US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP TRADE AGENDA, INTERNAL TRADE BATTLES, LIGHTHIZER, BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES, AGRICULTURE, NAFTA, TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE, CFIUS, ZTE AND SECTION 337

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR UPDATE APRIL 21, 2017—MANY NEW TRADE CASES BEING FILED

The Trump trade war has escalated big time with new antidumping and countervailing duty cases against Mechanical Tubing, Tool Chests and a new Section 232 National Security case against all Steel imports.  Many importers simply do not realize how fast these trade cases move and how fast they can find themselves liable for antidumping and countervailing duties and other trade sanctions. With a sympathetic Trump Administration and a very sympathetic Wilbur Ross as the new Secretary of Commerce, more cases are going to be filed against China and numerous other countries.

In addition to the new trade cases, two section 337 patent cases has been filed against China on sockets for mobile electronic devices and robotic vacuum cleaning devices.

COLD-DRAWN MECHANICAL TUBING FROM CHINA, GERMANY, INDIA, ITALY, KOREA AND SWITZERLAND

On April 19, 2017, ArcelorMittal Tubular Products, Michigan Seamless Tube, LLC, PTC Alliance Corp., Webco Industries, Inc., and Zekelman Industries, Inc. filed major Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases against hundreds of millions of dollars of cold-drawn mechanical tubing from the six countries in 2016.  The petition alleges antidumping duties ranging as follows:

China: 88.2% – 188.88%

India: 25.48%

Italy: 37.23% – 69.13%

Germany: 70.53% – 148.32%

Republic of Korea: 12.14% – 48.61%

Switzerland: 40.53% – 115.21%

The cold-drawn mechanical tubing covered by the complaint is used to produce numerous different products in the United States, including auto parts and machinery.

As stated above, these trade cases move very quickly and many importers are blindsided because of the speed of the investigations.  In the Mechanical Tubing case, as indicated in the attached notice, ITC PRELIM MECHANICAL TUBING NOTICE, the ITC will conduct its preliminary injury hearing on May 10, 2017.  US importers’ liability for countervailing duties on imports from China and India will start on September 16, 2017, 150 days after the petition was filed, and for Antidumping Duties will start on November 15, 2017, 210 days after the petition was filed.

The entire investigation will take one year and antidumping and countervailing duty orders can last for 5 to 30 years.

If Importers want to fight the case, they must move quickly.  The first ITC hearing in the case will be on May 10, 2017, which is the part of the proceeding where importers can have a real impact.

Atttached is a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Indian, Chinese, Korean, German, Swiss and Italian exporters/producers and US importers, please feel free to contact me.  INJURY EXCERPT SCOPE IMPORTERS EXERPT MECHANICAL TUBING FOREIGN PRODUCERS EXCERPT MECHANICAL TUBING

TOOL CHESTS FROM CHINA AND VIETNAM

On April 11, 2017, Waterloo Industries Inc. filed major Antidumping and Countervailing Duty cases against hundreds of millions of dollars of imports of certain tool chests and cabinets from China and Vietnam.

As indicated in the attached notice, ITC PRELIM MECHANICAL TUBING NOTICE, in the Tool Chests case, the ITC will conduct its preliminary injury hearing on May 2, 2017.  US importers’ liability for countervailing duties on imports from China will start on September 8, 2017, 150 days after the petition was filed, and for Antidumping Duties from China and Vietnam will start on November 7, 2017, 210 days after the petition was filed.

The entire investigation will take one year and antidumping and countervailing duty orders can last for 5 to 30 years.

If Importers want to fight the case, they must move quickly.  The first ITC hearing in the case will be on May 2, 2017, which is the part of the proceeding where importers can have a real impact.

Attached is a copy of the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese and Vietnamese exporters/producers and US importers, Tool chests CHN VNM petition vol 1 narrative.  If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.

With a sympathetic Trump Administration in power, there will be a sharp rise in AD and CVD cases against China and other countries.

NEW NATIONAL SECURITY SECTION 232 CASE AGAINST STEEL IMPORTS FROM NUMEROUS COUNTRIES, INCLUDING CHINA

On April 20, 2017, as indicated in the attached documents, Presidential Memorandum Prioritizes Commerce Steel Investigation _ Department of Commerce Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Steel on U.S, President Trump announced a new trade investigation of steel imports under section 232 to determine if the tariffs should be imposed because the increased steel imports pose a threat to national security.  The trade action will be conducted under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act since 2001.

If the Commerce Department determines that the steel imports are a threat to national security, President Trump will be empowered to levy high tariffs and quotas on imports of steel products from various countries.

Under Section 232, the Commerce Department will conduct an investigation into the potential national security threat posed by the entry of foreign steel into the U.S. market. Commerce must issue its findings to the White House within 270 days, along with recommendations on what steps to take.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has stated, however, that the investigation may move along a faster track.  Once Commerce’s review is completed, the President has 90 days to decide whether to accept or reject its recommendations and to impose trade restraints, including tariffs or quotas on steel imports.

This may be the first attack, not just against China, but all steel imports from every country.  The problems with Commerce self-initiating antidumping and countervailing duty cases is the International Trade Commission.  The Administration does not control the ITC, but it does control Commerce.  By bringing a section 232 case, the Administration skips the injury test by the ITC and assuming the Commerce Department reaches an affirmative determination, the President is empowered to impose import relief in the form of tariffs and quotas.  From the Administration’s point of view, there is more than one way to solve the import problem.

NEW SECTION 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA AND OTHER COUNTRIES

COLLAPSIBLE SOCKETS FROM MOBILE ELECTRONIC DEVICES

On April 10, 2017, in the attached ITC notice, SOCKETS MARINE, PopSockets LLC filed a section 337 patent case against imports of Collapsible Sockets for Mobile Electronic Devices from the following Chinese companies:

Agomax Group Ltd., Hong Kong; Guangzhou Xi Xun Electronics Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Chuanghui Industry Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen VVI Electronic Limited, China; Shenzhen Yright Technology Co., Ltd., China; Hangzhou Hangkai Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Kinsen Technology Co., Limited, China; Shenzhen Enruize Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Showerstar Industrial Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Lamye Technology Co., Ltd., China; Jiangmen Besnovo Electronics Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Belking Electronic Co., Ltd., China; Yiwu Wentou Import & Export Co., Ltd., China; and Shenzhen CEX Electronic Co., Limited, China.

ROBOTIC VACUUM CLEANING DEVICES

On April 18, 2017, in the attached ITC notice, ROBOTIC VACUM CLEANERS, iRobot Corporation filed a section 337 patent case against imports of Robotic Vacuum Cleaning Devices from the following US and Chinese companies:

Bissell Homecare, Inc., Grand Rapids, Michigan; Hoover Inc., Glenwillow, Ohio; Royal Appliance Manufacturing Co., Inc. d/b/a TTI Floor Care North America, Inc., Glenwillow, Ohio; Bobsweep, Inc., Canada; Bobsweep USA, Henderson, Nevada; The Black & Decker Corporation, Towson, Maryland; Black & Decker (U.S) Inc., Towson, Maryland; Shenzhen ZhiYi Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a iLife, China; Matsutek Enterprises Co., Ltd., Taiwan; Suzhou Real Power Electric Appliance Co., Ltd., China; and Shenzhen Silver Star Intelligent Technology Co., Ltd., China.

If you have any questions about these cases or about the antidumping and countervailing duty cases, Section 232 Steel case, Trump and Trade, US trade policy, or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR MARCH 26, 2017

Dear Friends,

Although politicians in Washington DC have been focused on Obamacare and Russian involvement in the election, trade issues lurk beneath the surface.  Trade was stirred up with the release of Trump’s Trade Agenda, Lighthizer Confirmation Hearings, rumors of internal fights in the Trump trade team and meetings with foreign leaders, including Angela Merkel of Germany.  In fact, the amount of material on trade is mountainous.

One of the pillars for Trump’s objective of hitting a 3 percent annual growth rate (Obama never got over 2%,), is increased US exports, but as indicated above, trade is a two-way street.  As Democratic Congressman Rick Larson of Washington stated recently at the Washington Council on International Trade Meeting on March 13, the Trump Administration has to choose between a trade policy of Trade Agreements or Border Adjustment Taxes.  If the Trump Administration intends to hit imports with increased Border Adjustment Taxes, it will be very difficult to negotiate trade agreements with the many countries on Trump’s list.

On March 21st, in pushing the Republicans in the House of Representatives to push for the Obamacare repeal bill, President Trump stated that without the Obamacare repeal, the Republicans cannot take up the Tax Bill.  But with the collapse of the Obamacare repeal on March 24th, Congress is pivoting to Tax Reform.  That means tax reform, including the Border Adjustment Taxes, will be front and center.  The target of Trump and the Republican Congress is to pass a tax reform bill by August.

Thus the Trump Administration will be soon at a crossroads—increased taxes/tariffs on imports or trade agreements.  It will be very difficult, if not impossible, to have both.

Meanwhile, the decision of Senate Democrats to stall on the Confirmation of Robert Lighthizer has hurt the trade debate in the Administration.  Lighthizer knows trade law.  Many of the officials, such as Steve Bannon and Peter Navarro, in the Administration, do not know trade law and the Democratic decision to stall the confirmation truly has hurt the United States.

In addition to Border Adjustment taxes, this newsletter contains several articles about Trump and Trade or the Trump Trade Report.  There are growing arguments between Administration officials and by Republican Senators and Representatives outside the Administration on the Trump Trade Policy as officials and Senators and Congressmen understand the ramifications of a protectionist trade policy on the constituents in their States and Districts.

Agriculture is waking up. During the recent March 14 Confirmation Hearing of Robert Lighthizer, one could see the concerns of Senators from Agricultural States as they realize that agricultural exports, their ox will be the one gored by the new Trump trade policy.

Meanwhile, NAFTA will be renegotiated; CFIUS may include reciprocity: China is taking a divide and conquer strategy on the Non-Market Economy Issue in Antidumping Cases; and new trade cases have been filed on Aluminum Foil and Silicon Metal.

ZTE has agreed to pay record fines because of its export control violations; and a recent section 337 patent case stated that the US production of the patent lessee can be used to meet the domestic industry requirement.

In addition, hopefully Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, which is the only effective US trade remedy that saves companies and the jobs that go with them without curtailing imports, will expand.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP TRADE REPORT

TRUMP ADMINISTRATION ISSUES ITS 2017 TRADE POLICY AGENDA AND IT CREATES CONCERNS

On March 1, 2017, the Trump Administration issued its attached National Trade Policy Agenda for 2017 pursuant to 19 U.S.C. § 2213(a)(l)(B), 2017 TRUMP Trade Agenda.  In the short summary, which was released on March 1st, Trump stated in part:

“The overarching purpose of our trade policy – the guiding principle behind all of our actions in this key area – will be to expand trade in a way that is freer and fairer for all Americans. Every action we take with respect to trade will be designed to increase our economic growth, promote job creation in the United States, promote reciprocity with our trading partners, strengthen our manufacturing base and our ability to defend ourselves, and expand our agricultural and other exports.

As a general matter, we believe that these goals can be best accomplished by focusing on bilateral negotiations rather than multilateral negotiations – and by renegotiating and revising trade deals when our goals are not being met. Finally, we reject the notion that the United States can strengthen its geopolitical position by adopting trade measures that make American workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses less competitive in global markets.”

In other words, the Trump Administration will take a much stronger position on trade agreements and trade policy.

The most controversial part of the Trade Policy Agenda is the strict approach to the WTO.  Thus, one of the key objectives of the Agenda is”

“Resisting efforts by other countries – or international bodies like the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) – to weaken the rights and benefits of, or increase the obligations under, the various trade agreements to which the United States is a party.”

The Agenda then states under the section “Defending Our National Sovereignty Over Trade Policy”:

“it has been a basic principle of our country that American citizens are subject only to laws and regulations made by the U.S. government – not rulings made by foreign governments or international bodies. This principle remains true today.  Accordingly, the Trump Administration will aggressively defend American sovereignty over matters of trade policy.”

One of the key objectives, just like other Administrations, will be to reduce and eliminate foreign barriers to US exports, but the Agenda then goes on to state:

“It is time for a more aggressive approach. The Trump Administration will use all possible leverage – including, if necessary, applying the principle of reciprocity to countries that refuse to open their markets – to encourage other countries to give U.S. producers fair access to their markets. The purpose of this effort is to ensure that more markets are truly open to American goods and services and to enhance, rather than restrict, global trade and competition.”

One key principle the administration said it plans to apply is a form of trade quid pro quo called “reciprocity” to countries that refuse to open up their markets.  Lawmakers and the Trump administration are considering toughening up national-security reviews of foreign investments into the U.S. to leverage better trade terms with China. If Beijing does not open up its markets to U.S. investors or exports, for example, the administration could use its powers to block Chinese deals to buy U.S. assets, or threaten higher tariffs on  Chinese imports.

The Agenda also expresses an interest in using Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 to open up restraints in foreign countries to US exports.  But 301 has not been used since the WTO’s 1995 inception.  The Agenda states

“Properly used, Section 301 can be a powerful lever to encourage foreign countries to adopt more market-friendly policies.  The Trump administration believes that it is essential to both the United States and the world trading system that all U.S. trade laws be strictly and effectively enforced.”

The Agenda also singles out trade deficits with China, Mexico, Canada and Korea and calls for a renegotiation of trade agreements and a more aggressive approach to trade enforcement.  Although these policies are very aggressive on paper, the question is how will the new Trump Administration apply these policies.

In conclusion, the Agenda states:

“For more than 20 years, the United States government has been committed to trade policies that emphasized multilateral agreements and international dispute settlement mechanisms. The hope was that by giving up some of our willingness to act independently, we could obtain better treatment for U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses, Instead, we find that in too many instances, Americans have been put at an unfair disadvantage in global markets. Under these circumstances, it is time for a new trade policy that defends American sovereignty, enforces U.S. trade laws, uses American leverage to open markets abroad, and negotiates new trade agreements that are fairer and more effective both for the United States and for the world trading system, particularly those countries committed to a market-based economy.”

The Trump Administration also stated that it intends to update the document when Congress confirms Robert Lighthizer as the next US Trade Representative.

Parts of the policy document contain arguments similar to those in a widely attached circulated memorandum Mr. Lighthizer wrote in 2010 to the US China Commission, LIGHTHIZER 2010 STATEMENT US CHINA ECONOMIC SECURITY COMMISSION. At the time, Mr. Lighthizer told a congressionally mandated China commission that the U.S. could put its WTO commitments on hold, restricting imports from China until the country changes its behavior in key areas.

When the Trump Trade Agenda came out, the Press reported that the Trump Administration will ignore adverse decisions from the WTO.  During the Obama Administration, however, although WTO decisions were not ignored, they were slow walked, especially in the antidumping and countervailing duty area, with only small changes made in response to the WTO decision.

The Trump Administration will probably follow the same procedures.  The rubber will only meet the road when in response to adverse WTO decisions, foreign countries work up retaliation lists.  Then the Administration will have to decide whether to ignore the WTO decision or not.

In fact, after the Agenda was released, Presidential spokesman Sean Spicer stated that noncompliance with the WTO was not the formal policy of the administration.

