Craig's Corner For Counsel: Global Trade

Monday, October 1, 2007 - 00:00

As The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel redoubles its efforts this month to provide information on practicing in a global world, I took the opportunity to call upon Ken Cutshaw, Alan Gutterman and Robert Brown to provide their insights on global trade for corporate counsel.

Ken is the Executive Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary of Cajun Operating Company and a former partner at Holland & Knight practicing in global transactions. He is the author of Corporate Counsel's Guide to Doing Business in China, 2d , Corporate Counsel's Guide to Doing Business in India, 2d , and Corporate Counsel's Guide to Doing Business in Russia .

Alan Gutterman and Robert Brown are co-authors of Going Global: A Guide to Building an International Business . Alan is General Counsel of ASI Computer Technologies, Inc., a Silicon Valley-based international distributor of computer products. Robert Brown is a member of the Louisville office of Greenebaum Doll & McDonald, where he represents emerging businesses. He is the current chair of the ABA Section of International Law, Africa/Eurasia Division.

Craig: Ken, what are the key elements corporate counsel should be mindful of today?

Ken Cutshaw: I'll try to highlight each country. It is imperative for any investor considering doing business in India in the form of foreign direct investment or a strategic alliance to understand the options available for establishing a presence in India as well as to decide on the most suitable business model.

In China, the body of law on companies, Company Law, provides for two types of companies that may be formed in China for engaging in business. They are a limited liability company and a company limited by shares, better known as a limited liability stock company.

The principal exports from Russia to the United States are metals, timber, chemicals, iron ore, natural gas, oil, and machinery. The highest growth exports from Russia are art and antiques, hydrocarbons, seafood, and building materials. Trade in commodities with Russia will expand in the future as technology becomes available to Russia, as Russia becomes more integrated into the world trading system and as economic models in Russia become more stable.

Craig: Robert and Alan, what should corporate counsel be aware of in the growing global trade sphere?

Robert Brown: Craig, we want to emphasize thinking proactively. Opportunities have expanded rapidly in foreign markets, even for the smallest U.S. businesses; however, each new market has its own unique requirements with respect to product characteristics and distribution. As a result, domestic firms must develop, almost from the time that they first launch their business, the capability to differentiate existing products to meet the needs of foreign markets, and they must also understand the distribution channels in those markets. To be effective in these areas, firms must bring in foreign market specialists and should also look for legal advisors with experience and contacts in those countries that are likely to be first on the list for global expansion.

Alan Gutterman: Improvements in communications have led to broad dissemination of advertising information, thereby influencing consumer tastes and preferences in foreign markets. U.S. businesses should be mindful that information on their products and brands will be available in foreign markets even before the firm is actively engaged in selling in those markets, and it is important for counsel to understand foreign trademark law and regulations on the content and form of advertising.

Thanks to Ken Cutshaw, Alan Gutterman and Robert Brown for sharing their insights with us this month. Each of their publications is available at west.thomson.com.

Additional information can be found in these Westlaw databases:

International Trade Law & Regulation: (INTTLR) Articles, news, and commentary from International Trade Law and Regulation, a bimonthly law journal covering developments in trade law that directly affect commercial activity, including news from trading blocks such as the World Trade Organization (WTO), the European Union and European Economic Area (EEA) institutions, and the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

International Government Contractor: (IGC) This database contains the full text of International Government Contractor, a monthly newsletter published by West that covers legal and policy developments in the area of international government contracting, including analysis of international procurement legislations and rules and regulations.

International Trade and U.S. Antitrust Law: (ITUSA) International Trade and U.S. Antitrust (2d ed.) discusses current U.S. statutes, regulations, and case law and explores how they apply to international competition, regulation, and litigation.