Arnoud Willems

Arnoud Willems

Baker McKenzie BV/SRL


Arnoud Willems is a partner in the International Commercial & Trade Practice Group in the Brussels office. He joined Baker McKenzie in 2022. He has an extensive network, built over 30 years, as a trusted adviser of entrepreneurs, executives and diplomats. Arnoud has a deep understanding of how trade rules shape global flows of capital, investment, goods, technology and services.

Practice Focus

Arnoud advises clients on all aspects of trade and customs, especially with respect to competitiveness, and the application of WTO law and other trade rules to various sectors. As a result, Arnoud has helped remove trade barriers, unlock new markets, increase profits, decrease costs and risks, and improve compliance.

Arnoud helps clients to navigate through complex rules, and in their decision-making processes, manage their risks and become more successful and proactive in their long-term planning and strategy. He strives to make legal rules understandable for company decision makers, look for practical solutions, break new ground, close legal gaps, and get regulators to adapt and clarify rules to make them more useful, predictable, uniform, and, where possible, create new rules.

In the field of trade defence, i.e., anti-dumping, anti-subsidy / countervailing, safeguards, and anti-circumvention investigations, Arnoud has assisted complainants, respondents, associations, governments, importers, and users in more than 200 high-profile cases. Along with representing clients in such cases before the European Commission and the EU courts, he has worked on several third-country cases like Russia, China and Türkiye, and has also assisted with crafting WTO arguments. In 2010, one client referred to Arnoud as "the perfect anti-dumping payer's bulldog" (The Legal 500 EMEA).

Regarding customs matters, Arnoud has a broad experience in advising clients on EU customs issues, including entry, classification, valuation, origin, tariff suspensions, authorisations, audits, refunds/remissions and fraud allegations, notably OLAF and EPPO. A key aspect of his practice concerns the involvement of EU institutions in helping companies unlock customs issues in EU member states or assisting such companies in resolving differences in approaches between various EU member states.

In relation to trade agreements, Arnoud advises clients on leveraging market access and enforcement tools provided by trade rules in the WTO, free trade, investment and other agreements. With these tools, Arnoud has helped companies address key trade and regulatory barriers affecting their ability to move, sell and protect goods, services, and intellectual property across borders. Arnoud has also assisted in negotiating trade agreements, especially in making them concrete, and by creating so-called gold standards by leveraging best practices.

In the field of trade controls, i.e., economic sanctions, export controls and foreign direct investment controls, Arnoud helps companies to develop and implement compliance programs, conduct internal audits, and act against enforcement actions.

Arnoud appears regularly before administrative bodies, courts in various EU member states and the European courts. Often, his cases involve pan-European strategies with simultaneous litigation in several countries. Since 1995, Arnoud has been a leading advocate of companies challenging EU anti-dumping regulations, with an exceptional success rate in such cases before the European courts, enabling his clients to obtain significant duty refunds.

Representative Legal Matters

  • Advised a global nuclear energy company on the development of an anti-subsidy risk assessment, including a compliance manual.

  • Obtained positive results, including a suspension of duties for an FTSE 100 mining company, avoidance of duties entirely for a Fortune 50 chemical company, price-undertakings for solar panel clients, product exclusions for several other exporting producers, a duty reimbursement for a major silicon metal importer, and an exemption certificate concerning anti-circumvention duties for a major electronics producer.

  • Advised a global raw materials company on the setup of an anti-dumping compliance programme, including assistance in monitoring potential dumping margins.

  • Advised a metal company on avoiding electricity cost adjustments in the dumping calculation, significantly lowering its duty.

  • Advised several multinationals on customs matters in different EU Member States on processing authorizations for goods subject to trade policy.

  • Assisted several companies in the classification and origin of their products, including through Binding Tariff Information and Binding Origin Information (rulings).

  • Assisted a global automotive company in a pan-EU customs valuation investigation.

  • Represented a major apparel importer to obtain significant customs duty refunds on a retroactive application of origin, as laid down in the EU-Vietnam FTA.

  • Advised companies on obtaining interest from customs over refunded anti-dumping duties.

  • Defended a global technology producer accused of customs fraud to prove its position and avoid any duties and fines.

