29 July 2021
Yohannes Ayele is Research Fellow in the Economics of Brexit at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO.
Since 1 January 2021, the UK’s trading relationship with its biggest and closest trading partner—the EU—has been governed by the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA). Under the TCA, UK exports to the EU face zero-tariff and zero-quota. However, to claim zero tariffs, exporters must meet the rules of origin requirements and be able to provide proof of origin. Where exporters do not meet the requirements they end up paying the tariff. Even those exporters that can meet the rules of origin requirement, because of the cost of the paperwork and requirements for proof of origin needed to claim the zero tariff, they may instead choose to pay the tariff. The latter is more likely where the tariff preference margin (i.e., the difference between MFN non-zero tariff and the zero-tariff under TCA) is very low. These problems— the rules of origin requirements and costs associated to claim zero-tariff—could be particularly challenging for smaller companies. Therefore, in practice, firms may end up paying tariffs despite the zero-tariff and zero-quota deal under the TCA. (more…)
George Meredith July 29th, 2021
Posted In: UK- EU
23 July 2021
Nicolo Tamberi is Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex and a fellow of the UKTPO.
We have updated our estimates of the effects of the introduction of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) on UK-EU trade in 2021 through to April. The methodology used was described in the UKTPO briefing paper 57 (see the appendix for details). We find that over the period January-April 2021, the TCA reduced UK exports to the EU by 18.7% and imports from the EU by 25.8% compared to the scenario in which the UK did not leave the EU.
For the analysis, we used HMRC for UK trade and Eurostat data for EU trade excluding gold from both exports and imports (HS code 7108). Over the last few months, analysts and commentators have noted a big gap between UK exports to the EU as reported by the UK and the corresponding flows reported by the EU (that is, UK exports to the EU reported by the UK and EU imports from the UK reported by Eurostat). We have investigated the issue in detail in our latest working paper and concluded that we agreed with the ONS that UK reported data should be used instead of the EU reported mirror flows. While both the UK and the EU changed the data collection method for UK-EU trade in 2021, the changes undertaken by the EU in its reported imports are larger than those of UK reported exports.
As always, these data are provisional and could be revised in the future, so our results should not be interpreted as definitive. Our preferred estimation, which uses the synthetic control method, shows that UK exports to the EU have been dramatically affected in January 2021 (-42%) and we find some milder evidence that they were negatively affected also in April 2021 (-14.3%). Adding up the period January-April 2021, UK exports to the EU were down by 18.7%. On the other hand, UK imports from the EU saw a smaller drop in January 2021, but they remained consistently below expectations for all months of 2021 to date. Over the entire period January-April 2021, UK imports have been 25.8% less than what they would have been otherwise. This can be seen in the figures below where the blue line depicts what actually happened, the orange lines give our counterfactual synthetic control estimates for what would have happened in the absence of Brexit.
The figures show actual UK exports to and imports from the EU excluding gold (HS 7108) and the synthetic series. We estimated the model for UK trade with each EU country and then aggregated the figure to EU total.
It is clear that over the period there has been a decline in exports and imports. The decline in imports appears to have been more consistent than the impact on exports and at this stage that is still somewhat puzzling. These are also still ‘early’ impacts as they only for the first four months.
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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Charlotte Humma July 23rd, 2021
Posted In: UK- EU
Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics and Director of the UKTPO. Yohannes Ayele is Research Fellow in the Economics of Brexit at the University of Sussex and Fellow of the UKTPO.
A decline in trade with the EU was expected following the coming into force of the Trade and Cooperation Agreement between the UK and the EU on the 1st of January. Nevertheless, when the UK January trade figures were released in early March, almost unanimously commentators were surprised by the extent of the decline. We now have the data for February and so in this blog we update the numbers and discuss their significance. (more…)
George Meredith April 20th, 2021
Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics and Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory at the University of Sussex. Suzannah Walmsley is Principal Consultant and Fisheries and Aquaculture Business Development Manager at ABPmer.
Last week the UK’s trade data for January 2021 came out and the evidence was pretty striking. It showed a dramatic decline in UK exports and imports in January, and particularly so with the EU. Now some of this will have been driven by Covid-related lockdown restrictions, and some of the dramatic fall in trade with the EU itself may have been driven by firms’ stockpiling in November and December to protect themselves against the much-publicised potential border difficulties arising from the UK’s exit from the EU and the end of the transition period.
