Complex, non-transparent and burdensome regulatory requirements can stifle efficiency, shrink global market opportunities and present more onerous barriers to trade than traditional government measures such as tariffs and quotas. Regulation has become a favored path of protectionism, and companies often have little effective recourse in domestic legal systems.
Increasingly, however, international trade and investment rules constrain arbitrary government regulation and provide viable alternative remedies to domestic litigation. Today, when companies are faced with unreasonable or non-transparent requirements in such areas as product standards, competition law and financial services regulation – to name just a few – they can turn for help to the World Trade Organization (WTO), free trade agreements (FTAs) or other more informal government dialogues and negotiations. Sidley’s team of trade and investment practitioners, drawn from high levels of government in many countries and regions around the world, can advise stakeholders on how to effectively use these tools.
Sidley lawyers have vast experience advising clients in developing comprehensive strategies to address regulatory problems through the use of international trade and investment rules.
- Sidley has effectively used WTO rules on standards to force reconsideration of domestic regulatory decisions in sectors from chemicals and minerals to cosmetics and life sciences.
- Sidley has advised the financial services industry on how to use on-going international trade negotiations to remove regulatory barriers around the world.
- Sidley has also worked closely with industries dependent on intellectual property (IP) protection to use international trade rules and negotiations to address weak enforcement of IP standards in countries and regions around the world.
At the same time, Sidley has experience in cutting-edge issues that will deeply affect the trade and investment environment in coming years. For example:
- We have advised companies in navigating proceedings before the U.S. Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which screens foreign acquisitions of U.S. companies and assets for national security concerns.
- We have deep experience with the EU’s Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) Regulation and its trade implications.
- We have advised key industries on the trade implications of climate change legislation.
These and other emerging areas of regulation, if not applied properly and within the constraints established by international trade and investment rules, have the potential to damage a company’s commercial prospects.
International trade and investment rules and related government negotiations are now an integral part of the global regulatory environment. Understanding and applying those tools effectively can be critical to a company’s success.