Last year any impulse to trade remained out of the question due to the ongoing economic downturn, drastic devaluation of the Ukrainian hryvnia and the imposition of import duties, embargoes and trade restrictions. As a consequence, the legal services market had no alternative but to lose ground amid Ukraine’s trade slump. At the same time, legal analysis, assessment of risks and the search for new solutions are strongly sought after to address challenges that face businesses. However, legal advice with respect to customs regulation and special foreign trade sanctions remained as relevant as ever.
The domestic market saw significant efforts focused on finding solutions to balance the interests of metallurgists and scrap metal exports. There was an increase in the number of anti-dumping investigations between Ukraine and the Russian Federation. Ukraine imposed special measures in response to unfriendly and discriminatory actions of the Republic of Belarus and the Republic of Uzbekistan. The Russian Federation launched a WTO dispute against Ukraine regarding anti-dumping measures imposed by Ukraine on imports of ammonium nitrate, while Ukraine requested consultations with Russia as to certain measures imposed by the Russian Federation on the importation of railway rolling stock and railroad switches.
The role of legal counsel is gaining importance as businesses have begun seeking ways to protect their interests, including those that imply the use of new instruments of trade protection and promotion of products.
This year is likely to see a surge in demand on the part of domestic producers for the mechanisms of protection of internal market from EU imports. The foreign market will see continued pressure on businesses related to transit of cargo through the Russian Federation; the possibility exists that Moldova can impose restrictions on some Ukrainian imports worth USD 31 million.
The landmark legal event, however, is the establishment of a legal mechanism to involve legal counsels to protect Ukraine’s interests at the WTO Dispute Settlement Body and selection of arbitrators to set up arbitration groups as part of the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement.
The team of Sayenko Kharenko, as led by partner Dr. Tatyana Slipachuk, is well regarded for all major international trade law matters, including: agency and distribution, customs, franchising, legislation shaping; contractual structuring, trade remedies, WTO, and broad industrial expertise. The sizeable team handled more than 20 projects and acted for a diverse roster of foreign and domestic industries. In particular, the team represented the DF Group companies in court proceedings initiated by JSC Mineral Chemical Company EuroChem in order to abolish anti-dumping measures on imports into Ukraine of ammonium nitrate originating in Russia; and acts for Yenakiieve Iron and Steel Works and related companies (Group Metinvest) in an anti-dumping investigation related to imports into the Eurasian Economic Union of bars originating in Ukraine. The practice was strengthened with the arrival of Andrii Zablotskyi in February 2015, who was promoted to counsel. Anzhela Makhinova, counsel, is another important figure and receives endorsements for her experience of trade investigations.
Egorov Puginsky Afanasiev & Partners Ukraine is known for its extensive case load of trade investigations, representation of industrial conglomerates in trade disputes, as well as respective court proceedings. Among its strong performance highlights are representing a leading Ukrainian manufacturer and seller of fertilizer mixture in an anti-dumping investigation in the Customs Union; Ukrainian ferroalloy producers in anti-subsidy (countervailing) and anti-dumping investigations in the Customs Union against imports of ferrosilicomanganese from Ukraine as well as in anti-dumping review investigation in the US. Gleb Bialyi, who was promoted to a partner in July 2015, splits his time as head of the international trade and customs practice and co-head of domestic litigation practice at EPAP Ukraine.
The international trade practice at Ilyashev & Partners was launched in December 2014. The firm attracted Olena Omelchenko, who has considerable experience in this field (i.e. has been involved in conclusion of international trade agreements) and earned strong feedback from peers. Throughout the past year the instructions of clients included representation in anti-dumping and safeguard investigations, market access and customs matters. For example, the firm represented AGC Glass Company in an anti-dumping investigation regarding import of float-glass originating in Russia; and acted for ArcelorMittal Kryvyi Rih on the imposition of import restrictions on iron fittings by Egypt. Milkhail Ilyashev is a lead partner.
AstapovLawyers* international law group, which has offices in Ukraine, Russia and Kazakhstan, handles market access, WTO law, anti-dumping cases. The firm has recently been increasingly involved in advisory on the EU trade regime and FTA, Customs Unions regime, legal status of Crimea. Significant clients include KVV Group, Krym-Cement, British American Tobacco, Turkish Clothing Manufacturers’ Association, Turkish Automotive Industry Exporters’ Association. The group advised crushed store producers on a potential WTO case against Russia for discriminatory licensing regulation. The practice is supervised by partner, head of corporate and M&A Oleh Malskyy.
With an established reputation for international and local industrial majors, Asters is often the point of choice for structuring of cross-border supply operations, setting up comprehensive structures, advising on tariff barriers, customs procedures, transit and logistics, food safety, economic sanctions. Over the past year the firm has been enlisted to advise clients and structure deals with reference to WTO practices and Association Agreements, free trade agreements. Svitlana Chepurna and Tetiana Gryn are the key figures of the practice.
