Global Trade and Tax

Global Trade and Tax

GCC countries are rapidly reforming their global trade and tax regimes

Customs and Tax authorities are increasingly robust and sophisticated in passing new laws and pursuing higher revenues, leaving businesses with adverse findings, unclear rationale, limited response time, large assessment amounts and even suspended operations.

Each tax authority has written and likely unwritten rules, interpretations and policies, nuanced regulations, customs, and manners of different government officials or offices to be considered.

New legislation rollouts, supply chain challenges, global tax changes and constant revenue initiatives require client adaptation, not to mention pressing timelines. These context-specific factors mean companies must survive and succeed in a rapidly-changing, highly administrative and challenging trade and tax environment.

Our specialized team of internationally trained lawyers are vastly experienced in the bespoke GCC challenges in global trade and tax law and in assisting our clients navigate, comply and prosper in this region.

Technical Service Areas in Global Trade Law

Global trade Law is a highly technical, multi-faceted discipline and constitutes the framework governing the trade of goods and services across international borders. In this area, businesses require advice on the applicable laws to compliantly and efficiently move their goods between borders, while considering the fiscal, non-fiscal, documentary, trade regulations, controls, duties, taxes, penalties and restrictions applicable.

Our specialized team of internationally trained lawyers are vastly experienced in global trade law. We pride ourselves on trusted relationships with key government entities, legal forums, key stakeholders, alliance law firms and consulting firms in the region, while we leverage lobbying efforts and develop creative legal solutions to meet our clients needs. This gives us the regional competitive advantage and a specialized strategic edge, in our aim to collaborate and provide you with astute, specialized and technical legal support.

Our range of services include:

  • Internal customs compliance reviews
  • Customs audit legal strategy and support
  • Authorized Economic Operator advisory and certification
  • Customs valuation and transfer pricing advisory
  • HS classification (including major client and government projects)
  • Rules of Origin – Qualification and sustainability
  • Free trade agreements maximization
  • Duty planning and customs duty exemptions
  • Supply chain and commercial transactions design
  • Trade related contractual planning
  • Transport and movement of goods and related matters
  • Import of high value assets (military, vessels, aircraft, equipment, yachts)
  • Free zones, logistics and brokerage legal advisory
  • Applications for refunds, temporary admission, rebates etc.
  • Trade remedies advisory – Anti-dumping, safeguard measures and countervailing measures
  • Export controls
  • Cross border litigation and arbitration including sanctions and forums
  • Litigation on all international trade matters which may include:
    • Merits analysis and strategic planning
    • Audit assistance, objections, and strategic advisory services
    • Initiations of claims against the customs authority and related appeals
    • Litigation to the higher courts
    • Post ruling advisory, compliance, and implementation planning
  • Government and Public Sector advisory (advice to the government entity)
  • Government lobbying
  • Contractual drafting, review and structuring of tax related agreements
  • Training and Standard Operating procedures development
  • Legal and customs due diligence
  • Related regulatory and global trade law guidance
  • Debt collection and insolvency strategies

Technical Service Areas in Tax Law

Tax Law is a highly technical discipline with significant financial implications. GCC countries, like other jurisdictions, apply both direct and indirect taxes. Businesses require that their legal advisors have the technical capability and experience in the GCC to advise on the most tax compliant and tax efficient structure, while mitigating leakage.

Our specialized team of internationally trained lawyers are vastly experienced in tax law. We pride ourselves on trusted relationships with key government entities, legal forums, key stakeholders, alliance law firms and consulting firms in the region, while we leverage lobbying efforts and develop creative legal and tax solutions to fit client needs. This gives us the regional competitive advantage and a specialized strategic edge, in our aim to collaborate and provide you with astute, specialized and technical legal support. Our areas of technical advisory include income tax, zakat, withholding tax, excise tax, real estate transaction tax and VAT, and related technical aspects such as transfer pricing, permanent establishments and double taxation agreements:

