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

White House Fence Summer Red Flowers Fountain Pennsylvania Ave Washington DC

TRADE IS A TWO-WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 20, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR – AUGUST 7, 2019

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

DEVELOPMENTS SINCE LAST BLOG POST

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

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

As stated in the last blog post:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

*    *    *    *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

BEING TOUGH ON CHINA IS A BIPARTISAN REPUBLICAN DEMOCRAT ISSUE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

MOIETY  AND THE FALSE CLAIMS ACT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HUAWEI’S PROBLEMS CONTINUE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

HIGHEST ANTIDUMPING RATE IN HISTORY AND THE CRITICAL CIRCUMSTANCES TRAP

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

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

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

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

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

FABRICATED STRUCTURAL STEEL FROM CHINA AND IMPACT ON US CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY

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

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

RECENT SECTION 337 PETITIONS

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

LIGHT EMITTING DIODES

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

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

CHILD RESISTANT CLOSURES

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry and Fred Rocafort

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

TRADE IS A TWO-WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 20, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE – FEBRUARY 21, 2019

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECTION 301 PROCEDURES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

OTHER COUNTRIES AGREE WITH TRUMP ON US CHINA TRADE DISPUTE

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

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

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

.        Semiconductor technology was stolen from Australia and the US.

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

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

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

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

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

BEING TOUGH ON CHINA IS A BIPARTISAN REPUBLICAN DEMOCRAT ISSUE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

3.     China’s hardening authoritarianism

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The indictment states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

LONG TERM PROBLEMS AND IMPACT ON CHINESE ECONOMY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NICHOLAS LARDY — US EXPERT ON THE CHINESE ECONOMY

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

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

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

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

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

XIANG SONGZUO-CHINESE EXPERT ON THE CHINESE ECONOMY

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

On to John’s thought-provoking talk:

Asian Strategic and Economic Seminar Series

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

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

Now I get to go unplugged.  . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

So today I’m stepping into the food fight.

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

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

 A Dynastic Cosmology

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

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

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

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

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

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

China’s veneration of the written word

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

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

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

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

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

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

The “Great Genius” Comrade Stalin. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

The most important lines in the book:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The same logic applies outside the party as within.

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

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

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

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

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

Which brings us to the title of this seminar.

Engineers of the human soul

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

It’s no different today. Xi:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But ideology won that contest.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Conclusion

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

END”

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

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

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

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

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

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

GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE IS A TWO-WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 20, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE – DECEMBER 21, 2018

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

G-20 DIM HOPE BECOMES BRIGHTER HOPE BUT??

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECTION 301 PROCEDURES

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

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

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

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

INTERNATIONAL EXTRADITION AND JUDGMENT AGREEMENTS ARE IMPORTANT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Technology Theft Campaign

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

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

*              *              *

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

QUARTZ SURFACE PRODUCTS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES—ITC QUESTIONNAIRES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP TRADE WAR, SPEECH, 301 TARIFF $200 BILLION IN IMPORTS, 301 PRODUCT EXCLUSION PROCESS, WIDENING AD/CVD ORDERS, EXCLUSIONS SECTION 201 NAFTA, US EU AGREEMENT, NEW AD CASE

Arrow Watch Tower Forbidden City Beijing China

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 20, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE-OCTOBER 1, 2018

 

Dear Friends,

As many will know because of the press updates, yesterday the United States and Canada reached agreement with Mexico on a New NAFTA, now known as the USMCA, the US Mexico Canada Agreement.  Note that the term “Free Trade” has been removed.  As President Trump has so clearly illustrated, Free Trade Agreements or FTAs are not truly free trade agreements, they are government managed trade.

To see the text of the New USMCA go to this link at the United States Trade Representative, https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/united-states-mexico-canada-agreement/united-states-mexico.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR – SEPTEMBER 19, 2018

Dear Friends,

This blog post will go into detail about the Section 301 China IP case and the September 17th decision to impose the 10 TO 25% tariffs against an additional $200 billion in imports from China, the Product Exclusion process for tariffs on the $16 billion, the growing orbit of US antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) cases, and more exclusions n the Section 201 Solar case.  Will then comment briefly on the NAFTA, Europe negotiations and the new AD case against Mattresses from China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

OCTOBER 9TH SPEECH HOUSTON TEXAS TRUMP & US CHINA TRADE WAR

On October 9, 2018, I will be speaking at a Trade and Intellectual Property symposium at the Petroleum Club in Houston Texas.  The specific topic of my speech will be Current Topics Regarding Trump/China, Trade War Or Trade Agreements, Fact & Fiction.

Attached is information about the speech and the Symposium.  9_8 HOUSTON IP Symposium Invite If anyone is interested, please feel free to contact me.

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR AND THE SECTION 301 CASE – 10% TARIFFS ON $200 BILLION EFFECTIVE SEPTEMBER 24TH

On September 17th, President Trump announced his decision to impose a 10% tariff on the third list of $200 billion in imports from China effective September 24, 2018.  On January 1, 2019, the 10% tariff will rise to 25%.  The list of items on the $200 billion list subject to the 25% tariff is attached. Tariff List_09.17.18 in $200 billion

With regard to the third $200 billion list in the Section 301 case, in August there were five days of hearings with over 300 US companies and over 9,000 companies and groups of companies filed written comments by September 6, 2018.  Those comments were to try and persuade USTR to exclude certain tariff categories from the list of subject tariff items.  Product exclusion requests are filed after the USTR issues its determination to try and get specific products out of the tariff line item subject to the 25% tariff.

By September 6th, we filed numerous comments for importers and groups of importers of products ranging from wood doors and cabinets to aluminum curtain wall and paper gift bags.  In many instances, there is no production of these specific items in the United States.

In the attached Presidential Proclamation, PRESIDENTIAL DECISION $200 BILLION, President Trump stated:

“Today, following seven weeks of public notice, hearings, and extensive opportunities for comment, I directed the United States Trade Representative (USTR) to proceed with placing additional tariffs on roughly $200 billion of imports from China. The tariffs will take effect on September 24, 2018 and be set at a level of 10 percent until the end of the year. On January 1, the tariffs will rise to 25 percent. Further, if China takes retaliatory action against our farmers or other industries, we will immediately pursue phase three, which is tariffs on approximately $267 billion of additional imports.

We are taking this action today as a result of the Section 301 process that the USTR has been leading for more than 12 months. After a thorough study, the USTR concluded that China is engaged in numerous unfair policies and practices relating to United States technology and intellectual property – such as forcing United States companies to transfer technology to Chinese counterparts. These practices plainly constitute a grave threat to the long-term health and prosperity of the United States economy.

For months, we have urged China to change these unfair practices, and give fair and reciprocal treatment to American companies. We have been very clear about the type of changes that need to be made, and we have given China every opportunity to treat us more fairly. But, so far, China has been unwilling to change its practices. To counter China’s unfair practices, on June 15, I announced that the United States would impose tariffs of 25 percent on $50 billion worth of Chinese imports.

China, however, still refuses to change its practices – and indeed recently imposed new tariffs in an effort to hurt the United States economy.

As President, it is my duty to protect the interests of working men and women, farmers, ranchers, businesses, and our country itself. My Administration will not remain idle when those interests are under attack.

China has had many opportunities to fully address our concerns. Once again, I urge China’s leaders to take swift action to end their country’s unfair trade practices. Hopefully, this trade situation will be resolved, in the end, by myself and President Xi of China, for whom I have great respect and affection.

The core issue in this Section 301 is Intellectual Property (“IP”) and forced technology transfer of IP to Chinese companies.  As USTR states in the attached press release, USTR PRESS RELEASE:

Washington, DC – As part of the United States’ continuing response to China’s theft of American intellectual property and forced transfer of American technology, the Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released a list of approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that will be subject to additional tariffs. In accordance with the direction of President Trump, the additional tariffs will be effective starting September 24, 2018, and initially will be in the amount of 10 percent. Starting January 1, 2019, the level of the additional tariffs will increase to 25 percent.

The list contains 5,745 full or partial lines of the original 6,031 tariff lines that were on a proposed list of Chinese imports announced on July 10, 2018. Changes to the proposed list were made after USTR and the interagency Section 301 Committee sought and received comments over a six-week period and  . . . as a result, determined to fully or partially remove 297 tariff lines from the original proposed list. Included among the products removed from the proposed list are certain consumer electronics products such as smart watches and Bluetooth devices; certain chemical inputs for manufactured goods, textiles and agriculture; certain health and safety products such as bicycle helmets, and child safety furniture such as car seats and playpens.

The USTR cited to the attached original March 2018 Section 301 report, USTR FULL 301 REPORT CHINA TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER, and then went on to describe the core issues in the Section 301 case stating:

Specifically, the Section 301 investigation revealed:

China uses joint venture requirements, foreign investment restrictions, and administrative review and licensing processes to require or pressure technology transfer from U.S. companies.

China deprives U.S. companies of the ability to set market-based terms in licensing and other technology-related negotiations.

China directs and unfairly facilitates the systematic investment in, and acquisition of, U.S. companies and assets to generate large-scale technology transfer.

China conducts and supports cyber intrusions into U.S. commercial computer networks to gain unauthorized access to commercially valuable business information.

After separate notice and comment proceedings, in June and August USTR released two lists of Chinese imports, with a combined annual trade value of approximately $50 billion, with the goal of obtaining the elimination of China’s harmful acts, policies and practices. Unfortunately, China has been unwilling to change its policies involving the unfair acquisition of U.S. technology and intellectual property. Instead, China responded to the United States’ tariff action by taking further steps to harm U.S. workers and businesses. In these circumstances, the President has directed the U.S. Trade Representative to increase the level of trade covered by the additional duties in order to obtain elimination of China’s unfair policies. The Administration will continue to encourage China to allow for fair trade with the United States.

CHINESE GOVERNMENT RETALIATES

Although the Presidential Proclamation and the decision to raise the tariff to 25% on January 1st would appear to pressure China to the negotiating table, that is not what happened. As one senior Chinese official recently stated, “China is not going to negotiate with a gun pointed to its head.”

In response to the tariffs on the $200 billion, on September 18th the Chinese government predictably retaliated and imposed tariffs on $60 billion in imports from the US, risking an escalation of the trade war by Trump.  China announced 5 to 10% tariffs effective September 24th on $60 billion in imports from the US ranging from imports of farm products and machinery to chemicals.

On September 18th, anticipating the China response, President Trump warned in a tweet:

“China has been taking advantage of the United States on Trade for many years. They also know that I am the one that knows how to stop it. There will be great and fast economic retaliation against China if our farmers, ranchers and/or industrial workers are targeted!”

BACKGROUND OF THE 301 CASE AND PRODUCT EXCLUSION REQUEST FOR THE $16 BILLION

With regards to the Section 301 case, to date in the Section 301 IP case, USTR has issued 25% tariffs on imports of $50 billion from China.  The first $34 billion went into effect in June 20, 2018, FIRST SET OF $34 BILLION.  USTR issued its determination in the second $16 billion, target list, in the Section 301 case on August 7th and made the tariffs effective August 23rd , PRODUCTS ON $16 BILLION LIST

On September 18th USTR in the attached notice, EXCLUSION REQUEST 16 BLLION FED REG NOTIICE, set up a product exclusion process for the $16 billion.  The due date for products exclusion requests is December 18th.  Thus, for products on Lists 1, $34 billion, and 2, $16 billion, and eventually 3, $200 billion, companies will have a second chance to exclude individual products out of the target lists in the product exclusion process.

USTR’s first round of comments were focused more on excluding specific tariff subheadings from the target list, while this second round of requests gives parties a second chance to explain why their specific particular products should be excluded from the tariffs.  The List 1 product exclusion requests are due by October 9, 2018, 301 EXCLUSIONS FED REG NOTICE.  The List 2 product exclusion requests are due by December 18th.  The products and deadlines for the List 3 product exclusion requests have not been established yet.

List 1 Exclusion Process

Exclusion Request Conditions

USTR will accept requests from all interested US persons, including trade associations. Exclusion requests must identify a “particular” product with supporting data and rationale for an exclusion. Interested persons seeking an exclusion for multiple products must also submit a separate request for each particular product.

Factors for USTR Consideration in Granting Exclusion Requests

In granting an exclusion request on a product-by-product basis, USTR will consider whether the product is available from a source outside of China, whether the additional tariffs would cause severe economic harm to the requestor or other U.S. interests, and whether the particular product is strategically important or related to Chinese industrial programs including “Made in China 2025.”  USTR is unlikely to grant any exclusion requests that undermine the objective of the Section 301 investigation.

USTR will consider each request on a product-by-product basis.  Exclusions will be granted on a product basis, meaning any individual exclusion should apply to all imports of that particular product (not just to products imported by the requestor).

            Exclusion Request Schedule for List 2. 

The USTR notice for list 2 provides:

  • Product exclusion requests are to be filed by no later than December 18, 2018.
  • Following public posting of the filed request (in docket number USTR–2018–0032 on www.regulations.gov) the public will have 14 days to file responses to the product exclusion.
  • At the close of the 14-day response period, any replies responses are due within 7-days.
  • Any exclusions granted will be effective for one year upon the publication of the exclusion determination in the Federal Register, and will apply retroactively to August 23, 2018.

            The schedule for product exclusion requests for the $200 billion in List 3 will be similar to the schedule for Lists 1 and 2.

Making Exclusion Requests – Requirements

The USTR notice provides that each request must address the specific factors set out in the bullet-point summaries listed below.  See the Product Exclusion Process and Criteria, EXCLUSION REQUEST 16 BLLION FED REG NOTIICE.

  • Identification of the particular product in terms of the physical characteristics (e.g., dimensions, material composition, or other characteristics) that distinguish it from other products within the covered 8-digit subheading.  USTR will not consider requests that identify the product at issue in terms of the identity of the producer, importer, ultimate consumer, actual use or chief use, or trademarks or tradenames.  USTR will not consider requests that identify the product using criteria that cannot be made available to the public.
  • Interested persons seeking to exclude two or more products must submit a separate request for each.
  • The 10 digit subheading of the HTSUS applicable to the particular product requested for exclusion.
  • Requesters also may submit information on the ability of U.S. Customs and Border Protection to administer the exclusion.
  • Requesters must provide the annual quantity and value of the Chinese-origin product that the requester purchased in each of the last three years. If precise annual quantity and value information are not available, USTR will accept an estimate with justification.

Exclusion requests should address the following factors:

  • Whether the particular product is available only from China.  In addressing this factor, requesters should address specifically whether the particular product and/or a comparable product is available from sources in the United States and/or in third countries.
  • Whether the imposition of additional duties on the particular product would cause severe economic harm to the requester or other U.S. interests.
  • Whether the particular product is strategically important or related to “Made in China 2025” or other Chinese industrial programs.
  • Requesters may also provide any other information or data that they consider relevant to an evaluation of the request.

All exclusion requests must be accompanied by a certification that the information submitted is complete and correct.  USTR strongly encourages interested persons to submit exclusion requests on its attached prepared request form to simplify exclusion request filings.

Products that are not produced or cannot be adequately supplied by domestic producers would have a better chance at exclusion.  Domestic producers have a chance to oppose any exclusion requests and likely would challenge any exclusion request for Chinese products that are competing with their products.

HOW DOES CHINA KILL THIS TRADE WAR? 

The Chinese government complains that it does not know which government official will make the final decision on any US China trade deal.

When looking at the Section 301 negotiations between the US and China, despite the recent move by Treasury Secretary Mnuchin, the key officials in the decision making are President Donald Trump and USTR Robert Lighthizer.  Lighthizer is the United States Trade Representative, and the Section 301 case was started by USTR so final decisions will be made by Trump and Lighthizer.

Treasury Secretary Mnuchin may be able to advise, but another Trump official who will also have influence is Larry Kudlow, the National Economic Council Director and a President Reagan free trader.  Kudlow stated on September 17th on MSNBC that President Trump has “not been satisfied” with trade talks with China and confirmed the U.S. was preparing additional tariffs because Beijing’s economic reforms were moving in the wrong direction.

CHINA HAS NOT MADE A PROPOSAL TO DEAL WITH THE CORE 301 ISSUES—IP AND FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER

But even if the Trump Administration had given a clear policy direction as to its ultimate targets in trade negotiations, apparently to date China has not given the US any indication that it will address the U.S. core complaints on the theft of intellectual property and forced technology transfers.  Without concrete proposals from the Chinese government on these two core issues, there will be no Section 301 agreement.  Simple buying missions from the Chinese government are not going to solve this deep trade crisis.

The Chinese government complains that the United States is trying to “contain” China and prevent its rise. The real issue, however, is that the US is trying to “isolate” China by teaming up with a number of different countries, including the EC, Australia, Mexico, Canada and Japan, when it comes to stealing the intellectual property of foreign companies and forcing foreign companies to turn over technology to Chinese companies and the Chinese government.

In response, one Chinese friend has told me, “The issue is China government cannot do that! That is the core for getting China Strong!”

If the Chinese government cannot give up stealing the IP of foreign companies to make China strong, the Chinese government should expect to become very isolated and to risk ostracism by the international community.

On the other hand, Trump cannot expect the Chinese government to change its entire economic system for the US.  But the Chinese government has to keep in mind that its economic system could create other problems.

Reports are that the US, Japan and the EC have held meetings aimed at dealing with China with a potential target of pushing China out of the WTO.  When China entered the WTO, Premier Zhu Rongji was in charge of the economy and pushing China to become a market economy country.  That was over 15 years ago.

After Premier Zhu retired, however, China slipped backwards, and that backward movement has accelerated under President Xi Jinping into more of a State-Ownership, State Control of the economy.  The problem is that other countries in the WTO are market economy countries.  The purpose of the countervailing duty law is that private companies should not have to compete against governments.  But if the Chinese government has decided to take over the economy and funnel money directly into companies to compete against private foreign companies, that obviously is a problem for many market economy countries, including the EC and the US.

In a September 18th editorial in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Imperialism Will Be Dangerous for China”, Walter Russell Mead, a well -known academic and opinion writer, spoke in detail about the problems China faces by its own expansionist Imperialistic policy and the fact that the well-known Communist Lenin identified China’s problem long ago:

“China’s real problem isn’t the so-called Thucydides trap, which holds that a rising power like China must clash with an established power like the U.S., the way ancient Athens clashed with Sparta. It was Lenin, not Thucydides, who foresaw the challenge the People’s Republic is now facing: He called it imperialism and said it led to economic collapse and war.

Lenin defined imperialism as a capitalist country’s attempt to find markets and investment opportunities abroad when its domestic economy is awash with excess capital and production capacity. Unless capitalist powers can keep finding new markets abroad to soak up the surplus, Lenin theorized, they would face an economic implosion, throwing millions out of work, bankrupting thousands of companies and wrecking their financial systems. This would unleash revolutionary forces threatening their regimes.

Under these circumstances, there was only one choice: expansion. In the “Age of Imperialism” of the 19th and early-20th centuries, European powers sought to acquire colonies or dependencies where they could market surplus goods and invest surplus capital in massive infrastructure projects.

Ironically, this is exactly where “communist” China stands today. Its home market is glutted by excess manufacturing and construction capacity created through decades of subsidies and runaway lending. Increasingly, neither North America, Europe nor Japan is willing or able to purchase the steel, aluminum and concrete China creates. Nor can China’s massively oversized infrastructure industry find enough projects to keep it busy. Its rulers have responded by attempting to create a “soft” empire in Asia and Africa through the Belt and Road Initiative.

Many analysts hoped that when China’s economy matured, the country would come to look more like the U.S., Europe and Japan. A large, affluent middle class would buy enough goods and services to keep industry humming. A government welfare state would ease the transition to a middle-class society.

That future is now out of reach, key Chinese officials seem to believe. Too many powerful interest groups have too much of a stake in the status quo for Beijing’s policy makers to force wrenching changes on the Chinese economy. But absent major reforms, the danger of a serious economic shock is growing.

The Belt and Road Initiative was designed to sustain continued expansion in the absence of serious economic reform. Chinese merchants, bankers and diplomats combed the developing world for markets and infrastructure projects to keep China Inc. solvent. In a 2014 article in the South China Morning Post, a Chinese official said one objective of the BRI is the “transfer of overcapacity overseas.” Call it “imperialism with Chinese characteristics.”

But as Lenin observed a century ago, the attempt to export overcapacity to avoid chaos at home can lead to conflict abroad. He predicted rival empires would clash over markets, but other dynamics also make this strategy hazardous. Nationalist politicians resist “development” projects that saddle their countries with huge debts to the imperialist power. As a result, imperialism is a road to ruin. . . .

Meanwhile, China’s mercantilist trade policies-the subsidies, the intellectual-property theft, and the coordinated national efforts to identify new target industries and make China dominant in them-are keeping Europe and Japan in Washington’s embrace despite their dislike of President Trump.

China’s chief problem isn’t U.S. resistance to its rise. It is that the internal dynamics of its economic system force its rulers to choose between putting China through a wrenching and destabilizing economic adjustment, or else pursuing an expansionist development policy that will lead to conflict and isolation abroad. Lenin thought that capitalist countries in China’s position were doomed to a series of wars and revolutions.

Fortunately, Lenin was wrong. Seventy years of Western history since World War II show that with the right economic policies, a mix of rising purchasing power and international economic integration can transcend the imperialist dynamics of the 19th and early 20th centuries. But unless China can learn from those examples, it will remain caught in the “Lenin trap” in which its strategy for continued domestic stability produces an ever more powerful anti-China coalition around the world.

HUGE SEA CHANGE IN US CHINA TRADE RELATIONS

This is a very different time than any in 30 plus years of US China trade relations.  From this 301 experience, am watching a Tsunami, a huge wave, of change as many, many US importers in the Section 301 $200 billion case are moving to source products in other countries. Products ranging from wood cabinets, wood doors, aluminum curtain wall, paper gift bags, gift wrapping, household thermometers, and quartz surface products.  All of these importers are looking at second sources of supply so as to move out of China.  US importers pay these duties, not the Chinese companies.

Moreover, Chinese companies are also moving to third countries to produce products targeted by trade cases and the Section 301 target lists.  We represented several Chinese companies in a Citric Acid from Thailand AD and CVD case.  In that case, all the Chinese companies moved to Thailand to get out of the cross hairs of a US AD case against Citric Acid from China.

Thailand has many benefits for Chinese companies.  Under US AD and CVD law, Thailand is considered a market economy country, which mean Commerce must use actual prices and costs in Thailand to calculate AD rates.  In that case, therefore, the AD rates for the Chinese companies in Thailand ranged from only 6 to 15%.  In addition, and much to everyone’s surprise Commerce made a negative determination in the CVD case finding that all the subsidies were 0 or de minimis for the Chinese companies in Thailand.

Also in contrast to China, to date Thailand is a GSP country so US importers do not have to pay normal US Customs duties on imports of products from China, which can be in the 6.5% range.

With the raging US China trade war, all of these benefits are going to push more Chinese companies to leave China and move to a third country.  The AD order on Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China resulted in a large part of the Chinese furniture industry moving to Vietnam.  Now Vietnam exports more furniture than China.

Recently, JP Morgan issued a report predicting that if the US China trade war continues, the trade battle will cost at least 700,000 jobs.  If the trade war becomes protracted, the job loss could be as high as 5.5 million jobs.  See https://business.financialpost.com/news/economy/the-trade-war-will-likely-cost-china-700000-jobs-jpmorgan-says.

The point is that truthfully, the Chinese government needs to step up and settle this trade war quickly and put a concrete proposal on the table to deal with the IP and forced technology transfer issue.

Trump is not going to back down.  On September 17th, Trump stated in a tweet:

“Tariffs have put the US in a very strong bargaining position with Billions of Jobs and Dollars flowing into our Country and yet cost increases have thus far been almost unnoticeable.  If Countries will not make fair deals with us, they will be “Tariffed”

In this situation, China needs to take the first step because it has the most to lose.  One friend of mine who knows China well believes that the Chinese government will not settle, but that China is moving to a massive recession similar to Japan’s lost decade.  That lost decade cost the Japanese economy and its people, trillions of dollars.

Moreover, the Chinese government should be careful to not fall into the Japanese trap.  Just before the lost decade, many, many Japanese companies moved out of Japan to foreign countries to get around trade orders on products, such as automobiles, televisions, and auto parts.  This led to the “hollowing out” of the Japanese industry.

This would be very big problem for China becasue it has 1.3 billion people and needs to keep its citizens employed.  Rising unemployment because of the hollowing out of the Chinese industry would put the Chinese government in a very difficult situation.

THE EVER EXPANDING ORBIT OF ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AGAINST CHINA

IMPORTERS BEWARE — EXPANDING THE SCOPE AND RETROACTIVE LIABILITY IN AD AND CVD CASES TO COVER DOWNSTREAM PRODUCTS AND IMPORTS FROM THIRD COUNTRIES, INCLUDING CANADA

If a US company imports products from China or other countries, which are or maybe covered by an antidumping or countervailing duty order, the importer must be very careful and cannot ignore the situation.  Two recent examples are the Commerce Department’s decision to expand antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders on hardwood plywood to cover ready to assemble cabinets sold to the construction industry and the problem of third country/Canadian imports.

WOODEN CABINETS AND HARDWOOD PLYWOOD ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY ORDERS

On September 10, 2018, the Commerce Department issued its final scope ruling on Ready To Assemble (“RTA”) Cabinets in the Hardwood Plywood AD and CVD case.  In that attached decision, DOC FINAL SCOPE DETERMINATION, Commerce decided that the exclusion for RTA cabinets only applied to cabinets sold to the ultimate end user, the consumer, and not RTA cabinets sold to contractors, which install them in high rise buildings.  In effect, Commerce expanded the AD and CVD orders to cover RTA cabinets sold to the construction industry, which many importers thought had been excluded by language in the AD and CVD orders.

In its decision, Commerce made two important points:

“The RTA kitchen cabinet exclusion does not expressly address the manner in which RTA kitchen cabinets must be packaged to be suitable for purchase nor expressly define the term “end-user.” Nevertheless, the exclusion’s unambiguous requirements necessitate that, to qualify for the exclusion, RTA kitchen cabinets must be packaged in a single package suitable for purchase by a retail consumer. The plain language of the scope requires that the RTA kitchen cabinets be “packaged for sale for ultimate purchase by an end-user” and requires that the RTA kitchen cabinets be packaged with “instructions providing guidance on the assembly of a finished unit of cabinetry.” We find that, together, these requirements make clear that the end-user is a retail consumer, as retail consumers are the end users that would require instructions for assembling a finished unit of cabinetry. . . .

We disagree with the U.S. Importers’, Chinese Exporters’, and IKEA’s argument that the requestors’ scope ruling asks Commerce to redefine plywood to include wooden furniture and furniture parts. The petitioners made clear during the investigations that furniture was not covered by their proposed scope for these investigations. This scope ruling does not expand the scope but, rather, clarifies that, to qualify for the RTA kitchen cabinet exclusion, the RTA kitchen cabinet must meet the requirements of the exclusion, and the requirements necessitate that the RTA kitchen cabinet components be in a single package suitable for purchase by an end- use retail consumer.”

