US CHINA TRADE WAR – SECTION 232 CASES SLOW DOWN, CHINA TRADE PROBLEMS INCREASE, TAA FOR COMPANIES, SECTION 201 SOLAR, BAT DIES, NAFTA NEGOTIATING OBJECTIVES, NEW AD 337 CASES

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE AUGUST 7, 2017

Dear Friends,

Recently there have been two developments of note in US China trade relations.

NORTH KOREA AND NO SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA FOR THE TIME BEING

As mentioned in my last blog post, the North Korea crisis is affecting the US China Trade Relationship.  The decision of China to back the UN Security Council resolution on sanctions against North Korea has caused the Trump Administration to pull back and not move forward with a Section 301 case against China.

As Politico reported today:

NORTH KOREA SANCTIONS WAYLAY CHINA TRADE PROBE: To be honest, there were conflicting signals from administration officials early last week on the timing of an announcement that Trump would ask U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to investigate Chinese policies that compel foreign compel transfer technology and other intellectual property to do business there. Some said the announcement would come Thursday or Friday; others said it was not imminent.

It now appears that the “not imminent” camp was right. The reason was the State Department’s fear of upsetting its successful push for Chinese cooperation on new UN sanctions against North Korea. The new Security Council resolution, which passed 15-0 on Saturday, targets North Korea’s largest source of external revenue by imposing a total ban on the country’s exports of coal, in addition to iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood.

The resolution imposes “over one billion dollars in cost to N.K.,” Trump wrote on Twitter, referring to a State Department estimate of how much Pyongyang would lose in hard currency in terms of export earnings.

As for the IP probe for China, sources said it could still happen, but there were conflicting signals on how soon. One administration official suggested there might not be an announcement this week because Lighthizer is out of the country.

Emphasis added.

When China helps the US on North Korea, Trump is going to lay back and not attack China over trade issues.  As mentioned before, Trump is the first President to overtly link trade deals with foreign policy issues.  He has made it very clear to China help us on North Korea and China will get a better trade deal.  So far that seems to be Trump’s goal with China.

President Trump is learning that trade is complicated.

SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE

Many companies have been calling me about the Section 201 Solar Cells case.  In that case, the US International Trade Commission {“ITC”) just issued its attached public prehearing report, 2017.08.01 ITC Solar 201 Prehearing Report PUB.  The hearing is scheduled for August 15th and the Commission’s injury determination is to be sent to the President on September 22nd.

The Staff Report shows that imports are up, value of imports are down, but US producers’ production and capacity have increased during the period of investigation 2012-2016.  Moreover, US producers’ profits and sales have increased in the period.

This is a very mixed staff report with no clear trends and could lead to a negative ITC injury determination on September 22nd.  The August 15th hearing will be very interesting.

If you have any questions about these cases, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR JULY 31, 2017

Dear Friends,

With the passage of the Trump Executive Order telling agencies, including the Department of Defense (“DOD”), to further study the problem, Trump’s trade war in the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases has run into reality—the impact on US downstream producers.  With a Greek Chorus of Senators and Congressmen telling the Administration to go slow, the dire warnings by downstream US users of these raw materials, and the threats of retaliation from many foreign countries, President Trump punted and decided to further study the situation.  As indicated below, in their comments numerous steel users were telling Commerce not only that Steel Tariffs would seriously damage their companies causing the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs, but also that the Steel tariffs themselves could damage US national security by cutting DOD suppliers from very important supply lines for raw materials.

Apparently, President Trump and the Trump Administration listened.  It is easy for Candidate Trump to talk protectionism, but President Trump is now learning it is much more complicated.

Now is the time for an Emperor has no clothes moment.  The problems of the Steel industry go back decades long before Wilbur Ross arrived because of the decision to give big bonuses to management and large pensions to the Steel unions, which the companies simply can no longer fund.  These payments led to the failure to modernize and update steel production facilities and also produce specialized types of steel. That failure to produce many specialized types of steel at cost efficient prices has led to screams by US downstream steel producers with millions of jobs at stake.

But with Commerce saying there is no time deadline for the Section 232 Steel report and the Steel Unions crying doomsday and the loss of thousands of jobs, what is the solution?? As explained below, TAA for Companies, not trade protection, is the solution.  An alternative solution is needed for the Steel crisis that will not harm national security and injure more US industries.  TAA for Companies makes US companies more competitive without affecting the market in any way.

Meanwhile,  there is now talk of significant US trade sanctions against China because of North Korea.  Commerce also continues to find China a non-market economy country, and the US China Economic Talks fell apart over steel and aluminum, but also, in part, North Korea.

There are also dire warnings about the impact of the Section 201 Solar Case on US solar projects and the loss of thousands of jobs.  But the Border Adjustment tax is now officially dead, and USTR has released NAFTA negotiating objectives and the negotiations themselves are scheduled to start up on August 16 with one real issue being the impact on US agricultural exports.

New antidumping and countervailing duty cases have been filed against Cast Iron Soil Pipe Fittings and a Section 337 case against Ribbon Cables.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR—TRUMP PUNTS ON THE SECTION 232 STEEEL AND OTHER NATIONAL SECURITY CASES

Although President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross thought they had found a panacea, cure all, for US trade problems, using Section 232 National Security cases to put large tariffs and/or quotas on Steel, Aluminum and other raw material products, something happened on the way to the Trump trade heaven—reality.  Even though Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross promised to send completed Section 232 reports to the President by the end of June and President Trump promised that July would be the month of trade, nothing has happened to date, except for a Trump Executive Order stating that the Department of Defense and other agencies are to further study the manufacturing base needed to support US national security.

The first problem is an Emperor has no clothes moment—the problems of the Steel Industry go back decades.  The Steel industry’s problems boil down to large bonuses to management n the 1970s and 1980s and the large pensions given to Steel unions, which are in place today.  Those bonuses and pensions prevented the Steel industry from modernizing their production facilities and also specializing into specific types of steel.  Downstream steel users, such as the automotive industry, are moving away from commodity products as raw material steel inputs, and to specialized steel made to order of the downstream user.  All industry has become specialized and the US Steel Industry has not modernized so it can no longer produce certain types of steel or produce certain types of steel cost efficiently and that seriously damages downstream steel users that also manufacture in the United States.

That leads to the second big problem the steel industry has only 141,000 jobs while the jobs in the Steel Users industry are in the millions.  This is probably the reason that the Department of Defense (“DOD”) woke up.  Steel users probably told DOD you want your tank parts?

This is the time for the US Government and Congress to look at another alternative.  Tariffs and quotas simply will not save the Steel Industry, but Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies just might.  It is time for the US government to back a proven alternative that has saved 1,000s of US manufacturing companies in the past.  A program that both President Obama and President Trump want to write off, but actually has a proven track record of saving US trade injured manufacturing companies without any impact on US market or imports.

In fact, as indicated below, directly contrary to statements of Secretary Ross, many US companies that are receiving trade adjustment assistance are steel users and cannot be competitive with imports because US steel price are higher than world market prices.

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

SECTION 232 STEEL CASE

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

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

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

In the past Secretary Ross has stated that the Section 232 case is meant to fill the gaps created by the patchwork of antidumping and countervailing duties on foreign steel, which he said have provided only limited relief to the U.S. industry.

If the Secretary reports affirmatively, the President has 90 days to determine whether it concurs with the Secretary’s determination and “determine the nature and duration of the action that, in the judgment of the President, must be taken to adjust the imports of the article and its derivatives so that such imports will not threaten to impair the national security.”

Once the President makes his affirmative determination, he will report his decision to Congress, but it is questionable whether Congress can disapprove the decision.   The statute also does not provide for any appeal to the Court of International Trade.  Commerce also is very protectionist and in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  The only check in trade cases is the injury determination by the independent US International Trade Commission, but there is no such determination under Section 232.

On July 26th Politico reported that the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases had stopped:

TRUMP HITS THE BRAKES ON 232 REVIEWS: The Trump administration is unlikely to make any decisions regarding whether to limit imports of steel and aluminum for national security reasons any time soon, after the president himself told The Wall Street Journal on Tuesday that “we don’t want to do it at this moment.”

The administration had already missed its initial deadline of wrapping up the pair of Section 232 reports by the end of June, and Trump indicated Tuesday that was in part because of various regulations regarding any decisions.  . . .

 Back of the queue: Trump was confident that his administration would eventually be “addressing the steel dumping,” which he called “a very unfair situation.” He did not, however, indicate the action would be imminent: He started by saying it would come “very” soon, but then backed off and said it would be “fairly soon.”

It will also likely come after other high-profile items on his policy agenda are completed. “We’re waiting ’til we get everything finished up between healthcare and taxes and maybe even infrastructure,”

The initial report on the Trump decision was a July 25th article in the Wall Street Journal in which Trump stated that with regards to the Section 232 Steel case, “we don’t want to do it at this moment” because of the complexity of the issue.  Trump further stated:

“You can’t just walk in and say I’m doing to do this.  You have to do statutory studies … It doesn’t go that quickly.”

The Wall Street Journal reported that Trump started to say he would make a move “very” soon but stopped himself and instead said “fairly soon.”

Trump also stated that the steel issue is “a very unfair situation”, and that any final decision would not be made until work is done on other major initiatives.  As Trump stated:

“We’re waiting till we get everything finished up between healthcare and taxes and maybe even infrastructure.”

On July 26, 2017, it was reported that a Commerce Department spokesman refused to suggest a revised date for its determination on whether to impose new national security trade restrictions on steel imports saying only that the President’s comments “speak for themselves.”

On July 27th, before House Ways and Means, Commerce Secretary Ross indicated sympathy with comments from users where certain steel and aluminum products were not produced domestically, but had no sympathy with the argument that steel prices could be so high as to hurt downstream producers stating that is the nature of dumping and what eventually happens when “we let imports run amok.”

After the briefing, Congressional representatives stated that tariffs and/or quotas will be delayed for a while longer.  The Representatives indicated that during the meeting Ross had read the President’s statement from the Wall Street Journal that “we don’t want to do it at this moment” and that the Administration would most likely take action “fairly soon.”

On July 26th it was also reported that that the United Steelworkers union (“USW”) had stated that Trump decision to delay a Section 232 determination on steel imports could have “devastating” consequences on the US Steel industry and the jobs in that industry as foreign trading partners rush to export steel to the U.S. under a long-delayed threat of tariffs.  As USW President Leo Gerard stated:

“Since the President announced an investigation in April, attacks on the U.S. steel sector have skyrocketed, with imports up 18 percent.  Trading partners have targeted the U.S. market for fear that the United States will finally stand up for its producers and workers and protect our national security.”

Gerard acknowledged that trading relationships in the steel sector are “complex.”, but went on to state:

“But enough time, attention and investigation have passed to know what needs to be done.  Steel, the foundation of our national security, is crumbling under the onslaught of foreign imports. Much of that is illegally traded.”

Meanwhile, even before the July 25th statement, on July 5th Kevin Brady, Chairman of House Ways and Means, urged the President to take it slow.  Brady stated:

“Our advice to the President has been pretty public: Take your time, get it right.  We want to make sure that however the White House frames their ultimate action, that it doesn’t punish our allies who are trading fairly. And we want to make sure it doesn’t give a green light to those trading unfairly to do more of it. And it’s important, too, that whatever that ultimate decision is that it actually works for America and doesn’t backfire.”

Brady acknowledged that overcapacity in the global steel market was causing problems for domestic producers. But he called for a “balanced” solution that takes into account other interests as well.

On July 7th it was reported that the Department of Defense intended to drill down on the Steel Report and was “tapping the brakes on any potential effort by President Donald Trump to hit steel imports with tariffs of up to 25 percent.”

On July 21st President Trump issued an Executive Order ordering a thorough review of the national defense industrial base and the government to gather information about whether U.S. companies can meet the commercial demand for national security goods including steel, aluminum, circuit boards and flat-panel displays.

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

The attached Executive Order, Presidential Executive Order on Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing a, specifically stated in part:

Presidential Executive Order on Assessing and Strengthening the Manufacturing and Defense Industrial Base and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States . . .

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, it is hereby ordered as follows:

Section 1. Policy. A healthy manufacturing and defense industrial base and resilient supply chains are essential to the economic strength and national security of the United States. The ability of the United States to maintain readiness, and to surge in response to an emergency, directly relates to the capacity, capabilities, and resiliency of our manufacturing and defense industrial base and supply chains. Modern supply chains, however, are often long and the ability of the United States to manufacture or obtain goods critical to national security could be hampered by an inability to obtain various essential components, which themselves may not be directly related to national security. Thus, the United States must maintain a manufacturing and defense industrial base and supply chains capable of manufacturing or supplying those items.

The loss of more than 60,000 American factories, key companies, and almost 5 million manufacturing jobs since 2000 threatens to undermine the capacity and capabilities of United States manufacturers to meet national defense requirements and raises concerns about the health of the manufacturing and defense industrial base. The loss of additional companies, factories, or elements of supply chains could impair domestic capacity to create, maintain, protect, expand, or restore capabilities essential for national security.

As the manufacturing capacity and defense industrial base of the United States have been weakened by the loss of factories and manufacturing jobs, so too have workforce skills important to national defense. This creates a need for strategic and swift action in creating education and workforce development programs and policies that support job growth in manufacturing and the defense industrial base.

Strategic support for a vibrant domestic manufacturing sector, a vibrant defense industrial base, and resilient supply chains is therefore a significant national priority. A comprehensive evaluation of the defense industrial base and supply chains, with input from multiple executive departments and agencies (agencies), will provide a necessary assessment of our current strengths and weaknesses.

Sec. 2. Assessment of the Manufacturing Capacity, Defense Industrial Base, and Supply Chain Resiliency of the United States. Within 270 days of the date of this order, the Secretary of Defense, in coordination with the Secretaries of Commerce, Labor, Energy, and Homeland Security, and in consultation with the Secretaries of the Interior and Health and Human Services, the Director of the Office of Management and Budget, the Director of National Intelligence, the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, the Director of the Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, and the heads of such other agencies as the Secretary of Defense deems appropriate, shall provide to the President an unclassified report, with a classified annex as needed, that builds on current assessment and evaluation activities, and:

  • identifies the military and civilian material, raw materials, and other goods that are essential to national security;
  • identifies the manufacturing capabilities essential to producing the goods identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, including emerging capabilities;
  • identifies the defense, intelligence, homeland, economic, natural, geopolitical, or other contingencies that may disrupt, strain, compromise, or eliminate the supply chains of goods identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section (including as a result of the elimination of, or failure to develop domestically, the capabilities identified pursuant to subsection (b) of this section) and that are sufficiently likely to arise so as to require reasonable preparation for their occurrence;
  • assesses the resiliency and capacity of the manufacturing and defense industrial base and supply chains of the United States to support national security needs upon the occurrence of the contingencies identified pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, including an assessment of: . . .
    • exclusive or dominant supply of the goods (or components thereof) identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section by or through nations that are or are likely to become unfriendly or unstable; and the availability of substitutes for or alternative sources for the goods identified pursuant to subsection (a) of this section;
  • identifies the causes of any aspect of the defense industrial base or national-security- related supply chains assessed as deficient pursuant to subsection (d) of this section; and
  • recommends such legislative, regulatory, and policy changes and other actions by the President or the heads of agencies as they deem appropriate based upon a reasoned assessment that the benefits outweigh the costs (broadly defined to include any economic, strategic, and national security benefits or costs) over the short, medium, and long run to:
    • avoid, or prepare for, any contingencies identified pursuant to subsection (c) of this section;
    • ameliorate any aspect of the defense industrial base or national-security-related supply chains assessed as deficient pursuant to subsection (d) of this section; and
    • strengthen the United States manufacturing capacity and defense industrial base and increase the resiliency of supply chains critical to national . . . .

DONALD J. TRUMP

THE WHITE HOUSE, July 21, 2017

Emphasis added.

EMPEROR HAS NO CLOTHES —STEEL INDUSTRY PROBLEMS HAVE BEEN GOING ON FOR DECADES BECAUSE OF ITS FAILURE TO MODERNIZE DESPITE 40 YEARS OF PROTECTION FROM STEEL IMPORTS

After graduating from law school, in the late 1970s I went to work for a law firm in Washington DC and one of our clients was Bethlehem Steel Shipbuilding.  In the Spring of 1979, at a firm party, one of the heads of the company told me all I want to do is stop in the imports.  After joining the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) in October 1980 I watched Bethlehem Steel file case after case against steel imports.  In 1985 while at the ITC, I asked the head of Bethlehem Steel’s Sparrow’s Point Factory how important the Continuous Castor was to Bethlehem Steel.  He replied, “We’ve bet the company on the continuous castor”.  Bethlehem Steel bet too late. The Korean steel producers already had the continuous castors.

Later, my former boss, the former ITC General Counsel, represented Bethlehem Steel for decades bringing trade cases against steel imports.  The US steel industry has had 40 years of protection from steel imports and yet it continues to decline.  Bethlehem Steel after 40 years of protection from steel imports is now green fields.

On July 14, 2017, former ITC Commissioner Dan Pearson of the Cato Institute summarized some of these problems in a Market Watch article entitled “Trump would further damage U.S. manufacturing if he restricts steel imports” stating:

“In a recent hearing on the investigation, Secretary Ross made clear that highly protectionist measures are under consideration. What Ross didn’t address is whether additional steel import restrictions would harm the U.S. economy.

Unfortunately, they certainly would. Our country may be only weeks away from presidential action that would further damage the competitiveness of the broad manufacturing  sector.

Five points are particularly relevant:

First, it’s not clear there is any legitimate national security justification for invoking Section 232. There is no doubt that much U.S. military equipment requires steel. The key question is how best to obtain specific types of steel needed for various national-security applications.

Most steel used by the military comes from domestic suppliers, such as United States Steel Corp. . ., AK Steel Holding Corp.  . . and Nucor Corp. . . . or from countries with which the United States has amicable relations. Keeping the U.S. market open to steel imports would assure that the military will have access to both foreign and domestic steel products needed to maintain national security. If the Pentagon wishes to ensure domestic sources for some products, it could establish long-term contracts with U.S. mills—no import controls are required.

Second, potential Section 232 restrictions must be viewed in the context of the existing U.S. steel marketplace. Roughly 200 antidumping or countervailing duty measures already are in place on steel products, making steel one of the country’s most protected sectors. As a result, U.S. prices for many steel products are significantly higher than world prices, greatly disadvantaging American manufacturers that require steel as an input.

Third, any additional import restrictions would do far more harm to steel-using manufacturers than any benefit that could accrue to steel mills. That is simply due to the raw numbers. Steel mills employ just 140,000 workers. Manufacturers that use steel as an input employ 6.5 million, 46 times more.

Steel mills account for a rather narrow slice of the overall U.S. economy: $36 billion in 2015, equaling only 0.2% of U.S. gross domestic product (GDP). By contrast, the economic value added by firms that use steel as an input was $1.04 trillion – 29 times more – or 5.8% of  GDP.

Any government action to drive steel prices even higher by further restricting imports will hurt steel- consuming manufacturers. Their costs will rise, thus reducing their competitiveness relative to companies in other countries. Carrier, the company that in December said it wouldn’t shift 800 jobs from Indianapolis to Mexico after all, is hardly the only firm that could reduce its steel costs by shifting production overseas.

Fourth, other nations likely would retaliate. When a foreign power acts arbitrarily to curtail its imports, negatively affected exporting countries aren’t amused. Since the United States is only a minor exporter of steel, retaliation likely would be focused on innocent, export-competitive sectors. The United States is the world’s largest exporter of military equipment, so those firms may be targeted.

The United States also is the world’s largest agricultural exporter; farm and food products would be vulnerable across the board.

Fifth, a country that imposes import restrictions always reduces its own economic welfare. This is true even if other countries don’t retaliate. Economists have understood since the work of David Ricardo that it is unwise to try to be self-sufficient when others are able to provide products at lower costs.

Import restrictions lead to inefficient resource use, lowering national economic welfare in the process. In other words, consumers are hurt more than protected industries are helped.

The Section 232 process may be intended to inflict pain on foreign nations by curtailing their exports. We can’t be sure whether U.S. import restrictions will hurt other countries, but we can be certain that restrictions will hurt America. Limiting steel imports creates a genuine threat to economic growth and prosperity. It is very difficult to build a stronger national defense when the economy is getting weaker.

But shouldn’t something be done to help steel mills and their workers as they deal with import competition? The Department of Commerce should think seriously about proposing enhanced economic adjustment assistance. It would be good public policy to encourage this historically protected industry to restructure and adapt to free trade in steel. . . .

My former boss, who later represented Bethlehem Steel for decades in trade cases, in the early 2000s told me that the problem with steel is that the employment in the entire US steel industry is less than one high tech company.

CONCERNS OF DOWNSTREAM STEEL INDUSTRIES

On May 31, 2017, public comments were filed at the Commerce Department on the Section 232 Steel case.  My last newsletter contained numerous comments from large associations representing steel users, including the American Automotive Policy Council (“AAPC”) and the truck and engine manufacturers association warning about the devastating impact high steel tariffs would have on the automotive and truck industry.  Not only would restraints on Steel imports damage downstream industries, but they would also damage the national security of the United States.  Many suppliers to the US DOD are dependent on imported steel made to certain specifications to make the downstream products to DOD specifications.  In many cases, US steel producers no longer produce steel to the specifications required by the DOD and many downstream users, such as the US automotive industry.

Thus the AAPC stated;

Although sympathetic to the challenges the steel industry faces, we are concerned that if, as a result of this Section 232 investigation, the President were to increase tariffs on foreign steel or impose other import restrictions, the auto industry and the U.S. workers that the industry employs would be adversely affected and that this unintended negative impact would exceed the benefit provided to the steel industry from this Executive action.

Steel is a critical input into the manufacture of automotive products. The price of steel in the United States is already significantly higher than in the markets where our competitors build the majority of their cars and trucks.  This puts U.S. automakers at a competitive disadvantage.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers warned not only about the devastating impact on their industry, but went on to warn that steel tariffs would have a negative impact on US national security stating that US equipment manufacturers:

must source steel from international producers because the steel’s formula matches a specific spec required to ensure a piece of equipment’s proper function and performance that is not otherwise available in the United States. Inhibiting access to foreign steel will force manufacturers to procure steel from a domestic supplier that may not match required specifications, thus degrading the quality and performance of the equipment and risking operational safety concerns.  In cases where a particular type of steel is available from domestic suppliers, a sudden surge in demand will likely lead to extended procurement timeframes and delays in the manufacturing process.

Since equipment manufacturers provide parts and equipment to the Department of Defense, in fact, high tariffs on imported steel could, in effect, damage the national security of the United States.

The Forging Industry Association representing the US forging industry also stated:

As noted above, the steel forging industry supplies many products essential to national security, including numerous tank and automotive forgings for combat vehicles, small caliber weapons forgings, ordnance forgings, and forgings used in building airplanes, helicopters, ships and submarines. . . .

US steel forgers rely almost exclusively on domestically-produced SBQ steel. . . . The “globally competitive prices” are critically important – if the price for domestic SBQ steel is higher in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world due to tariffs or trade restrictions, then we begin to see less imports of raw material and more imports of downstream products. . . .

In effect, when current trade laws are used to remedy injury in one subsector of the economy, such as steel, they often shift the injury to another tier within the manufacturing sector.

The Industrial Fastener Institute representing the US Fastener industry warned that:

Fastener manufacturing is a major consumer of metals, including steel. Since fasteners can be made anywhere in the world, the U.S. industry is dependent on access to adequate supplies of globally priced raw materials such as steel to remain globally competitive. . .  .

However, even with a healthy domestic industry, history has shown that fastener manufacturers must sometimes import raw material because the particular types of steel needed are not available in the quantities, quality or form required. (Fasteners are made out of round form, not sheet, flat or bar products.) By some accounts, the U.S. steel industry is able to produce only about 70 percent of the total steel consumed in the U.S. . . .

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association was even more explicit about the potential negative impact of this case on US national security:

Our industry is closely associated with the U.S. defense industry.  . . . Adjustments to steel imports that prevent our members from obtaining the type of steel they need in a timely manner or increases to production costs would jeopardize our ability to manufacture in the United States and to provide these critical products to the U.S. defense industry. . . .

MEMA member companies need specialized steel that either is not available at all in the U.S. or is not available in sufficient quantities. Certain foreign steel producers worked closely with MEMA member companies to develop the specialized steel and this type of collaboration benefits the U.S. by improving products. Continued access to these types of steel are critical to our industry. Attached to these comments is a non-exhaustive list of steel products that must be excluded from any import adjustments (see Appendix I). Several of our member companies are submitting exclusion requests directly as well. . . .

Motor vehicle component and systems manufacturers are the largest employers of manufacturing jobs in the U.S. and many of these companies import steel of all types, including specialized steel products, to manufacture goods in the U.S. that are then sold to the U.S. defense industry, U.S. government and consumers. Disrupting American manufacturing operations or increasing costs through adjustments to steel imports would not benefit the national security of the United States. Such adjustments to steel imports would, in fact, detrimentally impact U.S. employment, compromising our economic and national security.

The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (“NEMA”) stated in its comments:

Some electrical steels are imported into the U.S. because they are not available from domestic or North American suppliers. Loss of access to these materials would cause grave harm to NEMA manufacturers, who would no longer be able to manufacture and supply DOE-compliant products, and their customers – which include U.S. electric utilities as well as tens of thousands of industrial, commercial, and defense/national security facilities – but would have no effect on domestic or North American steel manufacturers, since they do not manufacture/produce or offer for sale those materials today.

Like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, US manufacturers that rely on steel as a key raw material input cried their warning that not only would imposing restrictions on steel imports injure downstream steel manufacturers, but also US national security itself. President Trump now appears to be listening.

ALUMINUM

The other Section 232 case that is behind steel is Aluminum.  On April 27, 2017, President Trump and the US Commerce Department self-initiated a Section 232 National Security case against imports of aluminum from all countries.  Attached are documents related to the Case, Aluminum Presidential Memo Summary ALUMINUM FED REG PUB Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Aluminum on US National S.  The hearing was on June 22, 2017 and the video of that hearing can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k3Bnwi3DWHg.

But in a letter to Commerce, 44 Senators and Representatives argued that the ongoing investigation under Section 232 could include aluminum imports that have little to do with national security but is used to make things like food and beverage cans.  The Congressional representatives and Senators stated that specific type of rolled can aluminum sheet and primary aluminum “could yield import restrictions or tariffs on these products – a result that would not increase their availability in the U.S. but would necessarily impose additional costs to American end-users and American consumers.”

The National Foreign Trade Council said in comments filed on behalf its 200 member companies in sectors including energy, capital goods, transportation, consumer goods, technology, health care products, services, e- commerce and retailing “We believe that imposition of high tariffs or restrictive quotas on aluminum products is not an appropriate response” to concerns that excess capacity in China has led to the closings of many aluminum smelters in the United States.  The NFTC went on to state:

“Many of the industries that rely on aluminum as an input are themselves suppliers for our nation’s defense- related needs, building the ships, aircraft, machinery, high technology weapons and other goods that a modern military demands.”

In contrast to the Commerce lack of data in the Section 232 Steel case, however, in the Aluminum case, in June 2017 the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) has just issued the attached fact finding report on the US aluminum industry, ITC ALUMINUM PUBLICATION, which is based on questionnaires sent to US producers.

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

As indicated in previous blog posts, I feel very strongly about the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program because with very low funding it has a true track record of saving US companies injured by imports.

Donald Trump’s proposed budget, however, would 0, zero, out the trade adjustment assistance for companies program.  Although Secretary Wilbur Ross has made it very clear he wants to increase exports to reach the 3% plus growth rate, putting protectionist walls up to limit imports of steel, aluminum and many other products invites retaliation.

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

In fact, many of the companies receiving trade adjustment assistance are steel users or downstream US manufacturing companies, which have been injured by US trade actions.  They are the collateral damage caused by US trade actions.

A cursory analysis comparing companies in the TAA for Firms program to trade actions (AD, CVD, etc.) in 2015 revealed a strong correlation between those companies and trade actions. TAA for Firms works with small, medium sized, mostly manufacturing companies that encounter business declines linked to import competition.  ITC maintains a list of current AD/CVD cases, which, when combined with other known trade actions, yielded 116 unique product descriptions. Between 2005 and 2015 1,654 companies entered TAAF – publicly available information provides a brief description of these companies’ products. For the TAAF companies, 70% of the product descriptions match with trade actions. Steel actions alone match with 31% of the TAAF companies.

On the one hand, this is not surprising, trade actions occur in industries with concerning levels of trade, therefore, one would expect trade impacted companies in those industries. This only supports the assertion that TAAF is being applied where it should be expected.

On the other hand, the variety of companies in the TAAF program is surprising to anyone who looks closely – they certainly do not fall into predictable categories. The variety of products and level of specialization among manufacturing companies is astounding.  The TAAF companies are not the subjects of the trade actions, but the downstream buyers of those products. That one category of product, steel, would match so often, strongly stands out. An often heard anecdote from the TAAF program, quotes the business owner who says his cost of raw materials exceeds the cost of the finished imported product. It was only after performing this analysis that recollection confirmed that the anecdote was most often repeated related to companies using steel as a raw material.

It should be emphasized that this was a cursory analysis.  TAAF firms are thought to be a fraction of those experiencing trade impact. The level of analysis consisted only in rough comparisons of rough descriptions. Perhaps more surprising is that with over 45 years of TAAF program operation and what has become a vast national debate about manufacturing and jobs, no thorough analysis of trade impact exists. We do know there is a lot of it in a lot of different products and industries. And we strongly suspect that the experience of TAAF confirms the damaging downstream impact of trade actions. The good news is that TAAF companies tend to recover and grow.  Some consistent outcomes of the program are longevity of companies, sales increases that exceed the economy and industry levels,  strong productivity growth, and job growth that at least recovers lost jobs and one can infer, preserves many more.

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

Right now the total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $12.5 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget.  Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.  In his budget, Trump increases TAA for Workers, but kills TAA for Companies.  Yet to retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job is $5,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

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

TRUMP AND CHINA

US CHINA’S NORTH KOREA PROBLEM MAY MEAN ROCKY TRADE PROBLEMS

Recently, at a speech to Chinese government officials, when asked what the major trade issues are between China and the US, I mentioned North Korea.  During the election campaign, Donald Trump often pointed to China as a source of the many trade problems for US companies.

At the Mar -A -Lago meeting with Xi Jinping, however, Donald Trump appeared to step back and explicitly linked Chinese help with North Korea to a better trade deal between the two countries.  This is the first time a US Administration has directly linked a foreign policy objective with a trade relationship.

But now Trump is frustrated because he believes China is not helping enough with North Korea and wants to develop a “cogent China strategy”. On July 31st, based on conversations with administration officials,Politico reported that the Trump Administration is considering “a handful of economic measures to punish China, with a final decision coming as soon as this week . .  . ..  The article goes on to state:

Trump’s aides met over the weekend to discuss options, including trade restrictions or economic sanctions, and they will continue those conversations today. It remains too early, however, to say what the president might decide, the officials said. . . .

The decision may come as the president grows increasingly frustrated with Beijing over its handling of the North Korea missile situation, including Friday’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test. “I am very disappointed in China. Our foolish past leaders have allowed them to make hundreds of billions of dollars a year in trade, yet they do NOTHING for us with North Korea, just talk. We will no longer allow this to continue. China could easily solve this problem!” Trump said on Twitter over the weekend.

On the trade front, Trump has also long complained about what he sees as unfair trade practices by Beijing, and he has been encouraged particularly by some of the harder-line aides in his administration – like chief strategist Steve Bannon and Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy Director Peter Navarro – to crack down on China.
To read more about this issue, please see the attached July 31st article from Politico, Trump plan on China may come as soon as this week – POLITICO.

CHINA STILL A NONMARKET ECONOMY COUNTRY IN CVD CASES

On July 25th, since the argument was made that China is a market economy country in the Aluminum Foil case, Commerce released the attached memo, DOC CHINA BANKING NONMARKET, starting that the interest rates set by Chinese banks are not set by market forces and thus no Chinese bank interest rates can be used in CVD cases.  This memo indicates that Commerce is not going to treat China as a market economy country in antidumping and countervailing duty cases any time soon.

STEEL AND ALUMINUM PROBLEMS STOP US CHINA TRADE NEGOTIATIONS

On July 19th, optimism was reported at the start of the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue.  Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang stated “The giant ship of China-U.S. economic and trade relations is sailing on the right course.”

But on July 20th the optimistic tone changed as the disagreement over excess Chinese steel and aluminum production capacity along with North Korea problems stopped the conference in its tracks.  China refused to agree to specific cuts in steel and aluminum production capacity and the United States was unwilling to move onto other concerns.

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang stated:

“Let me stress here that dialogue and negotiation are different from each other.  The core objective of negotiation is to have visible and tangible results, but the primary task of dialogue is to increase mutual understanding, mutual trust and consensus.

“Dialogue cannot immediately address all differences, but confrontation will immediately damage the interests of both.

“President Trump said, ‘Coming together is a beginning, keeping together is progress and working together is a success.  China is ready to work together with the U.S. and make sure this CED will build on existing achievements and achieve win-win results.”

NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS

The United States, Canada and Mexico will sit down together for the first round of talks to formally reopen NAFTA on Aug. 16 in Washington.

On July 17th, the USTR released its attached “Summary of Objectives for the NAFTA Renegotiation”, USTR NAFTA RENGOTIATION OBJECTIVES.

SOLAR 201 ESCAPE CLAUSE CASE

On May 17, 2017, Suniva filed a Section 201 Escape Clause against all Solar Cell imports from all countries at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  On May 23, 2017, in the attached Federal Register notice, ITC iNITIATION NOTICE SOLAR CELLS, the ITC decided to go ahead and institute the case.  If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, within 60 days the President must decide whether or not to impose import relief, which can be in the form of increased tariffs, quotas or an orderly marketing agreements.

At the ITC, Section 201 cases are a two stage process.  The ITC must first determine whether “crystalline silicon photovoltaic (“CSPV”) cells (whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products) are being imported into the United States in such increased quantities as to be a substantial cause of serious injury, or the threat thereof, to the domestic industry producing an article like or directly competitive with the imported articles.”  The ITC has determined that the investigation is “extraordinarily complicated” and will make its injury determination within 128 days after the petition was filed, or by September 22, 2017. The Commission will submit to the President the report required under section 202(f) of the Act (19 U.S.C. § 2252(f)(1)) within 180 days after the date on which the petition was filed, or by November 13, 2017.

Notices of appearance at the ITC were due on June 22nd at the ITC.  During the injury phase of the investigation, the ITC will hold an injury hearing on August 15, 2017.  Prehearing briefs are due at the ITC on August 8, 2017.  Posthearing briefs will be due at the ITC on August 22nd.

If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, it will go into a remedy phase and the hearing in that phase will be on October 3, 2017.

On June 26, 2017, Green Tech Media in the attached article, Suniva and SolarWorld Trade Dispute Could Halt Two-Thirds of US Solar Installat, along with a report estimated that if the ITC reaches an affirmative determination and if Trump adopts the solar import trade tariffs Suniva and SolarWorld Americas are seeking, such an action could wipe out as much as 65.5 percent of solar projects that are expected to be built in the U.S. from 2018 through 2022.

The GTM article further states:

Suniva’s and SolarWorld’s new trade dispute would strike a devastating blow to the U.S. solar market, erasing two-thirds of installations expected to come on-line over the next five years.

If the petition is successful, shockwaves will be felt across all segments of U.S. solar. Utility-scale solar is most at risk, with more than 20 gigawatts already at risk of cancellation if module prices fall back to 2012 levels.

The report determined that such a trade action would “cause unprecedented demand destruction”, and went on to state:

If Suniva’s and SolarWorld’s proposal is approved by the U.S. International Trade Commission and President Trump, there will be a new minimum price on imported crystalline silicon solar modules and a new tariff on imported cells. Put together, the U.S. could miss out on more than 47 gigawatts of solar installations. That’s more than what the U.S. solar market has brought on-line to date.

On July 24th, Reuters reported:

Installations in the United States last year hit a record. Jobs are mushrooming too. The domestic industry now employs more than 260,000 people, according to The Solar Foundation, most of them construction workers hammering panels on rooftops and erecting utility-scale solar plants in the nation’s blistering deserts.

But signs of a chill are already visible as the industry waits to see how President Donald Trump responds to a recent trade complaint lodged by a Georgia manufacturer named Suniva. The company has asked the administration effectively to double the price of imported solar panels so that U.S. factories can compete. About 95% of cells and panels sold in the U.S. last year were made abroad, with most coming from China, Malaysia and the Philippines, according to SPV

That has the solar industry bracing for the worst. Panic buying has sent spot prices for solar panels up as much as 20 percent in recent weeks as installers rush to lock up supplies ahead of potential tariffs.

Skittish U.S. energy customers are putting some solar projects on hold. Manufacturers are eyeing other markets to develop. And some investors are running for cover. Funding for large U.S. solar deals fell to $1.4 billion in the second quarter, down from $3.2 billion in the first quarter and $1.7 billion a year earlier, primarily due to concerns about the trade case, according to research firm Mercom Capital Group.

Developers of solar farms that provide utilities and big companies with energy are particularly vulnerable; panels account for as much as half of the cost of their projects.

A steep rise in panel prices “could be huge and disastrous for large-scale solar,” said Tom Werner, chief executive of San Jose-based SunPower Corp . . ., a top U.S. solar company that is majority owned by France’s Total  . . … “Developers are alarmed and planning.”

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES (“BAT”) ARE FINALLY DEAD

On July 27th it was reported that White House and congressional leaders agreed to drop the BAT as they move to comprehensive tax reform. The proposal, which would have placed a tax on all imports, had been a very important part of House Republicans’ tax reform blueprint as a way to pay for a corporate tax cut. House Speaker Paul Ryan, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch, and National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn said in a statement.

