International Trade Law: Do You Have What It Takes?

International trade lawyers represent businesses as they attempt to sell goods and services across national boundaries. In an increasingly interconnected world in which the global marketplace continually grows and changes, these international trade practitioners are indispensible. In many instances, international trade is governed by an international treaty such as the North American Free Trade Agreement or the Asia-Pacific Free Trade Agreement, and the advice of counsel is often required to ensure compliance with law and smooth business operations.

Representation of international business clients may also require familiarity with the World Trade Organization (WTO), the institutional successor to the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade. WTO member countries negotiate trade disputes in accordance with an established framework and dispute resolution process, and the results of these processes are a major source of international trade law.

What is International Trade Law?

International trade law covers a number of legal topics, including taxation, imports and exports, anticompetition, labor, and others. Nations often seek to protect homegrown industries by adopting anti-dumping laws (i.e. the sale of goods below cost by a foreign concern, which can drive local competition out of business) or by issuing certain forms of direct and indirect subsidies. Accordingly, a lawyer specializing in international trade law will often be required to help clients obtain fair treatment in new markets while complying with the law in a way that preserves profitability.

International trade practitioners may also be needed to help clients raise capital from foreign investors. Securities laws differ from country to country, and in many cases, international trade agreements will set forth laws regarding how entities from member countries may solicit funding from investors across national borders.

In addition, international trade lawyers may handle the following other types of tasks:

  • Advising businesses in connection with efforts to expand into a new country, including assistance with obtaining any necessary licenses and compliance with applicable industry regulations
  • Advising businesses with respect to government procurement standards
  • Trade policy advocacy on behalf of clients before governmental or international bodies
  • Representation of clients in connection with international trade litigation before a wide variety of authorities and entities
  • Structuring transactions to take advantage of favorable trade laws
  • Protective efforts to safeguard intellectual property worldwide

Notable International Trade Law Matters

Recently, Canada has joined the nations issuing regulations regarding sanctions against Iran. Under the Special Economic Measures Act, Canada has prohibited various types of trade with Iranian entities and investment in Iranian businesses. Among these are prohibitions on exporting weapons to Iran, investing in Iranian energy companies, expansion of Iranian financial entities into Canada, and other similar regulations. International trade lawyers must be aware of regulations like these and must assist clients as they attempt to come into compliance with the new rules.

The Value of an LL.M. in U.S. Law for International Trade Lawyers

The online LL.M. in U.S. Law offered by @WashULaw is ideal for foreign lawyers that want to enter into the practice of international trade law. Coursework focuses heavily on the topics central to representation of business entities with U.S. involvement, including the basics of American business law, but also includes classes that deal with cross-border trade issues, such as International Business Transactions. By earning an LL.M. in U.S. Law from @WashULaw, a foreign practitioner would gain expertise not just with American legal concepts, but also with the issues that are relevant to modern international trade law practice.