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What Is an International Trade Attorney?

Esther Ejim
Esther Ejim

An international trade attorney helps in the facilitation of international trade by providing legal services that help in preventing or resolving disputes that may arise as a consequence of the trade. International trade occurs between different territories with different laws, procedure and customs. For this reason, disputes inevitably arise from the one of the trading partners failing to fully comply with regulatory, administrative or customary requirements of another country. One of the trading partners may also behave in an unethical manner, such as not honoring agreements and attempting to shortchange another party. The international trade attorney prevents the escalation of disputes that may arise, through means like interpreting international trade laws for exporters and importers, representing their interests, and representing them at an arbitration.

Another service provided by an international trade attorney is helping clients resolve any misunderstanding with customs, which may lead to the seizure or impounding of their goods. Sometimes, such disputes may be due to lack of adequate documentary support for the goods, or it may be due to a failure to strictly adhere to the requirements of customs concerning the importation or exportation of certain types of goods. The international trade attorney may be able to draw up the required documents or assist the importers or exporters in paying any fines associated with the failure to comply with the requirements.

Map of the world.
Map of the world.

Litigation is an expensive and time-consuming procedure, which is why most organizations prefer to settle their disputes through arbitration. Arbitration is an informal means of resolving disputes between two or more parties. The two parties agree to be bound by the decision of the arbitrator, meaning that any final judgment rendered by the arbitrator is final. When there is a dispute between exporters and importers from different countries, or if the dispute is between two territorial entities, an international trade attorney can help represent the interests of his or her client during the arbitration process. This may be done by advising the client on the legalities of the arbitration process and the rights available to him or her, and by trying to negotiate a good or favorable outcome for the client.

As a preventive measure, most major importers hire the services of an international trade attorney as a consultant. The attorney will serve as a liaison between the importer and the government agencies located in the foreign trading country. He or she may also supply information regarding import duties, import and export quotas, contraband items and trade restrictions in place in the prospective trading country.

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