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

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

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR OCTOBER 20, 2017

Dear Friends,

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE AT A CROSSROADS AND IT’S NOT JUST CHINA

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Billionaires at the Barricades at 313 (footnotes omitted).

According to Ingraham, Clinton promised that NAFTA would:

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

They received pink slips instead.

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

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

Billionaires at the Barricades at 385 to 389.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But Ms. Ingraham also states that:

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

Id. at 1163-1164.

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

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

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

My fellow Americans:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Emphasis added.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

COSTS OF PULLNG OUT OF NAFTA AND TPP

CANADA

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

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

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

MEXICO

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JAPAN

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

AGRICULTURE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

U.S. ANTI-TRADE STANCE AIDS EU

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

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

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

US CHAMBER OF COMMERCE

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

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

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

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

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

NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS HAVE STALLED

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

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

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

US Robert Lighthizer responded:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here are four of them:

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

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

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

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

Let’s look briefly at each of these.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yeah, right.”

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

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

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

US ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES BECOME MORE POLITICAL

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

NO SYMPATHY FOR BOMBARDIER IN BOEING FIGHT.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At the hearing, Suniva and SolarWorld requested a 32-cent-per-watt tariff on crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells.  Suniva continued to push for a price floor on solar panels of 74 cents per watt, while SolarWorld wants a quota on imported cells and panels to cap import supply; both support each other’s idea in the alternative.  In its brief, Suniva stated:

“The crisis caused by foreign market overcapacity now facing the U.S. CSPV cell and module industry is so extreme, the financial losses so great, that, to be effective, any remedy … must be bold, extensive and multifaceted.  [A] strong and effective remedy is required to stop the industry’s bleeding, and then provide breathing space for this American-invented manufacturing technology to grow and thrive.”

But SEIA, which maintains that such trade barriers will devastate the entire U.S. solar industry by raising prices and crippling demand, says the two manufacturers are failing for internal and not external reasons and have asked for more help than the government can grant. Since the ITC must recommend a remedy by mid-November with Trump then to decide within 60 days, SEIA offers these alternatives: technical assistance and job training assistance from government agencies, and an import licensing fee to fund manufacturing growth.

The interesting point is that Suniva and Solar World failed to submit an adjustment plan to the ITC to show, in direct contrast to Harley Davidson, how they will adjust to import competition if they are given relief.

SEIA argued in its brief:

“The commission should rely on its trade policy expertise to create and recommend constructive advice instead of resorting to trade restraints.  Denying the existence of the tens of thousands of jobs that are at stake, denying the reality and importance of grid parity, and denying the domestic industry’s internal problems in favor of scapegoating imports will not help the industry or serve the national interest.”

TRUMP AND CHINA

But what about developments regarding trade with China, as indicated below new trade cases are being filed against China in the antidumping and countervailing duty area and for IP violations under Section 337.

During her speech mentioned above, Laura Ingraham argues that there is no remedy if imports come into the US that infringe US intellectual property rights.  That simply is not true.

Under Section 337, 19 USC 1337, Petitioners holding valid IP rights can filed a Section 337 case at the US ITC and after a year long proceeding, the ITC will issue an order excluding the infringing imports at the border.

In addition, if the imports infringe US trademarks or copyrights, Petitioner can go directly to Customs, which will exclude the infringing exports at the border.

In addition, if Chinese exports infringe US intellectual property rights, such as trademarks and copyrights, a US company can go directly to Chinese Customs and stop the export of infringing exports.

But with China’s decision to help on North Korea, I suspect that during Trump’s visit to China in November deals will be reached.  But as Charlene Barshefsky has indicated in her speech to the Wall Street Journal above, the real problem is China’s decision to close down areas to US investment and put up barriers to US imports.

In light of the US position in the NAFTA talks, we can expect the US to demand reciprocity.  Trump and Congress may well take the position that we will close off the US market to the Chinese investment in the same areas where China blocks US investment in.  The US should also consider closing off Chinese imports into sectors where the US cannot export into.  That is reciprocity.

There are many fights to come.

SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA ON FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS MOVES FORWARD

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

The notice states that the USTR will specifically investigate the following specific types of conduct:

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

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

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

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

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) held a hearing on October 10th at the International Trade Commission.  During the October 10th hearing, only two US companies appeared to argue that their IP was stolen by Chinese government actions.  Juergen Stein, CEO of SolarWorld Americas stated that his company was a victim of Chinese “state-sponsored hacking and theft” while it was pursuing his AD and CVD cases against China.  Stein further stated that this “greatly weakened SolarWorld’s first-mover status, and again left SolarWorld vulnerable to China’s relentless effort to take over the U.S. solar industry through the sale of solar cells and panels below the cost of production,”

Just one other company, American Superconductor Corp., testified that it had been badly hurt by Chinese theft of its intellectual property.  The company accused a Chinese state-owned enterprise, Sinovel Wind Group, of stealing its intellectual property. AMSC has lost over $1.6 billion in company value and 70 percent of its workforce over the past six years as a result, AMSC President Daniel Patrick McGahn said.

“We believe that over 8,000 wind turbines – most owned by large Chinese utility state-owned enterprises – currently are operating on stolen AMSC IP I personally believe such actions should have consequences. The negative impact of Sinovel’s IP theft on the financial health of AMSC has been dramatic.”

A third company, ABRO Industries, said it had learned to work within the Chinese intellectual property protection system to address problems when they arise. William Mansfield, director of intellectual property at ABRO, also urged the Trump administration to refrain from rash action, stating, “The time for gunboat diplomacy is long since past.”

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

But as indicated in an article by Dan Harris, the problem may be that US companies on their own gave away their IP because of bad business decisions.  The US government cannot protect US companies from the consequences of bad business decisions.  See August 30, 2017 article by Dan Harris entitled “China-US Trade Wars and the IP Elephant in the Room”, on his China law blog at http://www.chinalawblog.com/2017/08/china-us-trade-wars-and-the-ip-elephant-in-the-room.html.

CHINA NME STATUS

On the question of China’s nonmarket economy status in AD and CVD cases, in light to the expiration of the 15-year deadline in the China-WTO Agreement on December 16, 2016 and a Chinese case in the WTO, the EU on October 3rd reached agreement with the European Council and Parliament to overhaul its antidumping procedures.  Pursuant to the Agreement, the EU will decide the issue on a case-by-case basis, leaving it up to the EU Government to determine whether a Chinese industry has demonstrated enough independent from the Chinese government.

In the announcement, the EU stated:

“The new legislation introduces a new methodology for calculating dumping margins for imports from third countries in case of significant market distortions, or a pervasive state’s influence on the economy.  The rules are formulated in a country- neutral way and in full compliance with the EU’s WTO obligations.”

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström further stated:

“Having a new methodology in place for calculating dumping on imports from countries which have significant distortions in their economies is essential to address the realities of today’s international trading environment. The commission has repeatedly stressed the importance of free but fair trade and the agreement today endorses that view.”

WINE FIGHT AGAINST BRITISH COLUMBIA AND CANADA

In the attached complaint filed by the United States against Canada on Wine, WTO WINE COMPLAINT, a case which is near and dear to my heart, on October 2, 2017 the Trump administration revived an Obama-era World Trade Organization case against Canadian rules that have allegedly kept U.S. wine off grocery store shelves in British Columbia, according to a WTO document circulated on Monday.

According to the US complaint:

“The BC wine measures provide advantages to BC wine through the granting of exclusive access to a retail channel of selling wine on grocery store shelves.  The BC measures appear to discriminate on their face against imported wine by allowing only BC wine to be sold on regular grocery store shelves while imported wine may be sold in grocery stores only through a so-called store within a store.”

According to prior statements from the government and the industry backing the case, many retailers in Canada have not taken the necessary steps to set up their “store within a store” to sell foreign wine, likely because of the high costs associated with controlled access and separate cash registers.

According to the complaint:

“These measures appear to be inconsistent with Canada’s obligations … because they are laws, regulations or requirements affecting the internal sale, offering for sale, purchase or distribution of wine and fail to accord products imported into Canada treatment no less favorable than that accorded to like products of Canadian origin.”

In the following months, Argentina, Australia, the European Union and New Zealand all asked to join the case, according to the World Trade Organization website.

USTR asserts the provincial regulations discriminate against imported wine because they only allow wine from British Columbia to be sold on regular grocery store shelves. In contrast, imported wine may only be sold in the province’s grocery stores through a so-called store within a store.

“British Columbia’s discriminatory regulations continue to be a serious problem for U.S. winemakers,” USTR spokeswoman Amelia Breinig said. “USTR is requesting new consultations to ensure that we can reach a resolution that provides U.S. wine exporters fair and equal access in British Columbia.”

In fact, BC Wine regulations are probably the most protectionist in the World, worse than China requiring the equivalent of an 80% tariff to sell imported wine.  BC protectionist measures on wine simply feed right into the Trump argument on NAFTA that it is not a free trade agreement.

SECTION 232 STEEL AND ALUMINUM CASES REMAIN STALLED

The Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases appear to have stalled for the time being.  No news on the Section 232 front raises the question what can be done for US Steel and Aluminum companies injured by imports without distorting the US market and expanding the problems.  Across the board tariffs on steel imports would create enormous collateral damage on the many US producers that use steel as a raw material input to produce downstream steel products.  Such a remedy would probably result in the loss of 100s of thousands of US job.

That is the problem with purely protectionist decisions.  They distort the US market and simply transfer the problems of the steel industry to other downstream industries.

But does that mean the US government should simply let the US Steel industry and other manufacturing industries die?  The election of Donald Trump indicates that politically that simply is not a viable option.

Although Joseph Schumpeter in his book Capitalism, Socialism and Demcracy coined the term “creative destructionism”, which conservatives and libertarians love to quote, they do not acknowledge the real premise of Schumpeter’s book that capitalism by itself could not long survive.  Schumpeter himself observed the collateral damage created by pure capitalism.

So what can be done for the steel and other manufacturing industries?  Answer work with the companies on an individual basis to help them adjust to import competition and compete in the markets as they exist today.  Moreover, there is already a government program, which can serve as a model to provide such a service—the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies Program.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

But TAA for Companies has been cut to the bone.  On August 22, 2017, in the attached press release, US Commerce Department Announces $133 Million to Boost Competitiveness of US Ma, the U.S. Commerce Department announced $13.3 Million to Boost Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers.

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

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

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

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

PTFE RESIN

On September 28, 2017, the Chemours Company FC LLC filed AD and CVD cases against imports of Polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE) Resin from China and India.

FORGED STEEL FITTINGS

On October 5, 2017, the Bonney Forge Corporation and the United Steel, Paper and Forestry, Rubber, Manufacturing, Energy, Allied Industrial and Service Workers International Union filed AD and CVD cases against imports of Forged Steel Fittings from China Italy and Taiwan.

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASES AGAINST US AND JAPAN

HYDRIOC ACID FROM THE US and JAPAN

On October 16, 2917, China Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) published the attached initiation notice of antidumping investigation against Hydriodic Acid from the USA and Japan, Initiation Notice_Hydriodic Acid_EN.  The alleged dumping margin on the US imports is 36.09% and Japanese imports is 41.18%

The Target companies in the US are: USA: Iofina Chemical, Inc.; IOCHEM Corporation and Ajay North America, LLC

The Target Companies in Japan are: SE Chemicals Corporation, NIPPOH CHEMICALS CO., LTD. and TOHO Earthtech, Inc.

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law.  Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.37 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.38 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.39 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.40

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

REUSABLE DIAPERS

On September 19, 2017, Cotton Babies, Inc filed a section 337 case against imports of Certain Reusable Diapers, Components Thereof, and Products Containing the Same.  The respondent companies named in the complaint are:

Alvababy.com, China; Shenzhen Adsel Trading Co., Ltd.d/b/a Alva, China; and Huizhou Huapin Garment Co., Ltd., China.

AMORPHOUS METALS

On September 19, 2017, Metglas, Inc. and Hitachi Metal, Ltd. filed a section 337 case against imports of amorphous metals and products containing same.  The named respondents in the case are:

Advance Technology & Materials, China; AT&M International Trading Co., Ltd., China; CISRI International Trading Co., Ltd., China; Beijing ZLJG Amorphous Technology Co., Ltd., China; Qingdao Yunlu Energy Technology Co., Ltd., China; Dr. Hideki Nakamura, Japan; and Mr. Nobrou Hanai. Japan.

LED LIGHTING

On September 21, 2017, Philips Lighting North America Corp. and Philips Lighting Holding B.V. filed a section 337 case against imports of LED Lighting Devices and LED Power Supplies.  The named respondents in the case are:

Feit Electric Company, Inc., Pico Rivera, California;  Feit  Electronic  Company,  Inc., (China),  China;  Lowe’s  Companies,  Inc.,  Mooresville,  North  Carolina; L G Sourcing,  Inc., North  Wilkesboro,  North Carolina; MSi Lighting, Inc., Boca Raton, Florida; RAB Lighting Inc., Northvale, New Jersey; Satco Products, Inc., Brentwood, New York;  Topaz  Lighting Corp.,   Holtsville, New York; Wangs Alliance Corporation d/b/a WAC Lighting Co., Port Washington, New York; and WAC Lighting (Shanghai) Co. Ltd. , China.

REUSABLE RAZORS
On September 27, 2017, The Gillette Company LLC filed a section 337 case against imports of Certain Shaving Cartridges, Components Thereof and Products Containing Same.  The named respondents in the case are:

Edgewell Personal Care Company, Chesterfield, Missouri; Edgewell Personal Care Brands, LLC, Shelton, Connecticut; Edgewell Personal Care, LLC, Shelton, Connecticut; Schick Manufacturing, Inc., Shelton, Connecticut; and Schick (Guangzhou) Co., Limited, China.

BEVERAGE CONTAINERS

On September 28, 2017, YETI Coolers, LLC filed a section 337 case against imports of Insulated Beverage Containers, Components, Labels, and Packaging Materials.  The named respondents are:

Alibaba (China) Technology Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; Alibaba Group Holding Limited, c/o Alibaba Group Services Limited, Hong Kong; Alibaba.com Hong Kong Limited, Hong Kong; Alibaba.com Singapore E-Commerce Private Limited, Hong Kong; Bonanza.com, Inc., Seattle, Washington; ContextLogic, Inc. d/b/a Wish, San Francisco, California; Dunhuang Group, China; Hangzhou Alibaba Advertising Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; Huizhou Dashu Trading Co., Ltd., China; Huagong Trading Co., Ltd., China; Tan Er Pa Technology Co., Ltd., Hong Kong; Shenzhen Great Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., China; and SZ Flowerfairy Technology Ltd., China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP SIMPLISTIC APPROACH TO TRADE INJURES US COMPANIES, US AGRICULTURE BADLY HURT, NAFTA NOT GOING WELL, SECTION 301 AND 232 CASES, TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE, SOLAR, FALSE CLAIMS ACT, MORE CASES

White House Washington DC

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR AUGUST 30, 2017

 

Dear Friends,

As stated in many past blog posts, it is easy for Candidate Trump to talk protectionism, but President Trump is now learning it is much more complicated.  Trump’s decision to push protectionism endangers his standing with a core constituency—farmers and rural America.  As stated below, Trump’s decision to tear up the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) has already had a major negative impact on farmers.

Trump’s call for an economic war with China and other countries is already having a ramification.  Trump’s threat to pull out of NAFTA is not helping the US position in the negotiations.  Trump simply does not understand the ramifications of the trade deal when he terminated the TPP or when he threatens to tear up NAFTA.

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

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

Trump simply did not understand the dynamics of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and the ramifications of simply terminating it.  During the campaign, Candidate Trump stated that the TPP was a bad deal and if only he led the negotiating the team, it would be a better deal.  Thus, Trump argued that the TPP deal should be terminated and the US should then negotiate bilateral deals with the eleven countries in the TPP.

But two major problems with that strategy are becoming very clear.  First the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) does not have the personnel to negotiate 11 separate trade deals with the individual countries.  It took more than five years to negotiate the TPP.  With Trump’s steep cuts to the Government bureaucracy, the government resources simply are not there.

Second, Trump did not understand the dynamics of the TPP deal.  During those negotiations, countries could give the US concessions because they would get offsets from other countries and the importance of gaining access to the markets of 11 other countries was worth the concession to the US.

But with no other countries in bilateral deals, the other countries are less willing to make the concessions the US is demanding.  In fact, as Robert Lighthizer, the USTR, has discovered, many of the countries in the TPP do not want to have a bilateral deal with the US.  They fear and rightly so that the US will demand too much.  Much easier to export and import from other countries.

The same problem is happening in the NAFTA negotiations.  Trump is threatening to leave NAFTA when he simply does not understand the dynamics of the deal and the devastating impact that such a withdrawal would have on US farmers and also US manufacturing industries, such as the US auto industry.  Trade is very complicated and running into the trade area like a bull in a China shop simply creates enormous damage.  That damage will be borne by the US agricultural industry and US manufacturers and that means the loss of 1000s if not 100s of thousands of jobs.

Labor unions and working men like the sound of being politically tough on trade and the foreigners, but when jobs are lost, those same people may not like the actual reality of a very protectionist policy.  Many American politicians, such as Donald Trump and Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, like to be tough on trade because foreigners do not vote.  But if the economy is hurt by Trump’s trade actions, his base will be hurt and he will not be the next President.  So there a lot riding on Trump’s trade policy and his Administration has run straight into the Wall of actual trade reality.

The only saving grace for Trump is that as evidenced by Senators Chuck Schumer and Bernie Sanders, the Democrats are even more protectionist than Trump.  But neither the Democrats nor Trump understand the true ramifications of simply walking away from trade deals that open up foreign markets.  The US agricultural industry is now learning those ramifications.

By kowtowing to the Steel industry with its 141,000 jobs, these trade actions could costs thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of jobs in downstream industries and other industries, such as Agriculture. It is time for the United States to wake up to the benefits of trade.

It is also time for the United States to find a way to make its companies more competitive in the US and international markets as they exist now rather than erect protectionist barriers to international competition.  See the article on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below and how companies, including steel companies, can be saved from import competition by making them competitive again.

USTR has also initiated a section 301 case against forced technology transfers in deals with China.  But in an August 30, 2017 article by Dan Harris, my partner, entitled “China US Trade Wars and the IP Elephant in the Room”, Dan states that in over one hundred deals with Chinese companies, he has not seen US companies forced to give over their Intellectual Property (“IP”) by the Chinese government.  Instead he has seen US companies make bad decisions leading them to give away their IP by their own volition.  If US companies do not protect their IP rights, they will lose them.  The US Government cannot protect against stupid mistakes.

Meanwhile, the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases remain on hold.  The Section 201 case against imports of Solar Cells continues with the ITC hearing being 11 hours long. The United States has intervened in a False Claims Act case against Furniture.  Commerce has also issued a circumvention determination in the Aluminum Extrusions case.

More Antidumping and Countervailing Duty and 337 cases have been filed against China and the trade beat goes on.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

THE WEAKNESS IN DONALD TRUMP’S ECONOMIC POLICY—TRADE

Donald Trump’s political strategy is fight the cultural war, but win the next election because of his economic policy.  If jobs and wages are up, more companies move into the US, Trump’s firm belief is that he wins the next Presidential election.  Even Michael Moore, the Democratic gadfly, believes that Trump will win reelection by carrying the states that he already won.  See https://www.fastcompany.com/40459122/michael-moore-says-trump-is-on-track-to-win-again-in-2020.

There is only one fly in the ointment, flaw in this strategy—Trade.  If the Trump trade policy hurts farmers, Trump could lose the rural states: Iowa, Kansas, North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, and Arkansas, to name a few and that could lead to Trump’s loss in the next Presidential election.

The economic nationalist Steve Bannon, who is credited with helping get Donald Trump elected by in part pushing the American First Trump policy, was recently forced out of the White House.  Before he left, however, Bannon made his trade position crystal clear.  in an article entitled “Steve Bannon Unrepetent”, in the American Prospect” magazine on August 16, 2017, Bannon stated with regards to trade policy:

“We’re at economic war with China,” he added. “It’s in all their literature. They’re not shy about saying what they’re doing. One of us is going to be a hegemon in 25 or 30 years and  it’s gonna be them if we go down this path.  . .

Bannon went on to describe his battle inside the administration to take a harder line on China trade, and not to fall into a trap of wishful thinking in which complaints against China’s trade practices now had to take a backseat to the hope that China, as honest broker, would help restrain Kim.

“To me,” Bannon said, “the economic war with China is everything. And we have to be maniacally focused on that. If we continue to lose it, we’re five years away, I think, ten years at the most, of hitting an inflection point from which we’ll never be able to recover.”

Bannon’s plan of attack includes: a complaint under Section 301 of the 1974 Trade Act against Chinese coercion of technology transfers from American corporations doing business there, and follow-up complaints against steel and aluminum dumping. “We’re going to run the tables on these guys. We’ve come to the conclusion that they’re in an economic war and they’re crushing us.”

From Bannon’s point of view, trade is economic war.

Although Bannon has since left the White House, President Trump and Commerce Secretary Ross apparently share Bannon’s thinking.  On August 22nd, without understanding the ramifications on his voter base, President Trump announced that he might simply cancel NAFTA.  Apparently, Trump believes that both Mexico and Canada are winning the economic war against the United States.

On August 28th, in an article entitled “Exclusive: Trump vents in Oval Office, “I want tariffs. Bring me some tariffs!”, Axios reported that in the first Oval Office meeting with Chief of Staff John Kelley and the last meeting with Steve Bannon, President Trump stated:

Trump, addressing Kelly, said, “John, you haven’t been in a trade discussion before, so I want to share with you my views. For the last six months, this same group of geniuses comes in here all the time and I tell them, ‘Tariffs. I want tariffs.’ And what do they do? They bring me IP. I can’t put a tariff on IP.”  . . .

“China is laughing at us,” Trump added. “Laughing.”

Kelly responded: “Yes sir, I understand, you want tariffs.” . . . .

Staff secretary Rob Porter, who is a key mediator in such meetings, said to the president: “Sir, do you not want to sign this?” He was referring to Trump’s memo prodding Lighthizer to investigate China — which may lead to tariffs against Beijing.

Trump replied: “No, I’ll sign it, but it’s not what I’ve asked for the last six months.” He turned to Kelly: “So, John, I want you to know, this is my view. I want tariffs. And I want someone to bring me some tariffs.”

Kelly replied: “Yes sir, understood sir, I have it.” . . .

Trump made sure the meeting ended with no confusion as to what he wanted.

“John, let me tell you why they didn’t bring me any tariffs,” he said. “I know there are some people in the room right now that are upset. I know there are some globalists in the room right now. And they don’t want them, John, they don’t want the tariffs. But I’m telling you, I want tariffs.” . . . .

Emphasis in the original.

Trump’s statements in this article ring true because during the Presidential campaign, Donald Trump made it very clear that he likes tariffs.

On August 28th, however, George Will in an Op-ed article entitled “Trump, The Novice  Protectionist” in Investors Business Daily responded to the Trump trade policy stating:

“Foreigners, however, have their uses. After the president trumpeted that the Dow surpassing the 22,000 mark was evidence of America’s resurgent greatness, The Wall Street Journal rather impertinently noted this: Boeing, whose shares have gained 50% this year and which accounted for 563 of the more than 2,000 points the Dow had gained this year en route to 22,000, makes about 60% of its sales overseas. Boeing has a backlog of orders for 5,705 planes, 75% going outside North America. For Apple, the second-biggest contributor (283 points) to this year’s Dow gain at that point, foreign sales are two-thirds of its total sales. Foreign sales are also two-thirds of the sales of McDonald’s, the third-biggest contributor (239 points).

Mark Perry of the American Enterprise Institute says that in the last 20 years the inflation-adjusted value of U.S. manufacturing output has increased 40% even though — actually, partly because — U.S. factory employment decreased 5.1 million jobs (29%).  . . . Increased productivity is the reason there can be quadrupled output from the same number of workers.  According to one study, 88% of manufacturing job losses are the result of improved productivity, not rapacious Chinese.

But those Democrats who think government should fine-tune everything are natural protectionists (Sen. Charles  Schumer: “They’re  rapacious, the  Chinese”)  and probably think Trump is too fainthearted because he is not protecting Americans from competition from Americans.  . . .”

TRUMP TRADE WAR—THE SIMPLISTIC APPROACH TO TRADE COULD WELL DAMAGE THE US ECONOMY AND DOOM THE TRUMP ECONOMIC PLAN

In the above articles about Bannon’s and Trump’s approach to trade along with the below op-ed article in the Wall Street Journal by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, the Trump trade team reveal the protectionist bent of the Trump Administration, which is based, in part, on blind arrogance and a simplistic approach to trade policy.

The Bannon and Trump approach reveal fatal misunderstandings:  trade is a two-way street, and US exports are critical to the wellbeing of Donald Trump’s own constituents.  In international trade, what goes around comes around.  What the US does to other countries, they can do back to the US.

Moreover, Bannon, Ross and Trump are confusing economic warfare with economic competition.  The United States has always strongly believed that economic competition is good for the economy, the country and the US consumer.  The bedrock principle of the importance of economic competition to wellbeing of the US economy is the reason the US antitrust laws were enacted. As Deputy Assistant Attorney General Roger Alford of the US Justice Department’s Antitrust Division recently stated on August 30th at a Competition Policy Forum in Shanghai China:

Our continued engagement on this topic is significant for competition enforcement. We are the guardians of strong and vigorous competition for economic prosperity. Our lodestar is to promote competition, not to give preference to specific competitors, even when individual businesses jockey for advantage.  . . .

Emphasis added.

Bill Gates believed that Microsoft had to go to war with its competition, but frankly that is why Microsoft produced such good software.  CEOs of companies are driven by competition to produce better products at lower prices, which means stronger US companies and prosperity for the US economy and US consumers.  Stronger US companies means more jobs at higher wages.

Protecting US companies from international competition does not strengthen the US companies.  It weakens them and the poster child for such a point is the US Steel industry, which has had 40 years of protection from steel imports.

This is exactly why President Ronald Reagan was so opposed to protectionism.  As President Reagan stated above in June 1986: “Protectionism is destructionism. It costs jobs.”

Moreover, Steve Bannon and Donald Trump have not figured out one important point: Not only do companies compete against each other and States compete against each other, but the United States and other countries compete against each other.  The US decision to go the Protectionist route means it has given up competing, and, therefore, it will lose the economic war.  Trump’s and Bannon’s combined with the Democrat’s protectionist policies mean the US will lose the economic war because of its decision to look inward and no longer compete in the international economic marketplace.

US companies do not get stronger by protecting them from international competition, which simply promotes the mentality of international trade victimhood.  US companies get stronger by looking inward and working harder to become internationally competitive.  See the article about Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below.

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

The Trans Pacific Partnership, for example, combines the markets of 12 countries, now 11 with the US exit, into one “huge” trading block.  Since Mexico, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand are part of that block, the TPP market is a much larger market than the US alone.  Mexico and Canada are also in a stronger trade position than the US because they already have free trade agreements with a number of other countries, including the EC, and that gives them a substantial competitive advantage getting into those markets.  This fact gives Canada and Mexico leverage in the NAFTA negotiations even though Trump, Lighthizer and Ross simply do not understand the dynamics of the deal.

Maybe this is a major reason US companies move to Mexico and Canada to get better access to other foreign markets.  The United States is competing with other countries too.

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

Also the upper class and upper middle class in China, which numbers between 250 to more than 300 million, have an income closer to the US and that segment of the China market is the same size, if not larger, than the US.  That is why in the push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”), House Speaker Paul Ryan used to state that 75% of the World’s consumers are outside the United States.

But China is also not this overwhelming behemoth with an economic juggernaut that is going to crush the US.  Yes, it may have a larger market, but on a per capita basis, it is much smaller.  Thus, the US per capita income on average is $57,000 where the Chinese per capita income is $8,000.  China has its own problems—keeping its people happy and fed.

Along with these problems, China has major weaknesses, which can be exploited by the US.  China has a very high personal tax rate, which can be as high at 45%.  This high tax rate is why many Chinese have emigrated to the US, looking for a lower tax rate and a better opportunity to keep the money they earn.  If Trump can drive taxes lower, that may result in more entrepreneurs and businesses moving to the US, e.g. Foxconn.

Another problem is the Chinese government’s strict control of information flowing into China by its very strong control of the internet.  Strict control of the internet stops knowledge flowing into China, which especially hurts the country’s high tech sector.  When information and knowledge stop, economies do not do as well.  The free flow of knowledge and ideas is critical for the most advanced economies and yet that is not true in China.

But arrogance is one of the great sins because it blinds you to all options.  To make a better deal in trade negotiations, the Administration has to do its homework and first understand the actual American interest.  If one is going to make America great again, one must first understand what is the nature of America’s interest in trade.  This requires understanding the dynamics of the trade deal in question, which President Trump prides himself in doing.  The Trump Administration must understand the actual trade deal closely, the US leverage points and the US weaknesses, what trade deals will help the US and the what trade deals will hurt the US interest.  Donald Trump’s failure in trade negotiations is to understand the dynamics of the deal and the leverage that the US has in trade negotiations.  In other words, with regards to trade, Trump simply does not understand “The Art of the Deal”.

In ripping up the TPP without even trying to renegotiate, Trump failed his own test because he did not understand the elements of the deal.  Trump’s philosophy was to do away with multilateral deals because they fall to the lowest common denominator and do only bilateral deals because that gives the US more control over the deal and if the country does not live up to its side of the bargain cancel the deal.

The problem with that approach is first the US government does not have the personnel at USTR, which is very lean and mean, to negotiate 11 separate trade deals with all the countries in the TPP.  It took more than 5 years to negotiate the TPP.

But secondly and more important, in recent bilateral negotiations, Canada, Mexico and Japan have all told the US do not assume that in bilateral deals or NAFTA, the United States will get the same deal it would have gotten in the TPP.  In fact, as indicated below, many countries in the TPP simply do not want to do a bilateral deal with the US—too much work.  Canada, Mexico and Japan were willing to give the US a better deal because they would gain access to a much greater market, the market of 11 additional countries.  That gave countries the political ability to play one national interest against another national interest.  Thus, Canada could give in to the US on dairy products because of the potential access to the much larger TPP market, including the Japanese and US markets.  Thus, countries in the TPP could use tradeoffs with other countries to open their markets further to US exports.  Those trades offs and the market access to the markets of 12 different countries does not exist with a bilateral deal with just the US.

On August 24, 2017, in an article entitled “Revived TPP may exclude trade concessions sought by US”, Nikkei, a Japanese newspaper, stated:

TOKYO — Japan is proposing suspending trade concessions made to the U.S. as part of the Trans-Pacific Partnership in order to resurrect the pact with the 11 remaining members.

Tokyo sounded out that proposal to other nations in the “TPP 11,” as those members became known after the U.S. withdrew from the deal. Senior negotiators will cite items they wish to see shelved during three days of talks starting Monday in Australia.

Washington had secured a number of major concessions from other nations in exchange for lower American tariffs on their exports. Though President Donald Trump pulled the U.S. out of the deal, those concessions remain on the TPP’s books — to the consternation of other members.

If all the 11 participants agree unanimously, any such concession would be put on hold, and national regulations governing that element of the pact would remain in place.
But the suspensions would be lifted if and when the U.S. decides to return to the partnership.

While the remaining members are leaning toward keeping the lower tariffs agreed on among the initial group, they are likely to revisit specific trade rules.

The U.S. sided with major domestic drug companies and settled on an effective eight-year window before competitors can have access to proprietary pharmaceutical data. That moratorium exceeds international standards, and other countries think it would impede development of cheap generics. All members of the TPP 11 are expected to agree on freezing that provision.

Other provisions that may be suspended involve copyright protection periods, fair-competition policies governing state-owned enterprises and the opening of government procurement to foreign capital.

American exports would face a competitive disadvantage if an 11-member TPP goes into force. Tokyo hopes that U.S. meat industry leaders will speak up in favor of rejoining the trade deal.

Trade is the one weak link in Trump’s economic plan.  As indicated below, the decision to kill the TPP has already had a major negative impact on US agriculture and part of Trump’s base, the rural states, where agriculture is king.

SIMPLICITY IS OFTEN A GOOD TRADE POLICY BUT NOT WHEN THE POLICY IS SIMPLE MINDED AND NARROWLY FOCUSED

Trump has slowed down the Section 232 Steel and Aluminum Investigations because its “complicated”, but when Bannon and Trump take a very simplistic, black and white view of trade, it is extremely dangerous to the US economy and Donald Trump’s own constituents.

This is not a fight between Globalism and America First.  The America First strategy requires the Administration to understand deeply the interest of the United States and the interest of all the significant US industries in trade negotiations, including agriculture, not just the narrow Steel and Aluminum Industries. The Trump and  Bannon statements indicate a deep failure to analyze why Trump won the election and what the interest of the entire United States is in trade negotiations and also the interest of Donald Trump’s own constituents, the voters that elected Donald Trump President.

Bannon thinks that if we create a trade war with China and are tough on them we will win the economic trade war with China. But Bannon truly has forgotten why voters elected Donald Trump.

First, it was not just the US Steel and Aluminum industries that put Trump in the White House, it was the working man in many manufacturing plants throughout the United States.  Because of their economic, black white view of the World, Trump and Bannon want to put up barriers to steel imports to protect the US Steel industry and its 141,000 jobs without realizing the damaging impact of such an action on the millions of jobs in the downstream steel consuming industries.  Truthfully, if Donald Trump is going to be reelected, Trump himself, his trade team and Steve Bannon cannot be so simple minded.

More importantly Donald Trump also won because of farmers.  Although Trump won the States in the Blue Wall, Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin, he was also able to win the Presidency because he won the US heartland, including the states of Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Arizona, Oklahoma, Utah and Florida.  What do those states have in common and in common with Wisconsin—Agriculture.  And the Trump trade policy is and has seriously hurt US farmers because US farmers are dependent on exports.

As the US Wheat Federation stated in the Section 232 Steel case, half of US wheat is exported.  Putting up protectionist walls invites retaliation against US agricultural exports.

Finally, one other point in direct response to Steve Bannon’s and Trumps statement, substantial trade relations prevent real shooting wars.  As indicated below in the Section 301 article, China is becoming more amenable on North Korea because of its enormous trade relationship with the United States.  The total US China trade relationship is $578.6 billion with $115.8 billion in US exports and $462.8 billion in imports from China.

In direct contrast, the US trade relationship with Russia is much, much smaller.  The total US Russia trade relationship is $38.1 billion with $11.2 in US exports and $27 billion in imports from Russia.  Truly peanuts in the global trade market.  It is better to compete with countries in the economic arena as compared to a real war, where millions die.

DEMOCRATS MORE PROTECTIONIST THAN DONALD TRUMP

The only saving grace for Donald Trump on trade is that the Democrats are even more protectionist.  On August 13th, Senator Chuck Schumer, who heads the Democrats in the Senate, told John Catsimatidis on his New York AM 970 radio show “The Cats Roundtable” that he is closer now to President Donald Trump than he ever was with former President Barack Obama on trade.  Senator Schumer stated:

“Trade is the thing [China cares] most about, and they’ve been treating us very badly on trade for a long time, frankly,.  I was closer in trade views to Donald Trump than I was to either George Bush or Barack Obama, on China anyway. I think we were much too easy on them. But if we got tough on them now, maybe they would relent, but we have to be real tough. So far, the administration has not been as tough as they should be, as far as I’m concerned.”

The Trump Administration should be very tough with China on trade, but it should carefully analyze what its true interests are and the interests of US voters that elected Donald Trump.  The US government should do everything in its power to drop barriers to US exports in China and other countries.  But protectionism for protectionism’s sake will not cure the problems of US manufacturing and right the US China trade balance

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR HURTS US AGRICULTURE AND US FARMERS

As mentioned in prior newsletter, the ox that will be gored by Trump’s trade policy is agriculture and that is just what is happening.  On August 7, 2017, in the attached extensive article entitled “Trump’s Trade Pullout Roils Rural America”, Trump’s Trade Pullout Roils Rural America – POLITICO Magazine, Politico did its homework and described in detail the deep negative impact of the Trump trade policy on US agriculture:

EAGLE GROVE, Iowa—On a cloud-swept landscape dotted with grain elevators, a meat producer called Prestage Farms is building a 700,000-square-foot processing plant. The gleaming new factory is both the great hope of Wright County, which voted by a 2-1 margin for Donald Trump, and the victim of one of Trump’s first policy moves, his decision to pull out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

For much of industrial America, the TPP was a suspect deal, the successor to the North American Free Trade Agreement, which some argue led to a massive offshoring of U.S. jobs to Mexico. But for the already struggling agricultural sector, the sprawling 12- nation TPP, covering 40 percent of the world’s economy, was a lifeline. It was a chance to erase punishing tariffs that restricted the United States—the onetime “breadbasket of the world”—from selling its meats, grains and dairy products to massive importers of foodstuffs such as Japan and Vietnam.

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

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

“I’m scared to death,” said Ron Prestage, whose North Carolina-based family pork and poultry business made its huge investment in the plant near Eagle Grove in part to reap expected gains from the TPP. “I don’t guess I’ve gone beyond the point of no return on the new plant, but we did already start digging our wells and started moving dirt.”

He and other agricultural business people and workers have reason for concern.

On July 6, the EU, which already exports as much pork to Japan as the United States does, announced political agreement on a new deal that would give European pork farmers an advantage of up to $2 per pound over U.S. exporters under certain circumstances—a move which, if unchecked, is all but certain to create a widening gap between EU exports and those from the United States.

European wine producers, who sold more than $1 billion to Japan between 2014 and 2016, would also see a 15 percent tariff on exports to Japan disappear while U.S. exporters would continue to face that duty at the border. For other products, the deal essentially mirrors the rates negotiated under the TPP, which the United States has surrendered, giving the EU a clear advantage over U.S. farmers.

The EU’s deal is all the more noteworthy because American farmers were relying on the TPP—to which the EU was not a member—to give them an advantage over European competitors. But in a further rebuke to the United States, Tokyo decided within a matter of weeks to offer the European nations virtually the same agricultural access to its market that United States trade officials had spent two excruciating years extracting through near-monthly meetings with their Japanese counterparts on the sidelines of the broader TPP negotiations; the United States is now left out.

The EU, which also recently inked a deal with Vietnam, is now moving forward with talks with Malaysia and is in the process of modernizing a pre-existing trade deal with Mexico.

Meanwhile, a bloc of four Latin-American countries—Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia, known as the Pacific Alliance—is quickly becoming the leading force for free trade in the region, announcing near the end of June it would commence its own negotiations with New Zealand, Australia and Singapore, heedless of its neighbor to the north.

On its own, Australia, which in 2015 cut a deal to undersell the United States in beef exports to Japan, announced another round of scheduled tariff cuts with Japan. Without the TPP, Australian ranchers eventually will enjoy a 19 percent tariff advantage over U.S. competitors. Australia is also prioritizing the conclusion of trade talks with Indonesia, the largest nation in Southeast Asia by gross domestic product.

The remaining 11 TPP countries have already met two times, with a third meeting planned, to move ahead with the revival of the deal without the United States. The so- called TPP-11 would be in direct response to Trump’s trade policy. Economic forecasts already show projected gains for countries involved. Canada, according to one estimate, could permanently gain an annual market share of $412 million in beef and $111 million in pork sales to Japan by 2035, because lower tariffs would enable it to eclipse America’s position in the market.

As China, which was never a part of the TPP, senses blood in the water, it is moving quickly to assert itself, rather than the United States, as the region’s trade arbiter. China is aiming to close talks by the end of this year on its behemoth Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership—a trade agreement involving 15 other Asia-Pacific countries.

None of these deals are yet in effect. But already there are signs that competitors are gaining market share over U.S. producers in the post-TPP landscape, as Pacific nations take a closer look at alternatives to U.S. exporters.

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

Japan, which saw the TPP not only as a source of economic growth but a counterweight to China, is now taking the lead in salvaging the deal. Its goal is to have some sort of agreement between the 11 other countries in place for the annual summit of Asia-Pacific leaders in November. Trump is expected to attend, creating the awkward possibility that he will witness all the handshakes and back slaps as his fellow leaders congratulate themselves on a deal.

For his part, Trump once promised a slew of “beautiful” deals to replace the TPP, but his administration has yet to lay out a detailed strategy. U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told lawmakers that an analysis is underway to determine where it makes most sense to pursue negotiations.

In the meantime, Lighthizer, a trade attorney who pressured Japan to voluntarily restrain its steel exports when he was a trade official in the 1980s, said Tokyo should just go ahead and lower their tariffs without expecting anything in return.

“I think in the areas like beef and the others, they ought to be making some unilateral concessions, at least temporary concessions,” he told lawmakers in June. “And I don’t quite understand why that doesn’t happen.”

Lighthizer said the administration still hopes to strike bilateral trade deals—that is, separate agreements with individual countries—but he conceded that “some of the TPP countries don’t want to do bilaterals.” The value of the TPP for many countries was that they could justify giving up protective tariffs in exchange for their own access to the markets of a wide pool of countries; many are unwilling to make such concessions for the smaller gains of a bilateral deal.

Lighthizer acknowledged that even Japan, at least for the time being, may not be interested in one-on-one negotiations with the U.S. . . .

That leaves workers in 13,000-person Wright County, whose survival depends largely on agriculture, with relatively few signs of optimism. Trump’s decision to walk away from the TPP has stoked uncertainty about U.S. trade policy and, more notably, the president’s commitment to rural America.

“He fooled a lot of people,” said Sandy McGrath, mayor of Eagle Grove, who is not affiliated with any party and did not support Trump. . . .

But the plant’s success will depend largely on export opportunities. More than 26 percent of the pork produced in the U.S. in 2016 was exported to foreign markets. And more than $1.5 billion of the nearly $6 billion in U.S. pork exports in 2016 headed for Japan.

“At the time those investment decisions were made, the U.S. had never turned down a free trade opportunity,” said Dermot Hayes, an agricultural economist at Iowa State University, referring to the Prestage plant and other pork-industry investments.

Hayes said the livestock industry had in its sights a future of expansion amid soaring export growth. After Trump’s withdrawal from the TPP, “that has pretty much disappeared,” he said. . . .

In April, when Trump was on the verge of withdrawing from NAFTA, Maier said he watched corn prices plummet in anticipation of the president’s decision. Trump relented, at the request of Perdue, the agriculture secretary, who appealed to the president with colorful maps showing the president’s base was largely concentrated in states that heavily rely on agriculture.

Ultimately, Trump agreed to renegotiations with Canada and Mexico instead. But Maier remains wary that, despite pledges by the administration to “do no harm” for agriculture, the mere act of reopening the deal with Canada and Mexico, the two largest destinations for U.S. agricultural exporters, could mess up what has been a very good thing for American farmers in the Midwest.

“Farmers are willing to open up NAFTA, but if we open up NAFTA, there’s the risk of going backwards,” he said. . . .

The Obama administration, backed by a large cadre of free-trade Republicans, used that reality to grow support for the TPP among businesses and agricultural interests eager to grab a better foothold in a fast-growing area of the world where the U.S. has few formal trade deals.

But through the slow churn of negotiations, the dazzlingly complex deal among 12 countries soon fell victim to time and circumstance. After more than five years of talks, bleary-eyed trade negotiators were finally able to close the deal at an Atlanta hotel on October 5, 2015. But the agreement quickly became mired in election politics. Labor unions and blue-collar voters declared it to be a successor to NAFTA, which was blamed for the loss of factories. And while the U.S. trade commission predicted the deal would be broadly beneficial to the overall economy, some areas including food and agriculture were predicted to score more gains than others.

Even as supporters of the deal insisted it would put U.S. manufacturers on a stronger footing versus overseas competitors by enforcing higher labor and environmental standards, Trump and Bernie Sanders used anti-TPP fervor as a key plank of their campaign platforms, declaring that it would cost America jobs. Even Hillary Clinton, normally a supporter of freer trade, turned on the deal, saying she wanted to negotiate better terms.

Trump escalated his rhetoric on trade after the primaries and Congress, which has final say on trade deals, shied away from bringing TPP up for a vote. After Trump’s victory, the fate of the deal in the GOP-controlled Congress was all but sealed as Republican lawmakers put it aside to concentrate on tax reform and a bid to roll back Obamacare.

On his first full day in office, Trump signed an executive order withdrawing from the TPP, calling the action a “great thing for the American worker.”

“The Trans-Pacific Partnership is another disaster done and pushed by special interests who want to rape our country, just a continuing rape of our country,” Trump said during a campaign stop in Ohio. “That’s what it is, too. It’s a harsh word: It’s a rape of our country.” . . .

But even as Iowa was voting for Trump by 51 percent-42 percent, its farmers were looking to Asia as their savior. . . .

But despite Trump’s intense personal interest in trade, the White House has been slow to build the dream team of negotiators the president promised on the campaign trail. Lighthizer, who once served as a deputy U.S. trade representative under President Ronald Reagan, was confirmed on May 11. The people tapped to serve in the agency’s three deputy positions await confirmation, as does the administration’s pick for chief agriculture negotiator.

Iowa’s Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley says he thinks a trade deal with Japan would make up for much that was lost for agriculture by dropping TPP, but it will take “a lot more personnel, a lot more time to get it done, a lot more separate actions by Congress.”

As far as the administration’s strategy to get there, Grassley, who still owns his farm in Butler County, Iowa, said he hasn’t gotten much direction.

“I asked Lighthizer maybe a month ago in a meeting, and I didn’t get an answer,” Grassley said in a recent interview. “In a sense he answered, but not very definitively because their policy isn’t established.” . . .

Maybe the lesson of TPP demise for the protectionist firebreathers is be careful what you wish for.  The negative ramifications of not doing the TPP appear to be infinitely higher than doing the trade deal.

NAFTA NEGOTIATIONS

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

But Trump keeps stirring the pot with his anti-NAFTA rhetoric. On August 22nd, during a speech in Phoenix President Trump announced that he might simply cancel NAFTA.

As Politico stated on August 23rd, “Trump’s  threat  of  NAFTA  withdrawal lose its edge”:

“Canada and Mexico appear to have reached a conclusion that when President Donald Trump threatens to withdraw from NAFTA, it is a negotiating ploy that is all bark and no bite. . . .

Instead, concerns were raised from within the United States government, where officials and lawmakers who support the deal see little value in the president repeatedly going to the well of harsh rhetoric in a way that makes the United States’ negotiating position more difficult.

“I don’t know a single person with a working brain cell that thinks that’s a good idea,” said one U.S. government source close to the talks, referring to renewing the threat of terminating the deal. “It’s a stupid message to send during the  negotiations.”

Part of the reason Mexico and Canada might be less intimidated by Trump’s bluster is that they have plenty of other trading partners to fall back on if the relationship with the U.S. sours. Both countries have separate deals in place with the European Union — Mexico is currently ramping up talks to update theirs — and both are part of the effort to reboot the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which the remaining 11 members are pushing toward completion even without the U.S.

But after Trump cast aside the TPP almost immediately upon taking office, the U.S. has fewer such options to fall back on — so pro-NAFTA lawmakers and those from export- dependent states have repeatedly urged him to focus on modernizing and updating NAFTA, rather than terminating it.

House Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady — whose home state of Texas counts Mexico as the No. 1 market for its exports, followed by Canada — cautioned Trump on Wednesday to be more aware of the effects his words have on the country’s trade relationships.

“The president’s rhetoric is red-hot, and it creates real impact,” Brady said during a town hall discussion at AT&T headquarters in Dallas. “I think the rhetoric, the words from the president matter, so I’d like to see that take a different approach in tone.”

Brady, whose powerful committee oversees trade on Capitol Hill, is one of a core group of Republicans whose support will be crucial if the administration succeeds in renegotiating a new deal with Canada and Mexico, since it will likely have to go through Congress for approval . . ..

The political question is whether Trump would discard NAFTA in the face of what certainly would be fierce resistance from Congress and industries like agriculture, which would take a significant hit in that event amid a sustained downturn in the farm economy.

Back in April, intense lobbying from the Hill and on the farm helped talk Trump down from inking a prepared executive order to withdraw from the deal. News of the planned order sparked such a public outcry and flurry of reaction in support of the deal that business and trade insiders sometimes refer to it as “Black Wednesday.” . . .”

Meanwhile, a chorus of industries are telling the Administration not to be so tough in the NAFTA negotiations because tweaks are fine, but the failure of the NAFTA deal would be disastrous to US industry and US agriculture.  On August 10th Automobile and Auto Parts makers urged the Administration to cool down the rhetoric on rules of origin for automobiles and auto parts because major changes to automobile rules of origin through NAFTA modernization could have the unintended consequence of making North America’s auto industry less competitive.  As Charles Uthus, vice president of international policy at the American Automotive Policy Council, the main lobbying arm of U.S. auto companies in Washington, stated:

“It’s the highest automotive rule of origin anywhere that you can find. It’s already extremely rigorous, very difficult to meet as it is. To actually strengthen it, there is a huge risk of unintended consequences.”

Ann Wilson, senior vice president of government affairs for MEMA, stated:

“Our members really struggle with finding a connection between changing the rules of origin and the reshoring of jobs. They do not see that connection.”

On August 17th Politico reported that Trump’s tough rhetoric has created intense hatred in Mexico, which will make it politically very difficult for Mexico to make concessions or agree to a deal that would clearly benefit the US.  Thus, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto is not afraid to walk away from the table if needed, potentially overturning the entire U.S.-Mexico bilateral trade relationship in the process.