“While we have debated the pro-growth benefits of border adjustability, we appreciate that there are many unknowns associated with it and have decided to set this policy aside in order to advance tax reform,

[W]e are now confident that, without transitioning to a new domestic consumption-based tax system, there is a viable approach for ensuring a level playing field between American and foreign companies and workers, while protecting American jobs and the U.S. tax base.”

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

CAST IRON SOIL PIPE FITTINGS FROM CHINA

On July 13, 2017, the Cast Iron Soil Pipe Institute filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case against Cast Iron Soil Pipe Fittings from China.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law, Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.27 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.28 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.29

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

RIBBON CABLES

On June 30, 2017, 3M Company and 3M Innovative Properties Company filed a Section 337 case against Shielded Electrical Ribbon Cables.  The proposed respondents are Amphenol Corporation, Wallingford, Connecticut; Amphenol Interconnect Products Corporation, Endicott, New York; Amphenol Cables on Demand Corporation, Endicott, New York; Amphenol Assemble Technology (Xiamen) Co., Ltd., China; Amphenol (Xiamen) High Speed Cable Co., Ltd., China; and Amphenol East Asia Limited (Taiwan), China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TPP POLITICS, TAAF THE ANSWER, $2 BILLION MISSING DUMPING DUTIES AS CASES RISE, CUSTOMS LAW CHANGES, SOLAR CELLS, 337 CUSTOMS STOP INFRINGING IMPORTS

US Capitol North Side Construction Night Washington DC ReflectioFIRM UPDATE

In mid-August, Adams Lee, a well- known Trade and Customs lawyer from White & Case in Washington DC, has joined us here at Harris Moure in Seattle.  Adams has handled well over 100 antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  Attached is Adams’ bio, adams-lee-resume-aug-16, and his article is below on the new Customs Regulations against Evasion of US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders.

Adams and I will both be in China from Sept 11th to October 1st in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanjing.  If anyone would like to talk to us about these issues, please feel free to contact me at my e-mail, bill@harrismoure.com.

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR SEPTEMBER 8, 2016

Dear Friends,

Trade continues to be at the center of the Presidential primary with a possible passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership during the Lame Duck Session.  This blog post contains the sixth, and maybe the most important, article on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies of a several part series on how weak free trade arguments have led to the sharp rise of protectionism of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the now possible demise of the Trans Pacific Partner (“TPP”).

The first article outlined the problem and why this is such a sharp attack on the TPP and some of the visceral arguments against free trade.  The second article explored in depth the protectionist arguments and the reason for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  The third article explored the weak and strong arguments against protectionism.  The fourth article discussed one of the most important arguments for the TPP—National Security.  The fifth article discussed why the Commerce Department’s and the US International Trade Commission’s (ITC) policy in antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) cases has led to a substantial increase in protectionism and national malaise of international trade victimhood.

The sixth article provides an answer with the only trade program that works and saves the companies and the jobs that go with them—The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program along with MEP, another US manufacturing program.  The Article will describe the attempts by both Congress and the Obama Administration to kill the program, which may, in fact, have resulted in the sharp rise in protectionism in the US.

To pass the TPP, Congress must also provide assistance to make US companies competitive in the new free trade market created by the TPP.  Congress must restore the trade safety net so that Congress can again vote for free trade agreements, and the United States can return to its leadership in the Free Trade area.  The Congress has to fix the trade situation now before the US and the World return to the Smoot Hawley protectionism of the 1930s and the rise of nationalism, which can lead to military conflict.

In addition, set forth below are articles on a possible new antidumping case on Aluminum Foil from China and the rise of AD and CVD cases, the $2 billion in missing AD and CVD duties, the new Customs regulations to stop Transshipment in AD and CVD cases, the upcoming deadlines in the Solar Cells case in both English and Chinese, recent decisions in Steel cases,  antidumping and countervailing duty reviews in September against Chinese companies, and finally an article about how to stop imports that infringe US intellectual property rights, either using US Customs law or Section 337 at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE PROTECTIONISM IS STILL A VERY BIG TOPIC OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION; THE TPP PROBABLY IS NOT COMING UP IN THE LAME DUCK

As mentioned in my last newsletter, I believe that if Hilary Clinton is elected, President Obama will push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) to come up for a vote during the Lame Duck Session.  The Congress, however, has other ideas.

In early August, U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan stated that he saw no reason to bring up the TPP in the Lame Duck because “we don’t have the votes.”  Ryan went on to state:

“As long as we don’t have the votes, I see no point in bringing up an agreement only to defeat it.  They have to fix this agreement and renegotiate some pieces of it if they have any hope or chance of passing it. I don’t see how they’ll ever get the votes for it.”

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden stated in late August that he will not take a position on the TPP until Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brings the TPP up for a vote.  But on August 26th, Mitch McConnell stated that passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership will be the next president’s problem, saying that the Senate will not vote on the treaty this year:

“The current agreement, the Trans-Pacific [Partnership], which has some serious flaws, will not be acted upon this year.  It will still be around. It can be massaged, changed, worked on during the next administration.”

With this statement, McConnell appears to have killed passage during the Obama Administration.

But businesses continue to push for the TPP.  On Sept 6th, the California Chamber of Commerce urged its Congressional delegation to pass the TPP.  In the attached Sept 7th letter, 9-7finaltppletter, the Washington State Council on International Trade also urged its Congressional delegation to pass TPP, stating:

“with 40 percent of Washington jobs dependent upon trade, it is paramount that we prioritize policies and investments that increase our state’s international competitiveness. That is why it is so important that you join us in calling for an immediate vote on the TPP; according to a newly released Washington Council on International Trade-Association of Washington Business study, Washington could have already increased our exports by up to $8.7 billion and directly created 26,000 new jobs had the TPP been implemented in 2015.

While the U.S. has some of the lowest import duties in the world on most goods, our local Washington exporters are faced with thousands of tariffs that artificially inflate the cost of American-made goods. TPP will help eliminate these barriers . . ..

TPP aligns with Washington’s high standards, setting 21st century standards for digital trade, environmental protections, and labor rules .  . . .  If we want to increase our competitiveness and set American standards for global trade, we must act now with the TPP.

This election season’s rhetoric has been hostile toward trade, but the TPP’s benefits for our state are undeniable. It is imperative that our state steps up to advocate for the family wage jobs and economic opportunities created by trade, and the time to do so is now.”

Despite the Congressional opposition, ever the optimist, President Obama keeps pushing for passage during the Lame Duck.  On August 30th, the White House Press Office stated:

“The president is going to make a strong case that we have made progress and there is a path for us to get this done before the president leaves office.”

On September 1, 2016, at a Press Conference in Hangzhou, China for the G20 meeting, President Obama said he is still optimistic about passage of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement. Obama argued that the economic benefits of the pact would win out once the “noise” of the election season subsides.

The President said he plans to assure the leaders of the other countries that signed the TPP that the U.S. will eventually approve the deal despite the very vocal opposition from Democratic and Republican lawmakers and Presidential candidates.

President Obama went to state:

“And it’s my intention to get this one done, because, on the merits, it is smart for America to do it. And I have yet to hear a persuasive argument from the left or the right as to why we wouldn’t want to create a trade framework that raises labor standards, raising environmental standards, protects intellectual property, levels the playing field for U.S. businesses, brings down tariffs.”

Obama stated that although other countries, such as Japan, have troubles passing the TPP, the other countries:

“are ready to go.  And what I’ll be telling them is that the United States has never had a smooth, uncontroversial path to ratifying trade deals, but they eventually get done”

“And so I intend to be making that argument. I will have to be less persuasive here because most people already understand that. Back home, we’ll have to cut through the noise once election season is over.  It’s always a little noisy there.”

As mentioned in the last blog post, one of the strongest arguments for the TPP is National Security.  Trade agreements help stop trade wars and military conflict.  But despite that very strong point, the impact of free trade on the average manufacturing worker has not been beneficial.

In a recent e-mail blast, the Steel Workers make the point:

“Because of unfair trade, 1,500 of my colleagues at U.S. Steel Granite City Works in Granite City, Illinois are still laid-off. It’s been more than six months since our mill shut down.

Worker unemployment benefits are running out. Food banks are emptying out. People are losing their homes. City services might even shut down.

But there’s finally reason for hope. The Commerce Department recently took action to enforce our trade laws by placing duties on unfairly traded imports from countries like China. That will help ensure steel imports are priced fairly — and allow us to compete . . . .

All told, nearly 19,000 Americans have faced layoffs across the country because of the steel imports crisis.

China is making far more steel than it needs. China knows this is a problem, and repeatedly has pledged to cut down on steel production. But nothing has changed . . . .

China’s steel industry is heavily subsidized by its government, and it also doesn’t need to follow serious labor or environmental rules. But China has to do something with all that steel, so it dumps it into the United States far below market value.”

In a recent Business Week article, Four Myths about Trade, Robert Atkinson, the president of the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, made the same point stating:

The Washington trade establishment’s second core belief is that trade is an unalloyed good, even if other nations engage in mercantilism. . . . it doesn’t matter if other nations massively subsidize their exporters, require U.S. companies to hand over the keys to their technology in exchange for market access, or engage in other forms of mercantilist behavior.  . . .

But China and others are proving that this is folly. In industry after industry, including the advanced innovation-based industries that are America’s future, they are gaming the rules of global trade to hold others back while they leap forward. . ..

It’s a reflection of having lost competitive advantage to other nations in many higher-value-added industries, in part because of foreign mercantilist policies and domestic economic-policy failures.

The Author then goes on to state the US must be tough in fighting mercantilism and “vigilantly enforce trade rules, such as by bringing many more trade-enforcement cases to the WTO, pressuring global aid organizations to cut funding to mercantilist nations, limiting the ability of companies in mercantilist nations to buy U.S. firms, and more.”

But this argument then runs into reality.  As indicated below, Commerce finds dumping in about 95% of the cases.  Thus, there are more than 130 AD and CVD orders against China blocking about $30 billion in imports.  Presently more than 80 AD and CVD orders are against raw materials from China, chemicals, metals and various steel products, used in downstream US production.  In the Steel area, there are AD and CVD orders against the following Chinese steel products:

carbon steel plate, hot rolled carbon steel flat products, circular welded and seamless carbon quality steel pipe, rectangular pipe and tube, circular welded austenitic stainless pressure pipe, steel threaded rod, oil country tubular goods, steel wire strand and wire, high pressure steel cylinders, non-oriented electrical steel, and carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod.

There are ongoing investigations against cold-rolled steel and corrosion resistant/galvanized steel so many Chinese steel products from China are already blocked by US AD and CVD orders with very high rates well over 100%.

AD and CVD orders stay in place for 5 to 30 years and yet the companies, such as the Steel Industry, still decline.  After 40 years of protection from Steel imports by AD and CVD orders, where is Bethlehem Steel today?  The Argument seems to be that if industries simply bring more cases, the Commerce Department is even tougher and the orders are enforced, all US companies will be saved, wages will go up and jobs will be everywhere.

The reality, however, is quite different.  In fact, many of these orders have led to the destruction of US downstream industries so does hitting the Chinese with more trade cases really solve the trade problem?

More importantly, although Commerce does not use real numbers in antidumping cases against China, it does use actual prices and costs in antidumping steel cases against Korea, India, Taiwan, and many other countries.  In a recent antidumping case against Off the Road Tires from India, where China faces dumping rates of between 11 and 105%, the only two Indian exporters, which were both mandatory respondents, received 0% dumping rates and the Commerce Department in a highly unusual preliminary determination reached a negative no dumping determination on the entire case.

Market economy countries, such as Korea and India, can run computer programs to make sure that they are not dumping.  This is not gaming the system.  This is doing exactly what the antidumping law is trying to remedy—elimination of the unfair act, dumping.

Antidumping and countervailing duty laws are not penal statutes, they are remedial statutes and that is why US importers, who pay the duties, and the foreign producers/exporters are not entitled to full due process rights in AD and CVD cases, including application of the Administrative Procedures Act, decision by a neutral Administrative Law Judge and a full trial type hearing before Commerce and the ITC, such as Section 337 Intellectual Property cases, described below.

In fact, when industries, such as the steel industry, companies and workers along with Government officials see dumping and subsidization in every import into the United States, this mindset creates a disease—Globalization/International Trade victimhood.  We American workers and companies simply cannot compete because all imports are dumped and subsidized.

That simply is not true and to win the trade battles and war a change in mindset is required.

In his Article, Mr. Atkinson’s second argument may point to the real answer.  The US government needs to make US manufacturing companies competitive again:

It must begin with reducing the effective tax rate on corporations. To believe that America can thrive in the global economy with the world’s highest statutory corporate-tax rates and among the highest effective corporate-tax rates, especially for manufacturers, is to ignore the intense global competitive realities of the 21st century. Tax reform then needs to be complemented with two other key items: a regulatory-reform strategy particularly aimed at reducing burdens on industries that compete globally, and increased funding for programs that help exporters, such as the Export-Import Bank, the new National Network for Manufacturing Innovation, and a robust apprenticeship program for manufacturing workers. . . .

if Congress and the next administration develop a credible new globalization doctrine for the 21st century — melding tough trade enforcement with a robust national competitiveness agenda — then necessary trade-opening steps like the Trans-Pacific Partnership will once again be on the table and the U.S. economy will begin to thrive once again.

When it comes to Trade Adjustment Assistance, however, as Congressman Jim McDermott recently stated in an article, workers do not want handouts and training.  They want jobs.  The only trade remedy that actually provides jobs is the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program and MEP, another manufacturing program.

FREE TRADE REQUIRES COMPETITIVE US COMPANIES— TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES AND THE MEP MANUFACTURING PROGRAM ARE THE ANSWER

On August 17th, in a letter to the Wall Street Journal, the author referred to “the longstanding Republican promotion of trade as an engine of growth.” The author then goes on to state:

But what Donald Trump sees and the Republican elites have long missed is that for trade to be a winner for Americans, our government must provide policies for our industries to be the most competitive in the world. Mr. Zoellick and others promoted trade without promoting American competitiveness.  . . .

Mr. Zoellick should take a lesson from the American gymnasts in Rio and see how competitiveness leads to winning.

Although Donald Trump might agree with that point, there are Government programs already in effect that increase the competitiveness of US companies injured by imports, but they have been cut to the bone.

This is despite the fact that some of the highest paying American jobs have routinely been in the nation’s manufacturing sector. And some of the highest prices paid for the nation’s free trade deals have been paid by the folks who work in it. What’s shocking is the fact that that isn’t shocking anymore. And what’s really shocking is that we seem to have accepted it as the “new normal.” Now where did that ever come from?

How did we get here? How did we fall from the summit? Was it inexorable? Did we get soft? Did we get lazy? Did we stop caring? Well perhaps to some extent. But my sense of it is that too many of us have bought into the idea of globalization victimhood and a sort of paralysis has been allowed to set in.

Now in my opinion that’s simply not in America’s DNA. It’s about time that this nation decided not to participate in that mind set any longer. Economists and policy makers of all persuasions are now beginning to recognize the requirement for a robust response by this nation to foreign imports – irrespective of party affiliation or the particular free trade agreement under consideration at any given moment.  Companies, workers and Government officials need to stop blaming the foreigner and figure out what they can do to compete with the foreign imports.

There is no doubt in my mind that open and free trade benefits the overall U.S. economy in the long run. However, companies and the families that depend on the employment therein, indeed whole communities, are adversely affected in the short run (some for extended periods) resulting in significant expenditures in public welfare and health programs, deteriorated communities and the overall lowering of America’s industrial output.

But here’s the kicker: programs that can respond effectively already exist. Three of them are domiciled in our Department of Commerce and one in our Department of Labor:

  • Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (Commerce)
  • The Hollings Manufacturing Extension Partnership (Commerce)
  • Economic Adjustment for Communities (Commerce)
  • Trade Adjustment Assistance for Displaced Workers (Labor)

This Article, however, is focused on making US companies competitive again and the first two programs do just that, especially for smaller companies.  Specific federal support for trade adjustment programs, however, has been legislatively restrictive, bureaucratically hampered, organizationally disjointed, and substantially under-funded.

The lessons of history are clear. In the 1990’s, after the end of the Cold War and the fall of the Soviet Union, the federal government reduced defense industry procurements and closed military facilities. In response, a multi-agency, multi-year effort to assist adversely affected defense industries, their workers, and communities facing base closures were activated. Although successes usually required years of effort and follow on funding from agencies of proven approaches (for example the reinvention of the Philadelphia Naval Shipyard into a center for innovation and vibrant commercial activities), there was a general sense that the federal government was actively responding to a felt need at the local level.

A similar multi-agency response has been developed in the event of natural disasters, i.e., floods, hurricanes, tornadoes and earthquakes. Dimensions of the problem are identified, an appropriate expenditure level for a fixed period of time is authorized and the funds are deployed as needed through FEMA, SBA and other relevant agencies such as EDA.

The analogy to trade policy is powerful.  When the US Government enters into Trade Agreements, such as the TPP, Government action changes the market place.  All of a sudden US companies can be faced, not with a Tidal Wave, but a series of flash floods of foreign competition and imports that can simply wipe out US companies.

A starting point for a trade adjustment strategy would be for a combined Commerce-Labor approach building upon existing authorities and proven programs, that can be upgraded and executed forthwith.

Commerce’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) has 11 regional (multi-state) TAAF Centers but the program has been cut to only $12.5 million annually. The amount of matching funds for US companies has not changed since the 1980s. The system has the band-width to increase to a run rate of $50 million.  Projecting a four-year ramp up of $90 million (FY18-FY21), the TAA program could serve an additional 2,150 companies.

Foreign competitors may argue that TAA for Firms/Companies is a subsidy, but the money does not go directly to the companies themselves, but to consultants to work with the companies through a series of knowledge-based projects to make the companies competitive again.  Moreover, the program does not affect the US market or block imports in any way.

Does the program work?  In the Northwest, where I am located, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program since 1984.  The MidAtlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center in this video at http://mataac.org/howitworks/ describes in detail how the program works and why it is so successful—Its flexibility in working with companies on an individual basis to come up with specific adjustment plans for each company to make the companies competitive again in the US market as it exists today.

Increasing funding will allow the TAA for Firms/Companies program to expand its bandwidth and provide relief to larger US companies, including possibly even steel producers.  If companies that use steel can be saved by the program, why can’t the steel producers themselves?

But it will take a tough love approach to trade problems.  Working with the companies to forget about Globalization victimhood and start trying to actually solve the Company’s problems that hinder its competitiveness in the market as it exists today.

In addition to TAA for Firms/Companies, another important remedy needed to increase competitiveness is Commerce’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership (MEP), which has a Center in each State and Puerto Rico.  MEP provides high quality management and technical assistance to the country’s small manufacturers with an annual budget of $130 million. MEP, in fact, is one the remedies suggested by the TAA Centers along with other projects to make the companies competitive again.

As a consequence of a nation-wide re-invention of the system, MEP is positioned to serve even more companies. A commitment of $100 million over four years would serve an additional 8,400 firms. These funds could be targeted to the small manufacturing firms that are the base of our supply chain threatened by foreign imports.

Each of these programs requires significant non-federal match or cost share from the companies themselves, to assure that the local participants have significant skin in the game and to amplify taxpayer investment.  A $250 million commitment from the U.S. government would be a tangible although modest first step in visibly addressing the local consequences of our trade policies. The Department of Commerce would operate these programs in a coordinated fashion, working in collaboration with the Department of Labor’s existing Trade Adjustment Assistance for Displaced Workers program.

TAA for Workers is funded at the $711 million level, but retraining workers should be the last remedy in the US government’s bag.  If all else fails, retrain workers, but before that retrain the company so that the jobs and the companies are saved.  That is what TAA for Firms/Companies and the MEP program do.  Teach companies how to swim in the new market currents created by trade agreements and the US government

In short – this serious and multi-pronged approach will begin the process of stopping globalization victimhood in its tracks.

Attached is White Paper, taaf-2-0-white-paper, prepares to show to expand TAA for Firms/Companies and take it to the next level above $50 million, which can be used to help larger companies adjust to import competition.  The White Paper also rebuts the common arguments against TAA for Firms/Companies.

ALUMINUM FOIL FROM CHINA, RISE IN ANTIDUMPING CASES PUSHED BY COMMERCE AND ITC

On August 22, 2016, the Wall Street Journal published an article on how the sharp rise of aluminum foil imports, mostly from China, has led to the shutdown of US U.S. aluminum foil producers.  Articles, such as this one, often signal that an antidumping case is coming in the near future.

Recently, there have been several articles about the sharp rise in antidumping and countervailing duty/trade remedy cases in the last year.  By the second half of 2016, the US Government has reported that twice as many antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) case have been initiated in 2015-2016 as in 2009.

China is not the only target.  AD cases have been recently filed against steel imports from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, South Korea, South Africa, Taiwan, and Turkey; Steel Flanges from India, Italy and Spain; Chemicals from Korea and China, and Rubber from Brazil, Korea, Mexico and Poland.

The potential Aluminum Foil case may not be filed only against China.  In addition to China, the case could also be filed against a number of foreign exporters of aluminum foil to the United States.

Under US law Commerce determines whether dumping is taking place.  Dumping is defined as selling imported goods at less than fair value or less than normal value, which in general terms means lower than prices in the home/foreign market or below the fully allocated cost of production.  Antidumping duties are levied to remedy the unfair act by raising the US price so that the products are fairly traded.

Commerce also imposes Countervailing Duties to offset any foreign subsidies provided by foreign governments so as to raise the price of the subsidized imports.

AD and CVD duties can only be imposed if there is injury to the US industry, which is determined by the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  But in determining injury, the law directs the ITC to cumulate, that is add together all the imports of the same product from the various foreign exporters.  Thus if a number of countries are exporting aluminum foil in addition to China, there is a real incentive for the US aluminum foil industry to file a case against all the other countries too.

There are several reasons for the sharp rise in AD and CVD cases.  One is the state of the economy and the sharp rise in imports.  In bad economic times, the two lawyers that do the best are bankruptcy and international trade lawyers.  Chinese overcapacity can also result in numerous AD and CVD cases being filed not only in the United States but around the World.

Although the recent passage of the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 has made it marginally better to bring an injury case at the ITC, a major reason for the continued rise in AD and CVD cases is the Commerce and ITC determinations in these cases.  Bringing an AD case, especially against China, is like the old country saying, shooting fish in a barrel.

By its own regulation, Commerce finds dumping and subsidization in almost every case, and the ITC in Sunset Review Investigations leaves antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place for as long as 20 to 30 years, often to protect single company US industries, resulting in permanent barriers to imports and the creation of monopolies.

Many readers may ask why should people care if prices go up a few dollars at WalMart for US consumers?  Jobs remain.  Out of the 130 plus AD and CVD orders against China, more than 80 of the orders are against raw materials, chemicals, metals and steel, that go directly into downstream US production.  AD orders have led to the closure of downstream US factories.

Commerce has defined dumping so that 95% of the products imported into the United States are dumped.  Pursuant to the US Antidumping Law, Commerce chooses mandatory respondent companies to individually respond to the AD questionnaire.  Commerce generally picks only two or three companies out of tens, if not hundreds, of respondent companies.

Only mandatory companies in an AD case have the right to get zero, no dumping margins.  Only those mandatory respondent companies have the right to show that they are not dumping.  If a company gets a 0 percent, no dumping determination, in the initial investigation, the antidumping order does not apply to that company.

Pursuant to the AD law, for the non-mandatory companies, the Commerce Department may use any other reasonable method to calculate antidumping rates, which means weight averaging the rates individually calculated for the mandatory respondents, not including 0 rates.  If all mandatory companies receive a 0% rate, Commerce will use any other reasonable method to determine a positive AD rate, not including 0% rates.

So if there are more than two or three respondent companies in an AD case, which is the reality in most cases, by its own law and practice, Commerce will reach an affirmative dumping determination.  All three mandatory companies may get 0% dumping rates, but all other companies get a positive dumping rate.  Thus almost all imports are by the Commerce Department’s definition dumped.

Under the Commerce Department’s methodology all foreign companies are guilty of dumping and subsidization until they prove their innocence, and almost all foreign companies never have the chance to prove their innocence.

Commerce also has a number of other methodologies to increase antidumping rates.  In AD cases against China, Commerce treats China as a nonmarket economy country and, therefore, refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping, which makes it very easy for Commerce to find very high dumping rates.

In market economy cases, such as cases against EU and South American countries, Commerce has used zeroing or targeted dumping to create antidumping rates, even though the WTO has found such practices to be contrary to the AD Agreement.

The impact of the Commerce Department’s artificial methodology is further exaggerated by the ITC.  Although in the initial investigation, the ITC will go negative, no injury, in 30 to 40% of the cases, once the antidumping order is in place it is almost impossible to persuade the ITC to lift the antidumping order in Sunset Review investigations.

So antidumping orders, such as Pressure Sensitive Tape from Italy (1977), Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand from Japan (1978), Potassium Permanganate from China (1984), Cholopicrin from China (1984), and Porcelain on Steel Cookware from China (1986), have been in place for more than 30 years.  In 1987 when I was at the Commerce Department, an antidumping case was filed against Urea from the entire Soviet Union.  Antidumping orders from that case against Russia and Ukraine are still in place today.

In addition, many of these antidumping orders, such as Potassium Permanganate, Magnesium, Porcelain on Steel Cookware, and Sulfanilic Acid, are in place to protect one company US industries, creating little monopolies in the United States.

Under the Sunset Review methodology, the ITC never sunsets AD and CVD orders unless the US industry no longer exists.

By defining dumping the way it does, both Commerce and the ITC perpetuate the myth of Globalization victimhood.  We US companies and workers simply cannot compete against imports because all imports are dumped or subsidized.  But is strangling downstream industries to protect one company US industries truly good trade policy?  Does keeping AD orders in place for 20 to 30 years really save the US industry and make the US companies more competitive?  The answer simply is no.

Protectionism does not work but it does destroy downstream industries and jobs.  Protectionism is destructionism. It costs jobs.

US MISSING $2 BILLION IN ANTIDUMPING DUTIES, MANY ON CHINESE PRODUCTS

According to the attached recent report by the General Accounting Office, gao-report-ad-cvd-missing-duties, the US government is missing about $2.3 billion in unpaid anti-dumping and countervailing duties, two-thirds of which will probably never be paid.

The United States is the only country in the World that has retroactive liability for US importers.  When rates go up, US importers are liable for the difference plus interest.  But the actual determination of the amount owed by the US imports can take place many years after the import was actually made into the US.

The GAO found that billing errors and delays in final duty assessments were major factors in the unpaid bills, with many of the importers with the largest debts leaving the import business before they received their bill.

“U.S. Customs and Border Protection reported that it does not expect to collect most of that debt”.  Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) anticipates that about $1.6 billion of the total will never be paid.

As the GAO report states:

elements of the U.S. system for determining and collecting AD/CV duties create an inherent risk that some importers will not pay the full amount they owe in AD/CV duties. . . . three related factors create a heightened risk of AD/CV duty nonpayment: (1) The U.S. system for determining such duties involves the setting of an initial estimated duty rate upon the entry of goods, followed by the retrospective assessment of a final duty rate; (2) the amount of AD/CV duties for which an importer may be ultimately billed can significantly exceed what the importer pays when the goods enter the country; and (3) the assessment of final AD/CV duties can occur up to several years after an importer enters goods into the United States, during which time the importer may cease operations or become unable to pay additional duties.

The vast majority of the missing duties, 89%, were clustered around the following products from China: Fresh Garlic ($577 million), Wooden Bedroom Furniture ($505 million), Preserved Mushrooms ($459 million), crawfish tail meat ($210 million), Pure Magnesium ($170 million), and Honey ($158 million).

The GAO Report concludes at page 56-47:

We estimate the amount of uncollected duties on entries from fiscal year 2001 through 2014 to be $2.3 billion. While CBP collects on most AD/CV duty bills it issues, it only collects, on average, about 31 percent of the dollar amount owed. The large amount of uncollected duties is due in part to the long lag time between entry and billing in the U.S. retrospective AD/CV duty collection system, with an average of about 2-and-a-half years between the time goods enter the United States and the date a bill may be issued. Large differences between the initial estimated duty rate and the final duty rate assessed also contribute to unpaid bills, as importers receiving a large bill long after an entry is made may be unwilling or unable to pay. In 2015, CBP estimated that about $1.6 billion in duties owed was uncollectible. By not fully collecting unpaid AD/CV duty bills, the U.S. government loses a substantial amount of revenue and compromises its efforts to deter and remedy unfair and injurious trade practices.

But with all these missing duties, why doesn’t the US simply move to a prospective methodology, where the importer pays the dumping rate calculated by Commerce and the rate only goes up for future imports after the new rate is published.

Simple answer—the In Terrorem, trade chilling, effect of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders—the legal threat that the US importers will owe millions in the future, which could jeopardize the entire import company.  As a result, over time imports from China and other countries covered by AD and CVD order often decline to 0 because established importers are simply too scared to take the risk of importing under an AD and CVD order.

CUTSOMS NEW LAW AGAINST TRANSSHIPMENT AROUND AD AND CVD ORDERS; ONE MORE LEGAL PROCEDURE FOR US IMPORTERS AND FOREIGN EXPORTERS TO BE WARY OF

By Adams Lee, Trade and Customs Partner, Harris Moure.

U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued new attached regulations, customs-regs-antidumping, that establish a new administrative procedure for CBP to investigate AD and CVD duty evasion.  81 FR 56477 (Aug. 22, 2016). Importers of any product that could remotely be considered merchandise subject to an AD/CVD order now face an increased likelihood of being investigated for AD/CVD duty evasion. The new CBP AD/CVD duty evasion investigations are the latest legal procedure, together with CBP Section 1592 penalty actions (19 USC 1592), CBP criminal prosecutions (18 USC 542, 545), and “qui tam” actions under the False Claims Act, aimed at ensnaring US importers and their foreign suppliers in burdensome and time-consuming proceedings that can result in significant financial expense or even criminal charges.

The following are key points from these new regulations:

  • CBP now has a new option to pursue and shut down AD/CVD duty evasion schemes.
  • CBP will have broad discretion to issue questions and conduct on-site verifications.
  • CBP investigations may result in interim measures that could significantly affect importers.
  • CBP’s interim measures may effectively establish a presumption of the importer’s guilt until proven innocent.
  • Other interested parties, including competing importers, can chime in to support CBP investigations against accused importers.
  • Both petitioners and respondents will have the opportunity to submit information and arguments.
  • Failure to cooperate and comply with CBP requests may result in CBP applying an adverse inference against the accused party.
  • Failing to respond adequately may result in CBP determining AD/CVD evasion has occurred.

The new CBP regulations (19 CFR Part 165) establish a formal process for how it will consider allegations of AD/CVD evasion. These new regulations are intended to address complaints from US manufacturers that CBP was not doing enough to address AD/CVD evasion schemes and that their investigations were neither transparent nor effective.

AD/CVD duty evasion schemes typically involve falsely declaring the country of origin or misclassifying the product (e.g., “widget from China” could be misreported as “widget from Malaysia” or “wadget from China”).

Petitions filed by domestic manufacturers trigger concurrent investigations by the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) and the U.S. International Trade Commission (ITC) to determine whether AD/CVD orders should be issued to impose duties on covered imports. The DOC determines if imports have been dumped or subsidized and sets the initial AD/CVD rates.  CBP then has the responsibility to collect AD/CVD duty deposits and to assess the final amount of AD/CVD duties owed at the rates determined by DOC.

US petitioners have decried U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) as the weak link in enforcing US trade laws, not just because of it often being unable to collect the full amount of AD/CVD duties owed, but also because how CBP responds to allegations of AD/CVD evasion. Parties that provided CBP with information regarding evasion schemes were not allowed to participate in CBP’s investigations and were not notified of whether CBP had initiated an investigation or the results of any investigation.

CBP’s new regulations address many complaints regarding CBP’s lack of transparency in handling AD/CVD evasion allegations. The new regulations provide more details on how CBP procedures are to be conducted, the types of information that will be considered and made available to the public, and the specific timelines and deadlines in CBP investigations:

  • “Interested parties” for CBP investigations now includes not just the accused importers, but also competing importers that submit the allegations.
  • Interested parties now have access to public versions of information submitted in CBP’s investigation of AD/CVD evasion allegations.
  • After submission and receipt of a properly filed allegation, CBP has 15 business day to determine whether to initiate an investigation and 95 days to notify all interested parties of its decision. If CBP does not proceed with an investigation, CBP has five business days to notify the alleging party of that determination.
  • Within 90 days of initiating an investigation, CBP can impose interim measures if it has a “reasonable suspicion” that the importer used evasion to get products into the U.S.

Many questions remain as to how CBP will apply these regulations to actual investigations.  How exactly will parties participate in CBP investigations and what kind of comments will be accepted?  How much of the information in the investigations will be made public? How is “reasonable suspicion” defined and what kind of evidence will be considered? Is it really the case that accused Importers may be subject to interim measures (within 90 days of initiation) even before they receive notice of an investigation (within 95 days of initiation)?

These new AD/CVD duty evasion regulations further evidence the government’s plans to step up its efforts to enforce US trade laws more effectively and importers must – in turn – step up their vigilance to avoid being caught in one of these new traps.

UPCOMING DEADLINES IN SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING CASE—CHANCE TO GET BACK INTO THE US MARKET AGAIN

There are looming deadlines in the Solar Cells from China Antidumping (“AD”) and Countervailing Duty (“CVD”) case.  In December 2016, US producers, Chinese companies and US importers can request a review investigation in the Solar Cells case of the sales and imports that entered the United States during the review period, December 1, 2015 to November 31, 2016.

December 2016 will be a very important month for US importers because administrative reviews determine how much US importers actually owe in AD and CVD cases. Generally, the US industry will request a review of all Chinese companies. If a Chinese company does not respond in the Commerce Department’s Administrative Review, its AD and CVD rate could well go to the highest level and for certain imports the US importer will be retroactively liable for the difference plus interest.

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

In February 2016, while in China I found many examples of Chinese solar companies or US importers, which did not file requests for a review investigation in December 2015.  In one instance, although the Chinese company obtained a separate rate during the Solar Cells initial investigation, the Petitioner appealed to the Court.  The Chinese company did not know the case was appealed, and the importer now owe millions in antidumping duties because they failed to file a review request in December 2015.

In another instance, in the Solar Products case, the Chinese company requested a review investigation in the CVD case but then did not respond to the Commerce quantity and value questionnaire.   That could well result in a determination of All Facts Available giving the Chinese company the highest CVD China rate of more than 50%.

The worst catastrophe in CVD cases was Aluminum Extrusions from China where the failure of mandatory companies to respond led to a CVD rate of 374%.  In the first review investigation, a Chinese company came to us because Customs had just ruled their auto part to be covered by the Aluminum Extrusions order.  To make matters worse, an importer requested a CVD review of the Chinese company, but did not tell the company and they did not realize that a quantity and value questionnaire had been sent to them.  We immediately filed a QV response just the day before Commerce’s preliminary determination.

Too late and Commerce gave the Chinese company an AFA rate of 121% by literally assigning the Chinese company every single subsidy in every single province and city in China, even though the Chinese company was located in Guangzhou.  Through a Court appeal, we reduced the rate to 79%, but it was still a high rate, so it is very important for companies to keep close watch on review investigations.

The real question many Chinese solar companies may have is how can AD and CVD rates be reduced so that we can start exporting to the US again.  In the Solar Cells case, the CVD China wide rate is only 15%.  The real barrier to entry is the China wide AD rate of 249%

US AD and CVD laws, however, are considered remedial, not punitive statutes.  Thus, every year in the month in which the AD or CVD order was issued, Commerce gives the parties, including the domestic producers, foreign producers and US importers, the right to request a review investigation based on sales of imports that entered the US in the preceding year.

Thus, the AD order on Solar Cells from China was issued in December 2012.   In December 2016, a Chinese producer and/or US importer can request a review investigation of the Chinese solar cells that were entered, actually imported into, the US during the period December 1, 2015 to November 31, 2016.

Chinese companies may ask that it is too difficult and too expensive to export may solar cells to the US, requesting a nonaffiliated importer to put up an AD of 298%, which can require a payment of well over $1 million USD.  The US AD and CVD law is retrospective.  Thus the importer posts a cash deposit when it imports products under an AD or CVD order, and the importer will get back the difference plus interest at the end of the review investigation.

More importantly, through a series of cases, Commerce has let foreign producers export smaller quantities of the product to use as a test sale in a review investigation if all other aspects of the sale are normal.  Thus in a Solar Cells review investigation, we had the exporter make a small sale of several panels along with other products and that small sale served as the test sale to establish the new AD rate.

How successful can companies be in reviews?  In a recent Solar Cells review investigation, we dropped a dumping rate of 249% to 8.52%, allowing the Chinese Solar Cell companies to begin to export to the US again.

