China’s Ministry of Commerce has chosen 27 overseas firms to serve on two new legal panels that will advise the country on international investment and trade disputes and other trade agreement matters.
The ministry early last month called for bids from firms to serve on a panel that would provide counsel on bilateral investment treaty disputes and economic and trade agreement negotiations, as well as one that would act on World Trade Organization and regional trade agreement disputes.
U.S firms have a significant presence on both panels. The first, which focuses on bilateral investment disputes, comprises 12 firms: Baker & McKenzie, Dechert, Jones Day, Sidley Austin, Squire Sanders, Steptoe & Johnson, and Arnold & Porter, as well as King & Wood Mallesons, Herbert Smith Freehills, Dentons, Canada’s Bennett Jones, and Sweden’s Mannheimer Swartling Advokatbyra.
A number of these firms were also named to the second WTO-related panel, including Baker & McKenzie, Bennett Jones, Dentons, Jones Day, Sidley Austin, Squire Sanders, and Steptoe & Johnson. But Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld, Hogan Lovells, Mayer Brown, London-based Holman Fenwick Willan, Australia’s Moulis Legal, and India’s Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan also put it winning bids. Atlanta-based Morris, Manning & Martin and Seattle firm Perkins Coie made the list as well.
The ministry also named 10 domestic Chinese firms to each panel, with King & Wood Mallesons serving on both of those panels as well.
China, the world’s second-largest economy, has seen itself on both sides of a number of trade disputes over the past year, largely handled through the WTO. In August, the WTO ruled that China had imposed unfair duties on some U.S. chicken products, and the country is currently facing two complaints from Japan and the European Union for allegedly imposing anti-dumping duties on their stainless steel seamless tube exports. At the same time, China brought its own complaint against the EU last November, alleging that Italy and Greece were blocking comeptition from Chinese solar power companies by favoring their own.
China is currently in negotiations for a number of trade agreements, including the United States and Australia, as well as a regional pact with Japan and Korea.