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 - Can the UK Government be ‘world-leading’ in both trade and climate policy?

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: 28 July 2020 Peter Holmes is a Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex and Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex. Both are Fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. The Department for International Trade (DIT) Freeports consultation document states duty inversion as one of the four core benefits of a Freeport: “If the duty on a finished product is lower than that on the component parts, a company could benefit by importing components duty free, manufacture the final product in the Freeport, and then pay the duty at the rate of the finished product when it enters the UK’s domestic market.”

July 28th, 2020

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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Share this article: 14 July 2020 Alasdair Smith is an Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and is a member of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. There were no surprises in yesterday’s government announcement of the post-Brexit ‘points-based’  immigration rules (except for those who thought that a provision for health and care might actually cover social care workers). The government’s stated objectives are “flexibility and control over our borders”. However, an essential feature of the points-based scheme is that it is not actually operated at the border, but in the jobs market through the rules that non-UK employees must satisfy in order to take up a job offer in the UK. EU citizens will continue to have visa-free entry to the UK: the change for them is in their right to take up employment in the UK. (In all of this, Irish citizens are treated the same as… Read More

July 14th, 2020

Posted In: UK- EU

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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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