Playing the AD and CVD game in review investigations can significantly reduce AD and CVD rates and get the Chinese company back in the US market again

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA CHINESE VERSION OF THE ARTICLE

中国进口太阳能电池反倾销案即将到来的最后期限重返美国市场的机会

针对原产自中国的太阳能电池反倾销(“AD”)和反补贴税(“CVD”)案的期限迫在眉睫。2016年12月,美国制造商、中国公司和美国进口商可以要求当局复审调查于2015年12月1日至2016年11月31日的审查期间进口并在美国销售的太阳能电池案例。

2016年12月将会是美国进口商的一个重要月份,因为行政复审将决定美国进口商在AD和CVD案中的实际欠款。一般上,美国业者会要求当局对所有中国公司进行复审。如果一家中国公司没有对商务部的行政复审做出回应,它很可能被征收最高的AD和CVD税率,美国进口商也将被追溯征收特定进口产品的差额及利息。

就我的经验而言,许多美国进口商并没有意识到行政复审调查的重要性。他们认为初步调查结束后,AD和CVD案也就此结束。许多进口商因为其中国供应商没有对行政复审做出回应,导致他们本身背负数百万美元的追溯性责任而因此措手不及。

2016年2月,我在中国期间发现很多中国太阳能公司或美国进口商没有在2015年12月提出复审调查请求。在其中一个例子中,某中国公司虽然在太阳能电池初步调查期间获得了单独税率,但是申请人向法庭提出了上诉。该中国公司并不知道有关的上诉案,结果进口商由于无法在2015年12月提出复审要求,现在欠下了数百万美元的反倾销税。

在另一个与太阳能产品有关的案例中,某中国公司针对CVD案提出了复审调查的要求,却没有对商务部的数量和价值问卷做出回应。这很可能导致当局根据“所有可得的事实”(All Facts Available)来向该中国公司征收超过50%的最高对华CVD税率。

在众多的CVD案例中,中国进口的铝合金型材所面对的局面最糟糕,受强制调查的公司若无法做出相关回应可被征收374%的CVD税率。一家中国公司在首个复审调查时联系上我们,因为海关刚裁定他们的汽车零部件属于铝合金型材生产项目。更糟的是,一家进口商在没有通知该中国公司的情况下,要求当局对其进行CVD审查,而他们也不晓得当局已经向他们发出一份数量和价值问卷。我们立即在初审的前一天提交了QV做出了回应。

可是这一切都已经太迟了,虽然该中国公司位于广州,商务部却逐一地根据中国的每一个省份和城市的补贴,向该中国公司征收了121%的AFA税率。我们通过向法庭提出上诉,将税率减少到了79%,可是这一税率还是很高,因此所有公司都有必要仔细地关注复审调查。

很多中国太阳能产品企业最想知道的,是如何降低AD和CVD税率,好让我们能再次将产品进口到美国。以太阳能电池的案例来看,当局向中国征收的统一性CVD税率仅为15%。当局向中国征收的统一性AD税率高达249%,这才是真正的入市门槛。

不过,美国的AD和CVD法律被认为是补救性而不是惩罚性法规,所以商务部每年在颁布AD或CVD令后,会在该月份允许包括美国国内生厂商、外国生厂商和美国进口商在内的各方,对上一年在美国销售的进口产品提出复审调查的要求。

因此,针对中国进口的太阳能电池的AD令是在2012年12月颁布的。一家中国生厂商和/或美国进口商可以在2016年12月,要求当局对从2015年12月1日至2016年11月31日期间进口到美国的中国太阳能电池进行复审调查。

中国公司或许会问,要求一家无关联的进口商承担298%的AD税,也就是支付超过1百万美元的费用,以便进口大批的太阳能电池到美国,是否太困难也太贵了。美国的AD和CVD法律是有追溯力的。因此,在AD或CVD令下,进口商在进口产品时会支付现款押金,并在复审调查结束后取回差额加上利息。

更重要的是,在一系列的案例中,商务部已经允许外国生厂商在其它销售方面都正常的情况下,出口少量产品作为试销用途。所以在一宗太阳能电池的复审调查案中,我们让出口商在销售其它产品的同时,出售少量的电池板作为试销用途以建立新的AD税率。

公司在复审案中的成功率有多大?在最近的一宗太阳能电池复审调查案中,我们将倾销率从249%下降到8.52%,协助中国太阳能电池公司重新进口产品到美国。

在复审调查期间了解如何应对并采取正确的策略,可以大幅度降低AD和CVD税率,并让中国公司重返美国市场。

STEEL TRADE CASES

HOT ROLLED STEEL FLAT PRODUCTS

On August 5, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-multiple-hot-rolled-steel-flat-products-ad-cvd-final-080816, Commerce issued final dumping determinations in Hot-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, the Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom cases, and a final countervailing duty determination of Hot-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Brazil, Korea, and Turkey.

Other than Brazil, Australia and the United Kingdom, most antidumping rates were in the single digits.

In the Countervailing duty case, most companies got rates in single digits, except for POSCO in Korea, which received a CVD rate of 57%.

SEPTEMBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On September 8, 2016, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, pdf-published-fed-reg-notice-oppty, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of September. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products, Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons, Off the Road Tires, Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars.   The specific countervailing duty cases are: Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Narrow Woven Ribbons, Off the Road Tires, Flexible Magnets, and Magnesia Carbon Bricks.

For those US import companies that imported : Crawfish Tailmeat, Foundry Coke, Kitchen Appliance Shelving and Racks, Lined Paper Products, Magnesia Carbon Bricks, Narrow Woven Ribbons, Off the Road Tires, Flexible Magnets, and Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bars during the antidumping period September 1, 2015-August 31, 2016 or the countervailing duty period of review, calendar year 2015, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

STOP IP INFRINGING PRODUCTS FROM CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES USING CUSTOMS AND SECTION 337 CASES

With Amazon and Ebay having increased their efforts at bringing in Chinese sellers and with more and more Chinese manufacturers branching out and making their own products, the number of companies contacting our China lawyers here at Harris Moure about problems with counterfeit products and knockoffs has soared. If the problem involves infringing products being imported into the United States, powerful remedies are available to companies with US IP rights if the infringing imports are products coming across the US border.

If the IP holder has a registered trademark or copyright, the individual or company holding the trademark or copyright can go directly to Customs and record the trademark under 19 CFR 133.1 or the copyright under 19 CFR 133.31.  See https://iprr.cbp.gov/.

Many years ago a US floor tile company was having massive problems with imports infringing its copyrights on its tile designs.  Initially, we looked at a Section 337 case as described below, but the more we dug down into the facts, we discovered that the company simply failed to register its copyrights with US Customs.

Once the trademarks and copyrights are registered, however, it is very important for the company to continually police the situation and educate the various Customs ports in the United States about the registered trademarks and copyrights and the infringing imports coming into the US.  Such a campaign can help educate the Customs officers as to what they should be looking out for when it comes to identifying which imports infringe the trademarks and copyrights in question.  The US recording industry many years ago had a very successful campaign at US Customs to stop infringing imports.

For those companies with problems from Chinese infringing imports, another alternative is to go to Chinese Customs to stop the export of infringing products from China.  The owner of Beanie Babies did this very successfully having Chinese Customs stop the export of the infringing Beanie Babies out of China.

One of the most powerful remedies is a Section 337 case, which can block infringing products, regardless of their origin, from entering the U.S.  A Section 337 action (the name comes from the implementing statute, 19 U.S.C. 1337) is available against imported goods that infringe a copyright, trademark, patent, or trade secret. But because other actions are usually readily available to owners of registered trademarks and copyrights, Section 337 actions are particularly effective for owners of patents, unregistered trademarks, and trade secrets. Although generally limited to IP rights, in the ongoing Section 337 steel case, US Steel has been attempting to expand the definition of unfair acts to include hacking into computer systems and antitrust violations.

The starting point is a section 337 investigation at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).  If the ITC finds certain imports infringe a specific intellectual property right, it can issue an exclusion order and U.S. Customs will then keep out all the infringing imports at the border.

Section 337 cases have been brought and exclusion orders issued against a vast range of different products: from toys (Rubik’s Cube Puzzles, Cabbage Patch Dolls) to footwear (Converse sneakers) to large machinery (paper-making machines) to consumer products (caskets, auto parts, electronic cigarettes and hair irons) to high tech products (computers, cell phones, and semiconductor chips).

Section 337 is a hybrid IP and trade statute, which requires a showing of injury to a US industry. The injury requirement is very low and can nearly always be met–a few lost sales will suffice to show injury. The US industry requirement can be a sticking point. The US industry is usually the one company that holds the intellectual property right in question. If the IP right is a registered trademark, copyright or patent, the US industry requirement has been expanded to not only include significant US investment in plant and equipment, labor or capital to substantial investment in the exploitation of the IP right, including engineering, research and development or licensing.  Recently, however, the ITC has raised the US industry requirement to make it harder for patent “trolls” or Non Practicing Entities to bring 337 cases.

Section 337 cases, however, are directed at truly unfair acts.  Patents and Copyrights are protected by the US Constitution so in contrast to antidumping and countervailing duty cases, respondents in these cases get more due process protection.  The Administrative Procedures Act is applied to Section 337 cases with a full trial before an Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), extended full discovery, a long trial type hearing, but on a very expedited time frame.

Section 337 actions, in fact, are the bullet train of IP litigation, fast, intense litigation in front of an ALJ.  The typical section 337 case takes only 12-15 months. Once a 337 petition is filed, the ITC has 30 days to determine whether or not to institute the case. After institution, the ITC will serve the complaint and notice of investigation on the respondents. Foreign respondents have 30 days to respond to the complaint; US respondents have only 20 days. If the importers or foreign respondents do not respond to the complaint, the ITC can find the companies in default and issue an exclusion order.

The ITC’s jurisdiction in 337 cases is “in rem,” which means it is over the product being imported into the US. This makes sense: the ITC has no power over the foreign companies themselves, but it does have power over the imports. What this means in everyday terms is that unlike most regular litigation, a Section 337 case can be effectively won against a Chinese company that 1) is impossible to serve, 2) fails to show up at the hearing, and 3) is impossible to collect any money from.

The remedy in section 337 cases is an exclusion order excluding the respondent’s infringing products from entering the United States. In special situations, however, where it is very easy to manufacture a product, the ITC can issue a general exclusion order against the World.  In the Rubik’s Cube puzzle case, which was my case at the ITC, Ideal (the claimant) named over 400 Taiwan companies as respondents infringing its common law trademark. The ITC issued a General Exclusion Order in 1983 and it is still in force today, blocking Rubik’s Cube not made by Ideal from entering the United States. In addition to exclusion orders, the ITC can issue cease and desist orders prohibiting US importers from selling products in inventory that infringe the IP rights in question

Section 337 cases can also be privately settled, but the settlement agreement is subject to ITC review. We frequently work with our respondent clients to settle 337 cases early to minimize their legal fees. In the early 1990s, RCA filed a section 337 case against TVs from China. The Chinese companies all quickly settled the case by signing a license agreement with RCA.

Respondents caught in section 337 cases often can modify their designs to avoid the IP right in question. John Deere brought a famous 337 case aimed at Chinese companies that painted their tractors green and yellow infringing John Deere’s trademark. Most of the Chinese respondents settled the case and painted their tractors different colors, such as blue and red.

Bottom Line: Section 337 cases are intense litigation before the ITC, and should be considered by U.S. companies as a tool for fighting against infringing products entering the United States. On the flip side, US importers and foreign respondents named in these cases should take them very seriously and respond quickly because exclusion orders can stay in place for years.

 

If you have any questions about these cases or about the antidumping or countervailing duty law, US trade policy, trade adjustment assistance, customs, or 337 IP/patent law in general, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–DUELING US CHINA ANTIDUMPING CASES, CHINA’S NME STATUS, TPP, ALUMINUM AND CONGRESS FAILURE TO LET TAAF FIX THE TRADE PROBLEM

Jackson Statue Canons Lafayette Park White House After Snow PennTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER FEBRUARY 21, 2016

Dear Friends,

I have been in China for two weeks working on the Solar Cells and Steel Sinks cases.  This is an abbreviated February newsletter, which will cover trade and trade policy, including the new trade cases filed in the United States and China, the TPP, the New Trade Legislation, the China Nonmarket Economy Issue, plus developments in the Aluminum Extrusions and other cases.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR CONTINUES WITH FOUR NEW US CASES AGAINST CHINA AND ONE BIG NEW CHINA CASE AGAINST THE US

As stated at the top of this blog post, trade is a two way street, and the recent US antidumping and countervailing duty cases filed against China with the corresponding Chinese antidumping and countervailing duty case against the US illustrates that the trade war continues. The recent US cases target more than $1.2 billion of Chinese imports into the US, but the Chinese case targets about $1.5 billion of US exports, imports into China.  In trade what goes around comes around.

FOUR US CASES AGAINST CHINA

GEOGRID PRODUCTS

On January 13, 2016, in the attached complaint, AD PETITION Biaxial Integral Geogrid Products, Tensar Crop filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition against about $10 to $20 million in imports of Certain Biaxial Integral Geogrid Products from the People‘s Republic of China alleging a dumping margin of over 200%. These Geogrid products are useful in earthwork construction, such as in roadways.

Conventional methods of road construction have been to use stone and, sometimes, a geotextile for drainage, underneath the paved or unpaved road. Geotextiles, however do not provide any structural benefit to a roadway. There is a market for geosynthetics, such as the Geogrid products,  that allow a contractor to improve not just the drainage, but also the structure and performance of a road, while using less stone.

AMORPHOUS SILICA FABRIC

On January 20, 2016, in the attached complaint, AD PETITION Amorphous Silica Fabric Scope Importers Exporters, Auburn Manufacturing filed an antidumping and countervailing duty petition alleging antidumping rates of more than 160% against more than $10 million of imports of amorphous silica fabric from China.

Auburn supplies this amorphous silica fabric to the US Navy and is competing against Chinese shipments of a high-performance fabric used to insulate and resist extreme heat in industrial applications

Because Auburn is the Navy’s leading supplier of ASF, it alleges the uptick in competing imports from China suggests violations of the Buy American Act, which requires 50 percent U.S. content for government purchases, and the Berry Amendment, which has a 100 percent domestic content requirement for textiles procured by the U.S. Defense Department.

BUS AND TRUCK TIRES

On January 29, 2016, in the attached complaint, AD PETITION Truck Bus Tires China 701-731 (3), the United Steelworkers union and Titan International Corp., a US tire manufacturer, filed an antidumping and countervailing duty case against imports of more than $1 billion truck and bus tires from China, and also India and Sri Lanka.

STAINLESS STEEL PETITION

On February 12, 2016, in the attached complaint, STAINLESS STEEL PETITION, a new antidumping and countervailing duty case was filed against Stainless Steel Sheet and Strip from China. The rumor in China is that because Commerce recently is refusing to give State Owned Companies their own dumping margin and since Commerce uses fake prices and costs based on surrogate values, Chinese stainless steel companies have decided not to fight the case because they believe the entire case is rigged and they cannot get a fair result.  When one understands the surrogate value methodology, which Commerce has used for 40 years to deny Chinese companies fair treatment in antidumping cases, one can understand why the companies would take such a position.

MAJOR CHINESE CASE AGAINST THE US–DISTILLER DRIED GRAINS

Meanwhile, the Chinese Government’s Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) filed its own antidumping and countervailing duty case against imports of $1.5 billion of distiller’s dried grains (DDGs), an animal feed product, from the United States.  By the way, it should be noted that in Chinese antidumping cases against the US, the Chinese government does use actual prices and costs in the United States to calculate antidumping rates for Chinese companies.  In the past, Commerce and the US government in one WTO case objected that the Chinese government used average US costs rather than the specific cost for the specific product in question.  At least the Chinese government uses real US costs.

According to the MOFCOM notices, the petitioner requesting the trade remedy probe is the China Alcoholic Drinks Association. DDGs are a byproduct of the production of ethanol and alcohol products that involve corn as a raw material.

After the last Chinese investigation against the US, US exports of DDGs dropped by 50%. The Chinese government later dropped the investigation in 2012 and US exports/Chinese imports neared pre-investigation levels, reaching roughly 2.1 million tons and subsequently experienced sharp growth in 2013, hitting 4.4 million tons.

Up to Nov. 2015, the U.S. exported roughly $1.5 billion worth of DDGs to China. That is about five times as much as the second-most valued export market, Mexico, which according to USDA data received about $315 million in DDG exports during the same time.

The Chinese Countervailing Duty notice alleges that U.S. DDG exporters received 10 types of countervailable subsidies, including several farm bill programs, such as Price Loss Coverage and Agriculture Risk Coverage, and also federally subsidized crop insurance and export credit guarantees. Additionally, the Chinese CVD notice also states that 42 state programs that provide benefits for biofuel production also constitute countervailable subsidies.  The AD duties on the US imports are alleged to be “significant.”

Growth Energy, a US ethanol trade group, in the attached announcement, GROWTH ENERGY CHINA ANTIDUMPING DISTILLER GRAINS, announced:

“We are disappointed to see the initiation of anti-dumping and countervailing duties cases against U.S. DDGS exports to China. The false allegations by the Chinese petitioners have the potential to seriously threaten our largest overseas market for DDGS and could have a significant impact on the supply, demand and price for DDGS in the U.S. and other foreign markets. We are working closely with our members and the U.S. Grains Council as it coordinates an industry response.”

The Us Grains Council in the attached announcement, US GRAINS COUNSEL CHINA AD, stated:

“We are disappointed to see today the initiation of antidumping and countervailing duties investigations of U.S. DDGS exports to China. We believe the allegations by the Chinese petitioners are unwarranted and unhelpful. They could have negative effects on U.S. ethanol and DDGS producers, as well as on Chinese consumers, potentially over a period of many years. We are also confident that our trading practices for DDGS, ethanol and all coarse grains and related products are fair throughout the world. We stand ready to cooperate fully with these investigations and will be working closely with our members to coordinate the U.S. industry response.”

Although many US unions and manufacturers scream that the Chinese government is retaliating against the US trade cases, one should keep in mind that in contrast to the United States, but like Canada, the EU and many other countries, China has a public interest test. Thus, when antidumping and countervailing duty complaints are filed in China, the Chinese government may not initiate them right away because of complaints by the downstream industry.  That is not true in the United States where downstream industries have no standing and there is no public interest test.

TRADE POLICY

TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (“TPP”) CONTINUES TO RUN INTO PROBLEMS

There are ratification problems for the TPP all over the world, including the US, where election politics and other specific problems make it difficult for the TPP to pass the US Congress.

On January 21, 2016, the New Zealand government announced it would hold a ceremony on February 4th to sign the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership in Auckland.  The ceremony officially gave the 12 nations a green light to begin pushing the agreement through their legislatures.  In a brief statement, New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay extended a formal invitation to top trade officials from each TPP country to ink the agreement, which will cover 40 percent of the global economy once it is in effect. Mr. McClay stated:

“Signature will mark the end of the TPP negotiating process. Following signature, all 12 countries will be able to begin their respective domestic ratification processes and will have up to two years to complete that before the agreement enters into force.”

McClay added that once the agreement has been signed, the New Zealand government will begin a series of “roadshows” to promote the TPP and win over public support.

A similar process is already underway in the U.S.  The U.S., however, cannot hold a vote on the agreement until the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) has issued a report on the economic effects of the TPP, which it is expected to do by the middle of May.  Around the time that report is released, the Obama administration is expected to present Congress with legislation to formally implement the TPP.

Once the TPP was signed on February 3rd by the trade ministers for the 12 TPP countries, the trade ministers all pledged to throw their weight into passing the trade deal through their legislatures.  In a Joint Statement, the 12 trade ministers stated:

“Our goal is to enhance shared prosperity, create jobs and promote sustainable economic development for all of our nations. The signing of the agreement signals an important milestone and the beginning of the next phase for TPP. Our focus now turns to the completion of our respective domestic processes.”

USTR Michael Froman, who is in a battle to sell the agreement to the U.S. Congress, stated before the signing that his office would continue to intensify its efforts to engage with lawmakers, many of whom have raised concerns about various aspects of the deal, ranging from its intellectual property rules to cross-border data flow provisions.  Although it looks that there will be no TPP vote on Capitol Hill until after the November elections, Froman stated:

“We are working with our stakeholders. … We are working with the leadership of Congress, educating everybody as to what’s in the agreements, addressing their questions and concerns. And I’m confident at the end of the day, because of the strong benefits to the U.S. economy, … that [the TPP] will have the necessary bipartisan support to be approved.”

Before the signing, USTR Froman outlined the plans to sell the TPP to the lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Froman stated that the signing in New Zealand comes at a time when “momentum for passage is growing” and reiterated his office’s commitment to smoothing out the many TPP concerns that have been voiced by the U.S. Congress.  The USTR stated:

“In the months ahead, in addition to the work that we are doing to ensure that members understand what’s in the agreement, understand the economic benefits on a state-by-state or district-by-district basis, we are going to be focusing congressional engagement in four key areas.”

The first concern, however, is the deal’s level of market exclusivity for biologic drugs, which are high-value medicines used to treat diseases like cancer and rheumatoid arthritis. While U.S. law offers 12 years of exclusivity for biologics before generics enter the market, the TPP offers between five and eight years.

Another point of contention has been the exemption of financial service providers from TPP rules barring the forced localization of data servers, a decision that came straight from the U.S. Treasury Department.  Treasury Secretary has testified in Congress that the US Treasury does not want the financial services provides covered by the TPP because of the concerns of US regulators.  Thus the US government itself is the one that exempted the financial service providers from the TPP.  This move has upset providers of the banking, insurance and electronic payment industries and their Congressional champions, who have argued that those industries are just as reliant on the free flow of data across borders as any other industry covered by the agreement.

Republicans, especially those from the South, have also taken issue with the TPP’s removal of tobacco control rules from the list of measures that can be challenged under the agreement’s investor-state dispute settlement mechanism.  The so-called tobacco carve out was meant as a gesture to public health advocates that did not want to see trade agreements used to undermine tobacco regulations. But this has faced criticism from experts who fear it could lead to a troubling trend of U.S. negotiators dropping items from trade deals if the public sentiment against them is strong enough.

At the February 3rd signing, none of the TPP trade ministers made it seem passage of the deal was imminent in their countries.  On February 3, 2016 John Brinkley of Forbes had this to say about the next steps after the TPP signing:

After Signing, TPP’s Future Is Hard To Gauge . . . .

You may ask what that means and what happens now. Probably, the agreement will fade from public view until the 12 signatories submit it to their legislatures for ratification. That could take years.

In order for the TPP to take effect, at least six of the 12 signatories, representing at least 85 percent of their combined gross domestic product, have to ratify it. They would have to include the United States, because the GDPs of the 11 other countries don’t add up to 85 percent of the total.

The Obama administration has some hope that Congress will vote on the TPP this spring. But that looks exceedingly unlikely. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., has told Obama that he doesn’t want to bring it up for a vote until after the November elections.

That can only mean a lame duck congressional session in November and/or December, because the next President might not submit it to Congress. All the candidates, Democratic and Republican, have said they oppose the TPP. But that doesn’t mean that whoever gets elected won’t change his or her mind after taking office. It’s happened before. . . .

The TPP is the largest free trade agreement ever negotiated. The 12 parties to it represent 40 percent of global GDP. Opposition to the deal has been intense in several of them.

In Australia, about 305,000 people have signed a petition demanding an independent assessment of the agreement before Parliament votes on it.

In Auckland, New Zealand, about 1,000 protestors Wednesday tried to block access to the Sky City Convention Centre, where the signing took place. There have also been sizeable protests in Japan, Chile and Malaysia.

A TPP without Malaysia or Vietnam or Chile or Peru would still be viable,especially considering the list of countries that hope join it after it takes effect – South Korea, Indonesia, Colombia, the Philippines and others.  But a TPP without the United States? Not possible. And the country where it faces the toughest sledding is the United States of America.

A Pew survey last June found that only 49 percent of Americans saw the agreement as “a good thing for our country.” Pew surveyed people in all 12 TPP countries and found more negativity in only one, Malaysia.

Given the enormity of the TPP, it has generated more controversy here than has any previous free trade agreement. Interest groups representing everything from gay rights to Tea Party hostility to government have taken up arms against it.  There is also a great deal of ambivalence, or downright hostility, to the deal in Congress. It’s not certain that there is enough support in the House and Senate to ratify it. . . .

Republicans, who historically have supported free trade agreements, will probably do what the president-elect wants them to do, if he or she is a Republican. At this point, that means voting no on the TPP.

That is no doubt what McConnell is hoping for. He doesn’t like the TPP’s treatment of the tobacco industry and he doesn’t like Obama. You’ll remember his famous pronouncement of 2009: he said his mission in life was to make sure Obama was a one-term president. Having failed at that, he’s determined not to give the president anything he wants during his last year in office. That could put off a ratification vote until 2017 or later.

Brinkley’s full article can be found at this link http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2016/02/04/399/#110757c32c7d

The Presidential primary is also a major obstacle to the passage of the TPP. Mirroring statements by the Presidential candidates about the TPP, there is substantial divisiveness among lawmakers in Congress, even among party-line Republicans who have historically supported new trade agreements.  The combination of an unexpected level of Republican opposition and the traditional resistance from core Democrats because of union opposition suggests a substantial lag between Froman signing the TPP next month and getting the agreement approved on Capitol Hill.

But Presidential politics have substantially raised concerns that the US is entering a new protectionist era.   On January 28, 2016, the Wall Street Journal in an editorial entitled, ”The Leap of Trump As the GOP nominee or President, he would be a political ‘black swan.“ The Journal stated:

We’ve been critical of Mr. Trump on many grounds and our views have not changed. But we also respect the American public, and the brash New Yorker hasn’t stayed atop the GOP polls for six months because of his charm. Democracies sometimes elect poor leaders—see the last eight years—but their choices can’t be dismissed as mindless unless you want to give up on democracy itself. . . .

The problem is that Mr. Trump is an imperfect vessel for this populism, to say the least.

On politics and policy he is a leap into the known unknown. That so many voters seem willing to take this leap suggests how far confidence in American political leaders has fallen.

We can debate another day how the U.S. got here, but with the voting nigh it’s important to address what a Trump nomination could mean for the GOP and the country. . . .

All of which means that Mr. Trump has the widest electoral variability as a candidate. He could win, but he also could lose 60% to 40%, taking the GOP’s Senate majority down and threatening House control. A Clinton Presidency with Speaker Nancy Pelosi would usher in an era of antigrowth policies worse than even 2009-2010. This is the killer black swan.

And how would Mr. Trump govern as President? Flip a coin. . . .

But history teaches that Presidents try to do what they say they will during a campaign, and Mr. Trump is threatening a trade war with China, Mexico and Japan, among others.

He sometimes says he merely wants to start a negotiation with China that will end happily when it bows to his wishes. China may have other ideas. A bad sign is that Mr. Trump has hired as his campaign policy adviser Stephen Miller, who worked for Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.), the most antitrade, anti-immigration Senator. . . .

Republicans should look closely before they leap.

Prior to this Article on January 20, 2016, John Brinkley of Forbes wrote an article entitled, “Trump On Trade: Does He Really Believe This Stuff? Oh, Donald, what are we going to do with you?” The Article states:

During last week’s GOP presidential candidates’ debate, the front-runner Donald Trump said again that the way for the United States to end China’s treachery with regard to trade was to slap a significant tariff on it.

Earlier, he told the New York Times that the tariff rate should be 45 percent.

When Fox Business anchor Neil Cavuto asked him about this during the debate, he said, “That’s wrong. They were wrong. It’s the New York Times, they’re always wrong.

Then the Times produced a recording of Trump saying exactly what he said he didn’t say. Busted! . . .

“They (the Chinese) can’t believe how stupid the American leadership is,” he said during the debate. “I’m totally open to a tariff. If they don’t treat us fairly —hey, their whole trade thing is tariff. You can’t deal with China without tariff. They do it to us. We don’t do it. It’s not fair trade.”

He also said, “I know so much about trade with China.”

For the record, WTO members are required to give each other Most Favored Nation status. That means that member countries have to charge the same tariff rate on a particular product on all imports from other members. If China levies a 2 percent tariff on cars from Japan, it has to give the United States and all other WTO members the same treatment. China does not impose anything close to a blanket 45 percent tariff on all U.S. imports.

If the U.S. government were to do as Trump suggests, it would violate a fundamental WTO rule, lead to retaliatory tariffs by China, close the Chinese market to American exporters and start a trade war. That’ll teach ‘em!

If Trump knew as much about trade with China as he claims, he’d know that tariffs aren’t the issue. Of greater concern is China’s proclivity for breaking the rules, such as by dumping products at below cost in the U.S. market.

In addition to dumping, Brinkley went on to complain about various China problems, including counterfeiting and illegal transshipment and then went on to state:

Does Trump know about any of these things? If so, he’s never mentioned it.

Trump made another laughable trade-related vow in a speech Monday at Liberty University. He said that, as president, he would force Apple to make all its products in the U.S.

“We’re going to get Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) to build their damn computers and things in this country instead of in other countries,” he said.

He didn’t say how he would do this, but it doesn’t matter, because he couldn’t. It isn’t possible. “There’s no legal way he could do that,” said Chris Cloutier, a trade lawyer with Schagrin Associates in Washington.

I know, I know, refuting Trump’s claims about trade (or about pretty much anything) is like shooting fish in a barrel. So why bother?

(A) Because he claims to know a lot about trade, (B) because his followers take everything he says as fact and (C) because political pundits and prognosticators have begun saying the Trump train has gathered so much speed it may be unstoppable. . . .

Stranger things than a Donald Trump presidency have happened. But I don’t know what they are.

For the full article, see http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2016/01/20/trump-on-trade-does-he-believe-what-he-says/#4508a7055247.

In commenting on this Article to Mr. Brinkley, I made the point that all the arguments he throws at China, in fact, are the reason for Trump’s argument.   Brinkley never mentions that US antidumping cases against China are based on fake numbers and that the game the Commerce Department has created, in fact, has created another game—illegal transshipment. To be clear, Commerce uses fake numbers because dumping is defined as selling at the United States below prices in the home market or below the fully allocated cost of production. Commerce, however, refuses to look at actual prices and costs in China and has refused to do so for close to 40 years.

Commerce instead calculates a cost of production for Chinese companies using consumption factors in China valued by surrogate values from import statistics in 5 to 10 different countries and those countries can change from a preliminary to a final determination and from initial investigation to review after review investigation. These surrogate values have no relationship to the actual prices and costs in China, and, therefore, are fake numbers.  No rational person when he sees dumping rates go from 0 to 57 to over 400% using different surrogate values from different countries could truly believe that the nonmarket economy methodology actually reflects the cost of production in China.  See my last post and the Court of International Trade’s recent decision in the Baoding Glycine case.

On the Democratic side of the Presidential primary, however, there was a small ray of hope. On February 5, 2016, in the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton stated that she could support the TPP if the deal is changed. Senator Bernie Sanders, however, remains adamantly opposed to the deal.

Hilary Clinton stated: that

“I waited until it had actually been negotiated because I did want to give the benefit of the doubt to the administration. Once I saw what the outcome was, I opposed it.”

But Clinton also made clear that her opposition is not set in stone. She indicated that she might support the TPP if it were to undergo certain amendments or alterations, “There are changes that I believe would make a real difference if they could be achieved, but I do not currently support it as it is written.”

Bernie Sanders, however expressed his total contempt for US trade policy, stating:

“We heard all of the people tell us how many great jobs would be created. I didn’t believe that for a second because I understood what the function of NAFTA, CAFTA, PNTR with China and the TPP is. It’s to say to American workers, ‘Hey, you are now competing against people in Vietnam who make 56 cents an hour minimum wage.’”

Meanwhile, Canada was having the same problem with the Canadian press reporting on January 25, 2016, that International Trade Minister Chrystia Freeland stated that Canada would sign on to the TPP deal at a ceremony in New Zealand on Feb. 4, but ratification is a matter for Parliament. Apparently, the Liberals in Parliament are still on the fence as to whether or not they support it.  In an open letter posted on the Department’s website, the Trade minister stated:

“Just as it is too soon to endorse the TPP, it is also too soon to close the door.  Signing does not equal ratifying…. Signing is simply a technical step in the process, allowing the TPP text to be tabled in Parliament for consideration and debate before any final decision is made.”

Canada requires a majority vote in the House of Commons to seal the deal. Freeland further stated:

“It is clear that many feel the TPP presents significant opportunities, while others have concerns. Many Canadians still have not made up their minds and many more still have questions.”

Each country, including the United States and Canada, have up to two years to ratify the TPP. Although Conservative Prime Minister Stephen Harper said he was in favor the deal, now a new government is in power in Canada.  Freeland further stated, “We are strongly in favor of free trade. Having said that, we’re not the government that negotiated the TPP.”

Meanwhile on January 14, 2015, in the attached submission, RANCHERS SUBMISSION ITC TPP, R-CALF USA, the largest trade organization exclusively representing cattle producers within the multi-segmented beef supply chain, in a submission to the ITC announced their opposition to the TPP because it will harm U.S. cattle and sheep industries.

On February 2, 2015, the American Apparel & Footwear Association announced their support of the TPP, but criticized the length of time it will take for the deal to eliminate certain tariff lines. AAFA stated:

“With the TPP covering 40 percent of the world’s GDP and reaching approximately 800 million consumers, the trade pact represents significant opportunities for the clothing, shoe, and accessories industry. For this reason, and after consultation with our members, we are expressing our strong support for the TPP.”

But the AAFA went on to express some concerns that the Agreement was not ambitious enough, stating:

“While there are some immediate opportunities for apparel, most apparel articles are constrained by extremely restrictive rules of origin and long duty phase-outs, meaning benefits will take longer to realize.”

Among the products receiving immediate tariff relief under the TPP are footwear and travel goods, such as handbags, backpacks, and laptop cases, but AAFA stated that “a more accelerated and flexible approach” for apparel and legwear would have created more immediate benefits for producers of those items.

CHINA IS NOT HAPPY WITH THE TPP RHETORIC

While ratification is a problem in the United States Congress, China is not happy with the US government arguments in favor of the TPP that it allows the U.S. to “write the rules of trade” in the Asia-Pacific region offsetting Beijing’s policies.  On February 5, 2015, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesman Lu Kang, speaking at his daily press briefing, in response to a question about the TPP’s role as a China containment device, sharply responded:

“We never believe that world trade rules can be made by any specific country alone. We always maintain that the World Trade Organization play a leading role in making global trade rules, and hope that major trading powers and economies would stay committed to upholding the role of the WTO.”

“There is no need to politicize the economic issue. Don’t make people feel that the U.S. is pursuing some political ends throughout the process of promoting the TPP. Remarks as such will mislead the public and do harm to state-to-state relations.”

Most recently, President Barack Obama himself declared in his State of the Union address that with the agreement in place, “China does not set the rules in that region; we do.”

The ironic point is that the Doha Round WTO negotiations collapsed in large part because of the intransigence of the developing countries, led by India, and yes China. Killing the WTO round when there is a TPP alternative was not a good strategy for the developing countries, and yet that is just what they did.  Many scholars have argued that the biggest winners in trade deals are developing countries, and yet India in particular is the country with China’s help that stopped the Doha Round in its tracks.

TPP TEXT AND TRADE ADVISORY REPORTS

As stated in prior blog posts, 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 www.uschinatradewar.com.

The attached text of the Agreement is over 6,000 pages,  Chapters 1 – 2 – Bates 1 – 4115 Annex 1 – 4 – Bates A-1-1074 Chapters 3 – 30 – Bates 4116 – 5135 Press Release – Joint Declaration Fact Sheet.

On November 5th, the Treasury Department released the 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. All the reports can be found at https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/trans-pacific-partnership/advisory-group-reports-TPP and many of the reports can be found here. ITAC-3-Chemicals-Pharmaceuticals-Health-Science-Products-and-Services ITAC-2-Automobile-Equipment-and-Capital-Goods ITAC-5-Distribution-Services ITAC-8-Information-and-Communication-Technologies-Services-and-Electronic-Commerce ITAC-6-Energy-and-Energy-Services ITAC-9-Building-Materials-Construction-and-Non-Ferrous-Metals ITAC-10-Services-and-Finance-Industries ITAC-12-Steel ITAC-11-Small-and-Minority-Business 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 JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE. 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.

NEW TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL

On February 11, 2016, the new trade and customs enforcement bill passed the Senate and is on its way to the President for signature. In an announcement, House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady (R-TX) praised the Senate for passing the Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015, stating:

“We are now sending to the President a bipartisan bill to establish a 21st century customs and border protection system that facilitates trade and strengthens enforcement. This pro-growth bill will make it easier for our workers to compete in global marketplaces and level the playing field.

“By using a Conference Committee to reconcile our differences, this bill also marks a return to regular order. I congratulate the Senate, especially my partners Chairman Hatch and Ranking Member Wyden, and I urge President Obama to sign this bill into law as soon as
possible.”

On December 9, 2015, in an announcement, 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.  A copy of the bill, the conference report and summary of the bill are attached, Trade-and-Environment-Policy-Advisory-Committee.pdf Summary of TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2015 CONFERENCE REPORT TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 20152 JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE.

CHINA’S NME STATUS—ANOTHER HOT TOPIC FOR 2016

As mentioned in the prior blog postlast newsletter, interest groups on both sides of the issue have increased their political attacks in the debate over China’s market economy status in US antidumping and countervailing duty cases. On December 11, 2016, pursuant to the China – World Trade Organization (“WTO”) Accession Agreement, the 15 year provision, expires.

More specifically, with regards to the application of the US antidumping non-market methodology to the Chinese imports, the United States faces a looming deadline under the WTO Agreement. Section 15 of the China WTO Accession Agreement, which originated from the US China WTO Accession Agreement, provides:

  1. Price Comparability in Determining Subsidies and Dumping . . .

(a) In determining price comparability under Article VI of the GATT 1994 and the Anti-Dumping Agreement, the importing WTO Member shall use either Chinese prices or costs for the industry under investigation or a methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices or costs in China based on the following rules: . . .

(ii) The importing WTO Member may use a methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices or costs in China if the producers under investigation cannot clearly show that market economy conditions prevail in the industry producing the like product with regard to manufacture, production and sale of that product. . . .

(d) Once China has established, under the national law of the importing WTO Member, that it is a market economy, the provisions of subparagraph (a) shall be terminated provided that the importing Member’s national law contains market economy criteria as of the date of accession. In any event, the provisions of subparagraph (a)(ii) shall expire 15 years after the date of accession. In addition, should China establish, pursuant to the national law of the importing WTO Member, that market economy conditions prevail in a particular industry or sector, the non-market economy provisions of subparagraph (a) shall no longer apply to that industry or sector.

In other words, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, Commerce’s right to us a nonmarket economy methodology “shall expire 15 years after the date of accession”. China acceded to the WTO on December 11, 2001 so Section 15(d) should kick in on December 11, 2016.

The question that is now being debated is whether Section 15(d) automatically ends the possibility of using a non-market economy methodology to China or if it can still be applied if petitioners can show that market conditions do not prevail for producers of the product under investigation.

