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19 February 2019

Ilona Serwicka, Research Fellow in the economics of Brexit at the UK Trade Policy Observatory and Nicolo Tamberi, Research Assistant in Economics for the Observatory.

Earlier this month, Japanese car manufacturer, Nissan made an unexpected U-turn and announced that it was no longer planning to manufacture its new X-Trail SUV model at the Sunderland plant. In a statement, Nissan said that:

‘while we have taken this decision for business reasons, the continued uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future’.[1]

Yesterday, another Japanese car manufacturer, Honda, said that it was going to close its Swindon plant in 2021, and consolidate its production operations in Japan – a move that is going to put some 3,500 jobs at risk, with more jobs threatened in the supply chain. Early speculation suggests that tariff-free access to the EU is among the factors behind the company’s decision.[2]

Although neither Nissan nor Honda explicitly blamed Brexit for a decision to scale down their operations in the UK, Brexit provides the context for the decisions and for the steps that can be taken to cope with them. (more…)

February 19th, 2019

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12 February 2019

Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer in Economics and Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex. Both are fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

As a member of the EU, the UK is party to around 40 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with more than 70 countries. Over the last two years or so, the Government has stated that it intends to roll over, or more formally, ‘replicate’ these agreements. Indeed, in 2017 Liam Fox claimed that ”we’ll have up to 40 ready for one second after midnight in March 2019”. However, in recent weeks it has become clear that this is not going to happen,[1] and that at best there will only be a very small number of agreements replicated.[2] In this blog, we give some summary statistics outlining why this matters economically and which sectors are most vulnerable. We also discuss why, practically, very few agreements can be replicated by the current withdrawal date.

(more…)

February 12th, 2019

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11 February 2019

Alasdair Smith ian Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and is a member of the UK Trade Policy Observatory

Parliamentary discussions on Brexit seem to be making no progress towards a decision that can command a majority and the timetable for future Parliamentary votes is uncertain. The only result of last week’s discussion in Brussels was an agreement to hold further talks later this month, a jaw-droppingly relaxed timetable in the circumstances.

The Labour Party leadership has produced a statement with two objectives both of which are probably unattainable: a customs union with the EU in which the UK has a significant voice in the setting of EU trade policy, and a close relationship with the single market that falls short of membership. The Conservative Party is having internal discussions (with civil service support, a constitutional innovation) about the Malthouse Compromise, whose oxymoronic objectives are a new backstop that is not a backstop or an agreed withdrawal without a withdrawal agreement.

Out of this unpromising material, however, some outcome must emerge before March 29. (more…)

February 11th, 2019

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Erika Szyszczak

6 February 2019

Professor Erika Szyszczak is a Professor of Law at the University of Sussex and Fellow of UKTPO.

The UK Government and Parliament are mired in political manoeuvres on what the post-Brexit trade landscape should look like, but it is business as usual in the European Courts, with a salient reminder that a “No-Deal” Brexit could leave the UK waiting for many years for a legally certain trade agreement with the EU. (more…)

February 6th, 2019

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4 February 2019

The Government’s presumption it can negotiate a special deal to prevent UK-based banks being frozen out from lucrative business within the EU after Brexit is highly likely to be proven wrong in time, according to our latest study: ‘Equivalence, mutual recognition in financial services and the UK negotiating position’.  

The Briefing Paper by Dr Andy Tarrant, Dr Peter Holmes and Prof Dan Kelemen warns that the EU is almost certain to reject any approach to a future trade deal that seeks to retain UK-based banks access to EU markets while giving the UK the ability to vary its regulation away from that applied by the EU. (more…)

February 4th, 2019

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Share this article: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail17 January 2019

Dr Peter Holmes, Reader in  Economics at the University of Sussex, Director of Interanalysis and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory

Since the Government’s defeat in the House of Commons, there has been a flurry of comments, notably from Steve Baker arguing that Mrs May’s deal can be replaced by some form of Free Trade Agreement.

One must immediately point out that the treaty basis of the Withdrawal Agreement does not include a long-term trade agreement. This can only be negotiated after Brexit. But even if it could be negotiated now, it would not solve the problem of the Irish Border. The UK and the EU in both the Good Friday Agreement and the Dec 2017 joint statement committed themselves not merely to barrier-free trade in goods with no hard border in Ireland, but to the preservation of an All-Island Economy. (more…)

January 17th, 2019

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Share this article: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailImage of Alan Winters16 January 2019

L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory

This note supplements an article on ‘Organising a three-way referendum’ published on The Economist website (16th January 2019). It offers a worked example to show how the three main approaches to three-way ballots operate and some of the challenges they throw up. It reinforces Ken Arrow’s result that there is no ideal way of combining individual preferences to select one of three options. (more…)

January 14th, 2019

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Share this article: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailImage of Alan Winters17 December 2018

L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

The UKTPO exists to provide independent and objective advice on the economics and law of Brexit and trade policy. The question of whether to hold a ‘second’ referendum is essentially a political one. However, how to organise such a referendum is a technical question on which economists have something to offer. (more…)

December 17th, 2018

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Share this article: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailImage of Alan Winters10 December 2018

L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory 

The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration are being presented as a means to end the uncertainty about the UK’s future relationship with Europe. But in an explainer for the ESRC’s UK in a Changing Europe, Professor L Alan Winters argues that this is not the case. Uncertainty will continue regardless of what happens to the Withdrawal Agreement.

Briefly, he argues that, if the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by Parliament and the EU:

  • The backstop it mandates requires a customs union between the UK and the EU and that most EU regulations for goods will apply in Northern Ireland. However, there is no regulatory alignment between the rest of the UK and the EU and so, if the backstop came into operation, there would be border formalities both in the Irish Sea and as UK goods entered the EU via any other route.
  • Negotiating a trade agreement with the EU will take a lot longer than the 21 months allowed for it in the Withdrawal Agreement, not least because every EU member state has a veto over trade agreements.
  • The Political Declaration that defines the parameters for that negotiation is imprecise in critical places and is, anyway, non-binding.

However, neither would rejecting the Withdrawal Agreement resolve the uncertainty. There is a wide range of possible outcomes all but one of which impose serious economic harm and/or require further negotiation. The option that involves least uncertainty and cost would be to remain within the EU; however, trying to achieve that outcome involves both significant political risks and the risk of ‘no deal’ if the attempt failed.

‘Through a glass, darkly’ is biblical – 1 Corinthians 13:12 – and is interpreted as meaning that we can see only imprecisely and via a mirror, but that, in the end, all will become clear. Seems about the best we can hope for.

Read the full article, What are the options for the UK’s trading relationship with the EU after Brexit?

December 10th, 2018

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Share this article: Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailImage of Alan Winters10 December 2018

L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory and Ilona Serwicka is Research Fellow in the economics of Brexit at the Observatory.

Today we are publishing a study of the economic impact of no deal’ and ‘soft’ Brexit scenarios on the 632 Parliamentary constituencies in Great Britain. It shows that calculating the effect of Brexit on the residents in an area gives a very different perspective from the more common calculation based on the jobs in that area.

For example, a ‘no deal’ Brexit would imply a shock equivalent to losing some 42,400 jobs in the parliamentary constituency of Cities of London and Westminster. However, 41,250 of these jobs are held by people who live elsewhere. At the other extreme, Streatham may suffer a loss equivalent to 650 of its jobs, but around 2,250 of Streatham’s residents would lose their employment. (more…)

December 10th, 2018

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