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17 October 2018

Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

UK-EU negotiations are in a mess. There appears to be a genuine impasse, where the stumbling block is the issue of no border in Ireland. The EU has indicated it is for the UK to make a better offer, while the UK is arguing that the EU needs to be more reasonable.  Both are right, if they want to avoid ‘no deal’. (more…)

October 17th, 2018

Posted In: UK- EU

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Image of Alan Winters26 September 2018

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

The brusque dismissal of elements of Mrs May’s Chequers plan at the informal meeting in Salzburg last week has stimulated feverish attempts to revive the case for a deep and special UK-EU Free Trade Agreement (FTA), under the title of a CETA-plus agreement. This effort received substantial reinforcement from the Institute for Economic Affairs’ paper of 24 September 2018. None of the discussion, however, has dealt seriously with the fact that an FTA will require the introduction of border formalities on UK-EU trade and that these will both violate the commitment to the absence of a border in Ireland and create serious congestion at those ports dealing with UK-EU flows, which will increase trading costs and cut trade with the EU. (more…)

September 26th, 2018

Posted In: UK- EU

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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

Posted In: UK- EU

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9 July 2018

Dr Michael Gasiorek is Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and Managing Director of InterAnalysis. He is a Fellow of the UKTPO.

In good part, the answer depends on the extent to which this agreement moves on from the Government’s previous position, is feasible, is credible, and is acceptable to the EU. It also depends on whether it will be acceptable to the Conservative party, which the resignations of David Davis and Boris Johnson throw into serious doubt.

In this blog, I focus on one aspect of this –  the extent to which the “facilitated customs arrangement” (FCA), which is central to the agreement notionally reached at Chequers, is substantively different from the previous idea of a “New Customs Partnership” (NCP). (more…)

July 10th, 2018

Posted In: UK- EU

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Image of Alan Winters05 July 2018

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

Two years in and the Cabinet is still squabbling over the UK’s trade relationship with Europe. Among the options most discussed, if not most likely to occur, are

  • The Jersey option – arrangements to provide conditions equivalent to the customs union and the Single Market in goods;
  • Mrs May’sthird way’ customs partnership – where the UK collects EU-level tariffs at the border and rebates them only if UK tariffs are lower and firms can prove that the goods did not leave the UK. Until the UK can convince the EU that the technology to do the latter will actually prevent the leakage of lower-taxed goods into the EU, this is effectively the ‘customs union’; and
  • Unilateral free trade – ‘no deal’ followed by the immediate abolition of all UK tariffs.

This blog does not assess the relative merits of these arrangements, but notes that they share a common flaw: they ignore 80 percent of the British economy! The more successful 80 percent, in fact – the services sectors, in which the UK has a manifest comparative advantage (see below). The advocates of these plans gloss over this difficulty by claiming that the UK can negotiate services trade agreements both with the EU and with other countries. But this is easier said than done. (more…)

July 6th, 2018

Posted In: UK- EU

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22 May 2018

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

Not before time, the UK government is giving attention to the ‘backstop’ provision which will be written into the Withdrawal Agreement for Brexit to avoid a hard border in Ireland.  But rather than focussing on how to sell this politically in the UK, the government needs to address the more pressing question of whether the European Union (EU) will agree to the UK’s preferred version of the backstop. (more…)

May 22nd, 2018

Posted In: UK- EU

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18 May 2018

Julia Magntorn is Research Officer in Economics at the UKTPO.

While Theresa May and her cabinet are trying to agree on whether to back the maximum facilitation proposal or the customs partnership, another option, nicknamed the ‘Norway option’ which would see the UK remaining a member of the European Economic Area (EEA), has made a comeback in the Brexit debate. (more…)

May 18th, 2018

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17 May 2018

Dr Michael Gasiorek is Senior Lecturer in Economics and Dr Peter Holmes is Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex. They are both Fellows of the UKTPO and Managing Director and Director of InterAnalysis respectively. 

The government’s two preferred options for post-Brexit trade with the EU are “Maximum Facilitation” whereby technological solutions are used to simplify trade procedures, and a so-called “New Customs Partnership”.

This blog discusses the implications of the New Customs Partnership (NCP) scheme. It must be borne in mind that the EU has so far rejected both and that in fact the degree of detail currently provided by the Government on either is so slight that we cannot be sure what is proposed. It is also arguable that they are not alternatives since under any scenario the government is keen to ensure the maximum simplification of procedures in order for trade to be ‘as frictionless as possible’. Even if they were viable, both the NCP and the Max Fac proposals involve significant trade-offs – namely that they involve firms in expensive set-up costs in order to be able to reduce transactions costs. (more…)

May 17th, 2018

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2 May 2018

Dr Michael Gasiorek is Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and Managing Director of InterAnalysis. He is a Fellow of the UKTPO.

The red lines laid down by the UK government, and those laid down by the EU, together with the agreement that there will be no ‘hard’ border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are mutually incompatible. This was discussed in some detail in our March 2018 Briefing Paper UK-EU trade relations post-Brexit: binding constraints and impossible solutions. In that Briefing Paper, we concluded that: “The current set of the UK government’s overlapping conditions or constraints cannot be reconciled. The solution space appears to be null. The only way of resolving this is to drop and/or relax at least one or more of the conditions.” (more…)

May 2nd, 2018

Posted In: UK - Non EU

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1 May 2018

Ilona Serwicka is Research Fellow in the economics of Brexit and Charlotte Humma is the Business Manager at the UKTPO.

As the European Union (EU) Withdrawal Bill and the Trade Bill progress through parliament, forming a customs union with the EU has become a key issue. On 18 April 2018, the House of Lords voted to keep open the option of staying in a Customs Union after Brexit, promptly followed by the UK Government reaffirming its intention neither to remain in the EU Customs Union nor to seek to form a new one.

So where does this leave us? (more…)

May 1st, 2018

Posted In: UK- EU

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