If the Commerce Department is the decision maker, nothing would happen on December 11, 2016, but as USTR Froman states below, the US government has not yet made a determination.

As also mentioned in previous blog posts, the Europeans appear to be leaning to giving China market economy status in December 2016, but the US government is opposed.

On January 21, 2016, the US China Business Council (“USCBC”), which represents many companies doing business in China, such as Boeing, called on the United States to grant China market economy status under the antidumping law as required by the WTO. In its 2016 Board of Directors’ Statement of Priorities in the U.S.-China Commercial Relationship, the USCBC stated that the U.S. should take this step as a way of building “confidence in the bilateral relationship” with China, and solidify the foundation for “mutually beneficial commercial relations.” The USCBC is the first major U.S. business group to weigh in on the issue.

In a conference call with reporters on Jan. 19, USCBC President John Frisbie stated that while the issue is “not on the radar” for a lot of companies because it deals with the minutiae of trade remedy law, there is the potential for a “big problem” in U.S.-China relations if Washington does not grant market economy status to Beijing.  He argued that the U.S. is obligated to automatically grant market economy to China under the terms of the WTO accession protocol and that “attempts to find legal wiggle room in this are pretty thinly supported at best.”

Although the Commerce Department’s position of opposing market economy for China is clear, the USTR has stated that it still has not made a decision on the matter. In Jan. 13 comments at the Wilson Center, USTR Michael Froman said the U.S. government has “not made any decision” with regard to whether the United States should grant market economy status to China.  Froman also denied reports that the U.S. has pushed the European Commission not to grant China market economy status. “We are not encouraging the EU to take any particular position.”

On January 29th, however, it was reported that the European Parliament’s International Trade Committee, known as INTA, stated that economic leaders in Brussels should not recognize China as a market economy under the World Trade Organization’s rules, as Beijing has not taken the necessary steps to curtail the government’s influence on commercial activities.  INTA stated:

“It should be clear that EU should speak with a single voice stating that China is not fulfilling, for the time being, the EU five technical criteria for defining a market economy, and the importance to define a common strategy to reinvigorate and apply our anti-dumping procedures on various products suffering from the strong trade distortion caused by Chinese exporting companies.”

On January 29, 2016, European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom stated that the Commission plans to conduct an impact assessment on granting China market economy status (MES) in antidumping cases that will weigh not only the legal and economic implications, but any potential geopolitical fallout as well.

In a Jan. 28 speech in Brussels to the European Chamber Of Commerce In China (ECCC), and in a Jan. 27 letter to members of the European Parliament, Malmstrom left no doubt that a major part of this analysis will involve an assessment of how failing to grant MES to China might impact relations with Beijing stating, “The Commission is now examining the implications of this [expiration], including the economic impact of any change to our anti-dumping rules,”  Malmstrom further stated in her ECCC prepared remarks. “But let me be clear that the overall economic importance of our close relationship with China is also an important part of our analysis.”

In response to a December letter from two members of the center-right European People’s Party, Malmstrom stated:

“I take good note of the concerns you express in your letter and I appreciate the points you raise, given in particular that this is a very complex issue and one which demands that we take full account of all the legal, economic and political ramifications. The Commission is carefully analyzing the legal implications of the expiry of certain provisions of China’s WTO accession protocol and carrying out an impact assessment.”

Several sources said Malmstrom is personally in favor of granting China MES, and one insisted this view is shared by the commission’s director-general for trade, Jean-Luc Demarty.

On February 5, 2016, it was reported that the European Commission is considering at least four changes to the way it enforces its trade remedy law that it believes would blunt the impact of extending market economy status to China in antidumping cases and thereby make that change more politically palatable to affected domestic industries.

The first of these measures is the so-called “cost adjustment” methodology, which the EU has previously used in AD cases to offset what it considers to be the artificially low price of Russian gas. But the cost adjustment methodology has been challenged at the WTO by Russia and Argentina, and its legal soundness is therefore in question.

Second, sources say the commission has suggested it could eliminate the EU’s “lesser duty rule,” which generally imposes AD duties only in the amount necessary to offset the injury to the domestic industry.

A third mitigating measure the Commission has floated is “strengthening” the antisubsidy enforcement, most likely by devoting greater resources to investigating the web of subsidy programs provided at different levels of government in China.

Fourth, it has proposed “grandfathering” in the dozens of existing AD orders against Chinese imports that are already on the books in the EU.

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom this week said that it would be “politically unrealistic” to simply grant MES to China in the context of AD cases without taking some form of mitigating steps. She spoke on Feb. 1 at the European Parliament’s plenary session in Strasbourg, France.

Both Lange and Malmstrom said they would be discussing the issue with Beijing, and the commissioner underscored that not granting China MES at all “might have an impact on our trade and investment relations” with China, which could have a cost for EU business. “These effects are very difficult, if not impossible, to estimate in advance,” she warned.

But it was also reported on February 5th, that a European Commission analysis projects that granting market economy status (MES) to China in antidumping (AD) cases without mitigating measures could directly cost as much as 188,300 jobs in affected European Union industries.

On February 10, 2016, the European Commission issued a notice requesting public comment by April 20 on whether the Commission should make China a market economy pursuant to the WTO Agreement. In the Notice the European Commission stated:

“This public consultation is part of an in-depth impact assessment that will include a careful study of the economic effects of any potential change broken down by member states, with a particular focus on jobs”

While the Commerce Department may make its decision within the context of a specific case, an EU policy shift would require a change to the law. The European Commission was very clear about the impact of the legal change in the notice:

“Should an amendment of the anti-dumping legislation be deemed necessary, this may result in lower anti-dumping duties which may not offset the negative effects of dumping and may further increase dumped imports causing further injury to the EU industries concerned.  This in turn may result in putting a number of jobs in the EU at risk.”

CRISIS IN US TRADE POLICY WITH ALUMINUM FACTORIES CLOSING, NEW RAW ALUMINUM TRADE CASES COMING, AND THE FAILURE OF TAA FOR COMPANIES TO HELP LARGER COMPANIES

As indicated in my last blog post, in light of the impact of the aluminum extrusions case on the US market, the import problem has now moved upstream. The next round of antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China looks like it will be on raw aluminum products.   But the aluminum story will probably parallel the steel story over the last 40 years.

The US Aluminum Industry will probably bring many antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China aimed at Chinese aluminum imports based on nonmarket economy methodology with fake numbers resulting in high antidumping rates shutting out the Chinese product.  But the Chinese imports will be simply replaced by imports from other countries, such as Korea, where the Commerce Department will use normal market economy antidumping methodology resulting in low, if not 0%, antidumping rates against those countries.  So in the long run antidumping and countervailing duty cases cannot save the US manufacturing companies, only slow the decline.

On February 6, 2016, in an e-mail to his constituents, however, Congressman Dave Reichert, Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means, illustrated the real human costs of the trade war. In the attached e-mail he mentioned the impact of aluminum imports on aluminum manufacturing companies in Washington State and the loss of jobs in his district, stating:

Support for Local Workers

In November of last year, the aluminum manufacturing company, Alcoa, announced its plans to idle its smelting operations in Ferndale and Malaga, Washington, resulting in the loss of 880 local jobs. Many of these employees had worked at the plant for years and depended on that employment to provide for their families.

I am pleased to say that the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) approved assistance for these workers in the form of Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) after several members of the Washington Delegation and I requested support for them.

Now these workers will have the opportunity to receive job training, assistance in finding new employment, and aid as they reenter the workforce.

Retraining under the TAA for Workers program may be a nice idea for the aluminum workers from these factories, but retraining means nothing if the jobs do not exist. That is why the labor unions are so adamantly opposed to Trade Agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership, and at least on the face opposed to TAA for Workers because the retraining does not result in employment at comparable wages. Thus when it comes to the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), the labor unions have been very clear that they want to “kill the rotten” and that is why so many Democratic Congressmen and Senators oppose the TPP and other Trade Agreements.

But there is now a much bigger problem created by this trade crisis, which could result in the United States moving into a much more protectionist era with high tariffs on imports from many different countries, including China and Mexico. The loss of jobs by manufacturing industries and for the lower middle class, in truth, is a major reason for the rise of Donald Trump and Senator Bernie Saunders in the Presidential primary.  The outsiders are the ones surging in the Presidential primary in New Hampshire because many of their supporters are blue collar workers in the lower middle class, who strongly believe that the US Government has forgotten about them and simply does not care about them.  If Donald Trump or Bernie Saunders becomes President, based on their statements in the primaries, they would reject the Trans Pacific Partnership and could literally tear up past trade agreements, such as NAFTA.  US Trade Policy is facing a crisis and the possible move into a much more protectionist era created by a major failure in Trade Policy.

On February 11, Dan Henniger for the Wall Street Journal in an article entitled “Donald Trump Among the Canaries” compared Trump to the canary in the Coal Mine that warns miners if there are toxic gases in the mine stating:

Just as dying canaries warned coal workers that the shaft was filling with toxic gases, New Hampshire’s voters have told the political status quo, to coin a phrase, you are killing us.

As Henniger goes on to state, however, the core of Trump’s argument is his attack on Trade:

At the core of the Trump campaign is one policy idea: imposing a 45% tariff on goods imported from China. In his shouted, red-faced victory speech Tuesday, he extended the trade offensive to Japan and Mexico.

Some detail: Combining the value of goods we sell to them and they to us, China, Mexico and Japan are the U.S’s Nos. 1, 3 and 4 trading partners (Canada is No. 2). They are 35% of the U.S.’s trade activity with the world. The total annual value of what U.S. producers—and of course the workers they employ—sell to those three countries is $415 billion. . . .

Mr. Trump says the threat alone of a tariff will cause China to cave. Someone should ask: What happens if they don’t cave? Incidentally, unlike Mexico, China has between 200 and 300 nuclear warheads and 2.4 million active-duty forces. Irrelevant?

In contrast to Japan and Taiwan, which are dependent upon the United States for their national security, what these nuclear warheads mean is that if the United States throws a trade rock at China, China will throw a trade rock back. That is just what is happening in the US China Trade War today.

That failure in US Trade Policy, however, is the US failure of Congress to support the only trade program that works and saves import injured manufacturing companies—the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Firms/Companies program. As stated in prior blog posts, because of ideological purity among many Republican conservatives in Congress and the Senate, the TAA for Companies program has been cut to $12.5 million nationwide.  This cut is despite the fact that since 1984 here in the Northwest, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”) has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program.

To understand the transformative power of TAA for Companies, 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 cut back to $12. 5 million nationwide makes it impossible for the TAA for Companies program to work with larger US companies, which have been injured by imports. The TAA for Companies program simply does not have the resources to do the job, and hard right conservatives see any Government support as anathema to their ideology of no interference in the marketplace.  Their position is no government help despite the fact that government actions, the trade agreements, have caused the problem.

Thus a large Alcoa Aluminum factory is not a company that can take advantage of the program. Alcoa would not submit themselves to a petition process for a mere $75,000.   TAA for Companies simply cannot do much when a factory closes.  Working with a factory the size of Alcoa’s, however, would be working with an entity that vastly exceeds anything in the $12.5 million TAA for Companies program.

TAA for Companies is hamstrung by neglect with a maximum technical assistance per firm level that has not changed in at least 30 years. This forces the TAA Centers in the United States to focus on small and medium size enterprises (under $50M in sales) while the big job creators are the larger Medium Size Enterprise, which account for most of the sector’s well-known job creation performance.

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 in the program 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.

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?

Moreover, when the company is saved, it and its workers pay Federal and State taxes so the program essentially pays for itself. 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.

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.

TRADE

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS – THE COURT OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE STRIKES BACK

On November 20, 2015, the Commerce Department issued its final determination in the 2013-2014 antidumping review investigation of aluminum extrusions from China.  Based on surrogate values, Commerce issued antidumping rates of 86.01%, but for companies that did not cooperate, Commerce issued antidumping rates of only 33.28%.

In addition, in the Countervailing Final Determination for 2013, Commerce issued a countervailing duty rate ranging from 3.59% to 222.82% with most companies receiving a rate of 61.36% rate.  See CVD Aluminum Extrusions 2013 Final Review Notice.3424528-01 CVD Aluminum Extrusions 2013 Decision Memo.3424530-01 CVD FINAL DECISION MEMO

As mentioned in prior blog posts, the Commerce Department has been expanding the scope of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders to include multiple products, such as curtain walls, the sides of buildings, auto parts, refrigerator handles, geodesic domes and multiple other products. In two recent decisions, the Court of International Trade has struck back.

But on February 10th in the Court of International Trade case, Shenyang Yuanda Aluminum Industry Engineering Co. Ltd., Jango Curtain Wall Americas Co. and Permasteelisa North America Corp. v. United States case, SHENYANG CURTAIN WALL CASEJudge Pogue reversed and remanded the Commerce Department/s determination that curtain wall units are covered the aluminum extrusions from China antidumping order.  In that decision, Senior Judge Pogue stated:

Because Commerce’s scope ruling redefines key terms contrary to the plain language of the AD&CVD Orders, it is not in accordance with law; because it does not reasonably consider the characteristics of Plaintiffs’ merchandise and the evidence that weighs against the agency’s determination, it is unsupported by substantial evidence; because it offers insufficient reasons for treating similar products differently, it is arbitrary and capricious. Accordingly, the court remands to Commerce for further consideration in accordance with this opinion.

Judge Pogue then describes the Curtain Wall Units in question:

Because “complete curtain wall units form part of a larger curtain wall system specifically designed for a building,” unassembled curtain wall units “are sold and delivered to the job site in segments pursuant to the schedule stipulated in the contract to supply the larger system. If that system is “for a multi-story skyscraper,” then it may require shipments of curtain wall units and installation hardware “over a period of months,” with “[e]ach entry dovetail[ing] with the contractor’s construction schedule so that complete curtain wall units can be immediately installed onto the building when the container arrives at the job site.”

Judge Pogue pointed to subassemblies stating:

While Commerce “enjoys substantial freedom to interpret and clarify its antidumping duty orders, it can neither change them, nor interpret them in a way contrary to their terms.” Here, Commerce has changed and expanded the terms of the AD&CVD Orders by redefining “subassembly” and ignoring the scope language that limits products covered.

Accordingly, Commerce’s Redetermination is not in accordance with law. . . .

In contrast, Commerce does not consider the ample evidence on the administrative record defining and explaining the product at issue here. Commerce does not consider whether a single-entry, unitized curtain wall is a real product, outside the realm of its own ungainly semantic gymnastics, that is imported with any regularity into the United States.

On February 1, 2016, in Whirlpool Corp. v. United States, WHIRLPOOL ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS SCOPE, the CIT ruled that certain refrigerator door handles should not be included in the Aluminum Extrusions case, while also ruling that other handles should have been included in the case.

THE ONGOING STEEL CASES

On February 9, 2016, the US Steel Companies urged the Obama Administration to use all channels to obtain details from China regarding its promise to cut steel production capacity.  Thomas Gibson, the president and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), stated in a press conference made clear that there has been no official information on China’s promised capacity cuts, just Chinese press reports stating that the State Council has announced it will begin this year to cut 100-150 million tons of overcapacity over five years.

Many pundits, however, are questioning the Chinese government’s economic data making it hard to discern what’s really happening in the economy. China has a glut of old-line factories that make products like steel, glass and cement. That industrial overcapacity stems from years of debt financed investment in industries that now show little sign that they can repay those loans.

According to Chinese statistics, China produced 804 million tons of steel last year, even as demand faltered. Over all, China’s steel-making capacity was set to reach 1.17 billion tons last year.

The Chinese government’s State Council, or cabinet recently announced that it would close 100 million to 150 million tons of steel-making capacity. That would mean cutting capacity by an amount similar to the total annual steel output of Japan, the world’s No. 2 steel maker.

But it is a balancing act for the Chinese authorities. Li Xinchuang, the head of the China Metallurgical Industry Planning and Research Institute, recently told the official Xinhua news agency that the planned steel mill closings could cost 400,000 jobs. “Large-scale redundancies in the steel sector could threaten social stability,” he warned.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

NEW UPDATE JUNE 25, 2015 US CHINA TRADE WAR — TAA PASSES HOUSE– HEAVY LIFT OF TPP NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUES

US Capitol Dome Houses of Congress Washington DC“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

NEW UPDATE US CHINA TRADE WAR JUNE 25, 2015 —TAA AND TPA PASS CONGRESS AND GO TO PRESIDENT — NOW HEAVY LIFTING OF TPP NEGOTIATIONS BEGINS

Dear Friends,

On June 25, 2015, the House of Representatives passed the African Growth and Opportunity Act (“AGO”) by a vote of 286 to 138, which includes Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”), and the bill, has been sent to President Obama. On June 24, 2015 the US Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill by a vote of 60 to 38 and President Obama has signed the bill into law. As the Senate and House leadership promised, both TPA and TAA are on President’s Obama’s desk at the same time.

Now the heavy lift begins. Now is the time for any US company that is having export problems with exports to the 12 Trans Pacific Partnership countries, specifically Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore or Vietnam, to bring these problems to the attention of US negotiators and also their Congressional representatives so the issue can be included in the ongoing negotiations.

On June 23, 2015, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan predicted that with the TPA vote TPP could be finalized in a month. That simply not going to happen. With all the negotiating objectives in the TPA bill, including currency manipulation, I firmly believe that TPP negotiations will go on until at least the end of the year and probably into 2016, an election year.

As Senators Hatch and Wyden stated on June 24th on the Senate Floor and Representatives Ryan, Levin and Sessions stated on the House floor on June 25th and below, this is just the beginning of the process. This TPP negotiating process has a very long way to go.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TPA AND TAA NOW LAW—THE HEAVY LIFTING NOW BEGINS AS NEGOTIATIONS CONTINUE ON TPP

As stated in the Wall Street Journal and on the Senate and House Floor, the heavy lifting now begins on Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”). In light of numerous Congressional negotiating objectives, the TPP negotiations are going to take time and will not be an easy lift. Congress will be involved in the negotiations every step of the way so this will not be simple.

Anyone who thinks TPP negotiations will be finished in a month is simply wishful thinking. This is just the start of the process.

As the Wall Street Journal stated today on its June 15th front page:

The White House and Republican leaders notched a significant victory Wednesday with the Senate’s passage of divisive trade legislation, but the win kicks off a grueling, months long process to complete a Pacific trade pact that still faces domestic opposition and must win final congressional approval.

As Democratic Congressman Sander Levin, ranking member of House Ways and Means, stated on the House Floor today, the battle now switches to the actual negotiations and words in the TPP itself:

The debate these last weeks and months has been about how do we get a strong and effective trade policy and trade agreement. That debate only intensifies now. Supporters of trade promotion authority, T.P.A., sought vague negotiating objectives and passive role for Congress in the process was the way to go, in part because many on the majority side feel that more trade is essentially better no matter its terms or conditions. The opponents of T.P.A. wanted to ensure that T.P.P. negotiations were on the right track with no blank check to USTR and there are so many outstanding areas, where we are not satisfied with the status of negotiations, where we are uncertain of their outcome, now we can focus like a laser beam on those issues.

The argument about the process of T.P.A. is now behind us. And the challenge of the substance of T.P.P. smack in front of us. Automatic embrace of centuries’ old doctrines does not meet the challenges of intensifying globalization. So we will continue to shine a bright light on the critical issues like market access, state-owned enterprises, intellectual property and access to medicines, worker rights, environment, currency manipulation and investment provisions that could put at risk domestic regulations.

Our calls for improvements to the negotiations will only grow louder. In order for T.P.P. to gain the support of the American people, it will need to gain the votes of a much broader coalition of members of Congress than voted for T.P.A. the issue is not pro-trade versus anti-trade, but whether we shape trade agreements to spread the benefits broadly, including the middle class of Americans. . . .

Finally this bill includes a re-authorization of trade adjustment assistance. I’m an ardent supporter and introduced a bill earlier this year with Adam Smith to re-authorize it. I support 1295. To be sure this T.A.A. is not perfect, it falls short of the high water mark we established for the program in 2009. At a time when trade is expanding and is expected to expand even further with new trade agreements, we should be ensuring adequate funding for workers who lose their jobs as a result of trade . . . . T.P.A., T.P.P., T.A.A., it might seem like a word scramble, but going forward, T.P.P. to the American people will be about jobs and wages. They expect us to work hard to get it right as it is being negotiated, not simply leaving their elected officials with a yes or no vote after T.P.P. is done. We have a lot of work to do. And there is no ducking these issues.

As Republican Congressman Pete Sessions stated on the House Floor today, Congressional Representatives will have their chance and these negotiations are going to take time:

But I would respond and say to the gentleman, you’re going to have an opportunity and I can’t wait to get you invited to every single round of these and have you find time to go do exactly what you think members of Congress ought to be doing. Because in fact that’s the way the T.P.A. is written. . . . But this whole process — as soon as that takes place, the gentleman will have all the opportunity he wants to go and take part of every round of the discussions. But, you know, I don’t believe that’s what we were elected for. I don’t believe we were elected to go and have to do all the work that is described, that the gentleman said, to get back into the fight, to go do the negotiating. But he’ll be given that chance. He’ll be given that chance every single day. As soon as it’s signed by the President, he can go at it. He can maybe even just tell the President he wants to do this for a full time job. I don’t know. But he will have that opportunity and every member of this body will have that same chance. He and every member will have a chance to go and negotiate, be in the room, be a part of the discussion and make sure these — all these big multilateral corporations that he talks about that will be in the room, which they won’t be, because that would not be the right thing, there would be ethics violations, I’m sure the White House, the executive branch can notify him on that, but he will be allowed as a member of Congress.

So, Mr. Speaker, the things which are being talked about most as negative points about this bill, there’s already an answer to it. That’s what Republicans did. This is a Republican bill. This is about the authority of the House of Representatives, the United States Congress, to make sure we are involved. That has never been allowed before. Fast track is what we used to have. That’s what we did have. We now have a bill before us today which will help us complete the entire process, to make sure members of Congress are involved, not just the United States negotiators, but all the world will know . . . the parts about how we’re going to negotiate the trade deal and if it doesn’t come back that way, we’ll vote it down. Do we need to second guess them now today? I don’t think so. But if any member wants to be involved in this, they can just get on their plane and go wherever they want and get it done. And by law they’ll be allowed that opportunity.

All those pundits that say the TPP negotiations will be concluded in a month simply have not listened to the arguments on the House and Senate Floor. To see those arguments, watch CSPAN at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326700-1/us-house-legislative-business. To get a TPP, which will pass Congress, will require much more negotiation and a much longer time. The TPP negotiations will not conclude until the end of the year at the earliest and possibly 2016, an election year.

HOUSE VOTES TO PASS AGOA AND TAA ON JUNE 25, 2015 AND BILL GOES TO THE PRESIDENT

On June 25, 2015 the African Growth and Opportunity Act (“AGOA”) with Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) passed the House by a 286 to 138 vote and has gone to the President Obama for signature. As promised by House Speaker John Boehner and House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, TAA was brought to the floor of the House and passed. As Republican Congressman Dave Reichert, a co-sponsor of the TAA bill, stated on the House Floor:

Also included in this legislation is a renewal of trade adjustment assistance and I’m proud as Mr. Ryan said, to sponsor the House legislation to renew it because there is a need for this program. I believe increased trade is good for all Americans and it creates jobs. It makes America stronger. But I also understand that among and along the way, as we create jobs and trade and our jobs change over the next few years, along the way, some workers may need extra assistance and additional training. That’s why T.A.A. is so important. We’ve made great strides this past week by sending T.P.A. to the President’s desk . . . So now, Mr. Speaker, we must move forward, pass T.A.A. and AGOA today.

As Democratic Congressman Earl Blumenauer on the House Floor stated today, the Republican leaders kept their promise on TPA and TAA:

It’s at times trust is in short supply in this institution for a whole host of reasons but we were given ironclad assurances from the Speaker, from the President, from the Chairman, from Senator Wyden, Senator Hatch, Leader McConnell that T.A.A. would come back to this floor to be voted on. And I think it’s important that that has in fact occurred. Because to adapt, respond and grow a 21st century work force we need trade adjustment assistance. And what we have before us is an improvement over current law. It’s not as good as what we had in 2009, and I hope that we will be able to build on this and move forward, but this program has helped more than 100,000 Americans, including 3,000 of my fellow Oregonians who received job training and financial support. And there will continue to be winners and losers in the global economy. Whether we have trade agreements with countries or not like with pressures from China, it’s important that we provide this for our workers. With our vote today we do so.

US CHINA TRADE WAR JUNE 24, 2015 UPDATE — SENATE PASSES TPA AND IT GOES TO PRESIDENT FOR HIS SIGNATURE; TAA PASSES SENATE AND GOES TO THE HOUSE

Dear Friends,

As predicted, today the US Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill by a vote of 60 to 38 and it has gone to President Obama’s desk for signature.  Now is the time for any US company that is having export problems with exports to the 12 Trans Pacific Partnership countries, specifically Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore or Vietnam, to bring these problems to the attention of US negotiators and also their Congressional representatives so the issue can be included in the ongoing negotiations.

Yesterday, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan predicted that with the TPA vote TPP could be finalized in a month.  I suspect not.  With all the negotiating objectives in the TPA bill, including currency manipulation, I firmly believe that TPP negotiations will go on until at least the end of the year and probably into 2016, an election year.

As Senators Hatch and Wyden stated today on the Floor and below, this is just the beginning of the process.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

SENATE PASSES TPA AND THE BILL GOES TO PRESIDENT OBAMA’S DESK FOR SIGNATURE

After jumping over a major procedural hurdle on June 23rd, on June 24th the Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill by a vote of 60 to 38 and the House has sent the bill to President Obama for his signature.  Set forth below are some of the major statements by the proponents and one opponent of the bill.  To see the entire debate, watch CSPAN.org at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326775-1/us-senate-advances-taa-passes-tpa&live.

Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) also passed the Senate by an overwhelming vote of 77 to 23 votes.  The House is expected to vote on TAA tomorrow and that means it will go to the President by Friday at the latest.

All the Senators emphasized during the debate the importance of the Customs and Trade Enforcement bill going through Congress.  This bill will crack down on US importers that attempt to evade antidumping and countervailing duty laws by importing transshipped merchandise.  This Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill is directed straight at the problem of transshipment by certain Chinese companies around US antidumping and countervailing duty orders.  That bill will now go to conference in the House of Representatives to reconcile differences in the House and Senate bills.

Before the vote, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell stated:

Yesterday’s T.P.A. vote [was a] the long overdue victory for the American worker and the American middle class.  It wasn’t easy. Many thought it would never happen. We even saw corks pop in the facts optional lobby a few weeks ago, but that proved to be premature because here’s what we’ve always known about the legislation we’ll vote to send to the President today. It’s underpinned by a simple but powerful idea, for American workers to have a fair shot in the 21st century economy, it just makes sense to remove the unfair barriers that discriminate against them and the products that they make. Some may disagree. They certainly weren’t quiet in voicing their opinions. It’s okay if they don’t share our passion for ending this unfair discrimination against American workers. It’s okay if they would rather rail against tomorrow.

But a bipartisan coalition in the House and the Senate thought it was time for forward progress instead. We were really pleased to see President Obama pursue an idea we’ve long believed in. We thank him for his efforts to help us advance this measure. We thank all of our friends across the aisle for their efforts too. Senator Wyden, most of all. Over in the house, I commend Speaker Boehner and Chairman Ryan for everything they’ve done. It hasn’t been easy, and without them it wouldn’t have been possible. And of course let me thank Chairman Orrin Hatch for demonstrating such patience, persistence and determination throughout this process. He never lost sight of the goal, never gave up. The people of Utah are lucky to have him. The Senate’s work on trade doesn’t end today. I said the Senate would finish pursuing the rest of the full trade package, and it will. We’ll take another cloture vote today to that end. That process continues. But the key victory for American workers and products stamped “Made in the U.S.A.” comes today. The bill we’re about to pass will assert Congress’s authority throughout the trade negotiation process. It will ensure we have the tools we need to properly scrutinize whatever trade agreements are ultimately negotiated and it will make clear that the final say rests with us. We had plenty of bumps along the road. Frankly, a few big potholes too. But we worked across the aisle to get through all of them. That’s an example of how a new Congress is back to work for the American people. I thank everyone who helped us get where we are. Now let’s vote again to support the American worker and American middle class by approving the bipartisan T.P.A. bill.

Before the vote, ranking Democratic Senator Ron Wyden of the Senate Finance Committee emphasized that the TPA bill would go through along with a Customs and Trade Enforcement bill, which includes major changes to the US Customs and Trade laws, including a sharp crack down on transshipment around US antidumping and countervailing duty laws.  As I have stated many times on this blog, the transshipment issue is a burning issue in Washington DC and now it has resulted in legislation, which will be going to Conference Committee with the House of Representatives.  Senator Wyden stated today on the Floor:

Mr. President, today the Senate is taking major steps towards a new, more progressive trade policy that will shut the door on the 1990’s North American Free Trade Agreement once and for all. One of the major ways this overall package accomplishes this goal is by kicking in place a tough new regime of enforcing our trade laws.  . .  . And it has long been my view, Mr. President, that vigorous enforcement of our trade laws must be at the forefront of any modern approach to trade at this unique time in history. One of the first questions many citizens ask is, I hear there’s talk in Washington, D.C. about passing a new trade law. How about first enforcing the laws that are on the books? And this has been an area that I long have sought to change, and we’re beginning to do this with this legislation, and I want to describe it. And for me, Mr. President, this goes back to the days when I chaired the Senate Finance Subcommittee on International Trade and Competitiveness, and we saw such widespread cheating, such widespread flouting of our trade laws, my staff and I set up a sting operation. We set up a sting operation to catch the cheats. In effect, almost inviting these people to try to use a web site to evade the laws. And they came out of nowhere because they said cheating has gotten pretty easy, let’s sign up. And we caught a lot of people. So we said from that point on that we were going to make sure that any new trade legislation took right at the center an approach that would protect hardworking Americans from the misdeeds of trade cheats.

And in fact, the core of the bipartisan legislation that heads into conference is a jobs bill, a jobs bill that will protect American workers and our exporters from those kind of rip-offs by those who would flout the trade laws. And the fact is, Mr. President, when you finally get tough enforcement of our trade laws, it is a jobs bill. A true jobs bill, because you are doing a better job of enforcing the laws that protect the jobs, the good-paying jobs of American workers. And I guess some people think that you’re going to get that tougher enforcement by osmosis. We’re going to get it because we’re going to pass a law starting today with the Conference Agreement that’s going to have real teeth in it. Real teeth in it to enforce our trade laws. Foreign companies and nations employ a whole host of complicated schemes and shadowy tactics to break the trade rules. And they bully American businesses and undercut our workers.

So what we said in the Finance Committee on a bipartisan basis, that the name of the game would be to stay out in front of these unfair trade practices that cost our workers good-paying jobs. My colleagues and I believe that the Senate has offered now the right plan to fight back against the trade cheats and protect American jobs and protect our companies from abuse. It really starts with what’s called the Enforce Act, which is a proposal I first offered years ago that will give our customs agency more tools to crack down on the cheaters. Then we have a bipartisan, bicameral agreement on the need for an unfair trade alert. That’s another major upgrade that responds to what we heard companies and labor folks say again and again, Mr. President. What they would say is the trade enforcement laws get there too late. They get there too late. The plant’s closed, the jobs are gone, the hopes and dreams of working families are shattered. So what we said is we’re going to start using some of the data and the information that we have to have a real trade alert so that we can spot what’s coming up, get that information in our communities, in our working families and our companies to protect our workers. This unfair trade alert is another major upgrade in how we tackle, Mr. President, enforcing our trade laws. My view is that any bill that comes out of that enforcement conference, the customs conference, needs to reflect important American priorities. And that should certainly include smart protection of our environmental treasures. When our trade agreements establish rules on environmental protection, they’ve got to be enforced with the same vigor as the rules that knock down barriers for businesses overseas.  . . .

And it’s been too hard, too hard in the past for our businesses, particularly our small businesses, to get the enforcement that matters, the enforcement with teeth, the enforcement that serves as a real deterrent to cheating. So this legislation is our chance to demonstrate that strengthening trade enforcement, enforcement of the trade laws, will now be an integral part of a new modern approach to trade, an approach that says, we’re not part of the 1990’s on trade where nobody had web sites and iPhones and the like; we’ve got a modern trade policy with the centerpiece enforcing our trade laws. Our policies are going to give America’s trade enforcers the tools they need to fight on behalf of American jobs and American workers and stop the trade cheats who seek to undercut them. I strongly urge my colleagues to vote “yes” later today on the motion to send the enforcement bill to conference and work on a bipartisan basis, as we did in the Finance Committee, to put strong trade enforcement legislation on the President’s desk.  . . .

My friend and colleague on the Finance Committee, Senator Brown, offered a proposal that goes a long way, in my view, to strengthening our enforcement of key trade laws. It’s called leveling the playing field. . . .if you look at the Committee’s debate, level the playing field was a top priority for those in the unions, the steel unions and others, and it was a also a top priority for their companies. And so having this policy in the trade adjustment assistance is exactly the kind of bipartisan work that the American people want done. Business, labor, Democrats, Republicans — a strong record of evidence as to why it’s needed. This legislation is going to be the difference between steelworkers and paper workers being on the job or being laid off, because it ensures that the remedies of trade law — what’s called Counter-Veiling Duty Law, Anti-Dumping Law — is going to be available to workers and their companies earlier and in a more comprehensive way. It’s going to protect jobs, and it is a priority of both political parties.

I made mention how important this was to me. . . . Hugely important to my state. I said my first hearing was going to be on trade enforcement, and my good friends from the steel industry spoke about how American workers wants to see the Senate and the Finance Committee stand up for them and finally fix the shortcomings in our trade remedy laws. That’s what we have done now. Getting behind Sherrod Brown’s proposal to strengthen our trade laws, to stop unfair trade so that foreign companies do not undercut American workers and manufacturers ought to be an American priority, a red, white, and blue priority, a priority for every member of this body.  . . . The three programs — the trade adjustment assistance program, the health coverage tax credit, Senator Brown’s leveling the playing field act — are now moving through the Senate alongside legislation that creates new economic opportunities for impoverished countries in Africa and other places around the world.  . . . I urge all of my colleagues to vote yes to support these important programs when we vote later today.

Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio speaking against TPA pounded on the enforcement bill:

Its authority to amend trade agreements, should not pave the way for a trade deal that looks like it’s going to be more of the same. Corporate handouts, worker sellouts. We’ve seen it with NAFTA. We saw a similar kind of move on PNTR with China where the trade deficit, our bilateral trade deficit has almost literally exploded since 2000, when this body and the other body moved forward on PNTR. . . . . We also have a responsibility to look out for the American worker who we know will be hurt by this deal. . . . Last, Mr. President, we have an opportunity in this bill today to once again support the level the playing field act to make sure it gets to the President’s desk. This will be the vote after this — after the T.P.A. vote. This vote is essential to protecting our manufacturers from illegal foreign competition. We can’t have trade promotion without trade enforcement. It shouldn’t be bipartisan, regardless of how you vote on T.A.A. we need to make sure our deals are enforced. Level the playing field to against unfair trade practices, it’s critical for our businesses, our workers who drown in the flood of illegally subsidized import. It has the full support of business and workers, Republicans and Democrats. . . . No matter where you stand on T.P.A. we should be able to come together to have enforce — enforceable laws. We have trade. We know these agreements cause wages to stagnate, we know these agreements cause factories to close . . . This is a terrible mistake we will make which we’ve made over and over and over and over if we pass this today. If we pass T.P.A. it’s the same mistake we made with NAFTA. Big promises, job increases, wages going up, bad results. We did it when we passed PNTR, when we passed CAFTA, the Central American Free Trade Agreement, with the Korean Free Trade Agreement, we’re about to do it again, shame on us. At least take care of workers if we’re going to pass this legislation.

Prior to the vote, Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, called the TPA bill and accompanying trade legislation the most important bill to pass in the Senate this year.  Senator Hatch stated:

This is a critical day for our country. In fact I’d call it an historic day. It’s taken us awhile to get there, longer than many of us would have liked but we all know anything worth having takes effort and this bill is worth the effort. This is perhaps the most important bill we’ll pass in the Senate this year. It will help reassert Congress’s role over U.S. trade negotiations and reestablish the United States as a strong player in international trade.

Renewing T.P.A. has been a top priority for me for many years and as Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, I am pleased that with the help of ranking member Wyden, we’ve been able to deliver a robust and bipartisan bill. It’s also been a high priority for the Senate Majority Leader. And thanks to his strong support and leadership, we’re one step away from completing this important task. This bill will help farmers, ranchers, manufacturers and entrepreneurs throughout our country get better access to foreign markets and allow them to compete on a level playing field. This bill will help give these job creators and the workers they employ greater opportunities to grow their businesses which will help create a healthier American economy. The business and agricultural communities understand the importance of strong trade agreements. That is why they came together in strong support of this important legislation. We’ve heard from all of them throughout this debate, and I appreciate their enthusiasm and support.

