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.
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.