The lawyers and professionals in our World Trade Organization (WTO) practice advise governments and corporate clients on the full range of WTO rules that regulate trade in goods, services, and intellectual property. We have hands-on and in-depth experience with WTO dispute settlement proceedings, multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations, WTO accession, strategic trade and customs advice, and market access strategies.
The members of our WTO team have literally been in the room when some of the most important and complex trade negotiations and disputes of the past quarter century have taken place. For example, our lawyers prepared the submissions and presented the oral arguments in many of the first cases to appear before WTO panels and the Appellate Body. Members of our WTO team also played a crucial role in launching both the Uruguay and the Doha Rounds of multilateral trade negotiations. And several of our lawyers and professionals were party to the discussions when trade ministers met in Seattle, Cancun, and Hong Kong.
WTO Dispute Settlement
Our lawyers have extensive experience with WTO dispute settlement proceedings. This experience spans the full range of international commitments and obligations covered by the WTO, including the Agreement on Subsidies and Countervailing Measures, the Agreement on Technical Barriers to Trade, the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Standards, the Agreement on Agriculture, the Agreement on Customs Valuation, the Agreement on Safeguards, and the Anti-dumping Agreement. Our WTO dispute settlement experience includes:
- Brazil – Definitive Antidumping Measure on Polyethylene Terephthalate Resins from Argentina (DS355). Resulted in settlement favorable to our client.
- European Communities – Measures Affecting Trade in Commercial Vessels (DS301). Won on all grounds.
- Guatemala – Anti-dumping Investigation Regarding Imports of Portland Cement from Mexico (DS60). Won appeal on all issues.
- Korea – Measures Affecting Trade in Commercial Vessels (DS273). Won on all grounds.
- Mexico – Definitive Anti-dumping Measures on Beef and Rice (DS295). Won on all major issues.
- US – Anti-dumping duties on DRAMs from Korea (DS99). Won on all major issues.
- US – Preliminary Countervailing Duty Determination With Respect to Certain Softwood Lumber from Canada (DS236). Won two of six issues at panel stage; no appeal.
Market Access and Strategic Counseling
The rules-based trading system administered by the WTO has reduced, and in many cases eliminated, long-standing trade barriers. Trade in goods, services, and intellectual property has exploded as tariffs, quotas, and other traditional forms of market protection have been reduced, disciplined, or eliminated. But at the same time that trade has liberalized, governments have adopted new and less obvious measures to protect their domestic industries from import competition.
Technical product regulations, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, licensing schemes, and erratic customs valuation mechanisms are just a few of the hurdles often faced by companies as they try to "globalize." Understanding these measures and being able to assess whether they violate the relevant WTO rules requires legal insight. What one does with this knowledge requires business and political acumen. It requires an understanding and deep appreciation of the local institutions and decision-makers. Using our business and legal insight, and access to decision-makers in capitals around the world, we help our clients identify promising foreign markets and develop entry strategies that overcome market obstacles.
Trade Negotiations and WTO Accession
Members of our WTO team have advised numerous governments on various aspects of their accession to the WTO. For example, we have been under contract to the European Commission to provide technical assistance to the Russian Federation on its efforts to join the WTO. As noted previously, various lawyers and professionals in our group have also been engaged by governments around the world (e.g., Jamaica and Jordan) to provide training and advice on compliance with WTO obligations. In some cases, our government clients have engaged us to actually draft various sections of their national trade laws.
Lastly, our lawyers have extensive experience with multilateral and bilateral trade negotiations, both from their time in private practice and their time working in government. At present, we are closely monitoring progress in the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations. On behalf of governments and corporate clients, we provide analysis, we strategize, and we communicate our clients' interests and concerns to key third parties (e.g., the WTO Secretariat, the various EU institutions and EU Member States, the US Trade Representative, members of the US Congress, the US Departments of Treasury and Commerce, and the White House).