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.

Trade policy animated videos

Our videos help to explain the effects of Brexit.

‘Grandfathering the EU’s Free Trade Agreements’ explains why rolling over these agreements is likely to be highly complicated, and will necessarily impact on trade. When the UK leaves the EU, it must also leave the EU’s free trade agreements with over 60 countries that it is currently a member of via the EU. The UK government intends to roll over these agreements so that they continue to apply, known as grandfathering. However, because of Rules of Origin and other clauses in some of these agreements, this will not be a simple cut and paste ‘UK’ job. This video explains why rolling over these agreements is likely to be highly complicated, time-consuming and will necessarily impact on trade.

‘The ins and outs of the Single Market’ explains what the Single Market is, how it works and the ways it effects trade, and thereby the economy. Ultimately, the video explains that there is a trade-off between making your laws independently and cooperating sufficiently to be a part of a bigger market and achieve higher incomes.

‘The Customs Union: The Fiction of ‘Frictionless’ Trade’ shows what leaving the EU Customs Union entails and that you need much more cooperation than just a customs union in order to achieve the same level of trade costs as we have now.

‘With or without EU’ shows that in terms of trade policy choosing trade priorities on the basis of aggregate UK data does not take into account the fact that the nations within the UK are exposed to trade with the EU in different ways.

Grandfathering the EU’s Free Trade Agreements

The ins and outs of the Single Market

The Customs Union: The Fiction of ‘Frictionless’ Trade

With or without EU

November 25th, 2016

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Share this article: 15 February 2018 Rob Amos, Research Fellow in Law, Sussex Sustainability Research Programme, University of Sussex. Rob is conducting a project on Sustainable Trade Post-Brexit in collaboration with the UK Trade Policy Observatory. As the UK begins to devise its independent trade policy, it is essential that any new trade agreements it negotiates are subject to Parliamentary, as well as public, oversight and scrutiny. To facilitate such oversight, the UK should undertake Sustainability Impact Assessment (SIA) for these agreements. If the UK is serious about sustainable development, it must ensure that any future trade agreements do not negatively impact the environment and communities either at home or abroad.

February 15th, 2018

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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Share this article: 6 February 2018 Alasdair Smith is an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex, Dr Michael Gasiorek is Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and Director and Managing Director of InterAnalysis, Ilona Serwicka is Research Fellow in the Economics of Brexit. All are Fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO). How would different versions of Brexit affect the UK economy? Are some parts of the economy likely to be affected more than others? Will trade deals with the rest of the world make up for any loss of UK access to EU markets? These are highly topical questions this week as the UK Cabinet’s Brexit committee makes important decisions about its objectives in the next stage of the Brexit negotiations. They are the questions we seek to address in our new Briefing Paper ‘Which Manufacturing Sectors are Most Vulnerable to Brexit?’, published today. As… Read More

February 6th, 2018

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Share this article: 16 January 2018 Dr Peter Holmes Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO. Nick Jacob is a PhD Candidate in Economics at the University of Sussex. The need for UK firms to comply with detailed Rules of Origin in a possible post-Brexit Free Trade Agreement with the EU has been widely reported. But the different procedures which firms could use to prove their compliance — and the costs to firms in time and money — have been mostly overlooked.

January 15th, 2018

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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