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Erika Szyszczak11 April 2019

Erika Szyszczak is Professor of Law at the University of Sussex and a fellow of UKTPO.

Tempting as it is to work through the lyrics of the Paul Simon song,* the latest round of Brexit talks between the UK and the EU are already translating into the movie: The Long Goodbye.

By a Decision adopted on 11 April 2019, the European Council – under the patient and saintly leadership of Donald Tusk – agreed to grant the UK a second extension to Article 50 TEU either until 31 October 2019, or, an earlier date (if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified) or until 31 May 2019 if the UK fails to hold elections to the European Parliament. The UK has in fact put in place an Order to facilitate the organisation of the elections to the European Parliament. (more…)

April 12th, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters3 April 2019

Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory.

Understandably the politics surrounding the UK’s exit from the EU are dominating current discussions. But the economics of the options still matter, and it is not always evident how well the core economic issues are understood.

In the light of the Government’s ‘approach’ to Labour to find a consensus and in the light of the indicative votes, the aim of this blog is to clearly outline the economic issues and summarise the likely consequences associated with two of the current (indicative) options. (more…)

April 3rd, 2019

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1 April 2019

Dr Ingo Borchert is Senior Lecturer in Economics and Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex. Both are fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. 

During the first round of the indicative voting process at Parliament, the motion that proposes a permanent customs union attracted the second highest number of Ayes and was rejected by the slimmest margin of all eight motions.  This result shows the prevailing preoccupation with trade in merchandise goods.  Amongst other things, a customs union alone does nothing for services trade.  In this blog, we set out why the continued neglect of services trade is a major concern for the UK economy.[1] A twin-jet aircraft with just one engine on would ordinarily be bound for an emergency landing rather than for a smooth journey ahead. (more…)

April 1st, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters29 March 2019

Nicolo Tamberi is Research Assistant in Economics for the UK Trade Policy Observatory and L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the Observatory.

The eight EU Trade Agreements that the UK has rolled-over replicate current trading conditions with their respective partners to a substantial extent. However, conditions could still deteriorate for at least two reasons:

  • A bilateral negotiation that excludes the EU can only partially overcome possible problems with rules of origin;
  • UK regulation and/or certification can be recognised only where partners have not tied themselves to EU regulations. Where they have, recognition of UK regulation and certification must wait until the UK also aligns with the EU.

(more…)

March 29th, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters14 March 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. L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

Key points:

  • Around 72% of UK’s MFN tariff lines will see reduced protection.
  • The UK’s average MFN tariff is reduced significantly, from around 7.7% to 0.7%; however this does little to increase the share of duty-free imports.
  • The UK’s MFN tariff proposal will reduce tariffs on many products imported from countries currently trading on WTO terms, but increase them on imports from the EU.

Following the first defeat of the Withdrawal Bill in Parliament, and prior to yesterday’s vote on a ‘No Deal’ alternative, the Government published the temporary tariff schedule it proposes to apply in the event of a no deal. As with most things Brexit, this is complicated to unpick, especially as some of the listed items are simply asterisked, and the details on these need to be found in another (1400 page) document! (more…)

March 14th, 2019

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Image of Alan Winters12 March 2019

Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory and L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

Tariffs are the simplest and most direct of the tools of trade policy: they are taxes on imports. Broadly speaking, high tariffs help to shelter domestic industries from international competition, whereas lower tariffs increase competition and benefit consumers through both lower prices and permitting a wider variety of products to choose from. Despite saying that taking back control of its trade policy is imperative and that the UK may have its own trade policy in under three weeks (30th March), the Government has yet to reveal its policy for UK tariffs. The Financial Times recently reported that the plan was to eliminate the majority of industrial tariffs and, in the same vein, Sky News reported on the Government’s intention to cut 80-90% of all tariffs to zero. Many business owners are anxiously awaiting further information, as they may have only a matter of weeks to adjust to changes that could seriously affect their business. (more…)

March 12th, 2019

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27 February 2019

Ilona Serwicka is Research Fellow in the economics of Brexit and Peter Holmes is a Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex. Both are Fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

There are proposals to relax customs rules and duties in specially-designated areas known as free ports or more generally free zones. But these would make little impact on rebuilding the UK economy after Brexit, reveal Dr Serwicka and Dr Holmes in our latest Briefing Paper ‘What is the extra mileage in the reintroduction of ‘free zones’ in the UK?’ (more…)

February 27th, 2019

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19 February 2019

Ilona Serwicka, Research Fellow in the economics of Brexit at the UK Trade Policy Observatory and Nicolo Tamberi, Research Assistant in Economics for the Observatory.

Earlier this month, Japanese car manufacturer, Nissan made an unexpected U-turn and announced that it was no longer planning to manufacture its new X-Trail SUV model at the Sunderland plant. In a statement, Nissan said that:

‘while we have taken this decision for business reasons, the continued uncertainty around the UK’s future relationship with the EU is not helping companies like ours to plan for the future’.[1]

Yesterday, another Japanese car manufacturer, Honda, said that it was going to close its Swindon plant in 2021, and consolidate its production operations in Japan – a move that is going to put some 3,500 jobs at risk, with more jobs threatened in the supply chain. Early speculation suggests that tariff-free access to the EU is among the factors behind the company’s decision.[2]

Although neither Nissan nor Honda explicitly blamed Brexit for a decision to scale down their operations in the UK, Brexit provides the context for the decisions and for the steps that can be taken to cope with them. (more…)

February 19th, 2019

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12 February 2019

Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer in Economics and Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex. Both are fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

As a member of the EU, the UK is party to around 40 Free Trade Agreements (FTAs) with more than 70 countries. Over the last two years or so, the Government has stated that it intends to roll over, or more formally, ‘replicate’ these agreements. Indeed, in 2017 Liam Fox claimed that ”we’ll have up to 40 ready for one second after midnight in March 2019”. However, in recent weeks it has become clear that this is not going to happen,[1] and that at best there will only be a very small number of agreements replicated.[2] In this blog, we give some summary statistics outlining why this matters economically and which sectors are most vulnerable. We also discuss why, practically, very few agreements can be replicated by the current withdrawal date.

(more…)

February 12th, 2019

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11 February 2019

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

Parliamentary discussions on Brexit seem to be making no progress towards a decision that can command a majority and the timetable for future Parliamentary votes is uncertain. The only result of last week’s discussion in Brussels was an agreement to hold further talks later this month, a jaw-droppingly relaxed timetable in the circumstances.

The Labour Party leadership has produced a statement with two objectives both of which are probably unattainable: a customs union with the EU in which the UK has a significant voice in the setting of EU trade policy, and a close relationship with the single market that falls short of membership. The Conservative Party is having internal discussions (with civil service support, a constitutional innovation) about the Malthouse Compromise, whose oxymoronic objectives are a new backstop that is not a backstop or an agreed withdrawal without a withdrawal agreement.

Out of this unpromising material, however, some outcome must emerge before March 29. (more…)

February 11th, 2019

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