TRADE IS A TWO WAY STREET
“PROTECTIONISM BECOMES DESTRUCTIONISM; IT COSTS JOBS”
PRESIDENT RONALD REAGAN, JUNE 28, 1986
US CHINA TRADE WAR MARCH 11, 2016
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.
THE TRUMP IMPACT ON US TRADE POLICY
As stated in numerous past newsletters, 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?
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Commerce’s preliminary determination in the 20th administrative review. Furthermore, there has been a long and documented pattern of non-payment and underpayment of antidumping duties subject to the Garlic Order (amounting to several hundred million dollars). . . . Customs, here, has also provided confidential documents regarding Plaintiff’s connection to other importers that mirror a pattern of non-payment and underpayment, which suggests, as Customs claims, that Plaintiff poses a similar risk to the revenue. . . . In light of these facts, it is hard to see merit in Plaintiff’s claim that Customs failed to provide an adequate explanation for the enhanced bonding requirement for Plaintiff’s entries. Accordingly, Customs’ imposition of a heightened bonding requirement on imports from QTF does not appear arbitrary or capricious. . . . Plaintiff has therefore failed to establish a likelihood of success on the merits.
Judge Gordon then found that there was no irreparable injury and that the balance of equities favored the Government. Judge Gordon then stated that Public Interest lies in favor of the Government:
Here, the public has an interest in protecting the revenue of the United States and in assuring compliance with the trade laws. See 19 U.S.C. § 1623. Enhanced bonding pending litigation serves both these interests. Additional security covers potential liabilities and protects against default, ensuring the correct antidumping duty is paid.
CUSTOMS PROTEST RULE APPEALED TO SUPREME COURT
Meanwhile, International Custom Products Inc. has filed an attached writ of certiorari on January 19, SUPREME COURT CERT PROTEST ISSUE, and asked the U.S. Supreme Court to review the constitutionality of a Customs rule requiring the full payment of duties by an importer before a court case can proceed, challenging the Federal Circuit’s conclusion that the policy meets due process requirements. The importer argues that the CPB rule requiring importers to fully pay imposed duties before bringing a court case is unconstitutional because it deprives the company of due process. The company has been disputing $28 million in tariffs it claims have been erroneously applied to its imports of white sauce due to the agency’s reclassification of the product.
FALSE CLAIMS ACT
On February 22, 2016 in a settlement agreement, SETTLEMENT FCA GRAPHITE, Ameri-Source International Inc., a graphite electrodes company, paid $3 million to settle a false claims act case that it schemed to avoid antidumping duties on imports of graphite electrodes from China in violation of the False Claims Act. The complaint alleges that the importer misclassified the merchandise and lied about the country of origin to avoid paying anti-dumping duties on shipments of small-diameter graphite electrodes use for manufacturing.
Ameri-Source reportedly established a shell company in India to accept the imports of graphite rods from China for “jobwork,” and to re-export the materials to the U.S. to circumvent stateside customs regulations. The settlement resolves claims that Ameri-Source evaded anti-dumping duties on 15 shipments.
IP/PATENT AND 337 CASES
NEW 337 CASES
On January 21, 2016, Edgewell Personal Care Brands, LLC and International Refills Company Ltd. filed a new 337 patent case on Certain Diaper Disposal Systems and Components Thereof, Including Diaper Refill Cassettes against Munchkin, Inc., Van Nuys, CA; Munchkin Baby Canada Ltd., Canada; and Lianyungang Brilliant Daily Products Co. Ltd., in China.
On February 5, 2016, Simple Wishes, LLC filed a new section 337 on Pumping Bras against Tanzky, China; Baby Preg, China; Deal Perfect, China; and Buywish, China.