Again, Trump does not understand the dynamics of the deal and the fact that since Mexico has more trade agreements than the US, it has leverage and is not afraid to walk away from the table.

Thus, both Mexico and Canada are resisting US pressure for a new “national content” provision in NAFTA’s auto trade rules to encourage more parts to be made in the United States.  As Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo stated:

“It will not be best practice to introduce that kind of rigidities into the industrial process.  It’s not good for American companies. It’s not good for Mexican companies.”

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland also stated: “Canada is not in favor of specific national content in rules of origin”.

Meanwhile, the Canadian Dairy Producers stated that they will fight any U.S. effort to duplicate in NAFTA the dairy concessions secured through TPP negotiations. As Yves Leduc, director of policy and international trade for the Dairy Farmers of Canada, stated, “Not a possibility – as far as we are concerned, we would never agree to that.”

The small amount of dairy access that Canada granted the U.S. during the TPP talks – equal to 3.25 percent of Canada’s domestic milk production – was balanced out by concessions Canada secured in negotiations involving all of the 11 other countries. Those circumstances don’t apply to NAFTA, which involves only three countries. As Leduc stated, “To ask us to open up our market to allow more subsidized goods from the U.S. to enter the Canadian market, the answer is simple: It’s no.”

Meanwhile, US famers joined with Canadian and Mexican farmers to urge US negotiators to not let specific demands undermine the market access US farmers and ranchers enjoy under the existing agreement.  Although all three groups want to lower trade barriers to exports and imports, it was their unified position to defend existing market access that was most notable, given the fear on the farm that Trump could use agriculture as a bargaining chip to satisfy his obsession with reducing America’s trade deficit in manufactured goods.

THE PHRASE “FREE BUT FAIR TRADE” IS A FRAUD BECAUSE COMMERCE HAS SO DEFINED DUMPING AS TO FIND ALMOST EVERY IMPORT DUMPED

In an article along the same lines as the Bannon article and the Trump quote, on August 1, 2017, Commerce Secretary Wibur Ross penned an article in the Wall Street Journal entitled, “Free Trade Is a Two Way Street”.  In the article, Commerce Secretary Ross argued that many countries erect barriers to US exports, but then went on to state:

“Both China and Europe also bankroll their exports through grants, low-cost loans, energy subsidies, special value-added tax refunds, and below-market real-estate sales and leases, among other means. Comparable levels of government support do not exist in the U.S. If these countries really are free traders, why do they have such formidable tariff and nontariff barriers?

Until we make better deals with our trading partners, we will never know precisely how much of our deficit in goods is due to such trickery. But there can be no question that these barriers are responsible for a significant portion of our current trade imbalance.

China is not a market economy. The Chinese government creates national champions and takes other actions that significantly distort markets. Responding to such actions with trade remedies is not protectionist. In fact, the World Trade Organization specifically permits its members to take action when other countries are subsidizing, dumping and engaging in other unfair trade practices.

Consistent with WTO rules, the U.S. has since Jan. 20 brought 54 trade-remedy actions— antidumping and countervailing duty investigations—compared with 40 brought during the same period last year. The U.S. currently has 403 outstanding orders against 42 countries.

But unfortunately, in its annual reports, the WTO consistently casts the increase of trade enforcement cases as evidence of protectionism by the countries lodging the complaints. Apparently, the possibility never occurs to the WTO that there are more trade cases because there are more trade abuses.

The WTO should protect free and fair trade among nations, not attack those trade remedies necessary to ensure a level playing field. Defending U.S. workers and businesses against this onslaught should not be mislabeled as protectionism. Insisting on fair trade is the best way to ensure the long-term strength of the international trading system.

The Trump administration believes in free and fair trade and will use every available tool to counter the protectionism of those who pledge allegiance to free trade while violating its core principles. The U.S. is working to restore a level playing field, and under President Trump’s leadership, we will do so.

This is a true free-trade agenda.”

Let me begin by saying no one has a problem with US government actions challenging foreign, including Chinese, barriers to US exports.  Every Administration be it Republican or Democrat has taken a tough stance to drop foreign barriers to US exports.  In fact, many Senators and Congressmen are pressuring the Trump Administration for more free trade agreements because they remove barriers to US exports.  The TPP, Trans Pacific Partnership, would have dropped tariffs down to 0 on more than 18,000 products exported by US companies, many agricultural products.

Although no one doubts that the Chinese market is significantly distorted, many foreign markets and in some cases US markets are significantly distorted.  The US steel market with the many outstanding trade orders blocking steel imports is a good example of a significantly distorted market in which the US price for steel is much higher than the World market price.

Also no one doubts that many countries subsidize their exports or dump in the US market.  For many years, the Commerce Department was able to find very high dumping rates on Japanese imports in antidumping cases by using price to price comparisons, which found that Japanese prices were significantly higher, sometimes four times higher, than US prices for the same Japanese product.  That is classic dumping using higher prices in the home market to fuel lower prices to the United States.

The Japanese companies were able to use dumping because the Japanese Government erected non-tariff trade barriers to block imports from the US and other countries creating very high domestic Japanese prices.  To protect its mikan /tangerine industry, for example, for many years Japan blocked all imports of citrus fruit.  But it is also interesting to note that there are no outstanding countervailing duty/anti-subsidy orders against Japanese products.

The Chinese governments, especially the local governments, also subsidize their exports and provide low interest loans to their companies, but so does the US government, through its subsidies in the Agriculture area, and the State Governments, which will waive state income taxes or help with low interest loans, to encourage production of companies, such as Foxconn, to move to their states.

But the US Countervailing Duty law applies to China now and the Commerce Department has not been shy in finding Chinese imports into the United States to be subsidized.  It should be noted, that the WTO has overturned 28 US Countervailing Duty cases against China, in part, because the WTO has ruled that Chinese state-owned companies are not necessarily the Chinese government itself, as the Commerce Department has ruled.

The US too has state-owned companies, such as the Tennessee Valley Authority, which provides electricity to certain parts of the US.  Should foreign governments assume that all electricity from the TVA is subsidized because it is owned by the US government?

The major problem, however, is the Commerce Department’s application of the antidumping law.

In the 1980s, James Bovard authored a book called the “Fair Trade Fraud”, which outlined many of these same problems in the US antidumping law.  But nothing has changed.  Instead Commerce has just developed new methodologies to increase antidumping rates even higher.

Moreover, the same economic warfare arguments were made about Japan in the 1980s.  Although China does not have clean hands, that does not mean that every single import from China is unfairly traded.  In fact, I would argue that a significant percentage, if not the majority, of imports from China are fairly traded.  The Chinese government simply does not care about the Chinese Mushroom, Honey, Crawfish or Shrimp industries and does not set the prices for those products or any of the inputs.  Does the Chinese government really care about the price of cow manure in China, a major input for mushrooms?

Remember Commerce over decades has so distorted the US antidumping law that it finds dumping in 100% of the cases from China because it refuses to look at actual prices and costs in China.  If you have a hanging judge, does that mean every single import from China is dumped/unfairly traded?

Instead, Commerce should start easing the restrictions on the market economy status of China so as to determine which Chinese companies are truly dumping in the US market and nail them to the wall.  Commerce should make its antidumping cases against China mirror actual reality in China, not for the Chinese companies, but for US importers and downstream customers.

Right now, because of its refusal to use actual prices and costs in China, neither Donald Trump, nor Wilbur Ross nor the Commerce Department know which Chinese companies are truly dumping and which Chinese companies are not.  Until Commerce starts uses actual prices and costs in China, no one will know which Chinese company is truly dumping,

Finally, the Commerce Department decision to tilt the playing ground and find dumping in every antidumping and countervailing duty case against China and also against almost all every other foreign county has created a situation so that the public perception is that almost every import into the US is dumped.  These hanging judge decisions fuel the protectionist/isolationist political rhetoric in the United States badly damaging US industry and agriculture.  It has also led to a mentality by many US companies of international trade victimhood.  We poor US companies simply cannot compete in the international or US market because all foreign exports and US imports are subsidized or dumped.

Instead, US companies want to rely on US government issued protectionist walls to protect themselves from competition rather than finding a way to make the US companies competitive again.  See the article on Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies below.

SECTION 232 STEEL AND ALUMINUM CASES STALLED

The Section 232 Steel and Aluminum cases continue to be stalled.  On August 21ST,  Politico reported:

“WHITHER THE NATIONAL SECURITY STEEL INVESTIGATION? White House chief strategist Steve Bannon’s departure from the White House . . tipped the balance of Trump’s economic advisers firmly toward the more centrist “globalist” wing – and that could mean that two reports examining whether to limit imports of steel and aluminum for national security reasons could be indefinitely delayed. The Commerce Department has prepared a report on its findings that is circulating among agencies, but the administration has decided to dial down the investigations as it turns its attention to tax reform . . . .

Part of the reason is the departure of Bannon, who had been a major proponent of the move. But the decision to put off the investigations was also made in part because of opposition from business groups and Republican lawmakers who were worried it would hurt steel users and the broader economy, the news report said. .

Although President Donald Trump and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross thought they had found a panacea, cure all, for US trade problems, using Section 232 National Security cases to put large tariffs and/or quotas on Steel, Aluminum and other raw material products, something happened on the way to the Trump trade heaven—reality.  The major problem is that the steel industry has only 141,000 jobs at stake while downstream steel users have millions of jobs at stake.

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

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

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

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

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

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

In response to the delay in the Section 232 Steel case, American steel industry executives appealed directly to President Donald Trump for immediate import restrictions because steel imports have surged back to 2015 levels.  As the letter states:

“The need for action is urgent. Since the 232 investigation was announced in April, imports have continued to surge.  Immediate action must meaningfully adjust imports to restore healthy levels of capacity utilization and profitability to the domestic industry over a sustained period.”

The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), an industry trade group, reported on Wednesday that total steel imports through July this year were up 22 percent from the same period a year ago, with imports taking 28 percent of the U.S.  market.

In the letter, Steel company executives from Nucor Corp., U.S.  Steel, ArcelorMittal and Commercial Metals Co. said the sustained surge of steel imports into the United States had “hollowed out” much of the domestic steel industry and was threatening its ability to meet national security needs.

“Your leadership in finding a solution to the crisis facing the steel industry is badly needed now. Only you can authorize actions that can solve this crisis and we are asking for your immediate assistance.”

The collateral damage to the many US producers that produce downstream steel products created by any across the board tariffs on steel imports makes it very difficult for the Administration to use a broad brush to fix the steel problem.  That is the problem with purely protectionist decisions.  They distort the US market and simply transfer the problems of the steel industry to other downstream industries.

But does that mean the US government should simply let the US Steel industry and other manufacturing industries die?  The election of Donald Trump indicates  politically that simply is not a viable option.

Although Joseph Schumpeter in his book Capitalism, Socialism and Demcracy coined the term “creative destructionism”, which conservatives and libertarians love to quote, they do not acknowledge the real premise of Schumpeter’s book that capitalism by itself could not long survive.  Schumpeter himself observed the collateral damage created by pure capitalism.

So what can be done for the steel and other manufacturing industries?  Answer work with the companies on an individual basis to help them adjust to import competition and compete in the markets as they exist today.  Moreover, there is already a government program, which can serve as a model to provide such a service—the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies Program.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Moreover, the Federal government saves money because if the company is saved, the jobs are saved and there are fewer workers to retrain and the saved company and workers end up paying taxes at all levels of government rather than being a drain on the Treasury.  To retrain the worker for a new job, the average cost per job is $5,000.  To save the company and the jobs that go with it in the TAA for Companies program, the average cost per job is $1,000.

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

But TAA for Companies has been cut to the bone.  On August 22, 2017, in the attached press release, US Commerce Department Announces $13.3 Million to Boost Competitiveness of US Ma, the U.S. Commerce Department announced $13.3 Million to Boost Competitiveness of U.S. Manufacturers.  The press release specifically stated:

“WASHINGTON – U.S. Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross today announced $13.3 million in U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) grants to support 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers (TAACs) in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, and Washington that help manufacturers affected by imports adjust to increasing global competition and create jobs.

“The Trump administration is working every day to help America’s manufacturers, their workers, and their communities,” said Secretary Ross. “This funding is one element of a government-wide effort to restore American jobs and strengthen U.S. manufacturing.”

The 11 grants include:

$1.7 million to the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, for the Great Lakes Trade Adjustment Assistance Center

$1.2 million to the Mid-Atlantic Employers’ Association, King of Prussia, Pennsylvania, for the Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance  Center

$978,000 to the New England Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, Inc., North Billerica, Massachusetts

$1.1 million to the Research Foundation, State University of New York Binghamton, for the New York, New Jersey and Puerto Rico Trade Adjustment Assistance Center

$1.2 million to the University of Colorado at Boulder for the Rocky Mountain Trade Adjustment Assistance Center . . .

$1 million to the University of Missouri–Columbia for the Mid-America Trade Adjustment Assistance Center …

$1.2 million to the Trade Task Group, Seattle, Washington, for the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center…

EDA’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms program funds 11 Trade Adjustment Assistance Centers across the nation. The centers support a wide range of technical, planning, and business recovery projects that help companies and the communities that depend on them adapt to international competition and diversify their economies.  . . .

The mission of the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) is to lead the federal economic development agenda by promoting competitiveness and preparing the nation’s regions for growth and success in the worldwide economy.”  . . .

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

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

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

In the attached article entitled “Steel Competitiveness Seriously?”, Steel Competitiveness, William J. Bujalos, the head of the Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center,  makes the proposal to expand the program to help large manufacturing companies, including steel producers.  Mr. Bujalos states:

“Current reports suggest that the nation’s steel industry is experiencing a rebound – a rebound driven by a growing collective confidence about America’s economic future.

That’s all good but irrelevant because confidence is not a strategy for growing the nation’s global competitiveness. What is relevant is the extent to which our companies are able to grow other much more important things, like metrics critical to their competitive success. Do that and the power of any confidence index won’t matter.

Let me explain. Since 1998 I have been leading the nation’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms (TAAF) program in the Mid-Atlantic region. My business experience during the last 50 years has yielded insight into the kinds of things that have the highest probability for success at reversing an enterprise’s negative fortunes irrespective of the competitive battlespace that they’ve chosen to play in. Prior lives involved corporate management in both private and public sectors (large and small companies) in a wide variety of markets that included: management consulting, chemicals, plastics, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, automotive systems, battery tech and steel – and I’ve learned that there are some things that are universal …

For example, I’m a believer that, for businesses of all stripes, there is only one true asset to be quantified and listed on the Balance Sheet – knowledge. Nothing else really matters at the end of the day. And the overarching value of TAAF is that it is this nation’s singularly effective business model that injects it directly into a company’s bloodstream over an extended period of time, i.e. half a decade. That sort of holistic, long-term approach yields the biggest chance for success because it has a high probability of permanently upgrading a company’s core DNA.

In my view steel companies don’t operate in markets that are fundamentally any different from markets in general. No markets are forgiving. No customer base is loyal. Some players don’t play fair. No amount of investment is worth it if indigenous leadership is of poor quality. So as a direct consequence, all companies that are serious about permanently enhancing their global competitiveness must achieve mastery over stuff like: competitive intelligence, customer intelligence, market dynamics intelligence, costs/managerial finance, talent/leadership development, product development, planning effectiveness, etc., etc., etc.

In other words: it’s the knowledge stuff that’s critical and little else. And in my humble opinion, focusing the attributes that TAAF brings to the table on that industry on a larger scale would yield stunning results.

The TAAF business model places its nationwide network of Trade Adjustment Centers (i.e. TAACs) in the unique position of being the right catalyst at the right place at the right time. Does it always work? Certainly not. What does? But it works better than just about anything else in America’s tool kit. It is unique. And here’s the kicker, we don’t ask for equity. On behalf of the American taxpayer we simply insist on pure, unadulterated, robust, and relentless commitment from the Chief Executive Officer down to the shop floor. Absent that? Well, it’s unfortunate but some companies probably should fail.

This approach really works, without costing a great deal of money or causing economic disruption while at the same time providing our political establishment the cover it needs to smooth passage of critical treaties – and, because a company must match our injection dollar-for-dollar throughout the process, the American taxpayer is assured of management’s total and focused commitment for one simple reason … they share in the risk!

Bottom line? The long-term holistic approach is effective. The business model, stipulating unique strategies addressing each company’s unique circumstances, is effective. The program’s neutral economic impact is effective. It’s ability to support passage of trade agreements while not impeding the benefits of free trade is effective. It’s ability to lessen the costs associated with the engagement of outside expertise to reengineer critical business processes is effective.

And I firmly believe that it’s application is not limited to America’s smallest makers – only its funding is. For several decades that’s been little more than an afterthought.

Consider …

  • All manufacturing companies were at one time small ones.
  • All manufacturing companies are impacted by globalization.
  • Small ones need outside expertise to teach them basic stuff.
  • Larger ones need outside expertise to teach them sophisticated stuff.
  • Small makers, because they’re learning the basics and have little resources to tap, take a longer time to turn the corner.
  • Larger makers, because the basics are already inculcated and they have the requisite resources at hand, can turn the corner at much higher speed.
  • And if you were the Chief Executive of a tier-one domestic manufacturer, would you doubt for a minute –
    • That your supply chain probably has several thousand companies in it?
    • That extensive improvement in their performance would have a significantly positive impact on your performance?
  • Improvement in the performance of the small cohort will increase the probability that fewer will fail because a greater proportion will grow into larger ones – driving concomitant growth in good-paying manufacturing jobs and the creation of wealth. Go ahead. Beat that with a stick!”

For those who would simply dismiss the idea as impossible and too simplistic, watch the video.  The program works.  See http://mataac.org/howitworks/.

TRUMP AND CHINA

SECTION 301 CASE AGAINST CHINA ON FORCED TECHNOLOGY TRANSFERS MOVES FORWARD

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

The notice states that the USTR will specifically investigate the following specific types of conduct:

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

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

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

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

The United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) will hold a hearing on October 10th at the International Trade Commission and public comments are to be submitted by September 28th.

In an August 30, 2017 article by Dan Harris, who heads my law firm, on his China law blog at http://www.chinalawblog.com/2017/08/china-us-trade-wars-and-the-ip-elephant-in-the-room.html, entitled “China-US Trade Wars and the IP Elephant in the Room”, Dan states that in over one hundred negotiations with Chinese companies, he has not seem the Chinese government demand IP rights.  What he has seen is bad negotiating:

“I have been called by reporters at least a half dozen times in the last couple of weeks regarding the Trump Administration’s planned investigation of China’s IP practices. But what I tell these reporters fits so badly with THE narrative that my name is not showing up in print. Sorry, but I can’t help it.

Here’s the situation. The Trump Administration is claiming that China’s government forces American companies to relinquish its IP to China and my problem is that despite my firm having worked on literally hundreds of China transactions that involve IP, I have very little proof of this. So no real story there.

Here though is the story as seen from my eyes and from the eyes of the China attorneys at my firm, readily conceding that we have not seen even close to everything.

We have never been involved in a China transaction where it has been clear to us that the Chinese government has forced our client to relinquish its IP to China. We have though been involved in a million transactions where the Chinese party on the other side — sometimes a State Owned Entity, but way more often not — has vigorously and aggressively sought to get our client to part with its IP for a very low price. Is the Chinese government behind this sort of pressure? Don’t know? Probably sometimes, but probably most of the time not. If the transaction involves rubber duckies, we can assume not. If it involves next generation computer chips, well that is probably a very different story.

Anyway, as we write on here so often, there are many terrible technology transfer and other sorts of IP deals to be had with Chinese companies and we have too often — even against our China attorneys’ clear counsel to our clients not to do it — seen our clients make bad deals that will involve them turning over their IP with little to no chance of receiving full value for it. But these companies have not been forced, not in the sense that any government was forcing them to do anything. These companies were simply willing to take huge risks either because they could not grasp the risks or because they felt they had no other choice for financial reasons.

In Three Myths of China Technology Transfers, we wrote about how our clients all too often forge ahead with bad deals and why, and we nowhere mention government compulsion:

A Chinese company that intends to violate a licensing agreement and run off with the foreign company’s IP will usually have a very clear plan. What the China lawyers in my office call the Standard Plan works as follows. First, the Chinese company will negotiate in a way that guarantees a weak license that cannot be enforced against them by the foreign party. The tricks used to do this are quite standardized. Second, the Chinese company will ensure that it does not make any (or else it makes very few) payments until after it has already received the technology. If the Chinese company makes any payment at all, it will make a minimal number of payments, usually late and in violation of the agreement and then once it has received enough of the technology it seeks, it will cease making any payments entirely.

When our China attorneys encounter a Chinese company clearly working on the Standard Plan, we warn our clients. However, it is also typical for our clients to nonetheless want to forge on ahead. The client will usually explain how their situation is unique and that means the Chinese could not possibly be planning to breach.

We discuss again in China Technology Transfers: The Relationship and Deal Structure Myths how it is that American companies lose their IP to Chinese companies and we again leave out government force:

Due to a partnership relationship, the foreign side often wrongly believes it is somehow better protected against IP theft. The foreign side then lets down its guard, only to learn that its China partner has appropriated its core technology. This sense of partnership is most common with SMEs and technology startups, especially those companies whose owner is directly involved in the relationship with the Chinese entity.

In China and The Internet of Things and How to Destroy Your Own Company I rant about technology companies that literally destroy themselves by failing to do enough to protect their IP from China:

Well for what it is worth, I will no longer describe technology companies as a whole as our dumbest clients when it comes to China. No, that honor now clearly belongs to a subset of technology companies: Internet of Things companies. And mind you, we love, love, love Internet of Things companies. For proof of this, just go to our recent post, China and the Internet of Things: A Love Story. Internet of Things (a/k/a IoT) companies are sprouting all over the place and they are booming. Most importantly for us, they need a ton of legal work because just about all IoT products are being made in China, more particularly, in Shenzhen. And just about all IoT products need a ton of complicated IP assistance.

So then why am I saying they are so dumb about China? Because they are relinquishing their intellectual property to Chinese companies more often, more wantonly, and more destructively than companies in any other industry I (or any of my firm’s other Chinese lawyers) have ever seen. Ever. And by a stunningly wide margin.

I then list out the following as “my prime example, taken from at least a half dozen real life examples in just the last few months”:

IoT Company: We just completed our Kickstarter (sometimes Indiegogo) campaign and we totally killed it and so now we are ready to get serious about protecting our IP in China.

One of our China Lawyers: Great. Where are you right now with China?

IoT Company: We have been working with a great company in Shenzhen. Together we are working on wrapping up the product and it should be ready in a few months.

China Lawyer: Okay. Do you have any sort of agreement with this Chinese company regarding your IP or production costs or anything else?

IoT Company: We have an MOU (Memorandum of Understanding) that talks about how we will cooperate. They’ve really been great. They have told us that they would enter into a contract with us whenever we are ready.

China Lawyer: Can you please send us the MOU? Have you talked about what that contract will say?

IoT Company: Sure, we can send the MOU. It’s one page. No, we haven’t really talked much beyond just what we need to do to get the product completed.

China Lawyer: Okay, we will look at your MOU and then get back to you with our thoughts.

Then, a day or two later we a conversation like the following ensues:

China Lawyer: We looked at your “MOU” and we have bad news for you. We think there is a very good chance a Chinese court would view that MOU as a contract. (For why we say this, check out Beware Of Being Burned By The China MOU/LOI) And the Chinese language portion of the MOU — which is all that a Chinese court will be considering — is very different from the English language portion. The Chinese language portion says that any IP the two of you develop (the IoT company and the Chinese manufacturer) belongs to the Chinese company. So what we see is that as things now stand, there is a very good chance the Chinese company owns your IP. This being the case, there is no point in our writing a Product Development Agreement because your Chinese manufacturer is not going to sign that.

IoT Company: (And I swear we get this sort of response at least 90 percent of the time) I’m not worried. I think you have it wrong. I’m sure that they will sign such an agreement because we orally agreed on this before we even started the project.

China Lawyer: That’s fine, but I still think it makes sense for you to at least make sure that the Chinese company will sign a new contract making clear that the IP associated with your product belongs to you, because if they won’t sign something that says that, there is no point in our drafting such a contract and, most importantly, there is no point in your paying us to do so.

So far not a single such IoT company has been able to come back to us with an agreement from their Chinese manufacturer to sign.

Again, no government force, just an overzealous and insufficiently careful foreign company.

Now before anyone excoriates me for ignoring reality, let me say that I have read about instances where the Chinese government has “forced” foreign companies to turn over their IP to China; high speed rail is an often cited example of that. And I do not doubt that it happens in critical industries (nuclear power would be another example). And I am also not unaware of how China is increasingly forcing foreign companies to store their data in China, which absolutely puts technology at risk. But even in these instances the foreign company has some choice. Not good choices, I know. And arguably it is no choice at all when the decision is between doing business in China or not. The last thing I want to do is get all philosophical on anyone regarding what constitutes choice so I will leave it to our individual readers to determine for themselves where on the continuum of force and choice they want to put any and all of the above.

There is plenty to complain about how China protects IP and there is plenty to complain about how China protects foreign companies that do business in China or with China, but I am just not sure complaining about forced IP transfers goes at the top of that list for most American companies. When I talk with American and European and Australian companies about China their biggest legal complaint is invariably how expensive it is for them to comply with China laws and how they resent that their Chinese competitors generally are not held to the same legal standards.

A couple of years ago, I gave the following testimony before The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission of the United States Congress:

I was introduced as an expert, and I’d like to qualify that by saying do not think of myself as an expert. I am just a private practice lawyer who represents American and Australian companies and some European and Canadian companies as well in China.

I’m going to tell you a little bit about what we do so you can get a little bit better perspective of where I’m coming from on this. The bulk of my firms’ clients are small and medium-size businesses, mostly American businesses, but some European and Australian and Canadian businesses as well. Most of them have revenues between 100 million and a billion a year. Our clients are mostly tech companies, manufacturing companies and service businesses.

About 20 percent of our work is for companies in the movie and entertainment industry. We have some clients in highly-regulated industries, like health care, senior care, banking, insurance, finance, telecom and mining, but those companies make up less than ten percent of our client base.

Most of the China work we do for our clients is relatively routine. We help them register as companies in China. We register their trademarks and copyrights in China. We draft their contracts with Chinese companies. We help them with their employment, tax and customs matters. We oversee their litigation in China, and we represent them in arbitrations in China. We help them buy Chinese companies.

For our clients, the big anti-foreign issue is whether they will be allowed to conduct business at all in China as that is certainly not always a given. Certain industries in China are shut off or limited to foreign businesses acting alone. For our clients, publishing and movies are most prominent.

Essentially anything that might allow for nongovernmental communication to or between Chinese citizens is problematic, but it is not clear to me that these limitations are intended to be anti-foreign, as China does not really want any private entities, foreign or Chinese, engaging in these activities without strict governmental oversight.

So do these limits against foreign companies arise from anti-foreign bias or just the Chinese government’s belief that it can better control Chinese companies? To our clients, that distinction doesn’t matter.

On day-to-day legal matters, our clients are almost invariably treated pursuant to law, and so long as they abide by the law, they seldom have any problems. The problem for our clients isn’t so much how the Chinese government treats them; it’s how they are treated as compared to their Chinese competitors who are less likely to abide by the laws and more likely to get away with it.

I have no statistics on this. I doubt there are any statistics on this, but I see it and I hear it all the time.

I see it when one of our clients buys a Chinese business that has half of its employees off the grid and has facilities that are not even close to being in compliance with use laws, and I know foreign companies cannot get away with that.

And I hear it from Chinese employees of our clients who insist that there is no need for our clients to follow various laws. They insist there is no need to follow various laws and to do so is stupid. Is this disparity due to anti-foreign bias or is it due to corruption? Again, for our clients, the answer is irrelevant.

Is the Trump administration’s IP investigation a negotiating ploy done as much to get at disparate treatment as it is to get at forced technology transfers? I do not think it is, but some who know more about such things tell me it may be.

CNN was the only one of the media companies that both interviewed me on the above issues and ended up quoting me and I like how it handled the issue in its article, President Trump is set to crank up the pressure on China over trade:

Beijing has other ways of getting its hands on valuable commercial information. Officials often insist on taking a close look at technology that foreign companies want to sell in China.

“Chinese government authorities jeopardize the value of trade secrets by demanding unnecessary disclosure of confidential information for product approvals,” the American Chamber of Commerce in China said in a report published in April.

Some experts say that handing over technology has effectively become a cost of doing business in China — a market too big for most companies to ignore.

“Many Chinese companies go after technology hard and the tactics they use show up again and again, leading us to believe there is some force (the government?) teaching them how to do these things,” said Dan Harris, a Seattle-based attorney who advises international companies on doing business in China.

“The thing is that the foreign companies that give up their technology usually do so at least somewhat of their own volition,” he told CNNMoney. “Yes, maybe they need to do so to get into China, but they also have the choice not to go into China, right?”

Closing the stable door?

Other analysts say that the U.S. administration is coming to the problem too late.

“Intellectual property (IP) theft is yesterday’s issue,” wrote Lewis of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“In part because of past technology transfer and in part because of heavy, sustained government investment in science and research, China has developed its own innovative capabilities,” he wrote.

“Creating new IP in the United States is more important than keeping IP from China.”

These are really complicated issues and I realize the above is more of a stream of consciousness “thoughts dump” than a coherent position paper. So more than ever, I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.”

Dan’s point is that it is often bad negotiating tactics by the US side that leads to companies giving away their technology, not Chinese government pressure.

On August 15th, Investors Business Daily speculated that “Trump’s Trade War With China Is War On North Korea By Other Means” stating:

“But they [the Chinese government] may have underestimated Trump: He has the will, and likely the political support, for an even-more damaging war with China over trade. With the U.S. China’s largest market — in 2016, U.S. imports from China totaled nearly half a trillion dollars — a trade war is a serious threat to China, which is already showing signs of economic slowing.

That’s what’s behind Trump’s sudden decision to investigate China’s rampant theft of U.S. intellectual property. And on trade grounds only, Trump is right to investigate this, since it’s enshrined in both U.S. law and international trade treaties that egregious trade violations warrant retaliatory actions if the violations aren’t fixed.

The U.S. has been jawboning China on this for years, to no effect. China for years has seen the U.S. as a paper tiger, too feckless to act on its own behalf. Now, Trump is showing it otherwise. . .

Once again, Trump the savvy business negotiator seems to know his foe’s weak points.

Perhaps hoping to stall Trump’s trade action, China announced that it would cease North Korean imports of coal, iron and lead, and seafood, starting Sept. 5, in keeping with U.N. sanctions imposed on Kim Jong Un’s regime.

In a joint statement Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and National Security Advisor Gen. James Mattis made explicit the link between China, trade and North Korea: “China is North Korea’s neighbor, sole treaty ally and main commercial partner,” they wrote. “Chinese entities are, in one way or another, involved with roughly 90% of North Korean trade. This affords China an unparalleled opportunity to assert its influence with the regime.”

The clear message: If you support North Korea’s regime economically, we’ll hurt you economically in return. It’s a Trumpian twist on Von Clausewitz’s famous dictum about war and politics: “(A trade) war is the continuation of politics by other means.”

As we’ve said before, we take a back seat to no one in advocating on behalf of free trade. But when one side routinely and systematically steals hundreds of billions of dollars worth of intellectual property, that’s no longer free trade. It’s piracy. . . .

North Korea’s nuclear blackmail, aided by China’s patronage, is not acceptable. If it takes trade sanctions to get China’s diplomatic attention, so be it. It’s time that China’s charade over its support of North Korea comes to an end.”

On August 8th, in an article entitled “Second Thoughts on Trade with China” William Galston for the Wall Street Journal stated:

“It is China’s techno-nationalism that poses the greatest threat to our future. In 2006 the Chinese government adopted a long-term plan to promote what it called “indigenous innovation.” As James McGregor, a leading expert on the Chinese economy, writes, China’s leading-edge firms were directed to obtain technology from their multinational partners through “co-innovation and re-innovation based on the assimilation of imported technologies.”

In practice, this meant giving American firms an offer Don Corleone would have recognized—either to “share their technologies with Chinese competitors—or refuse and miss out on the world’s fastest-growing market.” China’s ultimate goal is to use forced technology transfer to replace the U.S. as the world’s leading economy. . . .

Existing legal tools may not suffice to end these discriminatory practices. Although the WTO prohibits mandatory technology transfers, the Chinese government’s position is that trading technology for market access is purely a business decision. Protectionist government purchases are a key part of China’s strategy. . . .

If turning over our technological crown jewels to a foreign power is against the national interest, then our government should have the power to prevent it. But wielding this power without blowing up the international trade regime will not be easy.”

On August 21st, in an editorial entitled “Yes, China Steals U.S. Intellectual Property, But That Doesn’t Mean Trade With China Is A Bad Thing” Investors Business Daily tempered its initial response on the Section 301 case stating:

“Everyone is angry at China right now, and perhaps with good reason. China’s regime often bends trade rules to its own needs, and breaks them or ignores them when it’s convenient. . . .

The U.S. shouldn’t tolerate cheating on trade, by China or anyone else. It’s a matter of jobs and income for Americans and the companies that employ them.

Even so, that doesn’t mean everything China has done has been bad for the U.S. Far from it.

A new study, ” How Did China’s WTO Entry Benefit U.S. Consumers?” from the prestigious National Bureau of Economic Research, shows why. It notes that from the time China joined the World Trade Organization in 2000 to 2006, the U.S. inflation index for factory goods fell an estimated 7.6%.

This might not sound like a lot, but it is. “The resulting savings were large,” the study says. “U.S. manufacturing sector production was valued at $4.5 trillion in 2014, so if prices had been 7.6% higher, that production would have cost $340 billion more.”

That is, profits for U.S. firms were likely billions of dollars higher over that six-year period than otherwise. And prices to American consumers fell.

How did this happen? The simple answer is freer trade. China cut its average tariff on manufacturing inputs from 15% in 2000 to 9% in 2006, a 40% reduction. Meanwhile, China’s government lifted export limits on its domestic companies, got rid of capital requirements, eased restrictions on foreign investment, raised its limits on textile exports and lowered the number of goods that required import licenses.

The result: China’s factory exports to the U.S. surged 290% from 2000 to 2006.

According to the study, “69% of the growth was driven by new exporters offering a widening variety of products, while 16% was created by incumbent firms exporting new products.”

The lower tariffs and other reductions in trade restrictions led to a Chinese   productivity boom, with an average 10% per year gain in productivity for Chinese companies that exported to the U.S. As for the price of U.S. manufactured goods, about two-thirds of the 7.6% reduction in factory prices here was due to China’s tariff cuts.

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

For its part, China’s communist    government in the  early  2000s  found   that taking  its hands off  the economy’s windpipe and engaging with the rest of the world through trade was  an  effective  strategy for making its economy grow. We  also  benefited  from that.

Now the Trump administration is warning an increasingly hostile China that its recent trade violations aren’t acceptable. China, in response, has blasted the U.S. for its “protectionism.”

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

In early 2000, China’s brilliant economic guru Premier Zhu Rongyi believed that China should join the WTO, not for the benefit of the United States or Europe, but for the benefit of China.  Premier Zhu realized that China would benefit from free trade by breaking down its own protectionist walls, which isolated China from the rest of the World.

It is somewhat ironic that the United States is apparently moving in the opposite direction, building protectionist walls to protect its companies from foreign competition.  Many US politicians have fallen into the trap of international trade victimhood because they simply do not understand the benefits of free trade to the United States.

SECTION 201 SOLAR CELLS CASE

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

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

Prehearing briefs and posthearing briefs have been filed at the ITC and the ITC hearing was held on August 15th and was reportedly 11 hours long.

If the ITC reaches an affirmative determination, it will go into a remedy phase and the hearing in that phase will be on October 3, 2017. Attached is the ITC public prehearing staff report, 2017.08.01 ITC Solar 201 Prehearing Report PUB.

The Staff Report shows that imports are up, value of imports are down, but US producers’ production and capacity have increased during the period of investigation 2012-2016.  Moreover, US producers’ profits and sales have increased in the period.  This is a very mixed staff report with no clear trends and could lead to a negative ITC injury determination on September 22nd.

Meanwhile, sixteen US senators have urged the ITC to consider how the increased tariffs on foreign solar cells could hurt the broader domestic solar industry. The letter specifically stated:

“We respectfully request that the commission carefully consider the potential negative impact that the high tariffs and minimum prices requested would have on the tens of thousands of solar workers in our states and on the hundreds of companies that employ them.”

The letter was signed by Senators: Heinrich (D-N.M.), Tillis (R-N.C.), Bennet (D- Colo.), Feinstein (D-Calif.), Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Perdue (R-Ga.), Gardner (R-Colo.), Heller (R-Nev.), Van Hollen (D-Md.), Moran (R- Kan.), Scott (R-S.C.), Cardin (D-Md.), King (I-Maine), Collins (R-Maine), Markey (D-Mass.) and Cortez Masto (D-Nev.).

ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CIRCUMVENTION

On July 26, 2017, in the attached memorandum, prc-aluminum-extrusions-ar-072617, the Commerce Department published in the Federal Register a notice of affirmative final determination of circumvention of the antidumping and countervailing duty orders on aluminum extrusions from the People’s Republic of China. The Department determined that heat-treated extruded aluminum products that meet the chemical specifications for 5050 grade aluminum alloy, regardless of producer, exporter, or importer, constitute later-developed merchandise, are circumventing the orders.

As a result of the Department’s anti-circumvention determination, all heat-treated extruded aluminum products from the People’s Republic of China that meet the chemical specifications for 5050 grade aluminum alloy are considered to be in-scope merchandise and must be included in responses to the Department’s questionnaires.

FALSE CLAIMS ACT—FURNITURE

In a previous blog post,  I mentioned that the real hammer against transshipment of products to evade trade orders is not recent legislation from Congress, but the False Claims Act.  Under the False Claims Act, private parties can file suits in Federal District Court alleging fraud on the US government because of foreign exporters and US importers decision to use transshipment and other methods to evade US antidumping and countervailing duties.  Under the FCA, the relator can look back at 10 years of past imports and the antidumping duties in question can be over 100, 200 or even 300%.  Under the FCA the remedy is triple damages and when looking at imports over such a long period of time, the remedy can result in enormous payouts.

The private party files an FCA complaint as a relator on behalf of the US government.  The US government then decides whether or not to intervene in the case.  If the US government chooses to intervene, the relator is entitled to 15 to 25% of the recovery of the US government.  In one small FCA case here in Washington regarding medical bills, a clerk at a hospital received a payout of $2 to 3 million so anyone can be a relator.

More on point, In an intervention complaint, US GOVT INTERVENTION BLUE FURNITURE CASE, the US government intervened in a False Claims Act filed against evasion of millions of dollars in antidumping duties on imports of wooden bedroom furniture from China.

The lawsuit brought by University Loft Co., an Indiana-based wooden bedroom furniture company, accuses Florida-based Blue Furniture Solutions LLC, founder and president and its chief financial officer  of importing wooden bedroom furniture from China without paying the 216.01 percent anti-dumping rate by making false statements to U.S. Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”).

In doing so, Blue Furniture escaped paying millions of dollars in duties and fees owed to the federal government from 2011 through 2015, the suit says.

The complaint states:

“To avoid the payment of anti-dumping duties and fees, defendants conspired with their Chinese manufacturers and exporters to fraudulently avoid customs duties and underpay fees owed to the United States by making false representations in entry documents about the nature and value of the imported merchandise.”

Specifically, the complaint states that Blue Furniture falsely identified its entries to Customs and Border Protection with codes and descriptions for merchandise that are not subject to antidumping duties.  But the complaint states that many of the wooden chests, dressers, nightstands, wardrobes and many of the beds imported were subject to antidumping duties.

In addition, the FCA complaint accuses the Florida-based company of instructing its China-based manufacturers and exporters how to mislabel and misclassify the merchandise on documents to be shown to CBP.

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

STAINLESS STEEL FLANGES FROM CHINA

On August 16, 2017, the Coalition of American Flange Producers and its individual members, Core Pipe Products, Inc., and Maass Flange Corporation filed new antidumping and countervailing duty cases against imports of Stainless Steel Flanges from China and India.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law. Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.30 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.32 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.33.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

WI-FI ENABLED ELECTRONIC DEVICES

On August 29, 2017, Sharp Corporation and Sharp Electronics Corporation filed a section 337 case against imports of Wi-Fi Enabled Electronic Devices.  The respondent companies named in the complaint are:

Hisense Co., Ltd., China; Hisense Electronic, Co., Ltd., China; Hisense International (Hong Kong) Co. Ltd., Hong Kong; Hisense USA Corporation, Suwanee, Georgia; Hisense Electronics Manufacturing Company of America Corporation, Suwanee, Georgia; Hisense USA Multimedia R&D Center, Inc., Suwanee, Georgia; and Hisense Inc., Huntington Beach, California.

If you have any questions about these cases or about Trump and Trade, including the impact on agriculture, the impact on downstream industries, the Section 232 and 301 cases, the 201 case against Solar Cells, US trade policy, the antidumping or countervailing duty law, trade adjustment assistance, customs, False Claims Act or 337 IP/patent law, please feel free to contact me.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–TRUMP REAGAN TRADE DIFFERENCE SECTION 232 STEEL USERS 201 SOLAR NEW TRADE CASES BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES NAFTA

TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR JUNE 16, 2017

Dear Friends,

Trump’s trade war on downstream industries continues with exhibit number 1 being the Section 232 Steel case.  As indicated below, numerous comments were filed May 31st by downstream steel users saying that tariffs on steel imports will devastate their business and cost millions of jobs.

But the question is whether anyone is listening.  Commerce is rushing to turn out the Section 232 report by the end of June.  But it has received numerous comments, but many of those comments are only a few pages long.  The hearing itself limited testimony from each company to 10 minutes each.

When the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) conducts a injury investigation in steel cases, it sends out numerous multiple page questionnaires to US Steel Producers, US importers, foreign producers and even US purchasers.  In addition to those questionnaire responses, it will often have prehearing and posthearing briefs that are many pages long.  In the recent Cold-Drawn Mechanical Tubing case, for example, we filed a brief that was over 200 pages long.

Now all Commerce Secretary Ross will have is the arguments of the US Steel industry and no in depth data regarding what the impact of these trade restraints will have on downstream users.

Moreover, there is a rush to judgement in the Section 232 cases.  In the ongoing Solar Cells section 201 case, which is comparable to the Section 232 case, the ITC will take 6 months to make its injury determination, 2 months to make a remedy determination.  The ITC will hold two hearings, send out numerous questionnaires and large briefs will be filed.  Not in the Section 232 case, which is only 2 months long.

Although the Section 232 Steel report is due at the end of June, President Trump is stating that the Aluminum Section 232 Steel report should come out at the end of June when the hearing is on June 22nd and comments are not due to June 30.  This is truly a rush to judgement without due regard to the impact on downstream users.

As indicated below, on trade President Trump and President Ronald Reagan are diametric opposites, and Reagan understood that protecting one industry hurts other industries.

Meanwhile, new antidumping and countervailing duty cases have been filed against Fine Denier Polyester Staple Fiber and Citric Acid and ITC and Commerce deadlines are very, very strict.  Also Commerce has ruled Aluminum Pallets are in the Aluminum Extrusions case.

The Section 201 case against imports of solar cells from every country continues.  Border Adjustment taxes are still an issue and NAFTA negotiations will start up, but Trump has told Lighthizer to do no harm to agriculture, which is going to be difficult to pull off.

Again, maybe this is why Trade Adjustment Assistance to Companies is so important.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR

Trump’s trade war continues as downstream steel user industries finally wake up to the damage they could face.  In the Section 232 case, on May 31st, numerous downstream industries from automobiles, equipment manufacturers, forging industry, industrial fasteners, motor and equipment manufacturers, electrical machinery manufacturers, transformers, heavy trucks, and other companies that use steel products filed short public comments stating cutting off their steel raw materials would devastate their companies.

But Trump himself cannot wait to impose tariffs.  On June 8, 2017, Politico reported that:

President Donald Trump appears to be champing at the bit to impose steel import restrictions under a national security probe being conducted by the Commerce Department. In a speech Wednesday in Cincinnati, Trump indicated major action was coming quickly and that it could affect countries besides China, which is often blamed for creating a global steel glut.

“Wait until you see what I’m going to do for steel and for your steel companies,” Trump said. “We’re going to stop the dumping, and stop all of these wonderful other countries from coming in and killing our companies and our workers. You’ll be seeing that very soon. The steel folks are going to be very happy.”

But big US steel consumers, like machinery, auto, energy, including oil and natural gas, are not going to be happy and are extremely worried that Trump’s trade action will damage their US industries and cause companies to close costing millions of jobs.  In Trump’s desire to move quickly to protect the steel industry, he could well damage many other US industries in the process.  This has happened before and likely will happen again.

As the National Foreign Trade Council, which represents more than 200 companies, stated in its public 232 comments filed at the Commerce Department on May 31, 2017:

In considering whether to impose restrictions on steel imports for national security reasons, it is important to keep in mind two important facts about those industries that rely on steel as a key input to their production. First, steel-consuming companies producing goods in the U.S. account for a vastly greater share of total manufacturing output and employment than does the domestic steel industry itself. The U.S.- based auto and auto parts industry employs over 800,000 production workers, more than four times as many as are employed by U.S. steel producers. The construction industry, which accounts for a majority of all steel consumption, employs nearly 8 million production workers. Many other steel-consuming sectors have larger employment than the steel sector.

Secondly, many steel-consuming companies are also major suppliers for our nation’s defense-related needs, building the ships, aircraft, machinery, high technology weapons and other goods that a modern military demands. Therefore, these downstream industries are critical to the U.S. industrial capacity and the nation’s security is weakened if the production capacity of these industries is curtailed.  Because of these two factors – employment effects and national security needs – it is of utmost importance to weigh carefully the potential effects of higher steel tariffs or restrictive quotas on these steel-consuming sectors.

On June 14th Politico reported that Congress is now getting concerned about the impact of the Section 232 case and that Trump administration officials will hold staff-level briefings with the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means committees on June 16th to lay out the context and process for an investigation into the national security threats of steel imports

Apparently, Commerce Department officials are still debating what products should be covered and from where.  One question is whether semi- finished steel, imported and fabricated into various products, should be exempt.

The big question still at issue — what is the magnitude of the national security concern? Disagreement among top White House officials could be partly to blame for slowing the report. Some in the Trump administration see the threat extending all the way to steel used in infrastructure projects while others see it limited strictly to steel used in the defense-industrial base.

Another question is whether to give a pass to steel imports from Canada and Mexico under certain circumstances.  There’s also statutory authority for treating Canada as a defense partner, which could eliminate any consideration of imports from north of the border as a threat to national security.

Politico reports that the Commerce Department is expected to present three options to the President:

  • A 25 percent tariff that would apply to any steel imports that fall in the scope of the investigation. The tariff would also apply to all existing anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders.
  • A tariff-rate quota that would hit imports with a tariff once they exceed a certain volume. There is also discussion of an alternative that would apply tariffs if imports dip below a certain price, but there is concern that Commerce or USTR may not have the resources to set up a sophisticated system to monitor prices across a range of steel
  • A straight quota that would apply strict limits on imports of certain types of steel products from certain countries.

Politico also indicated another concern whether Commerce and USTR have the manpower to effectively implement and administer any of these trade actions? Sources said that concern is one element driving the debate over what specific trade action to take.

Chairman Kevin Brady of House Ways and Means also expressed his concern with the Section 232 case at The Wall Street Journal’s annual CFO conference, stating:

“Any administration has to be careful in its assessment and its implementation of those provisions.  Done incorrectly, it can send a very protectionist signal to other countries to do the same. It is a tool that has to be wielded very carefully.”

Chairman Brady should be concerned because of the strong possibility of retaliation.  As the US Wheat Associates stated in their May 31st comments to the Commerce Department:

Wheat is often viewed as an import sensitive industry in many countries that are export destinations for U.S. farmers. Before taking action under Section 232, the Department of Commerce should consider the fallout if other countries follow suit and impose restrictions on U.S. wheat or other products as a result of their own national security concerns, whether real or imagined.

U.S. Wheat Associates is extremely concerned about the potential ramifications of import protections based on national security arguments. Under the 1994 General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) Article XXI, national security can be a legitimate reason to restrict trade, but this has been rarely cited for very good reason: Article XXI is the Pandora’s Box of the GATT. If it is opened for our import sensitive industries, the results could be devastating.

Outside of a few obvious, generally uncontested areas, such as trade in weapons and nuclear material, most trade in goods are not considered national security issues because the implications are enormous. Steel and aluminum are undoubtedly import sensitive products. But the Department of Commerce should think very carefully about the potential consequences of declaring steel and aluminum imports to be national security concerns.

The U.S. wheat industry is highly dependent on exports, with roughly half of U.S. wheat production exported each year on average. .  . However, anytime a trade restriction is put in place, there is the potential for it to be applied to U.S. exports in response, particularly if trade restrictions are imposed outside the World Trade Organization (WTO) dispute settlement system. . . .

U.S. farmers also rely on international commitments made by countries in the WTO and other trade agreements to keep markets open. However, not every country abides by those rules, and a radical shift by the United States in its respect for trade commitments could give effective ammunition to those who seek to stop or slow food imports under the guise of national security. . . .

