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For the second week of our Annual Compliance Conference, we discussed key trade compliance issues impacting our clients globally. Specifically, we discussed the trade policy response of the US, EU and U.K. to ever increasing geopolitical disruption, global strategies for handling sanctions regulators and enforcement, and key global sanctions and export controls developments.

Trade policy response to geopolitical disruption – China and beyond
Tuesday 7 May

SPEAKERS: Tristan Grimmer (Partner, London), Sylwia Lis (Partner, Washington DC), Frank Pan (Partner, FenXun Shanghai), Arnoud Willems (Partner, Brussels), Zeyang Gao (Associate, London), Emily Thomson (Associate, London)

With trade policies increasingly being used as tools to respond to geopolitical disruption, this session focused on the key policy responses across the US, UK, China, and the EU.

Speakers summarised key policies being implemented and proposed – including both inbound and outbound screening regimes, export controls, foreign subsidy review, and trade remedies. Our speakers also reflected on how these policies have evolved as a consequence of shifting geopolitical relations and are being intentionally deployed to provide a holistic trade policy response, as well as how China is responding to such policies.

In relation to outbound investment controls, the session focused on the US Executive Order establishing a new outbound investment program and the proposal from the EU to bring in similar controls, which is subject to an initial assessment period before a formal proposal may be forthcoming later in 2025. These regimes intend to monitor outbound investment flows due to concerns that sensitive technologies or know-how could be made available to outside investors as part of these transactions, with competitive advantage being lost in relation to critical technologies. From an export controls perspective, the session noted developments across the EU, UK and US which are also focussed on critical technologies, including semiconductors, quantum computing, AI, additive manufacturing and biotechnology. The speakers offered insights into future trends in export controls and how we may expect them to continue developing in future.

The session concluded with insights into the EU’s expanding trade tool box including foreign subsidy review, which recently saw its first dawn raid at a Chinese security equipment manufacturer that was driven to a significant degree by national security concerns. It was observed that the deployment of these various trade policy tools remains a delicate balancing act, as the US and EU seek to de-risk their relationship with China without doing unintended harm to a trading relationship that holds the key in many sectors to the EU meeting its policy objectives, including environmental.

You can access the webinar recording here.

Global strategies for handling sanctions regulators and enforcement
Wednesday 8 May

SPEAKERS: Sven Bates (Of Counsel, London), Olof Konig (Partner, Stockholm), Terry Gilroy (Partner, New York), Meera Rolaz (Senior Associate, Zurich), Courtney Mackness (Associate, London)

With sanctions investigations and enforcements on the rise – including on a cross-jurisdictional basis – as well as more frequent sanctions-driven dealings with regulatory authorities more generally, it is imperative that organisations consider strategy when engaging with sanctions authorities. In this session, our speakers provided insights into the variety of ways of engaging with sanctions authorities, took a deep dive into varying approaches to licensing and notifications and discussed key considerations, trends and learnings in the context of sanctions investigations and enforcements across the US, UK, EU and Switzerland.

In relation to licensing and notifications, our speakers discussed the imminent need for licences for the provision of certain intra-group services and software following the expiry of the EU’s exemption on 20 June 2024, with a particular focus on the challenges in obtaining such licences as a result of the diverging approaches of Member States and key considerations when engaging with relevant authorities in relation to such licences. This position was contrasted to the approach of SECO, the relevant Swiss authority, followed by learnings from the UK given its ‘head start’ in licensing for similar activities as a result of never introducing a corresponding exemption. In addition, speakers discussed licensing and notifications in the context of divestments from Russia, including recent approaches to licensing for share sales where there are controlled products within the company’s portfolio, payment of exit taxes and relevant timings.

Leveraging considerable experience working on sanctions investigations and enforcement matters, including learnings from the first wave of investigations and enforcements arising as a result of Russian sanctions, our speakers discussed key points in the life cycle of a sanctions investigation, recent investigation and enforcement trends and the pinch-points for strategic decisions – including before making a voluntary self-disclosure – and engagements with sanctions authorities as part of these processes.

The session was concluded by the speakers outlining other considerations when engaging with sanctions authorities, particularly in the context of asset freezes.