This has from the outset been a bipartisan effort, and I’m glad it remained that way. Throughout this entire debate here in the Senate, over in the House and here in the Senate again we’ve been able to maintain a bipartisan coalition in support of T.P.A., fair trade, and expanded market access for U.S. exporters. This is no small feat, Mr. President, and I’m appreciative of everyone who has worked so hard to make this possible. With this final vote, we can complete the work that we began so many years ago. But let’s be clear, passing T.P.A. is not the end of the story. It’s just the beginning. As Chairman of the Finance Committee, I intend to remain vigilant in our oversight as the administration pursues the negotiating objectives that Congress has set with this legislation. And if they fall short, I will be among the first to hold them accountable. But that is for another day. Today I urge my colleagues to help us finalize this historic achievement and join me in voting in favor of this bipartisan T.P.A. bill. If the vote goes the way I think it will today, today will be remembered as a good day for the Senate, the President, and the American people. Mr. President, once we vote to pass T.P.A., we will then be voting to invoke cloture on the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015.  . . . In addition to these preferences programs, the bill we’ll be voting on includes legislation introduced by Senators Portman and Brown to strengthen the enforcement and administration of our anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws. As I have noted in the past, anti-dumping and countervailing duty laws are among the most important trade tools we have to protect U.S. companies from unfair foreign trade practices. A number of Utah companies do benefit from these laws which allow them to compete against imports that unfairly benefit from support from foreign governments. I’m pleased we were able to include this legislation in the preferences bill. Finally, also included in this bill is an extension of the Trade Adjustment Assistance, or T.A.A. program. I think I’ve said enough about my opposition to this program here on the floor over the past several weeks. I won’t delve too deeply into that issue here. However, I do understand that for many of my colleagues who want to support T.P.A. and free trade, passage of T.A.A. is a prerequisite. From the outset of this debate over trade promotion authority, I’ve committed to my colleagues to working to ensure that both T.A.A. and T.P.A. move on parallel tracks. I plan to make good on this commitment and today will show that. That is why despite my misgivings about T.A.A. and with the entire picture in view, I plan to vote for this latest version of the trade preferences bill.

On June 23, 2015, former Senate Majority leaders Bob Dole and Trent Lott, in the Wall Street Journal congratulated Senator McConnell with pushing the TPA/trade legislation through the Senate stating:

It is a relief to see an institution that we both devoted so much of our lives to working again.  And it is an encouraging development for the country to see the Senate addressing big problems after years of inaction when it was controlled by Democrats.

JUNE 23, 2015 UPDATE

SENATE JUMPS OVER MAJOR PROCEDURAL HURDLE AND PUSHES TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY FORWARD

Dear Friends,

There was a major development in the Senate today on Trade Promotion Authority.  The Senate has jumped over a major procedural hurdle and moved the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill forward. The final TPA vote will be tomorrow and it will pass because only a simple majority is needed. For US companies, this means now is the time to bring to the attention of US trade negotiators any export problems they have with the 12 TPP countries, specifically Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore or Vietnam, so the issue can be included in the ongoing negotiations.

The TPA fight has also raised questions as to whether the Free Trade Agreements can actually pass Congress or whether the US will slip backward into a protectionist mindset and no longer be a free trade leader.

If you have any questions about this topics, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

SENATE PASSES TPA PROCEDURAL HURDLE AND MOVES IT FORWARD SO THAT THE TPA BILL WILL BE ON THE PRESIDENT’S DESK BY FRIDAY

On June 23, 2015, in a key procedural vote in the Senate, which required a minimum of 60 votes to pass, the Senate passed cloture 60-37 for Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”).  To pass cloture and bring the TPA bill up for vote, the Senate requires 60 votes.  This means that tomorrow the Senate will have the final vote on TPA and only 51 votes are required for passage.

To recap since the last blog post, after passing the Senate on May 22nd, the linked TPA and Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) bills went to the House of Representatives.  Despite Herculean efforts by House Ways and Means Chairman Paul Ryan, on June 12th progressive Democrats and tea party protectionist conservative Republicans joined together to defeat Trade Adjustment Assistance and pursuant to the procedural rules kill TPA.  But pro-trade Republicans and Democrats in the Senate and the House worked with President Obama to come up with an alternative strategy and delinked TAA from TPA.

On June 18th, the House passed the TPA as a stand-alone bill.  See Paul Ryan’s statement on the House Floor at http://waysandmeans.house.gov/.

In response, today, June 23rd, the Senate with no extra votes, overcame the procedural hurdle of the 60 vote requirement, and voted to move forward with the House TPA Bill, which had passed on June 18th.  Tomorrow the Senate will vote on TPA and only a simple majority is required, which means TPA will pass and go to President Obama’s desk for signature by the end of the week.

One can see the Senate vote and the entire speeches up to and after the vote on Cspan at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326681-1/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority.  Prior to the vote, Republican Majority Mitch McConnell stated in part:

The Bipartisan Trade Legislation Trade Legislation we’ll vote on today.  . . . It’s demonstrating that both parties can work together to strengthen America’s National Security at home and America’s leadership abroad.  Instead of simply ceding the future and one of the World’s fastest-growing regions from Chinese aggression and it’s proven that our friends can rally with us in support of 1.4 Million additional jobs in our country, including over 18,000 in Kentucky alone. . . .

Today is a very big vote. It’s an important moment for the country. It sets in motion the completion of a project we set out on literally months ago.  Completing work on all four of the bills reported by the Finance Committee. That is what my friend on the other side said they wanted and that is what can be achieved by continuing to work together.  . . .

So this is where we are, Mr. President. Let’s vote today. Let’s vote today to move ahead on T.P.A., an important accomplishment for the country. Then we can vote to move ahead on T.A.A. and AGOA and preferences. And then we can vote to move ahead on customs. If we all keep working together and trusting each other, then by the end of the week the President will have T.P.A., T.A.A., and AGOA and preferences on his desk. With Customs in the process of heading his way as well.

As Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, stated in part prior to the vote:

On Trade Promotion Authority, the Senate has voted on this before each time demonstrating strong bipartisan support for T.P.P. — T.P.A. My hope is we can get a similar result in the Senate. We need to be clear about what is at stake. The United States is clearly negotiating a number of trade agreements with our most important trading partners in the world.  . . .

As we all know, most of the World’s consumers live outside of our borders.  95% of them. In addition, the vast majority of economic growth in the world is likely to occur outside of the United States over the next decade if our workers, farmers, ranchers and service providers are going to be able to compete in these growing markets, we must have open access to these markets and fair trade rules to boot.  Without strong trade agreements neither is possible.  When it comes to International Trade, we cannot stand still.  If we don’t lead and set the rules of the game, other nations will and our economy will be left behind.

The United States continues to be a leader in agricultural exports throughout the World.  In fact, we still export more agricultural goods than any other country.  In addition, the United States continues to boast an enormous manufacturing base which supplies consumers in every corner of the globe.  We also lead the World in technology, digital services and innovation.  Indeed not only do we lead the World in creation of intellectual property, America essentially created the modern digital landscape.  The U.S. also continues to lead in trade and services, exporting more than $700 Billion in services in 2014 alone.  That is more than twice as much as the United Kingdom, the World’s second-highest services exporter. . . .

This [TPA] bill, which is the product of a great deal of work and a lot of bipartisan cooperation, will have a powerful and positive impact on industries throughout our economy, on consumers and of course on American workers as well.  Mr. President, in an America that embraces International Trade, I believe even those individuals who encounter temporary setbacks can find new opportunities, can outwork, out-produce and out-innovate our global competition so long as the groundwork has been laid to give them those opportunities.  That is why we need strong trade agreements and that is why we need T.P.A. . . .

I am very appreciative of all the support we have received from members on both sides of the aisle.  We couldn’t have gotten this far without that support.  Now it is time to finish the work to pass this bill and get it to the President’s desk.  We need this bill to ensure that our constituents’ voices are heard in the trade negotiating process.  We need this bill to give our trade negotiators the tools they need to get a good deal.  And we need this bill to extend access to foreign markets so we can grow our economy and create good, high-paying jobs here at home.  That, Mr. President, is what this bill is all about and why we have been working on this process for so long.  We’re very close to the finish line, Mr. President.  We need just one more burst of energy and a few more steps to get us there.

I urge all of my colleagues who support free trade, open markets, and the advancement of American values and interests abroad to join me once again in supporting T.P.A. and working with me and with my colleague, Senator Wyden, to get all the pending trade bills passed in the Senate and signed into law. . . .

Democratic Senator Ron Wyden, ranking member on the Senate Finance Committee, stated prior to vote:

If you believe that those policies of the 1990’s fail to protect American workers and strengthen our economy, this is our chance to set a new course.  This is our chance to put in place higher standards in global trade on matters like labor rights and environmental protection, shine some real sunlight on trade agreements and ensure that our country writes the rules of the road.  The fact is in 2016, globalization is a reality.  The choice is whether to sit back and allow globalization to push and pull on our economy until in effect we face some of the same kind of dictates that you see in China.  So our choice is either to move now, get into the center of the ring and fight for a stronger economic future, protect our workers and promote our values or remain tethered to many of those old policies of the 1990’s.  . . .

China is certainly not going to take up the banner for American values in trade.  So if you believe America should stop a race to the bottom on labor rights, environmental safeguards and human rights, this legislation is our chance to lift global standards up.

Now, I want to talk for a moment about the economic potential of this legislation.  What we all understand we need to do is make things here, grow things here, add value to them here and then ship them somewhere.  My state knows how to make this happen, and so do many others.  About one out of five jobs in Oregon depends on International Trade.  Almost 90% of them are small and medium-sized, and what we know is that in many instances, those jobs pay better, but the fact is if our farmers want to sell their products in Japan – and this is true of agriculture all over America, Mr. President – a lot of our farmers face average tariffs of 40%.  That’s right.  If you want to export some jam to Vietnam, it will be marked up by 90%.  If you want to sell a bottle of wine – and we’ve got wine growers with prosperous businesses all over the country, you’ve got to fork over 50% of the value to the government.  So if you believe that other countries should open their markets to American exports, like the U.S. is open to theirs, this is our chance to bring down the tariffs and other barriers . . .

While the goal of enacting trade policies is a tool to give all Americans a chance to get ahead, trade adjustment assistance is an absolute must-pass bill.  And I am confident that it is going to get through Congress and the President’s Desk.  . . .

In my view, the Congress has an opportunity with this legislation to show that it can work in a bipartisan way to take on one of the premier economic challenges of our time.  Our job is to get past the policies of the 1990’s and move towards getting trade done right.  Colleagues, let’s open – let’s pry open foreign markets and send more of our exports abroad.  Let’s fight for the American brand and the Oregon brand against the trade cheats and the bad actors who are blocking our way.  And let’s raise the bar for American values and open up our trade policies to sunlight.  I urge all in the Senate to vote “Yes” on cloture today and to support this package as it advances this week and in effect we get three of the important bills done this week and set in motion the fourth.

After winning the procedural vote today, Senator McConnell stated:

Have voted aye on the Cloture Motion.  I want to say to our colleagues this is a very important day for our country. We’ve demonstrated we can work together on a bipartisan basis to achieve something that is extremely important for America. Not only when we confirm this trade promotion authority will we have the mechanism in place for the President to finalize an extraordinarily important deal with a number of different Asian countries, it will indicate that America is back in the trade business, it will also send a message to our allies that we understand they’re somewhat wary about Chinese commercial and potentially military domination and that we intend to still be deeply involved in the Pacific.  So I want to congratulate Senator Hatch, Senator Wyden.  This has been a long and rather twisted path to where we are today, but it’s a very, very important accomplishment for the country.

In response to the Senate vote, on June 23rd Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, issued the following statement:

I want to congratulate my colleagues in the Senate for voting to advance TPA. Only with TPA can the U.S. win a fair deal for the American worker in trade negotiations. And only with TPA can the U.S. rebuild its credibility on the world stage. I’m proud of my colleagues—in both houses, on both sides of the aisle—for working together to promote American trade. Some work remains to complete our trade agenda, but this has been a good day.

What is the effect of this vote on companies?  The bottom line is that by the week’s end President Obama will be able to sign into law Trade Promotion Authority and the negotiations on the Trans Pacific Partnership and the TTIP negotiations with Europe will continue.

For any company facing problems with exports to the 12 countries in the TPP, specifically Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore or Vietnam, now is the time to present your concerns to the trade negotiators in the US government and your Congressional representatives so the issue can be included in the ongoing negotiations.

WILL CONGRESS FOLLOW THE SIREN CALL OF PROTECTIONISM AND TAKE THE US BACK OR MOVE IT FORWARD TO RESUME ITS FREE TRADE LEADERSHIP

In light of the Senate vote today, one hopes that the Congress is moving away from the protectionist brink, but with a 60-37 procedural vote, when 60 votes were required, nothing can be taken for granted.  Listening to the anti-trade rhetoric in the US Senate and House of Representatives one is reminded of the original Greek tale in which Ulysses on his way back home had to pass the Siren rocks.  The Greek Sirens would cry so sweetly they lured sailors and ships to their doom.

Many Democrats and some Republicans are now listening to the Sirens of protectionism from the labor unions and other activists that the US should move inward, put America first and protect workers and US factories at all costs from import competition created by free trade agreements.  Although trade pundits acknowledge that TPA will pass, they argue that the Agreements, the TPP and TTIP Agreement with the EC, will die because the United States simply cannot withstand the protectionist attacks.  If that is true, the US will give up trade leadership and could well return back to the 1900s.  See the statement by Senator Bernie Sanders on June 23rd on the floor of the US Senate at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326681-1/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority&live.

As John Brinkley, a Forbes commentator, stated on June 22, 2015, the day before the vote in the Senate on TPA:

Whether the Trans-Pacific Partnership lives or dies, it will probably be America’s last free trade agreement for a very long time.

No future Congress will want to walk into a war zone like the one now extant to pass a trade deal based on nebulous benefits. You may have noticed that the Obama administration has offered no estimate of how many jobs the TPP would create. Rather, its strategy has been to say that ratifying the TPP would empower the United States to write the rules of global trade and not ratifying it would cede that power to China. . . .

If the administration and Congress can’t convince people that free trade will facilitate those things – and they can’t – why should people care?

The next free trade agreement in the queue is the Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, which would connect the economies of the United States and the European Union. Given the amount of combat that’s been waged over the TPP, you wouldn’t want to bet on ratification of the TTIP.

Congressional leaders don’t want to put their members through another grueling trade fight like they one they’re in now, and they have no doubt made that clear to Obama. If the next president is a Democrat, he or she won’t touch the TTIP with a ten foot pole. A Republican president might ignore the opposition and try to get it done, but he’d probably lose. . . .

The TPP’s detractors have been louder and more prolific in attacking it than its proponents have been in defending it. And most of what they’ve been saying is exaggerated or wrong.  They’ll probably fail to derail the TPP. But they’ve probably already succeeded in killing the TTIP and any future trade agreement that the next president or two might envision.

For Mr. Brinkley’s entire article see http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2015/06/22/farewell-free-trade.

Another commentator predicted that the real impact of the Trade fight will be on the Democratic Party stating:

Just as the tea party wing of the Republican Party has pulled the entire GOP to the right and hampered attempts at compromise on Capitol Hill, some now fear a similar dynamic is taking shape on the left. . . .

The revival of the trade package inflamed labor unions and liberal groups that had fought ferociously to block it, including by running ads against otherwise friendly House Democrats and threatening to mount primary campaigns against them. Unions say past trade deals bled American jobs and tanked wages. They argue that granting Obama the power to finalize trade deals that Congress can accept or reject, but not amend, would lead to more of the same, including the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership the White House has worked on for years.

“Democrats who allowed the passage of fast-track authority for the job-killing TPP, should know that we will not lift a finger or raise a penny to protect you when you’re attacked in 2016, we will encourage our progressive allies to join us in leaving you to rot, and we will actively search for opportunities to primary you with a real Democrat,” Jim Dean, head of Democracy for America, said in a statement following Thursday’s House vote. . . .

http://apnews.myway.com/article/20150620/us–congress-democrats-ad8fbb804c.html or http://tiny.iavian.net/5mkd.

To illustrate the pressure on Congressional lawmakers, in discussing the situation with knowledgeable trade professionals, they mentioned that a Union sent demonstrators to the school where one Democratic Congressman placed his kids.

Why is the protectionist America first trade policy wrong policy?  Because all of “international/WTO” trade law is based on reciprocity.  What the United States can do to other countries, those countries can do back to the United States.  In effect, the United States can be hoisted by its own petard, killed by its own knife.

That is the reason Senator Orrin Hatch, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Congressman Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, are so concerned about currency manipulation.  Yes, currency manipulation is now a negotiating objective as set forth in the TPA.  But enforcing currency manipulation is a problem because there is no internationally accepted definition of currency manipulation.  When the US Federal Reserve used quantitative easing in the last financial crisis, was that currency manipulation?  Could other countries retaliate against the US for using quantitative easing?  That is the fear of free traders.  In international trade what goes around comes around.

The Siren Call of protectionism of putting America first by protecting companies and worker job from imports, the vast majority of which “must be unfairly traded”, however, has echoed throughout American history.  Many politicians apparently have not learned the lessons of history.  In the 1930s, President Hubert Hoover promised to help the United States dig out of the recession by raising tariff walls against imports and Congress passed the Smoot-Hawley Tariff of 1930.  Countries around the World retaliated by raising barriers to imports from the United States.  Exports and imports stopped and the World was plunged in the depression, which, in turn, was one of reasons for the rise of Adolf Hitler and the cause of the Second World War.

As one article on Capitalism states:

What was the end-result of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act?  As other countries placed tariffs on American exports in retaliation, these tariffs actually led to the reduction of American exports and thus jobs: With the reduction of American exports came also the destruction of American jobs, as unemployment levels which were 6.3% (June 1930) jumped to 11.6% a few months later (November 1930). As farmers were unable to pay back their loans to banks, their loan defaults led to increasing bank crashes, particularly in the West and Mid-West.

See http://capitalism.org/free-trade/what-was-the-end-result-of-the-smoot-hawley-tariff-act/

The State Department itself states on its website:

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act of June 1930 raised U.S. tariffs to historically high levels. The original intention behind the legislation was to increase the protection afforded domestic farmers against foreign agricultural imports.  . . . During the 1928 election campaign, Republican presidential candidate Herbert Hoover pledged to help the beleaguered farmer by, among other things, raising tariff levels on agricultural products. But once the tariff schedule revision process got started, it proved impossible to stop. Calls for increased protection flooded in from industrial sector special interest groups, and soon a bill meant to provide relief for farmers became a means to raise tariffs in all sectors of the economy. When the dust had settled, Congress had agreed to tariff levels that exceeded the already high rates established by the 1922 Fordney-McCumber Act and represented among the most protectionist tariffs in U.S. history.

The Smoot-Hawley Tariff was more a consequence of the onset of the Great Depression than an initial cause. But while the tariff might not have caused the Depression, it certainly did not make it any better. It provoked a storm of foreign retaliatory measures and came to stand as a symbol of the “beggar-thy neighbor” policies (policies designed to improve one’s own lot at the expense of that of others) of the 1930s.  Such policies contributed to a drastic decline in international trade. For example, U.S. imports from Europe declined from a 1929 high of $1,334 million to just $390 million in 1932, while U.S. exports to Europe fell from $2,341 million in 1929 to $784 million in 1932.  Overall, world trade declined by some 66% between 1929 and 1934. More generally, Smoot-Hawley did nothing to foster trust and cooperation among nations in either the political or economic realm during a perilous era in international relations.

The Smoot-Hawley tariff represents the high-water mark of U.S. protectionism in the 20th century. Thereafter, beginning with the 1934 Reciprocal Trade Agreements Act, American commercial policy generally emphasized trade liberalization over protectionism. The United States generally assumed the mantle of champion of freer international trade . . . .

See http://future.state.gov/when/timeline/1921_timeline/smoot_tariff.html.

In fact, it is the political impact and the security implications of the trade agreements, that has caused Secretary of Defense Carter and on May 8th, a bipartisan collection of 7 former US defense secretaries, including Harold Brown, William S. Cohen, Robert M. Gates, Chuck Hagel, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Donald H. Rumsfeld along with well-known Generals, such as General David H. Petraeus and General Colin Powell, to call for the passage of TPA, stating:

By binding us closer together with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Australia, among others, TPP would strengthen existing and emerging security relationships in the Asia-Pacific, and reassure the region of America’s long-term staying power.  In Europe, TTIP would reinvigorate the transatlantic partnership and send an equally strong signal about the commitment of the United States to our European allies.

The successful conclusion of TPP and TTIP would also draw in other nations and encourage them to undertake political and economic reforms. The result will be deeper regional economic integration, increased political cooperation, and ultimately greater stability in the two regions of the world that will have the greatest long-term impact on U.S. prosperity and security.

Indeed, TPP in particular will shape an economic dynamic over the next several decades that will link the United States with one of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic regions. If, however, we fail to move forward with TPP, Asian economies will almost certainly develop along a China-centric model. In fact, China is already pursuing an alternative regional free trade initiative. TPP, combined with T-TIP, would allow the United States and our closest allies to help shape the rules and standards for global trade.

The stakes are clear. There are tremendous strategic benefits to TPP and TTIP, and there would be harmful strategic consequences if we fail to secure these agreements.

In a June 28, 1986 speech President Ronald Reagan indicated that he had learned the Smoot Hawley lesson stating:

Now, I know that if I were to ask most of you how you like to spend your Saturdays in the summertime, sitting down for a  nice, long discussion of international trade wouldn’t be at the top of the list. But believe me, none of us can or should be bored with this issue. Our nation’s economic health, your well-being and that of your family’s really is at stake.  That’s because international trade is one of those issues that politicians find an unending source of temptation. Like a 5-cent cigar or a chicken in every pot, demanding high tariffs or import restrictions is a familiar bit of flimflammery in  American politics. But cliches and demagoguery aside, the truth is these trade restrictions badly hurt economic growth.

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

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

Well, since World War II, the nations of the world showed they learned at least part of their lesson.  . . .

As many famous statesmen have stated in the past, those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.

With the extreme rhetoric in the international trade area, however, the question is whether the United States truly has learned its lesson or whether it will raise the protectionist walls, and give up on free trade.  So the question is does the United States give up on Free Trade and ignore the historical lesson or does it move forward with these free trade agreements, open up markets around the World,  and retake its leadership position in international trade?.

MAY 27 UPDATE

TRANSFORMATIVE POWER OF TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE (“TAA”) FOR COMPANIES

As the battle for Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) moves to the House of Representatives, the merits of the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program, which is linked with the TPA bill, needs to be discussed.  Many Republican Senators and Representatives oppose TAA.  On the Senate Floor, Senate Finance Committee (“SFC”) Chairman Orrin Hatch stated that he was “generally opposed” to TAA, but realized that his Democratic colleagues, led by SFC Ranking member Senator Ron Wyden, needed TAA to support TPA.

In the House, however, many Republican Representatives oppose TAA because they see TAA as an entitlement.  But when talking to Republican staff in the House, it soon becomes apparent that many Representatives do not understand that there are two TAA programs.  The first TAA program is TAA for Workers (“TAAW”), which is a $450 million job retraining program for workers that have been displaced by international trade.  That is the program, Democratic Senators and Representatives need to support, to help the Unions, their constituents.

The second TAA program, however, is TAA for Companies (also called TAA for Firms or TAAF).  TAA for Companies is set at only $16 million in the Senate and $12.5 million in the House nationwide.  TAA for Companies targets small and medium size business (SMEs) and helps them adjust to import competition.  The irony is that SMEs are the Republican sweet spot.  These companies are Republican constituents.

What are the Republican arguments against TAA for Companies?  The first argument is that the program does not work.  To the contrary, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”), which I have been working with, has an 80% survival rate since 1984.  In other words, NWTAAC has saved 80% of the companies that got into the program since 1984.  See the attached Wall Street Journal article, REVISED FEBRUARY242011TAACLETTERWSJ – Perry.

The transformative power of TAA for Companies is illustrated by this video from the Mid-Atlantic TAA Center with statements from four small business owners on how TAA For Companies has saved their business– http://mataac.org/media.  See also the video at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCef23LqDVs&feature=youtu.be&a.

If you save the company, you save the jobs that go with the company and all the tax revenue paid into the Federal, State and Local governments.  This is the Transformative Power of TAA for Companies.  TAA for Companies does not cost the government money.  It makes money for the government.

In fact, I truly believe that President Ronald Reagan himself endorsed the TAA for Companies program.  Why?  Jim Munn.  I started working with NWTAAC because Ronald Reagan himself asked Jim Munn to look into the program in the early 80’s.  Who was Jim Munn?  He was a Republican organizer, a criminal lawyer in Seattle who won every case that he handled, and yes a personal friend of Ronald Reagan.  See his attached 2002 obituary, JIM MUNN.

What did Jim Munn find out when he investigated the program?  Lo and behold the program works.  Companies are saved, and Jim Munn stayed around as the NWTAAC board chairman for 22 years.

TAA for Companies will be a very important program that Congress can use to help their constituent businesses that will be hurt in the future by trade agreements.  The Trans Pacific Partnership will create many winners, such as agriculture, but losers too, and those losing companies will need help adjusting to the trade tsunami of imports created by the TPP.

The other Republican argument against TAAF is that this program is another Solyndra and picks winners and losers.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  First, TAA for Companies does not provide money directly to companies.  TAA provides matching funds to consultants to work with companies to help them create and implement strategic plans to compete effectively in a trade intensive environment.

Second, there is no picking winners and losers.   Companies have to meet certain statutory criteria (including a decline in business). Company plans are then vetted by business experts at regional TAAF centers, which helps create a business recovery or adjustment plan. TAAF then provides a matching fund for outside expertise to help implement that adjustment plan. When companies are helped at the local level with an adjustment plan created specifically for that company, even companies facing severe import competition can survive and can prosper.

The only limitation on TAA for Companies is the low level of financial support in the Congress.  Many companies wait for long periods of time to get into the program because there simply is no funding.  In five states in the Pacific Northwest, for example, only about 10 companies begin the program each year, which is only a small fraction of the companies facing strong import competition.

Another argument made by Senator Hatch’s Legislative staff is that TAAF is duplicative of other Federal business programs.  That again is not true.  Helping companies that have been injured by imports is an entirely different objective from other business programs.

In the first place, Trade injured companies must change their business significantly to adapt to the new intensive trade environment in order to survive and grow. While there are other programs that offer business planning help, such as SBDC, they generally focus on very small business (often retail or services). TAAF specializes in helping larger trade injured companies, often manufacturers (as well as agricultural and some services companies).

Whereas other programs offer a fixed set of services or specific solutions (e.g. manufacturing technology or lean practices), a one size fits all, from a narrow pool of consultants, TAAF offers a highly flexible solution linking a consultant to a company to solve its specific import problem. Often the consultant hired by TAAF is one that the company already knows but simply does not have the resources to hire.

Today’s SMEs are lean operations, which rely on a network of project based specialists to keep them competitive. TAAF’s strength is the flexibility of linking a specific service provider with a specific skill, matched to the individual needs of the company facing immediate threat from import competition. TAAF does not compete with the private consulting industry, but facilitates access to it. This is the power of the market working to cure the disease and is perfectly in line with Republican principles.

The Transformative Power of TAA for Companies is illustrated by companies in Senator Hatch’s Utah saved by the program.  Today there are 19 Utah companies active in TAAF, including a medical device, a precision metals, a furniture and an aluminum extrusions manufacturer. Because of TAAF, these 19 companies with a total of more $2 billion in sales have retained 1000s of high paid manufacturing jobs and added 1000s more jobs. Total cost to the US tax payer for these 19 companies – $1.2 million over a five year period. But saving those 19 companies and the jobs associated with them has resulted in substantial tax revenue at the Federal, state and local level. What TAAF has done in Utah, it has also done throughout the United States.

In addition to TAA for Companies, there are a number of other amendments to the trade laws going through the US Congress with TPA, including changes to the US antidumping law to make it easier to bring trade cases. As stated in past blog posts and as Ronald Reagan predicted in the attached 1986 speech, BETTER COPY REAGAN IT SPEECH, the problem with antidumping and countervailing duty cases is that they do not work. The Steel Industry has had protection from steel imports under US antidumping and countervailing duty laws for 40 years. Have the cases worked? Is the US Steel Industry prospering today?

All US antidumping and other trade cases can do is slow the decline in an industry. The only program that cures the disease is the TAA for Companies program and with the trade tsunami created by the TPP, this program will be needed to teach companies how to swim in the new competitive environment. That is why this program should be supported by both Republicans and Democrats in the upcoming votes in Congress. TAAF is better targeted and more effective than any other trade remedy available today.

TPA UPDATE—LATEST NEWS FROM THE HOUSE

On May 28th, it was reported that the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives intends to bring up Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) the week of June 8th and will hold two separate votes on its constituent parts. The House is considering taking up the Senate-passed bill, H.R. 1314, which contains both the TPA and TAA renewals, but then vote on each part separately. This could be done using a parliamentary procedure called “division of the question,” which could be written into the rule governing House consideration of the legislation. This rule, however, would have to be approved on the House floor prior to the vote on the bill itself.

The reason for holding the TPA vote in the second week of June after the House returns from recess is to give both Republicans and Democrats time to increase support for TPA to ensure they have the 217 or more votes needed to pass the bill. It takes 217 votes, instead of 218 votes, to approve the bill because of two vacancies in the House. But there are indications that the vote could slip until the third week of June to provide supporters more time to gather the votes together.

Sources are stating that they expect between 40-55 Republican no votes, although the no votes could be much higher. With 245 Republicans in the House, the 40 to 55 range would require between 17-22 Democrats voting “yes” in order to get to the required 217 votes. Democratic Congressmen can provide more than 20 votes, possibly 25 or 27, given that 17 members of the caucus have already endorsed the TPA bill.

On May 27th, Washington State Democratic Congressman, Rick Larsen, came out in favor of TPA. In the announcement, Congressman Larsen stated:

“TPA is a cornerstone of the President’s trade agenda. It is the vehicle for Congress to set standards and goals for new trade agreements the President is seeking to finalize. I believe presidents should have the authority to negotiate trade agreements based on Congressional direction. The specifics of that direction are important, and they are laid out in the 2015 TPA bill.

“I have decided to support the 2015 TPA bill because trade matters for the Second Congressional District and for Washington State. Trade matters for manufacturers of all sizes in the Second Congressional District. Opening up new markets for our businesses to sell their goods and services is a key way to help them grow their operations and create jobs here at home. We have manufacturers of all sizes in my district that trade with other countries, supporting more than 68,320 jobs. That is a sizeable piece of our economy that we simply cannot ignore. Trade matters for these factories and workers.”

“Trade matters for a variety of industries in Washington State, from agriculture to electronics to tourism. In Washington State, about 40 percent of all jobs are tied to trade in some way, and the pay for these jobs is nearly 20 percent higher than the average annual wage. Our state exported more than $90 billion in goods and services in 2014, making us the largest exporting state per capita in the country.

“I agree with a comment Secretary John Kerry made during his recent visit to the Boeing factory in Renton. He said our state is a trade leader because we discovered a long time ago that it is in our best interest to do business with the world. Helping our state’s businesses sell their products in new markets worldwide means more growth, jobs and opportunity in the Pacific Northwest. . . .

A key factor in the Vote will be the positions of House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD).

Before bringing the Bill to a vote, however, TPA supporters in the House will want to make sure that they have a comfortable margin of votes beyond the required 217. Ways & Means Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) has already agreed, that the House will consider TPA and TAA renewal on the same day as a customs and enforcement bill and legislation to renew several trade preference programs.

On May 27th, it was reported that Chairman Paul Ryan in a May 22nd letter to Senators Hatch and Wyden stated that he intended to seek to include in the House version of a customs and enforcement bill four amendments that failed to make it into the fast-track bill in the Senate. His commitment is part of an agreement with Hatch and Wyden to use the customs bill conference as a forum to resolve outstanding issues related to fast track and potentially other trade legislation, without requiring a conference on the fast-track bill itself.

The first change Ryan agreed to make is to include in the House customs bill the trade remedy law changes championed by Sens. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) and Rob Portman (R-OH), which are pending in the House as H.R. 2523. Ryan, however, did not address how he wants to reconcile another key difference in the two customs bills, which is their provisions aimed at fighting the evasion of antidumping and countervailing duties. In addition to Trade Remedy, Ryan indicated interest in including in the House customs bill amendments on human trafficking, immigration and US seafood exports.

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER MAY 27, 2015

Dear Friends,

Been very busy over the last two months on a number of different cases, but now I can now get back to the blog.

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY (“TPA”) BILL PASSES THE SENATE AS FIGHT ON CAPITOL HILL CONTINUES

The major trade issue is Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and the Trans Pacific Partnership.

On May 22, 2015, after another close cloture vote, the TPA bill passed the Senate by a majority vote of 62 to 37 votes. The Short Title of the TPA Bill is the “Trade Act of 2015” and the long title is the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015”.

The action next switches to the House of Representatives, which will take up Trade Promotion Authority in June. The fight in the House will be even more difficult than the Senate because reportedly there is more opposition to TPA, but there are no requirements for a super majority in the House.

To see the debate on the Senate Floor, see http://www.c-span.org/video/?326202-2/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority.  Be prepared to move the video bar at the bottom of the screen to cycle through the trade arguments.

On May 21st in a close vote, 62-38 vote, with 60 votes required, the Senate agreed to cloture, to end debate, and to go to a final vote on the TPA bill. Two of the most important votes came from Democratic Senators Patti Murray and Maria Cantwell of Washington, who only agreed to vote to move the TPA bill forward after the Republicans agreed to a vote in June on the Ex-Im Bank, which is very important for the Boeing Company in Washington. Senator Lindsay Graham, a Republican from South Carolina, where Boeing is located, joined the Murray/Cantwell fight on the Senate Floor.

Attached is the revised TPA Bill with the Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) bill joined with it. TPA AS AMENDED MAY 22ND This combined bill happened as a result of a compromise after the Senate Democrats blocked the TPA bill on May 12th.

On May 22nd, another amendment on Currency Manipulation from Senators Wyden and Hatch was passed as a compromise. The attached Amendment Hatch-Wyden HANDWRITTEN AMENDMENT 1411 states as follows:

Foreign Currency Manipulation—The principal negotiating objective of the United States with respect to unfair currency practices is seek to establish accountability through enforceable rules, transparency, reporting, monitoring, cooperative mechanisms, or other means to address exchange rate manipulation involving protracted large scale intervention in one direction in the exchange markets and a persistently undervalued foreign exchange rate to gain an unfair competitive advantage in trade over other parties to a trade agreement consistent with existing obligations of the United States as a member of the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization.

On May 22, 2015, Senator Hatch made a very strong argument against the Currency Amendment proposed by Senators Stabenow and Portman, which requires enforceable provisions, stating that the President will veto the TPA bill and if passed could lead to international sanctions against the United States by international tribunals. See Testimony of Senators Wyden and Hatch at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326202-1/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority&live. See part of the speech below.

One of the key arguments for TPA was made by Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida on the Senate Floor on May 22nd when he stated that a major reason for his vote was when the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the Department of Defense come to Congress and unanimously told the Armed Forces Committee that the TPA and TPP are one of the most important issues for National Security in that area of the World. As Senator Nelson stated, “I believe that this Bill will pass.”

On May 12th, after the Democrats in the Senate blocked the TPA bill from coming to the floor by a vote of 52 to 45, the TAA bill was put together with the TPA bill and started to move again. The Grand Bargain between the Democrats and Republicans is that TAA will be joined to the TPA bill. Republican Senator Hatch on the floor stated several times that although he was personally opposed to TAA, he realized that his Democratic colleagues needed TAA to vote for TPA.

Four bills have been crafted to move together. They are the TPA bill, Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”) for workers and companies, Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill, formerly The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (“TFTEA”), and the Trade Preferences Extension Act of 2015 (“TPEA”). The TFTEA Bill passed the Senate on May 11, 2015 and the TPTEA Bill passed on May 14, 2015, but both bills now go to the House where there survival is questionable.  Copies of those bills and Legislative History are attached.  TRADE PREFERENCES ACT TPA LEGISLATIVE HISTORY SENATE FINANCE TPA AS AMENDED MAY 22ND TAA LEGISLATIVE HISTORY LEGISLATIVE HISTORY TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL Hatch-Wyden HANDWRITTEN AMENDMENT 1411 CUSTOMS AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT BILL Preferences.Bill.fin

The key problem is the Customs TFTEA bill because Senators Brown and Portman have put in the bill a specific provision that currency manipulation can be considered a countervailable subsidy. That is a major problem for Republicans and also President Obama because a currency manipulation bill could be used to retaliate against US Exports because of the Federal Reserve Policy. Remember Quantitative Easing? Currency manipulation has not been defined and this is why Treasury Secretary Lew has been so cautious in going after China and other countries. All trade law is based on reciprocity and what the United States can do to one country, the other country can do back. President Obama has stated that if enforcement provisions regarding currency manipulation are tied to the TPA bill, he will veto the bill.

Also see speech by Senator Hatch at minute 40 at this link http://www.c-span.org/video/?325918-9/senators-mcconnell-reid-wyden-hatch-cornyn-trade-promotion-authority to get a better idea of what is going on. Senator Hatch described currency manipulation as “a killer amendment” to the TPA. See also Senator Hatch speech on the floor below.

Negotiations continued. See Paul Ryan’s response that the entire world is watching, including China http://video.cnbc.com/gallery/?video=3000379026

The key point is not the Democrats opposed to TPA, but the pro-trade Democrats. After the TPA bill was blocked in the Senate on May 12th, Obama met with a group of pro-trade Democrats at the White House in an effort to secure their support. In addition to Senator Caper from Delaware, that group includes: Sens. Michael Bennet (Colo.), Maria Cantwell (Wash.), Ben Cardin (Md.), Heidi Heitkamp (N.D.), Tim Kaine (Va.), Patty Murray (Wash.), Bill Nelson (Fla.), Mark Warner (Va.) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), the senior Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee and co-author of fast-track legislation.

That is an additional 9 votes, along with the two missing Republican votes. When the additional 11 votes are added, the TPA overcame the filibuster and passed the Senate. Now the TPA battle continues in the House.

This blog post will discuss brief various trade issues, including antidumping and customs, then discuss Trade Policy, including the TPA bill in detail, followed by sections on IP, Antitrust and Securities.

TRADE

STEEL TRADE CASES ARE COMING

A number of companies have contacted me with questions about potential Steel trade antidumping and countervailing duty cases against various countries with a primary target being China. In discussions with a number of companies, the major steel targeted products are likely to be imports of cold rolled steel and galvanized steel from China and other countries and possibly hot rolled steel from other countries because Chinese hot rolled steel is already covered by antidumping and countervailing duty orders.

