked many US exports.  Then in the early 1990s Japan’s economy imploded and it entered into the lost decades in large part because of its own trade policy, which explains why Prime Minister Abe wants the TPP.

China also did exactly what Laura Ingraham is proposing.  China closed down and its economy took a nose dive and went back to the Dark Ages.   It took Deng Xiaoping and later Zhu Rongyi to open up China.  China grew not because of the United States, but because it opened its economy up as it was in China’s economic interest to do so.  Many US companies have joint ventures in China.  When GM was having economic problems in the Obama Administration, the one part of the company it was trying to save was its China operations because the GM Buick was the number one selling car in China.  If the US shuts down, it too like China will go back to the dark ages.

Essentially, Trump appears to be adopting the mercantilist trade policies that he has condemned.  With its focus on trade deficits in manufacturing, Trump’s trade policy appears to be that the only trade deals we want are those where the US has a trade surplus.  That is not the way the World works.

THE TRADE WEAKNESS IN DONALD TRUMP’S ECONOMIC POLICY—THE COSTS OF NOT DOING THE TRADE DEALS

As stated in my last blog post, President Trump dropped the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, has made noises about dropping the US Korea agreement and is on the verge of killing the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) with Mexico and Canada.

During the time when the TPP was being discussed in Congress, its passage was in trouble because many Senators and Congressmen believe the US did not get enough.  Senator Orin Hatch wanted more on biologics and other Senators and Congressmen wanted a a better deal.

But the big problem at the Trump Presidential and Congressional level with regards to these trade agreements was and is the failure to calculate the cost of not doing these trade agreements or of terminating them.  Keep in mind the only party that is more protectionist than Donald Trump is the Democrats.  Also with Steve Bannon’s attacks on “establishment” Republicans, free traders in the Republican party are becoming few and far between.

The Bannon and Trump approach reveal fatal misunderstandings.  Steve Bannon and Donald Trump have not figured out one important point: Not only do companies compete against each other and States compete against each other, but the United States and other countries compete against each other.  The US decision to go the Protectionist route means it has given up competing and has created an open road for the economic competitors of US, including EC, China, Mexico, Canada, Australia and other countries, who are all moving in to replace US exports in those markets.  Trump’s and Bannon’s policy combined with the Democrat’s protectionist policies mean the US will lose the economic war because of the US failure to compete in the international economic marketplace.

The arrogance of the Steve Bannon and the Trump trade policy is based on the principle that the United States is the largest market in the World, and this gives the US leverage and, therefore, countries must kowtow and bend their head to get into the US market.  Although that principle may have been true twenty years ago, it is simply no longer true.

The Trans Pacific Partnership, for example, combines the markets of 12 countries, now 11 with the US exit, into one “huge” trading block.  Since Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are part of that block, the TPP market is a much larger market than the US alone.

Also in many ways, with 1.37 billion people China has a larger market than the US.  In 2006, at a speech in Beijing, the US Commercial Attaché stated that 75% of all Chinese, including rural Chinese, have a color television set.  Now that is close to 95% of 1.37 billion.  That is a larger market than the US with its 323 million.

But it is the costs of terminating the TPP deal, which are becoming much more clear.

As stated in my last newsletter, the ox that will be gored by Trump’s trade policy is agriculture and that is just what is happening.  Mexico and Canada are also in a stronger trade position than the US because they already have free trade agreements with a number of other countries, including the EC, and that gives them a substantial competitive advantage getting into those markets.  This fact gives Canada and Mexico leverage in the NAFTA negotiations even though Trump, Lighthizer and Ross simply do not understand the dynamics of the deal.

In that blog post, I quoted extensively from the attache August 7, 2017 article entitled “Trump’s Trade Pullout Roils Rural America”, Trump’s Trade Pullout Roils Rural America – POLITICO Magazine.  To summarize some of the points in that Politico article:

for the already struggling agricultural sector, the sprawling 12- nation TPP, covering 40 percent of the world’s economy, was a lifeline. It was a chance to erase punishing tariffs that restricted the United States—the onetime “breadbasket of the world”—from selling its meats, grains and dairy products to massive importers of foodstuffs such as Japan and Vietnam.

The decision to pull out of the trade deal has become a double hit on places like Eagle Grove. The promised bump of $10 billion in agricultural output over 15 years, based on estimates by the U.S. International Trade Commission, won’t materialize. But Trump’s decision to withdraw from the pact also cleared the way for rival exporters such as Australia, New Zealand and the European Union to negotiate even lower tariffs with importing nations, creating potentially greater competitive advantages over U.S. exports.

A POLITICO analysis found that the 11 other TPP countries are now involved in a whopping 27 separate trade negotiations with each other, other major trading powers in the region like China and massive blocs like the EU. Those efforts range from exploratory conversations to deals already signed and awaiting ratification. Seven of the most significant deals for U.S. farmers were either launched or concluded in the five months since the United States withdrew from the TPP.. . .

In other words, the entire World is moving in the direction of President Ronald Reagan to a more open free trading market, which would have benefitted US companies greatly.  The US is following Trump’s trade policy and moving backward to a more closed protectionist market.

The article went on to state the numerous free trade agreements being negotiated by the other countries in the TPP and now those Agreements are putting US farmers at a distinct disadvantage.  EC pork farmers, which already exports as much pork to Japan as the United States does, have an advantage of up to $2 per pound over U.S. exporters. European wine producers, who sold more than $1 billion to Japan between 2014 and 2016, have a 15 percent tariff advantage over U.S. exporters.

When Donald Trump pulled out of the TPP, Japan turned around and offered the same deal to the EC, which the United States had spent two excruciating years extracting from Japanese trade officials.  The United States is now left out.

Four Latin-American countries—Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia, known as the Pacific Alliance are opening negotiations with New Zealand, Australia and Singapore.

Australia is selling beef at a lower price than the US to Japan.  Without the TPP, Australian ranchers eventually will enjoy a 19 percent tariff advantage over U.S. competitors.

With the TPP, economic forecasts already show projected gains for countries involved. Canada, according to one estimate, could permanently gain an annual market share of $412 million in beef and $111 million in pork sales to Japan by 2035, because lower tariffs would enable it to eclipse America’s position in the market.

Over the first five months of 2017, U.S. exports to Japan of chilled pork, which is preferable to frozen meat, are up 2 percent over the previous year. But exports of chilled pork from Canada, a prime competitor, are up 19 percent. Likewise, in frozen pork, U.S. exports are up 28 percent. But exports from the EU, the leading competitor, are up 44 percent.

Now there are more indicators that Canada, Mexico and Japan are turning away from US imports because of the Trump protectionist positions.

COSTS OF PULLNG OUT OF NAFTA AND TPP

CANADA

In an October 16, 2017 article in the Globe and Mail, “Canada must prepare for life after NAFTA” former Canadian trade negotiator Gordon Ritchie stated:

“The Canadian government (as well as the provinces, business and labour) is now forced to contemplate life without a free-trade agreement.  While this is far from a preferred choice, it would not be the end of the world. In the absence of a bilateral agreement, the most-favored-nation rules of the World Trade Organization would apply and offer many of the same protections. Tariffs would be restored, but at a much lower level than before the free-trade agreement, averaging roughly 3.5 per cent on shipments to the United States. Unquestionably, existing economic linkages would be put under stress but most would survive. This is clearly not the option the Canadian government would prefer but it could be better than what is currently on offer from the Trump administration.

Meanwhile, the impact on U.S. businesses would be just as severe if not more so. In an unprecedented statement, the U.S. chamber of commerce, the broadest and perhaps most influential business lobby, came out strongly against dismantling NAFTA, which it earlier estimated underpinned about 12 million American jobs.”

MEXICO

On October 16, 2017 in an article entitled “Mexico Braces for the Possible Collapse of Nafta”, the New York Time reported:

“Mexico is steeling itself for the increasing possibility that the United States will pull out of the North American Free Trade Agreement, envisioning how the Mexican economy would adapt without the deal that has guided relations between the neighbors for a quarter-century. .  .

President Enrique Peña Nieto recently traveled to China to discuss trade, among other issues; Mexico is a member of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade accord.

Already new suppliers are emerging. In December, Argentina is expected to deliver 30,000 tons of wheat, its first sale ever to Mexico. Crisp Chilean apples have begun to appear on Mexico’s supermarket shelves, next to piles of apples from Washington State. . . .

Still, the question is what a post-Nafta economy would look like. The Mexican government’s view is that the United States market would remain largely open.

Without Nafta, American duties on Mexican goods would revert to levels set by the World Trade Organization.

The figures vary, although the average is estimated to be about 3 percent for manufactured products. Cars assembled in Mexico, for example, would pay a duty of 2.5 percent.

“Do we like those duties? No. Can we live with them? Yes,” said Luis de la Calle, a former trade negotiator for Mexico. “The integration of Mexico, the United States and Canada will continue regardless of the governments. . . .

If tariffs rise, one possible effect could be that companies move more production from the United States to Mexico to reduce the number of parts requiring duty payments.

The other risk is that companies move production to Asia, buying parts there instead of in North America, and paying a single duty when the finished product enters the United States.

Ford Motor Company set the example this year. In January, it scrapped plans to build a factory in Mexico to produce the Focus, a small passenger car, a decision that won praise from Mr. Trump. But in June, the company announced that it would build a new Focus factory in China instead. . . .”

JAPAN

Despite Japanese noises of a bilateral trade agreement with the US after meetings with Vice President Pence, on October 15, 2017 in the attached article entitled “Japan exasperated by Trump’s trade policies”, Japan exasperated by Trump’s trade policies – POLITICO, Politico reported:

“As U.S. farmers suffer under high tariffs, Japanese officials are in no rush to cut a new trade deal with the United States.

TOKYO — Japanese officials are expressing growing frustration with the Trump administration’s economic policies, vowing to continue striking trade deals with other countries that undercut U.S. agricultural exports rather than seek a new trade agreement with the United States.

The frustration comes both from President Donald Trump’s harsh rhetoric on trade and from his pullout from the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Japan still hopes can provide a bulwark against China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific region.

Meanwhile, there is growing evidence that the failure of the TPP is taking a sharp toll on rural America. In August, the volume of U.S. sales of pork to Japan dropped by 9 percent year over year, a serious blow to farmers who had been preparing for a big increase in sales because of lower tariffs in the TPP.

Instead, other countries that export meats, grains and fruits have seized on their advantage over American growers and producers in the wake of the U.S. pullout from the TPP. And a new Reuters poll shows Trump’s favorability in rural America — once a great stronghold — dropped from 55 percent last winter to 47 percent in September. The poll also showed a plunge in support for Trump’s trade agenda among rural voters. . . .

in interviews with POLITICO, more than half a dozen senior Japanese officials said they were uneasy with a so-called bilateral — two-nation — deal to replace the TPP, arguing that the goal of the multinational agreement was to create a wide international playing field. They said they are dismayed by Trump’s seeming inability to understand the importance of a multinational pact to establish U.S. leadership in the region and set the trade rules for nations on both sides of the Pacific Ocean as a counterweight to China’s rising influence.

“Our prime minister has made it quite clear that we respect the U.S. decision. … That is our official position, but I think withdrawal from TPP is very wrong,” said one senior official. “Honestly, it has diminished many of things that the U.S. has achieved in the region.”

In response, Japan has continued negotiating with American trade competitors, striking a political deal on a landmark free-trade agreement with the European Union in July while continuing to work toward closing a deal with the 11 remaining members of the TPP. In interviews, the senior Japanese officials made clear their ultimate goal is to persuade the United States to rejoin the TPP.

“In the conduct of our affairs with the United States, we need to have leverage,” said one former senior Japanese Cabinet official. “In order for us to convince the U.S., we need to have our own leverage, and our own leverage needs to be free-trade agreements [with U.S. competitors].”

There are some signs the Japanese strategy is working. Republicans in Congress, many of whom were TPP supporters, are expressing impatience with the administration and a conviction that U.S. agricultural industries are suffering because of tensions unleashed by the TPP pullout.

“We cannot allow much more time to lapse in creating opportunities to have other agreements, and especially when you look at Japan,” said Rep. Dave Reichert of Washington state, chairman of the House Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee, as his panel wrapped up a hearing last week on trade opportunities in the Asia Pacific region.