  • Internal tax review & compliance audits
  • Pre-audit defence planning and risk mitigation
  • Technical bespoke opinions, review and advisory on tax legal implications
  • Legal and tax due diligence
  • Litigation on all tax matters which include:
    • Merits analysis and strategic planning
    • Audit assistance, objections, and strategic advisory services
    • Initiations of claims against the tax authority and related appeals
    • Litigation to the higher courts
    • Post ruling advisory, compliance, and implementation planning
  • Permanent establishment or related party analysis
  • Tax driven corporate structuring
  • Private wealth tax structuring
  • Contractual drafting, review and structuring of tax related agreements
  • Government and Public Sector lobbying
  • Standard Operating procedures development
  • Related regulatory and tax law guidance
  • Training
  • Debt collection and insolvency strategies

Trade and Tax Litigation

The global trade and tax regional landscape requires attorneys that possess high levels of technical legal expertise on the global trade and tax requirements in the region, with proficient legal advocacy skill and rights of access to critical legal forums. We are, foremost, practitioners of the law, able to understand the legal framework, legal process and climate that our clients operate within, analyse and apply the technical concepts as embedded in the law, and defending our clients with experience, technical skill and clear Arabic articulation of the technical concepts. We have successfully advised and defended our multinational and large business clients in appropriate courts and forums on their global trade and tax challenges in the region, across multiple GCC countries. We are your trusted global trade and tax counsel and litigators, able to provide legal and privileged advice to you, and defend your position from commencement of dispensing it, all the way to the highest courts and international tribunals without any restrictions (or handovers). We thus offer you global trade and tax advisory with substance in law, through a team of internationally trained, bilingual and skilled lawyers.

We provide our clients with strategic legal tax and global trade advice and representation which include, highly technical legal opinions, audits legal support, assessment of legal sustainability of defense positions taken to the relevant authority or at the relevant tax court or objection/appeal committees. The technical areas advised on include global trade law, sanctions laws, export controls laws, valuation, HS classification, franchise fees, intellectual property law, income tax law, transfer pricing law, excise tax law, withholding tax law, zakat law, VAT law etc. The companies we advise include multinationals in the trading, software, technology, digital products, FMCG, tobacco, life sciences, pharmaceutical, distribution, food, oil and gas, e-commerce, automotive, electronics, shipping and energy sectors.

Our Selected Experience and Credentials

Our selected experience and credentials in Global Trade law matters

  • Advised a leading UK-based tobacco manufacturer in connection with its tobacco shipment that was withheld by a certain GCC customs authority.
  • Advised leading tobacco manufacturer on all legal, trade and regulatory requirements for successfully landing and selling novel tobacco products across all GCC countries.
  • Advised a consumer goods conglomerate in connection with the discrepancy claim assessed by a certain GCC customs authority in relation to certain FMCG products imported by the conglomerate.
  • Assist foods industry multinational on customs duty refund application and litigation against a certain GCC customs authority.
  • Advised a French multinational personal care company in connection with customs related issues against a French multinational retailer of personal care and beauty products.
  • Advised and supported major UAE exporter on trade and sanctions requirements and defending case against our client in the UAE courts.
  • Advised a UAE-based engineering and contracting company in connection with the discrepancy claim assessed by a certain GCC customs authority in relation to certain products imported by the company.
  • Advised a global manufacturing and FMCG company in connection with customs exemptions related matters before a GCC customs authority.
  • Advised a major group subsidiary in connection with customs valuation issues arising out of its import of products from another importer in a certain GCC country
  • Advised life sciences company on detention of their goods at a certain GCC customs authority including the merits of the matter to defend their case at the relevant dispute committee.
  • Advised various multinational companies including in pharmaceutical, FMCG, oil and gas and tobacco industries on the GCC and GAFTA rules of origin and local value add requirements for import of goods from Egypt and MENA countries into GCC and advice on how to set up factories, distributors and obtain preferential treatment, industrial exemptions and savings on goods into the GCC and MENA. Also assisted such entities on advisory relating to disputes with customs authorities in the region.
  • Advised multinationals in the FMCG, food, tobacco, oil and gas and chemicals industries on technical classification opinions regarding their goods.
  • Advised major international media company on customs free zone reconciliation audit, and provided audit strategic support
  • Advised international government agency on implementing and defending trade remedies such as anti-dumping, safeguards and non-tariff barriers to protect the local manufacturing industry from harmful imports.
  • Advised various companies on achievement bonded and free zone benefits, temporary admission and industrial exemption benefits in the GCC and MENA region and assisting in set up requirements including related litigation.
  • Involved in furnishing views to a certain GCC government on enhancing its free zone and special economic zones from a benchmark perspective in order to design its legislative framework.
  • Advised on various technical and policy aspects on international trade, trade negotiations, trade facilitation, customs compliance, trade incentives and trade remedies. Provided legal and technical advice to high level government officials including, Governor(s), Minister(s) and Commissioner(s) on Trade on legal and economic policy on WTO law, customs and excise law, related tax law, export controls, subsidies, rebates, export incentive programs and international trade negotiations with sovereign states.
  • Led highly technical project furnishing and designing the valuation department operating model for a leading GCC customs authority in the GCC region. The project included a current state assessment of the customs valuation division, designing valuation organizational principles and processes, making recommendations pertaining to valuation methodology and governance and organizational reform.
  • Assisted on study and data revenue analysis as Subject Matter Expert for Governor of a certain GCC customs authority, highlighting area of risk for revenue leakage, quantifying revenue leakage, ascertaining recoverable revenue leakage amounts possible, advising on steps to regularize the current state assessment, such as legislative reform, introduction of public directives, increasing technological and technical capacity and identifying areas of enhancements.
  • Led customs project with major GCC customs authority, analyzing and reporting on the potential areas of manipulation in the country’s HS tariff book, suggesting benchmark and international measures to mitigate such potential HS code and customs duty abuse and revise the customs tariff accordingly.
  • Provide strategic trade law advice to multinational clients and governments related to their activities, including international trade of goods and services, related laws and regulatory compliance for import and local sale, export requirements, controls and sanctions, incorporation and supply chain design, international and local tax implications relating corporate strategies or activities, related contractual review, advisory and litigation.

