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

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR DECEMBER 10, 2015

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

THE TRIUMPH AND TRAGEDY OF TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A couple of points to make here:

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

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

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

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

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

TPP TEXT AND TRADE ADVISORY REPORTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TO TPP OR NOT TO TPP THAT IS THE QUESTION

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

Cut Tariffs on 18,000 products

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

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

Vietnam must allow formation of independent labor unions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Reichert further stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

PRESIDENT OBAMA PUSHES FOR TPP

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

A Trade Deal for Working Families

By Barack Obama

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

UNIONS PUSH AGAINST IT

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

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

The LAC report goes on to state:

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

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

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

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

The LAC went on to state with regards to Manufacturing:

Manufacturing—General

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donald Trump, Meet Herbert Hoover

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Donald Trump Is Upset

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMPACT ON NON MEMBER COUNTRIES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ITC TPP INVESTIGATION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CONGRESSIONAL ANNOUNCEMENT ON DEAL FOR NEW TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL

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

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

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

As Senator Wyden also stated:

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRADE, OCTG AND SOLAR, TTP, CUSTOMS, IP/PATENT, ANTITRUST AND SECURITIES

Renmin Square Chongqing Sichuan China at Night“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—MARCH 7, 2014

Dear Friends,

There have been major developments in the trade, Solar Cells, TTP, TPA, Chinese Antidumping, patents, US/Chinese antitrust, and securities areas.

TRADE

THE OCTG EXAMPLE—WHY NME STATUS FOR CHINA DOES NOT REFLECT MARKET REALITY

As indicated in past newsletters, the nonmarket economy status of China means that the Commerce Department does not use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping rates for Chinese companies.  In addition, Chinese companies must submit separate rates applications to show that the company is separate and independent from the Chinese government or the Chinese company will be considered part of the Chinese entity and get the highest antidumping rate.

Although the US China WTO Agreement provides that China is to be treated as a market economy by December 11, 2016, recently in Washington DC, US government officials indicated that they have no intention of abiding by this Agreement and will continue to follow the US antidumping law as written.  In other words, as it stands now, the Commerce Department will not make China a market economy country in 2016, even though this provision was put into the WTO Accession Agreement at the demand of the United States.

The unfairness of the NME methodology against China, however, is illustrated by the Countervailing Duty and Antidumping Cases on Oil Country Tubular Goods, which are steel pipes used to drill oil wells.  In January 2010 the Commerce Department issued a countervailing duty order on OCTG from China with rates ranging from 10.49 to 15.78.  On May 2010, the Commerce Department issued an antidumping order on OCTG from China with dumping rates ranging from 32.07% to 99%.  These high rates had the effect of shutting most Chinese OCTG out of the US market.  CVDOCTGORDER  AD ORDER OCTG

Again, since it is a Nonmarket Economy Country, the Chinese CVD/anti-subsidy  rates are based on the Commerce Department’s refusal to look at any benchmarks in China.  In the Antidumping (“AD”) Case, the Commerce Department refused to look at any prices or costs in China.  In the China OCTG case, Commerce used surrogate values from publicly available published information in India, most of which were Indian import statistics.  But if products can be sourced domestically in India, often import statistics are highly inflated.

In the first review investigation on OCTG from China, Commerce decided to pick values for raw materials from a list of different surrogate countries, including Colombia, Indonesia, Peru, the Philippines, South Africa, Thailand, and Ukraine.  Commerce chose Indonesia.  OCTG PRELIM  Since importers are exposed to retroactive liability if antidumping rates go up and the Commerce Department is constantly switching surrogate countries so the Chinese companies cannot know whether they are dumping, no importer is willing to take the risk and import from China with exposure to millions of dollars in retroactive antidumping and countervailing duties on OCTG from China.

So what happened?  Because of the high antidumping and countervailing duty rates against China based on bogus cost calculations, imports from other countries entered the United States and replaced the Chinese imports.  On July 2, 2013, in response to the increase in imports from other countries, the US OCTG industry filed antidumping investigations against India, Korea, the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, Thailand, Turkey, Ukraine, and Vietnam and countervailing duty investigations against India and Turkey.

As the ITC stated in its atached preliminary staff report:

Subject imports of OCTG have increased since 2010.  At the beginning of 2010, Countervailing duties on OCTG imported from China entered into effect, and antidumping duties followed in April 2010.  After the placement of AD and CVD duties on Chinese product, subject imports increased….

ITC PRELIMINARY OCTG MANY COUNTRIES Pub4422 OCTG pdf

As the Commission also stated in its preliminary staff report, “Korea has been the largest source of imports of OCTG since 2010.”  In fact, the word on the street was that the Koreans had increased their exports to the US replacing more than 50% of the Chinese imports.

In fact, since 1984 OCTG imports have been the subject of approximately 50 antidumping and countervailing duty investigations against various countries.  The first OCTG cases were filed in 1984 and I worked on those cases when I was at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) in the early 1980s.  In effect, the US OCTG industry has had some form of protection from imports for about 30 years.

In the CVD cases, the Petition alleged that the Indian companies were allegedly benefitting from almost 70 different Indian government subsidy programs and the Turkish companies from almost 25 different Turkish government programs.

But now the Commerce Department must use actual benchmarks in target countries to calculate countervailing duty rates and actual prices and costs to calculate antidumping rates.

