Hague Service Convention Out of Reach for Foreign Parties Who Select California Arbitration Forum and Agree to Informal Notice of Suit Methods

Written by Tiana A. Bey and Theresa B. Bowman

Last week, in Rockefeller Technology Investments (Asia) VII v. Changzhou Sinotype Technology Co., Case No. S249923 (Cal. April 2, 2020), the California Supreme Court held that the Hague Service Convention does not apply to the state’s arbitration enforcement proceedings where transnational parties agree to informal notice of suit methods.  The Court concluded that when these parties agree to submit to California arbitration, the California Arbitration Act ultimately governs service of process.  And because the Act allows parties to enter into informal service arrangements, formal service of process procedures – including the Convention’s service mechanisms – are waived.  This result should prompt foreign parties to re-evaluate the pros and cons of submitting to arbitration in California and agreeing to include informal notice of suit provisions in their underlying contracts.

The outcome presents a notable exception to the norms that foreign entities typically rely on in the Hague Convention.  Generally, the Convention requires parties to serve notice of suit through each signatory’s Central Authority, which in turn carries out service consistent with their respective country’s domestic laws.  As the U.S. Supreme Court held in Water Splash v. Menon, 137 S. Ct. 1504 (2017), additional methods of service are also allowable if the receiving country does not expressly prohibit it and if the domestic law of the forum country provides for it.  One benefit of the Convention is that it protects international litigants from being hauled into a foreign court based on application of inconsistent and unfamiliar rules for providing them with notice of suit.

Continue reading “Hague Service Convention Out of Reach for Foreign Parties Who Select California Arbitration Forum and Agree to Informal Notice of Suit Methods”

China – U.S. Phase 1 Deal: Is It Enough?

USA and Chinese flags on mountain signpost.
Photo credit: iStock.com/Darwel

By Susan Kohn Ross

China and the U.S. signed the so-called Phase 1 deal on January 15, 2020. Much has been said in the general press and elsewhere about this deal. What does it really accomplish for international traders?

First, there is nothing said about the tariffs imposed by either the U.S. or China. White House briefers did say the tariff on the goods on List 4A would be reduced soon, and a pre-publication version of the proposed Federal Register notice was published on January 16, 2020. It can be found here. Those tariffs will be reduced from 15% to 7.5% on February 14, 2020. When it came to the tariffs China has imposed, no one has any idea what specifically will happen, only that given the commitments made by China, those tariffs will have to come down. Exactly when is anyone’s guess. Continue reading “China – U.S. Phase 1 Deal: Is It Enough?”

Yikes to the Year End!

USA and China trade war. US of America and chinese flags crashed containers on sky at sunset background. 3d illustration
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By Susan Kohn Ross

Clearly, there is more going on these days in Washington, D.C. than just the impeachment hearings, and activities this week made that point clear. In the span of only a few days, we saw progress on two key issues – the China 301 tariffs and the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).

First, we saw an indefinite suspension of the List 4B 15% China tariff which was to take effect on December 15, 2019. The President tweeted about it, saying “The 25% Tariffs will remain as is with 7 1/2% put on much of the remainder…” (see here for the full text) and USTR issued a press release (see here). Regretfully, neither is very clear, beyond stating the tariff on goods on List 4B is suspended indefinitely. CBP confirmed the suspension later in the day at CSMS 40984510. There was also a Fact Sheet issued by USTR (see here), but it, too, failed to clear up the tariff impact. Continue reading “Yikes to the Year End!”

Tariff Turmoil Gets Hotter!

birds eye view photo of freight containers
Photo by Tom Fisk on Pexels.com

By Susan Kohn Ross

As has been widely reported, on Friday, first President Trump announced and then USTR Lighthizer confirmed the 301 tariffs on goods out of China will increase. Specifically, the tariffs on the goods on Lists 1, 2 and 3 will rise from 25% to 30% starting October 1, 2019, while the tariffs on the List 4 products will start at 15% on September 1, 2019 or December 15, 2019, rather than the original 10%, depending on whether your product is on List 4A or List 4B. USTR also acknowledged there will be a notice and comment period provided in the Federal Register notice to follow. While no doubt many American traders hope the possibility exists to remove products from any of the lists, that seems highly unlikely. While this upheaval continues, companies should also keep in mind the ability to seek exclusions for goods on List 3 expires on September 30, 2019. The exclusion process for goods on List 4 has still not been published. Continue reading “Tariff Turmoil Gets Hotter!”

