Trade Bites, the UKTPO’s new podcast series, explores all things trade policy – including Brexit, Trade Wars, and the World Trade System.
Hosted by Chris Horseman, Deputy Editor of the Trade Policy News Service – Borderlex, and funded by the Economic and Social Research Council, the series aims to provide a cultural artefact on trade policy at a critical point not just for the UK, but for the wider world.
14 October 2022
Over the past 40 years or so, exporters have got used to the idea that the whole world is their marketplace – a notion which has been encouraged through moves by governments around the world to reduce tariffs and other barriers to trade. But with global pandemics, trade wars, fuel crises and over the past few years – could it be that the process of globalisation might be moving into reverse?
“Near-shoring” is the idea that in today’s increasingly problematic global trading environment, you might be better off buying and selling in markets which are more nearby, and hence less fraught with risk. This episode looks at whether this phenomenon actually happening, how prevalent it is and what is causing it.
24 August 2022
In this podcast we look at how the United Kingdom is getting on with its most significant trade relationship, that with its biggest trading partner the European Union. Over 18 months since the UK finally left the EU’s Single Market and went ahead with the version of Brexit favoured by Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his team, questions are being asked about Britain’s post-Brexit journey. Economic data suggests that the UK’s economy is growing less rapidly than most other G20 countries, and diplomatic relations between the EU and the UK continue to be frosty amidst ongoing disagreements over the implementation of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Many do not realise that the EU-UK relationship is not set in stone. The review clause of the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement means that within a couple of years, the arguments about what sort of relationship the UK wants with the EU will be right back on the table. But how well prepared is the UK to reopen those debates about alignment versus divergence, and sovereignty versus market access? Does the upcoming review create the opportunity for something better – or does it entail the threat of something worse?
To give us their considered opinions on all this, Chris Horseman is joined by Dr Peter Holmes, Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex, Georgina Wright, Senior Fellow and Director of the European Programme at the Institut Montaigne in Paris, as well as two distinguished former director generals at the European Commission, Sir Michael Leigh, now Academic Director of the European Public Policy Masters course at John Hopkins University, and Sir Jonathan Faull, current Chair of European Public Affairs at the Brunswick Group.
20 July 2022
Global supply chains have barely left the headlines in recent years. It is a fact of modern life that many of the goods we consume have multiple components manufactured in different places at different times which somehow come together to create the finished article. Yet global supply chains have started to come under pressure from a series of shocks ranging from the geopolitical to the environmental. From baby formula to cars, when consumers face shortages supply chains become part of everyday vocabulary. Besides the recent dislocations caused by the pandemic and the war in Ukraine, there are inherent political, technical and ethical dimensions to supply chains themselves and how they function.
How could life be made easier for manufacturers of complex goods with complex supply chains? Have supply chains and globalisation become too complex? Will we ever get back to those days where we won’t hear the phrase “we can’t get the parts” as often as we do today? To answer these questions and more Chris Horseman is joined by Dr Sam Roscoe, Research Fellow at the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex Business School, Dr Chad P. Bown, Senior Fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics in the US, and Dr Chul Chung, Senior Research Fellow at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.
13 April 2022
It has been over a year since the UK signed its single most important post-Brexit trade instrument – the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) with the EU – establishing a framework for the UK relationship with the EU in a wide range of areas. In this episode, we consider the full year of data now available for EU-UK trade in goods in 2021 and assess the impact of the Agreement. Bearing in mind that Covid-19 has ensured that everything has been but business as usual, clear trends are starting to emerge and questions are starting to be asked as to exactly what’s happening and why?
Why have the 70-mile queues outside the port of Dover, which the Government postulated in 2020 as a reasonable worst case scenario, failed to materialise? Why has the UK failed so far to impose a full range of checks on goods coming into the UK and what might happen once they start to do so? And how have businesses by and large coped with the extra bureaucracy which being outside of the EU single market has entailed?