On December 17, 2013, the Commerce Department issued its preliminary Countervailing Duty Determinations against India and Turkey.  Despite the allegations that the Indian and Turkish companies were benefitting from a total of almost a hundred government programs, the Countervailing Duty Rates for India and Turkey, Drum Roll Please, were 0 to 3.5% for India and 0% for Turkey.  factsheet-OCTG-Prelim-multiple-121713

On February 18, 2014, the Commerce Department issued its attached preliminary antidumping determinations.  OCTG PRELIMINARY AD DETERMINATION FACT SHEET  Other than Thailand, most producers in the countries answered the Commerce Department’s antidumping questionnaire.  What were the actual calculated antidumping rates based on actual prices and costs in their respective countries?

The Korean producers, the largest exporters, received antidumping rates of 0% and a complete negative antidumping determination as to Korea.

The Indian producers received antidumping rates of 0 to 55.29%.  The Philippines producer received 8.9%.  The Saudi Arabian producer 2.65%.  The Taiwan producers received antidumping rates ranging from 0 to 2.65%.  The Turkish producers received rates of 0 to 4.87%.  The Ukrainian producer, Ukraine is a market economy country, received a rate of 5.31%.

When the Commerce Department uses actual prices and costs in the subject country to calculate actual antidumping rates, high dumping rates fall dramatically and are often non-existent.  But the Commerce Department has used an unfair methodology against China in US AD and CVD cases for more than 30 years and has no intention at the present time of ever treating China as a market economy country.  This is fairness Commerce style.

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

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

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

During a recent trip to Washington DC, Government officials and Congressional staff stated that they were firmly convinced that the TPA will eventually pass Congress.  Apparently, the TPA must start up in the House of Representatives and according to a knowledgeable source, there is bipartisan support for the TPA in the House.  The source mentioned that if the House passes the TPA, there will be substantial pressure in the Senate to pass the TPA and knowledgeable officials believe that a House originated TPA would pass the Senate today.  But that source could be wrong.

According to government officials, any Senator or Congressman can see the current negotiating text of the TPP or TTIP.  Also any interested Senator or Congressman can ask to be a “Congressional advisor” and such Senator or Congressman will be given negotiating credentials and can attend any of the negotiating sessions.  Congressional Staffers from relevant Congressional committees also have been at the TPP and TTIP negotiations.

These activities indicate that the Trade Agreements are moving and when Trade Agreements move in Congress, at a certain point in time, there becomes a band wagon effect and everyone wants to jump onboard the Free Trade/FTA Express.  We will have to see if that bandwagon effect truly starts up in Congress.

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY (“TPA”), TPP AND THE TTIP/TRANS-ATLANTIC NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE AS CONGRESSIONAL GROUPS PUSH TPA THROUGH CONGRESS

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

To summarize, on January 9, 2014, Senator Max Baucus, Democrat, Senator Orrin Hatch, Republican, of the Senate Finance Committee and Representative Dave Camp, Republican, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, introduced the attached Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities Act of 2014,. HOUSE FAST TRACK BILL  The TPA bill gives the Administration, USTR and the President, Trade Promotion Authority or Fast Track Authority so that if and when USTR negotiates a trade deal in the TPP or the Trans-Atlantic negotiations, the Agreement will get an up or down vote in the US Congress with no amendments.

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

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

Senators Baucus and Hatch introduced the TPA in the Senate.  Chairman Camp of the House Ways and Means Committee introduced the TPA bill in the House, but President Obama could not persuade one Democratic Congressman to introduce the TPA bill into the House.

After the January 16th hearing, Republicans, including House Speaker Boehner, and free trade Democrats urged President Obama to get more involved saying that he has to become personally involved in pushing the TPA or the new Bill will simply not pass Congress. Many trade commentators were stating that if the President’s trade agenda falls apart, there is no one else to blame but the President himself.  They argue that the President has failed to reassure doubters, explain trade’s enormous benefits, assuage concerns, correct misconceptions, or make an affirmative public case as to why new trade agreements are essential to the nation’s prosperity.  This failure has left a vacuum that has been filled by organized, anti-trade interests, many on the Democratic side of the aisle, who have made it very difficult for Democratic Congressmen to support the TPA and the Trade Agreements.

In response to the Republicans call in Congress for the Administration to do more, on January 28th President Obama spoke about the importance of the importance of the TPA and the Trade Agreements in his State of the Union.  On January 29th, however, Senator Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, the head Democrat in the Senate, came out against TPA, stating, “Everyone would be well-advised to not push this right now.”

Since the Majority Leader, Senator Harry Reid controls the bills that are allowed on the Senate Floor, the statement appeared to indicate that the TPA bills are dead in the Congress, which means that the President’s trade agenda and his push for these agreements are also dead.

On January 29th White House press secretary Jay Carney stated:

“Leader Reid has always been clear on his position on this particular issue. As the President said in the State of the Union address, he will continue to work to enact bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers and environment and to open markets to new goods stamped ‘Made in the U.S.A.’ And we will not cede this important opportunity for American workers and businesses to our competitors.”

On February 4th, it was reported that StopFastTrack.com, a new coalition opposed to the TPA bill and the TPP and TA Trade Agreements is building grassroots support, gathering more than a half a million signatures and making tens of thousands of calls to Senators and Congressmen lawmakers to argue against trade legislation in Congress.