As indicated further below, when it comes to trade, people need to understand that Donald Trump and Ronald Regan are 180 degrees, diametrically opposite.  Reagan was a true free trade, but President Trump is a protectionist.  Although his protectionist rhetoric is probably a very good reason for his election victory, especially as it relates to trade agreements, such as TPP and NAFTA, the problem with protectionism is the collateral damage to other US industries.  When one wants to protect raw material industries very quickly with not enough time to consider the full impact of a protectionist action, the collateral damage on other US industries can truly be devastating.  The protectionist cure can be much worse than the trade disease.  Not only in Steel, but also aluminum.

TRUMP’S TRADE WAR ON DOWNSTREAM INDUSTRIES—SECTION 232 STEEL CASE

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

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

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

STEEL

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

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

Although Section 232 investigations usually take 6 months, at the hearing, Ross stated that a written report would go to the President by the end of June in less than two months.  At the start of the hearing, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said something has to be done to help the Steel producers.  In the past Secretary Ross has stated that the Section 232 case is meant to fill the gaps created by the patchwork of antidumping and countervailing duties on foreign steel, which he said have provided only limited relief to the U.S. industry.

On May 31, 2017, public comments were filed at the Commerce Department on the Section 232 Steel case.  These are some of the comments by the Downstream Steel Users.

AMERICAN AUTOMOTIVE POLICY COUNCIL (AAPC)

The AAPC represents the common public policy interests of its member companies – FCA US, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company, and states the following in its May 31st comments:

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

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

Inevitably, the imposition of across the board higher tariffs or other restrictions on imports of steel into the United States would only widen the existing price gap by increasing the price of U.S. steel and thus the cost of U.S.-built vehicles. Additionally, outside of the United States, the price of steel will fall further, giving foreign automakers an additional cost advantage over the U.S. auto industry.

As a result of such a Section 232 remedy, sales of domestically-built cars and trucks would fall, auto exports would shrink, and American auto sector jobs would be lost. In the end, this contraction could actually reduce the amount of U.S. steel consumed by U.S. automakers, jeopardizing the very industry the remedy was intended to assist. . . .

The U.S. automotive industry makes significant contributions to the U.S. economy, with FCA US, Ford Motor Company and General Motors Company representing the majority of the following 2016 economic contributions.

  • Directly employing/supporting more than 7.3 million American jobs- including manufacturers of auto parts, steel, glass, plastics, rubber and semi-conductors;
  • Exporting $137 billion in vehicles and parts, more than any other U.S. industry sector;
  • Manufacturing 12.2 million cars & trucks;
  • Representing 8% of the manufacturing sector’s contribution to GDP on a value added basis;
  • Investing $8 billion in U.S. plants/equipment, and nearly $20 billion in R&D; and
  • Selling a record 17.5 million cars and light

 The AAPC concludes:

While we strongly support the Administration’s focus on ensuring that our trading partners live up to their commitments and abide by their trade-related obligations, actions taken as a result of this Section 232 investigation to restrict imports of steel, in order to support the U.S. steel industry, could have unintended negative consequences for the domestic automotive industry and the millions of American workers it directly and indirectly employs.

Any such restrictions that this Administration might implement would lead to an increase in the price of U.S. steel and depress the price of steel in foreign markets. This would lead to lower sales of domestically-built cars and trucks in the highly competitive U.S. auto market, a decrease in U.S. auto exports, and a loss of the jobs that those economic activities support. In the end, that would be a net-negative for the U.S. economy, and potentially the U.S. steel industry – the very sector such restrictions were designed to assist.

ASSOCIATION OF EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS (“AEM”)

AEM Represents 950 member companies that manufacture equipment and provide services for the construction, agriculture, utilities and mining sectors worldwide.  These manufacturers represent 1.3 million Americans, contribute $159 billion to the U.S. economy and raise over $25 billion in federal and state taxes each year.  As AEM states in its comments:

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

Restricting the import of foreign steel will also ultimately have a very negative impact on the manufacturing competitiveness of the United States as domestic steel prices rise, and global steel prices fall when steel originally destined for the US enters global markets. With nearly 30 percent of equipment manufactured in the U.S. designated for export, U.S. manufactured exports will become uncompetitive in many global markets if manufacturers are forced to pay higher prices for necessary steel inputs. In addition, restricting raw material imports hurts American jobs by driving up the costs of value-added manufacturing in the U.S.  Furthermore, imported manufactured equipment will become much more competitive in the U.S. market as foreign manufacturers are able to produce and sell equipment at a much lower price by leveraging global steel markets.

CATO INSTITUTE—FORMER ITC COMMISSIONER DAN PEARSON

Former ITC Commissioner Dan Pearson presently at the Cato Institute made the following points:

First, the 232 investigation must be understood in the context of the existing U.S. steel marketplace. Roughly 200 antidumping or countervailing duty measures already are in place on steel products from a variety of countries. Steel currently is one of the most protected sectors in the U.S. economy.  . . .

Third, any further import restrictions would do far more harm to steel-using manufacturers than any benefit that could be provided to steel mills. That is simply due to the raw numbers. Steel mills employ just 140,000 workers.  Downstream manufacturers that use steel as an input employ 6.5 million, 46 times more. Steel mills account for a fairly small slice of the overall U.S. economy.  The $36 billion in economic value added by steel mills in 2015 equals only 0.2 percent of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP). By contrast, the economic value added by firms that use steel as an input was $1.04 trillion – 29 times more – or 5.8 percent of GDP.

Any government action to drive up steel prices by restricting imports will hurt steel-consuming manufacturers by artificially increasing their steel costs and reducing their competitiveness relative to companies overseas. It’s clear that the broad public would be harmed by additional steel import restrictions. A decline in U.S. economic welfare is not something the administration ought to pursue. It’s very difficult to have a stronger national defense when the economy is getting weaker.

FORGING INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION

The Forging Industry Association (FIA) is the Association representing the US forging industry.  The Comments state:

In 2016, custom forgings accounted for nearly $10.5 billion of sales in North America. An additional $3-5 billion in catalog and captive sales would bring the industry total for 2016 to the $13.5 – 15.5 billion range. The North American forging industry is comprised of nearly 500 forging operations in 38 states, Canada and Mexico, with the largest US presence of forging operations located in Ohio (79), Pennsylvania  (63), Illinois (54), Michigan (54), California (38), Texas (41), New York (16), Indiana (18), Wisconsin (17), Kentucky (13), Massachusetts (10), and South Carolina (9). . . .These operations provide more than 36,000 well-paid jobs and benefits.

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

US steel forgers rely almost exclusively on domestically-produced SBQ steel. SBQ is specialty steel long products made to customer specifications suited for forging into the final product. Because it is heavy, bulky and expensive to ship long distances, the forging industry depends upon a healthy, competitive domestic SBQ steel industry to provide necessary raw material at globally competitive prices for steel forging here in the U.S. The “globally competitive prices” are critically important – if the price for domestic SBQ steel is higher in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world due to tariffs or trade restrictions, then we begin to see less imports of raw material and more imports of downstream products.

The US steel forging industry relies heavily on 6 domestic SBQ steel producers with mills in multiple locations. SBQ steel imports accounted for 15% of the consumption in 2016, and domestic consumption was 4 million tons of SBQ steel, while SBQ imports totaled only 600,000 tons.  This import volume has remained relatively flat over the past few years. . . . Generally speaking, we do not believe the SBQ steel industry has been adversely affected by steel imports. The domestic SBQ steel market is currently running close to capacity, and producers recently announced substantial price increases.

While SBQ raw material import penetration has been relatively insignificant, the import of steel forgings has grown significantly and at an ever increasing rate, threatening the health and viability of the domestic steel forging industry.   . . .

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

INDUSTRIAL FASTENER INSTITUTE (“IFI”)

The IFI represents approximately 85% of fastener production capacity in North America, and there are few, if any, products used in the pursuit of national security that do not contain fasteners.

In its comments, the IFI stated:

In 2015, the U.S. fastener industry accounted for $13.4 billion (of a $69.6 billion global market), and is projected to grow +2.6% per year to roughly $15 billion by 2020. In the U.S., the fastener industry employs approximately 42,000 people at about 850 different manufacturing facilities.  . . ..

The fastener industry is critical to all segments of our manufacturing industrial base, including the defense industry.  .

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

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

No one disputes that unfair trade exists, and that trade remedy laws can be a useful tool to combat it when it occurs. However, while the trade remedy laws can provide some protection for domestic metals producers, they are a double-edged sword for downstream users such as fastener manufacturers, who may be negatively impacted by higher raw material costs and may not be able to fully utilize the trade remedy laws themselves. In particular, downstream users of products subject to trade remedies have no standing under U.S. law to participate in the process that may lead to the imposition of duties on those products.  In addition, these downstream users are likely to be smaller companies who do not have the financial resources to pursue trade cases, which can cost millions of dollars to fully prosecute.

The fastener industry has experienced this scenario many times, where efforts to protect a basic raw material segment of the economy create unintended consequences throughout the rest of the economy. The most recent example occurred in 2002, when President Bush, at the urging of the U.S. steel industry concerned about a surge of imports, imposed 30% tariffs on nearly all imported steel under a Global Safeguard action. The impact on steel consuming industries was immediate and devastating. The evidence of harm to the broad economy grew quickly, leading President Bush to terminate the Global Safeguard order after only eighteen months instead of the full three years, but by then 1.3 million manufacturing jobs in steel consuming and related industries had been lost.

The fastener industry not only understands the need to ensure that the U.S. has the necessary industrial capacity to provide for our national defense needs, we are a vital part of that very capacity. To be frank, steel is a commodity until somebody makes it into a part/end item. We are concerned that the proposed 232 investigation will not give proper consideration to the importance of downstream industries to that industrial capacity.

MOTOR & EQUIPMENT MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION (MEMA)

MEMA represents 1,000 vehicle suppliers that manufacture and remanufacture components and systems for use in passenger cars and heavy trucks providing original equipment (OE) to new vehicles as well as aftermarket parts to service, maintain and repair over 260 million vehicles on the road today. In its comments, the MEMA stated:

the total employment impact of the motor vehicle parts manufacturing industry is 4.26 million jobs. Nearly $435 billion in economic contribution to the U.S. GDP is generated by the motor vehicle parts manufacturers and its supported activity. In total, motor vehicle parts suppliers contribute more than 77 percent of the value in today’s vehicles. .

Free and fair trade is imperative for a strong domestic supplier industry. Disruption to supply chains or increases in production costs will not contribute to the national security of the United States.

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

Adjustments to steel imports will adversely impact MEMA member companies by disrupting U.S. manufacturing operations and increasing costs. Suppliers expect adjustments to steel imports to cause job losses due to a decrease in production if steel is not available in a timely manner or the costs of production increase. Adjustments to steel imports would also be likely to decrease overall U.S. production because production of the downstream products using steel subject to such adjustments would move abroad.

Member companies would have to compete with those finished goods imports, which likely would take market share from MEMA member companies. Finally, other countries may retaliate against the U.S. for imposing such restrictions by imposing their own restrictions, which could detrimentally impact exports of MEMA member companies.

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

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

NATIONAL ELECTRICAL MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION (NEMA)

NEMA represents nearly 350 electrical and medical imaging manufacturers and stated in its comments:

Our combined industries account for more than 400,000 American jobs and more than 7,000 facilities across the U.S. Domestic production exceeds $117 billion per year and exports top $50 billion.

Many NEMA member companies import specific types of steel from abroad for their U.S. manufacturing operations. Accordingly, NEMA urges the Administration to refrain from recommending or pursuing measures to adjust imports of fairly-traded electrical steel.

Power and distribution transformers are essential components of the U.S. electrical grid. Grain oriented electrical steel (GOES) can be the most expensive material used in the manufacture of transformers as the steel core is a very large percentage of the overall cost of a transformer, more than 50% in some cases. GOES is also the most important material in terms of quality and performance of a transformer. . .  .

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

The significant anti-dumping and countervailing duties in place have effectively eliminated supply from the seven largest NOES-producing countries. There is only one North American producer of NOES, who is effectively petitioning the government to become a protected monopoly.

If access to NOES were to be restricted further based on this Section 232 investigation, U.S. production of finished goods would face even greater pressure to move outside the United States.

U.S. motor manufacturers should not be forced by government policy to purchase from only a single U.S. monopoly supplier.

U.S. electrical manufacturers compete in a global market. Measures to restrict or block access by U.S. finished-product manufacturing operations to fairly-traded essential materials will harm domestic manufacturing and high-paying manufacturing jobs, and national and economic security. It would be patently unacceptable and un-American for the U.S. government to prevent U.S. manufacturers to mitigate supply chain risks through the use of a diversity of suppliers of fairly-traded materials.

Similarly, suggestions that the federal government should place restrictions, on national security grounds, on the importation of fairly-traded components and finished goods could not be more misguided. If products are entering the U.S. at less than fair value and causing injury to a domestic industry producing like products, then U.S. trade remedy laws are in place to address such situations. Steel manufacturers/producers do not have standing to call for restrictions on fairly-traded imports of products that they do not manufacture; therefore motors, transformers and steel cores (regardless of size) should not be part of this Section 232 discussion.

Many commentators, including US Auto Parts companies, requested exclusion of their specific type of imported steel because the US steel producers could not produce the specific type of steel used to make the downstream products.

BORG WARNER

In its comments, Borg Warner, a large US auto parts company, first listed 18 different specific types of steel and parts produced from that steel and went on to state:

The list above is crucial to our U.S-manufactured products that require types of specialty steel that are not available domestically. The products we make with these specialty materials provide key essential vehicle propulsion technologies for improving fuel-efficiency, emissions, and performance. These technologies are critical in helping automakers meet federal regulations for Corporate Average Fuel (CAFE) standards and achieving better overall environmental conditions.

These technologies take many years to refine and often require specialized materials in its engineering and production. We have worked closely with these specialty steel suppliers to develop our products to ensure quality and affordability for our customers and consumers. Any major changes to our supply chain could hurt our engineering and manufacturing processes, delay production, and or jeopardize our ability to meet the vehicle production demands of the industry. If these steel exclusions are not granted, the cost of these types of products would increase and ultimately be passed onto the consumers in the overall price of the vehicle. Most importantly, a major shift in steel supply could hurt U.S. vehicle sales and therefore negatively impact U.S. automotive manufacturing jobs.

BSH HOME APPLIANCE

In its comments, BSH states that it manufactures appliances sold under the Bosch, Thermador and Gaggenau names at factories in North Carolina and Tennessee, with warehouses, sales offices and show rooms throughout the United States.  BSH further states in its comments:

If the Department decides that some steel is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten or impair the national security, BSH requests that steel used for home appliances—light gauge sheet metal, galvanized pre-painted steel, and light gauge stainless steel—be exempt from that determination. . . .

Steel is one of the main materials used by home appliance manufacturers in the construction of their products. In particular, home appliance manufacturers typically use light gauge sheet metal, galvanized pre-painted steel, and light gauge stainless steel in the construction of their products. These materials are critical to the design, function, and durability of home appliances and, should the Department decide to recommend action, we ask that the steel used for home appliances be exempt.

First, we are concerned that any action to ban or limit the quantity of steel imported into the United States will overly burden U.S. steel capacity. U.S. steel capacity is insufficient to meet the demands of industry, including the home appliance industry. Were steel to become more difficult to source, it would hamper the industry’s ability to deliver products to consumers. In addition, some manufactures use specialty steel that is simply not available in the U.S. and must be sourced internationally.

Second, foreign competition in the steel industry improves the welfare of the home appliance industry, which is a low margin business. Competition between U.S. steel producers and international steel producers results in lower steel prices. Without this competitive pricing, it is likely that the home appliance industry could become less competitive and/or, in some cases, would need to pass price increases onto consumers.

Moreover, an action to impose a ban or limit on the quantity of steel imported into the United States or a tariff on steel imports is a disincentive to manufacture home appliances in the United States. It is likely that, in response to such actions, companies producing products domestically would be at a disadvantage compared to products produced internationally. Thus, limits on imported steel and/or tariffs on imported steel could result in companies deciding to produce home appliances outside of the United States in an effort to avoid higher steel prices or the unavailability of domestic steel. . . .

The Department and the President must ensure that in assisting one industry, they do not negatively impact others.

BUSINESS AND INSTITUTIONAL FURNITURE MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION (“BIFMA”)

BIFMA is the trade association for business and institutional furniture producers and is the Association for the commercial furniture industry.  BIFMA stated in its May 31st comments:

It is difficult to imagine how it is in our national security or national economic interests to impose tariffs or quotas that risk thousands of jobs in steel-consuming industries. Disregarding or discounting the economic impact of adjustments on consuming industries could have serious and unintended consequences. We urge the Department to refrain from, or carefully limit, any import adjustment recommendations.

Any adjustment to steel imports is likely to increase steel prices domestically. Adjustments that restrict supply and increase costs domestically will cause significant, negative financial consequences for companies. A sudden increase in material costs would be extremely detrimental for our members and the customers that they supply . . . . We urge the Department to take into consideration the serious ramifications to steel- consuming manufacturers while considering any recommendation it may make to the President.

STEEL BUILDING AND CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES

In its May 31st comments, more than ten steel building and construction companies stated:

Our companies produce building materials, such as prefabricated building sections, roofs, etc. from galvalume and galvanized steel coils.  Our companies are very concerned about the threat to our company’s future if the imports of flat rolled galvalume steel we rely on are restricted by additional tariffs or quotas. Only a few American mills produce galvalume at all; those mills are not interested in selling this at a competitive price to most users. There also are not enough mills producing this product to satisfy demand. Only certain selected customers are able get pricing at competitive levels. Without access to imported galvalume, our ability to compete will be reduced or eliminated.

American national security is not threatened by imports of galvalume. Not only are coated products not used in defense applications; most American mils are profitable, to the extent that they are expanding their coated steel operations, not reducing them.  . .

We urge you to not restrict the steel imports that are vital to our survival.

TRANSFORMER MANUFACTURERS

Several transformer manufacturers stated in their comments:

The proposal made in oral comments that the Department initiate remedies on the import of electrical grade steel, including GOES, deeply troubles the Transformer Manufacturers. This proposal presumes that the importation of GOES or cut steel for use in power transformers is a threat the national security. We propose that protecting the interests of the domestic transformer manufacturers and their employees is more vital to national security than the risk associated with importing GOES, which only accounts for a portion of the total market. One thing is certain of the proposal if adopted as recommended, it will severely damage the domestic transformer marketplace, the underlying companies and their United States employees. . . .

Simply put, at present there is no other domestic alternative to AK Steel as a source of GOES. Granting its requested relief will, in effect, further entrench a domestic de facto monopoly for GOES. While each of the below entities wants to continue to work with AK Steel and maintain positive commercial relationships, the potential economic impact of an unrestricted sole-source domestic provider could be devastating on the domestic transformer manufacturing industry.

TRUCK AND ENGINE MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

EMA represents the world’s leading manufacturers of heavy- duty commercial vehicles, as well as the world’s leading manufacturers of the internal combustion engines that power the vehicles and equipment used in virtually all applications other than passenger cars and aircraft.  In its comments EMA stated:

members maintain significant manufacturing operations in the United States that employ tens of thousands of workers engaged in the manufacture of, among other things: trucks, buses, heavy-duty pickups and vans, construction and agricultural equipment, mining equipment, law and garden equipment, along with the wide array of internal combustion engines that power those myriad applications, as well as the engines that power locomotives and marine vessels. All of those very significant and vital manufacturing operations – operations that quite literally produce the machinery that powers and moves our domestic economy – use significant amounts of steel. As a result, EMA and its members have a significant stake in the DOC’s pending investigation.  . . .

While all of those concerns are certainly genuine and significant, there is also a significant national interest in ensuring that domestic manufacturers are not forced to purchase steel at prices that are materially higher than those that prevail in foreign manufacturing markets.

Steel is a key commodity in the manufacture of the goods produced by EMA’s members. In addition, those steel-derived goods are sold into world-wide markets, and so necessarily compete with goods manufactured in multiple foreign locations. To the extent that U.S.-based manufacturers are compelled to pay more for necessary steel inputs than their foreign competitors, they will be at a significant and unfair disadvantage from the outset.

Restrictions on the imports of steel could result in increases in the price of steel based on reduced supplies in the U.S. marketplace. That cost increase, as noted above, could cause significant competitive disadvantages for U.S.-based manufacturers that utilize steel as a key commodity in their manufacturing operations. It also could force manufacturers to pass on higher prices for their finished goods to U.S. consumers, thereby compounding the negative impacts of the increased price of steel in the U.S. Accordingly, in addition to the important concerns that are motivating the DOC’s investigation, the DOC should take into account, and give high priority to, the potential impacts on the competitiveness of U.S.-based manufacturers. A proper assessment of those impacts should be a key component of any recommendation that the DOC submits to the President on this matter.

Previous experience with additional tariffs and related restrictions on steel imports is highly instructive. In 2002, the U.S. government imposed tariffs on a broad range of steel imports over a 3-year period. In subsequent studies of the economic impact of those tariffs, it was found that the tariffs had resulted in a number of unintended adverse consequences, including the following: (i) 200,000 Americans lost their jobs due to higher steel prices; (ii) one-quarter of those job losses occurred in the machinery and equipment, and transportation equipment sectors; (iii) every U.S. State experienced employment losses from higher steel costs; and (iv) steel tariffs caused shortages and higher steel prices that put U.S. manufacturers of steel-containing products at a disadvantage relative to their foreign competitors. The same types of unintended adverse consequences could result in this case, depending on the types of “adjustments” to steel imports that the DOC may choose to recommend as an outcome of the pending study. . . .

Like the chorus in a Greek tragedy, US manufacturers that rely on steel as a key raw material input are crying their warning about imposing restrictions on steel imports.  Many more jobs on a factor of 10 could be lost by the restraints than are saved by the restraints.  The real question is whether Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and President Trump are listening.

ALUMINUM

On April 27, 2017, President Trump and the US Commerce Department self-initiated a Section 232 National Security case against imports of aluminum from all countries.  See the attached documents related to the Case Section 232 Investigation on the Effect of Imports of Aluminum on US National S ALUMINUM FED REG PUB Aluminum Presidential Memo Summary.  The hearing will be June 22, 2017 at the Commerce Department.

Trump has indicated that he is expecting the Aluminum report by the end of June.  But the hearing will be held on June 22nd with written comments due by June 29th.  That certainly shows a rush to protectionist judgment when aluminum users will have the same concerns as steel users.

DONALD TRUMP AND RONALD REAGAN—DIAMETRICALLY OPPOSITE IN ONE IMPORTANT AREA—TRADE

It is important to note that there is one area in which President Ronald Reagan and President Donald Trump are diametrically, 180 degrees opposite and that is trade.  None of the news shows that are Pro-Trump and Pro-Republican highlight the trade views of the Gipper, but he was certainly no Donald Trump and Donald Trump is no Ronald Reagan when it comes to trade.

At a time like this, it is important to review President Reagan’s June 28, 1986 speech on international trade. President Reagan knew something that President Trump does not work.  Protectionism destroys jobs.  As Reagan stated:

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. . . .

Sometimes foreign governments adopt unfair tariffs or quotas and subsidize their own industries or take other actions that give firms an unfair competitive edge over our own businesses. On those occasions, it’s been very important for the United States to respond effectively, and our administration hasn’t hesitated to act quickly and decisively.

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

Now I know that others, including USTR Lighthizer himself, argue that Reagan was not really a free trader.  But the trade actions he took, including his appointment of very free traders as ITC Commissioners, show that Reagan deeply understood the dangers of protectionism.  He lived through the Great Depression and the effects of the 1930 Smoot Hawley Tariff Act.  Donald Trump did not live during that time period and the comments of the US Steel users above indicate that President Trump does not understand the dangers of protectionism.

SOLAR 201 ESCAPE CLAUSE CASE

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

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

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

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

COMMERCE AND ITC DEADLINES ARE VERY VERY STRICT

In the ongoing Tool Chests from China antidumping case, Commerce just bounced nine Separate Rates Applications from Chinese companies filed by a US law firm on the due date because of computer problems at Commerce and the law firm.  Most documents are now filed electronically at both the Commerce Department and the International Trade Commission in trade cases.  Computer problems and other filing issues are why we are so paranoid about Commerce and ITC deadlines and try to file documents, if possible, before the deadline date.

Computer systems including the Commerce and ITC computer systems, can have problems and one can miss the deadline.  If deadlines are missed, truly there is hell to pay.

ALUMINUM PALLETS ARE WITHIN THE SCOPE OF THE ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CASE

In the attached memorandum, PALLETS IN ALUMINUM EXTRUSIONS CASE, to prevent circumvention, the Commerce Department has determined to include aluminum pallets in the Aluminum Extrusions case.  In one situation, one Chinese producer/exporter exported 1000s of aluminum pallets into the US in an attempt to evade the antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) orders on Aluminum Extrusions.

NEW TRADE CASES

ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES

FINE DENIER POLYESTER STAPLE FIBER

On May 31, 2017, DAK Americas LLC, Nan Ya Plastics Corporation, America, and Auriga Polymers Inc. filed an AD and CVD petition against imports of Fine Denier Polyester Staple Fiber from China, India, Korea, Taiwan, and Vietnam.  The preliminary determination in the CVD case is due October 28th and the AD Preliminary Determination is due December 27, 2017.

CITRIC ACID AND CITRATE SALTS FROM BELGIUM, COLOMBIA AND THAILAND

On June 2, 2017, Archer Daniels Midland Company, Cargill, Incorporated, and Tate & Lyle Ingredients America LLC filed AD and CVD petitions against imports of Citric Acid and Certain Citrate Salts (“Citric Acid”) from Belgium, Colombia, and Thailand.

AD duties are imposed on subject imports that are found to be sold in the United States at less than “normal value.” CVD duties are imposed on imports that benefit from unfair government subsidies. For AD/CVD duties to be imposed, the U.S. government must determine not only that dumping or subsidization is occurring, but also that the subject imports are causing “material injury” or “threat of material injury” to the domestic industry.

This is the second AD/CVD case filed against Citric Acid. AD/CVD orders were previously imposed on citric acid from Canada and China in 2009.  The cases are targeting Chinese subsidiary companies in Thailand and other countries.

Alleged AD Rates

Belgium: 56.02 – 118.44%

Colombia: 41.18 – 49.46%

Thailand: 4.6 – 67.1%

Petitioner also identified various Thai government subsidy programs under the Thai Investment Promotion Act, along with other export-import loans, grants and export promotion measures.

Estimated Schedule of AD/CVD Investigations

June 2, 2017 – Petition filed

June 22, 2017 – DOC initiates investigations

June 23, 2017 – ITC staff conference

July 17, 2017 – ITC Preliminary Determination

October 30, 2017 – DOC CVD Preliminary Determination (assuming extended deadline)

December 29, 2017 – DOC AD Preliminary Determination (assuming extended deadline)

May 13, 2018 – DOC AD/CVD final determinations (assuming AD, CVD aligned and extended)

June 27, 2018 – ITC Final Determination (extended)

July 4, 2018 – DOC AD/CVD orders issued (extended).

OTHER TRADE CASES

SECTION 201 ESCAPE CLAUSE CASE AGAINST RESIDENTIAL WASHERS

On May 31, 2017, Whirlpool Corp. filed another Section 201 Escape Clause case against imports of Large Residential Washers.  The petition indicates that this is an attempt by Whirlpool to go after the Korean producers, including Samsung.  Whirlpool tried AD and CVD cases against Korea, but that failed because the Korean producers moved to another country.  Now like the Solar Cells 201 case, the US producer is trying to close the holes in the trade protection.

But do note another point, what is the major raw material input for residential washing machines—Steel. When US steel prices are many times higher than the world market price, that puts US steel users at a major competitive disadvantage.

USTR ROBERT LIGHTHIZER CONFIRMED—NAFTA FIGHT

Countries are still gearing up for NAFTA negotiations.  President Trump has told USTR Lighthizer not to do any damage and add to the bottom line.

Attached is an article with my quotes about the Mexico/Sugar suspension agreement to settle the dumping case against Mexico, Wilbur Ross likely will impose Mexico sugar deal over industry objections.  The Suspension Agreement will be finalized on June 30th with some possible tweaks to make the US industry feel better.  In fact, on June 16, 2017, Politico reported that the US sugar industry has given its blessing to the US-Mexico sugar deal making Commerce Secretary Ross’s day.  As Secretary Ross stated:

“I am glad all parties have agreed that the new sugar agreement is fair and addresses the shortcomings of the original deal.  I look forward to seeing the public comments on this deal, but am hopeful that we can successfully implement this new agreement with the support and cooperation of all stakeholders.”

The Sugar deal shows that Wilbur Ross wants to clear up trade issues before the NAFTA negotiations begin in earnest so we can expect a similar deal in the Lumber case.

On June 14, 2017, Robert Samuelson, a well-known economist, in an article in the Washington Post entitled “Trump is Deluded About NAFTA” stated:

The Trump administration is determined to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) — which created a single market from Mexico’s southern border to the Yukon — but the main political appeal of this policy rests on a popular myth: that “fair” trade requires the United States to have a surplus or balanced trade with both Mexico and Canada.

We are supposed to feel especially aggrieved that Mexico regularly has a sizable surplus with us, $63.2 billion in goods in 2016, according to Commerce Department figures. This shows, as the president repeatedly has said, that U.S. trade officials negotiated a bad deal for American firms and workers. Trump has promised to do much better.  That will be hard. . . .

In addition, the trade imbalances within NAFTA aren’t as large as they seem. It’s true — as noted — that the United States had a $63.2 billion deficit in goods trade (cars, computers, plastics) with Mexico. But the U.S. surplus on services (travel, transportation, consulting) was $7.6 billion, reducing the overall deficit with Mexico to $55.6 billion. On the same basis, covering goods and services, the United States had a trade surplus of $12.5 billion with Canada in 2016.

So: The total trade deficit with Canada and Mexico was $43.1 billion ($55.6 billion minus $12.5 billion). All trade — exports and imports — between the United States and Canada and Mexico totaled $1.207 trillion in 2016. Our net deficit equaled 3.5 percent of total trade and about two-tenths of 1 percent of U.S. GDP. This hardly seems crushing.

Against that backdrop, the notion that either Canada or Mexico is going to offer the United States vast new markets in their countries — without corresponding U.S. concessions — seems wishful thinking. “The administration appears to perceive Mexico and perhaps Canada as surplus countries,” writes [Fred} Bergsten, “whereas they (more accurately) see themselves as deficit countries,” seeking to increase exports or dampen imports. This is Trump’s delusion.

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES

Although the Trump Administration says that the Border Adjustment tax (“BAT”) is dead, it continues to raise its head.  On June 7th Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch stated at a global transfer pricing conference in Washington DC that although Congressional Republicans and the White House are generally 80 percent in agreement on key issues for tax reform, he has not ruled out the BAT proposal.

Hatch noted the resistance against the BAT, including from certain industries that are “downright apoplectic” about it, but then went on to state that it will have a difficult time becoming law:

“I don’t think I’m making any news when I say that, given the small margin of error we have in the Senate and the number of senators who oppose the very concept of a [BAT], the proposal will have a difficult time becoming law. That said, I want to see the specifics of the proposal and find out if it works like its proponents say it will. Until then, I’m not going to publicly rule anything out.”

Hatch also said on Wednesday that the tax reform plan should include a conversion to a territorial system, which would see only revenue generated in the U.S. taxed. Under the current system, all revenue earned by U.S. ­incorporated companies, regardless of where it is earned, is taxed.  As Hatch stated

“My position has, I believe, remained clear: A territorial system will put us on par with other industrialized countries and allow our businesses to compete in the global marketplace.”

On June 15, 2017, it was reported that Kevin Brady, Chairman of House Ways and Means, has proposed a five year transition to a BAT to make it more palatable.  As Brady stated:

“My current thinking on border adjustment … is a five-year transition.  We’ll be lifting the ‘Made in America’ tax [on exports] at the same rate.  A very gradual five-year phase-in really resolves a lot of the challenges.”

But many opponents argued that a five year transition did not make the BAT a good idea.

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

As indicated in previous blog posts, I feel very strongly about the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies program because with very low funding it has a true track record of saving US companies.  In fact, in the ongoing Section 201 case on Solar Cells, the statute requires the industry seeking protection to provide a trade adjustment plan to the Commission to explain how the industry intends to adjust if trade relief is provided.  The problem is that the Commission is not the entity with experience on determining whether the Trade Adjustment plans are viable.  The entities with that experience in trade adjustment plans are the various trade adjustment centers throughout the US.

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

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

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

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

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

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

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office about Chinese trade law.  Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.22 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.23

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NO NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–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–TRUMP AND TRADE, LIGHTHIZER AS USTR, BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES, MANUFACTURING CAN COME BACK TO THE US, TAA FOR COMPANIES, WTO CASES AGAINST ALUMINUM AND NME STATUS, AND 337

Washington Monument After the Snow Washington DCTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR JANUARY 12, 2017

Dear Friends,

This blog post contains several articles about recent developments in the Trump Transition and its impact on trade.  January 20th, inauguration day, is only 8 days away and Trump will be President.  The transition, however, moves quickly.

Although the past appointments of Governor Branstad of Iowa as Ambassador to China and Wilbur Ross to Commerce, two persons who know China well, indicate no potential trade war, the two latest appointments of Bob Lighthizer to USTR and Peter Nararro as Chairman of the National Economic Advisors indicate that protectionism, especially against China, is back on the menu.

Trump may be trying to use uncertainty to create leverage and a deal with the Chinese and other governments on trade and other topics.  Bob Lighthizer will be the hammer of the Trump trade policy that will negotiate those deals.

But the next question is how will Trump help revive manufacturing in the United States and help the Rust Belt states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which put him in the White House?

One answer may be taxes, the border adjustment kind, which may, in fact, be a response to the Value Added Taxes levied on US exports.  Trump and Congress have apparently decided to fight fire with fire—mercantilism to fight mercantilism, border adjustment taxes to fight value added taxes, which put US exports at a major disadvantage.

No longer will the US take a passive approach to foreign trade barriers to US exports.  Trump and his team will raise US trade barriers to counter the trade barriers erected by other countries.  Reciprocity is the name of the game.

Moreover, the recent noises from many US companies indicate that they like what Trump is doing and manufacturing will move back to the US.  Low corporate taxes, less regulations and the threat of trade barriers will bring manufacturing back to the US.  In fact, it may even encourage Chinese and other foreign companies to move production to the United States.  Trump will do everything possible to increase jobs in the United States.

Also the US China Trade relationship is getting out to an interesting start in 2017 with the filing today, January 12, 2017, of a major WTO case against China on Aluminum.

Hopefully Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, which is the only effective US trade remedy that saves companies and the jobs that go with them, will expand.  But TAA for Companies is not TAA for Workers.  They are very different programs.

In addition, with regards to the recent WTO complaint China filed against the US and the EC for failing to give it market economy status under their antidumping and countervailing duty laws, Canada and Japan have now jumped into the case because of the impact on their trade laws.

Under the Universal Trade War theme, attached are newsletters from Roland Zhu of the Allbright Chinese law firm on Chinese trade law.

Finally, a recent 337 intellectual property case was filed against China on Basketball Backboard Components.

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

PS, If anyone wants to unsubscribe to the newsletter, please let me know and I will remove them from the list.

TRADE AND TRADE POLICY

TRUMP’S APPOINTMENTS NOW BECOME MORE PROTECTIONIST AND TOUGH ON TRADE—BUT MAYBE THAT IS WHAT IS NEEDED IN THIS ENVIRONMENT

After the first two appointments of Governor Branstad as ambassador to China and Wilbur Ross as new Commerce Department secretary, the two recent appointments of Bob Lighthizer as United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) and China critic, Peter Navarro, to head the National Trade Council indicate that the Trump Administration will take a much tougher line on trade and China.  Full disclosure in the late 1980s, as described more below, I worked for Bob Lighthizer at Skadden, Arps, and he is certainly a much tougher negotiator than any trade negotiator China or other countries have dealt with before.

Recently on Bloomberg news, I heard one bank spokesman say that their research group gives a 25% chance that under Trump the US will return to a Smoot Hawley situation, such as in the 1930s.  Although Lighthizer is a very tough guy, he is also a very experienced trade lawyer with substantial contacts in Congress so hopefully he will be pragmatic enough not to simply put up the protectionist walls and return the US to the 1930s.

But let there be no mistake, the Trump Administration will erect barriers to imports to offset the many trade barriers other countries, including Mexico, China and the EC, have erected against US exports.  Reciprocity will be the new approach to trade policy.

USTR FROMAN ADDS A PARTING SHOT

As present USTR Froman of the Obama Administration is leaving, he issued on January 5, 2017 the attached Cabinet Exit Memo, USTR-Exit-Memo.  In that Cabinet Exit Memo, Froman stated that the United States cannot withdraw from Globalization.  The issue is whether the US can shape globalization so as to benefit the US.  Froman also warned that if the US withdraws, the major beneficiary will be China.  As Froman stated:

“The fundamental economic question of our time is not whether we can stop globalization, but whether we can use all the tools at our disposal to shape globalization in a way that helps the majority of Americans, and reflects not just our economic interests, but our values.”

Froman went on to emphasize the importance of Agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”):

“These agreements offer a positive vision for American leadership in the global economy.  This vision is vitally important, because in the absence of U.S. guidance and leadership, the world is likely to turn to alternative policy models that will put the United States at a permanent disadvantage.”

Froman went on to argue that the US can only counter China through negotiations that set high standards for the World’s trading countries:

“If we step back from a global leadership role, it will be our loss and China’s gain.  This alternative vision would place a large portion of America’s industry at risk of lost exports and create powerful incentives to invest in Asia in order to sell in Asia. Should this alternative come to dominate the next generation of trade agreements, the consequence will be an erosion of economic security and opportunity for all Americans.”

Froman apparently is arguing that the trade game cannot be changed and only small changes can be made through negotiations, such as the TPP, because globalization is here to stay.  Trump intends to overturn the trade policy table all together.

TRUMP PICKS AN ENFORCER ROBERT LIGHTHIZER AS NEXT UNITED STATES TRADE REPRESENTATIVE (“USTR”)

On January 3, 2017 Donald Trump announced that he has picked a very tough negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, a Skadden, Arps partner, as the next United States Trade Representative (“USTR”).  In doing so, Trump stated:

“Ambassador Lighthizer is going to do an outstanding job representing the United States as we fight for good trade deals that put the American worker first.  He has extensive experience striking agreements that protect some of the most important sectors of our economy, and has repeatedly fought in the private sector to prevent bad deals from hurting Americans. He will do an amazing job helping turn around the failed trade policies which have robbed so many Americans of prosperity.”

Almost 20 years ago, I worked with Lighthizer in the late 1980s at Skadden, Arps.  Before joining Skadden, Arps, Lighthizer was a Deputy USTR and was legendary.  One of my colleagues at Skadden told me that as a Deputy USTR when Lighthizer was negotiating with the Japanese government on a trade deal, he took one proposal from the Japanese government, folded it into a paper airplane and threw it out the door.

After Lighthizer joined Skadden in the late 1980s, Lighthizer brought in US Steel as a client and went on to represent US Steel for decades bringing many antidumping and countervailing duty cases against steel products from various countries.  Being the former Chief of Staff to Senator Robert Dole, the former Senate Majority leader, Lighthizer has extremely good contacts with the Republicans in Congress.

From my personal experience with Lighthizer, he will be an extremely tough negotiator with an agenda of protecting US companies from import competition and he will not be a friend of China, but that may be a good thing.  In contrast to the tough approach on trade of President Trump, Lighthizer may be the best choice free traders could get.  Lighthizer is a very experienced trade lawyer, who is not an ideologue, but a pragmatic deal maker.

More importantly, Trump’s appointment of an experienced tough trade lawyer as the USTR indicates that Trump does not really want a trade war.  He wants better, tougher deals more in line with US interests, such as a renegotiated NAFTA and possibly even a renegotiated TPP.  Trump is seeking to hire one of Washington’s top trade lawyers to negotiate tougher international trade agreements and then enforce them more vigorously.  Lighthizer, in effect, will be the hammer of Trump’s trade policy.

The desire for a much tougher trade policy is bipartisan.  Many Democratic lawmakers agree with Trump and many Republicans on a tougher trade policy.  On January 3rd, AFL-CIO President, Richard Trumka met with nine House Democrats to urge renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada and stating that he does not think Trump “has enough Republican support to do it, and rewriting the rules of trade is a necessary first step in righting the economy for working people.”

In response to the appointment, Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah, the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, who knows Lighthizer very well and will hold hearings on his nomination, stated:

“Ensuring our past, present, and future trade agreements are the best possible deals for American workers and job creators is a shared goal supported by pro- trade lawmakers and the Trump Administration alike. As the incoming administration undertakes this enormous responsibility, Bob will be a critical player in ensuring that America’s trade agenda reflects U.S. commercial interests, while helping set the standard for global trade. Armed with bipartisan Trade Promotion Authority, the incoming Trump Administration has a unique opportunity to pursue new, bilateral trade pacts of the highest caliber that can be submitted to Congress for an up or down vote with no amendments. As the world and our economic competitors move to expand their global footprints, we can’t afford to be left behind in securing strong deals that will increase access to new markets for American-made products and services, protect our intellectual property rights abroad, and ensure domestic businesses can successfully compete in the 21st century global economy. I look forward to a vigorous discussion of Bob’s trade philosophy and priorities when he comes before the Finance Committee.”

Bill Brock, the former USTR under President Reagan, stated:

“He is in most ways, if not many ways, in line with Trump’s comments during the campaign.  He’s very bright, he’s very aggressive.”

There was speculation prior to the Lighthizer appointment that USTR would take a secondary role in trade negotiations.  In fact, Lighthizer’s appointment indicates that Trump wants to make USTR under Lighthizer’s leadership the tip of sword in changing and negotiating tough trade agreements and enforcing them.  Of Trump’s trade advisors, only Lighthizer has government experience.

Alan Wolff, another former senior American trade official who represented the steel industry as co- counsel in many trade cases with Lighthizer, referred to Lighthizer’s broad knowledge of trade law and went on to state:

“Those who say U.S.T.R. will be subordinated to other agencies are mistaken.  He’ll be a dominant figure on trade, in harmony with Wilbur Ross and Navarro.”

Lighthizer’s appointment is a clear indication that the Trump Administration will focus on the enforcement of trade agreements and on the letter of the law.  Lighthizer is not a bull in a China shop.  He is a very smart, tough trade lawyer and negotiator, and he will do everything possible to protect the US industry.

And Lighthizer will be very tough with China.  In the attached 2010 statement testimony to the US-China Economic and Security Review Commission, LIGHTHIZER 2010 STATEMENT US CHINA ECONOMIC SECURITY COMMISSION, Lighthizer stated:

Misjudging Incentives for Industries to Shift Production Wholesale to China and then Ship Back to the United States. . . . In other words, supporters assumed that since the United States had been granting MFN status to China for decades, granting MFN on a permanent basis would make no significant difference to how companies would serve this market.

But this assumption failed to account for the many incentives Western companies had to bet on the other side, and use China as a manufacturing platform to serve the U.S. market. As shown throughout this paper, China practices numerous forms of mercantilism – including subsidies, currency manipulation, and government programs that encourage developing new products in China – that give companies strong reasons to move production to that country. China’s relatively weak labor and environmental policies have a similar effect. China also manipulates raw material markets in a manner that encourages manufacturers to move there.  . . .

Many experts agree that our trading relationship with China presents a serious threat to our economy and the effective functioning of the WTO.  How should U.S. policymakers respond to these problems? As described in more detail below, I believe they should stop being so passive, take a number of straightforward steps to mitigate the harm caused by Chinese mercantilism, and consider more imaginative steps to deal with China.

We must stop being so passive. For ten years now, U.S. policymakers have done very little as China pursued policies that have resulted in an enormous trade imbalance. This approach has not worked, and it is past time for the U.S. government to become more aggressive. . . .

Lighthizer went on to state:

Indeed, I would take the argument even further. Trade policy discussions in the United States have increasingly been dominated by arcane disputations about whether various actions would be “WTO ­consistent” – treating this as a mantra of almost religious or moral significance.  The fact is that the WTO is built upon a framework of mutual concessions and purported mutual benefits from expanded trade and open markets. WTO commitments are not religious obligations, do not (and should not be construed to) impinge upon national sovereignty, and are not subject to coercion by some WTO police force. Viewing them as such – and implicitly establishing this viewpoint as the inviolate touchstone of all U.S. trade policy – is at odds with the structure of the WTO itself, not to mention the vociferous and repeated statements made by proponents of the WTO when it was established.

In this regard, WTO commitments represent mutually beneficial, market ­opening stipulations by individual countries. Where a country fails to fully implement commitments it has made, other countries are given the right to reciprocally suspend market­ opening commitments of their own – in an amount precisely equivalent to, and no greater than, the value of trade they have lost as a result of the derogation that has occurred. In this way, the entire WTO system is in a very real sense premised upon the assumption of relatively equal costs and benefits among and between WTO participants – whereby compliance with WTO norms is encouraged by the knowledge that derogations will result in the suspension of equivalent trade concessions. Where this relationship does not hold – that is, where a trade relationship has become so unbalanced that the threat of retaliation pales in comparison to the potential benefits of derogation – it only makes sense that a sovereign nation would consider what options are in its own national interest (up to and including potential derogation from WTO stipulations).

This need not be seen as some fundamental threat to the integrity of the WTO system.  Indeed, let me state explicitly that I am not advocating that the United States leave the WTO – that body is too important to us and the global trading system. I am merely pointing out that derogation may be a common sense, economically rational analysis by participants in the system – whereby potential decisions to derogate from WTO rules give rise to compensatory rights of other parties within the system.

Indeed, such an approach is plainly anticipated by the WTO agreements and has been acknowledged by U.S. policymakers. Properly understood, WTO rules do not infringe on the ability of individual nations to make their own sovereign decisions about economic policies –subject to the rights and obligations that flow from the WTO agreements themselves and any derogation of those agreements.   In this regard, U.S. officials have consistently stated that WTO commitments do not interfere with our national sovereignty, and that WTO rulings cannot alter U.S. law. These points were made repeatedly by Members of Congress during the debate over whether the United States should join the WTO. Furthermore, USTR has plainly stated that WTO legal panels “have no authority to change U.S. law or to require the United States or any state or local government to change its laws or decisions.” USTR has specifically explained that other countries cannot force the United States to comply with WTO law; instead, their only available response is to retaliate by withdrawing trade benefits . . .

In the context of U.S. ­China trade – whereby the United States is consistently running trade deficits viewed by virtually all rational observers as catastrophic and unsustainable – it is certainly advisable to consider all options available. To the extent that the United States were to consider more dramatic action to address the problem – such as tariffs or quantitative limitations that would arguably derogate from WTO commitments – the prospect of reciprocal denial of trade benefits by China must of course be assessed. At some point, however – where goods imports from China exceed $300 billion while U.S. exports to China are below $70 billion – one must ask whether potential retaliation from China really would or could even remotely offset the benefits to the United States of more aggressive trade measures. . . .

Of course, none of the policies I have suggested can be effective unless U.S. policymakers have the will to implement them in a strong and determined manner. For years, our economic position vis ­a ­vis China has deteriorated because U.S. policymakers have refused to take the inevitable risks associated with challenging Chinese mercantilism. As a result, we are now burdened with a trade imbalance that everyone agrees is unsustainable. Wringing our hands and hoping for the best is not the answer. We need strong leaders who are prepared to make tough decisions, and who will not be satisfied until this crisis has been resolved.

“One must ask whether potential retaliation from China really would or could even remotely offset the benefits to the United States of more aggressive trade measures.”

On the other hand, although Lighthizer’s statements show that he will be very tough on China, as certain trade experts have stated, in light of the very tough trade policy of the next President Donald Trump, Lighthizer’s appointment may be the best that free traders could hope for from this new Administration.  Lighthizer is a very smart, experienced political operator with excellent contacts in Congress, especially on the Republican side of the aisle, and a tough, outstanding negotiator.  But these experts also believe that Lighthizer is not a blind ideologue, but a pragmatic, rational deal maker.  After driving a very hard bargain and reaching a deal, he could end up even keeping NAFTA and possibly even the TPP.  Relations with China may actually improve, but only after a better deal is reached.

PETER NAVARRO TO HEAD NATIONAL TRADE COUNCIL

In another sign that the Trump Administration will take a much tougher line on China, on December 21, 2016, Trump announced that he has picked Peter Navarro, a China critic, to be the head of a new National Trade Council.   A Harvard trained economist, who is a professor at the University of California, Irvine, Navarro has taken a very strong position on China.  He is the author of a book, “Death by China”, which became a 2012 documentary film in which a Chinese knife stabs a map of the United States causing blood to throw.  See http://deathbychina.com/.  Navarro, in effect, argues that China is waging an economic war by subsidizing exports to the United States and blocking imports into China creating an enormous trade deficit.

Trump has stated that he will persuade China to change its policies by applying pressure through trade laws, designating China a currency manipulator, and, if necessary imposing high tariffs on Chinese imports.  As indicated below, however, those tariffs may actually be border adjustment taxes.