To discuss all of these issues and more, Chris Horseman is joined by Professor Michael Gasiorek, Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory, Emily Rees, Founder of Trade Strategies and Senior Fellow at the European Centre for International Political Economy in Brussels, Peter Foster, Public Policy Editor of The Financial Times and author of the ‘Britain after Brexit’ newsletter, and William Bain, Head of Trade Policy at the British Chambers of Commerce.
4 April 2022
The UK signed a bilateral Free Trade Agreement with Australia in December 2021. This is the first ‘new’ Free Trade Agreement (FTA) the UK has negotiated with a trade partner. This ‘world-class’ agreement marks a ‘landmark moment in the historic and vital relationship between our two Commonwealth nations’, according to the international trade secretary, Anne-Marie Trevelyan.
It’s certainly an ambitious Agreement, for one thing it will remove practically all tariff protection for imports of agricultural products – something which the EU would be very unlikely to have countenanced. But what does the agreement deliver in other areas, like services, government procurement, climate protection or digital trade? Furthermore, the Agreement is potentially an important benchmark for future trade negotiations, notably the ongoing application by the UK for accession to the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), so how does it fair in terms of broader trade relations?
To make their assessments of the new agreement, Chris Horseman is joined by Dr Emily Lydgate, Deputy Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory, Dr Minako Morita-Jaeger, Senior Research Fellow in International Trade at the University of Sussex, and Policy Research Fellow at the UK Trade Policy Observatory with special guest, Professor Peter Draper, Executive Director of the Institute for International Trade at the University of Adelaide.
28 March 2022
This episode looks at the climate crisis, and specifically the trade policy response to the push towards net zero in Europe and around the world. A whole market infrastructure has been created in Europe and elsewhere with carbon emission allowances being bought and sold as a way of taxing high-emission producers and providing a financial incentive to encourage more climate-friendly production systems. However, some countries worry that heavy industry might relocate because their climate regulation makes it too expensive to operate. This could be bad for global climate action, as it will result in more greenhouse gas emissions in less regulated countries – a problem called Carbon Leakage.
The European Commission’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) aims to address Carbon Leakage by requiring (for certain products) both imported and domestic products to pay the same carbon price. How will it work? Is it compatible with the rules of the World Trade Organization? And, should the UK have its own version?
Dr Ioannis Zachariadis, Policy Officer at the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Taxation and the Customs Union joins Chris Horseman and Dr Emily Lydgate, Deputy Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory, along with Dr Camilla Jensen, and Dr Peter Holmes, both Fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.
30 November 2021
Who are the ultimate stakeholders in UK trade policy? And how much of a say do they actually have in the policies that ultimately govern us?
Things have certainly moved on since the time, not that long ago, when European and American negotiators would disappear into a room to talk about a Transatlantic trade deal – and come out again giving virtually no information about what they’d been talking about. These days, most governments try a lot harder to be transparent about their trade objectives, and to give their stakeholders at least some input into the process.
But as the UK government settles into its own post-Brexit trade policy, has it learnt good or bad habits from its neighbours and partners? How is Britain doing in its quest to establish a trade policy which is inclusive? And when our trade diplomats negotiate deals on our behalf – are they truly reflecting our interests and our objectives?
Chris Horseman is joined by Professor L. Alan Winters, Founding Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory; Ruth Bergan, Senior Advisor at the Trade Justice Movement; and Professor Daniel Wincott, Blackwell Professor of Law and Society at the University of Cardiff.
17 November 2021
Supply chain issues crashed onto the front pages in the UK this year when petrol stations started running out of fuel. But that was just one aspect of a wider problem. A surge in demand for consumer goods has led to soaring shipping costs, with ships queueing up to get into container ports, and mounting concerns as to whether even Santa will be able to get his presents to us in time for Christmas. But we’re also facing shortages of personnel. Goods can’t get from one to place to another if there’s no-one who can drive the lorry, or if there is no-one who is qualified to sign the necessary certificates for the goods on the back of the truck. The pandemic certainly has a lot to answer for. But, as always in trade policy discussions, the extent to which Brexit is exacerbating, underlying or even causing the problems in the UK is a hot topic of debate.
