Bird & Bird achieves stellar victory in landmark EU Trade Defence case

International law firm Bird & Bird obtained a landmark victory for the European Thermal Paper Association (ETPA) following an order of the European Court of Justice of 14 November 2023. The Court of Justice dismissed the Korean exporting producer’s arguments as “manifestly unfounded” and confirmed the European Commission’s broad discretion in conducting EU Trade defence cases and upheld the anti-dumping duties on imports of heavyweight thermal paper from Korea. The ETPA was the complainant during the administrative procedure and intervened in support of the Commission.

The EU courts made it clear that the Commission is free to choose the method used to construct prices for its price undercutting analysis, as long as it is consistent with the legal framework and the chosen method does not lead to manifestly incorrect results. Contrary to the Korean exporting producer’s argument, the EU courts found that the Commission’s chosen method did not compare prices at a different level of trade. The EU courts’ positions mandate the Commission to intervene effectively in EU trade cases where European Union industry is being harmed. Links to the orders can be found here for the Court of Justice and here for the General Court. This is an important factor in the current geopolitical trade climate.

The ETPA was represented by the following Bird & Bird lawyers: Partner Hein Hobbelen and Counsel Baptist Vleeshouwers, assisted by colleagues in the EU Competition and Trade team.

Hein Hobbelen, EU Competition and Trade Partner at international law firm Bird & Bird comments: “We are happy to have achieved this result for our client consisting of the world’s largest paper and packaging companies. This ends many years of complaints, investigations, and procedures before the General Court and the Court of Justice. It is a very important victory as it confirms the duties on imports of heavyweight thermal paper imports from South Korea and sets a precedent for future Trade defence cases. This is once again a testimony to the great teamwork and the ever-growing success of Bird & Bird’s Brussels EU Trade defence practice.

The European Thermal Paper Association comments: “The court decision to uphold the anti-dumping duties on imports of heavyweight thermal paper from South Korea is a relief for Europe’s paper and packaging industry. Faced with a challenging international trade environment, it is crucial to safeguard a level playing field to ensure a viable and sustainable future for European industry.


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