Many US importers fought hard against the motion by Hardwood Plywood Petitioners and Master Brands to narrow the exclusion to cover only cabinets sold to retail customers.  But this decision now exposes the US importers of RTA cabinets to millions of dollars in retroactive liability for AD and CVD duties.

Although there are strategies to deal with this problem, including an appeal to the Court of International Trade and other procedures for dealing with this problem, the US cabinet importer that sticks its head in the sand is going to wake up one morning with an enormous bill from the US government.  Old Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared”

IMPORTS FROM CANADA AND THIRD COUNTRIES COVERED BY AN AD AND CVD ORDER ON CHINESE PRODUCTS

We have been involved in several review investigations involving products from China, which are covered by an AD and CVD Order, where the target has been a third country exporter, including a Canadian exporter.  We have seen situations where a Chinese exporter/producer company of a product believes it did not export anything to the US during the review period.

Based on import data into the US, however, the Commerce Department determined that the small Chinese company was a mandatory respondent and had to spend 10s of thousands of dollars responding to the entire Commerce questionnaire and be subject to verification in the case.

The problem was although the Chinese company sold nothing to the US, it did sell to Canada.  Apparently, the Canadian customer then sold the products to the US without realizing that the products would be hit with antidumping and countervailing duties.

Under the US AD and CVD law, sales made by the Chinese company, which are imported into the US, are only considered the sales of the Chinese company if the Chinese company knew at the time it sold the product to a third country that it was destined for the US.  This can be a problem for customers in third countries, including Canada, Hong Kong, and other countries.

In those situations, where the Chinese company sold a product to a third country, such as Canada, where the Chinese company did not know the product was destined to the US, which company is the respondent in the AD and CVD case?  The answer is the third country exporter, which, in effect, has become a “reseller” in the case.  Third country resellers are respondents and can get their own rates in AD and CVD cases against China.

But the problem in a review investigation for a third country reseller, including a Canadian company and its US importer, is that since the Chinese company made no direct sales to the United States, it will probably give up and not participate in the AD and CVD review investigation.  But the US importer of the products from Canada, which can often be a company affiliated with the Canadian company, will find itself owing substantial AD and CVD duties to the US government.  In one situation, we talked to a Canadian company that had to shut down its entire US operations because they exported chemical products from Canada to the US that were covered by US AD and CVD orders.  All of a sudden, the US subsidiary was hit with millions of dollars in retroactive liability because of an AD and CVD case.

US importers that import and Canadian and third country resellers that export products originally from China, which are covered or could be covered by US AD and CVD orders, cannot afford to be complacent and ignore the situation.  The companies must be proactive, or they could wake up one morning and find themselves liable for millions in dollars in retroactive AD and CVD duties.  An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

MORE EXCLUSIONS SECTION 201 SOLAR CASE

On September 19, 2018, USTR excluded more Solar Products from the Section 201 Solar case.  In the attached Federal Register notice, USTR NOTICE EXCLUDING PRODUCTS FROM 201 CASE, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) excluded the following solar products from the Section 201 solar case.  The relevant parts of the notice are:

Exclusions  From  the  Safeguard  Measure

USTR has considered certain requests for exclusion of particular products  and  determined  that  exclusion  of  the  CSPV  products  described in  subdivisions  (c)(iii)(7)  through  (c)(iii)(14)  of  U.S.  note 18  to subchapter  III  of  chapter  99  of  the  HTS,  as  amended  in  the  Annex  to this  notice,  from  the  safeguard  measure  established  in  Proclamation 9693  would  not  undermine  the  objectives  of  the  safeguard  measure.

Therefore, USTR finds  that  these  CSPV  products  should  be  excluded  from the  safeguard  measure.  Accordingly,  under  the  authority  vested  in  the Trade  Representative  by  Proclamation  9693,  the  Trade  Representative modifies  the  HTS  provisions  created  by  the  Annex  to  Proclamation  9693 as set forth in the Annex to this notice. . . .

Annex

The  following  provisions  supersede  those  currently  in  the  HTS  and are  effective  with  respect  to  articles  entered,  or  withdrawn  from  a warehouse  for  consumption,  on  or  after  12:01  a.m.,  EST,  on  September 19,  2018.  The  HTS  is  modified  as  follows:

U.S.  note  18  to  subchapter  III  of  chapter  99  of  the  HTS  is modified:

By  inserting  the  following  new  subdivisions  in  numerical sequence at the end of subdivision (c)(iii):

“(7)  off-grid,  45  watt  or  less  solar  panels,  each  with  length  not exceeding  950  mm  and  width  of  100  mm  or  more  but  not  over  255  mm,  with a  surface  area  of  2,500  cm\2\  or  less,  with  a  pressure-laminated tempered  glass  cover  at  the  time  of  entry  but  not  a  frame,  electrical cables or connectors, or an internal battery;

  1. 4 watt  or  less  solar  panels,  each  with  a  length  or  diameter  of 70  mm  or  more  but  not  over  235  mm,  with  a  surface  area  not  exceeding 539  cm\2\,  and  not  exceeding  16  volts,  provided  that  no  such  panel  with these characteristics shall contain an internal battery or external computer  peripheral  ports  at  the  time  of  entry;
  1. solar panels  with  a  maximum  rated  power  of  equal  to  or  less than  60  watts,  having  the  following  characteristics,  provided  that  no such  panel  with  those  characteristics  shall  contain  an  internal  battery or  external  computer  peripheral  ports  at  the  time  of  entry:  (A)  Length of  not  more  than  482  mm  and  width  of  not  more  than  635  mm  or  (B)  a total  surface  area  not  exceeding  3,061  cm\2\;
  2. flexible and semi-flexible  off-grid  solar  panels  designed  for use  with  motor  vehicles  and  boats,  where  the  panels  range  in  rated wattage  from  10  to  120  watts,  inclusive;
  3.    frameless solar  panels  in  a  color  other  than  black  or  blue with  a  total  power  output  of  90  watts  or  less  where  the  panels  have  a uniform  surface  without  visible  solar  cells  or  busbars;
  1.     solar cells  with  a  maximum  rated  power  between  3.4  and  6.7 watts,  inclusive,  having  the  following  characteristics:  (A)  A  cell surface  area  between  154  cm\2\  and  260  cm\2\,  inclusive,  (B)  no  visible busbars  or  gridlines  on  the  front  of  the  cell,  and  (C)  more  than  100 interdigitated fingers of tin-coated solid copper adhered to the back of  the  cell,  with  the  copper  portion  of  the  metal  fingers  having  a thickness  of  greater  than  0.01  mm;
  2. solar panels  with  a  maximum  rated  power  between  320  and  500 watts,  inclusive,  having  the  following  characteristics:  (A)  Length between  1,556  mm  and  2,070  mm  inclusive,  and  width  between  1,014  mm  and 1,075  mm,  inclusive,  (B)  where  the  solar  cells  comprising  the  panel have  no  visible  busbars  or  gridlines  on  the  front  of  the  cells,  and  (C) the  solar  cells  comprising  the  panel  have  more  than  100  interdigitated fingers of tin-coated solid copper adhered to the back of the cells, with  the  copper  portion  of  the  metal  fingers  having  thickness  greater than  0.01  mm;

14.      modules  (as  defined  in  note  18(g)  to  this  subchapter) incorporating  only  CSPV  cells  that  are  products  of  the  United  States and not incorporating any CSPV cells that are the product of any other country.”

NEW NAFTA NEGOTIATONS—THE CANADIAN DAIRY PROBLEM

The NAFTA negotiations between Mexico and the US have primarily wrapped up, but the question now is whether Canada will be willing to join the party.  The key issue is dairy and the 275% tariff on US dairy products to Canada.

Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajard has stated that negotiators need at least 10 days to put together “what’s going to be presented in any of the scenarios.” That means Thursday, Sept. 20 could be the last day for Canadian and American officials to announce a preliminary deal that offers enough time for the technical teams to prepare the text.

U.S. officials are demanding that Canada make major concessions on dairy and the tariffs on US dairy exports to Canada.  Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s Liberal Party wants to maintain its allies in Ontario and Quebec where the powerful dairy industry is concentrated. Trump, who is watching the midterms closely, wants to increase support from the farmers, particularly from the hard-hit dairy sector.  So the question is which country will blink first.

NEW EUROPEAN TRADE AGREEMENT

After discussions in Brussels and Washington, both sides know there are major differences over trade policy on cars and farming — meaning a large trans-Atlantic trade deal will have to wait. Instead, in the near-term negotiators will focus on regulatory cooperation on topics such as car blinkers, cosmetics, insurance and driverless vehicles.

USTR Lighthizer is pushing to “finalize outcomes” with the EU by November, as Trump wants a success story for the pending elections. The EU equally wants to create goodwill that will stop Trump from following through on his repeated threats to slap higher tariffs on European cars.

Susan Danger, the Chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce to the EU, said that “one school of thought” for how to move forward is “to do things piecemeal and address the low-hanging fruit.”

The China angle: Strategically, Lighthizer and Republican senators like Lindsey Graham want a swift deal with the Europeans so as to team up with the EU against the bigger mutual target in the trade area: China.

NEW ANTIDUMPING CASE

MATTRESSES FROM CHINA

On September 18th, 2018, Corsicana Mattress Company, Elite Comfort Solutions, Future Foam Inc., FXI, Inc., Innocor, Inc., Kolcraft Enterprises Inc., Leggett & Platt, Incorporated, Serta Simmons Bedding, LLC, and Tempur Sealy International, Inc. filed a new antidumping case against Mattresses from China.

If anyone has any questions about the 301 process, antidumping or countervailing duty law or other trade issues, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP’S TRADE WAR AGAINST DOWNSTREAM INDUSTRIES, SECTION 232 CASES STEEL AND ALUMINUM, SECTION 201 CASE SOLAR CELLS, BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES, NAFTA AND 337

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR MAY 26, 2017

Dear Friends,

This blog post is coming out very late because I have been very busy with so many trade cases being filed.  In fact, this is the most trade cases I have seen in my lifetime filed in such a short period.  Every day there seems to be another trade case.

For the last two weeks I have been intensely involved in an antidumping and countervailing duty case on mechanical tubing.  We are representing auto parts companies, which have warned the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) if they go affirmative and find injury in the case, in all probability the companies will close their US operations and move offshore.  The US producers bringing the petition want to force auto parts companies to buy their commodity mechanical tubing, which is sold to the oil & gas industry and goes down a hole.  The auto industry needs made to order mechanical tubing as their raw material because of the advanced designs and safety requirements in the United States.

If the United States is going to block raw materials, US downstream industries will have no choice.  They will move offshore to obtain the high quality raw materials they need to not only be competitive but also produce high quality safe auto parts.  In this first article below, one can read directly the public statements of these auto parts producers to the ITC.

Meanwhile, Trump is increasing the trade war.  Throughout the Presidential campaign, Trump threatened to put tariffs on many different products.  With Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross, President Trump has discovered Section 232 National Security cases against Steel and Aluminum.  There are no checks on the President’s power in Section 232 cases.  No check at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), the Courts or the WTO.  Once the Commerce Department issues a report, then Trump has the power to impose tariffs or other remedies.

If you look at the link to the Commerce Department hearing in the Section 232 Steel case, at the end of the hearing you will hear numerous downstream companies telling Commerce to exclude their products and if they cannot get the imported steel, their companies will close.

Meanwhile, numerous antidumping and countervailing duty cases have been filed against aluminum foil, tool chests, biodiesel, tooling and aircraft just to name a few.  As described below, Trump has found his Trade War, but the real victim in this trade war may be US downstream industries.

In addition to two Section 232 cases, Suniva has filed a Section 201 case against imports of solar cells from every country.  The main targets appear to be third world countries where Chinese companies have moved their production facilities and Canada and Mexico.  The ironic point of this filing is that Solar World, the company that brought the original Solar Cells and Solar products cases against China, has now become insolvent and just today announced that it is supporting the petition.  Companies that were buying solar cells from Solar World all of a sudden cannot get the solar cells they paid for because of the insolvency.

Maybe this is why Trade Adjustment Assistance to Companies is so important.  With TAA, Solar World might have been saved with no damage to the US Polysilicon industry.  But despite the fact that section 201 requires US companies to submit adjustment plans and the Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers are the real trade adjustment experts, President Trump has zeroed out the Trade Adjustment Centers in his budget.  Apparently all President Trump wants to do is to put up protectionist walls to protect US companies and industries, rather than make them more competitive.  Very short sighted.

On the Trade Policy side, with protectionist walls appear to be going up.  Lighthizer was just confirmed as USTR and immediately plunged into NAFTA negotiations.  USTR Lighthizer has pledged to protect agriculture in the negotiations.

The only good news is that when Trump released his Tax Plan, border adjustment taxes were not part of the proposal.  But in a recent hearing before the House Ways and Means, one could tell Congressmen are split, but Republicans want border adjustment taxes.  On May 23rd, however, Treasury Secretary Mnuchin told House Democrats on Ways and Means that he and President Trump are opposed to the Border Adjustment tax.

One interesting note is that Trump’s proposal to cut corporate taxes to 15% has China scared.  Chinese companies could move to the US to set up production

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR

With the number of trade cases being filed, including the Section 232 cases against Steel and Aluminum, which give President Trump carte blanche authority to issue tariffs and other import restrictions, the President truly is creating a trade war.  Trump’s threat to kill NAFTA scared Canada and Mexico to come to the table.  One of the reasons for Trump’s threat is the Canadian threat not to drop its barriers to US dairy exports.

One Canadian Parliament member threatened President Trump not to get so tough on trade.  The member should understand that such threats play right into the hands of Donald Trump and his argument that NAFTA is not truly a free trade agreement.

But all these threats and trade cases will make it very difficult to conclude trade agreements. In looking at Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’s plan to get to 3% GDP increase, one pillar of the plan is increased exports.  Exports, however, will not increase if there is a trade war, and it sure looks like that is going to happen.

From January 1, 2017 through March 31, 2017, the GDP was an anemic 0.7%.  Trump has to change that dramatically and deciding to have a trade war with every country is not the way to change the GDP number.

In fact, all these trade cases could be the Achilles heal of Trump’s Economic policy.  Trump’s carrots to encourage domestic industry, including lowering taxes and cutting regulations, are not the issue.  Protectionist walls to try and protect raw material industries, however, will have an opposite effect because of the collateral damage these orders will have on US downstream producers, which use these raw material inputs.  As Ronald Reagan stated, “Protectionism becomes destructionism; it costs jobs.”  But protectionism is not a partisan issue, as the only one more protectionist than President Trump may be the Democratic party.

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR ON DOWNSTREAM INDUSTRIES—COLD DRAWN MECHANICAL TUBING

To understand the real impact of the Trump Steel War on downstream industries, including the US auto parts and automobile industries, read the quotes below.  The Automobile Industry is going to be hit hard.

On April 19, 2017, ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, PTC Alliance Corp., Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc. (collectively, “Petitioners”) filed an antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) petition against imports of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from China, Germany, India, Italy, Korea and Switzerland.

Cold-drawn mechanical tubing can be sold as a commodity product to be used in the oil & gas, mining, agricultural and construction industries.  Certain types of mechanical tubing are also sold as commodity products to the auto industry to produce axles and drive shafts, but there is another segment of the auto parts industry, which produces specialized automotive products.  Because of US safety requirements, the specialized auto products companies need made to order mechanical tubing.  They cannot simply buy mechanical tubing off the shelf.  Petitioners, however, want the auto parts companies to buy their commodity products.

In order to win the antidumping and the countervailing duty case, Petitioners must establish dumping and subsidization at the Commerce Department and injury to the U.S. industry at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  Once the petition was filed, the ITC immediately started up its 45 day preliminary injury investigation.   On May 10, 2017, the ITC held a hearing in Washington DC in the preliminary investigation and then we submitted a post-conference brief.

We represent in the case importers and two US auto parts companies. The importers, including these specialized auto parts companies, are very worried because the Commerce Department preliminary determinations, which will be issued very soon on September 16, 2017 (“CVD)” and November 15, 2017 (“AD”),  are when their liability begins.  With the Trump Administration and the Commerce Department’s war on steel imports, the duties are expected to be very high.  This is especially true with regard to China since Commerce does not use actual Chinese prices and costs to determine dumping.  Like many downstream customers in US AD and CVD cases, the customers are telling the ITC that they may have to close production and move offshore to get access to the higher quality competitive raw steel products.  Our hope is that the ITC will listen to these arguments, but to date the ITC has ignored them.  End users do not have standing in AD and CVD cases at the ITC.

As stated in our ITC postconference brief:

“The Petitioners/US mechanical tubing industry in this case will recover as their commodity markets in the energy, agricultural, mining and machinery markets recover.  But since antidumping and countervailing duty orders stay in place for 5 to 30 years, the impact of this case on the US downstream auto part and automobile industries will last for many years.

If the Commission goes affirmative in this case, we will see many auto parts producers close shop and move to another country where they can buy the high quality mechanical tubing that they need to compete with the loss of thousands of US jobs.  Many of these companies, including voestalpline Rotec Inc., already have operations in Canada, Mexico and through their parent company in numerous other countries and they will move their operations to obtain the high quality raw materials that they need to safely compete in the downstream auto parts market.”

As Andrew Ball, President, of voestalpine Rotec in Lafayette, Indiana stated at the Preliminary Conference:

“Our customers will not allow a change in the supply base, and this material is absolutely not available from these U.S. producers, thus making the decision to move equipment to other countries or procuring the completed components from our other global facilities in Austria, the United Kingdom, France, Spain and Poland a likely outcome.

With so much discussion surrounding trade imbalance, it is ironic that because of this case, we as a U.S. manufacturer will be forced to relocate millions of dollars of manufacturing equipment with significant loss of U.S. jobs for specialty high value, highly engineered components because several commodity U.S. producers are determined to ignore market realities.

I can say with a high degree of certainty that none of the petitioners will see one extra pound, not one single foot of material as a result of this action.  I am certain, however, that companies like ours and our customers will accelerate the relocation of domestic manufacturing to other countries, and all this business will flow in NAFTA region as semi-finished components, thus avoiding the dumping duty altogether. . . .

I simply cannot ignore the reality that the automotive industry waits for no one and for nothing.  To highlight this point, in 2013 our facility took a direct hit from an F-3 tornado, obliterating 30 percent of our manufacturing capacity.  Within 48 hours, we had the rest of the facility fully operational and with the help of our international partners and domestic competition, we had the balance of our business sourced and supplying parts to assembly facilities throughout the world within four days. Not one single production line was affected as a result. . . .

That was a natural disaster.  This one is man-made, and I can assure you that in 45 days if this case is not dismissed, these actions will accelerate the market forces already working against our U.S. manufacturing base and will either force our hand or the hand of our customers to move business overseas in many places closer to the customer locations in Mexico, to ensure the continuity of cost, quality and service, resulting in the loss of precious U.S. manufacturing jobs, future investment and all but killing the chances of fixing the trade imbalance.”

As Andrew Ball further stated in the ITC Postconference brief:

“This petition puts at risk our factory, our jobs and the factories and jobs of our US customers and subcontractors. Increases to prices that are already considered high in the global market will result in our customers resourcing our business to other suppliers or will force them to insist that we move equipment to other locations in the world to avoid this unjustified action. I was always raised that before I ask for help it was expected that I had done everything I could to help myself. Why then have none of the petitioners made sales calls to my organization looking to reform or start a partnership ahead of this action? Unfortunately, if you vote affirmative, resource decisions will be taken well ahead of the final DOC determination for risk mitigation purposes. I trust that you will analyze all details in this case and make your determination based on clear “facts and data.”

Another auto parts company stated in the brief:

We have fixed contracts with our vendors and customers, so any increase in piece price will be countered by evaluating the region that we manufacture products in or may require that we look at bringing in the  components from other countries. If your vote is affirmative then we will be making these decisions ahead of  the determination by the DOC in September as the risk is too high to wait.

If these auto parts component companies do not move, their customers, the auto parts producers, which are multi-nationals, will move because auto parts companies cannot buy commodity products when safety issues are a concern.  Product Liability cases can bankrupt an auto parts producer.

In her statement at the Preliminary Conference, Julie Ellis, President of Tube Fabrication of Logansport, Indiana echoed Andrew Ball’s statement:

The impact of this case on downstream manufacturing operations will result in the loss of thousands of jobs, maybe even more jobs than those saved by the case.  If we are unable to provide our customers with tube components at a competitive global price, they will be forced to move production from the United States to other countries.

Most of our customers already have global operations in place and have the ability to divert the production away from the U.S. locations to remain competitive.  The loss of business would not only impact businesses like TFI, but coating facilities, plating operations, heat treating, tool and die shops, machine shops, testing facilities, transportation companies, along with our customers’ U.S. facilities, and further downstream manufacturing.

In other words, in response to this petition, we fear that U.S. automotive companies will simply shift and procure the final parts with the tubes in them from multiple overseas operations.  From our point of view, this case will not result in any more tubes being switched to U.S. producers.  Instead, it will simply be a lose-lose situation.

TFI is representative of many U.S. producers at a comparable level of U.S. production.  The inability of Tube Fabrication and other companies in similar situations to remain competitive will result in a tremendous loss of jobs in the U.S. downstream manufacturing sector.  We will be forced to either move portions of our operations to Mexico, where we currently ship 20 percent of the components that we manufacture in the United States and/or cut USW jobs and benefits.

In her statement attached to the Brief, Julie Ellis states:

This is a rural community with limited manufacturing operations. We are an asset to the local economy, pay our taxes and provide community support. Thru the years we have watched as many of the local manufacturing companies have closed up operations and moved to Mexico and overseas. The inability of Tube Fabrication and other companies in similar situations, to remain competitive, could result in a tremendous loss of jobs in the downstream US manufacturing sector. It could potentially equate to thousands of people being displaced. We must have the ability to procure our raw materials at a competitive global price or we will lose business! As I said in my statement at the hearing, 20% of the components that we manufacture ship to Mexico. Please don’t force us to be the next ones to go!

Petitioners argue that respondents are simply exaggerating the problem and that the issue is simply dumped low import prices.  But in this case, the issue is not just price; it is quality.  As one importer, Salem Steel, stated at the Preliminary Conference, the same scenario played out as a result of the Section 201 Steel case, where many steel products were shut out of the US market:

“This scenario has happened before. One widely quoted study by Dr. Joseph Francois and Laura Baughman of Trade Partnership Worldwide, LLC showed that as a result of Section 201 investigation brought at the behest of the U.S. steel industry, 200,000 Americans lost their jobs to higher steel prices in 2002.

More Americans lost their jobs to higher steel prices in 2002 than the total number employed by the entire steel industry itself in the U.S.  Every U.S. state experienced employment losses from higher steel costs, with the highest losses occurring in California, Texas, Ohio, Michigan, Illinois, Pennsylvania, New York and Florida.”

In the attached Trade Partnership article, STEEL USERS ARTICLE1, Dr. Joseph Francois and Laura Baughman state at page 1 and 2 of their article that as a result of the Section 201 trade restrictions on steel:

“200,000 Americans lost their jobs to higher steel prices during 2002. These lost jobs represent approximately $4 billion in lost wages from February to November 2002.

One out of four (50,000) of these job losses occurred in the metal manufacturing, machinery and equipment and transportation equipment and parts sectors.

Job losses escalated steadily over 2002, peaking in November (at 202,000 jobs), and slightly declining to 197,000 jobs in December.

More American workers lost their jobs in 2002 to higher steel prices than the total number employed by the U.S. steel industry itself (187,500 Americans were employed by U.S. steel producers in December 2002).

Every U.S. state experienced employment losses from higher steel costs, with the highest losses occurring in California (19,392 jobs lost), Texas (15,826 jobs lost), Ohio (10,553 jobs lost), Michigan (9,829 jobs lost), Illinois (9,621 jobs lost), Pennsylvania (8,400 jobs lost), New York (8,901 jobs lost) and Florida (8,370 jobs lost). Sixteen states lost at least 4,500 steel consuming jobs each over the course of 2002 from higher steel prices. . . .

Steel tariffs caused shortages of imported product and put U.S. manufacturers of steel-containing products at a disadvantage relative to their foreign competitors. In the absence of the tariffs, the damage to steel consuming employment would have been significantly less than it was in 2002.

The analysis shows that American steel consumers have borne heavy costs from higher steel prices caused by shortages, tariffs and trade remedy duties, among other factors. Some customers of steel consumers have moved sourcing offshore as U.S. producers of steel-containing products became less reliable and more expensive. Other customers refused to accept higher prices from their suppliers and forced them to absorb the higher steel costs, which put many in a precarious (or worse) financial condition. The impact on steel-consuming industries has been significant.”

But the remedy in the Section 201 case lasts from three to five years and in the Section 201 Steel case, President Bush lifted the restraints on Steel imports sooner because of the very damaging impact on downstream users.  Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders stay in place for five to thirty years.

The experience of downstream users in the Mechanical Tubing case reflects the experience of many downstream users in steel cases, such as the recent AD and CVD cases against Carbon Steel Wire Rod.  There are real costs that will be borne by US downstream companies and their employees because of this Mechanical Tubing trade case and any AD and CVD orders that are issued.  The Commission should have learned the same lesson from its AD order on Magnesium from China, which has been in place for more than ten years.  This AD Order protects a one company US industry in Utah, but it has led to the demise of the entire US Magnesium dye casting industry and the movement of many light weight auto parts companies to Canada.  But since downstream industries have no standing in an AD and CVD cases and there is no part of the injury provision to take this collateral damage into account, although downstream industries can testify at the ITC, in fact, they have no voice.

As Andrew Ball of voestalpine Rotec stated at the Preliminary Conference, ”I simply cannot ignore the reality that the automotive industry waits for no one and for nothing.”  With Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders staying in place for 5 to 30 years, if the Commission does not look at market realities, many, many US auto parts companies will close down and move to a third countries.  The real result of this Mechanical Tubing case brought by the Petitioners could well be to hollow out the US auto parts industry and lead to the destruction of the Petitioners’ US customers.

This is the real cost of the Trump trade war—thousands of jobs lost in downstream industries.

SECTION 232 INVESTIGATIONS  — STEEL AND ALUMINUM

In response to pressure from President Trump, Commerce Secretary Ross has self-initiated National Security cases under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, 19 U.S.C. 1862, against imports of steel and aluminum, which go directly into downstream US production.  The danger of these cases is that there is no check on Presidential power if the Commerce Department finds that steel or aluminum “is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security, the Secretary shall so advise the President”.  The Secretary shall also advise the President on potential remedies.

If the Secretary reports affirmatively, the President has 90 days to determine whether it concurs with the Secretary’s determination and “determine the nature and duration of the action that, in the judgment of the President, must be taken to adjust the imports of the article and its derivatives so that such imports will not threaten to impair the national security.”