You can access the webinar recording here.

Global sanctions and export controls update
Thursday 9 May

SPEAKERS: Ben Smith (Partner, London), Kana Itabashi (Partner, Tokyo), Julia Webster (Partner, Toronto), Andrew Rose (Senior Associate, London), Michael Amberg (Senior Associate, London), Johanna Asplund (Associate, London), Kimberley Fischer (Associate, Berlin)

Further geopolitical events in recent months have continued to impact the scope and severity of sanctions and export controls worldwide. In this session, our speakers provided an update on key recent developments in this area across the US, UK, Canada, Japan, and the EU.

Speakers covered key legislative and regulatory developments – including recent sanctions packages – as well as sanctions licensing insights, efforts to tackle circumvention, litigation updates, and recent guidance from enforcement agencies around the world.

On the sanctions side, the session focused heavily on Russia, with the further sanctions in the form of designations as well as product, service, and software controls, while also outlining other developments on sanctions regimes across the globe (notably with respect to the Middle East, Africa and China).

The session concluded with insights into the further evolution of export controls. The speakers provided an overview of how each jurisdiction is enhancing its export control measures to keep up with advanced technological developments, and offered an outlook on the both interesting and challenging times ahead for export control legislators around the world.

You can access the webinar recording here

The Annual Compliance Conference is held virtually across five weeks from 29 April – 6 June.  Every year it attracts over 4,000 in-house senior legal and compliance professionals from across the world. With a speaker faculty from all regions of our global team, we will be delivering our cutting-edge insights and guidance virtually on key global compliance, investigations and ethics trends. 

To register for the other sessions and access the recordings, click here.

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Tristan Grimmer is a partner in Baker McKenzie's London office. He is a member of the Compliance & Investigations and the International Trade and Competition practice groups. Tristan joined the Firm as a trainee in March 2004, qualifying in March 2006. He has advised on parallel investigations by authorities in the United States, Switzerland, Brazil, Japan, and has spent time working in Baker McKenzie's Chicago office. Tristan was recently named as a "Next Generation Lawyer" in the UK Legal 500 2017 directory.

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Sylwia Lis is a member of the Firm's International Trade Practice Group

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Frank Pan is a Fenxun Partner in Baker & McKenzie LLP Shanghai office.
FenXun established a Joint Operation Office with Baker McKenzie in China as Baker McKenzie FenXun which was approved by the Shanghai Justice Bureau in 2015.

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Arnoud Willems is a partner in the International Commercial & Trade Practice Group in the Brussels office. He joined Baker McKenzie in 2022. He has an extensive network, built over 25 years as a trusted advisor of entrepreneurs, executives, and diplomats. Arnoud has a deep understanding of how trade rules shape global flows of capital, investment, goods, technology, and services.

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Zeyang Gao is an associate in Baker McKenzie's Competition, Trade and Foreign Investment Department in London. Zeyang trained at Baker McKenzie and qualified in September 2020. Zeyang has also worked on secondment in the EU Competition & Regulatory Affairs practice of Baker McKenzie's Brussels office.

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Emily Thomson is an associate at the Firm's London office and is a member of the International Commercial & Trade and Antitrust & Competition practice groups. She completed her Law degree at York University, then a Legal Practice Course (LLM) from BPP University in 2019. Emily joined Baker McKenzie as a trainee in September 2019, qualifying in September 2021.

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Sven Bates is Of Counsel for International Trade at Baker McKenzie. He has spent the majority of his career at the Firm's London office, focusing on international trade compliance, trade remedies and anti-bribery. He has also practiced in Amsterdam and has previously worked for the European Commission and the Shadow Attorney General. Sven has extensive experience in particular in the financial services sector, and has undertaken secondments at a Tier 1 UK bank and the Lloyd's insurance market.

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Olof König is a member of Baker McKenzie's International Commercial & Trade Group in Stockholm. His main practice areas are export, import and sanctions compliance. Mr. König joined the Firm in 2010.

