US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP’S TRADE WAR, INCREASED US EXPORTS, SECTION 232 STEEL/ALUMINUM CASES, RETALIATION BY EC/CHINA, TPP??, SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE, TAXES AND TRADE, NEW AD, CVD, 337 CASES

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

 

US CHINA TRADE WAR STEEL/ALUMINUM TARIFFS EXCLUSION NOTICE UPDATE MARCH 18, 2018

Dear Friends,

On March 8th, Trump issued his tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum in the Section 232 National Cases.

Attached are two documents of interest.

Commerce just issued the atttached EXCLUSION FED REG STEEL AND ALUMINUM exclusion Federal Register notice for the Steel and Aluminum Section 232 Cases.

Two important points about exclusion requests.  First, there is no time limit.  Exclusion requests can be filed at any time, but they must be on specific forms.

Second, foreign producers and US importers need not apply.  The only entities that can request an exclusion are the actual US companies using the steel or aluminum in their production process.

The second document is the attached extensive two part retaliation list issued by the EC in response to the Steel and Aluminum tariffs.  TWO EU RETALIATION LISTS  The document speaks for itself and is very extensive covering numerous different US products exported to the EC.

According to the EU, Part A of the list includes products worth €2.8 billion, which the EU can target with tariffs of 25 percent at any moment after notifying the list to the WTO.

Part B lists those products which would be targeted only after three years. This is because WTO rules allow immediate retaliation only on that amount of trade for which EU steel exports to the U.S. have not increased over the past years.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR STEEL AND ALUMINUM TARIFFS UPDATE MARCH 9, 2018

Dear Friends,

On March 8th, Trump issued his tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminum.

As explained below, there are some exceptions, but now let the retaliation trade games begin.

The chickens have come home to roost.  For too many years, the average American has not been educated on the benefits of trade.  With $2.3 trillion in US exports in 2017, the United States has a lot to lose in this trade war.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S STEEL AND ALUMINUM TARIFFS

On March 3, 2018, President Trump formally announced the imposition under Section 232, National Security law, of tariffs of 25% against Steel imports and 10% on Aluminum imports.  See the attached proclamations, Presidential Proclamation on Adjusting Imports of Aluminum into Presidential Proclamation on Adjusting Imports of Steel into th.

The tariffs will take effect March 23rd “with respect to goods entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption and shall continue in effect, unless such actions are expressly reduced, modified, or terminated.”

The terms “entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption” are Customs terms, which means if steel products have not been entered/imported or withdrawn from a Customs bonded warehouse by 12:01AM on March 23rd, the tariffs will apply to those goods.

A Customs bonded warehouse is where products are stored before entry/importation of the products, in this case, steel and aluminum products, into the United States.  So long as the Steel and Aluminum has been entered/imported into the US before March 23rd, it will be ok, but afterwards the products will be hit by a tariff.

The actual steel products covered by the tariff are:

  • For the purposes of this proclamation, “steel articles” are defined at the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) 6-digit level as: 7206.10 through 7216.50, 7216.99 through 7301.10, 7302.10, 7302.40 through 7302.90, and 7304.10 through 7306.90, including any subsequent revisions to these HTS

This probably means that all steel products will be covered, but (2) provides:

“In order to establish increases in the duty rate on imports of steel articles, subchapter III of chapter 99 of the HTSUS is modified as provided in the Annex to this proclamation. Except as otherwise provided in this proclamation, or in notices published pursuant to clause 3 of this proclamation, all steel articles imports specified in the Annex shall be subject to an additional 25 percent ad valorem rate of duty with respect to goods entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 23, 2018.

Emphasis added.

If this Steel case follows the recent Solar Cells 201 Proclamation process, we will not see the Annex until the Presidential Proclamation is published in the Federal Register in a few days.

But there are doorways for countries and companies to get their products out. For countries that have a “security relationship” with the United States, not Russia or China, they can negotiate a deal with the US.  As the Proclamation specifically states in paragraph 9:

Any country with which we have a security relationship is welcome to discuss with the United States alternative ways to address the threatened impairment of the national security caused by imports from that country. Should the United States and any such country arrive at a satisfactory alternative means to address the threat to the national security such that I determine that imports from that country no longer threaten to impair the national security, I may remove or modify the restriction on steel articles imports from that country and, if necessary, make any corresponding adjustments to the tariff as it applies to other countries as our national security interests require.

Also within 10 days of the Proclamation, Commerce is to come up with an exclusion process to get products out of the tariffs, if the products are not produced in the US and if the exclusion request is made by a US company affected by the Tariff.  Foreign companies need not apply, only their US importers and more importantly the US steel using customers can apply.   The Proclamation specifically states in subparagraphs 3 and 4:

“…..The Secretary . . . is hereby authorized to provide relief from the additional duties set forth in clause 2 of this proclamation for any steel article determined not to be produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality and is also authorized to provide such relief based upon specific national security considerations. Such relief shall be provided for a steel article only after a request for exclusion is made by a directly affected party located in the United States.  , , ,

Within 10 days after the date of this proclamation, the Secretary shall issue procedures for the requests for exclusion described in clause 3 of this proclamation. . . .”

We probably will not know more about the exclusion process until Commerce publishes a notice in the Federal Register.

THE TRADE CHICKENS COME HOME TO ROOST

Although there is an out for negotiations, we can expect other countries, including China and the EC, to retaliate against the steel and aluminum tariffs issued by the US.

But the real lesson of these tariffs is the failure over many past Presidencies to educate the average American about the benefits of trade.  President Trump pushed on by Breitbart refers to free traders as globalists.  Apparently, any person who believes in free trade does so because he supports the interests of the World and not the United States.

But free traders are not globalists.  They strongly believe in free trade because that is in the interest of the United States and the average American.  Free trade has caused the US economy to grow multiple times creating millions of jobs for Americans.

The average American simply does not realize that the US exported in 2017 $2.3 trillion in goods and services, $1.5 trillion in goods.  Half of all agricultural products are exported and one third of Iowa corn is exported to Mexico.

Pundits who favor the tariffs point to the rust belt states of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin that voted for Trump, but ignore the agricultural states of Kansas, Iowa, Wyoming, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana and many other states that voted for Trump.  These pundits ignore the farmers.

But of that $1.5 trillion in goods, only $132 billion was agricultural products, exports of industrial supplies and materials at $462 billion and exports of capital goods except automotive at $532 billion were much more important.  Exports of Automotive vehicles and parts at $157 billion, consumer goods at $197 billion and export of other goods at $62 billion were also very important.

See the article on my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, “Trump and Many Americans Simply Do Not Realize How Much the US Exports” and the Commerce Department report on 2017 Imports and Exports attached to that article.

$2.3 trillion in US exports are a lot of jobs and if these tariffs are the first step to a global trade war, many Americans are going to be very badly hurt by Trump’s trade war.

MARCH 3, 2018 UPDATE

Dear Friends,

Trump has his trade war, but it is not just against China.  This trade war is the United States against the World.  On March 2nd President Trump announced tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminum imports under Section 232 National Security law.  Section 232, however, is not a trade exception, such as 201 or antidumping and countervailing duty cases, approved by the World  Trade Organization (“WTO”) so that gives the other countries  the right to retaliate and they will retaliate.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR AGAINST THE WORLD

On March 1, 2018, President Trump announced that next week he will impose under Section 232, National Security law, tariffs of 25% against Steel imports and 10% on Aluminum imports.

Many countries around the World, including the EU, Canada, Mexico, China and other countries, immediately threatened trade retaliation against US exports.  Europe is talking about tariffs on US imports of Harley Davidson Motorcycles, Jack Daniels Bourbon and blue jeans.  China is talking tariffs on US agricultural exports, such a Sorghum Grain and Soybeans.

To see the advice the President is getting one has to look no further than the statements by USTR Robert Lighthizer on February 27th, on the Laura Ingraham show on Fox News stating that it was ridiculous to think that we were going to get into a trade war with China and other countries over the 232 cases.  But the reaction of numerous countries to Trump’s announcement of tariffs on Steel and Aluminum imports shows that Lighthizer’s statement was ridiculous.  Lighthizer is Trump’s principle advisor on trade laws and trade agreements, but this statement shows how Lighthizer truly misjudged the situation.

The major problem is that Lighthizer and Trump are focused on the trade deficits rather than the enormous size of US exports at $2.4 trillion.  With $2.4 trillion in exports, there is a lot of targets for retaliation.

Secretary Wilbur Ross states that steel tariffs are about jobs and security and simply leveling the playing field.  See https://www.bloomberg.com/news/videos/2018-03-02/wilbur-ross-says-steel-tariffs-are-about-jobs-and-security-video.

On March 2, 2018, Trump tweeted, “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”  But in wars be they trade wars or real wars, no one really wins everybody loses.

Both the Wall Street Journal and Investors Business Daily both disagree with the Trump trade war.  On March 2, 2018, the Wall Street Journal stated in an editorial entitled “Trump’s Tariff Folly, His tax on aluminum and steel will hurt the economy and his voters”, stated:

Donald Trump made the biggest policy blunder of his Presidency Thursday by announcing that next week he’ll impose tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on aluminum. This tax increase will punish American workers, invite retaliation that will harm U.S. exports, divide his political coalition at home, anger allies abroad, and undermine his tax and regulatory reforms. The Dow Jones Industrial Average fell 1.7% on the news, as investors absorbed the self-inflicted folly.

Mr. Trump has spent a year trying to lift the economy from its Obama doldrums, with considerable success. Annual GDP growth has averaged 3% in the past nine months if you adjust for temporary factors, and on Tuesday the ISM manufacturing index for February came in at a gaudy 60.8. American factories are humming, and consumer and business confidence are soaring.

Apparently, Mr. Trump can’t stand all this winning. His tariffs will benefit a handful of companies, at least for a while, but they will harm many more. “We have with us the biggest steel companies in the United States. They used to be a lot bigger, but they’re going to be a lot bigger again,” Mr. Trump declared in a meeting Thursday at the White House with steel and aluminum executives.

No, they won’t. The immediate impact will be to make the U.S. an island of high-priced steel and aluminum. The U.S. companies will raise their prices to nearly match the tariffs while snatching some market share. The additional profits will flow to executives in higher bonuses and shareholders, at least until the higher prices hurt their steel- and aluminum-using customers. Then U.S. steel and aluminum makers will be hurt as well.

Mr. Trump seems not to understand that steel-using industries in the U.S. employ some 6.5 million Americans, while steel makers employ about 140,000. Transportation industries, including aircraft and autos, account for about 40% of domestic steel consumption, followed by packaging with 20% and building construction with 15%. All will have to pay higher prices, making them less competitive globally and in the U.S.

Instead of importing steel to make goods in America, many companies will simply import the finished product made from cheaper steel or aluminum abroad. Mr. Trump fancies himself the savior of the U.S. auto industry, but he might note that Ford Motor shares fell 3% Thursday and GM’s fell 4%. U.S. Steel gained 5.8%. Mr. Trump has handed a giant gift to foreign car makers, which will now have a cost advantage over Detroit. How do you think that will play in Michigan in 2020?

The National Retail Federation called the tariffs a “tax on American families,” who will pay higher prices for canned goods and even beer in aluminum cans. Another name for this is the Trump voter tax.

The economic damage will quickly compound because other countries can and will retaliate against U.S. exports. Not steel, but against farm goods, Harley-Davidson motorcycles, Cummins engines, John Deere tractors, and much more.

Foreign countries are canny enough to know how to impose maximum political pain on Republican Senators and Congressmen in an election year by targeting exports from their states and districts. Has anyone at the White House political shop thought this through?

Then there’s the diplomatic damage, made worse by Mr. Trump’s use of Section 232 to claim a threat to national security. In the process Mr. Trump is declaring a unilateral exception to U.S. trade agreements that other countries won’t forget and will surely emulate.

The national security threat from foreign steel is preposterous because China supplies only 2.2% of U.S. imports and Russia 8.7%. But the tariffs will whack that menace to world peace known as Canada, which supplies 16%. South Korea, which Mr. Trump needs for his strategy against North Korea, supplies 10%, Brazil 13% and Mexico 9%.

Oh, and Canada buys more American steel than any other country, accounting for 50% of U.S. steel exports. Mr. Trump is punishing our most important trading partner in the middle of a Nafta renegotiation that he claims will result in a much better deal. Instead he is taking a machete to America’s trade credibility. Why should Canada believe a word he says?

***

Mr. Trump announced his intentions Thursday, so there’s still time to reconsider. GOP Senators Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Ben Sasse (Nebraska) spoke up loudly against the tariffs, but a larger business and labor chorus is required. Mr. Trump is a bona fide protectionist so he won’t be dissuaded by arguments about comparative advantage. But perhaps he will heed the message from the falling stock market, and from the harm he will do to the economy, his voters, and his Presidency.

The Investors Business Daily followed suit stating in a March 2, 2018 editorial entitled “Sorry, Mr. President: Your Trade Protectionism Will Cost The U.S. Dearly”:

Trade: Protectionism is a political feel-good policy that does nothing for the economy. It’s a big cost with very few tangible benefits. That’s why President Trump has made a big mistake in imposing big tariffs on steel and aluminum.

We understand, of course, that President Trump feels beholden to his constituencies in the U.S. who have been hurt by foreign competition, particularly in basic industries like steel and aluminum. But the 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminum that Trump seeks to impose will lead to higher prices for all, the loss of thousands of jobs and a political-crony windfall for a handful of big companies. . . .

We have no doubt that what Trump says is true. But if so, it should be remedied through trade talks, not a trade war.

And make no mistake: The broad nature of Trump’s tariffs, hitting all exporters to the U.S., will invite some kind of retaliation from those who’ve been hit.

Already, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker is threatening to respond in kind: “We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk,” he said. “The European Union will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests.” . . .

Beijing is already looking at imposing trade penalties on U.S. sales of sorghum there, and may soon also target our sales of soy, too. Meanwhile, India, emboldened by the U.S. turn toward protectionism, might use Trump’s moves as a reason to protect its own wheat and rice sectors from U.S. imports.

So the steel and aluminum industry’s gains will be the loss of others.

Trump’s justification for tariffs is “national security.” But, as some have pointed out, the U.S. military uses only about 3% of domestic steel output, and much of our imported steel comes from allies like Canada. So the “threat” really isn’t much of one.

Of greater concern is what the higher prices for steel and aluminum — remember, a tariff is actually a tax — will do to our domestic economy.

As the R Street Institute think tank reminds us, “According to 2015 U.S. Census data, steel mills employ about 140,000 Americans, while steel-consuming industries, including automakers and other manufacturers who rely on imported steel, employ more than 5 million. It is estimated that nearly 200,000 jobs and $4 billion in wages were lost during the 18 months during 2002 and 2003 that President George W. Bush imposed tariffs on imported steel …” . . .

In short, trade protection, especially tariffs, is a very bad deal for consumers and workers. But it’s very profitable for politically connected corporations. That’s why the financial markets melted down on Thursday. Will this event mark the end of the Trump bull market? It’s too soon to tell, but it bears watching. While most stocks fell on Thursday, steel and aluminum shares had a great day. Good for them, bad for the rest of us.

Maybe so, but what’s truly tragic is that Trump’s penchant for trade protection will in part offset the benefits to the economy from other free-market policies he has put in place, including tax cuts, deregulation, withdrawal from the Paris Accords on climate change and badly needed changes to ObamaCare.

We understand why he walked away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal and reopened NAFTA. He thought they were flawed, and they were.

But protectionism is a bad road to travel. Let’s hope this move by President Trump is merely a negotiating ploy, and not a long-term policy. If it’s the latter, buckle up — we’re in for a bumpy ride.

CNN has called Trump ignorant on trade, but the only one more protectionist than Donald Trump is the Democrats, who were all applauding Trump’s decision to impose tariffs.  In truth Trump’s ignorance reflects the ignorance of many Americans, who simply believe that the US does not export much and all imports are unfairly traded because they are all dumped.

For years, however, the Commerce Department has created dumping rates by using a policy called zeroing, which allowed Commerce to create dumping rates when there simply were none.  Also with regards to China, Commerce creates dumping rates because it refuses to use actual prices or costs in China, instead using surrogate values from import statistics in 5 to 10 different countries to construct a cost.

Commerce, in effect, is a hanging judge.  That would not matter but when that faulty premise is used to justify a trade war than the US truly does have problems.

Americans also are ignorant because they simply do not understand that in 2017 the US exported $2.4 trillion in goods and services, $1.6 trillion in goods.  See the Commerce Department report below in my post on US exports.

That reality means that foreign countries have many, many retaliation targets against US exports.  This trade war will not be pretty and many Americans and American companies will be hurt.  No one wins a trade war.  Trade wars are a lose lose situation.

US CHINA TRADE WAR FEBRUARY 24, 2018

Dear Friends,

In my last blog post, I asked whether President Trump’s economic juggernaut could be stopped by a trade war.  At the start of the Trump Administration, economic growth was a meager about 2% and there was a true unemployment crisis.  But one way to cure the economy and the trade problem is by making US companies more competitive and that is just what Trump and the Republicans have done with their tax bill and cutting regulations.  Economic growth is approaching 3% or higher.  Unemployment, including Black and Hispanic unemployment, is the lowest in decades.

In January, however President Trump had not yet started a trade war yet.  What a difference one month can make. In January President Trump imposed large tariffs on imports of solar cells and washing machines, wants to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum pursuant to Commerce’s recommendations in section 232 National Security cases and wants to hammer China with more tariffs for intellectual property violations.  It appears that President Trump wants to solve all his disputes with foreign countries by raising tariffs.

But as indicated below, Trump’s desire for more tariffs simply reflects the feeling of many Americans that tariffs should go up to protect various US industries because Trump and many Americans simply do not understand how much the US exports.  The average American has been led to believe that imports are bad, exports are good and US exports very little.  That is the reason for the trade deficits and, therefore, all imports must be unfairly traded.  Trump’s and the average American’s belief is very dangerous thinking because it ignores the reality that the US in 2017 exported over $2 trillion in goods and services.  People in glass houses should not throw tariff stones and the United States has a very big glass house.  Belittling US exports is truly playing with trade war fire.

Trump and many average Americans do not understand what goes around comes around.  Trump, in fact, is inviting trade retaliation and igniting a trade firestorm.  In response to the self-initiation of the Aluminum Sheet case, the Chinese government has upped the game and responded with its own trade case against $1.25 billion of US agricultural exports of Sorghum Grain to China.  There are strong indications that the Chinese government is looking at antidumping and countervailing duty cases against $13.9 billion in US exports of soybeans to China, which will equal to 10% of US agricultural exports in total.

Pursuant to WTO trade rules, the EC, Japan, Korea and China are all asking for trade compensation for the Solar and Washing Machine tariffs imposed on their imports, and these same countries are sure to retaliate if Trump issues high tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from these same countries.

Meanwhile, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the US agricultural industry is hurting and one of the reasons is trade disputes and now trade retaliation.  President Trump and many Americans should be careful what they wish for, because they may get it.

But there are rays of sunlight in the US economy, President Trump and Vice President Pence have made noises about possibly rejoining the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”).  More importantly, the Trump tax cuts and cut in regulations has made US producers much more competitive and created a manufacturing renaissance.  A trade war, however, could kill the economic golden goose.

Exclusions are a big issue in the Section 201 Solar case and in a stunner the ITC voted against Boeing in the Bombardier Civil Aircraft case.  More trade cases are being filed against imports.

But there is a remedy to trade problems that is not protectionist and does not invite retaliation.  That is making US companies more competitive.  As stated below, Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, a program personally approved by President Reagan, works and is able to save companies injured by imports.  Since 1984, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, which I am involved in, has been able to save 80% of the companies that got into the program.  If you save the companies, you save the jobs that go with those companies.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

PRESIDENT TRUMP’S ADMINISTRATION APPEARS TO BE PREPARING FOR A TRADE WAR AND THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT HAS ALREADY CREATED A RETALIATION LIST WITH AGRICULTURE BEING THE NUMBER ONE TARGET

As stated above, up to now, President Trump has not started a trade war, but that appears to be changing.  As stated below, on January 21st, President Trump announced large tariffs on imports of solar cells and washing machines and the target countries are already asking for trade compensation, tariffs on US exports.  Every day President Trump appears to use the tariff hammer to deal with different foreign policy disputes and it looks like tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products are coming.

On February 4th, in a meeting with State Department, Defense Department, and Homeland Security officials, Trump promised to use tariffs to deal with immigration problems and put tariffs on the goods of countries and sanction others that refuse to take their citizens/nationals back upon deportation.  Trump stated:

“But if they don’t take them back, we’ll put sanctions on the countries. We’ll put tariffs on the countries. They’ll take them back so fast your head will spin. We’ll just tariff their goods coming in, and they’ll take them back in two seconds. You have a lot of people from those countries, and they’ll take them back.”

This is just one example where President Trump indicates his strong belief that Tariffs on imports are the weapon to use to pressure countries to fall into line with US policy interests.

Moreover, President Trump has promised his base during the election to be very tough on trade.  But President Trump unfortunately does not realize there is a price to pay for a trade war—retaliation against US exports.

DESPITE THE REAGAN WARNING MANY AMERICANS APPARENTLY WANT INCREASED TARIFFS TO PROTECT US INDUSTRIES EVEN IF US EXPORTS GET SMASHED

But President Trump’s favorable view of tariffs on imports may simply reflect the beliefs of many Americans that trade is bad.  Exports are good, but all imports are bad.  Therefore, if there is a trade deficit, that must mean that trade and imports are hurting US industry because all imports are unfairly traded and the solution is simply put more trade barriers up.

Such a way of thinking is perpetuated by a Commerce Department that finds dumping in almost 100% of the cases, especially against China, because Commerce uses fake numbers, surrogate values from 5 to 10 different countries, to create dumping margins in Chinese cases.  Literally, over the past few decasdes, the number of cases in which the Commerce Department reached a no dumping and no countervailing duty case, turning the case off can be counted on less than two hands.  Commerce is a hanging judge, but when that hanging judge creates a myth that all imports into the US  are dumped and subsidized, that is when real probelms begin.  Although Paul Ryan, Speaker of the House, once stated that 70% of all customers are outside the United States, that point apparently has been forgotten and does not register with the average American, who thinks that putting up high tariffs will solve the trade problems and protect US manufacturing.

On January 26, 2018, Rasmussen Reports in an article entitled “Americans Still Favor Use of Protective Tariffs” stated that polls show that Americans favor tariffs:

“President Trump this week imposed heavy tariffs on foreign manufacturers of washing machines and solar panels to protect U.S. businesses. Americans by a two-to-one margin think tariffs are a good way to go.

The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone and online survey finds that 50% of American Adults believe the federal government should place tariffs on goods from countries that pay very low wages to their workers. Twenty-six percent (26%) oppose tariffs on such goods even though the low wages mean these manufactured items often cost less than comparable American products. One-in-four (24%), however, are undecided.”

On February 6, 2018, Breitbart reported on the Rasmussen Poll in an article entitled “Americans Increasingly Support Tariffs to Protect US Against Globalization”, stating:

“Americans are increasingly supportive of tariffs on cheap, imported goods from foreign countries to protect American industries and workers against wild globalization.

In a poll by Rasmussen Reports, roughly 50 percent of Americans said the federal government should “place tariffs on goods from countries that pay very low wages to their workers,” as opposed to only 26 percent of Americans who said tariffs should not be imposed on foreign countries.

About 24 percent of Americans said they were “not sure” if the government should use tariffs to protect American industries.

Additionally, a plurality of Americans, about 44 percent, said the federal government is not doing “enough” to protect U.S. manufacturers and businesses from foreign competition” from globalization which has been exacerbated by endless multinational free trade agreements supported by the Democratic and Republican party establishments.

The support for protective tariffs has increased from two years ago, in 2015, when 47 percent of Americans polled by Rasmussen Reports said the federal government should place tariffs on foreign countries dumping cheap, imported products in the U.S.

In that 2015 poll, a plurality of Americans, about 40 percent, said free trade agreements like NAFTA and KORUS “take jobs away” from Americans.

The support for tariffs is positive news for President Trump’s administration, which is combatting globalization by imposing tariffs to protect American industries. In the Trump administration’s latest “America First” trade move, the White House placed a 30 percent tariff on imported solar products.

The tariff, as Breitbart News reported, has already resulted in a Chinese solar company announcing plans to build a solar plant in the U.S. rather than overseas.

The Trump administration’s pro-American trade initiatives are a break from over two decades of globalist trade agendas of past administrations under President George W. Bush and President Obama. For years, both political establishments have joined forces to push multinational free trade deals that outsource and offshore Americans’ jobs to foreign nations.

As Breitbart News reported in 2016, South Carolina is just one example of a state that was devastated by NAFTA, with the state losing about one-third of its manufacturing jobs since 1994 when the free trade agreement was signed.

