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. Created in June 2016, the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) aims to ensure that new trade policies are constructed in a manner that benefits all.

Our mission

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 independent expert analysis, commentary and inputs from people experienced in trade policy formation and practice.

The UKTPO, a partnership between the University of Sussex and Chatham House:

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.


The UK Trade Policy Observatory offers a wide range of expertise and services to help support government departments, national and international organisations and businesses to strategise and develop new trade policies in the post-Brexit era. The Observatory holds debates across the UK, monitors developments in UK trade and trade policy and provides analysis and briefings on many aspects of the UK’s emerging trade policy.

The observatory has identified seven priority areas:

  • Overall Trade Strategy, including the internal effects of trade agreements and trade instruments such as the selection of standards, preferences and services regulation
  • Monitoring the treatment of UK exports by others and UK de facto import policy
  • Devising policies for UK trade with developing and least developed countries
  • Negotiation support
  • Institutional design
  • Enforcement (including trade defence instruments; WTO rights)
  • Training for negotiating teams, government and other interested parties.

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.

We are a Centre of Excellence

The UKTPO has been selected by the University of Sussex as a Centre of Excellence, chosen for its collaborative and innovative research that addresses areas of global importance. Trade policy worldwide has changed rapidly and become more complex. The trade policy decisions the UK makes will shape social, economic and welfare outcomes for generations across the United Kingdom.

Professor Michael Gasiorek, Director of the UKTPO, said, “Trade affects many aspects of our lives: from the jobs we do to the food we eat and the environment we live in. The trade policy decisions the UK makes will shape social, economic and welfare outcomes for generations to come. As well as Brexit, other factors such as COVID-19, the rise of the digital economy, climate change and supply chain resilience mean that the need for rigorous innovative research and impartial trade policy analysis is greater than ever.”

Recognitions such as this encourage us to continue our independent original research on trade, provide impartial, evidence-based advice and commentary, offer extensive training to policymakers and practitioners and provide mentoring, support and engagement opportunities to young scholars. We will carry on combining academic research with think-tank activities and extensive policy and stakeholder engagement.

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