Although the Administration apparently looked at Senator Reid’s statement as a setback, they have decided to push forward.  On February 10th, the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) Froman stated with regards to Labor Standards that the TPP and the other agreements offer a chance to improve global labor practices and to raise standards across the globe.  On February 14th the Administration stated that despite opposition of the top Congressional Democrats, the Administration still aims to complete the TPP negotiations in 2014.

On February 18th President Obama promoted the benefits of the TPP in discussions with the Mexican President and Canadian Prime Minister.  During that trip, Obama stated that it was “inaccurate” to suggest that Democratic lawmakers universally oppose the TPP, adding that he believes the agreement, if it’s a good one, will ultimately pick up approval in Congress. “There are elements of my party that oppose this trade deal; there are elements of my party that oppose the South Korea free trade agreement, the Colombia free trade agreement and the Panama free trade agreement — all of which we passed with Democratic votes.  So what I’ve said to President Peña Nieto and Prime Minister Harper is we’ll get this passed if it’s a good agreement.”

On February 18th USTR Michael Froman stated that the Obama administration would put in place transparency measures to quell criticism of TPP and TTIP, stressing that the two deals need to advance to significantly improve employment and environmental standards around the globe and better protect U.S. intellectual property.

In a speech at the Center for American Progress’ office, Froman stated that the and that the Trade Agreements are opportunities to help shape the terms of a significant segment of international trade and raise global standards through the promotion of U.S. values, according to the USTR.  Froman stated:

“Trade, done right, is part of the solution, not part of the problem. . . Through enforcement actions we are able to stand up for our rights and fight for our people. Through negotiations we are able to create new opportunities.”

The USTR acknowledged Congressional criticism about the deals and urged Congress to “step forward” and update its role in negotiating trade agreements. He said members of Congress were welcome to view the text of the deals as they stand at any time, and noted that no trade agreement will win approval without Congressional assent.

The Chorus has begun to rise about the benefits of the Agreements.  On February 19th, Mr. Myron Briliant, the executive vice president and head of international affairs at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, published an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Why Harry Reid Must Reconsider on Trade”, stating:

“Take the U.S. auto industry, which has made a comeback after the recession. Automobiles made in the U.S. face a 35% import tariff in Malaysia, shutting American manufacturers out of the market.

Though the U.S. is the largest agricultural exporter in the world, Vietnam levies double- and triple-digit duties on U.S. farm goods. The country recently raised taxes on a number of products ranging from walnuts to tomato sauce. Express shippers, insurers and banks are at a major disadvantage in Japan, where regulations prop up a state-owned company called Japan Post Holdings.

The interference damages the U.S. economy.  In 2010, the Commerce Department estimated that foreign tariffs reduce the earnings of U.S. factory workers by as much as 12%. The impact spreads to other sectors such as agriculture due to non-tariff barriers including unscientific sanitary requirements. The way to fix these inequalities? New trade agreements that demand accountability and fairness.

Free trade agreements have eliminated disadvantages in the past. America’s 20 trade-agreement partners represent 10% of the global economy, but they buy nearly half of our exports. Citizens of these countries purchase 12 times more U.S. exports per capita than citizens of countries without trade agreements. The U.S. boasts a trade surplus in manufacturing, agriculture and services with these 20 partners, unlike the trade deficit it runs with the rest of the world.

American workers reap the benefits. Earnings are 18% higher for workers in factories that export than in those that don’t, according to a 2010 Commerce Department report.

Small businesses also stand to gain from freer trade. Large firms often find a way to work around foreign trade barriers, but tariffs are often a deal-breaker for small companies. Creating new trade agreements would significantly help the U.S.’s 300,000 small exporters. . . .

But to tackle any of these inequalities, Congress must first approve TPA. . . .Without TPA, U.S. exports will remain at a profound disadvantage. Renewing TPA would help restore fair competition in trade—and put economic growth in the U.S. ahead of partisan politics.”

 

On February 24th, it was reported that the US and Japan were not able to reach agreement in the most recent TPP negotiations.  In attached letter dated February 21st, Grassley-Bennet-Letter-to-Froman-Japan-TPP-2-21-14-2 a bipartisan group of senators urged the U.S. not to close TPP negotiations unless Japan agrees to drop protection for certain agricultural products.  Specifically, 18 senators led by Sens. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, and Michael F. Bennet, D-Colo., told U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman that they were concerned that Japan had not yet made an offer in the course of the TPP negotiations to open up its agriculture sector without exceptions. The senators said that allowing special treatment for some of Japan’s agricultural products may undermine U.S. efforts to secure more access to the agriculture markets in the 11 other countries involved in the TPP.

As the Senators stated:

“We write to express our concerns that Japan has not yet made a comprehensive offer on agricultural products as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations. We believe that this situation could undermine the Administration’s goal of significantly increasing market access for U.S. agricultural products in TPP party countries.

In previous trade negotiations, the United States requested and received full and comprehensive liberalization in the agricultural sector from both developed countries like Japan as well as developing countries. By requesting special treatment for its agricultural sector in the TPP, Japan may upset the careful balance of concessions that the eleven economies involved in the negotiations have achieved. If Japan continues to insist on protecting certain agricultural products, other countries with sensitivities in the agricultural sector may make similar demands.