In a statement, Mr. Trump described Mr. Navarro as “a visionary economist” and said he would “develop trade policies that shrink our trade deficit, expand our growth and help stop the exodus of jobs from our shores.”

On December 23, 2016, in response the China Daily stated:

That individuals such as Navarro who have a bias against China are being picked to work in leading positions in the next administration, is no laughing matter. The new administration should bear in mind that with economic and trade ties between the world’s two largest economies now the closest they have ever been, any move to damage the win-win relationship will only result in a loss for both sides.

Still, Chinese companies in the US should be on high alert to a more difficult business climate.

US TRADE POLICY MAY CHANGE AND THREATS DO NOT HELP THE US CHINA TRADE RELATIONSHIP

There is an old saying in Chinese “Bei Mi Yang Feng You Dou Mi Yang Chao Ren” (杯米养朋友,斗米养仇人) one cup of rice makes a friend, thousands of cups of rice make an enemy.  Another old saying in English, give a person $5 make a friend, give a person $100 make an enemy.

Since World War II the United States has been a relatively open market and many foreign countries, including China, have benefitted.  As described more below, with border adjustment taxes and the current US economic situation, that situation may well change and could change dramatically.  Many countries will be very upset when the US starts to close down, in effect, favoring domestic products over imports.  When markets are taken away and countries lose their bag of rice, they will not be happy.

Mexico’s peso is in free fall and has fallen to the lowest level against the US in decades.  Mexico is in crisis because under pressure from Trump US companies are canceling plans to set up production facilities in Mexico and moving production facilities back to the US.  Mexico is not happy.

China is upset with the Lighthizer appointment and is talking about retaliation.  On January 4th, in response to the Lighthizer appointment, China’s state-run Media, the Global Times, warned Trump of ‘Big Sticks’ if he seeks a Trade War:

“There are flowers around the gate of China’s Ministry of Commerce, but there are also big sticks hidden inside the door — they both await Americans.”

When a current US China trade deficit of well over $300 billion, however, that threat rings hollow.

On January 9, 2017, State-run Chinese tabloid Global Times warned U.S. President-elect Donald Trump that China would “take revenge” if he reneged on the one- China policy, only hours after Taiwan’s president made a controversial stopover in Houston.

When the Chinese State-Controlled media, such as the Global Times, castigates Trump as an “ignorant child” and threatens the Trump Administration with Chinese retaliation, it is waving a red flag in front of a bull.  The new Trump Administration will not be intimidated.  It will not be bullied.  Threats will not work with this Administration.

So it is a much better idea to let cooler heads prevail and negotiate.  As stated above, the Trump Administration wants a deal and the Chinese government and other governments are extremely good negotiators so negotiate.

Let’s keep any Trade War at the cold war stage and not let it break out into a hot Trade War where every country, including the United States and China, are burned.

BORDER ADJUSTMENT TAXES MAY BE THE NEW TRADE PROTECTIONIST BARRIER TO IMPORTS

As stated in my last blog post, Trump and Republicans in Congress may be creating an alternative to tariffs to spur US manufacturing and that is taxes.  Tariffs have become so passé.  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.

The key issue is a plan to fundamentally remake the tax system by taxing US companies based on where they sell their goods, not where the business happens to be located. As part of that, Republican tax legislators want to include what experts call “border adjustments” — new taxes on imports as well as tax rebates on exports.

Another fancy term for this new tax is “destination-based cash flow tax with border adjustment” or DBCFT.  This plan would replace the current corporate tax code with something known among experts as a “border-adjustable, destination-based” tax system.  Under their proposal, imports would be charged the same 20 percent tax that domestic companies would face. Exports would be excused from taxes.  It would amount to a fundamental change, with the government taxing companies based on where they sell their wares, rather than where the business is located.

The way this tax would work is if a U.S. company sold a product for $100 and it spent $70 on its workers’ pay, under the Republican plan the remaining $30 would be subject to the 20% tax. That would produce a $6 tax bill. An imported version of the same product would be forced to pay the 20% tax on the entire $100 sale, producing a $20 tax bill.

The best case for a border adjustment tax is an article by Stephen Moore, an expert on economic issues at the Heritage Foundation, in the International Business Daily in which he argues that a Border Adjustment Tax, in effect, is equivalent to the Value Added Tax that countries use to kill imports.  See http://www.investors.com/politics/columnists/stephen-moore-we-need-tax-reform-not-tariffs/.

As Moore states:

If America’s competitors were intentionally trying to design a tax system to destroy the American economy, they probably couldn’t come up with a dumber tax system than the way the United States currently taxes our own businesses.

To fully appreciate the stupidity of the American corporate tax, consider this simple example:

If you are an American company making cars in Michigan, you have to pay a 35% profits tax on the car made here and then if the car is sold across the border to Mexico, the Mexicans slap a 16% value added tax on the car, so it is taxed on both sides of the border. Almost all countries tax goods produced in the United States this way.

Now let us say that the auto factory is moved from Michigan to Mexico City. Now the car produced in the factory in Mexico is not taxed by the Mexicans if the auto is sold in the United States.

Even more amazing:  the U.S. imposes no tax on the imported car. To summarize, the car is taxed twice if it is built in America and then sold abroad and never taxed if it is built abroad and sold here in the U.S. And we wonder why companies are moving out in droves for China, India, Ireland, Mexico and the like.

Donald Trump is right. What we have in America is not free trade. It is stupid trade with the deck sacked against American producers and workers. Our federal tax is effectively a 35% tariff imposed on our own goods and services.

It doesn’t help matters that our 35% rate is the highest in the industrial world. Yet the corporate tax- despite being onerous and complex — and despite depressing employment, investment and wages here at home — raises very little revenue for the government. . . .

To create a level playing field, the U.S. has to reconstitute our tax system.  This can be accomplished by lowering the tax rate and then turning the tax on its head so we are taxing our imports, but not our exports. In other words, we should tax activities based on where they are consumed, not where they are produced.

This is called a border adjustable tax system, and here are the reasons we need to do it:

  • A border adjustable tax will end all talk of tariffs and trade wars.

tariffs violate our trade agreements and often lead to retaliatory measures by other countries. The free traders will rightly object loudly to these trade barriers.

A better solution is to impose the Trump 15% corporate income tax on goods when they are brought into the U.S. and exempt from tax goods produced in the U.S. but sold outside the U.S.

In other words, our corporate tax would be based on where goods are consumed, not on where they are produced.  This tax does not violate trade laws and only mirrors the valued added tax systems foreigners use to gain advantage over us. . . .

In exchange for a border adjustable tax, the U.S. should eliminate all existing tariffs and duties which can now range from 2% on shoes to 25% on toys. . .

Retailers like Walmart will complain . . .

We have to make things in America to make America great again. Tax reform is the key to making that happen.

In effect, taxes, whether border adjustment or value added, have become the new tariffs.  But if one is to look at it rationally, tariffs were always taxes.  In fact, after the American Revolution, the first tax the US Government used to run the government was tariffs on imported goods.

The fact that border adjustment taxes will hurt retailers is evidenced by Trump’s criticism of large internet retailer Amazon when he stated that Amazon will have “such problems” during his Presidency because of this new tax system.  Jeff Bezos, who owns Amazon also owns the Washington Post, and that newspaper has not been Trump’s friend.

The argument against the DBCFT is made by Brian Garst in the attached article, CFP_PolicyBrief_Border_Adjustment, entitled the “Political and Economic Risks of a Destination-Based Cash Flow Tax,” published in January 2017.  In the Article, Brian Garst argues:

The DBCFT would be a new type of corporate income tax that disallows any deductions for imports while also exempting export-related revenue from taxation.  This mercantilist system is based on the same “destination” principle as European value-added taxes, which means it is explicitly designed to preclude tax competition. . . . This mercantilist approach typically is associated with credit-invoice value-added taxes (VATs) that exist in European nations.

Garst goes on to state that in addition to retailers another target industry is energy because the United States is a net importer of oil and petroleum products.  Trump might argue, however, that when he is done cutting regulations the United States will be a net exporter of oil and petroleum products.  But Garst also points out that when other countries adopt the DBCFT, there will be more taxes on US exports.

More importantly, Garst points out what happens when the Democrats come back into power:

“In this case, left-leaning politicians would see the DBCFT not as something to be undone, but as a jumping off point for new and higher taxes.  A highly probable outcome is that the United States’ corporate tax environment becomes more like Europe, consisting of both consumption and income taxes.”

Garst goes on to add that the eventual result of higher taxes, no matter what they are called, is bigger government and slower economic growth.

On December 19, 2016, however, Chairman Brady of House Ways and Means stated that U.S. companies that rely on imports will “have to adjust” to a House Republican plan and that such a plan is a priority of the Trump Administration.  As Brady stated on a December 18th CSPAN program:

“We cannot leave in place any tax policies that encourage our companies to move their operations overseas just to sell back to the United States.  We want to listen to and find solutions with those who rely a lot on imported goods coming into America.”

The plan would apply a 20 percent corporate tax to revenues earned from goods and services consumed within the United States, while exempting economic activity outside the U.S, amounting to a 15 percent cut in the nominal corporate tax rate and eliminating corporate taxes on U.S. exports.

The opposition to this new tax system is not only from retailers but from US producers, which either assemble products in the US from imported parts or use cheaper raw materials to produce competitive value added products.  Many manufacturing groups that rely on global supply chains, such as Boeing and other companies, should be very concerned about this new policy.

But the border adjustment tax proposal has allowed Trump to call out automobile companies, such as GM, which produce substantial cars in Mexico and praise Ford Motor Co. for its decision to scrap plans for a $1.6 billion factory in Mexico.  The threat of a border adjustment tax is enough during this Presidential transition period to cause US companies to bring production back to the US.

Many businesses that rely on imported raw materials or component parts, will not be able to deduct the cost of imported goods under the GOP plan, the full value of these goods is taxed instead of just the value added in the U.S.  This means that even if Congress lowers the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to the Republicans’ proposed 20% or 15%, companies could still see an effective increase in their tax rates.

Jennifer Safavian, the executive vice president of government affairs at the Retail Industry Leaders Association, recently made this point stating:

“With this tax on imports, we actually will see our effective tax rate increase.  It will increase, in some cases, double or three times the amount we’re paying right now. Some companies are concerned that they will actually have to go out of business because they’ll owe more in taxes than they’ll actually bring in in income.”

COULD MANUFACTURING RETURN TO THE UNITED STATES?

As stated above, during just this Presidential transition period, the threat of border adjustment taxes and a dramatic change in trade policy, along with cuts to corporate taxes to as low as 15 to 25% and regulations rollback, has caused many companies, such as Ford, Softbank, Fiat, Sprint and Carrier, to announce their reduction or abandonment of offshore production and their movement back to the United States.  Jack Ma at Alibaba also met with Trump to state that he believes 1 million more jobs can be added in the US from small and medium size business.

In December 2016, small business optimism in the United States has soared to levels not seen in over ten years.  The National Federation of Independent Business Index jumped 7.4 points in December the highest since 2004.  Trump and Congress are using carrots and sticks to move US production and jobs back to the United States.

With almost 40% of the US population on some form of welfare, the situation has to change.  Even here in Seattle, one dramatic example of the state of economy during the Obama Administration has been the dramatic rise in homeless camps.  The election of Trump means change.  And change it will be.

Recently, a Chinese entrepreneur asked me how could manufacturing move from China back to the United States because China has so many advantages.  In October 2016, Fuyao Glass announced a $1 billion investment into Moraine Ohio and Plymouth Michigan to start producing windshields in the United States.  When Chinese media and the government asked the owner Cho Tak Wong why he was moving production to the United States.  There were two answers: higher wages in China and higher tax rates.

Wages in China have steadily moved upward and the lower wage countries now are Vietnam, Bangladesh and other countries.  Much of China’s textile manufacturing capability has moved to Bangladesh in the search of lower wages.

Another major problem in China is taxes.  Although the US has the highest corporate tax rate of 35% in the developed countries, higher than China, China has corporate tax rates ranging from 25 to 33%.  More importantly, China has a personal income tax rate of 45% with US tax rates for the highest incomes ranging from 35 to 39.6%.

When I started working in China in the 1990s and all the way until about 5 to 10 years ago, although the tax rates were high, the Chinese government was very liberal on deductions.  The more expenses the company and the person had, the lower the actual tax rate.  Thus Chinese employees were always looking for a “fapiao”, a receipt so that they could claim expenses.

But several years ago, the Chinese government cracked down and started to enforce the actual tax rates.  High tax rates give companies and individuals a real incentive to leave the place where they are located.  Residents vote with their feet.  We can see that in the United States, where high tax rates in the states of New York and California have caused companies and people to move to lower tax states like Texas and Washington State, which has no state personal income tax.  An old economic saying, when you tax more of anything, you get less of it.

China and the United States are competing with other countries to attract foreign investment and even domestic investment in their own countries.  Higher tax rates and excessive regulations cause companies to move and seek better places to produce products.

Another reason to move to another country is trade restrictions.  In the early 2000s, Windshields from China were hit with a US antidumping case.  I represented two companies in the case, Xinhe and Benxun; Fuyao was represented by another law firm.  Antidumping rates in this case went down to single digits and eventually the case went away.  But this does not mean a new case could not be brought.

Fuyao coming to the US to escape potential US trade cases is nothing new.  Many, many Japanese companies, including automobile companies, Toyota and Honda, auto part companies, such as Nippon Denso, television producers, such as Sanyo, portable electric typewriter companies, such as Brother, and photography companies, such as Fuji, set up production operations in the United States to get around US antidumping orders and other trade restrictions.  In fact, Chinese solar companies, such as Wanxiang Energy, have started producing solar panels in the United States to get around move US antidumping and countervailing duty orders against Chinese solar cells and solar panels.

So manufacturing can move back to the United States if the business environment is better than other countries.  When companies move back to the US and economic growth increases significantly, all boats rise and that means more good paying jobs and the average American will do better.

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

TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES IS NOT TAA FOR WORKERS

In my blog post last month, an open letter to the new Commerce Department secretary was included about the Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program.  It is important, however, to distinguish TAA for Companies from TAA for Workers.  The two programs are very different.

TAA for Workers is government money given to displaced workers to retrain workers.  On January 12, 2017, Jamie Dimon of Chase spoke out on Good Morning American about TAA for Workers.  In the past when Dimon has spoken out for TAA for Workers, financial publications, such as Forbes, have spoken out against the program because they view the $711 million program as an entitlement, a handout to workers, that does not save jobs.

The TAA for Firms/Companies program, however, is very different from the TAA for Workers program because the objective of TAA for Companies is to save the company and by saving the company save the jobs that go with that company.  I believe that publications, like Forbes, might change their tune if they knew that President Reagan probably personally approved the TAA for Firms/Companies program.  Why do I say this? Jim Munn.

Congress started the TAA adjustment assistance programs in 1962 as part of the Trade Expansion Act and as a means of securing support for the Kennedy Round of multilateral trade negotiations.  Trade Adjustment Assistance essentially was a tradeoff.  If Unions and Workers would support trade liberalization, including free trade agreements, workers would be compensated because of the disruption caused by increased imports.

In the early 1980s, President Reagan himself put in requirements to set up standards so that Trade Adjustment Assistance for Workers would not simply be an open ended entitlement.   President Reagan, however, was puzzled by the TAA for Companies and asked an old friend, Jim Munn, here in Seattle to look into the program.

As stated in the attached 2002 obituary, JIM MUNN, Jim Munn was a famous criminal lawyer in Seattle and an early supporter and personal friend of Ronald Reagan.  I am now on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”).  When I started my involvement in NWTAAC, I was told that the Center was in place because President Reagan himself asked Jim Munn to look into the program.

Both President Reagan and Jim Munn were firmly opposed to government interference in the marketplace.  What did Jim Munn discover when he looked into the Trade Adjustment Assistance Program for Companies?  It works.  Jim Munn decided to head up NWTAAC for the next 22 years.

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

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.

An article from David Holbert, Executive Director Northwest TAAC, below states how the program works in more detail.

IMPORTS HAVE LANDED – SOMETHING HAS TO CHANGE

David Holbert, Executive Direct Northwest TAAC

The issue of trade competition and lost jobs is well discussed in the media.  I work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are negatively affected by import competition, what is often called “trade impact” in policy lingo. It’s a big issue. According to the U.S Trade Representative, the United States’ 30 million SMEs account for nearly two-thirds of net new private sector jobs in recent decades. This is one in a series of posts about trade impact.

In a previous post I talked about recognizing trade impact. Once a company figures out that imports are the cause of sales declines, they must respond. That response depends on the specifics of the trade threat.

Companies work within a set of cost and market access factors. Where those factors are shared, a new competitor or an established one upping their game, is usually a manageable theat. Some alteration in course might be recommended, but it is all in the range of expectations in a competitive landscape. Imports, however, generally perceive a significant advantage before they enter a market – whether that’s in design, technology, scale, or cost. Extreme cost differentials tend to be the province of imports and, more specifically, imports from low-labor cost, low-regulation sources. New arriving imports tend to be very strong competitors if not disrupters.

Before the imports arrived, customers had seen value in the available options. Now those customers can see a better cost-benefit exchange with the imported product.  Unattended, the new entrant (the import) will gain market share – the only questions are how much and how fast.

Imports may have any of several weaknesses:

  • Importers are probably bearing a loss producing level of initial expense to establish a brand, set up sales capability, and establish distribution and service networks. The domestic company already is established, or can become so more easily.
  • Importers often have to order and ship in large quantities. It takes time for delivery to occur. What is an advantage in a standard product/price sensitive segment is a disadvantage in a customized / price elastic segment. Customization is almost always an advantageous capability for the domestic company
  • Importer service capability and quality can be weak. Service can be a challenge for those in different time zones, and speaking different languages. In low-cost economies, businesses often display a culture that values cost and quantity over all else. Quality and service are likely comparative strengths of the domestic company.

If the price differential is minor, improvements in operations without changing the business model may close the gap. The challenge is not less urgent, just less extensive. Every business I’ve worked with has a list of pending improvements. Now would be the time to implement some of these. Topping the list would the ones that lead to revenue faster. At this stage, the domestic company is probably losing sales. To the extent that you need a “plan”, that list is probably it. Let’s call it the minimum required response.

If the price differential is large, the business will face the uncharted territory of strategic change. That change will likely affect product, systems, processes, distribution, promotion, and pricing.  In other words, everything.

Just as every business owner has a list of pending improvements, they also have more than one idea about a serious change in course. That is very likely an incomplete list. How could it be otherwise? Whatever the right change may be, the confidence to take that leap will almost certainly be absent. That is where TAA comes in.  Most people don’t realize how thin of a line of viability businesses walk. It took a lot to get to the point where things work. A lot of what seemed like good ideas were proven wrong along the way. Changing that formula under conditions of less than certainty and necessity is almost always a bad idea. With trade impact, a business may have a condition of necessity. Now that business has to work on certainty.

It is not exactly clear how to get to that state of envisioning a strategic change with confidence and assurance. For a business owner, this is a life’s work. For the record, there are consultants that are capable in this area. Not that hiring in help is necessarily a solution.  What is clear is that a full range of options and information supporting them become precious commodities.

Here are how some companies with TAA help dealt with trade impact:

A commercial products company makes a specialized tool and faced a sudden entry of imports at close to half the price. The company’s plan was to radically improve operations in the same market position. The owners had been complacent in a mature market. The plan included such actions as developing an automated version of the tool, emphasizing service and parts replacement capability, and revising sales and promotion activity. This works in commercial markets because buyers are informed and easily value factors like quality, service, and durability.

A contract manufacturer that machines metal parts specializing in titanium had lost their single industry customer base to imports. The owner recognized that their capabilities would be valued in the aerospace industry. Achieving AS9100 (aerospace industry quality certification) was an essential step. Entering the industry and becoming known among buyers was the larger challenge. This works because at the time aerospace was growing in the region.

  • A nut grower was priced out of its commodity market position by imports. The owners had thought of packaging for consumers and private labeling. With TAA help, they gained the confidence to proceed. It was exactly the right move –they removed a layer of distribution and gained back their profit margin. The company grew at tech industry rates.
  • A safety products producer was being displaced in large retailers by imports priced about 50% lower. With outside TAA consultants, they developed a radical plan to concentrate on commercial uses of their products that emphasized perpetual restocking rather than consumer products as final articles. This entailed converting from producing hundreds of low-cost, finished products a week to producing dozens of high-cost units and thousands of micro-orders of replacement articles. The company reversed sales declines in a surprisingly short time.

Threats from imports tend to be severe. They may have an insurmountable cost advantage. Under these conditions, the domestic company cannot win by just trying harder – something has to change. The first thing that has to change is the plan for the business. Deferred improvements might become urgent necessities. Incompletely conceived ideas about a change in the business model might have to be seriously considered. In future posts, I’ll talk about challenges of implementation.

Our role at the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center is to help small and medium-sized companies that are negatively affected by trade. Sometimes called “made in America grants” this federal program offers a matching fund for outside expertise of up to $75,000 for qualifying companies.  NWTAAC serves companies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. You can learn more about us at NWTAAC.org.

NEW US WTO CASE AGAINST ALUMINUM FROM CHINA

On January 12, 2017, in the attached notice, Obama Administration Files WTO Complaint on China’s Subsidies to Aluminum Produ, USTR announced that it was bringing a WTO case against China for its subsidies to aluminum producers.  As the notice states in part:

United States Trade Representative Michael Froman announced today that the United States has launched a new trade enforcement complaint agains the People’s Republic of China at the World Trade Organization (WTO) concerning China’s subsidies to certain producers of primary aluminum.  This action follows numerous bilateral eforts by the Obama Adminisration to persuade China to take strong seps to address the excess capacity situation in its aluminum sector.  The complaint fled today begins a process to address U.S. concerns that China’s subsidies appear to have caused “serious prejudice” under WTO rules to U.S. interests by artifcially expanding Chinese capacity, production and market share and causing a significant lowering in the global price for primary aluminum. Today’s announcement marks the 16th trade enforcement challenge the Obama Adminisration has launched agains China at the WTO.

“This lates challenge once again demonsrates the Obama Adminisration’s unwavering commitment to ensuring a fair and level playing field for American workers and businesses,” said United States Trade Representative Michael Froman. “Artifcially cheap loans from banks and low-priced inputs for Chinese aluminum are contributing to excess capacity and undercutting American workers and businesses. Today’s action follows significant engagement by this Adminisration on excess capacity and demonstrates our commitment to hold China to its trade obligations. Our record of tough enforcement with China speaks for itself: When China cheats, we’ve been right there, securing recourse for our workers, farmers, ranchers and businesses. This is the 16th time we have taken action agains China at the WTO, and we’ve won every challenge that has been decided.”

CANADA AND JAPAN JUMP INTO CHINA’S WTO CASE AGANST THE US AND EC FOR FAILURE TO GIVE CHINA MARKET ECONOMY STATUS IN AD AND CVD CASES

As indicated in the past blog post, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, from the Chinese point of view December 11, 2016 is the date when countries can no longer treat China as a nonmarket economy under their antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) law.  Neither the United States nor the EC declared China a market economy country on December 11th so predictably China filed a WTO complaint against the US and EC over their price comparison methodologies used in their AD and CVD laws.

On January 5, 2017, Canada and Japan decided to jump into the WTO case as third-party observers, citing the case’s potential to dramatically alter global antidumping laws.  As Canada stated in its announcement:

“In many cases, Canadian exports to the United States compete directly with exports from China. As a result, Canada has a substantial trade interest in these proceedings which concern the ability of U.S. investigating authorities to properly determine normal values for allegedly dumped Chinese exports.”

As the Japanese Government stated:

“The legal basis of China’s complaint identified in its requests, if accepted, appears to affect anti-dumping investigation practice of many WTO Members … and in turn have substantial impact on international trade involving products originating in China.  Japan is one of the major importers of goods … from China and one of the users of anti-dumping measures.”

The dispute is at the consultation stage, but will soon move on to a WTO panel.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

With the election of Donald Trump, as stated in my last newsletter, 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.

CHINA

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.2016.47 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2016.48 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.01 Team’s newsletter-EN Vol.2017.02.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

BASKETBALL BACKBOARD COMPONENTS

On December 30, 2016, in the attached ITC notice, BASKETBALL 337, Lifetime Products, Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against Russell Brands, LLC d/b/a Spalding, Bowling Green, Kentucky; and Reliable Sports Equipment (Wujiang) 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–TRUMP, APPOINTMENTS, TRADE POLICY, TAA FOR COMPANIES, CHINA NME AT WTO, SOLAR CELLS, HARDWOOD PLYWOOD, CYBERHACKING, TRADE CASES IN CHINA, CANADA AND MEXICO

US Capital Pennsylvania Avenue After the Snow Washington DCTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR DECEMBER 19, 2016

Dear Friends,

This newsletter contains several articles about trade and Trump after his victory on November 8th.  As mentioned in my last blog post, the Trump victory will have a significant impact on trade policy.  The TPP is dead.

But the next question is how will Trump help revive manufacturing in the United States and help the Rust Belt states, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Ohio, which put him in the White House?

Will there be a trade war with China and other countries?  Trump’s tough talk on the One China policy indicates a trade war, but his appointments to the US Ambassador to China and to the Commerce Department Secretary indicate the contrary.  Trump, however, may be trying to use uncertainty to create leverage and a deal with the Chinese government on trade and other issues.

Will Trump use taxes to give US manufacturing an advantage at the detriment of imports?

Trump will try and do everything possible to increase jobs in the United States.  Hopefully, that will mean more support to Trade Adjustment Assistance for Companies, which is the only effective US trade remedy that saves companies and the jobs that go with them without damaging US downstream production.

In addition, this blog post describes the recent WTO complaint China filed against the United States and the EC for failing to give it market economy status under the US and EC antidumping and countervailing duty laws.  The newsletter also gives the upcoming deadlines under the Solar Cells and Hardwood Plywood cases against China.

Under the Universal Trade War theme, under China is an article on ways in which the Chinese government can retaliate against US companies in the trade war and newsletters from a Chinese law firm.  In addition, under Canada attached is an article from Dan Kiselbach, a Canadian trade lawyer, about whether the Trump Administration can truly get out of NAFTA and also information about the recent Softwood Lumber Case against Canada.  Finally, from Mexico there is information about a recent Carbon Steel Pipe and Tube case filed against imports from Korea, India, Spain and Ukraine, along with a brief description of Mexican antidumping law.

Finally, there is an announcement from the Justice Department about the accomplishments in the recent US/China meetings on Computer Hacking and also recent 337 intellectual property cases against China.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE AND TRADE POLICY

TRUMP AND TRADE – A BULL IN A CHINA SHOP OR A SAVVY NEGOTIGATOR?

On December 2, 2016, President-elect Donald Trump took a phone call from President Ing Wen Tsai of Taiwan.  Trump’s decision to take the phone call from the Taiwan President created a fire storm as commentators questioned whether the United States would stick to the “one China” policy that implies that Taiwan is a part of China and that the long term relationship between China and the US would change.

In response, many commentators wrote articles suggesting that Trump was a “Bull in a China shop”, a clumsy inexperienced person taking actions without thinking about consequences.  Chinese media called Trump “an ignorant child.”

It has since come out that the specific phone call with President Tsai had been discussed for several months and set up by former Republican Congressional leader Bob Dole.  In fact, in addition to taking the call from President Tsai, President-elect, Trump met with Henry Kissinger, who is serving as a liaison for the Chinese government.

Instead of a Bull in China Shop, what President-Elect Donald Trump may have been trying to do with China is create a perception of strength and set up a sense of uncertainty.  What is Trump going to do?

President Ronald Reagan was a master at playing a similar game.  Projecting strength and also a feeling of uncertainty.  What is Reagan going to do?  Reagan’s projection of strength and uncertainty created agreements with Russia that led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

A projection of strength and a sense of uncertainty gives Trump something Reagan had—leverage, which makes it easier to negotiate better deals.

On December 11. 2016, Trump stated on Fox News:

“I fully understand the ‘one China’ policy, but I don’t know why we have to be bound by a One China policy unless we make a deal with China having to do with other things, including trade.”

Companies and countries should not make the mistake that many in the mainstream US media have made.  Do not underestimate Donald Trump.  He is not an ignorant child and many of his advisors are very knowledgeable about China.  Trump wants a deal with China and he will not give something for nothing.

TRUMP’S APPOINTMENTS DO NOT INDICATE A TRADE WAR WITH CHINA

BRANSTAD TO BE AMBASSADOR TO CHINA

Through his appointments, Trump is indicating that he realizes how important the relationship is with China and he intends to appoint experts that understand China.  On December 7th at a “Thank You” rally in Iowa, President-elect Trump announced that six term Iowa Governor Terry Branstad will be his pick for Ambassador to China.  Governor Branstad has personally known Chinese President Xi Jinping since 1985 when Branstad was governor of Iowa and Xi was an agricultural official in northern China. For two weeks, Xi stayed with a family in the town of Muscatine, Iowa, an experience he likes to recall when visiting the State.  Subsequently he met with Gov. Branstad in 2012 as vice chairman of the Chinese government.

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang welcomed Branstad as an “old friend of the Chinese people” playing “a bigger role in China–U.S. relations”.

Branstad is also a friend of Trump, working actively on Trump’s campaign.  During the general election, his son, Eric Branstad, managed Trump’s campaign in the state. Trump then won in Iowa, 51% of the vote to 42% for Clinton.

This appointment may be a signal that President-elect Trump does not want a trade war with China because Iowa has $2.3 billion in exports to China mostly agricultural exports, including corn and soybeans.  Trump’s selection of Branstad for the most important diplomatic position to China suggests that the president-elect wants to keep negotiating channels open with Beijing, rather than adopt a knee jerk confrontational attitude

On December 8, 2016, at a speech in Iowa, which can be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-rPh9YG3AmY, Trump stated:

“One of the most important relationships we must improve and we have to improve is our relationship with China.  The nation of China is responsible for almost of half of America’s trade deficit.

China is not a market economy they got a lot of help and that is why we designate them as being them as a nonmarket economy.  Big thing.”

Trump went on to state, that the Chinese government has not “played by the rules, and they know it’s time that they’re going to start.” Trump went on to cite that China was responsible for “massive theft of intellectual property,” “putting unfair taxes on our companies,” “massive devaluation of their currency” and “product dumping”.

Trump further stated that the Ambassador he was going to appoint to China has “lots of friends there”.  According to Trump, Branstad requested that Trump not speak ill of China because in Iowa “we do well with China”.

Trump also stated that he is looking to work on the relationship between China and the US and that Governor Branstad “knows China and likes China” and “knows how to deliver results.”  Trump went on to state that Governor Branstad is highly respected by Chinese officials and a great friend of mine.

Donald Trump finished by stating “We’re going to have mutual respect, and China is going to benefit and we’re going to benefit. And Terry is going to lead the way.”

As the phone call with President Tsai of Taiwan indicates and his statement to Fox News, Trump is no push over.  There is a new strong President in town so do not try and bully him.  This President has options.

On the other hand, during the Primary and even after the election, well-respected conservative newspapers and commentators have stated that President Trump has to be careful not to create a trade war, especially with China.  As recently as November 30, 2016, in Investors Business Daily, the one newspaper that projected a Trump victory prior to the election, two commentators, Congressman David Mcintosh and Scott Linicome in an article entitled “Trump Should Tread Softly On His New Trade Agenda” stated:

“exploiting ambiguities in the current web of U.S. trade laws to enact the President’s trade priorities by executive fiat could engender opposition from Congress, the U.S. business community and U.S. trading partners, thus leading to court challenges similar to those fled by the Republican Congress against President Obama’s executive actions on immigration.

The crucial difference, however, is that the months of uncertainty surrounding the trade challenges would imperil trillions of dollars’ worth of goods and services, especially if the courts refused to enjoin the executive branch from acting while any such litigation is pending.”

WILBUR ROSS—NEXT COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SECRETARY

In addition, as explained in more detail below, Trump has decided to appoint billionaire private equity investor Wilbur Ross, a Warren Buffet type, to be the next Commerce Department Secretary.  Trump’s decision to appoint Ross, a brilliant investor, industry expert and deal maker, indicates a decision to put trade/business professionals at the highest level in his Administration, who are very experienced with regard to business, international competition and China.

Ross was one of the important creators of Trump’s economic plan, which the campaign claimed will increase federal revenues by $1.7 trillion.  With regards to Tariffs, Ross has specifically stated:

“Tariffs will be used not as an end game but rather as a negotiating tool to encourage our trading partners to cease cheating.  If, however, the cheating does not stop, Trump will impose appropriate defensive tariffs to level the playing field.”

In this video interview with the Epoch Times, Wilbur Ross himself shows a great knowledge of the US relationship with China, http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1751796-billionaire-investor-wilbur-ross-china-still-lags-us-in-innovation/.  In the video, Ross acknowledges that although China has made progress, the US is the most innovative country in the World.  Ross also states that in 2003 when he spoke out against China he was acquiring the majority interest in Bethlehem Steel and he was against Chinese companies’ product dumping:

“namely selling products for less in a foreign market than their true price in your domestic market.

That’s the kind of activity that we think should be protected against. We are generally free market people but what was happening back in the early 2000s with steel and what is starting to happen again, is that product was actually being sold in this country for less than the total cost of manufacturing it.

That’s not legitimate competition. If someone can make things more inexpensively in their country and sell it here that’s fine with me. But it shouldn’t be that they have one price in their country and a lower price outside.”

In the video Ross further states that the reason China was dumping is:

“they had a period of overcapacity and because China is so much about jobs as opposed to profits, it was very important for the government to maintain jobs. So to maintain jobs they had to maintain production, even though there was not enough demand for it. The way they tried to solve the problem was by dumping it outside.”

Ross is correct that with its large overcapacity, most Chinese steel companies were dumping and probably at very high rates.  But as indicated below, since the Commerce Department continues to treat China as a nonmarket economy and refuses to look at actual costs and prices in China, no one knows for certain which Chinese companies are truly dumping and what the real dumping rate of the Chinese companies is.

With regard to Chinese innovation, Ross indicates that he is very knowledgeable about China stating:

“China is coming along in terms of innovation. They now have the world’s biggest and fastest computer. That would have been unimaginable a decade ago. They’ve launched spaceships into outer space. They have not yet gotten to be as innovative as the United States is, nobody has been as innovative. Year after year the United States gets more patents than any other country by a wide margin. Interestingly, it’s Japan that comes in second.”

As to why China lags the US in innovation, Ross states:

“The United States is basically a free market economy and their entrepreneurship has been highly prized here for centuries and centuries so there’s a real tradition of risk-taking. Innovation involves a lot of risk-taking.

A state-owned enterprise is much less likely to be a big risk-taker then private capital. Since China had been so dominated by the state-owned enterprises it’s hard in a big bureaucratic system to be innovative. Look at the U.S. government itself, what interesting innovations have they come up with?”

Being a Warren Buffet type and very involved in the US Stock market, Wilbur Ross also has very educated views about the problems with the China Stock Market:

We think that China has two separate problems right now. One is the market itself, the equity market, and that got completely out of control. . . .

I think what then happened, the government seemed to have panicked and made lots and lots of very panicky moves. They first raised the margin requirement then they lowered it. They threw hundreds of billions of dollars into the market. Now they’re prosecuting people who spread negative stories about the market.

I think the difficulty with all that is, when a government shows signs of panic, particularly a government that historically has been able to control what happens pretty well, when that government shows panic it makes people more frightened, not less frightened.

Like many China experts, Ross believes that China’s growth numbers are not accurate:

The Chinese economy clearly is not growing at anything like 7 percent. We have felt for a couple of years that those figures were very, very generous. If you look at physical indicators—electricity consumption, natural gas consumption, oil consumption, cement consumption, steel consumption, telecom consumption, retails sales—if you look at all those indicators, none of them were growing at a rate that was equal to 7 percent and neither were the exports.

With regard to economic reform in China, Ross states:

I think what they’re trying to do is several things all at once and that makes it very challenging.

They’re trying to become more of a consumer-driven economy, but the reality is that their largest driver is capital investment. It’s hard to make that transition because capital investment is still about 44 percent of the economy.

They’re trying to make the transition, but meanwhile they’re doing the very- much-needed anti-corruption drive and that in a strange way has hurt consumer spending.  . . .

I think they’ll get there, just that the transition is a hard one. Meanwhile there is super-imposed upon it, the economic issues in the rest of the world. Combined with China’s rising labor costs and the very strong currency, make it very difficult to be an exporter.

These responses along with the video indicate that Ross is not a knee-jerk protectionist and has a deep knowledge of China, which does not indicate a trade war any time soon.

COULD TAXES BE THE WAY TRUMP MAKES US INDUSTRY GREAT AGAIN

On the other hand, Trump and Republicans in Congress may be creating an alternative to tariffs to spur US manufacturing and that is taxes.  In the Congress, one proposal in the House Republicans’ tax-reform plan is to give American-made products a big tax advantage over their foreign competitors.  Although some commentators have pointed to a potential trade war, Ways and Means Chairman Kevin Brady stated, “We are now in the process of designing all aspects of our ‘Build for Growth’ tax plan to withstand any WTO challenge. We’re confident we can win any case.”

The key issue is a plan to fundamentally remake the tax system by taxing US companies based on where they sell their goods, not where the business happens to be located. As part of that, Republican tax legislators want to include what experts call “border adjustments” — new taxes on imports as well as tax rebates on exports.  This plan would replace the current corporate tax code with something known among experts as a “border-adjustable, destination-based” tax system.  Under their proposal, imports would be charged the same 20 percent tax that domestic companies would face. Exports would be excused from taxes.  It would amount to a fundamental change, with the government taxing companies based on where they sell their wares, rather than where the business is located.

According to tax experts, this new tax plan would offset inversions and other types of international tax avoidance because companies would have less incentive to go to other countries looking for tax savings. The proposal would also finance a huge chunk of the Republicans’ overall tax plan — the Tax Policy Center estimates border adjustments would raise $1.2 trillion, making it the third-largest pay-for in the plan.

The proposal is already controversial because it threatens big tax increases to many large retailers, such as Walmart and Home Depot and other companies, which heavily rely on imports.

But critics say it would also violate free-trade agreements by favoring American-made goods over imports. That’s because, while they would all be subject to the same 20 percent tax, U.S. companies would be able to deduct the cost of workers’ pay when calculating their tax bills. Imports would not be given the same treatment and the difference could be dramatic.

If a U.S. company sold a product for $100 and it spent $70 on its workers’ pay, under the Republican plan the remaining $30 would be subject to the 20% tax. That would produce a $6 tax bill. An imported version of the same product would be forced to pay the 20% tax on the entire $100 sale, producing a $20 tax bill.

On December 7, 2016, Koch Industries came out against the Border Adjustment provision of the new tax overhaul with Philip Ellender, the head of government affairs at Koch Companies Public Sector LLC, stating that the so-called border adjustment proposal currently being considered by Republican lawmakers:

“would adversely impact American consumers by forcing them to pay higher prices on products produced in and goods imported to the U.S. that they use every single day.  While companies like Koch who manufacture and produce many products domestically would greatly benefit in the short-term, the long term consequences to the economy and the American consumer could be devastating.”

Another problem is the World Trade Organization (“WTO”) allows border adjustments for so-called indirect taxes on transactions, such as value-added taxes, but not on direct taxes, such as income taxes. The Republican plan is a hybrid, raising questions about how the WTO would categorize it.

Any change in US tax treatment could be challenged by other countries in the WTO as a violation of the WTO Agreement of most favored nation, which requires imports to be treated the same as domestically produced products.  If a WTO tribunal were to rule against the United States, the prevailing countries could be allowed to retaliate against US exports to account for the injury to their exports, which could be as high at $1.2 trillion.

But any challenge in the WTO will take years to litigate.  A good example of this is the Byrd Amendment.  The Byrd Amendment allowed US petitioner companies to get the dumping and countervailing duties collected by Customs.  The Byrd Amendment passed in 2000 and after WTO litigation resulting in possible retaliation by other countries against the United States, the Congress repealed the Byrd Amendment in December 2005 on 51 to 50 vote in the Senate with Vice President Cheney breaking the tie.  But for five years US petitioners collected the duties.

So instead of a direct protectionism using tariffs, any protectionism may be indirect, but it will have the same effect.  Give US companies a major incentive to produce their products in the US, rather than rely on imports.

But the real problem with the tax plan is international trade/globalization victimhood which will lead the companies not to make the changes they need to make to be competitive.  Just like the steel industry, US companies would continue to hunker down behind protectionist walls and never modernize their production to meet competition.  That is the problem.  As President Reagan himself observed, protectionism makes companies weaker not stronger and in the end does not save the companies and industries that are being protected.

On December 13th in a letter to Congress more than 50 retail and manufacturing associations urged Congress to abandon border tax adjustments saying the proposal to increase taxes on all imports could hurt domestic industry.  Although the retail groups argue that border tax adjustments could raise consumer prices, as the letter states the real problem is the impact of higher raw material costs on downstream US production:

“Companies that rely on global supply chains would face huge business challenges caused by increased taxes and increased cost of goods, which would in turn likely result in reductions in employment, reduced capital investments and higher prices for consumers.”

Congress does not care if prices for consumer products go up a few dollars at Walmart, but what happens when US downstream producers in Congressional districts are forced to close down because of higher raw material costs.  As one friend, who represented a major steel producer for years, told me, the total employment in the entire Steel industry is less than one high tech company and yet we want to protect the Steel industry at the expense of downstream high value added US production?

TRUMP APPOINTS WILBUR ROSS A PRAGMATIST TO BE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SECRETARY

As indicated above, President Elect Donald Trump has announced that he will appoint billionaire investor Wilbur Ross as the next Secretary of Commerce.  Ross is a pragmatist, not an ideologue, who understands and values the problems of the working class more than other capitalists.  As Ross states in the following video http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/1750905-billionaire-investor-wilbur-ross-on-the-people-factor-in-investing/:

“That man who has stood behind a machine for 15 or 20 years, he knows better than the people who built it, how to get more productivity out of it. So you need   to create an environment where he feels someone will pay attention if he makes a suggestion, and if it turns out to be a good suggestion, that he’ll be rewarded for it.”

Ross, worth $2.9 billion according to Forbes, has made his name in distressed assets investments and rose to fame turning around Bethlehem Steel for a short time as well as Burlington Industries.  Ross also worked closely with labor unions, stating:

“There’s a big misconception in management–labor relations throughout the industrial world; too often management and labor view each other as adversaries. We truly view labor as our partner because they only have one company they’re working with and we only have one group of workers.

So we think it’s very important that we have a good, functional relationship. We don’t negotiate with unions having a big battalion of lawyers and accountants and human relations people. We tend to negotiate mano-a-mano with the union leadership. Once we’ve worked out the essence of the deal, we then turn it over.”

Ross probably knows the Rust Belt better than any politician, one of the reasons why President-elect Trump picked him.   In the early 2000s he combined Acme Steel, LTV Steel, and Bethlehem Steel saving all of them from bankruptcy for a short period of time and returning the employees to the job but under new work rules and with 401(k)s instead of pensions.

Meanwhile, in early 2000, China suddenly had an insatiable demand for steel, combined with the U.S. automakers’ zero-percent financing push.  American steel was suddenly red hot. The price per ton of rolled steel soared and Ross took the new entity, ISG, public in December 2003.  Ross then sold ISG combined entity to Indian steel giant Mittal in 2005 for $4.5 billion.  As Ross stated:

“It’s nice being the chairman of a huge company in a vital industry. But it’s nicer to make fourteen times your initial investment in just two years.”

Eventually, however, Bethlehem Steel fell into bankruptcy.

OPEN LETTER TO NEW COMMERCE DEPARTMENT SECRETARY WILBUR ROSS— ONLY TRADE REMEDY PROGRAMS THAT SAVE US COMPANIES—TAA FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES AND MEP

The Honorable Wilbur Ross

New Commerce Department Secretary Trump Administration

Re: Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies and MEP– Only Trade Remedy Programs That Save US Companies

Dear Secretary Ross,

The Press reports that President-elect Donald Trump has nominated you to be the next Commerce Department secretary.  Your expertise in working with bankrupt US companies, such as Bethlehem Steel, gives the United States a unique chance to make its industry great again.

In the 1980s during the Reagan Administration, I worked at the Commerce Department and before that at the US International Trade Commission.  Since the 1980s, I have represented many US importers/foreign producers in international trade cases, including metal, chemical and steel products, and am now on the Board of Directors of the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center in Seattle, Washington, which provides assistance to US companies injured by imports.

In my experience, ultimately these unfair trade cases do not work.  Although they provide a breathing space, they do not save the companies and the jobs that go with them.  Importers simply switch to a new country.  Both of us have experience with Bethlehem Steel, which had 40 years of trade protection from steel imports through various antidumping and other trade orders.  Where is Bethlehem Steel today? Green fields.

But trade cases also create enormous collateral damage in downstream industries that need competitive raw material inputs.  Many US companies may use the cases to hide behind protectionist walls.  The “hunker down” mindset is not in America’s DNA.  Instead, this nation’s manufacturing businesses need to regain the competitive dynamism they once possessed. We need a new aggressive US manufacturing policy unleashing American global competitiveness to make companies strong enough to not only survive, but thrive in the US market.

A starting point would be for the Commerce Department to build upon two existing programs that have proven track records of success in this area that can be quickly ramped up and can have an immediate and tangible impact on the 250,000 small and medium manufacturing companies which serve as the bases of our supply chain: EDA’s Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms /Companies (“TAAF”) and NIST’s Manufacturing Extension Partnership Program (“MEP”) (inexplicably, these programs have been marginalized by the Obama Administration).  TAAF has 11 regional (multi-state) TAAF Centers but the program has been cut to only $12.5 million annually. The system has the band-width to increase to a run rate of $50 million.  Projecting a four-year ramp up of $90 million (FY18-FY21), the TAA program could serve an additional 2,150 companies.

No federal funds go to any companies in the program. In fact, companies are required to pay into the program by matching any federal monies on a dollar-for-dollar basis. This sharing of costs between Uncle Sam and the companies creates a pool of seed dollars subsequently used to hire outside professionals. These professionals create a series of knowledge-based projects aimed at permanently upgrading key business processes over the span of several years. Here’s the kicker – the program does not block imports in any way.

Does it work? Yes it does. In the Northwest, where I am located, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program since 1984. The Mid-Atlantic Trade Adjustment Assistance Center, 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.

NIST’s MEP program provides high quality management and technical assistance to the nation’s small manufacturers through independent Centers in every State and Puerto Rico, staffed by non-federal advanced manufacturing experts and is one of the remedies suggested by TAAF.  MEP reaches nearly 30,000 firms each year, and works intensively (think “McKinsey for manufacturers”) with nearly 10,000 of them.  As a consequence of a just completed nation-wide reinvention and reform of the program, MEP is positioned to assist even more companies.  Currently funded at $130 million, a commitment of $100 million over four years would serve an additional 8400 firms.  These funds could be targeted to those small and medium enterprises that are the base of our domestic supply chain, critical to your overall reshoring agenda.  Like the TAAF program, no MEP funds go directly to the companies, which instead are required to cost share the cost of expert consultants.  They have “skin in the game”.

Increasing funding will allow the TAA for Firms/Companies and the MEP programs to expand their bandwidth and provide relief to larger enterprises, including possibly even steel producers.  If companies that use steel can be saved, why can’t those who produce it?

Attached is a longer proposal on how to expand TAA for Firms/Companies and the MEP Program to make US companies more competitive again.

I wish you great success in your new appointment.  It gives me a level of confidence for the future of America’s manufacturing base that hasn’t been felt for quite some time.

I hope that the above has been of some interest. I would consider it an honor to expand on it in person if you think it appropriate.

Very truly yours,

William Perry

CHINA SUES US AND EC IN WTO FOR FAILURE TO GIVE CHINA MARKET ECONOMY STATUS IN AD AND CVD CASES ON DECEMBER 11, 2016

As indicated in past blog posts, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, from the Chinese point of view December 11, 2016 is the date when countries can no longer treat China as a nonmarket economy country under their antidumping (“AD”) and countervailing duty (“CVD”) law.  Neither the United States nor the EC declared China a market economy country on December 11th so predictably China has filed a WTO complaint against the US and EC over their price comparison methodologies used in their AD and CVD laws.

On December 12, 2016, in the attached notice, wto-2016-news-items-china-files-wto-complaint-against-us-eu-over-price-comp, the WTO announced:

“China notified the WTO Secretariat that it had requested dispute consultations with the United States and the European Union regarding special calculation methodologies used by the US and EU in anti-dumping proceedings.”

Pursuant to US antidumping law, since China is a nonmarket economy country, Commerce refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine whether a Chinese company is dumping.  Instead Commerce constructs a cost for the Chinese company using consumption factor information from China and “surrogate” values from import statistics in 5 to 10 different surrogate countries. In its proceedings, the Commerce Department can choose value data from different countries between a preliminary and final determination and between initial investigation to review investigation.   Because of the numerous surrogate values from many different surrogate countries, it is impossible for the Chinese company, never mind the US importer, to know whether the Chinese company is dumping.

As former USTR General Counsel Warren Maruyama recently stated:

“The nonmarket economy methodology tends to generate extremely high margins and a lot of Chinese companies have basically concluded that it’s futile to defend NME cases, so this is a dispute with extremely high stakes for both sides.”

