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Image of Alan Winters3 April 2019

Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory.

Understandably the politics surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU are dominating current discussions. But the economics of the options still matter, and it is not always evident how well the core economic issues are understood.

In the light of the Government’s ‘approach’ to Labour to find a consensus and in the light of the indicative votes, the aim of this blog is to clearly outline the economic issues and summarise the likely consequences associated with two of the current (indicative) options. (more…)

April 3rd, 2019

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1 April 2019

Dr Ingo Borchert is 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. 

During the first round of the indicative voting process at Parliament, the motion that proposes a permanent customs union attracted the second highest number of Ayes and was rejected by the slimmest margin of all eight motions.  This result shows the prevailing preoccupation with trade in merchandise goods.  Amongst other things, a customs union alone does nothing for services trade.  In this blog, we set out why the continued neglect of services trade is a major concern for the UK economy.[1] A twin-jet aircraft with just one engine on would ordinarily be bound for an emergency landing rather than for a smooth journey ahead. (more…)

April 1st, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters29 March 2019

Nicolo Tamberi is Research Assistant in Economics for the UK Trade Policy Observatory and L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory.

The eight EU Trade Agreements that the UK has rolled-over replicate current trading conditions with their respective partners to a substantial extent. However, conditions could still deteriorate for at least two reasons:

  • A bilateral negotiation that excludes the EU can only partially overcome possible problems with rules of origin;
  • UK regulation and/or certification can be recognised only where partners have not tied themselves to EU regulations. Where they have, recognition of UK regulation and certification must wait until the UK also aligns with the EU.

(more…)

March 29th, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters14 March 2019

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

Key points:

  • Around 72% of UK’s MFN tariff lines will see reduced protection.
  • The UK’s average MFN tariff is reduced significantly, from around 7.7% to 0.7%; however this does little to increase the share of duty-free imports.
  • The UK’s MFN tariff proposal will reduce tariffs on many products imported from countries currently trading on WTO terms, but increase them on imports from the EU.

Following the first defeat of the Withdrawal Bill in Parliament, and prior to yesterday’s vote on a ‘No Deal’ alternative, the Government published the temporary tariff schedule it proposes to apply in the event of a no deal. As with most things Brexit, this is complicated to unpick, especially as some of the listed items are simply asterisked, and the details on these need to be found in another (1400 page) document! (more…)

March 14th, 2019

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5 March 2019

Ilona Serwicka is Research Fellow in the economics of Brexit at the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

Last week, the United States published a document that set out their negotiating objectives for a trade agreement with the UK, shortly after the publication of virtually identical documents for negotiating with the EU and with Japan. Those in the UK who expected ‘special treatment’ from the US are in for a disappointment, but not a surprise (as UKTPO researchers pointed out in October 2016). In negotiating with major trading partners after Brexit, the UK is likely to be a price taker because of a power imbalance. (more…)

March 5th, 2019

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27 February 2019

Ilona Serwicka is Research Fellow in the economics of Brexit and Peter Holmes is a Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex. Both are Fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

There are proposals to relax customs rules and duties in specially-designated areas known as free ports or more generally free zones. But these would make little impact on rebuilding the UK economy after Brexit, reveal Dr Serwicka and Dr Holmes in our latest Briefing Paper ‘What is the extra mileage in the reintroduction of ‘free zones’ in the UK?’ (more…)

February 27th, 2019

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25 February 2019

Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

Two weeks ago, the UKTPO called for further transparency on the Government’s current progress on replicating the existing agreements between the EU and third countries. On Thursday last week, Secretary of State for International Trade, Liam Fox MP made a public announcement confirming that little had changed since he gave evidence to the International Trade Select Committee on the 6 February and that the progress has been minimal. So far, only six out of the 40 existing trade agreements have been signed, covering a total of 9 countries; Chile, Faroe Islands, Switzerland, Israel, Palestinian Authority, Madagascar, Mauritius, Seychelles and Zimbabwe. One further agreement is close to being finalised, adding another 2 countries (Fiji and Papua New Guinea) to the list. This still leaves about 60 Free Trade Agreement (FTA) countries without continuity agreements.

Dr Fox also announced that some agreements will definitely not be in place for exit day, those with Andorra, Japan, Turkey, and San Marino. The agreement with Algeria is also unlikely to be ready. When it comes to numbers, the announcement is thin on details. The Department for International Trade states that the EU-FTA agreements account for 11% of the UK’s trade, a figure that seems low to start with. No further information is provided as to how important the signed countries are to the UK’s trade, or how much of the UK’s trade with the rest of the FTA group is still at risk if we have a hard Brexit in about a month’s time. This blog aims to fill some of these gaps. (more…)

February 25th, 2019

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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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Image of Alan Winters14 February 2019

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

Key Points:

  • New research from OECD shows that the European Single Market dramatically lowers the barriers to services trade within the European Economic Area (EEA). Yet,
  • far from prioritising the preservation of such access for UK services trade, the UK political and media debate is focused almost entirely on the much smaller goods sector.

(more…)

February 14th, 2019

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30 November 2018

L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory, Dr Michael Gasiorek, a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and Peter Holmes, Reader in  Economics at the University of Sussex both fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

  • We welcome the Government’s estimates of the economic consequences of alternative Brexits. They are way overdue.
  • The modelling was very competently done.
  • But the assumptions made tended to favour the Government’s preferred position over other alternatives.

On Tuesday, the UK Government released a set of cross-Departmental estimates of the possible economic costs of different Brexit options. They were based on the Government’s own modelling, which uses a technique known as a Computable General Equilibrium modelling and is based on the Global Trade Analysis Project (GTAP) consortium’s world model and dataset. The aim is to model (very approximately) the important linkages in an economy over a medium to long-term horizon and to assess the possible impact of changes in trade policy on the economy. (Short-term modelling, over a five year period, was simultaneously released by the Bank of England, but we do not discuss it here). The modelling approach is relatively standard, has been applied competently and honestly and produces results fairly much in line with other studies of the impact of Brexit.

This blog highlights some of the trade-related aspects of the modelling exercise and its results. As with all modelling, the main issues concern the assumptions that users input into the model rather than the model itself. (more…)

November 30th, 2018

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