Given the global nature of today’s economy, few, if any, countries or companies are solely reliant on their domestic market, and companies large and small look to international markets as an integral part of their business, whether for a source of inputs into their products or as a destination for raw materials, intermediate or final stage products, or for the provision of or delivery of services. The World Trade Organization (WTO), free trade agreements (FTAs), regional trade agreements (e.g., NAFTA), customs unions (e.g., European Union, MERCOSUR), and other trade agreements all seek to establish rules for the conduct of trade in goods and services. The WTO is the multilateral system of rules and commitments on market access for its current 164 members and provides plurilateral rules on government procurement for members who have acceded. The WTO also has a dispute settlement system that permits members to challenge compliance by other members and where non-compliance is found obtain either compliance or compensation or have the right to withdraw commitments to the member not in compliance. The hundreds of FTAs that have been entered into by two or more WTO members have expanded liberalization at least to members of the FTAs. The proliferation of FTAs has created increased complexity for businesses around the world.
Stewart and Stewart can help its clients navigate the multitude of rules and requirements imposed by and optimize the benefits provided under these various agreements. We can assist companies, industries and their workers with a variety of matters related to the World Trade Organization and Bilateral and Plurilateral Trade Agreements, including:
- identifying and promoting client interests with the Executive Branch and the Congress while negotiations are underway;
- working with the Executive Branch and the Congress after the conclusion of negotiations in the consideration of implementation;
- devising strategies to maximize the value of trade agreements;
- determining and complying with eligibility criteria; and
- pursuing disputes within the framework of the agreements.
With in-depth knowledge of existing trade agreements and U.S. trade legislation, our legal and Government Relations teams pursue client interests and objectives in Washington and abroad and assist clients in evaluating the opportunities and challenges of trading in an interconnected world.
We have also advised governments on accession to the WTO and provided assistance to governments in their efforts to implement rights and obligations under various agreements through domestic legislation and administrative procedures.