Once the President makes his affirmative determination, he will report his decision to Congress.  According to the Statute, on Petroleum and Petroleum products, the Congress can disapprove the decision, but there is no reference to Steel or Aluminum so it is questionable whether Congress can overrule the President in these cases.   The statute also does not provide for any appeal to the Court of International Trade.  Commerce also is very protectionist and in antidumping and countervailing duty cases, the only check is the injury determination by the independent US International Trade Commission.  There is no such determination under Section 232.

Moreover, in these Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases, it is questionable how much weight Commerce will give to comments or testimony by downstream raw material users.  This is dangerous because tariffs on steel products may cause real harm to the downstream automobile industry, which is important for National Security too.

STEEL

On April 20, 2017, President Trump and the Commerce Department in the attached press announcement and fact sheet along with a Federal Register notice, Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Steel on U.S, Presidential Memorandum Prioritizes Commerce Steel Investigation, COMMERCE FED REG SECTION 232 NOTICE, announced the self-initiation of a Section 232 National Security case against imports of steel from every country.  See video of Trump signing the Executive Order with Secretary Ross and Steel Producers at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiVfNOl-_Ho.

Commerce held a hearing on May 24th in this case.  The video of the hearing can be found at https://www.commerce.gov/file/public-hearing-section-232-investigation-steel-imports-national-security.  Witnesses were given five minutes each to make their concerns known.  Written comments are due at the Commerce Department on May 31st.

At the hearing, Secretary Ross stated that a written report would go to the President by the end of June.

At the end of the hearing, several downstream users asked Commerce to exclude certain steel products from any remedy in the Section 232 case.  Counsel for the Steel Importers warned Commerce about retaliation against US exports of military products, including airplanes and agriculture products.

At the start of the hearing, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said something has to be done to help the Steel producers.  In the past Secretary Ross has stated that the Section 232 case is meant to fill the gaps created by the patchwork of antidumping and countervailing duties on foreign steel, which he said have provided only limited relief to the U.S. industry:

“It’s a fairly porous system and while it has accomplished some fair measure of reduction, it doesn’t solve the whole problem.  So we are groping here to see whether the facts warrant a more comprehensive solution that would deal with a very wide range of steel products and a very wide range of countries.”

At the Trump Press Conference, Ross stated:

I am proud to stand here today and say that, under your leadership, we are restoring the primacy of American national security, American workers, and American businesses.

For years, we have simply reacted to over 150 cases of improper imports of foreign steel into this country. With our investigation launched last night, the federal government will finally become proactive.

This investigation will help ensure steel import issues do not make us less safe in a world that is increasingly fraught with geopolitical tensions.

The sheer volume of steel trade cases makes it clear that global steel overcapacity has an impact on our economy, but for the first time we will examine its impact on our national security.

We will conduct this investigation thoroughly and expeditiously so that we can fully enforce our trade laws and defend this country against those who would do us harm.

I look forward to the completion of this investigation so that I can report not just the findings, but also any concrete solutions that we may deem appropriate.

Under section 232 the Commerce Department will determine whether steel imports “threaten to impair” national security.  Commerce must issue its findings to the White House within 270 days, along with recommendations on what steps to take.

But Ross said that the investigation may move along a quicker track, citing the abundance of steel data the U.S. already has on hand from its past investigations as well as a memorandum from President Donald Trump that calls for the agency to expedite the process.  In fact, at the hearing, Secretary Ross stated that a report to the President will be issued by the end of June.

Once Commerce’s review is completed, the president has 90 days to decide whether to accept or reject its recommendations. The statute gives the administration wide latitude to act, including raising tariffs

Secretary Ross further stated in the past:

“We will conduct this investigation thoroughly and expeditiously so that, if necessary, we can take actions to defend American national security, workers, and businesses against foreign threats.  This investigation will help determine whether steel import issues are making us less safe in a world that is increasingly fraught with geopolitical tensions.”

While the use of Section 232 is rare, the actual deployment of tariffs under the 1962 law is even rarer. Commerce last conducted a Section 232 probe of iron and steel in 2001, but ultimately decided that the goods posed no national security threat, and no further action was taken.

The last time an administration forged ahead with import relief under the law was 1975, when President Gerald Ford hiked license fees and other charges on shipments of imported petroleum during the throes of the mid-70s oil crisis. President Richard Nixon also used Section 232 to impose an across-the-board 10 percent surcharge program in 1971.

But with the new protectionist outlook of the Trump Administration, the huge steel overcapacity in China, and the fact that there are no checks under section 232, this action could definitely result in tariffs, quotas and other trade remedies.

ALUMINUM

On April 27, 2017, President Trump and the US Commerce Department self-initiated a Section 232 National Security case against imports of aluminum from all countries.  Attached are documents related to the Case, ALUMINUM FED REG PUBAluminum Presidential Memo Summary.  The hearing will be June 22, 2017 at the Commerce Department.  The Presidential Memorandum issued on April 27th provides:

This Presidential Memorandum (PM) directs the Secretary of Commerce to investigate, in accordance with the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the effects on national security of aluminum imports.

During this investigation, the Secretary will consider the following:

The domestic production of aluminum needed for projected national defense requirements.

The capacity of domestic industries to meet such requirements.

The existing and anticipated availabilities of the human resources, products, raw materials, and other supplies and services essential to the national defense.

Recognize the close relation of the Nation’s economic welfare to our national security, and consider the effect of foreign competition in the aluminum industry on the economic welfare of domestic industries.

Consider any substantial unemployment, decrease in government revenues, loss of skills or investment, or other serious effects resulting from the displacement of any domestic products by excessive aluminum imports.

The Secretary shall conduct this investigation with speed and efficiency in order to find if aluminum is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security.

If the above is deemed true, the Secretary shall recommend actions and steps that should be taken to adjust aluminum imports so that they will not threaten to impair the national security.

Although Secretary Ross wants to expedite the case, there are rumors that many investigators and other staff in Import Administration have now been moved to work on the Section 232 cases.  With an enormous number of antidumping and countervailing duty cases along with two large Section 232 cases, Commerce staff will be stretched very thin.

SOLAR AD AND CVD CASES DID NOT WORK SO LET’S TRY A SECTION 201 ESCAPE CLAUSE CASE

Just recently, Solar World, the company that brought the Solar Cells and Solar Products antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China, announced that it was going into insolvency.  The bottom line is that the antidumping and countervailing duty orders against solar cells and solar products from China did not save Solar World, but they did result in substantial damage to the upstream US Polysilicon industry.  Because of the US action, China brought its own antidumping and countervailing duty case against $2 billion in US Polysilicon exported to China.  REC Silicon in Moses Lake, Washington got hit with a 57% antidumping duty, deferred a $1 billion investment into Moses Lake, and in November 2016 laid off 70 workers in Moses Lake and cut their capacity in half.

On May 17, 2017, Suniva filed a Section 201 Escape Clause against all Solar Cell imports from all countries at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  On May 23, 2017, in the attached Federal Register notice, ITC iNITIATION NOTICE SOLAR CELLS, the ITC decided to go ahead and institute the case.  If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, within 60 days the President must decide whether or not to impose import relief, which can be in the form of increased tariffs, quotas or an orderly marketing agreements.

By the way, in its determination to the President the ITC is to report any assistance given companies under the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program, the only government program that truly saves US companies.  President Trump, however, in his recent budget proposal completely zeroed out the TAA for Companies program.  More about this below.  Directly contrary to President Reagan, President Trump does not want to make US companies more competitive so that they can compete; he wants to put up protectionist walls.

The main targets of the Petition are not imports from China, but imports from third countries.  In response to the antidumping and countervailing duty orders, many Chinese companies moved to third countries and set up production there.

SCOPE OF THE 201 INVESTIGATION

The articles covered by this investigation are CSPV cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, including, but not limited to, modules, laminates, panels, and building-integrated materials.

The investigation covers crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells of a thickness equal to or greater than 20 micrometers, having a p/n junction (or variant thereof) formed by any means, whether or not the cell has undergone other processing, including, but not limited to cleaning, etching, coating, and/or addition of materials (including, but not limited to, metallization and conductor patterns) to collect and forward the electricity that is generated by the cell.

Included in the scope of the investigation are photovoltaic cells that contain crystalline silicon in addition to other photovoltaic materials. This includes, but is not limited to, passivated emitter rear contact (“PERC”) cells, heterojunction with intrinsic thin-layer (“HIIT”) cells, and other so-called “hybrid” cells.

Excluded from the investigation are CSPV cells, whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products, if the CSPV cells were manufactured in the United States.

Also excluded from the scope of the investigation are crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells, not exceeding 10,000mm in surface area, that are permanently integrated into a consumer good whose function is other than power generation and that consumes the electricity generated by the integrated crystalline silicon photovoltaic cell. Where more than one cell is permanently integrated into a consumer good, the surface area for purposes of this exclusion shall be the total combined surface area of all cells that are integrated into the consumer good.

SECTION 201 PROCEDURES IN SOLAR CELL CASE

At the ITC, Section 201 cases are a two stage process.  The ITC must first determine whether “crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) cells (whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products) are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or the threat thereof, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported articles.”  The ITC has determined that the investigation is “extraordinarily complicated” and will make its injury determination within 128 days after the petition was filed, or by September 22, 2017. The Commission will submit to the President the report required under section 202(f) of the Act (19 U.S.C. § 2252(f)(1)) within 180 days after the date on which the petition was filed, or by November 13, 2017.

Notices of appearance at the ITC are due in about three weeks from now or 21 days after publication of the notice in the Federal Register.  During the injury phase of the investigation, the ITC will hold an injury hearing on August 15, 2017.  Prehearing briefs are due at the ITC on August 8, 2017.  Posthearing briefs will be due at the ITC on August 22nd.

If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, it will go into a remedy phase and the hearing in that phase will be on October 3, 2017.

REASONS FOR SECTION 201 PETITION

According to Suniva in its petition, the problem is not China.  Suniva argues that the antidumping and countervailing duty orders in the Solar Cells and Solar Products case were simply evaded:

“as the impacted producers have simply opened significant capacity in third countries not subject to those AD/CVD orders. One of the underlying principles of those prior Title VII cases was that implementing duties against the subject goods originating from the offending countries would­ create a cost basis that generates greater domestic price equity. Unfortunately, that outcome has not occurred. Rather than invest in U.S. manufacturing or charge fair market prices, Chinese and Taiwanese manufacturers, either directly through the establishment of their own facilities, or indirectly through the support of contract manufacturing operations in Southeast Asia, India, and Eastern Europe, created alternative capacity that was not subject to U.S. tariffs.  In fact, the data in this petition shows a direct correlation between:

  • The institution of tariffs against subject goods made in China or Taiwan;
  • The reduction of imports into the United States from those countries; and

The increase in imports from Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and other third countries.”

The Petition also states:

“What is striking is that even with these relatively high duties against two of the world’ s largest CSPV cell and module countries, imports continue to flood into the United States. Also striking is the quantity of Chinese and Taiwanese product that continues to enter the United States -, despite these dumping and subsidy duties. What these AD/CVD cases have also done is push production into new countries – meaning that they have led to increased global production and capacity. Consider:

  • In a March 21, 2017, article in the Financial Post, it was reported about Canadian Solar that :”The company said it has also increased production from its manufacturing facilities in Southeast Asia and Taiwan to serve the U.S. market and avoid import “
  • In a January 10, 2017, article in Taiyang News, the following is stated about Chinese producer Solar Trina: “Trina Solar has begun production of solar panels at its newly opened Vietnam factory. The facility with capacity of 800 MW annually is located in Quang Chau Industrial Park in Viet Yen district, northern Ban Giang province, reported The Voice of Vietnam.” The article continues: “After Malaysia, Vietnam is now coming up as one of the most sought after locations for Chinese solar power companies to set up their manufacturing units. Some of the biggest names, including Trina Solar, Jinko Solar and the like have voluntarily withdrawn from the European Commission’s minimum import price (MIP) undertaking which slaps anti-dumping and anti-subsidy duties ori solar panels produced in China. Most of them are keen to operate from locations beyond China to be able to circumvent these duties and even more the customs in the much larger US solar market.”
  • In a March 29, 2016, article in PY Magazine, it is reported that “Trina Solar reports that it has begun production at its PY cell and module factory in Rayong Thailand, which has the capacity to produce 700 MW of cells and 500 MW of PY modules annually.” It continues “Southeast Asia has become a major destination for Chinese and Taiwanese PY cell and module makers seeking to avoid U.S. and EU import duties on their “
  • In an October 26, 2015, press release, it is announced that Chinese producer JA Solar Holdings, , Ltd. opened a 400MW cell manufacturing facility in Penang, Malaysia. As stated in the release: “These cells will primarily be used to manufacture JS Solar Modules outside of China to provide competitive product solutions to certain overseas markets.”
  • In an October 6, 2016, PV Magazine article, it was noted that JA Solar further expanded its Malaysian operations. The article further notes: “The expansion comes in the face of falling module prices around the world, as an oversupply seems to be taking hold of the “
  • In a July 24, 2016, CLEANTECHIES article, it is reported that JA Solar is planning a $1 billion dollar module factory in Vietnam. As noted in the article: “The company already operates 8 factories across the {sic} Europe, the US and Japan. JA Solar, like several other·module manufacturers, facing import restrictions and duties in developed markets like the US and Chinese {sic}. Several Chinese and Taiwanese companies have opened factories in overseas locations-to bypass these restrictions.”
  • A January 25, 2016, China Daily article discusses Chinese panel producers moving operations to Thailand because “solar panels made in the kingdom do not invite heavy duties in the US and Europe.”.

In short, an unforeseen development of the antidumping and countervailing duty cases . . . has been the proliferation of CSPV cell and module manufacturing across the globe. This further supports the use of this global safeguard action. Without global relief, the domestic industry will be playing “whack-a-mole” against CSPV cells and modules from particular countries.

In short, imports have clearly “increased” within the meaning of the statute. Indeed, the increase has been massive; and the recent surge has been highly debilitating to the market structure. The way that the world’s largest producers have reacted to antidumping and countervailing duty claims demonstrates that global relief is required.”

The petition also shows enormous increases of solar cells from Mexico and Canada and with regards to Canada states as follows:

“Transshipment of Chinese-origin CSPV cells through Canada would explain the rapid growth in imports of CSPV cells and modules from Canada in recent years.”

The Petition also states:

“Further, the U.S. industry could not have foreseen that foreign producers, in response to [the antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China would move so rapidly and drastically to open new production facilities in third-countries resulting in no relief for the U.S. industry from the application of the orders in the antidumping and countervailing duty cases. As shown by the import data presented in Exhibit 7, the surge in imports from third-countries after the imposition of the AD and CVD orders is completely unprecedented and unforeseeable.  For example, between 2014 and 2016, imports from Malaysia surged 67 percent/while overtaking China as the largest source of imports. In addition, imports from Korea surged by 827 percent while increasing to become the third largest source of imports.  Imports from Mexico, now the fourth largest source of imports, surged 77 percent. Imports from Thailand, now the fifth largest source of imports, surged over 76,000 percent. Such a rapid and significant increase in imports from third-countries is an unprecedented and completely unforeseen development.”

Between the time the Petition was filed and the ITC institution of the case, Wuxi Suntech announced it opposition to the petition because the law firm that had represented Wuxi Suntech in the antidumping and countervailing duty case against China brought the Section 201 case on behalf of Suniva.  In addition, Sunrun, an importer and user of solar cells, entered a notice of appearance to point out that Solarworld does not support the petition and that Suniva represents less than 20% of US production, but the ITC went forward anyways.  Just today, however, Solar World announced that it is supporting Suniva’s Section 201 Petition.

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

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.

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 anyone wants a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese exporters/producers and US importers, please feel free to contact me.

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, the ITC conducted its preliminary injury hearing on May 10, 2017 and briefs were filed soon after.  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.

Commerce has already issued quantity and value questionnaires to the Chinese producers in the AD and CVD cases with responses for both cases due June 5th.

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

If anyone wants a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese exporters/producers and US importers, please feel free to contact me.  Atttached are the relevant parts of the petition, INJURY EXCERPT SCOPE IMPORTERS EXERPT MECHANICAL TUBING FOREIGN PRODUCERS EXCERPT MECHANICAL TUBING.

100 TO 150 SEAT CIVIL AIRCRAFT

On April 27, 2017, in the attached notice, AIRCRAFT, the Boeing Company filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case against 100 to 150 Seat Civil Aircraft from Canada.  The Canadian respondent company is Bombardier.  With all extensions, the Commerce Department’s Preliminary determination in the CVD case, which is when liability begins, is due September 24, 2017 and the Commerce Department’s preliminary AD determination, when liability begins, is due November 23, 2017.

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

LIGHTHIZER CONFIRMED—NAFTA FIGHT

On May 11, 2017, Robert Lighthizer was confirmed by the Senate as the next USTR.  On May 15th he was sworn into office by Vice President Pence.

With Senators and Congressmen, especially from agricultural states, calling for new trade agreements, USTR will have a lot of work to do.

NAFTA FIGHT

On May 18, 2017, in the attached letter, nafta NOTIFICATION, USTR Lighthizer informed Congress of the President’s intention to renegotiate NAFTA.  In the letter, Lighthizer specifically stated:

In particular, we note that NAFTA was negotiated 25 years ago, and while our economy and businesses have changed considerably over that period, NAFTA has not.  Many chapters are outdated and do not reflect modern standards. For example, digital trade was in its infancy when NAFTA was enacted. In addition, and consistent with the negotiating objectives in the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act, our aim is that NAFTA be modernized to include new provisions to address intellectual property rights, regulatory practices, state-owned enterprises, services, customs procedures, sanitary and phytosanitary measures, labor, environment, and small and medium enterprises. Moreover, establishing effective implementation and aggressive enforcement of the commitments made by our trading partners under our trade agreements is vital to the success of those agreements and should be improved in the context of NAFTA. . . .

We are committed to concluding these negotiations with timely and substantive results for U.S. consumers, businesses, farmers, ranchers, and workers, consistent with U.S. priorities and the negotiating objectives established by the Congress in statute. We look forward to continuing to work with the Congress as negotiations with the NAFTA countries begin, and we commit to working with you closely and transparently throughout the process.

On May 18, 2017, John Brinkley published an article in response to the Lighthizer letter:

White House’s NAFTA Renegotiation Letter To Congress Is Surprisingly Rational

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer seems to be trying to inject some rationality into President Trump’s trade policies. With the White House in turmoil over the Russia investigation and FBI Director James Comey’s firing, he might just get by with it.

Lighthizer on Thursday formally notified Congress of the administration’s intention to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico. The notification started the clock ticking on the 90-day period that has to elapse before the renegotiations can start.

In a letter to congressional leaders, Lighthizer made some surprisingly sensible remarks about what needed to be done – surprising because it included none of the bluster and hostility that President Trump has directed at America’s NAFTA partners, Canada and Mexico.

The letter said NAFTA needed to be improved in the areas of intellectual property rights, digital trade, state-owned enterprises, customs procedures, food safety, workers’ rights and environmental protection.

All that is true. NAFTA doesn’t address digital trade, because it didn’t exist in 1993 when the deal was signed, but it now dominates every aspect of international commerce in goods and services.

Workers’ rights and environmental protection are addressed in side agreements that aren’t enforceable. Making those standards tougher fully enforceable would lessen the incentive for US companies to move to Mexico.

The letter also said trade rule enforcement “should be improved in the context of NAFTA.” It’s hard to imagine how that might happen.  NAFTA allows a private company from one of the three countries that has operations in one of the others to file a complaint with the NAFTA secretariat against the host country if the company believes its rights have been violated. This Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) chapter allows for a hearing before a three-judge arbitration panel. Since 1994, the United States has prevailed in every NAFTA ISDS complaint that it has filed or has been filed against it and that has proceeded to a final ruling. It’s going to be hard to improve on that.

When two governments go head-to-head in a trade dispute, they usually take it to the World Trade Organization. The trend there is that the complaining government almost always wins.  The U.S. has won 91% of the cases it has filed in the WTO and lost 84% of those filed against it. Its overall batting average is just over .500. There is nothing that can be done in NAFTA to affect that.

Maybe the best thing the administration could do for American businesses when it convenes the renegotiation with Mexico and Canada is to focus on ways to make it easier for small companies to qualify for duty-free treatment under NAFTA. Lighthizer’s letter seemed to suggest the administration was interested in doing that. It’s easy for big corporations to comply with the myriad rules and regulations that cover imports, exports and free trade agreements; they can hire armies of lawyers and trade specialists to manage compliance with them. Most small firms can’t do that and many find that compliance isn’t worth the time and money. So, they don’t export. Or they export without applying for duty-free treatment under NAFTA. They just pay the tariff. A 2015 Thomson Reuters Global Trade Management survey of small business owners found that complying with rules of origin and other regulations was the principal difficulty that they faced in exporting their products.

To qualify for duty-free treatment under NAFTA, an exporter most certify that a certain percentage of a product’s value originated in the U.S., Mexico or Canada. There are two problems with this. One is that small manufacturers don’t always know where all their parts and components came from and it can be difficult to track them all down. They have to call their suppliers, who may have to call another supplier. The other problem is that the U.S. government allows exporters to use one of two processes for determining regional content and, for most people, neither of them is easy to navigate. . . .

Making this process easier would increase imports and reduce the trade deficit, although not by  much.

If the U.S. negotiators can focus their efforts on these constructive and necessary improvements to NAFTA, rather than on the threats and ultimatums that Trump and his nationalist faction in the White House have made, they might end up with an agreement that all three countries will be happy to sign.

On May 25th, the US Pork Producers issued the attached white paper, NAFTAReport05-24-17, arguing that if NAFTA negotiations lead to the disruption of agricultural exports generally – and pork exports specifically – to Canada and Mexico, that would “have devastating consequences for our farmers and the many American processing and transportation industries and workers supported by these exports.”

The White paper cites an Iowa State economist who states that if Mexico were to respond to a US withdrawal from NAFTA with a 20% duty on pork, the US port industry would lose the entire Mexican market.

Nick Giordano for the National Pork producers went on to state:

“A loss in exports to Mexico of that magnitude would be cataclysmic for the U.S. pork industry. Pork producers will support updating and improving NAFTA but only if duties on U.S. pork remain at zero and pork exports are not disrupted.”

On May 24th, USTR Lighthizer pledged that boosting agricultural exports remains a top priority for the Trump administration. He added that he and Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue are under specific marching orders to protect current market access for U.S. farm products in the revised NAFTA.  Lighthizer specifically stated:

“The president has specifically told each of us that this is a very, very top priority.  One, not to do any damage and two, to add to the bottom line. So we expect to do that.”

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES

The only good news about Border Adjustment taxes is the President Trump did not include Border Adjustment Taxes in his tax proposal to Congress.  Despite the decision not to put border adjustment taxes (“BAT”) in the Administration’s tax proposal, the House Republicans and Ways and Means Committee continue to push it.  See May 23rd Ways and Means hearing on Border Adjustment Taxes, at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/live/.

Archer Daniel Midland argued for the BAT, citing problems with Agriculture exports, but the retailers, including Target and WalMart, came out strongly against it.  One witness stated that US products are taxed twice, but imports are only taxed once and get a rebate when the product is exported to the US.

But it was also clear from the hearing that Congressmen are split on the Border Adjustment tax.

On May 23, 2017 Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, however, in a closed-door meeting with Democrats on the Ways and Means stated that both he and President Trump are opposed to the Border Adjustment Tax.   One California Democrat, Judy Chu, on the Ways and Means Committee, directly asked Mnuchin if he supported  the  BAT.  As she stated Mnuchin’s concern was the impact on consumers:

“He actually said straight out that he doesn’t support it and the president doesn’t support it.  Unless he was lying to us yesterday, I really felt it was dead on arrival.”

On May 24th, Paul Ryan stated that the BAT needs to be changed and immediately imposing it in its full form would be “too disruptive”.

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

As indicated in previous blog posts, I feel very strongly about the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program because with very low funding it has a true track record of saving US companies.  In fact, in the ongoing Section 201 case on Solar Cells, the statute requires the industry seeking protection to provide a trade adjustment plan to the Commission to explain how the industry intends to adjust if trade relief is provided.  The problem is that the Commission is not the entity with experience on determining whether the Trade Adjustment plans are viable.  The entities with that experience in trade adjustment plans are the various trade adjustment centers throughout the US.

Donald Trump’s proposed budget, however, would 0/zero out the trade adjustment assistance for companies program.  Although Secretary Wilbur Ross has made it very clear he wants to increase exports to reach the 3% plus growth rate, putting protectionist walls up to limit imports of steel, aluminum and many other products invites retaliation.

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.  In his budget, Trump increases TAA for Workers, but kills TAA for Companies.  Yet to retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job in TAA for workers is $5,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

But 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

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about developments in Chinese trade law.  Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.16 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.17 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.18 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.19 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.20

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

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 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.

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump’s Trade War on downstream industries, the Mechanical Tubing case, the Section 232 cases, the 201 case against Solar Cells, 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–UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR, TPP IN LAME DUCK, SPOTTING POTENTIAL AD CASES, CUSTOMS, FALSE CLAIMS ACT, VITAMIN C ANTITRUST, IP AND 337

Lotus Garden Boat Buildings Yue Feng Pagoda Summer Palace BeijinTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR OCTOBER 7, 2016

INTERVIEW ON WHAT US COMPANIES CAN DO IN THE PRESENT TRADE CRISIS

Just did an interview on what US companies can do to cope with the current trade crisis.  Hope you will find it of interest.  http://www.turbineagency.com/industry-insights/2016/10/25/accelerateb2b-how-do-global-trade-deals-really-impact-us-businesses

Dear Friends,

This blog post contains several new article and articles that have been posted on the Harris Moure blog, www.chinalawblog.com from the HM Trade Practice Group, including Adams Lee, Emily Lawson and myself.  The new articles also reflect my discussions during my recent three-week trip to China meeting with various Chinese companies, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”), and Chinese trade lawyers.

The most important point is that the US China Trade War is expanding and has now become a universal trade war.  Although the US continues to bring numerous antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) cases against China, the Chinese government is now bringing and will bring numerous AD and CVD cases against the US.

In the recent Chinese antidumping case against Distiller Grains from the US, the Chinese government has levied a 33% rate against $1.6 billion in US exports to China.  There are rumors that the Chinese government may soon bring AD and CVD cases targeting $15 billion in US exports of soybeans to China.

Meanwhile numerous countries have adopted their own AD and CVD laws modeled on the US and EU and are bringing cases not only against China, but also against the US.

The only recent trade developments that would break the retaliation cycle are the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the TTIP deal with Europe and both trade agreements are in serious trouble.

In addition, set forth below are articles on how to spot an AD and CVD trade case coming and what do when your company is a target of a trade case, magnesium and steel cases, trade cases against Europe, and Trade Adjustment Assistance by David Holbert, who heads the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.  In addition, there are a number of articles on Customs law, False Claims Act, including an FCA case against Furniture and Customs enforcement action against Honey.  Finally, there is an article on recent Second Circuit Decision in the Vitamin C Antitrust Case and the antidumping back story, a Criminal Trade Secrets case, a new 337 case and the Section 337 article translated into Chinese.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE POLICY AND TPP

US CHINA ANTIDUMPING TRADE WAR IS NOW A UNIVERSAL ANTIDUMPING TRADE WAR

As Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton duel during the Presidential debate about who can be more protectionist, during my recent trip to China I learned that what was once a US China Trade War has now become a universal trade war.  Country after country have adopted the US and EC Antidumping law and are filing case after case against other countries and the US.