As intended, the TPP will facilitate additional trade relationships with Asia-Pacific countries and set an important precedent for future trade agreements. Most immediately, a positive outcome with Japan on sensitive agricultural products will buoy the prospects for reaching an acceptable agreement with the EU in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership negotiations.

The market access package that the Administration negotiates with Japan has the potential to support billions of dollars in future exports and hundreds of thousands of jobs. For this reason, we seek assurances from you that the U.S. will not close the TPP negotiations without an acceptable comprehensive agreement with Japan to eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers in agriculture.”

 

In the last week in February, USTR Froman went to Singapore to meet with trade ministers from the 11 other TPP countries — Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. The ministerial meeting was the first since December, when the TPP countries stated they could not wrap up negotiations by the end of 2013.

At the Singapore meeting, the two countries that had problems were Japan and Canada.  The TPP discussions ended February 25th with no agreement although gaps on unresolved issues had narrowed, and the 12 countries in the talks remain “fully committed” to closing a deal.

The U.S. has pushed for greater access to the Japanese agriculture market, while Japan has sought to keep tariff and other trade protections on certain agricultural products, such as rice, wheat and pork.

On March 3rd it was reported that representatives of the US dairy industry were losing patience with Japan and Canada and their failure to fully open their markets to foreign dairy productions.  The concern was so high that they raised the issue of closing the talks without Japan and Canada.  Apparently, in Singapore, not only the United States, but the rest of the countries were increasingly impatient with Japan and Canada.

After the close of a TPP ministers’ meeting in Singapore, the National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council issued a joint statement calling for negotiators to ramp up the pressure on Japan and Canada to secure full tariff elimination on dairy products.

“It is time to finish the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiations, including resolving the treatment of agricultural trade,” USDEC President Tom Suber said. “The principle of creating comprehensive market access is too important to this and future trade agreements. Therefore, if Japan and Canada are not committed to this goal, we need to move forward without them.”

Recently, in Washington DC, government sources indicated that if there is no movement from the two countries, the TPP should be finalized without Japan and Canada.

The two US Dairy groups also reiterated their longstanding demands that a final TPP deal include effective disciplines for applying sanitary and phytosanitary measures that are science based and enforceable and prevent restrictions on the use of common food products.

The Congressional problem is most apparent in the debate over whether to include currency manipulation restrictions in the TPP.  Dire warnings over misaligned currency creating unfair advantages in exports have become a rallying cry for US industries.  It appears quite likely that any bill providing trade promotion authority will insist that the TPP and any other trade agreement include a provision addressing the use of monetary policy or other methods to promote exports through currency manipulation.

Numerous countries participating in the TPP negotiations, however, have already taken a strong stance against the inclusion of any provision on currency, and the Obama administration is on record opposing the provisions for that reason.

Obama wants the Trade Agreements, but not if they conflict with a more immediate political goal, preserving the Senate in the mid-term 2014 for the Democrats.  That balancing act has marked Mr. Obama’s approach since 2008. To persuade union voters who blame globalization for stagnant wages, Obama the candidate spoke of renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement. Then, as President, he dropped the idea.

As a fallback strategy, Mr. Obama and his aides now aim to flip the situation around. They hope to persuade lawmakers to grant that authority after midterm elections by showing them a tentative Asia deal.  That would leave little time for action before the 2016 presidential primary season — which, if 2008 is any guide, will probably increase Democratic resistance.

During my recent trip to Washington, I began to see a more optimistic view of the Trade Talks.  Congressional staffers and commentators stated that Sen. Reid’s position on trade is well known and that he has a decades-long record of opposition to trade agreements.  His current stance is completely consistent with that record.  But Reid could have stopped the ratification of recent free-trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama, but he did not.

One reason is China.  While China is not part of the TPP, hopefully the TPP will create rules, which can used to restrain some of the Chinese actions in the future. People familiar with the negotiations say China is watching closely, consulting with players at the table and lobbying through its proxies against proposed new standards for state-owned enterprises.  New rules ratified in the Trans-Pacific Partnership would set a minimum expectation for any future, broader deal that might one day include China, such as an all-Asia free-trade zone.

USTR ISSUES ANNUAL TRADE REPORT TO CONGRESS

On March 3rd, the USTR issued its annual trade report to Congress.  Chapter I The Presidents Trade Policy Agenda  In its summary, the USTR stated that concluding the TPP and the TTIP with Europe were two primary objectives:

Conclude the Ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations . . .

TPP will expand U.S. trade with dynamic economies throughout the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region. Experts estimate that economies around the Pacific Rim will continue to grow faster than the world average, elevating income levels and creating increased market opportunities. Along with the United States, TPP partners now include Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam. . . . According to an analysis supported by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a successful TPP agreement would provide global income benefits of an estimated $223 billion per year, by 2025, while potentially expanding annual U.S. exports by $124 billion. TPP countries also account for 28 percent of global marine catch and over a third of global timber production, thus providing a meaningful opportunity to advance environmental stewardship efforts in the region.

The entry of Japan, the world’s third-largest economy, into TPP negotiations in July 2013 has further expanded the commercial impact of the TPP agreement.

