Sutherland advises a diverse group of international corporations and governments regarding international trade, including foreign investment and the resolution of cross-border disputes. Our lawyers offer a full range of international services to clients, utilizing our multinational experience to provide timely and cost effective representation. Our lawyers with international experience are not confined to a single practice group and operate from each of the firm's offices.
Lawyers in our Washington office are experienced in the resolution of trade disputes, and Sutherland lawyers have acted for U.S. and foreign clients in a wide range of international matters. Among the areas in which we regularly advise clients are the following:
Import Regulation and Trade Relief
Our lawyers have broad experience in defending and prosecuting antidumping and countervailing duty investigations before the U.S. Department of Commerce and the U.S. International Trade Commission. Lawyers in our international group have been involved in many of the most significant trade proceedings of the last decade, including investigations of semiconductors, flat panel displays, steel, and uranium.
Export Transactions and International Business Practices
U.S. law extensively regulates the international business conduct of individuals and corporations. Export controls, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, economic sanctions administered by the U.S. Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Asset Control, and the antitrust laws are some of the areas in which we regularly advise clients. The adoption of the Federal Sentencing Guidelines (and the corporate and individual penalties they mandate) has increased the emphasis on training and compliance in companies of all sizes. The firm has extensive practical experience with these and other rules that confront business executives and their counsel. Some examples of matters our lawyers have recently handled in this area include:
- Representation of a major international firm in litigation involving the extraterritorial application of U.S. export controls to the production of goods outside the United States.
- Design and implementation of a worldwide export control compliance program for a multinational firm.
- Representation of a manufacturer of new technology in connection with a criminal investigation of its export practices.
- Advice on the application of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and the United States antiboycott legislation to international transactions.
Under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, the President has authority to retaliate against any country that restricts the entry of U.S. goods and services. Each year, the Office of the United States Trade Representative publishes a study of foreign trade barriers and decides whether to threaten or initiate action under Section 301. U.S. companies often request the United States to utilize Section 301 when they encounter barriers to access in markets outside the United States or discriminatory treatment at the hands of foreign officials. The President's authority under Section 301 has also been utilized to force compliance with trade agreements. Both U.S. and non-U.S. companies can be severely affected by the application of Section 301 sanctions, which typically involve the imposition of high duties that exclude a broad range of products from the United States market until the targeted country agrees to change its policy.
For nearly a decade, a fundamental goal of U.S. trade policy has been greater protection for the ideas, inventions, and expressions of Americans. This has led to policies designed to ensure the enforcement of patent, copyright, trademark, and trade-secret rights throughout the world, and these initiatives have been enhanced by changes in domestic law, such as the lengthening of the duration of patents. Our lawyers have acted in a broad range of intellectual property proceedings, including litigation before the U.S. International Trade Commission and federal courts nationwide.
Trade In Services
In recent years, there has been substantial progress toward ensuring more open markets for providers of services, and this process of liberalization continues to move forward. Trade in financial and telecommunication services are just two of the areas in which our lawyers have been active.
International trade often goes hand in hand with investment, either as a precursor to investment activity in another country or as a result of investments in successful businesses. Our lawyers are experienced in both inbound and outbound investment transactions and have been actively involved in transactions in numerous countries. We are familiar with the pertinent corporate, commercial, financial and tax issues and understand how to integrate the different disciplines involved so as to cover the many different issues that arise.
International Litigation and Dispute Resolution
As the international character of business has grown, the number and variety of international disputes has increased. We work to find creative solutions to disputes that span borders, whether the situation involves a commercial claim for nonpayment or an international trade controversy with significant foreign policy implications. We are experienced international litigators and do not hesitate to sue when litigation is the only alternative, but we make every effort to reach a practical, cost-effective solution short of litigation. Many of our lawyers have been appointed as arbitrators, and one of our international trade lawyers was appointed to the board that sit as judges in disputes under the North American Free Trade Agreement.
International Trade Agreements
As international trade issues have become more important, our trade lawyers have been retained to address both the trade and foreign policy aspects of international disputes. For example, one of our lawyers was retained by the Government of Russia to negotiate a settlement of the U.S.-Russian uranium dispute and played a key role in crafting the first antidumping suspension agreement between the United States and a nonmarket economy country. This agreement helped pave the way for other efforts designed to encourage the conversion of the Russian military establishment to peaceful purposes and to foster the development of a free-market economy within Russia.
The last few years have seen the most dramatic change in the international trading system since the Second World War. Both the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Uruguay Round present opportunities to increase further the volume of world trade by lowering or eliminating trade barriers. This will be accomplished not only by the specific measures required by those agreements, but also by the new organizations they establish. Both agreements establish new and effective dispute resolution systems for international trade disputes, and our lawyers are active participants in the evolution of this new trading system.
Public Service and International Trade
The members of our international group are involved in public service activities that provide a broad perspective on trade policy, including service on international tribunals and as arbitrators. Our lawyers speak frequently on a range of international business and commercial issues and participate in a wide variety of private and governmental organizations in the United States and abroad. Our lawyers have also been involved with the reform of economic systems in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and one of our partners served as co-editor of Joint Ventures in Eastern Europe, an analysis of the foreign investment laws of Eastern Europe published by Euromoney.
International trade is the lifeblood of the world economy but its growth has been accompanied by increased controversy and commercial disputes. Sutherland lawyers have the experience and a proven record in assisting clients to deal successfully with these issues. In addition, we focus on anticipating and resolving potential problems before they rise to the level of a formal controversy. The members of our international group are available to assist companies of all sizes and industries in navigating the growing complexities of markets throughout the world.
© 2013 Sutherland Asbill & Brennan LLP