Thus countries, 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.

Although Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton and many US politicians want to adopt a mercantilist trade policy which favors pushing exports and protecting US industries from imports, the US politicians simply do not understand retaliation.  What the US can do to other countries, those countries can do back.  President Reagan understood the retaliation danger of protectionism and a mercantilist trade policy, but many present day US politicians do not.  So all of these countries are following the US lead and implementing a mercantilist trade policy.

Free trade agreements, such as the TPP and the TTIP, which would break this cycle are now all in deep trouble as each country wants to put its industries first and make their country and industries great again.  The rise in nationalism results in trade wars in which country after country will fire trade guns against each other.  As Jack Ma of Alibaba recently mentioned on CNN, real wars start when trade stops.  See http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/02/technology/jack-ma-alibaba-g20/

During my recent trip to China, in the attached notice, ddgs-list-of-dumping-margin-of-each-company_en ddgs-preliminary-finding-summary-translation_en, on September 23, 2016, the Chinese government announced a 33% preliminary antidumping duty targeting $1.6 billion in imports from the United States of DDGS, Distiller’s Dried Grains with or without Solubles, which is used as an ingredient for animal feed.

During this trip, officials at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) told me that more trade cases will be coming next year against the US.  In fact, there are rumors that the Chinese government will soon bring an AD and CVD case targeting $15 billion in US soybean exports to China.  This is the number one US export to China.  Now that China is bringing more trade cases against the US, these cases will hurt US companies and the jobs that go with them.

On the US side, the election of either Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton in November will mean more US trade cases next year against not only China, but many other countries as well.

On September 22, 2016, MOFCOM in China initiated an escape clause/safeguard action against Sugar from Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Australia, South Korea and Thailand alleging tariffs up to 155.90%.

On September 15, 2016, India brought its own antidumping case against Polybutadiene Rubber from South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Iran and Singapore.

Taiwan has brought a Steel antidumping case against China.

More and more cases will be filed in 2017 around the World and many will target the United States, China, and numerous other countries.  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.

TPP IN THE LAME DUCK KEEPS ON TICKING

As mentioned in my last blog post, I believe that if Hilary Clinton is elected, President Obama will push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) to come up for a vote during the Lame Duck Session.  Many Congressional leaders appeared to  oppose tbringing up TPP in the Lame Duck.  But with Hilary Clinton’s resurgence in the Polls after the first debate, there is more talk about the TPP coming up in the Lame Duck, the period after the Presidential election and before the end of the year, as President Obama pushes hard for passage of the legislation.

On September 16, 2016, Ohio Governor Republican John Kasich in an interview with CNN stated that he supports passage of the TPP and will support President Obama in this legislative push in the Lame Duck.  See http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/15/politics/john-kasich-trans-pacific-partnership/index.html

Governor Kasich made clear that he feels “it’s his “responsibility and duty as a leader” — no matter the political cost — to help President Barack Obama push the Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress.

Kasich stated that

“I have never been an ideological supporter of free trade. The ideologues used to come to me and be frustrated with me.  But when you look at these agreements in a real sense – and this one is much different than even NAFTA.”

Kasich added that when Russian and Chinese leaders oppose the TPP, that is one reason to vote for the TPP, “We have to do this.”

Kasich further stated,

“This is the first time the candidates in both major political parties say they are opposed to free trade. It’s astounding to me.  I welcome the fact that people will criticize me for putting my country ahead of my party.”

The interview came after Kasich met with President Obama in the Oval Office with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former George W. Bush administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and others for a meeting on the 12-nation Pacific Rim deal.

Kasich further stated:

“This is an opportunity for the Congress to carry out its responsibility. Frankly, if I have to come down here and spend some time lobbying my Republican colleagues, I’m more than glad to do that.

There’s definitely some people I can call and talk to.  This is a big deal. I mean, if we were to just walk away with this — with both candidates saying they don’t want this — we turn our backs on Asia.

He also played down the political potency of Trump’s anti-trade position in manufacturing-heavy Ohio, saying it’s not why Trump might win the state.

On September 26, 2016, Robert Samuelson, a well-known economist, published an article entitled “Will TPP Rise from the Dead”, stating:

With Obama’s term ending and his already-modest influence eroding by the day, TPP seems dead. But it may still be in intensive care.

In a speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee whose jurisdiction includes trade agreements, said that the TPP could still be ratified in the lame-duck session after the election and before a new Congress takes office.

Samuelson went on to state that Brady gave two major reasons to approve the TPP.

First, geopolitical:  The TPP would enhance US influence in the Pacific region and offset China’s growing economic and political power. TPP would give the United States a major role in regulating global commerce in the 21s century. The trade agreement codifies rules on “intellectual property” (patents, copyrights), data flows and state-owned firms

Ratification would be a strong signal to Asia that the United States intends to remain a Pacific power.

“The second reason is economic: Asia remains a fast-growing region. TPP would eliminate most tariffs among the 12 member countries, aiding American exporters in these markets. The advantage may be particularly important in services (tourism, consulting, finance and engineering), where U.S. firms are especially strong. In 2015, the United States had a $762 billion deficit in goods trade (machinery, steel, medical equipment) and a $262 billion surplus in services trade, leaving an overall deficit of $500 billion.  According to the Peterson Institute, the 12 countries in the TPP accounted for about 36% of the world economy and 24% of global trade in 2014.”

Samuelson goes on to quote Brady on why he does not dismiss TPP’s prospects as bleak, “People change once they get into office.”

Samuelson then states:

Translation: The campaign’s anti-trade and anti-globalization rhetoric might recede before the realities of governing. Although Brady didn’t say so, one implication is that a victorious Hillary Clinton might put up only token opposition to TPP, both because the case for approval is strong and because she might feel obligated to Obama for his political support.

But Brady went on to state that getting a deal would be difficult. With many Democrats adamantly opposed to TPP, President Obama would need to rely on Republicans to approve the agreement. But if President Obama cannot round up enough Democratic votes to ensure victory, Republicans will not go out on a political limb and bring the agreement up during the Lame Duck.

“We are running out of time,” Brady told the Peterson audience. As Samuelson stated, “The TPP may yet wind up in the political morgue.”

TRADE

CHINA IMPORTS: KNOW YOUR RISKS

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

Every year U.S. producers file 10-15 petitions asking the U.S. government to investigate whether certain products imported into the US are sold at unfair prices (antidumping or AD) or are unfairly subsidized (countervailing duty or CVD). Many of the AD/CVD cases target products imported from China. Odds are good that at least two new AD/CVD petitions will be filed by Halloween and as many as five by year end.

Our clients often ask our international trade lawyers how they can determine the likelihood of a AD/CVD petition that could adversely affect their ability to compete in the US market. Each AD/CVD petition is unique to the product and industry it covers, but most AD/CVD investigations fall within a handful of categories. Understanding what has led to the filing of previous AD/CVD petitions can help you as a producer, exporter, or importer, recognize if and when to expect a new AD/CVD petition that could directly affect you. The following are some of the indicators you should be checking to determine whether your imported into the USA product will be next.

The Regulars. Certain domestic industries have been frequent filers of AD/CVD actions. Companies in these industries are veterans of AD/CVD actions; they don’t ask if a new petition will be filed, only when it will be filed.

  • Steel of all types (carbon steel, stainless steel, flat products, pipe, rebar, wire rod, wire, etc.) from all over the world. The latest wave of steel AD/CVD investigations are being completed with high AD/CVD margins in most cases.
  • Softwood Lumber from Canada. The latest round of the US-Canada Lumber wars is set to begin as new AD/CVD petitions are likely to be filed in October 2016. Filing a new AD/CVD petition may be necessary to push US-Canada negotiations to a meaningful level.

The Big Box Effect. When Walmart, Lowes, or Target switch their sourcing of a product from a domestic manufacturer to a foreign (read Chinese) one, it is quite common for the jilted domestic supplier to file an AD/CVD petition in an effort to save their business. Boltless steel shelving units, wood flooring, ironing tables, and candles are all examples of this, and all involving products from China.

US Products Squeezed by Imports. It is not uncommon for an AD/CVD petition to be filed by a US producer that makes a higher quality product but is starting to lose out to foreign producers with lower quality but cheaper products. Frozen shrimp from multiple countries, garlic from China, and wooden bedroom furniture from China are some examples of this.

Pressure from Downstream Customers. Many AD/CVD petitions involve products that are material inputs used to make a downstream finished product. Petitions can be triggered by larger downstream producers switching to, or just threatening to switch to imports to pressure smaller upstream suppliers to lower prices.  Many chemical products from China, tire products from China and other countries, kitchen racks from China are examples of this.

AD/CVD Actions on Upstream ProductsSometimes AD/CVD actions filed by other domestic industries trickle down and harm downstream domestic industries. For example, US wire rod producers filed AD/CVD petitions that resulted in AD/CVD duties against imported wire rod. But these wire rod duties ended up hurting US wire producers, who in turn filed their own AD/CVD duties against imported wire.

Dying Dinosaurs/Last Survivors. Some AD/CVD petitions are filed by the remaining members of a nearly extinct domestic industry dealing with decreasing demand and increased import pressure. Sometimes the AD/CVD actions allow the surviving US producers to stay in the US market protected from import competition.  Examples of this are wooden bedroom furniture, magnesium and innersprings from China.

Other Countries’ AD/CVD actions. The US is not the only country that acts to protect its domestic industries from unfair foreign trade. AD/CVD actions filed in Canada, India, the EU, Brazil, and even China are warning signs of industries facing tight competitive pressure. Imports blocked from one market are often diverted to other available markets. A prime example of this are products from China which first had AD/CVD filed in the EU before the US took action.

All of the above scenarios are good indicators of an imminent filing of a new United States’ AD/CVD petition, so if you are seeing these market conditions in your industry, an AD/CVD petition is probably in your near future.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN THE CUSTOMS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY BOGEYMAN IS COMING AFTER YOUR IMPORTED CHINA PRODUCTS

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

In China Imports Know Your Risks (above), I wrote about how companies can recognize impending antidumping (AD) or countervailing duty (CVD) petitions. In this post I address what you as an importer, exporter or foreign producer should do if you see an AD/CVD storm looming.

The first thing you should do is determine whether the AD/CVD petition will directly hit your primary operations. The second thing you should do is figure out how best to defend yourself interests if the AD/CVD petition is headed directly your way. The third thing you should do if you do get hit by AD/CVD duties is to figure out damage control going forward.

  1. New AD/CVD Petition – Are my products affected? AD/CVD petitions include a proposed scope definition that identifies the products covered. AD/CVD scope definitions can be complicated and unclear. They may be broader or narrower than the Customs tariff classifications normally used to identify such imports. Even if you think your products are outside the scope of the petition, U.S. Customs may disagree. U.S. Customs commonly demands that you first pay an AD/CVD deposit, assuming that your products are within the scope of the AD/CVD petition, and then Customs will return your deposit only if you get a Department of Commerce (DOC) ruling that your products are actually outside the scope. For example, with aluminum extrusions from China, the DOC has received around a hundred scope ruling requests to clarify whether certain products are included or excluded from the scope of that order.

Once you know the scope definition, you can evaluate the degree to which the AD/CVD action could impact your business.  Sometimes you and your customer can find alternatives to replace the subject AD/CVD products with either non-subject products or by your sourcing from non-subject countries. If you have options to switch away from the products covered by the AD/CVD action, it may not be necessary to participate in the AD/CVD investigation.

  1. AD/CVD investigations – How to defend? If your product is squarely within the scope of the AD/CVD petition and the U.S. market is worth fighting for, you should determine the best way to prepare for the AD/CVD investigation. If you have enough time before a petition is filed, you theoretically can try to adjust your sales to remedy whatever is causing the dumped or subsidized sales, most commonly by raising your prices for certain products or customers or by modifying your production operations by lowering or reallocating costs. Unfortunately, most companies are not proactive about planning to avoid AD/CVD actions and instead react only after a petition is filed. We find this especially true of our clients that import from China, as opposed to Europe.

Once an AD/CVD investigation is initiated, foreign producers and exporters and US importers should try to defend their interests before the two agencies responsible for making AD/CVD determinations: The International Trade Commission (ITC) determines whether a domestic industry is injured or threatened with injury by reason of the subject imports and the Department of Commerce (DOC) determines how much the subject imports are dumped or subsidized.

In ITC investigations, the best defenses are presented when the foreign producers, US importers, and US purchasers can organize and explain why the subject imports should not be blamed for any decline in the domestic industry’s performance. Because the ITC examines a broad range of data regarding the US market for the subject product, a comprehensive explanation of relevant market conditions is necessary to a winning argument.

In DOC investigations, the foreign producer and exporters are the primary respondents to the DOC’s questionnaires. These companies must provide extensive corporate structure, sales and cost data, often through multiple rounds of questionnaires. The DOC uses the submitted data to calculate AD/CVD margins.  Unaffiliated US importers usually do not need to submit data in DOC investigations and reviews, but they often will closely monitor the DOC’s proceedings because they will ultimately be responsible for paying the AD/CVD duties. See Sourcing Product From China: You Should Know About Importer of Record Liability.

The key to any AD/CVD defense is participating fully in both the DOC’s and the ITC’s investigations. If you don’t participate, you have no chance of winning. If a party does not respond on time or with complete responses, the DOC and the ITC can apply the adverse facts available that inevitably lead to higher AD/CVD margins. US importers should at least actively monitor DOC’s proceedings because their final AD/CVD liability often depends on how well the Chinese producers and exporters are able to respond to DOC’s questionnaires. It is not uncommon for the Chinese producer or exporter to mount a weak or no defense, leaving the U.S. importer essentially “holding the bag.” There are many things you can and should do to try to prevent this from happening to you.

  1. How to Plan for Life with AD/CVD. The overwhelming majority of AD/CVD petitions lead to orders for imposing AD/CVD duties.  But depending on the scope definition of the AD/CVD order, it may be possible for you to maintain your business operations by identifying alternative out-of-scope products or by switching your product sourcing to a non-subject country. But in switching sourcing, US importers should be careful to avoid actions that could be considered schemes designed primarily to evade AD/CVD duties, as the DOC can extend orders through circumvention investigations. Customs too can conduct its own investigation of duty evasion allegations.

Also, because the United States uses a retrospective AD/CVD system, foreign suppliers and US importers have the opportunity each year to try to lower their dumping margin. Since AD/CVD duties are “remedial”, foreign producers and U.S. importers have ample opportunity to adjust their production and sales operations so that they can sell “fairly” to the U.S. market, as defined by the U.S. trade laws and with proper planning and disciplined execution, companies can sometimes make even minor adjustments to reduce or eliminate their AD/CVD duty liability.

Bottom Line: You are not without defenses when the AD/CVD bogeyman appears to be heading for you. There are things you can do both to stop it from attacking your business and things you can do to restore your business once attacked.

Editor’s Note: This post focuses on products exported from China to the United States, but its advice applies with equal force to products exported from any other country to the United States and with nearly equal force to products exported from any other country to any other country that also has AD/CVD sanctions.

CAFC MAGNESIUM METAL DECISION

On October 6, 2016, in the attached decision, cafc-magnesium, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Commerce Department’s decision that replacement of stainless steel retorts used to produce magnesium metal was an overhead expense and not a direct cost in the Magnesium Metal from China antidumping case.

STEEL TRADE CASES

CARBON AND ALLOY STEEL CUT-TO-LENGTH PLATE FROM CHINA AND KOREA

On September 7, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, clt-plate-cvd-prelim-fs-090716, Commerce issued an affirmative preliminary CVD determination in the initial investigation of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from China and a negative preliminary determination in the CVD investigation of imports from Korea.

China CVD rate best on all facts available is 210.50% and Korea’s CVD rate is 0.

CARBON AND ALLOY STEEL CUT-TO-LENGTH PLATE FROM BRAZIL, SOUTH AFRICA AND TURKEY

On September 16, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-multiple-ctl-plate-ad-prelim-091616, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the AD investigations of imports of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey.

Brazil’s antidumping rate is 74.52%.  South Africa’s antidumping rates range from 87.72% to 94.14%.  Turkey’s antidumping rates range from 42.02% to 50%.

STAINLESS STEEL SHEET AND STRIP FROM CHINA

On September 12, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-prc-stainless-steel-sheet-strip-ad-prelim-091216, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the AD investigation of imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China.  The antidumping rates range from 63.86% to 76.64%.

TRADE CASES AGAINST EUROPE

EUROPEAN TARGETS IN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO GET BACK IN THE US MARKET AGAIN

Recently, there have been several articles about the sharp rise in AD and CVD/trade remedy cases in the last year.  By the second half of 2016, the US Government has reported that twice as many AD and CVD cases have been initiated in 2015-2016 as in 2009.

China is not the only target.  AD cases have been recently filed against a number of European countries, including Carbon and Alloy Steel Plate from Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Italy; Steel Flanges from Italy and Spain; and Rubber from Poland.

In addition, there are outstanding AD and CVD orders against Germany on brass sheet and strip, seamless pipe, sodium nitrite and non-oriented electrical steel.  In addition to Germany, other EU Countries have been hit on various steel products, including a number of stainless steel products, from Spain, Belgium and Italy; brass sheet and strip from France and Italy, isocyanurates from Spain, pasta from Italy, paper from Portugal and Uranium from France. The oldest US AD order in place today is pressure sensitive plastic tape from Italy, which was issued in 1977.

Under US law Commerce determines whether dumping is taking place.  Dumping is defined as selling imported goods at less than fair value or less than normal value, which in general terms means lower than prices in the home/foreign market or below the fully allocated cost of production.  Antidumping duties are levied to remedy the unfair act by raising the US price so that the products are fairly traded.

Commerce also imposes Countervailing Duties to offset any foreign subsidies provided by foreign governments so as to raise the price of the subsidized imports.

AD and CVD duties can only be imposed if there is injury to the US industry, which is determined by the ITC.  But in determining injury, the law directs the ITC to cumulate, that is add together all the imports of the same product from the various foreign countries.

The real question many companies may have is how can AD and CVD rates be reduced so that the European company can start exporting to the US again.  US AD and CVD laws are considered remedial, not punitive statutes.  Thus, every year in the month in which the AD or CVD order was issued, Commerce gives the parties, including the domestic producers, foreign producers and US importers, the right to request a review investigation based on sales of imports that entered the US in the preceding year.

Thus, the AD order on electrical steel from Germany was issued in December 2014.   In December 2016, the German producer can request a review investigation of the electrical steel that entered, was actually imported into, the US during the period December 1, 2015 to November 31, 2016.

EU companies may ask that it is too difficult to export a 17 metric ton container of covered product to the US, requesting a nonaffiliated importer to put up an AD of 50 to over 100%, which can require a payment of $1 million USD or more.  In contrast to European law, however, the US AD and CVD law is retrospective.  Thus the importer posts a cash deposit when it imports products under an AD or CVD order, and the importer will get back the difference plus interest at the end of the review investigation.

More importantly, through a series of cases, Commerce has let foreign producers export smaller quantities of the product to use as a test sale in a review investigation if all other aspects of the sale are normal.  Thus in a chemical case, we had the exporter put a metric ton of the chemical in question in a container with other products and that metric ton served as the test sale to establish the new AD rate.

EU Companies may also ask how we can make sure that we are not dumping.  The answer is dump proofing and computer programs.  In contrast to China, EU companies are considered market economy companies and, therefore, Commerce must use actual prices and costs in the European country to determine whether it is dumping or not.  Computer programs can be used to reduce the dumping margin significantly by modeling US prices and EU home market prices to eliminate or significantly reduce antidumping rates.

How successful can companies be in reviews?  In one EU Steel case, we dropped the dumping rate from over 17% in the initial investigation to 0% in the review investigation.  In a chemical from China case, we dropped a dumping rate of over 200% to 0%, allowing the Chinese company to become the exclusive exporter of the product for decades per order of the US government.

Playing the AD and CVD game in review investigations can significantly reduce AD and CVD rates and get the EU company back in the US market again

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES

David Holbert, who heads the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”), is writing a series of posts on the NWTAAC website on how Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies helps injured companies injured by imports.  This is the first post.

Imports are Like a Thousand Flash Floods Injuring US Companies That Are Not Competitive

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 trade 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.

For large companies or from a macro-economic perspective, import competition may seem like a rising tide – one that can be anticipated, prepared for or proactively mitigated. For small and medium-sized businesses, not equipped with diverse product lines, resources or change acumen, import competition feels more like a flash flood.

What is it like for those companies?  When trade impact hits, sales drop off, often suddenly.

  • Contract manufacturers build to specification for customers, often larger companies. For this group, trade impact could mean the loss of a major customer moving operations to a foreign country (and finding parts suppliers there), or simply an importer arriving on the scene with lower cost products.
  • For a consumer products company, trade impact will probably first arrive with falling sales to the big retail chains since they are the most sensitive to supplier prices.
  • For a commodity producer things are a little more predictable. There may be a change in currency valuation or the rise of a new industry in a foreign country. Regardless, these highly price sensitive markets will suddenly have a lower price option.
  • Commercial products producers will usually have more time. When imports arrive they will sell to generally more informed customers who usually value factors other than price. But the fall will come, just more slowly.

Sales could fall off for many reasons. How do you know its trade related? You ask or you ask around. It shouldn’t take long to find out.

Imports arrive product by product. Companies move offshore factory by factory.  A domestic company makes that product, is part of the supply chain needed to make the product or is part of that commodity industry. When the imports arrive (or the factory moves), that one company or set of suppliers or community of producers is directly in the way. All of this happens in what can seem to be a relatively normal looking manufacturing neighborhood. Across the street there might be a company making another product that is experiencing no trade competition. Next door a third company might have gone through trade impact years ago and has adjusted. For small and medium sized companies, trade impact can be surprisingly direct and specific.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.

  • A commercial products company makes a specialized tool. A couple of other U.S. and European companies make similar products with some parity between price and features. One year they are at the big industry trade show and see a product, similar to theirs (and the others), but priced about 40% lower. Three months later sales started slipping.
  • A contract manufacturer that machines metal parts had gravitated away from stainless steel to titanium and built for several competitors in the same industry. Foreign producers had mastered stainless steel over the last decade. But as of a recent year, those producers finally mastered titanium as well. One by one, the manufacturer’s customers started buying imports. Once one did, it had a cost advantage, so the others had to go along also.
  • A nut grower was maintaining a slim profit. Then, a certain country decided to incentivize its nut growers to achieve more efficiency and export capability. It took a while, but when the imported nuts started arriving, they were at a price point below break-even for the domestic producer.
  • A safety products producer sold through a variety of retailers. One year, seemingly out of the blue, the big box stores stopped ordering. It didn’t take long to figure out why. A similar imported product was on the shelves at about half the price.

In future posts I’ll cover the steps to recovery. They are many effective tools in the economic recovery toolbox.  In many cases, companies that employed these resources are now unrecognizable through increased scale and product changes. Interestingly, a surprising number become significant exporters.

My role at the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center is to help small and medium-sized companies that are negatively impacted by trade competition through grants of up to $75,000.  Our non-profit organization administers a federal program serving companies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. You can learn more about us at NWTAAC.org.

CUSTOMS LAW

IMPORTING GOODS FROM CHINA: THE RISKS ARE RISING

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

Last month I wrote about how importers from China need to be on their guard since U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented new regulations to investigate allegations of antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) evasion. See Importing From China: One More (New) Thing You Need To Know.

It didn’t take long, as U.S. Customs has already begun its first wave of investigations: Wheatland Tube, a US steel pipe producer, on September 14, 2016 announced it had filed with CBP an allegation of duty evasion on imports of Chinese circular welded steel pipe.

CBP has published a timeline for conducting its investigations and a process diagram (EAPA Investigation Timeline) and this newly filed allegation will be a test case to see how CBP will conduct its new duty evasion investigations. Hopefully, CBP will soon address many of the questions raised by the new regulations. How will parties be allowed to participate? What information from the investigation will be made public? How will CBP define “reasonable suspicion” of duty evasion?

This steel pipe investigation is likely to be the first of many CBP duty evasion investigations that are to come, many (probably most) of which will target Chinese products subject to AD/CVD duties. For how to figure out the risk quotient for the products you import from China, check out China Imports: Know Your Risks.

The new antidumping and countervailing duty regulations will unquestionably require an increased number of importers and foreign manufacturers to formally respond to CBP’s questions in response to allegations. Given the strong political pressure by domestic U.S. industries calling for tougher enforcement of US trade laws (not to mention the rising opposition to free trade among the American populace), Chinese producers and exporters and US importers should be prepared for increased CBP activity. CBP is likely looking to punish someone hard to set an example of their improved enforcement.

Getting Your China Products Through U.S. Customs: The 101

By Emily Lawson, Harris Moure International Trade Group

If you are importing products from China you need to do your homework to make sure your incoming shipments into the United States comply with U.S. Customs laws and regulations. Compliance with U.S. Customs laws and regulations is critical in avoiding your shipments being detained or seized, and/or penalties assessed. Common issues importers of products from China typically face include the following:  

  Not determining proper classification and duty rate for products. If you plan to import and sell on a Delivered Duty Paid basis, you should consider customs duties in your costs and that means you should know all of your applicable duty rates before you import. Also certain products are subject to high antidumping or countervailing duties in addition to regular customs duties, which may be as high as 300%.

   Failing to mark the product with the country of origin of manufacture.  Generally goods of foreign origin for import into the U.S. or immediate containers of the goods must be marked legibly and in a conspicuous location with the country of origin in English. Failure to do so accurately  can result in civil and even possibly criminal penalties.

  Not properly marking wood packing material. All wood packing material for products imported into the U.S. must be properly  treated and marked prior to shipping. Failure to meet the treatment and marking requirements may cause shipments to be delayed and penalties issued. 

  Failing to provide complete commercial invoices. Customs regulations provide that specific data must be included on the commercial invoice for U.S. Customs purposes, including a detailed description of the merchandise, and correct value information. Omission of this information may result in improper declaration to U.S. Customs at the time of import and expose you to penalties.

  Failing to meet other U.S. Government agency requirements.  Goods imported for sale in the U.S. must satisfy the same legal requirements as those goods manufactured in the United States. U.S. Customs enforces the laws of other agencies in the U.S., including, the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety  Commission (CPSC), and the Environmental Protection Agency, in addition to others. Therefore, if toys, for example, are exported to the U.S., detailed CPSC requirements, including for testing, must be met prior to export.

   Distribution of many trademarked and copyrighted items. Items which are trademarked and copyrighted are restricted by contractual agreements that give exclusive rights to specific companies to distribute the product in the U.S. Imports of improperly  trademarked or copyrighted items can be seized at the U.S. border and can subject you as the importer to penalties.

