The 9/11 terrorist attacks, the Enron scandal in the United States, and the Parmalat scandal in Europe, have increased the importance of national security and corporate compliance concerns that involve international trade laws and regulations. Our team ensures that clients conduct their global operations in compliance with applicable laws governing international trade in goods, services, technology and capital. That includes advice on customs, export controls, sanctions and embargoes, Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and national security restrictions on investment.

Our team helps clients integrate immediate- and long-term perspectives on international trade compliance, as we offer guidance on the interplay among laws that regulate international business. This integrated approach reflects our global practice and helps clients assure compliance in multiple jurisdictions.

Customs Compliance

We understand the unique customs concerns of manufacturers, distributors, exporters, importers and their agents across a wide spectrum of raw materials and finished goods, and a full range of customs issues in many countries. Our customs compliance services include:

  • Advising on tariff classification, rules of origin, origin markings and customs valuation under the customs laws of the United States, the European Union and other countries
  • Obtaining favorable tariff classification, origin and valuation rulings from national authorities and the WCO
  • Litigating customs disputes before administrative panels and courts of law in the US, the EU and European member states
  • Helping clients optimize global sourcing options by taking advantage of foreign trade zones, duty suspensions, bilateral and multilateral free trade agreements and other trade preference programs
  • Assisting clients with customs audits, focused assessments, CT-PAT and other US and European customs initiatives
  • Resolving exporters’ disputes with customs authorities, particularly in China, Southeast Asia and Latin America

Export Controls and Sanctions Programs

We help clients comply with US and EU restrictions on exports and re-exports of goods, software and technology. That includes commercial, dual-use and military controls, controls on "deemed exports," and restrictions on dealings with embargoed and sanctioned countries and trading partners. Because we are in frequent contact with export control and embargo regulators, our team understands how agencies may interpret and enforce regulations in specific circumstances. Our work includes:

  • Developing and implementing internal compliance programs to reduce the risk of export control and sanctions violations by establishing compliance policies, internal training programs, compliance certification instruments and internal auditor evaluations of export control and sanctions compliance measures
  • Advising on particular export, re-export and investment transactions to ensure compliance with applicable controls and sanctions
  • Filing and facilitating export license, commodity classification and embargo license applications
  • Representing clients in regulatory proceedings and enforcement actions brought under voluntary disclosures to, and penalty actions by, such agencies as the US Department of Commerce, the US Department of State, the US Department of the Treasury and the European Commission
  • Advising on mergers and acquisitions of companies engaged in export business or international projects by helping clients perform effective due diligence on the compliance history and internal compliance processes of target companies and integrating the acquired business into our clients’ compliance programs

Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and Anti-Corruption Laws

Mayer Brown's global trade and securities/regulatory enforcement lawyers collaborate to help clients (including both US and non-US issuers of securities in the United States) comply with the anti-bribery provisions and the accounting provisions of the FCPA. We also use our global presence to advise on compliance with the anti-corruption laws of other countries. That means such help as:

  • Advising on the development, implementation and evaluation of corporate compliance programs to prevent violations and mitigate potential penalties if a violation occurs.
  • Conducting FCPA compliance training for personnel around the world.
  • Performing FCPA due diligence in mergers and acquisitions.
  • Counseling on the FCPA compliance of foreign agents, consultants, representatives and joint venture partners.
  • Conducting internal investigations of possible FCPA violations.
  • Representing clients in FCPA enforcement proceedings

National Security Restrictions on Investment

We assist clients in the United States and other countries to deal with US national security restrictions on foreign acquisitions in the United States. Our lawyers understand the full range of these restrictions as they arise under the Exon-Florio Amendment of the Defense Production Act of 1950 and under the National Industrial Security Program of the US Department of Defense, which enables us to provide clients with assistance such as:

  • Helping to assess whether prospective transactions raise national security issues
  • Advising on how to structure transactions to mitigate national security concerns while achieving business objectives
  • Implementing all phases of regulatory clearance under Exon-Florio review procedures: notifying the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (“CFIUS”); negotiating mitigation agreements to satisfy CFIUS concerns; preparing Special Security Agreements and related documents to meet the requirements of the National Industrial Security Program; and establishing compliance plans to govern classified facilities and technologies
  • Helping to anticipate and address government relations and public relations issues that may complicate the successful completion of the regulatory review process


  • Helping a US manufacturer of consumer products achieve production and distribution efficiencies under the preferential trade agreements between the EU and Euromed countries, and among certain Euromed and African countries.
  • Analyzing a large US services company’s export control responsibilities in a major outsourcing project that involved exporting encryption software to India.
  • Representing a US natural resources firm in a voluntary disclosure of millions of dollars in exports made in violation of US export controls, which resulted in a warning letter from US authorities but no monetary penalty.
  • Convincing the WCO, on behalf of a client whose product was classified under various tariff numbers around the world, to change the global harmonized tariff schedule in order to eliminate variances in classification across different countries.
  • Helping a leading pharmaceutical manufacturer dispose of one of its business units by determining the export controls applicable to its disclosure of technical information and applying for export licenses to transfer the technology.
  • Handling customs litigation in several EU Member States to resolve different interpretations of EU and WCO tariff wording that defined post-clearance recovery of customs duties relating to the reclassification of products.
  • Acting on behalf of an Iranian human rights advocate to persuade OFAC (the US agency that administers the US embargo against Iran) to revise its restrictions on Americans to edit and market writings by Iranian nationals.
  • Helping a client save millions of dollars in customs duties by establishing a series of foreign trade zones (“FTZ”) around the United States.
  • Representing a leading international chemicals firm in an SEC investigation of possible FCPA violations in Argentina, which resulted in the SEC’s decision not to pursue the matter.
  • Helping an international consumer products company to ensure that its engagement of foreign representatives around the world complies with the FCPA.
  • Advising a leading French investment firm in the national security review of its acquisition of a US cargo handling and airport ground services company.
  • Representing an EU customs agent in a fraud investigation by the OLAF, the European fraud agency.