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12 September 2022

Michael Gasiorek is Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory and Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex Business School.

Once again, the UK has a new Prime Minister, a new cabinet, and thus a new Secretary of State for International Trade. This is the 4th Secretary of State for trade in five years! (more…)

September 12th, 2022

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU, Uncategorised

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22 August 2022

Peter Holmes is a Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory and Emeritus Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex Business School. Guillermo Larbalestier is Research Assistant in International Trade at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO.

After time in the shade, Freeports are back in the news. The policy has been embraced and a subject of discourse by both PM candidates, Rishi Sunak and Liz Truss, as part of their “benefits from Brexit” claims and “levelling up” strategies. There has also recently been concern by some commentators that Freeports risk becoming ‘Charter Cities’. (more…)

August 22nd, 2022

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18 July 2022

Michael Gasiorek is Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory and Co-Director of the Centre for Inclusive Trade Policy. He is Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex Business School.

Boris Johnson was elected on the slogan and promise of ‘Get Brexit Done’. It is perhaps somewhat ironic, then, to see disagreement between the contenders to succeed him as to whether Brexit has actually yet been done. (more…)

July 18th, 2022

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31 May 2022

Ruby Acquah and Mattia Di Ubaldo are Fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory and Research Fellows in Economics at the University of Sussex Business School

Tensions over the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) have intensified as the UK Government (henceforth HMG) announced plans to introduce legislation that would enable it to disapply parts of the Protocol.  The UK has often demanded the re-negotiation of the NIP due to its economic costs, and a too strict application by the EU. Recently, Assembly elections in Northern Ireland escalated the urgency of resolving the issue, as the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) is currently refusing, as part of its protest against the NIP, to participate in the power-sharing executive. (more…)

May 31st, 2022

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Share this article: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail23 May 2022

Peter Holmes is a Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory and Emeritus Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex Business School

UK trade with Europe has significantly fallen off (see UKTPO BP 63 for an early assessment). UK GDP has fallen by 4%. If we cancel the Northern Ireland Protocol (NIP) – which is all the talk at the moment – the economic consequences of Brexit will get worse and let’s not even think about the political consequences. Is any of this fixable? Yes, if we look ahead to 2025 when the Brexit agreement with the EU—formally known as the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) —is up for its 5-yearly review. UK stakeholders, including political parties planning their manifestoes ahead of the next UK general election in 2024, should consider their Brexit positions now – but it’s not a case of leave or remain, rather a case of ‘tweak the Brexit agreement to something that better suits us’. (more…)

May 23rd, 2022

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Share this article: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail10 March 2022 Photo of Emily Lydgate

Emily Lydgate is Senior Lecturer in Law at the University of Sussex and Chloe Anthony is a Doctoral Researcher and Tutor at the University of Sussex Law School 

From chlorinated chicken to sausage wars, food law has been highly contested in defining the UK’s post-Brexit direction. Not only is it seen as vulnerable to deregulation through trade agreements, the UK has faced new trade barriers with the EU and between Great Britain and Northern Ireland. These have concerned regulatory issues and have had an enormous impact on food trade. While much attention has rightly focused on Northern Ireland, departure from the EU’s regulatory union has provided a steep challenge in the rest of Great Britain, too. Food law is a devolved matter and Scotland has passed legislation setting out its intent to continue aligning with EU law, including for food law. (more…)

March 10th, 2022

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Image of Alan Winters8 November 2021

L. Alan Winters is Professor of Economics and Founding Director of the UKTP0 and Guillermo Larbalestier is Research Assistant in International Trade at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO.

Key Findings:

  • To date, the UK government has signed no new trade agreements relative to what it would have had as a continuing member of the EU.
  • The Government estimates that the two agreements in principle announced this year (Australia and New Zealand) will increase UK Gross Domestic Product by between £200 and £500 million annually – that is, 0.01% to 0.02% (one to two ten-thousandths) of GDP or between £3 and £7 per head of population – and that only after they have bedded down over 15 years or so .

We were asked to sum up the economic benefits of the UK’s new post-Brexit trade agreements. Our first observation is that if we take as a starting point the trade agreements that the UK would have been party to as a member of the EU, the government has, to date, signed no new trade agreements! (more…)

November 8th, 2021

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Image of Alan Winters22 July 2021

Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory (UKTPO) at the University of Sussex. L. Alan Winters is Professor of Economics and Founding Director of the UKTPO.

The UK Government’s command paper on Northern Ireland published yesterday (21 July 2021) is significant in four regards.

First, because it explicitly recognises – at length – that the Protocol is not working (at least not for the UK) and needs to be modified in form or in implementation. This is almost certainly correct. (more…)

July 22nd, 2021

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Share this article: Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail13 March 2021

Yohannes Ayele is Research Fellow in the Economics of Brexit, Nicolo Tamberi is Research Officer in Economics, and Guillermo Larbalestier is Research Assistant in International Trade at the University of Sussex. All are Fellows of the UKTPO.