 Taking the time to identify  the required U.S. Customs laws and regulations for the products to be shipped to the U.S. from China will help you maintain seamless delivery  of your merchandise to U.S. customers and avoid civil and criminal penalty  exposure.

FALSE CLAIMS HAMMER GETS BIGGER — THIRD CIRCUIT HOLDS FCA’S APPLICATION TO FALSE STATEMENTS MADE TO US CUSTOMS

On October 5, 2916, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals  in the attached decision in United States ex rel Customs Fraud Investigations, LLC. v. Vitaulic Company, us-vs-vitaulic, reversed the Federal District Court and held that a failure to label imported goods with the proper country of origin is actionable under the False Claim Act (“FCA”).  Vitaulic had imported millions of pounds of steel pipe with the wrong country of origin.

In holding that this is an actionable claim under the FCA, the Court stated:

These actions, according to CFI, give rise to the present qui tam action under the so-called “reverse false claims” provision in the False Claims Act (FCA).  Typically, a claim under the FCA alleges that a person or company submitted a bill to the government for work that was not performed or was performed improperly, resulting in an undeserved payment flowing to that person or company. The FCA was enacted as a reaction to rampant fraud and price gouging by merchants supplying the Union army during the Civil War. In this case, by contrast, the allegation is not that Victaulic is obtaining monies from the government to which it is not entitled, but rather that it is retaining money it should have paid the government in the form of marking duties. Wrongful retention cases such as these are known as “reverse false claims” actions.

The Court went on to state:

Of particular importance here, the Senate Report discussed “customs duties for mismarking country of origin,” and how such duties would be covered by the amended reverse false claims Provision. . . .

The plain text of the FCA’s reverse claims provision is clear: any individual who “knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government” may be subject to liability. As alleged by CFI in the amended complaint, Victaulic declined to notify the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection of its pipe fittings’ non-conforming status. This failure to notify resulted in the pipe fittings being released into the stream of commerce in the United States and, consequently, marking duties being owed and not paid.

From a policy perspective, the possibility of reverse false claims liability in such circumstances makes sense in the context of the larger import/export regulatory scheme created by Congress. Because of the government’s inability to inspect every shipment entering the United States, an importer may have an incentive to decline to mention that its goods are mismarked on the assumption that the mismarking will not be discovered. In doing so, an importer avoids its obligation under 19 U.S.C. § 1484 to provide the government with such information as is necessary to enable the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to determine whether the merchandise may be released from government custody or whether it must be properly marked, re-exported or destroyed.

HONEY AND FURNITURE

FURNITURE

On September 30, 2016, Ecologic Industries LLC and OMNI SCM LLC controlled by a Daniel Scott Goldman agreed to pay $1.525 million to settle a civil False Claims Act suit alleging it conspired to make false statements to avoid paying duties on wooden furniture imported from China to avoid the antidumping duties on Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China.  The companies sell furniture for student housing.

The case was filed by a whistleblower Matthew Bissanti, who is the former president and director of OMNI.  The Justice Department reported that Bissanti will receive $228,750 as his share of the settlement.

HONEY

On Aug 12, 2016, in the attached notice, to-bee-or-not-to-bee_-cbp-and-partners-seized-132-drums-of-hone, Customs and Border Protection announced seizure of 42 tons of illegally imported Chinese honey.  The honey was contained in 132 fifty-five gallon drums that were falsely declared as originating from Taiwan to evade antidumping duties applicable to Chinese honey. The evaded antidumping duties on this shipment of Chinese honey would be nearly $180,299.

ANTITRUST LAW

VITAMIN C ANTITRUST CASE—THE REAL ANTIDUMPING BACK STORY

On September 20, 2016, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its attached decision in the Vitamin C Antitrust case against the Chinese companies, In Re: Vitamin C Antitrust Litigation, vitamin-c-13-4791_opn-2d-cir-sept-20-2016.  In its decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the Federal District Court’s decision that the Chinese Vitamin C companies had fixed prices in violation of the US antitrust because Chinese government action, in effect, insulated the Chinese companies from US antitrust liability.

The Court of Appeals made the correct decision because as indicated below, I have personal knowledge as to the reason the Chinese government set the Vitamin C export price scheme in place to raise Chinese export prices—to deter US and other Antidumping cases.

As the Court of Appeals stated in its opinion:

the Chinese Government filed a formal statement in the district court asserting that Chinese law required Defendants to set prices and reduce quantities of vitamin C sold abroad, and because Defendants could not simultaneously comply with Chinese law and U.S. antitrust law . . .

The Court of Appeals then reversed the District Court “on international comity grounds” and ordered the District Court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice.

In effect, the Second Circuit held that based on comity grounds, that is, respect for Chinese law as evidenced by a formal statement and submission of the Chinese government that the Chinese government lawfully set up a scheme to raise Vitamin C prices, the Federal District Court should have dismissed the case.  The Court of Appeals held that the District Court should have deferred to the Chinese government and exempted the Chinese companies from the application of the US antitrust law based on the state action defense.  It should be noted that the Federal Government and State Governments through state action can insulate US domestic companies from the application of the US antitrust law.

The Court of Appeals specifically determined in the decision that:

The official statements of the Ministry should be credited and accorded deference. . . .The  2002  Notice,  inter  alia,  demonstrates  that  from  2002  to  2005,  the relevant time period alleged in the complaint, Chinese law required Defendants to participate in the PVC regime in order to export vitamin C. This regulatory regime allowed vitamin C manufacturers the export only vitamin C subject to contracts that complied with the “industry‐wide negotiated” price.

Although the 2002 Notice does not specify how the “industry‐wide negotiated” price was set, we defer to the Ministry’s reasonable interpretation that the term means what it suggests—that members of the regulated industry were required to negotiate and agree upon a price.  . . ..

In this context, we find it reasonable to view the entire PVC regime as a decentralized means by which the Ministry, through the Chamber, regulated the export of vitamin C by deferring to the manufacturers and adopting their agreed upon price as the minimum export price. In short, by directing vitamin C manufacturers to coordinate export prices and quantities and adopting those standards into the regulatory regime, the Chinese Government required Defendants to violate the Sherman Act. . . .

Because we hold that Defendants could not comply with both U.S. antitrust laws and Chinese law regulating the foreign export of vitamin C, a true conflict exists between the applicable laws of China and those of the United States.

The Court of Appeals went on to state:

Moreover, there is no evidence that Defendants acted with the express purpose or intent to affect U.S. commerce or harm U.S. businesses in particular. Rather, according to the Ministry, the regulations at issue governing Defendants’ conduct were intended to assist China in its transition from a state‐run command economy to a market‐driven economy, and the resulting price‐fixing was intended to ensure China remained a competitive participant in the global vitamin C market and to prevent harm to China’s trade relations. While it was reasonably foreseeable that China’s vitamin C policies would generally have a negative effect on Plaintiffs as participants in the international market for vitamin C, as noted above, there is no evidence that Defendants’ antitrust activities were specifically directed at Plaintiffs or other U.S. companies.

The purpose of the Chinese export scheme was not to damage US customers or businesses.  In fact, just the opposite was true.  The Chinese government wanted to keep exports flowing.

What was the concern of the Chinese government?  US and other antidumping cases, which could wipe Chinese exports out of the US market for decades.  This was the true number one anticompetitive threat that the Chinese government and companies were facing.  Was this a realistic threat?  Sure was.

The period that the export price scheme was set in place was 2002-2005.  On July 11, 2002, after losing an antidumping case in the mid-90s against Saccharin from China despite very high antidumping rates because of a no injury determination by the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), PMC, the sole US producer of saccharin, filed a second antidumping case against saccharin from China.  The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in charge of the Saccharin case was the Chamber of Commerce for Medicines, the same Chamber in charge of the Vitamin C case.

On July 2, 2003, the Commerce Department issued an antidumping order against all imports of saccharin from China with rates ranging from an individual dumping rate of 249.39% to 329.29% for all other Chinese companies, effectively blocking all Chinese saccharin from China.  The Antidumping Order was in effect for 10 years.

Although one company that I represented was after three and a half years able to reduce its dumping rate down to 0%, all other Chinese saccharin was blocked out of the US market for 10 years.  Market prices for saccharin in the US soared from a low $1.50 per pound in the investigative period to a price well over $10 a pound.

And US plaintiff companies in the Vitamin C case were complaining about the price rise in Vitamin C exports to the US??!!  I am sure the increase was not 10 times.

Since I represented the Chinese saccharin industry in the Saccharin antidumping case, the Chamber of Commerce for Medicine and I were very aware of the devastating effect a US or other antidumping case could have on Chinese companies and exports.  After the antidumping order was issued, in the Summer of 2003 the Chamber called me to a meeting with the Chinese Vitamin C producers and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”} to discuss how to deter US and other antidumping cases.  The Chamber and MOFCOM were very worried that intense Chinese price competition would lead to a wave of antidumping cases against the Vitamin C companies.

The Vitamin C companies, the Chamber and MOFCOM asked what can we do if there is a threat of an antidumping case.  Since Commerce and all other countries treat China as a nonmarket economy country and refuse to use actual prices and costs in China to determine antidumping cases, the general practice of dump proofing where antidumping consultants use computer programs to eliminate the unfair act, dumping, is not an option for Chinese companies.

The only remedy I could think of was that the Chinese government impose an export price floor.  That approach worked in the 90s with another Chamber of Commerce when there was a threat of a US antidumping case against Silicon Carbide from China.  The US Silicon Carbide producer in the one company US industry never filed their threatened antidumping case against China because of the export price floor the Chamber with MOFCOM’s consent put in place.

After suggesting that the Chamber set up an export price floor with MOFCOM’s involvement, I went on to state that MOFCOM would have to issue a law, regulation or action to show that the Government mandated the establishment of the system to insulate the Chinese companies from attack under the US antitrust laws.

The Chamber did set up the export price system for Vitamin C exports to stop US and other antidumping cases from being filed against the Chinese companies.  No Vitamin C antidumping cases were filed because the export price system was put in place.

As indicated by the Second Circuit, MOFOM did take government action to set up the export price scheme, which, in turn, insulated the Chinese companies from US antitrust liability.

The lesson of the story is that although the purpose of US antitrust law is to protect consumers and competition in the US market, the real threat to US consumers and market competition is the US antidumping law.

CRIMINAL IP/TRADE SECRET CASE

On October 5, 2016, the Justice Department in the attached notice, chinese-national-sentenced-to-prison-for-conspiracy-to-steal-tr, announced the sentencing of Mo Hailong, a/k/a Robert Mo, a Chinese national to three years in Federal prison for a conspiracy to steal trade secrets.  Mr. Mo Hailong was the Director of International Business of the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Company, commonly referred to as DBN. DBN is a Chinese conglomerate with a corn seed subsidiary company, Kings Nower Seed.

According to the plea agreement, Mo Hailong admitted to participating in a long-term conspiracy to steal trade secrets from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto. Mo Hailong participated in the theft of inbred corn seeds from fields in Iowa and elsewhere for the purpose of transporting the seeds to DBN in China. The stolen inbred, or parent, seeds were the valuable trade secrets of DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.

U.S. Attorney Kevin E. VanderSchel stated:

“Mo Hailong stole valuable proprietary information in the form of seed corn from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto in an effort to transport such trade secrets to China. Theft of trade secrets is a serious federal crime, as it harms victim companies that have invested millions of dollars and years of work toward the development of propriety technology. The theft of agricultural trade secrets, and other intellectual property, poses a grave threat to our national economic security. The Justice Department and federal law enforcement partners are committed to prosecuting those who in engage in conduct such as Mo Hailong.”

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES

On October 6, 2016, Nite Ize, Inc. filed a major 337 case against Device Holders, many of which come from China.  The relevant parts of the ITC notice along with the names of the Chinese respondent companies are below.

Commodity:

Device Holders

Filed by:

James B. Altman

Firm/Organization:

Foster, Murphy, Altman & Nickel, PC

Behalf of:

Nite Ize, Inc.

Description:

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Device Holders, and Components Thereof. The proposed respondents are Shenzhen Youtai Trade Company Limited, d/b/a NoChoice, China; REXS LLC, Lewes, DE; Spinido, Inc., Brighton, CO; Luo, Qiden, d/b/a Lita International Shop, China; Guangzhou Kuaguoyi E-commerece co., ltd., d/b/a Kagu Culture, China; Shenzhen New Dream Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a Newdreams, China; Shenzhen Gold South technology Co., Ltd. d/b/a Baidatong, China; Zhao Chunhui d/b/a Skyocean, China; Sunpauto Co., ltd., HK; Wang Zhi Gang d/b/a China; Dang Yuya d/b/a Sminiker, China; Shenzhen Topworld Technology Co.,    d/b/a IdeaPro, Hong Kong; Lin Zhen Mei d/b/a Anson, China; Wu Xuying d/b/a Novoland, China; Shenzhen New Dream Sailing Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a MegaDream, China; Zhongshan Feiyu Hardware technology Co., Ltd d/b/a YouFo, China; Ninghuazian Wangfulong Chaojishichang Youxian Gongsi, Ltd., d/b/a EasybuyUS, China; Chang Lee d/b/a Frentaly, Duluth, GA; Trendbox USA LLC d/b/a Trendbox, Scottsdale, AZ; Timespa d/b/a Jia Bai Nian (Shenzhen) Electronic Commerce Trade CO., LTD., China; Tontex d/b/a Shenzhen Hetongtai Electronics Co., Ltd., China; Scotabc d/b/a ShenChuang Opto-electronics Technology Co., Ltd., China; Tenswall d/b/a Shenzhen Tenswall International Trading Co., Ltd., La Puente, CA; Luo Jieqiong d/b/a Wekin, China; Pecham d/b/a Baichen Technology Ltd., Hong Kong; Cyrift d/b/a Guangzhou Sunway E-Commerce LLC., China; Rymemo d/b/a Global Box, LLC., Dunbar, PA; Wang Guoxiang d/b/a Minse, China; Yuan I d/b/a Bestrix, China; Zhiping Zhou d/b/a Runshion, China; Funlavie, Riverside, CA; Huijukon d/b/a Shenzhen Hui Ju Kang technology Co., Ltd., China; Zhang Haujun d/b/a CeeOne, China; Easy Acc d/b/a Searay LLC., Newark, DE; Barsone d/b/a Shenzhen Senweite Electronic Commerce Ltd., China; Oumeiou d/b/a Shenzhen Oumeiou Technology Co., Ltd., China; Grando d/b/a Shenzhen Dashentai Network Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Yingxue Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Longwang Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a LWANG, China; Hu Peng d/b/a AtomBud, China

CHINESE VERSION OF 337 ARTICLE

Set forth below is a Chinese version of the 337 English article published last month followed by the original English version.

阻止来自中国的侵权产品:337条款调查案

随着亚马逊和eBay加大力度引入中国卖家,以及越来越多的中国制造商另辟蹊径生产本身的产品,向我们在中国的律师咨询有关盗版产品和仿冒问题的公司数目也随之猛增。若该问题涉及到把侵权产品进口到美国,拥有美国知识产权的公司可以采取强大的补救措施进行反击。其中一个最强有力的补救措施就是337条款调查案,它可以用来阻止侵权产品进入美国,无论该产品生产自何处。

337条款调查案(该名称源自于19 U.S.C. 1337法令)可用来打击侵犯版权、商标、专利或商业秘密的进口品。但是由于注册商标和版权拥有人一般上可以采取其它的法律行动,337条款调查案对专利、未注册商标和商业秘密的拥有人尤其有效。虽然该调查案通常局限于知识产权,正在对钢铁产品进行的337调查案中,美国钢铁业试图将不公平行为的定义扩大以便将入侵计算机系统和违反反垄断行为包含在内。

首先,美国国际贸易委员会(“ITC”)会发起337条款的调查。如果ITC发现某进口货侵犯了特定的知识产权,可以发出排除令(exclusion order),美国海关就会扣留所有侵权的进口货。

大量种类各异的产品已经因337条款调查案而被禁止入口:从玩具(魔方拼图、椰菜娃娃)、鞋类(匡威运动鞋)、大型机器(造纸机)、消费类产品(首饰盒、汽车配件、电子香烟和烫发器)到高科技产品(电脑、手机和半导体芯片)等等。

337条款是知识产权和贸易的混合型法令,某个美国产业必须证明受到了伤害。伤害证明的要求很低,几乎所有的案例都符合此要求——只许一些销售损失就能证明伤害。对符合美国产业的要求可说是关键所在。美国产业通常是一家持有相关知识产权的公司。如果该知识产权是一项注册商标、版权或专利,美国产业的要求范围已扩大至凡在美国进行的工厂和设备、劳动力或资本的重大投资,以及专利权开发的实质性投资,包括工程、研发或授权许可,均可视为国内产业。然而,ITC最近提高了美国产业的要求,让专利“流氓”或非执业实体更难提出337调查案诉求。

337条款调查案由行政法官(ALJ)负责审理,诉讼过程迅速且激烈,一般上只需12至15个月来完成。ITC收到一份337调查的申请后,有30天的时间来决定是否立案。一旦确定立案,ITC会将诉状和调查通知答辩方。外国被诉方有30天的时间应诉,美国国内的被诉方则只有20天的时间应诉。如果进口商或外国被诉方没有做出回应,ITC会可认定公司放弃抗辩而发出排除令。

ITC在337调查案中所采取的是“对物”管辖权,也就是针对进口到美国的产品进行管辖。这很合理:ITC无权管制外国公司,但有权管制其进口产品。一般而言,337条款调查案和大多数的普通诉讼案不同,申诉方可以打赢一家1)不可能送达诉状、2)未能出庭聆讯,以及3)不可能被追讨款项的中国公司。

337条款调查案所采取的补救措施是颁布排除令,阻止答辩方的侵权产品进入美国。但是在某些特殊情况下,如果某个产品非常容易制造,ITC可以发布普遍排除令,不分来源地禁止所有同类侵权产品进入美国。以我处理过的魔方拼图案件为例,Ideal公司(申请人)把超过400家台湾公司列为侵犯其普通法商标的答辩人。ITC在1983年发布了普遍排除令(General Exclusion Order),阻止非Ideal公司制造的魔方产品进入美国市场,这一禁令沿用至今。除了排除令,ITC也可以发布制止令(cease and desist orders),禁止美国进口商继续售卖相关侵权产品。

337条款调查案的双方也可以选择庭外和解,但是和解协议必须经由ITC复审。我们经常协助客户尽早解决337条款调查案,以减少他们的诉讼费用。在20世纪90年代初期,RCA针对中国进口的电视提出了337条款调查。所有涉及的中国公司通过与RCA签署授权许可协议,迅速地解决了该调查案。

337条款调查案中的答辩人通常可以通过修改本身产品的设计来避开相关的侵权指责。约翰迪尔(John Deere)曾经指控把拖拉机漆成绿色和黄色的中国公司侵犯了约翰迪尔的商标,因而提出了一项著名的337条款调查案。大部分的中国答辩人与申诉人达成协议并改变拖拉机的颜色,例如蓝红色。

关键点:337条款调查案是ITC发起的强有力诉讼案,美国公司应该把它视为阻止侵权产品进入美国市场的手段。另一方面,涉及这些调查案的美国进口商和外国答辩人应该认真地对待它们,并且迅速做出回应,因为排除令发出后可延续多年有效。

 STOP IP INFRINGING PRODUCTS FROM CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES USING CUSTOMS AND SECTION 337 CASES

With Amazon and Ebay having increased their efforts at bringing in Chinese sellers and with more and more Chinese manufacturers branching out and making their own products, the number of companies contacting our China lawyers here at Harris Moure about problems with counterfeit products and knockoffs has soared. If the problem involves infringing products being imported into the United States, powerful remedies are available to companies with US IP rights if the infringing imports are products coming across the US border.

If the IP holder has a registered trademark or copyright, the individual or company holding the trademark or copyright can go directly to Customs and record the trademark under 19 CFR 133.1 or the copyright under 19 CFR 133.31.  See https://iprr.cbp.gov/.

Many years ago a US floor tile company was having massive problems with imports infringing its copyrights on its tile designs.  Initially, we looked at a Section 337 case as described below, but the more we dug down into the facts, we discovered that the company simply failed to register its copyrights with US Customs.

Once the trademarks and copyrights are registered, however, it is very important for the company to continually police the situation and educate the various Customs ports in the United States about the registered trademarks and copyrights and the infringing imports coming into the US.  Such a campaign can help educate the Customs officers as to what they should be looking out for when it comes to identifying which imports infringe the trademarks and copyrights in question.  The US recording industry many years ago had a very successful campaign at US Customs to stop infringing imports.

For those companies with problems from Chinese infringing imports, another alternative is to go to Chinese Customs to stop the export of infringing products from China.  The owner of Beanie Babies did this very successfully having Chinese Customs stop the export of the infringing Beanie Babies out of China.

One of the most powerful remedies is a Section 337 case, which can block infringing products, regardless of their origin, from entering the U.S.  A Section 337 action (the name comes from the implementing statute, 19 U.S.C. 1337) is available against imported goods that infringe a copyright, trademark, patent, or trade secret. But because other actions are usually readily available to owners of registered trademarks and copyrights, Section 337 actions are particularly effective for owners of patents, unregistered trademarks, and trade secrets. Although generally limited to IP rights, in the ongoing Section 337 steel case, US Steel has been attempting to expand the definition of unfair acts to include hacking into computer systems and antitrust violations.

The starting point is a section 337 investigation at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  If the ITC finds certain imports infringe a specific intellectual property right, it can issue an exclusion order and U.S. Customs will then keep out all the infringing imports at the border.

Section 337 cases have been brought and exclusion orders issued against a vast range of different products: from toys (Rubik’s Cube Puzzles, Cabbage Patch Dolls) to footwear (Converse sneakers) to large machinery (paper-making machines) to consumer products (caskets, auto parts, electronic cigarettes and hair irons) to high tech products (computers, cell phones, and semiconductor chips).

Section 337 is a hybrid IP and trade statute, which requires a showing of injury to a US industry. The injury requirement is very low and can nearly always be met–a few lost sales will suffice to show injury. The US industry requirement can be a sticking point. The US industry is usually the one company that holds the intellectual property right in question. If the IP right is a registered trademark, copyright or patent, the US industry requirement has been expanded to not only include significant US investment in plant and equipment, labor or capital to substantial investment in the exploitation of the IP right, including engineering, research and development or licensing.  Recently, however, the ITC has raised the US industry requirement to make it harder for patent “trolls” or Non Practicing Entities to bring 337 cases.

Section 337 cases, however, are directed at truly unfair acts.  Patents and Copyrights are protected by the US Constitution so in contrast to antidumping and countervailing duty cases, respondents in these cases get more due process protection.  The Administrative Procedures Act is applied to Section 337 cases with a full trial before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), extended full discovery, a long trial type hearing, but on a very expedited time frame.

Section 337 actions, in fact, are the bullet train of IP litigation, fast, intense litigation in front of an ALJ.  The typical section 337 case takes only 12-15 months. Once a 337 petition is filed, the ITC has 30 days to determine whether or not to institute the case. After institution, the ITC will serve the complaint and notice of investigation on the respondents. Foreign respondents have 30 days to respond to the complaint; US respondents have only 20 days. If the importers or foreign respondents do not respond to the complaint, the ITC can find the companies in default and issue an exclusion order.

The ITC’s jurisdiction in 337 cases is “in rem,” which means it is over the product being imported into the US. This makes sense: the ITC has no power over the foreign companies themselves, but it does have power over the imports. What this means in everyday terms is that unlike most regular litigation, a Section 337 case can be effectively won against a Chinese company that 1) is impossible to serve, 2) fails to show up at the hearing, and 3) is impossible to collect any money from.

The remedy in section 337 cases is an exclusion order excluding the respondent’s infringing products from entering the United States. In special situations, however, where it is very easy to manufacture a product, the ITC can issue a general exclusion order against the World.  In the Rubik’s Cube puzzle case, which was my case at the ITC, Ideal (the claimant) named over 400 Taiwan companies as respondents infringing its common law trademark. The ITC issued a General Exclusion Order in 1983 and it is still in force today, blocking Rubik’s Cube not made by Ideal from entering the United States. In addition to exclusion orders, the ITC can issue cease and desist orders prohibiting US importers from selling products in inventory that infringe the IP rights in question

Section 337 cases can also be privately settled, but the settlement agreement is subject to ITC review. We frequently work with our respondent clients to settle 337 cases early to minimize their legal fees. In the early 1990s, RCA filed a section 337 case against TVs from China. The Chinese companies all quickly settled the case by signing a license agreement with RCA.

Respondents caught in section 337 cases often can modify their designs to avoid the IP right in question. John Deere brought a famous 337 case aimed at Chinese companies that painted their tractors green and yellow infringing John Deere’s trademark. Most of the Chinese respondents settled the case and painted their tractors different colors, such as blue and red.

Bottom Line: Section 337 cases are intense litigation before the ITC, and should be considered by U.S. companies as a tool for fighting against infringing products entering the United States. On the flip side, US importers and foreign respondents named in these cases should take them very seriously and respond quickly because exclusion orders can stay in place for years.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

 

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TPP POLITICS, TAAF THE ANSWER, $2 BILLION MISSING DUMPING DUTIES AS CASES RISE, CUSTOMS LAW CHANGES, SOLAR CELLS, 337 CUSTOMS STOP INFRINGING IMPORTS

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC ReflectioFIRM UPDATE

In mid-August, Adams Lee, a well- known Trade and Customs lawyer from White & Case in Washington DC, has joined us here at Harris Moure in Seattle.  Adams has handled well over 100 antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  Attached is Adams’ bio, adams-lee-resume-aug-16, and his article is below on the new Customs Regulations against Evasion of US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders.

Adams and I will both be in China from Sept 11th to October 1st in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing.  If anyone would like to talk to us about these issues, please feel free to contact me at my e-mail, bill@harrismoure.com.

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

Dear Friends,

Trade continues to be at the center of the Presidential primary with a possible passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership during the Lame Duck Session.  This blog post contains the sixth, and maybe the most important, article on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies of a several part series on how weak free trade arguments have led to the sharp rise of protectionism of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the now possible demise of the Trans Pacific Partner (“TPP”).

The first article outlined the problem and why this is such a sharp attack on the TPP and some of the visceral arguments against free trade.  The second article explored in depth the protectionist arguments and the reason for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  The third article explored the weak and strong arguments against protectionism.  The fourth article discussed one of the most important arguments for the TPP—National Security.  The fifth article discussed why the Commerce Department’s and the US International Trade Commission’s (ITC) policy in antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) cases has led to a substantial increase in protectionism and national malaise of international trade victimhood.

The sixth article provides an answer with the only trade program that works and saves the companies and the jobs that go with them—The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program along with MEP, another US manufacturing program.  The Article will describe the attempts by both Congress and the Obama Administration to kill the program, which may, in fact, have resulted in the sharp rise in protectionism in the US.

To pass the TPP, Congress must also provide assistance to make US companies competitive in the new free trade market created by the TPP.  Congress must restore the trade safety net so that Congress can again vote for free trade agreements, and the United States can return to its leadership in the Free Trade area.  The Congress has to fix the trade situation now before the US and the World return to the Smoot Hawley protectionism of the 1930s and the rise of nationalism, which can lead to military conflict.

