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 - UK-EU Free Trade Agreement: Please, sir, I want some more

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: 8 July 2020 Dr Minako Morita-Jaeger, International Trade Policy Consultant and Fellow, UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex. Japan and the UK launched the Japan-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiation on 9th June. The two governments agreed to “work quickly to make the new partnership as ambitious, high standard, and mutually beneficial as the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement”.[1] As negotiations accelerate, there are three fundamental issues to consider when assessing the deal.

July 8th, 2020

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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Share this article: 3 July 2020 A car constructed entirely of Korean components could be classed as Made in Britain under proposals put forward by the UK Government to the EU, our new analysis reveals. As part of its negotiations over a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), the UK is calling on the EU to allow it to escape EU tariffs on products made with imported parts from any country in the world that both the EU and the UK have FTAs with. The UK Government is requesting that goods using inputs imported from third parties should be treated as if they had been made in the UK so long as the two relevant FTAs have equivalent rules of origin.

July 3rd, 2020

Posted In: UK- EU

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Share this article: 1 July 2020 Jaime de Melo is Emeritus Professor at the University of Geneva and a Researcher at the International Growth Centre. Africa is the last continent to be hit by COVID-19. Toward the end of June, reported cases neared 300,000 and deaths 8,000 across the 54 countries. Coordination across countries has been low in spite of the cross-border nature of the pandemic and its effects.  The Regional Economic Communities (RECs), whose principal function was coordinating trade policy, and other supra-national institutions provide the institutional framework for the needed cooperation and joint action. The latter has proved difficult in the past, but recent actions give hope that COVID-19 might be the spark to start implementing the Africa Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) in earnest.

July 1st, 2020

Posted In: UK - Non EU

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