In addition, many trade experts believe that the Trade Agenda was just rhetoric and we will need to see whether in the future there truly will be a fundamental shift in actual trade policy.  As one trade expert told me, it will take years for this policy to actually work out.

Moreover, as indicated below, Agriculture is waking up.  Now that Agricultural Senators and Congressmen realize that if there is a trade war, their ox is the one that will get gored, agriculture exports will be seriously hurt, the Trump Administration will probably slow up its aggressive trade policy as the hot protectionist rhetoric meets the realities of the international trade system where trade is a two way street.

If the United States truly signals it will not comply with WTO decisions, and other countries impose retaliatory penalties against U.S. imports, it could usher in an era of economic protectionism worldwide, which could trigger a global trade war that could disrupt international business and growth.  But that also would mean that the Trump Administration will not meet its 3% GDP growth target for the entire economy.

The real issue that the Trump Administration simply does not understand is that even though there may be trade deficits, free trade rises all boats.  The US now has over $1 trillion in exports, but the Trump Administration is focused on trade deficits with countries, such as China, Mexico and Germany.  The Trump Administration ignores the trade surpluses with other countries.  More importantly, free trade agreements have caused all boats to rise, increasing economic activity in the United States and creating jobs.  Because of NAFTA, US exports have quintupled creating millions of new jobs, but the Trump Administration appears to focus only on the trade deficit, which is relatively small in comparison to the surge in US exports.

At the same time that the White House issued its trade agenda on March 1, John Brinkley of Forbes, in an article entitled,Trump’s Trade Ideas As Bad As Ever,” responded to on President Trump’s first “State of the Union” address to the Congress where Trump stated:

“I believe strongly in free trade, but it also has to be fair trade.

Fine, but how do you achieve fair trade? Is it to punish other countries whose trade policies aren’t advantageous to the United States? Or is it to work with them collegially to get them to change those policies?
The latter course is the one that all presidents since World War II have chosen. They have negotiated 14 free trade agreements with 20 countries – agreements that require parties to eliminate tariffs and give fair and equitable treatment to one another.

Previous presidents helped set up the GATT and then the World Trade Organization as a forum for ensuring that countries play by the rules of global trade. Since the WTO was created in 1994, the United States has quietly resolved hundreds of trade disputes in its favor through WTO-sponsored consultations.

When consultations don’t solve the problem, the government can file a formal complaint in the WTO’s Dispute Resolution Body. If it rules in our favor, we can impose temporary, retaliatory tariffs or demand compensation.

That is fair trade. Accusing other countries of taking advantage of us, threatening them with exorbitant tariffs, and declaring that the United States is not beholden to WTO rules, as the Trump administration did today, is not fair trade. It’s more like anarchy.

On March 8, 2017 after the Trade Policy Agenda was issued, John Brinkley of Forbes published another article entitled, “Trump’s Disdain For WTO Portends Only Trouble” stating:

After the World Trade Organization was established in 1995, the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations made good use of its dispute settlement system. The United States is batting about .500 in cases that proceeded to a final ruling; most of them don’t. Barack Obama had a perfect record in the WTO when he left office, but some of the complaints his administration filed are still pending.

None of the three presidents said the system was unfair or tried to make an end run around it.

Then came Donald Trump. He has nothing but disdain for the WTO and for the very idea of an international organization making and enforcing rules that the United States has to obey. So, in keeping with Trump’s “America First” ideology, the White House declared last week that America doesn’t have to follow those rules.

When one country accuses another of a trade rule violation, such as dumping a product in the host country at below-market value or unfairly subsidizing a domestic industry, the first step toward resolving it is a WTO-sponsored consultation between the two governments. If that fails, the accuser can request a hearing by a dispute settlement panel. The loser of that proceeding can take its case to the WTO’s Appellate Body.

Between 1995 and 2015, the United States filed 109 complaints to the WTO’s Dispute Settlement Body and had 124 filed against it. The U.S. government has settled about two-thirds of them through consultations, thus making recourse to a hearing unnecessary. Like most diplomatic initiatives, these results are achieved out of the public eye and without fanfare.

It’s hard to know what the Trump administration finds objectionable about this system, or why he considers the WTO “a disaster.” None of the WTO’s 163 other members seem to have a problem with it.

But Trump and his merry band of protectionists think they know a better way: to ignore the WTO if it issues a ruling they don’t like.

The President’s Trade Policy Agenda for 2017 says legislation enacted in 1994 lets the administration decide arbitrarily whether to comply with a WTO dispute settlement ruling that goes against the United States.

“If a WTO dispute settlement report is adverse to the United States, [the U.S. Trade Representative shall] consult with the appropriate Congressional committees concerning whether to implement the report’s recommendation, and, if so, the manner of such implementation and the period of time needed for such implementation,” the Trade Policy Agenda says.

In other words, the United States will comply with WTO decisions – decisions based on rules that the United States helped write – if it feels like it. Incredibly, Trump, et al, seem to think this approach would have no negative consequences.

If the U.S. government refuses to comply with a dispute settlement ruling against it, the WTO can authorize retaliation by the aggrieved party. That is likely to be a tariff increase targeted at the industry whose trade practices led to the adverse ruling. If a targeted tariff increase isn’t feasible, the aggrieved country can raise tariffs against some other industry.

Presumably, Trump would then retaliate against the retaliator and off we’d go into a destructive trade war.

It’s important to understand that the United States was intimately involved in the creation of the WTO and the drafting of its rules. During previous administrations, the U.S. ambassador to the WTO was in Geneva almost every day protecting the interests of the American industries and workers. Contrary to what Trump says, the WTO is not a foreign body accountable to no one. It’s a democratic institution, accountable to its members.

As former U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman said in the President’s Trade Agenda for 2014:

“A robust international trading system offers the greatest economic benefits when all trading partners abide by their commitments and play by the same rules.”

LIGHTHIZER CONFIRMATION HEARING

On March 14, 2017, the Senate Finance Committee held its confirmation hearing on Robert Lighthizer as United States Trade Representative.  One can see the confirmation hearing in its entirety at https://www.c-span.org/video/?425333-1/us-trade-representative-nominee-testifies-confirmation-hearing

But as of March 23, 2017, Lighthizer’s confirmation vote is being held up in the Committee and on the Senate floor because his status as an advocate more than 30 years ago for the Brazilian government in a 1985 trade case, prior to the time when I was an associate at Skadden, Arps, appears to require a waiver in order for him to assume his role at USTR.  Unfortunately, this decision has left Lighthizer, the best trade lawyer on Trump’s team, out of the internal discussions on trade policy.

The White House has itself pushed to make the waiver vote unnecessary. White House counsel Donald F. McGahn wrote to Hatch and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on March 3 citing a Clinton-era Office of Legal Counsel opinion as a challenge to the waiver rule.

A week after the March 21st confirmation hearing, Senator Pat Roberts of Kansas stated:

“I think we made it clear, I think [Finance Chairman] Orrin Hatch made it very clear that it’s not needed. But I don’t know what mood our friends across the aisle are in, and I have no idea what they’re going to do.”

Senator Ron Wyden ranking Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, however, stated:

“We’ve made it clear we’re going to insist on the waiver. There’s this quaint idea that the law should actually matter, and the law says a person in his position has got to get a waiver.”

Thus Lighthizer’s nomination has been held up “for what feels like eons” according to Wyden, but at this point in time it is still not moving.

Meanwhile on March 22, 2017, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in the attached letter, chamber_letter, pushed for a quick vote Lighthizer for USTR stating:

“Mr. Lighthizer has led a distinguished career as a trade policy practitioner and has a reputation as a staunch advocate for American industry. The Chamber believes he will represent the nation’s interests well as he works with international partners and addresses trade challenges at the negotiating table and before the World Trade Organization. The Chamber encourages a swift vote on his nomination and looks forward to working with him as the next U.S. Trade Representative.”

During the Confirmation hearing, Lighthizer had bipartisan support with many Democratic and Republican Senators vouching support for his candidacy.  One of the two issues of primary importance was the decision to break mega deals, such as the TPP, into bilateral deals with individual countries.

The problem, however, is that trade deals take a lot of time to negotiate.  The TPP took almost 10 years to negotiate with the 12 countries involved.  But by abandoning the TPP, with an objective of creating individual trade deals with the TPP member companies, the US Government has probably quintupled its work load, if not increased it twelve fold.

Although Lighthizer indicated that USTR would use the TPP draft agreement as a basis to negotiate a number of bilateral agreements, negotiating that many trade deals will take an enormous amount of work by a very small agency – USTR—with only just over 200 employees at offices in Brussels Belgium, Geneva Switzerland and Washington DC.  Trump’s budget is not clear whether USTR will get an increase in budget or whether its budget will be cut.

The second point is the importance of Trade Deals to US Agriculture exports.  In the Lighthizer confirmation hearing, all of a sudden Senators from agriculture states started to wake up.  If the TPP had passed, the biggest winner would have been US agriculture exports with tariffs dropping on more than 18,000 different products, many being agricultural products.  Now the TPP is gone and countries are racing into those overseas markets to replace US agricultural products.

Agriculture Senators and Congressmen want trade deals now because the United States is exporting billions of dollars in agricultural products to the rest of the World.  Mexican government officials recently declared that since Trump wants to be tough on trade with Mexico, they will cut $2.4 billion in imports of corn from the United States and replace the US corn with corn from Brazil and Argentina.  Congressman Newhouse at a recent Washington Council on International Trade stated that after the Korea FTA, exports of Washington State cherries doubled and Washington State French fries increased by 52%.  Increased exports means more jobs.

With a decision not to do the TPP, Senators and Congressmen from agricultural states fear that other countries will replace the United States and get those benefits.  As indicated below, that is a real and justified fear.

TRUMP TRADE AGENDA—OPPOSITION TO THE TRUMP TRADE POLICY IN THE ADMINISTRATION AND IN CONGRESS

Part of the Trump trade problem is the perception by Trump and many on his internal trade staff, such as Peter Navarro, that trade is a one-way street.  The Administration apparently believes it can simply issue an executive order raising tariffs, taxes or barriers to imports with no reaction by foreign countries.

But the Trump Administration is now in the international arena.  Although Trump won the Presidency, he has no political power over foreign countries.  Trade is a two-way street and as stated in several past newsletters, Mexico, Canada, China, and Germany have all threatened retaliation if the US imposes trade restraints, including Border Adjustment Taxes.  Deals have to be negotiated, but most countries, including the US, will not negotiate a deal when a gun is pointed at their head.

INTERNAL ADMINISTRATION TRADE FIGHTS—NAVARRO CREATES AN INTERNAL TRADE WAR

On March 10th the Financial Times reported that a trade war had broken out in White House in what was called “a fiery meeting” in the Oval Office pitting economic nationalists close to Donald Trump against pro­trade moderates in Treasury and the Economic Council from Wall Street.

Navarro is the ultra-nationalist economist who has angered Berlin and other European allies by accusing Germany of currency manipulation and exploiting a “grossly undervalued” euro and calling for bilateral discussions with Angela Merkel’s government over ways to reduce the US trade deficit with Germany.

The fight was between trade hardliners, such as Steve Bannon and Peter Narvarro, against the free trade economic faction led by Gary Cohn, the executive from Goldman Sachs, who heads the National Economic Council.  Note that since Lighthizer has not been confirmed, he could not be part of the discussion.  Bannon and Navarro support the Border Adjustment Tax while Cohn and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin oppose it.

During the last several weeks, Navarro appeared to be losing influence. But during the recent Oval Office fight, Mr Trump appeared to side with the economic nationalists.

Mr Navarro’s case has angered Republicans in Congress because he was criticized for being ill­prepared and vague at a closed­door briefing he held with Senators in February.

Reports have been made that Mr Navarro is becoming increasingly isolated in the administration. He has been operating with a very small staff out of an office in the Old Executive Office Building adjacent to the White House, while Mr Cohn has been adding staff to his NEC base inside the West Wing of the White House.

On March 5th, Navarro published an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on why trade deficits matter:

Do  trade  deficits matter? The question is important because America’s trade deficit in goods is large and persistent, about $2 billion every day. . . .

Reducing a trade deficit through tough, smart negotiations is a way to increase net exports—and boost the rate of economic growth. . . .

Similarly, if the U.S. uses its leverage as the world’s largest market to persuade India to reduce its notoriously high tariffs and Japan to lower its formidable nontariff barriers, America will surely sell more Washington apples, Florida oranges, California wine, Wisconsin cheese and Harley-Davidson motorcycles. Just as surely, the U.S. trade deficit would fall, economic growth would increase, and real wages would rise from Seattle and Orlando to Sonoma and Milwaukee. . . .

But running large and persistent trade deficits also facilitates a pattern of wealth transfers offshore. . .

Might we lose a broader hot war because America has sent its defense-industrial base abroad on the wings of a persistent trade deficit?

Today, after decades of trade deficits and a mass migration of factories offshore, there is only one American company that can repair Navy submarine propellers—and not a single company that can make flat-panel displays for military aircraft or night-vision goggles. Meanwhile, America’s steel industry is on the ropes, its aluminum industry is flat on its back, and its shipbuilding industry is gathering barnacles. The U.S. has begun to lose control of its food-supply chain, and foreign firms are eager to purchase large swaths of Silicon Valley’s treasures.

Much of Wall Street and most economists simply don’t care. But to paraphrase Mike Pence on the 2016 campaign trail, the people of Fort Wayne know better. The analysts at the Pentagon know better, too. That’s why, for both economic and national-security reasons, it is important to bring America’s trade back into balance—through free, fair and reciprocal trade.

As indicated below, however, do trade deficits justify increased US barriers to imports?  Wouldn’t a policy of making companies more competitive with imports, such as Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, explained below be a better option.  TAA does not risk retaliation from other countries.

Moreover, as stated above, focusing on trade deficits ignores the enormous increase in US exports to those countries.  Navarro focuses on a trade deficit and ignores the fact that US exports are over $1 trillion and support millions of jobs.  A trade war will cut those exports and jobs in half.  That will not make America great again.

Recently Navarro attempted to intervene in an antidumping duty case at the Commerce Department on Oil Country Tubular Goods from Korea sparking outrage from the trade lawyers representing the Korean steel mills.  Navarro should keep in mind that the Commerce Department in antidumping cases makes its decision based on the facts on the administrative record and the Commerce Department’s determinations are subject to Court review by the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit.  In the past, Courts have made clear that when a Government agency, such as the Commerce Department, makes a decision based on politics, that is a reason for depositions of the government official.  Navarro might be deposed in any appeal of the OCTG case to the Court.

On March 13, John Brinkley of Forbes in an article entitled, “Commerce Secretary Ross Thinks U.S. Is In A Trade War”, which also addressed Navarro’s thinking, stated:

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, responding to concerns that the Trump administration is pushing the United States toward a trade war, said we were already in one.

“We’ve been in a trade war for decades,” he said last week in an interview with Bloomberg News. “That’s why we have the (trade) deficits.”

But not to worry, Ross said. “It’s not going to be a shooting war. If people know you have the big bazooka, you probably don’t have to use it.”