Advance Negotiations with the European Union in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership

On June 17, 2013 President Obama and EU leaders announced that the United States and the EU would launch negotiations on a comprehensive trade and investment agreement to strengthen a partnership that already supports $1 trillion in annual two-way trade, nearly $4 trillion in investment, and roughly 13 million direct jobs – the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP) agreement.

This year, we expect to make significant progress in the T-TIP negotiations. After three negotiating rounds in the latter half of 2013, the Administration plans to maintain a similar pace for the talks in 2014.

On March 4th, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI) released the following statement in response to the President’s 2014 Trade Agenda:

Camp: “I welcome the Administration’s focus on developing new markets for goods and services produced by U.S. manufacturers, service providers, and farmers, as well as on ensuring that our trading partners play by the rules. In particular, I hope that we can conclude the Trans-Pacific Partnership shortly with those countries now willing, ready, and able to meet its ambitious obligations. We must increase market access for goods, services, and agriculture products, as well as secure enforceable rules related to issues such as intellectual property protection, disciplines on state-owned enterprises, restraints on localization barriers, investor-state dispute settlement, cross-border data flows, and disciplines on sanitary and phytosanitary barriers. . . .

“While the Agenda fails to address the problem of currency manipulation, it otherwise generally meets the objectives set in the bipartisan, bicameral Trade Priorities Act. That legislation also provides the necessary tools to address the unfairness and distortion caused when countries manipulate their currencies to gain a trade advantage.

“TPA is my top trade priority because it opens new markets and establishes enforceable rules for our trading partners, creating new U.S. jobs and economic activity. The President will not be able to conclude and implement any of the trade negotiations set forth in his Agenda without TPA. That’s why I was so surprised to see TPA barely mentioned in the document. In addition, while I welcome the transparency measures outlined in the Agenda, our bipartisan bill goes considerably further in setting out requirements for the Administration to consult with Congress and share timely and detailed information – another reason why I am seeking rapid bipartisan consideration of this bill. TPA is necessary to set out the negotiating objectives that Congress defines as vital, establish the terms for Congressional consultations during the negotiations, and retain for Congress the final say in consideration of implementing bills after the negotiations.

SOLAR CELLS—NEW ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE TO CLOSE THIRD COUNTRY LOOPHOLE AND AGAINST CHINA AND TAIWAN

Attached is my latest article on the Solar Cell/Products Wars with China in the Solar Industry Magazine.  PERRY ARTICLE SOLAR INDUSTRY MAGAZINE

As mentioned in previous newsletters, on December 31, 2013, Solar World filed another antidumping and countervailing duty petition to close the third country loophole against China and Taiwan.

On January 23rd, the Commerce Department initiated the Solar Products cases against China and Taiwan, but it made some changes.  See the attached initiation notice, factsheet-multiple-solar-products-initiation-012313 which includes the scope of the merchandise, the specific products covered by the new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations.

Many trade lawyers have come to the same conclusion that when the scope in the past case and the present case are combined, the only way for US importers to escape liability is to have the underlying solar cells, modules and panels all made outside of China and Taiwan.  In effect, the entire chain of production would have to occur outside of China and Taiwan, which will have the effect of driving up the cost of business for major segments of the U.S. solar industry that need solar components, such as utility-scale solar project developers, rooftop solar companies and public utilities.

Meanwhile, as indicated below, the Chinese government has retaliated by finalizing antidumping and countervailing duties on imports of polysilicon from the US, shutting all US produced polysilicon, close to $2 billion, out of China.  Since last year U.S. polysilicon exporters have faced preliminary CVD duties in China of 6.5 percent, and AD duties of 53.3 to 57 percent and those duties are now final.

On January 26th, MOFCOM announced that it was delaying these duties for the moment and on January 30th called for negotiations over the Solar Cells/Products Antidumping and Countervailing duty cases.

In the attached February 5, 2014 letter to President Obama, SOLAR WORLD LETTER Solar World, the Petitioner in the Solar Cells and Solar Products cases, stated that it “remains open to any prospective resolution that promises to hold China accountable to trade agreements and laws that enable fair trade. “

On February 14, 2014, as indicated in the attached announcement, ITC AFFIRMATIVE PRELIM SOLAR PRODUCTS CASE.htm the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), four Commissioners voting, reached an affirmative preliminary injury determination finding that there is a reasonable indication that a U.S. industry is materially injured by reason of imports of certain crystalline silicon photovoltaic products from China that are allegedly subsidized and from China and Taiwan that are allegedly sold in the United States at less than fair value.

In response to the ITC vote, on February 19, 2014, MOFCOM stated that the ITC failed to consider the facts in determining that Chinese solar products had caused “substantial damage” to the U.S. domestic industry.   MOFCOM in particular pointed out that solar products “originated in China bring huge commercial benefits and job opportunities for the upstream and downstream industries of the U.S.”

MOFCOM went on to emphasize that solving trade disputes through dialogue and negotiations is the best way to solve the Solar problems between the US and China.

As mentioned in previous newsletters, the ITC’s standard in a 45 day preliminary injury investigations in antidumping and countervailing duty cases is very low.  To find a “reasonable indication” of material injury or threat of material injury all the Commissioners have to find is that more evidence will be discovered in a final injury investigation  Thus, the ITC decision was simply to continue the investigation and not that that Chinese imports caused substantial damage to the US industry.