16 July 2021
In this episode, we’re heading stateside as we take a closer look at the trade relationship between the UK and the United States. In one sense, it’s a relationship that only came into existence when Britain finally left the EU customs union at the end of last year. But that belies the fact that the United States is the UK’s biggest single trading partner, and London has duly inherited most of the trade policy issues which previously exercised Washington and Brussels, and for the most part still do. So how are the post-Brexit UK, and the post-Trump US, getting on trade-wise?
5 July 2021
As the world’s second most populous country, India is an emerging player in global trade, and of course it has deep historical and cultural ties with Britain. In recent times, India has acquired a bit of a reputation as being part of the awkward squad within the international trade community. The received wisdom was that New Delhi wasn’t interested in negotiating trade deals with other countries, or in joining regional trade agreements.
But there are signs that this may be changing. India has sounded enthusiastic about the idea of a trade deal with the UK, perhaps in response to growing fears about the impact of China’s emergence as a trade superpower in the Asian region, or perhaps because it senses opportunities to benefit from Britain’s new status outside of the EU.
So what are the prospects for UK-India trade? What’s India’s game plan, and how likely is it that it will achieve its objectives?
Part of the United Kingdom, but effectively within the EU single market, but still part of the UK’s customs territory – you’d be forgiven for feeling a little confused about just how Northern Ireland fits into things these days.
The problem is that if Northern Ireland remains part of the EU single market, then the EU wants to make sure that anything that enters that single market is compliant with its own rules – even if that stuff comes from Great Britain, which is part of the same country as Northern Ireland. All of which creates a very interesting problem – unless of course you are one of the thousands of businesses involved in trying to move goods to and from Northern Ireland, in which case “interesting” is probably not the adjective you’d choose to use. So what are the next steps in the evolving saga? How did we get into this situation, and, more relevantly, how do we find solutions to the current problems?
21 June 2021
Traditional types of trade are regulated by the World Trade Organisation, under rules which mostly date from 1995 – a time when data exchanges were accompanied by the screech of a modem, and were measured in kilobytes. So it’s perhaps not surprising that there are no meaningful global rules in place at the moment to regulate digital trade. But increasingly, as regional trade deals become more common, frameworks are starting to emerge to provide more legal and commercial certainty for those businesses which trade in cyberspace. But what happens when different jurisdictions have rules which aren’t compatible with each other? And how can we be sure that digital trade is regulated in a way which is fair for all?
To discuss all this and more, Chris Horseman is joined by Ingo Borchert, Eunice Huang, and Johannes Fritz. This podcast is co-organised in collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s Global Future Council on Trade and Investment.
30 March 2021
Up until the end of last year, the UK was part of the EU single market, and British traders had enjoyed frictionless trade with Europe for several decades. But all of that has now changed. Customs formalities are a fact of life, with paperwork to be filled in whether you’re sending a lorry load of precision tools to a factory in Germany, or a few jars of Marmite to your auntie on the Costa Del Sol. Add to that the complexities of rules of origin for manufactured and processed goods, and the particularly onerous rules which now apply on EU imports of agri-food products, and life is suddenly looking a lot tougher for UK exporters. But to what extent do these issues represent teething problems which can be overcome in due course? What could or should the government be doing to make life easier for exporting businesses? And how are British firms coping with the new challenges that they face?
Chris Horseman is joined by Michael Gasiorek, Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory; Anna Jerzewska, Director of the Trade and Borders Consultancy, and Associate Fellow of the UKTPO; and Ian Henry, Owner and Managing Director of AutoAnalysis and Visiting Professor at the Centre for Brexit Studies.
19 March 2021
Disagreements over fisheries nearly sunk last year’s trade negotiations between the UK and the EU. A deal was eventually signed, which repatriated some – but not all – of the fish resources in UK waters back to UK control. However, despite leaving the EU’s Common Fisheries Policy behind, the deal left many in the fishing community somewhat underwhelmed. But what exactly has been agreed? Was it ever realistic to expect a better deal? And were we so preoccupied with establishing our rights to catch fish, that we forgot about the question of how we were going to sell them once they were landed?
