Global trade is undergoing fundamental change.
Brexit, tensions between the US and China, and Asia's determination to play a greater role in globalisation will have a dramatic impact on trade for years to come. Trade agreements are notoriously slow and complex for governments to negotiate, and during this period of uncertainty, our trade experts can help our clients to manage the impact on their businesses.
2021 will be an important year in international trade. States continue to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and the resulting economic downturn. A new US administration has just taken office. Questions remain about tensions in the US-China relationship. High on the agenda are also digital services trade, trade and the environment, and the future of multilateralism. Read more about Trade in 2021: Five Trends to Watch
On 30 April 2020, the EU and 19 other World Trade Organization ("WTO") members announced the terms of an interim arrangement enabling appeals of WTO panel decisions to be decided in the absence of a functioning WTO Appellate Body. The arrangement, dubbed the Multi-Party Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement’ ("MPIA"), aims to provide a temporary solution to practical and systemic issues arising as a consequence of the failure by WTO members to reach consensus on the appointment of new Appellate Body members. Read more about the WTO's Interim Appeal Arbitration Arrangement - A Bridge Over Troubled Waters?
White Paper: Doing business in Africa: Financing projects, accessing liquidity and finding the right partner in a competitive market place
Africa is a continent thirsting for power. A study by McKinsey & Co. estimated that demand for electricity in Sub-Saharan Africa will jump four-fold between 2010 and 2040, representing average growth of 4.5 percent per annum. In order to realize its full energy potential, Africa will require about $490 billion of capital for power generation and another $345 billion for transmission and distribution.This document captures key elements of the discussion on Doing Business in Africa held at the Waldorf Astoria in Dubai on November 26, 2019, including bankability of the power projects, mitigating offtaker and political risks and structuring the right blend of financing. Read more about doing business in Africa.
On 29 January 2021, Japan and Georgia signed a bilateral investment treaty titled the Agreement between Japan and Georgia for the Liberalisation, Promotion and Protection of Investment (Japan-Georgia BIT or BIT). This is the first BIT signed by either Japan or Georgia since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. It is expected that the BIT will enter into force later this year once it has been through the requisite ratification procedures in Japan and Georgia.
Upon signing the BIT, Georgia's Minister of Economy was reported to have said "We will do our best to bring as many Japanese investors as possible into various fields of the Georgian economy to create new jobs especially in the post-Covid period, when we need active investments". This builds upon a steady increase of Japanese investment into Georgia particularly in the energy sector. For example, last year a major Japanese utility company acquired a significant stake in a Georgian hydropower company.
The Japan-Georgia BIT contains wide-ranging investment protections for investors from Georgia and Japan. This briefing provides further detail on who is covered and how these rights may be used. In summary, consistent with its own aims, and the emerging Japanese 'standard form' for investment treaties, the Japan-Georgia BIT is favourable from an investor's perspective. Importantly, the treaty has "teeth" in the form of an investor-State dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism.
As well as looking at the provisions of the treaty in more detail in this briefing, we highlight some of its limitations and exclusions, for example, for measures aimed at protecting public health. There are also other exclusions specifically focused on the construction, engineering, electricity, gas and oil sectors. Read more about the Japan-Georgia Bilateral Investment Treaty l Japanese version.
The new trade agreement between the UK and Japan, the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) came into force on 1 January 2021. As a result, the UK-Japan trading relationship is no longer governed by the Japan-EU Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA). This briefing considers how the provisions of CEPA depart from the EPA regime and, in the context of Brexit, what impact the new arrangements have on key sectors. Read more about A New Chapter in UK-Japan Economic and Trade Relations.
The UK and Japan have reached agreement in principle on the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (UKJCEPA). The UKJCEPA is expected to be largely based on the existing Japan-EU EPA (JEEPA) but there will be some notable differences.
The agreement (reached on 11 September 2020) has been hailed as "historic" by the UK government and represents the UK's first major post-Brexit trade deal. In Japan, the UKJCEPA has been welcomed as ensuring post-Brexit trade continuity with the UK. Japan and the UK have each enjoyed improved access to each other's markets since the JEEPA came into force in February 2019, but once the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020 so too do the benefits enjoyed by both parties under the JEEPA.
While we must wait for the full text of the UKJCEPA (expected in October) to understand exactly what has been agreed, announcements by both governments offer some strong indications on what to expect. Read more about the Agreement in principle for the Japan-UK trade deal: A focus on tech and the digital economy.
UK & EU
On 27 November 2019, The European Parliament confirmed the new class of European Commissioners with 461 votes in favour, 157 against and 89 abstentions. The new President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, and her team of European Commissioners took office on 1 December 2019 and will drive the EU’s agenda for the next five years. President Von der Leyen, the former German defence minister, says that it will be a “geopolitical Commission,” signalling an intention to position Europe as a heavyweight on the world stage.
Here Clifford Chance experts, including Of Counsel Michel Petite who worked for EU institutions for 27 years and was legal adviser to three Commission Presidents, assess the priorities for the von der Leyen Commission. Read more about the European Commission 2019 - 2024
This briefing paper provides an overview of the European Union’s role in trade policy on behalf of its Member States, the process by which it undertakes different aspects of that policy, and the roles of the various EU institutions. Read more about the EU trade process explained.
The UK Department for International Trade (DIT) has unveiled its negotiating objectives for securing a free trade agreement with Japan. The DIT highlights textiles, agriculture, services and data exchange as key areas of focus. If secured, a UK-Japan FTA will avoid a potentially damaging post-Brexit ‘cliff edge’ when the benefits of the recently concluded EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (JEEPA) fall away after 31 December 2020. Read more about the UK releases strategic approach for securing a free trade agreement with Japan.
Recent developments mean that European Union investors in other EU Member States are unlikely to be able to rely in the future on applicable bilateral investment treaties (BITs). The position for UK investors in those EU Member States with BITs with the UK (and vice-versa) also remains highly uncertain. Given this uncertainty, investors should review their investment structures and insurance to seek to mitigate the potential consequences of unjustified governmental measures. Read more about the EU investment treaty protection future uncertain: what should investors do?
Recent amendments to the French foreign investment control regime have brought significant changes. We analyse the likely effects of the regime changes on M&A activity and on the timeline for foreign investment approval in France. Read more about France's amended foreign investment regime.
United States Trade Representative invites comments on proposals for additional duties on US$3.1 billion of EU and UK exports
Since October 2019 the United States has imposed additional duties on imports from the EU and UK in connection with the WTO Dispute Settlement Body's finding that EU subsidies to Airbus breached WTO rules. On June 23, 2020, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) published a request for comment, which contains proposals for additional duties on an estimated US$3.1 billion of EU and UK exports, including duties of up to 100% on certain products. EU and UK enterprises exporting to the United States, and impacted U.S. businesses, have until 26 July 2020 to comment on USTR's most recent tariff proposals. Read more about United States Trade Representative invites comments on proposals for additional duties on US$3.1 billion of EU and UK exports.