CRIMINAL PATENT CASES
On January 26, 2016, the US Justice Department announced that Chinese National Mo Hailong, Robert Mo, pled guilty to conspiring to steal trade secrets from Dupont, Pioneer and Monsanto. In a notice, Chinese National Pleads Guilty to Conspiring to Steal Trade Secrets _ OPA _, the Justice Department stated:
Specifically, Hailong admitted to participating in the theft of inbred – or parent – corn seeds from fields in the Southern District of Iowa for the purpose of transporting those seeds to China. The stolen inbred seeds constitute the valuable intellectual property of DuPont Pioneer and Monsanto.
During the conspiracy, Hailong was employed as director of international business of the Beijing Dabeinong Technology Group Company, a Chinese conglomerate with a corn seed subsidiary company, Kings Nower Seed. Hailong is a Chinese national who became a lawful permanent resident of the United States pursuant to an H-1B visa.
Hailong is scheduled to be sentenced at a date to be determined later in Des Moines, Iowa. Conspiracy to steal trade secrets is a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000. As part of Hailong’s plea agreement, the government has agreed not to seek a prison sentence exceeding five years.
NEW PATENT AND TRADEMARK COMPLAINTS AGAINST CHINESE, HONG KONG AND TAIWAN COMPANIES
On January 13, 2016, in the attached complaint, SHENZHEN PATENT CASE, PS Products Inc and Bill Pennington filed a patent case against Global Sources, Ltd. and affiliated parties, and Jiangsu Rayi Security Products, Co., Ltd. and Shenzhen Rose Industrial Co., Ltd.
On January 21, 2016, in the attached complaint, STAHLS PATENT CASEStahls’ Inc. filed a patent case against Vevor Corp., Shanghai Sishun Machinery Equipment Co., Ltd. and Saven Corp.
On January 25, 2016, in the attached complaint, UNICOLORS COPYRIGHT, Unicolors, Inc. filed a copyright infringement case against Jiangsu Global Development, Inc., T. Milano Ross Stores Inc., DD’s Discounts, Phool Fashion Ltd., the Vermont Country Store, Inc. and Trends Inc.
On January 26, 2016, in the attached complaint, BLUE RHINO PATENT CASE, Blue Rhino Global Sourcing filed a patent case against Guangdong Chant Group Co., Ltd.
On February 1, 2016, in the attached complaint, ZHEJIANG PATENT CASE, Otsuka Pharmaceutical Co., Ltd. filed a patent case against Stason Industrial Corp., Stason Pharmaceuticals Inc., Zhejiang Jinhua Conba Bio-Pharm Co., Ltd., Tai Heng Industry Co., Ltd, and Breckenridge Pharmaceutical Inc.
On February 5, 2016, in the attached complaint, VACCUUM TRADE SECRET CASE, IMIG, Inc., Nationwide Sales and Services Inc, Gumwand Inc. and Perfect Products Services and Supply Inc. filed a trade secrets and unfair competition case against Omi Electric Appliance Company Co., Ltd., Beijing China Base Startrade Co., Ltd. and Xi Shihui, a Chinese citizen.
On February 10, 2016, in the attached complaint, HUAWEI PATENT CASE, Blue Spike LLC filed a patent case against Huawei Technologies.
PRODUCTS LIABILITY CASES AND LACY ACT VIOLATIONS
THE RISE OF CHINESE PRODUCTS LIABILITY INSURANCE
While in China last month working on various cases, I learned that the People’s Insurance Company (“PICC”) is offering Chinese companies products liability insurance. Every US importer should demand that his Chinese supplier obtain product’s liability insurance. Otherwise when something goes wrong, the US importer is on the hook for damages, not the Chinese company that created the problem.
PRODUCT LIABILITY COMPLAINTS
On January 26, 2016, in the attached complaint, CHINA FIREWORKS CASE, the Reynolds Family filed a products liability/wrongful death case on behalf of Russell Reynolds, who was killed when Chinese fireworks went off by mistake. The respondent companies are Pyro Shows of Texas, Inc., Pyro Shows, Inc., Czech International Trading, Jiangxi Lidu Fireworks Group Co., Ltd., Jiangxi Province Lidu Fireworks Corp., Ltd., Fireworks Corp., Ltd., Icon Pyrotechnic International Co., Ltd., Oriental Fireworks Co., Ltd. and Glorious Company.
