ZTE may need to change management and board in order to access US suppliers.

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According to a May 19th South China Morning Post article – Larry Kudlow, White House economic advisor suggested any change in ZTE’s Denial Order may require a change of management, board and “everything”.

Part of the US decision to re-evaulate the Denial Order against ZTE (effectively cutting ZTE off from their US suppliers) was a result of President Trump asking the Commerce Department to get ZTE back into business.

ZTE report to the HKEX on the impact of the US denial order: “major operating activities of the Company have ceased”


According to a May 10, 2018 filing with the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong (HKEX) online here, ZTE announced the April 2018 BIS Denial Order has resulted in “major operating activities of the Company have ceased”.

Earlier in April 2018, the Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) of the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) issued a Denial Order against ZTE for failing to comply with the terms of a plea deal reached in 2017 after ZTE plead guilty for illegally shipping US equipment to Iran and North Korea. One often cited plea deal was for ZTE to reprimand responsible employees and deny bonuses to those employees. However, BIS determined ZTE did pay full bonuses and kept 35 employees who violated the law.

A “Denial Order” bans American companies from exporting parts to ZTE. In the instant case, ZTE is faced with a 7-year Denial Order and can no longer receive Qualcomm Snapdragon chips (84% of all ZTE phones use Snapdragon chips) and Google Android updates.

The HKEX release further states that, “the Company maintains sufficient cash”, and ends with ZTE indicating they would seek a modification or reversal of the Denial Order and update investors as soon as possible.

It will be interesting to see the second quarter ZTE results if the Denial Order is not reversed – ZTE’s shipped 75% of their smartphone shipments to the US in the first quarter of 2018.

US Department of Commerce initiates antidumping and countervailing investigations on certain quartz surface products from China.

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On May 7, 2018, the Department of Commerce (Commerce) initiated its less-than-fair-value and countervailing duty investigations on “Certain Quartz Surface Products from the People’s Republic of China (China)” (Initiation Notices). These investigations have been assigned the following case numbers: A-570-084 and C-570-085.

Scope Description:

According to the Commerce Department, the scope of the certain quartz surface products from China are covers:


The merchandise covered by the investigation is certain quartz surface products. 1
Quartz surface products consist of slabs and other surfaces created from a mixture of materials that includes predominately silica (e.g., quartz, quartz powder, cristobalite) as well as a resin binder (e.g., an unsaturated polyester). The incorporation of other materials, including, but not limited to, pigments, cement, or other additives does not remove the merchandise from the scope of the investigation. However, the scope of the investigation only includes products where the silica content is greater than any other single material, by actual weight. Quartz surface products are typically sold as rectangular slabs with a total surface area of approximately 45 to 60 square feet and a nominal thickness of one, two, or three centimeters. However, the scope of this investigation includes surface products of all other sizes, thicknesses, and shapes. In addition to slabs, the scope of this investigation includes, but is not limited to, other surfaces such as countertops, backsplashes, vanity tops, bar tops, work tops, tabletops, flooring, wall facing, shower surrounds, fire place surrounds, mantels, and tiles. Certain quartz surface products are covered by the investigation whether polished or unpolished, cut or uncut, fabricated or not fabricated, cured or uncured, edged or not edged, finished or unfinished, thermoformed or not thermoformed, packaged or unpackaged, and regardless of the type of surface finish.

In addition, quartz surface products are covered by the investigation whether or not they are imported attached to, or in conjunction with, non-subject merchandise such as sinks, sink bowls, vanities, cabinets, and furniture. If quartz surface products are imported attached to, or in conjunction with, such non-subject merchandise, only the quartz surface product is covered by the scope.

Subject merchandise includes material matching the above description that has been finished, packaged, or otherwise fabricated in a third country, including by cutting, polishing, curing, edging, thermoforming, attaching to, or packaging with another product, or any other finishing, packaging, or fabrication that would not otherwise remove the merchandise from the scope of the investigation if performed in the country of manufacture of the quartz surface products.

Not covered by the scope of the investigation:


The scope of the investigation does not cover quarried stone surface products, such as granite, marble, soapstone, or quartzite. Specifically excluded from the scope of the investigation are crushed glass surface products. Crushed glass surface products are surface products in which the crushed glass content is greater than any other single material, by actual weight.

