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 - A Post-Brexit Generalized System of Preferences for the UK

Trade policy animated videos

Our videos help to explain the effects of Brexit.

‘Brexit: Where does it hurt?’ portrays the potential shock that a ‘no deal’ Brexit may have on jobs across 632 parliamentary constituencies in Britain. Many studies, including the Government’s own analysis, suggest that Brexit will be costly for the UK because it will increase the costs of trading with the EU. Based on an estimate that suggests a ‘no deal’ Brexit will cause national GDP to fall by about 2.5%, we find that job losses tend to be concentrated in large areas of employment, such as cities and large towns. Yet, once we allow for commuting, the economic cost of Brexit is much more widely spread. We must stress that we are not asserting that the number of jobs lost will be equal to our estimates. People may avoid job losses resulting from lost international trade by accepting lower wages or shorter hours or by moving away, all of which will look different in terms of jobs, but these responses are merely different ways of accommodating to the same negative shock. What is clear, is that the Brexit shock would eliminate a particular number of jobs. For a detailed explanation of the research for this video, please see explanatory note in ‘The vulnerability of different parliamentary constituencies to Brexit economic shocks’

‘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.

November 25th, 2016

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Share this article: Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.  On Thursday last week (May 30) President Donald Trump threatened to levy tariffs on all US imports from Mexico. The UK should take note, as this has implications not only for Mexico, but for the UK as well.

June 7th, 2019

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Share this article: 15 May 2019 Chloe Anthony, Ffion Thomas and Emily Lydgate In this blog, we take a closer look at the legislation that is being used to bring existing EU pesticide regulations into UK law in preparation for leaving the EU. We find that departures from EU pesticides legislation are significant. The new legislation consolidates powers to UK ministers to amend, revoke and make pesticide legislation and weakens both enforcement arrangements and the requirement to obtain scientific advice.

May 15th, 2019

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Share this article: 30 April 2019 Dr Minako Morita-Jaeger is an international trade policy consultant and an Associate Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. The UK managed to avoid crashing out of the EU on 12th April for the second time. But this delay extends uncertainty since the possibility of a No-deal Brexit on 31st October remains. The UK’s trade partners have been looking at Brexit uncertainty with great dismay. Japan is not an exception. Here, I highlight how this uncertainty is affecting Japanese businesses in Europe and analyse possible future UK-Japan trade relations based on the three scenarios currently in the UK political debate. This provides an update to the UKTPO blog on UK-Japan relations. UK’s relative market attractiveness declining in Europe On-going Brexit uncertainty has been diminishing confidence in the UK. According to the JETRO’s (Japan External Trade Organization) annual business survey, Japanese businesses’ evaluation of UK’s… Read More

April 30th, 2019

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