In addition, set forth below are articles on a possible new antidumping case on Aluminum Foil from China and the rise of AD and CVD cases, the $2 billion in missing AD and CVD duties, the new Customs regulations to stop Transshipment in AD and CVD cases, the upcoming deadlines in the Solar Cells case in both English and Chinese, recent decisions in Steel cases,  antidumping and countervailing duty reviews in September against Chinese companies, and finally an article about how to stop imports that infringe US intellectual property rights, either using US Customs law or Section 337 at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE PROTECTIONISM IS STILL A VERY BIG TOPIC OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION; THE TPP PROBABLY IS NOT COMING UP IN THE LAME DUCK

As mentioned in my last newsletter, I believe that if Hilary Clinton is elected, President Obama will push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) to come up for a vote during the Lame Duck Session.  The Congress, however, has other ideas.

In early August, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan stated that he saw no reason to bring up the TPP in the Lame Duck because “we don’t have the votes.”  Ryan went on to state:

“As long as we don’t have the votes, I see no point in bringing up an agreement only to defeat it.  They have to fix this agreement and renegotiate some pieces of it if they have any hope or chance of passing it. I don’t see how they’ll ever get the votes for it.”

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden stated in late August that he will not take a position on the TPP until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brings the TPP up for a vote.  But on August 26th, Mitch McConnell stated that passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be the next president’s problem, saying that the Senate will not vote on the treaty this year:

“The current agreement, the Trans-Pacific [Partnership], which has some serious flaws, will not be acted upon this year.  It will still be around. It can be massaged, changed, worked on during the next administration.”

With this statement, McConnell appears to have killed passage during the Obama Administration.

But businesses continue to push for the TPP.  On Sept 6th, the California Chamber of Commerce urged its Congressional delegation to pass the TPP.  In the attached Sept 7th letter, 9-7finaltppletter, the Washington State Council on International Trade also urged its Congressional delegation to pass TPP, stating:

“with 40 percent of Washington jobs dependent upon trade, it is paramount that we prioritize policies and investments that increase our state’s international competitiveness. That is why it is so important that you join us in calling for an immediate vote on the TPP; according to a newly released Washington Council on International Trade-Association of Washington Business study, Washington could have already increased our exports by up to $8.7 billion and directly created 26,000 new jobs had the TPP been implemented in 2015.

While the U.S. has some of the lowest import duties in the world on most goods, our local Washington exporters are faced with thousands of tariffs that artificially inflate the cost of American-made goods. TPP will help eliminate these barriers . . ..

TPP aligns with Washington’s high standards, setting 21st century standards for digital trade, environmental protections, and labor rules .  . . .  If we want to increase our competitiveness and set American standards for global trade, we must act now with the TPP.

This election season’s rhetoric has been hostile toward trade, but the TPP’s benefits for our state are undeniable. It is imperative that our state steps up to advocate for the family wage jobs and economic opportunities created by trade, and the time to do so is now.”

Despite the Congressional opposition, ever the optimist, President Obama keeps pushing for passage during the Lame Duck.  On August 30th, the White House Press Office stated:

“The president is going to make a strong case that we have made progress and there is a path for us to get this done before the president leaves office.”

On September 1, 2016, at a Press Conference in Hangzhou, China for the G20 meeting, President Obama said he is still optimistic about passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Obama argued that the economic benefits of the pact would win out once the “noise” of the election season subsides.

The President said he plans to assure the leaders of the other countries that signed the TPP that the U.S. will eventually approve the deal despite the very vocal opposition from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and Presidential candidates.

President Obama went to state:

“And it’s my intention to get this one done, because, on the merits, it is smart for America to do it. And I have yet to hear a persuasive argument from the left or the right as to why we wouldn’t want to create a trade framework that raises labor standards, raising environmental standards, protects intellectual property, levels the playing field for U.S. businesses, brings down tariffs.”

Obama stated that although other countries, such as Japan, have troubles passing the TPP, the other countries:

“are ready to go.  And what I’ll be telling them is that the United States has never had a smooth, uncontroversial path to ratifying trade deals, but they eventually get done”

“And so I intend to be making that argument. I will have to be less persuasive here because most people already understand that. Back home, we’ll have to cut through the noise once election season is over.  It’s always a little noisy there.”

As mentioned in the last blog post, one of the strongest arguments for the TPP is National Security.  Trade agreements help stop trade wars and military conflict.  But despite that very strong point, the impact of free trade on the average manufacturing worker has not been beneficial.

In a recent e-mail blast, the Steel Workers make the point:

“Because of unfair trade, 1,500 of my colleagues at U.S. Steel Granite City Works in Granite City, Illinois are still laid-off. It’s been more than six months since our mill shut down.

Worker unemployment benefits are running out. Food banks are emptying out. People are losing their homes. City services might even shut down.

But there’s finally reason for hope. The Commerce Department recently took action to enforce our trade laws by placing duties on unfairly traded imports from countries like China. That will help ensure steel imports are priced fairly — and allow us to compete . . . .

All told, nearly 19,000 Americans have faced layoffs across the country because of the steel imports crisis.

China is making far more steel than it needs. China knows this is a problem, and repeatedly has pledged to cut down on steel production. But nothing has changed . . . .

China’s steel industry is heavily subsidized by its government, and it also doesn’t need to follow serious labor or environmental rules. But China has to do something with all that steel, so it dumps it into the United States far below market value.”

In a recent Business Week article, Four Myths about Trade, Robert Atkinson, the president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, made the same point stating:

The Washington trade establishment’s second core belief is that trade is an unalloyed good, even if other nations engage in mercantilism. . . . it doesn’t matter if other nations massively subsidize their exporters, require U.S. companies to hand over the keys to their technology in exchange for market access, or engage in other forms of mercantilist behavior.  . . .

But China and others are proving that this is folly. In industry after industry, including the advanced innovation-based industries that are America’s future, they are gaming the rules of global trade to hold others back while they leap forward. . ..

It’s a reflection of having lost competitive advantage to other nations in many higher-value-added industries, in part because of foreign mercantilist policies and domestic economic-policy failures.

The Author then goes on to state the US must be tough in fighting mercantilism and “vigilantly enforce trade rules, such as by bringing many more trade-enforcement cases to the WTO, pressuring global aid organizations to cut funding to mercantilist nations, limiting the ability of companies in mercantilist nations to buy U.S. firms, and more.”

But this argument then runs into reality.  As indicated below, Commerce finds dumping in about 95% of the cases.  Thus, there are more than 130 AD and CVD orders against China blocking about $30 billion in imports.  Presently more than 80 AD and CVD orders are against raw materials from China, chemicals, metals and various steel products, used in downstream US production.  In the Steel area, there are AD and CVD orders against the following Chinese steel products:

carbon steel plate, hot rolled carbon steel flat products, circular welded and seamless carbon quality steel pipe, rectangular pipe and tube, circular welded austenitic stainless pressure pipe, steel threaded rod, oil country tubular goods, steel wire strand and wire, high pressure steel cylinders, non-oriented electrical steel, and carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod.

There are ongoing investigations against cold-rolled steel and corrosion resistant/galvanized steel so many Chinese steel products from China are already blocked by US AD and CVD orders with very high rates well over 100%.

AD and CVD orders stay in place for 5 to 30 years and yet the companies, such as the Steel Industry, still decline.  After 40 years of protection from Steel imports by AD and CVD orders, where is Bethlehem Steel today?  The Argument seems to be that if industries simply bring more cases, the Commerce Department is even tougher and the orders are enforced, all US companies will be saved, wages will go up and jobs will be everywhere.

The reality, however, is quite different.  In fact, many of these orders have led to the destruction of US downstream industries so does hitting the Chinese with more trade cases really solve the trade problem?

More importantly, although Commerce does not use real numbers in antidumping cases against China, it does use actual prices and costs in antidumping steel cases against Korea, India, Taiwan, and many other countries.  In a recent antidumping case against Off the Road Tires from India, where China faces dumping rates of between 11 and 105%, the only two Indian exporters, which were both mandatory respondents, received 0% dumping rates and the Commerce Department in a highly unusual preliminary determination reached a negative no dumping determination on the entire case.

Market economy countries, such as Korea and India, can run computer programs to make sure that they are not dumping.  This is not gaming the system.  This is doing exactly what the antidumping law is trying to remedy—elimination of the unfair act, dumping.

Antidumping and countervailing duty laws are not penal statutes, they are remedial statutes and that is why US importers, who pay the duties, and the foreign producers/exporters are not entitled to full due process rights in AD and CVD cases, including application of the Administrative Procedures Act, decision by a neutral Administrative Law Judge and a full trial type hearing before Commerce and the ITC, such as Section 337 Intellectual Property cases, described below.

In fact, when industries, such as the steel industry, companies and workers along with Government officials see dumping and subsidization in every import into the United States, this mindset creates a disease—Globalization/International Trade victimhood.  We American workers and companies simply cannot compete because all imports are dumped and subsidized.

That simply is not true and to win the trade battles and war a change in mindset is required.

In his Article, Mr. Atkinson’s second argument may point to the real answer.  The US government needs to make US manufacturing companies competitive again:

It must begin with reducing the effective tax rate on corporations. To believe that America can thrive in the global economy with the world’s highest statutory corporate-tax rates and among the highest effective corporate-tax rates, especially for manufacturers, is to ignore the intense global competitive realities of the 21st century. Tax reform then needs to be complemented with two other key items: a regulatory-reform strategy particularly aimed at reducing burdens on industries that compete globally, and increased funding for programs that help exporters, such as the Export-Import Bank, the new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, and a robust apprenticeship program for manufacturing workers. . . .

if Congress and the next administration develop a credible new globalization doctrine for the 21st century — melding tough trade enforcement with a robust national competitiveness agenda — then necessary trade-opening steps like the Trans-Pacific Partnership will once again be on the table and the U.S. economy will begin to thrive once again.

When it comes to Trade Adjustment Assistance, however, as Congressman Jim McDermott recently stated in an article, workers do not want handouts and training.  They want jobs.  The only trade remedy that actually provides jobs is the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program and MEP, another manufacturing program.

FREE TRADE REQUIRES COMPETITIVE US COMPANIES— TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES AND THE MEP MANUFACTURING PROGRAM ARE THE ANSWER

On August 17th, in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the author referred to “the longstanding Republican promotion of trade as an engine of growth.” The author then goes on to state:

But what Donald Trump sees and the Republican elites have long missed is that for trade to be a winner for Americans, our government must provide policies for our industries to be the most competitive in the world. Mr. Zoellick and others promoted trade without promoting American competitiveness.  . . .

Mr. Zoellick should take a lesson from the American gymnasts in Rio and see how competitiveness leads to winning.

Although Donald Trump might agree with that point, there are Government programs already in effect that increase the competitiveness of US companies injured by imports, but they have been cut to the bone.

This is despite the fact that some of the highest paying American jobs have routinely been in the nation’s manufacturing sector. And some of the highest prices paid for the nation’s free trade deals have been paid by the folks who work in it. What’s shocking is the fact that that isn’t shocking anymore. And what’s really shocking is that we seem to have accepted it as the “new normal.” Now where did that ever come from?

How did we get here? How did we fall from the summit? Was it inexorable? Did we get soft? Did we get lazy? Did we stop caring? Well perhaps to some extent. But my sense of it is that too many of us have bought into the idea of globalization victimhood and a sort of paralysis has been allowed to set in.

Now in my opinion that’s simply not in America’s DNA. It’s about time that this nation decided not to participate in that mind set any longer. Economists and policy makers of all persuasions are now beginning to recognize the requirement for a robust response by this nation to foreign imports – irrespective of party affiliation or the particular free trade agreement under consideration at any given moment.  Companies, workers and Government officials need to stop blaming the foreigner and figure out what they can do to compete with the foreign imports.

There is no doubt in my mind that open and free trade benefits the overall U.S. economy in the long run. However, companies and the families that depend on the employment therein, indeed whole communities, are adversely affected in the short run (some for extended periods) resulting in significant expenditures in public welfare and health programs, deteriorated communities and the overall lowering of America’s industrial output.

But here’s the kicker: programs that can respond effectively already exist. Three of them are domiciled in our Department of Commerce and one in our Department of Labor:

  • Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (Commerce)
  • The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Commerce)
  • Economic Adjustment for Communities (Commerce)
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance for Displaced Workers (Labor)

This Article, however, is focused on making US companies competitive again and the first two programs do just that, especially for smaller companies.  Specific federal support for trade adjustment programs, however, has been legislatively restrictive, bureaucratically hampered, organizationally disjointed, and substantially under-funded.

The lessons of history are clear. In the 1990’s, after the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, the federal government reduced defense industry procurements and closed military facilities. In response, a multi-agency, multi-year effort to assist adversely affected defense industries, their workers, and communities facing base closures were activated. Although successes usually required years of effort and follow on funding from agencies of proven approaches (for example the reinvention of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard into a center for innovation and vibrant commercial activities), there was a general sense that the federal government was actively responding to a felt need at the local level.

A similar multi-agency response has been developed in the event of natural disasters, i.e., floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. Dimensions of the problem are identified, an appropriate expenditure level for a fixed period of time is authorized and the funds are deployed as needed through FEMA, SBA and other relevant agencies such as EDA.

The analogy to trade policy is powerful.  When the US Government enters into Trade Agreements, such as the TPP, Government action changes the market place.  All of a sudden US companies can be faced, not with a Tidal Wave, but a series of flash floods of foreign competition and imports that can simply wipe out US companies.

A starting point for a trade adjustment strategy would be for a combined Commerce-Labor approach building upon existing authorities and proven programs, that can be upgraded and executed forthwith.

Commerce’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) has 11 regional (multi-state) TAAF Centers but the program has been cut to only $12.5 million annually. The amount of matching funds for US companies has not changed since the 1980s. The system has the band-width to increase to a run rate of $50 million.  Projecting a four-year ramp up of $90 million (FY18-FY21), the TAA program could serve an additional 2,150 companies.

Foreign competitors may argue that TAA for Firms/Companies is a subsidy, but the money does not go directly to the companies themselves, but to consultants to work with the companies through a series of knowledge-based projects to make the companies competitive again.  Moreover, the program does not affect the US market or block imports in any way.

Does the program work?  In the Northwest, where I am located, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program since 1984.  The MidAtlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center in this video at http://mataac.org/howitworks/ describes in detail how the program works and why it is so successful—Its flexibility in working with companies on an individual basis to come up with specific adjustment plans for each company to make the companies competitive again in the US market as it exists today.

Increasing funding will allow the TAA for Firms/Companies program to expand its bandwidth and provide relief to larger US companies, including possibly even steel producers.  If companies that use steel can be saved by the program, why can’t the steel producers themselves?

But it will take a tough love approach to trade problems.  Working with the companies to forget about Globalization victimhood and start trying to actually solve the Company’s problems that hinder its competitiveness in the market as it exists today.

In addition to TAA for Firms/Companies, another important remedy needed to increase competitiveness is Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which has a Center in each State and Puerto Rico.  MEP provides high quality management and technical assistance to the country’s small manufacturers with an annual budget of $130 million. MEP, in fact, is one the remedies suggested by the TAA Centers along with other projects to make the companies competitive again.

As a consequence of a nation-wide re-invention of the system, MEP is positioned to serve even more companies. A commitment of $100 million over four years would serve an additional 8,400 firms. These funds could be targeted to the small manufacturing firms that are the base of our supply chain threatened by foreign imports.

Each of these programs requires significant non-federal match or cost share from the companies themselves, to assure that the local participants have significant skin in the game and to amplify taxpayer investment.  A $250 million commitment from the U.S. government would be a tangible although modest first step in visibly addressing the local consequences of our trade policies. The Department of Commerce would operate these programs in a coordinated fashion, working in collaboration with the Department of Labor’s existing Trade Adjustment Assistance for Displaced Workers program.

TAA for Workers is funded at the $711 million level, but retraining workers should be the last remedy in the US government’s bag.  If all else fails, retrain workers, but before that retrain the company so that the jobs and the companies are saved.  That is what TAA for Firms/Companies and the MEP program do.  Teach companies how to swim in the new market currents created by trade agreements and the US government

In short – this serious and multi-pronged approach will begin the process of stopping globalization victimhood in its tracks.

Attached is White Paper, taaf-2-0-white-paper, prepares to show to expand TAA for Firms/Companies and take it to the next level above $50 million, which can be used to help larger companies adjust to import competition.  The White Paper also rebuts the common arguments against TAA for Firms/Companies.

ALUMINUM FOIL FROM CHINA, RISE IN ANTIDUMPING CASES PUSHED BY COMMERCE AND ITC

On August 22, 2016, the Wall Street Journal published an article on how the sharp rise of aluminum foil imports, mostly from China, has led to the shutdown of US U.S. aluminum foil producers.  Articles, such as this one, often signal that an antidumping case is coming in the near future.

Recently, there have been several articles about the sharp rise in antidumping and countervailing duty/trade remedy cases in the last year.  By the second half of 2016, the US Government has reported that twice as many antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) case have been initiated in 2015-2016 as in 2009.

China is not the only target.  AD cases have been recently filed against steel imports from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Taiwan, and Turkey; Steel Flanges from India, Italy and Spain; Chemicals from Korea and China, and Rubber from Brazil, Korea, Mexico and Poland.

The potential Aluminum Foil case may not be filed only against China.  In addition to China, the case could also be filed against a number of foreign exporters of aluminum foil to the United States.

Under US law Commerce determines whether dumping is taking place.  Dumping is defined as selling imported goods at less than fair value or less than normal value, which in general terms means lower than prices in the home/foreign market or below the fully allocated cost of production.  Antidumping duties are levied to remedy the unfair act by raising the US price so that the products are fairly traded.

Commerce also imposes Countervailing Duties to offset any foreign subsidies provided by foreign governments so as to raise the price of the subsidized imports.

AD and CVD duties can only be imposed if there is injury to the US industry, which is determined by the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  But in determining injury, the law directs the ITC to cumulate, that is add together all the imports of the same product from the various foreign exporters.  Thus if a number of countries are exporting aluminum foil in addition to China, there is a real incentive for the US aluminum foil industry to file a case against all the other countries too.

There are several reasons for the sharp rise in AD and CVD cases.  One is the state of the economy and the sharp rise in imports.  In bad economic times, the two lawyers that do the best are bankruptcy and international trade lawyers.  Chinese overcapacity can also result in numerous AD and CVD cases being filed not only in the United States but around the World.

Although the recent passage of the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 has made it marginally better to bring an injury case at the ITC, a major reason for the continued rise in AD and CVD cases is the Commerce and ITC determinations in these cases.  Bringing an AD case, especially against China, is like the old country saying, shooting fish in a barrel.

By its own regulation, Commerce finds dumping and subsidization in almost every case, and the ITC in Sunset Review Investigations leaves antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place for as long as 20 to 30 years, often to protect single company US industries, resulting in permanent barriers to imports and the creation of monopolies.

Many readers may ask why should people care if prices go up a few dollars at WalMart for US consumers?  Jobs remain.  Out of the 130 plus AD and CVD orders against China, more than 80 of the orders are against raw materials, chemicals, metals and steel, that go directly into downstream US production.  AD orders have led to the closure of downstream US factories.

Commerce has defined dumping so that 95% of the products imported into the United States are dumped.  Pursuant to the US Antidumping Law, Commerce chooses mandatory respondent companies to individually respond to the AD questionnaire.  Commerce generally picks only two or three companies out of tens, if not hundreds, of respondent companies.

Only mandatory companies in an AD case have the right to get zero, no dumping margins.  Only those mandatory respondent companies have the right to show that they are not dumping.  If a company gets a 0 percent, no dumping determination, in the initial investigation, the antidumping order does not apply to that company.

Pursuant to the AD law, for the non-mandatory companies, the Commerce Department may use any other reasonable method to calculate antidumping rates, which means weight averaging the rates individually calculated for the mandatory respondents, not including 0 rates.  If all mandatory companies receive a 0% rate, Commerce will use any other reasonable method to determine a positive AD rate, not including 0% rates.

So if there are more than two or three respondent companies in an AD case, which is the reality in most cases, by its own law and practice, Commerce will reach an affirmative dumping determination.  All three mandatory companies may get 0% dumping rates, but all other companies get a positive dumping rate.  Thus almost all imports are by the Commerce Department’s definition dumped.

Under the Commerce Department’s methodology all foreign companies are guilty of dumping and subsidization until they prove their innocence, and almost all foreign companies never have the chance to prove their innocence.

Commerce also has a number of other methodologies to increase antidumping rates.  In AD cases against China, Commerce treats China as a nonmarket economy country and, therefore, refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping, which makes it very easy for Commerce to find very high dumping rates.

In market economy cases, such as cases against EU and South American countries, Commerce has used zeroing or targeted dumping to create antidumping rates, even though the WTO has found such practices to be contrary to the AD Agreement.

The impact of the Commerce Department’s artificial methodology is further exaggerated by the ITC.  Although in the initial investigation, the ITC will go negative, no injury, in 30 to 40% of the cases, once the antidumping order is in place it is almost impossible to persuade the ITC to lift the antidumping order in Sunset Review investigations.

So antidumping orders, such as Pressure Sensitive Tape from Italy (1977), Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand from Japan (1978), Potassium Permanganate from China (1984), Cholopicrin from China (1984), and Porcelain on Steel Cookware from China (1986), have been in place for more than 30 years.  In 1987 when I was at the Commerce Department, an antidumping case was filed against Urea from the entire Soviet Union.  Antidumping orders from that case against Russia and Ukraine are still in place today.

In addition, many of these antidumping orders, such as Potassium Permanganate, Magnesium, Porcelain on Steel Cookware, and Sulfanilic Acid, are in place to protect one company US industries, creating little monopolies in the United States.

Under the Sunset Review methodology, the ITC never sunsets AD and CVD orders unless the US industry no longer exists.

By defining dumping the way it does, both Commerce and the ITC perpetuate the myth of Globalization victimhood.  We US companies and workers simply cannot compete against imports because all imports are dumped or subsidized.  But is strangling downstream industries to protect one company US industries truly good trade policy?  Does keeping AD orders in place for 20 to 30 years really save the US industry and make the US companies more competitive?  The answer simply is no.

Protectionism does not work but it does destroy downstream industries and jobs.  Protectionism is destructionism. It costs jobs.

US MISSING $2 BILLION IN ANTIDUMPING DUTIES, MANY ON CHINESE PRODUCTS

According to the attached recent report by the General Accounting Office, gao-report-ad-cvd-missing-duties, the US government is missing about $2.3 billion in unpaid anti-dumping and countervailing duties, two-thirds of which will probably never be paid.

The United States is the only country in the World that has retroactive liability for US importers.  When rates go up, US importers are liable for the difference plus interest.  But the actual determination of the amount owed by the US imports can take place many years after the import was actually made into the US.

The GAO found that billing errors and delays in final duty assessments were major factors in the unpaid bills, with many of the importers with the largest debts leaving the import business before they received their bill.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that it does not expect to collect most of that debt”.  Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) anticipates that about $1.6 billion of the total will never be paid.

As the GAO report states:

elements of the U.S. system for determining and collecting AD/CV duties create an inherent risk that some importers will not pay the full amount they owe in AD/CV duties. . . . three related factors create a heightened risk of AD/CV duty nonpayment: (1) The U.S. system for determining such duties involves the setting of an initial estimated duty rate upon the entry of goods, followed by the retrospective assessment of a final duty rate; (2) the amount of AD/CV duties for which an importer may be ultimately billed can significantly exceed what the importer pays when the goods enter the country; and (3) the assessment of final AD/CV duties can occur up to several years after an importer enters goods into the United States, during which time the importer may cease operations or become unable to pay additional duties.

The vast majority of the missing duties, 89%, were clustered around the following products from China: Fresh Garlic ($577 million), Wooden Bedroom Furniture ($505 million), Preserved Mushrooms ($459 million), crawfish tail meat ($210 million), Pure Magnesium ($170 million), and Honey ($158 million).

The GAO Report concludes at page 56-47:

We estimate the amount of uncollected duties on entries from fiscal year 2001 through 2014 to be $2.3 billion. While CBP collects on most AD/CV duty bills it issues, it only collects, on average, about 31 percent of the dollar amount owed. The large amount of uncollected duties is due in part to the long lag time between entry and billing in the U.S. retrospective AD/CV duty collection system, with an average of about 2-and-a-half years between the time goods enter the United States and the date a bill may be issued. Large differences between the initial estimated duty rate and the final duty rate assessed also contribute to unpaid bills, as importers receiving a large bill long after an entry is made may be unwilling or unable to pay. In 2015, CBP estimated that about $1.6 billion in duties owed was uncollectible. By not fully collecting unpaid AD/CV duty bills, the U.S. government loses a substantial amount of revenue and compromises its efforts to deter and remedy unfair and injurious trade practices.

But with all these missing duties, why doesn’t the US simply move to a prospective methodology, where the importer pays the dumping rate calculated by Commerce and the rate only goes up for future imports after the new rate is published.

Simple answer—the In Terrorem, trade chilling, effect of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders—the legal threat that the US importers will owe millions in the future, which could jeopardize the entire import company.  As a result, over time imports from China and other countries covered by AD and CVD order often decline to 0 because established importers are simply too scared to take the risk of importing under an AD and CVD order.

CUTSOMS NEW LAW AGAINST TRANSSHIPMENT AROUND AD AND CVD ORDERS; ONE MORE LEGAL PROCEDURE FOR US IMPORTERS AND FOREIGN EXPORTERS TO BE WARY OF

By Adams Lee, Trade and Customs Partner, Harris Moure.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued new attached regulations, customs-regs-antidumping, that establish a new administrative procedure for CBP to investigate AD and CVD duty evasion.  81 FR 56477 (Aug. 22, 2016). Importers of any product that could remotely be considered merchandise subject to an AD/CVD order now face an increased likelihood of being investigated for AD/CVD duty evasion. The new CBP AD/CVD duty evasion investigations are the latest legal procedure, together with CBP Section 1592 penalty actions (19 USC 1592), CBP criminal prosecutions (18 USC 542, 545), and “qui tam” actions under the False Claims Act, aimed at ensnaring US importers and their foreign suppliers in burdensome and time-consuming proceedings that can result in significant financial expense or even criminal charges.

The following are key points from these new regulations:

  • CBP now has a new option to pursue and shut down AD/CVD duty evasion schemes.
  • CBP will have broad discretion to issue questions and conduct on-site verifications.
  • CBP investigations may result in interim measures that could significantly affect importers.
  • CBP’s interim measures may effectively establish a presumption of the importer’s guilt until proven innocent.
  • Other interested parties, including competing importers, can chime in to support CBP investigations against accused importers.
  • Both petitioners and respondents will have the opportunity to submit information and arguments.
  • Failure to cooperate and comply with CBP requests may result in CBP applying an adverse inference against the accused party.
  • Failing to respond adequately may result in CBP determining AD/CVD evasion has occurred.

