Welcome to the UK Trade Policy Observatory

Following the decision to leave the EU, the UK needs to reconfigure its trade policy, successfully navigating a path through a new international trade landscape. The UK Trade Policy Observatory aims to ensure that new trade policies are constructed in a manner that benefits all.

For over four decades, the EU has handled most elements of international trade policy on Britain’s behalf. Brexit changes all that and there is now an urgent need to debate and define the UK’s place in the international trading system and then to negotiate it with our partners. This requires expert analysis, commentary and inputs from people experienced in trade policy formation and practice.

The UK Trade Policy observatory (UKTPO), a partnership between the University
 of Sussex and Chatham House, is an independent expert group that:

1) Initiates, comments on and analyses trade policy proposals for the UK;

2) Trains British policy makers, negotiators and other interested parties through tailored training packages.

Created in June 2016, the UKTPO is committed to engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders 
to ensure that the UK’s international trading environment is reconstructed in a manner that benefits all in Britain and is fair to Britain, the EU and the world.

November 25th, 2016

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Share this article: 16 August 2017 Dr Peter Holmes Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO The UK government has just issued its official position paper on the issue of the customs union and Brexit. It emphasises a desire for the “most frictionless trade possible in goods between the UK and the EU” and proposes two ways of achieving this in the long term, while making it clear that the UK will leave the EU’s customs union when it leaves the EU. The first option it proposes is a “streamlined customs arrangement” which sounds like a form of free trade agreement (but there is no mention of this as an aim). It involves keeping in place a number of the existing customs arrangements and using (untested) electronic technology to ensure the smooth processing of all documentation. The stated aim is to keep border arrangements as close… Read More

August 16th, 2017

Posted In: UK- EU

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Share this article: After Brexit, the UK will have to leave the EU Customs Union (CU) and become a legally separate customs territory. It might then, however, seek to create a new Customs Union with the EU to cover their mutual trade. The UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex (UKTPO) has produced this short animated video that explains what this entails, and what kind of an agreement the UK and the EU would need to establish in order to achieve the same level of trade costs as we have now. Ultimately, the video explains, a Customs Union will not produce ‘frictionless’ trade without re-creating several aspects of current EU membership. With Brexit negotiations already underway, it emphasises that maintaining a customs union is just one part of the story; and not, by itself, the be all and end all for achieving a smooth trading process.  

August 14th, 2017

Posted In: UK- EU

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Share this article: 27 June 2017 Dr Peter Holmes Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO The UK government’s new approach to trade policy towards developing countries has just been released in a DFID document that has been widely commented on.  The government’s proposals are welcome, but yet they are not quite as generous as they may seem. A Bloomberg piece says, optimistically: “The government promises improved access to U.K. markets for the world’s poorest countries”. However the only concrete promise is that “ around 48 countries across the globe, from Bangladesh to Sierra Leone, Haiti and Ethiopia will continue to benefit from duty-free exports into the UK on all goods other than arms and ammunition, known as ‘everything but arms.” In other words, the UK pledges to maintain existing arrangements for the poorest countries currently benefiting from the EU’s Everything but Arms deal (EBA). This amounts… Read More

June 27th, 2017

Posted In: UK - Non EU

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