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International trade and investment are critical to securing sustainable and inclusive economic growth in developing countries. Indeed, for many countries the strategic utilization of trade and investment over the last few decades has been a central part of their development success. Yet for others, trade and investment opportunities remain largely untapped. This is, in part, caused by the complexity inherent to linking trade and investment-related policy tools to sustainable development – especially in light of increasingly complex international economic agreements such as the World Trade Organisation, Free Trade Agreements, and Bilateral Investment Treaties. Sidley’s Trade for Development Initiative addresses this challenge by giving free legal and technical advice to least developed and low-income developing countries and trade associations in areas related to trade, investment, and relevant regulations.

For additional information, please download our brochure.

Under the Trade for Development Initiative, Sidley lawyers do not provide general lists of “best practices” and policy recommendations. Rather, Sidley lawyers and economists provide custom-made, pro bono legal and technical advice responding to the particular trade and investment challenges typically faced by least developed country governments, trade associations, and their SMEs.

Specifically, under the Trade for Development Initiative, Sidley’s lawyers and economists provide the following services:

  • Drafting regulations on specific trade policy and investment issues
  • Reviewing laws and regulations for consistency under international economic agreements (World Trade Organization, Free Trade Agreements, Bilateral Investment Treaties)
  • Analyzing different trade and investment policy options on the basis of best practices and in light of a country’s development objectives
  • Assessing the economic impact of proposed trade and investment policies governments are considering
  • Advising governments on how to prioritize various interest in their trade and investment negotiations, on the basis of earlier analyses conducted by Sidley lawyers
  • Providing free training sessions on key legal elements of currently debated issues 
  • Advising on procurement laws and regulations to maximize SME participation
  • Reviewing public-private partnership regulations to develop infrastructure services
  • Advising on regulatory reform in the context of digital trade
  • Advising on how to restructure Special Economic Zones to bolster FDI but also domestic SME participation
  • Advising on how to add more value-added to a specific industry (garment, agribusiness, legumes etc.) through, for instance, WTO-consistent performance requirements
  • Advising on how to better leverage existing trade preferences to gain access to market
  • Advising on the legality of subsidy programs for a specific industry and suggest options for a country under international economic agreements
  • Advising on compliance with SPS/TBT standards for certain products to be exported into high value markets
  • Eligibility:
    • Least developed countries
    • Low-income developing countries
    • Trade associations in developing countries
  • Application:
    • If you would like to use our pro bono services, please write to Colette van der Ven ( and she will be in touch within two working days.
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