In Trump’s most significant pushback against the Democratic and Republican apparatus on free trade and global initiatives, rather than individual nation-state efforts, he ended the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) free trade agreement and the Paris Climate Agreement. . . .”

But President Ronald Reagan understood that the there is a price to pay for tariffs on imports—retaliation against US exports.  As President Reagan stated in a speech on June 28, 1986:

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

We had an excellent example of this in our own history during the Great Depression. Most of you are too young to remember this, but not long after the stock market crash of 1929, the Congress passed something called the Smoot-Hawley tariff. Many economists believe it was one of the worst blows ever to our economy. By crippling free and fair trade with other nations, it internationalized the Depression. It also helped shut off America’s export market, eliminating many jobs here at home and driving the Depression even deeper. . . .

But I think you all know the inherent danger here. A foreign government raises an unfair barrier; the United States Government is forced to respond. Then the foreign government retaliates; then we respond, and so on. The pattern is exactly the one you see in those pie fights in the old Hollywood comedies: Everything and everybody just gets messier and messier. The difference here is that it’s not funny. It’s tragic. Protectionism becomes destructionism; it costs jobs.”

Like Breitbart, many Americans believe that the US simply does not export much.  The cost of President Trump’s protective tariffs, however, will be very high when US exports in 2017 were over $2 trillion.  On January 21st, President Trump imposed high tariffs on imports of solar cells and washing machines.  On January 24th, the Wall Street Journal in an editorial entitled “Trump Starts His Trade War”, stated:

“Can Donald Trump stand prosperity? Fresh from a government shutdown victory and with the U.S. economy on a roll, the President decided on Tuesday to kick off his long-promised war on imports—and American consumers. This isn’t likely to go the way Mr. Trump imagines.

“Our action today helps to create jobs in America for Americans,” Mr. Trump declared as he imposed tariffs on solar cells and washing machines. “You’re going to have a lot of plants built in the United States that were thinking of coming, but they would never have come unless we did this.”

The scary part is he really seems to believe this. And toward that end he imposed a new 30% tariff on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and solar modules to benefit two bankrupt companies, and a new 20%-50% tariff on washing machines to benefit Whirlpool Corp. The tariffs will hurt many more companies and people, and that’s before other countries retaliate.

The solar tariff is a response to a petition filed at the International Trade Commission by two U.S.-based manufacturers—Chinese-owned Suniva, which filed for bankruptcy last year, and German-owned SolarWorld Americas, whose parent company filed for bankruptcy last year. Under Section 201 of U.S. trade law, the companies don’t need to show evidence of dumping or foreign subsidies. They merely have to show they were hurt by imports, which is to say by competition.

The two companies once employed some 3,200 Americans. But the wider solar industry, which depends on price-competitive cells as a basic component, supports some 260,000 U.S. jobs.

Costs will rise immediately for this value-added part of the industry, which the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) says includes the manufacture of “metal racking, high tech inverters, machines that improve solar output by tracking the sun and other electrical products.”

The Journal reported Tuesday that the Trump tariff may spur an unnamed panel manufacturer to invest in a new plant in Florida that will create 800 new jobs. But SEIA says it expects that the tariff will cost 23,000 U.S. jobs this year alone. It will also mean that billions of dollars of solar investments are likely to be postponed or canceled. Utility companies facing green-energy mandates from state governments will also suffer as it gets more costly to deliver solar- produced electricity.

Mr. Trump will also make doing the laundry great again, or at least more expensive, with a new 20% tariff on the first 1.2 million imported washing machines every year. Above that the tariff will go to 50%. Don’t even think about assembling a washer with foreign parts, which get whacked with a 50% tariff above 50,000 imported units in the first year. . . .

Manufacturers will also lose flexibility in sourcing parts, which is critical to competitiveness. In South Carolina, where Samsung has a new $380 million appliance plant, the Trump tariffs aren’t welcome. Republican Gov. Henry McMaster is worried they’ll hurt the investment climate and invite retaliation.

Mr. Trump conducts trade policy as if U.S. trading partners have no recourse. With exports of $30.9 billion in 2016 and among the country’s highest level of exports per capita, South Carolina knows better. By justifying tariffs solely on the failure to compete, Mr. Trump is inviting other countries to do the same for their struggling companies. Their case at the World Trade Organization will also be a layup, allowing legal retaliation against U.S. exports.

By the way, if Mr. Trump thinks these new border taxes will hurt China, he’s mistaken again. China ran a distant fourth as a producer of solar cell and modules for the U.S. in 2017, after Malaysia, South Korea and Vietnam. Korea and Mexico are the two largest exporters of washing machines to the U.S. Mr. Trump’s tariffs are an economic blunderbuss that will hit America’s friends abroad and Mr. Trump’s forgotten men and women at home.”

TRUMP AND MANY AMERICANS SIMPLY DO NOT REALIZE HOW MUCH THE US EXPORTS AND PEOPLE IN GLASS HOUSES – –

President Trump and many Americans simply do not understand that despite the trade deficit, in 2017 total US exports of goods and services was $2.4 trillion.  $1.622 trillion was US exports of goods, such as machinery, semiconductor chips and other items.  China and other countries have many ripe targets for retaliation against the US.

On February 16, 2018, in the attached report, 2017 TRADE DATA, the U.S. Census Bureau U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis of the Commerce Department reported that for full year 2017:

Exports were $2,329.3 billion in 2017, up $121.2 billion from 2016. Imports were $2,895.3 billion in 2017, up $182.5 billion from 2016.

In other words, US exports in 2017 of goods and services were $2.3 trillion and imports were $2.8 trillion creating a trade deficit of $566.0 billion.  With regards to US exports, of the $2.3 trillion, export of services was $777.9 billion.  Services include exports of financial services, express delivery, media and entertainment, distribution, telecommunications and computer service.  Exports of goods was over $1.5 trillion, including industrial supplies and materials, crude oil, capital goods, including industrial machines and aircraft engines.

Although exports of agricultural products are important at about $132 billion, exports of industrial supplies and materials at $462 billion and exports of capital goods except automotive at $532 billion are much more important.  Exports of Automotive vehicles and parts at $157 billion, consumer goods at $197 billion and export of other goods at $62 billion are also very important.

The focus of this piece is on exports because much to the surprise of many in the Trump Administration and possibly Trump himself and the average American, these US Commerce statistics establish that the US exports a lot of goods to various countries around the World and this creates tempting targets for retaliation and it is not just agriculture.  People in glass houses should not throw stones and putting up tariff barriers to imports invites a trade retaliation firestorm.

When I mentioned US exports, one self-proclaimed conservative responded, “You mean apples.”  Uh, no exports of industrial goods are much larger than exports of agricultural products.

If Trump creates a trade war, the United States has a lot to lose.

STATE OF THE UNION—TRADE RECIPROCITY OR MANAGED TRADE??

In his January 30, 2018 State of the Union address, President Trump did not mention trade much but stressed in his speech on his economic policies have helped bring back manufacturing to the US and increased US jobs, stating:

“3 million workers have already gotten tax cut bonuses — many of them thousands and thousands of dollars per worker. And it’s getting more every month, every week. Apple has just announced it plans to invest a total of $350 billion in America, and hire another 20,000 workers. And just a little while ago, ExxonMobil announced a $50 billion investment in the United States, just a little while ago. . . .

Very soon, auto plants and other plants will be opening up all over our country. This is all news Americans are totally unaccustomed to hearing. For many years, companies and jobs were only leaving us. But now they are roaring back. They’re coming back. They want to be where the action is. They want to be in the United States of America. That’s where they want to be. . . .”

But President Trump then went on to state about trade:

“America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals that sacrificed our prosperity and shipped away our companies, our jobs, and our wealth. Our nation has lost its wealth, but we’re getting it back so fast. The era of economic surrender is totally over. From now on, we expect trading relationships to be fair and, very importantly, reciprocal.

We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones. And they’ll be good ones, but they’ll be fair. And we will protect American workers and American intellectual property through strong enforcement of our trade rules.”

In response to the State of the Union address, on January 31st, John Brinkley in an article in Forbes entitled “With No Accomplishments To Report, Trump All  But Skips Trade In SOTU” stated:

“Last week, at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, President Trump suggested he was open to rejoining the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That was surprising, given that one of the first things he did as president was withdraw the United States from it.

Last night, in his State of the Union address, he devoted all of 78 words to trade policy, including nothing he hadn’t said before, nothing about the TPP, nothing about NAFTA (which he recently called a “bad joke”) and nothing direct about the U.S. trade deficit.

“From now on,” he said, “we expect trading relationships to be fair and, very importantly, reciprocal.”

The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines “reciprocal” as “mutually corresponding.” If Trump wants every dollar of imports to be matched by a dollar of exports, that is an impossible goal. Tinkering around with NAFTA and the Korea-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, as his administration is doing, will have no appreciable effect on the U.S. trade deficits with Mexico and South Korea.

By now, he’s heard enough from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, his friends in the business world, even his own secretary of agriculture, about how important trade is to them. None of them asked him to renegotiate NAFTA or the Korea agreement.

None of them asked him to withdraw from the TPP. You’ll recall that it was delegates to the 2016 Democratic Convention who held up “No TPP” signs and that Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders ran away from the agreement as though it were a rattlesnake.

Trump and Sanders were dead wrong about the TPP and about trade in general, but at least they believed what they said. Clinton, on the other hand, was dead wrong, and she knew it.

“We will work to fix bad trade deals and negotiate new ones,” Trump said last night. Does he still believe this strategy is going to lead to reciprocal trade? Or is he just saying what his base wants to hear? . . . .

Bottom line: Trump’s State of the Union claims that “America has also finally turned the page on decades of unfair trade deals” notwithstanding, he has yet to make good on any of his trade-related threats and promises. We still have all the trade deals we had a year ago, and the U.S. trade deficit has increased.”

On February 12th in an article entitled “Trump Says US Will impose A Reciprocal Tax on Imports”, Breitbart reported:

“President Donald Trump said on Monday that the U.S. government will impose a “reciprocal tax” on imports from countries that levy tariffs against American made goods.

“We’re going to charge countries outside of our country–countries that take advantage of the United States, some of them are so-called allies but they’re not allies on trade,” Trump said during a White House meeting on infrastructure. “We’re going to be doing very much a reciprocal tax and you’ll be hearing about that during the week and coming months.”

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross applauded the idea, saying that the U.S. needs to “claw back” the revenue other countries raise by taxing U.S. products.

The U.S. has very low tariffs compared with some of our biggest trading partners. The trade-weighted average of U.S. tariffs is just 2.4 percent. China’s is 4.4 percent.”

While Congress has the authority to set taxes and tariffs, the law authorizes the president to unilaterally impose tariffs in certain circumstances. In January, for example, the administration announced that it would impose tariffs on washing machines and solar products. The administration could potentially expand its use of these types of sanctions instead of waiting on Congress to pass new tariffs.”

Under the Constitution, however, the Congress controls trade, not the President and any new reciprocal tariff would probably have to go through Congress, which would not agree to such a new law.  On January 30th, Politico reported in an article entitled “Republicans seek to Tame Trump on Trade”:

“The GOP has long been a party of free traders. During the past two years of President Barack Obama’s presidency, Senate Republicans labored to pass a bill giving him the ability to quickly negotiate new trade deals. Now they have a president of their own party who prefers to scrap trade deals and slap tariffs on other nations.

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who led the fight to give Obama so-called Trade Promotion Authority, said he wants to hear Trump “extrapolate” concrete policies, because “right now they’re just suggestions.”

“I’m not uncomfortable. But I’m not comfortable either,” Hatch said of Trump’s trade stance. “I’m a free-trade guy. And I believe that this ought to be a free-trade country, especially when it comes to NAFTA and our hemisphere.”

Republican sources said GOP senators’ disagreements with Trump on trade surface far more often in party lunches than what the president said on Twitter or the chaotic story of the day from within the White House. Senators will often wait to complain about Trump’s policies until Tuesdays, when Vice President Mike Pence often visits the GOP lunch, hoping that bending Pence’s ear will help moderate Trump.

And in some cases, Trump has listened. His decision to impose tariffs on solar panels wasn’t as severe as some senators had feared. And Trump opened the door last week to re-engaging on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a massive deal negotiated by Obama with Pacific Rim countries that Trump rejected shortly after taking office. The Trump administration has also sought to soothe some senators over NAFTA in recent weeks, according to GOP senators.”

But if by reciprocity, Trump means busting up barriers to US exports, that is fine with me and fine with President Reagan.  President Reagan and many successive Presidents have taken aggressive enforcement actions to break down barriers to US exports and investment.  If China has high tariffs on certain exports or bars US exports or investment in certain sectors, why should the US open up its border to Chinese imports and investment in those sectors?

But the major problem with such a new reciprocal tariff is the WTO Agreement and the bedrock agreement of Most Favored Nation.  The MFN principle provides that once a country becomes part of the WTO, with its general tariffs, it must treat all imports equally and cannot discriminate against imports from different countries, except with a Section 201 Escape Clause case or if dumping, subsidization or other unfair trade practices are involved.  Thus, a reciprocal tariff will invite retaliation by foreign countries pursuant to the WTO Agreement.  That is why many knowledgeable persons in the trade field have pushed for free trade agreements that lower tariffs, where the US has much to gain.

But because of his focus on trade deficits, if Trump means managed trade, not free trade, to reduce trade deficits, which means putting up high tariff walls to imports to equalize competition, count me and many other countries out, which will have no inclination to negotiate a bilateral trade deal with the US.

THE US BUILT THE WTO FREE TRADE MODEL THAT TRUMP APPARENTLY WANTS TO TEAR DOWN

On February 6, 2018, in an article entitled “US Leadership in International Trade: Recalibration or Retreat?” in The Diplomat, Mercy Kuo interviewed Ambassador Rufus Yerxa, president of the National Foreign Trade Council (NFTC) and deputy director general of the WTO from 2002 to 2013.  On a personal note, I used to work with Ambassador Yerxa many years ago at the International Trade Commission.  During this interview, Ambassador Yerxa made two very important points about the Trump trade policy:

“Is the U.S. retreating from or recalibrating its leadership role in international trade?

There is clearly a significant danger for the United States and for world trade generally if the Trump administration applies its concept of economic nationalism in the wrong way – by building trade barriers in sectors where we are uncompetitive, withdrawing from our trade alliances, or starting trade wars with excessive use of unilateral tariffs or other forms of trade retaliation. The dangers are three-fold: first, we will be turning inward and losing our competitiveness; second, by shelving our existing preferential free-trade arrangements just when our competitors are expanding theirs, we will lose our competitive position in export markets; and third, by abandoning WTO principles and acting unilaterally, we will make it more likely that other countries will write global trade standards without us and further isolate us from the global economy.

So far, the Trump administration’s rhetoric on this idea of economic nationalism has far exceeded its actions. But the administration’s worrying belief in mercantilist trade polices as a panacea for all our economic ills runs the risk of moving our country decisively in the direction outlined above. In the end, such a philosophy may cause our economy and our workers far more harm than good. American industries are willing to support a tougher line on enforcement of trade rules, as well as a more resolute stand against the nationalistic, unfair trade, and investment policies of China. But these things need to be done in the context of our broader support for the open trading system we led the world in building. If we send the signal that we do not believe in that system – even though it is there because of our leadership – we will lose the support we have built over 70 years for free and fair trade, and with it we will lose our leverage to shape the future of globalization.

What might the World Trade Organization (WTO) look like without U.S. involvement?

It is not a very pretty thought. The WTO system was designed to reflect core U.S. values, such as non- discrimination, transparency, and respect for the rule of law. These values are embedded in the organization’s rules, and help to commit other countries to the basic ideals of free market economics that America was built upon. For example, the WTO has some fairly effective rules about subsidy practices, dumping, and non-tariff measures (such as technical barriers to trade). These are important safeguards for U.S. industries.

For the U.S. to disengage from the WTO system, particularly at this critical moment in the globalization process, would leave the door open for politically influential countries such as China and Russia to push a trade model based much more on state-run capitalism and authoritarian economics than on our free market principles. This could pose a long-term problem that could take decades to repair. In fact, it took decades for us to push the Europeans in the right direction on state intervention, and the WTO’s predecessor, the GATT, was an important tool in that effort. Now the Europeans have a respectable state aids code and have adopted far greater discipline on agriculture subsidies. But if China, Russia, and others with less attachment to free market economics become the dominant force in the WTO, the Europeans themselves could be drawn back towards their earlier model, just as a matter of survival! That would not be a good world for Americans.”

AGRICULTURE HAVING A HARD YEAR BECAUSE OF TRUMP’S TRADE POLICY

The argument that consumers will be hurt by rising import prices simply carries no weight either with the Trump Administration or the US Congress.  If prices go up a few dollars at Wal Mart, no one in Washington DC other than the economic intellectuals care.  What does carry weight, however, is the strong argument that trade protectionism seriously damages US companies, including agriculture, and the strong and justified fear that many US companies, including US agriculture and manufacturing companies, will be badly hurt by trade retaliation.  President Trump’s decision to tear up the Trans Pacific Partnership, without trying to renegotiate it, may have appealed to those people in his base that are not knowledgeable about trade, but this decision to tear up the TPP and the failure to create more US free trade agreements puts many US agriculture companies at risk.

As stated before in past blog posts, no one in the Trump Administration or the Congress assessed the real costs to US industry of not doing the Trans Pacific Partnership.  Every day those costs are becoming clearer and clearer.

On February 15, 2018, Capital Press in an article entitled “Wheat industry seeks to re-enter TPP” describes in detail what the withdrawal from the TPP means for the US wheat industry and what that means for US jobs:

“If the United States doesn’t re-enter the Trans-Pacific Partnership, Northwest wheat exports to Japan could drop by half within a few years, says the leader of the Washington Grain Commission.

The Pacific Northwest currently exports roughly 800,000 metric tons of Western white wheat, a popular blend of soft white wheat and subclass club wheat, to Japan each year, commission CEO Glen Squires said.

Hard red winter and hard red spring wheat exports would also be impacted, affecting Montana and North Dakota, and other states exporting off the West Coast, Squires said.

Japan wants the U.S. in TPP, and is not interested in bilateral agreements, Squires said.

Wheat industry representatives met in Washington D.C. last week. Many legislators are aware of the concerns about the Trans-Pacific Partnership proceeding without the United States, Squires said. It will essentially amount to a tariff on U.S. wheat, putting the country at a price disadvantage in key markets compared to competing wheat-producing countries that are remain in the trade pact.

Changes under TPP will occur over nine years, but Squires said the impact on shipments could be much faster.

“This is a massively big deal,” he said.

Reduced demand would result in lower wheat prices, Squires said.

A national coalition of agricultural commodities is forming to address the situation, Squires said. The industry will appeal to the Trump administration to rejoin the trade deal.

“President Trump is the guy who can negotiate, and get us back involved,” Squires said. “It’s clearly a big impact: It’s the equivalent of handing our competitors a $500 million check per year.” . . .

Squires warned of “ripple effects” throughout the industry, which could happen as soon as U.S. wheat becomes uncompetitive in overseas markets. . . .

Without exports to Japan, the grain commission estimates volume would drop by 62.5 million bushels. That equals 19,000 fewer rail cars and nearly 70 bulk vessels each year. Impact would be felt by port facilities, barges, elevator longshoremen, ship handlers, and other industry members, Squires said.

Every $1 billion in farm exports supports more than 8,000 jobs in 2016. Wheat export losses of $500 million per year would lead to reductions in the work force across the supply chain, Squires said. . . .”

Emphasis added.

Keep in mind that rural America and farmers are a key constituency of the Trump Presidency. Trump won the Presidency not only because of Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, but also the states of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Idaho, Utah, Arizona, and many other states where farmers and agriculture are very important for the economy of those States.

Yet the Wall Street Journal reported on February 8, 2018 that in contrast to the rest of the economy, Farm Incomes are falling:

“Farm Belt Braces for Falling Incomes, Trade Disputes

Farm incomes are forecast to decline 7% to $60 billion in 2018.

U.S. farmers are gearing up for another tough year.

Farm incomes are expected to hit their lowest point since 2006 and borrowing costs are rising, federal data shows, as a deepening slump in the agricultural economy enters its fifth year.

A string of bumper corn and soybean harvests has added to a glut of grain world-wide, eroding prices for U.S. farmers. Foreign rivals like Russia and Brazil are also chipping away at U.S. dominance in the global grain trade, helping to fuel a multiyear downturn that is pushing some farmers out of business.

“The state of the rural economy is fragile,” Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue told lawmakers during a hearing of the House Agriculture Committee on Tuesday. “There’s a lot of stress and a lot of duress on the farms today.”

The U.S. Department of Agriculture on Wednesday forecast that farm incomes would fall 7% to $60 billion in 2018 on lower crop and livestock revenue, less than half of the record $124 billion farmers earned in 2013. Farmers are already borrowing more to keep farms running. . . .

As spring planting looms, farmers are looking to South America for clues on demand for their own crop. The USDA boosted its forecast for Brazil’s soybean harvest on Thursday, and cut its projection for U.S. exports of the oilseed this season thanks to stiffer competition from South America.”

As stated many times in past blog posts, President Trump’s decision to rip up the Trans Pacific Partnership and talk about more tariffs on various trade areas has led to many foreign countries, including China, to not look at the US as a reliable partner in the trade area.  It has also resulted in many foreign countries, including Mexico, China, Japan and the EC, to switch sourcing products from the US and turn to alternative sources of supply.  Since almost 50% of all agriculture products are exported, one third of Iowa corn is exported to Mexico, agriculture and the farm states are starting to feel real pain because of the Trump trade policy.

TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (“TPP”) RISES AGAIN???

As mentioned in my last blog post, Trump’s trade team is starting to realize that countries do not want to negotiate bilateral trade deals with the US.  Even though NAFTA may ultimately be renegotiated, the real problem is that with Trump’s policy of weaponizing trade agreements, no other country will enter into a trade agreement with the US.  As Robert Zoellick, the former United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) under President George W. Bush, stated on January 7th in the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “Trump Courts Economic Mayhem”:

“No country wants to do a bilateral deal with Mr. Trump now because he demands managed trade, not fair competition. He wants excuses to raise barriers, not rules to boost trade.”

As stated above, that is a huge problem for US farmers because almost 50% of farm products produced in the US are exported.

Because of this failure, if Trump keeps going down this road, the US may conclude no free trade agreements.  This would have a devastating impact on US exporters, including US agricultural companies.  The entire World is moving to free trade agreements and because of Most Favored Nation principle, the US with lower tariffs than many other countries would benefit the most.   Because of this reality, in my last blog post I suggested that Trump might want to renegotiate the TPP, but only under strict conditions.

Lo and behold, in January and February there were noises from the President and the Administration about coming back to the TPP.

On January 23rd, in an article entitled, “TPP Members Reach Agreement on Major Trade Pact”, the Wall Street Journal reported:

“TOKYO—Negotiators from 11 Pacific Rim nations agreed Tuesday on a Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal, the Japanese minister in charge of TPP said, a year after President Donald Trump withdrew the U.S. from the talks.

Negotiators gathered again in Tokyo Tuesday and cleared away the remaining sticking points, said Toshimitsu Motegi, the Japanese minister handling the talks. He said the 11 nations aim to sign the agreement on March 8 in Chile. . . .

The TPP deal came just a half-day after the Trump administration slapped steep tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines, a move to implement Mr. Trump’s harder line on trade that he has touted since his election campaign.

Japan has depicted itself as a free-trade champion that can assume the kind of leadership role previously taken by U.S. administrations.

“Now in some parts of the world, there is a move toward protectionism, and I think the TPP-11 is a major engine to overcome such a phenomenon,” Mr. Motegi said.

He said the deal was “epoch-making for Japan as well as for the future of the Asia-Pacific region.” He also reiterated a hope frequently expressed by Japanese officials that once the 11- nation TPP is up and running, the U.S. might consider rejoining the deal.

The TPP agreement could also provide a framework for a future Nafta deal should the current one be scrapped by the Trump administration, according to people familiar with the trade talks. Senior Mexican officials see the TPP agreement as an indication that the free-trade train is rolling forward with regional pacts, with or without the U.S. aboard, as Nafta is being renegotiated.”

On January 26, 2018, during a meeting at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Trump discussed trade and eventually turned to the TPP stating:

“The United States is prepared to negotiate mutually beneficial, bilateral trade agreements with all countries. This will include the countries in TPP, which are very important. We have agreements with several of them already. We would consider negotiating with the rest, either individually, or perhaps as a group, if it is in the interests of all.”

In response to a question in an interview with CNBC’s Joe Kerne, Trump further stated:

“I would do TPP if we were able to make a substantially better deal.  The deal was terrible, the way it was structured was terrible. If we did a substantially better deal, I would be open to TPP.”

During his Davos address, however, Trump did not mention the TPP and instead put forth a very tough statement on trade:

“The United States will no longer turn a blind eye to unfair economic practices, including massive intellectual property theft, industrial subsidies, and pervasive state-led economic planning.  These and other predatory behaviors are distorting the global markets and harming businesses and workers, not just in the U.S., but around the globe.”