China Tariff Update: List 4, Next Steps

Truck in port
Photo credit: iStock.com/nightman1965

By Susan Kohn Ross

While the Federal Register notice containing all the relevant details has yet to be published, today, the U.S. Trade Representative published an announcement confirming that certain unidentified products were removed from List 4 for health, safety, national security and similar reasons, and those remaining would be rolled out on two different lists with two different effective dates. List 4A will be effective September 1, 2019 and can be found here. List 4B can be found here, and will be effective on December 15, 2019. USTR notes the products on List 4B include “cell phones, laptop computers, video game consoles, certain toys, computer monitors, and certain items of footwear and clothing.” Given the contents of List 4B, one is left to wonder whether USTR was trying to avoid making Christmas too grim for American consumers! Continue reading “China Tariff Update: List 4, Next Steps”

The Trade War Wages On

Economic trade war between USA and China
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By Susan Kohn Ross

As has been repeatedly mentioned in the general press, President Trump tweeted on August 1st that the U.S. “will start, on September 1st, putting a small additional Tariff of 10% on the remaining 300 Billion Dollars of goods and products coming from China into our Country.” There are lots of questions about what that short message actually means, and right now, no answers. So far, there is no official notice from the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) for publication in the Federal Register. There is nothing new posted on the USTR website. We know the President said he picked September 1st because there are goods on the water, but we do not know whether September 1st is the date by which the goods must arrive in the U.S., or must be exported from China. Will the products on List 4 change from those originally published? Whatever goods are on the final version of List 4, will at least some of the products be listed to the 10-digit level? Right now, all products are listed to the eight-digit level, but the descriptions assigned to those classifications, in some cases, do not include all the products encompassed by the very different products classified under that eight-digit number. This is typically the case due to either the type of good or its constituent material. Continue reading “The Trade War Wages On”

China 301 List 3 Exclusion Process Announced

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By Susan Kohn Ross

 

In the June 20, 2019 pre-publication edition of the Federal Register, the U.S. Trade Representative announced the long awaited process for seeking exclusions for goods on List 3, the one which recently went from 10% to 25%. While the exclusion process itself generally mirrors the process applied to those goods on Lists 1 and 2, there are a few differences, but let’s start at the beginning.

Any exclusion request for List 3 goods must be filed between June 30 and September 30, 2019. The request must be filed through the portal: http://exclusions.ustr.gov (active beginning June 30, 2019). One new wrinkle is parties must register in the portal before filing. Continue reading “China 301 List 3 Exclusion Process Announced”

Trade Trouble – East, West and South, but North is Settled for Now!

Container Ship Enroute to Port
Photo credit: iStock.com/Darwin Brandis

By Susan Kohn Ross

Agriculture Secretary Perdue recently stated the trade damages to be addressed in a new round of farm aid is $15 to $20 billion! The general press is replete with stories about how, as these tariffs continue, companies are making sourcing changes that will be hard to reverse. So, what is the latest news?

First, there is trade with China. It seems clear that unless there is a breakthrough at the G-20 meeting in Tokyo, or shortly thereafter, the anecdotal headaches we hear about will get far more costly. The American Chamber of Commerce in China and the American Chamber of Commerce in Shanghai conducted a survey before List 3 was announced. Even at that point, American companies operating in China acknowledged higher production costs, decreased demand for products, reduced staffing, reduced profits, increased inspections at importation, increased bureaucratic oversight and regulatory scrutiny, slower approval of licenses and permits, higher product rejections, and increasing plans to relocate (but not back to the U.S.). Continue reading “Trade Trouble – East, West and South, but North is Settled for Now!”

Tariff Turmoil

USA and Chinese flags on mountain signpost.
Photo credit: iStock.com/Darwel

By Susan Kohn Ross

The last few days have seen some startling developments regarding trade between the U.S. and China. Perhaps none of this is remarkable given the current climate, but trying to keep track has caused untold whiplash!

On May 10, we learned from USTR the timing of the 25% tariff on List 3 was changed. It is now applicable to goods entered on or after June 1, 2019. Given that CBP originally programmed its computer and the 25% on List 3 goods applied so long as the arrival date was May 10 or later, if you get caught in the payment timing cycle of having to pay the 25%, you will want to coordinate with your customs broker to file a Post Summary Correction and seek a 15% refund. Continue reading “Tariff Turmoil”

The Roller Coaster Ride Continues

Tariff, Taxes on Imported Goods
Photo credit: iStock.com/Olivier Le Moal

By Susan Kohn Ross

In yesterday’s “Talking Trade” Periscope broadcast, we made the point that the wording in the China 301 tariff notice left confusion which needed to be cleared up, and now, it has been. As is common knowledge, the 10% tariff on the goods on List 3 or Traunch 3 went up to 25% at 12:01 a.m. on May 10, 2019. How this applies is, however, a bit more nuanced. The Federal Register Notice reads: “Effective with respect to goods (i) entered for consumption, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on May 10, 2019, and (ii) exported to the United States on or after May 10, 2019…” Continue reading “The Roller Coaster Ride Continues”