International trade law refers to the body of rules and regulations that governs the relationships of nation states for regulating their domestic markets in relation to international trade. The law regulates the global exchange of goods and services. The General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT), a multilateral treaty to deal with trade in goods comprises several rules on international trade.
What is International Trade?
Generally, international trade law includes the rules and customs governing trade between countries. International trade lawyers may focus on applying domestic laws to international trade, and applying treaty-based international law governing trade.
Two main areas of international trade on the domestic side include trade remedy work and export controls/sanctions. Trade remedies are tools used by the government to take corrective action against imports that are causing material injury to a domestic industry because of unfair foreign pricing and/or foreign government subsidies. An example of a trade remedy includes antidumping duties set forth by the International Trade Commission (“ITC”) in response to dumping;this occurs when a foreign company sells a product in the U.S. that is below the price it sells for in its ‘home market’ and thus causes harm to the U.S. industry.
Export control laws govern the exportation of sensitive equipment, software, and technology for reasons related to foreign policy objectives and national security. Three U.S. government agencies have the authority to issue export licenses, including: Department of State; Department of Commerce; and Department of Treasury. Violations of export control laws can carry both civil and criminal penalties.
On the international treaty front, companies may need advice on the rules of the World Trade Organization (“WTO”), which is a formal international organization that regulates trade. Other relevant treaties include the North American Free Trade Agreement (“NAFTA”) and bilateral investment treaties.
Some firm practices focus on only one aspect of the law (such as antidumping), whereas others are very broad practice groups that touch all areas of international trade. The predicted growth area for the future is the laws surrounding data and privacy information flow, since what is permissible differs greatly by country