On March 26, 2015, the Congressional Steel Caucus held a major hearing on Capitol Hill on the State of the Steel Industry. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFUbn6lnNFM

The announcement for the hearing described it as follows:

Amidst the ongoing market turbulence in our domestic steel industry, the bi-partisan Congressional Steel Caucus will feature testimony from steel industry leaders, including several Pittsburgh-based experts. Earlier this month, U.S. Steel announced that its Keewatin, Minnesota facility would shut down operations as a result of the US market being flooded with low-cost imported foreign steel. Anticipated questions to be discussed include international trade practices, currency valuation; meeting steel market needs.

At the March 26th hearing the large US steel companies urged Congress to take action against “illegal trade practices” threatening the domestic steel industry. At the Steel Caucus hearing, U.S. Steel President and CEO Mario Longhi and Nucor Corp. Chairman, CEO and President John Ferriola and others stated that the US government has been too easy in confronting foreign companies over unfair trade practices.

Mario Longhi of US Steel stated:

“This nation’s safety, security and prosperity depend upon indigenous capacity to respond to our essential national needs, in peacetime and in times of crisis. [However], not since the late 1990s have we witnessed the torrent of steel imports. The last time we were at these levels, nearly half of American steel companies disappeared … American steel companies are being irreparably harmed by illegal trade practices.”

Longhi called for revised injury standards in the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws arguing that the ITC is too focused on operating profit margins. At the meeting Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio pledged to help the steel companies through his “The Leveling the Playing Field Act”.

That pledge resulted in the proposed changes to the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty laws in the Customs Enforcement Bill formally entitled ‘‘Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015’’Act, which passed the Senate. That Bill is the one that includes the Currency Manipulation provision.

One provision in that Bill would change the way the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) does its injury investigations. Specifically the Bill proposes to add an additional provision to the Material Injury provision used by the ITC in antidumping and countervailing duty cases to provide:

“(J) EFFECT OF PROFITABILITY.—The Commission shall not determine that there is no material injury or threat of material injury to an industry in the United States merely because that industry is profitable or because the performance of that industry has recently improved.’’

In talking with one friend at the ITC, he did not believe that the change would have that much impact on an ITC investigation, but the passage of the law will have an impact.

With this much smoke in the air regarding Steel imports, that usually means fire will follow. I suspect we will see a number of trade cases against steel imports, probably at the end of June or early July.

When looking at Steel Trade problems one should understand that the US Steel Industry has had various amounts of trade protection from steel imports for close to 40 years. Presently there are outstanding antidumping and countervailing duty orders against the following steel imports from China: Steel Concrete Reinforcing Bar (“Rebar”), Oil Country Tubular Goods (“OCTG”), Hot Rolled Carbon Steel, Carbon Steel Plate, Carbon Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, Circular Welded Austentic Stainless Pressure Pipe, Steel Threaded Rod, Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand, Seamless Carbon and Alloy Steel Standard, Line, and Pressure Pipe, Grain Oriented Electrical Steel, Non-Oriented Electrical Steel, and Prestressed Concrete Steel Rail Tie Wire.

Against China, it is easy to bring steel trade cases because Commerce does not use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping. But when actual prices and costs are used against market economy countries, such as Korea, it is a much bigger problem.

When I was at the ITC in the 1980s, I was the Commission staff lawyer on the first Oil Country Tubular Goods (“OCTG”) case filed against Korea in 1984. When Commerce uses actual prices and costs against countries like Korea in antidumping cases, the companies can run computer programs and make sure that they are not dumping. Since the Korean companies know they will be targeted, they are certainly running computer programs to eliminate all dumping.

With 40 years of protection from steel imports, the question should be asked is Bethlehem Steel alive today? Did the Steel Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Cases actually protect the steel industry and allow them to grow and expand or simply delay their decline?

As advocated several times in prior posts on this blog, the only way to save companies injured by imports, such as the steel companies, is a robust trade adjustment assistance program to help the companies adjust to import competition. Antidumping and countervailing duty cases do not work. They only delay the decline because a US industry cannot put up walls to unstoppable waves of imports. Instead the US industry has to adjust and learn how to compete effectively in the US market against imports, which are often fairly traded.

COMMERCE RAISES BARRIERS TO CHINESE IMPORTS BY MAKING IT MORE DIFFICULT TO GET SEPARATE RATES IN ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST CHINA

As stated in prior newsletters, as a result of an appeal in the Diamond Sawblades case, Commerce has raised the bar for Chinese companies to obtain their own antidumping rates by proving that they are independent of government control. The issue is especially significant for Chinese companies, which are owned in whole or in part, by the PRC State-Owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC).

In the Diamond Sawblades redetermination, Commerce determined that it had “further scrutinized the record” and concluded that, because the 100 percent SASAC owned majority shareholder was the only shareholder with the right to nominate all board members, including board members active in the selection of respondent’s managers, the company was not independent from the Chinese government.

Even though there was no evidence that export prices had been affected, in an investigation involving carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod from the PRC, Commerce stated that, in light of the Diamond Sawblades case, it has “concluded that where a government entity holds a majority ownership share, either directly or indirectly, in the respondent exporter, the majority ownership holding in and of itself means that the government exercises or has the potential to exercise control over the exporter’s operations generally. … Consistent with normal business practices, we would expect any majority shareholder, including a government, to have the ability to control and an interest in controlling, the operations of the company, including the selection of management and the profitability of the company.”

Meanwhile, until recently Chinese respondent companies were given 60 days from the date of Commerce initiation of an investigation or review to submit a separate rate application (“SRA”) to show that it is independent and separate from the Chinese government. Commerce has now reduced the time period to submit the SRA to 30 days and eliminated the option for early filing that previously provided NME companies with the opportunity to clarify an application Commerce deems insufficient.

COURT OF APPEALS RULES AGAINST CHINA IN GPX CASE

On March 16, 2015, in the attached GPX International Tire Corp. and Hebei Starbright Tire Co. vs. United States, GPX CAFC DECISION the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) turned away the second constitutional challenge to the 2012 amendment to the Countervailing Duty law affirming the U.S. Department of Commerce’s ability to apply countervailing duties on imports from nonmarket economies like China. The CAFC held that the Amendment did not violate the U.S. Constitution’s Due Process Clause even though it applied the duties retroactively.

PROPOSED CHANGES TO ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW IN CUSTOMS TRADE ENFORCEMENT BILL

Accompanying the Trade Promotion Authority Bill is the attached Customs Enforcement Bill, the ‘‘Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015,” and its legislative history which includes minor changes to the antidumping and countervailing law and significant changes to the US Customs law to stop evasion of antidumping and countervailing duty law. LEGISLATIVE HISTORY TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL CUSTOMS AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT BILL

Although the bill has passed the Senate, there is a substantial question whether the House of Representatives will agree. One House aide expressed confidence that the provision would eventually become law. But Congressional and business sources have pointed out the possibility that the customs bill was merely a tool that Senate Finance leaders used to funnel amendments away from Trade Promotion Authority and other bills, and that it will never become law.

This is in part because there are key differences between the House and Senate bills, meaning the Senate and House will go to conference to negotiate a comprimise bill. Among these differences in the Customs/Trade bills are the ways the two bills address the evasion of antidumping and countervailing duties, and the inclusion in the Senate bill of changes to trade remedy law that make it easier for petitioners to secure the affirmative determination necessary for duties to be imposed. On April 29th, Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-UT) told reporters that he hoped the customs bill would become law, but did not provide strong assurances.

But on May 20, 2015, Senator Ron Wyden stated on the floor of the Senate that Chairman Paul Ryan has already agreed that there will be a conference committee on the Customs Enforcement Bill so a bill will pass both the Senate and the House, but what is that final bill after conference committee is still an open issue.

One key provision in the Customs and Trade Enforcement bill, however, would make currency manipulation a countervailable subsidy. Chairman Hatch has already stated on the Senate Floor if that provision is in the TPA bill it would not pass the House and would be vetoed by President Obama. If it passes the Senate, that provision will be thrown out by the House at the Conference Committee so the situation regarding this Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill is still very fluid and not settled yet in the Congress.

AMERICAN LAWYER ARTICLE ABOUT US TRADE ACTIONS AGAINST CHINA

On March 12, 2015, the American Lawyer published the attached article on The U.S. Offensive in the China Trade War, which quotes me extensively.  BETTER COPY The U.S. Offensive in the China Trade War _ The American Lawyer

STAINLESS STEEL SINKS

On April 30, 2015, the Commerce Department published the attached preliminary determination in the Stainless Steel Sinks case with dumping margins ranging from 0.81 to 5.55 %. DOC STEEL SINKS PRELIM Specifically the rates ranged from 0.81% for Guangdong Dongyuan Kitchenware Industrial Co., Ltd. to 5.55% for Guangdong Yingao Kitchen Utensils Co. with separate rates companies obtaining 2.14%.

The final determination will be in October. Attached is the Federal Register notice initiating the second antidumping and countervailing duty review investigations in the Stainless Steel Sinks case covering Chinese sinks imported during the antidumping review period April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015 and 2014, the countervailing duty review period. MAY INITIATIONS COMMERCE REVIEWS

BOLTLESS STEEL SHELVING

On March 25, 2015, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-prc-boltless-steel-shelving-ad-prelim-032515 the Commerce Department announced an affirmative preliminary determination in the antidumping (AD) case on Boltless Steel Shelving Units from China. Commerce found preliminary antidumping rates ranging from 22.64 percent to 112.68 percent.

ITC GOES NEGATIVE NO INJURY IN 53 FOOT DRY CONTAINERS ANTIDUMPING CASE AGAINST CHINA

On May 19, 2015, the United States International Trade Commission (USITC) determined that the establishment of a U.S. industry is not materially retarded by reason of imports of 53-foot domestic dry containers from China that Commerce determined are subsidized and sold in the United States at less than fair value. As a result of the ITC negative determinations no antidumping or countervailing duty orders will be issued on imports of these products from China.

COURT OF INTERNATIONAL TRADE RULES FOR CHINA IN TAISHAN KAM KIU AND SINCE HARDWARE CASES

In the attached two determinations, Since Hardware v. United States and Taishan Kam Kiu v. United States, SINCE HARDWARE TAISHAN CITY KAM KIU the Court of International Trade remanded the Ironing Tables and Aluminum Extrusions antidumping and countervailing duty determinations back to Commerce.

SOLAR PRODUCTS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY ORDERS

On February 18, 2015, the attached final antidumping and countervailing duty orders in the Solar Products cases from China and Taiwan were issued. SOLAR PRODUCTS TAIWAN AD ORDER AD CVD ORDERS SOLAR PRODUCTS CHINA

MAY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On May 1, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of May. MAY REVIEWS The specific antidumping cases against China are: Aluminum Extrusions, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, Citric Acid and Citrate Salt, Iron Construction Castings, Oil Country Tubular Goods, Pure Magnesium, and Stilbenic Optical Brightening Agents. The specific countervailing duty cases are: Aluminum Extrusions, Citric Acid and Citrate Salt, and Wind Towers.

For those US import companies that imported Aluminum Extrusions, Circular Steel Line Pipe, Citric Acid, Iron Construction Castings, Oil Country Tubular Goods, and Pure Magnesium and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period May 1, 2014-April 30, 2015 or during the countervailing duty review period of 2014 or if this is the First Review Investigation, for imports imported after the Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the initial investigation, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

Attached is the May 26th Federal Register notice initiating antidumping and countervailing duty review investigations against steel sinks, activated carbon, magnesium metal and steel threaded rod for imports during the period April 1, 2014 through March 31, 2015.  MAY INITIATIONS COMMERCE REVIEWS

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

This is also why the Import Alliance for America is so important for US importers, US end user companies and also Chinese 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.

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

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

See the Import Alliance website at http://www.importallianceforamerica.com.

We will be targeting two major issues—working for market economy treatment for China in 2016 as provided in the US China WTO Agreement for the benefit of importers 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.

We are now in the process of trying to gather importers to meet with various Congressional trade staff as soon as possible to discuss these issues. If you are interested, please contact the Import Alliance through its website or myself directly.

TRADE POLITICS AND TRADE AGREEMENTS

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

TRADE PROMOTION AUTHORITY (“TPA”) BATTLE IN THE SENATE

As stated above, with the passage of the TPA Bill at 9PM at night on May 22nd, the TPA battle moves to the House of Representatives. This section of the newsletter will provide more background on the TPA bill and the pressure on both the Senate and the House as the bill moves through Congress.

During the Senate debate, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah spoke against the enforcement provisions of the proposed currency manipulation amendment to the TPA bill because it will “kill” TPA. Instead, the Senate TPA bill would make currency manipulation a major negotiating objective.

But Democrats want more. They want enforcement actions against currency manipulation. But Senator Hatch is concerned that such a provision could be used against the United States.

Other Senators are worried about possible changes to US immigration laws, environmental and labor issues. USTR has been told in no uncertain terms that touching immigration is a third rail for trade policy, and USTR has stated during Hearings on Capitol Hill that there is nothing that would “change laws and regulations with respect to immigration,”

Although TPA passed the Senate, the vote in the U.S. House of Representatives is far more uncertain. Paul Ryan, however, Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, has pledged to take the TPA bill across the Finish Line so his credibility is riding on the bill.  That means the TPA bill should pass in the House, probably in June.

To summarize the situation, as mentioned in past newsletters, in the trade world, the most important developments may be the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trans-Atlantic (TA)/ the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership or TTIP negotiations and the WTO. The TPP is a free trade agreement being negotiated by officials from the U.S., Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. These trade negotiations could have a major impact on China trade, as trade issues become a focal point in Congress and certain Senators and Congressmen become more and more protectionist.

This has been a problem because the protectionism is coming from the Democratic side of the aisle. Democratic Senators and Congressmen are supported by labor unions. Although Democratic Congressmen have expressed interest in the TPP, to date, President Obama could not get one Democratic Congressman in the House of Representatives to openly co-sponsor 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 as soft on trade.

As mentioned in prior blog posts, on January 29, 2014, the day after President Obama pushed the TPA in his State of the Union speech in Congress, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid stated that the TPA bill would not be introduced on the Senate Floor.

But then came the November 4th Republican wave election changing Trade Politics dramatically in Washington DC. Elections have consequences and in 2015 Republicans have taken the Senate and increased their numbers in House. The TPA Bill has now passed the Senate. The Title of the Bill is the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015, which is posted above. The short tile of the bill is the Trade Act of 2015. The bill has been revised on the Senate Floor to add Trade Adjustment Assistance and a currency amendment, which are set forth above.

There are changes in the bill as compared to original 2014 Bill to increase transparency, but the major objective of the two bills is the same. 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.

One should understand that 90% of the negotiations of these Agreements are not conducted by political appointees of President Obama. Other than United States Trade Representative Michael Froman, who is respected by both Democrats and Republicans, most of the negotiators have been at the Office of USTR for years, if not decades, and are truly professional trade negotiators. So TPA does not truly cede power to President Obama. In fact, there will be substantial oversight of the trade negotiations by Congress.

Since my last blog post in mid-February, many groups, including 35 religious groups, labor unions, environmental and consumer advocacy organizations, complained that the Trade Negotiations are too secret and not subject to public scrutiny. At the same time, President Obama and the Administration have put on a full court press to pass the TPA.  As early as February 23, 2015, President Barack Obama used his national weekend address to repeat his call on Congress to give him Trade Promotion Authority (TPA), arguing that “95 percent of the world’s potential customers” live outside the U.S.:

“Many of them live in the Asia-Pacific — the world’s fastest-growing region. And as we speak, China is trying to write the rules for trade in the 21st century. That would put our workers and our businesses at a massive disadvantage. We can’t let that happen. We should write those rules. That’s why Congress should act on something called ‘trade promotion authority.”

“This is bipartisan legislation that would protect American workers, and promote American businesses, with strong new trade deals from Asia to Europe that aren’t just free, but are fair. It would level the playing field for American workers. It would hold all countries to the same high labor and environmental standards to which we hold ourselves.”

On March 11, 2015, the AFL-CIO upped the cost to Democrats of supporting the TPA legislation and the TPP deal, stating that it would freeze all political action committee donations to federal candidates until further notice. While Paul Ryan and President Obama were talking up TPA, on March 18, 2015 AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka vowed to kill the “rotten”.   As Trumka stated:

“Every single thing in our trade deals should be openly discussed and subject to public oversight and the full legislative process. There should be no question about that. Fast track is wrong and undemocratic, it’s a rotten process, and the American labor movement intends to kill it.”

In response to the Congressional criticism on transparency, on March 19, 2015 the Obama Administration announced new measures to provide lawmakers and their staff members the opportunity to review the TPP negotiating text. USTR set forth several changes to the USTR’s policies, the most important being placing the TPP text in the Capitol for members to view at their leisure without an administration official in attendance. Congressional members are also allowed to review the text with a personal staff member with security clearance.

Complaints, however, about access to the details of trade negotiating texts grew louder because the massive TPP deal would encompass 40 percent of global commerce. On March 26, 2015, it was reported that the protracted standoff between Wyden and Hatch centered around this very issue, transparency and oversight, with Wyden pushing for language that would make it easier for Congress to essentially “turn off” fast track with a resolution of disapproval if the negotiating standards are not met.

On March 25th, Wikileaks released a draft treaty of the TPP from the Investment Group, which led to a strong debate on Investor Arbitration Panels. This led to Senator Warren introducing an amendment to do away with investment panels, which was defeated on May 22nd, prior to the vote on the TPA. Public Citizen argued that the Investor State Dispute Settlement (“ISDS”) system provides foreign investors with more rights than those given to domestic firms and that the mechanism stands as an affront to a government’s right to regulate in the public’s interest.

On the other side, the National Association of Manufacturers praised the text and stated that the U.S. approach to investment talks has been a matter of public record for three years. As the NAM Vice President for International Economic Affairs Linda Dempsey stated:

“The investment provisions of our trade agreements, which are backed up by the neutral and well respected ISDS dispute settlement mechanism, are an important tool particularly for small and medium-size businesses that have been the most prevalent users of the ISDS dispute settlement mechanism.”

On March 26, 2016, Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, called for a “full-court press” on TPA, TPP, TTIP because expanding and deepening trade relationships provides stronger national security, stating:

“We also need Congress’ support for some of the most important investments we can make in our future prosperity—new trade agreements, including Trade Promotion Authority for the President. We must be allowed to clinch new and historic trade agreements spanning from Europe to Asia.

I offer this as a Secretary of Defense, convinced that a full-court press to strengthen our nation’s trade relationships will reinforce our nation’s security—while neglecting them could undercut it.

The arithmetic is straightforward.

We know that 95% of the world’s customers live beyond our borders, and the spending power of middle-class consumers in today’s emerging markets is expected to increase by 20 trillion dollars over the next decade. . . . And this trend will continue as Asia’s 570 million-strong middle class grows to about 2.7 billion consumers over the next 15 years. . . .

The bottom line is that, as global trade intensifies, we need to be both at the helm, and in the thick of it. Three years ago, trade accounted for about a third of global GDP. In a decade, it could approach half of global GDP. America’s economy, and our security that depends on it, cannot afford to be left behind. . . .

Shared growth generates magnetism: attracting new partners from around the region. While far from a guarantee, strong trade patterns also help build trust and raise the cost of conflict, while assuring our allies and partners of our long-term commitment to a shared and interdependent future…something that Secretary and General Marshall clearly understood.”

On March 26, 2015, former Republican and Democratic Commerce Secretaries, including Pete Peterson, Frederick Dent, Barbara Franklin, Mickey Kantor, William Daley, Norman Mineta, Donald Evans, Carlos Gutierrez, Gary Locke and John Bryson, urged Congress to pass the TPA Bill, but also argued that anti-currency manipulation should not be tied to trade deals.

On March 31, 2015, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., on Tuesday mounted a strong defense of the investor-state dispute settlement mechanism, blasting the system’s critics as “doomsayers” attempting to thwart the U.S. trade agenda with hyperbolic arguments, stating:

“The way [the critics] tell it, ISDS panels are corporate shills that gut public-safety regulations and undermine U.S. sovereignty. The truth is, there are few better tools for holding other countries accountable to the agreements they make — especially when they harm American job creators.”

Calling ISDS “one of the more mundane procedures of trade law,” Ryan stated that there is some version of the mechanism on the books in more than 3,000 trade and investment agreements around the globe, 90 percent of which have never even seen an investor dispute arise. Ryan also stated an ISDS panel does not have the power to change a country’s laws and can only fault the application of a given law.

On April 6, 2015, Defense Secretary Carter warned that “time’s running out” for the TPP deal. Failing to pass the proposed trade deal would cause the U.S. to “take ourselves out of the game”:

You may not expect to hear this from a Secretary of Defense, but in terms of our rebalance in the broadest sense, passing TPP is as important to me as another aircraft carrier. It would deepen our alliances and partnerships abroad and underscore our lasting commitment to the Asia-Pacific. And it would help us promote a global order that reflects both our interests and our values.”

On April 6, 2015, a bipartisan coalition of 76 U.S. Congress members in a letter to Representative Michael Froman and U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack urged the Obama administration to ensure that the final deal opens new doors for the dairy industry, particularly in Canada and Japan.

On April 16, 2015, Senators Hatch and Wyden introduced the final bipartisan TPA Bill, the “Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015”.

The 2015 TPA bill creates a new “transparency officer” in the USTR and establishes House and Senate advisory groups to oversee ongoing negotiations. Under the 2015 TPA bill, the Administration would also be required to make finalized trade deals available to the public for 60 days before Presidential signature and up to four months before a Congressional vote. If the deal does not meet Congressional objectives, a 60-vote majority in the Senate would strip the deal of fast-track protection and allow amendments.

But critics continued to attack the bill with AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka stating:

“We can’t afford another bad deal that lowers wages and outsources jobs,” That’s why Congress must reject Fast Track and maintain its constitutional authority and leverage to improve the TPP and other trade deals.”

On April 16th, USTR Froman made clear that the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) did not contain any changes to the US immigration system, telling lawmakers that no such modifications would be made, even though other nations involved in the negotiations are making temporary entry deals.

Although critics attacked the new TPA bill, American Agriculture Associations praised the new bill with one magazine reporting:

“Pork, corn, dairy, wheatyou name itthe American agriculture industry is standing firmly behind a new bipartisan trade promotion authority bill introduced last week.”

The Agriculture Associations supporting the bill include the American Farm Bureau, The National Association of Wheat Growers, The National Chicken Council, The National Pork Producers Council, The American Feed Industry Association, The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, The National Milk Producers Federation and the U.S. Dairy Export Council, The Corn Refiners Association, the Corn Growers Association, the American Soybean Association, and the USA Rice Federation.

On April 20, 2015, House Ways and Means released an e-mail stating:

TPA: Good for the Farm and Ranch

Support for TPA is strong among the American agriculture industry. Industry after industry has talked about how breaking down trade barriers is critical to selling more U.S. grown and raised food abroad. But the industry also supports TPA because of the important negotiating objectives that it lays out. These guidelines help ensure that the administration is making progress on issues important to American agriculture, like directing it to:

Obtain Enforceable SPS-Plus Rules: Directs the Administration to obtain robust and enforceable rules on sanitary and phytosanitary measures and require the use of science based standards.

End Improper Use of Geographical Indications: Seeks elimination of the improper use of GIs, including registration of generic terms, which undermine market access for U.S. products.

Maintain Domestic Protections: Ensures that countries may protect human, animal, or plant life or health, consistent with international obligations.

Address Tariff and Non-Tariff Barriers: Instructs USTR to reduce or eliminate tariff and non-tariff barriers, as well as subsidies that decrease market opportunities for U.S. exports.

Preserve Family Farm Supports: Includes provisions seeking preservation of family farms and rural communities.

Facilitate Import Relief: Ensures that import relief mechanisms for perishable and cyclical products are accessible and timely.

Assess Compliance with Existing Obligations: Requires USTR to evaluate whether countries have made meaningful agriculture commitments in the WTO and whether they are living up to their commitments in the WTO and under other trade agreements.

Ensure Special Consultations on Import-Sensitive Products: Takes into account the effect of trade agreements and negotiations on import-sensitive products, and requires additional Congressional consultations on such products.

Make Tariff-Rate Quota (TRQ) Administration Transparent: Ensures transparency in the administration of TRQ programs.

On April 21, 2015, Senator Orrin Hatch, Senate Finance Chairman, called arguments by Democratic Senators that Republicans were trying to ram the Bill through the Committee “nonsense”:

“This is well-covered territory for this committee. So, while I understand and respect that there are sincerely held views on this topic, some of which are different than mine, any arguments that we’ve been less than forthcoming and transparent with this TPA legislation are, not to put too fine a point on it, nonsense.”

Hatch further stated that the Finance Committee convened nine total trade hearings during the last session of Congress and has already held three such hearings in the 2015 session. Hatch also stated that the new TPA bill closely mirrors the bipartisan TPA legislation introduced in 2014 stating:

“True enough, in our discussions, Sen. Wyden, Chairman Ryan and I made some improvements to that original bill. But, the fundamentals remain the same, and we’ve been very transparent as to what the changes have been.”

On April 21, 2015 the American Textile Industry endorsed the TPA. The National Council of Textile Organizations announced, “We are pleased to lend our support to this renewal of Trade Promotion Authority.” The Council specifically stated that the US government supports a balanced outcome, including the yarn-forward rule of origin, which requires that the yarn production and all operations forward occur in either the United States or the territory of our trading partner.

On April 22, 2015, the TPA bill cleared the Senate Finance Committee and proceeded to a fight on Senate floor. Senator Ron Wyden, ranking Democratic Member, showing a profile in courage, led the negotiations with Paul Ryan in the House, and stated after the passage of the TPA Bill in the Committee:

“The U.S. is going to aim higher in trade deals, our enforcement will be much tougher, and the process of negotiating and voting on agreements will be more transparent and more democratic. This legislation will safeguard American sovereignty and promote American values. Congress will be sending U.S. trade policy in a more progressive direction than it ever has before.”

On April 23, 2015, President Obama stated that TPP will correct the shortcomings of the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) because TPP would put in place tough labor and environmental standards that NAFTA did not. TPP would also contain provisions fighting illegal wildlife trafficking and logging, and protecting oceans and against overfishing. Additionally, it would ensure an open Internet, protect consumers from fraud and deception, require anti-corruption and transparency measures and simplify export rules for small businesses. As President Obama stated,

“Trade has always been tough, and it’s always been tough especially in the Democratic Party. A lot of people are skeptical of trade deals, and a lot of times it’s for good reason. For decades now, technology made good jobs obsolete, global competition meant jobs were being shipped overseas, past trade deals didn’t always live up to the hype.

“[But] we’re not going to stop a global economy at our shores. That’s the wrong lesson to draw. We can’t go back to the past.”

Meanwhile, on April 23, 2015, the TPA bill cleared the House Ways and Means Committee with Chairman Paul Ryan stating:

“We have a unique opportunity to write the rules of these trade deals to tear down those barriers and open markets for American products. TPA will increase our bargaining power so we get the most effective trade deals possible — so we tear down more trade barriers and create more opportunity right here in America.”

In the Ways and Means Committee, Democrats were unable to amend the TPA’s language on foreign currency manipulation to enact enforceable rules that would punish trading partners for manipulating their currency to gain a competitive advantage.

On April 27, 2015, the House Ways and Means Committee announced that the High Tech Industry Backs TPA:

“There’s no doubt about it: The tech industry is going big for the Trade Priorities and Accountability Act. . . .These are America’s moviemakers, software developers, and computer manufacturers—the people who drive American innovation. They understand that promoting American trade requires protecting American intellectual property. That’s the only way to keep our competitive edge in the 21st century. And that’s exactly what TPA will do.

TPA lays out almost 150 negotiating objectives for the administration to pursue in trade deals. Among them is to “ensure that governments refrain from implementing trade-related measures that impede digital trade in goods and services, restrict cross-border data flows, or require local storage or processing of data.” . . . .

Microsoft’s general counsel Brad Smith echoed this sentiment:

“Passage of renewed TPA, with its updated objectives for digital trade, is critical for America to be able to pursue its interests. And passage is important for Microsoft and our network of more than 400,000 partners, the majority of which are small businesses, to compete in the global economy.”

On April 27, 2015, House Ways and Means announced that more Conservative organizations are speaking out in favor of TPA, stating in part:

“Just last week, Americans for Tax Reform and 19 other conservative groups signed a letter in support of TPA. . . . The American Conservative Union, Citizens for Limited Taxation, Americans for Job Security, the National Taxpayers Union, the Competitive Enterprise Institute—all voiced their support for expanding American trade.

The editors at Investor’s Business Daily echo this argument:

[TPP] also would reinforce the American presence on the Pacific Rim through economic strengthening, offsetting at least to some extent President Obama’s deep naval defense cuts.

But the main thing is, for every party involved, it would contribute to decades of prosperity and economic growth, as study after study on the impact of free trade agreements has found.”

On April 27, 2015, from a Ways and Means Press Release, Paul Ryan in a radio address, on the show Morning in America, made the case for TPA, stating:

“The reason we need trade agreements with other countries is twofold.

Ninety six percent of the world’s consumers live in other countries; they don’t live in our country. And if we want to have a mature economy where we have more jobs, higher-paying jobs, we have to make and grow more things in America and sell them overseas so we can keep full employment—you know, more people working. So we have to open [markets] to our products. That’s point number one.

“Point number two is all these other countries are going around getting trade agreements for their countries that are better, that give them more access to these foreign markets. And, as a result, Americans don’t get access to those markets, which means we face higher barriers and we can’t sell our products to other markets. China is a perfect example. They’re running around the world right now trying to get better trade agreements to meet China’s needs, to run by China’s rules. And so, right now what’s happening in this global economy is the rules of the global economy are being written, and the question for us is: ‘Who writes those rules?’ Is it China writing those rules, for China’s benefit? Or are we going to write the rules, for our benefit?”

On holding the administration accountable:

“Trade promotion authority is done in a way this time very differently than others because of our mistrust of the executive. So, we tell the executive—meaning, in this case, Obama—and the next president: Here’s what you need to put in a trade agreement, here’s how you go about getting it. You have to be transparent. Members of Congress have to see it. The public has to see these agreements before they’re signed to. And Congress reserves the power to veto it. Congress gets the final say. Congress has to approve it. And if the president doesn’t put together the kind of trade agreement, the process we spell out, then we can say: ‘You didn’t do it the right way.’ And we can revoke trade promotion authority and that trade agreement. So, we’re putting sort of a belts-and suspenders approach to making Congress, the legislative branch, in charge of this so that the executive cannot go beyond his reach.”

On leveling the playing field for American workers and job creators:

“[W]e think we have done this in the right way, and the president has to go out and get the right kind of an agreement. We want to open our dairy markets. We want to open our agriculture markets, our manufacturing. Here’s the deal . … We already give these countries—in this particular case I’m talking about Asia, non-China Asian countries—we already give them pretty good access to our country. Just walk into Wal-Mart or Farm & Fleet or wherever you go, and you’ll see a bunch of goods made in Asian countries. The problem is they don’t give us the same kind of access to their markets. So what we’re trying to get here is the same kind of access to their markets that they have to ours and to give us zero tariffs.”

In response to the TPA movement, however, on April 28th, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka repeated labor’s stance against TPA, TPP and all free trade agreements:

“All across the country, workers are leading a fierce and broad social movement to defeat fast track. We are rebelling against corporate-written free trade agreements — and we are succeeding.”

The labor movement opposes fast-track. We expect those who seek to lead our nation forward to oppose fast-track. There is no middle ground … [and] in the 2016 campaign, there will be no place to hide for those who aspire to lead America.”

On April 30th Paul Ryan issued another press release from the House Ways and Means Committee stating that the way to hold President Obama accountable is TPA:

The bottom line is, TPA will make the trade negotiations much more transparent and hold the president accountable. Here are the top eight ways TPA will empower Congress:

  • Read the negotiating text

Right now, nothing requires the administration to allow a member of Congress to read the negotiating text of an agreement. But under TPA, every member will be able to read the text of the agreement all throughout the talks.

  1. Receive up-to-date briefings

Sometimes, reading the text isn’t enough. A member of Congress wants to know where the talks are headed. TPA will require the U.S. trade representative’s (USTR) office to brief any member who asks on the status of the negotiations.

  1. Attend negotiating rounds

If that’s not enough, how about actually attending the talks? Under TPA, any interested member will be able to become a “congressional adviser” to U.S. negotiators. All designated congressional advisers will be able to attend negotiating rounds.

  1. Consult with negotiators

TPA will also create House and Senate Advisory Groups on Negotiations to oversee the talks and receive regular briefings, according to a fixed timetable. Any member will be able to submit his or her views to the group.

  1. Provide public summaries

Right now, there’s little public information about how an agreement is shaping up. TPA will require USTR to post up-to-date summaries of each chapter of the agreement so people can see what’s up.

  1. Create a new transparency officer

TPA will create a chief transparency officer at USTR that will consult with Congress and the public on transparency policies.

  1. Make the text public

The ultimate judge is the American people, so they should be able to read the text themselves. For the first time ever, TPA will codify in law the public’s right to review the agreement before the President puts his signature on it. TPA will require the administration to publish the text of a completed trade agreement at least 60 days before agreeing to it. That’s even before Congress considers a vote.

  1. Tell Congress how he will implement the agreement

Finally, at least 30 days before Congress considers the final bill, the president must tell Congress how he intends to enact the agreement if Congress passes the implementing bill.

All of these tools will shed greater light on the negotiations. We need them to get the most effective trade deals possible. We need them to hold the president accountable. And that’s why we need to establish TPA.

Meanwhile on May 5, 2015, Senator Harry Reed announced that he would convince his fellow Democrats to hold off on a TPA vote until the passage of highway infrastructure funding and surveillance legislation. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, however, rejected the Reid motion and pushed on.

On May 6, 2015, a Press Release from the House Ways and Means Committee stated:

Opponents of free trade agreements are raising a stink about transparency in trade negotiations. But the truth is, if they really want to shed light on the negotiations, the best thing they can do is pass trade promotion authority (TPA). . . .

Most notably, TPA requires the president to make public the text of a trade agreement at least 60 days before he finalizes it. And at least 30 days before he submits an implementing bill to Congress, the president must send the final legal text of the agreement and a description of how he proposes to implement the agreement. So long before the agreement comes up for a vote, the American people will have plenty of time to read and debate it. . . .

So, question: How can we make trade negotiations more transparent?

Answer: Pass TPA.

On May 8th, a bipartisan collection of former US defense secretaries, including Harold Brown, William S. Cohen, Robert M. Gates, Chuck Hagel, Leon E. Panetta, William J. Perry, Donald H. Rumsfeld along with well-known Generals, such as General David H. Petraeus and General Colin Powell, called for passage of TPA, stating:

We write to express our strongest possible support for the enactment of Trade Promotion Authority legislation, which is critical to the successful conclusion of two vital trade agreements: the . . . TPP . . . and the TTIP.

While the economic benefits of both these agreements would be substantial, as former Secretaries of Defense and military leaders we believe there is an equally compelling strategic rationale for TPP and TTIP.

First and foremost, the conclusion of these agreements would be a powerful symbol of continued U.S. leadership and engagement globally. They would reinforce relationships with important allies and partners in critical regions of the world. By binding us closer together with Japan, Vietnam, Malaysia and Australia, among others, TPP would strengthen existing and emerging security relationships in the Asia-Pacific, and reassure the region of America’s long-term staying power. In Europe, TTIP would reinvigorate the transatlantic partnership and send an equally strong signal about the commitment of the United States to our European allies.

The successful conclusion of TPP and TTIP would also draw in other nations and encourage them to undertake political and economic reforms. The result will be deeper regional economic integration, increased political cooperation, and ultimately greater stability in the two regions of the world that will have the greatest long-term impact on U.S. prosperity and security.

Indeed, TPP in particular will shape an economic dynamic over the next several decades that will link the United States with one of the world’s most vibrant and dynamic regions. If, however, we fail to move forward with TPP, Asian economies will almost certainly develop along a China-centric model. In fact, China is already pursuing an alternative regional free trade initiative. TPP, combined with T-TIP, would allow the United States and our closest allies to help shape the rules and standards for global trade.

The stakes are clear. There are tremendous strategic benefits to TPP and TTIP, and there would be harmful strategic consequences if we fail to secure these agreements. In both Asia-Pacific and the Atlantic, our allies and partners would question our commitments, doubt our resolve, and inevitably look to other partners. America’s prestige, influence, and leadership are on the line. With TPP originating in the Bush administration, these agreements are fundamentally bipartisan in nature and squarely in our national security interest. It is vitally important that we seize the new strategic opportunities these agreements offer our nation.

Despite criticism from fellow Democrats, on May 8, 2015, President Obama responded to the Democratic critics of the TPA bill at Nike’s headquarters in Oregon, home state for Senator Ron Wyden, stating:

“Vietnam would actually for the first time have to raise its labor standards. It would have to set a minimum wage. It would have to pass safe workplace laws to protect its workers. It would even have to protect workers’ freedom to form unions for the very first time. That would make a difference.”

On May 22, 2015, just prior to the passage of the TPA, on the Senate Floor Senator Orrin Hatch, in the attached speech, HATCH SPEECH ON CURRENCY MANIPULATION responded to the attempt to amend the TPA bill and add the Currency Amendment of Senators Portman and Stabenow.  Senator Hatch stated in part:

Mr. President, I want to take some time today to talk about proposals to include a currency manipulation negotiating objective in trade negotiations and the impact this issue is having on the debate over renewing Trade Promotion Authority, or TPA.

Currency manipulation has, for many, become the primary issue in the TPA debate. . . .However, I want to be as plain as I can be on this issue: While currency manipulation is an important issue, it is inappropriate and counterproductive to try to solve this problem solely through free trade agreements.

Nonetheless, I do not believe we should ignore currency manipulation, which is why, for the very first time, our TPA bill would elevate currency practices to a principal negotiation objective. This is important. It means that, if the administration fails to make progress in achieving this or any other objectives laid out in the bill, then the relevant trade agreement is subject to a procedural disapproval resolution . . . .