Applicable HTSUS numbers subject to the scope of the investigation:


The products subject to the scope are currently classified in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS) under the following subheading: 6810.99.0010. Subject merchandise may also enter under subheadings 6810.11.0010, 6810.11.0070, 6810.19.1200, 6810.19.1400, 6810.19.5000, 6810.91.0000, 6810.99.0080, 6815.99.4070, 2506.10.0010, 2506.10.0050, 2506.20.0010, 2506.20.0080. The HTSUS subheadings set forth above are provided for convenience and U.S. Customs purposes only. The written description of the scope is dispositive.

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1
Quartz surface products may also generally be referred to as engineered stone or quartz, artificial stone or quartz, agglomerated stone or quartz, synthetic stone or quartz, processed stone or quartz, manufactured stone or quartz, and Bretonstone®.

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If you have any questions about how the AD/CVD investigation will impact your quartz import business, or if you would like to discuss other options, contact the experienced antdiumping and countervailing duty attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

CBP seizes $3 million in counterfeit jewelry and watches.

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In the second major seizure for the month of May, U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) Officers in Philadelphia seized 64 pieces on April 3rd from a shipment coming from Hong Kong. If authentic, this seizure and a prior March seizure result in a combined manufacturer suggested retail price (MSRP) of over $3 million.

The packaging indicated the shipment contained bangles and arrived from Hong Kong. With the large amounts of shipments from overseas, CBP is unable to inspect every package – instead will focus on inspecting shipments sent from places known to counterfeit items. Upon inspection of these bangles, CBP also found the counterfeit jewelry would be in packaging of poor quality.

This time, CBP officers found the package containing bracelets, earrings and rings bearing the Cartier and Tiffany brands.

If you or anyone you know has had their shipment seized by Customs, contact experienced Customs seizure attorney David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com. Customs will seek civil and sometimes criminal penalties for importers that violate intellectual property rights – call today.

ZTE and Huawei banned for sale to US military personnel.

black huawei android smartphone

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In addition to my blog post from April 19, 2018, ZTE has once again made news according to a Washington Post May 2nd article. In the Washington Post article, the Pentagon instructed the military from selling ZTE and Huawei branded phones from U.S. military bases.

The Defense Department cited security risks posed by the devices made by Huawei and ZTE writing:

“Huawei and ZTE devices may pose an unacceptable risk to Department’s personnel, information and mission” and that “it was not prudent for the Department’s exchanges to continue selling them to DoD personnel.”

Besides phones, modems and other wireless products manufactured by ZTE and Huawei are also included in the ban.

Under the direction of the President, the move by the Pentagon was an attempt to limit the use of wireless equipment manufactured in China that may contain technology used to spy or hack US citizens and military personnel.

CBP seizes more than $1.5 million in counterfeit hangbags and belts.

LV

Credit: CBP.gov. CBP officers at the Port of Tacoma
seized merchandise that violated the
trademark rights of Chanel, Luis Vuitton,
Calvin Klein, Gucci and Fendi.

According to a U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) release, the Port of Tacoma seized counterfeit handbags and belts, among other high-end items totaling more than $1.5 million.

Without going into details, the press release indicated the counterfeit items were “of poor quality and violated the trademark rights of Chanel, Luis Vuitton, Calvin Klein, Gucci and Fendi”.

CBP enforces over 500 U.S. trade laws and regulations (such as trademark violations of the handbags) for the over 47 federal agencies with a goal of “protecting the U.S. economy and its consumers from harmful imports and unfair trade practices”.

If you or someone you know had their imports seized due to CBP’s belief the items are counterfeit, contact experienced trade and customs attorney David Hsu, 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com .

Trump delays decision on steel and aluminium tariffs.

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A little background – back in March 2018, President Trump imposed worldwide tariffs of 25% on imports of steel and 10% on aluminum. Countries such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union were temporarily exempted from these tariffs.

Later in April, the US gave South Korea a permanent exemption from these tariffs in exchange for a 30% reduction of SK exports of steel to the United States.

One country not exempted was China, and as posted previously on this blog, China retaliated with their own duties on many US imports to the middle kingdom.