That’s the Luca Brasi negotiating method: bend to our will or we’ll blow you to smithereens. Peter Navarro, the head of the White House National Trade Council, recently suggested that future trade agreements include a rule stating that they can be renegotiated any time the U.S. runs a trade deficit with the partner country. That is, to put it mildly, a non-starter.

Ross’s and Navarro’s remarks are symptomatic of the Trump administration’s singular obsession with trade deficits. However, the fact that the United States has a global trade deficit does not mean we’re in a trade war. It doesn’t mean our trading partners are cheating us any more than that we’re cheating Canada and the United Kingdom by running trade surpluses with them. It means we import more than we export. One of the reasons for that is the strength of the dollar in foreign exchange markets. A strong dollar makes imports less expensive and exports more expensive. That, in turn, leads to more choices and lower prices for American consumers.

Navarro said in a recent speech that trade surpluses were synonymous with economic growth. History suggests otherwise. The U.S. economy added 235,000 jobs in February and the unemployment rate fell to 4.7%. The trade deficit in January (February not available yet) was $48.5 billion, the highest it’s been since March  2012.

The trade deficit decreased during the recession of 2008-09. The United States ran a trade surplus through most of the Great Depression.

Ross didn’t say who the enemy was in this supposed trade war, but President Trump has made it clear that he has it in for China and Mexico, our second and third largest trading partners, respectively. Our largest bilateral trade deficits are with those countries.

So, Trump intends to renegotiate NAFTA. And, he has threatened China with punitive tariffs. He has said doing these things would erase the U.S. trade deficit, cause a renaissance of American manufacturing jobs and bring the 3% GDP growth he promised.

They would do none of those things.

“Withdrawal from the Trans-Pacific Partnership, renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, and launching trade actions against China ensure political headlines, but they will not make much difference to the global U.S. trade deficit. Nor will they bring more jobs and higher wages to U.S. workers,” said Gary Clyde Hufbauer and Euijin Jung of the Peterson Institute of International Economics in an article published in February.

They also noted that the trade deficit is financed in part by foreign direct investment, which is unquestionably beneficial to the U.S. economy. Foreign-owned companies operating in the United States directly employ 6.1 million Americans, according to the U.S. Commerce Department. FDI stock in the U.S. stands at almost $3 trillion.

One way to reduce the trade deficit would be to devalue the dollar against the Chinese yuan and other currencies.  That would be politically difficult because it’s what Trump (wrongly) accuses China of doing on a regular basis. It would also raise the prices of imported food and manufactured goods and, possibly, cause inflation. That would hurt low-income Americans the most.

A better idea would be for the Trump trade triumvirate to calculate America’s balance of trade with its 20 free trade agreement partners. They would find that we have an aggregate trade surplus with them. Maybe then they’d reconsider their plans to renegotiate or withdraw from those agreements.

If Ross thinks we’re in a trade war now, let him propose raising tariffs against Mexico and China over and above the World Trade Organization’s Most Favored Nation rates. Then, we’d be in a trade war for real.

NAVARRO’S STANDING WITH CONGRESS DROPS

On March 16th, senior trade officials from the administration, minus Robert Lighthizer, headed up to Capitol Hill to talk with members of the House Ways and Means Committee about NAFTA, among other trade topics – marking the latest step in what one administration official described as a series of ongoing consultations between the administration and Congress before the White House formally moves to reopen the agreement.

The next step will be for the administration to formally notify Congress that its NAFTA  plans to begin talks, triggering a congressionally mandated 90-day consultation period before the renegotiation can start.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that the White House hopes to send that notification letter “sometime in the next couple of weeks,” meaning formal talks are likely to begin around early summer. Ross is expected attended the March 16th meeting, as did senior members of the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative including general counsel and acting USTR Stephen Vaughn, and deputy general counsel Maria Pagan.

Peter Navarro, however, did not go to the Capital Hill meeting. After a meeting with the Senate Finance Committee in February – which was described as “a disaster” – Navarro made such a poor impression that Senators viewed it as a reason for why they need to get USTR nominee Robert Lighthizer confirmed as soon as possible.  That meeting also spurred additional questions about who is really in charge on trade and led to strong reminders that USTR holds the statutory authority.

G-20 BECOMES MORE PROTECTIONIST

On March 18th, the trade protectionist rhetoric increased as it was reported that the G-20 member states dropped the no-protectionism pledge, which indicates more trade storms to come.  The G­20 is an informal forum on economic cooperation made up of 19 countries plus the European Union.  Finance ministers from the Group of 20 countries met in the southern German town of Baden­Baden and issued a statement saying only that countries “are working to strengthen the contribution of trade” to their economies.  In last yearʹs meeting under the Obama Administration, called on countries to resist “all forms” of protectionism, which can include border tariffs and rules that keep out imports to shield domestic companies from competition.

During the press conference, I was told that U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was peppered with questions about the border adjustment tax.  Munchin did state that trade deals need to offer a win-win scenario and went on to state:

“We believe in free trade: we are one of the largest markets in the world, we are one of the largest trading partners in the world.  Having said that, we want to re­examine certain agreements… And to the extent that agreements are old agreements and need to be renegotiated weʹll consider that as well.”

AGRICULTURE WAKES UP BECAUSE IT REALIZES HOW MUCH IT WILL LOSE WITH A PROTECTIONIST ANTI TRADE POLICY

In the past, many reporters have asked me what could China or other countries retaliate against.  The United States does not export much.  US exports are simply too small.  In the face of large trade deficits with China, Mexico and other countries in the manufacturing area, what is the US exporting that can be a retaliation target?

US trade data indicate that US exports for 2016 were over $1 trillion.  In the Robert Lighthizer confirmation hearings, you could hear the real concern of many Senators, especially from the agriculture states, that products from their states could be retaliation targets.  Their worry is certainly justified.

As Senator Pat Roberts stated at the Lighthizer Confirmation hearings:

“I’m going to try and demonstrate that we are going through a pretty rough patch in agriculture.  If Trump makes good on his promises to turn U.S. trade policy into a war against imports, “we are going to get into a very difficult situation.”

During the Confirmation Hearing, Roberts, Grassley and other Agriculture Senators extracted a pledge from Lighthizer that in negotiating trade agreements he would push agriculture interests to the top of the list. Senators and Congressmen from Agriculture states fear that if no new trade agreements are negotiated, US agriculture will lose market share and will become the retaliation target of other countries.

Mexico, in fact, is one of the largest buyers of US corn, much of which comes from Kansas and Iowa.  US exports about $2.4 billion in corn to Mexico.  Now Mexico is talking about retaliation and buying its corn from Brazil and Argentina.  What goes around comes around.

U.S. Senators and Congressmen noticed when a Mexican lawmaker introduced legislation favoring Latin American products over American- exported corn, a key winner in Nafta. That move followed warnings from Mr. Trump that Nafta would be renegotiated and Mexico would have to pay for a new border wall.  In response, Republican Senator Joni Ernst of Iowa stated:

“I have been worried because other countries have pushed back: ‘You want us to build a wall, well we’re not going to take your corn.’  If we’re talking about renegotiating Nafta, we actually stand to lose ground in agriculture—so we would really have to work that very, very carefully.”

On March 6th, leaders of the US Dairy industry were in Mexico to attempt and protect their exports from uncertainty over the future of NAFTA. After NAFTA was signed in 1994, American dairy exports to Mexico more than quadrupled to $1.2 billion, accounting for nearly one-fourth of all U.S. dairy exports last year. Because of Trump’s attacks on Mexico, it has encouraged Mexican importers to find other suppliers in the European Union and New Zealand, which are eager to get into the market, and in New Zealand’s case are part of the TPP.

In response to the criticism that Trump is putting his trade focus on the plight of the U.S. manufacturing sector at the expense of the export-dependent agriculture sector, on March 21st Trump pivoted to agriculture.  Sean Spicer, the President’s press secretary stated:

“While our farmers are the most efficient in the world, margins have been tightening, regulations have been multiplying, and exports, which has historically counted for over one- fifth of the U.S. farm production, have been declining due to unwise trade policies.  The President promised the many people in the agriculture industry and throughout rural America that he would not allow this to continue and he will continue to pursue policy changes that will reverse this disturbing trend.”

John Bode, president and CEO of the Corn Refiners Association praised the statement saying that Trump’s proclamation recognizes that “improved trade balances and a successful agriculture sector are inextricably linked.”  He further stated:

“Our industry’s exports not only deliver jobs at home, they are among America’s fundamental strengths abroad.  We are heartened to know that this White House agrees and that they will seek to increase agricultural exports as they examine existing and future trade agreements.”

Ray Starling, special assistant to the president for agriculture on the National Economic Council, recently stated at a National Ag Day event in Washington:

“The President has talked a lot about our manufacturing imbalance on trade, but that is not meant to neglect ag. That is essentially to say we know ag is doing a good job, we are making strides there, we need to do more.”

Now we have to wait and see if Trump truly means what he says or whether he wants a trade war, which will hurt US exports, especially in the agriculture area.

SENATORS AND CONGRESSMEN WANT MORE TRADE DEALS–BILATERAL VERSUS MULTILATERAL DEALS

Back on January 26, 2017 in an interview with Sean Hannity on Fox News, Trump explained that he did not like multilateral trade deals, such as the TPP, because they are a mosh pit and fall to the lowest common denominator.

During his confirmation hearing, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that it easy to negotiate bilateral deals than multilateral deals.  But the question is, will it be easier to negotiate 12 bilateral deals with 12 different countries when one deal, the TPP, would have done it.  More importantly, although the US will renegotiate NAFTA and start trade deals with Japan and eventually Britain, is it truly realistic for the very small USTR to have continual negotiations with dozens of countries at the same time.  The TPP took 10 years to negotiate.  Maybe Ross is just playing a game and does not want more trade deals.

At a recent trade conference on March 13th here in Seattle held by the Washington Council on International Trade, however, it was very apparent that Washington State Congressmen, both Democrats and Republicans, want more trade deals.

At the Conference Congressman Dave Reichert, WA Republican, and Chairman of the Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means, stated that the Trump Administration intends to do more bilateral deals.  He also stated that since NAFTA is a trilateral agreement, all three countries, Mexico, Canada and the US need to be at the table.

Reichert also stated that we cannot give up trade agreements because the cost would be too high.  China will benefit.  He also stated that the United States needs to set the international trade standards through trade agreements or China will do so and 95% of the World’s population and markets are outside US.

Reichert stated that the longer we wait to do trade deals, the more market shares we lose.  He pointed to the FTA with Korea, which dramatically reduced the 24% Korean tariff on cherries, and Washington State cheery exports doubled and Washington French Fries went up 53%.

When NAFTA took place US exports to Mexico doubled reaching $180 billion.  There is now over $500 billion in trade between US and Mexico

Following Reichert, Republican Congressman Dan Newhouse, who represents large Agricultural interests in the Center of Washington stated, “We cannot afford to waste any time as we create opportunities for local producers and exporters to gain access to new markets.”

Congressman Rick Larsen stated that the Administration has to decide whether it will do Border Adjustment taxes or trade deals.  Larsen went on to state that trade is much bigger than just agreements. It is soft power.  Asian countries see the US leading with military power, but the US relationship with the other Asian countries is less secure if the only relationship is military and not trade.

Democratic Congressman Denny Heck stated that TPP went too far too fast and was not politically possible.  Echoing Donald Trump, Heck stated that the white working man has seen no increase in income in 40 years.

But Newhouse stated that after the Korea FTA, Washington State potato growers saw an increase in exports of 670,000 tons of French Fries to Korea.  That is jobs.

On March 22nd, John Brinkley in an article entitled, Trump’s “Trade Policies Would Take From the Many and Give To a Few” points out the problem of relying only on bilateral agreements as compared to multilateral agreements:

“Politics can be defined as taking something from someone and giving it to someone else. Done right, the winners outnumber the losers and the sacrifice will have been worthwhile.

This seems lost on the Trump administration, whose trade proposals are likely to create a lot more losers than winners.

Let’s start with his plan to eschew multilateral trade agreements and negotiate only bilateral ones. With a multilateral agreement, like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, all parties play by the same rules. That means exporters don’t have to figure out what the rules of origin are country-by- country. They’re all the same.

Deciphering and complying with rules of origin under a free trade agreement are among the most difficult and time-consuming chores that exporting companies have to perform. If the rule says 70 percent of a truck’s parts have to have been made in the United States, the company has to go to its suppliers and say, where did the door handles come from? Where did the tires come from?

A lot of smaller companies find it isn’t worth the time and expense, so they ship the product and pay the tariff. Or they don’t export at  all.

Having a series of bilateral agreements makes it even harder, because each agreement would have its own rules of origin. American manufacturers were looking forward to ratification of the TPP, because it was to be a 12-country trading bloc with one set of rules. But Trump withdrew the United States from it.

Renegotiating NAFTA is another idea that would take from the many for the benefit of a few.

Breaking up NAFTA and negotiating separate bilateral agreements with Mexico and Canada would be even worse. U.S. Trade Representative nominee Robert Lighthizer said during his Senate confirmation hearing that the administration might take that course.

NAFTA has been in effect for 23 years. Whatever impacts it had on American employment and economic growth are well in the past. If you look under NAFTA’s hood, you see a complex network of supply chains crossing the three countries’ borders. They make it easy and cost-effective for American manufacturers to buy parts from Mexico or Canada and have them delivered quickly and duty-free.

About half of Mexico’s exports to the United States are parts for products that are built here – car parts, electronic components and so  on.

Making those parts more expensive would make the products they go into more expensive and would reduce the importing companies’ revenues, leading to lay-offs or worse. That is basic economics.

Trump said yesterday that renegotiating NAFTA was “going to be an easy one.” Everyone who has ever been a trade negotiator probably got a chuckle out of that. . .. .

“The United States has been treated very, very unfairly by many countries over the years, and that’s going to stop,” he said last week during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Poor little us. We’re being pushed around by those mean bullies from South Korea and Mexico.

Nonetheless, the U.S. and global economies have been growing at a healthy pace. The U.S. unemployment rate is 4.7 percent, about as low as it can go, and median wages have finally started to increase for the first time since the recession of 2008.

This seems to call for an economic policy of caution and restraint to keep the recovery going rather than taking a machete to our trade agreements and punishing our trading partners for transgressions they have not committed.

That would harm vastly more Americans than it would help.

On February 28th, however, it was reported that the EU expects the Trump Administration to negotiate with the entire block as EU countries pushed back on Trump’s bilateral dreams.  European countries in the EU bloc have been unified against the Trump administration’s reported attempts to bring individual EU countries into direct, bilateral trade deals with the U.S. The EU ambassador at a recent National Press Club meeting stated that bilateral deals are “nonsense”.  David O’ Sullivan stated:

“It’s nonsense to talk about bilateral deals with countries that are part of a single market.  Would American companies really want 28 separate FTAs?”

In Germany, Martin Schäfer, spokesperson for the German foreign ministry, stated:

“The [European] Commission carries out trade negotiations and concludes trade agreements for Europe and for us. This is the legal status, about which we have nothing critical to say.  The new political constellation in the U.S. and elsewhere should not tempt anybody to take up a different position.”