Also as mentioned in previous newsletters, there is no public interest test and end user companies do not have standing in US antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  Thus, the ITC cannot consider whether the Chinese imports are providing substantial benefits to downstream industries or consumers in its determination.

On a recent trip to Washington DC, several knowledgeable sources stated that there is still no real movement at the Commerce Department on a Suspension Agreement in the Solar Cells/Products cases.  This would indicate that although there has been a lot of talk, there is still no action.

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE—DRY CLEANING CHEMICALS FROM THE US

On February 20th, it was reported that China has imposed provisional anti-dumping duties ranging from 33 percent to more than 76 percent on dry cleaning chemicals from the U.S. and Europe after finding the imports were sold at unfair prices and were injuring Chinese producers.  More specifically, MOFCOM announced that it would level antidumping duties on imports from the US and Europe of perchlorethylene, a chemical sometimes referred to as tetrachloroethylene, and used as a solvent in the dry cleaning industry.

According to MOFCOM, U.S.-based Dow Chemical Co., PPG Industries Inc., Axiall Corp. and Occidental Chemical Corp. all face 76.2 percent dumping margins under the provisional Chinese duty order.

CUSTOMS

EXECUTIVE ORDER TO STREAMLINE TRADE 

On February 19th, President Obama signed the attached executive order executive order to speed up the creation of a single, electronic portal for businesses to submit information related to shipments that cross U.S. borders, a move intended to save time and money for importers and exporters.

The executive order calls for the development, by the end of 2016, of an International Trade Data System that would allow businesses to provide import and export data to the U.S. government through a “single window,” according to a fact sheet put out by the White House. The changes are expected to cut processing and approval times “from days to minutes” for shipments coming to and leaving the U.S.

CUSTOMS FRAUD—LIABILITY OF INDIVIDUAL OWNERS AND EMPLOYEES

There has been a recent development at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) regarding the liability of individuals for Customs violations with a CAFC decision to hold an en banc review by the entire Court of its July 30, 2013 decision in United States v. Trek Leather, Inc.  United States v. Trek Leather, Inc., 724 F.3d 1330 (CAFC 2013) In that case a three judge panel in the CAFC based on a 2-1 decision determined that corporate officers of an “importer of record” are not directly liable for penalties under § 1592(c)(2) “absent piercing Trek’s corporate veil to establish that Shadadpuri was the actual importer of record, as defined by statute, or establishing that Shadadpuri is liable for fraud under §1592(a)(1)(A), or as an aider and abettor of fraud.”

On March 5, 2014 the CAFC issued the attached orderTREK LEATHER CASE accepting the US Government’s petition for a rehearing en banc, which means a hearing before all eleven judges of the CAFC.  The CAFC ordering the parties to file briefs on the following issues:

A) 19 U.S.C. § 1592(a) imposes liability on any “person” who “enter[s], introduce[s], or attempt[s] to enter or introduce” merchandise into United States commerce by means of fraud, gross negligence, or negligence by the means described in § 1592(a). What is the meaning of “person” within this statutory provision?  How do other statutory provisions of Title 19 affect this inquiry?

B) If corporate officers or shareholders qualify as “persons” under § 1592(a), can they be held personally liable for duties and penalties imposed under § 1592(c)(2)

and

(3) when, while acting within the course and scope of their employment on behalf of the corporation by which they are employed, they provide inaccurate information relating to the entry or introduction of merchandise into the United States by their corporation? If so, under what circumstances?

C) What is the scope of “gross negligence” and “negligence” in 19 U.S.C. § 1592(a) and what is the relevant duty? How do other statutory provisions in Title 19 affect this inquiry?

In its request for the rehearing, the Government stated:

“The panel’s decision provides a roadmap for importers to negligently violate the customs laws; one individual can transact the same importing business using multiple shell companies as importers of record, allowing evasion of personal liability for duties and penalties in all but the most egregious situations.”

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA—NOW TRANSSHIPMENT

With regards to the Chinese ban on shellfish from the West Coast, on January 31st it was reported that the Chinese government wants to send an audit team to the US to check how seafood is tested.  In the meantime, they would not relax the ban on the West Coast shellfish.

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

The ban has seriously hurt the Pacific Northwest shellfish industry, blocking imports to the major market for geoducks right before Friday’s observance of Chinese New Year.

In Early February it was reported that the ban on Pacific Coast shellfish is still in place as the US government had received a letter from China stating the fact.

See the attached article and a link to a report by Chinese television on the Geoduck problem http://pugetsoundblogs.com/waterways/2014/01/23/chinese-tv-discusses-shellfish-import-ban/#axzz2v8CrqCIY

A local Washington newspaper reported that one Indian tribe was able to get around the Chinese ban on shellfish imports by shipping the geoducks to Hong Kong and Canada.  One Tribal Fisheries Manager stated that Buyers were able to get around the ban “by going through Canada and Hong Kong to get restricted American geoducks to China. .  . Some of the buyers are Canadian.  They end up buying product, crossing the border and shipping to China that way . . .Other buyers have been able to get product to Hong Kong and over to China. . . The buyers themselves are figuring out ways to get product to China.”

The problem is that these schemes are considered transshipment, and the US government and US Congressmen have been complaining about this unfair practice in Chinese food imports for many, many years.