In line with the tough stance against international trade, during Davos Economic Forum, on January 24th, in an article entitled, “U.S. Commerce Secretary Slams Beijing for Protectionist Actions Under Free-Trade Rhetoric” the Wall Street Journal reported:

“The Chinese have for quite a little while been superb at free-trade rhetoric and even more superb at highly protectionist activities,” U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told a trade panel Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland. Mr. Ross went on to blame both Beijing and the European Union for unfairly benefiting from higher tariffs and challenged the other two big economies to lower their import duties to U.S. levels.

“We really are the least protectionist, and unfortunately we have the trade deficits to show for it,” Mr. Ross said.

The Trump administration is seeking to push its own trade message at the annual Davos economic gathering, which is closely linked to globalization and multilateralism. Mr. Ross backed the administration’s bilateral approach to negotiating trade agreements and defended President Donald Trump’s exit from the unratified 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement a year earlier, saying there was “no political appetite” for the pact in either party.”

But then the TPP story continued to grow.  During his visit to Tokyo last year in 2017, Vice President Mike Pence stated as far as the Trump administration is concerned, the TPP is a “thing of the past.” But during his most recent trip to Tokyo in February 2018, his tune seemed to change.  On February 7th, Kyodo News reported that in discussions with Japanese Deputy Prime Minister Taro Aso, Vice President Pence “referred to the possibility of the United States returning to the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade deal.”  Apparently, Pence’s statement was in response to a question from the Deputy Prime Minster about Trump’s statement at Davos.  Apparently, Pence and Aso then exchanged views on the strategic importance of the TPP.

On January 31st, the famous economist Robert Samuelson in an article in Investors Business Daily entitled “Trump Dumped TPP A Year Ago – -What Did it Accomplish” stated:

“As President Trump appraises the state of the union, it’s worth remembering what still ranks as one of the worst decisions of his presidency: the withdrawal of the United States from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP. It happened just about a year ago.

You’ll recall that the TPP was an agreement between the U.S. and 11 other countries — Australia, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Mexico, Singapore, Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile and Peru — representing about 40% of the world economy.

Rejecting the TPP was, for Trump, a highly symbolic act buttressing his assertions that the United States has made bad trade deals that have diverted jobs, incomes and influence to foreign countries. He pledged to do better.

The reality is just the opposite, as a short analysis by economist Jeffrey Schott of the Peterson Institute makes clear. It turns out that the other 11 countries weren’t willing to sacrifice the TPP’s benefits. They decided to adopt the agreement anyway — without the United States — calling it the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, or (a mouthful) CPTPP. It’s scheduled to be signed on March 8 in Chile.

The new agreement makes the United States “the biggest loser” from the whole TPP episode, writes Schott. For starters, there will be lower exports and incomes. Economic simulations done by researchers at the Peterson Institute estimated that the TPP would ultimately raise U.S. gross domestic product by $131 billion, or 0.5% of GDP. Those gains are now gone.

Schott notes that a number of TPP provisions advocated by the United States but opposed “by most other countries” have been dropped in the new agreement. These include “obligations regarding patents on certain pharmaceutical products, procedures involving investor-state disputes, prohibitions on the illegal taking and trade in wildlife” and restrictions on government-owned firms.

The biggest winner in the TPP episode is, almost certainly, China. Although China wasn’t a member of the TPP, Trump’s decision to withdraw leaves other Pacific-rim countries less dependent on the United States for their trade and more dependent on China — and, therefore, more subject to Chinese economic and political influence.

Rarely has the United States embraced a policy that, in contrast to the supporting rhetoric, is so contrary to its own interests. Even Trump may recognize this. In his speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, he hinted obliquely that he might resume negotiations with the other TPP nations “if it is in the interests of all.”

The open question now is whether the president will repeat his mistake by repudiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the trade pact among the United States, Mexico and Canada that Trump has sharply criticized. The damage would be even greater.”

During the time when the TPP was being discussed in Congress, its passage was in trouble because many Senators and Congressmen believed the US did not get enough and many Senators and Congressmen wanted a a better deal.  But now there is no deal and the costs of not doing the TPP are becoming clearer.

On February 16th, 25 Republican Senators, many from agriculture states, such as Hatch, Grassley, Ernst, Enzi, Gardner, McCain and Daines, sent the attached letter to President Trump, 021618 Letter to POTUS on TPP1, strongly urging him to rejoin the Trans Pacific Partnership stating:

“Mr. President:

We write in support of your recent comments expressing interest in re-engaging with the Trans­ Pacific Partnership (TPP) to bring about a stronger agreement for the United States. Reducing barriers to trade and investment, protecting American intellectual property rights, and leveling the playing field for U.S. businesses, manufacturers, farmers, fishermen, and ranchers is of utmost importance, and we ask that you prioritize engagement with the TPP so that the American people can prosper from the tremendous opportunities that these trading partners bring.

As you know, increased economic engagement with the eleven nations currently in the TPP has the potential to substantially improve the competitiveness of U.S. businesses, support millions of U.S. jobs, increase U.S. exports, increase wages, fully unleash America’s energy potential, and benefit consumers. Increasing access to a region and market that has a population of nearly 500 million can create widespread benefits to the U.S. economy. An improved TPP would therefore bolster and sustain the economic growth America has experienced over the past year facilitated by the regulatory reductions and reforms enacted by your Administration and the substantial tax cuts that you signed into law.

Further, TPP can serve as a way to strengthen ties with our allies in the region, counter the influence of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and increase pressure on the PRC to adopt substantive and positive economic reforms. Re-engaging on TPP would also provide another platform to modernize trade with Canada and Mexico. . . .

In summary, we encourage you to work aggressively to secure reforms that would allow the United States to join the agreement. We share your commitment for free trade agreements that benefit the American people, and we stand ready to work closely with you toward achieving a TPP agreement that meets this objective.”

As predicted many times in prior blog posts, the costs of not joining the TPP are becoming clearer and clearer and the real economic pain of not joining the TPP is also becoming starkly clear.

RETALIATION BEGINS– FIRST SORGHUM GRAIN NEXT SOYBEANS??

As stated above, when the US imposes trade restrictions, US trading partners will respond with their own trade restrictions retaliating against US exports.  But Trump and the average American may simply believe that neither the EC nor China will retaliate against US exports, causing economic pain to the US.  Think again as the retaliation has already started and it will hurt.

MOFCOM SELF-INITIATED ANTIDUMPING (“AD”) AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY (“CVD”) CASES AGAINST SORGHUM GRAIN FROM THE US

On December 1, 2017, in the first time in over a decade, the Commerce Department self-initiated an antidumping and countervailing duty case against imports of aluminum sheet from China.

On February 4, 2018, the Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) in China retaliated by self-initiating its own antidumping and countervailing duty case against imports of US sorghum grain.  Total China imports of US Sorghum Grain in 2016 were 5,869,000 tons worth more than $1.26 billion USD.

Notices of appearance are due at MOFCOM by February 24th.

Although the Trump Administration and many Americans may believe that the US government does not provide subsidies to its producers, as mentioned in the MOFCOM announcement, it will be investigating large US agricultural subsidies for sorghum grain, such as Crop Insurance Program, Price Loss Protection Program, Agricultural Risk Protection Program, Marketing Loan Program, Export Credit Guarantee Program, Market Access Program and Foreign Market Development Partner Program.

Some of the US companies that may be the targets of this MOFCOM action are: Agniel Commodities, LLC, Attebury Grain, LLC, Big River Resources, Bluegrass Farms of Ohio, Inc., Bunge North America, Inc., Cardinal Ethanol, LLC, Cargill, Inc., Consolidated Grain and Barge Co., DeLong Company  Inc., Enerfo USA, Inc., Fornazor International Inc., Freepoint Commodities LLC, Gavilon, Illinois Corn Processing, LLC, International Feed, Louis Dreyfus Commodities, Marquis Grain Inc., Mirasco Inc., Pacific Ethanol, Inc., Perdue AgriBusiness, LLC, The Scoular Company, Southwest Iowa Renewable Energy, LLC, Tharaldson Ethanol Plant I, LLC, United Wisconsin Grain Producers, and Zeeland Farm Services.

This case is important because it signals the possible start of a trade war with China.  The US self-initiates antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China; China self-initiates antidumping and countervailing duty cases against the US.

SOYBEANS?

On February 7th, Bloomberg reported that the Chinese government is looking at possibly self-initiating trade cases against Chinese imports of US soybeans.  In the article entitled, “China Studying Impact of Trade Measures Against U.S. Soy, Sources Say” Bloomberg stated:

“China is studying the potential impact of trade measures imposed on soybeans imported from the U.S., valued last year at $13.9 billion, according to people familiar with the matter.

Speculation is mounting over China’s response to U.S. tariffs on imported solar panels and washing machines announced last month. The Ministry of Commerce has been looking into the consequences of measures against U.S. soybeans since January . . . . That includes anti-dumping and anti-subsidy probes. . . .

China’s soybean imports have climbed to a record as expansion in large-scale livestock farming and a shortage of protein-rich feed grains boost soy-meal consumption. While the U.S. counts China as its biggest soybean market, the Asian country last year bought more of the oilseed from Brazil.”

If Section 232 Tariffs are imposed against US imports of EC Steel, the EC is planning to retaliate immediately against US exports of Harley Davidson Motorcycles from Wisconsin (Paul Ryan Republican Speaker of the House) and Jack Daniels Bourbon from Kentucky (Mitch McConnell, Republican Senate Majority).

SECTION 232 STEEL AND ALUMINUM CASES—THE REAL TRADE WAR BEGINS

President Trump must make a decision in the Section 232 National Security Cases against imports of steel and aluminum by April 11, 2018 in the Steel Case and April 19, 2018 in the Aluminum case. This article will concentrate on the Steel 232 case and mention Aluminum at the end because the Steel case is bigger, but both cases will have devastating consequences on downstream US producers and through retaliation on US exports.  Truthfully, if President Trump does what Commerce Secretary Ross is recommending and imposes very high tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, he will ignite a trade war with many other countries, which will become red hot.  This will be a shooting trade war with retaliation aimed at US exports and this protectionism will become destructionism—killing US jobs.

Trump’s decisions in these two Section 232 cases will give us a much better idea of whether President Trump wants a trade war or not.  Both the EC, China and other countries are drawing up retaliation lists aimed at US exports of various products.

As background, on April 20, 2017, President Trump and the Commerce Department in the attached press announcement and fact sheet along with a Federal Register notice, Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Steel on U.S Presidential Memorandum Prioritizes Commerce Steel Investigation _ Department of Commerce, announced the self-initiation of a Section 232 National Security case against imports of steel from every country.  See video of Trump signing the Executive Order with Secretary Ross and Steel Producers at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiVfNOl-_Ho.

Commerce held a hearing on May 24th in this case.  The video of the hearing can be found at https://www.commerce.gov/file/public-hearing-section-232-investigation-steel-imports-national-security.

Under the terms of the executive order, the interagency group was to present a report to the White House within 270 days that identifies goods that are essential for national security and analyzes the ability of the defense industrial base to produce those goods.

Since the Secretary reported affirmatively, the President has 90 days to determine whether it concurs with the Secretary’s determination and “determine the nature and duration of the action that, in the judgment of the President, must be taken to adjust the imports of the article and its derivatives so that such imports will not threaten to impair the national security” – – April 11, 2018 in the Steel Case and April 19, 2018 in the Aluminum case.

Although Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pledged to get the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum reports to President Trump’s desk by the end of June 2017, that did not happen as the Administration began to realize the impact a broad tariff on steel or aluminum raw material inputs would have on downstream users, which are dependent on high quality, competitively priced raw materials to produce competitive downstream products made from steel and aluminum.

On February 16, 2018, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross released to the public the attached Section 232 National Security reports on Steel and Aluminum, Section 232 Reports _ Department of Commerce the_effect_of_imports_of_aluminum_on_the_national_security_-_with_redactions_-_20180117 the_effect_of_imports_of_steel_on_the_national_security_-_with_redactions_-_20180111.  These Reports recommend substantial Import restraints on imports of steel and aluminum.  In the attached statement accompanying the reports, Section 232 Reports _ Department of Commerce, Secretary Ross stated:

“I am glad that we were able to provide this analysis and these recommendations to the President.  I look forward to his decision on any potential course of action.”

In response to questions of whether the US would be vulnerable to challenges in the WTO, Ross said he would not be surprised if some countries filed World Trade Organization challenges, but he was confident that the United States was on firm legal ground.  Ross went on to state:

“National security is a very broadly encompassing topic … it is not just the narrow definition of defense needs, it also covers infrastructure needs and other needs.  So we believe and our counsel believes that this is a perfectly valid interpretation of national security the way that it’s used in Section 232, which is much broader than you might think in terms of usual parlance.”

STEEL REPORT AND RECOMMENDATIONS

The Commerce Department statement accompanying the Steel Report summarizes the findings and sets out the remedies recommended by the Department:

“The Department of Commerce found that the quantities and circumstances of steel and aluminum imports “threaten to impair the national security,” as defined by Section 232.

The reports are currently under consideration by the President, and no final decisions have been made with regard to their contents. The President may take a range of actions, or no action, based on the analysis and recommendations provided in the reports. Action could include making modifications to the courses of action proposed, such as adjusting percentages.

STEEL SUMMARY

The Commerce Department statement accompanying the Steel Report summarized the Key Findings of the Steel Report as follows:

The United States is the world’s largest importer of steel. Our imports are nearly four times our exports.

Six basic oxygen furnaces and four electric furnaces have closed since 2000 and employment has dropped by 35% since 1998.

World steelmaking capacity is 2.4 billion metric tons, up 127% from 2000, while steel demand grew at a slower rate.

The recent global excess capacity is 700 million tons, almost 7 times the annual total of U.S. steel consumption. China is by far the largest producer and exporter of steel, and the largest source of excess steel capacity. Their excess capacity alone exceeds the total U.S. steel-making capacity.

On an average month, China produces nearly as much steel as the U.S. does in a year. For certain types of steel, such as for electrical transformers, only one U.S. producer remains.

As of February 15, 2018, the U.S. had 169 antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place on steel, of which 29 are against China, and there are 25 ongoing investigations.

Recommendations of the Steel Report:

Secretary Ross has recommended to the President that he consider the following alternative remedies to address the problem of steel imports:

A global tariff of at least 24% on all steel imports from all countries, or

A tariff of at least 53% on all steel imports from 12 countries (Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam) with a quota by product on steel imports from all other countries equal to 100% of their 2017 exports to the United States, or

A quota on all steel products from all countries equal to 63% of each country’s 2017 exports to the United States.

Each of these remedies is intended to increase domestic steel production from its present 73% of capacity to approximately an 80% operating rate, the minimum rate needed for the long-term viability of the industry. Each remedy applies measures to all countries and all steel products to prevent circumvention.

The tariffs and quotas would be in addition to any duties already in place. The report recommends that a process be put in place to allow the Secretary to grant requests from U.S. companies to exclude specific products if the U.S. lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations.

Any exclusions granted could result in changed tariffs or quotas for the remaining products to maintain the overall effect.”

ACTUAL SECTION 232 STEEL REPORT

In the actual Section 232 Steel report itself, the Department stated:

“CONCLUSION

The Secretary has determined that the displacement of domestic steel by excessive imports and the consequent adverse impact of those quantities of steel imports on the economic welfare of the domestic steel industry, along with the circumstance of global excess capacity in steel, are “weakening our internal economy” and therefore “threaten to impair” the national security as defined in Section 232.

The continued rising levels of imports of foreign steel threaten to impair the national security by placing the U.S. steel industry at substantial risk of displacing the basic oxygen furnace and other steelmaking capacity, and the related supply chain needed to produce steel for critical infrastructure and national defense.

In considering “the impact of foreign competition on the economic welfare of individual domestic [steel] industries” and other factors Congress expressly outlined in Section 232, the Secretary has determined that the continued decline and concentration in steel production capacity is “weakening of our internal economy and may impair national security.” See 19 U.S.C. § 1862(d).

Global excess steel capacity is a circumstance that contributes to the “weakening of our internal economy” that “threaten[s] to impair” the national security as defined in Section 232. Free markets globally are adversely affected by substantial chronic global excess steel production led by China. While U.S. steel production capacity has remained flat since 2001, other steel producing nations have increased their production capacity, with China alone able to produce as much steel as the rest of the world combined. This overhang of excess capacity means that U.S. steel producers, for the foreseeable future, will face increasing competition from imported steel as other countries export more steel to the United States to bolster their own economic objectives.

Since defense and critical infrastructure requirements alone are not sufficient to support a robust steel industry, U.S. steel producers must be financially viable and competitive in the commercial market to be available to produce the needed steel output in a timely and cost efficient manner. In fact, it is the ability to quickly shift production capacity used for commercial products to defense and critical infrastructure production that provides the United States a surge capability that is vital to national security, especially in an unexpected or extended conflict or national emergency. It is that capability which is now at serious risk; as imports continue to take business away from domestic producers, these producers are in danger of falling below minimum viable scale and are at risk of having to exit the market and substantially close down production capacity, often permanently.

Steel producers in the United States are facing widespread harm from mounting imports. Growing global steel capacity, flat or declining world demand, the openness of the U.S. steel market, and the price differential between U.S. market prices and global market prices (often caused by foreign government steel intervention) ensures that the U.S. will remain an attractive market for foreign steel absent quotas or tariffs. Excessive imports of steel, now consistently above 30 percent of domestic demand, have displaced domestic steel production, the related skilled workforce, and threaten the ability of this critical industry to maintain economic viability.

A U.S. steel industry that is not financially viable to invest in the latest technologies, facilities, and long-term research and development, nor retain skilled workers while attracting a next-generation workforce, will be unable to meet the current and projected needs of the U.S. military and critical infrastructure sectors. Moreover, the market environment for U.S. steel producers has deteriorated dramatically since the 2001 Report, when the Department concluded that imports of iron ore and semi-finished steel do not “fundamentally threaten” the ability of U.S. industry to meet national security needs.

The Department’s investigation indicates that the domestic steel industry has declined to a point where further closures and consolidation of basic oxygen furnace facilities represents a “weakening of our internal economy” as defined in Section 232.  The more than 50 percent reduction in the number of basic oxygen furnace facilities – either through closures or idling of facilities due to import competition – increases the chance of further closures that place the United States at serious risk of being unable to increase production to the levels needed in past national emergencies. The displacement of domestic product by excessive imports is having the serious effect of causing the domestic industry to operate at unsustainable levels, reducing employment, diminishing research and development, inhibiting capital expenditures, and causing a loss of vital skills and know-how. The present capacity operating rates for those remaining plants continue to be below those needed for financial sustainability. These conditions have been further exacerbated by the 22 percent surge in imports thus far in 2017 compared with 2016. Imports are now consistently above 30 percent of U.S. domestic demand.

It is evident that the U.S. steel industry is being substantially impacted by the current levels of imported steel. The displacement of domestic steel by imports has the serious effect of placing the United States at risk of being unable meet national security requirements. The Secretary has determined that the “displacement of domestic [steel] products by excessive imports” of steel is having the “serious effect” of causing the “weakening of our internal economy.” See 19 U.S.C. § 1862(d). Therefore, the Secretary recommends that the President take corrective action pursuant to the authority granted by Section 232. See 19 U.S.C. § 1862(c).

RECOMMENDATION

Prior significant actions to address steel imports (quotas and/or tariffs) were taken under various statutory authorities . . . all at lower levels of import penetration than the present level, which is above 30 percent.

Due to the threat of steel imports to the national security, as defined in Section 232, the Secretary recommends that the President take immediate action by adjusting the level of imports through quotas or tariffs on steel imported into the United States, as well as direct additional actions to keep the U.S. steel industry financially viable and able to meet U.S. national security needs. The quota or tariff imposed should be sufficient, after accounting for any exclusions, to enable the U.S. steel producers to be able to operate at about an 80 percent or better of the industry’s capacity utilization rate based on available capacity in 2017. . . .

By reducing import penetration rates to approximately 21 percent, U.S. industry would be able to operate at 80 percent of their capacity utilization. Achieving this level of capacity utilization based on the projected 2017 import levels will require reducing imports from 36 million metric tons to about 23 million metric tons. If a reduction in imports can be combined with an increase in domestic steel demand, as can be reasonably expected rising economic growth rates combined with the increased military spending and infrastructure proposals that the Trump Administration has planned, then U.S. steel mills can be expected to reach a capacity utilization level of 80 percent or greater. This increase in U.S. capacity utilization will enable U.S. steel mills to increase operations significantly in the short-term and improve the financial viability of the industry over the long-term.

Recommendation to Ensure Sustainable Capacity Utilization and Financial Health

Impose a Quota or Tariff on all steel products covered in this investigation imported into the United States to remove the threatened impairment to national security. The Secretary recommends adjusting the level of imports through a quota or tariff on steel imported into the United States.

Alternative 1 – Global Quota or Tariff

1A.      Global Quota

Impose quotas on all imported steel products at a specified percent of the 2017 import level, applied on a country and steel product basis.

According to the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Model, produced by Purdue University, a 63 percent quota would be expected to reduce steel imports by 37 percent (13.3 million metric tons) from 2017 levels. Based on imports from January to October, import levels for 2017 are projected to reach 36.0 million metric tons. The quotas, adjusted as necessary, would result in imports equaling about 22.7 million metric tons, which will enable an 80 percent capacity utilization rate at 2017 demand levels (including exports). Application of an annual quota will reduce the impact of the surge in steel imports that has occurred since the beginning of 2017.

1B.      Global Tariff

Apply a tariff rate on all imported steel products, in addition to any antidumping or countervailing duty collections applicable to any imported steel product.

Similar to what is anticipated under a quota, according to the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Model, produced by Purdue University, a 24 percent tariff on all steel imports would be expected to reduce imports by 37 percent (i.e., a reduction of 13.3 million metric tons from 2017 levels of 36.0 million metric tons). This tariff rate would thus result in imports equaling about 22.7 million metric tons, which will enable an 80 percent capacity utilization rate at 2017 demand levels (including exports).

Alternative 2 –Tariffs on a Subset of Countries

Apply a tariff rate on all imported steel products from Brazil, South Korea, Russia, Turkey, India, Vietnam, China, Thailand, South Africa, Egypt, Malaysia and Costa Rica, in addition to any antidumping or countervailing duty collections applicable to any steel products from those countries. All other countries would be limited to 100 percent of their 2017 import level.

According to the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) Model, produced by Purdue University, a 53 percent tariff on all steel imports from this subset of countries would be expected to reduce imports by 13.3 million metric tons from 2017 import levels from the targeted countries. This action would enable an increase in domestic production to achieve an 80 percent capacity utilization rate at 2017 demand levels (including exports). The countries identified are projected to account for less than 4 percent of U.S. steel exports in 2017.

Exemptions

In selecting an alternative, the President could determine that specific countries should be exempted from the proposed 63 percent quota or 24 percent tariff by granting those specific countries 100 percent of their prior imports in 2017, based on an overriding economic or security interest of the United States. The Secretary recommends that any such determination should be made at the outset and a corresponding adjustment be made to the final quota or tariff imposed on the remaining countries. This would ensure that overall imports of steel to the United States remain at or below the level needed to enable the domestic steel industry to operate as a whole at an 80 percent or greater capacity utilization rate. The limitation to 100 percent of each exempted country’s 2017 imports is necessary to prevent exempted countries from producing additional steel for export to the United States or encouraging other countries to seek to trans-ship steel to the United States through the exempted countries.

It is possible to provide exemptions from either the quota or tariff and still meet the necessary objective of increasing U.S. steel capacity utilization to a financially viable target of 80 percent. However, to do so would require a reduction in the quota or increase in the tariff applied to the remaining countries to offset the effect of the exempted import tonnage.

Exclusions

The Secretary recommends an appeal process by which affected U.S. parties could seek an exclusion from the tariff or quota imposed. The Secretary would grant exclusions based on a demonstrated: (1) lack of sufficient U.S. production capacity of comparable products; or (2) specific national security based considerations. This appeal process would include a public comment period on each exclusion request, and in general, would be completed within 90 days of a completed application being filed with the Secretary.

An exclusion may be granted for a period to be determined by the Secretary and may be terminated if the conditions that gave rise to the exclusion change. The U.S. Department of Commerce will lead the appeal process in coordination with the Department of Defense and other agencies as appropriate. Should exclusions be granted the Secretary would consider at the time whether the quota or tariff for the remaining products needs to be adjusted to increase U.S. steel capacity utilization to a financially viable target of 80 percent.”

RETALIATION??