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom also stated recently:

“The U.S. administration seems to favor bilateral relations over multilateralism. And some of the proposals we have seen floated, such as a border adjustment tax, could be at odds with WTO rules. Countries should be able to protect themselves from distortions and unfair trade practices. But that has to be done within the framework of the WTO. Global rules mean everyone playing fair, by a consistent, predictable and transparent rulebook.

In an age when some want to rebuild walls, re-impose barriers, restrict people’s freedom to move … we stand open to progressive trade with the world.”

On March 6th, a top European official stated that U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist stance may propel Asian, Middle Eastern and Latin American economic powers into market-opening alliances with the European Union.  Jyrki Katainen, a vice president of the European Commission, the EU’s executive arm, said Trump’s rejection of multilateral commercial deals and border-tax threat are giving impetus to the 28-nation bloc’s push for free- trade or investment pacts with countries including Japan, China, India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Mexico, Brazil and Argentina.

Katainen stated that:

“When there has been some signals to raise protectionism, especially from the U.S. side, the rest of the world seems to be fighting back and saying that this is not our line, this is something which we don’t want. This is music to our ears.”

The comments signal that Trump’s “America First” approach that seeks to reduce the U.S.’s $502 billion trade deficit may be as much an opportunity as a threat to the EU.

Recently, the US equipment manufacturing industry, which supports more than 1.3 million jobs, expressed its concern about exports.  A report by the Association of Equipment Manufacturers stated that about 30 percent of the construction equipment and about 30 percent of the agricultural equipment manufactured in the United States is designated for export – and would therefore be hit hardest by any slowdown in global trade:

“Slow international growth combined with uncertainty about trading rules under the Trump administration could act as a drag on the equipment manufacturing industry’s overall performance.  Any steps the Trump administration might take to revisit or exit existing trade agreements could further complicate the challenging economic environment outside the United States.

It is difficult to precisely forecast how the Trump administration might rewrite existing trading rules, but any steps that make it more difficult for manufacturers to export their products could hinder growth in the industry.”

TPP CONTINUES WITHOUT THE US

On March 14th Government officials from the 12 Trans-Pacific Partnership nations minus the United States held a two-day summit in Chile to discuss a path forward on trade following the US decision to withdraw from the TPP.

New Zealand Trade Minister Todd McClay stated:

“I have recently visited Australia, Japan, Singapore and Mexico, met with ministers from Brunei and Malaysia and talked directly with trade ministers from all other TPP countries.  It is clear our partners remain committed to the benefits high quality trade agreements provide.”

Even though the TPP requires that at least six countries composing at least 85 percent of the entire TPP’s collective economic production, with the US withdrawal, the other 11 countries have decided to move forward with the TPP.  As Wendy Cutler, a former trade negotiator at USTR, stated:

“A TPP agreement without the U.S. is still relevant and would have significant economic value.  You’d still have four of the world’s 20 largest economies — Japan, Canada, Australia, and Mexico — alongside significant emerging economies, like Vietnam and Malaysia.”

In other words, other countries will replace US exports in those markets because they will have the benefit of the TPP.

After the meeting in Chile, Australian Trade Minister Steven Ciobo stated:

“I was particularly pleased there was continuing movement on the TPP.  Countries remain committed to exploring all the avenues and opportunities in relation to the TPP. There was broad agreement on the high level of ambition in the TPP being a benchmark and something we shouldn’t just let slip away.”

Japanese State Minister Takao Ochi stated:

“As long as Japan is concerned we don’t want to exclude any possible ways and we would like to take initiative in discussing with each of the member countries.”

The 11 countries will now work to preserve the trade deal’s innovations, which included new rules on digital trade, disciplines for state-owned companies and what have been touted as the toughest labor and environment protections of any modern trade agreement. The innovations also include new market access that countries negotiated on everything from milk powder to insurance services.

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES

As stated in my last newsletters, the big issue in the trade area right now is border adjustment taxes and tax reform.  New Treasury Secretary Mnuchin says tax reform will take place in August 2017 and it is a priority for the Trump Administration.  Part of that reform is Border Adjustment Taxes (“BAT”).  See http://www.foxbusiness.com/politics/2017/02/23/treasury-secretary-mnuchin-lays-out-aggressive-timeline-for-tax-reform.html.  As Mnuchin states, a US deficit of $20 trillion, which was doubled by President Obama, is a concern, but more important is economic growth, which will result in more tax revenue.  To get economic growth, taxes and regulations have to be cut.

But with the failure of Obamacare in the House, taxes, including border adjustment taxes, move to the front of the Congressional calendar.  Trump and Republicans in the Congress, especially the House, appear to be moving ahead with an alternative to tariffs to spur US manufacturing and that is taxes.  There is now an attempt in Congress to give American-made products a big tax advantage over their foreign competitors through border adjustment taxes, and, in effect, counter the value added taxes used in other countries to deter imports.  As Kevin Brady, Chairman of House Ways and Means, argues, almost 80% of countries border adjust their taxes.  That includes Mexico, Canada, China, and the European countries, putting US exports at a substantial disadvantage.  For Brady’s argument, see videos at the following links, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1yYHGoFmNEk&feature=youtu.be and

https://waysandmeans.house.gov/icymi-chairman-brady-cnbc-makes-case-ending-made-america-export-tax/.

Under a border adjustment tax (“BAT”), a 20% tax would be applied against all domestic products and imported products.  But the domestic producer would be allowed to deduct all the domestic costs associated with producing that product.  Thus if a $100 product was produced in the US, the domestic producer could deduct $70 in costs, resulting in a 20% tax on $30 or a $6 tax.  But there would be no deduction of domestic costs for a $100 import resulting in a 20% tax on the full $100 or a $20 tax, giving the domestic product a 14% tax advantage.  The BAT would not apply to exports.

This proposal has welled up from the House of Representatives and is strongly supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan and the Chairman of House Ways and Means, Kevin Brady.  Their argument is that border adjustment tax is needed to offset value added taxes in other countries.  Brady argues that the BAT is the only way to end the “Made in America” tax.

One example given is that if an automobile is produced in the US and exported to Mexico, a 35% corporate tax is levied on the profits of the US automaker and then the US automobile is hit with a 16% value added tax when it comes into Mexico.  On the other hand, when an automobile is produced in Mexico for shipment to the US, there is no corporate tax on the export and no corresponding tax in the US on the Mexican export to the US.  In effect, Ryan and Brady argue that this is a tremendous incentive to move manufacturing out of the United States to countries with value added taxes, such as Mexico, China, Canada, EU and many other countries.

Border adjustments serve as a way to level the playing field and alter value-added consumption taxes many countries, including European countries, Mexico, Canada and China, impose on each stage of production, as products are sold internationally.  Proponents argue that the BAT is not trade policy and does not favor exports over imports.  To see the companies that have VAT taxes in place, see the Ways and Means website at https://waysandmeans.house.gov/ending-made-america-tax-three-major- wins-american-people/.

The Trade War in the Administration on border adjustment taxes has become clear as Bannon, Navarro and others are in favor, but Cohn and Treasury Secretary Mnuchin are opposed.  Wilbur Ross is on the fence.  Trump himself has not taken a position.

On March 25th During a morning interview, Mnuchin said he had been overseeing work on the administration’s tax bill over the past two months and it would be introduced soon. He said the goal was still to win Congressional approval of the tax measure by August. But if the timeline is delayed, he said he expected the proposal to pass by the fall.  Mnuchin did not reveal whether the administration will include the Border Adjustment tax.

On March 9th Bloomberg reported that the BAT is in deep trouble.  The BAT is important because it is expected to raise more than $1 trillion in revenue, which would offset the cut to corporate tax rates:

Companies that rely heavily on exports, such as Boeing Co. and Oracle Corp., love the plan—for obvious reasons. Beyond profits, they also say a BAT would make American manufacturers more competitive by putting them on equal footing with foreign competitors around the world.

Importers hate the BAT. Big retailers such as Walmart Stores Inc. and Best Buy Co. contend that border adjustments will dent profit margins and force them to raise prices on everything from avocados and furniture to Nike shoes and French cheese. In a Feb. 28 letter to congressional leaders, the Americans for Affordable Products coalition said the tax would raise consumer costs “by as much as $1,700” in the first year. . . .

Companies are taking their message to consumers. In late February the National Retail Federation, which opposes the BAT, started airing TV commercials that parody an OxiClean infomercial, telling shoppers that “the all-new BAT tax is specially designed to make your disposable income—disappear!” Proponents, through the American Made Coalition that includes Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer Inc., launched a Twitter feed to support the tax. Both sides have created Facebook pages and websites with auto-form letters that viewers can send to Congress. Both, too, routinely pepper media outlets with press releases citing prominent people in the private sector and academia who either love or hate it.

As Bloomberg further states in Congress the BAT is running into opposition from Republicans:

A core group of House Republicans has come out in recent weeks against the BAT, citing the higher prices they’d inflict on consumers. Republican Senate support is in doubt, too. Tom Cotton, a Republican from Walmart’s home state of Arkansas, told a Senate floor session on Feb. 15 that border adjustments are “a theory wrapped in speculation inside a guess.” The next day, Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, a Texas Republican, said, “The hard reality is the border tax is on life support.”

But as Bloomberg further states:

“Ryan and Brady aren’t backing down. Without border adjustments, they say, their plan to rewrite the tax code can’t happen. That $1.1 trillion in revenue is crucial to the politics of the BAT, since it helps keep it deficit- neutral, a prerequisite for passing a tax bill through the Senate without Democratic votes. “What it boils down to is that it’s a way to pay for the rest of the tax plan,” says Veronique de Rugy, an economist at George Mason University. “Only revenue comes from this feature—economic growth doesn’t.” That $1 trillion is also crucial to how the BAT might affect the economy. Says Ross, “That is way too big a number to get wrong.”

EUROPE, THE WTO AND CHINA

Meanwhile, other countries are lining up to retaliate if the BAT is passed.  On February 28th, it was reported that the EU is preparing a legal challenge against Donald Trump’s US border tax plan in what could be biggest trade dispute in a century.  Jyrki Katainen, the European Commission’s Vice President, told the newspaper: “If someone is behaving against our interests or against international rules in trade then we have our own mechanisms to react.”  He said the EU was seeking to avoid a potential trade war with the US as it would be “disastrous” for the world economy.

“We have all the legal arrangements within the EU but we are also part of global arrangements like the WTO and we want to respect the global rule base when it comes to trade.”

One WTO trade dispute expert estimated that a defeat in such a case could see around $385bn a year in trade retaliation against the US.  Volker Kauder, parliamentary floor leader of Merkel’s conservatives, also recently stated:

“If Donald Trump imposes punitive tariffs on German and European products, then Europe should also impose punitive tariffs on U.S. products.”

Meanwhile, the Chinese government has been seeking advice from think tanks and policy advisers on how to retaliate against trade penalties imposed by the US.  China’s strongest responses would likely include finding alternative suppliers of agricultural products, machinery and manufactured goods, and reducing the number of consumer goods like cellphones and laptops that it exports to the United States. Other possibilities could include levying a tax or other penalty on major U.S. companies that do business in China or restricting access to the country’s services sector.

NAFTA RENEGOTIATION

The first trade agreement, which the Trump Administration will negotiate is NAFTA.  President Trump has already formally notified both Canada and Mexico that he intends to renegotiate NAFTA.  The negotiations will probably start sometime this summer.

On March 12, 2017, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross stated that the Trump administration has yet to determine what the trade agreement replacing NAFTA will look like.  As Ross stated:

“One size doesn’t fit all.  The issues of automotive are not the same as the issues of agriculture; they’re not the same as the issues of electronics, or steel. It’s a very, very complicated situation. So it’s very hard to paint just with one big broad brush.”

On March 16, 2017, Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau stated:

“NAFTA’s been … improved a dozen times over the past 20 years. There’s always opportunities to talk about how we can make it better. It has led to a lot of great jobs for a whole lot of people on both sides of the border and I very much take him [Trump] at his word when he talks about just making a few tweaks. Because that’s what we’re always happy to do.

“We’ve got auto parts crisscrossing the border six times before they end up in a finished product. You’ve got over $2 billion a day going back and forth. So, making sure that the border is … secure but also smooth in its flow of goods and people is essential to good jobs on both sides of the border.”

Meanwhile, there are a number of meetings between US, Canadian and Mexican officials preparing for the NAFTA negotiations.

On March 21st, the Trump administration created the attached list, KEY ELEMENTS, of more than 20 foreign trade practices it would like to address in a renegotiation of NAFTA and in any bilateral trade deal it might pursue.  The list includes relatively new areas like foreign currency manipulation, where achieving agreement could be difficult, but also a host of others like intellectual protection that have long been mainstays in U.S. trade agreements.  Payne Griffin, deputy chief of staff at the Office of U.S. Trade Representative, stated:

“These are market problems that the administration has identified either through vigorous consultations with Congress or their own internal research.  It is a non-exhaustive list of things that may be addressed in these bilateral trade agreements.”

CHINA NONMARKET ECONOMY

China has initiated a mandatory 60-day consultation period with both economies before deciding to request a dispute settlement panel to hear its complaint.  China has now decided to only target the EU, which is in the process of trying to change antidumping methodology. Brussels is trying to come up with a new way of treating China under its trade remedy law while still recognizing that Beijing intervenes heavily in its economy.

The United States has said it would only consider a change in response to a formal request from China to be treated as a market economy, something it has not done since 2006.

Apparently, China is trying a strategy of ‘divide and conquer’.  Take on the EU first, because it is already revising its law and they might get a good WTO decision, then face the tougher battle against the U.S.”

MORE TRADE CASES COMING

A law firm that specializes in bringing antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) trade cases recently told me that they are in the process of preparing a number of new cases against China and other countries.  With a sympathetic Trump Administration and a very sympathetic Wilbur Ross as the new Secretary of Commerce, more cases are going to be filed.

ALUMINUM FOIL FROM CHINA

On March 9, 2017, the US Aluminum Foil Trade Enforcement Working Group, including Aleris Inc., Alpha Aluminum, Golden Aluminum, Granges Americas Inc., JW Aluminum Company, Novelis Corporation, Republic Foil Inc., Reynolds Consumer Products, and United Aluminum Corporation, filed major AD and CVD cases against more than $658 million of aluminum foil imports from China in 2016.

The petition alleges duties ranging from at a minimum of 38 percent to a high of 134 percent and targets 232 Chinese exporters and producers of aluminum foil.  The aluminum foil covered by the complaint covers household aluminum foil as well as aluminum foil used in cookware, product packaging and heat exchangers found in cars and HVAC systems.

US importers can be liable for CVD duties on aluminum foil imports from China as soon as August 6, 2017 and AD duties on October 5, 2017.

Attached are the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted Chinese exporters/producers and US importers, 2017.03.08 CHN-ALUMINUM FOIL Petition Vol I 1Narrative IMPORTERNAMES.  If anyone has any questions, please feel free to contact me.

SILICON METAL FROM AUSTRALIA, BRAZIL, KAZAKHSTAN AND NORWAY

Although the US industry may believe AD and CVD petitions will move the Chinese imports share to the US industry, that is not necessarily the case.  Case in point, on March 8, 2016, Globe Specialty Metals Inc. filed major AD and CVD cases against imports of Silicon Metal from Australia, Brazil, Kazakhstan and Norway.  Chinese silicon metal has been under an AD order with shut out rates since 1991.