Trump himself has shown no sign of second- guessing his pullout from the TPP, which he described in an interview with Forbes magazine this month as “a great honor.”

“I consider that a great accomplishment, stopping that. And there are many people that agree with me,” he said. “I like bilateral deals.” .  . . .

Perdue’s comments came amid growing frustration in the farm belt. U.S. producers expect to continue losing market share in meat exports to other countries, even as domestic production reaches an all-time high, until something is done to address high import tariffs on the other side of the Pacific. Japan remains the top market for U.S. beef, and exports are up 22 percent from a year ago, but the impact of a recent hike in tariffs on frozen beef from 38.5 percent to 50 percent — a move that would have been avoidable if the TPP had been in force — will soon be felt, the U.S. Meat Export Federation predicts. The volume of pork exports of pork to Japan, the leading market for the U.S. in terms of value, dropped by 9 percent in August year over year. . . .

But Japan is in no rush to do so, according to the interviews with senior Japanese officials, who suggested that their country’s frustrations with the Trump administration are vast. . . .

For the ever-powerful career officials who sit in the unadorned buildings lining the leafy streets of Tokyo’s government district, there is one concern about the U.S. president that overrides all others: Trump’s determination to measure the effectiveness of trade deals in terms of which side sells more to the other.

Indeed, there are many people in the United States who share the view that free trade grows the global pie, with competition serving to promote efficiency and let countries take advantage of their own assets — such as the vast farming sector in the center of the United States, which has no parallel in Japan. . . .

Trump’s view, backed up by “American first” rhetoric, presumes that countries are inherently competitors, and that there are clear winners and losers.

“We want to avoid the relationship turning into a zero-sum game,” said a senior Japanese official.

“Each country has its own policy objectives, but Japan does not see trade deficits or surplus as the only driving force for trade negotiations,” said another senior government official. “A rules-based system is very important.”

Thus, Japanese officials are watching closely as the Trump administration renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement through ongoing talks with Canada and Mexico. To support its America- first agenda, the administration is threatening to blow up the 23-year-old trade deal and unravel complex supply chains that have grown over the life of the pact.

“They’re watching NAFTA and, frankly, in East Asia, they’re saying if the United States is so stupid as to screw up its agreements with its continental powers in Canada and Mexico, what can we in East Asia expect from these guys?” said Robert Zoellick, who served as President George W. Bush’s chief trade negotiator and later as World Bank president. “That’s a realistic question.” . . .

The failure of the TPP is a subject of contention between the two men — because Japan not only risked its economic future in hopes of a multinational trade deal but also pinned much of its national security hopes on the deal.

The need to counter the growing clout of China is an all-consuming priority in Tokyo, and Japanese officials felt that with the TPP they were on the verge of a genuine breakthrough, tying the United States, Canada, Vietnam, Mexico, Chile and other large nations on both sides of the Pacific into an economic alliance greater than anything China could muster. . . .

Seeking to fill the void left by the TPP, China has accelerated the pursuit of its own mega-deal with other Asian nations, called the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, or RCEP.

The United States leaving TPP “created a vacuum in the region, that’s for sure,” the official said. “It’s why RCEP is gaining momentum. That is why the government is asking the U.S. to come back to the TPP. We keep continuing to say so.” . . .

“The Japanese government has no mind of going back to the table for a bilateral negotiation,” said another senior official. “TPP was risky for Abe; a bilateral will require an even bigger leap.”

AGRICULTURE

On September 11, 2017 in article in Bloomberg entitled, “Four Ways to Rebuild Consensus on Agricultural Trade, The U.S. is losing ground fast to global rivals in Asia”, two former US Senators Max Baucus and Richard Lugar stated that they had formed a new group, Farmers for Free Trade stating:

“The financial health of American farmers depends on trade. In what remains the “breadbasket of the world,” U.S. farmers export half of all major commodities they grow, contributing to a projected trade surplus of $20 billion this year alone and supporting millions of direct and indirect jobs. At a time when American farm incomes have been rapidly declining, trade is what’s helping to keep farmers, ranchers and many rural communities afloat.

Not so long ago, we served in Washington D.C. when these realities were well understood. It was a time when bipartisan support for opening new markets to our farmers was assumed and expected. As globalization took hold, we understood that trade agreements were our only tool to ensure that American wheat, soy or beef could out-compete other countries’ products vying for the same markets. It was a consensus that delivered for millions of American farmers. Today, that consensus has faded.

American agricultural trade is facing risks not seen in a generation. Public attitudes toward trade agreements have shifted as protectionist sentiment has grown. Threats of tariffs on U.S. trading partners invite the specter of retaliation. Meanwhile, our competitors plot to assume the mantle of global supplier the U.S. has long occupied.

We need to rebuild consensus on agriculture trade. It must be one that incorporates the position of American farmers; that reflects the needs of rural communities; that is echoed by state and local leaders, and that seeks to heal the deep fissures on trade in Washington D.C.

We believe that consensus can be built around four important steps.

First, we need to get off the sidelines and get back in the business of negotiating trade agreements. The U.S. currently does not have a single ongoing trade negotiation that gives our farmers access to the rapidly growing Asian market. Our absence in Asia means that China is quickly moving into the void with its own trade deals that outflank U.S. agricultural producers. One of those China-led deals, the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, involves 15 other Asia-Pacific countries with growing middle classes, many of whom are clamoring for the agricultural bounty the U.S. once supplied.

Meanwhile, agriculture powerhouses like Canada, New Zealand and Australia are cutting bilateral deals that provide preferential treatment for their commodities.

Take the example of beef. According to the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, as of this week, the U.S. has now lost out to Australia on more than $165 million in beef sales to Japan. That happened because Australia cut a trade deal with Japan in 2015, and we recently walked away from one.

These sharp competitive disadvantages are becoming the norm, and while it’s difficult to calculate all the untapped gains the U.S. has lost, the numbers are clear on how we reverse the trend. Since 2003, U.S. agricultural exports to countries we do have trade agreements with increased more than 136 percent.

Second, we need to remove the threat of retaliation against U.S. agriculture. Our trading partners are not novices when it comes to whom and what they retaliate against when the U.S. runs afoul of our international commitments. U.S. farmers are always target number one.

That is because our trading partners know it is the economic engine for so many states, and because the pain inflicted is immediate and acute.

For example, the last time Mexico retaliated against the U.S., their targets included everything from corn, to apples, to almonds and grapes. The Department of Agriculture estimated that those measures cost U.S. growers close to $1 billion in lost sales.

We know there are onerous trade practices that must be addressed through diplomacy and other mechanisms for setting disputes. But threatening our closest trading partners with blanket tariffs, border taxes or aggressive enforcement actions risks a trade war that would have no winners.

Third, we need to modernize NAFTA in a way doesn’t erode the enormous gains it has delivered for American farmers and ranchers. That means working to eliminate any remaining tariff and non-tariff barriers, simplifying packaging and labeling requirements, and improving agriculture opportunities through e-commerce platforms.

But it also means doing no harm to a pact that — according to the Farm Bureau — has resulted in an annual jump of agriculture exports from $8.9 billion in 1993 to $38 billion last year.

The Trump administration has a real opportunity to expand on those gains. They should do it quickly and thoughtfully so we can turn to the task of keeping pace with our competitors.

Finally, to rebuild consensus on trade, we need to organize and educate. We know there are officials in the administration and in Congress who understand the value of agricultural trade. Yet, recent trade debates have too often become a microcosm of our broader partisan politics.

To support this effort, we’re launching a bipartisan, not-for-profit organization called Farmers for Free Trade, to build a coalition of farmers, mayors and community leaders in congressional districts across the country. This isn’t only about the over 1 million U.S. jobs supported by agriculture trade, but also the secondary and tertiary jobs it creates in rural communities: from growers, harvesters, processors, and packagers to grain elevator operators, railroad workers, truck drivers and port operators.

Rebuilding consensus on trade begins in the heartland and capitalizes on the great strength of American farmers and ranchers. If we can do that, America wins.”

U.S. ANTI-TRADE STANCE AIDS EU

Meanwhile who benefits from the US decision to turn toward protectionism, other countries and the EU.  Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission’s vice president for jobs, growth, investment and competitiveness recently stated:

“We are willing to negotiate with third countries all the time – it’s part of our economic strategy. And now we have seen that many countries have been concerned about rising protectionism and entities which undermine the multilateral system, so they have been contacting us.”

The Wall Street Journal article below outlines the negative impact of terminating NAFTA on the US automobile industry.

US CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

Instead of listening to the protectionist steel industry and the unions, maybe it is time for the Trump Administration to listen to the winners in the Trade World.  On October 10, 2017, in Mexico City, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President Tom Donohue spoke out against the Trump administration’s approach to negotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he said has been riddled with “unnecessary and unacceptable” poison pill proposals from the U.S. side.  As Donohue stated:

“All of these proposals are unnecessary and unacceptable.  They have been met with strong opposition from the business and agricultural communities, congressional trade leaders, the Canadian and Mexican governments, and even other U.S. agencies. Ladies and gentlemen, we’ve reached a critical moment, and the Chamber has had no choice but ring the alarm bells.

“[NAFTA withdrawal] would abruptly slam the door on future negotiations because those governments have made it very clear they won’t negotiate with a gun to their head.  The United States could then reasonably expect trade retaliation … higher tariffs … broken supply chains … and potentially less cooperation on other priorities like anti-terrorism and anti-narcotics efforts.”

Donohue specifically criticized the foolish reliance on the need for the agreement to reduce the U.S. trade deficit:

“The business community, along with any economist worth his or her salt, has repeatedly explained that the trade balance is not only the wrong way to measure who’s ‘winning’ on trade, it’s the wrong focus, and is impossible to achieve without crippling the economy.”

NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS HAVE STALLED

On August 16th, United States, Canada and Mexico sat down together for the first round of talks to formally reopen NAFTA.  On July 17th, the USTR released its attached “Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation”, USTR NAFTA RENGOTIATION OBJECTIVES:

On October 18th, Politico reported that the NAFTA negotiations are at a standstill as Canada and Mexico have rejected the strident US proposals and potentially insurmountable disagreements on areas ranging from auto rules of origin to dairy market access and a sunset provision. The next round is to start on November 17th in Mexico.

At the closing press conference, the Canadian and Mexican trade ministers attacked the United States for making impractical demands and an overall unwillingness to compromise.

US Robert Lighthizer responded:

“Frankly, I am surprised and disappointed by the resistance to change from our negotiating partners. As difficult as this has been, we have seen no indication that our partners are willing to make any changes that will result in a rebalancing and a reduction in these huge trade deficits.

We have seen no indication that our partners are willing to accept any change that will result in a rebalacing and a reduction in these huge trade deficits.  Now I understand that after many years of one-sided benefits, their companies have become reliant on special preferences and not just comparative advantage. Countries are reluctant to give up unfair advantages.”

In a press briefing in his private conference room, Lighthizer later stated that his primary goal is to reduce the trade deficit and:

“take away what I consider to be in many cases artificial incentives to encourage investment overseas that are not market based. If we get that right, we’ll have an agreement that the president will be enthused about and at that point if the president is enthused, I think the Congress will be enthused.”

Lighthizer has also argued that NAFTA is just frosting on the cake for major corporations:

“I think it’s possible to take a little of the sugar away and have them say, ‘Yeah we’re still doing pretty well.  I understand that everybody that’s making money likes the rules the way that they are. That’s how it works and they can make a little less money or make more money in a different way and we can get the trade deficit down and we can also have what I consider at least in the investment realm to be a market-based investment decision. I think if we do that business will be fine, and if we do that labor will come along and say this is a step in the right direction and it’s worth changing the paradigm in doing that.”

On October 16, 2017, in an article entitled Trump’s NAFTA Threat”, the Wall Street Journal made the opposing argument.

“Donald Trump is threatening again to terminate the North American Free Trade Agreement if Canada and Mexico don’t agree to his ultimatums.

