The Challenge

A large European agri-food exporter has asked FIPRA to assist them in a dispute against the national customs authorities in a third country with which the EU has a Free Trade Agreement (FTA). The client’s claim for preferential treatment of its products had been challenged by the authorities on procedural grounds.

The FIPRA Approach

FIPRA developed together with the client a government affairs strategy to assist them in dealing with all aspects of the case including active intelligence-gathering, drafting of injury submissions, preparation of and attendance at meetings with Commission officials overseeing the EU’s trade defence policy, as well as opening and maintaining a constructive channel of communication with the case handler in charge of the file. Separately, we monitored ongoing discussions and regulatory developments in competent Council Working Groups and trade working parties under the EU FTA, reporting relevant findings and developments to the client.

To support and complement our EU engagement activities, FIPRA leveraged its extensive Network and worked closely with its local partners to get first-hand intelligence relating to on-the-ground developments in the case, and seized key opportunities to meet with officials in the national administration concerned and articulate the views of the client.

The Outcome

Key outcomes have been secured, including: we raised awareness of the validity of the case among relevant stakeholders, notably within the European Commission; we elevated the case to a higher profile, and helped the customs authorities to understand and more importantly acknowledged the validity and soundness of the claim.