On February 17, 2018, the Chinese government threatened retaliation if President Trump imposes import restrictions on steel imports.  On February 20, 2018, EC officials stated that they would react “swiftly and appropriately” to Section 232 tariffs placed on EC steel imports into the US.  See https://www.express.co.uk/news/world/921415/harley-davidson-jack-daniels-trade-sanctions-european-union-trade-war-us.

Two of the EC retaliation targets would be Harley Davidson motorcycles and Jack Daniels Bourbon.

WILL PRESIDENT TRUMP IMPOSE IMPORT RESTRICTIONS IN THE SECTION 232 STEEL CASE BY APRIL 11?

My firm belief is that Trump will impose import restraints and the only question is how tough they will be.  Although other commentators have suggested that President Trump might punt and bring a WTO case or more antidumping and countervailing duty cases, my belief is that President Trump wants to levy tariffs because that is what he promised his base. “Damn the torpedoes full speed ahead”.  Trump also believes that all steel imported into the US is dumped and subsidized as the Commerce Department finds dumping and subsidization in almost 100% of the cases.

On February 13th, Breitbart in an article entitled “Chinese Steel Dumping Takes Center Stage as President Trump Mulls Tariffs, Quotas” quoted President Trump in a meeting at the White House with both parties in the House and the Senate:

“Last year, I directed the Secretary of Commerce to investigate whether steel and aluminum imports are threatening to impair U.S. national security,” Trump said. “You see what’s happened with our steel and aluminum industries. They are being decimated by dumping from many countries—in particular one, but many countries.”

That “particular one” Trump was referring to is China. Trump said:

“They are dumping and destroying our industry and destroying the families of workers and we can’t let that happen. Secretary Ross submitted the result of the investigation to me last month. My administration is now reviewing the reports and considering all options. Part of the options would be tariffs coming in as they dump steel, they pay tariffs—substantial tariffs—and the United States would actually make a lot of money, and probably our steel industry and our aluminum industry would come back into our country. Right now, it’s decimated. It will make a decision and I will make a decision that reflects the best interests of the United States including the need to address over-production in China and other countries. You have countries that are so over-producing and what they’re doing is they’re dumping it on us and you look at what empty steel factories and plants and it’s a very sad thing to look at. I’ve been looking at it for two years as I went around campaigning.”

But on February 13th, International Trade 360 in an article entitled, “Lawmakers Caution Trump On Steel Trade Restrictions,” reported:

“A bipartisan group of 19 lawmakers from both chambers of Congress met with Trump at the White House, in a session that was slated to take place behind closed doors before it was abruptly opened up to media members. During the meeting, Trump made clear he is still actively considering import curbs on steel and aluminum in a pair of closely watched cases.

“I want to keep prices down, but I also want to make sure that we have a steel industry and an aluminum industry, and we do need that for national defense. If we ever have a conflict, we don’t want to be buying steel for a country we are fighting … What we are talking about is tariffs and/or quotas,” he said at the meeting. . . .

Though the statute is meant to exclusively address a security threat, the administration has repeatedly signaled that it may use the law as a cudgel against unfairly traded goods. Trump did this again during Tuesday’s meeting, saying that foreign steel and aluminum producers are “dumping and decimating our industries.”

While domestic steel and aluminum producers have repeatedly urged the administration to move forward with steep import restrictions, downstream manufacturers and other stakeholders have preached caution.

Leading that charge at Tuesday’s meeting was Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., who said that the president must thread a delicate needle.

“We need to be careful here that we don’t start a reciprocal battle on tariffs,” Blunt said. “We make aluminum, and we make steel in Missouri, but we buy a lot of aluminum, and we buy a lot of steel as well.”

In one exchange, Sen. Pat Toomey (R‐Pa.) pressed Trump to move “very, very cautiously” and to only go after countries that engage in unfair trading practices. “That’s all countries,” Trump replied.

Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., echoed Blunt’s concerns, urging the president to “go very, very cautiously here.”

In another, Sen. Mike Lee (R‐Utah) warned that restrictions could cost jobs in other industries, but the president dismissed his concerns. “It will create a lot of jobs,” Trump said.

House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, gave an even blunter assessment of the situation. He likened the Section 232 process to the use of “old- fashioned chemotherapy,” remarking that “it can often do as much damage as good.”

As other lawmakers warned that any tariff hikes or other restrictions could ultimately raise prices on consumers, Trump seemed mostly undeterred, opting instead to focus on the steel and aluminum production jobs such a move might salvage.

“You may have a higher price, but you have jobs,” he said.

“If we ever have a conflict, we don’t want to be buying steel from a country that we’re fighting because somehow that doesn’t work very well,” Trump said at the meeting. “We hopefully will not have any conflicts but … we cannot be without a steel industry. We cannot be without an aluminum industry. So what we’re talking about is tariffs and/or quotas.”

On February 19, 2018, in an editorial the Wall Street Journal warned President Trump on the Section 232 Cases:

“How to Punish American Workers

Steel and aluminum tariffs would cost more jobs than they save.

The economy is picking up steam, but President Trump could reduce the benefits of his tax cuts and regulatory rollback with protectionism. This risk became more serious after the Commerce Department on Friday recommended broad restrictions on aluminum and steel imports that would punish American businesses and consumers. . . .

But the evidence in Commerce’s reports belies this conclusion. And the wide-ranging economic damage from restricting imports would overwhelm the narrow benefits to U.S. steel and aluminum makers.

Start with national security, which Commerce construes broadly to include “economic welfare.” There’s little risk that the U.S. couldn’t procure sufficient steel and aluminum for defense even during a war. Defense consumes 3% of U.S.-made steel and about one-fifth of high-purity aluminum. U.S. steel mills last year operated at 72% of capacity while aluminum smelters ran at 39%. Both have ample slack to raise production for defense and commercial demands. . . .

Commerce nonetheless complains that China has driven down steel and aluminum prices by flooding the global market. Yet Commerce has already imposed 164 anti-dumping and countervailing duties on steel imports including more than two dozen on China. The department has also slapped tariffs on Chinese aluminum. Despite these tariffs, Commerce says rising imports “continue to weaken the U.S. steel industry’s financial health.”

Perhaps Mr. Ross missed the domestic manufacturers’ rosy earnings reports last month. Nucor ’s earnings soared by two-thirds in 2017 to $1.3 billion amid a 35% spike in the price of scrap metal. Steel Dynamics reported record sales, income and shipments last year. Even U.S. Steel posted a $387 million profit after a $440 million loss in 2016. Tariffs have padded profits amid growing U.S. demand.

As for aluminum, 18 smelters have shut down over the last decade amid rising electricity and declining aluminum prices. But production of secondary aluminum from scrap metal has been increasing, resulting in a 3% increase in employment across the industry between 2013 and 2016.

As a remedy for this non-problem, Commerce is proposing a global tariff of 24% on all steel imports; a 53% tariff on a dozen countries including China, Turkey and South Korea; or a global quota equaling 63% of existing imports. For aluminum, Commerce wants a global tariff of 7.7%; a 23.6% tariff on imports from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela, and Vietnam; or a global quota equal to 86.7% of imports.

Each option would raise prices for U.S. industries such as construction, transportation and mining. About 16 times more workers are employed today in U.S. steel-consuming industries than the 140,000 American steelworkers. Economists Joseph Francois and Laura Baughman found that more U.S. workers lost jobs (200,000) due to George W. Bush’s 2002 steel tariffs than were employed by the entire steel industry (187,500) at the time. Job losses hit Ohio (10,553 jobs lost), Michigan (9,829) and Pennsylvania (8,400).

About a quarter of a car’s cost is tied to steel, which is also a key component of domestically-produced wood chipper knives used in lumber, sawmills and landscaping. The oil-and-gas industry uses steel in drilling equipment, pipelines, production facilities, terminals and refineries. Aluminum inputs make up nearly half of the cost of a beer can.

Raising the cost of steel and aluminum inputs would impel many manufacturers to move production abroad to stay competitive globally. Does Mr. Trump want more cars made in Mexico? Mr. Ross has suggested letting businesses petition the government to exclude certain steel and aluminum products from the quotas or tariffs. But this review would be politicized and cause production delays.

Oh, and don’t forget that other countries could retaliate with trade barriers that hurt American exporters.

Commerce’s recommendations aren’t needed since the steel and aluminum industries are benefiting tremendously from Mr. Trump’s economic agenda. Tax reform is making it less expensive to retool mills, increased defense spending will also lift demand, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s withdrawal of the Obama Clean Power Plan contains electric prices. Why would Mr. Trump undercut his achievements with trade barriers that harm American workers and consumers?”

RETALIATION TARGETS ARE BEING PLANNED

EUROPEAN UNION

Axel Eggert, director general of the EUROFER steel lobby, warned the U.S. not to “pull the trigger on a new trade war,” adding: “The EU has an arsenal of trade remedies and safeguards available to defend its interests. These can be ready to launch in very short order in response to an economic threat, and EU industry will demand their immediate application.”

Gerd Götz, director general of the European Aluminum association, said that none of Ross’ proposed measures would address the root of the problem, which is Chinese overproduction, but instead do “great harm to Europe” ‐ to which the EU would then have to react by imposing trade restrictions, too.  Gotz stated: “We call on the EU to be ready to protect our strategic sectors.”

US GROUPS RAISE RETALIATION CONCERNS

“Business Roundtable also stated that it is concerned that acting on the Commerce Department’s recommendations to use Section 232 to restrict steel and aluminum imports will result in foreign retaliation against U.S. exporters and harm the U.S. economy.

The American Automotive Policy Council, which represents Ford, General Motors and Chrysler‐Fiat, asked Trump to fashion a solution that won’t “diminish the global competitiveness of America’s automotive industry” by leading American carmakers to pay higher prices for steel and aluminum. This would place the U.S. automotive industry, which supports more than 7 million American jobs, at a competitive disadvantage.”

The American Institute for International Steel, which represents foreign steel producers, made the same point and urged Trump to reject Ross’ recommendations, rather than “risk the nation’s well‐being in order to benefit a few politically favored companies.”

AIIS Chairman John Foster stated:

“The national security foundation for the recommended tariffs and quotas is simply an unfortunate attempt to circumvent normally applicable WTO rules.  If the United States chooses to abandon long‐standing principles of free trade that we have helped establish, and that have contributed so much to our national prosperity, Pandora’s box will be opened, and other countries will be sure to assert ‘national security’ reasons for protecting many other politically sensitive products from export competition.

The retaliatory measures that will follow will drive up manufacturing costs, inflate prices, shrink high‐value U.S. exports, and push the United States and the world toward recession.”

On February 21st, in Investors Business Daily in a op-ed piece entitled “Seriously, Steel Industry Protection Is The Wrong Way To Go“, Vernonique de Rugy and Christine A. McDaniel stated:

Their justification is that Chinese and other foreign steel producers benefit from unfair subsidies in their own countries. As a result of foreign competition, domestic steel’s market share is down to 70%. Numbers like this would make any other business owner’s head spin, but these executives think they deserve more. . . .

But for years this industry has avoided competition. As a result, they have not taken the tough steps needed to lean up and succeed on their own. With decades of special protections, billions in subsidies, and bloated executive compensation packages, it is no wonder U.S. producers are not competitive in this market with a low-wage country like China.

Thanks to his statements like last summer’s “Tariffs. I want tariffs,” these well- organized domestic steel executives see an opportunity with a president overly sympathetic to their pleas.

In an ideal world, no government would bankroll domestic companies. The urge to protect our own people against aggressive foreign subsidies is understandable, but not all protections actually help our country.

In particular, import taxes are known to be a net negative for the overall U.S. economy, and with intermediate inputs like steel the costs are more severe. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show that 5.4 million workers are directly employed by steel-using sectors. The American Iron and Steel Institute reports that the steel industry directly employs 140,000 people in the United States. . . .

The steel industry’s historic unwillingness to compete and the government’s continued handouts are why they are in such poor shape today. It is why they are at the doorstep of the White House yet again asking the president, along with every American consumer, for help.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

ALUMINUM

The full Section 232 Commerce report on aluminum is attached, the_effect_of_imports_of_aluminum_on_the_national_security_-_with_redactions_-_20180117.  The attached Commerce Department Summary statement on the Aluminum report, Section 232 Reports _ Department of Commerce, states as follows:

Key Findings of the Aluminum Report:

Aluminum imports have risen to 90% of total demand for primary aluminum, up from 66% in 2012. From 2013 to 2016 aluminum industry employment fell by 58%, 6 smelters shut down, and only two of the remaining 5 smelters are operating at capacity, even though demand has grown considerably.

At today’s reduced military spending, military consumption of aluminum is a small percentage of total consumption and therefore is insufficient by itself to preserve the viability of the smelters. For example, there is only one remaining U.S. producer of the high-quality aluminum alloy needed for military aerospace. Infrastructure, which is necessary for our economic security, is a major use of aluminum.

The Commerce Department has recently brought trade cases to try to address the dumping of aluminum. As of February 15, 2018, the U.S. had two antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place on aluminum, both against China, and there are four ongoing investigations against China.

Recommendations of the Aluminum Report:

Secretary Ross has recommended to President Trump three alternative remedies for dealing with the excessive imports of aluminum. These would cover both aluminum ingots and a wide variety of aluminum products.

A tariff of at least 7.7% on all aluminum exports from all countries, or

A tariff of 23.6% on all products from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam. All the other countries would be subject to quotas equal to 100% of their 2017 exports to the United States, or

A quota on all imports from all countries equal to a maximum of 86.7% of their 2017 exports to the United States.

Each of the three proposals is intended to raise production of aluminum from the present 48% average capacity to 80%, a level that would provide the industry with long-term viability. Each remedy applies measures to all countries and all steel products to prevent circumvention.

The tariffs and quotas would be in addition to any duties already in place. The report recommends that a process be put in place to allow the Secretary to grant requests from U.S. companies to exclude specific products if the U.S. lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations.

Any exclusions granted could result in changed tariffs or quotas for the remaining products to maintain the overall effect.

SECTION 201 ESCAPE CLAUSE SOLAR CELLS/WASHING MACHINE DECISIONS

On January 22, 2018 the United States Trade Representative’s office (“USTR”) announced affirmative Section 201 decisions in the Solar Cells and Washing Machines cases and issued tariffs.

But one interesting point is that the Suniva, the US company that filed the Section 201 Solar Cells case, is majority owned by a Chinese Solar Manufacturer, Shunfeng International Clean Energy Ltd.

The remedies for the two Section 201 are specifically set forth below.

SOLAR CELLS

In the Solar Cells case, the remedy is:

Safeguard Tariffs on Imported Solar Cells and Modules
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3 Year 4
Tariff increase 30% 25% 20% 15%
  • First 2.5 gigawatt of imported cells are excluded from the additional tariff

But in talking to one small solar cell importer, at the most during the year they import a total of 1 megawatt.  This tells me that the new tariffs first will not be retroactive and second probably will kick in after several months each year, when total imports reach the 2.5 Gigawatt level.  According to the Presidential Proclamation, however, the 30% tariff wasapplied to imports starting February 7, 2018.

The 201 tariffs are applicable to imports from almost all countries, including China, Malaysia, Germany, Canada and Mexico, except for the countries excluded in the Annex attached to the Presidential Proclamation.  In future years, when total imports of solar cells and modules reach the 2.5 gigawatt level, the new tariff kicks in.  So, for example, if total imports of solar cells and modules into the US reach the 2.5 gigawatt level on May 15, 2019, imports after that will be hit with a tariff.

WASHING MACHINES

The Washing Machines Remedy is set forth below.  This is similar to the Solar Cells Remedy in the sense that the first 1.2 million washers will have a lower tariff and the higher tariff will not kick in until after total imports reach the 1.2 million unit level.

Also 50,000 units of covered parts are excluded from the tariff.

Tariff-Rate Quotas on Washers
Year 1 Year 2 Year 3
First 1.2 million units of imported

finished washers

20% 18% 16%
All subsequent imports of finished

washers

50% 45% 40%
Tariff of covered parts 50% 45% 40%
Covered parts excluded from tariff 50,000 units 70,000 units 90,000 units

So the point of both remedies is import quickly into the US market.  The first imports into the country in the Solar Cells case will have no tariff and in the Washing Machines case will have a lower tariff.

JANUARY 25 PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION AND EXCLUSION NOTICE IN FEDERAL REGISTER

On January 25th, the Solar Cells Presidential Proclamation with Annexes and exclusions was published in the attached Federal Register notice, FEDERAL REGISTER NOTICE PRESIDENTIAL PROCLAMATION SOLAR CELLS.  According to the Annex I (f), the 30% tariff was applied to imports starting February 7, 2018.

In addition, a number of countries are excluded in Annex 1(b) from the tariff, including India, Ukraine, Indonesia, Turkey and many other countries, so long as their share of imports does not exceed 3%.

On February 14, 2018, the United States Trade Representative’s office (“USTR”) published the attached Federal Register notice, USTR EXCLUSION FED REG NOTICE, and allows companies to petition for exclusion by March 16.  The Federal Register also sets forth a number of exclusions, which were already set forth in the Proclamation.

EXCLUSIONS IN ANNEXES

Some of those exclusions are:

“Presidential Proclamation 9693 of January 23, 2018 (83 FR 3541) excluded certain particular products:

10 to 60 watt, inclusive, rectangular solar panels, where the panels have the following characteristics: (A) Length of 250 mm or more but not over 482 mm or width of 400 mm or more but not over 635 mm, and (B) surface area of 1000 cm2 or more but not over 3,061 cm2), provided that no such panel with those characteristics shall contain an internal battery or external computer peripheral ports at the time of entry;

1 watt solar panels incorporated into nightlights that use rechargeable batteries and have the following dimensions: 58 mm or more but not over 64 mm by 126 mm or more but not over 140 mm;

2 watt solar panels incorporated into daylight dimmers, that may use rechargeable batteries, such panels with the following dimensions: 75 mm or more but not over 82 mm by 139 mm or more but not over 143 mm;

Off-grid and portable CSPV panels, whether in a foldable case or in rigid form containing a glass cover, where the panels have the following characteristics: (a) A total power output of 100 watts or less per panel; (b) a maximum surface area of 8,000 cm2 per panel; (c) does not include a built-in inverter; and where the panels have glass covers, such panels must be in individual retail packaging (in this context, retail packaging typically includes graphics, the product name, its description and/or features, and foam for transport);

3.19 watt or less solar panels, each with length of 75 mm or more but not over 266 mm and width of 46 mm or more but not over 127 mm, with surface area of 338 cm2 or less, with one black wire and one red wire (each of type 22 AWG or 24 AWG) not more than 206 mm in length when measured from panel edge, provided that no such panel shall contain an internal battery or external computer peripheral ports;

27.1 watt or less solar panels, each with surface area less than 3,000 cm2 and coated across the entire surface with a polyurethane doming resin, the foregoing joined to a battery charging and maintaining unit, such unit which is an acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (‘‘ABS’’) box that incorporates a light emitting diode (‘‘LED’’) by coated wires that include a connector to permit the incorporation of an extension cable.”

Emphasis added.

One exclusion that many companies are looking at is “off-grid and portable CSPV panels”, but there are a number of conditions quoted above that must be met to exclude the products in question.

Also the February 14th notice set up a number of criteria that must be met to get any additional exclusion from the Order.

COUNTRIES REQUEST TRADE COMPENSATION AT THE WORLD TRADE ORGANIZATION (“WTO”) FOR SECTION 201 TARIFFS

Article 8.1 of the WTO Agreement on Safeguards, which includes Section 201 tariffs, requires countries proposing to impose a safeguard measure, like Trump’s restrictions on solar and washing machine imports, to compensate other WTO member countries for trade losses. That could be in the form of reduced duties on products of interest to those countries.

The EU, China, Taiwan and Korea have formally asked the U.S. to discuss compensation for trade losses due to President Donald Trump’s safeguard measures on solar cells.

If no agreement is reached on compensation within 30 days of their requests, the EU, China, Taiwan and South Korea can begin proceedings to impose retaliatory tariffs on the U.S. However, the parties would first need to prove to a WTO dispute settlement panel that the U.S. applied the restrictions in a way that violated the safeguards agreement.

In the past, the US has lost a number of Section 201 cases at the WTO for imposing tariffs in a manner that violated the safeguards agreement.

In addition, several Canadian solar manufacturers on Wednesday filed a case at the Court of International Trade in New York City challenging the Trump administration’s imposition of tariffs. The companies say the tariff violates NAFTA and they say the majority of the International Trade Commission found that Canadian solar manufacturers did not constitute a sufficient quantity of U.S. solar imports as to cause injury. They call on the court to enjoin the tariffs and then ask for an expedited resolution of the case.

SOLAR CELLS AND SOLAR PRODUCTS ANTIDUMPING/COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

POSSIBLE EXCLUSIONS??

The Commerce Department in the attached preliminary determination in late December, REVOCATION OF SOLAR CELLS ORDER, proposed to exclude certain small solar cells from the Antidumping and Countervailing Duty orders.  Specifically, the proposed exclusion is:

“Excluded from the scope of these orders are panels with surface area from 3,450 mm2 to 33,782 mm2 with one black wire and one red wire (each of type 22 AWG or 24 AWG not more than 206 mm in length when measured from panel extrusion), and not exceeding 2.9 volts, 1.1 amps, and 3.19 watts. No panel shall contain an internal battery or external computer peripheral ports.”

So exclusions are also happening from the AD and CVD orders.

2016-2017 SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING/COUNTERVAILING DUTY REVIEW INVESTIGATIONS

On February 23, 2018, Commerce published its attached Federal Register notice initiating the 2016-2017 Solar Cells Review Investigation, CHINA SOLAR CELLS REVIEW INITIATION NOTICE.  In that review, Quantity and Value Questionnaire responses are due at Commerce by March 6, 2018.

NEW SECTION 232 CASE AGAINST URANIUM IMPORTS

On January 16th, Ur-Energy USA Inc. and Energy Fuels Resources Inc. filed a section 232 petition at Commerce claiming that imports of uranium from state-owned and state-subsidized companies in Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan now fulfill 40 percent of U.S. demand, compared to the less than 5 percent satisfied by U.S. production. The Denver-based companies claim that imports from China will grow in the coming years. The companies also argue the volume of imports from Russia will only grow after a decades-old agreement that restricted imports from that country in exchange for suspending anti-dumping duties expires in 2020.  The Petition states:

“The U.S. uranium industry needs immediate relief from imports that have grown dramatically and captured almost 80% of annual U.S. uranium demand. Our country cannot afford to depend on foreign sources — particularly Russia, and those in its sphere of influence, and China — for the element that provides the backbone of our nuclear deterrent, powers the ships and submarines of America’s nuclear Navy, and supplies 20% of the nation’s electricity.”

ITC STUNNER—BOEING LOSES INJURY CASE IN BOMBADIER CIVIL AIRCRAFT CASE AT INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION (“ITC”)

In the attached decision, ITC-Public-Opinion-Aircraft, on February 13, 2018, in a stunning reversal, the ITC reached a negative, no injury, determination in the Civil Aircraft from Canada/Bombardier antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  In those cases, the Commerce Department had determined that the Canadian government had given subsidies of over 200% to Bombardier and because Bombardier refused to participate at the Commerce Department in the antidumping case, very high dumping margins.

But for the Commerce Department to issue antidumping and countervailing duty orders and for Boeing to win the Antidumping (“AD”) and Countervailing Duty (“CVD”) cases, it had to win the injury case at the ITC.  The ITC found no competition between the Canadian imports and Boeing’s planes and reached a negative, no injury, determination.  When Boeing lost the case at the ITC, it truly lost the case.  The case was terminated and over with.

Prior to the ITC determination, I had predicted that there was a 95% chance that ITC would reach an affirmative, injury determination.  What was the basis for my prediction and why did I get it wrong?  The ITC reaches injury/affirmative determinations in about 2/3 of the cases or about 66%.  But in big ticket cases, like Steel, Lumber and other cases, the ITC goes affirmative in a vast majority of them.  Also in this case, Bombardier had refused to participate in the AD case at Commerce.  That is not looked on kindly by the ITC Commissioners.

But the February 13th decision by the ITC was a true shocker and a real Boeing loss.  One Commissioner, Williamson, is very pro domestic industry.  In many cases where the ITC reaches a negative, no injury, determination, Commissioner Williamson will vote with the domestic industry.  But the ITC decision was a 4-0 unanimous no injury determination.  Why and what does this decision stand for?

First, pursuant to the Statute, the ITC is made up of 6 Commissioners, no more than 3 Commissioners from the same political party.  Right now, however, there are only 4 Commissioners on the ITC and none were appointed by President Trump.  3 Commissioners were appointed by President Obama and Commissioner Williamson originally was appointed by President George W. Bush.

The ITC is a very independent agency, possibly the most independent agency in the US Government because under the Constitution Congress controls trade, not the President.  So Congress wanted its own trade agency and it set up the ITC.  The ITC’s budget goes directly to Congress and does not go through the Administration’s Office of Management and Budget, and the ITC in contrast to every other government agency has the right to represent itself in Court.