If this is a negotiating tactic of making extreme demands only to settle for much less and claim victory, maybe it will work. Otherwise Mr. Trump is playing a game of chicken he is playing a game of chicken that he can’t win

Mr. Trump’s obsession with undoing Nafta threatens the economy he has so far managed rather well. The roaring stock market, rising GDP and tight job market are signs that deregulation and the promise of tax reform are restoring business and consumer confidence. Blowing up Nafta would blowup all that too. It could be the worst economic mistake by a U.S. President since Richard Nixon trashed Bretton-Woods and imposed wage and price controls.

U.S. demands in the Nafta renegotiations­ which returned to Washington last week-are growing more bizarre. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer now wants to add a sunset clause, which would automatically kill it in five years unless all three governments agree to keep it. In other words, the U.S. proposes to increase economic uncertainty and raise the incentive for businesses to deploy capital to more reliable investment climates.

The U.S. also wants to change Nafta’s “rules of origin” for autos. Cars now made in North America can cross all three borders duty-free if 62.5% of their content is Nafta-made. Mr. Lighthizer wants to raise that to 85% and add a sub­ clause requiring 50% be made in the U.S.

Mr. Lighthizer needs to get out more. Nafta’s current rules-of-origin for autos are already the highest of any trade agreement in the world, says John Murphy of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. Raising them would give car makers an incentive to source components from Asia and pay America’s low 2.5% most -favored-nation tariff. A higher-content rule would hurt Mexico, but it won’t bring jobs to the U.S

It’s hard to overstate the damage that ending Nafta would inflict on the U.S. auto industry. Under Nafta, companies tap the comparative advantages of all three markets and have created an intricate web of supply chains to maximize returns. As Charles Uthus at the American Automotive Policy Council said last week, Nafta “brings scale, it brings competitiveness, it brings efficiencies [and] synergies between all three countries, and it brings duty-free trade.” Its demise would be “basically a $10 billion tax on the auto industry in America.”

Last week the Boston Consulting Group also released a study sponsored by the Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association that found ending Nafta could mean the loss of 50,000 American jobs in the auto-parts industry as Mexico and Canada revert to pre­ Nafta tariffs.

Mexico has elections next year and no party that bows to unreasonable demands by Mr. Trump can win. The Mexican political class appears willing to call his bluff, which is making American business very nervous. More than 300 state and local chambers of commerce signed an Oct. 10 letter to Mr. Trump imploring him to “first ‘do no harm’ in the Nafta negotiations.”

It noted that 14 million American jobs rely on North American daily trade of more than $3.3 billion. “The U.S. last year recorded a trade surplus _o f $11.9 billion with its NAFTA partners when manufactured goods and services are combined,” the letter said. “Among the biggest beneficiaries of this commerce are America’s small and medium-sized businesses, 125,000 of which sell their goods and services to Mexico and Canada.”

Ending Nafta would be even more painful for U.S. agriculture, whose exports to Canada and Mexico have quadrupled under Nafta to $38 billion in 2016. Reverting to Mexico’s pre-Nafta tariff schedule, duties would rise to 75% on American chicken and high-fructose corn syrup; 45% on turkey, potatoes and various dairy products; and 15% on wheat. Mexico doesn’t have to buy American, and last week it made its first wheat purchase from Argentina-30,000 tons for December delivery.

Canada and Mexico know that ending Nafta will hurt them, but reverting to pre-Nafta tariff levels could hurt the U.S. more. Mr. Trump can hurt our neighbors if he wants, but the biggest victims will be Mr. Trump’s voters.”

On October 16, 2017, in an article entitled “Trump Trying To Destroy NAFTA with Pin Pricks Instead Of A Sledgehammer” John Brinkley at Forbes outlined the US demands in the NAFTA negotiations and why they are being rejected:

“It appears increasingly likely that NAFTA is headed for the trash heap. People involved in the re-negotiation of the 23-year-old trade pact are pessimistic about its chances for survival, because the Trump administration seems bent on causing its death by 1,000 cuts.

An inexplicable aspect of this is that there is no constituency in the United States for NAFTA’s termination.

Not even the most fervent NAFTA-haters — e.g., the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch, and Democratic House members from Rust Belt states — have demanded the death of NAFTA. Businesses large and small, farmers and ranchers, mayors of most American cities and most members of Congress want NAFTA to stay in force. No one of note has said NAFTA has to go. So, whose interests is President Trump trying to protect?

It’s clear that what he would like to do is simply withdraw from the agreement, which he can easily do by providing Canada and Mexico six months’ notice in writing. But instead, his negotiators have tabled several proposals – poison pills would be a more apt description – that they know the Canadians and Mexicans won’t accept. This will allow Trump to blame them for NAFTA’s demise.

“Issues are being put on the table that are practically absurd,” former Mexican   Jaime Serra told Reuters during the fourth round of talks, which ended Sunday. “I don’t know if these are poison pills, or whether it’s a negotiating position or whether they really believe they’re putting forward sensible things.”

Here are four of them:

A sunset provision that would automatically terminate NAFTA after five years unless all three countries vote to keep it in force.

Deletion of NAFTA Chapter 19, which allows parties to defend themselves against dumping and illegal subsidies by one another.

A so-called opt-in provision to NAFTA’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) chapter.

A change to automotive rules of origin that would make it more difficult for Canada and Mexico to export cars to the United States.

Let’s look briefly at each of these.

A five-year sunset clause would add so much uncertainty to NAFTA’s future that businesses in all three countries would be reluctant to plan and invest with regard to cross-border trade. It would also trigger a renegotiation of NAFTA every five years.

Scrapping Chapter 19 would end 23 years of fairness and equality in the way the three NAFTA parties pursue anti-dumping and illegal subsidy cases. Conservative opponents of Chapter 19 say it impinges on U.S. sovereignty by requiring the government to adhere to a supranational system. That is an argument based on principle. It has no practical merit.

ISDS allows a private company operating in a foreign country to challenge an action by that country’s government that hurts the company. Allowing one country to opt in or out of ISDS would be like allowing a driver who is pulled over for speeding to opt out of having to obey the law against speeding – sorry, officer, I have my own speed limit and it’s higher than yours.

NAFTA requires that 62.5% of the content of NAFTA-built cars and light trucks originate in the U.S. if those vehicles are to be exported duty-free to the U.S. The Trump administration wants to raise that to 80%. This is a purely protectionist measure that would raise the price of cars sold in the United States, including those made here.

The governments of Mexico and Canada vehemently oppose these proposals and others the administration has presented. But Trump has said, no problem, if the NAFTA renegotiations don’t work out, he’s willing to negotiate separate bilateral free trade agreements with the two countries.

It’s apparent that what he really wants is to get rid of Mexico. He has said most illegal Mexican immigrants were rapists and murderers, vowed to build a wall along the Mexican border, threatened to invade the country to rid it of some unspecified “bad hombres,” and threatened to impose a 20% border tax.

And we’re to believe that he wants to sit down with the Mexican government and negotiate a free trade agreement in good faith?

Yeah, right.”

TRUMP THREATS ARE NOT WORKING WITH THE US SOUTH KOREA TRADE AGREEMENT

Meanwhile, South Korean Trade Minister Kim Hyun-chong recently indicated that Seoul is willing to let President Donald Trump kill the pact, rather than bow to unreasonable U.S. demands for concessions to bring bilateral trade more into balance.

Kim also stated that cutting trade ties with South Korea will only push the country, as a matter of necessity, economically closer to China, the source said.

US ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES BECOME MORE POLITICAL

Recently there has been a distinct difference in the antidumping and countervailing duty area.  Friends have told me that internally at Commerce all countervailing duty and antidumping duty determinations go to the Secretary’s office of his personal review.  That was not true when I was at the Commerce Department during the Reagan Administration.

Countervailing duty and antidumping determinations are legal proceedings that are subject to Court review.  The Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit can overturn as not based on substantial evidence on the record if there is not a factual underpinning for the Commerce Department decisions.

If politics become a large part of the case, that is a reason for the Court to overturn Commerce decisions as arbitrary and capricious and not based on substantial evidence on the record.

Every time Commerce issues a determination in an antidumping and countervailing duty case, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross makes a personal statement.  When the Countervailing Duty preliminary determination of 212% in the Bombardier Civil Aircraft case was issued, Secretary Ross stated:

“The U.S. values its relationships with Canada, but even our closest allies must play by the rules.  The subsidization of goods by foreign governments is something that the Trump Administration takes very seriously, and we will continue to evaluate and verify the accuracy of this preliminary determination.”

In past newsletters, I have argued that Commerce is a hanging judge in AD and CVD determinations finding dumping and subsidization in close to 100 percent of the cases.  But in contrast to a China case, where Commerce uses fake numbers, in a market economy case against Canada, for example, Commerce is to use actual domestic prices and costs to determine dumping and actual government payments to determine subsidization in the case and actual commercial values in that country to value them.  Thus, in counseling foreign companies in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, if they are in market economy countries, I tell them that they can use computer programs to run their numbers and make sure that they are not dumping.  Also companies can usually figure out whether they have taken subsidies from the Government.

As indicated in the Article about the Bombardier/Civil Aircraft case below, however, although the AD and CVD rates were very high at 219% and 79%, Commerce did give reasoned decisions as to how it calculated those high rates.

NO SYMPATHY FOR BOMBARDIER IN BOEING FIGHT.

Just before the countervailing duty preliminary determination in the Civil Aircraft from Canada case, I was interviewed by BBC radio and by various investment companies asking me for my views on the case.  During those interviews, I emphasized that the US countervailing duty and antidumping cases against Canada were legal proceedings and that the Commerce Department’s preliminary determinations were normal operating procedure pursuant to the US antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) law.  The Commerce Department must follow the statutory requirements of the AD and CVD law, and these preliminary determinations were not political decisions.  They were legal decisions made pursuant to the law and the statutory deadlines in those laws.

With all the political arguments from both the Canadian and UK Governments in the wind, during those interviews, however, I also suggested the case could result in a negotiated suspension government to government agreement, much like happened in the Canadian Lumber case.  After the CVD preliminary determination, USTR Lighthizer also mentioned the possibility of a government to government negotiated deal in the Bombardier case.

But then Commerce issued a preliminary CVD rate of 219.63%.  Immediately the Canadian government complained about the unfairness of the decision, and the UK government threatened a trade war with the US because Bombardier has a production plant in Northern Ireland.

Commerce issued the very high CVD rate as indicated in the attached Commerce Department’s Issue and Decision Memo, 2017.09.26 Aircraft Prelim I&D Memo, because of the massive equity infusion of $1 billion by the Quebec Government directly into Bombardier, making it in effect a state-owned company, much like the Chinese state-owned companies.

The entire purpose of the US CVD law and CVD laws in general is that private companies should not have to compete in commercial markets against the Government and that is just what has happened.

Although the argument is made that Boeing is financed by its military sale of airplanes to the US government, Boeing itself is a publicly traded company on the New York stock exchange and certainly has not received $1 billion in a direct equity infusion into the company by a Government to finance its production operations.

But then Bombardier seriously damaged its own chances for a negotiated government to government suspension agreement because Commerce issued an antidumping preliminary determination of 79.82% antidumping rate based on All Facts Available (“AFA”) because Bombardier refused to provide sales information regarding its contracts with Delta and Air Canada and cost information.

Essentially an AFA rate is a penalty for a respondent refusing to cooperate in the Commerce Department’s investigation.  The Canadian Government would have reached an identical decision in the Antidumping Case if a a respondent refused to provide requested information in its questionnaire response.  The EC takes the same position. If a respondent refuses to cooperate in EC antidumping and countervailing duty cases, the EC will use all facts available.

I firmly believe that because of the decision not to cooperate with Commerce, the Trump Administration will refuse to do a suspension agreement in this case.  Commerce will not reward bad behavior in AD cases.  A company cannot refuse to cooperate with Commerce and give them the information they need to make a decision and then expect Commerce to give it a political deal.

Also the UK threat of a trade war indicates an ignorance of how AD and CVD law works, which is understandable because all AD and CVD cases in the EC are handled in Brussels.  As stated above, these preliminary determinations were legal determinations under the US AD and CVD law, which are based on the WTO Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Agreements and agreed to by all countries in the WTO, including Canada, the EC and through the EC, the UK.

