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14 January 2020

Dr Anna Jerzewska is a independent customs and trade consultant, an independent advisor with the UN International Trade Centre and also a trade policy and customs consultant for the British Chambers of Commerce.

The UK is due to leave the EU on the 31st January 2020. A new stage of the Brexit process is set to begin – the transition period and negotiations of the future relationship with the EU. At the same time, work on the Northern Irish border arrangements is far from over. A newly established Joint Committee will negotiate the practicalities of implementing the Withdrawal Agreement.

Under the Withdrawal Agreement (“WA”), Northern Ireland would stay in the UK’s customs territory but would at the same time continue applying EU’s customs legislation, tariffs, quotas and, partially, EU Single Market rules. This will avoid a border on the island of Ireland but will mean a de facto customs and regulatory border in the Irish Sea. As a result of this dual status, goods shipped from Great Britain (“GB”) to Northern Ireland (“NI”) will be subject to EU tariffs if they are “at risk of subsequently being moved into the Union, whether by itself or forming part of another good following processing”[1]. What that means has not been fully defined within the text of the Agreement. Article 5(2) clarifies that all goods will be considered to be “at risk”, and thus subject to EU tariffs unless it is established that they will not be subject to commercial processing in Northern Ireland or they are otherwise exempt. This is one of the areas where the Joint Committee will need to introduce practical ways of implementing the agreement. (more…)

January 14th, 2020

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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26 September 2019

Dr Peter Holmes is Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex, Director of Interanalysis and Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory. Interview by Kate Beaumont. This article was first published on Lexis®PSL Commercial on 5 September 2019.  

How will the establishment of free ports enable the UK to benefit from Brexit trade opportunities? Dr Peter Holmes, reader in economics at the University of Sussex, considers the pros and cons of these special ports where normal tax and customs rules do not apply. (more…)

September 26th, 2019

Posted In: UK - Non EU, UK- EU

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Image of Alan Winters03 July 2019

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

Last week I was challenged twice for using the term ‘no deal’. There is no such thing, I was told, because, even if the UK does not ratify the Withdrawal Agreement of 25th November 2018, there will still be plenty of deals. At the time I thought, for several reasons, that this was wrong in substance if not literally, but more recently I have concluded that it is also dangerous.  Like we saw in the referendum campaign, it undermines informed debate by deliberately confusing the terminology.

‘The deal’ is an agreement between the EU and the UK ‘setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union’ (Article 50 – Treaty on European Union). ‘No deal’ is the absence of such a deal. For business and the economy, ‘no deal’ has come to mean the absence of a trade agreement under which the UK and the EU trade with each other on terms better than those provided for under the World Trade Organization. The former ‘no deal’ implies the latter – as I argue below – but the reverse is not true. (more…)

July 3rd, 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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16 November 2018

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

The UK Cabinet has signed off the draft EU Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and the Political Declaration (PD) about the future UK-EU trade relationship. The WA has had such a rocky reception in the Conservative Party that the future path of decision-making is a bit uncertain, but it is likely that these documents will also be agreed by the EU summit later this month. The decision-making then passes one way or another to the UK Parliament. Politics has dominated this week’s debates, but decisions need to be informed by economic assessment. Let’s consider the economic costs and benefits of the choices which Parliament will have to make.

(more…)

November 16th, 2018

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Image of Alan Winters9 July 2018

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

The (three page) Chequers Statement is a remarkable political sticking plaster. Coupled with some robust politics it appeared to have kept the Cabinet unified for a few more days, although now even that goal has been missed.

This note is not about the politics, but about the technical aspects of the Statement which is replete with ambiguities and wishful thinking (or worse). The White Paper, if it arrives on time, may resolve some of these ambiguities, but that is far from clear, given the political imperatives that Mrs May feels must guide her actions. (more…)

July 9th, 2018

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Image of Alasdair Smith11 June 2018

Alasdair Smith is an Emeritus Professor of Economics and Dr Peter Holmes is Reader in Economics at the University of Sussex. They are both Fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.

On June 7, after prolonged internal discussion, the UK government published its paper proposing the extension to the whole UK of the ‘backstop’ provision in the EU draft withdrawal agreement to incorporate Northern Ireland (NI) into the EU’s customs territory until another solution can be found for the problem of the Irish border. The UK is unenthusiastic about the backstop and hopes it will not be needed, but wants any backstop to cover the whole UK, so as to avoid the need for border inspections of trade between NI and the rest of the UK (GB). Perhaps surprisingly, the government paper does not address the fact that the EU’s proposal is for NI to be included in a ‘common regulatory area’ as well as in a de facto customs union: any backstop needs to deal with regulation as well as customs. (more…)

June 11th, 2018

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