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 policymakers, 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.

Latest Briefing Paper - Brexit food safety legislation and potential implications for UK trade

Trade policy animated videos

Our videos help to explain the effects of Brexit.

Free ports fact-checked explains how free ports work and why they are not the panacea for UK trade post-Brexit. Free ports will not significantly boost trade, create jobs or cut through red tape because they only delay tariff payments rather than abolish them.

More trade explainers are available on our animations page:

  • Brexit: Where does it hurt?
  • Rolling over the EU’s Free Trade Agreements
  • The Single Market
  • Customs Union
  • UK trade with the EU

November 25th, 2016

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Share this article: 12 December 2019 Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and a Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. Nicolo Tamberi is a Research Assistant in Economics for the UK Trade Policy Observatory.  Following Brexit, and assuming the UK is no longer part of a customs union with the EU, the UK will be able to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with third countries. Indeed, the Conservative manifesto aims to have 80% of UK trade covered by FTAs within three years. This is clearly unrealistic, because it would require signing agreements with more than 12 countries within a time-scale which has rarely been achieved for a single agreement.  The objective, however,  highlights that, post-Brexit, there will be a lot of focus on trying to sign FTAs. Other than the somewhat significant matter of signing an agreement with the EU, top of the UK’s FTA wish list… Read More

December 12th, 2019

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Share this article: 11 December 2019 In the lead up to the General Election, we have analysed the manifestos of the five main political parties and what they imply for future UK trade. Overall, we find that the manifestos in this General Election are incoherent and vague on trade and contain several unachievable targets.

December 11th, 2019

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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Share this article: 9 December 2019 L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory. Our analysis finds that under the UK-EU Protocol on Northern Ireland, about 75% of Northern Ireland’s imports of goods from other locations, including Great Britain, would be subject to EU tariffs on their arrival in Northern Ireland. This is not easily reconciled with the government’s assertion that Northern Ireland remains within the UK customs territory. Under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement’s Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland’s imports from the EU, including the Republic of Ireland, would face no tariffs. Among imports from elsewhere, the Protocol requires that any goods deemed at risk of moving to the European Union should be subject to the tariffs of the EU rather than those of the UK. Relying on a a range of statistical data and informed assumptions, the analysis breaks Northern Ireland’s imports down… Read More

December 9th, 2019

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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