On January 26, 2016, in the attached complaint, CHINA REFRIGERATOR, Allstate Insurance Company on behalf of Miguel Bejarno filed a products liability case against Electrolux Home Products Inc., Midea Group Co., Ltd. and Guangzhou Refrigeration Co., Ltd. because a Chinese produced refrigerator blew up and burned down a house causing extensive damage.
LARGEST LACEY ACT FINE IN HISTORY AGAINST LUMBER LIQUIDATORS FOR CHINESE HARDWOOD IMPORTS
On February 1, 2016, the Justice Department in the attached statement, Lumber Liquidators Inc. Sentenced for Illegal Importation of Hardwood and Re, announced that Lumber Liquidators Inc. was sentenced for illegal Importation of hardwood from China and related environmental crimes and agreed to pay 13 million, one of the largest penalties ever issued under the Lacey Act. The announcement states:
Virginia-based hardwood flooring retailer Lumber Liquidators Inc. was sentenced today in federal court in Norfolk, Virginia, and will pay more than $13 million in criminal fines, community service and forfeited assets related to its illegal importation of hardwood flooring, much of which was manufactured in China from timber that had been illegally logged in far eastern Russia, in the habitat of the last remaining Siberian tigers and Amur leopards in the world . . . .
In total, the company will pay $13.15 million, including $7.8 million in criminal fines, $969,175 in criminal forfeiture and more than $1.23 million in community service payments. Lumber Liquidators has also agreed to a five-year term of organizational probation and mandatory implementation of a government-approved environmental compliance plan and independent audits. In addition, the company will pay more than $3.15 million in cash through a related civil forfeiture. The more than $13.15 million dollar penalty is the largest financial penalty for timber trafficking under the Lacey Act and one of the largest Lacey Act penalties ever.
Lumber Liquidators pleaded guilty and was charged in October 2015 in the Eastern District of Virginia with one felony count of importing goods through false statements and four misdemeanor violations of the Lacey Act, which makes it a crime to import timber that was taken in violation of the laws of a foreign country and to transport falsely-labeled timber across international borders into the United States. . . . This is the first felony conviction related to the import or use of illegal timber and the largest criminal fine ever under the Lacey Act.
“The case against Lumber Liquidators shows the true cost of turning a blind eye to the environmental laws that protect endangered wildlife,” said Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This company left a trail of corrupt transactions and habitat destruction. Now they will pay a price for this callous and careless pursuit of profit.” . . .
“By knowingly and illegally sourcing timber from vulnerable forests in Asia and other parts of the world, Lumber Liquidators made American consumers unwittingly complicit in the ongoing destruction of some of the world’s last remaining intact forests,” said Director Dan Ashe of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “Along with hastening the extinction of the highly endangered Siberian tiger and many other native species, illegal logging driven by the company’s greed threatens the many people who depend on sustainable use of these forests for food, clean water, shelter and legitimate jobs. These unprecedented sanctions show how seriously we take illegal trade, and I am grateful to the Service special agents and wildlife inspectors, Homeland Security agents, and Justice Department attorneys who halted Lumber Liquidators’ criminal acts and held the company accountable under the law.”
According to a joint statement of facts filed with the court, from 2010 to 2013, Lumber Liquidators repeatedly failed to follow its own internal procedures and failed to take action on self-identified “red flags.” Those red flags included imports from high risk countries, imports of high risk species, imports from suppliers who were unable to provide documentation of legal harvest and imports from suppliers who provided false information about their products. Despite internal warnings of risk and noncompliance, very little changed at Lumber Liquidators.
There have been developments in the antitrust area.