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

What goes around does indeed come around.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

ITC IS MAKING IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR PATENT TROLLS

In a Jan. 9 decision clearing Hewlett-Packard Co. and others of infringement, the ITC reversed long-standing precedent and held for the first time that in order to use licensing activities to satisfy the domestic industry requirement for suing at the ITC, nonpracticing entities (“NPES”) must prove that there are products that practice the patent.

The Commission specifically stated in the order:

“We affirm the ALJ’s application of his ground rules to find that TPL failed to demonstrate the existence of articles practicing the mapping patents.  . . .  Because TPL did not demonstrate the existence of articles practicing the mapping patents, it cannot demonstrate the existence of a domestic industry.”

In this decision the ITC reversed long-standing precedent and held for the first time that in order to use licensing activities to satisfy the domestic industry requirement for suing at the ITC, NPES must prove that there are products that practice the patent.

The ITC had previously held that licensing alone could satisfy the requirement, regardless of whether licensees used the patents in their products. Proving the existence of products covered by the patents may be difficult for NPES and could discourage them from suing at the ITC.  Those NPES that do not keep close watch on whether the invention is being practiced will have a much more difficult time meeting the domestic industry requirement at the ITC.

ITC REQUESTS EN BANC REHEARING AT CAFC OF SUPREMA DECISION

On February 21, 2014, the ITC requested at the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) a panel rehearing or a rehearing en bank of the CAFC December 13th decision in Suprema v.International Trade Commission.  In Suprema, the CAFC by a split vote vacated the exclusionary order in Certain Biometric Scanning Devices, Inv. No. 337-TA-720, holding that “an exclusion order based on a violation of 19 U.S.C. §1337(a)(1)(B)(i) may not be predicated on a theory of induced infringement under 35 U.S.C. §271(b) where direct infringement does not occur until after importation of the articles the exclusion order would bar.”  See previous January Post for a description and copy of the CAFC decision.

In its Brief filed at the CAFC, the ITC argues that this December 13th decision overturns many past 337 decisions and is contrary to CAFC and Supreme Court precedent stating:

By holding that “there are no ‘articles that . . . infringe’ at the time of importation when direct infringement has yet to occur”, the panel overlooked Supreme Court precedent that culpability for induced infringement is independent from direct infringement and attaches at “the distribution of the tool intended for infringing use.” . . . The panel also overlooked this Court’s precedent that liability for infringement by inducement attaches “as of the time the acts were committed, not at some future date” of direct infringement. . . .

By interpreting 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(1)(B)(i) to reach only articles that directly infringe at the time of importation, the panel overlooked decades of precedent affirming Commission orders that exclude articles proven to indirectly infringe under 35 U.S.C. §§ 271(b) and (c). . . . Even though it appears that the panel in this case did not intend its decision to preclude an action under section 337 based on contributory infringement, parties in other cases have already argued to this Court that “[t]he reasoning in Suprema also dooms [a] contributory infringement claim” because in such a claim articles do not directly infringe at the time of importation.  . . .

By characterizing the Commission’s order as a “ban [on the] importation of articles which may or may not later give rise to direct infringement” . ., the panel confused the question of an appropriate remedy under 19 U.S.C. § 1337(d) with the question of liability under 19 U.S.C. § 1337(a)(1)(B)(i), in contravention” of past CAFC precedent.

DUPONT TRADE SECRET CONVICTION

As reported in my last newsletter, there is an ongoing jury trial in California Federal District Court regarding the theft of trade secrets from Dupont  by a California businessman and a former DuPont Co. engineer, which were accused of stealing DuPont’s proprietary method of manufacturing titanium dioxide and selling the information to Chinese government-owned companies for $28 million.

On March 5th, the jury found businessman Walter Liew and his company USA Performance Technology Inc. along with  Robert Maegerle, the former DuPont engineer, guilty of conspiracy to commit economic espionage and possession of trade secrets and a number of other charges.

The US Attorney’s office spoke in favor of the decision stating, “Fighting economic espionage and trade secret theft is one of the top priorities of this office and we will aggressively pursue anyone, anywhere, who attempts to steal valuable information from the United States. . .  . As today’s verdict demonstrates, foreign governments threaten our economic and national security by engaging in aggressive and determined efforts to steal U.S. intellectual property. I commend the efforts of the women and men of the FBI and the IRS in protecting America’s businesses and our national security.”

The jury’s verdict came after nearly a week of deliberations, following six weeks of testimony detailing Liew’s efforts to steal DuPont’s secrets and secure contracts with Chinese companies, including Pangang Group Co. and its subsidiaries, to build titanium-dioxide-making factories in China.  The Judge ordered Liew to prison, while Maegerle remains free.  Both are scheduled to be sentenced June 10.

NEW 337 CASE AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES FOR IMPORTS OF SULFENTRAZONE

Docket No: 3004

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Lisa a. Chiarini

Firm/Org: Hughes, Hubbard, & Reed LLP

Behalf Of: FMC Corporation

Date Received: March 5, 2014

Commodity: Sulfentrazone from China

Description:  Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Acting Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended regarding Certain Sulfentrazone, Sylfentrazone Compositions, and Processes for Making Sulfentrazone. The proposed respondents are: Beijing Nutrichem Science and Technology Stock Co., Ltd., China; Summit Agro USA LLC, Cary, North Carolina; Summit Agro North America Holding Corporation, New York, New York; and Jiangxi Heyi Chemicals Co. Ltd., China.

