Trump proposes further tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods.

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Official Portrait of Ambassador Robert E. Lighthizer

US Trade Representative (USTR), Robert Lighthizer released a statement supporting Trump’s request for the USTR to identify $200 billion worth of Chinese goods for an additional 10% in tariffs.

This follows Trump’s announcement last Friday of a 25% tariff on $50 billion in Chinese goods to counter what Trump claims to be “China’s theft of intellectual property and technology and its other unfair trade practices”.

Lighthizer’s full statement reads:

“I support the President’s action. The initial tariffs that the President asked us to put in place were proportionate and responsive to forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft by the Chinese. It is very unfortunate that instead of eliminating these unfair trading practices China said that it intends to impose unjustified tariffs targeting U.S. workers, farmers, ranchers, and businesses. At the President’s direction, USTR is preparing the proposed tariffs to offset China’s action.”

Call David Hsu if you have any questions on how US and Chinese tariffs may impact your business, 832-896-6288 or mail at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

White House imposes tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese goods.

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As expected, the administration announced Section 301 tariffs on about $50 billion worth of Chinese goods with two purposes: (1) balance the trade relationship between the US and China and (2) prevent the transfer of American technology and intellectual property to China when US businesses operate in China.

After the announcement this morning, China responded by issuing their own tariffs on 659 types of goods from the US starting on July 6th. When announcing the initial $50 billion in tariffs, Trump also indicated any Chinese retalation will also be met with additional US tariffs.

Cliff Notes version of today’s developments:

  1. 2/3rds of the US duties on 1,102 types of goods begins July 6th.
  2. The goods announced on Friday will apply later after a review period ends.
  3. The US imposed these tariffs to limit the transfer of technology to China.
  4. Some lawmakers say these tariffs will only impact the average American due to higher prices.
  5. The first list of goods subject to tariffs can be found here.
  6. The second list of goods subject to tariffs can be found here:

Whether or not these announcements are posturing on both sides, check back for more details.

If you have any questions on how these new tariffs will impact your import or export business, contact experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at: dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

 

ZTE facing $1.7 billion penalty?

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Reuters reports the Trump administration may seek a penalty up to $1.7 billion from ZTE. In addition to the hefty fine, the U.S. Department of Commerce is also seeking unrestricted access to sites to verify US components are being used as claimed by ZTE.

As previously mentioned on this blog, ZTE is banned from purchasing from US hardware and software suppliers for 7 years due to violating U.S. export controls. This ban would severely limit ZTE’s ability to make phones as US companies provide 25-30% of the components in ZTE equipment, with ZTE paying over $2.3 billion to US suppliers.

As the penalty can change anytime – check back for more updates.

 

 

U.S. Commerce Secretary in China for trade talks.

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According to an Associated Press article from June 1st, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross arrived in Beijing on Saturday for talks on China’s promise to buy more American goods.

The talks are about China’s May 19th announcement to narrow the trade surplus with the US, which reached a record high of $375 billion USD last year. China previously indicated they would increase purchase of farm goods, energy and other goods and services.

Additionally, the US may not get the commitment it seeks in reducing the trade deficit as China’s “Made in China 2025” plan seeks to establish China as an industry leader in high tech industries such as robotics, computer chips and electric vehicles.

A resolution may not occur with just one meeting as Trump has threatened tariffs on $100 billion of Chinese goods and China threatening retaliatory tariffs on $50 billion of US goods.

Check back for the latest news of the results of the Secretary Ross meeting.

If you have any questions about current antidumping or countervailing duty actions on goods from China – feel free to call experienced trade attorney, David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Importer pays $500,000 fine for false claims to evade customs duties.

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Earlier in February of this year, the Department of Justice Office of Public Affairs released news of a settlement by Home Furnishings Resource Group Inc. agreement to pay $500,000 in settlement for False Claims Act allegations.

Background:
Home Furnishings Resource Group Inc. (HFRG) agreed to pay the $500,000 after they were alleged to have violated the False Claims Act on customs declarations in order to avoid paying antidumping duties (ADD) on “wooden bedroom furniture” imported from China.

Customs alleged the Hermitage, Tennessee company did not pay antidumping duties from 2009 to 2014 by misclassifying furniture as “non-bedroom” on import documents. By misclassifying as “non-bedroom”, HFRG did not pay the required ADD on wooden-bedroom furniture.

Why do we have antidumping duties?
Antidumping duties protect American manufacturers against foreign companies who make the same goods at a price below cost and “dump” the products into the US. The Department of Commerce (Commerce) is responsible for assessing whether goods are dumped into the US – and if so, assign an ADD amount to those imported goods.

The addition of a duty for these goods is to protect U.S. businesses and “level the playing field for domestic companies”.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection (CBP) then collects these duties – wooden bedroom furntiure’s ADD rate was 216% and non-bedroom furniture was not subject to any duty.

How was HFRG caught?
University Loft Company, a competitor of HFRG, used the whistleblower provision of the False Claims Act, permitting private parties to sue on behalf of the US against those who falsely claim federal funds or, as in this case, who avoid paying funds owed to the government. The act also allows the whistleblower to receive a share of any funds recovered. University Loft Company will receive approximately $75,000.

Do you know anyone violating the False Claims Act?
If you believe an importer has been misclassifying goods to avoid payment of duties, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

Section 301 Duties to be announced by June 15, 2018.