Of course, I understand that a number of my colleagues want to see more prescriptive language, which would limit the range of tools available and require that trade sanctions be used to keep monetary policies in line. . . .

But, first, I think we need to step back and take a look at the big picture. I think I can boil this very complicated issue down to a single point: The Portman-Stabenow Amendment will kill TPA.

I’m not just saying that, Mr. President. It is, at this point, a verifiable fact.

Yesterday, I received a letter from Treasury Secretary Lew outlining the Obama Administration’s opposition to this amendment. The letter addresses a number of issues, some which I’ll discuss later. But, most importantly, at the end of the letter, Secretary Lew stated very plainly that he would recommend that the President veto a TPA bill that included this amendment.

That’s pretty clear, Mr. President. It doesn’t leave much room for interpretation or speculation. No TPA bill that contains the language of the Portman-Stabenow Amendment stands a chance of becoming law. . . .

at this point, it is difficult – very difficult, in fact – for anyone in this chamber to claim that they support TPA and still vote in favor of the Portman-Stabenow Amendment. The two, as of yesterday, have officially become mutually exclusive. . . .

But, regardless of what you think of Secretary Lew’s letter, the Portman-Stabenow Amendment raises enough substantive policy concerns to warrant opposition on its own. Offhand, I can think of four separate consequences that we’d run into if the Senate were to adopt this amendment, and all of them would have a negative impact on U.S. economic interests.

First, the Portman-Stabenow negotiating objective would put the TPP, agreement at grave risk, meaning that our farmers, ranchers, and manufactures – not to mention the workers they employ – would not get access to these important foreign markets, resulting in fewer good, high-paying jobs for American workers.

We know this is the case, Mr. President. Virtually all of our major negotiating partners, most notably Japan, have already made clear that they will not agree to an enforceable provisions like the one required by the Portman-Stabenow Amendment. No country that I am aware of, including the United States, has ever shown the willingness to have their monetary policies subject to potential trade sanctions. Adopting this amendment will have, at best, an immediate chilling effect on the TPP negotiations, and, at worst, it will stop them in their tracks.

If you don’t believe me, then take a look at the letter we received from 26 leading food and agriculture organizations . . . urging Congress to reject the Portman-Stabenow amendment because it will, in their words, “most likely kill the TPP negotiations” Put simply, not only will this amendment kill TPA, it will very likely kill TPP as well.

Second, the Portman-Stabenow Amendment would put at risk the Federal Reserve’s independence in its ability to formulate and execute monetary policies designed to protect and stabilize the U.S. economy. While some in this chamber have made decrees that our domestic monetary policies do not constitute currency manipulation, we know that not all of our trading partners see it that way.

Requiring the inclusion of enforceable rules on currency manipulation and subsequent trade sanctions in our free trade agreements would provide other countries with a template for targeting U.S. monetary policies, subjecting our own agencies and policies to trade disputes and adjudication in international trade tribunals. We have already heard accusations in international commentaries by foreign finance ministers and central bankers that our own Fed has manipulated the value of the dollar to gain trade advantage.

If the Portman-Stabenow language is adopted into TPA and these rules become part of our trade agreements, how long do you think it will take for our trading partners to enter disputes and seek remedies against Federal Reserve quantitative easing policies? Not long, I’d imagine.

If the Portman-Stabenow objective becomes part of our trade agreements, we will undoubtedly see formal actions to impose sanctions on U.S. trade, under the guise that the Federal Reserve has manipulated our currency for trade advantage. We’ll also be hearing from other countries that Fed policy is causing instability in their financial markets and economies and, unless the Fed takes a different path, those countries could argue for relief or justify their own exchange-rate policies to gain some trade advantage for themselves.

While we may not agree with those allegations, the point is that, under the Portman-Stabenow formulation, judgments and verdicts on our policies will be taken out of our hands and, rather, can be rendered by international trade tribunals. . . .

Put simply, we cannot enforce rules against unfair exchange rate practices if we do not have information about them. Under the Portman-Stabenow Amendment, our trading partners are far more likely to engage in interventions in the shadows, hiding from detection out of fear that they could end up being subjected to trade sanctions.

Mr. President, for these reasons and others, the Portman-Stabenow Amendment is the wrong approach. Still, I do recognize that currency manipulation is a legitimate concern, and one that we need to address in a serious, thoughtful way.

Toward that end, Senator Wyden and I have filed an amendment that would expand on the currency negotiating objective that is already in the TPA bill to give our country more tools to address currency manipulation without the problems and risks that would come part and parcel with the Portman-Stabenow Amendment. . . .

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSITANCE PROGRAM—REAUTHORIZATION

As stated in my last blog posts, I have made the case for the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Firms/Companies, which has been cut to $12.5 million nationwide. The TAA Bill, which is attached to the TPA bill, in the Senate brings the TAA for Firms program back to $16 million. In the House, however, TAA has been cut to $12.5 million. So the question is what happens in the Conference Committee?

To summarize the history, at the end of 2014, because of the efforts of Senator Sherrod Brown and Congressmen Adam Smith, Derek Kilmer and Sander Levin in the House, the TAA for Firms/Companies program was reauthorized in the Cromnibus Bill, which went through the Senate and the House and was signed into law by President Obama. Although Senator Brown advocated that the assistance for US companies in the TAA for Firms program be increased to $50 million, in fact, the program was cut from $16 million to $12.5M.

As the TPP, TTIP and other trade agreements come into force changing the US market by government action with the force of a government tsunami, TAA for firms/companies is the only program that will give companies the tools they need to adjust to increased trade/import competition from so many different countries.

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

On May 21, 2015, the Commerce Department announced changes to the export rules to allow unlicensed delivery of Internet technology to Crimea region of Ukraine, saying the change will allow the Crimean people to reclaim the narrative of daily life from their Russian occupants. Under the attached final rule, FINAL COMMERCE RULE, individuals and companies may deliver source code and technology for “instant messaging, chat and email, social networking” and other programs to the region without first retaining a license from the federal government, according to Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.

Commerce stated:

“Facilitating such Internet-based communication with the people located in the Crimea region of Ukraine is in the United States’ national security and foreign policy interests because it helps the people of the Crimea region of Ukraine communicate with the outside world.”

On September 3, 2014, I spoke in Vancouver Canada on the US Sanctions against Russia, which are substantial, at an event sponsored by Deloitte Tax Law and the Canadian, Eurasian and Russian Business Association (“CERBA”). Attached to my blog are copies of the PowerPoint or the speech and a description of our Russian/Ukrainian/Latvian Trade Practice for US importers and exporters. In addition, the blog describes the various sanctions in effect against Russia.

Pursuant to the OFAC regulations, U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting transactions, dealings, or business with Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDNs). The blocked persons list can be found at http://sdnsearch.ofac.treas.gov/. See also: www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/programs/pages/ukraine.aspx . The list includes the Russian company, United Shipbuilding, and a number of Russian Banks, including Bank Rossiya, SMP Bank, Bank of Moscow, Gazprombank OAO, Russian Agricultural Bank, VEB, and VTB Bank. The “Sectoral Sanctions Identification List” (the “SSI List”) that identifies specific Russian persons and entities covered by these sectoral sanctions can be found at www.treasury.gov/resource-center/sanctions/SDN-List/pages/ssi_list.aspx.

The sanctions will eventually increase more with the Congressional passage of the Ukraine Freedom Support Act, which is attached to my blog, which President Obama signed into law on December 19, 2014. Although the law provides for additional sanctions if warranted, at the time of the signing, the White House stated:

“At this time, the Administration does not intend to impose sanctions under this law, but the Act gives the Administration additional authorities that could be utilized, if circumstances warranted.”

The law provides additional military and economic assistance to Ukraine. According to the White House, instead of pursuing further sanctions under the law, the administration plans to continue collaborating with its allies to respond to developments in Ukraine and adjust its sanctions based on Russia’s actions. Apparently the Administration wants its sanctions to parallel those of the EU. As President Obama stated:

“We again call on Russia to end its occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea, cease support to separatists in eastern Ukraine, and implement the obligations it signed up to under the Minsk agreements.”

Russia, however responded in defiance with President Putin blasting the sanctions and a December 20th Russian ministry statement spoke of possible retaliation.

One day after signing this bill into law, the President issued an Executive Order “Blocking Property of Certain Persons and Prohibiting Certain Transactions with Respect to the Crimea Region of Ukraine” (the “Crimea-related Executive Order”). President Obama described the new sanctions in a letter issued by the White House as blocking:

New investments by U.S. persons in the Crimea region of Ukraine

Importation of goods, services, or technology into the United States from the Crimea region of Ukraine

Exportation, re-exportation, sale, or supply of goods, services, or technology from the United States or by a U.S. person to the Crimea region of Ukraine

The facilitation of any such transactions.

The Crimea-related Executive Order also contains a complicated asset-blocking feature. Pursuant to this order, property and interests in property of any person may be blocked if determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, that the person is operating in Crimea or involved in other activity in Crimea.

The EU has also issued sanctions prohibiting imports of goods originating in Crimea or Sevastopol, and providing financing or financial assistance, as well as insurance and reinsurance related to the import of such goods. In addition, the EU is blocking all foreign investment in Crimea or Sevastopol.

Thus any US, Canadian or EU party involved in commercial dealings with parties in Crimea or Sevastopol must undertake substantial due diligence to make sure that no regulations in the US or EU are being violated.

CUSTOMS

There are significant changes to Customs law in the Customs and Trade Enforcement Bill, formerly The Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (“TFTEA”), which passed the Senate on May 11, 2015. Some of those provisions include tough enforcement provisions for evasion of US antidumping and countervailing duty laws. The question, however, is whether these changes will ever become law because the Bill has to pass the House and then go to Conference Committee.

PRODUCTS LIABILITY AND TRADE—HOW CHINESE ACTIONS CAN DESTROY LARGE US IMPORT COMPANIES/RETAILERS

Quality problems with Chinese imported products can hit US import companies and retailers like a trade tsunami, potentially driving large US companies out of business. Nothing illustrates this problem better than the major issues facing Lumber Liquidators because of imports of low quality, high formaldehyde laminate flooring from China.

Lumber Liquidators Inc. has been hit with close to a hundred class action complaints for products liability, consumer actions and even securities cases because of its sale of formaldehyde-laden Chinese flooring. The Actions accuse Lumber Liquidators of defrauding US consumers by falsely stating that its Laminate Flooring meet state emissions standards for the toxic Formaldehyde chemical.

The Complaints allege that Lumber Liquidators routinely sells Chinese-made flooring that greatly exceeds California and other State Air Resource Board standards for safe formaldehyde emissions. Yet Lumber Liquidators advertises on its website and elsewhere that it ensures all of its suppliers comply with California’s “advanced environmental requirements,” even for products sold in other states.

These Actions have originated from a 60 Minutes program, a well-known nationwide news investigative program, which revealed that independent testing of dozens of boxes of Chinese flooring from Lumber Liquidators stores in four states, revealed that all but one of the samples surpassed the California Formaldehyde limit and some went more than 13 times beyond the mark. This 60 Minutes New Report led to the filing of dozens of lawsuits against Lumber Liquidators under Products Liability law and consumer protection/false advertising law. Reportedly the number of complaints is now over one hundred.

Meanwhile, in Sept. 2013, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement service carried out a search warrant at Lumber Liquidator’s corporate offices in Richmond, Virginia.  Multiple media reports have reported that the raid was linked to wood suspected of having originated from the Siberian tiger’s habitat.

On March 25, 2015, the U.S. Consumer Protection Safety Commission (“CSPC”) announced that it was investigating the formaldehyde content of Chinese laminate tile flooring imported by Lumber Liquidators Inc. following the 60 Minutes investigation. In a 2013 report, the CPSC said formaldehyde has been linked to cancer in humans and lab animals but added that some people are more susceptible to the chemical effects than others. In response to the announcement, Lumber Liquidators reported that it was cooperating with other agencies, including the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Centers for Disease Control, Federal Trade Commission and others.

On April 29th, Lumber Liquidators announced that in addition to the more than 100 class action cases filed against it, the US Justice Department (“DOJ”) will seek criminal charges against Lumber Liquidators for violating a conservation law in connection with imported wood flooring products. Specifically the DOJ stated that it is seeking criminal charges under the Lacey Act, a conservation law that prohibits import of products made from illegally logged woods.

With all the class action cases, earnings fell, which resulted in a Securities Class Action against Lumber Liquidators by stock investors alleging securities fraud, arguing that its record-high profits were based on creative “sourcing initiatives” when in fact they came from illegal wood harvesting and the sale of cheap formaldehyde laced floors. The company and its entire board of directors were named as defendants in the April 15 derivative complaint by Amalgamated Bank, the trustee for an index fund that has invested in Lumber Liquidators stock. See actual complaint below.

Specifically, the securities complaint alleged that Lumber Liquidators reported gross margins that were significantly higher than those of its major competitors, Home Depot and Lowe’s Companies Inc., because partnerships in China allowed it to cut out middlemen and work directly with suppliers. In reality, the company was buying engineered and laminate flooring manufactured in China that contained and emitted dangerously high and illegal levels of formaldehyde, as well as wood that had been illegally harvested from protected forests in the Russia, home to the critically endangered Siberian tiger and Far East leopard.

According to the suit, the directors breached their duties to shareholders by failing to prevent possible violations of environmental and consumer protection laws and by failing to disclose the illicit practices in public U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings. As the Complaint states at paragraph 14:

“Moreover, as a result of defendants’ breaches of their fiduciary duties, the Company is now subject to several complex and expensive securities class action lawsuits alleging violations of the CARB Regulations; the Lacey Act; the Racketeer Influenced & Corrupt Organizations Act (“RICO”); the Magnuson -Moss Warranty Act; breach of express and implied warranties; violation of Consumer Protection/Deceptive Practices acts; unjust enrichment; and lawsuits alleging violations of California’s Proposition 65. On March 10, 2015, The New York Times reported that the Attorney General of New York, Eric T. Schneiderman, had opened an inquiry into whether the Company violated safety standards and that officials in California are also likely to investigate.”

According to paragraph 17 of the complaint,

“Although Lumber Liquidators has been severely injured, defendants [Board Members] have not fared nearly so badly. During the relevant time period, defendants collectively pocketed millions in salaries, fees, stock options, illicit insider trading profits and other payments that were not justified in light of the violations of state and federal law at Lumber Liquidators that occurred on their watch. . . .”

According to the shareholders, the scandals have exposed Lumber Liquidators to “millions of dollars in potential liability” from various investigators and allegedly wiped out more than $1.2 billion in shareholder equity. As further stated in paragraph 116 of the complaint:

“Moreover, these actions have irreparably damaged Lumber Liquidators’ ‘environmentally conscientious’ corporate image. For at least the foreseeable future, Lumber Liquidators will suffer from what is known as the ‘liar’s discount,’ a term applied to the stocks of companies that have been implicated in improper behavior and have misled the investing public, such that Lumber Liquidators’ ability to raise equity capital or debt on favorable terms in the future is now impaired.”

The Complaint also details the allegations against Lumber Liquidator’s Chinese suppliers at paragraphs 82-96, stating in part in paragraph 98:

Moreover, defendants were fully aware of the risks of importing wood from China-a country often associated with the export of wood products with excess formaldehyde levels and illegally sourced timber. For example, in February 2012, the leading Chinese hardwood flooring company, Anxin Weiguang Flooring, was forced to pull its wood flooring products from shelves pending an investigation by Shanghai’s Bureau of Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine because of claims that the flooring emitted excessive levels of formaldehyde. One study, entitled “Formaldehyde in China: Production, consumption, exposure levels, and health effects,” 35 Environment Int’l (Nov. 2009), found that over the last 20 years, China’s formaldehyde industry has experienced unprecedented growth, and now produces and consumes one-third of the world’s formaldehyde. More than 65% of the Chinese formaldehyde output is used to produce resins which are mainly found in wood products. These are also the major source of indoor air pollution in China. The study documented numerous instances of hazardous occupational exposure to formaldehyde in Chinese wood workers.

On May 7, 2015, Lumber Liquidators announced that it was suspending sales of laminate flooring from China that prosecutors and consumers have alleged contain toxic levels of the building chemical formaldehyde, and will conduct a review of its suppliers who had labeled the product as meeting California’s limits for the carcinogenic chemical. Lumber Liquidators also hired former Federal Bureau of Investigation director Louis Freeh’s consulting firm to advise it on compliance issues.

On May 21, 2015, Lumber Liquidators announced that its CEO Robert M. Lynch has resigned “unexpectedly”.

The Lumber Liquidators problems illustrate the importance of quality control of Chinese products and how actions in China can seriously damage, if not destroy, their US customers, well-known US companies and brands.

SOME OF THE LUMBER LIQUIDATOR COMPLAINTS

False Advertising and Consumer Protection

On March 6, 2015 Sara Latta filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. LATTALL

On March 9, 2015, Jerry Green and Twala Scott filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. GREEN LL

On March 12, 2015, Mary Kleinsasser filed the attached class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. KLEINASSERLL

On March 12, 2015, Adam White and Julia White a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. WHITE LUMBER

On March 27, 2015, Thomas P. Phelan filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. PHELAN LUMBER LIQUIDATORS

On March 27, 2015, James Silverthorn filed a class action case against Lumber Liquidators for false advertising and consumer protection violations. SILVERTHORN LUMBER

SECURITIES CASES AGAINST LUMBER LIQUIDATORS

On April 15, 2015, Amalgamated Bank filed the attached shareholder derivative complaint for breach of fiduciary duty, corporate waste and unjust enrichment against Lumber Liquidators and its directors and officer. AMALGAMATED BANK LUMBER LIQUIDATORS CASE

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

CAFC MAKES DOMESTIC INDUSTRY AN ISSUE IN 337 CASES

Under section 337, owners of US patents, trademarks and copyrights can filed a case against infringing imports. After a year-long proceeding before an Administrative Law Judge and the ITC itself, if the Commission finds that these unfair imports have injured a US industry, it can issue an exclusion order and the infringing imports will be kept out at the border.

On May 11, 2015 in the attached decision, Lelo Inc, v, International Trade Commission, CAFC LELO DOMESTIC INDUSTRY, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) increased the domestic industry standard, reversing the ITC and determining that there was no domestic industry in a section 337 case, stating:

In Certain Kinesiotherapy Devices and Components Thereof, Inv. No. 337-TA-823, Initial Determination at 50 (Jan. 8, 2013) (“Initial Determination”), “the Administrative Law Judge determined initially that the domestic industry requirement had not been met because the ALJ rejected Plaintiff’s arguments that its U.S. purchase of the four components constituted a “significant investment in plant and equipment,” or a “substantial investment in its exploitation, including engineering, research and development, or licensing,” under prongs (A) and (C), respectively, of the § 337 domestic industry requirement.”

Specifically, the ALJ concluded that Standard Innovation’s U.S. purchases were not relevant to a prong (A) analysis because Standard Innovation failed to establish what portion, if any, the purchase price actually contributed towards a domestic investment in plant or equipment. . . . The ALJ also decided that the components were off-the-shelf items and not relevant to prong (C) because there was no proof that the components were developed specifically for Standard Innovation’s devices, or what portion, if any, of the purchase price was allocable to research and development costs incurred in the development of the components.

Further, the ALJ determined that even if the purchases were relevant, they were neither “substantial” nor “significant” under prongs (A) or (C). . . . . The total purchase prices accounted for less than five percent of the total raw cost of the devices.

The CAFC went on to state:

The Commission, however, reversed the ALJ’s domestic industry determination, finding that “Standard Innovation has satisfied the domestic industry requirement based on its expenditures on components produced domestically that are critical to [its devices].” . . .The Commission rejected the ALJ’s economic prong analysis because Standard Innovation “established that the components were critical for [its devices], which the ALJ found to be protected by the patent. This is sufficient for us to consider the component expenses in our economic prong analysis.”

The CAFC found:

The Commission determined that Standard Innovation’s investment and employment under prongs (A) and (B) were quantitatively “modest,” . . ., which we take to mean “insignificant.” The Commission also found that Standard Innovation did not establish prong (C). . . . We agree with the Commission’s finding that investment and employment under prongs (A) and (B) were modest and insignificant. The Commission erred when it disregarded the quantitative data to reach its domestic industry finding based on qualitative factors. Qualitative factors cannot compensate for quantitative data that indicate insignificant investment and employment. As such, Standard Innovation did not establish a “significant” “investment” or “employment” under prongs (A) or (B), and did not set forth evidence of relevant investments under prong (C). Accordingly, Standard Innovation did not satisfy the domestic industry requirement of § 337.

The CAFC then determined:

We hold that qualitative factors alone are insufficient to show “significant investment in plant and equipment” and “significant employment of labor or capital” under prongs (A) and (B) of the § 337 domestic industry requirements. The purchase of so called “crucial” components from third-party U.S. suppliers are insufficient to satisfy the “significant investment” or “significant employment of labor or capital” criteria of § 337 where there is an absence of evidence that connects the cost of the components to an increase of investment or employment in the United States.

NEW 337 COMPLAINTS

On April 30, 2015, Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc. filed a new section 337 case at the ITC against imports of Electric Skin Care Devices, Brushes, Chargers and Kits Containing Same from the follow companies:

Our Family Jewels, Inc. d/b/a Epipur Skincare, Parker, CO; Accord Media, LLC d/b/a Truth in Aging, New York, NY; Xnovi Electronic Co., Ltd., China; Michael Todd True Organics LP. Port St. Lucie, FL; Mtto LLC, Fort St. Lucie, FL; Shanghai Anzikang Electronic Co., Ltd., China; Nutra-Luxe M.D., LLC, Fort Myers, FL; Beauty Tech, Inc., Coral Gables, FL; Anex Corporation, Korea; RN Ventures Ltd., United Kingdom; Korean Beauty Co., Ltd., Korea; H2Pro Beautylife, Inc., Placentia, CA; Serious Skin Care, Inc., Carson City, NV; Home Skinovations Inc., Canada; Home Skinovations Ltd., Israel; Wenzhou AI ER Electrical Technology Co., Ltd. d/b/a Cnaier, China; Coreana Cosmetics Co., Ltd., Korea; and Flageoli Classic Limited, Las Vegas, NV

PATENT AND OTHER INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY CASES

SIX CHINESE CITIZENS CHARGED WITH ECONOMIC ESPIONAGE

On May 19, 2015, the US Justice Department announced that it has indicted six Chinese individuals for economic espionage. The Justice Department stated in the attached announcement, DOJ CHINA PROFESSORS:

Chinese Professors Among Six Defendants Charged with Economic Espionage and Theft Of Trade Secrets for Benefit of People’s Republic of China

Chinese Professors Alleged to Have Stolen Valuable Technology from Avago Technologies and Skyworks Solutions to Benefit a PRC University

On May 16, 2015, Tianjin University Professor Hao Zhang was arrested upon entry into the United States from the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in connection with a recent superseding indictment in the Northern District of California . . . .

The 32-count indictment, which had previously been sealed, charges a total of six individuals with economic espionage and theft of trade secrets for their roles in a long-running effort to obtain U.S. trade secrets for the benefit of universities and companies controlled by the PRC government.

“According to the charges in the indictment, the defendants leveraged their access to and knowledge of sensitive U.S. technologies to illegally obtain and share U.S. trade secrets with the PRC for economic advantage,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Economic espionage imposes great costs on American businesses, weakens the global marketplace and ultimately harms U.S. interests worldwide. The National Security Division will continue to relentlessly identify, pursue and prosecute offenders wherever the evidence leads. . . .

“As today’s case demonstrates, sensitive technology developed by U.S. companies in Silicon Valley and throughout California continues to be vulnerable to coordinated and complex efforts sponsored by foreign governments to steal that technology,” said U.S. Attorney Haag. “Combating economic espionage and trade secret theft remains one of the top priorities of this Office.” . . .

According to the indictment, PRC nationals Wei Pang and Hao Zhang met at a U.S. university in Southern California during their doctoral studies in electrical engineering. While there, Pang and Zhang conducted research and development on thin-film bulk acoustic resonator (FBAR) technology under funding from U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). After earning their doctorate in approximately 2005, Pang accepted employment as an FBAR engineer with Avago Technologies (Avago) in Colorado and Zhang accepted employment as an FBAR engineer with Skyworks Solutions Inc. (Skyworks) in Massachusetts. The stolen trade secrets alleged in the indictment belong to Avago or Skyworks.

Avago is a designer, developer and global supplier of FBAR technology, which is a specific type of radio frequency (RF) filter.

Throughout Zhang’s employment, Skyworks was also a designer and developer of FBAR technology. FBAR technology is primarily used in mobile devices like cellular telephones, tablets and GPS devices. FBAR technology filters incoming and outgoing wireless signals so that a user only receives and transmits the specific communications intended by the user. Apart from consumer applications, FBAR technology has numerous applications for a variety of military and defense communications technologies.

According to the indictment, in 2006 and 2007, Pang, Zhang and other co-conspirators prepared a business plan and began soliciting PRC universities and others, seeking opportunities to start manufacturing FBAR technology in China. Through efforts outlined in the superseding indictment, Pang, Zhang and others established relationships with officials from Tianjin University. Tianjin University is a leading PRC Ministry of Education University located in the PRC and one of the oldest universities in China.

As set forth in the indictment, in 2008, officials from Tianjin University flew to San Jose, California, to meet with Pang, Zhang and other co-conspirators. Shortly thereafter, Tianjin University agreed to support Pang, Zhang and others in establishing an FBAR fabrication facility in the PRC. Pang and Zhang continued to work for Avago and Skyworks in close coordination with Tianjin University. In mid-2009, both Pang and Zhang simultaneously resigned from the U.S. companies and accepted positions as full professors at Tianjin University. Tianjin University later formed a joint venture with Pang, Zhang and others under the company name ROFS Microsystem intending to mass produce FBARs.

The indictment alleges that Pang, Zhang and other co-conspirators stole recipes, source code, specifications, presentations, design layouts and other documents marked as confidential and proprietary from the victim companies and shared the information with one another and with individuals working for Tianjin University.

The six indicted defendants include: Tianjin University Professor Hao Zhang, Professor Wei Pang, Professor Jinping Chen, Huisui Zhang (Huisui), and Chong Zhou, a Tianjin University graduate student, and Zhao Gang, the General Manager of ROFS Microsystems.

The maximum statutory penalty for each one of these violations is more than 10 years imprisonment and 100s of thousands of dollars in fines. The case is USA v. Wei Pang.

On May 21, 2015, Tianjin University denied the charges against the three professors, pledged legal support to the professors and accused U.S. officials of “politicizing” the issue and endangering academic exchanges between the two countries.

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN COMPANIES

Complaints are attached to each citation.

On February 13, 2015, e.Digital Corporation filed the attached patent case against Shenzhen Gospell Smarthome Electronic Co., Ltd. (dba Oco Camera); Ivideon LLC (dba Oco Camera); Global Innovations; and, New Sight Devices Corp. SHENZHEN GOSPELL

On February 17, 2015, Parthenon Unified Memory Architecture LLC filed a patent complaint against ZTE. PARTHENON ZTE COMPLAINT

On February 27, 2015, Innovation Works, Inc. filed a trademark case against Innovation Works (Beijing) Ltd., IW North America. INNOV BEIJING

On March 2, 2015, Optis Wireless Technology LLC et al filed a patent case against ZTE Corporation et al. OPTIS ZTE

On March 2, 2015, Skyworks Solutions, Inc. filed a patent complaint against Kinetic Technologies, Kinetic Technologies Hong Kong and China. SKYWORKSKIN

On March 4, 2015, Petmatrix LLC filed a patent complaint against Wenzhou Yuxiang Pet Product Co., Ltd. WENZHOU PATENT CASE

On March 5, 2015, Magnet Products International Group filed a trade secrets fraud case against Maghold LLC, Mary Zhang, and Dongguan Maghard Flexible Magnet Co, and Xiaodong Wang. MAGNET TRADE

On March 9, 2015, Orlando Communications LLC filed a patent case against ZTE Corp., et al. ZTE ORLANDO

On March 10, 2015, Saint Lawrence Communications filed a patent complaint against ZTE.  STLAWRENCE ZTE

On March 12, 2015, Anki Inc. filed a patent case against China Industries Ltd T?A Wow Stuff. ANKI CHINA INDUSTRIES

On March 13, 2015, China Central Television, Dish Network LLC et al filed a copyright and trademark case against Create New Technology (HK) Ltd., Hua Yang International Technology Ltd., Shenzhen GreatVision Network Technology Co., Ltd., Club TVPAD, Inc., Bennet Wong, Asha Media Group Inc. d/b/a TVPAD.com, Amit Bhalla, NewTVPad Ltd., Liangzhong Zhou, and Honghui Chen.  CCTV

On March 18, 2015, Lilith Games (Shanghai) Co., Ltd. filed a copyright case against uCool, Inc. and uCool Ltd. LILLITH GAMES SHANGHAI

On March 24, 2015, Wetro Lan filed a patent complaint against Huawei. HUAWEI PATENT COMPLAINT

On March 25, 2015, Streamlight Inc. filed a patent complaint Ningbo Highlite Technical Co., Ltd. NINGBO PATENT

On March 26, 2015, Tianhai Lace, a Chinese company, filed a copyright case against Posh Shop, a US company. TIANHAI COPYRIGHT

On April 1, 2015, Crafty Productions, Inc. et al filed a copyright and fraud case against Fuqing Sanxing Crafts Co. Ltd., a China company, Tony Zhu, MRF Associates, Inc., Michelle Faherty, The Michaels Companies, Inc., Michaels Stores, Inc., ZheJiang HongYe Co. Ltd., a China company, Fuzhou Bomy Trading Co., Ltd., a China company, Fuzhou Great Suns Co. Ltd., a China company, Sunface Crafts Co. Ltd., a China company, and a number of other US retail companies. CRAFTY COPYRIGHT

On April 2, 2015, Trans-Texas Tire, LLC filed an unfair competition and breach of contract case for unfair misappropriation of molds against Tianjin Wanda Tyre Group Co., Ltd, and Zhang Guanghhui and Li Xue Yong. TIRE MOLDS UNFAIR COMPETITION

On April 6, 2015, Express Mobile filed a patent case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. ALIBABA EXPRESS

On April 9, 2015, Nonend Inventions, N. V. filed patent complaints against Huawei and ZTE and multiple other high tech clients. NONENDZTE NONENDHUAWEI

On April 17, 2015, Synaptics Inc. filed a patent case against Goodix Technology Inc., Shenzhen Huiding Technology Co., Ltd. a/k/a Shenzhen Goodix Technology Co., Ltd. and Blu Products, Inc. SHENZHEN PATENT

On April 24, 2015 Nova Intellectual Solutions LLC filed a patent complaint against ZTE. NOVA ZTE CASE

On April 30, 2015, Cellular Communications Equipment LLC filed a patent case against ZTE Corp and a number of other companies. CELL ZTE

On May 1, 2015, Pacific Bioscience Laboratories, Inc. filed patent complaints against Wenzhou Ai ER Electrical Technology Co., Ltd. dba Cnaier and Shanghai Anzikang Electric Co., Ltd. PACIFIC BIO WENZHOU PACIFIC BIOSCIENCE

On May 4, 2015, Ti Beverage Group, Ltd. and Michael Machat filed a trademark infringement case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., and Ebay Inc. TIBEV ALIBABA

On May 4, 2015, Anthony California, Inc, filed a copyright and trade secret case against Fire Power Co., Ltd., New Bright Jet Lighting (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., Interest Plus Investments Ltd., Chien Tsai Tsai, Chien Ho Tsia, James Moran and M&M Sales, and Direct Lighting LLC. CHINA SHEN NEW BRIGHT

On May 8, 2015, Frequency Systems, LLC filed patent complaints against Huawei and ZTE. ZTE FREQ HUAEWEI AGAIN

On May 12, 2015, Nuhertz Technologies, LLC filed a copyright and trademark case for software piracy against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Alibaba.Com Hong Kong Ltd., Alibaba. Com Ltd., Alibaba.Com Investment Holding Ltd., Other Alibaba Companies, Taobao Holding Ltd., Taobao China Holding Ltd., Taobao (China) Software Co., Ltd., and Alipay.Com Co., Ltd. NUEHERTZ ALIBABA

On May 15, 2015, Gucci filed a major trademark and counterfeiting case against Alibaba. Specifically, on May 15, 2015, Gucci America, Inc., Balenciaga S.A., Balenciaga America, Inc., Bottega Veneta S.A., Bottega Veneta Inc., Yves Saint Laurent America, Inc. Luxury Goods International (L.G.I.) S.A. and Kering S.A. filed the trademark and counterfeiting case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Alibaba.Com Hong Kong Ltd., Alibaba. Com Ltd., Alibaba.Com Investment Holding Ltd., Other Alibaba Companies, Taobao Holding Ltd., Taobao China Holding Ltd., Taobao (China) Software Co., Ltd., and Alipay.Com Co., Ltd. GUCCI ALIBABA

Complaints will be posted on my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com.

ANTITRUST

There have been major developments in the antitrust area in China.

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

DORSEY ARTICLE BY PETER CORNE

Peter Corne, who heads Dorsey’s Shanghai office, published the following article on March 13, 2015 about China’s antimonopoly law:

NDRC’s Qualcomm Decision Sends Mixed Messages

Chinese New Year celebrations culminated in a big way for foreign multinationals in China with the news at the end of February that the head of the National Development and Reform Commission’s (“NDRC’s”) Antitrust Bureau had been removed. Xu Kunlin had made his name by initiating numerous investigations against sectors involving multinationals such as auto parts and bearings, cars, and contact lenses. Former Director Xu (who is still director of the NDRC’s Price Department) was widely regarded as a fine leader, and his Antitrust Bureau hit monopolies with hefty penalties of RMB 7.9 Billion (US$1.29 Billion) from 2014 through February 10, the date the Qualcomm decision was announced as discussed below. He has been replaced by Zhang Handong (former deputy director of the Healthcare Reform Office under the State Council), whom we presume will take time to settle into his new position. Based on his familiarity with the medical sector, we would caution clients in that sector to continue to pay close attention to antitrust compliance.

The full content of the long-awaited result of the Qualcomm decision was published in early March (following the February 10 announcement of the result). In only three prior cases has the NDRC published the full content of an antitrust decision. Qualcomm was ordered to cease its infringing activities and was assessed a fine of RMB 6.1 billion (US$975 million), which represented about 8% of its 2013 revenue in China. The NDRC found Qualcomm guilty of abuse of market dominance and implementing monopolistic activities that eliminate and restrict competition. The following activities were deemed illegal: (1) charging unfairly excessive patent royalties, (2) tying patents that are not standard-essential patents in the telecom industry without a legitimate reason, and (3) imposing unreasonable conditions in the sale of baseband chips. During the investigation Qualcomm cooperated with the authorities and raised a series of rectification measures including the following:

(1) calculating patent royalties on the basis of 65% of net wholesale price of the device sold in China,

(2) when Qualcomm licenses its patent to Chinese licensees it will provide a list of patents and not charge royalties over patents that have already expired,

(3) Qualcomm will no longer require that Chinese licensees provide a compulsory (and royalty-free) cross-license for Qualcomm customers,

(4) where wireless standard-essential patents are concerned, Qualcomm will not tie in non-standard-essential patents without a legitimate reason, and

(5) unreasonable conditions will not be included in the license agreements when selling baseband chips, such as conditions prohibiting licensees from challenging the terms in the license agreement.

The Chinese press celebrated the decision as a victory for China. But Qualcomm was not forced to change its business model by the NDRC, so the decision could have been far worse for Qualcomm, reflected in a rise in the stock price of Qualcomm by 4.69% on the second day after the decision was announced.

Qualcomm’s core business model is to impose royalties on the net selling price of the entire device rather than the chips or other components, so it need now only change the calculation of the royalty base rather than the business model itself, leading some commentators to claim that the decision was a victory for Qualcomm.

Although the media claims victory for both sides, many problems seem to have been forgotten. For example, why was a formal investigation only initiated at the end of 2013 when publicly-available information indicates that the first complaint was made as early as 2008 by Texas Instruments? Further, under the Chinese Anti-Monopoly Law a guilty decision requires that illegal gains be confiscated, but this case resulted only in the imposition of a fine.

The NDRC required such a confiscation in the LCD maker case. So if the NDRC agreed that 65% (mentioned above in Qualcomm’s rectification plan) was the correct calculation base, then Qualcomm should at least have been asked to return the portion of royalties calculated on the other 35% (which could amount to billions of dollars). In addition, the law provides that a fine should be charged on the basis of the revenue of the previous year, i.e. 2014, and not 2013, which was used in the decision. Some even questioned the jurisdiction of the NDRC in the first place because, judging from the decision, most of the illegal activities listed were not price-related, indicating that it would have been more appropriate for SAIC to launch the investigation.

On the other hand, Qualcomm dropped its request for a hearing at the last minute, and paid up the fine in only three days. All of the above clues lead us to believe that the decision was the result of a compromise between the investigator and the investigated, in the context of which the investigator somehow lost sight of the fact that it was deviating from the national law. But we have seen this before. For example, in the Liquor Case involving Chinese spirits (Moutai and Wuliangye), the NDRC limited its investigation to provincial level, only in Guizhou and Sichuan.

The moral of the story seems to be to make sure that you proactively engage the authorities up front. It may be best to do so before any investigation is even contemplated. Regardless of the timing, it appears that open engagement during an investigation should lead to a much better result.

ANJIE LAW FIRM

On March 16, 2015, Michael Gu, a Chinese antitrust lawyer at the Anjie Law Firm in Beijing, sent out the attached 014 review of Chinese anti-monopoly law. Public competition enforcement_China 2015_AnJie_20150316.

T&D JANUARY REPORT

On May 2, 2015 T&D also sent us the attached April report on Chinese competition law. T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of April 2015

SECURITIES

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

DORSEY MAY ANTI-CORRUPTION DIGEST

Dorsey recently published its attached May anti-corruption digest.  Anti-Corruption-Digest-May2015  With regards to China and Ukraine, the Digest states:

China

China has continued with its ongoing anti-corruption campaign.

