Examples of Some International Laws Companies Must Deal With

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International laws govern political and economic transactions between nations. U.S.-based companies conducting business beyond national borders are subject to a multitude of host-country laws and U.S. domestic statutes as well as international treaties and conventions. While compliance may not guarantee profitability, it can alleviate some of the challenges of doing business abroad.

Labor Standards

Most countries have aligned national labor laws with International Labor Organization (ILO) standards to ensure that employers provide humane and equal working conditions. Nations that have ratified the ILO treaty can use those global standards to decide cases where prevailing national law is insufficient. In addition to using the prevailing international regulations, different countries apply their own labor laws governing wages, working hours, union membership, employment contracts and visa requirements.

WTO Regulations

The World Trade Organization (WTO) is in charge of overseeing international trade and enforcing fair trade practices among countries. If your company extends its reach into foreign markets, you must comply with various WTO laws. For example, the WTO Anti-Dumping Agreement allows governments to take action against companies that export products at a lower price than that at which they are usually sold in the country of origin. Exporters should therefore consider overall world prices to avoid distorting the market unfairly when selling abroad.

Customs Requirements

Companies engaging in global trade are subject to both international and regional customs requirements concerning quotas, tariffs and licensing obligations. Doing business in foreign markets means becoming familiar with these regulations, especially if you are involved in exporting and importing goods. Dealing with international customs can impact your business, particularly in markets with high tariffs, strict quality regulations or export-import quotas.

Global Ethics

Companies viewed as violating human rights or condoning human rights abuses may find themselves without customers. Multilateral organizations such as the United Nations have set forth international human rights standards such as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. These standards require all constituents of society to participate in the preservation of human rights. American firms involved in international trade are responsible for alleviating human rights abuses such as torture, crimes, genocide and forced labor according to the U.S. Alien Tort Claims Act.

Intellectual Property

The internationalization of trade and new technological innovations make it necessary for businesses with a global presence to protect their inventions and processes. The World Intellectual Property Organization administers various treaties that uphold intellectual property rights among countries. For example, some global treaties guarantee automatic copyright protection for WTO members. These agreements also offer strong dispute settlement mechanisms. You may protect intellectual property by filing for a patent, trademark or copyright, according to the foreign country’s intellectual property laws.

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