CHINESE BAUXITE EXPORTERS WIN ANTITRUST CASE
On January 25, 2016, in the attached opinion in Resco Products, Inc. v. Bosai Minerals Group Co., Ltd. and CMP Tianjin Co., Ltd., BAUXITE OPINION, Chief District Judge Conti in the Western District of Pennsylvania granted summary judgment for the Chinese companies and dismissed the antitrust case. Resco brought the claim individually and as a class representative, against Bosai and CMP alleging a conspiracy in China to fix the price and limit the supply of refractory grade bauxite in violation of the Sherman Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1.
The Court concluded that any price floor or quota was set by the Chinese government’s Ministry of Commerce, not by the individual Chinese Bauxite companies. In its discussion of the facts, the Court stated:
In his declaration for the China Chamber of Commerce for Metals and Chemicals (“CCCMC”), Liu Jian (“Jian”), a CCCMC employee since 1995 and deputy director of the Bidding Office since 2006, . . . explained that “[a]t Bauxite Branch meetings, Bidding Office staff asked the Bauxite Branch members for their opinions about specific proposed quota amounts, quota bidding minimum prices, and other matters relating to quota bidding.” . . . but the authority and power to adopt quotas, and to establish the quota amount, minimum bidding price, and other terms, was always with MOFCOM, not the members or the CCCMC. MOFCOM could, and often did, set the quotas and minimum bidding prices at levels different than those favored by members. . . .
The Judge went on to state:
Here, plaintiff’s § 1 claim is based on its assertion that “[d]efendants and their co-conspirators colluded to fix export prices and quotas for bauxite from 2003 to 2009. . . .
In a per se case, “‘the plaintiff need only prove that the defendants conspired among each other and that this conspiracy was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injury.’” . . .
In a vacuum, proposals to set bauxite quotas at specified levels being voted on at Bauxite Branch meetings appear to indicate explicit member participation in a conspiracy to limit output. However, the Bauxite Branch’s demonstrated lack of authority with respect to quotas invalidates such a finding. Since at least 2001, MOFCOM has been “responsible for deciding and announcing the types and the total quota quantity of commodities subject to bidding,” not the CCCMC or its Branches. . . . The quota announced by the Bidding Committee during each of the years of the alleged conspiracy never corresponded to a resolution of the Bauxite Branch. At its 2004 through 2006 meetings, the Bauxite Branch failed to pass any resolution related to quota amount, yet the Bidding Committee, an instrumentality of MOFCOM, still announced quotas in each of those years. . . . Any conspiracy to establish a limit equal to or higher than that imposed by the government could have no effect.
Consistent with the undisputed Declaration of the CCCMC, Bauxite Branch member votes for proposals concerning the yearly bauxite quota amount can only be construed as opinions offered to MOFCOM. . . . These opinions were not that limits should be placed on bauxite output. The implementation of quotas was mandated by the Chinese government, not agreed to by private entities. . . .
Bauxite Branch members were asked for their opinions pertaining to the bauxite quota during meetings, “but the authority and power to adopt quotas, and to establish the quota amount, minimum bidding price, and other terms, was always with MOFCOM.” . . .
As discussed previously, the evidence adduced with respect to the quotas cannot support a § 1 claim, because the Chinese government – and not defendants – set the quotas.
Resco has appealed the District’s Court’s determination to the Court of Appeals.
CHINESE COMPANIES SETTLE SOLYNDRA SOLAR CASE
On February 26, 2016, in the attached settlement agreement, SOLYNDRA SETTLEMENT, Yingli Green Energy Holding Company Ltd. agreed to settle for $7.5 million a US antitrust case alleging that Chinese companies conspired to set prices with the objective of destroying Solyndra.
Solyndra previously settled the litigation against two other Chinese companies, Trina Solar Ltd. and Suntech Power Holdings Co. Ltd, for a total of $51 million, with Trina Solar paying $45 million and Suntech paying $6 million.
