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Thread: Trump news today

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    Default Trump news today

    Trump gets win at U.S. Supreme Court in China antitrust case


    The U.S. Supreme Court sided with the Trump administration and against China on Thursday on a disputed aspect of their fraught trade relationship, throwing out a lower court ruling that had allowed two Chinese vitamin C makers to escape $148 million in damages for violating American antitrust law.

    In a case that brought the trade conflict between the world’s two largest economies before the top U.S. court, the justices ruled 9-0 that the lower court gave too much deference to Chinese government filings explaining China’s regulatory policy.

    The justices sent the case back for reconsideration by the New York-based 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which in 2016 threw out the damages won by two American companies that buy vitamin C.

    Writing for the court, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg said that while U.S. courts should give “respectful consideration” to a foreign government’s interpretation of its own law, they are not “bound to accord conclusive effect to the foreign government’s statements.”

    Lawyers for the U.S. and Chinese governments faced off in April before the justices. The Supreme Court took the unusual step of letting China present arguments even though it is not an official party in the case, a privilege typically reserved for the U.S. Justice Department.

    Carter Phillips, China’s lawyer in the case, said the ruling means “we live to fight another day.” When the case returns to the lower court, Phillips said, he would show that what the Chinese companies did was “no more than comply with what was required by Chinese law.”

    The price-fixing case dates back to 2005 when Texas-based Animal Science Products Inc and New Jersey-based The Ranis Co Inc accused Hebei Welcome Pharmaceutical, North China Pharmaceutical Group and other Chinese vitamin C makers of antitrust violations.

    China asked the trial court to dismiss the allegations in part because its laws had forced Chinese companies to comply with government-mandated pricing regimes.

    China and the United States are locked in a simmering trade dispute. President Donald Trump has accused China of unfair trade practices and threatened to impose tariffs on up to $150 billion in Chinese goods over allegations of intellectual property theft. China has warned of retaliation.

    A U.S. Justice Department spokeswoman said the administration is “pleased with the decision.”

    Michael Gottlieb, a lawyer representing the American companies, said his clients’ fight over the price-fixing allegations will continue.

    “The decision will promote free and open markets, while protecting the independence of the U.S. courts,” Gottlieb added.

    Jonathan Jacobson, a lawyer for the Chinese companies, expressed disappointment with the ruling but said that “we are confident of prevailing on remand because Chinese law clearly compelled price fixing of vitamin C during the relevant period, as our own (U.S.) government has made clear.”

    A U.S. federal judge questioned the credibility of the Chinese submissions in the case and, after a 2013 jury trial, awarded the two American companies $147.8 million in damages.

    The 2nd Circuit overturned the judgment in 2016, saying that when a foreign government directly participates in a case American courts are obligated to defer to that country’s characterization of its own laws.

    The Supreme Court itself did not weigh in on the correct interpretation of Chinese law, but Ginsburg said questions remained over “whether Chinese law required the Chinese sellers’ conduct.”


    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-court-china/trump-gets-win-at-u-s-supreme-court-in-china-antitrust-case-idUSKBN1JA21B

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    Default Op-ed: Trump is right. The rest of the G7 are wrong

    Donald Trump got something right. To the horror of the other leaders of the rich world, he defended democracy against its detractors. Predictably, he has been condemned for it.

    His 'crime' was to insist that the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) should have a sunset clause. In other words, it should not remain valid indefinitely, but expire after five years, allowing its members either to renegotiate it or to walk away. To howls of execration from the left’s media, his insistence has torpedoed efforts to update the treaty.

    In Rights of Man, published in 1791, Thomas Paine argued that: “Every age and generation must be as free to act for itself, in all cases, as the ages and generations which preceded it. The vanity and presumption of governing beyond the grave is the most ridiculous and insolent of all tyrannies.” This is widely accepted – in theory if not in practice – as a basic democratic principle.

    Even if the people of the US, Canada and Mexico had explicitly consented to Nafta in 1994, the idea that a decision made then should bind everyone in North America for all time is repulsive.

