Customs & International Trade

Our Practice

Trading products globally involves customs and other authorities Worldwide. Customs tariffs and indirect taxation directly affect costs and profits. International trade agreements and import and export regulations encompass many areas, ranging from food safety to dual use technology. Providing the proper documentation is essential to secure smooth passage.

Simmons & Simmons is one of few European firms to boast a Customs & International Trade Group. Centred in Amsterdam and Brussels, the firm's specialists can handle customs and trade issues in all EC jurisdictions. We provide advice to and representation of global clients on many types of customs and trade matters before national courts and administrations, the European Commission and the European courts and advise on compliance.

Experience

Customs

Project Border Inspections
  • investigation into the implementation of EC import and export regulations and customs practices in Dutch ports. The report contains recommendations to enhance efficiency and synergy with logistics processes. The report is being implemented by four Dutch Ministries. Clients are the National Ports Council of the Ministry of Traffic, the Ports of Rotterdam, Amsterdam, Zeeland and Groningen, and business organisations such as Deltalinqs (Rotterdam port interests), VNC (shipbrokers) and FENEX (Netherlands association for forwarding and logistics).
EC Enlargement
  • advising one of the world's leading commodity traders on differences in customs tariffs between the EC and new EC member states, and customs consequences of EC enlargement.
Transit Fraud
  • successful representation of various Dutch customs brokers before Dutch customs in negotiations re. withdrawal of assessments for customs duties and excises due to transit fraud.

Trade regulation

IP-Enforcement
  • advising large electronics manufacturer on EC implementation of TRIPS customs border seizures.
CAP
  • Simmons & Simmons advises Royal Cosun UA, one of the largest European sugar co-ops, on (implementation of) the EC common agricultural policy.
Meat Labelling
  • successful representation before Dutch food safety administration for meat traders resulting in release for EC entry of allegedly insufficiently labelled meat.
Food Inspection Charges
  • litigation on behalf of one of Europe's largest schipchandlers against the Dutch food safety administration in respect of the introduction of new charges for food safety inspections in bonded storage facilities and shipchandlers warehouses.
EC Export Refunds Insurance
  • litigation against underwriters under special policies for EC export refunds for agricultural produce. The court confirmed that administrative and documentary errors are covered and confirmed cover of amounts exceeding  EUR 500,000.00. The litigation resulted in the firm drafting and negotiating new policies for EC export refund insurances.
Antibiotics
  • successfully defending one of Europe's largest dairy traders against claims to fulfil a supply contract for US$2.5m East European milk powder, potentially contaminated with antibiotics prohibited in the EC.
WTO
  • advising a UK rice importer on various aspects of WTO law.

International trade disputes

Rules Of Origin
  • ongoing litigation re Overseas Countries Territories rules of origin/classification of sugar and other products, including litigation before the ECJ on EC Commission refusal to allow deviations from rules of origin under the OCT/EU association.
WTO
  • advising an Asian country on the (in)compatibility of US antidumping law with the WTO antidumping agreement.
Trade Barriers
  • assisting a European trade association in a Trade Barrier Regulation proceeding before the European Commission against the enforcement of Thailand's legislation concerning the protection of intellectual property rights against piracy, which - in the complainants' view - was incompatible with international trade law.

Specialist Expertise

Areas of expertise include:

Customs

  • customs classification (incl. obtaining Binding Tariff Informations)
  • rules of origin (incl. obtaining Binding Origin Informations and Multilateral and Bilateral EC associations, ACP and GSP)
  • customs value (incl. commissions, royalties etc.)
  • excises, including excise suspension regimes for bonded storage and transport
  • VAT in international trade
  • customs and trade litigation before national administrations and courts as well as ECJ
  • EC export refunds and import and export licensing for agricultural products under the EC Common Agricultural Policy
  • customs audits, fines, penalties and seizures.

Trade regulation

  • enforcement of IP rights by customs border seizures (under EC TRIPS implementation)
  • international movement of waste
  • import and export licensing (ranging from toys to textiles)
  • food safety, veterinary and phytosanitary (documentary) requirements and inspections for EC imports
  • advising on any aspect of WTO law. We are often called upon to establish the WTO-compatibility of legislation or practices of WTO Members.

International trade disputes

  • representing governments before WTO Panels and the Appellate Body and advising clients on WTO disputes
  • representing European industries challenging foreign market access barriers, violations of trade agreements, and inadequate protection of intellectual property rights under the EU Trade Barriers Regulation.