The UK Trade Policy observatory (UKTPO) is comprised of academics with expertise in UK and international trade and comprises specialists in economics, law, international business, political economy and development.  We have carried out research and commented on policy on the following subjects:

  • Analysis of trade in goods and services, impact of trade agreements.
  • Non-tariff barriers, rules of origin.
  • Goods and services regulations.
  • Trade in services
  • Brexit and economic uncertainty.
  • UK-EU Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA), and UK free trade agreements
  • The Northern Ireland Protocol, and Windsor Framework.
  • The UK internal market
  • Digital trade, technology regulation, international intellectual property rights and patents.
  • Environment, agriculture, climate change, and sustainable development.
  • Firm productivity and economic growth.
  • Trade with developing countries, developing countries trading scheme (DCTS, former GSP).
  • Foreign direct investment, foreign dis-investment and impacts on the local economy.
  • World Trade Organization and plurilateral agreements.
  • Asian-European trade relations.
  • European trade and integration, trade and income distribution.

Our empirical work is done using several main approaches:

Diagnostic statistics: There is much that can be gleaned from the focussed analysis of descriptives statistics and their changes over time. This ranges from analysing the raw data on trade, to the use of indicators such as with regard to revealed comparative advantage, trade similarity, or export potential. It also includes the development and use of summary measures such as the Rules of Origin Restrictiveness Index (ROO-RI); or the Regulatory Intensity Indicator (RII).

Applied econometrics:  of the effects of policies or the impact of economic shocks (e.g., the Brexit referendum) on trade by product, region or country. In order to estimate the relationship between variables of interest, or the causal effect of a factor on another, these methods require the availability of data at various levels (country, firm, products, regions, etc) over multiple time periods. We have experience in applying a wide range of econometric techniques.

Economic modelling: ex-ante simulations of future scenarios which can result from policies or various types of interventions, such as the impact of a Free Trade Agreement, or the application of a different tariff schedule (different types of Brexit scenarios). We have experience working with both general equilibrium (GE) and partial equilibrium (PE) models, the former allowing the evaluation of a more comprehensive set of outcomes (including labour market and welfare effects), and the latter offering the advantage of a more detailed level of analysis. We have worked more extensively with models and are currently developing further extensions of our PE modelling techniques.

Legal analysis: This work is primarily based on a careful reading and interpretation of the legal frameworks governing trade – be this national (eg. the UK) or international (such as the WTO); the interface between those frameworks and domestic law and processes of scrutiny; as well as detailed case studies as appropriate.

Most members of the UKTPO also carry out work for the Centre for Inclusive Trade Policy (CITP). The CITP, led by the team at the University of Sussex, is an interdisciplinary centre of excellence for innovative trade policy research that provides an evidence-based interdisciplinary approach, founded on consolidated and independent research expertise. Research at the CITP focuses on the impact of trade and external factors on the UK economy, the formulation of UK trade policy, environmental sustainability, the interaction between trade and investment and digital trade and regulation, as well as the broader challenges facing international trade and investment ranging from geo-political disputes to climate change.