The practice area of international trade lawyers generally encompasses matters concerning anti-dumping, countervailing duty and other such trade proceedings; customs law including tariff classification, valuation of goods, country of origin determination and documentation, penalties and seizures; and import and export controls as governed by the Customs Act, Customs Tariff, the Cultural Property Export and Import Act, the Special Import Measures Act, CUSMA, WTO and GATT trade provisions.
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International trade is the relationship between two states as regards to the buying and selling of products between them. It may also pertain to multinational transactions or agreements between three or more states.
As such, laws and regulations of international trade governs the flow of commerce across state borders, establishing rules before a state may proceed with trade with another state, or the prohibitions imposed on these states. International trade laws are mostly governed by treaties and international conventions which the state involved acceded to, federal or national laws of parties concerned, and contractual agreements and obligations between said parties.
International trade lawyers therefore assist in creating international agreements or contracts between states, or between municipal/local and foreign corporations and companies. They advise clients for them to comply with rules and regulations of international trade law.
The Canadian government prioritises free trade and international trading systems with other states, while at the same time putting forward the interest of and safeguarding local industries. These trade policies are also embodied by international trade lawyers as they transact with other states on behalf of clients.
International trade policies for the export of products from Canada, or the import of goods from other countries, are governed by numerous laws on trade and commerce, public health, marketing, and customs tax or taxation. Thus, the practice of international trade lawyers is not only confined to federal, provincial and territorial laws on trade and commerce, added with an international component, but also the regulations, doctrines, treaties and conventions of Canadian private and public international law.
The Export and Import Permits Act (EIPA) provides for guidelines on how to acquire authorisations and certifications for companies or corporations engaged in the business of importation and exportation, through the Trade Controls Bureau.
It establishes two control lists – the Export Control List (Section 3(1)) and the Import Control List (Section 5(1)) – which are lists of products that the government of Canada thinks need additional regulation because of its nature or to ensure that certain treaties or agreements are not violated. International trade lawyers aid clients by ensuring compliance with the lists and regulations of EIPA.
Generally, all products may be imported into the Canadian market without restrictions. But, in addition to Canadian Customs Tariff regulations, and under the EIPA, certain products are either prohibited or are regulated with strict compliance. These controlled products are:
In addition, imported food products are also regulated by the Safe Food for Canadians Regulations, and the Food and Drugs Act and Regulation, especially as regards to its advertising and labelling.
Aside from these, other regulations are also imposed on other products being exported or imported to Canada. Not to mention the taxation laws and documentary requirements that would apply on these products. Hence, an international trade lawyer is best consulted with to make sure that all laws have been materially complied with.
Canada has three trade policy priorities in putting forward its best interests as a state while in cooperation with the treaties and regulations of the international community:
One of the main trade policy priorities of the Canadian government is its support or call for a fair and grounded multilateral trading system. As a member of the World Trade Organization (WTO), Canada has been its active participant in forging trade agreements, negotiations, and reviews; submission of trade disputes either as a plaintiff, respondent, or third-party; and providing other technical assistance and contributions to WTO and even to other state-members. Canada has also led the “Ottawa Group” among WTO members to strengthen the multilateral trading system.
Aside from the WTO, Canada is also a member of other multilateral trading institutions. Businesses transacting with other signatory state-members enlist the aid of international trade lawyers to know more about the advantages they may have from these, or the regulations needed to be complied with.
Canada, through its policy of trade diversification, means that the country intends to export as many different products to as many different states and countries as possible. To achieve this, Canada has bound itself to numerous free trade agreements (FTAs), which are either bilateral or multilateral. This policy is important since it reduces Canada’s risk against economic risks through geographic export diversity, and hedges against price and demand risks by diversifying the products it exports.
In pursuing trade with other states and in creating policies, Canada ensures that it benefits not only a small array of industries and groups, but is widely shared among numerous sectors of society. As such, it intends to implement an inclusive approach to trade by including the traditionally marginalised groups, such as the youth, women, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), LGBTQ2, Black, racialized, and Indigenous peoples.
The government supports enterprises and businesses led by members of these groups, provides local and international markets for them, and any other technical assistance for the growth of their enterprises and businesses. In addition, the state also crafts policies or enters into agreements with the inclusivity principle in mind. It is not uncommon for international trade lawyers to represent the interests of these groups.
The main federal office responsible for enacting the EIPA is the Trade Controls Bureau. When permitted under the Export Control List of EIPA, the Bureau issues permits and certificates for the exportation of products.
Canada is a signatory of numerous international trade agreements, in relation to its promotion of multilateral trading system. There are three main free trade agreements:
International trade lawyers can spell out the applicability and differences among these three trade agreements, among many others.
Engaged in the business of international trade? Consult with the best international trade lawyers by heading down to the list below of Lexpert Ranked lawyers.