The point being is that the ITC is very insulated from trade politics and President Trump has no direct control over the agency.  But more importantly, the ITC’s decision in the Boeing case was a legal determination.  When you read the ITC’s determination, it becomes very clear that the ITC found that imports of 100 to 150 seat aircraft from Canada did not compete with Boeing’s aircraft because Boeing produces bigger airplanes.  Because there were so very few sales in the case, the Commission could zero in on those few sales to Delta.  Based on those sales, the ITC simply could not find enough economic competition between the Canadian imports and Boeing’s planes to justify an affirmative injury determination.

As the Commission stated in certain relevant pages of its determination:

“Nevertheless, the record also shows that the higher standard seating capacity of the [Boeing] 737-700 and 737 MAX 7 limits competition between those models and the [BOMBARDIER] CS100 for some purchasers. Boeing has emphasized that airlines have a strong economic incentive to minimize empty seats by using LCA that are no larger than necessary on particular flights because using an LCA with more seats than required would result in unfilled seats, higher costs per seat, and lower profits. Respondents agree. In a standard two-class configuration, the seat count differential between the CS100 and the 737 MAX 7 is 30 seats, which is greater than the 24 seat differential between the 737 MAX 7 and the 737-800 that Boeing characterizes as significant “for airlines that try to fill every seat on every flight they operate.” Given this, there can be limited competition between the CS100 and the 737-700 and MAX 7 for sales to a purchaser seeking 100- to 150-seat LCA with a seat count toward the low end of the subject range.

The record shows that differences in seat count precluded competition between subject imports and the domestic like product for the only firm order for C Series LCA by a U.S. purchaser. . . .

In sum, we find that there is a likelihood of substantially increased subject import volume and market share based on Bombardier’s single sale for importation of subject planes during the period of investigation. Given that Boeing’s 100- to 150-seat LCA did not meet the purchaser’s requirements for this sale, however, and Boeing did not offer any new aircraft for this sale, we do not find that Bombardier secured this sale at Boeing’s expense. There is also insufficient evidence for us to conclude that Bombardier is likely to secure additional sales for importation of subject 100- to 150-seat LCA in the imminent future, or that any purchases of subject imports in the imminent future would likely be at the domestic industry’s expense. . . .

Based on the preceding considerations, we conclude that subject imports are not likely to have a significant adverse impact on the domestic industry in the imminent future. It is likely that any subject imports that enter in the imminent future would be the result of Bombardier’s single U.S. sale during the period of investigation for which Boeing was not directly competitive. Bombardier has not made any additional sales in the United States. There is insufficient evidence for us to conclude that additional orders for 100- to 150-seat LCA are imminent, that Bombardier would secure these orders, or that any orders secured by Bombardier would come at Boeing’s expense. We are mindful of the statutory requirement that a threat determination may not be made on the basis of mere conjecture or supposition, and thus do not find threat of material injury by reason of subject imports.

  1. Conclusion

For the reasons stated above, we determine that an industry in the United States is not threatened with material injury by reason of imports of 100- to 150-seat LCA from Canada that are sold in the United States at less than fair value and that are subsidized by the GOC.”

Emphasis added.

TWO IMPORTANT POINTS ABOUT THE ITC DETERMINATOIN AND BOEING’S LOSS

The importance of the Boeing negative determination is to make two very important points.  First AD and CVD cases are not nearly as political as you would think.  They are legal determinations, and the ITC can reach a negative no injury determination and turn the entire case off.

The second point is that many respondents in trade cases, especially in China, India and elsewhere, do not understand how important the ITC is in AD and CVD proceedings.  Many respondents simply give up at the ITC.  Bombardier, however, fought the Boeing case during the entire proceeding and mobilized companies and governments to speak out at the ITC about the case in favor of the respondents.  This evened out the playing ground and made it easier for the ITC to reach a negative injury determination if it was inclined to do so.  Bombardier also made sure that there was enough evidence on the ITC’s administrative record to make sure the ITC had the evidence to reach a negative determination.

Although fighting an ITC case takes time, resources and a lot of money to hire lawyers and consultants, Bombardier’s win at the ITC is a total victory.  The case has ended and Boeing lost the case.

BOEING’S WTO FIGHT WITH AIRBUS COULD PROVIDE MORE TRADE RETALIATION

On February 11, 2018 the Seattle Times in an article entitledBoeing’s biggest trade fight could spark a U.S. confrontation with Europe” went on to state about the next big trade fight by Boeing against Airbus and the EC:

“Boeing’s lawyers, still smarting from the shock of losing their U.S. trade- court case against Bombardier’s C Series jets, are now awaiting an imminent ruling in a bigger trade fight over government subsidies.

In a case against Airbus that’s slogged on for nearly 15 years and has seemed endless, Boeing now insists it’s within sight of a final victory.

And though the dispute long predates President Donald Trump, his administration’s hard-nosed “America First” posture on trade disputes – ready to impose tariffs rather than negotiating settlements – adds a new edge of rancor and risk.

The U.S. filed suit against Airbus at the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2004, and since then the gears of that court have ground slowly without any perceivable impact.

Yet Boeing’s top lawyer, Michael Luttig, said in an interview that the law is about to catch up with Airbus and the European Union (EU).

“Boeing committed itself some 15 years ago … and it has never blinked since,” said Luttig. “Today, we are months away from the imposition of tariffs.”

Airbus is staring back, also refusing to blink

A senior Airbus executive and trade lawyer, who asked not to be named because of the continuing legal proceedings, compared Luttig’s threat of tariffs to “a nuclear strike” and pointed to the parallel EU case before the WTO that accuses Boeing of taking subsidies.

“The EU would be well-prepared to respond in kind and with much greater force,” said the Airbus legal executive. “The EU will survive that first nuclear strike and will retaliate with megatons to the U.S.’s kilotons.”

In a speech in London last month, Airbus CEO Tom Enders said that under Trump, the U.S. is “no longer fighting for opening markets but to close the U.S. market to foreign competitors.”

Citing the CSeries case, he accused Boeing of “ruthlessly surfing on this ‘America-First’ wave.”

The risk that a multinational trade war could erupt with some of the nation’s closest allies looks suddenly higher.

A WTO endgame

In September 2016, after multiple procedural steps and appeals, the last ruling in the United States’ WTO case against Airbus found that the European jet maker had fallen far short of remedying the harm to Boeing from illegal subsidies.

The EU immediately appealed. What’s ahead this year, by late spring, is the final decision on that appeal.

Boeing’s lawyers expect the court to largely uphold the 2016 decision

And Boeing says, that’s it. It’s the end of the appeals.

If Airbus loses, said Bob Novick, Boeing’s outside counsel on the WTO dispute since 2003 and former general counsel to the U.S. Trade Representative, the U.S. would then immediately request authorization to impose retaliatory sanctions.  Boeing anticipates that the WTO will set the level of sanctions at $10 billion to $15 billion.

The U.S. government could then slap punitive tariffs up to that amount on whatever EU goods it selects for maximum political impact.

Boeing’s tough talk may be partly a negotiating ploy. Still, if the WTO hands this loaded weapon to the U.S. government, it’s unlikely the Trump administration’s trade hawks will be shy about using it.

Jeff Bialos, a partner in the international law firm Eversheds Sutherland and a former Commerce Department official handling major trade litigation, said that typically at such an endpoint in a trade dispute, the two governments would negotiate some agreed settlement.

“The issue is, will the Trump administration, with its views on trade . have the ability to negotiate solutions?” Bialos said. “The jury is out. We are going into uncharted waters.”

Bill Perry, a Seattle-based international trade lawyer with Harris Bricken and a former U.S. Commerce Department attorney, thinks Trump will take “a very hard line.”

He pointed to the administration’s imposition last month of tariffs on imported solar panels, to punish China for selling finished panels in the U.S. below their cost, and on washing machines, targeting Korean manufacturers.

“Could this be the first row of bricks in a protectionist wall Trump intends to put up?” Perry asked.

At the very least, the stage looks set for brinkmanship, if not an open trade war.

A duel with pistols drawn

Boeing lawyers expect the imminent threat of tariffs to focus minds in the EU and perhaps to precipitate settlement talks in which they would then have the upper hand.

The top Airbus executive warned that Boeing is on the hook for its own illegal subsidies in the parallel WTO case filed by the EU – and so whatever the U.S. does, the EU can and will match.

“Boeing can try for sanctions. And if they do, we will too,” he said.

In the EU case against Boeing, the last ruling in June found that Boeing had failed to remedy the harm to Airbus from just one set of subsidies: the tax reduction that was part of Washington state’s aerospace incentives.

Boeing has appealed that ruling.

An awkward detail for the EU is that its case against Boeing was filed as a countersuit some nine months after the U.S. filed against Airbus, and so it lags the U.S. case by roughly that amount of time.

The decision on Boeing’s appeal won’t come out until late this year or even next year.  In the meantime, the U.S. may act.  The Airbus executive dismissed the delay between the cases – “a few months” – as insignificant. He compared it to a pistol duel, where one person gets to fire first, but knows that the other will survive and will get a chance to fire back.

The EU will have plenty of ammunition, he contended. When the time comes to add up the compensation needed, he said the EU will count every airplane Boeing sells, including future sales. “Every sale of a 787 is a subsidized sale and every one will count against Boeing when judgment day comes,” the Airbus executive said.

Trade war consequences

If Boeing’s 15-year pursuit of Airbus at the WTO has been tenacious, the legal attack it launched on Bombardier last April was even more fiercely aggressive. And even though it failed, pushing the case had consequences for Boeing.

Geoffrey Geertz, a researcher on the politics of trade at the Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institution, pointed out that in the Delta jet sale won by Bombardier’s CSeries that was central to the case, “there wasn’t much at stake” for Boeing because it wasn’t offering its own jets against the smaller aircraft.

Yet pursuing the case alienated both the Canadian and British governments, putting at risk large defense contracts, including a contract to supply Canada with F/A-18 jet fighters valued at more than $5 billion.  It also antagonized major commercial-airplane customer Delta. In a subsequent sales campaign in December that mattered much more to Boeing, Delta chose to go with Airbus when it bought100 larger planes.

“Boeing might be rethinking whether that was a miscalculation,” Geertz said.

An open trade war with major economic partners could be even more damaging, not only for Boeing but for the U.S.  That’s a belief central to traditional, pre-Trump Republican Party policy.

President Ronald Reagan in 1986 dismissed congressional demands for import tariffs as “flimflammery” and warned against the dangers of protectionism.

“The truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth,” Reagan said.

The unpredictable consequences of tariffs are evident in the case of REC Silicon, which produces polysilicon, a raw material used in making solar panels, at a $1.7 billion manufacturing plant in Moses Lake.

The Chinese solar-panel industry once imported polysilicon largely from the U.S.

But after an earlier round of the solar-panel trade fight, China in 2014 retaliated by imposing tariffs on U.S. polysilicon that forced REC to cut 500 jobs.

A letter sent to Trump by REC employees in early January said that “now the remaining jobs are at risk” and urged Trump to announce “a comprehensive settlement” with China.  Instead, Trump applied new tariffs. The risk is a tit or-tat response.

Last month, in retaliation for the Commerce Department’s initiation in December of a trade case against imports of aluminum sheet from China, the Chinese government started its own case against U.S. exports of sorghum grain to China.

“It signals the possible start of a trade war with China,” said trade lawyer Perry in a newsletter to clients this month. “There is a price to pay for U.S. tariffs and trade actions.”

Fight or settle?

No company is more dependent on free trade than Boeing, which sells both its commercial jets and its defense products worldwide.

Yet Boeing sees itself at a huge disadvantage against Airbus because of the types of subsidies the European jet maker has available.

Yes, Boeing gets tax breaks and so pays less tax on the income from the planes it rolls out each year. But it has to take all the risk and shoulder the multibillion-dollar cost when it develops a new airplane.

Airbus gets upfront government loans amounting to billions of dollars to defray the cost in advance – with no repayment necessary if the new airplane project fails.

Luttig insists that “there is no such thing as free trade unless all of the global industry participants abide by the rules.”

“Free trade is, by definition, trade in accordance with the rules of fair trade,” he added.

Airbus says it wants a different endgame to the WTO case: a negotiated settlement that would reset the rules.

The Airbus legal executive said a multinational deal could lay out agreed limits to government support in the aircraft industry for the long-term future.

“We sit down with all participants in this game, including the Chinese, the Russians, the Japanese, the Canadians, the Brazilians and maybe more, and have a good discussion globally,” he said.

Such an agreement might then constrain China’s behavior as its aviation champion COMAC develops future airplanes to compete against Boeing.

Brookings researcher Geertz said pursuing such a settlement makes sense because “the long-term game for Airbus and Boeing is figuring out what they are going to do about COMAC.”

In an interview at Boeing’s Chicago headquarters before the loss in the Bombardier case, Chief Executive Dennis Muilenburg steadfastly eyed his shorter-term target.

“Airbus, as has been determined through the WTO proceedings, has an unresolved more than $23 billion illegal subsidy that still needs to be addressed,” Muilenburg said. “We have to stand on a principle of global fair competition.”

Boeing’s case against Airbus may be stronger than the one against Bombardier.

Still, with one trade-court decision gone awry, Boeing’s leadership must now weigh anew the risks of a trade war against the likelihood that a legal victory could enforce a fair competitive landscape for the future.

BUT TRUMP’S ECONOMIC POLICIES TO DATE HAVE CREATED OTHER RAYS OF LIGHT—A ROARING ECONOMY WITH MANUFACTURING COMING BACK TO THE US—CUTTING TAXES AND REGULATIONS WORKS

As stated in the last blog post, probably the most important development from the trade point of view in the last few months, however, is the passage of the tax bill.  Trump’s economic policies along with the Tax Bill are leading to record economic growth and record unemployment.

On February 1, 2018, in an article entitled “300 firms giving tax cut bonus, Costco dismisses Pelosi’s ‘crumbs’ attack,” the Washington Examiner stated:

“The number of companies offering employees higher wages, expanded insurance and retirement benefits and cash bonuses up to $3,000 has surged to 300 as more see benefits from the new GOP tax cuts.

The payouts, praised by President Trump, are going to some 3 million employees.

Again on Thursday at a Massachusetts town hall, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi called the bonuses “crumbs.”

Not only are companies crediting Trump in their announcements, one major employer, Costco, disputed Democratic sneers that the bonuses are “crumbs” and hide bigger profits.

During a shareholders meeting this week, Costco chief Craig Jelinek said the attack by Pelosi was not “thoughtful.”

According to the National Center for Public Policy Research, the comments came in response to a question from their counsel Justin Danhof. What’s more, said Danhof, Jelinek said that critics were just “throwing stuff out there.”

The Costco executive noted that the wholesaler pays higher than average wages and added that the tax cuts may benefit customers.

The growing list of companies paying so-called “Trump bonuses” is at 300, according to list keeper Americans for Tax Reform and ATR Vice President John Kartch.

ATR President Grover Norquist said, “Every two weeks from February to November Americans will be reminded that one party cut their taxes and raised their pay. And the other tried to stop it.”

According to the Americans For Tax Reform, the actual number today February 23, 2018 is over 400 companies and includes the following companies:

“Plexus Corp., Solara Company, Kraft Heinz Company, CUNA Mutual Group, CarMax Inc., Valley Bank, Quake Manufacturing, Wirco Inc., Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, Prospector Hotel and Gambling Hall, Fontainebleau, Mission Produce, Mastercard Inc., Civista Bank, Gulf Power Company, Fidelity Bank, Dyersville Die Cast, Unum, Sheely’s Furniture and Appliance, Henry Schein, Inc., R+L Carriers, The Gateway Tavern, OneMain Holdings, Inc., The Stowaway, Duck Inn Pub, Sail Loft, Speedwell Tavern, Pilgrim Bank, Xante Corporation, J.M. Smucker Company, Iowa-American Water Co., Somerset Savings Bank, Amboy Bank, Citizens Bank of West Virginia, Dot Foods, Sound Financial Bancorp Inc., Pitney Bowes, Shred-X, LiDestri Food and Drink, U.S. Special Delivery, Huntington Ingalls Industries, Middlefield Banc Corp., Cintas Corporation, PepsiCo., Protective Life Corporation, St. John’s Properties Inc., Insperity, U-Haul, Leak Sealers, Mill Steel Company, Payne Trucking.”

Some of the other additional companies on the list are:

“1A Auto, Inc. (Westford, Massachusetts), 1st Source Corporation (South Bend, Indiana), 1st Summit Bank (Johnstown, Pennsylvania), AaLadin Industries, Inc. (Elk Point, South Dakota), AAON (Tulsa, Oklahoma), AbbVie, Inc. (North Chicago, Illinois), Adams Community Bank (Adams, Massachusetts), Advance Financial (Nashville, Tennessee), Advanced Sciences and Technologies, LLC (Berlin, New Jersey), Aflac (Columbus, Georgia), Ally Financial Inc. (Charlotte, North Carolina), Altria Group Inc. (Richmond, Virginia), Amarillo National Bank (Amarillo, Texas), Amboy Bank (Old Bridge, New Jersey), American Airlines (Ft. Worth, Texas), American Express (New York, New York), American Family Insurance (Madison, Wisconsin), Apple (Cupertino, California), AT&T (Dallas, Texas), AutoNation, Bank of America (Charlotte, North Carolina), BB&T (Winston-Salem, North Carolina), Best Buy (Richfield, Minnesota), Boeing Company (Chicago, Illinois), Cabot Oil & Gas Corporation (Houston, Texas), Capital One (McLean, Virginia), CarMax Inc. (Richmond, Virginia), The Charles Schwab Corporation (San Francisco, California), Charter Communications, Inc. (Stamford, Connecticut), Chipotle Mexican Grill (Denver, Colorado), Cigna Corporation (Bloomfield, Connecticut), Comcast (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania), Exxon Mobil, FedEx (Memphis, Tennessee), Fiat Chrysler (Auburn Hills, Michigan),  Home Depot (Atlanta, Georgia), Honeywell (Morris Plains, New Jersey), Hostess Brands, Inc. (Kansas City, Missouri), Humana (Louisville, Kentucky), Smucker Company (Orrville, Ohio), JPMorgan Chase & Co. (New York, New York), JetBlue (New York, New York), Kraft Heinz Company (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Chicago, Illinois), Lowes (Mooresville, North Carolina), Mastercard Inc. (Purchase, New York),  Merck (Kenilworth, New Jersey), MetLife Inc. (New York, New York), Nationwide Insurance (Columbus, Ohio), Pfizer Inc. (New York, New York).”

The point is that the entire list of companies providing bonuses, increases in 401Ks and other contributions to both employees and customers because of the tax bill is mind numbing.  The entire list can be found at Americans for Tax Reform at https://www.atr.org/list.     

One can disagree with President Trump, but the fact is he is putting money back into the average American’s pocket.

The good news keeps on coming.  On February 13th Bloomberg reported:

“Optimism among small companies in the U.S. rose more than forecast in January, fueled by a record number of owners who said now was a good time to expand, according to a National Federation of Independent Business survey released Tuesday.

Six of the 10 components that make up the small-business optimism index increased in January, producing one of the strongest readings in the 45-year history of the survey. The figures show sustained, sturdy business sentiment since the November 2016 election. A measure of plans to boost capital spending in coming months increased by 2 points to 29 percent, consistent with other data indicating robust outlays for equipment. One in five small companies said they plan to boost hiring, unchanged from the prior month, as finding qualified workers remains problematic and underscores a tight job market.The new tax law “produced the most recent boost to small-business optimism,” NFIB’s William Dunkelberg and Holly Wade said in a report. “And federal government-related cost pressures continue to abate, offering a more supportive business climate for small firms. Consumer spending remains supportive, and business spending and housing remain strong.”

The bottom line is that many average Americans are being affected positively by the Trump tax bill.  This may explain why on February 23rd the Rasmussen Reports stated that Trump’s popularity had shot to 50%.  The tax bill is a gift that will keep on giving to Trump and the Republican party.

SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA ON FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS

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

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) held a hearing on October 10th at the International Trade Commission.  During the October 10th hearing, only two US companies appeared to argue that their IP was stolen by Chinese government actions.

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

On January 18th, it was reported that President Trump was considering a big “fine” as punishment for China’s alleged theft of intellectual property.  In an interview, Trump stated,

“We have a very big intellectual property potential fine going, which is going to come out soon.”

Although Trump did not define what he means by “fine,” Section 301 allows the US to impose retaliatory tariffs on Chinese goods or other trade sanctions until China changes its policies.

Trump further stated:

“We’re talking about big damages. We’re talking about numbers that you haven’t even thought about.”

Trump said he will be discussing this action in his State of the Union address on January 30th.  Trump also recently stated that he hopes there will not be a trade war with China. “I don’t think so, I hope not. But if there is, there is.”

NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE AND PROBABLY WILL NOT BE TERMINATED

NAFTA negotiations continue and there is hope that the agreement will not be terminated.  But no one can say for certain at this time.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But TAA for Companies has been cut to the bone.  On August 22, 2017, the U.S. Commerce Department announced $13.3 Million to Boost Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers.

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

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

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

NEW RECENT TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

CAST IRON SOIL PIPE

On January 23, 2018, Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute filed antidumping and countervailing duty case against Certain Cast Iron Soil Pipe from China.

RUBBER BANDS

On January 30, 2018, Alliance Rubber Co. filed antidumping and countervailing duty cases against Certain Rubber Bands from Thailand, China, and Sri Lanka.

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law and ongoing Chinese trade cases. Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2018.04 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2018.05 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2018.06 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2018.07

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

FUEL PUMP ASSEMBILES

On January 31, 2018, Carter Fuel Systems, LLC filed a section 337 case against imports of Fuel Pump Assemblies Having Vapor Separators.  The named respondent in the case is:

Wenzhou Jushang (JS), Performance Parts Co. Ltd., China.

JUMP ROPE SYSTEMS PRODUCTS

On February 13, 2018, Jump Rope Systems LLC filed a section 337 case against imports of Jump Rope Systems Products.  The named respondent in the case is:

Suzhou Everise Fitness Co., Ltd., China.

If anyone has any questions about these cases or about the Trump Trade Crisis, Taxes and Trade, Section 201 Solar Case, Section 232 case on Steel, Aluminum or Uranium or US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR OCTOBER 20, 2017

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE AT A CROSSROADS AND IT’S NOT JUST CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billionaires at the Barricades at 313 (footnotes omitted).

According to Ingraham, Clinton promised that NAFTA would:

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

They received pink slips instead.

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

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

Billionaires at the Barricades at 385 to 389.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Ms. Ingraham also states that:

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

Id. at 1163-1164.

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

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

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

My fellow Americans:

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

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

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

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

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

Well, since World War II, the nations of the world showed they learned at least part of their lesson. They organized the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, or GATT, to promote free trade. It hasn’t all been easy going, however. Sometimes foreign governments adopt unfair tariffs or quotas and subsidize their own industries or take other actions that give firms an unfair competitive edge over our own businesses. On those occasions, it’s been very important for the United States to respond effectively, and our administration hasn’t hesitated to act quickly and decisively.

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

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

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

Emphasis added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COSTS OF PULLNG OUT OF NAFTA AND TPP

CANADA

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

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

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

MEXICO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAPAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AGRICULTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. ANTI-TRADE STANCE AIDS EU

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

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

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

US CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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

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

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

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

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

NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS HAVE STALLED

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

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

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

US Robert Lighthizer responded:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are four of them:

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

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

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

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

Let’s look briefly at each of these.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, right.”

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

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

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

US ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES BECOME MORE POLITICAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NO SYMPATHY FOR BOMBARDIER IN BOEING FIGHT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SEIA argued in its brief:

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

TRUMP AND CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are many fights to come.

SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA ON FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS MOVES FORWARD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINA NME STATUS

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

In the announcement, the EU stated:

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

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström further stated:

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

WINE FIGHT AGAINST BRITISH COLUMBIA AND CANADA

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

According to the US complaint:

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

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

According to the complaint:

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

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

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

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

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

SECTION 232 STEEL AND ALUMINUM CASES REMAIN STALLED

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

PTFE RESIN

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

FORGED STEEL FITTINGS

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

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST US AND JAPAN

HYDRIOC ACID FROM THE US and JAPAN

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

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

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

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law.  Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.37 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.38 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.39 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.40

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

REUSABLE DIAPERS

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

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

AMORPHOUS METALS

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

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

LED LIGHTING

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

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

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

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

BEVERAGE CONTAINERS

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP SIMPLISTIC APPROACH TO TRADE INJURES US COMPANIES, US AGRICULTURE BADLY HURT, NAFTA NOT GOING WELL, SECTION 301 AND 232 CASES, TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE, SOLAR, FALSE CLAIMS ACT, MORE CASES

White House Washington DC

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR AUGUST 30, 2017

 

Dear Friends,

As stated in many past blog posts, it is easy for Candidate Trump to talk protectionism, but President Trump is now learning it is much more complicated.  Trump’s decision to push protectionism endangers his standing with a core constituency—farmers and rural America.  As stated below, Trump’s decision to tear up the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) has already had a major negative impact on farmers.

