International trade specialist advises that lawyers proceed with caution

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By Linda Laderman
Legal News

Lawmakers should proceed cautiously when it comes to reevaluating the impact of trade agreements like NAFTA on American workers, said Butzel Long international trade and customs attorney Leslie Glick.

Glick joined Butzel Long as a shareholder in May, bringing with him more than 35 years of experience in the field of international trade and customs law.

“I specialized in an international law program in law school and was one of the founding editors of the Cornell International Law Journal,” said Glick, a graduate of Cornell Law School. “My first job, after a judicial clerkship, was with a law firm that represented steel exporters from Europe.”

With such a wide range of trade-related issues affecting every corner of the United States and its role in the global economy of 2017, “we have to be careful not to lump everything together,” Glick said.

Glick, who is also a registered lobbyist and author of several books and articles on trade, said the expansion of the global marketplace during the last half of the 20th century created a new awareness for the private and public sectors.

“The area of trade law has just exploded,” said Glick, who represents clients in the Americas, Europe and Asia. “When I first started no one knew anything about trade. Today such acronyms as NAFTA, TPP, ITC and USTR are household words. Consciousness of trade issues has skyrocketed.”

Six months into the current administration, Glick is helping his clients manage and understand their concerns stemming from statements made by President Trump about issues regarding NAFTA, a proposed border adjustment tax and an executive order, issued in March, that directs the office of the United States Trade Representative to investigate the status of countries with large trade surpluses.

“I’m getting e-mails from nervous clients 24 hours a day. New commerce department investigations on steel and aluminum imports have created uncertainty and anxiety,” Glick said. “The only thing that is certain is that nothing is certain. Clients are concerned about (the president’s) tweets and in what ways the current administration’s executive orders signal new and different trade policies.”

Glick said he consistently monitors the current environment for global commerce in order to give his clients a clearer picture of how trade policy will affect them going forward.

“I have encouraged my clients to come to Washington and meet with their representatives and senators and I have set up probably 50 meetings, mostly with the Michigan delegation,” Glick said. “My best advice is to be proactive. Don’t wait until it’s too late to set up compliance programs in trade and customs areas.”

When it comes to questions swirling around the future of NAFTA, Glick said the benefits of the North American Trade Agreement are many, though not as well known as they should be.

“People are largely unaware that NAFTA has created new jobs in the U.S. For example, one of my clients, a tier one supplier based in Mexico, has since NAFTA built a plant in Flint and one in Northwest Ohio near the Michigan border,” said Glick.

The American auto industry is an area that has realized positive results since the implantation of NAFTA, Glick, the author of “Understanding the North American Fair Trade Agreement,” said.

“NAFTA helps the U.S. auto industry, which is really North American, be more competitive by keeping jobs from going to China or Vietnam where few dollars flow back to the U.S. In contrast, 70 cents of every dollar coming from Mexico represent U.S. materials or technology.”

While Glick’s primary office is in D.C., he said he plans to be in the Detroit area on a regular basis as he works with Butzel Long’s automotive and trade and customs practice groups.

“I plan to be in Michigan frequently since one of my largest clients has facilities in Plymouth and Flint,” Glick said. “I am a member of the Butzel Long global automotive group and co-chair of their international trade and customs practice group and have brought my new automotive clients with me as well as working with their existing ones.”

Despite a decades long career as a trade and customs law attorney, Glick still possesses an ever-present enthusiasm for the job.

“I’m happy to have picked this area of law because the consciousness surrounding it today is different. It’s my job to follow new developments because not everyone can,” said Glick.

To that end, Glick has been defending companies in anti-dumping cases, lawsuits that he said are being encouraged by the new U.S. trade representative.

“I have been defending one importer in a new anti-dumping and countervailing duty case on steel tubes that are widely consumed in the automotive industry and attending congressional hearings on proposed legislation relating to autonomous vehicles and participating in various trade association activities,” Glick said.

“There is a lot of heightened concern in the automotive industry. We are hoping this trade stuff doesn’t have a big impact.”

 

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