ARNOUD R. WILLEMS leads the EU trade and customs team and co-founded Sidley’s office in Brussels. He also serves on the firm’s COVID-19 Task Force. Arnoud represents the interests of multinational companies in high-profile trade matters and advises clients on strategies for solving market access problems.
A key aspect of Arnoud’s practice involves counseling companies on how to improve their competitiveness and financial performance through the application of WTO rules, EU rules and treaty (trade) provisions. He also helps companies capitalize on opportunities as trade disagreements rise from national to EU to WTO level, guiding his clients through negotiations, administrative proceedings and court challenges.
Most recently, Arnoud has been advising clients on various aspects of the legal and policy implications of Brexit.
Since 1995, Arnoud has been a leading advocate of companies challenging EU anti-dumping regulations, with an exceptional success rate in such cases before the European Courts, enabling his clients to obtain significant duty refunds and leading clients to name him “the perfect anti-dumping payer’s bulldog” (The Legal 500 EMEA 2010).
Successes include the following ground-breaking cases:
- Wortmann, Case C-365/15 (interest in customs cases)
- AETMD, Case T-460/14 (sweetcorn)
- Clark, Case C-659/13 (footwear)
- Brosmann, Cases T-401/06 and C-249/10P
- ENRC, Case T-107/08 (silico-manganese)
- Whirlpool Europe, Case T-314/06 (refrigerators)
- ASMP, Case T-107/04 and T-151/06 (silicon)
- Gul-Ahmed, Case T-199/04 (bed linen)
These cases have served to clarify issues such as causation analysis, remissions and adjustments, which subsequently resulted in a change of the underlaying legislation.
Arnoud has a deep understanding of how trade rules shape global flows of capital, investment, goods, technology and services. He is recognized as a thought leader on the harmonization of trade and customs procedures and methodologies, as well as on competitiveness, the application of WTO rules to the energy sector, climate change and the impact of the new EU energy regulation, particularly with respect to BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China) companies and governments.
In 2020 and 2021, Lexology honored Arnoud with its “Client Choice Award” for Trade and Customs. Arnoud features prominently in the EU and international trade rankings of the leading bar publications such as Chambers, Who’s Who Legal, and Best Lawyers. Recognized by Chambers since 2008, clients have been quoted praising him as “a born strategist. Most recently, Arnoud was recognized in Chambers Europe and Global 2022 for International Trade/WTO. A client describes him as “tenacious and strategic, well informed and respected, and pleasant to work with,” adding that he “has obtained good results.” The client further enthuses: “He has also built a phenomenal team.” He masterminds all details and makes cases look simple and presents them convincingly. Perhaps most importantly, he delivers results” (Chambers Global 2021). Arnoud has also been recognized by Chambers Europe 2021, with clients in the 2020 edition describing him as “visionary with respect to the next legal trends and what companies will need. He knows what to do before we even realise it.” In the 2019 edition, clients describe him as a “strategic mastermind,” and “tenacious and effective with respect to results” (Chambers Europe 2019); a “strategic and creative mind and the kind of person who spots issues and provides solutions before they happen” (Chambers Europe 2018); “a very easy person to sit down and come to a conclusion with” (Chambers Europe 2016); as well as being “wonderful with clients and has unparalleled knowledge of the WTO” (Chambers Europe 2017). He has also been recognized in Who’s Who Legal 2021 for Trade and Customs, with market sources praising him as “a strategic mastermind” who “knows everything about international trade law.” The 2020 edition describes him as “a rock when it comes to trade and customs work,” and “a leading practitioner who is well respected for his deep customs experience.” Arnoud has also been recognized in Best Lawyers in Belgium since 2013.
Arnoud publishes and speaks widely on trade topics such as anti-dumping, customs, climate change, economic sanctions, export restrictions, energy and the WTO accessions. Before entering private practice, Arnoud was a lieutenant in the Royal Dutch Navy and served as a legal officer at Royal Philips Electronics.