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Photo of Emily Lydgate 12 September 2019

Chloe Anthony and Dr Emily Lydgate – lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

The US remains top of the list of post-Brexit UK trade negotiations, with Boris Johnson recently putting a quick US deal as a first priority. The US’s strongly-worded negotiating objectives include loosening EU ‘non-science-based’ bans or restrictions on Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), pesticides, food additives, hormone-enhanced meat, in addition to the infamous chlorinated chicken. As former international trade secretary Liam Fox conceded, a US-UK Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that excludes food and agriculture is a non-starter from the US perspective. (more…)

September 12th, 2019

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5 September 2019

Guest blog by Professor Yong-Shik Lee is Director and Professorial Fellow of the Law and Development Institute and Hiram H. Lesar Distinguished Visiting Professor in Law, Southern Illinois University School of Law.

In the last eighteen months, President Trump has re-introduced the use of national security arguments to restrict the USA’s international trade for commercial reasons. I recently warned[1] that the US use of security arguments to justify its additional tariffs on steel and aluminum imports would create a dangerous precedent, and shortly after that, another major trading nation has indeed followed this precedent. (more…)

September 5th, 2019

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27 August 2019Alasdair Smith, author

Alasdair Smith ian Emeritus Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and is a member of the UK Trade Policy Observatory

The adjective ‘undemocratic’ has for a few weeks now been mysteriously attached to the Ireland backstop provision in the Withdrawal Agreement. The prime minister’s letter of August 19th to Donald Tusk, president of the EU Council, at least explained why: the backstop is said to be undemocratic because it binds the UK after Brexit into EU trade and regulatory policies in which it will have no say.

This is not a new idea. From early on in the Brexit debates, many economists assumed there would be compelling economic incentives for a post-Brexit UK to remain in the European Economic Area (EEA). Alan Winters pointed out that this would mean the UK would have to pay (financial contributions to the EU) and obey (EU rules) but with no say (in setting the rules). The Irish backstop is not the same as the EEA, but ‘obey with no say’ is the ‘undemocratic’ objection.

The prime minister’s solution is that the backstop should be replaced by alternative arrangements for the Irish border which would allow the UK to choose its own different trade and regulatory policies. There is widespread agreement that no such alternative arrangements are currently available.

(more…)

August 28th, 2019

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Photo of Emily Lydgate16 July 2019

Chloe Anthony, Ffion Thomas, and Dr Emily Lydgate – lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

In May we published a blog analysing the EU Exit statutory instruments (SIs) on pesticides prepared under the EU Withdrawal Act 2018. One of the key concerns that we raised was that EU restrictions on pesticides with endocrine disrupting properties had been deleted. After this omission was identified, DEFRA responded very swiftly, clarifying that the deletion had been accidental and releasing a new Statutory Instrument (SI). (more…)

July 16th, 2019

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15 July 2019

Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer 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. 

A favourite band (of at least one of the authors of this blog) from the 1980s was the Cocteau Twins (See, or rather listen to…Sugar Hiccup) – well-known for the dreamy unintelligibility of their lyrics.  Which of course leads to the dreamy unintelligibility of some of the promises being made around Brexit. Supporters of Brexit have argued that the UK need not be overly concerned with a ‘No deal’ Brexit. This ranges from positions that ‘No deal’ would not be “as frightening as people think” although there would be “some hiccups in the first year” (David Davies), and that although there may be “some disruption” Britain would “survive and prosper without a deal” (Jeremy Hunt), to arguments that the idea that ‘No deal’ would have a negative impact were “a fantasy of fevered minds” (Jacob Rees Mogg). (more…)

July 15th, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters03 July 2019

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

Last week I was challenged twice for using the term ‘no deal’. There is no such thing, I was told, because, even if the UK does not ratify the Withdrawal Agreement of 25th November 2018, there will still be plenty of deals. At the time I thought, for several reasons, that this was wrong in substance if not literally, but more recently I have concluded that it is also dangerous.  Like we saw in the referendum campaign, it undermines informed debate by deliberately confusing the terminology.

‘The deal’ is an agreement between the EU and the UK ‘setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union’ (Article 50 – Treaty on European Union). ‘No deal’ is the absence of such a deal. For business and the economy, ‘no deal’ has come to mean the absence of a trade agreement under which the UK and the EU trade with each other on terms better than those provided for under the World Trade Organization. The former ‘no deal’ implies the latter – as I argue below – but the reverse is not true. (more…)

July 3rd, 2019

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1st July 2019

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

The British and South Korean governments settled on an agreement in principle on ‘trade continuity’ on 10 June. Although there is no official information on its content or duration, Dr Liam Fox, Secretary of State International Trade, tweeted that it would be a base for an ‘ambitious future free trade agreement (FTA)’ when the UK leaves the EU. If so, what would be possible options for such an FTA? And how realistic are these ambitions? (more…)

July 1st, 2019

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28 June 2019

Nicolo Tamberi is a Research Assistant in Economics for the UK Trade Policy Observatory. Dr Ingo Borchert is Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the Observatory.

On Wednesday, the Department for International Trade (DIT) released its official statistics on inward foreign direct investments (FDI) for the financial year 2018-19.[1] As stated by the DIT, these data measure the inflow of ‘new investment, expansion, and mergers & acquisition’ projects, both publicly announced and not. (more…)

June 28th, 2019

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Erika Szyszczak26 June 2019

Erika Szyszczak is a Research Professor in Law at the University of Sussex and a Fellow of UKTPO

The Dispute Mechanism Systems (DMS) in many trade agreements have lain dormant because countries preferred to use the World Trade Organization (WTO), with its Appellate mechanisms, as the forum to resolve international disputes. This may change in the coming years as the confidence in, and reliability of the WTO, is slowly paralysed by the disruptive attitude of the United States. One question that emerges is whether the use of EU dispute resolution mechanisms offer a faster and clearer approach towards dispute resolution and might serve as a model for future regional trade treaties. (more…)

June 26th, 2019

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07 June 2019

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. (more…)

June 7th, 2019

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