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 - Recommendations on the UK Government’s Global Tariff proposals

Trade policy animated videos

Our videos help to explain the effects of Brexit.

Gains from trade (part 1) looks at the reasons why international trade can benefit an economy – be this through specialisation, more competition, or by leading to productivity change. An economy can therefore gain both by trading with countries which are very similar and those that are quite different. But not all firms, people or regions within an economy necessarily benefit from trade, and there may be both winners and losers.

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: 31 March 2020 Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.  On Wednesday 18 March, the UKTPO published a Briefing Paper in response to the UK Government’s consultation on the UK’s future applied Most Favoured Nation tariff. In lieu of a public launch event, which had to be cancelled due to coronavirus, this blog outlines some excellent feedback we have already received and aims to open up the issue for further discussion.

March 31st, 2020

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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Share this article: 30 March 2020  Guest Blog by Ian Clarke, CEO of Excalibur Global Managed Services Ltd. Following on from the previous blog by Erika Szyszczak on the new temporary adaptation of EU state aid rules in the light of the COVID-19 economic crisis, this blog discusses why the UK should take a cautionary approach to special aid being directed to the aviation sector.

March 30th, 2020

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Share this article: 27 March 2020 Erika Szyszczak is Professor Emerita at Sussex Law School and a Fellow of UKTPO. Recent weeks have seen the rapid implementation of measures to manage and maintain EU state aid policy during the COVID-19 crisis. Some Member States, including the UK, have adopted urgent measures to ameliorate damage to their economies. During the transitional period of the Withdrawal Agreement the UK must follow EU law and therefore the responses by the UK Government to the COVID-19 fiscal and economic crisis should comply with EU rules.

March 27th, 2020

Posted In: UK- EU

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