The new CBP regulations (19 CFR Part 165) establish a formal process for how it will consider allegations of AD/CVD evasion. These new regulations are intended to address complaints from US manufacturers that CBP was not doing enough to address AD/CVD evasion schemes and that their investigations were neither transparent nor effective.

AD/CVD duty evasion schemes typically involve falsely declaring the country of origin or misclassifying the product (e.g., “widget from China” could be misreported as “widget from Malaysia” or “wadget from China”).

Petitions filed by domestic manufacturers trigger concurrent investigations by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to determine whether AD/CVD orders should be issued to impose duties on covered imports. The DOC determines if imports have been dumped or subsidized and sets the initial AD/CVD rates.  CBP then has the responsibility to collect AD/CVD duty deposits and to assess the final amount of AD/CVD duties owed at the rates determined by DOC.

US petitioners have decried U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as the weak link in enforcing US trade laws, not just because of it often being unable to collect the full amount of AD/CVD duties owed, but also because how CBP responds to allegations of AD/CVD evasion. Parties that provided CBP with information regarding evasion schemes were not allowed to participate in CBP’s investigations and were not notified of whether CBP had initiated an investigation or the results of any investigation.

CBP’s new regulations address many complaints regarding CBP’s lack of transparency in handling AD/CVD evasion allegations. The new regulations provide more details on how CBP procedures are to be conducted, the types of information that will be considered and made available to the public, and the specific timelines and deadlines in CBP investigations:

  • “Interested parties” for CBP investigations now includes not just the accused importers, but also competing importers that submit the allegations.
  • Interested parties now have access to public versions of information submitted in CBP’s investigation of AD/CVD evasion allegations.
  • After submission and receipt of a properly filed allegation, CBP has 15 business day to determine whether to initiate an investigation and 95 days to notify all interested parties of its decision. If CBP does not proceed with an investigation, CBP has five business days to notify the alleging party of that determination.
  • Within 90 days of initiating an investigation, CBP can impose interim measures if it has a “reasonable suspicion” that the importer used evasion to get products into the U.S.

Many questions remain as to how CBP will apply these regulations to actual investigations.  How exactly will parties participate in CBP investigations and what kind of comments will be accepted?  How much of the information in the investigations will be made public? How is “reasonable suspicion” defined and what kind of evidence will be considered? Is it really the case that accused Importers may be subject to interim measures (within 90 days of initiation) even before they receive notice of an investigation (within 95 days of initiation)?

These new AD/CVD duty evasion regulations further evidence the government’s plans to step up its efforts to enforce US trade laws more effectively and importers must – in turn – step up their vigilance to avoid being caught in one of these new traps.

UPCOMING DEADLINES IN SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING CASE—CHANCE TO GET BACK INTO THE US MARKET AGAIN

There are looming deadlines in the Solar Cells from China Antidumping (“AD”) and Countervailing Duty (“CVD”) case.  In December 2016, US producers, Chinese companies and US importers can request a review investigation in the Solar Cells case of the sales and imports that entered the United States during the review period, December 1, 2015 to November 31, 2016.

December 2016 will be a very important month for US importers because administrative reviews determine how much US importers actually owe in AD and CVD cases. Generally, the US industry will request a review of all Chinese companies. If a Chinese company does not respond in the Commerce Department’s Administrative Review, its AD and CVD rate could well go to the highest level and for certain imports the US importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

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

In February 2016, while in China I found many examples of Chinese solar companies or US importers, which did not file requests for a review investigation in December 2015.  In one instance, although the Chinese company obtained a separate rate during the Solar Cells initial investigation, the Petitioner appealed to the Court.  The Chinese company did not know the case was appealed, and the importer now owe millions in antidumping duties because they failed to file a review request in December 2015.

In another instance, in the Solar Products case, the Chinese company requested a review investigation in the CVD case but then did not respond to the Commerce quantity and value questionnaire.   That could well result in a determination of All Facts Available giving the Chinese company the highest CVD China rate of more than 50%.

The worst catastrophe in CVD cases was Aluminum Extrusions from China where the failure of mandatory companies to respond led to a CVD rate of 374%.  In the first review investigation, a Chinese company came to us because Customs had just ruled their auto part to be covered by the Aluminum Extrusions order.  To make matters worse, an importer requested a CVD review of the Chinese company, but did not tell the company and they did not realize that a quantity and value questionnaire had been sent to them.  We immediately filed a QV response just the day before Commerce’s preliminary determination.

Too late and Commerce gave the Chinese company an AFA rate of 121% by literally assigning the Chinese company every single subsidy in every single province and city in China, even though the Chinese company was located in Guangzhou.  Through a Court appeal, we reduced the rate to 79%, but it was still a high rate, so it is very important for companies to keep close watch on review investigations.

The real question many Chinese solar companies may have is how can AD and CVD rates be reduced so that we can start exporting to the US again.  In the Solar Cells case, the CVD China wide rate is only 15%.  The real barrier to entry is the China wide AD rate of 249%

US AD and CVD laws, however, are considered remedial, not punitive statutes.  Thus, every year in the month in which the AD or CVD order was issued, Commerce gives the parties, including the domestic producers, foreign producers and US importers, the right to request a review investigation based on sales of imports that entered the US in the preceding year.

Thus, the AD order on Solar Cells from China was issued in December 2012.   In December 2016, a Chinese producer and/or US importer can request a review investigation of the Chinese solar cells that were entered, actually imported into, the US during the period December 1, 2015 to November 31, 2016.

Chinese companies may ask that it is too difficult and too expensive to export may solar cells to the US, requesting a nonaffiliated importer to put up an AD of 298%, which can require a payment of well over $1 million USD.  The US AD and CVD law is retrospective.  Thus the importer posts a cash deposit when it imports products under an AD or CVD order, and the importer will get back the difference plus interest at the end of the review investigation.

More importantly, through a series of cases, Commerce has let foreign producers export smaller quantities of the product to use as a test sale in a review investigation if all other aspects of the sale are normal.  Thus in a Solar Cells review investigation, we had the exporter make a small sale of several panels along with other products and that small sale served as the test sale to establish the new AD rate.

How successful can companies be in reviews?  In a recent Solar Cells review investigation, we dropped a dumping rate of 249% to 8.52%, allowing the Chinese Solar Cell companies to begin to export to the US again.

Playing the AD and CVD game in review investigations can significantly reduce AD and CVD rates and get the Chinese company back in the US market again

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA CHINESE VERSION OF THE ARTICLE

中国进口太阳能电池反倾销案即将到来的最后期限重返美国市场的机会

针对原产自中国的太阳能电池反倾销(“AD”)和反补贴税(“CVD”)案的期限迫在眉睫。2016年12月,美国制造商、中国公司和美国进口商可以要求当局复审调查于2015年12月1日至2016年11月31日的审查期间进口并在美国销售的太阳能电池案例。

2016年12月将会是美国进口商的一个重要月份,因为行政复审将决定美国进口商在AD和CVD案中的实际欠款。一般上,美国业者会要求当局对所有中国公司进行复审。如果一家中国公司没有对商务部的行政复审做出回应,它很可能被征收最高的AD和CVD税率,美国进口商也将被追溯征收特定进口产品的差额及利息。

就我的经验而言,许多美国进口商并没有意识到行政复审调查的重要性。他们认为初步调查结束后,AD和CVD案也就此结束。许多进口商因为其中国供应商没有对行政复审做出回应,导致他们本身背负数百万美元的追溯性责任而因此措手不及。

2016年2月,我在中国期间发现很多中国太阳能公司或美国进口商没有在2015年12月提出复审调查请求。在其中一个例子中,某中国公司虽然在太阳能电池初步调查期间获得了单独税率,但是申请人向法庭提出了上诉。该中国公司并不知道有关的上诉案,结果进口商由于无法在2015年12月提出复审要求,现在欠下了数百万美元的反倾销税。

在另一个与太阳能产品有关的案例中,某中国公司针对CVD案提出了复审调查的要求,却没有对商务部的数量和价值问卷做出回应。这很可能导致当局根据“所有可得的事实”(All Facts Available)来向该中国公司征收超过50%的最高对华CVD税率。

在众多的CVD案例中,中国进口的铝合金型材所面对的局面最糟糕,受强制调查的公司若无法做出相关回应可被征收374%的CVD税率。一家中国公司在首个复审调查时联系上我们,因为海关刚裁定他们的汽车零部件属于铝合金型材生产项目。更糟的是,一家进口商在没有通知该中国公司的情况下,要求当局对其进行CVD审查,而他们也不晓得当局已经向他们发出一份数量和价值问卷。我们立即在初审的前一天提交了QV做出了回应。

可是这一切都已经太迟了,虽然该中国公司位于广州,商务部却逐一地根据中国的每一个省份和城市的补贴,向该中国公司征收了121%的AFA税率。我们通过向法庭提出上诉,将税率减少到了79%,可是这一税率还是很高,因此所有公司都有必要仔细地关注复审调查。

很多中国太阳能产品企业最想知道的,是如何降低AD和CVD税率,好让我们能再次将产品进口到美国。以太阳能电池的案例来看,当局向中国征收的统一性CVD税率仅为15%。当局向中国征收的统一性AD税率高达249%,这才是真正的入市门槛。

不过,美国的AD和CVD法律被认为是补救性而不是惩罚性法规,所以商务部每年在颁布AD或CVD令后,会在该月份允许包括美国国内生厂商、外国生厂商和美国进口商在内的各方,对上一年在美国销售的进口产品提出复审调查的要求。

因此,针对中国进口的太阳能电池的AD令是在2012年12月颁布的。一家中国生厂商和/或美国进口商可以在2016年12月,要求当局对从2015年12月1日至2016年11月31日期间进口到美国的中国太阳能电池进行复审调查。

中国公司或许会问,要求一家无关联的进口商承担298%的AD税,也就是支付超过1百万美元的费用,以便进口大批的太阳能电池到美国,是否太困难也太贵了。美国的AD和CVD法律是有追溯力的。因此,在AD或CVD令下,进口商在进口产品时会支付现款押金,并在复审调查结束后取回差额加上利息。

更重要的是,在一系列的案例中,商务部已经允许外国生厂商在其它销售方面都正常的情况下,出口少量产品作为试销用途。所以在一宗太阳能电池的复审调查案中,我们让出口商在销售其它产品的同时,出售少量的电池板作为试销用途以建立新的AD税率。

公司在复审案中的成功率有多大?在最近的一宗太阳能电池复审调查案中,我们将倾销率从249%下降到8.52%,协助中国太阳能电池公司重新进口产品到美国。

在复审调查期间了解如何应对并采取正确的策略,可以大幅度降低AD和CVD税率,并让中国公司重返美国市场。

STEEL TRADE CASES

HOT ROLLED STEEL FLAT PRODUCTS

On August 5, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-multiple-hot-rolled-steel-flat-products-ad-cvd-final-080816, Commerce issued final dumping determinations in Hot-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom cases, and a final countervailing duty determination of Hot-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Brazil, Korea, and Turkey.

Other than Brazil, Australia and the United Kingdom, most antidumping rates were in the single digits.

In the Countervailing duty case, most companies got rates in single digits, except for POSCO in Korea, which received a CVD rate of 57%.

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On September 8, 2016, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, pdf-published-fed-reg-notice-oppty, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of September. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products, Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons, Off the Road Tires, Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars.   The specific countervailing duty cases are: Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Narrow Woven Ribbons, Off the Road Tires, Flexible Magnets, and Magnesia Carbon Bricks.

For those US import companies that imported : Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products, Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons, Off the Road Tires, Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars during the antidumping period September 1, 2015-August 31, 2016 or the countervailing duty period of review, calendar year 2015, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

STOP IP INFRINGING PRODUCTS FROM CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES USING CUSTOMS AND SECTION 337 CASES

With Amazon and Ebay having increased their efforts at bringing in Chinese sellers and with more and more Chinese manufacturers branching out and making their own products, the number of companies contacting our China lawyers here at Harris Moure about problems with counterfeit products and knockoffs has soared. If the problem involves infringing products being imported into the United States, powerful remedies are available to companies with US IP rights if the infringing imports are products coming across the US border.

If the IP holder has a registered trademark or copyright, the individual or company holding the trademark or copyright can go directly to Customs and record the trademark under 19 CFR 133.1 or the copyright under 19 CFR 133.31.  See https://iprr.cbp.gov/.

Many years ago a US floor tile company was having massive problems with imports infringing its copyrights on its tile designs.  Initially, we looked at a Section 337 case as described below, but the more we dug down into the facts, we discovered that the company simply failed to register its copyrights with US Customs.

Once the trademarks and copyrights are registered, however, it is very important for the company to continually police the situation and educate the various Customs ports in the United States about the registered trademarks and copyrights and the infringing imports coming into the US.  Such a campaign can help educate the Customs officers as to what they should be looking out for when it comes to identifying which imports infringe the trademarks and copyrights in question.  The US recording industry many years ago had a very successful campaign at US Customs to stop infringing imports.

For those companies with problems from Chinese infringing imports, another alternative is to go to Chinese Customs to stop the export of infringing products from China.  The owner of Beanie Babies did this very successfully having Chinese Customs stop the export of the infringing Beanie Babies out of China.

One of the most powerful remedies is a Section 337 case, which can block infringing products, regardless of their origin, from entering the U.S.  A Section 337 action (the name comes from the implementing statute, 19 U.S.C. 1337) is available against imported goods that infringe a copyright, trademark, patent, or trade secret. But because other actions are usually readily available to owners of registered trademarks and copyrights, Section 337 actions are particularly effective for owners of patents, unregistered trademarks, and trade secrets. Although generally limited to IP rights, in the ongoing Section 337 steel case, US Steel has been attempting to expand the definition of unfair acts to include hacking into computer systems and antitrust violations.

The starting point is a section 337 investigation at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  If the ITC finds certain imports infringe a specific intellectual property right, it can issue an exclusion order and U.S. Customs will then keep out all the infringing imports at the border.

Section 337 cases have been brought and exclusion orders issued against a vast range of different products: from toys (Rubik’s Cube Puzzles, Cabbage Patch Dolls) to footwear (Converse sneakers) to large machinery (paper-making machines) to consumer products (caskets, auto parts, electronic cigarettes and hair irons) to high tech products (computers, cell phones, and semiconductor chips).

Section 337 is a hybrid IP and trade statute, which requires a showing of injury to a US industry. The injury requirement is very low and can nearly always be met–a few lost sales will suffice to show injury. The US industry requirement can be a sticking point. The US industry is usually the one company that holds the intellectual property right in question. If the IP right is a registered trademark, copyright or patent, the US industry requirement has been expanded to not only include significant US investment in plant and equipment, labor or capital to substantial investment in the exploitation of the IP right, including engineering, research and development or licensing.  Recently, however, the ITC has raised the US industry requirement to make it harder for patent “trolls” or Non Practicing Entities to bring 337 cases.

Section 337 cases, however, are directed at truly unfair acts.  Patents and Copyrights are protected by the US Constitution so in contrast to antidumping and countervailing duty cases, respondents in these cases get more due process protection.  The Administrative Procedures Act is applied to Section 337 cases with a full trial before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), extended full discovery, a long trial type hearing, but on a very expedited time frame.

Section 337 actions, in fact, are the bullet train of IP litigation, fast, intense litigation in front of an ALJ.  The typical section 337 case takes only 12-15 months. Once a 337 petition is filed, the ITC has 30 days to determine whether or not to institute the case. After institution, the ITC will serve the complaint and notice of investigation on the respondents. Foreign respondents have 30 days to respond to the complaint; US respondents have only 20 days. If the importers or foreign respondents do not respond to the complaint, the ITC can find the companies in default and issue an exclusion order.

The ITC’s jurisdiction in 337 cases is “in rem,” which means it is over the product being imported into the US. This makes sense: the ITC has no power over the foreign companies themselves, but it does have power over the imports. What this means in everyday terms is that unlike most regular litigation, a Section 337 case can be effectively won against a Chinese company that 1) is impossible to serve, 2) fails to show up at the hearing, and 3) is impossible to collect any money from.

The remedy in section 337 cases is an exclusion order excluding the respondent’s infringing products from entering the United States. In special situations, however, where it is very easy to manufacture a product, the ITC can issue a general exclusion order against the World.  In the Rubik’s Cube puzzle case, which was my case at the ITC, Ideal (the claimant) named over 400 Taiwan companies as respondents infringing its common law trademark. The ITC issued a General Exclusion Order in 1983 and it is still in force today, blocking Rubik’s Cube not made by Ideal from entering the United States. In addition to exclusion orders, the ITC can issue cease and desist orders prohibiting US importers from selling products in inventory that infringe the IP rights in question

Section 337 cases can also be privately settled, but the settlement agreement is subject to ITC review. We frequently work with our respondent clients to settle 337 cases early to minimize their legal fees. In the early 1990s, RCA filed a section 337 case against TVs from China. The Chinese companies all quickly settled the case by signing a license agreement with RCA.

Respondents caught in section 337 cases often can modify their designs to avoid the IP right in question. John Deere brought a famous 337 case aimed at Chinese companies that painted their tractors green and yellow infringing John Deere’s trademark. Most of the Chinese respondents settled the case and painted their tractors different colors, such as blue and red.

Bottom Line: Section 337 cases are intense litigation before the ITC, and should be considered by U.S. companies as a tool for fighting against infringing products entering the United States. On the flip side, US importers and foreign respondents named in these cases should take them very seriously and respond quickly because exclusion orders can stay in place for years.

 

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

IMPORTERS OF RECORD AND FALSE CLAIMS ACT HAMMER AGAINST TRANSSHIPMENT

House of Representatives US Capitol North Side Night Stars WashTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR AUGUST 3, 2016 

Dear Friends,

Set forth below are two more articles on importer of record liability for antidumping and countervailing duties and the False Claims Act hammer against illegal transshipment around US antidumping and countervailing duties.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

IMPORTERS OF RECORD LIABILITY FOR ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTIES

The US Importer of Record is liable for antidumping and countervailing duties. The Importer of Record is the company listed in Block 26 of the U.S. Customs 7501 form. When I told a former US Senator this, he responded by saying he “thought the Chinese company was liable for the duties, not the US company.”

Under US Antidumping, Countervailing Duty and Customs laws, the Importer of Record must exercise reasonable care in importing products and in filling out Customs forms. The Importer of Record must correctly state the products’ country of origin and also whether Antidumping and Countervailing duties apply to the imported products. A knowingly false statement on a Customs form constitutes criminal fraud.

If AD or CVD rates go up in a subsequent review investigation, the Importer of Record is retroactively liable for the difference, plus interest. Retroactive liability for AD and CVD cases is a particular problem involving goods imported from China, because the Commerce Department treats China as a nonmarket economy (“NME”) country. Dumping is generally defined as selling products in the United States below their normal value, which generally means selling products in the United States below their prices in the home market or below the fully allocated cost of production.

Since China is a NME, Commerce refuses to use actual China prices and costs to determine whether a company is dumping. It instead uses complicated consumption factors for raw materials and other inputs and multiplies the factors by surrogate values from five to ten constantly changing countries to calculate a cost of production for the Chinese company. All this makes it impossible for the Chinese manufacturer/exporter to know whether it is dumping, never mind the US importer.

In the Mushrooms from China antidumping case, from the time the antidumping order was  issued in 1999 through numerous subsequent yearly review investigations, many antidumping rates were in the single digits because Commerce used India as the surrogate country. But when in 2012 Commerce switched from India to Columbia as the surrogate country, the Antidumping rates went from less than 10% to more than 200% because of surrogate values for straw and cow manure in Columbian import statistics. The Importers of Record then became liable for the difference in the duty rates, plus interest.

How can you as an importer of products from China (or from anywhere else for that matter) avoid getting hit with a massive antidumping or countervailing duty fee? Do not become the Importer of Record. The dollars saved by this can be staggering.

In the Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China initial investigation, for example, I represented a company importing from a Chinese furniture company.  Based on my advice, the importer pushed the Chinese furniture producer to become the importer of record for its own sales to the company.

In the initial investigation, the Chinese furniture company received an AD rate of 16%.  In the first review investigation, however, Commerce determined that the questionnaire data did not verify and issued the Chinese furniture company an AD rate of 216%.

The US company estimated that the Chinese producer exported $100 million, which created $200 million in retroactive liability for US importers.  The Chinese company then decided not to do the second review investigation creating another $200 million in retroactive liability for a total of $400 million in retroactive liability created by just one Chinese company.

My client, however, escaped liability because it was not the importer of record on the sales from that Chinese company, but many US import companies were not so lucky and went bankrupt.

If your company is the Importer of Record and its antidumping or countervailng duty rates go up, you need to realize that U.S. antidumping and countervailing duty laws are remedial, not penal statutes. This means requesting review investigations at the Commerce Department, appealing adverse rulings to the Courts and working with Customs can often substantially reduce your duties or even eliminate them entirely. Chinese exporters also can (and often do) use the Commerce review process to reduce their antidumping and countervailing duty rates so that they can export to the US again.

BEWARE THE FALSE CLAIMS ACT HAMMER WHEN IMPORTING PRODUCTS FROM CHINA

Chinese companies and the U.S. importers of their products often tell me that they are not concerned about U.S. Antidumping (“AD”) and Countervailing Duty (“CVD”) orders because they can “just get around those orders by transshipping the products to Malaysia, Vietnam, Philippines, Sri Lanka, India, or some country before sending them on to the United States.” Their plan is to relabel the products with a new country of origin and then export the products to the US free of AD and CVD duties, without US Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) ever being the wiser.

Wrong.

Not only has CBP become expert at discovering such evasions, but the penalties — both civil and criminal — when caught have become very harsh. Importers that knowingly falsely label the country of origin on their imports are subject to significant fines and penalties under 19 USC 1592 and to criminal prosecution under 18 USC 542 (import by using false statement) and 18 USC 545 (smuggling). Lying about a product’s country of origin can subject you, the importer, to 20 years in Federal prison.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (“ICE”) has conducted criminal investigations against a number of products under AD and CVD orders, including honey, saccharin, citric acid, lined paper products, pasta, polyethylene bags, shrimp, catfish, crawfish, garlic, steel, magnesium, pencils, wooden bedroom furniture, wire clothing hangers, ball bearings and nails. Many of these investigations have led to criminal convictions and large fines and penalties.

US importers have also been prosecuted and sentenced to prison for bringing in Chinese products, such as honey, garlic, wooden bedroom furniture and wire clothing hangers, by means of false Country of Origin statements so as to evade US AD and CVD orders.

Many Chinese companies do not realize that U.S. Customs laws can be used to go after not only US importers that have filed the false documents at Customs, but through a conspiracy charge against Chinese (and other foreign exporters) involved in setting up the transshipment. In one case, a Chinese seafood executive was arrested at a seafood show in Belgium based on a US extradition warrant for evasion of a US AD order and ending up spending six months in a Belgian prison before he was released.

US Customs, ICE and the Justice Department can be very tough investigators and prosecutors.

The real hammer against evasion of US AD and CVD orders, however, is the False Claims Act (“FCA”).  The FCA ( 31 U.S.C. § 3729) allows people or companies, designated a “Relator”, to file what are termed “qui tam” lawsuits against individuals or companies that directly or indirectly defrauded the Federal government.  Through qui tam lawsuits, the informants or “whistleblowers” may recover triple damages on the government’s behalf.  Anyone who knows of the fraud, including a competitor company, may file a qui tam lawsuit, and they do.

Relators can be competing companies in the United States, China or elsewhere or even individual employees working at those companies.  Relators file these qui tam actions to attack competitors and to get 15 to 30 percent of whatever the triple damages the U.S. Government recovers as a result of the lawsuit.

The most likely to file these lawsuits are your foreign competitors, Chinese competitor, U.S. competitors, U.S. importers, your employee at your Chinese exporting company, your employee at your U.S. importing company.  But sometimes they are brought by someone who simply learned of what you are doing.  Because the person or company that brings such an action can be awarded millions and even tens of millions of dollars, the incentive to file is huge. If you want to get a better idea of just how lucrative these lawsuits can be, do a Google search for lawyers looking to take on qui tam lawsuits. There are hundreds, if not thousands of lawyers, willing and eager to take such suits.  Reportedly the most lucrative Google keyword search is “qui tam”.

The qui tam relator’s lawsuit is filed confidentially and is not served on the defendants, but on the US Government.  The US Government then determines whether to intervene and pursue the action or settle the matter with the defendant. If the U.S. Government intervenes, it takes on primary responsibility for the case. If the U.S. Government decides not to intervene, the relator may dismiss the lawsuit or pursue the lawsuit on its own.

Under the False Claims Act, relators and the government can look backward as much as ten years after the date on which the violation was committed. When looking at imports over 10 years subject to antidumping orders with very high rates of over 50 to over 300%, the amounts being evaded are usually enormous. In one False Claims Act we handled, the antidumping duties evaded were over $80 million. When those duties were tripled, and additional penalty sums were added for false statements and attorneys’ fees, the complaint against numerous importers exceeded $300 million. Our original complaint has resulted in an ongoing penalty action for $80 million against one U.S. importer, with the relator entitled potentially to $12 to $24 million of this sum.

Both the U.S. Government and private companies and individuals have huge incentives to bring more False Claims Act cases against those who transship and seek to evade U.S. antidumping and countervailing duties.

If you are exporting to the United States or importing into the United States, you need to be wary of the hammer against transshipment—the False Claims Act.

US China Trade War–Trump, Weak Strong Free Trade Arguments, Steel, 337

US Treasury Department Albert Gallatin Statue Washington DCTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR JULY 14, 2016 

Dear Friends,

This blog post is the third and fourth article of a several part series on how weak free trade arguments have led to the sharp rise of protectionism of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the probable demise of the TPP and the strong arguments against protectionism.

The first article outlined the problem and why this is such a sharp attack on the Trans Pacific Partnership and some of the visceral arguments against free trade.  The second article explored in depth the protectionist arguments and the reason for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

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

In addition, set forth are articles on developments involving steel trade litigation, including the suspension of Section 337 Steel Trade Case, antidumping and countervailing duty reviews against Chinese companies, and a new 337 case against Chinese companies.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

WEAK FREE TRADE ARGUMENTS AND STRONG FREE TRADE ARGUMENTS

There are two reasons for the sharp rise in protectionism—Weak Free Trade Arguments and the Commerce Department’s methodology in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

By its own regulation the Commerce Department finds dumping and subsidization in almost every single case, especially against China.  But the problem with the Commerce Department’s methodology, which is not based on reality, it fuels the myth advocated by the Steel industry, the Union and Donald Trump himself that all imports are dumped and all imports are subsidized and the general feeling of global trade victimhood.  We US companies and workers simply cannot compete because all imports are dumped and subsidized so the answer is put up the protectionist walls.

That is simply not true.  The next article will talk about the intricacies of the Commerce Department and why the Commerce Department’s methodology results in its finding dumping and subsidization in more than 95% of the cases and how that has had such a bad impact on the perceptions of the average American.

But before addressing that issue, this post will describe the Weak Free Trade Arguments Against Protectionism and the Strong Arguments against Protectionism.