Bombardier argued that it could not provide the sales information because the airplanes had not been exported to the US.  As indicated in the attached AFA memo, ANTIDUMPING AFA BOMBARDIER, the US Antidumping Law, which is based on the WTO Antidumping Agreement, covers “sales” and in the absence of sales offers for sale.  As the AFA Memo states:

Additionally, section 772 of the Act defines export price and constructed export price as the price at which merchandise under consideration is first sold or agreed to be sold. Moreover, 773(a)(1)(B) of the Act states that normal value is the price at which:

the foreign like product is first sold (or, in the absence of a sale, offered for sale) for consumption in the exporting country, in the usual commercial quantities and in the ordinary course of trade and, to the extent practicable, at the same level of trade as the export price or constructed export price.

In addition, as previously mentioned, under 19 CFR 351.102(b)(43), the term “sale” includes a contract to sell. Furthermore, a Ways and Means Committee report describes the reason for amending the countervailing duty law, along the lines of what already existed in the antidumping duty law, to make clear that the Department could initiate countervailing duty cases and render determinations in situations where actual importation had not yet occurred but a sale for importation had been completed or was imminent. The House Report explained that “{a}ntidumping law has, since its inception, applied not only to imports, but to sales or likely sales. This report additionally explained that the amendment (including the phrase “or sold (or likely to be sold) for importation” in section 701(a) of the Act) was “particularly important in cases involving large capital equipment, where loss of a single sale can cause immediate economic harm and where it may be impossible to offer meaningful relief if the investigation is not initiated until after importation takes place.” This logic described in the House Report is relevant in this antidumping duty investigation as well. For these reasons, the Department appropriately requested information related to Bombardier’s purchase contracts for merchandise under investigation in the United States and the home market.

According to Commerce, Bombardier only submitted arguments in response to sections B through D of the questionnaire.  It did not provide the facts to support those arguments.  Under US AD law, however, Commerce Department decisions and respondent’s arguments have to be based on the facts on the Administrative Record.  When there are no facts, Commerce will use All Facts Available.

Through intermediaries, I have been told that Bombardier refused to release that information to Commerce because of fear it would be released to Boeing.  If that is true, it reveals the failure of Bombardier’s outside lawyers to discuss how Commerce Department Administrative Protective Orders work in AD and CVD cases.  Under US AD and CVD law, only outside counsel, not Boeing’s inside counsel, are granted access to Bombardier information and if those outside lawyers reveal that information to Boeing, they can be disbarred.  Trade counsel in the US take very seriously the APO requirements under the US AD and CVD Law.  In addition, Bombardier’s outside counsel has had access to Boeing’s confidential information under Administrative Protective at the US International Trade Commission so there is simply no sympathy for Bombardier’s arguments.

Finally, the latest news is that Bombardier is asking Airbus to take a majority share in its production of C Series Aircraft and Airbus will shift the production to Mobile, Alabama to get out of the case.  Boeing has argued that Boeing’s move will not have an effect on the case because any orders issued will cover parts.

But that is not quite correct.  The jurisdiction in AD and CVD cases is in rem over the things, products, being imported into the US.  So the critical issue is how did Boeing describe the products to be covered by the case and that are in the Scope of the Merchandise Section in the Federal Register notice issued by the Commerce Department.

The Scope of the Merchandise Section in the Federal Register notice states that the AD and CVD orders will cover imports of:

“aircraft, regardless of seating configuration, that have a standard 100- to 150-seat two-class seating capacity and a minimum 2,900 nautical mile range, as these terms are defined below. . . .

The scope includes all aircraft covered by the description above, regardless of whether they enter the United States fully or partially assembled, and regardless of whether, at the time of entry into the United States, they are approved for use by the FAA.”

The scope does not include “parts thereof” language so the real question is whether Customs will consider any parts imported into the United States to be “partially assembled” civil aircraft.

The key point is that the desperate measure to joint venture with Airbus, however, means Bombardier has given up on a government to government Suspension Agreement to settle the case.  I suspect Bombardier will have major problems going forward.

SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE

On May 17, 2017, Suniva filed a Section 201 Escape Clause against all Solar Cell imports from all countries at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  On May 23, 2017, in the attached Federal Register notice, ITC iNITIATION NOTICE SOLAR CELLS, the ITC decided to go ahead and institute the case.

The ITC had to determine whether “crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) cells (whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products) are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or the threat thereof, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported articles.”

The ITC reached an affirmative injury determination in the case on September 22, 2017, and now it has entered a remedy phase on which remedy to recommend to the President.

The Commission will issue its report to the President on November 13, 2017 and the President within 60 days must decide whether or not to impose import relief, which can be in the form of increased tariffs, quotas or an orderly marketing agreements.

Although the ITC remedy phase is important, the real remedy will be determined by President Donald Trump with the assistance of the USTR after November 13th.

On October 3, 2017, the ITC held a hearing in the remedy phase.  The proposed remedies from the parties are:

The petitioners, Suniva and SolarWorld Americas, in their public briefs, proposed two remedies: a tariff plus a price floor for solar cells, or a tariff plus a quota. The two companies agree that the commission should choose one.

The Solar Energy Industries Association, the users coalition, along with solar producer SunPower, argued that a tariff will result in the loss of 62,800 jobs in 2018 and 80,000 jobs in later years. Tariffs will simply increase the price of panels, which will kill solar projects. SEIA in its brief also argued that if tariffs are imposed, the big winner will be Arizona-based thin-film manufacturer First Solar, which does much of its manufacturing in Malaysia.

At the hearing, Suniva and SolarWorld requested a 32-cent-per-watt tariff on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells.  Suniva continued to push for a price floor on solar panels of 74 cents per watt, while SolarWorld wants a quota on imported cells and panels to cap import supply; both support each other’s idea in the alternative.  In its brief, Suniva stated:

“The crisis caused by foreign market overcapacity now facing the U.S. CSPV cell and module industry is so extreme, the financial losses so great, that, to be effective, any remedy … must be bold, extensive and multifaceted.  [A] strong and effective remedy is required to stop the industry’s bleeding, and then provide breathing space for this American-invented manufacturing technology to grow and thrive.”

But SEIA, which maintains that such trade barriers will devastate the entire U.S. solar industry by raising prices and crippling demand, says the two manufacturers are failing for internal and not external reasons and have asked for more help than the government can grant. Since the ITC must recommend a remedy by mid-November with Trump then to decide within 60 days, SEIA offers these alternatives: technical assistance and job training assistance from government agencies, and an import licensing fee to fund manufacturing growth.

The interesting point is that Suniva and Solar World failed to submit an adjustment plan to the ITC to show, in direct contrast to Harley Davidson, how they will adjust to import competition if they are given relief.

SEIA argued in its brief:

“The commission should rely on its trade policy expertise to create and recommend constructive advice instead of resorting to trade restraints.  Denying the existence of the tens of thousands of jobs that are at stake, denying the reality and importance of grid parity, and denying the domestic industry’s internal problems in favor of scapegoating imports will not help the industry or serve the national interest.”

TRUMP AND CHINA

But what about developments regarding trade with China, as indicated below new trade cases are being filed against China in the antidumping and countervailing duty area and for IP violations under Section 337.

During her speech mentioned above, Laura Ingraham argues that there is no remedy if imports come into the US that infringe US intellectual property rights.  That simply is not true.

Under Section 337, 19 USC 1337, Petitioners holding valid IP rights can filed a Section 337 case at the US ITC and after a year long proceeding, the ITC will issue an order excluding the infringing imports at the border.

In addition, if the imports infringe US trademarks or copyrights, Petitioner can go directly to Customs, which will exclude the infringing exports at the border.

In addition, if Chinese exports infringe US intellectual property rights, such as trademarks and copyrights, a US company can go directly to Chinese Customs and stop the export of infringing exports.

But with China’s decision to help on North Korea, I suspect that during Trump’s visit to China in November deals will be reached.  But as Charlene Barshefsky has indicated in her speech to the Wall Street Journal above, the real problem is China’s decision to close down areas to US investment and put up barriers to US imports.

In light of the US position in the NAFTA talks, we can expect the US to demand reciprocity.  Trump and Congress may well take the position that we will close off the US market to the Chinese investment in the same areas where China blocks US investment in.  The US should also consider closing off Chinese imports into sectors where the US cannot export into.  That is reciprocity.

There are many fights to come.

SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA ON FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS MOVES FORWARD

In the attached August 18th Federal Register notice based on an August 14th Presidential Memorandum, 301 INITIATION NOTICE, President Trump pulled the trigger on the Section 301 Intellection property case against China.  The Section 301 investigation could take a year and probably will lead to negotiations with the Chinese government on technology transfer.  If the negotiations fail, the US could take unilateral action, such as increasing tariffs, or pursue a case through the World Trade Organization.  Unilateral actions under Section 301, however, also risk a WTO case against the United States in Geneva.

The notice states that the USTR will specifically investigate the following specific types of conduct:

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

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

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

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

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) held a hearing on October 10th at the International Trade Commission.  During the October 10th hearing, only two US companies appeared to argue that their IP was stolen by Chinese government actions.  Juergen Stein, CEO of SolarWorld Americas stated that his company was a victim of Chinese “state-sponsored hacking and theft” while it was pursuing his AD and CVD cases against China.  Stein further stated that this “greatly weakened SolarWorld’s first-mover status, and again left SolarWorld vulnerable to China’s relentless effort to take over the U.S. solar industry through the sale of solar cells and panels below the cost of production,”

Just one other company, American Superconductor Corp., testified that it had been badly hurt by Chinese theft of its intellectual property.  The company accused a Chinese state-owned enterprise, Sinovel Wind Group, of stealing its intellectual property. AMSC has lost over $1.6 billion in company value and 70 percent of its workforce over the past six years as a result, AMSC President Daniel Patrick McGahn said.

“We believe that over 8,000 wind turbines – most owned by large Chinese utility state-owned enterprises – currently are operating on stolen AMSC IP I personally believe such actions should have consequences. The negative impact of Sinovel’s IP theft on the financial health of AMSC has been dramatic.”

A third company, ABRO Industries, said it had learned to work within the Chinese intellectual property protection system to address problems when they arise. William Mansfield, director of intellectual property at ABRO, also urged the Trump administration to refrain from rash action, stating, “The time for gunboat diplomacy is long since past.”

Acting Assistant USTR for China Terry McCartin, commenting on the dearth of business witnesses, said some companies had expressed concern “about retaliation or other harm to their businesses in China if they were to speak out in this proceeding.”

But as indicated in an article by Dan Harris, the problem may be that US companies on their own gave away their IP because of bad business decisions.  The US government cannot protect US companies from the consequences of bad business decisions.  See August 30, 2017 article by Dan Harris entitled “China-US Trade Wars and the IP Elephant in the Room”, on his China law blog at http://www.chinalawblog.com/2017/08/china-us-trade-wars-and-the-ip-elephant-in-the-room.html.

CHINA NME STATUS

On the question of China’s nonmarket economy status in AD and CVD cases, in light to the expiration of the 15-year deadline in the China-WTO Agreement on December 16, 2016 and a Chinese case in the WTO, the EU on October 3rd reached agreement with the European Council and Parliament to overhaul its antidumping procedures.  Pursuant to the Agreement, the EU will decide the issue on a case-by-case basis, leaving it up to the EU Government to determine whether a Chinese industry has demonstrated enough independent from the Chinese government.

In the announcement, the EU stated:

“The new legislation introduces a new methodology for calculating dumping margins for imports from third countries in case of significant market distortions, or a pervasive state’s influence on the economy.  The rules are formulated in a country- neutral way and in full compliance with the EU’s WTO obligations.”

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström further stated:

“Having a new methodology in place for calculating dumping on imports from countries which have significant distortions in their economies is essential to address the realities of today’s international trading environment. The commission has repeatedly stressed the importance of free but fair trade and the agreement today endorses that view.”

WINE FIGHT AGAINST BRITISH COLUMBIA AND CANADA

In the attached complaint filed by the United States against Canada on Wine, WTO WINE COMPLAINT, a case which is near and dear to my heart, on October 2, 2017 the Trump administration revived an Obama-era World Trade Organization case against Canadian rules that have allegedly kept U.S. wine off grocery store shelves in British Columbia, according to a WTO document circulated on Monday.