The controversy surrounds Section 15 of the China WTO Accession Agreement, which originated from the US China WTO Accession Agreement, which provides:

Price Comparability in Determining Subsidies and Dumping . . .

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

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

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

In other words, pursuant to the China WTO Accession Agreement, Commerce’s right to us a nonmarket economy methodology in Article 15 (a)(ii) “shall expire 15 years after the date of accession”.  China acceded to the WTO on December 11, 2001 so Section 15(d) should have taken effect on December 11, 2016, but did not.

But where did the 15 years come from?  It came from a demand by the United States in the 2000 US China WTO negotiations and the resulting US-China WTO Accession Agreement. In fact, several years ago, former USTR Charlene Barshefsky, who negotiated the US China WTO Agreement, was asked at a conference in Beijing where the 15 years came from.  Her response was that she knew what she needed to get from the Chinese government to get the Agreement through Congress.  A USTR negotiator once told me that, in fact, this was “nonnegotiable demand” from the US government.  So you would think that the US government would follow the Agreement it negotiated with China and the demand that it made of the Chinese government.  Not so fast.

The United States’ apparent position is that although the 15 years was demanded by the US, since the 15 years is in not in a Treaty approved by Congress, the US does not have to follow the provision because it is not in the US Antidumping and Countervailing Duty law.

Iran has market economy status and has always been considered a market economy country.  Although once classified as nonmarket economy countries, Russia and Ukraine have market economy status under the US antidumping law.  Why and how did they become market economy countries?

For Russia, it was 911.  As a result, of the 911 attack the US government wanted Russian bases to attack Afghanistan.  President Putin told the United States Government make Russia a market economy country under the US antidumping law.  Secretary Evans of Commerce flew into Russia and said looks like a market economy to me.  See http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2032498.stm; http://www.themoscowtimes.com/business/article/washington-mulls-status-of-russias-economy/247431.html; http://www.russialist.org/archives/5545-4.php.

As CBS news stated about the announcement:

The Russian leader has aggressively pursued closer ties with the West since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, and many analysts had predicted the United States would grant Russia market economy status and help in its WTO bid in exchange for Putin’s strong support for the U.S.-led campaign in Afghanistan.

http://www.cbsnews.com/news/russia-joins-club-capitalism/

Sources in China reported that when he learned about the decision then Premier Zhu Rongyi in China was extremely angry, stating how could Russia get market economy before China?  The answer—politics and the Chinese know it.

What about Ukraine?  How did it get market economy?  Orange Revolution.  On February 17, 2006, Commerce determined that Ukraine is a market economy country.  See http://www.trade.gov/press/press_releases/2006/ukraine_021706.asp; 71 Fed. Reg. 9520 (February 24, 2006).

Regarding China’s challenged in the WTO, Nicholas R. Lardy, a senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, recently stated:

“I think this is potentially far more significant than most trade disputes … because the Chinese believe, with some justification, that they were promised something both verbally and in writing back at the time when they were negotiating their accession and now both Europe and the United States are walking away from it.”

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA PRELIMINARY DETERMINATION

On December 19, 2016, the Commerce Department issued the attached preliminary determination, 2014-2015-solar-cells-from-china-preliminary-determination, in the 2014-2015 antidumping revivew investigation on Solar Cells from China.  Trina received an antidumping rate of 7.72%, Canadian Solar 30.42% and separate rate companies received a rate of 13.97%, the weighted average of Trina and Canadian Solar’s dumping rates.  These are just preliminary rates and those rates can change in six months in a preliminary determination.

SOLAR CELLS FROM CHINA REVIEW INVESTIGATION STARTS THIS MONTH

As indicated in the attached Commerce Department review notice, december-2016-commerce-opportunity-to-request-reviews, this is the month to request review investigations in the Solar Cells ( formal name “Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Cells”) from China case.  Requests for review investigation must be filed at the Commerce Department by December 31st.

There has been much confusion about the difference between the Solar Cells case and the Solar Products (formal name “Crystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Products”) case.

The Solar Cells from China case covers exports and imports of Chinese Solar Panels with Chinese produced solar cells in them. The anniversary month is December to request a review investigation and the review period will cover imports and sales of Solar Cells to the United States during the period December 1, 2015 to December 31, 2016.

The Solar Products from China case covers exports and imports of Chinese Solar Panels with foreign produced solar cells in them. The anniversary month is February to request a review investigation and the review period will cover imports and sales of Solar Products to the United States during the period February 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017.

NEW HARDWOOD PLYWOOD AD AND CVD CASE AGAINST CHINA

On November 18th, the Coalition for Fair Trade in Hardwood Plywood and its individual members: Columbia Forest Products (Greensboro, NC), Commonwealth Plywood Inc. (Whitehall, NY), Murphy Plywood (Eugene, OR), Roseburg Forest Products Co. (Roseburg, OR), States Industries, Inc. (Eugene, OR), and Timber Products Company (Springfield, OR) filed an AD and CVD case against imports of hardwood plywood from China.

On December 9, 2016, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-prc-hardwood-plywood-products-ad-cvd-initiation-120916, the Commerce Department initiated the AD and CVD cases.  To get a separate antidumping rate in the AD case, Chinese companies must submit a quantity and value questionnaire by December 22, 2016 and a separate rates application by January 13, 2017.

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

STEEL TRADE CASES

On November 30, 2016, in the attached factsheet, factsheet-multiple-clt-plate-ad-final-113016, Commerce announced its affirmative final determinations in the AD investigations of imports of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey.  The Brazil AD rate is 74.52%.  The South African rate ranges from 87.72% to 94.14%.  The Turkey rate ranges from 42.02% to 50%.

FOREIGN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY LAW AND CASES

UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR CONTINUES

With the election of Donald Trump, as stated in my last newsletter, 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.

CHINA

HOW THE CHINESE GOVERNMENT CAN RETALIATE

What Happens When Trump Starts a Trade War with China

By Adams Lee, Partner, Harris Bricken

During the campaign, Donald Trump said “we can’t continue to allow China to rape our country” and vowed to aggressively fight back against China’s unfair trade practices. Trump promised his trade agenda would:

(1) declare China to be a currency manipulator,

(2) impose a 45 percent tariff on all Chinese imports into the U.S.,

(3) abandon/ renegotiate “bad” trade agreements such as the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), and

4) use the full arsenal of US trade laws against Chinese unfair trade practices.

President-elect Trump’s trade actions likely will raise many legal and policy questions.  Can he really do that? Should he do that? Will those actions achieve anything? Pundits, academics, lawyers, and ultimately U.S. judges will weigh in on these questions, but it is fair to assume China will not wait for the resolution of these questions.  Instead China likely will retaliate with its own actions. This post looks at three possible ways China could respond to any attempts under the Trump administration to get tough against China.

  • China’s AD/ CVD Actions

Unbeknownst to many, China has initiated many of its own antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) actions against the United States and other countries.  Having been on the receiving end of the most number of AD/CVD actions worldwide, China has incorporated into its own AD/CVD procedures some of the most effective techniques and practices from the AD/CVD investigations conducted by the U.S., EU, and other jurisdictions. For example, China’s AD questionnaires have burdensome and comprehensive sales and cost data requests, similar to, and even exceeding US practice. China’s AD/CVD margin calculation methodologies are as non-transparent as the EU’s margin calculations. China has even copied many of the annoying administrative practices of the US and EU such as giving only limited extensions, disregarding national holidays, or insisting on burdensome filing requirements (e.g., all documents of all filings must be fully translated into Chinese).

To date, China’s AD/CVD actions have largely been symbolic and timed to be initiated after specific U.S. actions against China.  Although many of China’s AD/CVD cases have involved well-known companies (e.g., Corning, Dupont, Tyson Foods, Cadillac), most of these cases have had only limited economic impact. For example, in 2010, China imposed AD/CVD duties against U.S. chicken broiler products after the U.S. imposed special safeguard duties against Chinese tires in 2009. Most of the U.S. exports to China were of chicken feet, which had limited demand in the U.S., other than as a byproduct to make animal feed.

More recent China AD/CVD actions, however, have had greater strategic economic impact.  After the US and EU filed AD/CVD actions against Chinese solar cells and modules in 2011, China retaliated by initiating its own AD/CVD actions against solar-grade polysilicon from the United States, EU and Korea. China’s AD/CVD action effectively closed off the largest export market for US polysilicon producers, and was a significant contributing factor to REC Silicon’s decision to shutter its polysilicon production operations in Washington and Montana.

Even more recently, China in late September announced preliminary AD duties of 33.8% and CVD duties of up to 10.7% against imports of U.S. distillers dried grains (DDGS), an ethanol by-product used as animal feed. The U.S exported $1.6 billion of DDGS to China in 2015.

China apparently already has an AD/CVD action prepared against U.S. soybeans exports to China and is just waiting for the right time to initiate the action. The U.S. is the largest producer and exporter of soybeans and exported over $10 billion of soybeans to China in 2015.  If Trump wants to get tough against China, US soybean producers may well become collateral damage in the latest round of the escalating US-China trade war.

  • China’s Antitrust Enforcement

Another option for China to respond against any anti-China trade actions from the U.S. would be through the enforcement of its antitrust laws.  Although China implemented its anti-monopoly law only in 2008, China has become increasingly active in reviewing mergers and investigating abuse of market dominance. In February 2015, Qualcomm paid $975 million fine to settle Chinese antitrust investigations into its alleged abuse of market dominant position.  In 2016, China’s antitrust authorities have targeted pharmaceuticals, medical devices, vehicle manufacturing, ocean shipping, and smart manufacturing as industries of particular concern.  U.S. companies operating in these industries should be aware of possible dawn raids of its corporate offices in China and other enforcement action by Chinese antitrust authorities. Because these industries are already prioritized for extra scrutiny, China could ramp up its antitrust enforcement actions as an indirect way to retaliate quickly against Trump’s actions against China.

  • China’s Criminal Enforcement

China could also retaliate by simply enforcing its own criminal laws against foreign (i.e., U.S.) company officials while in China. Earlier this month, China detained at least three employees of Crown Resorts, Ltd, an Australian gambling company, and will be pursuing criminal charges because under Chinese law casinos are not allowed to promote gambling in China or organize groups to go to casinos overseas. No one knows where and when the next China anti-corruption effort will occur, but foreign companies doing business in China in important or politically sensitive industries need to be extra cautious.  Company officials need to know which way the wind is blowing in China, particularly when Trump’s enflamed trade rhetoric may trigger Chinese backlash.

So far, although Trump has talked a lot about China, China has taken the high road noting that U.S.-China trade relations are “too big to fail”. China appears to be waiting to see if Trump’s actions will in fact harm China.  For example, Trump’s decision to abandon the Trans-Pacific Partnership actually opens the door for China to step in and fill the TPP void by promoting its own regional trade agreement (RCEP – Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership).  If, however, Trump does do anything that China considers excessive, it would be naïve to think China will do nothing.  Unlike the U.S.-Japan trade wars from the 1980s, China has a home market that is often the biggest export market for US producers. China has many options under its own laws to directly or indirectly retaliate against U.S. interests.  Anyone wishing to do business in China or with China should consider these risks that they could be targeted for symbolic retaliation in a spiraling US-China trade war.

CHINA AD/CVD NEWSLETTERS

Attached are newsletters teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-44, teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-45 teams-newsletter-en-vol-2016-46, from Chinese lawyer Roland Zhu and his trade group at the Allbright Law Office.

CANADA

LUMBER FROM CANADA CASE COMES BACK

On November 25, 2016, the Committee Overseeing Action for Lumber International Trade or Negotiations, the domestic lumber companies, filed an antidumping and countervailing petition against softwood lumber products from China.  In the attached notice, factsheet-canada-softwood-lumber-productsad-cvd-initiation-121616, on December 16, 2016, the Commerce Department initiated an antidumping and countervailing duty case on solftwood lumber products from Canada.

THE CANADIAN VIEW

In attached footnoted article, trumpnaftafinal, Dan Kiselbach, a well-known Canadian Trade and Customs lawyer, at Deloitte Tax Law in Vancouver, Canada discusses whether and how Trump can cancel NAFTA.

MEXICO

MEXICAN ANTIDUMPING CASE—CARBON STEEL TUBE FROM KOREA, SPAIN AND UKRAINE.

On December 15, 2016, in the attached notice in Spanish, dof-15-dic-16-resolucion-inicio-investig-antidumping-import-tuberia-de-a, the Mexican Government started up its own antidumping investigation against imports of carbon steel tube from Korea, India, Spain and Ukraine.  A large number of US companies have been named as respondent exporters.  All the exporters are named in pages 7 to 11 of the notice.

In the attached memorandum, carbon-steel-pipe-and-tube-mexicowhich will be attached in full on my blog, www.uschinatradewar.com, David Hurtado Badiola, a well known Mexican Trade and Customs lawyer, at Jauregui y Del Valle, S.C. in Mexico states:

Antidumping investigation on seamless carbon steel pipes, originating in Korea, Spain, India and Ukraine.

Below is a summary of the Initial Antidumping Resolution on seamless carbon steel pipes, produced in Korea, Spain, India and Ukraine, published today on the Federal Official Gazette.

The investigation is initiated today for importations of steel pipes described below, carried out at alleged dumping prices.

The products included in the investigation are seamless carbon steel pipes, with different diameters and thicknesses, classified under the following tariffs are:

Tariff fraction Description
Chapter 73 ARTICLES OF IRON OR STEEL
Heading 7304

Tubes, pipes and hollow profiles, seamless, of iron (other than cast iron) or Steel.

Line pipe of a kind used for oil or gas pipelines

Subheading 7304.19 Other

Tariff

7304.19.01

Hot-rolled tubes, uncoated or other surface-worked work, including Hot-drawn or lacquered: of an external diameter not exceeding o equal to 114.3 mm and a wall thickness equal to or exceeding 4 mm without exceeding 19.5 mm

Tariff

7304.19.02

Hot-rolled tubes, uncoated or other surface-worked work, including Hot-drawn or lacquered: of an external diameter

exceeding 114.3 mm but not exceeding 406.4 mm and having a wall thickness of 6,35 mm or more but not exceeding 38.1 mm .

Tariff

7304.19.99

The others.
Subheading 7304.39 Others, of circular cross-section, of iron or non-alloy steel:
Others.

Tariff

7304.39.05

Tubes known as “thermal” or “conducting” tubes, uncoated or surface-worked, including pipes called thermal or conducting, lacquered or varnished: of an external diameter not exceeding or equal to 114.3 mm and having a wall thickness equal to or greater than 4 mm, not to exceeding 19.5 mm.

Tariff

7304.39.06

Tubes known as “thermal” or “conducting” tubes, uncoated or surface-worked, including pipes called thermal or conducting, lacquered or varnished: of an external diameter greater than 114.3 mm not exceeding 406.4 mm and having a wall thickness equal to or greater than 6.35 mm, not to exceeding 38.1 mm.

Tariff

7304.39.99

Others.

There are two different periods covered in an antidumping investigation: (i) the investigated period and (ii) the analyzed period.

The investigated period covers importations from April 1, 2015 to March 31, 2016.

The analyzed period is a longer period that covers importations from April 1, 2013 to March 31 2016. This period is used to analyze injury caused by imports at dumping prices.

Every exporter that appears and files the information required is entitled to have its own dumping margin calculated.

Those exporters that do not appear or did not export in the investigated period shall be subject to the “all others rate”, equivalent to the highest duty imposed to the exporters of their country.

The term to file information in the official questionnaire and defense arguments expires on February 9, 2017.

If anyone is interested in participating in the case, please let me know and I will put them in touch with Mexican trade counsel.

COMPUTER HACKING

US AND CHINA MEETING

On December 8, 2016, the Justice Department issued a notice, on the recent high level Joint Dialogue between the United States and China on Cybercrime and Related Issues, which states:

Joint Summary of Outcomes

Yesterday, Attorney General Loretta E. Lynch and Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, together with Chinese State Councilor and Minister of the Ministry of Public Security Guo Shengkun, co-chaired the third U.S.-China High-Level Joint Dialogue on Cybercrime and Related Issues. The dialogue aims to review the timeliness and quality of responses to requests for information and assistance with respect to cybercrime or other malicious cyber activities and to enhance pragmatic bilateral cooperation with regard to cybercrime, network protection and other related issues.

Both sides endorse the establishment of the dialogue mechanism as beneficial to bilateral communication and enhanced cooperation, and believe that further solidifying, developing and maintaining the dialogue mechanism and continuing to strengthen bilateral cooperation in cybersecurity is beneficial to mutual interests.

The outcomes of the third dialogue are listed as below:

  1. Combatting Cybercrime and Cyber-Enabled Crime. Both sides re-commit to cooperate on the investigation of cyber crimes and malicious cyber activities emanating from China or the United States and to refrain from cyber-enabled theft of intellectual property with the intent of providing competitive advantages to companies or commercial To that end, both sides:
    • Plan to continue the mechanism of the “Status Report on S./China Cybercrime Cases” to evaluate the effectiveness of case cooperation.
    • Affirm that both sides intend to focus cooperation on hacking and cyber-enabled fraud cases, share cybercrime-related leads and information with each other in a timely manner, and determine priority cases for continued law enforcement cooperation. Both sides intend to continue cooperation on cases involving online distribution of child Both sides seek to expand cyber-enabled crime cooperation to counter Darkweb marketplaces’ illicit sale of synthetic drugs and firearms.
    • Seek to provide concrete and timely updates on cases brought within the ambit of the
    • Exchanged views on existing channels of multilateral cooperation, and intend to continue exchanges regarding this
  2. Network Both sides acknowledged the network protection seminar held in August 2016 in China, and believe that enhancing network protection is beneficial to both sides. Both sides suggest holding regular network protection working-level meetings, either remotely or in-person, the next of which should be planned for 2017. Both sides seek to promote the protection of our respective networks through multiple methods. To that end, both sides:
    • Plan to enhance network hygiene by promoting the cleaning and patching of malware infections in our respective networks and promoting best network protection
    • Propose to engage in regular reciprocal sharing of malicious IP addresses, malware samples, analytic products, and other network protection information, and to develop standard operating procedures to guide network protection
    • Seek to assess the effectiveness of information shared and provide substantive feedback to each side regarding the utility of that
    • Plan to provide Principals with regular summaries of network protection
    • Intend to continue discussion on future cooperation concerning cybersecurity of critical infrastructure, and to provide timely assistance on cybersecurity incidents impacting critical
    • Intend to hold, as early as possible in 2017, a S.-China government and technology company roundtable to discuss cybersecurity issues of mutual concern.
  3. Misuse of Technology and Communications to Facilitate Violent Terrorist Activities. Both sides acknowledged the seminar on misuse of technology and communications to facilitate violent acts of terrorism held in November 2016 in China, and decided to continue cooperation on information sharing in countering the use of the Internet for terrorist and other criminal Both sides will consider holding a second seminar in 2017.
  4. Hotline Both sides welcomed the launch of the U.S.-China Cybercrime and Related Issues Hotline Mechanism, and decided to continue to use the hotline in accordance with the Work Plan. Both sides will conduct routine review of the use of the hotline.
  5. Dialogue Both sides recommend that the dialogue continue to be held each year, and that the fourth dialogue occur in 2017.

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES AGAINST CHINA

ARROWHEADS WITH ARCUATE BLADES

On December 2, 2016, in the attached ITC notice, arcuate-arrowheads, Flying Arrow Archery, LLC filed a section 337 patent case against Alice, China; Dongguan hong Song hardware alma iao, China; Huntingsky, China; liu, China; Jianfeng Mao, China; In-Sail Sandum Precision Industry (China) Co., Ltd., China; Arthur Sifuentes, Spring, Texas; Taotao (IT60), China; Wanyuxue, China; Wei Ran, China; YanDong, China; and Zhou Yang, China.

LIQUID CRYSTAL eWRITERS AND COMPONENTS THEREOF

On December 8, 2016, in the attached ITC notice, liquid-crystal, Kent Displays, Inc. filed a section 337 patent case against Shenzhen Howshow Technology Co., Ltd., (d/b/a Shenzhen Howshare Technology co., Ltd., d/b/a Howshare), China; and Shenzhen SUNstone Technology Co., Ltd., (d/b/a iQbe, China).

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

US CHINA TRADE WAR–UNIVERSAL TRADE WAR, TPP IN LAME DUCK, SPOTTING POTENTIAL AD CASES, CUSTOMS, FALSE CLAIMS ACT, VITAMIN C ANTITRUST, IP AND 337

Lotus Garden Boat Buildings Yue Feng Pagoda Summer Palace BeijinTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR OCTOBER 7, 2016

INTERVIEW ON WHAT US COMPANIES CAN DO IN THE PRESENT TRADE CRISIS

Just did an interview on what US companies can do to cope with the current trade crisis.  Hope you will find it of interest.  http://www.turbineagency.com/industry-insights/2016/10/25/accelerateb2b-how-do-global-trade-deals-really-impact-us-businesses

Dear Friends,

This blog post contains several new article and articles that have been posted on the Harris Moure blog, www.chinalawblog.com from the HM Trade Practice Group, including Adams Lee, Emily Lawson and myself.  The new articles also reflect my discussions during my recent three-week trip to China meeting with various Chinese companies, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”), and Chinese trade lawyers.

The most important point is that the US China Trade War is expanding and has now become a universal trade war.  Although the US continues to bring numerous antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) cases against China, the Chinese government is now bringing and will bring numerous AD and CVD cases against the US.

In the recent Chinese antidumping case against Distiller Grains from the US, the Chinese government has levied a 33% rate against $1.6 billion in US exports to China.  There are rumors that the Chinese government may soon bring AD and CVD cases targeting $15 billion in US exports of soybeans to China.

Meanwhile numerous countries have adopted their own AD and CVD laws modeled on the US and EU and are bringing cases not only against China, but also against the US.

The only recent trade developments that would break the retaliation cycle are the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the TTIP deal with Europe and both trade agreements are in serious trouble.

In addition, set forth below are articles on how to spot an AD and CVD trade case coming and what do when your company is a target of a trade case, magnesium and steel cases, trade cases against Europe, and Trade Adjustment Assistance by David Holbert, who heads the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center.  In addition, there are a number of articles on Customs law, False Claims Act, including an FCA case against Furniture and Customs enforcement action against Honey.  Finally, there is an article on recent Second Circuit Decision in the Vitamin C Antitrust Case and the antidumping back story, a Criminal Trade Secrets case, a new 337 case and the Section 337 article translated into Chinese.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE POLICY AND TPP

US CHINA ANTIDUMPING TRADE WAR IS NOW A UNIVERSAL ANTIDUMPING TRADE WAR

As Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton duel during the Presidential debate about who can be more protectionist, during my recent trip to China I learned that what was once a US China Trade War has now become a universal trade war.  Country after country have adopted the US and EC Antidumping law and are filing case after case against other countries and the US.

Thus countries, such as EC, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, India, Turkey, Ukraine, Russia, China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Australia Thailand, South Africa, and Vietnam, all are filing antidumping and countervailing duty cases against each other and the United States.  These countries have adopted the US law which finds dumping in 90% of the cases.  The US and the EC have created a Frankenstein in the antidumping law and the whole World has adopted it.

Although Donald Trump, Hilary Clinton and many US politicians want to adopt a mercantilist trade policy which favors pushing exports and protecting US industries from imports, the US politicians simply do not understand retaliation.  What the US can do to other countries, those countries can do back.  President Reagan understood the retaliation danger of protectionism and a mercantilist trade policy, but many present day US politicians do not.  So all of these countries are following the US lead and implementing a mercantilist trade policy.

Free trade agreements, such as the TPP and the TTIP, which would break this cycle are now all in deep trouble as each country wants to put its industries first and make their country and industries great again.  The rise in nationalism results in trade wars in which country after country will fire trade guns against each other.  As Jack Ma of Alibaba recently mentioned on CNN, real wars start when trade stops.  See http://money.cnn.com/2016/09/02/technology/jack-ma-alibaba-g20/

During my recent trip to China, in the attached notice, ddgs-list-of-dumping-margin-of-each-company_en ddgs-preliminary-finding-summary-translation_en, on September 23, 2016, the Chinese government announced a 33% preliminary antidumping duty targeting $1.6 billion in imports from the United States of DDGS, Distiller’s Dried Grains with or without Solubles, which is used as an ingredient for animal feed.

During this trip, officials at the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) told me that more trade cases will be coming next year against the US.  In fact, there are rumors that the Chinese government will soon bring an AD and CVD case targeting $15 billion in US soybean exports to China.  This is the number one US export to China.  Now that China is bringing more trade cases against the US, these cases will hurt US companies and the jobs that go with them.

On the US side, the election of either Donald Trump or Hilary Clinton in November will mean more US trade cases next year against not only China, but many other countries as well.

On September 22, 2016, MOFCOM in China initiated an escape clause/safeguard action against Sugar from Brazil, Cuba, Guatemala, Australia, South Korea and Thailand alleging tariffs up to 155.90%.

On September 15, 2016, India brought its own antidumping case against Polybutadiene Rubber from South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Iran and Singapore.

Taiwan has brought a Steel antidumping case against China.

More and more cases will be filed in 2017 around the World and many will target the United States, China, and numerous other countries.  Compromise is the best way to settle trade disputes, but it is very difficult, if not impossible, to settle US antidumping and other trade cases.  What is “fair” trade for the United States is “fair” trade for every other country.  Many countries want to make their industries Great again.

TPP IN THE LAME DUCK KEEPS ON TICKING

As mentioned in my last blog post, I believe that if Hilary Clinton is elected, President Obama will push for the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) to come up for a vote during the Lame Duck Session.  Many Congressional leaders appeared to  oppose tbringing up TPP in the Lame Duck.  But with Hilary Clinton’s resurgence in the Polls after the first debate, there is more talk about the TPP coming up in the Lame Duck, the period after the Presidential election and before the end of the year, as President Obama pushes hard for passage of the legislation.

On September 16, 2016, Ohio Governor Republican John Kasich in an interview with CNN stated that he supports passage of the TPP and will support President Obama in this legislative push in the Lame Duck.  See http://edition.cnn.com/2016/09/15/politics/john-kasich-trans-pacific-partnership/index.html

Governor Kasich made clear that he feels “it’s his “responsibility and duty as a leader” — no matter the political cost — to help President Barack Obama push the Trans-Pacific Partnership through Congress.

Kasich stated that

“I have never been an ideological supporter of free trade. The ideologues used to come to me and be frustrated with me.  But when you look at these agreements in a real sense – and this one is much different than even NAFTA.”

Kasich added that when Russian and Chinese leaders oppose the TPP, that is one reason to vote for the TPP, “We have to do this.”

Kasich further stated,

“This is the first time the candidates in both major political parties say they are opposed to free trade. It’s astounding to me.  I welcome the fact that people will criticize me for putting my country ahead of my party.”

The interview came after Kasich met with President Obama in the Oval Office with former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former George W. Bush administration Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and others for a meeting on the 12-nation Pacific Rim deal.

Kasich further stated:

“This is an opportunity for the Congress to carry out its responsibility. Frankly, if I have to come down here and spend some time lobbying my Republican colleagues, I’m more than glad to do that.

There’s definitely some people I can call and talk to.  This is a big deal. I mean, if we were to just walk away with this — with both candidates saying they don’t want this — we turn our backs on Asia.

He also played down the political potency of Trump’s anti-trade position in manufacturing-heavy Ohio, saying it’s not why Trump might win the state.

On September 26, 2016, Robert Samuelson, a well-known economist, published an article entitled “Will TPP Rise from the Dead”, stating:

With Obama’s term ending and his already-modest influence eroding by the day, TPP seems dead. But it may still be in intensive care.

In a speech to the Peterson Institute for International Economics, a Washington think tank, Rep. Kevin Brady, R-Texas, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee whose jurisdiction includes trade agreements, said that the TPP could still be ratified in the lame-duck session after the election and before a new Congress takes office.

Samuelson went on to state that Brady gave two major reasons to approve the TPP.

First, geopolitical:  The TPP would enhance US influence in the Pacific region and offset China’s growing economic and political power. TPP would give the United States a major role in regulating global commerce in the 21s century. The trade agreement codifies rules on “intellectual property” (patents, copyrights), data flows and state-owned firms

Ratification would be a strong signal to Asia that the United States intends to remain a Pacific power.

“The second reason is economic: Asia remains a fast-growing region. TPP would eliminate most tariffs among the 12 member countries, aiding American exporters in these markets. The advantage may be particularly important in services (tourism, consulting, finance and engineering), where U.S. firms are especially strong. In 2015, the United States had a $762 billion deficit in goods trade (machinery, steel, medical equipment) and a $262 billion surplus in services trade, leaving an overall deficit of $500 billion.  According to the Peterson Institute, the 12 countries in the TPP accounted for about 36% of the world economy and 24% of global trade in 2014.”

Samuelson goes on to quote Brady on why he does not dismiss TPP’s prospects as bleak, “People change once they get into office.”

Samuelson then states:

Translation: The campaign’s anti-trade and anti-globalization rhetoric might recede before the realities of governing. Although Brady didn’t say so, one implication is that a victorious Hillary Clinton might put up only token opposition to TPP, both because the case for approval is strong and because she might feel obligated to Obama for his political support.

But Brady went on to state that getting a deal would be difficult. With many Democrats adamantly opposed to TPP, President Obama would need to rely on Republicans to approve the agreement. But if President Obama cannot round up enough Democratic votes to ensure victory, Republicans will not go out on a political limb and bring the agreement up during the Lame Duck.

“We are running out of time,” Brady told the Peterson audience. As Samuelson stated, “The TPP may yet wind up in the political morgue.”

TRADE

CHINA IMPORTS: KNOW YOUR RISKS

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

Every year U.S. producers file 10-15 petitions asking the U.S. government to investigate whether certain products imported into the US are sold at unfair prices (antidumping or AD) or are unfairly subsidized (countervailing duty or CVD). Many of the AD/CVD cases target products imported from China. Odds are good that at least two new AD/CVD petitions will be filed by Halloween and as many as five by year end.

Our clients often ask our international trade lawyers how they can determine the likelihood of a AD/CVD petition that could adversely affect their ability to compete in the US market. Each AD/CVD petition is unique to the product and industry it covers, but most AD/CVD investigations fall within a handful of categories. Understanding what has led to the filing of previous AD/CVD petitions can help you as a producer, exporter, or importer, recognize if and when to expect a new AD/CVD petition that could directly affect you. The following are some of the indicators you should be checking to determine whether your imported into the USA product will be next.

The Regulars. Certain domestic industries have been frequent filers of AD/CVD actions. Companies in these industries are veterans of AD/CVD actions; they don’t ask if a new petition will be filed, only when it will be filed.

  • Steel of all types (carbon steel, stainless steel, flat products, pipe, rebar, wire rod, wire, etc.) from all over the world. The latest wave of steel AD/CVD investigations are being completed with high AD/CVD margins in most cases.
  • Softwood Lumber from Canada. The latest round of the US-Canada Lumber wars is set to begin as new AD/CVD petitions are likely to be filed in October 2016. Filing a new AD/CVD petition may be necessary to push US-Canada negotiations to a meaningful level.

The Big Box Effect. When Walmart, Lowes, or Target switch their sourcing of a product from a domestic manufacturer to a foreign (read Chinese) one, it is quite common for the jilted domestic supplier to file an AD/CVD petition in an effort to save their business. Boltless steel shelving units, wood flooring, ironing tables, and candles are all examples of this, and all involving products from China.

US Products Squeezed by Imports. It is not uncommon for an AD/CVD petition to be filed by a US producer that makes a higher quality product but is starting to lose out to foreign producers with lower quality but cheaper products. Frozen shrimp from multiple countries, garlic from China, and wooden bedroom furniture from China are some examples of this.

Pressure from Downstream Customers. Many AD/CVD petitions involve products that are material inputs used to make a downstream finished product. Petitions can be triggered by larger downstream producers switching to, or just threatening to switch to imports to pressure smaller upstream suppliers to lower prices.  Many chemical products from China, tire products from China and other countries, kitchen racks from China are examples of this.

AD/CVD Actions on Upstream ProductsSometimes AD/CVD actions filed by other domestic industries trickle down and harm downstream domestic industries. For example, US wire rod producers filed AD/CVD petitions that resulted in AD/CVD duties against imported wire rod. But these wire rod duties ended up hurting US wire producers, who in turn filed their own AD/CVD duties against imported wire.

Dying Dinosaurs/Last Survivors. Some AD/CVD petitions are filed by the remaining members of a nearly extinct domestic industry dealing with decreasing demand and increased import pressure. Sometimes the AD/CVD actions allow the surviving US producers to stay in the US market protected from import competition.  Examples of this are wooden bedroom furniture, magnesium and innersprings from China.

Other Countries’ AD/CVD actions. The US is not the only country that acts to protect its domestic industries from unfair foreign trade. AD/CVD actions filed in Canada, India, the EU, Brazil, and even China are warning signs of industries facing tight competitive pressure. Imports blocked from one market are often diverted to other available markets. A prime example of this are products from China which first had AD/CVD filed in the EU before the US took action.

All of the above scenarios are good indicators of an imminent filing of a new United States’ AD/CVD petition, so if you are seeing these market conditions in your industry, an AD/CVD petition is probably in your near future.

WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN THE CUSTOMS ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY BOGEYMAN IS COMING AFTER YOUR IMPORTED CHINA PRODUCTS

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

In China Imports Know Your Risks (above), I wrote about how companies can recognize impending antidumping (AD) or countervailing duty (CVD) petitions. In this post I address what you as an importer, exporter or foreign producer should do if you see an AD/CVD storm looming.

The first thing you should do is determine whether the AD/CVD petition will directly hit your primary operations. The second thing you should do is figure out how best to defend yourself interests if the AD/CVD petition is headed directly your way. The third thing you should do if you do get hit by AD/CVD duties is to figure out damage control going forward.

  1. New AD/CVD Petition – Are my products affected? AD/CVD petitions include a proposed scope definition that identifies the products covered. AD/CVD scope definitions can be complicated and unclear. They may be broader or narrower than the Customs tariff classifications normally used to identify such imports. Even if you think your products are outside the scope of the petition, U.S. Customs may disagree. U.S. Customs commonly demands that you first pay an AD/CVD deposit, assuming that your products are within the scope of the AD/CVD petition, and then Customs will return your deposit only if you get a Department of Commerce (DOC) ruling that your products are actually outside the scope. For example, with aluminum extrusions from China, the DOC has received around a hundred scope ruling requests to clarify whether certain products are included or excluded from the scope of that order.

Once you know the scope definition, you can evaluate the degree to which the AD/CVD action could impact your business.  Sometimes you and your customer can find alternatives to replace the subject AD/CVD products with either non-subject products or by your sourcing from non-subject countries. If you have options to switch away from the products covered by the AD/CVD action, it may not be necessary to participate in the AD/CVD investigation.

  1. AD/CVD investigations – How to defend? If your product is squarely within the scope of the AD/CVD petition and the U.S. market is worth fighting for, you should determine the best way to prepare for the AD/CVD investigation. If you have enough time before a petition is filed, you theoretically can try to adjust your sales to remedy whatever is causing the dumped or subsidized sales, most commonly by raising your prices for certain products or customers or by modifying your production operations by lowering or reallocating costs. Unfortunately, most companies are not proactive about planning to avoid AD/CVD actions and instead react only after a petition is filed. We find this especially true of our clients that import from China, as opposed to Europe.

Once an AD/CVD investigation is initiated, foreign producers and exporters and US importers should try to defend their interests before the two agencies responsible for making AD/CVD determinations: The International Trade Commission (ITC) determines whether a domestic industry is injured or threatened with injury by reason of the subject imports and the Department of Commerce (DOC) determines how much the subject imports are dumped or subsidized.

In ITC investigations, the best defenses are presented when the foreign producers, US importers, and US purchasers can organize and explain why the subject imports should not be blamed for any decline in the domestic industry’s performance. Because the ITC examines a broad range of data regarding the US market for the subject product, a comprehensive explanation of relevant market conditions is necessary to a winning argument.

In DOC investigations, the foreign producer and exporters are the primary respondents to the DOC’s questionnaires. These companies must provide extensive corporate structure, sales and cost data, often through multiple rounds of questionnaires. The DOC uses the submitted data to calculate AD/CVD margins.  Unaffiliated US importers usually do not need to submit data in DOC investigations and reviews, but they often will closely monitor the DOC’s proceedings because they will ultimately be responsible for paying the AD/CVD duties. See Sourcing Product From China: You Should Know About Importer of Record Liability.

The key to any AD/CVD defense is participating fully in both the DOC’s and the ITC’s investigations. If you don’t participate, you have no chance of winning. If a party does not respond on time or with complete responses, the DOC and the ITC can apply the adverse facts available that inevitably lead to higher AD/CVD margins. US importers should at least actively monitor DOC’s proceedings because their final AD/CVD liability often depends on how well the Chinese producers and exporters are able to respond to DOC’s questionnaires. It is not uncommon for the Chinese producer or exporter to mount a weak or no defense, leaving the U.S. importer essentially “holding the bag.” There are many things you can and should do to try to prevent this from happening to you.

  1. How to Plan for Life with AD/CVD. The overwhelming majority of AD/CVD petitions lead to orders for imposing AD/CVD duties.  But depending on the scope definition of the AD/CVD order, it may be possible for you to maintain your business operations by identifying alternative out-of-scope products or by switching your product sourcing to a non-subject country. But in switching sourcing, US importers should be careful to avoid actions that could be considered schemes designed primarily to evade AD/CVD duties, as the DOC can extend orders through circumvention investigations. Customs too can conduct its own investigation of duty evasion allegations.

Also, because the United States uses a retrospective AD/CVD system, foreign suppliers and US importers have the opportunity each year to try to lower their dumping margin. Since AD/CVD duties are “remedial”, foreign producers and U.S. importers have ample opportunity to adjust their production and sales operations so that they can sell “fairly” to the U.S. market, as defined by the U.S. trade laws and with proper planning and disciplined execution, companies can sometimes make even minor adjustments to reduce or eliminate their AD/CVD duty liability.

Bottom Line: You are not without defenses when the AD/CVD bogeyman appears to be heading for you. There are things you can do both to stop it from attacking your business and things you can do to restore your business once attacked.

Editor’s Note: This post focuses on products exported from China to the United States, but its advice applies with equal force to products exported from any other country to the United States and with nearly equal force to products exported from any other country to any other country that also has AD/CVD sanctions.

CAFC MAGNESIUM METAL DECISION

On October 6, 2016, in the attached decision, cafc-magnesium, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit affirmed the Commerce Department’s decision that replacement of stainless steel retorts used to produce magnesium metal was an overhead expense and not a direct cost in the Magnesium Metal from China antidumping case.

STEEL TRADE CASES

CARBON AND ALLOY STEEL CUT-TO-LENGTH PLATE FROM CHINA AND KOREA

On September 7, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, clt-plate-cvd-prelim-fs-090716, Commerce issued an affirmative preliminary CVD determination in the initial investigation of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from China and a negative preliminary determination in the CVD investigation of imports from Korea.

China CVD rate best on all facts available is 210.50% and Korea’s CVD rate is 0.

CARBON AND ALLOY STEEL CUT-TO-LENGTH PLATE FROM BRAZIL, SOUTH AFRICA AND TURKEY

On September 16, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-multiple-ctl-plate-ad-prelim-091616, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the AD investigations of imports of certain carbon and alloy steel cut-to-length plate from Brazil, South Africa, and Turkey.

Brazil’s antidumping rate is 74.52%.  South Africa’s antidumping rates range from 87.72% to 94.14%.  Turkey’s antidumping rates range from 42.02% to 50%.

STAINLESS STEEL SHEET AND STRIP FROM CHINA

On September 12, 2016, in the attached fact sheet, factsheet-prc-stainless-steel-sheet-strip-ad-prelim-091216, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determination in the AD investigation of imports of stainless steel sheet and strip from China.  The antidumping rates range from 63.86% to 76.64%.

TRADE CASES AGAINST EUROPE

EUROPEAN TARGETS IN ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASES AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO GET BACK IN THE US MARKET AGAIN

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

China is not the only target.  AD cases have been recently filed against a number of European countries, including Carbon and Alloy Steel Plate from Austria, Belgium, Germany, and Italy; Steel Flanges from Italy and Spain; and Rubber from Poland.

In addition, there are outstanding AD and CVD orders against Germany on brass sheet and strip, seamless pipe, sodium nitrite and non-oriented electrical steel.  In addition to Germany, other EU Countries have been hit on various steel products, including a number of stainless steel products, from Spain, Belgium and Italy; brass sheet and strip from France and Italy, isocyanurates from Spain, pasta from Italy, paper from Portugal and Uranium from France. The oldest US AD order in place today is pressure sensitive plastic tape from Italy, which was issued in 1977.

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

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

AD and CVD duties can only be imposed if there is injury to the US industry, which is determined by the ITC.  But in determining injury, the law directs the ITC to cumulate, that is add together all the imports of the same product from the various foreign countries.

The real question many companies may have is how can AD and CVD rates be reduced so that the European company can start exporting to the US again.  US AD and CVD laws are considered remedial, not punitive statutes.  Thus, every year in the month in which the AD or CVD order was issued, Commerce gives the parties, including the domestic producers, foreign producers and US importers, the right to request a review investigation based on sales of imports that entered the US in the preceding year.

Thus, the AD order on electrical steel from Germany was issued in December 2014.   In December 2016, the German producer can request a review investigation of the electrical steel that entered, was actually imported into, the US during the period December 1, 2015 to November 31, 2016.

EU companies may ask that it is too difficult to export a 17 metric ton container of covered product to the US, requesting a nonaffiliated importer to put up an AD of 50 to over 100%, which can require a payment of $1 million USD or more.  In contrast to European law, however, the US AD and CVD law is retrospective.  Thus the importer posts a cash deposit when it imports products under an AD or CVD order, and the importer will get back the difference plus interest at the end of the review investigation.

More importantly, through a series of cases, Commerce has let foreign producers export smaller quantities of the product to use as a test sale in a review investigation if all other aspects of the sale are normal.  Thus in a chemical case, we had the exporter put a metric ton of the chemical in question in a container with other products and that metric ton served as the test sale to establish the new AD rate.

EU Companies may also ask how we can make sure that we are not dumping.  The answer is dump proofing and computer programs.  In contrast to China, EU companies are considered market economy companies and, therefore, Commerce must use actual prices and costs in the European country to determine whether it is dumping or not.  Computer programs can be used to reduce the dumping margin significantly by modeling US prices and EU home market prices to eliminate or significantly reduce antidumping rates.

How successful can companies be in reviews?  In one EU Steel case, we dropped the dumping rate from over 17% in the initial investigation to 0% in the review investigation.  In a chemical from China case, we dropped a dumping rate of over 200% to 0%, allowing the Chinese company to become the exclusive exporter of the product for decades per order of the US government.

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

TRADE ADJUSTMENT ASSISTANCE FOR FIRMS/COMPANIES

David Holbert, who heads the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”), is writing a series of posts on the NWTAAC website on how Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies helps injured companies injured by imports.  This is the first post.

Imports are Like a Thousand Flash Floods Injuring US Companies That Are Not Competitive

The issue of trade competition and lost jobs is well discussed in the media.  I work with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who are negatively affected by trade competition, what is often called “trade impact” in policy lingo. It’s a big issue. According to the U.S Trade Representative, the United States’ 30 million SMEs account for nearly two-thirds of net new private sector jobs in recent decades.

For large companies or from a macro-economic perspective, import competition may seem like a rising tide – one that can be anticipated, prepared for or proactively mitigated. For small and medium-sized businesses, not equipped with diverse product lines, resources or change acumen, import competition feels more like a flash flood.

What is it like for those companies?  When trade impact hits, sales drop off, often suddenly.

  • Contract manufacturers build to specification for customers, often larger companies. For this group, trade impact could mean the loss of a major customer moving operations to a foreign country (and finding parts suppliers there), or simply an importer arriving on the scene with lower cost products.
  • For a consumer products company, trade impact will probably first arrive with falling sales to the big retail chains since they are the most sensitive to supplier prices.
  • For a commodity producer things are a little more predictable. There may be a change in currency valuation or the rise of a new industry in a foreign country. Regardless, these highly price sensitive markets will suddenly have a lower price option.
  • Commercial products producers will usually have more time. When imports arrive they will sell to generally more informed customers who usually value factors other than price. But the fall will come, just more slowly.

Sales could fall off for many reasons. How do you know its trade related? You ask or you ask around. It shouldn’t take long to find out.

Imports arrive product by product. Companies move offshore factory by factory.  A domestic company makes that product, is part of the supply chain needed to make the product or is part of that commodity industry. When the imports arrive (or the factory moves), that one company or set of suppliers or community of producers is directly in the way. All of this happens in what can seem to be a relatively normal looking manufacturing neighborhood. Across the street there might be a company making another product that is experiencing no trade competition. Next door a third company might have gone through trade impact years ago and has adjusted. For small and medium sized companies, trade impact can be surprisingly direct and specific.

Here are some examples of what I’m talking about.

  • A commercial products company makes a specialized tool. A couple of other U.S. and European companies make similar products with some parity between price and features. One year they are at the big industry trade show and see a product, similar to theirs (and the others), but priced about 40% lower. Three months later sales started slipping.
  • A contract manufacturer that machines metal parts had gravitated away from stainless steel to titanium and built for several competitors in the same industry. Foreign producers had mastered stainless steel over the last decade. But as of a recent year, those producers finally mastered titanium as well. One by one, the manufacturer’s customers started buying imports. Once one did, it had a cost advantage, so the others had to go along also.
  • A nut grower was maintaining a slim profit. Then, a certain country decided to incentivize its nut growers to achieve more efficiency and export capability. It took a while, but when the imported nuts started arriving, they were at a price point below break-even for the domestic producer.
  • A safety products producer sold through a variety of retailers. One year, seemingly out of the blue, the big box stores stopped ordering. It didn’t take long to figure out why. A similar imported product was on the shelves at about half the price.

In future posts I’ll cover the steps to recovery. They are many effective tools in the economic recovery toolbox.  In many cases, companies that employed these resources are now unrecognizable through increased scale and product changes. Interestingly, a surprising number become significant exporters.

My role at the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center is to help small and medium-sized companies that are negatively impacted by trade competition through grants of up to $75,000.  Our non-profit organization administers a federal program serving companies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Alaska. You can learn more about us at NWTAAC.org.

CUSTOMS LAW

IMPORTING GOODS FROM CHINA: THE RISKS ARE RISING

By Adams Lee, Harris Moure International Trade Group

Last month I wrote about how importers from China need to be on their guard since U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has implemented new regulations to investigate allegations of antidumping (AD) and countervailing duty (CVD) evasion. See Importing From China: One More (New) Thing You Need To Know.

It didn’t take long, as U.S. Customs has already begun its first wave of investigations: Wheatland Tube, a US steel pipe producer, on September 14, 2016 announced it had filed with CBP an allegation of duty evasion on imports of Chinese circular welded steel pipe.

CBP has published a timeline for conducting its investigations and a process diagram (EAPA Investigation Timeline) and this newly filed allegation will be a test case to see how CBP will conduct its new duty evasion investigations. Hopefully, CBP will soon address many of the questions raised by the new regulations. How will parties be allowed to participate? What information from the investigation will be made public? How will CBP define “reasonable suspicion” of duty evasion?

This steel pipe investigation is likely to be the first of many CBP duty evasion investigations that are to come, many (probably most) of which will target Chinese products subject to AD/CVD duties. For how to figure out the risk quotient for the products you import from China, check out China Imports: Know Your Risks.

The new antidumping and countervailing duty regulations will unquestionably require an increased number of importers and foreign manufacturers to formally respond to CBP’s questions in response to allegations. Given the strong political pressure by domestic U.S. industries calling for tougher enforcement of US trade laws (not to mention the rising opposition to free trade among the American populace), Chinese producers and exporters and US importers should be prepared for increased CBP activity. CBP is likely looking to punish someone hard to set an example of their improved enforcement.

Getting Your China Products Through U.S. Customs: The 101

By Emily Lawson, Harris Moure International Trade Group

If you are importing products from China you need to do your homework to make sure your incoming shipments into the United States comply with U.S. Customs laws and regulations. Compliance with U.S. Customs laws and regulations is critical in avoiding your shipments being detained or seized, and/or penalties assessed. Common issues importers of products from China typically face include the following:  

  Not determining proper classification and duty rate for products. If you plan to import and sell on a Delivered Duty Paid basis, you should consider customs duties in your costs and that means you should know all of your applicable duty rates before you import. Also certain products are subject to high antidumping or countervailing duties in addition to regular customs duties, which may be as high as 300%.

   Failing to mark the product with the country of origin of manufacture.  Generally goods of foreign origin for import into the U.S. or immediate containers of the goods must be marked legibly and in a conspicuous location with the country of origin in English. Failure to do so accurately  can result in civil and even possibly criminal penalties.

  Not properly marking wood packing material. All wood packing material for products imported into the U.S. must be properly  treated and marked prior to shipping. Failure to meet the treatment and marking requirements may cause shipments to be delayed and penalties issued. 

  Failing to provide complete commercial invoices. Customs regulations provide that specific data must be included on the commercial invoice for U.S. Customs purposes, including a detailed description of the merchandise, and correct value information. Omission of this information may result in improper declaration to U.S. Customs at the time of import and expose you to penalties.