Attached are the relevant parts of the AD and CVD complaints along with a list of the targeted foreign exporters/producers and US importers, SMALL SILICON METAL PETITION.

The first hearing at the ITC is March 29th.  Commerce will issue questionnaires probably in the first week of April.  Commerce Department preliminary determinations in the Countervailing Duty cases, which is when liability for importers begins, can happen as soon as August.

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

With a sympathetic Trump Administration in power, there will be a sharp rise in AD and CVD cases against China and other countries.

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

Previous newsletters stated Wilbur Ross has made it very clear to reach the 3% plus growth rate, the US must increase exports.  Yet, at the same time, the Trump Administrations keeps concentrating on deficits and accusing foreign governments of treating US companies unfairly.  Trump and his Administration do not look internally and try to find ways to make the US companies more competitive, which will not create a trade war.

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

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

Right now the total cost to the US Taxpayer for this nationwide program is $12.5 million dollars—truthfully peanuts in the Federal budget.  Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.

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

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

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

With the election of Donald Trump, as stated in my last blog post, the Universal Trade War will continue.  In addition to the US bringing AD and CVD cases, countries around the World, such as EC, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia, Thailand, South Africa, and Vietnam, all are filing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against each other and the United States.  These countries have adopted the US law which finds dumping in 90% of the cases.  The US and the EC have created a Frankenstein in the antidumping law and the whole World has adopted it.

Compromise is the best way to settle trade disputes, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to settle US antidumping and other trade cases.  What is “fair” trade for the United States is “fair” trade for every other country.  Many countries want to make their industries Great again.

Because of this situation, this part of the newsletter will concentrate on trade cases in other countries and how other countries see the trade problem with the United States.  It will also discuss potential US exports that can be retaliation targets.

MEXICO

On March 6, 2017, Alexandro N. Gomez-Stozzi, a Mexican trade lawyer, at the Gardere firm in Mexico City sent me the following summary of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Investigations in Mexico:

Mexican Antidumping and Countervailing (AD/CVD) Investigation Procedures Factsheet

  • AD/CVD investigations in Mexico may take from 12 to 18 months as of the publication in the Diario Oficial regarding the initiation of investigation. Terms within the investigative process may be extended with cause, at the discretion of the authority. Investigations are generally conducted as follows (variation of a chart created by Mexican authorities):
  • There is a single investigating authority, the Ministry of Economy´s International Trade Practices Unit (known by its Spanish acronym UPCI, for Unidad de Prácticas Comerciales Internacionales). UPCI makes all relevant findings: (i) dumping or countervailing, (ii) material injury or threat thereof and (iii) causation. Final AD/CVD orders are signed by the Minister of Economy; although informally, trade policy considerations in other sectors come into play before deciding to issue an AD/CVD order. UPCI is also in charge of safeguard investigations.  
  • Investigations are usually requested by Mexican producers representing at least 25% of the total production, although UPCI may initiate investigations if it deems so appropriate.
  • Exporters and importers of affected goods are strongly encouraged to retain Mexican counsel, as all appearances have to be made in Spanish and a domestic service address has to be designated.
  • When issuing a preliminary determination, the authority may: (1) impose a preliminary AD/CVD duty and continue with investigation, (2) continue the investigation without an AD/CVD duty, or (3) terminate the investigation on insufficient evidence grounds.
  • In its final determination, the authority may (i) confirm or modify its preliminary determination to impose an AD/CVD duty, or (2) declare the investigation concluded without imposing an AD/CVD duty. Under stringent circumstances, final determinations may impose retroactive duties for up to three months from date of publication of the preliminary determination.
  • During the course of an investigation, Mexican law allows for interested parties to ask UPCI to convene conciliatory meetings, at which proposals may be presented to resolve the case and terminate the investigation. These proceedings coexist with Antidumping Agreement´s price undertakings.
  • AD/CVD orders remain in effect for 5 years. They may be renewed for similar periods when warranted after a sunset review which covers both dumping (or countervailing) and injury.  Circumvention, actual coverage of AD/CVD orders, and similar proceedings can also be initiated as long as orders are in effect.
  • World Trade Organization (WTO)´s Antidumping and Subsidies Agreements are applied as is in Mexican investigation proceedings. Mexican trade-remedy law and regulations may sometimes be contradictory with WTO agreements; in case of conflict, the WTO Agreements would prevail in court.

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law, Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.09.

CFIUS—WILL INVESTMENT RECIPROCITY BE A NEW REQUIREMENT??

There is movement within the United States to establish investment reciprocity as a criteria in investigations by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States into its national security reviews of inbound transactions, a policy shift that would weigh the heaviest on Chinese buyers if enacted.

Investment reciprocity — the idea that the U.S. should block a foreign entity’s investment in a particular industry when a U.S. buyer would be similarly blocked in that entity’s country — has been on politicians’ radar since before Donald Trump took office.

Trump made no secret of his leanings on the campaign trail, criticizing in particular a Chinese investment group’s acquisition of the 130-year-old Chicago Stock Exchange, a deal that has since been cleared by CFIUS.

If the U.S. does decide to go this route, there are at least a couple ways the government could go about it. The President could direct CFIUS to focus more heavily on particular industries or use a broader definition of national security, as long as those directives don’t stray too far from the regulations dictated by the Foreign Investment and National Security Act of 2007, or FINSA. Congress can also amend FINSA to expand either the range of industries susceptible to national security review, or even expand the review itself from one focused solely on national security to a review that more broadly considers foreign investments in the U.S.

CHINESE MILITARY BUILDUP TO PROTECT ITS TRADE INTERESTS???

As mentioned in prior blog posts, there is a close relationship between defense/security and trade.  The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor was created, in part, by the US naval embargo of Japan.

One of the strongest arguments for the Trans Pacific Partnership was the geo-political argument that the TPP would bring us closer to the Asian countries.  Former defense secretary Ash Carter stated at one point that the TPP was equivalent to another US aircraft carrier.

On March 15, 2017, Malia Zimmerman for Fox News in an article entitled “China next US threat? Beijing beefs up military to protect trade”, stated:

With a laser-like focus on protecting its lifeblood – trade – China is dramatically altering its military operations, creating specialized teams that can protect its maritime resources, routes and territorial expansion plans. . . .

Harry Kazianis, director of the Washington, D.C.-based Defense Studies for The Center for the National Interest, stated:

“The great Achilles heel of China is trade—especially natural resources that come via sea and into its ports—and a big reason it will inevitably become a globally deployed military power. Beijing’s armed forces are working to slowly but surely reinforce and protect its overseas hubs as well as trade routes that move from Europe, the Middle East and Africa and into China’s territorial waters.”

ZTE HIT WITH SANCTIONS FOR VIOLATING EXPORT CONTROLS ACT

On March 7, 2007, in a notice and judgement, which will be attached to my blog, judgment 3-22ZTE Corporation Agrees to Plead Guilty and Pay Over $430, the US Justice Department announced that ZTE Corp, has agreed to plead guilty and pay a combined a penalty of $1.1.9 billion for violating U.S. sanctions by sending U.S.-origin items to Iran.  As the Justice Department notice states:

ZTE Corporation has agreed to enter a guilty plea and to pay a $430,488,798 penalty to the U.S. for conspiring to violate the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) by illegally shipping U.S.-origin items to Iran, obstructing justice and making a material false statement. ZTE simultaneously reached settlement agreements with the U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) and the U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). In total ZTE has agreed to pay the U.S. Government $892,360,064. The BIS has suspended an additional $300,000,000, which ZTE will pay if it violates its settlement agreement with the BIS. . . .

“ZTE Corporation not only violated export controls that keep sensitive American technology out of the hands of hostile regimes like Iran’s – they lied to federal investigators and even deceived their own counsel and internal investigators about their illegal acts,” said Attorney General Sessions. “This plea agreement holds them accountable, and makes clear that our government will use every tool we have to punish companies who would violate our laws, obstruct justice and jeopardize our national security.  . . .”

“ZTE engaged in an elaborate scheme to acquire U.S.-origin items, send the items to Iran and mask its involvement in those exports. The plea agreement alleges that the highest levels of management within the company approved the scheme. ZTE then repeatedly lied to and misled federal investigators, its own attorneys and internal investigators. Its actions were egregious and warranted a significant penalty,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General McCord. “The enforcement of U.S. export control and sanctions laws is a major component of the National Security Division’s commitment to protecting the national security of the United States. Companies that violate these laws – including foreign companies – will be investigated and held to answer for their actions.”

“ZTE Corporation not only violated our export control laws but, once caught, shockingly resumed illegal shipments to Iran during the course of our investigation,” said U.S. Attorney Parker. “ZTE Corporation then went to great lengths to devise elaborate, corporate-wide schemes to hide its illegal conduct, including lying to its own lawyers.”

“The plea agreement in this case shows ZTE repeatedly violated export controls and illegally shipped U.S. technology to Iran,” said Assistant Director Priestap. “The company also took extensive measures to hide what it was doing from U.S. authorities. This case is an excellent example of cooperation among multiple

U.S. agencies to uncover illegal technology transfers and make those responsible pay for their actions.”

The plea agreement, which is contingent on the court’s approval, also requires ZTE to submit to a three- year period of corporate probation, during which time an independent corporate compliance monitor will review and report on ZTE’s export compliance program. ZTE is also required to cooperate fully with the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding any criminal investigation by U.S. law enforcement authorities.  . . .”

According to David Laufman, chief of the counterintelligence and export control section at the DOJ’s National Security Division, it was “extraordinarily difficult” to obtain key documents and witnesses located in China until on March 7, 2016, the Commerce decision to add ZTE to the so-called Entity List.  According to Laufman, “The game-changing event in this case, was the Commerce Department’s decision to pursue an entity listing of ZTE, demonstrating the efficacy of the whole-of- government approach” to national security.

Companies end up on the Entity List after Commerce determines they are tied to illicit weapons programs, terrorism or other national security threats, and thereafter can’t trade with U.S. companies without a special dispensation from the agency.

This may be the first case in which the Commerce Department has used an Entity List designation to force a foreign company to cooperate in a probe.  Commerce will probably start using this strategy in future investigations.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

DOMESTIC INDUSTRY FROM PATENT LICENSEE

On March 8, 2017, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) issued the attached interesting decision, 2 PAGE ONE PAGE DI, in the Section 337 case Certain Silicon-On-Insulator Wafers.  In that decision, the ITC Administrative Law Judge determined that it could find a domestic industry in a Section 337 if the US patent licensee’s activities show domestic activity.  Even though the patent holder was a non-practicing entity, the ALJ determined:

Silicon Genesis Corporation (“SiGen”), has established contingently a domestic industry in the United States through the activities of its licensee, SunEdison Semiconductor Limited (“SunEdison”) . . . through its licensee, SunEdison, SiGen has proven by a preponderance of evidence that it has made a significant domestic investment in plant and equipment, in capital and labor, and a substantial investment in research and development to produce certain silicon-on-insulator (“SOI”) products at issue in this Investigation.

The decision did not break new ground, but it reminds nonpracticing entities, (“NPEs”) that one way to meet the domestic industry requirement under Section 337 is through the actions of patent licensee in the United States.

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

On March 10, 2017, in the attached ITC notice, Intravascular Sets, Curlin Medical, Inc., Moog, Inc., and Zevex, Inc. filed a section 337 case against imports of Intravascular Administration Sets from Yangzhou WeiDeLi Trade Co., Ltd., China.

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, border adjustment taxes, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR JULY 2015 TPA, TPP, TRADE POLICY, TRADE AND CUSTOMS

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR JULY 15, 2015

 

Dear Friends,

Because of the substantial activity in May, June and July with the passage of Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and the ongoing Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) negotiations, this blog post is being split into two parts.  The first part will cover trade policy, trade and Customs.  The second part will cover products liability, Patent/IP, antitrust and securities.

In May and June, Congress, both the House of Representatives and Senate,  twisted and turned itself into knots to pass TPA for the President and to keep the trade negotiations on track.

But TPA is not the end of the story.  In passing TPA through the Senate and House, Congress laid down a number of stiff negotiating objectives.  Essentially, it raised the bar for the negotiations for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and European negotiations of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (“TTIP”).  Congressmen and Senators indicated that they intend to be very involved personally in the negotiations so to assume that TPP negotiations will be finished in a month, as predicted by the Austrian Trade Minister and even the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”), is simply wishful thinking.

On July 9th, however, Chairman Paul Ryan stated that an agreement could be finalized by late fall.  USTR also recently announced that there will be a major TPP negotiating round between July 24-30th in Hawaii.

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.

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

The first half of this blog post will set out the twists and turns of the TPA negotiations in the House and the Senate, along with developments in the TPP negotiations and also developments in trade and Customs law.  The second half of the blog post will cover products liability, IP/Patent, China antidumping cases, antitrust and securities.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE POLICY

TPP NEGOTIATIONS FORGE AHEAD BUT CANADA IS A STICKING POINT

On July 7th and 9th, it was reported that TPP negotiations are into their final round, but other commentators have stated that there is still a ways to go.  On July 9th in a Politico Morning Money speech, which can be found here http://www.c-span.org/video/?327014-1/politico-conversation-trade-representative-paul-ryan-rwi, Paul Ryan, House Ways and Means Chairman, stated that there could be a final TPP Agreement by late Fall.  There appears to be a very strong push to conclude the TPP Agreement by the end of Year so it does not bleed into 2016, an election year.  If TPP becomes an election issue, it could pose a very difficult political issue, especially for the Democrats and Hilary Clinton, in particular, because much of the Democratic base, such as the Unions, strongly oppose the Trade Agreements.

On July 1st, at a Politico Playbook Discussion, USTR Michael Froman stated that they hope to complete the TPP “as soon as we possibly can,” and deliver it to Congress by the end of the year.  Froman further stated:

We’re in the final stages of negotiating the Trans-Pacific Partnership.  We’re down to a reasonable number of outstanding issues, but by definition, those issues tend to be the most difficult, whether it’s on market access or on rules like intellectual property.

Froman also stated that with Japan good progress had been made on agriculture and automobiles, and “I don’t really see that as an obstacle to other progress at the moment.”  He went on to state that other issues include access to the Canadian agricultural markets and rules on intellectual property rights, investment and state-owned enterprises.

More importantly, Froman stated that the major achievement of the TPP is that there are no product-area exemptions—all product areas will be covered.  He stated that the negotiators were committed “to ensure that our exporters have commercially meaningful market access to foreign markets.”

On July 7th USTR announced that the chief negotiators and ministers of the 12 countries engaged in the TPP trade talks will meet in Maui, Hawaii at the Westin Maui Resort and Spa, with the chief negotiators meeting July 24-27 and the ministers meeting July 28-31. USTR stated that “The upcoming ministerial provides an important opportunity to build on this progress as we work to conclude the negotiation.”

With U.S. trade promotion authority (TPA) now in place, the stage is set for the U.S. and Japan to finalize their talks on nontariff barriers to U.S. autos, which includes an auto-specific dispute settlement mechanism, and for the U.S. and Canada to begin negotiating in earnest on the roughly 100 Canadian tariff lines containing dairy, poultry and eggs—items administered by a supply management system that restricts imports to protect the domestic industry.

