Trade & Foreign Law
Our team offers expert counsel and a range of legal services to clients whose business interests require specialized knowledge of U.S. Customs policies, import and export rules, new security restrictions, and multi-national trade agreements. We assist in the development of internal policies and procedures that aid owners, company directors and employees in their efforts to comply with international trade regulations. We also assist with internal compliance audits, voluntary self-disclosures, and the negotiation of enforcement penalties.
Routine work for us includes advising on U.S. export controls, such as International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Export Administration Regulations (EAR), the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), Anti-Boycott Legislation, and U.S. sanctions and embargos administered by the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC). We also have deep insight into the multi-faceted aspects of Customs law (from tariff classification to valuation), marking, and duty preference regimes — including NAFTA, CAFTA, and other free trade agreements.
How We Help Clients
In the competitive global marketplace, importers must obtain the optimal duty valuation for their products, while meeting all applicable Customs regulations in order to minimize import delays and potential penalties. We counsel clients on all aspects of Customs laws and import regulations. We advise clients on ways to maximize their import margins through classification and valuation, and assist in resolving potentially problematic Customs matters, such as audits, shipment holds and penalty notices. Our team has extensive knowledge in the following areas of Customs laws:
U.S. and international companies today must constantly adapt to the ever-expanding, complex web of international trade tariffs. Our trade compliance attorneys are skilled in helping clients navigate the effect of such tariffs on their global sourcing strategies and international supply chains. Specifically, our team has actively counseled a number of clients regarding the recently announced Section 232 and 301 tariffs and has assisted such clients in the strategic preparation and formal submission of exclusion requests, objections and written comments. Additionally, our trade compliance team can leverage its well-established relationships with law firms all over the world to provide clients definitive guidance on the potential scope and impact of foreign retaliatory tariffs against U.S. products.
Classification and Valuation
Our attorneys counsel clients on the optimal classification and valuation of their imported merchandise. Such strategic planning can result in significant duty savings, and allow companies to avoid the governmental penalties imposed as a result of misclassification or incorrect valuations.
Seizures and Penalties
We advise clients during all stages of Customs enforcement actions, including initial seizures, Requests for Information, Notices of Action, and Penalty Notices. We guide companies through the complex regulatory process of contesting Customs actions (to eliminate or mitigate penalties), while minimizing the impact of such actions on the importers’ daily business functions.
Country of Origin Marking
Imported merchandise is often seized or delayed because of non-compliant “country of origin” markers on the goods. Our attorneys frequently counsel clients on the various marking rules enforced by Customs – especially as such rules apply to the assembly, incorporation, and modification of individual components into a finished item. We also assists clients with “Made in the USA” markings and challenging competitors’ improper use of this mark.
Trade Preference Programs
Trade preference programs such as NAFTA, CAFTA, and Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), provide importers with opportunities for significant duty elimination, reduction or deferment. Our attorneys guide clients through the various preferential trade regulatory structures in order to maximize the benefits of these programs to their international transactions.
Other regulatory compliance services include:
- Compliance with Customs Modernization Act (MOD Act) Requirements
- Customs/Importing/Internal Audits and Self-Assessments
- Customs and Import Regulation Compliance Assessments
- Customs and Import Regulation Compliance Program Development
- Customs and Import Regulation Compliance Training and Education
- Antidumping and Countervailing Duties
- Record Keeping and Appraisement
- Facilitating Entry of Imported Goods
- Preparing Invoice Documents
- Determining Dutiable Value
- Evaluating Transfer Pricing and Related Party Issues
- Grey Market Importation Counseling
- Intellectual Property Registration with Customs
- Reasonable Care Issues
- Ruling Requests and Advisory Opinions
- Duty Drawback
Our team excels in assisting clients through the complex regulatory terrain governing exports. We provide expert counsel on international export issues so that our clients can successfully focus on becoming leaders in the global marketplace. Our service team leader, Jan de Beer, has been nationally recognized by Law360 as a “Top 10 International Trade Attorney Under 40” based upon the depth of his international trade experience. Within the realm of export compliance, the International Trade Service Team assists clients to accurately classify and obtain export licenses for their product lines; establish export compliance plans; and to creatively and comprehensively remedy any export related risks, investigations, violations, and administrative penalties
We have turned the Bureau of Industry and Security’s classification process into an art form. We excel in assisting our clients to accurately obtain (or self-classify) ECCN classifications for large segments of their products lines and have been instrumental in the classification of all types of merchandise from biological products to various components to elements of highly technical machine tools and software.
Very few firms have the depth of experience that our attorneys possess in the area of encryption software regulations. We have counseled a number of national and international software development companies to classify their software and, when necessary, obtain encryption registration numbers and comply with the reporting obligations related thereto.
Our expertise extends beyond the classification of dual-use items. We also represent a number of manufacturers (and exporters) of “defense articles” in their compliance with the International Traffic in Arms Regulations.
Export Compliance Policies
We seek to understand the scope, nature, and risk of our client’s business and the countries to which they export their products. A “compliance plan” is useless, if not narrowly tailored and specifically designed to mitigate export risks. Our team is skilled at working with the shipping and distribution departments – the core monitors and enforcers of corporate export compliance – to implement the export compliance policies, which comprehensively address and mitigate significant export risks.
Specially Designated Nationals/Prohibited Export Lists
Not only do we assist our clients with screening their major foreign contractors, suppliers, customers, and agents, but we also assist them with the implementation of procedures to make the compliance process seamless.
Export Penalty Mitigation
Knowing when to voluntary disclose an export violation and how to minimize administrative penalties is a skill that our attorneys have developed over years of successful practice. Our team acts quickly and decisively when responding to OFAC, BIS, DOJ and U.S. Census inquiries and investigations.
Foreign Corrupt Practice Act
The investigation and prosecution of violations of the FCPA is a concern for U.S. Companies with global interest. We are equally as proficient in counseling our clients to avoid the violation of its anti-bribery provisions.
Global companies hire global talent. We make sure that all appropriate protections are in place so that sophisticated technical information to which expatriates or foreign employees are exposed does not constitute an export violation.
Local Attention, International Reach
Our partners and associates have export expertise that compares favorably with D.C., Chicago, and New York firms, but with rates and individualized attention found only in major Midwestern markets. Our reach, however, extends globally as we are a member of the Multilaw Association, whose member firms span the globe. Despite these international ties, our own members have significant relations, connections, and expertise in the markets of China, Japan, India, Germany, Denmark, South Africa, Russia, and among various Latin America countries.
Our export-related services include:
- Classifying Goods
- Export Administration Regulations (the “EAR”) Analysis
- Export Regulation Compliance Assessments
- Export Regulation Compliance Program Development
- Export Compliance Manuals
- Audit Company Export Policies and Procedures
- Transaction Screening (denied parties)
- Compliance Training and Education
- Compliance with U.S. Sanctions
- Export Licensing Requirements and Procedures
- Obtaining Export Licenses (including licenses from the Office of Foreign Assets Control)
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