  Failing to meet other U.S. Government agency requirements.  Goods imported for sale in the U.S. must satisfy the same legal requirements as those goods manufactured in the United States. U.S. Customs enforces the laws of other agencies in the U.S., including, the Food and Drug Administration, the Consumer Product Safety  Commission (CPSC), and the Environmental Protection Agency, in addition to others. Therefore, if toys, for example, are exported to the U.S., detailed CPSC requirements, including for testing, must be met prior to export.

   Distribution of many trademarked and copyrighted items. Items which are trademarked and copyrighted are restricted by contractual agreements that give exclusive rights to specific companies to distribute the product in the U.S. Imports of improperly  trademarked or copyrighted items can be seized at the U.S. border and can subject you as the importer to penalties.

 Taking the time to identify  the required U.S. Customs laws and regulations for the products to be shipped to the U.S. from China will help you maintain seamless delivery  of your merchandise to U.S. customers and avoid civil and criminal penalty  exposure.

FALSE CLAIMS HAMMER GETS BIGGER — THIRD CIRCUIT HOLDS FCA’S APPLICATION TO FALSE STATEMENTS MADE TO US CUSTOMS

On October 5, 2916, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals  in the attached decision in United States ex rel Customs Fraud Investigations, LLC. v. Vitaulic Company, us-vs-vitaulic, reversed the Federal District Court and held that a failure to label imported goods with the proper country of origin is actionable under the False Claim Act (“FCA”).  Vitaulic had imported millions of pounds of steel pipe with the wrong country of origin.

In holding that this is an actionable claim under the FCA, the Court stated:

These actions, according to CFI, give rise to the present qui tam action under the so-called “reverse false claims” provision in the False Claims Act (FCA).  Typically, a claim under the FCA alleges that a person or company submitted a bill to the government for work that was not performed or was performed improperly, resulting in an undeserved payment flowing to that person or company. The FCA was enacted as a reaction to rampant fraud and price gouging by merchants supplying the Union army during the Civil War. In this case, by contrast, the allegation is not that Victaulic is obtaining monies from the government to which it is not entitled, but rather that it is retaining money it should have paid the government in the form of marking duties. Wrongful retention cases such as these are known as “reverse false claims” actions.

The Court went on to state:

Of particular importance here, the Senate Report discussed “customs duties for mismarking country of origin,” and how such duties would be covered by the amended reverse false claims Provision. . . .

The plain text of the FCA’s reverse claims provision is clear: any individual who “knowingly conceals or knowingly and improperly avoids or decreases an obligation to pay or transmit money or property to the Government” may be subject to liability. As alleged by CFI in the amended complaint, Victaulic declined to notify the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection of its pipe fittings’ non-conforming status. This failure to notify resulted in the pipe fittings being released into the stream of commerce in the United States and, consequently, marking duties being owed and not paid.

From a policy perspective, the possibility of reverse false claims liability in such circumstances makes sense in the context of the larger import/export regulatory scheme created by Congress. Because of the government’s inability to inspect every shipment entering the United States, an importer may have an incentive to decline to mention that its goods are mismarked on the assumption that the mismarking will not be discovered. In doing so, an importer avoids its obligation under 19 U.S.C. § 1484 to provide the government with such information as is necessary to enable the Bureau of Customs and Border Protection to determine whether the merchandise may be released from government custody or whether it must be properly marked, re-exported or destroyed.

HONEY AND FURNITURE

FURNITURE

On September 30, 2016, Ecologic Industries LLC and OMNI SCM LLC controlled by a Daniel Scott Goldman agreed to pay $1.525 million to settle a civil False Claims Act suit alleging it conspired to make false statements to avoid paying duties on wooden furniture imported from China to avoid the antidumping duties on Wooden Bedroom Furniture from China.  The companies sell furniture for student housing.

The case was filed by a whistleblower Matthew Bissanti, who is the former president and director of OMNI.  The Justice Department reported that Bissanti will receive $228,750 as his share of the settlement.

HONEY

On Aug 12, 2016, in the attached notice, to-bee-or-not-to-bee_-cbp-and-partners-seized-132-drums-of-hone, Customs and Border Protection announced seizure of 42 tons of illegally imported Chinese honey.  The honey was contained in 132 fifty-five gallon drums that were falsely declared as originating from Taiwan to evade antidumping duties applicable to Chinese honey. The evaded antidumping duties on this shipment of Chinese honey would be nearly $180,299.

ANTITRUST LAW

VITAMIN C ANTITRUST CASE—THE REAL ANTIDUMPING BACK STORY

On September 20, 2016, the Second Circuit Court of Appeals handed down its attached decision in the Vitamin C Antitrust case against the Chinese companies, In Re: Vitamin C Antitrust Litigation, vitamin-c-13-4791_opn-2d-cir-sept-20-2016.  In its decision, the Court of Appeals reversed the Federal District Court’s decision that the Chinese Vitamin C companies had fixed prices in violation of the US antitrust because Chinese government action, in effect, insulated the Chinese companies from US antitrust liability.

The Court of Appeals made the correct decision because as indicated below, I have personal knowledge as to the reason the Chinese government set the Vitamin C export price scheme in place to raise Chinese export prices—to deter US and other Antidumping cases.

As the Court of Appeals stated in its opinion:

the Chinese Government filed a formal statement in the district court asserting that Chinese law required Defendants to set prices and reduce quantities of vitamin C sold abroad, and because Defendants could not simultaneously comply with Chinese law and U.S. antitrust law . . .

The Court of Appeals then reversed the District Court “on international comity grounds” and ordered the District Court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice.

In effect, the Second Circuit held that based on comity grounds, that is, respect for Chinese law as evidenced by a formal statement and submission of the Chinese government that the Chinese government lawfully set up a scheme to raise Vitamin C prices, the Federal District Court should have dismissed the case.  The Court of Appeals held that the District Court should have deferred to the Chinese government and exempted the Chinese companies from the application of the US antitrust law based on the state action defense.  It should be noted that the Federal Government and State Governments through state action can insulate US domestic companies from the application of the US antitrust law.

The Court of Appeals specifically determined in the decision that:

The official statements of the Ministry should be credited and accorded deference. . . .The  2002  Notice,  inter  alia,  demonstrates  that  from  2002  to  2005,  the relevant time period alleged in the complaint, Chinese law required Defendants to participate in the PVC regime in order to export vitamin C. This regulatory regime allowed vitamin C manufacturers the export only vitamin C subject to contracts that complied with the “industry‐wide negotiated” price.

Although the 2002 Notice does not specify how the “industry‐wide negotiated” price was set, we defer to the Ministry’s reasonable interpretation that the term means what it suggests—that members of the regulated industry were required to negotiate and agree upon a price.  . . ..

In this context, we find it reasonable to view the entire PVC regime as a decentralized means by which the Ministry, through the Chamber, regulated the export of vitamin C by deferring to the manufacturers and adopting their agreed upon price as the minimum export price. In short, by directing vitamin C manufacturers to coordinate export prices and quantities and adopting those standards into the regulatory regime, the Chinese Government required Defendants to violate the Sherman Act. . . .

Because we hold that Defendants could not comply with both U.S. antitrust laws and Chinese law regulating the foreign export of vitamin C, a true conflict exists between the applicable laws of China and those of the United States.

The Court of Appeals went on to state:

Moreover, there is no evidence that Defendants acted with the express purpose or intent to affect U.S. commerce or harm U.S. businesses in particular. Rather, according to the Ministry, the regulations at issue governing Defendants’ conduct were intended to assist China in its transition from a state‐run command economy to a market‐driven economy, and the resulting price‐fixing was intended to ensure China remained a competitive participant in the global vitamin C market and to prevent harm to China’s trade relations. While it was reasonably foreseeable that China’s vitamin C policies would generally have a negative effect on Plaintiffs as participants in the international market for vitamin C, as noted above, there is no evidence that Defendants’ antitrust activities were specifically directed at Plaintiffs or other U.S. companies.

The purpose of the Chinese export scheme was not to damage US customers or businesses.  In fact, just the opposite was true.  The Chinese government wanted to keep exports flowing.

What was the concern of the Chinese government?  US and other antidumping cases, which could wipe Chinese exports out of the US market for decades.  This was the true number one anticompetitive threat that the Chinese government and companies were facing.  Was this a realistic threat?  Sure was.

The period that the export price scheme was set in place was 2002-2005.  On July 11, 2002, after losing an antidumping case in the mid-90s against Saccharin from China despite very high antidumping rates because of a no injury determination by the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), PMC, the sole US producer of saccharin, filed a second antidumping case against saccharin from China.  The Chinese Chamber of Commerce in charge of the Saccharin case was the Chamber of Commerce for Medicines, the same Chamber in charge of the Vitamin C case.

On July 2, 2003, the Commerce Department issued an antidumping order against all imports of saccharin from China with rates ranging from an individual dumping rate of 249.39% to 329.29% for all other Chinese companies, effectively blocking all Chinese saccharin from China.  The Antidumping Order was in effect for 10 years.

Although one company that I represented was after three and a half years able to reduce its dumping rate down to 0%, all other Chinese saccharin was blocked out of the US market for 10 years.  Market prices for saccharin in the US soared from a low $1.50 per pound in the investigative period to a price well over $10 a pound.

And US plaintiff companies in the Vitamin C case were complaining about the price rise in Vitamin C exports to the US??!!  I am sure the increase was not 10 times.

Since I represented the Chinese saccharin industry in the Saccharin antidumping case, the Chamber of Commerce for Medicine and I were very aware of the devastating effect a US or other antidumping case could have on Chinese companies and exports.  After the antidumping order was issued, in the Summer of 2003 the Chamber called me to a meeting with the Chinese Vitamin C producers and the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”} to discuss how to deter US and other antidumping cases.  The Chamber and MOFCOM were very worried that intense Chinese price competition would lead to a wave of antidumping cases against the Vitamin C companies.

The Vitamin C companies, the Chamber and MOFCOM asked what can we do if there is a threat of an antidumping case.  Since Commerce and all other countries treat China as a nonmarket economy country and refuse to use actual prices and costs in China to determine antidumping cases, the general practice of dump proofing where antidumping consultants use computer programs to eliminate the unfair act, dumping, is not an option for Chinese companies.

The only remedy I could think of was that the Chinese government impose an export price floor.  That approach worked in the 90s with another Chamber of Commerce when there was a threat of a US antidumping case against Silicon Carbide from China.  The US Silicon Carbide producer in the one company US industry never filed their threatened antidumping case against China because of the export price floor the Chamber with MOFCOM’s consent put in place.

After suggesting that the Chamber set up an export price floor with MOFCOM’s involvement, I went on to state that MOFCOM would have to issue a law, regulation or action to show that the Government mandated the establishment of the system to insulate the Chinese companies from attack under the US antitrust laws.

The Chamber did set up the export price system for Vitamin C exports to stop US and other antidumping cases from being filed against the Chinese companies.  No Vitamin C antidumping cases were filed because the export price system was put in place.

As indicated by the Second Circuit, MOFOM did take government action to set up the export price scheme, which, in turn, insulated the Chinese companies from US antitrust liability.

The lesson of the story is that although the purpose of US antitrust law is to protect consumers and competition in the US market, the real threat to US consumers and market competition is the US antidumping law.

CRIMINAL IP/TRADE SECRET CASE

On October 5, 2016, the Justice Department in the attached notice, chinese-national-sentenced-to-prison-for-conspiracy-to-steal-tr, announced the sentencing of Mo Hailong, a/k/a Robert Mo, a Chinese national to three years in Federal prison for a conspiracy to steal trade secrets.  Mr. Mo Hailong was the Director of International Business of the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Company, commonly referred to as DBN. DBN is a Chinese conglomerate with a corn seed subsidiary company, Kings Nower Seed.

According to the plea agreement, Mo Hailong admitted to participating in a long-term conspiracy to steal trade secrets from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto. Mo Hailong participated in the theft of inbred corn seeds from fields in Iowa and elsewhere for the purpose of transporting the seeds to DBN in China. The stolen inbred, or parent, seeds were the valuable trade secrets of DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.

U.S. Attorney Kevin E. VanderSchel stated:

“Mo Hailong stole valuable proprietary information in the form of seed corn from DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto in an effort to transport such trade secrets to China. Theft of trade secrets is a serious federal crime, as it harms victim companies that have invested millions of dollars and years of work toward the development of propriety technology. The theft of agricultural trade secrets, and other intellectual property, poses a grave threat to our national economic security. The Justice Department and federal law enforcement partners are committed to prosecuting those who in engage in conduct such as Mo Hailong.”

SECTION 337 AND IP CASES

NEW 337 CASES

On October 6, 2016, Nite Ize, Inc. filed a major 337 case against Device Holders, many of which come from China.  The relevant parts of the ITC notice along with the names of the Chinese respondent companies are below.

Commodity:

Device Holders

Filed by:

James B. Altman

Firm/Organization:

Foster, Murphy, Altman & Nickel, PC

Behalf of:

Nite Ize, Inc.

Description:

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Device Holders, and Components Thereof. The proposed respondents are Shenzhen Youtai Trade Company Limited, d/b/a NoChoice, China; REXS LLC, Lewes, DE; Spinido, Inc., Brighton, CO; Luo, Qiden, d/b/a Lita International Shop, China; Guangzhou Kuaguoyi E-commerece co., ltd., d/b/a Kagu Culture, China; Shenzhen New Dream Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a Newdreams, China; Shenzhen Gold South technology Co., Ltd. d/b/a Baidatong, China; Zhao Chunhui d/b/a Skyocean, China; Sunpauto Co., ltd., HK; Wang Zhi Gang d/b/a China; Dang Yuya d/b/a Sminiker, China; Shenzhen Topworld Technology Co.,    d/b/a IdeaPro, Hong Kong; Lin Zhen Mei d/b/a Anson, China; Wu Xuying d/b/a Novoland, China; Shenzhen New Dream Sailing Electronic Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a MegaDream, China; Zhongshan Feiyu Hardware technology Co., Ltd d/b/a YouFo, China; Ninghuazian Wangfulong Chaojishichang Youxian Gongsi, Ltd., d/b/a EasybuyUS, China; Chang Lee d/b/a Frentaly, Duluth, GA; Trendbox USA LLC d/b/a Trendbox, Scottsdale, AZ; Timespa d/b/a Jia Bai Nian (Shenzhen) Electronic Commerce Trade CO., LTD., China; Tontex d/b/a Shenzhen Hetongtai Electronics Co., Ltd., China; Scotabc d/b/a ShenChuang Opto-electronics Technology Co., Ltd., China; Tenswall d/b/a Shenzhen Tenswall International Trading Co., Ltd., La Puente, CA; Luo Jieqiong d/b/a Wekin, China; Pecham d/b/a Baichen Technology Ltd., Hong Kong; Cyrift d/b/a Guangzhou Sunway E-Commerce LLC., China; Rymemo d/b/a Global Box, LLC., Dunbar, PA; Wang Guoxiang d/b/a Minse, China; Yuan I d/b/a Bestrix, China; Zhiping Zhou d/b/a Runshion, China; Funlavie, Riverside, CA; Huijukon d/b/a Shenzhen Hui Ju Kang technology Co., Ltd., China; Zhang Haujun d/b/a CeeOne, China; Easy Acc d/b/a Searay LLC., Newark, DE; Barsone d/b/a Shenzhen Senweite Electronic Commerce Ltd., China; Oumeiou d/b/a Shenzhen Oumeiou Technology Co., Ltd., China; Grando d/b/a Shenzhen Dashentai Network Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Yingxue Technology Co., Ltd., China; Shenzhen Longwang Technology Co., Ltd., d/b/a LWANG, China; Hu Peng d/b/a AtomBud, China

CHINESE VERSION OF 337 ARTICLE

Set forth below is a Chinese version of the 337 English article published last month followed by the original English version.

阻止来自中国的侵权产品:337条款调查案

随着亚马逊和eBay加大力度引入中国卖家,以及越来越多的中国制造商另辟蹊径生产本身的产品,向我们在中国的律师咨询有关盗版产品和仿冒问题的公司数目也随之猛增。若该问题涉及到把侵权产品进口到美国,拥有美国知识产权的公司可以采取强大的补救措施进行反击。其中一个最强有力的补救措施就是337条款调查案,它可以用来阻止侵权产品进入美国,无论该产品生产自何处。

337条款调查案(该名称源自于19 U.S.C. 1337法令)可用来打击侵犯版权、商标、专利或商业秘密的进口品。但是由于注册商标和版权拥有人一般上可以采取其它的法律行动,337条款调查案对专利、未注册商标和商业秘密的拥有人尤其有效。虽然该调查案通常局限于知识产权,正在对钢铁产品进行的337调查案中,美国钢铁业试图将不公平行为的定义扩大以便将入侵计算机系统和违反反垄断行为包含在内。

首先,美国国际贸易委员会(“ITC”)会发起337条款的调查。如果ITC发现某进口货侵犯了特定的知识产权,可以发出排除令(exclusion order),美国海关就会扣留所有侵权的进口货。

大量种类各异的产品已经因337条款调查案而被禁止入口:从玩具(魔方拼图、椰菜娃娃)、鞋类(匡威运动鞋)、大型机器(造纸机)、消费类产品(首饰盒、汽车配件、电子香烟和烫发器)到高科技产品(电脑、手机和半导体芯片)等等。

337条款是知识产权和贸易的混合型法令,某个美国产业必须证明受到了伤害。伤害证明的要求很低,几乎所有的案例都符合此要求——只许一些销售损失就能证明伤害。对符合美国产业的要求可说是关键所在。美国产业通常是一家持有相关知识产权的公司。如果该知识产权是一项注册商标、版权或专利,美国产业的要求范围已扩大至凡在美国进行的工厂和设备、劳动力或资本的重大投资,以及专利权开发的实质性投资,包括工程、研发或授权许可,均可视为国内产业。然而,ITC最近提高了美国产业的要求,让专利“流氓”或非执业实体更难提出337调查案诉求。

337条款调查案由行政法官(ALJ)负责审理,诉讼过程迅速且激烈,一般上只需12至15个月来完成。ITC收到一份337调查的申请后,有30天的时间来决定是否立案。一旦确定立案,ITC会将诉状和调查通知答辩方。外国被诉方有30天的时间应诉,美国国内的被诉方则只有20天的时间应诉。如果进口商或外国被诉方没有做出回应,ITC会可认定公司放弃抗辩而发出排除令。

ITC在337调查案中所采取的是“对物”管辖权,也就是针对进口到美国的产品进行管辖。这很合理:ITC无权管制外国公司,但有权管制其进口产品。一般而言,337条款调查案和大多数的普通诉讼案不同,申诉方可以打赢一家1)不可能送达诉状、2)未能出庭聆讯,以及3)不可能被追讨款项的中国公司。

337条款调查案所采取的补救措施是颁布排除令,阻止答辩方的侵权产品进入美国。但是在某些特殊情况下,如果某个产品非常容易制造,ITC可以发布普遍排除令,不分来源地禁止所有同类侵权产品进入美国。以我处理过的魔方拼图案件为例,Ideal公司(申请人)把超过400家台湾公司列为侵犯其普通法商标的答辩人。ITC在1983年发布了普遍排除令(General Exclusion Order),阻止非Ideal公司制造的魔方产品进入美国市场,这一禁令沿用至今。除了排除令,ITC也可以发布制止令(cease and desist orders),禁止美国进口商继续售卖相关侵权产品。

337条款调查案的双方也可以选择庭外和解,但是和解协议必须经由ITC复审。我们经常协助客户尽早解决337条款调查案,以减少他们的诉讼费用。在20世纪90年代初期,RCA针对中国进口的电视提出了337条款调查。所有涉及的中国公司通过与RCA签署授权许可协议,迅速地解决了该调查案。

337条款调查案中的答辩人通常可以通过修改本身产品的设计来避开相关的侵权指责。约翰迪尔(John Deere)曾经指控把拖拉机漆成绿色和黄色的中国公司侵犯了约翰迪尔的商标,因而提出了一项著名的337条款调查案。大部分的中国答辩人与申诉人达成协议并改变拖拉机的颜色,例如蓝红色。

关键点:337条款调查案是ITC发起的强有力诉讼案,美国公司应该把它视为阻止侵权产品进入美国市场的手段。另一方面,涉及这些调查案的美国进口商和外国答辩人应该认真地对待它们,并且迅速做出回应,因为排除令发出后可延续多年有效。

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

 

US CHINA TRADE WAR–PRESIDENTIAL TRADE POLITICS, TPP, COMMERCE AND ITC PUSH PROTECTIONISM

Washington Monument US Capital Evening Washington DCTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR AUGUST 12, 2016

Dear Friends,

Trade continues to be at the center of the Presidential primary with a possible passage of the Trans Pacific Partnership during the Lame Duck Session.  The blog post contains the fourth and fifth articles of a several part series on how weak free trade arguments have led to the sharp rise of protectionism of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the now possible demise of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”).

The first article outlined the problem and why this is such a sharp attack on the TPP and some of the visceral arguments against free trade.  The second article explored in depth the protectionist arguments and the reason for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.  The third article explored the weak and strong arguments against protectionism.

In this blog post, the fourth article discusses one of the most important arguments for the TPP—National Security.  The fifth article discusses why the Commerce Department’s and the US International Trade Commission’s (ITC) policy in antidumping and countervailing duty cases has led to a substantial increase in protectionism and national malaise of international trade victimhood.

Commerce finds dumping in 95% of the cases, and the ITC extends antidumping and countervailing duty orders for 20 to 30 years to protect one company US industries.  Those policies dramatically increase the perception of international trade victimhood—we US companies cannot compete because all imports are unfairly traded, a perception that is simply false.

The final article in my next blog post will be about the only trade program that works and saves the companies and the jobs that go with them—The Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies program.  The Article will describe the attempts by both Congress and the Obama Administration to kill the program, which may, in fact, have resulted in the sharp rise in protectionism in the US.

Congress must again restore the trade safety net so that Congress can again vote for free trade agreements and the United States can return to its leadership in the Free Trade area.  The Congress has to fix the trade situation now before the US and the World return to the Smoot Hawley protectionism of the 1930s.

In addition, set forth are articles on developments involving steel trade litigation, including the restart of the Section 337 Steel Trade Case, and antidumping and countervailing duty reviews in August against Chinese companies.  Just recently on this blog, I published posts on the importance of importer of record in antidumping and countervailng duty cases and the False Claims Act hammer against transshipment

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

TRADE PROTECTIONISM IS STILL A VERY BIG TOPIC OF THE PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION BUT THE TPP MAY NOT DIE

Recently a reader of this blog commented that he believes electing Hilary Clinton will mean that the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) will die.  In my opinion, just the opposite is the case.  Although Hilary Clinton states that she is opposed to the TPP, President Obama is not and continues even recently to push passage of the TPP during the Lame Duck Session, that is the Congressional session after the President election.

I just returned from a trip to Washington DC, which included visits to various Congressional offices on Capitol Hill, and my opinion was confirmed by Congressional trade staff.  Many trade staff, especially in the Democratic offices, believe that TPP will come up in the Lame Duck session to take the issue off of a President Clinton’s desk and many believe it will pass.

On August 11,2016, at a campaign rally in Warren, Michigan, Clinton stated:

“My message to every worker in Michigan and across America is this: I will stop any trade deal that kills jobs or holds down wages, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership. I oppose it now, I’ll oppose it after the election and I’ll oppose it as president.  As a senator, I fought to defend New York’s manufacturers and steel-makers from unfair Chinese trading practices. And I opposed the only multilateral trade deal that came before the Senate while I was there, because it didn’t meet my high bar.”

Hilary Clinton, however, is being pushed to give her approval to the TPP. On July 27, 2016, the Wall Street Journal in an editorial entitled “Clinton’s Trade Opportunism” spoke with open dismay about the protectionist trade arguments coming out of both parties in the Presidential primary.

The cause of open trade is at a low ebb amid the rise of the Sanders-Warren progressives and the Trump tariff right, plus a lack of leadership in Washington. The latest trade liberalizer to recant is Tim Kaine, who said as recently as last Thursday that the Pacific Rim trade deal is “a significant improvement over the status quo,” only to declare his opposition after becoming Mrs. Clinton’s running mate.

Mr. Trump is now assailing Mr. Kaine for Herbert Hoover-come-lately hypocrisy, and he has a point. As Secretary of State, Mrs. Clinton helped negotiate the yet-to-be-ratified Trans Pacific Partnership and gave some 45 public speeches for TPP.  Then to fend off the Sanders challenge, she renounced the final TPP text in October 2015, and getting tough on China, outsourcing and other specters became stump sta­ples. By opposing TPP, she’s running against the last major initiative of a President of her own party, and the Philadelphia Democrats don’t seem to mind.

More remarkable is that no one takes her statements at face value. Her left-right critics think she’s setting up a trade double cross, while corporate CEOs assure us that she is merely making a tactical TPP feint and after the election she’ll push it through Congress.

This perception of trade insincerity does match the Clinton record. In the 1990s her husband promoted the North American Free Trade Agreement and most-favored nation status for China, and she endorsed both in her 2003 memoir ”Living History.”

In the 2007-2008 Democratic primaries, Mrs. Clinton said she would renegotiate the “mistake” that was Nafta, promised to defeat a pending deal with Colombia, and told an AFL· CIO town hall that a U.S.-South Korea pact would “put American jobs at risk.” At Foggy Bottom, she then lobbied Congress to pass the Colombia and Korea agreements, and she deleted her Nafta do-over faster than the emails on her private server.

The Democrat is now bowing deeper than ever to protectionist forces. After Mr. Trump gave an America First speech in June, the Clinton campaign responded in a press release that his rhetoric was “reckless” and his “incoherent approach” would “throw our economy into a recession.” Except for those minor details, the campaign added that he was stealing “Hillary’s best ideas,” which “seem to have moved straight from Hillary Clinton’s policy fact sheets to his teleprompter.”

So is the inner Hilary now a junior -achievement Donald? Who knows? Maybe this time she really has rolled left along with the Democratic Party and she means what she says, in which case she enjoys no particular pro-trade or pro­growth advantage over Mr. Trump.

But if Mrs. Clinton is merely triangulating again, then please spare us the lectures about “recklessness.” Other than pacifying the Warren-Sanders wing, Mrs. Clinton’s new posture gains her little or no 2016 advantage. She can’t outbid Mr. Trump on protectionism, one of the few policy matters that has sustained his attention since the 1980s, and his subtlety-free TPP opposition has already locked down most single-issue voters.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Clinton is damaging prospects for the 12-nation Pacific deal, if only by validating the claims of its opponents. This will make it harder for her to pass it if she is elected, especially if she lacks the will to face down the anti-trade caucus she is now indulging.

Assuming Mrs. Clinton still believes as she used to claim that TPP is critical for U.S. competitiveness and to balance China’s growing influence in the Asia-Pacific, she is undercutting its already dire chances in Congress. She is also knee-capping Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has made TPP central to his economic reform agenda.

Nearly seven of 10 voters tell pollsters they think Mrs. Clinton is untrustworthy, and the reason is no more mysterious than her political character. She’ll say or do anything to get elected, even if means “evolving” from pro­trade first lady to anti-trade presidential candidate to pro-trade Secretary of State to anti­trade candidate back to allegedly pro-trade President.

Mrs. Clinton’s cheerleaders says she’s the responsible candidate who knows better, but the evidence for this is awfully thin.

Although Hilary Clinton is saying she is opposed to the TPP, President Obama is not.  He continues to push for passage of the TPP during the lame duck session in Congress after the Presidential election.  On August 3, 2016, the Wall Street Journal in an article about the meeting between the President and the Singapore Prime Minister entitled, “President Holds the Line on TPP”, President Obama said he is still committed to passing the TPP this year because it “levels the playing field for our workers and helps to ensure countries abide by strong labor and environmental rules.”

The President admitted that the political environment is challenging, but went on to state he has a “better argument”:

”There’s a real problem but the answer is not cutting off globalization. The answer is how do we make sure that globalization, technology, automation-those things work for us, not against us. TPP is designed to do precisely that.”

Singapore Prime Minister Lew Hsien-Loong stated at the conference that he hopes the TPP will pass this year during the lame duck session, stating that not only was the economic impact of the trade agreement at stake, but also America’s leadership:

In terms of economic benefits, the TPP is a big deal.  I think in terms of America’s engagement of the region, you have put [your] reputation on the line. It is the big thing that America is doing in the Asia Pacific [region] in the Obama administration.”

Your partners, your friends who have come to the table, who have negotiated, each one of them has overcome some domestic political objection, some sensitivity, some political cost to come to the table and make this deal. If at the end, waiting at the altar, the bride doesn’t arrive, I think that people are going to be very hurt.”

Although her campaign rhetoric is anti-TPP, in the past Hilary Clinton has stated that she is not clearly opposed to the TPP.  She is opposed to it as written.  But with President Obama pushing for its passage before the inauguration, if Clinton wins, with a wink and a nod from Clinton, Obama will try to push it through in the lame duck session to take the TPP issue off of Clinton’s desk.  Since passage in Congress requires only a majority vote, many Congressional Trade staff in Democratic offices believe the TPP would pass in a lame duck session.

But if Donald Trump wins, all bets are off.  If he wins, no Republican will buck him to pass the TPP.  During the primary when Paul Ryan, Republican Speaker of the House, faced a challenger against the TPP, he recently stated that the TPP will not pass Congress during Obama’s term, and that Ryan has “problems” with the TPP as it is currently drafted.  Ryan stated:

“Obviously I’m for trade agreements.  I wrote [the fast-track trade bill] and I got it passed. But I think they made some pretty big mistakes in how they negotiated it and they gotta fix those. And I don’t know when that’s going to happen. . . We don’t have the votes for it now, and I believe they have to fix some of these things. And I don’t know if and when they’re going to be able to fix those things.”

But Donald Trump too is being pushed on the trade issue.  On August 9, 2016 the Wall Street Journal in an Editorial “Trump on the Economy” gave Trumps’s August 8th economic speech at the Detroit Economic Club high marks, but then pointed out “the poison pill of trade protectionism.”  The Journal went on to state:

Mr. Trump believes that a trade deficit equals lost American jobs, when there is no such connection.  The U.S. tends to run bigger trade deficits when the economy is strong, and vice versa.  By that logic the fastest way to cut the trade deficit is to have a recession, but that would only cost more jobs.

Raising taxes at the border -aka tariffs—wouldn’t keep jobs in the U.S. but would reduce the standard of living for U.S. consumers.  His promise to punish U.S. companies for investing overseas could end up costing more jobs if it caused companies to relocate more of their operations overseas to avoid the punishment.  Global supply chains are crucial to preserving U.S. manufacturing jobs.

The question with Mr. Trump is how much his trade agenda would interfere with his pro-growth domestic policies.  If Republicans in Congress blocked his worst trade instincts, the damage could be small.  If he used executive powers to wage a trade war, look out.  With the mercurial New Yorker, you never know.

On August 3, 2016, the same day of the Obama/Lee Meeting, six Republican representatives came out against taking up the TPP during the lame duck session. In a letter written by Republican Candice Miller of Michigan along with five other Republican representatives, the lawmakers state:

“TPP will set the template for trade for the next generation.  It will not only impact the current 12 member nations but also countries like South Korea and China that could join in the future. A ‘lame duck’ Congress should not vote on an agreement of this consequence — it would be an end-run around the American people immediately following an election.”

The key concern of the members is currency manipulation, further stating:

“The TPP does not include enforceable rules to stop currency manipulators. Once America has given up the leverage of gaining full access to its consumer markets, the possibility of prohibiting currency manipulation — or reaching equitable agreements in many other areas — will be lost forever.”

The letter states that “a great deal more work” has to be done to bring the TPP up to standard.

One Congressman Dave Trott of Michigan issued his own statement with the letter saying that he believes the TPP can work for the U.S. economy, but Obama has run out of time to fix the agreement and the issue should be passed to the next President:

“The President should respect the voters’ choice of a new chief executive and allow his successor to work with Congress to negotiate a stronger agreement that puts Michigan workers and businesses first,”

THE KEY ISSUE MISSED IN THE TPP DEBATE IS NATIONAL SECURITY—TRADE WARS CAN LEAD TO REAL WARS

But the key issue missed in the TPP debate is illustrated by Prime Minister Lee’s statement above.  America’s reputation is on the line.  The TPP is a “big thing” that America is doing in the Asia-Pacific.

On July 10, 2014, General David Petraeus stated regarding the ongoing TPP negotiations:

“The consequences for Washington getting the TPP right are huge, opening some of the world’s fastest-growing markets to more U.S. exports, improving American competitiveness, growing the global middle class, and fostering the prosperous, open and rules-based Asia that is in everyone’s interest.

But the fate of the trade pact is also tied closely to America’s national security.

Indeed, a paralyzed or collapsed TPP process would be seen by our allies, partners and adversaries across Asia as a body blow not only to the credibility of America’s economic leadership, but to our geopolitical position more broadly, deepening doubts about Washington’s staying power and strength. And this, in turn, would carry spillover effects in the security realm, exacerbating military tensions and territorial rivalries and ultimately raising the threat of conflict.”

On May 16, 2016 in a Wall Street Journal Article entitled “Abandoning the Pacific pact will tell America’s Asian allies that the U.S. is yielding to China. They will accommodate accordingly” Robert Zoellick, the former United States Trade Representative under President Bush, stated:

“In an uncertain world, America’s future security depends on both upgrading military capabilities and expanding economic opportunities. The Trans-Pacific Partnership, a trade accord among 12 countries accounting for almost 40% of the global economy, draws together these two strands of strategy. . . .

Strategists have long recognized the interrelationship between economics and security. . . .

The TPP supplies the economic foundation for this new Asia-Pacific security network. In this region, economics, trade and investment are the coins of the diplomatic realm. TPP recognizes both America’s concrete economic interests in Asia and demonstrates U.S. steadfastness. If the U.S. abandons TPP, our Asian allies and partners will perceive America as yielding to China, and they will accommodate accordingly. . . .

The U.S. strategy is designed to shape decisions in Beijing, not contain China. The U.S. and its partners have benefited from China’s amazing growth. Over the past three decades, China’s economic reformers have imported rules of the international trading system to transform internal markets. China now needs to make more complex supply-side reforms to increase consumption and growth led by the private sector. The U.S.-led network in the Asia Pacific, of which TPP is a vital part, welcomes China’s peaceful integration while discouraging aggression.

America’s Founding Fathers, and every generation since, recognized that economic strength at home is vital for U.S. security. In the 19th century, the U.S. became a Pacific power. The 20th century demonstrated that conflicts in East Asia can threaten the U.S., but also that U.S. security can underpin Asia’s prosperity. The U.S. now needs to create an economic and security network in the Asia-Pacific for the 21st century. Historians will look back on America’s embrace of TPP—or its failure to do so—as a turning point in U.S. global strategy.”

As we look at history, including the reasons for World War 2, one cause was trade conflict.  If trade conflict is not controlled and handled correctly, it can lead to military conflict and that is a very big reason for the TPP.

When I was at the US International Trade Commission as a young attorney, Catherine Bedell a former ITC Chairman, who had been a Congresswoman from Oregon, came by to give a speech, clearly stating that we were not just involved in economic conflicts.  Our job was really dealing with war and peace.

The sharp rise of US protectionism threatens the foundation of peace that has been in place since World War 2.  If every country goes nationalistic, that is when real wars can start.

ANOTHER REASON FOR THE SHARP RISE IN TRADE PROTECTIONISM—THE COMMERCE DEPARTMENT AND THE INTERNATIONAL TRADE COMMISSION

In addition to the weak free trade arguments, described in my blog post, another reason for the sharp rise in protectionism are the Commerce Department’s (“Commerce”) and the US International Trade Commission’s (“ITC”) determinations in antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  By its own regulation, Commerce finds dumping and subsidization in almost every case, and the ITC in Sunset Review Investigation leaves antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place for as long as 20 to 30 years, often to protect single company US industries, resulting in permanent barriers to imports and the creation of monopolies.

Many readers may ask why should people care if prices go up a few dollars at WalMart for US consumers?  Jobs remain.  As mentioned in past newsletters, however, out of the 130 plus antidumping and countervailing duty orders against China, more than 80 of the orders are against raw materials, chemicals, metals and steel, that go directly into downstream US production.

The Magnesium Antidumping order has led to the demise of the US Magnesium Dye Casting Industry and the movement of the light weight auto parts industry to Canada.  An antidumping order against Sulfanilic Acid, which has been in place for more than 30 years to protect a one company US industry, resulted in injury to the US optical brightener industry.  An antidumping order against electrolytic manganese dioxide, in part, resulted in the closure of Panasonic’s US battery factory.

AD and CVD orders do not save the US industries.  They can save one company US industries, but only by substantially injuring, if not destroying, their customers, the downstream industries.  Antidumping and countervailing duty orders against raw material inputs provide substantial incentive for production and manufacturing companies in the downstream industries to leave the United States taking their jobs with them to find cheaper raw material inputs.  What nontariff trade barriers did to Japan, the US is now doing to itself through its AD and CVD law.

Another problem with the Commerce Department’s methodology of finding dumping in almost 100% of the cases is that it fuels the myth advocated by the Steel industry, the Union, Donald Trump himself and Hilary Clinton herself that all imports are dumped and all imports are subsidized and the general feeling of global trade victimhood.  We US companies and workers simply cannot compete because all imports are unfairly traded, dumped and subsidized, so the answer is put up the protectionist walls.

Both Hilary Clinton and Donald Trump believe that they have to crack down on all unfair trade, which has been the catch word for dumping and subsidization.  In their acceptance speeches at their respective conventions, both candidates emphasized the need to get tough on unfair trade.  During the Primary, Clinton stated:

As President, I’ll aggressively pursue trade cases and impose consequences when China breaks the rules by dumping its cheap products in our markets. And I’ll oppose efforts to grant China so-called “market economy” status, which would weaken our tools for dealing with this behavior.  I’ve gone toe-to-toe with China’s top leaders on some of the toughest issues we face. I know how they operate – and they know that if I’m President, the games are going to end.

Donald Trump has been more explicit stating in his acceptance speech at the Republican convention:

We are going to enforce all trade violations, including through the use of taxes and tariffs, against any country that cheats.

This includes stopping China’s outrageous theft of intellectual property, along with their illegal product dumping, and their devastating currency manipulation.

But the problem is that the Commerce Department has defined dumping so that 95% of the products imported into the United States are dumped.  How does Commerce do it?

19 U.S.C § 1673d(c)(5)(B) of the Antidumping Law provides:

“If the estimated weighted average dumping margins established for all exporters and producers individually investigated are zero or de minimis margins, or are [based on AFA], the administering authority may use any reasonable method to establish the estimated all-others rate for exporters and producers not individually investigated . . . .”

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

For all other foreign exporters, the Commerce Department may use any other reasonable method to calculate antidumping rates.  As the Department states in numerous cases, to non-mandatory companies not individually investigated, the Department assigns “a weighted-average of the rates individually calculated for the mandatory respondents, excluding any rates that were zero, de minimis, or based entirely on facts available . . . .”

What does this dense statutory language mean in practice?

It means if a foreign company, including a Chinese company, is not selected as a mandatory company to be individually investigated in an antidumping case, it will get a positive dumping rate, which is the average of dumping rates of those few companies selected as mandatory respondents, not including 0% dumping rates.

How many companies does Commerce generally select in antidumping cases against China and other countries to individually investigate? Recently, it has been two or three companies out of 10s and 100s of respondent companies involved in the case.

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

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

So the issue is not whether the foreign company is dumping, the real issue is what is the dumping rate going to be?  Commerce has many methodologies to jack up antidumping rates.  In antidumping cases against China, Commerce treats China as a nonmarket economy country and, therefore, refuses to use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping, which makes it very easy for Commerce to find very high dumping rates.

In market economy cases, Commerce has used zeroing to create antidumping rates.  What is zeroing?  In simple terms, dumping is first defined as selling products at prices in the United States below prices in the foreign home market.  Let’s assume a foreign producer sells the same products but at different times during the investigation.  Early in the investigation, the foreign company makes two sales at the same price in the home market and the US market of $2 per widget.  Later in the investigation period, it sells two widgets one in the home market at $4 and one in the US at $4.  No dumping right?  Wrong answer.

By zeroing, Commerce averages the prices in the foreign market and gives no credit for negative margins.  So the quote Normal Value, which is the average of the two prices, is $3 a widget.  When that Normal Value is compared to the $4 US price that is no dumping, which should result in a -1 dumping margin.  But Commerce does not give companies credit for not dumping.  Through zeroing no dumping margins just become 0s.  But when the normal value is compared to the $2 price, that is dumping and no credit is given for the negative dumping margin.  Because of zeroing, even though at the time the specific sales in question were made there was no dumping, Commerce creates a dumping margin.

The World Trade Organization has determined that zeroing is contrary to WTO Antidumping Agreement, but that has not stopped Commerce. It still uses zeroing in many cases, and recently came up with a new methodology “targeted dumping” to allow it to continue to use zeroing.  The WTO recently ruled that the “targeted dumping” methodology is contrary to the WTO Antidumping Agreement, but that will not stop Commerce.  Its duty is to find dumping margins even when they do not exist.

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

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

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

Under the Sunset Review methodology, the ITC never sunsets antidumping and countervailing duty orders in many Reviews unless the US industry no longer exists.

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

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

The problem with protected industries was best stated by President Ronald Reagan himself in his June 1986 speechBETTER COPY REAGAN IT SPEECH:

“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.”

Meeting all competition is the only thing that keeps companies strong.  Protection, such as that given to the US Steel industry, simply makes the companies weaker until the companies die on their own.

But Globalization victimhood could well lead to the demise of the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) and the loss of benefits to 100s, if not, thousands of US companies and industries, including agriculture, high tech and certain manufacturing companies.  Perception is reality in the United States, and the perception created by Commerce and the ITC is that every import is dumped and subsidized, and, therefore, the US simply cannot afford to sign another trade agreement.

In my next blog post, the final article in this series is the real answer to trade problems—Trade Adjustment Assistance for Firms/Companies, and how this program can be used to save trade injured US companies and the jobs that go with them without any impact on downstream industries whatsoever.  TAA for Firms/Companies creates jobs, not destroy them.

The first step to getting into the program, however, is to reject Globalization victimhood.  Those companies that take that step succeed and they succeed very well keeping the jobs in the United States where they belong, while those companies that fail to reject the mindset will die.

STEEL TRADE CASES

ITC RESTARTS STEEL 337 CASE

On August 5, 2016, in the attached notice, ITC STEEL 337 NOTICE, the ITC reversed the Order of the Administrative Law Judge suspending the 337 Steel investigation and started the investigation moving again.  In the notice, the ITC stated it would give its reasons in a forthcoming opinion.

On May 26, 2016, the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) initiated the section 337 case against all Chinese steel imports on the basis of three primary counts:

“(1) a conspiracy to fix prices and control output and export volumes, in violation of Section 1 of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1; (2) the misappropriation and use of U.S. Steel’s trade secrets; and (3) the false designation of origin or manufacturer, in violation of the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125(a).”

AUGUST ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On August 5, 2016, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, FED REG AS PUBLISHED, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of August. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Ironing Tables, Laminated Woven Sacks, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires, Petroleum Wax Candles, Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags, Sodium Nitrite, Steel Nails, Sulfanilic Acid, Tetrahydrofurfuryl Alcohol, and Tow Behind Lawn Groomers.   The specific countervailing duty cases are: Laminated Woven Sacks, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires and Sodium Nitrite,

For those US import companies that imported : Ironing Tables, Laminated Woven Sacks, Light-Walled Rectangular Pipe and Tube, Passenger Vehicle and Light Truck Tires, Petroleum Wax Candles, Polyethylene Retail Carrier Bags, Sodium Nitrite, Steel Nails, Sulfanilic Acid, Tetrahydrofurfuryl Alcohol, and Tow Behind Lawn Groomers during the antidumping period August 1, 2015-July 31, 2016 or the countervailing duty period of review, calendar year 2015, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

While in China recently, I found so many examples of Chinese solar companies or US importers, which did not file requests for a review investigation.  In one instance, although the Chinese companies obtained separate rates during the initial investigation, the Petitioner appealed to the Court.  Several Chinese companies and US importers did not know the case was appealed, and the importers now owe millions in antidumping duties because they failed to file a request for a review investigation in December 2015.

 

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

 

 

 

 

 

US CHINA TRADE WAR–WEAK FREE TRADE ARGUMENTS CREATE PROTECTIONISM AND PROBABLE DEMISE OF TPP, STEEL, ANTIDUMPING REVIEWS AND NEW 337 CASE

White House Night Pennsylvania Ave Washington DCTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR MAY 19, 2016 UPDATE

Dear Friends,

The ITC has released its report on the Trans Pacific Partnership and a new 337 cases have been filed against US importers and Chinese companies on inflatable devices.

Best regards,

Bill Perry

ITC RELEASES TPP REPORT

On May 18, 2016, The US International Trade Commission (“ITC”) released its attached report on the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (“TPP”), ITC TPP REPORT.  The Main Findings of the ITC Report are set forth below.  The Report was a mixed bag finding that the overall US economy would grow by 0.23% by $57.23 billion by year 15 of the Agreement (2032) with agriculture being the biggest winner followed by services with a modest increase in employment.  But the ITC report also found that manufacturing, natural resources and the energy sectors would lose business by $10.8 billion (0.1 percent) lower with the TPP Agreement than it would be compared with baseline estimates without the agreement.

But the major gains with the TPP are in the other areas with the ITC finding that “the two new electronic commerce provisions that protect cross-border data flows and prohibit data localization requirements to be crucial to the development of cross-border trade in services.  . . .”

Outside Parties emphasized:

“the importance of TPP chapters addressing intellectual property rights, customs and trade facilitation, investment, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, and state-owned enterprises.”

With the release of the ITC TPP Report, the Congress is free to take up the passage of the TPP.  U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman stated that the ITC’s report will be just one of the arguments the Administration will use to push Congress to vote on the ratification of the agreement before President Barack Obama leaves office.  Froman specifically stated:

“The ITC report provides another strong argument for why TPP should be passed this year. It is part of a growing body of evidence that shows that TPP will benefit our economy at home and allow the U.S. to help set the rules of the road for trade in the Asia Pacific.”

Although Congressional experts originally indicated a possibility of taking the TPP up during the summer, the strong protectionist tide in the Presidential Election has prompted many experts both in and out of Congress to predict that the lame-duck session of Congress following the November elections as the first real opportunity for Congress to consider the TPP.

In a conference call with reporters, however, Froman revealed that USTR is moving forward with an expedited implementation of the TPP to make sure that the 11 other nations in the agreement are ready to comply with its terms as soon as the Agreement takes effect.  Usually the implementation process does not begin until the deal is ratified, but as USTR Froman states:

“We’ve begun an accelerated implementation process to be sure that we can give members of Congress the confidence they need that by the time the agreement enters into force that our trading partners will have fully complied with the terms of the agreement and that their constituents will get the full benefit of the deal.”

The ITC’s Report Main Findings are:

“The Commission used a dynamic computable general equilibrium model to determine the impact of TPP relative to a baseline projection that does not include TPP. The model estimated that TPP would have positive effects, albeit small as a percentage of the overall size of the U.S. economy. By year 15 (2032), U.S. annual real income would be $57.3 billion (0.23 percent) higher than the baseline projections, real GDP would be $42.7 billion (0.15 percent) higher, and employment would be 0.07 percent higher (128,000 full-time equivalents). U.S. exports and U.S. imports would be $27.2 billion (1.0 percent) and $48.9 billion (1.1 percent) higher, respectively, relative to baseline projections. U.S. exports to new FTA partners would grow by $34.6 billion (18.7 percent); U.S. imports from those countries would grow by $23.4 billion (10.4 percent).

Among broad sectors of the U.S. economy, agriculture and food would see the greatest percentage gain relative to the baseline projections; output would be $10.0 billion, or 0.5 percent, higher by year 15. The services sector would benefit, with a gain of $42.3 billion (0.1 percent) in output. Output in manufacturing, natural resources, and energy would be $10.8 billion (0.1 percent) lower with the TPP Agreement than it would be compared with baseline estimates without the agreement.

Many stakeholders consider two new electronic commerce provisions that protect cross-border data flows and prohibit data localization requirements to be crucial to the development of cross-border trade in services, and vital to optimizing the global operations of large and small U.S. companies in all sectors.

TPP would generally establish trade-related disciplines that strengthen and harmonize regulations, increase certainty, and decrease trade costs for firms that trade and invest in the TPP region. Interested parties particularly emphasized the importance of TPP chapters addressing intellectual property rights, customs and trade facilitation, investment, technical barriers to trade, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, and state-owned enterprises.

NEW SECTION 337 CASE FILED AGAINST CHINA

On May 19, 2016, Intex Recreation Corp. and Intex Marketing Ltd. filed a new section 337 case against imports of Inflatable Products and Processes for Making the Same from China.  The respondent companies are in China and Hong Kong.  Please see relevant notice below:

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Inflatable Products and Processes for Making the Same. The proposed respondents are: Bestway (USA) Inc., Phoenix, Arizona; Bestway Global Holdings Inc., China; Bestway (Hong Kong) International Ltd., Hong Kong; Bestway Inflatables & Materials Corporation, China; and Bestway (Nantong) Recreation Corp., China.

If anyone wants a copy of the complaint, please feel free to contact me.