 

Our selected experience and credentials in tax law matters

  • Advise major GCC country distributor on transfer pricing regulations and related party risks, including aspects on effective control via business, debt and management, legality and tax implications interest loan advancing, including withholding tax implications on payments between related/affiliated entities
  • Advise major GCC technology company on applicability of withholding tax regulations to its foreign payments, including laws pertaining to intellectual property
  • Advise high net worth family office on tax efficient corporate structuring, sharia law and gifts having regard to applicable real estate tax implications and tax mitigation
  • Advise Dutch entity on legal and tax implications on incorporation of company in GCC country mainland, and pursuant sale of shares with related tax implications, also having regard to applicable double taxation treaties
  • Advise major distribution entity on implications of new income tax laws from both a mainland and free zone perspective, in relation to transactions with Cyprus and French related entities, also having regard to any applicable double taxation treaties
  • Advise major automotive multinational company on economic substance requirements and representation at the relevant GCC tax authority
  • Advise major regional food delivery company on tax and economic substance compliance requirements and assess whether client is subject to economic substance requirements
  • Advised major software distributor on withholding implications pertaining payments between multiple GCC entities and providing advice in relation to related litigation
  • Provide legal and strategic advice to major technology and software distributor on applicable withholding tax and VAT laws and represented such distributor at a certain GCC tax dispute forum pertaining to withholding tax and VAT payments through eleven different disputes
  • Provide assistance to major software distributor relating to settlement negotiations with a certain GCC tax authority
  • Provide legal and strategic advice to major foods multinational distributor on applicable transfer pricing laws and represented such distributor at a certain GCC tax dispute forum
  • Provide legal and strategic advice to major GCC petroleum company on applicable Zakat laws, and represented such distributor at a certain GCC tax dispute forum pertaining to Zakat laws pertaining to 5 plus different disputes with the relevant tax authority
  • Advise major property investment entity on purchase of industrial property and warehouse, advise in relation to real estate transaction tax, VAT applicability to lease agreement, contractual drafting and invoicing in this respect
  • Provide legal and strategic advice to major automotive manufacturer regarding applicable transfer pricing laws, sustainability of arm’s length price, enhancing of legal submissions to the appropriate dispute forum, and represented client at a certain GCC tax dispute forum pertaining to the above matters
  • Advise financial services institution pertaining to legal and tax implications of loan facility furnished to its client
  • Advise foreign entity on legal, zakat and tax implications to shareholder’s agreement and distribution of dividends in this respect
  • Provide strategic tax law advice to multinational clients and governments related to their business activities, including international trade of goods and services.