International Trade & Customs
Nctm in Brussels works to develop a rules based and comprehensive framework for EU and international trade and customs law that ensures a level playing field for EU manufacturers and service providers worldwide.
INDUSTRY FOCUS – Our focus is on restoring a level-playing field when unfair trade practices undermine and injure EU industry.
In trade defense (TDI) matters, Nctm has a long-established policy of only representing EU producer and service interests, both in the EU and in third countries. To this end, Nctm works with the major industry associations in Brussels and their members. Nctm has a strong team working on TDI. We combine complex data management capacity with legal and strategic expertise to resolve current issues and anticipate future questions. We have handled more than 200 TDI investigations and 100 court cases.
EXCELLENCE – in a world becoming ever more complex, we stay up to date with new practices, new rules, and the new skills needed
The recent modernization of, and changes to, the EU’s trade instruments is a game changer. This, along with the recognition by the EU that countering unfair trade practices is a strategic issue, opens opportunities that Nctm is ready and able to explore.
Our trade team has maintained close relations with the EU institutions working to counter unfair trade. We assist our clients in developing strategies and in initiating anti-dumping, anti-subsidy, safeguard and any other procedures leading to measures – such as anti-dumping duties at the EU border – to rebalance competition.
TRADE POLICY AND NEGOTIATIONS – to defend the interests of the Europe’s industry globally
The many bi-lateral and pluri-lateral trade agreements being negotiated and concluded by the EU with almost all countries around the word opens new opportunities (but also risks). Nctm has been active in negotiating and ensuring the correct implementation of these free trade agreements. Traditional trade and customs law such as the origin of goods, valuation, customs clearance, sanctions, inward processing, tariff suspensions, dual use goods, import and export licensing and the many complex rules applicable to the movement of goods and services between countries form part of our practice.
The Way We Work
Come talk to us about trade and market issues. The first discussions are complimentary. If a solution is identified we will set out the path to be followed, rigorously budgeted, with clear opportunities for review at pre-determined points. Our first step will normally be a feasibility study, reviewed as necessary with the public authorities, that will determine the problems and opportunities of any strategy, before any initiative is launched.
Trade Defence Investigations
Trade Defence is one of the cornerstones of our practice. We provide legal assistance to some of the largest EU Industries as well as SME’s in anti-dumping, anti-subsidies, safeguard cases and the trade barriers Regulation, both in relation to the representation of their interest in administrative proceedings before the EU Commission and, if required, with respect to the litigation in the Courts of Justice.
Effective anti-dumping or anti-subsidy cases require about 2 years of work, from the pre-complaint stage to the possible imposition of defensive measures at the EU border. These EU-wide measures usually take the form of additional duties to offset the consequences of unfair practices revealed during the investigation. These remedies remain in force for an initial period of 5 years, subject to renewal.
To secure the effectiveness of the remedial effect of the measures over time, Nctm provides for a full arsenal of actions including interim reviews, expiry reviews, anti-circumvention, anti-absorption and customs fraud proceedings.
Europe’s recent modernization of its trade instruments offers opportunities and risks for the industry. The new methodology for calculating dumping margin and changes in the “lesser duty” rule, or the extended investigative scope for subsidies, goes hand in hand with tighter deadlines and labour-intensive requests. TDI actions require more and more input from lawyers and the Union industry.
- Monitoring, analysis and feasibility of a TDI case
Our team can either work on the basis of information already available to the relevant industry body or can do the data gathering and analysis. Data gathering by Nctm guarantees confidential treatment of the very sensitive data needed, and strict compliance with competition rules.Equipped with the relevant data, our team analyses the facts and formulates strategies. Once the initial data is gathered, a feasibility study will be conducted revealing the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of a possible case. Informal discussions with the competent authority will be engaged.
- Strategic adviceWith the results of the feasibility study, our team’s extensive experience will form the basis of our strategic advice and proposed course of action. Our aim is to provide not only the facts at hand, but the underlying considerations, context and politics allowing EU industry to take informed decisions. Armed with this information, the domestic industry will make fact-based policy decisions with a greater understanding of the context.
- Technical assistance during investigationWhen a decision is taken to formally start a trade defence action, our expertise and technical skills will help you throughout the complexities of the proceedings. As a typical investigation lasts 15 months from opening and involves labour-intensive requests under tight deadlines, preparation is key.Nctm provides a single point of contact to continuously assist you throughout the investigation. Our team is committed to replying to e-mails within a few hours, and a 24/7 helpline is set for urgent queries.
- Legal recourseWhen trade defence implementing measures are challenged by third parties in the EU General Court and EU Court of Justice in Luxembourg, Nctm has a long-standing tradition to act as legal counsel either to support or directly represent the EU institutions. Our lawyers have been involved in more than 100 cases for the EU institutions before the EU Courts. This experience provides us with a profound and unique knowledge of the EU trade law.
WTO Dispute Settlement
Besides our Trade Defence practice at EU level, Nctm has solid experience providing legal advice in GATT and WTO disputes Could this be “within the wto dispute settlement system”?. We have worked on some of the largest trade law disputes within the WTO over the past twenty years including major cases in the industrial and agricultural sectors, such as on DRAMS, biodiesel, fertilisers, bananas, sugar, hormones and meat.
We focus on bilateral trade relations between the EU and third countries and on multilateral trade relations. We are able to advise international corporations and Governments on all aspects of regulatory barriers to trade in goods and services.
Our lawyers represent EU Member States and third country Governments and trade associations in their dealings not only with the EU institutions and other Member States, but also with third country Governments.
We also advise foreign Governments in negotiating rounds (Uruguay and Doha) and on WTO accession negotiations as well as private parties on the implications for their businesses.
Nctm has well-consolidated experience providing legal advice on a wide range of matters concerning customs law. Our lawyers have advised companies and Governments before EU and Third Countries’ customs authorities on market access restrictions, dual use, requests for export licensing, technical barriers to trade, tariff-rate quotas, rules of origin, customs classification and preferential tariff agreements.
Projects with public bodies
In addition, Nctm has carried out several major projects for the different EU Institutions covering, inter alia, the evaluation of EU trade agreements adopted by the EU, the compliance of the national laws of states seeking to join the EU with EU law itself, as well as impact assessments of WTO rulings on EU policies. Members of the trade team have been advising the UK on the development of a trade remedies authority in the UK post Brexit.