US CHINA TRADE WAR - March 2014

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

“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”

PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986

US CHINA TRADE WAR NEWSLETTER—MARCH 2014

Dear Friends,

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

TRADE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the ITC stated in its atached preliminary staff report:

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

ITC PRELIMINARY OCTG MANY COUNTRIES Pub4422 OCTG pdf

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

As the Senators stated:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

USTR ISSUES ANNUAL TRADE REPORT TO CONGRESS

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

Conclude the Ambitious Trans-Pacific Partnership Negotiations . . .

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

IMPORT ALLIANCE FOR AMERICA/IMPORTERS’ LOBBYING COALITION

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

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

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

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

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

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

CHINESE ANTIDUMPING CASE—DRY CLEANING CHEMICALS FROM THE US

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

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

CUSTOMS

EXECUTIVE ORDER TO STREAMLINE TRADE 

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

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

CUSTOMS FRAUD—LIABILITY OF INDIVIDUAL OWNERS AND EMPLOYEES

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

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

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

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

and

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

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

In its request for the rehearing, the Government stated:

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

FDA—FOOD PROBLEMS

WASHINGTON/PACIFIC COAST SHELLFISH BANNED FROM CHINA—NOW TRANSSHIPMENT

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What goes around does indeed come around.

PATENT/IP AND 337 CASES

ITC IS MAKING IT MORE DIFFICULT FOR PATENT TROLLS

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

The Commission specifically stated in the order:

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

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

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

ITC REQUESTS EN BANC REHEARING AT CAFC OF SUPREMA DECISION

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

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

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

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

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

DUPONT TRADE SECRET CONVICTION

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

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

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

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

NEW 337 CASE AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES FOR IMPORTS OF SULFENTRAZONE

Docket No: 3004

Document Type: 337 Complaint

Filed By: Lisa a. Chiarini

Firm/Org: Hughes, Hubbard, & Reed LLP

Behalf Of: FMC Corporation

Date Received: March 5, 2014

Commodity: Sulfentrazone from China

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

NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK CASES AGAINST CHINESE COMPANIES, INCLUDING HUAWEI

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

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

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

ANTITRUST

VITAMIN C CASE

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

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

CHINA ANTITRUST CASES

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

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

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

SECURITIES

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

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

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

 FCPA DIGEST

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

CHINA

Avon Products

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

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

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

 JPMorgan

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

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

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

 Former Minister of Public Security

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

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

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

COMPLAINTS

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

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

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

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

Topics:  Antidumping Duties, Asia, China, Trade Agreements

Published In: Antitrust & Trade Regulation Updates, Intellectual Property Updates, International Trade Updates

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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