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International trade

The landscape of international trade today is evolving with unprecedented dynamism. For years, globalisation motivated companies to restructure their operations internationally through outsourcing and offshoring. Firms optimised their supply chains by spreading various processes across different countries. This intricate web of global trade and transportation, once a model of “just-in-time delivery,” is facing tumultuous shifts.

The Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine, escalating tensions and tariff battles between the United States and China, as well as the ongoing Industrial Revolution 4.0 and its emerging technologies, are reshaping the international trade environment.

As a result, countries are increasingly using sanctions and export controls as instruments to advance foreign policy objectives and safeguard their industries and strategic advantages (such as access to critical raw materials).

Managing global trade and supply chains has become more challenging than ever. Only ongoing and insightful scrutiny of rapidly changing policies allows businesses to maintain compliance and pursue early adaptation strategies.

Our firm is a leader in assisting clients in navigating the complexities of global supply chains, international trade, and foreign investments.

Drawing on our expertise, we advise on regulatory matters, including compliance with sanctions and export controls. We offer guidance in contract drafting, representation in enforcement proceedings, and assistance in securing a range of regulatory permits or licences.

In M&A transactions we identify, assess, and mitigate compliance risks associated with regulatory regimes, standards, and policies related to export controls and sanctions.

We advise clients across a diverse range of sectors, including energy, financial services, IT, defence, aviation, and heavy industry.

Countries use various geopolitical tools to restrict trade for reasons of national security, foreign policy, or economics. Export controls are probably the most commonly used tool in this regard.

Today, faced with a troubled world of trade wars and military conflicts, the EU, the US, and other jurisdictions are deploying increasing restrictions against countries like Russia and China. 

These measures go beyond traditional restrictions on arms and other military equipment, to include the emerging technologies that drive today’s societies (e.g. quantum computing, biotech, AI, and semiconductors), along with raw materials needed to produce critical components.

In the face of technological progress and geopolitical dynamics, export control lists are regularly updated to add new items or adjust the specifications of listed items. The export control landscape extends beyond tangible goods to encompass services, sensitive know-how, data and blueprints, necessitating comprehensive legal oversight and industry expertise. 

Our firm provides comprehensive compliance, licensing, enforcement, and policy counsel on export control matters. We address the challenges posed by extraterritorial application of US export regulations. We advise clients from diverse sectors, ranging from defence and high tech to consumer goods, ensuring that they can operate confidently and seamlessly in an environment rife with trade complexities.

How we can help:

  • In our advice on drafting or reviewing contracts, we support clients in identifying their import and export obligations.
  • We represent clients in proceedings before the customs administration, the Internal Security Agency (declarations of import of software and hardware with cryptographic functions) and the Minister of Development and Technology (permits for export of strategic goods).
  • We advise and represent clients in inspections and proceedings related to violations of export control regulations, in particular criminal and administrative proceedings for imposition of fines.
  • In M&A transactions, we analyse regulatory risks in the area of export controls, identify irregularities and propose safeguards or workarounds to achieve business objectives in compliance with applicable export control and sanctions legislation.
  • We advise on the extraterritorial impact of US export control regulations on business transactions.
  • We classify controlled goods, services and technologies to determine the scope of import and export obligations.
  • We support clients in developing and implementing internal control systems.
  • We review existing internal compliance systems, identify any gaps in procedures that may give rise to a risk of violation of trade control regulations, and recommend an action plan to mitigate the risks.
  • We provide training to our clients’ personnel on controls of trade in strategic goods.

In recent years, economic sanctions have undergone unprecedented escalation, with significant developments particularly in regimes enacted by the European Union and the United States.

The EU has introduced a variety of sanctions schemes, shifting from geographical sanctions targeting countries or regions, to thematic sanctions directed at specific problems such as terrorism or cyberattacks, sectoral sanctions focusing on specific industries, or financial sanctions designating individuals and entities based on their involvement in activities threatening international peace and security or human rights violations.

Alongside these schemes, national sanctions regimes have also emerged in other countries, including Poland, broadening the scope of restrictive measures to include additional entities relevant to the protection of state interests. The Polish sanctions regime also includes unique features, such as imposition of temporary compulsory administration and expropriation or nationalisation of designated entities.

This changing landscape poses unique challenges for clients involved in international trade, requiring them to comply with multiple and sometimes conflicting sanctions regimes.

Our firm offers comprehensive advice on navigating both the EU and Polish sanctions regimes. Leveraging our extensive global network of firms with expertise in particular sanctions regimes, we also coordinate delivery of multi-jurisdictional legal services where necessary. This ensures that our clients receive comprehensive and practical guidance, enabling them to operate confidently and in legal compliance across complex global supply chains.

How we can help:

  • We advise on design and implementation of sanctions screening and compliance mechanisms, and conduct audits of compliance programmes already in place.
  • We analyse sanctions compliance in complex cases, particularly with regard to ownership and control and the risk of circumvention of sanctions.
  • We advise on structuring business relationships to maintain sanctions compliance.
  • We represent clients in sanctions proceedings before administrative authorities and administrative courts, including:
    • The National Revenue Administration (accessing or release of funds and other economic resources)
    • The Minister of Development and Technology (exceptions to the export ban on sanctioned goods, lifting of compulsory administration)
    • The Minister of Internal Affairs and Administration (removal from the sanctions list).
  • We advise and represent clients in inspections and proceedings alleging sanctions violations, in particular criminal proceedings against management and administrative proceedings seeking administrative fines.
  • We represent clients in commercial disputes where sanctions affect the performance of contracts (such as invalidation, rescission or termination of contracts on grounds of legal impossibility).
  • We provide training on sanctions for our clients’ personnel.