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According to a Whitehouse.gov statement released today (May 29, 2018) titled: “Statement on Steps to Protect Domestic Technology and Intellectual Property from China’s Discriminatory and Burdensome Trade Practices” found here, the US will impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion of goods imported from China “containing industrially significant technology, including those related to the “Made in China 2025” program.  The final list of covered imports will be announced by June 15, 2018, and tariffs will be imposed on those imports shortly thereafter.

What is the “Made in China 2025” Program?
Made in China 2025 (Chinese: 中国制造2025) is a plan issued by Chinese Premier Li Keqiang in May 2015 to make China more self-sufficient and a manufacturing superpower in high-tech industries. An English version of the initiative can be found here.

What is Section 301?
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 U.S. commerce.

Section 301 is worded in general terms and allows for broad discretion from the President.

What are other points mentioned in the press release?

  1. There will also be other restrictions and increased export controls for Chinese persons and entities and will be announced on June 30, 2018.
  2. The US will continue litigating in the WTO for violations of intellectual property against China related to licensing of intellectual property. The US filed the case with the TWO on March 23, 2018.

Check back here on June 15, 2018 for the final list and tariff amounts to be imposed on the goods from China. If you have any questions how these Section 301 tariffs will impact your business, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

U.S. Department of Commerce Finds Dumping of Imports of Fine Denier Polyester Staple Fiber from China, India, Korea, and Taiwan.

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Image of denier polyester staple fiber courtesy of the Tianjin Glory Tang Technology Co., Ltd.

According to a U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) news release – the Commerce Department announced the affirmative final determinations in the antidumping duty (AD) investigations of imports of fine denier polyester staple fiber from China, India, Korea, and Taiwan.

Commerce determined that exporters from China, India, Korea, and Taiwan sold fine denier polyester staple fiber in the United States at less than fair value. The dumping margins determined by Commerce are as follows:

China – 65.17 – 103.06 percent
India – 21.43 percent
Korea – 0 – 45.23 percent
Taiwan – 0 – 48.86 percent

With today’s decision, Commerce will instruct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to collect cash deposits from importers of fine denier polyester staple fiber from China, India, Korea, and Taiwan based on the final rates, as appropriate.

I find it ironic, one of the petitioners is Nan Ya Plastics Corporation, America – a company that previously imported fine denier polyester staple fiber.

One interested statistic in the Commerce release – the Trump administration has 114 new antidumping and countervailing duty investigations since the beginning of the administration compared to the the 64 initiations in the last 489 days of the previous administration.

If you are an importer of fine denier polyster staple fiber from China, India, Korea or Taiwan and have questions how this decision may impact your business, contact David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or by email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

ZTE estimated to lose $3.1 billion due to US sanctions (Bloomberg).

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Bloomberg news reported that China’s ZTE Corp is estimated to lose at least 20 billion yuan ($3.1 billion) due to Washington’s ban on U.S. firms hardware and software. The Bloomberg article cited unnamed sources.

Bloomberg also reports that ZTE is hopeful that the United States and China will be able to reach a deal that would remove the ban and has a plan in place allowing the telecoms firm to “swing idled factories into action within hours” of the ban being officially lifted.

Commerce Department issues affirmative final circumvention ruling on steel from Vietnam.

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According to a May 21, 2018 news release on the U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) website – the Commerce department announced an affirmative ruling on corrosion-resistant steel (CORE) and certain cold-rolled steel flat products (cold-rolled steel) imported from the Socialist Republic of Vietnam (Vietnam) produced from substrate originating in the People’s Republic of China (China) are circumventing the antidumping and countervailing duty (AD/CVD) orders on CORE and cold-rolled steel imported from China.

In order to avoid payment of duties, some manufacturers ship goods to another country not subject to duties, and from there send the goods to the United States. This practice is known as “transshipment” and we will likely hear more reports of transshipment as manufacturers look for ways to avoid the steel and aluminum duties.

While the steel here is produced in Vietnam, Commerce found circumvention of AD/CVD orders did occur because the subject merchandise is the same class or kind of merchandise subject to existing orders and completed or assembled in a third party country prior to importation to the US.

Commerce will notify Customs and Border Protection (CBP) to continue collecting cash deposits on imports of CORE and cold-rolled steel produced in Vietnam using Chinese-origin materials at an AD rate of 199.43 percent and CVD rate of 39.05 percent.

CBP will also collect AD and CVD cash deposits on imports of cold-rolled steel produced in Vietnam using Chinese-origin substrate at rates of 199.76 percent and 256.44 percent, respectively.

If you have any questions about this or any other AD/CVD order, call experienced antidumping attorney David Hsu at 832-896-6288 or email at dhsu@givensjohnston.com.

China will cut import duty on passenger cars from the US.

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According to a May 22nd Bloomberg article, China will cut import duty on passenger cars from the US. Here are the highlights from the article:

1. China will reduce the import duty on passenger cars from 25% to 10% or 15%
2. Duty on car parts will be reduced to 6%
3. China sold 28.9 million automobiles last year, 4.2% of those sales were imported cars
4. China imported $51 billion in vehicles in 2017, $13.5 billion from North America.
5. Tesla in talks with Shanghai government to open a factory. Tesla owner wants factory to be fully owned instead of a joint venture with a Chinese company.
6. China is working on changing regulations to permit foreign automobile makers to own more than 50% of joint ventures.

I believe these changes are more symbolic and reflect each country taking steps to improve the trade relationship between each other – the majority of GM and Ford vehicles are already made in China through joint venture partnerships.