Trade is a highly politicised issue, so it is surprising that it is not a bigger area of business for consultancies and law firms than it actually is. Moreover, the EU is the world’s biggest exporter of manufactured goods and services, and it is the biggest import market for over 100 countries.
Thanks to the Commission’s powerful competencies in EU trade law, businesses are sometimes involved in trade defence measures, primarily anti-dumping and anti-subsidy actions against imports from countries outside the EU. China is often at the centre of these disputes and this poses a challenge for multinational companies who often do not support legitimate trade complaints against China because of its market potential, and for fear of retaliation and the potential interruption of supply chains. Free Trade Agreements have also been a source of trade business for firms representing sectors, standing to gain or lose from their conclusion.
Brexit has not yet generated substantial amounts of Brussels lobbying work outside certain specific sectors like financial services and aviation. However, many of Brussels’ public affairs consultancies and law firms have set-up Brexit practices as their clients ask for more analysis and advisory services.