Fast forward to May 1st and the current administration has extended negotiations on steel and aluminium tariffs for an additional 30 days with Canada, Mexico and the European Union. Tentative agreements have been reached with Argentina, Brazil and Australia.

Check back here for more details as they become available.

The Office of the United States Trade Representatives releases special 301 report on Intellectual Property Rights.

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On April 27th, The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) today released their 2018 Special 301 report listing trading partners that do not “adequately or effectively protect and enforce intellectual property (IP) rights or otherwise deny market access to U.S. innovators and creators that rely on protection of their IP rights”.

The Report singles out several US trading partners to address IP-related issues and places certain countries on a “Watch List” and “Priority Watch List”.

As you may be aware, Section 301 of the U.S. Trade Act of 1974 authorizes the President to take all appropriate action, including retaliation, to obtain the removal of any act, policy, or practice of a foreign government that violates an international trade agreement or is unjustified, unreasonable, or discriminatory, and that burdens or restricts US commerce. Section 301 actions are unique in that they do not require authorization from the World Trade Organization (TWO) to take enforcement action.

The US Government estimates the Intellectual Property industries directly and indirectly support 30% of all employment in the United States (or about 45.5 million American jobs).

Some highlights of the 2018 Special 301 Report include:

1. The following 12 countries are on the “Priority Watch List” – Algeria, Argentina, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, India, Indonesia, Kuwait, Russia, Ukraine, and Venezuela.

2. China is included on the “Priority Watch List” for the 14th year in a row and claims China’s technology transfer practices, trade secret theft, counterfeit manufacturing etc.

3. India is also included on the “Priority Watch List” for “longstanding challenges in its IP framework and lack of sufficient measurable improvements, particularly with respect to patents, copyrights, trade secrets, and enforcement, as well as for new issues that have negatively affected U.S. right holders over the past year.”

4. Canada was surprisingly indicated on the “Priority Watch List” instead of their usual “Watch List” status. The USTR cited Customs inability to inspect or detained counterfeit or pirated good shipped through Canada and IP protections for pharmaceuticals among others.

The full Spectial 301 Report can be read here.

If you have any questions about this report, feel free to contact David Hsu at 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Harley Davidson claims new factory in Thailand a result of US withdrawal from the TPP.

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Credit: Pexels (free stock photos)

According to a Bloomberg article published April 24, 2018, Harley Davidson motorcycle maker opted in on building a factory in Thailand after the Trump administration withdrew US participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). In the first publicized impact of the US withdrawal from TPP, Harley Davidson CEO Matt Levatich indicated the factory in Thailand was “necessary to access a very important market”.

Additionally, the impact of leaving the TPP was also felt locally for the 260 US jobs lost due to the closure of the Missouri plant amind slumping sales in the US.

As a counterpoint to the article – the article does specify that Harley Davidson has seen sales decreasing in 13 of the last 14 quarters. If accurate, the sales declines started long before the TPP was even discussed and long before the US withdrew from participating in the TPP.

It is further important to note that correlation does not mean causality as Harley Davidson sales in the Asia Pacific region were 32,258 in 2015; 32,889 in 2016 and decreased to 30,348 in 2017. Sales decline of Harley Davidson in Asia occurred well before the US withdrew from the TPP.

I believe the US withdraw from participation in the TPP was used by the CEO to justify two unpopular moves – the building of a factory in Thailand and a closure of the Missouri plant.

Colorado woman fined $500 by Customs for not declaring an apple.

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As has widely been reported, Colorado resident Crystal Tadlock was catching a connecting flight in Minnesota back to Colorado from a trip to France when CBP in Minnesota stopped her and fined her for not declaring an apple. At the time, CBP indicated they would fine her $500 for failure to declare the apple. Crystal claims she packed the apple (served as part of the in-flight meal service) in her carry-on and forgot about it until she was clearing Customs.

Customs has discretion to fine up to a $1,000 penalty for first time offenses of bringing in prohibited agricultural products and Crystal will likely receive a notice in her mail in about 30 days. Not sure if Crystal is a frequent traveler, however the other consequence of this seizure will be the loss of Global Entry Status.

If you or someone you know has had a Customs seizure and you have received a penalty notice from Customs – call experienced Customs attorney David Hsu for immediate help – 832.896.6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.