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Canada-US Cross Border Business Affairs

The cross-border relationship between Canada and the US is still the world's largest and most successful - but it requires fresh thinking and a and more sophisticated approach to meet emerging challenges.

For many Canadian companies, the United States remains the most important market, for product placement, expansion, and business partnerships. But since the signing of the North American Free Trade Agreement in 1994, global forces have changed the competitive landscape. Our practice offers the complete range of legal and regulatory services as well as political outreach in Washington, DC.

Our Team

The ArentFox Schiff Canada-US Cross Border Business Affairs practice is co-chaired by Birgit Matthiesen, a former Canadian Embassy senior executive on border and US market access issues and a well-known advocate in both countries, and David Hamill, who has represented Canadian clients on various international trade matters in private practice and worked on NAFTA implementation issues while at the US Treasury Department.

In addition to attorneys who have represented Canadian interests in a multitude of disciplines, the team includes former members of Congress who chaired key trade committees on Capitol Hill, and former executive agency officials who dealt with legal and regulatory issues important to Canadian companies. Individually and collectively, we bring to the practice their knowledge, advice, and ability to look past the horizon to offer our clients doing business in the United States with the strategic advice they will need in an ever evolving and competitive North American marketplace.

Our Focus

  • Import compliance
  • Buy American
  • Cross-border transaction
  • Customs audits

We also bring to bear other aspects from the firm’s key disciplines, including corporate, finance and investment, intellectual property, product branding, international trade policy, international arbitration, export controls, and US business tax requirements. We are equally pleased to have strong relationships with some of the best law firms in Canada.

The Changing US Marketplace: What Canadian Companies Need to Know

  • How an aggressive US trade negotiation agenda will affect Canadian companies doing business in the United States, particularly changes in product rules of origin and corporate social responsibility practices.
  • What US business tax reform proposals could mean for Canadian companies.
  • How and when new “Buy American” legislation may be introduced in Congress and strategic advice on product compliance and procurement approaches.
  • How Canadian companies can best position themselves to meet ever stringent product safety requirements.
  • With growing third-country import competition in the US market, how to defend trademark infringement and filing/prosecuting patent applications.
  • How to defend the company in US trade remedy investigations.
  • How changes in US transfer pricing can affect a company’s cross-border transactions.
  • Why corporate officers should fully understand the changing corporate compliance requirements in the United States, including their fiscal and legal exposure.

Our firm is an active participant in many US and Canadian business associations, including the American Association of Exporters & Importers, the Global Business Dialogue, Canada’s Importers & Exporters Association (IE Canada), and the Canadian American Business Council. In addition, our Canadian practice members are frequent speakers before these groups and often work closely with the Canadian Embassy in Washington as well as the many Canadian consulates throughout the United States.

Our Work

Representative Engagements

ArentFox Schiff has represented numerous Canadian private sector entities on various aspects of issues that arise when Canadian companies conduct manufacturing operations in the US or ship their products to US customers. In addition, we represent many US multinational corporations that have Canadian affiliates or operations for which US-Canada cross border issues frequently arise. We also have advised the Canadian Embassy, Canadian provinces, and Ottawa on various trade matters.

Descriptions of some of our key representations are as follows:

  • Advise several Canadian companies in the food and cosmetic, automotive, pharmaceutical, transportation and logistics, heavy equipment, oil and gas, mining, and consumer products industries on various customs issues, including enforcement, compliance and risk management review, and admissibility matters.
  • Assist several Canadian companies, both start-ups and well-established entities, planning to expand into the US. These services have included setting up legal residence in the United States, advising on “Buy American” strategy and government procurement, and compliance with US regulatory requirements administered by numerous federal agencies, such as US Customs and Border Protection and the Food & Drug Administration.
  • Counsel Canadian exporters and producers on NAFTA duty preference, marking, and US Customs verification of NAFTA claims.
  • Advise Canadian oil and petroleum companies on special rules involving NAFTA qualification of bulk liquid and gas products.
  • Represent Canadian companies concerning US intellectual property matters, including patent and trademark issues.
  • Prepare guidance with respect to US antitrust guidance for Canadian trade association with US members and interests.
  • Represent provincial government and various Canadian producers in softwood lumber dispute.

Protecting Data and Cross Border Competitive Edge

The data landscape is rapidly changing across North America, with new threats and regulations developing daily. With this new reality, we know protecting a company’s data means protecting a company’s brand. In partnership with our Cybersecurity & Data Protection practice, we advise on the biggest trends in privacy and data security.

Closing the Gap

Our team can assist in closing the gaps by leveraging our proven track record in advising industry stakeholders and providing our expert analysis of US trade rules. We work with business executives to help them understand the nexus of policy-making and global supply chains. Led by former senior government attorneys from key trade agencies (e.g. CBP, DOT, DHS, Treasury), and complemented by licensed customs brokers and a core group of non-legal professionals, our team translates the complex arena of trade law into strategic business practices.

Every company and every product is different; and so are the strategies for near and long-term advantage. These include:

  • Mitigating the effect of high US tariffs, such as Section 301 China duties, through tariff exclusion requests, product origin and classification analysis, and supply chain restructuring.
  • Increasing the competitiveness of a company’s electric mobility products in the US market by an analysis of USMCA qualification status, i.e., the ArentFox Schiff USMCA Diagnostic.
  • Determining a company’s product’s eligibility under the Trade Agreement Act (TAA) for federal government procurement.
  • Taking advantage of duty-savings programs like duty drawback or special tariff classification (Chapter 98).
  • Adopting reasonable care and liability standards to your supply chain to mitigate the risk of onerous CBP and government agency enforcement actions.
  • Contracting effectively within a company’s supply chain (suppliers and logistics service providers) for the movement of goods into the US.

Key Contacts