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 Papers

Briefing Paper 60 - CPTPP and agri-food regulation: Crossing the EU-exit rubicon? Briefing Paper 61 - Accessing CPTPP without a national digital regulatory strategy? Hard policy challenges for the UK

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: 7 October 2021 Minako Morita-Jaeger is a Policy Research Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory and a Senior Research Fellow of the University of Sussex Business School. Guillermo Larbalestier is Research Assistant in International Trade at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO. Complex geopolitical landscape Trade policy concerns, national security and defence are increasingly intertwined in the Indo-Pacific region. This is partly driven by geo-political strategic interests and Sino-US rivalry in the Asia-Pacific region, and partly by the shifting economic balance of power towards the region. China formally applied to join the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP) on 16 September, one day after Australia, UK and the US announced the creation of the new security partnership: Australia-UK-US (AUKUS). This should also be seen in the context of the Biden administration’s China containment strategy and an absence of US leadership in… Read More

October 7th, 2021

Posted In: UK - Non EU

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Share this article: 29 July 2021 Yohannes Ayele is Research Fellow in the Economics of Brexit at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO. Since 1 January 2021, the UK’s trading relationship with its biggest and closest trading partner—the EU—has been governed by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). Although the TCA is a zero-tariff and quota-free trade deal, several reports indicate that it is having a negative impact on the UK’s trade with the EU (see, 1, 2, and 3). While looking at the aggregate effect of the TCA on the UK trade is important, such analysis also misses the substantial differential impact of the TCA across the UK’s devolved administrations and regions. Regions in the same country can be affected differently by new trade barriers because of the difference in industrial production structure and, second, the differential exposure of industries to trade policy changes. In this… Read More

July 29th, 2021

Posted In: UK- EU

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Share this article: 29 July 2021 Yohannes Ayele is Research Fellow in the Economics of Brexit at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO. Since 1 January 2021, the UK’s trading relationship with its biggest and closest trading partner—the EU—has been governed by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). Under the TCA, UK exports to the EU face zero-tariff and zero-quota. However, to claim zero tariffs, exporters must meet the rules of origin requirements and be able to provide proof of origin. Where exporters do not meet the requirements they end up paying the tariff. Even those exporters that can meet the rules of origin requirement, because of the cost of the paperwork and requirements for proof of origin needed to claim the zero tariff, they may instead choose to pay the tariff. The latter is more likely where the tariff preference margin (i.e., the difference between MFN… Read More

July 29th, 2021

Posted In: UK- EU

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