Japanese and Canadian government officials were waiting for TPA to pass before making final offers.

One Commentator stated, however, that she does not believe that the Maui meeting will be the final TPP negotiating round.  Lori Wallach of Public Citizen stated

“There have been seven rounds since the ‘final’ TPP negotiating round and at least three ‘final’ TPP ministerials and there are many outstanding sensitive issues and now it’s clear to the other countries just how split Congress is on TPP, so whether this really is it remains to be seen.”

Wide chasms remain within several sectors potentially impacted in the 31 negotiation areas. For example, the U.S. is demanding the quota for Japan’s food-use rice imports be increased to about 175,000 tons while Japan is insisting 50,000 tons. Japan is demanding that the U.S. eliminate tariffs on Japanese auto parts manufactured in the Southeast Asian countries with which Tokyo has an economic partnership agreement. The two countries also have yet to agree on Japanese beef and pork import tariffs, though the issue is almost settled. There are still wide gaps between the 12 countries on intellectual property rights protection of pharmaceuticals data and dispute settlement on cross-border trade and investment.

In a July 14th trade publication, former USTR general counsel Warren Maruyama reinforced the skepticism about the potential conclusion of the TPP in Hawaii, stating:

I think it’s a bit of a stretch; my understanding is there are a lot of brackets.  There’s a whole bunch of difficult things.”

Moreover, a swift conclusion of the TPP would not go well with Congress.  As Maruyama further stated:

One of the expectations coming out of TPA is there’s going to be a much better process of consultations, and it’s not necessarily going to go over well if there’s some sort of a rush to agreement without adequate consultation with the Congress, particularly when you get into these sensitive sectors.

On July 7th, at the time of the announcement of the Hawaii TPA meeting, President Obama was meeting Nguyen Phu Trong, the general secretary of Vietnam, another TPP country.   President Obama noted that the TPP talks “was an excellent opportunity for us to deepen our discussion” and the trade deal has “enormous potential” for economic growth for both countries. Trong stated that U.S. and Vietnam have been able to “rise above the past.” “What is of utmost importance is we have transformed from former enemies to friends.”

Meanwhile, the New York Times reported on July 7th:

Outstanding controversies include access to Canada’s agriculture market, Australian concerns over American pharmaceutical patent rules, Peru’s rain forest management, Chinese components in Vietnamese textile exports and labor organizing rights in Vietnam and Mexico. The dispute over access to Canada’s protected dairy and poultry markets is so fierce that some participants say they believe Canada could drop out of the talks. . . .

United States officials feel confident enough a deal is at hand that they have scheduled a meeting among the chief negotiators at the Westin Maui Resort & Spa in Hawaii during the last four days in July and have notified Congress that they expect this to be the last one.

But on July 7th, the Canadian government restated its support for the TPP deal, with Finance Minister Joe Oliver saying increased trade and investment will benefit the economy.  Oliver further stated that Canada has “come a long way from the free trade bogeyman” era of the 1980s, when the North American Free Trade Agreement was negotiated.”  The TPP deal “will unlock the Pacific powerhouse” and create jobs in Canada.  Canada is under pressure to open up its dairy and poultry sectors, where production is controlled through quotas and imports are restricted with high tariffs. Dismantling that system, known as supply management, may become an election issue in rural districts for Conservatives in the hard fought fall election.

Oliver further stated, “Free trade is at the heart of the Canadian advantage. It is the heart of Canada’s future.  Canada must build on the free trade empire we have forged.”

But on July 13th the Huffington Post reported that US Congressmen and Senators are pressuring the Administration to push Canada out of the TPP if it does not agree to deregulate its dairy and poultry industries and open them up to import competition.  This point, however, is not new.  Several months ago while discussing the TPP negotiations with Congressional trade staff on Capitol Hill, they made the same point.  If Canada does not give in on dairy and poultry, they will be dropped from the negotiations.

To stay in the TPP, the Canadian government must agree to dismantle the supply management system that protects Canada’s dairy and poultry industry.  In addition to the US, Australia and probably New Zealand are pushing Canada to open up.  In the past the Canadian government has broken up supply management system for certain products, dismantling the Canadian Wheat Board in 2011.  But it is reluctant to do so with the dairy industry because of the upcoming Canadian elections.

In addition to dairy and poultry, lumber is also a target.  Another target should be the Canadian Provincial restrictions on wine imports.  British Columbia, for example, levies an 89% tariff, higher than China, on US wine imports.

But Canada’s National elections are also an issue.  They take place on October 19, 2015 so the present Canadian government may want to wait to make major concessions until after the National election in Canada.

Because of these problems, many Trade Commentators, including John Brinkley of Forbes, believe that TPP still have a long way to go.  As John Brinkley stated in his column on July 7th:

Negotiations over the TPP among and between the 12 parties to it are not as close to completion as Obama and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman would like you to believe. There are enough unresolved issues in the text to keep the negotiators at the table for a long time.

To be fair, the 11 other TPP parties know they need to finish it and get it to the U.S. Congress for a vote by the end of the year. If it drags into the 2016 election year, all bets are off. That fact, along with Congress having given Obama fast-track authority, may soften their negotiating positions on some issues.

For the full article, see http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2015/07/07/tpp-still-has-a-long-way-to-go/.

TPP NEGOTIATIONS BECOME MORE TRANSPARENT

As promised on the House and Senate floors the passage of TPA has led to more transparency. On July 9, 2015, the United States Trade Representative’s office (“USTR”) announced that members of its various advisory committees, including labor unions, industry experts and environmental groups, can now see the negotiating text of the TPP.

USTR specifically stated:

This week, a diverse group of trade advisers — including labor unions, industry experts, environmental groups and public advocates — will begin viewing draft TPP negotiating text as part of the congressionally established trade advisory process.  These advisors will receive full and equal access to the draft negotiation text in an effort to ensure that they can adequately prepare congressionally mandated reports on TPP.

The Obama administration firmly believes that the input of a wide array of voices is integral to trade negotiations, which is why we have grown the size and membership of our trade advisory committees.

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

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, was sent to President Obama.  See House Debate on TPA at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326582-4/house-debate-trade-promotion-authority.  On June 24, 2015 the US Senate passed the Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) bill by a vote of 60 to 38 for President Obama’s signature.  See the Senate debates at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326681-5/senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority.  As the Senate and House leadership promised, both TPA and TAA were on President’s Obama’s desk at the same time.  To see President Obama sign the Trade Bills, watch CSPAN at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326821-2/president-obama-bill-signing-ceremony.

Now the heavy lift begins.  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 is 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 possibly into 2016, an election year.

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.

As Paul Ryan, Chairman of the House Ways and Means, stated on President Obama’s signature of TPA:

“With TPA in place, our attention shifts to the trade agreements currently being negotiated with our friends in the Asia-Pacific region and Europe. Just as TPA allows greater oversight of the process, it requires the administration to follow Congress’s priorities and achieve high-standard agreements. We have a great opportunity ahead of us, and Congress and the administration both must do their parts to seize it.”

Anyone who thinks TPP negotiations will be finished in a month is simply wishful thinking.  This will be a difficult set of negotiations.  As the Wall Street Journal stated on its June 25th 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 Democratic member of House Ways and Means, stated on June 25th on the House Floor, the battle now switches from TPA 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.  . . . 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.  . . .

As Republican Congressman Pete Sessions stated on June 25th on the House Floor, 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. . . . As soon as it’s signed by the President, he can go at it.  . . . 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 . . . 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 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 went to 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.

The funding for TAA for companies, however, remains very low.  As one TAAC director told me:

Due to the Appropriations error of funding the program at $12.5M, our TAAC will have a budget of less than $3,000.00 per company this next year.   Obviously, we can’t provide much serious technical assistance for $3,000 per company, and worse, it disrupts the momentum we’ve established for facilitating their recovery.   Worse yet, this happens at a time when we should be building the program in anticipation of TPP and TTIP!

 It’s frustrating to know that the TAA for Worker’s program net cost annually per individual worker is $53,802.00* – just think what we could do if we had that kind of budget annually for companies!

* A 2012 cost-benefit evaluation commissioned by the Department of Labor found a net cost to society of $53,802 for each person who enrolled in the program between November 2005 and October 2006.

At that rate, if the TAA for Firms program prevented just 300 workers per year from enrolling in TAA for Workers because we saved their jobs instead (what a concept!), we would have generated more than enough cost savings to fund the TAAF program’s national annual budget of $16M (300 workers x $53,802 = $16,140,600).   That’s an incredibly low bar to meet on a national basis – it’s one that each of the 11 regional TAAF Centers could meet quite easily, resulting in net cost savings of more than $175M!

 When you look at it from that perspective, it shows the kind of  “no brainer” decision it is to fund the TAA for Companies program.  It’s really hard to understand why we can’t gain some traction with that elementary logic.

SENATE PASSES TPA AND THE BILL GOES TO PRESIDENT OBAMA’S DESK FOR SIGNATURE—THE INS AND OUTS OF THE NEGOTIATIONS

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 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, which then went to the House for final passage on June 25th.

To recap, 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 over the weekend to come up with an alternative strategy and delink 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/.

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”) and essentially agreed to move forward with the stand alone House TPA Bill, which had passed on June 18th.  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.

All the Senators emphasized during the final TPA 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 has now gone to conference where representatives of the House of Representatives and Senate will reconcile differences between the House and Senate bills.

Before the TPA final vote on June 24th, Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell stated:

Yesterday’s T.P.A. [procedural] vote [was a] 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. . . 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 final TPA 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 has gone 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.  . . .

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. . . .

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 the final TPA vote 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 final TPA 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.  . . .

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.

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. . . . 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.

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

In light of the Congressional votes for TPA, one hopes that the Congress is moving away from the protectionist brink, but with a 60-37 procedural vote in the Senate on June 23rd, 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 has passed, 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 1930s. 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.  It should be noted that the US antidumping and countervailing duty laws are in the Tariff Act of 1930 today.

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, and 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?.

WASHINGTON CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION SPLITS ON TPA BILL

To see the powerful impact of Union and protectionist arguments on Congress, one need look no further than my state of Washington where the Washington Congressional delegation was split.  Although Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell voted for TPA, along with Republicans in the House, the Washington State Democrats in the House were split.

Congressmen Rick Larson and Derek Kilmer along with Congresswoman Susan delBene voted in favor of TPA,  but Democratic Congressmen Adam Smith, Denny Heck and Jim McDermott wilted under substantial pressure from the Unions and voted against TPA.

In voting for TPA, in the attached statement, Larsen_ TPA Is Right For Pacific Northwest Economy _ Congressman Rick Larsen, Congressman Rick Larson sets forth his arguments in favor of TPA, stating in part:

I understand many people want the content of trade negotiations to be public. But opening up negotiations would give other countries a clear view of U.S. positions and lessen our ability to push for the best deal for our workers, environment and economy. I think the transparency provisions in the TPA bill will enable the public to have more and better information about the content of trade agreements. . . .

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is a 20-year-old agreement, and our country has learned a lot about trade agreements since then. The TPP negotiations are much stronger than NAFTA for several reasons. TPP includes strong requirements that other countries involved in the negotiations live up to high standards for workers, the environment and human rights. NAFTA did not. And TPP puts in place penalties, so if other countries involved in the agreement do not live up to these high standards, they will be sanctioned. NAFTA did not include sanctions for violating the terms of the agreement.

TPP is not yet finalized. I have been reviewing the sections on labor, the environment, and investor-state dispute settlement as negotiations have progressed, and I will continue to do so.

Another reason TPP is much stronger than NAFTA is that Congress is working to hold the President to higher standards for all trade agreements. The 2015 Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill that the House is set to vote on as soon as this week provides Congressional direction to the Administration for trade agreements the President is seeking to finalize. The 2015 TPA bill is much more stringent than its predecessor, which Congress passed in 2002. Let me explain why.

The 2015 TPA bill (which you can read here: http://1.usa.gov/1T1afiY) directs trading partners to adopt and maintain core international labor standards and multilateral environmental agreements, and calls for sanctions if they do not comply. The 2002 TPA law did not require compliance or provide enforcement tools with core international labor and environmental standards. The 2015 bill requires several levels of transparency for the public . . . The 2002 bill required no transparency. The 2015 bill makes clear that trade agreements cannot change U.S. law without Congressional approval. The 2002 law did not include this level of Congressional oversight.

In the attached letter, KILMER STATEMENT ON TPA, Congressman Derek Kilmer sets forth his arguments in favor of TPA, stating in part:

This is a particularly hot topic as the Administration continues negotiations of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a 12-nation trade agreement that would involve 40% of the world’s economy.  Suffice it to say, it’s important that America gets this right.

Trade is an essential part of Washington state’s economy. Generally, our state does well when we’re able to sell our apples, our wood products, our airplanes, our software, and other products overseas. Exports from just Washington’s Sixth Congressional District, which I represent, totaled more than $2.2 billion in 2013, supporting more than 67,000 jobs.

With that in mind, I appreciate President Obama’s suggestion that trade agreements – if done right – could expand opportunities to export our goods to growing markets like those in Asia and benefit Washington state’s employers and workers.

In addition, it’s worth acknowledging that global trade is a reality. The United States makes up just 4% of the world population – so global trade is going to happen regardless of whether Congress passes trade legislation. In making his case to Congress, the President has asked a key question: do we want America to sit back as China negotiates trade agreements around the world and seeks to set the rules of trade (leading to a race to the bottom on worker standards, environmental standards, and consumer protections) or do we want the United States to be involved in setting the rules and establishing high standards?

It’s a reasonable concern.   Earlier this year, I spoke with a manufacturer in Tacoma whose company makes American products made by American workers. But when that company tries to sell goods to Asia, their products consistently face high tariffs. The owner explained to me that he’s been told numerous times that he could avoid tariffs if he would only move his jobs to China. If we can see more American products made by American workers have the opportunity to enter new markets without these barriers, it could lead to economic opportunities.

Trade agreements with adequate protections for American companies could help reduce those tariffs, and boost sales –enabling American companies like this to expand production or hire more workers. But only if they are done right.

With that in mind, I believe that we need better trade deals than the ones we’ve had in the past. I do not want –nor would I support – an agreement that I believe would lead to American jobs going overseas or that would put corporate profits above the rights of workers or the health of our environment.

It’s critically important that we have a trade policy that reflects our region’s priorities and values. Above all, it is important to me that any trade agreement that Congress considers must ensure that we are exporting our products – not exporting our jobs.

That also means that any trade agreement needs to meet high labor standards that must be enforced. . . .

Unlike NAFTA – which failed to include labor or environmental standards as a core, enforceable part of the agreement – future agreements must have high standards that must be enforced.

Sens. Orrin Hatch (Utah) and Ron Wyden (Ore.), along with Rep. Paul Ryan (Wis.) jointly introduced the Bipartisan Congressional Trade Priorities and Accountability Act of 2015. This legislation would establish congressional trade negotiating objectives and enhanced consultation requirements for trade negotiations as well as allow for trade deals to be submitted to Congress for an up-or-down vote should they meet the United States’ objectives and Congress be sufficiently consulted.

