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 policy makers, 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 - Integrating sustainable development objectives into UK trade policy

Trade policy animated videos

Our videos help to explain the effects of Brexit.

‘Grandfathering the EU’s Free Trade Agreements’ explains why rolling over these agreements is likely to be highly complicated, and will necessarily impact on trade. When the UK leaves the EU, it must also leave the EU’s free trade agreements with over 60 countries that it is currently a member of via the EU. The UK government intends to roll over these agreements so that they continue to apply, known as grandfathering. However, because of Rules of Origin and other clauses in some of these agreements, this will not be a simple cut and paste ‘UK’ job. This video explains why rolling over these agreements is likely to be highly complicated, time-consuming and will necessarily impact on trade.

‘The ins and outs of the Single Market’ explains what the Single Market is, how it works and the ways it effects trade, and thereby the economy. Ultimately, the video explains that there is a trade-off between making your laws independently and cooperating sufficiently to be a part of a bigger market and achieve higher incomes.

‘The Customs Union: The Fiction of ‘Frictionless’ Trade’ shows what leaving the EU Customs Union entails and that you need much more cooperation than just a customs union in order to achieve the same level of trade costs as we have now.

‘With or without EU’ shows that in terms of trade policy 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.

Grandfathering the EU’s Free Trade Agreements

The ins and outs of the Single Market

The Customs Union: The Fiction of ‘Frictionless’ Trade

With or without EU

November 25th, 2016

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Share this article: 11th June 2018 Alasdair Smith is an Emeritus Professor of Economics and Dr Peter Holmes is Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex. They are both Fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. On June 7, after prolonged internal discussion, the UK government published its paper proposing the extension to the whole UK of the ‘backstop’ provision in the EU draft withdrawal agreement to incorporate Northern Ireland (NI) into the EU’s customs territory until another solution can be found for the problem of the Irish border. The UK is unenthusiastic about the backstop and hopes it will not be needed, but wants any backstop to cover the whole UK, so as to avoid the need for border inspections of trade between NI and the rest of the UK (GB). Perhaps surprisingly, the government paper does not address the fact that the EU’s proposal is for NI to be… Read More

June 11th, 2018

Posted In: UK- EU

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Share this article: 1 June 2018 L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory. President Trump threatened them two months ago and invited various countries to avoid them by agreeing ‘voluntarily’ to curtail their exports to the USA. Korea, Argentina, Australia and Brazil agreed to do so but, to their credit, Canada, the European Union and Mexico did not, and so face 25 percent tariffs from today.

June 1st, 2018

Posted In: UK - Non EU

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Share this article: 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.

May 24th, 2018

Posted In: UK- EU

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