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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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31 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 sixth 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 SNP 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 31st, 2017

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24 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 fourth 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 Green Party Manifesto mentions these important elements explicitly or implicitly. Following that we offer a brief commentary on the treatment of trade policy in the manifesto.

A central aim of the Green Party is for the UK to remain in the EU, or at least in the single market. The former implies no change to current trade policies and hence little need to discuss them in the manifesto. Thus their coverage of trade policy beyond that with the EU is restricted to human rights and social and environmental conditions.

(more…)

May 24th, 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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18 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 second 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 Liberal Democrats’ Manifesto mentions these important elements explicitly or implicitly. Following that we offer a brief commentary on the treatment of trade policy in the manifesto.

The central plank of the Liberal Democrats’ manifesto is remaining in the single market and the customs union. This implies no change to current trade policies and hence little need to discuss them in the manifesto. Thus their coverage of trade policy is rather sparse. (more…)

May 18th, 2017

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26 April 2017

On 22 February 2017, UKTPO, CBI and the TUC held an event in Newcastle that brought together employees and employers to discuss the important regional issues for post-Brexit trade. This guest blog by Sarah Glendinning, Regional Director for the North East, CBI; and Beth Farhat, Regional Secretary, Northern TUC draws on this discussion.

Now that Brexit negotiations are officially underway it’s important to consider what kind of deal workers and businesses want from negotiations, and what kind of deal will enable all parts of the country to develop and prosper after we leave the EU.

As representatives of working people and businesses from across the North East, we are seeking a Brexit deal that ensures stability and delivers decent jobs, fair pay and growth for the region. (more…)

April 26th, 2017

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Image of Alan Winters

19 April 2017

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

In this blog, Professor Winters responds to Patrick Minford and Edgar Miller’s recent paper on unilateral free trade in relation to Brexit.

Economists for Free Trade’s Patrick Minford recently suggested that the UK should

simply eliminate our tariffs on them [the EU], and by implication – under WTO rules – on everyone else. By doing so, we would achieve free trade for our consumers with one quick move [and increase consumer welfare by 4%] Minford (2017).

This, he explains in a fuller exposition, is achievable ‘via Unilateral Free Trade’ – see page 8 of Minford and Miller (2017), henceforth referred to as M&M.

But this claim is misleading or worse:

  • It is based on a very particular view of the world economy,
  • Even in M&M’s own analysis, the benefits of 4% of welfare (or GDP) depend on far more than ‘simply eliminating tariffs’; they also require deeper integration with the EU and a race to the bottom on standards;
  • M&M assume that the devaluation of sterling will have no effect on the prices of UK imports!

(more…)

April 19th, 2017

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29 March 2017

New analysis shows that the nations of the UK are exposed to trade with the EU in quite different ways. If the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal the effects across regions will be quite different and this should therefore influence our trading priorities

Our Fellows have analysed trade data to examine the regional and sectoral impact of Brexit as well as the overall national impact.

Their findings, portrayed in a short video animation show that choosing trade priorities on the basis of aggregate UK data does not take into account the fact that the nations within the UK are exposed to trade with the EU in different ways.

(more…)

March 29th, 2017

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Photo of Emily Lydgate7 February 2017

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

While the UK government White Paper on leaving the EU may be light on detail, it does suggest that securing UK environmental protections is near the bottom of its list of priorities, with a scant dedicated paragraph (8.41). Compare this with its complete section on worker’s rights; or compare to the country of Wales, which includes maintaining social and environmental standards as one of six Brexit priorities. (more…)

February 7th, 2017

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17 January 2017

Dr Peter Holmes (Reader in Economics and member of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex), reacts to Prime Minister Theresa May’s speech on negotiating objectives for exiting the EU.

The speech essentially confirms what we knew already, that sticking to the government’s red lines on the European Court of Justice and free movement would make joining the European Economic Area impossible and so we must leave the single market. (more…)

January 17th, 2017

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