For the third week, we continued our Annual Compliance Conference with key customs developments impacting on businesses today. Specifically, we discussed the reform of the Union Customs Code in the EU, key trending customs developments in EMEA, and different methods of driving significant financial savings in global supply chains.

EU customs reform: biggest overhaul since 1968

Tuesday 14 May

SPEAKERS: Nicole Looks (Partner, Amsterdam), Thomas Kukanza (Senior Trade Advisor, Brussels), Sylvain Guelton (Senior Associate, Brussels), Esmee Kooke (Associate, Amsterdam)

In this webinar, our speakers discussed the reform of the Union Customs Code (“UCC”) and its main pillars: the EU Customs Authorities & EU Customs Data Hub, the Trust & Check Trader status, and the reform of the current customs e-commerce regime.

The panel set the scene by introducing why the reform has been proposed, diving into the need of modernization of the UCC due to the rise of e-commerce. This reform also encourages EU to be more in control of its trade policy, by requesting more data from traders to tackle customs tax fraud, illicit trade and set high standards on products (including EU Forced Labour, Deforestation, and Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism obligations). The future EU Customs Union will therefore be based on a solid partnership between the EU Customs Authority and traders. Traders should already start to prepare for the next challenges to come and identify opportunities and risks for their business.

The speakers discussed EU Customs Authorities, the EU Customs Data Hub and the Trust & Check Trader status into detail. Moreover, the key aspects of the new approach to e-commerce were discussed, highlighting the abolishment of the customs duty relief for low value consignments, the new Simplified Tariff Treatment and the deemed importer phenomenon.

The session concluded with the proposed timeline of the reform and a discussion following questions from the audience.

You can access the webinar recording here.

EMEA customs: what’s trending?

Wednesday 15 May

SPEAKERS: Jenny Revis (Partner, London), Virusha Subban (Partner, Johannesburg), Laya Aoun-Hani (Counsel, Dubai), Carolin Insel (Senior Associate, Dusseldorf), Kelvin Hong (Senior Associate, London), Albert Arenas (Associate, Barcelona)

In this webinar, our speakers discussed key customs developments, key trends and case law in the EU, UK, Africa and Middle East.

The panel started the session by addressing the rise of ESG developments in the EU, which are expected to have an impact on customs processes, including EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM), forced labour compliance obligations, and local Plastic Packaging Tax regulations. The panel then touched on key EU customs valuation developments, such as the highly anticipated Binding Valuation Information (BVI), Commission’s new guidance on UC authorisation (Article 73) and learnings from EU’s 2024 version of the Customs Valuation Compendium.

The panel then discussed key trends and developments in the UK, including HMRC’s new policy on customs valuation in the context of related party transactions and the possible solutions to consider. Our speakers also discussed the ongoing ratification of Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (“CPTPP”) Free Trade Agreement. The panel covered recent notable case law on customs procedures in the UK and anticipated UK customs modernisation initiatives.

The Africa portion of our session discussed key developments in the region such as Intra-Africa Trade, regional value chains, economic integration and customs modernisation processes. A special focus was given to the recent enforcement action and penalties in South Africa and the local authority’s guidance expanding on the use of data with the aim of streamlining and modernising customs procedures. The panel then provided updates on the African Continental Free Trade Area (“AdCFTA”) and discussed challenges, opportunities and next steps.

Our panel finally focused on the Middle East region. Dubai was discussed as a rapidly developing hub and popular distribution location. The panel shared key customs developments and trends in the region including the use of Free Trade Zones. 

You can access the webinar recording here.

Customs duty mitigation: how to drive significant financial savings

Thursday 16 May

SPEAKERS: Jessica Mutton (Of Counsel, London), Lionel van Reet (Partner, Brussels), Chandri Navarro (Senior Counsel, Washington D.C.), Adriana Ibarra-Fernandez (Partner, Mexico City) and Alexandra Lambert (Associate, London)

In a world where companies are faced with rising global costs and geopolitical uncertainty and importers have faced supply chain disruptions to higher tariffs and other trade barriers, many companies are looking to re-evaluate their supply chains to assess whether there are alternative options for sourcing products and shipping goods which could minimise tariff burdens and therefore costs.