In the energy sector, a senior executive at the state energy firm China Sinopec Group is reportedly under investigation for suspected “serious disciplinary violations”, a phrase which has become synonymous with allegations of corruption. China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has reportedly confirmed the investigation but has not disclosed further details about the case. The Chairman of Sinopec, Fu Chengyu, said in an interview with Chinese media that the company supports “the government’s long-term anti-corruption effort, not just cracking down on illegal acts but disciplinary wrongdoings as well”.

In the healthcare sector, it has been reported that the head of Yunnan’s No. 1 People’s hospital is under investigation for allegedly receiving bribes of ¥35 million ($5.6 million/£3.6 million) in cash, 100 properties worth approximately $13 million (£8 million) and a number of car parking spaces. It is alleged that Dr. Wang Tianchao used his position to seek bribes related to medical device procurement and employment positions. Dr. Wang, who was reportedly in the running to become the head of the region’s food and drug regulator, has been removed from his post.

In the retail motor industry, a former top executive at Volkswagen’s joint venture with FAW Group Corporation has been sentenced to life in prison for allegedly accepting bribes. Shi Tao was reportedly convicted of taking ¥33 million ($5 million/£3.2 million) in bribes in exchange for giving business to advertisers and car dealers from FAW-Volkswagen. In a statement, Volkswagen said that it was aware of the case, noting that “globally, Volkswagen is strictly against any kind of illegal conduct, and attaches great importance that all applicable anti-corruption laws are adhered to”.

In its global efforts to trace alleged “economic fugitives”, the Chinese government has published a list of 100 individuals suspected of corruption. The “most wanted” list, which displays the individuals’ photographs, identification numbers and likely whereabouts, is said to be composed of former local government officials, police officers and accountants who are suspected of accepting bribes, misappropriating funds and money laundering.

Ukraine

A new law has been enacted requiring companies to have compliance programs in place. The law applies to most companies participating in public tenders and state-owned enterprises over a certain size and in essence requires companies to appoint a compliance officer with responsibility for implementing the compliance program and reporting to shareholders. The law does not include penalties for failing to implement a compliance program; however companies are encouraged to:

 Conduct regular risk assessments.

 Develop programs to raise employee awareness of anti-corruption.

 Include compliance provisions in contracts with third parties.

Despite the apparent lack of enforcement in place, it is said that officials may consider the establishment of a compliance program when deciding whether to pursue an action against a company.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On February 11, 2015, Claire Rand filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Lu and Maggie Wu. RANDALIBABA

On March 3, 2015, the SEC filed a securities case against China Infrastructure Investment Corp., Li Xipeng and Wang Feng. SEC CHINA INFRASTRUCTURE

On March 13, 2015, Felipe Garcia filed a class action securities case against Lentuo International, Inc, Hetong Guo, Jing Yang and Yang Jiangyuluo. GARCIA LENTUO

On March 24, 2015, Placidius Silva filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Lu and Maggie Wu. ALIBABA PLACIDUSE

On March 25, 2015 Qiang Wang filed a class action securities case against Yoliku Tudou, Inc., Victor Wind, Chelfng Koo, and Michael Gexu. WANG YOKOU

On March 26, 2015 Edward Martindale filed a class action securities case against Yoliku Tudou, Inc., Victor Wind, Chelfng Koo, and Michael Gexu. MARTINDALEYOKOU TUDOU

On March 27, 2015, the SEC brought an action against Macquarie Capital (USA), Inc., Aaron Black, and William Fang, the Underwriters of Puda Coal, a Chinese company. SECPUDA COAL

On April 2, 2015, Troy Hung filed a class action securities case against Idreamsky Technology Ltd., Michael Xiangyu Chen, Jun Zou, Anfernee Song Guan, Jeffrey Lyndon, Ko, Steven Xiaoyi Ma, Erhai Liu, Mingyao Wang, David Yuan, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Stifel Nicolas & Company, In Corpora Ted, and Piper Jaffra. HUNGIDREAMY

On April 14, 2015 Rashid Jahm filed a class action securities case against Yoliku Tudou, Inc., Victor Wind, Chelfng Koo, and Michael Gexu. JAHM YOKOU

On April 15, 2015, James Patrick Griffith filed a class action securities case against Idreamsky Technology Ltd., Michael Xiangyu Chen, Jun Zou, Anfernee Song Guan, Jeffrey Lyndon, Ko, Steven Xiaoyi Ma, Erhai Liu, Mingyao Wang, David Yuan, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Stifel Nicolas & Company, In Corpora Ted, and Piper Jaffra. GRIFFITHIDREAM

On April 21, 2015, Francis J. Bonanno filed a class action securities case against Cellular Biomedicine Group, Inc., Wei Cao and Tony Liu. CELLULAR SECURITIES

On April 29, 2015, the SEC filed an insider trading case against two Chinese nationals, Xiaoyu Xia and Yangting Hu. SECHUAXU

On May 5, 2015, Abraham Jeremias, Roger Mariani and Michael Rubin filed a class action securities case against Idreamsky Technology Ltd., Michael Xiangyu Chen, Jun Zou, Anfernee Song Guan, Jeffrey Lyndon, Ko, Steven Xiaoyi Ma, Erhai Liu, Mingyao Wang, David Yuan, Credit Suisse Securities (USA) LLC, J.P. Morgan Securities LLC, Stifel Nicolas & Company, In Corpora Ted, and Piper Jaffra. JEREMIASIDREAM

On May 8, 2015, Steve Surrey filed a class action securities case against Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., Jack Yun Ma, Joseph C. Tsai, Jonathan Lu, Masayoshi Son, Daniel Young, Chee Hwa Tung, Walter The, Ming Kwauk, J. Michael Evans, and Jerry Yang. SURREY ALIBABA

On May 19, 2015, Paul Heller filed a class action securities case against Vishop Holding Ltd., Ya Shen and Donghao Yang. HELLERVISHOP

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER OCTOBER 16, 2014

Dear Friends,

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

TRADE PROTECTIONISM INCLUDING UNFAIR TRADE CASES DO NOT WORK

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added.

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

A 21st TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSITANCE PROGRAM—A MODEST PROPOSAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added.

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

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

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE

SOLAR CASES—POSSIBLE SETTLEMENT??—CORRECTION

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meanwhile, the case moves on and expands.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the story continues . . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

Canadian and Vietnamese government officials issued similar statements.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By The Editorial Board

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TTIP—FREE TRADE AGREEEMENT WITH EU

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

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

INDIA STILL KILLS WTO TRADE FACILITATION AGREEMENT NEGOTIATED IN BALI

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

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

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

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

Azevedo stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TIRES FROM CHINA ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TOUGHER TRADE LAWS??

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

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

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS

CIRCUMVENTION OF ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS ORDER??

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

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

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

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

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

STEEL WIRE ROD FROM CHINA PRELIMINARY ANTIDUMPING DETERMINATION

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

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

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

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

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

OCTOBER ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

DUELING US AND CHINA WTO APPEALS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Specifically U.S. persons are prohibited from:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Treasury stated:

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

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

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

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

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

CUSTOMS

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

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

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

As the CAFC stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

FALSE CLAIMS ACT

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

IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES

337 CASES

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

SANCTIONS AGAINST UPI SEMICONDUCTOR

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

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

MADE IN THE USA—FTC AND FALSE ADVERTISING PROBLEM

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

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

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

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

SECTION 337 COMPLAINTS

NEW 337 COMPLAINT AGAINST FOOTWARE PRODUCTS FROM CHINA

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

Docket No: 3034

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: V. James Adduci, II

Firm/Org: Adduci, Mastriani and Schaumberg

Behalf Of: Converse Inc.

Date Received: October 14, 2014

Commodity: Footwear Products

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

Status: Pending Institution

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

PERSONAL TRANSPORTERS FROM CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

PATENT AND IP CASES IN GENERAL

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE AND TAIWAN COMPANIES

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

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

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

Complaints are attached above.

CHINESE PATENT CASES

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

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

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

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

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

PRODUCTS LIABILITY/FDA

CHINA RESTRICTIONS ON US FOOD PRODUCTS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINESE INVESTMENT OPPORTUNITIES

US INVESTMENT IN CHINA

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

As stated in the brochure,

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

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

ANTITRUST– VITAMIN C, MAGNESITE AND AU OPTRONICS

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

TAIWAN LCDS CASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added, footnotes omitted.

BILL BAER DOJ SPEECHES

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added.

NEW ANTITRUST COMPLAINTS

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

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

CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES

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

“Executive Summary

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

 o Fair treatment and nondiscrimination

o Lack of due process and regulatory transparency

o Lengthy time periods for merger reviews

o Role of non-competitive factors in competition enforcement

o Determination of remedies and fines

o Broad definition of monopoly agreements

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

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

Antitrust enforcement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AUTOMOBILES — CHRYSLER AND MICROSOFT

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

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

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

SEMICONDUCTORS AND MEDICAL DEVICES??

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

ARTICLES BY CHINESE ANTITRUST LAWYER MICHAEL GU

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

TD MICROSOFT ARTICLE

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

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

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

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

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

SAIC Investigating Accenture in Microsoft Probe

August 6, 2014

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

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

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

August 27, 2014

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

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

SECURITIES

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT (“FCPA”)

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

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

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

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

Introduction

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

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

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

The beginning

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See the attached article for parts 2-5.

PART 6

Conclusion: The FCPA Today

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

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

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

This case involves a scheme perpetrated by two immigration attorneys,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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

White House Night Pennsylvania Ave Washington DC

“TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET”

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER–APRIL 15, 2014

Dear Friends,

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

TRADE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now the story continues . . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CAFC DENIES CONSTITUTIONAL CHALLENGE TO GPX LAW

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

CHINESE EXPORT TAXES ON RAW MATERIALS—WTO PROBLEMS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Thus the USTR states:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

APRIL ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

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

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

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

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

EXPORT CONTROLS

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

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

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

THE HYPOCRISY OF US PRISON LABOR ALLEGATION

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

CURTAIN WALLS ARE DEFINITELY IN THE ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CASE

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

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

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

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

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

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

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

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

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS PROGRAM WORKS

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE

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

OPTICAL FIBER

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

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

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

CELLULOSE PULP 

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

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

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

What goes around does indeed come around.

US LITIGATION LIMITS AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES AND INDIVIDUALS

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

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

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

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

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

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

ITC SAYS DIGTAL FILE TRANSFERS ARE IMPORTS UNDER SECTION 337

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

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

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

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

STATE OF OKLAHOMA SUES CHINESE COMPANIES FOR COPYRIGHT INFRINGEMENT

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

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

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

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

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

4. Generally, federal laws and international treaties do not address the pernicious downstream effects of such acts in the Oklahoma valve manufacturing sector. The Defendants’ use of stolen software to gain a competitive advantage over domestic valve manufacturing companies,’ including those in Oklahoma, can be remedied, however, by proscribing such tactics as unfair, deceptive and anti-competitive methods of commerce under Oklahoma law.

5. Plaintiff asks this Court to enjoin Defendants unlawful business practices, impose civil fines and penalties, and award restitution, monetary damages, investigative costs and fees, and attorney fees, as well as such other relief as the Court deems just and proper.”

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

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

On April 7, 2014, Pragmatus Mobile sued ZTE for patent infringement.  PRAGMATUS ZTE

On April 8, 2014, Billabong International Ltd, GSM Operations PTY Ltd. and Burleigh Point Ltd d/b/a Billabong USA sued Digital Shui dba Multisport Asia for cybersquatting (unlawfully occupying a domain name in which it possesses no rights) on the <billabong.com> domain name and then demanding exorbitant sums of money as ransom for the return of the control of the Domain Names to Plaintiffs. Defendant’s conduct allegedly violates the Anticybersquatting Consumer Protection Act, 15 U.S.C. 1125(d), (“ACPA”) and the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, 18 U.S.C. 1030(a)(4), constitutes tortious interference with contract under Virginia common law, and also constitutes a breach of fiduciary duty, including the duty of loyalty and good faith and fair dealing.  BILL4

PRODUCTS LIABILITY

On April 3, 2014, the attached products liability complaint was filed for wrongful death by Maxine Surber in the Federal District Court in the Western District of Washington States against the Shanghai Zhenhua Heavy Industries Co., Ltd. for the death of Jeff Surber who died while maintaining a ship to shore crane designed and manufactured by Shanghai Industries.  PRODUCTS LIABILITY SHANGHAI COMPANY

ANTITRUST

EXTRADITION OF FOREIGN NATIONAL TO FACE CRIMINAL ANTITRUST CHARGES

On April 4, 2013, the Justice Department announced that it was successful for the first time in extraditing a foreign national to face charges related to a cartel, worldwide antitrust bid-rigging conspiracy related to marine hose sold in the United States.  In the attached April 4th announcement, EXTRADITION OF FOREIGN NATIONAL the Justice Department stated:

“Romano Pisciotti, an Italian national, was extradited from Germany on a charge of participating in a conspiracy to suppress and eliminate competition by rigging bids, fixing prices and allocating market shares for sales of marine hose sold in the United States and elsewhere, the Department of Justice announced today. This marks the first successfully litigated extradition on an antitrust charge.

Pisciotti, a former executive with Parker ITR Srl, a marine hose manufacturer headquartered in Veniano, Italy, was arrested in Germany on June 17, 2013.  He arrived in the Southern District of Florida, in Miami, yesterday and is scheduled to make his initial appearance today in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida in Ft. Lauderdale, at 11:00 a.m. EDT.

“This first of its kind extradition on an antitrust charge allows the department to bring an alleged price fixer to the United States to face charges of participating in a worldwide conspiracy,” said Assistant Attorney General Bill Baer in charge of the Department of Justice’s Antitrust Division. “This marks a significant step forward in our ongoing efforts to work with our international antitrust colleagues to ensure that those who seek to subvert U.S. law are brought to justice.”

Marine hose is a flexible rubber hose used to transfer oil between tankers and storage facilities. During the conspiracy, the cartel affected prices for hundreds of millions of dollars in sales of marine hose and related products sold worldwide. . . .

Pisciotti is charged with violating the Sherman Act, which carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $1 million criminal fine for individuals. . . .

As a result of the department’s ongoing marine hose investigation, five companies, including Parker ITR; Bridgestone Corp. of Japan; Manuli SPa of Italy’s Florida subsidiary; Trelleborg of France; and Dunlop Marine and Oil Ltd, of the United Kingdom, and nine individuals have pleaded guilty.”

VITAMIN C CASE

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

On April 7, 2014, Hebei and NCPGC filed the attached appeals brief Hebei vitamin c appeal brief with the Second Circuit Court of Appeals requesting that the Court reverse US District Judge Brian M. Cogan’s judgment imposing nearly $150 million in damages and a permanent injunction as the company was complying with Chinese laws and regulations by fixing prices on Vitamin-C exports.  In its brief, which will be posted on my blog, Hebei and NCPGC specifically state in part:

“The district court imposed nearly $150 million in penalties and a permanent injunction on Appellants for complying with their own nation’s laws and regulations in reaching price and output agreements on vitamin C exports. The text of the applicable regulations, authoritative legal interpretations offered by the Chinese government, unrebutted expert testimony on Chinese law, and other evidence that the Chinese government mandated the challenged conduct had no impact on the district court.  Rather, the court attacked the credibility of the Chinese government and seized on translated words without due regard for their cultural and linguistic context in order to hold that China’s regime of export regulations for vitamin C constituted a purely private “cartel.” Proper regard for Chinese sovereignty should have led to dismissal of Appellees’ claims under the doctrines of foreign sovereign compulsion, international comity, act of state, or political question. The judgment below represents a massive extension of U.S. federal judicial power into the affairs of a sovereign nation and matters of foreign affairs. This Court should hasten to repudiate it.

The new system was intended to facilitate China’s entry into the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) and avoid antidumping sanctions imposed by foreign governments while maintaining the Ministry’s policy of ensuring the orderly development of key export industries, such as vitamin C.  . . The Ministry explained that the new system would be “convenient for exporters while it is conducive for the chambers to coordinate export price and industry self-discipline.”

As could be predicted, the Chinese government has taken umbrage at the district court judgment. Chinese officials have noted the judgment will “cause problems for the international community” and “eventually harm the interests of the United States. . .  . Leading commentators have observed that the case “has potentially expansive implications for how the U.S. antitrust laws do and should interact with executive branch and foreign interests on international trade,” “is at least in tension with the executive branch’s position [in the WTO],” and “rais[es] the question of whether our antitrust laws ought to be interpreted as giving greater deference to the sovereignty of individual U.S. states than to the sovereignty of foreign governments.”  . . . .

The district court’s dismissal of the government’s views was both disrespectful and unfounded. The WTO filings and reports on which the district court relied to claim the Chinese government had taken contrary positions before that body (essentially accusing a sovereign government of lying) do not stand for the proposition that China imposed no legal obligation on vitamin C producers to coordinate on export pricing and output.  . .  . Rather, they only state that China had abandoned “restrictions on exports through non-automatic licensing or other means justified by specific product under the WTO Agreement or the Protocol,” “[n]on-automatic export licensing requirements under WTO agreement and accession,” and “export quotas and licenses[.]” . .  . .

None of them said that China had abandoned management of pricing in vitamin C exports, let alone that the Chinese regulatory regime had become non-compulsory. The Chinese government’s representations in both forums were perfectly consistent.

Finally, the U.S. Trade Representative and the WTO have found that the Chinese government continued to regulate export pricing on a variety of products subject to the same basic regulatory regime as vitamin C during the relevant time period, and that failure to comply was “subject to investigation leading to potential criminal and administrative penalties.”  . . . . This evidence further illustrates that the district court’s construction of Chinese law was erroneous. . . .

As discussed above, there is a true conflict between Chinese law and U.S. law in these circumstances. All Defendants were Chinese and the conduct took place entirely in China. Complaints about Chinese export policies could properly be addressed through diplomatic channels and/or the WTO’s processes. The purpose was not to harm Americans but to ease the transition of China’s vitamin C industry from central planning to a more market-oriented program and to prevent the harm to China’s trade relations that would result from dumping charges. The exercise of jurisdiction by the district court has already inflicted harm on U.S.- China relations. The court’s decision creates the prospect of Chinese firms being under conflicting conduct requirements. The U.S. and China are both members of the WTO and are subject to its rules on export restrictions. Simply put, every relevant substantial consideration favors comity abstention.

This case raises precisely the same set of concerns about the inappropriateness of the judicial branch treading on delicate foreign policy questions. The Chinese government chose to regulate its domestic vitamin C export industry in what it believed was the most effective manner within its system. Insofar as China’s sovereign policy decisions about how best to manage its economy conflict with the policies embodied in U.S. antitrust laws, that conflict should be addressed “through diplomatic channels,” and not through the “unnecessary irritant of a private antitrust action.”  . . .

For China’s economic regulations and enforcement practices “to be reexamined and perhaps condemned by [U.S.] courts . . .would very certainly imperil the amicable relations between [the U.S. and Chinese] governments and vex the peace of nations.” . . .Indeed, the U.S. and Chinese governments are currently engaged in ongoing discussions on issues involving Chinese regulation of its exports, and the U.S. has availed itself of WTO dispute settlement procedures against China based on the WTO’s rules on export restrictions. .  .. The U.S.’s active engagement in these avenues for resolving disputes between sovereign governments demonstrates that disputes involving China’s regulation of its own exports are foreign relations issues properly committed to the Executive Branch.  The U.S. judiciary should be loath to insert itself into such discussions.”

On April 14, 2014, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) filed its own Amicus Brief in support of the two Chinese companies.  In the attached Amicus Brief, MOFCOM VITAMIN C APPEAL BRIEF MOFCOM stated:

“The Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China (“MOFCOM”) is a component of the central Chinese government and the highest administrative authority in China authorized to regulate trade between China and other countries, including all export commerce.  It is the equivalent in the Chinese governmental system of a cabinet-level department of the United States government.  MOFCOM formulates strategies, guidelines, and policies concerning domestic and foreign trade and international cooperation.  MOFCOM also drafts and enforces laws and regulations governing domestic and foreign trade, and regulates markets to achieve an integrated, competitive, and orderly market system.

MOFCOM has been actively involved in this litigation since 2006, when it filed an amicus brief in support of defendants’ motion to dismiss. That appearance was historic.  It marked the first time that any entity of the Government of China had appeared as an amicus, explained to the district court that MOFCOM had directed the defendants’ conduct, and endeavored to describe the varying regulatory mechanisms used to compel defendants’ compliance.

MOFCOM has a compelling interest in this appeal because the district court refused to defer to MOFCOM’s interpretation of Chinese law and announced its own contrary view of what Chinese law required of the defendants.  Moreover, the district court implied that MOFCOM’s interpretation was not just wrong, but intentionally false: “a post-hoc attempt to shield defendants’ conduct from antitrust scrutiny.”  That charge is profoundly disrespectful, and wholly unfounded.

MOFCOM files this brief to set straight the record about its regulatory and litigation conduct; to ensure that this Court understands the Chinese Government’s displeasure about the district court’s treatment of MOFCOM; and to urge reversal of the judgment below, which unfairly penalizes a Chinese company for complying with Chinese law. . .  .

The district court denied summary judgment.   It did not question the basic tenets of the foreign sovereign compulsion doctrine, but held on the basis of its independent assessment of Chinese law, and in direct contradiction to MOFCOM’s interpretation, that Chinese law “did not compel defendants’ conduct.”  . . .  The district court acknowledged that both the Supreme Court and the Second Circuit have held that a foreign government’s statement concerning the meaning of its own law is “‘conclusive’” of that law’s meaning. .  . .

The district court then announced it would “decline to defer to [MOFCOM’s] interpretation of Chinese law,” . . . citing this Court’s statement that “[w]here a choice between two interpretations of ambiguous foreign law rests finely balanced, the support of a foreign sovereign for one interpretation furnishes legitimate assistance.” . . .   The district court appeared to draw from this that deference is unwarranted if a foreign law question is not “finely balanced,” and outlined its grounds for refusing to defer in this case. . . .   The district court first said that the 2009 statement was “particularly undeserving of deference” because it did not “cite to any [specific] sources to support its broad assertions about the regulatory system governing vitamin C exports,” contained “ambiguous terms and phrases,” and did not “distinguish between” the 1997 and 2002 export regulatory regimes. . . . The district court conceded, however, that MOFCOM’s amicus brief, on which the 2009 statement expressly relied, “attempted to explain the regulatory system governing vitamin C exports by citing to, and discussing, specific governmental directives and Chamber documents.” . . .

The district court next pointed to statements China had made to the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) indicating that “‘export administration … of vitamin C’” ceased on January 1, 2002. It asserted that this statement “appear[ed] to contradict [MOFCOM’s] position in the instant litigation,” and deemed this a “further reason not to defer.” . . .

Third, the district court stated that “more careful scrutiny of a foreign government’s statement is warranted” when “the alleged compulsion is in the defendants’ own self-interest.” . . . . Finally, the district court opined that “the factual record contradicts [MOFCOM’s] position.” . . .

Having thus determined that it would not defer to MOFCOM’s interpretation of Chinese law, the district court conducted an independent review of Chinese law, including documents the court described as “traditional sources of foreign law.” . . . . The district court at points suggested it would rely on the “plain language” of these documents, . . ., but its analysis also contained a series of inferences about how to interpret Chinese legal texts.  None of those inferences was premised, at least expressly, on any principle of Chinese law. . . .

The district court erred by disregarding MOFCOM’s formal statements of Chinese law, conducting an independent examination of that law based on “plain language” of translated texts and ungrounded assumptions about how to interpret Chinese law, and declaring that MOFCOM’s interpretation of Chinese law was exactly backwards.  The court’s erroneous conclusions were not supported by any determination of any Chinese government official, Chinese court, or Chinese scholar, and yet exposed Chinese companies to massive class-action antitrust liability for conduct occurring solely within China.  Several companies yielded to that in terrorem pressure and settled. The remaining defendants face a nine-figure judgment that should be vacated for at least three reasons.

First, the district court failed to follow Supreme Court precedent holding that a foreign government’s formal statements about the interpretation of its own law are “conclusive” in American courts.

Second, the district court overlooked comity concerns that at a minimum demand that “conclusive” deference to such statements must be given when foreign sovereign compulsion is asserted as a defense in a private antitrust suit. The foreign sovereign compulsion doctrine owes its very existence to the recognition that significant questions of international law and comity would arise if U.S. courts allowed American law to override a foreign sovereign’s contrary command about how to organize its own domestic commerce. When a foreign sovereign appears in such a case to say what it demanded of a defendant, it should not be open to a district court to deny the command was given.

Third, the district court expressly “decline[d] to defer to [MOFCOM’s] interpretation of Chinese law.”  Instead, the district court simply resolved all questions as it saw fit, applying self-made interpretive canons not grounded in Chinese law, and as such reached a conclusion that is contrary to Chinese law.

The district court’s approach and result have deeply troubled the Chinese government, which has sent a diplomatic note concerning this case to the U.S. State Department.  This Court should reverse, and in so doing reaffirm that principles of international comity require district courts to treat official statements of a foreign government with a high degree of deference and respect, and with due caution about the court’s ability to determine accurately the law of an unfamiliar legal system. . . .

The district court asserted that China’s statements to the WTO that it had given up “‘export administration … of vitamin C’ as of January 1, 2002,” “appear to contradict” MOFCOM’s position that Chinese law continued after that date to require industry coordination of export price and quantity. . . .   That conclusion, however, reflects a basic misunderstanding of the technical trade-policy context in which those statements were made.

The statements cited by the district court relate to a “transitional review” in which China participated following its 2001 accession to the WTO.  Each statement provides in part that “on 1 January 2002, China gave up export administration” of certain goods, including “vitamin C.” But in context—and as indicated by the headings that preceded them—these statements indicated only that China abandoned “restrictions on exports through non-automatic licensing” on that date, and not that China eliminated every existing export restriction in one stroke.

A third document cited by the district court unambiguously demonstrates that this more confined reading is precisely what China intended.  That document . . . is a report by the WTO Secretariat summarizing its “trade policy review” with respect to China.  Citing one of the two “export administration” statements described above, the WTO Secretariat explained that “[o]n 1 January 2002, China abolished export quotas and licenses for … Vitamin C.”   Thus, the WTO Secretariat expressly interpreted China’s earlier “export administration” statements to relate to abolition of “export quotas and licenses for … Vitamin C,” but not all other forms of export regulation.

The United States government adopted exactly this same construction in a 2009 WTO dispute resolution proceeding, alleging (as China later acknowledged), that China had maintained “a system that prevents exportation unless the seller meets or exceeds the minimum export price.”  In other words, the United States adopted exactly the same position in WTO dispute settlement proceedings that MOFCOM has urged in this case: after 2002, China was still requiring exporters to abide by a price-setting regime.  China’s statements to the WTO, accordingly, did . . .not provide any basis for the district court to refuse to accord MOFCOM deference. . . .

MOFCOM grants that a district court that faces a contested question of foreign law with no aid from a foreign government often will have no choice but to grasp the nettle and do its best. But here, the district court’s confusion was self-inflicted.  MOFCOM offered an authoritative view of Chinese law.  The district court erroneously refused that assistance and then, predictably, floundered in its attempt to discern the operation of a complex foreign regulatory system.  The district court instead should have deferred, as it unquestionably would have been required to do had a U.S. regulator presented an analogous statement in a brief. . . . Its failure to do so, or at a minimum to apply Chinese legal principles to its independent analysis, requires reversal.”

US JUDGE REFUSES TO DISMISS US ANTITRUST CASE AGAINST CHINESE SOLAR COMPANIES

On March 31, 2014, Judge Armstrong of the California Federal District Court rejected the Chinese solar companies’ motion to dismiss The Solyndra Residual Trust vs. Suntech Power Holdings, Suntech America, Trina Solar Limited, Trina US, Yingli Green Energy Holding Ltd, Yingli Green Energy Americas Inc (“Solyndra v. Suntech”) antitrust case.  In the attached decision, Solyndra order denying motion to dismiss Judge Armstrong stated:

“According to Plaintiff, the alleged price fixing scheme which led to the demise of Solyndra and numerous other American solar panel manufacturers was perpetrated by Suntech, Trina and Yingli (all of which are publicly-traded on the New York Stock Exchange), and their respective American alter egos, Suntech America, Trina U.S. and Yingli Americas. . . . Defendants are members of the China New Energy Chamber of Commerce (“China New Energy”), a trade association which has the stated purpose of promoting “collaboration” amongst its members. . . . Through China New Energy, Defendants were able to meet regularly and develop a coordinated pricing and output strategy aimed at dominating the United States solar panel market. . . .

Defendants, desiring to dominate the United States market for solar panels, became concerned with the innovation presented by Solyndra’s technology. . . .  To that end, Defendants allegedly formed a conspiracy to “dump” (i.e., to price their panels below cost) their solar panels in the United States market.  . . To that end, as demand for solar panels was rising, Defendants acted contrary to “rational economic rules” by “slash[ing] their prices in an effort to aggressively capture market share and drive competition from the marketplace.” . . .

Defendants also are alleged to have used China New Energy to fix prices at artificially low rates. . .  . Each year since founding in 2006, China New Energy has held an International Forum (“Forum”), at which the chairs of Suntech, Trina and Yingli have been featured speakers. . . . Defendants allegedly used China New Energy’s annual International Forum as a means of meeting and communicating with one another and reach agreements to fix and lower prices.  . . . After each Forum, prices charged by each of the Defendants fell precipitously. . . .For example, after meeting during the second Forum which held on December 11-12, 2007, Defendants lowered their prices by 40%.  . . . This pricing behavior “shocked” even seasoned industry analysts, who had predicted price reductions of only 5% per year.  . .

As prices for Chinese solar panels in the United States plummeted, American solar manufacturers could not keep pace.  .  . Since 2010, “at least twelve domestic U.S. manufacturers have shut down plants, declared bankruptcy, or staged significant layoffs.” . . .

In contrast, Defendants now occupy a dominant position in the American solar panel market, and by the end of 2011, controlled 65% of the rooftop solar market. . . . Correspondingly, Defendants’ net revenues soared, with Suntech’s net revenue alone increasing to $3.1 billion in 2011 from $1.6 billion in 2009. . . .

Here, the pleadings specifically allege facts that are more than sufficient to suggest that Defendants reached an agreement to fix prices and flood the American market with their below cost Chinese-made panels for the purpose of stifling competition. The FAC alleges that Defendants effectively controlled their industry trade organization, China New Energy, and held meetings at its annual Forums to coordinate their market strategy including the coordinated, drastic lowering of prices to dominate the American market for solar panels. After each Forum held between 2007 and 2010, Defendants’ prices uniformly fell precipitously. These uniform price decreases were completely unanticipated within the industry, given that it was economically irrational to slash prices so significantly in the face of rising demand. . . . . Allegedly as a result of Defendants’ predatory and collusive conduct, Solyndra and a host of other American competitors went out of business, while Defendants correspondingly increased their sales and market share in the United States. . . .

Construing these allegations in a light most favorable to Plaintiff, the Court finds that they are sufficient to present a plausible claim that Defendants formed an agreement to restrain trade.”

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

Commentators have observed that governments are increasingly using antitrust and other regulatory powers for broader political and economic purposes and following the Commerce Department’s lead, the Chinese government is doing the same.

On January 28, 2014, there was a report out of China that Qualcomm is facing a record antitrust fine of $1 billion in an antitrust case from China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC).

In the US National Trade Estimate report, its annual reports on trade barriers, released on March 31, 2014, 2014 NTE Report on FTB the USTR expressed concerned about the deteriorating conditions for US companies operating in or hoping to export to China across a broad range of sectors, due to selective anti-monopoly law enforcement.  With regards to stepped-up enforcement of anti-monopoly laws by China’s National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the USTR stated in its March 31st report:

“Anti-Monopoly Law

The Chinese government’s interventionist policies and practices and the large role of SOEs in China’s economy have created some uncertainty regarding how the Anti-Monopoly Law will be applied. One provision in the Anti-Monopoly Law protects the lawful operations of SOEs and government monopolies in industries deemed nationally important. To date, China has enforced the Anti-Monopoly Law against SOEs, but concerns remain that enforcement against SOEs will be more limited.

In 2013, NDRC increased its enforcement activity noticeably, particularly against foreign enterprises. In addition, U.S. industry has expressed concern about insufficient predictability, fairness and transparency in NDRC’s investigative processes, including NDRC pressure to “cooperate” in the face of unspecified allegations or face steep fines. U.S. industry also has reported pressure from NDRC against seeking outside counsel, in particular international counsel, or having counsel present at meetings.”

EXPLOSIVE GROWTH IN CHINESE ANTITRUST CASES

A recent report by John Yong Ren, a well-known Chinese antitrust lawyer, states that there was an explosive growth in antitrust cases under China’s anti-monopoly law in 2013, with even more cases coming in 2014.  T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of March 2014

It was reported that both the Justice Department and now the NDRC have started investigations of Auto Parts and are targeting capacitor manufacturers.

SECURITIES

On March 11, 2014, in the attached complaint, AGFEED COMPLAINT the Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”) filed suit against Agfeed Industries, Junhong Xiong, Selina Jin, Songyan Li, Shaobo Ouyang, Edward J. Pazdro and K. Ivan Gothner for accounting fraud.  The SEC sued bankrupt AgFeed Industries Inc. and former principals of the company over an alleged accounting fraud scheme, in which revenues were inflated by $239 million in order to boost the industrial hog producer’s stock price.

Four executives at the China-based but U.S.-traded company purportedly used a variety of methods to inflate revenue from 2008 through 2011, such as faking invoices for sales of feed and nonexistent hogs, which executives later tried to cover up by claiming the bogus hogs had died.

According to Andrew J. Ceresney, director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division, “AgFeed’s accounting misdeeds started in China, and U.S. executives failed to properly investigate and disclose them to investors.  This is a cautionary tale of what happens when an audit committee chair fails to perform his gatekeeper function in the face of massive red flags.”

According to the SEC the fraud started in China and U.S. management eventually got wise to the fraud, which included keeping two sets of books: one for insiders with accurate information, and one with inflated figures shown to outside auditors. But instead of intervening, US management moved to spin off the company’s feed division and reported nothing about the incident to law enforcement or investors.

FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT—EXTRADITION OF FOREIGN NATIONALS TO FACE US JUSTICE

On April 2, 2014, the US Government indicated six foreign nationals in an alleged conspiracy to bribe Indian officials to approve a $500 million titanium mining project.

Dmitry Firtash, identified by prosecutors as the leader of the alleged conspiracy, co-owns RosUkrEnergo with the Russian gas company Gazprom, and controls international conglomerate Group DF that owns several mining companies.

Firtash was arrested in Vienna on March 12 and later released on about $174 million bail.  Prosecutors are seeking forfeitures of about $10.6 million from the defendants.

Prosecutors additionally want Firtash to forfeit his interests in Group DF and its assets, including more than 150 companies in the British Virgin Islands, Switzerland and Cyprus.  The foreign nationals face up to 20 years in prison for the most serious charges and up to a million dollars in fines.

In announcing the indictment in the attached statement, FOREIGN INDIVIDUALS PROSECUTED UNDER FCPA the Justice Department stated:

“Fighting global corruption is part of the fabric of the Department of Justice,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General O’Neil. “The charges against six foreign nationals announced today send the unmistakable message that we will root out and attack foreign bribery and bring to justice those who improperly influence foreign officials, wherever we find them.”

“Criminal conspiracies that extend beyond our borders are not beyond our reach,” said U.S. Attorney Fardon. “We will use all of the tools and resources available to us to ensure the integrity of global business transactions that involve U.S. commerce.”

“This case is another example of the FBI’s willingness to aggressively investigate corrupt conduct around the globe” said Special Agent in Charge Holley. “With the assistance of our law enforcement partners, both foreign and domestic, we will continue to pursue those who allegedly bribe foreign officials in return for lucrative business contracts.”

Tom Gorman, a Dorsey partner in our Washington DC office, who formerly worked in the SEC enforcement division, has described this indictment as follows:

“FCPA enforcement officials have repeatedly emphasized that they intend to focus on individuals as an effective means of halting possible violations. A case unsealed yesterday underscores this point.”

See his entire article on his blog at http://www.secactions.com/fcpa-a-focus-on-individuals/

SEC GETS $33 MILLION DOLLAR DEFAULT JUDGMENT AGAINST CHINESE ELECTRONICS COMPANY AND EMPLOYEES

On March 10, 2014, in SEC v. China Intelligent Lighting & Electronics Inc. et al, a New York Federal Judge issued the attached default judgments NDEF IDEF in favor of the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and against two Chinese electronic companies accused of misleading investors about the use of money from public offerings, ordering the companies to pay a total of almost $33 million.

SECURITIES COMPLAINTS

On March 27, 2014, the SEC filed suit against World Capital Market Inc, WCM777 Inc. WCM777 Ltd. d/b/a WCM777 Enterprises and Ming Xu a/k/a Phil Ming Xu and Kingdom Capital Market, Manna Holding Group, Manna Source International, WCM Resources, Aeon Operating and PMX Jewels for securities fraud.  As described in the attached complaint SEC WORLD CAPITAL MARKETS,

“This matter involves an ongoing pyramid scheme, Ponzi scheme, and misappropriation of investor funds through an unregistered securities offering that targets members of the Asian-American and Hispanic-American communities, as well as foreign investors. Beginning around March 2013 and continuing to the present, operating under the offering name “WCM777,” Defendants have collected over $65 million from investors in the United States and abroad.  Of that amount, over $28 million was deposited into bank accounts in the United States between March and October 2013.  After October 2013, Defendants deposited investor funds into a bank account in Hong Kong.”

Apparently, the investors were not only in the US, but also in China and Hong Kong.

In the attached complaint, a Brad Berkowitz has filed a class action securities case against Sino Gas and several Chinese individuals and companies.  SINO GAS

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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