International Trade and Customs


With trade wars and Brexit making the headlines, the world of international trade and customs is in flux. To grow existing markets and access new ones, businesses need to be confident in the advice they receive to navigate the uncertainty.

By understanding the world you do business in we can help you to overcome the challenges presented right now in the global trade landscape. As governments and trade blocs look to forge new relationships through trade agreements, we can assist you in identifying opportunities to lower costs and shape the supply chain.

Expertise in Trade and Customs

Brexit: Customs & Trade

Brexit will cause a fundamental change in the way the UK trades with the EU. The guide is intended to provide practical advice to assist businesses to start to prepare for this change.

International Trade and Customs Services

Customs and trade specialists with expertise

[They are]… able to anticipate likely policy responses as well as advise on the law.Chambers UK

Our work has enabled us to provide our clients with a first-class understanding of this area of the law. Examples of past projects include:

  • Audit Support

    Assisting a high street retailer through a prolonged voluntary disclosure process. The disclosure involved a review of the classification of products and the implementation of a process for instructing freight forwarders. The client was able to avoid penalties of over £300,000.

  • Customs valuation

    Advising on the customs valuation to be applied at import following the re-organisation of a multi-national consumer products business. Working with our supply chain and contract law teams, we tested the supportability of the proposed value as an arms-length transaction for customs purposes.

  • Tariff Suspension Application

    Acting for an importer of fine chemicals for the oil and gas industry. We successfully applied for the suspension of EU customs duties on a highly technical product. This involved building a business case that demonstrated that the product could not be sourced on the EU domestic market.

  • Brexit

    Working with a major pharmaceutical company to assess the regulatory landscape post-Brexit and the impact for them on customs compliance. We advised on which entity could legally act as an importer/exporter of record, the data required to complete the import/export declaration and the process for an Authorised Economic Operator Application.

  • Trade Controls

    Conducting a pan European multi-site remote review of a Tier 1 supplier to the defence industry. Our team advised on any compliance risks with EU export controls legislation. We provided the Head of Legal and Compliance with an indication of sites that required a more comprehensive audit whilst ensuring business disruption was minimised.

Global recognition for customs and trade

"[The team's advice] is "very commercial, coherent and clear."Chambers UK

Recognised by a host of prestigious legal directories worldwide, our International Trade and Customs team have the expertise to advise you on both the opportunities and risks in this area.

Chambers and Partners ranks our Canadian team in tier two, highlighting its track record in handling litigation in the international trade arena. The team were recognised in the 2019 Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory for International Trade Regulation.

Our UK team are ranked by Legal 500 in tier three for EU and Competition: Trade, WTO Anti-Dumping and Customs, highlighting the "professional service with queries answered clearly".

Industry expertise

Our understanding of the international trade and customs landscape has taken our team to matters across industries. Our areas of sector expertise include:

Contact our international team

Our team of trade and customs specialists have the expertise and knowledge to support you with the challenges you face. Contact us today to navigate the uncertainty and find new opportunities.

Contact the team

Bernardine Adkins
Partner, Head of EU, Trade and Competition (UK)

Bernardine has over 25 years' experience in EU, trade and competition law. She provides strategic advice to clients before the European Commission and the Competition Markets Authority. Bernardine is utterly client-focused and brings the technical cutting edge to every matter on which she works.

Wendy J. Wagner
Partner (Canada)

Wendy's practice focuses on international trade law, as well as privacy, access to information and defamation law. She represents clients in matters involving trade and investment agreements, export controls and sanctions/embargoes, and all aspects of customs compliance.

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Contact us today

For advice on international trade and customs, contact a member of our team.

Contact the team


To succeed in a complex global marketplace, organizations need a legal partner with hands-on experience who can help them use trade agreements to their strategic advantage - and provide effective advice and proven solutions for the complicated compliance issues these agreements create.

From export controls and customs compliance to international trade litigation and government relations, the Gowling WLG International Trade Group takes the time to understand the unique challenges faced by each client, and creates customized solutions to help them achieve their business objectives.

Comprehensive coverage

Representing leading Canadian and foreign manufacturers, importers, exporters, industry associations and governments, our team delivers effective, practical solutions to a wide range of international trade issues, including:

  • Anti-dumping and countervail inquiries
  • Customs classification
  • Valuation and AMPS penalties
  • Import and export controls
  • Strategic use of trade and investment agreements, including WTO and NAFTA
  • Investor-state provisions of NAFTA Chapter 11

With particular expertise in trade-related intellectual property matters and issues related to the importation of food and natural health products, Gowling WLG is the right choice for complex international trade support.

A proven track record

As a client, you can be confident in our litigation track record of successfully representing clients before the Canadian International Trade Tribunal, the Federal Court of Canada, the Federal Court of Appeal and NAFTA panels.

As a result of our success, industry publications such as Chambers Global, International Who's Who of Trade & Customs Lawyers and The Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory consistently recognize our team's leadership in trade and customs law.

Unsurpassed experience

With a practice that includes members who directly assisted in the negotiation and implementation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and the Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, you can rely on the Gowling WLG International Trade Law Group to deliver unique, effective solutions to your trade concerns.

Learn more

To learn more about how we can support your international trade needs, please contact any member of our team.


Trading with certainty in uncertain times

In an ever-more globalised world, international trade law is increasingly relevant to companies of all sizes, presenting new challenges and opportunities.

Primarily based in our Brussels and London offices, and working closely with our Chinese offices, Gowling WLG's EU, Trade and Competition team advises clients on a range of EU, WTO and global trade issues. Through our international reach, we are well positioned to provide our clients with commercial and effective solutions based on the very latest developments in international trade law and policy.

The Gowling WLG EU, Trade and Competition team advise on a range of international trade law issues, including:

  • National, EU and WTO trade defence investigations, acting for both complainants and third country importers
  • EU Sanctions
  • Import and export controls
  • Incoterms and international trade contracts

To learn more about the opportunities international trade law can offer you, please do contact us.