According to the US complaint:

“The BC wine measures provide advantages to BC wine through the granting of exclusive access to a retail channel of selling wine on grocery store shelves.  The BC measures appear to discriminate on their face against imported wine by allowing only BC wine to be sold on regular grocery store shelves while imported wine may be sold in grocery stores only through a so-called store within a store.”

According to prior statements from the government and the industry backing the case, many retailers in Canada have not taken the necessary steps to set up their “store within a store” to sell foreign wine, likely because of the high costs associated with controlled access and separate cash registers.

According to the complaint:

“These measures appear to be inconsistent with Canada’s obligations … because they are laws, regulations or requirements affecting the internal sale, offering for sale, purchase or distribution of wine and fail to accord products imported into Canada treatment no less favorable than that accorded to like products of Canadian origin.”

In the following months, Argentina, Australia, the European Union and New Zealand all asked to join the case, according to the World Trade Organization website.

USTR asserts the provincial regulations discriminate against imported wine because they only allow wine from British Columbia to be sold on regular grocery store shelves. In contrast, imported wine may only be sold in the province’s grocery stores through a so-called store within a store.

“British Columbia’s discriminatory regulations continue to be a serious problem for U.S. winemakers,” USTR spokeswoman Amelia Breinig said. “USTR is requesting new consultations to ensure that we can reach a resolution that provides U.S. wine exporters fair and equal access in British Columbia.”

In fact, BC Wine regulations are probably the most protectionist in the World, worse than China requiring the equivalent of an 80% tariff to sell imported wine.  BC protectionist measures on wine simply feed right into the Trump argument on NAFTA that it is not a free trade agreement.

SECTION 232 STEEL AND ALUMINUM CASES REMAIN STALLED

The Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases appear to have stalled for the time being.  No news on the Section 232 front raises the question what can be done for US Steel and Aluminum companies injured by imports without distorting the US market and expanding the problems.  Across the board tariffs on steel imports would create enormous collateral damage on the many US producers that use steel as a raw material input to produce downstream steel products.  Such a remedy would probably result in the loss of 100s of thousands of US job.

That is the problem with purely protectionist decisions.  They distort the US market and simply transfer the problems of the steel industry to other downstream industries.

But does that mean the US government should simply let the US Steel industry and other manufacturing industries die?  The election of Donald Trump indicates that politically that simply is not a viable option.

Although Joseph Schumpeter in his book Capitalism, Socialism and Demcracy coined the term “creative destructionism”, which conservatives and libertarians love to quote, they do not acknowledge the real premise of Schumpeter’s book that capitalism by itself could not long survive.  Schumpeter himself observed the collateral damage created by pure capitalism.

So what can be done for the steel and other manufacturing industries?  Answer work with the companies on an individual basis to help them adjust to import competition and compete in the markets as they exist today.  Moreover, there is already a government program, which can serve as a model to provide such a service—the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies Program.

What is the TAA for Companies secret sauce?  Making US companies competitive again.  Only by making US manufacturing companies competitive again will the trade problems really be solved.  US industry needs stop wallowing in international trade victimhood and to cure its own ills first before always blaming the foreigners.  That is exactly what TAA for Companies does—helps US companies cure their own ills first by making them competitive again.

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

As stated above, there is another more productive way to solve the Steel crisis and fix the trade problem and help US companies, including Steel and other companies, adjust to import competition.  This program has a true track record of saving US companies injured by imports.

This was a problem personally approved by President Ronald Reagan.  The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program does not put up barriers to imports.  Instead the TAA for Companies program works with US companies injured by imports on an individual basis to make them more competitive.  The objective of TAA for Companies is to save the company and by saving the company it saves the jobs that go with that company.

But as stated in the video below, for companies to succeed they must first give up the mentality of international trade victimhood.

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

Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.  To retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job is $50,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

But TAA for Companies has been cut to the bone.  On August 22, 2017, in the attached press release, US Commerce Department Announces $133 Million to Boost Competitiveness of US Ma, the U.S. Commerce Department announced $13.3 Million to Boost Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers.

Are such paltry sums really going to help solve the manufacturing crisis in the Steel and other industries?  Of course not!!

But when the program was originally set up, the budget was much larger at $50 to $100 million.  If the program was funded to its full potential, yes steel companies and other companies could be saved.

To those libertarian conservatives that reject such a program as interference in the market, my response is that this program was personally approved by your icon, President Ronald Reagan.  He understood that there was a price for free trade and avoiding protectionism and that is helping those companies injured by import competition.  But teaching companies how to be competitive is a much bigger bang for the buck than simply retraining workers.  And yes companies can learn and be competitive again in the US and other markets.

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

PTFE RESIN

On September 28, 2017, the Chemours Company FC LLC filed AD and CVD cases against imports of Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) Resin from China and India.

FORGED STEEL FITTINGS

On October 5, 2017, the Bonney Forge Corporation and the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union filed AD and CVD cases against imports of Forged Steel Fittings from China Italy and Taiwan.

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST US AND JAPAN

HYDRIOC ACID FROM THE US and JAPAN

On October 16, 2917, China Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) published the attached initiation notice of antidumping investigation against Hydriodic Acid from the USA and Japan, Initiation Notice_Hydriodic Acid_EN.  The alleged dumping margin on the US imports is 36.09% and Japanese imports is 41.18%

The Target companies in the US are: USA: Iofina Chemical, Inc.; IOCHEM Corporation and Ajay North America, LLC

The Target Companies in Japan are: SE Chemicals Corporation, NIPPOH CHEMICALS CO., LTD. and TOHO Earthtech, Inc.

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.2017.37 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.38 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.39 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.40

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

REUSABLE DIAPERS

On September 19, 2017, Cotton Babies, Inc filed a section 337 case against imports of Certain Reusable Diapers, Components Thereof, and Products Containing the Same.  The respondent companies named in the complaint are:

Alvababy.com, China; Shenzhen Adsel Trading Co., Ltd.d/b/a Alva, China; and Huizhou Huapin Garment Co., Ltd., China.

AMORPHOUS METALS

On September 19, 2017, Metglas, Inc. and Hitachi Metal, Ltd. filed a section 337 case against imports of amorphous metals and products containing same.  The named respondents in the case are:

Advance Technology & Materials, China; AT&M International Trading Co., Ltd., China; CISRI International Trading Co., Ltd., China; Beijing ZLJG Amorphous Technology Co., Ltd., China; Qingdao Yunlu Energy Technology Co., Ltd., China; Dr. Hideki Nakamura, Japan; and Mr. Nobrou Hanai. Japan.

LED LIGHTING

On September 21, 2017, Philips Lighting North America Corp. and Philips Lighting Holding B.V. filed a section 337 case against imports of LED Lighting Devices and LED Power Supplies.  The named respondents in the case are:

Feit Electric Company, Inc., Pico Rivera, California;  Feit  Electronic  Company,  Inc., (China),  China;  Lowe’s  Companies,  Inc.,  Mooresville,  North  Carolina; L G Sourcing,  Inc., North  Wilkesboro,  North Carolina; MSi Lighting, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida; RAB Lighting Inc., Northvale, New Jersey; Satco Products, Inc., Brentwood, New York;  Topaz  Lighting Corp.,   Holtsville, New York; Wangs Alliance Corporation d/b/a WAC Lighting Co., Port Washington, New York; and WAC Lighting (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. , China.

REUSABLE RAZORS
On September 27, 2017, The Gillette Company LLC filed a section 337 case against imports of Certain Shaving Cartridges, Components Thereof and Products Containing Same.  The named respondents in the case are:

Edgewell Personal Care Company, Chesterfield, Missouri; Edgewell Personal Care Brands, LLC, Shelton, Connecticut; Edgewell Personal Care, LLC, Shelton, Connecticut; Schick Manufacturing, Inc., Shelton, Connecticut; and Schick (Guangzhou) Co., Limited, China.

BEVERAGE CONTAINERS

On September 28, 2017, YETI Coolers, LLC filed a section 337 case against imports of Insulated Beverage Containers, Components, Labels, and Packaging Materials.  The named respondents are:

Alibaba (China) Technology Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; Alibaba Group Holding Limited, c/o Alibaba Group Services Limited, Hong Kong; Alibaba.com Hong Kong Limited, Hong Kong; Alibaba.com Singapore E-Commerce Private Limited, Hong Kong; Bonanza.com, Inc., Seattle, Washington; ContextLogic, Inc. d/b/a Wish, San Francisco, California; Dunhuang Group, China; Hangzhou Alibaba Advertising Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; Huizhou Dashu Trading Co., Ltd., China; Huagong Trading Co., Ltd., China; Tan Er Pa Technology Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; Shenzhen Great Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., China; and SZ Flowerfairy Technology Ltd., China.

If you have any questions about these cases or about the Trump Trade Crisis, NAFTA, FTAs, , including the impact on agriculture, the impact on downstream industries, the Section 232 cases, the 201 case against Solar Cells, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP 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–TRUMP AND TRADE, LIGHTHIZER AS USTR, BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES, MANUFACTURING CAN COME BACK TO THE US, TAA FOR COMPANIES, WTO CASES AGAINST ALUMINUM AND NME STATUS, AND 337

Washington Monument After the Snow Washington DCTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR JANUARY 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

This blog post contains several articles about recent developments in the Trump Transition and its impact on trade.  January 20th, inauguration day, is only 8 days away and Trump will be President.  The transition, however, moves quickly.

Although the past appointments of Governor Branstad of Iowa as Ambassador to China and Wilbur Ross to Commerce, two persons who know China well, indicate no potential trade war, the two latest appointments of Bob Lighthizer to USTR and Peter Nararro as Chairman of the National Economic Advisors indicate that protectionism, especially against China, is back on the menu.

Trump may be trying to use uncertainty to create leverage and a deal with the Chinese and other governments on trade and other topics.  Bob Lighthizer will be the hammer of the Trump trade policy that will negotiate those deals.

But the next question is how will Trump help revive manufacturing in the United States and help the Rust Belt states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which put him in the White House?

One answer may be taxes, the border adjustment kind, which may, in fact, be a response to the Value Added Taxes levied on US exports.  Trump and Congress have apparently decided to fight fire with fire—mercantilism to fight mercantilism, border adjustment taxes to fight value added taxes, which put US exports at a major disadvantage.

No longer will the US take a passive approach to foreign trade barriers to US exports.  Trump and his team will raise US trade barriers to counter the trade barriers erected by other countries.  Reciprocity is the name of the game.

Moreover, the recent noises from many US companies indicate that they like what Trump is doing and manufacturing will move back to the US.  Low corporate taxes, less regulations and the threat of trade barriers will bring manufacturing back to the US.  In fact, it may even encourage Chinese and other foreign companies to move production to the United States.  Trump will do everything possible to increase jobs in the United States.

Also the US China Trade relationship is getting out to an interesting start in 2017 with the filing today, January 12, 2017, of a major WTO case against China on Aluminum.

Hopefully Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, which is the only effective US trade remedy that saves companies and the jobs that go with them, will expand.  But TAA for Companies is not TAA for Workers.  They are very different programs.

In addition, with regards to the recent WTO complaint China filed against the US and the EC for failing to give it market economy status under their antidumping and countervailing duty laws, Canada and Japan have now jumped into the case because of the impact on their trade laws.

Under the Universal Trade War theme, attached are newsletters from Roland Zhu of the Allbright Chinese law firm on Chinese trade law.

Finally, a recent 337 intellectual property case was filed against China on Basketball Backboard Components.

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

PS, If anyone wants to unsubscribe to the newsletter, please let me know and I will remove them from the list.

TRADE AND TRADE POLICY

TRUMP’S APPOINTMENTS NOW BECOME MORE PROTECTIONIST AND TOUGH ON TRADE—BUT MAYBE THAT IS WHAT IS NEEDED IN THIS ENVIRONMENT

After the first two appointments of Governor Branstad as ambassador to China and Wilbur Ross as new Commerce Department secretary, the two recent appointments of Bob Lighthizer as United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) and China critic, Peter Navarro, to head the National Trade Council indicate that the Trump Administration will take a much tougher line on trade and China.  Full disclosure in the late 1980s, as described more below, I worked for Bob Lighthizer at Skadden, Arps, and he is certainly a much tougher negotiator than any trade negotiator China or other countries have dealt with before.