US CHINA TRADE WAR MAY 12, 2016 BLOG POST

Dear Friends,

As mentioned in my last blog post, as of May 1, 2016, I am no longer at the Dorsey law firm.  The transition is complete and my new law firm is Harris Moure, here in Seattle and my new e-mail address is bill@harrismoure.com.  The US China Trade War blog and newsletter are now coming from Harris Moure.

As also mentioned, Dan Harris, my partner, has a very famous blog, www.chinalawblog.com, which is followed by many companies that are interested in doing business in and with China.  Dan is determined to enlarge my readership so he is pushing me to write more smaller articles and take long articles, such as those on the TPP and the rise of protectionism in the US, and make them a series.

In that light, set forth below is the first of a several part series on how weak free trade arguments have led to the sharp rise of protectionism of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the probable demise of the TPP.  The first article will outline the problem and why this is such a sharp attack on the Trans Pacific Partnership and some of the visceral arguments against free trade.  The second article will explore in depth the protectionist arguments and the reason for the rise of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders and the weak free trade arguments to counter the protectionism.  The final article will focus on the Probable Demise of the TPP, failure of Congressional Trade Policy and what can be done to provide the safety net that will allow Congress again to vote for free trade agreements so that the United States can return to its leadership in the Free Trade area.

The Congress has to fix the trade situation now before the US and the World return to the Smoot Hawley protectionism of the 1930s.

In addition, set forth are several developments involving steel trade litigation, antidumping and countervailing duty reviews against Chinese companies and a new 337 patent case against Chinese companies.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

WEAK FREE TRADE ARGUMENTS CREATE THE RISE OF TRUMP/SANDERS PROTECTIONISM AND PROBABLE DEMISE OF TRANS PACIFIC PARTNERSHIP (“TPP”)

Three weeks ago former Democratic Congressman Don Bonker, a good friend, told me “The TPP is dead”.  Don has always been very skeptical that the Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”) would pass Congress.

Don also believes Hilary Clinton will beat Trump in a landslide, and the Democrats will take both the Senate and the House.  Although Clinton may win, I do not believe that it will be a blowout and do not believe the Republicans will lose both the Senate and especially the House.

Don told me he did not know one person voting for Trump.  My 95 old mother voted for Trump in the Massachusetts primary because as a former Republican state committeewomen, she saw a groundswell of Trump support from Democrats, with many, such as her hairdresser, asking “how do I become a Republican to vote for Trump”.  The last time she saw that was 1980 when Reagan won the Presidency and took Massachusetts.  In fact, the Massachusetts Registry of Voters has reported 100s of thousands of Democrats switching parties to vote for Trump.  Massachusetts is a very, very Blue Democratic state.

Another good friend, a Oregon factory owner, told me he is voting for Trump and all of his friends are voting for Trump.  A recent Quinnipac poll has Trump and Clinton in a dead heat in the three crucial swing states—Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

This is momentum and the momentum at the present time is with Trump.  With momentum Trump will be able to expand his base, but it is questionable whether Clinton can do so.

But it is the second point of Don’s argument that is of interest to this audience.  If the Democrats take the Congress, he firmly believes the US will become much more protectionist because of the Democratic relationship to the labor unions.  All the labor unions are opposed to the TPP.

So the Democrats are becoming even more protectionist as well as the Republicans under Donald Trump.  This is a huge groundswell of US protectionism on both sides of the political equation, which could very well kill the TPP and move the United States down a very protectionist path.

On the Republican side, Trump himself has condemned the TPP and in Cosa Mesa, California and subsequent speeches stated that in a Trump Administration there will be no free trade agreements.  In fact, in an April 28, 2016 editorial on Trump’s recent Foreign Policy speech, the Wall Street Journal’s one sharp disagreement with Trump is his trade policy:

“Mr. Trump’s threats of trade wars with China, Mexico and Japan may please nationalists, but such brinkmanship could well provoke another global recession.  American interests must come first but the trade-offs are inevitably complex Republican and Democratic Presidents since the 1930s have concluded that trade is a net benefit to the economy. . . .”

In an April 27, 2016 article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “How Trump Killed Reaganism”, William Galston states:

Economic issues were secondary, which permitted business-oriented Republican elites to dominate their party’s economic agenda with free trade, a welcoming immigration policy and efforts to “reform”—that is, cut—major entitlement programs. As late as George W. Bush’s second term, these concerns remained paramount.

With the onset of the Great Recession, however, the alliance between the white working class and business elites began to fray. Workers blamed trade for the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs, and blamed immigrants for declining wages as well as for rising welfare expenditures and social disorder. Amid rising economic uncertainty, these voters were in no mood to put their remaining sources of economic reassurance—Social Security and Medicare—on the chopping block. “Limited government” meant cutting programs for the undeserving poor, not for working- and middle-class households.

Enter Donald Trump, who proposes to turn Reaganism on its head.  . . . Mr. Trump rejects current trade treaties as bad bargains struck by inept U.S. negotiators and paints immigration as an assault on American workers and society itself.

So it has come to this: A mercantilist isolationist is the odds-on favorite to win the Republican presidential nomination. Whether or not he goes on to win the general election, the Republican Party cannot return to what it once was.

The Reagan era has ended, and what comes next is anyone’s guess.

With the Indiana primary, Trump consolidated his position as the nominee for the Republican party, but what about Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side?  He won the Indiana primary and recently the West Virginia primary.  In response to my last article on the Trump Impact on Trade Policy, one Canadian exporter/US importer contacted me to say that Trump’s position on international trade is why it is better to support Senator Bernie Sanders:

I read your interview on LinkedIn about the Trump effect on International trade if he becomes President.  It was short, and sweet and pretty well summed up most people’s feelings who are in business.  We debate both him and Bernie Sanders up here in Canada and find it all fascinating.  The people who are supporting Trump would actually be better served supporting Sanders for his beliefs, with his policies better serving the “less” educated.  Trumps policies will bury his followers and they don’t seem to grasp it at all.  Protectionism is SO PASSE it’s scary they are even discussing it.

The e-mail illustrates an important problem with the Bernie Sanders alternative.  When it comes to international trade, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are two peas in a pod.  Frankly, on trade Bernie Sanders may be more protectionist than Donald Trump.  Why??

Trump has said that when he talks about high tariffs on Chinese imports, that is only a threat, a bargaining ploy to get better leverage in any negotiation with China and other countries.  Thus during the Florida debate Donald Trump clarified his stance on increased tariffs for foreign goods, stating that he would consider massive hikes as “threats” designed to force China and other countries to “behave.”

In the Florida debate, Trump specifically called the 45 percent “tax” on Chinese imports a threat:

It was not a tax, it was a threat. It will be a tax if they don’t behave. Take China as an example. I have many friends, great manufacturers, they want to go into China. They can’t. China won’t let them. We talk about free trade. It’s not true free trade, it’s stupid trade.

Trump went on to state that China is dumping its goods into the US market with “no tax, no nothing, no problems.” Trump further argued that U.S. manufacturers cannot get into the Chinese market:

I have the best people, manufacturers, they can’t get in. When they get in, they have to pay a tremendous tax.  If [China and other countries] don’t follow the rules and regulations so that we can have it equal on both sides, we will tax you. It doesn’t have to be 45, it could be less. But it has to be something because our country and our trade and our deals and most importantly our jobs are going to hell.

On the Democratic side, Bernie, who wants to keep labor union support, is not making threats.  In fact, Bernie Sanders on trade is just as protectionist, if not more protectionist than Donald Trump as illustrated on his Presidential website, which states, in part:

Bernie Sanders believes that the top priority of any trade deal should be to help American workers. Unfortunately, as Bernie has warned year after year, American trade policy over the last 30 years has done just the opposite. Multinational corporations – who have helped to write most of these trade deals – have benefited greatly while millions of American jobs have been shipped overseas.

American trade policy should place the needs of American workers and small businesses first.

Bernie’s strong opposition to destructive “free trade” deals began with NAFTA in 1993. . . .    As with NAFTA, Bernie warned in 2000 that Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China would help multinational corporations at the expense of workers and the environment. ….

The TPP follows in the footsteps of the previous pro-corporate trade deals. It lacks safeguards to protect American jobs and the environment while giving massive benefits to large multinational corporations. . . .

Bernie has stated repeatedly that his top priority is making sure that all Americans have access to good paying jobs. For this reason he has been a leader in Congress in the fight against the free trade agreements that have been negotiated over the past three decades. Bernie’s passionate warnings against these deals have, unfortunately for American workers, all been proven right as these trade deals have offshored a massive amount of decent paying jobs and have closed tens of thousands of factories across our country. . . .

Why is Bernie against most trade agreements?

He believes that free trade agreements like NAFTA, Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China, and the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement have allowed too many American jobs to move overseas. . . .

As he said in 1993 on the House floor before voting against it, “NAFTA may be a good deal for the people who own our corporations, but it is a bad deal for American workers, for our family farmers, and it is bad for the environment.”

And Bernie is nothing if not consistent. Here he is over 20 years later warning against the Trans-Pacific Partnership:

“Let’s be clear: the TPP is much more than a “free trade” agreement. It is part of a global race to the bottom to boost the profits of large corporations and Wall Street by outsourcing jobs; undercutting worker rights; dismantling labor, environmental, health, food safety and financial laws; and allowing corporations to challenge our laws in international tribunals rather than our own court system.

With regard to trade with China, Bernie Sanders states on his Presidential website:

Bernie firmly believes that current trade relations with China are detrimental to job growth and wealth equality in the United States. Referring specifically to the 2015 Trans-Pacific Partnership [which does not include China], Bernie has decried trade deals with China as being “designed to protect the interests of the largest multi-national corporations at the expense of workers, consumers, the environment and the foundations of American democracy.” . . .

Time and time again, Bernie has voted against free trade deals with China. In 1999, Bernie voted in the House against granting China “Most Favored Nation” status. In 2000, Bernie voted against Permanent Normal Trade Relations with China which aimed to create jobs, but instead lead to the loss of more than 3 million jobs for Americans.

“Let’s be clear: one of the major reasons that the middle class in America is disappearing, poverty is increasing and the gap between the rich and everyone else is growing wider and wider is due to our disastrous unfettered free trade policy.” . . .

With these statements, Bernie Sanders sounds just like Donald Trump.  To see Bernie Sanders in action on trade, see his statements on the Senate floor against the Trans Pacific Partnership and China.  See http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-trade/ and http://feelthebern.org/bernie-sanders-on-china/.

In his China speech, just like Senator Sessions, who advises Donald Trump on trade, Sanders confuses normal trade relations with China with a Free Trade Agreement, stating that PNTR was a free trade agreement with China.  When the US gave normal trade relations with China, it did not set up a Free Trade Agreement with China.  Permanent Normal Trade Relations (“PNTR”) only means that China is treated like all other countries, such as Iran, Syria, Russia, Ukraine and many other countries.  There is no unfettered free trade agreement with China.

Both the Democrats and the Republicans have now made international trade and free trade agreements one of the burning issues in the Presidential election.  On March 10, 2016, CNN Reporter Stephen Collinson in an article entitled, “How Trump and Sanders tapped America’s Economic Rage” stated:

Finally, somebody is listening. Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders might be poles apart in their politics and temperament, but they are voicing visceral feelings of economic disenfranchisement and alienation among pessimistic voters who feel they’ve been ignored for years.

The billionaire and the democratic socialist are in different ways speaking for vast populations of Americans who feel threatened by globalization, who question the benefits of “free trade” that political leaders have peddled for decades and who believe distant elites control the economy in ways detrimental to their lives and prospects.

It is turning out to be a potent electoral brew –which has lifted insurgent candidates like Trump and Sanders throughout the 2016 cycle and challenged foes like Hillary Clinton and establishment Republicans who have found it tougher to reconcile the grass-roots anger. . . .

Trump’s message is explosive, identifying culprits in what he sees as the corrupt cabal of Washington politicians and supposedly sinister outsiders, like illegal immigrants, job-stealing Chinese firms or tough negotiators who run rings around effete U.S. officials in places like Vietnam and Japan. To his backers, he is the fiercest shark in a global pool who, if nothing else, will have the rest of the world again fearing America’s bite. . . .

The story was similar on the Democratic side, where 57% of Democratic voters in Michigan said trade takes away U.S. jobs. Among people who thought so, Sanders was the most popular candidate.

“I think the key to him winning in Michigan was his clear message on the trade policies,” Sanders campaign manager Jeff Weaver told CNN . . . . “Michigan is a state that has been devastated by bad trade deals. He has opposed every one and Secretary Clinton has supported almost every one. People in Michigan know what the real impact of that is.”

But Sanders has established a narrative difficult to counter. His approach to Americans’ anxieties is to offer a “political revolution,” one that would rewrite the rules of the American economy — and the global one — according to a much more progressive blueprint.

His denunciations of Wall Street “oligarchs” and complaints of a “rigged” economy and a “corrupt” campaign finance system play into the feelings of his supporters that they are powerless to address the worsening conditions of their lives.

He hammers NAFTA and pacts with China, that have boosted global trade flows, fed America’s addiction for cheap goods from abroad, but also left a trail of victims in industrial states where the manufacturing base just could not compete with the low-wage rising economies of Asia and elsewhere.

And Clinton has also yet to come up with an effective riposte to assaults by Sanders on her paid speeches to Wall Street firms after she stepped down as secretary of state.

The Sanders win in Michigan has some of his supporters sensing that a campaign that seems inexorably trending away from him may at least thrive through the journey through primaries in Rust Belt states like Pennsylvania, Illinois and Wisconsin that often turn on blue-collar issues.

And even if he cannot catch Clinton, Sanders can take credit for dragging her to her left on economic questions, as she now speaks in her stump speech about the need to make hollowed out American communities “whole” again. . . .

To see the entire article, see http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/09/politics/sanders-trump-econom… 3/11/2016

Although it is certain that Hilary Clinton will win the Democratic nomination, Bernie Sanders has forced Clinton to move to the left and take a much tougher stance on international trade.  There is talk that Hilary may take Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, as her Vice President, a  very strong protectionist, who is viscerally opposed to the TPP.

The hot protectionist rhetoric of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders have made international trade one of the center points of the election.  The simple truth is that when weak academic, theoretical economic arguments for free trade meet the hard visceral arguments of bombed out US factories and the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs, the free trade arguments melt away.

On March 15, 2016, the New York Times in an article entitled, “On Trade, Angry Voters Have a Point” stated:

Were the experts wrong about the benefits of trade for the American economy? . . .

Voters’ anger and frustration, driven in part by relentless globalization and technological change, may not propel either candidate to the presidency. But it is already having a big impact on America’s future, shaking a once-solid consensus that freer trade is, necessarily, a good thing.

“The economic populism of the presidential campaign has forced the recognition that expanded trade is a double-edged sword,” wrote Jared Bernstein, former economic adviser to Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr.

What seems most striking is that the angry working class — dismissed so often as myopic, unable to understand the economic trade-offs presented by trade — appears to have understood what the experts are only belatedly finding to be true:  The benefits from trade to the American economy may not always justify its costs. . . .

In another study they wrote with Daron Acemoglu and Brendan Price from M.I.T., they estimated that rising Chinese imports from 1999 to 2011 cost up to 2.4 million American jobs. . . .

The Chinese export onslaught, however, left a scar on the American working class that has not healed. That disproportionate impact suggests Washington officialdom might do well to reassess its approach to future trade liberalization. . . .

Perhaps most important, the new evidence from trade suggests American policy makers cannot continue to impose all the pain on the nation’s blue-collar workers if they are not going to provide a stronger safety net.

That might have been justified if the distributional costs of trade were indeed small and short-lived. But now that we know they are big and persistent, it looks unconscionable.  (emphasis added.)

One of the reasons for the sharp rise in protectionism is the weak safety net, trade adjustment assistance, especially trade adjustment assistance for companies, which will be discussed in follow-up articles on this topic,

On March 15, 2016, Phyllis Schafly, a well-known Republican pundit, stated on Invstors.com that the Republican candidates are turning against trade deals, stating:

The first question asked of the presidential candidates at the most recent Republican debate, hosted by CNN in Miami on March 10, was “whether trade deals have been good for the American workers.”

Moderator Jake Tapper observed that one of Donald Trump’s “signature issues” has been his criticism of “disastrous trade deals” that have destroyed many good middle-class jobs that existed a generation ago. . . .

Ohio Gov. John Kasich likes to remind everyone that he “grew up in a blue collar family,” but votes he cast during his 18 years in Congress helped to decimate the manufacturing base of his home state. Kasich voted for the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, and in 2000 he voted to grant the “normal” trading privileges, which allowed China to enter the World Trade Organization. . . .

Sen. Ted Cruz once voted in favor of presidential trade authority before reversing himself on the subsequent vote last year. Cruz now says he opposes the TPP, but Congress has never rejected a trade deal after giving the president the authority to negotiate it.

“I am different in one primary respect, and that’s trade,” Trump insisted in the debate, explaining that “trade deals are absolutely killing our country.” He has proposed tariffs to offset abusive practices such as currency devaluation by “certain countries that are taking advantage of the United States and laughing at our stupidity.” . . . .

According to the 200-year-old theory of free trade, workers who lose manufacturing jobs to China should be able to find new jobs in other industries that benefit from a trade surplus, such as the pharmaceutical industry, or in non-tradable industries such as medicine and legal services. But millions of these workers, many of whom are men struggling to support their families, have not found adequate replacement jobs.

Some settle for lower-paying jobs, while others give up entirely, creating a social issue as well as an economic one. The percentage of men between 25 and 54 years old who are not employed has tripled in the last half century, and many who had been working at $40-per-hour manufacturing jobs are now receiving only $10-per-hour jobs at Wal-Mart or fast-food joints. . . .

In the general election in November, there will be millions of voters ready to cast their ballots for a candidate who stands up for American workers rather than catering to lobbyists who seek free-trade deals.

Pat Buchanan, a well-known Republican conservative, who also ran for the Presidency, stated in an April 4, 2016 commentary entitled  “What Trump has Wrought,” states:

But this city of self-delusion should realize there is no going back for America. For, whatever his stumbles of the last two weeks, Trump has helped to unleash the mightiest force of the 21st century: nationalism. Transnationalism and globalism are moribund.

Buchanan further states that Trump’s first issue is illegal immigration and building a wall along the Southern border to keep illegal immigrants out, but then goes on to state:

If immigration is the first issue where Trump connected with the people, the second is trade.  Republicans are at last learning that trade deficits do matter, that free trade is not free. The cost comes in dead factories, lost jobs, dying towns and the rising rage of an abandoned Middle America whose country this is and whose wages have stagnated for decades.

Economists who swoon over figures on consumption forget what America’s 19th-century meteoric rise to self-sufficiency teaches, and what all four presidents on Mount Rushmore understood.

Production comes before consumption. Who owns the orchard is more essential than who eats the apples. We have exported the economic independence Hamilton taught was indispensable to our political independence. We have forgotten what made us great.

China, Japan, Germany – the second, third and fourth largest economies on earth – all owe their prosperity to trade surpluses run for decades at the expense of the Americans. . . .

Patriotism, preserving and protecting the unique character of our nation and people, economic nationalism, America First, staying out of other nation’s wars – these are as much the propellants of Trumpism as is the decline of the American working and middle class.

Trump’s presence in the race has produced the largest turnout ever in the primaries of either party. He has won the most votes, most delegates, most states. Wisconsin aside, he will likely come to Cleveland in that position.

If, through rules changes, subterfuge and faithless delegates, party elites swindle him out of the nomination, do they think that the millions who came out to vote for Trump will go home and say: We lost it fair and square?

Do they think they can then go back to open borders, amnesty, a path to citizenship, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and nation building?

Whatever happens to Trump, the country has spoken. And if the establishment refuses to heed its voice, and returns to the policies the people have repudiated, it should take heed of John F. Kennedy’s warning: “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible, make violent revolution inevitable.”

For full article, see http://www.wnd.com/2016/04/what-trump-has-wrought/

The point is that both political wings of the the United States are becoming very protectionist in response to strong pressure from US voters.  On the right, Donald Trump, who is now the presumptive nominee of the Republican party, is firmly against all trade agreements, including the TPP.  On the left, Bernie Sanders in many ways is more protectionist than Trump and has succeeded in pulling Clinton to a much more protectionist position.

Understand that one reason newspapers, such as the Wall Street Journal, are attacking Trump on trade is that the Republican party traditionally has been very free trade, while the Democratic party, which relies on labor union support, has been much more protectionist.  The only reason that the TPP was completed is because Trade Promotion Authority was enacted into law last summer in 2015.  The only reason TPA passed the Congress is that the Republicans won both the Senate and the House.

Prior to the election, Senator Harry Reid, who heads the Democrats in the Senate, blocked all the trade bills, including the TPA, from coming to the Floor of Congress.

So to my liberal friends who think that Bernie Sanders would be more free trade than Donald Trump and the Republicans, that is simply not the fact.

Sanders has succeeded in pushing Hilary to be more protectionist and that is not good for the passage of the TPP. As John Brinkely of Forbes predicted several months ago, in a Presidential year with regards to the TPP, anything can happen and it has.  The United States is becoming much more protectionist.

Bill Reinsch, president of the National Foreign Trade Council, which has been a driving force for trade liberalization for over 100 years, recently stated:

There are always winners and losers in trade deals, but the losses tend to be short-term and specific while the gains are usually long-term and diffuse.  So you’ve got a growing mass of cranky, alienated voters.

Daniel Ikenson, director of the free market oriented Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Studies, recently stated:

It’s almost like there’s a reckoning coming due here.  The base of the Republican party is really growing increasingly skeptical of trade and Trump is the perfect demagogue to tap into that sentiment and magnify the concerns.

The next article in this series will deal first with the visceral gut wrenching arguments against free trade and the weak free trade arguments in response.  The article after that will deal with the probable demise of the TPP and finally the solution to the trade crisis, truly creating a safety net to help companies and workers adjust to import competition.  Only when there is a true safety net will the dialogue on free trade change.

THE ONGOING STEEL CASES

Many companies have been asking me about the ongoing Steel antidumping and countervailing duty cases so this section will address the Steel cases in more detail.

NEW STEEL ANTIDUMPING AND COUNTERVAILING DUTY CASE

On April 8, 2016 Arcelormittal USA LLC, Nucor Corp., and SSAB Enterprises LLC filed a new antidumping and countervailing duty case against imports of Certain Carbon and Alloy Steel-Cut-To-Length Plate from Austria, Belgium, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, South Africa, Taiwan and Turkey.

APRIL 12 AND 13 USTR COMMERCE HEARINGS ON STEEL

On April 12, 2016, at a hearing in Washington DC members of Congress, union representatives and steel executives pushed the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) to initiate antidumping proceedings at the Commerce Department against huge imports of subsidized and antidumping Chinese steel imports arguing that the administration needs to step in to protect domestic industry.

At the present time, however, there are very few major Chinese steel products not blocked by US antidumping and countervailing duty measures.  Preliminary determinations have been issued against galvanized and cold-rolled steel from China with very high antidumping and countervailing duty rates against both products, wiping them out of the US market.  Many, many Chinese steel products from China are currently covered by an antidumping (“AD”) order and often also a countervailing duty (“CVD”) order, including carbon steel plate, hot rolled carbon steel flat products, circular welded carbon quality steel pipe, light walled rectangular pipe and tube, circular welded carbon quality steel line pipe, circular welded austenitic stainless pressure pipe, steel threaded rod, oil country tubular goods, prestressed concrete steel wire strand, seamless carbon and alloy steel standard line and pressure pipe, high pressure steel cylinders, prestreessed concrete steel rail tire wire, non-oriented electrical steel, and carbon and certain alloy steel wire rod.

Despite 100s of outstanding AD and CVD orders against steel imports from China and other countries, the American steel market has shrunk to 86 million tons of production, competing against the more than 100 million tons China exports, out of 1.2 billion tons of total production.  But most of that Chinese steel was exported to other countries and third country imports from countries, such as Korea, Taiwan, India, and other countries, with low if not 0%, antidumping and countervailing duty rates are entering the United States.

Leo Gerard, president of the United Steelworkers, said the best way to save the American steel industry is for the Obama administration to step out publicly and get involved in initiating antidumping proceedings.

Although transshipment has been a substantial problem, if legitimate importers are involved, they expose themselves to criminal prosecution for Customs fraud.  US Customs law is certainly not a toothless as it is portrayed.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., also urged the Commerce Department and Department of Homeland Security to step up enforcement at the nation’s ports, including increased inspections and possibly turning away ships carrying illegally subsidized steel.

U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman, in opening statements as well as questions to the panelists, pointed to more than $1 billion in recent U.S. exports of steel products and touted the 149 current AD and CVD orders against imported steel, $900,000 in seizures for flouting those duty orders and a 10 percent increase in Commerce Department staff to work on unfair trade practice proceedings.

Democratic Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Hilary Clinton’s possible running mate, urged the administration to support a section 201 petition if brought by a segment of the steel industry, which he said should lead to quick imposition of “appropriate” tariffs.  Steel pipe and tube producers seem to be most interested in the section 201 option. Other steel industry segments see it as too uncertain, given that the World Trade Organization has overturned all but one global safeguard the U.S. imposed in the past, including the 2001 section 201 steel case.

Senator Brown raised another option: WTO cases against China’s overcapacity, which appears to refer to a challenge claiming that the exports of its excess capacity driven by subsidies are undercutting or depressing the price of steel in the World market. “The only way to address this is with a WTO case,” Brown said. “China is in violation of its WTO obligations.”

NEW SECTION 337 UNFAIR TRADE CASE AGAINST ALL CHINESE CARBON ALLOY STEEL COMPANIES AND ALL STEEL PRODUCTS FROM CHINA

As mentioned in the last newsletter, on April 26, 2016, US Steel Corp filed a major 337 unfair trade case against all the Chinese steel companies seeking an exclusion order to bar all imports of carbon and alloy steel from China.

U.S. Steel Corp. is accusing Chinese steel producers and their distributors of conspiring to fix prices, stealing trade secrets and false labeling to avoid trade duties.  It is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) to issue an exclusion order excluding all the Chinese steel from the US market and also cease and desist orders prohibiting importers from selling any imported steel that has already been imported into the United States.

Having worked at the ITC on 337 cases and later in private practice, section 337 is generally aimed at imports that infringe intellectual property rights, such as patents, trademarks or copyrights.  Moreover, one provision of section 337(b)(3) provides that when any aspect of a section 337 case relates to questions of dumping or subsidization, the Commission is to terminate the case immediately and refer the question to Commerce.

Also in the past when section 337 was used to bring antitrust cases, there was intense push back by the Justice Department.  Customs and Border Protection also may not be happy with the use of section 337 to enforce US Custom law.

But section 337 cases are not antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  There are no mandatory companies and lesser targets.  All the Chinese steel companies are targets, and this will be intense litigation with very tight deadlines.  If the individual Chinese steel companies do not respond to the complaint, their steel exports could be excluded in 70 days to six months.  Section 337 cases are hard- nosed litigation on a very fast track.

If you are interested in a copy of the complaint, please feel free to contact me.

On April 27, 2016, the Chinese Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) urged the ITC and US government to reject U.S. Steel’s request to ban all imports from China’s biggest steel mills over allegations of price-fixing and trade-secret theft.

MOFCOM stated that U.S. Steel’s request for an investigation under Section 337 of the Tariff Act was better suited for intellectual property disputes than for commodities like steel. The country said the complaint should be dismissed in favor of “dialogue, communication and joint efforts to address the problem of excess capacity” in the steel market.

UNION FILES SECTION 201 CASE ON ALUMINUM, BUT THEN WITHDRAWS IT 

As mentioned in my last blog post, on April 18, 2016 the United Steelworkers Union filed a section 201 safeguard case against aluminum imports from all countries at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”).

But after intense pressure from the US Aluminum producers, on April 22nd the Union withdrew the petition.  Apparently, the US Aluminum producers have production facilities in Canada and also part of the Union was in Canada and not happy with the case.

MAY ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On May 2, 2016, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, REVIEWS MAY 2016, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of May. The specific antidumping cases against China are:  Aluminum Extrusions, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, Citric Acid and Citrate Salt, Iron Construction Castings, Oil Country Tubular Goods, Pure Magnesium, and Stilbenic Optical Brightening Agents.

The specific countervailing duty cases are: Aluminum Extrusions and Citric Acid and Citrate Salt.

For those US import companies that imported :  Aluminum Extrusions, Circular Welded Carbon Quality Steel Line Pipe, Citric Acid and Citrate Salt, Iron Construction Castings, Oil Country Tubular Goods, Pure Magnesium, and Stilbenic Optical Brightening Agents during the antidumping period May 1, 2015-April 30, 2016 or the countervailing duty period of review, calendar year 2015, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

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

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

Recently, there are many examples of Chinese solar companies or US importers, which did not file requests for a review investigation.  In one instance, although the Chinese companies obtained separate rates during the initial investigation, the Petitioner appealed to the Court.  Several Chinese companies and US importers did not know the case was appealed, and the importers now owe millions in antidumping duties because they failed to file a request for a review investigation in December 2015.

NEW 337 CASE AGAINST CHINA

On May 5, 2016, Aspen Aerogels Inc. filed a 337 patent case at the ITC against imports of Composite Aerogel Insulation Materials and Methods for Manufacturing from China against Nano Tech Co., Ltd. and Guangdong Alison Hi-Tech Co., Ltd. In China.

If anyone wants a copy of the complaint, please feel free to contact me.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

William E. Perry

Attorney

600 Stewart Street, Suite 1200
Seattle, Washington  98101
tel: 206.224.5657 – fax: 206.224.5659
cell: 206.235.4175
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US CHINA TRADE WAR–Trump, Trade Policy, NME, TPP, Trade, Customs, False Claims, Products Liability, Antitrust and Securities

Jefferson Memorial and Tidal Basin Evening at Cherry Blossom TimTRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR MARCH 11, 2016

MOVING TO NEW LAW FIRM, HARRIS MOURE

Dear Friends,

Have not been able to send out a new newsletter in April because we are in the process of moving to a new law firm.  As of May 1, 2016, I will no longer be at the Dorsey law firm. Dorsey will continue to represent clients in international trade and customs matters but will no longer be handling antidumping, countervailing duty, section 201, escape clause and other similar trade regulation cases.

My new law firm is Harris Moure, here in Seattle and my new e-mail address is bill@harrismoure.com.  The US China Trade War blog and newsletter will be coming with me, but coming from my new firm.

Although will miss my Dorsey friends, I am looking forward to Harris Moure, which can be found at http://www.harrismoure.com/.  With a Beijing office and lawyers that can speak fluent Chinese, the Harris firm is well known for helping US and other foreign companies move to China to set up manufacturing operations.  Dan Harris has a very famous blog, http://www.chinalawblog.com/, which is followed by many companies that are interested in doing business in and with China.

In addition, set forth are two major developments involving trade litigation against Chinese companies.

If anyone has any questions or wants additional information, please feel free to contact me at this Dorsey e-mail address until April 30th and then after that at bill@harrismoure.com.

Bill Perry

TRADE UPDATES

NEW SECTION 337 UNFAIR TRADE CASE AGAINST ALL CHINESE CARBON ALLOY STEEL COMPANIES AND ALL STEEL PRODUCTS FROM CHINA

On April 26, 2016, US Steel Corp filed a major 337 unfair trade case against all the Chinese steel companies seeking an exclusion order to bar all imports of carbon and alloy steel from China.  See the ITC notice below. U.S. Steel Corp. is accusing Chinese steel producers and their distributors of conspiring to fix prices, stealing trade secrets and false labeling to avoid trade duties.  It is asking the U.S. International Trade Commission (“ITC”) to issue an exclusion order baring all the Chinese steel from the US market and also cease and desist orders prohibiting importers from selling any imported Chinese steel that has already been imported into the United States.

The petition alleges that the Chinese companies:

work together to injure U.S. competitors, including U.S. Steel. Through their cartel, the China Iron and Steel Association (“CISA”), Proposed Manufacturer Respondents conspire to control raw material input prices, share cost and capacity information, and regulate production and prices for steel products exported to the United States. Proposed Manufacturer Respondents also share production schedules and time the release of products across multiple companies. This enables them to coordinate exports of new products to flood the U.S. market and destroy competitors.

4. Some of the Proposed Manufacturer Respondents have used valuable trade secrets stolen from U.S. Steel to produce advanced high-strength steel that no Chinese manufacturer had been able to commercialize before the theft. In January 2011, the Chinese government hacked U.S. Steel’s research computers and equipment, stealing proprietary methods for manufacturing these products. Soon thereafter, the Baosteel Respondents began producing and exporting the very highest grades of advanced high-strength steel, even though they had previously been unable to do so. Chinese imports created with U.S. Steel’s stolen trade secrets compete against and undercut U.S. Steel’s own products.

5.        Proposed Respondents create documentation showing false countries of origin and false manufacturers for Chinese steel products. They also transship them through third countries to disguise their country of origin, circumvent anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders, and deceive steel consumers about the origin of Chinese steel.

Having worked at the ITC on 337 cases and later in private practice, section 337 is generally aimed at imports that infringe intellectual property rights, such as patents, trademarks or copyrights.  Moreover, one provision of section 337(b)(3) provides that when any aspect of a section 337 case relates to questions of dumping or subsidization, the Commission is to terminate the case immediately and refer the question to Commerce.

Also in the past when section 337 was used to bring antitrust cases, there was intense push back by the Justice Department.  Customs and Border Protection also may not be happy with the use of section 337 to enforce US Custom law.

But section 337 cases are not antidumping and countervailing duty cases.  There are no mandatory companies and lesser targets.  All the Chinese steel companies are targets, and this will be intense litigation with very tight deadlines.  If the individual Chinese steel companies do not respond to the complaint, their steel exports could be excluded in 70 days to six months.  Section 337 cases are hard- nosed litigation on a very fast track.

If you are interested in a copy of the complaint, please feel free to contact me.

The ITC notice is as follows:

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Commodity: Carbon and Alloy Steel Products

Pending Institution

Filed By: Paul F. Brinkman

Firm/Organization: Quinn Emanuel Urrquhart & Sullivan LLP

Behalf Of: United States Steel Corporation

Letter to Lisa R. Barton, Secretary, USITC; requesting that the Commission conduct an investigation under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930, as amended, regarding Certain Carbon and Alloy Steel Products. The proposed respondents are: Hebei Iron and Steel Co., Ltd., China; Hebei Iron & Steel Group Hengshui Strip Rolling Co., Ltd., China; Hebei Iron & Steel (Hong Kong) International Trade Co., Ltd., China; Shanghai Baosteel Group Corporation,China; Baoshan Iron & Steel Co., Ltd., China; Baosteel America Inc., Montvale, New Jersey; Jiangsu Shagang Group, China; Jiangsu Shagang International Trade Co, Ltd., China; Anshan Iron and Steel Group, China; Angang Group International Trade Corporation, China; Angang Group Hong Kong Co., Ltd., China; Wuhan Iron and Steel Group Corp., China; Wuhan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd., China; WISCO America Co., Ltd., Newport Beach, California; Shougang Group, China; China Shougang International Trade & Engineering Corporation, China; Shandong Iron and Steel Group Co., Ltd, China; Shandong Iron and Steel Co., Ltd., China; Jigang Hong Kong Holdings Co., Ltd., China; Jinan Steel International Trade Co., Ltd., China; Magang Group Holding Co. Ltd, China; Maanshan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd., China; Bohai Iron and Steel Group, China; Tianjin Pipe (Group) Corporation, China; Tianjin Pipe International Economic & Trading Corporation, China; TPCO Enterprise Inc., Houston, Texas; TPCO America Corporation, Gregory, Texas; Benxi Steel (Group) Co., Ltd., China; Benxi Iron and Steel (Group) International Economic and Trading Co., Ltd., China; Hunan Valin Steel Co., Ltd., China; Hunan Valin Xiangtan Iron and Steel Co., Ltd., China; Tianjin Tiangang Guanye Co., Ltd., China; Wuxi Sunny Xin Rui Science and Technology Co., Ltd., China; Taian JNC Industrial Co., Ltd., China; EQ Metal (Shanghai) Co., Ltd., China; Kunshan Xinbei International Trade Co., Ltd, China; Tianjin Xinhai Trade Co., Ltd., China; Tianjin Xinlianxin Steel Pipe Co. Ltd, China; Tianjin Xinyue Industrial and Trade Co., Ltd., China; and Xian Linkun Materials (Steel Pipe Supplies) Co., Ltd., China.

UNION FILES SECTION 201 CASE ON ALUMINUM, BUT THEN WITHDRAWS IT

On April 18, 2016 the United Steelworkers Union filed a section 201 safeguard case against imports of aluminum from all countries at the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”). Although the target appeared to be China because its overcapacity has affected the World aluminum market, in fact, not so much.   China has an export tax in place to prevent exports of primary aluminum.  The real targets were Canada and Russia.  Canada exports about $4 billion in aluminum to the US, and Russia exports about $1 billion.

But after intense pressure from the US Aluminum producers, on April 22th the Union withdrew the petition.  Apparently, the US Aluminum producers have production facilities in Canada and also part of the Union was in Canada and not happy with the case.

Moreover, at the request of Congress, the ITC is conducting a fact-finding investigation on the US aluminum industry. The report is due out June 24, 2017.  The Union may have decided to wait until the ITC issues the fact-finding report in June and then it will refile the 201 case.

But there are reports that as a result of the case the Canadian and US governments are discussing the aluminum trade problem, which may result in a settlement down the road.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

Dear Friends,

On March 21, 2016 and March 17, 2016, after this post was sent out, I was interviewed on Donald Trump and the US China Trade War by the World Finance, a bi-monthly print and web outlet on the financial industry.

To see the video on the impact of Donald Trump on International Trade policy, please see  Could Trump Take the US Back to the Great Depression, http://www.worldfinance.com/inward-investment/asia-and-australasia/could-trump-take-the-us-back-to-the-great-depression

To see the video on the US China Trade War, click on the following link

http://www.worldfinance.com/inward-investment/asia-and-australasia/the-us-china-trade-war-explained

For more information on the specific points made in the two videos on the US China Trade War and Donald Trump, please see the lead article below on the Trump Impact on International Trade policy.

March 11 Blog Post

After returning from a two week trip to China to work on the Solar Cells case, this March blog post will cover trade policy, including Trump’s impact on Trade Policy, trade, Customs, False Claims Act, the recent ZTE Export Control debacle, 337, patents/IP, criminal IP cases, products liability, antitrust and securities. There are significant developments in the US antitrust area.

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

Best regards,

Bill Perry

THE TRUMP IMPACT ON US TRADE POLICY

As stated in numerous past blog posts, one of the major reasons the Trans Pacific Partnership is running into problems in Congress along with a number of other trade issues, such as market economy for China, is the impact of the Presidential elections, especially the rise of Donald Trump. After Super Tuesday on March 1, 2016 and the Trump victories in seven different states many Republican pundits believe the game is over and Trump has won the Republican primary and will be the party’s nominee.

Thus Ed Rollins, who worked in the Reagan Administration and is a highly respected expert on the Republican party, published an article on March 2, 2016 on the Fox News website stating, “Trump is now unstoppable. It’s game over for Cruz, Rubio, Kasich and Carson.” Rollins goes on to state:

Game over! This was a rout, America. Winning seven states and the vast majority of delegates is a landslide. Donald Trump and the millions of his supporters have changed American politics and the Republican Party for the foreseeable future. . . .

Trump, who is an unconventional candidate, to say the least, has tapped into the anger and frustration across America and has mobilized voters to turn out in record numbers.

Love him or hate him, be inspired by him or be appalled by him, Trump has totally dominated a political cycle like no other politician I’ve seen in decades.

I admit I was a total skeptic, like many others. At first, I didn’t think he would run. Then I thought there was no way he could beat the all-star cast of elected officials running against him.

Then I underestimated his lack of substance and trite answers in the debates. Then I underestimated his lack of a real campaign.

Then I was convinced the political establishment was going to spend millions and take him out. And like the Energizer bunny he just keeps going and winning!

Trump is getting stronger by the day and his supporters are locked in and not going away. And no one has mastered the media like this since Teddy Roosevelt and his rough riders.

What’s ahead is a Republican Party that either becomes part of his movement or splinters into many pieces. No matter what Trump does or says, the nomination is his for the taking.

For the full article, see http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2016/03/02/trump-is-now-unstoppable-its-game-over-for-cruz-rubio-kasich-and-carson.html?intcmp=hpbt2#

At most, there is only a 30% chance that some other Republican candidate can beat Trump, but with a 70% chance that Trump will be the Republican nominee, the question is can Trump beat Hilary Clinton? Many facts indicate that Trump could win and become the next President.

On February 29, 2016, the Boston Herald reported that my childhood state, Massachusetts, which is very liberal and very Democratic, is seeing a surge in Democratic voters switching parties to vote Republican for Trump. As the Boston Herald reported on February 29, 2016, “Amid Trump surge, nearly 20,000 Mass. voters quit Democratic party”. The Article goes on to state:

The primary reason? [Secretary of State Galvin said his “guess” is simple: “The Trump phenomenon” . . . . Galvin said the state could see as many as 700,000 voting in tomorrow’s Republican primary, a significant number given just 468,000 people are actually registered Republicans. In Massachusetts. unenrolled — otherwise known as independent — voters can cast a ballot in the primary of any party.

For full article see http://www.bostonherald.com/news/us_politics/2016/02/amid_tru… 3/1/2016

On February 29, 2016, Buck Fox in Investors Business Daily, one of the more well- known financial newspapers in the US, predicted that Trump would win the Presidency:

Let’s take a rare journalistic moment to answer definitively: Will Donald Trump win the presidency? Yes.

Good. Got that out of the way. No dialing a focus group. Tell it straight. … Answers. Trump rattles them off fearlessly. He doesn’t consult pollsters. He goes with his gut.

Which is one reason he’s wildly popular — dominating the Drudge debate poll with 57% — and on the way to delivering the inaugural address on Jan. 20, 2017, as the 45th president.

As Ann Coulter says, President Trump will be halfway through that speech as the Republican Party keeps debating his viability.

Don’t limit that hedge to GOP bureaucrats. Throw in 99% of TV pundits: Karl Rove, Brit Hume, George Will, Bill Kristol, Rich Lowry, Steve Hayes, Charles Krauthammer, S.E. Cupp, Mike Smerconish, Ben Ferguson, Jeff Toobin.

They share a maddening trait — smug, glib and handsomely paid while belittling Trump’s odds of winning. Even though that’s all he’s done while building a titanic real estate empire. . . .

The smart ones see a runaway Trump Train, with Los Angeles radio host Doug McIntyre —hardly a Don fan — conceding after Nevada’s rout, “Donald Trump will win the Republican nomination.”

No “maybe.” No “very well could.” Trump will claim the GOP trophy in July in Cleveland. And win it all in November. Why?

  1. Issues. Trump owns immigration, trade, Muslim terror, self-funding his campaign to ignore special interests. . . . .

For full article, see http://www.investors.com/politics/capital-hill/trump-towers-over-the-presidential-field/[2/29/2016 12:29:13 PM]

On March 1, 2016, Politico published an article “The media’s Trump reckoning: ‘Everyone was wrong’ From the New Yorker to FiveThirtyEight, outlets across the spectrum failed to grasp the Trump phenomenon.”

In a March 3, 2016 article, John Brinkley of Forbes asks “Why Is Trade Such A Big Deal In The Election Campaign?”, stating in part:

Did you ever think you’d see a day when international trade was a central issue in a U.S. presidential election?

That’s where we are in 2016. For one reason or another, all the presidential candidates have felt the need to stake out positions on trade.

Let’s look at the last half-century. Issues that animated presidential campaigns were the Cold War, civil rights, the Vietnam War, Watergate, nuclear weapons, inflation, budget deficits, health care costs, terrorism, national security, wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, a financial crisis, illegal immigration. But never trade.

Well, almost never. While running for president in 1992, Ross Perot warned that NAFTA would cause “a giant sucking sound” from Mexico, but he wasn’t able to elevate NAFTA to a prominent position in that year’s election debates.

This year the Republican front-runner Donald Trump, who says he knows a lot about trade, but has proven that he doesn’t, says he’ll repeal NAFTA and the Trans-Pacific Partnership if it takes effect before he becomes president.

He also says he wants to slap a 45 percent tariff on Chinese imports. It’s been pointed out that this would get us into a trade war. The Trump camp’s fatuous response is that we’re already in a trade war with China. That’s like saying your house is in fire, so let’s spray gasoline on it.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who had a realistic shot at the Democratic nomination until Super Tuesday, has ranted and raved about free trade agreements throughout his campaign. He says they have cost millions of Americans their jobs, although there is no empirical evidence of that.

In her inimical please-all-the-people-all-the-time style, Democratic frontrunner Hilary Clinton says she doesn’t like the Trans-Pacific Partnership in its present form, but might change her mind if certain changes are made. She obviously thinks trade is important enough as a political issue that she has to bob and weave rather than take an unambiguous yes-or-no position. . . .

Why is trade such a volatile issue this year?

An obvious reason is that the Obama administration has negotiated and signed the most mammoth trade agreement in the history of the universe.

The TPP encompasses 12 countries and 40 percent of the world’s economy. . . .

And a third we can call The Trump Factor: the other GOP candidates are so scared of Trump that they feel they have to respond to everything he says, just to show that they’re not like him (which hardly seems necessary). . . .

Keeler said the prominence of trade in the 2016 presidential campaign “is surprising in the same way that everything about Donald Trump is surprising.”

For the full article, see

http://www.forbes.com/sites/johnbrinkley/2016/03/03/why-is-trade-such-a-big-deal-in-the-election-campaign/print/.

Why is trade policy so important in this election? It is not because Trump says it is so.  Instead, it is the reason Trump is doing so well in the Republican primary—his appeal to a large constituency that is being hammered by illegal immigration, hurt by trade and afraid of losing their jobs.  Several pundits have tried to explain what this election is really about and the reason for Trump’s rise:

Hundreds of workers in Indiana, who just saw their jobs heading to Mexico;

Disney employees being fired and forced to retrain foreign replacements;

and finally the systematic invasion of the country by illegal immigrants, who take American jobs away.

Middle class and lower middle class people are afraid of losing their jobs and their livelihood and are flocking to Trump.

In two word, this is economic nationalism.

One central core of Donald Trump’s strategy is the argument that the United States has been soft on trade and “does not win any more.” Trump specifically points to China as one of the biggest winners saying that China, Mexico and Japan all beat the US in trade.

Moreover, the Core Constituency of Trump, his followers, are blue collar workers, many without a college education, so-called Reagan Democrats, that work in companies, factories, service industries and often are in labor unions. These workers are in regular 9 to 5 jobs on a set salary, in the lower middle and middle class, who are not privileged and not protected, feel their livelihoods threatened by illegal immigration and trade deals that give other countries access to US markets.  These blue collar workers are white, black, and Hispanic, such as in the Nevada primary where many Hispanics voted for Trump.  These workers would normally vote Democratic, but they firmly believe that no party be it Democratic or Republican truly represents their interests and are willing to protect their jobs and way of life.  Along comes Donald Trump stating that he will stop illegal immigrants at the border, do away with trade agreements and stop imports from China saving their jobs.  He will make America great again.  For many, many workers this argument makes them solid Trump supporters.

In a March 2 article entitled Eight Reasons we need to start preparing for President Trump, Geoff Earle writing for the NY Post states

Reason 5:

Trump’s main demographic strength — working-class men and white voters — matches up well against one of Hillary Clinton’s chief weaknesses. He could go after Clinton in must-win Ohio, where “Trump’s rhetoric appeals to those blue-collar Democrats,” said GOP strategist Brian Walsh.

For full article, see http://nypost.com/2016/03/02/8-reasons-we-need-to-start-preparing-for-president-trump.

In listening to Donald Trump’s victory speech on Super Tuesday, he stated that he wants to be a unifier and that he will reduce corporate taxes and make it easier for US companies to repatriate profits and set up manufacturing in the US. No one has problems with Trump’s idea of using carrots to bring back US manufacturing.  The problem is with Trump’s idea of using trade sticks to force manufacturing back to the US by setting up high protectionist walls.

On February 29, 2016, The Wall Street Journal in an editorial entitled, “Making Depressions Great Again — The U.S. may renounce its trade leadership at a dangerous economic moment,” expressed its real concern that by using the Trade/Tariff sticks Trump could take the United States back to the 1930s and the Smoot Hawley Tariff that created the Great Depression:

Reviving trade is crucial to driving faster growth, yet the paradox of trade politics is that it is least popular when economic anxiety is high and thus trade is most crucial.

And so it is now: Four of the remaining U.S. candidates claim to oppose the Trans-Pacific Partnership, and Congress now lacks the votes to pass it.

The loudest voice of America’s new antitrade populism is Mr. Trump, who has endorsed 45% tariffs on Chinese and Japanese imports and promises to punish U.S. companies that make cookies and cars in Mexico. When Mr. Trump visited the Journal in November, he couldn’t name a single trade deal he supported, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta).

He says he’s a free trader but that recent Administrations have been staffed by pathetic losers, so as President he would make deals more favorable to the U.S., and foreigners would bow before his threats. “I don’t mind trade wars,” he said at Thursday’s debate.