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Terry Gilroy is a partner in the New York office of Baker McKenzie and a member of the Compliance and Investigations Practice Group. Prior to joining the Firm in 2018, Terry served as Americas Head of the Financial Crime Legal function at Barclays. Terry advises businesses and individuals on white collar and financial crime issues and has significant experience conducting investigations relating to compliance with the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) and related bribery and corruption statutes, economic sanctions regulations as administered by the US Department of the Treasury's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), and the Bank Secrecy Act and related anti-money laundering (AML) regulations and statutes. Terry spent six years on active duty in the United States Army as a Field Artillery officer.

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Meera Rolaz is an associate at Baker McKenzie's Antitrust, EU & Trade Law and Compliance & Investigations Practice Groups in Zurich. She is also part of the Data & Technology team. After graduating from Oxford University with a Bachelor of Arts and a Master degree, she completed her LLB at the London University of Law and qualified as a UK solicitor in 2016. She worked over 7 years at Baker McKenzie in London and has spent time in the Amsterdam office before joining Baker McKenzie Zurich in 2022. Meera is bilingual in French and English.

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Courtney is an associate in the Competition, Trade and Foreign Investment practice group, with a focus on trade and foreign investment matters across a range of sectors. She joined Baker McKenzie in 2022 from another large international law firm where she also advised on a range of international trade matters, including a three year secondment to the trading entity of a global energy major. During her training, Courtney also spent six months on secondment at a multinational FMCG company where she advised on a range of matters concerning household brands, including in respect of commercial contracts, protection of intellectual property, product regulation and competition law.

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Ben Smith is a Partner in Baker McKenzie’s London office and a member of the firm’s Compliance & Investigations and International Trade practice groups. Both these practices are ranked Tier 1 by Legal 500 UK. Ben joined the London office of Baker & McKenzie in September 2007. He has also worked in Baker McKenzie's San Francisco and Brussels offices, as well as on secondment to the legal and compliance teams at three FTSE 100 UK plcs. The Legal 500 UK ranked Ben as a “Rising Star”, noting “Ben Smith is a pleasure to work with. Professional, knowledgeable and always ready to assist with practical solutions.”

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Kana Itabashi is a member of the Corporate/M&A practice group at the Firm's Tokyo office and a member of Global International Commercial & Trade practice group. Kana has over twenty years of legal experience and has broad experience advising multinational companies in various industries on international trade and cross border commercial issues, including trade remedies, export control, sanctions, import/export regulatory issues, as well as highly regulated commercial agreements.
Prior to joining the firm, she worked as a junior accountant at a major auditing firm, where she mainly performed accounting audits for listed companies, etc. From 2007 to 2009, she was seconded to the principal investment department of a major Japanese securities company, where she was involved in private equity investments, emissions trading and various other investment projects.

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Julia Webster is a disputes and international trade lawyer. She advises companies on trade remedies, free trade agreements, blocking measures, customs compliance, anti-corruption laws, economic sanctions, AML compliance, supply chain ethics, and cross-border M&A.

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Andrew joined Baker McKenzie's London office as a trainee in 2015 and qualified in 2017. His practice concentrates on compliance with EU/UK trade regulations, as well as anti-bribery and antitrust. Andrew previously was previously seconded to Baker McKenzie's European Competition Law Practice in Brussels.

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Michael Amberg is a US-qualified senior associate in the International Commercial & Trade Practice Group in Baker McKenzie’s London office. He advises multinational clients on economic sanctions, export controls and restrictions on foreign investment.

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Johanna Asplund is an associate at the Firm’s London office in the Competition, Trade and Foreign Investment Practice Group. She completed her degree in International Relations from London School of Economics then a Graduate Diploma in Law and Legal Practice Course (LLM) from BPP University in 2019.

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Kimberley Fischer is a member of the International Trade Practice in Baker McKenzie's Berlin office. She joined the Firm in 2022. Kimberley studied law at the Ruprecht Karls University of Heidelberg and the Universidad de Deusto (Spain), with a focus on public international law and human rights. Prior to joining the Firm, Kimberley completed her legal traineeship at the Higher Regional Court of Frankfurt am Main, the German Federal Foreign Office in Berlin and at an international law firm in Brussels and Frankfurt am Main. She also gained significant experience in public (international) law as a research assistant at the University of Heidelberg and at a reputable law firm.

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