Welcome to the UK Trade Policy Observatory

Following the decision to leave the EU, the UK needs to reconfigure its trade policy, successfully navigating a path through a new international trade landscape. The UK Trade Policy Observatory aims to ensure that new trade policies are constructed in a manner that benefits all.

For over four decades, the EU has handled most elements of international trade policy on Britain’s behalf. Brexit changes all that and there is now an urgent need to debate and define the UK’s place in the international trading system and then to negotiate it with our partners. This requires expert analysis, commentary and inputs from people experienced in trade policy formation and practice.

The UK Trade Policy observatory (UKTPO), a partnership between the University of Sussex and Chatham House, is an independent expert group that:

1) Initiates, comments on and analyses trade policy proposals for the UK;

2) Trains British policymakers, negotiators and other interested parties through tailored training packages.

Created in June 2016, the UKTPO is committed to engaging with a wide variety of stakeholders 
to ensure that the UK’s international trading environment is reconstructed in a manner that benefits all in Britain and is fair to Britain, the EU and the world.

Latest Briefing Paper - Brexit food safety legislation and potential implications for UK trade

Trade policy animated videos

Our videos help to explain the effects of Brexit.

‘Brexit: Where does it hurt?’ portrays the potential shock that a ‘no deal’ Brexit may have on jobs across 632 parliamentary constituencies in Britain. Many studies, including the Government’s own analysis, suggest that Brexit will be costly for the UK because it will increase the costs of trading with the EU. Based on an estimate that suggests a ‘no deal’ Brexit will cause national GDP to fall by about 2.5%, we find that job losses tend to be concentrated in large areas of employment, such as cities and large towns. Yet, once we allow for commuting, the economic cost of Brexit is much more widely spread.

More trade explainers are available on our animations page:

  • Rolling over the EU’s Free Trade Agreements
  • The Single Market
  • Customs Union
  • UK trade with the EU

November 25th, 2016

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Share this article: 04 December 2019 L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory. The Prime Minister seems to think that an ‘oven-ready’ Brexit deal is the best that we can choose from the menu of policy alternatives. It sounds neither appetising nor nourishing, but if it really were quick and easy, maybe it would be worth it. But it’s not quick or easy: ‘oven-ready’ is just not true. It is true that a Withdrawal Agreement exists and could be put to Parliament in December, but even that is not ready-to-go and passing the Withdrawal Agreement is not the same as Brexit. A couple of examples of how the Withdrawal Agreement is part-baked: The financial settlement (the price tag) is not specified. The Conservative manifesto promises Northern Ireland ‘unfettered access’ to the market in Great Britain. Launching it, two Cabinet Ministers said ‘There will never… Read More

December 4th, 2019

Posted In: UK- EU

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Share this article: 5 November 2019 Border posts could be required at Gretna Green and the Severn Bridge in response to widening regional standards in food safety that could open up after Brexit, our new Briefing Paper warns. Our analysis warns of the potential for very different regulatory approaches between the UK Government and devolved authorities towards controversial food practices including chlorinated chicken, GM crops and pesticides. The existence of such discrepancies would likely have a significant and detrimental impact on the UK’s ability to strike trade deals, analysis by Dr Emily Lydgate, Chloe Anthony and Prof Erik Millstone has warned.

November 5th, 2019

Posted In: UK- EU

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Share this article: 24 October 2019 Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and a Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.  There has been some discussion that the unique arrangements outlined in the Protocol on Northern Ireland within the Withdrawal Agreement between the UK and the EU mean that Northern Ireland may get the best of both worlds – tariff-free access to both the EU Single Market and the UK market. This is because Northern Ireland will remain in the UK’s customs territory, however, for trade between Northern Ireland and the EU (and therefore the Republic of Ireland) the EU’s Union Customs Code will apply, with no tariffs or other restrictions. Northern Ireland will also remain within the EU’s single market for agriculture and manufactured goods. The aim of this blog is to think through this carefully.

October 24th, 2019

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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