Against this backdrop, our speakers discussed duty savings options available to companies, including: origin and duty preference programs, including key US and Mexican duty savings programs; and different customs processes.

The panel kicked off the session with an explanation of origin and how this can help drive financial savings, including the process for obtaining a certificate of origin and the key components of origin analysis. The panel then explained other different types of duty preference programmes, as well as the cost considerations and opportunities of using such programmes.

FTAs, inward and outward processing, bonded warehouses, specific use, and transit were discussed as examples of customs procedures which allow businesses to suspend or reduce duties payable on imported goods.

In the second part of the session, our panel walked through two helpful case studies to bring to life the methods of customs duty mitigation discussed in the first part of the session and to illustrate the importance of considering such methods in global supply chains in order to drive financial savings. The panel gave practical tips for using duty preference programmes or customs procedures and highlighted some of the common pitfalls and challenges for businesses to be mindful of when looking to drive financial savings.  

You can access the webinar recording here.

The Annual Compliance Conference is held virtually across five weeks from 29 April – 6 June.  Every year it attracts over 4,000 in-house senior legal and compliance professionals from across the world. With a speaker faculty from all regions of our global team, we will be delivering our cutting-edge insights and guidance virtually on key global compliance, investigations and ethics trends. 

To register for the other sessions and access the recordings, click here.


Thomas joined Baker McKenzie as a Senior Trade Advisor in the Tax Practice Group in April 2022. He has 10+ years of experience in the field of Customs, International Trade and Implementation of Duty Optimization Programs. Thomas is a guest lecturer at the University of Antwerp (UAntwerp) and holds a US Customs Broker License.


Sylvain Guelton is a senior associate in the Tax Practice Group in the Brussels office. He joined Baker McKenzie in 2022.


Esmee Kooke is a Junior Associate within the Amsterdam Indirect Tax team. She joined the Firm in September 2023.


Jennifer is a Partner and head of Baker McKenzie's Customs & Excise Practice in London, and co-head of Baker McKenzie EMEA Customs group.


Virusha is a partner and head of Tax in Baker McKenzie's Tax Practice Group in Johannesburg. She has over 20 years' experience in tax matters relating to customs, excise and international trade.





Jessica Mutton's practice focuses on international trade, encompassing customs, tax evasion, sanctions and export controls, and anti-bribery. She joined Baker McKenzie from another global law firm in 2015. Jessica has knowledge of both the English common law and French civil law systems and has worked in London, Paris, Barcelona and Madrid. Jessica conducts training and presents at various seminars, webinars, and conferences on the complexities of international trade compliance. She is identified as a "rising star" by the Legal 500 and is recommended by the same body for her customs and Brexit work.


Lionel has joined Baker McKenzie as Customs Lead in February 2022. Lionel has 20+ years of experience in the field of Customs, International Trade, Excises & Energy Levy.


Adriana Ibarra-Fernandez has over twenty years of experience in customs and foreign trade matters. She focuses her practice on customs and international trade matters, including rules of origin, verifications of origin and related subjects in terms of the FTAs to which Mexico is a party, tariff classification, customs valuation, maquila (IMMEX) and other programs for the promotion of imports and exports, as well as non-tariff import regulations and consumer protection. Adriana also advises clients in the pharmaceutical sector with regulatory matters and has experience in handling compliance and anti-corruption matters.


Alexandra is an associate in the London Competition, Trade and Foreign Investment practice. Her focus is on international trade, particularly in customs compliance issues. Alexandra advises clients on import matters, including customs valuation and rules of origin. She has worked with clients on customs investigations and valuation disputes.