Recently on Bloomberg news, I heard one bank spokesman say that their research group gives a 25% chance that under Trump the US will return to a Smoot Hawley situation, such as in the 1930s.  Although Lighthizer is a very tough guy, he is also a very experienced trade lawyer with substantial contacts in Congress so hopefully he will be pragmatic enough not to simply put up the protectionist walls and return the US to the 1930s.

But let there be no mistake, the Trump Administration will erect barriers to imports to offset the many trade barriers other countries, including Mexico, China and the EC, have erected against US exports.  Reciprocity will be the new approach to trade policy.

USTR FROMAN ADDS A PARTING SHOT

As present USTR Froman of the Obama Administration is leaving, he issued on January 5, 2017 the attached Cabinet Exit Memo, USTR-Exit-Memo.  In that Cabinet Exit Memo, Froman stated that the United States cannot withdraw from Globalization.  The issue is whether the US can shape globalization so as to benefit the US.  Froman also warned that if the US withdraws, the major beneficiary will be China.  As Froman stated:

“The fundamental economic question of our time is not whether we can stop globalization, but whether we can use all the tools at our disposal to shape globalization in a way that helps the majority of Americans, and reflects not just our economic interests, but our values.”

Froman went on to emphasize the importance of Agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”):

“These agreements offer a positive vision for American leadership in the global economy.  This vision is vitally important, because in the absence of U.S. guidance and leadership, the world is likely to turn to alternative policy models that will put the United States at a permanent disadvantage.”

Froman went on to argue that the US can only counter China through negotiations that set high standards for the World’s trading countries:

“If we step back from a global leadership role, it will be our loss and China’s gain.  This alternative vision would place a large portion of America’s industry at risk of lost exports and create powerful incentives to invest in Asia in order to sell in Asia. Should this alternative come to dominate the next generation of trade agreements, the consequence will be an erosion of economic security and opportunity for all Americans.”

Froman apparently is arguing that the trade game cannot be changed and only small changes can be made through negotiations, such as the TPP, because globalization is here to stay.  Trump intends to overturn the trade policy table all together.

TRUMP PICKS AN ENFORCER ROBERT LIGHTHIZER AS NEXT UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE (“USTR”)

On January 3, 2017 Donald Trump announced that he has picked a very tough negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, a Skadden, Arps partner, as the next United States Trade Representative (“USTR”).  In doing so, Trump stated:

“Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first.  He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans. He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity.”

Almost 20 years ago, I worked with Lighthizer in the late 1980s at Skadden, Arps.  Before joining Skadden, Arps, Lighthizer was a Deputy USTR and was legendary.  One of my colleagues at Skadden told me that as a Deputy USTR when Lighthizer was negotiating with the Japanese government on a trade deal, he took one proposal from the Japanese government, folded it into a paper airplane and threw it out the door.

After Lighthizer joined Skadden in the late 1980s, Lighthizer brought in US Steel as a client and went on to represent US Steel for decades bringing many antidumping and countervailing duty cases against steel products from various countries.  Being the former Chief of Staff to Senator Robert Dole, the former Senate Majority leader, Lighthizer has extremely good contacts with the Republicans in Congress.

From my personal experience with Lighthizer, he will be an extremely tough negotiator with an agenda of protecting US companies from import competition and he will not be a friend of China, but that may be a good thing.  In contrast to the tough approach on trade of President Trump, Lighthizer may be the best choice free traders could get.  Lighthizer is a very experienced trade lawyer, who is not an ideologue, but a pragmatic deal maker.

More importantly, Trump’s appointment of an experienced tough trade lawyer as the USTR indicates that Trump does not really want a trade war.  He wants better, tougher deals more in line with US interests, such as a renegotiated NAFTA and possibly even a renegotiated TPP.  Trump is seeking to hire one of Washington’s top trade lawyers to negotiate tougher international trade agreements and then enforce them more vigorously.  Lighthizer, in effect, will be the hammer of Trump’s trade policy.

The desire for a much tougher trade policy is bipartisan.  Many Democratic lawmakers agree with Trump and many Republicans on a tougher trade policy.  On January 3rd, AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka met with nine House Democrats to urge renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada and stating that he does not think Trump “has enough Republican support to do it, and rewriting the rules of trade is a necessary first step in righting the economy for working people.”

In response to the appointment, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who knows Lighthizer very well and will hold hearings on his nomination, stated:

“Ensuring our past, present, and future trade agreements are the best possible deals for American workers and job creators is a shared goal supported by pro- trade lawmakers and the Trump Administration alike. As the incoming administration undertakes this enormous responsibility, Bob will be a critical player in ensuring that America’s trade agenda reflects U.S. commercial interests, while helping set the standard for global trade. Armed with bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority, the incoming Trump Administration has a unique opportunity to pursue new, bilateral trade pacts of the highest caliber that can be submitted to Congress for an up or down vote with no amendments. As the world and our economic competitors move to expand their global footprints, we can’t afford to be left behind in securing strong deals that will increase access to new markets for American-made products and services, protect our intellectual property rights abroad, and ensure domestic businesses can successfully compete in the 21st century global economy. I look forward to a vigorous discussion of Bob’s trade philosophy and priorities when he comes before the Finance Committee.”

Bill Brock, the former USTR under President Reagan, stated:

“He is in most ways, if not many ways, in line with Trump’s comments during the campaign.  He’s very bright, he’s very aggressive.”

There was speculation prior to the Lighthizer appointment that USTR would take a secondary role in trade negotiations.  In fact, Lighthizer’s appointment indicates that Trump wants to make USTR under Lighthizer’s leadership the tip of sword in changing and negotiating tough trade agreements and enforcing them.  Of Trump’s trade advisors, only Lighthizer has government experience.

Alan Wolff, another former senior American trade official who represented the steel industry as co- counsel in many trade cases with Lighthizer, referred to Lighthizer’s broad knowledge of trade law and went on to state:

“Those who say U.S.T.R. will be subordinated to other agencies are mistaken.  He’ll be a dominant figure on trade, in harmony with Wilbur Ross and Navarro.”

Lighthizer’s appointment is a clear indication that the Trump Administration will focus on the enforcement of trade agreements and on the letter of the law.  Lighthizer is not a bull in a China shop.  He is a very smart, tough trade lawyer and negotiator, and he will do everything possible to protect the US industry.

And Lighthizer will be very tough with China.  In the attached 2010 statement testimony to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, LIGHTHIZER 2010 STATEMENT US CHINA ECONOMIC SECURITY COMMISSION, Lighthizer stated:

Misjudging Incentives for Industries to Shift Production Wholesale to China and then Ship Back to the United States. . . . In other words, supporters assumed that since the United States had been granting MFN status to China for decades, granting MFN on a permanent basis would make no significant difference to how companies would serve this market.

But this assumption failed to account for the many incentives Western companies had to bet on the other side, and use China as a manufacturing platform to serve the U.S. market. As shown throughout this paper, China practices numerous forms of mercantilism – including subsidies, currency manipulation, and government programs that encourage developing new products in China – that give companies strong reasons to move production to that country. China’s relatively weak labor and environmental policies have a similar effect. China also manipulates raw material markets in a manner that encourages manufacturers to move there.  . . .

Many experts agree that our trading relationship with China presents a serious threat to our economy and the effective functioning of the WTO.  How should U.S. policymakers respond to these problems? As described in more detail below, I believe they should stop being so passive, take a number of straightforward steps to mitigate the harm caused by Chinese mercantilism, and consider more imaginative steps to deal with China.

We must stop being so passive. For ten years now, U.S. policymakers have done very little as China pursued policies that have resulted in an enormous trade imbalance. This approach has not worked, and it is past time for the U.S. government to become more aggressive. . . .

Lighthizer went on to state:

Indeed, I would take the argument even further. Trade policy discussions in the United States have increasingly been dominated by arcane disputations about whether various actions would be “WTO ­consistent” – treating this as a mantra of almost religious or moral significance.  The fact is that the WTO is built upon a framework of mutual concessions and purported mutual benefits from expanded trade and open markets. WTO commitments are not religious obligations, do not (and should not be construed to) impinge upon national sovereignty, and are not subject to coercion by some WTO police force. Viewing them as such – and implicitly establishing this viewpoint as the inviolate touchstone of all U.S. trade policy – is at odds with the structure of the WTO itself, not to mention the vociferous and repeated statements made by proponents of the WTO when it was established.

In this regard, WTO commitments represent mutually beneficial, market ­opening stipulations by individual countries. Where a country fails to fully implement commitments it has made, other countries are given the right to reciprocally suspend market­ opening commitments of their own – in an amount precisely equivalent to, and no greater than, the value of trade they have lost as a result of the derogation that has occurred. In this way, the entire WTO system is in a very real sense premised upon the assumption of relatively equal costs and benefits among and between WTO participants – whereby compliance with WTO norms is encouraged by the knowledge that derogations will result in the suspension of equivalent trade concessions. Where this relationship does not hold – that is, where a trade relationship has become so unbalanced that the threat of retaliation pales in comparison to the potential benefits of derogation – it only makes sense that a sovereign nation would consider what options are in its own national interest (up to and including potential derogation from WTO stipulations).

This need not be seen as some fundamental threat to the integrity of the WTO system.  Indeed, let me state explicitly that I am not advocating that the United States leave the WTO – that body is too important to us and the global trading system. I am merely pointing out that derogation may be a common sense, economically rational analysis by participants in the system – whereby potential decisions to derogate from WTO rules give rise to compensatory rights of other parties within the system.

Indeed, such an approach is plainly anticipated by the WTO agreements and has been acknowledged by U.S. policymakers. Properly understood, WTO rules do not infringe on the ability of individual nations to make their own sovereign decisions about economic policies –subject to the rights and obligations that flow from the WTO agreements themselves and any derogation of those agreements.   In this regard, U.S. officials have consistently stated that WTO commitments do not interfere with our national sovereignty, and that WTO rulings cannot alter U.S. law. These points were made repeatedly by Members of Congress during the debate over whether the United States should join the WTO. Furthermore, USTR has plainly stated that WTO legal panels “have no authority to change U.S. law or to require the United States or any state or local government to change its laws or decisions.” USTR has specifically explained that other countries cannot force the United States to comply with WTO law; instead, their only available response is to retaliate by withdrawing trade benefits . . .

In the context of U.S. ­China trade – whereby the United States is consistently running trade deficits viewed by virtually all rational observers as catastrophic and unsustainable – it is certainly advisable to consider all options available. To the extent that the United States were to consider more dramatic action to address the problem – such as tariffs or quantitative limitations that would arguably derogate from WTO commitments – the prospect of reciprocal denial of trade benefits by China must of course be assessed. At some point, however – where goods imports from China exceed $300 billion while U.S. exports to China are below $70 billion – one must ask whether potential retaliation from China really would or could even remotely offset the benefits to the United States of more aggressive trade measures. . . .

Of course, none of the policies I have suggested can be effective unless U.S. policymakers have the will to implement them in a strong and determined manner. For years, our economic position vis ­a ­vis China has deteriorated because U.S. policymakers have refused to take the inevitable risks associated with challenging Chinese mercantilism. As a result, we are now burdened with a trade imbalance that everyone agrees is unsustainable. Wringing our hands and hoping for the best is not the answer. We need strong leaders who are prepared to make tough decisions, and who will not be satisfied until this crisis has been resolved.

“One must ask whether potential retaliation from China really would or could even remotely offset the benefits to the United States of more aggressive trade measures.”

On the other hand, although Lighthizer’s statements show that he will be very tough on China, as certain trade experts have stated, in light of the very tough trade policy of the next President Donald Trump, Lighthizer’s appointment may be the best that free traders could hope for from this new Administration.  Lighthizer is a very smart, experienced political operator with excellent contacts in Congress, especially on the Republican side of the aisle, and a tough, outstanding negotiator.  But these experts also believe that Lighthizer is not a blind ideologue, but a pragmatic, rational deal maker.  After driving a very hard bargain and reaching a deal, he could end up even keeping NAFTA and possibly even the TPP.  Relations with China may actually improve, but only after a better deal is reached.