This bill represents a departure from so-called “fast track” laws of the past. For example, it includes greater transparency, accountability, and Congressional oversight.   …This bill also includes stronger labor and environmental standards and unlike previous so-called “fast track” legislation, this bill demands that before countries can expand their trading relationship with the U.S., they have to maintain a core set of international labor and environmental standards.  . . .

Finally, it also would make clear that trade agreements cannot by themselves change U.S. law. Under the U.S. Constitution, Congress has to have a say regarding how our nation’s laws are changed, and I think it’s important that any legislation related to trade agreements makes that very clear. . . .

With or without trade agreements, global competition is a reality in today’s economy. And when companies and workers need to adapt to a changing marketplace, we need to make sure that they can get the resources that they need to get back to work and keep our economy growing. That’s why I support strong Trade Adjustment Assistance. I’m also pushing for Congress to reauthorize the Export-Import Bank, which helps finance U.S. exports of manufactured goods and services and create jobs through direct loans, loan guarantees, working capital finance, and export credit insurance.

While I will continue to fight to improve the Hatch-Wyden TPA bill as it moves through Congress, I support these bills because I believe that, together, they have the potential to expand jobs and economic opportunities here in America while at the same time fostering the development of higher environmental, worker safety, and consumer protection standards abroad. . . .

In the attached statement, DelBene Statement on Trade Promotion Authority _ Congresswoman Suzan DelBene, Congresswoman Suzan DelBene states why she is voting for TPA:

The reason to pass Trade Promotion Authority is to require negotiators to develop the strongest and most progressive trade deal possible. This TPA bill is the best Congress has ever had in terms of setting high and enforceable environmental and labor standards, as well as bringing more transparency to trade negotiations.  This bipartisan bill directs the administration to meet nearly 150 congressionally mandated negotiating objectives, including standards on labor protections, the environment, human rights, congressional consultation and transparency.

I’ve talked to large and small businesses, I’ve talked to labor and I’ve talked to environmentalists. It’s my job to weigh the concerns and needs on all sides and then do what’s best for Washington’s First District, which is why I supported the TPA legislation. I didn’t come to the decision lightly – Washington is the most trade dependent state in the nation and 40 percent of our jobs depend on trade. However, I will not hesitate to vote against a trade deal if it fails to meet the needs of our region and the high standards described in this TPA.

In voting against TPA, in the attached statement, ADAM SMITH NO TPA, Congressman Adam Smith sets forth his arguments against TPA, stating in part:

“Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), as they are currently being discussed, do not do enough to protect workers and the environment at home and abroad “The biggest problem facing our economy is a vanishing middle class. Corporations are incentivized to value customers, shareholders, and executives over their workers resulting in less take home pay and benefits. This is evidenced by the bottom 90 percent of Americans owning just 23 percent of total U.S. wealth. TPA and TPP are far from the only or even largest contributors, but they provide the wrong incentives allowing corporations to grow and benefit from undervaluing workers both here and abroad. . . .

“I often hear an argument in support of TPA and TPP that if we don’t set the rules in Asia and the Pacific, China will do so. Although clearly better than China’s, our record is not stellar either. . . .

“Currency manipulation is another problem that remains unaddressed. . . .

“These concerns aside, I would be more inclined to support a trade deal if I believed that American and global corporate culture was committed to paying workers fairly and ensuring their safety in the workplace. However, skyrocketing executive pay and huge stock buybacks at the expense of worker compensation convince me that there is an insufficient commitment to preserving the middle class. . . .

“Trade agreements should create sound incentives and reinforce business cultures that value workers, as they have the ability to help spread these practices worldwide. We must do more to support the companies in the 9th District and around the country that are doing so already.

Unfortunately, Wall Street and trade deals too often reward these companies’ competitors that improve their bottom line by shortchanging their employees–many of whom are not being adequately compensated for their work.

In voting against TPA, it is my hope the Administration will take a step back and better engage on strengthening compliance with worker and environmental protections through trade agreements. . . .

In the attached statement, Congressman Denny Heck announces decision on trade promotion authority _ Con, Congressman Denny Heck sets forth his argument opposing TPA:

Trade is a vital part of Washington’s economy. There is no doubt about that. Trade does not, however, exist in a vacuum, and for any agreement to be successful, we need to think bigger picture. Investing in our infrastructure, implementing comprehensive immigration reform, and reauthorizing the Export-Import Bank are some of the priorities that are being ignored during this debate. If we want to build an economy ready to compete with the rest of the world, we need to broaden this trade effort to include a commitment to actions that will bolster our economy back home.

“Accordingly, and after a great amount of input from constituents in the 10th District, I will vote no on trade promotion authority, known as fast track. I am open to trade legislation that enhances our ability to better compete in a global economy, but this approach is piecemeal and does not do enough to advance the interests and potential of the hard-working Americans I represent. We can do better.

FORMER DEMOCRATIC CONGRESSMAN DON BONKER’S ARTICLE ON THE TRADE DEBACLE IN THE HOUSE

On June 16, 2015, former Democratic Congressman Don Bonker described the initial trade defeat for President Obama on the TPA Bill in the House of Representatives in the China Daily:

Trade deal defeat, a form of Protectionism

By Don Bonker (China Daily)Updated: 2015-06-16 05:20

The scene in Washington, DC this week was not unlike a House of Cards episode that typically portrays high drama, political mischief and irony, involving the White House and Capitol Hill. The issue, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is key to President Obama’s Asia strategy to strengthen economic relations and provide a shield from China’s growing influence in the region.

But like the House of Cards series, it’s more about politics than the merits of the issue. Here we saw President Obama’s usual adversaries, Republican and business leaders rallying support for his trade deal while his own party and traditional allies were fiercely opposing it.

Signs of this were played out at the annual Congressional baseball game, when the President was greeted by Democrats, chanting “O-ba-ma!, O-ba-ma!” then unexpectedly Republicans responded with “TPA, TPA!” that flipped what was intended to demonstrate unity.

The following day, President Obama met with his chief ally in Congress, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, who hinted that she would support the measure only to march onto the House floor and declare that “I will be voting to slow down fast-track,” a fatal setback for the president.

Most TV narratives are complex and full of suspense. Vote on June 12 in the House of Representatives was not a simple up or down vote but a bundling of related issues called TAA, TPA and TPP. One was voted down, a second narrowly passed and no action on the third. The result was a stunning defeat for President Obama, yet House Speaker John Boehner allows it will be taken up again.

Despite all the political rhetoric about saving American jobs or Obama’s weak leadership, what it comes down to is old fashion protectionism.  Protectionism is an attempt to prevent foreign imports from threatening US jobs, often by increasing tariffs and limiting market access in a variety of ways, including anti-dumping and countervailing duties even if they aren’t warranted.

Today the battleground is the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a trade pact involving 12 countries that has been enduring negotiations for two years. Bilateral and multi-lateral trade pacts have always prompted strong opposition, especially from Democrats given their close ties to labor unions. It is a populist issue that resonates at the grassroot level, therefore a difficult vote for most Congressmen.

As former US Trade Representative, Robert Zoellick, who presided over five bilateral trade agreements, once noted, these “trade agreements are more about politics than economics”. While his successors may put in a star performance as Chief Negotiators, they can only initial the final document since the US Constitution makes clear that Congress “regulates interstate and foreign commerce” and has the final say.

What gets lost in the debate is the greater significance of the issue, which is America’s leadership in today’s global economy. The Obama Administration earlier portrayed the TPP as a geopolitical strategy that would give the US a stronger presence in Asia and provide a protective shield for Asian countries feeling threatened by China’s enormous growth and influence in the region. Now this initiative and America’s leadership in achieving these goals, plus the mutual benefits that come with trade deals, are at risk not because of China or the lack of effective negotiations but the political forces in play on Capitol Hill.

America is also being challenged by China in today’s global economy. If Congress disapproves either the fast-track legislation or TPP, guess who will step in and become the mighty economic power in Southeast Asia? Another sign of America’s declining influence as it becomes preoccupied with the escalating conflicts and chaos in the Middle East.

Protectionism has consequences. In the 1928 presidential election, Herbert Hoover campaigned on advocating higher tariffs that set the stage for an eager Republican Congress to indulge as never before, triggering an unbridled frenzy of log-rolling — jockeying for maximum protection of commodity and industry producers leading to enactment of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that hiked import fees up to 100 percent on over twenty thousand imported products.

After President Hoover signed the monumental tariff bill, within months America’s leading trade partners – Canada, France, Mexico, Italy, in all 26 countries – retaliated causing the world trade to plummet by more than half of the pre-1929 totals, one of several factors that precipitated the Great Depression.

Today the call for protectionism is not coming from the Chamber of Commerce and business advocates but the nation’s most powerful union leaders. The Democrats, abandoning their own president, are running for cover, fearful of losing support of union leaders who have made it clear that any Congressman who dares to vote for fast track (Trade Promotion Authority) legislation that “we will cut the spigot off on future donations to your campaign”.

As in any House of Cards program, the drama continues with no certainty about the outcome. Yet failure to approve the Trans-Pacific Partnerships puts in jeopardy the next trade agreement (Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership) and the upcoming US-China Bilateral Investment Treaty, as well as undermining America’s leadership internationally.

The author is former US congressman and chaired House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on International Economy.

AUSTRALIA FTA WITH CHINA

On June 17, 2015, Australia and China signed a free trade agreement.  See https://www.austrade.gov.au/Export/Free-Trade-Agreements/chafta.  As Paul Ryan stated in the House, if the United States does not lead on trade, China will.

TRADE

SED TALKS

On June 23, 2015, the attached remarks, BIDEN REMARKS SED, were made by Vice President  Joe Biden and Vice Premier Liu Yandong in the U.S.-China Strategic & Economic Dialogue  in Washington DC.  

Vice President Joe Biden stated in part:

And there’s an urgent need to agree on a rule-based system for rapidly evolving areas ranging from cyber space to outer space – a new set of rules. Together, collaboratively, we have an obligation –China and the United States – to shape these rules. And let me be clear: The United States believes strongly that whenever possible, China needs to be at the table as these new rules are written.  Responsible competition, adhering to these common rules – both old and new – in my view will be the essential ingredient necessary to manage areas of disagreement, and to build the long-term sustainable U.S.-China relationship.

As President Xi has said, “There’s competition in cooperation.” Yet such competition is healthy, based on mutual learning and mutual reinforcement. It’s a fundamental sense. It is conducive to our common development.  . . .

Responsible competitors help to sustain the system where research and development are rewarded, where intellectual property is protected, and the rule of law is upheld, because nations that use cyber technology as an economic weapon or profits from the theft of intellectual property are sacrificing tomorrow’s gains for short-term gains today. They diminish the innovative drive and determination of their own people when they do not reward and protect intellectual property. . . .

And let me be crystal clear . . .: We do not fear China’s rise. We want to see China rise, to continue to rise in a responsible way that will benefit you most, China, because you have an important role to play. A rising China can be a significant asset for the region and the world, and selfishly, for the United States.

China, like all nations in Asia, benefits from stability and prosperity – a stability and prosperity that, quite frankly, has been maintained over – since the end of the World War II by the United States of America for 60 years. We’re going to continue to play a role for decades to come, but don’t misunderstand it: We are a Pacific nation. 7,632 miles of our shoreline breaks on the Pacific Ocean.

We are a Pacific nation. What happens anywhere in the Pacific affects the United States as much as – more than any other portion of the world. And now we are a Pacific power, and we’re going to continue to remain a Pacific power. To respond to the changing world, the Administration has set in motion an institutionalized rebalance policy of the Asian Pacific region, not to contain but to expand all of our opportunities.

We believe this is important because the Pacific and every nation along its shore from Chile to China will form the economic engine that drives the economies of the 21st century. That’s where the action will be. As part of that rebalanced strategy, we’ve strengthened and modernized our alliances and our partnerships throughout the region. As part of that strategy, we have deepened our support for important regional institutions like ASEAN, and we’re continuing to work on the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which I predict we will succeed in getting done – the most progressive trade agreement in American history, and history, period. It boosts economic growth at home and abroad.

And as part of that strategy, we’re working to build more constructive and productive ties with China. But we all know this relationship is complicated and consequential, to say the least. And we all know, like a good marriage, it requires an awful lot of hard, hard work, an awful lot of attention.  . . .

There will be intense competition. We will have intense disagreements. That’s the nature of international relations. But there are important issues where we don’t see eye to eye, but it doesn’t mean we should stop working hand in hand because we don’t see eye to eye.  . . . I believe that all politics, especially international politics, is personal. It’s all personal. And – because only by building a personal relationship – that’s the only vehicle by which you can build trust.

VICE PREMIER LIU: . . .

President Xi Jinping takes this S&ED and CPE very close to his heart . . . . He believes that the new model of major country relations featuring mutual benefits, win-win cooperation, non- confrontation is the priority of China’s foreign policy. Facing complicated and volatile international situation, China and the United States should work together. They can work together in a wide range of areas. The two sides should keep the bilateral ties on the right track. As long as our two countries adopt an overall perspective, respect and accommodate each other’s core interests and be committed to a constructive approach to reduce misunderstanding and miscalculations, we can manage our differences and maintain our common interests. . . .

VICE PREMIER WANG:

Today more than 10,000 Chinese and Americans travel across the Pacific every day, and the number keeps growing at a double-digit rate. Two-way trade has exceeded U.S. $550 billion, and China has become one of the fastest-growing export markets for the United States. U.S. exports to China have helped to create nearly 1 million jobs in the U.S. Accumulated mutual investment topped U.S. $120 billion. And Chinese businesses have so far made investment in 44 states of America, with total investment reaching U.S. $46 billion and creating 80,000 jobs for America, and the numbers are still growing. . . .

Some people believe that the Thucydides trap between major countries is insurmountable. Some even want China and the United States to confront each other. In any case, decision-makers of both countries must always remember that confrontation is a negative sum game in which both sides will pay heavy prices and the world will suffer too.

Talking to each other does not create win-win all the time, but both sides will lose in a case of confrontation. Our dialogue mechanism may not be perfect, but it is an indispensable platform for the two countries to increase mutual trust, deepen cooperation, and manage differences.

History teaches us that China and the United States must not follow the old path of confrontation and conflict between major countries. Building a new model of major country relations is an effort to explore a new path towards peaceful coexistence. This path may not be smooth and the journey could be bumpy, but as a great Chinese writer said: “Originally there is no path – but as people walk down the same track and again, a path appears.” I’m convinced that we are on the right track.

INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND (“IMF”)— THE CHINESE YUAN IS NOT UNDERVALUED

On May 26, 2015, in the attached report, IMF CHINA CURRENCY NOT UNDERVALUED, the International Monetary Fund (“IMF”) determined that China’s currency is no longer unvalued.  The IMF specifically stated:

“On the external side, China has made good progress in recent years in reducing the very large current account surplus and accumulation of foreign exchange reserves.

