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 63 - Post-Brexit: Trade in goods and services (II)

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: 26 November 2021 Chloe Anthony is an ESRC-funded doctoral researcher in environmental law at the University of Sussex Law School. 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. L. Alan Winters is Professor of Economics and Founding Director of UKTPO. Trade deals primarily aim to facilitate trade between countries by lowering barriers to trade in both goods and services. Many of these barriers are increasingly concerned with different regulations across countries and also with so-called ‘non-trade policy areas’ such as labour or environmental standards. The UK’s most recent FTAs – for example, the UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement, the UK-Japan Comprehensive Economic Partnership – aim for cooperation beyond trade. The domestic impacts of trade deals – economic, social and environmental – can be significant, so it is important that UK… Read More

November 26th, 2021

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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Share this article: 8 November 2021 L. Alan Winters is Professor of Economics and Founding Director of the UKTP0 and Guillermo Larbalestier is Research Assistant in International Trade at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO. Key Findings: To date, the UK government has signed no new trade agreements relative to what it would have had as a continuing member of the EU. The Government estimates that the two agreements in principle announced this year (Australia and New Zealand) will increase UK Gross Domestic Product by between £200 and £500 million annually – that is, 0.01% to 0.02% (one to two ten-thousandths) of GDP or between £3 and £7 per head of population – and that only after they have bedded down over 15 years or so . We were asked to sum up the economic benefits of the UK’s new post-Brexit trade agreements. Our first observation is… Read More

November 8th, 2021

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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Share this article: 29 October 2021 Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex. The impounding of a UK fishing boat by the French authorities on Thursday is symptomatic of the tensions in the wider political relationship between the UK and France, which goes beyond the implementation of the fisheries part of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with the EU. It is also symptomatic of the political importance of the fisheries sector on both sides of the Channel. Brexit was about ‘taking back control’, and with regard to fishing, for the UK Government, that meant taking back control of UK waters. The actual agreement, however, fell far short of what the fisheries industry had hoped for.

October 29th, 2021

Posted In: UK- EU

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