On Friday 12 March, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) and HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) released the UK’s trade in goods figures for January 2021, providing data for the first month following the end of the Brexit transition period. The ONS has provided their own interpretation of these data portraying a rather gloomy scene for UK trade. We have downloaded the raw data and here offer some initial thoughts on what we learn from the changes in trade flows in January 2021. (more…)

March 15th, 2021

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Share this article: FacebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailImage of Alan Winters4 December 2019

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

The Prime Minister seems to think that an ‘oven-ready’ Brexit deal is the best that we can choose from the menu of policy alternatives. It sounds neither appetising nor nourishing, but if it really were quick and easy, maybe it would be worth it.

But it’s not quick or easy: ‘oven-ready’ is just not true.

It is true that a Withdrawal Agreement exists and could be put to Parliament in December, but even that is not ready-to-go and passing the Withdrawal Agreement is not the same as Brexit. A couple of examples of how the Withdrawal Agreement is part-baked:

  • The financial settlement (the price tag) is not specified.
  • The Conservative manifesto promises Northern Ireland ‘unfettered access’ to the market in Great Britain. Launching it, two Cabinet Ministers said ‘There will never be any fees or tariffs on goods flowing between Northern Ireland and Great Britain and vice versa … .’ In fact, the Withdrawal Agreement clearly states that many goods flowing between Great Britain and Northern Ireland will face tariffs (at EU levels!) and the Brexit Secretary conceded in Parliament that there would be forms to fill for any goods flowing the other way.

Passing the Withdrawal Agreement and exiting on 31st January 2020, is just the start of a complex negotiation between the UK and the EU, which will be painful, long-lived and probably chaotic.

First, consider the parties.

For the EU, the negotiations will take place under Articles 207 and 218 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU, which govern negotiations with countries outside the EU, and which have a far more demanding process for approval than the Withdrawal Agreement. The member-states have to agree to any deal unanimously and if the deal spreads into areas which are still governed by the States themselves (some services and investment), each will have to go through a ratification process that may involve their national and regional parliaments. The EU’s agreement with Canada, which took seven years to negotiate, was held up for nearly a year because the Wallonian Parliament declined to agree.

On the UK side, there has been no effort to spell out the implications of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that Mr Johnson wants, let alone the one he will get. For example, Michael Gove claimed on 26th November that because there was effectively no EU Single Market in services, UK services firms will suffer no adverse effects from Brexit with an FTA. Wrong! OECD has shown that EU barriers to service imports from third countries are, on average, four times higher than those between members. Canada failed to get much in services from the EU after seven years negotiating; the same will apply to us.

Second, consider the commitment to get it all done by December 2020. Any deadline puts pressure on both parties, but particularly the one with more at stake (the UK). The default at the end of 2020 is not the status quo but a ‘no deal’ Brexit, so the cliff-edge that plagued the March and October 2019 deadlines will be repeated.

Third, the content: we may agree to keep zero tariffs on all goods, but there will still be border formalities. In order to claim tariff exemptions, UK exporters will have to prove that their goods are substantially made in the UK. Most commentators reckon that together these frictions add perhaps 4% or 5% to the cost of exports. We may be able to negotiate better conditions than average, but not by December.

Worse than tariffs will be regulations.

First, UK exporters will have to prove that their goods meet EU standards. It doesn’t matter that the UK says they do, they have to prove it. Where standards are critical, either the UK government will have to enforce EU regulations throughout the UK (which a Johnson government won’t) or exporters will have to obtain certification from an EU-approved inspection agency. If that task is to be done in the UK, it needs to be negotiated.

If the EU is to give up its tariff protection, it will want to know that UK firms are not obtaining ‘unfair’ competitive advantages through lax labour or environmental rules or through subsidies or violations of competition law. (These are the so-called level-playing field conditions.) The current government clearly hates such constraints, but the EU will not commit to free trade without some such commitments – result impasse. Mr Johnson’s casual suggestion on 29th November that the UK relax EU rules on state-aid to companies will make this doubly difficult.

Finally, there are issues strictly lying outside an FTA, but which will inevitably be bound up with it. For example, whether airlines based in the UK can fly between EU cities and whether EU fishermen get access to UK waters in return for the UK selling its fish in the EU.

You can’t help feeling that it is us, the British public, that is oven-ready, who are going to get ‘done’.

We will have a torrid 2020 deciding what we want of an FTA and a worse time getting even a part of it. Much will remain undone by December 2020, and so the subsequent years will be spent trying to patch up the holes, one-by-one from a position of weakness. The UK will spend five years trying to restore commercial relations with the EU and still end up with something a lot less satisfactory for traders than we have at present.

This blog was first published by Remain United.

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The opinions expressed in this blog are those of the author alone and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the University of Sussex or UK Trade Policy Observatory.

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December 4th, 2019

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