Commodities & International Trade

International trade laws are the regulations and treaties that ensure smooth commercial interactions between nations. It is imperative that businesses involved in cross-border trade have a deep and adept understanding of these laws, including regional trade nuances, tariffs, quotas, and more.

Oon & Bazul is a law firm with legal acumen in international trade law offering legal expertise to businesses engaged in global commerce. We regularly advise the world’s largest trading houses on all aspects of international trade, including disputes relating to the international sale of goods, trade finance, insurance, shipping and logistics.

Our expertise covers a wide array of commodities like coal, oil and petroleum products, petrochemicals, biofuels, grain, feed and legumes, metals, coal and sugar. We also have experience in paper trading of commodities and associated financial trades, including futures and derivatives. We also regularly advise our clients on various regulatory and compliance issues as the need arises, including sanctions.

Our lawyers assist clients in all transactional stages, from drafting sale contracts to handling trade finance, cargo insurance, and carriage contracts. Additionally, we guide clients on regulatory and compliance matters, including sanctions. Beyond trade deals, we represent clients in commodities disputes in Singapore Courts and international arbitration, under institutions like SIAC, SCMA, and trade associations like GAFTA,FOSFA, RSA and PORAM.

Services In international Trade and Commodities Law

Commodities, by their very nature, are intrinsic to our global economy. They constitute raw materials that power industries, nurture populations, and catalyse growth. Given their significance, trade of commodities span vast geographical expanses and often involve intricate contractual relationships and complex regulatory frameworks.

International trade and commodities law is as multifaceted as the commodities themselves, and Oon & Bazul has positioned itself at the forefront of this discipline, offering legal services that span the entire gamut of commodities. We offer comprehensive services including:

The energy sector, inclusive of oil, gas, coal, and more recently renewables, is marked by volatility, geopolitical nuances, and environmental considerations. Oon & Bazul aids stakeholders in navigating this dynamic space, from structuring exploration agreements to dealing with trans-border pipeline disputes.

The global agricultural ecosystem encompasses a variety of products, from grains to soft commodities like cocoa and coffee. Oon & Bazul assists clients in framing watertight trade contracts, ensuring quality standards, and addressing issues related to storage, transport, and international trade barriers.

Crafting contracts that are both robust and flexible is crucial in the commodities world. The firm’s expertise lies not just in drafting these agreements but also in negotiation, ensuring that clients secure terms that are favourable and mitigate potential risks.

As the commodities trade often traverses international borders, it is subject to a myriad of local and international regulations. Oon & Bazul has an astute understanding of these regulatory frameworks, guiding clients in ensuring that every transaction is compliant, thereby averting potential legal pitfalls.

Given the high stakes involved in commodities trading, disputes are inevitable. Whether it’s a payment default, quality dispute, or breach of contract, Oon & Bazul’s seasoned legal team offers both litigation and arbitration services, drawing upon their deep reservoir of experience to safeguard client interests.

Commodities markets are intrinsically linked to global economic factors, making them susceptible to price fluctuations. Oon & Bazul advises on risk mitigation strategies, encompassing both contractual mechanisms and financial instruments, to ensure that clients are insulated from undue exposures.

Expertise of Oon & Bazul in International Trade and Commodities Law

Oon & Bazul is distinguished in international trade law, thanks to a team of lawyers with notable academic credentials, vast global experience, and a commendable track record. Their specialisation in international trade law ensures clients receive not just legal advice, but also deep insights into global commerce.

Simultaneously, their prowess in commodities law spans the gamut from energy sectors like oil and gas to agricultural industries. In addition, our lawyers are adept at handling international arbitration cases further emphasising their multifaceted legal proficiency. Beyond arbitration, Oon & Bazul also holds a strong reputation as a litigation law firm, equipped to tackle complex court proceedings with finesse.

This deep-seated commitment to several domains has earned the firm recognition and accolades from various industry entities, cementing their reputation as leaders in the field.

Case Studies For International Trade and Commodities Law

Acting for a Singapore-based oil company to defend claims in excess of US$200 million arising from alleged off-specification cargoes. The oil cargoes supplied under the sale contracts were blended by the buyers in Singapore and subsequently suppled as bunkers to approximately 200 ships that called at Singapore in March 2022, out of which 80 have reported issues with their fuel pumps and engines.

Successfully acted on behalf of a leading coal trading company to take out an injunction before the Singapore Courts to stop payment on a Letter of Credit based on a fraud committed by the Indonesian shippers.

Successfully acted for a beneficiary under a letter of credit to obtain payment of US$42 million from a Singapore bank who was refusing payment on grounds of alleged discrepancies in the documents presented for negotiation. In response the bank’s refusal, we prepared a substantive letter to the bank, refuting each alleged discrepancy and citing ICC DOCDEX decisions which supported our position that there were no discrepancies. Within 2 days of the issuance of the letter, the bank made payment under the letter of credit.

Successfully represented a Singapore-based commodity trader in a GAFTA Arbitration to defend a multi-million dollar claim brought by its trading counterparty on the basis that the letter of credit had not been issued in time.

