Using our business and legal insight, and access to policymakers in capitals around the world, the Global Trade group helps multinational companies identify promising foreign markets and develop entry strategies that overcome market obstacles.

We work closely with bilateral, regional and multilateral institutions, including the World Trade Organization (WTO), the World Customs Organization (WCO), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum (APEC) and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to:

  • Address unfair or illegal trade barriers
  • Build international business coalitions
  • Promote business-friendly trade practices

Clients gain access to key global regulators and business leaders thanks to the senior policy positions our lawyers and professionals have held in the US, the European Union and throughout Asia. Members of our team have served in:

  • The White House
  • United States Congress, staff directors
  • European Commission
  • European Parliament
  • US Departments of Commerce, Transportation, Treasury and State Office of the United States Trade Representative

Using such experience we can identify and assess venture partners and investment opportunities in many countries and steer clients through complex negotiations with foreign governments to take advantage of new opportunities.

Multilateral and Bilateral Trade Agreements

We advise business and government clients on their rights under the WTO agreements and other multilateral and bilateral trade agreements concluded by the United States, the European Union and other countries, including:

  • For the United States: Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs); Friendship, Commerce and Navigation Treaties; and FTAs, including the NAFTA and the Dominican Republic-Central American Free Trade Agreement.
  • For the European Union: Partnership and Cooperation Agreements (EPAs); Europe Agreements; Euromed Agreements; the Stability and Partnership Pact; and other FTAs concluded by the EU.

As new trade agreements are implemented, we keep on top of the process and develop effective negotiating positions and strategies. Often these agreements affect business operations and structures, and our team shows clients what changes are necessary. Currently, we are focusing on EPAs with the African, Caribbean and Pacific countries, the agreements that the European Union will negotiate with ASEAN, Korea, India and Central America, and the long-standing negotiations with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and Mercosur.

Preferential Trade Regimes

The United States and the European Union have implemented unilateral preferential trade regimes, the best known of which is the Generalized System of Preferences. Clients in the manufacturing, telecommunications, agricultural and financial services sectors rely on Mayer Brown for guidance on using these regimes alone or in combination with other bilateral and multilateral trade regimes.

That includes taking advantage of such market access tools as the EU Trade Barrier Regulation and Section 301 of the Tariff Act in the United States. Both can be used to pry open foreign markets closed by non-tariff barriers to trade, along with other market access mechanisms provided for in bilateral trade agreements or diplomatic contacts by the European Commission and the US government.

US-China Trade Developments


  • Designing a government affairs strategy and communications plan for a major United States media company as part of its $200 million joint venture with a Chinese computer maker.
  • Helping a large tool manufacturer address a regulation by the Japanese National Police Agency that would have prevented the sale or distribution of certain power tools in that country by classifying them as dangerous weapons.
  • Obtaining a Presidential decree in Brazil that eliminated discriminatory tax treatment that threatened the operations of a US exporter of agricultural products.
  • Structuring a cooperative joint venture with two Chinese partners, helping an international music company become the first Western music enterprise to enter the Chinese entertainment sector.
  • Leading, at the request of the European Commission, the development and drafting of the official REACH guidance documents on data sharing and consortia forming that will provide imported chemicals, alone or in formulated and manufactured products, with EU market access.
  • Advising several multinational companies and trade associations on commitments to eliminate market access barriers involving financial services and intellectual property rights as key aspects of Russia’s accession to the WTO.
  • Developing an innovative approach to remedy patent protection problems that research pharmaceutical companies face in Saudi Arabia.
  • Obtaining commitments that gave a financial services organization open market access to the Ukrainian electronic payments market as part of Ukraine’s pending accession to the WTO.
  • Securing a major research pharmaceutical company’s exclusive market rights for its product by analyzing bilateral agreement obligations and WTO commitments, and by working with United States and Slovenian Government officials.