Arzinger is a knowledgeable counsel in the support of supply contracts, contractual structuring, distribution, restructuring of indebtedness, product liability disputes. The team’s clients come from different industries, i.e. agriculture, food and beverages, machine building, oil and gas, etc. The firm is currently instructed by Puratos, a leading company in its field in the food industry, for structuring of Ukrainian distribution networks and intra-network debt restructuring. Lana Sinichkina, a Kiev-based partner, supervises support of operational export-import activity; Markian Malskyy, Lviv-based partner, is focused on WTO and GATT issues, international sale of goods and services; Andriy Selyutin, Odessa-based partner, deals mainly with contractual issues, sanctions, cross-border shipping and currency regulation.
With its sound clientele, Baker & McKenzie advises on export control, economic sanctions, free trade agreements, WTO, customs issues. The firm is empowered by clients for contract structuring assignments and to manage their relationships with third-party suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and sales agents, delivering advice on compliance issues across the supply chain, product labeling requirements, product liability and recalls, and sales promotion and marketing rules across countries. Two partners, Serhiy Chorny and Ihor Olekhov, manage the 4-lawyer team.
AEQUO developed its trade practice focusing on customs law and contractual structuring of complex foreign trade transactions, including distribution, franchising, supply, customs and tax matters. The firm recently provided comprehensive legal support to leading Portuguese franchisor Sonae on afranchising project in Ukraine. The team is chosen for advising on customs issues to Ukrainian importers and foreign exporters in relation to the Free Trade Agreement with the EU and on recently-imposed trade restrictions with Russia. Denis Lysenko, managing partner, leads the trade, customs/tax team. Corporate partner Anna Babych guides commercial field, while Oleksandr Tereshchenko, associate, is another active member of the group on trade, customs and transportation matters.
Attorneys’ Association Gestors has a sharp focus on trade remedies and market access matters. The practice as led by associated partner Yaroslav Snigur represented Trading House Gomelglass-Ukraine and PJSC Gomelglass (Belarus) in the framework of interim revision of anti-dumping measures as regards import of float-glass originating in Russia, Poland and Belarus into Ukraine.
In 2015 AGA Partners demonstrated its active position in the promotion of free trade development in Ukraine. The firm’s core focus is support of agricultural holdings. For example, PJSC Rise (Ukrlandfarming Group), State Food Grain Corporation of Ukraine, NCH Capital Inc. Among the distinct features of the team is extensive track record of GAFTA and FOSFA arbitration cases. The team includes Aminat Suleymanova, Ivan Kasynyuk and Irina Moroz.
As a vivid arbitration player ARBITRADE maintains a commodities arbitrations focus. The team of Yuliya Chernykh represents its long-standing client, PJSC State Food and Grain Corporation of Ukraine, in a series of arbitrations at the GAFTA arbitration and EFKO-Trade LLC in a FOSFA arbitration.
Given strong tax and customs experience, the international trade team of Attorneys Association PwC Legal constantly advises on import and export procedures, structuring foreign trade, compliance, non-tariff restrictions, etc. Clients include customarily sound names, like Toshiba, Fujikura Automotive Europe SA, Heraeus Electro-Nite Ukraine to name a few. The practice is led by Denis Shendryk, senior manager.
Gramatskiy & Partners focuses on developing a comprehensive structuring ofexport and import operations for a range of items (commodities, agricultural goods, technological equipment, etc). In 2015 the firm expanded its services for certifying Ukrainian products for export to Germany and Poland, customs and transit issues. International logistics, freight, stevedores, as well as traders, exporters and importers, trade finance institutions are among its clients. The firm is experienced in contractual structuring for different items, ranging from agricultural commodities and up to technological equipment. Andrii Trembich supervises the practice team.
FCLEX handles legal support of cross-border contracts to its consistent clientele. The firm is a legal counsel to Ferrexpo AG, Arterium Corp., AutoKrAZ in connection with their export operation. Among recent notable projects is advisory to Trade House R&R Kommodis for the recovery of prepayments due on cross-border supply agreements. Andriy Nikitin is the main contact.
IMG Partners provides advice on market access, structuring of trade contracts and representation in disputes. Clients include companies from Iran, Azerbaijan, Kuwait, Egypt and other countries interested in developing trade in the future with Ukraine. It recently represented the interests of Iranian companies aimed at concluding contracts for agrarian products supply from Ukraine. Ihor Melnyk, managing partner, is the main contact.
With its headquarters in Odessa, Interlegal has its core focus on shipping, transportation and logistics, cross-border trade. The firm is often instructed to handle product liability disputes, reimbursements of payments and damages, shipping related controversy. Associated partners Artem Skorobogatov and Natalya Myroshnychenko are the main practitioners.
Jurimex Law Firm is known primarily for structuring specific contracts in the tourism field. Constant client Travel Professional Group enlisted the firm on a wide array of related issues. Another important practice is support in the cross-border supply of agricultural commodities. Tatiana Prychepa, head of practice for economic and contractual law, is the main point of contact.
Dnepropetrovsk-based Dynasty Law Firm supports cross-border trade contracts and debt recovery under foreign-economic contracts.