Trump’s call for an economic war with China and other countries is already having a ramification.  Trump’s threat to pull out of NAFTA is not helping the US position in the negotiations.  Trump simply does not understand the ramifications of the trade deal when he terminated the TPP or when he threatens to tear up NAFTA.

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

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

Trump simply did not understand the dynamics of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and the ramifications of simply terminating it.  During the campaign, Candidate Trump stated that the TPP was a bad deal and if only he led the negotiating the team, it would be a better deal.  Thus, Trump argued that the TPP deal should be terminated and the US should then negotiate bilateral deals with the eleven countries in the TPP.

But two major problems with that strategy are becoming very clear.  First the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) does not have the personnel to negotiate 11 separate trade deals with the individual countries.  It took more than five years to negotiate the TPP.  With Trump’s steep cuts to the Government bureaucracy, the government resources simply are not there.

Second, Trump did not understand the dynamics of the TPP deal.  During those negotiations, countries could give the US concessions because they would get offsets from other countries and the importance of gaining access to the markets of 11 other countries was worth the concession to the US.

But with no other countries in bilateral deals, the other countries are less willing to make the concessions the US is demanding.  In fact, as Robert Lighthizer, the USTR, has discovered, many of the countries in the TPP do not want to have a bilateral deal with the US.  They fear and rightly so that the US will demand too much.  Much easier to export and import from other countries.

The same problem is happening in the NAFTA negotiations.  Trump is threatening to leave NAFTA when he simply does not understand the dynamics of the deal and the devastating impact that such a withdrawal would have on US farmers and also US manufacturing industries, such as the US auto industry.  Trade is very complicated and running into the trade area like a bull in a China shop simply creates enormous damage.  That damage will be borne by the US agricultural industry and US manufacturers and that means the loss of 1000s if not 100s of thousands of jobs.

Labor unions and working men like the sound of being politically tough on trade and the foreigners, but when jobs are lost, those same people may not like the actual reality of a very protectionist policy.  Many American politicians, such as Donald Trump and Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, like to be tough on trade because foreigners do not vote.  But if the economy is hurt by Trump’s trade actions, his base will be hurt and he will not be the next President.  So there a lot riding on Trump’s trade policy and his Administration has run straight into the Wall of actual trade reality.

The only saving grace for Trump is that as evidenced by Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, the Democrats are even more protectionist than Trump.  But neither the Democrats nor Trump understand the true ramifications of simply walking away from trade deals that open up foreign markets.  The US agricultural industry is now learning those ramifications.

By kowtowing to the Steel industry with its 141,000 jobs, these trade actions could costs thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of jobs in downstream industries and other industries, such as Agriculture. It is time for the United States to wake up to the benefits of trade.

It is also time for the United States to find a way to make its companies more competitive in the US and international markets as they exist now rather than erect protectionist barriers to international competition.  See the article on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below and how companies, including steel companies, can be saved from import competition by making them competitive again.

USTR has also initiated a section 301 case against forced technology transfers in deals with China.  But in an August 30, 2017 article by Dan Harris, my partner, entitled “China US Trade Wars and the IP Elephant in the Room”, Dan states that in over one hundred deals with Chinese companies, he has not seen US companies forced to give over their Intellectual Property (“IP”) by the Chinese government.  Instead he has seen US companies make bad decisions leading them to give away their IP by their own volition.  If US companies do not protect their IP rights, they will lose them.  The US Government cannot protect against stupid mistakes.

Meanwhile, the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases remain on hold.  The Section 201 case against imports of Solar Cells continues with the ITC hearing being 11 hours long. The United States has intervened in a False Claims Act case against Furniture.  Commerce has also issued a circumvention determination in the Aluminum Extrusions case.

More Antidumping and Countervailing Duty and 337 cases have been filed against China and the trade beat goes on.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

THE WEAKNESS IN DONALD TRUMP’S ECONOMIC POLICY—TRADE

Donald Trump’s political strategy is fight the cultural war, but win the next election because of his economic policy.  If jobs and wages are up, more companies move into the US, Trump’s firm belief is that he wins the next Presidential election.  Even Michael Moore, the Democratic gadfly, believes that Trump will win reelection by carrying the states that he already won.  See https://www.fastcompany.com/40459122/michael-moore-says-trump-is-on-track-to-win-again-in-2020.

There is only one fly in the ointment, flaw in this strategy—Trade.  If the Trump trade policy hurts farmers, Trump could lose the rural states: Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, to name a few and that could lead to Trump’s loss in the next Presidential election.

The economic nationalist Steve Bannon, who is credited with helping get Donald Trump elected by in part pushing the American First Trump policy, was recently forced out of the White House.  Before he left, however, Bannon made his trade position crystal clear.  in an article entitled “Steve Bannon Unrepetent”, in the American Prospect” magazine on August 16, 2017, Bannon stated with regards to trade policy:

“We’re at economic war with China,” he added. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and  it’s gonna be them if we go down this path.  . .

Bannon went on to describe his battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade, and not to fall into a trap of wishful thinking in which complaints against China’s trade practices now had to take a backseat to the hope that China, as honest broker, would help restrain Kim.

“To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Bannon’s plan of attack includes: a complaint under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against Chinese coercion of technology transfers from American corporations doing business there, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminum dumping. “We’re going to run the tables on these guys. We’ve come to the conclusion that they’re in an economic war and they’re crushing us.”

From Bannon’s point of view, trade is economic war.

Although Bannon has since left the White House, President Trump and Commerce Secretary Ross apparently share Bannon’s thinking.  On August 22nd, without understanding the ramifications on his voter base, President Trump announced that he might simply cancel NAFTA.  Apparently, Trump believes that both Mexico and Canada are winning the economic war against the United States.

On August 28th, in an article entitled “Exclusive: Trump vents in Oval Office, “I want tariffs. Bring me some tariffs!”, Axios reported that in the first Oval Office meeting with Chief of Staff John Kelley and the last meeting with Steve Bannon, President Trump stated:

Trump, addressing Kelly, said, “John, you haven’t been in a trade discussion before, so I want to share with you my views. For the last six months, this same group of geniuses comes in here all the time and I tell them, ‘Tariffs. I want tariffs.’ And what do they do? They bring me IP. I can’t put a tariff on IP.”  . . .

“China is laughing at us,” Trump added. “Laughing.”

Kelly responded: “Yes sir, I understand, you want tariffs.” . . . .

Staff secretary Rob Porter, who is a key mediator in such meetings, said to the president: “Sir, do you not want to sign this?” He was referring to Trump’s memo prodding Lighthizer to investigate China — which may lead to tariffs against Beijing.

Trump replied: “No, I’ll sign it, but it’s not what I’ve asked for the last six months.” He turned to Kelly: “So, John, I want you to know, this is my view. I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs.”

Kelly replied: “Yes sir, understood sir, I have it.” . . .

Trump made sure the meeting ended with no confusion as to what he wanted.

“John, let me tell you why they didn’t bring me any tariffs,” he said. “I know there are some people in the room right now that are upset. I know there are some globalists in the room right now. And they don’t want them, John, they don’t want the tariffs. But I’m telling you, I want tariffs.” . . . .

Emphasis in the original.

Trump’s statements in this article ring true because during the Presidential campaign, Donald Trump made it very clear that he likes tariffs.

On August 28th, however, George Will in an Op-ed article entitled “Trump, The Novice  Protectionist” in Investors Business Daily responded to the Trump trade policy stating:

“Foreigners, however, have their uses. After the president trumpeted that the Dow surpassing the 22,000 mark was evidence of America’s resurgent greatness, The Wall Street Journal rather impertinently noted this: Boeing, whose shares have gained 50% this year and which accounted for 563 of the more than 2,000 points the Dow had gained this year en route to 22,000, makes about 60% of its sales overseas. Boeing has a backlog of orders for 5,705 planes, 75% going outside North America. For Apple, the second-biggest contributor (283 points) to this year’s Dow gain at that point, foreign sales are two-thirds of its total sales. Foreign sales are also two-thirds of the sales of McDonald’s, the third-biggest contributor (239 points).

Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute says that in the last 20 years the inflation-adjusted value of U.S. manufacturing output has increased 40% even though — actually, partly because — U.S. factory employment decreased 5.1 million jobs (29%).  . . . Increased productivity is the reason there can be quadrupled output from the same number of workers.  According to one study, 88% of manufacturing job losses are the result of improved productivity, not rapacious Chinese.

But those Democrats who think government should fine-tune everything are natural protectionists (Sen. Charles  Schumer: “They’re  rapacious, the  Chinese”)  and probably think Trump is too fainthearted because he is not protecting Americans from competition from Americans.  . . .”

TRUMP TRADE WAR—THE SIMPLISTIC APPROACH TO TRADE COULD WELL DAMAGE THE US ECONOMY AND DOOM THE TRUMP ECONOMIC PLAN

In the above articles about Bannon’s and Trump’s approach to trade along with the below op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Trump trade team reveal the protectionist bent of the Trump Administration, which is based, in part, on blind arrogance and a simplistic approach to trade policy.

The Bannon and Trump approach reveal fatal misunderstandings:  trade is a two-way street, and US exports are critical to the wellbeing of Donald Trump’s own constituents.  In international trade, what goes around comes around.  What the US does to other countries, they can do back to the US.

Moreover, Bannon, Ross and Trump are confusing economic warfare with economic competition.  The United States has always strongly believed that economic competition is good for the economy, the country and the US consumer.  The bedrock principle of the importance of economic competition to wellbeing of the US economy is the reason the US antitrust laws were enacted. As Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roger Alford of the US Justice Department’s Antitrust Division recently stated on August 30th at a Competition Policy Forum in Shanghai China:

Our continued engagement on this topic is significant for competition enforcement. We are the guardians of strong and vigorous competition for economic prosperity. Our lodestar is to promote competition, not to give preference to specific competitors, even when individual businesses jockey for advantage.  . . .

Emphasis added.

Bill Gates believed that Microsoft had to go to war with its competition, but frankly that is why Microsoft produced such good software.  CEOs of companies are driven by competition to produce better products at lower prices, which means stronger US companies and prosperity for the US economy and US consumers.  Stronger US companies means more jobs at higher wages.

Protecting US companies from international competition does not strengthen the US companies.  It weakens them and the poster child for such a point is the US Steel industry, which has had 40 years of protection from steel imports.

This is exactly why President Ronald Reagan was so opposed to protectionism.  As President Reagan stated above in June 1986: “Protectionism is destructionism. It costs jobs.”

Moreover, Steve Bannon and Donald Trump have not figured out one important point: Not only do companies compete against each other and States compete against each other, but the United States and other countries compete against each other.  The US decision to go the Protectionist route means it has given up competing, and, therefore, it will lose the economic war.  Trump’s and Bannon’s combined with the Democrat’s protectionist policies mean the US will lose the economic war because of its decision to look inward and no longer compete in the international economic marketplace.

US companies do not get stronger by protecting them from international competition, which simply promotes the mentality of international trade victimhood.  US companies get stronger by looking inward and working harder to become internationally competitive.  See the article about Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below.

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

The Trans Pacific Partnership, for example, combines the markets of 12 countries, now 11 with the US exit, into one “huge” trading block.  Since Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are part of that block, the TPP market is a much larger market than the US alone.  Mexico and Canada are also in a stronger trade position than the US because they already have free trade agreements with a number of other countries, including the EC, and that gives them a substantial competitive advantage getting into those markets.  This fact gives Canada and Mexico leverage in the NAFTA negotiations even though Trump, Lighthizer and Ross simply do not understand the dynamics of the deal.

Maybe this is a major reason US companies move to Mexico and Canada to get better access to other foreign markets.  The United States is competing with other countries too.

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

Also the upper class and upper middle class in China, which numbers between 250 to more than 300 million, have an income closer to the US and that segment of the China market is the same size, if not larger, than the US.  That is why in the push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), House Speaker Paul Ryan used to state that 75% of the World’s consumers are outside the United States.

But China is also not this overwhelming behemoth with an economic juggernaut that is going to crush the US.  Yes, it may have a larger market, but on a per capita basis, it is much smaller.  Thus, the US per capita income on average is $57,000 where the Chinese per capita income is $8,000.  China has its own problems—keeping its people happy and fed.

Along with these problems, China has major weaknesses, which can be exploited by the US.  China has a very high personal tax rate, which can be as high at 45%.  This high tax rate is why many Chinese have emigrated to the US, looking for a lower tax rate and a better opportunity to keep the money they earn.  If Trump can drive taxes lower, that may result in more entrepreneurs and businesses moving to the US, e.g. Foxconn.

Another problem is the Chinese government’s strict control of information flowing into China by its very strong control of the internet.  Strict control of the internet stops knowledge flowing into China, which especially hurts the country’s high tech sector.  When information and knowledge stop, economies do not do as well.  The free flow of knowledge and ideas is critical for the most advanced economies and yet that is not true in China.

But arrogance is one of the great sins because it blinds you to all options.  To make a better deal in trade negotiations, the Administration has to do its homework and first understand the actual American interest.  If one is going to make America great again, one must first understand what is the nature of America’s interest in trade.  This requires understanding the dynamics of the trade deal in question, which President Trump prides himself in doing.  The Trump Administration must understand the actual trade deal closely, the US leverage points and the US weaknesses, what trade deals will help the US and the what trade deals will hurt the US interest.  Donald Trump’s failure in trade negotiations is to understand the dynamics of the deal and the leverage that the US has in trade negotiations.  In other words, with regards to trade, Trump simply does not understand “The Art of the Deal”.

In ripping up the TPP without even trying to renegotiate, Trump failed his own test because he did not understand the elements of the deal.  Trump’s philosophy was to do away with multilateral deals because they fall to the lowest common denominator and do only bilateral deals because that gives the US more control over the deal and if the country does not live up to its side of the bargain cancel the deal.

The problem with that approach is first the US government does not have the personnel at USTR, which is very lean and mean, to negotiate 11 separate trade deals with all the countries in the TPP.  It took more than 5 years to negotiate the TPP.

But secondly and more important, in recent bilateral negotiations, Canada, Mexico and Japan have all told the US do not assume that in bilateral deals or NAFTA, the United States will get the same deal it would have gotten in the TPP.  In fact, as indicated below, many countries in the TPP simply do not want to do a bilateral deal with the US—too much work.  Canada, Mexico and Japan were willing to give the US a better deal because they would gain access to a much greater market, the market of 11 additional countries.  That gave countries the political ability to play one national interest against another national interest.  Thus, Canada could give in to the US on dairy products because of the potential access to the much larger TPP market, including the Japanese and US markets.  Thus, countries in the TPP could use tradeoffs with other countries to open their markets further to US exports.  Those trades offs and the market access to the markets of 12 different countries does not exist with a bilateral deal with just the US.

On August 24, 2017, in an article entitled “Revived TPP may exclude trade concessions sought by US”, Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper, stated:

TOKYO — Japan is proposing suspending trade concessions made to the U.S. as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in order to resurrect the pact with the 11 remaining members.

Tokyo sounded out that proposal to other nations in the “TPP 11,” as those members became known after the U.S. withdrew from the deal. Senior negotiators will cite items they wish to see shelved during three days of talks starting Monday in Australia.

Washington had secured a number of major concessions from other nations in exchange for lower American tariffs on their exports. Though President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal, those concessions remain on the TPP’s books — to the consternation of other members.

If all the 11 participants agree unanimously, any such concession would be put on hold, and national regulations governing that element of the pact would remain in place.
But the suspensions would be lifted if and when the U.S. decides to return to the partnership.

While the remaining members are leaning toward keeping the lower tariffs agreed on among the initial group, they are likely to revisit specific trade rules.

The U.S. sided with major domestic drug companies and settled on an effective eight-year window before competitors can have access to proprietary pharmaceutical data. That moratorium exceeds international standards, and other countries think it would impede development of cheap generics. All members of the TPP 11 are expected to agree on freezing that provision.

Other provisions that may be suspended involve copyright protection periods, fair-competition policies governing state-owned enterprises and the opening of government procurement to foreign capital.

American exports would face a competitive disadvantage if an 11-member TPP goes into force. Tokyo hopes that U.S. meat industry leaders will speak up in favor of rejoining the trade deal.

Trade is the one weak link in Trump’s economic plan.  As indicated below, the decision to kill the TPP has already had a major negative impact on US agriculture and part of Trump’s base, the rural states, where agriculture is king.

SIMPLICITY IS OFTEN A GOOD TRADE POLICY BUT NOT WHEN THE POLICY IS SIMPLE MINDED AND NARROWLY FOCUSED

Trump has slowed down the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum Investigations because its “complicated”, but when Bannon and Trump take a very simplistic, black and white view of trade, it is extremely dangerous to the US economy and Donald Trump’s own constituents.

This is not a fight between Globalism and America First.  The America First strategy requires the Administration to understand deeply the interest of the United States and the interest of all the significant US industries in trade negotiations, including agriculture, not just the narrow Steel and Aluminum Industries. The Trump and  Bannon statements indicate a deep failure to analyze why Trump won the election and what the interest of the entire United States is in trade negotiations and also the interest of Donald Trump’s own constituents, the voters that elected Donald Trump President.

Bannon thinks that if we create a trade war with China and are tough on them we will win the economic trade war with China. But Bannon truly has forgotten why voters elected Donald Trump.

First, it was not just the US Steel and Aluminum industries that put Trump in the White House, it was the working man in many manufacturing plants throughout the United States.  Because of their economic, black white view of the World, Trump and Bannon want to put up barriers to steel imports to protect the US Steel industry and its 141,000 jobs without realizing the damaging impact of such an action on the millions of jobs in the downstream steel consuming industries.  Truthfully, if Donald Trump is going to be reelected, Trump himself, his trade team and Steve Bannon cannot be so simple minded.

More importantly Donald Trump also won because of farmers.  Although Trump won the States in the Blue Wall, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, he was also able to win the Presidency because he won the US heartland, including the states of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah and Florida.  What do those states have in common and in common with Wisconsin—Agriculture.  And the Trump trade policy is and has seriously hurt US farmers because US farmers are dependent on exports.

As the US Wheat Federation stated in the Section 232 Steel case, half of US wheat is exported.  Putting up protectionist walls invites retaliation against US agricultural exports.

Finally, one other point in direct response to Steve Bannon’s and Trumps statement, substantial trade relations prevent real shooting wars.  As indicated below in the Section 301 article, China is becoming more amenable on North Korea because of its enormous trade relationship with the United States.  The total US China trade relationship is $578.6 billion with $115.8 billion in US exports and $462.8 billion in imports from China.

In direct contrast, the US trade relationship with Russia is much, much smaller.  The total US Russia trade relationship is $38.1 billion with $11.2 in US exports and $27 billion in imports from Russia.  Truly peanuts in the global trade market.  It is better to compete with countries in the economic arena as compared to a real war, where millions die.

DEMOCRATS MORE PROTECTIONIST THAN DONALD TRUMP

The only saving grace for Donald Trump on trade is that the Democrats are even more protectionist.  On August 13th, Senator Chuck Schumer, who heads the Democrats in the Senate, told John Catsimatidis on his New York AM 970 radio show “The Cats Roundtable” that he is closer now to President Donald Trump than he ever was with former President Barack Obama on trade.  Senator Schumer stated:

“Trade is the thing [China cares] most about, and they’ve been treating us very badly on trade for a long time, frankly,.  I was closer in trade views to Donald Trump than I was to either George Bush or Barack Obama, on China anyway. I think we were much too easy on them. But if we got tough on them now, maybe they would relent, but we have to be real tough. So far, the administration has not been as tough as they should be, as far as I’m concerned.”

The Trump Administration should be very tough with China on trade, but it should carefully analyze what its true interests are and the interests of US voters that elected Donald Trump.  The US government should do everything in its power to drop barriers to US exports in China and other countries.  But protectionism for protectionism’s sake will not cure the problems of US manufacturing and right the US China trade balance

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR HURTS US AGRICULTURE AND US FARMERS

As mentioned in prior newsletter, the ox that will be gored by Trump’s trade policy is agriculture and that is just what is happening.  On August 7, 2017, in the attached extensive article entitled “Trump’s Trade Pullout Roils Rural America”, Trump’s Trade Pullout Roils Rural America – POLITICO Magazine, Politico did its homework and described in detail the deep negative impact of the Trump trade policy on US agriculture:

EAGLE GROVE, Iowa—On a cloud-swept landscape dotted with grain elevators, a meat producer called Prestage Farms is building a 700,000-square-foot processing plant. The gleaming new factory is both the great hope of Wright County, which voted by a 2-1 margin for Donald Trump, and the victim of one of Trump’s first policy moves, his decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

For much of industrial America, the TPP was a suspect deal, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which some argue led to a massive offshoring of U.S. jobs to Mexico. But for the already struggling agricultural sector, the sprawling 12- nation TPP, covering 40 percent of the world’s economy, was a lifeline. It was a chance to erase punishing tariffs that restricted the United States—the onetime “breadbasket of the world”—from selling its meats, grains and dairy products to massive importers of foodstuffs such as Japan and Vietnam.

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

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

“I’m scared to death,” said Ron Prestage, whose North Carolina-based family pork and poultry business made its huge investment in the plant near Eagle Grove in part to reap expected gains from the TPP. “I don’t guess I’ve gone beyond the point of no return on the new plant, but we did already start digging our wells and started moving dirt.”

He and other agricultural business people and workers have reason for concern.

On July 6, the EU, which already exports as much pork to Japan as the United States does, announced political agreement on a new deal that would give European pork farmers an advantage of up to $2 per pound over U.S. exporters under certain circumstances—a move which, if unchecked, is all but certain to create a widening gap between EU exports and those from the United States.

European wine producers, who sold more than $1 billion to Japan between 2014 and 2016, would also see a 15 percent tariff on exports to Japan disappear while U.S. exporters would continue to face that duty at the border. For other products, the deal essentially mirrors the rates negotiated under the TPP, which the United States has surrendered, giving the EU a clear advantage over U.S. farmers.

The EU’s deal is all the more noteworthy because American farmers were relying on the TPP—to which the EU was not a member—to give them an advantage over European competitors. But in a further rebuke to the United States, Tokyo decided within a matter of weeks to offer the European nations virtually the same agricultural access to its market that United States trade officials had spent two excruciating years extracting through near-monthly meetings with their Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of the broader TPP negotiations; the United States is now left out.

The EU, which also recently inked a deal with Vietnam, is now moving forward with talks with Malaysia and is in the process of modernizing a pre-existing trade deal with Mexico.

Meanwhile, a bloc of four Latin-American countries—Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia, known as the Pacific Alliance—is quickly becoming the leading force for free trade in the region, announcing near the end of June it would commence its own negotiations with New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, heedless of its neighbor to the north.

On its own, Australia, which in 2015 cut a deal to undersell the United States in beef exports to Japan, announced another round of scheduled tariff cuts with Japan. Without the TPP, Australian ranchers eventually will enjoy a 19 percent tariff advantage over U.S. competitors. Australia is also prioritizing the conclusion of trade talks with Indonesia, the largest nation in Southeast Asia by gross domestic product.

The remaining 11 TPP countries have already met two times, with a third meeting planned, to move ahead with the revival of the deal without the United States. The so- called TPP-11 would be in direct response to Trump’s trade policy. Economic forecasts already show projected gains for countries involved. Canada, according to one estimate, could permanently gain an annual market share of $412 million in beef and $111 million in pork sales to Japan by 2035, because lower tariffs would enable it to eclipse America’s position in the market.

As China, which was never a part of the TPP, senses blood in the water, it is moving quickly to assert itself, rather than the United States, as the region’s trade arbiter. China is aiming to close talks by the end of this year on its behemoth Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership—a trade agreement involving 15 other Asia-Pacific countries.

None of these deals are yet in effect. But already there are signs that competitors are gaining market share over U.S. producers in the post-TPP landscape, as Pacific nations take a closer look at alternatives to U.S. exporters.

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

Japan, which saw the TPP not only as a source of economic growth but a counterweight to China, is now taking the lead in salvaging the deal. Its goal is to have some sort of agreement between the 11 other countries in place for the annual summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in November. Trump is expected to attend, creating the awkward possibility that he will witness all the handshakes and back slaps as his fellow leaders congratulate themselves on a deal.

For his part, Trump once promised a slew of “beautiful” deals to replace the TPP, but his administration has yet to lay out a detailed strategy. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers that an analysis is underway to determine where it makes most sense to pursue negotiations.

In the meantime, Lighthizer, a trade attorney who pressured Japan to voluntarily restrain its steel exports when he was a trade official in the 1980s, said Tokyo should just go ahead and lower their tariffs without expecting anything in return.