PETER NAVARRO TO HEAD NATIONAL TRADE COUNCIL

In another sign that the Trump Administration will take a much tougher line on China, on December 21, 2016, Trump announced that he has picked Peter Navarro, a China critic, to be the head of a new National Trade Council.   A Harvard trained economist, who is a professor at the University of California, Irvine, Navarro has taken a very strong position on China.  He is the author of a book, “Death by China”, which became a 2012 documentary film in which a Chinese knife stabs a map of the United States causing blood to throw.  See http://deathbychina.com/.  Navarro, in effect, argues that China is waging an economic war by subsidizing exports to the United States and blocking imports into China creating an enormous trade deficit.

Trump has stated that he will persuade China to change its policies by applying pressure through trade laws, designating China a currency manipulator, and, if necessary imposing high tariffs on Chinese imports.  As indicated below, however, those tariffs may actually be border adjustment taxes.

In a statement, Mr. Trump described Mr. Navarro as “a visionary economist” and said he would “develop trade policies that shrink our trade deficit, expand our growth and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores.”

On December 23, 2016, in response the China Daily stated:

That individuals such as Navarro who have a bias against China are being picked to work in leading positions in the next administration, is no laughing matter. The new administration should bear in mind that with economic and trade ties between the world’s two largest economies now the closest they have ever been, any move to damage the win-win relationship will only result in a loss for both sides.

Still, Chinese companies in the US should be on high alert to a more difficult business climate.

US TRADE POLICY MAY CHANGE AND THREATS DO NOT HELP THE US CHINA TRADE RELATIONSHIP

There is an old saying in Chinese “Bei Mi Yang Feng You Dou Mi Yang Chao Ren” (杯米养朋友,斗米养仇人) one cup of rice makes a friend, thousands of cups of rice make an enemy.  Another old saying in English, give a person $5 make a friend, give a person $100 make an enemy.

Since World War II the United States has been a relatively open market and many foreign countries, including China, have benefitted.  As described more below, with border adjustment taxes and the current US economic situation, that situation may well change and could change dramatically.  Many countries will be very upset when the US starts to close down, in effect, favoring domestic products over imports.  When markets are taken away and countries lose their bag of rice, they will not be happy.

Mexico’s peso is in free fall and has fallen to the lowest level against the US in decades.  Mexico is in crisis because under pressure from Trump US companies are canceling plans to set up production facilities in Mexico and moving production facilities back to the US.  Mexico is not happy.

China is upset with the Lighthizer appointment and is talking about retaliation.  On January 4th, in response to the Lighthizer appointment, China’s state-run Media, the Global Times, warned Trump of ‘Big Sticks’ if he seeks a Trade War:

“There are flowers around the gate of China’s Ministry of Commerce, but there are also big sticks hidden inside the door — they both await Americans.”

When a current US China trade deficit of well over $300 billion, however, that threat rings hollow.

On January 9, 2017, State-run Chinese tabloid Global Times warned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that China would “take revenge” if he reneged on the one- China policy, only hours after Taiwan’s president made a controversial stopover in Houston.

When the Chinese State-Controlled media, such as the Global Times, castigates Trump as an “ignorant child” and threatens the Trump Administration with Chinese retaliation, it is waving a red flag in front of a bull.  The new Trump Administration will not be intimidated.  It will not be bullied.  Threats will not work with this Administration.

So it is a much better idea to let cooler heads prevail and negotiate.  As stated above, the Trump Administration wants a deal and the Chinese government and other governments are extremely good negotiators so negotiate.

Let’s keep any Trade War at the cold war stage and not let it break out into a hot Trade War where every country, including the United States and China, are burned.

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES MAY BE THE NEW TRADE PROTECTIONIST BARRIER TO IMPORTS

As stated in my last blog post, Trump and Republicans in Congress may be creating an alternative to tariffs to spur US manufacturing and that is taxes.  Tariffs have become so passé.  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.

The key issue is a plan to fundamentally remake the tax system by taxing US companies based on where they sell their goods, not where the business happens to be located. As part of that, Republican tax legislators want to include what experts call “border adjustments” — new taxes on imports as well as tax rebates on exports.

Another fancy term for this new tax is “destination-based cash flow tax with border adjustment” or DBCFT.  This plan would replace the current corporate tax code with something known among experts as a “border-adjustable, destination-based” tax system.  Under their proposal, imports would be charged the same 20 percent tax that domestic companies would face. Exports would be excused from taxes.  It would amount to a fundamental change, with the government taxing companies based on where they sell their wares, rather than where the business is located.

The way this tax would work is if a U.S. company sold a product for $100 and it spent $70 on its workers’ pay, under the Republican plan the remaining $30 would be subject to the 20% tax. That would produce a $6 tax bill. An imported version of the same product would be forced to pay the 20% tax on the entire $100 sale, producing a $20 tax bill.

The best case for a border adjustment tax is an article by Stephen Moore, an expert on economic issues at the Heritage Foundation, in the International Business Daily in which he argues that a Border Adjustment Tax, in effect, is equivalent to the Value Added Tax that countries use to kill imports.  See http://www.investors.com/politics/columnists/stephen-moore-we-need-tax-reform-not-tariffs/.

As Moore states:

If America’s competitors were intentionally trying to design a tax system to destroy the American economy, they probably couldn’t come up with a dumber tax system than the way the United States currently taxes our own businesses.

To fully appreciate the stupidity of the American corporate tax, consider this simple example:

If you are an American company making cars in Michigan, you have to pay a 35% profits tax on the car made here and then if the car is sold across the border to Mexico, the Mexicans slap a 16% value added tax on the car, so it is taxed on both sides of the border. Almost all countries tax goods produced in the United States this way.

Now let us say that the auto factory is moved from Michigan to Mexico City. Now the car produced in the factory in Mexico is not taxed by the Mexicans if the auto is sold in the United States.

Even more amazing:  the U.S. imposes no tax on the imported car. To summarize, the car is taxed twice if it is built in America and then sold abroad and never taxed if it is built abroad and sold here in the U.S. And we wonder why companies are moving out in droves for China, India, Ireland, Mexico and the like.

Donald Trump is right. What we have in America is not free trade. It is stupid trade with the deck sacked against American producers and workers. Our federal tax is effectively a 35% tariff imposed on our own goods and services.

It doesn’t help matters that our 35% rate is the highest in the industrial world. Yet the corporate tax- despite being onerous and complex — and despite depressing employment, investment and wages here at home — raises very little revenue for the government. . . .

To create a level playing field, the U.S. has to reconstitute our tax system.  This can be accomplished by lowering the tax rate and then turning the tax on its head so we are taxing our imports, but not our exports. In other words, we should tax activities based on where they are consumed, not where they are produced.

This is called a border adjustable tax system, and here are the reasons we need to do it:

  • A border adjustable tax will end all talk of tariffs and trade wars.

tariffs violate our trade agreements and often lead to retaliatory measures by other countries. The free traders will rightly object loudly to these trade barriers.

A better solution is to impose the Trump 15% corporate income tax on goods when they are brought into the U.S. and exempt from tax goods produced in the U.S. but sold outside the U.S.

In other words, our corporate tax would be based on where goods are consumed, not on where they are produced.  This tax does not violate trade laws and only mirrors the valued added tax systems foreigners use to gain advantage over us. . . .

In exchange for a border adjustable tax, the U.S. should eliminate all existing tariffs and duties which can now range from 2% on shoes to 25% on toys. . .

Retailers like Walmart will complain . . .

We have to make things in America to make America great again. Tax reform is the key to making that happen.

In effect, taxes, whether border adjustment or value added, have become the new tariffs.  But if one is to look at it rationally, tariffs were always taxes.  In fact, after the American Revolution, the first tax the US Government used to run the government was tariffs on imported goods.

The fact that border adjustment taxes will hurt retailers is evidenced by Trump’s criticism of large internet retailer Amazon when he stated that Amazon will have “such problems” during his Presidency because of this new tax system.  Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon also owns the Washington Post, and that newspaper has not been Trump’s friend.

The argument against the DBCFT is made by Brian Garst in the attached article, CFP_PolicyBrief_Border_Adjustment, entitled the “Political and Economic Risks of a Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax,” published in January 2017.  In the Article, Brian Garst argues:

The DBCFT would be a new type of corporate income tax that disallows any deductions for imports while also exempting export-related revenue from taxation.  This mercantilist system is based on the same “destination” principle as European value-added taxes, which means it is explicitly designed to preclude tax competition. . . . This mercantilist approach typically is associated with credit-invoice value-added taxes (VATs) that exist in European nations.

Garst goes on to state that in addition to retailers another target industry is energy because the United States is a net importer of oil and petroleum products.  Trump might argue, however, that when he is done cutting regulations the United States will be a net exporter of oil and petroleum products.  But Garst also points out that when other countries adopt the DBCFT, there will be more taxes on US exports.

More importantly, Garst points out what happens when the Democrats come back into power:

“In this case, left-leaning politicians would see the DBCFT not as something to be undone, but as a jumping off point for new and higher taxes.  A highly probable outcome is that the United States’ corporate tax environment becomes more like Europe, consisting of both consumption and income taxes.”

Garst goes on to add that the eventual result of higher taxes, no matter what they are called, is bigger government and slower economic growth.

On December 19, 2016, however, Chairman Brady of House Ways and Means stated that U.S. companies that rely on imports will “have to adjust” to a House Republican plan and that such a plan is a priority of the Trump Administration.  As Brady stated on a December 18th CSPAN program:

“We cannot leave in place any tax policies that encourage our companies to move their operations overseas just to sell back to the United States.  We want to listen to and find solutions with those who rely a lot on imported goods coming into America.”

The plan would apply a 20 percent corporate tax to revenues earned from goods and services consumed within the United States, while exempting economic activity outside the U.S, amounting to a 15 percent cut in the nominal corporate tax rate and eliminating corporate taxes on U.S. exports.

The opposition to this new tax system is not only from retailers but from US producers, which either assemble products in the US from imported parts or use cheaper raw materials to produce competitive value added products.  Many manufacturing groups that rely on global supply chains, such as Boeing and other companies, should be very concerned about this new policy.

But the border adjustment tax proposal has allowed Trump to call out automobile companies, such as GM, which produce substantial cars in Mexico and praise Ford Motor Co. for its decision to scrap plans for a $1.6 billion factory in Mexico.  The threat of a border adjustment tax is enough during this Presidential transition period to cause US companies to bring production back to the US.

Many businesses that rely on imported raw materials or component parts, will not be able to deduct the cost of imported goods under the GOP plan, the full value of these goods is taxed instead of just the value added in the U.S.  This means that even if Congress lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to the Republicans’ proposed 20% or 15%, companies could still see an effective increase in their tax rates.

Jennifer Safavian, the executive vice president of government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, recently made this point stating:

“With this tax on imports, we actually will see our effective tax rate increase.  It will increase, in some cases, double or three times the amount we’re paying right now. Some companies are concerned that they will actually have to go out of business because they’ll owe more in taxes than they’ll actually bring in in income.”

COULD MANUFACTURING RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES?

As stated above, during just this Presidential transition period, the threat of border adjustment taxes and a dramatic change in trade policy, along with cuts to corporate taxes to as low as 15 to 25% and regulations rollback, has caused many companies, such as Ford, Softbank, Fiat, Sprint and Carrier, to announce their reduction or abandonment of offshore production and their movement back to the United States.  Jack Ma at Alibaba also met with Trump to state that he believes 1 million more jobs can be added in the US from small and medium size business.

In December 2016, small business optimism in the United States has soared to levels not seen in over ten years.  The National Federation of Independent Business Index jumped 7.4 points in December the highest since 2004.  Trump and Congress are using carrots and sticks to move US production and jobs back to the United States.

With almost 40% of the US population on some form of welfare, the situation has to change.  Even here in Seattle, one dramatic example of the state of economy during the Obama Administration has been the dramatic rise in homeless camps.  The election of Trump means change.  And change it will be.