    So is the notion, championed by the Canadian and Mexican governments, that any slightly modified version of the deal agreed now should bind all future generations.

    But the people of North America did not explicitly consent to Nafta. They were never asked to vote on the deal, and there was little scope for dissent. The huge grassroots resistance in all three nations was ignored. The deal was fixed between political and commercial elites, and granted immortality.

    In seeking to update the treaty, governments in the three countries have candidly sought to thwart the will of the people. Their stated intention was to finish the job before Mexico’s presidential election in July. The leading candidate, Andrés Lopez Obrador, has expressed hostility to Nafta, so it had to be done before the people cast their vote. They might wonder why so many have lost faith in democracy.

    Nafta provides a perfect illustration of why all trade treaties should contain a sunset clause.

    Provisions that made sense to the negotiators in the early 1990s make no sense to anyone today, except fossil fuel companies and greedy lawyers. The most obvious example is the way its rules for investor-state dispute settlement have been interpreted. These clauses (chapter 11 of the treaty) were supposed to prevent states from unfairly expropriating the assets of foreign companies. But they have spawned a new industry, in which aggressive lawyers discover ever more lucrative means of overriding democracy.

    The rules grant opaque panels of corporate lawyers, meeting behind closed doors, supreme authority over the courts and parliaments of its member states. A BuzzFeed investigation revealed they had been used to halt criminal cases, overturn penalties incurred by convicted fraudsters, allow companies to get away with trashing rainforests and poisoning villages, and, by placing foreign businesses above the law, intimidate governments into abandoning public protections.

    Under Nafta, these provisions have become, metaphorically and literally, toxic. When Canada tried to ban a fuel additive called MMT as a potentially dangerous neurotoxin, the US manufacturer used Nafta rules to sue the government. Canada was forced to lift the ban, and award the company $13 million in compensation.

    After Mexican authorities refused a US corporation permission to build a hazardous waste facility, the company sued before a Nafta panel, and extracted $16.7 million in compensation. Another US firm, Lone Pine Resources, is suing Canada for $119 million because the government of Quebec has banned fracking under the St Lawrence River.

    As the US justice department woke up to the implications of these rules in the 1990s, it began to panic: one official wrote that it “could severely undermine our system of justice” and grant foreign companies “more rights than Americans have”. Another noted: “No one thought about this when Nafta implementing law passed.”

    Nor did they think about climate breakdown. Nafta obliges Canada not only to export most of its oil and half its natural gas to the US, but also to ensure that the proportion of these fuels produced from tar sands and fracking does not change. As a result, the Canadian government cannot adhere to both its commitments under the Paris agreement on climate change and its commitments under Nafta. While the Paris commitments are voluntary, Nafta’s are compulsory.

    Were such disasters foreseen by the negotiators? If so, the trade agreement was a plot against the people. If not – as the evidence strongly suggests – its unanticipated outcomes are a powerful argument for a sunset clause. The update the US wanted was also a formula for calamity, that future governments might wish to reverse. But this is likely to be difficult, even impossible, without the threat of walking out.

    Those who defend the immortality of trade agreements argue that it provides certainty for business. It’s true that there is a conflict between business confidence and democratic freedom. This conflict is repeatedly resolved in favor of business.

    That the only defender of popular sovereignty in this case is a billionaire illustrates the corruption of 21st-century liberal democracy.

    There was much rejoicing this week over the photo of Trump being harangued by the other G7 leaders.

    But when I saw it, I thought: “The stitch-ups engineered by people like you produce people like him.”

    The machinations of remote elites in forums such as the G7, the IMF and the European Central Bank, and the opaque negotiation of unpopular treaties, destroy both trust and democratic agency, fueling the frustration that demagogues exploit.

    Trump was right to spike the Trans-Pacific Partnership. He is right to demand a sunset clause for Nafta.


    https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/jun/13/trump-nafta-g7-sunset-clause-trade-agreement

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