Trade Agreement Negotiations & Analysis

SSA advises companies, industry groups and countries on FTAs negotiated with the United States, Canada, Mexico and the European Union, including the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), the Dominican Republic - Central America Free Trade Agreement (DR-CAFTA), and Canada-EU Trade Agreement (CETA). We also advise major companies and trade groups with regard to FTA negotiations including the recently concluded Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the ongoing Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (T-TIP). 

Our professionals understand the interaction of technical and political considerations in the FTA negotiation process and have significant, successful experience representing defensive and offensive interests in trade negotiations, enabling us to devise effective strategies and approaches to best position client interests throughout the process.   The firm’s principals bring unique perspectives and experiences from successful careers as trade officials and negotiators.   We have an excellent record working behind the scenes with decision makers to help clients achieve even the most challenging objectives in trade agreements.

Legislative Advocacy

SSA’s professionals have decades of experience as senior policy and legal advisors within Congress, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative, and the U.S. Departments of Labor and Commerce and the International Trade Commission, along with extensive international expertise with the European Commission, World Trade Organization (WTO), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), along with other international financial and trade organizations.   Our professionals also have senior corporate in-house experience that gives us the perspective on how to represent the needs of companies.

We apply our knowledge and capabilities to improve or effectively implement U.S. and international trade laws, including through trade litigation, preference programs, product classifications, tariff rates, and other legislative and regulatory initiatives.

Coalition Creation & Management

SSA’s strong relationship with government agencies, international organizations, corporations, industry associations, and non-governmental organizations enables to us create, coordinate, and lead multi-stakeholder coalitions and initiatives in order to address challenging issues in international trade rules and procedures.  We work with an extensive network to organize support within governments and the private sector to find solutions for the needs of clients, and overcome challenges that may exist.

Our professional expertise and result-oriented approach provides us with the ability to bring together diverse organizations and institutions to achieve common interests.  The innovative thinking and broad experience of our professionals allows us to help forge a consensus that often defies conventional wisdom and most do not think possible.

Preference program Legislation & product coverage

SSA has extensive experience in matters relating to U.S. preferential trade programs.  We engage with both the executive and legislative branch to extend and expand the coverage of preferential programs such as the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), including into new product categories.  Our professionals also play a leading role in economic analysis, drafting legislation, and working with policymakers, and other government officials to ensure  passage through Congress and implementation by the Executive Branch.  

We also have considerable expertise in developing and enacting trade preference legislation, such as the Haiti HELP and HOPE Acts.

Short Supply requests under free trade Agreements

SSA has an unsurpassed understanding of the procedures and provisions that govern short supply requests under FTAs.  Our expertise enables to identify the key elements relevant to short supply provisions in free trade agreements. We also have a strong working relationship with trade associations, government officials, and business leaders that are important stakeholders in short supply processes.

We assist our clients in creating and filing short supply requests, conducting the analysis, and engaging with key government and industry stakeholders. We use our knowledge and ability to mitigate potential obstacles, as well as work out solutions that lead to successful results.  For example we have developed successful petitions under CAFTA-DR, NAFTA and free trade agreements with Colombia and Korea.

Rules of origin & the Harmonized tariff schedule

SSA’s competence in trade matters also lies in our expertise on rules of origin and the harmonized tariff schedule.  We understand the political and economic necessities that influence the framing of specific rules of origin, and how they apply to tariff schedules, including product classifications and tariff rates. Our experience covers many trade sectors and allows us to provide practical advice for our clients.

Our experience in drafting free trade agreements and similar trade legislation allows us to rapidly interpret complicated trade rules, and distill their impact on business and industry practices around the world. Our analysis and assessments consistently inform and prepare our clients to successfully adapt to dynamic changes in the trade environment.

Global Supply Chain management

SSA is one of the foremost experts on managing global supply chains in the context of changing trade and labor dynamics.  We assess the impact of national and international laws, regulations and procedures, trade and other international agreements, preferential programs, and multi-stakeholder initiatives on geographically complex supply chains.  We also conduct region or country-specific risk assessments and similar analyses for our clients. Our advice and guidance provides our clients with the tools required to make critical, long-term, investment and management decisions. 

Corporate social responsibility

SSA’s specialized expertise in international labor standards and responsible and sustainable supply chains enables us to assist companies and associations on corporate social responsibility issues related to labor and environmental compliance, including crisis management. We have also advised numerous industry groups and individual companies in developing policies and procedures to address issues, including conflict minerals, factory safety, forced & child labor, trade union relationships, wage and benefit requirements, and occupational safety and health.  

Our firm also teams up with some of the world’s best public relations, media, and academicians to assess and improve the technical, economic, and social impact of trade and labor policies.  We also coordinate with governments and the private sector to develop and execute strategies that have a positive social impact on vulnerable workers around the world. 

labor chapter complaints under free trade agreements

SSA has a well-earned reputation as an influential and respected expert on labor chapters in FTAs, and the complaints filed under them.  We combine deep knowledge of international labor matters with unsurpassed experience with trade issues and extensive dispute settlement expertise. We possess a unique record of successfully advising clients on all dimensions and procedural stages of a labor submission or complaint. 

SSA provides strategic and policy advice to governments, companies, and industry organizations around the world with regard to labor disputes and other labor compliance issues. SSA professionals are well-positioned us to assist clients on proceedings involving the review of submissions concerning labor obligations under Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) and other mechanisms, such as the OECD guidelines or multi-stakeholder initiatives.

international Labor organization Policy & programs

SSA has considerable expertise and knowledge of the various mechanisms and programs of the International Labor Organization (ILO).  We have a core competency in advising our clients on the implications of numerous ILO conventions, complaint and dispute procedures, and other related initiatives.  Our professionals have also developed and implemented labor compliance programs in many countries in partnership with the ILO and the U.S. and other governments.

We also maintain a strong relationship with ILO officials around the world, which helps us assist our clients to partnering with the ILO and supporting its work.

Emerging sustainability issues

SSA’s decades of experience enables us to engage on innovative and sustainable solutions to some of the most difficult emerging sustainability issues.  We have long-standing relationships with industry leaders and senior policymakers in many countries around the world and have a well-earned reputation for pushing through meaningful enhancements that allow our clients to address issues of sustainability, population migration, and occupational health and safety.

We keep current on major sustainability developments and consistently provide updates and analyses to our clients, informing and preparing them for resulting changes in business and industry practices. We alsoprepare background assessments for our clients on various issues.  

Policy Monitoring & Analysis

SSA’s unique combination of government, political, and corporate experience enables us to provide strategic policy advice and analysis to multinational corporations and foreign governments. Our professionals are also selected repeatedly by their peers in the trade community to provide leadership, advice, and counsel on policy changes and their impact.

Our combined experience has taught us that a flexible team of subject matter experts can effectively assess national and sub-national policy disruptions and envisage their impact across a variety of industries and organizations.  The diverse backgrounds and specializations of our professionals are complementary and can combine to tackle various challenges, and our nimble and horizontal structure allows us to effectively approach a broad range of policy challenges for our clients. 

Foreign trade zone Approval

Foreign Trade Zones (FTZs) are a powerful tool that can help companies that import and export avoid paying unnecessary duties, improving cash flow and streamlining production. FTZs are specially designated location within the United States that allow for delayed or reduced duty payments to increase competitiveness.  FTZ applications must be approved by an interagency FTZ Board.  These petitions involve a technical process at the Departments of Treasury and Commerce, as well as Customs and Border Protection.  SSA has helped many companies navigate this process successfully, allowing these clients to more efficiently import raw materials and components for U.S. production.