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: 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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Share this article: 23 June 2017 L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics and Director of UKTPO and Ilona Serwicka, Research Fellow at UKTPO One year ago the British people voted to leave the EU. Out of 33.5 million votes cast, 51.9 per cent were for ‘leave’, albeit in the absence of any statement about what ‘leaving’ might mean. The government is still vague about what the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy should be – even after triggering the formal leave process – but the general election has pressured Theresa May to soften her Brexit stance. Even though Brexit negotiations are now formally under way, the options suddenly again seem wide open for debate. In terms of options the UK is back at square one, but following a year’s analysis, it is now clearer what these options amount to. Over the year, the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has discussed many of… Read More

June 23rd, 2017

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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Share this article: 19 June 2017 Alasdair Smith is an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex, and is a member of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. It’s now 12 months since the referendum decision, 3 months since the Article 50 notification, and only 21 months until the date on which the UK is due to exit the EU. Brexit negotiations start today, but most politicians have still not progressed beyond the stage of wishful thinking. There are ambiguities about the objectives of both the large political parties but each seems to want some kind of free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU after Brexit, often described by a phrase like ‘tariff-free access to the single market’. Behind such inherently confused terminology lies an apparent wish to have a ‘deep’ FTA; that is to say, a UK-EU FTA which has no tariffs and sufficient regulatory convergence between the… Read More

June 19th, 2017

Posted In: UK- EU

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