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13 March 2021

Yohannes Ayele is Research Fellow in the Economics of Brexit, Nicolo Tamberi is Research Officer in Economics, and Guillermo Larbalestier is Research Assistant in International Trade at the University of Sussex. All are Fellows of the UKTPO.

On Friday 12 March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) released the UK’s trade in goods figures for January 2021, providing data for the first month following the end of the Brexit transition period. The ONS has provided their own interpretation of these data portraying a rather gloomy scene for UK trade. We have downloaded the raw data and here offer some initial thoughts on what we learn from the changes in trade flows in January 2021. (more…)

March 15th, 2021

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Michael Gasiorek15 December 2020

Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. Nicolo Tamberi is a Research Assistant in Economics for the UK Trade Policy Observatory. 

There has rightly been much talk recently about the disruption and economic damage that would result from a No Deal Brexit, and hence the economic importance of avoiding this outcome. This is on top of the economic havoc being wreaked by the Coronavirus pandemic. Despite this, we have seen the Prime Minister suggesting that No Deal would be a ‘good outcome’ for the UK and that the UK would prosper. How can this be squared? (more…)

December 15th, 2020

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22 October 2020

Dr Minako Morita-Jaeger, International Trade Policy Consultant and Fellow, UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex.

The Japan-UK Free Trade Agreement will be signed soon, the UK’s first post-Brexit trade agreement. While the Agreement has a certain political significance, its economic impact is likely to be very small. This is because it contains very limited improvements relative to the EU-Japan Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA). While a detailed examination will only become possible once the text is put on the public domain, one of the key shortfalls in the agreement appears to be the treatment of investment. (more…)

October 22nd, 2020

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Guest blog by Emily Jones, Associate Professor in Public Policy and Director of the Global Economic Governance Programme and Anna Sands, Research Officer of the Global Economic Governance Programme both at the Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford.

30 September 2020

In the next few weeks Parliament will decide how much scrutiny it has over the UK’s future trade deals. The Trade Bill is currently in the House of Lords, and a series of amendments have been tabled that aim to strengthen Parliament’s role.

As things stand, Parliament’s role will be minimal. The negotiation and ratification of international trade agreements falls under the Royal Prerogative – the making of international treaties is one of the few actions that Ministers can take without the approval of Parliament. (more…)

September 30th, 2020

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14 July 2020
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Alasdair Smith ian 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 UK citizens, and indeed EU citizens in Ireland can enter the UK without passport checks.) (more…)

July 14th, 2020

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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. (more…)

July 8th, 2020

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Image of Alan Winters20 May 2020

L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory, Michael Gasiorek is Professor of 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. 

On Tuesday 19th May the UK’s ‘Global Tariff’ was published. These are the tariffs that will apply on any products that the UK imports on a Most Favoured Nation (MFN) basis from the end of the transition period when the UK is no longer bound by the EU’s Common External Tariff. The published tariffs come after a public consultation on the subject was held in February this year.

This note summarises how the new tariff compares to the UK’s current MFN tariffs (which are also the rates that the UK has bound in the WTO for after the transition period) and outlines what has changed since the tariff consultation. (more…)

May 20th, 2020

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14 January 2020

Dr Anna Jerzewska is a independent customs and trade consultant, an independent advisor with the UN International Trade Centre and also a trade policy and customs consultant for the British Chambers of Commerce.

The UK is due to leave the EU on the 31st January 2020. A new stage of the Brexit process is set to begin – the transition period and negotiations of the future relationship with the EU. At the same time, work on the Northern Irish border arrangements is far from over. A newly established Joint Committee will negotiate the practicalities of implementing the Withdrawal Agreement.

Under the Withdrawal Agreement (“WA”), Northern Ireland would stay in the UK’s customs territory but would at the same time continue applying EU’s customs legislation, tariffs, quotas and, partially, EU Single Market rules. This will avoid a border on the island of Ireland but will mean a de facto customs and regulatory border in the Irish Sea. As a result of this dual status, goods shipped from Great Britain (“GB”) to Northern Ireland (“NI”) will be subject to EU tariffs if they are “at risk of subsequently being moved into the Union, whether by itself or forming part of another good following processing”[1]. What that means has not been fully defined within the text of the Agreement. Article 5(2) clarifies that all goods will be considered to be “at risk”, and thus subject to EU tariffs unless it is established that they will not be subject to commercial processing in Northern Ireland or they are otherwise exempt. This is one of the areas where the Joint Committee will need to introduce practical ways of implementing the agreement. (more…)

January 14th, 2020

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Michael Gasiorek12 December 2019

Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and a Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. Nicolo Tamberi is a Research Assistant in Economics for the UK Trade Policy Observatory. 

Following Brexit, and assuming the UK is no longer part of a customs union with the EU, the UK will be able to sign free trade agreements (FTAs) with third countries. Indeed, the Conservative manifesto aims to have 80% of UK trade covered by FTAs within three years. This is clearly unrealistic, because it would require signing agreements with more than 12 countries within a time-scale which has rarely been achieved for a single agreement.  The objective, however,  highlights that, post-Brexit, there will be a lot of focus on trying to sign FTAs. Other than the somewhat significant matter of signing an agreement with the EU, top of the UK’s FTA wish list is an agreement with the US. (more…)

December 12th, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters9 December 2019

L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory.

Our analysis finds that under the UK-EU Protocol on Northern Ireland, about 75% of Northern Ireland’s imports of goods from other locations, including Great Britain, would be subject to EU tariffs on their arrival in Northern Ireland. This is not easily reconciled with the government’s assertion that Northern Ireland remains within the UK customs territory.

Under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement’s Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland, Northern Ireland’s imports from the EU, including the Republic of Ireland, would face no tariffs. Among imports from elsewhere, the Protocol requires that any goods deemed at risk of moving to the European Union should be subject to the tariffs of the EU rather than those of the UK.

Relying on a a range of statistical data and informed assumptions, the analysis breaks Northern Ireland’s imports down according to the risk criteria in the Protocol and finds that about 82% of Northern Ireland’s imports from non-EU countries and approximately 64% of imports from Great Britain would face EU tariffs. Summing the contributions to Northern Ireland’s imports from the EU (25% of the total), the rest of the world (12%) and Great Britain (63%) suggests that, overall, around 75% of all Northern Irish imports will pay the EU tariff on entering the province.

While goods that are proved to have been sold to final buyers in Northern Ireland can have any EU tariff they have paid rebated, those rebates are likely to be difficult for the private sector to claim and are therefore unlikely to refund much tariff revenue.

Further, since Northern Ireland’s imports from the EU would not face any change under the Protocol but a large share of imports from Great Britain may newly face tariffs, it seems likely that, over time, Great Britain may lose market share in Northern Ireland, both to domestic supply and to increasing imports from the EU.

Further, a Free Trade Agreement between the UK and the EU would not completely avoid the problem. While goods produced in Great Britain exported to Northern Ireland and transiting on to the Republic of Ireland would face no tariffs, they would still need to satisfy rules of origin to prove that they had been produced in Great Britain. Hence there would still be administrative hurdles for such exports to jump.

The analysis was commissioned by the Good Law Project, who explain its context and also provide a link to the evidence.

Disclaimer:
The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the University of Sussex or UK Trade Policy Observatory.

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The UK Trade Policy Observatory believes in the free flow of information and encourages readers to cite our materials, providing due acknowledgement. For online use, this should be a link to the original resource on our website. We do not publish under a Creative Commons license. This means you CANNOT republish our articles online or in print for free.

December 9th, 2019

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