He should be careful what he wishes. Trade brinksmanship is always hazardous, especially when the world economy is so weak. A trade crash could trigger a new recession that would take years to repair, and these conflicts are unpredictable and can escalate into far greater damage.

The tragic historic precedent is the Smoot-Hawley tariff of 1930, signed reluctantly by Herbert Hoover. In that era the GOP was the party of tariffs, which economist Joseph Schumpeter called the Republican “household remedy.” Smoot-Hawley was intended to protect U.S. jobs and farmers from foreign competition, but it enraged U.S. trading partners like Canada, Britain and France.

As economic historian Charles Kindleberger shows in his classic, “The World in Depression, 1929-1939,” the U.S. tariff cascaded into a global war of beggar-thy-neighbor tariff reprisals and currency devaluation to gain a trading advantage. Each country’s search for a protectionist advantage became a disaster for all as trade volumes shrank and deepened the Great Depression.

Kindleberger blames the Depression in large part on a failure of leadership, especially by a U.S. that was unwilling to defend open markets in a period of distress. “For the world economy to be stabilized, there has to be a stabilizer—one stabilizer,” he wrote. Britain had played that role for two centuries but was then too weak. The U.S. failed to pick up the mantle. . . .

Once the President recovered his trade bearings, Mitt Romney promised in 2012 to sanction China for currency manipulation and even ran TV ads claiming that “for the first time, China is beating us.”

Mr. Trump is now escalating this line into the centerpiece of his economic agenda—protectionism you can believe in. And what markets and the public should understand is that as President he would have enormous unilateral power to follow through. Congress has handed the President more power over the years to impose punitive tariffs, in large part so Members can blame someone else when antitrade populism runs hot. . . .

In an exchange with Bill O’Reilly on Feb. 10, Mr. Trump said that’s exactly what he plans to do. The Fox News host suggested a trade war is “going to be bloody.” Mr. Trump replied that Americans needn’t worry because the Chinese “will crash their economy,” adding that “they will have a depression, the likes of which you have never seen” in a trade war. He might be right about China, but the U.S. wouldn’t be spared.

The Trump candidacy thus introduces a new and dangerous element of economic risk to a world still struggling to emerge from the 2008 panic and the failed progressive policy response. A trade war would compound the potential to make depressions great again.

For the full editorial see http://www.wsj.com/articles/making-depressions-great-again-1456790200 3/1/2016.

President Ronald Reagan, who lived through the Great Depression and knew about the impact of the Smoot Hawley tariff on his generation, was a solid free trader stating on June 28, 1986 in the attached speech on international trade, BETTER COPY REAGAN IT SPEECH:

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.

Ronald Reagan was a true free trader; Donald Trump is not.

But Trump’s rhetoric along with the strong positions of Bernie Sanders, have already had an impact on US trade policy.

Trans Pacific Partnership (“TPP”)

On February 22, 2016, despite strong opposition from Republican lawmakers and many Democratic Senators and Congressmen, in a speech before the National Governors Association, President Obama stated that he was cautiously optimistic that Congress would pass the TPP before he leaves office. President Obama specifically stated:

“I am cautiously optimistic that we can still get it done. Leader McConnell and Speaker Ryan both have been supportive of this trade deal.  We’re going to … enter this agreement, present it formally with some sort of implementation documents to Congress at some point this year and my hope is that we can get votes.”

But President Obama admitted that selling the TPP is not easy with the opposition of four of the top five candidates for the presidency — Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Ted Cruz, R-Texas. He further stated:

“The presidential campaigns have created some noise within and roiled things a little bit within the Republican Party, as well as the Democratic Party around this issue. I think we should just have a good, solid, healthy debate about it.  What all of you can do to help is to talk to your Congressional delegations and let them know this is really important.  All of you, though, can really lift up the benefits for your states, and talk to your congressional delegations directly.”

Obama can only submit legislation to implement the TPP to Congress after the U.S. International Trade Commission releases an extensive report on the agreement’s economic impact in mid-May.

As reported in my last newsletter, on February 5, 2016, in the Democratic debate, Hillary Clinton stated that she could support the TPP if the deal is changed, but also stated afterwards that she opposes the deal as currently written.  Meanwhile there is intense pressure on Clinton to stay opposed to the TPP as the labor unions have increased pressure on those Democratic Congressmen and Senators that voted in favor of the Trade Promotion Authority and were put on labor’s hit list.  On February 29, 2016, it was reported that labor unions were now targeting 28 moderate Democrats who supported “fast-track” trade promotion legislation.

California Rep. Scott Peters estimates his reelection campaign is likely to see a $200,000 to $300,000 drop in labor donations — about a seventh of his total contributions so far — and fewer ground volunteers knocking on doors unless he changes his trade stance. The two-term lawmaker, who won reelection by 3 percent of the vote, is likely to face ad buys, call-in campaigns and protests outside his office. As Peters further stated:

“We’ve lost some pretty important labor support as a result on the vote on TPA, and that’s painful … There’s no doubt there has been a political price.”

Labor’s attacks on the free traders could also be decisive in the reelection bids of California Rep. Ami Bera and New York Rep. Kathleen Rice. The White House has sought to counter the labor attacks by early endorsements, raised campaign funds and deployed Cabinet officials to praise members in their districts.

This makes passage of the TPP very doubtful in Congress. As Texas Rep Eddie Bernice Johnson said of the loss of the AFL-CIO backing:

“It gets your attention,” adding that trade is an “economic engine” for her Dallas district. “But I cannot neglect the stance and conditions of my district that I pledged heartily to represent.”

There’s a chance a TPP vote could get delayed until the Lame Duck session or the next administration and the next Congress, but AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka has stated:

“So they want to put it after the election because they think we’ll forget. Well, we’re not going to forget, and we’re not going to let the American worker forget, and we think they’ll have a tough time explaining their vote to workers who have lost jobs”

During a meeting with labor and trade protectionists, Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer reportedly slammed a notepad down on a table at the height of the debate, telling the group he was frustrated with the constant calls and picketing outside his home and district office. Blumenauer went on to state:

“I have a community that is very trade-dependent, but we also have people who are trade skeptics. So I’m just going to let the chips fall where they may.”

On March 7, 2016, former Congressman Don Bonker wrote the following article for the Seattle Times about the developments in the Trade area:

Trump’s trade rhetoric threatens U.S. economy, global standing, Trump’s fear tactics combined with viral protectionism spreading across the country is a monkey wrench for passage of Trans-Pacific Partnership.

Donald Trump’s political rhetoric, however absurd, is boastfully driving the debate among Republicans on issues such as immigration, but it’s his relentless jabs at U.S. trade policy that is more alarming.

Threatening to slap a 35 percent tariff on all imports from China definitely resonates with his support base, but it could undermine America’s leadership globally and also prove harmful in the Puget Sound area, given that such arbitrary tariffs are imposed on American importers, not Chinese suppliers, then passed on to distributors and ultimately result in higher consumer prices.

Trump, ever boastful of his business savvy, should also expect the Chinese to retaliate, as they predictably will, to restrict U.S. exports from Washington state and beyond.

Not surprisingly, Trump wants it both ways, asserting that free trade is terrible because we have “stupid” officials doing the negotiating, yet it could be wonderful if he calls the shots and has the final word (someone should inform him about the Constitution, which clearly states that “Congress shall regulate interstate and foreign commerce.”)

This may be how he cuts backroom business deals, but Trump’s approach would be unacceptable as leader of the world’s No. 1 economy.

Such fear tactics combined with viral protectionism spreading across the country, tapped into by Bernie Sanders and now Hillary Clinton switching her position on Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), is alarming to other nations who depend on America leadership in today’s global economy.

Using Trump’s words, “to make America great again,” our president must be a strong leader in today’s global economy, which Barack Obama has attempted to do with initiatives such as TPP. The partnership would give the U.S. a stronger presence in the Pacific Rim and provide a protective shield for Asian countries threatened by China’s enormous growth and influence in the region.

The TPP is destined for burial thanks to Trump’ rhetoric and growing protectionism among Democrats in Congress. It will be to China’s advantage given their own trade negotiations with the same countries.

If Trump is elected, will it put us in a trade war with China? In the 1928 presidential election, Herbert Hoover was less pompous than Trump but nonetheless called for higher tariffs that set the stage for a Republican Congress poised to run amok on limiting imports.

Shortly after the elections, hundreds of trade associations were formed that triggered an unbridled frenzy of logrolling, jockeying for maximum protection for commodity and industry producers leading to enactment of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act that hiked import fees up to 100 percent on over 20,000 imported products.

On the Senate side, another 1,200 amendments were added that proved so egregious, prompting Democrat Senator Thaedeus H. Caraway of Arkansas to declare that, “I might suggest that we have taxed everything in this bill except gall,” to which Senator Carter Glass of Virginia responded, “Yes, and a tax on that would bring considerable revenue.”

What Congress sent to the president proved so alarming it prompted 1,000 of nation’s leading economists to sign a petition urging President Hoover to veto the Smoot-Hawley Act, while The New York Times printed an ad that listed 46 states and 179 universities warning that signing the bill may prompt a fierce reaction.

Indeed within a few months, America’s leading trade partners — Canada, France, Mexico, Italy, 26 countries in all — 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.

Based on his campaign rhetoric, a Trump presidency would have plenty of gall, to be sure but it is certainly not what is needed to make America great again.

On March 9, I attended a reception here in Seattle with Congressman Dave Reichert, Chairman Subcommittee on Trade, House Ways and Means. Congressman Reichert stated that he is the first Washington State Congressman to become Chairman of the Trade Subcommittee.  He also stated that he is dedicated and personally committed to passing the TPP through Congress no matter how long it takes because of its importance for the economies of Washington State and the entire United States.

On March 10, 2016, however, the Wall Street Journal had a front page headline entitled, “Free Trade Loses Political Favor, Republican backing fades as voters voice surprising skepticism; Pacific pact seen at risk”. The Article states in part:

After decades in which successive Republican and Democratic presidents have pushed to open U.S. and global markets, resentment toward free trade now appears to have the upper hand in both parties, making passage this year of a sweeping Pacific trade deal far less likely and clouding the longer-term outlook for international economic exchange.

Many Democrats have long blamed free-trade deals for big job losses and depressed wages, especially in the industrialized Midwest, which has been battered over the years by competition from lower-cost manufacturing centers in countries like Japan, Mexico and China. . . .

But one big surprise Tuesday was how loudly trade fears reverberated among Republican voters in the primary contests in Michigan and Mississippi—evidence, many observers say, of a widening undercurrent of skepticism on the right about who reaps the benefits from loosened trade restrictions.

CHINA

Despite arguments by the Federalist Society in the attached article, Everything Trump Says About Trade With China Is Wrong, that Donald Trump’s arguments against China are simply wrong, Trump’s strong position and Hilary Clinton’s desire to keep Union support has forced her to take a much tougher stand on trade with China and the TPP. On February 23rd, 2016 in the attached commentary to the  Maine Press Herald, CLINTON ARTICLE CHINA, entitled “If elected president, I’ll level the playing field on global trade,” Hilary Clinton stated:

At the same time, China and other countries are using underhanded and unfair trade practices to tilt the playing field against American workers and businesses.

When they dump cheap products in our markets, subsidize state-owned enterprises, manipulate currencies and discriminate against American companies, our middle class pays the price. That has to stop.

Ninety-five percent of America’s potential customers live overseas, so closing ourselves off to trade is not a solution. . . .

As President, my goal will be to win the global competition for the good-paying manufacturing jobs of the future.

  • First, we have to strongly enforce trade rules to ensure American workers aren’t being cheated. Too often, the federal government has put the burden of initiating trade cases on workers and unions, and failed to take action until after the damage is done and workers have been laid off.

That’s backward: The government should be enforcing the law from the beginning, and workers should be able to focus on doing their jobs. To make sure it gets done, we should establish and empower a new chief trade prosecutor reporting directly to the president, triple the number of trade enforcement officers and build new early-warning systems so we can intervene before trade violations cost American jobs.

We should also hold other countries accountable for meeting internationally sanctioned labor standards – fighting against child and slave labor and for the basic rights of workers to organize around the world.

Second, we have to stand up to Chinese abuses. Right now, Washington is considering Beijing’s request for “market economy” status. That sounds pretty obscure. But here’s the rub – if they get market economy status, it would defang our anti-dumping laws and let cheap products flood into our markets. So we should reply with only one word: No.;

With thousands of state-owned enterprises; massive subsidies for domestic industry; systematic, state-sponsored efforts to steal business secrets; and blatant refusal to play by the rules, China is far from a market economy. If China wants to be treated like a market economy, it needs to act like one.

Third, we need to crack down on currency manipulation – which can be destructive for American workers. China, Japan and other Asian economies kept their goods artificially cheap for years by holding down the value of their currencies.;

I’ve fought against these unfair practices before, and I will do it again. Tough new surveillance, transparency and monitoring regimes are part of the answer – but only part. We need to expand our toolbox to include effective new remedies, such as duties or tariffs and other measures.

Fourth, we need to stop rewarding U.S. companies for shipping jobs overseas by closing loopholes and ending tax write-offs – and encouraging “in-sourcing” here in America instead. Two HVAC plants in Indiana recently decided to move abroad, costing 2,100 jobs – and likely pocketing a tax deduction.

They’re not just turning their back on the workers and community that supported them for years, they’re turning their back on America. As President, I’ll also end so-called “inversions” that allow multinational businesses to avoid paying U.S. taxes by moving overseas in name only.

Fifth, we have to set a high bar for any new trade agreements, and only support them if they will create good jobs, raise wages and advance our national security. I opposed the Trans-Pacific Partnership when it failed to meet those tests, and would oppose future agreements if they failed to meet that bar.;

America spent generations working with partners to develop strong and fair rules of the road for the global economy – but those rules only work if we enforce them. Tough enforcement and other smart policies to support a manufacturing renaissance are the only way we can ensure that trade helps American workers. If I’m elected President, that’s what I’ll do.

THE REASON TRADE IS AT THE CENTER OF THE DEBATE AND THE REAL TRADE ANSWER—TAA FOR COMPANIES

THE REASON

What is the reason that trade is the center of the Presidential debate? I believe at its core there are two fundamental reasons—failure to educate the general populace on the benefits of trade so that they understand how manufacturing in the US is connected in global supply chain with raw material inputs from abroad.

The second reason is the toxic domestic raw material heavy industry/Labor Union attack based on false arguments that all trade competition is caused by unfair trade and that companies can be saved by bringing trade remedy cases. This rhetoric has generated a Globalization victimhood way of thinking that all imports are unfairly traded, especially from China. This is despite the fact that 80 of the outstanding 120 antidumping orders against China are directed at raw materials, chemicals, metal and steel, which goes directly into downstream US production. Restrictions on raw material inputs hurts downstream US industries, which have no standing under US antidumping and countervailing duty laws to argue against the restrictions and have their arguments have any weight in the determination.

Years ago a United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) in the W Bush Administration spoke in Seattle and said that in the Trade area the major failure has been to educate the American public on the benefits of trade. Washington State, which is dependent on imports and exports, certainly knows the benefits of trade. The Ports in Washington State are incredibly important for the economic health of the State. Our largest trading partner is China to which Washington exports $20 billion every year. Thus the Washington Council for International Trade is pushing hard for the Trans Pacific Partnership. See http://wcit.freeenterpriseaction.com/v9xpssZ

But that is not true in many other states, especially in the Midwest and on the East Coast, which have adopted the trade victimization ideology. In addition, the Steel Industry and Labor Unions make three attacks against China—currency manipulation, cyber hacking and antidumping. When one looks deeper at these arguments, however, they fall apart.

CURRENCY MANIPULATION

Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton have been screaming about currency manipulation. But on May 22, 2015, on the Senate floor during the debate on Trade Promotion Authority (“TPA”) Senator Hatch made a very strong argument against the Stabenow and Portman Currency Amendment, which would have included tough provisions and sanctions, against currency manipulation. Senator Hatch clearly stated that the reason he opposed the Amendment was because President Obama under pressure from Treasury Secretary Lew stated that if the currency amendment was included, he would veto the TPA bill.

Why were President Obama and Treasury Secretary Lew opposed to tough sanctions against currency manipulation? Because those sanctions could be used against the United States. See Testimony of Senators Wyden and Hatch at http://www.c-span.org/video/?326202-1/us-senate-debate-trade-promotion-authority&live. As Senator Hatch stated:

I think I can boil this very complicated issue down to a single point: The Portman-Stabenow Amendment will kill TPA.

I’m not just saying that, Mr. President. It is, at this point, a verifiable fact.

Yesterday, I received a letter from Treasury Secretary Lew outlining the Obama Administration’s opposition to this amendment. . . . most importantly, at the end of the letter, Secretary Lew stated very plainly that he would recommend that the President veto a TPA bill that included this amendment.

That’s pretty clear, Mr. President. It doesn’t leave much room for interpretation or speculation. No TPA bill that contains the language of the Portman-Stabenow Amendment stands a chance of becoming law. . . .

We know this is the case, Mr. President. Virtually all of our major negotiating partners, most notably Japan, have already made clear that they will not agree to an enforceable provisions like the one required by the Portman-Stabenow Amendment. No country that I am aware of, including the United States, has ever shown the willingness to have their monetary policies subject to potential trade sanctions. . . .

Second, the Portman-Stabenow Amendment would put at risk the Federal Reserve’s independence in its ability to formulate and execute monetary policies designed to protect and stabilize the U.S. economy. While some in this chamber have made decrees that our domestic monetary policies do not constitute currency manipulation, we know that not all of our trading partners see it that way. . . .

If the Portman-Stabenow language is adopted into TPA and these rules become part of our trade agreements, how long do you think it will take for our trading partners to enter disputes and seek remedies against Federal Reserve quantitative easing policies? Not long, I’d imagine.

If the Portman-Stabenow objective becomes part of our trade agreements, we will undoubtedly see formal actions to impose sanctions on U.S. trade, under the guise that the Federal Reserve has manipulated our currency for trade advantage. We’ll also be hearing from other countries that Fed policy is causing instability in their financial markets and economies and, unless the Fed takes a different path, those countries could argue for relief or justify their own exchange-rate policies to gain some trade advantage for themselves.

CYBER HACKING

The trade critics also attack China for Cyber Hacking, but on September 29, 2015, in response to specific questions from Senator Manchin in the Senate Armed Services Committee, James R. Clapper, Director of National Intelligence, testified that China cyber- attacks to obtain information on weapon systems are not cyber- crime. It is cyber espionage, which the United States itself engages in.  As Dr. Clapper stated, both countries, including the United States, engage in cyber espionage and “we are pretty good at it.”  Dr. Clapper went on to state that “people in glass houses” shouldn’t throw stones.  See http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/15-09-29-united-states-cybersecurity-policy-and-threats at 1hour 8 minutes to 10 minutes.

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

Thus, the United States itself does not want to clearly define Cyber Hacking as unacceptable because it is state espionage and we the United States do it too and are pretty good at it.

DUMPING

As indicated in numerous past blog posts, more dumping and countervailing duty cases, some against China based on faked numbers, does not solve the trade problem. For over 40 years the Commerce Department has refused to use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping resulting in antidumping and countervailing duty orders blocking about $30 billion in Chinese imports.  In doing so, however, China is treated worse the Iran, Russia, Syria and many other countries under the US antidumping law.

As indicated below, that issue comes to a boil on December 11, 2016 when pursuant to the China WTO Agreement, China is supposed to be treated as a market economy country. But Hilary Clinton states that if market economy treatment were given to China so they could be treated like Iran, we would “defang our antidumping laws.”  Nothing could be further from the truth.  Having worked at the Commerce Department, I am convinced that if China were to become a market economy, Commerce would still find very large dumping rates against China.

More importantly, the antidumping, countervailing duty and other trade laws do not work. They do not save US companies and industries.  We have a poster child to prove this point—The US Steel Industry.  After forty years of trade cases and protection from steel imports, where is the US steel industry today?

Many of the major steel companies, such as Bethlehem Steel, Lone Star Steel and Jones & Laughlin, have become green fields. The total employment of the US Steel industry now is less than one high tech company. A failure caused not because of the lack of  antidumping and countervailing duty protection covering billions of dollars in imports, but because as President Reagan stated back in 1986, protectionism does not work.  It does not save the companies, because these cases do not get at the root causes of the company’s and industry’s decline.

Donald Trump and Hilary Clinton have pointed to the closure of manufacturing plants in the US and their move to Mexico. But why did the factories close?

On March 4, 2016, the Wall Street Journal in an editorial entitled Trump on Ford and Nabisco The real reasons the companies left the U.S. for Mexico” clearly set out the reasons some of these companies left the United State to move to Mexico—Wages demands as high as $60 an hour from the Labor Unions coupled with sky high taxes to support public workers in Illinois.  As the Journal stated:

“Last summer, Deerfield, Illinois-based Mondelez, which owns Nabisco, announced that it would close nine production lines at its plant in Chicago—the largest bakery in the world—while investing in new technology at a facility in Salinas, Mexico. Mondelez made the decision after asking its unions for $46 million in concessions to match the annual savings it would achieve from shifting production to Mexico. . . .

Operating in Chicago is particularly expensive since Illinois has among the nation’s highest corporate and property taxes—which are soaring to pay for city employee pensions—and workers’ compensation premiums. Last year Illinois lost 56 manufacturing jobs per work day while employment increased in most other Midwest states including Wisconsin (18 a day), Indiana (20), Ohio (58) and Michigan (74).

As for Ford, Mr. Trump flogged the auto maker’s $2.5 billion investment in two new engine and transmission plants in Mexico. . . . One impetus behind Detroit’s Mexico expansion is the United Auto Workers new collective-bargaining agreement, which raises hourly labor and benefit costs to $60 in 2019—about $10 more than foreign auto makers with plants in the U.S.—from the current $57 for Ford and $55 for GM. The increasing wages make it less economical to produce low-margin cars.

Foreign car manufacturers including BMW, Honda, Volkswagen, Kia, Nissan and Mazda have also recently announced new investments in Mexico. Besides lower labor costs, one reason they give is Mexico’s free-trade agreements, which allow access to 60% of world markets. Mexico has 10 free-trade agreements with 45 countries including Japan and the European Union whereas the U.S. has only 14 deals with 20 countries.”

Companies have to be competitive with foreign competition, and labor unions must work with management to stay competitive with the rest of the World. The “More” statement of the famous US labor leader John L. Lewis no longer works if the labor union’s more leads to the closure of the US manufacturing company, which employs the workers in question.

THE ANSWER

Not only must US Companies be competitive, but countries, including the United States, must also be competitive and be willing to meet the competition from other countries. A major reason for the rise of Donald Trump is the failure of the US Congress to formulate a trade policy that works and promote the only US trade program that truly saves import injured manufacturing companies by helping them adjust to import competition—the Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) for Firms/Companies program.  As stated in prior blog posts, because of ideological purity among many Republican conservatives in Congress and the Senate, the TAA for Companies program has been cut to the bone to $12.5 million nationwide.  This cut is despite the fact that since 1984 here in the Northwest, the Northwest Trade Adjustment Assistance Center (“NWTAAC”) has been able to save 80% of the companies that entered the program.

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

This cut back to $12. 5 million nationwide from $50 million makes it impossible for the TAA for Companies program to work with medium or larger US companies, which have been injured by imports. TAA for Companies is hamstrung by neglect with a maximum technical assistance per firm level that has not changed in at least 30 years.

In case you don’t know about TAAF, this is a program that offers a one-time, highly targeted benefit to domestic companies hurt by trade. The benefit is not paid to the companies, but to consultants, who help the company adjust to import competition.   To put that in context, the very much larger TAA for Worker Program’s appropriation for FY 2015 was $711 million to retrain workers for jobs that may not exist after the company has closed.

Congress needs to find a cure to the trade problem, and it is not more trade cases, which do not save US companies and the jobs that go with them. TAA for Companies works, but because of politics, ideology and the resulting Congressional cuts, TAA has been so reduced it is now marginalized and cannot do the job it was set up to do.

Both Republicans and Democrats have failed to formulate a trade policy that will help US companies injured by imports truly adjust to import competition and become competitive in the World again. This failure has created Donald Trump and possibly a new dangerous protectionist era in US politics, which could have a disastrous impact on the US economy.

TPP TEXT AND TRADE ADVISORY REPORTS

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

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

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

On December 2nd and 3rd, 2015 various trade advisory groups operating under the umbrella of the United States Trade Representative (“USTR”) Group issued reports on the impact of the TPP on various industries and legal areas. All the reports can be found at https://ustr.gov/trade-agreements/free-trade-agreements/trans-pacific-partnership/advisory-group-reports-TPP and attached are many of the reports, ITAC-2-Automobile-Equipment-and-Capital-Goods, ITAC-12-Steel ITAC-11-Small-and-Minority-Business, ITAC-9-Building-Materials-Construction-and-Non-Ferrous-Metals ITAC-10-Services-and-Finance-Industries ITAC-6-Energy-and-Energy-Services ITAC-2-Automobile-Equipment-and-Capital-Goods ITAC-3-Chemicals-Pharmaceuticals-Health-Science-Products-and-Services ITAC-5-Distribution-Services ITAC-8-Information-and-Communication-Technologies-Services-and-Electronic-Commerce.  Almost all of the reports are favorable, except for the Steel Report, which takes no position, and the Labor Advisory Report, which is opposed because it is the position of the Unions.

NEW TRADE AND CUSTOMS ENFORCEMENT BILL

President Obama signed the bipartisan Trade Facilitation and Trade Enforcement Act of 2015 (TFTE) on February 24. A copy of the bill, the conference report and summary of the bill are attached,  JOINT EXPLANATORY STATEMENT OF THE COMMITTEE OF CONFERENCE CONFERENCE REPORT TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 20152 Summary of TRADE FACILITATION AND TRADE ENFORCEMENT ACT OF 2015 Trade-and-Environment-Policy-Advisory-Committee.pdf.

The bill makes many changes to the Customs and Trade laws with a specific focus on enforcement, particularly of the Trade laws. One of the provisions focuses on concerns surrounding non-resident, small “fly-by-night” importers of record.  The TFTE authorizes the Customs and Border Protection (“CBP”) to set up an importer-of-record program.  Through the program, CBP must establish criteria that importers must meet to obtain an importer-of-record number.

In addition, CBP is to establish an importer risk assessment program to review the risk associated with certain importers, particularly new importers and nonresident importers, to determine whether to adjust an importer’s bond or increase screening for an importer’s entries.   Specifically, Section 115(a) of the law provides:

Not later than the date that is 180 days after the date of the enactment of this Act, the Commissioner shall establish a program that directs U.S. Customs and Border Protection to adjust bond amounts for importers, including new importers and nonresident importers, based on risk assessments of such importers conducted by U.S. Customs and Border Protection, in order to protect the revenue of the Federal Government.

Title IV of the Act, Prevention of Evasion of Antidumping and Countervailing Duty Orders, sets up a new remedy for companies that believe that antidumping and countervailing duty orders are being evaded by shipping through a third country or misclassification or some other means.  The Act creates the Trade Remedy Enforcement Division within Department of Homeland Security, which is charged with developing and administering policies to prevent evasion of US antidumping and countervailing duty orders. The Secretary of Treasury is also authorized to enter into agreements with foreign nations to enforce the trade remedy laws.

On Aug. 23, 2016, CBP must begin investigating allegations of trade remedy evasion according to established procedures.   Those procedures include that CBP must initiate an investigation within 15 business days of receiving an allegation from an interested party and then has 300 days to determine whether the merchandise was entered through evasion. If CBP finds that there is a reasonable suspicion that merchandise entered the U.S. through evasion, CBP is directed to suspend the liquidation of each unliquidated entry of such covered merchandise.

Any CBP evasion decision is subject to judicial review by the Court of International Trade. The act also provides an expanded range of penalties where evasion is found to have occurred, including the imposition of additional duties and referrals to other agencies for other civil or criminal investigations.

Section 433 of the Act also eliminates the ability of an importer of a new shipper’s merchandise to post a bond or security instead of a cash deposit. This provision will prevent a company from importing substantial quantities of merchandise covered by an antidumping and/or countervailing duty order and then fail to pay the appropriate duty.

Finally, section 701 of the act, Enhancement of Engagement on Currency Exchange Rate and Economic Policies with Certain Major Trading Partners of the United States, establishes a procedure for identifying trade partners that are suspected of currency manipulation and conducting a macroeconomic analysis of those partners. The key finding is under section 701(2)(B), where the Treasury Secretary is to publicly describe the factors used to assess under paragraph (2)(A)(ii) whether a country has a significant bilateral trade surplus with the United States, has a material current account surplus, and has engaged in persistent one-sided intervention in the foreign exchange market.

If the Treasury Secretary is unable to address currency manipulation issues with a trading partner, the act authorizes the President to take additional steps to prevent and remedy further manipulation. For instance, the president may prohibit the approval of new financing products, which can be waived only upon a finding of adverse impact on the U.S. economy or serious harm to national security.

ZTE EXPORT LAW VIOLATIONS—MORE FUEL ON THE FIRE OF THE US CHINA TRADE WAR

On March 8, 2015, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (“BIS”) published the attached Federal Register notice, ZTE FED REG NOTICE, announcing that China based mega corporation ZTE and three of its affiliated companies have been added to the Entity List, which requires an export license before US made products can be exported to those companies. As China’s second largest telecommunications company, ZTE is also the world’s seventh largest producer of smartphones and has operations in the US and more than 160 other countries.

The Federal Register notice states:

The End-User Review Committee (“ERC”) composed of representatives of the Departments of Commerce (Chair), State, Defense, Energy, and, where appropriate, the Treasury has determined:

to add four entities—three in China and one in Iran—to the Entity List under the authority of § 744.11 (License requirements that apply to entities acting contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States) of the EAR. . . .

The ERC reviewed § 744.11(b) (Criteria for revising the Entity List) in making the determination to list these four entities. Under that paragraph, entities and other persons for which there is reasonable cause to believe, based on specific and articulable facts, have been involved, are involved, or pose a significant risk of being or becoming involved in, activities that are contrary to the national security or foreign policy interests of the United States . . . .

Pursuant to § 744.11 of the EAR, the ERC determined that Zhongxing Telecommunications Equipment Corporation (‘‘ZTE Corporation’’) . . . be added to the Entity List under the destination of China for actions contrary to the national security and foreign policy interests of the United States. Specifically, the ZTE Corporation document ‘‘Report Regarding Comprehensive Reorganization and Standardization of the Company Export Control Related Matters’’ (available at http://www.bis.doc.gov) indicates that ZTE Corporation has reexported controlled items to sanctioned countries contrary to United States law. The ZTE Corporation document ‘‘Proposal for Import and Export Control Risk Avoidance’’ (available at http://www.bis.doc.gov) describes how ZTE Corporation also planned and organized a scheme to establish, control, and use a series of ‘‘detached’’ (i.e., shell) companies to illicitly re-export controlled items to Iran in violation of U.S. export control laws.

Having looked at the internal confidential ZTE report, which Commerce in a very unusual situation has published as a public document on its website, ZTE truly has been caught red handed. The ZTE Report lays out a detailed scheme to evade US Export Control laws.  No country, including the United States or China, would tolerate such a scheme to systematically evade a country’s laws.

For more on the ZTE Action along with a link to the confidential ZTE document now posted on the Commerce Department website, see http://ftalphaville.ft.com/2016/03/08/2155724/has-the-cold-us-sino-trade-war-just-got-piping-hot/.

From the Chinese point of view, however, the Commerce Department has no credibility because its antidumping laws presently block about $30 billion in imports based on fake numbers. Because the US Government’s Import and Export Control Administration are both located in the Commerce Department, the Chinese government looks at all the Department’s decisions as US based protectionism.

The problem is that through its nonmarket economy methodology, which does not use actual costs and prices to determine dumping, Commerce has created a game, and the Chinese will play it. Sometimes Chinese companies talk to me about using the “houmen” back door and shipping products through different countries to evade US antidumping laws.  I always tell the Chinese companies that this is Customs fraud and they risk civil and criminal prosecution under US Customs and trade laws.

In fact, in the past Chinese honey suppliers that used transshipment to get around the US antidumping law were caught in the United States and hauled in front of Federal Court on criminal charges for evasion of US antidumping laws. I have heard of one Chinese company seafood executive arrested in Belgium and sent to Belgian jail on an extradition warrant for evasion of US antidumping laws.

With the enactment of the New Trade and Customs Enforcement Act, described above, the US government now has more ways of catching Chinese companies and US importers that try to evade US trade laws. As one Chinese friend told me, such actions are “too damned dangerous”.

Although US judgments are not enforceable in China, Chinese companies have to also realize, that like ZTE, they have grown up and have subsidiaries all around the World. US judgments may not be enforceable in China, but they are enforceable in Hong Kong and other countries, and every Chinese company I have ever dealt with has a Hong Kong bank account.  Through its scheme to evade US export control laws, ZTE now has major problems and those problems may now multiply worldwide.

CHINA’S NME STATUS—ANOTHER HOT TOPIC FOR 2016

As stated in prior newsletters, interest groups on both sides of the issue have increased their political attacks in the debate over China’s market economy status. On February 23, 2016, under intense pressure from the labor unions, Hilary Clinton stated that to give market economy status to China:

“would defang our anti-dumping laws and let cheap products flood into our markets. So we should reply with only one word: No.”

To summarize the issue, on December 11, 2016, pursuant to the WTO Agreement, the 15 year provision, expires. More specifically, the United States faces a looming deadline under the WTO Agreement with regard to the application of this nonmarket economy methodology to China.

Under Nonmarket economy methodology, Commerce does not use actual prices and costs in China to determine dumping, but constructs a cost from consumption factors in China multiplied by surrogate values from import statistics in 5 to 10 different countries and those values can change from preliminary to final determination and review to review. Because of this methodology no Chinese company and certainly no US importer that is liable for the duties, knows whether the Chinese company is truly dumping.  Fake numbers lead to fake results.

Section 15 of the China WTO Accession Agreement, which originated from the US China WTO Accession Agreement, provides:

  • Price Comparability in Determining Subsidies and Dumping . . .

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

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

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

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

That provision specifies that an importing WTO member may use a methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices and costs in China to determine normal value in an AD case, if producers of a given product under investigation cannot clearly show that market economy conditions prevail in their industry.

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

As stated above, Hilary Clinton is under enormous pressure to be tough on China. On February 12th,The American Iron and Steel Industry made it clear that it wants China’s non-market economy status in antidumping cases to be at the forefront of the public debate.  Thus Thomas Gibson, AISI president and CEO, stated:

“We want to keep the issue in front of decision makers and in the public debate because there will be a new government a year from now. “

He further stated that the Obama administration has not shown any sign that it is considering treating China as a market economy in AD cases as a result of an expiring provision in the country’s accession protocol to the World Trade Organization. As Gibson further stated:

“We have not heard anyone in the administration say that they agree with China’s assertion that it is to be given market economy status automatically at the end of the year. I think the administration has heard our concerns.”

Deputy U.S. Trade Representative Michael Punke also reportedly stated in early February in Geneva that there was little administration interest in treating China as a market economy:

“The issue of China’s status is not automatic. The mere change of date at the end of the year does not automatically result in a change of status for China.”

Other US government officials have informally conceded that the administration has arrived at the conclusion that no automatic change of U.S. AD methodology is needed, a position clearly articulated by the Commerce Department.

In the attached February 24, 2016 statement to the US China Economic and Security Review Commission, HUFBAUER STATE, however, Gary Clyde Hufbauer, a well-known international trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, made the opposite argument noting first that the following countries have granted China market economy status in antidumping cases: New Zealand, Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. Hufbauer went on to state:

Some lawyers read the text differently. While they agree that Article 15(a)(ii) effectively disappears on December 11, 2016, they do not agree that the Protocol confines WTO members to a binary choice between MES (strict comparison of export prices with Chinese prices or costs) and NME (comparison with surrogate prices or costs). They point to the opening language in Article 15(a), which states:

…the importing WTO member shall use either Chinese prices or costs for the industry under investigation or a methodology that is not based on a strict comparison with domestic prices or costs in China….

To be sure, under Article 15(d), the whole of Article 15(a) disappears:

Once China has established, under the national law of the importing WTO Member, that it is a market economy, the provisions of subparagraph (a) shall be terminated….

The United States might well argue, come December 11, 2016, that China has not established that it has become, in all important respects, a market economy. The Commerce Department could modify its current surrogate practices and instead use a “mix-and-match” approach—claiming on a case-by-case basis that some Chinese prices or costs reflect market conditions and others do not. For the prices or costs that do not reflect market conditions, the Commerce Department could use surrogate prices or costs. This seems most likely in industries, such as steel, dominated by state-owned enterprises, with large losses financed by state-controlled banks.

Whether the United States takes a “mix-and-match” approach, rather than granting China blanket market economy status, will turn primarily on policy considerations, not legal parsing. The policy decision may reflect the general atmosphere of commercial relations with China late in 2016, including the evolution of the renminbi exchange rate (manipulated devaluation would inspire a harder line) and the outcome of US-China bilateral investment treaty (BIT) negotiations (success would have the opposite effect).

Assuming the United States adopts a “mix-and-match” approach, the stage will be set for China to initiate WTO litigation. In this scenario, the year 2018 seems the earliest date for a final decision by the WTO Appellate Body. My guess is that the Appellate Body would rule against the “mix-and-match” approach. Even so, China would not receive retroactive refunds for antidumping duties collected prior to the ruling.

Moreover, within China, the US denial of full-fledged MES would resonate strongly, in a negative way. Antagonism would be particularly strong if, as I expect, the European Union and other major countries accord MES in December 2016. Consequently, China would likely retaliate in opaque ways against US exporters and investors.

On balance, the United States would lose more than it gains from withholding full-fledged MES. A very large irritant would be thrown into US-China commercial relations, with a modest benefit to US industries that initiate AD proceedings. Even without the use of surrogate costs and prices, AD margins are typically high. Adding an extra 20 percent penalty, through the use of surrogate cost and price methodologies, will not do a great deal more to restrain injurious imports.

On February 25, 2016, Cecilia Malmström, the EU Commissioner for Trade, stated at a China Association Event in London that China is:

a major investment partner too. The EU has stocks of 117 billion pound sterling in the Chinese economy. And China is a growing source of foreign investment for the EU. Chinese investment in EU in 2014 is four times what it was in 2008.

And, if we just look at our exports alone, over 3 million jobs here in Europe depend on our sales in China. . . .

The second issue I want to raise is the question of changing the methodology in anti-dumping investigations concerning Chinese products, the so-called market economy status.

This is a sensitive issue. And it’s become even more so with the steel situation. That’s why the EU is conducting a thorough impact assessment and public consultation before we make up our minds on where to go.

But what is clear is that certain provisions of China’s protocol of accession to the WTO related to this issue will expire in December.

We need to be very careful how we approach this and we need to work cooperatively. We will need the constructive engagement of all Member States, including the UK.

On March 3, 2016, the executive council of the AFL-CIO labor union called on the US government to end the trade agreement TTIP negotiations if the EU makes China a market economy country.

TRADE

RAW ALUMINUM PROBLEMS

In light of the impact of the aluminum extrusions case on the US market, the import problem has now moved upstream. The next round of antidumping and countervailing duty cases against China looks like it will be on raw aluminum products.

On February 24, 2016, in a letter to the US International Trade Commission (“ITC”), WAYS MEANS LETTER ALUMINUM, House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady requested that the Commission conduct a section 332 fact finding investigation of the US aluminum industry. The letter specifically states:

The Committee on Ways and Means is interested in obtaining current information on relevant factors affecting the global competitiveness of the U.S. aluminum industry. The U.S. aluminum industry remains a globally successful producer of aluminum products. A healthy and growing aluminum industry is not only important to our economy, but is also vital for our national defense. ·

In order to better assess the current market conditions confronting the U.S. industry, we request that the U.S. International Trade Commission conduct an investigation under section 332(g) of the Tariff Act of 1930 ( 19 U.S.C. !332(g)), and provide a report setting forth the results of the investigation. The investigation should cover unwrought (e.g., primary and secondary) and wrought (e.g., semi-finished) aluminum products

To the extent that information is available, the report should contain:

  • an overview of the aluminum industry in the United States and other major global producing and exporting countries, including production, production capacity, capacity utilization, employment, wages, inventories, supply chains, domestic demand, and exports;

information on recent trade trends and developments in the global market for aluminum, including U.S. and other major foreign producer imports and exports, and trade flows through third countries for further processing and subsequent exports;

  • a comparison of the competitive strengths and weaknesses of aluminum production and exports in the United States and other major producing and exporting countries, including such factors as producer revenue and production costs, industry structure, input prices and availability, energy costs and sources, production technology, product in novation, exchange rates, and pricing, as well as government policies and programs that directly or indirectly affect aluminum production and exporting in these countries;
  • in countries where unwrought aluminum capacity has significantly increased, identify factors driving those capacity and related production changes; and
  • a qualitative and, to the extent possible, quantitative assessment of the impact of government policies and programs in major foreign aluminum producing and exporting countries on their aluminum production, exports, consumption, and domestic prices, as well as on the U.S. aluminum industry and on aluminum markets worldwide.

The report should focus primarily on the 2011-2015 time period, but examine longer term trends since 2011. To develop detailed information on the domestic aluminum market and industry, it is anticipated that the Commission will need to collect primary data from market participants through questionnaires. The Committee requests that the Commission transmit its report to Congress no later than 16 months following the receipt of this request. . . .

One major purpose of the investigation is to assess how China policies have affected the US aluminum industry.

President Heidi Brock of the US Aluminum Association, which represents the US aluminum industry, applauded the Ways and Means request for an ITC investigation:

“An investigation by the [ITC] will help us address ongoing issues in the global aluminum industry that are hurting the domestic market and leading to curtailments, closures and job losses. I am pleased that the Congress recognizes the continued economic importance of this vital industry and I applaud Chairman Brady’s leadership to move this issue forward.”

Recently, the U.S. industry has curtailed or closed 65 percent of U.S. aluminum capacity with many job losses for U.S. workers

The information collected by the ITC could be used as the basis for trade cases against China and other countries.

THE ONGOING STEEL CASES

Many companies have been asking me about the ongoing Steel antidumping and countervailing duty cases so this section will address the Steel cases in more detail.

As happened in the OCTG cases, where Chinese OCTG was simply replaced by imports from Korea, India, Taiwan, Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Ukraine, Thailand and Turkey, the same scenario is happening in other steel cases, such as the recent cold-rolled and corrosion-resistant/galvanized steel cases.

Based on the nonmarket economy antidumping methodology, which does not use actual prices and costs in China, in the recent cases Chinese steel companies were smashed with high antidumping rates of 200 to 300 percent. In the Cold Rolled Steel countervailing duty case, the Chinese companies and Chinese government simply gave up and received a rate over 200% and now under the Antidumping Law rates of over 200%.

COLD ROLLED STEEL FROM CHINA, BRAZIL, KOREA, INDIA AND RUSSIA—PRELIMINARY COUNTERVAILING DUTY AND ANTIDUMPING DETERMINATIONS

On December 16, 2015, Commerce issued its attached preliminary countervailing duty determination, factsheet-multiple-cold-rolled-steel-flat-products-cvd-prelim-121615, in Certain Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Brazil, China, India, and Russia and No Countervailable Subsidization of Imports of Certain Cold-Rolled Steel Flat Products from Korea. The effect of the case is to wipe all Chinese cold rolled steel out of the United States with a countervailing duty (CVD) rate of 227.29%.

As also predicted, the countervailing duty rates for all the other countries were very low, if not nonexistent: Brazil 7.42% for all companies, India 4.45% for all companies, Korea 0 for all companies and Russia 0 to 6.33% for all companies.

The 227.29% CVD rate for all the Chinese companies was based on all facts available as the Chinese government and the Chinese steel companies simply refused to cooperate realizing that it was a futile exercise to fight the case at Commerce because of the surrogate value methodology and refusal to use actual prices and costs in China.

On March 1, 2016 Commerce issued its attached preliminary antidumping determination mirroring the rates in the preliminary CVD determination. Specifically, in a factsheet, factsheet-multiple-cold-rolled-steel-flat-products-ad-prelim-030116, Commerce announced its affirmative preliminary determinations in the antidumping duty  investigations of imports of certain cold rolled steel flat products from Brazil, China, India, Japan, Korea, Russia, and the United Kingdom.

As predicted, China’s antidumping rate was 265.79% as the Chinese companies simply gave up and did not participate because they believed that it would be impossible to get a good antidumping rate using nonmarket economy methodology.

For the other market economy countries, the results were mixed. Brazil received antidumping rates of 38.93% and Japan was 71.35%.

But India’s rate was only 6.78% and Korea had rates ranging from 2.17 to 6.85%. For Russia, the rates ranged from 12.62 to 16.89% and the United Kingdom rates were between 5.79 to 31.39%.

What does this mean? China is wiped out along with Japan and probably Brazil, but Korea, India, Russia and UK will continue to export steel to the US and simply take the Chinese market share.

Antidumping and countervailing duty cases do not save US industries.

CUSTOMS NEW “LIVE ENTRY” PROCEDURES FOR STEEL IMPORTS

On March 3, 2016, Customs announced a new effort to enforce trade rules against steel shipments at risk for evasion of antidumping and countervailing duty orders. It requires importers of record to provide the paperwork and pay the necessary duties before a given shipment is released into the U.S. market.

This live-entry requirement is already being applied to cut-to-length steel plate from China. Customs is considering requiring live-entry procedures for other high-risk steel imports subject to the 100 plus AD/CVD cases, but sidestepped a question on whether these procedures would apply to products other than steel.

This new live entry requirement slows up imports from entering the US commerce to that Customs can make sure everything in the shipment is correct before releasing it into the Commerce of the United States.

SOLAR CELLS REVIEW DETERMINATION

On December 18, 2015, in an attached decision, SOLAR CELLS AD PRELIM, the Commerce Department issued its preliminary determination in the 2013-2014 Solar Cells antidumping review investigation.  The antidumping rates range from 4.53% for Trina to 11.47% for Yingli.  The average dumping rate for the Chinese separate rate companies is 7.27%.

On December 31, 2015, Commerce issued its attached preliminary determination in the 2013 Countervailing duty case, DOC SOLAR CVD 2013, and the rates went up to 19.62% for three Chinese companies–JA Solar Technology Yangzhou Co., Ltd., Changzhou Trina Solar Energy Co., Ltd. and Wuxi Suntech Power Co., Ltd.

Meanwhile, requests for antidumping and countervailing duty review investigations in the Solar Cells case were due in December 2015 and in February 2016 for the Solar Products. While in China in February, I ran into many Chinese solar companies that were in serious trouble because they failed to request a review investigation.

MARCH ANTIDUMPING ADMINISTRATIVE REVIEWS

On March 1, 2015, Commerce published the attached Federal Register notice, MARCH REVIEWS, regarding antidumping and countervailing duty cases for which reviews can be requested in the month of March. The specific antidumping cases against China are: Chloropicrin, Circular Welded Austenitic Stainless Pressure Pipe, Glycine, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, and Tissue Paper Products.

The specific countervailing duty case is: Circular Welded Austenitic Stainless Pressure Pipe

For those US import companies that imported : Chloropicrin, Circular Welded Austenitic Stainless Pressure Pipe, Glycine, Sodium Hexametaphosphate, or Tissue Paper Products during the antidumping period March 1, 2015-February28, 2016 or the countervailing duty period of review, calendar year 2015, the end of this month is a very important deadline. Requests have to be filed at the Commerce Department by the Chinese suppliers, the US importers and US industry by the end of this month to participate in the administrative review.

This is a very important month for US importers because administrative reviews determine how much US importers actually owe in 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.

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

CUSTOMS

RICO ACTION AGAINST CHINESE GARLIC EXPORTERS

In the attached complaint, GARLIC COMPLAINT, on January 28, 2016, Chinese garlic exporter Zhengzhou Harmoni Spice Co. Ltd. and its parent company sued a group of Chinese competitors in California federal court accusing them of deliberately defrauding the U.S. government in order to acquire preferential duty rates.

Zhengzhou Harmoni claimed the exporters, which the company says are affiliated to Chinese businessman Wenxuan Bai, are defrauding the system by lying and submitting falsified documents to Customs and Commerce in violation of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act. The company said their competitors’ allegedly unlawful conduct is unfairly eroding Harmoni’s market share because Harmoni rightly earned favorable rates from the federal government through the antidumping review process,

Zhengzhou Harmoni told the court that its parent company and exclusive importer enjoys a similar advantage in the U.S. marketplace, but accused the Bai-affiliated garlic exporters of unlawfully forming new corporate entities and revitalizing old ones in order to obtain coveted “new shipper” designations to garner preferential treatment.

Meanwhile, in a decision, CIT PREMIER GARLIC, in late January Premier Trading, Inc. v. United States, Premier, a U.S. garlic  importer of garlic from Qingdao Tiantaixing Foods Co. Ltd., one of the companies named in Harmoni’s RICO suit, sued Customs and Commerce in the U.S. Court of International Trade (“CIT”). Premier Trading Inc. alleged CBP’s enhanced bond requirements for shipments from QTF are resulting in delays and leaving fresh garlic to spoil.

On February 11, 2016, Judge Gordon of the CIT denied Premier’s motion for a preliminary injunction, stating at the outset that there was no likelihood of success on the merits:

It is apparent that QTF may potentially be subject to the higher PRC-wide rate as a consequence of Comm