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Image of Alan Winters21 August 2017

L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics and Director of UKTPO.

Economists for Free Trade (EfFT) are back, offering the Introduction to an unpublished – and hence unknown – report that claims £135 billion benefits from Brexit. It not only repeats the previous claim that GDP will increase by 4% if the UK adopts free trade, which I characterised  as ‘doubly misleading’ in April, but it adds in an extra 2% from ‘improved regulation’, 0.6% from our net budget contribution to the EU and 0.2% from removing the ‘subsidy to unskilled immigration’. It also promises faster growth as well.

I’ll come back to free trade, but, first, what regulations will be improved? We are not told. Similarly, what subsidy to immigration? Who knows? The budget contribution to the EU may be saved, but we will need to spend much of it on providing replacements for various EU regulatory bodies such as the European Medicines Agency, on negotiating new deals on things like airlines or nuclear isotopes, supporting farmers (which EfFT apparently accepts), on customs formalities on trade with the EU, on managing alleged unfair trade and on trade disputes, etc. Until we see the details, you have to doubt these numbers. (more…)

August 21st, 2017

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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16 August 2017

Dr Peter Holmes Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO

The UK government has just issued its official position paper on the issue of the customs union and Brexit. It emphasises a desire for the “most frictionless trade possible in goods between the UK and the EU” and proposes two ways of achieving this in the long term, while making it clear that the UK will leave the EU’s customs union when it leaves the EU.

The first option it proposes is a “streamlined customs arrangement” which sounds like a form of free trade agreement (but there is no mention of this as an aim). It involves keeping in place a number of the existing customs arrangements and using (untested) electronic technology to ensure the smooth processing of all documentation. The stated aim is to keep border arrangements as close as possible to what they are now to maintain continuity for businesses. (more…)

August 16th, 2017

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14 August 2017

After Brexit, the UK will have to leave the EU Customs Union (CU) and become a legally separate customs territory. It might then, however, seek to create a new Customs Union with the EU to cover their mutual trade.

The UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex (UKTPO) has produced this short animated video that explains what this entails, and what kind of an agreement the UK and the EU would need to establish in order to achieve the same level of trade costs as we have now.

Ultimately, the video explains, a Customs Union will not produce ‘frictionless’ trade without re-creating several aspects of current EU membership. With Brexit negotiations already underway, it emphasises that maintaining a customs union is just one part of the story; and not, by itself, the be all and end all for achieving a smooth trading process.

 

August 14th, 2017

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23 June 2017

L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics and Director of UKTPO and Ilona Serwicka, Research Fellow at UKTPO

One year ago the British people voted to leave the EU. Out of 33.5 million votes cast, 51.9 per cent were for ‘leave’, albeit in the absence of any statement about what ‘leaving’ might mean. The government is still vague about what the UK’s post-Brexit trade policy should be – even after triggering the formal leave process – but the general election has pressured Theresa May to soften her Brexit stance. Even though Brexit negotiations are now formally under way, the options suddenly again seem wide open for debate.

In terms of options the UK is back at square one, but following a year’s analysis, it is now clearer what these options amount to. Over the year, the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has discussed many of the options and this note draws on some of that analysis to try to light the path forward. (more…)

June 23rd, 2017

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Image of Alasdair Smith19 June 2017

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

It’s now 12 months since the referendum decision, 3 months since the Article 50 notification, and only 21 months until the date on which the UK is due to exit the EU. Brexit negotiations start today, but most politicians have still not progressed beyond the stage of wishful thinking.

There are ambiguities about the objectives of both the large political parties but each seems to want some kind of free trade agreement (FTA) with the EU after Brexit, often described by a phrase like ‘tariff-free access to the single market’. Behind such inherently confused terminology lies an apparent wish to have a ‘deep’ FTA; that is to say, a UK-EU FTA which has no tariffs and sufficient regulatory convergence between the UK and the EU that many of the non-tariff advantages of the single market are retained.

