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27 August 2019Alasdair Smith, author

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

The adjective ‘undemocratic’ has for a few weeks now been mysteriously attached to the Ireland backstop provision in the Withdrawal Agreement. The prime minister’s letter of August 19th to Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council, at least explained why: the backstop is said to be undemocratic because it binds the UK after Brexit into EU trade and regulatory policies in which it will have no say.

This is not a new idea. From early on in the Brexit debates, many economists assumed there would be compelling economic incentives for a post-Brexit UK to remain in the European Economic Area (EEA). Alan Winters pointed out that this would mean the UK would have to pay (financial contributions to the EU) and obey (EU rules) but with no say (in setting the rules). The Irish backstop is not the same as the EEA, but ‘obey with no say’ is the ‘undemocratic’ objection.

The prime minister’s solution is that the backstop should be replaced by alternative arrangements for the Irish border which would allow the UK to choose its own different trade and regulatory policies. There is widespread agreement that no such alternative arrangements are currently available.

(more…)

August 28th, 2019

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15 July 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. 

A favourite band (of at least one of the authors of this blog) from the 1980s was the Cocteau Twins (See, or rather listen to…Sugar Hiccup) – well-known for the dreamy unintelligibility of their lyrics.  Which of course leads to the dreamy unintelligibility of some of the promises being made around Brexit. Supporters of Brexit have argued that the UK need not be overly concerned with a ‘No deal’ Brexit. This ranges from positions that ‘No deal’ would not be “as frightening as people think” although there would be “some hiccups in the first year” (David Davies), and that although there may be “some disruption” Britain would “survive and prosper without a deal” (Jeremy Hunt), to arguments that the idea that ‘No deal’ would have a negative impact were “a fantasy of fevered minds” (Jacob Rees Mogg). (more…)

July 15th, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters03 July 2019

L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory.

Last week I was challenged twice for using the term ‘no deal’. There is no such thing, I was told, because, even if the UK does not ratify the Withdrawal Agreement of 25th November 2018, there will still be plenty of deals. At the time I thought, for several reasons, that this was wrong in substance if not literally, but more recently I have concluded that it is also dangerous.  Like we saw in the referendum campaign, it undermines informed debate by deliberately confusing the terminology.

‘The deal’ is an agreement between the EU and the UK ‘setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union’ (Article 50 – Treaty on European Union). ‘No deal’ is the absence of such a deal. For business and the economy, ‘no deal’ has come to mean the absence of a trade agreement under which the UK and the EU trade with each other on terms better than those provided for under the World Trade Organization. The former ‘no deal’ implies the latter – as I argue below – but the reverse is not true. (more…)

July 3rd, 2019

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28 June 2019

Nicolo Tamberi is a Research Assistant in Economics for the UK Trade Policy Observatory. Dr Ingo Borchert is Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the Observatory.

On Wednesday, the Department for International Trade (DIT) released its official statistics on inward foreign direct investments (FDI) for the financial year 2018-19.[1] As stated by the DIT, these data measure the inflow of ‘new investment, expansion, and mergers & acquisition’ projects, both publicly announced and not. (more…)

June 28th, 2019

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Erika Szyszczak26 June 2019

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

The Dispute Mechanism Systems (DMS) in many trade agreements have lain dormant because countries preferred to use the World Trade Organization (WTO), with its Appellate mechanisms, as the forum to resolve international disputes. This may change in the coming years as the confidence in, and reliability of the WTO, is slowly paralysed by the disruptive attitude of the United States. One question that emerges is whether the use of EU dispute resolution mechanisms offer a faster and clearer approach towards dispute resolution and might serve as a model for future regional trade treaties. (more…)

June 26th, 2019

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Image 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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Photo of Emily Lydgate19 September 2018

Dr Emily Lydgate is a lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

In its Chequers White Paper, the UK government has proposed that, in order to facilitate a frictionless border, it will operate a dual customs regime known as a Facilitated Customs Arrangement (‘FCA’). By replacing rules of origin checks at the EU-UK border with internal monitoring, the FCA requires firms to establish ‘robustly’ the destination of their products to ensure that correct duties have been applied, and then, if they wish, to seek rebates if they have been overcharged. Past UKTPO blogs have addressed logistical challenges and strategic downsides of this ‘Fantastically Complicated Alternative’ (see also Does the Chequers Agreement provide any steps to Brexit heaven?)

But would it be compatible with the rules of the World Trade Organization? The precise details of the FCA’s operation remain unclear. Barring a dispute, it’s not possible to settle the question definitively, but the FCA does prima facie pose a risk of WTO non-compliance. We presume that the UK government has undertaken some analysis of this, and that it covers (at least) the following issues. (more…)

September 19th, 2018

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7 August 2018

Nicolo Tamberi is a Research Officer in Economics for the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

In a recent post on Brexit Central , Michael Burrage examines the growth of different countries’ exports to the EU12 over 1993-2015 and asks:

‘How can trading with the EU under WTO rules be the worst possible option when the exports to the EU of 15 countries which have been doing just that over 23 years of the Single Market have grown four times as much as those of the UK, despite all the tariff and non-tariff barriers they have faced?’

The answer is ‘easily’!

(more…)

August 7th, 2018

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3 August 2018

Photo of Emily LydgateDr Emily Lydgate is a lecturer in Law, Dr Peter Holmes is a reader in Economics and Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex.  They are all fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

 

In describing the future regulatory relationship between the EU and UK, the recent UK White Paper proposes the notion of ‘equivalence’ in some areas. This may seem like a mere technical requirement, but equivalence is a loaded word in trade policy circles, and the UK government’s reliance on it bears further scrutiny.

With respect to goods, ‘equivalence’ shows up in two main ways. First, the UK states that it will maintain equivalence (rather than exact harmonisation with EU regulation) for some food policy rules in the context of a (more…)

August 3rd, 2018

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Trouble Ahead for post-Brexit Trade with the UK?

24 May 2018

Professor Erika Szyszczak is a Professor of Law at the University of Sussex and is a member of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

If, and when the UK is able to agree a new trade relationship with the EU it will be negotiating within a new EU approach to conducting trade agreements. This will have consequences for the type of agreement(s) the UK is able to negotiate with the EU, as well as the replication of any trade agreements negotiated by the EU and the rest of the world before the full Brexit process is finalised. (more…)

May 24th, 2018

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