“I think in the areas like beef and the others, they ought to be making some unilateral concessions, at least temporary concessions,” he told lawmakers in June. “And I don’t quite understand why that doesn’t happen.”

Lighthizer said the administration still hopes to strike bilateral trade deals—that is, separate agreements with individual countries—but he conceded that “some of the TPP countries don’t want to do bilaterals.” The value of the TPP for many countries was that they could justify giving up protective tariffs in exchange for their own access to the markets of a wide pool of countries; many are unwilling to make such concessions for the smaller gains of a bilateral deal.

Lighthizer acknowledged that even Japan, at least for the time being, may not be interested in one-on-one negotiations with the U.S. . . .

That leaves workers in 13,000-person Wright County, whose survival depends largely on agriculture, with relatively few signs of optimism. Trump’s decision to walk away from the TPP has stoked uncertainty about U.S. trade policy and, more notably, the president’s commitment to rural America.

“He fooled a lot of people,” said Sandy McGrath, mayor of Eagle Grove, who is not affiliated with any party and did not support Trump. . . .

But the plant’s success will depend largely on export opportunities. More than 26 percent of the pork produced in the U.S. in 2016 was exported to foreign markets. And more than $1.5 billion of the nearly $6 billion in U.S. pork exports in 2016 headed for Japan.

“At the time those investment decisions were made, the U.S. had never turned down a free trade opportunity,” said Dermot Hayes, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University, referring to the Prestage plant and other pork-industry investments.

Hayes said the livestock industry had in its sights a future of expansion amid soaring export growth. After Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP, “that has pretty much disappeared,” he said. . . .

In April, when Trump was on the verge of withdrawing from NAFTA, Maier said he watched corn prices plummet in anticipation of the president’s decision. Trump relented, at the request of Perdue, the agriculture secretary, who appealed to the president with colorful maps showing the president’s base was largely concentrated in states that heavily rely on agriculture.

Ultimately, Trump agreed to renegotiations with Canada and Mexico instead. But Maier remains wary that, despite pledges by the administration to “do no harm” for agriculture, the mere act of reopening the deal with Canada and Mexico, the two largest destinations for U.S. agricultural exporters, could mess up what has been a very good thing for American farmers in the Midwest.

“Farmers are willing to open up NAFTA, but if we open up NAFTA, there’s the risk of going backwards,” he said. . . .

The Obama administration, backed by a large cadre of free-trade Republicans, used that reality to grow support for the TPP among businesses and agricultural interests eager to grab a better foothold in a fast-growing area of the world where the U.S. has few formal trade deals.

But through the slow churn of negotiations, the dazzlingly complex deal among 12 countries soon fell victim to time and circumstance. After more than five years of talks, bleary-eyed trade negotiators were finally able to close the deal at an Atlanta hotel on October 5, 2015. But the agreement quickly became mired in election politics. Labor unions and blue-collar voters declared it to be a successor to NAFTA, which was blamed for the loss of factories. And while the U.S. trade commission predicted the deal would be broadly beneficial to the overall economy, some areas including food and agriculture were predicted to score more gains than others.

Even as supporters of the deal insisted it would put U.S. manufacturers on a stronger footing versus overseas competitors by enforcing higher labor and environmental standards, Trump and Bernie Sanders used anti-TPP fervor as a key plank of their campaign platforms, declaring that it would cost America jobs. Even Hillary Clinton, normally a supporter of freer trade, turned on the deal, saying she wanted to negotiate better terms.

Trump escalated his rhetoric on trade after the primaries and Congress, which has final say on trade deals, shied away from bringing TPP up for a vote. After Trump’s victory, the fate of the deal in the GOP-controlled Congress was all but sealed as Republican lawmakers put it aside to concentrate on tax reform and a bid to roll back Obamacare.

On his first full day in office, Trump signed an executive order withdrawing from the TPP, calling the action a “great thing for the American worker.”

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country,” Trump said during a campaign stop in Ohio. “That’s what it is, too. It’s a harsh word: It’s a rape of our country.” . . .

But even as Iowa was voting for Trump by 51 percent-42 percent, its farmers were looking to Asia as their savior. . . .

But despite Trump’s intense personal interest in trade, the White House has been slow to build the dream team of negotiators the president promised on the campaign trail. Lighthizer, who once served as a deputy U.S. trade representative under President Ronald Reagan, was confirmed on May 11. The people tapped to serve in the agency’s three deputy positions await confirmation, as does the administration’s pick for chief agriculture negotiator.

Iowa’s Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says he thinks a trade deal with Japan would make up for much that was lost for agriculture by dropping TPP, but it will take “a lot more personnel, a lot more time to get it done, a lot more separate actions by Congress.”

As far as the administration’s strategy to get there, Grassley, who still owns his farm in Butler County, Iowa, said he hasn’t gotten much direction.

“I asked Lighthizer maybe a month ago in a meeting, and I didn’t get an answer,” Grassley said in a recent interview. “In a sense he answered, but not very definitively because their policy isn’t established.” . . .

Maybe the lesson of TPP demise for the protectionist firebreathers is be careful what you wish for.  The negative ramifications of not doing the TPP appear to be infinitely higher than doing the trade deal.

NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS

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

But Trump keeps stirring the pot with his anti-NAFTA rhetoric. On August 22nd, during a speech in Phoenix President Trump announced that he might simply cancel NAFTA.

As Politico stated on August 23rd, “Trump’s  threat  of  NAFTA  withdrawal lose its edge”:

“Canada and Mexico appear to have reached a conclusion that when President Donald Trump threatens to withdraw from NAFTA, it is a negotiating ploy that is all bark and no bite. . . .

Instead, concerns were raised from within the United States government, where officials and lawmakers who support the deal see little value in the president repeatedly going to the well of harsh rhetoric in a way that makes the United States’ negotiating position more difficult.

“I don’t know a single person with a working brain cell that thinks that’s a good idea,” said one U.S. government source close to the talks, referring to renewing the threat of terminating the deal. “It’s a stupid message to send during the  negotiations.”

Part of the reason Mexico and Canada might be less intimidated by Trump’s bluster is that they have plenty of other trading partners to fall back on if the relationship with the U.S. sours. Both countries have separate deals in place with the European Union — Mexico is currently ramping up talks to update theirs — and both are part of the effort to reboot the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the remaining 11 members are pushing toward completion even without the U.S.

But after Trump cast aside the TPP almost immediately upon taking office, the U.S. has fewer such options to fall back on — so pro-NAFTA lawmakers and those from export- dependent states have repeatedly urged him to focus on modernizing and updating NAFTA, rather than terminating it.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady — whose home state of Texas counts Mexico as the No. 1 market for its exports, followed by Canada — cautioned Trump on Wednesday to be more aware of the effects his words have on the country’s trade relationships.

“The president’s rhetoric is red-hot, and it creates real impact,” Brady said during a town hall discussion at AT&T headquarters in Dallas. “I think the rhetoric, the words from the president matter, so I’d like to see that take a different approach in tone.”

Brady, whose powerful committee oversees trade on Capitol Hill, is one of a core group of Republicans whose support will be crucial if the administration succeeds in renegotiating a new deal with Canada and Mexico, since it will likely have to go through Congress for approval . . ..

The political question is whether Trump would discard NAFTA in the face of what certainly would be fierce resistance from Congress and industries like agriculture, which would take a significant hit in that event amid a sustained downturn in the farm economy.

Back in April, intense lobbying from the Hill and on the farm helped talk Trump down from inking a prepared executive order to withdraw from the deal. News of the planned order sparked such a public outcry and flurry of reaction in support of the deal that business and trade insiders sometimes refer to it as “Black Wednesday.” . . .”

Meanwhile, a chorus of industries are telling the Administration not to be so tough in the NAFTA negotiations because tweaks are fine, but the failure of the NAFTA deal would be disastrous to US industry and US agriculture.  On August 10th Automobile and Auto Parts makers urged the Administration to cool down the rhetoric on rules of origin for automobiles and auto parts because major changes to automobile rules of origin through NAFTA modernization could have the unintended consequence of making North America’s auto industry less competitive.  As Charles Uthus, vice president of international policy at the American Automotive Policy Council, the main lobbying arm of U.S. auto companies in Washington, stated:

“It’s the highest automotive rule of origin anywhere that you can find. It’s already extremely rigorous, very difficult to meet as it is. To actually strengthen it, there is a huge risk of unintended consequences.”

Ann Wilson, senior vice president of government affairs for MEMA, stated:

“Our members really struggle with finding a connection between changing the rules of origin and the reshoring of jobs. They do not see that connection.”

On August 17th Politico reported that Trump’s tough rhetoric has created intense hatred in Mexico, which will make it politically very difficult for Mexico to make concessions or agree to a deal that would clearly benefit the US.  Thus, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is not afraid to walk away from the table if needed, potentially overturning the entire U.S.-Mexico bilateral trade relationship in the process.

Again, Trump does not understand the dynamics of the deal and the fact that since Mexico has more trade agreements than the US, it has leverage and is not afraid to walk away from the table.

Thus, both Mexico and Canada are resisting US pressure for a new “national content” provision in NAFTA’s auto trade rules to encourage more parts to be made in the United States.  As Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo stated:

“It will not be best practice to introduce that kind of rigidities into the industrial process.  It’s not good for American companies. It’s not good for Mexican companies.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland also stated: “Canada is not in favor of specific national content in rules of origin”.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Dairy Producers stated that they will fight any U.S. effort to duplicate in NAFTA the dairy concessions secured through TPP negotiations. As Yves Leduc, director of policy and international trade for the Dairy Farmers of Canada, stated, “Not a possibility – as far as we are concerned, we would never agree to that.”

The small amount of dairy access that Canada granted the U.S. during the TPP talks – equal to 3.25 percent of Canada’s domestic milk production – was balanced out by concessions Canada secured in negotiations involving all of the 11 other countries. Those circumstances don’t apply to NAFTA, which involves only three countries. As Leduc stated, “To ask us to open up our market to allow more subsidized goods from the U.S. to enter the Canadian market, the answer is simple: It’s no.”

Meanwhile, US famers joined with Canadian and Mexican farmers to urge US negotiators to not let specific demands undermine the market access US farmers and ranchers enjoy under the existing agreement.  Although all three groups want to lower trade barriers to exports and imports, it was their unified position to defend existing market access that was most notable, given the fear on the farm that Trump could use agriculture as a bargaining chip to satisfy his obsession with reducing America’s trade deficit in manufactured goods.

THE PHRASE “FREE BUT FAIR TRADE” IS A FRAUD BECAUSE COMMERCE HAS SO DEFINED DUMPING AS TO FIND ALMOST EVERY IMPORT DUMPED

In an article along the same lines as the Bannon article and the Trump quote, on August 1, 2017, Commerce Secretary Wibur Ross penned an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Free Trade Is a Two Way Street”.  In the article, Commerce Secretary Ross argued that many countries erect barriers to US exports, but then went on to state:

“Both China and Europe also bankroll their exports through grants, low-cost loans, energy subsidies, special value-added tax refunds, and below-market real-estate sales and leases, among other means. Comparable levels of government support do not exist in the U.S. If these countries really are free traders, why do they have such formidable tariff and nontariff barriers?

Until we make better deals with our trading partners, we will never know precisely how much of our deficit in goods is due to such trickery. But there can be no question that these barriers are responsible for a significant portion of our current trade imbalance.

China is not a market economy. The Chinese government creates national champions and takes other actions that significantly distort markets. Responding to such actions with trade remedies is not protectionist. In fact, the World Trade Organization specifically permits its members to take action when other countries are subsidizing, dumping and engaging in other unfair trade practices.

Consistent with WTO rules, the U.S. has since Jan. 20 brought 54 trade-remedy actions— antidumping and countervailing duty investigations—compared with 40 brought during the same period last year. The U.S. currently has 403 outstanding orders against 42 countries.

But unfortunately, in its annual reports, the WTO consistently casts the increase of trade enforcement cases as evidence of protectionism by the countries lodging the complaints. Apparently, the possibility never occurs to the WTO that there are more trade cases because there are more trade abuses.

The WTO should protect free and fair trade among nations, not attack those trade remedies necessary to ensure a level playing field. Defending U.S. workers and businesses against this onslaught should not be mislabeled as protectionism. Insisting on fair trade is the best way to ensure the long-term strength of the international trading system.

The Trump administration believes in free and fair trade and will use every available tool to counter the protectionism of those who pledge allegiance to free trade while violating its core principles. The U.S. is working to restore a level playing field, and under President Trump’s leadership, we will do so.

This is a true free-trade agenda.”

Let me begin by saying no one has a problem with US government actions challenging foreign, including Chinese, barriers to US exports.  Every Administration be it Republican or Democrat has taken a tough stance to drop foreign barriers to US exports.  In fact, many Senators and Congressmen are pressuring the Trump Administration for more free trade agreements because they remove barriers to US exports.  The TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership, would have dropped tariffs down to 0 on more than 18,000 products exported by US companies, many agricultural products.

Although no one doubts that the Chinese market is significantly distorted, many foreign markets and in some cases US markets are significantly distorted.  The US steel market with the many outstanding trade orders blocking steel imports is a good example of a significantly distorted market in which the US price for steel is much higher than the World market price.

Also no one doubts that many countries subsidize their exports or dump in the US market.  For many years, the Commerce Department was able to find very high dumping rates on Japanese imports in antidumping cases by using price to price comparisons, which found that Japanese prices were significantly higher, sometimes four times higher, than US prices for the same Japanese product.  That is classic dumping using higher prices in the home market to fuel lower prices to the United States.

The Japanese companies were able to use dumping because the Japanese Government erected non-tariff trade barriers to block imports from the US and other countries creating very high domestic Japanese prices.  To protect its mikan /tangerine industry, for example, for many years Japan blocked all imports of citrus fruit.  But it is also interesting to note that there are no outstanding countervailing duty/anti-subsidy orders against Japanese products.

The Chinese governments, especially the local governments, also subsidize their exports and provide low interest loans to their companies, but so does the US government, through its subsidies in the Agriculture area, and the State Governments, which will waive state income taxes or help with low interest loans, to encourage production of companies, such as Foxconn, to move to their states.

But the US Countervailing Duty law applies to China now and the Commerce Department has not been shy in finding Chinese imports into the United States to be subsidized.  It should be noted, that the WTO has overturned 28 US Countervailing Duty cases against China, in part, because the WTO has ruled that Chinese state-owned companies are not necessarily the Chinese government itself, as the Commerce Department has ruled.

The US too has state-owned companies, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity to certain parts of the US.  Should foreign governments assume that all electricity from the TVA is subsidized because it is owned by the US government?

The major problem, however, is the Commerce Department’s application of the antidumping law.

In the 1980s, James Bovard authored a book called the “Fair Trade Fraud”, which outlined many of these same problems in the US antidumping law.  But nothing has changed.  Instead Commerce has just developed new methodologies to increase antidumping rates even higher.

Moreover, the same economic warfare arguments were made about Japan in the 1980s.  Although China does not have clean hands, that does not mean that every single import from China is unfairly traded.  In fact, I would argue that a significant percentage, if not the majority, of imports from China are fairly traded.  The Chinese government simply does not care about the Chinese Mushroom, Honey, Crawfish or Shrimp industries and does not set the prices for those products or any of the inputs.  Does the Chinese government really care about the price of cow manure in China, a major input for mushrooms?

Remember Commerce over decades has so distorted the US antidumping law that it finds dumping in 100% of the cases from China because it refuses to look at actual prices and costs in China.  If you have a hanging judge, does that mean every single import from China is dumped/unfairly traded?

Instead, Commerce should start easing the restrictions on the market economy status of China so as to determine which Chinese companies are truly dumping in the US market and nail them to the wall.  Commerce should make its antidumping cases against China mirror actual reality in China, not for the Chinese companies, but for US importers and downstream customers.

Right now, because of its refusal to use actual prices and costs in China, neither Donald Trump, nor Wilbur Ross nor the Commerce Department know which Chinese companies are truly dumping and which Chinese companies are not.  Until Commerce starts uses actual prices and costs in China, no one will know which Chinese company is truly dumping,

Finally, the Commerce Department decision to tilt the playing ground and find dumping in every antidumping and countervailing duty case against China and also against almost all every other foreign county has created a situation so that the public perception is that almost every import into the US is dumped.  These hanging judge decisions fuel the protectionist/isolationist political rhetoric in the United States badly damaging US industry and agriculture.  It has also led to a mentality by many US companies of international trade victimhood.  We poor US companies simply cannot compete in the international or US market because all foreign exports and US imports are subsidized or dumped.

Instead, US companies want to rely on US government issued protectionist walls to protect themselves from competition rather than finding a way to make the US companies competitive again.  See the article on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below.

SECTION 232 STEEL AND ALUMINUM CASES STALLED

The Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases continue to be stalled.  On August 21ST,  Politico reported:

“WHITHER THE NATIONAL SECURITY STEEL INVESTIGATION? White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House . . tipped the balance of Trump’s economic advisers firmly toward the more centrist “globalist” wing – and that could mean that two reports examining whether to limit imports of steel and aluminum for national security reasons could be indefinitely delayed. The Commerce Department has prepared a report on its findings that is circulating among agencies, but the administration has decided to dial down the investigations as it turns its attention to tax reform . . . .

Part of the reason is the departure of Bannon, who had been a major proponent of the move. But the decision to put off the investigations was also made in part because of opposition from business groups and Republican lawmakers who were worried it would hurt steel users and the broader economy, the news report said. .

Although President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross thought they had found a panacea, cure all, for US trade problems, using Section 232 National Security cases to put large tariffs and/or quotas on Steel, Aluminum and other raw material products, something happened on the way to the Trump trade heaven—reality.  The major problem is that the steel industry has only 141,000 jobs at stake while downstream steel users have millions of jobs at stake.

As background, on April 20, 2017, President Trump and the Commerce Department in a press announcement and fact sheet along with a Federal Register notice, Presidential Memorandum Prioritizes Commerce Steel Investigation _ Department of Commerce Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Steel on U.S COMMERCE FED REG SECTION 232 NOTICE, announced the self-initiation of a Section 232 National Security case against imports of steel from every country.  See video of Trump signing the Executive Order with Secretary Ross and Steel Producers at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EiVfNOl-_Ho.

Commerce held a hearing on May 24th in this case.  The video of the hearing can be found at https://www.commerce.gov/file/public-hearing-section-232-investigation-steel-imports-national-security.

In the past Secretary Ross has stated that the Section 232 case is meant to fill the gaps created by the patchwork of antidumping and countervailing duties on foreign steel, which he said have provided only limited relief to the U.S. industry.

Under the terms of the executive order, an interagency group will present a report to the White House within 270 days that identifies goods that are essential for national security and analyzes the ability of the defense industrial base to produce those goods.

If the Secretary reports affirmatively, the President has 90 days to determine whether it concurs with the Secretary’s determination and “determine the nature and duration of the action that, in the judgment of the President, must be taken to adjust the imports of the article and its derivatives so that such imports will not threaten to impair the national security.”

Although Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross pledged to get the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum reports to President Trump’s desk by the end of June, that did not happen as the Administration began to realize the impact a broad tariff on steel or aluminum raw material inputs would have on downstream steel and aluminum users, which are dependent on high quality, competitively priced steel products to produce competitive downstream products made from steel and aluminum.

In response to the delay in the Section 232 Steel case, American steel industry executives appealed directly to President Donald Trump for immediate import restrictions because steel imports have surged back to 2015 levels.  As the letter states:

“The need for action is urgent. Since the 232 investigation was announced in April, imports have continued to surge.  Immediate action must meaningfully adjust imports to restore healthy levels of capacity utilization and profitability to the domestic industry over a sustained period.”

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), an industry trade group, reported on Wednesday that total steel imports through July this year were up 22 percent from the same period a year ago, with imports taking 28 percent of the U.S.  market.

In the letter, Steel company executives from Nucor Corp., U.S.  Steel, ArcelorMittal and Commercial Metals Co. said the sustained surge of steel imports into the United States had “hollowed out” much of the domestic steel industry and was threatening its ability to meet national security needs.

“Your leadership in finding a solution to the crisis facing the steel industry is badly needed now. Only you can authorize actions that can solve this crisis and we are asking for your immediate assistance.”

The collateral damage to the many US producers that produce downstream steel products created by any across the board tariffs on steel imports makes it very difficult for the Administration to use a broad brush to fix the steel problem.  That is the problem with purely protectionist decisions.  They distort the US market and simply transfer the problems of the steel industry to other downstream industries.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.  To retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job is $5,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

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

“WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today announced $13.3 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to support 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers (TAACs) in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington that help manufacturers affected by imports adjust to increasing global competition and create jobs.

“The Trump administration is working every day to help America’s manufacturers, their workers, and their communities,” said Secretary Ross. “This funding is one element of a government-wide effort to restore American jobs and strengthen U.S. manufacturing.”

The 11 grants include:

$1.7 million to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, for the Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center

$1.2 million to the Mid-Atlantic Employers’ Association, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, for the Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance  Center

$978,000 to the New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, Inc., North Billerica, Massachusetts

$1.1 million to the Research Foundation, State University of New York Binghamton, for the New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico Trade Adjustment Assistance Center

$1.2 million to the University of Colorado at Boulder for the Rocky Mountain Trade Adjustment Assistance Center . . .

$1 million to the University of Missouri–Columbia for the Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance Center …

$1.2 million to the Trade Task Group, Seattle, Washington, for the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center…

EDA’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program funds 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers across the nation. The centers support a wide range of technical, planning, and business recovery projects that help companies and the communities that depend on them adapt to international competition and diversify their economies.  . . .

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.”  . . .

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

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

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

In the attached article entitled “Steel Competitiveness Seriously?”, Steel Competitiveness, William J. Bujalos, the head of the Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center,  makes the proposal to expand the program to help large manufacturing companies, including steel producers.  Mr. Bujalos states:

“Current reports suggest that the nation’s steel industry is experiencing a rebound – a rebound driven by a growing collective confidence about America’s economic future.

That’s all good but irrelevant because confidence is not a strategy for growing the nation’s global competitiveness. What is relevant is the extent to which our companies are able to grow other much more important things, like metrics critical to their competitive success. Do that and the power of any confidence index won’t matter.

Let me explain. Since 1998 I have been leading the nation’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program in the Mid-Atlantic region. My business experience during the last 50 years has yielded insight into the kinds of things that have the highest probability for success at reversing an enterprise’s negative fortunes irrespective of the competitive battlespace that they’ve chosen to play in. Prior lives involved corporate management in both private and public sectors (large and small companies) in a wide variety of markets that included: management consulting, chemicals, plastics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, automotive systems, battery tech and steel – and I’ve learned that there are some things that are universal …

For example, I’m a believer that, for businesses of all stripes, there is only one true asset to be quantified and listed on the Balance Sheet – knowledge. Nothing else really matters at the end of the day. And the overarching value of TAAF is that it is this nation’s singularly effective business model that injects it directly into a company’s bloodstream over an extended period of time, i.e. half a decade. That sort of holistic, long-term approach yields the biggest chance for success because it has a high probability of permanently upgrading a company’s core DNA.

In my view steel companies don’t operate in markets that are fundamentally any different from markets in general. No markets are forgiving. No customer base is loyal. Some players don’t play fair. No amount of investment is worth it if indigenous leadership is of poor quality. So as a direct consequence, all companies that are serious about permanently enhancing their global competitiveness must achieve mastery over stuff like: competitive intelligence, customer intelligence, market dynamics intelligence, costs/managerial finance, talent/leadership development, product development, planning effectiveness, etc., etc., etc.

In other words: it’s the knowledge stuff that’s critical and little else. And in my humble opinion, focusing the attributes that TAAF brings to the table on that industry on a larger scale would yield stunning results.

The TAAF business model places its nationwide network of Trade Adjustment Centers (i.e. TAACs) in the unique position of being the right catalyst at the right place at the right time. Does it always work? Certainly not. What does? But it works better than just about anything else in America’s tool kit. It is unique. And here’s the kicker, we don’t ask for equity. On behalf of the American taxpayer we simply insist on pure, unadulterated, robust, and relentless commitment from the Chief Executive Officer down to the shop floor. Absent that? Well, it’s unfortunate but some companies probably should fail.

This approach really works, without costing a great deal of money or causing economic disruption while at the same time providing our political establishment the cover it needs to smooth passage of critical treaties – and, because a company must match our injection dollar-for-dollar throughout the process, the American taxpayer is assured of management’s total and focused commitment for one simple reason … they share in the risk!

Bottom line? The long-term holistic approach is effective. The business model, stipulating unique strategies addressing each company’s unique circumstances, is effective. The program’s neutral economic impact is effective. It’s ability to support passage of trade agreements while not impeding the benefits of free trade is effective. It’s ability to lessen the costs associated with the engagement of outside expertise to reengineer critical business processes is effective.

And I firmly believe that it’s application is not limited to America’s smallest makers – only its funding is. For several decades that’s been little more than an afterthought.