WEAK FREE TRADE ARGUMENTS

But what are the free trade arguments that can counter the tidal wave of protectionism from Trump and Sanders supporters and the real collateral damage caused by trade agreements, including the 2.4 million jobs connected to granting China most favored nation status.  As the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) reported in its May report on the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), if the Trade Agreement is enacted, although agricultural and service companies will benefit, manufacturing will see a net decrease in jobs “by $10.8 billion (0.1 percent) lower with the TPP Agreement” than without the Agreement.

On March 15, 2016 Morton Kondrake and Matthew Slaughter in a Wall Street Journal article made the theoretical economic case for free trade entitled, Making the Case for Trade Reagan’s ‘Protectionism is Destructionism’ Message was True” and spoke about the benefits of trade but then went on to state that the solution is simply “creative destructionism” and more job training and assistance to communities hurt by trade:

Divided though the four leading presidential candidates are on so many topics, united they stand on one: the assertion that trade hurts America.

All four oppose the U.S. ratifying the Trans-Pacific Partnership. All four demonize trade the same way. Donald Trump blasts that “foreigners are killing us on trade,” while Bernie Sanders inveighs against “disastrous trade agreements written by corporate America.” . . .

Where is the leader with the courage to tell the truth? To say that trade made this nation great, and that trade barriers will destroy far more jobs than they can ever “save.” To explain how trade translates into prosperity and new jobs, and how the disruptions inevitable in a trading economy can be managed for the benefit of those who need help. . . .

First, trade has generated substantial gains—not losses—for America overall.  .  . . The overall gains are large. Trade and related activities—spurred by accords such as the North American Free Trade Agreement, or Nafta, have boosted annual U.S. income today by about 10 percentage points of GDP relative to what it would have been otherwise. This translates into an aggregate gain of about $1.8 trillion in 2015—thousands of dollars per U.S. household every year.

Future trade agreements will bring more gains. A 2016 analysis by Peter A. Petri and Michael G. Plummer estimates that the TPP—which will eliminate more than 18,000 tariffs that other countries today impose on U.S. exports—will boost U.S. national income by about $130 billion annually. Part of this gain will be due to the higher average wages Americans earn as a result of more trade.

The second important pro-trade narrative is that creative destruction—the movement of people and capital from weaker businesses to stronger ones and new opportunities—is how many of the gains from trade arise. And because trade is only one of the forces driving this continual churn, the scale of creative destruction is vast. In December, for example, America’s creation of almost 300,000 payroll jobs was the net outcome of 5.4 million new jobs created and 5.1 million old jobs destroyed. Technology innovation and other drivers of long-run economic prosperity also entail more gains to “winners” than costs to “losers.”

This points to the third key theme: The way to support those affected by trade is not with tariffs that will destroy the jobs of other Americans that depend on trade. The solution is to drop trade barriers to maximize trade’s gains—and then design well-targeted supports for workers and communities that need help.  . . .

We need to build a broader, more-responsive safety net to assist workers in transition regardless of the reason. For instance, unemployment insurance and trade-adjustment assistance should become part of an integrated program that offers a menu of options to all displaced workers. . . .

But the problem with the Kondrake/ Slaughter article is that the person who created the term “creative destructionism” would not agree with their central thesis that creative destructionism is such a great benefit that everyone should embrace capitalism and free trade.  Joseph Schumpeter, the famous Harvard Economist,  in his book “Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy” first coined the term “creative destructionism”.  The central thesis of his book, however, was that Schumpeter did not believe that Capitalism could long survive and that is why he was an Austrian socialist.  He did not believe that Capitalism would long survive because of the collateral damage it creates and the gap between the rich and the poor.  Although Capitalism causes all boats to rise, there will always be a gap between the rich and the poor and people will focus on the gap rather than the fact that all boats are rising.

It is very difficult to throw theoretical economic arguments to counter the real loss of jobs in US manufacturing industries.  Will this rosy article of Free Trade truly offset the arguments made by the international trade losers of thousands of closed factories and millions of lost manufacturing jobs?  Don’t think so.  Simple theoretical arguments do not wash in the face of blown up factories and millions of lost jobs.

One economist who agrees with this point is Daniel Altman, an economist, who published in article entitled “Economics Has Failed America” on May 19, 2016 pointing out some real problems with the economic arguments in favor of free trade:

As a recovering economist writing on behalf of my erstwhile field, I would like to apologize to every American who has lost a job or a livelihood because of globalization. Economics has failed you. It has failed you because of ideology, politics, and laziness. It has failed you because its teachings are woefully incomplete, and its greatest exponents have done almost nothing to complete them.

There are “positive” questions in economics that have mathematical answers — things that simply must be true — and then there are “normative” questions that amount to value judgments on points of policy. In economics classes, we teach the former and usually stop short when faced with the latter. This leaves a hole in any discussion of economic policy; students acquire first principles but rarely consider real-world applications, because to do so would presuppose a social or political point of view.

In the case of free trade and globalization, this omission has been disastrous.  . . .

Yet the redistribution required to generate this broad improvement in living standards is hardly addressed, or sometimes even mentioned. To do so would be to step into the muddy mire of normative questions.

Should the government take from some people in order to give to others? Who should give the most, and who should receive? What exactly should they receive? . . .

Tyler Cowen and Alex Tabarrok of George Mason University offer this breezy guidance: “Job destruction is ultimately a healthy part of any growing economy, but that doesn’t mean we have to ignore the costs of transitioning from one job to another. Unemployment insurance, savings, and a strong education system can help workers respond to shocks.” It may be worth noting that Cowen is a frequent critic of unemployment insurance on his blog. . .  .

Finally, R. Glenn Hubbard . . . and Anthony Patrick O’Brien of Lehigh University are the only ones who mention the program designed to accomplish redistribution: “It may be difficult, though, for workers who lose their jobs because of trade to easily find others. That is why in the United States the federal government uses the Trade Adjustment Assistance program to provide funds for workers who have lost their jobs due to international trade. These funds can be used for retraining, for searching for new jobs, or for relocating to areas where new jobs are available. This program — and similar programs in other countries — recognizes that there are losers from international trade as well as winners.”

The Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program has a budget of about $664 million, or roughly 0.004 percent of gross domestic product.

This means one dollar of every $25,000 in income generated by the United States goes to help people here who have been hurt by globalization. They don’t receive the cash directly; they just have to hope that the program — which offers retooling, retraining, and relocation, among other services — will aid their transition to new jobs.

There aren’t many beneficiaries, either.  . . .

The problem with Mr. Altman’s article is that he does not realize that there are two TAA programs and the one that works is the TAA for Companies program.  The funding for that program has been cut to $12.5 million a year.  He also does not realize that the best arguments against protectionism are not economic, they are historical.

Congressman Jim McDermott may have put it the best in a recent article, “Workers do not want a handout, they want jobs”:

Trump, Sanders voters don’t want handouts — they want jobs

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

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

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

Neither can be bought.

STRONG HISTORICAL ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR OF FREE TRADE

The strong arguments for Free Trade, however, are not economic.  The best arguments are historical: Japan, China, and the Smoot Hawley Tariff.  Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

An even more important argument, however, is that protectionism does not work.  It does not save the companies and the President who understood that point was Ronald Reagan.

But first the historical arguments.

Japan

The recent experience of Japan can show what happens when a country listens to the Siren Calls of protectionism.

In the 1980s, when I joined the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), the number one target country on the trade hit parade was not China.  It was Japan.  It was exporting numerous products to the United States that caused injury to various US industries.  In fact, I had lived in Japan and studied Japanese and thought after my career in Federal Government at the ITC and Commerce Department I would work on trade cases, including antidumping cases, against Japanese companies.

That did not happen.  Why?  In the early 1990s, after Ezra Vogel published his book “Japan as Number One”, the entire Japanese economy imploded.  Japanese exports dropped like a rock, and Japan entered what is called the lost decade, which now has become lost decades.

In my opinion, Japan’s lost decades have been caused by its trade policy.  Japan did exactly what Donald Trump is advocating, it put Japan first through its mercantilistic trade policy.  While living in Japan and later at the Commerce Department, I discovered numerous non- tariff trade barriers that Japan had put into place to protect its domestic industries.

American skis could not be sold in Japan because as one Japanese government official stated snow is different in Japan than the United States.  American beef could not be sold in Japan because as another Japanese government official stated Japanese intestines were shorter than American intestines.

In fact, in the trade area, there was antidumping case after antidumping case against Japanese companies.  The problem was prices in Japan were multiple times higher than the same product sold by the same company to the US.  In some cases, based on actual price comparisons and actual calculated antidumping rates, Japanese antidumping rates were over 400% because the Japanese company priced the same product in Japan four times higher than the same product sold in the United States.

In effect, the Japanese government’s anti-trade protectionist policy created a very high price market in Japan.  Japanese companies sold at very high prices in the Japanese market, ramped up production to drive down per unit costs and then used high prices in the Japanese market to fuel exported products at very low prices to the US market.  Classic dumping.

The Japanese government also made it very difficult for foreign companies, including US companies, to set up true joint ventures in Japan.  Keep the foreigner out was the motto of Japan.

But what was the ultimate effect of this high priced protectionist trade policy, massive bubbles in the land and stock markets.  At one point the land in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo was worth more than the land in the entire state of Illinois.  Those high land prices were used to fuel a very high stock market in Japan.  The Japanese stock market bubble burst and then land prices fell.  Japan entered a massive recession/depression and it lost decade(s) of economic growth.

Also when doing antidumping cases in other countries and the issue of using third country prices, I noticed that Petitioners always pushed Commerce to Japan because Japanese protected market prices were always higher than US prices.  Japanese raw material prices were higher too.  Because of trade cases in the US and other countries, Japanese production plants left Japan creating hollowed out industries as the companies sought to get around trade rules and also access to lower raw material costs.  After the US FTA with Korea, the best-selling car in Korea is the Toyota produced in the United States.

China

The other historical lesson is China.  In 1949 when Mao Tse Tung won the Chinese revolution, he also wanted to make China great again.  Mao decided that he would make China great by putting up on the protectionist walls and the Chinese themselves would make themselves self -sufficient by producing everything they needed.

In the Great Leap Forward in the early 1950s, Mao declared that the Chinese people would create backyard steel industries and Chinese peasants melted down cooking pots into raw steel to show that they could produce steel.  The Great Leap Forward led to one of greatest famines in World history and millions died.

When Deng Xiaoping came into power he immediately opened up the country.  Because of the Mao protectionist policies, China had fallen behind the World in technology.  Deng Xiaoping looked for ways to bring technology to China and develop their own.

Premier Zhu Rongyi, China’s great economic reformer, refused to follow the Japanese model and invited Western companies to set up joint ventures in China.

Thus, during the Obama Administration, when GM was having problems with its US manufacturing operations and facing bankruptcy, the one part of the company it was especially trying to save was its China operations.  The Buick had become the bestselling car in China.

As one Chinese individual remarked to me, why when China and many other countries have rejected the Socialist model is the United States moving towards the Socialist model and putting up protectionist walls.

Smoot Hawley

On April 25, 2016, former Congressman Don Bonker in an article entitled “Presidential Election Politics and Perils of Protectionism” warned that the anti- trade rhetoric in the Presidential election could lead to the return of the Smoot Hawley tariffs, stating:

This year’s presidential election is not lacking in absurdity, another example being a Republican billionaire and a socialist Democrat in sync on what has become a contentious issue, attacking trade agreements by declaring they are “disastrous” or being negotiated by “stupid people”.  . . .

What they have tapped into is the viral protectionism spreading across the country, embedded in Midwestern states that suffered job losses as American companies shifted their manufacturing operations to low-wage countries like Mexico and China.

Both Trump and Sanders are clueless or blatantly dismissive of the consequences of such actions, but their insane rhetoric could lead to a trade war, even a collapse of the world trading system, should either ever make it to the White House. . . .

In this raucous presidential campaign, both sides slamming America’s trade policy could put our country on the perilous path of protectionism, thus undermining America’s presumed role as the leader in today’s global economy. Someone should remind both Trump, if ever he listens, and Sanders, ever the demagogue, that we’ve been down that path before, and it proved devastating.

In the 1928 presidential election, the Republican candidate Herbert Hoover campaigned on the populist anti-trade issue, pledging to restrict foreign imports if elected, a message that resonated with the commodity producers and manufacturers who felt betrayed in an emerging global economy, which set the stage for a Republican Congress poised to run amok on limiting imports.

Indeed, shortly after the elections, newly formed trade associations mobilized an unbridled frenzy of logrolling, jockeying for maximum protection for commodity and industry producers leading to enactment of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that hiked import fees, some up to 100 percent, on over 20,000 foreign products. . . .

Indeed, within a few months, America’s leading trade partners – Canada, France, Mexico, Italy, 26 countries in all – retaliated, causing world trade to plummet by more than half of the pre-1929 totals, one of several factors that precipitated the Great Depression. . .  ..

The Smoot Hawley tariff turned the Depression into the Great Depression.

PROTECTIONISM DOES NOT WORK—COMPANIES ARE NOT SAVED

The most important lesson, however, is that protectionism does not work.  The US Steel industry is a case study of this point.  After receiving 40 years of protectionism from steel imports, where are Bethlehem Steel, Jones and Loughlin and Lone Star Steel today—Green Fields.

Despite the antidumping order against Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China, that did not save the US furniture industry as many US factories and Chinese factories moved to Vietnam.  In fact, the Furniture case illustrates another point—the Whack a Mole problem in antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) Trade cases.

Recently, the US Washing Machine industry dominated by Whirlpool screamed because after bringing AD and CVD cases against Samsung, Daewoo and LG in Korea, the companies moved to China so Whirlpool filed another case against China.  After AD and CVD orders are issued, multinationals and many other companies can move their production facilities to new countries which are not covered by US AD and CVD orders.  AD and CVD cases are meant to be rifle shots to stop unfair trade practices from a specific country, but US companies cannot bring AD and CVD cases against the World, although the US Steel Industry has tried.

In January 2008, Superior Graphite and SGL Carbon LLC filed an antidumping case against graphite electrodes from China, which lead to an antidumping order against China.  On July 13, 2016, after 8 years of protection, Superior announced the closing of its Russellville, Arkansas plant.  One reason was intense domestic competition and another reason imports from India.

The President that understood that protectionism does not work was Ronald Reagan.  Contrary to the implication in Donald Trump’s June 28, 2016 speech, entitled “Declaring American Economic Independence”, Reagan was not a protectionist.  He was very much a free trader, who specifically stated that protectionism does not work.

In his attached June 28, 2016speech, DJT_DeclaringAmericanEconomicIndependence, Donald Trump stated in part:

President Reagan deployed similar trade measures when motorcycle and semiconductor imports threatened U.S. industry. His tariff on Japanese motorcycles was 45% and his tariff to shield America’s semiconductor industry was 100%.

On June 28, 1986, 40 years to the day before, however, Ronald Reagan gave the attached speech BETTER COPY REAGAN IT SPEECH, about international trade and against protectionism, stating in part:

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

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

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

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.  . . .

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.  . . .

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.

The first part of Reagan’s speech almost sounds like a point by point rebuttal of Donald Trump’s June 2016 speech.  The last part of the speech specifically points out the perils of protectionism.  Ronald Reagan lived through the Great Depression and learned from history.  He did not want to repeat the Smoot Hawley Tariff Act mistake again.

Donald Trump points at two cases during the Reagan administration—Motorcycles and Semiconductor Chips.  The interesting point is that I was at the ITC and Commerce Department in the Reagan Revolution in the 1980s when the Motorcycles and Semiconductor Chips cases took place and have personal knowledge about what happened.  Those cases and the reason for them are very different from the trade actions that Donald Trump is talking about.

In the Motorcycles 201 case, in the early 1980s Harley Davidson sought temporary relief under the Escape Clause to help it adjust to import competition, especially from Japan.  It won the case and received a three-year tariff rate quota on imports of certain subassemblies from Japan.  The noteworthy point is that after two years in the mid- 1980s, Harley told the US government to lift the quota/tariff because it no longer needed the protection from imports.  The 201 case gave Harley the short term protection it needed to adjust to import competition.

Contrast that temporary relief with antidumping and countervailing duty orders against steel, chemicals and metals, some of which have been in place for 20 to 30 years.

In the 1980s Semiconductors cases, the Commerce Department was very tough in those case and even initiated its own 256K DRAM case.  The Semiconductor cases resulted in a Semiconductors agreement with Japan.  But while at the Commerce Department in the 1980s, the Secretary of Commerce was Malcolm Baldrige, a brilliant secretary.  Baldridge believe that his job was to protect the crown jewels of American manufacturing—the High Tech industry.

What Donald Trump is proposing is protecting the low tech manufacturing industries, such as the Steel industry.  Ronald Reagan did not fall into that trap.

If Donald Trump goes forward with his plans to use protectionist tariffs to protect the low tech industry, we can expect countries, such as China, Korea, Canada, Mexico and other countries, to retaliate against the US high tech industry. In February 2015, China fined Qualcomm, a US company, $1 billion for violations of the Chinese antimonopoly law.  That is $1 billion of the $10 billion Qualcomm had earned during 2014 selling computer chips to China.

In fact, the employment in the entire US steel industry is less than one high tech company.  So Trump’s idea is to protect the Steel Industry, but the sacrifice is the US High Tech industry with 100s of thousands of high paying jobs.

One of the problems in international trade is what the Chinese call the Frog in the Well syndrome.  The Frog lives inside the Well and thinks that is the World.  As House Speaker Paul Ryan has said many times, the vast majority of consumers live outside of the United States.  When I lived in Beijing during 2005-2007, the US Commercial Attaché gave a speech and mentioned that 75% of all Chinese have a color television set. That is now probably close to 95% of 1.6 billion people, a larger market than the US market.

But all this does not mean that nothing can be done to save US manufacturing companies that have been battered by imports.  As explained in past and subsequent articles, something can be done and it does not have any protectionist effect—The Trade Assistance for Firms/Companies program.  Although it receives only $12.5 million annually in support, the program saves US companies and the jobs that go with them but without putting any protectionist barriers in place.

STEEL TRADE CASES

ITC SUSPENDS STEEL 337 CASE

On May 26, 2016, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) initiated the section 337 case against Chinese steel import on the basis of three primary counts:

(1) a conspiracy to fix prices and control output and export volumes, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1; (2) the misappropriation and use of U.S. Steel’s trade secrets; and (3) the false designation of origin or manufacturer, in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a).

On July 8, 2016, the ITC, in the attached order, ITC STEEL ORDER, temporarily suspended the Section 337 against steel imports brought by US on the grounds that the issues it raises fall within the Commerce Department’s jurisdiction in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.

The Commission’s order specifically states, in part:

U.S. Steel’s antitrust claims explicitly rely upon determinations by the Commission and the Commerce Department that the Chinese government subsidizes the Chinese steel industry, and that Chinese steel manufacturers sell their products at less than fair value. . . .

U.S. Steel’s false designation of origin claims are based explicitly upon Respondents’ alleged evasion of antidumping and countervailing duty orders issued by the Commerce Department. . . .

As discussed above, the Complaint identifies several ongoing Commerce Department investigations .  . . and the Commerce Department recently issued final determinations in these investigations finding countervailing duties and sales at less than fair value.

The record thus shows that the present matter comes at least “in part” within the purview of the antidumping and countervailing duty laws, and Section 337(b)(3) therefore requires that the Commission notify the Secretary of Commerce. . . .

The ITC’s suspension stays all discovery and motions in its investigation of U.S. Steel’s claims of an alleged price-fixing conspiracy involving misappropriation of trade secrets and false manufacturing designations in the importation of carbon and alloy steel products.

The suspension followed seven responses from a number of Chinese steel companies to U.S. Steel’s complaint arguing that the claims were based explicitly upon respondents’ alleged evasion of AD and CVD orders and identified several ongoing Commerce Department investigations into steel products.

STAINLESS STEEL SHEET AND STRIP FROM CHINA

On July 12, 2016, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-prc-stainless-steel-sheet-strip-cvd-prelim-071216, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the countervailing duty (“CVD”) investigation of imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China.  Since many Chinese companies refused to cooperate because of China’s nonmarket economy status, Chinese companies received CVD rates ranging from 57.3% to 193.12%

JULY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On July 5, 2016, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, OPPORTUNITY JULY 2016, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of July. The specific antidumping cases against China are:   Carbon Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings, Certain Potassium Phosphate Salts, Certain Steel Grating, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, Persulfates, and Xanthan Gum

The specific countervailing duty cases are: Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, Potassium Phosphate Salts, Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand, and Steel Grating.

For those US import companies that imported : Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings, Potassium Phosphate Salts, Steel Grating, Circular Welded Carbon Steel Pipe, Persulfates, Steel Wire Strand and Xanthan Gum during the antidumping period July 1, 2015-June 30, 2016 or the countervailing duty period of review, calendar year 2015, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

While in China recently, I found so many examples of Chinese solar companies or US importers, which did not file requests for a review investigation.  In one instance, although the Chinese companies obtained separate rates during the initial investigation, the Petitioner appealed to the Court.  Several Chinese companies and US importers did not know the case was appealed, and the importers now owe millions in antidumping duties because they failed to file a request for a review investigation in December 2015.

NEW SECTION 337 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CASE FILED AT ITC AGAINST CHINA

On July 11, 2016, Cambria Company LLC filed section 337 case at the ITC against Quartz Slabs and Portions.  The proposed respondents, including a Chinese company, are: Stylen Quaza LLC DBA Vicostone USA, Dallas, Texas; Vicostone Joint Stock Company, Vietnam; Building Plastics Inc., Memphis, Tennessee; Fasa Industrial Corporation, Ltd, China; Foshan FASA Building Material Co., Ltd., China; Solidtops LLC, Oxford, Maryland; Dorado Soapstone LLC, Denver, Colorado; and Pental Granite and Marble Inc., Seattle, Washington.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

IMPORT SENSITIVE PRODUCTS AND NEW 337 CASES

Commerce Department After the Snow Pennsylvania Avenue WashingtoIMPORT SENSITIVE PRODUCTS

Over the last several years, because of my international trade expertise, many US importers have called me because they wake up one morning and find they are liable for antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duties (“CVD”) on a number of different products.  These duties can be in the millions of dollars, when the importers simply did not know that the imported products were covered by US AD and CVD orders.  One unfortunate fact is that US importers, companies that import products into the United States, are liable for AD and CVD on imports and they can be retroactively liable.

This post highlights the breadth of products currently subject to antidumping and countervailing duty orders and it thus should serve as a warning to anyone in the United States who imports products from China.

If you were an importer of a solar recharger for an RV unit, for example, would you know that the product is covered by the US AD order on solar cells from China?  If you were importing curtain walls/the sides of buildings, auto parts, geodesic domes, and lighting equipment, would you know that the products were covered by US AD and CVD orders against aluminum extrusions?

In fact, the US presently has more than 130 AD and CVD orders against China and 100s of AD and CVD orders against imports from other countries.  The Chinese AD and CVD orders block more than $30 billion in imports, and those AD and CVD orders can stay in place for 5 to 30 years.  The orders can also expand to cover downstream products, such as curtain walls, certain solar cell consumer products, and gardening equipment.

With regards to China, more than 80 of the AD and CVD orders are against raw materials, chemicals, metals and various steel products, used in downstream US production.  In the Steel area, there are AD and CVD orders against the following Chinese steel products:

carbon steel plate, hot rolled carbon steel flat products, circular welded and seamless carbon quality steel pipe, rectangular pipe and tube, circular welded austenitic stainless pressure pipe, steel threaded rod, oil country tubular goods, steel wire strand and wire, high pressure steel cylinders, non-oriented electrical steel, and carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod.

There are ongoing investigations against cold-rolled steel and corrosion resistant/galvanized steel so almost all Chinese steel products from China are blocked by US AD and CVD orders.

In addition to steel, other metal products, such as silicomanganese, metallurgical coke, magnesium, silicon metal, and graphite electrodes, which are used in downstream steel production, are also blocked by AD orders.  Electrolytic Manganese Dioxide used to produce batteries is also covered, which led Panasonic to close its US battery factory and move to China.  The Magnesium AD orders have led to the destruction of the US Magnesium Dye Casting industry and the movement of light weight auto parts production to Canada.

In addition to steel and metal products, chemical products, such as sulfanilic acid, polyvinyl alcohol, barium carbonate, potassium permanganate, activated carbon, glycine, isocyanurates/swimming pool chemicals, xanthan gum, citric acid, and calcium hypochlorite, are covered by orders.  The AD order on sulfanilic acid led to the injury of the US optical brightening industry, which brought its own antidumping case against China.

In addition to raw materials, however, many household products are covered by AD and CVD orders, including ironing tables, steel sinks, wood flooring, wooden bedroom furniture, steel shelving, and steel cooking ware.  Other consumer products covered are: tires, hand trucks, lawn groomers, steel nails, paper clips, pencils, ribbons, candles, paper products, gift wrap and heavy forged hand tools.

In addition to household products, food products, such as shrimp, honey, crawfish and garlic, are covered by AD orders against China and other countries.

At this point in time, any product being imported from China is at least somewhat import sensitive and could well be attacked by US trade actions.  This means that an importer should monitor the products it imports for any potential trade sanctions. And if you the importer are hit with sanctions, know that in contrast to other legal statutes, the AD and CVD law are remedial statutes so you can request an antidumping or countervailing duty review investigation to get the rates reduced and with that your own liability for past imports.

NEW SECTION 337 INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CASES FILED AT ITC AGAINST CHINA

On June 22, 2016,  Schutz Container Systems Inc. filed a section 337 IP case at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) against Composite Intermediate Bulk Containers.  The proposed respondent is Zhenjiang Runzhou Jinshan Packaging Factory, China.

On June 24, 2016, Excel Dryer, Inc. filed a section 337 IP case at the ITC against Hand Dryers and Housings for Hand Dryers.  The proposed respondents, including Chinese companies, are: ACL Group (Intl.) Ltd, United Kingdom; Alpine Industries Inc., Irving, New Jersey; FactoryDirectSale, Ontario, CA; Fujian Oryth Industrial Co., Ltd. (a/k/a Oryth), China; Jinhua Kingwe Electrical Co. Ltd., (a/k/a Kingwe), China; Penson & Co., China; Taizhou Dihour Electrical Appliances Co., Ltd. a/k/a Dihour, China; TC Bunny Co., Ltd., China; Toolsempire, Ontario, CA; US Air Hand Dryer, Sacramento, CA; Vinovo, China; and Zhejiang Akie Appliance Co., Ltd., China.

On July 5, 2016, The Chamberlain Group Inc. filed a section 337 case at the ITC against Access Control Systems.  The proposed respondents, including a Chinese company, are: Techtronic Industries Co. Ltd, Hong Kong; Techtronic Industries North America, Inc., Hunt Valley, Maryland; One World Technologies Inc., Anderson, South Carolina; OWT Industries Inc., Pickens, South Carolina; Ryobi Technologies Inc., Anderson, South Carolina; and Et Technology (Wuxi) Co., Ltd., China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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