To tackle all these questions and more, Chris Horseman is joined by Professor Michael Gasiorek, Director of the UKTPO; Barrie Deas, Chief Executive of the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations; and Suzannah Walmsley, Principal Consultant and Fisheries and Aquaculture Business Development Manager at ABPmer.
04 March 2021
In the 21st century, international trade has almost universal scope, and the UK, like other developed countries, trades with pretty much every other country on earth, including those with some pretty repressive regimes in charge. So how can we shape international trade in a way which encourages our trading partners to uphold certain basic standards, and sanctions them effectively if they don’t? And to what extent is it realistic to expect that trade policy could be used as a tool for improving human rights standards in other countries?
In this episode, Chris Horseman is joined by Dr Mattia Di Ubaldo, Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory; Dr Samantha Velluti, Reader at the Sussex Law School, and an expert on EU law and policy; and Dr Jennifer Zerk, Associate Fellow of the International Law Programme at Chatham House.
25 February 2021
The government has promised to create at least 10 freeports up and down the country, as a key strand of its new post-Brexit trade and industrial policy. There has been a bidding process for sea ports and airports to convert to freeport status, with the deadline for bids expiring on February 5th. But what actually is a freeport? What can you do in them that you can’t do in a non-free port? Enthusiasts for the scheme see freeports as a way of stimulating trade by minimising taxes and red tape, and creating employment in deprived coastal areas. Detractors, on the other hand, are less enthusiastic, citing problems which other freeports around the world have faced with smuggling and other nefarious activities. So are freeports a creative answer to the economic challenges of 21st century Britain, or more of a step back into Jack Sparrow territory?
Chris Horseman is joined by Dr Peter Holmes, Fellow of the UKTPO; Edward Farmer, Managing Director of the UK Free Trade Zone Association; and Paul Swinney, Director of Policy and Research at the Centre for Cities
19 January 2021
The UK’s Trade and Cooperation Agreement with the EU came into force on New Year’s Day. Since then, the focus has mainly been on the border issues, with supermarket supplies running short in a few areas, and lorry drivers’ ham sandwiches being confiscated by Dutch customs officials. But while the UK’s Michael Gove always said there would be ‘bumps in the road’ to begin with, where will the TCA deal ultimately lead us? What sort of an agreement is it, and could it yet be improved upon? And what will it mean for UK businesses which have dealings with the EU?
08 December 2020
This episode examines the question of food standards and how they will affect Britain’s post-Brexit international trade. As the UK leaves the EU, will we be diverging from the European food standards that have applied in Britain for the last few decades? What would be the benefit of diverging? What might be the risks of not diverging? And do the Americans really want to poison us as a core objective of their current free trade agreement negotiations – as you might be led to believe from some recent media headlines?
01 December 2020
Since the Brexit referendum, the trade policy focus has been primarily about how UK businesses will trade with their counterparts in the EU and around the world. But what about intra-UK trade? Surely it stands to reason that there won’t be any problem for a business in England to trade with a business in Scotland? However, closer examination shows that when you strip away the legal framework provided by EU membership, and simultaneously devolve regulatory powers to the administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, some rather unexpected problems can result. The UK Internal Market Bill, currently making its way through Parliament, forms part of the Government’s response to these challenges. But will it solve the problems, or simply exacerbate them?
26 August 2020
The UK imports around twenty-five billion pounds’ worth of pharmaceutical products each year from a wide range of supplier countries. Even during the worst phases of this year’s COVID-19 crisis, we have not run short of essential drugs. But how confident can we be that such a disaster would never happen? Are too many of our pharmaceutical eggs in one basket? What role is there for public policy and trade policy in ensuring that our pharma supply strategy is the right one? And how might Brexit complicate things?
08 June 2020
Britain left the EU on 31 January 2020. But for the time being, hardly anything has changed in terms of the country’s trade with Europe. We’re in a transition period which will run until the end of the year, and during that period the UK needs to negotiate a whole new trading relationship with the EU. But is that period going to be long enough to get everything sorted out? There is an option to extend the transition period, but what difference would that actually make? And how might the COVID-19 pandemic impact on the negotiations?