  • Assisted a Fortune 100 technology company in the development of a trade policy to manage changes in the EU political landscape such as the rise of China, increased protectionism, and strategic autonomy (tariffs autonomy, enforcement, sanctions, subsidies, raw material access, sustainability due diligence and investment screening).

  • Assisted an association concerning the use of WTO rules to avoid national legislation that would harm its members.

  • Assisted a trade association in improving the protection of the intellectual property of its members globally through the use of trade agreements, including finding best practices and a win-win solution for all stakeholders, and navigating all political sensitivities.

  • Advised a government body on using trade agreements strategically to benefit the financial and services sectors, including how to shape digital rules, and which rules it should try to incorporate into trade agreements.

  • Assisted a global construction company in reviewing its transactions with countries on the economic sanctions list.

  • Assisted a global construction company in setting up a global compliance and training programme.

  • Assisted several clients in litigation before EU Courts. Arnoud's successes include the following ground-breaking cases: 

    • Wortmann, Case C-365/15 (interest in customs cases)
    • AETMD, Case T-460/14 (sweetcorn)
    • Clark, Cases C-659/13 (footwear)
    • Brosmann, Cases T-401/06 and C-249/10P
    • ENRC, Case T-107/08 (silico-manganese)
    • Whirlpool Europe, Case T-314/06 (refrigerators)
    • ASMP, Case T-107/04 and T-151/06 (silicon)
    • Gul-Ahmed, Case T-199/04 (bed linen)
    • Deichmann, Case C256/16 (footwear)
    • Eurobolt e.a., Case T-479/20, under appeal in C-517/22P (fasteners)

Professional Honors

  • In 2020 and 2021, Lexology honoured Arnoud with its "Client Choice Award" for Trade and Customs. 
  • Recognised by Chambers for international trade/WTO in Chambers Europe and Chambers Global since 2008, with clients praising him as "a born strategist", "tenacious and strategic, well informed and respected, and pleasant to work with". The client further enthused: "he masterminds all details and makes cases look simple and presents them convincingly. Perhaps most importantly, he delivers results".  
  • Recognised in Who's Who Legal 2021 for trade and customs, and for economic sanctions, with market sources praising him as "a strategic mastermind" who "knows everything about international trade law". The 2020 edition described him as a "rock when it comes to trade and customs work", and a "leading practitioner who is well respected for his deep customs experience". 
  • Recognised in Best Lawyers in Belgium since 2013.
  • Mentioned in the Financial Times Innovative Lawyers list in 2017 for his EU court litigation work.
  • In 2018, Legal 500 admitted Arnoud to its Legal Hall of Fame for being among the top 10 best EU Trade lawyers from 2007 to 2018.
  • Recognised by WorldECR as one of the top EU lawyers for economic sanctions and export controls, especially for the technology and finance sectors, since 2014.

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Asian Institute of International Financial Law (AIIFL) – Senior fellow
  • Rotary Club Tervuren (Brussels) – Former president
  • Various universities e.g., the University of Maastricht, the Higher School of Economics in Moscow, Hong Kong University Law School – Guest lecturer
  • Commission on Customs and Trade Facilitation of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris – Member
  • Commission on Trade and Investment Policy of the International Chamber of Commerce in Paris – Member
  • International Law Association – Member
  • International Bar Association (Trade Committee) – Member


  • Brussels (A-List)~Belgium (2001)


  • University of Leiden (Law Degree) (1992)


  • Dutch
  • English
  • Co-author, "Towards a Strategic Partnership – Strengthening Trade Relations between the GCC and the EU," GPCA's Insight Express, July 2022
  • Co-author, "The EU's 'Greened' Injury Margin: a Closer Look at Law and Practice," International Trade Law and Regulation, Volume 27, Issue 3, July 2022
  • Co-author, "Inward Processing in EU Anti-Dumping Proceedings," Global Trade and Customs Journal, Volume 17, Issue 6, May 2022
  • Co-author, "Helping Sustainable Trade: Ways to 'Green' the Harmonized System," Centre for European Policy Studies (CEPS), January 2021
  • Co-author, "Hurdles to Litigating Trade Defence Measures Before the EU Courts," Journal of World Trade, Volume 54, Issue 6, December 2020
  • Co-author, "The EU Report on Significant Distortions in Russia: A Return to the 1990s Non-market Economy Status for Russia?," Eurasian Metals, December 2020