In this blog we dig a bit deeper into those numbers and focus just on fisheries. (more…)
George Meredith March 23rd, 2021
Simon Evenett is Professor of International Trade and Economic Development at the University of St. Gallen, and coordinator of the Global Trade Alert. He is an Associate Fellow of the UKTPO. L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the UKTPO.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted trade policy, along with everything else. As nations scrambled this year to source medical supplies – equipment, drugs and personal protective equipment – 89 governments imposed 154 restrictions on exports. What is much less well known is that 154 reforms easing imports of these goods were implemented by 104 nations too. It took a pandemic for some policymakers to grasp that taxing imported soap makes no sense.
As well as up-ending trade in the medical goods, these policy shifts have the unintended consequence of providing the foundation for a new trade bargain between nations over medical supplies. As a sizeable and reliable exporter of these goods this matters for the UK and comes at the time when British ministers and officials want to showcase an independent trade policy. It is at times like these—when the big beasts of the world trading system are at loggerheads—that, traditionally, the free trading so-called middle powers lay the groundwork for the next trade deals. (more…)
George Meredith June 12th, 2020
L. Alan Winters CB is Professor of Economics and Director of the UKTPO. Mattia Di Ubaldo is a Research Fellow in the Economics of European Trade Policies, and Palitha Konara is a Senior Lecturer in International Business at the University of Sussex. Both are Fellows of the UKTPO.
COVID-19 and Brexit may appear as independent shocks but, in fact, they are interrelated. First, as the UKTPO and many others have argued, because COVID has disrupted the preparation for and conduct of negotiations on the future UK-EU trading arrangements, the UK government should ask for an extension to the transition period. This would allow the UK and EU to work out details of mutual cooperation that will be beneficial on both sides of the channel. (more…)
George Meredith May 27th, 2020
An international agreement on vital medical goods that keeps import restrictions low and constrains the use of export bans could help ensure all countries have sufficient supplies for the fight against Coronavirus, our new briefing paper proposes.
According to the report, which was produced in collaboration with Global Trade Alert, a global bargain where exporting nations give assurances medical supplies will not be cut off arbitrarily and importing governments agree not to re-introduce their import restrictions would remove disruption and uncertainty around the availability of life-saving goods. (more…)
George Meredith May 1st, 2020
Michael Gasiorek is Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex and a Fellow of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.
With the current state of negotiations between the UK and the EU it is easy to see why attention is focussed on the politics of a possible agreement. The contentious issue is, of course, that of the Irish border. However, the focus on the politics means that there has been little discussion of the economic impacts and specifically of the vulnerability of the Northern Irish economy to the decisions being made. (more…)
Charlotte Humma October 14th, 2019
Posted In: UK- EU
Dr Ingo Borchert is Senior Lecturer in Economics and Julia Magntorn Garrett is a Research Officer in Economics at the University of Sussex. Both are fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.
During the first round of the indicative voting process at Parliament, the motion that proposes a permanent customs union attracted the second highest number of Ayes and was rejected by the slimmest margin of all eight motions. This result shows the prevailing preoccupation with trade in merchandise goods. Amongst other things, a customs union alone does nothing for services trade. In this blog, we set out why the continued neglect of services trade is a major concern for the UK economy. A twin-jet aircraft with just one engine on would ordinarily be bound for an emergency landing rather than for a smooth journey ahead. (more…)
Charlotte Humma April 1st, 2019
Dr Emily Lydgate is a lecturer in Law, Dr Peter Holmes is a reader in Economics and Dr Michael Gasiorek is a Senior Lecturer in Economics at the University of Sussex. They are all fellows of the UK Trade Policy Observatory.
In describing the future regulatory relationship between the EU and UK, the recent UK White Paper proposes the notion of ‘equivalence’ in some areas. This may seem like a mere technical requirement, but equivalence is a loaded word in trade policy circles, and the UK government’s reliance on it bears further scrutiny.
With respect to goods, ‘equivalence’ shows up in two main ways. First, the UK states that it will maintain equivalence (rather than exact harmonisation with EU regulation) for some food policy rules in the context of a (more…)
Tina Perrett August 3rd, 2018
Posted In: UK- EU