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Arnoud Willems

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.

The e-commerce moratorium at the World Trade Organization (WTO) continues to provide fertile ground for discussions between WTO Members. In the most recent discussion round, held in April 2023 in the context of the WTO Work Programme on Electronic Commerce, WTO Members agreed there was a need for further discussions on the definition and scope of the moratorium, and on its implications on developing countries.

On 4 May 2023, Royal Excelsior Virton, a professional football club in Belgium’s second division, announced that it lodged a complaint against competing club SK Lommel with the European Commission under the new Regulation 2022/2560 on foreign subsidies distorting the internal market (“FSR”). This appears to be the first time the Commission is publicly asked to initiate an ex officio investigation under the FSR.

The European Union actively uses anti-dumping and anti-subsidy (or countervailing duty) investigations to protect the EU industry. Imports from Indonesia are a prime target for these investigations. Since 2003, imports from Indonesia were targeted in 15 anti-dumping and anti-subsidy investigations, and four of these investigations were initiated in the last three years.

A remarkable recent trend in trade policy is the pivot of countries towards issue-specific trade agreements. On the heels of standalone regional or bilateral digital trade agreements, countries are now exploring raw material access as the new frontier for bilateral trade cooperation – often in the context of the green transition.

On 9 November 2022, the US Department of Commerce revoked Russia’s market economy status for the purpose of US antidumping law. Russia’s re-designation as a non-market economy – an economy where prices are set by the government rather than through supply and demand – means that, in future antidumping cases, the DOC can use special dumping calculation methods that make it easier to impose antidumping duties, and to impose significantly higher duty rates, on imports from Russia.

On November 18, 2022, the US Department of Commerce (DOC) published a notice of a proposed change to its particular market situation (PMS) methodology.
Since the 2015 expansion of the DOC’s PMS authority, the DOC has been using the PMS methodology in the calculation of antidumping duty rates when it considers that there is a market distortion in the exporting country under investigation, such as the availability of low-priced energy, which reduces exporters’ costs of production.

On 14 September 2022, the EU Commission published its proposal for a regulation introducing a ban on the placing and making available on the EU market or export from the EU market of products made using forced labor. Following on from Commission President von der Leyen’s announcement of the proposed ban in her State of the Union Address last year, under the proposed regulation, products found to have been made using forced labor cannot be sold in, exported from or imported into the EU.

On 19 September 2022, the European Commission adopted a proposal that would give the EU sweeping new powers to address shortages and supply chain disruptions of crisis-relevant and strategic goods and services in times of crisis. The proposed Single Market Emergency Instrument (SMEI) is the latest in a series of EU measures that will impact supply chains, including new proposals for rules on foreign subsidies, corporate sustainability reporting and due diligence, carbon taxes, deforestation, and, most recently, a proposal to prohibit products made with forced labor from the EU internal market. Once adopted, the SMEI will impose far-reaching obligations on EU firms.