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

Briefing Paper 59 - G7 Leaders should discuss international trade (seriously)

More Briefing papers

Trade policy animated videos

Our videos help to explain the effects of Brexit.

Gains from trade (part 2) looks at why trade results in winners and losers. Specialisation and the competition it creates in and between firms will mean some firms benefit whilst others struggle to adapt and / or compete. These firms may be forced to cut jobs or even close down and this, in turn, impacts on the workers and regions where those firms are located. But trade is only one factor that leads to winners and losers. Technology, for example, has had a significant impact. We show that various policies can help to mitigate the negative effects of trade on workers and regions and how these can be better than protectionism.

More trade explainers are available on our animations page:

  • Free ports fact-checked
  • Brexit: Where does it hurt?
  • 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: 5 May 2021. L. Alan Winters is Professor of Economics and Founding Director of the UKTPO. Guillermo Larbalestier is Research Assistant in International Trade at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO. The Government’s Integrated Review, Global Britain in a competitive age, published in March 2021, presents the Government’s vision for the UK in 2030 and outlines plans to achieve it. It emphasises the importance of Britain asserting its influence on the world stage by sustaining advancements in science and technology, shaping the rules-based international order, and strengthening security and defences at home and overseas. It has a section titled “Putting trade at the heart of Global Britain” and expresses support for the multilateral system, designing rules and ensuring trade is fair and efficient. The document says that it is a “guide for action”; it says lots of the right things, but on the ground… Read More

May 5th, 2021

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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Share this article: 20 April 2021. Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics and Director of the UKTPO. Yohannes Ayele is Research Fellow in the Economics of Brexit at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO. A decline in trade with the EU was expected following the coming into force of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU on the 1st of January. Nevertheless, when the UK January trade figures were released in early March, almost unanimously commentators were surprised by the extent of the decline. We now have the data for February and so in this blog we update the numbers and discuss their significance.

April 20th, 2021

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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Share this article: 16 April 2021 Minako Morita-Jaeger is an International Trade Policy Consultant and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex. On 1st February, the UK asked to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP)[1]. While the request appears motivated more by foreign policy than economic benefit, joining the CPTPP will require the UK to accept CPTPP rules which may impact on UK economy and society in specific ways.

April 16th, 2021

Posted In: UK - Non EU