Consider …

  • All manufacturing companies were at one time small ones.
  • All manufacturing companies are impacted by globalization.
  • Small ones need outside expertise to teach them basic stuff.
  • Larger ones need outside expertise to teach them sophisticated stuff.
  • Small makers, because they’re learning the basics and have little resources to tap, take a longer time to turn the corner.
  • Larger makers, because the basics are already inculcated and they have the requisite resources at hand, can turn the corner at much higher speed.
  • And if you were the Chief Executive of a tier-one domestic manufacturer, would you doubt for a minute –
    • That your supply chain probably has several thousand companies in it?
    • That extensive improvement in their performance would have a significantly positive impact on your performance?
  • Improvement in the performance of the small cohort will increase the probability that fewer will fail because a greater proportion will grow into larger ones – driving concomitant growth in good-paying manufacturing jobs and the creation of wealth. Go ahead. Beat that with a stick!”

For those who would simply dismiss the idea as impossible and too simplistic, watch the video.  The program works.  See http://mataac.org/howitworks/.

TRUMP AND CHINA

SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA ON FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS MOVES FORWARD

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

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

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

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

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

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

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) will hold a hearing on October 10th at the International Trade Commission and public comments are to be submitted by September 28th.

In an August 30, 2017 article by Dan Harris, who heads my law firm, on his China law blog at http://www.chinalawblog.com/2017/08/china-us-trade-wars-and-the-ip-elephant-in-the-room.html, entitled “China-US Trade Wars and the IP Elephant in the Room”, Dan states that in over one hundred negotiations with Chinese companies, he has not seem the Chinese government demand IP rights.  What he has seen is bad negotiating:

“I have been called by reporters at least a half dozen times in the last couple of weeks regarding the Trump Administration’s planned investigation of China’s IP practices. But what I tell these reporters fits so badly with THE narrative that my name is not showing up in print. Sorry, but I can’t help it.

Here’s the situation. The Trump Administration is claiming that China’s government forces American companies to relinquish its IP to China and my problem is that despite my firm having worked on literally hundreds of China transactions that involve IP, I have very little proof of this. So no real story there.

Here though is the story as seen from my eyes and from the eyes of the China attorneys at my firm, readily conceding that we have not seen even close to everything.

We have never been involved in a China transaction where it has been clear to us that the Chinese government has forced our client to relinquish its IP to China. We have though been involved in a million transactions where the Chinese party on the other side — sometimes a State Owned Entity, but way more often not — has vigorously and aggressively sought to get our client to part with its IP for a very low price. Is the Chinese government behind this sort of pressure? Don’t know? Probably sometimes, but probably most of the time not. If the transaction involves rubber duckies, we can assume not. If it involves next generation computer chips, well that is probably a very different story.

Anyway, as we write on here so often, there are many terrible technology transfer and other sorts of IP deals to be had with Chinese companies and we have too often — even against our China attorneys’ clear counsel to our clients not to do it — seen our clients make bad deals that will involve them turning over their IP with little to no chance of receiving full value for it. But these companies have not been forced, not in the sense that any government was forcing them to do anything. These companies were simply willing to take huge risks either because they could not grasp the risks or because they felt they had no other choice for financial reasons.

In Three Myths of China Technology Transfers, we wrote about how our clients all too often forge ahead with bad deals and why, and we nowhere mention government compulsion:

A Chinese company that intends to violate a licensing agreement and run off with the foreign company’s IP will usually have a very clear plan. What the China lawyers in my office call the Standard Plan works as follows. First, the Chinese company will negotiate in a way that guarantees a weak license that cannot be enforced against them by the foreign party. The tricks used to do this are quite standardized. Second, the Chinese company will ensure that it does not make any (or else it makes very few) payments until after it has already received the technology. If the Chinese company makes any payment at all, it will make a minimal number of payments, usually late and in violation of the agreement and then once it has received enough of the technology it seeks, it will cease making any payments entirely.

When our China attorneys encounter a Chinese company clearly working on the Standard Plan, we warn our clients. However, it is also typical for our clients to nonetheless want to forge on ahead. The client will usually explain how their situation is unique and that means the Chinese could not possibly be planning to breach.

We discuss again in China Technology Transfers: The Relationship and Deal Structure Myths how it is that American companies lose their IP to Chinese companies and we again leave out government force:

Due to a partnership relationship, the foreign side often wrongly believes it is somehow better protected against IP theft. The foreign side then lets down its guard, only to learn that its China partner has appropriated its core technology. This sense of partnership is most common with SMEs and technology startups, especially those companies whose owner is directly involved in the relationship with the Chinese entity.

In China and The Internet of Things and How to Destroy Your Own Company I rant about technology companies that literally destroy themselves by failing to do enough to protect their IP from China:

Well for what it is worth, I will no longer describe technology companies as a whole as our dumbest clients when it comes to China. No, that honor now clearly belongs to a subset of technology companies: Internet of Things companies. And mind you, we love, love, love Internet of Things companies. For proof of this, just go to our recent post, China and the Internet of Things: A Love Story. Internet of Things (a/k/a IoT) companies are sprouting all over the place and they are booming. Most importantly for us, they need a ton of legal work because just about all IoT products are being made in China, more particularly, in Shenzhen. And just about all IoT products need a ton of complicated IP assistance.

So then why am I saying they are so dumb about China? Because they are relinquishing their intellectual property to Chinese companies more often, more wantonly, and more destructively than companies in any other industry I (or any of my firm’s other Chinese lawyers) have ever seen. Ever. And by a stunningly wide margin.

I then list out the following as “my prime example, taken from at least a half dozen real life examples in just the last few months”:

IoT Company: We just completed our Kickstarter (sometimes Indiegogo) campaign and we totally killed it and so now we are ready to get serious about protecting our IP in China.

One of our China Lawyers: Great. Where are you right now with China?

IoT Company: We have been working with a great company in Shenzhen. Together we are working on wrapping up the product and it should be ready in a few months.

China Lawyer: Okay. Do you have any sort of agreement with this Chinese company regarding your IP or production costs or anything else?

IoT Company: We have an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that talks about how we will cooperate. They’ve really been great. They have told us that they would enter into a contract with us whenever we are ready.

China Lawyer: Can you please send us the MOU? Have you talked about what that contract will say?

IoT Company: Sure, we can send the MOU. It’s one page. No, we haven’t really talked much beyond just what we need to do to get the product completed.

China Lawyer: Okay, we will look at your MOU and then get back to you with our thoughts.

Then, a day or two later we a conversation like the following ensues:

China Lawyer: We looked at your “MOU” and we have bad news for you. We think there is a very good chance a Chinese court would view that MOU as a contract. (For why we say this, check out Beware Of Being Burned By The China MOU/LOI) And the Chinese language portion of the MOU — which is all that a Chinese court will be considering — is very different from the English language portion. The Chinese language portion says that any IP the two of you develop (the IoT company and the Chinese manufacturer) belongs to the Chinese company. So what we see is that as things now stand, there is a very good chance the Chinese company owns your IP. This being the case, there is no point in our writing a Product Development Agreement because your Chinese manufacturer is not going to sign that.

IoT Company: (And I swear we get this sort of response at least 90 percent of the time) I’m not worried. I think you have it wrong. I’m sure that they will sign such an agreement because we orally agreed on this before we even started the project.

China Lawyer: That’s fine, but I still think it makes sense for you to at least make sure that the Chinese company will sign a new contract making clear that the IP associated with your product belongs to you, because if they won’t sign something that says that, there is no point in our drafting such a contract and, most importantly, there is no point in your paying us to do so.

So far not a single such IoT company has been able to come back to us with an agreement from their Chinese manufacturer to sign.

Again, no government force, just an overzealous and insufficiently careful foreign company.

Now before anyone excoriates me for ignoring reality, let me say that I have read about instances where the Chinese government has “forced” foreign companies to turn over their IP to China; high speed rail is an often cited example of that. And I do not doubt that it happens in critical industries (nuclear power would be another example). And I am also not unaware of how China is increasingly forcing foreign companies to store their data in China, which absolutely puts technology at risk. But even in these instances the foreign company has some choice. Not good choices, I know. And arguably it is no choice at all when the decision is between doing business in China or not. The last thing I want to do is get all philosophical on anyone regarding what constitutes choice so I will leave it to our individual readers to determine for themselves where on the continuum of force and choice they want to put any and all of the above.

There is plenty to complain about how China protects IP and there is plenty to complain about how China protects foreign companies that do business in China or with China, but I am just not sure complaining about forced IP transfers goes at the top of that list for most American companies. When I talk with American and European and Australian companies about China their biggest legal complaint is invariably how expensive it is for them to comply with China laws and how they resent that their Chinese competitors generally are not held to the same legal standards.

A couple of years ago, I gave the following testimony before The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission of the United States Congress:

I was introduced as an expert, and I’d like to qualify that by saying do not think of myself as an expert. I am just a private practice lawyer who represents American and Australian companies and some European and Canadian companies as well in China.

I’m going to tell you a little bit about what we do so you can get a little bit better perspective of where I’m coming from on this. The bulk of my firms’ clients are small and medium-size businesses, mostly American businesses, but some European and Australian and Canadian businesses as well. Most of them have revenues between 100 million and a billion a year. Our clients are mostly tech companies, manufacturing companies and service businesses.

About 20 percent of our work is for companies in the movie and entertainment industry. We have some clients in highly-regulated industries, like health care, senior care, banking, insurance, finance, telecom and mining, but those companies make up less than ten percent of our client base.

Most of the China work we do for our clients is relatively routine. We help them register as companies in China. We register their trademarks and copyrights in China. We draft their contracts with Chinese companies. We help them with their employment, tax and customs matters. We oversee their litigation in China, and we represent them in arbitrations in China. We help them buy Chinese companies.

For our clients, the big anti-foreign issue is whether they will be allowed to conduct business at all in China as that is certainly not always a given. Certain industries in China are shut off or limited to foreign businesses acting alone. For our clients, publishing and movies are most prominent.

Essentially anything that might allow for nongovernmental communication to or between Chinese citizens is problematic, but it is not clear to me that these limitations are intended to be anti-foreign, as China does not really want any private entities, foreign or Chinese, engaging in these activities without strict governmental oversight.

So do these limits against foreign companies arise from anti-foreign bias or just the Chinese government’s belief that it can better control Chinese companies? To our clients, that distinction doesn’t matter.

On day-to-day legal matters, our clients are almost invariably treated pursuant to law, and so long as they abide by the law, they seldom have any problems. The problem for our clients isn’t so much how the Chinese government treats them; it’s how they are treated as compared to their Chinese competitors who are less likely to abide by the laws and more likely to get away with it.

I have no statistics on this. I doubt there are any statistics on this, but I see it and I hear it all the time.

I see it when one of our clients buys a Chinese business that has half of its employees off the grid and has facilities that are not even close to being in compliance with use laws, and I know foreign companies cannot get away with that.

And I hear it from Chinese employees of our clients who insist that there is no need for our clients to follow various laws. They insist there is no need to follow various laws and to do so is stupid. Is this disparity due to anti-foreign bias or is it due to corruption? Again, for our clients, the answer is irrelevant.

Is the Trump administration’s IP investigation a negotiating ploy done as much to get at disparate treatment as it is to get at forced technology transfers? I do not think it is, but some who know more about such things tell me it may be.

CNN was the only one of the media companies that both interviewed me on the above issues and ended up quoting me and I like how it handled the issue in its article, President Trump is set to crank up the pressure on China over trade:

Beijing has other ways of getting its hands on valuable commercial information. Officials often insist on taking a close look at technology that foreign companies want to sell in China.

“Chinese government authorities jeopardize the value of trade secrets by demanding unnecessary disclosure of confidential information for product approvals,” the American Chamber of Commerce in China said in a report published in April.

Some experts say that handing over technology has effectively become a cost of doing business in China — a market too big for most companies to ignore.

“Many Chinese companies go after technology hard and the tactics they use show up again and again, leading us to believe there is some force (the government?) teaching them how to do these things,” said Dan Harris, a Seattle-based attorney who advises international companies on doing business in China.

“The thing is that the foreign companies that give up their technology usually do so at least somewhat of their own volition,” he told CNNMoney. “Yes, maybe they need to do so to get into China, but they also have the choice not to go into China, right?”

Closing the stable door?

Other analysts say that the U.S. administration is coming to the problem too late.

“Intellectual property (IP) theft is yesterday’s issue,” wrote Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“In part because of past technology transfer and in part because of heavy, sustained government investment in science and research, China has developed its own innovative capabilities,” he wrote.

“Creating new IP in the United States is more important than keeping IP from China.”

These are really complicated issues and I realize the above is more of a stream of consciousness “thoughts dump” than a coherent position paper. So more than ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.”

Dan’s point is that it is often bad negotiating tactics by the US side that leads to companies giving away their technology, not Chinese government pressure.

On August 15th, Investors Business Daily speculated that “Trump’s Trade War With China Is War On North Korea By Other Means” stating:

“But they [the Chinese government] may have underestimated Trump: He has the will, and likely the political support, for an even-more damaging war with China over trade. With the U.S. China’s largest market — in 2016, U.S. imports from China totaled nearly half a trillion dollars — a trade war is a serious threat to China, which is already showing signs of economic slowing.

That’s what’s behind Trump’s sudden decision to investigate China’s rampant theft of U.S. intellectual property. And on trade grounds only, Trump is right to investigate this, since it’s enshrined in both U.S. law and international trade treaties that egregious trade violations warrant retaliatory actions if the violations aren’t fixed.

The U.S. has been jawboning China on this for years, to no effect. China for years has seen the U.S. as a paper tiger, too feckless to act on its own behalf. Now, Trump is showing it otherwise. . .

Once again, Trump the savvy business negotiator seems to know his foe’s weak points.

Perhaps hoping to stall Trump’s trade action, China announced that it would cease North Korean imports of coal, iron and lead, and seafood, starting Sept. 5, in keeping with U.N. sanctions imposed on Kim Jong Un’s regime.

In a joint statement Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor Gen. James Mattis made explicit the link between China, trade and North Korea: “China is North Korea’s neighbor, sole treaty ally and main commercial partner,” they wrote. “Chinese entities are, in one way or another, involved with roughly 90% of North Korean trade. This affords China an unparalleled opportunity to assert its influence with the regime.”

The clear message: If you support North Korea’s regime economically, we’ll hurt you economically in return. It’s a Trumpian twist on Von Clausewitz’s famous dictum about war and politics: “(A trade) war is the continuation of politics by other means.”

As we’ve said before, we take a back seat to no one in advocating on behalf of free trade. But when one side routinely and systematically steals hundreds of billions of dollars worth of intellectual property, that’s no longer free trade. It’s piracy. . . .

North Korea’s nuclear blackmail, aided by China’s patronage, is not acceptable. If it takes trade sanctions to get China’s diplomatic attention, so be it. It’s time that China’s charade over its support of North Korea comes to an end.”

On August 8th, in an article entitled “Second Thoughts on Trade with China” William Galston for the Wall Street Journal stated:

“It is China’s techno-nationalism that poses the greatest threat to our future. In 2006 the Chinese government adopted a long-term plan to promote what it called “indigenous innovation.” As James McGregor, a leading expert on the Chinese economy, writes, China’s leading-edge firms were directed to obtain technology from their multinational partners through “co-innovation and re-innovation based on the assimilation of imported technologies.”

In practice, this meant giving American firms an offer Don Corleone would have recognized—either to “share their technologies with Chinese competitors—or refuse and miss out on the world’s fastest-growing market.” China’s ultimate goal is to use forced technology transfer to replace the U.S. as the world’s leading economy. . . .

Existing legal tools may not suffice to end these discriminatory practices. Although the WTO prohibits mandatory technology transfers, the Chinese government’s position is that trading technology for market access is purely a business decision. Protectionist government purchases are a key part of China’s strategy. . . .

If turning over our technological crown jewels to a foreign power is against the national interest, then our government should have the power to prevent it. But wielding this power without blowing up the international trade regime will not be easy.”

On August 21st, in an editorial entitled “Yes, China Steals U.S. Intellectual Property, But That Doesn’t Mean Trade With China Is A Bad Thing” Investors Business Daily tempered its initial response on the Section 301 case stating:

“Everyone is angry at China right now, and perhaps with good reason. China’s regime often bends trade rules to its own needs, and breaks them or ignores them when it’s convenient. . . .

The U.S. shouldn’t tolerate cheating on trade, by China or anyone else. It’s a matter of jobs and income for Americans and the companies that employ them.

Even so, that doesn’t mean everything China has done has been bad for the U.S. Far from it.

A new study, ” How Did China’s WTO Entry Benefit U.S. Consumers?” from the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research, shows why. It notes that from the time China joined the World Trade Organization in 2000 to 2006, the U.S. inflation index for factory goods fell an estimated 7.6%.

This might not sound like a lot, but it is. “The resulting savings were large,” the study says. “U.S. manufacturing sector production was valued at $4.5 trillion in 2014, so if prices had been 7.6% higher, that production would have cost $340 billion more.”

That is, profits for U.S. firms were likely billions of dollars higher over that six-year period than otherwise. And prices to American consumers fell.

How did this happen? The simple answer is freer trade. China cut its average tariff on manufacturing inputs from 15% in 2000 to 9% in 2006, a 40% reduction. Meanwhile, China’s government lifted export limits on its domestic companies, got rid of capital requirements, eased restrictions on foreign investment, raised its limits on textile exports and lowered the number of goods that required import licenses.

The result: China’s factory exports to the U.S. surged 290% from 2000 to 2006.

According to the study, “69% of the growth was driven by new exporters offering a widening variety of products, while 16% was created by incumbent firms exporting new products.”

The lower tariffs and other reductions in trade restrictions led to a Chinese   productivity boom, with an average 10% per year gain in productivity for Chinese companies that exported to the U.S. As for the price of U.S. manufactured goods, about two-thirds of the 7.6% reduction in factory prices here was due to China’s tariff cuts.

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

For its part, China’s communist    government in the  early  2000s  found   that taking  its hands off  the economy’s windpipe and engaging with the rest of the world through trade was  an  effective  strategy for making its economy grow. We  also  benefited  from that.

Now the Trump administration is warning an increasingly hostile China that its recent trade violations aren’t acceptable. China, in response, has blasted the U.S. for its “protectionism.”

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

In early 2000, China’s brilliant economic guru Premier Zhu Rongyi believed that China should join the WTO, not for the benefit of the United States or Europe, but for the benefit of China.  Premier Zhu realized that China would benefit from free trade by breaking down its own protectionist walls, which isolated China from the rest of the World.

It is somewhat ironic that the United States is apparently moving in the opposite direction, building protectionist walls to protect its companies from foreign competition.  Many US politicians have fallen into the trap of international trade victimhood because they simply do not understand the benefits of free trade to the United States.

SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE

On May 17, 2017, Suniva filed a Section 201 Escape Clause against all Solar Cell imports from all countries at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  On May 23, 2017, in the attached Federal Register notice, ITC iNITIATION NOTICE SOLAR CELLS, the ITC decided to go ahead and institute the case.  If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, within 60 days the President must decide whether or not to impose import relief, which can be in the form of increased tariffs, quotas or an orderly marketing agreements.

At the ITC, Section 201 cases are a two stage process.  The ITC must first determine whether “crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) cells (whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products) are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or the threat thereof, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported articles.”  The ITC has determined that the investigation is “extraordinarily complicated” and will make its injury determination within 128 days after the petition was filed, or by September 22, 2017. The Commission will submit to the President the report required under section 202(f) of the Act (19 U.S.C. § 2252(f)(1)) within 180 days after the date on which the petition was filed, or by November 13, 2017.

Prehearing briefs and posthearing briefs have been filed at the ITC and the ITC hearing was held on August 15th and was reportedly 11 hours long.

If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, it will go into a remedy phase and the hearing in that phase will be on October 3, 2017. Attached is the ITC public prehearing staff report, 2017.08.01 ITC Solar 201 Prehearing Report PUB.

The Staff Report shows that imports are up, value of imports are down, but US producers’ production and capacity have increased during the period of investigation 2012-2016.  Moreover, US producers’ profits and sales have increased in the period.  This is a very mixed staff report with no clear trends and could lead to a negative ITC injury determination on September 22nd.

Meanwhile, sixteen US senators have urged the ITC to consider how the increased tariffs on foreign solar cells could hurt the broader domestic solar industry. The letter specifically stated:

“We respectfully request that the commission carefully consider the potential negative impact that the high tariffs and minimum prices requested would have on the tens of thousands of solar workers in our states and on the hundreds of companies that employ them.”

The letter was signed by Senators: Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tillis (R-N.C.), Bennet (D- Colo.), Feinstein (D-Calif.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Perdue (R-Ga.), Gardner (R-Colo.), Heller (R-Nev.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Moran (R- Kan.), Scott (R-S.C.), Cardin (D-Md.), King (I-Maine), Collins (R-Maine), Markey (D-Mass.) and Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CIRCUMVENTION

On July 26, 2017, in the attached memorandum, prc-aluminum-extrusions-ar-072617, the Commerce Department published in the Federal Register a notice of affirmative final determination of circumvention of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders on aluminum extrusions from the People’s Republic of China. The Department determined that heat-treated extruded aluminum products that meet the chemical specifications for 5050 grade aluminum alloy, regardless of producer, exporter, or importer, constitute later-developed merchandise, are circumventing the orders.

As a result of the Department’s anti-circumvention determination, all heat-treated extruded aluminum products from the People’s Republic of China that meet the chemical specifications for 5050 grade aluminum alloy are considered to be in-scope merchandise and must be included in responses to the Department’s questionnaires.

FALSE CLAIMS ACT—FURNITURE

In a previous blog post,  I mentioned that the real hammer against transshipment of products to evade trade orders is not recent legislation from Congress, but the False Claims Act.  Under the False Claims Act, private parties can file suits in Federal District Court alleging fraud on the US government because of foreign exporters and US importers decision to use transshipment and other methods to evade US antidumping and countervailing duties.  Under the FCA, the relator can look back at 10 years of past imports and the antidumping duties in question can be over 100, 200 or even 300%.  Under the FCA the remedy is triple damages and when looking at imports over such a long period of time, the remedy can result in enormous payouts.

The private party files an FCA complaint as a relator on behalf of the US government.  The US government then decides whether or not to intervene in the case.  If the US government chooses to intervene, the relator is entitled to 15 to 25% of the recovery of the US government.  In one small FCA case here in Washington regarding medical bills, a clerk at a hospital received a payout of $2 to 3 million so anyone can be a relator.

More on point, In an intervention complaint, US GOVT INTERVENTION BLUE FURNITURE CASE, the US government intervened in a False Claims Act filed against evasion of millions of dollars in antidumping duties on imports of wooden bedroom furniture from China.

The lawsuit brought by University Loft Co., an Indiana-based wooden bedroom furniture company, accuses Florida-based Blue Furniture Solutions LLC, founder and president and its chief financial officer  of importing wooden bedroom furniture from China without paying the 216.01 percent anti-dumping rate by making false statements to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”).

In doing so, Blue Furniture escaped paying millions of dollars in duties and fees owed to the federal government from 2011 through 2015, the suit says.

The complaint states:

“To avoid the payment of anti-dumping duties and fees, defendants conspired with their Chinese manufacturers and exporters to fraudulently avoid customs duties and underpay fees owed to the United States by making false representations in entry documents about the nature and value of the imported merchandise.”

Specifically, the complaint states that Blue Furniture falsely identified its entries to Customs and Border Protection with codes and descriptions for merchandise that are not subject to antidumping duties.  But the complaint states that many of the wooden chests, dressers, nightstands, wardrobes and many of the beds imported were subject to antidumping duties.

In addition, the FCA complaint accuses the Florida-based company of instructing its China-based manufacturers and exporters how to mislabel and misclassify the merchandise on documents to be shown to CBP.

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

STAINLESS STEEL FLANGES FROM CHINA

On August 16, 2017, the Coalition of American Flange Producers and its individual members, Core Pipe Products, Inc., and Maass Flange Corporation filed new antidumping and countervailing duty cases against imports of Stainless Steel Flanges from China and India.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law. Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.30 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.32 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.33.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

WI-FI ENABLED ELECTRONIC DEVICES

On August 29, 2017, Sharp Corporation and Sharp Electronics Corporation filed a section 337 case against imports of Wi-Fi Enabled Electronic Devices.  The respondent companies named in the complaint are:

Hisense Co., Ltd., China; Hisense Electronic, Co., Ltd., China; Hisense International (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd., Hong Kong; Hisense USA Corporation, Suwanee, Georgia; Hisense Electronics Manufacturing Company of America Corporation, Suwanee, Georgia; Hisense USA Multimedia R&D Center, Inc., Suwanee, Georgia; and Hisense Inc., Huntington Beach, California.

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, including the impact on agriculture, the impact on downstream industries, the Section 232 and 301 cases, the 201 case against Solar Cells, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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