Here’s the first hard truth: a deep UK-EU FTA cannot be negotiated in 21 months. Even much weaker agreements take longer, especially if the political and technical ground has not been prepared in advance, so it’s not ‘challenging’ or ‘ambitious’ or ‘difficult’: everyone who understands the reality of trade negotiations knows that it is completely impossible. (more…)

June 19th, 2017

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12 June 2017, 

L. Alan Winters CB, Professor of Economics and Director of UKTPO.

Suddenly everyone is talking again about the UK’s new trading relationship with the rest of the EU. Given the structure of the new Parliament, any party’s views may turn out to be pivotal. This blog is partly about what the parties say and partly about making conversation between them fruitful by clarifying the language. (more…)

June 12th, 2017

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Portrait image of David Bowlesimage of Iyan I.H. Offor12 June 2017

Guest blog by Iyan I.H. Offor, Trade & Animal Welfare Project Officer at Eurogroup for Animals and David BowlesAssistant Director, Public Affairs, RSPCA.

The Conservative Government has been quick to highlight the potential benefits and quick wins for animal welfare made possible by new UK trade competencies post-Brexit. However, experience with the reality of trade negotiations is making some animal welfare organisations more sceptical.

The UK has some of the highest standards in the world enacted under a legislative model. This is in contrast to the approach of the US and Canada, for example, which place reliance upon voluntary industry standards. Diverging welfare standards can result in increased imports of low-welfare products for two reasons. First, lower animal welfare standards are invariably linked to cheaper production which out-factors transport costs. Second, there are no effective mandatory product labelling mechanisms for animal welfare, except for shell eggs. Thus, although consumers express willingness to buy higher welfare products and to pay a premium for such products, they inadvertently purchase low welfare meat and dairy because the market does not operate transparently. This puts the livelihoods of British farmers who comply with animal welfare production requirements at risk. (more…)

June 12th, 2017

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30 May 2017

The UK has accounted for a major share of the world’s wine imports for centuries, and wine currently accounts for more than one-third of UK alcohol consumption. Its withdrawal from the European Union (Brexit) will therefore affect not only UK wine consumers, producers, traders, distributors and retailers but also suppliers of those imports.

Based on a model of the world’s wine markets, in their Briefing PaperWill Brexit harm UK and global wine markets?’ Professor Anderson and Glyn Wittwer determine the impacts of various alternative Brexit scenarios through to 2025, involving adjustments to UK and EU27 bilateral tariffs on wine imports and any changes to UK income growth and the value of the pound over the period of adjustment.

Their research indicates that for wine markets, the impact of the UK leaving the Customs Union is likely to come not only from tariff changes but also from slowed growth of UK incomes and devaluation of the pound. (more…)

May 30th, 2017

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26 May 2017

Compiled by Fellows of the UKTPO

Brexit will leave many areas of UK policy open to change. International trade policy is among the most important of these for UK prosperity and also among the most immediate because the status quo cannot simply be extended. This is the fifth in a series of blogs reporting what the major political parties say about trade policy in their 2017 manifestos, as they become available.

The UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has set out a series of issues that it believes should be considered in any election manifesto that might form the basis of the UK’s future trade policy. The table below checks whether or not the UKIP Manifesto mentions these important elements explicitly or implicitly. Following that we offer a brief commentary on the treatment of trade policy in the manifesto. (more…)

May 26th, 2017

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19 May 2017

Compiled by Fellows of UKTPO

Brexit will leave many areas of UK policy open to change. International trade policy is among the most important of these for UK prosperity and also among the most immediate because the status quo cannot simply be extended. This is the third in a series of blogs reporting what the major political parties say about trade policy in their 2017 manifestos, as they become available.

The UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) has set out a series of issues that it believes should be considered in any election manifesto that might form the basis of the UK’s future trade policy. The table below checks whether or not the Conservative Manifesto mentions these important elements explicitly or implicitly. Following that we offer a brief commentary on the treatment of trade policy in the manifesto. (more…)

May 19th, 2017

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