CHINA ANTI-MONOPOLY CASES
On February 3, 2016, T&D sent us their attached January report on Chinese competition law, T&D Monthly Antitrust Report of January 2016. The main contents of the January report are:
(1) NDRC: Guideline on Leniency Policies in Horizontal Monopoly Agreement Cases has Begun to Seek for Opinions; (2) SAIC Held a Forum to Seek for Opinions and Comments on the Guideline on Prohibiting the Behavior of Abusing Intellectual Property Rights to Restrict or Eliminate Competition (the Sixth Draft); (3) MOFCOM Year-End Review: Positively Promoting Anti-monopoly Enforcement and Protecting Fair Competition of the Market; (4) SAIC: Anti-monopoly Law Enforcement Treats All Market Players the Same, etc. . . .
On February 5, 2016, T&D sent us the latest attached draft of Guideline on Undertakings’ Commitments in Anti-Monopoly Cases on February 3rd, 2015, Guideline on Undertakings’ Commitments in Anti-Monopoly Cases-EN-T&D.
US LISTED CHINESE COMPANIES MOVING BACK TO CHINA TO RAISE MONEY
On February 29, 2016, it was reported that many U.S.-listed Chinese companies are leaving the United States and moving back to China as the easing of Chinese securities regulations has renewed the possibility of finding stronger valuations domestically.
Although there has been market volatility in China, US too has had volatility. Apparently, there is a perception that a stronger valuation can be found in Chinese domestic stock markets, where investors have a stronger understanding of the companies and the role they play. In November, the China Securities Regulatory Commission began greenlighting IPO-bound companies and promised to take measures to help reform the country’s system for initial public offerings.
FOREIGN CORRUPT PRACTICES ACT
In February Dorsey& Whitney LLP issued its January February 2016 Anti-Corruption Digest, TIANJIN INVESTMENT COMPANY. The Digest states with regards to China:
Wang Qishan, the Secretary of the Central Commission for Discipline Inspection has given assurances that China’s anti-corruption efforts will continue in 2016. In a recent speech, Mr. Wang stressed that, “the strength of our anti-corruption efforts will not be lessened”.
This sentiment was echoed by the recent sentencing of two former officials:
According to state media, Li Dongsheng, China’s former deputy national police chief, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison for corruption. Reports state that Mr. Li stood accused of taking bribes totally ¥22 million ($3.3 million/£2.3 million) and abusing his power. It is said that Mr. Li will not appeal the verdict.
A former top official in the city of Guangzhou has reportedly admitted to taking ¥111 million ($17 million/£11.5 million) in bribes between 2000 and 2014. Wan Qingliang’s alleged corruption is said to have included taking bribes of more than ¥50 million ($7.6 million/£5.2 million) from a company that he had helped to win a government development project.
In a written statement the Nanning Intermediate People’s Court said that Mr. Wan raised no objection to the charge of corruption and that he showed remorse during the trial. It is said that Mr. Wan told the court that, “I have hurt the Party, the people and my family and I hope that the court can give me another chance.”
Recently, Dorsey& Whitney LLP issued its attached February 2016 Anti-Corruption Digest, Anti_Corruption_Digest_Feb2016. The Digest states with regards to China:
China’s army has not been immune from President Xi Jinping’s anti-corruption drive and has seen a number of its officers investigated, including two former vice chairmen of the Central Military Commission.
To continue this drive, it has been reported that the military’s anti-corruption discipline inspection committee has established a hotline as a means for reports to be made regarding allegations of corruption in the People’s Liberation Army. It is said that the hotline will “fully utilize supervision by the masses” and complaints will be addressed in a “timely and earnest” fashion.
On March 8, 2016 Jacob Sheiner filed the attached class action securities complaint, TIANJIN INVESTMENT COMPANY, against a number of individuals and also Tianjin Tianhai Investment Co., Ltd. as well as GCL Acquisition, Inc.