Nevertheless, staff projections for 2015 suggest that China’s external position is still moderately stronger than consistent with medium term fundamentals and desirable policies. There are several factors influencing a country’s external position, with the exchange rate being one of them. While undervaluation of the Renminbi was a major factor causing the large imbalances in the past, our assessment now is that the substantial real effective  appreciation over the past year has brought the exchange rate to a level that is no longer undervalued. However, the still too strong external position highlights the need for other policy reforms—which are indeed part of the authorities’ agenda—to reduce excess savings and achieve sustained external balance. This will also require that, going forward, the exchange rate adjusts with changes in fundamentals and, for example, appreciates in line with faster productivity growth in China (relative to its trading partners).

On the exchange rate system, we urge the authorities to make rapid progress toward greater exchange rate flexibility, a key requirement for a large economy like China’s that strives for market based pricing and is integrating rapidly in global financial markets.  Greater flexibility, with intervention limited to avoiding disorderly market conditions or excessive volatility, will also be key to prevent the exchange rate from moving away from equilibrium in the future. We believe that China should aim to achieve an effectively floating exchange rate within 2–3 years.

On June 10, 2015, Senators Charles Schumer (D-NY) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urged the IMF to not recognize the Chinese yuan as a global reserve currency.  They argued that the fact that Chinese hackers had gained access to the personal records of at least 4 million U.S. government workers, and months earlier that hackers in China had broken into the computer systems of two U.S. healthcare giants are:

just the latest in a litany of egregious actions, or inactions, that reflect the government’s lack of an ability to participate in an honest and transparent manner on the global stage. This behavior cannot be rewarded by the international community, but more importantly, the Chinese government cannot be trusted to uphold international market standards without demonstrated evidence of a commitment to reform.”

In addition to the cyber attacks, Schumer and Graham claim that Beijing continues to undervalue its currency and lacks the necessary regulatory protections that are necessary to:

ensure the security of global financial markets.  While we support China’s efforts to modernize its currency and agree that its efforts to be eligible for the SDR basket are in line with financial liberalization standards that prevent currency manipulation, we do not believe that China’s efforts have been substantial enough, nor do we believe that their commitment has been demonstrated in a way that can be counted on consistently, especially when market pressure for the yuan to be strengthened increases.

SOLAR CELLS—EC AGREEMENT GOES DOWN FOR THREE COMPANIES, COMMERCE ISSUED FINAL SOLAR CELLS AD AND CVD REVIEW DETERMINATIONS AND CANADA FINDS INJURY FROM DUMPED/SUBSIDIZED CHINESE SOLAR PANELS

EC ABROGATES AGREEMENT ON SOLAR CELLS FOR THREE CHINESE COMPANIES

On June 4, 2015, in the attached notice, EC WITHDRAWS UNDERTAKING GO TO DUTIES, the European Union (“EU”) announced that it was cancelling its agreement with China in the Solar Cells antidumping and countervailing duty case with regard to three Chinese exporting producers companies: Canadian Solar, ET Solar, and ReneSola.  In the notice, the EU stated:

COMMISSION IMPLEMENTING REGULATION (EU)  . . . of 4 June 2015 withdrawing the acceptance of the undertaking for three exporting producers under Implementing Decision . . . confirming the acceptance of an undertaking offered in connection with the anti-dumping and anti-subsidy proceedings concerning imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic modules and key components (i.e. cells) originating in or consigned from  . . . China . .  . .

Following the notification of an amended version of the price undertaking by a group of exporting producers (‘the exporting producers’) together with the CCCME, the Commission confirmed . . . (1) the acceptance of the price undertaking as amended (‘the undertaking’) for the period of application of definitive measures. The Annex to this Decision lists the exporting producers for whom the undertaking was accepted, including: (a) CSI Solar Power (China) Inc., Canadian Solar Manufacturing (Changshu) Inc., Canadian Solar Manufacturing (Luoyang) Inc., and CSI Cells Co. Ltd together with their related company in the European Union  . . .(‘Canadian Solar’); (b) ET Solar Industry Limited and ET Energy Co. Ltd together with their related companies in the European Union . . . (‘ET Solar’); and (c) Renesola Zhejiang Ltd and Renesola Jiangsu Ltd  . . .(‘ReneSola’). ….

The findings of breaches of the undertaking and its impracticability established for Canadian Solar, ET Solar, and ReneSola require the withdrawal of the acceptances of the undertaking for those three exporting producers  . . . In addition, the Commission analyzed the implications of actions by Canadian Solar, ET Solar, and ReneSola listed  . . . above on their relationships of trust established with the Commission at the acceptance of the undertaking. The Commission concluded that the combination of these actions harmed the relationship of trust with these three exporting producers. Therefore, this accumulation of breaches also justifies the withdrawal of acceptances of the undertaking for those three exporting producers . . . .

The undertaking stipulates that any breach by an individual exporting producer does not automatically lead to the withdrawal of the acceptance of the undertaking for all exporting producers.  In such a case, the Commission shall assess the impact of that particular breach on the practicability of the undertaking with the effect for all exporting producers and the CCCME.  . . . The Commission has accordingly assessed the impact of the breaches by Canadian Solar, ET Solar, and ReneSola on the practicability of the undertaking with the effect for all exporting producers and the CCCME.  . . . The responsibility for those breaches lies alone with the three exporting producers in question; the monitoring and the verifications have not revealed any systematic breaches by a major number of exporting producers or the CCCME.  . . . The Commission therefore concludes that the overall functioning of the undertaking is not affected and that there are no grounds for withdrawal of the acceptance of the undertaking for all exporting producers and the CCCME.

FINAL SOLAR CELLS REVIEW DETERMINATION BY COMMERCE

On July 7, 2015, in the attached Federal Register notices and decision memos, SOLAR CELLS FINAL DECISION MEMO SOLAR CELLS AD FINAL FED FINAL CVD FED REG SOLAR CELLS C-570-980 Final Results Notice 7-8-15 (3) Final CVD Decision Memo SOLAR CELLS 7-8-15, the Commerce Department issued final Solar Cells AD and CVD Review determinations in the May 25, 2012 to Nov 30, 2013 AD review period and the 2012 CVD Review period.  In the AD review determination, the AD rates ranged from 0.79% to 33.08% with the average separate rate being 9.67% and in the CVD review determination the CVD rates ranging from 15.43 to 23.28% and the non-reviewed companies receiving 20.94%.

CANADA FINDS INJURY IN ITS SOLAR CELLS CASE

ON July 7, 2014, in the attached statement, SOLAR CELLS CANADA, the Canadian International Trade Tribunal announced its final determination that imports of dumped and subsidized Chinese solar energy equipment exports are a threat of injury to Canadian producers.  AD and CVD orders will now be issued in Canada with AD rates ranging from 9.14 percent to 202.5 percent for the nine exporters who responded to its questionnaire and at 286.1 percent for all other Chinese exporters and an estimated subsidy amount of 84.1 percent.

TIRES FINAL DETERMINATION

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT FINAL DETERMINATION AND ITC FINAL THREAT OF MATERIAL INJURY DETERMINATION

On June 12, 2015, in the attached fact sheet, ITA FINAL FACT TIRES, and Federal Register notices, FINAL DOC FED REG CVD TIRES FINAL DOC FED REG AD TIRES, Commerce announced its affirmative final antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) determinations regarding imports of certain passenger vehicle and light truck tires from the China.  The AD rates ranged from 14.35 to 87.99% and the CVD rates from 20.73% to 100.77%.

In response to the Commerce Department final determination, on June 17, 2015 in the attached statement, MOFCOM TIRES, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) stated:

The Head of the Trade Remedy and Investigation Bureau of the Ministry of Commerce said that the Department of Commerce of the United States launched the antidumping and anti-subsidy investigation against Chinese tire products,  adopted a lot of unfair and discriminatory practice during the investigation, especially refused to give Chinese state owned enterprises the separate rates, and deliberately raised the dumping and subsidy tax rates of Chinese products. Chinese government is paying close attention to it.

On July 14, 2015, in the attached announcement, Certain Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires from China Injure U.S. Indus, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) reached an affirmative injury determination in a 3-3 tie vote in the Tires case.  The ITC reached a negative critical circumstances decision.  As a result of the ITC decision, antidumping and countervailing duty orders will be issued.

CAFC DISMISSES AN ACTIVATED CARBON APPEAL BECAUSE IMPORTER DID NOT PROTEST IN TIME

On June 26, 2015, in the attached Carbon Activated Carbon v. United States, CAFC ACTIVATED CARBON, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“CAFC”) dismissed an antidumping appeal by importer because of failure to file protest in time.

CAFC AFFIRMS ITC INJURY DETERMINATION IN WOODFLOORING CASE

On July 15, 2015, in Swiff-Train Co. v. United States, in the attached decision, the CAFC affirmed the US International Trade Commission’s injury decision in the Wood Flooring from China antidumping and countervailing duty case.

COMMERCE DEPARTMENT FINAL CVD AND AD REVIEW DETERMINATION IN WOOD FLOORING CASE

On July 6, 2015, in the attached final determination, CVD FINAL WOODFLOORING, Commerce announced a CVD rate of only 0.99% in the 2012 Countervailing Duty review investigation on Multilayered Wood Flooring From China.

On July 8, 2015, in the attached final determination, WOODFLOORING AD FED REG, Commerce  announced its final AD rate of 0 to 58.84, with the separate rate companies receiving 13.74% for the administrative review period December 1, 2012 to November 30, 2013.

FIRST STEEL TRADE CASE FILED

As mentioned in prior newsletters, Steel Trade cases are coming, and on June 3, 2015 the first Steel Antidumping and Countervailing Duty case was filed against Corrosion-Resistant (Galvanized) Steel Products from China, India, Italy, Korea and Taiwan.  The details of the filing are set forth below in the ITC Filing notice:

Docket Number DN 3069

Received: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Commodity: Certain Corrosion-Resistant Steel Products from China, India, Italy, Korea and Taiwan

Investigation Number: 701-TA-534-538 and 731-TA-1274-1278

Filed By: Alan H. Price, Jeffrey D. Gerrish, Robert B. Schagrin, Paul C. Rosenthal and Joseph W. Dorn Firm/Organization: Wiley Rein LLP; Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom LLP; Schagrin Associates; Kelley Drye & Warren LLP and King & Spalding LLP

Behalf Of: United States Steel Corporation, Nucor Corporation, Steel Dynamics Inc., California Steel Industries, ArcelorMittal USA LLC and AK Steel Corporation

Country: China, Korea, India, Italy, and Taiwan

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting the Commission to conduct an investigation under sections 701 and 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the imposition of countervailing and anti-dumping duties on Certain Corrosion-Resistant Steel Products from China, India, Italy Korea and Taiwan.

NEW ANTIDUMPING CASE HYDROFLUROCARBONS FROM CHINA

On June 25th, a new antidumping petition was filed against hydrofluorocarbon blends from China.  The alleged antidumping rate is more than 200%.  See ITC Notice below:

Docket Number 3073

Received: Thursday, June 25, 2015

Commodity:  Hydrofluorocarbon Blends

Investigation Number: 731-TA-1279

Filed By: James R. Cannon, Jr.

Firm/Organization: Cassidy Levy Kent (USA) LLP

Behalf Of: The American HFC Coalition

Country: China

Description: Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting the Commission to conduct an investigation under section 731 of the Tariff Act of 1930 regarding the Imposition of Antidumping Duties on Imports of Hydrofluorocarbon Blends and Components Thereof from the People’s Republic of China.

JULY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On July 1, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, REQUEST REVIEW JULY, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of July. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Carbon Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings, Certain Potassium Phosphate Salts, Certain Steel Grating, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, Persulfates, and Xanthan Gum.  The specific countervailing duty cases are: Certain Potassium Phosphate Salts, Certain Steel Grating, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, and Prestressed Concrete Steel Wire Strand.

For those US import companies that imported Carbon Steel Butt-Weld Pipe Fittings, Potassium Phosphate Salts, Steel Grating, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Pipe, Persulfates, and Xanthan Gum and the other products listed above from China during the antidumping period July 1, 2014-June 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.

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

A major part of the battle for Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) and the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) was the merits of Trade Adjustment Assistance (“TAA”). 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 opposed TAA because they see TAA as an entitlement. But in 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).  In the Bill signed by the President into law  TAA for Companies is set at only $15 million.  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..

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.  In that video, the director of MATAAC directly asks whether US companies are ready to give up on international trade victimhood.

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.

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 newsletters and as Ronald Reagan predicted in the attached 1986 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.

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.

RUSSIA—US SANCTIONS AS A RESULT OF UKRAINE CRISIS

On May 21, 2015, the Commerce Department filed 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 a final rule, which will be attached to my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, 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

CUSTOMS CRACKS DOWN ON CHINESE HONG KONG SMUGGLING RING

On July 7, 2015, US Customs and Border Protection announced that four persons have been indicted for criminal violations in smuggling thousands of counterfeit Sony Corp. and Apple Inc. products, including iPhones and iPads, into the U.S. from China.  U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement stated that Andreina Beccerra of Venezuela, Roberto Volpe of Italy, Jianhua Li of China and Rosario La Marca, also of Italy, stand accused of a nearly five-year conspiracy to smuggle more than 40,000 phony electronic gadgets past U.S. customs officials, with most of the devices marked with false Apple and Sony trademarks. Most of the counterfeit products were made by Hong Kong-based Dream Digitals Technology (HK) Co. Ltd., where Li served as a sales manager.

CUSTOMS AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT BILL

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 and the House and have now gone to Conference Committee to smooth out differences between the Senate and House bills.  Some of those provisions include tough enforcement provisions for evasion of US antidumping and countervailing duty laws.

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

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—MARCH 7, 2014

Dear Friends,

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

TRADE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the ITC stated in its atached preliminary staff report:

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

ITC PRELIMINARY OCTG MANY COUNTRIES Pub4422 OCTG pdf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

As the Senators stated:

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USTR ISSUES ANNUAL TRADE REPORT TO CONGRESS

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

Conclude the Ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE—DRY CLEANING CHEMICALS FROM THE US

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

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

CUSTOMS

EXECUTIVE ORDER TO STREAMLINE TRADE 

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

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

CUSTOMS FRAUD—LIABILITY OF INDIVIDUAL OWNERS AND EMPLOYEES

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

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

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

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

and

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

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

In its request for the rehearing, the Government stated:

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

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA—NOW TRANSSHIPMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What goes around does indeed come around.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

ITC IS MAKING IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR PATENT TROLLS

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

The Commission specifically stated in the order:

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

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

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

ITC REQUESTS EN BANC REHEARING AT CAFC OF SUPREMA DECISION

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

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

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

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

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

DUPONT TRADE SECRET CONVICTION

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

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

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

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

NEW 337 CASE AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES FOR IMPORTS OF SULFENTRAZONE

Docket No: 3004

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Lisa a. Chiarini

Firm/Org: Hughes, Hubbard, & Reed LLP

Behalf Of: FMC Corporation

Date Received: March 5, 2014

Commodity: Sulfentrazone from China

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

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

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

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

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

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

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C CASE

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

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

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

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

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

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

SECURITIES

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

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

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

 FCPA DIGEST

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

CHINA

Avon Products

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

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

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

 JPMorgan

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

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

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

 Former Minister of Public Security

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

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

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

COMPLAINTS

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

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