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

On February 13, 2014, Back Joy Orthotics filed a patent and copyright case against Forvic International, a Korean company, and Wook Yoon, a Korean national, against imports of back seat supports that are produced in China.  BACKJOY PATENT CASE

On February 17, 2014 Simon Nicholas Richmond filed a patent infringement case against Forever Gifts in Texas and Forever Gifts in China for imports of solar garden lights that allegedly infringe his patent. FOREVER SOLAR POWER GARDEN LIGHTS

On February 6, 2014,AIM IP filed a patent infringement case against Futurewei Technologies dba Huawei.  FUTUREWEI HUAWEI CASE

On February 27, 2014, Smartphone Technologies filed new patent cases against ZTE and Huawei.  SMARTPHONE HUAWEI  SMARTPHONE ZTE

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C CASE

As mentioned in my last e-mail, the Vitamin C case is wrapping up at the District Court level.  The attached final judgment was revised downward from $153 million to a $147 million judgment against by Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. (“Hebei”) and North China Pharmaceutical Group Corp. (“NCPGC”) for price fixing because of double counting.  VITAMIN C JUDGMENT REVISED 147 MILLION

Hebei Welcome has announced that it is appealing the Court’s final judgment and has also switched US law firms and hired new counsel.

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

Commentators have observed that governments are increasingly using antitrust and other regulatory powers for broader political and economic purposes.

On January 28, 2014, there was a report out of China that Qualcomm is facing a record antitrust fine of $1 billion in an antitrust case from China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC). On February 19th, the head of China’s NDRC confirmed that it was investigating Qualcomm and also Interdigtal for potential antitrust violations.  Both companies were raided by Chinese agents in November and have delivered statements to Chinese investigators.  The NDRC said that Qualcomm Inc. was suspected of overcharging and abusing its market position and could face record fines of more than $1 billion.  Any settlement with InterDigital or Qualcomm is likely to include commitments to lower patent licensing fees for Chinese customers.

The NDRC is also looking at drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline and Apple. Apparently, the Chinese government has decided to use the nation’s antitrust laws to level the playing field for all companies.

SECURITIES

TOM GORMAN, DORSEY SECURITIES/SEC EXPERT, INTERVIEWED ON CHINESE TELEVISION

Recently, Tom Gorman, a partner in our Washington DC, who used to work in the Enforcement Division in the Securities and Exchange Commission, was interviewed by Phoenix Television on the refusal of Chinese Auditors to supply the SEC Accounting Documents from Chinese companies and the problems that have come from IPOs/securities listings of Chinese companies in the US.  The link to the interview is

http://video19.ifeng.com/video07/2014/02/09/1691951-102-007-0040.mp4

 FCPA DIGEST

Dorsey has just published its attached Foreign Corrupt Practices Digest.  FCPA DIGEST  With regards to China, the Digest states:

CHINA

Avon Products

Avon Products Inc. estimates a payment of up to $132 million to settle an ongoing corruption investigation. The US Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) alleged that Avon has paid bribes in China and other countries in exchange for permits to sell its products.

It has been reported that following an internal investigation in 2008, Avon discovered that questionable payments and gifts of millions of dollars have been made to officials in China, Brazil, Mexico, Argentina, India and Japan. In 2011, Avon fired four executives, including the general manager and the finance chief of the company’s China unit.

Since 2008, the company has reportedly spent about $340 million in legal and other costs. The investigation is ongoing.

 JPMorgan

It has been alleged that a top Chinese regulator, Xiang Junbo, with interests in the insurance sector, asked Jamie Dimon, the chief executive of JPMorgan, for a favor to hire a young job applicant.

JPMorgan reportedly secured a number of business deals with Chinese insurance companies following Mr. Dimon’s meeting with Mr. Xiang.

US authorities are investigating whether hiring at JPMorgan and other banks was done for the purposes of securing contracts with Chinese companies.

 Former Minister of Public Security

It is reported that Mr. Zhou Yongkang, former member of the Politburo Standing Committee and Minister of the Public Security, is being investigated for alleged corruption.

The investigation is reportedly part of a wider national anti-corruption campaign particularly targeted at current and former executives of the China National Petroleum Corporation.

It has been reported that Mr. Yongkang is under house arrest. Investigations are still pending.

COMPLAINTS

On February 4, 2014, a class action securities case was filed Rodney Omanoff et al. v. Patrizio & Zhao, Xinggeng John Zhao for misstating the financial information of Keyuan Petrochemicals, Inc.,  a Nevada corporation, headquartered in China.  KEYYUAN PETROCHEMICALS

On February 6, 2014, the US Government, Securities and Exchange Commission/SEC filed an insider trade case against Hao He a/k/a Jimmy He for trading shares of Sina Corporation in Shanghai, China based on inside information.  HAO HE

On February 19, 2014, a class action securities case was filed by Maria Cecilia Ghilardoti against Montaage Technology Group and various Chinese individuals.  Montage Technology is a Caymans Company with substantial semiconductor plants and other operations in China and Hong Kong.  MONTAGE SECURITIES COMPLAINT

On February 20, 2014 Peter Schiff et al filed a class action securities case against China Nutrifruit Group Limited, a Chinese company in Daqing, China.  Schiff v China Nutrifruit Group~

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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