29 May 2020
COVID-19 has had a profound effect on trade. A global recession is always going to have an impact on trade volumes, but this pandemic has had the effect of completely choking off demand for some goods and services, while pushing demand for others through the roof. And that has posed acute trade policy challenges. Is it ever right to impose controls on exports of sensitive products? Were we naive to put so much faith in global markets and the ability to source the goods and services we need from around the world? And when the pandemic finally starts to ease, what sort of a global trading system will we be left with?
Trade in services is generally reckoned to account for about 80% of the UK economy. The UK financial services sector alone makes a contribution to the economy that is worth the equivalent of the entire GDP or Bulgaria and Croatia combined. So why do we hear so little about services in the context of the trade negotiations that are just getting underway with the EU and the US? Is the UK missing a trick?
26 March 2020
For many people, the idea that the National Health Service may be ‘up for sale’ in the UK’s upcoming international trade negotiations is a cause of great anxiety. But what does that phrase even mean? The NHS offers a massive range of services, from brain surgery to cleaning the hospital windows. So if any of these services are subcontracted, who is allowed to bid for them? To what extent do health care services form part of the discussions in international trade negotiations, such as the one the UK has recently commenced with the US? And are there international rules about what can, or should, or may not be on the table?
19 March 2020
For the past few years, the United States and China have been at each other’s throats, with the Trump administration slapping a series of punitive tariffs on Chinese imports and Beijing responding with its own retaliatory measures. The US accuses China of not playing fair when it comes to global trade. So what is it that China has done to incur the wrath of the White House? What lies behind the tensions between Washington and Beijing? And why should Europe care about what is going on? Are there opportunities that UK businesses could exploit, or will UK exporters just get caught in the crossfire?
17 March 2020
Back in early February, the Department for International Trade announced that it was seeking the views of stakeholders on what sort of tariffs the UK should apply on its imports of goods. As an EU member, the UK applied the same tariffs as the rest of the EU, but as from next year it can do what it likes tariff-wise. So is this a chance for ‘Global Britain’ to tear away the protectionist trappings of the EU and embrace the free market at last? Or might Britain’s manufacturing and agricultural industries want to retain some tariff protection against cheaper imports from overseas? And how do UK import tariffs actually affect businesses, consumers and the UK economy?
After almost half a century as an EU member state, the UK is about to become an autonomous member of the World Trade Organisation (WTO). For some, this represents an exciting opportunity. But what is the value of WTO membership? And given the multiple challenges that the rules-based trading system is facing at present, can Britain be a force for good in securing a more reliable trading environment?
5 March 2020
The question of the Irish border has always been one of the most contentious issues in the Brexit negotiations between the UK and the EU. Boris Johnson has claimed that his Brexit deal is the best of all worlds, maintaining frictionless trade between Northern Ireland and the Republic, and Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK. But is this case? What does the settlement reached in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement actually mean for trade between Great Britain, Northern Ireland, the Irish Republic and the rest of the EU?
27 February 2020
Now that the UK has left the European Union, the Government has promised to complete a whole string of Free Trade Agreements with the EU, the United States, and various other trading partners around the world. But is there a catch to doing these negotiations? Are there trade-offs involved – and what are they likely to be? And how easy will it be to work towards a closer trade relationship with the rest of the world, while still in the process of disengaging from the EU?
20 February 2020
Boris Johnson promised to ‘get Brexit done’ when he won the UK General Election in December 2019 – and on one level he achieved that aim on 31 January. However, there is still much to be decided as the UK begins the process of disengaging from the EU. Can a Free Trade Agreement between the two sides be achieved by the transition deadline of 31 December? What happens if a deal can’t be struck? Does the Brexit cliff-edge loom once more?
13 February 2020
As the UK enters the post-Brexit transition period, Boris Johnson has made clear that a trade deal with the US is as big a priority, if not more so, than a deal with the EU. But are Britain and America natural trade partners? What benefits could a transatlantic trade deal deliver? And what about chlorinated chicken?
This podcast is brought to you by the UK Trade Policy Observatory, in association with Borderlex.