Recently, a Chinese entrepreneur asked me how could manufacturing move from China back to the United States because China has so many advantages.  In October 2016, Fuyao Glass announced a $1 billion investment into Moraine Ohio and Plymouth Michigan to start producing windshields in the United States.  When Chinese media and the government asked the owner Cho Tak Wong why he was moving production to the United States.  There were two answers: higher wages in China and higher tax rates.

Wages in China have steadily moved upward and the lower wage countries now are Vietnam, Bangladesh and other countries.  Much of China’s textile manufacturing capability has moved to Bangladesh in the search of lower wages.

Another major problem in China is taxes.  Although the US has the highest corporate tax rate of 35% in the developed countries, higher than China, China has corporate tax rates ranging from 25 to 33%.  More importantly, China has a personal income tax rate of 45% with US tax rates for the highest incomes ranging from 35 to 39.6%.

When I started working in China in the 1990s and all the way until about 5 to 10 years ago, although the tax rates were high, the Chinese government was very liberal on deductions.  The more expenses the company and the person had, the lower the actual tax rate.  Thus Chinese employees were always looking for a “fapiao”, a receipt so that they could claim expenses.

But several years ago, the Chinese government cracked down and started to enforce the actual tax rates.  High tax rates give companies and individuals a real incentive to leave the place where they are located.  Residents vote with their feet.  We can see that in the United States, where high tax rates in the states of New York and California have caused companies and people to move to lower tax states like Texas and Washington State, which has no state personal income tax.  An old economic saying, when you tax more of anything, you get less of it.

China and the United States are competing with other countries to attract foreign investment and even domestic investment in their own countries.  Higher tax rates and excessive regulations cause companies to move and seek better places to produce products.

Another reason to move to another country is trade restrictions.  In the early 2000s, Windshields from China were hit with a US antidumping case.  I represented two companies in the case, Xinhe and Benxun; Fuyao was represented by another law firm.  Antidumping rates in this case went down to single digits and eventually the case went away.  But this does not mean a new case could not be brought.

Fuyao coming to the US to escape potential US trade cases is nothing new.  Many, many Japanese companies, including automobile companies, Toyota and Honda, auto part companies, such as Nippon Denso, television producers, such as Sanyo, portable electric typewriter companies, such as Brother, and photography companies, such as Fuji, set up production operations in the United States to get around US antidumping orders and other trade restrictions.  In fact, Chinese solar companies, such as Wanxiang Energy, have started producing solar panels in the United States to get around move US antidumping and countervailing duty orders against Chinese solar cells and solar panels.

So manufacturing can move back to the United States if the business environment is better than other countries.  When companies move back to the US and economic growth increases significantly, all boats rise and that means more good paying jobs and the average American will do better.

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

TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES IS NOT TAA FOR WORKERS

In my blog post last month, an open letter to the new Commerce Department secretary was included about the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program.  It is important, however, to distinguish TAA for Companies from TAA for Workers.  The two programs are very different.

TAA for Workers is government money given to displaced workers to retrain workers.  On January 12, 2017, Jamie Dimon of Chase spoke out on Good Morning American about TAA for Workers.  In the past when Dimon has spoken out for TAA for Workers, financial publications, such as Forbes, have spoken out against the program because they view the $711 million program as an entitlement, a handout to workers, that does not save jobs.

The TAA for Firms/Companies program, however, is very different from the TAA for Workers program because the objective of TAA for Companies is to save the company and by saving the company save the jobs that go with that company.  I believe that publications, like Forbes, might change their tune if they knew that President Reagan probably personally approved the TAA for Firms/Companies program.  Why do I say this? Jim Munn.

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.

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.   President Reagan, however, was puzzled by the TAA for Companies and asked an old friend, Jim Munn, here in Seattle to look into the program.

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.  I am now on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”).  When I started my involvement in NWTAAC, 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 contrast to TAA for workers, TAAF or TAA for Companies 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.

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.

An article from David Holbert, Executive Director Northwest TAAC, below states how the program works in more detail.

IMPORTS HAVE LANDED – SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE

David Holbert, Executive Direct Northwest TAAC

The issue of trade competition and lost jobs is well discussed in the media.  I work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are negatively affected by import competition, what is often called “trade impact” in policy lingo. It’s a big issue. According to the U.S Trade Representative, the United States’ 30 million SMEs account for nearly two-thirds of net new private sector jobs in recent decades. This is one in a series of posts about trade impact.

In a previous post I talked about recognizing trade impact. Once a company figures out that imports are the cause of sales declines, they must respond. That response depends on the specifics of the trade threat.

Companies work within a set of cost and market access factors. Where those factors are shared, a new competitor or an established one upping their game, is usually a manageable theat. Some alteration in course might be recommended, but it is all in the range of expectations in a competitive landscape. Imports, however, generally perceive a significant advantage before they enter a market – whether that’s in design, technology, scale, or cost. Extreme cost differentials tend to be the province of imports and, more specifically, imports from low-labor cost, low-regulation sources. New arriving imports tend to be very strong competitors if not disrupters.

Before the imports arrived, customers had seen value in the available options. Now those customers can see a better cost-benefit exchange with the imported product.  Unattended, the new entrant (the import) will gain market share – the only questions are how much and how fast.

Imports may have any of several weaknesses:

  • Importers are probably bearing a loss producing level of initial expense to establish a brand, set up sales capability, and establish distribution and service networks. The domestic company already is established, or can become so more easily.
  • Importers often have to order and ship in large quantities. It takes time for delivery to occur. What is an advantage in a standard product/price sensitive segment is a disadvantage in a customized / price elastic segment. Customization is almost always an advantageous capability for the domestic company
  • Importer service capability and quality can be weak. Service can be a challenge for those in different time zones, and speaking different languages. In low-cost economies, businesses often display a culture that values cost and quantity over all else. Quality and service are likely comparative strengths of the domestic company.

If the price differential is minor, improvements in operations without changing the business model may close the gap. The challenge is not less urgent, just less extensive. Every business I’ve worked with has a list of pending improvements. Now would be the time to implement some of these. Topping the list would the ones that lead to revenue faster. At this stage, the domestic company is probably losing sales. To the extent that you need a “plan”, that list is probably it. Let’s call it the minimum required response.

If the price differential is large, the business will face the uncharted territory of strategic change. That change will likely affect product, systems, processes, distribution, promotion, and pricing.  In other words, everything.

Just as every business owner has a list of pending improvements, they also have more than one idea about a serious change in course. That is very likely an incomplete list. How could it be otherwise? Whatever the right change may be, the confidence to take that leap will almost certainly be absent. That is where TAA comes in.  Most people don’t realize how thin of a line of viability businesses walk. It took a lot to get to the point where things work. A lot of what seemed like good ideas were proven wrong along the way. Changing that formula under conditions of less than certainty and necessity is almost always a bad idea. With trade impact, a business may have a condition of necessity. Now that business has to work on certainty.

It is not exactly clear how to get to that state of envisioning a strategic change with confidence and assurance. For a business owner, this is a life’s work. For the record, there are consultants that are capable in this area. Not that hiring in help is necessarily a solution.  What is clear is that a full range of options and information supporting them become precious commodities.

Here are how some companies with TAA help dealt with trade impact:

A commercial products company makes a specialized tool and faced a sudden entry of imports at close to half the price. The company’s plan was to radically improve operations in the same market position. The owners had been complacent in a mature market. The plan included such actions as developing an automated version of the tool, emphasizing service and parts replacement capability, and revising sales and promotion activity. This works in commercial markets because buyers are informed and easily value factors like quality, service, and durability.

A contract manufacturer that machines metal parts specializing in titanium had lost their single industry customer base to imports. The owner recognized that their capabilities would be valued in the aerospace industry. Achieving AS9100 (aerospace industry quality certification) was an essential step. Entering the industry and becoming known among buyers was the larger challenge. This works because at the time aerospace was growing in the region.

  • A nut grower was priced out of its commodity market position by imports. The owners had thought of packaging for consumers and private labeling. With TAA help, they gained the confidence to proceed. It was exactly the right move –they removed a layer of distribution and gained back their profit margin. The company grew at tech industry rates.
  • A safety products producer was being displaced in large retailers by imports priced about 50% lower. With outside TAA consultants, they developed a radical plan to concentrate on commercial uses of their products that emphasized perpetual restocking rather than consumer products as final articles. This entailed converting from producing hundreds of low-cost, finished products a week to producing dozens of high-cost units and thousands of micro-orders of replacement articles. The company reversed sales declines in a surprisingly short time.

Threats from imports tend to be severe. They may have an insurmountable cost advantage. Under these conditions, the domestic company cannot win by just trying harder – something has to change. The first thing that has to change is the plan for the business. Deferred improvements might become urgent necessities. Incompletely conceived ideas about a change in the business model might have to be seriously considered. In future posts, I’ll talk about challenges of implementation.

Our role at the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center is to help small and medium-sized companies that are negatively affected by trade. Sometimes called “made in America grants” this federal program offers a matching fund for outside expertise of up to $75,000 for qualifying companies.  NWTAAC serves companies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. You can learn more about us at NWTAAC.org.

NEW US WTO CASE AGAINST ALUMINUM FROM CHINA

On January 12, 2017, in the attached notice, Obama Administration Files WTO Complaint on China’s Subsidies to Aluminum Produ, USTR announced that it was bringing a WTO case against China for its subsidies to aluminum producers.  As the notice states in part:

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that the United States has launched a new trade enforcement complaint agains the People’s Republic of China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China’s subsidies to certain producers of primary aluminum.  This action follows numerous bilateral eforts by the Obama Adminisration to persuade China to take strong seps to address the excess capacity situation in its aluminum sector.  The complaint fled today begins a process to address U.S. concerns that China’s subsidies appear to have caused “serious prejudice” under WTO rules to U.S. interests by artifcially expanding Chinese capacity, production and market share and causing a significant lowering in the global price for primary aluminum. Today’s announcement marks the 16th trade enforcement challenge the Obama Adminisration has launched agains China at the WTO.

“This lates challenge once again demonsrates the Obama Adminisration’s unwavering commitment to ensuring a fair and level playing field for American workers and businesses,” said United States Trade Representative Michael Froman. “Artifcially cheap loans from banks and low-priced inputs for Chinese aluminum are contributing to excess capacity and undercutting American workers and businesses. Today’s action follows significant engagement by this Adminisration on excess capacity and demonstrates our commitment to hold China to its trade obligations. Our record of tough enforcement with China speaks for itself: When China cheats, we’ve been right there, securing recourse for our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses. This is the 16th time we have taken action agains China at the WTO, and we’ve won every challenge that has been decided.”

CANADA AND JAPAN JUMP INTO CHINA’S WTO CASE AGANST THE US AND EC FOR FAILURE TO GIVE CHINA MARKET ECONOMY STATUS IN AD AND CVD CASES

As indicated in the past blog post, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, from the Chinese point of view December 11, 2016 is the date when countries can no longer treat China as a nonmarket economy under their antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) law.  Neither the United States nor the EC declared China a market economy country on December 11th so predictably China filed a WTO complaint against the US and EC over their price comparison methodologies used in their AD and CVD laws.

On January 5, 2017, Canada and Japan decided to jump into the WTO case as third-party observers, citing the case’s potential to dramatically alter global antidumping laws.  As Canada stated in its announcement:

“In many cases, Canadian exports to the United States compete directly with exports from China. As a result, Canada has a substantial trade interest in these proceedings which concern the ability of U.S. investigating authorities to properly determine normal values for allegedly dumped Chinese exports.”

As the Japanese Government stated:

“The legal basis of China’s complaint identified in its requests, if accepted, appears to affect anti-dumping investigation practice of many WTO Members … and in turn have substantial impact on international trade involving products originating in China.  Japan is one of the major importers of goods … from China and one of the users of anti-dumping measures.”

The dispute is at the consultation stage, but will soon move on to a WTO panel.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

With the election of Donald Trump, as stated in my last newsletter, 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.

CHINA

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.2016.47 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2016.48 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.01 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.02.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

BASKETBALL BACKBOARD COMPONENTS

On December 30, 2016, in the attached ITC notice, BASKETBALL 337, Lifetime Products, Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against Russell Brands, LLC d/b/a Spalding, Bowling Green, Kentucky; and Reliable Sports Equipment (Wujiang) 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

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