Advised a commodity trader in a matter where one of their traders was involved in earning secret profits in the sum of several millions of dollars. The matter involved proceedings being initiated in multiple jurisdictions, including injunctions commenced and tracing remedies obtained in Indonesia, India, Hong Kong, UAE, and the Philippines.

Acted for a global trader in the agri-commodities and industrial chemicals business, with their APAC headquarters in Hong Kong, who entered into a joint venture with other traders. Clients discovered many instances of dishonest dealings by their joint venture partners Obtained a worldwide Mareva injunction against the traders and their family members.

Advising a leading international supplier and distributor of sugar in relation to the recognition and enforcement of a London arbitration award in China.

Overview of International Trade Law

International trade law governs the rules and customs for handling trade between countries. At its core, this field of law focuses on the appropriate conduct of countries in relation to the trade of goods and services.

Key Principles and Aspects of International Trade Law

  • Most-favoured-nation (MFN): This principle ensures that a country which is given MFN status by another country will receive equal treatment as the “most favoured” nation in trade agreements.
  • National Treatment: It mandates that imported goods should be treated no less favourably than domestically-produced goods, once they have been imported.
  • Transparency: Countries are required to publish their regulations concerning foreign trade, to allow other nations to be aware of them.
  • Trade without Discrimination: The principle where countries cannot discriminate between their trade partners or between imported and locally-produced goods.
  • Free Trade Agreements (FTAs): FTAs facilitate trade between countries by reducing or eliminating tariffs, quotas, and other trade restrictions.
  • Tariffs: Taxes imposed on imported goods, can significantly influence trade dynamics by either encouraging or discouraging imports. While FTAs seek to liberalise trade, tariffs can be used as protective measures for domestic industries.

Approach to International Trade and Commodities Law

Every case is approached with a methodical rigour, ensuring a comprehensive study of all facets involved. This involves deep market analysis, examination of contractual obligations, and a study of geopolitical implications.

A successful case is not just about presenting arguments but building them on a bedrock of evidence and thorough analysis. Oon & Bazul prides itself on its analytical prowess, its meticulous evidence gathering and strategic planning.

The firm believes in the power of synergy. Collaborating closely with clients, understanding their objectives, and ensuring seamless communication is a hallmark of their approach.

In the world of commodities, disputes and transactions aren’t limited by geography. Oon & Bazul’s global footprint ensures that they are always where the action is, offering their expertise across key regions.

Commodities disputes, given their inherent complexity and international nature, often demand a specialist approach. Oon & Bazul has garnered extensive experience in representing both buyers and sellers.

  • Scope of Expertise: Our lawyers have been at the forefront, representing diverse stakeholders in commodities disputes. This includes not just the primary parties like buyers and sellers, but also intermediaries and other interested entities.
  • Venue of Arbitration: While the Singapore Courts remain a pivotal venue for many of our cases, we extend our expertise in international arbitration, ensuring our clients get a jurisdiction-friendly and effective resolution.
  • Arbitral Institutions: Our firm’s proficiency isn’t limited to a specific arbitral institution. We have a demonstrable track record under the rules of renowned institutions such as the SIAC and SCMA. This versatility ensures that our clients get representation that aligns with the best practices of these institutions.
  • Trade Association Arbitrations: Oon & Bazul is also adept at navigating trade association arbitrations. We have successfully arbitrated under the auspices of significant associations such as GAFTA, FOSFA, PORAM, and the RSA. This niche expertise ensures that our clients get representation that’s not just legally sound but also in line with industry standards.

By converging our deep understanding of commodities with the nuances of international arbitration, Oon & Bazul offers a blend of service that remains unparalleled in the domain of commodities disputes.

Frequently Asked Questions About International Trade and Commodities Law

Yes, Oon & Bazul provides comprehensive services for both buyers and sellers within the international trade arena. As a law firm skilled at handling cross border legal cases, we understand that each party has its own distinct set of challenges and objectives. Our extensive experience in representing both sides of the equation allows us to offer tailored solutions that cater to the specific needs and interests of each client.

Absolutely. Drafting and negotiation are crucial facets of international trade, and our team is adept at both. We not only ensure that contracts are watertight from a legal perspective but also that they cater to our clients’ commercial objectives. Through meticulous drafting and strategic negotiation, we work to mitigate potential risks and maximise benefits for our clients.

Cargo insurance and contracts of carriage are fundamental to the smooth execution of international trade transactions. Oon & Bazul offers comprehensive advice on these fronts. We guide our clients through the intricacies of cargo insurance, ensuring that they are adequately protected against potential risks. When it comes to contracts of carriage, our team ensures that the terms are favourable and in compliance with international standards and conventions. We are proficient in dealing with various types of carriage contracts, be it by sea, air, road, or rail.

Compliance is at the forefront of international trade. At our firm, we prioritise ensuring that our clients’ transactions align seamlessly with international regulations and sanctions. We achieve this through thorough due diligence, regular updates on international regulatory shifts, and a deep understanding of the geopolitical landscape. By staying ahead of the evolving legal environment and leveraging our extensive network of international partners, we ensure that our clients are always on the right side of the law.